Best Applications for Spray Polyurethane Foam

Spray polyurethane foam

Spray polyurethane foam (SPF), available in either open-cell or closed-cell, provides stellar insulating performance. It expands to fill gaps, cracks and holes, creating a thermal barrier around a building’s envelope. This results in reduced air and moisture infiltration.

There are many additional advantages to sprayed insulation as well. For example: Energy efficiency, sound dampening, and durability. Homeowners will also benefit from reduced heating and cooling costs.

SPF Types & How It Works

There are three primary types of SPF: High-density, medium-density, and low-density.

Medium- and high-density, also called closed-cell foam has a higher R-value per inch (6.5), making it an ideal choice for exterior roofing, interior wall cavity fill, and unvented attic applications.

With a lower R-value per inch (3.5), low-density, or open-cell foam is often used for interior wall cavity fill and unvented attic applications. Both open-cell and closed-cell require professional installation.

A basic understanding of R-values is helpful when comparing any insulating material. R-value measures the insulation’s ability to reduce heat flow through a building’s envelope. The higher the value, the better. For recommendations, visit ENERGY STAR.

Source: “Recommended Home Insulation R-Values,” ENERGY STAR.GOV, 1999.

Spray polyurethane foam is made by mixing and reacting two liquids – “A” and “B” – to create foam. Mixing takes place on site using truck-mounted equipment. A professional insulator contractor then sprays it into place using special tools.

SPF expands on contact to form air and moisture barriers. This helps ensure a consistent temperature year ‘round – ultimately creating a comfortable living or working environment.

Where is Spray Polyurethane Foam Used?

Attics

Adding SPF to the attic is cost-effective. Because it expands, spray foam can effectively fill even the smallest gap, crack or hole in attics and crawlspaces. Combined with attic air sealing, it can also provide a moisture barrier, reducing the risk for mildew or mold growth.

Roofing

Spray polyurethane foam is often used in combination with protective coatings and other materials in the construction of a cool roof. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, cool roofs can save homeowners money on cooling costs in hot climates, but may increase costs in colder climates.

Interior Wall Cavities

Spray foam can be installed in a home’s wall cavities during new construction or renovations. There it can fill small cracks. The benefits for this project include sound proofing, energy efficiency, and increased comfort.

For more information on this and other types of insulation, contact Banker Insulation at (602) 273-1261 for a free quote.

Summer Cooling Bills: Don’t Sweat Them

summer cooling bills

In the Sonoran Desert, with temperatures already hovering in the high-90s, it’s safe to assume summer is here. A time for lazy days, warm nights and new experiences, summertime is great. It would be even better though if all you got between the months of May and August were tan lines. However, there are also summer cooling bills to consider, unless you’ve resolved to live at 80+ degrees 24-hours a day.

Did you know? According to the U.S. Department of Energy, air conditioners use about six percent of all the electricity produced in the United States, at annual cost of about $29 billion to homeowners. Air conditioners use energy to transfer heat from the interior of your home to the outside (Energy.gov, 2014).

Choosing high-efficiency, ENERGY STAR certified cooling equipment and taking other actions such as sealing air leaks, installing insulation and operating your thermostat efficiently, can help enhance the comfort of your home while saving energy – so you can spend your money on summer adventures not summer cooling bills. Bonus: Most of these energy-efficient measures will yield savings all year long.

Attic Insulation

Insulation has other advantages, as well, like absorbing emitted sounds and controlling humidity. Insulation can be blown into both walls and attics to reach the required R-value for Arizona. An environmentally friendly, inexpensive option that performs well, given the correct thickness is cellulose insulation. Other materials include fiberglass, mineral wool, and spray polyurethane foam. The decision-making process should include thorough consideration of the pros and cons for each material type.

Seal Air Leaks

Stopping air leaks through your home’s envelope – the windows, doors, outlets, and other openings – can decrease your energy consumption and, in turn, your utility bills. A professional energy audit is one of the most reliable and quickest ways to locate air leaks. Once completed, you can get to work sealing air leaks using caulk, weatherstripping and electrical socket sealers. These materials are generally very affordable and can be found at your local hardware or home improvement store.

Efficient Thermostat Operation

You can easily save energy in the summer by setting the thermostat to 78 degrees Fahrenheit only when you’re at home and setting it higher when you’re aware. You may also want to consider a programmable thermostat. There are many types available including those that learn your habits within two weeks of use. Some newer models are smartphone compatible, and allow you to remotely adjust the temperature if you’re going to be out later than initially planned.

Slashing Energy Costs with Smart Tech

slashing energy costs

The benefits of smart tech or more accurately, home automation technology include slashing energy costs and greater convenience. Lots of smart tech products, such as smart plugs, smart bulbs, programmable thermostats, and energy monitoring systems are compatible with one another and, using IFTTT applets, let you set different triggers to automate regular home processes; heating and cooling included. If you’re interested in slashing energy costs with smart tech, there’s no better time to start than now.

Here are some products we love.

Smart Plugs

Smart plugs let you control various “dumb” devices without needing to be in the room or, for that matter, the house. Smart plugs play nicely with both iOS and Android smartphones and tablets, along with integrating easily with other smart home products, such as light bulbs. They can be controlled with a compatible app or if you have an Amazon echo, Google Home or Apple HomeKit, your voice. No more wasting electricity by leaving the TV on when no one is watching it with a smart plug.

Smart Bulbs

Smart bulbs connect to your home’s Wi-Fi and work with several popular home automation platforms to provide a degree of control and interactivity that you just can’t get with traditional bulbs. With a smart bulb like Philips Hue White, you can schedule your lighting fixtures, ensuring you come home to a lit house without wasting electricity. Some bulbs can also automatically dim when it’s time to get ready for bed.

Programmable Thermostats

According to ENERGY STAR, the proper use of a programmable thermostat can save you about $180 every year in home energy costs. Take the guess work out of heating and cooling your home with a smart thermostat like the Nest Learning Thermostat, which learns what temperature you find most comfortable, and builds a schedule around yours to eliminate unnecessary energy use.

Energy Monitoring Systems

Do you want to cut your energy use to save money and/or reduce your carbon footprint? You may want to have a professional energy audit completed and purchase an affordable home energy monitoring system. These systems connect to your circuit breaker and send detailed, up-to-date information about your energy consumption straight to your smartphone or tablet in a user-friendly format, affording you the opportunity to take control of slashing your energy costs.

Residential Energy Consumption: How We Use Energy

residential energy consumption

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the average home spends $2,000 on energy costs per year for a 1,971-square foot home. Adopting energy-efficient technologies will not only lower your monthly expenditures, it can also improve occupant comfort, as well as quality of life.

Here’s a closer look at residential energy consumption along with some ideas to improve your home’s efficiency.

Heating and Cooling

Nearly half – 40% – of the average home’s utility bill goes towards heating and cooling. Switching from a manual to a programmable thermostat is an easy way to efficiently control the climate in your home. With a programmable thermostat, you can set the temperature to different, desirable levels during set times throughout the week. This can save you up to 10% a year on heating and cooling costs.

Water Heating

Water heating accounts for about 18% of your home’s energy use. Reducing your water use, and employing energy-saving strategies, such as installing a tankless or demand-type water heater and low-flow fixtures can help you reduce your monthly water heating bills.

When shopping for a new water heater, it’s important to calculate your household’s hot water demand to determine what size water heater you’ll need, ensuring there’s enough hot water to go around. You should also consider setting your water temperature to a comfortable 120˚F.

Finally, if your hot water heater is warm to the touch, consider insulating it to save up to 16% annually in water heating costs. Follow manufacturer recommendations.

Electronics

The average household has more than 20 electronics for a variety of purposes, such as daily work or school, entertainment and communication. Using energy-efficient products, those with the ENERGY STAR label, can save you money and prolong the life of your products. Many electronics continue to draw power, even when they’re turned off, so a surge protector can save an addition $100/year when you turn it off each night.

Lighting

Switching out five of your most frequently used lights with ENERGY STAR bulbs can save $75 a year on energy costs. Using automatic timers, motion sensors, and smart light bulbs to automatically turn lights on and off can also help you save money. Smart bulbs coupled with phone apps, afford you the opportunity to control your lights when you’re not home. You can also dim them without having to install dimmer switches.

Last Minute Holiday Gifts: Energy-Efficient Edition

Last Minute Holiday Gifts

Tis the season for friends, family, and giving. If you still need last minute gift ideas, we’ve compiled a list of some of the most popular energy-efficient products. Watch out – you may even find yourself adding them to your own holiday wish list.

Instant Pot

$100

These pots – great for preparing any number of sides and entrees – use up to 70% less energy than conventional cooking methods. With pressure cooking, heat is evenly and quickly distributed, so dinner is ready in a fraction of the time it takes other cooking methods (i.e., boiling, steaming, baking, and slow cooking). This makes cooking convenient; especially for families always on the go.

Smart Speakers

Price Varies

There are a lot of options for smart speakers out there, but two devices reign supreme: Google Home and Amazon’s Echo. They both let users control their music, podcasts, and a wide assortment of smart home products. They are also both available in full and mini sizes. Which one is best? Ultimately, it’s a matter of preference, and which smart home ecosystem the receiver already owns or is planning to invest in.

Indoor Air Quality Monitors

$150

Know someone with allergies? Give them the gift of an air quality monitor, which allows them to accurately measure up to six main air quality indicators, including TVOC, CO2, PM2.5, PM10, temperature, and humidity. Users can visualize their indoor air quality with a compatible app. Smart home integration means that it works with select smart speakers. Its portable design allows users to set it anywhere they’d like.

Smart Thermostats

$250

Heating and cooling accounts for half the energy bill in most homes – more than appliances (big and small) or electronics. Smart thermostats, such as the Nest Learning Thermostat, work with smart speakers like Google Home and Amazon’s Echo to provide demonstrated energy savings and environmental benefits. Nest learns your schedule and preferred temperatures, programming itself for automatic comfort in about a week.

LED Smart Bulbs

Price Varies

With smart light bulbs, you no longer need to remember to turn off the lights, or come home to a dark house. Smart light bulbs are available in different shades of white, from warm to cool white, and color changing LEDs. Most are compatible with select smart speakers to allow you to control your lights with your voice. They also work with standard light fixtures; recessed lighting included. Pair with other smart devices for total home automation and energy efficiency.

Winter Energy Conservation Tips

Winter Energy Conservation Tips

Use less energy without sacrificing comfort with these six winter energy conservation tips.

Change Your Filter Regularly

The changing season – from fall to winter – is the perfect time to change the filter in your HVAC unit. This easy, cost-effective 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 into your living spaces. This allows you to turn the temperature down and still stay warm. There is generally 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/cooling costs. Smart or programmable thermostats can adjust the temperature for you.

Insulate Your Attic

To maintain comfort, heat loss must be mitigated 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 specific zone and 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 your local home improvement store – are two cost-effective ways to cut heating/cooling costs and increase occupant comfort. Before air sealing, you should schedule an energy audit.

Schedule a Home Energy Audit

An energy audit can help you determine where your house is losing energy and money.  A professional technician – often called an energy auditor – will check for leaks, examine insulation, inspect your heating system, perform a blower door test, and more using an infrared camera. The technician will then recommend low-cost improvements to save energy, such as increasing your insulation or sealing air leaks.

Use LED Holiday Lights

Incandescent holiday lights are terribly inefficient, and despite careful storage, often emerge damaged. LEDs, while a little more expensive, 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 both indoor and outdoor lighting. Additionally, during the biggest holiday shopping weekend – Thanksgiving through Black Friday – many retailers sell LEDs for a fraction of the cost, making them very affordable.

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.

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.