Because It’s Old Doesn’t Necessarily Mean It Won’t Cut the Mustard in a Cat 5 Hurricane
St. Augustine Florida founded in 1565* now in St. Johns county, is the oldest continually occupied city in continental USA but Miami is the oldest city in South Florida with the exception of Key West, perhaps. Juan Ponce de León was the first European to visit Miami. In the year 1513, Juan Ponce de Leon sailed into Biscayne Bay. Chequescha, was Miami’s first recorded name.**
A Spanish mission was established in the Miami area in 1567. The first permanent European settlers arrived around 1800. On July 28, 1896, the incorporation meeting to make Miami a city took place. *** Being the oldest municipality in South Florida, it’s not a far a stretch of imagination to think of and compare the number of older homes; those homes built before the recent code revisions of 1994 and 2001, as opposed to the number of homes built after these dates. Obviously the number of older homes in Miami Florida far exceed the number of newer homes.
The Barnacle in Coconut Grove built in the year 1891, is the oldest house still in its original place in Miami-Dade County. The Barnacle survived the “Great Miami Hurricane” of 1926 and that event birthed the South Florida Building code. The South Florida Building Code was the first building code in the United States. This building code was duplicated by more 5000 cities nationwide.
The Barnacle also survived Hurricane Andrew with minimal damages. So the question is, why did this home built on the shore of Biscayne Bay in 1891, survive the Great Miami Hurricane with its ensuing fifteen foot storm surge, while most of the remaining homes were laid to waste? The obvious answer is; it was better built. It was built in such a way as to afford its sustainability during a hurricane.
Miami in the 1920s was in a period of unprecedented expansion. Many people were moving from northern cities to Miami. The city was expanding exponentially during this time. Land speculation was in vogue. Flagler’s railroad now served Miami and Flagler had built a number of quality hotels along the route. People were pouring into Miami and they needed housing. Houses and buildings were hastily built and as they say, “haste makes waste,” and when the Great Miami Hurricane came to town, waste was its calling card.
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Ten Easy Ways to Save Energy
Most people don’t know how easy it is to make their homes run on less energy, we want to change that. Drastic reductions in costs for heating, cooling and electricity are accomplished through very simple changes, most of which homeowners can do themselves. Of course, for homeowners who want to take advantage of the most up-to-date knowledge and systems in home energy efficiency energy auditors can do in-depth testing to find the best energy solutions for your particular home.
Why make your home more energy-efficient? Here are a few good reasons:
•Federal, state, utility and local jurisdictions’ financial incentives, such as tax breaks, are very helpful for homeowners in most parts of the U.S.
•It saves money. It costs less to power a home that was converted to energy-efficient appliances, air cooling and heating equipment and light fixtures.
•Energy efficient appliances and lighting will increase the comfort level indoors.
•Will cut our impact on climate change. Many scientists now believe that excessive energy consumption contributes significantly to global warming.
•Will cut pollution. Conventional power production introduces pollutants that find their way into the air, soil and water supplies.
1. Find better ways to heat and cool your house.
As much as half of the energy used in homes goes toward heating and cooling. The following are a few ways that energy bills are reduced through adjustments to the heating and cooling systems:•Install a ceiling fan. Ceiling fans can be used in place of air conditioners. Air conditioners need a large amount of electrical energy to operate properly. •Periodically replace air filters in air conditioners and heaters. •Set thermostats to a proper temperature. Specifically, heater should be turned down when no one is home. In most homes, about 2% of the heating bill is saved for each degree that the thermostat turned down for at least eight hours each day. Turning down the thermostat from 75° F to 70° F, saves about 10% on heating costs. •Install a programmable thermostat. A programmable thermostat saves money by allowing heating and cooling appliances to be automatically turned down during times that no one is home and at night or at certain times of each day. Programmable thermostats contain no mercury and, in some climate zones, can save up to $150 per year in energy costs. •Install a wood stove or a pellet stove. Wood and pellet stoves are more efficient sources of heat than furnaces.•At night, curtains drawn over windows will better insulate the room.
2. Install a tank-less water heater.
Demand-type water heaters (tank-less or instantaneous) provide hot water only when needed. They don’t produce the standby energy losses associated with traditional storage water heaters, which will save on energy costs. Tank-less water heaters heat water directly without a storage tank. When a hot water
tap is on, cold water travels through a pipe into the unit. A gas burner or an electric element heats the water. As a result, demand water heaters deliver a constant supply of hot water. You don’t need to wait for a storage tank to fill up with enough hot water.
3. Replace incandescent lights.
The average household dedicates 11% of its energy budget to lighting. Traditional incandescent lights convert about 10% of the energy they consume into light, while the rest becomes heat. The use of new lighting technologies, such as light-emitting diodes (LEDs) and compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), can reduce the energy use required by lighting by 50% to 75%. Advances in lighting controls offer further energy savings by reducing the amount of time that lights are on but not being used. Here are some facts about CFLs and
•CFLs use 75% less energy and last about 10 times longer than traditional incandescent bulbs.
•LEDs last even longer than CFLs and consume less energy.
•LEDs have no moving parts and, unlike CFLs, they contain no mercury.
4. Seal and insulate your home.
Sealing and insulating your home is one of the most cost-effective ways to make a home more comfortable and energy-efficient, and you can do it yourself. A tightly sealed home can improve comfort and indoor air quality while reducing utility bills. An energy auditor can find leakage in the building envelope and recommend fixes that will dramatically increase comfort and energy savings.
The following are some common places where leakage may occur:
•around pipes and wires;
•wall- or window-mounted air conditioners;
•inadequate weatherstripping around doors;
•window frames; and
Because hot air rises, air leaks are most likely to occur in the attic. Homeowners can do a variety of repairs and maintenance to their attics that save them money on cooling and heating, such as:
•Plug the large holes. Locations in the attic where leakage is most likely the greatest, are where walls meet the attic floor, behind and under attic knee walls, and in dropped-ceiling areas.
•Seal the small holes. You can easily do this by looking for areas where the insulation is darkened. Darkened insulation is a result of dusty interior air being filtered by insulation before leaking through small holes in the building envelope. In cold weather, you may see frosty areas in the insulation caused by warm, moist air condensing and then freezing as it hits the cold attic air. In warmer weather, you’ll find water staining in these same areas. Use expanding foam or caulk to seal the openings around plumbing vent pipes and electrical wires. Cover the areas with insulation after the caulk is dry.
•Seal up the attic access panel with weather-stripping. You can cut a piece of fiberglass or rigid foam board insulation in the same size as the attic hatch and glue it to the back of the attic access panel. If you have pull-down attic stairs or an attic door, these should be sealed in a similar way.
5. Install efficient shower heads and toilets.
The following systems can be installed to conserve water usage in homes:
•low-flow shower-heads They are available in different flow rates, and some have a pause button which shuts off the water while the bather lathers up;
•low-flow toilets. Toilets consume 30% to 40% of the total water used in homes, making them the biggest water users. Replacing an older 3.5-gallon toilet with a modern, low-flow 1.6-gallon toilet can cut usage an average of 2 gallons-per-flush (GPF), saving 12,000 gallons of water per year. Low-flow toilets usually
have “1.6 GPF” marked on the bowl behind the seat or inside the tank;
•vacuum-assist toilets. This type of toilet has a vacuum chamber that uses a siphon action to suck air from the trap beneath the bowl, allowing it to quickly fill with water to clear waste. Vacuum-assist toilets are relatively quiet; and•dual-flush toilets. Dual-flush toilets have been used in Europe and Australia for years and are now gaining popularity in the U.S. Dual-flush toilets let you choose between a 1-gallon (or less) flush for liquid waste, and a 1.6-gallon flush for solid waste. Dual-flush 1.6-GPF toilets reduce water consumption by an extra 30%.
6. Use appliances and electronics responsibly.
Appliances and electronics account for about 20% of household energy bills in a typical U.S. home. The following are tips that will cut the required energy of electronics and appliances:
•Do not locate refrigerators and freezers near the stove, dishwasher or heat vents, or expose to direct sunlight. Exposure to warm areas will force them to use more energy to stay cool.
•If unattended computers should be turned off when not in use. According to some studies, computers account for about 3% of all energy consumption in the United States.
•Use efficient ENERGY STAR-rated appliances and electronics. These devices, approved by the U.S. Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency’s ENERGY STAR Program, include TVs, home theater systems, DVD players, CD players, receivers, speakers, and more. According to the EPA, if just 10% of homes used energy-efficient appliances, it would reduce carbon emissions equal to 1.7 million acres of trees.
•Chargers, such as those used for laptops and cell phones, consume energy when connected to the wall outlet. When they are not connected to electronics, disconnect your chargers.
•Laptop computers consume considerably less electricity than desktop computers.
7. Install day-lighting as an alternative to electrical lighting.
Day-lighting is the practice of using natural light to illuminate the home’s interior. This is done by using the following:
•skylights. It’s important that they be double-pane or they will not be cost-effective. Flashing skylights correctly is key to avoiding leaks;
•light shelves. Light shelves are passive devices designed to bounce light deep into a building. They are interior or exterior. Light shelves can introduce light into a space up to 2½ times the distance from the floor to the top of the window, and advanced light shelves may introduce four times that amount;
•clerestory windows. Clerestory windows are short, wide windows set high on the wall. Protected from the summer sun by the roof overhang, they allow winter sun to shine through for natural lighting and warmth; and
•light tubes. Light tubes use a special lens designed to amplify low-level light and cut light intensity from the midday sun. Sunlight is channeled through a tube coated with a highly reflective material, and then enters the living space through a diffuser designed to distribute light evenly.
8. Insulate windows and doors.
About one-third of the home’s total heat loss usually occurs through windows and doors. The following are ways to cut energy lost through windows and doors:
•Seal all window edges and cracks with rope caulk. This is the cheapest and simplest option.
•Windows can be weather-stripped with a special lining that is inserted between the window and the frame. For doors, apply weather-stripping around the perimeter to make sure they are tight sealed when closed. Install quality door sweeps on the bottom of the doors, if they aren’t already in place.
•Install storm windows at windows with only single panes. A removable glass frame can be installed over an existing window.
•If existing windows have rotted or damaged wood, cracked glass, missing putty, poorly fitting sashes, or locks that don’t work, they repair or replace them.
9. Cook smart.
An enormous amount of energy is wasted while cooking. The following recommendations and statistics illustrate less wasteful ways of cooking:
•Convection ovens are more efficient that conventional ovens. They use fans to force hot air to circulate more evenly, thereby allowing food to be cooked at a lower temperature. Convection ovens use about 20% less electricity than conventional ovens.
•Microwave ovens consume about 80% less energy than conventional ovens.
•Pans should be placed on the matching size heating element or flame.
•Using lids on pots and pans will heat food more quickly than cooking in uncovered pots and pans.
•Pressure cookers reduce cooking time dramatically.
•When using conventional ovens, food should be placed on the top rack. The top rack is hotter and will cook food faster.
10. Change the way you do laundry.
•Do not use the medium setting on your washer. Wait until you have a full load of clothes, as the medium setting saves less than half of the water and energy used for a full load.
•Avoid using high-temperature settings when clothes are not very soiled. Water that is 140° F uses far more energy than 103° F for the warm-water setting, but 140° F isn’t that much more effective for getting clothes clean.
•Clean the lint trap every time before you use the dryer. Not only is excess lint a fire hazard, but it will prolong the amount of time required for your clothes to dry.
•If possible, air-dry your clothes on lines and racks.
Homeowners that take the initiative to make these changes usually discover that the energy savings are more than worth the effort. Home inspectors can make this process easier because they can do a more comprehensive assessment of energy-savings potential than the average homeowner can.