Thursday, April 23, 2009

Insulate Now, Save Later!

Before you put your 2008 tax documents up in the attic, think about the $1,500 you could save on next year's returns if you added extra insulation or a skylight.

Congress tripled the tax credit for energy-efficiency home improvements when it passed the latest stimulus plan. The credit now covers up to 30 percent of the cost of products installed this year and next.

The list of big-ticket items it covers is long: windows, outside doors, metal or asphalt roofs, heating and cooling equipment and fuel-cell batteries, among others.

"This gets at the low-hanging energy-efficiency measures that can be done for existing homes," said Jason Hartke, director of public policy at the U.S. Green Building Council.

He suggests improving your home's insulation before tackling your heating and cooling systems. Otherwise, air will just leak out.

Kevin Enyeart, vice president and general manager of Gale Home Builders in Kansas City, Mo., recommends spray foam insulation that can be applied easily to the underside of an attic roof. He says this product is both an insulator and a vapor barrier.

Make sure your contractor breaks down the bills, showing labor costs and materials costs separately. Keep a copy of the receipt and the Manufacturer Certification Statement for your records.



Sunday, April 5, 2009

Enter to WIN a Green Home!

The HGTV Green Home 2009 contest is slated to begin on April 17! The $700,000 home was designed by Carlson Studio Architects, and it has already received LEED Platinum certification.

Of course, the home has Energy Star everything and water-efficient everything else. It's also about 2,430 square feet, which is just about the average size for new homes these days. There's vegetable garden in the backyard, with rainwater collection barrels against the back of the house.

In addition, the green home features solar water heating, solar electric panels, low-VOC paints and adhesives, ICF walls, spray foam roof insulation, low-e windows, and the Spanish-style design will provide some good overhangs for friendly summer shade. That red roof, too, will probably last 50 years, although I'm sure it'll get some wear and tear being in Port St. Lucie, Florida. If you win the HGTV Green Home 2009, let us know what you think... good luck!


Get more info about Spray Foam Insulation at!

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Architect Unveils Details of 'Makeover' House

A new house and resource center -- complete with a wind-powered electricity generator -- were taking shape today in the Near Eastside neighborhood where hundreds of volunteers were participating in the "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" show to be aired in May.

Head architect Greg Cradick, 40, Westfield, said he spent five weeks designing the house, giving it what he calls a modest, urban look.

The design is "simple, responsible, and when all the cameras are gone, we want a responsible home that will trigger more development of a similar style," he said.

Cradick said the main level will have a master bedroom; a combined living room, dining room and kitchen; an office; and a big front porch. The second story has three bedrooms for the boys, plus a bathroom. The home also has a basement, which will be used to house mechanical needs and provide storage.

The exterior will be mostly brick, but also have concrete fiber sideboard, Cradick said.

Next to the house, the 975-square-foot resource center is framed, with a rough roof, wallboard and windows already installed. The center was designed as a library for the family, and is expected to contain educational software for McFarland to use.

A courtyard patio with concrete pavers and benches will sit between the house and the resource center.

Brad Love, an executive vice president of the Carmel-based homebuilder, Estridge, said the house will have spray-foam insulation and a geothermal heating-and-cooling system.

Plus, a low-maintenance, wind-powered generator will be installed for supplemental electricity, to help keep power bills low, said Love, 49, Westfield.


Get more info about spray-foam insulation at

Monday, March 30, 2009

ICC-ES Approval for CertaSpray

On the heels of certification for its open-cell formula, CertainTeed Corporation announced that its CertaSpray closed-cell polyurethane spray foam insulation has been approved by the ICC Evaluation Service, Inc. (ICC-ES). The approval makes CertaSpray the only closed-cell foam insulation offered in the U.S. that is both approved by the ICC-ES and certified through the GREENGUARD Indoor Air Quality and GREENGUARD Children & Schools program.

CertaSpray open- and closed-cell foam insulation products are blown into wall cavities, attics and floors and expand to create excellent thermal efficiency that modern housing demands. In general, CertaSpray closed-cell foam insulation provides a high-performance R-value and an air barrier that cures into a hard, rigid material that can add structural integrity to walls. The open-cell foam insulation results in a spongy, flexible consistency. Read more here.

Get more info on CertainTeed at

Sunday, March 29, 2009

School Incorporates Green Techniques

"The emphasis on green building is growing," said Amy Kapp, the school's public-relations coordinator, who accompanied the students to Washington, as they and 150 other YouthBuild students created the "green" house.

"We have changed our curriculum to include green techniques," said the school's executive director, Simran Sidhu, "and as new elements emerge in green building, and we find out what those are, we will continue to adapt our training to include them."

Green techniques - paperless drywall, renewable energy, spray-foam insulation, and recycled lumber, to name a very few - are fast becoming an integral part of residential building and remodeling.

"Green building is the future of home building," said Eric Borsting, chairman of the green building subcommittee of the National Association of Homebuilders.

"It's noticeable in the availability of materials - the price of renewable energy products and appliances, like photovoltaic panels, is coming down," while other products, such as paints with no or low volatile organic compounds, "no longer have to be special-ordered," he said.

Read more at:

Friday, March 27, 2009

Top 5 Ways to Go Green at Home

Frank Wickstead, president of the Atlanta remodeling firm WicksteadWorks, suggests five of the fastest ways to turn your home into an eco-friendly environment.

Switch to LED bulbs: “These bulbs are rapidly becoming more affordable,” Wickstead said. “They’re cooler; they use almost no electricity; and they have an unbelievably long lifespan.” They’re also ideal for cutting the cost of those outdoor lights you want to leave on all night.

Add new attic insulation: “The best thing you can do for your house without tearing into the walls is to put open-cell spray foam insulation in the attic,” said Wickstead. The brand Icynene is among the most popular that can be sprayed along the rafters to create an air barrier, making the attic part of the building envelope. Learn more about open-cell spray foam.

Encapsulate the crawlspace: This is a DIY project that will vastly improve the air quality in the house. Install a vapor barrier and insulated foam boards along the side walls to create a tight seal.

Eliminate air exchanges: Any spot where warm or cool air is escaping is an energy drain. Most homeowners are familiar with weatherstripping around windows and doors, but what about electrical outlets? An ultracheap (about 15 cents) square of foam insulation behind a switch plate can plug the hole.

Replace old toilets: “Dual flush toilets are awesome and they start at $260,” Wickstead said. “They’ll decrease water usage up to 30 percent, and it’s something you can change out yourself.”

Read more at:

Going Green Saves You Money

Energy conservation and green technologies have become all the rage these days, and there have never been better incentives to jump on the bandwagon. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act — aka the stimulus bill — that President Obama signed into law on Feb. 17 extended tax credits that reward the use of energy-saving technology through 2010, raised the amount you get back from 10 percent of the cost to 30 percent, and raised the maximum credit available from $500 to $1,500 for efficient windows, doors, insulation and air conditioners, with no maximum cap on solar panels, solar water heaters or geothermal heat pumps.

But there’s a catch: Not every Energy Star product qualifies for the tax credits anymore. Only the highest-efficiency Energy Star models now do, and those products are usually the most expensive. (But they save you the most, too.) The Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy created the Energy Star program in 1992 to help us save money on utilities and protect the environment through a product rating system. The program began with computers and monitors and has now grown to over 60 product categories. With the help of Energy Star, Americans saved $19 billion on our utility bills in 2008 — saving greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to 29 million cars.

The federal government isn’t the only entity giving out money to conserve. The state of Florida offers up to $500 for solar thermal systems, $100 for solar thermal pool heaters and a $4-per-watt rebate for solar panels, which caps at $20,000 for residences and $100,000 for commercial properties.

The solar panel program has proven popular. The $5 million dollars allocated for both the fiscal years of 2008 and 2009 have already been exhausted. The state is still accepting applications and if the program receives funding for 2010 you can be put on a waiting list.

Read more at:

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Upgrade Your Home in a 'Green' Way

There are still many homeowners who are not in a position to make a move, nor interested in making a move. Not everyone who purchased a home planned on selling in five to 10 years. However, the last 10 years of our crazy real estate market somehow has taken the philosophy of buying a home and spending a lifetime in it and transforming it to more of a short-term “investment” opportunity.

Whether you are a long-term homeowner or a short-term investor, here are some ideas you may wish to consider for upgrading to “green” in home maintenance. And, whether you are replacing the roof, buying a new refrigerator, remodeling your entire home or just feeling guilty about those cans, bottles and compost items that don’t always make it into the appropriate recycle container, keep open the options you have.

A great and simple way to start is to replace your trash compactor with a pull-out or easy-to-use recycle center — ready for your cans, bottle, bags and even compost. Fruit and veggies (no meat) waste can go in your green barrel or in your compost pile for use in the garden. Make it simple, because let’s face it, if it is not convenient it is not going to work.

As springtime has arrived, you may be thinking that it’s time for a new roof. Did you know that there are reflective roof products available? Certain “qualified” roof products reflect more of the sun’s rays and can lower your roof’s surface temperature by up to 100 degrees Fahrenheit, decreasing the amount of heat transferred into your home. This can reduce the amount of air conditioning needed and reduce peak cooling demands!

Read more at:

Monday, March 23, 2009

What is Injection Foam?

Injection foam is slightly different from the spray foam normally used in new homes. New homes that use spray foam insulation usually have SPF insulation sprayed onto the interior wall , directly applied in the cavity between 2x4's, replacing traditional fiberglass batting insulation. Excess is removed so that drywall can lay flat on top of the foam.

Many older homes that never had insulation in exterior walls, basements, or attics choose spray foam for its many benefits, including water resistance, ability to fill tight nooks and crannies, and the excellent R-value SPF can provide. Installing spray foam into older homes requires a different approach to installation in order to avoid having to remove plaster or drywall to fill wall cavities. This type of process and materials is called "Injection Foam".

Injection foam provides a convenient alternative to traditionally installed spray foam, especially for historical homes. With injection foam, a homeowner can enjoy the many benefits of a well insulated home without repairing or replacing drywall, plaster, expensive trim or the need to repaint. Injection foam also allows the homeowner to continue living in your existing home, undisturbed by the mess of construction and the disruptions of moving furniture.

Spraying injection foam into an older home requires much more precision and calculations to be sure the proper amount of foam has been put in place. This requires specialized equipment and training, so be sure to select a qualified injection foam contractor.

Your injection foam contractor will drill small holes in the exterior of your home (from the outside), inject the SPF into the wall, and repair the drilled hole. Most homes that are sided will have the siding temporarily removed in a small section before drilling the hole. When the siding is replaced, there will be no visible traces of the job. For homes with brick exteriors, the small holes are drilled between bricks, into the mortar. The mortar is quickly and easily patched once the spray foam has been injected.

Once the foam has been injected, it will expand vertically into the existing wall cavity and around any plumbing, electrical work, or windows. Your plaster or drywall will not be disturbed.

Energy Saving Tip: Insulate your Attic & Basement

As the weather starts to turn cold, the first thing most homeowners do is get the heat cranked up. Before you touch the thermostat, you always make sure the windows and doors are closed so as not to waste any heat. But have you considered how much heat your losing through your uninsulated attic and basement?

Mom always told us to put on socks to keep our heads warm, and put on a hat to keep our feet warm. Can insulating a basement keep your attic toasty, and vice versa? Absolutely! If your home is like many American homes without basement and attic insulation, you could be saving up to 40% of your energy costs by insulating your basement and attic.

A major concern for homeowners living on the east coast is moisture. Moisture can cause mold, which is not only dangerous for our health, its dangerous for our homes. Mold can grow where moisture and water collects, like in traditional fiberglass batting insulation. Click here to read what home inspectors say about traditional insulation and mold.

Closed-cell spray foam insulation is so waterproof that it is often used to seal flat roofs - exposed directly to rain, heat and other outdoor elements. Spray foam is a better choice for Americans who are sensitive to mold or who have allergies, as spray foam will not hold pollens or dust.

While the cost upfront may be slightly more than fiberglass insulation, many homeowners chose SPF as it not only improves comfort for the homes occupants, but can increase the resale value of the home. If your attic or basement does not have insulation or lacks adequate insulation, consider installing environmentally friendly spray foam insulation today.

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