Posts Tagged ‘GreenHomes’

Happy Labor Day!

September 2, 2014

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This past weekend, we celebrated Labor Day.  A holiday we regard as the end of summer, but it is so much more than that.  Labor Day is a holiday dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers.  Each of us who have had a hand in contributing to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country this day is a tribute to you.  Each year, we hope you enjoy it, whether it’s taking the last trip of summer or just relaxing at home watching football.  We hope you take time to kick your feet up and relax.  You deserve it.

And, if you find your home uncomfortable, let us know.  Our contribution to this country is conserving its resources while helping to improve the homes across America.  We’ve already helped over 10,000 families and are looking forward to helping thousands more.

Thanks for stopping by!

-April

Go ahead…Relax

August 21, 2014

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Last Friday was National Relaxation Day, a day devoted to simply taking it easy.  I like whoever came up with this one.  We all desire a break from time to time so why not make a day for it?  Oftentimes, we think of our home when it comes to relaxing.  We all have a favorite spot on the couch or a favorite room in the house to unwind.  I know I do, I have a chair in my bedroom by a big window where I sit and read.  If the window is open, a slight breeze carries in the sound of birds singing just outside.  It’s peaceful and it’s comfortable.

What if every room in our house could be that comfortable?  Every room where the temperature is just right, no change of clothes needed or an extra blanket.  I’m not dreaming.  I know this is possible.  Home Performance and a home energy audit are foreign terms to many, but they are terms that encompass making your home more comfortable and efficient.  This means even temperatures from room to room, lower utility bills every month, and no wasted energy.

So, go ahead, relax.  And if you’d like, improve the comfort in the rest of your home.  You never know, you might find a new favorite spot to unwind.  Share this post with a neighbor or friend, comfort is something we all deserve.

Thanks for stopping by!

-April

Back to School, Back to Learn

August 14, 2014

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As summer winds down, the school year is right around the corner.  With that of course comes back to school shopping for supplies and new clothes as well as the anxiety of starting a new school year.  Here are some tips to pass along to your student to help them excel in the classroom.

  • Eat breakfast. It’s true, when you’ve eaten a good breakfast you are more alert and perform better in class.
  • Put the phone down and sleep.  Teens need at least 8.5 hours of sleep to feel rested.
  • Use your study hall. Doing more work during the school day while not in class can reduce the work you will have to do at home.  You’ll be more focused, too.
  • Make friends. Join school clubs or teams and get to know people.

I’ll end with our favorite tip to give students before the school year.   “When you know better, you do better.” This quote is by Maya Angelou.  It’s true, as we continue to learn, we continue to improve.  Education doesn’t stop after high school or even college, it continues into the workforce and into your life.  At GreenHomes we are constantly in the classroom learning more about homes and how they work.  We are keeping up with the latest building codes, tools, products, and services so that we can do better.

We continue to learn and for good reason, the more we know the better we can serve you.

Share this post and encourage someone to keep learning.  Best of luck this school year and thanks for stopping by!

-April

Summer is here. Be safe!

June 17, 2014

Summer SafetySafety is a top priority for us in the work we do in your home. We stress it every day.  In fact an energy audit is only partially about saving you money.  It is also about keeping you and your family safe.  As part of our audit, we check for gas leaks on the combustion equipment in your home like your furnace or gas stove.

While we keep you safe inside, here are a few tips to keep you safe outside as summer closes in:

  • Watch out for Bugs!  Mosquitoes and ticks are the most common.  Repellants are helpful for both.  If ticks are an issue in your area there are some simple landscaping efforts you can do to help deter them.
  • Enjoy the sunshine, but cover up! Hats, sunscreen and shade are encouraged.
  • If it gets too hot inside your home and even hotter oustide, maybe energy efficiency improvements are what you need for safety’s sake!

 

Thanks,

Jason

 

Photo by Steffen Flor  from wikimedia commons

Death, Taxes and Energy Bills!

May 11, 2012

The Alliance to Save Energy posted this graphic comparing some common costs for U.S. homeowners.

As Benjamin Franklin said in 1817 “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” seems to me energy bills should replace taxes.

I’m guessing things are more comfortable in your home than they were for Mr. Franklin and I’m certain you want to keep it that way.   But addressing energy efficiency issues in the home can keep you comfortable and Ben Franklin honest, and save you more than a few of those bills with his face on it.

Thanks,

Jason

Out of sight, out of mind? Lurking in the depths below, the whole house approach still applies!

September 19, 2011
 
The moon’s surface or a part of the home?

Most of us ignore the spaces under our homes.  What is under there anyway?  For some houses there can be some important stuff such as the heating system or, for every one I’ve been in, the stuff that holds the house up and it’s usually wood, aka “Mold Food”.  Yeah it’s kind of important.

Henry Ford once said “quality means doing it right when no one is looking”.  And for some space in our home this is often a neglected concept.  More likely heard would be “no one is going to see this after I’m done.”  Too often when called in to someone’s home we see things that just weren’t done right the first time.  Duct work is left pinched, restricting flow.  Sometimes it’s left unsealed and un-insulated.   Floor insulation is hastily installed leaving it to droop or fall out.   Un-addressed moisture coming in from the walls or rising up from the ground below attacks metal and wood.  As Mike has mentioned in a previous post, sometimes we know its damp down there because we smell it.   Heating and cooling systems are left to suffer and struggle sent to an early and shallow grave we affectionately call the crawlspace. In one Berkley, California that started with many of this issue, GreenHomes America partner, ABC Cooling, recently worked its magic.

Failing furnace

The heating system in the crawlspace had a long horizontal run which struggling to draft well, ended up rotting away.  The big concern here is that when the venting fails, the flue gasses are left ready to be drawn into the home; exactly where we don’t want them.  This is a typical problem in the Bay area or for that matter anywhere with this kind of configuration.  The big fix here was a super efficient sealed combustion unit.  These units are quite affordable, and the savings from the greater efficiency help to pay for them over time.  

The broader opportunity was a chance to fix the duct work and solve some other underlying weaknesses with the house, from duct work to hot water, to insulation and air-sealing.  It doesn’t make much sense to put a new engine in a car with flat tires, a worn-out starter, and a leaky gas tank.  But fix those problems, and you can have a real gem. Moisture was not a huge issue for this space, but the floor insulation was falling down in some places and in general (as in most homes) we could see there was a need for some air sealing.  With the furnace in the crawl much of the duct work is essentially was left out side.  This is not wrong, it’s just not ideal, and in this scenario it was the only practical place to put it.  (In many homes, we see a similar situation with the equipment up in the attic rather than down in the crawlspace–it’s essentially the same problem just a different location!)

Benjamin Franklin once said something about house guests...

Certainly indoor air quality can be an issue with an unsealed crawlspace.  Soil gasses, contaminated outside air (vented crawlspace in congested traffic area), moisture issues, animal feces, or even animals can raise IAQ concerns.  Dead rats in your furnace return?  Generally considered a problem!

Here are a few pictures to describe what was done:

Space before transformation

Encapsulation material being measured out

Installation in a tight spot
 

barrier installed at perimeter with ductwork insulated and supported

Sprayfoam on the walls

Chris and Kristen, the owners of this charming Berkeley home, have over the years created a wonderful space to raise a family in. Years ago, insulation was added to the home, but still things weren’t quite right.  Part of their discomfort was a poor distribution system for heat.  The new heating and hot water system improvements in the home now not only make it more comfortable but also safer.  

At this point, their home may indeed need new windows. This is not something we often recommend first in many houses since there usually are greater opportunities in other areas that are much less expense.  Their windows are 20 years old and starting to fail, but now the whole house has been treated as cost effectively as possible and windows may make sense next.  Treating the crawlspace really brings it together, adding not only energy savings but just as important, comfort.  As Chris and Kristen noted, “We are thrilled with the results already.  It’s certainly a relief having the dangerous furnace issue fixed.  And we’ve already noticed the floors are more comfortable, and the house quieter.  The guys from ABC Cooling did a great job.”

Start with a home assessment, find out what you really need, and do the job right. It’s as simple as that.  Well, OK, some of you might have to get rid of the rat, first.

“Before” photo credits (including that rat in the ductwork!), to David Hales, Building Systems and Energy Specialist, WSU Extension Energy Program.  

A few thoughts on replacement windows

September 18, 2011

The folks at Replacement Windows for Dummies (.com) recently asked me a few questions about replacement windows–check out the article

Mike Rogers of GreenHomes interviewed by ReplacementWindowsforDummies.com

As those of you who’ve spoken with our Advisors or seen the replacement window video know, we like windows.  New windows can increase comfort, reduce drafts, reduce UV fading, and more.  They are NOT a miracule energy-saver, though.  If it’s energy savings you’re after, don’t get sucked into the hype.  Get a good home energy assessment and find out what you really need. 

Thanks,
Mike

More than 10,000 reasons why I love my job!

August 15, 2011

It’s Monday morning, and I get to glance at some of the feedback from our customers—and we have a lot of them!   It’s heartwarming.  We put in long hours here trying to live up to our ideals, and it’s nice to see that it pays off.  Indeed, it’s why it’s worth it.  And seeing the results and the happy customers is a great way to start my week. 

From San Diego, Charles H. recently said that his house sounds much more sound proof, it doesn’t sound hollow inside anymore with his hardwood floors, he also said that in the recent heat wave his air conditioner only came on a few times.  He listened to his neighbor’s air conditioner cycle on and off all night.

Bob C. said that his house has been maintaining a nice temperature of about 72 – 74 degrees without running either the heater or the air conditioner, everything that we promised that home performance would do for him happened.

Across the country in Syracuse, Ben B., whose project we just finished said,  “ The crews never left a scrap, or screw, or piece of cardboard “ and  “The crews were always professional, and cared about what they were doing “.

Thanks to our customers for giving us the opportunity.  And thanks to all the GreenHomes employees and partners for delivering!

Thanks,
Mike

Getting a charge out of (and into) electric vehicles in California

July 26, 2011

The times they are a changin’.  And the cars they are a chargin’!

Our sister company, Linc Lighting & Electrical, has installed the first electric vehicle (EV) charging stations of their kind in downtown Laguna Beach, California, as part of City’s wider effort to implement an array of climate protection measures.   The EV charging stations were officially unveiled at a June 21 press event conducted by the Laguna Beach City Council and attended by my colleagues at The Linc Group. 

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An EV charging station in Laguna Beach--A state-of-the-art Coulomb system installed by Linc Lighting & Electrical

“We are proud to be a part of this sustainability initiative in partnership with the City of Laguna Beach,” said Ken Sapp, vice president of Linc EnergyHub. “The Linc Group is strongly committed to providing superior, sustainable services to all of our clients across all of our service areas, including IT, electrical, lighting, controls and HVAC. We also are pleased to have the opportunity to work once again with Coulomb Technologies to help deliver leading sustainability solutions.” 

LLE is also installing charging stations for Nissan Leaf purchases and supporting business locations. 

I’m particularly excited by the in-home installs.  We have the ability, with our GreenHomes Partner locations in San DiegoFresno, and Hayward to work hand-in- hand with LLE, not just with charging stations, but to look at the whole house and find ways to save energy–offseting the electrical consumption of the car!  That’s a huge deal.  And the Energy Upgrade California incentives help pay for the home improvements.  Less gas, less smog, lower utility bills, and money back!  It’s a quadruple win!

You don’t have to buy an electric vehicle to start saving in your home and taking advantage of the cash back rebates.  And the funny thing is, the improvements make sense even without the rebates.  You wind up with a more comfortable, healthier home with lower utility bills.  Good stuff!

Cheers,
Mike

GreenHomes America Duct Tape Contest

May 2, 2011
Our Home Performance technicians see some scary stuff out in the field, like giant wasps’ nests, creepy crawl spaces and immense icicles. But arguably the scariest of them all is the dreaded duct tape monstrosity! Often found lurking in basements and attics clinging to heating and cooling ducts, these efficiency eaters can range in size anywhere from a single stitch to multiple rolls.

This may seem crazy, but your standard cloth duct tape can and should be used to patch or repair virtually anything – except for ducts!  These tapes just aren’t suitable for patching, repairing, or securing heating and cooling ducts. These tapes quickly deteriorate—sometimes within just a few months.  They come unglued and allow air to leak in and out of your ducts, thereby letting your heated or cooler air to escape before its final destination.  Yet, time and time again we see these silver-backed creatures in homes all across the county. Real HVAC professionals use mastic, a goopy white paste that has the consistency of peanut butter (we do NOT want to know what it tastes like!).

Do you have a duct tape monstrosity living in your house?  A cobbled-together contraption, with failing joints and seams?  Have you seen one while out on the job? We want to see it!

Example of improper use of duct tape

Have you used duct tape to fix your brother’s broken-down car? Is your private spaceship made out of 36% duct tape? Your daughter’s prom dress? We want to see those pictures too!

Mike Rogers exhibiting proper use of Duct Tape

We are awarding prizes to one winning photo from each of these two categories:

  • Best example of inappropriate duct tape use on an HVAC system.
  • Most creative use of duct tape – anywhere, on anything (keeping in mind this is a family program)!

Post your photo to our Facebook page wall by May 31 at 3 p.m. Eastern. We will announce the winners on Facebook and here on our blog. This contest has now ended!

The prizes:

  • For the bad duct-sealing example winner, a tub of mastic and a home energy-efficiency grab bag gift*.
  • For the creative-use winner, one large roll of duct tape (of course!) To be used for anything BUT your home’s ducts. And a home energy-efficiency grab bag gift*.

*Retail value of the grab bag not to exceed two twenty-dollar bills duct-taped together.  Not exchangeable, not redeemable for cash, and definitely not to be taken internally!  Open only to residents of the U.S. and Canada.  GreenHomes employees, affiliates, vendors, their families, and pets are not eligible for the prizes—but we like seeing your pictures, too, so feel free to post them!

Be creative, but please don't harm your pets!


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