By Chris Miller
A savvy do-it-yourselfer can come up with a dozen unconventional uses for insulation (spray foam as packing material, anyone?), which makes it tricky to find basic information online when you’re just dipping your toes in to the DIY pool. Here is an introduction to the three basic types of insulation and their most common uses.
Blown-in insulation, also called cellulose or natural fiber insulation, is often made from recycled newspaper that has been treated with fire-retardant chemicals. This type of insulation is loose and fluffy, and is blown into spaces using a wide hose.
This kind of insulation is most often used when updating old homes. It’s usually blown in to holes drilled in the tops of walls or blown across the attic floor – as long as the attic is vacant, not used as a living space. Blown-in insulation is great for adding extra insulation after a home has been built, because it will fit around pipes and wiring within the walls.
Blown-in insulation will eventually settle in the space, but is still very good for preventing heat loss or gain within a home, providing heat retention better than or equal to fiberglass batting.
Spray foam insulation is made from polyurethane, which is also the basis of other foams found in furniture, car seats, and footwear. It is piped into a space, where it expands as it dries.
Spray foam insulation comes in two types: open cell and closed cell. Open cell insulation is less dense because the cells of polyurethane are still open. It’s often used in interior walls because it provides an air barrier, but not a water vapor barrier. Closed cell insulation is much denser than open cell, and acts as a barrier against water vapor in addition to air.
Spray foam insulation is most often used to seal gaps in walls during the building process, because it provides an airtight seal. It can also be used to seal around window and door frames, but can get a bit messy if you’re not careful.
Spray foam is the most efficient form of insulation, but also the most expensive, so use it wisely. Look for soy foam insulation for the healthiest, non-toxic, and eco-friendly option.
Batt and blanket insulation is made of spun fiberglass packed together in a mat, much like the cotton batting inside a quilt. The fiberglass is flame-resistant, though the insulation may have a facing made of paper. The difference between batts and blankets is that batts are precut and blankets are continuous rolls that will need to be cut to fit a space.
Fiberglass insulation is most often used between the studs of a wall, and is installed before the drywall goes up during the building process. It’s important that the insulation fills the space completely, because even small gaps can cause significant reductions in energy efficiency.
Of the three main types of insulation, fiberglass batts are the cheapest, but they can also be the trickiest to install and are the most toxic insulation option. The cost of formaldehyde-free fiberglass batts and conventional fiberglass bats is roughly equal so be sure to ask for the formaldehyde-free product when shopping. We recommend looking for alterative insulation options other than fiberglass. If you must use fiberglass, find a contractor that specializes in installing insulation in Toronto, or wherever you live, if you need help with the installation process.
No matter which type of insulation you choose, it’s important that you’re prepared to handle it. You should use gloves, goggles, and a face mask to protect yourself. Some insulation types may require additional protective measures, so be sure to do your research before attempting any do-it-yourself project.Related Articles
About the author:
Chris Miller is a professional writer, blogger, and English grammar enthusiast. Chris enjoys learning about new products, procedures, and ideas from various industries. He finds helpful information for his articles from companies like Reitzel Insulation.
By Heather Logan
TOKYO, JAPAN – I’ve recently returned from an explorative journey to Japan as part of Panasonic’s eco press tour to discover the latest and greatest innovations to make your home easy to care for. Below are the top 5 technologies to come from Panasonic’s showcase center and Eco Ideas Home. This zero-emission smart house combines science and nature’s elements to make an intelligently designed home that is unlike anything we’ve seen before.
From one side, it looks like a modern kitchen counter. On the other side, you can feed your family from your own hydroponic garden. Vegetable cultivation conditions are monitored on a 24-hour basis with smartphones or computers fitted with network cameras. This monitoring even allows growth records to be shared. Now everyone can have a green thumb.
This groundbreaking innovation from Panasonic uses LED technology to allow you to extract color from one object and impart it in another object instantly. With the use of color extraction tubes, you can change the look of a LED-equipped wall or furniture piece at a whim. The company is keeping mum as this technology is in development, but from what we’ve seen so far, this is painting of the future.
This hybrid air-conditioning system uses both natural and mechanical ventilation to maximize air temperature control and energy efficiency. The system detects people’s movements throughout the home to direct air where it is needed most.
The Wind Passage Tower can measure the differences in temperature between indoor and outdoor air to bring in cooler ground air in the summer and warmer air in the winter through an underground duct.
With sensors to detect any wastage of energy, now you don’t have to stress about a light being left on. Did I mention this works in harmony with their floor heating system? I’m feeling comfortable already.
Panasonic’s Smart Home Energy Management System (SMARTHEMS) will make you feel like you’re living in a smartphone app. It links all appliances and energy supplies into one central network. The program, which can be accessed by a TV or smart device, visualizes the energy, gas, and water consumption throughout the home. It acts as your personal energy consultant, displaying the progress made towards energy-saving targets and providing advice to support energy-saving activities.
If you live in a community with other smart homes, you can link your system to the Community Energy Management System (CEMS) for the town, as seen in the Fujisawa Smart Town in Japan. With CEMS, residents can share excess energy, respond to energy needs, and track community usage trends in an effort towards electricity conservation.
This small, easy on the eyes energy storage cell from Panasonic uses high-capacity lithium-ion batteries to store electricity. It provides electricity at night from energy created from the home’s solar panels during the day and offers up to 3 days of energy independence during natural disasters.
These smart home technologies are demonstrative of a world where beauty, creativity, and innovation are bringing us back into balance with nature and a higher quality of living. To learn about more smart home technologies, follow my posts as I explore how sustainability and technology converge.
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