Environmentally friendly home insulation

Insulating your home to bring it up to today's standards is the single most effective thing you can to do create a warmer, drier and more energy-efficient home. A warmer and drier home is a healthier home.

Man installing environmentally friendly home insulation
COLUMN Rob Croot

Insulating your home to bring it up to today’s standards is the single most effective thing you can do to create a warmer, drier and more energy-efficient home. A warmer and drier home is a healthier home.

As the most heat in a home is lost through its roof, the first place you need to insulate is your ceiling. Once you’ve insulated up top, and if your home has access under the floor, installing under floor insulation will give you the next best bang for your buck. Walls are difficult and expensive to insulate so I’d recommend you insulate your walls only if you’re renovating and removing the linings of exterior walls.
There are some good safe options for installing DIY insulation in your home. When choosing the type of insulation that you are going to use, remember to consider  ‘friendly-fibre’ options such as polyester. These products offer the same performance characteristics as traditional fibreglass products but without the nasty itching and scratching when installing. Polyester insulation (such as GreenStuf®) is heat-bonded to form the structure of the insulation, whereas common fibreglass materials use chemical binders containing formaldehyde.
Also, when considering environmental impacts of products, look at the recycled content as well as recyclability and producer take-back programmes, and consider life cycle durability and product warranties. 
The performance of insulation materials is described as R-Value. The higher the R-Value, the better the product will insulate your home from cold during winter and heat during summer. A well insulated home will provide year round comfort. The pictured table provides a useful guide for selecting the correct R-Values to retrofit insulation into existing homes.
Blanket insulation products have less joins when installed so they generally have a higher installed performance than segment insulation. If you choose segments, then you should increase the product R-Value to account for this.
Most insulation products will have information on how to install them correctly. Getting it right is really important. Remember that even small gaps and folds can affect the performance of your insulation, so follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully and take the time to do the job right. Roof spaces can become very hot, even on cooler days, so it’s best to work in the early morning, and address the area under your floor later, as the day heats up.
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This article featured in issue 002 of Renovate Magazine. Renovate Magazine is an easy to use resource providing fresh inspiration and motivation at every turn of the page.

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