Welcome To Our 'Homes That Perform' Blog

Get The 'Biggest Bang For Your Buck' When Adding Insulation

Posted by John Sims on Wed, Oct, 04, 2017 @ 11:10 AM

If you decide to add insulation this fall, focus on your attic or roof line and thenBiggest_Bang.png reducing air leakage in the basement and/or crawlspace. Especially, where your foundation meets your floor joist.

Access to your walls is not really a good option because you're not going to remove the drywall unless you're doing some remodeling. If you're planning to remove your siding and re-side the house, there are some measures you may want to consider at that time to improve the insulation.  

REMINDER: R Value – Fact or Faulty Myth R-Value in the lab just doesn’t cut it in the field when it comes to the real-world. Most consumers are familiar with the term but have no concrete understanding what it really means other than it has to do with insulation and energy efficiency. The problem is the understanding stops there and crowds out the important information and science necessary to realize/achieve the results your hoope for. Unfortunately, in the construction world r-value is the “pink” standard.

The problem IS "R-values can be misleading! To use a quote from an ultra energy-efficiency engineer, “if both insulation materials have the same R-value, they should perform the same,”  ask yourself this question, “would you rather pour hot coffee (which is served at around 180 degrees) over your lap into a thin foam cup or into 1″ of fiberglass insulation (which is about the thickness of your furnace filter)?” Does one inch of foam truly perform the same as one inch of fiberglass? No! You get the idea!

All insulation materials (except for urethane foam) are going to test out at between R-3 and R-4 per inch. In fact, if air can penetrate the building materials(like fiberglass) the effective R-Value is ZERO, no matter how deep you stack it.

So before you add rolls of fiberglass insulation or blow more cellulose in your attic, make sure you seal any air penetrations in your attic floor

To get the 'biggest bang for your buck' when adding insulation, focus on your attic or roof line and then reducing air leakage in the basement and/or crawlspace. Especially, where your foundation meets your floor joist.

Hope that helps!

 

Topics: Energy Efficiency Tips, Attic Insulation, Basement Insulation

Homeowners Will Tolerate Problems Because Of...

Posted by John Sims on Fri, Aug, 11, 2017 @ 13:08 PM

...Their Fear of Learning How Things Work.Questions.jpg

I hope you don't take that the wrong way. Hopefully, you'll see why we stress educating you on how things work in the most credible way possible so you can take the steps to solve the problems.

There's a lot more to being an HVAC contractor than repairing, maintaining and replacing furnaces and air conditioners.

Once you discover how things work, you can make better decisions on solving the problems you may be living with. Hey, you spend 90% of your time is spent in your home!

Here's some really good information from Allison Bailes, over at Energyguard wrote a great article a while back that explains some basics of Building Science. The following is an introduction to the content:how some people will tolerate things like a dripping faucet because of their fear of learning how it works.

Three Fundamental Rules for Houses

Most of us live in some kind of building, but how many actually know how buildings work? You might think that anyone who works on houses knows how houses work, but you’d be wrong. Builders and trade contractors know their part of building and repairing homes, but most lack knowledge of the fundamentals of building science.

The good thing is, it’s not rocket science. Yeah, you can study engineering or physics and go as far down the rabbit hole with this stuff as you want, but I’m going to boil it all down to three fundamental rules for you.

  1. A house is a system

Put another way, this could be called the-hip-bone’s-connected-to-the-thigh-bone rule, and it’s the first thing that a lot of people who work on houses don’t grasp. A house is a system built out of a lot of interacting components: framing, electrical, plumbing, HVAC…, each with its associated trade contractor. Mostly, the trade contractors look at a house with blinders on; they see what affects their work and not much else.

In terms of how a house performs, we can break it down into weather shell, building enclosure, and mechanical systems. The weather shell keeps the elements out but isn’t usually the boundary between conditioned and unconditioned spaces. That would be the building enclosure (also known as building envelope or thermal envelope), which comprises (i) a continuous air barrier, (ii) insulation that’s right up against the air barrier (or is the air barrier, like spray foam), and (iii) water and vapor control layers. There are many ways that the building enclosure gets compromised, and even spray foam insulation isn't a panacea.

Mechanical systems have a huge impact on how a home performs. We know they increase the temperature difference between inside and out, but did you know that they also can create a big difference in moisture content and air pressure between inside and out? As you’ll see in the last rule below, those things can have a huge effect on comfort, durability, healthfulness, and efficiency. For best performance, you want heating and cooling systems that are properly sized and have distributions systems that are designed and installed for optimal efficiency.

If you want to read the rest of the article for the rest where he covers additional topics:

  1. Build for your climate
  1. Control the flow of moisture, heat, and air

This is the kind of information you'll need if you're going to make home improvement investments related to energy efficiency, comfort and indoor air quality.

 

 

 

Topics: Energy Efficiency Tips, Building Science, Air Flow

Time For Programming Your Thermostat For Cooling Season

Posted by John Sims on Wed, May, 31, 2017 @ 14:05 PM

If you haven’t already done so, now is the time to set your programmable thermostat-2-carrier-2.gifthermostat with your summer temperature cooling schedules. Take a little time now to pre-program your thermostat to automatically adjust comfort levels in the home during the cooling season.

If you don’t already have a programmable thermostat, upgrading to a programmable model can be done inexpensivley. When used properly, it can make a nice difference in your heating and cooling energy consumption.

There Are 4 Settings (remember it will only 'kick on' your system if the temperature in your home is higher than the setting):

  1. Before you wake up - program temperatures to adjust about 15 minutes before you wake up for optimal efficiency and comfort.
  2. When you're at work - set temperatures to rise 10 to 15 degrees
  3. Before you return home - about 15 minutes before you get home, set the thermostat to return to the level you feel comfortable
  4. After bedtime - set the temperature to a higher temperature

Now I realize there are many more scenarios to people's lifestyle. Your family maybe home during the day, so #2, and #3 don't apply.

According to ENERGY STAR, when used correctly, a programmable thermostat could save you approximately $180 each year.

Here's some additional information from their website:

  1. Keep the temperature set at its energy savings set-points for long periods of time (at least eight hours), for example, during the day, when no one is at home, and through the night, after bedtime.
  2. All thermostats let you temporarily make an area warmer or cooler, without erasing the pre-set programming. This override is cancelled automatically at the next program period. You use more energy (and end up paying more on energy bills) if you consistently “hold” or over-ride the pre-programmed settings.
  3. Units typically have two types of hold features: (a) hold/permanent/vacation; (b) temporary. Avoid using the hold/permanent/vacation feature to manage day to day temperature settings. “Hold” or “vacation” features are best when you're planning to be away for an extended period. Set this feature at a constant, efficient temperature (i.e. several degrees warmer temperature in summer, several degrees cooler during winter), when going away for the weekend or on vacation. You'll waste energy and money if you leave the “hold” feature at the comfort setting while you're away.
  4. Cranking your unit up to 90 degrees or down to 40 degrees, for example, will not heat or cool your house any faster. Most thermostats begin to heat or cool at a set time, to reach setpoint temperatures sometime thereafter. Units with adaptive (smart/intelligent) recovery features are an exception to this rule - Adaptive recovery units are constantly calculating the amount of time required to heat or cool the house, so that it reaches that temperature when the homeowner programmed it. By "examining" the performance of the past few days the thermostat can keep track of the seasons. In this way, your house is always at the comfort levels when occupied, but saving the most energy when unoccupied.
  5. Many homes use just one thermostat to control the whole house. If your home has multiple heating or cooling zones, you'll need a programmed setback thermostat for each zone to maximize comfort, convenience and energy savings throughout the house.
  6. If your programmable thermostat runs on batteries, don't forget to change the batteries each year. Some units will indicate when batteries must be changed.

Here's a little secret if you don't like the idea of having to change the setting of your programmable thermostat. If you decide to build a new home and you get your hands on the right information before you start, you can build an Ultra Energy Efficient Home where you can set the thermostat one time and FORGET it. The only thing you'd have to do is switch over from cooling to heat and back. Check out 'Building Science' and 'Energy Efficient Solutions' posts in the right hand column. It's a great place to start

 

Topics: Energy Efficiency Tips, Cooling, Comfort, Thermostat

Energy Efficient Solutions - "Air Leakage" Rating For Windows

Posted by John Sims on Fri, Jun, 03, 2016 @ 11:06 AM

Air Leakage Makes A Huge Impact On Both Comfort and Energy-Efficiency.Windows_Savings_Air_Leakage.png

When it comes the key elements when buying new windows, the final term we will cover is Air Leakage(AL) rating. Keeping heated or cooled air inside your home and the heat of summer or the frigid cold of winter outside your home is critical. There are many factors. Even though at Sims Heating And Cooling we service and install the systems the heat, cool, and clean the air in your home, we need an understanding about the other systems that make up the home; one system impacts the other.

What homeowners don't realize is the air leakage problem of most homes. To quote Chris Mathis of Mathis Consulting, “If you put together all the tiny holes – from electrical and plumbing penetrations to cracks around windows, doors, fireplaces and other joints – they would add up to about 15 square feet on average. This is like having a 3 X 5-foot open window all year long!” 
That's not a good thing. If you feel air coming in somewhere you can count on the same amount going out.

alani.gif

(Image used by permission from Efficient Windows Collaborative)

So when considering replacement windows make sure they have a rating with a low air infiltration rate 

NFRC has an Air Leakage (AL) rating. As they state on their website: Heat loss and gain occur by infiltration through cracks in the window assembly. It is indicated by an air leakage rating (AL) expressed as the equivalent cubic feet of air passing through a square foot of window area. The lower the AL, the less air will pass through cracks in the window assembly. At this time, the AL is optional among NFRC ratings. For code compliance purposes, however, air infiltration is often tested in accordance with the North American Fenestration Standard (NAFS), which produces similar results to the NFRC air leakage rating.
Select windows with an AL of 0.30 or less (units are cfm/sq ft).

Many claim that their windows are airtight, make sure they have been tested in independent labs that measure air infiltration rates and assurance that your new windows are an airtight investment. the sashes and mainframe, feature a triple weather-strip barrier that provides 50% more protection against winter’s worst weather.

I know this may sound like it's over your head, it's not. Windows can be very confusing and misleading when it comes to making an investment in them. Battle Creek area homeowners are looking for information to clear through the clutter and confusion.

We Hope This Helps! If you'd like to speak to someone here about you comfort problems or other solutions to consider please email to give us a call.

Topics: Energy Efficiency Tips, Air Leakage, Building Science, Windows

Energy Efficiency Solutions: Two More 'Window' Terms

Posted by John Sims on Tue, May, 31, 2016 @ 12:05 PM

What Is Visible Transmittance (VT) and Condensation Resistance (CR) Windows_VT_CR.pngTerms For Window Ratings?

Obviously we couldn't put these long names in the title of the article. We believe having the best information is more helpful, even if it seems like "TMI (Too Much Information)"

We assume the goal for homeowners is to have this type of information so you can be on solid footing when it comes to making the best decisions related to home improvement, or energy efficiency upgrades.

Windows do impact the sizing of your HVAC system. They generally represent the heating or cooling load.

So let's 'nail down' two more terms:

When considering high-performance replacement windows, (VT) and (CR)are the other two rating terms on the NFRC label you need to understand.

They stand for Visible Transmittance(VT) and Condensation Resistance (CR)

Here's a quick explanation.

Visible Transmittance (VT) measures the amount of light that passes through a window. 
The NFRC's VT is a whole window rating and includes the impact of the frame which does not transmit any visible light. While VT theoretically varies between 0 and 1, most values among double- and triple-pane windows are between 0.30 and 0.70. Clear glass has a VT of .90; meaning that it admits 90 percent of visible light. Add multiple panes and low-e coatings and that number starts to go down.

What to look for: To maintain good light transmittance and visibility, choose glass with a VT rating of .6 or above, which will appear clear to the naked eye. Lower VT indicates tinted windows which cut down on solar heat gain but will also reduce visibility, especially at night.
The higher the VT, the more light is transmitted. A high VT is desirable to maximize daylight. Select windows with a higher VT to maximize daylight and view.

vtani.gif

(Image used by permission from Efficient Windows Collaborative)

Condensation Resistance (CR) measures how well a window resists the formation of condensation on the inside surface. CR is expressed as a number between 1 and 100. The higher the number, the better a product is able to resist condensation. CR is meant to compare products and their potential for condensation formation. CR is an optional rating on the NFRC label.

Homeowners like you are doing research at a record pace. Empowering homeowners to get the  'Biggest Bang For The Buck'!

Topics: Energy Efficiency Tips, Energy Efficient Solutions, Building Science, Windows

Energy Efficiency Solutions: "Solar Heat Gain Coefficient" of Windows

Posted by John Sims on Tue, May, 24, 2016 @ 10:05 AM

When Considering High-performance Windows, Solar Heat Gain Windows_Savings_Solar_Heat.pngCoefficient(SHGC) is Another Important Term.

If the goal for homeowners is to have, what we at Sims Heating and Cooling call a "Home That Performs", it's critical to be on solid footing when it comes to making the best decisions related to home improvement or energy efficiency upgrades. Windows do impact the sizing of your HVAC system. They generally represent the load, or the amount of BTU's to maintain comfort in the Winter.

So let's 'nail down' another term:

What it is: Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC) measures the amount of the sun's heat that passes through a glazing system.

What to look for: Lower numbers are best for warmer climates where cooling costs dominate, while higher numbers mean more of the sun's heat will radiate indoors, for low solar heat gain, look for numbers in the .40 range; for high heat gain, look for .70 and above.

In technical terms:
SHGC is the fraction of incident solar radiation admitted through a window, both directly transmitted and absorbed and subsequently released inward. It's expressed as a number between 0 and 1. The lower a window's solar heat gain coefficient, the less solar heat it transmits.

shgani.gif

(Image used by permission from Efficient Windows Collaborative)

This is a number compares amount of solar heat that reaches the window with the amount that gets through to the inside. In a hot climate, or in a cold climate on west-facing windows with rooms that tend to overheat in low-angle afternoon sun, less solar heat gain is generally good, and this number should be low. In cold climates on south-facing walls, a higher solar-heat-gain number is better — this supports "passive solar" heating. In this situation, an SHGC value of 0.42 to 0.63 is desirable, and higher is better. (In hot climates, look for values as low as 0.25.) 
Unfortunately, due to the different low-e coatings used, higher SHGC values generally also come with somewhat higher U-factors. There are tradeoffs.

The nationally recognized rating method by the National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC) is for the whole window, including the effects of the frame. Alternately, the center-of-glass SHGC is sometimes referenced, which describes the effect of the glazing alone. Whole window SHGC is lower than glass-only SHGC, and is generally below 0.8. 
Solar heat gain can provide free heat in the winter but can also lead to overheating in the summer. 
In other words, to get more solar heat gain you have to give up some insulation value. In mostly heating climates like Michiganinsulation value (U-Factor) is a greater priority.

Listen To Couple Of Industry Experts Explain: 

 

Take Our Online 'Comfort Consultation' CLICK HERE.

 

 

Topics: Energy Efficiency Tips, Comfort, Windows, HVAC Sizing

Energy Efficiency Solutions: "U - Factor" of Windows

Posted by John Sims on Thu, May, 19, 2016 @ 11:05 AM

When Considering High-Performance Replacement Windows, U-Factor(U-Windows_Savings_U_Factor.pngValue) Is A Term You Need To Understand.

Every industry has terminology that can be confusing to the buyer. We are trying to cover the ones that empower homeowners to gather the information to make the best buying decision for them. When it comes to windows U-Factor is one of them.

What it is: U-Factor(U-Value) measures a glazing system's insulating ability. The lower the U-Factor(expressed as a number between 0-1) the better the insulation.
What to look for: Regardless of whether you live in a heating or a cooling climate, go for windows with the lowest U-Factor you can afford.

The illustration represents winter conditions. It would be the opposite in summer. 

uvalueani.gif(Image used by permission from Efficient Windows Collaborative)

In technical terms: Measure of the heat conducted through a given product or material—the number of British thermal units (Btus) of heat that move through a square foot of the material in one hour for every 1 degree Fahrenheit difference in temperature across the material (Btu/ft2°F hr). U-factor is the inverse of R-value.
The rate of heat loss is indicated in terms of the U-factor (U-value) of a window  assembly. The lower the U-factor, the greater a window's resistance to heat flow and the better its insulating properties.

The nationally recognized rating method by the National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC) is for the whole window, including glazing, frame and spacers. Center-of-glass U-factor is also sometimes referenced, and describes the performance of the glazing alone without the effects of the frame. For most energy efficient windows, the whole window U-factor is higher than the center-of-glass U-factor.
High-performance double-pane windows can have U-factors of 0.30 or lower, while some triple-pane windows can achieve U-factors as low as 0.15.
Low U-Factors are most important in heating dominated climates(Michigan), although they are also beneficial in cooling dominated climates.

A Common Question: What is the difference between U-factor and R-value?
While the U-factor is used to express the insulation value of windows, R-value is used for insulation in most other parts of the building envelope (walls, floors, roofs). To compare R-value and U-factor, divide 1 by the U-factor number, E.g.: a 0.25 U-factor equals a 1/0.25 = 4 R-value.

Listen To Chris Mathis, President of MC Squared:

 Hope This Helps!

 

Topics: Energy Efficiency Tips, Energy Efficient Solutions, Building Science, Windows

Energy Efficiency Solutions: Low - E Windows

Posted by John Sims on Mon, May, 16, 2016 @ 14:05 PM

High Performance Replacement Windows With New Glazing(glass) Windows_Low_E.pngTechnologies Not Only Reduce Energy Costs But Make Homes More Comfortable As Well.

A term you'll need to know is Low-E. So what is it? It stands for Low-emittance. In technical terms, Low-E coatings are microscopically thin, virtually invisible, metal or metallic oxide layers deposited on a window or skylight glazing surface primarily to reduce the U-factor by suppressing radiative heat flow. The principal mechanism of heat transfer(remember heat always moves towards cold) in multilayer glazing is thermal radiation from a warm pane of glass to a cooler pane. Coating a glass surface with a low-emittance material and facing that coating into the gap between the glass layers blocks a significant amount of this radiant heat transfer, thus lowering the total heat flow through the window. 
You know, when you stand in the sunlight coming through a window.

Low-E coatings are transparent to visible light. Different types of low-E coatings have been designed to allow for high solar gain, moderate solar gain, or low solarlowe_high2.jpg gain. 
In heating-dominated climates with a modest amount of cooling or climates where both heating and cooling are required (like Michigan), low-E coatings with high-, moderate- or low-solar-gains may result in similar annual energy costs depending on the house design and operation. While higher solar-gain glazings perform better in winter, lower solar-gain glazings perform better in summer. In cooling-dominated climates, the priority is to lower solar gains.

CLICK HERE: Watch Energy Expert, Steve Easley as he explains.

 

Topics: Energy Efficiency Tips, Energy Efficient Solutions, Comfort, Windows

Energy Efficiency Solutions - Windows & The NFRC

Posted by John Sims on Thu, May, 12, 2016 @ 12:05 PM

NFRC: What is it and why is that helpful to homeowners?Windows_Ratings.png

The National Fenestration Rating Council, or NFRC, as it is stated on their website is a nonprofit, public/private organization created by the window, door, and skylight industry. It is composed of manufacturers, suppliers, researchers, architects and designers, code officials, utilities, and government agencies. The NFRC has developed a window energy rating system based on whole product performance. 
The NFRC label provides the only reliable way to determine the window energy properties and to compare products. The NFRC label appears on all products certified to the NFRC standards and on all window, door, and skylight products which are part of the ENERGY STAR® program. 

If you are considering a home improvement project which includes replacement windows, here's how this benefits you: 

NFRC administers the only uniform, independent rating and labeling system for the energy performance of windows, doors, skylights, and attachment products. 

Their goal is to provide fair, accurate, and reliable energy performance ratings so that: 

  • Architects, builders, code officials, contractors, homeowners, and others can compare different products and make informed product choices.
  • Building officials, state government employees, and others involved in code development and enforcement can determine if products meet local codes. 
  • Government- and utility-run energy efficiency programs can establish performance requirements and standards. 
  • Manufacturers have a fair and level playing field to compare products and an accurate method of showing the energy benefits of new designs or technology.


NFRC is the recognized leader in energy performance rating and certification programs for fenestration products.
At this time, NFRC labels on window units give ratings for U-factor, Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC), Visible Light Transmittance (VT), and optionally Air Leakage (AL) and Condensation Resistance (CR) ratings.

A uniform rating system that takes into account the entire product using 4 different scientific ratings so you get closer to the ideal product selection for your home.

Let's listen to Ken Nittler, Owner of Enercomp, Inc and a former NFRC board member, explain the importance of NFRC. (Runtime 3:32) 

Topics: Energy Efficiency Tips, Energy Efficient Solutions, Building Science, Windows

Energy Efficiency Solutions - Replacement Windows

Posted by John Sims on Mon, May, 09, 2016 @ 14:05 PM

Flipping around on cable TV trying to avoid the commercials, I saw an ad from Windows.pngone of the replacement window companies. It was pretty 'corny', going into outer space to offer the best window. Maybe you saw it. It got me motivated to provide soem helpful information. (We obviously, don't sell windows.)

Replacement windows can be a good investment under the right criteria. It's can be a fairly large investment and not one that is an impulse buy based on 'Buy One Get One Free.'

Most homeowners want to make a buying decision based on credible information. This series of articles may be a little more that you want to know, but you can determine that for yourself. They'll represent the best information available today.

Windows: Your Biggest Heating And Cooling Load.

Windows represent the biggest portion of your heating or cooling load or requirement needed in your home. If you had two identical homes built next to each other and one had 10% of the wall surface area as windows(glass) and the other home was 30%(you love the view). The home with 30% will require larger furnace and AC unit; and obviously use more utilities.

Windows are one of the most confusing home improvement products when it comes to making a purchase. They can also be one of the most costly! So we'd like to share with you some industry principles and terminology used to help you 'cut' through some of the confusion and set the record straight.

As you'll learn, window glass technology has come a long way!

So what do you need to know to select the right replacement windows for your home? With more than 10,000 window and door manufacturers, fabricators and assemblers in North America the research and selection process can be overwhelming.

Finding the right window retrofit solution isn’t easy, and while most people want to know how much energy and money the retrofit will save them, the decision won’t always be based upon these factors. There are other considerations like comfort, convenience, appearance, and budget which all play major roles. 

As you will learn, there's no way to make a good decision based on "Buy 1 Get 1 Free" or highly discounted advertising gimmicks. Hey, if you're buying a 5 lb. bag of sugar, that might make sense. 
Every homeowner is looking to answer this question, "what's the 'biggest bang for my buck' for my particular situation.

Let's introduce you to R. Christopher Mathis. He has spent the past 30 years focusing on how buildings and building products perform – from energy efficiency to code compliance to long-term durability. Chris received his undergraduate degree in Physics from the University of North Carolina at Asheville. He received a Master of Science in Architecture Studies from MIT where his graduate work focused on energy use in buildings.

He has served as a Scientist in the Insulation Technology Laboratory at the Owens-Corning Fiberglas Technical Center, was the Director of the Thermal Testing Laboratory for the National Association of Home Builders Research Center, and Director of Marketing for Architectural Testing, Inc., a private laboratory specializing in the performance of buildings and building products.
Chris was a founding member and served for four years as the first Director of the National Fenestration Rating Council, the non-profit organization that developed the nation’s energy performance rating and labeling system for windows, doors and skylights.

As a homeowner, which strategy will save me more money on my monthly utility bills and make my house more comfortable? What is the best solution for my house and my budget? 
We realize there's plenty of confusion out there today.

Let's listen to Chris, keep in mind he's talking about new construction:

Today, Windows Are One Of Most Critical Elements - (1:00)

In a series of blog articles we'll put forth our best effort to deliver the most helpful information, backed by building science; not HYPE!

If you'd more information just ask!

Topics: Energy Efficiency Tips, Energy Efficient Solutions, Windows

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