Insulation Blog Series: Part 1 – The Basics

Everyone has a broad idea of what insulation is and why we install it in our homes. However, most people have only scratched the surface when it comes to the amount of information needed to choose the right insulation for your home. There are several different types of insulation, different r-values (we will go over this), different applications and many other factors to research before making a purchase. Because this subject is so important to our homeowners here in the Northeast (as we all know it can get cold and heating fuel costs a lot!), we will be discussing insulation in-depth and over several blog articles.

Insulation is a material that reduces heat transfer between zones. Many homes already have a layer of insulation, however, they may be under insulated causing more than 40% of the home’s heat to escape.

Insulation is measured by the “R-value”; the higher the R-value, the better, its ability to resist the flow of heat. R-values are computed by figuring out the number of fibers per square inch and the thickness of the insulation.

Many homes in the northeast currently have an R-value of R19 installed (6″). According to the latest industry standards, homes in this area should have a minimum of R49(18″) to R60(22″) installed to match our harsh New England climate.

Types of Insulation
Consumers have more choices than ever among the different types of insulation on the market. We will list some choices briefly but will go more in depth between the advantages of each in a future post.

Fiberglass InsulationFiberglass insulation is made of sand, glass, and other Owens Corning Insulationrecycled products woven together to create a “glass wool.” Fiberglass insulation can be installed in roll out layers or blown in by a professional. Most people think of fiberglass insulation when insulation is referenced (Owens Corning and the Pink Panther). Fiberglass insulation has many benefits including instant energy savings, it will not settle, will not absorb moisture, is generally mess free, and resistant to high temperatures.

Cellulose InsulationCellulose insulation can be made from newspaper, cardboard, cotton, as well as other materials. Cellulose can be blown in dry or sprayed in wet. This type of insulation has several advantages including instant energy savings, sound reduction, and it is often viewed as a green option given it is made from recycled newspaper.

Other Green Insulation Options – Several new types of niche market products are making their way onto the insulation scene. Some of these options include Recycled Jeans Insulation, Cotton, Sheep’s Wool, and even Hemp. While these new insulation types are interesting, we strongly suggest to consumers that they investigate several factors before they purchase these unproven insulation products. Questions to ask include: Are they fire retardant? How much do you need to purchase to achieve the desired R-Value? and Will the product absorb moisture? 

Be sure to check back soon for our next installment on insulation.

P.S. The government is offering up to a $1500 tax credit to homeowners who install insulation this year!

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