Spray Foam Insulation

How is the WaterSense Label on Showerheads Useful?

WaterSense Labeled Showerheads
WaterSense Labeled Showerheads

WaterSense, a program by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, uses its labels and certifications to protect the future of our nation’s water supply by offering people a simple way to use less water with water-efficient products, new homes, and services. The goal of the program is to help consumers make smarter choices with the water they use that save money and maintain high environmental standards. WaterSense labeled products and/or services are certified to be at least 20 percent more efficient without sacrificing performance. These products have the potential to help our country save billions of gallons of water annually.

When it comes to showerheads, water efficiency usually has to do with features such as low-flow and restricted-flow. Showering accounts for approximately 17% of residential indoor water use, proving to be one of the leading ways we use water in the home. For the average family, that becomes nearly 40 gallons per day of water usage which is close to 1.2 trillion gallons of water used annually in the United States just for showering.

Standard showerheads use 2.5 gallons of water per minute (gpm). WaterSense labeled showerheads use no more than 2.0 gpm and ensures that these products still provide a satisfactory shower that is equal to or better than conventional showerheads on the market. The savings that come with simply switching to WaterSense labeled showerheads are absolutely worthwhile. An average family could save 2,900 gallons per year by installing WaterSense labeled showerheads. Because these savings simultaneously reduce demands on water heaters, they also save energy. An average family could save more than 370 kilowatt hours of electricity annually by using WaterSense products. To further put this into scale, if every home in the United States installed WaterSense labeled showerheads, we could save more than $2.2 billion in water utility bills and more than 260 billion gallons of water annually. Furthermore, we could avoid about $2.6 billion in energy costs for heating water.

Whether you are replacing an older, inefficient showerhead or looking for ways to reduce water use and utility bills in your home, look for WaterSense labeled showerheads along with faucets, faucet accessories, and toilets to help you identify models that save water and perform well.

Spray Foam Insulation

Going Green Can Mean Big Savings for Schools

It’s that time of year again; children head off to school while administrators and the PTA crunch the numbers to make sure there is enough funding for everything that they would like to provide throughout the year.

Did you know that schools spend more on energy than any other expense except personnel? Energy is one of the few expenses a school can reduce without sacrificing educational quality.

Here are some suggestions for ways in which schools can save energy and money throughout the school year.

While it would be nice if students turned off the lights when they left the classroom, that is not often the case. Motion sensors turn lights on or off automatically, so energy is not being wasted when they go to lunch or out to recess.

Another energy saving device is a Smart Power Strip. If a teacher has a number of items plugged in, such as a computer, printer, and desk light, this strip can sense when the devices are in use or idle and turn them off automatically. These smart power strips can save up to 72% of the energy the systems use, and provide surge protection.

In addition to overhead lights, many areas of a school also use desk lamps. Schools may have hesitated switching to CFL bulbs for fear that they would leak mercury if they broke. LED bulbs use less power and last longer than CFLs or conventional bulbs and they do not contain mercury or other toxic heavy metals.

Another large expense is water. Installing aerators on kitchen, bathroom, and classroom sinks is an inexpensive way to causes a significant decline in water usage, which will result in cost savings for the school.

Schools around the country that are demonstrating ways to conserve energy and water not only save on the bottom line, they are also setting a positive example for their community.

Spray Foam Insulation

Trend: LED Vintage Edison Light Bulbs

LED Vintage Edison Light Bulb
LED Vintage Edison Light Bulb

The old-school Edison style light bulbs of the 20th century were evolutionary yet far from the different variations of light bulbs that have been developed today. The first models of light bulbs developed by Thomas Edison used carbon filaments and wasted a ton of energy and subsequently, a ton of money as well. Although it is rare that any of these initially developed models are used today, the perception of what some of the first light bulbs looked like has not been forgotten and has recently become the perfect way to give any space an antique finish.

Now, with new LED models of these old-school Edison bulbs, anyone can achieve a vintage look in their home or establishment while simultaneously saving energy. For example, an Edison style model from Bulbrite only uses 4 Watts of energy, which compares to a 40 Watt incandescent and has an average long life of 15,000 hours.

Homeowners everywhere are loving this trend and have found a number of different ways to display and use these light bulbs to an extra touch to their interior/exterior design. There are several different models of the Edison style bulbs, such as A19, Globe, Chandelier, and Torpedo, making them suitable for a variety of locations including outdoor lanterns, ceiling fixtures, pendants, and more. Vintage Edison light bulbs offer all-in-one satisfaction by combining style, energy conservation, and convenience.

Spray Foam Insulation

What is Title 24 Compliance?

View our Title 24 LED Troffers/Panels
What is Title 24?

Title 24 is a collection of energy standards that address the energy efficiency of new (and altered) homes and commercial buildings. Since 1978, California residents are required to meet the energy efficiency standards contained in Title 24, Part 6 of the California Code of Regulations. Because energy efficiency reduces energy costs, increases reliability and availability of electricity, improves building occupant comfort, and reduces impacts to the environment, this has made a big impact on the how lighting and other home fixtures are used in California.

As these standards are important and necessary for California’s energy future, the goal of the California Title 24 energy standards is the reduction of energy use to benefit all. Homeowners save money, California has a more secure/healthy economy, the environment is less negatively impacted, and electrical systems are more stable.

California’s building efficiency standards have saved more than $70 billion in electricity and natural gas costs since 1978.

How does it affect lighting?

All homes and commercial buildings must achieving Title 24 compliance in California. Any new homes, or the remodeled part of new homes that require building permits, are also subject to these standards.

Within these standards includes guidelines for lighting. According to Title 24, at least 50% of the wattage in the kitchen must be consumed by high-efficacy lighting, which usually includes LEDs and fluorescents. To qualify as high-efficacy, light fixtures must be certified by the manufacturer to the California Energy Commission and can’t contain a socket that allows low-efficacy lighting, such as an incandescent. LED fixtures must offer a minimum of 90 on the color-rendering index (CRI), which measures crispness and color accuracy. Also, the color temperature must range between 2700-4000k for indoor use.

High-efficacy lighting is also defined as:

  • 15 watts or less: Minimum of 40 lumens/watt
  • 15 to 40 watts: Minimum of 50 lumens/watt
  • More than 40 watts: Minimum of 60 lumens/watt

As exhibited, it is very important for Californians to follow these standards when proving lighting for their homes and buildings. Moreover, light fixtures with Title 24 compliance are ideal for any home in order to assure energy efficiency. You can find more information about the current Title 24 standards here.

Spray Foam Insulation

Internal Driver vs. Instant Start for LED T8 Tube

LED T8 Tubes
LED T8 Tubes

LED T8 tubes, which used to be exclusive to fluorescent technology, are the new standard for commercial and household lighting. These tubes are ideal for replacement, emitting the same amounts of light as fluorescent T8s yet using a fraction of the power and lasting up to three times longer. LED T8 tubes are also mercury-free, dimmable, more efficient, and have high-quality directional light. When replacing your fluorescent tubes with LEDs for your home or workspace, it is important to be aware of these two types of technologies:

Internal Driver
T8 lamps with internal drivers are 1 of 2 ideal energy saving choices when upgrading traditional linear T8 or T12 fluorescent lamps in fixtures. With internal drivers, the ballasts are removed from the fixture and the power is wired direct to the sockets. Since no power is wasted on the ballast, these type of tubes tend to be more efficient. Consumers also experience less long term maintenance costs since you have one less part to maintain in the future by eliminating the ballast. These LED T8 tubes are designed to provide appropriate light levels while utilizing a dedicated internal driver. However, some cons associated with internal drivers include: required electrical modifications, limited dimming, dangerous installation and higher installation costs.

Instant Start
T8 lamps that are instant start compatible require no rewiring of the fixture. Since this step is not necessary, instant start tubes offer a simple way to replace the fluorescent lamp with your new LED lamp. Instant start ballasts ignite lamps by applying a significant voltage across the lamp during starting. However, no cathode heating is applied before or after the lamp ignited. The high voltage applied across the lamps typically ignites them within 50 milliseconds. Emissive material is also released during this since the cathodes are not heated with instant start ballasts. It is the most energy efficient type, but yields the fewest lamp-start cycles, as material is blasted from the surface of the cold electrodes each time the lamp is turned on. Instant-start ballasts are best suited to applications with long duty cycles, where the lamps are not frequently turned on and off.

Spray Foam Insulation

How Water Heater Timers Save Money

Water heater timers
Water heater timers

Turning on the hot water is not the same as heating it up. Seems a little trippy, right? Even if the hot water is not in use, your water heater is doing its best to keep that water hot for you – a process that uses up energy and adds unnecessarily to your heating bill. One simple solution for this problem is to install water heater timers. These devices allow you to control when the heater operates and help erase a bit of the bloat on your energy bill (translation: they will save you money).

Cost of Heating Water

Unlike heating for the home, which is only needed during cold months, water heaters run all year. Rain or shine, snow or sun, we all take hot showers year-round. In the average home, this amounts to about 18% of energy usage devoted to heating water – the second largest energy use in the home. The percentage can get higher/lower based on factors such as:

  • Whether or not your state has peak electric pricing hours
  • Number of hot water users in the home
  • Showers or baths
  • How long a shower lasts, etc.

Heaters work daily to keep water at a high temperature and ready for use whether someone needs hot water or not. Putting this in terms of money, if your heater is a 5500 watts tank, heating costs around $50-60 or more a month.

How Timers Work

Water heater timers are programmable devices that control when a water heater is turned off and on. With this device, your water heater will provide hot water only when its scheduled to do so instead of maintaining hot water throughout the day.

To get the best use out of water heaters and timers, employ one or more of these tips:

  • Program the timer to only heat water during peak off-times
  • Use less hot water during peak hours
  • Insulate water heater (make sure to follow instructions for your type of heater: gas or electric)
  • Flush heater every 6 months to prevent buildup of mineral deposits (dirt that sinks to the bottom of the tank, like sand and stones)

Water heater timers are easy to install, will operate with any existing heating system, and provide better control over your hot water energy usage and heating expenses.

Spray Foam Insulation

4 Ways to Make Your Home Energy Efficient

Energy Efficient
Image courtesy of Ponsulak / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Jumping on the conservation bandwagon used to be seen as a fad, now people are realizing that energy efficiency has always been a necessity. Lighting, air leaks, and even your showerhead can be silently sapping energy while loudly making its presence known on your energy bill. To begin making, seeing, and feeling changes in your home’s energy usage, consider these 4 ways to make your home energy efficient.

Get rid of incandescent lighting

Incandescent lights bulbs, which have outlived their status as the standard bulb for lighting, are among the biggest energy leeches in the home. Among their many poor features, incandescent lights:

  • Only reflect 10% light — that other 90% is all heat
  • Have a short lifespan, lasting approximately 800 hours
  • Power your home using 60-75 watts of power

Energy resourceful lightbulbs, like CFLs (compact florescent lamps) and LEDs (light-emitting diode) by comparison:

  • Reflect 100% light
  • Have a much longer lifespan from 10,000 hours (for CFLs) to 50,000 hours (for LEDs)
  • Need only 13 watts of power

This one change, switching out incandescent lightbulbs with environmentally friendly models, will reduce the energy wasted on lighting your home by up to 80%.

Seal electrical outlets

Air leaks are deceptively raising your energy bill. They are sometimes hard to locate, and at times air leaks come from sources that you may not expect — electrical outlets, for one, are a source that can be easily overlooked.

Outlets that are not in use (and even the hole under electrical outlet covers) can easily be sealed using items such as child-proofing caps and foam outlet gaskets.

Heating and cooling account for 43% of the energy used in a home (with the percentage going up or down based on factors like climate, etc.). A home that is properly insulated can shave off 20% or more from your energy bill.

Weatherstrip doors and windows

If the sun shines through your closed doors, you have an insulation problem. Doors and windows with cracks/gaps allow air, dust, and even bugs to infiltrate your home. To add insult to injury, these openings contribute to the rise in your energy bill. They cause the home to experience inconsistent temperatures, and as a result you go back and forth between lowering and raising the thermostat — while it raises your energy bill. To be more specific: poorly insulated doors account for 11% of the energy lost in your home, while poorly insulate windows account for 10-25%!

Weatherstripping doors and windows is an energy efficient, cost-effective, DIY solution to sealing. There are different types of material used for weatherstripping, mainly dependent on where the stripping will be used, like sliding window, door bottom, etc. The varieties include:

Install low-flow showerheads

Low-flow showerheads are easily one of the most energy conserving products that your home will benefit from immediately. Low-flow showerheads offer the same or better quality of shower while saving energy and money.

Modern showerheads can use 2.5 gallons of water per minute, (GPM) while earth showerheads only use 1.5 GPM.

Low-flow showerheads use less water and therefore less heat. Installing earth showerheads allow for as much as 30% in water savings along with lowering energy costs.

By sealing air leaks and making the switch to more energy efficient lighting and showerheads, you’ll quickly gain comfort in your home and bank account.


Spray Foam Insulation

Saving Made Simple with A Programmable Timer

Programmable Timer
Programmable Timers

There is almost no better feeling than to be in total control of the way your money is spent, agreed? It is very much possible to get this feeling each time the energy bill arrives. I know this sounds crazy. After all, who likes to look at bills? However, installing a programmable timer in your home will give you control over the appliance it is connected to, which will decrease energy consumption, which in turn makes paying energy bills a task that is completed with much less frowning.

Getting the Most Out of an Appliance
Heating and cooling requires the most residential energy, and accounts for more than half of utility costs in the typical household, as much as $680 annually. While weatherproofing the home is a great way to reduce both consumption and costs, it can be costly depending on the scale of the insulation project. An appliance timer is a quick and cost-effective solution to this costly problem.

An appliance timer is plugged into a standard 120 volt, 3-prong wall receptacle. This timer allows up to 2 on/off settings per day. The green and red trippers on the timer indicate when the appliance will be turned on (green), and when it should be off (red). The timer is intended for use over the following appliances:

  • Heaters
  • Air conditioning systems
  • Heavy duty appliances
  • Heavy duty lamps

Saving on Water Heating
The water heater is a great appliance. It supplies heated water to every corner of the home that needs it. What isn’t so wondrous about it is that it runs all day, whether or not you need it to, maintaining the water temperatures. This is how water heating is easily follows heating and cooling as the next largest utility cost in the average home.

A water heater timer allows you to program the water heater on your schedule. It is for use with water heaters that run on 240 volts. The timer provides a maximum of 42 off/on settings per week, or 6 off/on daily operation settings. Installation is simple, and this type of programmable timer is able to work with your current system. To get the most out of this timer, it is best used:

  • When the home is empty
  • During peak hours
  • At night when everyone is asleep.

Taking Complete Control of Lighting
Do you know how many lights there are inside your home? Now think about how often the lights are left on (including over night for security reasons in some cases). With the average home containing approximately 30 light fixtures, lighting is the next highest consumer of energy, and the next place you want to install a programmable timer.

The easiest way to regain control over the way lights are used in your home is to install an occupancy sensor. Not to be confused with a motion sensor, which controls lights solely based on movement in a room, an occupancy sensor detects body heat, turning lights on and off based on the vacancy of a room. The great thing about this type of timer is its ability to operate with LED, compact fluorescent, and incandescent lighting, eliminating the need to get rid of the lights you currently have. It has the ability to cover 20 feet to the side and 40 feet ahead, and provides many options for saving:

  • Lights can be turned off between 30 seconds to 30 minutes after the last person has left a room.
  • “Manual-on” with automatic turn off
  • Ambient light sensor adjusts for light sensitivity

By reducing the power load from one or all of these sources, you will immediately begin to save energy and money without making a major change to your home. Bottom line: installing a programmable timer will help make your life a little easier and your wallet a little heavier.

Spray Foam Insulation

A Bathroom Fan Timer Helps Ventilate and Save

Bathroom Fan Timer
Bathroom Fan Timer

The easiest way to save energy (and ultimately money) throughout the home is to regain control of the way the energy is being used. When you ventilate the bathroom, how often do you take into consideration the amount of time that should be spent ventilating, or how much energy is being wasted by over-ventilating? If you’re like most people, these two issues have probably never really crossed your mind. Using a bath fan timer allows you to attack both of these problems head on without giving it another thought.

Ventilation Timing
Experts suggest operating the bathroom fan for no less than 15, and no more than 20 minutes following a shower or bath. In this amount of time, the fan exhausts the moisture out of the room. Having the fan run for more time than this does allow the room to be ventilated, but it also wastes energy, leading to higher energy costs. Operating the exhaust fan for less time than this leads to condensation problems such as molding and rotting. These can inflame respiratory-related health issues including asthma.

Timer Settings and Operation
An exhaust fan timer replaces both the light and fan switches in the bathroom. It has two main settings (ventilation and delay), and the ability to cancel the delay. It uses a microprocessor to watch and control the amount of time the fan is in operation to provide a specific amount of ventilation to the room.

  • Ventilation Setting – The ventilation setting is the amount of minutes each hour that you would like the fan to be in operation.
  • Delay Setting – The delay setting is the amount of time you would like to operate the fan after the light has been turned off (this allows the fan to finish the ventilation cycle after the bathroom is no longer occupied).
  • Cancel Delay – If you don’t want the fan to run after the light has been turned off, simply turn the light back on again within a few seconds. This will tell the timer not to operate the fan after the light has been turned back off.

Once set, the microprocessor recognizes each of the settings and ventilates the bathroom accordingly by subtracting the delay time from the hourly ventilation time. For example, a person enters the bathroom for 5 minutes, with the hourly ventilation set to 20 minutes, and delay for 10 minutes. When unoccupied, the fan will run for the additional 10-minutes delay time, totaling 15 minutes of operation for that hour. The microprocessor will detect this and run the fan for an additional 5 minutes that hour.

If the total time the fan has been run exceeds the 20 minutes that were initially set, the bathroom fan timer will subtract that amount from the 20, and that is how long it will operate in the next hour.

Limiting the amount of energy that is used (in many cases wasted) through bathroom ventilation provides you with more control over both the indoor air quality of the home as well as the amount of energy being consumed. Whenever there is less energy being used in the home, less money spent on energy bills is sure to follow.




Spray Foam Insulation

Saving the Easy Way: Acting Green v. Buying Green

Every day in the United States, thousands of gallons of water are wasted through inefficient use. Likewise, thousands of pounds of carbon dioxide emissions result from wasted energy. In both circumstances, this waste leads to a higher national average of utility costs. There are a number of ways to decrease water and energy use (and bills) at the same time. Acting green can get you started on the right track, with a few comforts being sacrificed. Buying green can help you cross the finish line without even realizing you are being more efficient. The infographic below by eLocal helps illustrate a few differences between “acting green” and “buying green.”

Acting Green vs. Buying Green
Source: eLocal.com