Each year as the winter season hits there are many articles in the news and online from construction experts about how to make a house more energy efficient. CIMA monitors and shares information and links to such stories from other news sources as a service to members and readers of the Greenest Insulation Blog.
With an exceptionally hard winter bombarding most of the U.S. this year the number of such stories appear to be on the rise. The web is awash with stories from newspapers, magazines, television stations and blogs offering ways to make homes more energy efficient and help homeowners stay warmer and lower heating bills. There is also a very clear trend in the recommendations: add or upgrade the insulation. This is great but many of these articles, such as a recent one in the venerable Popular Mechanics, tend to run short on space when it comes to expounding on the real differences of insulation products.
We applaud this trend but also want to share some facts to help homeowners sort through the clutter and make the best decision and choice for their home and goals. There are several types of products to choose from when considering a home insulation improvement and they all share the same basic insulating benefits. Homeowners should be aware of some key differences between products though as they relate to the type of improvements, and how environmentally friendly the insulation really is. For those with special needs, such as retrofitting an older home, or a desire to have a very low environmental impact, cellulose insulation is the clear choice.
The Department of Energy estimates there are millions of older homes with insufficient insulation. (Many of those winter weather improvement stories mention this fact.) Most older homes will have some type of attic insulation. Attics are usually fairly easy to retrofit. Dry blown cellulose insulation is an excellent choice and can typically be installed over the older existing insulation.
However, many older homes have little or no wall cavity insulation. Without properly insulated exterior walls it’s impossible to achieve the maximum energy efficiency and savings. Retrofitting wall insulation is much more difficult than attics. With most products it requires some level of demolition at great expense and disruption causing homeowners to balk. Cellulose insulation is the perfect product for retrofitting exterior walls. In most cases it can be done without demolition or disruption to the interior of the home at all. A qualified cellulose insulation contractor can blow in the insulation from outside the home. The cost can quickly be recovered with lower energy bills. Be sure to consider this option before opting out of retrofitting walls in older homes.
Greenest of the Green®
When it comes to environmental considerations cellulose insulation rises above the other most common products. In fact, CIMA has registered Greenest of the Green to help brand the Eco-friendly characteristics of cellulose insulation. Consumers looking for green building products can count on cellulose insulation to exceed expectations:
- Cellulose insulation is up to 85% recycled paper (most of it post consumer waste)
- Cellulose insulation has the lowest embodied energy of the leading insulation products (it takes less energy to produce so has less effect on the environment)
- Cellulose insulation is produced regionally and has generally shorter shipping distances lowering resulting fuel emissions.
- The waste created during installation of a building product has an impact on the environment. Cellulose insulation is fully recovered and reused on site by professional installers.
- Cellulose insulation is basically plant cell mater in the form of paper that is made from wood and thus contains high percentages of carbon. When added to homes cellulose insulation traps that carbon for years effectively lowering the carbon footprint of homes.
Not all of those stories about staving off winter weather will share these facts about cellulose insulation. But rest assured they are all correct when it comes to the value of upgrading insulation. There is no better return on the investment than with an insulation upgrade. Just some important benefits to selecting the best product for the job.