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Is Spray Foam Insulation Better than Fiberglass?

If you're having a new home built, or just want to insulate an existing home, you're probably wondering which insulation is the best choice.  Here are the differences between spray foam and fiberglass insulation.


Keeping Heat Out of Your Home


Do you know what an R-Value is?  It's simply a term that is used for insulation's resistant to heat flow.  The higher the R-value of an insulation is, the better it will keep heat out. 


According to this energy guide on the U.S. Department of Energy website, standard fiberglass insulation is between R-2.9 and R-3.8 per inch.  But when we look at this data sheet for the spray foam insulation Heatlok Soy, we see that Heatlok is actually R-6.6 per inch. 


So now that you know that spray foam insulation has a much better R-Value than fiberglass, what difference does that actually make to your life?


The Difference in Electric Bills


A non-profit group named Habitat for Humanity figured out for themselves what a difference that R-Value can make in home insulation.  You've probably heard of them, they build affordable housing for people. 


So one year, Habitat for Humanity decides to build two identical houses, but each with a different type of insulation.  One of the homes had fiberglass insulation, the other had spray foam installed. 


They checked the electricity usage in both homes for five straight months.  When their test was over, they discovered the house with fiberglass insulation owed the electric company $547 more in bills than the spray foam house.  And that was just five months, you can probably imagine how much cash the spray foam house will save over the next 20 years.  Click Here to read their actual case study.


Mold Prevention


When cold air from outside of your home mixes with warm air from inside, moisture is formed.  That moisture can eventually form into unhealthy mold in your attic and walls.  According to this New York Times article, mold in your home can lead to health problems such as:

  • Asthma attacks

  • Sneezing & coughing

  • Itchy eyes & allergic reactions

  • Permanent lung damage

Worst of all, if your home is unprotected against growing mold for too long, removing it can cost thousands of dollars.


Spray foam insulation can create an airtight seal in your attic or walls.  This prevents warm and cold air from mixing, and moisture from forming.  This is how foam insulation prevents mold growth.  Fiberglass insulation, on the other hand, doesn't seal off your home.  As a result, moisture is more likely to be formed in your home, and mold is more likely to grow.


Insulation and Safety


Some people may think that because fiberglass is basically glass threads, that it must be perfectly safe.  After all, how can glass be bad for you?  But what you may not realize is that fiberglass is usually held together with a substance called resin.  That resin can release formaldehyde fumes into your home.  Making fiberglass can also release dangerous styrene vapors into the air.


What do the experts say about that?  The U.S. Government Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released this guide about air pollution from fiberglass fabrication in 2005.  It states that "People who are exposed to toxic air pollutants at sufficient concentrations, for sufficient durations, may increase their chances of getting cancer or experiencing other serious health effects, such as reproductive problems, birth defects, and aggravated asthma."


So how does spray foam insulation differ?  It doesn't produce formaldehyde.  When installed properly by professionals, it is not only safer for the environment, but also for your family.


Which is the Best Insulation to Use?


So far, you've read facts from The New York Times, the EPA, the U.S. Department of Energy, and non-profit groups.  And with the other info presented, you should now understand that spray foam insulation:

  • can cut home electricity costs up to 50%

  • can prevent the growth of harmful mold

  • doesn't release formaldehyde fumes into the air

Plus, spray foam insulation can strengthen the walls of a home, and a house treated with it usually has a higher resale value.  So even though the cost of spray foam is often twice that of fiberglass insulation at first, spray foam will save you more money in the long run.


We're Advanced Foam Insulation of Louisiana.  We specialize in treating homes with spray foam, but we also make sure that you have all the facts up front.  If you live in the state of Louisiana and would like to get a free estimate, please call us today or click here to reach us by email.



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