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Saturday, Sept. 8, 2012 Fairbanks, Alaska

Energy Savers



Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Saturday, September 8, 2012

Nonprofit corporation works to help slash energy use

INDEX Making your small business green ....... 4 The Home Energy Rebate Program ...... 7



iguring out how to slash a costly energy bill is tough for many Interior residents, but the crews at Interior Weatherization know where to look for the usual suspects. The nonprofit corporation, which has operated since the 1980s, evaluates and upgrades about 500 homes per year in the area. Paul Woodman, a quality control evaluator for Interior Weatherization, said attics and crawl spaces are the most typical areas of heat loss, because of inadequate insulation or poor air sealing. Instead of examining those hard-toreach spaces, qualifying residents are eligible to get a free look from Interior Weatherization and perhaps an upgrade that will boost their home’s efficiency. The weatherization program, funded by the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation, cuts an estimated average of 24 percent from a home’s previous energy consumption, Woodman said. “We really take pride in that the money we get from the state, we put all we can into the homes,” Woodman said. Improvements can include adding insulation, improving a thermal seal, replacing an inefficient boiler or heating system, or boosting a home’s ventilation.

Advantages and disadvantages of recycling .............................. 8 Recycling items around the house .............. 9 Decoding boiler jargon ............................ 11 What stack effect can do to your home ......................... 12 Improving your home’s energy efficiency ... 13

Jeff Richardson/News-Miner

A Joshua Industries employee checks out a heater while working on a new boiler unit at a North Pole-area home Aug. 31. The upgrade was one of a series

The best time and ways to season wood ............................ 15

The weatherization program provides weatherization work on houses, apartments, & mobile homes for qualified households.

HOME WEATHERIZATION Renters and homeowners with low to moderate income may be eligible for thermal doors, windows, insulation, air-sealing, weather-stripping and heating system repair at absolutely no cost. Save money on your fuel and electric bills! The paperwork is extremely simple!

A household is automatically eligible if any household resident documents receipt of SSI, Energy Assistance (LIHEAP), ATAP, TANF, Senior Care Benefits, APA/IA or Food Stamps. Homes weatherized before April 2008, are eligible to be re-weatherized.

Annual Income Guidelines Size Max. Income Denali Nenana Household FNSB Borough & Delta 1 $59,300 $68,500 $49,800 2 67,700 78,300 56,900 3 76,200 88,100 64,000 4 84,600 97,800 71,100

Interior Weatherization, Inc. today for details! 452-5323 or Long Distance 1-800-478-5323 713 15th Avenue Download application at: 11401157-9-8-12ET

Funded by Alaska Housing Finance Corp., US Dept. of Energy, and the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)





Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Saturday, September 8, 2012 Paid Advertising Content

The old NAPA building, the Big Blue Building, located at 1001 College Rd, is where you will find the true meaning of excellent customer service and quality at an affordable price. Cold Country Hearth & Patio has the widest selection of quality hearth and patio products in the Fairbanks area. Cold Country Hearth & Patio was opened to give Interior Alaska residents a choice to shop at a local store with some of the best brands in the industry and be given the best customer service possible. In these hard times we believe that heat should be affordable to anyone, no matter your budget, which is why we offer a variety of stoves, inserts, and fireplaces that are friendly to the pocket book as well as friendly to the environment. We are here to provide you the best quality

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Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Saturday, September 8, 2012

NONPROFIT Continued from Page 2

The program is free to home occupants, including homeowners and tenants in rental units. When rental units are upgraded, however, a contribution from the landlord is required for substantial improvements. Annual income guidelines for the program range from $59,300 for a person living alone to $98,200 for a family of six. There’s a waiting list to receive the service, but Executive Director Angela Ketzler said it typically isn’t a lengthy one. Clients with the program must also take a two-hour class on boosting energy effi-

ciency before a home evaluation is done. Not every home needs efficiency improvements, but the evaluations also include safety measures, like checking smoke alarms, carbon monoxide levels and fire extinguishers. “Our main intention is to help the client save money,� Ketzler said. “But when we see a health and safety issue, you can’t ignore it.� More information about the program, along with a link to the program application, is available online at Forms and information also are available at the Interior Weatherization office at 713 15th Ave. Contact staff writer Jeff Richardson at 459-7518.

How to make your business sustainable By Anica Wong


here’s no hotter trend these days than being “green.� If you’re not buying compact fluorescent light bulbs for your house, then your friends might say you hate the environment. Compost piles and recycling bins are the new accessories for any sustainable household. Companies are starting to jump on the bandwagon, too. But for small businesses that can’t hire a sustainability expert, there can be a hesitation to make any big changes. That shouldn’t be the mentality that small companies use, said K.J. McCorry, a former member of the Connected Organizations for a Responsible Economy board. “Employees want to work

Start by focusing on the low-hanging fruit when auditing for ways to become more environmentally friendly. The most common thing is lighting, which can comprise up to 60 percent of an electric bill for a small company. with companies that are ‘doing the right thing’ and being proactive with corporate environmental and social programs,� she said. A 2007 survey by Adecco, an international human resources company, found that 52 percent of employed adults feel their companies should do more about the environment. Start by focusing on the

low-hanging fruit when auditing for ways to become more environmentally friendly. The most common thing is lighting, which can comprise up to 60 percent of an electric bill for a small company. “Things become obsolete quickly. With incandescent light bulbs being phased out, Please see BUSINESS, Page 6

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Who has the power to use less energy? YOU do. We’re bringing you stories of real Alaskans who are saving money by using less power. Find our more: tHWFBDPNSFTPVSDFTTBWF tZPVUVCFDPN(PMEFO7BMMFZ&MFDUSJD tCMPHHWFBDPN tGBDFCPPL(PMEFO7BMMFZ&MFDUSJD Your neighbors are saving on their electric bills. You can, too.


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Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Saturday, September 8, 2012 photo courtesy of GreenStreet Solutions

all the time be put on light sensors. This will eliminate unused rooms from sucking energy and adding to the elecContinued from Page 4 tric bill. While recycling has become businesses still have a lot of outdated lighting,” said Nicole an easy way to help planet Earth, upcycling might not be Stika, the director of energy as common. Upcycling, which programs at the Council of Stika defines as being able Smaller Enterprises. There are a few options, she to repurpose a material, is especially important for comsaid. Companies can go with panies that have a lot of waste the compact fluorescent light material left over from creatbulbs, which are an inexpensive option, or they can opt for ing, packaging and shipping light-emitting diodes. Though products. She points to an example LED lighting can cost more at the beginning, Stika said that from The Taylor Companies, they produce 10 times greater one of the oldest chair manufacturing companies in the savings than CFLs. If your United States. According to company is going to stay in Stika, it was able to cut down the building for an extended to zero percent in waste each amount of time, it probably would be worth it to spring for year. It sold the sawdust created during the manufacturing the LEDs and reap the benprocess to a local horse farmer, efits in the long run. and a company in Canada Stika also suggests that repurposes any scrap leather areas that don’t need to be lit into wallets.


Putting the light bulbs in your office on motion sensors will decrease your electric bill and put you one step closer to becoming “green.”

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Along with doing small things in the actual office building, Stika suggests that small businesses check to see if they are eligible to receive rebates or tax benefits to become environmentally friendly or after they have made changes to their operations. Businesses can also check out Green Plus, an institute that provides national accreditation for small businesses and recognizes them for their sustainability efforts. By becoming accredited as a Green Plus certified business, small-company owners become connected with local, regional and national contacts and businesses that feel the same way about sustainability as they do. Improving brand awareness with other green corporations and then expanding to different circles can help a company’s bottom line. According to a National Marketing Institute survey, consumers are willing to spend up to 20 percent more on environmentally sound products and services. Increasing green and going green — it’s not a bad way for a company to thrive.


Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Saturday, September 8, 2012

The paybacks of investing in energy efficiency Alaska Housing Finance Corporation, showed homeowner investment, fuel savings, payback periods, job creation and more. Here are some highlights: • Total spending for energy efficiency improvements was about $185 million, with state rebates coverBy CCHRC staff ing 60 percent and homeowners 40 percent. Homeowners should recoup he state of Alaska invested their investment in roughly an estimated $110 million 3.5 years. State and private spending from 2008 to 2011 on extra will be returned in homeowner savings insulation, new boilers, air sealing in less than 9 years. and other retrofits for roughly 16,500 • Annual fuel use dropped an estihomeowners — about 10 percent of all mated 33 percent for households who homeowners in Alaska. participated. The average homeowner The Home Energy Rebate Program will save an estimated $1,300 a year on provides funding to help homeownfuel (or 26 percent). ers make their houses more energy • Every $1 million in state spending efficient. The Cold Climate Housing generated 12 Alaska jobs — 7 direct Research Center worked with the Insti- retrofitting jobs and 5 indirect jobs tute of Social and Economic Research — amounting to about 1,330 jobs. to look at the economic impacts of the • Overall, participants are saving program. The study, funded by the an estimated $22 million annually. If

This column previously was published on June 21. The “Ask a Builder” series is dedicated to answering some of the many questions Fairbanks residents have about building, energy and the many other parts of home life.


Total spending for energy efficiency improvements was about $185 million, with state rebates covering 60 percent and homeowners 40 percent. Homeowners should recoup their investment in roughly 3.5 years. they spend those savings locally, every $1 million in new household spending generates 11 jobs throughout the state economy — an annual average of about 240 jobs. • The biggest money savers were more efficient boilers or furnaces (constituting 50 percent of energy savings). Adding extra insulation to walls, doors, and ceilings made up 25 percent of savings; sealing air leaks accounted for nearly 15 percent of savings; replacing windows and water heaters comprised 10 percent of savings.

• Anchorage homes made up 49 percent of retrofits; other Southcentral communities 27 percent; Fairbanks 14 percent; and Juneau 6 percent. The full snapshot is available at • Changes in fuel costs and savings are estimates from AHFC’s energy-rating software as actual household heating bills aren’t currently available. Ask a Builder articles promote awareness of home-related issues. If you have a question, contact the Cold Climate Housing Research Center at or 457-3454.

or visit us online at



Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Saturday, September 8, 2012

Recycling: Benefits and concerns By Chelle Cordero


ost American communities promote programs to reduce, reuse and recycle, and though they have the support of many, there are also naysayers. Though most solid waste management authorities applaud the difference recycling makes in their local landfills, there are some concerns. One of them is pest control. Because plastic, metal and glass food containers often stagnate while waiting to be shipped off to respective centers to be sanitized and reused, pests may be

attracted to the remaining food traces and some worry that this could create health risks. Recycling collection programs usually include newsprint, glass, plastic bottles, aluminum and steel cans. With recycling containers parked curbside for pick-up, are we using more fuel and adding exhaust fumes to the environment in order to collect them? Are we giving consumers a false sense of security by leading them to believe that recycling is sufficient commitment to our environment? In New York’s Rockland County, residents reduce their amount of trash by separating their recyclable

materials. Those materials are no longer placed in landfills; they are bundled and sold to manufacturers as raw material for new products. Revenue from these sales reduces taxes by helping to pay for recycling collection and processing. Additionally, rebates from sales of the recyclables are returned to participating municipalities based on the tonnage generated. Some individuals simply do not recycle or recycle only sporadically. Even when the average consumer recycles everything possible, most items still need a fair amount of sorting and preparation. Plastics are numbered one through seven depending

on polymer content; these numbers are most often visible in recognizable triangles on the plastic containers and are used to sort the plastics during the first step toward recycling. Depending on the community, glass, plastics and metals may be collected together and need to be separated at some point. Aluminum and steel cans also need to be sifted through. Paper and cardboard recycling account for an estimated one-third of recycled products. To make paper reusable, it needs to be bleached, which introduces harsh chemicals into Please see RECYCLING, Page 9

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Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Saturday, September 8, 2012

someone will pay you for the item, it’s a resource. But if you have to pay someone to Continued from Page 8 take the item away, then the the environment and expos- item is garbage.” The Environmental Proes plant workers to these tection Agency supports toxins. Some cynics claim recycling efforts. It turns that the finished product is waste into valuable resourcnot high quality enough for purchase. Products that are es and creates financial, environmental and social not suitable for bleaching benefits. Recycling creates and recycling may be sent jobs, reduces emissions from to incinerators for disposal, and the fumes emitted from the manufacturing of raw products, and conserves incinerators are harmful to natural resources. In addithe environment. There are potential health tion to reducing, reusing and recycling our own products, risks for sanitation workers. Some disposed products purchasing items stamped “recycled” helps to support might contain traces of the ethos and encourages hazardous materials, such manufacturers to produce as mercury from fluoresthose items. The steps to a cent bulbs, solvents from successful recycling program cleaning supplies or other chemicals. Exposure to toxic include collection, processing, manufacturing and purmaterials can be dangerous chasing. for sanitation workers and The EPA encourages other waste management personnel. Some municipali- everyone to conserve natural resources. Reduce packagties may limit what can be recycled, and some schedule ing, buy bulk or concenspecific hazardous materials trated products when you can, recycle batteries and collection events. In a 2007 article, Michael use batteries with reduced Munger, chairman of politimercury, select reusable cal science at Duke Univerand recycled products, sity, wrote: “If recycling is use durable products that more expensive than using will stand the test of time, new materials, it can’t posrecycle automotive products sibly be efficient. There is and learn how to compost. a simple test for determinRecycling helps sustain the ing whether something is a environment for future resource or just garbage. If generations.


Cristin Frank, founder of The Eve of Reduction, a resource for employing creativity, made this ribbon dispenser out of a basket.

Recycling around the house By Ginny Frizzi

ebrate Green!: Creating ecosavvy holidays, celebrations & traditions for the whole ike charity, going family.” “The first step is to green can start at stop when you’re about to home. But where to toss an item and ask yourself, begin? ‘What could this be used for?’ “Overall, I’d say there is If you don’t consider youralmost nothing that can’t self creative, do a search on be repurposed,” said Lynn the Internet for ‘what to do Colwell, green lifestyle leader with (name of item)’ or ‘how and, with daughter Corey Col- to recycle (name of item)’ or well-Lipson, co-author of “Cel- ‘how to craft with (name of


item).’ You’ll be shocked at how many ideas there are and how easy it is to reuse instead of tossing.” According to Colwell, lids often are thrown away — even by those who recycle — because most recyclers won’t take them. “Depending on the size and material — plastic or metal, with a little Please see HOUSE, Page 10


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HOUSE Continued from Page 9

paint or even plain — they can be turned into counting and/or building toys, coasters, wind chimes, yard ornaments and jewelry.” Colwell’s other suggestions include using glass jars instead of plastic to store leftovers; donating old hats, purses and other clothing to a children’s organization for dress-up; swapping books with friends and neighbors; and laying down newspapers, which eventually will decompose, in the yard to control weeds. Cristin Frank, founder of The Eve of Reduction, a resource for employing creativity, shares some of her favorite home recycling projects. “I turned an old wire

Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Saturday, September 8, 2012

“Look, this is great fun and very creative, but it does “Actually some of the things we do are similar to what our nothing to solve the fundamental problem of what we grandparents did. They didn’t waste and reused things should do with the excessive amounts of packaging we crewhenever they could.” ate and how we can reuse the primary resource. One can’t — Martin Blanco, who has been a stay-at-home father for 12 1/2 years make puppets and sculptures in perpetuity,” Blanco said. For example, he asks, “Once you make them, where do you store them? Are you going to convert your house flower box into a ribbon reach a point where they of managing the household, into a modern art museum? dispenser and a dismantled really have no more use for including garbage managedresser into shelving for a recycling egg cartons or mak- ment,” he said. “Repurposing A prominent musician in coat closet,” said Frank, who ing watering cans from plas- is a nice idea, but it does not my area makes wonderful uses a wooden breadbox as tic milk jugs. Can recycling solve any problems of manag- percussion instruments from a shelf for cookbooks in her at home be taken too far? ing waste and resources, and cans and cartons and other trash. They are terrific, but kitchen. Yes, according to active it creates some new ones.” then he advocates building Frank’s husband laid old recycler Martin Blanco. Blanco gives the example these as a form of recycling. doors on the rafter beams in “Not only can it be taken of an acquaintance who their garage. They use them too far, but it can be taken advocates creating with recy- He does programs at schools and tells the children, ‘Don’t to store seasonal items. They too far to no particular clable goods, such as sculpthrow this stuff away; recycle also nailed milk crates on purpose. I’ve been a stay-attures made from cans and it into instruments.’ Great, the garage walls as storage home father — in all respects milk cartons and puppets but once you’re outfitted for balls, mitts, Frisbees and the homemaker — for 12 1/2 made out of boxes, cans and with a new percussion set other small sporting goods. years, so I have a good sense bottles. and your new repertory However, most households theater of milk jug puppets, what do you do with the containers that you continue to Fall is the time for bring into your life?” th Blanco does recycle, ba & en • Kitch including using the larger remodels plastic trays from takeout as • Window & door a drip pan under flowers and empty yogurt containers for replacement starting seeds. “Actually some of the things we do are similar to what our grandparents did. licensed • bonded • insured They didn’t waste and reused things whenever they could,” said Blanco, who also uses canvas bags instead of plastic e c ones when he goes grocery i v RS r shopping. E e AV AL TR S Colwell agrees that holdI E T K N ing on to too much can creMI E ID ate clutter and become overDR. DOOR S RE whelming. She offers several & suggestions for avoiding this, L Fax: 457-7211 including putting “clean out” IA C R 2626 Phillips Field Rd. dates on your calendar. ME Fairbanks, AK 99709 M “Devote a half-day a Bonded & Insured O C Lic #23550 couple of times a year to ting rid of the stuff you’re not using. Again, think ‘give it’ or ‘donate’ before pitching into the trash,” she said. Colwell also recommends avoiding what she calls “mindlessly collecting.” “Instead, before hanging Visit us at the Winter Show at the Carlson Center on to something, think to yourself, ‘What can I use this for, and will I do it?’ But also 455-7722 ask whether it’s an item that someone else might use,” she 2081 Van Horn Rd. #4 said. (Across the street from Northern Power Sports)

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Photo courtesy Cold Climate Housing Research Center

Decoding boiler jargon

This condensing boiler is between 92-97 percent efficient, higher than other boilers because they can capture extra heat from exhaust gases.

and usually operate at a slightly negative pressure. • Forced draft uses a fan and ductwork to force air into the furnace and usually operates at a slight positive pressure. In mechanical draft boilers, the fan also creates turbulence in the By CCHRC staff combustion chamber, allowing for a more complete burn. These typiQ: What terms should I know cally are more efficient than natural when shopping for a boiler? draft boilers. A: It’s easy to get lost in jargon Natural draft boilers rely on when shopping for a boiler or other the buoyancy of hot combustion home heating appliance. This article exhaust. The exhaust is hot, so covers some of the common terms it rises passively out of the flue. you might encounter when shopping As the hot exhaust gases exit for a combustion boiler. If you have upward, the draft causes fresh air questions about what type of boiler to enter the combustion chamber. is best for you, be sure to talk with Because natural draft boilers cona heating professional. sume a large amount of air in this Most oil boilers are mechanical process, they are less efficient than draft boilers, which use a fan to mechanical draft boilers. If the air draw in combustion air. There are pressure inside the house is less two main methods of mechanical than the air pressure outside, a draft that are common in residential natural draft boiler can backdraft models. and poisonous gases such as carbon • Induced draft uses a fan to monoxide could potentially enter remove flue gases from the furnace the home. and force exhaust gas up the stack This column previously was published on July 12. The “Ask a Builder” series is dedicated to answering some of the many questions Fairbanks residents have about building, energy and the many other parts of home life.

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Don’t let stack effect BOILERS hurt your air quality Continued from Page 11

ture. To complicate matters, a taller structure such as a multi-story house will contain a taller column of air that will produce greater pressure differences. Everything starts with the fact that as the air inside a home heats up, it rises. By CCHRC staff As this warmer air moves toward the upper regions Q: I’ve heard stack near the ceiling, it produces effect can cause problems the potential for positive air with indoor air quality. pressure at the ceiling level. How is this possible? It doesn’t end there A: Stack effect (also called though, because what’s going chimney effect) involves both on outside the house influthe airflow into and out of a ences the air pressures inside building and through a build- the house. When it gets very ing. This airflow can produce cold, the outside air is much unwelcome side effects. denser than the heated air An enclosed heated build- inside the house. As a result, ing in winter will have differ- the positive pressure in the ent air pressures at different upper regions inside the heights. These air pressures house can increase dramatiare the result of differences cally relative to the outside in air density resulting from air pressure. differences in temperature Please see STACK, Page 13 inside and outside the strucThis column previously was published on July 26. The “Ask a Builder” series is dedicated to answering some of the many questions Fairbanks residents have about building, energy and the many other parts of home life.

Examples of natural draft heaters are propane water heaters and drip-oil stove heaters. Sealed combustion boilers use a duct to bring in outside air directly to the combustion unit and not from inside the house. The combustion chamber (where burning occurs) is sealed off from the inside of the home. These boilers are safest, because they are unlikely to backdraft poisonous exhaust gases such as carbon monoxide (CO) into the home. Condensing boilers are more efficient than standard combustion boilers. A condensing boiler is able to reclaim additional heat from the exhaust gas by cooling it to a point where water vapor from combustion condenses out. The condensation releases the latent heat from the gas, and this heat is captured by a second heat

exchanger. The condensate water is acidic (it has the same acidity as some vinegars), so corrosion-resistant materials like stainless steel or PVC pipe must be used for the heat exchanger and pipes. Condensing boilers must have a drain that allows the water to enter the wastewater plumbing system. In older homes with pipes that could corrode, a neutralizing filter can be added to the drain line. These boilers also have a fan to blow the cooler exhaust gas, which is not buoyant enough to exit the flue on its own, outside the building. Non-condensing boilers are less efficient because they have to operate at higher temperatures to prevent condensation. However, they do not require a drain and can be made of materials such as iron, steel or copper that would eventually corrode in a condensing boiler. High mass boilers are very heavy, as the name implies. The mass comes from a large heat exchanger,

which contains heavy metal, often cast iron, and large diameter pipes that contain a high water volume. The high mass design helps the boilers maintain steady state efficiency. These boilers take longer to heat up when they are started, so they should not be short-cycled, or turned on and off frequently, as this will lower their efficiency. Low mass boilers have a smaller heat exchanger that does not contain a large mass of metal or iron. While short-cycling a boiler (or turning it on and off frequently) is never ideal, a low-mass boiler will generally respond better than a higher mass design, as it takes less time to heat up. These boilers also have less standby loss when they cool down, because they do not have the mass to retain a lot of heat while firing. Ask a Builder articles promote awareness of home-related issues. If you have a question, contact the Cold Climate Housing Research Center at info@cchrc. org or 457-3454.





Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Saturday, September 8, 2012

Save money, improve health by making your home greener By Eric Christensen

small tax refund, lower energy bills and a more comfortable home. She suggests homeowners check omeowners can’t escape the age of their appliances as a to-do lists — weekend first step to making their home chores, long-term DIY greener. “Old machines are far less projects, or even plans and designs efficient than new ones,” she said. for building a dream home from Before replacing your windows, the ground up. A growing number Greenberg instead suggests you of homeowners are adding “make look for leaks and drafts. “Look my home greener” to those to-do around windows, doors and holes lists, and they can pick from a in basements. Windows aren’t as variety of projects that fit any bud- drafty as people think, and a good get, goal and home-improvement curtain can help with comfort.” ability. Greenberg said plugging those After buying a home, architect leaks is more cost-effective and is Robin Greenberg made her house efficient for controlling your airgreener because she wanted “to flow and comfort. save money in the long term” and Homeowners interested in have a “healthier personal envigreen buildings might be familiar ronment.” She installed digital with the Leadership in Energy and thermostats for precise control of Environment Design certification her home’s temperature, low-flow program for energy efficiency, but showerheads, fan exhausts in the the U.S. Green Building Counbathroom, and Energy Star applicil also runs a LEED for Homes ances. She also added insulation program. Nate Kredich, vice to the walls and roof, and she used president of residential market low volatile organic compound, development for the USGBC, or VOC, paint. Because of these suggests homeowners look at the changes, she was able to get a USGBC’s Green Home Guide and


REGREEN website. The Green Home Guide outlines a variety of energy efficiency options, and it offers advice from professionals. The REGREEN program “allows homeowners and their contractors to zero in on green strategies based upon project type and priorities. The site offers case studies, indepth technical strategies and other resources to facilitate projects.” If you are interested in designing and building a green dream home, many options are available. Welshman Simon Dale built a green home into a hillside that resembles something from the book “The Hobbit.” Brad Pitt’s Make It Right initiative has built starkly modern homes in New Orleans’ Lower 9th Ward that have received the highest LEED certification. The latest green homes are “net-zero” homes that generate as much (or more) renewable energy than they consume, but such homes require lots of direct sunlight (they depend Please see HOME, Page 15

STACK Continued from Page 12

Things are fine, however, until you add air leaks ... and rest assured, all houses will have some degree of air leakage. Warm indoor air will rapidly exit the house through the leaks up high. As the heated air leaks through the walls or roof, it cools and deposits moisture along the way. It doesn’t stop there. New air to replace the air lost must come from somewhere. Replacement air will tend to take the path of least resistance. Typically, air is drawn in through leakage points in the lowest regions of the house, which is why problems with soils gases, such as radon, tend to increase in winter. Replacement air isn’t always just drawn in through leakage points in the lower parts of the structure however. Air can also come through poorly sealed or malfunctioning combustion appliances such as wood stoves and boilers. The key to reducing potential problems with stack effect is good air sealing around penetrations in the building. If you are considering sealing air leaks in your house, it’s very important you start at the top. If you start at the bottom, then you are potentially increasing the chances that the air leaking out of the top will pull air from other sources such as combustion appliances. Always be sure you have a functioning carbon monoxide detector in your home and your boiler and wood stove have a dedicated source of combustion air. Ask a Builder articles promote home awareness for the Cold Climate Housing Research Center. If you have a question, contact us at or 457-3454.


Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Saturday, September 8, 2012

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Better Efficiency, Better Health! A large portion of the Fairbanks North Star Borough (FNSB) was designated a “nonattainment” area for PM2.5 by the EPA because on several days each year there is more fine particulate matter (PM2.5) in the air than is healthy to breathe. Excessive levels of PM2.5 are produced through the inefficient combustion of fuels, such as wood, coal, home heating fuel, gas, and diesel. Here are some tips to help you save energy and money, and to help improve air quality in our community. • Plug in your vehicle when its 20 above or colder for at least one hour before starting the engine. This can reduce emissions, including fine particulates and carbon monoxide, by up to 70% and minimizes vehicle wear and tear. Electric timers are inexpensive and can be set to turn on automatically an hour or two before the time you usually leave the house to further minimize the amount of energy used.

• Idle vehicles for less than 10 minutes to avoid wasting gas and polluting the air. A vehicle in motion warms up faster and more completely. • Ride the bus or carpool to reduce the amount of gas you use and to save money on vehicle maintenance costs. There are currently 8 bus routes offered by MACS Transit, including one route to the Eielson and Salcha areas and another around Van Horn Road. • Weatherize your home to reduce heating costs and emissions by using less fuel. • Perform regular maintenance on your heating appliance for maximum efficiency and safest use. • Upgrade older heating appliances. If you burn wood or coal, check out the FNSB Air Quality Improvement Program. Anyone that owns property in the PM2.5 nonattainment area that heats with wood or coal may be eligible.

Participants in the replacement program are reimbursed up to $2,500 of the expense for upgrading older, non-EPA certified devices to more efficient appliances. For those that prefer to switch to a cleaner burning fuel, there is a larger incentive of $3,000-$7,500 (depending on the type of appliance) for participating in the removal program. Contact FNSB Air Quality for more information. • Split, Stack, Store and Save! If heating with wood, split it at least once, stack to allow for good air flow, and store for at least six warm months to get wood that has moisture content of 20% or less. Burning dry wood saves you money because you need less of it to heat your home. By taking simple steps to save energy, you save money and you help keep our air clean and healthy to breathe!

FOR MORE INFORMATION AIR QUALITY Fairbanks North Star Borough or 459-1005 Alaska Department of Conservation Environmental Protection Agency

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Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Saturday, September 8, 2012

Make sure wood is fully cured


In our study, split wood harvested in the spring took anywhere from six weeks to three months to dry during the summer, depending on the storage method. Split birch and split spruce dried in one and a half months when stored in a simulated wood shed or left uncovered. In general, the fastest way to dry split wood was By CCHRC staff storing it in a wood shed or leaving it uncovered, though uncovered wood is at the mercy of the Q: How long does it take to season weather. When stored under a tarp, the wood wood? A: While we won’t mention the dreaded “W” took three months to cure. Unsplit wood, on the other hand, didn’t cure word, it’s never too early to start thinking about during the summer in any storage scenario. the heating season, when many Interior resiThough it neared 20 percent moisture content dents burn wood for heat. by the end of the summer, it required another While wood burning is a cheaper and more summer to reach a full cure. renewable alternative to heating oil, it also Firewood harvested in fall didn’t cure by contributes to the air quality problem in the springtime no matter how it was cut or stored. Fairbanks North Star Borough. Burning wet While it dried some in a wood shed (to between wood produces excess smoke and PM 2.5-sized particles, which disperse into the air and can be 30 and 40 percent moisture content), some samharmful to health. These emissions can be less- ples got wetter under a tarp during the winter. Several other factors should be considered ened by burning dry firewood. Fully cured wood when seasoning your wood. Spruce and birch — moisture content of 20 percent or less — is tend to dry more quickly than aspen. Your drying not only cleaner but also produces more heat. times also will vary based on exposure to sun and How long does that take in this climate? It air circulation (the more, the better). depends on the species of wood, when you harThe good news is that it’s possible to harvest vest it, how you cut it and how you store it. A firewood in the spring and cure it during a single study at the Cold Climate Housing Research summer. Just make sure to split it early and store Center shows that wood can dry rapidly during it so it can dry. a single summer but takes quite a bit longer Ask a Builder articles promote awareness of homeover the shoulder seasons or winter. No matter related issues. If you have a question, contact the Cold what wood or method you use, firewood harvest- Climate Housing Research Center at or ed in the fall won’t be fully cured by winter. 457-3454.

Continued from Page 13

This column was published previously on Aug. 9. The “Ask a Builder” series is dedicated to answering some of the many questions Fairbanks residents have about building, energy and the many other parts of home life.

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heavily on solar power) and have difficulty maintaining a cool interior in hot and humid environments. For homeowners designing their green dream home, Kredich suggests outlining “your plans and priorities during design” because LEED certification can be more difficult and expensive if the process begins post-construction. Kredich also recommends having your builder, contractor, architect and planners meet regularly to build consensus. Kredich estimates a green

home will cost an additional 1 to 5 percent to build, but an experienced builder can sometimes eliminate added costs. Kredich also said, “Many localities have (financial) incentives for building to LEED (or) expedited permitting. It’s worthwhile for homeowners to check and see if their state or locality has any incentives.” To receive LEED certification, a home must be 15 percent more energy-efficient than typical homes built to code, but Kredich said “most LEED homes achieve 30 percent or more,” producing “significant savings to the homeowner, though the timeline is dependent on local utility costs.”


Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Saturday, September 8, 2012




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Tips and tricks to save energy and money in Interior Alaska.