Are you planning to upgrade the insulation in your home in Maryland but not sure which material to choose? Don't worry, I've got you covered! First things first: insulation is a vital component of any energy-efficient and comfortable home, but it’s often an overlooked home improvement project. Why install insulation when you can undertake a fun kitchen or bathroom renovation, right? Yet without adequate insulation, you'll find your home extremely uncomfortable to be in, and you'll also find your energy bills creeping up over time – not ideal. In this article, I’ll be comparing two common insulation types – cellulose and fiberglass – to help you decide which one is best for your Maryland home.
But First, What is Insulation?
Before we dive into the specifics, let's discuss what insulation is and why it's important. Insulation is a material that is installed in your home's walls, attic, and floors to reduce heat transfer. During the winter, insulation helps keep heat inside your home, and during the summer, it helps keep the cool air in. Without proper insulation, your home will be vulnerable to heat loss, resulting in higher energy bills and an uncomfortable living environment.
Why Do Maryland Homes Need Insulation?
Effective insulation is essential in Maryland homes. Maryland has a humid subtropical climate, with hot summers and cold winters, which means that having proper insulation is crucial to having a comfortable living environment and keeping energy bills in check. Without adequate insulation, the hot and humid Maryland summers can make your home feel like a sauna, while the chilly winters can make it feel like an icebox. Good insulation helps regulate indoor temperatures, making sure your home stays cool in the summer and warm in the winter.
What You Need to Know About Cellulose Insulation
Cellulose insulation is an eco-friendly insulation material made from recycled paper products such as newspapers, cardboard, and other paper products that have been treated with fire-retardant chemicals. The cellulose insulation is then blown into the walls, floors, and attic of a home using specialized equipment to insulate your home.
Pros of Cellulose Insulation
- Energy Efficient: Cellulose insulation is an excellent insulator that can provide high levels of energy efficiency to your home. It’s a great choice for those looking to reduce their energy consumption and lower their energy bills (so basically all homeowners!)
- Eco-Friendly: Since cellulose insulation is made from recycled paper products, it’s an eco-friendly insulation option that can help reduce waste in landfills.
- Fire Retardant: Cellulose insulation is often treated with fire-retardant chemicals, making it less likely to ignite in the event of a fire.
Cons of Cellulose Insulation
- Susceptible to Moisture: Cellulose insulation can be prone to moisture absorption, which can lead to the growth of mold and mildew.
- Settling: Over time, cellulose insulation can settle, which may reduce its effectiveness and lead to gaps in coverage.
How Much Does Cellulose Insulation Cost?
The cost of cellulose insulation varies depending on several factors, such as the size of the home, the type of cellulose insulation used, and the installation method. On average, cellulose insulation can cost between $0.5 to $1.5 per square foot, including installation. While this may be more expensive than fiberglass insulation, it is still a cost-effective option for many homeowners, considering its energy efficiency and eco-friendliness.
Is it Suitable for Homes in Maryland?
Cellulose insulation is an excellent option for Maryland homes, especially those in older homes with gaps or voids in their existing insulation. Since cellulose insulation is blown into walls, floors, and attics, it can easily fill in gaps and crevices that other types of insulation may miss. Additionally, cellulose insulation provides excellent energy efficiency, which is particularly important in Maryland's humid subtropical climate. Properly installed cellulose insulation can help regulate indoor temperatures, reduce energy consumption, and lower energy bills, making it a smart investment for Maryland homeowners.
What You Need to Know About Fiberglass Insulation
Fiberglass insulation is another common type of thermal insulation made from glass fibers that are woven into thin, flexible batts or blown into spaces as loose fill. It’s actually one of the most commonly used types of insulation in residential and commercial buildings due to its affordability and ease of installation. The fibers in fiberglass insulation trap pockets of air, which helps to slow down the transfer of heat and cold, making it an effective insulator. It is typically used to insulate walls, floors, and ceilings, as well as attics and crawl spaces.
Pros of Fiberglass Insulation
- Affordable: Fiberglass insulation is generally less expensive than other types of insulation.
- Easy to install: Fiberglass insulation is relatively easy to install, especially in new construction or unfinished spaces.
- Doesn’t absorb moisture: Fiberglass insulation is non-absorbent and does not retain moisture, which can help prevent mold growth.
Cons of Fiberglass Insulation
- Health hazard: Fiberglass insulation is made of small, sharp glass fibers that can irritate the skin, eyes, and lungs if inhaled or touched.
- Can be ineffective in extreme temperatures: In very cold or very hot climates, fiberglass insulation may not provide adequate insulation and can allow heat or cold to pass through.
How Much Does Fiberglass Insulation Cost?
The cost of fiberglass insulation can vary depending on the size of the space to be insulated, the R-value (thermal resistance) required, and the type of installation method used. On average, fiberglass batt insulation can cost between $0.64 to $1.19 per square foot, while blown-in fiberglass insulation can cost between $1.50 to $3.00 per square foot. However, the cost will vary depending on the contractor and the specific project requirements.
Is it Suitable for Homes in Maryland?
Fiberglass insulation can be an effective choice for homeowners in Maryland if you’re looking for something cost-effective, but I would argue the health hazards of fiberglass aren’t worth the cheap cost. Not to mention it’s not ideal for areas with high humidity like Maryland, as the hot and sticky weather can cause your insulation to absorb moisture and lead to mold growth. Plus, if your home has gaps, voids, or other air leaks, fiberglass insulation may not be effective in reducing air infiltration.
Why WoW Chooses Cellulose Insulation
At Windows on Washington, we always recommend cellulose insulation. Why? We have seen too many cases where fiberglass insulation has been overblown in attics, leading to little to no improvement in temperature regulation and overall comfort. While fiberglass may be popular due to its affordability, insulation should be chosen based on real-life performance rather than cost or popularity. That's why we exclusively use borate-only cellulose insulation for our loose-fill insulation projects. When properly installed with targeted air sealing, cellulose insulation can significantly increase the comfort of your home while also reducing your utility bills.
Ultimately, the best insulation for your Maryland home will depend on your specific needs and priorities. If you're unsure which insulation to choose, speak with the professional at Windows on Washington today. With obligation-free advice, we’ll help you find the right solution for your home.