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Thermal Mass Cooling and What it Does to a Home

27 Nov 18 |No Comments
Thermal Mass Cooling and What it Does to a Home

WHAT IS THERMAL MASS COOLING? Thermal mass can be defined as the capacity in which a material can gain and retain heat energy. Different materials such as, drywall, carpet, drapes, and furniture have varying densities meaning they absorb heat faster as well as radiate heat into your home. The larger the density of a material, the more substantial amount of heat energy it will require to raise its temperatures. Materials like concrete, tiles, and bricks are examples of materials with high densities; therefore, there are said to have a large thermal mass compared to low-density materials like timber. Thermal mass comes in handy in improving comfort at your home and also saving on the heating and cooling bills when used appropriately. We have varying types of climates all over the world, but one thing all these climates have in common is the daily extremes in temperatures at night and during the day. Temperatures fluctuate from time, and this has been exacerbated by climate change. Thermal mass can help to average these temperature fluctuations by absorbing the excess temperatures during the day and also insulating or shading against excess heat energy, called thermal mass cooling. Releasing the absorbed heat energy at night is called thermal mass heating. If thermal mass cooling is not applied correctly, it could lead to an increase in temperatures when there's already a heat wave. For thermal mass cooling to be effective, it has to be coordinated together with proper design techniques. HOW THERMAL MASS COOLING WORKS. Thermal mass can be viewed as some form of battery. For instance, a battery connected to a solar panel stores the sun's radiation during the day so that it can be used in controlled portions during the night. Similarly, during summer, it absorbs heat during the day and later releases the heat at night thus keeping the house comfortable. Thermal mass can't be used for insulation. It's different from insulation by the fact that it stores energy to release it later while insulation doesn't store heat energy. Thermal mass cooling is beneficial when there are huge differences in day and night temperatures in the outside. Thermal mass hinders heat flow for an average of 11 hours leading to cool temperatures in a house during summer. It's important to allow convectional currents to draw the stored heat from the thermal mass at night, then make sure you protect the thermal mass from excess solar radiation during the day by insulation or by using shades.   APPLICATIONS OF THERMAL MASS COOLING IN A HOME. Thermal mass cooling does the following to a home:

  • Averaging the temperature extremes at night and during the day.
  • It makes the house more comfortable. High temperatures are some of the most uncomfortable situations to be in. By insulating your house, you prevent excessive heat from entering the house. The rest of the heat energy that happens to be absorbed is delayed until nighttime. This keeps the house cool all day long.
  • Thermal mass cooling helps save on heating and cooling bills. Thermal mass cooling is made possible by proper designs, appropriate levels of shading, ventilation, and glazing facing sides. This is done during building, which means if it's done correctly, you don't have to install an extra cooling system to your house during summer.
One of the best and most common ways to achieve thermal mass cooling is by use of a slab-on-ground construction. It's preferred because it has a considerably higher thermal mass since it's in contact with the ground. The slab absorbs the heat from the ground and also heat from the solar radiation. By absorbing the heat, the slab helps to cool the surrounding temperatures within the housekeeping the house cool. CONCLUSION Thermal mass cooling is a natural way to regulate high temperatures by designing a house in a way that it can absorb the extra heat and also insulating against the excess heat. By doing this, you improve both the psychological and physiological comfort as well as save on cooling bills. It’s recommended to consider the thermal mass structure of a house when you’re building one or buying one.