Sheep Wool Insulation Pros And Cons
As the weather grow cooler, and our energy bills increase, we all know that keeping our homes warm is important. The government knows this too, and has put in place a number of schemes to encourage us to insulate our homes to both stay warm, and save money.
But how do you know which type of insulation to choose, and what are the benefits of using certain types over others?
Sheep’s wool insulation is an eco friendly option that many homeowners are now trying – but is it a good idea, and how does it compare to other options, such as spray foam insulation? It’s time to find out…
How Does Insulation Work?
The main benefits of insulation is the way in which it prevents warm air from escaping your home. It acts as an effective barrier, by adding pockets of air (or even a solid barrier) within the structure of your roof, loft floor or walls.
Some types of insulation have an open structure that allows for plenty of air to be trapped, thus slowing down the movement of warm air. Other types have a solid construction that offers a full barrier, but can reduce airflow.
Most insulation will also prevent warm air from entering your home during the Summer, thus keeping your home cool and comfortable inside.
According to the Energy Saving Trust, it is possible to save as much as £300 per year by adding insulation to your home. So it makes sense to choose the very best insulation you can afford.
At the upper end of the scale in terms of cost are both sheep wool insulation and spray foam, both with their own specific range of benefits and drawbacks.
What Is Sheep’s Wool Insulation?
We all know that sheep can survive long, cold Winters on farms, and even on mountains, due to their fluffy warm fleeces. The wool that is on their backs keeps them dry and warm, no matter how cold it becomes.
For as long as we have been farmers, we have been shearing sheep to use these fleeces for our own clothing. Wool can be spun into yarn that is very strong, warm and soft, and suitable for all kinds of applications from clothing, to furniture coverings and carpets.
Sheeps wool has been used in the past as insulation in our homes. Mongolian nomads use woven sheep’s wool pads to make insulating flooring and wall coverings, while it has been incorporated into dwellings since ancient times to give the home warmth and stability.
Even in our modern homes, wool is used in carpets, curtains and soft furnishings to offer a cosy and warm feel and texture.
These days, a standard sheep’s wool insulating material contains around 5% – 20% polyester to offer extra strength, and to allow it to be made into the insulating shapes, batts and rolls that we need.
However, the overall concept of air being trapped within the fibres still exists. It can be cut to size, and used in the same way as other form of insulation, such as mineral wool – however, it is softer and more environmentally friendly.
Sheep wool is naturally soft and wavy, allowing it to naturally offer air pockets that trap air and prevent it passing through. This natural ability is what keeps sheep warm, and what makes it a great option to use for insulating your home.
Sheeps wool has been used in the past as insulation in our homes. Mongolian nomads use woven sheep’s wool pads to make insulating flooring and wall coverings, while it has been incorporated into dwellings since ancient times to give the home warmth and stability
Sheep Wool Insulation: The Plus Points
Sheep wool insulation is probably the best insulation material as far as the environment goes. It is entirely renewable, as sheep can be sheared at least once a year, and the supply keeps on growing back.
It is recyclable and can even be washed and used for other purposes, and due to its natural makeup, it does not need any industrial processes to prepare it for use. It will also break down naturally when disposed of.
Easy To Install:
This product is very easy to install, and does not contain glass fibres that can be harmful and even dangerous.
It is flexible, and be pushed into corners and cut to size easily. It is also soft to the touch.
Wool is one of the few insulation materials that can absorb and release moisture, but does not lose any of its thermal qualities in the process.
This makes it perfect for wet or damp environments. Mineral wool will lose its insulation qualities if it becomes wet.
Cuts Carbon Footprint:
In the UK, sheep’s wool can be a local product, and is therefore unlikely to have travelled far – giving it a lower carbon footprint.
Quickly Recoup Outlay
The manufacturing costs of wool insulation are lower than mineral wool by around 85%.
This means that even though it is a more expensive product, the payback time in terms of production energy are far better.
Non-Flammable And Long Lasting:
Sheep wool insulation is a non-flammable product, making it great for most homes. However, most types of insulation have this quality.
It also keeps its shape, and does not settle over time, thus losing its insulation properties.
Sheep wool insulation requires treatment (usually with borax) to make it suitable for use in our homes. This works to reduce the amount or insects and fungi growth within the wool
Sheep Wool Insulation: The Pitfalls:
Lower Thermal Efficiency:
The u-value of 270mm of sheep wool insulation is around 0.16, this compares to .0042 of mineral wool.
The lower the u-value, the better insulator it is, as this is a measure of the amount of heat lost from a building – therefore, sheep’s wool does not offer the best thermal qualities overall.
Hazardous Production Process:
Sheep wool insulation requires treatment (usually with borax) to make it suitable for use in our homes. This works to reduce the amount or insects and fungi growth within the wool.
This is a chemical that is not considered to be a health hazard to humans, however it has been seen to cause reproductive issues in laboratory studies on animals. Remember that sheep themselves are dipped regularly in pesticides that will remain in the wool.
Expensive To Install:
Sheep’s wool insulation is a high cost product and comes in at as much £55 per squared metre to get to a depth of 300mm (around the recommended level).
This compares to around £15 for mineral wool insulation and around £40 per square metre for spray foam insulation(although this varies greatly.)
Sheep wool insulation is perfect for anyone who is environmentally conscious, but it makes sense to consider the option of a simple and flexible product that will give a quick and efficient insulation option at a cheaper price
Sheep Wool Insulation: Is There A Better Alternative?
There are pros and cons of all insulation options, but when deciding to insulate your home, you might wish to consider spray foam insulation as an alternative to traditional sheep’s wool.
Spray foam offers a cheaper alternative that is more flexible and offers a better level of insulation that most other options. Spray foam can be easily used in even the most difficult of environments, it is entirely chemically stable, and it can be installed by professionals in next to no time.
Best of all, it takes up very little space in your loft or within your roof, giving you the opportunity to use the loft as a room with the required head height.
Spray foam also has the added benefit of improving acoustic noise levels, and increasing the structural integrity of your home. Certain types of spray foam can actually make your walls and roof more stable and less prone to movement and noise.
Wool does not allow this, as it is a soft material that works best when it is not compacted or dense.
Sheep wool insulation is perfect for anyone who is environmentally conscious, but it makes sense to consider the option of a simple and flexible product that will give a quick and efficient insulation option at a cheaper price.
Seeking out a cost effective, insulation solution that stands the test of time? Spray foam offers an effective alternative to traditional wool-at only a fraction of the overall cost. Learn more about how this multi-purpose product can help your home today by calling 0800 1700 636, or by simply clicking the button below!, full_html