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Improving energy efficiency with HVAC insulation

In the pursuit of energy efficiency and sustainability, the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems play a pivotal role. The demand for energy-efficient solutions is on the rise, proper insulation of HVAC systems becomes paramount. There are a range of products designed to optimise energy usage and reduce environmental impact. This article explores the importance of HVAC insulation and showcases some types of insulation materials.

What is a HVAC system?

HVAC stands for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning. It is a sophisticated network of equipment and components designed to regulate indoor environmental conditions in buildings. It encompasses heating, cooling, ventilation, and air quality control to maintain comfortable temperatures, humidity levels, and air circulation throughout various spaces. HVAC systems typically consist of furnaces or boilers for heating, air conditioners or heat pumps for cooling, ductwork for air distribution, fans for circulation, filters for air purification, and controls for system management.

The importance of HVAC insulation 

HVAC systems are essential for creating optimal indoor environments in residential, commercial, and industrial buildings, ensuring occupant comfort, health, and productivity. But they can also account for a significant portion of energy consumption in buildings. Inefficient insulation of HVAC systems can result in heat loss during the winter months and heat gain during the summer, leading to increased energy usage and higher utility bills. Additionally, poorly insulated HVAC ducts can contribute to air leakage and reduced indoor air quality.

Effective insulation not only improves energy efficiency but also enhances the overall performance and lifespan of HVAC systems. Insulating materials can be applied to ducts, pipes, and other HVAC components. By minimising heat transfer and air leakage, insulation helps maintain consistent temperatures, reduces the workload on HVAC equipment, and extends its operational life. Moreover, proper insulation can contribute to achieving green building certifications and compliance with energy efficiency regulations.

HVAC insulation criteria

When selecting insulation for your HVAC system, various factors must be taken into consideration to ensure optimal performance and longevity.

  • Operating temperature: Ensure that the insulation can effectively withstand the temperature fluctuations experienced by the HVAC system it will be applied to.
  • Moisture resistance: Select insulation with adequate moisture resistance to prevent the growth of mould and mildew, safeguarding both the system and indoor air quality.
  • Fire resistance: Depending on the location of the HVAC system, prioritise insulation with appropriate fire resistance properties to enhance safety measures.
  • Cost: Evaluate both the initial cost and potential long-term savings from improved energy efficiency when considering insulation options.
  • Availability: Opt for insulation readily accessible in the market and straightforward to install, ensuring seamless integration into your HVAC setup.

Types of duct insulation

There are different types of duct insulation materials available, such as fibreglass, spray foam, and foam boards. Each of these options has its own advantages and disadvantages, depending on the characteristics of your HVAC system and your insulation needs. The type of duct insulation is determined by the insulation area, and the type of ducts. There are different types of insulation for different applications, such as ducts and pipings. Common types are:

Fibreglass insulation

HVAC ducts are commonly insulated with fibreglass blankets, particularly in the case of flexible, tube-shaped ductwork. These fiberglass blankets are affixed using a reflective aluminum foil tape, ensuring the insulation remains in place. Fiberglass blanket insulation is favored in HVAC systems for its affordability and straightforward installation. With a high tolerance for operating temperatures and effective moisture resistance, it proves suitable for various climates, both hot and cold. Nonetheless, it possesses a modest fire resistance rating.

Cellular glass

Cellular glass, commonly known as foam glass, has emerged as a recent entrant in the HVAC insulation realm, garnering attention for its impressive attributes. Notably, it boasts a high operational temperature threshold, superb moisture resistance, and exceptional fire resistance. Its versatility extends to its ease of installation and capacity to conform to confined spaces, rendering it well-suited for application in ductwork and piping systems.

PIR boards

Polyisocyanurate (PIR) boards are prized for their excellent thermal performance and durability in HVAC insulation. These rigid foam boards are lightweight yet robust, they’re easy to handle and install on rectangular ductwork. These boards are cut on site and secured to the ductwork using aluminium foil tape (Temfoil SA30) on all joints. Where necessary, for more dense insulation an adhesive or mechanical fix can be used.


The main component of Superwool is silica (SiO2). Superwool is needled on both sides, providing it with strong structural integrity, which remains intact even after exposure to heat. It has excellent thermal insulating properties which makes it ideal for use in industrial applications at high-temperatures up to 1150°C. Additionally, its flexibility and ease of cutting and shaping contribute to its simple installation process.

Prefabricated slotted section boards

Circular ductwork often employs prefabricated slotted section boards for insulation. These panels are easily installed onto the pipework, with flexible cladding (such as Vapor-Fas™ 62-05) applied beforehand to provide weather protection. Vapor-Fas joint tape, also available in narrow rolls, is then utilised to seal the system, ensuring optimum thermal performance and energy efficiency.

Ductwork weatherproofing

To weatherproof a ductwork system, it can be clad with metal, but more flexible cladding solutions are now becoming increasingly popular like Vapor-Fas™ 62-05. This is applied directly to the insulation material to prevent moisture ingress into the system. Vapor-Fas™ 62-05 consists of a 5-layer aluminium and polymer laminated film with an aggressive pressure sensitive adhesive and release liner designed for use over insulation on commercial ductwork, piping and equipment.

Benefits of HVAC insulation 

By insulating HVAC systems, building owners and operators can benefit from:

  • Improved energy efficiency: Insulation helps minimise heat transfer and air leakage, reducing energy consumption and lowering utility costs.
  • Enhanced comfort: By maintaining consistent indoor temperatures, insulation solutions contribute to a more comfortable and productive indoor environment.
  • Long-term durability: insulation with high-quality materials and construction ensure durability and reliability, resulting in lower maintenance requirements and extended equipment lifespan.


In conclusion, where energy efficiency and sustainability are top priorities, proper insulation of HVAC systems is essential. Insulation solutions offer a cost-effective way to optimise energy usage, improve indoor comfort, and extend the lifespan of HVAC equipment. By insulating HVAC projects, building owners and operators can achieve significant energy savings and lower carbon emissions.

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