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Insulation Matters In The Pacific Northwest

Danielle Onat | 11/06/2017 | Posted in Heating, Gas fireplace, Insulation, News, Tips to save money

If you're looking to save up to 17% on your annual home energy bills, then consider adding insulation to your home

Properly Insulating Your Home Can Save You As Much As
17% On Your Annual Energy Bill

We frequently discuss heating systems, such as furnaces and heat pumps on our website and in our Idea Center. These necessary systems heat our homes in a way that we can physically feel.  However, there is an unsung hero in home warmth and efficiency that just doesn’t get enough credit: insulation. In our wet, cold, cut-you-to the-bone Pacific Northwest winters, keeping heat and cool air where it should be is crucial—and that’s exactly what proper insulation delivers. According to Energy Star, adding insulation can save you up to 17% on your annual home energy bills.

There are four types of insulation available from Washington Energy Services. Each type serves a unique purpose, and they all work together for optimum home comfort and efficiency.

Interior And Exterior Wall Insulation

When you hear the word insulation, this is probably the type that comes to mind. This insulation is installed in the cavity between the interior and exterior walls. This is common in new construction, but in older homes, it is often a retrofit installation. To install, small openings are inserted into the walls for the insulation to be blown in.

Interior and exterior wall insulation act’s as a barrier to the elements. Just as important, it reduces interior heat loss through the wall.

Duct Insulation

If your home has an air-forced heating and cooling system, your ducts act as a thoroughfare to distribute air. Unfortunately, 20 to 30 percent of this air can be lost through the ducts, resulting in energy loss and uncomfortable temperatures. It’s also a safety issue as crawlspaces are dirty and dusty, and these particles can be picked up by the ducts and spread throughout your home.

Duct insulation seals the ducts to stop air leakage, improve your home’s energy efficiency, and help you manage temperatures. It also keeps dust out of the ducts, and therefore, out of the air your family breathes.

Crawl Space Insulation

Believe it or not, most Puget Sound area homes have no insulation in their crawl spaces. While they’re on the outside of the heated part of your home, insulating these areas can have a big impact on your home energy usage because it keeps heat from escaping the home… and money from escaping your wallet.

Attic Insulation

Attic insulation from Washington Energy Services is environmentally friendly, flame resistant, and energy efficient—an all-around win-win. The insulation is cellulose-based and blown in by one of our technicians. We also offer a fiberglass insulation option, which we may recommend based on your unique home.

Insulation may not be as noticeable as your heating system, but it’s crucial to your home’s comfort and energy efficiency. If you know your insulation is lacking, call us for a free in-home estimate. If you’re unsure of your home’s insulation quality or locations, opt for a Home Energy Audit. We’ll identify insulation weak spots, locate opportunities for insulation placement, and show you where you’re losing valuable heat and energy.


7 Responses to “Insulation Matters In The Pacific Northwest”

  • kathleen craig

    Have newer gas furnace and water heater. Installed gas fireplace in January. What tips can you provide to maximize gas I have a newer gas furnace and water heater from WES. Last January I had a gas fireplace installed. It seems my gas bill/use increased quite a bit after that! Any tips on how to maximize usage and stay warm? Thanks.
    usage while staying warm? I realize my older home does not have insulation.

    • Sloan Newman

      Hi Kathleen,

      Thank you so much for the question and we are happy to help! I think we have a good idea what is going on with the heating bill.

      Looking at your record, I see that you had your new Archguard insert was installed in January so this is the first fall/early winter with the unit. While it might seem like the addition of this appliance may be causing the increase in gas I believe there may be something else going on.

      In our industry, we measure the amount of time one needs to heat a home in a unit of measure called heating degree days (HDD). This is defined as the number of degrees that a day’s average temperature is below 65 degrees. So if the average temperature in a day is 55 degrees then that day would account for 10 degree days.

      I took a quick calculation of heating degree days from September 1st through November 22nd in the years 2014 – 2017 measured at SeaTac. (Source: https://www.wunderground.com/history/airport/KSEA/2014/9/1/CustomHistory.html?dayend=22&monthend=11&yearend=2014&req_city=&req_state=&req_statename=&reqdb.zip=&reqdb.magic=&reqdb.wmo=)

      This year has been the coldest for this period in the last 4 years and by a pretty good margin! Our HVAC service team can certainly attest to this. Combining the 4 years, the average HDD for the period is 744. 2017 was 850 or 14% below normal temperature for the start of the winter! It would be our guess that this is the primary culprit of the higher utility bills. The gas insert may be contributing to a slight increase in the gas bill but in a like for like year, it should be pretty negligible.

      Additionally, there are a few other tips to get the most out of your systems
      1. We always recommend a home energy audit for folks who are interested in reducing utility bills and gaining comfort in the home. It’s simply the best way to design a long-term improvement game plan for the home.
      2. Use the smart feature on fireplace remote for constant temperature
      a. This allows the gas insert to work the same as the furnace calling for heat when the room dips below the set point. For my Archguard at home, I always set my furnace thermostat and my Archguard thermostat to the same temperature which zones the home and provides amazing comfort to the rooms you are using and thus it can actually help reduce the total energy load on the home.
      3. Remove the barrier screen for more radiant heat
      a. WARNING: The barrier screen is there to protect people from burns. This is NOT recommended if there are children, people, pets or others in the home that may accidentally burn themselves by touching the glass while the fireplace is operational
      b. That being said, removing the screen creates about 30% additional radiant heat which is the coziest and comfortable heat. If you elect to do this, removing the screens should be done after the unit has been off a minimum of 4 hours.

      I hope this helps Kathleen! Thank you so much for being a Washington Energy client and please let us know if there is anything else we can do to help make your home great!

  • kathleen craig

    I have a newer gas furnace and water heater from WES. Last January I had a gas fireplace installed. It seems my gas bill/use increased quite a bit after that! Any tips on how to maximize usage and stay warm? Thanks.


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