The home improvement industry is improving every day. Technology has revolutionized insulation. Judging by where we are currently, it’s safe to say we are already in the future of insulation!
Homeowners are lucky that amazing views of snow falling outside your window don’t immediately need to translate to larger heating bills these days. And though summer days may be warmer than ever, with a well-insulated home, you can stay cool. Besides, depending on the type of high-tech insulation you choose, you can be sure to enjoy the benefits for up to 50 years. That’s like a ticket into the future, as well!
Every type of insulation has its R-value, representing the maximum thermal performance. As a homeowner, you should consider the R-value and hire a professional to install your insulation. Although you can DIY, it’s highly advisable to seek the services of a professional contractor because they are highly trained to handle the materials and do the necessary work.
A professional will follow the manufacturer’s instructions and all safety precautions. Don’t forget; there are also fire codes to follow! When you hire a professional like Ideal Insulation, we will take ownership if anything goes wrong, and our team is aware of all potential risks. They put their best expertise into each job to ensure our clients’ satisfaction.
Types of Low and High-Tech Insulation
Technology has not just given us advanced insulation but also a variety of insulation types to choose from. There’s always a type that works best for you and within your budget. You’ll be saving money on energy down the road and realize how beneficial insulation can be to your home. Without further ado, let’s dive into the various insulation types.
Batt insulation is the most common insulation on the market. The rolls are easy to carry and are suitable for DIY projects – so long as you take time to cut and fit them around wires, electrical outlets, and pipes. If stuffed incorrectly, the rolls can lose effectiveness. There are various types of batt insulation.
With an R-4 to R-5 R-value, Rockwool is less stressful to install as it springs back to shape. It’s also fire-resistant, which is important to many homeowners. The main downside is that it retains moisture which could lead to mold growth.
This material has a high percentage of recycled content and also contains a small amount of crystalline silica. Contrary to some common misconceptions, Rockwool does not affect your respiratory system. It is safe and is best for floors, walls, and ceilings.
Fiberglass offers an R-3 to R-4 R-value, slightly lower than Rockwool’s. It’s easier to install the paper and foil versions through stapling. Rolls must be cut to fit between studs and joists. The only disadvantage of Fiberglass is the easy compression that tends to degrade the material’s insulation properties.
Fiberglass is suitable for floors, walls, and ceilings. The recycled content is usually about 60%, making it relatively eco-friendly. Previous claims that inhaled fibers pose a cancer risk have been scientifically ruled out, and regulators have concluded that Fiberglass is safe to use.
Cotton batts have an R-value of R3.5-4, and the rolls are simple to cut and resize to fit around pipes and electrical outlets. They are not widely available and are the most uncommon batt type.
The downside of cotton bats is that they use lots of energy to make them, and they are really only applicable on walls. However, they do contain over 85% recycled fiber. Additionally, another bonus is that they deter some insects.
Spray Foam Insulation
Spray foam insulation is more expensive, but also more effective, than Batt insulation. It usually contains liquid latex and polyurethane foam which mix to form a layer that seals leaks and gaps on walls and ceiling spaces. Once the liquid is sprayed on the wall, it expands and hardens to become a solid foam taking the shape of the wall.
Spray Foam features a higher R-value and is ideal for oddly-shaped areas and hard-to-reach spaces on your walls due to its flexibility. It squeezes into the small cracks and gaps. Once it dries, the excess is cut away to leave a flat and even surface. There are two Spray Foam insulation methods, namely:
- Open Cell
- Closed Cell
Open Cell Spray Foam’s R-value is R-3.6, and it’s not as expensive as the Closed Cell option. Open Cell foam stops the movement of air but not water vapor. You will need to install a moisture barrier song with the Open Cell Foam to meet your moisture-repelling needs.
Open Cell has some negative environmental impacts. The material contains chemicals that can cause asthma or other serious health effects if inhaled. Thus, professional installation is safest, and you may need to remain out of your home for a couple of days while any lingering chemicals clear. Open Cell foam can be applied on walls, floors, and ceilings. Because of the health risks involved, it’s best to hire a professional to do the job.
Closed Cell Spray Foam boasts a high R-value of R-6 to R-6.5. Unlike Open Cell, Closed Cell blocks the movement of both moisture and air. However, it doesn’t come cheap, and it should strictly be installed by a professional.
Closed Cell foam uses more materials than Open Cell, yet they have the same levels of risk. Inhaling the chemicals could cause severe respiratory issues. It may best to leave your home for a few days. While the agents and chemicals used are not environmental-friendly, the benefits are, since your home will be much more energy-efficient. Closed Cell is best for floors, walls, and ceilings.
Blown Insulation, also known as Loose-fill Insulation, involves a machine blowing paper-like material into the walls, floors, and ceiling to be insulated. The material can be reclaimed Cellulose, such as cardboard or recycled newspapers, Fiberglass, or Rockwool. The blown insulation penetrates in all locations, including corners and crevices.
Loose-Fill Fiberglass has an R-value of up to R-2.7. Though lightweight, the product is fluffy and weak and might lose half of its effectiveness unless topped with Cellulose which we’ll discuss next.
The Fiberglass is 60% recycled content and is best suited for ceilings. You can DIY with Loose-Fill Fiberglass, but a professional would likely do a better job and reduce waste or damage.
Loose-Fill Cellulose has a better R-value than Fiberglass, boasting up to R-3.8. It’s suitable for all climates and keeps your home warmer when the air gets colder. The material is heavier but settles almost 20% and eventually reduces in its effectiveness.
Loose-Fill Cellulose application should be installed by a professional for better results. It might require extra layers to increase its effectiveness. It comprises 85% recycled paper and 15% fire retardant, which also keeps pests away. It’s best for ceilings and attic floors.
Vapor Barrier Insulation
We talked about Open Cell Spray Foam and its weakness in blocking moisture. That’s where Vapor Barrier insulation comes in. Vapor barriers prevent water vapor from going through your ceiling or walls. Even with an insulation system in place, moisture can build up over the walls and lower the R-value.
Vapor insulators or retarders also help prevent mold and mildew from growing on your walls or ceiling. The barriers come in plastic sheers or can be coatings or membranes of metal or rubber. Vapor barriers don’t have an R-value, but if these sheets are used for flooring underlayment, they can provide some degree of insulation.
Understanding the R-Value
You must have heard the word “R-Value” thrown around and read it here! The R-Value measures the resistance the insulation has against heat flow. The higher the R-Value, the more effective the material resists heat flow. Materials with a higher R-value are costly compared to the ones with lower R-values.
The R-value is measured against an inch of depth. That means that an inch of a specific material would provide the same level of insulation as another with two inches. It also means that the R-value will increase if more material is used.
Smart Homes and High-Tech Insulation
People talk about smart homes and buildings as a thing of the future. However, many homes have already been turned into smart homes. If you have Siri or Alexa in your home, you are already on the journey to transforming your home into a smart one. These homes can also work better by improving insulation. Can you really consider yours a smart home if it’s not energy efficient? It’s not just about appliances that heat and cool your home. It’s also about them consuming less energy with the help of insulation.
Architects and home builders need to consider the environmental challenges the world is facing today and what a smart home should be about. A programmable thermostat may require a lot of energy to maintain different temperatures. To save on costs, smart homes should be well-insulated. Heat retention and recovery are vital in turning our homes green.
Technology in the Insulation Industry
Technology has been an evolving factor in nearly every sector, including the insulation industry. There are different avenues where insulation meets technology, from 3D modeling to thermal detectors and even virtual reality. Computer animation has been used to build models before building homes and determining the best locations for insulation installation.
And, of course, technologies have changed and evolved in recent years. New high-tech insulation like glass wool and spray foam insulation has revolutionized the insulation world. These technologies have shown significant potential in addressing moisture sensitivity, thermal conductivity, and compressive strength.
Additionally, stringent regulations have inspired these technologies to reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions during production while aiming to create products specifically geared toward use in green buildings. Glass wool and stone wool have been popular for such use on flat and pitched roofs, external and internal walls, and floor applications. Spray foam has been used effectively on walls, floors, and ceilings.
The Future of Insulation
Though insulation may seem old-fashioned, it draws on mathematical and scientific principles that are dynamic and adaptable. The insulation industry keeps growing and looking into the future; new products and inventions will surely continue to hit the market. Plus, the innovations in the industry have the potential to meet your needs for years to come, even when you install these products today.
We are increasingly seeing how people are paying the ultimate cost of a changing environment. Governments around the world, the U.S. included, are seeking solutions that can address the environmental challenges and strengthen the economic productivity of our building industries. Implementing the current best practices for energy and greenhouse emissions will reduce energy use. Billions of dollars saved by consumers in energy reduction can go into boosting the U.S. economy and preventing natural disasters. All that from some insulation? Yes!
What You Get from Insulating Your Home
Lower Energy Costs
If your home is not properly insulated, you could spend almost 30% more on heating and cooling. Air leaks in your walls and roof mean that your HVAC system will work harder to cool or warm your home. Proper home insulation will keep your energy bills more consistent and reasonable.
Makes Your Home More Comfortable
An insulated home stays warm in winter and cool in summer. You won’t have to rely on extra blankets or light fires (also bad for the environment) in winter, or crank up your AC unit or run fans in the summer. Insulation gives you easy, enjoyable, and efficient comfort in all seasons.
Do you have a house full of rowdy children? Do you have a snorer in the house? Maybe you live on a busy street. Insulation might not absorb everything, but it can help! Good insulation can help soften both the sounds generated inside and outside your home. Home insulation absorbs the sound bouncing off your walls, making your home quieter!
Reduce Your Carbon Footprint
Going green is the best way to give back to your community, environment, and future generations. Insulating your home improves your home’s energy performance by reducing emissions and reducing your carbon footprint. Certain insulation types are even made of recycled products.
Increases the Resale Value of Your Home
If you intend to sell your home or are a real estate investor, showing prospective buyers that the home is already well-insulated can be a real selling point. Insulation can be the difference between a quick and a slow sale. The home will also fetch a higher price than one without insulation – and these are things that can come up during a home inspection. A potential buyer who knows the benefits of an insulated home, especially regarding energy and operating costs, will not want to miss out on such a deal!
The Insulation industry has come a long way since the mid-90s. Thanks to high-tech insulation inventions, we are already in the future of insulation. Even as more engineers find ways to cut energy costs and save the environment, insulation has stood out as one of the available solutions to these problems. Insulating your home will be the best decision you’ll make this year. If you’re in Atlanta, call Ideal Insulation to help with your insulation needs. We look forward to hearing from you!