Monthly Archives: April 2016

Home Energy Use Breakdown – Where Does My Money Go?

Home Energy PictureHomes use a lot of energy. But just how much does it cost to run your home? The team at A+ Insulation wondered the same thing, so we’re breaking it down for you. As a homeowner, here is where the bulk of your money goes when it comes to energy bills. We looked at a 2013 study by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory for reference. Here’s how it broke down:

Energy Use Chart Picture

 

How to Save the Most Money on Energy Bills

We can’t live, at least, not very comfortably, without using energy. If you’re looking to lower your energy bills, there are few things you can do in each area of your home to help:

29% Heating – Obviously, heating takes the lion’s share of the energy/money. To really find out where your home is leaking energy, it’s best to have a home energy audit. From there, it’s important to insulate and seal your home to keep heated air inside. Also, remember to close the fireplace damper when not in use.

Related Read: How Cut a Quarter of Your Energy Bills with a Free Home Energy Assessment

21% Electronics (computers, TVs, DVD players, home office equipment, small appliances) – Since over a fifth of your energy usage goes to electronics, one way for homeowners to cut back on energy use is to unplug appliances. Many appliances suck energy, even when not in use. This is sometimes called “vampire” energy usage or “phantom power”. Phantom power consumes 5% of all residential energy use in the United States.

13% Cooling – Once again, finding out where your home is leaking through an energy audit will help keep cool air from escaping. Make sure you have sufficient insulation and that your ducts are sealed, especially in unconditioned areas like garages, basements and crawl spaces.

13% Water Heating – There are two things you can do to lower your water heating bill. One: Lower the temperature on your water heater to 120 degrees. Two: Wrap your water heater in an insulating blanket to make it more efficient.

12% Appliances (refrigerator, dishwasher, washer & dryer) – Only wash full loads when using the dishwasher or clothes washer. Use warm or cold settings instead of hot whenever possible. Also, hang dry any items that don’t need to be tumbled dry to prevent wrinkles. Old refrigerators that are retired to the garage or basement for extra cold storage can cost $100 or more per year in energy use.

12% Lighting – The single most energy-saving action you can take is to switch all of your light bulbs from traditional incandescent to CFL or LED. These types of bulbs use a fraction of the energy, and even though they cost more initially to purchase, they will save you money on lighting bills over time and last much, much longer.

Try using these tips and schedule a free, no-obligation home energy assessment online to pinpoint where your home is leaking energy and costing you the most. We’ll be happy to help you save energy and money for years to come!

5 Ways to Keep Your Home from Losing Its Cool This Summer

Keeping House Cool PicIt’s fair to say that everyone would like to save money on energy bills. But what can you do to make that a reality? The team at A+ Insulation put together this list of doable things that will keep your energy bills lower this summer.

Sure, we’d all save money if we bought new, energy efficient air conditioners and furnaces, but that’s just not practical. We tried to stick to the things that would save you the most and the things that are fairly easy and affordable to incorporate into your busy life.

Heating and Cooling

Your heating and cooling costs make up half of your energy bills, so if you want to save money, that’s a good place to start. There are two big things you can do to decrease your energy bill.

Get a Programmable Thermostat (and use it properly)

Programmable thermostats can save you a lot of money if you’re using them properly. The Department of Energy says you can save the most by setting your thermostat back when no one is home during the day and/or at night when everyone is sleeping.

By turning your thermostat back 10° to 15° for 8 hours, you can save 5% to 15% a year on your heating bill — a savings of as much as 1% for each degree if the setback period is eight hours long.

Save energy in the winter by setting the thermostat to 68°F while you’re awake and setting it lower while you’re asleep or away from home. Set your thermostat to 78°F in the summer when you are at home and need cooling. Set it back to a higher temperature when you are away or asleep

Check Your Insulation

Homes can lose as much as 20% of their energy through a poorly insulated attic. Considering that the average U.S. family spends almost $2,000 a year on heating and cooling bills, that 20% is about $400 that could be in your bank account instead.

90% of homes in the U.S. are under-insulated, so chances are yours is too. It’s easy to inspect your attic on your own, and it could be the first step to saving big. If you can see the ceiling joists, your old insulation may have settled over time or too little was installed in the first place. Either way, you don’t have enough insulation. Attics should have at least 12 inches of insulation, but 15-20 inches is even better.

Another thing to make sure to check is that the access door to your attic is covered with insulation, as well as the rest of your attic floor. It’s an area many people forget about that costs them dearly. Learn what to look for when inspecting your attic: How to Evaluate Your Home’s Insulation

Seal Leaks

Don’t let that cold air you paid for escape! Windows and doors are the biggest culprits and adding weatherstripping and caulk can make a big difference. Checking your ductwork for leaks will also prevent air from escaping into unconditioned areas like unfinished basements, crawl spaces, and more.

Energy Star says that between improving insulation and sealing leaks, homeowners could potentially save 10 percent on their annual energy bill.

To evaluate your home’s energy efficiency, you can either perform your own home energy audit or hire a professional to do it for you. At A+ Insulation, we offer a free energy evaluation, because you can’t know the best way to save energy until you know where your home is leaking energy.

Change Your Lighting

In terms of your overall energy bill, lighting accounts for about 10%. If you’re looking to save some money over time, phase out those old incandescent light bulbs and switch to CFL or LED bulbs.

The Department of Energy says if you’re paying $6 each year to light a space in your home with one traditional bulb, you’d pay about $1.50 to light the same space with a compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) or light emitting diode (LED). That’s $4.50 in savings each year per bulb. They may be more expensive to purchase, but because they last so much longer, over their lifetime, energy-saving bulbs are typically less expensive than traditional bulbs.

Lower the Temperature on Your Water Heater

According to DOE, water heaters account for nearly 17% of a home’s energy use, consuming more energy than all other household appliances combined.

Additionally, they tell us that the most efficient water heater temperature for most homes is 120° F because dishwashers now have built-in heating boosters to raise the temperature to the necessary 145° F for sterilizing dishes. If you have a tankless water heater, it should be set to 120° F as well.

Consider wrapping your water heater with an insulation blanket and setting your water heater to vacation mode when you’re away for an extended time for more savings. These changes are fairly easy to incorporate and they will save you money not only this summer, but the rest of the year and into the future.

If you’re interested in finding out where your home leaks the most energy, give A+ Insulation a call at (913) 281-2250 or (816) 268-7511 for a free energy audit on your home.

The Story of Insulation: A Tale to Warm More Than Your Heart

History of Insulation PicIt’s safe to say that, Grog & Og did not have insulation in their cave. They were too busy trying to survive by hunting and not getting eaten to worry about freezing to death. Fire simply had to do when it came to warmth.

As humankind progressed and eventually started building homes, when did we start thinking about keeping the heat inside the home? The team at A+ Insulation was wondering the same thing, so we did a little research and this is what we found out:

The BC Years – Before Comfort

Thousands of years ago, people had to use the materials that were available. Mud was one of the first insulation materials. Both the ancient Egyptians and the Vikings used mud to keep their homes a bit more comfortable. Egyptians built their homes out of mud bricks, while Vikings plastered mud and straw in between the logs that made up their homes to keep the air and extreme temperatures out.

Ancient Times – Not Just Another Hole in the Wall

Ancient Greeks and Romans used both cork and asbestos. The Romans insulated their water pipes with cork while the Greeks discovered and named asbestos. The name asbestos means “inextinguishable” because of its resistance to heat and fire. The ancient Greeks also used “cavity walls” to help insulate.

These ancient engineers basically built a double-wall system, creating a cavity between the inside and outside. That empty space served as a barrier to keep the temperature inside steady

The Middle Ages – Life Was Hard & Cold

Homes in the Middle Ages were made from stone and were completed with roofs of thatch. They were damp, drafty, and cold. The inhabitants often used animal hide and rugs to keep the floors warm and hung tapestries on walls to keep drafts and dampness at bay.

The Industrial Revolution – Manufacturing & Asbestos

During the Industrial Revolution, asbestos became very popular. Manufacturing was big business and companies used steam to power their technology. This steam was transported throughout the buildings by pipes, which got very hot. Asbestos was used to wrap the pipes and make them safer for workers to be around.

1930s – Flappers and Fiberglass

Fiberglass was invented quite by accident in the early 30s by researcher Dale Kleist when he attempted to create a vacuum seal between two glass blocks. The stream of high-pressured air turned some of the glass into thin glass fibers.

Over the next decade this material was made into blankets (called “batts”) which began to be used widely to help make buildings warmer and more efficient. Fiberglass quickly became the dominant form of insulation in America.

1950s – 1970s Elvis Was Hot…Cellulose Was Not

Cellulose, a type of insulation made of newspaper, cardboard, straw, sawdust, or cotton, became popular because insulation manufacturers discovered how to make it flame retardant. This type of insulation was one of the earliest, but couldn’t be widely used prior to this advancement, due to fire safety regulations.

However, once experts solved that problem, cellulose insulation became very popular. In the mid­-70s, the harmful effects of asbestos were finally brought to light, causing both cellulose insulation and fiberglass batting to be widely adopted in building and construction projects. Both are still used today.

Related Read: 90% of U.S. Homes are Under-Insulated – Is Yours?

1980s – Disco Dies…Spray Foam Is Born

With the end of disco, (a silent thank you here) came polyurethane spray foam insulation. This type of insulation was actually discovered by the military in the 40s, but didn’t become popular until four decades later. The greatest thing about polyurethane spray foam was that it expands when sprayed and could fill in nooks and crannies that batted fiberglass couldn’t, thus creating a better temperature barrier.

Modern Day – Warm & Wonderful

Most of the advances in insulation in the last few decades have come in the area of spray foam. Spray foam insulation comes in two primary types: low density (“open cell”) and medium density (“closed cell”). Both are sprayed on to the interior of the wall by professional installers and expand through a chemical reaction.

The main difference between the two is that open-cell foam is neither as water resistant nor as rigid as closed-cell foam. Closed-cell foam is generally impervious to water, so another water vapor barrier does not have to be installed as part of the wall design. Both types of spray foam must be installed by professionals with specialized equipment, and while they deliver the best insulation R-values, they are also more expensive to install.

Related Read: Adding Insulation – DIY or Go Pro

Insulation: the Hardest Working Product in the Construction Industry
Luckily, insulation has come a long way, and we live a lot more comfortably than our ancestors because of it. Insulation is the only construction material that works twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, every day of the year from the date of installation to the last day of the building’s life, no matter if anyone is inhabiting the building or not.

If you’d like to add more insulation to your home, just give us a call at A+ Insulation and one of our skilled insulation installers will answer all of your questions. Call us at (913) 281-2250 or (816) 268-7511.

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