Breathe Easier With Wool Insulation
Are you a green, ahead-of-the-trend homeowner or builder? Do you adopt new technologies and materials that can help you realize the benefits of sustainable living and working spaces? If so, there’s “something old/something new” that you should consider – sheep’s wool building insulation.
One of the most effective and sustainable green products available today, wool insulation can elevate any residential or commercial insulation project into the realm of renewable, high performance efficiency.
In fact, a growing number of people interested in a healthy, holistic lifestyle are discovering the benefits of wool insulation. A natural, eco-friendly product, wool excels at managing moisture and regulating temperature. It is inherently flame resistant and noise reducing, and traps harmful substances such as formaldehyde and nitrogen oxide – removing them from the air. Wool is also very durable – lasting more than 50 years – and is biodegradable at the end of its useful life. And, unlike with most other types of insulation, no protective clothing is needed during its installation.
A Healthier Alternative
The green building and construction industries in North America are increasingly moving toward healthier, more sustainable building materials. And wool is becoming a sought after alternative to traditional types of insulation.
When you think about it, wool insulation is not really new. For thousands of years, sheep have relied on their wooly coats to stay warm. Recognizing the natural fiber’s excellent insulation qualities, humans quickly embraced sheep’s wool for clothing. Mongolian nomads took the utility of wool a step further, using felted and woven sheep wool pads as an insulating layer on the walls and floors of their yurts – a practice still in use today. And now, wool insulation is being used in residential and commercial construction as a thermal (and acoustic) insulator for open attic areas, enclosed walls, and floors and ceilings.
One of the most notable properties of wool insulation is its capacity to regulate indoor air quality. The amino acids present in wool naturally bond with airborne chemicals such as formaldehyde, nitrogen oxide (NOx), sulfur dioxide (SO2) and other harmful volatile organic compounds (VOCs), trapping and removing them from the air. In contrast, many other insulation materials can emit harmful chemicals and, as a result, adversely affect indoor air quality.
Just as important, wool excels at absorbing and desorbing moisture against up to 65% relative humidity – helping to maintain the delicate balance between dryness and humidity. This ability to effectively manage moisture significantly reduces the potential for development of mold and rot, and the unpleasant health effects and financial impacts that can result.
Boosting Thermal Efficiency
Heat moves fluidly from ‘warmer to cooler’ until it finds a temperature balance. In the cooler months, heat flows from “warm and toasty” areas of the home to secondary, unheated spaces such as garages, cellars, attics, crawlspaces and the outdoors. During the warmer seasons, the process is reversed: heat flows from the outdoors to the interior of a dwelling.
While home heating and cooling systems help to maintain an even temperature within a home, high-performing materials like wool insulation can reduce reliance on these systems – resulting in lower utility bills and fewer greenhouse gas emissions.
Wool is one of the most effective insulating materials available today. The thermal resistance, or R-value, of most sheep’s wool batts is about R-3.5 per inch, similar to that of other fibrous insulation types. However, because wool insulation can absorb and release moisture and has a low net embodied energy, it often performs even better than its rated R value. Moreover, wool’s natural breathability helps it retain its thickness and avoid settling over time. It’s also an excellent acoustic insulator.
From Farm to Structure
One company that is successfully harnessing the intrinsic benefits of wool insulation to create healthier, more energy-efficient indoor spaces is Havelock Wool. The Nevada-based startup company offers both loose fill and batt insulation sourced from sustainably-farmed, free roaming sheep in New Zealand.
In addition to addressing health issues, Havelock Wool is committed to environmental stewardship through the preservation of the Earth’s finite resources and reduction of unnecessary building material waste that contributes to overstuffed landfills and growing ocean pollution.
Says Andree Legge, founder of Havelock Wool:
“Sheep have been adapting to severe climatic environments for thousands of years, evolving and offering protection from the elements of each season – hot and cold, damp and dry. Living in a building insulated with wool promotes health and well-being. It’s an appealing – and practical – option as we work to create healthier homes and a healthier planet. And, unless sheep decide to stop producing wool, we’ll always have a renewable and sustainable product.”
For more information on natural wool insulation, visit www.havelockwool.com.
This post is sponsored by Havelock Wool; all images from Havelock Wool