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24 February 2014
Cold winds and freezing temperatures snuck up on many of us this year before we had time to winterize our homes. Making small adjustments in your home can save energy, lower heating bills and keep you warmer.
Finding a balance between being comfortable and conserving energy is key. Some areas to focus on when winterizing your home include checking the furnace, insulation, and the windows, doors and outlets for leaks to the outdoors.
Evaluating home insulation
If the home has not had updates to the insulation in more than 30 years, there is no question that the insulation of that home should be checked and updated.
You can evaluate the depth that is there and whether or not it would be warranted to add more insulation or add blown-in insulation on top of that. One of the things that may be missed in attic insulation is the sealing of gaps and holes in the attic floor, where piping, wiring, and electrical, water and plumbing lines run. Many times this allows for air leakage.
There are two options to consider for insulating crawl spaces—insulating the perimeter wall or insulating the underside of the floor. Insulating the perimeter wall to make the crawl space an insulated space is typically easier than insulating the underside of the floor, and is probably a better long-term strategy. It might keep homeowners from having to do additional insulation around pipes and ducts that convey heated air or water.
For more information on adding insulation to an older home, contact Custom Insulation.
17 February 2014
It’s one of the coldest winters in recent memory, and with that comes the sky-high cost of heating your home. That price can be even more painful if your home isn’t properly insulated or winterized.
An energy saver specialist tries to help homeowners figure out why their homes get unbearably cold, while the cost to heat it each month is hundreds of dollars.
A common problem is in the basement. Often there are uninsulated floors – or basement ceilings. So there is cold air in the basement. Warm air rises and leaves the home through the attic. That pulls the cold air from the basement and pulls it up into the house.
Another common issue is that heating ducts are often not insulated. That means the hot air that should be getting up onto the main floor is leaking out into the basement. Spray foam insulation is the best value for the dollar to fix this problem. That way the heated, or conditioned air stays where it’s supposed to.
Fixing insulation problems can save up to 40% on your heating bill. For more information on improving home insulation, contact Custom Insulation.
10 February 2014
There has been a lot of snow around Boston and Worcester. Your home may look beautiful with all the icicles hanging off the roof, but in actuality, looks can be deceiving. Icicles are a sign of a much larger problem, which can become costly: Ice dams.
Ice dams and icicles form when snow melts, runs down your roof and refreezes near the edge. This only occurs when part of your roof warms to above 32 degrees F, warm enough to melt the snow, while the roof edge remains below freezing. This scenario is often the result of a warm attic. In most homes, heat escapes through ceilings into the attic and warms the wood and shingles directly above it. Although the outdoor temperature is below freezing, the snow melts over the warmed section of roof. When the water from melted snow and ice runs down the roof, it hits the cold edge not warmed by the attic. There it freezes, creating a rim of ice. This rim can grow, trap more water behind it, and bingo—you have a full-fledged ice dam.
The key to preventing ice dams is simply to keep your attic and roof cold. After a snowfall, a cold roof will have a thick blanket of snow. A warmer roof, however, will soon have clear spots where the snow has melted off, and may well have icicles hanging from the eaves.
To keep your roof cold, follow these three steps:
1. Close up attic bypasses
In the average home, about one-third of the heat loss is through the ceiling into the attic. And most of that loss comes from air leaks caused by unblocked walls, gaps in drywall, and cracks around light fixtures, plumbing pipes, chimneys, access hatches and other ceiling penetrations. Air leaks can be tough to stop. You have to climb into your attic, pull or rake back insulation, and plug the leaks using foam, caulk and other methods. Low roof angles make some air leaks difficult to reach.
Bonus: By stopping air leakage to mitigate ice dams, you'll save energy and reduce both your heating and your air conditioning bills.
2. Measure your attic insulation level
You should have the depth of your attic insulation checked and measured. Building codes require about 12 to 14 in. of fiberglass or cellulose. Have more insulation added if you have less than 8 inches and if you have had ice dam problems in the past. Blown-in cellulose and fiberglass are usually better than hand-placed batts, because they fill more tightly around rafters, joists and other obstructions, leaving fewer gaps. It's usually worth hiring a professional for this job; you won't save much by doing it yourself.
3. Add roof and soffit vents
Attic ventilation draws in cold outdoor air and flushes out warmer attic air, cooling the attic and the roof in the process.
Insulation, especially blown-in insulation, can block the airflow. Insulation specialists should make sure the spaces between rafters over the exterior walls are open. Baffles usually prevent this problem. If you don't have them, have them added before installing additional insulation. A shot of air from a compressor hose from the outside will open plugged soffit vents.
For more information on adding insulation to prevent ice dams, contact Custom Insulation.
3 February 2014
For energy efficiency in all kinds of weather, your home should be properly insulated. Too often only in the everyday living spaces are insulated, leaving attics, basements and garages chillier.
Rolls and batts of insulation, made of fiberglass or rock wool, are inexpensive and quick to install in open areas such as an attic floor.
Those are the spots where the most energy is lost. This not only can cause the house to be uncomfortable, it can lead to higher energy bills.
The biggest mistake made is "overstuffing the space."
When there's too much insulation, it stops being an insulator and actually becomes a conductor. Expansion rates vary with foam insulation, and too much can actually cause walls and jambs to buckle. That's a case where too much works against you.
Other examples of what not to do:
Failing to fill the smaller spaces, such as around windows and doors. Even tiny spaces can become big energy loss problems.
Not leaving room for air to circulate. Failure to do this can lead to mold and condensation build-up.
Types of Insulation
Insulation is made of a variety of materials, and comes in four types.
Rolls and batt insulation (blankets) - flexible products made from fibers, such as fiberglass or rock wool. These come in different widths to fit the standard spacing of wall studs and attic or floor joists. Fiberglass batts, the insulation found in most homes, are inexpensive and quick to install. Like other batt-type insulation, fiberglass is rolled and secured into place, but may be difficult to fit around obstacles without leaving gaps.
Loose-fill insulation - usually made of fiberglass, rock wool or cellulose in the form of loose fibers or fiber pellets. This should be blown into spaces using special equipment. It conforms to odd-sized openings.
Rigid foam insulation - typically more expensive, but very effective when used in exterior walls and for special applications such as attic hatch doors.
Spray- foam insulation - can be blown into walls, on attic surfaces or under doors to reduce air leakage. There are several types, depending on the space that needs to be filled and how much you'd like the insulation to expand.
Where to Insulate
Insulating the following areas of your home can help keep you comfortable year-round:
Unfinished attic spaces - between and over floor joists; attic access doors.
Finished attic spaces (with or without dormers) - between studs of "knee" walls (vertical walls with attic space directly behind them); between studs and rafters of exterior walls and roof; ceilings with cold spaces above.
All exterior walls - between living spaces and unheated garages, shed roofs and storage areas; foundation walls above ground level.
Floors above cold spaces - vented crawl spaces and unheated garages; any portion of the floor that is cantilevered beyond the exterior wall below.
For more information, contact Custom Insulation.
28 January 2014
With another blast of frigid temperatures in Worcester, you may be wondering how you can keep your heating bill under control.
There are plenty of ways to save money while heating your home. The most popular alternative heating method is with wood pellet stoves. They are small pieces of condensed wood that are stored in pellet stoves, and gradually fed into a fire.
Pellet stoves give you a constant flame, lots of heat, and requires little or no adjustments. They burn hotter than open fireplaces which means they give off more heat, and they are easier to install than wood stoves or gas stoves because they can be vented through any outside wall.
Pellets stoves are in high demand because they are easy to use, easy to maintain and easy to budget. Custom Insulation can help you decide what size pellet stove you need based on how much space you want to heat. Pellet stoves can heat an entire home, or they can supplement you oil or gas heating system. Additionally, pellet stove retailers can tell you how much pellets you need to buy in order to heat that space all winter. This way, you can plan for your heating bill rather than get surprised by it each time fossil fuel prices rise.
For those who are using pellets, it’s important to use high quality pellets, they burn hotter and create less ash, meaning less pellet stove cleaning.
A quality pellet is low ash, low moisture, and is considered a premium pellet. The price of low quality pellets may seem attractive at first, but higher quality is better.
Those pellets also burn cleaner and are better for the environment. Pellets are a renewable energy source and are a lot easier and nicer to handle than traditional firewood. This is another advantage of pellet stoves over wood.
For more information, contact Custom Insulation.
21 January 2014
Massachusetts is expecting another stretch of extremely cold weather this week. It is only mid-January and there is a lot of winter left. The arctic blasts we have been getting all winter long this year have made getting a pellet stove insert installed in your home a great idea.
The cold weather has meant that this winter has been a long season of heating costs so far. Pellet stove inserts are growing in popularity. That’s because they can be the main heating source for the whole home.
Pellet fireplace inserts cost typically cost between $1,000 to $3,000. However, they can pay for themselves in no time, especially if you have oil heat. Just the cost factor alone makes pellet stove inserts worth consideration. You’re looking at maybe $5 per day, the cost of heating a house with a bag of pellets. And, pellet inserts are easy to use and easy to maintain.
When it comes to buying the pellets, they’re available by the ton, which will keep your home supplied for quite a while. Additionally, the cost of pellets does not fluctuate which makes heating your home easy to budget.
Powerful, efficient and fully automatic heating combines with customizable style options to create the ideal pellet fireplace insert. Winslow pellet inserts deliver inviting, efficient and reliable heat in an attractive design that can be customized to complement your home décor. Ease of use and serviceability are designed right into this pellet insert with convenient features like easy access to components, a unique air wash system for maintaining amazingly clean glass and a self-cleaning burn pot. The heating technology provides the ultimate in precision heating and comfort control. Plus, with fully automatic operation, the Winslow works like a regular furnace, allowing you to set your desired temperature and walk away.
For more information on Winslow pellet inserts, contact Custom Insulation.
13 January 2014
Spray foam insulation is a smart choice in insulating your home. Spray foam insulation not only keeps your home warm, it also protects your home from mold and mildew, as well as insects and pests. Additionally, it is a safe way to insulate your home because it fire resistant.
When moisture gets into your home, mold can grow causing major health problems. Traditionally home insulation cannot keep the water out of your walls, ceilings and floors.
Spray foam insulation works against water because it expands to fill all open spaces causing a seal and it will not chip and crack over time. Water leaking into wall and floor cracks is leading cause of mold in basements. With spray foam insulation, these cracks are filled and sealed.
Cracks in insulation mean air pockets. Insects and pests are attracted to these air pockets. Spray foam insulation fills all the cracks and holes in your foundation walls and basement ceiling. Because all the cracks are sealed, no bugs can find a home in your walls.
Spray foam insulation expands and fills spaces and exactly fills the crevices and cracks around the basement or attic where it is installed.
Another advantage of spray foam insulation over traditional home insulation is that it is fire resistant. Having your ceilings, walls and crawl spaces insulated with spray foam protects you and your family from house fires that would traditionally travel through walls. With traditional insulation, not only is it flammable, there are air pockets around it. Spray foam is fire resistant and there are no air pockets to feed the fire.
For more information on spray foam insulation, contact Custom Insulation.
6 January 2014
Newly built homes have fantastic energy efficiency standards. Older homes, in fact most homes that are already built, don’t even come close to meeting those efficiency goals. The simplest way to make you older home significantly more energy efficient is to add insulation. In an existing home, this is easy to do with blown-in insulation in the attic.
Proper home insulation will keep your home warmer during the winter and cooler during the summer. Now with environmental concerns as well as a tightening economy, insulation is a great way to save energy and money. Especially in areas where it is cold like Boston and Worcester, the most effective solution to reduce heating bills is blown-in insulation.
One benefit to adding blown-in insulation is that it is adjustable. You can adjust to the R-value that you need. Add a few inches if you need an R-value of 15 or several inches if you need an R-value of 30. Blown-in insulation also gives your home a tighter seal because it fills all the cracks and crevices in the attic, making it very energy efficient. Blown –in insulation also has less allergens than fiberglass or batt.
Adding insulation to an existing home will have an initial cash outlay, however it will pay for itself over time. With lower energy costs and a warmer home, using blown-in insulation makes the most sense. For more information, contact Custom Insulation.
31 December 2013
Remodeled homes definitely have their appeal, but more and more, homes with energy efficient and environmentally friendly features are becoming a priority for prospective buyers. Home insulation can increase the desirability of your home.
According to the National Association of REALTORS 2012 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, nearly nine out of 10 recent home buyers said that heating and cooling costs were somewhat or very important when considering a home for purchase.
Realtors know that consumer demand for greener homes has grown considerably over the past several years. Going green has proven to be more than a trend; many people now seek out this way of living and want homes and communities that are more resource efficient and sensitive to the environment. As energy savings and green building features are becoming more important to buyers, sellers and businesses, it comes as no surprise that consumers are placing a higher value on properties with those features.
Homes with the right home insulation have lower energy costs. Simple math shows how a higher energy efficiency rating offers homeowners the opportunity to save more money in heating and cooling costs alone.
NAR data shows how features directly affecting monthly energy costs are important to buyers. 39% of survey respondents reported that a home’s heating and cooling costs were very important when considering a home for purchase.
Regionally, buyers in the north and south placed a greater importance on heating and cooling costs, most likely due to the more extreme temperatures in these areas of the country. Nearly 60 percent of buyers who bought homes built in 2011 said heating and cooling costs were very important.
As energy costs continue to rise, look for those numbers to increase right along with them.
While new construction features like lot design, preparation and development are fairly set in stone in an existing home, there are many options when it comes to energy efficiency (improvements that will make the home less expensive to operate and more comfortable to live in), home insulation, water efficiency and indoor air quality.
While replacing HVAC or adding insulation may not be on the same level as a new kitchen or bathroom when it comes to appearances, they are definitely a smart way to use your remodeling budget. Not only will energy-efficient improvements start paying you back immediately, they will also make your home more comfortable no matter what season it is.
23 December 2013
Hello Friends of Custom Insulation
Christmas is here and the New Year starts next week. We will all be turning our thoughts to blessings, family, and presents! But a winter storm is sweeping the US and Mother Nature is not in the holiday spirit. As always, your friends at Custom Insulation will be there to help you (or anyone you discover) who needs new or additional home insulation in Boston and Worcester and the surrounding areas.
It is our sincere wish that this holiday blog post finds you all comfortably warm and surrounded by family. To all of our loyal customers, we simply pass along our most sincere best wishes and thanks for partnering with us for yet another year. We work hard to earn your continued trust and we want you to know that we do not take your trust for granted. Happy Holidays and Happy New Year to you, your family, and to all you hold dear.
Insulation helps keep your house cool in the summer!