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Chapter Nine Excerpt: The U.S.-China Suicide Pact on Climate

By Joe Romm  

"Chapter Nine Excerpt: The U.S.-China Suicide Pact on Climate"

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The “international fairness” issue is the emotional home run. Given the chance, Americans will demand that all nations be part of any international global warming treaty. Nations such as China, Mexico and India would have to sign such an agreement for the majority of Americans to support it.

–Frank Luntz, 2002

We don’t need an international treaty with rules and regulations that will handcuff the American economy or our ability to make our environment cleaner, safer and healthier.

–Frank Luntz, 2002

What country’s insatiable thirst for oil imports is most responsible for the tightening world market since the mid- 1990s? Hint: It’s not China. From 1995 to 2004, China’s annual imports grew by 2.8 million barrels a day. Ours grew 3.9 million. China sucks up about 6 percent of all global oil exports. We demand 25 percent, even though China has a billion more consumers.

china-us.jpgIn what year will China’s total contribution to climate change from burning fossil fuels surpass ours? Hint: Climate change is driven by rising atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases, and those concentrations have been driven by cumulative emissions since the dawn of the industrial revolution. While China’s CO2 emissions might well exceed ours by 2010, its cumulative emissions might not surpass ours until after 2050.


Not only are we the richest nation in the world, but for many decades to come we will be the one most responsible for global warming. No wonder the Chinese and Indians and others in the developing world expect us to take action first, just as we did to save the ozone layer. No wonder the rest of the industrialized world embraced the Kyoto restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions, even knowing the emissions from developing countries such as China and India were not restricted.

One can only marvel at a strategist like Frank Luntz for his ability to appeal to Americans who “will demand that all nations be part of any international global warming treaty,” while, in the same breath, reaching out to Americans who oppose “an international treaty with rules and regulations that will handcuff the American economy.” Such a rhetorical flimflam strategy by the global warming Denyers and Delayers is politically very savvy, but it is the sure road to Hell and High Water.

That said, China’s emissions are growing at an alarming rate. In 2000 the government walked away from the California-style energy efficiency effort it had embraced since 1980. For the past few years, it has been building one major dirty coal plant almost every week. The climate problem cannot be solved if China and other rapidly developing countries do not take steps to restrain their emissions growth. But if the United States maintains its position that we will not take strong action until China does, neither country is likely to act in time. This chapter explores how the United States and China might avoid destroying the climate and, with it, our way of life.

‹ Absolute Must Read

The Spread of Insomniac Bears ›

10 Responses to Chapter Nine Excerpt: The U.S.-China Suicide Pact on Climate

  1. [...] Nations such as China, Mexico and India would have to sign such an … Hint: It s not China. From 1995 to 2004, China s annual imports grew by 2.8 million barrels a day. … China sucks up about 6 percent of all global oil exports. … – more – [...]

  2. Jay Draiman says:

    AMERICANS INSATIABLE THIRST FOR ENERGY MUST BE MODERATED
    By Jay Draiman, Energy Development Specialist

    As you know, many serious problems are associated with our insatiable thirst for energy. The reason is simple: To gain the energy we must burn the fuels. The combustion, by the way quite inefficient, causes huge gaseous emissions polluting the air and forming an invisible screen responsible for the famous “ green house effect ”, i.e., blocking the dissipation of heat and thus causing the feared warming up of our planet, with deadly consequences for nature and man.
    There is only a finite amount of oil in the world. Everybody knows this.
    Someday, we’ll run out. It will be gone.
    Meanwhile, our insatiable thirst for oil — which we burn — has put enormous sums of money into the hands of fanatics who hate us and everything we stand for, and who use that oil money to fund the terrorists who murder Jews and Americans wherever they can.
    We can’t burn oil forever.
    And it’s bad strategy to base our economy on cheap oil when we have to buy at least some of it from our enemies.
    Optimists tell us that the free market will eventually deal with the problem. Their theory is that as oil gets harder to extract cheaply, the price will go up; then other forms of energy will become economically attractive and we’ll switch over to them.
    Here’s why their optimism is nothing short of suicidal.
    First, there’s no guarantee that without intense government-funded research and financial incentives now, the new energy sources will be available in quantities large enough to replace oil when it does run out.
    In other words, if we wait until it’s an emergency, our economy could easily crash and burn for lack of energy sources sufficient to drive it.
    It’s easy to supply energy for an economy that’s only a tenth the size of the world’s economy today. The question is, how many people will die in the resulting chaos and famine, before a new free-market equilibrium is established?
    Second, how stupid do we have to be to wait until we run out of oil before acting to prevent its waste as a fuel? Petroleum is a vital source of plastics. We could use it for that purpose for hundreds of generations — if we didn’t burn any more of it. But if we wait till we’ve burned all the cheap petroleum, it won’t be just fuel that we have to replace.
    Third, market forces don’t do anything for our national defense, our national security. We had a clear warning back in the 1970s with the first oil embargo. What if terrorism in the Middle East specifically targets all oil exports, from many countries?
    And even if they keep the oil flowing, why are we pumping money into the pockets of militant extremists who want to destroy us? Why are we subsidizing our enemies, when instead we could be subsidizing the research that might set us free from our addiction to oil?
    You notice that I haven’t said anything about polluting the environment. Because this is not an environmental issue.
    In the long run, it’s an issue of whether we wish to provide for our children the same kind of prosperity that we’ve luxuriated in as a nation since World War II.
    It is foolish optimism bordering on criminal neglect that we continue to think that our future will be all right as long as we find new ways to extract oil from proven reserves.
    Instead of extracting it, we ought to be preserving it.
    Congress ought to be giving greater incentives and then creating mandates that require hybrid vehicles to predominate within the next five years.
    Within the next fifteen years, we must move beyond hybrids to means of transportation that don’t burn oil at all.
    Within thirty years, we must handle our transportation needs without burning anything at all.
    Predicting the exact moment when our dependence on petroleum will destroy us is pointless.
    What is certain is this: We will run out of oil that is cheap enough to burn. We don’t know when, but we do know it will happen.
    And on that day, our children will curse their forebears who burned this precious resource, and therefore their future, just because they didn’t want the government to interfere with the free market, or some other such nonsense.
    The government interferes with the free market constantly. By its very existence, government distorts the market. So let’s turn that distortion to our benefit. Let’s enforce a savings program. But instead of putting money in the bank, let’s put oil there.
    Oil in the bank … so our children and grandchildren for a hundred generations can slowly draw it out to build with it instead of burn it.
    Oil in the bank … so we’ll be free of the threat of fanatics who seek to murder their enemies — including us — with weapons paid for at our gas pumps.
    Do you want to know who funded Osama bin Laden? We did. And we continue to do it every time we fill up.
    You don’t have to be an environmental fanatic to demand that we control our greed for oil.
    In fact, you have to be dumb and a fool not to insist on it.
    But … foresight just isn’t the American way. We always seem to wait until our own house is burning before we notice there’s a wildfire.
    Oh, it won’t reach us here, we tell ourselves. We’ll be safe.
    Talk about foolish optimism.
    Fair Threat to World Economy But Oil Boycott Improbable
    Energy Efficiency Must Be North America’s Priority but Canada and
    U.S. Fail on Energy Efficiency Policies
    “The despots of the moderate Middle East are non-players save for
    their oil in the ground… My concern is that my grand kids might see parts of the
    Middle East turned into a nuclear waste land, and Ali Baba and The Forty
    Thieves. The world community needs to see a checkmate within the next 60 –
    90 days. Failing that, Iran and Syria will be emboldened.” Reiterating an almost
    universal view on the panel, this CEO emphasized that the world’s seemingly
    Our insatiable thirst for Middle East energy is “the oil [that] feeds the fire.”
    The government should repeatedly increase the price of gasoline in an effort to slow our country’s insatiable thirst for oil. Utilize the excess profits and taxes to fund research and rebates for efficiency and renewable energy.
    The Chinese contribution to the energy crisis
    The quest for resources. The dynamic Chinese economy, which has averaged 9 percent growth per annum over the last two decades, nearly tripled the country’s GDP, has also resulted in the country having an almost insatiable thirst for oil as well as a need for other natural resources to sustain it. The PRC has been a net importer of petroleum since 1993, and has increasingly relied on African countries as suppliers. As of last year, China was importing approximately 2.6 million barrels per day (bbl/d), which accounts for about half of its consumption; more than 765,000 bbl/d – roughly a third of its imports – came from African sources, especially Sudan, Angola, and Congo (Brazzaville).
    To get some perspective on these numbers, consider that one respected energy analyst has calculated that while China’s share of the world oil market is about 8 percent, its share of total growth in demand for oil since 2000 has been 30 percent. The much publicized purchase, in January of this year, of a 45 percent stake in an offshore Nigerian oilfield for $2.27 billion by the state-controlled China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) was just the latest in a series of acquisitions dating back to 1993 whereby the three largest Chinese national oil companies – China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC), China Petroleum and Chemical Corporation (Sinopec), and CNOOC, respectively – have acquired stakes in established African operations.
    Jay Draiman, Energy Analyst – 6/18/2007

  3. Joe says:

    Thanks for the post!

  4. jay draiman says:

    Saving Energy and Energy Conservation

    Some of the energy we can use is called renewable energy. These include solar, wind, geothermal and hydro. These types of energy are constantly being renewed or restored.
    But many of the other forms of energy we use in our homes and cars are not being replenished. Fossil fuels took millions of years to create. They cannot be made over night.
    And there are finite or limited amounts of these non-renewable energy sources. That means they cannot be renewed or replenished. Once they are gone they cannot be used again. So, we must all do our part in saving as much energy as we can.
    In your home, you can save energy by turning off appliances, TVs and radios that are not being used, watched or listened to.
    You can turn off lights when no one is in the room.
    By putting insulation in walls and attics, we can reduce the amount of energy it takes to heat or cool our homes.
    Insulating a home is like putting on a sweater or jacket when we’re cold…instead of turning up the heat.
    The outer layers trap the heat inside, keeping it nice and warm.
    New space-age materials are being developed that insulate even better. This person’s fingers are protected by Aerogel Insulation Material created by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. The person cannot even feel the flame!

    Recycling
    To make all of our newspapers, aluminum cans, plastic bottles and other goods takes lots of energy.
    Recycling these items — grinding them up and reusing the material again — uses less energy than it takes to make them from brand new, raw material.
    So, we must all recycle as much as we can.
    We can also save energy in our cars and trucks.
    Make sure the tires are properly inflated.
    A car that is tuned up, has clean air and oil filters, and is running right will use less gasoline.
    Don’t over-load a car. For every extra 100 pounds, you cut your mileage by one mile per gallon.
    When your parents buy a new car, tell them to compare the fuel efficiency of different models and buy a car that gets higher miles per gallon.
    You can also save energy in your school.
    Each week you can choose an energy monitor who will make sure energy is being used properly.
    The energy monitor will turn off the lights during recess and after class.
    You can make “Turn It Off” signs for hanging above the light switches to remind yourself.
    Also check out our on-line pages on Saving Energy.
    You can make sure your classmates recycle all aluminum cans and plastic bottles, and make sure the library is recycling the newspapers and the school is recycling its paper.
    “Energy Quest.” How many ways can you think of to save energy around your house?
    California’s electricity problems taught us all to think about the energy we use everyday. There’s never enough energy to waste!
    Many Californians learned to use their energy more efficiently. We also learned how to conserve energy – how to make thoughtful choices about ways we can use less. We learned how important it is to not waste energy, so there is enough for everyone.
    Californians “Flexed Their Power” by using energy at different times of the day, by turning lights and machines off when not being used.
    If you want to find out why California had its “Energy Crisis,” the U.S. Department of Energy has a good background page at:
    http://www.eia.doe.gov/cneaf/electricity/california/california.html
    Are YOU and your family having an energy crisis? You may be if you’re wasting energy. How many of these ways to save energy around the house do YOU know?
    Change a Light, Change the World
    We really can “Change the World” with just one light bulb. The key is that the more people that take this step, the more we can change the world.

    Fight the Light!
    Don’t leave lights on when no one is in the room. If you are going to be out of the room for more than five minutes, turn off the light.
    If you know of a light that everyone forgets to turn off, make a sticker or a sign to hang next to the switch that says “Lights Out!” or “Don’t Forget!”
    Where possible, use compact fluorescent light bulbs. Those funny-looking bulbs produce the same amount of light by using 1/4 of the electricity. Plus, they last for years and years without burning out.
    There’s one light bulb that firefighters in Livermore, California, never turn off. It uses very little energy and has been burning for 101 years! Find out more about the Centennial Bulb,
    Don’t Leave Things Turned On
    Turn off the TV when no one is watching it. The same goes for computers, radios and stereos – if no one using it, turn it off. Turn off all the appliances at the surge protector/control strip – that four- or six-plug extension chord that you plug all your computer things into. Some devices, like modems or other networking boxes are drawing small amounts of power all the time. Check with your folks first, but the best thing to do is turn them ALL off at the surge protector.
    It’s a Matter of Degrees!
    In warm weather, the thermostat at home should be set at 78 degrees. (Don’t do this, of course, if it will cause health problems for anyone in your family.) When no one is home, set the thermostat at 85 degrees. That way, you’ll reduce the need for air conditioning and you will save energy. If you have ceiling fans or other fans, turn them on. The blowing air can make you feel 5 degrees cooler, without running the family’s air conditioner. Fans use a lot less electricity than air conditioners!
    In cold weather, wear warm clothing and have your thermostat set to 68 degrees or lower during the day and evening, health permitting. When you go to sleep at night, set the thermostat back to either 55 degrees, or turn it off. When you leave home for an extended time, set the thermostat at 55 degrees or turn it off, too. That way, your family can save from 5 percent to 20 percent on your heating costs. (Don’t do this, of course, if it will cause health problems for anyone in your family.)
    Don’t Heat – or Cool – the Great Outdoors!
    Americans use twice as much energy as necessary to heat their homes. That accounts for a lot of wasted energy!
    If you have a fireplace, close the damper when you don’t have a fire burning. An open fireplace damper can let 8 percent of heat from your furnace escape through the chimney! In the summer, an open fireplace damper can let cool air escape. It’s like having a window open!
    Make a map of your home, and mark all the windows, heating vents, and outside doors. Take a ribbon and hold it up to the edges of the doors and windows. If the ribbon blows, you’ve found a leak! Ask Mom or Dad to seal the leak with caulk or weatherstripping.
    Think about your curtains. Keeping the curtains closed on cold, cloudy days helps block the cold outside air from getting inside. Also, keeping the curtains closed on very hot days keeps the hot air out!
    In the Bedroom
    Turn off your electric blanket when you aren’t in bed.
    Don’t leave on your computer, TVs, radios or games that use electricity when you’re not using them.
    In the Bathroom
    Wasting water wastes electricity. Why? Because the biggest use of electricity in most cities is supplying water and cleaning it up after it’s been used!
    About 75 percent of the water we use in our homes is used in the bathroom. Unless you have a low flush toilet, for example, you use about five gallons to seven gallons of water with every flush! A leaky toilet can waste more than 10,000 gallons of water a year. Wow!
    Drippy faucets are bad, too. A faucet that leaks enough water to fill a soda bottle every 30 minutes will waste 2,192 gallons of water a year.
    Another simple way to save water AND energy is to take shorter showers. You’ll use less hot water – and water heaters account for nearly 1/4 of your home’s energy use.
    In the Kitchen
    According to researchers who are paid to study such things, a load of dishes cleaned in a dishwasher uses 37 percent less water than washing dishes by hand! However, if you fill up one side of the sink with soapy water and the other side with rinse water – and if you don’t let the faucet run – you’ll use half as much water as a dishwasher does. Doing the dishes this way can save enough water for a five-minute shower!
    If you need to warm up or defrost small amounts of food, use a microwave instead of the stove to save energy. Microwave ovens use around 50 percent less energy than conventional ovens do. For large meals, however, the stove is usually more efficient. In the summer, using a microwave causes less heat in the kitchen, which saves money on air conditioning.
    Don’t keep the refrigerator door open any longer than you need to. Close it to keep the cold air inside! Also, make sure the door closes securely. There is a rubber-like seal around the door that you can test. Just close the door on a dollar bill, and then see how easy it is to pull out. If the dollar slides out easily, the door is probably leaking cold air from inside.
    Is there an old refrigerator sitting in the garage or someplace else at home? Old refrigerators are real energy hogs! An old refrigerator could be costing your family as much as $120 a year to operate. Urge your parents to replace it if they don’t need it, and remind them that one large refrigerator is cheaper to run than two smaller ones.
    Shocking News About Batteries
    Did you know that Americans use an average of about eight batteries a year per person? Wow!
    Batteries that are thrown away produce most of the heavy metals – dangerous substances like lead, arsenic, zinc, cadmium, copper, and mercury – that are found in household trash. These metals are toxic. They can be harmful to humans and wildlife. When discarded batteries from our trash wind up in landfills, these dangerous metals can seep into the ground water and eventually into the food chain. So, instead of throwing batteries in the trash, we should all take them to a toxic waste disposal area, if at all possible.
    Turn off the toys and games (like GameBoys TM) that use batteries when you are not playing with them. That makes the batteries last longer, and you won’t need as many of them.
    Forty percent of all battery sales are made during the holiday season. Ask for holiday gifts that do not require batteries.
    Ask your parents to buy rechargeable batteries and a recharger.
    Outside the House
    Remember how saving water saves energy? Use a broom instead of a hose to clean off the driveway, patio or deck – this will save hundreds of gallons of water each year.
    If you only have a small lawn, consider getting a manual push mower. It doesn’t use any energy except your own. Pushing the mower spins the rotating wheels, which spins the cutter. Consider it good exercise!
    Don’t use an electric or gasoline leaf blower. Instead, use a rake.
    If you need to leave a security light on over night, change the incandescent bulb to a compact fluorescent. It will last months and maybe years and save you energy and money. Some compact fluorescent bulbs even come in yellow so they won’t attract bugs.
    Think About What Your Family Buys
    If you buy things that can be used over and over instead of buying disposable items that are used once and then thrown away, you will save precious natural resources. You’ll also save energy used to make them, and you’ll reduce the amount of landfill space we need when they are thrown away.
    Those same savings happen you buy things that will last instead of breaking right away. Well-made items may cost a little more to begin with, but they are usually worth the money because they last for a long time, and you don’t have to replace them.
    When your family goes shopping, think about taking bags with you. Only about 700 paper bags can be made from one 15-year-old tree. A large grocery store can use that many bags before lunch! Plastic bags start out as either oil or natural gas. Oil and natural gas are non-renewable resources. This means they can’t be reused, and when they are all gone, they are gone forever. And throw-away bags add a lot of pollution to the environment. If plastic and paper bags are used once and go to landfills, they stay there for hundreds of years Some stores offer discounts for people who use their own bags. For every bag reused, they give money back – usually about five cents for each bag.
    With your parents, pick a spot in your house to store bags that you get from the grocery store. These bags can be used to carry things to friends’ houses or for trash linings. After bags wear out, recycle them.
    Other Recycling Tips
    Make a scrap-paper pad. Gather pieces of used paper the same size with the blank side up. Find a piece of cardboard the same size as the paper and put it at the back. Staple the whole thing together, and use it as a place to write down grocery lists or things to do.
    If every American recycled his or her newspaper just one day a week, we would save about 36 million trees a year. You can save a tree for every four feet of paper you recycle. It takes half as much energy to make recycled newspaper as it takes to make fresh newsprint from trees.
    Recycle your newspapers. (Check to see if recycling centers want them tied together or in bags.) Anything that comes with the newspaper can also be recycled (except magazines, which must be recycled separately).
    * Recycle your old notebook paper. It is considered “white paper,” and makes better recycled paper. “White paper” is writing paper, notebook paper, white envelopes, typing paper, index cards, computer paper, and white stationary.
    Cereal boxes, egg cartons, wrapping paper are called “mixed paper.” All these things can be recycled. Mixed paper can be made into paperboard, the paper that is used on roofs.
    For something fun, download the Recycle Rex Recycling Facts, Games and Crafts Booklet (Acrobat PDF file, 26 pages, 1.9 megabytes)
    In Your School
    The energy-saving ideas you used at home can also be used in school. Consider creating a weekly “energy monitor” – someone who’s job it is to make sure lights are out when there’s no one in a room. He or she can also make sure that machines are turned off when not being used. Have your teacher or principal check with the California Energy Commission to see if you school can become a “Bright School.”

    Links to Other Websites About Saving Energy
    • Alliance to Save Energy (www.ase.org)
    • California Energy Commission Bright School Program (www.energy.ca.gov/efficiency/brightschools/)
    • California Energy Commission Conservation Web Links (www.energy.ca.gov/links/conservation.html)
    • Consumer Energy Center – Energy Efficiency at Home, Office and School(www.ConsumerEnergyCenter.org)
    • Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Network Dr. E’s Energy Lab (www.eren.doe.gov/kids/)
    • Federal Consumer Information Center (www.pueblo.gsa.gov)
    • Green Schools (www.ase.org/greenschools/)
    • PowerSmart (tips to save money and the planet – Alliance to Save Energy>
    • Rocky Mountain Institute – for Kids (www.rmi.org/sitepages/pid468.php)
    • U.S. Dept of Energy Kids Zone (http://www.energy.gov/engine/content.do?BT_CODE=KIDS)
    • U.S. Dept. of Energy – Energy Efficiency page (www.energy.gov/efficiency/)

  5. jay draiman says:

    SAVE ENERGY – Make a change for the better
    The average home spends about $2,400 annually on energy bills. Heating and cooling accounts for as much as half of a home’s energy use.
    When is it Time for a Change?
    As much as half of your household energy use goes to heating and cooling. With a few simple steps to properly seal and insulate your home, and energy-efficient heating
    and cooling equipment, you can stay comfortable and save on your energy bills at the same time. Review the checklist on the next page to decide whether you should consider sealing air leaks, adding insulation, replacing your old heating and cooling system, or improving the performance of your existing system. Once you’ve decided on what changes need to be made, shop for a contractor.
    Learn how to maintain your heating and cooling equipment and increase system performance to save energy and money while providing a more comfortable, healthy home for you and your family.
    1 – When is it Time for a Change?
    Review the checklist to find out what improvements your home and heating and cooling system may need.
    2– Maintaining Your Equipment
    Learn how preventative maintenance helps keep your heating and cooling system at peak performance.
    3 – Improving Your Home’s Comfort with Home Sealing
    Get recommendations to increase your comfort and save energy.
    4 – Sealing Your Ducts
    Improve your home’s duct system to increase your heating and cooling system’s overall performance and efficiency.
    6 – Working with a Heating and Cooling Contractor
    Choose the right contractor and know what to expect from them.
    7 – Choosing the Right Equipment
    Know what to look for to get the most energy efficient heating and cooling equipment.
    8 – Getting Properly Sized Equipment and a Quality Installation
    Get equipment that is the right size for your home and make sure your contractor follows proper installation procedures.
    You may want to consider making a change if:
    Some of your rooms are too hot or cold. Duct problems, inadequate air sealing or insulation could be the cause. No matter how efficient your heating and cooling system is, if your home is not properly sealed and insulated against air leakage, you will not be as comfortable and your system will have to work harder. Learn more on page 8, “Improving your Home’s Comfort with Home Sealing.”
    Your home has humidity problems and/or excessive dust. Poorly operating or improperly sized equipment could be to blame. Leaky ductwork can also cause these problems, so having it sealed may be a solution. Monthly maintenance of your heating and cooling equipment’s filters may also help. See page 16, “Getting Properly Sized Equipment and a Quality Installation,” page 10, “Sealing Your Ducts” or page 6, “Maintaining Your Equipment.”
    Your cooling system is noisy. Your duct system could be improperly sized or there may be a problem with the indoor coil of your cooling equipment. See page 10, “Sealing Your Ducts” or page 6, “Maintaining Your Equipment.” Is you attic insulated does it have an attic fan(s).
    Your equipment needs frequent repairs and your energy bills are going up.
    In addition to the rise in energy costs, the age and condition of your heating and cooling equipment may have caused it to become less efficient. See page 6, “Maintaining Your Equipment” or page 14, “Choosing the Right Equipment.”
    Your heat pump or air conditioner is more than 12 years old.
    Consider replacing it with newer, more efficient equipment. And remember, high efficiency levels begin
    with ENERGY STAR. See page 14, “Choosing the Right Equipment.”
    Your furnace or boiler is more than 15 years old.
    Consider replacing with ENERGY STAR qualified equipment. ENERGY STAR has set high efficiency guidelines for both furnaces and boilers. See page 14, “Choosing the Right Equipment.”
    You leave your thermostat set at one constant temperature.
    You could be missing a great energy-saving opportunity. A programmable thermostat adjusts your home’s
    temperature at times when you’re regularly away or sleeping. See page 14, “Choosing the Right Equipment – Programmable Thermostats.”
    Your score on the ENERGY STAR Home Energy Yardstick is below five.
    That means you’re using more energy at home than most Americans and probably paying more than you need to on energy bills. Get personalized recommendations to improve your home and/or heating and cooling system. Find the Home Energy Yardstick at http://www.energystar.gov. Click on Home Energy Analysis.

    Overall System Maintenance Checklist
    Your contractor should complete the following each spring and fall:
    Check thermostat settings to ensure the heating and cooling system turns on and off at the programmed temperatures.
    Tighten all electrical connections and measure voltage and current on motors.
    Faulty electrical connections can cause unsafe operation of your system and reduce the life of major components.
    Lubricate all moving parts. Parts that lack lubrication cause friction in motors and increase the amount of electricity you use. It can also cause equipment to wear out more quickly, requiring more frequent repairs or replacements.
    Check and inspect the condensate drain in your central air conditioner, furnace and/or heat pump (when in cooling mode). If plugged, the drain can cause water damage in the house, affect indoor humidity levels, and breed bacteria and mold.
    Check system controls to ensure proper and safe operation. Check the starting cycle of the equipment to assure the system starts, operates, and shuts off properly.
    Inspect, clean, or change air filter in your central air conditioner, furnace, and/or heat pump. Your contractor can show you how to do this yourself. Depending on your system, your filter may be found in the duct system versus the heating and cooling equipment itself. A dirty filter causes energy costs to be greater than they should be and can damage your equipment, leading to early failures.
    System-Specific Maintenance
    The following checklists outline additional steps your contractor should follow when servicing either your heating or cooling system:
    Heating-Specific Checklist:
    Check all gas (or oil) connections, gas pressure, burner combustion, and heat exchanger.
    Improperly operating gas (or oil) connections are a fire hazard and can contribute to health problems. A dirty burner or cracked heat exchanger causes improper burner operation. Either can cause the equipment to operate less safely and efficiently.
    Cooling-Specific Checklist:
    Clean indoor and outdoor coils before warm weather starts. A dirty coil reduces the system’s ability to cool your home and causes the system to run longer, costing you more energy dollars and decreasing the life of the equipment.
    Check your central air conditioner’s refrigerant charge and adjust it if necessary to make sure it meets manufacturer specifications. Too much or too little refrigerant charge can damage the compressor, reducing the life of your equipment and increasing costs.
    Clean and adjust blower components to provide proper system airflow. Proper airflow over the indoor coil is necessary for efficient equipment operation and reliablity.
    Improving Your Home’s Comfort with Home Sealing
    The exterior of your home is called the “envelope” or “shell.” The envelope is made up of the outer walls, ceiling, windows, and floor. It is common to find both old and new homes that have poorly performing “envelopes” – that is, they have drafty air leaks and are poorly insulated. An envelope that performs poorly leads to an uncomfortable home and higher heating and cooling bills. This is especially true when the weather outside is very cold or hot. Sealing air leaks and adding insulation can increase your home’s overall comfort, as well as reduce heating and cooling bills.
    To improve your home’s envelope, the EPA recommends a process called ENERGY STAR Home Sealing:
    Seal air leaks to reduce drafts and get the full performance out of insulation.
    Always seal air leaks before adding insulation.
    Add insulation to keep your home comfortable and energy-efficient.
    Usually, the easiest and most effective place to add insulation is in the attic. This can improve comfort throughout the home. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) recommends insulation levels for each part of the house, tailored for varying climates. Visit http://www.energystar.gov and click on Home Sealing to see
    recommended levels of insulation.
    Choose ENERGY STAR qualified windows when replacing or adding windows to your home. In addition to making you feel more comfortable, they reduce UV damage to interior fabrics and can help you save money on heating and cooling costs. Be sure the windows you choose are qualified for your climate zone.
    Benefits of ENERGY STAR Home Sealing:
    Improved comfort, especially during periods of hot or cold weather Lower energy use, which means lower energy bills A quieter home due to less noise entering from the outside. Fewer holes where pollen, dust, pollution, and insects can enter your home. Improved durability of the building structure through the reduced movement of moist air.
    Whether you do it yourself or have a contractor work on your home, it is important to have your local heating and cooling contractor perform a Combustion Safety Test after sealing air leaks to be sure all your gas or oil burning appliances are working properly. A good time to have it checked is during your annual heating system check-up. Of course, another way to help ensure good indoor air quality in your home is to test for radon. Learn more about Home Sealing and your home’s envelope by visiting http://www.energystar.gov
    and clicking on Home Sealing. For the “Do-it-Yourselfer” with an accessible attic, view “A DIY Guide to ENERGY STAR Home Sealing” for step-by-step instructions for sealing air leaks and adding insulation.
    If you prefer to hire a professional to seal your home, you can view recommendations for finding a contractor.
    Sealing Your Ducts
    Ducts are an integral part of a forced-air system such as a furnace, heat pump, or central air conditioner, whose job is to circulate heated or cooled air evenly to every room in a house.
    Poorly performing ducts can leak conditioned air and reduce your system’s efficiency by as much as 20%, by causing it to work harder to keep your home at a comfortable temperature. Ducts are commonly concealed in walls, ceilings, attics, basements, or crawl spaces, which can make them
    difficult to access and repair. EPA recommends using a professional contractor for duct improvements. Many contractors who install heating and cooling systems also repair ductwork. For tips on selecting the right contractor, see p. 12, “Working with a Heating and Cooling Contractor.”
    Sealing Your Ducts
    Ducts are an integral part of a forced-air system such as a furnace, heat pump, or central air conditioner, whose job is to circulate heated or cooled air evenly to every room in a house.
    Poorly performing ducts can leak conditioned air and reduce your system’s efficiency by as much as 20%, by causing it to work harder to keep your home at a comfortable temperature. Ducts are commonly concealed in walls, ceilings, attics, basements, or crawl spaces, which can make them
    difficult to access and repair. EPA recommends using a professional contractor for duct improvements. Many contractors who install heating and cooling systems also repair ductwork. For tips on selecting the right contractor, see p. 12, “Working with a Heating and Cooling Contractor.” Improve your ducts by sealing leaks and insulating the ducts in attics and crawl spaces. This will improve your system’s overall performance and your home’s comfort and indoor air quality. You should have your duct system checked by a professional contractor to ensure it is operating efficiently to deliver the right amount of conditioned air.
    Duct Improvement Checklist
    When making improvements to your duct system, your contractor should:
    Check, measure, and identify leaks with diagnostic equipment.
    Repair or replace damaged, disconnected, or undersized ducts.
    Straighten out flexible ducts that are tangled or crushed.
    Seal leaks and connections with mastic, metal tape, or an aerosol based sealant. Duct tape should never be used because it will not last. Test airflow after sealing ducts.
    Seal all registers and grills tightly to the ducts.
    Insulate ducts in unconditioned areas, like attics and crawl spaces, with duct insulation that carries an R-value of 6 or higher.
    Include a new filter as part of any duct system improvements.
    Conduct a Combustion Safety Test after ducts are sealed to ensure there is no back-drafting of gas or oil-burning appliances.
    Make sure you ventilate the premises regularly to reduce indoor pollution.
    Working with a Heating and Cooling Contractor
    Whether you want to schedule an annual equipment maintenance check-up or you’ve decided that you need to purchase and have new heating or cooling equipment installed, you will need to hire a contractor.
    The following sections will help you find the right contractor, get quality and value from the contractor and your new equipment, and get a signed agreement on the work to be done. Many of the following recommendations also apply if you choose to work with a contractor to make other home improvements such as home sealing or duct work.
    How do you choose the right contractor?
    A reputable contractor should:
    Perform an on-site inspection of the job you want done and provide a detailed bid in a timely manner.
    Demonstrate to you that they are licensed and insured to repair or install heating and cooling equipment (many states require this).
    Be able to provide their certification for refrigerant handling, required since 1992.
    Have several years of experience as a business in your community.
    Provide examples of quality installation of energy-efficient heating and/or cooling equipment work, with names of customers that you can contact.
    Complete and submit the warranty information card on your behalf.
    Get Quality and Value.
    Have the contractor:
    Show you a layout of where the equipment is going to be installed.
    Determine the size of your new equipment using ACCA/ANSI
    Manual J®, or an equivalent sizing calculation tool.
    Check refrigerant charge using pressure and temperature measurements.
    Explain the financial benefit of installing ENERGY STAR qualified equipment.
    Diagnose and repair your duct system, if needed.
    Provide financing for the purchase, if necessary.
    Explain the warranty on equipment, parts, and labor.
    Clearly explain the benefits of regular maintenance and help you set up a schedule to keep your system
    operating at its best.
    Sign an agreement before work begins.
    Both you and your contractor should sign a written proposal before work gets started.
    The agreement or proposal should:
    List in detail all the work that is being contracted.
    Specify all products by quantity, name, model number, and energy ratings.
    Provide manufacturer’s warranty, equipment documentation, and contractor installation warranty
    information (if applicable).
    Give the payment schedule.
    State the scheduled start and completion date.
    Describe how disputes will be resolved. (Arbitration)
    State the contractor’s liability insurance and licenses if required.
    Outline paperwork and permits needed for the project.
    Choosing the Right Equipment
    When purchasing heating or cooling equipment, remember that high efficiency levels begin with ENERGY STAR.
    Whether you’re searching for a new heat pump, furnace, or other heating and cooling equipment, ENERGY STAR has set energy efficiency specifications to help you save on energy bills and improve the comfort level in your home.
    A programmable thermostat is recommended for individuals and families who are away from home during set periods of time throughout the week, allowing them to use less energy without sacrificing comfort. Programmable thermostats that have earned the ENERGY STAR offer the most energy-saving potential for your home and, unlike older manual thermostats, contain no mercury. Through proper use of your
    ENERGY STAR qualified thermostat, you can save about $150 every year in energy costs.
    In order to increase your energy savings, it’s important that you:
    Keep the thermostat set at energy-saving temperatures for long periods of time, such as during the day when no one is home and through the night. ENERGY STAR qualified thermostats come with four pre-programmed temperature settings for typical weekday and weekend routines.
    Resist the urge to override the pre-programmed settings. Every time you do, you use more energy and may end up paying more on your energy bill.
    Set the “hold” button at a constant energy-saving temperature when going away for the weekend or on vacation.
    Install your thermostat away from heating or cooling registers, appliances, lighting, doorways, skylights, and windows, and areas that receive direct sunlight or drafts. Interior walls are best.
    If you have a heat pump, you may require a special programmable thermostat to maximize your energy savings year-round. Talk to your retailer or contractor for the details before selecting your thermostat.
    Programmable Thermostats
    Furnaces are the most commonly used residential heating system in the United States, running most often on gas, but sometimes on fuel oil or electricity, and deliver their heat through a duct system. One in four furnaces in U.S. homes today is more than 20 years old. ENERGY STAR qualified furnaces use advanced technology to deliver higher efficiency than standard new furnaces available today.
    A programmable thermostat is recommended for individuals and families who are away from home during set periods of time throughout the week, allowing them to use less energy without sacrificing comfort. Programmable thermostats that have earned the ENERGY STAR offer the most energy-saving potential for your home and, unlike older manual thermostats, contain no mercury. Through proper use of your
    ENERGY STAR qualified thermostat, you can save about $150 every year in energy costs.
    In order to increase your energy savings, it’s important that you:
    Keep the thermostat set at energy-saving temperatures for long periods of time, such as during the day when no one is home and through the night. ENERGY STAR qualified thermostats come with four pre-programmed temperature settings for typical weekday and weekend routines.
    Resist the urge to override the pre-programmed settings. Every time you do, you use more energy and may end up paying more on your energy bill.
    Set the “hold” button at a constant energy-saving temperature when going away for the weekend or on vacation.
    Install your thermostat away from heating or cooling registers, appliances, lighting, doorways, skylights, and windows, and areas that receive direct sunlight or drafts. Interior walls are best.
    If you have a heat pump, you may require a special programmable thermostat to maximize your energy savings year-round. Talk to your retailer or contractor for the details before selecting your thermostat.
    Furnaces
    ENERGY STAR qualified central air conditioners have a higher SEER than today’s standard models. SEER, the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, measures energy efficiency. The higher the SEER, the greater the level of efficiency. Since sizing and proper installation of a central air conditioning system are critical to energy efficiency and home comfort, it is important to hire a qualified technician.
    Central Air Conditioners
    Electric Air-Source Heat Pumps (ASHPs): ASHPs, often used in moderate climates, use the difference between outdoor and indoor air temperatures to cool and heat your home. For example, they work in cold weather because the air is warmer than the refrigerant in the system and causes it to boil into a gas. This gas is then compressed which drives the temperature up to 120 degrees or more. This hot gas transfers heat to your home. High efficiency ASHPs use less energy than conventional models. They also come with higher HSPF ratings. HSPF, the Heating and Seasonal Performance Factor, measures the heating efficiency of heat pumps.
    Geothermal Heat Pumps (GHPs): By using stable temperature conditions in the ground, GHPs cool and heat your home. In addition to providing much lower energy bills, high efficiency GHPs are quieter and include water-heating capabilities. Although initially expensive, they quickly pay back the homeowner with significant cost savings. GHPs are most often installed in new homes and require a duct system.
    Heat Pumps
    A boiler heats your home by burning gas or fuel oil to heat water or steam that circulates through radiators, baseboards, or radiant floor systems. Boilers do not use a duct system. Boilers that have earned the ENERGY STAR have higher AFUE ratings. AFUE, the Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency, is a measure of heating equipment efficiency.
    How much energy you save will vary based on your use and climate, with colder regions likely saving more. Features that improve boiler efficiency include electronic ignition, which eliminates the need to have the pilot light burning all the time, and technologies that extract more heat from the same amount of fuel.
    Boilers
    A boiler heats your home by burning gas or fuel oil to heat water or steam that circulates through radiators, baseboards, or radiant floor systems. Boilers do not use a duct system. Boilers that have earned the ENERGY STAR have higher AFUE ratings. AFUE, the Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency, is a measure of heating equipment efficiency.
    How much energy you save will vary based on your use and climate, with colder regions likely saving more. Features that improve boiler efficiency include electronic ignition, which eliminates the need to have the pilot light burning all the time, and technologies that extract more heat from the same amount of fuel.

    Getting Properly Sized Equipment and a Quality Installation
    When purchasing heating and cooling equipment, choosing energy-efficient products is a step in the right direction. However, asking the right questions of your contractor and making sure your equipment is properly sized and installed are also important elements to ensure that your new system performs at optimal efficiency.
    When it comes to heating and cooling equipment, bigger doesn’t always mean better. Larger capacity systems are intended to meet the needs of a larger heating or cooling load. However, if the unit is too large for your home, you will experience less comfort and increased costs. Oversized equipment will operate in short run times or cycles, not allowing the unit to reach efficient operation. In addition, oversized equipment will not run long enough to remove humidity from the air. This can leave you feeling cool but not comfortable.
    Don’t assume that the size of your new system will be the same as your old equipment. Changes, such as additions or insulation improvements, may have been made to the house since the original equipment was installed; or, the equipment may have been too large from the start. Expect the contractor to gather information about your house such as the level of insulation, type and size of the windows, and floor area. Your contractor can determine the right size for your heating and cooling equipment by using ACCA/ANSI Manual J®, or an equivalent sizing calculation tool that takes these and other factors into consideration.
    When installing your new heating and cooling equipment, your contractor should do the following to ensure a quality installation:
    Quality Heating Installation Checklist:
    Provide adequate room around the equipment for service and maintenance.
    Test and verify proper airflow (if a furnace or heat pump).
    Verify that your furnace or boiler has been tested for proper burner operation and proper venting of flue gases. The vent piping should be inspected for leaks or deterioration and repaired or replaced as necessary.
    Quality Cooling Installation Checklist:
    Provide adequate room around the equipment for service and maintenance.
    Replace the indoor coil of the equipment when replacing the outdoor unit. To get the expected level of efficiency, you should have a matched set. An old coil will not work efficiently with a new outdoor unit.
    Confirm that the level of refrigerant charge and the airflow across the indoor coil meets the manufacturer’s recommendation. It’s estimated that more than 60% of central air conditioners are incorrectly charged during installation.
    Place the condenser in an area that can be protected from rain, snow, or vegetation, as specified by the manufacturer. If you have a central air conditioning unit, cover your outside equipment during the winter to protect it from snow and ice. Heat pumps need to be left uncovered to properly operate during the winter.
    Protecting Our Environment Starts at Home.
    The average household can be responsible for nearly twice the greenhouse gas emissions as the average car. The leading source of greenhouse gas emissions is energy production; whenever you operate any product in your home that runs on electricity, a power plant is most likely generating that electricity by burning fossil fuels (such as coal and oil), which produces greenhouse gases. Here are 5 ways you can help reduce the risks of global warming!
    5 Steps You Can Take to Reduce Air Pollution:
    Change five lights. Change a light and you help change the world. If every American home replaced their 5 most frequently used light fixtures or the bulbs in them with ones that have earned the ENERGY STAR, we would save close to $9 billion each year in energy costs, and together we’d prevent the greenhouse gases equivalent to the emissions from nearly 10 million cars.
    Look for products that have earned the ENERGY STAR. Ask for us by name. You’ll get the features and performance you want AND help reduce air pollution. Look for ENERGY STAR qualified products in more than 50 product categories, including lighting, home electronics, heating and cooling equipment, and appliances. If you are building or buying a newly constructed home, ask about ENERGY STAR –we qualify those too.
    Heat and cool smartly. Improve the performance of your heating and cooling system. Have it serviced annually by a licensed contractor, and remember to clean or replace air filters regularly. To avoid heating or
    cooling an empty house, use an ENERGY STAR qualified programmable thermostat. And when it’s time to replace old equipment, choose an ENERGY STAR qualified model, and make sure it’s sized and installed
    properly. If just one household in 10 did this, the change would prevent more than 17 billion pounds of greenhouse gases.
    Seal up your home. Drafty windows and doors, cold walls or ceilings, and high energy bills are all symptoms of air leaks (usually in the attic and basement) and poor insulation. Seal air leaks, add insulation, and choose ENERGY STAR qualified windows when replacing old windows.
    That way you’ll improve the comfort and durability of your home, save energy and help protect our environment.
    Tell family and friends. Slip it into a conversation with a friend or family member. Talk about it at a neighbor’s barbecue. Pass it on at a PTA meeting or at work. We’re asking you to help spread the word that
    energy efficiency is good for your home and good for our environment.
    Tell five people and together we can help our homes help us all.
    ENERGY STAR – It’s a good sign.
    The ENERGY STAR program is a voluntary partnership between consumers, their families, and many of the most respected brand names. All of us are working together to achieve a common goal: to protect our environment for future generations by changing to more energy-efficient practices today.
    Since the fossil fuel-based energy used in a typical home can cause twice as many greenhouse gas emissions as the average car, the U.S.
    Environmental Protection Agency encourages homeowners to make their homes more energy-efficient. The government awards the ENERGY STAR to those products, companies and organizations, homes, and services that meet specifications established by EPA and DOE. It’s our future.
    Together, we can make a change for the better.

  6. jay draiman says:

    Water Cooled Evaporative Air Conditioning or geothermal

    Although water is used to assist with cooling, this technology is not related to the conventional Evaporative Air Coolers often called swamp coolers. Water is used to remove heat from the refrigerant and at the same time reduce the work of the compressor. The Water Cooled Evaporative Air Conditioner is a residential application of a technology already in use in commercial buildings for split system air conditioners known as chillers. Think of this technology as a mini-chiller for residential use.
    Evaporative cooled condensing units for split system air conditioners have a number of advantages over air-cooled units. This is why most commercial air conditioners larger than about 250 tons typically rely on cooling towers to cool water and remove heat generated from the compression cycle of the chiller. The key elements of the unit include multiple low-pressure water nozzles that spray a mist of water over the condenser coils to remove heat after the refrigerant is compressed. Water temperature can be maintained at about 10° F over wet bulb via heat absorbed through evaporation, which is then removed via a fan on top of the unit.
    Unlike air cooled units, which lose in the range of 25 percent of their rated efficiency at temperatures exceeding 100° F relative to their SEER rating, the efficiency of an evaporative water cooled unit has a minimal drop.
    In the past, evaporative cooled condenser units were used only in commercial applications. Now one manufacturer has a model that is designed specifically for the residential market.
    Freus Inc. has developed a water cooled evaporative condenser unit. A “scroll” compressor compresses the R-22 refrigerant. A small water pump continually sprays water over the condenser coil, which cools the coil primarily via conduction from the copper coil to the water, sprayed on the coil. The coil is solid copper; approximately three times the thickness (i.e. 0.032″ vs. 0.012″) of that used in air-cooled condensers, and the copper is coated to prevent corrosion. Magnesium anodes are included to treat the water and reduce coil corrosion.
    A float maintains approximately 3.5 inches of water in the bottom of the condenser. Every 8 hours of run time, a timer causes a purge pump to pump all water from the bottom of the unit (approximately 5-8 gallons). The float valve then causes more water to flow until a level of about 3.5 inches is restored.
    Water removes heat from the condenser coils far more efficiently than air. The heat transfer and evaporative process is increased via a fan on top of the condenser.
    Above 95° F, a typical air cooled condenser draws approximately an additional 10% power for each 10° F increase in temperature. In contrast, an evaporative cooled condenser draws about the same power over a wide range of outdoor temperatures.
    Residential and small commercial models are available from 2 to 12 tons. The dimensions of the evaporator unit are comparable to a 3-5 ton conventional condenser unit.
    UTILIZING WATER FROM THE SWIMMING POOL TO COOL THE COMPRESSOR.
    Utilizing a closed loop system with water coils 6 foot bellow the surface to keep the water cold and circulating these water over the compressor to reduce the coil temperature.
    Basically utilizing the geothermal energy to maintain the cool temperature of the water.
    Same technology can be used for refrigeration – cooling the coils with water

  7. jay draiman says:

    You must serve as an example in implementing energy efficiency.

    I think if corporate America is serious about energy conservation; it must start with people at the top and roll down from there to the rest of the executives and employees.

    In order to accomplish such an important mission as energy conservation every executive and employee has to believe that what he is doing is the right thing.

    They must practice the same attitude at home and implement energy conservation at home. This attitude will carry on to the workplace.

    First thing that must be done is, each employee should be asked what has he/she done in their own lives to conserve energy, and than if the answer is positive advance the initiative from there, if not an education process must be implemented to drive the process home once this process has been achieved, it will be easier to get everyone to participate in energy conservation.

    The motive and behavior has to come from within each individual person – it must become part of a routine practice – it must become a way of life – reducing waste in any form.

    In today’s rising cost of energy – conservation must become a national theme.

    Jay Draiman, Energy Analyst

  8. jay draiman says:

    Confronting the Challenges of Tomorrow
    While Cherishing Today

    Our world today confronts current economic hardship, which represent both a challenge and an opportunity for us to assert our ability to work together for the good of all. Efforts to combat abuse and waste have fallen short. Many countries around the world suffer from the shortage of resources such as water and energy, which threatens their stability and whose capacity and resources disable them from containing the panic, thus necessitating, in such a situation, assistance for those countries in dealing with the crisis. Our world also confronts numerous environmental challenges such as limited and declining natural resources, climate change, drought and desertification, all of which require the redoubling of worldwide efforts to address them in order to safeguard the right of future generations to a secure life. The scarcity of water and energy threatens the eruption of conflicts in different parts of the world, and the nations of the world are therefore called upon to maximize the benefit from, and the proper management of, available water and energy resources while respecting and protecting the acquired rights of nations to utilize and further develop those resources.
    We must work together as a cohesive force to expedite development of natural resources, eliminate the abuse of the environment. Utilize today’s technology to expand the desalinization of water increase the development of Alternative energy with an environmental balance.
    We must learn to appreciate what we have today while protecting and preserving our natural resources for future generations.
    Jay Draiman

  9. jay draiman says:

    Reduce Your Energy Bills

    Nearly 30 years have passed since the first oil crisis gave Americans an indelible lesson in energy deprivation. Yet many homeowners still don’t realize how much energy seeps out of their houses every day despite the steps they might have taken. According to experts, many homes — including new ones — act more like sieves than like sealed buildings.
    “What we’ve learned about basic energy efficiency isn’t readily available to homeowners, builders and contractors,” says The Energy Expert.
    The reason is clear enough: Because much of that knowledge was developed for low-income housing as part of the federal Weatherization Assistance Program, it hasn’t yet reached the mainstream housing industry. Nevertheless, it includes a number of findings that affect all homes.
    For example, because hot air rises, most heat lost in a building goes right through the roof. What causes that heat loss? Leaks in attic floors are the culprit, lowering the R-value of attic insulation and draining 30 to 50 percent of a home’s heating energy. And while leaks around windows and doors let out far less energy than you probably thought, gaps in forced-air ducts can cut home heating and cooling efficiency 40 percent.
    Fortunately, making your home more energy efficient isn’t rocket science. A couple of weekends sealing the attic and furnace ducting using materials that cost less than $50 on average will slash up to 30 percent off your energy bill.
    Sealing the Attic
    To save energy immediately, begin by sealing the gaps that lead from your living areas to the attic. Some of these gaps accommodate wiring and pipes, while others result from poor craftsmanship and the normal settling of the building. But all of them serve as passageways for heated air to escape.
    That’s because houses act like big chimneys. Warm air rises to top of the building, increasing air pressure near the ceiling. The difference between that pressure and the lower pressure outside on a cold day drives the warm air through any crack, crevice or gap it can find. The high pressure at the top also creates low pressure near the bottom of the house, which pulls cold air in through openings around the foundation or slab.
    Energy experts call this the stack effect. The larger the spread between inside and outside temperatures, the greater the pressure differences and the stronger its pull. However, if you have mold or condensation problems in your home during winter, don’t do any sealing until you’ve tackled the moisture situation.
    What insulation can’t do. An insulated attic isn’t necessarily a sealed attic. Insulating materials are designed to slow down heat loss through solid materials rather than to stop airflow. Insulation works with weatherizing to create a thermal boundary between the inside and outside of your home. Unfortunately, most homeowners pay attention solely to the insulation part of the equation. “Half the money people pay for insulation is often lost due to leaks,” says The Energy Expert and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). “If homeowners sealed the attic floor before insulating, they would save a lot more energy.”
    Filling the gaps. Spotting the holes and gaps you need to seal is easy in an un-insulated attic. Lay planks across joists and stay on them so you don’t step through the ceiling. Then check for gaps around anything that comes through the floor. Examples include the tops of light fixtures, pipes, wiring, the chimney and heating and cooling ducts. Also check for gaps around the top plates of interior partitions.
    If your attic is insulated, you’ll need to roll back batts to get at the gaps. Wear pants and long sleeves, gloves, eye protection, and a dust mask. Gray or black smudges in the insulation signal air leaks. If your attic is insulated with loose-fill insulation, which can’t be peeled back, you might want to call a professional weatherization contractor to locate the leaks. Then seal as many of them as possible.
    • Instead of insulation, use latex caulk to fill gaps up to about 3/8 inch wide. For holes up to about 1 inch wide, use expanding urethane foam (it comes in a can). Be careful — the foam is hard to get off of clothes and hands. A new latex sealant from DAP ($3.50 per 12-oz. can) cleans up with soap and water.
    • For larger holes, create a plug from a piece of drywall. Cut it to fill the hole, push it into place and then seal the edges with urethane foam. Or, use fiberglass insulation stuffed into plastic bags.
    • Seal gaps around chimneys and stove flues with a sheet-metal collar and caulk.
    • Insulate and apply weather stripping around the edges of the hatch or door that leads to the attic.
    • On cathedral ceilings, apply caulk in spots where drywall meets exposed beams.
    Where to Add Insulation
    Once you’ve air-sealed the attic, be sure insulation meets DOE standard. The standard for most of the U.S. is R-38. Call the Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy clearinghouse (800-363-3732) for the recommendation for your area.
    If you need to add more insulation on top of the old, use un-faced batts or loose fill. Owens Corning and Johns Manville make a batt encased in plastic for easy handling.
    You can also reduce heat loss by insulating over light fixtures in the rooms below your attic — provided you replace the standard recessed versions with fixtures rated “IC,” for insulated ceiling. To prevent airflow, buy IC fixtures that also have an air- and moisture-tight housing. They’re available from most major lighting companies. Halo also offers an airtight retrofit collar for its IC fixtures.
    Detecting Duct Leaks
    Leaky ductwork in a forced-air heating and cooling system creates several problems. A supply duct that leaks into an attic or crawl space pours cooled or heated air — and the money you paid for it — into the void. Leaky return ducts pull hot or cold attic or crawl space air into the system. Indeed, a duct that runs through the attic can pull in 140 Fair in summer, making the cooling system work that much harder. It also pulls in dust, moisture, mold, and other contaminates.
    Start by reconnecting any ducts that have fallen apart. Then hunt for holes in supply ducts by feeling for the air as it leaks out and seeing if a tissue clings to return ducts as air is sucked in. Use duct mastic (available in cans or caulking tubes) to seal small gaps. For larger ones, reinforce the mastic with fiberglass mesh tape. You can also use UL-181 aluminum tape — essentially professional duct tape. Just don’t use the cloth variety labeled duct tape, which really isn’t for ducts.
    Return and supply ducts should also be pressure-balanced for forced-air systems to work efficiently. Leaks upset that balance, and can drive heated or cooled air out of the house or pull outside air in. Unfortunately, sealing only some of the leaks can do the same thing. Have the system inspected by a pro when you’re done to be sure you didn’t miss any.
    After the ducts are sealed, be sure any that run through unconditioned crawl spaces, basements, or attics also are insulated. Insulating long runs of ductwork is best left to a contractor. But you can handle short runs yourself with foil-faced fiberglass duct insulation. Cover all sides and secure the insulation with a cable tie.
    Note: Have a pro perform a back-draft test before and after you work on the ducts.
    Getting Audited
    If your energy bill still seems too high, get a professional energy audit. Be sure it includes a blower-door test. Without it, the contractor can only guess at your energy problems. Essentially a large fan, a blower door pulls most of the air out of the house to pinpoint outside air leaking through holes and cracks. The technician locates the gaps, measures their size, and provides options for sealing them.
    A blower-door test costs about $100, though some contractors will do it for free if you ultimately choose them to do the sealing work. But it’s hard to find a company that performs this type of test. Contact your local utility, state energy office, weatherization contractors, and home inspectors for leads on finding someone in your area.
    Finally, don’t seal the foundation completely. A good weatherization contractor will seal it just enough to stop serious leaks without cutting off the air needed for combustion appliances, like furnaces, water heaters, fireplaces, ranges, and dryers.
    Other Ways to Save
    Once you have sealed the yawning chasms throughout your home, go after the details.
    • Replace single-pane windows with low-e units rated R-3 (also listed as U.40) or higher, says The Energy Expert and the U.S. Department of Energy. “You’ll cut 20 percent or more off your heating or cooling bills,” Lamb explains.
    • While leaks around windows bleed relatively little energy (except in exposed, windy areas), seal any obvious gaps. You’ll find the largest ones between the window frame and the rough opening in the framing of your home. Use expanding foam (sold in cans) for best results.
    • Invest in a set-back thermostat. You can slice your energy bill up to 15 percent simply by setting the temperature back 10 F for an eight-hour period.
    • Install wall insulation. When properly installed, cellulose and lightweight foam products reduce heat loss and air leaks.
    • Install attic fan and or Whole House Fan.
    • Replace lighting with CFL or LED
    • Replace old appliances and HVAC with energy efficient appliances.
    • Shade Southern and Western exposure during the summer (with trees or shades)
    Where To Find It:
    Energy Savers
    9420 Reseda Blvd., Unit 274
    Northridge, CA 91324
    847-274-3108
    http://www.energysavers2.com
    Jay Draiman

  10. Elizabeth says:

    Haha ^^ nice, is there a section to follow the RSS feed