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.

Home Builders Sacrifice Energy Efficiency by Using Cheap Insulation

CSIRO ScienceImage 2175 Installing Insulation Batts

This is a great article about why over half the new homes in the USA are insulated with fiberglass batts.

“The big problem with fiberglass is that nobody understands how to properly install it to minimize air leakage. And if they do understand how to install it, they don’t want to spend the time and money doing it.

“So builders will happily keep building crappy walls that the wind can blow through because people can’t see it. They would rather sell visible performance, like windows and mechanical systems, because they can get real money for that.”

Read entire article from Treehugger.com, and then call us!

Summer Safety Tip: Be “Fireworks Smart”

Summer Safety Tip: Be “Fireworks Smart”

Fourth of July weekend is here! And that means sun, fun, and fireworks! Follow these guidelines from the National Council on Fireworks Safety and the National Safety Council to ensure a safe fireworks display.

Stats to Consider:
In 2006, an estimated 9,200 people were treated in emergency rooms for fireworks-related injuries, 36 percent of whom were under 15 years old. Children between the ages of 10 and 14 were at three times the risk of fireworks injuries than the general population. About a third of the injuries were from small firecrackers, 21 percent from bottle rockets and 20 percent from sparklers. In 2004, fireworks caused $21 million in direct property damage.

The National Safety Council advises the best way to safely enjoy this 4th of July is to watch a public fireworks display conducted by professionals. However, if fireworks are legal where you live and you decide to use them, be sure to follow these safety tips.

General Fireworks Safety Tips:

  • Never allow young children to handle fireworks.
  • Older children should use fireworks only under close adult supervision.
  • Light fireworks outdoors in a clear area away from onlookers, houses and flammable materials.
  • Light one device at a time; maintain a safe distance after lighting.
  • Do not allow any running or horseplay while fireworks are being used.
  • Never ignite devices in a container.
  • Do not try to re-light or handle malfunctioning fireworks; douse and soak them with water and discard them safely.
  • Keep a bucket of water and hose nearby to fully extinguish fireworks that don’t go off or in case of fire.

Sparkler“Fireworks Smart” Before, During, and After:

The National Council on Fireworks Safety urges consumers to be “fireworks smart” – before, during, and after their fireworks display.

  • Before: Choose an open area away from spectators, homes, buildings, and dry vegetation. Use a garden hose to wet down the area before firing.
  • During: As each device burns out, soak it using a hose or bucket of water.
  • After: Place all used items in a covered, fireproof container and leave it outside and away from homes and buildings.

Special Safety Tips for Sparklers:

  • Children under the age of 12 should not use sparklers without very close adult supervision.
  • Always remain standing while using sparklers.
  • Never hold a child in your arms while using sparklers.
  • Never hold or light more than one sparkler at a time.
  • Sparklers and bare feet can be a painful combination. Always wear closed-toe shoes when using sparklers.
  • Sparkler wire and stick remain hot long after the flame has gone out. Be sure to drop the spent sparklers directly into a bucket of water.
  • Never hand a lighted sparkler to another person. Give them the unlit sparkler and then light it.
  • Always stand at least 6 feet from another person while using sparklers.
  • Never throw sparklers.
  • Show children how to hold sparklers away from their body and at arm’s length.
  • Teach children not to wave sparklers, especially wooden stick sparklers, or run while holding sparklers.

Green Cocoon in the News, Thanks to Green Alliance

Looking for Green Insulation? – Get Wrapped up in the Green Cocoon

Candace and Jim from the Green Cocoon

Candace Lord and Jim Materkowski run The Green Cocoon.

By GREEN ALLIANCE | Published: JUNE 6, 2019
The Green Cocoon is an award-winning environmental comfort specialist that delivers energy-efficient, eco-friendly insulation solutions to residences and businesses throughout Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine.

Husband and wife team Jim Materkowski and Candace Lord founded the Green Cocoon in 2007, with a goal of bringing an environmental solution to insulation.

Read story.

Restoration project for Weston antique

Highland Street, Weston, MA Home

Photo courtesy of Zillow.com

Weston, Mass. – Last month, The Green Cocoon (TGC) finished the remodel of an energy-efficient, antique home in Weston, Massachusetts. Built in 1897, this completely remodeled farmhouse is on the market for just under $5 million. The home combines the architectural integrity and character of the original farmhouse with advanced, high-performance and smart home features, such as being certified as EPA Indoor airPLUS; DOE Zero Energy Ready Home; and an ENERGY STAR® Home. Read entire story.

“We are very excited to have been a part of this restoration,” said Candace Lord, Green Cocoon General Manager. “The results of our Mineral Wool are incredible. It is 100% recyclable, VOC-free, and formaldehyde-free. Mineral Wool is made from volcanic rock and slag (a glass-like by-product left over after a desired metal has been separated, i.e., smelted, from its raw ore). It is extremely fire retardant and has no harmful chemicals.”

Having such efficiency is one reason the home was registered as LEED Platinum®. LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is one of the most popular green building certification programs used worldwide. Developed by the non-profit U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), it includes a set of rating systems for the design, construction, operation, and maintenance of green buildings, homes, and neighborhoods that aim to help building owners and operators be environmentally responsible and use resources efficiently.

About The Green Cocoon
The Green Cocoon, Inc. is an award-winning environmental comfort specialist delivering seamless energy efficient, eco-friendly insulation solutions to residences and businesses throughout Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine. Comfort is at the core of their inherent operative mission. Their business is hinged on honesty, transparency, and trust. www.thegreencocoon.com.

Earth Day 2019

Earth Day 2019 Did you know that today, April 22nd, is Earth Day 2019? What does that mean and what is it meant to accomplish? Here’s a little history: On April 22, 1970, millions of people took to the streets to protest the negative impacts of 150 years of industrial development. In the U.S. and around the world, smog was becoming deadly and evidence was growing that pollution led to developmental delays in children. Biodiversity was in decline as a result of the heavy use of pesticides and other pollutants. The global ecological awareness was growing, and the US Congress and President Nixon responded quickly. In July of the same year, they created the Environmental Protection Agency, and robust environmental laws such as the Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act, among many. Earth Day is now a global event each year, and we believe that more than 1 billion people in 192 countries now take part in what is the largest civic-focused day of action in the world. Learn more about Earth Day at https://www.earthday.org/earthday/.

Invest in insulation!

Invest in insulation!

One 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!

 

Flash and Batt

“Flash and batt” is a popular technique for insulating walls but if you are going to use this technique, make sure to start with at least 2 inches of closed cell foam first.  A one inch “flash” is not enough to prevent condensation!

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 is 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