Insulation and Ventilation: "Green" Insulation

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When considering your insulation options, you may find yourself balancing up the environmental benefits of the insulation with the initial cost.

If you prefer the kind of “green” that helps the environment, you should consider the insulation’s overall impact, do some research, and make your selection based on what you discover. Find out how much recycled material is used in its production (for example, fiberglass insulation makers are the second-largest users of post-consumer recycled glass in the US) and how much energy it takes to produce it. You will also need to think about the renewability of any raw materials you may be using. Also remember that the addition of any chemicals to the product for fire retardancy or protection may also have an environmental impact.

If you are more concerned with the kind of “green” that goes into your wallet, bear in mind that experts claim that the initial cost of installing insulation can be recouped in three to seven years, depending on how much is installed and what is altered in your home. Insulation is also part of the tax incentive in the 2005 national energy law. If you make energy efficiency improvements to your home, such as improving its insulation, you may qualify. Energy- efficient windows, doors and roofs, and energy-efficient heating and cooling equipment are also included.


When choosing insulation, you may take into account the material’s cost, environmental impact, ease of use, suitability to your needs, and thermal properties (“R-value”). The effectiveness of a soundproofing material is largely based on what it is made of and how and where it is installed in your home.

Blanket insulation: Versatile and easy-to-use, rolls are usually the same width as the space between joists or rafters.

Framefoil: Retards heat transfer by reflecting heat back to its source and by trapping air in its multiple layers.

6 mil polyethylene: This waterproof, clear polythene membrane is suitable for use below new concrete or wood floors.

4 mill polyethylene: This polythene sheet plastic is used to stop water vapor from penetrating ceilings and sometimes walls.

Cellulose: Requires a blower, which can be rented. Ideal for small spaces.

Pipe insulation: Use this in a cold roof to prevent pipes from freezing, which may cause costly leaks and damage.

Pipe lagging: Use to wrap around attic water pipes.

Flanking tape: Use to cover gaps along edges when soundproofing.

Acoustic underlayment: Used under flooring instead of regular underlayment, this helps to improve a room’s sound insulation.

Polystyrene board: A rigid board installed below floors but also in roofs for insulation. Adjacent edges interlock using a tongue-and-groove design.

Extruded polystyrene board: A rigid board used to insulate concrete floors. It is also bonded under flooring sheets to make storage decking in an attic.

Rigid board insulation: This comes in panels and provides a high level of insulation. It is more expensive than blanket or loose-fill insulation.

Acoustic mat: Used in a continuous layer below flooring, this densely packed material reduces the effects of airborne noise.

Acoustic slab: This dense soundproofing material is sold in slabs. It can be laid below floors, above ceilings, and within walls.


Continue: Insulating an Attic

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