3 Biggest Health and Safety Concerns

   Health & Safety is one of the pillars of Home Performance, and here at Elm Energy Group, we find it to be the most important. According to the EPA, Americans spend close to 90% of our time indoors. Knowing this, it is imperative to have high performing homes as a way to ensure that the air we breathe isn't doing serious harm. The EPA also estimates that the air we breathe in our homes and buildings has been found to be four to five times more harmful than the air outside.  Here are some of the most common issues we have found throughout our Home Energy Audits, in addition to hundreds of other evaluations on homes and buildings.

Radon is an odorless gas, and is the second leading cause of lung cancer and upper respiratory issues. While the average home is not generally considered a high risk area, it can be worth testing with an in-home test kit. More information can be found here.

Carbon Monoxide is an odorless, colorless, and toxic gas. Sources of Carbon Monoxide include:
  • Un-vented kerosene and gas space heaters
  • Leaking chimneys and furnaces
  • Back-drafting from furnaces, gas water heaters, wood stoves, and fireplaces
  • Gas stoves
  • Generators and other gasoline powered equipment
  • Automobile exhaust from attached garages
  • Tobacco smoke.

Incomplete oxidation during combustion in gas ranges and unvented gas or kerosene heaters may cause high concentrations of carbon monoxide in indoor air. Worn or poorly adjusted and maintained combustion devices (e.g., boilers, furnaces) can be significant sources, or if the flue is improperly sized, blocked, disconnected, or is leaking. While locating furnaces and water heaters outside the building envelope (basements, garages, attics, etc) is ideal, certain conditions within a home (air leakage, duct leakage, etc) can still allow for this deadly gas to be exposed to the homeowner in low enough doses that do not trip carbon monoxide detectors.  It is important to notice the difference between a carbon monoxide detector and a carbon monoxide monitor. We recommend installing the monitor.

-VOC’s – From the EPA website: “Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are emitted as gases from certain solids or liquids. VOCs include a variety of chemicals, some of which may have short and long-term adverse health effects.”

The best way to rid your home of VOC’s, and take another step toward having an energy efficient home, is to have well a sealed home. This is done with tight ductwork, and a ventilation system installed to national standards, which states the minimum amount of ventilation for homes. More information on VOC’s can be found directly on the EPA website.

Contact your local Elm Energy Group office to learn more about the 3 biggest health and safety concerns. It's your first and best step toward having a high performance home.

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