Keep your home warm with eco-friendly insulation
Hold on to the heat without harming the environment
Hot off the presses: Cellulose insulation
Cellulose insulation is probably the most widely available of the eco-insulations. It uses one of the world’s largest waste products: discarded newspapers and cardboard. Fibres are blended up to create a loose, fluffy material and then treated with boric acid for a fire retardant. It’s one of the most reasonably priced solutions, as well.
“Cellulose insulation is usually between 75 to 85 per cent post—consumer [material], while fibreglass has only 35 per cent post-consumer material. Cellulose is greener with less toxicity,” explains Lemoine.
The cellulose can be blown into new constructions or used over existing batting to increase the R-value, improve thermal resistance and reduce total heat. It’s also an excellent sound barrier that causes no skin irritations or health concerns. The Cellulose Insulation Manufacturers Association of Canada (CIMAC) has a list of retailers and installers on its website.
A home in sheep’s clothing: Wool insulation
For older homes, particularly heritage homes, wool insulation may be the best choice for insulation. To create the insulation, lamb and sheep’s wool is washed and then mechanically bound into layers. With no chemicals or glues needed to hold the fibres together, there is virtually no chance for off-gassing. The elastic fibres breathe making it able to absorb or release with no settling—a major problem with other insulations. A low conductivity means heat can’t easily pass through it, which means it also has a high resistance to fire. Wool insulation doesn’t burn; it melts away from the source of the fire and extinguishes itself. It easily shapes snugly to rafters, studs and joists creating a permanently tight fit that reduces noise levels. Unfortunately there is limited distribution in Canada and it remains quite expensive. The Good Shepherd Wool Insulation is one of the main suppliers.
Waiting for approval: Soy bean foam insulation
Mould- and mildew-resistant soy bean foam insulation is generating a lot of buzz in the green construction industry. It shares many of the same properties as the other three eco-insulations with an added benefit of easily forming into shapes and adhering to surfaces to produce an airtight seal. It’s currently only available in the United States, but builders and architects are anxiously awaiting its approval in Canada.