Julie A Carda

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Location: United States

Julie graduated from Creighton University with a major in dance and Theology and taught for several years at an inner-city school in Milwaukee. With a desire to expand her knowledge of the arts and spirituality, she attended St. John’s University in Collegeville and completed a Masters in Theology and Liturgical Studies. Over the years, her quest to merge diverse religious beliefs and practices through the commonalities of love and peaceful living, led her to travel, live, and study with shaman practitioners, herbal healers, Native American medicine women, Buddhist priests and other earth-based spiritual teachers. Through these experiences and experiences with global metaphysical teachings, she learned to honor the eternal source of love in all people.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Cash for Caulkers

During my month of exploration around energy retrofit, I've read many support solutions to motivate homeowners, the economy and substantially reduce the carbon footprint. I found these articles thought provoking. Once again, affirmation about possibilities surfaces. There are so many gifted thinkers and doers among us. In this year of change 2010, I'm eager to see the human creativity flourish--a renaissance of sorts really. When I go out to search and read about energy solutions, there are often comments negating the possibility of the proposed change. I am drawn in by the magnitude of think tank talent. The creators of solutions need to run full steam ahead. The mullers and thinkers need to contemplate outcomes. Between the two places is a powerful solution. I'm excited to live in such a time of stimulating personal and spiritual growth.

Cash for Caulkers

Friday, January 29, 2010

Attic Ventilation

Photo above shows in the distance a louvered open ventilation on the east side of attic wall. The photo following shows one of the small round roof ventilation holes. There are three of these small cut holes. No matter what we've used over the years as a deterrent, birds still get to the mesh and plug these with nests or by making a roost. If possible, we will examine the cost of closing these off and creating a roof ridge vent. We definitely need better and consistent ventilation as we seal the house.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Attic Sealing Project One

The attached garage in my house has an attic space that meets an upper floor bedroom. The bedroom closet contains a small door to access the garage attic. From inside the attic facing the bedroom wall, the photo shows incomplete insulation work.

The auditors also discovered that there is a hollow open space between the kitchen ceiling and upper bedroom floor where the cold air can freely flow from the garage attic. The photo makes it look as though the area between floors is sealed using the blown yellow insulation but there is actually a gap several inches deep where there is no insulation or covering. For this area the auditor has recommended blowing in insulation then sealing off with expanding foam and insulation board.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Weatherization Works

Spread the Word

Weatherization Public Information Campaign

Weatherization has an important story to tell. Weatherization Works! Every day, Weatherization helps low-income families conserve energy, save money, and improve their living conditions. Weatherization measures even save lives. Combined savings for energy and non-energy benefits in 2008 show Weatherization returns at $2.72 for every $1 invested. Weatherization is the nation's "best kept secret" for residential energy conservation. Well, it's time to let that secret out!

WAP's Public Information Campaign (PIC) raises awareness of the Weatherization Program and its numerous benefits. NASCSP, NCAF, DOE, Simonson Management Services, state and local Weatherization offices, and other stakeholders are working together to develop PIC materials and resources.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Part Three Avoiding Moisture Problems

Avoiding Moisture Problems

By: Bill Van der Meer

Weatherization practitioners should never perform
shell measures on a home if they have prior
knowledge of a moisture problem or have good
reason to think that one may develop. The
homeowner must also play an active role in

An important part of any education
package should be to make clients aware of potential
problems that may occur if they introduce high
moisture sources into their newly retrofitted home.

Having an understanding of moisture dynamics in
houses, solid documentation, and a strong education
package will demonstrate responsible behavior on
the part of the agency and assure health and safety
for our clients.

For the complete article and pictures click on the above link.
This information is critical as you consider how to seal the attic space
in your home.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Part Two Avoiding Moisture Problems

Avoiding Moisture Problems

By: Bill Van der Meer

If a forced air system is present, use a manometer to
check for pressure differences between spaces in the
home and provide solutions if necessary. Agencies
have the ability and health and safety funds to
provide continuous mechanical ventilation and to a
reasonable extent manage bulk water problems.

Above all, an agency needs to know when to walk
away. They may not necessarily avoid liability
simply through a verbal agreement or sign off. As
building professionals, auditors and field technicians
should never encourage or allow a client to waive
health and safety in exchange for an energy
conservation measure.

If a client refuses a
recommended health and safety measure, such as
continuous mechanical ventilation, shell measures
should not be performed.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Part One Avoiding Moisture Problems

Avoiding Moisture Problems

By: Bill Van der Meer

Auditors need to apply their knowledge of building

science and use diagnostic tools to anticipate

problems. Field technicians need to be empowered

to apply the proper materials correctly.

Since many of the moisture problems in the Northeastern US

tend to appear in attics during the winter, it is vital

that insulation is combined with meticulous attic air

sealing. The insulation is not the problem and attic

ventilation is not necessarily the solution. While a

certain amount of attic ventilation is required,

additional venting may make a moisture problem

worse. Dense cold air may enter the vents and cool

the attic surfaces below the dew point of the indoor


If the thermal boundary between attic and living

space is not adequately sealed, roof vents may even

contribute to greater stack effect.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Ice Dams Do's and Don'ts

Other Options for Ice Dams by Paul Fisette

Sometimes it is not feasible to treat the cause of the house's problems, and you must treat the symptoms. Steeply pitched metal roofs (common in snow country) in a sense thumb their noses at ice dams. They are slippery enough to shed snow before it causes an ice problem. However, metal roofs are expensive and they are no substitute for adequate levels of insulation.

Self-sticking rubberized sheets can go under roof shingles wherever water could pond against an ice dam: above the eaves, around chimneys, in valleys, around skylights, and around vent stacks. If water leaks through the roof covering, the waterproof underlayment provides a second line of defense.

Sheet-metal ice belts can help, if a shiny 2-ft-wide metal strip along the edge of the roof is acceptable. Ice or snow belts are used for some patch-and-fix jobs on existing houses. The flashing, installed at the eaves, imitates metal roofing by shedding snow and ice before it causes a problem. It works-sometimes. The problem with ice belts is that a secondary ice dam often develops on the roof just above the top edge of the metal strip.

Placing electric heat tape in a zigzag arrangement on the shingles above the edge of the roof is a poor solution. I have never seen electrically heated cable actually fix an ice dam problem. The considerable amount of electricity it takes to prevent ice formation is expensive, and the heating must be done in anticipation of ice dam conditions, not afterwards. Over time, heat tape embrittles shingles, creating a fire risk. It's expensive to install, too, and water can leak through the cable fasteners. Often the cables create ice dams just above them. Don't waste time or money on this retrofit.

The worst of all solutions is shoveling snow and chipping ice from the edge of a roof. People attack mounds of snow and roof ice with hammers, shovels, ice picks, homemade snow rakes, crowbars, and chain saws! The theory is obvious. No snow or ice, no leaking water. Unfortunately, this method threatens life, limb, and roof.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Ice Dam Solutions

Solving the Problem by Paul Fisette

Check the home carefully when ice dams form. Investigate the attic, even when there doesn't appear to be a leak. Look at the underside of the roof sheathing and roof trim to make sure they haven't gotten wet. Check the insulation for dampness. And when leaks inside the home develop, be prepared. Water penetration pathways are often difficult to follow. Don't just patch the roof leak. Make sure that the roof sheathing hasn't rotted and that other less obvious problems in the ceiling or walls haven't developed. Detail a comprehensive plan to fix the damage. But more importantly, solve the problem that caused the ice dams to form.

You can try to block the flow of melt water into a house by installing a rubber membrane on the roof under the roof shingles. Or you can craft a real solution: keep the entire roof cold, and save energy dollars in the process! In most homes this means: block all air leaks leading to the attic from the house, increase the thickness of insulation on the attic floor, and install a continuous soffit and ridge vent system. Be sure the air and insulation barrier you create is continuous.

Heat loss is often worst just above the top plate, the continuous horizontal framing where exterior walls and ceilings are joined. This is partly because there isn't room in the corner for adequate insulation. Also, builders are not particularly fussy about air sealing to prevent the movement of warm air up to the underside of the roof surface. Air can leak through wire and plumbing penetrations here, or can come from wall cavities, passing between the small cracks between the top plate and the drywall.

New houses should include plenty of ceiling insulation, a continuous air barrier separating the living space from the underside of the roof, and an effective roof ventilation system. In both new and retrofitted buildings, insulation should be up to local standards. In the northern United States, this is usually at least R-38. A soffit-to-ridge ventilation system is the most effective ventilation scheme for cooling roof sheathing (see "Roofing and Siding Rehabs Get an Energy Fix," p. 25). Power vents, turbines, roof vents, and gable louvers just aren't as good. Both the baffles on the ridge vent and the sun warming up the roof help drive the air flow out of the ridge vent. Air coming in the soffit washes the underside of the roof sheathing with a continuous flow of cold air.

Insulation retards conductive heat loss, but a special effort must be made to seal warm indoor air inside. In new construction, avoid making penetrations through the ceiling whenever possible. When you can't avoid making penetrations, or when air tightening existing homes, use urethane spray foam (in a can), caulk, packed cellulose, or weatherstripping to seal all ceiling leaks.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Ice Dam Potential Damage

The Havoc Ice Dams Wreak by Paul Fisette

Contrary to popular belief, gutters do not cause ice dams. However, gutters do help to concentrate ice and water at the very vulnerable roof eaves area. As gutters fill with ice, they often bend and rip away from the house, bringing fascia, fasteners, and downspouts in tow.

Roof leaks wet attic insulation. In the short term, wet insulation doesn't work well. Over the long term, water-soaked insulation remains compressed, so that even after it dries, the insulation in the ceiling is not as thick. The lower R-values become part of a vicious cycle: heat loss-ice dams-leaks-insulation damage-more heat loss! Cellulose insulation is particularly vulnerable to the hazards of wetting.

Water often leaks down within the wall frame, where it wets wall insulation and causes it to sag, leaving uninsulated voids at the top of the wall. Again, energy dollars disappear, but more importantly, moisture gets trapped within the wall cavity between the exterior plywood sheathing and the interior vapor barrier, causing smelly, rotting wall cavities. Structural framing members can decay. Metal fasteners may corrode. Mold and mildew can form on wall surfaces as a result of elevated humidity levels. Both exterior and interior paint blister and peel. And people with allergies suffer.

Peeling wall paint deserves special attention because its cause may be difficult to recognize. It is unlikely that wall paint will blister or peel when ice dams are visible. Paint peels long after the ice and the roof leak itself have disappeared. Water from the leak infiltrates wall cavities. It dampens building materials and raises the relative humidity within wall frames. The moisture within the wall cavity eventually wets interior wall coverings and exterior claddings as it tries to escape (as either liquid or vapor). As a result, interior and exterior walls shed their skin of paint.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Ice Dam Cause

Segment One of Home Energy Magazine's Article on ice dams.

nyone who has lived in a snowy climate has seen ice dams. Thick bands of ice form along the eaves of homes, causing millions of dollars of structural damage every year. Water-stained ceilings, dislodged roof shingles, sagging gutters, peeling paint, and damaged plaster are familiar results of ice dams.

Ice dams are not the disease, but rather a symptom of a home's energy sickness. The cure is energy conservation: keep heat from leaking into the attic from the house.

Ice dams need three things to form: snow, heat to melt the snow, and cold to refreeze the melted snow into solid ice. As little as 1 or 2 inches of snow accumulation on a roof can cause ice dams to form. Snow on the upper part of the roof melts, runs down the roof under the blanket of snow to the roof's edge, and refreezes into a dam of ice. As more snowmelt runs down the roof, it pools against the ice dam. Eventually, water backs up under the shingles and leaks into the structure.

The reason ice dams form along the roof's edge, usually above the overhang, is straightforward. Heat and warm air leaking from living space below melts the snow, which trickles down to the colder edge of the roof (above the eaves) and refreezes. Every inch of snow that accumulates on the roof insulates the roof deck a little more (about R-1 per inch), keeping more heat from the living space in, which further heats the roof deck. Frigid outdoor temperatures ensure a fast and deep freeze at the eaves. The worst ice dams usually occur when a deep snow is followed by very cold weather.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Caulk Be Gone

Yes, there really is a product for everything it seems. I used this product on my HUGE caulk mistake. It softened the caulk so that about three quarters of it, I could pull away. The rest I picked at very slooooowly with the tip of a paring knife.

The green goo from the caulk be gone tube wipes up with a wet cloth. Not easily but it does wipe off. For those who want to know, the chemical took a thin layer of the wood finish but isn't noticeable unless you are up really close--like standing on a chair peering at the ceiling.

You can bet I'll be checking twice or even three times before I apply caulk to just any surface. Maybe they should label these products like they label products used to clean stains from clothes. Test on a small discrete area first...

Monday, January 18, 2010

Caulk Error!

HUGE mistake! Everyone----clear caulk goes on white and dries clear. A few days ago, I ran out of caulk and stopped to pick up more. I grabbed the caulk from the bin at the store that said clear. An hour later I went to work sealing off the leaks in the upper part of the family room. The next day I went in and sat to have a phone conversation. I looked up to see the caulk hadn't dried clear. I ran to check the canister. White! Since both white and clear caulk are white when applied, I didn't have a clue I'd used the wrong type. And duh, I hadn't taken the time to cross check the canister with the bin. Good grief. How to get this off?

Sunday, January 17, 2010

PACE: Money For Home Stewardship

Have you wanted to do the right thing for your home but considered the price prohibitive? Here is an opportunity to have your voice heard. Get your local governments on board with this program now. The program isn't financially perfect, but it's a huge step to making profound changes in energy consumption while supporting the economy by creating local green jobs.

A PACE bond is a bond where the proceeds are lent to commercial and residential property owners to finance energy retrofits (efficiency measures and small renewable energy systems) and who then repay their loans over 20 years via an annual assessment on their property tax bill. PACE bonds can be issued by municipal financing districts or finance companies and the proceeds can be typically used to retrofit both commercial and residential properties.

The PACE bond market, in combination with federal loan guarantees, has the potential to dramatically accelerate the energy retrofitting of America's building stock due to the below advantages. It is estimated that the potential for PACE bonds could exceed $500 billion.

PACE Impact: Property tax lien oriented financing that dramatically improves the economics of energy retrofits (efficiency measures and micro renewable energy)

To see who supports PACE please click on our PACE Legislation Endorser List.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Again the Duct Work

In houses with forced-air heating and cooling systems, ducts are used to distribute conditioned air throughout the house. In a typical house, however, about 20 percent of the air that moves through the duct system is lost due to leaks and poorly sealed connections. The result is higher utility bills and difficulty keeping the house comfortable, no matter how the thermostat is set.
Because some ducts are concealed in walls and between floors, repairing them can be difficult.

However, exposed ducts in attics, basements, crawlspaces, and garages can be repaired by sealing the leaks with duct sealant (also called duct mastic). In addition, insulating ducts that run through spaces that get hot in summer or cold in winter (like attics, garages, or crawlspaces) can save significant energy.

Additionally, if you are replacing your forced-air heating and cooling equipment, make sure your contractor installs the new system according to ENERGY STAR quality installation guidelines. A quality installation will include a thorough inspection of your duct system, including proper sealing and balancing of ductwork, to help ensure that your new system delivers the most comfort and efficiency.

Learn more about improving your ducts.

Friday, January 15, 2010

A Birth Day Blessing Poem

Sixteen years how they fly,

from infant to teen in the blink of an eye.

The babe I held not so long ago,

has continued to grow and grow and grow.

From a mere twenty inches to six feet tall,

he reminds me of a mosaic wall.

A smidge of me here, a splash of dad there,

a dash of the ancestors sprinkled in for the flair.

In the swirl of stardust he took form,

and agreed on earth he’d transform.

He graced the world with his light,

born that memorable January fifteenth night.

Insulation 101

Insulation keeps your home warm in the winter and cool in the summer. There are several common types of insulation — fiberglass (in both batt and blown forms), cellulose, rigid foam board, and spray foam. Reflective insulation (or radiant barrier) is another insulating product which can help save energy in hot, sunny climates.

When correctly installed with air sealing, each type of insulation can deliver comfort and lower energy bills during the hottest and coldest times of the year.

Insulation performance is measured by R-value — its ability to resist heat flow. Higher R-values mean more insulating power. Different R-values are recommended for walls, attics, basements and crawlspaces, depending on your area of the country. Insulation works best when air is not moving through or around it. So it is very important to seal air leaks before installing insulation to ensure that you get the best performance from the insulation.

To get the biggest savings, the easiest place to add insulation is usually in the attic. A quick way to see if you need more insulation is to look across your uncovered attic floor. If your insulation is level with or below the attic floor joists, you probably need to add more insulation. The recommended insulation level for most attics is R-38 (or about 12–15 inches, depending on the insulation type). In the coldest climates, insulating up to R-49 is recommended.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Measure the Air Seal

Homeowners are often concerned about sealing their house too tightly; however, this is very unlikely in most older homes. A certain amount of fresh air is needed for good indoor air quality and there are specifications that set the minimum amount of fresh air needed for a house. If you are concerned about how tight your home is, hire a contractor, such as a Home Energy Rater, who can use diagnostic tools to measure your home's actual leakage. If your home is too tight, a fresh air ventilation system may be recommended.

After any home sealing project, have a heating and cooling technician check to make sure that your combustion appliances (gas- or oil-fired furnace, water heater, and dryer) are venting properly. For additional information on Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) issues related to homes, such as combustion safety, visit EPA’s Indoor Air Quality Web site.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Creating an Envelope

Sealing and insulating the "envelope" or "shell" of your home — its outer walls, ceiling, windows, doors, and floors — is often the most cost effective way to improve energy efficiency and comfort. ENERGY STAR estimates that a knowledgeable homeowner or skilled contractor can save up to 20% on heating and cooling costs (or up to 10% on their total annual energy bill) by sealing and insulating.

To Seal and Insulate with ENERGY STAR:

  • Seal air leaks throughout the home to stop drafts,
  • Add insulation to block heat loss in winter and heat gain in summer,
  • Choose ENERGY STAR qualified windows when replacing windows.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Seal the Heat Duct Work

Follow the point of the screwdriver. I removed the floor heating vent and exposed the duct work below. I'm pointing to the gap where air from the furnace can escape. I can fill this with expanding foam or clear caulk. My preference is the caulk in this instance. The gap isn't huge but I don't want to run the risk of getting any excess on the carpet or have it show through the white floor vent.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Trim Covers Imperfections

I tried to capture in this photo the crown molding in this room. The trim covers the imperfections of the drywall. Behind the trim, the drywall does not quite meet. At this joint air from the attic chases can find an outlet. My job is to use a clear caulk and seal around the ceiling trim and wall trim (upper area and lower area).

Sunday, January 10, 2010

How the Pro's Weatherize

This book was given to me on the first day of the energy audit. I've been checking out various sections. These DIY books always intrigue me. I can totally see myself doing the work, until I actually start the work, then I have a ton of questions not covered in the material. Go figure!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

One Last CFL

After the final household inventory, I discovered that the chicken condo had a standard small floodlight bulb. Since I run this 24/7 in the cold weather, I quickly made a swap. And I do mean quickly. The subzero temps and three curious hens huddled to observe the switch over makes one work rapidly. The bulb is running mostly for heat. Some light comes in through the Plexiglas door.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Follow the Star

Look for the Energy Star label on all products. Pay the extra. Consumers have control. Let manufacturers know you want nothing less than the best for our planet. You will recoup the costs and contribute to the reduction of greenhouse gases.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Programmable Thermostats

Programmable Thermostats are a must have! These can save a bundle in fuels costs and reduce carbon footprint. Our house already had these installed. My auditors said there are DYS kits available.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

CO Warning

It occurred to me that some of you might ask about the healthy aspect of an air tight house. I'll go into more detail as my auditors work with me on health safety corrections. For now, I'd recommend a simple safety device every house should have. A carbon monoxide, CO detector. I have one on each floor. I already have the two shown below. If you need to purchase one, Mark, our energy auditor, recommended the Kidde KN-COPP-3.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Ready, Set, Caulk!

Apparently, the caulk gun is the tool of choice for correcting common leaks in the areas that require cosmetic care. These are the areas around windows, doors, fireplaces, trim work, paneling...basically anywhere you have two joints meet.

During the audit, I learned that trim is used to cover the imperfection in drywall and other joints. The imperfections let a lot of air flow in, under, and through. In the winter, you can find these easily by wetting your hand and moving it along the trim areas.

Mark and Jon, my energy rating experts, recommend using a clear caulk in these areas so that I did't need to do any touch up painting. They demonstrated the technique so that I wouldn't have areas with an unsightly glob. They also recommended a water clean up variety.

Oh, yes. The technique...

Wrong way!
Right way! Thumb on stop flow tab.

Get familiar with the metallic stop flow tab on the caulk gun. Cut the tip of the caulk applicator on a 45 degree slant as small as possible, if necessary increase tip opening in very small increments. Work at eye level--so have a stool nearby. Do not slant the caulk tip, as is shown in the first photo, but keep it pointed directly into surface and drag at an even speed. This allows enough caulk to fill in any wide gaps. Have a wipe cloth handy. Prepare for many squats and stretches.


Monday, January 4, 2010

Simplest Energy Loss Correction

I purchased several packages of these foam insulators and started working my way through the house removing electrical plate covers and putting these foam insulators behind the plate, then screwing the plate back on.

The final correction is to plug all unused sockets with these simple plastic toddler outlet protectors. This is a job I can do a little at a time. Even when I'm on the phone, I can walk around with my screwdriver and package and work on outlets.

Quick. Easy. Cheap. So simple and it yet it adds up to big savings in energy and gives me a positive action in lowering my carbon footprint.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Cold Air Return to Nowhere

Our first large project was to seal the cold air returns in our unfinished basement. Around each return, we applied the expandable caulk called "Great Stuff". Because we'll have so much of this type of sealing to do throughout the house, we invested in a commercial dispenser. The dispenser runs about $50 and the can of product about $10. By using the dispenser, we can control the application much easier and have less waste. The product doesn't have a lingering smell or out-gasing. It gets tacky, and then dries pretty within the hour or less.

As we worked our way across our unfinished basement, we discovered a few cold air returns left open from the floor above that didn't go into an actual return duct. Mark Loscutoff, our certified home energy rater, worked along with us to determined these had just been left open after a previous owner had done a remodel of the rooms above.

To solve this energy leak, we filled in the open spaces using Thermopan, which is a foil wrapped cardboard, the adhesive Great Stuff, and staples.

The basement area will have much more work, like special wall insulation for unfinished spaces, but we must wait for warmer temperatures.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Energy Retro-Fit Process

During the month of January, I'll be focusing my awareness inside. Inside my home that is. Like many urban dwellings, mine is in need of attention from the energy stewardship perspective. Since many people believe the changes are too costly or difficult, I've decided to investigate and share some of my process. As with many in these uncertain times, I lack the funds and physical ability to do certain aspects of a retrofit. When I get to these aspects of the project, I'll discuss some of the options I chose.

The initial step is do a home energy audit and rating. Where I live, this process is handled by an independent business operator who is registered as compliant with the most current federal guidelines. Although I'm motivated by the stewardship aspect of energy retrofit there is also the savings aspect in tax credits.

The person I contacted runs a company called
Health & Energy Company. His name is Jon Traudt. He and his associate, Mark Loscutoff, spent eight hours in my home. Using very specialized equipment, they moved from basement to attic finding every leak and temperature variance. Pictured below is the blower door used to change household pressure to find leaks.
A few days later, Mark returned and spent another half day, measuring the energy lost in the duct work.

Between the audit and the rating, they created a list of corrections and submitted paperwork to a quality assurance company. The list prioritizes the corrections. Mark, whose background is in mechanical engineering, does all kinds of retrofit problem solving. Jon, is the mastermind behind creative funding. Together, they will come up with solutions to bring my home into the 85-100% energy star rating.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy 2010