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Insulation Basics: Fiberglass vs. Cellulose

Insulation Basics: Fiberglass vs. CelluloseFiberglass and cellulose are popular among contractors and homeowners as inexpensive yet effective insulation material. Both offer excellent performance and relatively easy installation despite their differences in appearance and composition. Properly installed insulation not only helps reduce heat flow into the home during summer and out of the home during winter, but it also helps reduce high energy bills.

Not all insulation is the same and having it installed requires plenty of consideration for climate, airflow and other important factors. Getting a handle on insulation basics means taking a look at both the similarities and unique characteristics of fiberglass and cellulose insulation:

  • Fiberglass insulation is available in a solid “batt and roll” form as well as blown-in loose-fill form, giving you more options for installation.
  • Cellulose consists of 80-percent recycled materials, as opposed to the 30-percent recycled content in fiberglass.
  • Unlike fiberglass, cellulose is prone to settling over a long period. Most installers take care of this through overfilling.
  • Fiberglass is made from noncombustible glass fibers that simply melt when exposed to extreme heat. Cellulose, made largely from shredded paper products, requires additional treatment with fire-retardant chemicals prior to installation.
  • Cellulose is more prone to absorbing moisture than fiberglass, given its organic construction. Fiberglass is also capable of resisting mold growth and infiltration by bugs.

The federal EPA offers a handy “insulation zone” map for those looking for the minimum R-value needed for insulation in their homes. Since the Fresno area falls within Zone 3, you should add insulation that offers a minimum value of R-30 for uninsulated attics, R-25 for attics with 3 to 4 inches of existing insulation, and R-19 for floors.

If you want to learn more about these and other insulation basics, please contact us at Donald P. Dick Air Conditioning. We can help San Joaquin Valley residents understand the insulation basics and find the right type of insulation for their needs.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in the greater Fresno, California area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).  For more information about insulation and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock