Has anybody done a cost comparison between the various types of building
insulations? Assuming a building's construction makes it feasible to use
any type, what's the proportional difference in cost? Lets say it cost
"$1" to insulate a house to a certain value using blown-in cellulose,
how much would it cost to do a comparable job using polystyrene panels?
Labor costs should be included in the comparison.
The comparison would have two sets of numbers for two situations: one
for new construction, and one for existing structures.
I don't think the prices for the materials differ much for different
parts of the US, so I don't think that's a factor. I'm not certain about
This is just for theoretical discussion. I want to be able to contribute
to a discussion, "Typically, polystyrene costs X times more than
You'll need to add the energy savings to the cost. I know that the FHA has
started to offer "energy" loans. If you build a house that'll save X
dollars over a year in heating/cooling bills, they'll allow your mortgage an
amount representing the increased savings.
Sure type X insulation might cost Y more, but you'll save Z per month in
utility bills. What's the payback? What's your baseline? Each part of the
country is going to have a different perspective based on local conditions.
I have not done a comparison as you ask but point out that each has a
defined use and some are better for a certain job. Foam board , the most
expensive type of insulation comes in 5 -6- 6.5 and 7.2 R per inch and
the 7.2 R inch foamboard can have foil face for a radiant barrier.
Sprayed foam I hear is R 7 . Making foam double the R value of other
types. Cellulose is paper, releases dust which can enter a house. And if
it gets wet its ruined. Cellulose also settles and looses more R value
over the years than fiberglass batts. Your 10 yr R value loss with
cellulose may be 30 % . Its the cheapest and for good reason.
Fiberglass is good all around.
Fourth Quarter "2003 HomeTech Remodeling and Renovation Cost Estimator " for
Ontario has four pages on insulation material & installation costs:
fibreglass blanket; perimeter fibre or styrofoam [doesn't specify if
extruded or high-density beaded expanded], baffles, blown in fibreglass;
cellulose, vapour barriers, radiant barriers.
They publish for all areas of the States as well, though it's not cheap.
Natural Resources Canada has a lot of information on this, with R-values,
federal grants etc.
Some of the booklets such as "Keeping the Heat In" have R values for each
or your own government's website.
Here in Toronto "Greensaver" has done 14,000 blower door tests & heat load
calculations using the "Energuide for Houses" Hotpoint software, reputed to
be rather complicated.
One of the best videos I saw during a Thermal Retrofit course with my union
was from a company in Minneapolis that used a similar method. During that
course we did heat load calculations on different building assemblies, and
calculated payback time for furnaces using current fuel prices &
efficiencies. I think the Hotpoint program is specific enough to tell a
homeowner how much of an energy savings can be gained by X amount of money
spent on retrofits or upgrades, so is able to tailor things to their budget,
& prioritize steps according to payback.
I recently ballpark priced via telephone about 2200 sq ft of 2X4 wall
space (8 to 10 foot walls) in the Dallas area. here were the results:
Rock Wool=$0.63/sqaure ft.
Damp (blown in) Cellulose=$0.67/square ft.
Fiberglass bats=$0.50/square ft.
Optima (Blown fiberglass for walls)=$0.90/square ft.
Spray foam=$1.20/sqare foot.
I only made about 5 phone calls, and these were rough phone estimates.
One cellulose guy was about $0.57/sqare foot. If I called around
enough, I could probably get it done cheaper.
It was very interesting that for a 2500 square foot house (roughly
2200 square feet wall space) the difference between celulose and
fiberglass bats was $300 or less, yet I believe performs so much
better. Spray foam came out to about $1200 extra over fiberglass bats.
Much less than what I had expected (especially if you include the
savings of downgrading from Tyvek to felt).
On the estimates, I told them this was a home to be renovated, but
that I tore down all exterior walls and flooring (essentially same as
new construction. Prices were the same.
The foam guy wanted to know if there were many slanted ceilings, but I
Finally, the foam guy promoted a flat $750 per unit, regardless of
unit size to foam the ductwork. (Sounds like a good deal if you have
one big unit).
Not that I know anything about this guy but his website was
For my situation, I would most likely go with the damp cellulose, but
the foam pricing looked very interesting.
On Thu, 04 Dec 2003 22:53:19 GMT, "Nehmo Sergheyev"
And that's what makes this whole discussion frivolous. Because the
type of insulation used is very much related to what else is going on
in the building.
If a building were already constructed with uninsulated stud walls, do
you include cost to remove the interior walls and replace them do you
can price fiberglass batt, or do you even need to consider it when
there are various blown in sustems to use.
Similarly if you have a 2x6 wall and need R-19 or less, why would you
use a more expensive but thinner insulation when you have the space.
But if you only have 1-1/2 furring space why would you 'only' use
fiberglass wneh you could get more R using rigid foam.
Sorry, but as a practical matter, insulation cost does NOT exist
independently "with all else equal". The very fact the several
different systems exist simultaneously on the market, suggests there
is no one cheapest and best way for all situations, or everyone would
be doing it.
Check the US Department of Energy website they used to have some
information - but probably not to the level you want. Your
request is actually quite complex to get a simple answer. It
would depend upon local climate conditions, and construction
type as factors as well.
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