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Investigation into the Effectiveness of Insulation at Preventing the Loss of Thermal Energy from the Home.

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Investigation into the Effectiveness of Insulation at Preventing the Loss of Thermal Energy from the Home Aim I intend to find out which insulation is most effective at preventing thermal energy transfer in the home and also which is more cost-effective. I.E. which costs less to buy but makes a larger reduction in your heating bill. Introduction Thermal energy is usually transferred by:- Conduction: This is where thermal energy is conducted through a material. It does this because on one side of the material the air is hotter than on the other side. So, the thermal energy is conducted from an area of warm air to an area of cooler air. Materials that are good electrical conductors also tend to be good thermal conductors, like; Gold, Silver and copper. These will all readily conduct thermal energy as well as electrical energy. Materials like wood, that don't conduct electricity, are also poor conductors of thermal energy. Evaporation This is where the molecules of water that are hotter than the air outside the water rise up out of the liquid as a gas. These molecules take some of the thermal energy of the liquid with them so, evaporation can cool down the water. This also work on our body, as we sweat and the sweat evaporates our body is cooled by the evaporation because the thermal energy of our body is taken in the molecules of sweat. Convection This is where the hotter water molecules of water will rise up to the top of the container and the cooler molecules sink to the bottom. This happens because as molecules become hotter the also become less dense so they will rise to the top, and the cooler particle will sink to the bottom to take their place. The heat energy from the hotter molecules at the top will escape by evaporation in a liquid. This does not only happen in liquids, it also happens in air so the majority of the thermal energy will be lost from the top of the container or through the roof of the house. ...read more.


So, all that the foam floor insulation will be near is the cooler water particles at the bottom of the beaker. Also, only about 15% of the energy that is lost from our homes is lost through the floor. Obviously the control experiment should be the worst because it has no insulation at all. Apparatus I will use the following apparatus:- * Beaker * Boiling Water * Kettle * Thermometer * Card * Carpet tile * Foam * Stop clock Method I will first set up all of the apparatus shown in the preceding diagrams. I will then boil the kettle and pour the water in the beaker being aware of the safety that is involved with boiling water. I will make sure that the kettle and the beakers of boiling water are in the middle of the table and not on the edge where they can be easily knocked off; it would also be a good idea to have a sign or some sort of notification that boiling water is being used so people will be more careful around it. I will use 200cm3 of water; this will be measured using the scale on the side of the beaker. I will start the clock when the temperature drops to 85oc so this way, if any of the water is below what it should be it won't matter because I will have to wait for all if the experiments to cool to 85oc (this way it will be a fair test). When the clock is started I will take the temperature of each experiment individually at one minute intervals for ten minutes. To try to increase the accuracy of the investigation I will repeat each experiment so I have two results, I will then find the average of these results so they will be more accurate and there will be less anomalous results shown on my graphs. ...read more.


Because of this, the carpet may have radiated the heat that it was storing away from the beaker. If I did this experiment again I could use white carpet tile or even foam as the wall insulation, this would greatly increase the accuracy of my results. Another error that could have caused anomalous results was the fact that the beakers could have been made by different manufacturers and had different compositions. This could have made the glass conduct thermal energy more easily or radiate heat more easily then others. This would cause results that were not consistent. Next time I do this experiment I will ensure that all of the beakers are from the same manufacturer or I could even use the same beaker, though this would be time consuming. Also loose fitting insulation that is where the insulation doesn't completely touch the beaker all the way around. For example if the lost insulation foam wasn't touching the beaker all the way round water could evaporate and the accuracy of the experiment would be compromised. Also if the carpet tile was a loose fit around the beaker, thermal energy could be conducted out of the glass, wouldn't get trapped in the air in the carpet and would go straight into the atmosphere and cause inaccurate results. If I did this again I would make sure that all of the insulation was a snug fit. There could have been errors in the double glazing because in real, modern double glazing in homes the air is sealed, air tight low pressure gas. Because it wasn't sealed around the top air could escape with thermal energy causing erroneous results. Also the fact that there was no low pressure gas present would have affected the accuracy of the experiment. This would be very difficult to simulate in the lab without using actual double glazing. Though I could make it more air tight by putting a Vaseline seal around the top of the beakers but under high temperatures this could melt. ?? ?? ?? ?? Physics Coursework - William Eardley 11.1 ...read more.

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