Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Clearing The Air About Ventilation

As Winter rolls in, homeowners change a lot of their habits. Unfortunately, a lot of our wintertime habits
affect our home’s air quality – and not in a good way.

Proper ventilation is key for optimal
indoor air quality, comfort and

To save on energy costs, you probably keep your doors and windows closed in the winter. Instead of our summertime screen doors and windows, air is trapped in our houses, recycled over and over.  

You may also lower your thermostat to save money, and run space heaters in select rooms/areas to then improve spot-specific comfort.  A logical approach on the surface, but with the risk of unintentional, negative consequences (and likely won't result in the savings you think).

For ambiance or for heating, you may use a wood-burning fireplace. As you can imagine, the smoke and pollutants in the wood are now released into your home – wrecking havoc on your air quality.

Even something as innocent as a humidifier can be adding to the problem. Adding too much moisture to your home’s air can make linens, draperies, or even your clothes attractive to mold.

You home's ventilation mechanisms are probably not something you think about often, but they are so fundamentally important to the overall efficiency, comfort and air quality of your home.  Proper ventilation is always important, but even more so in the winter given how closed up most homes become, for an extended period of time.  Without the proper ventilation, these seemingly innocent wintertime habits can cause your home and family harm. The fact is, the average American now spends 90% of their time breathing indoor air, which is 2 to 5 more times polluted than outdoor air.

Ventilation is one of the more confusing subjects for homeowners, so we've produced a brief, educational video to provide you with insights on ventilation basics.  Check it out on the Pro Energy Consultants YouTube Channel.

 Learn what it takes to make your home a safe and healthy environment for you and your family!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Winter Will Be 18% Colder, More Costly

The U.S. Energy Information Administration has released it's short term Energy & Winter Fuels Outlook, and be prepared....this winter is forecasted to be 18% colder.  If temperatures stay as forecasted, the average homeowner should anticipate an increase of anywhere from 5-19% in their heating bills over last year (depending on heating type).

This will really give you the chills though:  If temperatures are 10 degrees colder than the forecast, that range jumps to an 11-32% anticipated increase.

NOW is the time to prep your home for winter - not when you're cold in your house with a high energy bill in your hand!

Let's talk about that thermostat for a minute first.  All the conventional information will tell you to drop your house temperature to 68 degrees or less to save money, varying the settings between when you are away, when you are home, and when you're sleeping..  And sure, if you do that, you will lower your energy bills.

However, I can tell you that our thermostat never goes that low - we're simply not comfortable at those temperatures, especially our 22 month old.  In my view, you need to save money but you also need to enjoy your living space.  Wearing 3 layers and being wrapped in blankets for 3+ months just isn't our idea of enjoyment.

(What I really get a kick out of is hearing that some of my friends set their thermostats low....and then run space heaters everywhere!)

Here's the big message - it doesn't have to be an either/or scenario.  You CAN lower your energy bills AND be more comfortable in your home - IF you know what to fix, and where.

Common areas of home air leaks.
It makes far more sense to spend about $400 (depending on the size of your home) to know exactly what energy-saving and comfort-maximizing improvements you should invest in - instead of sending extra money to the utility company.  At the same time, you'll also boost the resale value of your home (per a recent report, wanting a more Eco-conscious home is now one of the top 5 reasons people decide to move).

Most people are pleasantly surprised to learn that the improvements they really need are not that expensive.  For example, the national average for air sealing is only about $1,400.  Now that's not necessarily peanuts, but it's certainly cheaper than buying new windows or a HVAC system, or continuing to pay high energy bills year after year.

Like it or not, winter is on it's way  - and an ounce of prevention can save you $$$$ this heating season!