Exploring New Home Construction

What Are Your Most Environmentally-Friendly Insulation Options?

Whether you're building your dream home from the ground up or remodeling your current home, you may be wondering what you can do to make your house more energy-efficient. Because the energy used to heat and cool your home generally accounts for more than half your monthly electric bill, ensuring that this warm (or cool) air remains in your home rather than slowly leaking to the outside is key in reducing energy bills. Read on to learn more about several types of insulation that will keep your electricity and gas bills low while helping preserve the environment.

Why should you use environmentally-friendly insulation?

All insulation is per se environmentally-friendly, as the well-insulated house uses substantially less electricity than a house with inadequate (or no) insulation. Lowering your electricity consumption helps reduce the need for fossil fuels, coal, and other energy sources that are mined at a high cost to the earth's natural resources.

However, by using recycled or "green" insulation rather than insulation crafted from artificial or petroleum-based materials, you'll be able to up your environmental-friendliness quotient while helping keep your house a comfortable temperature all year long. 

What are some types of environmentally-friendly insulation?

  • Recycled blue jeans or cotton

Jeans are one of the most classic pieces of anyone's wardrobe. However, styles (and sizes) change, and you may find yourself with a closet full of old jeans that aren't quite vintage and don't quite fit. By shredding these jeans (or simply rolling them into a thick cylinder), you may be able to insulate the open areas of your home (like roof eaves) without incurring much additional cost.

Because denim is so tightly-woven, it is nearly impermeable to air gusts and will prevent outside air from entering through any chinks or cracks in the roof (as well as prevent climate-controlled indoor air from escaping). 

  • Soy spray foam insulation

Spray foam insulation is a popular option for homeowners who don't want to mess with itchy fiberglass panels, or who must insulate an enclosed or hard-to-access area. A liquefied form of this insulation (generally composed of polyurethane) is sprayed from a pressurized nozzle into the area to be insulated, where it expands to fill any gaps and then hardens. 

Traditional spray foam insulation can cause breathing difficulties or skin irritation with prolonged exposure. Although these risks are lessened once the insulation has dried in a sealed area, for those who have chemical sensitivities or asthma (or who want to avoid other potentially harmful effects of this insulation), soy-based spray foam insulation may be a better option. This insulation operates just like traditional spray foam insulation, simply substituting a soy oil mixture for the polyurethane foam normally used. 

  • Cellulose fiber insulation 

Those who have ever used old newspapers to line an outdoor dog house are already aware of the insulating qualities of paper. Cellulose fibers -- a fluffy substance composed of broken-down paper shreds and other wood and cotton strands -- can make a highly effective alternative to other types of insulation. Depending upon the composition of the cellulose fibers, they may be formed into bricks or sheets (like fiberglass insulation) or can be converted to a form that allows them to be sprayed into tight or hard-to-access areas. 

This insulation is also a great way to help keep old papers out of the landfill. Because many types of printer paper and other documents are treated with certain chemicals (like bleach), they do not decompose as quickly as natural paper. By repurposing old papers and wood scraps as insulation, you can reduce your energy bills while helping improve the environment bit by bit. 

For more information about your insulation options, check out websites like http://biosenv.com/.