Countertops aren't alone in their growth forecast for the next several years. According to the Freedonia Group, U.S. demand for insulation is going to increase 6.6% annually to reach $10.3 billion in 2019. "Efforts to make existing buildings more energy efficient will support improvement and repair demand for insulation," says the Cleveland-area market research firm's Insulation report. This is in addition to organic growth that can be contributed to increased new construction activity, as well as moves toward more stringent building codes.

New Insulation & Re-insulation

While the non-residential market is expected to recover from declines it suffered between 2009 and 2014, the residential market will see the most rapid gains through 2019, thanks to double-digit annual growth in housing starts. The bulk of residential insulation demand will be geared toward new dwellings, which are likely to call for more insulation than in previous years as more areas of the country adopt the 2012 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC).

Undoubtedly, savvy insulation contractors will also contribute to market growth with an insulation push for existing homes. The North American Insulation Manufacturers Association (NAIMA) reported this week that it estimates as much as 90% of existing homes are under-insulated. NAIMA's estimate comes from information in the 2009 Residential Energy Consumption Survey conducted by Boston University. Researchers used Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory methods to estimate insulation levels in U.S. homes.

"If all U.S. homes were fitted with insulation based on the 2012 International Energy Conservation Code, residential electricity use nationwide would drop about 5% and natural gas use by more than 10%," says Dr. Jonathan Levy, lead researcher and professor of environmental health at Boston University School of Public Health.

"People don't see insulation, so they don't think about it," says NAIMA president and CEO Curt Rich. That is, they don't think about it until cooler weather sets in. This time of year, Rich says, homeowners "begin thinking about home improvements to increase comfort and reduce their energy bills. Research like this should reinforce our message to homeowners, and to policymakers, that added insulation has real and significant benefits."

To that end, Energy Star kicks off its Rule Your Attic campaign on Oct. 1, in a national effort to raise consumer awareness on the comfort and efficiency benefits of insulation. This campaign encourages people to poke their heads in the attic and assess where they stand. It takes just a few minutes and can result in big improvements, both in terms of your family's comfort and reduction in your monthly energy bills." In addition to tools offered by the Energy Star campaign, NAIMA offers resources including pictoral guidance for correct insulation levels and videos of proper installation.

Material Options

In terms of materials, Freedonia forecasts that demand for foamed plastic insulation will grow to 2.4 billion pounds in 2019 with a value of $4.7 million. Foamed plastics with their high R-values have historically been used more extensively in the non-residential market. As code changes call for better air sealing for new homes, foamed plastic insulation will see increased use residentially despite its higher cost.

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Still, fiberglass is expected to retain the top spot as the most-used material, though that market will grow at a slower pace. Mineral wool and cellulose will both grow by more than 2.5% annually, but will still be among the smaller segments of the insulation market.