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Please note: this page contains reviews and opinions sent in by Berkeley Parents Net subscribers. Your own experience may be different. Please always check references before hiring!
My name is Christina C. and I am with an environmental non-profit based in Berkeley, Rising Sun Energy Center. We run a summer program called California Youth Energy Services. It's a free service which provides homeowners and renters all around the bay area with a free energy efficiency audit and free energy saving equipments (such as CFLs, clotheslines, and efficient flow showerheads, etc.)
We can do all of this for free because we also hire and train local youth for the summer to become energy specialists and perform this audits. We are funded as a workforce development program for youth.
I am writing because we were hoping to get the support of the Berkeley Parents Network. Hopefully some of you have heard of us or have taken advantage of our services before. If not, we encourage you to come by our office on 2033 Center Street to check out our operation and sign up for a summer appointment!
We also have a new program that we are launching called Smart Solar, which is funded by the city of Berkeley to be an unbiased informational resource for residents who are interested in adopting solar for their homes. I could send you some information on this program as well if you think community members are interested.
Christina C. http://www.risingsunenergy.org/
Looking for ideas on how to handle the crawl space in the roof in our small, 1940s rancher. There is some really old insulation material, and there have been rats...yes. What I'd love to do is have the whole space cleaned out and re-insulated, not just against the weather. Does anyone have a recommendation for this job?
I live in a 2-story 1920's vintage house with hardwood floors, original single-paned windows (floor to ceiling) and a very drafty fireplace. I cannot face another winter of freezing while also paying $500 a month to PGE!
In reading through old posts, I got some great ideas, but I think I need a contractor so ''air seal'' my home. However, I can't seem to find any and one that was recommended a while back doesn't seem to be in business anymore.
Has anyone else done this? Need someone competent to seal cracks in door frames, windows, fireplaces - we have cracks big enough that daylight is visible on multiple sides of our front/back doors and many windows. Tried to weather strip last year but it really didn't do the trick.
Appreciate any advice or recs!! Best- Jessica
We're thinking about getting some attic insulation blown in to our house. We were told it was thin. (We currently have a little insulation (R-11 or so) and know we should get more (R- 30 or so)). If you have had added insulation on top of existing, was it worth it in terms of comfort for you? In other words, besides costs savings, did you actually notice a difference? Home improver
We also insulated our crawl space and that made a HUGE difference - more than the attic insulation did. We did that ourselves about a month before we had the attic insulation done. contact me if you want info on what we did.
The temperature deviation in our house used to follow the outside temp pretty closely (we have a thermometer that shows both inside and outside temperature). Now our house stays between 68 and 72 day and night regardless of how hot or cold it is outside. Cameron
Can anyone recommend a good company or contractor for installing attic insulation? We're not sure if we're going to go with blown in or other. Open to green options. It may be complicated by the fact that we have some old knob and tube wiring up there. Many thanks. Maggie
Everything I read is about increasing temperatures. I have many fans in my home, including 2 ceiling fans. Nonetheless, after hours of trying to air out the house, it was still around 90 last night at 2:00 AM. I have a small home (1050 sq ft) built in 1939. I have a central heating system so I have the duct work in place. I am not sure about insulation but I don't think the house is insulated. What have been people's experiences with insulation vs. central air? I want to get the best bang for my buck. If insulation can keep the house to a reasonable temperature (and will also be useful in the winter) that's great. But my baby and I can't sleep in 90 degrees. Suggestions for HVAC and/or insulation companies also welcome. Thanks! alice
Does anyone have recommendations for a reliable, efficient contractor who can insulate my attic? We don't want blow-in insulation; we need the kind of insulation that you can roll out and then cover it with plywood. Thanks! schafer
(The best R value for attics is R-30 and that is the current code requirement. But some insulation is better than none.)
Regardless of your insulation type, I've got a reference for installation. I'm a licensed building contractor (Berkeley Craftsmen Builders, 510 815 0125) and we've had pretty good service from these companies as subcontractors-- McHale's Environmental Insulation Co. 800 427 9780 and we've used All Season's Insulation, 800 905 7965. Mark
Our PG&E bill was over $700 in December, yet our 2400 sq ft house is still freezing. I would like to find an insulation company that could assess the quality of our existing insulation to see whether the insulation is part of the problem. Our home has 12-ft vaulted ceilings (but no attic), and I speculate that that is why it's so cold. Might it be possible to have the ceilings lowered to create room for additional insulation? I would like to hear about your experiences with improving insulation and any companies or techniques you might recommend. We are wearing 4 layers of shirts plus long underwear, sleeping under layers of down comforters, and using a programmable thermostat to drop the heat significantly at night. - freezing in Montclair
My old house in Oakland has knob-and-tube wiring in the attic with a small amount of old blow-in cellulose insulation. I know I'm losing tons of heat through the attic and would like to improve my insulation situation but have been told that the wiring prevents me from insulating up there. Does anyone know if there is an affordable way to insulate if you've got this old wiring? If not, what to do? New windows, insulate the floor??? Cold and wasting energy
I'm looking for a company that will come to my home to access it for energy efficiency. Why is my daughters room cold and my sons room is not? Do we have enough insulation? What can I do to save money this winter on heating bills... Stuff like that. I called PG&E and they don't do this anymore. Any thoughts out there? Thanks. Carole
We are considering Advanced Home Energy located in Rising Sun Energy Center for home insulation, etc. Anyone had recent experience with them? Jeanne
Has anyone used the subsidized insulation program through Rising Sun Energy Center? Everything I've read about insulation stresses that proper installation is vital to effectiveness, so I'd like to make sure they'll do a reasonably good job before going with them. N.
we have a 1920's house with no insulation and it gets pretty cold during the winter... we are thinking of having foam insulation be inserted in our bedroom only (3 walls). We're wondering if this is expensive and if foam insulation is a smart idea (vs. ripping out the walls which i think is plaster, and putting in regular insulation and then putting new gyp. board back up....). any thoughts? recommendations? thanks. Laura
Another simple alternative is to have cellulose insulation blown in, above and below the fire blocking in the walls. Make sure they also blow it in above and below windows, and above exterior doors. Cellulose insulation is made from ground up newspapers that have been treated with borates to resist insects and mold, and is fire-resistant.
It can be installed from inside or outside. While installing it through the inside walls is a bit messier, it eliminates the chance that your home's moisture barrier will be penetrated and allow rain into your walls.
After you insulate the walls, you will need to repaint (the contractor will plug up the holes, but won't necessarily repaint unless you add it to your contract. There are additives you can add to your paint that will act as a radiant barrier, and reflect longwave heat energy back into your room. (If painted on the outside, it will prevent excessive heat gain from the sun.) Do a Google-search using ''ceramic radiant barrier'' and you will get a couple of companies. This stuff was developed by NASA, and is used to stop heat gain on the space shuttles during re-entry. I have taken some infra-red images of it working, viewable at http://www.cityofberkeley.info/sustainable/buildings/IRimages/interior.html
Feel free to contact me with any other questions.
-- Alice La Pierre, Energy Analyst, City of Berkeley
I just had a wonderful experience insulating the attic in my house. The previous ownerms insulation contractor had done a sub-standard job applying blown-in insulation. The upstairs bedroom had virtually no insulation; it was very hot in the summer and very cold in the winter. Since I wanted to get the job right this time, I was determined to find a capable contractor. I consulted BPN postings on insulation contractors. Several contractors, including one recommended on the site, came to give estimates. I also did Internet searches on insulation types. During the latter process, I found an excellent article, http://homeenergy.org/archive/hem.dis.anl.gov/eehem/00/001112.html, on quality control (or the lack thereof) in blown insulation jobs. I asked all the contractors who had provided estimates about their quality control for blown insulation; none of them had any.
By calling the City of Berkeley and speaking with a very helpful person, named Alice La Pierre, I learned about a subsidized program for attic insulation through Rising Sun Energy Center and its contractor Advanced Home Energy. I couldn't speak more highly of the AHE contractor, Dvir Brakha (510-260-5375), who routinely includes quality control of his jobs. Part of my attic had an access problem that none of the other insulation contractors were equipped to tackle. Dvir not only took the time to competently address this problem, but went beyond what the other contractors proposed to do in insulating the space. He was also a pleasure to deal with. Add to that that Rising Sun has a rebate program, so that a job that normally would have cost $1,100, cost me only $400 and you've got a winner. I am astonished by the impact of effective insulation on the comfort of my house. I knew it would make a difference, but this is like moving into a new house! Joan
I'm planning to have our home insulated within the next 2 months - both batts and blown in cellulose.
For anyone that's had it done - was it worth while? I have a 1 1/2 story cape cod that's just too hot in the winter and too cold in the winter.
I have quotes from a couple contractors and I'm leaning towards McHale Insulation. Has anyone used McHale Insulation? If so would you recommend them?
Any other East Bay insulation contractors people can recomend would be appreciated too. Kimby
The guys who did the work covered everything, did the work, patched the holes (we'll have to put some mud on in three days, and touch up with paint, but that's ok by us), and cleaned up wonderfully. They were very nice and very thoughtful in their attitudes and their work. They did between 600 and 800 sq. ft. of work and charged $1500 all total (inc. tax, materials, clean-up). I came home to a house in great shape and that was worth every penny.
I will warn you that it is peak season for installing heaters, insulation and the like, so you might have to call them a few times for an estimate visit, but they're worth it, IMHO. Avrille
I checked the archives and didn't see anything current for my situation. I'm looking to have my 1500 sq ft, 2 story home insulated and am interested in recomendations for insulation contractors. The house was built in '54 and a bedroom was added to the 2nd floor in the 60's. I want to have insulation blown into the exterior walls and have the attic space/walls on the second floor brought up to R-30. I would also like to have the floor insulated via the crawl space. Has anyone done something similar? Any ballpark estimates regarding cost? Any success or sob stories? Would love any/all feedback...thanks! Kim
Could someone recommend a good and reasonable contractor or company for wall blow in insulation? Thanks
Can anyone recommend someone to install insulation in our 2ft high attic.
There is none there now , but I have concerns about the old style wiring that is
up there. Thanks
We are struggling with decisions as to whether we should rewire our 1942 house so we can blow in insulation or install batting instead. Does anyone have experience with this? A few people said that re-wiring could easily run into five figures because it would involve breaking into the walls, and replastering. Can we safely install batting around the knob and tubes in the ceiling? Any advice would be appreciated. Darcy
We need someone to install fiberglass insulation in our attic. We have lots of head room, but poor access and old knob and tube wiring. We don't know if it is necessary to hire an expert, or whether a handyperson would be sufficient. Any opinions or recommendations?
We have been trying to get insulation installed in our attic, and only one contractor has called back to give an estimate. He was promoting blown-in cellulose insulation vs fiberglass, and the cellulose is half the cost so it is appealing. We live in Oakland and have old knob and tube wiring. The Oakland code allows the insulating material to rest on the wiring once the wiring has been tested, but Berkeley code does not. So what does Berkeley know than Oakland doesn't that we should worry about, and does anyone have advice on cellulose vs fiberglass?
My home is in need of insulation, wall, floor, and ceiling. I'm
looking for recommendations of reputable people who can do this,
especially with minimal damage to my walls. I'm also looking for
experience/advice on installing the wall insulation from the interior
or exterior. I have a stucco house and worry about drilling the holes
on the outside and being able to patch them effectively.
We are looking for an insulation company to possibly insulate an unfinished attic space.
I'm looking for a reliable and affordable person to install insulation--either traditional batting or blow-in--in our attic. any recommendations would be greatly appreciated. thanks, pamela
Does anyone know about installing insulation? What kind to get, where you get it, anything to worry about/watch out for? I was thinking of the kind that comes in a huge roll. Is this something easy to do for a novice? We are thinking of putting insulation between the cross beams on the ceiling of our unfinished basement. The idea is that this will help keep the living & dining room (which are directly above the basement) warmer. Thanks very much!
You need to get something to hold the insulation up into the space between the joists, or it will fall out. They sell special metal bars for this, but you could also use chicken wire, if you didn't mind the work of cutting it. Insulation is not expensive as a one-time investment in your comfort (about $200-300 depending on the size of your house, plus the metal bars). On the other hand, in our climate it may not make that big a difference--heat loss through the roof is quite a bit greater than heat loss through the floor, particularly with a basement underneath.
Basically you roll out the insulation, measure the length you need, cut with a utility blade and staple to the sides of the studs. The insulation goes against the wall and the paper should be facing you. Some insulation is sold in precut lengths. It can be purchased in quantity at Home Depot, among other places. It's rated by an R-value--the higher the number, the more it insulates. I think R-19 is the basic that fits comfortably in a 2X4 stud cavity. If you are placing it between larger studs you can increase the R value. You might want to check and see what's recommended either by code or by PGE. Good luck.
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