Reducing Energy Loss

We will look at how to reduce unwanted energy transfers by using thermal insulation and lubrication.

Thermal Insulation

Most people like their homes to be warm. To achieve this, they need to reduce the amount of heat energy released to the surroundings.

A house with red arrows leaving from multiple places representing energy loss.

There are many features in buildings to reduce this:

Reducing heat loss by convection

With convection, heat energy is transferred through liquids and gases. So, if air is able to escape out of the house, there will be a loss of heat energy by convection.

To prevent this, we would need to seal the house, to reduce the amount of air that can escape. This can be done by:

  • Putting foam seals around doors and windows
  • Fitting carpets and curtains

This is one of the reasons why we draw our curtains at night and have foam seals around our doors and windows.

Reducing heat loss by conduction

With conduction, heat energy is transferred through solids. So the loss of heat energy by conduction would involve direct heat loss through a solid. For example, this solid could be a wall or a window.

To reduce heat loss by conduction, houses tend to have:

  • Thick walls, made from materials with low thermal conductivity – Which means they are not good conductors of heat
  • Double-glazed windows – There are two layers of glass with an air gap between them. This reduces conduction as the heat does not conduct across the air gap

It is also common for houses to have cavity walls, which is where there are two layers of bricks with foam in between them. Foam is used instead of an air gap. This is because, although foam and air are bad thermal conductors, air only reduces conduction whereas foam reduces conduction and convection.

Also, the foam contains isolated air bubbles, which means the space between the bricks isn’t solely a solid or a gas.


Frictional forces arise when two objects slide against each other. These forces act to resist the motion, making it harder for the objects to slide smoothly. The problem with friction is that it reduces the efficiency of energy transfer, causing objects to heat up.

Lubrication is a substance (often a liquid) used to reduce friction and wear between moving objects or surfaces. This increases efficiency.