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.

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.

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.