Last Chance to Take Advantage of Tax Credits for Energy Efficiency!

This is a guest post written by Peter Troast. Peter is the CEO & Founder of Energy Circle Pro.


Heads up: on December 31 of this year, the federal tax credit for residential energy efficiency improvements is set to expire. Unless it’s renewed, any energy efficiency upgrades will need to be made by that date in order for homeowners to be eligible for the credit. The tax credit was put into place to help homeowners cover the upfront cost of energy efficient home improvements like insulation, air sealing, windows and skylights, exterior doors and energy efficient appliances — products and upgrades that save money over time, but whose upfront cost can be enough to make many homeowners shy away from them (especially in this economy).


Long story short: if you’re a contractor, make sure that your customers know about the tax credit before it expires. You can be sure that they’ll be thankful. And if you’re a homeowner, make sure you take advantage of the tax credit while you still can: if you’re thinking about having an insulation upgrade soon, be sure to have it done sooner than later.


For insulation and insulating products, the tax credit provides 10% of the cost, capped at $500, provided the insulation complies with the requirements set by the 2009 International Energy Conservation Code.


This table provides details on other upgrades that are eligible for the tax credit:

Energy Circle (Source: Alliance to Save Energy)


So how do you take advantage of the tax credit (or help your customers do so)?

First, go energy efficient: if you’re installing insulation for a customer, make sure it complies with the 2009 International Energy Conservation Code. Check manufacturer’s websites, or the Energy Star website to see if it’s eligible for the tax credit. You can also direct your customers to the IRS Form 5695 (not live on the IRS website soon, but it should be). If you really want to impress them, you could print out the form and give it to them directly. But most of all, be sure to jump on it: homeowners can apply for the tax credit approaching the 2012 tax season, but just remember that installation needs to be complete by 12/31/11.


Moving forward, we can only hope that the tax credit for energy efficiency upgrades will be renewed: it’s a boon for homeowners, manufacturers, contractors and our economy. But if not, don’t fret, there are a number of other tax credits and incentives available, and you can find them all at the Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency.


Insulating Duct Work

Fall is in full swing & winter is fast approaching which means cooler temperatures. Now is the perfect time to prepare for the colder weather and start insulating your customers HVAC duct system. Go ahead and recommend to your customers that insulating their duct system is a great way to keep warm air inside the duct and stop leakage into unwanted spaces such as the attic. Insulating a customer’s duct system will help lower their energy bill$ and keep their room temperatures at comfortable levels without using additional energy to account for leakages.

You can use the North American Insulation Manufacturers Association guide to insulating HVAC duct systems as a reference. Remember, Service Partners can supply all your fiberglass insulation needs when you start helping your customers insulate their HVAC systems.

Home Performance | Energy Audit

In any industry, especially in the home performance industry, it can be sometimes difficult to determine what lingo potential customers are using in relation to your products or services. One of the biggest misconceptions that contractors offering home efficiency & home performance services often make is marketing themselves as Home Performance Contractors. Within the industry between contractors & vendors the lingo has been the two keywords of “Home Performance”. However many homeowners, your potential customers, don’t refer to it that way. They are referring to what we call “Home Performance” as an ENERGY AUDIT. That’s right Energy Audit. The terminology isn’t exactly what you’d probably think they would be describing as “Home Performance” but it is. The average homeowner just has a different way of communicating it.

A great way to show this is by using Google Insights. By using Google Insights we can show the number of searches for specific words by users on the internet within the United States. The graph below shows that Energy Audit is the popular search term compared to the search term Home Performance Contractor since 2004.

Energy Audit = Blue Line

Home Performance = Redline

Search Term Comparsion


Here is another graph that may help you that shows where the highest volumes of searches for Energy Audit are taking place.Volume of Searches for Energy Audit

One of the best sayings in marketing is to Fish in the Ponds with Fish in them. When marketing your organization through various forms of media – print, traditional or online for Home Performance services be sure to use the term Energy Audit in your messaging. You’ll be glad you did.

Insulating Attic Pull-Down Staircase Access

Attic Access Insulation

Insulating an attic access is just as important as making sure it is sealed properly. The big question is how do you go about insulating a pull down staircase? The answer is to construct a light weight movable wooden box that will rest on the entry frame on the attic side. You’ll just need move the box off to the side when entering the attic. The box should rest securely on the frame of the entryway and be roughly 9 inches deep. The length and width of the wooden box will be determined by the size of your entryway. It is recommended that you make and nail a cover for the box that the insulation will be fastened to.

However, it may be a better option to make a platform inside the box where the insulation can rest. This can be done by adding a cross brace within the box near the bottom. Ideally, you should use a type of foam board but a insulation batt will work just as well. Place the foam board or batt within the box or glue it down on top of the cover if you chose to go that route. Finally, you’ll need to make sure the joints of your box are sealed appropriately with weather-stripping or caulk. Once you’ve placed the insulation for the box and sealed the joints you’re all finished and have successfully insulated your customer’s attic pull down staircase entryway.


Service Partners is the largest insulation distributor in North America.  We supply contractors and business with insulation and insulation accessories.

The Attic Accuvent Ventilation System


If you’re a contractor, it is likely that many of your customers are homeowners. Typically, if built correctly, their homes should have attic insulation best suited for their climate. Many of these homes will also have vented soffits to allow for air flow and improved circulation of air within the attic. One issue that arises from these vented soffits is the lack of a wind barrier between the soffit & insulation in the attic resulting in insulation displacement from its original setting. This can contribute to unwanted energy loss. Another dilemma that arises with soffits is that insulation may cover the soffit vent preventing air to pass through which could result in unwanted moisture condensing causing mold & mildew to form due to a lack of air flow.

The question is how do you encourage air flow without disrupting the placement of insulation? Simple, you can place an Accuvent Soffit Ventilation System between the soffit & insulation. Similar to a regular Baffle, Accuvents are easily installed with little effort. Normally, they only take six staples but more may be required depending on each individual house. You’ll need to staple them to the plate and then again to the roof under layer creating a curved shape demonstrated in the image. The Accuvent will block unwanted gusts of wind that would move insulation but also encourage airflow into the attic to circulate the air within to help prevent mold and mildew.