Posts Tagged ‘air-sealing’

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

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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

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

Bills on the Rise? Freezing, Overheating? Take a Clue from Survival on the High Seas

February 28, 2014

Nobody wants to hear about rising energy costs. For utility customers in New York, prices have going up this winter. Some of it was an accounting error, but increased demand for Natural Gas due to the swerving polar vortex helped.
Propane costs have gone up too, article from Kansas Cityreferences pricing as high as $5 a gallon. ship at seaAll of this reminds me of the days when crude oil prices were all over the proverbial road, never mind a little swerving polar vortex.
It’s not just about heating and cold winters. California is experiencing a lack of winter which sounds kind of nice coming from the Northeast. They are also seeing a drought and I’d expect a long hot summer which means an expensive cooling season ahead.
We can’t control fuel prices, but we can take control of our homes. There’s a great thing in being able to “weather the storm”. In our homes, that means comfort, but also peace of mind that we are protected from the elements. Integrating resilience, in our homes is as simple as insulating a home well and air sealing it properly. It is like preparing for a long voyage across the sea, and helps when weather or high fuel costs hit us broadside. Batten down the hatches!

Thanks,
Jason

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Ivan_Aivazovsky_-_Ship_in_the_Stormy_Sea.jpg

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

Reduce first!

October 30, 2013

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

P1170049

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.

101_0792

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

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

Mandatory Common Sense

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.

sun wiki

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!

Thanks,

Jason

 image from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sun

Do you need a Dehumidifier?

February 18, 2013

humidityAs 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!

 

Thanks,

Jason

 


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