Now that it’s actually starting to feel like winter, building owners are starting to pay closer attention to their energy consumption, particularly when it comes to heat. Business owners are scrambling to ensure that their buildings are heated efficiently and comfortably throughout the winter months, both for the sake of their employees and their budgets.
Older buildings (and newer ones without sufficient insulation) are often inundated with unpleasant drafts of cold that sneak in through windows and doors that haven’t been properly sealed. Those gaps and cracks around windows and doors can cause more than just a chill in the air.
They can also result in unnecessary spending each month. In fact, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Energy Star program, it is estimated that “by adding insulation and sealing air leaks, you could save up to 20% on your monthly energy bills.”
An Effective, Long-Term Solution
As a building owner, it’s always nice to save a few dollars here and there; however, it’s also important to invest in solutions for the long-term. While there are many solutions available that are cheap and relatively effective in the short term, spray foam insulation is definitely an option worth considering.
Unfortunately, this product is often misunderstood by consumers and is widely considered to be a controversial product. However, much of what consumers think about spray foam insulation is inaccurate. Alternatively, many experts in building insulation (including Ouellet Construction) agree that spray foam insulation is one of the most efficient solutions out there.
What is Spray Foam?
Spray foam is made of materials similar to those that exist in common office furniture upholstery foam, such as chair and couch cushions. There are two main types of spray foam insulation – open-cell and closed-cell. Open-cell spray foam tends to be the less expensive option, and also offers sound dampening qualities, while closed-cell spray foam is a bit more expensive, but also offers water and vapor barriers and resistance.
If you’re trying to decide on the best way to winterize your building this year, either type of spray foam insulation offers a variety of benefits, some of which include:
1. Minimizing Energy Waste
Spray foam’s ability to expand makes it a highly efficient solution for building insulation. It provides an airtight seal for smaller cracks and gaps that often develop over time between windows and doors and their frames, as well as in attics, basements and crawl spaces. With less energy able to escape through these spaces the result is less energy being used and/or wasted to heat your space.
2. Reducing Air Filtration
Air infiltration (unintended/accidental introduction of outside air into indoor space) is one of the biggest causes of wasted energy. In fact, according to the Spray Foam Coalition, “Up to 40% of a building’s energy is lost because of air infiltration.” Spray foam insulation is also known to greatly reduce air infiltration, as it is significantly less permeable than other types of insulation.
3. Environmentally Friendly
Yes, really. If you’re interested in being kind to the environment, spray foam insulation is a great choice. Its ability to minimize energy consumption and more importantly – energy waste – makes it popular with builders looking to create a greener environment. It also is made to last forever, which means it will require less material use and consumption than a product which is made to last for a shorter period of time.
4. Safe In Its Cured Form
When spray foam is wet – during application and the initial curing process – it can cause irritation to the skin, eyes, and lungs when it is inhaled or absorbed through the skin. Therefore, installers and builders should take caution when handling the product. However, once the foam has completely “cured”, there is no danger to building occupants.
5. Reduce the Risk of Mold
A musty smell is often an indication of the presence of mold in your building. However, it’s not always easy to spot, and can be hazardous when inhaled. It is typically caused by water damage or other moisture problems. While insulation’s primary purpose is to keep warm air inside a building, it also acts as a barrier to outside moisture. Spray foam insulation’s ability to keep spaces air-tight helps keep moisture out of your building, thereby deterring the growth or expansion of mold.
6. Consistent Temperature
This one is pretty obvious, but important to note nonetheless. By keeping warm air in by sealing gaps and cracks that would otherwise let in cold, outside air, your thermostat can better gauge and regulate the temperature. When a space has a lot of outside air pouring in, your thermostat can get out of whack, and use unnecessary energy to maintain a steady temperature.
7. Cost Effectiveness
While the initial cost of spray foam insulation is often more expensive than other types, its long-term results are well worth the investment. Its ability to efficiently insulation and provide a barrier to moisture can prevent the need for costly repairs and exceptionally high energy costs. The savings in energy costs over time will make up for the initial cost of the product.