Every where we turn people are conserving and reducing in order to save money and our homes are no exception.
Every day there is new methods and products that are introduced to the market for you to save on your energy bill. In the short term, these newly introduced products stop your house from losing heat. What you may not know is that, in the long term, these same products are causing you to keep all the chemicals that are being off gassed inside with you. This is no different than a gas chamber. The most common off gassed chemical is formaldehyde. It is a common indoor air pollutant and can be toxic, allergenic, and carcinogenic. Unlike a cereal box, the common everyday items, such as furniture, clothes, cosmetics, toys, building materials, etc., do not come with a complete list of ingredients or wares.
If an older home has not been looked at from an overall air treatment stand point, the owner could be encapsulating himself in an unhealthy environment. Here are some examples:
- The CO2 levels could be getting to over 1,000 ppm with three or four people living in the same air for 10-12 hours with little or no air exchange.
- That new desk in the basement office could be off gassing formaldehyde.
- The cleaners used on the kitchen floor every week for months at a time could be emitting any type of VOC.
- The humidity levels being raised from cooking could encourage off gassing.
- Harmful adhesives used in producing insulations could be hiding in your walls and releasing formaldehyde gas.
- The new coat of paint could be off gassing beneze, a VOC that causes carcinogen.
Only 188 air toxins out of 80,000 chemicals are registered with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and have been tested for harmful effects. In other words, only 2% of the chemicals are being identified and possibly regulated. Not only are these substances a problem but the bio-accumulation lingers and can be deadly.
What should you look for in a new home?
For a well designed, new house built for high efficiency and maximum energy conservation, there are four things to look for:
- It should have a 95% efficient furnace or better yet, a heat exchange system (heat pump) for heating.
- The walls and attic should meet the R-2000 standard rating. This is a voluntary standard that is certified by the Government of Canada to exceed building code requirements for energy efficiency, indoor air quality (IAQ), and environmental responsibility.
- All the windows and doors are double or triple glazed and has high R-value rating when closed. This value determines the effectiveness of the insulation.
- It has an air handler that exchanges the internal for external air at a defined rate using a heat recovery unit to reduce the loss of energy.
What should you do to your current home?
For an older, well maintained house, there are three things that you can do to save on your energy bill:
- When remodeling, add extra insulation into the wall but make sure that the insulation does not contain formaldehyde.
- Add insulation into the attic and seal off the attic entrance.
- Install new double or triple glazed windows as well as new doors with air tight seals.
- Place plants in the home. Plants are known to purify the air and remove 99.9% of toxins.
Written by: Richard Grant, CETCI’s Service Department Supervisor