Passive Protection

Here are a few snaps of the small house we stayed in on our recent Florida trip to Amelia Island.

You can see these are very efficient, small houses with very large ventilation chimneys at the tops of their roofs.

These houses sported many very large glass windows and doors that looked out onto the sunny, lush golf course. Their interior plans were logical and spacious. Total interior space was around 1,100 square feet with a 2-bed, 2-bath layout. The small, enclosed patio had a small shed perfect for storing garbage and recycling, yard tools or bicycles.

While this small house had been maintained over the years, it was ready for a modern makeover. Both bathrooms and the kitchen were old and builder grade. A more efficient HVAC system, modern double-paned insulated windows and doors were needed to make the house more energy efficient. Solar panels running electric heat to the tile floors would be a great item to add, as well. Insulation was nowhere in the attic and would be an easy big-bang-for-the-buck improvement.

We were told that the temps in this area of Florida were typically in the 90s from May to November. So you can appreciate how a large, vented roof area would help to cool this house. The live oak canopy would also help keep the house shaded in summer.

This development had nice, preserved natural marsh areas, woodlands, golf courses, tennis and pool areas and a club house for members. There were also miles of paved and unpaved pathways for bicycles and walkers. It occurred to me that a planned gated community like this one has great opportunities for developing sustainable energy systems to serve itself. Geo thermal, solar and wind power are all great options for this community to consider investing in as a group on their own property.

I thought these houses were nice examples of well built, well designed efficient living. We enjoyed staying in our house very much.

Home Maintenance Tip: Air Leaks

This is the best time of year to locate air leaks in your older home. You will know you have them if you can feel drafts, or if your heater is working too hard.

Many people who live in older homes accept the discomfort of leaky windows and doors as “just the way it is” when, in reality, the fixes are very easy and inexpensive to make.

Start by taking a quick tour of your house and identifying the leaks and cold rooms; make a list of those you find. The typical areas of air leaks are any penetration in the “skin” of your home. That could mean a window or door, or a pipe or wire penetrating your home’s walls.

Then, tackle your list one leak at a time to reduce energy use and heating/cooling bills and increase the comfort of your home.

Often, simple chores like caulking, sealing with spray foam or a gasketing system can fix the problem in just a few minutes. If they can’t be fixed that quickly or easily, if a window or door really needs to be replaced, now is the time to start your springtime fix it list. Other less considered sources of air leaks are attic hatches and plumbing trouble doors. Believe it or not, these should be as well sealed (or better) as the doors and windows in your house. Typically, they are nothing more than a plywood sheet = very leaky! Gasketing should be around each of these to prevent air leaking, but still maintain easy use and access. This requires a bit of skill to do well, so call us when you have your fix it list and we’ll get these things done for you.

Special Reasons to Think Windows and Doors!

Winter is right around the corner … now is the time to think windows! In addition to energy tax credits that are currently in place, you can save up to $550 with a mail-in Live Smart Rebate when you replace your old windows or patio doors with select Weather Shield® products with Zo-e-shield® glazing before 12/31/10. And, when you purchase a window-replacement project worth at least $10,000 from Myers Constructs (choose from select brands available), you’ll receive a complimentary home BPI energy-efficiency audit (value: $500). This test will identify areas within your home that may be causing you to spend more than you need to on your monthly utility bills.

Call us at 215.438.6696 for details on how to qualify for these exciting offers.

Earth-Friendly Home Renovations: A Local Perspective

Earth friendly. Eco conscious. Green. What do these terms mean in the context of home improvement? The short answer is being kind to your surroundings — although the meanings can differ slightly depending on where you live.

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We’re in The News!

Discussing modern day marketing and how we do it in :

Remodeling Magazine

We are moving to e marketing because it’s more sustainable than snail mail. E marketing doesn’t require little gas powered trucks driving all over to deliver cards with our contact info on them.

But in order for this to work we need your help. When you share our newsletters and other marketing materials with your friends and neighbors, you are helping all of us be more sustainable!

We’re On Vimeo! Take 2!

Check out this cool, new trailer about our team at Myers Constructs, Inc.

This is just another example of our efforts to market our business without polluting the earth in the process. We’ve found that we don’t have to rely so much on the postal service to deliver printed marketing materials when we get great results from the organic sharing of our messages. So, please share this clip with your circle of contacts … and stay tuned for more fun media soon!

The Heat Wave and Your Home

Temperatures of 100-plus degrees hit the Philadelphia area this week — and they’re only predicted to cool slightly in the days ahead. Not surprising for this region during the dog days of July. Nevertheless, conditions like these test not only our bodies’ ability to regulate temperature, but also our homes’ ability to do the same.

So, just how energy-efficient is your house’s cooling system? Here are some symptoms of poor performance to look for:

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What Can You Learn From a Brick?

The brick is an iconic building element to those of us who live on the East Coast, where old cities are built from millions and millions of red bricks. Therefore, a brick seems like a good place to start when considering what it costs the environment to build a house. In fact, readers may remember an article previously posted on our website, entitled “New Construction Pollutes!” In that post, we asked folks to speculate about the size of the carbon footprint made by the bricks used to build an average-sized Philadelphia rowhome.

We explained that to make just one brick, 1.4 pounds of carbon is burned and released into the atmosphere.

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