Preventing Heat Loss in Your Home

heat loss prevention

Heat loss is a surprising issue for many homes – even in Arizona.

For improving efficiency, increasing monetary savings, and helping the environment my personal favorite home improvement efforts are spent on preventing heat loss. Sure, some heat loss prevention methods may require a bit of an investment, but they will be worth their weight in gold when the utility bill comes. Here are some ways to ensure your home stays toasty warm this winter.

Air Seal Your Home

If you feel cold air coming in, there is bound to be heated air, and subsequently your hard earned money escaping from somewhere else. Air leaks, however, can often be tricky to locate. This is why we highly recommend having an insulation contracting firm that uses a “blower test” test your home. The blower creates a negative pressure causing air to come in through all the leaky points. Once properly identified, the leaks can then be sealed.

Insulate Your Attic

Heat – the thermal exchange between two objects – rises causing your heated air to escape through the roof. Older homes are especially vulnerable. Think of attic (or crawlspace) insulation as an extra layer of protection. Adding attic insulation is the single most cost-effective method for reducing your heating bills and ensuring your comfort. For the best results, look for insulation with a high R-value.

Upgrade Your Windows

Windows provide your home with light, warmth, and ventilation but they can also negatively impact a home’s energy efficiency. In fact, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, twenty percent of a home’s heat loss can be accounted for by poorly insulated or single-pane windows. Double-paned windows showcase two panes of glass. The space between the two panes acts as insulation.

Weather Strip Your Windows and Doors

If double-paned windows aren’t in your budget, there is still something you can do to reduce the negative impacts of single-paned windows, as well as other drafty openings (i.e. doors and entrances). Simply placing cost-effective weather stripping and caulk around your windows and doorframes can significantly cut down on wasted energy. Always follow manufacture recommendations to ensure an air-tight fit.

Understanding Heat Transfer

heat transfer

One of the biggest contributors to expensive home energy bills is the heat transfer that occurs as a direct result of insufficient or improper insulation. Heat transfer is the movement of heat from the indoors to outdoors during the winter, and from outdoors to indoors during the summer. Controlling the transfer of heat in and out of your home is an essential first step in reducing your home’s energy use.

Types of Heat Transfer

Heat is transferred to and from an object – in this case: your home – via one of three methods: conduction, radiation, and convection. Understanding how conduction, radiation, and convection work will help you insulate smarter and stop dreading those monthly energy bills. Let’s examine each of these in more detail.

Conduction is the transfer of heat through liquids or gases. On hot days, heat is conducted into your home through the roof, walls, and windows. This results in an increase of energy use. Insulation, energy-efficient windows, and heat-reflecting roofs slow the heat conduction and help maintain a comfortable temperature.

Radiation is the transfer of heat through space in the form of visible and non-visible light. Sunlight is an obvious source of heat for homes. This results in more wear and tear, as well as energy use, on your HVAC system as it attempts to overcome the heat gained. Energy-efficient windows, UV films and screens, and blinds can help block this radiation.

Convection is the third method for heat transfer. Convection affects your home by air infiltration. Convection occurs through all surfaces of the home – walls, floor, roof, windows, and doors. Weatherstripping, caulk, outlet gaskets, and spray foam are key products for ensuring a tight envelope.

Energy Audits

One of the best ways to combat heat transfer is to schedule a comprehensive energy audit, which often includes both a visual inspection and thermal imaging scan. Together these detect cold spots, air leaks and intrusion, energy hogging appliances, and, of course, insufficient amounts of insulation. Consider having an energy audit done if your home is drafty in the winter, and stuffy in the summer, or your energy bills seem excessive.

Ensuring Sufficient Insulation

Ensuring sufficient insulation is important because it resists the flow of heat. Insulation in attic, wall, and floor cavities force the heat to conduct from one insulation fiber to another which slows the passage of heat. Insulation adds to your comfort, increases sound control, creates a healthier home environment, reduces your energy bills, and has a positive impact on the environment.

Recessed Lighting 101

recessed lighting

Recessed lights provide both ambient and task lighting. From bathrooms and kitchens to entry ways and living rooms, recessed lighting looks attractive in just about any area of your home, as long as it’s installed correctly. Also known as pot lighting and canned lighting, these lights are commonly mounted in the ceiling, but can also be mounted in the wall rather than surface mounted.

Available in a wide variety of housing and trim designs, recessed lighting provides functionality, without being aesthetically distracting. One of the best things about recessed lighting is that is that it creates the illusion of more space. Recessed lights give off a soft subtle glow, which blurs the boundaries of the room, making the space appear larger than it actually is.

Since recessed lights are embedded into the ceiling, there are no safety risks associated with dangling cords. Recessed lights that are embedded on the walls, often seen in staircases, provide ample light during the night when visibility is poor. Designed to work in much the same way as a nightlight, staircase lighting comes in handy, as it prevents stair-related accidents from occurring.

To Lay Out Recessed Lighting

  1. Map your ceiling joists and plan to install lights between them.
  2. Need extra light somewhere in your room? This is your starting point. Center the first light over your focal point and space the others around it. For even lighting, plan to have the first can installed in the center, and work from there.
  3. To determine how far apart your lights should be, divide the ceiling height by 2, and space your lights accordingly. For example: a 9 foot ceiling should have recessed lights installed every 4.5 feet apart from one another.
  4. Unless you’re installing lighting in the walls, attempt to avoid placing the ceiling mounted lights to close to the wall to avoid harsh shadows, which will only work to make the room appear smaller.

Choosing a Housing and Trim

  • Make sure it has the correct voltage.
  • Make sure it is IC-rated if in direct contact with insulation.
  • Make sure it is designed for a new construction space if installed before the ceiling or for a remodel if done after construction.
  • Make sure it has the structural features you need: low profile, airtight, sloped, etc.
  • Make sure the trim you choose is aesthetically pleasing. Recessed lighting trim comes in a wide variety of popular styles including adjustable, baffle, glass, pinhole, reflector, square, wall wash, and more.

The Importance of Air Sealing


air sealing

{Source: Energy,gov}

Leaks can be a significant source of wasted energy and money. Found in almost every home are the cracks, gaps, and holes that allow the air you just paid to heat or cool to escape far too easily. A relatively easy, do-it-yourself way to increase your home’s energy efficiency is air sealing.

Air sealing is also quite cost effective – as long as you know what areas to attack with the caulk gun or insulating foam. A home energy assessment can accurately pinpoint these areas, assess your home’s energy consumption,  and recommend ways to improve its energy efficiency.

While a professional home energy assessment will provide you with the most accurate results, you can conduct your own assessment by carefully walking through your home, with a handy flashlight at your side. This will allow you to spot many of the area’s in requirement of air sealing.

Leaks can be sealed with caulk, spray foam, and weather stripping depending on the problem area. When done correctly, air sealing has the potential to reduce your energy bills, increase your home’s indoor air quality, and decrease your chances for dealing with mold and rot.

Where You’re Losing the Most Air

  • Ceiling, walls & floors = 31%
  • Ducts = 15%
  • Fireplace = 14%
  • Plumbing penetrations = 13%
  • Doors = 11%
  • Windows = 10%
  • Fans and vents = 4%
  • Electrical outlets = 2%

If you didn’t know the importance of targeting these areas first, you do now! Especially since each and every one of these air leaks can cause a number of problems such as mold, drafts, and heat loss. Information source: U.S. Department of Energy.

Do-It-Yourself Air Sealing

Fireplaces: Fireplaces are notorious for drafting a lot of heated or conditioned air out of homes. Make sure you have a tight-fitting damper that opens and closes properly. Pinterest has some great ideas for DIY insulated fireplace screens.

Windows & Doors: Caulking and weather-stripping goes a long way towards combating leaky windows and doors. Using low-expansion foam, insulate around the frames of your doors and windows, and caulk where the drywall and trim intersect.

Outlets & Switches: Turn power off at the circuit breaker before proceeding. Remove face plates. Place stick-on foam outlet sealers around the outlet/switch. For best results, carefully apply spray foam around the junction box’s exterior.

Pipes & Ductwork: Use low-expansion foam or caulk to seal any wall penetrations due to pipe or duct-work. Seal all duct joints and seams using the same materials. You can also tape them. Wrap hot and cold water pipes with insulation.

New Home Energy Efficiency

new home energy efficiency

Step #1: Invest in a Home Energy Audit

Before you can make or increase your new home energy efficiency, it’s important to arm yourself with as much information as possible, so that you know and understand where you correctly stand.

To learn more about how a home energy audit can help you, please click here.

An energy audit, which is completed by a highly experienced energy auditor, is used to evaluate your home’s energy use. You will receive recommendations for cost-effective measures to improve your home’s comfort and efficiency upon the audit’s completion.

Step #2: Properly Air Seal Your Home

Adding new or additional insulation to your ceilings, attic and/or walls along with locating and treating any holes or gaps throughout your home will prevent your hard earned money from flying out the windows (so to speak).

Adequate levels of insulation slows the rate that heat flows out of your home in the winter or into the house in the summer. This allows you to reduce the amount of energy required to heat and/or cool your home throughout the year; thus saving you money.

Step #3: Purchase a Programmable Thermostat

One of the easiest methods for saving money on your new home’s monthly utility bills, which is also very cost-effective, is to simply purchase and install a programmable thermostat. For it to work properly, you will also need to ensure you’re using it correctly.

The Department of Energy estimates that by dropping the temperature in your home in the winter and increasing it in the summer by 10 to 15 degrees (depending on time of day and your preferences) for eight hour stretches you can save up to 15 percent annually.

Step #4: Change Your HVAC Air Filters Regularly

Are your air filters clogged? Energy Star recommends changing your air filter every month – or every three months if you invest in HEPA quality air filters – especially during the winter and summer months as more demand is placed on your HVAC system.

The benefits behind this small action go far beyond increasing your energy efficiency as you will also extend the life of your HVAC system, maintain a healthy level of indoor air quality and keep your entire heating and cooling system free from excess debris.

Step #5: Replace Traditional Light Bulbs Throughout

Compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) use three-quarters less electricity than that of traditional incandescent light bulbs. While these light bulbs are a bit more expensive than incandescent, they last longer (10,000 vs. 1,000 hours) and use less watts, which makes them a worthwhile expenditure.

Considering the fact that lighting can account for up to 25 percent of your home’s energy costs, there’s never been a better time to make the switch from traditional incandescent light bulbs to compact fluorescent lamps or even light-emitting diode bulbs (LEDs); your preference.

Weatherization Assistance Programs

weatherization assistance programs

Weatherization assistance programs are designed to help low-income families and individuals decrease their monthly home energy costs. These programs additionally help educate those benefiting from it to be more attentive of any health and safety related issues in the home.

General Requirements of Weatherization Assistance Programs

In order to qualify for this program, you must be a resident of the state of Arizona, and your household’s annual income before taxes must not exceed the following:

  • $23,340 if one person lives in the household
  • $31,460 if two people live in the household
  • $39,580 if three people live in the household
  • $47,700 if four people live in the household
  • $55,280 if five people live in the household
  • $63,940 if six people live in the household
  • $72,060 if seven people live in the household
  • $80,180 if eight people live in the household

For households greater than 8 people, add $8,120 per additional person.

Program Description

The weatherization assistance program, administered at the community based local level (not state level), is funded annually by the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Since the program’s inception in 1977, more than seven million of Arizona’s low-income families/individuals have benefited from the weatherization assistance program. This has cut kWh in Arizona by 126,834,658 and counting. The program also aids in reducing emissions.

It is currently available to all low-income families and individuals – even renters (with landlord’s approval). For information on applying, please click here. Many utility companies also provide their own form of assistance to eligible families/individuals.

What Can Be Done?

  • Adding thermal insulation to the residential building envelope (most typically in the form of attic insulation).
  • Shading sun-exposed windows, primarily for houses using central refrigeration cooling.
  • Implementing air leak control measures to reduce excessive infiltration of outside air.
  • Testing, tuning and maintaining heating and cooling equipment.
  • Reducing duct leakage where heating and central refrigerated is distributed by a forced air system.
  • Installing low-flow showerheads and other general energy and water efficiency measures.
  • Other energy conservation improvements as identified by the home energy auditor.

Upgraded Home Energy Audits

home energy audits

{Image Source:}

In 2007, Google deployed a fleet of vehicles with roof-mounted cameras, which allowed them to provide its “Maps” users with detailed street-level images of neighborhood roadways around the world.

The concept of using vehicles equipped with cameras paved the way for a revolutionary startup company by the name of Essess to recently unleash a fleet of vehicles with roof-mounted thermal imaging cameras that create accurate heat assessments of homes and buildings.

Founded in 2011, the company has assessed more than 4 million homes and buildings in cities across the United States, in order to curb excessive energy loss; which is something we all know accounts for wasted dollars.

Not Your Average Home Energy Audits

Traditional home energy audits, which are typically offered by many power companies, are comprised of a visual inspection that identifies energy hogging appliances, leaky windows, doors and air ducts, as well as missing insulation materials and more.

A drive-by energy audit, however, utilizes a high-tech method that focuses on a building’s envelope in order to provide utility companies with a lot of information about thousands of homes in the time it takes to complete one home. Information received is said to very specific for each home analyzed.

Potential clients will be presented with detailed information regarding any leaking windows or doors, faulty air ducts, areas lacking the recommended amount of insulation materials for that size home, and other useful information so that they can make an informed decision.

Efficiently Saving You Money

Taking the necessary steps to curb any energy loss within your home can save you as much as $600 a year according to U.S. Department of Energy – this is not accounting for the many federal tax credits that may be available to you. For more information on available energy efficiency tax credits, click here.

Hiring an Insulation Contractor?

insulation contractor

Insulation is a wonderful thing which is virtually invisible to most homeowners as it is hidden in wall cavities, attics and basements, as well as garage doors. Unless, of course, they search it out. Insulation provides a basis for warmth, comfort, and efficiency.

Speaking of efficiency, insulation can provide homeowners with the means to reduce their energy bills by up to 25% in the summer months, and almost 50% in the winter months.* All they have to do is upgrade or retrofit their homes with the proper levels of insulating materials.

To receive all of the benefits that insulation can provide homeowners, and everyone else that has a vested interest in homes such as home builders, should refrain from shopping for the best price when it comes to finding an insulation contractor.

While you will find that insulation materials are virtually the same from one insulation provider to the next, the same principal certainly does not hold true regarding insulation contractors, as no two contractors are ever the same. Allow us to explain why in further detail below.

Let’s say you go to craigslist in search of a reliable, yet extremely affordable insulation contractor (or any contractor for that matter), which I’m sure there are many. After receiving three estimates (I hope), you decide to go with the cheapest contractor, which means you also have to buy all materials yourself.

Now, please don’t get me wrong, you may very well wind up with a contractor that provides exemplary service. But if you do, you should definitely count your lucky stars, as this is typically not the case. Why? Simply because labor costs are higher the more experienced the contractor becomes.

With experience come higher overhead costs such as insurance and contractor licensing fees – just to name a couple. This is something that can be applied to any occupation, not just in the construction industry. Those with under one year of experience generally don’t carry insurance nor are they licensed.

In light of the above, you’re simply better off hiring one of our insulation contractors, as we at Banker Insulation only hire those with years of experience. And, with 37 years of industry experience, you can rest assured that we have the proper insurance and licenses.

*Source: U.S. Department of Energy

Winter Home Improvement Tips

winter home improvement tips

{Image Source: Wiki}

With the Christmas holiday just a few short days away, now’s the time to ensure you’re not spending more than you have to only those monthly winter energy bills, simply by following some of the most common winter home improvement tips which we have kindly listed below.

Tried and True Winter Home Improvement Tips


I don’t mean holiday gifts! Keeping your water hot is full-time job for even the most efficient water heaters. Keep your water toasty warm and reduce some of the expense associated with running your water heater non-stop by insulating it in a cozy insulating blanket. The same principal holds true for your home’s hot water pipes.


Give drafts the boot! Using some top-quality caulking material simply patch up those areas within your home that no longer keep air and moisture out. This typically includes your home’s windows and doors as well as holes around your electrical outlets. As an added bonus it’ll also keep unwanted rodents and other critters from entering your home.


One component that is sure to cause trouble is none other than your plumbing system – especially in those areas prone to freezing temperatures like Flagstaff, Arizona. Avoid freezing pipes and emergency repair costs by allowing some water to flow from your pipes as this will prevent them from bursting due to the pressure associated with standing water.


No place is off-limits when placing area rugs all through the house! Besides providing comfort and beauty, areas rugs are the perfect DIY solution for insulating warmth. Available in many different shapes and sizes, you can place areas rugs on virtually any surface including concrete, tile, wood and already carpeted floors.


Make your home warmer, while reducing your winter heating bills, by properly insulating those areas within your home that may be lacking an efficient level of this material. Insulation can be added to your home’s attic, crawl space, garage and basement. If you’re having your home built or remodeled, then you may also want to look into insulating your exterior walls.

From your friends at Banker Insulation!

From your friends at Banker Insulation!

High Winter Heating Bills? Fight Back with Insulation!

high winter heating bills

As children, we were often told by our parents to “put a hat and jacket on,” prior to being allowed to go out and play with all of our friends. For those of us that were, let’s just say a little rebellious; well we most definitely paid the price for not listening to our parent’s advice when we suddenly came down with a case of the sniffles.

Today, as adults and maybe even parents ourselves, we know that our parents only had our best interests at heart. Especially considering that most, if not all, of our body heat is lost from our heads. Much like putting on our warm jackets and hats, ensuring our homes are properly insulated is a very important step in our desire to fight back against high winter heating bills.

High Winter Heating Bills? Insulation is Key!

In Your Attic Space

The largest opportunity to increase your comfort, save energy, control moisture, and save money on nightmarish utility bills can be found in your attic space. Adding the proper levels of insulation to this space tends to be quite cumbersome; not to mention messy. That said this is one project that may be best left to the professionals in order for you to reap all of its benefits.

In Your Home’s Foundation

In addition to reducing your home’s heating and cooling costs, a properly insulated foundation will afford you increased comfort in the first floor of your home and/or in basement rooms, as well as providing you with a good defense against the following:

  • Insect infestations
  • Moisture problems
  • Radon infiltration

Insulating your home’s foundation is a process that should be done during construction of your home. It is preferable that you speak with a local Banker Insulation representative regarding the proper foundation insulation materials if you’re planning on having a new home built.

In Your Exterior Walls

For a significant level of air sealing, and comfort levels, you may want to give serious thought about having a professional insulation contractor fill all of your home’s exterior walls with blow-in or spray foam insulation materials. You will also want to consider R-values, as higher R-values yield better insulating results, thus insulating your wallet even more.