Monday, July 23, 2012

Learn About the Unique and Energy Efficient Products that we use - Product #1: Roxul Insulation

To learn why we use Roxul Insulation (Stone Wool Insulation), here is the brief history and benefits/features of stone wool.

Origin & Properties of Stone Wool

Stone wool was discovered on the islands of Hawaii at the beginning of the century. It occurs there naturally as abyproduct of volcanic activity. In its manufactured state, stone wool combines the power of rock with the characteristics of typical insulation wool. In addition, thanks to its non-directional fiber orientation, it also exhibits some unique and valuable characteristics.

Thermal insulation

Stone wool is an excellent insulator and a vital component of an energy efficient building. In fact Insulation saves 12 times as much energy per pound in its first year in place as the energy used to produce it. []

Sound Absorption

The non-directional fiber orientation of the stone wool helps the absorption of acoustic waves and can reduce the intensity and propagation of noise.

Fire Resistant

Stone wool can withstand temperatures up to 2150º F (1177º C). Conequently it does not contribute either to the development and spread of fire or the release of toxic gases.

Water Repellent

Stone wool is water repellent yet vapor permeable. This means that the insulation cannot absorb water so the R-value is not affected. Additionally it is completely resistant to rot, mildew, mold and bacterial growth, contributing to a safer indoor environment.

Dimensional stability

Stone wool retains its characteristics unaltered over time. It undergoes only minimal changes in size or performance to the changing conditions of temperature and humidity.

How is Roxul Insulation made?

Production Process:

The production process for stone wool begins with the fusion of volcanic rock at a temperature of 1500° C (2732°F). Volcanic rock, slag and coke are automatically fed from the top of the cupola furnace. The melt runs out of the bottom of the furnace and onto the spinning machine, where the wool is spun. Minor amounts of binder and oil are added, and the wool is collected on a belt conveyor in the spinning chamber. The structure and density of the wool are adjusted before it enters the curing oven. These properties are maintained after the binder has been cured.

The cured wool then proceeds to the cutting saws and packing equipment or is led to off-line equipment for special treatment. The off-gases from the production – furnace, spinning chamber, curing oven – are cleaned in filters and after-burners before they enter the chimney. The waste inevitably created during the production is re-cycled.

A series of environmental equipment (filters, preheaters, afterburner and other systems of purification and collection) are featured in our production process to help make us environmentally responsible. 

Learn more about us!

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Monday, May 21, 2012

Existing Home Energy Tip # 5

Existing Home Energy Tip # 5 - Sealing Leaks

Many air leaks and drafts are easy to find because they are easy to feel — like those around windows and doors. But holes hidden in attics, basements, and crawlspaces are usually bigger problems. Sealing these leaks with caulk, spray foam, or weather stripping will have a great impact on improving your comfort and reducing utility bills. Click on the house diagram to see common air leak locations that you should aim to seal.

Homeowners are often concerned about sealing their house too tightly; however, this is very unlikely in most older homes. A certain amount of fresh air is needed for good indoor air quality and there are specifications that set the minimum amount of fresh air needed for a house. If you are concerned about how tight your home is, hire a contractor, such as a Home Energy Rater, who can use diagnostic tools to measure your home's actual leakage. If your home is too tight, a fresh air ventilation system may be recommended.

After any home sealing project, have a heating and cooling technician check to make sure that your combustion appliances (gas- or oil-fired furnace, water heater, and dryer) are venting properly. For additional information on Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) issues related to homes, such as combustion safety, visit EPA’s Indoor Air Quality Web site.

Source of Information: ,

Monday, May 7, 2012

Existing Home Energy Efficiency Tip # 4

Existing Home Energy Efficiency Tip # 4 - Schedule a Maintenance Check on your heating and cooling systems.

Maintain your equipment to prevent future problems and unwanted costs. Keep your cooling and heating system at peak performance by having a contractor do annual pre-season check-ups. Contractors get busy once summer and winter come, so it's best to check the cooling system in the spring and the heating system in the fall. To remember, you might plan the check-ups around the time changes in the spring and fall.
A typical maintenance check-up should include the following.

  • Check thermostat settings to ensure the cooling and heating system keeps you comfortable when you are home and saves energy while you are away.

  • Tighten all electrical connections and measure voltage and current on motors. Faulty electrical connections can cause unsafe operation of your system and reduce the life of major components.

  • Lubricate all moving parts. Parts that lack lubrication cause friction in motors and increases the amount of electricity you use.

  • Check and inspect the condensate drain in your central air conditioner, furnace and/or heat pump (when in cooling mode). A plugged drain can cause water damage in the house and affect indoor humidity levels.

  • Check controls of the system to ensure proper and safe operation. Check the starting cycle of the equipment to assure the system starts, operates, and shuts off properly.
Cooling Specific

  • Clean evaporator and condenser air conditioning coils. Dirty coils reduce the system's ability to cool your home and cause the system to run longer, increasing energy costs and reducing the life of the equipment.

  • Check your central air conditioner's refrigerant level and adjust if necessary. Too much or too little refrigerant will make your system less efficient increasing energy costs and reducing the life of the equipment.

  • Clean and adjust blower components to provide proper system airflow for greater comfort levels. Airflow problems can reduce your system's efficiency by up to 15 percent.
Heating Specific

  • Check all gas (or oil) connections, gas pressure, burner combustion and heat exchanger. Improperly operating gas (or oil) connections are a fire hazard and can contribute to health problems. A dirty burner or cracked heat exchanger causes improper burner operation. Either can cause the equipment to operate less safely and efficiently.
Actions To Do Yourself

  • Inspect, clean, or change air filters once a month in your central air conditioner, furnace, and/or heat pump. Your contractor can show you how to do this. A dirty filter can increase energy costs and damage your equipment, leading to early failure
Source: Energy Star -

Monday, April 30, 2012

Existing Home and New Home Energy Efficient Tip #3

Existing Home and New Home Energy Efficient Tip #3 - Install a Programmable Thermostat 

A programmable thermostat is ideal for people who are away from home during set periods of time throughout the week. Through proper use of pre-programmed settings, a programmable thermostat can save you about $180 every year in energy costs.

Simple Steps to Energy Savings with Programmable Thermostats

Achieve significant energy and money savings that are possible through the proper use of your programmable thermostat. Learn how to:

What else should I look for when buying a programmable thermostat?

Choose the right programmable thermostat - There are three types of programmable thermostats designed to best fit your daily schedule. Learn more about the energy saving features that each model offers.

Information Source:

Friday, April 20, 2012

Existing Home Energy Efficient Tip #2 - Add Insulation

Existing Home Energy Efficient Tip #2 - Add Insulation

Insulation keeps your home warm in the winter and cool in the summer. There are several common types of insulation — fiberglass (in both batt and blown forms), cellulose, rigid foam board, and spray foam. Reflective insulation (or radiant barrier) is another insulating product which can help save energy in hot, sunny climates.
When correctly installed with air sealing, each type of insulation can deliver comfort and lower energy bills during the hottest and coldest times of the year.
Insulation performance is measured by R-value — its ability to resist heat flow. Higher R-values mean more insulating power. Different R-values are recommended for walls, attics, basements and crawlspaces, depending on your area of the country. Insulation works best when air is not moving through or around it. So it is very important to seal air leaks before installing insulation to ensure that you get the best performance from the insulation.
To get the biggest savings, the easiest place to add insulation is usually in the attic. A quick way to see if you need more insulation is to look across your uncovered attic floor. If your insulation is level with or below the attic floor joists, you probably need to add more insulation. The recommended insulation level for most attics is R-38 (or about 12–15 inches, depending on the insulation type). In the coldest climates, insulating up to R-49 is recommended.
Building new and thinking this information doesn't apply? Well good news, it does! Insulation is just as important when building new. The greatest thing about building new is you can start with the right foundation. We recommend using an ICF (Insulated Concrete Forms) foundation because the number one source of energy loss in your home is through the basement. Which is why starting with the correct foundation is one the most important decisions you can make when building a new home. To learn more about ICF foundation and walls read our first blog post.

Don't just stop at the foundation! You can use ICF's all the way to the trusses to provide even more insulation and energy efficiency. Don't want to spend the extra money on a full ICF home? Then use a higher R-Value of insulation of at least R-23. This combined with an ICF foundation will create an energy efficient home sealing the "envelope" or "shell" of your home — its outer walls, ceiling, windows, doors, and floors. This often the most cost effective way to improve energy efficiency and comfort. ENERGY STAR estimates that a knowledgeable homeowner or skilled contractor can save up to 20% on heating and cooling costs (or up to 10% on their total annual energy bill) by sealing and insulating.

Sources of Information:

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Resnet is a great website to learn about energy efficiency. This is a fun tool available on their website to learn about the HERS score of your home. Once you choose the HERS score of your home it will explain to you the energy efficient benefits of your home or areas where you can improve. 50 is the average HERS score that a Charis Homes scores with just an ICF foundation (not sure what an ICF is? Read our last post). The last few full ICF homes Charis has built have scored between a 38 and 40 HERS score!! Very impressive! Charis just keeps improving their energy efficiency, helping new home owners save even more on their utilities.

Not thinking of building and your home isn't very energy efficient? Don't get discouraged! There are many small changes that you can make in your home that will help your HERS score and best of all save you money!!!

Existing Home Energy Efficient Tip #1 - Seal your heating and cooling ducts

Ducts that move air to-and-from a forced air furnace, central air conditioner, or heat pump are often big energy wasters. Sealing and insulating ducts can improve the efficiency of your heating and cooling system by as much as 20 percent — and sometimes much more.
Focus first on sealing ducts that run through the attic, crawlspace, unheated basement, or garage. Use duct sealant (mastic) or metal-backed (foil) tape to seal the seams and connections of ducts. After sealing the ducts in those spaces, wrap them in insulation to keep them from getting hot in the summer or cold in the winter. Next, look to seal any other ducts that you can access in the heated or cooled part of the house. Click here for a Duct Sealing Brochure from the Energy Star website.

Sources of Information: and

Monday, April 16, 2012

ICF Facts

ICF Facts

What are Insulating Concrete Forms (ICFs)?
Insulated Concrete Forms (or ICFs) are forms or molds that have built-in insulation for accepting reinforced concrete. The first patent application for an ICF was registered in the late 1960’s. Since then, and particularly in the last 4 years, ICFs have been fast-becoming the mainstream preferred building product worldwide for all of the right reasons. These large, hollow blocks are stacked right off of the truck and filled with reinforcing bar and concrete. The end result leaves you with a high-performing wall that is structurally sound, insulated, strapped, has a vapor barrier and is ready to accept final exterior and interior finishes.

Why should you build with ICFs?

A better question would be, “Why would you consider building with anything else?” Here are a few of the best reasons to build with ICFs:

Comfort – Nothing blows through reinforced concrete. There will be absolutely no drafts or cold spots. ICF homeowners have commented on how constant temperatures stay within their homes. Because of the tremendous thermal mass of the exterior wall envelope, temperature peaks are smoothed, and therefore homes are noticeably warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer.

Safe & Healthy – There are no CFCs, HCFCs, or formaldehydes, and also no wood to rot and mold. ICFs are the answer for allergy and asthma sufferers. They have a two-hour fire rating and are termite and pest resistant. But most importantly, these structures can withstand a severe storm hit. Have you considered climate change into your future structure’s design?

Flexibility in Design – Reinforced concrete has tremendous proven design capabilities. For example, how many bridges do you travel over every day? ICF wall systems can support concrete floor and roof systems and give you the ultimate in innovative design.

Quiet – Your outside noises are eliminated. Is your future building site near train tracks, airports, highways or recreational vehicle trails? Maybe you simply do not wish to hear the neighbor mowing his lawn.

Energy Efficiency – Homes built with ICF exterior walls require an estimated 44% less energy to heat and 32% less energy to cool than comparable frame houses. Consequently, your HVAC systems can be downsized. Since floor systems are hung on the inside of the wall, real energy savings come when you design above-grade, thereby eliminating a huge heat loss area in conventional housing.

Build Green with ICFs - Protect our Children's Future!

Our world’s number one challenge is to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide that is being discharged into our atmosphere. The earth’s relatively sudden warming and consequent dramatic effects of climate change are directly related to these carbon dioxide emissions.

· Landfilling construction waste is reduced to less than 1% when you build with AMVIC. For every one tone of methane produced by landfilling practices, 20 tones of CO2 are produced.

· Every ICF home saves approximately 8.5 trees and effectively preserve nature’s air filters. Ask yourself the question, “How much oxygen does sand and gravel produce?”

· If we can reduce our energy bills by as high as 40%, we can reduce CO2 emissions by the same amount. The world’s international Kyoto agreement insists on a reduction of emissions by 50% just to slow down the effects of global warming. ICFs are a part of the answer to CO2 reductions.

Storm Warning!

Most importantly, ICF walls provide safe shelter from severe storms, whose occurrence is increasing in frequency as well as severity. Provinces and states with no past history of tornadoes are now experiencing them. As a result of the recent number of hurricanes in their areas, building codes are being upgraded along the seashores of the Caribbean, Florida and the Carolinas. Since 1983, insurance claims due to a majority of severe storm events have been doubling every five years. Protect your investment, protect your family, and protect yourself. Build with Insulated Concrete Forms.

Insulating Concrete Forms are the Right Choice!

  • Environmentally Friendly

No CFC's

Replaces Timber


  • Builder Friendly

Reduced Construction Time

Any Architectural Design

Replaces Insulation Material

  • Home Owner Friendly

Reduces Energy Costs

Increases Resale Value

No Structural Deterioration
Source of information: