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Building your above grade walls using Insulated Concrete Forms (ICF’s)

September 30, 2013

Advantage ICFWritten by: Colin Showalter
Follow Colin on Twitter @Colin_PlastiFab

As we begin to move into cooler weather, our thoughts turn to the heating season and ways to save on our energy expenses. At Plasti-Fab, we have a variety of different solutions for your insulation needs, but this week we will look to one of the building systems from Plasti-Fab: The Advantage ICF  System®.

Walls built with the Advantage ICF System provide improved energy efficiency that results in reduced operating costs for the life of the building. In addition, since less energy is consumed, related greenhouse gas emissions are proportionately reduced. Today, more than ever, building an energy efficient structure is the right environmental choice and will provide savings in energy costs. So why not continue your high quality, energy efficient ICF basement up through the whole house.

A home built using the Advantage ICF System will make a wall structure more energy efficient and significantly reduce the energy loss compared to a conventional new home constructed using wood stud framing and batt insulation. (The conventional home does not include any Plastispan like Melissa described in the previous blogs.) The graph below provides a comparison of the effective R-value for a wall assembly constructed using the Advantage ICF System versus a wood frame system with R-20 insulation.

Unintentional air leakage can be one of the biggest sources of heat loss in many buildings. Air leakage rates vary widely for different types of construction methods. For example, a 3,900 square foot home (similar to the one shown) using the Advantage ICF System for both above and below grade walls was tested for air tightness in comparison to energy efficient design requirements. The air leakage rate was found to be 0.22 air changes per hour indicating a very airtight structure. This confirms that the solid, continuous insulation wall construction provided by the Advantage ICF System will result in significant reduction in air leakage versus other types of wall construction.

When building your whole house with ICF you increase the R-value and decrease the air leakage of your home. Builders and home owners alike ask me all the time what is the best furnace upgrade they should put in there new ICF house. My response is, “Why would you spend lots of money on a furnace that will never run?”

For more information on Advantage ICFs, visit http://www.advantageicf.com

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