Effective insulation is crucial for ensuring that your tiny home is a comfortable and habitable space. Fortunately, if you’re a builder who is conscious about the environment, there are various eco-friendly insulation options available for your tiny home. Moreover, since tiny homes can be constructed using non-traditional materials, these options are affordable and won’t put a strain on your budget. In this article, we will explore six eco-friendly insulation choices that you can consider for your tiny home building project.
Glass Wool Insulation
Two experienced builders, who prioritize sustainable construction, offer insight into eco-friendly insulation for tiny homes. They emphasize that eco-friendliness is not a universal standard, but instead a range of sustainability options with trade-offs for each project. Nonetheless, they recommend glass wool or fiberglass insulation as a quality and sustainable option for tiny homes.
Glass wool, which is essentially fiberglass, is one of the most familiar insulation materials, cost-effective, and readily available. It has one of the lowest global warming potential ratings among batt insulations and is mostly made from recycled glass. However, it can be tricky to install, and proper respiratory protection during installation is crucial. It is advises that a 2×4 wall can only provide R-13 insulation, and this value will decrease if the batts are installed poorly or become compressed or slumped within the wall cavity.
R-value measures the thermal resistance of an insulation material, indicating its effectiveness. Many homeowner who used glass wool insulation in their build and are satisfied with its performance. They also affirms that their home is well-insulated from top to bottom, keeping them warm in winter and cool in summer.
Mineral wool insulation
Mineral wool, also known as rock wool or stone wool, is an eco-friendly insulation material that is commonly available at most building supply stores. It is created by spinning igneous rock into fibers, which are then made into batts that are installed similarly to fiberglass insulation. As with fiberglass, proper respiratory protection is necessary when installing mineral wool insulation.
Although mineral wool is more expensive than fiberglass, it offers a higher R-value, which indicates its effectiveness in terms of thermal resistance. Mineral wool provides an R-15 insulation for a 2×4 wall, compared to fiberglass’s R-13 insulation for the same wall thickness. Mineral wool is also easier to install than fiberglass and can be cut around wiring, electrical boxes, and plumbing without losing its full R-value.
Another advantage of mineral wool insulation is that it can be salvaged for reuse at the end of a structure’s life, which sets it apart from other insulation products. This is an essential consideration for people who prioritize sustainability and aim to minimize their environmental impact.
Sheep’s wool insulation
Sheep’s wool insulation is often marketed as a sustainable and eco-friendly insulation option. It is a natural fiber that is harvested from sheep and processed into batts for installation. Sheep’s wool insulation has an R-value comparable to fiberglass insulation, but it typically costs more than other insulation options, running two to three times the cost of fiberglass.
It’s important to note that some sheep’s wool insulation products may contain additives such as flame retardants and pesticides. These additives can have potential health impacts, particularly for those with sensitivities or allergies. If you’re considering using sheep’s wool insulation and natural fibers are important to you, it’s important to research the product thoroughly and choose a product that doesn’t contain any harmful additives.
On the other hand, natural, untreated sheep’s wool insulation options do exist, and these products can provide a more sustainable and eco-friendly insulation option. When selecting a sheep’s wool insulation product, be sure to look for certifications such as the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), which ensures that the product is free from harmful chemicals and meets certain environmental and social criteria.
Polyisocyanurate panels are a type of rigid insulation that is environmentally friendly and offers high thermal resistance. They are also relatively easy to install. Despite being made of foam, they have a lower global warming potential rating than mineral wool, which is another popular eco-friendly insulation option. However, they are also more expensive than other insulation options, and using them requires a flame retardant wall covering, such as drywall. It is essential to consider both the cost and the environmental impact of using polyisocyanurate panels as insulation, as well as the potential safety risks associated with flame retardant materials.
Denim or cotton insulation
Denim and cotton insulation are insulation materials that are made from recycled clothing and are marketed as eco-friendly options. They are priced similarly to mineral wool insulation. However, the global warming potential rating of denim insulation is slightly higher than that of mineral wool. The expert mentioned that this impact is reduced when considering the carbon sequestered in the denim.
It is important to note that, as with sheep’s wool insulation, denim or cotton materials may be treated with a flame retardant to reduce flammability. Therefore, it is crucial to carefully research any denim or cotton insulation product to determine whether it contains any potentially harmful additives.
Cellulose insulation is another eco-friendly option that is made from recycled newsprint, wood, and corn cobs, and is similar to denim and cotton insulation. Loose fill cellulose insulation is the most common type of cellulose insulation, and it is designed to be blown into walls and cavities, much like spray foam insulation. However, unlike spray foam insulation, cellulose insulation is a dry material.
One of the benefits of cellulose insulation is that it can settle around most obstructions, such as wires and pipes, within walls and crevices. This means that cellulose insulation can be easily installed without having to remove obstacles. However, over time, cellulose insulation can pack down unevenly and leave air pockets. This can be a disadvantage because the insulation may not perform as efficiently, and the R-value may be compromised.
It is important to note that cellulose insulation can be treated with boric acid, a natural fire retardant, to reduce flammability. Additionally, it is essential to ensure that the cellulose insulation is properly installed and not too densely packed to avoid air pockets and maintain the desired R-value.