Green insulation is a modern trend in house construction that is becoming increasingly popular. We all know that insulation helps make a house more energy-efficient, conserving heat in the winter and keeping it off in the summer. Green insulation offers an extra advantage—since it is made of natural materials it provides comfort to your home and decreases your electricity bills in the most eco-friendly way possible. Below you will find some of the most common types of green insulation.
Recycled Denim (Cotton) Insulation
This insulation is made of recycled blue jeans, i.e. 100% cotton. It is easy to install as it requires no special protective clothing or equipment. What’s better, unlike many other insulation types, recycled denim is not going to emit any unpleasant or dangerous gases into your living space.
Sheep Wool Insulation
Sheep wool has excellent insulation qualities (not surprisingly, people have been making clothes from sheep wool for centuries). Moreover, it is totally eco-friendly and can be used both as a ceiling and sidewall insulation. Unfortunately, sheep wool insulation is not manufactured in the USA and needs to be imported from England, which, of course, raises its overall price.
This is a strong, durable insulation material, which is sold in the form of spray-in foam cans. Unlike other foams, Icynene does not produce any off-gasses. Its main disadvantage is the price—it is three to four times more expensive than regular fiberglass. Moreover, because it is water-blown, Icynene must be installed by a professional, which further raises its cost.
Cellulose insulation is basically made of recycled paper. It is suitable for attic floor or roof insulation and is installed via an electric blowing machine. Cellulose is relatively cheap but not particularly healthy: it is highly flammable and mold-prone. Moreover, it can become a breeding ground for various pests.
This insulation is widely available as cut-to-size Styrofoam. It has the best R-value of all insulation types (the R-value of a material indicates its thermal resistance, i.e. the amount of heat it can hold off). Regular polystyrene is inexpensive and can easily withstand physical pressure. On the downside, it may contain Carbon Fiber Composites and other ingredients detrimental to human health.
As the insulation of the future, aerogels are made of super-porous silicone foam that consists of 99% air. The insulation material is extremely strong, incredibly light, and has outstanding insulating properties. However, as far as health protection is concerned, aerogels are not particularly better than fiberglass. Just like asbestos and fiberglass particles, microscopic pieces of aerogel can chip off and stick into the skin, causing health complications.
The most popular aerogel brand is Nanogel ®, which is made of transparent silica. Due to its physical features, it is often used to create insulating windows that let the sunlight in but keep the heat off. Nanogel has the advantage over other aerogels in that it is sold as prefab panels, which makes it easy to work with and decreases the possibility of health problems.