The Pros and Cons of Spray Foam Insulation

While spray foam insulation has been around since the 1950s, its only recently exploded in popularity as a residential building material. This is in part due to vast improvements made in the product.

In certain applications, like wall cavities and roof decks, it is the clear leader in efficacy and value. But it is not appropriate for every situation and there can be small drawbacks. 

Spray foam is the catchall term for many products that have slightly different properties and applications. The largest is the difference between closed-cell and open-cell foam.

Closed-cell foam is more rigid and provides a higher insulation value than open-cell spray foam. It can add to the rigidity of your home, which is great, and is also impervious to water. Being impervious to water can be a good thing, but it can also hide roof leaks, which on older homes can be a concern. 

This is where open cell spray foam comes in. It is less rigid than closed-cell foam, and is permeable to water so leaks can be detected in places like the roof deck. Both completely fill your wall cavities and provide excellent insulation value per inch. Spray foam also offers excellent noise dampening qualities.    

The Pros of Spray Foam Insulation

The most effective insulation, inch for inch 

To put it simply, spray foam is incredibly effective at keeping cold air and warm air where you want it. Inch for inch, it is the most effect of insulation types available today.

Spray foam provides won’t settle in vertical applications such as exterior walls the way cellulose insulation will. Fiberglass batts, which will only work under perfect conditions, is toxic. Spray foam provides a higher r-value as well.

Spray foam seals cracks and crevices

Unlike fiberglass insulation, spray foam fills the entirety of your wall, roof deck, or joist cavities, providing not just a barrier for the transfer of heat, but air exchange as well.

This is important particularly in older homes, where microscopic amounts of air infiltrate living areas and add up to significant energy loss over time. Spray foam will stop these leaks, unlike other types of insulation material

Loose fill insulation options such as cellulose insulation settle in the cavities it is installed in, making it less effective at stopping unwanted heat transfer.

For this reason the proper spray foam insulation saves the most money per square foot.

Improves air quality and health

Because of its tight seal properties, spray foam insulation improves the air quality in your home and helps prevent health issues like asthma and allergies.

By creating an air barrier and allowing outside air, full of pollutants and allergens, into your home through specific channels that can be filtered.

The air sealing quality of spray foam greatly improves air quality in the home. For this same reason, as well as its anti-condensation properties, spray foam insulation also is a first line of defense against pollutants like mold and mildew

Spray Foam Insulation is Long lasting

Spray foam insulation can last 80 years or more.

Our spray foam insulation even comes with a lifetime warranty meaning you’ll never have to worry about our insulation crumbling, losing its insulation value or any of the other maladies that can plague different types of insulation

No need for a vapor barrier

Unlike fiberglass insulation, there is no need for a vapor air barrier, which are finicky, can tear and rip, and cause the insulation behind it to lose its insulation value. Spray foam prevents air leakages keeping conditioned air in as well reducing your energy costs.

The spray foam installation process means it can be retrofit for existing homes as well as new construction.

Because spray foam installation is installed as a liquid that quickly expands to fill any crevice it is applied to, it is a perfect choice to retrofit into existing homes. O

ur spray foam installation crew is able to apply the foam through a small hole in the wall, rather than taking the wall down to the studs for installation.

The Cons of Spray Foam Insulation

It is not appropriate for all applications

Spray foam generally works best in wall cavities, on roof decks, and in crawl spaces and basements.

There are some places, like sill plates, where other types of insulation are better.

In some attic insulation applications as well, cellulose insulation is preferred, because it can be laid deeper at less cost, where settling isn’t an issue in a horizontal application. 

It has a higher up-front cost than other methods of insulation

Spray foam is not the cheapest form of insulation at the outset. However, it pays for itself more quickly than other types of insulation helping you lower your energy bills.

At PHS we offer factory direct pricing on our proprietary mixture to further reduce upfront cost for homeowners.

It is not a DIY solution

Spray foam insulation must be installed by a qualified installer, so homeowners generally do not do it themselves. 

The Bottom Line on Spray Foam Insulation

Inch for inch and pound for pound, spray foam insulation is the best insulation on the market for all but a few specialized applications.

It’s higher r-value makes it the best choice of insulation products most of the time.

At PHS, we keep prices low, by offering factory direct pricing and custom insulation plans for each home. 

Spray foam insulation pays for its self through home energy savings in a short period of time.

If you would like to know more about spray foam insulation, give us a call for a free home energy audit, and we can discover the best insulation plan for your home, your family and your budget. 

Energy Star Windows

What Does Energy Star Rated Mean, and What Does it Tell You? 

You may have heard the terms “Energy Star rated” or “Energy Star certified” before, perhaps even right here on our website. But what does it mean, and how can it help you?

Energy Star is a program run and founded by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the United States Department of Energy (DOE). This program provides information on the energy consumption of products using standardized methods across industries. 

According to the program: 

“ENERGY STAR® is the government-backed symbol for energy efficiency, providing simple, credible, and unbiased information that consumers and businesses rely on to make well-informed decisions. Thousands of industrial, commercial, utility, state, and local organizations—including nearly 40% of the Fortune 500®—partner with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to deliver cost-saving energy efficiency solutions that protect the climate while improving air quality and protecting public health.”

This means Energy Star is a program that rates different types of products and building materials on their energy efficiency. In addition, Energy Star will also often provide dollar ratings to some products. These ratings indicate what the average consumer might expect to pay over a year of average use. When comparing two different televisions, for example, Energy Star often will provide the average yearly cost of running those two televisions. This allows consumers to make more informed choices.

Established in 1992 as a part of the Clean Air Act, a US law, Energy Star tests products in over 75 categories. According to the organization, Energy Star and it’s partners have reduced energy bills for consumers by more than 450 billion dollars and “an average of 800,000 ENERGY STAR certified products were sold every day in 2019, bringing the total to more than 7 billion products sold since 1992.”

What Does it Mean When My Windows and Doors Are Energy Star Rated?

Energy Star certifies much more than televisions and printers. It also provides ratings for building materials like windows, doors, and insulation. For our purposes here at Premier Home Solutions, we’ll be focusing on our windows and doors. 

All of the windows and doors that PHS sells are manufactured in our facility to the strict mandates of the program. We independently certify them with the government because we want consumers to be certain our products are manufactured to the highest energy efficiency standards available. 

Energy Star Windows are, according to the program: 

  1. “Manufactured by an ENERGY STAR partner”.
  2. “Are independently tested, certified, and verified by the National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC)” 
  3. “Have NFRC ratings that meet strict energy efficiency guidelines set by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).”

You can read more about the verification process here.

What Are The Savings Like for Energy Star Products? 

According to the program consumers that switch to Energy Star windows and doors save an average of 12 percent nationwide on heating and cooling bills. 

This translates into real money. For typical Michigan homes replacing single pane windows, Energy Star certified windows save an average of 366$ dollars a year.

This is a total savings of $3,500 over 1o years. In many cases, switching to Energy Star Rated Windows pay for themselves over time. Plus it will provide the home’s occupants with more comfortable home, not to mention reducing the impact on the environment. 

Factory Pricing On Energy Star Windows and Doors?

While all of this technology and engineering might sound costly, here at PHS we can offer you direct factory pricing. We offer a full line of stylish, extremely efficient, Energy Star certified windows and doors.  Because we manufacture our own windows, we cut out the middleman and pass the savings to our customers.

In addition, we offer products that are stylish and fit any home either contemporary or classic. 

If you’re thinking about switching out your windows for the best windows available on the market today, give us a call at (517)742-2424

Blower Door Test

What is a Blower Door Test?

Perhaps you’ve come across the term “blower door” or “blower door test” on our website or elsewhere during the course of your research on energy efficiency and homes. You understand it’s an important part of the process for testing the energy efficiency of buildings, but what is it exactly, and how does it work? 

How Weathertight is Your Home?

One of the biggest factors for energy efficiency in buildings— if not the single largest factor— is how weathertight your home is. For our purposes this means how much air can get into or escape your home from and to the outside. 

The more air able to enter your home the less weathertight your home is, and consequently, the less energy efficient. This inefficiency adds up to money lost over time for your family due to increased heating and cooling bills, in some cases thousands of dollars.  

Think of your home like a boat in the ocean. If there is a leak in the boat, even if it’s a small one, over time the boat will fill up with water and the sailors will have to expend energy bailing out the ship. 

Your house is the same. Over time, if outside air enters your home slowly but consistently your furnace, boiler, or air conditioner must work harder to keep your home at the temperature you want it. The harder your heating and cooling appliances have to work, the more money it costs you. 

A blower door test is the best tool in our toolbox to gauge how much air is entering and exiting your home, down to square inches. 

The Blower Door Test

At the most basic level, the blower door test uses a large fan attached to an exterior door opening to create an area of low pressure in the home, which then allows us to see where and how much outside air is getting inside. 

In practical terms, during the course of one of our free home energy audits, a technician may place a specialized curtain with a fan attached to a computer over your front or back door. 

By using a fan to blow air from inside the home to outside, pressure drops inside the home. As the universe is constantly trying to even itself out, air from ambient atmospheric pressure on the outside will rush into the house any place it can. 

These are gaps we’re looking for. By walking through the house and using an infrared scope, the technician can then determine where this outside air is getting inside.  

In addition, with a specialized computer attached to the fan, we can also determine exactly how much air is entering the home and can then cross check this with local building codes and national guidelines to see where your house falls on a scale of energy efficiency and if improvement is required. 

In some cases the results are stunning. This test is measured in square inches, so for example a house that is allowing 40 square inches of air into the home— not uncommon— is like having a 10” by 4” inch window open all winter long. 

You wouldn’t keep a window open like this, so why suffer many smaller openings that add up to the exact same thing?  

The Results

The test is 100 percent safe for your home, is in no way dirty or particularly disruptive, and will not cause any marks or scuffs on any place in your house. Our technicians are highly trained, experienced and friendly.  

Once the blower door test is complete, along with the rest of our energy efficiency tests, the technician will show you the results. Based on the results we can make suggestions for areas of improvement and where to spend your home improvement dollars for maximum effectiveness. 

Improvement areas can include things like adding insulation, getting new air-tight and efficient windows and doors, or adding weather sealing like foam and other products. Please see our website for a detailed overview of our offerings. 

Our tests are always 100 percent free, contain no obligations to buy anything, and are no pressure. We perform these tests in the hopes you’ll choose us when it’s time to add efficiency to your home. 

Give us a call today to schedule your free home test and be on your way to saving money through energy efficiency. 

Home Energy Efficiency

Five Ways To Make Your Home More Energy Efficient

Here at Premier Home Solutions, not only do we want to save you money through home energy efficiency, we want to reduce our impact on the environment to leave a better world for our children and grandchildren. We believe none of us have to choose between living comfortably now and giving a healthy planet to our kids. But the best part? We can do all this while saving money in the long run. 

It’s a win-win-win situation for everyone. Creating more efficiency in our homes gives us more comfort now, for less cost over time, and leaves a better planet and environment for our children. It’s an absolute no-brainer, and just that simple. 

A few changes here and a few dollars there can add up to massive efficiency— and savings— over time.  Below we’ve collected five tips for how you can make your home more energy efficient and leave a better world for our young ones.  

1. Change your lightbulbs to high-efficiency options like LED or CFL

Perhaps the easiest and most effective change you can make in your home towards energy efficiency is to change your lightbulbs to high-efficiency options like CFL’s (Compact Fluorescent Lights) or, even better, LED’s (Light Emitting Diodes). 

While these lights cost more to purchase on the outset, they are far cheaper to run and last far, far longer than ordinary light bulbs. For example, the ordinary lifespan for a CFL lightbulb is about 8,000 hours. For a regular incandescent bulb, that’s 750 hours, a factor of more than 10.  And for LED’s? They average about 25,000 hours of use. Even if you were to keep the bulb on 24/7, you would only be replacing your bulbs every 15 years. Realistically, you’ll get more than 30 years of use out of an LED light bulb for a fraction of the energy use. 

While replacing all the bulbs in your house at once is a good option, it can be expensive. Try picking up a bulb two each month and replacing your most used fixtures: and watch the savings add up. 

2. Replace your old windows and doors

After replacing light bulbs, one of the most important things you can do for your home is to add energy efficient windows and doors. One of the ways homes lose energy efficiency the fastest is to have leaks in the thermal envelope of your home where cold air can get inside in the winter and warm air enters in the summer. 

Windows and doors are the most likely culprit for these leaks because they are areas that connect the inside of your house and the outside, and they move. It is much harder to seal moving parts than say, walls or roofs. 

A new set of high quality windows can go a long way to saving you money, and can often pay for themselves over a number of years by saving your household on heating and cooling costs.  

3. Install high-efficiency or Energy Star rated appliances 

Switching out old, inefficient appliances like your air conditioner, furnace, water heater, and even less essential appliances like air-cleaners and televisions can save your household incredible amounts of money over the life of the appliances. 

Purchasing appliances with high Energy Star ratings will ensure you’re getting the most efficiency from what you buy. 

For major appliances like furnaces, purchasing high-efficiency models can literally save hundreds of dollars per year over their less efficient models. Even if you have to pay a bit more at the outset, these costs will often pay for themselves in increased efficiency and savings over time.   

4. Add insulation

Do you ever drive around in the winter and see certain homes with large icicles and others with none? In general, the homes with icicles are less insulated than those with insulation. Heat rises, melting snow on the roof which then runs down only to refreeze, forming icicles. 

Icicles are the visual representation of lost energy that you could be keeping in your house by using more insulation. By adding insulation to your home, specifically in the attic, crawlspace, and walls, you can keep more of that warm air inside. 

Insulation is one of those home improvements that often saves money in the long-run—  and you can see it every winter hanging off the roof. 

5. Schedule a free home energy audit

Want to know where it might be best to put your home improvement dollars to get more bang for your buck? Aren’t sure whether spending your income on insulation, or windows and doors, or appliances might be best? Don’t know where to start? 

Schedule a free home energy audit with Premier Home Solutions and we can remove the guesswork. We’ll perform a detailed audit of the energy use of your home and see where your energy efficiency is doing great, where you could be doing better, and where you and your family can save money and the environment, all while being more comfortable in temperature extremes.