Posts Tagged ‘health’

It’s Baby Safety Month

September 25, 2014

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The  Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA) calls September Baby Safety Month.  Their tagline this year is Making Baby Safer, Room By Room.  Safety is something we hold as high regard at GreenHomes America.  In fact, during our home energy audit, we do a list of health and safety tests while in your home so that you can have the peace of mind knowing that the systems in your home are functioning correctly.  When we learned about Baby Safety Month we couldn’t help, but jump on board.  Below are some helpful links to baby safety information for different rooms in your house.

Thank you to JPMA for raising awareness to the importance of educated consumers, retailers and manufactures to help protect the little ones of America.  After all they are our future and the ones we are working to conserve energy for.

Share this post with any parents you might know and help them be safe.

Thanks for stopping by!

-April

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Did you Resolve to Resolve a Reasonable Resolution?

January 13, 2014

Does the gym membership only last as long as the trial period? Do snacks grow in size and frequency? Ah, if self control was so easy!  Good health is a great thing to strive for, and if self control is not one of your better assets, maybe a little help is in order.

P1060126Consider some small steps.  An energy assessment of your home is a small step which can lead to great things.  It’s about protecting one of your important investments your home, and you.  We spend a lot of time indoors (for better or worse) and the cooking and heating equipment we use can create health issues if we are not careful.  A home ought to be comfortable and safe.

I won’t lie, an assessment of your home is a great step, but its not the only one.  First make sure it’s the right one and find a BPI certified contractor.  The next step is acting on an energy audit’s recommendations. That will bring in the New Year with energy savings, better indoor air quality and greater comfort.  Here’s to a no sweat resolution it might not help you lose weight but it will help you lose some of your excess energy bills!  Maybe next year, i’ll get around to reading the book.

Thanks,

Jason

Home is where the Heart is: Helping a home, Helping a Family

September 9, 2013

I often make the parallel between the “health” of our homes, to the health of ourselves.   A cooling or heating system can be like our hearts, and the ductwork like the arteries branching out.   The need for a physical, making sure things are working fine, applies to our homes.   Our bodies are systems and so are our homes, its the treatment that makes a difference.

Albritten’s choice for the Home Energy Makeover is particularly touching because they have helped a family battling with health problems, a family with more than their fair share on their plate.

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Steve and Rhonda live with four of their six children, in a home built in the 1950’s. Their son 28-year old J.J. is special needs with both physical disabilities that keep him in a wheelchair, and cognitive disabilities.  AC and heat are important for them because of his and the entire family’s comfort and unfortunately it has not worked for some time.

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Steve, battles with a rare type of cancer referred to as carcinoid, and has injections every two weeks.  He still continues to go to work even though he spends time in the hospital when his symptoms worsen.  In fact Steve, not in the pictures, was hospitalized on the day the Makeover was announced lasting a few weeks.  Providing for his family is clearly important.

This Energy Makeover has allowed Allbritten to provide something for them which serves well as a reminder for all of us to take care of our families, ourselves and to lend a hand in helping others.  Now that is having a healthy heart!

Thanks,

Jason

This July, Wildfires Brings to Mind Staying Safe When the Heat is Hazardous

July 5, 2012

I can only hope and pray for everyone’s safety and quick progress in ending the wildfires that continue to burn in the west.

This is the season when temperatures push past 100 degrees; and when factoring in the heat index, the “feels like” temperature is over 120 in some places. Evacuations and wildfires add insult to injury.

The heat can be deadly, and in areas where we aren’t used to it, very high temps can surprise us and leave folks unprepared.  We often provide cooling tips, and they’re worth revisiting.  Here are a couple of important reminders we’ve posted in the past to help you—and your home—get through this.

Keeping Your Person Cool

  • Drink more fluids (nonalcoholic, and without caffeine), regardless of your activity level. Don’t wait until you get thirsty to drink. (Warning:  if you are limiting fluids or reducing water intake for medical reasons, check with your doctor for a specific recommendation.)  Remember, if you’re sweating a lot you need to replace electrolytes, too.
  • If possible, stay indoors in an air-conditioned space.  If you don’t have air conditioning, go to the shopping mall or public library—or the time-honored tradition of going to a movie theater.   Some locales might have heat-relief shelters.  Check with your local health department.
  • Go swimming in a cool pool.  Take a cold shower or a cold bath.  Cooler water can be an excellent way to cool down your body temperature.
  • Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing.
  • If you’re going to be outside, try to do it early in the day or late in the evening when it’s generally cooler.  Try to avoid heavy exercise in the heat.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has a helpful Extreme Heat guide the offers additional details and advice.

Keeping Your Home Cool

  • According to the CDC, air conditioning is the number one protective factor against heat-related illness and death.  Room air conditioners can help.  And installing a central AC unit is usually done in a day.
  • Keep the heat out!  During the day, if it’s cooler inside than outside, keep windows shut.  And keep window shades down to block out direct sunlight.  Open the windows at night if it’s cooler outside.
  • Fans to the outside—blowing in either direction—can help if it’s cooler outside than inside.  But they’re counterproductive if it’s hotter outside.  Ceiling fans (and other fans) help you stay comfortable—but only while you’re in the room.  The fan motors actually generate heat, so turn them off when you’re not there.
  • Of course, contact us if you’d like more permanent, energy-efficient solutions.

Remember that children, the elderly, and the sick are especially susceptible to heat.  Keep a close eye on them.

My hat’s off to the first responders and dedicated folks helping those who have been displaced as the fires rage on.  Here’s to a quick end! Please be safe, and stay cool!

Thanks,

Jason

Home Energy Audits: Worth the cost?

May 21, 2012

Recently Fox News had an interesting piece on energy audits.  It asks an excellent question; are they worth the cost?  As homeowners we can identify some issues in our homes, but it often takes and expert to pull it all together, and catch some of the bigger issues affecting our utility bills.

The article points out that not all auditors are created equal.  It mentions that blower door tests, Infrared imaging, as well as duct testing, are important for and auditor to perform.  And we agree.  In fact, we spend numerous hours training individuals to use the equipment, as well as getting them certified with the Building Performance Institute (BPI).  BPI’s focus is not on just energy efficiency, but also health and safety, and that in my mind is more important that just saving money.

It is important that our advisors have ongoing training and support, because homes—and the building science behind them—are complicated.   If I relate this to the medical profession, would you want an intern performing surgery while figuring it out on their own? Or, would you rather have an experienced doctor teaching the intern?

One thing not pointed out in the article is that saving energy is only part of it.  Don’t forget comfort, the reason we heat and cool our homes in the first place.  Acting on the recommendations in an energy audit can make our homes a more comfortable place.

Is it worth the cost?  If you take action, absolutely!  An audit isn’t worth anything if you don’t fix the problems, which is why it is so important to identify them—and provide cost-conscious improvements—making your home more energy efficient, healthy and comfortable.  You can learn more in our learning center.

Thanks,

Jason

The secret lives of bath fans

June 28, 2011

90% of your time may be spent indoors.  Not in a bathroom I hope, but indoors for sure.    

Most of us understand some of the benefits of having a good fan in the bathroom.   I’ll just say it, odor is one.  So is moisture, but it goes beyond avoiding foggy mirrors after a shower.  That much moisture in a home shouldn’t stick around for a number of reasons.  Mold is a big one.   (The kitchen is another place where moisture adds up and should be exhausted.)  The moisture needs to be pushed outside of building , there’s no sense of just moving it to the attic to cause problems there.

Too often, the cheapo fan, a.k.a. rattle boxes or noise makers, can certainly be heard but don’t really move much air.  And some older fans draw a lot of electricity even while they’re not helping much.  Every home assessment we do includes health and safety testing for carbon monoxide, for example.  We also determine if there is adequate ventilation for the home.  I’m often asked why after tightening up a home we would recommend running a fan, essentially make it leakier—it has to do with indoor air quality something I’ve talked about lately.  I’ll touch on that next week. 

Exhaust fans like those from Panasonic  or Renewaire can take care of more than spot ventilation.  In cold or dry climates, they can help make the whole house better.  If you don’t have a bath fan yet maybe it is time make it part of your healthier home.  Consider having your house assessed by a BPI accredited company.  Our certified advisors can help determine how safe your home is and what kind of ventilation you need.  You never can tell what secrets may hide right under your nose.

 photo from panisonic.com

 

Benjamin Franklin on Lead Poisoning

October 25, 2010

Lead poisoning isn’t a new problem.  Here’s a bit of an early warning from more than 200 years ago, a letter from Benjamin Franklin to a friend on the issue. [From several sources on the web, including http://www.ledizolv.com/LearnAbout/LeadHazards/benfranklin.asp]

Phila July 31, 1786 (To Benjamin Vaughan)

Dear Friend,

I recollect that when I had the great Pleasure of seeing you at Southampton, now a 12 month since, we had some Conversation on the bad Effects of Lead taken inwardly; and that at your Request I promis’d to send you in writing a particular Account of several Facts I then mention’d to you, of which you thought some good Use might be made. I now sit down to fulfil that Promise.

The first Thing I remember of this kind, was a general discourse in Boston when I was a Boy, of a Complaint from North Carolina against New England Rum, that it poison’d their People, giving them the Dry Bellyach, with a Loss of the Use of their Limbs. The Distilleries being examin’d on the Occasion, it was found that several of them used leaden Still-heads and Worms, and the Physicians were of the Opinion that the Mischief was occasion’d by that Use of Lead. The Legislature of the Massachusetts thereupon pass’d an Act prohibiting under severe Penalties the Use of such Still-heads & Worms thereafter. Inclos’d I send you a Copy of the Act, taken from my printed Law book.

In 1724, being in London, I went to work in the Printing-House of Mr. Palmer, Bartholomew Close as a Compositor. I there found a Practice I had never seen before, of drying a Case of Types, (which are wet in Distribution) by placing it sloping before the Fire. I found this had the additional Advantage, when the Types were not only dry’d but heated, of being comfortable to the Hands working over them in cold weather. I therefore sometimes heated my Case when the Types did not want drying. But an old Workman observing it, advis’d me not to do so, telling me I might lose the Use of my Hands by it, as two of our Companions had nearly done, one of whom that us’d to earn his Guinea a Week could not then make more than ten Shillings and the other, who had the Dangles, but Seven & sixpense. This, with a kind of obscure Pain that I had sometimes felt as it were in the Bones of my Hand when working over the Types made very hot, induc’d me to omit the Practice. But talking afterwards with Mr. James, a Letter-founder in the same Close, and asking him if his People, who work’d over the little Furnaces of melted Metal, were not subject to that Disorder; he made light of any Danger from the Effluvia, but ascrib’d it to Particles of the Metal swallow’d with their Food by slovenly Workmen, who went to their Meals after handling the Metal, without well-washing their Fingers, so that some of the metalline Particles were taken off by their Bread and eaten with it. This appear’d to have some Reason in it. But the Pain I had experienc’d made me still afraid of those Effluvia.

Being in Derbishire at some of the Furnaces for Smelting of Lead Ore, I was told that the Smoke of those Furnaces was pernicious to the neighboring Grass and other Vegetables. But I do not recollect to have heard any thing of the Effect of such Vegetables eaten by Animals. It may be well to make the Enquiry.

In America I have often observed that on the Roofs of our shingled Houses where Moss is apt to grow in northern Exposures, if there be any thing on the Roof painted with white lead, such as Balusters, or Frames of dormant Windows, &c. there is constantly a streak on the Shingles from such Paint down to the Eaves, on which no Moss will grow, but the Wood remains constantly clean & free from it.–We seldom drink Rain Water that falls on our Houses; and if we did, perhaps the small Quantity of Lead descending from such Paint, might not be sufficient to produce any sensible ill Effect on our Bodies. But I have of a Case in Europe, I forgot the Place, where a whole Family was afflicted with what we call the Dry-Bellyach, or Colica Pictonum, by drinking Rain Water. It was at a Country Seat, which being situated too high to have the Advantage of a Well, was supply’d with Water from a Tank which receiv’d the Water from the leaded Roofs. This had been drank several Years without Mischief; but some young Trees planted near the House, growing up above the Roof, and shedding their Leaves upon it, it was suppos’d that an Acid in those Leaves had corroded the Lead they cover’d, and furnish’d the Water of that Year with its baneful Particles & Qualities.

When I was in Paris with Sir John Pringle in 1767, he visited La Charite, a Hospital particularly famous for the Cure of that Malady, and brought from thence a Pamphlet, containing a List of the Names of Persons, specifying their Professions or Trades, who had been cured there. I had the Curiosity to examine that List, and found that all the Patients were of Trades that some way or other use or work in Lead; such as Plumbers, Glasiers, Painters, &c. excepting only two kinds, Stonecutters and Soldiers. These I could not reconcile to my Notion that Lead was the Cause of that Disorder. But on my mentioning this Difficulty to a Physician of that Hospital, he inform’d me that the Stonecutters are continually using melted Lead to fix the Ends of Iron Balustrades in Stone; and that the Soldiers had been emply’d by Painters as Labourers in Grinding of Colours.

This, my dear friend, is all I can at present recollect on the Subject. You will see by it, that the Opinion of this mischievous Effect from Lead, is at least above Sixty Years old; and you will observe with Concern how long a useful Truth may be known, and exist, before it is generally receiv’d and practis’d on.

— I am, ever,

Yours most affectionately

B. Franklin

(Benjamin Vaughan was a youthful admirer and close friend of Franklin, who was 80 years old when he wrote to Vaughan. The letter press copy of Franklin’s communication is in the Library of Congress, the holograph not having survived. The letter is reproduced here with the original capitalization and spelling.)


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