A comparative study on optimum insulation thickness of walls and energy savings in equatorial and tropical climate
The increase outdoor temperature acts directly on the indoor climate of buildings. In Cameroon, the energy consumption demand in the buildings sector has been rapidly increasing in recent years; so well that energy supply does not always satisfy demand. Thermal insulation technology can be one of the leading methods for reducing energy consumption in these new buildings. However, choosing the thickness of the insulation material often causes high insulation costs. In the present study, the optimum insulation thickness, energy saving and payback period were calculated for buildings in Yaounde´ and Garoua cities, located in two climatic regions in Cameroon. The economic model including the cost of insulation material and the present value of energy consumption and the cost over a life time of 22 years of the building, were used to find the optimum insulation thickness, energy saving, and payback period. Materials that extruded polystyrene were chosen and used for two typical wall structures (concrete block (HCB) and compressed stabilized earth block wall (CSEB)). The early cooling transmission loads, according to wall orientations and percentage of radiation blocked were calculated using the explicit finite-difference method under steady periodic conditions. As a result, it was found that the west- and east-facing walls are the least favourite in the cooling season, whereas the south and north orientations are the most economical. Although wall orientation had a significant effect on the optimum insulation thickness, it had a more significant effect on energy savings. In equatorial region (Yaounde´), for south orientation, the optimum insulation thickness was 0.08 m for an energy savings of 51.69 $/m2. Meanwhile, in tropical region (Garoua), for north orientation, the optimum insulation thickness was 0.11 m for an energy savings of 97.82 $/m2.