Examples of Thanksgiving Day Fires

Part 5 of Thanksgiving Day Fires in the United States. The following are recent examples of Thanksgiving Day fires in residential buildings reported by the media: Thanksgiving Day 2009: An early morning chimney fire destroyed a home in Magnolia, TX, when a small fire was left burning in the fireplace after the occupants went to […]

Time, Causes and Extent of Thanksgiving Day Fires

Part 3 of Thanksgiving Day Fires in the United States. When Thanksgiving Day Fires in Residential Buildings Occur As shown in Figure 1, Thanksgiving Day fires in residential buildings occur most frequently in the afternoon hours from 12 to 4 p.m., peaking from noon to 1 p.m., when many are expected to be preparing Thanksgiving […]

Summary: Thanksgiving Day Fires in the United States

Part 1 of Thanksgiving Day Fires in the United States. In the years 2006 to 2008, an estimated 4,300 Thanksgiving Day fires occurred annually in the United States, causing 10 deaths, 50 injuries, and $30 million in property loss. Of these Thanksgiving Day fires, an estimated 2,000 fires occurred in residential buildings resulting in an […]

Global Climate Scenario: Abruptly Changing Climates

Part 10 of United States Climate Change Impact. Not all changes in the climate are gradual. There is the possibility of greater changes in climate than current scenarios and models project. The long record of climate found in ice cores, tree rings, and other natural records show that Earth’s climate patterns have undergone rapid shifts […]

Weatherize Your Home: Caulking

Part 2 of Weatherize Your Home. Selection You can use a caulking compound to seal leaks in a variety of places throughout your home, including around windows and door frames. In addition to plugging air leaks, caulking can also prevent water damage inside and outside of the home when applied around faucets, ceiling fixtures, water […]

Window Options for Passive Solar Power

Most of us are aware that windows provide us with natural light, ventilation, and a view. But windows still remain the least understood building design component, even though many homeowners place much importance on the functioning and energy efficiency of their windows. Windows transmit not only sunlight but also both indoor heat and solar heat […]

Passive Solar Design, Options, and Cost

A passive solar home is an exceptional home, differing from standard construction in the thermal integrity of its shell and its well-considered design. The design options, employing the principles and methods described here, are endless. However, workmanship is always extremely important when installing insulation, air sealing the building envelope, and installing the windows. Most successful […]

Five Elements of Passive Solar Design

Here are the five elements that constitute a complete passive solar design, using a direct gain design as an example. Each performs a separate function, but all five must work together for the system to be successful. Aperture (Collector): the large glass (window) area through which sunlight enters the building. Typically, the aperture(s) should face […]

Basic Passive Solar Design Techniques

Passive solar homes range from those heated almost entirely by the sun to those with south facing windows that provide some fraction of the heating load. The difference between a passive solar home and a conventional home is design. And the key is designing a passive solar home to best take advantage of the local […]

The Physics of Heat Movement

Part 1 of Passive Solar Design for the Home. Your home’s windows, walls, and floors can be designed to collect, store, and distribute solar energy in the form of heat in the winter and reject solar heat in the summer. This is called passive solar design or climatic design because, unlike active solar heating systems, […]

How Air Conditioners Work

The fluid that collects heat at the evaporator and releases it at the condenser is called refrigerant. Apump, called the compressor, forces the refrigerant through the circuit of tubing and fins in the coils. Air moves through the tiny spaces between the fins and is cooled by the refrigerant in the coils. Air conditioners employ […]

Today’s Alternative Fuel Choices: Hydrogen

Part 9 of Advanced Technology and Alternative Fuel Vehicles. Hydrogen is a simple, abundant element found in organic matter, notably in the hydrocarbons that make up many of our fuels, such as gasoline, natural gas, methanol, and propane. As an energy carrier like electricity (not an energy source), it must be manufactured. Hydrogen can be […]

Why Drive an Advanced or Alternative Fuel Vehicle?

Part 1 of Advanced Technology and Alternative Fuel Vehicles. Transportation accounts for more than 67% of oil consumption in the USA-more than it produces. Today, our country imports more than 54 percent of its oil, and suggested that this could increase to 75% by 2010. According to the U.S. Federal Highway Administration, the average vehicle […]

Types of Air-Source Heat Pumps

Part 2 of Air-Source Heat Pumps. A split-system heat pump heating cycle You can use a central heat pump to heat and cool a whole house. Most central heat pumps are split-systems—that is, they each have one coil indoors and one outdoors (see Fig. 1 below). Supply and return ducts connect to a central fan, […]

Using Off-Peak Power to Heat Water

Part 4 of Energy-Efficient Water Heating. Most consumers use more hot water in the evenings and mornings than at other times of the day. For those who have an electric water heater, this usage contributes to the electric utility company’s “peak load,” or the largest amount of power demand that they have to meet on […]

Zero Energy Community, Vista Monta

Part 1 of Zero Energy Community. Vista Montaña In August 2003, Clarum Homes opened the doors at Vista Montaña, California’s largest Zero Energy Home community, with homes designed to use almost zero net electricity over the course of a year. Built on a former apple orchard, all homes in the development will harvest the sun to […]

Who sells and installs photovoltaic systems?

Part 9 of Get Your Power from the Sun. In some areas, finding a photovoltaic provider can be as simple as picking up the telephone directory and looking under “Solar Energy Equipment and Systems—Dealers.” However, many of the listings are solar water-heating companies and many companies might not be experienced in photovoltaic system design or […]

Building and Buying

Part 7 of Elements of an Energy-Efficient House. Before you start a home-building project, the building site and its climate should be carefully evaluated to determine the optimum design and orientation for the house. There are energy-related computer software programs that can help with these evaluations. The design should accommodate appropriate insulation levels, moisture dynamics, […]

Controlled Ventilation

Part 3 of Elements of an Energy-Efficient House. Since an energy-efficient house is tightly sealed, it needs to be ventilated in a controlled manner. Controlled, mechanical ventilation prevents health risks from indoor air pollution, promotes a more comfortable atmosphere, and reduces air moisture infiltration, thus reducing the likelihood of structural damage. Furnaces, water heaters, clothes […]

How can we save energy?

Part 3 of Learn About Saving Energy. It is important to save energy because most of the energy we use comes from fossil fuels. If we use up all our fossil fuels, there will not be any left for people to use in the future. It would be impossible to stop using energy. But we […]

Demand Water Heaters

Part 3 of Selecting a New Water Heater. It is possible to completely eliminate standby heat losses from the tank and reduce energy consumption 20% to 30% with demand (or instantaneous) water heaters, which do not have storage tanks. Cold water travels through a pipe into the unit, and either a gas burner or an […]

Additional Options for Reducing Heat Loss and Gain through Windows

Part 4 of Energy-Efficient Windows. Movable insulation, such as insulating shades, shutters, and drapes, can be applied on the inside of windows to reduce heat loss in the winter and heat gain in the summer. Shading devices, such as awnings, exterior shutters, or screens, can be used to reduce unwanted heat gain in the summer. […]

Save Energy and Money at Home

Part 1 of Ways to Save Money on Energy at Home. Did you know that the typical U.S. family spends close to $2,100 (2008 dollars) a year on their home’s utility bills? Alas, a significant portion of that energy is wasted. The amount of energy wasted just through poorly insulated windows and doors is about as much […]

Construction Considerations: Earth-Sheltered Houses

Part 4 of Earth Sheltered Houses. The climate in your geographical area will determine whether an earth-sheltered house can be a practical housing solution. Studies show that earth-sheltered houses are more cost-effective in climates that have significant temperature extremes and low humidity, such as the Rocky Mountains and northern Great Plains. Earth temperatures vary much […]

Thermostats with Automatic Temperature Adjustment

Part 2 of Automatic and Programmable Thermostats. To maximize your energy savings without sacrificing comfort, you can install an automatic setback or programmable thermostat. They adjust the temperature setting for you. While you might forget to turn down the heat before you leave for work in the morning, a programmable thermostat won’t! By maintaining the […]

Options that Increase Window Efficiency

Part 2 of Advances in Glazing Materials for Windows. Manufacturers usually represent the energy efficiency of windows in terms of their U-values (conductance of heat) or their R-values (resistance to heat flow). If a window’s R-value is high, it will lose less heat than one with a lower R-value. Conversely, if a window’s U-value is […]

Advances in Glazing Materials for Windows

Part 1 of Advances in Glazing Materials for Windows. Until recently, clear glass was the primary glazing material used in windows. Although glass is durable and allows a high percentage of sunlight to enter buildings, it has very little resistance to heat flow. During the past two decades, though, glazing technology has changed greatly. Research […]

Do I need a conventional system as a backup?

Part 11 of Heat Your Water With The Sun. Whether you need a backup system for your solar thermal system depends largely on the type of system you choose and where you live. Solar water-heating systems almost always require a backup system for cloudy days and times of increased demand. This backup system is typically a […]

How much money will my solar thermal system save, and how much will it cost?

Part 5 of Heat Your Water With The Sun. Your savings depend on how your solar system will be used, as well as the size and type of your system. Other factors can include the climate, the contractor, and the system rating. Your state may offer solar rebates or other incentives that will reduce costs. […]

Investing in Solar Thermal Technologies

Part 3 of Heat Your Water With The Sun. Why should I invest in a solar thermal system? The first question many people ask when considering a home expense is, “How much will it cost?” The answer depends on the type of system, how you want to use it (water or pool heating, for example), […]

Background: Heat Your Water With The Sun

Part 2 of Heat Your Water With The Sun. What is solar heating? Solar heaters, or solar thermal systems, provide environmentally friendly heat for household water, space heating, and swimming pools. The systems collect the sun’s energy to heat air or a fluid. The air or fluid then transfers solar heat directly or indirectly to […]

Manage Your Home’s Ventilation

Part 7 of Cooling Your Home Naturally with Fans and Ventilation. Remember the following if you plan to cool your home with ventilation: Learn how air flows naturally through your house. Take advantage of cool night air, and ventilate your home by natural or mechanical methods. Keep a clear path for airflow both inside and […]

Weatherization Projects

Part 4 of A Guide to Making Energy-Smart Purchases. Weatherization projects insulate and tighten the shell of the home. Such projects include, but are not restricted to, caulking and weatherstripping, improving or replacing windows, and installing insulation. Caulking and Weatherstripping Caulking and weatherstripping are the easiest and least expensive weatherization measures and can save more […]

Blocking the Heat

Part 3 of Cool Your Home Naturally. Two excellent methods to block heat are insulation and shading. Insulation helps keep your home comfortable and saves money on mechanical cooling systems such as air conditioners and electric fans. Shading devices block the sun’s rays and absorb or reflect the solar heat. Insulation Weatherization measures—such as insulating, […]