R-values were created in the 1970s as a measure of thermal value for insulation. More specifically, they measure the ability of a given material to restrict heat flow. The higher the R-value the less heat the insulation conducts. A good analogy by HGTV is to consider what would happen if you put a blowtorch on one side of tinfoil; you would feel the heat, but if you put that same fire on the other side of a wall board you wouldn’t feel the heat. The wall board would have a higher R-value. The recommended R-value for any given building depends on where you are and what part of the building is being insulated. For example: The floor of a building in Southern Florida should only have R13 insulation while an uninsulated attic in Northern Michigan is should have R49-R60.

Although R-values are considered to be the standard measure for insulation, they are not the whole story when it comes to choosing insulation. The biggest problem with R-values is that they treat all materials the same and are not necessarily an accurate measure of how a given insulation material will work over time.

The Monolithic Dome Institute explains that the R-value test accounts only for heat transfer, not air flow or moisture resistance. What about when an insulation material is exposed to wind and moisture? If air can easily come through the insulation, it isn’t as effective. A material that can absorb water or doesn’t provide a seal against water vapor won’t provide the same sort of protection when it’s even slightly wet from normally occurring water condensation. How well an insulation works also depends on other factors such as how the building is constructed, what materials may be combined for insulation, and how carefully the insulation is installed.

The goals of insulation are to reduce heat loss and control surface temperature. The best way to do this is by creating a heat sink that keeps an average temperature by holding a limited amount of heat and then radiating it out as the temperature changes. Examples of building materials that do this are concrete, brick, and adobe. While these materials may not have high R-values, their ability to diffuse heat makes them better insulators than other materials such as fiberglass, cellulose fiber, or rock wool. Selecting a solid insulation makes sense not only from an ecological standpoint, because it utilizes recycled materials, but also because it provides superior protection compared with other insulation.

You can find more information at the Department of Energy’s Energy Saver Page. Learn more on adding insulation to an existing house or insulating a new house. And remember that along with R-value, air sealing and moisture control are important to your home’s energy efficiency, health, and comfort.

Insulated concrete forms have long been used for building energy-efficient homes and commercial buildings. They have also been used with great success for such projects as retaining walls and decorative outdoor fireplaces. But perhaps their most outstanding use yet is in the construction of swimming pools.

There are many reasons to use ICFs for your new swimming pool, but here are our top three.

ICFs are known for longevity

Insulated concrete forms are structurally superior to most other building materials. Buildings that incorporate the use of ICFs have an expected life of 200 years or more.

To make the news even better, during the long life of your new ICF pool, you will experience much lower maintenance costs as well. These pools are not only built to last, they are built to be practically maintenance free.

Energy Savings

According to ICF Builder Magazine, the use of this product can result in a cost savings in the construction of your pool. However, they go on to say that the greatest savings is in the energy costs associated with using your pool over the long term.

“Experts calculate that up to 80% of a pool’s heat is lost through the sides and bottom of the pool, due to the fact that the ground conducts heat far more efficiently than air does.”

If you take that heat loss into consideration, then the use of ICFs in pool construction (and their impressive insulating qualities) just makes sense. If you live in an area where heating your pool can become an issue, you definitely need to consider using ICFs.

Convenience and ease of use

Let’s face it, some of us want pools in awkward places: small backyards, on an incline, you name it, but these placements can make the construction of pools problematic. There are just some places that heavy equipment won’t go. ICFs are lightweight, making them easy to handle without that heavy equipment.

They are also much more accommodating of those fancy pool designs that feature curved walls. With the flexibility of insulated concrete forms, you can achieve curves, arches, and a host of other design options to create exactly the shape and look you want for your backyard oasis.

This option for pool construction is also a time-saver in the building of your pool. An ICF swimming pool can be constructed in less time than most other construction methods, so there is no reason not to choose the pool of your dreams–even if you are on a deadline.

Bottom line, if you want a unique, energy-efficient pool that just may last for your lifetime, you really need to consider using ICFs in your pool’s construction.

When you’re ready to move forward with your project, finding the right contractor can be a daunting task. You may be tempted to go with the first good deal you find, but that can lead to big problems later – building delays, shoddy work, and even legal problems. So make sure you choose the right one by following these tips.

Make sure the contractor specializes in your project type

This may seem obvious, but it can be easy to overlook if you’re not paying attention. By selecting a contractor specializing in what you need, you’ll avoid a lot of headaches in the future. With so many codes and regulations in place, you want to hire someone who you can be sure will do the work correctly.

Check that the contractor is licensed and insured

Not all areas require contractors to be licensed, but having one is a way to demonstrate knowledge and credibility. Licenses are not given out to contractors who don’t know the processes and building codes required of the job. They also add peace of mind to those hiring the contractor that they won’t be scammed. Insurance will prevent liability on your end if a worker is hurt on the job or something gets damaged. So get the contractor’s license number and proof of insurance.

Have a contract in place ahead of time

And make sure it covers every detail. Costs, item brands, estimated start/end dates, and drawings with specifications should be included. If you think you’ve written too much, then you’re good to go. You can’t have too much detail. Contracts can also help you keep track of who gave what bid when you’re talking to multiple contractors.

Ask for work samples

Unless the contractor is brand new, he should have some pictures on hand to demonstrate clear examples of his work. In a way, samples are more important than personal references. You can see upfront the quality you’re paying for and what type of design you’re getting. The photos may even spark ideas for your own project.

Keep it local

It can be difficult to gauge how your project will turn out when you’re working with a contractor you’re unfamiliar with. Contractors from your local area who have been in business for a while are usually safer bets. Besides, you’ll be stimulating the local economy by keeping your money in the neighborhood.

Need help finding a contractor in your area? Contact us at contact@foxblocks.com.

The term “energy audit” can seem daunting. But in reality, it’s nothing to be afraid of, and in fact, is designed to be beneficial to you. It can reveal the highest level of energy use in your home or business, thus allowing you to make adjustments to lower your energy consumption. This increases your energy efficiency and can even save you money.

An energy audit is frequently performed by a professional employed by your power company. They’ll come to your home or business and analyze the energy flow, and show you where you use the most energy.

One important thing they’ll look for is anywhere that may allow for air leaks or drafts, such as doors, windows and even behind your baseboards. If there are areas that aren’t properly sealed and allow drafts, you could be wasting a lot of energy without even realizing it. Your auditor will find any instances of this, so you can fix the problem.

Another important consideration is insulation. If the insulation in your walls or attic isn’t sufficient, you may require more energy to heat or cool your house. They’ll also likely check your attic for a vapor barrier, which reduces moisture levels and prevents water damage.

At the end of the inspection, the auditor will write up a report, which you then get a copy of. They’ll also show you how to reduce your energy usage and thus, your carbon footprint.

In some cases, the auditor will leave packs of energy-efficient lightbulbs with you if you’re not using them already, and some will include new aerators for your faucets. These can adjust the water flow, which helps to ensure you’re not wasting excess water.

The auditor will also walk you through the results of the audit, allowing for any questions you may have and helping to explain everything clearly. Once you have all the information, you can then work toward reducing your energy consumption, which helps not only the environment but also your pocketbook. If you make all the changes suggested in the audit, your home or business will be running much more efficiently.

An audit may seem intimidating at first, but remember, it’s for your benefit.

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