Tips to Warm Your Winter
from Union of Concerned Scientists
Insulation prevents heat from leaking out of your home in winter and into your home in summer, making it more comfortable year-round and reducing your energy consumption, global warming pollution, and heating and air conditioning costs.
The many options on the market today include fiberglass rolls, spray foam, rigid foam, and loose-fill cellulose made from old newspapers. To determine the best fit for your needs, consider these factors:
R-value. This number represents an insulation’s ability to resist heat; the higher the R-value, the more effective the insulation. The U.S. Department of Energy recommends specific R-values for different areas of your home, based on where you live and what heating fuel you use (see the related links). If space is limited, choose the option with the highest R-value for the given thickness you need.
Target spaces. Attics and cathedral ceilings are great places to
start to get the most bang for your insulation bucks. Next in line
should be walls, floors, crawl spaces, and basements.
Raw materials. Insulation made from non-petroleum resources, with a
high recycled content, requires less energy to process, reduces waste,
and uses fewer natural resources. Bear in mind, however, that the
environmental impact of insulation manufacturing pales in comparison
with the long-term reductions in pollution and energy use you can
achieve by choosing any type of insulation that has a higher R-value.
Installation. Foam insulation has traditionally been sprayed onto walls
using chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) or hydrochlorofluorocarbons
(HCFCs)—chlorine-based chemicals that deplete the ozone layer. But it
is now possible to apply foam insulation using chlorine-free agents
such as hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), carbon dioxide (CO2), and even
water. If airborne dust or fibers from insulating materials are a
concern during insulation, choose products covered in a protective wrap.
Disposal. In addition to choosing insulation with a high recycled
content, consider whether it can be recycled at the end of its useful
life. For example, some types of insulation can be chopped into smaller
pieces and used as loose-fill insulation. If you are hiring a
contractor to install new insulation, have the old material recycled if
The most important factor in your purchasing decision should be the
insulation’s R-value; use the other criteria to narrow your options.
Choosing the most effective insulator that fits within your budget is
the best way to minimize your contribution to global warming while
keeping you warm and cozy.
<http://ucsaction.org/ct/o7AXQf61cS1l/>BuildingGreen.com—Summary of Environmental and Health Impacts
<http://ucsaction.org/ct/odAXQf61cS1o/>BuildingGreen.com—Insulation materials: Environmental Comparisons
<http://ucsaction.org/ct/ldAXQf61cS1P/>U.S. Department of Energy—Insulation