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Louisville Ladder

Central Vacuums, HEPA Filtration Earn Green Building Standard
Proven Indoor Air Quality Improvement Assures Healthier Homes

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The new standards developed by the National Association of Homebuilders (NAHB) and ratified by ANSI on Jan. 29 offer architects, builders and consumers a consistent slate of specifications to design, build and purchase the most energy efficient, resource efficient and healthiest homes in their communities.

The standards set up four levels of green certification: Bronze, Silver, Gold and Emerald and set minimum point thresholds for each. Points can be earned for a wide variety of building practices and the use of green building products. The standards also set minimum point thresholds for each of six green building categories:

  • Lot Design, Preparation and Development;
  • Resource Efficiency;
  • Energy Efficiency;
  • Water Efficiency;
  • Indoor Environmental Quality; and
  • Operation, Maintenance and Building Owner Education.

Section 902.5 of the new standards list a central vacuum system vented to the outside as an option that will earn five points toward meeting the Indoor Environmental Quality thresholds, which range from 36 points for Bronze Level certification to 140 points for Emerald Level certification. The five points allocated for central vacuums are more than any other optional indoor environmental quality improvement to a home. Section 902.2.3 of the standards allocates three points if "MERV filters 8 or greater are installed on central air systems. Designer or installer is to verify that the HVAC equipment is able to accommodate the greater pressure drop of MERV 8 filters.

Inclusion of central vacuum systems in the National Green Building Standards caps efforts that began in 2001 when the manufacturer of Beam Central Vacuum Systems commissioned a clinical study proving that use of a central vacuum system improves indoor air quality. The study of allergy patients by the University of California, Davis, School of Medicine found that patients’ symptoms improved 40- to 61 percent when they switched from cleaning their homes with a conventional upright vacuum to cleaning with a Beam Central Vacuum System.

Beam HEPA Air Filtration Systems are 99.97 percent efficient at removing airborne particulate 0.3 microns and larger. They deliver the equivalent of MERV 16 filtration, the highest level of filtration available. Furthermore, the systems are bypass systems that are designed to work with virtually any HVAC system with no pressure drop.

“The National Green Building Standards reflect the rapidly growing demand of home buyers for healthy living environments that can be sustained for the lifetime of the home,” says Larry Hartley, vice president of sales and marketing for Electrolux Central Vacuum Systems.

Hartley notes that another leading green building program, the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED for Homes, requires a minimum of MERV 8 air filtration and awards an additional 2 certification points for filtration of MERV 13 or greater. LEED for homes also awards a certification point for a home equipped with a central vacuum system vented outdoors.

He predicts the endorsements will accelerate the penetration of central vacuums and HEPA Air Filtration Systems in both new and existing homes. A recent survey of builders by the National Association of Homebuilders study found that nearly one-third of new luxury homes and 15 percent of “move-up” homes were equipped with central vacuum systems.

A complete copy of the new National Green Building Standards may be purchased from the National Association of Homebuilders at http://store.builderbooks.com/cgi-bin/builderbooks/874?id=ZdqRc4vZ&mv_pc=23

The NAHB also offers a free online home scoring tool on www.NAHBGreen.org that allows users to score specific building and remodeling projects to the Standard.

For more information about the National Green Building Standards, and Beam Central Vacuum and HEPA Air Filtration Systems, or to locate a Beam Dealer, visit www.beam.com.

Electrolux Central Vacuum Systems is the world’s leading producer and marketer of built-in central vacuums. The company’s Beam, Electrolux and Eureka Central Vacuum Systems are sold in 50 countries around the world. Electrolux Central Vacuum Systems is a division of Electrolux Home Care Products North America.

For more information and photos, visit www.beampresscenter.com.


How to Counter Rising Winter Heating Bills

. In a few short months you probably will hear a news report that goes something like this: "As temperatures begin to soar downward to zero or below, and as the wind-chill factor adds to the problem, residents are becoming more and more concerned about fuel costs, costs that are so high it will make it hard for some Americans to keep their furnaces running this winter." Higher fall and winter heating bills are anticipated. In some areas heating prices are expected to rise as much as 50 percent. According to the Department of Energy, no matter what kind of heating, ventilating or air conditioning system you have in your home, you can save money and increase personal comfort by properly maintaining or upgrading your equipment. To determine the condition of your furnace you might be able to rely on your local utility company. Often they offer free inspections that will help you determine whether your next step needs to be cleaning and oiling or replacement. You might also check with your local building department to see if they have a program. Heating and cooling contractors often offer year-round maintenance programs that will ensure smooth, cost-efficient operation.

The person who looks at your furnace will check for carbon monoxide leaks and signs of wear and tear. Part of the inspection will include a check of the flue system. Rust, corrosion, holes, gaps and blockages can prevent proper operation of the flue and trap dangerous combustion gasses in your home.

All safety circuits must be checked as well. During the winter, when your storm windows are in place and all doors are closed, there is more fresh air outside than inside. That's why it is important to change your filter. Changing your furnace filter will cost $3 or $4, but can reduce your heating bill between 1 percent and 4 percent. A clogged filter can reduce airflow and reduce the efficiency of the furnace. Changing your filter is not a major contributor to energy savings, but the filter change results in increased furnace life as a result of reduced stress on the blower motor.

Modern American homes are required to have setback thermostats, but some are complicated and difficult to operate. A setback thermostat can switch the furnace on when heat is needed and then turn it down to a lower temperature when everyone is snuggled in bed for the night. The same thermostat can also be programmed to shut the furnace off completely when no one is home and back on again before everyone gets home.

Turning the temperature down just one degree can reduce your heating bill by 2 percent to 3 percent. Turning the thermostat down from 72F to 68F can reduce your heating bill by up to 12 percent. And lower temperatures don't have to be uncomfortable. December is not the time to tool around the house in lightweight cotton pajamas or a flimsy T-shirt. A long-sleeved, loose-fitting jogging outfit can keep you warm and comfortable. If you are in good health, you can save more than $100 a year with the flick of a wrist at your thermostat.

If your furnace is more than 15 years old you will probably want to look carefully at replacement. Modern appliances are far more energy-efficient than older ones. Older gas furnaces waste 50 percent or more. Modern furnaces burn fuel at a rate of 70 percent to 96 percent. Replacing a furnace can save you 20 percent to nearly 50 percent on your heating bill.

Something to think about.

According to a recent survey by a major heating equipment retailer, 70 percent of those polled are aware that heating costs will increase as much as 50 percent in some areas of the country.

Sixty-three percent of those aware are planning to do something to make their home more energy-efficient. Thirty-five percent are planning to check their home-heating system.

Twenty percent are planning to upgrade their system.

Thirty-five percent are not planning to do anything to make their home more energy-efficient.

Twenty-seven percent of homeowners in the Northeast have furnaces that are over 15 years old.

Sixty-six percent of homeowners in the South have furnaces less than 10 years old.

We leave you with this thought: According to the Department of Energy, home heating makes up about 44 percent of home energy use.

Closet Organization

. If you're like us, the one thing you always seem to need more of is storage. If you have one or more closets each with only a single pole, you can hold off on adding space; you can, in fact, make the best of what you have by organizing your closet to maximize storage. Storage alternatives abound. We can't believe how many different companies make shelving packages out of everything from wire to melamine-covered high-density particleboard planks. The folks that sell wire shelving boast "ease-of-installation" and lightweight construction that "breathes." We tend to like solid shelving because it is sturdier.

Our natural tendency as modern American home dwellers is to use that good old standby "the single pole closet system" to do the job of shelves, cabinets, drawers and hooks. We forget that wasted space usually results. The first and most important part of improving storage is to determine what needs storing. Ten dresses, two skirts and eight sweaters store differently than 12 pairs of shoes, six jackets and 11 pairs of pants. Make a list of what you need to store and estimate approximately how much space each item will require. Shirts take up less height than overcoats or dresses, and sweaters do better on shelves than hangers.

Measure out how many linear feet of half-height hanging space you'll need. Hang all of your half-height clothing and measure from one end to the other. Do the same with clothing that normally hangs full-height. Some prefer to hang trousers by the cuffs; others hang them folded in half. Consider clothing that is being dry cleaned or laundered. And, leave a little space for wardrobe growth. If you can organize shelving so that the shelves fit your laundering habits, you will be happier with the result. In areas where two poles are used, only one shelf will fit above. Thirty-four inches to 38 inches will be needed for half-height hangings. Tall folks will need a bit more space. Where single-poles exist, two shelves above will easily fit. As we mentioned, sweater shelves should be designed to a familiar width, however, the space between, which will range from 16 inches to 24 inches, should be fully adjustable. This way you can adjust as your wardrobe changes. Think carefully about the addition of drawers. For example: gloves, jewelry and scarves can be stored in very shallow drawers. Belts, socks, stockings and lingerie will need a slightly deeper drawer and men's underwear, sleepwear, exercise clothing and the like will require an even deeper one. Gauge drawer height by what will be stored within. Optimizing space is achieved by minimizing wasted space. A pair of gloves in a 6-inch-deep drawer wastes 5-and-one-half inches.

Just about every closet system company offers a planning guide or technical assistance. Some provide computer drawings and a number-matched parts list. However, expect to pay more for this feature. Although the big box stores offer an endless selection of precut alternatives, we like the custom shops that will personally cut all parts to exactly match your design. Remember what we said about folding sweaters? Custom cutting is where the shelves are sized to your specifications.

If you have a table saw you can have the best of both worlds. You can purchase a precut kit and then refabricate it to meet your specific needs. Wire shelves aren't as strong as solid shelving, but are easy to install. Special hangers are used against the rear wall, with a different bracket used at end walls. With brackets in place all you have to do is snip the shelf to the desired length and lay it in place. Gravity does the rest. Wire shelving also allows clothes to be viewed from all six sides. Not a bad feature if your memory is as bad as ours.

Whatever options you choose, carefully planning closet storage can double usable storage space.

Flu-season Preparedness

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Let’s consider a few facts first.

1.Vaccines inflame the brain, this is why most medical professionals including nurses, Refuse to take the same vaccinations they recommend to their patients.

2.For over 50 years studies have consistently shown that the elderly are significantly deficient in a number of important nutrients like 
-Vit C
-Vit E
-Caratenoids
-Zinc
-Selenium
-Magnesium
-Vit D.

3. Vitamin D-3 does a lot more than build bones. This incredible nutrient stimulates a group of proteins called antimicrobial peptides. These peptides can inhibit or kill a number of viruses bacteria and fungi. So my suggestion eat right move and take some crucial supplements to boost your immune system.

Live long and keep mobile.

Karel Nunnink

“Tuning” Your Home’s Windows

Today’s most savvy consumers tend to base their windows buying decision on U- or R-Value, methods of measuring insulation, looking for highly insulating windows to keep the hot air indoors in winter, and cool air in summer. This is progress, and one of the keys to becoming energy efficient, but where people make the biggest mistake is to choose the same insulating window for the entire house, regardless of sun exposure.

This common mistake is often made by home owners, architects and general contractors and leads to energy inefficiency and room temperatures that are not optimal during the summer or winter months.

In order for energy efficient windows to provide high energy savings and ideal room temperatures, it is important to choose glass packages that are “tuned” not only for a home’s particular climate, but also “tuned” to the windows orientation.

“Tuned” windows simply means selecting a glass package that provides the ideal R-Value or U-value for a particular climate and window orientation, and optimizes the amount of solar heat gain that is transmitted through a window. The solar gain of a window is rated by the NFRC as the Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC). The higher the SHGC the more solar heat energy passes through a window. The lower the SHGC the less solar heat energy is transmitted.

At first glance it may appear that a lower SHGC is the best option since it will prevent solar energy from warming up a room to uncomfortable temperatures; however, this approach is not entirely accurate. If you live in a colder climate, windows with a high solar heat gain may help warm a home and keep heating costs down, but if these same windows face south their ability to transmit solar heat may cause too much solar heat gain and make a room uncomfortable. This is why it is important to choose windows that are not only tuned for the climate but also tuned for their orientation.

For example, a home in Colorado might have windows that face east and west and receive full sun almost all day, while its north and south windows get almost no sun exposure all day. If you were to use the same high solar heat gain for all the windows in this Colorado home then the windows that received the most amount of sun (even in the winter) would create hotspots in a home. Tuning a home’s windows to their orientation will help optimize solar heat gain where the sun’s energy is minimal and reflect excess heat gain where the sun’s energy is plentiful. This will prevent temperature swings from one part of a house to another, and keep heating and cooling costs down by effectively utilizing the sun’s warming solar energy.

When shopping for your home’s windows, make sure you not only look for highly insulating windows, but also the appropriate SHGC options for your windows based on the orientation of your home. This will help you enjoy your entire home regardless of the season, save heating and cooling costs, and create energy efficiency.