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Column: Sound fiberglass insulation offers many benefits
Rudi Kiefer

The new utility shed in the backyard is complete as ordered. The builder has finished his part, and my portion of the project can start now. It’s insulating the whole building. Some people may dispute that it’s necessary. But fiberglass insulation has a multitude of functions. 

Obviously, it cuts down on temperature fluctuations, even in an unheated and not air-conditioned structure. Reorganizing the shelves, or changing the engine oil on the lawn tractor, won’t be a 110-degree ordeal. One can also store a few cans of latex paint in there without worrying every time the thermometer drops below freezing. 

Across the yard, in the home, I noticed after insulating it heavily is that there’s no longer that “hot head - cold feet” feeling we had before. Insulation keeps temperatures distributed evenly. Even in a storage building it’s an advantage when things near the floor don’t collect moisture and rot, while higher-up items get cooked under the hot roof.

Fiberglass batts in the walls and ceiling also provide sound insulation. Traffic noise, the neighbor’s old air conditioning system and other background sounds are reduced. Outside, the building presents a barrier to noise drifting over from next door.

In any wood construction, small gaps provide access for insects. But most of them don’t like glass fibers. Insulation provides a barrier against bugs that would get in and attract spiders intent on eating them, leaving a nasty mess of cobwebs and spider droppings behind. 

In the main house, one can increase living quality by adding insulation. Many homes have only the minimum that was required at construction time. That could be just R30 in the ceiling, and much less under the floor. The R-value is the factor by which the material slows the transfer of heat.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy (energy.gov) map, attic insulation in North Georgia should be R38 to R60. For living spaces, the focus is on heating and cooling efficiency as well as comfort level. Insulation batts are easy to install, requiring only large scissors and a face mask to avoid breathing irritant glass dust. The new utility shed is getting only a moderate layer. In the home, though, wherever there was enough space without blocking attic ventilation, I combined multiple layers which added up to an R64 value. They have made a remarkable difference in indoor climate.

Rudi Kiefer, Ph.D., is a professor at Brenau University, teaching physical and health sciences on Brenau’s Georgia campuses and in China. His column appears Sundays and at gainesvilletimes.com.

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