What’s The Most Eco-Friendly Insulation?

The main aim of insulating your home is to reduce home heating bills and the amount of fuel you need to stay warm and comfortable all year round. So in a way, all insulation is an eco-friendly option, but there is a new wave of materials that not only prevent heat lose but are also produced from natural materials or using recycled materials.

Fibreglass insulation is probably the cheapest option, but it’s far from the most environmentally friendly material. The creation of fibreglass insulation is a very energy-intensive process. Associated with a range of health problems such as skin, eye and breathing irritation, fibreglass insulation can contain up to 30% recycled glass, but this pales in comparison to some of the other options.

eco-friendly-insulation

Why Insulation So Important & Basic Thermodynamics

To understand why insulation is essential, it’s essential to have a basic understanding of thermodynamics. Sounds complicated, but it’s pretty simple really. Thermodynamics tells us that heat is transferred from areas of high temperature to low. And while the age-old saying that heat always rises is usually accurate, it’s the difference in temperatures that dictates the direction of heat movement.

Air density is another important factor. In winter, warm, low-density air inside the home moves outward into the dense, cold air. Whilst in the summer, the warm, low-density air from outside moves into the home from the top, while cooler, denser air leaves the home through floor level air vents.

The aim of insulation your home is to limit the movement of air. Since air can move in several directions, insulation is needed on the ceiling, ceiling, walls and floor to control when and how air enters and leaves the building.

Insulation is one of the most critical factors contributing to the energy efficiency of a home. With a poorly insulated house, a homeowner will waste more heating and cooling, which in turn uses more resources, costing more and adding to the carbon footprint.

eco-friendly-insulation

How Is Insulation Measured?

The effectiveness of insulation is measured by its thermal resistance value or R-value, which is between 1 and 60. This number represents the material’s resistance to heat transfer. The better the material is, the higher the R-value.

Why Opt For Environmentally Friendly Insulation?

Safe and Sustainable Materials

Formaldehyde-free materials make green insulation the best choice for eco-friendly homes. Unlike fibreglass, insulation materials such as wool and cotton are safe to handle and do not cause irritation to the skin or the breathing system. And when you choose a green material to insulate your home with you are significantly reducing your carbon footprint.

Reduced Manufacturing Costs

Insulation materials such as wool, denim and cork require minimal energy during their production when compared to fibreglass insulation. The energy needed to produce fibreglass insulation is 10 times more energy than cellulose insulation.

Energy Savings

As mentioned above, it could be claimed that any insulation material is ‘green’ due to the energy savings from reduced heating bills, but true green alternatives use sustainable, recyclable materials.

Types Of Eco-Friendly Insulation

Fleece / Wool

You’ve heard of using wool on clothes and blankets to keep warm, but what about our walls and ceilings? The Mongolians have been using fleece to insulate their homes for millennia.

Compressed wool fibres trap air in pockets between the fibres creating a barrier and stopping heat loss. The inner layer of this breathable material absorbs moisture and does not feel wet or affect its insulating capacity.

eco-friendly-insulation

Aerogel / NanogelĀ  / Kalwall

In 1931, Samuel Stephens Kistler invented Aerogel, a material consisting of more than 90% of air. Its manufacturing process involves removing liquid from silica at high pressure. It’s an ultralight material that comes in boards and is reasonably priced.

Denim

Cotton is one of nature’s gifts growing in warmer climates all over the world. It’s a natural, renewable material that makes an excellent home insulator. And whilst it might sound a bit mad, the denim is rolled into batts and installed in a similar fashion to fibreglass. But unlike fibreglass, cotton does not contain any dangerous formaldehyde.

Cotton does not cause breathing problems, and it’s a natural insect repellent. But it is expensive at about twice the price of fibreglass.

Thermacork

Thermacork is a natural, renewable, recyclable and biodegradable oak bark product. Once produced, the finished product actually produces a negative carbon footprint. And as it doesn’t contain any chemicals, it’s not going to cause any allergies.

Polystyrene

As strange as it sounds, this universally hated plastic is actually a green insulation material. Why? In this case, it is considered environmentally friendly because the r value is so high that it can save a lot of energy.

Stone Wool

As strange as it sounds, this universally hated plastic is actually a green insulation material. Why? In this case, it is considered environmentally friendly because the r value is so high that it can save a lot of energy.

Wood Wool

As strange as it sounds, this universally hated plastic is actually a green insulation material. Why? In this case, it is considered environmentally friendly because the r value is so high that it can save a lot of energy.

Cellulose

As strange as it sounds, this universally hated plastic is actually a green insulation material. Why? In this case, it is considered environmentally friendly because the r value is so high that it can save a lot of energy.

Spray Foam Insulation / Icynene

As strange as it sounds, this universally hated plastic is actually a green insulation material. Why? In this case, it is considered environmentally friendly because the r value is so high that it can save a lot of energy.

Conclusion

As strange as it sounds, this universally hated plastic is actually a green insulation material. Why? In this case, it is considered environmentally friendly because the r value is so high that it can save a lot of energy.

Further Reading

Technical U & R Values

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