As we prepare for the new year, there is no doubt you have countless to-do items to check off around the home. Whether it is a small task like decluttering the attic (or a big task depending how much you have in there!), or a bigger project like updating your siding or replacing your windows, all home improvement projects are important. Yet perhaps one of the most underrated and often forgotten is insulation. It does not matter whether you are building a new home or updating your existing one – insulation is one of the most important aspects of a home. There are many benefits to insulation (which we will discuss further down), with each type of insulation offering its own advantages. Blanket insulation, foam insulation, rigid insulation and loose fill insulation are some of the most popular types of insulation. In this blog, we will be taking a deep dive into loose fill insulation so you can determine whether or not it is right for your home and needs.
What Does Insulation Do?
Insulation works to inhibit the transfer of heat. In the winter, it prevents cold air from the outdoors penetrating the interior of your home, keeping it warmer inside. During the summer, insulation helps trap cool, conditioned air inside the home while resisting heat from the outdoors. Effective insulation is one of the biggest contributors to the energy efficiency of your home.
What is Loose Fill Insulation?
Loose fill insulation is one of the most common types of insulation, and the most versatile. Loose fill insulation is typically made from cellulose, rockwool and/or fiberglass. Less common materials include polystyrene beads and vermiculite and perlite. Loose fill insulation is also incredibly pliable and used in a variety of ways. It can be used for existing walls or new wall cavities, unfinished attic floors and other hard-to-reach places. And, the flexible nature of loose fill makes it ideal for unevenly shaped areas and to fit around other obstructions.
Do I Need Cellulose or Fiberglass Loose Fill Insulation?
There are plenty of arguments for cellulose and against fiberglass loose fill insulation, and vice versa. At WoW, we recommend borate only stabilized cellulose. There are several reasons why:
- Its performance is unmatched; the thermal resistance (R-value) is much higher compared to that of loose fiberglass filled insulation.
- Cellulose is made from reclaimed/recycled materials which are environmentally friendly.
- Borates are an effective insecticide and pest deterrent for your home.
- Cellulose poses less of an inhalation hazard in comparison to fiberglass.
- Unlike other cellulose insulation, borate stabilized cellulose does not have VOC content and does not off-gas like Ammonium Sulfate stabilized cellulose or Formaldehyde containing fiberglass.
The biggest disadvantage to using borate cellulose is it is more expensive than fiberglass.
While some people in the home improvement industry recommend fiberglass over cellulose loose fill insulation, we believe it is more of an attempt to reduce construction costs rather than deliver a high quality product for homeowners. Below are some reasons why we do not use loose fill fiberglass:
- It is subject to convective air movement and this results in a tremendous degradation of the cumulative R-Value. Studies have shown as much as a 50% reduction in R-Value of loose fill fiberglass during wintertime conditions.
- Fiberglass is not an effective insecticide or pest preventative.
- Fiberglass is a skin and lung irritant.
Is Loose Fill Insulation the Right Choice for Maryland and Virginia Homes?
Considering Maryland and Virginia both have a milder climate, you may be wondering whether you need loose fill insulation. While it is true that Maryland and Virginia homes are relative in their need for heating and cooling, this does not mean insulation is unnecessary. There are plenty of benefits to insulation. Insulation can reduce your energy usage and utility bills. It offers greater resale value if you sell, and it improves the durability of your home by reducing the humidity and the amount of mold that accumulates. At WoW, we believe properly applied cellulose insulation, partnered with targeted air sealing, can significantly increase the comfort of your home while dramatically reducing utility bills for all homes across Maryland and Virginia.