Posts Tagged ‘energy assessment’

Where is that Check Engine Light?

May 6, 2013

checkA 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.



Fixes for Hidden Costs Reveal Hidden Benefits!

April 12, 2012

The offender in many folks’ minds when it comes to pollution is the automobile, not our homes.  It seems to be ingrained in our heads that automobiles are the worst offenders; I won’t discourage alternatives.   But, in fact, we generate twice as much carbon dioxide emissions as we consume coal, oil, and natural gas—directly or indirectly—in our homes.

Hidden CostImagine what happens if we cut the energy use in our homes by half?  The scale might balance out for sure, but there are definitely more benefits, saving money for one.  We do this on a daily basis.  Improving their home’s insulation and air tightness, heating and cooling systems, and more, will typically save our customers at least 25%, but often much more.

It all starts with a comprehensive home assessment which helps drive pollution and energy cost reduction in the home.  But the biggest impact we hear about from our customers is how comfortable that drive can be!  The end result we sometimes forget about is the level of comfort revealed after the job is done.



Image from the DOE’s home energy saver website

Leaving the Door Open – I Cry Fowl!

April 6, 2012

GHAOne of our top advisors a few years back had a unique experience on an assessment visit.  Leaving the doors open to his vehicle, he unknowingly acquired some unwanted guests.  It made me think about our homes and another unwanted “guest”: uncontrolled airflow via attics and elsewhere in the home.  (A great resource if you haven’t seen it already can be found in our learning center)

When we test airflow in homes we use cubic feet per minute as a unit of measurement.  Ideally this can help people visualize how much air moves through your walls ceilings and floors.  The large fan we place in the doorway of the home measures this flow and allows us to compare the amount of leakage in your home to others of similar size. Many of us don’t often think in terms of cubic feet, but you know, I’d guess it’s about the same as a good sized chicken.

You would be surprised by the amount of leakage in the average home when you can’t see the holes.  They are hidden behind walls and floors, connections in the ceiling.  In places we don’t really think about.  Every chicken’s worth of air that moves uncontrolled in or out of your home costs, not only in terms of money, but also comfort.  There could be GHAhundreds of them entering or leaving your house every hour.  Not sealing those leaks is like leaving the door open all year long.

Keep the chickens where they belong.  Close the doors.



Photos courtesy of John Scipione Branch Manager, Syracuse NY.

Attic-before and after

November 16, 2010

Here’s are two illustrative shots of the benefits of insulating and air-sealing an attic–even in the case where there is already insulation there!

Infrared shot of an attic before air-sealing and reinsulating

Infrared shot of an attic before air-sealing and reinsulating. The yellow on the bottom half of the picture indicates warm air and heat escaping through leaks into the attic.

In the first picture, with R-30 fiberglass batts in place, we can see through the courtesy of an infrared camera that much heat is escaping–and the batts appear a bright yellow-orange.  This is because warm air is escaping through leaks into the attic, and passing right through the batts, just like when the wind blows the heat from around you body through a loose sweater on a windy winter day.  This effectively defeats much of the R-valuse of the batts, in this case robbing about 50% of their effectiveness.

Infrared shot of an attic before air-sealing and reinsulating. The yellow on the bottom half of the picture indicates warm air and heat escaping through leaks into the attic.

In this shot of the same attic the follow day, the blue color on the attic floor shows that air-sealing and adding additional cellulose insulation has greatly reduced the heat loss.

In the picture to the right, of the same attic the following day, we can see from the cool blue color on the attic “floor”, that the newly blown in cellulose–blown in after extensive airsealing, is doing a much better job keeping the heat in the house.

So don’t be fooled by existing insulation.  Poorly installed insulation doesn’t work well.  If you’re experiencing drafts, cold rooms, hot rooms, or wasting much on your energy bills (in either the summer or the winter), a good home energy assessment can help you pinpoint the fix.


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