How to Make Scary Tombstones

 

tombstones

Craft four nice size, eerily realistic looking tombstones from insulation foam board / Styrofoam in under four hours using the following step-by-step instructions; just in time for Halloween (13 days away!). Add fresh dirt, a shovel, and plastic skull at the base of your tombstones for that extra chill factor.

Materials Needed for Scary Tombstones

  • insulation foam board / Styrofoam
  • permanent marker
  • serrated knife
  • monster mud
  • carbon paper
  • latex gloves

Step 1: Outline Tombstones

With one large sheet of insulation foam board / Styrofoam – measuring 2” x 2” x 8’ – you should be able to make four nice size tombstones. The sheets can be found at your local home improvement store. Use a permanent marker to sketch an outline for your tombstones. Tip: Keep shapes simple so it’s easier to cut out.

Step 2: Cut Styrofoam to Size

Cut foam along sketched outline with a serrated knife. We recommend doing this outdoors since this step can be quite messy. Keep blade perpendicular to foam and use caution while cutting.

Step 3: Write the Epitaph

Use carbon paper to draw out your design and write the epitaph. Lay the carbon paper over the cut-out tombstone and trace over the paper to transfer the patter / epitaph onto the foam. You may want to go back over the transfer marks with a permanent marker, if they are not dark enough.

Step 4: Create an Aged Look

Working in a well-ventilated area, use a soldering iron to go back over the transfer marks, melting them into the Styrofoam. To create an “aged” look, break off tiny pieces around the edges of the store, or carve out small cracks using an X-acto knife.

Step 5: Apply Monster Mud

Using homemade “monster mud,” apply a thin amount to the tombstone, spreading with your latex gloved hands or a paintbrush. You may find it helpful to use both, ensuring the mud gets into the smallest crevices. You can also spray paint using charcoal gray or black. Get the instructions for Monster Mud.

Step 6: Set the Scene

Secure your handcrafted tombstones to the ground using wire hangers, plant wire or wooden stakes. Simply cut out enough wire and stretch along the length of the stone to set the graveyard scene up in your yard.

Happy Halloween!

Air Sealing Basics

air sealing

While it’s well-known that homes require insulation to mitigate heat loss through walls, ceilings and floors, the concept of air sealing is often less understood. Yet, the Green Building Advisor states that, “one third of the energy you pay for probably leaks through holes in your house.”

Air leaks occur when outside air enters and conditioned air leaves your house uncontrollably through cracks and openings. In addition to wasting energy, air leaks may contribute to moisture problems, and poor indoor air quality (U.S. Department of Energy, 1999).

Air sealing will save you money on heating and cooling costs, improve system longevity, and increase occupant comfort. It will also help to create a healthier indoor environment. Air sealing doesn’t require much effort, and is generally very cost-productive.

Air Sealing Measures

Some measures you can do yourself 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

Other sources of air leaks, such as attic and lighting fixture penetrations, are best addressed by a professional. Before beginning any of these measures, it is a good idea to have a comprehensive energy audit performed, which includes both a visual inspection and thermal imaging scan. An energy audit can detect cold spots, air leaks and intrusion, energy-hogging appliances, and insufficient insulation levels.

Save with Energy Upgrade Rebates

Good news! There are several energy upgrade rebates available that make air sealing substantially more affordable. Eligible homeowners can recoup 75% of their project costs; up to $250 for air sealing and up to $400 for insulation through SRP. To check eligibility requirements, click here. We are an SRP Certified Contractor. APS and Electrical District No. 3 offer similar rebates.

Job Openings at Banker Insulation

job openings

Are looking to begin or advance your career in the insulation industry?

Banker Insulation is looking for workers who are passionate about what they do and looking to join a new building insulation family! We have several job openings throughout Arizona for our Chandler, Snowflake, Cornville, Flagstaff, Lake Havasu, Tucson, Prescott Valley, and Kingman branches. We also have several openings for our Washington, Nevada, and New Mexico branches. We are looking to fill both part-time and full-time positions at these branches.

Available Job Openings

Banker Insulation is currently looking to fill the following positions:

  • Laborer
  • Inside sales
  • Insulation Installer
  • Operations Manager
  • Production Manager
  • Warehouse Employee

*Applicants must successfully pass a pre-employment drug test and background check

Apply Today

You can find a full list of available job openings at www.insulationestimates.com/careers. If you feel you are a good fit for any of these positions, you may email inquiries to corp.hr@bankerinsulation.com or call 800-545-0238. You may also apply online using the above referenced link.

About Banker Insulation

Established in 1977, Banker Insulation is one of the Southwest’s largest, independently owned insulation contractors. With a strong, well-known and respected presence, we specialize in the installation of premium insulation for both residential and commercial buildings. While our corporate offices are in Chandler, Arizona, we also have ten other branches including seven in AZ, one in NV, one in WA, and one in NM.

Multiple Applications for Closed-Cell Spray Foam Insulation

spray foam insulation

Closed-cell spray foam insulation is renowned for being a superior material for both residential and commercial projects. Its unique application allows it to improve energy-efficiency while also enclosing conditioned air inside the structure, thus, reducing the amount of money spent on wasted energy. It’s also virtually impervious to moisture, preventing the loss of R-value, as well as the growth of mold.

Because it will not shrink or settle, its high R-value – it can achieve an R-20 at 3 inches and R-41 at 6 inches – and acoustical performance lasts the life of a structure. It is manufactured on site by combining an isocyanate and a polymeric resin through state-of-the-art equipment. Properly installed, closed-cell spray foam insulation can adhere to a wide variety of substrates including concrete, metal and wood.

Applications for closed-cell spray foam insulation include:

  • Roofs: Spray foam insulation can be used as a re-roofing material, applied directly on the existing roof structure, providing two important benefits: 1) waterproofing and 2) increased R-value. This application is more commonly seen in commercial building rather than residential.
  • Exterior walls: One of the positive attributes of spray foam insulation is its versatility. It’s compatible with many wall types and can be sprayed onto the exterior sheathing in new construction projects, or assimilated between stud cavities in retrofit situations.
  • Interior walls: Upgrading insulation with spray foam insulation allows you to benefit from fewer drafts, more consistent indoor temperatures, better indoor air quality, and reduced noise pollution. Similar benefits can be achieved when installed under floors.
  • Custom insulation applications: Contact for more information

Banker Insulation specializes in insulating your residential and commercial building envelope using the highest-quality insulation materials. Our experienced team is ready to partner with you on your next project. Call us today at 602-273-1261. For a free quote, click here.

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. 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 Banker Insulation, 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.insulationestimates.com or contact us directly at (602) 273-1261 to schedule an initial consultation and free quote.

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.

Residential Insulation FAQs

Insulation FAQs

Find immediate answers to your questions with these residential insulation FAQs.

Q: What type of insulation do I need?

A: The type of insulation you need depends on where it will be installed, what R-values are required, and your budget. The U.S. Department of Energy recommends different R-values for different zones. In Arizona, a homeowner can get away with using R30 in their attic, whereas the same home in Minnesota would require R49.

Q: What is loose-fill fiberglass?

A: Loose-fill fiberglass insulation is typically blown into unfinished attics, nonconforming spaces and hard-to-reach areas, as this effectively fills all the nooks and crannies of the framing bay. Loose-fill, also known as blown-in insulation, provides better performance than batts because it is much less likely to leave any gaps.

Q: What is an R-value?

A: “R” stands for resistance to heat flow. The higher the R-value, the greater the insulating power and in turn, your energy savings. As mentioned previously, determining the R-value for your residence depends greatly on where it will be installed, and your budget.

Q: Are there rebates or other incentives available for insulation projects?

A: Yes! Government agencies, utilities, and others offer a variety of tax credits and other incentives to support energy-saving upgrades. You may already be aware, but in Arizona, SRP offers their customers a rebate of 75% of the insulation costs (up to $400). APS offers a rebate up to $250. Federal tax credits may also be available.

Q: Can insulation help increase my home’s property value?

A: Yes! Adding insulation to your attic, per this year’s Cost vs. Value report, can generate a 107.7% return on investment should you ever decide to sell your home. This project may also reduce your heating and cooling costs by up to 30 percent and make you eligible for a federal tax credit.

Q: How can we find an insulation contractor?

A: The best course of action is to contact Banker Insulation. When you call, you will be greeted by a member of our friendly staff who will assist you with your energy efficiency project, and help you investigate and receive any applicable insulation rebates. To better assist you, we have over 18 locations throughout the Southwest.

How to Insulate an Attic

insulate an attic

Heating and cooling, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, accounts for more than half of the energy consumed in an average home. This means that an attic that is not properly insulated could be costing you big bucks as heat rises. Taking steps to prevent this loss is good for the environment, good for you, and good for your wallet. Use the following information to insulate an attic.

How much does it cost to insulate an attic?

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 do 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 as 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, 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.

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 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.