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The transfer of heat by contact with solid objects, such as the ceiling, walls, or floor is called conduction (see Figure 1).
The transfer of heat by movement through gases or liquids, such as the air or water, is called convection (see Figure 2). Although insulation can slow all three types of heat flow, its greatest impact is on conduction.
Insulation in the attic is critical because more heat per square foot travels through your ceiling than any other structure in a house. Typically, current best home building practices indicate an R-30 to R-38 for attic insulation. The effectiveness of an insulated wall or ceiling also depends on how and where the insulation is installed. The key to an effective insulation system is proper installation of quality insulation products. Remember, the R-value for any material depends on the type and thickness of the insulation.
Polyisocyanurate (ISO board), extruded polystyrene (XPS or blueboard), expanded polystyrene (EPS or beadboard), or other materials are usually found in rigid board form.
Insulation comes in many forms including: blankets (rolls), batts, rigid foam boards, loose fill, high density damp spray, blown-in-blanket, and spray foams. Your choice of insulation depends on how much space you have for insulation, the bulk density of the materials (weight per volume) so your ceilings won’t sag with the additional weight, how easy the space is to access, how much money you can spend, how easy would it be to replace the insulation in case you had a roof or wall leak, and whether you are building a new home or improving an existing home.
If designing a new home with an unvented attic, the air permeability of the insulation may dictate condensation control requirements as found in the Florida Building Code.
Seal all openings and cracks along the ceiling, light fixtures, and top and sole plates with the appropriate product(s) before installing insulation. Unless specifically denoted on recessed light fixtures, bare stove pipes, motors, or any other equipment, always install insulation clear and away from heat sources to reduce the risk of equipment failure or fire. To reduce insulation degradation, provide easy access to all parts of the attic and fasten wiring, cables, and other systems above the insulation accessible by a service easement platform. Properly insulating your home will not only help reduce your heating and cooling costs but also make your home feel more comfortable.
Life-cycle analysis, environmental impact, and human health issues associated with the resource extraction, manufacture, use, and disposal of insulation are also important considerations. Additionally, for companies and consumers with concerns about false advertising, improper installation and other related insulation considerations, there is a Federal Trade Commission Rule designed to protect you (Title 16 – Commercial Practices, Part 460 – Labeling and Advertising of Home Insulation). Before building a new home or adding insulation to an existing home, do the research to help you make the best decision for your home, wallet and the environment as lower utility costs will mean less need for power from your utility company and therefore less use of our natural resources.
Find information on degrees and certifications in energy.  Get tuition and information on scholarships, internships, college rankings, career options and industry resources.
Graduate study and research fellowship opportunities available at the Science, Technology and Environmental Policy (STEP) program at University of Minnesota. POST a QUESTION or READ FAQs about how to diagnose and repair air conditioning and heat pump systems. What are the Parts of an Air Conditioning or Heat Pump System & How do Air Conditioners & Heat Pumps Work? If your air conditioner or heat pump system is not working, start at LOST COOLING CAPACITY for help in diagnosing and repairing the trouble. A detailed list and photos of air conditioner components can be seen at AIR CONDITIONER COMPONENT PARTS.
A air conditioning or heat pump compressor which compresses low pressure refrigerant gas into a high pressure, high temperature gas. The air conditioner or heat pump compressor unit is basically a high pressure pump driven by an electric motor. A condenser or condensing unit: typically a condensing coil inside which high temperature high pressure refrigerant gas flows, and over which a fan blows air to cool the refrigerant gas back to a liquid state (thus transferring heat from the refrigerant gas to the air being blown by the fan). An evaporator coil or cooling coil: typically the cooling coil is a section of finned tubing (it looks a lot like a car radiator) into which liquid refrigerant is metered and permitted to evaporate from liquid to gas state inside the coil. Evaporative cooling systems, or swamp coolers are discussed separately at EVAPORATIVE COOLING SYSTEMS. An air handler and blower unit which provides a fan to blow building air across or through the evaporator coil.
A duct system which distributes conditioned air from the air handler in to the occupied space (supply ducts), and which takes air from the occupied space and returns it to the cooling system air handler. Details of how heat pumps work, are inspected, diagnosed, and repaired begin at HEAT PUMPS. Air conditioner controls and features, which include a room thermostat, electrical switches, fuses or circuit breakers, condensate handling system, and air filters.
After completing the programs below, new technicians generally need between 6 months to 2 years of field experience before they are considered proficient.
HVAC Excellence is a not for profit organization that has been serving the HVACR industry since 1994.
NCCER is a not-for-profit education foundation created to develop industry-driven standardized craft training programs with portable credentials and help address the critical workforce shortage facing the construction industry.
In addition, all technicians who purchase or work with refrigerants must be certified in their proper handling.
NOTE: when considering an HVAC training course or school, check the HVAC education accrediting associations listed above. NATE is supported by ASHRAE, the US EPA, and a host of other trade and professional associations. Features covered in depth include: descriptions of typical styles, characteristics and requirements, testing, listing, reporting, certifying, packaging and product marking.


Guidelines for proper installation are treated and illustrated in depth, featuring connections, splices and proper support methods for flexible duct. NOTE: because Wikipedia entries are fluid and can be amended in real time, we cite the retrieval date of Wikipedia citations and we do not assert that the information found there is necessarily authoritative. Our recommended books about building & mechanical systems design, inspection, problem diagnosis, and repair, and about indoor environment and IAQ testing, diagnosis, and cleanup are at the InspectAPedia Bookstore. Complete List of Air Conditioning & Heat Pump Design, Inspection, Repair Books at the InspectAPedia Bookstore. The Illustrated Home illustrates construction details and building components, a reference for owners & inspectors. In Florida, this often means heat is flowing from a warm outdoors to an air-conditioned indoors.
This resistance, or R-value, refers to the performance of insulation by measuring the resistance to heat flowing through the insulation over time. In addition, health and comfort factors are greatly influenced by how readily heat moves through a building and its exterior shell, called an envelope.
A good thermal barrier along a building envelope, such as high R-value insulation in the walls, attic, and raised floors, as well as multi-paned glass, help to reduce conduction. Although forces such as wind and mechanical fans can move air—and the heat it contains—in any direction, warmer air tends to rise. Lack of having a complete air barrier at the same location as the insulation barrier causes heat loss and gain from convection. Solar radiation heats home surfaces during the day, while at night homes radiate heat to the cold sky.
The overall R-value of thermal insulation depends on the type of material along with the thickness. The easiest and most cost-effective way to insulate your home is to add insulation in the attic. If you’re unsure about what type of insulation already exists in your home, take a sample to an insulation expert. A building should have a continuous layer of insulation around the entire building envelope—with no gaps or compression. However, in most areas of Florida it is rarely, if ever, cost effective to add wall insulation to an existing home. One way is to turn off the electricity, once you have permission (if needed) and all safety considerations have been met.
Fiberglass is the most common type of insulation, manufactured from sand and recycled glass.
If building a new home, you may consider installing insulation on the underside of the roof decking and sealing the attic space creating an “unvented” attic.
However, adequate insulation must be combined with proper air sealing and moisture control measures to ensure optimal occupant comfort. See the Environmental Building News (EBN) article in the resources section for a good overview.
When looking for upfront financial incentives related to renewable energy and efficiency, visit the Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency (DSIRE) website and enter your zip code. Detailed information about air conditioning purchase, installation, troubleshooting & repair is provided here - CONTACT us if you can't find something.
Usually the compressor is in the outdoor portion of an air conditioning or heat pump system. The condenser unit is basically a coil of finned tubing and a fan to blow air across the coil. The change of state of the refrigerant, from hot high pressure gas to a liquid releases heat, including heat collected inside the building) to the outdoors. This state change of the refrigerant, from liquid to gas, absorbs heat, cooling the evaporator coil surface and thus cooling indoor air blown across the cooling coil. The air handler blower fan unit moves building air across the evaporator coil surface in order to condition building air by cooling it (and thus also by removing moisture from the cooled air). So in air conditioning mode the heat pump is moving heat from inside the building to outdoors while in heating mode the heat pump is moving heat from outdoor air (or water in some designs) to the building interior. We explain how to inspect & repair central air conditioning systems and for homeowners we also answer basic HVAC questions such as what are the basic air conditioning components?
Department of Labor website describes HVAC jobs and the employment outlook for HVAC technicians. It is our goal to improve competency through validation of the technical education process. This programmatic accreditation program is the only one that is supported by the major industry associations.
The text is intended as a reference guide to help building owners operate and maintain their home effectively. An insulation with greater resistance (higher R-value) to heat flow means that less heat enters your home during warm months and less heat leaves your home in the cool months, when you are heating the interior space. Some insulation products include an air barrier that must be sealed at the edges to reduce convective heat movement.
The night sky radiation and radiation between your body and room surfaces is referred to as long wave radiation. When calculating the R-value of a multi-layered installation, the R-values of the individual layers are added. You can measure attic insulation thickness with a ruler and multiply the number of inches by the R-value of that particular insulation to get an insulation rating.
Climate Zone 1 consists of the following south Florida counties: Broward, Collier, Hendry, Lee, Miami-Dade, Monroe, and Palm Beach, and require a minimum R-30 attic insulation.


Also, the overall R-value of a wall or ceiling will be somewhat different from the R-value of the insulation itself because some heat flows around the insulation through the studs and joists in wood- or steel-framed construction (thermal bridging). Before considering this option, check the ductwork and heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) equipment to determine if the problem is HVAC-related. Using a screwdriver, remove the cover on the electrical outlets (or phone jacks) located on exterior walls. Spray foams such as urethanes and polyicynene are also available with R-values from 3 to 6 per inch. This approach is permitted in the Florida Building Code and requires certain conditions are met regarding insulation air -permeability and the attic’s air barrier.
You can also search, by zip code, for special offers and rebates as related to ENERGY STAR certified insulation products here.
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Usually the condenser unit is in the outdoor portion of an air conditioning system, often packaged along with the compressor motor discussed above. Because the ability of a heat pump to extract heat from outdoor air diminishes at low outdoor temperatures, heat pump systems in northern climates also include a backup or auxiliary heating system.
By setting standards and verifying that they have been met, we inspire the industry to excel. Any breaks in an air barrier between conditioned and non-conditioned space may allow heat to bypass the insulation and cause an increased use of energy.
In general, white and light-colored materials tend to reflect more solar radiation than dark materials.
The Department of Energy’s Insulation Fact Sheet provides information on how to determine the R-value using this technique. All other Florida counties are considered to be in Climate Zone 2 and require a minimum R-38. Studies show that an improperly installed thermal envelope can reduce the overall performance by 30 percent or more.
Additionally, an inadequate air barrier may be contributing to the problem by allowing air to leak into or out of your home. Batts are made to fit between the studs in walls or between the joists of ceilings or floors. Neither the site sponsor, nor its developers, are responsible for, and expressly disclaim all liability for, damages of any kind arising out of use, reference to, or reliance upon, any information contained within this web site. We know that all of the challenges that face our industry are achievable by continuous improvement in the way that we prepare technicians. Special Offer: For a 10% discount on any number of copies of the Home Reference Book purchased as a single order. In two-story homes, floor joists are not always sealed off from adjacent attic spaces over one-story spaces and attic air is right next to the ceiling. Long wave radiation depends on a material’s surface emissivity which is not visible to the human eye. Certain conditions may exist in the home, such as cathedral ceilings, that may limit the ability to meet these R-values. Cellulose is made from recycled newsprint and cotton is often made from post-industrial recycled cloth like denim–both are usually treated with fire-retardant chemicals. Rigid board insulation is intended for use in confined spaces such as exterior walls and cathedral ceilings.
Make certain your ceiling or walls can handle any additional weight from added insulation before installation. By viewing this site, you expressly agree that use of any information available through this web site or other internet resource accessible through this web site, is for personal use and utilized at your own risk. Thanks to Alan Carson and Bob Dunlop, for permission for InspectAPedia to use text excerpts from The Home Reference Book & illustrations from The Illustrated Home. It is very important to understand that how insulation is installed is almost as important as the R-value. Carson Dunlop Associates' provides extensive home inspection education and report writing material. In northern homes the surface coating is designed to keep long wave radiation from escaping through the window.
Insulation that is compressed or installed with gaps will not function at its rated efficiency.
Special Offer: For a 5% discount on any number of copies of the Home Reference eBook purchased as a single order.
In southern homes the coating is designed to prevent solar radiation from coming into the home.
The same is true if spray foams are not applied to the required depth to achieve the desired R-value. For more information on insulation materials, where applicable, installation method and advantages, see Types of Insulation.
When making your choice of insulation products, look for ENERGY STAR® certified insulation by clicking on the Browse Energy Star Certified Insulation Products link from this web page.



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