Kathy Foran - REALTY EXECUTIVES Boston West



Posted by Kathy Foran on 9/20/2020

Most of the time, we build homes to our taste rather than to their environment. And while itís important to have a home that you love to look at, itís also necessary to take your local climate and surroundings into account.

One of the best up-and-coming home architecture styles features something called ďpassive solarĒ design.

In todayís post, Iím going to introduce you to passive solar and talk about why so many homeowners are choosing passive solar homes in todayís age of rising energy costs.

What is a passive solar home?

Passive solar homes utilize four main things to ensure the lowest possible energy usage:

  • The building site

  • The areaís climate and weather

  • Strict building standards involving top quality materials and airtight construction

Letís talk a bit about how these three features help make passive solar homes the most energy efficient homes currently available.

Choosing a site for a passive home can be a complicated and scientific endeavor. In colder climates, this means allowing the home to utilize as much sunlight as possible. The building site, therefore, has to take into account the sunís path throughout the year to provide the home with the best angles for maximum sunlight.

Since sunlight travels lower on the horizon in the winter months and higher in summer months, roofs and overhangs are designed to let in maximum light in the winter time and block out light that would overheat your home in the summertime.

Airflow throughout your home is vital to maintaining comfortable temperatures year-round. Passive homes rely on a heat exchanger system that uses heat from warm areas of your home to heat air that is vented in from the outside.

This means that the air in your home is constantly being circulated and heated without relying on too many outside sources.

Building materials are another key part to passive solar homes. To make an airtight home, special types of sealing and insulation is used.

Furthermore, insulated areas of your home are designed to absorb sunlight throughout the day and slowly release heat after the sun goes down, providing a natural source of heat for the entire 24 hour cycle.

Can I convert my current house into a passive solar home?

While making a home adhere to passive house standards typically requires planning at the construction phase, there are some ways to utilize passive solar techniques in your current home.

Making your home airtight, using thermal mass to slowly heat your home overnight, and taking advantage of heat from the sun are all things that can be retrofitted to a home.

Making these improvements can take time, especially if you plan to change window locations or build an overhanging roof. However, you might find that the upgrades will save you money on energy costs and add to the resale value of your home.




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Posted by Kathy Foran on 1/13/2013

Ceiling fans are an inexpensive way to help with the heating and cooling of your home. You can find many that cost under $100 and they have little ongoing cost. And for those of you who like DIY projects, this one will take you a couple of hours to upgrade an existing light fixture. While ceiling fans donít drastically lower the temperature in a room, they do help to reduce it slightly as well as produce a light breeze which makes you feel cooler. The result? Less use of the air conditioner that results in 3-8% savings on cooling costs. Remember that in the summer months, your fanís blades should be moving counter clockwise. In the winter months, ceiling fans can take on a whole new role. When you reverse the fanís blades to rotate clockwise, you cause the air to circulate without causing that chilly breeze. This allows for better circulation of the warm air that naturally rises to the ceiling. Itís often best to have the fan speed set to low in the winter to avoid too much air movement and the effects of a breeze. Lastly, and maybe the most important, is the decision on which fan to purchase. There are few things to keep in mind when you are out shopping for a ceiling fan. 1. The size of the room Ė ceiling fans come in all sizes and choosing one that is meant for your homeís room dimension is key. Itís recommended that you choose a 40-42 inch blade span for a room 70-100 sq feet and a 42-48 inch for 100-140 sq feet. A room thatís bigger may need two small fans to be effective. 2. The location of the installation Ė for rooms with lower ceilings, a flush mount ceiling fan will work best, while rooms with high ceilings will need a down rod so that the fan is in the right place. You also want to make sure for areas such as an enclosed porch, that you check out the UL (Underwriters Laboratories) rating to ensure the fan has either a damp or wet rating. 3. Finally, you want to pick a fan that fits your decor and life style. Fans come in all sorts of styles and can have features from various lighting to remote controls. Changing a current light fixture in your home to a ceiling fan can saving you hundreds over the life of the fan. Especially with Energy Star rated ceiling fans available, savings can add up quick.





Posted by Kathy Foran on 11/4/2012

Energy costs can really take a toll on our monthly bills. But you can take control of these costs with a few simple steps. And to help out, programs like Mass Save (Masssave.com) and www.energystar.gov will help homeowners save even more. Did you know that even when you turn off appliances, such as your TV, they still use energy? With all the electronics in your house, the energy use can really add up in a year. A quick easy way to control these costs is to get an advanced power strip, where there are multiple plugs for electronics that need to always be on (i.e. your cable box) and those that don't (i.e. you TV). The power strip will automatically turn off those electronics that are in the "don't keep on" sockets when the electronic in the "master" socket is turned off. Mass Save estimates that you can save $30 annually by using one of these on your entertainment system. Mass Save and Energy Star has a variety of other ways to save on energy from product savings (on things like light bulbs and power strips) to rebates for buying energy savings appliances. You can also get a free home energy assessment to help you get started on improving your home's energy savings. And if you are low income, there are programs to help you save on costs even more. Each state has it's own energy savings programs, so even if you aren't from Massachusetts, there are resources available to you. Be sure you contact your state's energy department to find out more about ways to save.