Building with insulating panels

What is thermal insulation?

An efficient measure for the home

In the last few years, the climate has been showing us that temperature and comfort are two related issues and thermal insulation plays a key role.

We are increasingly aware of the importance that thermal insulation has in our homes. Measures such as the use of insulating materials or the replacement of windows and other daily actions such as ventilation or the use of blinds can increase the quality of life at home and help to save in the energy cost.


What is thermal insulation?

Thermal insulation is the set of insulating materials and construction techniques whose installation reduces heat transmission between two spaces (between the interior and exterior of a home, or between spaces within the same home).

Knowing what thermal insulation is and what benefits it has for our home is one of the first steps to enjoy a more comfortable, environmentally-friendly home and also to reduce expenses. In this way, during winter thermal insulation can, for example, reduce heat loss, while in the summer months, it can prevent the excessive increase of heat.

The set of regulations governing the construction of buildings in Spain, known as the Technical Building Code, outlines a number of mandatory standards for the thermal insulation of buildings in its section regulating the conditions for controlling energy demand. These include the characteristics that must be met by thermal insulation materials, and the use of other elements such as blinds or awnings.

Types of thermal insulation

Installation of thermal insulation on the wall behind the heating radiator at home

Broadly speaking, the types of thermal insulation in homes can be divided into two, depending on whether or not they require energy consumption: active and passive. Passive measures range from the orientation of the home or construction techniques that favor cross-ventilation to the use of thermal insulation materials in facades or floors. Active thermal insulation systems refer to the use of heating systems, cooling equipment, or humidification, among others.

In terms of types of insulation materials, polyurethane foam, expanded polystyrene, extruded polystyrene, rock wool, and glass wool are the most commonly used.

Benefits of thermal insulation

Investment in the thermal insulation of the home has immediate and lasting benefits, and it is possible to recover it thanks to the financial savings it allows. These are some of them:

  • Greater comfort in the home
    One of the benefits of thermal insulation in homes that is immediately perceived is the comfort that an appropriate temperature in the house provides. Keeping a cool home in summer and warm home in winter contributes quality of life and increases the use that can be made of the rooms in the home.

  • Energy savings
    Improving thermal insulation saves energy that would otherwise have to be spent on counteracting heat losses and gains.

  • Financial savings
    The lower the energy demand in the home, the lower the cost of electricity or gas.
  • Care for the environment
    A home with efficient thermal insulation is also more environmentally friendly, as the lower consumption of energy also represents less CO2 emissions.

  • Acoustic insulation
    Another benefit is that some of the thermal insulation materials also provide acceptable acoustic insulation. The polyurethane foam, rock wool, or glass wool that we can use to thermally insulate a house are also acoustic insulation.

  • Insulation against humidity
    In the same way, thermal insulation of the home reduces condensation and humidity, which also reduces the risk of mold appearing.

  • Health improvement
    A comfortable home is also a healthier home. Adequate home temperature and reduced humidity both reduce the risk of disease.
  • Less taxes, more benefits
    As well as financial savings derived from energy saving, certain investments for the improvement of energy efficiency of housing are subject to subsidies and deductions in the IRPF (income tax), and in the not too distant horizon could result in lower taxes, as they are more sustainable housing.
Thermal insulation infographic

The kilowatt that you don't consume is the most sustainable and cheapest kilowatt, but it's true that you're still always going to have to consume something, and there you can also move towards solutions that are environmentally friendly and that help you save." In this regard, Repsol Energy Plans allow you to obtain a significant saving, while they opt for renewable energies.

Borja Giménez
Low-emissions business expert at Repsol

Tips for improving your home's thermal insulation

"We prefer to start by keeping our homes warm: that our facades, our roofs, our windows are really protecting us from the cold. From there, we look for a heating system that is as efficient as possible, and then, above all, learn how to use our homes properly: that we know how to ventilate well, close blinds before the sun goes down to retain that heat, or seal our windows well to avoid energy leaks through them," says María Cruz Solano, an architect specializing in Energy Efficiency and Bioconstruction in the solutions area of GNE Finance, a company dedicated to the eco-sustainable rehabilitation of housing and investee company of the Repsol Foundation, in its commitment to support the growth of companies that work for the global challenge of energy transition and that generate a triple impact: economic, social, and environmental.

Interior of a wall filled with insulating materials

These are some tips for improving your home's insulation:
  • Replace the windows for more thermally-efficient ones.
  • Insulate the floor and walls.
  • Install blinds made from insulating materials and also insulate the box for the blinds.
  • Seal window leaks and weatherstrip.
  • Make good use of the blinds depending on the orientation of the home and time of year.
The interior of the walls and floor of an attic, filled with insulating materials

  • Properly air out your home in winter several times, but only for a short time, and ventilate crosswise.
  • Use rugs on the floor and wool curtains on windows that reduce cold in winter.
  • Install awnings, pergolas, or overhangs to reduce summer heat.
  • Increase the number of plants at home to control the humidity.
  • Choose efficient heating systems that are suitable for the characteristics of the home.