Choosing The Right Insulation Is More Than Just Looking At The R-Value

By   January 24, 2016

insulationThese days, we’re all trying to save money by reducing our energy use and making our homes “green”. And insulating it is obviously the first step.  But what may not be as obvious is choosing which insulation material to use that is the “greenest” and will give you the return for the dollar.

Many of the better insulators have chemicals in them which have an impact on the climate and our health. But then there are products that are made with recycled materials that are good for certain situations or even impossible to obtain. The following is a list of things to consider when choosing an insulation product for your home.

1) Insulating Effectiveness: R-value stands for resistance to heat flow and is how insulating products are measured. Another factor to consider is how good a material blocks air movement which is affected by how a wall performs with it. Things that can affect that are the air sealing, construction, temp swings, and how the material is installed.

2) Product Cost vs. Cost Savings: This is where the old saying “you get what you pay for” actually is true. An insulating product that is expensive to purchase will most likely save you more money over time.

3) Impact on The Environment: There are compounds in some foam insulating products that actually emit greenhouse gases. This counteracts the climate benefit you are going for. Look for insulation products that are made from recycled content which offer less overall impact on the ecology.

4) Chemical Safety: By avoiding products that contain chemicals, you not only protect the air quality, but make it safer for human health too. Products such as formaldehyde use to be the most common binding ingredient in insulation. Today, it all but phased out of many insulation materials.

As you can see, the choices you have in insulation products is complicated. For those who choose to not use the spray foam type of insulation because of concerns of the chemicals, you will have to give up other things, such as the ability to insulate thicker in some areas.  Then again, if you go with a low R-value rate, you may get more of what you’re looking for.

The type of insulation you choose to use is dependent on your project. For new home build or filling in an open wall cavity, your options are different as opposed to insulating existing walls. If the area you’re insulating is prone to moisture, there are some materials that are better than others.