Q&A / 

P2000 Insulation Customer Story

Do a little research online and you'll discover there are both pros and cons about the foam-board insulation product P2000.

Most of those that are saying great things about it, have a dog in the fight. They are selling the product or somehow stand to make a financial gain.

If you investigate those that detract from it, you'll probably discover they sell a competing product. 

But here's a story sent to me from Ken Harman, a Canadian homeowner, to tell you how he came to discover it, and how he used it in his new home in Altona, Manitoba, Canada.

Before you jump out of your chair to go buy some P2000, note that there are missing facts in Ken's story. If I was able to interview him, here are a few questions I would ask?

  1. How much extra money did you spend to buy the P2000 over conventional insulation?
  2. How much extra money did it cost you to build in the manner you did using all the extra lumber?
  3. How big is the house? How many square feet are you heating?
  4. Are there similar sized houses in your area built the conventional way, and if so, what are they spending per heating season to heat?

What I'm trying to get to is what is the payback period for the P2000? Is it 3, 5 or 15 years?

I'm not against saving energy, but you have to make sure it really does save money. Never ever forget this axiom about Energy Savings:

You don't start to save your first penny of energy savings until such time as every extra dollar, plus interest, you spent on the energy improvement has been paid back by the lower fuel bills.

Once you get to that point, then you start to save. The magical question is: How long does it take to get there, and how long will you live in the house AFTER that point in time?

Here's Ken's story:

"Hi there!

I was looking at one of Tim's articles concerning various insulations, and I was in total agreement with several of the writers in regards Fibreglass insulation, and how the industry has been put into a box, as it were. Thinking it is the best and only way to go. If it is all you have in the attic, without anything else on top, like cellulose, the wind going through the attic will suck the heat right out of it. 

I just built a new house 4 years ago, but before I even started, I went to a Home Builders show in Winnipeg, and looked at all the new things out there to see if there might be something better on the market than "the same old, same old". One thing I saw demonstrated was something called P2000 rigid insulation,  in 4x8 sheets x either 5/8" or 1" thickness. Also, it is available in rolls 3 ft. wide by 3/8". It is polystyrene with a reflective coating on both sides, or you can get it with a white sort of fibre glass mesh on one side and an aluminum reflective coating on the other. It can be installed either on the inside of the house, or the outside, depending on the application. The 1" has an R rating of 27.5 per inch, and the 5/8" has an R factor of 19.5. The 3/8" has a rating of 11. I understand this insulation is used by NASA in their Space programs.

Now I know this sounds impossible when compared to how the Industry rates insulation, but rigid insulation should not be rated the same way loose insulation is, according to what I have read. Nor has the Industry given much recognition to the importance of a reflective insulation, especially when it is sandwiching a polystyrene insulator between it.

So after I saw the demo, and read up on it quite a bit, with all the testimonials, I decided to give it a try. My builder also decided to take on the distributorship in this area. I built 4" 2x4 walls to start with, and put R12 Pink insulation in. Then I put 5/8" P2000 across the 2x4's on the inside. Next I cut 2x6s in half lengthwise, giving me 2-5/8" boards which we screwed horizontally across the P2000 every 16" from floor to ceiling. I needed no vapor barrier because the P 2000 is it's own vapor barrier. I then put all my wiring of the outer walls into that 2-5/8" space, without having to put a vapor barrier around each box. This is a real "plus" for the electrician! Then we put on the wallboard. This gave a 2-5/8" air space on my outside walls.

We also put 1" P2000 over the whole ceiling before the partitions went in. All the joints of the P2000 were taped with self-sticking aluminum tape. Each sheet of P2000 has tape already on one side. You just pull off the protective covering from the tape and press the self-sticking tape down onto the next sheet. All corners and open edges of the P2000 were taped with the aluminum tape, so in the end, everything was perfectly air tight. I put no more insulation of any kind in the attic. All I have for ceiling insulation is the 1" P2000. The ceiling was then strapped with 1x4s every 16", and Gyproc sheets installed. (Actually, the ceiling was done first before the walls.)

I used interlocking Styrofoam forms for the poured cement basement walls, and underneath the basement floor I laid the 3/8" rolls of P2000 before laying down the rebar. I then put in piping for my underfloor heating, which later got tied in with my Geothermal ground loops. My total heating is with Geothermal.

I have gone through 4 winters now this way, with only 1" of P2000 in my ceiling. My attic remains totally dry throughout the winter, with no signs of hoar frost at all. An engineer from P2000 came out and took pictures with an infra-red camera, and was totally amazed at the results. The most heat loss he could find between inside and outside readings was 1 degree. The temperature outside at the time was -18 with a wind-chill of over -30. On a conventional house, even with 6" walls, an Infra red camera will pick out every stud, and every outlet box on the outside wall. Mine showed nothing ! He offered to buy my house!

I have a separate old Hydro watt meter that I put my Geothermal heating through, and the most I was spending per month throughout the winter was between $80 and $90 . I pay more now that I have my basement floor heat hooked up.  But for a Manitoba winter, where the temperature can go down to -40, this house is so warm and comfortable that everybody comments on it whenever they visit. I also installed a whole house air exchanger, which really helps.

My local building inspector thought I was crazy in the head when he came to inspect, and the Manitoba Hydro people wouldn't give me any more than a 3.5 R value for my 1" of P2000, even though it has passed numerous approval tests by well-recognized Laboratories. My feeling is that if this insulation was to be approved by the Canadian Housing Standards people, and begun to be used, the present method of insulation would be in jeopardy. So there are a lot of "politics" involved. 

I calculate that my outside walls have an R value of roughly 32. Theoretically, my ceiling is only about 28, but again, what really does the R factor mean? It was only a standard devised by the Fibre glass people for the use of the Housing industry, and it was based on the use of their type of insulation. (Also, this insulation, with the reflective surface on both sides, is also more fire-retardant than fibreglass.)

So that's my story. I would like to see it become an Industry standard, for I am totally satisfied with how it has performed for me.  If you want anymore information, you have my e-mail address.

Thank you."
Ken Harman


One Response to P2000 Insulation Customer Story

  1. From what I've learned as I go. It appears that the ACH (Air Changes per Hour) play a more important role than the R-value. As shown in this case. BTW Ken, you might want to check and see if your home should have an ERV/HRV installed to create some air changes. Getting off track, my point is this, good quality Rigid insulation with all seams sealed will result in the same. Having that dead air space coupled with the rigid insulation also helps, and you've picked up on why. The question is, "Is the extra cost of P-2000 carry it's wieght over the cost of a good rigid insulation." I don't believe so...

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