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April 27, 2009

Just wanted to give you a quick over view of energy audits 

How they can help you.

What they are.

And more importantly what they are not.

Energy audits can help you by giving you better understanding of where you home is wasting energy. An audit can take the guess work out of trying to plug those energy leaks. 

With the use of diagnostic pressure testing equipment we are able to locate leaks both large and small. We can then take accurate measurements of the various levels of insulation and the efficiency level of the heating and cooling equipment in your home. Once all this information is gathered it is then but into a computer program showing the most cost effective approach to performing a variety of energy upgrades. With all the guess work taken out you can then make upgrades to the areas of your home that with be most cost effective in lowering your utility bills.

With an energy audit you can determine the proper size of the heating and cooling equipment need. A properly sized furnace saves money. The furnace is only as efficient as the house its self is.

Think of 2 buckets one with several holes in and the other with out any holes. Now try and fill the buckets with water the bucket with out holes will eventually becomes filled the other may never become filled or take a lot longer the fill. In this example the water represented the heat your furnace is producing and the home is letting go to waste. Leakage can account for up to 30% of a homes energy loss.

It is not some specialty contractor coming to your home and selling you new windows, more insulation, siding or a new furnace just because they are old. It doesnít mean you are going to lower your utility bills unless those products were the actual cause of your high utility bills. Without testing youíre just guessing. Donít be fooled by specialty companies. And remember just because a window or some other product is Energy Star rated it may still not qualify for the new tax credits.

It is possible to lower your yearly utility bills by as much as 30%. By doing an energy audit on my own home we saved about $700 on heating bill. We had additional savings on the electric bill as well.

With those high winter bills behind you now is a great time to get started. Give us a call to get on the right path to lowering your utility bills.

 

April 2009

Solar sounds cool 

With rate caps coming off your utility bills are going to start going up. It is just a matter of time before fuel cost start to rise again. While solar is without a doubt a way to combat the rising costs of energy. It would be irresponsible not to point out that step one should always be to address the energy efficiency of the home with an energy audit. Step 2 would be to replace old appliances with new Energy Star rated appliances. With that having been said this can be done at the same time or in stages. Step 3 would be to decide where the solar panels would be placed. Will they go on the roof or in a corner of the yard? They need to get full sunlight from 9-3 everyday. Shade is the biggest enemy for your solar array. A solar site assessment will help to determine if the shading is going to be a problem. The next major thing to consider is the age of the roof. If the roof is going to need replacement anytime soon it will need to be done before installing the panels. There are several ways to figure the size of the array; budget, size of the area for the panels and what percentage of the electric bill to off set. The array can be added to in the future but it must be planned for in the beginning. With state and federal tax credits (30% fed) and solar renewable energy credits (SRECís) the pay back period can be as little as 11 years.

 

December 2008

Your Home Is a System

What should all the talk these days about lowering your carbon foot print, renewable energy and products, energy savings and green building and remodeling mean to you as a homeowner?  It means energy efficiency and cost savings. If you lower the carbon footprint of your home or make your home more energy efficient, you are using less fossil fuel to heat and cool your home.  Whether your home is electric or gas, fossil fuels are being used to generate the power for your home. To make your home energy efficient, you need to think of it as a system.  Simply adding insulated windows with low E and argon gas, adding a 90% efficiency rated furnace, or adding another layer of insulation in your attic, may not be keeping your home warmer or more comfortable year round. When you think of your home as a system, you also think about the health of that system.  Mold, dust and pollen can enter the home thru leaks in the building's envelope.  The only way of detecting how these allergens are entering is with building science and, using computerized diagnostic testing equipment

 

November 2008

Building Science and mold

Years ago the cost of energy was cheap. So our homes leaked air and it was considered a good thing, buildings had to breathe. Air exchanges are a good thing. Along with the movement of air in and out of a building comes vapor or moisture. Once moisture is trapped in the building you get mold and rot. This seems to be happening more these days. What has happen over the year is we have tightened up the top of the home to keep the rising heat in and have ignored the moister in the heated air.Mold in your attic may not be from a leaking roof. Mold in the bathroom may not be coming from a hidden leak either. It may be coming from your basement or crawl space. Often you find what we in the building science field call bypasses. These are openings in the wall that lead directly to the attic and walls behind the tub and shower areas. Even if these areas have fiberglass insulation stuffed in them they are still leaking cold damp air. Insulation was design to keep your home warm while allowing moisture to base thru in a normal fashion and leave thru natural venting. When moisture canít escape because of poor ventilation or becomes trapped behind walls you are at the risk of having an unhealthy home.

 

October 2008

Should you remodel? 

Is your home as energy efficient as it should be? Energy efficient remodeling can cut fuel costs and increase the resale potential of your home.Is your home as functional as it could be? Remodeling or adding a wall or changing the location of a door can transform an awkward floor plan into an efficient living environment.Is your home as modern as it could be? A comprehensive kitchen or bathroom remodel makes a home as modern and convenient as any new home on the market.Is your home as enjoyable as it could be? More and more, consumers are getting away from the idea of remodeling as a problem solver only. Sometimes remodeling is for greater enjoyment of the home. Adding a family room or outdoor living center can drastically alter the way you feel about your home. Does your home fit the way you live now? Family size change: so do family activities. Sometimes remodeling can refocus your home for a more comfortable fit with your lifestyle today. By combining building science with the last in computerized diagnostic equipment your home can be made more energy efficient and more enjoyable.

September 2008

What is a home energy Audit?

What it is not is a guy trying to sell you window, doors, siding or even more attic insulation. None of these components of your home will solve you ice dam, mold, drafts. They might not even solve the high utility bills. They might lower it a couple of dollars but that is about it. Just because windows represent 60% of the homes wall doesnít mean you will save any where near that in heating and cooling costs. Sure most contactors will tell you they did an energy assessment of your home but what they really did is walk around your home and sell you the product their company is offering. So what is an energy audit and what can an energy auditor do then that is some much better and different? An Auditor will through the use a variety of techniques and diagnostic equipment to determine the energy efficiency of your home. They will use equipment such as blower doors and duct blowers and infrared cameras. With this equipment they can find the hard to detect areas where air is leaking in and out and missing insulation. With this information and computer software they can inform you of the best solutions that will give you the best results. It may not be what you think. Air leakage can often be the largest cause of a buildings heating and cooling problems. So if a company tryís to give you an audit without a blower door beware. Even just an infrared camera alone canít diagnose the homes energy problems. The average cost for energy audits is $300-$500 and takes about 2-3 hours in the home and several more back at the office plugging the information in to a computer. With this information you can then make an informed decision on the energy upgrades to your home.

August 2008

Building Science and Ice Dams

It might sound crazy talking about ice dams in the summer but now is the time to fix them. What really needs to be fixed are the root causes. While clogged gutters donít help the problem of ice dams. The real problem starts much lower in the home, as lower as the foundation. There really only two causes. These are the lack of insulation and warm air. Air is passing thru the walls from the foundation and the heated rooms to the attic. Provided your attic is properly vent add more ventilation wonít help. Adding insulation isnít the final answer. Even with additional insulation you will still have air leakage. Air leakage is coming from where pipes and wires enter into the attic and from around electrical boxes in the ceiling. These and other areas need to be found and sealed before any additional insulation is added. At this time of year this is best left to the professionals. Heat build up can over come you in a matter of a few minutes. There are other parts of the buildings insulation that need to be address while these train building science professionals are in the attic. Thru the use of blower door testing equipment both before and after they will know if they have found the leaks.

 

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