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The science behind home insulation

July 15, 2016

For the average homeowner, insulation is all about keeping the home warm in the winter and cool in the summer. For some, there's also a basic understanding that a well insulated home will translate into energy efficiency and dollar savings on natural gas and electricity. But there's also science behind home insulation, and clear advantages in understanding how insulation works. Bottom line, it's all about heat flow (heat transfer), and specifically the three dynamics that affect heat flow: convection, conduction, and radiation. It all sounds overly scientific, but in general, air moves from warm to cool, and the three dynamics are the ones that affect air movement throughout a home. Convection is the dynamic where hot air rises, while cool air sinks. Here, home insulation will slow down this type of heat flow. Conduction is heat that moves through a specific material. Again, insulation will dramatically slow down this type of heat flow. Radiation is basically heat that travels in a direct straight line, heating up any solids in the way. Insulation reduces this dynamic. In any building structure, there's air movement - some of it desirable, some of it not. During winter, the idea is to prevent air movement in the form of heat loss. And although the heating system is designed to generate heat, losing that heat is clearly unproductive. In summer, when it's hot, the idea is to prevent warm air from creeping into the house, while stopping cooled indoor air from escaping. This is exactly where insulation will do its job - it effectively decreases heat flow (summer and winter) by creating resistance to air movement. For the most part, resistance to heat flow is measured as R-Value. This measurement pertains to all home insulation products, and defines the insulation's capacity to resist heat flow. Simply put, the higher the R-Value rating, the more effective the insulation product will be in doing its job. This, of course, is dependent on the type of insulation, and very dependent on the installation itself. While it may seem that loading up on product will deliver better performance, there is much more to the science of insulation than just product. There are a number of factors that will influence R-Value, beyond the number that's printed on the package. This is why proper installation is so critical, and why professional installers will do a much better job than amateurs. The experts understand the science behind the insulation, and therefore incorporate air sealing and ventilation into the overall installation. It becomes a "system" where sealing, insulation, and ventilation contribute to performance, allowing for R-Values to be maximized, and energy efficiencies to be optimized. For the average homeowner, it's important to understand the basics of home insulation - it makes for better decisions with respect to choosing product and deciding on installation methods. But choosing a competent insulation contractor will be the real key to success. Professionals understand the array of products on the market, and understand how best to suit the unique needs of the homeowner.

Western Ontario

935 Keyes Drive
Woodstock, Ontario
Canada N4V 1C3

Phone: 1-800-265-1914

Fax: (519) 539-7946
TOLL FREE: 1-800-265-1914

Muskoka, Haliburton, Northern Ontario

1027 Elwell Park Road
Gravenhurst, Ontario
Canada P1P 1R1

TOLL FREE: 1-800-265-1914

Central Ontario

29 Ferndale Industrial Drive
Barrie, Ontario
Canada L4N 9V5

TOLL FREE: 1-800-265-1914

Greater Toronto Area

2 Guided Court
Etobicoke, ON
M9V 4K6

TOLL FREE: 1-800-265-1914

GTA East

103 North Port Road
Port Perry, Ontario
Canada L9L 1B2

TOLL FREE: 1-800-265-1914

South Central Ontario

450 Industrial Dr,
Toronto (Milton), Ontario
Canada L9T 5A6

TOLL FREE: 1-800-265-1914

Eastern Ontario

1035 Moodie Dr #1,
Nepean, ON
K2R 1H4

TOLL FREE: 1-800-265-1914

Niagara Region

25 Lincoln Ave
St. Catharines, ON
L2P 2C7

TOLL FREE: 1-800-265-1914


Great Northern Insulation - Better Business Bureau Profile.

Homestars Best of 2021 Award

Best of 2021

HomeStars has ranked Great Northern Insulation as a company that goes above and beyond in every aspect of business for the year of 2021.

Homestars Best of 2022 Award

Best of 2022

HomeStars has ranked Great Northern Insulation as a company that goes above and beyond in every aspect of business for the year of 2022.


GNI is the Authorized & Trusted Insulation and Air Sealing Installer for Lowe’s

Trusted for Over 40 Years

Over 40 Years in Business

At GNI, we service your project with the most experienced staff in the industry. Ongoing professional development is an obsession at GNI and we will not compromise at any level to bring to our customers the very best Installers, Sales Representatives, Customer Care Personnel, Field Superintendents, Estimating and Technical Support to your project.

100% Canadian

100% Canadian

Great Northern Insulation is recognized as Canada's largest full-service insulation contractor. GNI is 100% Canadian owned, proudly serving Ontario customers since 1980.

Foam Masters

Do it right the first time
- with foam mastersTM

January, 2021 regulatory phaseout of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) with the introduction of WALLTITE CM01. Using hydrofluorolefins (HFOs) with lower global warming potential (GWP) compared to HFCs, WALLTITE CM01 is the next generation of spray foam insulation.



Heatlok® Soya HFOTM leverages Honeywell’s latest Solstice® Liquid Blowing Agent technology. This new hydrofluoroolefin (HFO) blowing agent is the most environmentally conscious blowing agent produced to date, with a zero ozone depletion potential (ODP) and a global warming potential (GWP) of 1, which is more than two orders of magnitude (99.9%) lower than HFCs used in this industry.


3MTM products.
Quality + Performance = Savings

3MTM energy-saving products are designed to keep warm air in, and cold air out, while keeping energy bills down. Products optimize energy efficiency in buildings and homes; improve indoor environment for occupants; and effect the reduction of seasonal energy costs. 3M products are authorized for LEED credits (Leadership in Energy/Environmental Design).

Holmes and Holmes

Holmes and Holmes


Mike Holmes and his son Mike Jr. (MJ) convert MJ’s bachelor bungalow into a two-storey home for MJ and his girlfriend Lisa. Choosing the newest materials and build techniques, the father and son team follow Mike’s famous motto – “Make it right.” The show can be watched on HGTV and DIY Network.


Enbridge Incentives

The Home Efficiency Rebate Plus program offers up to $10,000 in home reno rebates – and Great Northern Insulation can pave the way.


Great Northern Insulation proudly abides by a renovation-specific Code of Conduct set by RenoMark™.


We are Verified & Bonded by eRenovate. When you choose to proceed with our services through their platform, you receive the gaurantees set forth through their program.

As Seen on Love It or List It

The GNI crew have been featured installing insulation on Love It or List It - have you seen our logo in an episode?

Climatizer Cellulose


CLIMATIZER PLUS cellulose insulation is manufactured from a minimum of 85% locally-sourced post-consumer recycled newsprint. Non-toxic additives are applied to the uniquely fiberized paper generating a building material with superior thermal and acoustic properties, as well as exceptional resistance to fire, moisture, mould and pests.

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