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Choosing the Right Insulation: Its Pros, Cons and Applications

Are you stuck with paying prohibitive energy bills during the colder seasons? If your answer to the above question is Yes, then you need to consider giving your house a dose of insulation. This will save you from paying huge amount of energy bills and give you a load of varied other benefits.

There are many ways to make your home more energy-efficient and reduce your heating bill and installing quality insulation materials is just one of them. So, here are the pros, cons and applications of some home insulation materials, abundantly available in the market today.

Insulation Materials

Cellulose:

  1. Recycled content: 80% to 100%
  2. Method and form: Cellulose consists of shredded newsprint and is non-toxic and can get recycled. It's great for attics and can get blown into whatever depth one want, with no joints that allow heat loss. It's an excellent choice for insulating the walls as it allows little air infiltration and is fire and insect resistant.
  3. Notes: It is an ideal choice for performance and environmental impact, but its sensitivity to moisture forbids it for getting used in basements

Fiberglass:

  1. Recycled content: About 20%
  2. Method and form: Batts are most common, but is available in rigid. It has abundant raw materials and offers good R value and reasonably good soundproofing.
  3. Notes: Make sure it's well installed. It doesn't perform well if compressed, and gaps around studs and headers can facilitate air convection encouraging heat loss. Moreover, they are moisture sensitive and shouldn't get installed exposed to moisture. Also, one shouldn't install it against cold concrete walls.

Mineral wool insulation:

  1. Recycled content: 75% industrial waste
  2. Method and form: Mineral wool batts, with higher R value per inch are preferred the most. They possess less health risks during installation, easy to install, less harmful to the environment and performs better for fire and sound. Roxul comfortbatt insulation boards come in various thicknesses starting at 1 ¼ (R5) and great for stopping thermal bridging.
  3. Notes: Roxul comfortbatt insulation doesn't get damaged by moisture, and when allowed to dry will maintain its original R value. It is a more suitable product considered for basement wall insulation.

Expanded Polystyrene Foam (EPS):

  1. Recycled content: Not very high.
  2. Method and form: Comes in panels, 2x8, 4x8 and other dimensions, with variable thicknesses.
  3. Notes: EPS is the only commercially available foam insulation that is at all vapor permeable. Excellent for below grade applications, both inside and out, it stays unharmed by moisture allowing a certain amount of moisture to pass through it.

Extruded Polystyrene Foam (XPS):

  1. Recycled content: Minimal at best.
  2. Method and form: Comes in panels, 2x8, 4x8 and other dimensions also.
  3. Notes: It acts as a vapor and air barrier. It is durable and unharmed by moisture, so it works well below grade.

Home insulation is a barrier that resists the low of heat. The better the heat flow resistance, the more the homeowner can save on heating and cooling costs and can feel comfortable all year round.

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