Posts Tagged ‘home performance’

Climate Change, the Indoor Environment and Health: Pay attention, your life depends on how you treat your house.

June 14, 2011

 A recent study from the Institute of Medicine identifies how climate change affects the environment in our homes which has an impact on our nation’s health. It is Ironic that when the weather gets worse, we seek shelter indoors from extremes outside and in doing so still potentially put our health at risk. It is also reassuring that as a Home Performance contractor our work on homes is just what the “doctor ordered”. Most of the issues raised in the report are exactly the things we keep an eye out for with health and safety in mind. Every job we do starts and finishes with testing to ensure your home is a safe haven.

The report identifies 5 major issues:

Indoor Air quality: People don’t think all the cleaning chemicals under the sink amount to much but they can. We tend to leave all sorts of chemicals in our homes, leave connections to garages full of thing we shouldn’t breathe. We also have combustion appliances in our home which left un-checked can cause issues with CO. Our advisors keep an eye out for these conditions, it’s an integral part or health and safety for us.

Dampness and Moisture: Extreme weather conditions outside lead to more frequent issues in our homes as water gets in where it shouldn’t. Cooling systems can contribute to moisture issue if not handled properly and certainly basements and crawlspaces do too. There are fixes for spaces with moisture issues that we sometimes ignore until it’s too late.

Bugs and Bugs: weather and climate change can influence infectious diseases and pests and expanding the area where they flourish. A new “bug in town” will lead to new exposure for some of us and possibly an increase in pesticides previously not used before. Moisture in our home can lead to issues with mold and other pests. A home should be a healthy haven not a petri dish.

Thermal Stress: High heat especially for those not prepared or more susceptible such as the elderly, will experience thermal stress almost exclusively inside. With temperature extremes come power outages compromising our ability to run cooling systems. Treating our buildings by insulating against the heat helps buffer your home.

Building Ventilation, Weatherization and Energy use: As we experience climate change and weather extremes it gives us good reason to weatherize but it must be handled with expertise and always with a mind towards health and safety. No longer can we tighten up a home or insulate it without thinking about the whole house. GreenHomes America makes sure that every home is left a healthier home at job’s end.

“Fixing” old buildings with new methods can create new problems if not done properly.  Being a BPI accredited company   means we are committed to quality and accountability. A comprehensive Home Assessment with solutions provided to you from our team of experts will offer the safest answers to the ever changing environment inside.

When to hire a Professional

April 13, 2011

When it comes to weatherization and our search for comfort, there are lots of things homeowners can successfully accomplish on their own. Many of us have added weather-stripping or tightened up a door and these things may help, but may not make a huge impact on the comfort of the home.

 A Home Performance professional is one that focuses on improving energy efficiency as well as comfort, health and safety in a home. The reason we encourage homeowners to hire a Home Performance professional when it comes to the efficiency, health and safety of their home is simple: It’s complicated. A house is a dynamic system with many parts that interact with each other. It is not just a heating or cooling unit, not just an attic with insulation (or one that is un-insulated), a drafty room, condensation on the windows, not just a bath fan or a damp basement, but an intricate system that needs to be maintained and tuned. No one expects a furnace to work well year after year without a tune-up and in fact it’s a health and safety issue if it isn’t maintained. The same goes for the home.

Hiring a professional to assess the home can help to establish a game plan, and in Home Performance may cover the work of a number of trades such as HVAC, moisture management, ventilation, insulation and air-sealing, and that is a good thing. The value for a homeowner is that they hire someone who understands the interactions in a home, not just one part. It helps them to make an informed decision.

Hiring a number of contractors to complete a project can work too, but it certainly is harder on the homeowner, and there is also a greater risk of some details being overlooked. Either way there may be some recommended measures that the homeowner will still want to take on and that’s ok too, since now they are making an informed decision and know what they are doing is worth the effort and investment.

Speaking of investment, often when a homeowner calls a professional to fix a problem such as comfort in the home, they think of it as an expense. The work of a Home Performance Professional not only addresses comfort issues, but by increasing the efficiency of the home, the improvements often pay for themselves at the same time. The cost of hiring a professional in this instance can be a real money saver.

This post can also be seen at elocal.com where we  contibute as part of a panel of experts.

GreenHomes America Welcomes Maine, Long Island, and Virginia to the party!

January 26, 2011

We’re delighted to announce new GreenHomes locations in Maine, Long Island, and Southeastern Virginia.

Joining the GreenHomes family are:

  • Thayer Corporation  A GreenHomes America PartnerThayer Corporation serving Maine from the Portland area through Lewiston Auburn.  Founded in 1981, and led by Dan Thayer, Thayer Corp is one of the largest and most successful HVAC companies in Maine.
  • Master Mechanical Plumbing and HeatingMaster Mechanical, based in Farmingdale, NY, has been providing Long Islanders with a full-range of HVAC services since 1995.  Principal Jamie Bonifazio is leading the charge to add comprehensive home performance solutions to their mix.
  • Energy Efficient Solutions, A GreenHomes America partnerEnergy Efficient Solutions began in 2001 under the leadership of Chuck Worley and provides services from Richmond through the Hampton Roads pennisula down to Virginia Beach.  Joining Chuck’s team is well-know expert Ray Walsh who’s trained contractors and energy raters throughout Virgnia and the mid-Altantic.

We’re absolutely thrilled to have three great companies join GreenHomes, and it’s exciting that they are all already on the street delivering comprehensive home performance solutions.  You can read more about these new additions or find our other locations on the GreenHomes website.

Stay tuned–there are additional locations on the way soon!

Thanks,
Mike

ABC Cooling & Heating receives the 2010 New Horizon Award

January 24, 2011

Congratulations to GreenHomes partner ABC Cooling & Heating of Fresno, CA who last week won the 2010 New Horizon Award from the Greater Fresno Area Chamber of Commerce.  The award was given to the company for “achieving a more efficient and eco-friendly approach to business while anticipating the demands of tomorrow”.  And with the great team they have in place and the way they’ve embrace a home performance approach to helping their customers, I can’t say I’m surprised.  An excellent group of people working under the thoughtful leadership of Jerry Unruh.  Well done!

Thanks,
Mike

Insulation For Your Hot Water System

November 19, 2010

Okay, this is the last article in my insulation marathon. If you have an older hot water system and it is not already properly insulated, this adding some more insulation is of the quickest and cheapest ways to save energy.

Most water heater’s storage tanks have some insulation as a standard feature, if you want to know if yours could do with a little extra, touch it – if it is warm to the touch it could use more.

Before I go any further let me draw a distinction between electric and gas, propane, or oil-fired water heaters. Electric water heaters are reasonably easy and safe to deal with on your own, but gas and oil-fired heaters are more dangerous so we recommend that you call in a licensed contractor to insulate these heaters for you.

Let me also point out that most new water heaters have sufficient insulation, and you can void the warranty be adding additional insulation, so make sure you know what you’re dealing with before you start.

To insulate an electric water heater simply follow the instructions on the purpose-built blanket that you have purchased. If the blanket doesn’t have instructions, or the instructions are confusing, you can follow the guidelines set by the U.S. Department of Energy. Once you have your new blanket installed be sure to set the water temperature below 130 degrees F because the wiring may overheat above this temperature.

Another step you can take to save energy is to insulate your hot water pipes. Insulating piping can save energy by keeping water hot until it reaches its destination (your shower, sink, clothes or dish washer), thereby reducing the temperature you need to set your heater at by as much as 4 degrees F. You can buy purpose-built pipe sleeves for this job from your local hardware store. Make sure you match the external diameter of your pipes to the internal diameter of the pipe sleeve for a tight fit.

I think I’ve touched all bases as far as home insulation goes. As always, if you have questions give us a holler!

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!

Thanks,
Mike

ACI New England – a don’t miss event for those who are in the business of fixing homes

September 22, 2010

For 25 years, the ACI (formerly Affordable Comfort) conference, has been the go-to destination to learn about home performance and building science in existing homes.  Even though, as this video attests ACI helps our competitors elevate their games, GreenHomes is proud to be a sustaining sponsor.

Coming up Oct 6-7 in Masschussetts is an outstanding regional event ACI New England.  We encourage audits, contractors, utility program officials, home inspectors, energy raters, and anyone who care about the comfort, durability, and energy-efficiency of existing homes–and the health and safety of the homes’ occupants–to attend. 

Thanks,
Mike

Home performance comes to Utah with GreenHomes America and ESCO Services

September 1, 2010

We’re delighted to welcome Utah-based ESCO Services to the GreenHomes family.

Since 1977, ESCO has been providing services to Utah homeowners, including, heating, cooling, electrical, and plumbing.  They serve metropolitan Salt Lake City area, as well as Davis, Summit and Tooele counties. 

With their commitment to quality and customer service, they’re a great fit with GreenHomes, and we look forward to bringing home performance to Utah and hit the ground running with Utah’s new Home Performance with ENERGY STAR program.

Read the more about GreenHomes/ESCO venture.

Thanks,
Mike

Reduce your Risk – Hire a BPI Gold Star Accredited Contractor

August 5, 2010

Chances are good that you, or someone you know, have had a bad experience with a home improvement contractor. We’ve all heard stories of shoddy workmanship, inflated costs and projects completed late—or not at all. Homeowners need protection. So do the good contractors.

Improving the energy efficiency, durability, comfort, health and safety of your home is a great investment, but you’ll get the most bang for your buck if you choose a home performance contractor, someone with specialist training and skills.

That’s where we come in. The Building Performance Institute, Inc. (BPI) is the national standards development and credentialing organization for contractors that offer those specialist skills. We set the standards they have to meet, then certify individuals that prove their ability to conduct whole-home energy and safety assessments, seal air leaks, install insulation or fine-tune your furnace or air conditioner.

The highest level you can find when you’re researching a home performance contractor is a BPI Gold Star Accredited Contracting Company. Not only do these companies employ those certified professionals that have proven that their skills meet our national standards, they also offer you something almost unheard of in the contracting world—a formal Quality Assurance Program.

Each and every BPI Gold Star Accredited Contracting Company in the United States is required to participate in our national Quality Assurance Program. Contractors must conduct tests on your home before they start and after they’ve finished the job to make sure it was done right. They have to fix any problems identified during the test-out phase and have you, the customer, sign off that you are satisfied with the work. In the case of a disagreement, contractors must also have a formal conflict resolution policy.

At the end of your project, they submit a report that includes your sign off that you’re satisfied. BPI audits all the paperwork and also conducts periodic inspections on the company’s work throughout the year just to make sure they’re batting 1,000 (or as close as possible).

It is this commitment to quality that sets BPI Gold Star Accredited Contractors apart. That is why BPI Accreditation is a prerequisite for contractors participating in funded energy efficiency incentive programs in states like New York, New Jersey and, soon, California.

When you choose a BPI Gold Star Accredited Contracting Company, you know you will get quality work, lower energy bills, enhanced comfort and improved durability without ever risking the health and safety of your family.

How’s that for homeowner protection?

Larry Zarker is the CEO of the Building Performance Institute, Inc. (BPI), an independent, not-for-profit organization committed to the improvement of home performance via affiliate training, certification, accreditation and quality assurance programs for residential contractors and their customers.

ABC Cooling Up and Running

July 30, 2010

After a couple months of intensive GreenHomes training, we’re on the street in Hayward with ABC Cooling.  And it’s good to see exactly the customer response and satisfaction that we’ve expected.   From Lynne R.,

“As a retired lawyer, I enjoyed watching the expert crew conduct my Comprehensive Home Energy Audit.   Within two days, I had my personal report showing the different ways I could save money and improve my home.”

 This is something we’ve come to expect, but it was nonetheless great to see how engaged she was in the process and how much she wanted to learn from the audit.   It’s good to be able to serve folks in Northern California.

Thanks,
Mike


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