All Insulation Is Not Equal: Cellulose vs. FiberglassGiven the warm and sunny South Florida climate, insulation is an afterthought to many local homeowners. However, properly insulating your home helps you save money and reduce energy consumption in all types of weather. It inhibits thermal transfer, helping prevent the escape of cool indoor air during the summer and maintaining an even, comfortable indoor temperature during the winter. Not all types of insulation are made equal, though, and it's useful to understand the differences between two of the most commonly used products: cellulose and fiberglass.

Cellulose insulation

Cellulose is a type of loose-fill insulation which is typically composed of shredded newspapers that have been treated with special chemicals to reduce their flammability. It is inexpensive, and it's quick and easy to install, but you typically need to over-fill the areas you're insulating, as cellulose settles over time, losing some of its volume. Other key properties to consider:

  • There is a difference between “initial installed thickness” and “minimum settled thickness” of about 20 percent.
  • It is made of organic material, which may attract mold, dust mites and other pests.
  • The fire retardant capabilities of cellulose can diminish over time.
  • The presence of fire-retardant chemicals may pose health and safety threats.

Fiberglass insulation

Fiberglass is another type of loose-fill insulation which is uniquely suited for use in attics, corners and other hard-to-reach places. Unlike cellulose, fiberglass will not settle over time and it is excellent at inhibiting airflow, boosting its ability to resist thermal transfer. By comparison:

  • Fiberglass maintains its original density throughout its life.
  • It will not attract pests or mold spores.
  • It is naturally inflammable.
  • It has been rigorously tested and proven safe.

On the whole, most experts agree that fiberglass is a better choice. The only major ways in which cellulose outperforms fiberglass is in initial cost, and in its use of recycled materials; otherwise, fiberglass is superior in practically ever way.

At Robert R. McGill Air Conditioning, we're here to ensure that all of our South Florida customers benefit from professional advice. If you have any questions about your home's insulation, or if you have any other home comfort questions or concerns, please don't hesitate to contact us.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in Palm Beach County, Florida about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). 

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

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