Be Frugally Responsible: Part 3
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With the historic downturn in the stock market, many families who thought they were sitting financially sound are facing reality. This article will provide tips on how to reduce utility bills, how going green saves you money, and how to avoid major expenses through preventative maintenance on your home.
Money Saving Tips For Insulation
Insulation Tip #1
Ductwork in unconditioned attic spaces
If you’re building a new 2-story home, take advantage of today’s technologies and require that your ductwork be ran through conditioned spaces. The idea of heating your supply ducts in the cold winter months and running them through your freezing attic space defies common sense. The same holds true in the hot summer months when you’re trying to cool your house by running 50 F-70 F conditioned air through your sweltering attic. A majority of the custom built 2-story homes I inspect have ductwork running through their attics. Approximately half of them have the flexible ducts and main trunk line sitting above the insulation. If you pop your head up in the attic and see that the ductwork isn’t buried under a thick layer of insulation, your home is losing a significant amount of conditioned air year round! You will recoup your investment over only 1 winter season by having more insulation blown in.
Insulation Tip #2
Go green with Cellulose insulation. To attain an R-38 value in the attic space, Cellulose insulation needs to be 10” thick as compared to 12”-14” of loose blown Fiberglass. Cellulose insulation is made from 100% recycled newspapers. It’s treated with borate making it Class A Fire rated. You can literally take a lighter to it and it won’t burn. It’s safe to breath and does not have any harmful chemicals. Cellulose can be sprayed into wall cavities completely sealing airspaces around plumbing pipes and electrical wiring. Cellulose insulation also creates an airtight barrier stopping drafts and acts as a great sound barrier. Whether you’re beefing up your attic insulation or remodeling your home, installing Cellulose insulation is the economical and environmentally friendly choice.
Insulation Tip #3
Insulated and non-insulated canned lights are one of the largest areas of heat loss. If you have insulated canned lights, you should be able to install insulation right over them reducing heat loss. If you have non-insulated canned lights, then covering insulation directly over them is a fire hazard. To get around this, you need to build a metal box with proper clearance around the canned light then cover the box with insulation.
Insulation Tip #4
Houses built in the early ‘90’s and older may have a nice draft at the electrical panel box. On a cold winter day, open the panel box cover and hold your hand in front of the breakers or fuses. If you feel a draft, then contact a licensed Electrician. Chances are pretty high that the raceway that your main service line enters the panel box is not sealed with putty. Bees, spiders, and bugs can also enter your house here if not sealed.
Insulation Tip #5
Outlets and light switches along exterior walls should have been sealed at the wire openings of the box by the Builder to prevent loss of conditioned air. On a cold day, if you can feel a draft here, chances are the Builder didn’t do a good job. You can easily remedy this by going to a hardware store and buying insulation covers that can be installed behind the outlet or switch cover plates. This won’t seal it 100%, but it’ll reduce the loss. An even better way is to spray a new product called Soy Seal around the wire openings of the boxes. You’ll want to do this when the power is off;-) Soy Seal is Class A Fire rated, made from soy beans, and is as green of a choice as you can make! Another product that may work is DAP’s Fireblock Foam. It’s a polyurethane foam sealant. You can read both product’s Material Safety Data Sheets at their websites: www.soyseal.net and www.dap.com. Note: Don’t try this with DOW Chemical’s expandable spray foam “Great Stuff”. DOW Chemical’s product is flammable and off-gases toxic fumes.
More money saving tips to come!