Making Music the Sustainable Way

Making Music the Sustainable Way.
In recent years there has been an increase in the number of young people playing guitar, largely due to the popularity of the Guitar Hero video games and artists like Taylor Swift. With all of these budding guitar players comes an increase in production of you guessed it, guitars! Like most people, when I bought my guitar I didn’t think about the harvesting practices that were used to build it. There is no greater time than today for musicians to start examining the impact our craft has on the environment, and fortunately guitar manufacturers are doing the same.

It’s Time to Change Tradition
Responsible harvesting practices are important, as the Martin Guitar Company of Nazareth Pennsylvania discovered 50 years ago when it exhausted its usable supply of nearby Adirondack Spruce. This is when the guitar industry turned to Sitka Spruce, which is found in the Pacific Temperate Rainforest located in southeast Alaska. The process of making an acoustic guitar is very demanding on its wood sources because the main sounding board of the guitar (known as the “top”) requires clear cutting large diameter old growth trees. In addition to guitars, many other wood instruments rely on Sitka Spruce. Other significant strains on the stand of spruce in Alaska are the housing, construction, and furniture industries. This is why it is crucial that musical instrument manufacturers start searching for alternatives before it is too late.

What You Can Do to Help
You can help by seeking out guitars made by manufactures that choose alternate sources of wood. Martin Guitars have been on the cutting edge of sustainable guitar building since 1990 and through the SmartWood program of the Rainforest Alliance, Martin received a FSC certification. High pressure laminates such as Micarta, Stratabond, and AbaLam have all been used to substitute traditional “tone” woods such as Sitka Spruce. The Martin Guitar Company also uses reclaimed spruce, which is music grade spruce salvaged from the scrap of paper mills.

Brazilian Rosewood is another wood that has long been thought of as a premium tone wood for the back and sides of acoustic guitars. In 1992 this species of wood was placed on the CITES list. East Indian rosewood is one of the main substitutes; however it is harvested in a sustainable manner which limits its availability. Taylor Guitars have made use of Ovangkol, an African species Rosewood that has tonal qualities similar to Brazilian Rosewood. Many other guitar manufactures have been experimenting with a wide range of species for their tone woods. Species such as: cherry, claro walnut, redwood, bay laurel, cedar, blackwood, sycamore, myrtle, koa, and maple. These species come from a wide variety of sources including: wood reclaimed from building demolition, trees damaged from forest fire, driftwood, trees that have already fallen, and stands that are to be cleared for agricultural use.

Final Notes
There is nothing more magical than making music, so choose your next guitar wisely and play a tune the environment will appreciate as much as your listeners do.

David Arnold is a life-long musician and worked as a freelance musician and educator for 13 years.  As a freelance writer for David has been awakened to the importance of living sustainably in all facets of life.

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What do Tiny Houses and Guitars Have In Common?

tiny-houseCan you imagine living in a tiny house of 300 square feet built on a trailer? If you had asked me that question a year ago I would have said, “That’s crazy!” Yet there is a growing trend of people that think it is a great idea, and I am one of them. It was from Andrew Odom at Tiny r(E)volution that I heard of tiny house design

His vision is based on the fact that the American dream has evolved to the endless pursuit of accumulating “stuff” and the sacrifices we make to acquire things we don’t really need. Letting go of the need to acquire is at the foundation of the tiny trends, and is why Andrew built a 248 square foot home for his family.

So many guitars, so little time.

I used to sell guitars and I had customers with collections of some very beautiful guitars.  Every so often I would ask, “How do you like that new guitar?” One of the more common responses was, “Man, I have been working so much I haven’t had time to play any of them!” While I don’t have a collection of guitars, I do have more than I really need.  It isn’t just guitars that we musicians collect, it’s all of the stuff that goes along with them.


You are probably still wondering what tiny houses and guitars have in common?  So here it is: The guitar represents the problem and tiny houses are the solution.


In order to live tiny you need to start small.

Once in a while I take a mental inventory of what material goods I own and what is really necessary. The underlying principle of the tiny revolution resonates with me deeply and I have often wondered, “If I could only take what would fit in my car, what would I take?” It is amazing to think about how most of our possessions are not necessary.

I am not saying that we should all sell our homes with everything in them and build a tiny house; just that we should take a look at the little things in our lives that we can change. So the next time you are at the store ask yourself, “How is owning this product going to impact me, my family, and the environment?” “Is there any way I can make something I already own fulfill the need?” If you are looking to buy something you will only once you might be able to rent or borrow it.

Hopefully I have inspired you to live your life with a little bit more tiny.  Every little bit helps to make the world a better place.


David Arnold writes for where he explores creative ideas and projects related to reflective foil insulation. He works to test the theories and consider the various applications for this innovative green building material.

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Upcycling Lessons From The Farm


Photo courtesy of

If anybody knows the importance of sustainable living it is farmers; their livelihood depends on preserving our natural resources. There is a lot we can learn from the generations that came before us, many of them lived through the depression when even the smallest resource was priceless. To farmers “green living”, “upcycling”, and “recycling” are all a part of everyday life. Living on the farm has taught me many things about being resourceful and eliminating waste in daily activities.

The potential for upcycling on the farm are endless. Here are a few examples of some ideas around the farmhouse:
Plastic Storage Containers – When you are a done with a tub of butter wash it and re-use it again. You can use it for a wide variety of tasks such as: food storage, crafts, storage for anything that would ordinarily get lost. Ziploc bags are perfect for transporting toilet supplies while traveling, storing comic books, organizing plastic fishing lures, first aid kits, and more.
Old Clothes – One of my favorite ideas came from my grandmother, who uses her old dresses to make quilting squares. Not only is it practical, but the quilt will sentimental value as a heirloom to passed down for generations. Old t-shirts and socks can be used as cleaning rags
Aluminum Foil – Aluminum foil used to cover food can be used several times before it is no longer useful. Disposable aluminum pans can also be reused and work especially well on the grill.

Even more potential for recycling exists in the barn, around the shop, and in the field.
Buckets – Buckets from paint to powdered milk, and anything else can be upcycled for a wide range of chores around the farm such as: feed and water for animals, recycling old motor oil, composting food, and many more.
Coffee Cans (plastic and metal) – These make handy scoops for feed or water, holding screws, nuts bolts, etc…
Reclaimed lumber – There are a lot of old buildings on farms and when they are no longer in need much of the lumber can be recycled on new projects. There is also a lot of lumber left over from outdated farming practices which can be used for new projects.
Old gates and confinement crates – These can be reused as temporary corrals or to fill washouts underneath fences.
Barbed Wire Fences – Why use new ones? When you tear out an old fence you can reuse those metal “T” posts for many more years. If the barbed wire is not rusted through it can be rolled up and installed in a new location. The clips that hold the fence to the post can also be reused. Brace wires can be cut into shorter chunks and used to wire gates closed.
Miscellaneous Iron – Old pipes and automobile axels make excellent fence post braces. The possibilities are endless!
Leftover Building Materials – New building projects are a great source for various materials, as there is usually leftover material. Scraps of wood can be used for propping up implement jacks. Reflective insulation can be used to line dog houses, wrap water buckets, or anything else you want to keep cool.

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What Really Happens To Your Recycling When You Leave It Out For Collection – Does It Really Do Any Good?

When it comes to being eco-friendly and going green, recycling is one of the most fundamental and aspects with the most participation. While it takes someone quite dedicated to the cause to change their purchasing habits or to install solar panels on their roof, recycling is something that all of us can take part in and that everyone understands. But the question is, does it really benefit the environment as much as we think it does? Or is it just a money making scam that we’ve all fallen for? Do you really know where all those materials you dispose of go? Here we will look at what actually happens to the things you leave out for the recycling, and just how good it really is for the environment…

Where Does it Go?

Recycling Bins - Fairfield, Iowa

When you leave your recycling outside and wake up in the morning to find it gone, it hasn’t been taken away by fairies (though that would be convenient and rather entertaining). Instead it gets taken away in a separate compartment of the rubbish truck and is then dropped off at a Materials Recovery Facility (or MRF) to be sorted, melted down, and ultimately sold back to manufacturers so that they can sell use those materials instead of having to produce their own from scratch or drill for more oil/fell lots of trees.

What’s the Benefit?

So what is the benefit of sending those materials off to manufacturers rather than keeping them here for us to use? Well first of all it means of course that a lot less energy and far fewer natural resources get wasted in the creation of new plastics. This is a significant figure too – in the UK where there are a lot more kerbside programs recycling accounts for roughly a 10% decrease in emissions and this in turn is roughly the equivalent of taking 3.5 million cars off the road.

There’s another bonus too of course, and that’s that those materials don’t get dumped in landfill sites. This is good news because landfill sites take up a lot of valuable space, and also release a lot of noxious gasses include methane and CO2.

But the local wildlife aren’t the only ones to benefit – of course the manufacturing companies benefit from getting cheap materials with a great marketing hook (recyclable materials are great for sales and PR), while the local council and government makes a lot of money from selling off the products you paid for. Don’t get too wrapped up in that aspect though (pun intended) – as you benefit too when the council makes more money and the materials going to the private sector will also aid the economy.

Sorting the Materials

Recycling 7

One of the problems with all this though is the sorting process. More and more companies are now using ‘single stream’ collection systems, which means that they collect all your recyclables in a single go and that someone then needs to sort through these. Fortunately this is mostly handled by machines from companies such as TiTech, and these are highly efficient when it comes to separating plastic from glass from wood. However they do also have their shortcomings, and one of the big issues here is distinguishing between different types of plastic. There are many different kinds of plastics and these all need to be processed in different ways, and this makes life very difficult. A few years back, only 6% of plastics were recovered and this number hasn’t improved much.

Worse, only certain types of plastics are recovered, with the majority of that 6% being PET and HDPE. PET can be used in manufacturing food packaging, but often it ends up being ‘down cycled’ to be used in plastic lumber and carpeting, and this then regularly ends up in landfills after it has been used. If you think about high quality plastics used in gadgets and even toys – most of these never get recycled. When was the last time you put your phone case in the recycling bin?

Supply and Demand

Another problem can often be finding buyers for these materials. In Europe and Japan a law exists that obligates technology manufacturers to recycle, but a lack of a similar law in the US means that we often need to look elsewhere for buyers.

As such then, some of that plastic that does get recycled and retain its quality often ends up being shipped to China where there is a great demand for it. While this isn’t a problem in itself, some parts of China lack the same regulations in place in the US meaning that there’s no guarantee the materials won’t again end up being dumped after all. You can read more about it here: In the UK meanwhile there is an over-abundance of green glass and the local wine industry is too small to use it all up.


In conclusion then, recycling is very much a worthy cause and you should get behind it 100%. That said there are areas that could still use improvement – more products should be manufactured with recycling in mind, while better systems could be put in place to ensure we make the most of those materials.

Images via: 1 2 3

Amy Sawyer is a freelance writer working for Skip and Bin in the UK. She is a happy go lucky person and believes in living life to the fullest. She is a nature lover and in today’s post she has mentioned the importance of recycling. She is a big fan of her company’s initiative Skip and Bin hire which deals with hiring people for its recycling campaigns.

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5 Solar Power Myths Busted!

Anytime something new earns more than a foothold in a lucrative area of business, some kickback occurs. As solar power panels started appearing on homes and businesses around the world, the kickback against solar power showed up in the form of myths. Homeowners and business owners have a right to the truth so this article will debunk a few myths about solar power.

solar-powered-homeMyth 1 – Solar Power is Too New to Warrant Investment by Homeowners

The first experiments on solar power took place in Europe before the American Declaration of Independence. Seventy years later a French scientist confirmed and publically demonstrated a photovoltaic reaction caused by exposure to the sun. In the first quarter of the twentieth century Einstein wrote the first scientific paper that explained the photovoltaic effect. By the end of WWII solar power equipment, ideas and experimentation took off in the United States with demand for anything solar growing exponentially. Solar power is anything but new, it has been researched extensively for the last one hundred years and basic solar science is older than commercial hydrocarbon exploration.

Myth 2 – Solar Power Does Not Work at Night

It is correct to say that solar power will not generate useable power during hours the sun has set. This myth fails to account for the fact that many solar power installations produce more power during the day than is needed. That power can be fed back into the local power grid or stored in batteries. Those batteries can be used at night and energy that was fed into the grid subsidizes other forms of electrical energy during the day.

Myth 3 – Solar Panels Add to Global Warming

Almost every item we use in our lives has a carbon footprint, especially during manufacture and transport to markets. During the life of those products most require maintenance with continuing negative impact on the environment. With solar power the carbon footprint ends at the point of installation. During the lifetime of a solar power installation, now defined as the warranty period of the installation, there is zero negative impact on the environment of the earth. No other current source of power, green or not, can make that statement.

Myth 4 – Solar Power Installations Are Inefficient Except at Noon

Properly placed and installed, solar power installations are highly effective, even on cloudy days. Recent discoveries at major American universities have resulted in small, leaf sized solar power panels that can face in any position, relative to the sun, and still generate power efficiently. This discovery was based on research into how trees, which also depend on energy from the sun, are able to survive with leaves that face in many different directions.

Myth 5 – Solar Power is Unreliable

According the U.S. Department of Energy, solar power is the most reliable source of power currently available. In surveys taken by DOE, fully 94 percent of home and business owners rated their solar power installations, regardless of how that power was utilized, as highly efficient. In the Middle east, solar power is desalinating sea water because the efficiency levels are unmatched by any other source of power.

This information should help dispel some of the knee jerk, kickback reactions to the popularity of solar energy. As research continues and new applications are found the ubiquitous nature of solar energy will continue to increase even more.

These myths have been busted by the team at Infinite Energy, Perth’s fastest growing solar power company. Check out their brand new showroom at 49 Labouchere Road, South Perth, WA, 6151, give them a call on 1300 074 669 or check out their Google+ page today.

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Insulation. Hazardous to Your Health?

Is Your Insulation Hazardous to Your Health?

insulationFor all of you do-it-yourselfers out there who are planning project that requires insulation, you might want to think carefully about your options. When I finished my basement last year I just went to my local home improvement store and bought the traditional fiberglass batts. Unfortunately I wasn’t aware of the danger I created for myself and my family.

I am not alone; fiberglass insulation comprises nearly 90% of the U.S. market for home insulation.

Fiberglass began as an accident as inventor Dale Kleist was trying to create a seal between two glass blocks when he discovered the heated glass formed tiny fibers. These tiny fibers are combined with resins to create what we now call fiberglass. Fiberglass is used in many products, one if which is insulation.

Fiberglass insulation poses many health risks. Imagine what happens when a window is broken: the glass is extremely sharp and is very dangerous. Fiberglass insulation has the same effect on our skin, lungs, and eyes. The area exposed to fiberglass will become itchy and irritated. If these small particles of glass become lodged deep in the lungs serious respiratory conditions may result.

OSHA even requires fiberglass insulation to be packaged with a label citing it as a possible carcinogen. Several government agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency recognize the carcinogenic potential of fiberglass insulation.

Those most at risk are those who are installing or working near the fiberglass insulation. There are risks to those who inhabit the home as well. Many homes with forced air heating systems have leaks. Leaky ducts can suck in fiberglass particles and spread them around the house. The resins used to bond the fiberglass can also emit small amounts of toxic fumes.

Not only is fiberglass insulation harmful to us, it is also bad for the environment. Production of fiberglass insulation involves melting materials in a furnace, which uses up precious fossil fuels. Fiberglass also uses a rare mineral: boron. There are two main deposits of boron in the world, one of which is in the U.S. The number one use for baron is fiberglass insulation. At the current rate of extraction the U.S. deposit will not last more than 60 years.

Fiberglass is only good as long as it stays dry. Installing fiberglass insulation in basements is bad because of this, yet it is still a common practice in the building industry. Moisture that migrates through the concrete from the exterior, or moisture that condenses from the interior, will cause the fiberglass to deteriorate and loose its effectiveness. It will even promote the growth of mold and other fungi.

Don’t make the same mistake I did, and jump blindly onto the fiberglass bandwagon. There are alternatives to fiberglass that I wish I had known about before I started my remodeling project. Here are some options:

Cellulous insulation

is largely made from post consumer recycled newspaper, up to 80%. Cellulous is installed in two different methods: 1. Dry. 2. Moisture added. The dry method is simple enough to be done on your own using a blowing machine, which can be rented at most home improvement stores. The moisture added method requires training and special equipment, so it is best to hire a professional if this is the route you choose.

Reflective insulation

is different than other types of insulation because it acts as a reflective barrier to direct heat back into the home. It is easy to install and doesn’t require any special tools, has no health hazards, and is extremely versatile. It’s resistance to moisture makes it perfect for applications where moisture would damage other types of insulation and can also serve as a vapor barrier.

Rigid foam

is another safe and easy way to insulate your home. As with bubble foil, there are no special tools needed to install rigid foam insulation. Rigid foam can be installed on the exterior of the home as well as on the interior, which makes it excellent for basement applications. Rigid foam has a high R value for it’s thickness in comparison to the other methods of insulation.

Trends in construction are rapidly changing and it is time to take advantage of these alternative methods of insulating your home or business in a way that is safe for our families and the environment.

Image via Jinjasi

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Unusual, Sustainable Roofing Materials for the Modern, Eco-Conscious Home

Green Roof

Materials used to maintain homes are becoming increasingly unique with the rise in popularity of sustainable home improvement. Recycled roofing materials are the most unusual yet practical components used to build or update eco-friendly homes. No matter the climate there are sustainable, recycled roofing materials that can be installed to meet household needs.

Unusual Recycled Roofing Materials For the Modern Home

Milk Jugs
High-quality roofing materials can be made from recycled plastic jugs and bottles in place of wood or metal shingles. The plastic shingles are resistant to moisture, chemicals, and harmful bacteria; and can be formed into any shape a homeowner desires. Though it may seem an unusual choice, milk jug roof shingles reduce the need for new materials to be created while reducing plastic waste.

Recycled Tires
For homeowners seeking a roofing material that is sustainable and efficient, shingles made from recycled tires are ideal. These lightweight shingles can withstand harsh winds and better insulate a home. They also possess a Class A fire rating, which makes them perfect for a family home. Aesthetically, recycled tire shingles may seem unusual, but they look like the typical shingles used to roof every other house on the block.

Reclaimed Wood
Rustic-modern homeowners will love this unusual roofing material. Reclaimed wood shingles provide an earthy, grounded appearance to a home. Instead of using reclaimed wood for other housing projects, have it turned into wooden shingles or shakes to upgrade the roof.

Recycled Carpeting
One of the biggest complaints about roofing materials is how heavy they are! Shingles made from recycled carpeting are extremely lightweight and carry the good looks of wood shingles as an additional benefit.

Scrap Metal
Instead of sending scrap aluminum and steel to the junkyard, consider creating metal shingles. These shingles are very durable and will last much longer than the average shingle. Metal roofing materials can be recycled again and again, making them one of the most sustainable, unusual options.

The Most Unusual, Sustainable Roofing Material

Green Roofs
Yes, the above roofing materials are definitely off the beaten path, but the title of ultimate unusual, sustainable roof style goes to the living roof. Living roofs have a layer of vegetation on top of layers consisting of: growing medium, filters, drainage layers, waterproof layers, support, insulation, vapor control, and a layer of structural support. Green living roofs are growing in popularity all around the world, with many contractors specializing in this particular technique. They reduce cooling and heating costs while creating a habitat for wildlife, and in some cases a sustainable garden.

Unusual roofing materials can be quite eccentric, but some are more practical than the materials used in the past.

image via pnwra

Peter Wendt is a writer and researcher living in Austin, Texas. He recommends that readers who wish to know more about finding and hiring Certified Green Roofers check out

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Are You Ready To Convert Your Home To An Energy-Efficient Power House?

Many photovoltaic Solar PV customers are keen on solar powering their homes because they appreciate that solar power can positively impact the environment and offer them many benefits.

Solar photovoltaic (PV) systems are not for the most part difficult to understand. Solar panels, being the main component, gather the sunlight and convert it into electricity. The direct current (DC) generated by the panel is channelled into an electrical device called an inverter, where the DC is converted into alternating current (AC) which can be used in the home.

It is the general consensus among solar firms that simplicity pays. Generally most customers will prefer uncomplicated systems installed on their roofs, since this usually brings the best return on investment, with low outlay costs. On the other hand, as you become more sophisticated with these types of system, costs quickly rise and unscheduled maintenance of the system can eat into the profits you would otherwise amass. A customer then is advised to utilise demonstrated, field-tested equipment that is designed to meet the needs of a specific situation so as to acquire the best return on investment.

Some interesting benefits of solar electricity
A residential PV system will allow a property holder to generate a considerable amount of his or her entire yearly electrical energy requirement. To do this a Grid-tied system is used where the home is coupled permanently to the Grid, permitting any required power needs above that which the solar system can generate whilst also being able to feed back into the Grid at times when energy is not being used by the householder. Using this type of system batteries are not necessary to store the power generated, saving money in initial system costs. Dwellings having a Grid-tied solar-electric system will have AC electricity simultaneously coming from and going to the Grid. To do this the system uses a bi-directional electricity meter which monitors how much electricity runs in each direction. This is an uncomplicated system which does not create noise, has no emissions and hasn’t any moving parts.

Apart from having to depend less on non-renewable energy systems, solar power also offers proprietors reliable, static, energy costs which in turn can eliminate the concern for unavoidable electricity rate increases.

The electricity obtained from solar power is now conveniently used for illumination and to power home appliances across the UK. And these days thousands of homes and businesses are powered by these PV systems.

As a footnote, it’s appealing to know that direct sunlight is not necessary for solar panels to produce energy – some energy can even be generated on a cloudy day.

Arthur Day is an author who has written numerous articles on solar PV matters, providing a useful insight into how to save energy.

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3 Reasons Solar Cooking Is Good For You and the Environment

The following is a guest post from Blair Nastasi. Thanks for sharing your eco-friendly cooking ideas!

Solar cooking is an eco-friendly alternative to conventional methods of preparing food. Conventional cooking methods use up valuable natural resources and deplete foods of their nutritional value while cooking with the sun’s energy is a more ecological way to eat. Solar cookers can also be used in basically any situation you find yourself. Consider these benefits of solar cooking and learn more about this simple technology.

1) It’s a free energy source. To use a solar cooker, all you have to do is open your door. Solar cookers use the sun’s energy to heat a solar appliance which is used to cook food or boil water. For example, the hot water kettle from Sun Cooking ( allows you to harness sunlight to boil water for tea, coffee or to pasteurize the water for drinking.

You don’t have to pay for electricity or gas every time you want to cook – you just rely on the abundance of sunshine to prepare your meals. Plus, your carbon footprint will be lessened since you’re not using natural resources like natural gas and coal to cook. And every little bit you can do to help save the Earth’s natural resources will have an impact!

2. It can result in healthier cooking. Solar cooking doesn’t use smoke that can contain carcinogens or microwaves that expose your food to potentially dangerous radio waves. When you cook over a campfire, the smoke can irritate your eyes and respiratory system, and open fires present dangers to children.

Plus, when you cook in a solar appliance, the nutrients stay in the food and don’t leach out. That’s because you don’t use water in solar cooking. And, the temperatures in a solar oven are moderate – around 325 F – so nutrients aren’t destroyed during cooking at a high temperature like on a grill or over an open flame.

3. Solar cookers are useful during times of disaster or power outages. A solar cooker can be used at any time of the year, any place in the world. They’re great for family camping trips since they’re lightweight and easy to transport. But solar cookers are also smart to have on hand during disasters. For example, if you experience a power outage due to an ice storm in January, your solar cooker will allow you prepare food until the power is restored. Or, if a severe thunderstorm knocks out power in May, you’ll be ready to cook nutritious meals for your family as well. Solar cookers are small and easy to store so you’ll always have a solar cooker on hand if an emergency arises.

There are many benefits to solar cooking. Not only is it an environmentally friendly way to prepare food, but it produces healthier, more nutritious meals for your family. And, solar cooking appliances can certainly come in handy during times of disaster as well. Learn more today about this easy cooking method and get recipes for your solar cooker at

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Basement Concrete Wall Insulation

When building a new home it is important to take every step to make sure it is as energy efficient as possible. A significant amount, as much as 33%, of the home’s energy is lost through an unfinished basement and it would be hard to consider such a home as being energy efficient. An insulated and finished basement greatly increases the functional space and value of the home, and there are many reasons why basement walls insulation is so important. There are three basic ways of insulating the basement of a home: 1. Exterior. 2. Interior. 3. Middle.

Exterior insulation is not common due to the high cost and difficulty of protecting the insulation from damage. Because of its low cost the most common method of basement insulation is the interior method, which will be discussed in this article.

The most traditional method of insulating a basement is through the use of fiberglass batts. In this method, the walls are constructed and the voids between the studs are filled with fiberglass insulation, covered with a vapor barrier, and finally finished with drywall. This method of insulation has one very serious problem: Moisture. As the concrete cures it releases a great deal of moisture. The fiberglass insulation soaks up this moisture, which is trapped by the vapor barrier. As the fiberglass begins to saturate it quickly looses its effectiveness. Mold will begin to grow in the fiberglass as well as on the surrounding surfaces, causing the studs and even floor joists to rot. Also, any moisture that enters the foundation from the outside will contribute to the problem. This is why the basement wall insulation you choose must also be an approved concrete vapor barrier.

A better option is to install a layer of extruded polystyrene (XPS) directly to the concrete wall. 2” of XPS would meet the R-10 requirement of Climate Zone 4. The next step is to build the perimeter walls directly interior of the XPS layer. This provides a convenient place to route electrical wiring and plumbing, as well as facilitate the hanging of drywall. While not necessary, it is common to fill the voids between studs with fiberglass insulation, but again, the drawback to this method is that excessive humidity in the summer months may be a problem due to the intolerance to moisture that fiberglass possesses by nature. If the humidity is not controlled mold, fungi, and odors may develop.

A solution to these problems mentioned above would be to use Ecofoil’s bubble foil insulation. EcoFoil bubble insulation products are approved Class 1 Vapor Barriers with a perm rating of < 0.02, making them resistant to the effects of moisture. EcoFoil’s reflective bubble insulation is safe and easy to install with a utility knife and staple gun, unlike fiberglass which contains harmful fibers and is difficult to handle. If foil bubble insulation is used with rigid foam board, the gap created between the XPS and the drywall creates the airspace you need which allows for the reflection of up to 97% of radiant heat. However, EcoFoil’s double foil bubble insulation has an R value of 8.5, which may be sufficient to use as standalone insulation by itself in warmer climate zones. In this case, you would need to create recesses within the stud cavities during installation as shown in this document (PDF): How to install reflective insulation in basement walls.

In conclusion, it is important to look at all levels of a home when trying to maximize its energy efficiency. The days of cold, dark, and damp basements are in the past; today’s homes utilize every square inch of space, including the basement. Protect your investment and your family by choosing a method of insulation that is long-lasting, safe, and environmentally sound. The best insulation for basement walls can be found at

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