What agreement was reached at the COP21 UN Climate Change Summit?

On Saturday 12th December 2015, as the climate conference in Paris came to a close, one day later than planned, many people sighed with relief that finally an agreement had been reached.

The outcome:

A commitment to aim to hold global warming to 1.5⁰C above pre-industrial levels

$100 billion per year to go to developing countries to assist with less carbon intensive growth

As simple as it sounds, this pact has been the result of more than 20 years of negotiations just to get to Paris, followed by a two week marathon of discussions, dialogues and no doubt many sleepless nights for those who were involved in the negotiations. By the end of the summit 196 countries had signed up to aiming to keep global warming to not more than 1.5⁰C above pre-industrial levels (with a target of less than 2⁰C), which should help to avert the worst potential impacts of climate change.

The signing of the agreement means that both developed and developing countries are both required to limit their emissions, including China and they US. Why are they singled out? Well, it was imperative that these two in particular signed up for the deal because together they emit 35% of the world’s emissions (we cannot feel smug as many of our everyday goods arrive from China every day).

It was also agreed that there will be regular reviews (every five years) to ensure that these commitments align with findings of future scientific research and advice.

One of the sticking points in the earlier conferences was the question of how poorer countries could afford these limits. The Paris conference has resolved that problem by ensuring that finance will be available to poorer nations to help them cut their emissions and adhere to their commitment.  Developed countries have agreed to raise 100 billion dollars per year from 2020 to help developing countries finance less carbon intensive development strategies.

The caps on emissions are not stringent enough for many climate change scientists. An increase in global warming could still, they argue, lead to more droughts, floods, heat waves and sea level rises. Nevertheless, progress of sorts was made because for the first time countries big and small, each with an equal say (and when does that happen?) came together and made a pact to begin, in earnest, combating climate change, something that was unthinkable six months ago.

Photo: Martin

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UN Climate Change Summit targets legally binding agreement limiting emissions

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Source: Yougen

Why Is My Home So Dusty?

If you feel like you have a dusty home, these tips can help you solve and start breathing clean air again!

Do you ever feel like vacuuming your home and dusting once a week doesn’t seem to do anything? Where does this dust come from and how do you resolve it? Years of research shows us that the air we breathe inside of our homes can often times be worse for us than the air outside! The good news is that a dusty home can be remedied with some careful planning.

Of course there is no complete remedy to totally remove all of the dust from our homes but with some simple elbow grease and good knee pads, we can certainly get close to a healthier and happier home :)

With a few simple investigative steps, you can do a lot of the leg work and find where this dust is coming from into your home.

Newer homes fall under improved building codes that regulate the specific amount of duct leakage and air loss through the whole home and hvac contractors are often required to provide documentation and 3rd party testing to verify the integrity of the duct system. Minimizing the dust in your home is like science!

According to ENERGY STAR, the typical home loses about 20-30% of the air flowing through the forced-air system’s ductwork, mostly through holes or gaps around fittings or from unsealed joints between duct sections.

This allows dirty, dusty air from unconditioned spaces into the ductwork, blowing it to your conditioned spaces.

Dusty Home Remedies

  • Check your attic

With the insulation and all of the penetrations inside and outside this can often be the culprit. You will want to look all the light fixtures as it attaches to the drywall. Many of these are often left unsealed during construction and even during retrofit applications. Also check the ductwork. This is the usually the largest culprit of dust getting inside your home. Leaky ductwork can bring small particles such as insulation, fiberglass, etc. directly into the air stream of your heating and air system. Also pull off the registers for the returns and check the gaps between the metal and the drywall. If there are gaps those should be sealed with siliconized acrylic latex caulk.

Pro Tip: If your home is 8 years or older you should check these vital health signs.

Below are few examples of poor duct design and how they cause homes to get dusty.

This heating and air system is located in a basement. All of the ductwork is right below the floor framing. These are obviously easier to inspect and spot problematic areas. Note the return register right above the floor- this is a poor location because it will pick up dust easier and bring it into the system and your home. We would recommend to move the register up higher in the system.

old ductwork in basement

old ductwork in basement

 

Some older systems and homes utilized “duct board” instead of sheet metal or tin for running return and supply registers. The outside is laminated with a foil tape but the inside is uncoated fiberglass. This material should have been outlawed everywhere! The joints are sealed with tape which can often fall part and begin sucking in dusty air. Our solution and recommendation would be remove all of the duct board and build fully insulated plenums out of sheet metal.

duct board system

duct board system

 

Note this return plenum with different sizing and transitions. These types of systems are problematic because the joints and connectors are often sealed partially or not at all. These are wrapped with foil insulation on the outside and can be difficult to inspect without removing the foil insulation. Here again, you would want to seal the joints and connectors with caulk. Another point to inspect is where the ductwork comes through the drywall. Sometimes the ductwork is screwed to the drywall instead of ran through the drywall completely. As we inspected this duct system, we found that the round ductwork was only flanged out and screwed into the drywall in 2 places. There were large enough gaps to fit fingers through!

old return plenum

old return plenum

Note in this system below that there is no door to cover the air filter located right above the furnace. This will pull in all sorts of dust bunnies! Also, this home was uncomfortable in different parts of the house and so a previous “contractor” came in and stabbed the flexible ductwork into the system. The hole in the drywall was not trimmed out to protect air leakage and the there is no connector for the ductwork to attach to the existing duct system. Work like this will surely cause a dusty home.

We removed this ductwork and installed a complete new plenum that penetrated through the attic where we could properly attach and run new insulated ductwork. What a difference this will make!

bad duct design

bad duct design

In the picture below, notice the connectors inside of the duct plenum. This allows a great seal and close to zero air loss. This can only be inspected from inside the attic.

complete new return plenum

complete new return plenum

And of course, if your cats are hanging out on the ductwork, chances are good that there are multiple leaks throughout the ductwork system!

old ductwork with cat

old ductwork with cat

repairing dusty home

repairing dusty home

 

  • Check your crawlspace

I know this can seem daunting but have no fear! Get a great flashlight with good batteries, a pair of great knee pads, a long sleeve shirt and BAM you’re good to stay under there for hours! (kidding). Also make sure to tell someone you are going under there!

The critical point you will want to inspect for dust entering the airflow is directly underneath the furnace. The “supply plenum” is where all of the ductwork takes off to the various parts of your house.

Below is a perfect example of major loss of airflow. Think of the dust that enters into this home! This type of degradation will certainly cause a dusty home!

The condensation from the air conditioning system had been leaking into this ductwork and eventually rusted through this inferior sheet metal. Yes, there is inferior sheet metal materials- more about this in a later blog article.

If you zoom in on this picture you can also see through the connectors attached to this box. This is more common than you’d think.

faulty supply plenum

faulty supply plenum

It doesn’t take a trained person to know this isn’t right… But wait- didn’t a “trained” hvac person install this wrong years ago??

This is why a visual inspection on your existing duct system can be so valuable.

poorly installed duct system

poorly installed duct system

 

Air filters

Enough can not be said about the quality of your filters for your hvac system. If you find that you are constantly changing dirty filters every couple of months or more often, seriously consider making an investment in a better quality air filtration system. There are many options now available; from UV lights, to odor removing charcoal systems.

In summary-

There are many other potential and problematic areas for dusty homes but this is a perfect start. As you inspect your attic and your crawlspace, look around at other systems tied into your home- bathroom exhaust fans, plumbing connections in and out of interior walls, can lights are another major culprit of causing dusty homes…

Take pictures of the problems you see as this can be helpful in finding solutions and remedies either if you do the work or if you hire someone in to complete the work.

Who should you hire to diagnose and complete this work? Many hvac companies are competent and perform great services in this area. That being said, your dusty home is probably due to inferior work in the first place. So make sure to check prior work and if the hvac company makes repairs to existing duct systems. It is helpful to let the technician fully inspect and diagnose without any guidance from you, the homeowner. Compare your findings with his and see what he finds (or misses).

 

Home inspectors are great resources for finding remedies for a dusty home; not just when you decide to sell your home. If you are suspecting that there is excessive dust in your home, seriously consider contacting a licensed and certified home inspector.

Another valuable resource is a local duct blasting company These guys provide test equipment that can determine the exact amount of loss through your duct system and can provide remedies to start freeing up your time- because life’s too short to be dusting your home. Especially when it can be fixed!

 

Drop us your questions in the comments below!

The post Why Is My Home So Dusty? appeared first on Access Heating and Air Conditioning.

Will 2016 Be The Year That Smart Homes Really Take Off?

The start of each New Year is usually met with the declaration that it’s going to be “The Year Of The Smart Home”. The growth of the market is indubitable, but at what point do you decide that something that’s the “next big thing” has officially ‘arrived’?

According to GFK, 91% of consumers are aware of the term “smart home”. This seems somewhat generous in its estimation. Of course, the majority of our blog readers have an active interest in smart home technology, but I’m sure I’m not alone in having family members that had never considered controlling anything via an app prior to my suggesting it. In fact, trying to explain what an ‘app’ is to my Grandma is a challenge in itself!

Trends & Opportunities

So let’s start by taking a look at where the smart home market is headed. Unsurprisingly, Germany is still streets ahead of everyone else in Europe when it comes to the adoption of smart home technology. However, the French are hot on their heels, with America and China also investing heavily in the race to grab a slice of the pie.

In the UK we’re seeing a more lethargic uptake, however, some of the larger retailers, such as John Lewis are now stocking a small selection of off-the-shelf-products such as Nest.

connectedhomedevicecategories-1Global connected home device shipments will grow at a compound annual rate of 67% over the next five years to reach 1.8 billion units shipped in 2019, according to BI Intelligence estimates. These devices include everything from smart thermostats to smart washing machines, so it’s clear there is opportunity abound, however, not all opportunity is created equal.

From the chart we can see that smart appliances are actually predicted to have a much smaller growth compared to smart home security and smart home energy.

This aligns with GFK’s report that the four most appealing aspects of a smart home to consumers are “saving time, saving money, gaining control and enjoying peace of mind through enhanced safety and security”. This is something we looked at in more depth in our previous blog, which you can find here.

UK Mass Market Adoption

Smart Home Market Adoption GraphSo where are we in terms of mass market adoption? We’ve all heard that exponential growth is on the cards, but when will it really happen?

Some believe we’re going to experience a bit of a plateau before things really start taking off. The early adopters have got what they were looking for, but the masses aren’t quite ready for smart homes just yet.

In order to tip the boulder over the brow of the hill, we’re going to have to get some momentum going. That momentum requires three things: awareness, education and simplicity.

Point products like Nest and Hive have done a great job at raising awareness of smart home technology in the consumer sphere, and have lowered the barriers to entry for many homeowners.

We need to be there to help consumers understand the value in smart home technology in a way that reveals the true tangible benefits for every individual, whether that’s saving £400 on your energy bill with zoned heating or receiving confirmation on your phone that your child has arrived home from school safely.

Finally, we need to keep things simple. Smart homes need to be simple to understand and easy to use. It’s the only way the ‘home of the future’ will really become the home of today.

Want To Become A Smart Home Installer?

toolkit_supermanWe have a fantastic Partner program for installers who love home automation as much as we do.

We run regular training courses from our state-of-the art showroom and training facilities in Reading.

You can also get started straight away for free – our configuration software and apps are available for free from our website, and we have several video tutorials available on our YouTube channel.

Training Dates

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Santa’s top 7 festive green tips

Santa’s gone green this Christmas. Here, hot off the press, are his 7 top festive green tips:

1. People are an energy source – no not like in the Matrix! Have a party, enjoy yourself in the comfort of knowing all those extra bodies are warming your house for free.

2. Use energy efficient LEDs in your Christmas decorations and solar powered fairy lights outside.

3. Reuse that tree! If you’re using an artificial Christmas tree try to hang onto it for as many years as possible.

4. If you want a real Christmas tree try to find one that is grown locally in the UK. Or better yet, grow your own. Beware though – a Christmas tree can take some maintaining, so you’d better have green fingers!

5. Go natural with decorations like mistletoe and holly that can be composted when Christmas is over.

6. Remember the house doesn’t need to be festive when no one is home. Don’t forget to turn out unnecessary lights.

7. Make a New Year’s green resolution, whether it’s being better at recycling or adding some solar panels.

Finally, a Very Merry Christmas! We’ll leave you with a suprisingly Yorkshire sounding Elvis’ eco penguin Christmas song:

Image: Miwok

More information about Energy Saving and Renewable Energy on YouGen

Find an installer.

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Christmas Crackers – 7 festive energy saving jokes

Need help with any Jargon?

Santa’s top 7 festive green tips

Santa’s gone green this Christmas. Here, hot off the press, are his 7 top festive green tips:

1. People are an energy source – no not like in the Matrix! Have a party, enjoy yourself in the comfort of knowing all those extra bodies are warming your house for free.

2. Use energy efficient LEDs in your Christmas decorations and solar powered fairy lights outside.

3. Reuse that tree! If you’re using an artificial Christmas tree try to hang onto it for as many years as possible.

4. If you want a real Christmas tree try to find one that is grown locally in the UK. Or better yet, grow your own. Beware though – a Christmas tree can take some maintaining, so you’d better have green fingers!

5. Go natural with decorations like mistletoe and holly that can be composted when Christmas is over.

6. Remember the house doesn’t need to be festive when no one is home. Don’t forget to turn out unnecessary lights.

7. Make a New Year’s green resolution, whether it’s being better at recycling or adding some solar panels.

Finally, a Very Merry Christmas! We’ll leave you with a suprisingly Yorkshire sounding Elvis’ eco penguin Christmas song:

Image: Miwok

More information about Energy Saving and Renewable Energy on YouGen

Find an installer.

Related blogs

Christmas Crackers – 7 festive energy saving jokes

Need help with any Jargon?

Santa’s top 7 festive green tips

Santa’s gone green this Christmas. Here, hot off the press, are his 7 top festive green tips:

1. People are an energy source – no not like in the Matrix! Have a party, enjoy yourself in the comfort of knowing all those extra bodies are warming your house for free.

2. Use energy efficient LEDs in your Christmas decorations and solar powered fairy lights outside.

3. Reuse that tree! If you’re using an artificial Christmas tree try to hang onto it for as many years as possible.

4. If you want a real Christmas tree try to find one that is grown locally in the UK. Or better yet, grow your own. Beware though – a Christmas tree can take some maintaining, so you’d better have green fingers!

5. Go natural with decorations like mistletoe and holly that can be composted when Christmas is over.

6. Remember the house doesn’t need to be festive when no one is home. Don’t forget to turn out unnecessary lights.

7. Make a New Year’s green resolution, whether it’s being better at recycling or adding some solar panels.

Finally, a Very Merry Christmas! We’ll leave you with a suprisingly Yorkshire sounding Elvis’ eco penguin Christmas song:

Image: Miwok

More information about Energy Saving and Renewable Energy on YouGen

Find an installer.

Related blogs

Christmas Crackers – 7 festive energy saving jokes

Need help with any Jargon?

Santa’s top 7 festive green tips

Santa’s gone green this Christmas. Here, hot off the press, are his 7 top festive green tips:

1. People are an energy source – no not like in the Matrix! Have a party, enjoy yourself in the comfort of knowing all those extra bodies are warming your house for free.

2. Use energy efficient LEDs in your Christmas decorations and solar powered fairy lights outside.

3. Reuse that tree! If you’re using an artificial Christmas tree try to hang onto it for as many years as possible.

4. If you want a real Christmas tree try to find one that is grown locally in the UK. Or better yet, grow your own. Beware though – a Christmas tree can take some maintaining, so you’d better have green fingers!

5. Go natural with decorations like mistletoe and holly that can be composted when Christmas is over.

6. Remember the house doesn’t need to be festive when no one is home. Don’t forget to turn out unnecessary lights.

7. Make a New Year’s green resolution, whether it’s being better at recycling or adding some solar panels.

Finally, a Very Merry Christmas! We’ll leave you with a suprisingly Yorkshire sounding Elvis’ eco penguin Christmas song:

Image: Miwok

More information about Energy Saving and Renewable Energy on YouGen

Find an installer.

Related blogs

Christmas Crackers – 7 festive energy saving jokes

Need help with any Jargon?

Santa’s top 7 festive green tips

Santa’s gone green this Christmas. Here, hot off the press, are his 7 top festive green tips:

1. People are an energy source – no not like in the Matrix! Have a party, enjoy yourself in the comfort of knowing all those extra bodies are warming your house for free.

2. Use energy efficient LEDs in your Christmas decorations and solar powered fairy lights outside.

3. Reuse that tree! If you’re using an artificial Christmas tree try to hang onto it for as many years as possible.

4. If you want a real Christmas tree try to find one that is grown locally in the UK. Or better yet, grow your own. Beware though – a Christmas tree can take some maintaining, so you’d better have green fingers!

5. Go natural with decorations like mistletoe and holly that can be composted when Christmas is over.

6. Remember the house doesn’t need to be festive when no one is home. Don’t forget to turn out unnecessary lights.

7. Make a New Year’s green resolution, whether it’s being better at recycling or adding some solar panels.

Finally, a Very Merry Christmas! We’ll leave you with a suprisingly Yorkshire sounding Elvis’ eco penguin Christmas song:

Image: Miwok

More information about Energy Saving and Renewable Energy on YouGen

Find an installer.

Related blogs

Christmas Crackers – 7 festive energy saving jokes

Need help with any Jargon?

Santa’s top 7 festive green tips

Santa’s gone green this Christmas. Here, hot off the press, are his 7 top festive green tips:

1. People are an energy source – no not like in the Matrix! Have a party, enjoy yourself in the comfort of knowing all those extra bodies are warming your house for free.

2. Use energy efficient LEDs in your Christmas decorations and solar powered fairy lights outside.

3. Reuse that tree! If you’re using an artificial Christmas tree try to hang onto it for as many years as possible.

4. If you want a real Christmas tree try to find one that is grown locally in the UK. Or better yet, grow your own. Beware though – a Christmas tree can take some maintaining, so you’d better have green fingers!

5. Go natural with decorations like mistletoe and holly that can be composted when Christmas is over.

6. Remember the house doesn’t need to be festive when no one is home. Don’t forget to turn out unnecessary lights.

7. Make a New Year’s green resolution, whether it’s being better at recycling or adding some solar panels.

Finally, a Very Merry Christmas! We’ll leave you with a suprisingly Yorkshire sounding Elvis’ eco penguin Christmas song:

Image: Miwok

More information about Energy Saving and Renewable Energy on YouGen

Find an installer.

Related blogs

Christmas Crackers – 7 festive energy saving jokes

Need help with any Jargon?

Santa’s top 7 festive green tips

Santa’s gone green this Christmas. Here, hot off the press, are his 7 top festive green tips:

1. People are an energy source – no not like in the Matrix! Have a party, enjoy yourself in the comfort of knowing all those extra bodies are warming your house for free.

2. Use energy efficient LEDs in your Christmas decorations and solar powered fairy lights outside.

3. Reuse that tree! If you’re using an artificial Christmas tree try to hang onto it for as many years as possible.

4. If you want a real Christmas tree try to find one that is grown locally in the UK. Or better yet, grow your own. Beware though – a Christmas tree can take some maintaining, so you’d better have green fingers!

5. Go natural with decorations like mistletoe and holly that can be composted when Christmas is over.

6. Remember the house doesn’t need to be festive when no one is home. Don’t forget to turn out unnecessary lights.

7. Make a New Year’s green resolution, whether it’s being better at recycling or adding some solar panels.

Finally, a Very Merry Christmas! We’ll leave you with a suprisingly Yorkshire sounding Elvis’ eco penguin Christmas song:

Image: Miwok

More information about Energy Saving and Renewable Energy on YouGen

Find an installer.

Related blogs

Christmas Crackers – 7 festive energy saving jokes

Need help with any Jargon?