Posts Tagged ‘Air King’

Watch for questionable insulation practices

November 13, 2009

It might be interesting to show some of the conditions we encounter in the field every day to help illustrate home performance.  And I’ll randomly kick off this thread with something Daniel–an Advisor with Air King, our Simi Valley location–came across this week.  He visited a home where another insulation contractor had already come by.  Well, not all insulation contractors are equal.  It’s clear some don’t understand the importance of air-sealing.  Or not filling the water heater closet with insulation.  (Or cleaning up after the work was done.)

Simi--competitors bad insulation work 1
Your insulation contractor should be blocking holes and air-sealing before adding insulation. Filling the hot water closet with insulatio and blocking the vent hood is considered bad practice (now that’s a bit of an understatement).

If your insulation contractor doesn’t talk with you about air leakage and the importance of air-sealing, run away!  (For that matter, if your heating and cooling contractor doesn’t look at your insulation levels and air-leakage rates–and help correct problems–how can you be sure you’re getting the right system?)


HALO LED lighting

November 6, 2009
HALO LED recessed lighting

HALO LED Recessed Lighting

Halo lighting has some  recessed LED lighting available.  It’s good stuff, and I wouldn’t hesitate to install it (in fact, I have installed it my own home).  Right now, I do like the CREE product better, but part of that is personal preference.  Some quick observations:

  • The HALO product is available in a 3000K temperature with a CRI in the low 80s.  The light isn’t quite as “warm” looking at the CREEs (the 2700K product), and the color rendition doesn’t seem quite as good to my eye.  And, personal preference, I prefer the warmer look in a residential setting.
  • The HALO LED isn’t quite instant on.  I experience a slight delay after flipping the switch before the light turns on.  It’s not a big deal, but again, the CREE product holds on advantage.
  • One important HALO advantage:  it is currently available with a “wet location” rating that you’d need in shower enclosures, for example.  CREE does not yet have product for this application.
  • The HALO products does offer a broader range of trim options than CREE.  If you need a particular style, HALO may be the way you need to go.
  • The HALO product–with trim purchased separately–was much more expensive the the CREE at local suppliers, as much as $60-90 more than the LR6.

My bottom line:  I like the CREE product better, and would chose it in most instances.  However, I wouldn’t hesitate to use the HALO–and it’s got to be HALO in wet locations right now.  I like either of them better than similar compact flourescent products.

Some sobering home maintenance statistics

November 5, 2009

I work with a great group of people at GreenHomes—and they help me look at things in new ways every day.  Thanks for this eye-opener from Frank at our Simi Valley (formerly Air King) office.

  1. 15,600 dryer fires occur each year resulting in property damage exceeding $75 million dollars. The leading cause? LACK OF MAINTENANCE
  2. 15,260 injuries and 2,660 deaths annually due to failure or problems with smoke alarms, sprinklers and fire extinguishers
  3. 38,300 reported home electrical fires including 120 deaths and 390 injuries associated with electrical wiring, circuit breakers, fuses and meters
  4. 49,200 heating equipment related home fires

Source: U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission; National Fire Protection Association, 2008

Add this to the discussions of carbon monoxide, gas leaks, and moisture problems. Professional maintenance just doesn’t save you money and protect your property … it saves lives!

Spring and fall are good times to get your heating and cooling equipment checked and tuned to make sure they’re operating safely and efficiently.


Home Performance: The Homeowner View

November 5, 2009

I often talk about bits and pieces about home energy. But I wanted to take a different approach today and run through the sort of example we see every day with our customers. This one is from our Simi Valley location, were Air King has joined the GreenHomes family. To help give the big picture perspective, I think I’ll put together a few more of these in the coming months.

Ven-Outside_sittingWhen Matt and Clare Venegas bought their home in suburban Irvine four years ago, they knew it was a “fixer-upper”. Built in 1969 and still possessing a lot of its original features, the couple immediately began renovating the place.

So when they noticed it was still uncomfortable during the summer and winter months, they were baffled. “We thought we had done everything we could to make our home as comfortable as possible,” said Matt.

We see this a lot. What the couple didn’t know was that the renovations they did where purely cosmetic, and did absolutely nothing to address critical construction deficiencies that impact indoor comfort — including missing insulation, leaks, and drafts — and are inherent in most existing homes.

Some of the Problems
According to the Matt and Clare, the second floor was unbearable in the summer. With the strong afternoon sun heating it up like an oven, the air conditioning barely worked upstairs. And heat as they might, during the winter it stayed drafty and cold. “It was like we were living in the Midwest, not Southern California!” said Clare. But as a busy working couple, they didn’t have time to worry about the comfort level of their home. While annoying, they learned to accept the discomfort, to the point of sleeping downstairs on the hottest summer nights.

“We just assumed this was the way the house was and we had to live with it,” said Matt. “We dreaded going upstairs, and spent as little time as possible there during the summer months.” That was until Clare found out she was pregnant. Once baby Derek was in the picture, everything changed.

“With the baby coming and the nursery upstairs, we knew it was time to do something,” said Clare. “We could be miserable, but he couldn’t. We didn’t want to move, but we didn’t know what to do or who to call.”

The Energy Audit
Matt had heard about GreenHomes, a leading provider of home performance contracting, from working in the building services industry. He noted that we were well known on the East Coast for our comprehensive home energy audits “whole home” approach to comfort and energy improvements.

“As soon as I heard GreenHomes had opened an office in Southern California, I wanted a home energy audit ASAP,” said Matt. “The weather was just starting to heat up and Derek was six months old. The timing was perfect.”

As I’ve mentioned here before, we treat a home as a completely integrated system. We look for components that are not performing well and are negatively impacting comfort, energy efficiency, health, and safety with diagnostic testing. The process began with a home energy audit.


A blower door is used to help find and measure air leaks

A blower door is used to help find and measure air leaks

First our Advisor analyzed a year’s worth of utility bills to determine energy patterns. Then we depressurized the house with a blower door and used state-of-the-art tools to identify the problems in the Venegas home.

“Using an infrared camera the Advisor spotted the main problem right away. He said ‘you have no insulation; this house is like Swiss cheese,'” said Matt. “Then using a smoke stick, he also showed me holes in our ducting and leaks. He explained that meant the air we were cooling and heating was just shooting up into the attic and escaping out the walls. It was very informative, and I was excited to finally learn what the problem was and relieved to know it could be fixed.”

Once the energy audit was complete, our Advisor came back to the Venegases with a comprehensive report and a complete set of recommendations that GreenHomes guaranteed would not only improve the comfort of their home, but increase energy efficiency and lower utility costs as well.

“The report was detailed but very easy to understand,” said Clare. “It was nice because there wasn’t a lot of fluff in it, just photos and very concise information that was specific to the house. There was also information on how the improvements would reduce our carbon footprint and lower our utility bills. They even told us how much in federal tax credits we could claim.”

The One-stop GreenHomes Solution

Matt and Clare decided to move forward with the recommended improvements that included insulation, air sealing, lighting upgrades, and new ducting. “Our motivation was the baby and comfort, but when we found out we would save money and energy as well, it was a no brainer!” they said. 

GreenHomes America by Air KingAs a single-source provider, GreenHomes handled the entire scope of the project from start to finish. For Clare, who was at home with the baby, working with only one contact was key. “Sometimes dealing with contractors and their schedules can be a pain,” she said. “But the GreenHomes crew was always on time, efficient, and courteous. They were respectful of my time and there was minimal disruption to our daily routine. They even cleaned up every day before they left.”

With work underway on the Venegas home, the experienced GreenHomes crew soon made a potentially dangerous discovery. As they were preparing the attic for cellulose insulation, one of the workers asbestos.

“The crew lead stopped all work immediately to prevent asbestos being exposed. Within 15 minutes they had quotes from several reputable asbestos abatement companies,” said Clare. “Within hours, all the asbestos was gone and we were back on track! GreenHomes handled it all, seamlessly, and got us a great deal.”

That wasn’t the only safety issue GreenHomes uncovered in the Venegas house. During the assessment they also found a natural gas leak in the water heater and faulty electrical wiring. “We are so grateful that they discovered the asbestos and the other issues. We feel much safer now,” said Clare.

When the project was done, Matt was amazed to find out that they did not need a bigger HVAC system after all. The old system was perfectly fine; it was just being overworked because of all the holes and leaks in the attic and insufficient insulation. GreenHomes also replaced the original thermostat with a new energy-efficient programmable one that turns on and off automatically.

The Homeowner Benefits

GreenHomes was in and out in just a few days, even with the asbestos and duct replacement set-back. According to Clare and Matt, they noticed an immediate improvement in comfort. “We can now go upstairs and it’s comfortable!” exclaimed Matt. “I’d say it’s at least 6 to 7 degrees cooler up there, just from the attic improvements alone. We haven’t had to run the A/C that much and we’ve noticed a big difference. When we do run the A/C, we can feel it working stronger and faster.”

The couple has already seen their electricity bill drop 25 percent from July to August and anticipates savings in the winter as well. “I think we’ll see a huge difference come winter,” said Matt. “Now we won’t have to run our heater nearly as much so we expect the utility bills to be a lot lower.” 

The fact that they were able to take advantage of the Federal Tax Credit for energy saving home improvements was an added bonus. “The tax credits, the long-term utility bill savings, being green, and the health and safety improvements were all icing on the cake” said Matt. 

An unexpected benefit was improved indoor air quality. Clare suffers from allergies. Now that the ducts have been replaced and the holes sealed, less allergens and dirt enter the house and she’s noticed an improvement in her symptoms.

Also, removing the asbestos and having GreenHomes certify the home for guaranteed energy savings has added value to their home, which will help them when and if they ever want to sell. “This small investment in GreenHomes turned out to save us a lot of future headaches when it comes to selling the house,” said Matt. “Not knowing about the asbestos and all the safety issues would have put us in a really bad position. We will proudly hang our GreenHomes Certified certificate for all potential buyers to see.” 

Bottom Line

Beyond the tangible benefits, Matt and Clare have peace of mind that baby Derek is safe and comfortable, and the house is clean and healthy. They can also feel good about doing their part for the environment by saving energy and reducing their carbon footprint.

“We are very happy with the results of our GreenHomes improvements. Their whole-home approach really works and we will gladly recommend them to everyone we know. We look forward to enjoying the baby and the house in total comfort now that it is working at maximum comfort and efficiency,” said Matt.

Senator Bernie Sanders: Good environmental policy is good economic policy

November 1, 2009

Bernie Sanders in both Senate hearing and other writings with respect to environmental policy, energy policy, and economic policy, “the low-hanging fruit and a real job creator is energy efficiency”.  

[Speaking of Senator Sanders, check out this video from July 2009 from a hearing on Green Jobs, and note that Burlington, VT despite healthy growth and the increase in gadgets seen everywhere, today is consuming only 1% more electricity than it did 20 years ago, essentially handling growth in electricity needs by efficiency rather than building new power plants. ]


GreenHomes and “Home Performance” in the Journal of Light Construction

October 26, 2009

JLC Sept 2009 Home Performance ContractingThanks for the great feedback from many of you on the article on “Home Performance Contracting” in the September 2009 issue of the Journal of Light Construction.  For those of you who haven’t had the chance to read it, it’s available on the GreenHomes website.   And contractors lurking out there, you should also consider subscribing to JLC—one of the best periodicals to follow to stay on top of developments in the residential and light commercial contracting sectors.


GreenHomes Rolling in California

July 19, 2009

Folks in Southern California are seeing GreenHomes trucks on the road on their way to retrofit people’s homes.

Loaded and ready to make California homes more comfortable and energy-efficient

Loaded and ready to make California homes more comfortable and energy-efficient

Find about more about our new Los Angelos and Ventura County locations, including our aquisition of Air King.

GreenHomes Opens a New California Location

July 14, 2009

It’s official–we opened a new location in Simi Valley, CA on July 1, a month after launching in Cerritos, CA.  After incubating our home performance business in Syracuse, NY for three years, developing the systems and procedures, and launching in Princeton, NJ in January, we are taking home performance nationally.  You can find out more about this acquisition on our website at under “News and Events”.


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