December 6, 2013
We are well into the heating season for many areas of the country. And recently we talked about
a clean and tune; the annual servicing of your heating equipment. This can be done at any point in the year but some of us wait to the last minute to do it. Some sign on with a service agreement so they don’t have to think about it.
Efficiency is a big part of getting your furnace or boiler running in top shape, but it’s important to check equipment attached to flues or chimneys to ensure that they are actually drafting properly. The bird nest built over the summer in this home in Allentown Pa caused a lot of problems for the residents, in particular potentially lethal levels of Carbon Monoxide.
Consider a BPI certified contractor capable of doing testing needed to ensure the worst case doesn’t happen. Make nesting for the winter comfortable and safe!
November 22, 2013
This image is a classic one, and even though it’s titled the First Thanksgiving, it wasn’t called that then or immediately afterwards. The Pilgrims likely didn’t dress like that nor did the Wampanoag wear feather headdresses as shown. Those Europeans were likely in rough shape happy with a first harvest, but they were by all accounts outnumbered almost two to one by their guests. The holiday as we know it came to be under the Lincoln Presidency in the 1800’s not 1623 as portrayed in this painting from 1914.
This holiday is one of my favorites because of the food and family, and I encourage all to enjoy it to its fullest The painting is lovely but doesn’t really tell the story, its much like other ways we sell ourselves short.
A clip board energy audit done in 15 minutes or a form can be filled out online. This is sort of like this painting, it might look nice, but it might be wrong or misleading. To really know what is going on you need to be there, which is exactly why we like to spend time in your home inspecting the attic, the heating and cooling system and other areas up close and personal.
I’m sure there wasn’t an energy audit done while they were celebrating for three days. It’s likely they ate well, largely thanks to their guests. But I bet they wished there was someone that could really help with comfort issues.
Photo in the public domain from the Library of Congress
November 20, 2013
There are plenty of things to consider for Thanksgiving, like making sure you thaw out the bird properly, and cook it at the right temperatures. And some guests may have food allergies as well so it’s always good to ask.
Food aside, there are other concerns, and ventilation is an important one. People need it and so do homes. Over the holidays it can get stuffy with so many people visiting, but if your home is that way without guests, you suffer from high humidity or poor air quality, maybe it’s time to do something about it. An assessment is a good place to start. It’s nice to have ventilation systems in place all the time not just for the holidays.
One specific kind of ventilation, exhaust fans in kitchens, help us by removing smoke and odors, and especially if you’re cooking with gas, carbon monoxide. While it’s not smart to use a grill inside, most people forget that their gas stove is a source for Carbon Monoxide; cooking a turkey in a hot stove for hours without exhausting the kitchen could put your family at risk for CO poisoning, and that is worse than burning the bird!
November 12, 2013
I’m not talking about the Oliver Twists of the world, but the orphans I’m referring may be in your home, in closets, basements and garages.
What I’m referring to is something our advisors come across in an energy audit on a regular basis, an orphaned appliance; usually it’s a naturally drafting water heater. It means that the small flue that comes off of the orphaned appliance runs to a larger chimney that used to share another combustion appliance with. Without the larger one to help, the orphaned appliance can struggle to draw properly.
In fact it may not draw at all, which means the unhealthy combustion gasses will enter your home instead of exit it, that can be dangerous.
This is why it is so important to have a professional test the health and safety of equipment in your home as well as test the home itself and how it can influence the equipment. Not every heating technician does this on a regular seasonal tune up. Our energy advisors check for carbon monoxide in the equipment and throughout the home. We check how fans and doors in the home interact with the area combustion appliances live. We keep an eye out for orphans every day do every day as BPI certified auditors. There’s much more to a comprehensive energy audit than energy!
Help these orphans and help make your home a safer one!
Orphan flyer picture: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AOrphan_train_flyer.jpg
November 4, 2013
In October I spent some time talking about Energy Action Month, something close to us at GreenHomes America. October is a hard month since there are a number of great campaigns happening. One of our locations, General Air Conditioning was participating in something they’ve been involved in for quite some time: Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
Since 2008 the troops at General Air Conditioning have supported and donated over $25,000 in the fight of breast cancer. Much of their support has gone to the Desert Cancer Foundation since 2010. They work to support the DCF mission which is to help under- and uninsured men and women get the cancer screenings, ultrasounds, MRIs, and biopsies that they need, as thousands of Americans are unable to pay for the exorbitant costs of cancer treatment. The Desert Cancer Foundation has been raising awareness and funds for cancer in the Coachella Valley since 1994, and General Air Conditioning is proud to be a supporter of the foundation.
Everyone at GreenHomes America wishes to thank our partners in the Coachella Valley for their dedication and public service. Breast cancer is something recognized and fought all year round. For those supporting and battling breast cancer, we greatly admire you for your courage
Visit the General Gives Back page for more information about their story.
October 30, 2013
Reduce, Reuse and Recycle, the call for environmental responsibility, is well known.
The demonstration home in San Diego, I’ve been discussing over in the last few months, has been a great success allowing GreenHomes America partner ASI Hastings to show, as well as tell, their community of the great work that can be done in their homes tackling these R’s in particular the first one Reduce.
We’ve talked about some of the high efficiency equipment they installed, some of the exterior improvements which helped to reduce water usage, but a homeowner can reduce their usage simply by improving the building itself. GreenHomes America locations combine building improvements with equipment improvements for a win-win situation.
This is exactly what ASI Hastings did, they insulated the walls, attic and air sealed the home. By insulating and reducing the amount of uncontrolled airflow in the home they reduced what the home’s systems needed to produce for comfort.
October 28, 2013
Its Energy Action month this month and soon will be Halloween. In the past we’ve talked about zombies, and vampires , witchcraft, and Trick or Treat but never about ghosts!
Armed with ghost buster-esque diagnostic equipment our advisors go from home to home looking for abnormal signs as part every energy assessment.
Sometimes we don’t need fancy equipment, but usually need a strong understanding of building science. Seeing patterns on walls revealing the framing are great signs. So are spider webs. Spider webs can reveal air flow. Spiders, looking for a meal, often set up shop where dinner might fly by. Leaks to the outside can be doorways and death traps for insects.
The ghosting pattern in the picture is often caused by a lack of insulation and moisture in the home. With the right conditions, dirt collects on these under insulated surfaces. Not only is there an insulation issue, the moisture can lead to more than dirt, there could be mold growth eventually.
Don’t be too scared, we’ve got some good solutions. Give us a call we can help bust those ghosts, as well as other creatures lurking in your home!
photo courtesy of Energy Efficent Solutions http://www.greenhomesamerica.com/locations/172-energy-audit-and-energy-assessments.aspx
October 24, 2013
Nothing like learning from our experiences or mistakes is there? Becoming aware of our energy use, naturally leads to finding ways to reduce that usage. In celebration of Energy Action month you could really geek out on some resources out there like this from the National Academy of Sciences, But to make it relevant and to “bring it home” consider a home energy assessment.
A good energy advisor will be able to help you in your energy awareness right where it matters most. Look for an assessment of your home that also provides solutions you can act on, not just a list of problems. Awareness is a great start, and embracing the learning experience with action is putting the right foot forward and that is what October is all about.
October 22, 2013
You should get your furnace (or boiler) checked at least once a year (more if you burn oil) to make sure that it is operating safely and efficiently.
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure as they say. Preventive maintenance can help ensure that your furnace runs when it needs to. You would be surprised how many service calls we get in the northeast on the first cold days of the year. There is a spike in calls when we experience a deep cold snap too. This of course is not the time you want your furnace to go down!
By the end of September in the northern US, many contractors start getting backed up with service calls as you may have discovered if you tried to schedule one in the last few months. As you head south, that shifts from October to even December (OK, Palm Springs doesn’t get backed up in heating season, which is why I for one, hope to visit!).
Get that furnace tuned-up BEFORE heating season kicks in and if it has in your neck of the woods, before it really gets cold!
October 16, 2013
These government posters from WWII urged homeowners to do their part, but I think they still apply today, maybe a little differently though. The War is against inefficiency and a fight for comfort.
Vacation at home if you like, and make sure you and your dog are comfortable. Maybe what you save from the travel can go towards comfort improvements at home. Plan for winter now, I like that any time is a good time to winterize or summarize your home.
Carpooling is great, especially if you get to use that special lane on the highway! Sharing resources is a good idea and so is reducing your fuel use. It doesn’t mean we need to sacrifice though. Home Performance is fighting the good fight right here on the Home front.
Take action, stay cool, stay warm, stay comfortable!