Ron Denhaan, Realtor (949) 290-3263. Orange County real estate specialist.
The Greener Home
 

The Greener Home

Going Green can mean many things. For some people, it means purchasing products that are biodegradable or that are manufactured from recycled materials. For others it means trading in that gas-guzzler for a hybrid automobile. Still for others, it means making your home more energy efficient, which is the primary focus of this web page. Energy efficiency means replacing older appliances or adding systems to your home that reduce your energy consumption and your utility bills. It can also mean using the power of the sun,  to generate electricity, to heat your pool, or to add natural light to darker areas of your home. 

Greening your home has some real advantages. Aside form the fact that it's good for your health and the environment, going green can also save you money. By purchasing energy efficient appliances and systems, you can reduce your utility bills and realize a significant return on your investment. Also, by installing energy efficient products and systems in your home, you may be eligible for a number of rebates that are offered through your utility company, as well as the state and federal governments. 

Green and eco-friendly homes in Orange County, CA. If you are interested in purchasing or leasing a home with green or energy-efficient features, just call me and I will create a custom MLS search for you. This search can include homes with energy saving devices such as whole house attic fans, energy star appliances and cooling, solar panels, solar pool heating, etc. The Multiple Listing Service (MLS) has been steadily increasing the capability to search for homes with eco-friendly features. I will be happy to use these new search capabilities to search for a home with green features for you!

 
Menu - Go to a topic by selecting one of the options below

Whole house fan

Its hot in Orange County! Orange County gets hot in the summer, especially in the inland county areas. Running central air conditioning is an expensive, energy wasting solution. One way to help is with a whole hose attic fan. These systems help cool and ventilate your home, while  using less energy and saving you money. To give you an idea on how these systems work, consider the temperature imbalances in your home late on a summer day. The outside air is usually cool in the late afternoon and evening. The lower level of your home is also much cooler than the upper level, which is often uncomfortably hot. The air in the attic gets even hotter; sometimes as much as 20 to 30 degrees hotter that your home's second level. This imbalance is created because in our newer, super-insulated homes, heat rises and is trapped, just like in a green house! Poor air circulation in our homes also means that means that opening windows does little to remove the trapped heat.

But what if you could easily bring the entire home to the cooler temperature of the outside air? You can with a whole house fan. These work by simple physics. By creating a powerful (but nearly unnoticeable) suction in the upper level of the home, cool, outside air is drawn in and circulates quickly through the lower and upper levels of your home. The hot air is forced out of the home through the attic vents and gables. Within a very short time, the temperature in your entire home is equalized to the temperature of the outside air. In addition to efficient, low cost cooling, the whole house attic fan system has the added benefit of ventilating the home. This helps to reduce mold, mildew, bacteria, odors, and moisture, which become trapped by our super-insulated homes and contribute to the phenomenon known as sick building syndrome.

Quiet Cool fan system

Quiet cool fan

There are many types of whole house attic fans available, but one of the main drawbacks of lower priced models is noise. The typical system consists of a single, large fan, which is mounted to the ceiling in a common area. Because the fan is large and sits above the grill, the system can be unpleasantly noisy. The system I recommend (and recently installed in my own home) is by Quiet Cool. These systems use a smaller fan mounted on the end of a long, insulated duct, resulting in very quiet operation. The video below demonstrates the Quiet Cool system and how it works.  

 
If you are interested about learning more about a Quiet Cool whole house fan installation in Orange County, CA, or if you would like have one of these systems professionally installed in your home, I recommend that you contact Direct Electric Company at (951) 965-1014 or at www.DirectElectricCo.com .  

( Please let them know that you read about their product on www.ronforhomes.com ! )

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Solar powered attic fan

A solar powered attic fan has a different function than a whole house fan (above). The purpose of these fans is to remove trapped heat from the attic during the peak of the day. These units can supplement a whole house fan or they may be used alone. Because of the greenhouse effect, the temperature in your attic can be as much as 20 to 50 degrees higher than the rest of your home. This heat radiates back into the house, raising the cost of cooling. Unlike a whole house attic fan which is typically used in the morning or late in the day to bring cool air into the home, the solar powered attic fan is used to exhaust hot air from the attic during the hottest part of the day. This helps equalize the temperature of the attic and cool the home. It does this at no cost, since it is entirely solar powered!  

Roof mounted attic fan

Unlike whole house fans, which are installed inside the home and in the attic, Solar powered attic fans are mounted on the outside of the building using a hole in the roof, Other models are designed to fit over an existing gable or dormer vent in the attic. The solar panel to power the unit is then mounted on the roof where it can pick up the most sunlight. While these units are primarily used to help ventilate the attic, they are also useful for helping to cool down an overly warm garage or storage facility. Most units come as either 10-watt or 20-watt models, with the later capable of moving more air. 

Gable mounted solar attic fan

Roof mounted attic fan with on-board solar panel

 

A gable mounted fan with external solar panel 

The following video by US Sunlight Corp demonstrates the solar powered attic fan


One of the companies that is qualified to install solar powered attic fans in Orange County is Solatube HomeDayLight in Lake Forest. You can reach them by phone at (949) 544-7830. You can view their products here: www.daylightoc.com. Another source for attic fans is Sola-lite of Orange County. Their phone number is (714) 835-8391.

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Solar daylighting systems

Solar tube in home Much of the energy usage in a typical home goes toward lighting it. While lighting is obviously needed at night, many homes also have darker areas (bathrooms, closets, garages, nooks, and kitchens) that require supplemental lighting during the day. What if you could turn out the lights and turn on the sun? Solar daylighting systems bring natural daylight into dark areas of your home through the use of a roof-mounted dome, attic-mounted tubing, and a ceiling diffuser. These systems are affordable, environmentally friendly, and cost effective. By using the sun you will definitely save electricity. Solatube® is one of the popular manufacturers of these products. The video below demonstrates this system and how it works. Roof mounted collector dome
Roof mounted lens

For information on Solatubes, please visit Solatube HomeDayLight in Orange County. This company also has a store front in Lake Forest where you can see many Solatubes installed. They also carry solar powered attic fans. You can reach them by phone at (949) 544-7830 and www.daylightoc.com

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Solar panels

Solar panel Solar photovoltaic (PV) systems convert sunlight directly into electricity. They do this through the use of roof-mounted solar panels and an inverter that converts direct current (DC) into alternating current (AC). The resulting AC current is integrated into your existing electrical grid for use in your home. This helps reduce the amount of electricity that you will have to purchase from your utility company. 
I am very intrigued by solar panel or photovoltaic systems, though I'm still in the process of researching them. I will expand this area as I learn more about the costs and benefits of these systems. My impression, based on a limited amount of information, is that solar panels are still a rather costly option and that it can take years to realize a significant return on your investment. I do expect that over time these systems will become increasingly affordable (and necessary!) For now, I would advise Orange County homeowners to contact the vendors below. Many of them offer a free evaluation of your home that can help you determine the cost of panels and how much energy you will save by installing them. Solar panels
Robinson Solar  Ameco Solar  Swan Solar Seabright Solar Getsolar.com

If you have installed solar panels on your home, I would welcome your comments!  Please feel free to contact me at Ron@rondrealestate.com

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Window Awnings

Fabric awning

Decorative fabric awning

Yes, awnings are green! This topic might surprise you, but installing window awnings on key locations of your home may help reduce your energy bills! They do this by helping to block excess heat from entering your home, which reduces your cooling costs. They also help protect your home from harmful UV rays, which can stream into your home and damage flooring and furniture. Windows that are west facing are especially susceptible to allowing direct afternoon sunlight to radiate into the home, contributing to heat accumulation and strong, UV exposure. 
Awnings come in many styles and colors to easily blend with your home's exterior. Awnings made from fabric are the most popular, but you can also purchase awnings manufactured from metal, wood, or plastic. There are also many styles of decorative mounting hardware. Regardless of style, the function of all awnings is to create shading in order to block sunlight from radiating into the home. There are also incentives to install awnings. As part of the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009, there may be a rebate of up to $250 for homeowners who install awnings (check the web page to see if you qualify).

I have not installed these on my home yet, so I do not have data on how effective they are. If you are an Orange County, CA homeowner, I would recommend contacting the vendors below for information and price quotes:

Metal awning

Metal awning

Quality Shade   (800) 469-2964 Accent Awning (800) 332--2866 Awnings in Motion (949) 249-1966 B & C Awnings (714) 632-3303

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Green Moving

recopack moving boxes The next time you need to make a move, consider going green. Go Green Moving uses rentable crates instead of typical cardboard boxes. Their fleet of trucks are powered by EPA certified biodiesel fuel rather then fossil fuels. Consider an eco-friendly, leaner and greener moving company for your next move. Request a quote here.

I also recommend reusable moving boxes. Over 20 percent of the American population packs and moves each year, generating massive quantities of waste, which ultimately ends up in a landfill. The recopack® from rentagreenbox.com is a zero-waste pack and move solution made entirely from 100% recycled plastic trash mined from local landfills. The boxes are available in several sizes and are delivered direct to your door by the company's fleet of super-green eco-trucks powered by waste vegetable oil and biofuel. Contact the company here: 1.888.900.PACK [7225]

Movers using recopack® reusable moving boxes

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Green-oriented / eco-friendly neighborhoods and housing developments in Orange County

Eco-friendly Eco-friendly neighborhoods are beginning to see daylight in Orange County. One neighborhood that comes to mind is Ladera Ranch's Terramor Village. This village of 12 different tracts was designed with many green-oriented features including water conservation, energy efficiency, green materials and resources, and indoor environmental quality. The homes have all been built to exceed California's energy-efficiency requirements by 20%.You can learn more about Terramor and the other Ladera villages here. Part of Ladera Ranch's commitment to green engineering is reflected in the "roundabouts", which are at many intersections in the community. The roundabouts allow traffic to flow, with a minimal amount of starting and stopping, as would be the case with stop signs or traffic lights  If you are interested in receiving a list of homes for sale that are LEED certified, just send me an e-mail. 

Update - May, 2012 -  I have started adding homes for sale in Orange County with energy efficient features

I will add other green-oriented neighborhoods in Orange County to this web page as I become aware of them.

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Green rebates

San Diego Gas and Electric SDG&E offers rebates for many green home additions including a whole house attic fan, appliance recycling, energy star products, etc.
SC Edison Edison offers rebates for many green additions including solar panels, heating and cooling, energy star products, and more.
California Cash for Appliances A State of California program that offers rebates to homeowners who replace outdated appliances with energy efficient ones. Washers (rebate $100), refrigerators (rebate $200), and room/window air conditioners (rebate $50).
Federal Tax Credits The Federal government is offering tax credits for homeowners who purchase certain energy star products. 
CA state incentives This is a large database of incentives for renewables and efficiencies.

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Additional Tips

  • If you live in a housing development that is governed by a Homeowners' Association (HOA), make sure you stay in compliance with the HOA's rules and regulations. These regulations may affect what you are allowed to do with the exterior of your home, so please be sure you check with them before installing any of the products mentioned on this page. 

  • Replace all of your power-hungry, incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescents (CFs) or LED bulbs. These types use far less electricity than incandescent light bulbs, and I suggest that you start by replacing high wattage spot lights used in recessed lighting fixtures, as well as bulbs in bathroom vanity areas and in high traffic areas of your home. 

  • Add a kitchen recycling bin. Many sanitation companies in Southern California do provide large recycling containers for outside of the home, but by adding a recycling bin to your kitchen, it will make it easier to separate the recyclables from the regular trash, before dumping. Here is one source for recycling bins.

  • Use biodegradable trash bags. The plastic bags and liners most of use take 1,000 years to degrade in a land fill. Biodegradable bags disintegrate completely in about one year. Use these to line your trash bins, or better yet, don't use trash bin liners at all!  Here is one source for biodegradable trash bags

  • Buy a hybrid vehicle. With the price of gas at over $4.00/gallon, this is a "no-brainer". Trade in that gas-guzzling V8 ands get a hybrid! Many of these vehicles get as much as 35 miles per gallon or more! Here is a source for learning about hybrid cars.

  • Are lights in your home being left on, all of the time? Install motion detector switches in bathrooms, hallways, and high traffic areas. These switches will turn on a light when they sense movement, then turn it off, after a predetermined period of time.

  • Paperless billing -  If you are like me, you are buried in mail and paper. It seems like every day, someone wants me to buy something or pay something (my shredder just can't keep up with it!) One of the things I did was to start contacting my all of my billing companies and switch to paperless billing. It was easy to do and many of the companies' web sites have sections where you can pay on-line and get regular e-mail reminders for when your bill is due!

Links

Greenhome.com - The environmental store Direct Electric Company  - Whole house attic fans Green made simple  - Simple ways to save more!
EPA Green homes Solatube® daylighting systems - Local vendor Go Green Moving - Environmentally friendly moving Co.
National Geographics Green Guide Hybrid Cars - Great page for gas-saving vehicles! Rent a green box - Earth-friendly moving
US Building Council's Green home guide Regreen residential remodeling program Incandescent, Fluorescent, or LED light bulbs? - Analysis
Recycled products Orange County hazardous waste collection center Bean products Natural choices for yourself, home, & planet
Green Glossary Very helpful page to learn "green" jargon


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This page will be an on-going project. I'll continue to add sections to this page as I work with new products or gain personal experience by installing them in my own home. Whether you are interesting in greening your home for the energy savings, for your health, or for the environment, going green is the way to go. If you are interested in buying or leasing a home with green or eco-friendly features, just call me. I will be happy to set up a custom search for you! Be part of the solution rather than part of the problem!!  

   Ron Denhaan

Broker contact

Ron@rondrealestate.com

BRE LIc# 01728866

NAR Green designation

Ron Denhaan, Realtor


Copyright © 2011- Ron Denhaan and CDC Technology, Inc.  All rights reserved

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The author of this page does not warrant or assume any legal liability or responsibility for the quality, accuracy, completeness, legality, reliability or usefulness of any information, product or service contained herein. Readers of this web page are always advised to do their own research, and are encouraged to compare products and prices. Anyone using the information on this page, does so at his or her own risk, and by using such information agrees to indemnify the author and his content providers from any and all liability, loss, injury, damages, costs and expenses (including legal fees and expenses) arising from such use. The author may receive compensation for referring certain products or services on this page.