"See why THERMAL insulation BREAKS are IMPORTANT to STOP energy LOSS through HEAT and COLD bridging."
In obtaining optimum energy saving performance in buildings it is important to understand where energy losses come from. Thermal bridging is one major example of such loss. Anything that is a heat or cold conductor physically connected to the outside wall material is a 'thermal bridge'. These can seriously compromise or undermine thermal resistance ability and result in values below what may be expected. For instance if insulation is installed between studs that has an R-Value of R-2.0 (or R-18 USA) with the external cladding fixed to the studs without a thermal break expected efficiency loss could be up to 50% less. The REAL R-Value then being reduced to around R-1.0 (R-9 USA). The same applies to window frames and glass that do not incorporate thermal breaks. That is why moisture and condensation forms on windows in cold climates. This video is courtesy of Vince Penman from engineering.com and defines in simple terms the benefits of thermal breaks.
SmartStone Systems 'SmartClip' fixing method used in conjuction with it's EcoSmart Stone products has thermal breaks thus avoiding the problem of thermal bridging occurring in many direct and dryhang stone wall systems. In a new home optimum performance will mostly only be acheive when matching the efficiency of ALL materials connected to the outside, including patios and the likes. In short, say cold climates there is little point in having wall insulation with an R-Value of R-4 if windows are only single glazed, with thermal breaks, or without.
Contrary to popular belief thermal mass does not necessarilly provide insulation qualities.
"The use of high mass cladding in lightweight framing systems (e.g. brick veneer) can actually DECREASE thermal performance because thermal lag can maintain higher temperature differentials across insulation layers well beyond normal diurnal cycles (e.g. west-facing brick veneer walls)." to read more this excerpt is from http://www.yourhome.gov.au/materials/cladding-systems