Crawl Space Energy Conservation & Reflecting Radiate Heat
Understanding Crawl Space heat gain / loss:
There are three modes of heat transfer: CONDUCTION, CONVECTION, and RADIATION (INFRA-RED). Of the three, radiation is the primary mode; convection and conduction are secondary and come into play only as matter interrupts or interferes with radiant heat transfer. As the mater absorbs radiant energy, it is heated, develops a difference in temperature and results in molecular motion (conduction in solids) or mass motion (primarily convection with some conduction in liquids and gas).
All substances, including air spaces and building materials such as wood, concrete, glass and plaster, obey the same laws of nature, and TRANSFER heat. Solid materials differ in the rate of heat transfer, which is affected by differences in: density, weight, shape, permeability and molecular structure. Materials that transfer heat slowly can be said to RESIST heat flow. Direction of heat transfer is an important consideration. Heat is radiated and conducted in all directions, but transfer by convection is primarily upwards.
CONDUCTION is direct heat flow through matter (molecular motion). It results from actual PHYSICAL CONTACT of one part of the same body with another, or of one body with another. For instance, if one end of an iron rod is heated, the heat travels by conduction through the metal to the other end; it also travels to the surface and is conducted to the surrounding air, which is another, but less dense, body. An example of conduction through contact between two solids is a cooking pot on the solid surface of a hot stove. The greatest flow of heat possible between materials is where there is direction conduction between two solids. Heat is always conducted from warm to cold; never from cold to warm.
In general, the denser the substance, the better conductor it is. Concrete, glass and aluminum, being very dense, are good conductors of heat. Reduce their density by mixing air into the mass, and their conductivity is reduces. Because air has low density, the percentage of heat transferred by conduction through air is comparatively small. Two thin sheets of aluminum foil with about one inch of air space in between weigh less than once ounce per square foot. The ratio is approximately 1 of mass to 100 of air, most important in reducing heat flow by conduction. The less dense the mass, the less will be the flow of heat by conduction.
CONVECTION is the transport of heat within a gas or liquid, caused by the actual flow of the material itself (mass motion). In building spaces, natural convection heat flow is largely upward, sometimes sideways, not downwards. This is called "free convection".
For instance, a warm stove, persona, floor, wall, etc. loses body heat by conduction to the cooler air in contact with it. This added heat activates (warms) the molecules of the air, which expand, becoming less dense, and rise. Cooler, heavier air rushes in from the side and below to replace it. The popular expression "hot air rises" is exemplified by smoke rising from a chimney or cigarette. The motion is largely upward, with a component of sideways motion.
Convection may also be mechanically induces, as by a fan. This is called "forced convection." RADIATION is the transmission of electromagnetic rays through space. Radiation, like radio waves, is invisible. Infrared rays have wavelengths between light and radar waves (between the 3-15 micron portions of the spectrum). Henceforth, when we speak of radiation, we refer only to infrared waves. Each material whose temperature is above absolute zero (-459.7 F) emits infrared radiation, including: the sun, icebergs, stoves or radiators, humans, animals, furniture, ceilings, walls, floors, etc.
All objects radiate infrared rays from their surfaces in all directions, in a straight line, until they are reflected or absorbed by another object. Traveling at the speed of light, these rays are invisible, and they have NO TEMPERATURE, only ENERGY. Heating an object excites the surface molecules, causing them to give off infrared radiation. When these infrared rays strike the surface of another object, the rays are absorbed, and only then is heat produced in the object. This heat spreads throughout the mass by conduction. The heated object then transmits infrared rays from exposed surfaces by radiation, if these surfaces are exposed directly to an air space. The amount of radiation emitted is a function of the EMISSIVITY factor of the source's surface. EMISSIVITY is the rate at which radiation (EMISSION) is given off. Absorption of radiation by an object is proportional to the absorption factor of its surface, which is reciprocal of its emissivity.
Although two objects may be identical, if the surface of one were covered with a material of 90% emissivity, and the surface of the other with a material of 5% emissivity, there would result a drastic difference in the rate of radiation flow from these two objects. This is demonstrated by comparison of four identical, equally heated iron radiators covered with different materials. Paint one with aluminum paint and another with ordinary enamel. Cover the third with asbestos and the fourth with aluminum foil. Although all have the same temperature, the one covered with aluminum foil would radiate the least [lowest (5%) emissivity].
The radiators covered with ordinary paint or asbestos would radiate most, because they have the highest emissivity (even higher than the original iron). Painting over the aluminum paint or foil with ordinary paint changes the surface to 90% emissivity.
Materials whose surfaces do not appreciably reflect infrared rays, for example, paper, asphalt, wood, glass and rock, have absorption and emissivity rates of 80% to 93%. Most materials used in building construction - brick, stone, wood, paper and so on - regardless of their color, absorb infrared radiation at about 90%. It is interesting to note that a mirror of glass is an excellent reflector of light but a very poor reflector of infrared radiation. Mirrors have about the same reflectivity for infrared as a heavy coating of black paint.
The surface of aluminum has the ability NOT to ABSORB, but to REFLECT 94% to 98% of the infrared rays that strike it. Since aluminum foil has such a low mass-to-air ratio, very little conduction can take place, particularly when only 5% of the rays are absorbed.
TRY THIS EXPERIMENT: Hold a sample of the STS Heat Shield close to your face, without touching. Soon you feel the warmth of your own infrared rays bouncing back from the SURFACE of the STS Heat Shield. The following is an explanation: The emissive heat radiation of the surface of your face is 99% and the absorption of aluminum is only 5%, thus sending back 95% of the rays. With the absorption rate of your face at 99%, the result is that you feel the warmth of your face reflected back to you. In a similar fashion, installing the STS Heat Shield in a crawl space will reflect the radiant heat that travels through the floor, towards the crawl space, back into the living area. This will help reduce your overall heating costs and keep floors comfortably warm. For Product Data / Specification sheet.