Insulation - A Cozy Jacket for Your Home

You can think of insulation is a warm and cozy jacket for your home. Why insulate your home? Of course it saves on your energy bill but how?
  • It slows conductive heat
  • It stops convective heat and currents in the air of your home
  • It reduces radiant heat
  • It reduces noise
  • It must be perfectly installed. If not you have massive losses in its value.
So what kind of insulation is best and how "green" is it?
Here are a few things to look for:
  1. Lo-VOCs - Most fiberglass is now made with 25% pre & post-consumer recycled glass, and meets California's lo-emitting standards (CA Section 01350)
  2. Ultra-touch Cotton is >85% post-industrial content. It is made from scraps from the denim factory floor. I have this in my attic.
  3. Wool insulation is annually renewable. Baaah.
  4. Cellulose is > 75% recycled content, is formaldehyde free and is great for filling in nooks and crannies in walls. They call it "drill and fill". I also found out I should have used this in my attic to fill all spaces well. Be sure to block around recessed lights and fans though in attics. FIRE DANGER
  5. Foam is NOT biodegradable, costs a lot of money and it is hard to access wiring and plumbing if repairs are needed. It IS very high efficiency.
How do I know that I am getting what I want?
  1. Quality installation can be verified by a HERS rater.
  2. Check for IAQ (Indoor Air Quality) certification on the product. (Greenguard label, USGBC, Energy Star, Indoor Advantage)
  3. Check for recycled content labels.
  4. Is it a locally manufactured?
Hope this helps,
Nelda Braver
Architect, LEED-AP, CGBP, Green Point Rater

Find a HERS rater at or, or ask your local building department.

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Comment by Nelda H Braver on May 24, 2010 at 10:28am
YES to P.G.& E. rebates and we got a $1500.00 credit on taxes.
Comment by Nelda H Braver on May 24, 2010 at 10:27am
YES! to radiant barriers. They are the unsung hero of energy savings. Even under the roofing material and sheathing they reflect the radiant energy of the sun back out into the atmosphere. I will blog with some notes from my Build It Green Class. They can save 8-12% on an annual air-conditioning costs. There are retrofit materials to that I would need to research.
Comment by Tina King Neuhausel on May 23, 2010 at 6:29pm
And get a rebate from PG&E while you're at it!

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