Goodbye Mr. Pink and Hello to Mr. Foam
It seems like everywhere you look there is a push for all things "Green". If you go to the big box store there are green items in every isle. People with 6000 sq ft houses talk about being green. I guess we are actually doing something popular without knowing it. Much of the materials, almost all the wood in the original timber frame structure came from within several hundred feet of the house footprint. Trees came down, they were milled onsite, dried in the solar kiln and then put into service in the house (flooring, trim, cabinets, timbers, decking, ceiling etc.). When it came to insulating the frame we went with the old cost effective standard which is fiberglass insulation … not very green. In addition to making you itch like crazy when installed, the manufacturing of the insulation takes a lot of energy to melt and spin the glass into fibers and then it is backed with a tar coated paper and coated with formaldehyde.
We decided to look into alternatives. Being that it was July in North Carolina and having one of our two small AC units not working, we were okay with spending a little more money to dramatically increase our heating and cooling efficiency. I called our friend Jack who turned a drafty 1920 barn into a house since he was on top of the different types of insulation from denim bats to SIPs panels, to blown in cellulose to spray foam. He used soy based spray foam and has had electricity bills this summer that were around $39/month while using central air. He did comment that he had his bill spike a few months ago in the high $50’s. Sounds like a bad problem.
I called Tu Nguyen at Healthy Home Insulation to see what it would cost to insulate our house. Jack used Healthy Home Insulation to insulate his barn and had nothing but good things to say about working with Tu and his product called Icynene. The great thing about Icynen spray foam is that it is CFC free and uses water at the propellant. We had a traditional contractor bid on fiberglass insulation and Icynene was only $1,500 more and the entire envelope of the house would be sealed. This includes the walk up attic (look for the future posting about the real “Bonus Room”) so it was a no brainer.
Tu and his crew showed up last Monday morning and they were finished a day later. This included covering all the windows, spraying the foam, trimming it down, sealing around the windows and cleaning and bagging the trimmed foam. I was able to get a video of DJ spraying the first foam. It was amazing how the temperature of the house started to drop as he worked his way through the house. On Wednesday we had the insulation inspection and our inspector thought it all looked great. The only problem he had was that he thought we might be too insulated and we might need to provide some ventilation with the outside. As Jack said Tu and his team were the most professional group he had out at his job site and that they were quick thorough in their work. Jack was right.
When I closed up the windows in the addition tonight after the drywall finishers left, the temperature was cooler in the addition than in the current timber frame, even though we have one of our AC units running non-stop. Jack might be right about the $39 electric bills during the summer in North Carolina. Viva la green revolution!