At Greenovations, the only insulation we sell is a batt form of insulation, Ultra Touch recycled denim insulation. http://www.seacoastgreenovations.com/products/ultratouch.aspx And yet, when customers ask us about working on their home we nearly always recommend an insulation we don’t retail, blown in paper cellulose. The fact is indisputable, that blown in forms of insulation are the best insulators. So why do we sell recycled blue jean insulation?
Well, there are several factors that contribute to the overall quality; and, compared to fiberglass, Ultra Touch is a superior product. Naturally, the first aspect of an insulation we consider is it’s R-Value – and index that rates the thermal (insulation) performance of your material. While Ultra Touch is available in the same thicknesses as fiberglass, it demonstrates one significant performance advantage – stable R-values. It is widely known that the R-value of fiberglass drops off the colder it gets. The inverse is true with heat. The material is a form of glass after all. Just think of how quickly a bottle will cool off in your fridge. In fact, fiberglass performs at its best between 45 and 65 degrees. Now,with Ultra Touch, that R-value remains stable, leading to performance across all temperatures (though it still fails to create air tightness the same way fiberglass does).
The second attribute is fire resistance. Ultra Touch has a Class A fire rating. Spray foam, though better at insulating and air tightening comes with multiple hazards, especially to those who must install it while wearing Hazardous Materials suits. (Spray foam is highly toxic while off gassing, too.) Though code requires all homes to have a 15 minutes burn rating on sheet rock, if a fire does get to your spray foam (perhaps you live 8 miles from the nearest Fire House) you can kiss your house goodbye. In fact, due to improper installation, 2 homes recently under construction in Massachusetts caught fire during the application of spray foam and were entirely destroyed.
The third attribute is acoustical performance. In addition to insulating against temperatures, Ultra Touch insulates against sound transmission due to its 3-dimensional matrix of fibers. Many people use Ultra Touch for interior walls and it is the most preferred material for sound studios and entertainment facilities such as the show-house for Blue Man Group. While paper cellulose performs equally as well, for strictly acoustical concerns, Ultra Touch is a much more economical product. This is explained by attribute three.
The fourth attribute is installation. Because Ultra Touch is 100% natural cotton fiber, you can install this yourself. And because there are no issues with it such as itching or breathing in glass particles, you can install this in your underwear…if you’re so inclined.
Finally, nothing except paper cellulose, when regarding the raw material alone, is equally green. Ultra Touch is made up of more than 90% recycled cotton fibers, most of that old blue jeans. There is no formaldehyde nor any other harmful irritants commonly found in fiberglass and most especially spray foam. The embodied energy in the material is insignificant when compared to fiberglass or spray foam.
So if you insist on using batt insulation or you’re a hardy do it your-selfer, just remember, there is a lot more to insulation than R-value and Ultra Touch is your best choice.