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Copper Gutters Are Green Home Improvements – Worcester, Boston

24 March 2014

It may not feel like it quite yet, but spring is here. This is the time to start planning those outdoor home improvement projects. ‘Green’ are more attractive to homeowners and home buyers. You need a new gutter system, but how can you make a ‘green’ choice? Home owners with the environment in mind are turning to copper gutters.

But, not only is copper the green choice, it is also the best choice for gutters. Actually, copper is one of only a few materials that is considered to be fully sustainable. Barely any of the copper reserves worldwide have been mined, and that copper that has been mined is still in use today! In fact, more than half of all the copper used for architectural purposes is recycled.

One of the biggest advantages of copper gutters is their lifespan, they can last for more than 100 years. Obviously, this means that for the life of your home you won’t ever have to replace your gutters. A peripheral benefit of this is a decrease in energy and fuel use in producing PVC and aluminum gutters are more homeowners choose copper.

Even better, copper gutters are essentially maintenance free as well. So, for the next hundred years, you don’t have to worry about your home gutter system. Copper is a natural algaecide and fungicide. Moss is one of the biggest causes of clogged gutters and copper automatically inhibits its growth.

Needless to say, copper gutters are far more attractive than any other gutter material. So from an aesthetics perspective, as well as an environmental one, copper gutters are the perfect choice for your home.

For more information on copper gutter systems, contact Custom Insulation.

Insulating an Older Home is Worth the Cost – Boston, Worcester

17 March 2014

Most people don’t get a chance to see a house during construction. If you do get a chance to see the process from the ground up, it’s a good experience. You see how much effort goes into compacting the soil and putting in underground plumbing before the concrete is placed, for example. And, using that example, you quickly see how a small mistake made at one phase can have a dramatic impact on some later phase.

Eventually you get to the point where the walls are insulated. Nowadays a building inspector will spend a lot of time looking for insulation problems and corrections. Foam insulation is required along the connection from the floor and between framing. Caulking or foam is required in all the wiring holes between the walls and the ceilings.

Of course, the walls need to be fully insulated and the ceilings or attics need to be completely insulated too. The requirements keep getting stricter and that’s a good thing in my experience.

Years ago, none of that was required. There was no wall insulation and there wasn’t even ceiling insulation. It was like living in a work shed with drywall on the walls and ceilings.

Insulation is very inexpensive compared to the long-term benefits. An un-insulated house will probably cost several hundred dollars a month to keep warm or cool these days.

One often thinks that the added expense and time involved in insulating might not be worth the trouble.

There are still lots of houses with little or no insulation and fixing that problem is pretty easy these days. There are also various funding sources.

The first step is to call an insulation company because they will be more familiar with the latest products, techniques and requirements.

Get options and get the highest insulation value you can reasonably afford. It will pay off later.

Also, have the old insulation completely removed. It’s a good opportunity to get rid of other stuff in your attic and to inspect wiring, plumbing, and air conditioning ducts.

For more information on insulating older homes, contact Custom Insulation.


Before Updating HVAC, Update Insulation – Boston, Worcester

10 March 2014

After this winter, many homeowners are considering replacing their heating or HVAC system. But there are some questions you should ask yourself before you make that big investment.

Have you recently upgraded the thermal envelope of your house? The thermal envelope of your house is everything that separates the living space from the outside, including walls, doors, windows, insulation and the roof. If you’ve been sealing leaks, eliminating drafts, replacing old windows or adding insulation, you’ve been making your home more energy efficient.

With thermal envelope upgrades, the home will lose less heat in the winter and therefore the heating appliance likely won’t need to provide as much energy. Depending on the reduction in energy use, it’s possible that your heating appliance could become oversized and a smaller system may operate more efficiently. Upgrading and updating your home insulation means that your home will stay warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer, reducing energy costs year round.

Is your current heating appliance more than 20 years old? Appliances made today are far more efficient than older models. They use less fuel, they are also safer, and they are more efficient. Also, the methods to size a heating system are better and can be tailored to individual homes.

Do you have rooms that are always too hot or too cold? This can be the result of air leaks, inadequate insulation, an improperly sized heating appliance or lack of zoning in your heating system. If you need to add insulation or seal leaks, take care of that before upgrading your heating system so that the heating system will be sized properly for your home.

For more information on updating home insulation, contact Custom Insulation.


Spray Foam Insulation Reduces Energy Bills – Worcester, Boston

3 March 2014

Whether it's the chill of winter or the heat of summer, our natural instincts are to adjust the indoor temperature to make our homes more comfortable all year long. But if your home has any drafts or is insulated poorly, expect indoor temperatures to fluctuate dramatically.

Leaks and drafts can hinder the performance of your HVAC equipment and cause your utility bills to skyrocket. Why? Conditioned air continually escapes the home due to the gaps within the building envelope, and HVAC equipment will work overtime to reach the thermostat's set temperature. Air leakage contributes to potential moisture problems that can affect health and the home's durability.

Once all sources of air leaks have been identified, air sealing techniques and materials can be applied. Caulking and weather-stripping are two of the most popular and common techniques that can help address air leaks. A recent study showed that heat transfer was much lower in a home that has spray foam insulation than with other, more traditional insulation. The reduction, about 15% indicates minimal thermal transmission and better block of heat transference, which can have a significant impact on how homeowners heat and cool their home.

Installed by professionals, spray foam insulation works well in all climates to completely seal your home, filling every gap to stop air leaks and help reduce the strain on HVAC equipment. Spray foam insulation both insulates and air seals the entire building envelope letting homeowners cut their monthly heating and cooling bills by as much as 50% in some cases.

As a long-term solution, spray foam insulation helps maintain a comfortable temperature year-round while helping to control monthly heating and cooling expenses. Thanks to spray foam insulation's air-sealing qualities, homeowners can reduce the size of their heating and cooling equipment since less effort is required to heat or cool the home.

While air leakage can cause energy bills to sky-rocket, a well-insulated home and economical winterizing can help you get through the cold winter months. For more information, contact Custom Insulation.


Adding Insulation to Older Homes Saves on Energy Costs – Worcester, Boston

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.


Save on Home Heating Bills – Boston, Worcester

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.

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To Stop Ice Dams You Need a Cold Roof - Boston, Worcester

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.

In addition:

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.


Improve Home Insulation – Boston, Worcester, MA

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.

Insulating Errors

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.


Pellet Stoves for Combating Frigid Temperatures in Worcester, MA

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.

Pellet Stove Inserts Keep the Arctic Blasts at Bay -Worcester, MA

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.


Insulation helps keep your house cool in the summer!