Affordable Passive House
Thermal Bridge Free wall
Thermal bridges (sometimes referred to as “cold bridges”) in the building envelope have a measurable impact on energy efficiency and thermal comfort. The impact can be relatively low on buildings that are not very well insulated. However, with buildings that are well insulated and energy efficient, the relative impact of thermal bridging is significant.
A thermal bridge, also called a cold bridge, heat bridge, or thermal bypass, is an area or component of an object which has higher thermal conductivity than the surrounding materials, creating a path of least resistance for heat transfer. Thermal bridges result in an overall reduction in thermal resistance of the object. The term is frequently discussed in the context of a building's thermal envelope where thermal bridges result in heat transfer into or out of conditioned space.
Thermal bridges in buildings may impact the amount of energy required to heat and cool a space, cause condensation (moisture) within the building envelope, and result in thermal discomfort. In colder climates (such as the United Kingdom), thermal heat bridges can result in additional heat losses and require additional energy to mitigate.
There are strategies to reduce or prevent thermal bridging, such as limiting the number of building members that span from unconditioned to conditioned space and applying continuous insulation materials to create thermal breaks.