Get your house ready for summer

It is time to get your house ready for summer. I see many of you working in your gardens, planting beautiful flowers, growing food, and mowing (one of my least favorite things to do). Are you also working on making your house healthy, comfortable, and energy efficient for this coming summer.

In a time that it looks like staycation is going to be the best thing to do for our economy, is your home ready for the summer heat? Here are some things to check and correct if they are not ready.

attic insulation

Attic insulation is on the top of my list. If you have blown-in or rolled in fiberglass / cellulose you need a minimum of 12″ to have a fighting chance of comfort and energy efficiency. Really you need 18″ or more of those options if your house is not air tight – and it probably is not based on all the energy audits I have been doing. The best attic insulation of course is sprayed foam which makes the attic to conditioned living area air tight. I did this in my own attic and it is making our house very comfortable.


Second on my list is checking your heating and cooling system. Have the filters been changed? Is the unit efficient? Does it still have enough life to get your through the warm months? A performance maintenance contract with a locally owned HVAC company is a great investment. They will change you filters and optimize the performance of your system.

net zero house harrisonburg

Third thing to check off the list is doing a solar audit on your home. Could you be using these sunny days to help the environment and your pocket book? Based on the research Eric Beck, Jim Leaman, and (a very little portion) I did, you will cut your monthly expenses if you add solar to an unshaded south facing roof on your home. Really, you will pay less to the bank than you currently pay to the power company if you add solar (again if you have an unshaded and south facing roof).

Last think on my list to consider, do you need to do a renovation or addition? If so, give me a call and we can do a virtual meeting to discuss your options. Of course, this is a no cost to you meeting to figure out if there are viable solutions to your functional goals.

Other resources can be found on these blogs:

10 Things to make your summer more efficient and comfortable

Summer has come to an end, now lets get back to work!

It seems the older I get the faster the time goes. This summer went by in a flash, but we did make a lot of memories along the way. We finished phase 1 of the maker space in our basement which got a lot of use.


There was a sewing camp,


a soapbox derby race,

Harrisonburg Soapbox Derby

and the girls were in a play at Eastern Mennonite University.


We visited DQ many times.


Of course, there was a lot of ice cream.


We took a trip to Fallingwater to see the house, water falls, wind power, and even found a vegetative roof.

20150630_142638 Vegetative Roof 20150630_155616 Fallingwater

There was a lot of lego activity.


We enjoyed a parade and even got to see our Harrisonburg Co-housing friends.

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There was a birthday party, lots of pool time, backyard smores, visits from family, and time at the mountain.

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The garden grew strong, the flowers were blooming, and the local food was plentiful.

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I had a chance to spend some time with the Governor.

Shenandoah Valley Partnership Shenandoah Valley Partnership

More Lego time.


We enjoyed time on the Route 11 Yard Crawl.


We visited Roanoke and went to the Science Museum.

20150809_142012 Solar PV Roanoke Science Museum

I even had time to play a little golf.


Of course we had plenty of donuts.

Baker's Dozen

We had moments of pure joy while visiting the Rockingham County Fair.

20150821_172716-01 Rockingham County Fair

And of course, we celebrated the start of school with first day pictures.

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10 Things to make your summer more efficient and comfortable

This time of year is torture on your energy bills vs your comfort. You can suffer an uncomfortable home to keep your electric bills low or you can pay a premium to achieve comfort in your home. Here are some things to make the struggle a little easier.

Nest Thermostat

1. Vampire loads are a constant draw on your electric loads that can easily be stopped. Finding them and turning them off will reduce your electric loads so that you can focus energy used on achieving comfort.

2. Install a smart thermostat. These thermostats learn your habits and adjust heating and cooling patterns in order to minimize energy usage while achieving home comfort. A smart thermostat can also be controlled remotely so if plans change and you will not be home as usual you can tell your HVAC system to use less energy.

3. Take advantage of the cooler days by opening windows and turning off your HVAC system. Use the energy you need on the hot days so that you can maximize the value vs comfort equation. There are not many days later in the summer so take full advantage early on to reduce your electricity usage overall.

harrisonburg energy efficient home

4. If you replace appliances this summer, be sure you select energy star rated appliances. These are solutions that meet the highest energy efficiency standards.

5. Install a clothes line instead of running a dryer. A clothes dryer dumps plenty of warm moist air into your home and keeping it out of your house will reduce your energy usage.


6. Use a ceiling fan when you are in the room. The air moving around the room will allow you to keep the thermostat adjusted higher while achieving comfort. It is said that the room will feel 5-7 degrees cooler when blowing across your skin. Turn the fan off when you are not in the room – it does nothing if you are not there.

7. Reduce the appliances usage that produce heat in your home. Your stove, dishwasher, and television are all adding heat inside your home. Use them as little as possible to make your home as comfortable with the lowest energy used.

8. Replace the air filters in your heating and cooling system. If it has been a few years, you probably also want to clean the ducts. Make sure the system that uses energy and provides comfort is running in top form.

9. Add a humidistat to the ventilation system in your home. When the humidity gets to a certain level it will turn on automatically. This ventilation strategy will help keep your home more comfortable.

10. The humidity in your house can be diminished through the use of indoor plants. Using plants such as a Peace Lily, Reed Palm, English Ivy, Boston Fern to pull moisture out of the air will improve the comfort in your home.

Here are 10 more things to do this summer.