Snow, Snow, and more Snow!

Well it has been an eventful 2 weeks if you are into weather! New Englanders have been blasted by almost 6 feet of snow, and more is on the way! This time of year causes lots of headaches for homeowners. Not only are we forced to stay indoors and off the roads, but our homes take the brunt of the weather! Between increased fuel costs and wear and tear, you could be spending more on operating your home than you have to. One of the first places to evaluate your home’s heat loss can be seen from outside your home.

Take a look at your roof, first off, how much snow is up there? If your answer is practically none, you may have a problem. Now look further down, look towards your soffit / gutters, do you see ice dams? What is an ice dam?

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Even if your home’s attic has adequate insulation, you are still susceptible to ice dams. In your home, you have pathways that air travels. The first rule of thermo-dynamics is that high pressure, (heated), air will move to lower pressure, (cold), air, and just like electricity, it takes the paths of least resistance. In your home you have a network of pathways call top plates. This is where the partition and exterior walls meet the ceiling. Another common pathway is your attic access, whether its a door, a hatch or a pull down stair apparatus. Just about anything that compromises the integrity of the ceiling is going to give warm air egress to the colder air in your attic.

The warm air that infiltrates your attic, heats up the roof deck, melting the snow from underneath. That melted snow water runs down to your gutter system, which is located on your soffit. This area is typically the same temperature as the outside air, with no heated air below it, the water turns back into ice. Once that happens, the process continues on the roof deck, and once that water can’t flow down the gutters, it sits there, trying to find a way through your roof.

The best way to combat this destructive process is to stop the warm air from infiltrating the attic, and to do that, you need to air seal. Once you block the warm air pathways, the attic stays colder, which means the snow doesn’t melt as fast and you won’t be left with you house looking like this:

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What Is The Black Stuff On My Roof? Let’s Talk About Moisture

This is the time of year that defines what spring and summertime will bring to your roof. We enter many attics and one thing we see and get asked about on a regular basis is “what is the black stuff on the inside of my roof?”. The answer is not that cut and dry, it could be from something as simple as an un-vented bathroom vent fan. Bathroom fans and dryer vents can generate a lot of moisture. They should always be vented directly up and out through the roof. Often times builders or do it your-selfer’s will discharge fans or dryer discharges directly into the attic, greatly increasing the overall humidity. Do-it-your-selfer’s often try to connect more than one fan into a discharge and will commonly run the discharge out to the eves or soffit rather than straight up and out through the roof. The remedy is simple, one fan, one roof vent, vertically up through the roof overhead. On the outside the vent has a hat and is not a risk for water leaks. Remember, the soffit vents are air intakes. Venting a bathroom or dryer through a soffit vent will allow some of the moist air to get drawn right back into the attic.

Other times, it can just be from a large amount of heated, warm air reaching the attic. During the winter months when we heat our homes, some of the heat is inevitably lost into the un-heated attic space. This warm heated air should move upward towards the attic ridge vent and harmlessly dissipate outside the attic, but only if the attic is properly vented. If however, the attic is poorly vented, the warm trapped air will start to condense on the cold surface of the underside of the roofing boards or sheathing. This warm air meeting a very cold surface results in a dew-point being achieved. This dew-point created condensation is often more noticeable on the roofing nails as the nails are more efficient at conducting the cold temperature from outside. The condensation on the roofing nails then forms water droplets which can drip onto the floor of the attic. When the night-time temperature is cold enough the nail heads will start to frost up.

Perhaps your home has a network of ducts supplying heat, running through the attic space. If those ducts are under-insulated or un-sealed, moisture production can be a problem inside of the network. If left un-checked, the ducts can start to leak at their seams and water damage is likely to happen in both the ducts and the heating system.

The skinny of this is, water is the most destructive substance known to man, we have to work and come up with systems to remove the potential moisture from our homes before its too late! One of the best ways to eliminate the convective process is to have the attic professionally air sealed and insulated properly. We provided FREE Home Assessments and would love to take a look at your attic and come up with the best plan to correct or prevent warm air infiltration of your attic! OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Attic Ceiling Mold With Frosted Nails in the Winter

National Grid raised rates by 37% in 2014; N-Star will be going up 27% in 2015… Here is what you can do!

“If your all done in the bathroom, shut off the light!” I’m sure we have heard something like this in our childhood, and with the recent hikes in electric bills, I’m sure we can all relate to our parents nagging. If you own a home in Massachusetts and want to off set these spikes in service, you should consider looking into some Solar programs for 2015. The DOER, (Department of Energy & Resources), is currently developing a residential solar loan program. The goal of the program is to reduce barriers for Massachusetts residents to directly own solar projects by facilitating access to loans by local banks. Another avenue to explore is the “Solar Lease”, with the state of Massachusetts allowing solar leases, there has been an emergence of homeowners who have gone solar. The cost of installing solar panels on a home is prohibitive with an average cost of over $15,000 for a brand new installation. But through a solar lease, the cost of installation of these solar collectors for a homeowner can be as low as $1,000 and in some instances, nothing at all. But according to the companies involved in the leasing, homeowners can recoup the initial cost of installation through the electricity savings within a seven-year period. They will also save more money by locking in the rate they pay on the electricity generated by the solar panels.

For homeowners in this state who want a solar lease, the steps are simple. A homeowner will call any one of the companies who offer solar leasing to assess the home and install the panels. The homeowner will then be charged a one-time upfront installation fee of approximately $1,000 (may vary depending on installer). The homeowner will then be charged a 20-year locked-in rate (with small allowances for inflation) for the amount of energy that the panels generate which, according to solar lease companies is considerably less than what utilities are. If the homeowner uses up energy that exceeds the amount then the utility is paid at those rates.

Throughout the 20-year solar lease, the homeowner does not have to worry about the upkeep of the panels. If any of the panels break, then they are replaced by the company at no extra charge. Since the solar leasing company owns the panels, they get the clean energy subsidies from the state. However, the homeowner does not have to worry about the details for the panels such as connecting them to the electric grid.

But how much is a typical homeowner saving exactly? Here is an example: a home that is obtaining 75% of its electricity from solar panels has a monthly solar payment of $75. If you add this to a remaining $50 for an electric bill for a total payment of $125. If the same home was getting all its electricity from utilities this would amount to $200. But it is also important to take into consideration that the cost of electricity in the state of Massachusetts increases by five percent annually.

When it comes to solar panels, there are certain factors that a homeowner must also consider. The most obvious being is the amount of sun on their property. The best place to install solar panels is on the south-facing roof where it gets direct sun. Another factor is that in the future, the price of solar panels will only decrease. Another factor to consider is if the homeowner wants to move and sell their home. He or she has three options. They can transfer their solar lease to the new homeowner, purchase the solar panels or buy out the contract. If you want a simple way to see if any of the above Massachusetts solar installers service your area with a solar lease, Solar Massachusetts can put you directly in touch with these and other reputable and professional Massachusetts solar installers who can help you go solar easily and economically.solar-energysolar install

Goodbye 2014… 2015 Get Ready!

With 2014 coming to a close, we just want to remind everyone of the new standards and codes that will be going into effect in 2015. For our Rhode Island friends and customers that are building a new house, this means you! More and more cities and towns are adopting ASHRAE, (American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air Conditioning Engineers), 62.2 standards and in that vein, new construction dwellings will need an Air Change Per Hour and Blower Door Test conducted BEFORE you will be issued an occupancy permit!

Why is this important? Well, Air Exchanges per hour, (or ACH), is a measure of the air volume added to or removed from a space (normally a room or house) divided by the volume of the space. If the air in the space is either uniform or perfectly mixed, air changes per hour is a measure of how many times the air within a defined space is replaced. So how does this effect your new home? Well because of the changes in ASHRAE 62.2, home builders must incorporate air sealing measures into the construction of your home. That means that the new homes are “tighter” than previous homes. So in order to measure this tightness, a blower door test must be conducted. This test de-pressurizes the home, pulling out the existing air and pulling in replacement air. If the home is too tight, make up air will need to be introduced. This is achieved with either an Energy Recovery Ventilator or a plain old ventilator may be needed to introduce outside air.

So as you can imagine, this can be very confusing for contractors and building inspectors alike, her at Alternative Weatherization, we offer solutions for getting these test performed and getting you the certificate you will need to pass and get on with your project, give us a call or email us, we are available most weekdays and some weekends to come out and get this done!

Air Changes Per Hour

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Happy Holidays from Alternative Weatherization

With the beginning of the winter season upon us, we want to thank all of the agencies and customers who helped make Alternative Weatherization have a record breaking year! We have grown leaps and bounds and its a testament to our commitment to excellence. We have just moved from our location on Stafford Road to a new, larger facility on Lark Street, we have added many new and exciting team members and 2015 is looking like it will be another record breaking year! We are the best weatherization company in Massachusetts and our customers have told us so! Here is to a new year, and new beginning’s! Desktop Wallpaper

Let’s Talk About Our Future!

So most of us in the Northeast are just getting our new Electrical Bill for last month. I’m sure many National Grid customers are noticing the 37% increase in their bill. This raise in cost of electricity is widespread throughout the country, as older, antiquated generation sites are going off line, the existing plants must work around the clock to make up the deficit. As you can imagine, this added strain on the remaining plants is the root of price increase, but it goes much deeper! Electricity is being sold and traded as a commodity, (similar to oil futures), so becoming less of a burden on the grid and maximizing all generation / collection has become priority one. Hydro, Wind, & Solar are the best options to help bolster the existing demand, and it has some great repercussions, in both the environment and the economy.

If the electricity grid were just 5% more efficient, the greenhouse gas reduction would be equivalent to removing 53 MILLION CARS. We need an #energy network that prepares us for the future—one that is flexible, responsive and resilient. #SmartGrid

LEARN MORE: http://poweroverenergy.org/transmission/

CLEAN COMPARISON: How many jobs can a $1M investment create?

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Blower Door Testing & Air Changes Per Hour

If you are building a new home or any new construction project, you may be asked to provide a certificate with blower door testing and air changes per hour BEFORE the city or town will give you the occupancy permit. This may be more difficult than you think, in many instances, the building departments of your cities and towns, although requiring these tests, have no resources for you to get them.

That’s where Alternative Weatherization can help. We are BPI Certified and are qualified to give you a certificate of Blower Door Testing and Air Changes Per Hour. If you find yourself or someone you know in need of this, please contact us, we can usually accommodate same day requests.

These tests are something we do on a regular basis in renovating and insulating peoples homes, but many inspectors are now enforcing these measures for new construction. Although this may seam more of a nuisance, it really is a good thing to do. Building codes have changed, and the way builders assemble homes is more energy conscious than ever before. Because of this, the home is air sealed and insulated by the builder. Most home builders are qualified to install these measures, but not really concerned with the consequences and repercussions. Let Alternative Weatherization help you, and get your home passed and occupied!Blower Door

The Solutions Project – A Trend For the Future

Last week, Tim and I were invited to sit in at a symposium on Energy at Bristol Community College. One of the topics that came up was the rising tide of renewable energy sources and their foot print today. We were presented with a new initiative, “The Solutions Project: Massachusetts”. This is a group of forward thinking people who see the current energy generation and creation and are trying to shift to a cleaner, greener solution. The project wants to transition from existing fossil fuel methods to 100% wind, water and solar for all purposes, (electricity, transportation, heating/cooling, industrial).

They present a 2050 projected Energy Mix of:

3.9% Residential Rooftop PV
22.5% Solar PV Plants
0% CSP Plants (Coal)
13% Onshore Wind
55% Offshore Wind
3.3% Commercial Rooftop PV
1% Wave Devices
0% Geothermal
1.2% Hydroelectric
0.1% Tidal Turbines

What this shows is that using Wind, Water, and Solar electricity for everything, instead of burning fuel, and improving energy efficiency means you need much less energy.

Not only does this model help to reduce the burden on our geological assets, but it will bolster the economy. It is estimated that an energy model like this would allow for 61,400 40-Year Construction Jobs and 42,800 40-Year Operation Jobs, (40-Year Job is where a person is employed for 40 consecutive years).

Other benefits presented are better air & water quality which in turn accounts for avoided heath costs per year. Based on their findings, the plan pays for itself in as little as 11 years from air pollution and climate cost savings alone. They estimate the annual avoided heath costs could be in the neighborhood of $8.5 Billion… BILLION! The average annual energy, health and climate cost savings per person in 2050 is $4,400. Not to mention the savings to Massachusetts residents in their Energy costs. Based on the current mix, in 2050 we will see an average of 14.9 cents per Kilowatt Hour. With a Wind, Water, and Solar model we can see an average of 7.4 cents per Kilowatt Hour. The average annual energy cost savings per person in 2050 would be in the neighborhood of $2,100.

Alternative Weatherization is always trying to stay at the forefront of energy conservation and efficiency, and its in this vein that we are building partnerships with like minded entities who work in the Green Energy field, we want to see the evolution towards a self sustaining energy platform, and reduce the impact our energy generation and usage has on our planet. This is just one example of what our future could hold, we encourage and support any Green Initiative that can help to move us forward!

If you want to get involved, please visit thesolutionsproject.org, and if you already are involved and want to talk about partnerships, please email us: alternativeweatherization@gmail.com

Rule Your Attic!

Check out a quick, helpful video from our friends over at Energy Star! If you own a home, it is in your best interest to check out what is happening up in your attic.

Contact us today for a FREE in home consultation, (we’ll go into the attic and handle this for you!), winter is coming and now is the time to get your home ready! You winterize your car for the cold weather, lets do the same for your home! Set up an appointment today!

The ACI New England Energy Efficiency Conference, Springfield MA

It was great to see everyone from the Energy Efficiency community, catching up and swapping war stories. We made some great connections and laid the ground work on relationships that are sure to help elevate everyone at Alternative Weatherization and our customers alike. There were so many great seminars and knowledgeable people, it really great to see the companies and programs come together to move energy efficiency forward. We spent a lot of time with vendors, exploring new tools and techniques that are sure to make an impact and help to move energy efficiency into the future.

Always Prepared!

Always Prepared!

The Home Performance Coalition brought together a great group of speakers, and all of us at Alternative Weatherization would like to thank the sponsors: Mass Save; Building Performance Institute, Inc. (BPI); National Grid; Northeast Utilities; EnergySavvy; Columbia Gas of Massachusetts; Next Step Living; RISE Engineering; Home Energy Magazine; Environmental Business Council of New England; Homebuilders & Remodelers Association of Western Massachusetts; NECEC; NESEA

At Alternative Weatherization, we pride ourselves on staying up to date on the pulse of the Home Performance World. Professional and educated are the pillars to our weatherization and home improvement background, we stay at the forefront of training our employees. Events like these help us to really get what works and get it implemented to our team!

Our Company President putting the Accu1 9300 through the ringer! Our Company President putting the Accu1 9300 through the ringer!

The theme of the conference was all about bringing everything together. The programs, (MassSave, EnergyWise, WAP), are trying to navigate the pulse in 2014. Solar is coming on strong, and its repercussions are being felt all over, along with the weatherization side of things, we can help to bring it all together. The time is never been better to explore your options and find out what’s coming down the road! Give us a call and set up a time for me to sit down and analyze your bills and find out how we can make your home as efficient at possible!