about Cellulose Insulation
cellulose settle in attics or sidewalls?
Cellulose will settle in attics until it reaches a
stable density, as will other types of blown insulation.
Coverage charts have already taken this into account. In
sidewalls, cellulose will NOT settle if installed via
tube feed method.
cellulose a “green” product?
Yes, cellulose insulation is made from paper, which is
refined into cellulose fiber. It has a local recycled
content of 82%+. Fiberglass has less than 25% and
sprayed foam insulation nearly Zero. Our product is made
right here in New England, which means lower emissions,
as our insulation travels fewer miles before it arrives
to your home. This is one of the greenest products
Credits are available?
Tax law is constantly changing. For the latest
the best insulation to use in cold climate?
Studies by Oak Ridge National Laboratory show that the
performance of fiberglass insulation degrades
dramatically when the difference between the internal
and external temperature exceeds 30 degrees, while the
performance of cellulose remains stable.
the sound control benefits?
Sound waves move through the air and space. The same
density and custom fit provided by Resolution Energy for
the purpose of the fire safety and thermal control, also
increases its ability to control sound. The one time
luxury of insulating interior walls for sound is now
affordable with cellulose insulation.
Q: What are my insulation
A: There are basically three widely
available choices in insulation products for your home:
fiberglass, cellulose and sprayed foam insulation.
Q: What is the truth about the
A: You’ve hit upon,
perhaps, the single most misunderstood idea about
insulation, that R-Value tells the whole story. Not only
does R-Value not tell the whole story, it barely scratches
R-Value is a measure
of a material’s thermal conduction, which is fine, as far as
it goes. Unfortunately, R-Value has taken hold in the
consumer’s mind as a universal method for comparing
insulations – the higher the R-Value, the better the
insulation, end of story. But all R-Values are not created
equal, because they measure only one of the factors that
determine how an insulation product will perform in the real
Insulation is, first
and foremost, meant to stop the movement of heat. The
problem with using R-Value as the sole yardstick of an
insulation’s effectiveness is that heat moves in and out of
your home or office in four ways: by conduction (which
R-Value measures), and by convection, radiation and air
infiltration (which R-Value doesn’t measure). But let’s
stick with the concept of R-Value for the moment. The
R-Value’s of insulation materials are measured in a lab.
That would work great – if your home was inside a lab! But
your home was built outdoors, and that means there are other
factors like wind, humidity and temperature changes in plan.
These factors create pressure differences between the
interior and exterior of the building due to things like hot
air rising, air pressure, and mechanical systems forcing air
through every tiny little opening and making its way to the
Your home or
commercial building may look solid, but there are thousands
of tiny gaps, cracks and penetrations between building
materials. For example, when we apply the air pressure of 20
MPH wind on a 20 degree F day to a building, the typical
R-19, fiberglass insulated wall often performs no better
than the wood studs (R-6) – because of air infiltration,
with heat being transported around (bypassing) the
fiberglass batts through convection. In very low density
materials like loose blown fiberglass, heat will
actually radiate right through the insulation, and
this, along with convection significantly reduces
fiberglass’ installed performance and your comfort.
A superior insulation
system will have good R-Value (prevent heat loss via
conduction), will be pneumatically or spray applied, fully
filling the building cavity (prevent heat loss via
convection), and will be densely packed (prevent heat loss
via air infiltration and radiations). Fiberglass meets the
first criteria, but not the other three. Cellulose meets all
four of these critical performance criteria! In addition,
you want your insulation to do more than just insulate.
Besides insulating, cellulose can help prevent the spread of
flames in the event of a fire, deters mold and pests and
blocks the transmission of sound much more effectively than
fiberglass. The insulation in your walls, ceilings, attic,
etc., has lots of jobs to do besides insulating – and
cellulose is up to all those jobs! Don’t choose your
insulation because some brightly colored cartoon cat with a
catchy theme song says it’s good. Choose it because it can
do all the things you need your insulation to do!
Q: What’s the real cost?
A: First, we have to
define the terms. If you’re talking about price at the time
of installation, well, that would be fiberglass, followed by
cellulose, then comes foam. But, cost isn’t the same as
price. Cost = price, plus cost over time. And, in that
equation, cellulose beats fiberglass by a mile. Here’s an
Let’s say you’re
building a new home, and the price of fiberglass insulation
is $2,000. Let’s say insulating the same home with
cellulose has a price of $4,000. So, if we stop there,
fiberglass wins and you ‘saved’ $2,000. But, you were
planning on living in your new home, right? Which means you
have to heat and cool it.
Because cellulose will
save you (on average) 40% of your energy costs versus
fiberglass, if your energy bill each year in the fiberglass
house is $3,000, then the energy bill in the same house
insulated with cellulose will be $1,800, a savings of $1,200
each and every year. So, if we run that out ten years,
assuming stable energy prices, the fiberglass house costs
$2,000 + $30,000 = $32,000. The cellulose insulated house
costs $4,000 + $18,000 = $22.000.
So, the answer to your
question is, cellulose costs a lot less than fiberglass over
time, even before you take into account the fact that
insulating with cellulose does such a good job at preventing
air infiltration that you may very well be able to install a
smaller furnace and a smaller AC unit – another savings!
It’s also quieter, safer in the event of a fire, resists
pests such as carpenter ants and termites – the advantages
of cellulose just go on and on.
Q: What’s the difference
between cellulose, fiberglass and foam insulations?
A: There are many
differences. Here is simple chart that outlines some of
As you can in this chart, cellulose insulation offers some
distinct advantages over fiberglass and sprayed foam.
- The greatest insulating value
- The best resistance to air
movement through the wall or ceiling
- No gaps or voids
- The best resistance to noise
- In the event of fire, cellulose
works to help prevent it’s spread
- The best protection from
moisture, mold and pests like carpenter ants
- The highest recycled content, by
- The least embodied energy
In short, cellulose
insulation is the best and the ‘greenest’ choice you can
make in insulation for most applications.
Q: Embodied energy? What’s
A: One measure of
embodied energy is simply the amount of energy it takes to
manufacture something. In the case of cellulose, it takes
750 BTU’s (British Thermal Units) of energy to make 1 lb of
it. By comparison, it takes 12,000 BTU’s to make a pound of
fiberglass and more than 30,000 BTU’s to make a pound of
sprayed foam insulation. For the consumer, the lower the
embodied energy of a product, the less pollution generated
when the product was made.
Q: Won’t cellulose make my
house more likely to burn down if I have a fire?
A: No, in fact just
the opposite. The borate (a naturally occurring mineral)
added to the cellulose fiber ensures that cellulose
insulation won’t support combustion. In fact, here’s a
picture of what happens when cellulose is exposed to flame,
in this case from a torch.
The very top layer of
the insulation chars instantly, and that char protects
everything underneath it, including the hands of our
initially reluctant designer, John, who ‘volunteered’ for
this picture at the photo shoot. (There is no trick involved
in the photo, but we do not recommend you try this at home.
And you should never, under any circumstance, try this with
fiberglass or foam based insulations – you’ll get badly
The simple fact of the matter is that
cellulose will perform better and provide better protection
in the event of a fire than any other type of insulation.
Q: My neighbor’s house,
insulted in the ‘80’s, had settling problems. Will modern
A: You’re not going to
have that problem with cellulose, because there have been
two significant changes since the ‘old days’ of cellulose
First, the way the
product is manufactured. Today’s product is fiberized, which
allows for increased coverage and lower settled densities.
Second, the machines
and techniques to install the product have been greatly
upgraded. It may sound like a simple job, but it requires a
technically sophisticated, truck or trailer mounted machine
to properly install cellulose. It also takes specialty
training to learn how to correctly install cellulose.
So, with today’s
equipment and techniques, cellulose is ‘dense packed’ in the
walls of your building at twice its settled density. In
simple terms, that means that the wall or ceiling cavity is
filled and is actually under slight pressure from the
material. It can’t settle because there is no space left for
it to settle into.
Q: So, that’s it? Cellulose
is made out of newspapers?
A: There’s a little
more to it than that. The newspaper is first reduced to very
small pieces in a machine called a hammermill, pieces just
big enough to make out one letter from the original
newspaper. In the next step, these tiny pieces are ‘fiberized’,
that is, they go through another process that breaks them
down to the component fibers of the original tree from which
the newsprint was made. At this point, there’s no
resemblance to the original newspaper. Then a borate, a
naturally occurring mineral, is added for fire, mold and
pest control. Lastly, there is a tiny amount of mineral oil
added, for dust control. The product is then bagged.