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: energy.gov}

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

WRAP IT UP

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.

SEAL IT UP

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.

KEEP IT FLOWING

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.

RUGS ALL THROUGH THE HOUSE

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.

INSULATE THOSE AREAS OF YOUR HOME LACKING

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.

Create Halloween Tombstones Using Insulation

halloween tombstonesIf you really want to make your Halloween decorations the talk of the graveyard, without breaking the bank, you can fill your cemetery with realistic all-weather headstones that were handcrafted by no one other than you of course.

Best of all, you can create multiple headstones, all for the price of what you would pay for one. Here we discuss the materials you will need as well as all the directions required to craft your stones.

Materials Needed:

  • Styrofoam Insulation
  • Serrated Bread Knife
  • Paring Knife
  • Permanent Markers
  • Black Spray Paint
  • Wire hangers

Directions for Halloween Tombstones:

Step #1: Using a five gallon bucket lid, or other large rounded object, sketch out an outline for as many tombstones you would like to make. To make cutting out a much simpler project, keep your shapes simple.

Step #2: Cut foam along sketched outline using a serrated bread knife. If you’re anything like me, you may want to take this outside, since it tends to get rather messy. Use caution with the knife at all times.

Step #3: Grab your permanent marker because here’s the fun part. Now sketch out whatever you want your newly manufactured tombstone to say. It could be anything you want (just remember you’re the one cutting out the words).

Step #4: Using a serrated paring knife carve out your sketched stone’s design. Again remember to use caution when using a knife. Scratch knife point into the insulation and carve at a depth of 1/2 inch for maximum effect.

Step #5: (Optional) Break off tiny pieces along the stone or carve out small cracks to give your stone an “aged” look. Don’t worry about making mistakes, simply work those mistakes into your design.

Step #6: Working in a well-ventilated area use your black spray paint to dust on the color. There’s no need to be precise. Random sprays will provide you with a more realistic look.

Step #7: Set the scene! Secure your handcrafted tombstones to the ground by using wire hangers as stakes. Simply cut out enough wire and stretch along the length of the stone. Wooden garden stakes work just as well.

Contact Banker Insulation for all of your insulation needs including for your DIY Tombstones by calling us at (602) 273-1261. We look forward to helping your make your Halloween decorations the talk of the town. Happy Halloween!

What is the R-Value and It’s Importance in Insulation?

insulation jobWhether you are purchasing insulation for your home on your own or you are hiring a professional insulation company like Banker Insulation, it is important to consider the R-Value. There are more than a few factors to help select the right insulation for the home and the R-Value is a factor that is used in the construction industry and is a reliable factor in choosing the right insulation. The R-Value is a measure of the resistance of heat flow through a structure. Since insulation is primarily meant to stop the movement of heat, and if you remember learning in school that heat rises, it is important to install the appropriate insulation for the heat movement and temperature conditions in each area being insulated.

The R-Value is determined by dividing the U-factor (how the resistance to heat transfer was measured before the 40’s) by 1. So, the higher the number of the R-Value, the better the insulation will be.  Although not every area in a home will need to be insulated with the highest R-Value because not every room is affected by heat in the same way. There are factors that need to be considered for each specific area, such as:

  • The location of where you live will affect the R-Value of the insulation. For example, in colder climates, you would need insulation with a higher R-Value and you will need a lower R-Value in warmer climates.
  • The way the home was built is a factor to consider because not all homes are created equally. Structures like an attic, cathedral ceilings, and/or multi-level structure are factors that must be considered when determining the right insulation for the home.
  • Last factor to consider is the heating/cooling method of the home. Having a central air conditioner, heat pump, or furnace will make a huge impact on the insulation needed for the home.

insulation jobIn conclusion, insulating your home can be beneficial and can even help to improve energy bills but the task of finding the right insulation for each area can be somewhat time-consuming for the owner. Our recommendation is to call your local Insulation Company Experts! If needed, the technicians will be able to perform an energy audit to better asset the home.

At Banker Insulation, we provide our Insulation Services in the Phoenix area and are highly qualified to correctly insulate a home or office building. Give us a call today at (602) 273-1261 for more information About Us.

Insulate Your Building Properly for Lower Energy Costs This Summer

Home Insulation

 

With the summer temperatures soaring over 105 degrees in Phoenix every day this month, it is very important to insulate your home or office properly.  Without proper insulation, your energy bills could skyrocket!  It’s very important to use the right type of insulation for your home or office building.  The experts at Banker Insulation are highly qualified to help you make the right choices for your location.  Call (602) 273-1261 or visit Banker Insulation on the web for more information.