How Livestock Farming Depletes the Ozone

Meat-Consumption-JpgThe United States is the second highest country in the world that consumes meat, with an average American consuming 270.7 pounds per year[1]. Only Luxembourg beats this number, with an average of 301.4 pounds of meat consumed per person per year[2]. With this amount of food consumed by each person, it is no surprise that about 51% of America is farmland[3]. But with the high demand of food comes the high costs affecting our planet.

According to the EPA, the agricultural sector is the primary source of methane, or CH4, emissions in the United States[4]. To give you a broad scope of how this gas affects our planet, a 2013 study by the EPA concluded that CH4 accounts for 10% of all greenhouse gas emissions due to human activity[5]. Livestock is the major driver for the CH4 emissions, considering humans collect their manure to make fertilizer, which produces CH4. Farming livestock not only creates access greenhouse gases, but it also causes global land-use and land-use changes. Examples include deforestation, desertification, and the release of carbon from the cultivated soils, contributing to the overall destruction of habitats and the ozone[6].

But how exactly does eating one hamburger contribute to harming our planet? Let’s break it down. To feed the cow that will become the hamburger, you need 6.7 pounds of grains. Then 52.8 gallons of water are needed for both the cow and irrigation, and a total of 74.5 square feet for every cow to graze and for growing crops for the cow to eat. Lastly, an average of 1,036 btu of fossil fuel energy are needed for feed production and transport of the meat[7]. All of these resources are precious, especially now that fossil fuels are pricey and California is currently in a severe drought. These numbers don’t even include the cow’s waste or CH4 emissions. There may be one upside, however: cattle inventory has dropped since the 1970s. So, fewer cows are being slaughtered. Still, the United States has been producing more meat compared to the 1970s[8]. The question then arises, is it worth the unethical treatment of the animals and the access greenhouse gases to continue to eat meat? Let us start at the beginning.

With the introduction of agriculture over 10,000 years ago, humans relied less on the previous hunter-gatherer methods and more on the byproducts of domesticated animals. Before domestication, meat was a viable source of protein needed for early Homo sapiens and Neanderthals to survive. However, their environment was much different than the one we know today. Early humans lived in a much colder, harsher climate; a diet of only nuts and roots would not sustain you for long 10,000 years ago. However, nowadays meat is easily procured and produced for us. Modern conveniences like mass livestock farms and supermarkets have reduced our need for hunting, let alone direct domestication of our own livestock. Without the need to farm ourselves, the need to understand where our food comes from and how it is produced no longer interests us. As a nation, America no longer cares about the food we eat.

When we no longer care for the facts, we become disengaged from our health and the affects certain foods have on our bodies. According to the American Dietetic Association, “…appropriately planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases” (2009, Journal of the American Diet Assoc.). Protein is found throughout a variety of vegetables and fruits, and thanks to the modern age, incorporating them in your daily food is made easy through a variety of powders, simple recipes, and veggie “meats”.

With less consumption of meat and animal byproducts, we can dramatically reduce the greenhouse gas emissions caused by livestock farming, as well as the continued extinction of our forests due to livestock farmland. Even by going “meatless” once a week for a meal, or better yet a day, we help one step at a time to save our planet. But if eating less meat seems unrealistic, there are other options for those who want to lower carbon and methane emissions.

BEST-Techs is one of the only BPI Certified and GreenPoint Rated construction companies that will test and measure for harmful emissions in homes. Jason, the Building Scientist, tests gas burning appliances, furnaces, AC units, water heaters, and the many other mechanics in homes and checks for proper installation and working condition. Most of the time, homeowners do not realize that their everyday appliances emit odorless, and potentially fatal, carbon monoxide gas. Getting your home tested for CO2 and CH4 emissions is a simple and affordable way to help the environment. And unlike eating less meat, testing homes is a more direct approach to lowering harmful emissions that deplete our ozone.

 

[1] “A Nation of Meat Eaters: See How It All Adds Up”; http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2012/06/27/155527365/visualizing-a-nation-of-meat-eaters

 

[2] “A Nation of Meat Eaters: See How It All Adds Up”

[3] “Major Land Uses”;

http://www.ers.usda.gov/topics/farm-economy/land-use,-land-value-tenure/major-land-uses.aspx

 

[4] “Overview of Greenhouse Gases”; https://www3.epa.gov/climatechange/ghgemissions/gases/ch4.html

 

[5] “Overview of Greenhouse Gases”

[6] “The Role of Livestock in Climate Change”; http://www.fao.org/agriculture/lead/themes0/climate/en/

 

[7] “A Nation of Meat Eaters: See How It All Adds Up”

[8] “A Nation of Meat Eaters: See How It All Adds Up”

Remodeling? Speed vs. Cost vs. Quality

For as long as people have been buying and selling goods orSpeed Cost Quality
delivering a service, the conundrum of price vs. quality vs.
speed of delivery has existed. When acquiring a product or
service, do you really want it to be the cheapest?
Jason entered the construction industry when he was a
teenager, in the “Hands On” labor environment, which is
something he is no stranger to. “Even though I have many
years’ experience in sales and project management now, I
am still taken by surprise when customers expect the whole
package at the lowest price and as soon as possible.” Of
course, everyone wants the best deal or the best value for money on the best product in the least amount of time. That is human nature.  A reality check is in play when doing things right.
Jason and Penny have been studying building science for over 15 years, specializing in building
defects, Indoor Air Quality, Sustainability, Non-Toxic and No VOC materials, they have noticed
that this is a specialty field that takes a lot of time, patience, commitment, and most of all,
knowledge to fulfill their clients wants, needs and wishes.  This is where BEST-Techs Contracting
does its job. We offer a quality green renovation at a standard higher than our competition. We are committed
to providing our clients with energy efficient, Sustainable, Green Renovations that provide great Indoor
Air Quality, for a fair price and great value. We test, measure, and prove our End Results! These same standards should be applied by all contractors, but very few care about quality, due to lack of education and homeowner “Low Bid” mentality. Let’s take the car industry for instance. Lexus, Mercedes Benz, and BMW are top sellers in their
respective segments, but they are certainly not the cheapest. Yet people buy them, because they are known for quality and reliability. BEST-Techs Contracting wants to set the same example for the construction industry, “Do It Right The First Time Around!” says Jason Scheurer, Lead Building Scientist and Forensic Building Investigator. There are expectations to be made from our clients and we need to reach, and exceed them. The same should be applied in all industries, especially when choosing your contractor for doing green renovations to a house, as this is the biggest purchase the average person will ever make. So, you want SPEED, COST, AND QUALITY all wrapped up into one? When looking for your next contractor of choice, consider what matters most to you. Look to the graphic above for your expectations, which two will you decide on for your home’s investment?

 

Written by: Jason Scheurer, Jason@BEST-Techs.org
OC & LA – (714) 330 – 4500 | VEN & SB – (805) 308 – 6392

“HOME ENERGY SCORE” What is it?

score_graphic

Imagine you went to buy a new car and one of your first questions to the salesperson is “what is the estimated miles per gallon (EPA)”?  The salesperson says “I don’t know?” You ask yourself, “Why should I buy this car if I don’t know what the EPA is?”  This is the common practice for buying homes, we do not know what the utilities will cost us each month, but it could be a utility guzzler! The point of the story is, we should all know how much this home will cost us to heat, cool and more importantly how safe is the inside air we breathe?

A Home Energy Score (HES) is a testing method used since its conception in 2010 by the Department of Energy (DOE) to rate homes on their perspective utility use. Shouldn’t you have all the facts about a home before you make the largest, most important investment most of us will ever make? You are told what the cost is, how much the property taxes are, and the interest rate you will pay. How about the monthly cost of utilities (gas, electricity, water) associated with living in this new home you want to purchase?

BEST-Techs Contracting believes in testing, measuring, and proving your homes overall energy performance, and making that home a comfortable and safe environment for all the occupants, which means you and your family! When thinking about a Home Energy Score, you will want to understand what is involved and how this will change your thoughts on upgrades for your home. Let’s start with a few, very important points to keep in mind.

  1. Provide homeowners and homebuyers knowledge of home energy efficiency and cost-effective improvements to reduce energy use and costs
  2. Encourage use of reliable, consistent home energy efficiency information in real estate transactions to inform decisions, and build a market value for comfortable, energy efficient homes
  3. Integrate the Home Energy Score into financing products to help drive the market for comfortable, energy efficient homes
  4. An energy efficiency score based on the home’s envelope (foundation, roof, walls, insulation, windows) and heating, cooling, and hot water systems
  5. A total energy use estimate, as well as estimates by fuel type assuming standard operating conditions and occupant behavior
  6. Recommendations for cost-effective improvements and associated annual cost savings estimates
  7. A “Score with Improvements” reflecting the home’s expected score if cost-effective improvements are implemented

 

*information provided courtesy of Department of Energy U.S.

https://betterbuildingssolutioncenter.energy.gov/home-energy-score/home-energy-score-about-score

Conclusion:

The Home Energy Score is a widely recognized and influential tool in the Real Estate market place that leads to an improved U.S. housing stock with better indoor air quality, energy performance, lower utility costs, and greater comfort as well as more efficient use of our natural resources.

It helps build market value for energy efficient Single-Family, Multi-Family and Townhomes that improve overall quality of life for the occupants.

California is a leader in many ways when thinking of Energy Efficiency, but there are many states that are leading the way when it comes to Real Estate and the purchasing a new home.  The great State of Oregon has passed a new law regarding the Home Energy Score and has now required new listings on single family residences to show their Home Energy Score.  To learn more about the Home Energy Score and how this will affect your potential buyer/seller of the property you are interested in, please visit the web sites below;

http://www.hpxmlonline.com/hpxml-datasets/bpi-2101/

https://energy.gov/eere/buildings/downloads/home-energy-information-accelerator

http://www.homeperformance.org/who-we-are/what-is-home-performance

https://betterbuildingssolutioncenter.energy.gov/home-energy-score

 

INSULATION, DO YOU NEED IT?

where_to_insulate

When you and your family are freezing, you call your Heating and Cooling Contractor right?

Wrong, you should first think about Energy Efficiency.

I know this sounds like the wrong call, but the construction industry has changed dramatically over the past 12 years, and here’s why. California has passed some of the strictest laws for Energy Efficiency, which is a very good thing for homeowner’s. Contractors of all different trades are now expected to voluntarily be re-trained in the latest technology to save our depleting energy resources. With more and more residential units being built every day, we must conserve and this is not just for the good of all concerned, but saves you in more ways than one. When you call your Energy Efficient General Contractor (714-330-4500), he/she is more than just a remodeler, they specialize in saving you money on utilities and delivering you the home of your dreams.

To determine whether you should add insulation, you first need to find out how much insulation you already have in your home and where it is. A certified home energy auditor will include an insulation check as a routine part of a whole-house energy assessment. An energy assessment, also known as a home energy audit, will also help identify areas of your home that are in need of air sealing. Before you insulate, you should make sure that your home is properly air sealed.

You may be freezing in your home because in most cases there is not enough insulation in your attic. Not to mention that old HVAC (heating unit) is not performing to its max capacity. A well-trained professional will be able to measure your insulation, HVAC unit and look at your Ducts in your attic to determine the efficiency of deliverance. In most cases, adding the proper insulation levels can make a world of difference and save you money! Now let’s take a closer look at the differences in insulation.

BLOWN IN CELLULOSE: Made from recycled material, primarily used newspapers. It provides and R-Value of 3.6 to 3.8 per inch. Manufacturers add the mineral borate, sometimes blended with the less costly ammonium sulfate, to ensure fire and insect resistance. Cellulose insulation typically requires no moisture barrier and, when installed at proper densities, cannot settle in a building cavity. Cellulose can be blown in attics and used for dense packing into wall cavities.

FIBERGLASS (BATTS): Made from extremely fine glass fibers. It’s commonly used in two different types of insulation: blanket (batts and rolls) and loose-fill and is also available as rigid boards and duct insulation. Manufacturers now produce medium- and high-density fiberglass batt insulation products that have slightly higher R-values than the standard batts. The denser products are intended for insulating areas with limited cavity space, such as cathedral ceilings. High-density batts for an 8.5-inch spaces yield about an R-30 value. R-38 batts for 12-inch spaces are also available.

COTTON: Cotton insulation consists of 85% recycled cotton and 15% plastic fibers that have been treated with borate — the same flame retardant and insect/rodent repellent used in cellulose insulation. One product uses recycled blue jean manufacturing trim waste. Because of its recycled content, this product uses minimal energy to manufacture. Cotton insulation is available in batts with an R-value of R-3.4 per inch. Cotton insulation is also nontoxic, and you can install it without using respiratory or skin exposure protection. However, cotton insulation costs about 15% to 20% more than fiberglass batt insulation.

POLYISOCYANURATE INSULATION MATERIALS (SPRAY FOAM): Polyisocyanurate insulation is available as a liquid, sprayed foam, and rigid foam board. It can also be made into laminated insulation panels with a variety of facings. Foamed-in-place applications of polyisocyanurate insulation are usually cheaper than installing foam boards, and perform better because the liquid foam molds itself to all the surfaces. Polyisocyanurate or polyiso is a thermosetting type of plastic, closed-cell foam that contains a low-conductivity, hydrochlorofluorocarbon-free gas in its cells. The high thermal resistance of the gas gives polyisocyanurate insulation materials an R-value ranging from R-5.6 to R-8 per inch.

For optimal energy efficiency, your home should be properly air sealed and insulated from the roof down to its foundation. In addition to insulation, consider moisture and air leakage control in each area of your house. If radon is an issue where you live, you’ll also need to consider radon and radon-resistant construction techniques as you research foundation insulation options. In addition, if you live in an area with termites, you’ll have to consider how termite protection will affect the choice and placement of insulation in your home.

In closing, the message is clear, call your local General Contractor specializing in Energy Efficiency to help you determine the proper work needed in your home. You may find that they save you money while making you more comfortable over the longevity of your homes life.

BEST Techs Contracting can help you with all your energy efficiency needs, Room Additions and Remodels.

Call 714-330-4500 or visit www.BEST-Techs.org today!
Information: https://energy.gov/energysaver/insulation-materials

Footnotes for Picture: U.S. Department of Energy

Types of Air Conditioners [INFOGRAPHIC]

The year-round heat in Southern California finds most Orange County homeowners running their AC units on a constant basis. Still, many don’t know how their air conditioners work. Contrary to what most people assume, air conditioners actually pull hot air out of the home instead of just blowing cool air in.

 

The Origins of Earth Day

Every year on April 22, we celebrate our planet. Earth Day is known around the world as the day to recycle, to learn about sustainability, and to do our part as individuals to save the earth. Environmental companies spread the “green” word, and there is no shortage of festivals and earth-savvy events. But unknown to many, Earth Day is a fairly new concept. This worldwide celebration derived from a Harvard Graduate student back in 1970, when the air was ripe with peace and love: the perfect recipe for planetary appreciation.

Earth Day began in the mind of Denis Hayes, a graduate student attending Harvard in 1970. That year, Senator Gaylord Nelson also had green on the mind, as he proposed an environmental teach-in on college campuses that April. Hayes, a devoted environmentalist himself, decided to fly to Washington, D.C. to meet with Senator Nelson for a 15 minute interview about organizing a similar environmental teach-in at Harvard. Turns out the interview lasted a couple of hours, the result being the creation of Earth Day on April 22, 1970. The first Earth Day had over 20 million participants. Even President Nixon could not ignore the giant impact of the first Earth Day, and in response he created the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency). Congress followed with the Clean Air act, the Clean Water Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act, the Endangered Species Act, and Marine Mammal Protection Act, and the Environmental Education Act, just to name a few. Today, 192 countries celebrate Earth Day every year. These two minds, one a Senator concerned with conservation and the other a devoted environmentalist, created a global phenomenon.

Hayes did not stop his pursuit of environmentalism with the creation of Earth Day. He continued to be a frontrunner in many environmental companies, finally being hired as the president of the Bullitt Foundation in 1992. The Bullitt foundation promotes responsible human activities and sustainable communities in the Pacific Northwest. True to the company morals, even the building in which the company resides is environmentally conscious. Built in Seattle in 2011, the Bullitt Center is the first office building in the world to achieve the Living Building Certification from the Living Building Challenge. Below are a few ways that showcases the building’s sustainability:

  • Triple-paned, argon-filled, heat-mirrored, and floor-to-ceiling windows eliminate the need for any artificial lights
  • Toilets use ½ cup of water mixed with biodegradable soap per flush
  • Waste is therefore clean and safe, and created into compost then sold through a local government program
  • Rain water is captured, purified, and stored
  • Solar panels on the roof create a self-contained energy source
  • Automated blinds are computer controlled, keeping heat from entering the building and therefore eliminates the need for air conditioning
  • There is no parking garage, so employees are encouraged to walk, ride a bike, or ride the bus.

 

With all these sustaining programs in place, the building uses 1/9 as much energy per square foot as the average building in Seattle, and 1/20 the amount of water per square foot as the average building in Seattle. The design life of the building is 250 years, the same average as many European buildings. However in the United States, modern buildings are not made to last as long, especially over 100 years.

And if an office building can rely solely on “net zero” energy and water, why can’t a home do the same? So for this Earth Day, get inspired by the accomplishments of Hayes and the Bullitt Center and take a step towards a greener life. It is easier than it looks, and in the long run, a green life can save renters and homeowners money as well as time.

BEST-Techs’ mission is to provide healthy homes that are sustainable for both you and the environment. They provide room additions, remodels for over 20 years but most importantly they provide Energy Efficient upgrades. BEST-Techs Contracting is a participating Energy Upgrade California Contractor.  We can test your home to help you lower energy, spend less money and have a big impact on the environment. Get rebates and incentives with the Energy Upgrade California Home Upgrade.

BEST-Techs encourages you to take simple steps towards a healthier home. Recycling is the easiest path to become less wasteful. To find out which items are recyclable, local utilities have information and free charts that can be posted in your home for an easy way to remember. Switching to LED light bulbs is also easy, and if you have extra money to spare buying Energy Star appliances will reduce energy usage and save you money in the long run.

Preserving National Parks

glacier

original image by NationalParks.org

Preserving National Parks

As the snow starts to melt, and the flowers begin to bloom, springtime becomes the best time to enjoy the outdoors. And what better way to enjoy the outdoors then to plan a trip to a national park? The natural wonders of America are available to anyone who wants to visit, and nature is usually abundant and untouched. Or so you thought.

 

With all the visitors, about 270 million each year, comes their combined 100 million pounds of trash*. And this is only for our national parks. Imagine the amount of trash we produce in our hometowns and cities!

 

Good thing sustainability has become better understood and more easily practiced. Transferring sustainability habits from our homes to the national parks is as easy as being more conscious of the environment. There are no extra steps involved to go green, contrary to belief. Being green ma actually be easier than not, and in the long run not only do you help save our country’s national parks, you also save yourself a little extra money in the process.

 

Below are a few tips* to take with you when traveling to any national park. Keep these in mind when you come home, as they can easily become sustainable practices in your daily life.

 

  • Bring reusable water bottles and coffee cups: Wash them out when needed; you eliminate unnecessary waste at the parks when you only need one cup for your entire trip.
  • Bring reusable bags for storage, carrying items, and for buying items at the parks: You will only throw away the plastic one once you are done with it, so why bother? Bring or buy a bag while at the park, which are usually more sturdy than plastic and can double as your souvenir.
  • Recycle waste in cities before or after visiting the parks: Dead batteries? Have a ripped tent? Did you drink plenty of soda or iced tea? Don’t drop them off at the nearest parks trashcan. Take them home with you, and recycle them.
  • Do not burn waste in campfires: this one is obvious, but once you burn food or trash in a fire, doesn’t mean it disappears. The toxins released by the waste float in the air and into your lungs. They are dangerous, and should not be inhaled by anyone, including the wildlife.
  • Use the air dryers in the restrooms: they are much more efficient at drying off your hands than a paper towel. And if the added few seconds are too much for you to handle, just remember that the monuments you came to the parks for will not go anywhere. Take your time and save waste by using air dryers. If none are available, go eau natural and wave your hands about until dry.
  • Support park composting: when done with your daily meals, throw the trash away (or better yet recycle) but separate the food for compost before throwing it in with the rest of the trash. Composting transforms organic waste into usable fertilizer. Giving back to nature just got easier.

 

The next time you visit a national park, respect the nature preserved for over a hundred years and do your part. These steps are not the only ways to help out, but are the basics to providing a more healthy and green-conscious environment.

*Statistics taken from National Geographic: Sustainable Steps for Parks Preservation

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2016/03/160329-subaru-sponsor-content-sustainable-steps-for-parks-preservation/

 

 

Article written by: Nicole Scheurer

PRESS RELEASE DECEMBER 16, 2015

stock-photo-73200621-woman-in-front-of-a-houseBEST-Techs at it again!

Wanted for eliminating discomfort issues with another satisfied customer

Garden Grove, CA, December 16, 2015– BEST-Techs helps solve home comfort issues

Home performance contracting is essential, especially when it comes to the comfort and safety of your family

In this announcement you will hear the story of a customer that is not unlike most home owners about their household complaints.

Linda has a very beautiful home but was always either freezing in the winter or roasting in the summer.  She also experienced cold-like symptoms while her furnace was running in the winter and while the air conditioner was running during the summer months.  She had finally had enough and read an informative flyer from BEST-Techs that intrigued her.  She was not quite sure if they could help her with these issues, other contractors had told her that there was nothing wrong with her heating and cooling systems.  So she couldn’t understand how she would solve this problem that seemed to nonexistent however, she called BEST-Techs and the rest is history!

Linda is not only completely comfortable and breathing freely now in her home, she is also enjoying lower utility bills.  Linda is a champion for Home Performance and how it can help homeowners everywhere.

To learn more about Linda and other stories like hers, please visit our website www.BEST-Techs.org or give us a call 714-330-4500.  We would love to send our Home Performance Expert to your home so we can take a look at how we might be able to help you.  And after that long day of work, you will finally have the perfect home environment to come back to.

I’ve always loved my home, but now I feel that it is the best place to come home to!

 

Press-release-home-performance.dotx2.docx (61 downloads)

Keep Warm with a Vented Fireplace

Autumn is almost over; the orange leaves are falling and the crisp air of winter is settling in. It is the season of cuddling with blankets and sipping hot cocoa by the fire to keep out the cold. But turning on the fireplace may cause more harm than good this holiday season. Making sure your home is equipped with, at the least, a vented fireplace will keep your family safe and warm this winter.

Let’s delve into the specifics of a vented fireplace. Vented fireplaces draw air from the outdoors for combustion into a sealed firebox. This sealed firebox assures high air quality for burning in a gas fireplace. Then, the exhaust expels the combustion products through a separate vent into the outdoors. The result is a heated room that keeps warm air in and cold air out.

from mendotahearth.com

from mendotahearth.com

Ventless fireplaces, however, obviously do not have a venting system. To tell the difference, put your head into your fireplace when it is turned off and look up. If there is a hole, you have a vented fireplace. If there is no hole, but instead a covering of some kind, you happen to have a ventless fireplace. Despite being covered, and seemingly able to contain the warm air a fireplace produces, ventless fireplaces produce and trap large quantities of water vapor in your home. Ventless fireplaces also trap the dangerous fumes produced by burning gas or wood, and although ventless fireplaces may be “sealed” in order to contain the fumes, keeping the fumes in one area inside the house may pose risks. There have been several reports by homeowners who have ventless fireplaces that complain of headaches and other health-related issues.

Now that we’ve decided that a vented fireplace is better for your home than a ventless, it is time to discuss the types of fuel to burn in your fireplace. Although most BPI consultants agree that fireplaces in general create drafty, energy-deficient homes, if you happen to have a fireplace in your home the next best option is to burn gas over wood. Gas fireplaces, for the most part, burn cleanly and are safer to use than wood fireplaces. They also keep a room warm, while wood burning fireplaces emit harmful smoke into your home, even with a vented system. Go ahead and enjoy your fireplace this holiday season. Hopefully now you will enjoy it even more with the understanding of which fireplace is best for your home and health.

 

Resources:

“A Ventless Gas Fireplace Doesn’t Belong in Your Home” from greenbuildingadvisor.com

“Venting Options” from mendotahearth.com

The Silent Killer

There is a killer hiding in the crevices of your home. You cannot see this killer, you cannot touch it, nor smell it. This killer can strike anybody at any time, and you would not know it until it is too late. The killer is carbon monoxide, and it may be lurking in your home.

Carbon monoxide, or CO, is a poisonous gas produced by the incomplete burning of fuels like propane, wood, and natural gas. In a home, consumer products like furnaces, ranges, water heaters and room heaters that run on fuel may malfunction, producing deadly amounts of CO. Engine-powered equipment like portable generators, fireplaces, and charcoal burned in enclosed spaces can also produce CO.

Most homeowners do not know when CO slowly poisons them; they may believe their appliances work fine without proper maintenance and home auditing, or they rely on their CO alarms to warn them of leaks. A homeowner can also assume they have the flu, but which may in fact be the initial symptoms of CO poisoning. However, if exposed to high levels of CO, a person can experience mental confusion, vomiting, loss of muscular coordination, loss of consciousness, and ultimately death. The mistake of believing CO poisoning symptoms for the flu are easy to make, even by physicians. And because common household appliances can malfunction and produce CO, it is important to make sure houses are installed with quality CO alarms, and to have a BPI certified consultant to home audit. To prevent CO poisoning, the following is recommended by the Consumer Product Safety Commission:

  • Make sure appliances are installed and operated according to the manufacturer’s instructions and local building codes. Most appliances should be installed by qualified professionals. Have the heating system professionally inspected and serviced annually to ensure proper operation. The inspector should also check chimneys and flues for blockages, corrosion, partial and complete disconnections, and loose connections.
  • Never service fuel-burning appliances without proper knowledge, skill and tools. Always refer to the owners manual when performing minor adjustments or servicing fuel-burning equipment.
  • Never operate a portable generator or any other gasoline engine-powered tool either in or near an enclosed space such as a garage, house, or other building. Even with open doors and windows, these spaces can trap CO and allow it to quickly build to lethal levels.
  • Install a CO alarm that meets the requirements of the current UL 2034 safety standard. A CO alarm can provide some added protection, but it is no substitute for proper use and upkeep of appliances that can produce CO. Install a CO alarm in the hallway near every separate sleeping area of the home. Make sure the alarm cannot be covered up by furniture or draperies.
  • Never use portable fuel-burning camping equipment inside a home, garage, vehicle or tent unless it is specifically designed for use in an enclosed space and provides instructions for safe use in an enclosed area.
  • Never burn charcoal inside a home, garage, vehicle, or tent.
  • Never leave a car running in an attached garage, even with the garage door open.
  • Never use gas appliances such as ranges, ovens, or clothes dryers to heat your home.
  • Never operate unvented fuel-burning appliances in any room where people are sleeping.
  • Do not cover the bottom of natural gas or propane ovens with aluminum foil. Doing so blocks the combustion air flow through the appliance and can produce CO.
  • During home renovations, ensure that appliance vents and chimneys are not blocked by tarps or debris. Make sure appliances are in proper working order when renovations are complete.

Although appliances may emit CO, there is a certain threshold of exposure before a person’s health becomes jeopardized. And not all people will experience the same symptoms at the same CO levels; the effects of the poison depend on CO concentration, exposure length, and the individual’s health condition. CO concentration is measured in parts per million (ppm), and most people will not experience any symptoms from prolonged exposure in approximately 1 to 70 ppm. Any CO concentration above 70 ppm, however, sympotoms are more noticeable, and above 150 to 200 ppm, severe symptoms and death are possible. A reliable CO alarm will prevent any high concentrations of CO going unnoticed. Testing CO alarms are smart, especially when these alarms have a replacement age in order to operate correctly. Refer to the alarm’s manufacturer instructions for questions and testing guides.

Besides a CO alarm, BPI certified consultants are an important resource to keep a home safe. They home audit, or inspect a home for any malfunctioning aspects that can place a homeowner’s health and safety in harm’s way. While an alarm can tell if CO is already in a home, a BPI consultant can find the source of the CO and find a way to replace or mend the malfunctioning appliance. These are the best ways to keep a home free from CO, and your health free from a deadly poison.

For more information, visit: http://www.cpsc.gov/en/Safety-Education/Safety-Education-Centers/Carbon-Monoxide-Information-Center/Carbon-Monoxide-Questions-and-Answers-/