Category Archives: Energy Efficiency

residential insulation

Be an Energy Efficient Gift-Giver

Now is the time of the year your electricity bills start going up, so besides residential insulation, how can you be more energy efficient? How can you help your friends and family be energy efficient as well? With the gift-giving season approaching, energy-efficient products make for cool presents and can improve your electricity bill.

Cool Classics

Carrig and Dancer has published a holiday gift list idea before, so let’s review those before diving into new ideas! If you or a loved one are big cookers but don’t have a lot of time to do so, an Instant Pot is a perfect gift. An Instant Pot is an energy-efficient pressure cooker that spreads heat evenly and quickly. 

For those music lovers and answer seekers, smart speakers make for great gifts, as well. There’s a variety of options in a range of prices and sizes, depending on what you desire. The Google Home and Echo Dot, for example, allow you to control your music, podcasts, and even smart home products. 

Anyone that suffers from allergies, asthma, or any other immune disorders will appreciate an air quality monitor. These monitors measure Total Volatile Organic Compounds (TVOC), Carbon Monoxide (CO2), temperature, humidity, and a few other things. They can also be paired up to smart speakers so that you can continuously monitor your home’s air quality. 

Your techy family members will appreciate a smart thermostat, especially if they live in a cold climate like Washington. Smart thermostats like the Nest Learning Thermostat allow you to monitor the heating and cooling of your home, which can help reduce your electricity bill. The Nest learns your schedule and preferred temperatures to maximize automatic comfort and energy efficiency. 

Cozy Blankets

Washington is notorious for cold winters, which means you’re cranking up that heat to make your home feel more comfortable. Blankets are a great gift to avoid this problem. A cute microfleece blanket is an inexpensive gift you can buy that will help your utility bills. Turn down that thermostat and bundle up in a comfy blanket!

Do-It-Yourselfer Necessities

That DIYer in your life will love some new power tools, and you can help save the environment by purchasing energy-efficient power tools. You’ve got an overwhelming list of choices when it comes to tools, so make it a bit easier on yourself by looking for Energy-Star labels. You can expect to save about 30 percent more energy!

Special Stocking Stuffers

Stocking stuffers are a staple for families with kids, especially ones with younger children. A unique idea is an LED animal night light to make them feel more comfortable in bed at night. For your older kids that want unusual lighting, you can find LED phrase lamps or even strings of holiday lights to go around pictures. 

Those family members that travel a lot will also appreciate an LED USB lamp because you can plug them into your laptop to give yourself a little light. You also have the added benefit of not bugging other passengers with the overhead light. 

For those always on the go, a portable battery or fuel cell for their phone is the perfect gift. Phones hold a good chunk of your life, and the worst thing would be for it to die when you’ve got a busy day ahead of you. They’re convenient, and better for the environment because you’re not idling your car to charge your phone. 

Call us for Residential Insulation

Whether you’re moving into a new home or want to improve your home comfort, residential insulation is an excellent option for you this holiday season.

Carrig and Dancer is a full-service energy conservation contractor who has been providing residential and commercial insulation services throughout Washington since 1982. Other services offered include, but are not limited to, soundproofing and replacing windows.

For more information about these and other energy-saving services, contact us at (253) 584-7704 or at one of these other locations

Why You Should Invest in an Energy Audit

energy audit

Every property, whether residential or commercial, can benefit from an energy audit. Even new construction can exhibit energy inefficiencies. An assessment seeks to uncover hidden problems that may be impacting your comfort, health, and wallet. It is one of the most cost-effective measures for not only ensuring your home is energy efficient but also reducing your environmental impact.

What’s an Energy Audit?

An energy audit includes an in-depth, room-by-room examination of the home’s interior, along with a comprehensive exterior evaluation. The best practice for identifying energy inefficiencies is to hire a professional energy auditor to complete the assessment. Professionals may employ specialized equipment such as blower doors, infrared cameras, and low-emissivity window checkers to accurately detect areas of energy loss. They will also inspect HVAC systems and evaluate appliances to determine current usage practices.

The length of a comprehensive assessment, like this, depends on your home’s square footage and appliances. However, most single-family homes take about one to four hours, on average. Once the audit is complete, the auditor will then provide you with a prioritized list of energy-saving home improvements. Ultimately, this service discovers the most effective ways for you to reduce your energy consumption, which in turn reduces your carbon footprint as well as saves you money.

Do You Need an Energy Assessment?

Here are a few signs that your home needs an energy audit:

  • Drafty rooms
  • Excessive dust
  • Condensation on the walls or windows
  • A HVAC system that continuously runs
  • Your monthly energy bills are higher than your neighbors

The Benefits of Getting a Professional Audit

An examination of your home’s energy efficiency is cost-effective. It offers substantial benefits after energy-saving improvements are made to your home. Typical improvements include air sealing, adding insulation, replacing aging appliances or equipment, and using LED light bulbs. The advantages of this project are:

  • Reduced energy bills
  • Increased comfort levels
  • Improved health and safety
  • Protection for the environment

Carrig and Dancer is a full-service energy conservation contractor who has been providing residential and commercial insulation services throughout Washington since 1982. Other services offered include, but are not limited to, soundproofing and replacing windows. For more information about these and other energy-saving services, like comprehensive energy assessments, contact us at (253) 584-7704 or at one of these other locations.

best insulation

How to Choose the Best Insulation?

There are several types of insulation available, including batt or roll, blown-in and spray. Before purchasing any kind of material, you’ll need to determine not only how much insulation is needed to fill the space but also how much thermal resistance is ideal, determined by the insulation’s “R-Value.” Ensuring appropriate R-values is key to increasing energy efficiency, saving money, and reducing outside noise.

To help you choose the best insulation for your home, we have broken this guide down into two parts: Insulation types and determining R-value.

Types of Insulation

Fiberglass Batts and Rolls. This is the most common type of insulation. It comes in convenient batts or rolls for easy transport. It is most suitable for walls, floors, and ceilings. R-values are generally 3.0-4.0 per inch. Foil-backed versions are appropriate for insulating garage doors. Advantages include do-it-yourself projects (protective clothing required) and reasonable costs. It can also be cut to fit tight spaces.

Loose-Fill Cellulose. Composed of recycled paper products, cellulose insulation is environmentally friendly and blown into place using specialized equipment, which is operated by professional installers. Best uses include existing or new wall cavities, unfinished attic floors, and other hard-to-reach areas of your home. Cellulose provides highly efficient R-values.

Rigid Boards. Rigid insulation panels can be used to insulate every part of your home. They are very effective in crawlspaces and attic spaces. Rigid boards provide good thermal resistance and reduce heat conduction through structural elements. The most common materials used in the construction of this insulation is polystyrene, polyisocyanurate, and polyurethane.

Spray Foam. Spray polyurethane foam (SPF), available in either open-cell or closed-cell, provides stellar thermal performance. Once applied, it expands to fill hidden gaps, cracks, and holes. The result is reduced air and moisture infiltration. SPF can be professionally applied to attics, roofing, and interior wall cavities. It is also good for adding insulation to irregularly shaped areas in attics or basements.

Determining R-Value

According to the EPA’s ENERGY STAR program, your region’s climate and home type determine R-value. For example, Washington is classified as Zone Four, necessitating your need for R38 to R60 in the attic and R25 to R30 in the floor. These are the most cost-effective values. Installation of R5 insulative wall sheathing is also recommended. Consider this project should you decide to replace your home’s siding.

Professional Installation

Insulation’s performance is very dependent on proper installation. The recommended strategy is to hire an insulation contractor. Carrig and Dancer has been providing insulation services to Washington residents and businesses since 1982. Our insulation services include new construction, retrofits, and upgrades. We also provide sound control and new window installation services. Contact us at (253) 584-7704 to learn more.

Autumn Home Maintenance

Autumn Home Maintenance Tips

Get ready for winter with these autumn home maintenance tips designed to maximize the energy efficiency and comfort of your home. They will also provide monetary savings by driving high heating costs down. Here are four autumn home maintenance projects for you to complete before winter’s arrival.

Upgrade Your Insulation

Adding to or upgrading insulation is one of the fastest ways to reduce energy loss. When insulation is properly installed to a building’s envelope it helps prevent the transfer of heat. A professional insulation contractor can help you choose the best insulation material and correct R-value for your area. The highest benefits are achieved when you combine insulation with air sealing.

Clean the Gutters

With a ladder or telescoping tool, regularly remove leaves and debris from the gutters, making sure to thoroughly rinse with a hose. Experts recommend completing this project once in the fall and again in the spring to prevent costly foundation and/or roofing damage. Consider installing gutter guards as well.

Eliminate Drafts

Caulking and weatherstripping can help reduce drafts and high heating or cooling bills. Remove old caulk and weatherstripping and replace with new materials purchased at your local hardware or home improvement store. Follow all manufacturer directions. Complete this project when humidity is low for best results. You may also want to consider air sealing electrical outlets using adhesive socket sealers.

Replace Windows

Autumn is a great time to consider replacing single-pane windows. Low-E windows provide countless benefits, including soundproofing, energy efficiency, and UV protection. They also have a 74.3% return on investment, according to this year’s Cost vs. Value report, which compares the average cost for 21 popular remolding projects in 149 markets with the value they retain at resale.

Carrig & Dancer has been providing insulation service to Washington State residents and businesses since 1982. Our insulation services include new construction, retrofits, and upgrades. We also provide sound control and window replacement services. Contact us today at (253) 584-7704 with your commercial or residential insulation requirements.

insulation

Soundproofing with Insulation

Insulating your home can do much more than lower your energy costs. It can also provide you with a peaceful home! Maybe you live in a busy area where there is constant racket surrounding your home or maybe there are a few people living under one roof. Whatever the case may be, wouldn’t it be nice to have a comfortable, tranquil and energy-efficient home? The answer is insulation. Insulation absorbs sounds within your home as well as noise coming from the outside environment.

How Soundproofing Minimizes Distractions

There are different types of sound that you hear inside your home. The first type of sound comes from impact noises. Impact noises are produced from movements like a person’s footsteps or a washing machine vibrating against the floor. The other type of sound you often hear in homes comes from airborne noises. Airborne noises are heard from things like traffic outside your house, voices, or even music playing.

When insulation is installed within the walls, floors and ceilings of your home, it acts as a sound barrier. The insulation absorbs the noise vibrations from the source thus reducing the amount of sound released into the adjacent area. Insulating is an effective and affordable way to improve the soundproofing performance of your walls, ceiling, and floors.

There are specific types of insulation that are meant to soundproof a building. It is important to know which types of insulation work best to reduce noise. Cellulose, fiberglass and foam insulation are all good options if you are looking to make your home a quieter place. Choose batt or blanket insulation for cellulose or fiberglass. An insulation professional can advise you as to which options are best for your specific home.

You deserve to live in a home without all the extra noise!

Carrig & Dancer has been providing insulation services to Washington State residents and businesses since 1982. Our insulation services include new construction, retrofits, and upgrades. We also provide sound control and window installation. Contact us today at (253) 584-7704 for more information on how to achieve a quieter home.

Summer Energy Efficiency

Summer Energy Efficiency Tips

The air conditioner may be cranked down low, and the kids may be spending their time on electronics, but those actions don’t necessarily have to translate to high summer energy bills. There are a lot of things you can do to ensure summer energy efficiency. Here are just five:

Program Your Thermostat & Forget About It

Installing a smart or programmable thermostat eliminates having to go through the trouble of manually changing the temperature each time you leave. When used properly, this can result in reduced cooling costs. In fact, according to ENERGY STAR, a programmable thermostat can save you up to $180 per year.

Add Attic Insulation

Attic insulation offers some of the greatest benefits. Installing the recommended R-value – a measure of how well insulation resists the flow of heat between your living space and attic – can extend the service life of air conditioners and help save you money by lowering your monthly energy bills.

When adding insulation to an attic, there are several materials you can choose from, including loose-fill, batt or spray polyurethane foam (SPF). Loose-fill and SPF require specialized equipment and experience that only a professional insulation contractor has. For optimal energy efficiency, this project should be combined with air sealing.

Keep the Sun Out

You have a lot to gain from soaking up the sun: tans, vitamin D, and better sleep. Letting too much natural light into the home, however, may result in higher air conditioning costs. Try closing the blinds during the hottest parts of the day. This is usually around 3 p.m., according to the Old Farmer’s Almanac.

Another cost-effective way to reduce heat gain and cooling costs is to create shade around the home. Installing shade trees, screens, and porch overhangs or awnings are three great ways to increase energy efficiency. These tips are especially helpful for south- and west-facing homes.

Seal Air Leaks

There’s no getting around it: Leaky houses are more expensive to cool. Gaps, cracks, and crevices can result in a loss of conditioned air. Air sealing provides a great opportunity to improve efficiency. The recommended strategy is to invest in an energy audit. This service will test the home for air tightness. Caulking and weatherstripping can then be purchased at your local hardware or big-box retailer.

Cook Outside

On warm summer days, you don’t want to bake or roast in the oven, or boil on the stove. These appliances generate a lot of heat; causing your home to feel warmer. Instead, take your meals outdoor to cook on a BBQ, pizza oven or rotisserie. The options for outdoor kitchens are truly amazing.

Carrig & Dancer has been providing insulation services to Washington State residents and businesses since 1982. Our insulation services include new construction, retrofits, and upgrades. We also provide sound control and window installation. Contact us today at (253) 584-7704 for more ways to increase summer energy efficiency.

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.

Last Minute Holiday Gifts

Last Minute Holiday Gifts: Energy-Efficient Edition

 

‘Tis the season for friends, family, and giving. If you still need last minute gift ideas, we’ve compiled a list of some of the most popular energy-efficient products. Watch out – you may even find yourself adding them to your own holiday wish list.

Instant Pot

$100

These pots – great for preparing any number of sides and entrees – use up to 70% less energy than conventional cooking methods. With pressure cooking, heat is very evenly and quickly distributed, so dinner is ready in a fraction of the time it takes other cooking methods (i.e., boiling, steaming, baking, and slow cooking). This makes cooking convenient.

Smart Speakers

Price Varies

There are a lot of options for smart speakers out there, but two devices reign supreme: Google Home and Amazon’s Echo. They both let users control their music, podcasts, and a wide assortment of smart home products. They are also both available in full and mini sizes. Which one is best? Ultimately, it’s a matter of preference.

Indoor Air Quality Monitors

$150

Know someone with allergies? Give them the gift of an air quality monitor, which allows them to accurately measure up to six main air quality indicators, including TVOC, CO2, PM2.5, PM10, temperature, and humidity. Users can visualize their indoor air quality with a compatible app. Smart home integration means that it works with select smart speakers. Its portable design allows users to set it anywhere they’d like.

Smart Thermostats

$250

Heating and cooling accounts for half the energy bill in most homes – more than appliances or electronics. Smart thermostats, like the Nest Learning Thermostat, work with smart speakers like Google Home and Amazon’s Echo to provide demonstrated energy savings and environmental benefits. Nest learns your schedule and preferred temperatures, programming itself for automatic comfort in about a week.

LED Smart Bulbs

Price Varies

With smart light bulbs, you no longer need to remember to turn off the lights or come home to a dark house. Smart light bulbs are available in different shades of white, from warm to cool white, and color changing LEDs. Most are compatible with select smart speakers to allow you to control your lights with your voice. Pair with other smart devices for total home automation and energy efficiency.

Winter Energy-Saving Tips

Winter Energy-Saving Tips

Find easy, cost-effective ways to use less energy without sacrificing comfort with the following six winter energy-saving tips.

Change Your Filter Regularly

Now is the perfect time to change the filter in your HVAC unit. This easy, affordable home maintenance task allows your heating system to operate more efficiently, ensuring better distribution of heat. You should check and change your filter once a month; HEPA filters every few months.

Reverse Those Ceiling Fans

During winter, switch the direction that your ceiling fan blades turn, so that cooler air is drawn upwards and warmer air pushed down. This allows you to turn the temperature down and still stay warm. There is usually a small switch on the fan that allows you to reverse the blade’s direction. Remember, clockwise in winter, and counterclockwise in summer.

Turn Down the Thermostat

When you’re home and awake, set your thermostat as low as is comfortable, dressing for warmth. When you’re asleep or out of the house, turn your thermostat back 10 to 15 degrees for eight hours a day, and save up-to 10 percent a year on heating and cooling costs. Smart or programmable thermostats can adjust the temperature for you.

Insulate Your Attic

To maintain comfort, heat loss must be minimized in the winter by ensuring an effective resistance to the flow of heat, which is something insulating materials do quite well. Plug your zip code into the U.S. Department of Energy’s Home Energy Saver tool to find insulation recommendations tailored to your Washington State home.

Replace Worn Weatherstripping

Worn weatherstripping around doors and windows creates drafts, letting cold air in, and heated air out. Caulking and weatherstripping – found at most local home improvement stores – are two cost-effective ways to cut heating and cooling costs and increase occupant comfort. Before air sealing, you should schedule a professional energy audit.

Schedule a Home Energy Audit

An energy audit can help you determine where your house is losing energy and money.  An energy auditor will check for leaks, examine insulation, inspect your heating system, and perform a blower door test using an infrared camera. The auditor will then recommend low-cost improvements that you can make to save energy.

Use LED Holiday Lights

Incandescent holiday lights are terribly inefficient, and despite careful storage, often emerge damaged. LEDs are a much better option. They use up to 75% less energy and last 25 times longer. Because they also produce very little heat, they are much safer to use for indoor and outdoor holiday lighting displays, as well.