How to Determine Insulation’s R-Value

insulation's R-value

Understanding the insulation’s R-value – a measure of how well it reduces the flow of heat and cold into and out of your house – is very important. If your home or business is not properly insulated, which is often the case in Arizona, the more expensive your home energy bills. However, you should consider increasing the R-value of insulation for more reasons that just high energy bills, although that alone is a big selling point.

Ensuring the proper R-value of insulation will not only make your home more energy efficient – lowering heating and cooling costs – but, it will also make it more comfortable and healthier for all occupants. As you will see below, of all the insulation types, foam insulation carries the highest R-values per inch. Other benefits of insulation, regardless of type, is sound dampening.

To determine the R-value of insulation in your home, you will first need to know the R-value of your current insulation material, as well as how many inches exist. Insulation often decreases over time due to a number of factors. Depending on where you live in the Grand Canyon State is also of importance. Warmer areas can do with lower R-values (R-30 – R-49) while colder areas, like Flagstaff, require higher levels (R-49 – R-60).

Insulation’s R-Value by Type

The R-values per inch of the most common types of insulation are as follows:

  • Fiberglass (loose): 2.2-2.7
  • Fiberglass (batts): 2.9-3.8
  • Cellulose (loose): 3.2-3.8
  • Rock Wool (loose): 3.0-3.3
  • Foam (sprayed): 3.2-6.5

Installation of Insulation

At Banker Insulation, we value your time, which is why we’re dedicated to ensuring installation is scheduled at time most convenient for you. Typically blown-in insulation projects can be completed in two to four hours depending on location. However, it’s important to note that sprayed-in foam insulation, and more extensive projects can take a bit longer to install. We do not consider a job complete until it’s met with your satisfaction. Contact us today for a free estimate: (602) 273-1261!

*Source: U.S. Department of Energy

Home Insulation Benefits

home insulation benefits

A kaleidoscope of colors can be found right outside your door. Pumpkin flavored coffee, scones, and pies are readily available. Halloween candy and decorations fill the stores. Now that fall is officially here, and winter isn’t too far off, it’s the perfect time to make sure your house is prepared for the cold weather ahead.

One of the most telling signs of a poorly insulated house is when you notice your energy bills are sky high, but your house remains chilly enough to warrant you donning a sweater, and sipping on hot coffee just to stay warm. If this sounds familiar, insulating early on (before winter), is the smart choice.

When you see the home insulation benefits, you’ll wonder why you didn’t add insulation earlier.

You’ll Save Money

You’ll save quite a bit of money on electricity bills by getting a head start on insulating your home. Insulation, done right, makes your home more energy efficient thus lowering your energy consumption – and bills. If you insulate your home early on, you will start saving money the moment you turn the heater on, which is when Jack Frost appears. That will allow you to save more for the holidays.

You’ll Get a Head Start on Home Repairs

When it comes to caring for your home, your car or even yourself, waiting until a problem grows is never a good idea. Getting a head start on the situation will save you some time and money. Insulation is no different. Installing it when the weather is still pleasant will ensure your comfort during the winter months. Insulating in the fall will also save you money on installation costs and, as mentioned previously, electricity bills.

You’ll Soundproof Your Home

One of the most overlooked values of insulation is soundproofing. Adding insulation to the walls and ceiling of offices, home theater rooms, nurseries, and bedrooms is a sound choice. Insulting exterior walls can lessen or eliminate uncontrollable noise from sources such as obnoxious neighbors, traffic, construction, etc. from entering your home and ruining your rest and relaxation.

Ready to get started? Contact Banker Insulation today: (602) 273-1261!

Fall Preparation

fall preparation

Despite continuing triple-digit temperatures here in the Valley of the Sun, fall is just around the corner, which means cooler weather is on its way. As we enjoy our last few blissful weeks of summer, it’s wise to start getting our homes ready for the season ahead before it sneaks up on us. Here are a few projects you can complete in preparation of the fall season. Bring on the pumpkin spice lattes!

Interior Maintenance

  1. Check for drafts. Stay warm, save energy and reduce your heating bills this fall by visually examining your home’s windows and doors for obvious issues, such as gaps and cracks. Other sources of drafts may include, but are not limited to, knee walls, attic hatch/opening, wiring holes, plumbing vents, and recessed lights. Fall is a great time to seal and/or caulk around all gaps and cracks to prevent drafts.
  2. Install a programmable thermostat. If you haven’t already, purchase and install a programmable thermostat. Already have one? Be sure to check the temperature settings. Setting the thermostat to automatically lower the temperature at night and when you’re not home, can result in increased energy efficiency, and substantial cost savings.
  3. Have your heating system inspected. Hire an HVAC professional to inspect your heating system. They should test for leaks, check system efficiency, and change the filter. If your system runs on gas, they will also check for carbon monoxide in the air, in order to ensure air safety. It is also a good idea to changer your return filters monthly during the fall and winter months.
  4. Keep yourself and your family safe. Replace the batteries in all smoke detectors, heat detectors, and carbon monoxide devices. Test each one to make sure they’re working properly. You may also want to draft or review a fire safety plan with your family. The NFPA is a good resource for fire safety plan information.
  5. Ensure adequate levels of insulation. Insulation is another important way to prepare your home for fall and winter. According to the Department of Energy, “In winter, heat in your home will try to flow directly from all heated living spaces to adjacent unheated attics, garages, basements, and even to the outdoors.” This can cause your heating system to work harder than it needs to, decreasing your home’s efficiency, and costing you money. For a toasty warm home, make sure your home has adequate levels of insulation by contacting a professional insulation contractor.

Exterior Maintenance

  1. Clean the gutters. It is a good idea to remove leaves and other debris from your gutters once in the fall and again in the spring to avoid overflow and damage. Debris-ridden gutters can tear away from your house, overflow, or even damage your foundation – potentially costing you thousands of dollars’ worth of trouble. You can have your gutters professionally serviced or clean them yourself.
  2. Do a roof check. Inspecting your roof is one task that’s easy to overlook. Don’t! From the ground, you can visually inspect your roof for signs of deterioration, damage, and/or loose or missing shingles. Look at the condition of the flashing too. Back inside (preferably in the attic), check for daylight peeking through the rafters.
  3. Spring for a chimney sweep. If you have a wood-burning fireplace, that you plan on using come winter, fall is the perfect time to make sure its chimney and vents are inspected and cleaned. Search for a certified chimney sweeper at Chimney Safety Institute of America.
  4. Gear up on winter essentials. If you live in a part of Arizona that experiences snowfall or have plans to visit the snow, then you may want to restock on winter essentials, like ice melt or salt before the first winter storm hits. Replace damaged or worn shovels, sleds, and other winter toys well ahead of the crowds.

Top 5 Reasons to Insulate Your Home

insulate your home

Image Courtesy of Owens Corning

Unless your home was specifically designed and constructed to be energy-efficient (and even then), you could probably stand to add more insulation, which works to effectively reduce your energy bills and save you money.

The signs of an inadequately insulated home include significantly high energy bills, and a cold house in the winter or a sauna in the summer, among other conditions. Here are some reasons why you should consider adding insulation to your home.

Your Home Was Built Before 1980

Did you know that most homes are under-insulated? It’s true. Research conducted by Boston University, in partnership with the North American Insulation Manufacturers Association (NAIMA), estimates that approximately 90% of all existing homes in the United States are under-insulated.

Under-insulated homes waste energy and money, harm the environment, and negatively affect the comfort of homeowners. A great place to start improving your home’s insulation is in the attic. Adding insulation to the home’s walls and ceilings is also a simple and effective way to increase energy efficiency.

To Ensure Your Comfort

Inadequate insulation can result in inconsistent temperatures. It might be a bedroom that is especially cold or a living room that is uncomfortably warm. Stepping into a room that is either colder or warmer than other rooms is a sure sign of an insulation issue. Another common problem that may cause this is air leaks. You may find air leaks in your attic, walls, and around window and doors.

High Energy Bills

Because heating and air conditioning typically account for a significant portion of your energy consumption, a spike in your energy bill may signal the fact that the HVAC system is working harder than it should to account for rooms with varying temperatures, depending on the season. Ensuring adequate insulation helps to regulate the temperatures in your home thus resulting in lower energy bills.

Noise Reduction

Nosie from sources occurring inside and outside your home can be lessened with insulation. Adding insulation to the walls of offices, home theater rooms, nurseries, and bedrooms is a sound choice. Insulating exterior walls can lessen or eliminate uncontrollable noise such as loud neighbors, traffic, construction, etc. from entering your home and ruining your peaceful slumber.

Upcoming Home Improvement Projects

For the best R-values (thermal resistance) plan to add to, or replace existing insulation during a remodel in areas where framing is exposed. Home improvement projects such as replacing drywall, adding new siding, refinishing an attic or installing a new roof, offer the perfect opportunity for adding or replacing insulation. You want your home to be as comfortable and energy efficient as possible.

8 Ways to Reduce Energy Expenses this Summer

Reduce Energy Expenses

A major factor that all homeowners must deal with – particularly in Arizona, is the rising cost of energy consumption. While Valley residents might have to deal with triple-digit temperatures, they don’t necessarily have to deal with triple-digit energy bills, or sacrifice their comfort. Here are a number of ways to reduce energy expenses in your Arizona home this summer. Bonus: You will be protecting the planet at the same time you’re saving money.

Set the thermostat between 78 to 80 degrees when you are home and up to 85 degrees when you are away. For every degree you set your thermostat above 80 degrees, you can save approximately 2 to 3% on cooling costs, according to SRP.

Install a programmable thermostat and watch your energy savings add up*. Set it to reflect 78 to 80 degrees when you are home and above 80 when you are away for annual savings of 10 to 30% on the cooling portion of your energy bills.

Turn your thermostat to “auto”. This makes sure that the fan only runs when the air conditioner is running rather than running 24-hour a day, 7-days a week, as is typically the case when the thermostat is set to “on”.

Routinely change your air conditioner’s air filter. Many people install their air filter and forget about it. But when filters become clogged with dirt and dust, your air conditioner has to work harder, thus raising your energy bills. You should change your filter once every 30 days during the summer months.

Turning lights off when you leave a room is a good way to save energy and, thus, lower your energy bill. Your actual savings depends on the type of lightbulbs you use, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

Switch to an “off-peak” energy-rate plan. These plans reward customers with reduced pricing for using energy during periods of time considered off-peak. Many electricity companies throughout Arizona offer assorted plans.

Seal air leaks. Caulking air leaks can save you up to 20% on your monthly cooling bill. You can also use spray foam. Focus on the windows and doors first followed by electrical outlets, switch plates, vents, electrical or gas service entrances, and attic hatches.

Invest in attic insulation for lower energy bills. You can save an estimated 10 to 30% off your monthly energy bill by properly insulating your attic. The higher the product’s R-Value (thermal resistance), the greater the savings.

*When used properly.

Home Cooling 101

Home Cooling 101: A comprehensive infographic from the U.S. Department of Energy not only explains the basics about air conditioning and other cooling systems, but also provides recommendations to consider, such as ventilation and how to effectively lower your cooling costs thus lowering your monthly expenditures.

This Home Cooling 101  infographic is a great resource to ensure that you and your loved ones remain comfortable even as the temperatures outside hover above 110-degrees. And remember: One of the most cost effective methods for cooling your home is to ensure its proper insulation as this will prevent warm air from intruding.

Home Cooling 101

 

The Skinny on Spray Foam

spray foam

What is spray foam? Spray foam, is commonly composed of either isocyanurate (open-cell) or polyurethane (closed-cell), and is made by combining two ingredients onsite using specialized equipment. Both open-cell and closed-cell foam are applied as a liquid that contains a polymer and a foaming agent. Once the liquids and foaming agent are combined, the mixture is then sprayed through a heated hose into the areas in need of insulation. One of the nice features about this product is the fact that it expands to fill hard to reach areas, and then rapidly hardens.

Why choose spray foam? It has the potential to stop air leakages better than many of the other insulation products currently available. Because it is sprayed into place, where it then expands, it can fill up cavities and block any small holes that may otherwise compromise your building’s envelope. It is available as open-cell and closed-cell foam (discussed below). When professionally installed, vertically or horizontally, it can contribute to energy-efficiency, noise reduction, moisture intrusion reduction, and more!

  • Open-cell has a density of about 0.5 lb. per cubic foot, and an R-value of 3.5 to 4.0 per inch. Open-cell provides an effective air seal which reduces energy loss and improves indoor air quality when used correctly. Most homes require double the amount of open-cell foam.
  • Closed-cell has a density of about 20 lb. per cubic foot, and an R-value of 6.0 to 6.5 per inch. Closed-cell is typically more expensive than open-cell do to its ability to add structural strength to a wall, ceiling, or roof assembly. It also reduces energy loss and improves indoor air quality.

Are there any green alternatives to traditional spray foam insulation? Yes! Soybean-based spray foam, is made without any added chemicals, yet has the same insulation properties as traditional foam insulation. A portion of the petroleum base that makes up the product is replaced by soy. This product uses water as its main blowing agent. Soybean does not emit greenhouse gasses; long or short term. While more expensive than traditional foam, soybean is the appropriate choice for those wanting an environmentally-friendly option. Other benefits of soybean include:

  • Blocks drafts.
  • Stays firmly in place.
  • Excellent thermal properties.
  • Effectively reduces outside noise.
  • Does not attract insects or rodents.
  • Does not emit greenhouse gasses.
  • Meets government requirements for renewable resources.
  • Lowers the costs associated with heating and cooling your home.

Garage Door Insulation

garage door insulation

One of the most cost-effective home improvements is also one of the most overlooked. If you’re like most homeowners, your garage door, and quite possibly, your garage is uninsulated. An uninsulated garage door not only increases your heating and cooling costs (“hello” high energy bills), but it can also be a welcoming sight for critters, and moisture. Both of which can be quite destructive. Insulating your garage door can provide unanticipated benefits thus making the project incredibly worthwhile.

Benefits include:

  • Climate control
  • Reduced noise pollution
  • Increased energy-efficiency
  • Creates a stronger garage door
  • Brightens what might otherwise be considered a dreary space.

At Banker Insulation, we’re committed to helping you through the process of insulating your garage door, by providing you with the following tips. These tips will ensure that you’re able to enjoy the many benefits an insulated garage door provides. Let’s get started, shall we?

#1. Types of Insulation Materials

Batt Insulation: Commonly made of fiberglass, batt insulation is more flexible than the other two options listed below, with insulation values between R-3 and R-4 per inch of thickness. Batt insulation is one of the more affordable options.

Foam Board Insulation: Typically made from polystyrene, foam board insulation is more rigid than batt insulation, but provides a much higher insulating value for relatively little thickness. R-values range from 3.3 to 6.5.

Reflective Insulation: Available in either rigid panels or rolls, reflective insulation reflects radiant heat, making it a viable choice for Arizona homeowners. R-values range from 3.5 to 6. Reflective insulation is one of the more expensive options.

What is an R-value? An R-value is the resistance of heat flow through a given thickness of material. The higher the R-value, the greater the resistance and in turn, your energy savings. An R-value, however, is just one of four key factors you should consider. Wind, humidity, and temperature are all factors that should also be taken into consideration when selecting an insulation material.

#2. Matching Insulation to Your Garage Door

  • Steel garage doors can accommodate most any type of insulation.
  • Wood frame and panel garage doors can accommodate either type of rigid insulation: foam board or reflective insulation. Consider applying two layers.
  • Flat garage doors (those without panels) can accommodate foam board or reflective insulation.

You can purchase any type of insulation at your local home improvement store, for do-it-yourself installation, or contact an experienced insulation contractor for professional installation. If you choose to go the do-it-yourself route then you’ll need a tape measure, straight edge blade, and utility knife.

#3. Apply Weather Stripping

Before installing your chosen insulation, you should first apply weather stripping to the bottom edge of the garage door. With the door in the raised position, simply apply the adhesive side of the weather stripping to the bottom rubber gasket, to seal off the space between the bottom of the door and the floor of the garage.

#4: Measure

We cannot reinforce the importance of measuring your garage door’s panels before shopping for insulation and again during the installation process. Whether you choose boards or rolls, cut the insulation to fit. You can attach insulation to the garage door using liquid nails or fasteners. Fasteners are available in kits.

The 411 On Fiberglass Insulation

fiberglass insulation

Having fiberglass insulation professionally installed is one of most environmentally friendly, not to mention…valuable, things a homeowner can do. This project offers many benefits, such as, the reduction of heating and cooling costs by approximately 30 percent with proper insulation. And, with the reduction of heating/cooling costs, comes monetary savings for you.

According to Remodeling magazine’s Cost vs. Value report for 2016, the fiberglass attic insulation project (new for this year) produced the top return on cost of any of the 30 projects in this year’s report. If you insulated your attic with fiberglass insulation, which costs an average of $1,268, you can expect to receive 116.9 percent or $1,482 of that back at resale.

Fiberglass Insulation

The most common type of insulation, fiberglass is composed of glass, which is used in a wide variety of applications. As an insulator, fiberglass slows the spread of heat, cold, and sound in homes. By trapping pockets of air, it keep rooms warm in the winter and cool in the summer, thereby reducing a home’s energy consumption by up to 40%.

Fiberglass can be installed in various parts of a home’s envelope. It can be pink, yellow, white or green, depending on the manufacturer. Commonly found in blanket form, called batts, it is available in bags containing standard pre-cut lengths and widths. It is also available in loose fill, which is professionally blown into attics, walls and floor cavities.

Fiberglass insulation is available in a wide variety of thickness. Thicker materials offer a higher resistance to heat flow. This resistance is known as an R-value. Common R-values associated with fiberglass are R11 to R19 for flooring, and R30 to R38 for ceilings and attics. The higher the R-value, the more energy efficient the material will be.

Federal Tax Credits

Planning on staying in your home? A federal energy tax credit can help you recoup a percentage of your insulation investment if you complete the improvements by the end of 2016. A tax credit is actually a dollar-for-dollar reduction in taxes equal to 10 percent of the cost of insulation (up to $500). Tax credits do not include installation costs. Click here for more information.

Holiday Fireplace Safety Precautions

holiday fireplace safety precautions

It’s a classic holiday image: family and friends gathered ’round the fireplace on a cold, wintry night, enjoying eggnog and warm baked cookies together. Whether it’s to warm up after a night of caroling, sitting around with family and friends, or cozying up with the kiddos to read ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas; it’s important to follow several fireplace safety precautions to ensure the safety of your loved ones this holiday season.

Precaution #1: Safety Checks

Soot can harden on chimney walls as flammable creosote, which is why it’s so very important for all fireplaces to be thoroughly inspected, and just as thoroughly cleaned by professional before each burning season. An annual chimney cleaning is an important first step in ensuring a safe season of heating, and should be completed at the beginning of the new fall or winter season. Checking the batteries of all fire alarms and carbon monoxide detectors in your home is also advised.

Precaution #2: Tree Placement

When decorating for the holidays, make sure that all decorations including the tree itself, is placed a safe distance from the blazing fire. It takes less than 30 seconds for a tree to engulf into flames – especially a dry one. To minimize risk, place trees and other live greenery at least three feet away from heating sources, such as the fireplace. While artificial trees don’t pose as great a risk, they too should be kept three feet away from heating sources; make sure yours is flame-retardant.

Precaution #3: No Dangling Decorations

When decorating your fireplace mantel for the holiday, keep combustible material (e.g. holiday greenery, ribbons, stockings, etc) safely on or above the mantel, not draping over the edge. One stray ember or spark can far too easily ignite any exposed decorations. You can hang decorations from the mantel on one condition: There’s no fire in the fireplace. Before starting a fire, move your stockings and decorations away from the mantel, as its always better to be safe than sorry.

Precaution #4: Watch the Gifts Too

It is recommended that you keep all holiday gifts a safe distance – a minimum of three feet – from a burning fire. Because most wrapping paper contains additives, it can go up in flames almost instantaneously! In addition to keeping the gifts a safe distance away, you should also refrain from discarding trash in your fireplace, including wrapping paper and boxes. Keep an operable fire extinguisher nearby in the event of accidental fireplace mishaps. Never dispose of your tree or other live greenery by burning it in your fireplace.

The winter holidays, spent with family and friends, should take center stage! Keep your festivities both merry and safe this Holiday by following these simple but important Holiday fireplace safety precautions. From all of us at Banker Insulation, we want to wish you a very happy and safe holiday season!