04Aug/17

Packing It In: Dense Pack Cellulose in Cathedral Ceilings

Energy upgrades and utility programs are all the rage, and rightfully so.  With energy prices soaring and global warming on the rise it only makes sense to try to make our homes more energy efficient.  Not only is it good for the environment but its good for the wallet as well!  Most programs in our area rely heavily on dense pack cellulose insulation as their go-to insulation material.  It’s inexpensive, ecologically friendly and effective- when installed correctly.  Even in new construction, cellulose is widely used. But beware- the recommendations given by utility companies are not always the best or safest for your home.

Firstly, what is cellulose? Cellulose is recycled newspaper that is treated with boric acid. Boric acid acts as a pest repellent and a fire retardant.  Unlike blown or batted fiberglass, mice and other rodents will most likely not nest in the cellulose due to the addition of this product. Because cellulose is made of paper it has 2 downfalls: 1- it will allow air to pass through it and 2- it is very likely to absorb moisture.

Airflow through cellulose is normally curtailed by the use of sheet rock and air sealing of penetrations.  The exterior walls and ceilings of homes act as a natural air barrier allowing the cellulose to do its job as an insulator. Walls are nearly impossible to build without penetrations- it would be difficult to live without light switches and outlets!  However, ceiling penetrations are completely optional and should be avoided at all costs.  Air sealing penetrations is difficult and time consuming.  Minimizing penetrations is the most energy efficient way to build.  The addition of track lighting and other light sources in cathedral ceilings is a much more effective method.

Moisture is the single largest source of building failures.  Keeping the house tight and dry is the number 1 goal of any good designer or builder.  Because cellulose will allow moisture to pass through it is imperative that a vapor retarder is used. Warm, moist air rises inside a home and vapor drive and air pressure along with that air make vapor retarders in sloped and flat ceilings a necessity.  In new construction a vapor retarder is required over any air permeable insulation and is required by code. In a retrofit (insulating an already existing and occupied home) properly installing a vapor retarder is nearly impossible in walls but because moisture is not as much of an issue in walls the insulation benefits greatly outweigh the possible problems.  This benefit/problem ratio is not the same for sloped and flat ceilings however!  Moisture is a much greater concern in these higher area where moisture tends to accumulate and where pressure is the greatest.  If a vapor retarder is not used, moisture will pass through the cellulose and in cold weather will condense on the roof sheathing, causing mold and eventually rot.  Here is an example of this:

 

 

 

Moreover, dense packing a sloped or cathedral ceiling can cut off existing ventilation to kneewall and attic spaces which violates building code. The only way to effectively dense pack these slopes is to install a minimum of 3 inches of rigid foam board insulation on the exterior of the roof (this will prevent condensation by increasing the temperature of the roof sheathing) or spraying 3 inches of closed cell spray foam on the underside of the roof deck before dense packing.  This second option is more invasive as it would require the sheet rock to be removed in order to access the slopes.  In new construction this is a widely used and easy insulation method.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In conclusion, dense packing existing exterior walls in an effective method to increase your homes efficiency but cathedral slopes and flat roofs should NOT be dense packed without first installing a proper vapor retarder.  Ask an insulation professional, building science professional or HERS rater before deciding on an insulation material and method.  What you do now will greatly effect the performance, comfort and safety of your home for years to come.

For more detailed information and for other great building science articles please visit https://buildingscience.com/documents/insights/bsi-043-dont-be-dense.  Photo Credits: Buildingscience.com

 

27May/17

Where is your energy going?

Energy Consumption

The largest misconception people have regarding energy is where they believe they use and waste the most energy. Heating and cooling are the main energy consumers in buildings and account for two thirds of a building’s total energy consumption. However, most of this energy is wasted due to inadequate insulation. Insulation is the most effective way to reduce energy costs. By using well-proven energy efficiency techniques, 70 to 90% of a building’s energy need for heating or cooling can be cut.

 

Call us today and ask about how you can reduce your energy waste with eco-friendly insulation!

13Feb/17

Nominated for an Award!

Last month The Green Cocoon was nominated for an award at the National Spray Foam Convention in Palm Springs. Dozens of companies enter their projects in hopes of winning an Industry Excellence Award, but only 5 are chosen to be publicly recognized at the awards luncheon, and we were proud to be one of the five. Although we did not win, we were in the 2017 Industry Excellence awardtop 5 for Commercial Wall Spray Foam category. In an industry with thousands of companies, being voted in the top 5 for the 233 Vaughan Street Project in Portsmouth, NH is a testament to our company’s passion for excellence, honesty and drive to be the best in our industry. To read more about this project click here. To see photos of the Vaughan Street project click here.

03Oct/16

Can’t sleep? Adjust the temperature.

If insomnia is a problem, maybe your bedroom is too hot or too cold. Both can affect sleep in surprising ways.  Are you keeping your room too cool for comfort because your home costs a fortune to heat? Don’t lose sleep to save money! Contact us to find out how you can make your home more energy and cost-efficient.

sleeping-baby

How Air Temperature Affects Your Sleep

Experts agree the temperature of your sleeping area and how comfortable you feel in it affect how well and how long you snooze. Why? “When you go to sleep, your set point for body temperature — the temperature your brain is trying to achieve — goes down.” “Think of it as the internal thermostat.” If it’s too cold or too hot, the body struggles to achieve this set point. That mild drop in body temperature induces sleep. Generally, Heller says,“if you are in a cooler [rather than too-warm] room, it is easier for that to happen.” But if the room becomes uncomfortably hot or cold, you are more likely to wake up. He explains that the comfort level of your bedroom temperature also especially affects the quality of REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, the stage in which you dream.

What’s the Best Temperature for Sleeping?

Recommending a specific range is difficult because what is comfortable for one person isn’t for another. While a typical recommendation is to keep the room between 65 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit, Heller advises setting the temperature at a comfortable level, whatever that means to the sleeper. There are other strategies for creating ideal sleeping conditions, too. Experts from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, for instance, advise thinking of a bedroom as a cave: It should cool, quiet, and dark. (Bats follow this logic and are champion sleepers, getting in 16 hours a day.) Be wary of memory foam pillows, which feel good because they conform closely to your body shape — but may make you too hot. And put socks on your feet, as cold feet, in particular, can be very disruptive to sleep.

23Sep/16

Hurricane Season is Upon us!

Although the Hurricane Season in New England is defined as June 1st to November 30th, 75% of the 40 tropical systems that have impacted our region in the past century have struck during the months of August and September. The last severe hurricane to hit Massachusetts was Hurricane Bob in August 1991. Bob, a Category 2 Hurricane, with winds between 91 and 110mph, caused almost $1 billion in damage, at the time. More recently, Hurricanes Eduardo (1996), Bonnie (1998) and Bill (2009) threatened the Bay State, but veered out into the Atlantic as they traveled up the coast (www.mass.gov).

hurricane-roof-damage

Every year, as storm season rolls around, millions fear for the safety of their family as well as the safety of their home. Now, with Demilec USA’s Heatlok XT spray foam insulation, you can rest assured that your home is protected by the strength of a hurricane adhesive, tested to have bonding strengths up to 2 times that of Florida’s code minimum! Heatlok XT can provide the following benefits to your home:

  • Reduce Storm Damage
  • Increases Wind Uplift Resistance
  • Create a More Solid Structure

Demilec USA’s Heatlok XT Spray Foam and Hurricane Adhesive product bonds the roof deck and trusses together, meeting and exceeding the requirements of the state of Florida, a state known for its destructive hurricanes (www.demilec.com). You worked hard to put the roof over your family’s head. Don’t let a storm carry it away! Give us a call and ask how you can get Heatlok XT in your home today!

27May/16

Invest in insulation!

invest in foamOne question that we always get asked here at The Green Cocoon is, “What is the R.O.I. on insulation?”  Consumers want to know if the upfront cost is worth it and more importantly, how long the payback will take. Let’s break this down and find out! Although energy costs vary per state, the average winter heating bill for oil and propane users is about $3,600.00 per year in New England (www.mass.gov/eea/energy-utilities…/household-heating-costs.html).  The average monthly electric bill is around $94.00 (http://www.electricitylocal.com/states/massachusetts/), and much higher in the summer months due to the use of air conditioners.  That comes to a moderate total of $4,720.00 annually.  Some of our customers have seen reductions in their heating and cooling bills of upwards of 75%, but for the sake of this example, let’s just say that by insulating your home you save 25%.  That is a savings of $1,182.00 per year!  If the average insulation job for medium sized homes is around $6,000 (give or take a few thousand depending on size and material), it would take about 5 years to get the return on your investment.  After that, you are pocketing an extra $1,182.00 per year.  Think of all of the things you could do with that money! What does that money equal?  Here’s what you can do with $1,182.00:

1) You can buy 2 months worth of groceries for a family of 4.

2) You could take a one week cruise to the Bahamas every year.

3) Fill the gas tank in your car for 6 months!

4) Invest it every year and after 30 years you would have over $84,000!

As you can see, insulation is well worth the investment. The question should not be “Can I afford it?”  The question is, “How can you not?”

Don’t have the money upfront for insulation? Don’t wait to start saving. Ask us about our interest free financing options!

 

24May/16

Visions of the Future

We here at the Green Cocoon are always striving to be the best we can be, inside and outside of the company.  We truly believe that we are only as great as our weakest link and that is why we are constantly striving to empower and inspire our team members to not only be great employees, but great people.  We decided to have everyone participate in a team building exercise with our good friends at UROCK Marketing.  Each one of us made a vision board and filled it with our dreams, aspirations and inspiration.  We hope that by having a visual path to their goals our employees will be successful in every aspect of their lives!  Watch our short video below of the event.  To find our more about UROCK’s team building and vision board parties, check out their website- www.urockmarketing.com

04May/16

Remembering Our First Passive House

We here at the Green Cocoon have a passion for efficiency, not only in our daily operations but also in the projects that we choose to work on. We have been fortunate enough to work on everything from small renovations and existing attics to energy positive, net-zero and our favorite, the Passive House. What is a passive house, you ask? The term passive house (Passivhaus in German) refers to a rigorous, voluntary standard for energy efficiency in a building, reducing its ecological footprint. A continuous, balanced supply of fresh air ensures unparalleled indoor air quality. Operable windows connect indoors with out. Super-insulated walls hold warmth in the winter and cool in the summer. Special windows and a building envelope consisting of a highly insulated roof and floor slab as well as highly insulated exterior walls keep the desired warmth in the house – or undesirable heat out. It results in ultra-low energy buildings that require little energy for space heating or cooling.

Dan ROy passive house
Currently in the U.S. there are less than 100 certified passive houses in existence, and we have worked on 4 of them. In the fall we will be starting another passive house in Rhode Island. We like to think of ourselves as the “go-to insulation company” for highly energy efficient projects.
To learn more about this project and passive house building in general, click here.

28Jan/16

Our Foam in Now Even Greener!

 

When it comes to reducing our carbon footprint and making our homes more efficient, the phrase “The more insulation the better” is often used.  While all insulation materials reduce greenhouse gas emissions (by saving energy and reducing our use of fossil fuels), insulating with thick layers of spray foams often results in long “payback periods” for the global warming potential of the insulation, mainly due to the most commonly used blowing agents. Continue reading