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Alternative Home Insulation Ideas

It's important to reduce the environmental impact of home insulation, but in the dead of winter it's just as important to stay warm. New and innovative forms of home insulation need to be made of nontoxic materials, and need to be effective in separating your living space from freezing temperatures. Fortunately, there are numerous materials that meet both of these criteria.
  1. Straw bales

    • Straw bales are becoming increasingly popular among homebuilders concerned with both the ecological impact and health of their homes. Straw bales are not appropriate for insulation of existing homes, but in new construction they can create walls that are beautiful, sturdy, and very good at insulating a living space. Because of the thickness of straw bales, the feel of a house made with them is similar to older houses, with deep window wells and a slightly wavy adobe wall surface. An alternative to straw bales is cob, which is made out of soil, sand, straw, and water. Cob is more labor intensive to build with than straw bales, but can create thinner walls, and can be shaped into curves and domes. Straw bales have a higher R value (resistance to cold infiltration), but cob has more thermal mass and so is more effective at regulating interior temperature.


    • When looking for an alternative to some of the unhealthy and high-tech products that have been created by industrial society, sometimes it's easiest to go all the way back to basics. Sheep's wool can be formed into batts and used to insulate a house, in essentially the same way that it insulates sheep. Wool holds heat and repels water naturally, and is 100% free of the formaldehyde and other toxins that are found in fiberglass, extruded foam, and other industrial insulating materials.

    Mushroom Insulation

    • The founders of Greensulation are pushing the boundaries of innovative insulation design by creating insulation batts out of rice hulls, recycled paper, and mushroom fibers. Although mushrooms are thought of as mushy forest floor dwellers by most people, they actually have very strong fibers. When these fibers are mixed with other recycled materials and processed, they can help to strengthen and hold together batts of insulation that can be placed into the walls of a house.