Green Insulation Guide

Using green insulation will help save energy, money and the environment.

Traditional fiberglass insulation (whether blown or in batts) has a host of environmental baggage including the out-gassing of harmful chemicals, dangerous handling characteristics and cost to the environment.

Manufacturers have responded with a host of new technologies and materials to provide consumers with green insulation alternatives.

Cellulose
Created by combing recycled newspaper with fire and mold retardant chemicals, cellulose insulation is blown into attics and walls. With a slightly higher installation cost than fiberglass, cellulose insulation can save an estimated 15% to 20% on heating and cooling costs.

According to the Cellulose Insulation Manufacturers Association, the creation of a pound of cellulose insulation requires 750 BTUs of energy versus 6,000 to 15,000 BTUs for a pound of fiberglass.

Spray Polyurethane Foam (SPF)
Low density SPF is easy to install and doesn't emit harmful gasses. Several materials provide superior insulation and air barrier properties that make SPF insulation up to 35% more efficient than fiberglass.

Several manufacturers produce a soy-based foam that has all the benefits of SPF and comes from a renewable source.

Recycled Cotton
Recycled cotton insulation is created from denim scraps and cast-offs generated in the creation of jeans. The cotton fibers are treated to be mold and fire retardant and then mounted to paper backing to create batts similar to fiberglass insulation.

With a similar R-value to traditional insulation, recycled denim has no out-gassing issues, contains 85 percent recycled material and is easier to handle than fiberglass.

Radiant Barriers
Most effective in warm climates, radiant barriers are typically installed in attics to reflect the heat of the sun away from the living space. Radiant barriers are typically made of a layer of aluminum attached to a backing. Radiant barriers can be installed in the roof sheathing or attached to the rafters after construction.

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Proper insulation makes your house more comfortable and saves money on every heating or cooling bill. Insulating is a do-it-yourself project for most, but there are some situations where you'll benefit from hiring a professional.

Installing or upgrading fiberglass attic insulation is an inexpensive way to improve the energy efficiency of your home. A simple do-it-yourself project, installing attic insulation safely is well within the skill-set of the average homeowner.

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Spray on insulation is created by applying liquid foam that expands to fill voids in a house or building. Polyurethane is typically used, but some manufacturers produce soy-based foam to create an earth-friendly insulation. The millions of tiny air bubbles in the foam create an insulating barrier that helps reduce heating and cooling costs.

Denim insulation is quickly becoming a "green" alternative to traditional fiberglass insulation. 

If you're looking for your next home improvement project and want to do something sensible that has immediate returns on your investment, consider installing or upgrading your attic insulation. 

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