Mr. Green Jeans

Who wears the pants? The house wears the pants.

Who wears the pants? The house wears the pants.

A fully green house. That’s what our aspirations were from the get-go. Along the way, however, we’ve sadly realized that to go fully green demands a much greener budget.

So, we’ve been greening where we can afford to green… especially, when it comes to things that would be nearly impossible to add later. Retrofitting 1133 with solar panels or a tankless water heater shouldn’t prove too cost-prohibitive (or life-disruptive) if we decide to back-burner those. Insulation though, that’s a toughy… unless ripping walls out is you’re thing.

We’ve researched insulate alternatives like Cellulose (comprised of 80% shredded newspaper, treated with borate compounds to resist fire, insects, and mold), Spray Polyurethane Foam or SPF (water-blown and able to create its own air barrier by expanding in even the tiniest nooks and crannies) and SPF’s hippy cousin, the all organic Soybean Polyurethane. We were especially taken with the SPF, which can cut yearly energy costs by as much as 35%! Unfortunately, the overall cost, which would require installation by certified experts, greatly exceeded our allowance. After all, we’re budgeted for the pink stuff (fiberglass).

Which was why we were so happy when we stumbled upon the blue stuff: Bonded-Logic’s UltraTouch Recycled Cotton Insulation.

Ultratouch is made from 85% post-consumer recycled denim, diverting an average of 200 tons (!) of landfill material per month (finally, a justification for the existence of acid-washed jeans). Like Cellulose Insulation, it’s also treated with borate to resist fire, mold/mildew, and critters (borate is less toxic than table salt), giving it a Class A fire rating and superior mold resistance. Another added benefit, impressive acoustical dampening—up to 30% higher than the pink stuff (meaning, we can rock out without disturbing the neighbors).

It comes in bats and is installed much like fiberglass… except that no eye or lung protection is needed and it doesn’t irritate the skin (UltraTouch also has no VOC outgassing concerns and contains no formaldehyde unlike fiberglass insulation).

But, can we afford it?

Well, we’re pretty sure we can. A quick crunching of the numbers has the cost at not quite twice our allotment for insulation (including installation). And, while not having as much energy-saving potential as the SPF, the UltraTouch still outperforms the pink stuff… which means we’ll likely recoup the extra cost within a year or two through lower energy bills.

So, the jury’s still out. We’ll have to find the money elsewhere in our already skin-tight budget. But hopefully, nothing will go between our walls, except our Calvins…

…and Levis, Lees, Wranglers and Jordaches.

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2 Responses to “Mr. Green Jeans”


  1. 1 Michelle October 15, 2008 at 11:56 pm

    Would any of these insulation products work for basement walls? Do I need a moisture barrier, and if so, where would it go? If this would work, where do I get it? Can I install myself?

  2. 2 1133sc October 16, 2008 at 7:39 am

    Not sure Michelle. I believe you can use it just about anywhere you’d normally use traditional insulation… and you can install it yourself. As for where to get it, any of the links in the post should help to point you in the right direction. The closest dealer to us, I believe, is in Georgia.


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