If you live in an area where temperatures fall well below freezing during the winter months like we do in Maryland and Virginia, you might have trouble keeping your home warm. Several culprits can contribute – single pane windows, poorly sealed windows and doors, and even vaulted ceilings play a factor. Another big contributor is your home’s attic insulation.
The laws of physics tell us that heat rises. It stands to reason then that any heat generated through the vents in your floor will make its way to your ceilings. If your home is 2 or more stories, you know that your upper level is warmer than your lower levels. Eventually that heat makes its way to your attic, and if your attic insulation is lacking, the heat escapes through your roof.
Many homes come with standard roll-out insulation in the attic. That’s should be sufficient, right? To know for sure, we need to know about R-Value.
What is R-Value for Insulation?
R-Value is a measurement given to insulation. The R in R-Value means Resistance to heat flow. The higher the R-Value, the more resistance. Standard roll-out insulation with thicknesses of between 3.5- to 14-inches have an R-Value between R-11 and R-19. Blown-in insulation offers higher R-Values depending on how many inches are installed.
How Much Insulation Do I Need?
The Department of Energy (DOE) published recommended R-Value ratings for various climate zones throughout the United States. Below is their published chart. Homes in Maryland and Virginia fall into Zone 4, with recommended R-Value ratings between R-38 and R-60.
At S&K Roofing, Siding and Windows, we recommend approximately 16 inches of Owens Corning AttiCat blown-in insulation, which can save you up to 20% on your heating and cooling costs.* This level of insulation provides an R-Value of R-49. As you can see, compared to roll-out insulation at R-11 – R-19, blown-in insulation offers exceptional heat flow resistance. In addition to fiberglass insulation providing energy efficiency, it is non-combustible and non-corrosive, provided added safety.
How You Can Increase Energy Efficiency
To find out more about how blown-in attic insulation can help with your energy costs, contact the experts at S&K. Our team will remove your existing roll-out insulation and install the proper level of blown-in insulation. Best of all, in most cases your new attic insulation will be in place, saving you money in just a few hours. Contact us today at 1-(866) 836-7663, or click here to schedule your free attic insulation estimate.
* http://www.energystar.gov. Savings vary. Find out why in the seller’s fact sheet on R-values. Higher R-values mean greater insulating power.
Adding attic insulation such as Atticat blown-in attic insulation from Owens Corning not only makes sense, it makes cents! Additional attic insulation provides a higher level of energy efficiency, which in turn saves you money each month – summer and winter.
Atticat blown-in attic insulation is easily installed in just a few hours, and will provide energy efficiency for years to come. When your home has attic insulation with a high R-value (a measurement of energy efficiency), it helps prevent heat loss through the ceilings in your home. Warm air rises, and when insulation in your attic is insufficient, that warm air can pass through your ceilings into your attic, and escape through your roof. Efficient attic insulation provides a barrier, preventing the warm air from entering the attic.
During the hot summer months, energy efficient attic insulation work the same way, only in reverse. Sun and high temperatures warm your home from the roof down. Adequate insulation prevents the heat in your attic from entering your home. In addition to adequate insulation, you should also be sure that your attic is properly ventilated so that the warm air can escape.
According to energystar.gov, 15.5 inches of blown-in attic insulation can save you up to 20% on your heating and cooling costs. In fact, energystar.gov also states that the average US home spends $2,200 on home energy costs (http://www.energyhog.org/adult/pdf/EnergyFacts.pdf) Add it up, and your Atticat insulation installation can save you hundreds of dollars each year. And because Atticat insulation is made of fiberglass, it is non-combustible and will not settle over time. Atticat insulation offers an R-Value rating of R-49 which is recommended for the Maryland climate zone.
S&K Roofing, Siding and Windows installs energy efficient Atticat insulation throughout Maryland. Contact us today to learn more and to get a free attic insulation estimate. Call 1-(866) 836-7663, or click here to schedule an estimate online.
Temperatures in the single digits…not one, but several rounds of arctic vortex weather events last year…the weather in Maryland and Virginia can be extreme. Sustained frigid weather may be the norm for people living far to our north, but for those of us here not so much! Not only does extreme weather wear on us physically, it wears out our wallets, too. When temps dip down into the teens and below, our home heating systems are forced to work extra hard to accommodate. So what’s the best way to keep your family warm and not blow your budget on energy bills? We have a few helpful tips…
The #1 way to keep the cold out, and the warmth in is insulation. And when it comes to insulating your home, there are several areas to pay close attention. We’ll start from the top down.
Attic Insulation – The largest area of heat loss in most homes is through the roof. Heat rises, so naturally the first place it will try to escape is up to your attic and through the roof. Investing in high quality, high R-value insulation won’t break the bank and it will provide a substantial energy savings. At S&K, we recommend using AttiCat blown-in attic insulation from Owens Corning. Just 15.5 inches of AttiCat Insulation can save you up to 20% on your heating and cooling costs. Fiber glass insulation is non-combustible and non-corrosive by nature, which means that it will never settle or lose its energy-saving abilities. In addition, AttiCat offers an incredible R-49 value rating – the recommended attic R-value rating for the Maryland climate zone. For more information, visit our Maryland attic insulation page.
Siding Insulation / Wall Insulation – When homes are built, contractors insulate the space between the exterior and interior walls with either blown-in or rolled insulation. This greatly decreases air’s ability to come from the outside in, and it helps keep water pipes from freezing. Pretty standard stuff. But did you also know that there is such a thing as insulated siding? Unlike standard vinyl siding which is made from a single layer of formed vinyl, insulated siding is backed with a foam-like substance. This added layer works like a blanket, blocking cold air from making its way behind siding. Another added benefit of insulated siding in noise reduction. Insulated siding acts a bit like the foam walls you see in recording studios, helping to block outside noise. Learn more about the benefits of this type of siding on our Maryland insulated siding page.
Replace Drafty Windows and Doors
Energy Efficient Windows – If you have old or inexpensive windows, you have most likely at one time or another been shocked to stand near a window and feel a ‘breeze’…when the window is closed! Poorly installed windows, windows with single pane glass, and windows that have wood or non-insulated frames are susceptible to energy loss. In winter, not only does cold air come into your house through low efficiency windows, your precious heat escapes! Today, innovations in energy efficiency have lead the way for replacement windows that help keep your home warm in winter and cool in summer. S&K recommends double-paned windows with insulated frames for maximum efficiency. And just as important as the window itself is its installation. Be sure to have replacement windows installed by a professional. S&K offers the very best in replacement windows in Maryland. Learn more about these windows and energy efficiency on our Maryland replacement windows page.
Doors – Much like windows, the doors in your home are prone to energy loss through poor installation and poor quality. Entry doors and sliding doors should be well made and installed to be sure that you’re not losing energy. And when it comes to entry doors, and added layer of protection can be put into place with a storm door. As the name suggests, storm doors help keep the elements out, and your energy in. Learn more about the doors that S&K carries on our Maryland doors page.
Consider an Alternate Heat Source
Fireplaces, Stoves and Inserts – Another way to help combat high energy bills is through the installation of an alternate source of heat — namely a gas, wood or pellet fireplace or stove. Fireplaces and stoves can quickly and efficiently heat spaces like family rooms and large bedrooms, allowing you to keep your thermostat at a reasonably low rate. (Not too low, though – you want to be sure that those pipes don’t freeze!) Fireplaces and stoves come in a wide variety of styles from ultra contemporary to down-on-the-farm traditional. We recommend visiting the hearth experts in Maryland at Ace Hardware & Hearth. Learn more on their Maryland fireplace dealer page.
Beware Hidden Energy Hogs
All Things Electric – While the Green movement has us more aware than ever of recycling and using energy efficient light bulbs, here are a few things you can do to reduce your energy usage even more. First, search your home for items that are plugged into the wall, but rarely used. Anything that is plugged into an outlet – even when turned off – draws a trace amount of electricity. Therefore all of those little things that are plugged in add up. Next, take a look at your electronic devices. In today’s always-on-the-go, always-in-touch world, it takes laptops, tablets, cell phones and hot spots just to keep up. And it takes electricity to keep those devices going. But if you’re like most, you are probably over-charging those devices. Over-charging not only can wear out the device itself more quickly, but it’s an unnecessary draw on your electricity. Check your devices frequently and when fully charged, unplug them. Additionally, when your computer is not being used, be sure that it is put into sleep or hibernation mode. This will greatly decrease its energy consumption. And finally, do like your mother always told you and turn those lights off when you’re not in the room!
Hot Water – We all love a nice hot shower or bath, don’t we? Well that hot water comes at a price. And the older your hot water heater is, the higher that price is likely to be. If your hot water heater is more than 10 years old, it’s a good idea to have it checked by a professional. Hot water heaters generally last less than 15 years, so the 10 year mark is a good time to have it looked at. When you’re ready for a new hot water heater, look for those with higher efficiency ratings. And as common sense will tell you, when you are trying to conserve energy, make that daily shower just a little less hot, and a little shorter. Even a small reduction in time and temperature will make a difference. For hot water and plumbing needs in Maryland, consider our friends at AVS Plumbing & Heating in West Friendship. Visit their Maryland plumbing and heating page for more information.
So while we can’t solve the issue of arctic weather, we hope these tips on how to increase your home’s efficiency will help just a little. As always, if you have any questions regarding exterior home improvements, contact the home experts at S&K Roofing, Siding and Windows. Family owned and operated since 1980, S&K is here to help now, and for the long haul.
Windows MD – Energy efficient replacement windows are a great way to cut down your monthly utility bills while also giving your home a fresh new look. Like most areas of home improvement technology, replacement windows are constantly changing. Replacing your windows is a substantial investment that shouldn’t be made without doing your homework. Become an educated consumer to know which type and style of window best suits your Maryland home. Technological advances in windows over the past decade show that vinyl is the best material choice for energy efficient, durable, low maintenance windows. Vinyl replacement windows provide energy savings because of their moderate to high R-values, which mean they are resistant to heat flow. The higher the R-value, the greater the resistance and the greater the energy efficiency; which equates to more energy savings for you. This applies to both heating and cooling costs. High quality vinyl windows should never need to be replaced again and offer many characteristics their older counterparts cannot. With continuously rising energy costs, high-performance products will keep your heating and cooling bills lower and provide a greater level of comfort for your home.
When comparing your replacement window options it is important to note that not all vinyl windows are the same. Many replacement window contractors use vinyl windows that may cost you less up front but over the long haul could wind up costing you much, much more. Lower quality vinyl windows can sag, or even soften over time thus losing their shape. Higher quality vinyl sashes are engineered to withstand the heat that causes these deformations. S&K Roofing, Siding and Windows only uses the highest quality vinyl replacement windows from manufacturers such as Viwinco, BF Rich, Pella, Andersen and Velux and encourages homeowners to research what makes these windows special. Factors such as quality of the material, number of chambers (the higher the number of chambers, the higher the quality) and how the windows are assembled are very important. A great tip for determining the quality of a vinyl window is to look for blue tinting. Frequently, manufacturers of lower quality windows will tint the vinyl blue to buy time before the product fades.
There are many types of replacement windows. Let’s first take a look at single hung and doublehung windows. A single hung window has a fixed top sash with a bottom sash that can be opened. Many single hung windows have a bottom sash that tilts in for easy cleaning. A double hung window has a top sash that can be lowered and a bottom sash that can be raised. Many double hung windows offer the added benefit of both windows tilting in. Single and double hung windows are the most common windows found in homes today.
Other types of replacement windows offered by S&K are;
Awning Windows: These windows are used to provide extra light and are usually installed on top of larger windows or patio doors. Awning windows are hinged at the top and open out from the bottom.
Sliding Windows: Sliding windows have one fixed window sash, and another that slides open from side to side.
Bay and Bow Windows: Bay windows consist of three windows joined together, while bow windows consist of four or more windows joined together to form a curve for maximum view from the inside and curb appeal from the outside.
Garden Windows: Primarily used in one’s kitchen area, garden windows are ideal for growing herbs, showcasing small flowers and starting plants for late spring planting.
Skylights: Skylights are built in roof windows providing a unique lighting function.
Casement Windows: Casement windows are windows that are hinged at the side, and open outward from either side. Casement windows are ideal for sunrooms and additions, as they offer views unobstructed by sashes and grids.
Specialty Shapes: These windows often use curves and rectangles to accent architecture.
Specialty Windows: Specialty windows offer unique combinations of shapes, styles and features, include those that open for ventilation.
Comparing options when it comes to replacing your windows can be a challenging task. After all, there many manufacturers and products that claim to be the “best”. By becoming educated on the subject your choice will become exponentially easier. Choosing the perfect window can easily be ruined by choosing the wrong installation “expert”. Be sure these two choices go hand in hand and choose an installer that is licensed, insured and can provide you with not only written testimonials but also customer references. Be sure to compare not only prices, but quality and features such as R Value and U Value (the amount of heat that escapes through the window). Also consider windows that are Energy Star® rated. These windows not only cut energy costs but help the environment as well. Another important consideration is choosing a window that is classified as a Low E window. Low E or low emissivity is the action of reflecting light passing through glass. A low emissivity window will filter out more than 50% of damaging UV light. Becoming an educated consumer can be difficult and time consuming, but your extra effort will undoubtedly pay off.
S&K Roofing, Siding and Windows have been installing high quality replacement windows for more than 30 years. Whether you are looking to give your home a more beautiful appearance or simply trying to cut down on pesky energy costs, replacing your old, out dated windows is a great place to start. S&K offers a great Window Buying Guide at www.SKRoofing.com. This comprehensive guide will show you everything you need to know when choosing to replace your windows. From choosing the perfect contractor to making the most educated window choice the S&K Window Buying Guide will walk you step by step through the entire process. So, when you’re deciding what to do with your tax refund or simply trying to find a way to curb energy costs, remember to check your windows this spring and contact S&K Roofing, Siding and Windows to schedule a no-hassle no-obligation replacement window estimate.