Posts Tagged ‘spring’

Can you see that? Contact lenses of the future see infrared?

April 2, 2014

It sounds like science fiction, but having contact lenses that would see infrared might be a great thing for our energy auditors. I’m not sure how soon technology like that will be available, but IR imaging is something our advisors use often.IR_0538
Many of us use infrared on a daily basis. TV remotes for example use an IR beam we can’t see with the naked eye. A TV remote is not the same spectrum as our cameras pick up, so don’t try and do an energy audit with one.
Thermal cameras were tried briefly in professional baseball; focused on the strike zone they picked up the heat of the ball. It’s this kind of technology that can help an auditor.
IR is useful to see cold or hot spots on a wall that should be insulated, or maybe moisture damage that has gone unnoticed. It can also be combined with a fan run in the home to show air flow issues. The picture shows warm air making its way into a home from an attic hatch.
Building science, not science fiction is how we approach our audits. But, if someone wants to send out a pair of contact lenses, I’ll give them a try. Even just one may be too Sci-Fi to see everything in infrared.
Thanks, Jason

Don’t eat your Boots

March 24, 2014

For those in the eastern part of the country, experiencing record breaking cold temperatures and another round of storms, you may be wondering if the continent has shifted north to the arctic, or if winter will ever go away. To cheer myself up, I’ve been reading a book called “The Man Who Ate His Boots: The Tragic History of the Search for the Northwest Passage” by Anthony Brandt. Winter doesn’t seem so bad anymore, nor does Spring.

Wintering over in the arctic at -30F with your ship frozen in the ice just so you can go further North when it thaws seems… kind of crazy. It’s not for me, but what I did find fascinating with this history, was the ingenuity that came from these voyages over two centuries ago and how little it transferred to home.

One explorer, Captain Parry spent some time with a stove maker to design a better system that not only kept the ship warm and melted ice for the crew, but also handled condensation build up in their makeshift home for the winter. Below zero outside and 70 degrees inside must have felt pretty good. It was not simply a better stove. It was a system. Insulation was added, heat was distributed and in addition to comfort, they burned less fuel. Just like your home should be!

Brand writes: “Mr. Sylvester and Captain Parry had invented a remarkably efficient form of central heating. It’s a shame the system was not applied to British housing, which remained heated entirely by coal fireplaces into quite recent times.

Past explorations led to eating leather boots to survive and worse, and Captain Parry learned a thing or two. Don’t eat your boots to survive at home. Consider making your ship more bearable for the rest of this season and for the next! I’m guessing the good Captain made himself comfortable at home too.

Spring is coming!

 

Thanks,

Jason

image from http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AIcebergs.jpg

 

March Madness and the Final Four

March 10, 2014

BasketballMad as a March Hare? We tend to get a bit cagey at the end of the winter ready for spring to well, spring. At least there’s college basketball! It’s great to see these teams move their way through the roster towards April, warmer weather and the Final Four!
Guard against foul weather and center your home with the slam dunk of comfort, efficiency, health and safety. It’s what every home should be!

Thanks,

Jason

Spring Tune up: An ounce of prevention is worth a ton of cooling!

May 13, 2013

326You should get your furnace and AC serviced annually to make sure they’re operating safely and efficiently. And we find it’s best to do that with a regular service agreement.  Hopefully this will prevent problems before they happen. Some things a technician will check as we go into the cooling season are:

Evaporator and condenser air conditioning coils. Dirty coils reduce the system’s ability to cool your home and cause the system to run longer,

Refrigerant level: Too much or too little refrigerant will make your system less efficient increasing energy costs and reducing the life of the equipment.

Blower components should be cleaned and adjusted to provide proper system airflow for greater comfort levels. Airflow problems can reduce your system’s efficiency by up to 15 percent.

These fixes are part a good service visit, but is it’s a good idea to inspect and change air filters on a monthly basis and that is something you can do.

Most of our locations offer our service agreement customers a discount on both service and replacement since we can schedule them before the busy season.  An ounce of prevention can help your system run better and help you stay cool.

Thanks,

Jason

Spring Ahead and Think Ahead Too: Save Yourself From More than a Headache from Carbon Monoxide!

March 8, 2012

Here is an excellent reminder from the CDC for those who need to adjust to daylight savings this Sunday March 11, 2012: change the batteries in your CO detector.   CO Poisoning can be stopped

I’ve mentioned the dangers of CO in our homes in past posts such as in Testing: more than efficiency for safety’s sake  or A Bad Idea: unvented gas fire place.  I suspect CO may even have an unintended influence on us after Thanksgiving dinner.

It’s a simple thing to check the batteries or maybe just test the unit as some are hardwired.  It is also important to make sure your CO detector alarms at low levels of carbon monoxide.  The UL standards for CO detectors start at a level of 70 PPM for a 1-2 hour exposure.  Higher levels are obviously worse, but I think the lower range is just as dangerous. CO in the air robs us of oxygen and to be safe, I’d like the levels in my home to be zero.

The U.S. consumer product safety commission suggests that most folks are not affected in the low exposure ranges of 1-70 PPM.  Funny because others, such as The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has established a recommended exposure limit of 35 PPM.  We spend as much time if not more in our homes than on the job.  This is important!

35 PPM is the same maximum level Building Performance Institute certified advisors watch out for when performing assessments on homes, but really we don’t want CO in our homes at all.  As we change our clocks and the days get longer, let’s consider longer and healthier lives as well!  

Thanks, Jason

Time to dust off the air-conditioner, hold on a minute…that’s a lot of dust!

May 11, 2011

Weathered AC unitI just noticed that parts of the country are hitting 90 or even 100 degrees.  That seems a bit much for spring, but that’s the way with weather isn’t it. It does raise the question:

How do you know when it’s time to replace your air-conditioner?

As you might guess the age of the system and how often you have had to get it fixed are sure signs that it might be time.

12 year old units are a candidate for replacement simply for efficiency sake.  There have been significant improvements. According to ENERGY STAR, replacing a central air unit with an ENERGY STAR certified one could reduce your cooling costs by 30%.

Many problems occur that make your cooling equipment less efficient, some can be repaired, but keep in mind that at some point, replacement may be more cost effective.  And if you’re thinking about a new system, it’s the perfect time to address other issues that help make your more comfortable, can reduce the cost of your AC system and save you even more money by lowering your utility bills.  Many problems that appear to be with your heating and cooling equipment are actually caused by poor insulation, air leaks, windows, or other issues.  

Here are some things to look for:

  • Some rooms in your home are too hot or too cold.  Improper equipment operation, duct problems or inadequate insulation could be the cause.
  • High Utility bills: Each cooling season can be a little different, but if you are noticing your bills going up each year it may be time for a fix. keep in mind that the cost of a new unit may be paid down by the savings in short orde
  • Humidity problems:  Poor equipment operation, inadequate or oversized equipment, and leaky ductwork can cause the air to be too dry in the winter or too humid in the summer
  • Excess noise: You could have an undersized duct system or a problem with the indoor coil of your cooling equipment.  

If any of these apply to you should have your system evaluated.  Make sure though, that you get a comprehensive energy audit of your home first.   Unfortunately, these problems can be found even in brand new homes, and so regardless of when it was built your home should get a thorough evaluation.

Short of replacement now see our cooling tips for stop-gap measures to immediate savings.

An if replacement is in the cards, there are several options to consider—including heat pumps and mini splits—that we’ll talk about those in future posts.

Thanks,
Jason.


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