Cellulose insulation is material used to insulate between interior and exterior walls and other structures of buildings. This form of insulation is made from a variety of things that were at least originally plant matter. Numerous people throughout history have used forms of cellulose insulation. It was even employed in the famous Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson.
The attitude toward cellulose insulation has undergone gradual change. Concern about safety of some of the products used in the 1970s led to greater regulation, and increased the sales of its main competitor at the time, fiberglass insulation. After fiberglass reigned supreme in the insulation market for several decades, studies on cellulose insulation began to prove some interesting facts about it.
For instance, researchers found that this form of insulation might help protect homes from significant fire damage because it is so compact there is little room for oxygen, which fire requires to keep burning. Another interesting aspect of this insulation is that with the exception of chemical treatments applied to it, it is considered a much “greener” building material.
It uses primarily recycled materials like paper and naturally produced fabrics. In fact, when the California Academy of Sciences rebuilt their facility in San Francisco in the late 2000s, they opted to use recycled denim as insulation. One factor in choosing this green method was the low embodied energy (amount of energy it takes to produce a product) in denim insulation, as compared to the embodied energy of fiberglass.
There are several types of cellulose insulation that can be used in buildings. These include loose fill, low dust, wet spray and stabilized. Loose fill can be blown into areas of space requiring insulation. Low dust is treated with certain additional products, which may be useful if people are allergic to dust from things like newspapers. Wet spray cellulose insulation has water added to it, and may be the most effective insulation form, and stabilized cellulose bears some similarity to it.
There can be some significant long term cost savings in using cellulose insulation. It tends to keep in heat better, or keep it out depending upon exterior temperature. The one thing that remains challenging is finding people skilled in applying it. It can take some work to find those with extensive experience in installing different forms of this insulation. Another potential disadvantage is that the ingredients in this insulation may attract termites. However, treatment with borate, which is usually standard, tends to discourage termites.