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What is Superinsulation?

M. McGee
M. McGee

Superinsulation is a building method that focuses on the retention of heat and cold to limit the use of heating systems and air conditioners. The process revolves around using building methods that hold in as much generated temperature as possible while using complex ventilation systems to move air from one area to another. This will essentially move hot air to cooler places and equalize the temperature in the house. The overall goal is keeping climate control costs down by running the control systems as little as possible.

The cornerstone to a superinsulation system is the insulation itself. A superinsulated home requires very thick insulation, particularly on external walls, in the roof and in the foundation. These thick insulation layers will keep the temperature inside the house stable, even when the weather outside is not. The insulation used in these homes is generally thicker and more effective than standard insulation. While this insulation costs more, the lower heating costs generally pays for it within a few years.


The building needs to be as close to airtight as possible. The more air that comes in or goes out of the home, the more heat is lost. When a house is very close to airtight, the internal pressure is often higher than the pressure outside. This exacerbates any leaks in the house and causes warm air to escape faster until the pressure begins to equalize.

Next, the doors and windows need to be of the proper type and construction for superinsulation. First, the windows need at least triple-pane glass and should be as small as possible. The glass will help retain temperature and the size will limit outside exposure. Doors need a seal placed around them to prevent drafts from entering the house. If at all possible, there should be two doors between the inside and outside, such as a small entrance way or coat room.

If the superinsulation design is followed properly, the building will retain generated heat, such as that coming from people or electronics, in high enough quantities to keep the structure warm. Only in the coldest periods would the house require the use of an external heat generator. In the event of a power failure, the house will remain warm for far longer than a conventional home.

When a building is first constructed, it is easier to follow some of the more unusual guidelines and specifications for superinsulation, making it the best time to set up the system. If a house is already built, it is possible to retrofit its design. This can be very expensive and typically requires changing the windows and walls to accommodate the new approach.

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