5 Easy Ways to Increase Energy Efficiency and Save Money

Home losing heat through roof, windows and doorsWith winter approaching, The Green Cocoon has five easy ways that homeowners can use to increase energy efficiency and save money, besides using our fabulous spray foam insulation! As the weather gets cooler, your furnace will start to come on and that means you’ll be using more energy. Consequently, your heating bills will increase. Try these five easy DIY (do-it-yourself) projects to help cut down on energy loss and expenses.

Replace worn weather-stripping around doors and windows

Did you know that worn weather-stripping can create drafts and let cold air in? This puts a high demand on your furnace and takes away your comfort. Replacing it takes little time and is a low-cost, high-impact solution.

Caulk around windows to increase energy efficiency

Cracks and crevices are a source of heat loss. They can also be an entryway for water/moisture, as well as for undesired insects. Preventative maintenance, such as caulking, can improve energy efficiency and prevent costly repairs.

Change your furnace filter

A dirty furnace filter means less efficiency and that costs money! Check your furnace filter monthly and if it’s dirty, change it or have it changed. Moreover, have a technician come in and inspect the entire furnace at least once per year.

Update light bulbs to LEDs to save money

LED is a highly energy efficient lighting technology, and has the potential to fundamentally change the future of lighting in the United States. Residential LEDs—especially ENERGY STAR rated products—use at least 75% less energy, and last 25 times longer than incandescent lighting.1

An automatic thermostat increases energy efficiency and saves money

You can save money and increase energy efficiency on your heating and cooling bills by simply resetting your thermostat when you are asleep or away from home. You can do this automatically without sacrificing comfort by installing an automatic setback or programmable thermostat.

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1 Department of Energy (2019). LED Lighting. Retrieved from energy.gov.

Farmers’ Almanac Says Get Ready for a “Polar Coaster” Winter

Farmers’ Almanac Says Get Ready for a “Polar Coaster” Winter

According to Farmers’ Almanac (Almanac), we are in for a “Polar Coaster” winter. The term was inspired by the ups and downs that are predicted on the thermometer. Consequently, we may not be able to get off “the ride” until April!  Moreover, now is a great time to start thinking about saving money by making your home more energy-efficient with The Green Cocoon’s eco-friendly building insulation.

Saving Money

How do you save money with The Green Cocoon? Let us explain.

In our blog post, “Invest in Insulation,” we analyzed the average heating and electricity bills in Massachusetts (where we are located). Furthermore, we wanted to give our readers an estimate of how much money they would save by investing in insulation. And, the answer is approximately $1,284 annually!

Additionally, here’s what you can do with $1,284:

  1. You can buy an average of three months’ worth of groceries for a family of four.
  2. You and your significant other could take a one-week cruise to the southern Caribbean from Boston.
  3. Fill the gas tank in your car for almost one year. Of course, this depends on car size and miles travelled.
  4. Invest it every year and after 30 years you would have over $100,000!

New Hampshire Known for Crazy Weather

If you live in New Hampshire, you are no stranger to crazy winter weather. According to NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information, the coldest temperature on record in New Hampshire  (-50°F) was on January 22, 1885. That was at the summit of Mount Washington. Likewise, many winters in New Hampshire bring snow, rain, ice, and chilly temps, which many of us enjoy! If you are an outdoor enthusiast, it means a lot of exciting outdoor winter activities.

Almanac’s editor Peter Geiger, said “Our extended forecast is calling for yet another freezing, frigid, and frosty winter for two-thirds of the country.” What does that mean for us this winter? We will experience colder than normal temperatures, and significant precipitation.

Use Eco-Friendly Building Insulation

In conclusion, don’t keep throwing your money out the window. The Green Cocoon has eco-friendly building insulation that comes in various forms. Contact us to learn more!

Invest in Insulation

Invest in Insulation

 

One question we always get asked here at The Green Cocoon is, “What is the R.O.I. (return on investment) on insulation?” Consumers want to know if the upfront cost is worth it and more importantly, how long it takes to see the payback. Let’s break this down and find out!

Energy Costs Analyzed

Energy costs vary per state, and since we are located in Massachusetts, we will use that state. The average winter heating bill for oil (most popular) is about $2,083 per year[i]. The average yearly electric bill is around $1,128[ii], and much higher in the summer months due to the use of air conditioners.  That comes to a moderate total of $3,211 annually.

Some of our customers have seen reductions in their heating and cooling bills of up to 75 percent, but for the sake of this example, let’s just say that by insulating your home you save 40 percent. That is a savings of $1,284 per year! If the average insulation job for a medium-sized home is around $6,000 (give or take a few thousand depending on size and material), it would take just under five years to get the return on your investment. After that, you are pocketing an extra $1,284 per year. Think of all of the things you could do with that money! What does that money equal?

What You Can Do With Savings

Here’s what you can do with $1,284:

  1. You can buy three months’ worth of groceries for a family of four.
  2. You and your significant other could take a one-week cruise to the southern Caribbean from Boston.
  3. Fill the gas tank in your car for almost one year (depending on car size and miles travelled).
  4. Invest it every year and after 30 years you would have over $100,000!

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

If you don’t have the money upfront for insulation, there’s no need to wait to start saving. Ask us about our interest-free financing options.

 

[i] Commonwealth of Massachusetts (2019). Household Heating Costs. Retrieved from mass.gov.
[ii] Electricity Local (2019). Residential Electricity Rates & Consumption in Massachusetts. Retrieved from electricitylocal.com.

Hurricane Season Is Upon Us!

The hurricane season in New England is defined as June 1st to November 30th. However, 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 110 mph, caused almost $1 billion in damage. Other hurricanes like 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-damageEvery 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. It has been tested to have bonding strengths up to two 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. As a result, it meets and exceeds 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!

Insulation of the Future: The Green Cocoon Investigates Hemp

Insulation of the Future: The Green Cocoon Investigates Hemp

The United States demand for insulation is estimated to rise 3.7 percent per year to approximately $9.5 billion by 2021.[i] And with so much demand, new types of insulation are being tested for the future. We will focus on one—Hemp.

According to Green Building Advisor, “Two North American companies are producing insulation for residential construction from locally sourced hemp fiber. This gives builders an alternative to fiberglass, plastic foams, and other more conventional materials.”[ii]

Europe Has More Access to Hemp

In Europe, builders have access to hemp insulation, but availability has been limited in the U.S.  Some U.S. builders have toyed with a mix of hemp fibers and lime called “hempcrete.” But, because of U.S. laws, extensive use of industrial hemp has been blocked.

Hemp Batt Wall Insulation

One Canadian company capable of producing threadlike hemp insulation on a commercial scale is Montreal-based MEM Inc.  Not far behind producing hemp fiber insulation is a biomaterials supplier in Louisville, Kentucky, called Sunstrand. And, new on the scene is Nature Fibres, a Canadian company based in Quebec. [iii] The interesting fact about Nature Fibres is they moved into Asbestos, Quebec, to start up their business. The town was named after asbestos because of the former industry in town. But, due to the associated health risks, those manufacturing facilities are closing their doors.

Benefits of Using Hemp

The benefits of using Hemp for insulation are many. It is biodegradable and has a very long service life. “Walls opened up in France 50 years after construction showed hemp insulation looking essentially brand new.”ii Hemp is composed mostly of a natural fiber (88% hemp fiber and 12% polyester fiber) with no chemical binders and no VOC (volatile organic compounds) off-gassing. As a result, it allows water vapor to pass through it. and is naturally repellant to rodents and insects.

It is clear that with all the changes in the market and with regulations, the insulation industry needs to keep up with demand and changing times. The Green Cocoon is a company that looks to help people lower their carbon footprint by increasing their home’s efficiency. We do this while using the greenest products available on the market.

[i] Walls & Ceilings (2019, August 6). An Optimistic Look into the Insulation Future. Retrieved from wconline.com.
[ii] Green Building Advisor (2018, March 8). Hemp Insulation Comes to North America. Retrieved from greenbuildingadvisor.com
[iii] Eco Home (2018, October 19). Hemp Insulation in Canada & USA – Insulating Naturally Is an Eco-Friendly Alternative. Retrieved from ecohome.net.

No Fossil Fuels Needed for Newton, Mass. Restoration Project

No Fossil Fuels Needed for Newton, Mass. Restoration Project

Newton, Mass. – The Green Cocoon, Inc. (TGC) was recently awarded an insulation project for a home in Newton, Mass. The original home, built in the early 1900s, is being fully renovated, gutted completely to the studs. Once completed, solar panels will be installed in the home and it will run on 100 percent electricity. Consequently, this house will not use any fossil fuels!

Closed cell spray foam was used on this project, specifically Gaco HFO (hydrofluoroolefin) spray foam. HFO closed cell spray foam is a reformulated version of spray polyurethane foam. But, the reformulated version has only a tiny fraction of the global warming potential of its predecessor.  HFO is a blowing agent and is an essential ingredient in spray foam insulation. It creates the tiny bubbles of trapped gas that slow the movement of heat and make foam such a good insulator with a very high R-value. But the most common blowing agent in spray polyurethane foam today, a hydrofluorocarbon, has a global warming potential (GWP) more than 1,000 times that of carbon dioxide. The newer type of blowing agent has a GWP of 1.[i]

 “We have been using an eco-friendly closed cell spray foam for quite some time,” said Candace Lord, Green Cocoon Vice President. “It reduces excess waste and energy consumption in buildings by up to 50 percent while adding rigidity and strength to the structure. The R-value is over 7 per inch, and it has a greater resistance to the leakage of air and water vapor. It is a perfect vapor barrier in both summer and winter.”

The contract was awarded by Essex Restoration, a residential building and remodeling company in Wilmington, Mass. They have been working with TGC for over two years on restoration and renovation projects.

[i] Green Building Advisor (2017, February 9). Next Generation Spray Foams Trickle into the Market. Retrieved from greenbuildingadvisor.com

6 Trends in Sustainable Construction for 2019

6 Trends in Sustainable Construction for 2019

Building a new home comes with a myriad of decisions: How many bedrooms? Do you need a big garage? What about your landscaping? One of the easiest decisions to make is to build sustainably.

Sustainable homes are beneficial for both homeowners and the environment. This is due to the energy efficient design process and green building practices. Read on to see six of the most popular sustainable home trends. Learn how they can improve your quality of life.

Passive Building Design

The word “passive” in this instance means that Mother Nature is doing all the work to maximize natural resources. This allows you to minimize energy consumption.

Instead of a design that uses technology like boilers and electric lighting, the internal environment in a passive home is powered by external elements. These include solar radiation, air pressure variations and outdoor temperatures. Passive homes will help restrict heat loss in the winter and reduce heat increases in the summer.

One of the most common features of a passive home is a large overhang as part of the roof. This helps shade windows in hot weather and prevent water from entering.

Use Sustainable Building Materials

Quality, reusable materials are sent to landfills every day. Sustainable building companies reclaim and repurpose them for use in homes.

Homes often incorporate recycled barnboard to create an accent wall.Recycled materials typically include tile, flooring, reclaimed wood, roofing materials, light fixtures, steel and many others. Homes often incorporate these items for décor purposes too, like recycled barnboard to create an accent wall.

Sourcing for sustainable and recycled products can take longer than new materials. There may also be added costs. But by preserving these materials, you’re making what was once old new again and helping to limit waste. There are many salvage companies that collect spectacular items from homes that are being renovated or demolished. It can be an exciting challenge to hunt for a treasured vintage item.

Prefabricated Homes

A prefabricated home is another great way to limit waste. These houses are built at an off-site location. Building off-site makes the production process more efficient than building right on your lot.

Your site can be prepared at the same time your home is being built.

There are also hybrid processes. This is where parts of your home are prefabricated, while the rest is constructed on site. One of the most popular techniques is a panelized wall system. The walls are constructed off-site. Upon completion, they are delivered to the lot and assembled like a puzzle.

Green-Certified Homes

You can design and build a home with sustainability in mind. But, receiving a certification will really legitimize all of your hard work.

ENERGY STAR certifications are one of the highest a building can receive. To become certified, a home must meet the strict energy performance standards put in place by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). ENERGY STAR homes not only help protect the environment by emitting less greenhouse gas. They also help homeowners save energy and costs while creating an incredibly comfortable home, with fewer temperature fluctuations and greater sound control. In just 2017, ENERGY STAR buildings helped families and businesses save $30 billion in energy costs!

There are also LEED certifications, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. These set a standard for the design, construction and operation of high-performance homes and buildings. LEED has various rating levels, depending on how many points a home scores in terms of efficiency. These homes use less water and energy, reduce waste and enhance indoor air quality.

Use Non-Toxic Materials

Many materials found in homes contain hazardous chemicals and toxins that can be harmful to both homeowners and the planet.

Many glues, paint, adhesives, coatings and other materials contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs). These can enter the atmosphere of your home and travel outside. Formaldehyde is one chemical that’s commonly found in paints and solvents. It can cause allergic reactions, irritations and even trigger an asthma attack when it off-gases.

For a non-toxic, healthy home, opt for PVC alternatives, non-toxic wood and natural insulation materials. There are formaldehyde-free products available, along with zero or low VOC paints, and cellulose, for an eco-friendly insulation material.

Net-Zero Homes

In a net-zero home, you produce the same amount of energy that you consume. These homes are built to very high standards in order to produce the most comfortable temperatures and cleaner air with reduced allergens and toxins.

Net-zero homes require sophisticated design and build practices to ensure that the structure is airtight and well insulated. They also need solar panels to generate enough energy to power to your home.

The initial construction will likely run higher than the average cost to build a new home. However. you will be able to save by not having to pay monthly energy bills well into the future.

Once you’ve moved into your sustainable, eco-friendly home, don’t forget to incorporate green décor! Certain indoor plants, like Dracaenas, snake plants and Boston ferns, help purify the air and reduce VOCs. You can also continue to explore salvage options for your furnishings. The items that you select will come with their own historical relevance. The environment will appreciate it.

Article courtesy of Paul Kerrigan, Chinburg Properties Chief Operating Officer.

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.

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.

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!