A foam-filled home may not sound attractive, but according to Green Apple, it could save you up to 50 percent on your next energy bill. Headed by husband and wife duo Ed and Jo Ann Lozes, who turned their 30-plus years in the contracting world to an insulation alternative for homeowners, Green Apple plugs homes with spray foam insulation. Spray foams are formaldehyde-free, won't attract bugs, mold or mildew, and are eligible for several tax credits and rebates for their abilities to reduce energy use. Visit www.greenapplefoam.com or call (877) 464-7336 for more information.
How were you introduced to spray foam?
Jo Ann: We got into it doing construction on the Gulf Coast primarily, and it wasn't easy finding someone who wanted it done the way we wanted it done, so we decided to do it ourselves.
Ed: In the last two years, seeing utility bills skyrocket and with renovation, especially with old and new homes, the inefficiency of the older type of insulation and the cost of fuel and air-conditioning equipment, we figured there had to be a better answer. We found the most efficient insulation out there is foam insulation. One thing that foam does so much better is seal off the cracks and crevices and encapsulate the house so you have a sealed environment. You have less heat loss, less air loss, and you can downsize the [heating and air-conditioning] equipment needed by about one-third. You have the efficiency of small equipment not running nearly as long, especially in the stressful summer months, so that's where the savings comes: from both the smaller equipment and less energy being used.
What materials compose spray foam?
Ed: The foams are made of two components. One is the blowing agent, which makes it expand. The other is basically resin, a glue. That glue is either made of soybean, sugarcane or the poly. The healthier ones are going to have a higher concentration of soy or sugarcane bases. Poly is basically a petroleum. For insulation purposes, they all work equally well but will have different characteristics.
How does spray foam Improve energy efficiency?
Ed: Energy efficiency has to do with that sealed envelope. You can create that sealed envelope where you don't have all this air escaping, whether it's escaping through the floors or through the attic, the walls, windows or doors. Your A/C isn't exchanging with the air as many times as the outside air influencing the inside air. Using foam insulation is a different concept than the older, standardized insulation. Before you would insulate above your attic line — above the ceiling. You would try to vent your attic. But insulating an attic like that in the summer in New Orleans, temperatures tend to be 125-130 degrees. With the foam system, you're not trying to let any air in, so you're insulating under the roof. Now the air conditioning that's below is influencing the attic, so your air ducts running through the attic are now running through 80 degree temperatures versus 125-130 degree temperatures. It doesn't stress the A/C ducts and air blowing through there.
How do you spray it?
Ed: One machine is a two-part spray. The chemical is heated up, both the resin and blowing agent, and is sprayed on, and in about 30 to 45 seconds it starts to expand. It can be down underneath the house or in the attic, or if it's new construction or a gutted house, we also can do walls. Another machine can go into an existing house. It's a one-part, premixed foam that's pumped in. We have to drill somewhere between a half-inch and an inch-and-a-half hole, usually from the outside, and pump in each cavity. Afterward, if it's weatherboard, we plug with a wooden plug, or if it's brick we drill through the mortar and patch it once it's done. That foam is very green; it's a water-borne resin. There's no mask that needs to be used. It can be washed off your hands with water. It's more of the consistency of a thick shaving cream.
Jo Ann: In a city like New Orleans that has so many older houses, we can do the retrofit without tearing out Sheetrock. So many people think, "My house is already existing. You're going to have to pull all the Sheetrock off all the walls to put foam in them." But this process, you don't even have to touch the inside of the house.