I have been hearing a lot lately about the greening of the funeral industry. It’s usually some new product that someone has that will shine a bright green light on your funeral home. Green stationary, green caskets, biodegradable urns and scattering urns that turn into a birdhouse! ect.
These are all nice green funeral products and some of your customers will definitely buy into green alternatives. Innovative funeral homes are riding the green wave, but what really makes a funeral home more green. What is the most important thing a funeral business can do to be more green. The answer is decrease the size of it’s carbon footprint. Translation, burn less fuel and use less electric.
No matter how old your funeral home is, there is room for improvement when it comes to efficiency and reducing the energy that your funeral home consumes.
Many funeral homes are older stately styled buildings that can really be a drain on the budget. In these challenging times many are looking for way to reduce their overhead. With energy costs being what they are now, and just going higher, funeral home owners should take action to increase the efficiency of their buildings. Most of us can not afford to keep our heads in the sand and just keep paying higher and higher utility bills!
Turning down the thermostat helps, but giving up comfort to save fuel is not the solution.
The good news is that there is something you can do about it. Today’s home energy solutions bring today’s energy technology to yesteryear’s homes and is paid for by reducing tomorrow’s utility bills. On Average you can reduce your funeral home’s energy consumption 35%. A bank could not offer you that kind of a return on your investment. Here is a way to do that. It’s also green, the right thing to do, has a positive effect on your public image and good for national security of our entire country!.
The Energy Audit
The best way to learn where and how your funeral home is losing energy is with a complete home energy audit. Use a company that is an energy star contractor or certified by the building performance Institute (B.P.I). Fixing energy draining areas in your funeral home can really have a dramatic effect and get the 20 – 50% reduction you have heard is possible. Your contractor will must look at the way the entire building is functioning and take what is called a “whole house approach”. It will be a combination of fixes that will add up to substantial savings and increased comfort. Funeral home operators don’t always have the budget to fix every little problem, it is important to pinpoint the areas that when corrected will give us the best energy reduction for the cost.
Information You Can Use
The information gathered during the energy audit is analyzed using specialized software to produce a comprehensive Home Energy Report. The Report shows which energy-efficiency improvements would reduce energy costs and make the home more comfortable. The analysis takes into account regional variables such as local weather, implementation costs, and fuel prices. The Report contains estimates of the savings, costs and payback for each energy-efficiency recommendation.
Formulating Your Plan
After the audit you will have identified where your funeral home is losing energy. Now you can work with your contractor to assign priorities that will give you the best return on your energy saving dollars. (Go for the best buys first) Often it will be the cheapest, easiest projects that make the biggest dents in you utility bills.
Some guiding questions are:
• How much money do you spend on energy?
• Where are your greatest energy losses?
• How long will it take for an investment in energy efficiency to pay for itself in energy cost savings?
• Do the energy saving measures provide additional benefits that are important to you (for example), increased comfort from simple weatherization of your windows and doors.
• How long do you plan to own your funeral home?
Tools of the trade
These are some reasons for establishing the proper building tightness:
- Reducing energy consumption due to air leakage
- Avoiding moisture condensation problems
- Avoiding uncomfortable drafts caused by cold air leaking in
How They Work
A blower door is a powerful fan that mounts into the frame of an exterior door. The fan pulls air out of the house, lowering the air pressure inside. The higher outside air pressure then flows in through all unsealed cracks and openings. The auditors may use a smoke pencil to detect air leaks. These tests determine the air infiltration rate of a building.
Blower doors consist of a frame and flexible panel that you can place in a doorway, a variable-speed fan, a pressure gauge to measure the pressure differences inside and outside the home, and an airflow manometer and hoses for measuring airflow.
There are two types of blower doors: calibrated and uncalibrated. It is important that auditors use a calibrated door. This type of blower door has several gauges that measure the amount of air pulled out of the house by the fan. Uncalibrated blower doors can only locate leaks in homes. They provide no method for determining the overall tightness of a building. The calibrated blower door’s data allows the auditor to quantify the amount of air leakage and the effectiveness of any air-sealing job
An infrared scanner will display differences in temperature when pointed at a surface. The scans work best when there is a difference of 20 degrees or more from the interior to the outdoors, this is why the winter is the ideal time to conduct an energy audit of your funeral home. An infrared scan conducted from inside the house will reveal not only the areas of cold air infiltration, but areas of walls and floors that are warmer or colder than adjoining areas. We can see heat ducts, water pipes, even the studs in the wall. The infrared scan will most importantly also reveal areas of inadequate or nonexistent insulation. Energy Wise Homes auditors use infrared scanning to detect thermal defects in building envelopes.
How They Work
The infrared camera measures light that is in the heat spectrum. Images on the film record the temperature variations of the building’s skin, ranging from white for warm regions to black for cooler areas. The resulting images help the auditor determine whether insulation is needed. They also serve as a quality control tool, to ensure that insulation has been installed correctly.
A thermographic inspection is either an interior or exterior survey. The energy auditor decides which method would give the best results under certain weather conditions. Interior scans are more common, because warm air escaping from a building does not always move through the walls in a straight line. Heat loss detected in one area of the outside wall might originate at some other location on the inside of the wall. Also, it is harder to detect temperature differences on the outside surface of the building during windy weather. Because of this difficulty, interior surveys are generally more accurate because they benefit from reduced air movement.
Thermographic scans are also commonly used with a blower door test running. The blower door helps exaggerate air leaking through defects in the building shell. Such air leaks appear as black streaks in the infrared camera’s viewfinder.
Energy auditors use these images as a tool to help detect heat losses and air leakage in building envelopes. Infrared scanning also allows energy auditors to check the effectiveness of insulation a building’s construction. The resulting thermograms help auditors determine whether a building needs insulation and where in the building it should go. Because wet insulation conducts heat faster than dry insulation, thermographic scans of roofs can often detect roof leaks.
When looking at a building to determine where our money is best spent, we always look first at the top and bottom of the structure. The top and bottom of the house are the areas where air infiltration and heat loss are most pronounced because there are actual pressures forcing outside air into the house at the low points and conditioned air being forced by pressures out of the top of the house. About halfway up the house is what is known as the neutral zone, where air is neither forced in or out. These differences in pressure are created by what is known as the stack effect.
Stack effect is the movement of air into and out of buildings or other containers, and is driven by buoyancy. Buoyancy occurs due to a difference in indoor-to-outdoor air density resulting from temperature and moisture differences. The result is either a positive or negative buoyancy force. The greater the thermal difference and the height of the structure, the greater the buoyancy force, and thus the stack effect. The stack effect is also referred to as the “chimney effect”, and it helps drive natural ventilation or infiltration
No matter how well we insulate the natural forces of the stack effect will still be present. This is why sealing off the thermal envelope by what is called air-sealing is so important. In fact any B.P.I certified home performance contractor will not insulate your funeral home until they have done their best to first air-seal the thermal envelope from the energy draining forces of the stack effect. The thermal envelope is the area of the house that you
live in and heat in the winter or cool in the summer. It is the barrier that keeps
the outside air out and the inside air in!
The old way of thinking was that buildings needed to “Breathe” and that they needed this natural uncontrolled ventilation. It is true that houses need ventilation, but energy efficient homes address this by sealing the envelope as tight as possible and then ventilate as needed with controlled ventilation.
Air sealing is a crucial part of building a healthy, energy-efficient home. Below is a checklist of items to use to ensure proper air sealing when building or renovating a conventional stick-frame home. A leaky home will decrease the R-value of your insulation, create unwanted drafts and comfort issues, and bring moisture and pollutants into the home. As the saying goes, “Seal it tight and insulate it right!”
Insulation and How it Works
You need insulation in your funeral home to provide resistance to heat flow. The more heat flow resistance your insulation provides, the lower your heating and cooling costs.
Heat flows naturally from a warmer to a cooler space. In the winter, this heat flow moves directly from all heated living spaces to adjacent unheated attics, garages, basements, and even to the outdoors. Heat flow can also move indirectly through interior ceilings, walls, and floors—wherever there is a difference in temperature. During the cooling season, heat flows from the outdoors to the interior of a house.
To maintain comfort, the heat lost in the winter must be replaced by your heating system and the heat gained in the summer must be removed by your cooling system. Properly insulating your home will decrease this heat flow by providing an effective resistance to the flow of heat. These days the insulation of choice is closed or open cell spray foam insulation and cellulose blown insulation. Fiberglass insulation is no longer recommended and if the fiberglass in your attic of your funeral home is in bad shape your contractor will want to remove it.
We hope the information we have given you here today will help you with your funeral homes energy solutions. Remember the first step to improving the performance of any house is an Home Energy Audit. A energy audit will give you the information needed to get the best value for your energy saving dollars.
By Jeff Staab
Owner of Cremation Solutions, The Life Tree Farm and
Former owner of Energy Wise Homes