Archive for the ‘Air-Sealing’ Category

Cutting edge science! Circa 1891

January 23, 2014

Dr smithThis time of year our homes are often closed up tight and we can get a little stir crazy by it.

Dr. Smith, pictured in the print, subjected himself to this voluntarily, we find out in a text book on ventilation printed in 1891.  His little home was made of lead and the window was there so he could break out if no one would let him out. A more trustworthy assistant would have been nice.

The door was weather stripped with an India rubber tube.  Funny how over 100 years later we still could use doors on our homes that work as well as his did!

Well Dr. Smith discovered that fairly quickly the room got unpleasant and moist.   He lasted for 100 minutes and then “three persons then went in and at once, pronounced the air to be very bad.”  Not sure this counts as science, but it works for me.  If it smells bad it is bad.  Good enough.

Ironically even today there are ongoing arguments about how much ventilation is needed but we need it.  I’ve written about controlling the airways and it’s a good idea to have your ventilation strategies worked out too.  Expert advice is only a call away.  Don’t worry at GreenHomes America, we don’t use lead rooms and emergency glass.

Thanks,

Jason

image comes from a google book in the public domain

What really happened? And is that cabin insulated? The energy audit of 1623.

November 22, 2013

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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.

Stay warm,

Jason

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Photo in the public domain from the Library of Congress

Reduce first!

October 30, 2013

Reduce, Reuse and Recycle, the call for environmental responsibility, is well known.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Thanks,

Jason

Good Equipment Needs Good Air Distribution

October 4, 2013

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Duct work, before and after. 

According to the America Lung Association, the indoor air in an average home is 10 times more polluted than outside air. Instead of treating the root cause of the issue – their home – homeowners purchase high-efficiency filters, allergy medicine and other medications to treat symptoms rather than doing something to eliminate the cause.

Many of the upgrades ASI completed on the showcase home demonstrate how homeowners can address the problem instead of just the symptoms.  It is important to seal or replace older ductwork to keep pollutants and irritants from entering our home’s from the attic, or anywhere else considered outside such as a crawlspace or basement. Doing this potentially frees us from medications and air filters later on.  This is the same great work that Allbritten has done for there home energy makeover.

If the furnace is the heart of the system, ducts are the arteries. No matter how healthy the heart may be its efficiency and effectiveness are limited by the ductwork in the home.

Insulation is important as well of course.   Just like our homes, we need to reduce un-controlled airflow in duct work and add the appropriate levels of insulation to keep the heat out in the summer.

Another part of HVAC we don’t always talk about is the V for ventilation.  We want to control the airflow so we know we are getting enough fresh air and that it is indeed fresh!

Thanks,

Jason

Home Energy Makeover: In their own words

October 2, 2013

The home’s air conditioning had not worked for quite some time. Because of their son’s condition, air conditioning & heating are a priority. But as any good home performance job should go, the whole house was part of the work.  Air sealing the home, wall and attic insulation, new heating & cooling system including ductwork, were all done.  In addition some roof repairs, minor plumbing and electrical repairs were done too.  The video captured from the Fresno Bee really tells the story best.

 

 

Distributors and local companies that Allbritten works with have stepped up by providing equipment or services at little to no cost including Sigler (a distributor of Carrier), FASCO, Trust-All Roofing, Roth Crane, Tinch Howard Sheet Metal, and others,  allowing Allbritten to do more for the family committing additional money to the project.

It’s a great group of employees in a great company doing the right thing.  Not too much more can be said, they’ve said it themselves.

Thanks,

Jason

Set Phasors on Stun! Scottie, Warp Power Up to Full Capacity!

September 20, 2013

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It was reported recently  that some bright folks have figured out that if you watch the current of the power grid with phasor measurement units (picture colorful layers of EKG displays),it will reveal potential disruptions in the power supply nationwide and help us catch a problem before it gets too big, like it did in the summer of 2003 when 50 million people lost power.

Knowing when trouble is coming is great but if we tax the grid with cooling and lighting, watching re runs of Star Trek, and running blenders for margaritas’ in the summer, what do we do about it?

Either generate more power (Que Scottish accent shouting “I dannae is she can’t take any more captain!”) or we change our behavior (put the blender away)  We may have escaped this summer unscathed, but reducing our electircal load year round is a great idea.

Here’s one more option:  Energy efficient appliances, lighting and homes!  When you replace appliances or lighting, make sure it EnergyStar rated or is a LED or CFL for lighting.  As for our homes, increasing your comfort can mean reducing your bills as well and using less from the grid at the same time.  Air sealing and insulation makes a big difference on the cooling bill.  Consider a home performance assessment, that way your shields will be up and ready for anything.

Thanks,

Jason

Home is where the Heart is: Helping a home, Helping a Family

September 9, 2013

I often make the parallel between the “health” of our homes, to the health of ourselves.   A cooling or heating system can be like our hearts, and the ductwork like the arteries branching out.   The need for a physical, making sure things are working fine, applies to our homes.   Our bodies are systems and so are our homes, its the treatment that makes a difference.

Albritten’s choice for the Home Energy Makeover is particularly touching because they have helped a family battling with health problems, a family with more than their fair share on their plate.

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Steve and Rhonda live with four of their six children, in a home built in the 1950’s. Their son 28-year old J.J. is special needs with both physical disabilities that keep him in a wheelchair, and cognitive disabilities.  AC and heat are important for them because of his and the entire family’s comfort and unfortunately it has not worked for some time.

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Steve, battles with a rare type of cancer referred to as carcinoid, and has injections every two weeks.  He still continues to go to work even though he spends time in the hospital when his symptoms worsen.  In fact Steve, not in the pictures, was hospitalized on the day the Makeover was announced lasting a few weeks.  Providing for his family is clearly important.

This Energy Makeover has allowed Allbritten to provide something for them which serves well as a reminder for all of us to take care of our families, ourselves and to lend a hand in helping others.  Now that is having a healthy heart!

Thanks,

Jason

Money, Good Health and a Comfortable Home, We Have Solutions!

September 3, 2013

Why Get an Energy Audit?  Watch this Video….

Home Energy Makeovers and Hard Choices, the Good Kind!

August 29, 2013

Our good friends at Allbritten Plumbing Heating and Air, a GreenHomes location in Fresno CA, had to make some hard decisions this summer, but doing the right thing was not one of them.  After receiving well over 100 nominations for a Home Energy Makeover they offered, the hard part was picking just one.

Every year this location gives back to their community.   Employees take part in cleaning up a park or volunteering at a food bank, and are proud to do so.  This year, an installer suggested doing what they do best and offering their services improving a home for a family in need. Manager Andrea Doidge describes it as “a community service project on steroids”.

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They discovered there were quite a few families making hard choices at home. And it really is a great service to offer since summer in the area can really be difficult.  “With all the cooling stations set up around the Valley often being full, and with times still being tough financially for many local families, keeping homes cool in the triple digit heat can be difficult. We are excited about the chance to really make a difference in one family’s lives,” said Jerry Unruh, president of Allbritten.

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One great thing about all of all of this is letting people know about the kind of work many of us need in our homes, and that it’s not only attainable and affordable it just plain makes sense.  Energy Upgrade California offers great rebates making this work more affordable in across the state but other states offer rebates too.  Having your home assessed and most importantly, improved isn’t a hard choice at all it’s a great thing to do!

In upcoming posts, I will tell you more about the family that was chosen and the great work done on their home.

Thanks,

Jason

 

pictures by Gary Kazanjian – from the Fresno Bee

 

Taking a home for a test drive

August 21, 2013

When you shop for a car, you can see it on the lot or the showroom floor, same goes for most retail things, new clothing, or a book. You can even find a modular home on a sales lot, but it’s still difficult to see what comfort or efficiency looks like.  Or, what kind of savings there are to be had for a homeowner and their existing home.

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Well the team at ASI Hastings Heating, Air & Solar in San Diego has created a showcase home to help spread the word about the huge energy incentives available to homeowners in their area as well as the great things that can and should be done in every home. ASI converted the garage into a hands-on “Innovation Center” to help homeowners get a clear understanding of how they can make similar upgrades to their home.

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“We invested in the home to prove just how much savings a homeowner could receive,” explains Ken Justo, co-owner of ASI Hastings Heating and Air. “The home has undergone a full remodel inside and out. We are extremely proud of the outcome. People can actually see these upgrades in a real life setting; improvements that the average homeowner can also make.”

Over the next few weeks I will talk about what they did and why it’s so important for you to consider improvements like these in your own home.

Thanks,

Jason

 

 

 

 

 


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