Category Archives: Energy Efficiency

Happy February from Red Oak Exteriors!

Happy February

It seems like January just flew by. So, before we get any further, we here at ROE would like to reflect on the last year. We are happy to report that as an essential business we were not overly affected by the Global pandemic and statewide shutdowns. However, there were some challenging differences in our day-to-day business practices. Much of our consulting was performed virtually through Zoom or other online methods which we continue to do for the safety of our staff and clients. When necessary to meet in person we will always be wearing a mask and maintaining the proper social distancing.

Pandemic impacts

The pandemic also had an impact on the roofing industry in 2020 when some of the shingle manufacturers were required to shut down for 2 weeks at a time. The normal production hours of these plants were 24-hours a day 7 days a week, so you can imagine the shortages this caused. For those of you who had to change your shingle brand and/or color, thank you so much for being understanding in these challenging times. Covid-19 shutdowns have also created shortages of windows, siding and dimensional lumber.

The current expectation is that these shortages are going to continue well into 2021. This will affect costs and lead times for all contractors. Just like a stone tossed into a pond the ripples of these supply shortages are certain to affect many other areas of life. ROE is committed to keeping you up to date on these and other changes.

Supporting Local

Red Oak Exteriors is a proud supporter of Kids on Bikes, a local non-profit that supports community enrichment and kids’ health through advocating for getting outside on bikes! By creating access to bikes, opportunities to ride and bicycling education, Kids on Bikes aims to empower kids into taking charge of their health and fitness.

In addition, ROE always encourages everyone to shop and support local businesses. Colorado Springs is such an amazing place, and we are overwhelmingly grateful to be able to call it home. During 2021 our clients can rely on us for the same exceptional level of service and support that we always provide. We will continue to keep our clients safe through virtual consultations, mask wearing and social distancing when necessary. ROE staff is looking forward to a safe and productive 2021!

How to Tell if You Need to Get Window Replacement Done for Your Home

window replacement

Windows are not something we pay much attention to because we expect them to last a long time. While it is true that your home windows can last upwards of 20 years, there will eventually come a time when you will need window replacement. At Red Oak Exteriors, our team of qualified technicians has vast experience installing and replacing windows of residential properties. We often get calls from homeowners who want to know whether it is time to replace their home windows or hold off. If you are one of those homeowners who aren’t sure about the signs that tell you it is time for new windows, this article is for you.

You Need A Window Replacement If Your Windows Can’t Keep The Colorado Springs Weather Out

The most obvious sign that you need window replacement is when your home windows cannot keep weather elements such as rain, out of your home. Snow and rain can eventually take a toll on your window frames until they start leaking and rainwater or melting snow can seep into your home through damaged window frames. When we arrive to inspect a leaky window, it is usually entirely decayed or unrepairable; this is why we recommend homeowners keep an eye on the condition of their window frames. This might help you catch the decay early and save you the additional cost of a complete home window replacement.

In short, if your windows aren’t properly keeping the weather elements such as rainwater out, then it is a clear sign that a window replacement might be in order.

You Have Started Hearing A Lot More Noises And Sounds Than You Used To

Your home windows aren’t just meant to keep water, dust, debris, and wind out; they also work to partially soundproof your home. When the windows start giving in, you will start to hear more noise inside your home since the windows cannot effectively keep the noise out. A good way to test your home windows’ soundproofing is to listen for any vehicles that may be passing at a distance and if you can hear them inside the house, it could be a sign that your windows need to be replaced; it may also mean that your windows were not meant to be soundproof, so you should contact us to get your windows inspected before making a replacement decision.

Your Windows Are Not Opening Or Closing Properly

If you have opening windows at your home, they should operate without too much force. However, if you notice that windows might be stuck or can not be adequately closed, then chances are you need to start looking online for a company for the replacement of your windows.

How to Prepare Yourself and Your Home for a Roofing Installation

Getting a new roof is exciting for families. As with any large home improvement/upgrade, everyone is eager to see the transformation. Soon, the top of your home will be looking brand new!  While hiring a professional roofing company such as Red Oak Exteriors removes the stress from your roof installation process, it is still good to do some preparations. Many households have pets and children that need to be kept safe during a roofing job. That is why we at Red Oak Exteriors have come up with a guide to help you prepare for your home roofing project,  so read on.

Make Sure your Vehicles are at a Distance When Roofing Installation Services Providers Arrive

Roofing involves heavy materials and equipment that can cause damage to your vehicle. Not to mention, a big truck or SUV parked in front of the home can make it difficult for roofing installation services providers to do our work efficiently. So, if you have a garage, it is suggested that you keep the vehicles and other fragile yard items in there during the roofing project for your vehicle’s safety and opening up space for the equipment and materials. If you don’t have a garage, park your vehicle away from the job site; you will also be freeing up a lot of space for roofing materials that need to be stored short term on your property.

Take Care of your Kids and Pets During the Roof Installation Project

Roof installation can get noisy for your kids and pets. If you have a dog or a cat that gets scared of loud noises, you might want to send your pet to a friend or family member until the project is finished. For kids that are old enough, be sure to explain that the areas around your house are not safe during the roofing project due to the risk of injury. If you have small kids in your home, it might be a good idea to have them stay with a  family member home for a few days until the roofing job is complete.

Inform your Neighbors Before the Arrival of the Roofing Company

Roof installation is an exciting project for you, but it can be a loud surprise for your neighbors. Remember that your neighbors also have kids and pets and as a good neighbor, you would want to make sure their kids, pets, and property are safe while you get your new roof installation. It’s always a good idea to inform your neighbors before the installation company arrives to start the project. While our roof installation team is friendly and safe, making sure unnecessary debris isn’t flying around, there is still a possibility that debris could fall into your neighbor’s yard during the process.

Now that you know what to do to prepare for a roof installation project, all you have to do is get in touch with us and get your new roof installed.

Solar Continues to Evolve

Solar energy

The world will be facing energy shortages and increased pricing within the next few decades. Currently, the United States relies on coal, natural gas, petroleum and other non-renewable resources for over 75% of its electrical generation.

Solar powerThe New Energy Resource

With decreasing stores of fossil fuels and increasing demand for electricity, it is obvious that a new energy source is needed. Solar power is that energy source. Although solar power has been emerging on the market since the 1800s when factories used the sun to heat water to create steam that turned turbines, it was not until the discovery of the photovoltaic effect in 1839 that the potential for solar development opened up. In 1883, Charles Fritz manufactured the first solar cells out of selenium. However, our current solar photovoltaic (PV) cells are made from silicon, a technology that was developed in 1954. It was then that the possibilities for large scale PV solar power became possible.

Solar Energy – Lowering CO2 Emissions

It is important to note that in the short term, solar energy is not going to displace our dominant energy source of fossil fuels in the next few decades. All our current infrastructure and modus operandi are too deeply ingrained in fossil fuels to make an abrupt separation. But it can contribute significantly to our needed energy mix to lower CO2 emissions and address climate change solutions. However, in the long term, solar energy is the one proven source that can safely and sustainably keep up with our progressing world.

Commercial Solar Energy

Commercial solar energy generation relies on solar thermal power systems which require concentrating sunlight to achieve high temperatures (think using a magnifying glass to light paper on fire). Some examples of this are parabolic dish systems, power towers, solar chimneys, and trough concentrators. There are advantages and disadvantages to each depending on the intended output desired and the amount of land area needed to maintain said system.

Residential solar energy

Residential solar energy is a different animal entirely and uses mainly photovoltaic (PV) systems, passive solar, and solar domestic hot water. This blog’s intended audience is residential so we will be focusing our attention there.

Solar Hot-Water Systems

Hot water heating accounts for some 20% of the energy used in a typical American home. The ease that existing hot water systems can be retrofitted to solar heating puts it at an exceptionally good advantage for residential use. Solar hot-water systems are feasible in any climate through various storage systems, flat-plate collectors, and heat exchangers. Systems can be as simple as a storage tank with glass on one side to more complex piping that runs in ceilings and flooring providing not only hot water but also active solar heating for your home. In the U.S., the receptivity for this form of solar energy replacement is very low. However, it is thirty times more prevalent in Australia and is now required in all new construction and renovation in Barcelona.

Passive Solar Building Designs

There are many forms of passive solar building designs all of which begin with building orientation. In the northern hemisphere, building your home with most of the windows on the south-facing aspect can provide considerable solar gain on sunny winter days. The north-facing wall should have little or no windows because of the glass’s low insular value. Having high R-value insulation is the next component. An R-value is a rating system designed to describe how well insulation performs at keeping heat from entering or leaving your home.  After the sun warms up the interior of your home the insulation should keep it in. Some sort of thermal mass is required to store the excess energy and allow for slow release during the nighttime hours. Generally, this is in the form of a dark concrete floor inside the glass on the south-facing windows. The concrete takes considerable time to heat and cool and so provides an even temperature throughout the day. A roof overhang is necessary to block the more intense rays of the summer sun.

Photovoltaic (PV) Solar Panels

Photovoltaic (PV) solar panels have come a long way since 1954. The efficiency of those first panels was about 2% with an energy cost of roughly $1785/ watt. Solar panel efficiency is the measurement of irradiation, or the amount of solar energy that falls on a panel, that can be converted into electricity. The PV panels that are in production now are between 16% and 23% efficient. In laboratory settings, efficiency as high as 44% has been achieved but this has not been transferred into production level. PV solar panels are allowing homeowners to supplement electrical energy from the main power grid.  All over the world, typical homes can rely on PV power to supply most of their electrical needs. Although some grid power may be needed on cloudy days, it is more prevalent to make excess power that can be sold back to the grid or stored in batteries.

One of the most commonly stated issues with PV power is the amount of energy lost during conversion. PV cells produce direct current (DC), and grid power is run by alternating current (AC). This means that for you to use the energy your PV cells generate it must be converted with an additional loss inefficiency. However, inverters are now available to convert DC to AC at about 95% efficiency. Also, no energy source comes without some environmental impact; PV’s are no exception. However, despite the waste that is inevitable during manufacturing and again with eventual disposal, the production energy required to produce PV’s does not exceed the amount of energy the PV itself will generate. This is known as the energy payback time. A typical PV system has a payback time of about two years. Meaning that the total energy budget for a PV system with a 30-year life span is around 93% pollution-free.

Conclusion

Solar energy is so abundant and environmentally friendly it would stand to reason that it should be more widely available. Unfortunately, the problem is one of economics. With today’s fossil fuel technologies being backed by government subsidies, “dirty” energy can be sold at a much lower capital cost. Value judgements are the controlling factor in this equation. Individuals must decide: do I value cheap energy or clean energy and what are the long-term effects of that decision? It is clear one way or the other that humans have a long history of harnessing the heat and power of the sun. From the ancient Romans and their burning mirrors to the Anasazi’s south facing cliff dwellings it is obvious that human civilization would not be what it is today without progressing solar technologies.

The Importance of Energy Efficiency

energy efficiency

One of the most profound ways that the general public can help reduce energy consumption and lessen greenhouse gas emissions is through energy efficiency. Given that an estimated 30% of all energy produced in the United States is used in heating, cooling and electricity generation for millions of homes. Despite significant innovations in new construction, many homes remain un-retrofitted and thus, inefficient. Additionally, because existing structure are primarily powered by fossil fuel production, these structures are contributing significantly to annual greenhouse gas emissions. In 2017, the residential sector accounted for roughly 958 million metric tons of CO2 emissions.

Difference between Energy efficiency and Energy Conservation

Energy efficiency and energy conservation are sometimes used interchangeably. This can be confusing because although they are related, efficiency refers to the technology or product requiring less energy to function and conservation refers to personal habits. Household energy efficiency measures could consist of anything from LED lightbulbs, power strips to decrease phantom loads and smart settings on your heating panel to fresh attic insulation, new windows and solar installation. Household conservation is often less expensive requiring little to no cost: Turning off lights, unplugging appliances, keeping your heat below 68 degrees Fahrenheit and hanging clothes out to dry instead of using the dryer. However, the most effective solutions are a combination of both.

The Fluctuation in Electricity Bills

When you receive your monthly electricity bill you may wonder why it fluctuates so much, month to month, year to year. This is because your bill is based not only on the price you pay for electricity but also the appliances you use and how much you use them. Even when the cost of electricity goes down, sometimes your bill increases because of the amount of electricity used and how often you use it. Kilowatt-hours, or kWh, are the basic unit of electric energy for which most customers are charged. A kWh is the same amount of electricity used by ten 100-watt lights left on for 1 hour. Customers are usually charged for electricity in cents per kilowatt-hour.

To get an idea of how much energy your appliances use and, thusly, how much they can cost you, here is a peek at some common electricity-consuming appliances and the amount of energy they use every hour: In general heaters/ AC units use 15,000 kilowatts (kw) of energy per hour; clothes dryers and water heaters around 400kw; even lightbulbs use 60kw per hour (Fun fact: that’s the same amount of energy it takes to do push-ups for an hour).

Although in Colorado we are just below the average U.S. electricity rate of 11.88 cents per kwh, you can see how these daily household items can drive your bill up. Many notable energy efficient appliances are available to consumers such as Energy Star rated appliances. The up-front costs that are associated with purchasing more efficient appliances are meant to be offset with the lowered monthly electricity bill.

Ways to Decrease the Amounts of Bills

In contrast, there are many interventions that have little to no upfront cost to the public.

Addressing the Air Leaks and Insulation Issues

Doing this through a variety of weatherization techniques can dramatically decrease your monthly electric bill. CNN Business estimated that properly sealing the attic and furnace ducting can cut your bill up to 30%. Air sealing can be as easy and inexpensive as caulk or foam installed into those leakage areas. In addition, windows lose more heat per square foot in the winter and gain more heat per square foot in the summer than any other area of your home. It stands to reason then that one-fourth of all energy used for heating and cooling in the U.S. is escaping though inefficient windows. Not everyone can afford the up-front cost of new windows, but a window insulation kit can be purchased at the local hardware store for less than $20.

Doing Energy Audits

Energy audits are an economical tool that can compile a comprehensive list for energy savings. Many local utility companies sponsor some kind of energy audit and/or weatherization programs. In general, energy audits are conducted to study the energy usage of a building, but they can also reflect personal choices. You can then prioritize how you and your house are performing and make changes accordingly. A certified rater can inspect a homes’ appliances, lighting fixtures, water heater and heating system to confirm their level of efficiency. Your home is then assigned a score on the Home Energy Rating System (HERS) Index. The lower the score on the index the more efficient the home. A standard new home, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, is assigned a score of 100. Whereas a typical house that is up for resale is around 130. That is a starting rate of 30% less efficient than a new home. Your home’s score is always rated against a similar reference home in that, a designed-model-home of comparable size and shape is used to score from.

Blower Door Test

In addition, conducting a blower door test that depressurizes the house and exaggerates the leakage points, can be a great way to confirm where the biggest loses of heating/ cooling are coming from. Largely used in the commercial sector starting in the late 1980’s, blower door tests have become increasingly popular in the residential market. While the blower door is active, smoke sticks and infrared cameras are used to inspect where the greatest losses of air are from the home. Generally, these areas end up being poorly insulated areas, attic spaces, crawl spaces and windows.

Conclusion

All in all, although the tools that allow us to climate control our homes and run our appliances are the largest demand for energy, they also have the greatest potential for significant savings if consumers are willing to take action to conserve and support more efficient life choices. Simple day to day habits can be embraced that support a more environmentally friendly lifestyle. Encouraging friends and neighbors to do the same is also vital. The up-front cost of new appliances and home upgrades may seem unnecessary given the relatively low cost we pay for electric energy. However, the future savings and positive environmental impact those costs could support make them worth it.