1:5:10:365 EcoTip Blog

October 29, 2008

:303 Lightning Rods

Filed under: :303 Lightning Rods — Tags: , , , , , , , , — John Banta @ 12:19 am

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

1:5:10:303 EcoTip: A residential lightning protection system is an important consideration for helping to protect your home and family.

  

Source: East Coast Lightning

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 Additional Information:

For additonal information on residential lightning systems check out East Coast Lightning 

According to their website:

A single bolt of lightning can carry over 30 million volts of electricity. Lightning can rip through roofs, explode brick and concrete and ignite fires.

In addition to causing structural damage, a single bolt of lightning can wreak havoc with computers, electronic equipment and appliances.

Every year in the United States the number of homes struck by lightning increases. According to the Insurance Information Institute, residential lightning losses exceed a billion dollars annually and represent close to five percent of all residential insurance claims. 

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October 20, 2008

:294 Storm Shutters

Filed under: :294 Storm Shutters — Tags: , , , , , , — John Banta @ 12:17 am

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

1:5:10:294 EcoTip: Shutters can help protect a building from many types of storms. Fire shutters, hurricane shutters and storm shutters are all available. When choosing a shutter type-make sure it is easy to install and remove or better yet – get a type that a both functional and decorative so that they can remain in place year round – ready to use at a moments notice.

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 Additional Information:

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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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April 28, 2008

:119 Fire Screens

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

1:5:10:119 EcoTip: The fire screen on your fire place chimney does more that arresting sparks going up the chimney as well as keeping out pests. Many homes that catch on fire and burn in wild fires would have been okay if they had an intact fire screen. When wild fires burn they can create a back pressure that sucks hot air and sparks down the chimney into the home – igniting it from the inside. A properly installed chimney fire screen or spark arrester can help prevent this from happening.

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 Additional Information

 The information in this post is from my new book Extreme Weather Hits Home: Protecting your Buildings from Climate Change

• Use quarter-inch fire screen over the opening of every chimney or wood stove pipe. The hot air from a fire can cause the typical air flow to reverse so outside air rushes down the chimney and ignites the interior of the home. Fire screening not only helps prevent sparks from your fireplace from causing a wildfire, but also helps prevent wild fire embers from back drafting into your home.

 
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April 27, 2008

:118 Clear Brush

Filed under: :118 Clearing Brush — Tags: , , , , , , — John Banta @ 12:18 am

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

1:5:10:118 EcoTip: Proper planting and grounds maintenance can go a long way towards protecting buildings from fire.

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 Additional Information

 The following is reprinted from my new book Extreme Weather Hits Home: Protecting your Buildings from Climate Change:

• Trim or prune trees so they are at least ten feet away from the roof. Ideally the area 30 feet around your home will be clear to allow fire equipment access. Forested areas should be at least 100 feet away.

• Keep the grounds 30 feet around your home well irrigated.

• Keep plants spaced away from your home, outbuildings and each other to create a fuel break that will help prevent the flames from traveling to your home.

• Trim mature tree branches so they are over 15 feet above the ground. For younger and shorter trees the minimum above-ground height should be six feet. Bushes should be no more than 18 inches high.

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April 26, 2008

:117 Preparing for Fire Season

Filed under: :117 Preparing for Fire Season — Tags: , , , , , — John Banta @ 12:01 am

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

1:5:10:117 EcoTip: The fire season is quickly approaching. It is time to start preparing.

Credit: FEMA

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 Additional Information

The following is taken from my new book Extreme Weather Hits Home: Protecting Your Buildings from Climate Change: 

At its third annual fire congress in November 2006, the Association for Fire Ecology focused directly on the issue of climate change, stating that global warming is changing fire behavior, creating longer fire seasons, and causing more frequent, large-scale, high-severity wildfires that threaten homes and communities. This means the costs for fire suppression and property loss are also increasing due to climate change. It’s not that the warmer temperatures from climate change are increasing the fires directly. The temperature increases of a degree or two are melting snow earlier and faster each year. Drier soil conditions lead to a greater amount of dehydrated brush resulting in a longer, more intense fire season each year (Westerling).

Addtional fire safety information is available at: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/11/071101202302.htm

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April 22, 2008

:113 Prevent Back-Drafting

Filed under: :113 Prevent Back-Drafting — Tags: , , , , , — John Banta @ 12:28 am

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

1:5:10:113 EcoTip: Back-drafting is a serious condition that can lead to fire or carbon monoxide poisoning. It occurs when the gases for any combustion appliance or a fireplace flow into the house instead of up the chimney. It can be caused by some very simple mistakes especially in today’s very tight energy efficient structures.

http://www.epa.gov/iaq/homes/hip-backdrafting.html 

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 Additional Information

Suggested Review – :111, :112

 There are many forces that can work together to depressurize a home according to EPA these include: bathroom exhaust fans, kitchen range hoods, and clothes dryers and fireplaces. Other problems are “leaky return ducts near combustion equipment, leaky supply ducts outside the conditioned space, wind, and the stack effect (warm air rising in a building tends to depressurize lower areas). If these forces are great enough, they can work to suck air and combustion products back down the chimney or flue and into the house.”

Yesterday I talked about the importance of having doors properly undercut or a Return Air Pathway. Back-drafting is one important reason why!

Let’s say you have a balanced central heating system that has a single return air supply in a hallway and supply registers in each room. Furthermore you’ve just installed a carpet that fills the undercut under the door and substantially reduces the amount of air that can flow under the doorway. As long as the door is open, no problem, but when the door gets closed the air blowing into the bedroom can’t get back to the return. The bedroom becomes postively pressurized, but the rest of the home becomes negatively presurized. There isn’t enough air to satisfy the needs of the furnace system so air starts to flow from cracks and other available openings. In a leaky home, there is probably enough unintended air to satisfy the needs of the system, but when there isn’t enough air, the air has to come from somewhere like by back-drafting down the flue pipe for hot water heater or the furnace. If the furnace or hot water heater is in the house and doesn’t have an unblocked fresh air supply, the combustion gases can flow out into the living space. If the combustion gases have already been burned – the risk is carbon monoxide poisoning. If the gases haven’t been burned, they may ignite and cause a fire. this is just one of several dangerous back-drafting situations. EPA discusses more at: http://www.epa.gov/iaq/homes/hip-backdrafting.html 

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March 12, 2008

:072 Dryer Duct Length

fantech.jpg

credit: Fantech

Suggested Review – :071

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

1:5:10:072 Tip: Check the length and number of angles for your clothes dryer’s ductwork. Ducts that are too long or have too many angles will slow drying and waste energy.

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Additional Information

The International Mechanical Code article 504.6 stipulates the requirements for Domestic clothes dryer ducts. In brief, the maximum length of duct permitted is 25 ft. This maximum length should be reduced by 2.5 ft for each 45-degree bend and 5 ft. for each 90-degree bend. The duct should be a minimum nominal size of 4 inches in diameter and shall have a smooth interior finish.

When a short dryer duct length is not possible, the “Advanced Dryer Booster Fan” by Fantech can assist in over coming the resistance by ensuring that moist air exhausts quickly. This reduces drying time and energy costs. The manufacture says their fan is suitable for duct runs of up to 60 linear feet of rigid duct with up to six elbows. 

www.fantech.net.

http://www.fantech.net/dryer_boosting.htm

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March 11, 2008

:071 Clean Dryer Duct

dryer.jpg

credit: http://www.cpsc.gov/CPSCPUB/PUBS/5022.html

Suggested Review – none

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

1:5:10:071 Tip: Clothes dryer ducts and lint screens should be cleaned on a regular basis to help prevent accumulation. This is important for fire prevention and results in more energy efficient drying (of course solar dryers* work even better).
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Additional InformationThe U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that in 1998, clothes dryers were associated with 15,600 fires, which resulted in 20 deaths and 370 injuries. Fires can occur when lint builds up in the dryer or in the exhaust duct. Lint can block the flow of air, cause excessive heat build-up, and result in a fire in some dryers.

Information about cleaning dryer ducting is available at:

http://www.cpsc.gov/CPSCPUB/PUBS/5022.html

* solar dryer: clothes line

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March 3, 2008

:063 Photoelectric Smoke Detectors

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Suggested Review – none

1:5:10:063 Tip: There are two types of smoke detectors that are commonly used. Ionization smoke detectors contain a radioactive waste product from nuclear power generation. The radioactive material is shielded, but presents a disposal problem. Photoelectric smoke detectors don’t have radioactive material and studies have shown they are more reliable, especially in smokey fires.

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Additional Information

Here’s a good article in Mother Earth News that discusses the advantages and disadvantages.

http://www.motherearthnews.com/Green-Homes/1983-05-01/Photoelectric-Smoke-Detectors.aspx

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