Posts Tagged ‘heat’

Fans Only Cool People… what?

July 17, 2014

My House - New Orleans - Kitchen 2010.jpg
In these hot summer months we love our fans of all kinds, desk fans, ceiling fans, clip on fans, the list goes on.  Naturally, if we are in a warm room we turn on the ceiling fan to help cool the room.  When we leave the room, we leave the fan on so it can continue cooling.  If it cools us, it will cool the room, right?  Wrong.  Fans have fooled us all.  The U.S. Department of Energy reminds us that fans cool people, not rooms.  How?  They create a wind chill effect by moving air over our skin.  As far as the room goes, the fan will actually create more heat in the room because of its motor.  Not only that, but by leaving it on, you are increasing your electric bill.  Sounds pretty counterproductive, doesn’t it?

You aren’t without options though.  Sure, cool off with a fan while you are in the room and turn it off when you leave.  That would be using fans efficiently.  Or, get an energy audit to see why that room is so warm in the first place.  This would help you to use your home more efficiently.

Feel free to share with your fellow homeowners, we can’t let anyone else get fooled by the fan.

Thanks for stopping by!
-April

 

Picture Source:  “My House – New Orleans – Kitchen 2010” by Alex CastroFlickr: My House – New Orleans – 2010. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Desperate for a Cool Down?

July 10, 2014

shutterstock_74052550

As summer continues to heat up, we all end up desperate for a cool down.  Nothing is more frustrating than running the AC constantly and still having hotspots in our homes or hot rooms!  I won’t even mention those high utility bills.  Good news!  There are options to look into that can help even out the temperatures in your home, reduce your utility bill and give you that cool down you are looking for.

  1. Get an energy audit – Here’s a video to help explain.
  2. Do the improvements – We usually start with Air Sealing.  You could save 5 to 30 percent on your energy bill by making efficiency upgrades that a home energy audit can identify.  (U.S. Department of Energy)
  3. Enjoy your comfortable home – Go ahead, picture it.

We all need a break from the heat, sometimes a cool drink or a scoop of ice cream just doesn’t cut it.  Give yourself a more lasting cool down, keep the heat outside.  Relax, save money and be cool in the comfort of your own home.

Feel free to share this post with your fellow homeowners.  Let’s not leave anyone desperate for a cool down.

Thanks for stopping by!
-April

Do you drive with the windows down or blast the AC?

June 12, 2014

This summer you might be spending some time on the road.  It’s a great time to vacation.  Seeking fuel efficiency in your vehicle means going easy on the pedal, but how do we keep cool on the hot summer road trips?  Do we drive with the windows down or blast the AC? Road Trip Efficiently Apparently keeping your windows down is more efficient  than blasting the AC.  We can safely argue that it is not as efficient as keeping the windows up and not using the AC.   I wouldn’t recommend this for a summer trip unless you want to know what that bug feels like under the magnifying glass! Cranking up the AC at home means comfort of course, and for some it’s a matter of health and safety especially when it gets hot.   We wouldn’t think of not using the AC when the temperature is soaring outside, but like your car, you can run your home more efficiently. How?  Keep your AC tuned up!  Regular maintenance helps avoid unexpected repairs.  While you are at it, tune up your house too.  Recommendations from an energy audit help you keep the cool where you want it, inside and the hot where you like it, outside.  In fact air sealing and insulation improvements can reduce the amount of cooling you need. Thanks, Jason Photo from Nicholas A. Tonelli under  creative commons license

Keeping Cool: More than Comfort, In Crisis

July 2, 2013

Summer is in full effect and with it comes the heat!  The CDC has some great tips to help us get through this safely.

Bus ad

  • Stay in an air-conditioned indoor location as much as possible.
  • Drink plenty of fluids even if you don’t feel thirsty.
  • Wear loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing and sunscreen.
  • Schedule outdoor activities carefully.
  • Pace yourself.
  • Take cool showers or baths to cool down.
  • Check on a friend or neighbor and have someone do the same for you.
  • Do not leave children or pets in cars.
  • Check the local news for health and safety updates.

It’s no accident that air conditioning is at the top of the list.  It is the number one line of defense against the heat.   By all means get outside and enjoy the season, but make sure you have a safe place to retreat to when it gets too hot.

Keeping the AC in your home in good working order is more than a matter of comfort, it’s about safety!

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

Shedding Light on Solar Hot Water

September 12, 2008

At the ACEEE conference, there was attention given to solar hot water—a technology that is big in Europe and now even required in Hawaii.  Using the sun to heat your water is great for the environment and for your wallet! Especially with today’s skyrocketing energy costs! You can save up to 75% on water heating costs with a professionally installed solar system.

You don‘t have to live in sunny Arizona to benefit from solar. Even in cloudier locations like Syracuse or Seattle or Canada, a solar hot water system can help meet your hot water needs!

Another myth among homeowners is that solar hot water systems are too expensive to install. For example, in New York, there are currently generous tax credits and incentives that can put 65% or more of the system cost back in your pocket! Depending on what you use now to heat your water (gas, oil, electric), how much you‘re paying for that fuel, and how much hot water you use (and if like me you have teenage daughters, the answer is A LOT!), you can recoup the cost of the system in as little 3 to 5 years. After that, it‘s money in your pocket!

So how does it work? Solar hot water systems are usually used to heat water for basic household needs such as laundry, bathing, dishwashing, and cooking. These systems use solar energy – gathered from solar collectors usually mounted on your roof – to preheat water coming into a standard water heater. The warmer the water from the solar heater, the less conventional fuel is needed to provide for the household‘s hot water demands.

During the summer, a properly sized solar hot water system can provide up to 100% of a household‘s needs! In the winter, it will be less in snowy climates. On average, however, solar hot water systems meet between 60% to 70% of a home‘s annual load.

Solar systems not only save you money on your energy bills, they also increase your energy independence and decrease your environmental impact.   Visit the GreenHomes site to see if solar hot water is right for your home.

 -Mike

10 Simple Home Energy Saving Tips

August 14, 2008

Even a mild winter means a long heating season, and with the cost of energy spiraling ever upwards, homeowners are looking for ways to stay within their heating budget. Dialing down the thermostat is one obvious solution, but there are some simple things you can do now to achieve significant savings on energy, while still keeping your family comfortable. Here are ten tips from GreenHomes America that will help you keep the bills down, and comfort up, this winter:1.     The attic is a great place to start.  Air leaks from rooms below into the attic can be one of the biggest drains on energy and your bank account.  Sealing attic air leaks can have a huge impact.  

2.    Use caulk or foam to seal around the plumbing stack vent, where it goes through floors. This is a pipe (PVC, or cast iron in older homes) that runs from the basement sewer pipe up through every floor, and out through the roof.   Holes for electric wiring, and around chimneys, are also problem areas worth addressing.

3.     Insulate and air-seal your attic hatch. Often, builders overlook the hatch when they insulate the attic.

4.     Many homes today have recessed ceiling lights, also called can lights. These fixtures look great, but are a notorious source of heat leaks into the attic, and between floors.  You can install new air-tight fixtures, use air-tight baffles, or build air-tight boxes around them in the attic.  With existing fixtures, check with an electrician first to make sure the fixtures you have are “IC” rated so it’s safe to put insulation against them.

5.     Only after you’ve done air-sealing, put an extra layer of insulation on the attic floor, on top of the insulation you currently have there.  Sixteen to 24-inches is not excessive in cold climates—and it will keep you cooler in the summer too!

6.    Vents to the outside of your home are pipelines for cold air leaking in, and warm air leaking out.  Install one-way baffles on your kitchen fan vent, dryer vent, and bathroom fan vents.

7.    Keep your boiler and furnace tuned up.   If they’re reaching the end of their lifespan, consider replacing with a high-efficiency unit, one that at least qualifies for Energy Star®.   

8.    Install and use a programmable thermostat—this ensures that you don’t forget to turn the heat down at night or while you’re away at work.

9.    Do you have a forced air heating or cooling system? If so, make sure to seal and insulate the ductwork in attics and crawl spaces. As much as 30% of the air you heat (or cool in the summer) can escape outside through leaky ducts.

10.  Replacing appliances? Look for Energy Star® qualified models of dishwashers, refrigerators, light fixtures, and compact fluorescent bulbs.

With some advice from your local home center, and four or five free weekends, a handy homeowner can tackle all of these projects. The energy savings, and effect on comfort, are cumulative, so do as many as you can. If you don’t relish the idea of strapping on a tool belt, consider a contractor that specializes in home energy solutions. GreenHomes America , is one option that can complete the entire scope of work in a few days. Their whole-home solutions guarantee a minimum 25% reduction in energy consumption, with most customers seeing much higher reductions, often up to 40, 50 and 60 percent. And whether you do the work yourself or you have it done by a contractor, after you tighten the house you should have any combustion equipment like furnaces and water heaters tested to make sure they’re running safely and efficiently.

8 Tips on How Not to Lose Your Cool

July 24, 2008

With much of the country sweating through the second heat wave of the summer, and the cost of energy spiraling ever upwards, homeowners are searching for ways to stay within their home cooling budget. Bumping up the thermostat, or opting for fans rather than air conditioning, are two obvious options, but there are some simple things you can do now to achieve significant savings on energy, while still keeping your family comfortable. Here are eight tips from GreenHomes America that will help you keep the bills down, and comfort up, this summer:

1.     Start by keeping cool air in, and hot air out! When the temperature drops at night, if it’s cooler outside than in, open your windows. In the morning, shut them, and keep shades down to block out direct sunlight.

2.     Focus on your attic.  In the summer, temperatures in the attic can climb to more than 150oF.  This tremendous heat can conducts down into your home in a variety of ways.  Insulating and air-sealing your attic will have a huge impact. 

·       Carefully air seal any leaks between the attic and the area below. Common air leak sources include recessed lights, gaps around chimneys, plumbing penetrations, and the attic hatch (which contractors often overlook when insulating the attic).

·       Only after you’ve done air-sealing, put an extra layer of insulation on the attic floor, on top of the insulation you currently have there.  Sixteen to 24-inches is not excessive —and will help keep you warmer in the winter, too!

3.     Use efficient lighting and appliances.  With incandescent and halogen lights, most of the electricity goes to producing heat rather than light.  Not only does this mean you’re overpaying for lighting, but you’re creating a lot of unwanted heat in the rooms you’re trying to keep cool.  Compact florescent light bulbs have improved greatly over the past several years, so there’s no need to worry about the humming, slow starts, and ghoulish colors of years past – and they’re efficient and run cooler. With lighting or appliances, look for Energy Star® qualified models. 

4.     If you have a central or window air-conditioner, keep it tuned up. Clean the filters so they’re not clogged, and vacuum the dust and cobwebs out of the condenser fins.  If it’s more than 10 years old, consider replacing with a high-efficiency unit, one that at least qualifies for Energy Star.

5.     Do you have a forced air heating or cooling system? Seal and insulate the ductwork in attics and crawl spaces.  As much as 30% of the air you cool (or heat in the winter) can escape outside through leaky ducts.

6.     Use a bath fan vented to the outside to remove the heat and humidity created by showering. If you don’t have a bath fan, install one. If you do have a bath fan, make sure it’s powerful enough to do the job (often builders skimp on this). To check, close the window, turn on the fan, and close the door to the bathroom so its open just a crack: standing on the inside, can you feel air moving through the crack? If not, consider upgrading your fan.

7.     Similarly, use a kitchen exhaust fan to remove heat and moisture created by cooking.  This has the added benefit of removing pollutants, especially if you cook with gas.

8.     Planting deciduous trees on the south side of a house can help keep your home cool in the summer.  In many parts of the country, maples, oaks, and birches are good trees to consider.  Because they drop their leaves in the fall, they let sunlight through to help warm your house in the winter.

Many of these tips are simple things you can do to start saving right away.  With some advice from your local home center, and two or three free weekends, a handy homeowner can tackle these projects. The energy savings, and effect on comfort, are cumulative, so do as many as you can. To get even deeper savings, get a comprehensive home energy assessment, and let trained and certified crews install your improvements. 

And whether you do the work yourself or you have it done by a contractor, after you make any changes to the house you should have any combustion equipment like furnaces and water heaters tested to make sure they’re running safely and efficiently.  


%d bloggers like this: