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Archive for the ‘Attic Ventilation’ Category

Cold Interior Walls, Useless Insulation, and Building Science

It seems so simple. There’s outside, and there’s inside. The walls, ceilings, and floors that separate the cold outside from the warm inside should be the only surfaces that rob heat from your home. Interior walls have conditioned space on both sides, so they shouldn’t be a problem, right?

Wrong! I’ve seen and worked on several houses that lose heat through their interior walls. They’re usually older houses that have been modified from the original, but I’ve seen these problems in new houses, too.

In such houses, the problem results from the top of the walls being open to the attic. You can go into the attic and look down into the interior walls and see the drywall. That means that cold attic air gets down into those cavities.

With cold air inside the wall and warm air on each side in the house, heat moves through the drywall, which has a low R-value, and warms up the air in the cavity. The warm air then rises into the attic (a process called the stack effect). As that warmed air leaves the interior wall, cold attic air moves into the cavity to take its place, resulting in more heat loss. This process continues as long as the attic stays cold and the house is warm.

To fix the problem, you have to stop air from moving into or out of the interior wall cavities. One way to do this is to cover the opening with a rigid material and use caulk or spray foam to seal the edges.

Another way is to stuff a piece of fiberglass insulation into the gap at the top of the wall and spray foam over it. It’s important to note that the fiberglass by itself is not sufficient because fiberglass does not stop air movement. (That’s why it’s used in filters, duh!)

Another problem I see in attics is attic with two ceilings and insulation in the wrong place. A lot of old houses with high ceilings have had lower ceilings put in below the original ceiling. In that case, insulation on top of the original ceiling fails to keep the house warm. Again, it’s a matter of understanding where the attic air is going. These houses have two ceilings: the original ceiling and the current ceiling, which is lower.

The blown fiberglass insulation is almost always on top of the original ceiling because that’s the ceiling you see from the attic. In the course of modifying the houses, however, the workers opened many pathways for air to move from the attic to the space between the original ceiling and the current ceiling.

The result is that the air under the insulation (between the two ceilings) is at the same temperature as the attic air. That cold air is separated from the house only by a layer of drywall. As that air warms up from heat moving through the drywall, it moves through the openings into the attic and is replaced by more cold air. The insulation is useless because it’s in the wrong place!

If you want to understand politics, you often have to follow the money. If you want to understand heat loss in your home, you often have to follow the air.

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Dubious ‘energy audit’ phone solicitations anger local residents offering “free” energy audits…

The calls are not from electric companies, even though that’s what solicitors say If you use electricity in your home — and who doesn’t? — there’s a telephone solicitor who has your number.

Where did they get it? Who knows? But the fact of the matter is, they are NOT calls from your local utility company and they are NOT whom they claim to be.

Who gives away a free energy audit unsolicited? Only contractors who have your pocketbook in mind. Did you know there are contractors who will sell what they CALL energy audits for as little as $99? Some will even do them for free. Just about everyone offering LOW COST energy audits does it as a loss leader or a lead source generator because they’re looking to sell you THEIR specific solution (i.e. insulation, windows, A/C equipment, etc…).

It’s like a free exam at a chiropractor. They give something away to get the opportunity to sell their core product. Pro Energy Consultants believes it is extremely important to be completely objective and extremely thorough. People spend more money upfront so they can have the peace of mind that they aren’t being sold some kind of repair. We actually have had many homeowners who have had a “free” audit and then ended up calling us.

The bottom line is, you get what you pay for. Even if it’s free…

Efficiency Advisor for 2010!

Heating Your Home Efficiently

Regardless of what the weather brings this winter, heating your home efficiently is probably something on your mind. Keeping your home a comfortable temperature when the weather turns bad doesn’t have to be a financial drain. Here are some places to start:

Stopping Air Leaks

The first step to making your home more heat efficient is to identify air leaks. Common air leak sources such as recessed lights, attic entrances, doorframes, window frames, ducts (which we’ll cover next) and electrical outlets can be a big drain of heat and money. You can check for air leaks yourself by walking through your home with a lit incense stick (horizontal smoke indicates a leak), or you can hire a technician for a more thorough inspection. Simple fixes like sealing around outlets and switches, caulking gaps in the framing, and plugging gaps surrounding pipes will typically result in noticeable savings.

Duct Problems

One of the most important systems in your home may be quietly wasting your energy dollars. Often overlooked, typical duct systems lose 25-40% of the heating or cooling energy put out by the central furnace, heat pump, or air conditioner. Common duct system problems include:

  • Leaky joints or visible holes in the duct surface
  • Disconnected ducts that have fallen away from each other
  • Inadequate or poorly finished duct work
  • Un-insulated or poorly insulated ducts in attics and crawlspaces

Most duct repairs should be made by or with the help of a trained professional, especially those that will take place in unconditioned spaces. A qualified pro can also help you more accurately assess the duct problems that you have. If you decide to make minor duct repairs on your own, keep in mind that duct tape is usually only intended as a temporary fix. Silicone caulking or cement with mastic are better sealing options. Improving your duct system efficiency can cut your annual utility bills by as much as $300, and will improve the overall air quality in your home.

Keep your Home Insulated

Properly insulating your home is one of the most cost-effective ways to cut down on your energy loss. Improving the insulation in your home can cut your heating and cooling costs by as much as 30%, and will create a more uniform, comfortable temperature in your home. Better insulation will also help decrease outdoor noise. Check the insulation in your attic, ceilings, exterior and basement walls, floors, and crawl spaces to see if they meet recommended standards for your area. Insulation is measured in R-values: the higher the R-value, the less transfer of heat through the material. Typically the easiest and most cost-effective way to improve your home’s insulation is to add insulation to your attic.

Fireplace Issues

Despite their undeniable aesthetic appeal, fireplaces are not desirable in terms of energy efficiency. Only about ten percent of the wood’s energy is transferred to the room as heat, the rest escapes up the chimney. When in use, the fireplace also pulls cold air into your home through cracks and leaks, and when not in use the brick and stone mass of most fireplaces readily conducts heat from your home to the outside. To minimize energy waste from the fireplace in your home, make sure the damper or flue is shut tightly when the fireplace is not in use. Consider the benefits of things like tempered glass doors, fireplace inserts that seal dormant openings, and heat exchangers that recover some of the energy that would otherwise be lost.

Thermostat Solutions

That little box on the wall can be a tool for big energy savings. You can save up to 3 percent for every one degree that you lower the temperature in your home over a 24-hour period in winter. You can also save up to 10% annually in your heating and cooling bills by adjusting your thermostat down 10% to 15% for an 8-hour period each day. Turning the heat down while you sleep or while you’re away at work is a simple and logical energy efficiency solution. If the prospect of waking up to a chilly house doesn’t excite you, buy a programmable thermostat. They are inexpensive and adjust the temperature in your home based on the schedules you determine.

Ceiling Fans

While most people think if ceiling fans as a cooling solution, they can also help maintain a warm temperature in your home during winter. Running a ceiling fan in reverse circulates rising warm air back down to living areas. Consider ceiling fans for your home, particularly if you have rooms with high ceilings that seem to stay colder. Ceiling fans vary in price depending on things like material and size, but many are inexpensive and easy to operate.

Call Go Green Home Efficiency TODAY to schedule your energy audit and see where you can start saving in your home!!!  877-372-1199 or http://www.atticefficiency.com

Another satisfied and educated customer…

This is what I love to hear!

So we just did a lot of stuff on our house with regards to energy savings.  I told the folks we used that I would pass their names on as they did an excellent job for a fair price (and we shopped).  We had 3 energy audits done so I was pretty sure about what was needed at the end of all of the interviews, ladder climbing, etc.

We chose Go Green (www.atticefficiency.com).  A guy named Timm came out and we went through each area, the problem ones we knew about and the suspected problem ones.  We ended up changing all of our lights (canned housing) and light bulbs, weatherizing inside, installing heatblock spray radiant barrier plus insulation on all vertical/internal attic walls, and R49 blown in insulation for the rest of the attic, increased attic soffett sizes, weather stripped all external doors and light switches/wall outlets leading to the outside, put in attic tents, sealed vents, sealed leaky ducts (most was done by our A/C contractor but there are always some spots you can’t see or get to without doing further testing).

Our attic fans were ok so we left those alone.  They verified everything with a blower door test before, during and after to insure the fixes were ample.  The house is much more comfortable now and our changes apply for both Federal and City of Denton DME rebate/tax credit programs.  Now we just have to renegotiate our KWH rate with our current energy provider to max out our savings.  Our initial blower door tests showed we lost enough air to leave 2 or 3 windows open ½ way all summer (something to that effect anyway!)

Anyway, I said I would share the name of the company and so here you go!  We would definitely recommend them.  They were very thorough (I was too, it helped to be an educated consumer).  They had a pre-established price sheet so nothing was hidden or rolled into a fee like the other guys.  And since they don’t sell A/C systems, they didn’t try to gear us toward A/C work (we had that covered) like some of the other auditors did.

Tell them you want to talk to Timm if you can.  1-877-372-1199.   We are hoping that it will be a nice payoff the rest of the summer and through the winter.   They cover pretty much all things energy (except windows I think).  Their website is very informative.

So there you have it!  if you are interested in adding efficiency stuff, please tell them we sent you as we promised.  Our house is definitely more comfortable.  We just got our KWH rate lowered as well so we will have to figure out our overall savings but we feel it was much needed.

We also have a really great A/C company we have worked with for several years.  They just installed a 14 SEER unit with variable speed furnace.  We call them for everything.  (Air Force Heating and Air. (www.airforcem.com) The owner is Ron Strelke and we have put a lot of trust in him and his team).   We have recommended Ron’s team to friends over the years.  He works all over town.  A really great bunch of guys (and gals).

Thanks for listening!

Jim and Dorothy Meyer
Denton, Tx

Home Energy Audits – Why you need one…

Home Energy Audits

The United States is currently the largest single consumer of energy. That’s Right! The result is that the average homeowner now spends about $1,900 per year on energy. Continuous heating and air conditioning consumption account for half of home energy costs. With this consumption comes a tremendous amount of wasted energy. Our wasteful use of energy contributes to air pollution problems such as low-level ozone, smog, and global warming. The average family’s carbon footprint is over 11,200 pounds of pollutants, which go directly into the atmosphere each year.

The most direct and inexpensive route for home owners to reduce wasted energy in their homes is to have an Energy Audit. The primary purpose of a home energy audit is to evaluate the homes energy consumption and make recommendations to eliminate wasted energy and lower monthly energy costs. The following diagram show areas in the home that an energy audit evaluates:

Increasingly in the last year, energy audits have exploded as the demand to lower increasingly expensive energy costs and move towards a sustainable future have made energy audits greatly important. In addition, there is now a very large number of tax credits from cities and the federal government which are enabling homeowners to affordably update their homes and reduce their monthly energy costs.

In an effort to help home owners reduce areas in their homes that are wasting energy, Go Green Home Efficiency created a “General Home Energy Audit” which focuses on lighting changes, thermostat modification, and water usage as these are the easiest areas for homeowners to upgrade and provide the fastest return on their energy efficiency spending. GGHE’s Home Energy audits include a written report that estimates energy savings the homeowner may realize when simple changes to electricity, water, and natural gas are completed. The accuracy of the energy estimates are greatly improved when the homeowner’s billing history is available showing the quantities of energy resources used each month.

Home Owners Need Help To Reduce Wasted Energy

The majority of people are interested in increasing their home, condo, townhouse, or apartment’s energy efficiency, but lack understanding of how energy works and aren’t entirely clear on which home improvement projects yield the largest energy-saving benefits. Here is some of the critical energy efficiency information you will be able to help them discover:

The average home owner’s energy usage is from attempting to heat leaking homes. Their combined unused electronics left plugged in account for $4 Billion a year in wasted energy. Here is a closer look at where the average residence is using energy every month

What Energy Audits Help Homeowners Do To Reduce Wasted Energy

When a home owner gets an energy audit in their residence, they are immediately aware of areas in their home that are wasting energy. They are also educated on how to reduce, modify, or replace trouble areas. Here is a short list of how an energy audit helps homeowners.

» How To Read Energy Bills – You can finally show home owners how to understand what they are being charged for and educate them on how to see their cost savings in action every month as they start living more energy efficiently.

» Indoor & Outdoor Lighting – They understand bulb wattage and finally understand the costs and benefits associated with changing out their old light bulbs for the new “curly” CFL light bulbs.

» Vampire Power – They learn how their home electronics & major appliances are robbing them of energy and how it adds up on their bill every month.

» Water Conservation – They understand the benefits of “Low Flow” shower heads, reducing their water heater temperature and lots more.

» Heating & Cooling System Savings – They understand what changes can easily be made and how to calculate payback to determine when a major upgrade will start saving them money.

So call Go Green Home Efficiency TODAY to schedule a home energy audit and start saving money and saving the planet at the same time!  1-877-372-1199