Baby, it’s cold outside. It’s not just the lines from a famous song. It’s the words that are heard as the cold weather creeps in, and we try to figure out how to keep warm as the temperatures slip lower and lower.
But keeping your house warm while staying inside your budget isn’t always easy. As the cost of energy goes up with the impending recovery in the oil sector, commercial and residential power sources will follow suit, as they traditionally have in the past. One way to keep your energy costs under control is to make sure your home is well equipped to keep the warm air in and the cold air out.
Typical Home Weatherization Can Reduce Your Energy Bills
There are lots of ways to weatherize your home. Turning down your thermostat when you’re not at home is one way to reduce energy savings. Caulking your windows and doors to eliminate air leaks is another easy way to save a couple of extra dollars and keep out the drafts. Inspecting and maintaining your fireplace is another sure way to eliminate costly drafts that can add a chill to your home. You can even use your landscaping to help block heavy northwest winter winds by adding trees, shrubs and windbreaks to your yard.
But most of these typical winter weatherization tricks only reduce your bills by a few dollars here and there and eliminate small problems. Many people wonder, what can I do that will really make a difference in my home? And what kind of weatherization can provide a more significant effect on a commercial building, such as an office or warehouse, especially where there are large rooms, high ceilings and air leaks that are difficult to access with tools like caulking guns or weatherstripping? Are there better, more permanent solutions?
Update Your Insulation for Long-term Savings
One of the fastest and most efficient ways to weatherize your home or business is by using spray polyurethane foam (SPF). In addition to the cost savings on energy, your family (in a residence) or your employees and tenants (in a commercial building) will stay healthier and more productive with a constant temperature inside.
And there’s an added bonus too. Federal tax incentives are available for those who insulate in accordance with federal specifications, and that’s another area where SPF can be used to your advantage.
According to the Internal Revenue Service (www.irs.gov), a tax deduction of up to $1.80 per square foot is available to owners or designers of new or existing commercial buildings that save at least 50 percent of the heating and cooling energy of a building that meets ASHRAE Standard 90.1-2001.
In addition to that, partial deductions of up to sixty cents per square foot can be taken for measures affecting any one of three building systems: the building envelope, lighting, or heating and cooling systems. While these tax deductions are available for systems placed in service from January 1, 2006 through December 31, 2013, there are additional incentives being added by the IRS and the Department of Energy’s Energy Star program each and every year.
For example, the government offers tax credits of 10 percent of the cost of the SPF (with limitations) this year as well as next. It’s enough to make the SPF business boom.
“Spray foam for existing homes is very hot right now, no pun intended,” according to Ted Medford, President and Founder of Profoam, a leading provider of SPF products and services. “Homeowners are using spray foam in their attics and crawlspaces for energy conservation, air sealing and moisture protection.”
But it’s not just homes that can reap the benefits of SPF.
“Thirty percent. That’s the amount of energy the average commercial building wastes,” said Medford. “And according to the US Department of Energy, about 56 percent of the energy used in homes and buildings goes to heating and cooling. If you’ve never done anything to save energy at your home or building, chances are you have a lot of room to improve.”
With percentages like that, it’s not difficult to see why payback on your SPF investment will come sooner rather than later.
“The actual payback for SPF insulation upgrades to existing homes varies from project to project,” said Medford. “Typically between three to five years is an average time frame. New construction projects are a bit different in that the payback starts immediately due to the monthly energy savings more than offsetting the added monthly cost associated with the SPF insulation upgrade.”
Spray polyurethane foam acts as both insulation and an air sealant, closing those nooks and crannies that let air escape and add dollars to monthly energy bills. The Energy Star program estimates that by adding insulation and sealing air leaks, you could save up to 20% on your monthly energy bills. And that number applies primarily to residences. Savings for commercial buildings, especially metal buildings, can be significantly higher.
Sealing a building’s air leaks thwarts drafts from attics, doors, windows and floor boards, producing a much more comfortable indoor environment and allowing for better indoor temperature control. In areas with extreme climates, good indoor temperature control can have a dramatic effect on comfort.
SPF Benefits beyond Dollars
In addition to the temperature aspect, the use of SPF to seal gaps and air leaks will help manage humidity and moisture, one of key variables that leads to mold and mildew. It can also provide a barrier against pollen, dust and insects. Reducing the entrance of external allergens can be especially helpful in households (or businesses) with allergy sufferers.
“The amount of benefits from insulating a home or business with spray foam is almost immeasurable,” continued Medford. “It reduces sound, makes a building stronger and extends the life of the structure. You can’t put a price on that, but if you could, the tax and energy incentives offered by the government make it extremely valuable.”
For more information about weatherizing your home with spray polyurethane foam insulation, contact the weatherization experts at Profoam, and stay warm this winter!