In October of 2011, Standard Solar broke ground on a parking deck solar canopy installation, part of an expansion project to complete the largest photovoltaic installation in Virginia (read the original blog post here).
The 118 kW solar canopy installation at Washington and Lee University’s Lexington, VA campus was linked with the other solar arrays at the University to create the largest solar electric system in the state. The system was switched on earlier this month and is now generating clean, renewable energy for the University. Check out their daily solar data on their web-based dashboard, which features graphic display of the generation for both installations, includes both the ambient and cell temperatures, and provides data on the environmental benefits.
Read more about the system on the Washington and Lee University blog.
In the last installment of this multi-part series of blog posts, Dave Condon of Standard Energy Solutions explained some of the sealing and insulation problems he commonly encounters in attics when conducting home energy audits. In this post, Dave will explore attic ventilation and will explain how attic ductwork can negatively impact the efficiency of a home’s air conditioning system.
Inspect attic ductwork and air handler – In many homes, part of the HVAC system is in the attic where summer temperatures can soar well into the triple digits. The chilled air flowing through the system inevitably picks up some of the attic’s heat, forcing the system to work that much harder to keep the house cool.
Inspecting attic HVAC system – To make sure your HVAC system is operating as efficiently as possible, check the system for air and water leaks. All of the ductwork should be sealed and insulated against the attic’s temperature extremes and there should be no sign of condensation. If you can feel cold air leaking from the ductwork, or if any part of the system is cold to the touch, you probably need to have the ducts sealed and insulated.
Verify adequate ventilation – An attic vent fan can dramatically lower summer attic temperatures. Attic fans can be mounted behind a gable vent or through a dedicated hole in the roof. They can be wired into the home’s electrical system or powered by a small, dedicated solar cell on the roof. Some vent fans include thermostatic control and motorized vent covers to prevent heat loss in winter. Unless you are comfortable cutting holes in your roof and/or are an experienced electrician, professional installation is strongly recommended.
Attic vent fan – According to what we just told you about the benefits of an attic fan, it may seem like a no-brainer. But before you make an appointment to have one installed, make sure you won’t be replacing one problem with another. An attic fan can lower attic temperatures by forcing hot air out of the attic and drawing cooler outside air into the attic space. However, if your attic isn’t adequately sealed off from the living space, an attic fan may draw conditioned air into the attic and out of the house!
Dave Condon explaining proper attic ventilation
Call in a pro – Handy homeowners can tackle many of these jobs themselves, but there is no substitute for an experienced professional with the right tools and training. Standard Energy Solutions offers a comprehensive home energy audit that covers everything from overall air infiltration rates to HVAC efficiency. The audit concludes with a comprehensive report complete with infrared images of problem areas and a list of recommended improvements. From there, the homeowner can decide which, if any, improvements to make themselves or elect to have Standard Energy Solutions complete the recommended work.
Dave Condon describing audit process
Stay tuned for the next part of this series when we will come down from the attic to explore some of the ways outdoor temperatures may be getting into the main levels of your home.
If you haven’t read Tom Friedman’s 6/22/08 Op-Ed, now is a good time…
Mr. Bush, Lead or Leave
By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN
Published: June 22, 2008
Two years ago, President Bush declared that America was “addicted to oil,” and, by gosh, he was going to do something about it. Well, now he has. Now we have the new Bush energy plan: “Get more addicted to oil.”
Actually, it’s more sophisticated than that: Get Saudi Arabia, our chief oil pusher, to up our dosage for a little while and bring down the oil price just enough so the renewable energy alternatives can’t totally take off. Then try to strong arm Congress into lifting the ban on drilling offshore and in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
It’s as if our addict-in-chief is saying to us: “C’mon guys, you know you want a little more of the good stuff. One more hit, baby. Just one more toke on the ole oil pipe. I promise, next year, we’ll all go straight. I’ll even put a wind turbine on my presidential library. But for now, give me one more pop from that drill, please, baby. Just one more transfusion of that sweet offshore crude.”
read the full Op-Ed at http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/22/opinion/22friedman.html