Insulation Crash Course

Feb 3, 2020

Insulation is the material located in the walls of your house, attic, basement, and crawl spaces. Most insulation is thermal based and used to control heat. The effectiveness of thermal insulation is measured by R-values. R-value is a number assigned to insulating products based on its ability to stop heat transfer. Generally speaking, the higher the R-value the greater the insulation.

Greenserve are insulation and energy conservation experts and we know that having a properly installed insulation can help you save money. According to the Department of Energy, “Air leakage can account for as much as 40 percent of the energy cost to heat and cool your home. That is the equivalent of leaving a window open 24 hours a day, all year long.” Proper insulation will reduce your energy bill by keeping heat in or out of your house. Selecting the best insulation option for your home will translate into energy savings as well as the comfort level or your home. We can assist you in picking the most efficient and cost saving options for your home resulting in a home that is comfortable and energy efficient.



The Different Types of Insulation

There are different types of insulation, each with their own unique pros and cons, and each are suited better for different needs. Different types of insulation include:

  • Spray Foam Insulation
  • Cellulose Insulation
  • Loose-fill Fiberglass Insulation
  • Rigid Foam Insulation


A Long-Lasting Remedy: Spray Foam Insulation

Spray foam insulation is perfect for walls, floors, attics, crawl spaces, and rim joists. This includes spaces around electrical outlets, light fixtures, and where walls meet windows and doors. It acts as an air barrier material to prevent air flow and seal cavities against air movement.

Spray foam is a polyurethane which has two liquid chemical components, generally referred to as “Side A” and “Side B” which are mixed at the site of installation. Side A is mostly made up of isocyanates and Side B usually contains polyol, flame retardants, and amine catalysts. These foams are combined at the job site and form a chemical reaction that creates the foam. Spray foam is waterproof and pest resistant, making it a long-lasting remedy. However, spray foam insulation is a bit more expensive than other types. Some spray foam can expand up to 100 times its original size, ensuring a tight fit in every nook and cranny. Fiberglass and cellulose insulation risk setting and open spaces that can leak air.



While a bit more expensive, spray foam insulation never loses its shape. It fills cracks, gaps, and crevices on installation and won’t compress, sag, or settle over time. The insulation has increased sound control, deters mold growth, and reduces air flow while stopping drafts and cold floors. Typical R-values for spray foam are around R-3.5 – R 7.1 per inch. All of these positives may lead to a lower monthly energy bill.


The Eco-Friendly Way: Cellulose Insulation

Cellulose insulation is eco-friendly, and is made from recycled materials that are treated for fire resistance, mold, and insects. Blown cellulose is generally used to bring attic room insulation up to standard and can be applied over existing materials. Dense pack cellulose is suitable for loading walls and ceiling cavities as well as various other spaces that need to be insulated, and it can be used in both existing homes and new construction. Due to its nature, this material can conform to most spaces without disturbing the structure or finish. Cellulose is a long-lasting insulating solution that won’t lose efficiency over time and is inexpensive.

Cellulose installation is a great option if you are considerate about the environment. Made out of 80 percent recycled materials and having zero greenhouse gases as propellants, this is a choice you can feel comfortable investing in if you are passionate about the environment. The majority of cellulose insulation is made of some type of recycled paper, denim, or wood, but it is most commonly recycled paper. While having paper in your walls may seem like a fire hazard, all cellulose insulation is treated with boric acid, borax, or ammonium sulfate making it flame, mold, and pest resistant.



Blown cellulose gets into the majority of the nooks and crannies for insulation, but it tends to settle. Modern cellulose can settle up to 20 percent, leading to areas where air can leak through. This can cause the home to be more uncomfortable and energy bills can rise.

The R-value of most cellulose insulation is 3.5 per inch.


The Inexpensive, But Effective Way: Loose-Fill Fiberglass Insulation

Blow fiberglass is one of the most economical insulations readily available. Fiberglass can be used for attics and as wall dental caries and is made from molten glass spun or blown into fibers. Loose-fill fiberglass is inorganic, noncombustible, and does not absorb moisture. It does not support the growth of mold, mildew, or fungus and does not attract insects. It is inexpensive and effective and will not shrink or burn.

Typical R-value for most fiberglass insulations is 2.2 – 2.7 per inch. Fiberglass will also settle over time so its R-value will eventually decrease. Improper installation of fiberglass will also not seal wall and ceiling spaces very tightly and can lead to air leakage.


For Basements and Crawl Spaces: Rigid Foam Insulation

Rigid foam insulation is just that, rigid. Instead of being pieces of materials that conform, rigid foam insulation contains strong boards that have a radiant barrier on at least one side. This product is ideal for attic ceilings, basement walls, and crawl areas. The inflexible foam is long-lasting and is great for insulating unfinished rooms in your house. Unlike bat and blow insulation, rigid foam won’t blow or shift out of place. It is also water and pest resistant, so it’s perfect for basement and crawl spaces.



Rigid foam offers benefits as an air barrier when properly installed and the boards are sealed at joints and edges. It prevents air coming in and out of the house, but it must be properly installed in order to limit air leaks and to act as a weather-restrictive barrier. It is easily cut with a knife or saw, so it can fit in unusually shaped areas. It has a higher R-value than both fiberglass and cellulose, so will help keep your house comfortable. 


Types of Rigid Foam Insulation

  • Polyisocyanurate
    • Polyisocyanurate (polyiso) has the highest R-value boasting R-6.5 – R 6.8 per inch. It also has a reflective surface so it can act as a radiant barrier. This is the most expensive of the rigid foam insulation types, but will provide more thermal protection.
  • Extruded Polystyrene
    • Extruded polystyrene (XPS) is blue or pink in color and has a smooth plastic surface. The R-value for XPS is around 5 per inch and is the most versatile of the three. It is stronger than expanded polystyrene.
  • Expanded Polystyrene
    • Expanded polystyrene (EPS) is the least expensive of all three of the rigid foam insulations, but has the lowest R-value of 3.8 per inch. It is more easily damaged, but a great alternative for those who are budget conscious. This is well suited for lesser trafficked areas of the house.


Why You Need Insulation



The bottom line of insulation is that you have to have it, and the proper insulation with the proper installation will save you money on your energy bill and give you a more comfortable home. Whatever your budget or preference, Greenserve has the insulation you need for your house. Whether you are building a house, expanding, or just need insulation re-applied, we are here to meet your needs.

Want to know which insulation is best for your home? We can help! While this blog may be a great starting point, you can always reach out to us for any questions that you may have. We also offer a free energy audit, so we can help you determine how much energy you’re using and what insulation would be best to save you the most money in the long run.


Get a quote today by calling (980) 432-0042.