The Green Cocoon (TGC) has partnered with Hearth, a San Francisco-based company offering various financing options that can save consumers thousands of dollars during their home renovations. TGC is working with Hearth to help you find financing options that best fit your needs.
Make smarter financial decisions
The new financing options help homeowners make smart financial decisions about their renovations. Also, they show homeowners how to craft an accurate budget for their remodels.
Helping you during this pandemic
“We learned about Hearth while researching financing companies,” said James Materkowski, owner and president of The Green Cocoon. “Offering financing, especially in the midst of a pandemic, allows a homeowner to pay for their project with predictable, monthly payments without tapping into the equity of their home.”
The new financial tool can check rates in under two minutes and loans are typically funded in one to five days. One exciting feature is the no prepayment penalty option. You can pay off the loan early with no additional fees!
If you’ve been considering upgrading the insulation in your home, download our flyer to learn more about this exciting new financing option. Even though it is summer, now is the time to act. The cold months come in quickly and our schedule fills up! So, why not insulate and be warm this winter! Apply today!
Fireworks safety is very important now that the Fourth of July weekend is here! That means sun, fun, and fireworks! The Green Cocoon wants everyone to be safe this holiday season. Follow these guidelines from the National Council on Fireworks Safety to ensure fireworks safety.
Stats to Consider for Fireworks Safety
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.
“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.
Basement insulation installed incorrectly is a common contractor error. The results can be disastrous as severe mold and mildew may become a problem, not to mention the loss of money on your heating bill. Since most basements are inherently moist, you need to keep all untreated wood away from the concrete surfaces. Moisture below the slab can wick up into the concrete and get to the base plates of the wall. Therefore, you need to make certain the bottom plate of the wall is treated lumber.
Avoid Using Fiberglass Insulation in Basements
As seen in the photo above, putting polyethylene over fiberglass insulation is a no-no as it doesn’t allow the insulation to breathe. Consequently, this homeowner had moisture build-up and ultimately mold growth!
For years contractors have been treating basements much like regular living space. It’s not uncommon to see fiberglass insulation in direct contact with basement foundation walls. Here in the northeast, we see several common mistakes, including:
Plastic vapor barrier against concrete wall, fiberglass insulation inside stud wall, then drywall
Fiberglass insulation inside a “bag” hanging from the rim joist down along the foundation wall
Stud wall filled with fiberglass insulation an inch or two away from the concrete wall
Those mistakes can increase the chances for mold to grow.
What Causes Mold to Grow in Basements?
Mold can grow on virtually any organic material as long as it has the right moisture level and oxygen. Because mold eats or digests what it is growing on, it can damage a building and its furnishings. If left unchecked, mold eventually can cause structural damage to building materials and can cause health problems. That’s why we don’t want mold in our basements! Specifically, we can prevent damage to buildings and building contents in the basement areas, save money, and avoid these potential health problems by controlling moisture.
According to the EPA, indoor relative humidity in homes should be kept below 60 percent — ideally between 30 and 50 percent.  In addition to preventing mold formation, maintaining the correct humidity levels may also have a bonus effect. It may discourage pests such as cockroaches, silverfish (bristletails), and dust mites from showing up where you don’t want them!
To measure the humidity of your home or basement, you need to buy a humidity meter and track the relative humidity level. That is the first part of understanding the mold problem in your home or basement.
If contractors are still using fiberglass insulation in basements, it means that we in the industry need to do a better job educating our builders. In order to understand the issues with basement insulation, you first must understand the role of vapor barriers in basements.
Use the Right Insulation
Over the years, we’ve come to rely on two main approaches for basement insulation projects and remodeling, including closed cell spray foam and rigid foam board. When installed in the correct thickness, these two methods result in a proper vapor barrier and superior insulation.
Get Educated – Be the Pro!
Today, the building industry and building science are changing rapidly. In order to stand out in the competition and provide a professional service to your clients, you need to stay educated on the latest methods. You can be sure that the team at The Green Cocoon is up-to-date on the latest insulation practices in order to bring our clients the best product possible.
If you have questions or need a quote on your next insulation project, contact us and we’d be happy to help.
 Be the Pro. Avoiding Basement Insulation Mistakes. Retrieved from bethepro.com.
 United States Environmental Protection Agency. Mold Course Chapter 2. Retrieved from epa.gov.
In the world of building construction, improvement, and insulation, we talk about R-value all the time. Usually, we talk about it as if it’s a constant number. We see R-19 stamped right there on the product, so that’s what it is, right? Well, did you know that the R-value of insulation is not a constant?
What Is R-Value?
R-value is a measure of resistance to heat flow through a given thickness of material. R-value is important, but it’s just one of a few key factors that determine the effectiveness of an insulation material. The R-value is tested in an air-tight vacuum chamber, which means that typical insulation materials like fiberglass and cellulose do not actually perform with that value unless paired with intense air sealing measures.
Because of scams involving R-value claims that didn’t match reality, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) devised the R-value Rule to protect buyers of insulating products. In fact, in 2013 the FTC handed down its largest fine ever ($350,000) to a company claiming that its paint had an R-value of 100.
So, the R-value Rule requires testing insulation using one of four American Society of Test Methods (ASTM) standards. The basic requirement is that the mean temperature must be 75° F (24° C) with a temperature difference of 50° F (28° C) across the insulation.
According to Building Science Corporation, most R-value testing is done with a temperature of 50° F (10° C) on the cold side and 100° F (38° C) on the hot side.
The Lowdown on R-value
The main point here is that R-value isn’t some constant number for a given material, and installation isn’t the only factor that affects it. As you can see above, temperature has a significant effect as well.
The team at The Green Cocoon knows that the performance of the insulation is affected by how well it is installed. Energystar.gov has developed guidelines for grading the quality of installation. Moreover, they’ve developed a table that shows what levels of insulation are cost-effective for different climates and locations in the home.
Improperly installed insulation loses its R-value. For example, fiberglass can lose up to 50 percent of its prescribed R-value when compressed. When you compress fiberglass batt insulation, the R-value per inch goes up, but the overall R-value goes down because you have less inches or thickness of insulation.
Fear not, closed cell spray foam is the only insulation material that has an almost constant R-value. The reason is because you cannot pass air through it or compress it.
Contact us to find out more about R-value or for a free quote.
 Building Performance Institute (April 4, 2017). What Does R-Value Mean? Retrieved from bpihomeowner.org.
 FTC.gov (January 31, 2013). FTC Action Leads to Court Order: Home Insulation Marketer to Pay $350,000. Retrieved from ftc.gov.
 Electronic Code of Federal Regulations (March 31, 2020). R-value Rule. Retrieved from ecfr.gov.
 Building Science Corporation (April 12, 2013). Info-502: Temperature Dependence of R-values in Polyisocyanurate Roof Insulation. Retrieved from buildingscience.com.
 Energy.gov. Recommend Home Insulation R-Values. Retrieved from energy.gov.
The Green Cocoon was fortunate to work with Gorman Homes on this insulation project. We work with these guys quite often and they’re great! We will be doing Gaco Profill in the walls to eliminate open cell shaving waste.
“The GacoProFill SYSTEM is the first complete spray foam system to offer a consistent cavity fill and a smooth surface with no trimming needed. The self-compressing characteristic of this tough, true polyurethane based spray foam is the reason GacoProFill can be quickly and easily installed behind a membrane (either GacoProFilm or GacoProWeb) as part of the GacoProFill SYSTEM.” (gaco.com)
There is hardly any waste, which means the GacoProFill SYSTEM provides higher yields than most open cell foams. Consequently, scrap disposal expenses are greatly reduced or eliminated.
The Green Cocoon was fortunate to work with Red Hammer Builders from Georgetown, Massachusetts on this project. The house, which is located on the northshore of Massachusetts, was built in the early 1900s.
The project is a full gut rehab, and closed cell spray foam was applied throughout the building.
As you can see, everyone is wearing protective equipment to protect you and themselves from Covid-19 AND the insulation!
Even though many of us at The Green Cocoon are working from home just like you amidst the Covid-19 pandemic, we can still do our part on Earth Day 2020 (EARTHRISE).
From the 2020 NCAA Basketball Tournament in the U.S. to the UEFA Champions League and Europa League in Europe to the Grand Prix in Australia, just about every big spring event this year has been cancelled or postponed. But the annual event coming up on April 22, Earth Day, will be held rain or shine. You don’t want to miss it!
Earth Day History
This year is the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, which began as a “youthquake” in 1970 with former Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson leading the charge.
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 U.S. Congress and President Nixon responded quickly. In July of the same year, they created the Environmental Protection Agenc. They also created 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 more than 1 billion people in 192 countries now take part in what is the largest civic-focused day of action in the world.
EARTHRISE: Earth Day Goes Digital
The theme for this year’s Earth Day is Climate Action. Earthday.org states, “Climate change represents the biggest challenge to the future of humanity and the life-support systems that make our world habitable.” With the coronavirus wreaking havoc on us all and limiting our activities, Earth Day organizers had to get creative.
In a recent press release, Earth Day Network noted that they are shifting their actions from massive worldwide cleanups to a strictly online campaign. The title of their movement is EARTHRISE, which is a “global, digital mobilization that drives actions big and small, gives diverse voices a platform and demands bold action for people and planet.” Over the course of 24 hours, EARTHRISE will fill the digital landscape with global conversations, calls to action, performances, video teach-ins, and more. Learn more.
Some people have already started recruiting others to do their part by hosting Facebook events. For example, Amanda Merlino from Florida is hosting a “Get Trashed for Earth Day” event on April 19th. She is encouraging people to grab “a plastic bag, wear some gloves, and pick up all of the discarded trash that you see. Post pictures or video of your efforts to encourage others to get involved.”
How to Celebrate Earth Day at Home
While none of us are sure how long this pandemic will last, each of us can take steps to ensure we don’t turn one crisis into another. Strive for sufficiency over efficiency, avoid the urge to panic-buy and learn how to cook for a few days with what you have in the house, rather than run to the store for one item.
Take a walk and pick up trash
Whether you walk by yourself and pick up trash or you recruit others to do it, seeing a clean street shows pride for one’s town or city. Join an event like Amanda is holding or hold one yourself. Doing something with others increases one’s motivation.
Cut way back on water
Since you’re not going out, consider cutting back on showering to save water and energy (but keep washing your hands!). Unless you’re in direct contact with medical professionals or constantly out in the world, try showering several times a week instead of every day.
Try eating the same breakfast every day for a week. Keep your pantry stocked with humble ingredients that are also delicious. Now is a great time to pass your frugal life skills onto your kids. Breakfast is important!
Let your yard go wild
Treehugger.com says to “Turn your lawn back into a productive plant community. Plant clover. Stop raking your damn leaves and use them as a home compost pile instead. Grow vegetables in your yard. Plant a wildlife hedge instead of building a fence.”
Help overworked healthcare professionals and hospitals by keeping your own immune system strong. Go on a walk for both a mental and physical break. If you’re unable to go outside, try one of these “visual soundscape” videos to relax. Reduce your consumption of meat and dairy.
In summary, all of us working together can save the planet. We just need to get along. Stay healthy and strong this Earth Day. Learn more about Earth Day.
The Governors of Massachusetts and New Hampshire have asked all non-essential businesses to close. The Green Cocoon (TGC) is excited to be listed as an essential business, and thus will continue working on all projects as planned, unless other arrangements are made.
Employees Working From Home
All office employees are now working from home and only the installers are coming to the shop. They get the supplies they need and then head off to the project site.
Taking Extra Precautions
“We are a very small crew and are taking extra precautions in the office by deep cleaning surfaces frequently,” said Vice President Candace Lord. “By law our installers have to wear respirators while at the job site, so they are already better protected from the virus. Moreover, TGC uses mechanical ventilation while we work, which creates a negative pressure in the house. This actually prevents any of our air from getting into your house!”
If you have any questions about your current project or would like a consultation for something new, please contact us. Stay safe and healthy everyone.
At The Green Cocoon, the safety and well-being of our employees and our customers is always our priority. We are actively monitoring the Coronavirus (COVID-19) situation and taking steps to help keep our employees and customers safe. We wanted to share with you some steps we are taking.
Protecting our employees and customers
As our employees interact with customers and the general public, we have taken steps to limit exposure to the virus.
The Green Cocoon has 12 employees, so we are a small, but mighty group. We are postponing our team meetings, providing remote-work solutions, and continue to reinforce safe behavior in every environment—from customer homes and businesses to our offices. We are in continuous communication with our employees reminding them about the importance of good hygiene, providing them with health education and support whenever needed. Employees who feel ill have been told to not report to work.
When we first meet you, The Green Cocoon sends one sales person to your home. They have washed their hands and sanitized their vehicles before coming into your home. Once we are hired by you, we send a crew of two people to perform the actual work. Safety regulations mandate that homeowners be absent from the home while insulation is being installed. And, our employees must wear a protective suit, thus limiting your and their exposure while they are in your home.
If you have any questions, please contact us. We are open for business!
Now is the perfect time to get your home ready for spring using these 10 home maintenance tips. After a long, dreary winter, seeing the snow melt and feeling the warmer temps is a breath of fresh air. Getting your home ready for spring is more than cleaning.
Examine Roof Shingles
Examine roof shingles to see if any were lost or damaged during the winter. If your home has an older roof covering, you may want to start a budget for replacement. The summer sun can really damage roof shingles. Shingles that are cracked, buckled, or loose or are missing granules need to be replaced. Flashing around plumbing vents, skylights, and chimneys need to be checked and repaired by a qualified roofer.
Seal Air Leaks
Pay particular attention to windows and doors. If you spot cracks or gaps, caulking or weatherstripping should fix the problem; both are simple, DIY projects. Weatherstripping windows, for example, requires only measuring tape, a utility knife, and self-adhesive tape.
Insulate the Attic
If your attic has no (or little) insulation, the room could become a sweatbox on a warm spring day. Adding insulation before warmer weather arrives will prevent that from happening. Another benefit of insulating your attic now: It will help reduce heat loss during the cold winter days ahead.
Check the Gutters
Check for loose or leaky gutters. Improper drainage can lead to water in the basement or crawl space. Make sure downspouts drain away from the foundation and are clear and free of debris.
Check Outside Faucets
Check outside hose faucets for freeze damage. Turn the water on and place your thumb or finger over the opening. If you can stop the flow of water, it is likely the pipe inside the home is damaged and will need to be replaced. While you’re at it, check the garden hose for dry rot.
Service the AC Unit
Have a qualified heating and cooling contractor clean and service the outside unit of the air conditioning system. Clean coils operate more efficiently, and an annual service call will keep the system working at peak performance levels. Change interior filters on a regular basis.
Check the Foundation
Check foundation walls, floors, concrete, and masonry for cracking, heaving, or deterioration. If a significant number of bricks are losing their mortar, call a foundation professional. If you can slide a nickel into a crack in your concrete floor, slab, or foundation, call a foundation repair professional near you immediately.
Clean siding with a pressure washer to keep mold from growing. Check all wood surfaces for weathering and paint failure. If wood is showing through, sand the immediate area and apply a primer coat before painting. If paint is peeling, scrape loose paint and sand smooth before painting.
Replace all filters including water, range hood, and air vent filters. You should replace these filters every 3-6 months depending on the type of filter you have.
Clean Out the Dryer Vent
Sure, you diligently clean out the lint trap every time you empty the dryer, but when was the last time you cleaned out the entire dryer vent? This easy task will not only improve the efficiency of your dryer, but it can also help prevent fires. (According to the U.S. Fire Administration, clothes dryers cause around 2,900 home fires each year.)
In short, these 10 home maintenance tips for spring are just a few we recommend. There are many more available at energy.gov.