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Cellulose Insulation


Detail shows space space on left hand side of the insulation and all around the electrical box.


There are several areas of insulation compression like around the PVC pipe, electrical wire and the electrical blue box.

A Very Smart Choice

Cellulose insulation is a smart alternative to fiberglass because it provides a green, efficient, non-toxic, affordable thermal solution that’s worth considering for an attic insulation because we can blow unrestricted depths of fiber to achieve deep R values and also insulating not well insulated ducts that may be lying in the attic floor. Cellulose is considered a loose-fill type of insulation which is produced as — or broken down into — shreds, granules, or nodules. These small particles form fluffy materials that conform to all spaces in which they are installed. Loose fill insulations are great for places where it is difficult to install, such as around obstructions like plumbing stacks, and in hard to reach places. The thermal protection of a home is essential; controlling durability, cost of operation and homeowner comfort.  

The common standard by which insulation is measured, R-value, is the level of resistance to heat flow. R-value measures conductive resistance – the ability of a material to impede the flow of heat along the continuous chain of matter that makes up a solid material. Most of a home’s heat lost is typically through conduction, like compressed fiberglass insulation. Cellulose provides an R-value of approximately R-3.5 per inch of thickness.

A little history

Cellulose insulation has been around for a long time. Thomas Jefferson used some form of cellulose to insulate his Monticello home estate in Charlottesville VA, at was in 1769! What we think today as cellulose insulation has been in wide use since the 1920's, growing dramatically after WWII. The energy crisis of the 1970's led to an even greater use of cellulose because of greater improvement in quality and sophistication, now providing exceptional resistance to fire, moisture, mold, and vermin; but that dramatically changed once the big box stores started to offer fiberglass insulation batts to homeowners with a tempting low price and a high promise of big energy savings and the half true fact that fiberglass insulation is much easier to install that cellulose –but that is because not many people knows the real secret about how fiberglass really works and the truth complications involved on its proper installation. So the ubiquitous bales of pink and yellow fiberglass currently insulates more than 90% of the new homes built in the United States even though building scientists, engineers, and home performance contractors have realized for a long time now that this pink and yellow bales are really not the best insulators and cellulose insulation passes as a strong contender.

 that cellulose –but that is because not many people knows the real secret about how fiberglass really works and the truth complications involved on its proper installation. So the ubiquitous bales of pink and yellow fiberglass currently insulates more than 90% of the new homes built in the United States even though building scientists, engineers, and home performance contractors have realized for a long time now that this pink and yellow bales are really not the best insulators and cellulose insulation passes as a strong contender.


The truth about fiberglass insulation

   The insulation properties of fiberglass is not from the glass fibers it is made, but from the tiny millions of air bubbles contained in the insulation –the more air bubbles, the largest R value it has. So heat, a form of energy, passes through the glass fibers quickly because of conduction, since air has such a low thermal conductivity, heat slows way down when it gets into the air bubble, and that process repeats itself millions of times until the end of the insulation material In contrast to fiberglass insulation, cellulose insulation does not slows heat from air bubbles in between it is its fibers that slows the lost of heat. Cellulose origins are from wood fiber and the cellular structure of wood is naturally more resistant to the conduction of heat, which means cellulose insulation can be compressed into a space and offer additional r-value so tightly packed cellulose provides a thermally efficient, cost effective, and comfortable solution. So three big problems arises from this fact:

1) Many people think that pushing more fiberglass in a cavity to get more fiberglass would increase the R value of the space, while in reality, the truth is the opposite, reducing the air bubbles increases the conductivity properties of the fiberglass, increasing the speed at which the heat passes through.

2) Walls, ceilings, and floors of your home are full of odd shaped cavities and obstacles like plumbing, air ducts, electrical wiring and electric boxes. For fiberglass to work effectively to the stated R value, it must completely uncompressed fill around all these obstructions without gaps or voids. Any gaps and voids can reduce the actual performance of batts can be 14% to 45% less than their labeled R-value. Cellulose insulation is sprayed or blown into walls, conforming to your home and surrounding you and your family with a seamless insulation system. Fiberglass batts, on the other hand, are cut and pieced together, leaving gaps, voids & areas of compression

3) Due to air circulation and natural convection, the R-value of blown-in fiberglass insulation decreases by as much as 50% as the temperature drops from 45 degrees F to 18 degrees F. Cellulose has better resistance to air flow and prevents the upward movement of air caused by temperature differences (the R-value of cellulose actually improves during cold weather). Tests at Oak Ridge and Brookhaven National Laboratories and the University of Illinois reveal that the effective R-value of blown fiberglass plunges during cold weather, while the effective R-value of cellulose actually increases. The researchers also discovered that summer temperatures offer no relief for fiberglass, since its effective R-value withers then, too. 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 sprayed-in 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 are the results.

 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 a.m.), 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 heat than the fiberglass building.

Their final conclusion was that cellulose performs as much as 38% better than fiberglass in extreme weather. 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."


It is a good option for environmentally conscious consumers because Cellulose is “green.” Would it surprise you to learn that cellulose is the most common building material in the world? It should not because wood is the base of paper and cardboards, which then becomes cellulose, so you might be tempted to think of cellulose insulation as paper, or even ground-up paper, but in fact it is not. While clean, recycled paper and cardboards are the basis of cellulose insulation, the processes reverts any paper and cardboard used back to a fibrous state, bearing no resemblance to the original paper. Cellulose is made of 80% post-consumer recycled newsprint chemically treated with non-toxic borate compounds (20% by weight) to resist fire, insects and mold. The Cellulose Insulation Manufacturers Association (CIMA) claims that insulating a 1500 ft2 house with cellulose will recycle as much newspaper as an individual will consume in 40 years. If all new homes were insulated with cellulose this would remove 3.2 million tons of newsprint from the nation’s waste stream each year. There is plenty of room to grow. Fewer than 10% of the homes built today use cellulose. Cellulose earns “green” points because it requires less energy than fiberglass to manufacture. There are claims that 200 times less petro-energy are needed to produce cellulose than fiberglass. More realistically, Environmental Building News reports that fiberglass requires approximately 8 times more energy to make when adjusted to reflect energy cost per installed R-value unit.

Cellulose insulation is safe. It is made of paper, and chemically treated to provide permanent fire resistance -independent testing confirms it’s safe and cellulose is approved by all building codes. In fact, many professionals consider cellulose to be more fire-safe than fiberglass. This claim rests on the fact that cellulose fibers are more tightly packed, effectively choking wall cavities of combustion air, preventing the spread of fire through framing cavities. 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 is much lower per "R" of insulating value than other materials. From the national perspective these savings at the production stage must be added to the superiority of cellulose as an insulator.


Walls are fully and tightly insulated, forming a monolithic thermal barrier with no more gaps. No more voids, no more drafts, just years of comfort because cellulose will not lose its energy saving abilities over time.


Gaia Sharbel Energy © A Green Company. Complete Energy Solutions for your home or office

Cellulose of tranquility Cellulose rocks Sea of cellulose

Cellulose of tranquility