Blown-in cellulose insulation, also referred to as “blow-in” or “blown”, has a long and rich history in the construction industry, going back to the 1920’s. And, despite its established, time-proven status, cellulose has improved in quality and sophistication over time, and it now provides exceptional resistance to fire, moisture, mold, and vermin.
According to the U.S. Dept. of Energy, most attics aren’t adequately insulated. A typical home is likely to have less than R-20 attic insulation. But throughout most northern states, the DOE recommends that attics in be insulated to R-49 or more.
Blown-in Cellulose Insulation is Green
All insulation helps make buildings more energy efficient. Using cellulose insulation can contribute to obtaining LEED credits in the US Green Building Council certification program. It can earn credit in two categories: the Energy and Atmosphere energy performance category and the Materials and Resources recycled content category.
Blown Insulation is Cost-Effective
The combination of too little insulation and too much air leakage can waste a great deal of energy. That’s why home performance experts recommend that air-sealing improvements be combined with insulation upgrades. When attic air sealing is combined with an attic insulation upgrade, it’s possible to reduce heating and cooling costs by as much as 40 percent.
If you have an unfinished attic, you’ll be surprised at how affordable it is to seal air leaks between your living space and the attic and upgrade attic insulation by having blown insulation installed. Both energy-saving upgrades can usually be completed in a single day.
Cellulose insulation is one of the few wood based building materials that is always treated for fire retardancy and is covered by industry and government standards. Wood framing members, wood floor and roof underlayment, wood siding, wood case goods, and many other common wood items are not usually treated for fire resistance. Petroleum based materials in siding, roofing, ducts, flooring, floor coverings, wall coverings, and upholstery are not usually fire resistant.
Fiberglass and Cellulose are Blown Insulation Materials
Some insulation contractors install blown fiberglass insulation, some install cellulose and some can install both types of blown insulation. Blown fiberglass and blown cellulose are both “fluffy” insulation materials with similar R-values.
Installing Blown-in cellulose insulation
A shredding and blowing machine located outside the house forces the blown insulation through a long, flexible hose that extends into the attic, where a technician directs the flow. Blown cellulose insulation can be installed directly over existing attic insulation, providing that this older insulation is in good condition.
If you haven’t yet made this energy-saving investment, it’s definitely worth doing. Once it’s complete, there’s no maintenance or repair to worry about. An insulation upgrade is a once-and-done improvement you’ll enjoy for as long as you own your house.