How to Use Recycled Newspaper for Home Insulation

How to Use Recycled Newspaper for Home Insulation

Insulating your home with recycled newspaper can be an eco-friendly and cost-effective way to improve energy efficiency. Newspapers are readily available for recycling and can make excellent insulation material when used properly. Here is a comprehensive guide on using recycled newspaper as insulation for your home.

Gathering and Preparing the Newspaper

The first step is gathering a sufficient amount of recycled newspaper. Focus on collecting clean, dry newspapers without shiny inserts or colored pages. Some tips:

  • Check with local recycling centers, schools, businesses, etc. for a bulk supply of old newspapers.
  • Request neighbors and friends to save their old newspapers for you.
  • Put out a call on community boards and social media for newspaper donations.
  • Look for leftover newsprint at newspaper printing presses.

Once you have gathered enough newspapers, the next step is preparation:

  • Shake out each newspaper and discard any inserts, ads, magazines, etc. Only keep the newsprint.
  • Ensure the newspapers are clean and dry. Damp or soiled paper will not insulate well.
  • Shred or tear the paper into small strips for easier packing. Pieces 2-3 inches wide work well.

Making Newspaper Insulation

To make insulating batts or rolls from the newspaper:

  • Pack newspaper strips tightly into wire mesh cylinders or wooden frames lined with chicken wire. The cylinders should be the size needed to fit between wall studs, attic rafters, etc.
  • As you add paper, press down firmly using a piece of wood to compress it. Compression boosts insulation performance.
  • When the cylinder is fully stuffed with compressed paper, close it with staples, duct tape, or wire.

An alternative is to make loose-fill newspaper insulation:

  • Use a paper shredder to shred paper into small pieces, or tear by hand.
  • Place the shredded paper into bags or containers for transporting to the installation site.
  • Wear a dust mask when handling loose shredded newspaper to avoid breathing in fine particles.

Installing Newspaper Insulation

When installing newspaper insulation:

  • Start by sealing any air leaks in the area to be insulated. Use caulk for small cracks and expanding foam sealant for larger gaps.
  • For batt/roll insulation, slide cylinders between wall studs, attic rafters, etc. Fill fully from top to bottom.
  • For loose-fill, use an insulation blower machine to spray it into wall cavities through small holes. Rent a machine or hire a professional.
  • Leave no gaps – pack tightly to minimize air pockets. Insulation works by trapping stationary air.
  • Install vapor barrier facing in cool climates to prevent condensation issues. Use kraft paper or plastic sheeting.
  • For attics, install baffles along eaves to allow ventilation. Make sure soffit vents are clear.
  • Add extra insulation over ductwork and electrical wiring to prevent heat loss.
  • Label each insulated section with type and R-value for future reference.

Pros and Cons of Newspaper Insulation

Using recycled paper as insulation offers several benefits:

  • Low cost – newspapers are free or cheap if sourced locally. Much less expensive than fiberglass.
  • Eco-friendly – repurposes waste paper that would otherwise go to a landfill.
  • Effective – properly packed newspaper can provide an insulation R-value of R-3 to R-4 per inch.
  • Low toxicity – newspaper insulation is safer than fiberglass which can cause skin irritation.

Some potential drawbacks to consider:

  • Newspaper batts are less rigid and may sag and compress over time if not packed tightly.
  • Shredded newspaper insulation can settle after installation, reducing effectiveness.
  • Must be kept completely dry to maintain insulating performance.

Overall, insulating with recycled newspaper is a smart green method to improve energy efficiency in your home. With careful sourcing and proper installation techniques, newspaper can offer an economical, environmentally responsible insulation solution.