Attic - Walls - Floors - Basement - Crawl Space - Insulation
Mar242014

How Adding Insulation Can Save You Money

Published by Rease at 11:17 AM under Blog

Affordable Comfort is in the insulation business, but we are also very passionate about energy efficiency. While calls from unhappy homeowners needing more insulation may make our accountant happy, the cost to the environment weighs heavily upon us. We strive to educate the public about energy efficiency in hopes of preventing more inefficient homes from costing homeowners a fortune in energy bills and leaving massive carbon footprints.

 

We recently visited a brand new home in the St. Louis area. The amount of work this home needed was simply unacceptable considering it was just built.  We’d like to discuss some important things that came up during this house inspection as well as a few others.

 

Just because your home meets the code doesn’t mean it will be comfortable

 

 

 

 

Current codes are outdated. Most builders will only meet the absolute bare minimum, which, in our professional opinion, is simply not enough. For example, code states that when windows and doors account for less than 8% of the total wall area of your home, then the R-Value for attic insulation required to meet code would be R-30. While that may meet code, in the St. Louis Area the EnergyStar recommended R-Value for optimal energy efficiency is actually between R-38 and R-60.

 

Air sealing makes a huge difference

Even if your home has a good amount of insulation, unwanted airflow could lessen the effectiveness of that insulation.  A Blower Door Test allows us to quantify the number of air changes within a house.  EnergyStar standards are 6-9 air changes per hour at 50 Pascals. The home we worked on recently was brand new and had 13 air changes. This proves that the builder/contractor did nothing to air seal the home before installing insulation. This home will most likely stand for another 50-100 years and be sucking up much more energy than it should.

 

Insist that your builder go over your options

You do not have to allow contractors to do what they think is best. Insist that they go over your options for insulation and air sealing measures. Educate yourself so that you know the difference between “up to code” and “up to energy efficiency standards.”  Until the codes catch up to efficiency standards, it is up to the homeowners and builders to work together to build homes that will be comfortable and not drain too heavily on the environment.

 

Building smart has a net zero increase in cost

You may think that more insulation and more air sealing will end up costing you more out of pocket, but this is simply not true.  Let’s say you are building a house with a total home loan of $250,000. The initial costs of the additional insulation and air sealing measures will cost more, but you will be able to reduce the size of your HVAC equipment because the home will be much easier to heat and cool. If you add in LED lighting and EnergyStar rated appliances you may end up paying $50-$75 more per month on your mortgage, but your utility payments will be cut in half. So, in the end, you will actually be saving money each month and your home will be exponentially more comfortable.

 

We are always happy to answer your questions about energy efficiency. Give us a call or send us an email anytime.

 


Jan152014

Know Your Options for Insulation for New Construction

Published by Rease at 11:37 AM under Blog

If you are building a new home, it is very important to be aware of all your options for insulation before construction begins. Many people make the mistake of assuming their builders will know what is best, but this is rarely the case. Insulation and home construction are two different skill sets. Consider the fact that your builder may construct the walls, but he contracts electricians for the wiring and plumbers for the plumbing. Shouldn’t your new home’s insulation be completed by an expert in the field of insulation?

Builders are not Insulation Experts

Builders have taken on a DIY attitude when it comes to insulation. Fiberglass batt insulation (which most people know as the pink fluffy stuff) can be thrown up by basically anybody. Builders tend to take it upon themselves to purchase the bare minimum of this cheap and easy-to-install material and do not insulate pass the out-of-date building code minimums. The problem with this is that fiberglass insulation is not the best choice for every application in the home, and even when used in the proper areas (walls), if the insulation is not installed properly, your energy bills will suffer.

Cheap insulation does not save you money in the long run

No matter how fancy your new home is or how robust your heating and cooling system is, an under-insulated home will still be drafty in the winter and hot in the summer. All that money you saved on buying that budget insulation for your new home will be quickly eaten away by your high energy bills.

Consider your carbon footprint

Some builders will argue that the average home owner will only stay in a home for 7 years, meaning the money spent on better insulation will not necessarily be paid back through energy bill savings. This line of thinking is selfish in the terms of our planet. Why build a home that will leave a larger carbon footprint simply for the sake of keeping your initial construction budget low? The home you build today may very well still be standing 100 years from now; should the environment continue to suffer for the sake of saving an arguably small amount of money?

Our job is to educate everyone about the options

Most homeowners are not even given options when it comes to the type or quantity of insulation in their homes. We consider it our job to help educate people about the options available. We also hope to work more closely with builders to encourage them to show homeowners side-by-side comparisons of the benefits of effectiveness of each type of insulation. Homeowners should not have to settle for whatever the builder is capable of installing when experts such as ourselves are well-prepared to explain the options and get the job done properly.