The 5 Most Common Types of Home Insulation

Insulation is important for your house during winter as well as summer. It allows your home to retain temperature inside, regardless of how hot or cold it may be outside. Without proper insulation, your utility bills could see a significant increase because all that heat or cool air simply drifts out of your house. Quality insulation will help you heat and cool your home efficiently, especially when you add it to the attic. Insulation's ability to resist heat flow is measured as an R-value. As much as 85 percent of heat loss in winter is through the roof of your home. That is why adding insulation with a high R-value will help keep you warm at a lower cost.


Insulation comes in a variety of materials, each with its own strengths and drawbacks. The five most common are described below:

Mineral Wool

The fibers of this insulation are made of slag and volcanic rock that is heated at extreme temperatures and then spun into sheets. Its strong composition means that it does not need to be replaced, is flame retardant anddoes not absorb water, which makes it an excellent choice as permanent insulation in your home. It needs to be installed by an experienced professional,however, because incorrect handling can lead to skin and eye irritation. Though it does not need to be replaced, with an R-value of only 3, you will need 10 to 15 inches depending on where you live.

Cellulose

Made of 75 percent post-consumer, recycled newspapers, this insulation is non-toxic and offers an eco-friendly option at a reasonable cost. Its R-value can be between 3.5 and 4, depending on how densely it is packed and it provides excellent protection from wind. The downside is that you will need experienced contractors and specialized equipment to install in in your home.

Fiberglass

�This insulation is probably the best known and is made of glass fibers that have been woven into sheets secured with a binding agent,� said Barb Tresbesch, spokesperson for CorporateMechanical, an HVAC service.�Though popular, it has a lower R value (2.5 - 3.8) and needs to be installed perfectly to remain effective. Even after a perfect installation, if it gets wet, or packed too tightly or loosely, it can still lose 50% of its R value. Because of this, you need to make sure it's installed somewhere with no wind or moisture exposure can occur.�

Polyisocyanurate

This is an excellent insulation option and comes in a rigid, closed-cell foam board. It has become extremely popular with energy-conscious home builders because of its high thermal performance. It has the highest R value (between 5.8 and 7). Despite all of this, it still remains affordable and environmentally friendly.

Foil Insulation

�Foil insulation refers to an insulation option that is coated in foil on both sides. This allows it to reflect heat away in the summer and reflect heat back inside during the winter,� said Tim Ruzek, home improvement professional and spokesperson for GalaxieFloor Stores. �It can be an extremely effective type of insulation, depending on the brand. One brand, eShield, has R-values as high as 11.6 when the insulation is used in two layers. There needs to be an air pocket between the layers of insulation to guarantee optimum performance. It is a good choice to add to any existing insulation. However, make sure to check its permeability. If moisture does get in, the foil makes it much harder to dry out.

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