Most people don’t know how easy it is to make their homes run on less energy, and here at Total Eclipse Inspections LLC, I want to change that.
Drastic reductions in heating, cooling and electricity costs can be accomplished through very simple changes, most of which homeowners can do themselves. Of course, for homeowners who want to take advantage of the most up-to-date knowledge and systems in home energy efficiency, I can give your home a Home Energy Score to find the best energy solutions for your particular home.
Why make your home more energy efficient? Here are a few good reasons:
1. Find better ways to heat and cool your house.
As much as half of the energy used in homes goes toward heating and cooling. The following are a few ways that energy bills can be reduced through adjustments to the heating and cooling systems:
Pictured above is a High Efficiency Honeywell WiFi Color Touchscreen Programmable Thermostat (Model RTH9585WF).
2. Install a tankless water heater.
Demand-type water heaters (tankless or instantaneous) provide hot water only as it is needed. They don't produce the standby energy losses associated with traditional storage water heaters, which will save on energy costs. Tankless water heaters heat water directly without the use of a storage tank. When a hot water tap is turned on, cold water travels through a pipe into the unit. A gas burner or an electric element heats the water. As a result, demand water heaters deliver a constant supply of hot water. You don't need to wait for a storage tank to fill up with enough hot water.
3. Replace incandescent lights.
The average household dedicates 11% of its energy budget to lighting. Traditional incandescent lights convert approximately only 10% of the energy they consume into light, while the rest becomes heat. The use of new lighting technologies, such as light-emitting diodes (LEDs) and compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), can reduce the energy use required by lighting by 50% to 75%. Advances in lighting controls offer further energy savings by reducing the amount of time that lights are on but not being used. Here are some facts about CFLs and LEDs:
From left to right: Incandescent bulb, LED bulb, and CFL bulb
4. Seal and insulate your home.
Sealing and insulating your home is one of the most cost-effective ways to make a home more comfortable and energy-efficient, and you can do it yourself. A tightly sealed home can improve comfort and indoor air quality while reducing utility bills. An InterNACHI energy auditor can assess leakage in the building envelope and recommend fixes that will dramatically increase comfort and energy savings.
The following are some common places where leakage may occur:
5. Install efficient showerheads and toilets.
The following systems can be installed to conserve water usage in homes:
6. Use appliances and electronics responsibly.
Appliances and electronics account for about 20% of household energy bills in a typical U.S. home. The following are tips that will reduce the required energy of electronics and appliances:
Look for this logo when you purchase electronics and appliances.
7. Install daylighting as an alternative to electrical lighting.
Daylighting is the practice of using natural light to illuminate the home's interior. It can be achieved using the following approaches:
About one-third of the home's total heat loss usually occurs through windows and doors. The following are ways to reduce energy lost through windows and doors:
9. Cook smart.
An enormous amount of energy is wasted while cooking. The following recommendations and statistics illustrate less wasteful ways of cooking:
10. Change the way you do laundry.
Homeowners who take the initiative to make these changes usually discover that the energy savings are more than worth the effort. Total Eclipse Inspections LLC can make this process much easier by performing a Home Energy Score of your home to show you exactly where you could be saving money.
According to the National Fire Protection Association,
Clothes dryers work by evaporating the water from wet clothing by blowing hot air past them while they tumble inside a spinning drum. Heat is provided by an electrical heating element or a gas burner. Some heavy loads can contain more than a gallon of water which, during the drying process, will become airborne water vapor and leave the dryer and home through an exhaust duct (more commonly known as a dryer vent).
According to the Illinois Home Inspectors Standards of Practice, home inspectors are required to check the exhaust system for the clothes dryer. The clothes dryer must vent directly to the outdoors, unless it is a vent-less dryer equipped with a condensate drain (a listed and labeled ductless condensing dryer).
A clothes dryer will vent about a gallon of water for each load of laundry. If the dryer vent discharges into a crawlspace, attic, or other building cavity, there is a ton of potential for moisture-related damage. This is why clothes dryers must vent directly to the outside.
Dryers should use approved exhaust ducts. Ducts made of vinyl, nylon or foil are not recommended. If used, they will void the warranty of most dryers. Spiral-duct designs often trap lint, which can clog the duct, requiring the dryer to work harder and longer to dry clothes and causing it to increase the dryer's temperature. Not only is a poorly exhausting dryer less efficient, it can also be a fire hazard due to the flammability of the accumulated lint. The use of PVC pipe for dryer exhaust ducts is also not allowed by modern building standards.
According to the International Residential Code (IRC) Section M1502, the clothes dryer exhaust duct should be made of metal, with No. 28-gauge thickness, a smooth interior finish, and a duct diameter of 4 inches.
Short, straight, horizontal duct runs are the most efficient. The size and maximum length of the exhaust duct shall be determined by the dryer manufacturer’s installation instructions and must comply with local building code.
One best practice is a duct length of no more than 35 feet from the connection to the transition duct to the outlet terminal (exhaust termination point). This maximum length is reduced by the types of exhaust duct fittings. The 2018 IRC M1502.4.5.1 describes those reductions.
For example, if you have a dryer duct length of 30 feet from the transition to the exterior but you have two 90-degree bends and one 45-degree bend, then your total length will be calculated to 40 feet. Unless your dryer manufacturer states that this length is permissible, this is considered an incorrect installation.
The transition duct (the visible piece of duct connecting the dryer to the wall area) can be up to 8 feet long and should be listed in accordance with UL-2158A. There are some semi-rigid metal transition duct products that are UL-listed. Transition ducts must be visible. The transition duct must not be concealed within construction.
A good technique is to restrict the dryer exhaust duct from passing through an attached garage. Ducts in the garage or penetrating the walls or ceilings separating the dwelling from the garage must be constructed of minimum No. 26-gauge sheet steel or other approved material, having no openings into the garage.
The duct should be secured in place and supported at minimum of every 12 feet. The best practice recommends supports installed at 4-foot intervals. Sags in the duct must be avoided.
The exhaust duct should terminate outside the building at least 3 feet from any building opening, and at least 10 feet from an air conditioner or heat pump condenser. The duct termination should be fitted with a close-able gravity or automatic damper (a back-draft damper). A screen may not be installed at the place of termination, as it can trap debris, which poses a fire hazard.
The leading cause of fires from clothes dryers is the failure to clean the lint and other debris that can accumulate in and around them. Home owners should always:
Dryers are found in nearly every home and like every other appliance or system in the home, they need to be maintained regularly. As you've seen above, they can be a fire hazard if not properly maintained.
In general, a home inspector will not know specific manufacturer’s recommendations or local applicable codes and will not be able to confirm the dryer vent's compliance to them, but they will be able to point out issues that may need to be corrected.
Buying a home? The process can be stressful. A home inspection is supposed to give you peace of mind, but sometimes it does the opposite. You are asked to absorb a lot of information in a short amount of time. This often includes a written report, photographs, and what the inspector says during the inspection. All this of this makes the experience even more overwhelming. What should you do?
RELAX! Most of your inspection will be maintenance recommendations, life expectancies for various components, and minor imperfections. These are useful to know about, however, the issues that really matter fall into four categories:
1. Major defects- Such as a structural failure
2. Things that lead to major defects- Such as a small roof flashing leak for example
3. Things that may hinder your ability to finance, legally occupy, or insure the home (mold, termites)
4. Safety hazards- Such as exposed, live wires in the attic
Anything in these categories should be addressed. Often, serious problems can be corrected inexpensively (especially in categories 2 and 4)
No home is perfect. Keep things in perspective. Do not kill your deal over things that don't matter!
Selling your home? For sellers, an inspection of your home can be a reminder of all those issues you've been conveniently been forgetting about all those years. An inspection can be just as terrifying for the sellers too. However, there are a few things you can do to make it go much smoother.
1. Pets- Make sure your pets won't hinder the inspection. Inspectors are going in and out multiple times during the inspection and we would hate for Fluffy to accidentally sneak out. Putting your dog in the back yard isn't a good idea either. Even if the inspector likes pets, having to worry about them during the inspection can be a hindrance.
2. General Maintenance- This should almost go without saying. After all, you are trying to sell your house right?! A few ideas would be to replace any burned out or missing light bulbs, and to change out your furnace filter (the inspector will most certainly know if you didn't).
3. Clear the Path- Remove items blocking access to HVAC equipment, electrical service panels, the water heater, attic and crawlspace. If these components are blocked or inaccessible, the inspector might have to disclaim these components and the buyer won't have any idea if they are safe, working right, or installed properly if they can't be inspected.
4. Trim Tree Limbs- They should be trimmed so that they're at least 10 feet away from the roof. Trim any shrubs that are too close to the house and can hides pests or hold moisture against the exterior.
Checking these areas before your home inspection is an investment in selling your property. Better yet, have your InterNACHI inspector ensure that your home is Move-In Certified (ask me how!). Your real estate agent will also thank you!