Want a Lower Energy Bill? Insulation and Encapsulation Can Help

by | Oct 15, 2020 | Foundation

Even in the best of times, you don’t want to overpay for your utilities. In uncertain times, families desperately need a consistent budget.  But with weather patterns becoming more extreme and unexpected each year, wildly fluctuating fuel prices, and an uncertain economy?  

Households face a situation that is stressful and frustrating.  Do you resign yourself to lower temperatures in the winter, enduring cold feet and wearing multiple layers?  Do you set the thermostat higher in the summer, struggling to sleep in muggy air? 

Sure, if you sign up for your energy provider’s budget billing program, this can help with the unpredictability of your monthly bill.  But it won’t lower it, and that’s really what we’re all looking for, isn’t it?

Acculevel is a family-owned and operated company that specializes in waterproofing and foundation repairs. We understand the concerns of homeowners, and their desire to provide the best and healthiest environment for their families.  Since our founding in 1996, we’ve improved the stability of tens of thousands of houses, which includes improving a home’s energy efficiency.

 In this article, we’re going to discuss the best methods for sealing your home against drafts and maintaining a consistent -and comfortable- temperature.  We’ll review how these methods work and give their approximate costs, so you can decide which is the best choice for you and your family. 

 

Insulate Your Foundation

Start by checking your home’s basement or crawl space.  If there is insulation installed in this area, it’s most likely fiberglass insulation.  This is a poor choice, especially in damp areas under your home.  

Fiberglass insulation absorbs moisture, which is bad for two major reasons.

  1. Moisture weighs down the insulation, causing it to sag and eventually fall out of place.  Insulation that is on the ground isn’t insulating your home’s flooring structure.
  2. Until the insulation falls down, it’s stuck between joists and beams in your floor.  This promotes water-based damage: rotting wood, growing mold, and attracting insects.

The result?  You need to remove and correctly dispose of the fiberglass insulation, repair the damage it caused to the flooring structure, and install better insulation that will actually stay in place and do its job.

wet crawl space with molding insulation falling downThis photo was taken by an Acculevel project manager during a free estimate appointment.  This crawl space has falling insulation, molding joists, and a sagging center beam. 

We recommend that homeowners replace fiberglass insulation with spray foam.  Spray foam repels moisture and will not fall down, because it adheres directly to the surface it’s sprayed on.  It also thoroughly blocks all cracks and crevices, no matter how small; this eliminates drafts and makes your HVAC run more efficiently.  

Spray foam is more expensive than fiberglass, but don’t let the numbers fool you.  Foam is $10 per linear foot, and fiberglass is around $1 per square foot.  And spray foam only needs to be applied to the perimeter; fiberglass insulation needs to be installed across the entire space, between every joist.  

Need a refresher on linear versus square footage?  We explain how to calculate each:

 

The end result?  If your basement or crawl space is 1500 square feet, fiberglass is $1500 and spray foam is $1700.  For additional information- including more reasons spray foam is better for your home and details on my calculations, we have another article, here

This photo (of the same crawl space) was taken by an Acculevel team member after repairs were made.  All fiberglass insulation was removed, support columns and jacks were installed, joists and beams were repaired, and spray foam insulation was installed around the perimeter. 

 

Encapsulate Your Basement or Crawl Space

Encapsulation is a method for sealing your basement or crawl space against water intrusion.  It involves applying a heavy plastic liner to the inside of the foundation walls.  (In a crawl space, the white cap is also used to cover the dirt floor.)  

Crawl Space Encapsulation with dehumidifier and sump pumpThis photo was taken by an Acculevel team member after installation.  You can see the white cap covers the ‘floor’ of the crawl space, is fixed against the walls with spray foam, and has been tightly sealed around the sump pump and dehumidifier drainage lines. 

 

Encapsulation does require a water drainage system to be installed, as well as a dehumidifier.  Once completed, this system will improve the air quality of the home, maintain low humidity, reduce the strain on the HVAC system, and provide a clean sterile environment suitable for storage.  We have an article that goes into detail about crawl space encapsulation, here

brick basement with encapsulationThis photo, also taken by an Acculevel team member, shows an encapsulated basement. 

Many homeowners choose to encapsulate their basement before converting it to living space.  The white cap provides the same benefits as it does in a crawl space, of course.  But it also ensures the drywall, carpet, and furniture will stay dry.  

We especially recommend basement encapsulation for older homes with brick or stone foundations; these are more porous materials than modern concrete.  If you’d like more information about basement encapsulation, we have an article that explores the benefits here

The white cap that Acculevel uses has an antimicrobial coating that inhibits mold growth and preserves the material against decay. White cap has a 25-year warranty and costs $2-3 per square foot.

 

Ready to Lower Your Energy Bills? 

Find an experienced and knowledgeable waterproofing company to evaluate your home.  Before you meet with a contractor of any kind, we urge you to verify that the company is reputable, insured, and accredited by the Better Business Bureau.  

Not sure what questions to ask, or what information you should acquire about the company you hire?  Please use our guide to questions you should ask a contractor, with a free downloadable form.

If you live in Indiana or the surrounding states, contact Acculevel. We are a family-owned and operated company, and we provide free written estimates.  One of our experienced project managers will evaluate your basement or crawl space, then recommend the best course of action for you.  Our goal is to help you keep your home strong and healthy for years to come.

 

Over her twenty year career, Kelly has worked in a wide variety of fields: secondary education, nursing, biology, elder care, the postal service, multicultural development, and academia. She has developed a skill for translating industry-specific jargon into everyday language. Her goal is to share the knowledge and experience of the Acculevel team with homeowners, in a way that is both engaging and informative.

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