Posts Tagged ‘energy’

2012-2013 long range weather forecast

Last winter was the fourth warmest for the contiguous 48 since record keeping began in 1895, with 24 states experiencing below-normal precipitation. In fact, California experienced its second driest winter ever. In only 10 states—chiefly across the nation’s midsection— was winter precipitation above normal.

The situation became critical this past spring and summer with broiling hot temperatures across much of the country and the most severe drought conditions the nation has seen in more than 50 years.

For the coming season, we’re predicting that winter will return to some – but not all – areas. We think it will be a “winter of contraries, as if Old Man Winter were cutting the country in half. The eastern half of the country will see plenty of cold and snow. The western half will experience relatively warm and dry condition. In other words, as in the political arena, the climate this winter will render us a nation divided.

We predict that real winter weather will return to areas from the Great Lakes into the Northeast. Most eastern states – as far south as the Gulf Coast – will see snowier than normal conditions and cooler temperatures.

We are “red flagging” February 12–15 and March 20–23 for major coastal storms along the Atlantic seaboard; storms bringing strong winds and heavy precipitation.

But on the other side of the country, winter will continue its hiatus for another year. The forecast for west of the Continental Divide – the Pacific Northwest, desert Southwest, Pacific Coast – calls for mild temperatures and below-normal precipitation.

Conserving Energy

About 54 percent of the energy used in homes goes into heating and cooling. Obviously, this is where you can make the biggest savings on energy costs.

Fortunately, there are many quick and inexpensive ways to save energy in your home. You don’t have to be a master mechanic or even a skilled do-it-yourselfer.

All it takes is a small amount of time, a few tools that you probably already own-and some products from your hardware or home center retailer.

Inside this document you will find information about:

  • Materials and Installation Techniques
  • Insulation
  • Storm Windows
  • Cold Weather Energy Savers
  • Hot Weather Energy Savers
  • Year-Round Energy Savers
  • Kitchen, Laundry and Bath
  • Other Living Areas

MATERIALS AND INSTALLATION TECHNIQUES

Thermostats

  • To save money on your heating bill, you may want to turn your thermostat back to 60 degrees or 55 degrees at night. A convenient way to be sure you do this each night is to install a clock thermostat. It automatically turns your thermostat down every night, then turns it up in the morning before you get up. You won’t be uncomfortable with the temperature-or with your heating bill.

   
   

Caulking and Weatherstripping

  • Caulking and weatherstripping come in a variety of qualities, costs, and configurations. You should buy the best quality materials available whenever possible. The more quality materials are the most durable and are the best money savers. They perform better and don’t need to be replaced as often. Check below for a brief description of the most commonly available materials.

Caulking Compounds

  • Not very durable but lowest in cost: oil-or resin-based.
  • More durable and more expensive: latex, butyl or polyvinyl.
  • Most durable and most expensive: elastomeric base.

Filler

  • Materials used to fill extra-wide cracks: expanding foam, glass fiber, caulking cotton. Apply caulking compound AFTER using filler.

Installation

  • Apply caulking outside around window and door frames (see first image at top) and wherever else two different materials or parts of the house meet. With a little practice, pushing the caulking gun instead of pulling it can result in a better, more professional looking caulking job.

Weatherstripping

  • Inexpensive, easy to install, not very durable: felt or foam strip.
  • More expensive, easy to install durable: molded vinyl (with or without various backings).
  • Most expensive, very difficult to install, excellent weather seal, durable: interlocking metal channels (see image below).

  • Apply weatherstripping around the perimeter of all exterior doors and on the inside of all window sashes.
  • During the weatherstripping process, check to see if the putty on your windows needs replacing. Cutting down on all drafts will make your house much more comfortable year round.
   

INSULATION

  • Several kinds of insulation are available to homeowners. Kinds that are easily installed by the do-it-yourselfer are batts, blankets, and loose fill. Some batts and blankets now come with a thin plastic wrap to prevent some of the discomfort that comes with handling insulation. Foamed-in-plastic is usually installed by a contractor because special equipment is used. If your house has a flat roof or a mansard roof, or if your attic or basement area is otherwise restricted, installing will be difficult and you may need to hire a contractor.

Batt or Blanket

  • This type of insulation is usually made of glass fiber or rock wool. Batts come in packs of several pieces cut to 4′ or 8′ lengths; blankets come in rolls of varying lengths. Both are sold in widths of 15″ or 23″ to fit conventional framing spaces and in thicknesses of 1″ to 7″. Batts and blankets are available with or without vapor barriers.

Loose Fill

  • Loose fill insulation is made from glass fiber, rock wool, treated cellulose, vermiculite, or perlite, and does not come with a vapor barrier. Loose fill tends to settle in time. Rock wool should meet Federal Specification HH-I-1030A.
  • Cellulose is made from recycled newspaper and has a high insulative value. Cellulose must be properly treated to be fire-resistant. Two specifications that certify that cellulose is fire-resistant are: Federal Specification HH-I-515C and Underwriters Laboratories Classification listing Type II 26 through 50.

Foam

  • You can purchase cellular plastic products as either prefoamed sheets or batts, or they may be foamed in place by contractors using specialized equipment. The insulating efficiency varies for foams made of different materials (polystyrene, polyurethane, urea-formaldehyde, and others). Discuss these types with your retailer to determine which is the best for you.
  • Foams possess other properties that may affect its long-term insulating value, such as moisture retention, shrinkage, spontaneous decomposition, and vermin resistance.
  • Foams also burn, producing smoke and poisonous gases such as carbon monoxide. You can reduce these hazards by following the recommended installation procedures for each type of foam. Foam that is properly installed has a higher insulating value.

INSTALLATION

Attics

  • To insulate an attic floor where there is no existing insulation, lay batts or blankets or pour loose fill between the joists. So that moisture from the living areas of your home does not penetrate the insulation and reduce its effectiveness, you must place a vapor barrier between the heated or air-conditioned part of your house and your attic.
  • Batts and blankets are available with a vapor barrier on one side. To install, place the vapor barrier face-down toward the heated or air-conditioned portion of your home. If you are using loose fill, you will have to install your own vapor barrier. Staple or tack a plastic sheet or polyethylene film under the area where you are planning to pour loose fill.
  • If some new insulation already exists and you are adding a layer of new insulation on top of the old, it is important that there be no vapor barrier between the new and the old. If you must use insulation with a vapor barrier, remove the barrier before installation; you can use a knife to remove the barrier. Place the insulation with this side down. Before purchasing the additional insulation you need, measure the thickness that your attic will accommodate. Additional batts or blankets may not fit! If you try to squeeze insulation in, you’ll reduce its effectiveness. Instead, add insulation with a higher R-value per inch.
  • Do not insulate on top of recessed lighting fixtures or heat-producing equipment. Keep the insulation at least 3″ away from the sides of these types of fixtures. Also, do not cover the eave vents with insulation. Be sure that there is sufficient attic ventilation to allow moisture to escape. There are special foam and plastic inserts that fit between the roof rafters to help insure proper ventilation.

Floors

  • To insulate the floor above your basement or crawl space, push batts or blankets between the floor joists from below with the vapor barrier facing up toward the heated or air conditioned part of your home. If there is no vapor barrier, install a plastic sheet against the underside of your floor (see image above).
  • To support the insulation, you can use insulation supports. These wire rods bend when you push them between the floor joists and they lock themselves into place. Another method is to lace wire back and forth under the insulation (see image above). Provide adequate ventilation below the floor in the crawl space to allow moisture to escape.

STORM WINDOWS

  • Storm windows vary widely in design, durability, ease of use and cost. They range from temporary plastic sheets to custom-made permanent installation, but basically there are two kinds: single and combination.

Single Storm Windows

  • Single storm windows can be made of plastic sheet, glass, or rigid plastic. Plastic sheet is fairly inexpensive initially, but it is easily damaged and must be replaced often. Single glass or rigid plastic is more durable and can be used year after year.

Combination Storm Windows

  • These installations consist of storm windows and screens and are intended to be fixed permanently over double-hung windows. Combination windows come in a variety of finishes and qualities. Shop around for good quality.

Installation

  • You can make and install your own single storm windows. For plastic sheets there are molded plastic strips, double sided tapes and wood strips to attach the plastic to the outer edge of the frame. Do-it-yourself aluminum molding kits and rigid plastic sheets and glass are available from your local hardware store or home center, if you want to make your own. Combination storm windows can be installed by a contractor who will do the measuring for you-or you can do the job yourself if you are handy.

COLD WEATHER ENERGY SAVERS

  • Keep drapes and shades open in sunny windows; close them at night.
  • An automatic garage door operator encourages you to shut the door quickly, thereby saving fuel-even in unheated garages-by preventing cold from reaching the inside walls.
  • Electric heat tapes on water pipes that run through unheated areas prevent heat loss from cooling or freezing.
  • Use a humidifier. Cooler indoor temperatures are more comfortable with the proper amount of humidity-about 40-50%.
  • Change furnace filters regularly. A dirty filter impedes air flow and makes your furnace work longer and harder. Check the filter at least once a month.
  • Be sure to keep the damper closed on your fireplace when it’s not in use. Consider installing a glass-door fireplace to keep heat from escaping up the chimney.
  • Use portable electric heaters for seldom-used rooms or to warm up part of a large, cold room.

  • Clean air conditioning filters regularly. Replace immediately when worn out. Keep coils or fins of air-conditioning units free of dust, lint, etc.
  • Deflect daytime sun with awnings on windows or draw draperies and pull shades on sunny windows.
  • Use an attic ventilating fan instead of air conditioning. They do a remarkably good job of keeping air circulating. A 1,400-square-foot attic should have at least 5 square feet of ventilation.
  • Install a turbine ventilator on the roof to pull hot air out of the attic.
  • Run air conditioners only on really hot days.
  • Are you using more light in certain situations than is needed? Each watt of lighting requires the expenditure of 1/2 watt of air-conditioning power.
  • Combine circulating fans with room air conditioners for best air distribution throughout the house.

YEAR-ROUND ENERGY SAVERS

  • Turn off furnace pilot lights during the summer, but check with the gas company first.
  • Use fluorescent lights where possible. A 25-watt fluorescent will provide light equal to a 100-watt incandescent.
  • Replace leaky faucets; repair all water-wasting fixtures. A dripping hot water faucet makes a hot water heater keep working.
  • Utilize working shutters, interior or exterior, to control heat gain or loss.
  • Close off unused rooms.

KITCHEN, LAUNDRY, AND BATH

  • Insulate your hot water storage tank and piping. Kits are available.
  • Clean the heat reflector below the hot water heating element. It will reflect heat better.
  • Install a flow-restrictor pipe to the shower head. This easy-to-install device can save a considerable amount of hot water. It’s inexpensive, threads into the pipe and restricts the flow of water by several gallons of water per minute.
  • Don’t overload appliances that use hot water, such as clothes and dishwashers. The same rule applies to clothes dryers; use drying racks or clotheslines when possible.
  • Use warm or cold water (rather than hot) whenever possible.
  • Keep the thermostat on the hot water heater at the lowest setting possible to maintain a comfortable water temperature.
  • Try to use high-energy appliances-washer, dryer, electric ovens-in non-peak periods (early morning or late evening).
  • Try energy-efficient cooking-flat-bottom pans, clean burner reflectors, pressure cooker, preparing several foods in the oven at the same time; use small appliances for small cooking jobs.
  • Check energy efficient ratings (EER) of appliances and buy the most efficient-10 rating is excellent, 8 or 9 is good.

OTHER LIVING AREAS

  • Install a timer to control the length of time outdoor lights are used, even for security lights.
  • Remember to turn off shop lights, soldering irons and all bench heating devices as quickly as possible.
  • Take advantage of color if reroofing. Darker colors that absorb more light should be used in cold climates; light colors that reflect light should be used in moderate and warm climates.
  • Check windows and frames-if loose, install new window channels or complete new windows.
  • Evaluate doors-are they weather-tight? If you don’t have or want storm doors, are entrance doors insulated? Solid doors should have an insulated core; glass panels in doors should be insulated glass.
  • Seal and insulate pipes and ductwork.

Cheap ways to keep warm

1.       Close all of your windows properly. This includes making sure storm windows are installed and closed in place if you have them. Windows should be latched. Open them during the day if the outside temperature is higher than the inside.

2.       Keep your windows air-tight. You may want to purchase removable window-caulk or plastic to better seal them. At a minimum, stuff a towel or shirt in front of any noticeable leaks.

3.       Use cheap clear shower curtains over the windows that receive sun light. This will keep the cold air out, and the warmth from the sun will heat your house without cold air coming in. You could also cover your windows with clear plastic sheets and make it airtight.

4.       Seal your doors. Check around the door frame and also under the door. You may want to buy weather stripping or a door sweep. Again, at minimum, make a draft dodger or stuff a towel at the bottom of the door.

5.       Use smaller rooms. If, for example, you have a bedroom that is much smaller than your living room you could choose to use it as your bed-sitting room.

6.       Close off any un-used rooms. The closed door makes that room another barrier between you and the frigid outdoors. It also stops air from circulating as much, which reduces heat loss. Also, home improvement stores sell magnetic register covers to ‘shut off’ forced air furnace registers in unused rooms. That way when the heater does click on, only the registers in the rooms you use will pump out heat. Makes for more efficient use of the heater. Check that all heat registers are adjusted open, especially where plumbing pipes might freeze. Unblock cold air returns in heated rooms [they may be blocked with furniture or rug] so heat can circulate efficiently.

7.       Put up curtains. A set of heavy curtains can block a draft. Open them when the sun is shining and close them when it’s not.

8.       Put down a rug or carpet.

9.       Add insulation in the attic and the crawl space.

10.   Exercise; get in shape. 20 minutes of vigorous exercise can warm you up and keep you warm well after the exercise session. And your healthy body is generally more tolerant of the cold.

11.   Dress warmly. A hat is your number one friend at a time like this. A large percentage of body heat loss occurs in the head region (This is a myth: heat lost from the head is proportionate to the surface area [roughly 10%]), so it is crucial to keep your head covered. A turtleneck sweater can work wonders. Dress in layers, especially with wool or cotton clothing. Don’t wear your winter coat or you will have nothing else to put on when you go outside. When you are sitting still put on a blanket.

12.   Tights. If you still get cold legs then you could buy a 2 pack of black tights from your local shop, make sure they are opaques. Wear one or more pairs over each other under your clothes, this will provide your body with another layer of clothing to trap warm air in. It is ok for men to do this as well.

13.   Cook. Steam will raise the moisture level in your home, making the air more dense, and it uses more energy to heat humid air. Limit cooking that gives off steam, as this will increase the humidity in the air and make your house damp. Make cookies or a pie instead, as your oven will help to dry the air and heat the kitchen. The kitchen will be warm while you are cooking, and then you can have a great home cooked meal too!

14.   Drink warm beverages. Make a cup of tea or coffee. Sip some warm broth.

15.   Light a candle. A candle/candles can produce a lot of heat, just be mindful of where they are placed and do not leave them unattended. A trip to most any grocery store or discount store can provide you with a number of candles cheap!

16.   Find a friend or pet to snuggle with. The living body of any warm-blooded being is a furnace unto itself.

17.   Be active. Moving around produces body heat! The more you are active, the better your blood circulation will be. This will mean that hot blood gets to your fingers and toes, keeping them warm.

18.   Evaluate and Plan. Consider how you got yourself into this position. If you are suffering a cold house due to an energy blackout, the above tips will help you get through this short term emergency. But if you are living with a non-working heater because you don’t have enough money to pay for heat repairs, you will need to start saving money in the bank for exactly this type of emergency. Pay yourself first so that you can get through any and all emergencies as they arise. Don’t leave yourself out in the cold.

19.   Let as much sun hit your house as possible. Check for obstructions (e.g. plants,sheds )to the sun’s light reaching your house and remove items leaning against walls etc. on the sunny side ( ideally put them back again at night for additional insulation ). One note though, if your home is in an exposed location you will have to balance the wind/sun break effect to suit.

20.   Sit on a 50 watt heating pad. Rather than heating the whole house or room, sit on a low wattage heating pad.[Warning! Safety instructions for heating pads say not to do this.–.]

21.   Buy a thick bathrobe or dressing gown. Think of it as a big, fluffy blanket with sleeves. They are very warm and comfortable, and you can even sleep in them!

22.   Go visiting. Purposefully spend time in a location that is heated at no cost to you: library, church, a friend’s house.

23.   Get a dehumidifier…dehumidifiers are designed to remove the moisture from the air not to cool…the way they remove this moisture is to reheat the air to further dry it after it releases its moisture. Basically, the room temperature humid air enters the dehumidifier where it is cooled to its dew point which results in its releasing its moisture. This dried air is then heated by the combination of latent heat of condensation, which is a natural result of the process, and by circulating through the condenser where heat is exchanged from it to the air. The result is the air going back into the room will be slightly warmer than it was going in, usually around 2 to 5 degrees.

Keeping warm

                 

  1. Fool the eye: Sometimes warmth is a matter of perception. Warm colors and textures make you feel warmer so change out your decor. Try a throw so you can snuggle under it.
  2. Cut a rug: Cover up your bare floors with a rug. 
  3.  Bake something: Stews, roasts, casseroles and soups are made    for     the cold weather because they cook at low temperatures for a long period of time and, of course, they warm you up going down.
  4. Drink something: Wrap your hands around a warm mug of tea, cocoa or coffee.
  5. Let the sun in: Open curtains and blinds during the day.
  6. Change your bedding: Switch to flannel sheets, a down comforter, use extra blankets.
  7. Clean the house: Not only will your house be cleaner but activity will get your blood pumping.
  8. Cover your head: It sounds silly but wearing a hat (and socks) to bed at night, even if the rest of you is clad in skimpy clothing, will keep you warm.
  9. It’s muggy in here: Use a humidifier. Humid air feels warmer. No humidifier? Open the bathroom door while you’re showering.
  10. Reverse the fan: We’ve heard that, since heat rises, running your ceiling fan in reverse will push the warm air back down to the ground.
  11. Do your laundry: Nothing warms you up like clothing straight from the dryer.
  12. It’s drafty in here: Block drafts with weather stripping, a rolled up towel or a draft stopper.
  13. It takes two: Snuggle up with your friends, or your significant other.
  14. Something old fashioned: Try a hot water bottle or, before you get into bed, running a hot pan over your sheets. Bags of rice or dried beans, warmed in the microwave, are another option

 

Plumbing Tips for your home….

These plumbing tips will help you keep your pipes and home plumbing faucets and fixtures in good working order.

Turn Valves On and Off
Turn main water supply and fixture valves on and off periodically to make sure they don’t get stuck. You want to be sure you’re never in the position of not being able to turn your water supply off during an emergency or home plumbing repair.

Repair Leaking Faucets
Leaking faucets are not only a nuisance, they can also cause gallons of water to be wasted over time. Leaking faucets with washer fittings can be fixed by replacing the washer. Faucets without washers may require that you consult an installation manual or a specialist at a home plumbing store.

Inspect Your Septic Tank Periodically
This plumbing tip requires that you check your septic tank every three to five years to determine the level of scum and solids on the surface of the tank. The tank should be cleaned if the level of scum exceeds one half of the depth of the water in the tank.

Inspect Pipes Annually
You should examine your distribution and drainage pipes for signs of leaks each year. You may find clues that your pipes are leaking along the length of the pipe or around fittings or fixtures. Signs of leaks may include rust, corrosion, and mineral deposits.

You’ll also want to check the insulation of your hot water pipes periodically and replace any open or damaged areas of insulation. Another plumbing tip includes replacing aerators on faucets several times each year.

These plumbing tips will put you on your way to maintaining your home’s plumbing for years to come.

Five Easy Projects to Cut Energy Expenditures

Chances are, when you open your monthly utility statements, you’re witnessing energy costs doubling and even tripling at the height of the season. Many homes, particularly those built more than 10 years ago, do not feature the latest energy-saving techniques and products. By spending just a few dollars and doing some simple projects, you can save energy – and significant amounts of money. Here are five fast fixes to help you start saving:

  • Lower Your Lighting Costs –
    Start with this easy task: Replace current light bulbs with energy-saving compact fluorescent (CFL) bulbs. They screw in just like standard bulbs, but use a fourth of the energy and last up to 10 times longer. An 18-watt CFL bulb provides as much light as a 75-watt standard light bulb. Average savings: $10 – $50 per year

  • Taming the Toilet –
    A constantly-running toilet can use up to 8,000 gallons of water each year. Fix the problem by installing a toilet repair kit that features a new valve, flapper and other devices that will conserve water. Average Savings: $25 – $100 per year

  • Fix Leaky Fixtures –
    Aside from causing that annoying “drip,” leaky faucets can also cause a spike in your water bill. Replacing the aerator and rubber washer will cost you pennies yet save you dollars in the long run. As for the showerhead, consider installing a flow-restricting model – a family of four can conserve 10,000 gallons of water per year going this route. Average Savings: $100 – $300 per year
  • Hot Water Help –
    Your water heater may be working harder than it needs to, costing you precious dollars. Reduce the temperature on the unit to about 120 degrees – the water doesn’t need to be any hotter. If the unit is older than 12 years, you may want to look into replacing it with a new, more energy-efficient model. Average Savings: $20 – $50 per year

  • Install a Programmable Thermostat –
    Installing a programmable thermostat can significantly reduce energy costs, especially in the winter and summer months. Programmable models allow you to automatically adjust the temperature throughout the day, creating a specific energy-saving ‘program’ for weekdays and weekends. Some models even allow you to set preferences on the hour for each day of the week. Average Savings: $125 – $350 per year and up

 

Follow these simple tips and you’ll see savings in no time.

Heat-Saving Items

It has been estimated that 90 percent of the heat generated by a conventional masonry fireplace goes up the chimney. To help make fireplaces more energy efficient, accessory items recover lost heat and return it to the room.

HEAT-RECOVERY SYSTEMS

One type of heat-recovery system looks like a glass fireplace enclosure but actually generates heat through convection. A mini radiator in the hood of the enclosure and a heat exchanger behind and above the fire can generate 10,000 BTUs of heat every hour. Further, heat transferred through the unit’s double paned glass doors and frame develops an additional 5,000 BTUs each hour. It requires no electricity or gas for operation and is an easy do-it-yourself installation.

Another type of recovery system combines a grate and heat exchanger to re-circulate fireplace heat back into the room. It can be adjusted to fit standard size fireplace openings. These units can also be used with glass enclosures.

Heating Requirements
Estimated Wattage Required To Raise Room Temperature One Degree*
Floor Area Sq. Ft. Room Conditions
A B C
50 7 10 36
100 14 20 69
150 22 30 103
200 29 40 138
250 36 50 172
300 43 60 204
350 50 70 241
400 57 80 275
450 65 90 310
500 72 100 344
ROOM CONDITIONS (based on 8 ft. ceiling)
(A) Interior Room-little or no outside exposure.
(B) Room with average door and window area-well insulated.
(C) Isolated Rooms-cabins, watch houses-no insulation.
*Because of varying climate, building and insulation conditions, this chart is intended only as a guide to heating requirements.

TUBE GRATES

Tube grates are made of a series of U-shaped tubes fastened together; they replace conventional grates and andirons. The fire is built on the lower curve of the tube grate, just as it would be built in a standard grate or on andirons.

The purpose of the tube grate is to pull room air into the bottom tube opening, move it around and over the fire-warming the air as it goes-and shoot it back into the room. This is accomplished through gravity or with an electric motor to force the warm air back into the room. It should keep the room air from being drawn up the chimney and, when combined with glass doors, the tube grate can be quite effective.

HEAT EXTRACTORS

Heat extractors are made for both fireplaces and wood-burning stoves, and both kinds operate on much the same principle. Their purpose is to extract additional heat from flue gases beyond what would normally come from the stovepipe or chimney.

Some operate naturally using radiation or convection; others have an electric blower to force out more heat.

Since it must be mounted on the stovepipe or chimney, installing a heat extractor on an existing fireplace may be a major undertaking, unless the fireplace has an exposed chimney.

A heat extractor can pull a tremendous amount of heat from a fireplace chimney, but as it does so it cools the flue gases and reduces the effectiveness of the draft. Since this could cause smoking in a fireplace, it would be wise to put a good heat extractor on a chimney with more capacity than is necessary for the size of the fireplace.

The fact that heat extractors cool the flue gases may cause them to work against the efficiency of a good wood-burning stove. As the flue gases cool, combustion is reduced and the stove itself gives off less heat.

Ease of cleaning a heat extractor is another factor. It collects deposits from wood smoke which affect the unit’s efficiency. Some extractors have a removable plate that allows easy access for cleaning the tubes; others require partial disassembly, which can be inconvenient and messy.

FIREPLACE INSERTS

Fireplace inserts are airtight fireboxes that can be inserted into existing fireplaces to provide some of the advantages of a wood-burning stove. Most draw air from the room, circulate it around the insert and return warmed air to the room. Some units have blowers to help distribute the heat.

Some fireplace inserts have a UL listing for use in factory built fireplaces. These zero clearance inserts can extend to the fireplace facing.

These units are specified for use with individual manufacturer models. Manufacturer literature should be checked for correct use.

Gas fireplace inserts are similar to un-vented gas heaters. They can be used in masonry fireplaces as infrared burners to radiate heat. Quality features include oxygen depletion sensor and flame-failure gas shutoff.

GLASS ENCLOSURES

Glass enclosures also help improve fireplace performance. They control air intake, which makes the wood burn more slowly and retains more heat in the firebox; at the same time, the fireplace pulls less warm air from the house.

Glass enclosures can also mean the fire can be left unattended. With doors shut, the fire safely extinguishes itself. The glass doors also permit a full, clear view of the fire while they keep smoke and sparks out of the room.

Most enclosures have a built-in draft at the base that directs air to the bottom of the fireplace opening so homeowners can easily start and control the fire.

Glass enclosures, which fit most standard size fireplaces, mount securely against the face of the fire place, overlapping the opening. In many cases, the enclosure comes fully assembled so the homeowner can install it in minutes.

Other features available on some models include:

  • Safety locks to ensure that the doors will not open accidentally from the impact of a falling log or gusty downdraft.
  • Removable doors for easy cleaning.
  • Permanently attached curtain screen.
  • Outside side-pull handles to eliminate reaching into the heat of the fire to close the doors.
  • Special insert to adapt the enclosure to an arched fireplace.
  • Base risers to elevate the enclosure to fit nonstandard fireplaces.

Heating, Cooling and Energy Efficiency

Heat must be generated from a fuel source-coal, wood, electricity, gas, etc. It must then be transferred to the objects or areas to be heated. This happens in a combination of three ways, with one predominating.

Conduction heat moves from warmer to cooler areas through another material, such as glass or metal. Convection heat moves as part of another substance, such as air or water. Radiation energy is collected and emitted as heat from one surface to be absorbed by another, such as from a hot stove surface to a human being.

Cooling a home involves drawing warm air outside and dissipating it. Many consumers purchase alternate heating appliances-including wood-burning stoves, kerosene heaters and electric space heaters-to supplement their central heating system. Homeowners may also use zone heating, in which unused portions of the home are shut off and only the spaces in use are heated.

Depending on climate and energy costs for the central system, many homeowners have found that alternate heating methods do provide substantial savings on their energy costs.

Fireplaces and wood-burning stoves are common alternate heat sources, but their energy efficiency must be considered. Energy efficiency is defined as the percentage of energy generated by a heat source that is converted into usable heat.

According to The Wood-burners Encyclopedia, stoves average 40-65 percent energy efficiency. Standard masonry fireplaces average 5 to 15 percent energy efficiency when burning, and -5- (a 5 percent heat loss)10 percent energy efficiency if the fire is dying out and the damper is open.

More recent developments in fireplace construction are improving these energy efficiency ratings. In addition, there are heat-recovery items such as heat extractors, heat exchangers and glass enclosures that aid energy efficiency.

Likewise, in the summer, consumers buy alternate cooling methods such as floor and window fans, ventilators and attic fans to supplement or reduce the burden on central air conditioning.

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