For all the discussions, initiatives, and actions elected leaders, stakeholders, and everyday citizens are engaged in to address and solve our energy challenges, one that everyone should be talking about to reduce energy demands and costs: increase energy efficiency by investing in the building envelope.

The building envelope in any building, be it a home or a small business, can have a massive impact on the overall efficiency, safety, strength, and comfort of the structure. After living through one of the hottest summers on record, with hurricane season upon us, our nation’s power grid under increased strain, and rising energy costs, it is imperative to consider how homes and office buildings in our communities are insulated. Many people don’t often think about insulation, but it is one of the most important aspects of the energy efficiency discussion that you literally can’t see every day.

A green energy plan is only worthwhile if we can ensure that the energy is not wasted when it is delivered to its destination. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, air leaks can waste up to 40 percent of the energy used to heat and cool a typical home. A properly designed building envelope can go a long way to ensure that doesn’t happen. According to one Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) official, optimizing a building’s insulation needs “is the best way to not only make your house more comfortable but also drop your energy bills.” As the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) recently reported, energy-efficient buildings play a vital role in reducing energy costs and emissions.

Innovations in building materials, like spray foam insulation, are having a substantial, and some would say surprising, effect on emissions as it relates to building construction. A new report from the U.S. Department of Energy found that “energy-related building emissions are declining even as the stock of homes and commercial buildings is slated to increase.” The Energy Department attributes this good news, in significant part, to increased building envelope efficiency. In addition, spray foam insulation has been shown to be effective at reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. According to the American Chemistry Council, we could reduce total U.S. GHG emissions by 3.5 percent annually if spray foam insulation is used instead of other products. That is the equivalent of removing 38.9 million vehicles from the road annually.

That is all welcome news for new construction, but the effects that the building envelope can have on our country’s goals of reducing our energy footprint will not fully be realized unless older homes and buildings are retrofitted with the latest in building material technology. The good news is homeowners immediately reap the benefits of their decision once they retrofit their homes. In 2022, the EPA estimated retrofitting homes could cut energy use in half. The Energy Department estimated homeowners could see a $2.78 return in savings for every dollar spent on retrofitting or weatherizing. Innovative building materials, like spray foam, help those who retrofit save up to 15 percent on heating and cooling costs. Congress also incentivized upgrading residential insulation via the 25C tax credits, which allows homeowners to get up to $1,200 to cover the upfront costs of sealing homes with spray foam insulation.

Spray foam insulation can make your home feel “like a Yeti Cooler.” It is the premier all-in-one insulation and air barrier that reduces energy usage, saves money, and provides a solution that addresses our nation’s energy challenges.

The discussions around energy production, pipelines, and grids are warranted, but let’s reduce energy leakage and loss by focusing on our building envelope and the materials that go into our walls and attics as an important part of our larger energy conversation.