Thoughts about Heat

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Jadnashua

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One concept that might help things make more sense...there is no such physical thing as cold...cold is a condition related to the absence of heat. Heat is quantifiable, cold is not. A thermometer measures the amount of heat.

Heat moves in any of three ways, and often by more than one of them at the same time:
- conduction
- convection
- radiation
and, it's always trying to move to spread out...IOW, it's trying to make everything the same average temperature.

Insulation doesn't keep cold out, it slows the movement of heat out to cooler areas. Often the goal is to make that movement as slow as possible. A refrigerator or air conditioner doesn't make cold...it moves heat...just feel the outlet of the fan on the condenser...it's removing the heat, not making 'cold'.

With the understanding of that principle, it can make more sense of whatever you may be doing with your hot water system, heating system, cooling system, or insulation in your home...you want to slow the movement of heat, either in or out, depending on your current needs.

R-value is a measure of how well insulation works.

While not in widespread use, vacuum insulated panels (VIPs) are a VERY efficient way to provide insulation, but are expensive to buy, and can be tricky to install, so aren't in widespread use. If you puncture one, it becomes useless, so they aren't viable for every insulation application. Vacuum insulated glass panels are a little more available, and are much more efficient than argon filled panels and expect them to become a bit more available on the market in the next few years. The hassle is to maintain the seal so it holds the vacuum. To keep it from 'bending' the glass panels, they have to put spacers distributed around between the glass panels to keep the vacuum from sucking the panels together, creating distortion like a lens because of the curve.

Hope this helps a bit. When dealing with your home, you will need to take care of all three means of heat movement to make it as efficient as it can be.
 

Taylor Love

Taylor Love
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So based on what you're saying, the insulation wrapped around my water heater would actually have a noticeable impact on heat savings. Hmm. Makes sense. I like the application of chemistry concepts.
 

Jadnashua

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One of the big things on WH over the last decade or so is the mandate that they contain more insulation to help limit the amount of heat needed that is lost to the room (i.e., not kept in the tank), so yes, if insulation added to a WH doesn't restrict things like the exhaust or intake on a gas WH, or controls that may not like heat caused by insulation over them, adding insulation can save money. You want to keep it where you desire it, and insulation slows the transfer either in or out.
 

Jadnashua

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As a thought experiment, take a look at some food coloring, and a glass full of water. Think of the food coloring as heat. Put a drop into the glass of water. The darker the color (as in the bottle of food coloring is intense) the 'hotter' is is, it gets much less dense when you add it to the glass...you had the same amount of heat, but you dispersed it throughout the water. If you were going to try to measure it, it would be 'cooler'. Heat is very similar.
 

Fitter30

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Insulation is a science. Taking looking at type of construction material, vapor barrier if needed, type of insulation, moisture and radiate heat. What works in one part of the country would be a disaster in another part. Cost and the total package and the savings/ payback.
 

LLigetfa

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So based on what you're saying, the insulation wrapped around my water heater would actually have a noticeable impact on heat savings.
Up here the heating season is much longer than the cooling season, so heat escaping my water heater means less heat needs to be produced by my furnace. Adding insulation to my (already insulated) water heater would just make the furnace run more, plus I don't want to lose the space extra insulation takes away. The air conditioner might only run for a couple of weeks a year.

My clothes dryer sends 100% of the generated heat into the room, not outside like old school dryers did. In Summer, clothes dry out on the clothesline so the dryer is not an additional load on my air conditioner.
 

Jadnashua

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There are condensation clothes driers, but where electric rates are high, they may not be very cost effective. Dumping the outlet of a drier into a room that isn't a condensing one can be problematic...the outlet filters don't catch all of the smallest fibers, and that can be a health hazard, not counting the combustion products if gas fired and the added heat to the room may not be ideal, either.
 
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