Checking your home's insulation is one of the fastest and most cost-effective ways to use a whole-house approach to reduce energy waste and make the most of your energy dollars. A good insulating system includes a combination of products and construction techniques that protect a home from outside hot or cold temperatures, protect it against air leaks, and control moisture. You can increase the comfort of your home while reducing your heating and cooling needs by investing in proper insulation and sealing air leaks.
- You have an older home and haven't added insulation. Only 20% of homes built before 1980 are well insulated.
- You are uncomfortably cold in the winter or hot in the summer—adding insulation creates a more uniform temperature and increases comfort.
- You build a new home, addition, or install new siding or roofing.
- You pay high energy bills.
- You are bothered by noise from outside—insulation muffles sound.
So how do you remedy the problem? There are really two ways. First, you could use air conditioning. Second, you could insulate the roofline with foam and add insulation to your attic. Air conditioning is great. I have it and I’m glad. The problem is that if your insulation is bad the A/C will run all summer long and your electric bill will be insanely high. By insulating you’ll reduce radiant heat from the sun down to a trickle, which will make your A/C run less and keep your electric bill low. We often measure the air infiltration of the homes we insulate with a blower door kit. On average we cut air infiltration in half just by insulating the attic!
Selecting an Insulation System: In recent years there has been growing interest in the use of various premium systems to insulate sidewalls in new construction. Although the use of standard fiber glass batts still predominates, the advantage of upgraded insulation systems are motivating builders, architects, and homeowners to demand these systems in spite of their higher initial cost. People believe theses systems provide better thermal, acoustic, and air infiltration protection. Is this true? This brochure examines each type of upgraded system and offers information to help you properly compare them.
Improved Performance: In a perfect world or a controlled laboratory, a properly installed insulation system will perform as it was designed to. But houses aren't build or insulated in a perfect world. Industry studies show that many of the stud cavities in a new home are irregular in size or contrain obstructions such as pipes, wires, and electrical boxes.
When a perfectly-sized batt is mated with an imperfectly sized cavity, air voids and /or compression often results, reducing the effectiveness of the insulation batt. In addition, many installers are paid for speed, not accuracy. Since turnover is high, experience is low. The opposite is true with premium, or upgraded insulation systesm. Crews are better trained and more professional. They take pride in their work and are paid to preform better.
The systesm themselves offer many advantages including complete coverage. They virtually eliminate voids and gaps. The bottom line is the biolder gets the job done right, and the homeowner enjoys a more energy efficient, comfortable, and quiet home.
Choosing a system: Once the decision has been made to go with an upgraded insulation system, it's time to decide which one is best. There are several systems commonly used today. The most widely are the Blow-In- Blanket systam, wet spray cellulose, and spray foam.
A recent component is upgraded insulation systems is an air sealant/insulation system. When used in conjunction with fiberglass batts or BIBS insulation the system provides the desired air infiltration protection for a more energy efficient solution. Since there are considerable differences among them, let's examine each individually.
Click here for the complete brochure.
Fiber glass, rock wool and products contain upwards of
slag wool insulation
products qualify for use in the Weatherization Assistance Program. While there are several types of insulations typically used for the weatherization market none has the many advantages of loose-fill fiber glass or rock wool and slag wool insulation. Fiber glass, rock wool and slag wool loose-fill insulation have proven to be a smart choice for the home owner and insulation contractor.
Fiber glass, rock wool and slag wool insulation can meet the federal government’s recycled content requirements.1 Today’s fiber glass insulation
40% recycled glass and are made from sand, a highly renewable resource. Slag wool insulation contains approximately 70-75% recycled blast furnace slag. Manufacturers of cellulose, a common insulating material, may claim their product is 100% recycled, but at least 20% (by weight) of the final product is fire-retardant chemicals.
Blown-in fiber glass, rock wool and slag wool insulation products can achieve up to an R-15 in a 2x4 cavity and an R-23 in a 2x6 cavity – more than any other traditional loose-fill insulation on the market today.
Loose-fill fiber glass, rock wool and slag wool insulation can be blown with most types of pneumatic machines and provide the R-value needed to meet the building codes. Once installed they work for the life of the building with negligible settling and no maintenance.
Loose-fill fiber glass, rock wool and slag wool insulation products can be blown with most types of pneumatic machines and provide the equivalent R-value with less material than cellulose.
Research has shown that air infiltration is dependent on the overall sealing package, and not the insulation type installed in the wall cavity.2,3,4 Recent testing indicates that loose fill fiber glass insulation performs as well, if not better, than other loose fill insulations under identical conditions.5
Some loose fill insulations are heavier than others and their installed weight may not be safe for the application. Loose- fill fiber glass can be installed to an R-70 over 1⁄2 inch ceiling drywall with 24 inch on-center framing.6 Based on U.S. Gypsum weight limit recommendations for back loaded standard drywall and the installed density of shredded newspaper insulations, cellulose insulation may cause ceiling drywall to sag at high R-values when installed over 1⁄2 inch ceiling drywall with framing spaced 24 inches on centers.7
Fiber glass, rock wool and slag wool insulation products exhibit virtually no signs of settling or R-value loss over time.8 On the other hand, another traditionally used loose-fill insulation, cellulose, settles up to 20%9 and requires
compensation for settling during installation.10
Fiber glass, rock wool and slag wool insulation reduce sound transmission in wall, ceiling, and floor assemblies by approximately 4 to 6 STC points.11 Insulation thickness has a more significant effect on STC ratings than does density. According to the Institute for Research on Construction, wall systems containing sprayed-on and blown-in cellulose fiber demonstrated greater variation in performance than those with other types of insulation. These variations were attributed to differences in installation (which is difficult to control) rather than to differences in the acoustical properties of the materials.12
Under normal conditions, all insulation is exposed to humidity in the air. Fiber glass, rock wool and slag wool insulation products will not wick up and hold water, thus they resist permanent loss of R-value. This also lessens the chances of mold growth, mildew or rotting issues.
Fiber glass, rock wool and slag wool insulation products contain no chemicals that can corrode pipes and wires and structural metal components.13 When chemical fire retardants are used, such as those found in cellulose insulation, corrosion can occur. 14
Fiber glass, rock wool and slag wool insulation products are naturally noncombustible since they are made primarily from sand, recycled glass, rock wool and blast furnace slag.15 Cellulose insulation is made of pulverized newspaper that is highly combustible.
Cellulose insulation is regulated as a fire hazard by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).16
Product Testing for Health Safety Fiber glass, rock wool and slag wool insulation products are the most thoroughly tested building materials in use today. The great amount of medical scientific evidence compiled over more than 70 years by industry, government, and independent research organizations supports the conclusion that these insulation products are safe to use when manufacturers’ recommended work practices are followed.
Other loose-fill insulations typically used for weatherization programs have limited health and safety testing.
Fiber glass, rock wool and slag wool insulation can be recycled and reused.
For information on additional fiber glass, rock wool and slag wool insulation products for residential & commercial building contact:
Aislantes Minerales, S.A. de C.V.
Descartes #104 Neuva Anzures 11590 D.F., México 52-55-1036-0640 www.rolan.com
Amerrock Products LP
440 Jackrabbit Road P.O. Box C Nolanville, TX 76559 800-762-9665 www.amerrock.com
P.O. Box 860 Valley Forge, PA 19482 800-233-8990 www.certainteed.com
FiberTEK Insulations, LLC
925 South 4400 West Salt Lake City, UT 84104 801-973-9423 www.fibertekinsulation.com
Fibrex Insulations Inc.
561 Scott Road Sarnia, Ontario Canada N7T 7L4 800-265-7514 www.fibrexinsulations.com
Industrial Insulation Group, LLC
2100 Line Street Brunswick, GA 31520 912-264-6372 www.iig-llc.com
41 Furnace Street Stanhope, NJ 07874 973-347-1200 www.isolatek.com
P.O. Box 5108 Denver, CO 80217 00-654-3103 www.jm.com
One Knauf Drive Shelbyville, IN 46176 800-825-4434 www.knaufinsulation.us
One Owens Corning Parkway Toledo, OH 43659 800-GET-PINK www.owenscorning.com
Rock Wool Manufacturing Co.
203 7th Street, N.E. Leeds, AL 35094 205-699-6121 www.deltainsulation.com
551 Harrop Drive Milton, Ontario Canada L9T 3H3 800-265-6878 www.roxul.com
3711 Mill Street Wabash, IN 46992 888-834-2371 www.thermafiber.com
USG Interiors, Inc.
550 West Adams Street Chicago, IL 60661 312-436-4000 www.usg.com
Fiber glass, rock wool and slag wool are made from a combination of natural and recycled ingredients such as basaltic rock, blast furnace slag, recycled glass cullet and sand. The natural ingredients, sand and rock, are readily available. The use of blast furnace slag and glass cullet are recycled materials that are transformed into a product that saves energy and reduces pollution.
1 5.3 PROCUREMENT OF BUILDING INSULATION PRODUCTS AND MATERIALS CONTAINING RECOVERED MATERIALS: Section 6002 of the Solid Waste Disposal Act, as amended by the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act of 1976 (RCRA), states that if a procuring agency using Federal funds purchases certain designated items, such items must be composed of the highest percentage of recovered materials practical. On February 17, 1989, the EPA promulgated the Final Rule containing the guidelines for the procurement of building insulation products. Policy guidance was issued by the DOE on February 16, 1990, providing further clarification on this issue.
2 Field Demonstration of Alternative Wall Insulation Products, prepared for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency by NAHB Research Center, Inc., November 1997.
3 G.K. Yuill, Ph.D, A Field Study of the Effect of Insulation Types on the Air Tightness of Houses, Pennsylvania State University Department of Architectural Engineering, 1996.
4 William Conroy, Division Marketing Supervisor, Research and Development Project, “Maple Acres,” Union Electric, St. Louis, MO, 1995.
5 NAHB Research Center, Inc, NAIMA, Air Infiltration of Wood Frame Walls, May 2009.
6 NAIMA, Comparing Fiber Glass and Cellulose Insulation, Pub. No. BI475, August 2009.
7 USG, Gypsum Construction Handbook, 2000 Centennial Edition, pp. 75, 353, 381; USG, Gypsum Construction Handbook, 1992 Edition, pp. 28, 102.
8 NAHB Research Center, Inc.,
NAIMA Loose-Fill Settling Study, Study of the Thickness Settling of Dry-Applied Attic Open Blow Mineral Fiber Loose-Fill Insulations in Site-Built Test Home Attics, Fourth Year Report, August 2008.
9 Bengt Svennerstedt, “Field Data on Settling in Loose-Fill Thermal Insulation,” Insulation Materials, Testing and Application (ASTM: Philadelphia, PA, 1990), pp. 231, 236.
10 16 C.F.R. 460.12(b)(2).
12 A.C.C. Warnock and J.D. Girt,
Control of Sound Transmission through Gypsum Board Walls, Institute for Research in Construction/National Research Council of Canada, January 1997.
13 K. Sheppard, R. Weil, and A. Desjarlais, “Corrosiveness of Residential Thermal Insulation Materials Under Simulated Service Conditions,” Insulation Materials, Testing and Applications, D.L. McElroy and J.F. Kimpflen, eds. (Philadelphia, PA: ASTM, 1990), pp. 634-654.
14 Sarfraz A. Siddiaqui, A Handbook on Cellulose Insulation (Malabar, Florida: Robert E. Krieger, 1989), p. 76: K. Sheppard, R. Weil, and A. Desjarlais, “Corrosiveness of Residential Thermal Insulation Materials Under Simulated Service Conditions,” Insulation Materials, Testing and Applications, D.L. McElroy and J.F. Kimpflen, eds. (Philadelphia, PA: ASTM, 1990), pp. 634-654.
15 Richard T. Bynum, Jr., Insulation Handbook (New York: McGraw- Hill, 2001), p.131.
16 16 C.F.R. Part 1209 and Part 1404.
Printed on Recycled Paper
PUB. NO. NAIMA043 6/10
NAIMA is the association for North American manufacturers of fiber glass, rock wool and slag wool insulation products. Its role is to promote energy efficiency and environmental preservation through the use of fiber glass, rock wool and slag wool insulation, and to encourage the safe production and use of these materials.
For more information, contact:
NAIMA 44 Canal Center Plaza, Suite 310 Alexandria, VA 22314 Phone: 703-684-0084 Fax: 703-684-0427 www.naima.org www.SimplyInsulate.com
by: Erica Bosworth
Insulating your home is pure and simple the number one way to save money on energy costs. In the old days floors and walls were lined with just about anything to keep the moisture and cold air out of home. Renovations have revealed that even old newspapers were found packed into wall and floor boards.
Today insulating is a science all its own. There are R-factors assigned to different material and methods of insulating that give homes and buildings an appropriate amount of protection for their geographic region. The higher the R rating, the better insulated the home.
One of the top rated insulations is relatively new to the industry – probably no more than a couple of decades old – and that is blow in insulation.
The Benefits of Blow In Insulation
There are several benefits to blow in insulation over rolls of fibreglass insulation. The benefits include the method of installing it, its energy efficiency and where it can be used. Here are the top 5 reasons to consider using blow in insulation:
1. Blow in insulation is adjustable. Depending on how much material is used, it can create a protection with an R value of 15-38.
2. Only virgin materials are used to create most blow-in varieties of insulation. This means there a reduced chance of allergies.
3. Blowing the material into the crevices allows for a tighter fit and seal. It can be directed around corners, beams, or wiring that may already be in the walls.
4. Installing blow in insulation is fast. A barrier, referred to as a blanket is stapled to all of the 2x4s to keep the material from floating away and adhering where it isn’t wanted. Then a small slit is cut into the blanket. A hose is inserted and measured amounts of the insulation are blown into place.
5. This type of insulation is extremely energy efficient. As it is blown in it expands and adheres to the surrounding surfaces. It fills even the tiniest of cracks as it does this.
The Complete Installation Process
After attaching the blanket to the surrounding boards, the small opening cut into it allows the hose to be pointed in all directions around the wall or ceiling. After the material is in place the blanket’s slit is closed and taped. This blanket does not act as a moisture barrier, it just control the spray. The material itself resists moisture.
Drywall or other wall materials are then installed right over the insulation blanket. In a renovation project this means that an entire wall would not have to be removed in order to insulation. Take an extremely old home for example. There may be no insulation at all. Instead of removing layers of plaster wall, you could simply make a hole, position the hose and fill the walls will energy efficient insulation. Then patch the wall and the job is complete.
The blow in insulation is more expensive than traditional insulation. However, experts estimate that energy savings is so great that within 2 to 4 years those costs are recovered.
When you are contacted by a contractor or person getting a new home built, this is the question you
should be asking. Most people have never been asked this question. Then you better have a good
The good news is if you are a BIBS installer, you can provide a good, cost effective solution. In
February in Wisconsin at the B4 conference, Katrin Klingenberg of the Passive House Institute was
asked what they are using for insulation in their E-Co Lab homes. She stated that blown in fiberglass
was the most cost effective insulation on the market. YEAH!!! Depending on the climate, Passive
House insulation levels really do not cost that much. If you look at a typically built home in your area
with a heating/cooling system of whatever they are putting in plus the cost of running that system,
insulation is the best option.
Take the cost of the heating/cooling system, put it into more insulation, windows, and proper air
sealing, and then install a small mini-split air to air heat pump for heating and cooling. And don't forget
indoor air exchange. In Zones 6 and 7 you need more insulation,of course, to do this but in most of the
country the insulation needs are not that much. One tip, XPS rigid foam over the studs is good in any
climate in the country.
In the home shows, training sessions, and dealer sponsored get togethers
in the last 3 months, we always asked how much do you want to pay for
heat. (This is the main problem in my area). We also build very energy
efficient homes, and we potentially have 4 homes to build this year.
Every one is intrigued by the idea of no furnace. We are talking about R-
50+ walls and R-80 or so up top, but take out the heating system costs
and you can heat with an electric baseboard if you need heat at all. Put
the right windows in the right place with the right overhangs and there is
the major part of the heat, free. Do the home work, figure out how to do it
in your area, and sell it! Be the expert in your area! People are looking for
this, though a lot of them do not know it until someone asks,” how much
do you want to pay for heat.”
In business today, it’s not about quality. That is the price of admission, and you had better have it. It’s not about price. Someone will sell what you sell cheaper on the internet. It’s not about expertise. Customers expect you to give that to them for free. What is it all about? Value. There are, however, different levels of value. What your product does is the first level of value. The second level is the experience it creates. The third, and highest, level of value is when it causes transformation. When the phones are ringing and people are buying, we tend to focus on what they want and what they say they want is our products and services. What we lose sight of is the fact that people don’t want our products and services; they want the net effect they bring. When people aren’t buying, they stop asking for our products and services, but since that’s all we know to talk about, we keep pitching our products in hopes that they will see the light and buy. During Turbulent Times, it’s not that opportunities go away, it’s that buyers start looking for the net effect; the results your products or services produce.
Do you know the net effect you bring? Can you clearly articulate that to the buyer? Do you know the questions to ask to uncover the need for the net effect you produce?
To start understanding the value you bring, ask your customers these questions:
- What do you like about the way we do business?
- What is the one thing we should never stop doing?
- What could we improve upon?
- What would you tell your best friend about what we do?
- On a scale of one to five, five being the highest, how would you rate your experience working with our company? (scores 1-3, you’re headed for trouble)
- Have we helped transform your business, the way you do business or your job in any way?
- If they outlawed our business today, who would you contact to replace us?
- What do you think we do well?
- If you were running our business, what would you do differently?
- What would it take for us to lose your business?
- As you look over the next three months, what would have to happen in order for you to feel good about your progress?
- Lastly, who else do you know who would appreciate the way we do business?
If you get responses back based on quality or price, you are either asking the questions wrong, have the wrong customer, or are in trouble.
A home energy assessment, also known as a home energy audit, is the first step to assess how much energy your home consumes and to evaluate what measures you can take to make your home more energy efficient. An assessment will show you problems that may, when corrected, save you significant amounts of money over time. Contractors can help you understand how an assessment can help you move toward energy savings.
During the assessment, you can pinpoint where your house is losing energy. Energy assessments also determine the efficiency of your home's heating and cooling systems and insulation deficiencies. An assessment may also show you ways to conserve hot water and electricity. You can perform a simple energy assessment yourself, or have a professional energy auditor carry out a more thorough assessment. A professional auditor uses a variety of techniques and equipment to determine the energy efficiency of a structure. Thorough assessments often use equipment such as blower doors, which measure the extent of leaks in the building envelope, and infrared cameras, which reveal hard-to-detect areas of air infiltration and missing insulation.
What is the energy efficiency tax credit worth?
Home owners are eligible for a tax credit of up to $1,500 for 30% of the costs of qualified energy efficiency improvements made to their homes. Therefore, if a homeowner spends $1,000 on new qualifying insulation, they are eligible for a $300 Federal tax credit. This is a more generous credit than the previous tax credit of up to $500 for 10% of the costs.
There's more great information for homeowners on what's needed to get tax credits for insulating on the Knauf web site.
When considering cost estimates among contractors, we suggest you compare obvious contract points, as well as “additional value points.” These value points include the following:
• How long has the company been established?
• Does the firm have a credible history in the community/industry?
• Does the company have an established office and/or showroom, allowing consumers the convenience of product displays, a conference area to discuss plans, and the ability to meet the office team?
• What is the experience and tenure of the office professionals and craftsmen?
• Does the company utilize established subcontractors with proof of insurance coverage and licensing?
• Do community building inspectors have favorable recommendations for the workmanship of the firm?
• Have the firm’s principle members obtained advance certification?
• Is the firm educated and certified for laws enacted in the state?
• May the principles be reached “after hours” in the event of an emergency?
• Will the contractor supply recommendations from current and past clients?
In the case of BIBS and BIBS HP, you also want to verify that the contractor is trained and certified, preferably a member of the contractor's association as well.
When comparing construction agreements and specifications, make sure they are identical: product selection, material cost allowances, scope of procedures to be completed, issuance of permits and project square footage. Compare the payment schedule; a contractor who demands more than 20 percent upfront prior to work commencing should be questioned. Make sure the contractor will supply you with lien waivers and warranty information.
Prior to obtaining insulation bids, do research up front. Be honest with your available budget, which enables the contractor to compose a realistic bid for you. Inform the contractor of amenities you want incorporated. If the project has multiple phases, produce a priority list, in case your budget does not allow all the projects to be completed immediately.
While price is important, value, experience and the delivered result will be remembered long after the project is completed and the last payment submitted. Make sure you receive true value for your dollars!
To find a qualified insulation installer in your area, visit our map.