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Death is one major factor to consider when using alternative building materials. If any of those foam packing peanuts catch fire, you'll be dead before there is enough smoke to set off the smoke alarm. I personally think wool is the best insulation material, but it's expensive. It doesn't easily catch fire, nor does it give off deadly fumes. The next best thing is to simply seal gaps and cracks in the house, caulk here and there, close off the attic, use weather stripping or storm windows, and sew a yeti costume to wear around the house.
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