Category Archives: Attic Insulation

the advantages of attic insulation

The Advantages of Attic Insulation

Homes throughout the Pacific Northwest date back to the late 1800s. Many earlier homes were insulated using materials, such as newspaper and corn cobs, while others lacked any insulation. Neither of these factors would meet today’s energy standards! To make your home more energy efficient, air sealing and insulation is recommended.

The fact is that upgrading to current ENERGY STAR recommendations reduces one of the biggest energy expenditures facing your home: Heating and cooling. For Washington, which ENERGY STAR classifies as Zone 4, add R38 to R60 insulative materials to reap the advantages of attic insulation.

Advantages of Attic Insulation

  • Increased comfort
  • Reduced noise pollution
  • Easier to maintain temps
  • Lower heating and cooling costs
  • Helps to extend the life of HVAC equipment
  • Quick returns on investment when professionally installed

Deciding What Insulation Type is Best

There are two main types of insulation used in an attic: Blown-in and spray polyurethane foam (SPF). Both require professional installation. Special equipment and safety measures must always be adhered to. Fiberglass and cellulose are the two most popular materials for blown-in. Inch for inch, they provide affordable R-values and heat retention. Cellulose also provides a dense, effective barrier against moist air leakage.

The other type of insulation, spray polyurethane foam is available as open-cell or closed-cell. SPF offers stellar thermal performance. Once applied, it quickly expands, effectively filling the most minuscule gap or crack. Here’s looking at you nail holes! This type of insulation can be used in roofing and interior wall cavities. It is also good for adding thermal resistance to irregularly shaped areas.

Professional Attic Insulation

The performance of insulation is largely dependent on proper installation. The recommended strategy here is to hire a licensed insulation contractor. Carrig and Dancer has been providing residential and commercial insulation services throughout Washington since 1982. Other services offered include soundproofing and replacement windows. Contact us today at (253) 584-7704 to learn more about our services.

Emerging Technologies for Energy Savings

emerging technologies

In 2016, as told by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), the energy produced in the United States was about equal to the amount consumed by residential and commercial sectors. Per person, total U.S. energy consumption was approximately 301 million Btus., although energy consumption varies depending on the climate where we live and the types and numbers of energy consuming devices we use (EIA, 2016). For example, residents of the Southwest states such as Arizona, California and New Mexico, often use the most energy to cool their homes during the summer.

In recent years, however, using energy more efficiently has become an important priority for residents, businesses, and governmental agencies alike. In fact, many states have adopted policies to encourage energy efficiency; Washington included. Homeowners are making energy efficient improvements by installing ENERGY STAR certified equipment and insulation with high R-values. New technologies designed for energy savings are also beginning to emerge. Here are just two of the emerging technologies we can look forward to soon, but in the meantime, there are many things you can do save energy.

Smart Windows

First there were smartphones, then came smart speakers, and now smart windows. Researchers at Princeton University have developed a futuristic smart window that has the potential to reduce energy costs by up to 40 percent. According to Science Daily, “the self-powered smart window controls the amount of visible light and infrared heat into the building, while the new type of solar cell uses near-UV light to power the window.” The technology promises to be inexpensive and easy to apply to existing windows. Researchers hope that once installed, users will be able to control the amount of sunlight entering their homes, and thereby improving energy efficiency, comfort and privacy via an app.

R25 Insulating Materials

Insulation can greatly reduce your heating and cooling costs. Other advantages include absorbing emitted sounds and controlling humidity. The Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and Building Technologies Office (BTO) is developing two-inch thick polyisocyanurate board insulation with modified atmosphere insulation (MAI) cores that have an R-value of 25 (R12/inch). According to the U.S. Department of Energy, “these panels have the potential to pay for themselves from energy savings within 10 years, while saving more than one percent of all of the energy used in the U.S. today.” This insulation would be beneficial for both residential and commercial applications.

Best Energy Efficient Improvements

energy efficient improvements

The average household spends $2,000 to power a 1,971-square foot home per year. Decrease your monthly expenditures by investing in energy efficient improvements that will pay off over time in reduced energy bills. Making energy efficient improvements is a great way to improve occupant comfort and reduce your carbon footprint, as well.

Because each home is different, how much you save depends on many variables, including the age and design of your home and the project’s total cost. Some of the best energy efficient improvements you can make are also the easiest (e.g., sealing air leaks, installing attic insulation, setting a programmable thermostat, etc.).

Here’s a closer look at some of the best energy efficient improvements.

Caulk and seal air leaks. Sealing uncontrolled air leaks is a cost-effective way to save up to 20% off your annual heating and cooling bills. Buy some caulk (don’t forget the caulk gun) and weatherstripping from your local home improvement or hardware store to seal around:

  • Recessed lighting
  • Plumbing lines
  • Electric wires
  • Crawlspaces
  • Windows
  • Doors

Hire a professional to install attic insulation. Adding attic insulation reduces energy demand, improves the comfort of your home, and saves you money. Consult a professional insulation company to determine whether you need insulation and, if you do, how much. There are several types of insulating materials available, including loose-fill, rolls and batts, rigid foam, and spray foam.

Install a programmable thermostat. Nearly half of the average home’s utility bill goes towards heating and cooling. With a programmable thermostat, you can set the temperature to different, desirable levels during set times/days throughout the week. This, along with turning back your thermostat 7-10 degrees for eight hours a day, can save you up to $83 per year.

Lower water heating temperature; insulate the tank. Set your water heater temperature to a comfortable 120 degrees – not the 140 degrees most are set out of the box. Additionally, if the hot water heater is warm to the touch, wrap it in insulating material to save on heat loss. Combined, these improvements can save you up to $38 per year in water heating costs.

Install exterior low-e storm windows. Installing low-e storm windows will lower your annual energy bill as much as 33% while keeping your home warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Investing in new windows provides other advantages, as well, such as looking good and increasing the value of your home. In fact, according to Remodeling Magazine’s Cost vs Value Report for 2018, upscale window replacement has a 74.3% return on investment.

Switch to LEDs. Replace your home’s five most frequently used light fixtures or bulbs with ENERGY STAR certified models to save up to $75 per year, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. LEDs are available in a variety of shapes and sizes for any application, last 15 times longer, and are environmentally-friendly. They can also be purchased as a smart bulb, which are designed to make any light fixture, smart.

Use a surge protector for consumer electronics. The average household plugs in more and more electronics each year. The energy consumed by all these gadgets can add up to nearly 10% of your home’s monthly electricity bill. The problem is that many electronics continue to draw power even when they’re turned “off.” Plugging your electronics into a surge protector that you power off at night can save you up to $100 annually.

Fall Home Maintenance Checklist

fall home maintenance

With the arrival of chillier days, football watching and pumpkin everything, it’s time to think about getting your home ready for the winter months ahead. Check these easy to do tasks off your fall home maintenance checklist starting today.

Interior Fall Home Maintenance:

Conduct an energy audit. Through visual inspection and thermal imaging, a certified auditor can assess your home’s current energy efficiency. They will also provide you a list of recommended improvements you can make, such as upgrading to ENERGY STAR appliances, adding insulation to the attic or sealing air leaks.

Seal air leaks. While it’s well-known that homes require adequate levels of insulation to mitigate heat loss through your home’s walls, ceilings and floors, the concept of air sealing is often less understood. Air leaks can be found around windows, doors, attics, lighting fixtures, outlet, and vents. Some measures you can do include:

  • Caulking around windows and doors
  • Installing foam gaskets behind outlet and switch plates
  • Installing weatherstripping around windows and doors (include the garage door)
  • Replacing door bottoms (thresholds) with those that feature pliable gaskets

Declutter closets and garage. Free your closets and/or garage of things you rarely use or items that have lost their novelty once and for all this fall. When it comes to decluttering these spaces, it’s important to have a game plan in mind, and to set up organizational systems that are sure to eliminate clutter.

Start by sorting all contents of these spaces into three piles; toss, donate/sell, and keep. It’s a great idea to increase shelving and use bins in the closets. In the garage, install wall and overhead storage. Items infrequently used, such as holiday decorations and camping gear, should be stored further away than those you use more often.

Install a programmable thermostat. Save on home heating and cooling expenses with a programmable thermostat. For as low as $40, programmable thermostats allow you to set different temperatures for different times of the day. You can do the same on the weekends. That way your air conditioner or furnace isn’t running all day, costing you money when the house is unoccupied.

Replace furnace filters. This easy task allows your HVAC system to operate more efficiently, ensuring better heat distribution. Use high-efficiency filters labeled with a MERV (minimum efficiency reporting value) rating of 11 or 12. This is a job you should do every two months anyway, but if you haven’t, now’s the time.

Schedule heating system maintenance. Making sure your furnace is cleaned, maintained, and in working order before you need to turn on the heat will save you money on energy and prolong system life. Annual servicing of your heating system is affordable – typically less than $100.

Exterior Fall Home Maintenance:

De-gunk your gutters. Once most of the leaves have fallen, clean out gutters and downspouts. Clogged gutters during rainstorms can cause water to pool, causing damage to your roof, siding or foundation. You can hire a professional for this project or do it yourself. Either way, make sure the gutters are not sagging, and that all brackets are tightened.

Trim tree branches. Fall is a good time to trim tree branches, when dormancy has set in. It’s a good idea to trim branches back 8-10 feet away from your home, so they don’t damage your roofing or siding in windy conditions, cause moisture problems or make it easy for rodents to sneak into your house and raid your pantry. Always use clean landscaping trimmers to prevent the spread of disease.

Stock up on winter supplies. If you live in an area of the state that experiences blistering cold, snowy winters, it’s a good idea to stock up on some essentials in the fall. Some things you can include:

  • Pack emergency kits for both your home and car
  • If needed, pick up a bag, or two of pet and plant safe ice melt
  • Check the condition of snow shovels, ice scrapers, and sleds; replace as needed

5 Simple Ways to Soundproof Your Home

soundproof

Because we all deserve a little peace and quiet.

Noise – there is no escaping it. Whether it is the result of noisy neighbors above you, music blaring, an airplane passing overhead or honking cars outside, there is nothing more irritating to the senses than unwanted noise. Unwanted noise that can have far reaching consequences according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

In fact, any unwanted noise that our ears haven’t been trained to filter out can mess with our sleep, add to our stress, infringe on our privacy, and generally compromise our quality of life. Fortunately, there are a number of soundproofing initiatives you can take alleviate the problem, which don’t require you to go through the expense of remodeling your home.

Here are 5 simple ways to soundproof your home:

#1. Add Insulation

Adding insulation is one of the most effective ways to keep unwanted noise out. Good candidates for additional insulation include the ceilings, walls and attic. Blown-in cellulose is an effective sound insulator. Made from recycled paper or denim, it contains no VOCs, is fire-resistant and environmentally friendly, too. Rigid foam board insulation is another good choice.

#2. Upgrade Your Windows

In terms of blocking sound, the windows in your home probably aren’t cutting it; especially if you’re still rocking single pane glass. Your monthly heating and cooling costs may also be higher than they should be. Replacing old, inefficient windows with double pane offers much more in the way of energy efficiency and noise reduction, without paying a premium for triple pane windows.

#3. Apply Weatherstripping

There are many low-cost ways to soundproof your home. One of the easiest: weatherstripping each window and door in your home. Weatherstrip all points where sash meets jambs, headers and sills, using adhesive-backed high-density foam tape. Fill tiny cracks or gaps with an acoustical caulk sealant. Replacing hollow-core entry doors with solid-core will also help quiet outside noise.

#4. Hang Sound-absorbing Curtains

The same materials used to decorate your home can help absorb a great deal of sound, as well as stop the transmission of outdoor sounds, and keep the sun out of your rooms. Look for tightly-woven, heavy materials such as velvets, embroidered brocade and wools or blackout curtains with built-in liners. To maximize the sound reduction, make sure they cover the wall above and below your window too.

#5. Try – Duct Wrap

Your plumbing also contributes to noise. Water running through pipes is unavoidable, but by insulating those pipes, you can cut associated sounds in half. The same is true for air ducts. Apply duct wrap to all joints before wrapping them with insulation. Use foil-backed insulation with a minimum R-value (thermal resistance rating) of 6. You can also apply this combo to your home’s water heater.

Attic Insulation How To

 

attic insulation

Heating and cooling accounts for more than half of the energy consumed in an average home. Because heat rises, an attic lacking adequate insulation could be costing you big bucks, as evidenced by high utility bills. Taking steps to combat high utility bills is good for the environment, good for you, and good for your wallet. The following is an attic insulation how to.

How much does attic insulation cost?

According to this year’s Cost vs. Value report, which compares the average cost of 29 popular home improvement projects with the value those projects retain at resale in 99 U.S. markets, hiring a contractor to install insulation in your attic will cost $1,343. On the upside, you will see a 107.7% return on investment (ROI), should you ever decide to sell or refinance your home. In addition, you may qualify to receive a federal tax credit of 10% of the cost, up to $500.

How much material will I need?

That depends. Insulation levels are specified by R-value. R-value is a measure of an insulation material’s ability to resist heat flow. Higher R-values are required in colder areas, whereas, R-38 is the recommended value for temperate and hotter climates. Take a look at ENERGY STAR’s recommended home insulation R-values guidelines for more information. Keep in mind that R-values vary depending on material.

Armed with this information, you will then want to measure the length and width of your attic to determine how many square feet of insulation you’ll need. To complete this job, you may also need other materials, such as silicone caulk, metal flashing, and weatherstripping as it is important to first seal off any existing air leaks or drafts. Sealing off these leaks will provide benefits for years to come.

Tips for Working in the Attic

  • Have a plan in place. The key to any successful project – especially a project of this magnitude – is adequate planning. Before beginning, gather all necessary tools and supplies, including a flashlight. You’ll also want to ensure the area is well-lit by using a work light.
  • Protect yourself. Insulation can be itchy and irritating to the skin, as well as harmful to the lungs, which is why it’s important to wear the proper gear to protect yourself. We recommend wearing safety googles, work gloves, a face mask, and a lightweight disposable coverall in addition to using knee pads.

3 Steps to an Insulated Attic

Step 1: Seal Air Leaks

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends that you or a professional air seal your attic before insulating it. There are many benefits to air sealing including reducing heating and cooling costs, improving durability, increasing comfort, and creating a healthier indoor environment. Caulking and weatherstripping are two effective air sealing techniques that offer quick returns on investment.

Step 2: Choose Your Insulation

Loose Fill Insulation – No one says you have to use the same type of insulation that currently exists in your attic when adding additional material. You can easily use loose fill on top of fiberglass batts or blankets. If you choose to use loose fill insulation, it may be in your best interest to hire a professional. This type of material requires specialized machines and techniques.

Batt Insulation – Laying fiberglass rolls is an easy to moderate do-it-yourself project. Sold in various widths, this type of insulation is designed to fit easily within most typical joists, although layering is required to get the proper R-value for your zone. When laying down additional insulation work from the perimeter, out, moving towards the attic opening. Never lay insulation over recessed light fixtures or soffit vents.

Step 3: Create Barriers

No matter the material, if you’re installing insulation near recessed lights or soffit vents, you’ll want to use sheet metal or wire mesh to help create a barrier. Insulation and recessed light fixtures do not mix! Some recessed lights, however, are designed for “insulation contact” or “IC,” in which case no barrier is required. Check the fixture first before installing insulation.

Keeping Warm with Attic Insulation

attic insulation

Would you like to save on home energy costs?

By adding attic insulation, you are provided with some of the largest opportunities to save energy in your home, as well as maintain a comfortable temperature throughout much more efficiently. Whether it is summer or winter, adding attic insulation makes your house a lot more livable, while saving you some much needed dough.

Best of all, according to Remodeling magazine’s 2016 Cost vs. Value report, adding attic insulation is the #1 home improvement project with the best return on investment (ROI). In fact, attic insulation was the only home improvement project to provide over a 100% return on investment, recouping you 116.9%.

There are also several tax credits you should be aware of. According to ENERGY STAR, typical bulk insulation products like those mentioned below, qualify for a federal tax credit amount of 10% of the cost; up to $500. This tax credit is available for purchases made in 2016, as well as retroactive to purchases made in 2015.

  • Blown-in Insulation: Loose cellulose or fiberglass insulation that is professionally blown into a wall cavity or attic using a commercial-grade insulation blower.
  • Roll and Batt Insulation: Composed of mineral materials or fiberglass, this type of insulation provides some of the best R-values per inch.
  • Expanding Spray Foam Insulation: Expandable spray foam is best suited for insulating wall cavities, ceiling, and roof-deck applications.
  • Rigid Foam Insulation: Consists of high density foam, mineral or fiberglass boards that are commonly used in cathedral ceilings and exterior walls as well as attics.

Products that reduce air leaks such as weather stripping, canned spray foam, caulk designed specifically for air sealing, and house wrap may also qualify for these tax credits as long as they come with a Manufacturers Certification Statement. Professional installation costs are NOT included.

Should I Invest in Attic Insulation?

If your home experiences any of the following symptoms, you may want to consider adding adequate levels of insulation to your home’s attic space, along with its interior walls, floors, and crawl spaces. Note that the EPA recommends air sealing the attic using any one of the aforementioned products before adding insulation.

  • Drafty rooms.
  • Hot or cold ceilings or walls.
  • High heating or cooling costs.
  • Uneven temperatures between rooms.
  • Ice dams in the winter (where applicable).

Determining Proper Insulation R-Values

Understanding an insulation material’s R-value – a measure of how well it resists the flow of heat – is very important. The higher the number, the better the insulating power, and the more energy you will save. If your home is not properly insulated, you are likely paying more than you should be for home energy.

Recommended R-values are 30 to 60 for most attic spaces, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, with R-38 (or about 12 to 15 inches, depending on material type) being considered the “sweet spot.” In colder climates, go for R-49. For insulation recommendations tailored to your home, visit the DOE’s Home Energy Saver Tool.

Professional Installation by Carrig & Dancer

As a locally owned and operated insulation contractor, servicing Washington State, we take great pride in all aspects of what we do. We specialize in both residential and commercial insulation installs. No job is ever too big or small for us to handle. Call us today at (253) 584-7704 for a free in-home estimate.

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

reduce energy expenses

While Washington residents might have to deal with rising temperatures in the summer, that doesn’t necessarily mean they have to deal with rising energy bills, or sacrifice their comfort. Here are a number of ways to reduce energy expenses in your Washington home this summer.

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.

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 often 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 Washington offer assorted conservation 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.