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Spray foam vs. traditional insulation

Posted April 24, 2013 in Advice Column

Up to 40 percent of a building’s energy is lost due to air infiltration. Gaps, holes and air leaks — which can all be prevented — can make energy bills unnecessarily high and let valuable resources go to waste. By adding insulation and sealing air leaks, you could save up to 20 percent on your monthly energy bills.

Spray foam insulation vs. traditional insulation
Spray foam offers a better solution than traditional fiberglass: It performs as both insulation and an air sealant, or air barrier, closing those nooks and crannies that let air escape and add dollars to monthly energy bills. Traditional insulation products contain inherent gaps that allow for convection, or wind-blown heat loss. A significant percentage of energy is lost due to these convection currents. Unlike fiberglass or cellulose, polyurethane foam systems are sprayed directly onto the surface as a liquid and expand as an insulating barrier that adheres directly to the building structure, thus forming an airtight barrier filling all the cavities and crevices that traditional insulation cannot effectively seal.

Traditional insulation products are known to sag, settle and lose their thermal efficiency. Spray foam insulations are semi-flexible foams with elastic qualities that allow the foam to move with your home’s natural process of shifting and settling, keeping your home securely insulated year after year.  Closed cell foam systems even improve the structural integrity of your home.

Spray foam as insulation
Nearly 60 percent of the energy used in a home goes to heating and cooling. Your home’s heating, ventilating, and air conditioning (HVAC) system has a big effect on your utility bills and your energy consumption. Maintaining an optimal HVAC system can make your home more energy efficient. Spray foam insulation can help reduce the workload on your HVAC system thanks to its high R-value and effectiveness. In fact, with spray foam, HVAC sizing could be reduced as much as 35 percent without the loss of efficiency and comfort.

Spray foam as an air sealant
Air leaks can waste energy and drive up utility bills. Spray foam can be used to fill gaps and stop the leaks in many areas of a home or building. Some common spots for air leaks that can be sealed with spray foam include behind knee walls, attic hatches, wiring holes, plumbing vents, open soffits, recessed light, furnace flue or duct chaseways and basement rim joists, windows and doors.

Spray foam insulation’s tight cell structure makes it an efficient air barrier that effectively seals against the influx of outdoor pollutants and allergens.  It adheres to areas that traditional insulation is inherently incapable of bonding.  By forming an airtight seal in the attic, rain water is eliminated from entering, reducing the risk of fungal growth and damage to the building materials.

When having spray foam insulation installed in your home or building, work with a professional contractor, like EnergyWise Spray Foams and Coatings, who can educate you on the installation process and what spray foam insulation can do for you.

Information provided by Damon Boyd, EnergyWise general manager, 641-446-3626.

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