Things To Know When Completing Your Own Home Energy Audit

Sold SignOne of the most effective ways to save energy is to conduct a home energy audit. An audit can help reveal where you may be losing the most energy and the parts of your home where you should make updates to increase efficiency. If you have never conducted your own in-home energy audit, there are a few things you should know before you begin.

  • Start with a visual inspection. During a visual inspection, you should gather information such as what materials were used during the construction of your home and how the major components of your home (floor, walls and roof) were fabricated.
  • Check the outside of your home. The outside of your home is just as important as the inside when it comes to energy efficiency. Once you’ve conducted a thorough indoor visual inspection, move outdoors and check for construction details and whether there have been add-ons to the house, if your walls are straight, the number of windows and whether you have any vertical shafts such as a chimney.
  • Identify air leaks. Reducing drafts in your home could result in energy savings of 5 to 30 percent per year. Check along your baseboard as well as at the junctures of the walls and ceilings for any air leaks. Also inspect the outside of your home, especially if your home has additions.
  • Inspect your insulation. If your insulation levels are not up to par, heat could be escaping through your walls and ceiling. Older homes were typically built with insulation that is no longer seen as efficient, so knowing when your insulation was installed is important.

It is a good idea to jot down all information you find during your home energy audit. Once you’ve conducted your audit, the next step is up to you. If you feel your home needs additional inspection, hiring a professional energy auditor may be a wise investment. For most people, however, the next step is usually sealing any air leaks found and updating insulation throughout the home.


What To Look For When Moving Into Your New Home

New HousingMoving into a new home can be a very exciting time. Unfortunately, with all the hustle and bustle involved, it’s easy to overlook some of the important things you should be looking for during your move. By checking for a few potential problems, you can save yourself significant time and money in the future.

  • Air conditioning: A central air conditioning unit can cost thousands of dollars to repair. Although many technicians may be hesitant to run the A/C in extreme cold, having the unit properly accessed during the home’s inspection can save you money and a hassle down the road.
  • Roof: If a roof is installed properly, it can last as long as 25 years. However, natural elements can create cracking and curling or even cause shingles to fall off. Visually inspecting the roof, even from the ground, can reveal any errors that should be fixed.
  • Insulation: Ensuring that your home is properly insulated will not only keep you warm during the winter and cool in the summer, it will keep your wallet happy as well. It is important to have a minimum of one foot of insulation in the ceiling, and adding insulation to the walls will also help keep that energy cost in check.
  • Foundation: Checking for cracks in your walls, ceilings and floors is critical when buying a home. While not all cracks are a sign of foundation trouble, they may warrant a special inspection to be safe.
  • Heating system: Installing a new furnace can cost upward of $5,000, depending on the size of your home. While some furnaces can last as long as 20 years, others will only make it 10. Having your furnace carefully inspected will give you a good idea of how old it is and if you will need to replace it anytime soon.

By taking the time to look at these few things, you can prevent potential problems and possibly even negotiate with the buyer to get them replaced prior to moving into the home. Don’t hesitate to request that your inspector pay close attention to detail and provide you with a full report of each item listed.

How to keep warm on your winter camping trip

Camping TentCamping has been a favorite family pastime for generations. But what started out as simply spending time in the great outdoors has turned into a $15 billion dollar industry. According to data from the American Camp Association, more than 11 million children and adults camp in the United States each year.

Though camping in the summer is more prevalent, there’s something to be said for hitting the campground during the colder months, sitting around the campfire, roasting marshmallows and keeping warm. And while fire is an effective way to warm up, campers rely on their sleeping bags and tents to stay cozy when it’s time for bed.

There are two main types of sleeping bag insulation to keep campers warm during those winter nights: natural and synthetic. Natural insulation generally consists of goose down, while synthetic is available in numerous blends.

When choosing a sleeping bag, it’s important to pick a bag that’s appropriate for the temperature you’ll be experiencing. Based on the temperature rating provided on most sleeping bags, you should select one with a rating slightly below the lowest temperature you anticipate encountering. Most camping bags feature a temperature rating between +15°F and +50°F.

Below is a quick explanation of how bags are typically categorized:

• A summer season bag will have a temperature rating of +35° and higher.

• A three-season bag will have a temperature rating of +10° to +35°.

• A cold-weather bag will have a temperature rating of -10° to +10°.

• A winter/extreme bag will have a temperature rating of -10° and lower.

With such a range in temperatures available, you should be able to find a bag suitable for your climate. There’s still two and half more months of winter, so why not test your mettle with a cold-weather camping trip? All you need is the right sleeping bag and plenty of marshmallows to keep you toasty.

Home Renovation Tips

New-house-scafoldingWhether you’ve recently moved into an older home or noticed your home has become outdated over the years, the thought of renovating your home has likely crossed your mind. It’s no surprise that home renovation can seem like a daunting task, no matter how motivated you may be. If you are looking to make some updates to your home, there are a few things you should do along the way:

  • Make a plan. Since home renovation can often times be overwhelming, it’s crucial to come up with a list of the things you want to update. This will also help you establish what needs to be done first and what can wait.
  • Create a budget. You can do as much to update your home as your wallet will allow. Needless to say, it’s important to sit down and determine how much money you are willing to designate to your home renovation.
  • Get an energy audit. Having an energy professional take a look at your home can help you know where your home efficiency can be improved. A home that is more energy efficient will save you money moving forward.
  • Update your insulation. If you are living in an older home — any home built before 1980 — you are most likely paying more than you should be on heating and cooling due to poor insulation. Bringing your home insulation up to modern-day standards can reduce your heating and cooling bills by as much as 10-50%.
  • Dive in. The hardest part about renovating your home is often getting started. There are a number of apprehensions and fears that accompany a home renovation. However, nothing will change if you don’t start somewhere!

If you are looking to renovate your home but don’t know where to begin, there are a number of helpful websites that can provide inspiration and motivation. By renovating your home, you can not only save money in the long run, but you will be left with a house that you’re proud to show off!

Preparing Your Home For Winter Weather

2350858702_ba0088b980_zThere are few things more festive than waking up to a snow-covered landscape, but winter weather can also pose a threat to your home. As snow begins to accumulate, it is important you know what parts of your home need protection. 

During a winter storm, one major concern is ice dams, which are composed of ice that has accumulated at the lower edge of a sloped roof. As ice builds, it’s not unusual for water to run down your roof and freeze again at the edge. As this continues, the ice prevents water from draining off the roof, forcing it into your attic or down the interior walls of your house. 

Below are a few cold-weather tips to ensure your home is ready no matter what winter weather throws your way.

  • Keep an eye out for accumulation of snow on the downwind side or your roof. It is typical for blowing snow to collect in this area and it can result in a damaged roof.
  • Remove any snow built up on basement stairwells, window wells and walls. Once the snow begins to melt, it can cause water damage and moisture intrusion in these spaces.
  • Make sure your attic is well ventilated. By keeping your attic at a temperature similar to that of the outdoors, you can minimize the possibility of ice dams forming.
  • Cover any exposed pipes with insulation sleeves or wrapping to slow the transfer of heat.
  • If any of your faucets are connected to pipes that run through an unprotected space, turn them to a slow drip. 

By following these tips, you can be better prepared the next time a winter storm hits, keeping your home safe and comfortable throughout the cold season.


How Radiant Barrier can benefit your greenhouse

9374230290_15c78c2a31_bGrowing your own fruits, vegetables, and plants can be an enjoyable but challenging endeavor. A greenhouse can make the task more manageable by minimizing the negative effects of the elements.

While installing a greenhouse will create an environment more conducive to growing plants, you’ll need to decide how to maintain the conditions inside your space. Consider the installation of Radiant Barrier insulation to keep your greenhouse warm during the winter and cool during the summer. 

Studies show that as much as 85% of the heat in a greenhouse escapes during the nighttime hours. The temperature fluctuations caused by this issue can be detrimental to plant life. Radiant Barrier’s products, Temptrol and TempShield, act to reflect direct sunlight and efficiently disperse heat and light throughout the greenhouse.

Temptrol and TempShield are more effective than comparable products because they are designed to allow for the escape of moisture, avoiding excess condensation that may disrupt the growing environment. The use of these barriers lets you control the hours of daylight and darkness to manipulate plants into flowering when you want them to. 

Perhaps one of the most attractive features of Temptrol and TempShield is the amount of money they can save you in energy consumption. These powerful fabrics can be purchased in any amount needed, making them versatile and easy to install. With some basic sewing skills, you can turn the fabric into a custom cover or drape cloth for your greenhouse. Both products are puncture- and tear-resistant and require no maintenance. 

Radiant Barrier’s fabric insulation products can be assets to your personal greenhouse. Increase the success rate of your garden and reduce energy consumption all with minimal effort and no ongoing maintenance. Protect your plants from the harsh elements and take control of the environmental variables affecting growth. You can cultivate a thriving garden any time of year with the help of Radiant Barrier.

Radiant Flooring vs. Radiant Ceilings

FireplaceIf you are considering alternatives for heating your home, radiant heating is one that gives you two options. You can opt for radiant flooring or radiant ceilings. Weigh your choices before you make your final decision. Here’s a more detailed look at both to help you make up your mind.

Radiant Flooring: A Great Way to Keep Your Toes Toasty

Radiant flooring was actually developed by the Ancient Romans. Those brilliant thinkers found a way to direct hot air beneath the floor. The end result: warm floors that also produced a more comfortable temperature in the home. This approach is commonly used in European countries and is catching on here in America. One of the benefits of radiant heating is there are no vents or radiators like those used in other forms of heating. No dust released through heating vents or hot air that can dry out your home and present health problems.

Radiant heating involves the installation of electric heating coils or tubing heated by water beneath the flooring. By adding radiant barrier, a form of insulation, you’ll have even better results. Radiant barrier controls issues with vapor and enhances the function of the radiant heating system. In the end, you’ll have warm floors beneath your feet. Imagine, no more cold tiles when you step out of the shower and toasty toes in winter when you first get out of bed. This method of heating effectively warms the entire room—as the floors heat up, the warm air rises and a pleasant ambient temperature is maintained.

Radiant Ceilings: Taking a Top-Down Approach to Heating

If you opt for radiant ceilings, your heating system will be installed in the ceiling and can be improved through the installation of radiant barrier insulation as well. You won’t run into the problem of generating less heat when floor coverings are installed on radiant floors. Radiant ceilings are less expensive than radiant flooring and they work well in homes where climate control is already in place, allowing you to choose which rooms need to be heated.

Whichever method you choose, you’ll be guaranteed a cozy home, whether it’s being warmed from the floor up or the top down.

Understanding Radiant Barrier Insulation

How does radiant barrier insulation work?

Heat travels using conduction, convection and radiation. Conduction is direct transfer of heat through materials, while convection transfers heat via moving air and radiation transfer heat through space, much like light. Radiant barriers act like a mirror, reflecting thermal radiation.

The sun itself is a source of radiant heat. The sun’s heat is absorbed by the roofing materials which then radiate the heat through the attic space and onto the attic floor. The insulation and ceiling materials absorb this heat and transfer it into the interior of the house by radiation. The radiant barrier will reflect the heat back to the roof where it will radiate back into the atmosphere.

Why are radiant barriers installed alongside other types of insulation?

No matter what it’s made out of, mass insulation does one thing: It creates a barrier of still air. This stops air flow needed for convection while acting as a physical barrier to conduction. Together with a radiant barrier, all aspects of heat movement are addressed.

Why is the R value of radiant barrier insulation so low?

R value measures the conduction-blocking effectiveness of insulation in relation to wood, ex. a piece of R20 insulation is the equivalent of a 20 inch layer of wood. Some radiant barriers are designed with a thin air space, so they provide R value. However, R value doesn’t take the material’s radiation-blocking ability into account.

How much benefit can I see by having a barrier installed?

Utility costs can be decreased as much as 17 percent in the right conditions. Radiant barriers are effective in keeping heat inside during the winter as well as keeping heat outside during the summer. This makes them ideal for homes in warm climates as well as those in cold climates. This is particularly true for homes with HVAC ductwork installed in the attic since there’s a direct route of heat transfer from the attic air. In a house designed to use barrier insulation in the roof and walls, the reduced heat transfer can allow the air conditioner to be downsized by as much as 10 percent, decreasing energy and construction costs.

Doesn’t the heat reflected by the barrier make the roof hot?

Studies have shown that an increase of only a few degrees in roof temperature when a barrier is added. The barrier also reflects heat back into the house, which lets the roof cool down more at night.

What kind of maintenance does radiant barrier insulation require?

As long as the layer stays intact, it will be effective. Dirt and dust can have an impact on the insulation’s reflectivity, but the amount of dust in attic spaces is so low that radiant barriers are practically maintenance free. Unlike mass insulation, it doesn’t depend on air space to insulate, which means it will never pack down and lose its effectiveness.

How Radiant Barriers Work: Reflective Paint vs. Foil

Those of us with dark-colored roofs know how hot it gets up there during the summer. Intense solar heat radiates indoors through the rooftop, baking the attic like an oven. The hot attic, in turn, conducts unwanted heat to the rest of the house, pressuring cooling systems to work harder and driving up utility costs.

It’s one reason your bills are so high during the dog days of summer. How do you prevent this scenario? How do you ensure your insulation is performing with maximum efficiency? The trick is to ease the load on your A/C system by reducing heat gain. That’s what radiant barriers are for.

Radiant barrier foil vs. paint

Radiant barriers use aluminum to minimize solar gains by reflecting the sun’s rays back, away from the air-conditioned building. This action increases energy efficiency and lowers the associated cooling energy costs. Radiant barrier insulation makes good sense in hot and sunny climates where it supplements conventional insulation.

There are two main types of radiant barriers: paint and sheets of foil. Radiant barrier paint is simply ordinary water-based paint intermixed with pure, powdered aluminum. Radiant barrier foil isn’t quite like what you find in your kitchen, although it is made of sheeted aluminum.

Commercial-grade aluminum foil acts as a near-perfect thermal mirror, reflecting around 95 percent of radiant heat. In contrast, paint reflects 75 percent, under ideal conditions. Unfortunately, the ideal conditions under which radiant barrier paint is effective aren’t usually found in the real world.

As a result, barrier paint products are not technically considered effective enough to be called radiant barriers, according to research published by the Reflective Insulation Manufacturers Association (RIMA).

Where does radiant foil help the most?

Radiant foil barriers only work where there is sufficient airspace between the foil and the surface to which it is attached. This airspace is a key performance factor. For this reason, the ideal foil barrier installation tends to be in the attic. Happily, the attic also happens to be where the most unwanted thermal gains occur in the average home.

How Radiant Barrier Insulation Helps Keep You Warm in Winter

Heat transfer, poor insulation and heat loss. These are all concepts that homeowners who want to save money should learn more about. The fact is that more heat leaves the home through the attic than most people realize. But the good news is that addressing the problem with Radiant Barrier insulation saves energy and money.

One of the laws of thermodynamics states that heat transfers from warm to cool. Do you think you are cooling your lemonade with those ice cubes? Think again. The heat content inside the glass automatically transfers to the ice because it is colder. It is accurate to say that the lemonade heats the ice. The result of the transfer is a cool, refreshing drink. There are three methods of heat transfer:

  • Conduction
  • Convection
  • Radiation

Conduction occurs when heat travels from one molecule to another. An example is a heating element. Good conductors of heat are usually also good conductors of electricity.

Convection is a heat transfer facilitated by the flow of air. Warm air is lighter, so it naturally moves up. The cold air weighs more; it travels down.

Radiation is the method by which heat transfers from one object to another by moving through space. The heat you feel when standing near a camp fire or a radiator are examples of radiation.

The warm air in your home rises to the highest point. Poor insulation allows heat to transfer through the attic to the outdoors. Radiant Barrier is a reflective insulation that prevents this transfer by radiating heat back to the living space. This increases the efficiency of furnaces of all makes and models.

The reflective insulation rests on the existing insulation. It is easy to install, and homeowners notice a difference immediately. One homeowner in Texas said, “My bill went from $400 to $200!”

Give your heating system a break. Try Radiant Barrier and find out why it is so popular. Then use the extra money for something besides keeping your house warm.