Growing up, one of my favorite gifts for college was clothing. Budgets back then were tight, so any contribution to the clothing fund was always appreciated. In particular, I looked forward to getting the wool sweater that my aunt and uncle would bring me every year when they returned from their annual trip to Ireland. These sweaters were always one of my favorite pieces of clothing. Why? Because they could be counted on to keep me warm in the cold winters in Albany, NY.
For thousands of years, sheep have been able to survive harsh summers and winters. Due to their crimped nature, wool fibers form millions of tiny air pockets that trap air, helping to provide a breathable thermal barrier – and thus keeping the sheep warm during winter and cool in the summer months. If nature so effectively uses “wool coats” to protect sheep from extreme cold and heat, why not do the same in our homes?!
To be clear, insulation is extremely important to energy efficiency in our homes. It provides an easy way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while saving on utility bills. According to a study by the Boston University School of Public Health, increasing insulation levels in existing U.S. single-family homes to the 2012 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) level would reduce electricity consumption across the United States by 37 billion kilowatt hours. That’s equivalent to the annual electricity usage of 3.4 million U.S. homes.
As I’ve written: “While keeping your place cold can be a serious energy drain, keeping it warm can also be a heavy load. The furnaces and heaters you use to keep comfortable on cold days can use a lot of electricity, especially if your home isn’t insulated well. Many homeowners looking to winter-proof their home are now choosing earth-friendly materials such as hemp, cotton, and sheep’s wool. Using those sustainable materials can help you stay toasty warm while keeping your carbon footprint at a minimum.”
While other types of insulation such as, glass, mineral wool, cotton and foam are commonly used in homes, wool insulation, in my opinion, is the best option. Makes me think of that song, “Nothing Compares 2U” by Sinead O’Connor! All the other forms of insulation just can’t come close to the capabilities of wool. That’s why, when a company like Havelock Wool makes sheep wool insulation, I listen and do the research.
Again, wool has certain characteristics that make it able to breathe. Moisture can be absorbed and desorbed against up to 65% relative humidity – keeping a home dry and comfortable while helping to prevent rot and mold, which can lead to expensive repairs and health concerns. Unlike many types of manufactured insulation, wool insulation doesn’t settle and can maintain its R-value for 50 years. It’s also fire-resistant and is an excellent acoustic insulator. Plus, natural wool is renewable and 100% recyclable and biodegradable.
Now, we know that synthetics contain harmful chemicals. Yes. Even glass batt insulation. In the case of wool insulation, harmful chemicals such as formaldehyde, nitrogen oxide and sulphur dioxide are actually trapped by the wool and removed from the air. No other type of insulation offers this unique ability. In fact, most other types of insulation are emitting harmful chemicals and/or adversely affecting indoor air quality. I totally do not like going into my attic because the old glass batt insulation up there creates almost “filmy” air. For that reason, I never visit my attic without a mask. If my entire attic had wool insulation, I wouldn’t have that issue at all.
So, why Havelock Wool? For starters, they offer a choice of batt insulation, or loose fill if that’s your choice. The insulation is 100% wool with no synthetic mix. It’s renewable and sustainable – and compostable following an extended useful life. Add in flame resistance, and great thermal regulation and acoustic insulation properties, and it’s hard to beat. Oh, and no protective clothing or added safety measures are required while installing it. That says a lot.
Frankly, as I transition from my old insulation, I’ll be using greener alternatives like Havelock. I’m tired of worrying about going into an attic that feels unsafe to be in.
Thanks to the sponsors Havelock.