Category Archives: home insulation

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.

6 Energy Efficient Ways to Beat the Heat this Summer

beat the heat

Air conditioning may ensure your comfort during the summer but running it non-stop during a heat wave will have you cringing when your utility bill arrives in the mail. The good news is that there are several ways you can beat the heat this summer without increasing your energy bills.

Here are some energy efficient ways to beat the heat that’ll pay off immediately.

Use your ceiling fans wisely. During the summer, ceiling fans should rotate counterclockwise to push cool air down, creating a wind chill effect. This allows you to set the thermostat at a higher temperature without sacrificing comfort. Portable fans produce the same effect. Turn them off when you leave the room.

Draw the curtains. During the day, room temperatures can rise by as much as 20 degrees, especially in areas with windows that get direct sunlight. Keep your curtains closed during the summer. Blackout curtains are often the most effective at reducing heat gain.

Switch out your light bulbs. Incandescent light bulbs produce a lot more heat than you might think. They are also considered the least energy efficient. LEDs (light emitting diodes) use only 20-25% of the energy and last up to 25 times longer than the traditional light bulbs they replace. Choose bulbs that are ENERGY STAR certified.

Clean or change you’re A/C filters once a month. Your air conditioner consumes 5-10% more energy if the filter is clogged or dirty. You should change or clean the filter out on your A/C unit once a month.

Avoid using your stove or oven during the day. One of the last things you want to do on a hot day is generate more heat. Wait until sundown to use your stove or oven. Use smaller appliances, such as hot plates, crockpots, pressure cookers, and microwaves during the day. Small appliances have the added benefit of being energy efficient.

Install new insulation. Properly installed, insulation can help keep your home an average of 20 degrees cooler or warmer year-round. It will also reduce your energy bills. Look for insulation with a high R-value (the insulation’s ability to reduce heat transfer). You can choose between fiberglass, cellulose, and spray foam insulation for this project.

Garage Door Insulation

garage door insulation

As the weather heats up, it’s the perfect time to consider insulating your garage door, especially if you use the space a home gym or workshop. Adding insulation to the door’s interior channels can help keep your garage an average of 20 degrees cooler in the summer. Insulation may also reduce noise transfer, increase energy efficiency, and brighten what might otherwise be considered a dreary space.

This is a relatively easy and affordable DIY project.

Purchase the Right Insulation Material

Rigid Foam Insulation: Typically made from expanded polystyrene (EPS), extruded polystyrene (XPS) or polyisocyanurate (“iso”), rigid foam insulation is an acceptable choice for garage door insulation if they are foil-faced and fire-rated. R-values for rigid foam insulation range from 3.3 to 6.5 per inch of thickness.

Batt Insulation: Commonly composed from fiberglass, batt insulation is more flexible than rigid foam insulation, with insulation values between R-3 and R-4 per inch of thickness. Not as good as rigid foam insulation, but still a viable option, especially considering batt insulation is one of the most affordable options available.

Understanding R-Values

An R-value is the resistance of heat flow through a given thickness of material. The higher the value, the greater the thermal resistance and therefore, the energy savings. An R-value is just one of four key factors you should consider.

  • Wind
  • Humidity
  • Temperature

These are all factors that should also be taken into consideration when selecting an insulation material. For maximum energy savings, it’s also important to consider insulating the entire garage, and not just the door.

Matching Insulation to Your Garage Door

  • Steel garage doors can accommodate any type of insulation
  • Wood frame garage doors can accommodate foam board insulation. Consider applying two layers
  • Flat garage doors (doors without panels) can accommodate rigid foam insulation

At Carrig and Dancer, you will find a large selection of rigid foam backed and batt insulation guaranteed to make your garage more comfortable not only during the summer, but year ‘round. Visit our website at www.carriganddancerinsulation.com or contact us directly at (253) 584-7704 to schedule an initial consultation and free quote.

Winter Energy Saving Tips

energy saving tips

Save money this winter with these energy saving tips.

Upgrade to LED

LEDs are extremely energy efficient, consuming 90% less power than incandescent bulbs, and lasting 50,000 times longer. Although LEDs have a higher initial cost than more traditional lightbulbs, like incandescent and compact fluorescent, the cost is quickly recouped over time in lower electricity costs. LEDs are also made from non-toxic materials, generate virtually no heat, and are 100% recyclable.

Invest in insulation

Hundreds of thousands of dollars in energy costs are lost each year due to escaping heat and cold in homes without proper attic insulation. With added insulation your home becomes much more energy efficient. This will reduce the costs associated with heating and cooling your home. Other benefits of insulating your home include increasing sound control, regulating the temperature, and making your living environment more enjoyable.

Keep your air filters clean

When is the last time you changed your air filters? Changing air filters is critical to the proper performance of your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system, not to mention your home’s indoor air quality, as well as lowering your monthly heating and cooling bills. ENERGY STAR recommends changing air filters every month or every three months if you invest in HEPA quality filters.

Install a programmable thermostat

A programmable thermostat helps you save energy and reduce your carbon footprint, therefore helping the environment, by automating your home’s temperatures without sacrificing your comfort. When programming your thermostat, consider when you normally go to sleep and wake up, as well as the work/school schedules of everyone in the household. This will provide you with the most savings.

Adjust the thermostat at night

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, you can save up to 10 percent per year on your heating and cooling bills by simply turning your thermostat down 7 to 10 degrees when you are asleep or away from home. During the winter, they recommend setting the thermostat to 68˚F, and during the summer to 78˚F when you’re awake and need heating or cooling.

Use ceiling fans to your advantage

Good ventilation and airflow equal increased energy savings. If your home has ceiling fans, table fans, floor fans or any combination of these, you have more control over ventilation than you may realize. Setting your fan’s blades to move counter-clockwise will push hot air up in the summer, and setting them clockwise will trap heat inside the rooms where they are, keeping them warmer during the winter.

Reduce heat loss from your fireplace

There is nothing quite like the glow, warmth, and crackle of a fire in the hearth; especially on a cold winter’s night. When in use, you should open the dampers in the bottom of the fireplace (if applicable), or open the nearest window by an inch to reduce heat loss. When not in use, keep the damper closed, as an open damper allows warm air to escape straight up the chimney.

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.

Insulation Tips To Save You Money

insulation tips

Unless you live in Paradise, where the weather is almost always perfect, your home will require some kind of heating, venting, and air conditioning system to cool you down in the summer and warm you up in the winter. This, however, accounts for more than half of your energy use – which can really put a damper on your monthly electricity bills.

Increasing the level of insulation within your home could save you hundreds of dollars. This home improvement project is essential for maintaining an energy-efficient and comfortable home. Energy efficiency is the act of ensuring the energy you consume is used efficiently by properly maintaining your HVAC equipment and increasing your home’s thermal resistance.

Maximize Your Savings with These Insulation Tips

Insulation Tip #1: Locate Problem Areas

Many homes throughout Washington have been found to be lacking adequate amounts of insulation in areas such as attic spaces. These areas allow warm air in the winter and cool air in the summer to escape all too easily. This can really put a strain on your HVAC system. An in-depth energy audit can provide you with this information.

Insulation Tip #2: Check the New Insulation’s R-Value

Knowing what your recommended insulation’s r-value – a measure of thermal resistance – is a necessity. Each person’s recommended values will differ from one another depending on their area’s climate and the type of HVAC system they use. The higher the R-value; the greater the effectiveness of your insulating materials.

Insulation Tip #3: Select the Appropriate Type of Insulation

For insulation to perform properly, and provide you with ample benefits, the appropriate type of insulation materials must be chosen. This decision should be based on performance desired as well as your budget. Many insulation materials exist including fiberglass, mineral (rock or slag) wool, plastic fibers, natural fibers, cellulose, and spray foam.

Insulation Tip #4: Seal Off Any, And ALL, Air Leaks

This is the easiest way to begin insulating your home. Many homes, according to Energy Star, lose over 20 to 30 percent of the air that moves through its duct system due to leaks and poor connections. Finding, and subsequently sealing, those leaks will prevent heated and cooled air from being lost – thus saving you money.

Contact a Insulation Contractor Today

A expert insulation contractor can provide you with an objective assessment of your home’s current insulation levels and materials. They can also guide you on the best methods to correct areas where improvements are needed. This assessment will help you to save money and energy. We invite you to contact Carrig & Dancer today at (253) 584-7704.

Weatherization Assistance Programs

weatherization assistance programs

Every time my children turn the thermostat up at home, I creep into the hall and turn it back down again, and hand them a blanket. In the summer, we follow much the same strategy, except swapping lighter clothes for a blanket. Our monthly energy bill, which tops $80.00+ in the winter, drives me mad.

Yes, home energy costs, can be expensive. But what in life isn’t? Prices for everything from your morning cup of Joe to the beef you place on your dinner plate costs more than what we would like to pay. And as with most anything else, energy is imperative to our daily life.

It is truly not something we can simply go without. That said – there are ways to reduce your monthly energy bills. Ways that, unlike popular belief, won’t necessarily break the bank. What am I talking about? I am speaking of weatherization, and of course, weatherization assistance programs.

Weatherization Assistance Programs Description

What is weatherization? Weatherization is the application of energy efficiency measures to a home. The belief that energy efficiency is expensive is a myth, as it is more expensive to cool and heat a home year round that is not considered energy efficient.

Now, don’t get me wrong, there is some initial investment required in making your home or rental (with landlord’s permission) more energy efficient. But there are also many programs such as these weatherization assistance programs that are available to low-income families and individuals that qualify.

Maximum Income Eligibility Guidelines

  • $18,391 if the household is composed of one person
  • $24,891 if the household is composed of two people
  • $31,391 if the household is composed of three people
  • $37,981 if the household is composed of four people
  • $44,931 if the household is composed of five people
  • $50,891 if the household is composed of six people
  • $57,391 if the household is composed of seven people
  • $63,891 if the household is composed of eight people

*For households greater than 8 people, add an additional $6,500, to determine if you fall within the state’s income eligibility guidelines. Should you be a recipient of Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), then you are automatically deemed eligible.*

What the Program Covers

The program currently covers adding thermal insulation to a building’s envelope (namely attic insulation), sealing air cracks, installing low-flow shower heads and other energy/water efficiency measures, maintaining HVAC equipment and making other cost saving changes that reduce heat loss.

Funding for the program is currently provided by three separate federal government offices including the U.S. Department of Energy, the BPA and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The program also receives funding from Washington State, which local utility companies match.

To determine your eligibility, please click here.

Mushroom Insulation???

mushroom insulation

{Image Source: Stephen P Nock|Wiki}

Since civilization began, men and women have recognized the need for materials that would insulate them from the chill of a cold winter’s night, and the scorching heat of a hot summer’s day.

In the history books, you’ll see many humans wearing wool and skins made from animals, as these materials provided them with ample insulation. In medieval times, buildings were made with straw and mud plaster, but these materials failed at protecting its occupants from the elements.

Over the years, as civilization evolved, a process to make fiberglass insulation was finally found in 1932. Over the next decade this material, which is still in use today, was found to be most efficient in making buildings comfortable.

Insulation manufactures today use materials ranging from fiberglass, mineral wool, calcium silicate, foamed plastic, glass, and get this…mushrooms. Yes, you read that right, I definitely said mushrooms.

Mushroom Insulation’s Evolution

Within the past couple of years, two engineering students at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute came up with the idea of using mycelium – a fungal network of threadlike cells that makes it possible to bind agricultural byproducts together – to make an insulating material that was cost-effective and eco-friendly.

The company, Ecovative Design, explains how it works on their blog:

“Ecovative uses mycelium (mushroom “roots”) to bond together agricultural byproducts like corn stalks into a material that can replace plastic foam. Mushroom Insulation grows into wood forms over the course of a few days, forming an airtight seal. It dries over the next month (kind of like how concrete cures) and you are left with an airtight wall that is extremely strong.”

Being that the company is using mycelium, and not mushroom spores, in their efforts to grow a sustainable insulation material there is no risk of mushrooms sprouting from the walls. Once the insulation has stopped growing, which normally takes only a few days, they hit it with steam to stop the growth.

The main drawback to this insulation material, especially when you compare it to other types of insulation is the fact that it currently has a very low R-value, in this case an R-value of 2.9. Yikes!

Mushroom Insulation on the Move

To show off their innovation, in a bit outlandish way, they built a tiny house using mainly mushroom insulation and took it on the road. Currently the only stop they’ve made was in New York. The entire build and trip is documented in their blog…Mushroom Tiny House.

If you’d like an alternative to this material – one that is eco-friendly and readily available – that provides high R-values please contact Carrig and Dancer at (253) 584-7704 for more information on our green insulation materials.

Benefits to Improving Your Home Insulation

improving your home insulationHow did you fare this summer? If you’re one of the 45 million homes within the U.S. that lacks the proper levels of insulation, then chances are high that you probably didn’t fare all that well.

Improving your home’s insulation, now rather than later, will make a huge difference in your comfort as well as in your pocketbook during the fast approaching winter season.

If you found yourself constantly complaining about the humidity within your home, or you broke out into a sweat each time you went face to face with yet another energy bill, then you should consider improving your home insulation.

Thinking of Improving Your Home Insulation?

Here are just a few of the benefits you’ll reap when you do:

#1 – Environmental Benefits

If you would like to create an energy-efficient or environmentally friendly home, it will require a long list of things that need to be done, and while some are quite simple, others take a varied skill set to properly accomplish.

One of the simpler ways to make your dreams of going green a reality is simply to increase the level of insulation within your home. A well-insulated home provides many benefits that help the environment and you including:

  • Reduced pollution levels
  • Energy cost savings
  • Increased comfort
  • Increased sound control
  • Reduced heat loss

#2 – Think “Found” Money

The average U.S. family spends approximately $1,900 a year on home utility bills. That amounts to roughly $158 per month! The largest portion, 54 percent in fact, of this expense is caused by your heating and cooling system alone.

Adding the proper amount of insulation – insulation that has been professionally installed – affords you the opportunity to save as much as 20 percent on those dreaded monthly energy bills. {Source: Enegy.gov}

In addition, it reduces the cost of heating and cooling by over 40 percent, thus making it among one of the more popular home improvement projects. And, with many available incentives out there, insulation can pay for itself in no time at all.

#3 – Increased Comfort Year Round

Improving your home’s insulation is a great way to increase your comfort in more ways than one. Adding insulation to those areas lacking will regulate your home’s temperature, and reduce noise pollution, thus allowing you and your family to remain comfortable year round.

Choose The Correct Insulation

Homeowners: Learn How to Choose the Correct Insulation

Choose the Correct InsulationHomeowners, the time has come to choose the correct insulation materials for your attic or basement walls to ensure your everlasting comfort. Like many choices in life, you may feel overwhelmed by the wide variety of insulation materials on the market today. If that’s the case, I’d like to suggest that you read this informative blog post, which contains expert tips.

Tip #1 – Pay Attention to R-Values

An R-value, or thermal efficiency, measures how well you home resists your states temperature fluctuations. In the winter insulation will keep you toasty warm, whereas in the summer it will keep you comfortable as it resists heat. In Washington, you should look for insulation with an R-value of R30 to R60 for uninsulated attics, and R25 to R38 when adding to your existing insulation.

Tip #2 – Determining Insulation Type

Loose Fill Insulation – Loose cellulose or fiberglass insulation that is blown into a wall cavity or attic by state-of-the-art equipment. This type of insulation is typically not well suited to concrete or stone walls, because of moisture. You can find loose fill insulation with R-values ranging between 20 and 40. This is one of the least inexpensive insulation options.

Batt Insulation – Composed of mineral materials or fiberglass, this type of insulation material is best for homeowners seeking affordability. R-values typically range from 14 to 22. Not the easiest material to work with and install. If not installed correctly, you will lose energy efficiency.

Spray Foam Insulation – Expandable spray foam that is applied directly to surfaces such as ceilings and roof-decks in order to efficiently resist heat and cold. You can find R-values ranging anywhere from 20 to 40. This type of material is one of the priciest options available today.

Rigid/Board-Stock Insulation – Foam, mineral, or fiberglass boards that was designed for exterior use only – best for roofing, siding, foundation and decking projects. You can choose between R20 to R28 when selecting R-values. This insulation works well in wet conditions.