I have a friend who’s a real estate agent, and he talks about housing prices like my other buddies talk about basketball scores. This city is up, this city is down. This city will get more expensive in the next few years. For a while now, he’s said Sacramento is a place where families can get their money’s worth when they buy a new house—but that may be changing.
Take Roseville, where out of 454 listings, only 21 houses are under $250,000. Two years ago, Roseville had twice that many homes at that price. With new house prices on the rise, it’s time to consider renovations.
One of the things to consider during a major renovation is upgrading your home to loose-fill, or blown-in, insulation. Renovations are a great way to create new space and rejuvenate an aging house, and loose-fill insulation is perfect in this situation because it’s made to seal up leaks in spaces with irregular shapes, like those often created by remodeling an existing home.
What Is Loose-Fill Insulation?
I’ve talked before about the value of insulation, but it’s also important to know about the different types of insulation. Loose-fill insulation, sometimes called blown-in insulation, is a type of insulation that is specially-suited to fill in the nooks and crannies of new construction. Compared to blanket batts and rolls, which come stock on most houses, the nature of loose-fill means it will do a better job of limiting gaps that inevitably decrease your home’s energy efficiency by allowing too much air seepage.
Your house is usually a lot like your neighbors’ when it’s first built, but once you decide to undergo any renovations, it’s possible that you’ll be changing the shape of your house. If so, your wall and ceiling cavities might not be so uniform anymore—especially if you pick a style that’s particularly modern or innovative. That’s why it’s really beneficial to pick out a type of insulation that will conform to the voids around your new studs or joist bays, as well as cavities that include electrical boxes, wiring, plumbing vents, and blocking.
Standard batt insulation just doesn’t work as well when it comes to filling in these odd crevices and cavities—it won’t do a complete job sealing in air, which should be the ultimate goal of your new insulation. It’s an easy choice to decide to go with loose-fill over batt insulation, but what’s a bit harder is deciding whether you want your loose-fill insulation to be made of cellulose or fiberglass.
Cellulose Versus Fiberglass When Choosing Loose-Fill
Once you’ve decided you want to go with loose-fill insulation, the next question is whether you want that insulation to be made from cellulose or fiberglass:
- Cellulose insulation: Cellulose is the top choice of most environmentally-friendly green builders because it’s made from ground-up newspaper, with most brands using between 75 and 80 percent recycled material. Cellulose is also inexpensive, and it performs a bit better under most circumstances. The efficiency of insulation is rated with an R-value, which is the measure of insulation’s ability to prevent heat from passing through it. Cellulose is denser than fiberglass insulation, and that gives it a slightly higher R-value, about 3.7 compared to the fiberglass rating of 3.5.
- Fiberglass insulation: Fiberglass is similar to cellulose when it comes to loose-fill because they can both fit and fill irregular spaces that batt insulation can’t. However, fiberglass insulation isn’t as environmentally-friendly, and it’s believed to carry a minor health risk, although that hasn’t been officially substantiated. Still, fiberglass, which is made of chopped glass insulation fibers, is best kept to spaces where those fibers have no chance of entering occupied space—or an HVAC system.
When it comes to loose-fill insulation, cellulose is cheaper, heavier, and performs better if installed correctly. But, fiberglass proponents would remind us that if cellulose insulation is installed poorly, it tends to settle and become less effective than fiberglass over time.
When any insulation sags or sinks, otherwise known as settling, it begins to allow more air and energy to pass throughout it, making it less effective. Fiberglass doesn’t settle nearly as much as cellulose loose-fill does, so your ultimate selection may depend on the expertise of the crew doing the installation to evaluate several factors particular to your home and family.
Installing Loose-Fill Insulation
Unlike batt insulation, which is pretty easy for a homeowner to install themselves, loose-fill involves a more complex method. Both cellulose and fiberglass loose-fill insulation must be sprayed into place using special equipment. This is a tricky process for a homeowner to attempt, largely because it involves using specialty equipment. In fact, even contractors who are building brand-new homes generally sub out this work to a skilled insulation contractor.
What’s more, it’s important to incorporate this sort of work into your renovation process, so that you don’t find yourself looking into better insulation options after major renovations are complete—the installation will be much harder. You’ll save quite a bit of money down the road, when air seepage starts to cost you, if you make insulation a top priority when doing any sort of remodeling project.
If you’re one of the many people in our area who’s been thinking of buying a new house, but has had to shift plans because of the rise in our real estate prices, you may want to consider using whatever assets you have saved up for a major renovation instead, to make your current home more modern—and more energy-efficient.
When you’re planning and executing those renovations, keep loose-fill insulation in mind for preventing air leaks in the new areas of your home. Air seepage is costly, and most types of loose-fill insulation are actually pretty affordable. So consider bypassing the standard batt insulation—I don’t think you’ll regret it.
Are you interested in learning more about how loose-fill insulation can improve your home, new or old? Contact the professionals at Bell Brothers today for a quote.