Posts Tagged ‘EPA’

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!


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.



GreenHomes wins a Century Club Award, again!

November 5, 2012

It’s nice to be recognized.  This is the third year in a row in fact.   The EPA and the DOE have recognized GreenHomes America –  Syracuse with the Century Club Award.   An award that goes to the contractor that has improved the energy efficiency of more than 100 homes in the past year through Home Performance with ENERGY STAR.  Home Performance with ENERGY STAR offers homeowners a comprehensive whole house approach to improving energy efficiency and comfort while saving money on utility bills and helping to protect the environment. 

Our Syracuse location, a leading contractor in central New York and part of the national GreenHomes America network, improved well over 400 homes last year!

Congratulations to Syracuse!  It is great to know that as a network we are charging along across the country in states that participate in the Home Performance with ENERGY STAR program as well as states that don’t.  Look for a GreenHomes America location near you! 



What’s in your attic?

February 27, 2012

Miracle Material, Modern Curse:  Vermiculite 

Vermiculite insulation can be found in older homes.  It was installed in attics often by homeowners, many years ago and sometimes made its way into walls. Vermiculite insulation, on its own, is not a bad thing.  However, the problem is, Vermiculite insulation may contain asbestos.

Maybe you’re looking at this picture and thinking about the holiday decorations you just tucked away in the attic. You’re thinking “uh oh…” hold on.  When our advisors investigate a home, they keep their eyes out for this stuff. If they find it, they proceed with caution because it may have asbestos in it.  On the other hand, it may not have asbestos in it. Unfortunately, you can’t tell simply by looking at it. So be cautious and don’t disturb it.  The EPA  has a good deal of information on vermiculite and so will your energy advisor.

As you can see, it’s important to consider health and safety when improving the efficiency of our homes. The Building Performance Institute (BPI) has standards regarding suspected asbestos containing materials such as vermiculite. Yet another reason why every GreenHomes America advisor is BPI certified.  Shaking the “curse” is easy. Not only can we help you figure out what is in your attic, but also what to do with it, and most important how to stay safe right at home.



photos used with permission from Asbestorama on Flickr

ENERGY STAR “Most Efficient” Recognition

August 14, 2011

ENERGY STAR Most Efficient 2011 LogoLast month, the U.S. EPA and U.S. DOE announced an extension of the ENERGY STAR program which will recognize the most energy-efficiency products.  The ENERGY STAR “Most Efficient” pilot will ID those models that are in the top 5% for efficiency in their categories.

Now, it’s even easier to find the most energy-efficient refrigerators, clothes washers, televisions, etc.!  This makes it even harder to justify buying a hog.  And wehn comparing apples to apples, “Most Efficient” will pay long term dividends.   Simple, smart, easy.  Gotta like it.

New homes “can” be energy efficient–but you don’t have to buy a new home to lower your bills!

October 26, 2010

According to a NY Times article, home builders can build more efficient homes than they used to.  Go figure! 

“Rapid advances in building technologies and appliances have made it easier to build more energy-efficient homes, but builders are only just beginning to promote the savings for consumers, said Liz Verna, the president-elect of the Home Builders Association of Connecticut, and developer of the Willows, a 65-house development in Wallingford.”

Of course, they could have been building more efficient homes for decades.  Now builders and developers would like you to buy a new home to replace your less efficient home.  Sure, you can do that if you’d like to.  However, “new” doesn’t automatically mean “energy-efficient”.  We fix a lot of newer homes.  And a good assessment of your current home, combined with quality energy and money savings improvements, can make your home perform as well as most newly built homes.  This is the “home performance” approach being touted by EPA, DOE, and many state and local programs.  And the approach that’s transformed so many of our customers homes.

You don’t have to build a new home to save money!


The Feds on Air-Sealing

October 23, 2010

This Spring, DOE released a guide “Retrofit Techniques & Technologies: Air Sealing” that explains the practices used along with some related considerations.  It dives into the weeds, but it’s a good resource for anyone who wants to understand more about one of the common things we at GreenHomes do to improve homes–and why. 

As they point out, the air leaks in many homes can add up and have the same effect as leaving a window wide open all year long.  And thus, it’s no surprise that

By sealing uncontrolled air leaks, you can expect to see savings of 10% to 20% on your heating and cooling bills, and even more if you have an older or especially leaky house.

For those considering taking a stab at climbing up into the attic and taking care of air leaks on their own, definitely reread Kathryn’s post on “DIY Insulation” from last month.  In it you’ll also see mentioned the ENERGY STAR “Do-It-Yourself Guide to Sealing and Insulating“.  It gets into a lot of the important details critical to safe and effective air-sealing with some additional illustrations and photos.

Neither publication covers everything, but they do hit on some of the important basics.  And both point to some important health and safety considerations.  The DOE guide does a better job explaining the importance of combustion safety and ventilation–and how a good “test-in/test-out” approach helps address these issues.

If you’re thinking about insulating your home, remember, you should air-seal first.  The guides help explain how and why.  Both are worth a read.


Home Performance Growing Nationally

September 9, 2010

In a newsletter today, the U.S. EPA reported that Home Performance with ENERGY STAR is on track to exceed its 2010 national goal of 30,000 installations!  With programs reporting for the first half of 2010, the total number of jobs is over 15,900.   We’re excited to be an enthusiastic and award-winning participant as Home Performance becomes the go-to existing home energy efficiency program in the country–excited because it means more homeowners have access to the science-based whole-house solutions we deliver to make homes more comfortable, durable, and energy-efficient.

Climate, the Gulf Spill, and Energy Efficiency

June 11, 2010

In the wake of yesterday’s Senate vote blocking Senator Murkowski’s bill to halt EPA regulation of carbon dioxide, I gave a short interview this morning on the P.O.T.U.S show on Sirius.   The bottom line was this.  As confirmed by the Supreme Court in 2007, Congress has already given EPA the authority to regulate CO2 via the Clean Air Act.   Until Congress changes that, it’s the law of the land.  Meanwhile, regardless of people’s views on carbon in the atmosphere, there’s much we should be doing to reduce our energy us because energy-efficiency makes sense!

Businesses that are more efficient are more competitive.  Homes that use less energy keep money in consumers’ accounts so they can pay mortgages, put food on the table, and send kids to college.  And the less tax dollars we use to clean up oil spills in the Gulf, the easier it is to balance the budget, and pay down the deficit.   And while we’re on that subject, how about eliminating  $35 billion in tax subsidies to the big energy companies who are wildly profitable?  If we’re going to invest, let’s invest in an efficient economy that actually will pay us dividends in the form of savings done the road!

Building represent 40% of the total energy use in the U.S.  And homes are 50% of that.  And whether it’s climate, Gulf oil spills, or good home economics that you care about, making homes more energy-efficient is a good place to start.


Energy Star Schools

October 24, 2009
Pictured here with Doug Smyers of Linc Service are (l-r) Joyce Pickering, Executive Director and Mitzi Freeman, Associate Director of Finance of Shelton School.

Pictured here with Doug Smyers of Linc Service are (l-r) Joyce Pickering, Executive Director and Mitzi Freeman, Associate Director of Finance of Shelton School.

Shelton School in north Dallas was recently awarded the EPA Energy Star Award, one of only three awarded in the area in the last three years.   Congratulations to Doug Smyers (General Manager, Linc Service Dallas/Fort Worth) and team for helping Shelton School meet the stringent requirements.

Pictured here with Doug Smyers are (l-r) Joyce Pickering, Executive Director and Mitzi Freeman, Associate Director of Finance of Shelton School. 

This comes on the heels of a challenge presented last month by EPA to U.S. School Districts to save energy and money with Energy Star.

Release date: 09/02/2009   WASHINGTON — During the back to school season, EPA is challenging school administrators and building managers to improve energy efficiency throughout their facilities. School districts can answer EPA’s call-to-action by taking the Energy Star Challenge, a pledge to improve the energy efficiency of our nation’s buildings. Schools that accept the challenge will join more than 500 school districts across the country that are helping to fight climate change by committing to reducing their energy use with help from Energy Star.

“Our schools are doing their best to prepare our children for the future, and now they can help make sure that future includes a clean, safe environment,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. “Taking the Energy Star Challenge will help participating districts cut down on their electricity bills. Money they would have spent on energy can go back into the classroom, where it really belongs.”

The annual energy bill to operate America’s primary and secondary schools totals nearly $8 billion — more than is spent on textbooks and computers combined. Schools that take the Energy Star Challenge can use energy tracking tools, technical guidance, case studies, and other Energy Star tools and resources to help them improve their energy efficiency.

This continues the series of schools the Linc Service and Linc Mechanical have helped meet energy savings targets.

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