I recently came across this online version of the ecohome magazine. I subscribe to the printed version and have always found to entertaining and informative. It has numerous interesting articles this month on water conservation that you might enjoy reading.
They also have articles on some of the newest water saving devices for your home.
I just received an invitation to take part in providing homeowners with services through the new Energize Phoenix Program. The program is being administered by the same organization that we work with on the APS Energy Auditing Program.
The program will be making special energy improvments and upgrades available to homeowners in the light rail corador.
The meeting I will be attending will be on October 14th. I will post more information as it becomes available.
The video below has more information on the program.
The following is an excerpt of the information that I was sent on the new program.
The city of Phoenix, in partnership with Arizona State University and Arizona Public Service, has been awarded a $25 million federal grant from the U.S. Department of Energy and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) to launch "Energize Phoenix," a project that will reduce electricity consumption, generate thousands of green jobs and transform neighborhoods. Through an innovative strategy supported by a mix of public and private funding, Energize Phoenix is designed to create 1,900 to 2,700 new jobs, most of them "green" jobs. These will include residential and commercial construction jobs to install insulation and energy-efficient windows and equipment, including air conditioning and water heaters, to help customers reduce and improve their energy usage.
These resources will be used to achieve specific goals, including shrinking home energy consumption by 30 percent; reducing commercial energy use by 18 percent; eliminating carbon emissions by 50,000 metric tons per year; retrofitting 3,500 homes and 30 million square feet of office and industrial space for greater energy efficiency; and advancing energy efficiency as the option of choice for the local community.
In these hot summer months, most of us have gotten used to running the air conditioner more frequently and paying higher energy bills. This is especially true if you live in a home that is at least a few years old. Air duct defects, windows, ceiling and wall penetrations are the main causes of air leaks in the home resulting in higher energy use. Until these air leaks are reduced, wasted money is spent day after day especially in the summer and cold winter months.
You are probably already aware of the usual air leaks in your home such as the under-the-door draft, however there are many other areas where cold air is escaping in the summer and warm air in the winter. Cracks and holes around bricks, stucco, windows, recessed lighting and air ducts are also common areas that are increasing your energy bills month after month.
To detect insulation deficiencies and air leaks in the home a specialized assessment can be done that involves a blower door test and thermal imaging equipment.
Thermal imaging technology allows an energy auditor to see the differences in temperature in specific areas of your home, exposing the air leakage spots that are costing you money every month.
To test for an air leak yourself, light an incense stick on a windy day and holding it close to these areas in your home. If the smoke travels horizontally you have located a leak. Another good indicator of air leaks are dirty spots in insulation and on your ceiling and carpet. This is a sure sign that bad air is getting through.
There are quick and easy methods to reduce the air leaks in your home that you can implement right away. If you have a fireplace, be sure the flue damper is tightly closed when not in use. This could be a major area where cold air is escaping. You can also replace door bottom seals and weather stripping if they are worn, missing, or cracked. Because outlets and switch plates can be a source of air leaks, purchase and install foam gaskets behind them to create better seals in your walls.
Because hot air will always rise,it will be even more important to check for areas of air leakage surrounding your air registers and recessed lights. It has been common practice for years to cut a hole through the wall or ceiling, insert the register or light and cover the original unsealed hole with the decretive trim cover. By removing the grill or trim you can reveal these major leaks and seal them with painters calk.
Another major source of air leakage that will directly impact your comfort and energy bill is leaks in your AC ductwork. Because the conditioned air is under pressure any leak in the ducts will cost you dearly. Duct leaks in the attic will cause hot air to be sucked into your home through other leaking areas or they will cause dirty attic air to be sucked into your home pushing cooler air out of other lower leaks. Either way you could be losing as much as 20% of your cooling budget because of these leaks.
Sealing air leaks is one of the best and least expensive ways to lower your energy bills. Homework Remodels specializes in energy auditing with thermal imaging to expose these air leaks and properly seal them, as well as numerous other energy saving services.
When I installed a tankless water heater in my home I was concerned about protecting my investment.
I knew the water in Phoenix Arizona is some of the hardest, mineral filled water in the nation. Like everyone else I had seen the results of mineral buildup on my kitchen and bathroom fixtures, as well as in my previous tank type water heater.
As I researched solutions to the problem, I learned that there are environmental downsides to normal water softening units. In fact they have been outlawed in some communities because of salt contamination to water resources.
Ultimately I decided on installing an alternative water treatment system to my home. The unit was much simpler to install that a normal water softener unit. It's only requirements are access to the water supply pipe and an electrical outlet. After I had installed it I was very curious about how well it would work.
In the years since, I have seen for myself that my water fixtures have truly stayed free of build up. My tankless water heater continues to operate at peak performance and our glass in the showers remains clean.
The real wake up call for me was when I installed a new specialty shower head in my home and the home of a client a t the same time. Six months later when I visited my clients home I was startled by the white mineral build up on his shower head. I realized that soon his shower head would be having problems due to the mineral build up and that mine still looked like new.
It has been over a year since then and my shower head is still without build up and is working great.
I have recommended this type of unit to numerous clients and the ones that have used them are pleased. Depending on your skill level this unit can be installed as a do it yourself project. I have installed units from both ScaleBlaster and EasyWater and found that they both worked well.
In our work with older homes, we are always surprised to see how many homes have not had additional insulation added to supplement what little may have initially been installed. This is especially evident in our valley's historic homes in that many of them were never insulated in the first place.
Homeowners have a wide selection of choices for upgrading their home's insulation. The types we recommend most often are blown cellulose and spray foam insulation. They are excellent alternatives to the much used fiberglass, and are much friendlier to the environment.
Foam insulation is the best at both insulating and air sealing. It's downside is it's initial cost to install is many times higher than blown cellulose.
Cellulose is an excellent choice because it is made from 80% post-consumer recycled newsprint.
The newsprint fiber is chemically treated with non-toxic borate compounds to resist fire, insects, and mold. The Cellulose Insulation Manufacturers Association claims that insulating a 1500 sq. ft. house with cellulose will recycle as much newspaper as an individual will consume in 40 years. Cellulose also requires less energy to manufacture than fiberglass. The Environmental Building News reports that fiberglass requires approximately eight times more energy to make when adjusted to reflect energy cost per installed R-value.
Blown cellulose can be installed in new or existing structures in attics and walls. Construction-savvy homeowners might be able to install it themselves in open attic spaces. You can use blowing machines from rental centers or building material centers to blow numerous bales of product into the attic. The process requires two people to use the equipment. A great deal of care must be taken to apply the insulation properly and protect yourself and your ceiling from damage in the process.
Our recommendation is to have the process done by professionals. This is especially true regarding insulating walls either during remodeling or retrofitting existing walls.
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