Cellulose insulation is the type of home insulation ecology lovers adore. At 75 – 85% recycled fiber from paper, which often comes from old newsprint, cellulose insulation has the highest percentage of recycled content compared to all other forms of insulation. After the recycled contents, the rest of it consists of a fire retardant to maintain the safety of your home — this generally takes the form of boric acid or ammonium sulfate. The only other insulation that comes close is fiberglass, which is made up of 50% recycled content.
Why choose cellulose insulation?
Besides the recycled composition of cellulose insulation, it offers a number of direct benefits to you and your home. These benefits make it the best choice for someone who is looking to improve or install insulation in their home. While the vast majority of American houses have fiberglass insulation installed, sometimes it’s better not to follow the crowd.
Cellulose insulation has roughly the same R-value as other forms of insulation — around R-3.5 per each inch thick. Any loss of heat (or cool air in the summer) comes mainly due to air leakage due to cracks, which is why cellulose insulation, an expert air-blocker, comes in handy. If packed tightly, cellulose is both cost effective and highly efficient.
For many, the greener aspects of cellulose insulation are what make it so appealing. According to some calculations, one 1500 square foot house will use enough cellulose insulation to take out 40 years’ worth of a person’s newspaper consumption. This keeps a significant amount of this material from being wasted. If all houses currently being built used cellulose installation, more than 3 million tons of this waste would be removed. Unfortunately, only a small percentage of new or old houses are installing cellulose insulation, meaning there is still a long way to go.
Cellulose insulation also has less of an environmental impact during the production phase. Compared to fiberglass, cellulose uses 200 times less energy to manufacture. When looking at it as cost of energy compared to unit of R-value, it’s actually just 8 times more efficient than fiberglass insulation — still making it significantly “greener” during the manufacturing phase.
It is also efficient in terms of performance within the home. Because of its particular resistance to air leakages, homeowners will often choose cellulose insulation to lower their energy costs and make their carbon footprint a little bit smaller than if they went with the conventional fiberglass option.
Cellulose insulation is equally safe when compared to fiberglass insulation, despite some past questioning of whether its paper-based materials would burn easily. The answer is no — it has been treated with chemicals that will ensure that it is just as fire retardant as fiberglass.
Some studies even indicate it might be safer than fiberglass, making it a win-win for homeowners. This is because the fibers in cellulose insulation are more densely packed than in fiberglass insulation, therefore allowing less oxygen to permeate the insulation. Fire needs oxygen to continue burning, making cellulose insulation is in a way safer than fiberglass.