1:5:10:365 EcoTip Blog

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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May 27, 2008

:148 Chimney Sweep

Filed under: :148 Chimney Sweep — Tags: , , , , , , , , — John Banta @ 12:54 am

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

1:5:10:148 EcoTip: If you have a fireplace, it should be cleaned and inspected. Even if you don’t use it, animals may cause damage, build nests or die. Damaged flashing or caps can provide a pathway for water intrusion. A damaged firescreen not only permits sparks to exit the chimney, but in case of wild fire, may permit embers to enter – igniting the home from the inside.

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 Additional Information:

Suggested Review – :119

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May 10, 2008

:131 Clearing Brush 2

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

1:5:10:131 EcoTip: I was surprised and pleased to see what appeared to be about a hundred goats clearing excess brush from a steep slope of Berkeley Hills the other day.

 

The goats are employed by EcoSystem Concepts of Dixon, California to clear brush for fire prevention. EcoSystem describes itself as being a “Vegetation Management Service for Rangelands, Grasslands and Pastures, both Private and Public”

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 Additional Information

Need your land cleared?

Four hundred goats can clear an acre a day, and they consider eating poison oak a special treat!

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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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