Posts Tagged ‘home improvement’

Oh No, Here Comes Another Learning Experience!

October 24, 2013

energy action

Nothing like learning from our experiences or mistakes is there?  Becoming aware of our energy use, naturally leads to finding ways to reduce that usage.  In celebration of Energy Action month you could really geek out on some resources out there like this from the National Academy of Sciences, But to make it relevant and to “bring it home” consider a  home energy assessment.

A good energy advisor will be able to help you in your energy awareness right where it matters most.  Look for an assessment of your home that also provides solutions you can act on, not just a list of problems.  Awareness is a great start,  and embracing the learning experience with action is putting the right foot forward and that is what October is all about.

 

Thanks,

Jason

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Great Green Holiday Ideas from GreenHomes America Partner WESCO

December 17, 2012

One of our newest locations, Washington Energy Services, recently posted some great tips on greening your Holiday season.  Love the local focus here, nothing like supporting your community and also enjoying the season while you do it!

GH-Home_big

Please read on here, and if you are in the area, reach out to a part of the Green Team, you will be glad you did.

Happy Holidays!

Jason

Have a Heart

November 26, 2012

Maybe you have a great HVAC company that services your equipment.  It’s not always the easiest thing to do, and kudos if you’ve found a good one.   With a good provider I like service agreements because you know your equipment is taken care of and in a cost effective way.  But a good HVAC contractor should consider the whole house when thinking of heating and cooling systems not just the box in the basement or the attic.

 

From the Building Performance Institute

 

As we go into fall and colder weather, it’s time for tune ups, and service calls, but what about the rest of your home as well.  Who is paying attention to that?  A heart works well when we take care of the rest of our body.  We eat well, exercise and get good sleep, but also protect ourselves from the cold.  Put on a cap, coat and boots before going outside or you’ll get sick right?

Is your HVAC company’s solution to comfort a bigger “heart”, more ducts, more baseboard,  more cooling, or does it consider a better house so that heart “fits” well and works as it should?  Keep in mind that the heart is a very important part, but it is part of the whole.  Taking care of the whole house can really make a difference, as they say, “Home is where the Heart is!”

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

Energy Efficient Tax Credits For 2011 and 2012

March 20, 2012

It’s that time of year again, and although we have written about Energy Efficiency tax credits for 2011 before, if you had work done this past year, it might be time to review.  You can also go to our learning center for solutions to common problems we fix in homes just like yours, as well as links to our franchise locations; they can provide details about incentives available in their area.

Many of the federal tax credits ended in 2011, but not all of them.  What will continue for 2012, are credits for some renewable energy systems.  Solar water heating and photovoltaic systems, small wind systems, and geothermal heat pumps, are all eligible measures through 2016.  If you are thinking of alternatives, consider our interactive online home to get a better sense of whether or not these types of improvements are really what you need this year.

Alternative energy systems can be expensive, and it often makes the most sense to install them in homes that are very efficient from the start.  You might be surprised by what some simple measures can save you money.  Tax credit or not, insulation, air sealing and efficient heating and hot water systems can pay for themselves in short order.  Simple measures that cost less and save you more!

Thanks,

Jason

Keep your eye on the ball…at home!

October 17, 2011

Baseball fans, great technology comes to the World Series.  In fact it’s the same technology we bring to your home.  The AP recently reported That a number of Infrared cameras will be trained on batters in the upcoming World Series games.  The cameras will be used to pick up the heat generated from friction, say when a fast ball skims off a bat or a glove.  The Fox network is trying them out this year so they won’t be used in making calls, but they could be.  Hey at least maybe we will get a glimpse of this great technology just watching the games.

At your home base, we don’t need to see the heat patterns of a knuckle ball off a bat to cry foul, but the cameras our advisors bring along in assessing your home do help you avoid the curve balls of missing insulation, moisture problems, dangerous wiring, and un-controlled airflow.  Rest assured with the right technology and skills, troubleshooting your comfort problems with GreenHomes America will help you knock it out of the park!   

Thanks,

Jason

Photo by Tyrone Turner, in this National Geographic 2009 article

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

What if home improvement paid you back?

April 20, 2011

Each year, Remodeling Magazine and Realtor Magazine team up to produce the Cost vs. Value report.  The study looks at remodeling costs and resale value for more than 30 common home improvement projects.  But the report is missing one thing.  What about payback?

Many of the projects could be tweaked just a little to include some energy efficiency improvements at the same time. It’s a super-smart time to add these steps while drywall is already off and walls are already open – you cut the dust and prices later over doing these same improvements as stand alone projects.  These upgraded projects would potentially add not just value, but offer savings through reduced energy costs.

Check out this payback case study from Chicago.  The example shows how a few extra project steps could really save money through energy savings.  Let the examples inspire your own home remodeling projects!


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