Home Insulation: Environmental Considerations

Many homeowners are focusing more attention on the environmental impact of the building materials used in their homes. This means greater emphasis on choosing products that are energy-efficient, responsibly sourced, minimize waste, and reduce pollution. Choices regarding home insulation affect all of these considerations.

Energy savings

All properly-installed insulation materials help to improve energy efficiency by reducing the amount of energy needed to heat and cool your house, which conserves nonrenewable fuel supplies.

  • Fiberglass insulation, rock wool, and slag wool insulation products installed to code levels in single-family homes save more than 100 times the amount of energy used to manufacture those products over a 20-year period.1

Lower greenhouse gas emissions

By reducing the need for natural gas, propane, fuel oil, and electricity to heat and cool buildings, insulation benefits the environment in the form of reduced emissions of pollutants such as carbon dioxide, sulfur oxide and nitrogen oxide, among others.

Consider this:

  • Installing insulation in 4 million homes (just 4% of all North American housing stock) is equivalent to the carbon dioxide removed from the atmosphere by planting 667 million acres of trees—10 times the area of Colorado.2

Use of Recycled Content

Using recycled materials in the manufacturing of insulation prevents depletion of natural resources. Fiberglass insulation and mineral wool insulation both contain recycled content.

  • Fiberglass insulation contains 40-60% recycled content, depending on the manufacturer and specific facility.
  • Mineral wool insulation products vary by makeup. Rock wool insulation contains an average of 10-15% recycled blast furnace slag. Slag wool insulation contains 70-75% recycled blast furnace slag.
  • Cellulose insulation has significant recycled content, with manufacturers often claiming 80% or more.
  • Spray foam insulation is a chemical product and therefore contains very little recycled content.

References:

  1. ICF analysis prepared for NAIMA
  2. ICF analysis prepared for NAIMA