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.
Congratulations to One 10 Studio in Indianapolis on your five-year anniversary. It has been a pleasure working with you on your innovative projects. Here’s to many more years of sustainable design!
Every day we get calls from folks asking how much it costs to build with Thermocore SIPs. The answer: Much less than what you save on heating and cooling costs over the lifetime of your home or building project.
But in order to provide an accurate number for Thermocore’s customized structural insulated panels, we need to see some sort of building plan with dimensions. Without that, we can give the often-requested “rough ballpark price” for Thermocore SIPs, but it won’t supply the meaningful information you need.
Every journey begins with a map, and the map for your project is the building plan. Once we see your working drawing, we get a clear understanding of what’s involved and can identify any areas of concern. Your price quote will show dollar amounts broken out for structural insulated wall panels, structural insulated roof panels, delivery, and installation, then you choose the options that work best for your design goals and budget.
We never charge for quotes and usually get back to you within a day. All you need to provide is:
- Wall heights
- Roof plan
We don’t need window and door sizes or other interior details. Even the roughest sketch with dimensions marked will save you time and provide the specific information you need for an accurate SIPs cost analysis.
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.
The Federal Government just put forth another round of global warming information. Did you read it? Do you care? Most people say they do care. Unfortunately, most people’s actions say they don’t care.
We now live in a world where it’s possible to get 40 miles per gallon in our cars and consume 1/3 less energy in our buildings. But both options take an upfront investment—something most people aren’t doing, despite the long-term savings.
No one says they want their children to inherit a world that’s warmer and more polluted. However, without action, the experts agree that’s where we’re headed. If that does become the future, how will later generations view us? We recognize the problem but are unwilling to take steps to correct it.
I’m much better at asking questions (the easy part) than providing answers (the hard part)—until it comes to building. Structural insulated panels are a significant answer to much of the global warming process. Surely too bold a statement. Until you consider this:
- SIPs use OSB instead of studs for structure, meaning up to 35% less lumber with SIPs vs. stick framing. Leave the trees in the ground where they do the most good at protecting the Earth and our future!
- Buildings with structural insulated panels use less energy than stick-framed structures. Period. No debate. More SIPs equals less energy used.
Structural insulated panels can and will reduce global warming…as long as you choose to build with them.
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.
Here’s an example of Thermocore SIPs in a unique commercial application:
Irvington Lofts, designed by One 10 Studio, provides housing for moderate-income residents in a historic neighborhood near downtown Indianapolis. Thermocore SIPs helped achieve multiple goals of the project. “We utilized six-and-a-half-inch insulated wall panels on the first floor for structural issues, with four-inch panels on the upper floors,” said Patrick Kestner, One 10 Studio project manager and associate. “That allowed us to stay at the budget number we needed, but also provide the energy efficiency we wanted.”
The contemporary-style apartment complex will receive a Silver rating under the National Association of Home Builders Green Building Standard. “Obviously, the SIPs are huge in being able to achieve that, since they’re the building envelope,” Kestner said.
Read more about One 10 Studio’s experience with Thermocore structural insulated panels. It’s not just homeowners who get energy savings in a quieter, sturdier structure!
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!
This is a great question posed in a recent news article. There has been a national push to include Home Energy Rating System (HERS) Index scores in real estate listings (often referred to as the Multiple Listing Service, or MLS). In essence, a home’s energy performance will be included along with the number of bedrooms and bathrooms. That’s the equivalent of putting the yellow ENERGY STAR rating sheet, commonly seen on appliances, onto your home.
Why is this important? Energy costs directly affect your monthly cash flow and your ability to pay your mortgage. Knowing these costs and how they compare to other homes in the area helps identify the best deal and allows homeowners to budget all their expenses.
Most importantly, the HERS rating will help recoup the money you spend on energy-efficient construction. Items like LED lighting and energy-efficient appliances have no effect; a HERS rating only reflects heating and cooling expenses—the major costs in home ownership. Unlike other eye-candy types of upgrades, investments in energy-efficient construction can now be measured and shown as an asset to a home’s value.
The easiest and most cost-effective way to improve a home’s HERS rating—and increase resale value—is to lower energy demand. Of course, one of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to lower demand is to build with structural insulated panels (SIPs) like Thermocore.
Seeing is believing, so click on the links below to explore the Thermocore difference:
- Click here to watch Thermocore’s manufacturing process, including the electronic equipment and human care that prepares the SIPs to your specifications, and the infrared testing that ensures each insulated panel performs as promised.
- Click here to see a time-lapse video of Thermocore SIPs installed on a net-zero project in Indiana.