Energy Tips by Emerald Coast Energy Solutions

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Homeowner’s Frequently Asked Questions

Chris Balzer

What does R-value mean?  R-value measures insulation’s resistance to heat flow.  It can also be referred to as “thermal resistance.” The higher the R-value, the greater the insulating power.  All materials having the same R-value, regardless of type, thickness, or weight are equal in insulating power. Don’t forget that R-values are determined by material type, thickness, and installed weight per square foot, not by thickness alone. Insulation helps keep your home cool during the summer months and warm during the winter months.

How much will I save by adding insulation to the walls, ceilings and floors of my home?  Insulation saves money, increases your home’s comfort and protects the environment by reducing energy use.   According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) shows that typically 44% of a homeowner’s utility bill goes for heating and cooling costs.  DOE also states that homeowners may be able to reduce their energy bills from 10% to 50% by taking certain steps. One of the major steps is increasing the amount of thermal insulation in their existing homes or purchasing additional insulation when buying new homes.  Unless your home was constructed with special attention to energy efficiency, adding insulation will reduce your utility bills. The amount of energy you conserve will depend on several factors: the climate; the size, shape, and construction of your house, the living habits of your family, the type and efficiency of the heating and cooling systems and the fuel you use.  Energy conserved is money saved and the annual savings increase when utility rates go up, which on average is 3.9% yearly. Insulation upgrades also instantly add to the value of your home.

How much insulation should I have?  “Insulation,” says Bob Vila, host of the nationally syndicated TV program that bears his name, “is the most efficient energy-saving expenditure.”   Vila says homeowners should check attics to determine the amount of insulation already installed. “Most homes built before 1980 have inadequate insulation,”  he said, noting that if insulation between the joists of the attic floor comes only to the top of the joist, it probably makes sense to install more insulation.  The U.S. Department of Energy recommends home insulation for our area to be R-30.

What words should I watch out for in contracts or job estimates?   Once you have chosen an insulation contractor, make sure the contract includes the job specification, cost and warranty information.  The contract should list the type of insulation to be used and where it will be used. Make sure that each type of insulation is listed by R-value.  Beware of any contract or verbal offering that quotes the job in terms of thickness only (e.g. “14 inches of insulation”). Remember, it is the R-value, not the thickness,  that tells how well a material insulates. Avoid contracts with vague language such as R-values with the terms “plus or minus”; “+ or -“; “average”; or “nominal.”

Is there anything other than insulation to increase comfort and efficiency?  There are several innovated materials out in the market which are not widely used by most insulation contractors.  ERG film is a tint material which can be applied to glass and is virtually clear. This film block 94% of radiant heat and 99.9% of UV rays protecting floors, furniture, you and pets.  Some applications would be sunrooms, wheelhouses, rooms with direct sunlight. Radiant Barrier is a reflective material installed in attics which blocks 97% of radiant heat reducing your overall attic temperature increasing comfort and saving money.

Chris Balzer is Founder and President of Emerald Coast Energy Solutions and resides in the Santa Rosa Beach area with his wife and 3 Children.  For more information on how to save and become energy efficient schedule an inspection by calling (850) 588-2870, visit www.trusteces.com or email wecare@trusteces.com and Beat the Heat.