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Air Leakage Reduction: Not Just a Lot of Hot Air
7th February 2014

We all know that leaky houses are harder to heat and cool.  Air leakage lead to uncomfortable homes that are hard to heat and cool, wasting money and energy for the homeowner.  Additionally, homes with higher air leakage are prone to damage from condensing cold spots that attract mold and rot, as well as frozen pipes in the winter.

Before you can set out to fix air leaks in your home, however, you first have to find them.  By far the most common method of determining the location of leaks in your home is the Blower Door test.  Blower door tests have been an essential tool for the energy efficient builder for years now, but recently, changes in the International Residential Code makes blower door testing the new standard, and sets out regulations for air tightness of buildings dependent upon climate zone.

To schedule a blower door test for your home today, please contact This Efficient House, your local, energy-efficient Contracting company!  info@thisefficenthouse.com

 

My beautiful picture                 What is A Blower Door Test?

In 1970′s researchers in Sweden, Saskatchewan, and New Jersey began to study how air leakage affected the overall energy efficiency of a home.  This led to the development of the first blower door by two teams of researchers, one of which included Harold Orr, who is generally credited with their invention.

The standard blower door includes a powerful, variable speed fan which is connected to a two-channel, digital manometer (an air pressure gauge).  This last piece of equipment measures both indoor and outdoor air pressure.  The blower door fan depressurizes the house by pulling inside air out until the manometer registers typically a 50-pascal difference between the external and internal air pressure.  The amount of fan-power and air flow that it takes to generate and hold this difference can then be used to measure how tight or leaky the house is.
The results of the blower door test are often expressed in cfm50, which is the airflow at a pressure difference of 50 Pascals.  These data can be extrapolated to calculate air changes per hour, or the number of times all of the air in a structure will be completely replaced by outside air every hour.  In Colorado, a Zone 5 state, the 2012 IRC requires that a building meet a standard of fewer than 3 air changes every hour.  This Efficient House has a team of experts on staff to help YOU discover whether or not your home meets these requirements.

Chasing Air Leaks                                               audit1

 

Air infiltration is one of the main factors that can compromise a building’s energy economy, durability and comfort.  A blower door test can provide an added benefit: there is no better way to locate and seal up air leaks!  During the depressurization, the air leaks in walls, rim joists and attics are exaggerated.  scanning the seams of a building with an thermal imaging camera can allow an insulation technician or a homeowner to easily see and identify areas of air infiltration by locating unusual hot or cold areas within the building. This Efficient House specializes in blower door test informed air sealing, and we would be happy to speak with you about the best approach to air sealing your home.

A home energy audit is a great place to start if you are considering an energy efficient remodel.  This Efficient House offers Home Energy audits to help get you on track to start saving money and energy today!  Rebates are even available to those who qualify.  For more information about the energy audit process, Fort Collins Utilities or Xcel Energy rebate programs, contact This Efficient House, and We’ll be happy to help you out!

 

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Call (970) 204-9931 or email info@thisefficienthouse.com to schedule your audit or estimate today!  This Efficient House is a local, dependable energy company, and we thank you for your support!

 

References

Armanda, Larry.  “Blower Door Testing.”  The Best of Fine Homebuilding. Winter 2014: 110-116. print.

http://energy.gov/energysaver/articles/blower-door-tests

Bailes, Allison B. III.  “What’s a Blower Door Good For?  Hint: its not air changes per hour!”  Building Science. December 12, 2012. http://www.greenbuildingadvisor.com/blogs/dept/building-science/what-s-blower-door-good

 

 

 

By: admin
The Importance of Being Efficient
31st January 2014

 

If you are looking to save money and reduce your family’s energy consumption this winter, a heating or cooling system upgrade can be a great place to start.  In 2009 alone, the average home spent more than $1000.00 on heating and cooling according to Energy Star, which is a division of the Environmental Protection Agency and the Energy Department.  Power Plants are continually burning fossil fuels to generate energy, and high energy consumption contributes to the addition of greenhouse gasses to the atmosphere, as well as costing YOU money!  Thankfully, HVAC systems are Consistently being improved upon, and an upgrade can really help your household become more environmentally friendly AND financially responsible!

Step 1: Selecting A System

Shopping for an energy efficient HVAC system can be a daunting task!  Fortunately, the kindly folk at the Department of Energy are here to help.  They have put together an EXTENSIVE list of information to help you select the right Heating and Cooling system for your home.  Of course, it is possible to install any type of system in any type of home, but the Department of Energy wants to stress to you the importance of considering both cost, and aesthetics.  Furthermore, there are a number of modifications that could be made to your home in order to maximize its efficiency.  A couple of examples might be improved ventilation or ductwork, and passive solar heating.  Consider also things such as your local climate and the power sources that are most easily accessible to you.  The Department of Energy suggests that you reach out to a reputable contracting company to help you design your system.

If you are considering a new HVAC system, This Efficient House is here to help!  Our staff of local, professional experts can evaluate any home to help you design the most energy efficient HVAC system that is right for YOU.  Please contact us at info@thisefficienthouse.com for more information!

Step 2: Heating Systems

Resistance baseboard heaters, central heating, and water-based heaters are among the most efficient types of heating systems. They all can be powered by electricity that is generated by solar panels or alternative types of energy, but because Resistance baseboard heating is cost prohibitive, Central heating with a furnace or boiler is by far the most cost-effective and most common method of heating your home.  This Efficient House specializes in high-efficiency furnace replacement.  The city of Fort Collins, or your local energy provider may even offer rebates which incentivize an energy-efficient revamp of your heating system.  Contact info@thisefficienthouse for more details regarding the Fort Collins or Xcel Energy rebate programs.

Active and passive solar heating systems require no energy to run but are often employed as supplementary systems due to the fact that they only work while the sun shines.

Step 3: Cooling Systems 

Surprisingly, Air Conditioning is almost never the most energy efficient way to cool your home.  The Energy Department recommends a combination of proper insulation and shading as well as well-designed ventilation and weatherization improvements.  A whole house fan, when properly used, combined with the right insulation and shading techniques are a powerful combination to keep your home cool and comfortable during the long summer months, and can cool homes in all but the hottest of climates with very little energy use.  If you live in a hot, dry climate, consider an evaporative or ”swamp” cooler, which can provide significant cooling with a much lower draw than an air conditioner.  If you do decide that an air conditioner is the best option for your family, be sure to choose a modern, energy-efficient model that is the right size and speed to maximize the cooling-efficiency of your home.  For more information about how to cool your home while maintaining your budget, contact the professionals at This Efficient House to schedule your free consultation.

Step 4: Sizing Your System

By far the most common mistake that people make when installing an HVAC system is choosing a system that is TOO large and TOO powerful.  Running a furnace or air conditioner that is too large for the space can waste TONS of energy and costs YOU lots of extra cash!  The more loosely constructed buildings of the past could cause significant heat transfer, which meant that heating and cooling systems had to work much harder.  However, if your home is properly insulated and weatherized, a large HVAC system is unnecessary, and can actually be the CAUSE of discomforts such as temperature swings, higher energy bills and maintenance costs.  A reputable contractor can help you find the perfect system for your home: one that can keep you comfortable without costing you too much money.  When working with any HVAC contractor, be sure to stress that you do NOT want an oversized system.

 

Hopefully, these tips and tricks provide you with a few points to think about if you are considering an upgrade to a more energy-efficient HVAC system.  For more information, or to schedule an appointment, please contact This Efficient House, your local, dependable home energy efficiency experts!

Until next time, have a great weekend, and take care out there in the snow!

By: admin
These Money-Saving Hacks will Keep you Warm And Comfortable!
23rd January 2014

Oh my!  Its getting cold out there!  Thankfully, This Efficient House is here with some tips about how to keep YOUR family warm and comfortable during this winter cold snap.  Of course, the most economical long term solution is to keep your home running as EFFICIENTLY as possible by making sure you have installed the most cutting-edge, high-efficiency HVAC equipment that is the proper size for your home.  Adding enough insulation and air-sealing to your crawlspace or attic doesn’t hurt either!

For those of us who aren’t rocking the latest energy efficient style, here are some tips on how to keep our homes warm and comfortable during these LONG months before spring.

First of all, you’ll want to make sure your windows and doors are sealed and as leak-proof as possible.  Be sure to check around the door frame for any leaks, and seal them up with weather-stripping or a door sweep.  Storm windows should be installed and closed in place if you have them, and regular windows should be sealed.  Consider adding window caulk or plastic to shore up leaky windows or window frames.  In a pinch, a towel or shirt can be placed around noticeable leaks to act as an excellent barrier against the cold.

Secondly, a clear, plastic shower curtain can be hung over the windows that receive sunlight.  This will serve as a barrier to keep the cold air out, while allowing the ambient heat to enter and help warm the house.  Alternatively, cover your windows in plastic sheets to create the same effect.  A heavy set of curtains will also help to block cold drafts of air.  Be sure to keep open when its sunny, and closed when its not.

Check for obstructions around the outside of your house (e.g. plants, buildings, automobiles) that might be blocking your house from the sun.  Removing as many of these obstructions as possible can help keep your house warm through the power of passive solar heat!

Sealing off unused rooms can help create a barrier between your family and the cold air outside.  Additionally, this practice will decrease the area that needs to be heated, while reducing air circulation, which can save on energy costs.  Your local hardware store sells a magnetic register that can seal off rooms from the main part of your house.  Also, make sure that cold air returns are unblocked and free of furniture or rugs so that cold air can circulate more efficiently.

Putting down a rug or a carpet can help prevent heat loss through the floor and can also provide you with a  warmer, more comfortable surfaced on which to walk.

BAKE!  Warming up the oven in your kitchen can help to heat and dehydrate the air.  Adding necessary warmth to your home AND providing you with a home-made delicacy to boot!  Avoid cooking meals that give off steam, however, as this will add humidity to the air.  Humid air FEELS much colder than dry air.

Lighting a candle or two can produce an unexpected amount of heat.  A candle heater will not generate as much heat as a heater or a fireplace, but can be a cheap and effective way to create enough heat to make you all a little more comfortable!

Incandescent light bulbs can release up to 95% of the energy they use as heat, rather than light, So while firing up some incandescent light bulbs (instead of LED or Compact fluorescent) may not be the most efficient way to LIGHT your home, it might help you save a little money on your HEATING bill this winter.

Hopefully, these tips and tricks are just the thing that you need to stay warm and healthy this winter, but if you happen to be in the  market for a more long-term solution, This Efficient House, your local, energy efficient contracting company will be happy to provide you with a home energy efficiency audit or an estimate.  We’re here if you need us!  Give us a call, and stay warm out there!

 

 

 

 

By: admin
Happy New Year!
16th January 2014

Its a brand new year, and we at This Efficient House are more excited than ever to help YOU save money and energy while making your home more COMFORTABLE! 

     Fort Collins is really going efficient this season, and calendar dates are filling up, but we want to fit YOU in, so be sure to schedule your energy audit or estimate early! 

     This year is bound to be one of our biggest in memory.  With great deals on Attic Insulation and Air sealing, Energy Star Rated HVAC equipment, and even new, high efficiency Windows and doors, This Efficient House is your locally owned source for all your home energy efficiency needs.  Most homes can achieve a 25% or better increase in efficiency for less than 1% of the home’s value, Helping you save cash and keep your family COMFORTABLE this winter!

     On Bill Financing is Fort Collins’ low-cost program for residential energy efficiency, solar PV, and water conservation improvements.  Homeowners can CONVENIENTLY repay the loan on their monthly utility bill!  Details at fcgov.com/financing.

     This Efficient House – your local, lovable building performance company- wants to make the rebate process easy and keep your family warm this holiday season.  Give us a Call!

By: admin