As an industrial writer, I run across case studies and case histories for companies I work with all the time. Most of the time I take those with a grain of salt, figuring a company isn’t going to tout a case study when their product didn’t work.
So I was intrigued when I was asked to write a story about Profoam, the company that made spray polyurethane foam the industry standard when it comes to insulation, soundproofing, and structural integrity.
You see, I live on the second largest lake in Texas, Lake Livingston, which is nestled in the deep East Texas Piney Woods, about 90 miles north of Houston. It gets hot here and very humid. There’s a saying in these parts that we have three seasons here: summer, winter, and August. And being on the water, it also gets very cold here in the winter. Not North Dakota cold, but for those of us in the South, temperatures in the 20s are something we never get used to.
My reason for explaining where I live, and why I was intrigued by the writing assignment is simple. When I moved up here from Houston three years ago, the first thing I noticed was that my home, most of which is about 10 feet above ground on risers, got unusually hot in the summer (even with two central A/C units) and too cold in the winter. And my electric bills in summer, winter, and August were higher than those I had in Houston, where I had a much bigger house.
So the first thing I did was to research how I could more efficiently heat and cool the house without going broke. After intensive research, I chose a company that used a method I was not familiar with, but judging by the testimonials I saw, had a product which would fit the bill.
That company I found was a spray foam insulation company, an independent company who uses Profoam products, years before I knew what they really did or that I would be writing about it. And I have to say, I can now be one of those formerly anonymous people (Jeff M. from Texas says, “It works great!”) who can personally attest to the results.
My electric bills dropped in half. The house stays warm in the winter, cool in the summer, and heavenly in August.
And there were a couple of other things I hadn’t counted on. My house is much quieter now. We have a public boat ramp across our cove, and previously when boats would launch (especially early in the morning when the bass fishermen leave for their daily runs), the sound of the boat motors would permeate the house like a screeching cat. Not anymore. And where there used to be squeaks and grunts in the walls and floors above the previously un-foamed areas, there was now blissful silence.
So how does it work, and aside from those I mentioned above, what are the benefits of spray polyurethane foam (SPF) insulation?
Well, to start, think of the old traditional methods of insulation: rolled batting, blow-in cotton and fiberglass, or even radiant paint. While those methods were popular before SPF came into existence, they all had their own set of problems, the biggest ones being moisture (which causes mold and a host of other problems), and inability to last more than a few years . . . meaning you had to reinsulate at a significant expense.
SPF is different, starting with the moisture-resistance. Most damaging moisture within a structure is the result of warm moist air being exchanged with the cold dry air inside an insulation-filled cavity. As the moisture in the warm air contacts a cold surface, it condenses and forms dew within the insulation.
Because Profoam SPF doesn’t allow the exchange of air within the cavity, the movement and condensation does not occur. Voila! No moisture means no internal mold. This is especially great for people who have allergies and asthma. Another good thing about spray foam insulation is the fact that it is extremely beneficial for use in climates where buildings are both heated and air-conditioned (like, say, on a Texas lake, perhaps) because the situation is reversed from winter to summer and moisture can form on the back of the interior vapor retarder if fiberglass insulation was used.
Another thing that impressed me when they were here to spray was the fact that no venting was needed, unlike old legacy insulation methods. With Profoam SPF, no air can enter into or through the product because it’s a solid cellular plastic. And if no air or moisture gets in, there is no need for a vent.
One item that I was concerned about when doing my research was environmental impact. Not just because I live on a pretty pristine lake, but because I know that certain types of old insulation had problems (anyone remember asbestos?), and I wanted to make sure that what I was getting was safe for my family as well as all the birds and wildlife around me.
Profoam SPF doesn’t contain any formaldehyde or CFCs. It uses a new generation of environmentally friendly ingredients. As a side note (for others who are concerned with the environment), because of the superior insulating capabilities, heating and cooling demands are dramatically reduced (along with your electric or gas bill), and that reduces the amount harmful emissions from power plants down the line.
So even though savvy home buyers have become aware of the advantages, payback times, and investment value of home energy efficient measures, I had to see for myself. And after three years, I’m still amazed that I can walk into my house from the 100-degree exterior heat and relax in 72-degree comfort. I’m even more amazed that my electric bills remain half of what they were before spray foam insulation was installed, in winter and in summer (and August). It paid for itself in electric bill savings in a little over a year, compared to a new (or in my case two) high-efficiency HVAC units, which would have taken an average of 8 ½ years to recoup.
As a former non-believer in testimonials, now I am one.
And that’s cool (pun intended).
Find out why spray foam insulation is right for your home. Click here to get Profoam’s free “Seal in the Savings” guide to help you weigh the costs and benefits.
About Jeff Miller: Jeff has been writing professionally for 40 years, with most of that experience in oil and gas. Three years ago, he sold his place in Houston and moved permanently to Lake Livingston, just north of Houston where he and his wife enjoy their energy-efficient lake home. Between catching fish and swimming, sometimes he even still writes.