Lynn D'Avolio
J. Barrett & Company | 801-597-2857 | lynn1@soldbylynn.com


Posted by Lynn D'Avolio on 3/12/2019

During warmer weather, you probably don’t think much about your heating bill. But when you don’t need it is the best time to make changes and upgrades to your home so that throughout winter, you can live in blissful warmth. Some changes, such as exchanging your old single-pane windows for those double or triple panes with low U-factors, or mitigating drafts, leaks, and gaps should be top of the list. But, if you really want to make a difference in your energy bill, read up on passive building principles.

Passive building concept

Using building science, the five main principles of passive building techniques give measurable, efficient use of energy. Builders joined with scientists from the US and Canada way back in the 1970s to develop the original principles using funding from the US Department of Energy and the Canadian government. In the next decade, German and other northern European scientists and builders added more information. Distilled for current use, they are:

  • Continuous insulation throughout the building’s “envelope” (the weather, air and thermal barriers).
  • Creates an airtight envelope to keep outside air from entering and conditioned air (heated or cooled) from escaping.
  • High-performance windows allow in light but mitigate temperature transference.
  • Heating and cooling systems utilize heat and moisture-recovery ventilation and “minimal-space” air conditioning.
  • Exploits the sun’s energy for light and heat but minimizes solar impact during cooling.

How it works

The exceptionally snug insulation and design strategies use the heat from appliances and the home’s occupants to keep the indoor temperatures steady through all four seasons and in each weather condition. It does this by constant mechanical filtration to keep the air quality high. This mixture of insulation and continuous low-level filtration prevents mildew and mold spores from establishing and growing inside the home.

This type of construction especially benefits allergy prone-family members or those with respiratory illnesses.

To receive passive house certification, the design must have high R-value insulation and demonstrably less (90% less) energy required for heat. Overall energy use must be 60 to 70 percent lower compared to similar-sized standard code-built homes.

Other features contributing to the passive energy savings include flat-paneled rooftop solar water heating systems that typically heat water to between 99 and 140 degrees, even in cloudy weather. Other passive homes include the use of wood heat for the coldest of winter days.

Metal roofing, especially in snow-prone areas, allows snow to slide off the roof, and utilizing covered porches and patios protects the home’s entrances from rain and snow buildup.

If you’re interested in a certified energy efficient home. Let your real estate professional know so that the houses you see fit your requirements.




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Posted by Lynn D'Avolio on 12/17/2013

Ceiling fans are an inexpensive way to help with the heating and cooling of your home. You can find many that cost under $100 and they have little ongoing cost. And for those of you who like DIY projects, this one will take you a couple of hours to upgrade an existing light fixture. While ceiling fans don’t drastically lower the temperature in a room, they do help to reduce it slightly as well as produce a light breeze which makes you feel cooler. The result? Less use of the air conditioner that results in 3-8% savings on cooling costs. Remember that in the summer months, your fan’s blades should be moving counter clockwise. In the winter months, ceiling fans can take on a whole new role. When you reverse the fan’s blades to rotate clockwise, you cause the air to circulate without causing that chilly breeze. This allows for better circulation of the warm air that naturally rises to the ceiling. It’s often best to have the fan speed set to low in the winter to avoid too much air movement and the effects of a breeze. Lastly, and maybe the most important, is the decision on which fan to purchase. There are few things to keep in mind when you are out shopping for a ceiling fan. 1. The size of the room – ceiling fans come in all sizes and choosing one that is meant for your home’s room dimension is key. It’s recommended that you choose a 40-42 inch blade span for a room 70-100 sq feet and a 42-48 inch for 100-140 sq feet. A room that’s bigger may need two small fans to be effective. 2. The location of the installation – for rooms with lower ceilings, a flush mount ceiling fan will work best, while rooms with high ceilings will need a down rod so that the fan is in the right place. You also want to make sure for areas such as an enclosed porch, that you check out the UL (Underwriters Laboratories) rating to ensure the fan has either a damp or wet rating. 3. Finally, you want to pick a fan that fits your decor and life style. Fans come in all sorts of styles and can have features from various lighting to remote controls. Changing a current light fixture in your home to a ceiling fan can saving you hundreds over the life of the fan. Especially with Energy Star rated ceiling fans available, savings can add up quick.





Posted by Lynn D'Avolio on 5/7/2013

Energy costs can really take a toll on our monthly bills. But you can take control of these costs with a few simple steps. And to help out, programs like Mass Save (Masssave.com) and www.energystar.gov will help homeowners save even more. Did you know that even when you turn off appliances, such as your TV, they still use energy? With all the electronics in your house, the energy use can really add up in a year. A quick easy way to control these costs is to get an advanced power strip, where there are multiple plugs for electronics that need to always be on (i.e. your cable box) and those that don't (i.e. you TV). The power strip will automatically turn off those electronics that are in the "don't keep on" sockets when the electronic in the "master" socket is turned off. Mass Save estimates that you can save $30 annually by using one of these on your entertainment system. Mass Save and Energy Star has a variety of other ways to save on energy from product savings (on things like light bulbs and power strips) to rebates for buying energy savings appliances. You can also get a free home energy assessment to help you get started on improving your home's energy savings. And if you are low income, there are programs to help you save on costs even more. Each state has it's own energy savings programs, so even if you aren't from Massachusetts, there are resources available to you. Be sure you contact your state's energy department to find out more about ways to save.





Posted by Lynn D'Avolio on 12/25/2012

Did you know the average family spends over $1600 a year on utility bills alone?   Here are some simple steps you can take to not only save energy but also put some money back in your pocket.

    Put your thermostat to work
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) recommends setting your air conditioner at 74 degrees and your furnace at 68 degrees. Investing in a programmable thermostat is a good idea. Set the thermostat to be warmer or colder when you are not home. Reduce the difference in temperature between the inside and the outside of the home to help save energy and money.
    Invest in energy-efficient appliances
You may notice now that washers, dryers, refrigerators, freezers, dishwashers, air conditioners, and computers now come with Energy Star labels which mean they are energy efficient.  Energy Star appliances will save you money over older appliances.
    Unplug
Computers, stereos, toasters, and other appliances draw energy even when they are turned off. A large LCD or plasma TV consumes about 400 watts of energy when in use and 4 watts when not in use.  Using a surge protector will help reduce energy costs. Plug your appliances into a surge protector and turn off the protector when appliances are not in use.
    Seal it up
A well-insulated house is a way to save money on heat and cooling costs. First, start by adding insulation to the attic floor. Next, make sure to fill in any holes in exterior walls especially where pipes come in and around windows and doors. Lastly, wrap hot water pipes with insulation.
    Slow the flow
Install low-flow fixtures to conserve water on your shower, faucets and toilets. Also remember to repair leaky faucets and toilets and turn off the water when brushing your teeth and scrubbing dishes.