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What is R-Value?
R-value measures the resistance to heat flow through a material. Metal and concrete transfer heat easily, hence their R-value is very low. Foams and other fibrous insulation materials create dead air pockets, and thus have a higher R-value. R-value is measured in a laboratory, however, and does not simulate real-world conditions. Without proper attic air sealing,  your “Effective R-Value” can be reduced by as much as 50%.  So the R-30 installed in your attic when the house was new may be only a R-15 today.
Why is air sealing so important to a good insulation job?
Did you know without a properly air sealed attic your insulation is only working at 50% of its rated R-Value? Sealing the gaps and holes in your attic makes your existing insulation perform better. When air moves through a building (stack effect) it carries energy with it.  That energy will have to be replaced with energy from inside the house. Air movement, or convection, is worth up to 40% of total energy losses in a given building. It is easy to see why it is important to defeat this type of energy loss.
Why should I consider air sealing my attic?

Close the door!  You’re letting all the air out!  Remember hearing that as a kid or saying it to your own? No matter how well your home is constructed, your home has gaps, cracks, joints and seams where air can squeeze through causing unwanted drafts.  When you add them all up, it is like leaving a door or window open year round!  Your home is losing energy and it is costing you money and comfort.  These drafts or air infiltration can account for 30% or more of a home’s heating and cooling costs and can contribute to problems with moisture, noise, dust and the entry of pollutants and insects. Be leery of contractors offering free air sealing or partial air sealing. You get what you pay for! It’s not easy to properly seal an attic so do it right one time. Reducing these drafts will significantly increase comfort, reduce your annual heating and cooling costs, improve building durability, and create a healthier indoor environment. It most cases, Air Sealing should be done before you add insulation in your attic.

What are the advantages of spray foam insulation?
Spray foam insulation is fantastic because it air seals and insulates your home at the same time. Keeping the air you paid to heat or cool in your home as long as possible. As it expands, it seals all the gaps and cracks, significantly reducing air infiltration and energy loss. Polyurethane spray foam insulation adheres to most surfaces making it a versatile and effective product to install in an existing home. For most homes in Atlanta, typically open cell spray foam is installed in an attic and closed cell spray foam is installed in areas with high moisture such as a crawl space or basement.
Is spray foam insulation safe?
Polyurethane spray foam insulation, properly applied by trained professionals, is safe and effective. It’s more important to find a qualified installer than to pick the foam. Unfortunately anyone can own and operate a spray foam system in Georgia. Similar to a freshly painted home, the foam cures quickly and odors usually dissipate within 24 hours. We ALWAYS ask our clients to vacate the house (including pets) while it cures. After that period, the foam is safe and will provide you with years of comfort and savings.
How much does spray foam insulation cost?
In the Atlanta market, the actual cost for spray foam insulation is typically a little bit more than two times the cost of a good fiberglass insulation install with the same R-Value. The issue however; is there are usually more requirements associated with a safe and proper spray foam install. For example, if your HVAC system is located in the attic you may be required to install a fire retardant to the spray foam (this is called an ignition barrier). If you plan to use the attic for storage, the requirement changes again and now you’ll be required to install a proper thermal barrier. What are you going to do about the old insulation in your attic? You may need to remove it in order for your home to perform properly or maybe it’s contaminated from uninvited four legged critters. When you begin to add up these cost for the spray foam, insulation removal and required fire retardants, your spray foam install may be four and half times the cost of fibrous insulation. The good news is even with the additional cost, the investment for spray foam may be worth it in utility savings but more importantly comfort. If you would like to discuss the pros and cons of spray foam or interested in learning about our hybrid spray foam system, give us a call!
What's wrong with fiberglass or cellulose insulation?
Nothing – as long as it is properly installed and the drafts are sealed correctly! Fibrous insulation does not stop air leaks and can lose effectiveness unless thorough air-sealing is also performed. Cellulose or fiberglass can be part of a cost-effective strategy for good insulation performance.
How does home diagnostic testing improve the insulation job?
Testing the building for drafts and air leaks before adding insulation helps to identify problem areas that are accessible before they get buried in insulation.  This process improves your home efficiency and comfort. Using a blower-door, a manometer and a thermal camera, we exaggerate the effects of pressure on the house, which quickly identifies the leakage points. Simply stated, you can’t get a better insulation job than one that is done with the assistance of the latest diagnostic tools.
What is the best way to effectively insulate existing buildings?
There are many several products and methods that work well under different circumstances and in many cases the best results come from a combination of methods. There are also products and methods that should NOT be installed under any circumstances for particular applications. A great insulation package should be designed for the individual building.
Is a tight house good for air quality?
We use a blower door test and calculation on your home to determine how tight is too tight. We prefer to go as tight as possible and have our clients install a mechanical ventilation system for best results. If the house is not mechanically vented, however, we will tighten it just enough to keep the air from becoming unhealthy.
Is a good insulation job more expensive?
You really get what you pay for when it comes to home performance. The upfront cost are usually higher but it will pay for itself and increase comfort for years to come. By hiring the best company with the most knowledgable technicians who understand building science and care about performance, you can greatly reduce your costs of homeownership. It is one of the few home improvements that will pay you back with interest over time.
How much money can I save with air sealing and insulation?
No one really knows the answer to this.  There are many factors such as the age of your house, how many people live in the home, level of current insulation, and what you set your thermostat to.  Typically, we find the average savings is somewhere between 20% to 30% with a 4 to 6 year payback.  However; just about everyone appreciates how it immediately improves their homes comfort and indoor air quality (IAQ)!
Why can't my air conditioner keep my upstairs cool and comfortable?
Here in “Hotlanta” the most efficient air conditioner can’t keep up with the upstairs heat. Adding additional insulation may help a little. Due to ‘Stack’ effect, the taller the house, the greater the air pressure. That is why it so important to air seal your attic before adding additional insulation.
Should I replace my windows to save energy?
It may make sense to replace your old windows for a low maintenance, updated, easy to clean product.  However, replacing them for energy efficiency is not one of them.  In most cases even the best replacement windows will not provide an affordable energy savings (ROI ~50 years).  Typically a drafty window is one of the symptoms your house is excessively leaky and air leaks cost you money and reduce your comfort.  It’s a good idea to make the windows tighter but there are bigger and more important holes to seal in your attic, basement or crawl space first.  Using the proper diagnostic tools, Arbor Insulation Solutions can identify areas of infiltration to help you make the right decision.
Do I need a Radiant Barrier?

We get a lot of calls and emails from homeowners who are approached by companies marketing a radiant barrier or foil insulation as a solution to high energy bills. Most of these companies are not ‘real’ insulation or home performance companies but sophisticated telemarketers.  We know, because they call us to install the products for them.  It’s a very slick sales presentation but do your homework.  They use high pressure sales techniques to get you to sign today.  A radiant barrier most likely will never achieve the utility savings these companies promise.  9 out of 10 times, the priority should be to air seal your attic, ducts and install additional insulation and then if still want to spend money, consider a  radiant barrier. There are certain applications where a radiant barrier can be a useful if installed correctly.  A properly installed radiant barrier in your attic works with the air sealing and insulation to create a system that resists all three forms of heat transfer (conduction, convection and radiant).  Give us a call, we are always happy to come out to discuss your particular comfort concerns.

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