What is the Most environmentally Friendly Insulation?

Energy conscious homeowners in Louisiana and throughout the United States recognize that they can make a difference when it comes to environmental concerns. Though residential buildings now make up 22% of all U.S. energy use, according to research from Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies, homeowners can reduce that number through the proper application of an effective insulation.

When asking the question “What is the most environmentally friendly insulation,” homeowners should recognize that the application of any insulation will improve your home’s energy efficiency to some degree. Insulation, therefore, is always an environmentally friendly step to take in home improvement. Increasing the energy efficiency of just those homes built prior to 1970 through insulation upgrades could reduce the total U.S. residential energy use by 10 percent or more.

What is the most environmentally friendly insulation?

Fiberglass Insulation

While traditional fiberglass insulation can be installed by homeowners, making it a cheap insulation choice, it isn’t particularly good at conserving energy, especially where it is not properly fitted or where it comes loose, a common problem. In addition, the production of fiberglass batting requires far more energy than alternative insulations. For example, it requires ten times more energy to make fiberglass batting than cellulose insulation. Further, fiberglass insulation contains chemicals, such as formaldehyde, that have proven to be toxic to humans. Though cheap, this traditional insulation is clearly not the best choice for the environmentally conscious.

Spray Foam Insulation

Spray foam insulation, on the other hand, is highly effective at energy conservation though it should always be installed by an SPFA-certified contractor. Composed of 56% renewable content, Gaco spray foam insulation air seals as it insulates, which means it decreases energy loss by up to 50% in some cases. Gaco’s closed-cell spray foam uses only non-VOC blowing agents and pure water as a blown agent. That makes spray foam insulation a solid choice for eco-friendly insulation.

Blown Cellulose Insulation

Though many experimental alternatives exist, for the average homeowner, the most environmentally friendly, reliably tested insulation on the market is blown-in cellulose. Made of 80% post-consumer recycled newsprint, an application of cellulose to a 1500 square foot home will recycle as much newspaper as one person will use in forty years! The amount of waste created by the United States could be reduced by as much as 3.2 million tons of newsprint per year through the installation of cellulose in new homes, and diverting paper that is currently being streamed into landfills to create cellulose insulation would reduce CO2 emissions by about 8 million tons.

In addition to the obvious eco-friendly aspects of cellulose insulation, it also air seals and insulates. Because cellulose, like spray foam insulation, can be blown into tucked away nooks and crannies, it blocks gaps and cracks through which conditioned air can escape a home and exterior air can infiltrate it. Air sealing makes homes far more energy efficient and reduces energy waste. Air sealing means that your HVAC unit won’t have to work as hard, reducing a home’s carbon footprint significantly.

An inch of blown cellulose applied to an attic has an R-value of 3.21, compared to 3.14 for an inch of fiberglass. However, the colder your attic gets, the lower the efficacy of your fiberglass insulation. Conversely, due to the cellular structure of cellulose, its effectiveness actually improves during cold weather, according to research done at Oak Ridge and Brookhaven National Laboratories and the University of Illinois!

What’s the verdict? Cellulose Insulation!

All things considered, cellulose insulation improves energy efficiency dramatically in a home, which makes it a competitive choice. When you factor in its environmentally friendly composition and production, it’s hard to beat cellulose if you’re an energy-wise homeowner looking to keep your home’s carbon footprint small.

Eco-friendly, energy efficient cellulose insulation

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