Extreme Texas Heat Highlights Insulation Differences
Extreme Texas Weather Doesn’t Have to Equate to Extreme Energy Bills
Last Friday, 26 million Texans were asked to turn up their thermostats by the The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT). The appeal came after 6 power generation facilities were knocked offline. This is the latest extreme weather event for Texas, coming in the middle of a worsening drought, and with the memory of sub-freezing temps that caused a similar outage in 2021 still fresh. While these weather events can be dangerous, the majority of Texans feel the pain in their wallets. Extreme temperatures force us to spend more to keep our homes in the “comfort zone”. The type of insulation in your home can have a huge effect on the amount you spend to stay comfortable.
To illustrate this better, let’s use two examples of homes with different insulation levels. Home A has traditional fiberglass or blown cellulose insulation, and Home B has spray foam insulation.
In Home A, the insulation is most likely on the floor of the attic, with no insulation in the rafters or “roof deck”. As the temperature in the attic rises with the outside air (sometimes to 140 degrees or higher!), the HVAC equipment, which is also usually in the attic, struggles to cool the air before it is distributed to the rest of the house. In many cases, the HVAC in Home A will run continuously to try to maintain or achieve your desired “comfort zone” temperature.
Because fiberglass and cellulose are “loose” forms of insulation, they do not seal air leaks. Think of wearing a knit sweater in the winter. You’ll get some comfort, but when the air around you moves, it will pass through the sweater to your body. The same is true of traditional fiberglass insulation. In Home A, the conditioned air in your living space is leaking back into the hot attic, and also leaking back outside. Your hard earned cash is literally leaking out of your attic.
The cost of maintaining a comfortable living space in Home A fluctuates wildly with the changing weather.
In Home B, spray foam insulation has been installed in the roof deck. As it is being installed, spray foam expands to fill cracks and voids, creating an air seal that blocks air flow in and out of the attic. The temperature inside the attic of Home B should not rise above 80 degrees or so on the hottest days, meaning your HVAC system can keep up with your desired “comfort zone” temperature. And with less runtime, the life of your HVAC system is extended well past the system in Home A.
The difference between traditional fiberglass and spray foam is so great, that if you left the HVAC systems off in both Home A and Home B, and then walked inside each one on a hot day, you might think Home B still had the HVAC system on. It wouldn’t be cold, but it would be very noticeable difference.
While spray foam insulation costs more up front, it pays for itself over time in energy savings. Less HVAC runtime translates into lower energy bills, and spray foam works equally well in the cold winter months, meaning you save money on energy bills year round.
The cost of maintaining a comfortable living space in Home B is much more predictable compared to Home A, with weather changes having less effect on attic temps.
With each new Energy Code update, air sealing is becoming more important across the country, and in some states, spray foam is already required for new home construction. Spray foam has proven its superior ability to insulate in many popular products, like yeti coolers and refrigerators, so it is no surprise that energy code regulators are turning to spray foam for optimum insulation and air sealing in one application.
The good news is: you can upgrade your existing home to spray foam now to get ahead of the summer heat and to help make your home more energy efficient and less expensive to maintain that perfect comfortable temperature.
If you are interested in learning about all of the benefits of our spray foam insulation, click here.