Home Insulating & Insulation Techniques and Products

The best way to keep your home cool in the summmer and warm in the winter is through proper use of insulation. Whether your home is brick and concrete, plywood and sheetrock - the inevitable truth is that treated air will always escape from your home in any way that it can... through windows, doors, roofs, floors, and even through the foundation. A snug building envelope begins with good insulation products and superior insulating techniques.

Various Types of Home Insulation for Walls and Ceilings

While the ideal situation would be to layer insulation during the new construction of a home, advances in types of modern insulation have created products with such high heat & cold resistance (R-values) that it pays to re-insulate older homes currently using lesser or depleted methods. Fiberglass breaks down over time, and many older types of insulation crumble to dust invisibly behind the walls of residences built several decades ago. Drafty, poorly-insulated walls lead to higher heating and cooling costs, and increased utility bills in a time when the prices of fossil fuels have skyrocketed to absurd levels. The introduction of new state-of-the-art insulation products and methods can eliminate these unnecessary HVAC costs while saving on escaped greenhouse gases and promoting a greener, cleaner environment.

Energy Saving Tips - Insulation Products & Techniques The average US home can save about 10% on total annual utility costs by properly insulating and sealing their residence against energy loss.

Energy Star's program rates insulation effectiveness based upon units of R-value, but suggests higher R-value ratings for homes built in cooler climates. Keep in mind that insulation affects air conditioning as well as home heating energy, and good insulating practices will trap treated air inside whether it be hot or cold. That being said, proper insulation is of more importance in colder climates due the greater requirements for constant heat during cold winters. Recommended thickness of insulation ranges from 12 to 15 inches, and this depends wholly on the type of product being used. Suggested R-values range from R-38 to R-49 or higher, again depending upon how cold the anticipated weather will be.

Modern Insulation Types - What's Available and What's New

Insulation has come a long way since that familiar pink fiberglass. Roll-out products of all different synthetic materials are still great for walls and attic crawlspaces, but newer methods of spray foam and recycled cellulose insulation are becoming commonplace in modern construction. Wall cavity insulation can fill gaps and holes between inner and outer building surfaces. The very construction walls is changing, with the introduction of SIP's - Structural Insulated Panels. Homeowners and general contractors have options nowadays that were never available to them before.

New Generation Fiberglass Insulation

Always a popular and inexpensive method of insulation, fiberglass roll-out products are still the norm. Better manufacturing and compression techniques have allowed for stronger and more insulating fiberglass products without over-inflated thickness (compression of insulation to 'fit' it into a wall or cavity can actually lower the R-value). Double-sided foil barriers keep the product in place and reflect heat in both directions, and when combined with radiant barriers can seal attics tight. Newer anti-itch fiberglass has also been designed to prevent skin irritation traditionally associated with laying it down.

Spray Cellulose Insulation

Another popular new form of insulating open walls is through the use of cellulose fiber, made from recycled newspaper. Sold in bags resembling giant bricks, cellulose insulation is applied by shooting it through a high-pressure water hose. The moisture causes it to adhere to the outer walls, and thicknesses can be tailored to fit individual needs by simply applying less or more. Cellulose can be very densely packed into a given space, making it an excellent insulator. Not only is this green building product a great insulation technique, but fire-retardants added to the cellulose during the manufacturing phase improve the overall safety of the home as well.

Spray Foam Insulation

Spray foam is generally used as both an insulating and air sealing product for residential walls and ceiling cavities. As the foam is sprayed into walls and crevices, it expands to fill all the nooks and crannies in any enclosed space, making it an extremely flexible and effective air barrier. Sprayed into open walls, excess foam is then scraped down to level of the studs, forming a uniform layer for the wall cavity. Spray foam completely envelops studs, joists, and framing members, creating incredibly tight seals unattainable by fiberglass or many other methods.

Blue Jean Insulation

Yes, you heard it correctly - blue jean insulation is indeed created from the scraps of recycled blue jeans. Aside from the environmentally friendly aspects of recycling, the cotton-based insulation derived from this product is surprisingly insulating and energy efficient. The less dense material traps air and heat within the small barriers between the product layers, holding more heat and actually acting as a sound barrier too. This type of insulation is extremely new, but many manufacturers are looking into the benefits of cotton-based insulation alternatives.

Structural Insulated Panels - SIP

A cutting edge technology, structural insulated panels consist of pre-cut units of laminated strand board that have been filled with a solid core of expanded polystyrene, or EPS. As a home is constructed using SIP's, a sealed thermal envelope is formed around the residence without leaving gaps or spaces at corners or between studs. The density and energy efficient design of structural insulated panels results in dramatically reduced air leakage and lower heating and air conditioning bills for the entire life of the home.


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