As the insulation industry is taking strides toward sustainability, it's crucial to educate yourself on the eco-friendly merits and insulation credentials of each material.
Insulation greatly decreases the amount of energy we use, keeping our homes comfortable throughout the year. It’s a critical addition to protecting the environment in our daily lives. Here, we examine the three main types of insulation — fiberglass, cellulose, and foam — and weigh the pros and cons of each. We also look at some of the alternative insulation materials, including their "green" credentials compared to traditional materials.
Decode the R-values R-values tell you how well a type of insulation prevents heat transfer. Typically, the thickness and density of the material determine the R-value. The higher the R-value, the better the material will insulate. The number is presented per inch, so an R-value of 3.1 at 12 inches would provide an overall value of R-38. The chart below offers guidelines for R-values based on where you live and what you are insulating. Whenever possible, choose the material with the highest R-value to get the most out of your insulation.
(The Regional R-Values chart is available here.)
Where to Insulate The most vulnerable areas for heat loss in your home include the attic, outer walls, and crawl spaces. You might also consider insulating your hot water pipes to prevent freezing, or your water heaters and HVAC vent ducts to prevent energy loss. If these areas are already insulated, you can add extra layers or replace outdated materials to decrease your home's energy consumption.
Choose Your Material Many factors will determine which type of insulation to choose, including your home’s construction and the type of insulation already in place. Here are some of the most popular options:
Fiberglass Fiberglass is a mineral fiber created from recycled glass, sand, and other materials. It is available in three types:
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