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.

Everything You Need to Know About Attic Insulation

attic insulation

Would you like to save on home energy costs?

By adding attic insulation, you are provided with some of the largest opportunities to save energy in your home, as well as maintain a comfortable temperature throughout much more efficiently. Whether it is summer or winter, adding attic insulation makes your house a lot more livable, while saving you some much needed dough.

In addition, according to Remodeling magazine’s 2016 Cost vs. Value report, adding attic insulation is the #1 home improvement project with the best return on investment (ROI). In fact, attic insulation was the only home improvement project to provide over a 100% return on investment, recouping you 116.9%.

There are also several tax credits you should be aware of. According to ENERGY STAR, typical bulk insulation products like those mentioned below, qualify for a federal tax credit amount of 10% of the cost; up to $500. This tax credit is available for purchases made in 2016, as well as retroactive to purchases made in 2015.

  • Rolls
  • Batts
  • Rigid boards
  • Blow-in fibers
  • Pour-in-place
  • Expanding spray foam

Fiberglass, cellulose, mineral wool, spray foam, foam board, and cotton batting all qualify for the energy tax credit as long as its primary purpose is to a) insulate and b) bring your home up to recommended R-value guidelines. For insulation recommendations tailored to your home, visit the DOE’s Home Energy Saver Tool.

Products that reduce air leaks such as weather stripping, canned spray foam, caulk designed specifically for air sealing, and house wrap also qualifies for these tax credits as long as they come with a Manufacturers Certification Statement. Professional installation costs are NOT included.

Should I Invest in Attic Insulation?

If your home experiences any of the following symptoms, you may want to consider adding adequate levels of insulation to your home’s attic space, along with its interior walls, floors, and crawl spaces. Note that the EPA recommends air sealing the attic using any one of the aforementioned products before adding insulation.

  • Drafty rooms.
  • Hot or cold ceilings or walls.
  • High heating or cooling costs.
  • Uneven temperatures between rooms.
  • Ice dams in the winter (where applicable).

Determining Proper Insulation R-Values

Understanding an insulation material’s R-value – a measure of how well it resists the flow of heat – is very important. The higher the number, the better the insulating power, and the more energy you will save. If your home is not properly insulated – which is often the case in Arizona – the higher your energy bills will be.

Recommended R-values are 30 to 60 for most attic spaces, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, with R-38 (or about 12 to 15 inches, depending on material type) being considered the “sweet spot.” In colder climates like Flagstaff, Prescott or Payson, go for R-49.

Professional Installation by Banker Insulation

As a locally owned and operated insulation contractor, servicing the entire state of Arizona, we take great pride in all aspects of what we do. We specialize in both residential and commercial insulation installs. No job is ever too big or small for us to handle and we happily provide free in-home estimates. Contact us today to learn more.

Home Insulation Benefits

home insulation benefits

A kaleidoscope of colors can be found right outside your door. Pumpkin flavored coffee, scones, and pies are readily available. Halloween candy and decorations fill the stores. Now that fall is officially here, and winter isn’t too far off, it’s the perfect time to make sure your house is prepared for the cold weather ahead.

One of the most telling signs of a poorly insulated house is when you notice your energy bills are sky high, but your house remains chilly enough to warrant you donning a sweater, and sipping on hot coffee just to stay warm. If this sounds familiar, insulating early on (before winter), is the smart choice.

When you see the home insulation benefits, you’ll wonder why you didn’t add insulation earlier.

You’ll Save Money

You’ll save quite a bit of money on electricity bills by getting a head start on insulating your home. Insulation, done right, makes your home more energy efficient thus lowering your energy consumption – and bills. If you insulate your home early on, you will start saving money the moment you turn the heater on, which is when Jack Frost appears. That will allow you to save more for the holidays.

You’ll Get a Head Start on Home Repairs

When it comes to caring for your home, your car or even yourself, waiting until a problem grows is never a good idea. Getting a head start on the situation will save you some time and money. Insulation is no different. Installing it when the weather is still pleasant will ensure your comfort during the winter months. Insulating in the fall will also save you money on installation costs and, as mentioned previously, electricity bills.

You’ll Soundproof Your Home

One of the most overlooked values of insulation is soundproofing. Adding insulation to the walls and ceiling of offices, home theater rooms, nurseries, and bedrooms is a sound choice. Insulting exterior walls can lessen or eliminate uncontrollable noise from sources such as obnoxious neighbors, traffic, construction, etc. from entering your home and ruining your rest and relaxation.

Ready to get started? Contact Banker Insulation today: (602) 273-1261!

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.

The 411 On Fiberglass Insulation

fiberglass insulation

Having fiberglass insulation professionally installed is one of most environmentally friendly, not to mention…valuable, things a homeowner can do. This project offers many benefits, such as, the reduction of heating and cooling costs by approximately 30 percent with proper insulation. And, with the reduction of heating/cooling costs, comes monetary savings for you.

According to Remodeling magazine’s Cost vs. Value report for 2016, the fiberglass attic insulation project (new for this year) produced the top return on cost of any of the 30 projects in this year’s report. If you insulated your attic with fiberglass insulation, which costs an average of $1,268, you can expect to receive 116.9 percent or $1,482 of that back at resale.

Fiberglass Insulation

The most common type of insulation, fiberglass is composed of glass, which is used in a wide variety of applications. As an insulator, fiberglass slows the spread of heat, cold, and sound in homes. By trapping pockets of air, it keep rooms warm in the winter and cool in the summer, thereby reducing a home’s energy consumption by up to 40%.

Fiberglass can be installed in various parts of a home’s envelope. It can be pink, yellow, white or green, depending on the manufacturer. Commonly found in blanket form, called batts, it is available in bags containing standard pre-cut lengths and widths. It is also available in loose fill, which is professionally blown into attics, walls and floor cavities.

Fiberglass insulation is available in a wide variety of thickness. Thicker materials offer a higher resistance to heat flow. This resistance is known as an R-value. Common R-values associated with fiberglass are R11 to R19 for flooring, and R30 to R38 for ceilings and attics. The higher the R-value, the more energy efficient the material will be.

Federal Tax Credits

Planning on staying in your home? A federal energy tax credit can help you recoup a percentage of your insulation investment if you complete the improvements by the end of 2016. A tax credit is actually a dollar-for-dollar reduction in taxes equal to 10 percent of the cost of insulation (up to $500). Tax credits do not include installation costs. Click here for more information.

New Home Energy Efficiency

new home energy efficiency

Step #1: Invest in a Home Energy Audit

Before you can make or increase your new home energy efficiency, it’s important to arm yourself with as much information as possible, so that you know and understand where you correctly stand.

To learn more about how a home energy audit can help you, please click here.

An energy audit, which is completed by a highly experienced energy auditor, is used to evaluate your home’s energy use. You will receive recommendations for cost-effective measures to improve your home’s comfort and efficiency upon the audit’s completion.

Step #2: Properly Air Seal Your Home

Adding new or additional insulation to your ceilings, attic and/or walls along with locating and treating any holes or gaps throughout your home will prevent your hard earned money from flying out the windows (so to speak).

Adequate levels of insulation slows the rate that heat flows out of your home in the winter or into the house in the summer. This allows you to reduce the amount of energy required to heat and/or cool your home throughout the year; thus saving you money.

Step #3: Purchase a Programmable Thermostat

One of the easiest methods for saving money on your new home’s monthly utility bills, which is also very cost-effective, is to simply purchase and install a programmable thermostat. For it to work properly, you will also need to ensure you’re using it correctly.

The Department of Energy estimates that by dropping the temperature in your home in the winter and increasing it in the summer by 10 to 15 degrees (depending on time of day and your preferences) for eight hour stretches you can save up to 15 percent annually.

Step #4: Change Your HVAC Air Filters Regularly

Are your air filters clogged? Energy Star recommends changing your air filter every month – or every three months if you invest in HEPA quality air filters – especially during the winter and summer months as more demand is placed on your HVAC system.

The benefits behind this small action go far beyond increasing your energy efficiency as you will also extend the life of your HVAC system, maintain a healthy level of indoor air quality and keep your entire heating and cooling system free from excess debris.

Step #5: Replace Traditional Light Bulbs Throughout

Compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) use three-quarters less electricity than that of traditional incandescent light bulbs. While these light bulbs are a bit more expensive than incandescent, they last longer (10,000 vs. 1,000 hours) and use less watts, which makes them a worthwhile expenditure.

Considering the fact that lighting can account for up to 25 percent of your home’s energy costs, there’s never been a better time to make the switch from traditional incandescent light bulbs to compact fluorescent lamps or even light-emitting diode bulbs (LEDs); your preference.

Upgraded Home Energy Audits

home energy audits

{Image Source: energy.gov}

In 2007, Google deployed a fleet of vehicles with roof-mounted cameras, which allowed them to provide its “Maps” users with detailed street-level images of neighborhood roadways around the world.

The concept of using vehicles equipped with cameras paved the way for a revolutionary startup company by the name of Essess to recently unleash a fleet of vehicles with roof-mounted thermal imaging cameras that create accurate heat assessments of homes and buildings.

Founded in 2011, the company has assessed more than 4 million homes and buildings in cities across the United States, in order to curb excessive energy loss; which is something we all know accounts for wasted dollars.

Not Your Average Home Energy Audits

Traditional home energy audits, which are typically offered by many power companies, are comprised of a visual inspection that identifies energy hogging appliances, leaky windows, doors and air ducts, as well as missing insulation materials and more.

A drive-by energy audit, however, utilizes a high-tech method that focuses on a building’s envelope in order to provide utility companies with a lot of information about thousands of homes in the time it takes to complete one home. Information received is said to very specific for each home analyzed.

Potential clients will be presented with detailed information regarding any leaking windows or doors, faulty air ducts, areas lacking the recommended amount of insulation materials for that size home, and other useful information so that they can make an informed decision.

Efficiently Saving You Money

Taking the necessary steps to curb any energy loss within your home can save you as much as $600 a year according to U.S. Department of Energy – this is not accounting for the many federal tax credits that may be available to you. For more information on available energy efficiency tax credits, click here.

Hiring an Insulation Contractor?

insulation contractor

Insulation is a wonderful thing which is virtually invisible to most homeowners as it is hidden in wall cavities, attics and basements, as well as garage doors. Unless, of course, they search it out. Insulation provides a basis for warmth, comfort, and efficiency.

Speaking of efficiency, insulation can provide homeowners with the means to reduce their energy bills by up to 25% in the summer months, and almost 50% in the winter months.* All they have to do is upgrade or retrofit their homes with the proper levels of insulating materials.

To receive all of the benefits that insulation can provide homeowners, and everyone else that has a vested interest in homes such as home builders, should refrain from shopping for the best price when it comes to finding an insulation contractor.

While you will find that insulation materials are virtually the same from one insulation provider to the next, the same principal certainly does not hold true regarding insulation contractors, as no two contractors are ever the same. Allow us to explain why in further detail below.

Let’s say you go to craigslist in search of a reliable, yet extremely affordable insulation contractor (or any contractor for that matter), which I’m sure there are many. After receiving three estimates (I hope), you decide to go with the cheapest contractor, which means you also have to buy all materials yourself.

Now, please don’t get me wrong, you may very well wind up with a contractor that provides exemplary service. But if you do, you should definitely count your lucky stars, as this is typically not the case. Why? Simply because labor costs are higher the more experienced the contractor becomes.

With experience come higher overhead costs such as insurance and contractor licensing fees – just to name a couple. This is something that can be applied to any occupation, not just in the construction industry. Those with under one year of experience generally don’t carry insurance nor are they licensed.

In light of the above, you’re simply better off hiring one of our insulation contractors, as we at Banker Insulation only hire those with years of experience. And, with 37 years of industry experience, you can rest assured that we have the proper insurance and licenses.

*Source: U.S. Department of Energy