Where to start with insulation? There are so many options these days, from Insulated Concrete Forms, Open-Cell Spray Foam, to Fiberglass batts. For starters here are a few links to helpful resources…

Energy Star

Building Insulation on Wikipedia

Owens Corning for homeowners


Our installer of choice, Northwind Insulation

I am not interested in endorsing any specific product I just want people to know what some of the options. However, I do think that you should get/install the best insulation you can possibly afford.

Here’s what I think you need to know:

Insulation is rated based on it’s resistance to heat flow, the R-Value. The greater the R the less amount of air and moisture penetration is possible. You’ll see it listed as R-3. We live in Minnesota, land of extreme temperature change. Getting the highest R-value is important to keep the cold air out in the winter and the hot air out in the summer. According to Energy Star our climate should have R-38 to R-49, here’s their chart.

There is more to come, as time allows.


Unfortunately if you already have an ice dam there isn’t much you can do while there is still snow on the roof. How do you prevent this from happening? Start by removing the snow from their roof as soon as they can. Once spring rolls around there is one big thing you can do insulate! I can’t stress that enough. The ice dam is cause by the heat loss from your home. Insulate your attic as much as you can. If possible update the ventilation. Some of the pre WWII homes you can’t ventilate well if at all.  The insulation is the most important part. For you DIYers go to your local lumber yard and purchase some bats of fiberglass insulation we really like Owens Corning and line your attic. Here is a link to their instructions to insulate your attic.

Otherwise hire a local insulator and they can spray insulation into your attic. Our insulator of choice is Dave Stanton owner of Northwind Insulation in Northfield.

Back in the saddle

Good news! Schmidt Homes is back in the home building game. We are currently building a home on the north side of Northfield and we will be starting another next week on the south side of town. We feel very fortunate to be building again.

These are pics from the home in Liberty Park. Last week we finished insulating.

Here are some maintenance tips from Home-Smart.org

Indoor air quality has become a hot topic as of late with the increase of asthma and allergies amoung our young population. There are some simple things that you can do.

To learn more check out the EPA’s A Guide to Indoor Air Quailty.

This guide outlines the causes for indoor polluntants and lists out soluntions to reduce toxins in your home.

One of the easiest ways to improve the air circulation in your home is simply by opening the windows when you can or turning on exhaust fans. Another easy trick is to purchase a HEPA air filter. It saved me when I lived in the dorms in college. Weatherizing your home will help, changing furnance filters will help, cleaning out duct work, all those little things help improve your air quality.

On Nation’s Building News Online they talk about the energy tax credit is back for home owners for 2009!

This is one of the more difficult green principles to describe. Site management focuses on things like containing the site and ensuring that things like storm water run-off doesn’t leave your property all the way to having an aesthetically pleasing piece of property. This can also encompass purchasing products for your project from local sources to support the local economy. You can argue that the total amount of energy consumed by the building structure will also have a direct impact on the community at large.

Some strategies to improve your site and community impact of your home is to build a rain garden, use rain barrels, plant drought resistant plants, buy local products, reduce your over carbon footprint, etc.