How to Assess Different Types of Insulation


Insulation is a major issue for any type of construction, whether it’s a residential or commercial building. Basically, insulation is a building material designed to reduce heat loss through the exterior walls of the building. Since the 1930’s, fiberglass has been widely used all across the world, and it is still the most common insulation type in the United States. Fiberglass insulation is made from woven blankets or fine glass fibers, creating affordable and easy to install insulation solutions. However, compared to other modern types of insulation, their effectiveness is rather poor.

Nowadays, there are numerous other types of insulation, available to meet every budget or need. Now you can choose from a wider variety, with various insulation products made from different types of foam, cellulose or cotton. Foam sheets, for instance, either made from polyurethane or polystyrene, provide far higher R-values than fiberglass insulation. However, with a price to match.

An intermediate solution so to say, between fiberglass and foam regarding price ranges, is cellulose. Cellulose insulation prices are a bit higher than those for fiberglass, but then again, the insulation level is also higher. It is made from shredded wood or newspaper. With special equipment, cellulose insulation is blown into attics or ceiling spaces to reduce heat loss.

The best way to compare different types of insulation is to check the R-value of each material. The R-value refers to the ability of a material to block heat transfer, measuring its effectiveness. Based on these measurements, higher R-rates are assigned to materials that provide more effective insulation. According to the United Stated Department of Energy, fiberglass, the R-values for fiberglass or cotton blankets insulation range from 2-3 per inch, while the R-values for foam insulators may go as high as 8 per inch. Cellulose has R-rates between 3.4 and 3.8 per inch.

There are several factors to be considered when choosing the type of insulation. Of course, price is always an issue, but any investment will have effects in the long run. Consider the price of materials and installation, but take into account the future energy bills. An effective insulation will result in lower utility bills, without sacrificing the comfort level. And if energy use is reduced, it not only helps your budget, but it also helps the environment.

The climate should also play a very important part in your decision, because it will directly affect the effectiveness of a certain type of insulation. Consider the average temperatures to determine the required level of insulation. Different types of insulation are suitable for different applications, so ponder your options carefully in order to choose the most appropriate type.