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When the outside temperature drops and snow begins to fly, it's time to think about keeping your home warm. In addition to installing new windows and doors, adding insulation is one of the best ways to keep your house cozy when the mercury drops. The type of insulation you choose will depend on what’s underneath your current walls, ceilings and crawl spaces. How bad is the draft in your home? If you’re like most homeowners, probably pretty bad. Reducing energy costs and carbon footprint is a primary concern for many homeowners today. Installing new insulation can go a long way toward reducing energy bills year-round and keeping your home more comfortable on those chilly nights. There are a variety of different materials you can use as insulation from cellulose to straw bales that should meet your needs no matter what kind of space you have inside your house.
What is Cellulose Insulation?
Cellulose insulation is made from recycled newspaper that has been treated with fire retardants and mixed with a binding agent. It is often called “treated recycled cellulose” or “crushed newspaper”. It is effective as an insulation material because the paper has a very high cellulose content, and it can be treated with fire-retardant chemicals to improve its effectiveness. Cellulose insulation is installed in walls and attics in a variety of ways, but it is most often blown in. The installer will cut a small hole in the wall and blow the insulation into the wall cavity with a blower. This method is particularly effective for attics and large areas, especially if there is a large amount of framing that needs to be cleared out to make room for the insulation. There are other ways to install cellulose insulation, like using a staple gun, or an “injector” machine that pushes the insulation into the wall cavity from the outside using a plunger-like mechanism.
How is Cellulose Insulation Installed?
The first step is to identify where you need to add insulation. If your home was built before 1990, then you need to inspect your home’s insulation levels. Usually, wall cavities are great places to add insulation. Be sure to wear a respirator, goggles and gloves while doing this work to avoid inhaling the dust that is produced when the insulation is disturbed. Loose insulation can be treated with a spray-on insecticide to prevent pests from taking up residence in your walls. For attics, the best thing to do is hire a professional insulation installer. An attic is a difficult place to work, and a lot of homeowners get frustrated and quit before they’re finished. An insulation installer will come in, complete the job in one or two days, and leave you with a clean, finished product. For roofs, it may be possible to add insulation by installing an insulation board on the roof, then covering it with a layer of roofing felt and asphalt shingles. This type of installation is risky, though, and is best left to professionals.
Pros of Cellulose Insulation
There are many advantages to using cellulose insulation, including: - It is inexpensive. You can buy recycled cellulose insulation for about $1.50 per square foot. - It is easy to install. Many types of cellulose insulation can be blown into wall cavities, making it very easy to install. Other types can be stapled into place. - It is effective. The U.S. Department of Energy’s Saving Energy website says that cellulose insulation is an “excellent energy saver,” and that it can reduce your energy bills by 30%. - It is environmentally friendly. Cellulose insulation is made from recycled newspaper, which makes it a sustainable product. It is safe for use in homes with children and pets, and it is non-toxic.
Cons of Cellulose Insulation
While cellulose insulation has many advantages, there are also a few drawbacks to be aware of. Some of them are: - It does not provide much fire protection. Most types of cellulose insulation do not meet the fire resistance standards set by the International Code Council. If you live in a high-fire risk area, you may want to choose a different type of insulation. - It has high installation costs. While the cost of a bag of cellulose insulation is low, the cost of hiring an insulation installer to install it can be quite high. - It takes up a lot of space. If you have limited attic space, cellulose insulation may not be the best choice for you.
Is Cellulose Insulation Right for You?
If you have limited attic space, high fire risk or a limited budget, cellulose insulation may not be the best choice for you. However, if you’re looking for a sustainable, environmentally friendly product that costs very little and is easy to install, cellulose may be the right choice for you. Keep in mind that cellulose insulation does not provide much fire protection, so if you live in an area with a high fire risk, you may want to choose a different type of insulation. If you can’t afford new insulation, you can also add R-value to your home by lining walls and attics with plastic sheeting. The plastic will help to stop drafts and will reflect heat back into the house. Be sure to use 11-19 mil thick plastic sheeting and leave a few inches of space around pipes, wires and joints in the walls to avoid trapping moisture inside the walls. Finally, be sure to keep your insulation clean and dry. The best way to do this is to use a plastic cover over the insulation. This will keep it clean and dry, helping to extend its life.
Baffled by insulation terms? Here’s what you need to know.
- R-Value: R-value measures thermal resistance, or how well the insulation resists heat flow. The higher the R-value of your insulation, the better it will be at keeping your house warm in the winter and cool in the summer. - Blown-in insulation: This is one of the most common methods for adding insulation to an attic. An installer will blow the insulation into an attic through a large nozzle. - Open-cell vs. Closed-cell insulation: There are two main types of insulation used in houses today: open-cell and closed-cell. Closed-cell insulation is made with a type of petroleum that is not safe for human contact, while open-cell insulation is made with a cellulose material that is safe for people and pets. - Vapor retardant: This is a chemical treatment used on some insulation materials to prevent moisture from getting into the insulation from the inside of your house. - Thermal bridging: This is when heat travels through the support beams in your home, which reduces the effectiveness of your insulation.
As you can see, cellulose insulation is a great choice for homeowners who are looking to save money on their energy bills and protect the environment at the same time. This type of insulation is inexpensive, easy to install and highly effective at keeping your home warm when it’s cold outside. If you’re ready to insulate your home, choose cellulose insulation and start enjoying the benefits right away!