So What To Do Next – Subscribe to a magazine

Boogie down brothers it’s Jam Band Friday -( )

Now that you have spent the last couple of years getting to know your energy systems in your home and doing something about it. What is next? Solar Panels, Solar water heaters, a Wind turbine? Slow down little guppy. You could even start with a solar cooker. However I suggest you read and think a little first. I mean a meditation on food and a solar cooker could take you to places you have never been.

Jobs for Energy Auditors Gain Momentum Nationwide

Cover photo: Erik Pierson of Recurve, a San Francisco Bay Area home performance contractor, discusses an upcoming home energy audit with Regina Loureiro of San Jose. Photo by Lou Dematteis

Jobs for Energy Auditors Gain Momentum Nationwide

January/February 2010 Feature

by Patricia Leiser

It is anticipated that most, if not all, large U.S. cities will adopt programs to improve the energy efficiency of homes and commercial buildings.

Continue reading “Jobs for Energy Auditors Gain Momentum Nationwide”


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The more you read and research the more you will know what your next move is. My question is when does the audit end, and more importantly did the audit prompted you into other behaviors. Are you riding your bike more?

Making Sense
Making Sense: of Solar-Electric System Costs
What would it cost to power your home with solar energy? Use these simple guidelines to get your solar start today.
Tools of the Wind-Electric Trade
Tools of the Wind-Electric Trade
The tools you need for a successful wind-electric installation.
Intro to Hydropower
Intro to Hydropower: Part 2: Measuring Head & Flow
Part 2. How to measure the two most important variables used in determining your site’s hydroelectric potential.
Solar Water Heating Systems Buyer's Guide
Solar Water Heating Systems Buyer’s Guide
Pick the perfect solar hot water system for your climate and site.
Be Cool
Be Cool: Natural Systems to Beat the Heat
Beat the summer heat with these basic passive cooling strategies.
EV Snapshot
EV Snapshot: Chevy S10 Conversion
A step-by-step tour of Mark’s clean, electric conversion of a Chevy S10 pickup — guaranteed to make you rethink your next vehicle. With some effort and a little money, you can convert your gasoline engine car to run on electricity—for cleaner, greener local driving.
Efficiency Details
Efficiency Details: For a Clean Energy Change
Put these top ten tips to use and make your household more energy efficient and renewables-ready.
How to Install...
How to Install… A Pole-Mounted Solar-Electric Array: Part 1
How to install a pole-mounted solar-electric array— part one, sizing and setting the pole.


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And for the policy wonks

The Quarterly Journal of the IAEE’s Energy Economics Education Foundation
Volume 31, Special Issue
Download Entire Issue Now

ADAM’s Modeling Comparison Project – Intentions and Prospects
Ottmar Edenhofer , Brigitte Knopf, Marian Leimbach and Nico Bauer
View AbstractDownload Now

The Economics of Low Stabilization: Model Comparison of Mitigation Strategies and Costs
Ottmar Edenhofer , Brigitte Knopf, Terry Barker, Lavinia Baumstark, Elie Bellevrat, Bertrand Chateau, Patrick Criqui, Morna Isaac, Alban Kitous, Socrates Kypreos, Marian Leimbach, Kai Lessmann, Bertrand Magne, Serban Scrieciu, Hal Turton, Detlef P. van Vuuren
View AbstractDownload Now
Transformation Patterns of the Worldwide Energy System – Scenarios for the Century with the POLES Model
Alban Kitous, Patrick Criqui, Elie Bellevrat and Bertrand Chateau
View AbstractDownload Now

Technology Options for Low Stabilization Pathways with MERGE
Bertrand Magne, Socrates Kypreos, and Hal Turton
View AbstractDownload Now


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And then for the strong at heart.

AHE Featured on the Cover of the Sept/Oct 2009 edition of Home Energy Magazine!AHE Featured on the Cover of the Sept/Oct 2009 Edition of Home Energy Magazine!

Energy Efficient Home Solutions

Advanced Home Energy (AHE) is the leading Home Performance contractor in the San Francisco East Bay. AHE provides expert guidance and services to home owners who want an energy efficient home and want to reduce their personal environmental impact.

Home Performance

Home performance is an energy efficiency strategy in which contractors address homes as whole systems, rather than in discrete components. Home performance contractors integrate expertise in all areas affecting home energy use; insulation, windows, heating and cooling, water heating, etc.. By integrating treatment of all factors in a home’s energy use, AHE services are solution-oriented, cost-effective, and easier for consumers to use than traditional efficiency methods.

Home Energy Audit

We provide a home energy audit to diagnose all the components of of a building. We then identify the areas for greatest potential and create a work package that is tailored to the unique issues of the home. By using our services home owners reduce their monthly utility bills, reduce their carbon footprint, and make their home more comfortable throughout the year


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Once you read this you will be ready to go gogogogo

Current Issue
January/February 2010 Issue 1 • Volume14
Cover Story
  • Community Wind – the development of locally owned, utility-scale wind farms – is one of the fastest-growing segments in the U.S. wind industry. Community Wind projects are developed and owned, in part, by members of the communities in which they’re developed. A typical project ranges between 5MW and 80MW, although they can range both higher and lower. Most importantly, this approach to development leads to a genuine sense of community involvement and acceptance. [More]


Nothing wrong with reading and being smart.


Saving Water And Saving Energy – I know it is hard for some to imagine

For the record and I have said this many many many times. Half the energy our society expends is on pumps. Second, water is awfully cheap. Many people consider the next two things I will suggest as “parlor tricks”, but they are cheap and easy. One, buy and install a low flow shower head. They up the pressure of the water so you get a better shower using half as much water as normal.

Low Flow Shower Head: Oxygenics

Pros: Attractive design. Adapts well to different kinds of water pressure. Has a lever that adjusts water velocity. Oxygenates water.

Cons: Has a jet-like sound that some may find distracting. May reduce the temperature of your shower water a bit.

Price: $20-35

The Oxygenics SkinCare Showerhead is my favorite low-flow showerhead. It has a vigorous spray and it oxygenates the water quite well. It is a “self-pressurizing” showerhead, meaning it adapts to low or variable water pressure. It can deliver a great shower whether the water pressure is 20 psi (pounds per square inch) or 100 psi. It has a maximum flow rate of just 1.5 gallons of water per minute. It has a comfort control lever on the side to allow for the regulation of water velocity at the showerhead, allowing the user to select a spray ranging from brisk and stimulating to soft and gentle.

Available from Amazon for around $17.


Low Flow Shower Head Review: HighSierra FCS Works Great

Category: Companies, Economics, Green Reviews, Save Water, Tips – Tom Harrison – 4:32 pm

HighSierra FCS-200 Low Flow Shower HeadI have spent the last several weeks testing the HighSierra FCS-200 water saving shower head; it costs about $25, provides a great shower experience, uses only 1.5 gallons per minute (GPM) and I highly recommend it.

I have now done five low flow shower head reviews so far (sorry, no nude shower scenes in this one) and the HighSierra wins hands down on price and is a strong contender for the best feeling shower of those we have tried.

A water saving shower head can help you conserve water, and in particular hot water which means you’re also save energy.

The other very good water saving shower heads I tested are larger, and considerably more expensive. Don’t be deceived — the HighSierra model might look like those really cheapo, painful shower heads that they put in locker room showers. But HighSierra’s clever low flow design makes it really a totally different beast. Simple is good; the manufacturer claims that it is less likely to become clogged with mineral deposits, it’s very small, and solidly built.


Number two is either install a low flow toilet – they run about 300 $$$

TOTO Aquia
CST414M dual-flush

A compact elongated bowl that is only 27-1/4″ from front to back A green toilet. Comments
Dual Flush
Saves water
800 grams
DF $320


Or install a toilet damn

Toilet Dams make your tank smaller by using plastic barriers that prevent water from running out when you flush. Your toilets are the largest water-wasters in your home. About 5-7 gallons of water are lost with every flush. Using one of these Toilet Dams you save 100’s of gallons of water per person per year and REDUCE SEWER FLOWS.

A standard dam can hold back one gallon of water. The Incredible Superbowl Toilet Dam holds back 2-3 gallons of water per flush.

Estimating about 10 flushes a day, that is a savings of up to 12,000 gallons a year.

Comes with a pack of 2.


They are under 10 $$$$.


Reusable Furnace Filters And Foam Insulation Pads For Electrical Outlets

While these are 2 things you will hardly ever hear about and probably won’t find them in any energy audit permanent furnace filters and foam insulation for electrical outlets are cheap easy additions to your environment. You will also notice that I have managed to discuss this whole topic of residential energy conservation withoutmentioning PAYBACK. The reason for that is I don’t believe in it. If you want to save energy/money, you will. If you do not then you won’t.

Professionals (gag and puke) will say rational sounding things like – Payback calculations allow consumers to prioritize their energy purchases. OR the equally obnoxious – If it takes more then 5 years to payback consumers won’t make the purchase. This is bullcrap, I know people who have wind turbines in their backyard. People who want to save WILL

Having said all that, both of these items payback are calculated in DAYS.

Electrostatic Furnace Filters

Electrostatic Furnace Filters

Air Filter’s Inc. Electrostatic Furnace Filters create its own electrostatic charge so it does not add to your electrical cost, but aids in reducing costs by keeping your air conditioning/ heating coils and equipment cleaner, so they operate at the highest capacity possible.Permanent washable electrostatic air filters are designed with a Heavy Duty Aluminum Frame, 2 Layers of special Polypropylene Weave on the front and back, with a unique poly internal lining designed for years of filtration.


Our ELECTROSTATIC FURNACE FILTERS replace standard throw-away disposable air filters. Depending on where you live in the country, these filters are known as furnace filters, air conditioner filters or central air filters. They are PERMANENT, WASHABLE, REUSABLE and SELF-CHARGING. They have non-rusting ALUMINUM FRAMES and come with a LIFETIME WARRANTY.

These amazing filters reduce airborne dust in your house! Enjoy cleaner air and fewer allergy symptoms!

SAVE TIME…No need to search for that odd-sized a/c filter that nobody seems to carry.
SAVE MONEY…No need to buy a new furnace filter every few months. Pays for itself in about 1 year!
SAVE THE ENVIRONMENT…No need to fill up landfills with non-biodegradable fiberglass disposable filters.

We feature 5-Stage BoAir brand and 3-Stage Air Care brand permanent furnace filters. We pride ourselves on carrying the best air filters for the best price. Join our thousands of happy customers and switch to an electrostatic furnace filter today!

100% Satisfaction Guaranteed!



* Replaces your furnace and/or air conditioning filters.
* Will work with all central heat and a/c systems.

Reduce dust in your house!
Enjoy cleaner air and less allergies!

Tired of forgetting to buy that pesky furnace filter every 3 months?
Tired of looking for that odd-sized filter that no one seems to stock? Stop wasting your time and money on ineffective disposable air filters. We offer permanent, metal-framed washable electrostatic filters from Air Care and BoAir. Never buy another filter again!

Our Electrostatic Filters Feature:

High Dust Arrestance…
Low Air Resistance.

Just vacuum off or hose off every 1-3 months and re-install.
Lifetime Warranty. 95% arrestance. Available in 41 standard sizes and custom sizes. Available in metal frame, deluxe frame and flexible frame (great for mobile home furnaces).
These same electrostatic filters retail elsewhere for $79.99-$99.99…
Get them at for 50% OFF!


Foam behind your electrical outlets? What is up with that. Well everytime I go into a house the first question I ask is, “do you have any holes in your wall?” They always laugh and say no. I take out a screw driver, take off a plug cover and say, “what do you call that?

Electrical Outlet and Switch Sealers

Photo by – Mark Donovan

Electrical Outlets and switches located on exterior walls are frequently found to be major sources for cold air drafts. Left unchecked you can waste a lot of money on winter home heating energy bills. By installing electrical outlet and switch sealers you can prevent this from happening.

Electrical outlet and switch sealers are thin foam pads that have cutouts for the outlet and switch receptacles. They are very inexpensive and extremely easy to install.

And most importantly, they will stop the cold air drafts and save you a bundle on home heating energy bills. You can find electrical outlet and switch sealers at any home improvement store.To see if you have cold air infiltration around your electrical outlets and switches just place your hand over them and feel for any cold air drafts. Ideally you should do this on a cold blustery day, as this will enable you to more easily detect the drafts.


Heating or cooling a house seems to get a bigger piece of the family budget every month. Sealing the air loss around the home is critical and one of the often forgotten leaks is the electrical and light outlets that reside on the exterior walls of the home. A simple and inexpensive fix performed by anyone with a screwdriver and an hour to spare can save you money


Anybody can change a filter or use a screw driver.


Burning Behavior And The Energy Audit – It is very clear the connection between knowing and doing

The whole purpose of this blog is to combat burning behavior. Burning Behavior is very primite and at this point in our culture counterproductive behavior. Information can counter this largely instinctive behavior. Notice how quickly you want to put caulk in a hole that the smoke test shows you.

So while this meditation was about Energy Audits it is also about what to do when the audits produce KNOWN results. So let us go back to windows for a moment. It is true that they should all be caulk up by now and any holes filled with expanding foam from a can. Another basic question you need to ask for the heating and the cooling seasons is, “Do I have “storm” windows. These windows were originally installed to protect the interior window from storm damage, particularly in tornado country from damage by wind driven objects. They have since been taken on as an integral component of what is called the exterior envelop. In other words the dead airspace that they provide ups the R value of 2 pieces of glass whose R value collectively might be as low as 2. If you do not have storm windows or during the height of the cooling season in particular you put the back of you hand near the low e film cover window and you still feel cold, you may need to apply plastic to the outside or inside of the windows. You amy also need to think about buying new windows. This can be daunting at 160 $$$ a pop still it also is motivation to considering getting rid of some windows all together.

The exterior application used to be about the only way to do it. You bought a roll of 3 mill or 6 mill plastic, cut card board strips, and used carpet tacks to nail them up. With the invention of the staple gun things got alot easier but you still do damage to the window sills themselves. second story windows also require a 16 foot extension ladder. They come in kits now and may even include adhesive strips:

  1. Outside Window Insulator Kit

    $14.00 new

    BIC Warehouse

    Outside Window Insulator Kit

    an extra pane of insulation, preventing frosty windows Special weather-resistant door plastic weatherstrip wndw insul kit window outside wndow insltr.

    Add to Shopping List

  2. Frost King P712H Economy Outdoor Plastic Storm Window Kits 3-Foot ...

    $1.95 new

    Frost King P712H Economy Outdoor Plastic Storm Window Kits 3-Foot …

    2 Pack, 3′ x 6′, 1,25 Mil, Exterior, Storm Window Cover Kits, With Fiber Framing Strips & Nails.

    Add to Shopping List

  3. Outside Window Insulator Kit

    $13.58 new


    Outside Window Insulator Kit

    an extra pane of insulation, preventing frosty windows Special weather-resistant door plastic weatherstrip wndw insul kit window outside wndow insltr.

    Add to Shopping List

  4. Window Stretch Film Kit By Thermwell Products V93h

    $4.99 new


    Window Stretch Film Kit By Thermwell Products V93h

    Frost King Outdoor Window Insulation Kit Outdoor use only, plastic stretch film installs easily from the outside. Apply double-face tape to metal, .

    Add to Shopping List

  5. Frost King P712H Economy Outdoor Plastic Storm Window Kits 3-Foot ...

    $1.42 new

    Frost King P712H Economy Outdoor Plastic Storm Window Kits 3-Foot …

    2 Pack, 3′ x 6′, 1,25 Mil, Exterior, Storm Window Cover Kits, With Fiber Framing Strips & Nails.

    Add to Shopping List

  6. Frost King P712H Economy Outdoor Plastic Storm Window Kits 3-Foot ...

    $2.36 new…

    Frost King P712H Economy Outdoor Plastic Storm Window Kits 3-Foot …

    2 Pack, 3′ x 6′, 1,25 Mil, Exterior, Storm Window Cover Kits, With Fiber Framing Strips & Nails.

    Add to Shopping List

  7. Frost King Outdoor Window Insulation Kit

    $4.37 new

    BIC Warehouse

    Frost King Outdoor Window Insulation Kit

    W. x 504? L (42′) Brand #: Thermwell Prods. Co. V93H UPC: 077578018119 Keywords: window insulator kit stretch shrink film wndw insul plastic weatherstrip patio.

    Add to Shopping List

  8. Frost King Outdoor Window Insulation Kit

    $4.61 new

    Frost King Outdoor Window Insulation Kit

    V96H: Patio doors up to 7′ x 9′ or picture window kit: 1 plastic film sheet 84” W. x 110” L., 1 roll tape 1/2” W. x 504” L. (42′).

    Add to Shopping List

  9. Frost King Outdoor Window Insulation Kit

    $4.24 new


    Frost King Outdoor Window Insulation Kit

    504A” L (42′) Brand #: Thermwell Prods. Co. V93H UPC: 077578018119 Keywords: window insulator kit stretch shrink film wndw insul plastic weatherstrip patio.

    Add to Shopping List


But for many reasons the  indoor kits are the ones that I would use. They are much easier to use, require no ladder and do no damage to the sills. My sister Joann puts them up at my dads house every year and I can attest to their effectiveness:

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3M 2141W Indoor 5-Window Insulator Kit
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3M 2141W Indoor 5-Window Insulator Kit

Other products by 3M

4.6 out of 5 stars See all reviews (40 customer reviews)

40 Reviews
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4 star: (7)
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› See all 40 customer reviews…

List Price: $22.54
Price: $17.93 & eligible for FREE Super Saver Shipping on orders over $25. Details
You Save: $4.61 (20%)

Special Shipping Information: Currently, item can be shipped only within the U.S. and to APO/FPO addresses. For APO/FPO shipments, please check with the manufacturer regarding warranty and support issues.

Technical Details

  • Reduces heating costs and saves energy
  • Stops cold drafts, helps prevent frost build-up and reduces condensation
  • Performs like an extra storm window
  • Shrinks tight for wrinkle-free, clear-as-glass results
  • Increases R-value by 90% over an average single pane window.

Product Description

From the Manufacturer

Get your home ready for winter with 3M energy solutions. Our window insulator kits are easy to install, and help keep your utility bill low during the cold months. Plus they use Scotch Window Film Mounting Tape and have the clearest film. The cost of heating your home may be rising, but there’s something you can do. 3M window insulator kits help keep the warm air in and cold drafts out. And your energy bill down. Tape: 1/2 inch by 12 yard. Film: 62 inch by 210 inch.

Product Description

Stops cold drafts and helps prevent frosty windows. Clear as glass. Easy to install requires only scissors and a hair dryer for installation. Safe application to aluminum, painted or varnished wood, or vinyl clad window moulding. Film wrinkles are removable.


Oh and in the heating season don’t forget to bag and seal you window air conditioning unit.


Compact Flourescent Bulbs – Now for the really painful part

These babies are expensive and are already being replaced by LED Technology but beginning in 2012 regular lightbulbs will be phased out and eliminated by 2014. Did I say they look funny too. So go around and count all your lights. We have 11 in the bathroom alone. At 2 $$$ a pop that is 22 $$$ just for our bathroom but they last three years, cut your energy use for lighting purposes by at least 2/3rds and are recyclable.

So go to the store and get these:

Select a sub-category or click here to see all 670 products in Incandescent Bulbs

“Regular” (A-Shape)


Decorative Torpedo & Flame Tip

Exit & Display



Indicator & Sign


Night Light & Holiday




You can actually spend 40 $$$ on a house…nobody ever said change was easy or cheap


Sorry My Internet Is Out – 02/22/10

I am at the Riverton public library and I could post but Cass Communication or Greene County Cable who are my service providers said they will get it up and running this afternoon. So I am taking them at their word. If they don’t live up to it by tomorrow you will hear a whole lot more about it from me. Bet on it. The library is actually a nice place and I have posted from here before but they shut down from 2-4 and it is almost 2 now…so I think I will just go home and get lunch. I need to start a meatloaf too so maybe by the time I do all that I will be up and running at CES’ headquarters. Thanks for the patience ;+]

Insulation – What a way to end the week

It is Jam Band Friday – ( )

Humans burn at 98.6. If we lived in a perfectly insulated and airtight world we would have to vent our homes in the winter. Some people in colder climates have those homes, but us’ens in the uninsulated leaky drafty Midwest don’t. I tell people to put as much insulation WHEREVER they can.

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These people favor fiberglass and are trying to dis’ cellulose:

FAQs About Residential and Commerical Insulation

What does insulation actually do for my home?

What areas of my home should be insulated?

How do I know how much insulation I need for my home?

What is R-value?

Where do I find R-value information when I go to buy insulation?

What are the options when choosing insulation?

How can I be sure I’m getting the best performance from the insulation in my home?

Are there rebates available for installing insulation?

If I am adding more insulation to my home do I need to remove what I already have?

What Kind of Insulation Do Builders Use on Their Own Homes?

What does insulation actually do for my home?

Fiber glass insulation keeps your home cool in the summer and warm in the winter, because insulation resists the flow of heat. Heat is a form of energy and always seeks a cooler area – flowing out of the home in the winter and into the home in the summer. By reducing heat flow, a properly insulated home uses less energy for heating and cooling.

In addition to being an energy saver, fiber glass insulation also acts as a sound absorber. When installed in walls and ceilings, it can reduce the transmission of sound from one room to another or from the outside. In today’s noise-laden environments, more and more homeowners are soundproofing their homes.

A well-insulated home increases the overall comfort of the home and adds to its resale value. Whether your home is new or old, it pays to insulate.

What areas of my home should be insulated?

Insulation is not just for attics and outside walls. Insulation should also be installed in other areas of your home such as ceilings with unheated spaces, basement walls, floors above vented crawl spaces, cathedral ceilings, floors over unheated garages or porches, knee walls, and in between interior walls (especially bathrooms), ceilings or floors for extra sound control.

How do I know how much insulation I need for my home?

The amount of insulation in a home varies depending upon where you live. NAIMA has developed recommended levels of insulation for various climate zones. These recommendations are based on recommendations from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the International Energy Conservation Code which is the model building code for the United States.

Click here to visit to learn about what zone your home is in and how much you insulation you need.

What is R-value?

Insulation is identified and labeled by R-value. “R” stands for resistance to heat flow. The higher the R-value, the greater the insulating power.

Where do I find R-value information when I go to buy insulation?

Insulation is identified and labeled by R-value. “R” stands for resistance to heat flow. The higher the R-value, the greater the insulating power. Manufacturers of insulation products print R-values of their products either on the bags or on the labels. In most cases, R-values are also printed on the facings of fiber glass batts and rolls.


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You can use just about anything as insulation.

The Proper Choice of Insulation

The proper choice of insulation depends on its final use. In most applications, good resistance to heat flow is not the only thing you will have to consider. In specific situations, insulation may also need some of the following properties:

  • resistance to high temperatures
  • resistance to moisture flow (can it reduce the movement of water vapour?)
  • resistance to air movement (can it act as an air barrier?)
  • a fire-rated protective covering

Once you have matched the material properties with the specific application, consider the following installation factors:

  • Is it relatively easy to install?
  • Is it the best buy for the space available (either high insulating value per dollar if you have lots of open space, or high insulating value per thickness if space is restricted)?
  • Is it available locally?
  • Will it be easy to install the insulation to fill the space completely?
  • Can it conform to surface irregularities?
  • Is it rigid enough to provide support for finished materials or resist pressures against its surfaces?
  • Does one insulation require more accessory products than another (fire protection, framing, air and vapour barrier)?

In short, the choice of insulation will largely depend on how it will be used. Different types of insulation are commonly used for insulating wallsbasements and attics. Fortunately, particular insulation jobs will quickly eliminate some materials, making the choice much easier.


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Batt or Blanket Insulation

Loose-Fill Insulation

Mineral Fibre

Cellulose Fibre

Glass Fibre

Mineral Wool (Slag and Rock Wool)


Rigid Board Insulation

Glass-Fibre Boards

Expanded Polystyrene

Extruded Polystyrene

Polyurethane and Polyisocyanurate Boards

Phenolic Foam Boards

Spray-Foam Insulation

Polyurethane Foam

Semi-Flexible Isocyanurate Plastic Foam

Phenolic Foam

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Just copying all the types of insulation tuckered me out.

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Hot Water Blankets – Stop the presses I made a mistake

When I was talking about making a list of your energy consuming equipment and taking actions like cleaning the coils on your refrigerator and your freezer, and  cleaning the filters on your cooling and heating equipment, I forgot the most easy and largest savings step. That would be your hot water heater. Like the other equipment you do need to clean it. So listen to the plumbing guy about cleaning your gas or electric water heater. They are different:



So was that fun or what. If you ended up with water allllllll over your basement floor, practice makes perfect. Now it is time to put on another layer of insulation. How much is up to you but R 60 is probably too much.

First turn your water heater thermostat to 120 no matter what this guy tells you 140 is too high unless you are a family of 5.

Most of us received our first introduction to the hot water heater blanket back in the ’70’s when conserving energy became important. They became a familiar addition to many homes. But how effective are they really? And can a heater blanket actually pay for itself if the hot water heater is in a part of the house that’s not subject to extreme weather? Let’s see if we can find out.

First, a little bit about water heaters and insulating blankets. A hot water heater is just a tank of water that’s heated to a preset temperature (generally about 140 degrees F.). When you use hot water it’s drawn from the tank and new cold water replaces it. Regardless of whether any water is used it takes energy to keep the water hot. Energy is always escaping to the colder air that surrounds the tank.

Almost all heaters have at least some minimal level of insulation to help keep the heat inside the tank. Newer models, especially those built in the last ten years, have more insulation than older models.

A water heater blanket is made of insulation contained in sheet plastic so that it can be attached to the water heater. Blankets are rated based on their ‘R’ value just like other insulation. A blanket with R-11 is recommended.

The blankets are easy to install. The only tools you’ll need are a razor knife and a tape measure. The cost is fairly modest with most running between $10 and $25.

How effective are they at reducing energy costs? The Iowa Energy Center says that a properly installed blanket can reduce energy loss by 25% to 45%. If you consider that Florida Power and Light estimates that the average family of four spends $25 each month for hot water that can be quite some savings. That’s not to say that you’ll save 25% of $25 each month. You’ll still need to heat water to replace the hot water in that shower. But a hot water blanket will pay for itself in short order.

Now let’s try to get specific about Joyce’s question. Does it still pay to install a blanket if your water heater is kept in the garage? How can you tell?

Begin by checking the owner’s manual for your water heater. Some newer models specifically recommend that you do NOT use a heater blanket. If your manual doesn’t mention blankets or you’ve lost the manual (someone please tell me that I’m not the only homeowner who doesn’t have his manual!) there’s a simple test you can do. Just place your hand on the outside of the heater. If it’s warm to your touch a blanket will save you money.

Is it possible to calculate how much money you’ll save? Well, theoretically yes. But unless you’re related to a grad student in advanced mathematics it’s probably not worth the effort. There are quite a few variables that will effect the answer. How much you pay for energy. How quickly your heater loses temperature. How efficient your water heater is in turning energy into hot water. How much hot water your family uses. Are there periods during the day when no water is being used? Remember, we’re only talking about an investment of $25 or less. We really don’t need sophisticated payback analysis here!

But what about Joyce’s question? We still haven’t answered it. Fortunately, there is a simple way to address it. If you can feel the heat with your hand it’s wise to install a blanket no matter what the surrounding air temperature is.

Look at it this way. Suppose you keep the tank in an unheated area that’s exposed to outside temperatures. The water tank is being heated to 140 degrees. It’s 20 degrees outside. That’s a difference of 120 degrees. Unless that tank is properly insulated you’d expect to lose some heat.

What about if you have the heater in a attached garage like Joyce? It’s probably not unreasonable to guess that the temperature drops to 60 degrees in the garage. That means that there’s still a difference of 80 degrees between the tank and the air surrounding it.

So if you saved the 25% with the heater outside, you could expect to still save 2/3 of that with the heater in the garage. (80 degrees divided by 120 degrees = 2/3) Well worth the time and money you’ll spend on installing a heater blanket.

One warning that we do need to pass along. DO NOT insulate the bottom or top of gas hot water heater tanks. You need to leave plenty of room for the pilot light and for the flue draft. Be very careful to follow installation instructions. Failure to do so could be very costly and dangerous!

In addition to water heater blankets, there are other things that you can do to reduce the costs of that hot shower. You can insulate the hot water pipes. Lowering the tank temperature is another option. Many people have installed timers and low flow shower heads. If you have an electric tank and it’s in the basement you might even want to place it on a Styrofoam pad to reduce the heat lost to the cold floor.

The bottom line is that water heater blankets are inexpensive, easy to install and efficient. You don’t need to be that family of four spending $300 each year for hot water the savings can add up. It’s an easy way to stretch a few dollars for something more important!


Notice what he said about insulation for the hot water line. They make slit foam cuffs that just slip over your warm water pipes. If you kitchen sink is a long way from your heater, (mine is 40 feet) it can take forever to get hot water and if you turn it off for very long you are back to cold again.


Awnings For Doors And Windows – Solar Shading

Much of the common sense that was built into our homes up until the 1950s was thrown out for what was called modernism. We here call it 20 year obsolescence and stupid. One of those Common Sense ideas was the idea of solar shading. This meant that for most parts of the temperate US all the houses would have roughly 2 or 3 foot eves. The idea being that you want the Sun during the winter and you don’t want it in the summer. Since most houses no longer have such eves and especially in the south where your eves would have to be 5 foot long, awnings have gotten popular. In Springfield IL for instance:

Benmar Remodeling & Building Corporation

(217) 814-0278 Our goal is not to be the biggest, but rather, the best! 929 E Carpenter, Springfield, IL 62702

In addition to renovating, designing or remodeling your outdoor spaces, we offer a large selection of awnings by several different manufacturers. Choose from a variety of styles and materials, including:

• Aluminum patio covers & pergolas
• Fabric
• Fiberglass
• Retractable fabric awnings
• Retractable – manual or motorized
• Stationary

We also sell and install Joyce windows, which are all welded, rigid vinyl construction and are extremely energy efficient. All styles are custom sized and have detailed contoured framing for an elegant “wood-like” look, all the while creating shadow lines in the main frame sash that mimic real wood windows. You really have to see them to believe how beautiful they are!


Retractable Patio Awnings
Welcome to!
Don’t let the name fool you! We offer high quality, do-it-yourself awnings, canopies, hurricane shutters and umbrellas at reasonable prices with FREE ground shipping.
Convenient On-Line Shopping and Ordering
Phone (800) 422-6827 ext. 278

Canvas AwningsCanvas Awnings
View our collection of high quality and affordable Stationary Canvas Window and Door Awnings for your home or office. Custom order your awning or canopy from our available line of fabric awning colors and available sizes.

Metal AwningsMetal Awnings
Choose from our distinct line of outdoor Metal Awnings and Metal Canopies. These rigid metal window awnings and metal door canopies are ideal for enhancing exterior looks and protection from the elements.


Welcome to the Professional Awning Manufacturers Association (PAMA) Web Site – your first source for awning information. Learn about the benefits and energy savings of awnings, view awning designs, contact one of over 300 professional awning manufacturers who are PAMA members. If you are an awning company or a supplier to the industry, find out how membership benefits you by clicking on About PAMA! Enjoy your visit.

View Membership Advantage Video

Be part of the most exciting promotion ever attempted by IFAI/PAMA. Bring customers to your door by becoming a PAMA member. All PAMA members are included in the Awning Consumer Awareness Campaign. As an awning fabricator or industry supplier you can be part of this exciting initiative to educate millions of consumers about awnings and awning benefits. The campaign has already reached over 2 billion readers through publications, web sites and blogs. Join PAMA now to get in on this awning industry initiative to drive residential customers to your business, directly or through your customers. Join PAMA now.

VideosHow to Protect Your Pet from Sun & Heat

Awnings Today Awnings and Energy Savings ? Awning Benefits See how awnings help reduce energy usage, and how awnings can expand living space, protect from UV Rays and beautify the home exterior. The video features an interview with John Carmody, Director of the Center for Sustainable Building Research at the University of Minnesota, discussing the Awning Energy Study, Awnings in Residential Buildings: The Impact on Energy Use and Peak Demand.

The video also features PAMA Member, Gary Buermann of G & J Awning discussing the benefits of using awnings on the home, and some of the attractive features of modern awnings including a wide selection of fabrics and remote controls.

Buying Awnings: A Homeowner’s Purchase from Start to Finish


There you have it from the professionals


Last Post On Windows – For this meditation on home energy improvements

Windows and Doors in your residence are the fine line between Rehabilitation and New Build. To use Professional Speak, your house consists of an interior and an exterior envelop with insulation inbetween even if that insulation is only air. The whole goal of energy rehabs is to dramatically tighten both the interior and the exterior of the house and then increase the insulation where possible. This is a separate issue in a way from the energy consumption in the house itself. So when you get to the parts that move…eg windows and doors that is where the expense can climb rapidly. If you are a home owner, new windows and doors make sense BUT once you open the cavities shouldn’t you check the insulation and what about upgrading the wiring? Why not tear the whole thing down and start again? HMMMM

So if you are interested in new here are all the usual suspects:{keyword:defaulttext}:P&Branch=Champaign+Local&gclid=CMnLu5–958CFRk45wodfk3tXA&sissr=1|RPM|HS_Windows|GGL_8152


For a lot cheaper you can get low e-films that will keep the heat in during the winter and out during the summer. You have to decide how far you go.

Green Your Home for Winter: Apply Low-E Window Film

Jasmin Malik Chua, Jersey City, USA

Jasmin Malik Chua

By Jasmin Malik Chua
Jersey City, NJ, USA | Sun Mar 23, 2008 01:21 PM ET

If you haven’t socked away enough money for new, energy-efficient windows-or you’re a renter who doesn’t have the latitude to make major home improvements-consider applying one of several types of window film to your panes for instant energy savings.

A plastic film with low-emissivity (low-E) coating, which can reduce heat loss through old windows by 30 percent to 50 percent, provides a thin metallic coat the blocks off heat and ultraviolet rays. Apply the low-E film to the inside pane of your window to trap heat indoors in the winter. When the mercury begins to rise, flip the film over to the outside pane to keep the sun’s heat out of your domicile. Plus, according to Lowe’s, insulating window films will pay for themselves in less than a year in reduced utility bills.Do-it-yourself window film is available in rolls or in precut kits, but you might want to consult the professionals on very large windows. Here are some companies that manufacture energy-saving window films:

1. Bekaert

2. CP Films

3. Film Technologies

4. Madico

5. Plastic View International

[Via ::The Daily Green]

Difficulty level: Easy to moderate


My brother tried it in Las Vegas and they dropped the temperature a lot. To summarize we have covered windows and door from shutters, to new windows and doors to films and sprays for windows and doors. The final step tomorrow is to deal with awnings. Isn’t the green economy fun!