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Retrofitting Insulation
updated: Jan 09, 2014, 11:11 AM

By Edhat Subscriber

Can I get input regarding the various methods of retrofitting insulation into a 60's vintage 2x4 frame construction house (with stucco exterior walls) .

Is it cost-effective in relation to our (relatively) moderate climate? Which methods are worthwhile? Attic Insulation? Wall Insulation? Better windows? Where can I get information about what products and methods work well....and what contractors in the area are good to contact about this?

Or....is it not worth the trouble and expense in Santa Barbara's climate?

Comments in order of when they were received | (reverse order)

 COMMENT 483840P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-09 11:25 AM

We recently had Allen Associates install insulation under the floors and in the attic of our 1920s home. A quick and utterly painless process. They will do an inspection and discuss lots of options, even solar if you're so inclined.


 COMMENT 483848P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-09 11:40 AM

We did under floor and attic a few years ago and could not believe how much warmer in winter and cooler in summer it made things. Our home is the same vintage and construction as yours, but the front is redwood siding. We did not do the walls. We also did a thermostat controlled attic fan for cooler summer temps in the house. Sears did the attic - I do not recommend them. The others we purchased the materials and had an electrician install the fan and a handyman and helper installed the under floor insulation. Yes, I think they were worth the money if for no other reason than they made the house more comfortable.


 COMMENT 483853 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-09 11:52 AM

As others have said, your biggest bang for the buck is to consider insulating the attic, crawl space, windows, then walls (in decreasing returns). Contact an insulation contractor like Masco. If you're only going to do the attic buy the insulation at HD and have a handyman do it. I have no idea why anyone would contact a high end general contractor like Allen Assoc for such work as they will just sub out the work and mark it up to cover their admin.


 COMMENT 483864 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-09 12:17 PM

Everything is price dependent. If you are rich you can use Allen and associates. To "retrofit" wall insulation, you will need to have 1-2 holes drilled into your wall every 16" inches blown in. attic insulation can also be blown-in but creates a huge mess an nightmare to deal with if you ever have to access your attic. osh sells Formaldahyde free fiberglass insulation for attics and sub floors. Sb Insulation is the only local option for foam insulation for your sub floor. i suggest you go straight to who they will sub the job-out to. I built my entire home but sub'd out the insulation to broken Drum insulation- by far the lowest bid entire house including interior walls was $6,000 2600 sq ft home. Did a perfect job very professional.


 COMMENT 483890P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-09 01:02 PM

I had Santa Barbara Insulation do my attic and walls. I also had them wrap the heating vents and the hot water pipes. They did a very good job but, as indicated, other handymen types might have been cheaper for the attic work. The walls are a pain to fix as 864 indicated. New windows and doors also helped. I was able to cut my heating costs pretty much in half. The house is also a whole lot quieter.


 COMMENT 483982 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-09 04:40 PM

Second Broken Drum. As a contractor, they do it less expensive than I can have my guys do it. And my guys don't like it anyways. Check gas company for rebates.


 COMMENT 484008 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-09 06:24 PM

As a representative of Allen Associates and the Building Performance and Solar (BPS) Division who physically performed the work mentioned in this conversation I'd like to take the opportunity to make a comment. As a trained and certified "Building Performance" contractor with 30 years of experience in energy efficiency design and construction we apply our knowledge of building science to make the most cost effective recommendations and improvements that increase the comfort and energy efficiency of homes. Insulating homes from the external temperature swings is part of the overall "whole-house" approach that we recommend however more immediate, cost effective and noticeable changes to your indoor comfort could be realized with measures such as air sealing and weather stripping . We provide a free 1 hr. visual energy consultation for homeowners and would be glad to be of assistance to help you prioritize the most effective solutions for your specific home. Visit our website for more information www.buildtoperform.com
You may also find the following additional resources helpful to get you started:
The County of Santa Barbara has a program called EmPowerSBC and they subsidize an "Energy Coach" that will perform free visual energy efficiency consultations for homeowners in Santa Barbara and soon Ventura/SLO counties. www.empowersbc.org
The utilities also have an incentive program called Energy Upgrade CA whereby you can receive rebates up to $4,500 for "whole house" energy efficiency improvements . https://energyupgradeca.org


 COMMENT 484021 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-09 07:26 PM

The attic and crawlspace underneath are the most important and least expensive for your return. Insulating the walls will make quite a bit of work because you have to drywall mud over the holes and repaint.

If you have slat or single-paned windows you should look into getting new vinyl double-paned windows.

It's important to have good seals on your doors as well. Good luck!

We are going to install a whole house fan in the middle of the house to help clear out the late summer heat in the evening.


 COMMENT 484096 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-10 08:37 AM

Paying for Allen and associates massive and constant marketing: good contractors keep busy by referral, not media campaigns. Why pay extra when there are so many competent contractors without massive marketing and self created certifications.

Insulation contractor would be a good start, Gas co too if you have gas heat( possible rebates)

The improvements won't pay for for themselves but your home will be more comfortable and quieter especially if you replace single pane windows with modern glazing.


 COMMENT 484117 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-10 09:38 AM

No one has mentioned that most 1960s homes were built on concrete slabs not footings. How do you insulate a slab floor? Replacing the old single pane windows would help a lot to reduce cold air.


 COMMENT 484142 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-10 10:08 AM

Engergizesb, props to you for posting in response to various comments about Allen and Assoc. In future please identify yourself by name and provide a contact phone number. Please also indicate if your firm's employees will be the ones actually doing the work or if you will utilize subcontractors.


 COMMENT 484192 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-10 11:10 AM

We did many walls in our 1963 home by adding fiberglass batting whenever a wall was opened for other reasons ( electrical wiring, new tile, plumbing , seismic retrofits, upgrade doors/windows etc). Labor and material cost, a few bucks per 16" section if you are opening that section up anyway. Sounds like a funny way to do it but in 20 yrs we've done over 75% of the homes exterior walls.

For slab floors, use special-purpose rigid foam panel systems under a plywood subfloor right over the concrete. Expensive, hard to do right, and lowers effective ceiling height by 4-5 inches. Recommended highly for any climate with permafrost. Not recommended at all for So. Cal.

Window upgrades can be great too - improved appearance, quieter indoor living, eliminate drafts.


 COMMENT 484209 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-10 11:54 AM

The Allen Associates - Building Performance and Solar (BPS) Division has accreditation for energy assessments by a nationally recognized home performance industry organization called the "Building Performance Institute" which has been studying the best practices for energy efficiency and comfort in homes for 20 years. http://www.bpi.org/ To be a participating contractor with the SCE and SoCalGas Energy Upgrade CA program you must have this certification. A list of all the participating contractor's can be found at www.energyupgradeca.org and I encourage homeowners to explore these resources.

To respond to the question above:

BPS performs the majority of our energy upgrade work "in-house" and when specialty trades are needed for aspects of our energy efficiency upgrades we provide a much needed service to coordinate construction schedules, ensure a cleanly job site, ensure the highest quality workmanship and provide ongoing customer service. For the insulation job mentioned in the initial comment we physically completed this with our staff. SHAWN JACOBSON | BPS Division Manager - Building Performance and Solar
Office: 805-324-5774
Email: sjacobson@dallenassoc.com


 COMMENT 484403P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-10 07:16 PM

840P (the first reply that mentioned Allen Associates) here. Their bid was competitive with others and involved top-notch environmentally friendly materials with excellent and conscientious workers. From the outset there was no pressure and no up-selling, but lots of good information and advice about what would be cost effective now and what could be put off or even ignored in this climate. The professionalism, oversight, and availability were top notch. I'm sure there are plenty of other competent insulation installers in town; only telling the OP that our experience with this company was great and we'd work with them again in a minute. Having lots of competencies under one coordinated umbrella can be an advantage, too.


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