Insulating your home, the green way
A correct home insulation is the key to energy efficiency and reducing the carbon footprint of the household. However, some of the traditional alternatives to insulate a home aren't as green as others. When planning a construction, an addition or redo your wall insulation, there are some options to the traditional polyurethane foam you should know about. Here are some of green insulation alternatives for you!
Why polyurethane spray foam is not green as it seems?
Spray foam is usually considered green because of its great power of insulation and tight seal which make homes more efficient. Nowadays, green building is all about avoiding the use of plastics made from fossil fuels and toxic chemicals - and that’s exactly what spray foam is.
A complex chemical reaction is needed to apply the foam and toxic gasses are freed from the process. Even manufacturers claim that the material is inert when cured. In highly controlled environments -like the laboratories used for testing- this claim is true, but there is insufficient information to state the same claim is true in all not-so-regular environments like a family house. There have been numerous incidents reported of toxic gasses intoxications after weeks of application and some manufacturers have been sued on this. Take precautions when hiring a company to apply this material in your house.
Natural fibers for a greener insulation
One of the options for wall insulation is the cotton denim insulation, consisting in batts of 80% post-consumed natural fibers. The scraps of the manufactured jeans that you are using right now are picked, processed and treated with an all natural fire retardant. This material is absolutely non- toxic or irritant and it is 100% biodegradable.
Another option is cellulose insulation, which is also made from post-consumed material like paper. This material can come like loose fill -dry cellulose- , a dense pack or even a spray -wet cellulose-. Most of modern systems are made from low-dust materials that make them even safer. It is also treated with natural fire retardants and it is 100% biodegradable.
Traditional batts and aerogel blankets
Outside natural fibers, you can choose mineral wool which is the upgraded and safer version of the old fiberglass, with all of its pros and none of its cons. Mineral wool is dense, firm, and fits into the stud space of walls, providing great insulation. It is not irritant and doesn’t need special precautions when installed.
Aerogel is a synthetic porous ultralight material which can give you almost twice the insulation performance of the close-cell polyurethane foam. These “blankets” were developed to insulate spatial vehicules and now are manufactured to super-insulate homes to make them more energy efficient. It is not a cheap material, but a lot more projects are choosing it day after day.
There are a lot of options if you choose to insulate your home the green way, but you might face a loss of performance or an increase of the costs while choosing these materials. The good news is that the value of your house will be higher the greener you get, and your family and the environment will be safer. Are you ready to change?