Most traditional forms of insulation are of low R-value meaning they have low insulating qualities. Consequently, they are relatively cheap and not friendly to the environment. This gives newer alternative forms of insulation an upper hand when considering the type of insulation to choose from.
Alternative insulation forms may be a bit costly compared to traditional insulation methods but the guaranteed safety, increased savings on bills and easy installation make them better options to consider when doing insulation for your home. Most of them are recyclable and from renewable sources. Some of these options are explained below.
I. Cotton Insulation
Cotton insulation is manufactured from textile plants and old clothing after being turned to denim. It offers a good alternative and provides thickened insulation. Despite the fact that its initial costs are high, it is very efficient, safe (no chemicals or respiratory irritants) and protects the environment since unused denim materials could have as well ended in landfills.
To make it non-flammable, an anti-fungal agent and pest repellent, cotton insulation is treated with boric acid which is relatively non-toxic.
II. Cotton BattsInsulation
Cotton Batts use more than 90 percent of recycled material that could have instead been disposed in landfills. It has an R-value of around 3.4 per inch and it’s usually preferred because it’s easy to install.At the end of its life, cotton can easily be recycled.
Its insulation qualities makes it a worth investment despite the fact that it’s costly and made from cotton which is a chemical intensive crop.
III. Cellulose Insulation
Manufactured from non-toxic newspapers and card boards duly treated and recycled. it is relatively cheap compared to cotton and is a very efficient insulation material, initially, cellulose insulation could develop mold but advanced techniques and use of non-toxic chemicals has ensured protection from mold and critters and has also been made more flame resistant.
Application can sometimes be through spraying into wall cavities or shredded dry for attic insulation.Treatment with boric acid like in cotton makes it an anti-fungal agent and a pest repellent.
Despite the fact that it is Eco-friendly, allergic or chemically sensitive individuals can be affected by the newsprint ink. Also, it tends to absorb moisture which sometimes doesn’t dry up leading to mold growth and leaching out of boric acid.
IV. Wool Insulation
Sheep wool, a very efficient insulation material has readily been embraced. Most people consider it a better insulation material because of its fibers, tightly packed to trap air and create air pockets. Consequently, wool has the ability to release moisture and resist fire thus very safe for home insulation. Apart from sheep wool, any material made from wool can also be used for insulation. Wool, being a natural material is very safe insulation material.
V. Soy Based Spray Insulation
Some people consider Soy Based Spray Insulation as the best form of insulation since it covers and fills the tiniest of cracks. This type of insulation works like traditional foam spray insulation. On spraying, it expands, fills every small crack and ensures maximum insulation coverage. It is not flammable, it resists mold and moisture and very safe insulation material to use.
Soy based insulation is biodegradable thus environmental friendly. It safely decomposes making it easy to replace later without landfills.
VI. Fiberglass Insulation
Also regarded as the pink stuff, Its one of the commonest insulation materials made of glass fibers which break of easily and when inhaled cause lung complications. It contains phenol-formaldehyde substance which could initially cause cancer to living tissues but present developments have eliminated the use of phenol-formaldehyde as a binder and increased its recycled glass content to 40 %
Fiberglass loses its R-value at very low temperatures below negative 25 degree Celsius.
VII. Foam Insulation
Form insulation is a liquid applied on new walls by spraying, pouring or blowing. On application, it expands to fill all cavities and nooks. This makes it the best material to stop air leaks and to be used in foundations or where other insulation materials have failed. Before use, always consult a professional since other types of foam are only good for retrofitting.
Initially, foam was not all natural due to the presence of polyurethane substance and chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) that threatened the ozone layer but due to innovation and technology, more Eco- friendly foam manufactured from vegetables and other recycled content and which uses oil from corn fructose and soy is currently in the market. During application, vegetable-based form is blown with materials, which do not damage the ozone layer i.e. Hydro fluorocarbons (HFCs) or carbon dioxide and water. Foam is a very good insulator with an R-value of up to 7 per inch.
For the first two years, the gases in foam block airflow making it to hold its R-value. As time goes by, the gases begin to escape leading to a reduced R-value this can be prevented by use of a foil radiant barrier.
Other types of foam insulation include;
Polyiso Foam Insulation; this type of insulation is suitable for walls and roofs. Most people prefer it because of its durability and high R-value of up to seven per inch. Instead of HCFCs that was used initially in production, new versions are made from hydrocarbons.
Although costly, its durability makes it a worthy insulation material to consider. Before installation, always seek professional guidance
Cementitious Foam Insulation: Cementitious Foam is manufactured from magnesium oxide usually obtained from seawater. It has a not very high R-value of 3.9 per inch and doesn’t emit any toxic substances nor even shrink on installation. It is preferred because it is a very safe substance, non-flammable, durable and also recyclable.Its only setback is its high cost and easy crumbling that cause dust on installation.
Spray Foam Insulation; when spray foam insulation is considered, it exhibits an R-value of 5.9 per inch and doesn’t sag. Consequently it dries up becoming inert and preventing seepage. For long term insulation, it’s highly desirable because of its durability nature.
Sometimes when spraying, out gassing may occur. It’s therefore advised to seek guidance and professional help before installation.
Polyisocyanurate Foam Insulation; this type of foam insulation is recommended for exterior retrofitting on roofs. It has an R-value of around 7.5 per inch and employs the use of hydrocarbons that do not release greenhouse gases. It’s also called “Polyiso.”