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Frequently Asked Questions About Building Insulation

What Tax Credits are available to homeowners for installing or upgrading insulation?

The tax law is constantly changing so for the latest information visit www.energystar.gov or www.irs.gov.

Are there incentives available from local utility companies?


Local utility companies, especially ones generating the power from coal-fired plants, are being encouraged by various federal and state initiatives to support consumers and businesses to implement energy saving programs. Check the local utility company websites or local offices to find out what incentives are available in the areas where you operate.

What do I need to do to qualify for these incentives?


Each program provides its own requirements to qualify for incentives. Make sure you understand them before beginning your work to ensure your customers are eligible.

Where can I find information on other Energy Saving opportunities?


A good source for energy saving tips is the Energy Star program website from the US Government at www.energystar.gov.

How much more insulation should I install to give my homes and buildings the most benefit?

Each area of the country has different recommended R-values for insulation. Click on this map to find out the recommended R-values for the regions where you operate and use our insulation calculator to help calculate the potential savings.

How do I calculate the R-value of the current insulation in a home or building?

Every product has a different R-factor so make sure you read the packaging carefully.

As a rule of thumb, if there are six inches or less depth of insulation in the attic, it would be smart to add more insulation. Construction industry professionals specializing in retrofits and remodeling projects would be well served to partner with a professional energy auditor. An energy audit, using blower door tests and infrared cameras, can detect problems and help determine insulation and other inefficiencies.

Keep in mind it is possible to add more insulation in the attic on top of the existing insulation to achieve even more energy savings and comfort. Blown-in cellulose insulation is ideal for this type of application as well as retrofitting insulation in existing walls.

Do I have to take out the insulation that is already there?

Not necessarily as adding more insulation has a cumulative impact on the overall R-value. In the attic, if the insulation is old or not securely in place in the case of batt products, it might make sense to remove it and fill in with fresh blown-in Cellulose insulation. You can also just blow in new insulation on top of the existing insulation and improve the overall quality and R-value.

In walls, it is possible for contractors to install the new cellulose insulation in a manner that compresses existing insulation in the wall cavity and completely seal the wall cavity.

How do I find qualified cellulose insulation contractors?

The CIMA Producer Members can refer insulation contractors and professional installers familiar with using cellulose. Use the directory here on the website to find producer members serving your state and contact them for a list of companies in your service areas.

You can also check your local Yellow Pages, or try a Google search. Your local utility company or natural resources council may have information as well. You can also contact a CIMA Producing Member and ask about installers in your area that use their products. Once you have identified potential contractors, use our guidelines on hiring a contractor here.

How do I become a referred CIMA cellulose insulation contractor/installer?

The CIMA Producer Member companies make referrals of contractors and installers they know are knowledgeable about how to install cellulose insulation. Contact the CIMA producer members that service your state to discuss more about their products and referral opportunities.

Are there special preparations required prior to installing cellulose insulation?

Every type of insulation requires some level of preparation prior to beginning installation. The preparation requirements are most critical for upgrades or retrofits to attics in existing homes. See this article on our Greenest Insulation Blog for more specific information on preparing an attic for a cellulose insulation installation.

Which is the best insulation for the environment?


Cellulose insulation is made from at least 80% post-consumer recycled newspapers and is the highest recycle product in the industry. Not only does this divert waste from landfills but it also takes minimal energy to convert the newspaper to high quality insulation. It is estimated that if all the newspapers currently going to landfills was converted to Cellulose insulation it would save 7,030,000 tons of CO2 equivalents. That’s the same as taking all the cars off the road in New Mexico and Arizona every year. 3

“R for R” Fiberglass uses approximately 10 times more energy than Cellulose insulation to produce and transport while foam products, derived from petroleum, use even more. In addition, neither of these products is recyclable. 4

For more information on the environmental impact of your insulation choice, click here.

* National Auto Dealers Association; Paper Industry Assoc. Council 2006; EPA - “Life Cycle Analysis of a Residential Home in Michigan” S. Blanchard & P. Reppe (Sept. 1998); Canadian Architect Measures of Sustainability.

Do I need a Vapor Barrier with Cellulose Insulation?

CIMA does not recommend using a vapor barrier with Cellulose insulation except in extremely cold climates or if it can be reasonably anticipated there will be constant high interior relative humidity, as in the case of a pool enclosure or conservatory

What is the best insulation to use in a cold climate?


Studies by the Oak Ridge National laboratories show that Cellulose insulation performs better than fiberglass when the difference between the internal and external temperature exceeds 30 degrees. Refer to our chart to see what insulation you should have in your area and consider the overall performance of Cellulose insulation when recommending products.

How much money can customers expect to save installing more insulation?


Use the insulation savings calculator for a general idea on how much savings is possible on utility bills by increasing insulation. Keep in mind the actual savings can vary based on many variables including the type of insulation, effectiveness of installation and other factors.

What does R-value really mean?

R-value is the measure of resistance a material has to heat flow. The higher the R-value, the greater the resistance. As explained in the section “Why Insulate?” resisting heat flow is the primary purpose of insulation which in turn lowers energy costs. See the What R-Value Means page for a more detailed explanation.

What is CIMA’s position on DIY projects for cellulose insulation?


Cellulose insulation is available at most home improvement stores and lumber yards and can be used by consumers for simple attic installations. However, CIMA recommends using a professional insulation contractor experienced with cellulose insulation for all installations to ensure the highest performance and greatest energy savings.

How can my company get more information on specializing in cellulose insulation?

CIMA Producer Member companies work closely with architects, builders and insulation contractors to help them become more knowledgeable about their cellulose insulation products. Many of these manufacturers offer expanded information on their websites and provide training opportunities.

Contact the CIMA Producer members in your region to learn more about how they can assist your company.

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