Saturday, January 30, 2010

Energy Efficient Homes 1

BONUS COVERAGE!!! Energy Efficient Homes. From time-2-time here on the Journal Blog expanded topics shall be covered relating to living-at-home not only for seniors, but germane to everyone. This is one of those.

In his SOTU address Obama made reference to the need for energy effieicint homes. However it might seem, this is NOT a new subject. This issue really came to the forefront back during the Arab Oil Embargo in the 70s. The prevailing thought became, OMG, we're not going to have sufficient energy producing sources for the future. Sell the Winabago!!! Buy a compact car (horse!!). How are we going to heat buildings/houses??? Conserve!!! Conserve!!!

Passive heating and energy efficient home construction became the "talk" and the "way of the future." Super insulated homes, upgraded window and door protection, need heat pumbs and wood burning area heaters, seal-up those air-drafts!!! Gonna have to have smaller homes!!!!!.......AHHH;

What's that....what happened?????

Now it's GREEN!!!! Different?? I think not. Will this "now fad" have any legs???? Remains to be seen. But perhaps. Now it's not just dollars (supply/demand)'s not just some country(s) turning off the tap, but the world dimishing resource and its insatiable demand.

I guess energy efficiency is like men's ties and suit-coats; keep 'em long enought...back in favor!!!

HOWEVER... I believed in the 70s ideas for conservation re homes then; designed and built that way, and have never departed from it. Has alway just seemed common sence to me even tho I have often been viewed as having fallen out of touch.....Even professed how to design effective smaller home way before Ms Susanka wrote her book.......Yup, guess I'm like those ties!!!

But; with Obama's comments, what ever reality is about energy efficient homes, one thing is certain......the window/door and solar products people are really gonna be singing their songs!!!!

Suffice it for now just to mention solar, shall deal w/this topic in later journal, but windows....yes. Windows are the number one culprit for consideration regarding energy efficiency. More heat/cold is exchanged through windows than any other element. And, of course, the bigger they are, more you have, the worse it gets.

But there are several other Energy Efficient elements to consider. Number two is insulation....or lack thereof!! Most homes esp here in S.Cal., built prior to the 80s do not have enough of this vital component. Homes built prior to the 70s may very well have none at all.

It is difficult and expensive to add insulation to exterior walls, however, again here in SoCal, the cost to install does not warrent the gain. Much like a person wearing a hat to counter heat/cold, same applies to your home.....the attic. An R-30 rated insulation protection is a min to have...w/R-36 being the best cost/benefit. Whether to add bats or blown-in, in part depends on how much clearance there is up there. What type: fiberglass, foam, cellulose and how best to install it, probably depends on which sales person you are talking to!!!!

While we are in the attic....there is another component worthy of mention:Radiant Barrier Foil. Don't over look its benefits. It helps dramatically in reflecting the sun's impact into the attic. If it can be installed w/o to much dificulty it is worth it.

For numbers 3...4..etc.....STAY TUNED IN!!!!!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Study & Planning Part I

Ok, then. What is SIGNIFICANT study and planning?
Well; significant means important, of consequence..and herein, esp. the "of consequence". The normal life-function of ageing brings on several issues "of consequence" (an effect/result) from "minor" to "major", not withstanding crisis issues i.e.; heart attack, stroke,etc.

Part I: Let's start with the "minor"; such as changing eyesight, hearing, and mobility, all which impact your living at home. One needs to study lighting, natural and artifical; sound and noise transmission; mobility, ingress/egress, doorways, stairs, hallways.

Lighting:  As we age there is a corresponding necessity for more/better lighting. The "visual" ability must be enhanced. Elements such as size, placement of windows (natural light) and lighting fixtures (artificial) which at one point in time seemed sufficient; now become inadequate. Determinations must be made to the best efficient/effective way to make adjustments. Most cases, it's a combination of both components.

Kitchens, baths, reading areas must be reviewed in terms of TASK (focused) lighting. Ambient lighting requirements are also important. The ability to "see" and move safelyy throughout your home, esp. hallways and stairs.

Hearing:  Phones, smoke detectors, doorbells; even the base "accoustical footprint" (speaking, sound, noise) shall require mitigations/enhancements.

Mobility:  The natural ageing process changes one's dexterity. More space is nescssary in which to maneuver.   Balance will increasingly be a concern.  Geting "up-down" and bending over become aggravating if not troublesome

And what about ARTHRITIS??  We're not talking about that difficulty in opening fruit jars (do these still exist!!) nor twist-off beverage caps.  Rotation of door knobs, fumbling for toggle light switches, opening cabinet doors, getting things off shelves...these are what come into play, just to mention a few.

These "issues" should be addressed during the "Boomer" - not wait until the "Golden" years. Besides, adapting your home for these adds greatly to your useability and comfort.

These issues, as all, are best addressed in combinations of solutions; not items addressed separately.  Everything starts w/a "situatiion analysis" of your existing conditions.

Another component of SIGNIFICANT study and planning is HEREDITY.
No, not the "if your parents didn't have kids you prob. won't have either" bit; but the genetic characteristics of your family history.  Specifically, concerns for health conditions.  How did their health effect their living.  Are there chances you may follow similarly.  What changes, modifications to your home would then be necessary to age-at-home.

As I shall say over-over:  don't wait until a crisis happens before doing prepared.  My grandmother used to say ...a few ounces of fore-thought are worth pounds and pounds of cure.