Category Archives: Cost vs. Value

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.

Spring Cleaning for Energy Efficiency

spring cleaning

Today, March 20th, marks the first day of spring! For many that means giving the house, apartment or yes, even the office a good cleaning. Spring, however, is also a great time to adopt a spring cleaning for energy efficiency routine. Small changes like these can make a BIG difference in your home’s energy consumption, comfort, and cost.

Change air filters every three months – Routinely replacing or cleaning your air filters will not only keep your air cleaner, but can lower your HVAC equipment’s energy consumption by up to 15 percent, per the U.S. Department of Energy. Look for healthy living or hypoallergenic filters as these will help increase your indoor air quality.

Reduce water heater temperature – One good way to control energy costs is to reduce the temperature on your water heater. It’s a fact. Turning down the temperature 10˚F can save you 3 to 5 percent on energy costs. Double that if you lower it from 140˚F to 120˚F (this is an adequate spring/summer temperature).

Redirect ceiling fans – Air conditioning is often a homeowners’ biggest expense – especially in the summer. One way to get more out of your air conditioner, but still pay less is to take advantage of your home’s ceiling fans by directing them to circulate counterclockwise; forcing cool air down rather than up.

Seal air leaks – Nobody likes a drafty home, no matter what the season. Sealing your home of air leaks keeps the cool air in, the warm air out, and the cash in your wallet while increasing home comfort. Caulking and weatherstripping are two simple and effective air sealing techniques.

Check your insulation levels – Inadequate levels of insulation can result in abnormally high energy bills. If you’re not sure why your bill is so high, check your current insulation levels. Per this year’s Cost vs. Value report, adding fiberglass insulation to your attic has an average return on investment of 107.7%.

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.

The Advantages of Fiberglass Insulation

fiberglass insulation

Fiberglass insulation, professionally installed, is one of the most environmentally friendly, not to mention…valuable, things a homeowner can do for both their home and their wallet. This project offers many advantages: reduced heating and cooling costs, monetary savings, tax credits, and increased property values. Each of which we discuss in further detail below.

Increased Property Values

Remodeling magazine’s Cost vs. Value report for 2016, now in its fourteenth year, compares the cost of 30 popular remodeling projects in 100 metro markets with the value those projects retain at resale. New to the Cost vs. Value report, fiberglass attic insulation projects produced the biggest return on investment, with a midrange project netting you a whopping 116.9 percent.

Reduced Energy Costs

Fiberglass slows the spread of heat, cold, and sound. By trapping pockets of air, it keeps rooms warm in the winter and cool in the summer, thereby reducing a home’s energy consumption by up to 40 percent. 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 and R19 and R30 to R38.

Federal Tax Credits

Planning on staying for an indefinite amount of time? A federal tax credit can help you recoup a percentage of your fiberglass insulation investment if you complete the improvements by the close of 2016. A tax credit is 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 but professional installation is required in order to be approved for the credit.

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.