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.

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.

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.

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.

8 Ways to Reduce Energy Expenses this Summer

Reduce Energy Expenses

A major factor that all homeowners must deal with – particularly in Arizona, is the rising cost of energy consumption. While Valley residents might have to deal with triple-digit temperatures, they don’t necessarily have to deal with triple-digit energy bills, or sacrifice their comfort. Here are a number of ways to reduce energy expenses in your Arizona home this summer. Bonus: You will be protecting the planet at the same time you’re saving money.

Set the thermostat between 78 to 80 degrees when you are home and up to 85 degrees when you are away. For every degree you set your thermostat above 80 degrees, you can save approximately 2 to 3% on cooling costs, according to SRP.

Install a programmable thermostat and watch your energy savings add up*. Set it to reflect 78 to 80 degrees when you are home and above 80 when you are away for annual savings of 10 to 30% on the cooling portion of your energy bills.

Turn your thermostat to “auto”. This makes sure that the fan only runs when the air conditioner is running rather than running 24-hour a day, 7-days a week, as is typically the case when the thermostat is set to “on”.

Routinely change your air conditioner’s air filter. Many people install their air filter and forget about it. But when filters become clogged with dirt and dust, your air conditioner has to work harder, thus raising your energy bills. You should change your filter once every 30 days during the summer months.

Turning lights off when you leave a room is a good way to save energy and, thus, lower your energy bill. Your actual savings depends on the type of lightbulbs you use, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

Switch to an “off-peak” energy-rate plan. These plans reward customers with reduced pricing for using energy during periods of time considered off-peak. Many electricity companies throughout Arizona offer assorted plans.

Seal air leaks. Caulking air leaks can save you up to 20% on your monthly cooling bill. You can also use spray foam. Focus on the windows and doors first followed by electrical outlets, switch plates, vents, electrical or gas service entrances, and attic hatches.

Invest in attic insulation for lower energy bills. You can save an estimated 10 to 30% off your monthly energy bill by properly insulating your attic. The higher the product’s R-Value (thermal resistance), the greater the savings.

*When used properly.