Green Building News
Preparing For The Approaching Season
By: Nancy Astrid Lindo
Nancy Astrid Lindo, principal of Astrid Design Studio, is an Interior Designer and Sustainability Consultant. Having been formally trained as a designer she also holds a Certification in Green Building and Permaculture, as well as, having received her LEED accreditation in 2006.
As the beautiful colors of Fall reminisce on tree branches, the days are quickly growing shorter and signs of our approaching winter are before us. This is an optimal time to prepare our homes for maximum heat conservation and efficiency.
Taking a look at your home as a whole system is critical, as it allows you to see how one component is dependent on the functionality of another. For this very reason, it can guide you in observing these units individually helping you create a map of these various elements in your home, and find any malfunctioning systems.
Taking the DIY approach can be a beneficial band-aid helping to prevent chilly air from making its way inside your home and keeping energy bills at bay. For a more comprehensive and accurate reading and solution, it is best to have a complete energy audit from a building scientist that can properly diagnose your home and offer the proper solutions.
Begin by checking all fenestrations in the home, this can gauge where potential leaks may be. Checking doors and windows, while they are open, will indicate if there is self-adhesive foam tape. This is a quick and easy solution that will give doors and windows a tighter seal. At night, you can check additional air leaks by having interior lights on and outside lights off or vice versa, this is a simple step that notes any light leaks.
Many times doors are installed without a threshold, this can allow for a significant amount of cold air to creep in while wasting warm air. To add additional tightness, add a threshold seal adhered to the interior or exterior bottom part of the door, which will prevent any further air from entering or exiting.
Confirm that there are no holes or cracks around the fenestrations as these gaps allow for air to circulate in the walls. This simple step can save 1,700 lbs. of carbon dioxide and $274 per year.
In addition, sealing these openings and adding insulation where necessary, is a crucial step. Keep in mind when choosing your insulation, that you chose a product that is non-toxic and is appropriate to your need and climate.
When heating your home, know when are the best times and at what temperature to best maintain to it. If you have a timer on your thermostat know how to regulate it and maintain it at 68 degrees, there is a 3% reduction in heating costs for every degree you lower it. While you are at work, keep it at 55 degrees, no need to heat your home in the morning if you are on your way to work. Small space heaters - either built in or auxiliary - work great, and generally are more energy efficient than using a whole system. Don't be afraid to bundle up and get cozy, sometimes we just need to throw on a sweater!
Consider having your furnace and fireplace flue checked - both can block air circulation and actually prevent functionality or worst, contaminate your home's indoor air quality. Dust off and clean all air filters and check that floor supply registers are not blocked by furniture or area rugs. If you are considering replacing your furnace, look into government incentives and rebates and save up to 40% on your energy bill!
If you have an open wood-burning fireplace indoors, consider having an exhaust fan or open a window to ventilate, as wood burning smoke can contaminate the indoor air quality of your home.
Keeping your drapes open during the day captures heat from the sun is an excellent and natural way to heat your home. Heavy drapery naturally insulates, unlike lightweight curtains that are suited for warmer temperatures. This is also trimming season, the perfect time to trim any non-deciduous trees or shrubs that may be blocking in the sun's rays.
Depending on the kind of system you have, by simply shutting doors to unoccupied rooms can assure that heat is maintained where you want it.
With people having the desire to contribute to fighting greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, the best place to start is at home! Little do people realize that when using electricity we are directing supporting coal or nuclear power - some of the largest offenders in GHG emissions.
As oil and natural gas prices continue to rise and the unsustainable practices imposed on our planet continue, it is imperative to begin integrating Smart Living Practices into our lives!