Baby, It’s Cold Outside!

Or maybe it’s unseasonably warm today. If there’s anything you can count on, it’s unpredictable weather. You can also count on super insulated Thermocore SIPs to maintain your ideal indoor temperature no matter how much ice, cold, or surprising weather Old Man Winter throws at you. With the holidays behind us, the next couple months typically bring some of the coldest weather. When it comes to fighting back against chilly temperatures and high utility bills, Thermocore’s structural insulated wall panel system provides a powerful weapon. If you’re entering into the building process, start with the environmentally friendly building envelope that brings savings as well as the fastest way to frame and insulate. The process is simple. Just email your plans for a free, no obligation quote on Thermocore SIPs. You’ve got nothing to lose and lots of warmth and savings to gain.

Why 30 Is Better than 70

Every homeowner has a list of priorities for a new home. If you’re reading this, energy efficiency probably made your list. The Home Energy Rating System (HERS) Index gives you a way to quantify how much energy—and money—you’ll save.

A new graphic from the Residential Energy Services Network (RESNET), the nonprofit organization that created the HERS Index, shows the range of possibilities. A home built to the 2004 International Energy Conservation Code receives a HERS rating of 100. According to RESNET, homes that score 70 on the HERS Index are 30 percent more energy-efficient than that reference home. Sounds pretty good, right? But why stop there? The lower the HERS score, the more energy and money saved—and homes built with Thermocore structural insulated panels score in the low 30s on the HERS Index!

Sixteen percent of greenhouse gases generated in the U.S. come from residential homes. When you build with Thermocore SIPs, your energy-efficient home helps save the world and fill your wallet.

That’s a Bright Idea

At Thermocore Panel Systems, we’re switching our plant lighting to LED state-of-the-art lighting that will use 75-80% less electricity than the metal halide fixtures we’re replacing. Our new LED fixtures also produce better light that won’t fade over time as metal halide does. Those factors made it an easy choice for us. Often when you look at the bigger picture—including return on investment and environmental impact—the choice to switch to modern, energy-efficient products (be it SIPs or lighting) becomes clearer…or, in our case, brighter.

Renewed Tax Credit

Congress has passed 45L tax credit which allows for $2,000.00 tax credit for building with Thermocore Panels.  This is an extension of the Energy Efficient Home credit.  Here is the gist of it…..

45L Tax Credit

Recent tax legislation extended the Energy Efficient Home Credit which offers a 45L Tax Credit of $2,000 per dwelling unit to developers of energy efficient apartment buildings and homes.

Eligible 45L Tax Credit Apartment Buildings & Condos:
A dwelling unit should provide a level of heating and cooling energy consumption that is significantly less than certain national energy standards, dependent on when the unit is sold or leased. Based on current construction trends, many developments already exceed these standards. Given that current energy codes have evolved tremendously over the past five years, many developers are already building to specifications that would meet the criteria for this credit. All apartment buildings and residential condominium developments completed within the last 4 years are worth assessing for potential 45L tax credits. Eligible construction also includes substantial reconstruction and rehabilitation. Developers can still claim the 45L tax credit retroactively if they did not claim them on previous tax returns.

Who can benefit?

Apartment, Condominium, and Single-Family Residence Developers.
The Energy Efficient Home Credit offers a tax credit of $2,000 per dwelling unit to developers of energy efficient buildings completed after August 8, 2005. The following types of projects should be considered:

 Affordable housing (LIHTC)  Rehabilitation
 Apartment buildings  Residential condominiums
 Assisted living housing  Student housing
 Production home developments  Substantial reconstruction

Sample Benefits:

50 qualified units = $100,000 in 45L tax credits
100 qualified units = $200,000 in 45L tax credits
1000 qualified units = $2,000,000 in 45L tax credits

Exceeding the Strictest Energy Codes with SIPs

Happily, some areas are taking formal steps to increase energy efficiency and ultimately save homeowners money. While some builders struggle to meet the stricter energy codes with the same methods they’ve used for decades, others like Paul Tyrer, owner of Expert Handyman Services, Inc., in Traverse City, Michigan, are willing to try new strategies like SIPs to improve air tightness and lower utility bills.

Paul started with 2 x 6 construction with cellulose insulation blown into the walls. When Michigan adopted the stricter 2012 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC), he looked for a more energy-efficient method.

The 1,400 square foot home built by Paul using Thermocore structural insulated panels tested at 1.98 air changes per hour at 50 Pascals—“much better than the current code requires and twice as good as the [new] code will require,” according to the home’s blower door test report.

Now Paul is building more homes with SIPs so he won’t have to worry about meeting Michigan’s new IECC requirements. And why not! Paul said he can finish construction faster. Plus, “There was no added cost to using Thermocore structural insulated panels,” he said. (Read more about Paul’s experience with structural insulated panels.)

Those who keep doing the same thing get the same results. Don’t wait until you’re required to conserve energy; start saving money now with structural insulated panels.

SIPs, Hats, and Heat Loss

I recently ran across an article that challenged the old wives’ tale about wearing a hat because you lose most of your heat through your head. The article said, “The head as a body part represents about 10% of the average adult’s total body surface area, so in reality, only 10% of your body’s heat is lost from your head.”

Don’t count on a hat alone to keep you warm on cold winter days!

What does that have to do with structural insulated panels? In the building world, a parallel myth suggests that the most important place to insulate is the attic. Don’t get me wrong—the attic and your head are both important in the warm game. But the attic isn’t nearly as important as your walls in controlling energy costs.

According to a study out of Oak Ridge National Laboratory, “Heating and cooling loads associated with wall areas are the highest among all building envelope systems. That includes attic, doors, and windows.”

If you ask most builders where they’d like to see more insulation in a house, they’ll most likely answer “the attic.” However, just like the head in the body, the attic accounts for only a small portion of the building envelope so it doesn’t make the greatest impact in the energy equation.

Don’t build your home based on old wives’ tales. Modern building envelopes need the most insulation in the walls, with systems like Thermocore SIPs. Insulated attics, like hats, are great. But structural insulated panels give you the warmest coat possible. That’s how you win the warm game.

Why SIPs Equal Multiplication

I’ve got a simple equation, even for those who hate math. Here’s the story: David Watters, owner of The Beamery, designed a 4,000 square-foot, two-level home in Nashville, Indiana. Built to Passive House standards with Thermocore insulated wall and roof panels, the home uses an 18,000 BTU heat pump as its only heating and cooling source. Throughout last summer, indoor temperatures stayed between 68 and 72 degrees.

First let me ask: How warm did your home get last summer? And how much air conditioning did that require?

Now let’s do the math on the home David designed. First the homeowners saved on initial costs. No expensive air conditioner. No furnace. Just a very small heat pump. That’s because structural insulated panels don’t need much help to keep indoor temperatures comfortable. Think of it as SIPs doing the heavy lifting so the heating and cooling system can sit back and relax.

Now let’s add in ongoing savings. Running an 18,000 BTU heat pump costs significantly less than a typical heating and cooling system—each and every month.

Bottom line, SIPs result in exponential savings. Read more about David’s Passive House and the press coverage it received. Then consider how much your savings could multiply with SIPs.

Investing vs. Spending (or SIPs vs. Conventional Framing)

A friend recently told me a story about helping his son buy a car. His son had little money or credit history and thought the best way to get a loan would be through his dad. My friend agreed to loan his son the money for a three-year term, and figured that buying a cheap car would make it easier for his son to pay him back. The car lasted one year.

That put them back in the same situation, buying another car. This time my friend approached the purchase much differently. He viewed the car as an investment, rather than something to just spend money on. In the tradition of “you get what you pay for,” he’d learned that value is not determined in one day of shopping, but rather over the life of the product.

The same principle applies when comparing structural insulated panels like Thermocore to conventional stick-frame construction. One is just “spending money” while the other provides an investment with a clear payback in energy cost savings. Those who invest wisely in life always seem to come out ahead. When you build a new home, think about ways to invest—rather than just spend—your money.

A Warm and Happy New Year to All

As we start a new year, we are very grateful for the projects we’ve been involved with and the customers with whom we’ve had the pleasure to work. We’re in our 16th year of designing and manufacturing energy-efficient structural insulated wall and roof systems, and we’ve tried to remain industry innovators in efforts to provide better insulation and a faster build. Comes in handy with the frigid, snowy weather that’s hit so much of the U.S. over the past month!

I believe that 2014 will increase awareness of energy-efficient building as an investment, not an expense, with products like SIPs improving monthly cash flow and creating more comfortable environments. So happy New Year and happy building from all of us here at Thermocore!

How Standard Options Hurt Fuel Economy

We’ve all had the experience of buying a car, new or otherwise. Many of us search the web to find the best model for the best price. We look at features. We probably check fuel economy, too, because today’s global marketplace has taught us that we do not in any way control how much we pay for fuel.

Now imagine your research shows that the tires offered as standard in the car industry reduce fuel mileage by over 25%. Let’s say you also find a new, advanced tire that guarantees not to cost gas mileage like the old technology, and most likely increases fuel economy. Wouldn’t you wonder why car manufacturers haven’t made this new tire standard equipment?

That’s exactly what’s happening with traditional exterior wall framing. Using studs and other materials creates what’s commonly referred to as the “framing factor,” which can knock more than 25% off the R-value of whatever insulating materials you use. Who can afford to give up 25% in fuel economy, whether it’s your home or your car?

In the tire example, the alternative was hypothetical. In construction, SIPs provide a real alternative to traditional framing. SIPs not only eliminate the 25% framing-factor loss, but also increase R-value over a standard wall. Before you invest in a new home, make sure your builder or manufacturer knows about the options to “standard equipment.” Share with them and get your 25% back.