One reliable way you can save energy on your home is through proper insulation. But, how do you know what is best for your family's health? We look at the pros and cons so you can choose the best home insulation for your health.
Types of Home Insulation
When making a decision about the best home insulation, there are generally three different types to choose from: Fiberglass, Cellulose and Spray Foam. Because every home is different, we like to provide our customers with information on all of their options and let them choose for themselves. But, before you decide, you want to make sure you fully understand the pros and cons of each option. It is important to weigh your energy-saving needs with your family's health sensitivities and needs.
The Most Well-known Choice: Fiberglass Insulation
As one of the most common choices for insulation, fiberglass also has some of the biggest health concerns. The most evident problem is as a skin and eye irritant. Blown fiberglass is made up of tiny fibers of glass. When touched, it can irritate the skin and eyes, becoming very itchy and uncomfortable. If inhaled, the small fibers can become lodged in the lungs, causing serious respiratory issues. While this may be an issue mainly for the person installing or removing it, those fibers can also get pulled into your air ducts.
The potential for fiberglass fibers to enter your air ducts stresses the importance of a proper and complete install. When properly installed and sealed, fiberglass poses minimal threats to a homeowner. However, fiberglass has a lower insulating value (or R-value) compared to other types of insulation, making it a less energy-efficient option. If your goal is to save the most amount of energy, cellulose and spray foam insulation are often better options.
A Greener Choice: Cellulose Insulation
As you are choosing the best home insulation for your needs, you may want to consider the material your insulation is sourced from. What natural resources is it using? How many chemicals are involved in its manufacturing? Does your insulation produce more waste or reduce it?
Fortunately, there is an option that takes these questions under consideration: cellulose insulation. Made from recycled paper products, cellulose also has a higher R-value, helping to insulate your home better than fiberglass. Blown-in cellulose is treated with borate as a fire-retardant and to keep critters at bay, but this can be an irritant for those sensitive to that chemical. This treatment is necessary for overall safety but can leave some wondering how "green" or healthy it is despite its ability to better insulate your home and re-purpose waste materials for 85% of its composition.
A Great Energy Saver: Spray Foam
One of our best insulation options is also one that has the most questions regarding health. Spray Polyurethane Foam (SPF) is typically applied to the roof decking of a house, keeping heat or cold out directly at the site of entry. While it has the highest R-value of our three options mentioned here, it also contains chemicals known to be hazardous to our health. These chemicals cause the greatest harm to the installer or people present during the curing process. This is why we request that homeowners stay out of the home for 24 hours to allow the materials to cure and for the risk to dissipate.
The biggest risk from SPF is from isocyanates that are present during the mixing, on-site of the two materials. An experienced installer like Green ID assures that these materials are mixed properly and that all precautions are taken.
A Thorough Install=Better Health
At Green ID, it's important to us that you make the healthiest and most efficient decision for your home. Weighing the pros and cons of the material you choose to use in your home is one issue. The other is having your new insulation installed safely and correctly.
The biggest risk with fiberglass and cellulose insulation is when dust or fibers enter your air ducts. They can disperse throughout your home and increase the risk of allergies. Ask your installer to check your ducts for leaks before working on your insulation. This will help ensure your A/C and heat are working at full efficiency while also preventing airborne allergies.
If you are planning on installing SPF, be sure to leave your home during installation and preferably for 24 hours afterward. Allowing time for SPF to cure will reduce your risk of exposure to the chemicals used in this process. You can even use it as an opportunity for a short staycation! When you return home, your home will be tightly insulated and ready to save you costs on your energy bill.
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