Sealed and Delivered
April 20, 2023
A generous rebate program has Lakewood-area homeowners insulating their homes and upgrading their heating and cooling systems—with remarkable results
Life costs money.
We’ve all made peace with it.
There’s the mortgage, tuition, insurance, the car, camp, clothing, groceries, and an ever-growing list of expenses that always seem just beyond our means.
And yet, for some reason, the utility bills always get us. Maybe it’s because we take heat and air-conditioning for granted, but opening these bills feels like a punch in the gut again every month. There goes another $500 in the garbage. Wasted money, like a summons for driving 11 miles over the speed limit.
Utility bills have only gone up recently, causing homeowners to feel the heat. But staying left out in the cold isn’t an option, and it’s not like skimping on AC is a feasible solution either.
If that’s not bad enough, many homes don’t even reach or hold the desired temperatures. Whether it’s a new development or the creaking house on the block, too often, families wake up to the bite of cold winter mornings or wrangle with steamy Lakewood summer days.
What can homeowners do about rising AC costs?
For readers fortunate enough to live in the beautiful Garden State, there is a program that has brought relief in recent years.
With winter not yet fully behind us and summer on its way, Jason from Air Seal, among our area’s leading insulation servicers, discusses New Jersey’s Home Performance with Energy Star program and its tremendous impact.
Can you please tell us about this program?
Simply put, New Jersey’s Home Performance with Energy Star offers residents cash rebates and interest-free loans to update the health, comfort, and—of course—energy efficiency of their home. Many have already taken advantage of it, and among those who haven’t, I’d venture to say that most are simply unaware. It’s truly a no-brainer.
What type of upgrades does the program cover?
Everything from air sealing and spray foam insulation upgrades to the replacement of entire heating, air-conditioning, and water-heating systems. It also covers many other health- and safety-related upgrades you may appreciate as a homeowner.
Who funds it and why?
The program is managed by utility companies, but it’s a government-sponsored project designed to increase energy efficiency and protect the environment.
Is there any income threshold?
This is not a welfare program; everyone is eligible if they have decent credit and good standing with their utility provider. Even if they don’t, we can help them get approved. Most applicants are approved for up to $15,000, interest free, without a credit check.
Your company, Air Seal, has performed many of these upgrades. What has the process been like for your clients?
People are continually impressed—even surprised—by how simple and efficient we make it for them. The entire process from the initial call until the work is wrapped up can be completed in a short couple of months. The majority of this time is for “processing”; we prepare and manage the complicated parts and reach out only for the client’s approval a couple times along the way.
Let’s talk money. How much can consumers receive in rebates and zero-interest loans?
The rebates cap out at $5,000 and the seven-to-10-year loans go up to $15,000. I should note that the rebate portion cannot be greater than 50 percent of the total project. So, for example, if you’re eligible for a $5,000 rebate and your total project is $9,600, you will only receive a $4,800 rebate.
In your experience, what motivates customers to take advantage of the program?
The number-one factor is that their homes don’t stay warm in the winter or cool off enough in the summer—aka comfort. Our work transforms a home in ways you wouldn’t believe. Of course, the energy savings are a big part of it, and they more than offset the out-of-pocket costs. You also have to remember that it’s an investment in your home and increases its value. More importantly, if you need to replace your HVAC system (heating and cooling systems in the home), or water heater because it’s dying, what can be better than money off; no money down; monthly energy savings; and modern, efficient equipment? And all of this is done with pre- and post-auditing and/or testing to ensure the highest quality standards.
You mentioned air sealing and the replacement of HVAC and heating systems. Can you elaborate?
We install spray foam insulation to insulate the open spaces around the home, most notably the attic. If people knew how much heat escapes through the attic in the winter and how much heat enters the home in the summer, they’d be shocked.
We also offer services to inspect and insulate other areas of concern, such as crawl spaces and the garage, in order to reduce potential drafts.
With regard to HVAC, we can upgrade and replace the systems around the home to vastly improve their performance in addition to making them more energy efficient. Homes with older systems waste a tremendous amount of energy, and this is the perfect opportunity to upgrade and save.
Are there certain certifications that a firm must have in order to offer the service?
Yes, of course. Our team boasts all the necessary accreditation and certifications, which has made us the preferred choice of savvy homeowners. We are BPI (Builders Performance Institute) certified, which is the industry’s gold-standard certification for home health, safety, durability, energy efficiency, and comfort.
Our team also includes experienced installers, sub-contractors, and auditors who understand the science and engineering behind all that goes into making a home’s systems work, helping them better identify and solve problems.
How do you differentiate yourselves from others in this space?
In addition to our unparalleled qualifications, we expanded our customer service team in order to make the process more efficient—just like the homes we work on. Furthermore, we have performed so many whole-home-efficiency upgrades in all types of homes across the state through this program that nobody can beat our knowledge, expertise, and overall efficiency.
What can homeowners expect the process to be like?
We know that people have a lot going on, so we make it as smooth as possible. When you contact Air Seal, we will arrange an on-site consultation (known as a home energy audit) and handle the entire application process from A to Z (which should only take a week or so) and then schedule the work to be done as quickly as possible.
How long does it take for the work to be done?
After scheduling the work date, installing the spray foam takes just a day or so, and the HVAC work requires an additional day or two—with an impact for years to come!
I should also mention that we don’t leave before ensuring that everything was completed properly. Before we close the project, we send down an expert to perform a test inspection in which we check to make sure the air-sealing work was completed correctly via the use of what is known in the industry as a blower-door test. This tests the building tightness and identifies any potential drafts or leaks. We don’t cut corners; we do everything we can to verify that all work has been done to perfection.
Is it safe?
Yes. All our material adheres to the strictest air quality standards and they are completely safe.
What impact has this program had on local homes?
The most common feedback we receive is “Why didn’t I do this years ago?” Many clients see a large and significant drop in their energy bills.
We have so many customers who tell us what a difference we’ve made. I recall one client who lived in a fairly new development. One hot Shabbos afternoon, their neighbor walked in and immediately marveled at how the home was comfortably chilly while their own AC was struggling all day to keep up. Turns out that the fix was simple and hiding in plain sight all along.”
What message do you have for the community?
Take advantage of this opportunity and you will not regret it. Speak to the people who have worked with Air Seal and hear for yourself.
Our team stands ready to help many more families live comfortably, protect their systems, and save on energy bills. Talk about the perfect trifecta.
I also think it’s important for all homebuyers—whether they’re buying new or used—to know whom to turn to for help. If they need to upgrade their heating, cooling, and water-heating systems, they should reach out to the most knowledgeable whole-home pros in their region. You don’t want to get swindled by someone for a quick buck.
Air Seal can be reached at 732-473-1600 via phone or WhatsApp.
Convenient. Simple. Effective.
The history of spray foam insulation
Nothing describes our instant era as well as the proliferation of spray technologies, ranging from cooking spray to weed killers to spray paint and everything in between.
But few can compete with the impact of spray foam insulation. A process once so burdensome, with panels and fiberglass rolls galore, has been augmented with a simple fix that saves time and money while being extremely effective. The product is made of isocyanate and polyol resin, which react when mixed with each other and expand up to dozens of times their liquid volume after being sprayed in place, allowing virtually no air to filter through.
The proliferation of spray foam insulation spans recent decades, but its origins date back to the World War II era. Developed by an industrial chemist named Otto Bayer, polyurethane foam was at first used mainly for military and aviation purposes as part of the US war effort. It took a decade until the industry realized that it can be used to effectively insulate homes.
Early on, a machine called a blendometer was used to mix the chemicals that would turn into an expanding foam which would harden in place. In those years, the process still required manual work, and the spraying technology was yet to be developed. The advent of machinery and spray nozzles that would mix the chemicals just before dispensing and the significant transformation in making it safe for people took this miracle insulator mainstream and helped solidify it into the prominent insulation solution we enjoy in a variety of applications today. These include the safe packing of fragile items and of course, protecting our homes from the elements outside.