I remember when my parents redid the basement of their house years ago. My dad pulled huge rolls of what looked like pink cotton candy from his truck. Not knowing this was fiberglass insulation, I reached out to touch it. My hand turned red and felt itchy the rest of the day. I felt deceived by the insulation; it looked soft and inviting, but it really wasn’t. Well-played, fiberglass insulation.
Traditional fiberglass is made essentially from tiny, thin strands of glass woven together. If fiberglass insulation gets on your hands or you accidently breathe it in, you’ll be uncomfortable for a while or you may notice minor cuts, but chances are you probably won’t land in an emergency room. One danger though that fiberglass insulation presents is it has slight levels of formaldehyde, which is a key ingredient when making embalming fluid used at funeral homes. Yeah, that’s pretty nasty stuff.
Another problem with traditional insulation is fiberglass insulation has a low R-Value. Simply put, the higher the R-Value, the better the insulation is for your home. The lower the R-Value, the poorer an insulator it will be. If you’re insulating your home with low R-Value insulation, you’re wasting money.
If most traditional fiberglass insulation doesn’t really insulate that well if it’s installed incorrectly and it’s made of tiny glass shards, why do we have it in most of our homes? More than likely it’s because fiberglass insulation is relatively cheap and easy to come by. However, if you plan on redoing some insulation in your home to prepare for winter or you happen to be building a brand new house, let’s go over some alternative and environmentally-friendly insulation options.
Do you remember those stylish acid washed jeans from 1986 that you don’t wear anymore? Companies like Bonded Logic take those unwanted fashion mistakes from yester-year and turn them into denim-based insulation for your home. With a wide variety of insulation thicknesses available and more stores selling it, denim insulation is a great alternative. The major drawback here is the initial cost, which might be high depending on the area you plan to insulate. Despite that, better efficiency and safety make it a great option for your home.
Basically comprised of recycled and nontoxic treated newspaper or cardboard, cellulose insulation provides efficient insulation for your home at a lower cost than cotton. When it first came out, cellulose wasn’t a popular option because homeowners feared that cellulose would invite critters and mold into their home. However, advances in nontoxic chemicals protect the insulation from these issues and make it more flame resistant.
If you have a mass of ugly holiday sweaters, you might be in luck! Many people turn to sheep wool to help keep their homes insulated and for good reason. Sheep live in some of the most intense cold climates in the world. The tightly-packed fibers trap air making tiny air pockets, but it also has the ability to release moisture. Furthermore, the resistance to fire makes wool a safe choice when insulating your home.
Sometimes people turn away from the previous types of insulation because while they do insulate well, they don’t cover and fill small cracks like spray insulation. Well, you’re in luck! About 10 years ago, soy-based spray insulation hit the market. Like traditional foam spray insulation, the soy-based one expands once it’s sprayed into the frame, filling minute cracks ensuring optimal insulation coverage. Like other insulation materials, it’s mold and moisture resistant and non-flammable.
Using natural, renewable resources to insulate your home will help you cut down on using artificial, chemical-based materials that can be hazardous to your home. Why would you want to insulate with tiny, formaldehyde-ridden glass shards when you could use safer materials like wool or cotton? Plus using recycled denim or wool prevents it from ending up in our landfills. Using biodegradable insulation like the soy-based spray will allow it to safely decompose if it’s replaced later.
All of these alternative types of insulation may cost a bit more than the traditional fiberglass insulation, but the increased savings on your heating bills plus the easier and safer installation method these materials offer make them options to consider. Although the initial cost may increase on the front end, the overall savings you can rack up over the years on your energy bills will make your investment worthwhile, plus you’re recycling or using renewable resources to insulate your home.