Natural Insulation: What Types are Available?

a self build constructed using natural insulation
Oakwrights. The oak frame company used its own WrightWall Natural encapsulation system which is made from recycled newspaper, containing cellulose. (Image credit: Jeremy Phillips)

On the face of it, natural insulation doesn’t seem like the natural first choice for self builders keen to create highly energy efficient eco houses and extensions. Plastic insulation materials, including polyurethane, polyisocyanurate, phenolic foam and polystyrene insulation boards, outperform natural insulation in virtually every respect. 

Natural materials are at least as effective as mineral or glass wool, but they’re more expensive. So, why bother with natural insulation?

Tim Pullen

Tim is an expert in sustainable building methods and energy efficiency in residential homes and writes on the subject for magazines and national newspapers. He is the author of The Sustainable Building Bible, Simply Sustainable Homes and Anaerobic Digestion - Making Biogas - Making Energy: The Earthscan Expert Guide.

His interest in renewable energy and sustainability was first inspired by visits to the Royal Festival Hall heat pump and the Edmonton heat-from-waste projects. In 1979

this initial burst of enthusiasm lead to him trying (and failing) to build a biogas digester to convert pig manure into fuel, at a Kent oast-house, his first conversion project.

Moving in 2002 to a small-holding in South Wales, providing as it did access to a wider range of natural resources, fanned his enthusiasm for sustainability. He went on to install renewable technology at the property, including biomass boiler and wind turbine.

He formally ran energy efficiency consultancy WeatherWorks and was a speaker and expert at the Homebuilding & Renovating Shows across the country.