Insulation is an incredibly important part of construction and keeping your home comfortable – unfortunately, the materials used are often hazardous or even toxic. Fibreglass is the most popular type of loft insulation in the UK but there are serious concerns about it’s effects on people’s health; from worrying about contact irritation through to possible links with cancer and other respiratory diseases. Using eco-friendly materials for your insulation can remove this concern altogether while actually providing more efficient insulation for your home.
Know Your Options
There are a lot of natural or recycled materials that offer the same levels of thermal insulation as fibreglass without adding hazardous materials to your home. Fibreglass has a typical K value of 0.033 W/m.k – 0.040 W/m.k, the lower the number is, the less conductive the material is (which is how insulation works, the material needs to be very bad at conducting heat). Compared to this, wool’s K rating is around 0.037-0.040, flax’s K rating is around 0.038-0.040, and hemp’s is 0.039-0.043 making it the least efficient option in this list. Most green builders in the UK use wool since it’s so readily available in the UK (reducing the carbon footprint) and there are a lot of different manufacturers around the country. It’s also safe to handle, regulates moisture, and compresses well so it’s cheaper to transport and easy to install. Other options include cotton, aerogel, polystyrene, insulating boards, and icynene. While polystyrene doesn’t sound very eco-friendly, a lot of home workers overlook the plastic because it is just so efficient (with a K rating of 0.033). If you prefer to go for boards, they have incredible thermal efficiency (0.022W/m.k) and can be used over the rafters, between them, or in the floor to double up insulation for the rest of the house. This is an excellent option if you don’t have enough room for wool or thicker materials.
Don’t Forget the Perks
A lot of materials have other benefits in addition to insulation. For example, sheep’s wool is non-combustible so if you suffer a fire at home it will slow its progress, while polystyrene would burn and release styrene gas. Wool also regulates moisture and reduces humidity within your home without compromising on insulation.