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Monthly Archives: December 2019

  • Decoding Energy Efficiency Lingo

    Decoding Energy Efficiency Lingo

    With so much science involved in making homes energy efficient, the average person is usually at a loss when it comes to understanding green terminology. Here, the National Association of Homebuilders decodes some of the most commonly used lingo.
    • An “Energy-Efficient” home is a home that uses less energy than a traditional home without compromising service to owners and occupants. Energy efficiency can be achieved through things such as improved thermal envelopes, solar-oriented construction, low-e windows and efficient appliances.
    • A “Net Zero-Energy” home is a home in which energy production and consumption are equivalent. That means the energy produced by the home must meet the household's needs. Rooftop solar panels are perhaps the most common way for homes to produce energy.
    • A “Net Zero-Energy-Ready” home is a home that is outfitted with the necessary structural and technological support to install energy-producing technologies. Net zero-energy-ready homes are appropriate for homeowners who plan to install energy-producing technology in the future.
    • A “Net Positive-Energy” home is a home that produces more energy than the household needs. A homeowner could even receive credit from their utility company for excess energy returned to the grid that is produced by the energy technologies and saved by energy-efficiency measures.Knowing these terms can help you update your existing home to be more energy efficient, or be more knowledgeable if you're in the market for a new home.
    Knowing these terms can help you update your existing home to be more energy efficient, or be more knowledgeable if you're in the market for a new home.

    Published with permission from RISMedia.

  • Our Love/Hate Relationship With Technology

    Our Love/Hate Relationship With Technology

    While most of us couldn’t live without our smartphones and the internet, fully acknowledging that technology has improved our lives, concerns are also growing surrounding technology’s impact on society as a whole, especially when it comes to data security.

    According to a recent survey from Vrge Strategies, Americans are very positive about the impact that modern technology is having on their daily lives. According to the findings:
    • 81 percent of Americans say that the internet, smartphones and other emerging technologies have made their lives better.
    • 42 percent of Americans feel that consumer technologies and social media have made their relationships with family and friends more impactful. Just 29 percent said it made them less impactful.
    On the flipside, Americans have increasing concerns about the impact of new technology on society. Survey results also showed the following:
    • 46 percent believe that the internet and social media have had a negative impact on society, while only 36 percent had a positive impact.
    • 38 percent believe technology is making the gap between rich and poor wider, while only 22 percent believe technology is bridging the gap.
    • 60 percent believe artificial intelligence developments will reduce job opportunities.
    • Half of all respondents think that the pace of technological change is too fast, while only six percent think it’s too slow.
    Survey results also show that Americans have increasing concerns about the safety of their personal information:
    • 67 percent would not give technology companies highly personal information to reduce their daily commute.
    • 65 percent would not share medical records or other personal health information to technology companies in order to improve their healthcare.
    • 66 percent would not want to live in a smart city.
    Yet, the most concerning data point for technology companies is the growing perception among Americans that the industry doesn't care about these negative consequences of their technologies.
    • 55 percent of Americans believe that technology companies don't care about how their products impact society.
    Because of this, while in the past, Americans largely supported a hands-off policy approach to internet and technology companies, survey results show that respondents now believe that policymakers need to take more actions to protect consumers.
    • 72 percent believe policymakers aren’t keeping up with the pace of technology.
    • 41 percent believe we don't have enough regulations on new technologies, and only 17 percent think we have too much regulation.
    Source: Vrge Strategies

    Published with permission from RISMedia.

  • Lightning Protection Systems: How Do They Work?

    Lightning Protection Systems: How Do They Work?

    Maybe it's a near impossibility for lightning to strike the same place twice, but most hope lightning never even strikes their home even once.

    According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), between 2007-2011, U.S. local fire departments responded to an estimated average of 22,600 fires per year that were started by lightning.

    These fires caused an average of nine civilian deaths, 53 civilian injuries, and $451 million in direct property damage per year.

    Most of these fires occurred outdoors, but most associated deaths, injuries, and property damage were associated with home fires.

    The NFPA says lightning-related fires are more common in June through August and in the late afternoon and evening; however, peak seasons for lightning-related fires vary by region, as do weather patterns in general.   

    So how does a lightning protection system actually work? says lightning protection was first invented by Ben Franklin in 1752. Today's lightning diversion system consists of a lightning rod combined with cable and ground rod, which provides a very good conductor with very low electrical resistance between the lightning rod atop the protected object, like your home or outbuilding, and the earth.

    InspectAPedia explains that if a lightning strike begins to form between the protected object and the cloud, the lightning protection system conducts that electrical energy safely to Earth. Otherwise, that same energy would pass through the protected object itself, almost certainly causing more serious damage, or perhaps a fire, as well.

    The website says the budget for a residential lightning protection system can be as little as a few hundred dollars for an average two-story house. This includes a lightning rod atop the roof with an insulated cable running to the ground.

    However, this kind of system offers minimal protection and may fail, depending on the intensity of the strike. A single lightning strike can hold as much energy as 150,000 amps, the site states.

    A more complex and secure system, with several lightning rods strategically placed around the roof and several ground electrodes, may cost $2,000-$3,000 for an average two-story house. The price dips a bit for a one-story house, and rises slightly higher for a three-story house. This is primarily due to the materials cost for the metal-conducting wire.

    Published with permission from RISMedia.