Insulating Your Home with Alternative MaterialsBecause the average household generates 50-70% of its energy bill through heating and cooling, properly insulating your home is one of the easiest ways to cut back on energy usage and lower your bills year round. Most conventional insulators, such as fiberglass and mineral wool contain carcinogenic resins and can be challenging to install. Green entrepreneurism has generated a number of affordable alternative insulators that are made of eco-friendly materials, which are healthier for your family and the environment. Here are some alternative to fiberglass and mineral wool to consider for your insulation project:

  • Natural Fibers, particularly those made from recycled denim, have been growing in popularity with sustainable builders. This type of insulation is manufactured with 85 % recycled cotton material, contains no chemical irritants and requires no warning labels. If you insulate with natural fibers you are also ensuring that those faded 501’s, which were headed toward the landfill, can now be recycled into the walls of your home.
  • Cellulose is another popular option. Made from100% recycled newspapers and cardboard, this alternative requires substantially less energy to manufacture and install than traditional insulation. Cellulose is available as loose fill or spray-on material so it fills every crevice, preventing energy loss through drafts and condensation caused by air infiltration. Cellulose costs the same as fiberglass, but is much more environmentally friendly and is just as readily available.
  • Paint-on insulation is one of the most flexible of all the emerging materials. This product, named Nansulate, utilizes nanotechnology. Microscopic particles fused with acrylic resin create a nontoxic, environmentally-friendly product that is both water and mold resistant. Though more costly than other options, paint-on insulation can be applied to ceilings, walls, and flooring, making it the most versatile of all the insulators.
  • Greensulate is the newest insulating material created from oyster mushrooms. It is by far the cheapest and greenest of all the options, with a forecast manufacturing cost of $1 per square foot. Greensulate is 100% natural, biodegradable, and fire retardant, so it does not require additional chemicals and will biodegrade when it is no longer in use. This technology is winning global attention with its unique ability to decrease carbon emissions on a globally significant scale.

Glenn Wright, RHI

Registered Home Inspector