Cooling Down the House

July 19th, 2013 | Posted by sschultz in Green Homes - (0 Comments)

July 19, 2013: NY1 has reported record-setting heat at LaGuardia airport  — 100 degrees — the highest on this date since 1977!  So, it seemed like a good time to review some steps you can take around your home to help keep you and your family comfortable through the hot summer months.

1) Keep your blinds and curtains drawn
While this can sometimes make your home feel somewhat dark and maybe dreary compared to the bright day outside, it is an easy step to help keep your interior shady and cool. Blocking the suns rays can go a long way. If you need to replace your window coverings, consider blinds that have insulating qualities. Comfortex offers window coverings that provide R-Value in addition to privacy.

 

 

2) Turn on your fan
A good fan will use a lot less energy than an Air Conditioner and keeping the air circulating will help you feel cooler. Based on the sleek design of a jet engine, our Charly Fans can move up to 81,000 cubic feet of air per hour! Maximize the cooling effect of the fan by keeping a spray bottle of water handy to spritz your brow. Refreshing!

 

 

 

3) Seal the cracks around your home’s doors and windows
Maximize the effects of your air conditioner by keeping the cool air inside. This is a tip that we bring up a lot — but it bears repeating: Caulk the cracks around your door and window frames to prevent air exchange with the outdoors. If there is existing caulk in the cracks that is failing, scrape all of it out before applying new product.

 

 

4) Insulate Everywhere
Fully insulating your home will help keep you cool and save you money.  Attics can especially heat up in the summer and will work against your air conditioner as it works to cool your home down. Make sure that you have great insulation up there, and that it is fully covering the floor of the attic – even the door to it! You might also consider lining the inside of your roof with a reflective insulation like Nest or Reflectix – this will bounce the heat-waves away from your attic in the summer. Once you’ve checked the attic, check the rest of the house. Even small gaps can make a big difference. Ultratouch Multi-Purpose rolls are perfect for filling crannies like the  areas around pipes, newly installed vents, and more.

 

 

5) If you have an attic, make sure that it is ventilated
An attic fan, installed with proper vents from which to draw, can have a huge effect on the temperature in your attic, and the load on your electricity.  The SolaTube Solar Attic Fan attic fan is one of the most technologically-advanced, environmentally-friendly ventilation solutions available. It circulates air and ventilates your attic space, to help keep your home cool and comfortable. Powered by Solar Star’s proprietary 10-watt solar panel, the Solar Star attic fan will not add to your energy bill while it helps lower it!

 

 

6) Stay hydrated
Dehydration can exacerbate the discomfort of the heat and cause some serious health problems too. Carry a re-fillable water bottle with you at all times! The Vapur Anti-Bottle is collapsible and freezable too so you use it as an ice pack until the water inside melts! It conveniently flattens out when empty so it can easily be tucked away into a bag or pocket.

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Sometimes the changes in our global climate seem like so large of a problem that it can be hard to imagine how one individual, family, or community can make a difference. Do not be discouraged! There are actions that you can take this month in your home, apartment and office that can make an impact.
“How?” you ask…
Through improvements in energy efficiency!

Before we dig into some action ideas, take a look at some of the points from the Environmental Protection Agency’s 2009 report Buildings and their Impact on the Environment: A Statistical Summary:

  • + Buildings in the United States contribute 38.9 percent of the nation’s total carbon dioxide emissions, including 20.8 percent from the residential sector and 18.0 percent from the commercial sector (2008).
  • + Buildings accounted for 72 percent of total U.S. electricity consumption in 2006…
  • + The annual mean air temperature of a city with 1 million people or more can be 1.8–5.4°F (1–3°C) warmer than its surroundings. In the evening, the difference can be as high as 22°F (12°C)… One study estimates that the heat island effect is responsible for 5–10% of peak electricity demand for cooling buildings in cities.
    (Italics are ours, not the EPA’s)

As illustrated above, buildings (both residential and commercial) contribute greatly to energy use and carbon dioxide emissions which contribute, in turn, to climate change. Therefore, increasing the efficiency of our buildings should help slow the changes we’re seeing. Anyone who lives and or works in a building (i.e.: most Americans) has a place where they can (through direct action or influence) make a difference. Actions taken to conserve energy in our built environment have the dual benefits of fighting climate change and saving you (or your landlord, or your company) money on the electric bill.

Not sure where to start? Here are some ideas both big and small:

Caulk The Cracks: Sometimes even the smallest gaps can make a big difference. Running a bead of caulk around window and door frames helps stop drafts and save energy. Cover the Fan: If small cracks make a difference, imagine what a 10″ hole can do! Stop unwanted energy loss through your exhaust fans. These magnetic covers are easy to put on and take off as needed.
Seal the Pulleys: Permanently stop cold drafts infiltrating your house through the pulley assemblies inside your casement window frames with easy to install Pulley Seals.

 

 

Paint the Roof White: The heat island effect of cities can be greatly reduced by painting roofs white – this reflects the sun’s rays rather than absorbing them so buildings stay cooler.  Get Double Pane Performance:
Indow Windows interior inserts give you energy saving performance equivalent to replacement windows without the cost, hassle and waste of replacement and allow you to keep the charm of your originals.
Blow in Some Insulation: With cellulose insulation, you can add significant R-value to your walls without taking the house apart!

 

Still more ideas…

 

1. Pipe insulation, shown above, keeps pipes from freezing, sweating, and losing heat.

2. Switch and outlet gaskets prevent drafts through places we might not consider particularly drafty, but are a source of energy loss.

3. Xtra-Foam seal drafty windows, doors, and leaks with this low expanding, multipurpose foam.

4. Air conditioner weatherseals seal the gaps around air conditioners and in windows

5.  Indoor window insulating kits seal windows airtight.

6. Water heater insulation jackets make home water heaters more efficient.  Handheld adhesive foam prevents leaks around doors and windows.

7. Bonded Logic Ultratouch Mini Rolls help to seal known gaps in insulation, reducing noise and energy loss.

8:  Air conditioner covers prevent winter air from entering through a window unit air conditioner.

http://www.greendepot.com/greendepot/product.asp?s_id=0&prod_name=Magnetized+Exhaust+Fan+Cover&pf_id=AMEFC10&dept_id=700&mscssid=DU3V6BPPQJAF8N0X4VCJK3VFNC500439
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New Accessory Dwelling Unit in Portland

The City of Portland’s Build It Green! Home Tour and Info Fair (BIG!) turns eleven this year. BIG! is a self-guided tour of 16 green remodels and new homes around Portland. The Home Preview web page is a great place to begin planning your tour day, as it’s easy to start and stop where you choose. With so many homes to see, tour-goers usually check out the free Info Fair at Green Depot first, then prioritize the homes based on their features.

As they move through their route, tour-goers can chat with homeowners, designers, do-it-yourselfers and contractors about space-efficient dwellings, solar panels, green roofs, rainwater harvesting, natural landscaping, affordable housing, water and energy conservation, natural building materials and alternative construction techniques.

Tour date: Saturday, September 22, 2012, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m

Eight accessory dwelling units (ADUs) will open their doors on tour day. All of these “backyard cottages” are new construction projects, with the exception of a converted garage.

For the Master-Draper ADU, an existing garage was converted into an energy-efficient art studio and compact dwelling, maintaining the existing footprint. An open outdoor room with sliding doors extends living space to the pocket garden. In 480 sq. ft. of living space, features include a salvaged farm sink, wine barrel stave railings, day lit loft and a mosaic bathroom designed and tiled by the owner.

Walt Quade’s home, 80 sq. ft. pre-fab studio, teardrop trailer and 325 sq. ft. ADU for his sister-in-law is also featured on the tour.

Among other homes you’ll visit are an eclectic accessible remodel featuring Universal Design elements; Planet Repair Institute featuring shared community, natural building techniques and permaculture; the Whitridge Full Plane House expressing the homeowner’s deeply held values of a low-impact home suitable for raising children; and Cully Grove, a new pocket neighborhood of 16 dwellings, common gardens and guest house.

New this year are drop-in workshops at several homes included with the ticket price. Topics included are small home communities, rainwater harvesting, Living Building Challenge, Energy Performance Score, permaculture and more.

The Wicky Pickers

The Info Fair at Green Depot Portland is a prelude to the Tour with green exhibitors, demonstrations, food, drink and live music by the Wicky Pickers! The fun begins at 10 a.m. and ends at 2 p.m. Come get your tickets, enjoy coffee from Da Pressed Coffee and join the fun before heading on the tour! Green Depot is located at 819 SE Taylor, Portland. The Info Fair is FREE and open to all. Enter to win a dual flush toilet and other prizes! Here is a list of the nearly 40 exhibitors already signed up:
City of Portland: Your Sustainable City, Bureau of Environmental Services, ReDirect Guide, The Green Living Journal, Oregon Home Magazine, Energy Trust of Oregon, NW EcoBuilding Guild, Mobius Home, Rebuilding Center, Arciform, Modern Mud, Yolo Paint, Portland Metro Restores/Habitat, The Heat Pump Store, Shelterworks, Kitchen Compost Caddy, Sustainable Northwest Woods, Car 2 Go, Structures NW, Birdseye Hardwood, Decoupage Floors, Marmoleum, EcoCrush, Sunlight Solar, Modspdx, GreenHammer, Indow Window, Jacobs Heating and Cooling, Buckman Neighborhood Architectural Heritage Center, GreenSaversUSA, The Golden Rule, Galaxy, and JRA.

Tickets are required for the tour homes. These are available online or in person at Green Depot.

- $15 general admission
- $10 honored citizens/students/alternative transportation.
- Children 13 years-old and under are FREE.

Want a free Tour ticket? Volunteer for the Tour or Info Fair!

Want more info or have a project you’d like to be considered for 2013? Send an e-mail to Valerie Garrett, tour coordinator, greenhotline[at]portlandoregon.gov.

BIG! is sponsored by Metro, Energy Trust of Oregon, Oregon Home, Solar Oregon, Green Depot, KINK-FM, City of Portland Bureaus of Development Services, Environmental Services, and Water.

This post was authored by Valerie Garrett.

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Many people think that weatherization is just for protecting a home and its occupants from the ravages of winter storms and cold temperatures, but in fact, it is just as important in the summer. Improvements to a home’s weatherization can also help your home stay cool when the mercury rises, increasing your comfort and drastically decreasing your energy bills.

Here are some projects and tools to help you keep cool this summer!

CAULKING
When you are running an air conditioner even small cracks can be a big drag on your energy bill! Make sure that your window and door frames are sealed by checking the caulk around your window frames where they meet the siding. If the caulk appears to be dry and cracked, remove the old material with a putty knife or scraper and run a fresh bead of caulk to renew the seal.

Eco-Bond Clear Adhesive Caulk
This adhesive sealant will work in temperatures from -40 to 200 degrees Fahrenheit. It has excellent bonding power and won’t shrink or pull away from the seal. It is low-odor, low VOC and non-flammable.

 

 

REFLECTIVE INSULATION
With reflective material on either side of a thin but dense insulation blanket, this insulation works by reflecting heat waves away from a building in the summer, or back into a building in the winter. Reflective insulation is less than an inch thick, so you can add an effective layer of R-value to your home or building without sacrificing square footage. We carry two kinds of reflect insulation, Nest (great for retrofit projects) and Skytech (best for new-construction, building wraps.) Both insulations are easy to install, flexible and durable; offer superior acoustical performance; and will not promote the growth of fungus or bacteria. Even better, they are made from 90% recycled materials; are 100% recycleable, and free from formaldehyde, VOCs and carcinogens.

Nest

  • - Perfect for retrofit projects – like lining the interior roof in an attic
  • - Insulation value of R 12.5 with just 1/4 inch of material
  • - Offers a thermal break and a vapor barrier
  • - Fire Rating: Classified UL

 

SkyTech

  • - Great for new construction – especially a whole house wrap
  • - Insulation value of R 13.7 and just 3/8ths of an inch thick
  • - Breathable – allows vapor to pass through
  • - Fire Rating: NFPA Class A/UBC Class 1

 

 

ATTIC VENTILATION
During the hot summer months, attic temperatures can soar and that can have a huge effect on the amount of work your air conditioner has to do – especially on the upper floors of your home. An attic fan, installed with proper vents from which to draw, can have a huge effect on the temperature in your attic, and the load on your electricity.

SolaTube Solar Attic Fan
This attic fan is one of the most technologically-advanced, environmentally-friendly ventilation solutions available. It circulates air and ventilates your attic space, to help keep your home cool and comfortable. Powered by Solar Star’s proprietary 10-watt solar panel, the Solar Star attic fan will not add to your energy bill while it helps lower it!

Click here for more suggestions for ways to weatherize and save money!

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Earth Day weekend in Seattle means an excellent opportunity to see some of the latest trends in Green Building in action. To celebrate Earth Day, the NW EcoBuilding Guild is hosting a 24-site Green Home Tour around central Puget Sound. From the zHome project `in Issaquah, to the Mighty House Heat Conversion remodel in West Seattle, there will be lots of projects to learn from on this home tour. This year Green Depot is participating in the tour by hosting one of the homes – and with a Green Home Expo on Saturday!

Here are some highlights from this year’s Seattle Green Home Tour:

Envision Homes

Site Wo1: Envision Home features include green roof, solar hot water, radiant heating, tight building envelope, salvaged and reused materials, and healthy living. 2216 Walnut Avenue SW


The ShelterKraft Cargo Cottage

Site No3: The ShelterKraft CargoCottage™ is a compact home built from a reclaimed steel shipping container, using green building products (e.g., recycled countertops, salvaged materials, zero-VOC paints) and integrating green technologies like solar and wind power, graywater reclamation, and other alternative energy and off-the-grid systems. 1210 W Nickerson Street


GreenPod's "WaterHaus" gets un-wrapped at Green Depot Seattle.

Site Wo5: GreenPod Development’s WaterHaus is a modular home that features SIP construction, built-in infra-red heating, a living wall with edibles, sustainable finish materials, and fish pond fed by an alternative water system. The WaterHaus will be parked at Green Depot Seattle during the Green Home Tour, and for the week following.

If you aren’t able to make it on the tour, take it virtually by checking out the tour website where there are a lot of details on every site on the tour!

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Winter Projects Around the House

January 12th, 2012 | Posted by sschultz in Green Homes - (1 Comments)

Though many think that Summer is the time for home renovation projects, there are actually many eco-friendly home projects, big and small, that you can take care of at this time of year to improve your energy efficiency and update the look of your home. Here are some ideas:

Insulation and Caulking
Sealing up the leaks around your home can translate into instant energy savings! We offer many easy-to-use products that will help you fill in the gaps around your place with speed.

XtraFoam HH: Use this handheld adhesive spray foam to seal drafty windows, doors, and leaks with this low expanding, multipurpose foam. Bonded Logic Ultratouch Multi-Purpose Roll: perfect choice for smaller household insulating jobs including sealing gaps around air conditioning wall and window units as well as spaces around doorways. AFM Multipurpose Caulk: a water resistant, flexible, easy to install,
non-sag sealant with excellent initial and permanent adhesion.

Window Treatments
Roller or Roman, our window shades are a great way to add a splash of color to your room and create a finished look! Even better, by utilizing a specially engineered cushion of air or reflective fabric, our shades will also help insulate your home and save you energy.

Available in a wide range of styles and colors, our window-treatments help you save energy too.

Kitchen Projects
Major Holiday cooking projects are mostly past now, and the kids are back at school for most of the day – this is a perfect time of year to replace your cabinets and countertops. Many of our stores offer custom kitchen design services with Cabinet Design Professionals. The kitchen cabinets at Green Depot are selected for their fine quality, high style availability and eco-friendly options  like sustainable woods, healthy finishes, or low-urea-formaldehyde content.

We also offer a wide range of countertops that contain recycled material, like PaperStone, and even some that are made in the regions local to the store. Click here for our store locator.

Style and performance mix with sustainability and health in our cabinet lines, like Urban Prairie – shown here. PaperStone: Beautiful, warm and heavy-duty – perfect for today’s home. Twice as strong as granite, ideal for residential and commercial uses. Cambria will resist most stains and is easy to clean.

Floor Re-Finishing
When people imagine getting their floors re-finished, they also often imagine spending weeks with their windows open, airing out the house. With Green Depot’s low-toxic floor finishes, you don’t have to worry about the weather outside getting in, or endangering your home’s air quality. Even better, many of our finishes (like Osmo Polyx-Oil and Vermont Natural Coatings) cure quickly so life can return to normal in days – not weeks.

Made from natural oils and waxes, Polyx-Oil brings out the natural beauty of your wood. Spot-repairable. Made from post-industrial whey protein, Vermont Natural Coatings offer a low-toxic alternative to regular polyurethane finishes.
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