Since the dawn of time, wool has naturally protected sheep from extreme heat & cold and has been used as insulation product in Europe since the 18th century.
Wool is arguably the most effective & environmentally responsible, natural bulk insulation product on the planet. As a natural fiber it has superior thermal qualities and has been shown to perform above its laboratory tested R value when installed.
With low embodied energy, low VOC's and a Zero Ozone Depleting Potential, wool is very popular for premium quality homes and projects that have a strong environmental focus.
Higgins is Australia's leading manufacture of Real Wool insulation products that are made right here in Australia from only Australian grown wool. Higgins offer a range of Ceiling Batts & Roofing Blankets in Real Wool.What makes Real Wool Insulation so good?
Well, there have been studies conducted by the CSIRO, Wool secretariat & other universities into the staggering properties of wool. As a natural organic fibre wool’s complex physical & chemical structure give it many advantages over other man made insulation materials. (see below for details of wools physical structure)Better at trapping air:
Wool fibres are hollow which gives wool the ability to breath & trap air within the fibre as well as in air pockets between the fibres. The more air an insulation material can trap, the better the insulating effect.Out performs other insulation materials of the same 'R' value.
The outer cuticle and epicotyl layers of wool fibre give wool its ability to shed water yet readily admit water vapour. The fibre's structure is one of great flexibility and adaptability to different environments. This ability to absorb & desorb water vapour from the atmosphere give wool the ability to outperform other insulation materials of the same R value. When you compare wool to any other insulation material of the same R value, in the laboratory they will be equally thermally efficient. However, when installed into the ceiling space of your home, things are quite different. A study undertaken by the CSIRO & James Cook university found that through the cycle of a typical day & night, wool would keep the average home cooler by up to 6 degrees compared to other non moisture absorbing & desorbing materials. Click here to see details.
In essence, this is what happens. In the course of a day & night the cavity in your ceiling space heats up & cools down in line with the outside air temperature. When the sun comes up in the morning it starts to heat up your roof tiles or tin. As the roof gets hotter some of this heat radiates into your ceiling space and heats up the air and eventually it starts to radiate into your living space. With normal insulation batts placed between the ceiling rafters, this hot air is first absorbed by the insulation material, thus slowing down the whole process and reducing the amount of heat that radiates into your home. However, there comes a point when the insulation material reaches maximum absorption and the heat starts to radiate into your living space. Generally, the higher the R value the longer it takes for the insulation material to reach maximum absorption.
With wool the process is further delayed. At night when the temperature drops rapidly, the air in your ceiling space becomes moist. If you have wool batts installed, because of their natural ability to breath, they absorb this moisture into the fibres. Then next morning the sun comes up and heats your roof & then your ceiling space and then starts to heat the insulation batts. However, with wool batts, before they start to heat up they start to release the moisture or water vapour that they have absorbed overnight. This releasing of water vapour keeps the batts cool, exactly the same as when you sweat your skin stays cool. This means that it takes much longer for wool batts to reach maximum heat absorption compared to other materials, which means that they further slow down the whole process and reduce the amount of heat that penetrates into your living space, thus keeping your home cooler for longer. The CSIRO study showed that this effect could keep an average home cooler by up to 6 degrees when compared to other insulation types.LOW Embodied Energy:
When assessing and comparing different products in terms of how 'Environmentally Friendly' they are, one of the key factors is 'Embodied Energy', that is, how much energy is consumed in the manufacture of the product. Factors that come into play are:-
1. how much energy is consumed in the transport & refining of raw materials.
2. how much energy is consumed in the processing of raw materials to create the finished product.
For Higgins 'Real Wool' insulation these figures are exceptionally low. The vast majority (80%) of raw material for our 'Real Wool' product is simply Australian wool shorn from the sheep's back. The only processing taht takes place is rinsing in cold water.
The process of thermobonding the raw wool is undertaken at less than 150 degree's Celsius, which is some 10 times less heat requirement than most other bulk insulation materials.
Add the fact that no Ozone Depleting gases are produced in the process and it is easy to see why Real Wool is probably the best choice for your family & the planet.