Eco-Friendly Home Insulation Alternatives

June 28, 2011 Six comments View all articles in Home

A well-insulated home has the power to keep energy from escaping through its walls and roof, which not only reduces energy waste, but saves you money as well. It should be installed as if it were a blanket that encloses all the living spaces, ceilings, walls, and floors. Incomplete insulation jobs, on the other hand, can result in disastrous heat loss, which amounts to greater heating and cooling bills and wasteful carbon emissions. While it's more difficult to add insulation to finished walls of existing homes, new home builders have the opportunity to stuff as much insulation into their walls as will fit. But if you're going to be stuffing your living space with anything, shouldn't it be good for your family's health as well as the health of the environment?

Many different types of insulation are available, but most products are made with environmentally questionable fiberglass and use formaldehyde as a binding agent. These oh-so-common pink batts of fluff are full of tiny glass fibers that disperse in the air and into the lungs of installers. Others are made from polyurethane, which is petroleum-based, or polystyrene foam, which contains hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD). HBCD is a brominated flame retardant that is on the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) List of Chemicals of Concern, and is building up in wildlife and waterways the world over.

A number of organic materials are entering the insulation market, however. You can explore some of the eco-friendly insulation alternatives below.

CELLULOSE INSULATION

  • Blown-in or loose-fill cellulose, if installed correctly, can keep cold air at bay better than fiberglass. Applegate Cellulose Insulation
  • It's made with at least 80 percent post-consumer paper contents, usually newsprint (though denim cotton and hemp fiber may also be used), that's shredded and treated with natural chemicals to make it fire resistant.
  • It also takes as little as a quarter of the energy of fiberglass to manufacture.
  • Cellulose insulation products are available from Applegate, Fiberlite, and Tascon.

AIRKRETE CEMENT FOAM

  • This thermally efficient, environmentally responsible, non-toxic, inflammable insulation is free of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and formaldehyde, and is easily foamed (or blown) into open or closed cavities in walls, roofs, and ceilings.
  • Its basic components are air, water, magnesium oxide (extracted from seawater), and ceramic talc (mined in New York State), which combine to create a cost-effective, high-performance product.
  • Learn more about AirKrete and locate an installer at AirKrete.com.

ULTRATOUCH DENIM INSULATION

  • Made of recycled denim, Bonded Logic's nontoxic panels are fire-treated with benign borax, is very easy to handle, can easily be cut with a sharp utility knife, and doesn't itch.
  • According to BondedLogic.com, “UltraTouch is a Class-A Building Product that meets the highest testing standards for fire and smoke ratings, as well as fungi resistance and corrosiveness.”
  • Because it contains 90 percent post-consumer recycled natural fibers, UltraTouch Denim Insulation is the perfect choice for those looking for a high-quality, sustainable building material (and who isn't?).

HEATLOK SOY INSULATION

  • Heatlok Soy is an excellent closed-cell spray foam insulation/air-barrier made of recycled plastic materials, renewable soy oils, and an environmentally-friendly blowing agent known as Enovate 3000.
  • Though it is technically classed as a Spray Polyurethane Foam Insulation, it is uniquely ecologically beneficial, as it helps to more efficiently utilize the world's non-renewable resources.
  • Heatlok Soy can also reduce excess waste and energy consumption in buildings by up to 50 percent.
  • It is approved by the Air Barrier Association of America, and is certified by GREENGUARD and GREENGUARD for Children and Schools.

(UltraTouch Denim image courtesy of BondedLogic)
(Wallspray image courtesy of Applegate Insulation)

Comments:

jim on Jan. 16, 2012 at 3:26 p.m.

cool

Richard Phelps on Jan. 26, 2013 at 7:49 p.m.

You describe Airkrete as "inflammable"! I hope not--they claim it has a 2-hour firewall test!

ken on Feb. 27, 2013 at 9:57 a.m.

Awesome information...thanks.

Christoph on July 14, 2014 at 2:34 p.m.

Richard, inflammable means NOT flammable.

Tanvi on Nov. 18, 2014 at 6:24 a.m.

Pretty good . Learned some new ways to insulate my house.😊

Pearl Hurst on July 2, 2016 at 3:03 p.m.

Good resource. I always tell my customers that they should ask for greenguard products whenever possible and not allow themselves to be bullied by a contractor that says it isn't a big deal. I had a project that I used Heatlok Soy in with great results.

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