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How Conduction Heat Loss Can Be Prevented in Your Home, Just Like in a Thermos

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How Conduction Heat Loss Can Be Prevented in Your Home, Just Like in a Thermos Blog Feature
Eric Garcia

By: Eric Garcia on December 23rd, 2019

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You don’t fill your thermos with your morning coffee thinking it will be cold by the time you get to work.

The whole purpose of a thermos is to keep liquids warm, but how do the manufacturers stop conduction heat loss and how will this information make my home more comfortable?

Don’t worry, the Professor of Foam is holding open office hours to explain how thinking of your home as a thermos can reduce heat loss by conduction.

RetroFoam of Michigan has been helping homeowners solve their conduction and convection challenges since 2002. With that experience comes the expertise to know exactly how conduction works and how foam insulation can stop it.

What is Heat Loss by Conduction?

Conduction is the loss of heat through contact with another object.

A good example is when it’s cold outside and you decide to sit on a metal bench. The heat from your body would transfer to the cold bench.

Now that you know what heat loss from conduction is, let’s talk about how to reduce it by thinking of your home like a thermos.

How to Reduce Heat Loss by Conduction by Thinking of Your Home Like a Thermos

It may not seem like a good comparison, but the way a thermos reduces heat loss by conduction is a good example of how to avoid it in your house.

First, let’s talk about those thermoses and how their design reduces heat loss by conduction.

If you look at a thermos, it’s this huge container that only holds about 32-ounces. So basically, it looks bigger than it actually is, but this design reduces heat loss from the thermos.

The thermos manufacturer has eliminated heat loss through conduction by creating a sealed air space between the metal lining inside that makes contact with the liquid and the outside. This created air space is why those thermoses look so big.

The thermos isn’t insulated with a material inside, it’s actually insulated with that air space.

Mind blown.

Basically, no matter how cold it is outside, that cold air can’t break through the air seal inside the thermos to make your coffee cold because it isn’t making direct contact with that inner lining.

But how does this equate to reducing heat loss in your home?

Creating a barrier between the outside of your home and the inside can reduce heat loss through conduction. The next big step would be to also prevent convection, which is airflow into and out of the home.

In your home, conduction is the heat transfer from physical touch. A good example is if the siding of your home gets hot from the sun, it can then make the studs inside the walls hot. The heat then transfers to the drywall and the rest of your home.

Convection is heat transfer through airflow. This happens when it’s hot outside and there is even the slightest breeze, the hot air will get inside the home through any gaps or holes. Once inside the stud cavity, that hot air will make it into your living space. This creates a thermal bridge into and out of your home.

Both scenarios lead to an uncomfortable home.

The key to fixing this is by creating a similar barrier as the thermos, but in this case, you’re creating it with insulation.

Choosing a material like foam insulation is a good fit as it creates an air seal that prevents both convection and conduction. The foam will completely fill the cavities, so air can’t move into the previous open gaps and crevices.

Hopefully, this comparison helps you better understand what heat loss from conduction is and how you can prevent it in your home with insulation that creates an air barrier.

Creating an Air Seal in Your Home

Keeping your home comfortable comes down to creating a barrier that will reduce heat by creating an air seal.

Foam insulation not only prevents conduction, but it prevents convection as well because it stops that air movement. That’s not all foam insulation has to offer though.

While your home would be more comfortable, foam insulation can also help reduce those monthly energy bills. This is because your air conditioner or furnace won’t be running constantly in an attempt to maintain a constant and comfortable temperature.

If you want to learn more about the benefits of foam insulation, head on over to our Learning Center where you will find a ton of resources. You can also find a lot of helpful information on our YouTube channel where you can watch Foam University by RetroFoam.

Related Articles

What is Air Sealing a Home?

What is Thermal Bridging?

Foam Insulation: Keeping Your House Cool in the Summer


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About Eric Garcia

Eric brings his knowledge and training in building science, training in spray and injection foams from the manufacturers, more than 8 years installing foam insulation, as well as selling and managing in the foam insulation industry. He is also BPI and Dale Carnegie certified and has taken several building science courses including air sealing and building envelope. Eric’s responsibilities include overseeing and giving support to all of the branches of the RetroFoam of Michigan company, office, estimates, and installs. He is also the Professor of Foam on our educational YouTube series Foam University. Even when Eric is off he is usually still “working” or thinking about work, but when he can get away he enjoys camping, hiking, hunting, and woodwork.