One of the biggest causes of energy loss in homes is the lack of or inferior quality of home insulation. Insulating your home properly can save you hundreds of dollars on electricity bills and is one of the most important considerations when you decide to build an eco-friendly home. There are several highly effective, sustainable building materials that you can use when insulating your home to minimise energy loss and maximise savings and eco-friendliness.
In this article, we will refer to “R” ratings, which are used to measure the thermal resistance of the insulation products. For reference, the lower the number is, the better the insulation it offers. It is usually measured in negative numbers.
The manufacturing of denim products results in massive amounts of leftover scrap cotton that can easily be repurposed. Instead of disposing of the leftover cotton or burning it, most denim companies will sell the cotton to insulation companies. Cotton is one of the Greenest choices for insulating your home since it is a renewable resource.
The cotton is typically made into sheets of insulation, like fiberglass insulation, and is easily installed. Cotton has an R-value of -3.2 to -3.7 per inch of thickness, which is on par with modern fiberglass insulation. While cotton insulation is more expensive than traditional fiberglass insulation (about double the price), it is more eco-friendly and contains no formaldehyde which is a proven carcinogen (cancer causing agent).
Icynene Spray on Insulation
Icynene is one of the most effective insulation solutions for your home because of how effective it is at insulating and sealing any cracks or potential energy leaks. It is made from castor oil, which is all-natural and is easily applied by professionals. It is simply sprayed onto the walls that need to be insulated, about the thickness of a coat of paint. The icynene then expands about 100 fold and creates a thick insulating blanket on the wall.
Icynene has an R-value of about -3.6 per inch of thickness. In addition to serving as a great heat insulator, it also diffuses noise very well and acts like a sound muffler. Since air bubbles are trapped in the foam when it expands, it allows water to evaporate which reduces your risk of mould and bacteria growth. Depending on how thick the insulation is, it can reduce your monthly energy bill by as much as 45-50%. It does have a few drawbacks though. Since the icynene is so good at insulating the home, you will need to install a ventilation system and you will also need to pay more than you would for traditional fiberglass insulation (about triple the price).
Sheep's Wool Insulation
Another highly, eco-friendly insulation solution is all natural sheep’s wool. Scientists have created new insulating material from sheep’s wool. When the wool is compressed into insulation sheets, the fibres contain millions of air pockets which hold air. This allows it to retain heat in the cool months and cool air in the warm months.
The wool insulation can also absorb almost all the water in the air without losing any insulating capability. It actually has the opposite reaction, because wool generates heat when it gets moist and prevents condensation of the water. The insulation made from wool has an R-value of about -3 to -4 per inch of thickness and is all natural, which makes it a great option for insulating your home. While it is more expensive than its fiberglass counterpart, it has the added benefit of moisture absorption and absolutely no carcinogens. It can be installed in the same manner and does not require a professional contractor.