May 22, 2013
This was a topic at national conference recently and a very relevant one. As we respond and react to the terrible tragedy in Oklahoma I urge you to consider what it means to you and your home.
The “opportunity” to rebuild thinly veils the great loss that has occurred and my heart goes out to those in need. Let us also take this “opportunity” to make those homes better and all of ours.
Our homes should be safe places and while some natural disasters cannot be avoided no matter the type of building, it is important to consider saftey first. For those homes that survive events like this or Hurricane Sandy, the ability to weather the storm longer is, in my mind, the strongest argument for energy efficiency.
Properly sheltered from the elements, a well insulated and air sealed home lasts longer in the extreme heat or cold. Energy efficient lighting and appliances and their reduced load are better suited for alternative power supplies such as battery back-up or generators.
Take this “opportunity” to help now, here are some resources, and help plan for the future too.
May 13, 2013
You should get your furnace and AC serviced annually to make sure they’re operating safely and efficiently. And we find it’s best to do that with a regular service agreement. Hopefully this will prevent problems before they happen. Some things a technician will check as we go into the cooling season are:
Evaporator and condenser air conditioning coils. Dirty coils reduce the system’s ability to cool your home and cause the system to run longer,
Refrigerant level: Too much or too little refrigerant will make your system less efficient increasing energy costs and reducing the life of the equipment.
Blower components should be cleaned and adjusted to provide proper system airflow for greater comfort levels. Airflow problems can reduce your system’s efficiency by up to 15 percent.
These fixes are part a good service visit, but is it’s a good idea to inspect and change air filters on a monthly basis and that is something you can do.
Most of our locations offer our service agreement customers a discount on both service and replacement since we can schedule them before the busy season. An ounce of prevention can help your system run better and help you stay cool.
May 6, 2013
A fairly comprehensive list of ailments sufferable from your very own home was posted in this article.
It is disheartening to read that more than “30 million homes have significant health problems, according to the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. More than 20 million housing units have a lead-based paint hazard. And more than 6.8 million homes have radon exposures above the level at which remedial action should be taken, as determined by the EPA.”
Building materials, new and old can affect our indoor air quality. Moisture can lead to problems as well especially when it helps foster the growth of mold. Lead is still an issue in older homes, and carbon monoxide, one of our regular topics is also a concern.
How in the world do you keep track of all of this? Certainly knowledge is power. Learning more about hazards can help you avoid them. We’ve had numerous posts on CO, information in our learning center and there are other resources as well such as the EPA.
One quote from the same piece that I really appreciated was this: In our cars, we have oil and check engine lights,” says Rebecca Morley, executive director of the National Center for Healthy Housing. “There’s no such light for a house.” This is true, and one of the reasons why an energy assessment of your home that is focused on health and safety is so critical. It can be like a check engine light going off, then its’ just a matter of finding a mechanic to fix it.
April 17, 2013
We’ve posted about CO in the past. It comes up in the news too often, and it is something we should all be concerned about. A case in Aspen, Colorado is moving to trial following the death of a family due to carbon monoxide poisoning.
The Aspen Daily News reported that According to the lawsuit, the boiler’s exhaust piping was disconnected, because it had been “neither properly primed, glued or sealed and was not securely attached, supported or braced in any way.” They also found that the vent to pull fresh air in was not connected to the outside so it only recirculated CO in the home.
This seems like gross negligence, and the reason why installers need to be certified, as well as why codes are in place. Even with this, systems fail when they are not maintained.
- Install a CO monitor and check it annually much like a smoke detector.
- Have your combustion appliances checked regularly.
- Regular HVAC service calls are important.
- Even better have a BPI certified auditor assess your home. It is part of a very thorough inspection of not only water heaters, furnaces and boilers, but also gas ovens and fireplaces, some things HVAC technicians may not normally inspect.
April 3, 2013
Winter is past and we are gearing up for round two of our exterior insulation Deep Energy Retrofit project in New York. there was a feature in the NEWS , check it out!
As the weather gets nicer, we often consider new siding and new windows, it also may be time to consider new insulation. Any time is a good time to improve R values and reduce air leaks. If going extreme is not what you are prepared to do with a full exterior retrofit, consider that if siding is being replaced it is a great time to blow in dense packed fiber insulation.
If you are in the Syracuse, NY area and want to know more about what we are doing call us! 315-474-6549 or check out our website http://greenhomesamericacny.com/
April 2, 2013
ABM, GreenHomes America’s parent company, helped the US Navy celebrate the 1st EV Charging Station to be installed at a US NAVY site on the West Coast.
Great to see charging stations going up in all areas. Vroom!
March 18, 2013
We often preach “reduce first” as the sensable approach for homeowners who are looking at installing expensive renewable energy. It just makes sense. If it costs a lot to install solar panels, make your home more efficient first reducing the number you need, and then install less of them! Same goes for heating and cooling equipment. Reduce the need for cooling or heating and install a smaller unit.
As reported by KCET, one town in California may be looking at mandatory solar panels on every roof. Lancaster CA, a city of 160,000, is one of the top three cities for generating solar. Clearly it’s an area that has succeeded with solar as you would expect in such a sunny place.
Using solar to help reduce energy costs for lighting, water heating, and air conditioning is all well and good, but there are some simple steps to take first. Improvements such as adding efficient lighting, reducing air leaks and increasing insulation go a long way and cost far less. Our GreenHomes America folks in Fresno, Hayward, San Jose, Los Banos, and San Diego, know that, how a home performs matters a great deal, and they know solar too.
I vote for mandatory common sense with a side order of solar!
image from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sun
February 26, 2013
If you could reduce your energy bills by more than 50% would you? In Syracuse, New York, our office has been working on ways to excel at making your home more energy efficient. Call it Home Performance on Steroids, an Extreme Energy Makeover or Deep Energy Retrofit, it is a new tool in our tool belt to increase comfort and save energy in your home.
As part of a research project for NYSERDA, GreenHomes America has been experimenting with “kicking it up a notch” as Emeril would say. Last summer in our top secret labs (we had to park a truck elsewhere) we spent some time fine tuning ways to improve homes above and beyond what we usually do.
The projects from this fall and early winter have gone great, and the Steroids metaphor sounds good but really, these results have been achieved with honest hard work, side effect free! I will be talking more about these projects as well the benefits of Deep Energy Retrofits in future posts. Stay tuned!
February 18, 2013
As we look to improve our homes and the air in it, taking control of the airways are very important. Come wintertime, we often struggle with comfort in more ways that just staying warm. Sometimes it gets dry too. People tend to be comfortable with humidity levels a little higher than what is ideal to prevent condensation issues and mold growth.
Winter brings dryer air and a home that is more porous than it should be brings that air inside. Keep in mind that our homes are like chimneys. They are smoke stacks drawing from low and exhausting out high. When exceptionally dry air is brought into our homes it tends to make us uncomfortable. The quick fix solution is to slap a humidifier on the duct work. Voila! Comfort!
This can come with a price, maintenance for one. If you don’t keep that unit clean it can become a breeding ground for mold and bacteria. Just the sort of thing you don’t want attached to the air distribution system in your home, sort of like building over a stinky damp crawlspace.
Sealing up air leaks in your home will help control moisture by reducing much of the dry air entering in the first place. If you still need humidification then keep the unit clean and monitor humidity levels. Excessive condensation on windows, and mold growth in wintertime are signs that you might have too much moisture in the air. Take control of your airways and manage moisture too!
February 11, 2013
Sometimes it’s the simple things that can be done to make your home a healthier and safer one. Bath fans help move a great deal of moisture out of the room and are a really good idea. But where the moisture goes next is just as important.
Not quite far enough
A ten minute shower can use 16 gallons of water or more, and generate a great deal of steam. It’s not good to leave all that moisture to accumulate on the walls and ceiling in a small room since it can lead to odors as well as mold growth.
So we fire up the fan and it hums away pulling moisture out of the room to…..the attic? It seems pretty simple, but it needs to go to the outside. Often vents end up in the attic or even worse, buried in insulation or a wall and stop there. Every exhaust fan in a home needs to vent to the outside.
Maybe your mirror won’t fog up if it vents to the attic, but moisture will build up elsewhere. Rotting out the roof or growing mold in the attic isn’t any better! Ice dams and roof damage should not be part of your ventilation strategy!
Bath fans can help the whole house too, and I’ve written about it in the past in taking control of the airways. Ventilation is important in our homes, make sure excess moisture gets outside!