The Two Best Energy Investments for Your Home

If you would like to increase your home’s energy efficiency, we recommend investing in two key projects…

Air sealing wall If you would like to increase your home’s energy efficiency, we recommend investing in two key projects – insulation/air sealing your home and your home’s heating/cooling system.

Since the home is one contained unit, each system directly affects the other system. By taking a whole house approach to energy efficiency, the homeowner can experience a greater improvement in efficiency and comfort. And upgrading two systems can qualify the homeowner for rebates and other incentives.

Home energy improvements start with a home evaluation. A contractor will inspect the interior and exterior of the home to determine where energy improvements are needed.

Each home is different and recommendations can vary. However, there are some recommendations that a contractor will frequently make:

Air Sealing and Insulating
Leaks around a home allow conditioned air to escape and unconditioned outside air to enter. Leaks are often found in attics and around the perimeter of the basement. Sealing air leaks can reduce wear on your home’s heating and cooling system and help maintain your home’s internal temperature. If your attic doesn’t have adequate insulation, your contractor will likely recommend adding insulation.

Upgrading HVAC Equipment
If your heating and cooling system is more than 10 years old your contractor may recommend replacing it with a new, more efficient model. According to ENERGY STAR, when installed correctly high-efficiency heating and cooling units can save the homeowner up to 10% on annual utility bills. In addition, installing and properly using a programmable thermostat can save the homeowner up to $180 per year on heating and cooling costs.

Controlling the air that enters and exits the home and conditioning it with efficient equipment are two key steps to increase your home’s efficiency. By addressing both improvements you’ll see greater energy savings and enjoy a more comfortable home. Contact us for a free air sealing and insulation estimate today.

 

Ready For Spring? Don’t Forget About Your Crawl Space

Spring has most people thinking about sunny days and warm weather. Spring should also have you thinking about your crawl space. With spring melting and rain, your crawl space can become damp and fill with water. Having your crawl space in proper condition will help keep water out of your crawl space and maintain the structural integrity of your home.

There are a few key factors to ensure your crawl space is in good shape this spring:

Drainage
Moving water away from your foundation will help keep water out of your crawl space. Make sure water properly drains away from your home, rather than having it find a path of its own – into your crawl space.

Cracks
It is common for cracks to appear on the walls of your crawl space over time. Sealing cracks in the walls of your crawl space can help minimize water and keep pests out.

Insulation
Insulating your crawl space helps maintain the temperature of the floors in your home and can keep unwanted contaminants out of your home. Contact our office to have your crawl space evaluated and learn the proper insulation method.

Check your crawl space now because spring moisture is on the way! Contact our office to schedule your free estimate. Have other crawl space or insulation questions? Give us a call!

Insulating and Air Sealing Cantilevers

Cantilevers are areas that protrude beyond your home’s foundation or lower supporting wall (e.g., upper floor bump out, bay window, room over a porch, etc.). The thin construction material found in cantilevers creates an ideal space for unconditioned outside air to infiltrate the home, and for conditioned inside air to escape.

Cantilevered spaces in homes create distinct energy challenges for homeowners. Unless special consideration is given to these unique construction features and their insulation requirements, you may suffer from cold temperatures and high energy bills.

Oftentimes, cantilevers are not air sealed and insulated. If the builder does insulate this space, installation of an air barrier is many times overlooked. Why does this space need both insulation and an air barrier? The space below a cantilever is shallow which does not allow it to meet local codes for R-value. Installation of a proper air barrier and insulation will prevent air infiltration by creating a thermal barrier.

Please contact our office with questions about insulating and air sealing cantilevered spaces in your home.

Five Ways to Prepare Your Home for Winter

Winter is here again! If you’ve neglected making energy upgrades to your home, get ready for the same issues you faced last year. Winter weather problems can include equipment malfunctions, pest issues infiltration, indoor air quality issues, not to mention high energy bills.

It’s not too late to get your home ready for winter! Energy improvements will make your home more comfortable today and all year long! Here are five ways to get your home ready for winter:

Air Sealing
Air sealing is one of the least expensive and most effective ways to reduce energy loss and keep energy bills low. Air leaks around a home can waste approximately 10 to 15 percent of the money a homeowner spends on heating bills. Sealing air leaks around doors, windows, recessed lights, ductwork, chimney chases, and more will keep conditioned air inside your home and reduce wear and tear on your heating system.

Upgrade Attic Insulation
After air sealing, adding a layer of blown-in fiberglass insulation to your attic can further reduce your energy bills and help keep your home comfortable. Even if your home is newer, it may not be adequately insulated based on today’s building codes. (Unsure if your attic is properly insulated? Our staff can help!)

Insulate and Seal Your Crawl Space
Crawl spaces are naturally cool and damp. Because they are in direct contact with the main floor of your house, the condition within your crawl space can affect your home’s comfort level. As your home breathes from ground to sky, this cool and damp air is drawn into your home’s interior through tiny penetration points around your floor. This can lower the internal temperature of your home and drive up your heating bills.

Check Your Furnace
Confirming your furnace is in good working order can ensure that it’s working as efficiently as possible and can uncover any problems that could cause a midwinter break down. Don’t forget to change your furnace filter! Regularly changing the filter can help your furnace run more efficiently and reduce dust in your home.

Upgrade to LED Bulbs
Have you taken inventory of your home’s light bulbs? Investing in LED bulbs pays off quickly! Upgrading to LED bulbs can reduce your energy bills, especially during winter’s shorter days when lights are on more than any other time of year.

Investing in these improvements will pay off in energy savings and a more comfortable home all year long. Have questions about air sealing, insulating, your crawl space or anything above? Contact our office – our team can help!

 

Attic Insulation Options: Good, Better and Best

When it comes to home insulation, the first area that comes to mind is the attic. Airflow in buildings moves from ground to sky, naturally pulling conditioned indoor air up and out of a structure. Proper attic insulation helps keep conditioned air inside your home and helps keep your home comfortable. To help you choose the best attic insulation option for your new home, we’ve rated three popular methods:

Good: Blown-in Fiberglass
Adding blown-in fiberglass insulation to a new attic is a quick and easy way to increases R-value. This basic method of attic insulation is a cost-effective option.

Better: Blown-in Fiberglass with Air Sealing
Insulating and sealing air leaks dramatically improves the energy efficiency of a new home. The first step is to seal penetration points around the attic floor. After air sealing is complete, a blanket of blown-in fiberglass insulation is installed. This method helps keep conditioned air inside the home and adds R-value.

Best: Spray Foam Insulation
Installing spray foam insulation in the attic of a new home provides optimal energy protection. Spray foam is installed along the roofline to create a thermal barrier along the attic ceiling and seal any air leaks. This application provides the best energy benefits available in one easy step.

Adding insulation to your attic is one of the most cost-effective ways to save money on your energy bills each month. Wondering which insulation method is right for your new home project? Have questions on one of the methods or other insulation options for a new home? Contact our office today!

Why Air Seal

Air sealing wallsWhen homeowners think of saving money on energy bills, they often think of upgrading their insulation. Insulation is a great way to reduce heat transfer and indeed is an important part of saving energy. Did you know that sealing air leaks is as important as insulating?

Here are just some of the benefits of air sealing:

  • Improved indoor air quality by helping to keep allergens and pests out of the home.
  • Reduced energy bills by keeping conditioned air (heated or cooled air) inside the home.
  • Reduced wear and tear on your HVAC system.

Air sealing involves sealing penetration points around the exterior of the home (also known as the envelope or “shell” of the home). This includes sealing gaps and air leaks in exterior walls (around outlet covers, etc.), windows, doors, etc.

Air sealing a home is one of the most cost-effective ways to reduce energy bills and make your home more comfortable. ENERGY STAR estimates a homeowner can reduce heating and cooling costs up to 20% by upgrading their insulation and sealing air leaks.

Interested in air sealing your home? Contact us to learn more.

Three Reasons to Insulate Your Attic with Fiberglass

Spray Foam Installation by Technician

When you think of upgrading your home’s insulation, the attic is often the first area that comes to mind. Air naturally moves through a house from ground to sky. By focusing your dollars on an attic upgrade you are focusing on the number one area of energy loss.

Fiberglass insulation is a great option for insulating attics and for any area of a home. Here are three benefits of upgrading your attic with fiberglass insulation:

  • Fiberglass insulation is a cost-effective insulator. Fiberglass insulation is a low-cost product that is easy to install. It can easily be blown over existing insulation, creating a complete blanket to help reduce energy bills and keep your home comfortable.
  • Fiberglass insulation is a green product from manufacturing to installation. Fiberglass insulation is manufactured primarily from recycled glass. This means there are fewer natural resources used to manufacture fiberglass insulation than some other types of insulation. When installed, fiberglass insulation over its lifetime saves more energy than it took to produce. If you’re looking for a green product to insulate your home, fiberglass insulation is ideal.
  • Fiberglass insulation can be as effective as spray foam. When combining fiberglass insulation with full air sealing, fiberglass insulation can provide the thermal and air sealing benefits as spray foam – at a lower price point. Having your home fully air sealed by a qualified contractor helps keep conditioned air inside the home to increase comfort and reduce energy bills

Adding fiberglass insulation to your attic is one of the most cost-effective ways to save money on your energy bills each month. Wondering if your home could benefit from additional attic insulation and air sealing? Contact us for a free estimate.

Three Ways to Minimize Mold

Mold in a home can cause a variety of problems for homeowners and builders. Mold can affect indoor air quality, create health issues for occupants, and be a complicated problem to fix.

In order for mold to grow it needs mold spores to be present (which are all around), moisture, and warm temperatures. While all three elements are necessary for mold to grow, moisture regulation is a significant contributor that can be managed.

While moisture in a home is impossible to avoid, there are a few simple ways to decrease the likelihood of developing mold:

  1. Seal the Building Envelope.
    Properly air sealing wall cavities helps keep moist outside air out of the home. If needed, allow drying time for the materials before closing up the wall. This should include carefully monitoring humidity levels on the job site.
  2. Add Proper Ventilation.
    When a building is air sealed, it’s important to have a proper ventilation system. This helps move out any damp air that could contribute to mold issues in the home.
  3. Seal Basement Box Sills.
    One of the most common areas where mold growth is found is on basement rim joists and box sills. When basement box sills are insulated with fiberglass batts and not air sealed, moist outside air can infiltrate the home and mold can build up behind these batts. Insulating and sealing box sills with spray foam insulation can prevent infiltration of moist outside air.

Taking the necessary steps to prevent mold from the beginning will save headaches and money for homeowners. Concerned about mold in your home? We can help. Contact us for a free estimate.

What You Don’t Know About Your Home’s Air Quality

paint brush, plant and cleaning supplies

Did you know the majority of our exposure to air pollutants is from indoor air we breathe?

You may be surprised to learn that indoor air (in your home, office, etc.) can be two to five times more polluted than outdoor air. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) estimates that the average person receives 72 percent of their chemical exposure at home. When considering the significant amount of time we spend indoors – in our homes, offices, and more – indoor air quality becomes even more important.

Indoor air pollutants come from different sources. Some indoor air pollutants are a byproduct of construction materials, home furnishings, products used to clean the home, and more. Other indoor air pollutants come from air infiltration that isn’t properly managed or controlled.

There are many ways to improve your home’s indoor air quality. Here are some tips:

Seal Air Leaks – Sealing air leaks helps create a controlled indoor environment. A qualified auditor or contractor can recommend a plan to air seal your home. Spray foam insulation can add r-value to your home and seal air leaks in one step.

Properly Ventilate – Once air leaks are sealed and there is a controlled indoor environment, the home can be properly ventilated. A mechanical ventilation system with good filtration can help remove polluted indoor air from the house.

Reduce Indoor Chemicals – Choose products that have low chemical emissions. This can include cleaning products, home furnishings that are added to the home, and more. This will help your home ventilation system work most effectively.

Have questions about your home’s indoor air quality? Contact our office, our team is happy to help.

Why the upper level of your home is unbearable during summer, and how we can help.

Everyone knows the basic principles of warm air and cool air – warm air rises, cool air sinks. You can see this in practice when a hot air balloon is filled with heated air and rises. When the air inside the balloon cools, the air becomes dense causing the balloon to lower.

This principle applies to the air inside your home. This results in something called Stack Effect. Here’s how it works and how it affects your home’s performance.

During winter months, indoor air that’s been warmed rises to the upper areas of the house. Due to natural penetration points in the roof of a home (e.g. around electrical penetrations, vents, etc.) this warm air leaks out of the home.

Losing air that you’ve paid to condition affects your wallet – and has an even greater impact. When heated air leaks from the upper level of your home, negative pressure is created in the home. Since air in the home wants to remain in balance, cold outside air is sucked in to the home through penetration points on the lower level (e.g. around windows, electrical outlets, basement box sills, crawl spaces, etc.)

During winter months, warm air inside the home is desired. What do homeowners do? They turn up the HVAC system. This creates a false sense of an efficient home because the heating system overrides any feeling of discomfort.

What about summer? During summer months, stack effect creates a much more uncomfortable living situation.

As the warm inside air rises in a home and escapes through upper level penetration points, warm outside air enters the home through lower penetration points. The home’s HVAC system will run to help cool the air inside the home. Since cool air is dense, the conditioned air will not reach the upper level of the home. This can create an unbearable living situation in the upper level of a home during peak summer months.

If you dread the upper floors of your home during summer months because of hot and uncomfortable air, your home needs air sealing and insulating. Contact us to discuss your home’s summer comfort issues and schedule a free estimate.