Morgan Hill Today 2014 03 Spring - Page 38

Energy Efficiency - Protecting Your Health By Pamela Garcia, CEO Affordable Solar Roofs With the continuing effort to achieve more energy efficient homes, implementing various approaches to save money on utilities, and attempts to create a more comfortable indoor environment, these “well intentioned methods” may be responsible for creating an unintended health hazard for ourselves and our families. Super “air-tight” homes with minimal ventilation and low outdoor air exchange rates can result in elevated levels of indoor air pollutants that threaten occupant health. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, indoor air quality is four to five times worse than outdoor air quality! It is important therefore, that consumers be aware of the condition of the indoor air quality in their homes. Most household materials “off-gas” toxic fumes from such sources as paint, carpeting, adhesives, furniture, cabinets, cleaning products, and a myriad of other sources. Most fumes can escape through windows, doors, attics, and numerous other spaces in the home. However, as the building’s envelope gets more and more air-tight, there are less places for the toxic chemicals to escape. Here are some helpful hints in the quest to mitigate some of these concerns: • Utilize attic fans, window fans or window air conditioners with the vent control open. • Install and operate kitchen and bathroom exhaust fans that vent outdoors (often required by code). These work well to remove contaminants localized in the kitchen and bath. • Install semi-controlled ventilation. These systems include a return duct to connect outdoor air with the central return and an exhaust fan to remove indoor pollutants. • Seal all ducts to keep unwanted toxic fumes from entering the return ducts and being circulated throughout the home. This is especially true in the basement, where paint, fertilizers and other sources of household chemicals are often stored. • Confirm the presence of balanced attic venting, both intake vents as well has outflow venting, such as ridge venting, attic fans, or other passive air vents. Most homeowners are, frankly, incapable of accurately evaluating the current condition of their indoor air quality. Therefore, contacting a certified building performance professional (BPI Analysis) from a full service energy solutions company like Affordable Solar Roofs may be the best solution available to the homeowner. (affordablesolarroofs.com) In spite of the challenges outlined here, it is possible to have your cake and eat it too. That is, creating healthy indoor air quality without sacrificing your energy efficiency goals for the home. Achieving this goal, however, requires attention to detail by a conscientious homeowner who should be aware of the energy wasters in the home, be willing to reduce energy use any way possible, and be proactive in utilizing the various ways available to maintain healthy indoor air quality. Finally, due to the continuing increases in the costs of electricity by utility companies, many astute homeowners are utilizing SOLAR energy as a means to “take control” of their energy, and save significant amounts of money. Along with the current federal and local rebates available, (30% tax credit for SOLAR is still available from the Federal government), it behooves building owners and home-owners alike to investigate solar energy as an affordable, alternative energy source. Be safe, be efficient, and be smart by protecting your home, your health, and your pocket book. 38 M O R G A N H I L L T O D A Y S P R I N G 2 0 1 4