Saving Energy Around the Home – What is the Best Type of Insulation?
You probably already know that adding insulation to your home is one of the best ways to lower your utility bills and save money. Installing additional insulation in your attic and in your walls can keep the warm air in during the winter and the cool air in during the warmest days of summer.
What you may not know is what kind of insulation is best for each installation. Every home is different, and it is important to match the type of insulation to the specific needs of the room.
Rolls and Batts
Rolls and batts are often referred to as insulation blankets. These insulation blankets are flexible and constructed from mineral fibers like rock wool and fiberglass. This is among the easiest type of insulation to install, since it is available in widths that match the standard spacing between wall studs and floor joists.
That standard size makes this type of insulation an excellent choice for the attic. Choose R-13 or R-15 batts for a 2 x 4 inch walls. R-19 or R-21 insulation products are the best choices for 2 x 6 inch walls.
Loose Fill Insulation
Loose fill insulation is typically made of rock wool, cellulose, fiberglass or fiber pellets. This type of insulation is the perfect choice for those hard to reach areas. Loose fill insulation can be blown into spaces that need to be filled. Special pneumatic equipment is used to blow the insulation into place.
Loose fill insulation is often used to insulate around wires, pipes and ducts. It also conforms well to non-standard sized building cavities, and it is often used in older homes to fill in the gaps left by the original builders.
Rigid Foam Insulation
Rigid foam insulation is often used to sheathe exterior and interior walls and to shore up basement walls. Rigid foam insulation is generally more costly than both loose fill and rolls and batts, but it can be very effective.
This type of insulation is available in a wide variety of R-values – from R-4 to R-6.5 per inch. This is more than twice as much as most foam in place insulation styles.
Foam in Place Insulation
Foam in place insulation can be a good choice for insulating under floors, along walls and on attic surfaces. Like loose fill, foam in place insulation can be blown into place to prevent air leakage and the associated energy loss.
Foam in place insulation often comes in special pressurized cans that can be used to seal holes and cracks around window and door frames and to reduce air leakage where electric wires and plumbing fixtures enter the home.
There are actually two different types of foam in place insulation – closed cell and open cell. Both closed cell and open cell are constructed of polyurethane. Closed cell foam uses high density cells filled with gas that allows the foam to expand and fill the space around it. The most effective closed cell insulation has an R-value of about R-6.2 per inch.
Open cell foam cell insulation is not as dense. This type of insulation is filled with air, giving the insulation a spongy texture. The best open cell foam in place insulation will have an R-value of about R-3.7 per inch.
Choosing between open cell and closed cell insulation will depend on a number of factors, including how you plan to? use it and your insulation budget. Closed cell foam in place insulation has a higher R-value and has better protection against air leakage and moisture. Open cell insulation is less expensive, lighter and easier to work with, but it should not be used below ground level because it tends to absorb water.