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Illinois Country Living

Doug Rye, licensed architect and the popular host of the "Home Remedies" radio show

Energy Solutions

Building a better wall
Doug found the best wall insulation for existing homes

Over the past couple of years the electric co-ops of Arkansas have held a home makeover contest. In my opinion, the 2008 and 2009 makeover houses were two of the very best examples of how to make existing houses more energy efficient, more comfortable and have lower monthly utility bills. On a scale of 1 to 10, I think both are 10s.

In Illinois, several co-ops got together to build an award winning energy efficiency demonstration wall. It’s toured the country and even helped educate leaders in our nation’s capital. The display wall is interactive with real-world construction and efficiency items. It demonstrates how outside air infiltrates the living area through common problem areas in walls, such as uncaulked seams and uninsulated can lights. The display also showcases various types of energy efficient insulation and lighting.

You may find this hard to believe but I, yes I, “The King of Caulk and Talk,” still learn from these projects. Let me give you an example.

There was no insulation in the exterior walls of the 2009 Arkansas home makeover house except for one room, which had been added onto the original house. It had two-inch fiberglass batts. It was like the millions of houses in our country that need, but have no exterior wall insulation.

I get calls at my office regularly about that problem. Unfortunately, in the past it has been quite difficult to insulate existing walls. While plans were being made on the ways to make the 2009 house more energy efficient, the planners found a product called RetroFoamTM. The name indicates that it is foam for retrofitting. It proved to be a perfect solution for this house.

It was this simple. Two-inch holes were drilled in each stud cavity about four feet from the floor. A flexible hose was then inserted into the hole and pushed down to the floor. A white foam, which has the consistency of shaving cream, was injected in the cavity until the foam started coming out of the hole. The hose was then pushed up into the cavity until it touched the top plate and foam was installed to fill that part of the cavity.

A two-inch plug was then inserted into the hole. It took about two minutes to fill that cavity. It only took a few hours to insulate the exterior walls of the entire house. Because the house was to receive new vinyl siding, we drilled the holes right through the wood lap siding. If we were intending to reuse the existing siding, we would have removed one piece, drilled through the wall sheathing, installed foam and then replaced the piece of siding.

The family told me this past winter that it was like living in a totally different house. Can you imagine the difference?

I have also learned that this can be a great application for brick veneer houses. In this case, small holes are drilled in the mortar joints and foam is injected into the entire airspace behind the brick.

You can go to Doug Rye’s Web site at, e-mail him at, or call 888-Doug-Rye or 501-653-7931. You can also sign up for a free newsletter and order his “how to” videotapes.

Doug Rye, the “Doctor of Energy Efficiency-the King of Caulk and Talk” can be heard on several different Illinois radio stations. Or you can go to his Web site at, e-mail him at, or call 888-Doug-Rye or 501-653-7931. You can also sign up for a free newsletter and order his “how to” videotapes.

For those who enjoy podcasts, you can simply visit the iTunes store and enter “Doug Rye’s Home Remedies” in the search window. You can listen to Doug anytime on your computer, iPod or smart phone.


© 2016 Illinois Country Living Magazine.
Association of Illinois Electric Cooperatives

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