Main article: Building insulation
Common insulation applications in apartment building in Ontario, Canada.
Maintaining acceptable temperatures in buildings (by heating and cooling) uses a large proportion of global energy consumption. Building insulations also commonly use the principle of small trapped air-cells as explained above, e.g. fiberglass (specifically glass wool), cellulose, rock wool, polystyrene foam, urethane foam, vermiculite, perlite, cork, etc. For a period of time, Asbestos was also used, however, it caused health problems.
When well insulated, a building:
is energy-efficient, thus saving the owner money.
provides more uniform temperatures throughout the space. There is less temperature gradient both vertically (between ankle height and head height) and horizontally from exterior walls, ceilings and windows to the interior walls, thus producing a more comfortable occupant environment when outside temperatures are extremely cold or hot.
has minimal recurring expense. Unlike heating and cooling equipment, insulation is permanent and does not require maintenance, upkeep, or adjustment.
lowers the carbon footprint of a building.
Many forms of thermal insulation also reduce noise and vibration, both coming from the outside and from other rooms inside a building, thus producing a more comfortable environment.
Window insulation film can be applied in weatherization applications to reduce incoming thermal radiation in summer and loss in winter.
In industry, energy has to be expended to raise, lower, or maintain the temperature of objects or process fluids. If these are not insulated, this increases the energy requirements of a process, and therefore the cost and environmental impact.