Published on August 26th, 2013 | by Rhonda Winter1
Safe and Sustainable: Insulating Your Home with Wool
My spouse and I are in the process of renovating an old 1970 Airstream; presently we have the trailer entirely gutted, and are about to begin re-insulating it all with loose sheep wool fibers. Wool is a superb natural insulating material, as it not only keeps you warm and cozy, but also resists mold, readily absorbs moisture, and dries out easily, which helps prevent condensation.
For our project we had also considered utilizing renewable hemp insulation, but even though the product is widely available in Europe, we found it incredibly difficult to find in the United States. Wool seemed like the most sustainable, renewable and locally available choice.
We bought our wool insulation directly from Oregon Shepherd, an independent company started by small livestock farmers. The wool insulation came loose, so it could be blown into the walls and floor; this method of manufacturing also makes the product more affordable than processing insulation batts. The insulation was clean, soft and fluffy, and felt wonderful to touch — pretty much the opposite of what you experience handling fiberglass insulation.
Normally the wool insulation would be highly compressed if it were to be shipped, but we drove to the river front town of Rainier, Oregon to pick up the product directly.
Here are some useful facts from Oregon Shepherd highlighting the many benefits of wool insulation:
• The energy required to produce our insulation is less than 10% of that required to produce traditional insulation materials.
• Wool can absorb and breakdown indoor air pollutants such as formaldehyde, nitrogen dioxide, and sulfur dioxide.
• Wool is a sustainable and renewable resource; every year our sheep grow a new crop.
• Wool is completely recyclable; at the end of its life as insulation it can be re-manufactured, reused, or biodegraded.
• Wool is an excellent absorption medium of sound waves; its inherent qualities provide much more acoustic insulation than traditional insulation in similar applications.
• While wool is generally fire resistant, our wool is treated with a 100% natural solution of organic materials that provide unequaled fire and vermin resistance. These materials are bonded chemically to the wool fiber, not merely “glued on” as in most other insulation products.
I will keep you all posted as to the progress of our Airstream renovation, as well as how well the wool works for our needs; so far I have nothing but good things to report. The next time you undertake a building or renovation project, please consider incorporating some natural alternatives, like organic cobb construction, non-toxic Milk Paint, or renewable insulation materials.
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