Home Energy Savings
We often find ourselves taking the easy way out of things. Doing a little less just to save us a minute or two here and there. Not taking that extra step needed to make whatever it is you are working on perfect or completed to the best of your ability. It is just the kind of society we live in. We want everything to be finished as quickly as possible and rarely do we take all the necessary steps to finish something. It reminds me of the going green movement or using sustainable energy. Going green is hard, it’s different- it’s not a typical lifestyle of someone in this generation. And before going and meeting the people at Phoenixlink Inc., I too, did not think so highly of it. My first impression instantly was that I had to drive a Prius and never use air conditioning. Surely enough I was wrong, and although those two things would help, they are not the only adjustments people can make to accompany this movement to make our society a better, healthier living place.
As I first approached the door of Phoenixlink, I had no idea what to expect. I instantly felt comfortable because I was greeted and welcomed by the secretary Janelle Downey. Janelle is a native of Media, Pennsylvania and graduated from Gettysburg College with a B.A. in Sociology. With Janelle comes her 30 plus years of customer service and training experience. She also has a Fellow, Life Management Institute (FLMI) certification in addition to the ACS (Associate, Customer Service) from the Life Management Institute. Talking with her, you can just get the feeling of how much passion she has for renewable energy and she is ecstatic about the future of this company. She also has completed the Solar PV Entry-level training, as well as being awarded the Associate, Customer Service designation from the Life Management Institute. Janelle showed me around their beautiful workplace from office to office and meeting rooms.
She then introduced me to Brian Remmey. Brian, a project management professional, is a very special man. Brian is a retired Army Ranger and Special Forces officer of over 20 years of active service. He was responsible for developing and directing DoD contract programs in Afghanistan and Iraq from 2001-2008. Since retiring he has joined Phoenixlink and directs the company’s operations, sales and marketing. He was trained at SEI and Infinite Solar, which helped him pass his NABCEP entry exam and is now currently apprenticing in the renewable energy system design responsibilities. He graduated from Troy University with an M.S. in International Relations and a B.A. in Business Administration from Gettysburg College. Brian is also active in his church and community, as well as many Lancaster area veterans’ organizations including the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, Manheim VFW, Lancaster MOAA and district 36 Veterans Advisory Council.
The next employee is someone who I never got to meet but I sure would like to in the near future. His name is James (Jim) Cramer. James is the President and founder of Phoenixlink, Inc. Jim first became interested in alternative energy as a teenager in California. His vision and passion for alternative energy pushes the company forward and helps it grow into a marketplace that currently is very competitive. He, along with Brian, served in our country’s military. He served for 22 years as an Army paratrooper, infantryman, and a medic. He is currently in the process of completing a degree in geography and environmental studies here at Millersville University. Jim is the face of Phoenixlink, Inc. and he is a certified Residential and Commercial home inspector and energy auditor. Jim is also a trained PV Solar and Solar Thermal installer. He is also active in his church as well as in the community. Jim is a part of the Knights of Columbus, American Legion and VFW.
As you can tell, Phoenixlink, Inc. has extraordinary people working there and their mission is has the right objective. Phoenixlink’s mission is to “craft a cleaner, greener and more sustainable world by encouraging the responsible and efficient use of renewable resources. We perform professional home inspections and energy audits to help you identify immediate energy cost savings. We deliver right-sized and right-priced renewable energy solutions to Lancaster area residents and businesses to help you reduce your carbon footprint. In the quality of our service and our workmanship, we will exceed your expectations, and we will ensure you are best positioned to earn the best financial return on your investment.”
As you can see in their mission statement above their motives are correct and they work day in and day out to try and fulfill their objectives. With two of their three main employees being retired Veterans you can imagine the pride they have in the United States of America. With over 40 years of service between Jim and Brian they are second to none.
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On their website, www.phoenixlink.org, they preach buying American made products and they certainly have a good point. Americans should buy American; we live in the greatest country in the world, why would we want to spend our money with anyone else? We should make it a point to ourselves to see if it is American made before we buy something. Phoenixlink, Inc. recommends only high quality American made products. While other countries are improving their products and importing them into our country it is hurting our country. It is putting people out of work and hurting our status. Phoenixlink, Inc., along with trying to make our country greener, is also trying to regain that ability to restore confidence in our society that buying American made products is a good thing. They take a strong stand in believing in America, employing Americans, and rebuilding our country back to where it should be.
With today’s economy, saving money has become a passion. That is why Phoenixlink, Inc. offers energy auditing. That means getting down to the little things in your homes or businesses. Something as simple as the right light bulb could save you a lot of money in the long run. This is an example of energy efficiency. Another way Phoenixlink, Inc. encourages saving is energy conservation, which is paying attention to not using energy when you don’t have to use it. Simply stated, but very truthful. Phoenixlink offers complete energy efficiency and conservation solutions for your home and/or business.
Phoenixlink Inc. understands that the average person cannot look at their home or business and realize what they can do to cut down on costs. They are Home Performance Professionals and well tell you how you can get to the minimum price while using the maximum energy you need. Phoenixlink will make improvements to your home or businesses weak points. Most people have drafts, leaks, and excessive dirt and dust that they do not even know about. They will find them and exploit them to increase your comfort at home or at work and all the while, saving energy, which in the end puts money back in your pocket. As Phoenixlink states, “We don’t just apply a band-aid as a fix; we will define a solution to solve the entire problem.”
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Home Energy Audits
There are different types, or levels, of Home Energy Audits, which I will go through. First you have to schedule a Home Energy Audit. This is defined as an analysis of a home or business which indicates how and where that home or business can save energy cost and reduce energy consumption. Energy auditing can be performed on any type of building. There are three levels in Phoenixlink’s process.
Level one is a basic, on site visual inspection of the energy systems and major components of the home and their documentation. These include electrical service, water, HVAC, windows, doors, and also the lighting and appliance configurations, along with a reviewing of your billing history. After completion of the Home energy assessment, Phoenixlink will provide a detailed report and make suggestions for improving energy efficiency and energy conservation.
Level two is a diagnostic home energy assessment. This is more detailed and more advanced than level one. It includes all of the steps mentioned in level one along with more advanced technical testing methods. These include a blower door test, a combustion safety test, and evaluation of the HVAC ductwork efficiency and thermal imaging. At the end of this level 2 assessment a more detailed report will be given to the customer, with a very specific list of actions that the homeowner or business owner can complete along with the recommendations for repair and/or upgrades.
Level three is a comprehensive home energy assessment. This is the final and most detailed step in the process. In addition to what was mentioned in the basic and diagnostic assessments, the third step includes further technical performance testing and proposed treatments for energy efficiency and conservation studies, along with, consultations with industry professionals. The purpose of this program is to fully implement the recommendations made, so Phoenixlink also conducts a final assessment and survey for when the repairs are to be completed by Phoenixlink, Inc. They are also able to issue industry ratings and certifications and provide and report data back to Federal and State programs on your contributions.
With Phoenixlink being certified auditors, they will help you understand the options that are available to you. Along with that, as a home performance professional, Phoenixlink will provide you with cost effective solutions for the scope of work to be accomplished. You may be thinking to yourself, is it really worth it? Take a look at these points that Phoenixlink posted on their website for why they think it is beneficial for you to take these actions:
-Reduced energy costs & lower utility bills
-Leveraging of Federal and State tax and/or rebate incentives
-A tighter, more comfortable, draft-free residence or building
-Improved indoor air quality
-Measurable maintenance schedules
-Reduced carbon footprint; increased greenprint on the environment
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There are things you can do right now. For example, you can change your incandescent light bulbs to an energy saving type. These types include CFL or LED. CFLs (Compact fluorescent lamp) are more efficient than the incandescent bulbs. A CFL bulb uses 3-4 times less power and lasts 6-10 times longer than an incandescent bulb of equivalent brightness. Put this fact in perspective: 50-70% of the world’s total lighting market sales are incandescent. If all of the existing inefficient lighting were replaced with CFLs, 409 terawatt hours of electricity would be saved per year. That is 2.3% of the world’s electricity consumption! Considering our countries high demand for energy, replacing the incandescent bulbs in the US alone would save us 80 terawatt hours annually, that’s nearly 20% of the energy required for lighting. The other type, LED (Lighting Emitting Diodes), use 1/50 of the energy of a standard bulb and last 10 times longer than their CFL alternatives. A typical LED bulb can last up to 15 years without needing to be changed. They are not as versatile in traditional light fixtures, however and are generally more expensive than CFLs.
A little rule of thumb you might have heard before is to change certain things and check for certain things when daylight savings time comes around each year. Here is a very helpful list Phoenixlink put together:
-Replace HVAC filters; replace smoke alarm batteries; reverse ceiling fans; raise/lower storm windows
-Light Wall Colors Minimize Need for Lighting
-Thaw frozen food before cooking (but not in the microwave)
-Turning lights off when you leave the room
-Close Vents and doors in Unused Rooms
-Keep Furniture & Rugs Away From Heating Vents
-Seasonally Adjust Light/Heavy Drapes
-Remove Window A/C Unit In Winter
-Door Socks for drafts under doors
-Check Windows and Wall for Air Leaks
-Reseal doors and windows with proper weather stripping
-Increase proper insulation in attic and dead spaces
-Install and manage a programmable thermostat
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Saving on Water
Along with saving on energy, we also need to think about saving on the amount of water we use. We often think of water as a never ending source but we still need to consider that saving water and controlling our water usage will save money in the long run. Here is another list Phoenixlink put together to help save water:
-Wrap / insulate hot water tank
-Take warm, not hot, shower
-Reduce length of time in shower; bathe children together
-Don’t let water run unnecessarily; turn off water while brushing teeth/shaving
-Be sure to turn faucets completely off
-Repair that leaky faucet repair; repair that running toilet
-Match water level to laundry load
-Full dishwasher loads
-Put water jug in fridge v. running tap water
-Use leftover water in bottles for plants
-Bring snow inside to melt & water indoor plants
-Save rain water to water plants/set indoor plants outside on a rainy day
-Check sprinkler system in spring
-Turn outdoor water off during winter
-Water lawn and garden after 8 pm or before 8 am
-Know where main water shutoff valve is located
-Check pool for leaks; check for leaks around pool filters and pumps
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Mold Testing & Mold Inspections
Phoenixlink provides Mold Testing and Mold Inspection services to provide you the help you need. They will perform samplings and an air quality analysis in different areas of your home. It is normal to find a small amount of airborne mold during mold testing, but Phoenixlink will let you know if your rooms have a more dangerous level. Be aware, the most dangerous mold is that which you cannot see. Use your sense of smell to try and pinpoint the location of the mold. If you can smell dampness in your house, this is a sign that mold may be present.
Mold is comprised of small organisms that belong to the fungi family. They are part of the natural environment and play an important and normal role in the environment by breaking down and digesting organic material, such as dead leaves and plants. Mold spreads by producing spores. It is those spores that cause allergic reactions and illnesses in people and animals. Mold can thrive almost anywhere but grows especially well on surfaces that are comprised of cellulose such as textiles and paper. This growth can quickly lead to property damage and health concerns so all indoor mold should be considered hazardous and should be removed. Awareness and proper cleanliness should prevent the growth and spread of mold in the home. Phoenixlink’s certified mold inspector can help pinpoint the exact location of any mold you cannot see, diagnose the type of mold present, and then determine a path to solving your problem. Solutions may involve remediation, but should always include implementing strategy of preventative measures.
A Mold Inspection is a comprehensive visual inspection of your home to look for mold. A mold inspection should be performed if one or more of these situations are present:
-Fungal spore count or visual presence indicators are high.
-An area was exposed to water or high humidity and people are occupying or have contact with the air from this area.
-There are immune deficient individuals or individuals who have sensitivity to molds, such as infants, children and the elderly.
-Family members experience unexplained illness, such as burning sensations, sore throats, breathing difficulties, coughing, congestion and frequent respiratory infections.
-Mold is uncovered during a home renovation.
In the performance of the mold inspection, the inspector from Phoenixlink will examine all areas of your home with various tools and the resulting inspection report can include:
-Photographs of infected areas
-A written plan of action or suggested course of action
-A diagnosis of the source of the mold (minimum of three (3) sample will be taken)
-Laboratory test results of samples taken and analyzed
Protection against the threat of mold is your first defense. Awareness of wet, moist areas in your house and rectifying the problem before the mold has a chance to grow will help prevent future mold-causing illnesses. There are many ways you can reduce mold in your home; all of these have to do with reducing the amount of water and moisture in and around your home, reduce the humidity level in the air inside the home, and reducing and preventing condensation.
1. Reduce moisture – when leaks occur, act quickly. If wet or damp materials are dried within 24-48 hours after they become wet, mold is not likely to occur
-Inspect, clean and repair gutters annually
-Make sure the ground slopes away from the foundation of your home so water does not enter through the foundation.
-Clean and inspect air conditioning drip pans regularly, and take steps to correct any problems with water in and around air conditioning units
-Keep the humidity low in the residence. Ideally, the relative humidity should be at 60 or below.
-If you see condensation on the inside surface of your windows or on plumbing pipes, act quickly to remove the excess moisture. Condensation can be a sign that the relative humidity inside the building is too high.
2. Reduce humidity
-Run the bathroom fan after showering, until you can no longer see condensation on surfaces such as -mirrors and windows. Run the fan even longer to speed up drying of towels.
-Run air conditioners and dehumidifiers when possible.
-Vent appliances to the outside, especially those that produce moisture, such as clothes dryers, stoves and kerosene heaters.
-Avoid using indoor clotheslines. If you must dry clothes indoors, do so in a well-ventilated warm room -so clothes dry as quickly as possible.
3. Reduce Condensation
-Increase ventilation and air movement by opening windows (when possible) and using ceiling fans.
-Cover cold surfaces such as cold water pipes and toilets, with insulation
-Increase indoor air temperature
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As you can see Phoenixlink Inc. has a lot to offer. If you are a surrounding member of the Lancaster community I suggest you contact them if you are having similar problems with home and businesses. You can contact them at (717) 824-4489/4490 or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org or Janelle.email@example.com. If you do not know what you should do or you want pick up some tips for yourself you should visit their website at www.phoenixlink.org.
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