SystemVision Newsletter :: July 2007

In this Issue

 

Contact

SystemVision
919 857-9000
www.systemvision.org

SystemVision E-Newsletter

 

Affordable Housing Partner of the Year
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency [EPA] named Advanced Energy the Energy Star Affordable Housing Partner of the Year in early 2007. The award recognizes the work you do as SystemVision partners: providing safe, durable, comfortable, energy efficient and environmentally responsible homes to the affordable housing realm. Congratulations and spread the word about the progress. There are 1,378 guaranteed energy efficient and affordable N.C. homes to date!

Partner of the Year


Calling All Appraisers
Advanced Energy is interested in speaking with appraisers to better understand barriers they face in recognizing energy efficiency features. Your help is needed to explore reasons for the lack of recognition.  If you have an appraiser that has noted the added value please let us know.  If your appraiser has not noted the added value, encourage them to do so.  We can provide information or assistance that may help in this process. 

Please forward leads or suggestions to Brian Coble at bcoble@advancedenergy.org or 919-857-9000.

<Back to Top>


Spec Help :: Bath Fans
If all of these recommendations are followed, they will help your bath fan serve as more than just a noise-maker.

What is it rated?
Fans are given a CFM rating in the factory which measures how many cubic feet per minute of air they will pull. To ensure your fan will pull the minimum of 50 CFM once it’s ducted, install at least a 70 CFM fan. 

<Back to Spec Help>   <Back to Top>

Is it turned the right way?
The fan’s outlet should always be oriented so the duct will have the shortest and straightest route to the outside of the house. Install the fan with the outlet pointed out.

<Back to Spec Help>   <Back to Top>

Did you take the tape off?
Bath fans come installed with a back-draft damper to keep outside air from entering back into the bathroom. Bath fans also come with tape on the damper to protect the mechanism during shipping. In many cases the installer forgets to remove the tape, rendering the fan almost useless. Check the tape!

<Back to Spec Help>   <Back to Top>

Can the door open?
Another common problem involving the damper occurs when the duct is installed too tightly around the outlet of the fan. The duct is squeezed just so, and the damper may be able to open only part-way before it hits the constricted duct. Attach the inner liner tightly with a zip tie and mastic to the collar without getting in the way of the damper.

<Back to Spec Help>   <Back to Top>

How long is your duct?
Have you ever used all 25' of a box of flex when 10' would have worked? Excess ductwork can cause many problems including excessive amounts of curves, crimping, and unnecessary length, all of which can dramatically reduce an exhaust fan’s flow.  Take care with the duct run and go easy on the flex.

<Back to Spec Help>   <Back to Top>

Too many curves?
Every 90 degree bend in flex duct is equivalent to adding 10' of ductwork. If at all possible, sharp bends and sharp curves should be avoided and replaced with more free-flowing, gradual curves. 

<Back to Spec Help>   <Back to Top>

Stuffing instead of cutting?
Once the duct is taken to the outside of the home and there are a few feet hanging down through the soffit or out through the roof, do you cut it to size or do you stuff the unneeded length back in? The duct should definitely be cut-to-size to eliminate the possibility of any unnecessary restrictions. Cut that duct!   

<Back to Spec Help>   <Back to Top>

Where is the plastic?
Was the inner liner of the flex duct pulled all the way through the insulation to the fan collar and exhaust termination? There have been cases where the plastic liner was tucked inside the fiberglass insulation, not allowing the fan to exhaust effectively.  Connect that inner-liner!

<Back to Spec Help>   <Back to Top>

How restrictive is your termination?
The final piece of a properly functioning exhaust fan is the termination. The termination should be one with little to no restriction, with the exception of a metal screen to keep bugs out of the house…and don’t forget to remove any tape. Check that termination!

<Back to Spec Help>   <Back to Top>

Is it outside?
The ductwork must terminate outside of the building! This step is often overlooked when the soffit is installed without the duct connected to the termination.  Connect that duct!

<Back to Spec Help>   <Back to Top>

Holes to the house?
Finally, in the bath once the ceiling is in, are there holes in the fan box or a gap between the fan box and the drywall?  If so, when the fan is turned on it will pull air [and sometimes even insulation] from places other than the bathroom.  Caulk holes and the drywall gap.

<Back to Spec Help>   <Back to Top>


Homeowner Corner :: Air Filters
Question:  How often should you change your filter? 
Maybe a more appropriate question would be: Do you know where your filters are located? The truth is, a clean and appropriately selected filter is an integral part of your HVAC system. As such, it can greatly influence the overall comfort and health of your home. Not only do filters remove particles from the air you breathe, but they protect the coil of your unit, safeguarding its efficiency and longevity. They are extremely important to maintain. If this is news to you, not to worry. Welcome to Advanced Energy’s four step program to reconciliation with your filter.

Step one
First, locate your filter. It is generally found at the return box inside the home. Look behind the large grill that is usually found in the home’s main hallway, but remember that every home is different. You may have return boxes and filters in every bedroom, for instance. And some filter types—such as the six-inch Aprilaire—are actually installed within your HVAC system. These slide in and out near your air handler, so check your attic or crawlspace. Wherever you find your system's main filter, you will likely also see another, smaller filter installed nearby. This is the filter for your whole-house ventilation system. Be sure to change this one as often as you change your main filter.

Step Two
Now that you have the location of your filter, get closer to it for a good visual. In your assessment make sure the filter is unobstructed and free of dirt. If you haven't seen your filter lately, you may be surprised at how dirty it can get.

When grime accumulates on the filter surface, it is harder for air to pass through the filter. As a result of this restriction to air flow, your system will not function properly. Less air will make its way to your living space, and your system will have to work harder to get it there. This equation can equal discomfort and higher energy bills.

It is vital that you perform this visual inspection of your filter every month or so. Check it regularly during the heating and cooling seasons—the times when you are using your system most heavily. Whenever work is done on or in your home, the level of particulates in the air may rise and your filter may clog.

Step Three
Now that you have the filter in sight, decide whether or not the filter needs to be changed. Some guidelines to help you determine when to change your filter are: 

  • When you can see dirt on the filter with the naked eye
  • At the beginning of the heating and cooling seasons
  • When any home renovations are in progress
  • When you notice your system is not functioning properly
  • At least every three months regardless of any of the above conditions for the common one-inch filters or annually with the Aprilaire—follow the manufacturers’ instructions.


As you consider these tips, check what type of filter is actually installed in your system. There are many different typesone-inch wide, six-inch wide, pleated, non-pleated, fiberglass, etc. The most common filters are usually blue or white one-inch fiberglass flat panels in cardboard frames. Be sure the filter meets the specifications of your system.

When buying replacement filters it is important to remember this and stick with one filter type. "Upgraded" or more expensive filters may not necessarily be the best choice, and may restrict airflow. This can be harmful if your system wasn't designed for them. The best filter is one that is acceptable according to the specifications of your HVAC equipment. As a general rule, stick with the filter type that was installed when you moved into your home.

Step Four
Now comes the easy part. Changing the filter is as simple as removing the old filter and replacing it with another compatible filter. Discard the old filter, and congratulate yourself on a job well done!

<Back to Top>


Statewide Specialists
As always, thanks go out to our building performance specialists across the state! They serve as an excellent local resource for your building science questions.

Advanced Energy is always here for your SystemVision needs, as well as the building science specialists and their teams listed below who are also available at your convenience.

SystemVision Scheduling Hotline: 866 936-2784

Asheboro

 Adonai Building Science Services

 336 626-8259

Asheville

 Southern Energy Concepts

 828 279-6723

Boone

 Southface Boone

 828 265-4888

Charlotte

 Environmental Building Solutions

 704 849-7795

Charlotte

 Southern Energy Management

 704 631-8346

Lewisville

 Energy Solutions

 336 463-2005

Raleigh

 Advanced Energy 

 919 857-9040

Raleigh

 Southern Energy Management

 919 341-8463


<Back to Top>



Feedback
We would love to hear from you if you have a question or comment about the SystemVision program, specs, the guarantee process or something else.

Contact Krista Egger
919.857.9000 | kegger@advancedenergy.org

Also visit www.systemvision.org for information on:

  • standards
  • specs
  • workshop dates
  • plan review input form
  • air sealing, insulation and duct sealing tips
<Back to Top>

 

Making the buildings in which we live, work, play and worship more
healthy, safe, durable, comfortable, affordable, energy efficient and environmentally responsible.