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18

This is a deceptively simple question. Most of the complications come from your interpretation of sustainable. Let me give you a quick summary and explain why it isn't enough: Fiberglass insulation is the most common these days. It is easy to install. However, it is not healthy to breath, so the installer must wear protection to avoid contact with skin ...


14

This is the classic agency-dilemma,or principal agent problem. THe one who should bear the cost, the landlord, doesn't see any immediate benefit; and any indirect benefit may be, or be believed to be absent. The landlord should bear the cost because, at least in theory, in a well-functioning market, a landlord would be able to earn higher rent on a well-...


11

Short answer: The average R-value of the building shell is the most important thing to consider whenever the outside temperature is going to be very different from the inside temperature. Long answer: In new construction, you can build your walls thick and fill them with insulation, or even use structural insulated panels instead of traditional materials. ...


11

Yes, heavy blankets can be effective insulation over draughty windows; or in open doorways to shut off an unused space: over both, they will hinder heat loss through convection (air currents), and over windows they will add a bit of a conduction barrier too. Castles used to hang tapestries over all the walls, partly to keep some heat it. Ideally, they ...


10

Strawbale is one of the most sustainable methods. A bale wall runs somewhere between R20 and R40 depending on whose lies you believe. (Building With Bales) Straw is a byproduct of grain production. (Wheat, oats, barley, rice,...) and bales can often be had for little more than the price of running a baler and buying the string. Typical costs when I have ...


10

Your question is very broad and can't be easily answered. There are few existing products, so the answer is also somewhat speculative. Aerogels are a form of material, like foam or dust. It's very likely that a suitable house insulation could be made with an aerogel, almost regardless of the detailed requirements that you have in mind (barring contradictory ...


9

Aerogels show some promise for use in buildings conductivity is around 0.013 W/mK for commercially available aerogels compared to around 0.04 W/mK for glassfibre quilt and 0.025 W/mK for eps/styrofoam type insulation Toxicity would probably not be an issue due to the generally unreactive nature of silica aerogels The most likely health issue seems to be ...


9

If you really want to do it yourself: Shred them. Fireproof them. Insulate. It is extremely important to treat newsprint with fire-retardants before using them as insulation. Without treatment, newsprint stuffed into wall cavities or attics is a serious fire hazard. A better option is to simply purchase cellulose insulation. It's made from recycled ...


8

Is it one of the best natural insulators? Well, that would depend on your definition of best. But it's certainly an effective insulator, and one with a commercial market. It does have the advantage of being much more comfortable to work with than glass fibre. I know of one installer who describes its comfort as a disadvantage too, because it's far too ...


7

At present the plastic waste stream can be diverted into multi-color goo mixed with wood chips and be extruded into synthetic fence posts. Ugly as sin, but better than nothing, and I think that for sheet goods (bags) this is pretty good. Your idea would work well for styrofoam. You would work it like this: Styrofoam is separated from the waste stream by ...


7

Here's the basis of the calculation you need for losses through conduction: heat loss rate = surface area x U-value of separater material x temperature difference. There will also be losses from convection. So, to compare the conduction losses through your external walls, to losses through your internal walls, do the calculation for each. I expect that ...


6

Insulation can contribute to the sustainability of a home both by being sustainably-sourced and by reducing heating and cooling requirements. The longer the insulation lasts, the greater its contribution to your home's sustainability. It is also important to select insulation that can be installed easily, without tearing out walls and producing unnecessary ...


6

Insulation doesn't care about directions, so whatever keeps a house warm in a cold climate will help keep it cool in a hot climate. Vapor barriers are different--my understanding is that the vapor barrier should go on the side of the wall that sees the most humidity. But insulation simply slows down heat transfer in all directions, so as long as you have a ...


6

It's definitely possible to recycle plastic and create LEGO-like building blocks. In fact several houses have already been built this way! In 2010 a Colombian architect called Oscar Mendez had the same idea as you. He started an initiative called Conceptos Plasticos (website in Spanish) with the goal to reduce both waste and extreme poverty by providing ...


5

First, draught-proofing Close the gaps around windows, doors, between floorboards, gaps where pipes go into walls and floors. It's a cheap and relatively easy way to stop a lot of heat escaping, and to cut down on the convection currents that will take a lot of heat from the bottom to the top of the house. Curtains around the stairwell? Can you put a ...


5

The scientific approach would be to turn on all the heating and use heat cameras to see where most heat is escaping. Otherwise just guess it is the roof. I would start with the roof/top floor, then do the ground floor. Then the middle floors last. If you do find that heating living areas makes the top floors unbearably hot, consider moving your living area ...


5

There isn't likely to be a way to require him to do anything. You'll have to try tact. Maybe offer to do the work yourself, if he buys the materials. He'll be glad to have his property improved, as long as he trusts you with the work.


5

Some people who are building straw-bale houses here in Denmark uses mussel shells (http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/4/45/CornishMussels.JPG/1280px-CornishMussels.JPG) for insulation between the ground and the floor.


5

This article describes the difference: EPS is formed as beads (as used in cushions) then heated and pressed together XPS is formed as a sheet or whatever final shape is desired. So EPS will break up more easily and be less waterproof, which makes it likely to degrade faster and be less effective as insulation. XPS will be stronger and better insulating. ...


4

It depends on the exact climate. There are many hot climates... In some cases reflective insulation is a good option. But thermal insulation may also be important. Anyway, home sustainability in hot climates depends largely on shade, natural ventilation and home design. See the shade issue, for instance: you need to shade your windows, roof and walls, and ...


4

I'm not an expert in this area, but: I think this depends a little on the layout of the house. Certainly insulating the top first will improve the overall efficiency much sooner than starting at the bottom, but as you identify it does mean increasing the temperature difference between floors, which might not be desirable. If you have an open staircase ...


3

Available products Aerogels in composites are typically two to four times more thermally insulating than the next-best alternative. And since the recent expiry of some aerogel patents, the number of suppliers of these products has started to increase. The Space Loft and Thermal Wrap products at the site linked in the question are indeed aimed at the ...


3

Per the clarifying comment below the question, I think it's also important to note a non-insulation solution to the same problem. In a climate that's hot, keeping sunshine out of your home helps immensely in reducing the need for cooling. Remember that a building with windows represents the original greenhouse effect (letting in visible light, but not ...


3

I recommend that you research hemp, being both insulating and moisture-absorbing, as well as non-irritating, and sustainable on all different accounts. Here is some info from buydutchseeds.com: "One of the very common uses of industrial hemp is for insulation in buildings…Hemp insulates better than many other materials, such as cotton. It is a ...


3

California is very proactive about requiring warning labels on chemicals that are possibly a problem for human health. Depending on your own judgement of the information below, I think you could just keep the tape you have. Phthalates are in many, many, products, including food and cosmetics. They are mixed into plastics to make them more flexible, they're ...


3

When you've got very little space to work with, as is often the case when insulating floors, it can be worth looking at more expensive insulation that has a higher insulation value. Yes, reducing conductive gains needs the same material as reducing conductive losses: you're looking for a higher themral resistance, i.e. a lower thermal conductivity, in each ...


3

No. The letter rankings cannot be compared between nations in the EU, as each nation has a different number of grades (or no grades at all). From "A comparative analysis of the energy performance certificates schemes within the European Union: Implementing options and policy recommendations": This is because each nation has its own method (within EU ...


2

I believe wool is one of the best insulation materials available. It does not affect your indoor air quality, it is available in batts and can be installed as easily as fiberglass insulation (without compromising the health of the installer!). Wool will not settle like cellulose, it will continue to insulate even if it gets damp, and it has a natural ...


2

I think EnergyNumbers' answer is pretty comprehensive! Basically, do 'low hanging fruit first' - i.e. the things that have a quick result such as draught proofing (sealing around gaps/cracks/skirtings/windows etc); install heavy curtains and if you can loft insulation, which you should be able to do yourself fairly easily and cheaply. Then you can start with ...


2

I would answer this as a comment, but comments don't accept multiple paragraphs. On the face of it this is a bad idea. Better to pull air OUT of the house, and let it sneak in where it can. Scenario 1. The building vapour barrier is perfect. Air put into the house can only escape through faulty weatherstripping at doors and windows. Net result. Too ...


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