1:5:10:365 EcoTip Blog

June 30, 2008

:182 Filtration Height

Welcome to today’s 1:5:10:365 Tip for becoming a better steward for our home and planet environment.

1:5:10:182 EcoTip: The placement height of portable air filters is important. Try to set portable air filtration units so the filtered air is released at a height well above the floor. Breathing zone height is a good choice. Air that is released near the floor will disturb the dust particles that have settled causing the airborne particle concentration to rise.

It is much more effective to collect settled dust from the floor with a HEPA vacuum cleaner than to blow it up into the air in hopes of the filter collecting it.

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 Additional Information:

Suggested Review: :016

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June 29, 2008

:181 Activated Carbon

Filed under: :181 Activated Carbon — Tags: , , , , , — John Banta @ 8:32 am

Welcome to today’s 1:5:10:365 Tip for becoming a better steward for our home and planet environment.

1:5:10:181 EcoTip: Activated carbon helps remove gases. HEPA removes particles.

Carbon purification and HEPA filtration work as an excellent team to help provide a final polish to indoor air. But starting with a home with good indoor air is important. All the purification and filtration in the world won’t solve a bad indoor air quality situation caused by building related problems.

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 Additional Information:

Suggested Review: :180

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June 28, 2008

:180 Portable Air Filtration

Welcome to today’s 1:5:10:365 Tip for becoming a better steward for our home and planet environment.

1:5:10:180 EcoTip: Portable HEPA Filtration can help reduce airborne particulates. If your home is a “Well Tuned Home” as I discussed in yesterdays post, additional spot filtration can improve indoor air quality even more.

Over the next several days I will provide tips for choosing a portable purifier.

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 Additional Information:

Suggested Review: :110, :179

Yesterday I brought a portable particle counter home from work to check the airborne particle levels. This is a device that can be set to measure the quantity of different sized particles. The smoke from the California Wildfires that are burning wasn’t quite as bad as the night before, but the outdoor smoke odor was still quite pronounced. Here’s what I found when I averaged the 1 micron sized particle counts in several places:

Outdoor air – 2500 particles/cubic liter

Indoor air (most rooms) – 250 particles/cubic liter

Indoor air (supply registers) – 100 particles/cubic liter

Filtered Air (at the machine) – 1 particles/cubic liter

Indoor air (room with portable HEPA air filter) – 50 particles/cubic liter

In addition to the things I mentioned in yesterdays EcoTip (:179), we also have a 1 inch pleated MERVE 11 filter in our air conditioner (EcoTip :110). By having our home Well-Tuned and the upgraded furnace filter, the particle level inside was ten times lower than outside.

The HEPA filtration in the portable unit was filtering out almost all the particles I was measuring at the machine – which means it was working the way it is supposed to and was reducing the indoor particle level even further.

I’m unwilling to test this while the outdoor air quality is so bad, but its my guess that the most important factor in excluding the smoke has been having our home “Well Tuned”. The pleated furnace filter and the portable filter reduced it further. If the home weren’t well tuned the filtration wouldn’t be able to keep up.

Over the next several days I will be talking about other factors to consider when choosing and setting up a portable filter or purifier unit.

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June 27, 2008

:179 Well-Tuned Home

Welcome to today’s 1:5:10:365 Tip for becoming a better steward for our home and planet environment.

1:5:10:179 EcoTip: The well-tuned home can help exclude elevated levels of outdoor contaminants when conditions are bad.

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 Additional Information:

Suggested Review: :039, :040, :041, :042, :043, :044, :045  

This week it has become apparent how important a well-tuned home is when adverse outdoor conditions are present. There are over 800 wildfires burning throughout California. The smoke today was so bad the sun could barely be seen through the haze. The nearest fire is about 20 miles away, but the weather conditions seem to be concentrating the smoke at ground level throughout the entire valley. Even being outside for a few seconds is quite uncomfortable. We’ve been keeping our home’s doors and windows closed and that seems to be doing a good job at keeping the smoke out.

Homes that aren’t as well-tuned will tend to have greater problems with smoke or other contaminants entering or infiltrating from the outside. This is because they will tend to be depressurized causing them to suck outdoor air into the building through available pathways. A major source of depressurization would be caused by leaking duct-work and an unbalanced ventilation system. The low level of chemical out-gassing we have from our furniture and indoor finishings means we can also keep our house more closed up during the times when it becomes necessary.

It may seem like sealing the home would be more important, but sealing isn’t enough. The EcoTips listed above in the suggested review are some of the main tips that can help balance a home to keep outdoor contaminants like smoke from entering. Science

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June 26, 2008

:178 Hypermilling

Filed under: :178 Hypermilling — Tags: , , , — John Banta @ 12:45 am

Welcome to today’s 1:5:10:365 Tip for becoming a better steward for our home and planet.

1:5:10:178 EcoTip: Hypermilling is a driving style that is being promoted to help save gas. I haven’t found it to be very effective, and have managed to piss off a number of my fellow drivers. When I tried it for a 80 mile round trip, I saved about two bits. Maybe you will have better success, but for me it seems to make more sense to plan and combine trips, maximize passengers (carpool), and use rapid transit.

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 Additional Information:

Here are the rules for Hypermilling:

  • Minimize Breaking
  • Drive the at the speed limit or less
  • Acellerate downhill, Slow uphill
  • Don’t make Left Turns
  • Turn your car off whenever you have to stop to wait for a signal

UPS is claiming that by not making left turns and planning their routes they are saving lots of energy.

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June 25, 2008

:177 FloodSmart

Filed under: :177 FloodSmart — Tags: , , , , , , — John Banta @ 8:55 am

Welcome to today’s 1:5:10:365 Tip for becoming a better steward for our home and planet environment.

1:5:10:176 EcoTip:  FloodSmart is the official web-site of the National Flood Insurance Program. Enter your address at their site to find out what this government program considers your home’s flood risk to be.

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 Additional Information:

According to FloodSmart :

  • Floods and flash floods happen in all 50 states.
  • Everyone lives in a flood zone.
  • Most homeowners insurance does not cover flood damage.
  • If you live in a Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA) or high-risk area and have a Federally backed mortgage, your mortgage lender requires you to have flood insurance. (To find your flood risk, fill out the Flood Risk Profile to the left.)
  • Just an inch of water can cause costly damage to your property.
  • Flash floods often bring walls of water 10 to 20 feet high.
  • A car can easily be carried away by just two feet of floodwater.
  • Hurricanes, winter storms and snowmelt are common (but often overlooked) causes of flooding.
  • New land development can increase flood risk, especially if the construction changes natural runoff paths.
  • Federal disaster assistance is usually a loan that must be paid back with interest. For a $50,000 loan at 4% interest, your monthly payment would be around $240 a month ($2,880 a year) for 30 years. Compare that to a $100,000 flood insurance premium, which is about $400 a year ($33 a month).
  • If you live in a low-to-moderate risk area and are eligible for the Preferred Risk Policy, your flood insurance premium may be as low as $119 a year, including coverage for your property’s contents.
  • You are eligible to purchase flood insurance as long as your community participates in the National Flood Insurance Program. Check the Community Status Bookto see if your community is already an NFIP partner.
  • It takes 30 days after purchase for a policy to take effect, so it’s important to buy insurance before the floodwaters start to rise.
  • Your home has a 26% chance of being damaged by a flood during the course of a 30-year mortgage, compared to a 9% chance of fire.
  • Last year, one-third of all claims paid by the NFIP were for policies in low-risk communities.
  • The average annual U.S. flood losses in the past 10 years (1994-2004) were more than $2.4 billion.
  • When your community participates in the Community Rating System (CRS), you can qualify for an insurance premium discount of up to 45%. Read more about CRS Ratings.
  • The NFIP awarded over $16 billion in flood claims in 2005.
  • Since 1978, the NFIP has paid $31.4 billion for flood insurance claims and related costs (as of 3/31/06).
  • Over 5 million people currently hold flood insurance policies in more than 20,200 communities across the U.S.

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June 24, 2008

:176 Polluter List

Filed under: :176 Polluter List — Tags: , , , , , , — John Banta @ 12:11 am

Welcome to today’s 1:5:10:365 Tip for becoming a better steward for our home and planet environment.

1:5:10:176 EcoTip: Scorecard  lists polluters and provides information about chemical releases in your area. Enter your zip-code in their searchable data base for a list of industrial releases. This is also helpful for double checking property disclosures when you are considering moving.

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Additional Information:

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June 23, 2008

:175 Nearby SuperFund Sites

Welcome to today’s 1:5:10:365 Tip for becoming a better steward for our home and planet environment.

1:5:10:175 EcoTip: Scorecard  provides one method for screening for toxic waste sites in your area. Enter your zip-code in their searchable data base for a list of hazard sites and their status. This is also helpful for double checking property disclosures when you are considering moving.

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June 22, 2008

:174 ScoreCard

Filed under: :174 ScoreCard — Tags: , , , , , , , , — John Banta @ 12:13 am

Welcome to today’s 1:5:10:365 Tip for becoming a better steward for our home and planet.

1:5:10:175 EcoTip: ScoreCard is a zip-code based searchable data base for various pollution sites in the United States. Go to Scorecard to see how your area is rated for chemical releases, superfund sites, water quality and many other factors. Over the next several days I will be providing some tips for using the ScoreCard for evaluating building sites.

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June 21, 2008

:173 Catalog Choice

Filed under: :173 Catalog Choice — Tags: , , , , — John Banta @ 12:10 am

Welcome to today’s 1:5:10:365 Tip for becoming a better steward for our home and planet.

1:5:10:173 EcoTip: Check out Catalog Choice. They are a free service that can be used to help stop receiving unwanted catalog mailings.

https://www.catalogchoice.org

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 Additional Information:

Suggested Review: :059

Catalog Choice is a free service that allows you to decide what gets in your mailbox. Use it to reduce your mailbox clutter, while helping save natural resources. According to their website:

Catalog Choice is a sponsored project of the Ecology Center. It is endorsed by the National Wildlife Federation and the Natural Resources Defense Council, and funded by the Overbrook Foundation, the Merck Family Fund, and the Kendeda Fund.

The mission of Catalog Choice is to reduce the number of repeat and unwanted catalog mailings, and to promote the adoption of sustainable industry best practices. We aim to accomplish this by freely providing the Catalog Choice services to both consumers and businesses. Consumers can indicate which catalogs they no longer wish to receive, and businesses can receive a list of consumers no longer wanting to receive their catalogs.

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