Author Archive

The things you find out in the garage, part 3: it’s not the makings of good indoor air

May 23, 2014

We’ve talked about the bad venting set up for this furnace and water heater and also about what it sits on in past posts. I’m not quite done with indoor air quality, and I’d like to draw your attention to another area of the duct work that is right out in the open.air leak insulation
While we look at this system in the garage, you can see that there was an attempt to insulate and to seal the duct work. The un-faced fiberglass wrapped around most of the duct work is stained in a number of places. This would be from the garage air being drawn into the system every time it runs. The mystery regarding duct tape is why we call it that, since it doesn’t seal ducts and It was on parts of this system.
Keep in mind that all of the observations were just from the garage, the area of the home you mayduct tape leaks walk through every day. Never mind what we found in the attic.
The happy ending to this story is that this homeowner was given a list of solutions to the problems we found. With a new system, measures were taken in the home as well that will mean lower energy bills, better comfort, and most important of all a healthier and safer home.

Thanks,
Jason

Quality time indoors isn’t quality for some

May 15, 2014

We spend much of our time indoors in this country. For those who suffer from Asthma this can be a problem especially when our indoor air can trigger attacks. I’ve been talking about Asthma Awareness this month, and  I want to draw attention to some triggers in more detail.

trucks outside home

Improving a home with insulation and air sealing brings more than comfort and energy savings.   It can reduce the amount of dust generated as well. Shutting down pathways to the outside can help reduce other pests and the influence of the outside as well. Sometimes the great outdoors isn’t so great for those of us who suffer from Asthma.

Air sealing can reduce connections to other spaces as well, such as your garage where chemicals and fuels are kept.   It can also reduce connections to crawlspaces and basements where things can get moldy.

Consider an energy audit as a way to help increase the quality of your indoor air.

Thanks,

Jason

The Things You Find Out In The Garage: Part 2

May 7, 2014

Last week I showed you a venting system that wasn’t quite right, P1060856and mentioned the importance of having a certified technician review your HVAC and water heating systems. I wanted to cover a few more issues we discovered.

An important part of heating and cooling air is getting it to and from the home. This is what duct work is all about. In this system’s case, the plenum, or box where the return air from the home comes back to the furnace, also acts as a platform for this furnace and water heater to sit on.
Because it is where the furnace draws the air from the home, it is as you might imagine, connected to the inside of the house. And, as you can see in the second picture where the technician is looking into this plenum, there is a nice structural chunk of pressure treated wood, concrete floor and some moisture damage.
Pressure treated wood probably isn’t the best thing to have in your duct system, nor is dry rotted plywood, and this plenum is very much a part of the duct system.P1060858
It’s also not sealed. That means the garage is connected to the duct system and, therefore, to the home. Indoor air quality is important, and it should start with the air handling system. Stay tuned till next time!

Thanks,

Jason

Retrofit For Health? Why Yes!

May 7, 2014
P1060496

Hard to breathe? One of our advisors after working in an attic!

Remodeling and home improvement is done for many reasons but health doesn’t usually come to mind first, but maybe it should. This is Asthma awareness month , indoor air quality and health seems a fitting subject.

It may not be clear why some suffer from Asthma, but reducing triggers can sure help make it more manageable. It just so happens that some of those triggers are the same concerns we have in everyone’s home.   Dust, mold, by products from combustion, and chemicals stored in the home can all cause problems.

We’ve talked about it in the past and improving the indoor environment may help you keep the outdoors out since that can be a trigger too.

Breathe easy in an efficient, safer and more comfortable home, your home. Click here for more information.

Thanks,

Jason

A warm welcome to our newest locations! Buckeye, Boehmer and Tom’s!

May 1, 2014

This year we’ve spread our reach across the country, allowing us to help serve even more customers with three new locations joining our network!

new locations

Buckeye Heating and Cooling joins us from Columbus, Ohio. “We are thrilled to be a part of the GreenHomes organization,” said Brad Wentz, President of Buckeye Heating & Cooling. “We are proud to be able to offer Home Performance services to the Columbus region and provide homeowners with solutions to help lower energy bills and improve overall comfort and safety in their homes.” It is great to have them on board!

Out of the Dallas/Fort Worth area of Texas, Tom’s Mechanical is gearing up for cooling season and helping homeowners with more than their systems as a GreenHomes America franchise partner. “Above all, Tom’s Mechanical is committed to ‘doing the right thing’ for our customers and employees,” said Rich Ashton, President of Tom’s Mechanical. “By joining the GreenHomes America network, we can now offer even more home solutions for our customers. I couldn’t be happier about this next chapter for our company.

From the Pittsburgh Pennsylvania area I also want to welcome Boehmer Heating and Cooling. “We are a reliable and friendly company, dedicated to fulfilling our customers’ requirements for their homes,” said Steve Boehmer, co-owner of Boehmer Heating and Cooling. “As a GreenHomes America contactor, we are thrilled to also offer our customers Home Performance solutions. We look forward to providing homeowners with solutions to help lower their utility bills and improve the comfort and safety in their homes.”

GreenHomes America looks forward to assisting our latest locations help homeowners improve their homes, making them safer, more efficient and comfortable in the process. I encourage you to reach out them and see how they can help you!

 

Thanks,

Jason

The Things you Find out in the Garage

April 28, 2014

While visiting one of our locations, Young’s Air conditioning in Los Banos, I had the pleasure of joining their auditor on the discovery of a unique furnace venting arrangement. As you might imagine with combustion equipment, unique is not really a good thing.P1060853
To the untrained eye, this arrangement might look fine, everything’s connected after all. But even from a distance, this furnace and water heater set up, to even the slightly trained eye, looked wrong because…well it was.
Two exhausts into one may be ok if it is sized right and pitched correctly, but here is a natural draft water heater and a power vented “sealed combustion” into the same flue.
Power vented appliances are also called direct vent, implying they are directly vented to the outside, and should be, on their own.
IP1060852’m in awe over the connection where the PVC (used for lower temperature exhaust) is TAPED into the metal connector (high temperature exhaust) of the 6” flue.
Making sure combustion equipment is set up properly is only the beginning. Having certified and trained people to install and assess that equipment is important. Our advisors are BPI-certified for this reason.
I’ve got more to share, till next time.
Stay safe!

Jason.

Low Hanging Fruit and Big Watermelons

April 18, 2014

That was how Philippe Benoit, the head of the International Energy Agency, described the perception of achieving energy efficiency versus what it’s often like. Suggesting that people feel they are not plucking a ripe apple off a tree but having to lift a heavy watermelon when it comes to fixing their homes in order to make them energy efficient. Alfred_Sisley_031
The BusinessWeek article also quoted him as saying “It’s perceived as boring and intangible, and the combination of the two makes it more difficult to understand. It’s much easier for people to understand putting solar panels on their roof and seeing the kilowatt-hours they generate than putting insulation in their home and noting the savings in energy consumption.”
My great grandfather was a farmer in the Midwest. As a kid, my father would visit the farm with siblings and cousins and they would all go out to the fields with grandpa where the watermelons were. I imagine it seemed like quite a walk when you were young. The mission was to bring melons back for later, to share with the family, but somehow, my great grandfather managed to drop every time on the walk back. “Well…” I can imagine him saying, “guess we’ll have to eat that one here.”
Solar panels are a great technology and for many make sense, but they are only part of a larger solution for you at home. At the risk of adding another food metaphor, they should be the icing on top of the cake, the cake being a well insulated and air-sealed home, designed to provide the fresh air you need, and having efficient heating and cooling systems inside.

Watermelons are only big and unwieldy when they are whole. Breaking them up makes light work of what seemed like a big task. And there’s nothing more satisfying with sharing the rewards of your labor with your family immediately. Maybe we can’t make energy efficiency flashy and exciting, but the fruits are worth the effort, GreenHomes can help.

 

Thanks,

Jason

Image of Alfred Sisley painting from http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Alfred_Sisley_041.jpg

Are you Spring Cleaning and Considering your Ductwork? Ask why First!

April 7, 2014

Having your ductwork cleaned can be a good thing. With the arrival of spring some of us throw open the windows and start cleaning everywhere, but it’s probably best to find a pro for ducts. They have the right equipment and training to do a thorough job.

If you think the ductwork in your home needs a tune up, it pays to do a little homework first and ask why. Are they musty or dusty? Do they go through a crawlspace, basement or attic? Will you be fixing the problem or just a symptom?old duct uninsulated no airseal (3)
Duct cleaning is not a cure all, and in some cases, unsubstantiated claims are made from contractors taking advantage of our fears of mold and poor indoor air quality. Some unscrupulous contractors present pricing so high that for the same price you could get a new set of ducts installed instead! I’d suggest finding someone who understands that ductwork is part of a house as a system. In other words choose a home performance contractor to do the work, since cleaning ducts won’t help if they constantly pull dirty air from attics and crawlspace every time they run. That’s treating the symptom and not the problem.

Take a look at what the EPA has to say and do it for the right reasons, and have them cleaned knowing you are doing the right thing!

Thanks,
Jason

Can you see that? Contact lenses of the future see infrared?

April 2, 2014

It sounds like science fiction, but having contact lenses that would see infrared might be a great thing for our energy auditors. I’m not sure how soon technology like that will be available, but IR imaging is something our advisors use often.IR_0538
Many of us use infrared on a daily basis. TV remotes for example use an IR beam we can’t see with the naked eye. A TV remote is not the same spectrum as our cameras pick up, so don’t try and do an energy audit with one.
Thermal cameras were tried briefly in professional baseball; focused on the strike zone they picked up the heat of the ball. It’s this kind of technology that can help an auditor.
IR is useful to see cold or hot spots on a wall that should be insulated, or maybe moisture damage that has gone unnoticed. It can also be combined with a fan run in the home to show air flow issues. The picture shows warm air making its way into a home from an attic hatch.
Building science, not science fiction is how we approach our audits. But, if someone wants to send out a pair of contact lenses, I’ll give them a try. Even just one may be too Sci-Fi to see everything in infrared.
Thanks, Jason

Don’t eat your Boots

March 24, 2014

For those in the eastern part of the country, experiencing record breaking cold temperatures and another round of storms, you may be wondering if the continent has shifted north to the arctic, or if winter will ever go away. To cheer myself up, I’ve been reading a book called “The Man Who Ate His Boots: The Tragic History of the Search for the Northwest Passage” by Anthony Brandt. Winter doesn’t seem so bad anymore, nor does Spring.

Wintering over in the arctic at -30F with your ship frozen in the ice just so you can go further North when it thaws seems… kind of crazy. It’s not for me, but what I did find fascinating with this history, was the ingenuity that came from these voyages over two centuries ago and how little it transferred to home.

One explorer, Captain Parry spent some time with a stove maker to design a better system that not only kept the ship warm and melted ice for the crew, but also handled condensation build up in their makeshift home for the winter. Below zero outside and 70 degrees inside must have felt pretty good. It was not simply a better stove. It was a system. Insulation was added, heat was distributed and in addition to comfort, they burned less fuel. Just like your home should be!

Brand writes: “Mr. Sylvester and Captain Parry had invented a remarkably efficient form of central heating. It’s a shame the system was not applied to British housing, which remained heated entirely by coal fireplaces into quite recent times.

Past explorations led to eating leather boots to survive and worse, and Captain Parry learned a thing or two. Don’t eat your boots to survive at home. Consider making your ship more bearable for the rest of this season and for the next! I’m guessing the good Captain made himself comfortable at home too.

Spring is coming!

 

Thanks,

Jason

image from http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AIcebergs.jpg

 


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