Posts Tagged ‘Remodelers’
It has long been known that without making your home air tight, there is no way for your insulation to perform at it true r value. For example if your walls are built with 2 X 6 studs and insulated with R-21 insulation batts, without the house being airtight, the insulation performs at a reduced R value, something around a R-17. This is caused by gaps between the studs and the insulation which allow air to leak by. The problem in the past with making a home air tight was that the process would also trap moisture in the walls, which would lead to dry rot. Back in the 80′s and early 90′s air tightness was tried by installing 6 mil. plastic on the studs and drywalling over it. With plywood or OSB on the exterior of the wall, this left no place for the water to escape. I remember walking into houses before the drywall was installed and watching the water run down the sheets of plastic. This method of air sealing was quickly dropped and no real alternative was offered. Some minor air sealing of the bottom wall plate to the floor with caulk and foaming around doors and windows is about as far as we’ve gotten with the codes.
Just this year Washington state has adopted a stricter insulation code. It is basically the old Energy Star standards. One part of the code is the requirement that all new home have a blower door test prior to final inspection. Blower door test measures the amount of air leaks a home has. New homes are required to have a blower door score of 7.5 or lower. What this means is that if the air pressure difference between the outdoors and the inside of your house is 50 pascals (50 pound per square inch) then the air in your house will completely exchange itself seven and one half times in an hour. This is still a drafty house but its a start.
By making homes airtight we obviously can cut down the cost of heating these homes. Done correctly we also can build the walls in a manor that will allow moisture to escape. This is the best way to build. In future articles I will talk more about the methods behind this type of construction
The Eco Builders Guild, South Sound chapter is proud to announce the second annual South Sound Green Tour coming April 16th & 17th. We started the Green Tour last year and it was huge success. Just like last year, we will feature houses and commercial sites that represent the best in green building and sustainable practices. The homes are located through out Thurston County, including Tumwater, Olympia, and Lacey. We will also have workshops at each site demonstrating many of the features of each site. This year we have also added an expo which will be located in the new Lott buildings parking lot. It will house lots of vendors offering a huge array of green products and services.
Another big addition to the tour is that the Seattle chapter has joined in with us and will have a tour of their own on the same weekend. For more information, or if you would like to be a vendor or site sponsor please visit http://www.ecobuilding.org/events/2011-green-home-tour.
How you maintain your garden is also as important as planning when it comes to conserving water. If you’re looking at limiting the amount of water you put into your garden, you will also need to limit the amount of water that flows out of your garden. You can do this is many ways:
• Pick plants, shrubs and grass that are known to develop good root systems and employ gardening techniques that improve roots. One way to do this is to mow the lawn tall, but do it frequently. The other way to do it is to pick plants that go well with your climate and soil and water them well for the first few weeks before you reduce the frequency. Keep looking out for leaves that go yellow and new shoots that look weak and pale.
• Mulching is an excellent way to ensure that your soil remain well hydrated and does not loose moisture, especially if you live in dry weather. Mulch can be conveniently prepared in your backyard using organic waste from your kitchen. A healthy dose of nitrogen fertiliser is also recommended, provided you know what you’re doing.
• Irrigation techniques are the most crucial aspect of conserving water in the backyard. In regions frequent watering is required most homeowners opt for irrigation to keep it convenient. Drip irrigation saves much more water than sprinklers which water a lot of things other than the grass. Gray water systems are another great option. Gray water is ‘wash water’ i.e. water used in the bathrooms, kitchen sinks and laundry, which is treated and then used in gardens. Gray water does not include water from toilets (which is called black water) and is perfectly safe, with few chemicals and pathogens once it’s treated and is used by a large number of families for irrigation. A gray water system is simple enough to be installed in your backyard. However, make sure you are familiar with your locality’s policies on gray water systems.
Installing water efficient fixtures can definitely bring in savings over the long term, for your pocket as well as the planet. Water efficient toilets save close to 4000 gallons of water per year and water efficient faucets and showerheads too, save large amounts of water as compared to conventional fixtures. However, that is not all. Most water boards and utility providers also offer you rebates on water efficient products.
The amount of rebate depends on the type of product you buy, your water board or utility provider and where you live. For instance products and accessories marked with the EPA’s Watersense label are eligible for rebate in almost all states. A list of utility specific rebates available can be found on the EPA’s Watersense website, here.
What if you’re not buying a WaterSense labelled product? There are quite a few other reputed manufacturer that offer great products and services at the residential, commercial and community level to help reduce water consumption and energy savings. For instance American Standard has been manufacturing products and services to help tackle water scarcity since the past 100 years. Their rebates page offers an exhaustive list of states where you can make savings + get your money back.
Depending on your geographic location, your county, district or state will have their local authorities and programs that work at water conservation. These partner with local water suppliers, manufacturers and state authorities to offer attractive discounts on water efficient products, systems as well as rebates. Check the websites of your local utility provider to know more about how you can save water, save energy as well as money.
When trying to conserve energy and your wallet, one of the important factors many people overlook is weather. There is a certain ‘optimal’ HVAC system for every kind of weather, and by designing with that in mind helps to makes sure that your budget remains optimal too. Not every house needs air conditioning or furnace heaters. For instance, if you usually have moderate weather throughout the year, like we have in the Pacific Northwest, you could actually replace conventional heaters and A/Cs with heat pumps. And we generally advice our clients to go in for geothermal heat pumps. (GHP)
A heat pump works by moving heat from a warm area to a cool area. It operates on electricity and generally moves heat from the warm air outside to your cold interiors or warm air indoors to cool exteriors. Heat pumps that exchange heat in this manner are called air-source heat pumps. Overall pumps have high efficiency, in fact the highest, since they use very little energy and don’t really create heat, only move it. A geothermal pump works in a similar fashion, only, it exchanges heat with the earth, instead of air. Geothermal heat pumps move the earth’s heat through ducts into a cool house, and vice versa. Because the lower layer of the earth remains more or less at the same temperature, and is warm, GHP work in almost every kind of weather and are favored largely in extreme temperatures.
Geo Thermal Heat pumps are generally more expensive than conventional heating systems. However, the success of an installation depends on the weather, soil quality and certain other factors. Yet, over the long term, the operating costs of heat pump, especially geothermal heat pumps cost very little to operate and provide up to 300% efficiency.