What Is The Most Eco-Friendly Insulation?

Just about everyone knows how important recycling and driving energy-efficient cars are to reducing your environmental impact, but did you know that your home’s insulation building material could also make a big difference in decreasing your carbon footprint? 

In this article, we’ll go over how having the right amount of insulation can help decrease your home’s CO2 emissions and talk about which types are the most eco friendly insulation materials. 

How Insulation Can Help Reduce Your Environmental Impact

Having enough insulation in your home is important to reducing your energy consumption. Because insulation determines how hard your heating and cooling systems have to work to keep your home at a regular temperature, installing the right home insulation materials can reduce your carbon emissions (and your energy bill).

Homes with proper insulation are better protected against outside weather, which means they only use a fraction of the energy to keep homes at a comfortable temperature. It’s estimated that buildings in the US with good insulation slash CO2 emissions by 780 million tons per year.1 

The problem is that only one in every ten homes in the US currently has the right amount of insulation needed for this kind of energy efficiency.2

So how can you tell if your home is underinsulated?

Signs Your Home Needs New Insulation 

Here are some things to look out for to determine whether or not your home has enough insulation:

  • Drafts in the house
  • Uneven temperature from room to room
  • Cold walls and floors 
  • High energy bills 
  • Poor sound barrier

If your home shows any of these signs, it’s likely that you’re wasting energy (and money!) due to poor insulation installation, and it’s time to replace it.  

How the Insulation Material You Choose Impacts the Environment

Having enough insulation in your home is important to lowering your home’s energy consumption, but not all insulation materials are equally as eco-friendly. Some materials actually risk increasing your environmental impact. 

To explain why, let’s take a look at spray foam.  

The Environmental Downsides of Spray Foam Insulation

Spray foam rose has risen in popularity as a form of insulation in recent years because of its vapor barrier and air sealing abilities. Unfortunately, these properties come with downsides for the environment. 

Spray foam gives off a ton of greenhouse gases, which depending on its chemical makeup, can be up to 1,400 times more damaging to the environment than carbon dioxide.3 Spray foam is also often treated with a variety of harsh chemicals to help keep them from becoming flammable. These chemicals can have a negative impact both on the environment and the air quality of your home if off-gassing occurs. 

The good news is there are a number of alternative insulation options that are much better for the environment.

Eco-Friendly Insulation Material   

When it comes to looking for an environmentally friendly insulation, here are some important factors to look for:

  • Material Quality – Insulation that is environmentally friendly will be made out of recycled material and have minimal chemical treatment. 
  • R-value – Materials with a high R-value will be better able to regulate heat flow in your home and therefore better at reducing your energy consumption. 
  • Longevity – Insulation that lasts a long time can reduce overall waste as it won’t need to be replaced as often.
  • Price – When looking at sustainable insulation materials, it’s important to make sure that you pick one that fits your budget.

Here’s how some of the top eco-friendly insulation materials compare based on these metrics:

  • Fiberglass (best option)
    • Made of between 40-60% recycled glass 
    • Has an R-value of between 2.2-4.3 
    • Can last up to 100 years 
    • Made out of low-cost material
  • Cellulose 
    • Made up of between 82-85% recycled paper 
    • Has an R-value between 3.2-3.5
    • Can last up to 30 years4
    • Made out of low-cost material
  • Cotton 
    • 85% recycled fibers and 15% chemically treated plastic 
    • Has an R-value between 3.4-3.7
    • Can last up to 100 years5
    • Made out of higher-priced material
  • Mineral Wool 
    • 75% recycled building material 
    • Has an R-value between 3.7-4.2 
    • Can last up to 100 years 
    • Made out of higher-priced material 

Which Insulation Material is The Most Eco-Friendly?

While having an insulation material made out of recycled contents is important, what matters most is finding an effective but affordable insulator that will help you reduce your long-term environmental impact. 

All the insulation types listed above have different strengths, but the fiberglass insulation product is the only one that meets all the green insulation standards. If you’re interested in installing insulation, learn more about fiberglass insulation costs here.

Upgrade Your Insulation with Attic Construction

If you’re looking for a way you can reduce your environmental impact and save yourself some money, Attic Construction is here to help with all your insulation installation needs. We specialize in installing eco-friendly fiberglass that is built to last. 

To find out how you can take advantage of our award-winning attic insulation services, contact us today for a free attic inspection.

Sources:

  1. Elemental Green. The Complete Guide to Eco-Friendly Insulation. https://elemental.green/the-complete-guide-to-eco-friendly-insulation/
  2. Energy Star. Why Seal and Insulate? https://www.energystar.gov/campaign/seal_insulate/why_seal_and_insulate
  3. Leaf Score. The Best Materials for Eco-Friendly Insulation. https://www.leafscore.com/eco-friendly-living-products/the-best-materials-for-eco-friendly-insulation/
  4. REenergize CO. When to Replace Your Home Insulation. https://www.reenergizeco.com/replace-home-insulation/#:~:text=Some%20studies%20have%20even%20shown,as%2015%20years%20after%20installation
  5. Build with Rise. Cotton Batt Insulation. https://www.buildwithrise.com/products/building-envelope-and-structure/insulation/batt-insulation/cotton-batt-insulation#:~:text=Cotton%20batt%20insulation%20can%20last%20up%20to%20100%20years%20under%20suitable%20conditions

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