Basement Weatherization

Many New England residents live in older homes with unfinished basements. Most foundations were built from stone, often breaking down and repurposing stone walls in Massachusetts.  Although it is the norm these days to convert basements into an entertainment room or “man cave”, many have forgotten just how much of an effect their basement has on the energy levels of their entire home.  Even if you are planning on remodeling the basement or keeping it just for storage and a laundry space, it is highly important and effective to review the heat loss and gain and take the necessary steps to block those leaks.

Starting from the bottom, if you’re planning on keeping the concrete pad of floor consider having it topped off to seal off old cracks and gaps that are letting in moisture.  If you’re working towards another usable living space, insulating the floor would make a huge difference in the room’s temperature. Before starting this, however, check the current concrete floor and the bottom of the walls for any cracks and gaps also.  Placing insulation on a damp floor is a perfect breeding ground for mold and bacteria thus costing you more down the road to have repaired. 

Once the floor is set, perform the same actions on all the walls. Fill in cracks, insulate electric outlets and around dryer vents.  Massachusetts and other New England state residents are veterans of the winter war.  Each year to are to face it and are never disappointed by the fight Mother Nature puts up, they’re peeved (to put it politely) but never disappointed.  After a harsh winter, one area of their homes they might not have seen for a while due to the snow is the lower foot of their homes, where the basement windows live.  Needless to say, these windows are extremely vulnerable to damage.  So, ask yourself first, do you really need these windows? If not, have them boarded up or filled in. If you prefer to keep them, seal them.  The cold air finds ways of creeping in around those windows and it is not pleasant. Find the strongest weatherstrip you can get, use the most flexible, shatter-proof, thickest glass you can find, fill in any cracks around the window frames.  On top of that, there is no harm in having thick, custom made curtains that attach to both top and bottom of the window. They block the light for daylight movie watching, just a thought.

Now on to the ceiling, you might be thinking that the ceiling of the basement is the last fighting chance of preventing any cold air entering your home.  Well, let’s think about it for a second. When air sealing and weatherizing your home, your focus is on the outer shell of the home because it is the outside air conditions that you are trying to prevent getting in.  This is the same for the basement.  Focus on the exterior perimeter of your house around the basement walls to ensure there is proper ventilation and water has somewhere to go other than in your basement. Focus on the above-mentioned weather stripping, sealing and caulking on the floor and walls. The ceiling does then not need to be touched. Unless of course you are disgusted by how it looks then that’s just a cosmetic issue but insulating a ceiling will prevent vapor from passing through thus building up moisture in the basement and not long after, the development of mold. It has also been proven that basement ceiling insulation does not have any bearing on the cost of your monthly energy bills.

So, people of Boston, Leominster, Fitchburg, Framingham and all-around Massachusetts are insulating their home but just maintaining cracks and draft spots in their basements.  They have their warm blankets for those bitterly cold football games anyway so if basement entertainment room movie night is on the agenda, out come those blankets!

What Is Home Insulation and How Does It Work?

Many of us here in the United States are very familiar with extreme heat and cold fluctuations and the havoc it can wreak on your monthly heating and cooling bills. Home insulation is one of the most common and productive ways you can take control of your home’s temperature, cutting energy costs and doing your part in protecting the environment.

Home insulation can vary from something as simple as curtains to the more complicated wall and attic insulation. For the latter, the ideal time to do this is during construction of a home but there are ways you can have it installed if you live in an older property.  Common materials used in wall and attic insulation include cellulose, fiberglass and spray foam. If you walk around your home, especially in the winter, you can easily identify areas where heat is not being retained properly, particularly around windows and doors. Air sealing is a method used to conquer those areas and keep the heat in.

The basic science behind any kind of insulation is that it acts as a barrier to the flow of heat by either keeping it inside your house during the winter or outside during the summer. Heat moves around in your home in four ways – conduction, convection, radiation and air infiltration.  If you recall any physics from school, air is a poor conductor of heat so this is used as an advantage for insulation in that there are tiny pockets of air trapped within insulation that help minimize the flow of heat.

The type of insulation your home needs depends on highly on where you live.  The measurement of resistance to heat is known in the industry as “R-value” but this is only referring to the measurement of conduction.  In general, if you live in an area that experiences very cold winters and very hot summers you will likely be advised to go with a higher R-value, however, you may also want your insulation to block sound and prevent the spread of flames in the event of a fire.  These factors further help determine what material would work best for you.

Home weatherization, the global term for making your home as energy efficient as possible, is a growing industry especially in areas like New England which is a prime example of extreme weather.  If you’re looking to insulate your home in Massachusetts, there might be an ideal cost-effective solution to your needs. There is a state incentive program called “Mass Save” where energy companies team up to help qualifying customers save money both on the installation of insulation and their energy bills.

Energy Protectors specializes in insulation methods such as open-blow cellulose attic insulation, dense-pack cellulose wall insulation, air sealing and general weatherization. From Boston to Fitchburg to Worcester to Framingham, they provide services that include an audit of your home to gauge your installation needs.  As a Mass Save partner, they play a large role in Massachusetts’s #1 ranking state in the nation for energy efficiency, this according to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEE).

Have your home audited for energy efficiency today, before the temperature drops below freezing!


The Importance of Weatherization in Massachusetts

The state of Massachusetts is no doubt one of the most beautiful in the country. From the breathtaking bays in Boston and all along the coast, to the rolling hills of Worcester County, Fitchburg and Leominster and The Berkshires in the west, Massachusetts epitomises New England. However, while beautiful, due to its location Massachusetts is vulnerable to extreme weather conditions. The infamous Nor’easters, harsh winters, and hot summers mean that The Bay State residents need to take good care of their homes so they don’t end up forking over loads of money to repair damage caused by these weather extremities.

Weatherization involves protecting the building’s exterior from the elements – in particular rain, sunlight and high winds. Weatherization can be expensive, which is one of the main reasons that people don’t think of it as a high priority, even though not having effective weatherization can cost you far more in the long run. Mass Save has partnered with lots of companies in order to save you money when insulating or weatherizing your MA home.

Weatherization is a complex procedure, with many aspects that need to be considered, which is why it’s important to employ the help of local Central MA insulators to make sure the job is done properly. Typical aspects of weatherization can include sealing gaps around doors and windows, ceiling lighting fixtures and air ducts which can account for 20% of heat loss. This is important for people living in MA as the winters can get very cold and when those high winds blow in from the North East, you will be incredibly grateful that your heat loss is at a minimum.

The process of weatherization can also include protecting pipes from freezing and bursting, installing insulation in walls, floors, and ceilings – as well as making sure the area around air ducts and pipes are properly insulated. Insulation serves a two-fold purpose, to hold the heat in when it’s cold out, and to keep the house cool when it’s hot. Replacing old doors and windows is also a common part of weatherization as houses which lack double glazing are far more prone to heat loss. Insulating your MA home will not only keep you warm during the winter but can also prevent your house from becoming too hot when the warm summer days finally roll around.

Although proper weatherization is important in all homes across the United States, in places like MA, it can be even more crucial, due to those extreme weather conditions that are found here. Each house will have its own specific requirements to completely weatherize it, which is why it is important to get a consultation from a qualified MA insulator. They will not only be able to tell you what needs doing but the estimated cost of what needs doing. Making sure you go for a local company will mean they understand the climate of MA and if they are partnered with Mass Save then you may even get it cheaper than going elsewhere.

How Home Insulation Can Increase Your Property Value

Any homeowner will tell you the repairs, maintenance and upgrades are never-ending.  They spend a lot of time and money on finding the perfect appliances and furniture, beautifying any yard space if they have it, keeping up on outward appearances.  All of this is not for the sole purpose of having a beautiful home but to continue increasing the value of the home for possible resale or loan warranty.

Rarely do you hear the phrase “I got this beautiful new insulation for my home” maybe because it’s not glamorous?  Home insulation, however, should be a huge topic of discussion, especially these days when cars and homes are being made energy efficient and classified as such.

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Money lost through poor insulation.

Home insulation from open-blow cellulose attic insulation, dense-pack cellulose wall insulation to air sealing and general weatherization is all geared towards maximizing control on the flow of heat through your home. It keeps heat in during the winter and hot air out during the summer, acting as a barrier.

Today’s home buyers are not only looking for good value for money but unless their job is to fix one up and make a profit, most people want a home that needs as little work done as possible. This includes insulation. When a new home has been built with complete insulation or an older property has been properly fitted with the optimal amount of insulation this is an added feature that will most certainly be included on the seller’s listing thus adding more value due to its demand.  Not only that but complete home insulation plays a huge role in lowering the cost of monthly energy bills thus saving money for the current and potential homeowner.  According to a survey held by the National Association of Home Builders, energy efficiency is the second highest influence purchase decisions, after community safety.

Residents of New England for example, are all too familiar with the impact of four seasons, most notably winter.Having insulation installed on an older home can be a pretty hefty cost. However, residents of Massachusetts, not long after beginning research will quickly learn about “Mass Save”.  Mass Save is in partnership with a number of natural gas, electric utilities, and energy efficiency service providers to bring rebates, incentives, training and information to communities all across Massachusetts encouraging homes and businesses to upgrade their energy efficiency.  If you are Massachusetts resident, you might be eligible to receive a zero-interest loan from a Mass Save program.

One such company in partnership with Mass Save is Energy Protectors. They reach clients from Boston, to Fitchburg to Leominster down to Worcester County across to Framingham who are optimizing their homes and businesses to increase property value and/or lower their monthly energy costs. Energy Protectors offer a no-cost home energy audit to determine where and how much heat you are losing.  Their infrared imaging allows them to physically see where you are losing energy and not surprisingly, it is usually the worst around doors and windows. This is where their expertise in air sealing, attic insulation, exterior wall insulation come into play. After completion of the agreed to installations, they perform another test.So, if you’re looking to insulate your home in Boston, Leominster or New England in general, contact Energy Protectors or Mass Save now for a consultation and be proud to show off this new feature of your home.



Exterior Wall Insulation

Exterior Wall Insulation

Insulation is often one of the most overlooked aspects of a house but is potentially the most crucial. Insulation is what helps keep the heat out in the summer yet keeps it in during the winter months. Many people forget about it or take it for granted, perhaps it is something to do with the phrase ‘out of sight, out of mind.’ However, it is not something to be taken for granted and with winter fast approaching now is the best time to get your MA home insulated properly.

Without proper insulation, you could be losing up to 80% of your heat in the winter and air conditioning in the summer – think of that in terms of money, up to 80% of your heating bill could be wasted! The main purpose of good insulation is to create a barrier between the external world and the interior of your home. Exterior walls make up the largest portion of your home which is connected to the outside world, and therefore one of the most important places to get properly insulated.

Exterior wall insulation fiberglass cellulose weatherization

Exterior wall insulation cross section

Insulating is a quick and straightforward process, however, it is one that should be completed by an experienced insulator, using the correct tools. Exterior walls are usually filled with spray foam insulation due to the ease of which it can be installed. This spray foam will seal any cracks and voids throughout your house, making sure that air isn’t getting out or getting in unnecessarily. This type of insulation will also help to create a more consistent temperature within your home, without the need for air condition or central heating.

Spray foam insulation can also reduce moisture in the home, meaning areas which are prone to condensation could become less of a problem. This is especially useful in old MA homes which can become damp and often have problems with mold and mildew. Many of these places which are prone to condensation such as bathrooms, utility rooms, and laundry rooms have exterior walls and often come with air ducts or vents built in. This is a problem because the walls around vents or air ducts often aren’t insulated properly meaning this is a hotspot for air to get in or to escape.

Getting proper insulation around any problem areas is especially important to consider. Problem areas can include air ducts and vents, windows, and doors. Because these parts of the house are designed to let air in or out, contractors don’t always fully insulate these areas which are fundamental mistakes. Even though these parts of the house are designed to let the outside in, it doesn’t mean the area around them shouldn’t be properly insulated. In fact, because these areas are already fairly exposed to the elements, the insulation around them should be even better. Make sure you look for a qualified insulator who can do an assessment of your house and decide what kind of insulation you will need.