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Free Attic Insulation

A way to reduce waste and upgrade your home's thermal performance.

The best thing to do with a material, both economically and environmentally, is to reuse it.

Reusing and recycling are both essential practices for economic and environmental sustainability, but reusing has several advantages over recycling.

Reusing products means there's no need to manufacture new items or recycle old ones, both of which consume a lot of energy. Although recycling itself is beneficial, it requires energy to collect, sort, and process materials into new products. Reusing skips these steps, conserving a significant amount of energy in sorting, transportation, cleaning, and remanufacturing, in addition to all the labor involved.

When you reuse an item, you save the resources that would have been used to create a new product or to recycle an old one. This includes not just the raw materials, but also the water and energy used in production processes. Over time, this can lead to significant savings in natural resources such as water, soil, metals, and forests.

Some materials can only be recycled a few times before they become unusable. Each time they're recycled, their quality degrades. Reusing extends the life of products and more effectively minimizes waste.

Reusing Insulation Materials

My house has a problem. It has ducts in the attic, one of the biggest energy problems in homes.

For years, I've been getting high-quality food products delivered frozen or chilled inside insulated boxes. Rather than throwing the insulation in the trash, I save it. Insulation not only takes up space in trash cans and landfills, it's a valuable resource in a home.

I take the insulation from these frozen food boxes and use it to insulate my attic and ducts better.

Some of the more flexible materials made of cellulose batts, wood fibers, and recycled clothes can be draped over the ducts to provide additional insulation quickly. Some of these materials even have a shiny metallic material on them that acts as a radiant barrier. This reflects the infrared radiation coming off of the hot roof deck in the summer and prevents it from getting into your ducts in the hot summer.

Any rigid insulation and packaging materials can be placed on top of your existing attic insulation, such as blown-in cellulose, fiberglass, or fiberglass batts. These materials can include EPS, EPE, and EPP foams, corn starch-based foams, or any other packaging material with insulation value.

I also used some of the packaging material to insulate the attic over my garage workshop, which is uninsulated and can reach 110°F in the summer. Even one inch of insulation made a big difference. The image below shows a test after some random insulation was thrown up in the attic. Can you tell where it is?

Upgrading your attic insulation by reusing materials that would otherwise end up in a landfill or being recycled and degraded through an energy-intensive process is a great way to reduce negative environmental impacts and decrease your heating and cooling costs at the same time. Just be sure not to put any of these materials where there could be a potential fire risk, like around flue pipes, chimneys, or can lights. This requires a little labor, but the environmental and economic benefits of free insulation are worth it.

This is one way the impacts of food delivery can be reduced.

Questions for you:
  • Are you going to try this?

  • What other waste materials in your home can be reused for a different purpose?

  • Do you know anyone else who gets frozen or fresh food delivered that needs to know about this?


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