R-30 is good and R-38 is “gooder.” That’s kind of how we sell insulation, right?
At the end of the day, when we talk about green upgrades, this is probably the one item that most consumers understand better than any other. The maxim “more is better” is, with few exceptions, pretty safe territory when it comes to insulation. Oh, if it were on that simple!
I like to tell consumers today that it is the proper installation of insulation, more than anything, which will ensure they get the realized R-value they have purchased. After all, if you compare the R-values per inch for fiberglass, cotton, open-cell spray foam, and cellulose, you just don’t see a huge difference.
The value of a third-party inspection
One of the key tenets of selling insulation upgrades, then, is to first focus your presentation on your installation processes — processes which will ensure a high-quality job regardless of insulation type. And that must include third-party inspection of the installation.
If you are already building LEED, Energy Star, or NGBS projects, this will not be a problem, as the insulation inspection will be required. But if you are new to green and want to start taking smaller steps to becoming a better builder/remodeler, this is a very good inexpensive first step to take.
Any rater/verifier/inspector with nationally recognized credentials could perform this inspection and give you a report when finished. And you can find those inspectors at your local homebuilders’ association. A minimum trip charge is all that is required, and assuming you pass and a follow-up inspection is not required, it will only cost you about $300.
HOW TO SELL GREEN UPGRADESPart One: Radiant Barrier PaintsPart Two: Tankless Water HeatersPart Three: Energy AuditsPart Four: Exhaust FansPart Five: Electrical ImprovementsPart Seven: A Few Small Things
One tip on the inspection: make sure your project manager and insulation contractor are on site so that they could learn what the inspector is looking for.
Using insulation to reduce air leakage
Now that you have successfully demonstrated to your client that they will get the R-value advertised on the insulation package by virtue of your proper installation processes, you can talk about the unseen benefits of different non-traditional insulation upgrades. That means talking about reducing the air leakage rate, which can be achieved by installing spray foam (or in some cases blown-in-place insulation). Because if you have air leaking through your parka on a cold winter day, your body is intently focused on where that air is coming in, and you could care less about the places where you are warm. Your attention is devoted to stopping that air leakage, right? Well, your house operates the same way. If cold air is leaking around, over, under or through the insulation, the insulation value of the complete home is compromised severely. Unless, of course you install an insulation that will eliminate air leakage in the first place.
Hence the exploding market in spray foams, blown insulation, and countless hybirds. Do they insulate as well as typical batts? Sure they do — in some cases even better. But not so much better they are worth the price difference. But the price difference that is worth paying for is their air-sealing capabilities.
You get to buy a parka that has no air leaks. That’s what blown-in insulation and spray foams do so well: they get into the nooks and crannies, holes and crevices, and plug them up or cover them to stop that dastardly air from leaking into or out of the house!
The homeowner benefits, and so do you
So the next time you meet with your client, talk insulation. Talk first about proper installation, and then talk about the superior air leakage elimination benefits of upgraded insulation.
That is what will make insulation upgrades such an easy sell — it has tangible benefits to the homeowner, and then, of course, to your bottom line!