2011 Makeover Journal


Week 1

Week one of Energy Efficiency Makeover 2012 was very productive! Tommy Gracy, proprietor of Building Performance Solutions, Inc., and his men from Mountain Home hit the ground running.

Gracy split his team into two units. One applied the high expansion, open-cell Demilac SEALECTION® 500 foam to the roof decking and gable ends. The other installed RetroFoam™ into the air space between the brick veneer and subsiding.

The attic "encapsulation" process is gaining popularity among in hot, southern climates. This component greatly retards convective, conductive and radiant heat gain into the attic. Now the cooled and heated air from the pending geothermal system will now stay inside the house and not leak outside to Mother Nature! Plus the attic will transition into a semi-conditioned airspace once the new HVAC system is installed.

BPSI is an authorized installer of Demilac SEALECTION® 500 foam insulation. SEALECTION® 500 is spray-applied as a liquid and expands up to 120 times its volume within seconds to fill cracks, gaps and voids to provide insulation, an air and moisture barrier in a single application. SEALECTION® 500 is an open cell spray foam that decreases dust and air pollutants, minimizes noise and maximizes energy efficiency by reducing air leakage from your home. SEALECTION® 500 is a proven insulation, with over 20 years of history in North America, and will not sag, settle, deteriorate or decompose.

RetroFoam™ helps to stop drafts that come through electrical outlets and cracks surrounding windows. It aids in stabilizing interior wall temperature, increases comfort and makes the home quieter. Its high R-value and ability to find and fill empty voids means better insulation and savings on utility bills. Since it can be installed from the outside it is not intrusive. No tearing out walls, or moving furniture and no interior cleanup.

Chris Burnley, regional manager with GE Appliance Division, lead the charge with supplying the latest Energy Star appliances for the kitchen and laundry room. Energy Star appliances incorporate the latest energy saving features and use up to 30 percent less energy than their older counterparts. All of the appliances in the makeover house are more than twenty-years-old. While the older models have served the Thomas’s well, their electric and hot water consumption will be greatly reduced by the new Energy Star units.

Forrest City radio station KXJK hosted a live radio interview to share a project update and general residential energy efficiency with its listeners.

Our faithful Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corporation team was busy installing the new Energy Star appliances, installing the ever-important moisture exhaust fans and preparing the home for the upcoming window replacement component. Matt Irvin, manager of campus services and master electrician, Ed Hill, master carpenter, and Scott Bruce, supervisor of grounds, all possess the skill sets required to achieve this major project. All of the still photography shots and video creative are the work of our professional audio and video technician, Gary Bean.

Week two is shaping up to be a very exciting and busy week.

The ultra-efficient General Electric GeoSpring water heater will be installed. Installation of the efficient WeatherBarr windows provided by Harry G. Barr Windows from Fort Smith will begin. Also, the geothermal loop installer should be on site. Bring your earplugs if you plan to visit. If you’ve never seen this process and would like to learn more, watch this educational video created from a previous Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas model home:

Two of seven guiding principles for electric cooperatives are education, training and information, and commitment to community. Our energy efficiency makeover project gives us the opportunity to practice these principles. All of our participating vendors and product representatives are from Arkansas. Most are electric cooperative members and we are very appreciative of their support.

Thank you for following the project again this year. Check back weekly for more updates! Follow us on Facebook or at www.smartenergytips.org

Until next week,

Bret Curry
AECC

Week 2 

Tropical storm Isaac shut down the makeover project a day early. Yet, in spite of the severe weather threat, week two was productive.

Fred Danforth and his crew from Total Service Company located in Pontotoc, Miss., arrived on the project site and installed the geothermal loops. Total Service Company specializes in geothermal drilling and loop installation. Serving 16 states, Danforth is considered a leader among geothermal installers across America. When completed, the geothermal loops and heat pump will provide the Thomas’ home with the most efficient heating and cooling system on the market.

Four, 210 foot loops were installed directly in front of the makeover house. The loops were spaced approximately 20 feet apart and will be fused together when Rood Heating and Air installs the Water Furnace Envision geothermal heat pump. Be sure to click on the makeover video segments learn about this process. Also, click on the link below for complete geothermal installation details:

The makeover team was able to replace half of the older windows with replacements provided by the Harry G. Barr Company of Fort Smith. The new units were delivered this week. A very efficient vinyl-framed, Low-E glass and Argon gas filled model will replace the old, inefficient single-pane windows.

The new windows have a U-factor of .30. The U-factor is the inverse of R-value. The lower the U-factor…the more efficient and better insulation properties. When replacing windows in Arkansas, request a U-factor of .30 or lower.

The Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC) is .22. A low SHGC is ideal for warm, moist southern climates where we spend a great deal of time in the air-conditioning mode. A low SHGC will retard the radiant heat gain from the sun. When replacing windows, request a SHGC of .29 or less.

The windows also have a Low-E coating on the glass. The coating will reflect or absorb the sun’s radiant heat, thereby preventing it from entering the home. Remember, keeping heat from entering the home during the hot summer months will dramatically improve comfort and lower energy consumption. If you are reading this post and reside in a northern climate, consult your window expert. The location of the Low-E coating and SHGC changes for northern climates.

Week three will take us beyond the halfway point of Makeover 2012. The window replacement component will be completed pending no unforeseen circumstances. At the time of this update, we are awaiting a scheduling notice from Rood Heating & Air and hope to see them next week. The installation of the General Electric GeoSpring Hybrid water heater will be in conjunction with the geothermal system install.

Thank you for following our progress! Have a great Labor Day Weekend.

Until next week,

Bret Curry

AECC

Week 3

We are in the home stretch as we reach the end of week three of Makeover 2012.

Late summer ushered in a final blow of high temperatures, high humidity and hot heat indices, but the crew was able to finish installing the Energy Star rated WeatherBarr windows furnished by the Harry G. Barr Company.

The replacement windows are vinyl-framed, contain Low-E glass and are filled with Argon gas. These high-efficiency windows will replace the old, inefficient single-pane windows.

The new windows have a U-factor of .30. The U-factor is the inverse of R-value. The lower U-factor results in more efficient and better insulation properties. When replacing windows in Arkansas, consumers should request a U-factor of .30 or lower.

The Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC) is .22. A low SHGC is ideal for warm, moist southern climates where residents spend a great deal of time in the air-conditioning mode. A low SHGC will retard the radiant heat gain from the sun. When replacing windows, request a SHGC of .29 or less.

The windows also have a Low-E coating on the glass. The coating reflects or absorbs the sun’s radiant heat, thereby preventing it from entering the home. Remember, keeping heat from entering the home during the hot summer months dramatically improves comfort and lowers energy consumption. Consumers that reside in a northern climate should consult a window expert. The location of the Low-E coating and SHGC is different for northern climates.

The makeover team also addressed the problems with the entry doors at the makeover house. While the doors were actually fairly efficient, they didn’t have proper weather stripping to seal out unwanted air-infiltration. New, high-quality weather stripping kits were installed. Also, the locksets and strike plates were adjusted to allow the doors to close and seal properly.

Week four promises lots of action. If all goes as planned and Murphy’s Law avoids the project site, the team could finish the project next week (week of Sept. 10).

The makeover team will install the metal window trim pieces to the outer portion of each window. This is a labor-intensive project that requires a metal bending, or brake tool. Each trim piece is custom fit. A final caulking application will assure an airtight installation.

Rood Heating and Air from Russellville will be on site to fuse the newly installed geothermal loops and install the new Water Furnace Envision geothermal unit. Click on the makeover video segments learn about this process. Also, click on the link below for complete geothermal installation details:

Rood will also connect the General Electric GeoSpring Hybrid water heater into the domestic hot water feature of the new geothermal system installation. The GeoSpring water heater is the most efficient water heater available on the market.

A team of electric coopeative Building Performance Institute Building analysts will be on site to complete the interior caulking and sealing component. These Arkansas energy efficiency experts will use a blower-door diagnostic machine and infrared thermal imaging to locate any remaining unwanted air-infiltration. Electrical switches and receptacles will receive foam gaskets behind the cover plates. Interior window frames, doorframes, baseboards and plumbing penetrations will be caulked sealed.

The crew will also retrofit all lighting receptacles with compact fluorescent and LED lamps.

Thank you for following our progress!

Until next week,

Bret Curry

AECC

Week 4

We’ve done it!

Thanks to teamwork, sweat equity and our generous sponsors the 2012 Energy Efficiency Makeover is finished! And to all of the sponsoring vendors we offer up a generous “thank you” for your participation. Each component and measure are now working as a system and will provide the Thomas’s a comfortable home and lower utility bills.

You may recall the original “as found” air infiltration test resulted in a leaky .70 NACh. That means 70 percent of the indoor air changed with Mother Nature every hour. Also, the ductwork had 300 cubic feet per minute of air leakage to outside and was disconnected in four places. The house also had improperly installed insulation in the attic and none in the walls.

Incandescent bulbs, non-energy star appliances and an older model heating and cooling package-unit all contributed to an uncomfortable home with high utility bills. The hot summer prompted the Thomas’s to turn off the HVAC in order to curtail utility expenditures.

But those days are over! Rood Heating & Air arrived this week and installed the new Water Furnace Envision Series 5 geothermal heating and cooling system. This ultra-efficient unit is touted as the most efficient residential system on the market. I’m please to report the Water Furnace geothermal heat pump is averaging 15-kilowatt hours daily at a cost of approximately $1.50 per day. Thank you Don Brown and Rood Heating and Air!!

Also, the makeover team and volunteer assistance from Ozarks and Woodruff Electric Cooperatives completed the comprehensive caulking and sealing package. More than 70 tubes of caulking and 24 cans of foam sealant were used to stop unwanted and unmanaged air-infiltration.

And so our final blower-door test revealed an air-infiltration reduction of 33 percent. Also, the home now has a foam thermal barrier, which will greatly retard unwanted heat gain and heatloss from the dwelling. Plus the foam will also serve as a moister barrier.

The Makeover 2012 home now joins our list of growing energy efficiency improvement success stories.

As we wrap up yet anothersuccessful project I want to give a heartfelt thanks to the makeover team. Being away from home and family for almost 15 nights, over four weeks, and living out of a suitcase was no easy task. So, I want to personally thank you for your commitment. You guys were great and I appreciate your hard work!

Thanks again Gregg Holladay and General Electric for their generous contribution of GeoSpring Hybrid water heaters to the makeover project and our 16 finalists! Preliminary indications are the GeoSpring is only using two to three kilowatt-hours daily, thanks to the domestic hot water feature from the Water Furnace Envision!

Many thanks to Mark Barr and the Harry G. Barr Window Company for providing the energy efficient windows. They are performing nicely!

The reduction in air infiltration is a testimony for Tommy Gracy/BPSI Foam Insulators. The Demilac SealEction 500 foam application to the roof decking and the RetroFoam in the sidewalls have greatly reduced the air infiltration and heat gain and losses. Thanks again Tommy!

The Energy Star appliances supplied by General Electric are functioning nicely with less operating amperage and wattage. Both electrical values equate to $avings!

Lastly, everyone is invited to attend our Makeover 2012 dedication event. TENTATIVE PLANS are set for next Friday, Sept. 28. The event is scheduled for 11:00 a.m.at the makeover site. Stay tuned for more details. I hope you will join us. We look forward to seeing you!

Thanks again to all and wish you all the best,

Bret Curry

AECC

Week 5

The makeover team made significant progress this week in spite of the short Labor Day holiday! We only need a couple more days to complete some painting, trim work, sealing the crawlspace vents and other punch list items.

During the intital energy audit the team discovered that the Ferrell's were doing the best they could to manage their electric bill. They kept the window blinds closed and the drapes pulled in order to stop the sun's intense radiant heat from entering the home. Today, closing blinds and drapes is not necessary due to the energy efficient WeatherBarr windows and the Larson energy efficient storm doors that have been installed.

The team used a box blade to repair the lawn which was disturbed while installing the Geothermal header ditch. By next summer, you won't even know there are three geothermal loops in that location.

Wilco Siding and Gutters from Hopewell finished installing the foam-backed vinyl siding. Doing so completes an encapsulating thermal and moisture barrier consisting of foam insulation. Also, gutters were installed to divert water away from the perimeter of the home. Water diversion will help keep the crawlspace dry.

Repairs to the hallway ceiling were made and painting is complete. The ceilings in the main living and dining area were repainted to look like new.

The wood-burning fireplace is gone and the firewood has been given away. A backup generator was provided in the unlikely event of an extensive power outage. A GenerLink safety connection system was installed into the meter socket. The GenerLink provides a quick, easy and extremely safe connection method for hooking up backup generators to residential dwellings. Using a GenerLink protects both the homeowner and electric cooperative personnel from generator back-feed. They also eliminate the need for an expensive transfer switch. Visit www.generlink.com for more details.

After this week, we’ll be ready to bring in our team of Building Performance Institute building analysts for a final comprehensive audit. They will complete the final interior caulking and sealing package, blower door and duct blaster test. The final performance testing is scheduled for Sept. 23.