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.

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.

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.

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.

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!

Fall Preparation

fall preparation

Despite continuing triple-digit temperatures here in the Valley of the Sun, fall is just around the corner, which means cooler weather is on its way. As we enjoy our last few blissful weeks of summer, it’s wise to start getting our homes ready for the season ahead before it sneaks up on us. Here are a few projects you can complete in preparation of the fall season. Bring on the pumpkin spice lattes!

Interior Maintenance

  1. Check for drafts. Stay warm, save energy and reduce your heating bills this fall by visually examining your home’s windows and doors for obvious issues, such as gaps and cracks. Other sources of drafts may include, but are not limited to, knee walls, attic hatch/opening, wiring holes, plumbing vents, and recessed lights. Fall is a great time to seal and/or caulk around all gaps and cracks to prevent drafts.
  2. Install a programmable thermostat. If you haven’t already, purchase and install a programmable thermostat. Already have one? Be sure to check the temperature settings. Setting the thermostat to automatically lower the temperature at night and when you’re not home, can result in increased energy efficiency, and substantial cost savings.
  3. Have your heating system inspected. Hire an HVAC professional to inspect your heating system. They should test for leaks, check system efficiency, and change the filter. If your system runs on gas, they will also check for carbon monoxide in the air, in order to ensure air safety. It is also a good idea to changer your return filters monthly during the fall and winter months.
  4. Keep yourself and your family safe. Replace the batteries in all smoke detectors, heat detectors, and carbon monoxide devices. Test each one to make sure they’re working properly. You may also want to draft or review a fire safety plan with your family. The NFPA is a good resource for fire safety plan information.
  5. Ensure adequate levels of insulation. Insulation is another important way to prepare your home for fall and winter. According to the Department of Energy, “In winter, heat in your home will try to flow directly from all heated living spaces to adjacent unheated attics, garages, basements, and even to the outdoors.” This can cause your heating system to work harder than it needs to, decreasing your home’s efficiency, and costing you money. For a toasty warm home, make sure your home has adequate levels of insulation by contacting a professional insulation contractor.

Exterior Maintenance

  1. Clean the gutters. It is a good idea to remove leaves and other debris from your gutters once in the fall and again in the spring to avoid overflow and damage. Debris-ridden gutters can tear away from your house, overflow, or even damage your foundation – potentially costing you thousands of dollars’ worth of trouble. You can have your gutters professionally serviced or clean them yourself.
  2. Do a roof check. Inspecting your roof is one task that’s easy to overlook. Don’t! From the ground, you can visually inspect your roof for signs of deterioration, damage, and/or loose or missing shingles. Look at the condition of the flashing too. Back inside (preferably in the attic), check for daylight peeking through the rafters.
  3. Spring for a chimney sweep. If you have a wood-burning fireplace, that you plan on using come winter, fall is the perfect time to make sure its chimney and vents are inspected and cleaned. Search for a certified chimney sweeper at Chimney Safety Institute of America.
  4. Gear up on winter essentials. If you live in a part of Arizona that experiences snowfall or have plans to visit the snow, then you may want to restock on winter essentials, like ice melt or salt before the first winter storm hits. Replace damaged or worn shovels, sleds, and other winter toys well ahead of the crowds.

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.