1:5:10:365 EcoTip Blog

December 20, 2008

:355 Thermal Heat Detector

Take the 1:5:10:365 challenge: Do one thing – for 5 to 10 minutes – 365 days a year to make our home and planet environment better.

1:5:10:355 EcoTip: Air infiltration and missing insulation in our homes is a major energy waster. Thermal imaging is a sophisticated way to have your home analysed for these issues – but Black and Decker has come up with an inexpensive do-it-yourself Thermal Heat Detector. It allows you to set a base temperature and then scan for temperature variations – which can indicate energy loss.

p91097b

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 Additional Information:

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

In the winter if you are inside the house, one would look for cold spots. Standing outside one would look for warm spots. If you are using it during the summer it would be the opposite.

More information is available at: http://www.blackanddecker.com/productguide/product-details.aspx?productid=20626

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December 11, 2008

:346 Energy Used per Degree Day

Take the 1:5:10:365 challenge: Do one thing – for 5 to 10 minutes – 365 days a year to make our home and planet environment better.

1:5:10:346 EcoTip: To see if the energy saving measures you have installed are actually saving you money it is necessary to calculate the kilowatt hours per degree day or therms per degree day for the years you want to compare. A lower number means greater savings.

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 Additional Information:

Suggested Review: :343, :344, :345 

Your monthly utility bill should show the Kwh and therms used each month as well as a comparison with the previous year. Most people think they can compare these numbers directly to track their energy savings – but it doesn’t work that way. If your area has a colder month this year than last year – you may not see the savings on your bill even though your home is more energy efficient. Here’s how you can check to see how the monthly energy use compares:

  1. Determine if you furnace is gas or electric. If its gas you will be comparing therms. If it is electric you will be comparing Kwh. Keep in mind that there may be other appliances that use energy that may affect your estimates. For example your hot water heater and stove may also be gas – so, unless your furnace is metered separately you will be getting an answer that combines all three.
  2. Follow the instructions in 1:5:10:365 Tip :345 to generate your degree days your home for the months you want to compare.
  3. Collect the Energy Use data from you utility bill.
  4. Divide the energy used for the month last year by the Heating Degree Days for last year. Then do the same with the data for this year.
  5. Compare the two figures to see how much your energy savings are when the differences in weather between the years are taken out of the picture.

 Here’s an example of the energy comparison section of a bill.

billpage3res

It appears that all your efforts at energy savings were wasted – you used exactly the same amount of energy. But you can only tell by checking the HDD.

  • Last year you used 100 therms and the degree days were 25: 100/25 = 4
  • This year you used 100 therms and the degree days were 33: 100/33 = 3

The calculation using Heating Degree Days shows your energy savings actually increased -you are using 25% less energy to heat the same space. Of course this assumes your cooking and hot water use remained the same. If you started saving on you hot water use, then its savings would be blended in with the heat savings. The method isn’t exact – but at least it gives you a better idea of what is happening.

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December 10, 2008

:345 Web Based HDD

Take the 1:5:10:365 challenge: Do one thing – for 5 to 10 minutes – 365 days a year to make our home and planet environment better.

1:5:10:345 EcoTip: You can use a free internet service to calculate your Heating Degree Days by going to the BizEE Degree Days website. Their information is aimed at energy professionals, but can be helpful for building owners as well. For a chart of degree day data – enter your zip code, choose the weather station closest to you, answer a few additional questions and you will be presented with an excel spread sheet listing of the requested data.  

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 Additional Information:

Suggested Review: :343, :344

The BizEE Degree Days website also has some excellent articles for both beginners and professionals for figuring out degree day information.

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December 3, 2008

:338 More Rebate Listings

Take the 1:5:10:365 challenge: Do one thing – for 5 to 10 minutes – 365 days a year to make our home and planet environment better.

1:5:10:338 EcoTip: The North Carolina Solar Center and Interstate Renewable Council provide a databaseof State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency. It is a comprehensive source of information on state, local, utility, and federal incentives that promote renewable energy and energy efficiency.

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 Additional Information:

Suggested Review: :223

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November 15, 2008

:320 Can Lights & Ice Dams

Take the 1:5:10:365 challenge: Do one thing – for 5 to 10 minutes – 365 days a year to make our home and planet environment better.

1:5:10:320 EcoTip: Can lights in the attic can provide enough heat to melt snow on the roof and result in ice dams. To prevent this install ICAT rated can lights. ICAT stands for Insulation Contact, Air Tight. Not only will they help prevent heat from the can light from getting into the attic but will help same energy as well.

infiltration-2

Courtesy of MoistureView.com

The infrared thermal image above shows cold infiltration around this old uninsulated can light in a kitchen ceiling. ICAT can lights are permitted to have the insulation contacting them. The one in the thermal image wastes energy because code does not permit the insulation to come into contact with it due to the fire hazard. Where the cold comes in – the heat goes out which can lead to the ice daming condition.

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 Additional Information:

Suggested Review: :044

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November 14, 2008

:319 Eave Ventilation

Take the 1:5:10:365 challenge: Do one thing – for 5 to 10 minutes – 365 days a year to make our home and planet environment better.

1:5:10:319 EcoTip: Insulation in eaves needs to be present to save energy loss and prevent ice dams from forming in areas with snow. If not properly installed the insulation can block the eave vents and prevent proper ventilation of the attic. The following illustration shows one way of insulating while allowing attic ventilation through the eave vents and helping to prevent ice dams from forming.

 185-eave-vent1

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 Additional Information:

Suggested Review: :317, :318

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November 8, 2008

:313 Winter Thermal Imaging

Take the 1:5:10:365 challenge: Do one thing – for 5 to 10 minutes – 365 days a year to make our home and planet environment better.

1:5:10:312 EcoTip: Winter thermal imaging can be effectively performed anytime the temperature difference between the inside and outside 20 degrees F or greater. The temperature difference is necessary so that cold spots such as missing insulation and air infiltration can be observed. This is a good way for checking to see if insulation in wall cavities or attics with plumbing are adequately insulated to prevent freezing of pipes.

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The missing insulation shown in this Fluke thermal image shows up as being cold. If there were plumbing in the area where the insulation is missing – there would be a risk of it freezing in a cold snap.

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 Additional Information:

Suggested Review: :311

A thermographer qualified to perform energy audits should be able to take the information gathered during a thermal imaging scan of exterior walls with plumbing and calculate the outdoor temperature that would be cold enough to cause plumbing pipes to freeze. By having this information you can monitor weather reports and take additional precautions during cold snaps when your plumbing is at risk.

Climate change isn”t only about warming. In my book- Extreme Weather Hits Home: Protecting Your Building From Climate Change, I discuss how to prepare your home for cold snaps and other extreme weather conditions.

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October 23, 2008

:297 Motion Sensors

Filed under: :297 Motion Sensors — Tags: , , , , , — John Banta @ 12:08 am

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

1:5:10:297 EcoTip:  Motion sensor light switches can be used for controlling lights in areas where its difficult to get people to turn off the lights.

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 Additional Information:

Motion sensors can save energy by turning lights off automatically when everyone leaves the room. They can also be used to improve safety. For example if you have a hall where the light switch is located at the wrong end of the hall – the motion sensor can be set to turn the lights on when the hall is occupied then off when everyone is gone.

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October 11, 2008

:285 Fireplace Plug

Filed under: :285 Fireplace Plug — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , — John Banta @ 8:04 am

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

1:5:10:285 EcoTip: Fireplaces waste a tremendous amount of heat energy – even with the damper closed. A fireplace plug can help reduce that energy loss.

Battic Fireplace Draft Stopper

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 Additional Information:

Suggested Review:

The Fireplace Draft Stopper from Battic Door Energy Conservation Products can help cut energy loss up the chimney. They have a model for masonry fireplaces and another for zero clearance fireplaces (shown above) http://www.batticdoor.com/fireplacedraftstopper.html

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October 10, 2008

:284 Whole House Fan Seal

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

1:5:10:284 EcoTip: With fall weather beginning it is time to seal up infiltration openings from whole house fans and evaporative coolers. These openings generally have a louvered opening that is kept closed when they are not operating, but that is not enough to keep large amount of unwanted cold air from entering the home in fall and winter. Sealing covers are available that can be installed and removed quickly.

Source: http://www.batticdoor.com/atticlouvercover.html

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 Additional Information:

In addition to helping to conserve energy, sealing the opening where the whole house attic fan opens into the home can help reduce the amount of moisture that flows from your home into the attic. When that moisture hits the cold under surface of the roof it can condense leading to mold growth and deterioration.

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