Posts Tagged ‘winter’

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

 

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Bills on the Rise? Freezing, Overheating? Take a Clue from Survival on the High Seas

February 28, 2014

Nobody wants to hear about rising energy costs. For utility customers in New York, prices have going up this winter. Some of it was an accounting error, but increased demand for Natural Gas due to the swerving polar vortex helped.
Propane costs have gone up too, article from Kansas Cityreferences pricing as high as $5 a gallon. ship at seaAll of this reminds me of the days when crude oil prices were all over the proverbial road, never mind a little swerving polar vortex.
It’s not just about heating and cold winters. California is experiencing a lack of winter which sounds kind of nice coming from the Northeast. They are also seeing a drought and I’d expect a long hot summer which means an expensive cooling season ahead.
We can’t control fuel prices, but we can take control of our homes. There’s a great thing in being able to “weather the storm”. In our homes, that means comfort, but also peace of mind that we are protected from the elements. Integrating resilience, in our homes is as simple as insulating a home well and air sealing it properly. It is like preparing for a long voyage across the sea, and helps when weather or high fuel costs hit us broadside. Batten down the hatches!

Thanks,
Jason

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Ivan_Aivazovsky_-_Ship_in_the_Stormy_Sea.jpg

What can you do about Ice Dams and Roof Damage?

January 17, 2014

iceEven though we’ve had a warm spell, and the Polar Vortex seems long ago winter’s not over!  It’s still that time of year that freezing and thawing in many parts of the country means ice dams.   We have a great resource found here that will answer your questions about common household problems including ice dams.

There are some solutions to take care of them immediately but know the long term solutions are not from the outside but from the inside of your home.  It has to do with proper air sealing and insulation.

Ice on your roof may be normal, in fact sometimes it’s unavoidable. Don’t accept roof damage, dangerous icicles and roof rakes as just another fact of winter.  Have your home looked at by an energy auditor that can recommend solutions for the long term.

Thanks,

Jason

Lights! Home! Action!

December 17, 2013

light tree

The days are shorter, it’s darker, and what kind of season would it be without lights!  Here are some tips from us at GreenHomes America to make your season a bright and efficient one!

  • Switch to smaller and newer lights, consider LED lighting in particular.  There are significant savings with this newer lighting technology.  If you must have the big bulbs, switching to a smaller wattage may help (this works with all the lighting in your home).
  • Use a timer! It is good to turn off the lights when you don’t need them and much easier if you set them up on a timer.
  • Make sure lights have a (UL) label which means they Underwriters Laboratory safety requirements. (we follow BPI requirements for your home)
  • Use the right set for indoor and outdoor use.
  • Safety Check! Just like we perform on your home! New or old check all light sets for frayed wires, damaged sockets, or cracked insulation. If you find any defects, replace the entire set (if we find defects in your home we can fix them, you don’t have to throw it away).
  • All outdoor cords, plugs and sockets must be weatherproof. Keep electrical connections off the ground, and make sure wiring is kept clear of drainpipes and railings to prevent any risk of shock.  Water can cause all sorts of problems and not just with electricity.
  • Don’t overload your electrical circuits. Circuits in older homes carry a maximum of 1800 watts each. Most newer homes can handle 2400 watts each. While our friends over at CurrentSafe can speak to this, be safe!

Thanks,

Jason

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:HD_Baum01.jpg

Doing Your Part for the War on Uncomfortable?

October 16, 2013

These government posters from WWII urged homeowners to do their part, but I think they still apply today, maybe a little differently though.  The War is against inefficiency and a fight for comfort.

war

Vacation at home if you like, and make sure you and your dog are comfortable.   Maybe what you save from the travel can go towards comfort improvements at home.  Plan for winter now, I like that any time is a good time to winterize or summarize your home.

Carpooling is great, especially if you get to use that special lane on the highway!  Sharing resources is a good idea and so is reducing your fuel use.  It doesn’t mean we need to sacrifice though.  Home Performance is fighting the good fight right here on the Home front.

Take action, stay cool, stay warm, stay comfortable!

 

Jason

2nd Annual Biggest, Baddest Icicles Contest Winner Announced!

March 11, 2011

The cold and snowy winter in Central New York was a dream for fans of icicles, but a nightmare for many homeowners. However pretty, those giant icicles can form devastating ice dams on the edges of your roof, backing up water under your roofing and into the walls. Leaks and structural damage are the symptoms of a bad ice-damming problem, but are only part of a much worse, underlying problem. Ice dams are largely due to inadequate insulation and air sealing in your attic and roof. The precious heat you pump into your home escapes through the roof, melting the snow that rests on top. When the snow reaches the cold edges and eves of the roof, it refreezes into blocks of ice, sometimes weighing hundreds of pounds!

Our 2nd Annual Biggest, Baddest Icicles Contest brought in an impressive display of ice from across Central New York (Facebook album). From giant ice curtains to compact-car-sized heaps, the entries were as varied as they were scary. But we could only pick one home to receive a free comprehensive home energy assessment and $1,000 worth of attic insulation and air sealing to help prevent future instances of ice damming and keep one family warmer, safer and more comfortable, plus put some money back into their pockets!

The Winner of GreenHomes America's 2011 Biggest, Baddest Icicles Contest

And the winner is… Priscilla Thibault’s Victorian home! Like Priscilla says, “this 1858 Victorian house may have charm, but the icicles can be destructive and potentially deadly.” Not only do the icicles present a major safety hazard, but are also tell-tale signs that Pricillas’ valuable heating dollars aren’t all contributing to her family’s comfort – many of them are feeding the monster on her roof! Our crew from Syracuse will be heading out to Priscilla’s home to begin reclaiming her roof, her home’s comfort and her energy bills. Stay tuned for updates!

Thanks to everyone who entered our 2nd Annual Biggest, Baddest Icicles Contest!

Cold Winter Predicted!

August 27, 2008

If you were banking on a warm winter to save you this year, you might be in trouble. On the radio yesterday, I heard that the Farmers’ Almanac is predicting colder than average temperatures for most regions of the U.S.  Cold temperatures combined with high-energy costs could spell big trouble for a lot of homeowners.  
 
Now, I don’t know how sophisticated or accurate the Almanac’s predictions are—on their website, they state “People who follow our forecasts claim our accuracy rate is about 80–85%.” I suspect there’s a good deal of vagueness surrounding the accuracy rate, and I’d take the prediction with a grain of salt.
 
But what if it pans out, and it is a cold winter?  Even “warm” winters are usually cold in most parts of the country.  Some people could be facing heating bills more the twice what they were a year ago.  Some could be spending literally thousands of dollars.  That’s scary.
 
The word on the street from some oil users is they’ve filled their tanks, and they have enough cash to make it into January, but other that, they’re not sure how they’ll afford to heat their homes.  That’s scarier.
 
I know I’m beating the same drum, but that’s because it’s giving the right message.  Energy-efficiency is the best hedge against both rising energy prices and the weather.  I wouldn’t want to bet my economic future on being able to predict either.  And I certainly don’t want to be completely at the mercy of either.  I don’t have to be.  And neither do you.  By making your home more energy efficient, you’re less susceptible to the price of oil coming out of the Middle East or flowing through a pipeline that Russia and Georgia might be fighting over.  You’re less susceptible to cold winters or hot summers (or even power outages—we need to talk about “passive survivability” soon).

Whatever the Almanac, the National Weather Service, or Uncle Elmer are predicting in terms of weather, I predict those who take action to make their homes more energy-efficient will win big in the coming years.  And the earlier they start, the bigger they’ll win.

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.


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