Cellulose vs. Fiberglass

In December 1989 and January 1990 the University of Colorado at Denver School of Architecture and Planning studied the energy conservation efficiency of two test buildings that differed only in the insulation systems that had been installed.

Building “A” was insulated with 5.5 inches of wet-spray cellulose in the walls and R-30 of loose-fill cellulose in the ceiling. Building “B” received R-19 unfaced fiberglass batts in the walls and R-30 kraft-faced batts in the ceiling.

Over the two-month period a number of different tests and measurements were performed. Here is what CU Denver researches learned. Remember: Building A: Cellulose insulation; Building B: Fiberglass insulation.

  • In spite of the fact that tests showed building “B” was about 12% tighter than building “A” in the uninsulated state, after insulation was installed, building “A” was far tighter than “B”. Calculations showed that cellulose tightened the building 36% to 38% more than fiberglass.
  • An overnight heat loss test revealed that after nine hours (midnight to 9 AM) the cellulose-insulated building was 7 degrees F warmer than the fiberglass building.
  • Most significantly, after three weeks of monitoring the cellulose-insulated building had used 26.4% LESS energy to heat than the fiberglass building.
  • In their statement of conclusions the researchers note that the results suggest cellulose performs as much as 38% BETTER than fiberglass. The performance advantage of cellulose in temperate climates appears to be about 26%, and the report projects that “this benefit would become more significant in more severe climates”.
  • Cellulose insulation benefits not covered by the University of Colorado study include:
  • Cellulose insulation contains more than 75% recycled material, primarily newsprint, one of the largest parts of the waste stream. Cellulose insulation not only saves energy, it helps cities meet the growing waste disposal problem.
  • Since production of cellulose requires much less energy than mineral fiber insulation, which is made in gas-fired furnaces, and foam plastics, which are petrochemicals, the “embodied energy” in cellulose insulation is much lower per “R” of insulating performance than other materials. From the national perspective these savings at the production stage must be added to the superiority of cellulose as an insulator.

If you’re serious about saving money heating and cooling your home, about recycling and responsible use of resources, and about saving energy for our country the only insulation to seriously consider is cellulose. Call us today to get this solution for your home!

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