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New requirements when modernising homes

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This year, anyone planning to build a home or make a thermal upgrade needs to consider an additional factor – the new energy efficiency requirements for buildings. Although the change has been announced, confusion can be expected. So it’s worth double-checking your design and building materials to make sure your home will meet the new standards.

– The new technical requirements came into force on 1 January 2021. One of the most important changes concerns the so-called heat transfer coefficient. It sounds complicated, but to put it simply, it is a data which allows us to determine how much heat will “escape” through walls, roof and floors. The change in regulations means that less heat will “escape”, so the value of heat transfer coefficient for a given building will have to be lower, explains Dariusz Pruszkowski, a technical advisor at Styropmin, a company producing the most popular insulation material – foamed polystyrene.

Therefore, when thinking how to make the heat penetrate outside as little as possible, one should take into account the type of partition, i.e. whether it is a wall, roof, floor, the size of windows and doors, as well as the thickness of the insulation layer and the material used for insulation.

Plan. Time to start

The second half of winter is usually the time when we plan construction and renovation work. This is because the season starts in spring. In case of thermal insulation, it is important that the works take place in suitable weather conditions. The temperature should not be lower than 5 degrees Celsius and higher than 25 degrees Celsius. In addition, when insulating with foamed polystyrene, it is important to protect it from excessive solar radiation.

Changes in technical conditions also mean certain changes when it comes to the selection of foamed polystyrene. The effectiveness of insulation depends on two factors. Firstly, these are the parameters of the polystyrene foam and secondly, the thickness of the insulation layer. The designer should be responsible for the thickness and type of the foamed polystyrene when preparing calculations according to the new guidelines. It refers not only to newly erected buildings but also to thermomodernised ones. According to the new technical conditions, the average layer thickness will be bigger.

– It is important to remember that polystyrene foam is not the same as polystyrene foam. First of all, we have a choice between universal and passive foamed polystyrene which “retains” heat better. As a rule, therefore, the layer of passive foamed polystyrene will be thinner than the universal one but the effect as regards retaining heat in the house will be the same’, points out Dariusz Pruszkowski.

All the changes in regulations connected with energy saving are aimed at reducing the house’s demand for energy. We will also achieve this effect by choosing foamed polystyrene with regard to the needs of specific elements of the house. The better matched the material, the better the results. A great example would be polystyrene foam dedicated to areas where there is a higher risk of dampness. This concerns foundations, cellars, plinths or floors on the ground. This is where e.g. Fundamin or Hydromin will prove useful. Both have increased resistance to moisture.

– The change of technical conditions is connected with a much broader, EU-wide movement towards more economical and ecological building. It is worth taking the time to select materials, review the design, and make sure we meet the higher standards. It is also worth considering the higher costs of compliance. After all, after the initial investment, our bills will be lower later – concludes the technical advisor at Styropmin.

The heat transfer coefficient is expressed – U [W/(m2K)]. From 1 January 2021 its maximum value is:
External walls 0.20
Roofs 0.15
Floors 0.30
Windows and balcony doors 0.90

source: Styropmin

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