Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

How Icynene Works

A World of Insulation

Cost of insulation can vary greatly: insulating an attic can run $.50 to $2.25 per square foot ($5.38 to $24.22 per square meter) [source: Costhelper]. The average cost to insulate an entire home is $2,500 to $5,500. You're not going to be able to make an informed decision about home insulation without considering the variables you bring to the table, such as the type of structure, materials used, area to be insulated, personal budget, individual concerns (e. g., environmental issues, allergies) and availability. Once you understand your parameters, you can personalize the choice. There are plenty of common insulation options available besides Icynene.

Cellulose particles, made primarily of recycled paper products and flame-retardants, can be blown into cavities. This insulation is often added to an existing structure as it fills in small and irregular spaces easily. It can settle over time and lose as much as one-fifth its initial R-value (3.13 to 3.7) [source:].

Closed-cell polyurethane foam is a petroleum product, sprayed to fill in spaces. Hydrofluorocarbons may be used when readying the foam. It plugs spaces easily, insulating as well as creating a tight envelope. R-value is 6.25 [source:], though this may decrease slightly within the first few years of installation.

Cotton batting, with an R-value of 3.0 to 3.7 [source: U. S. Department of Energy], is considered a greener form of insulation because it's a renewable resource, but petroleum products are still used to grow and transport cotton.

Fiberglass batting (R-value 3.14 to 4.3) comes in rolls that can be laid out by professionals or homeowners to fill empty spaces [source:]. It can be difficult to place the batting around irregular spaces or obstructions. Escaped fibers can cause short-term respiratory or skin irritation [source: Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry]. Fiberglass can also come in loose-fill form that is blown-in by professionals. It contains recycled glass and has an R-value of 2.2 to 4.3 [source:]. It can settle slightly over time.

Mineral wool, a general term for rock wool and slag wool, is a manufactured loose-fill insulation containing approximately 75 percent recycled industrial material [source: U. S. Department of Energy]. Its R-value is 3.1 to 4.0 [source:].

Rigid polyurethane foam boards have an R-value of 5.6 to 7.0 [source: U. S. Department of Energy] and tend to hold up over time. They are primarily used during new construction.

Now you know the nature of Icynene, its advantages and disadvantages, and some of the alternative insulations available. So think through the information and decide what's the best insulation plan for your home -- that, or go put on another wool sweater. Maybe two.

For more information on topics related to heat, insulation and energy efficiency, check out the links on the next page.