Dirty Grid

Nobody likes having to replace expensive yet necessary appliances such as your refrigerator, oven, washer, dryer, etc.There is something you can do to further the lifespan of these appliances by protecting it from what is called a “dirty grid”. A “dirty grid” is a moniker for an energy grid that consistently delivers small yet damaging energy spikes and dips. A “dirty grid” may exist in areas with oversized or outdated power lines and transformers.Your major appliances may be at risk from constant voltage spikes and dips which will eventually shorten their lifespan. A power conditioner can be used to protect your most valuable appliances from constant voltage spikes and dips.Power conditioners constantly adjust the electricity coming in so that it is optimal for your appliances.By taking advantage of power conditioners you can limit having to replace your ever-valuable appliances. More Info

Informational Links

Jon Sader’s White Paper on Dirty Grid


Smart Thermostat

Americans see over 40% of energy consumption get expended by either heating or cooling their homes. Part of the reason people are seeing such high energy bills is because their home’s furnace or air conditioning is running constantly to keep up with the demand for optimal temperatures. However, you can reduce your energy bills significantly by taking advantage of your home’s demand for heating or air conditioning. By altering your thermostat appropriately, you may be able to save hundreds of dollars annually on your energy bills.

More Info

Informational Links

Information on the smart thermostat used in Knowledge Is Power

Is A Smart Thermostat Right For You?

Jon Sader’s White Paper on Smart Thermostat

How to Talk With Your Contractor

Hiring, managing, and communicating with a contractor may seem like a daunting task, but only if you allow it to be. Unfortunately, there are many contractors out there that tend to be unscrupulous and will often suggest expensive projects that are not necessary for your home. You may be able to thwart this and other common contractor issues by finding the right contractor for you. Also, having a general understanding of certain home construction projects will pay off dividends and may prevent issues for you in the future.
Finding an honest, hardworking, and quality oriented contractor can be a difficult undertaking. However, there are many ways to find them. They are:

  • Only use contractors that come highly recommended
  • Ask your friends and neighbors who they have had positive experiences with in the past
  • If all else fails, you can use trusted online ratings and reviews.

Jon Sader’s White Paper on How to Talk With Your Contractor


MERV Air Filters & Indoor Air Quality

The most important thing to know about an air filter, other than its size, is its Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value rating, or simply MERV.  The higher a filter’s MERV rating, the smaller the particles that will be removed from air circulation.   MERV ratings are between 1-20.

  • MERV 1-4
    • Will prevent circulation of: pollen, dust mites, sanding dust etc.
    • Typically used in window air conditioning units
  • MERV 5-8
    • Will prevent circulation of: mold, spores, pet dander, etc.
    • Very common in homes and commercial buildings
  • MERV 9-12
    • Will prevent auto emissions, lead dust, welding fumes, etc.
    • A very good residential and commercial air filter
  • MERV 13+
    • Will prevent all bacteria, tobacco smoke, paint pigments, etc.
    • Will keep the air quality nearly pristine
    • Can be used in homes but it is more common in hospitals and surgery areas


Poor indoor air quality inside the home can cause or aggravate health problems, especially in children and the elderly.  Indoor air quality problems are caused by products that off-gas VOC’s and other contaminants into the home, as well as dust and particles such as pet dander or pollens that become airborne.  If you have a home with a central air conditioning system, chances are you can reduce some of these airborne contaminants by better understanding the differences between existing air filters on the market.   Three things are important to remember about improving indoor air quality:

  1. Remove sources of airborne contaminants by choosing products that don’t off-gas harmful chemicals.
  2. Making sure that fresh air is exchanged in the house, helping to dilute contaminants and carrying pollutants out of the house.
  3. Use high quality air filters on your HVAC system, and change them out as recommended.

More Info

Informational Links

Jon Sader’s White Paper on MERV Air Filters & Indoor Air Quality

United States Environmental Protection Agency – Indoor Air Quality

Guide to Air Cleaners In The Home

Understanding MERV Ratings



Vampire Power vs Energy Efficiency

Energy-efficiency is more than a buzzword, it is a combination of practices and the use of products that use a minimal amount of energy to complete a task.  Unfortunately, no matter how energy-efficient the appliance or device, if it is plugged into an electrical outlet, it may be costing a homeowner money.

This wasted energy is technically called “standby power” but is commonly referred to as “vampire electricity”.

According to numerous studies, vampire electricity accounts up to 10% of all the energy consumed within the household. Based on these calculations in 2011, the amount of energy wasted by vampire electricity in the United States was higher than the total energy consumption of both Greece & Switzerland combined[1]. Many appliances and devices are notorious for vampire electricity. These devices include:

  • Cellphone chargers
  • Handheld video game chargers
  • Laptop chargers
  • AC Adapters ( anything that charges a battery)
  • Televisions
  • VCSs/DVD players/Cable Boxes
  • Video Game Consoles
  • Kitchen appliances (toasters, coffee markers, etc.)
  • Computers
  • Cordless telephones
  • Any device that can be woken up by a remote control

More Info

Informational Links

Jon Sader’s White Paper on Vampire Electricity

Energy Star’s site that describes Standby Power and Energy Vampires.

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s site on identifying and reducing Standby Power

A PC WORLD article from 2008 that provides information on how to “save a few hundred bucks a year by unplugging electronics that aren’t in use”

[1] CIA World Fact Book

Hurricane Fabric

Protecting your home from hurricanes should be a major priority when conducting home improvements. The home’s building envelope can be very fragile during a hurricane and may lead to significant damage if a window or door is broken. If one small window in the home breaks during a hurricane, your home will be susceptible to flood and wind damage. Taping windows and doors won’t stop a projectile and installing plywood should only be used as a last resort. Using hurricane fabric is the best option for protecting the openings of your home. Because hurricane fabric is made out of a material similar to those used on trampolines, it will be able to deflect projectiles from your windows and doors better than plywood and will still be able to prevent the wind and rain from entering your home. Its best characteristic is that it is very easy to install and you do not necessarily need to hire a contractor making it a much more cost-effective option than hurricane shutters. Save yourself money and a potential disaster to your home by investing in hurricane fabric this season. More Info

Informational Links:

Jon Sader’s White Paper on Hurricane Fabric

City of New Orleans Hurricane Readiness Guide – NOLA Ready

Video on how hurricane fabric compares to plywood, metal and other materials.

LSU’s Preparing for a Hurricane Guide

Risk and Mitigation of Hurricane Damage to homes from the University of Colorado

VOC’s In Paints

Poor indoor air quality is a major cause of respiratory illness, and can aggravate existing respiratory conditions such as Asthma.  Many building materials, including paint, give off harmful compounds that negatively affect indoor air quality, and, subsequently, the health of occupants.  By making informed decisions regarding the types of building and renovation materials that are used in the home and their impacts on indoor air quality, homeowners can minimize their exposure to airborne contaminants. More Info

Informational Links:

Jon Sader’s White Paper on VOC’s In Paint

US Environmental Protection Agency’s Site on Indoor Air Quality. This link provides an overview of indoor air quality, with specific information on a range of topics related to indoor air quality.

US Consumer Product Safety Commission: Indoor Air Quality Publications. This link provides access to a variety of publications that explore indoor air quality.

Indoor Air Quality Association. This trade organization performs research on indoor air quality, and how it relates to student performance, occupancy health, asthma rates, and other factors.

US Environmental Protection Agency’s site on Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC’s) This link provides an overview of VOC’s and provides information on limiting exposure to these contaminants.

Achieving Energy Efficiency by Sealing Windows & Doors

Heating and cooling our homes expends a substantial amount of energy. Part of the reason is because the conditioned air that requires so much energy to maintain leaks out of the home. One of the leading problem areas is not the type of windows and doors in your home, rather how they were installed. If you have a blower door test conducted on your home, the Energy Rater will be able to identify which windows and doors are leaking conditioned air.

Replacing the windows & doors may not be the correct answer. More often than not, all you may need to do is install or replace the insulation between the window or door and the framing of the house. Doing so is quick, easy, cost-effective, and does not necessarily require a contractor. Watch the video above for the demonstration. More Info

Informational Links:

Jon Sader’s White Paper on Achieving Energy Efficiency via Windows & Doors

ENERGY STAR is a great source of knowledge related to reducing energy consumption in the home. Below you will find several useful links relative to insulating your windows and doors, as well as other information and tips on making your home more energy efficient.

Do-It-Yourself Guide to Sealing and Insulating with ENERGY STAR.

Air Seal and Insulate with ENERGY STAR Information

Methodology for Estimated Energy Savings from Cost-Effective Air Seal & Insulating

NOLA Wise provides homeowners with access to information about financing energy-efficiency related home improvements using BPI Certified contractors.  Currently, it is only for residents of Orleans Parish.

Energy Smart helps Entergy New Orleans electric customers save energy and save money through energy assessments and valuable cash rebates on these energy efficiency improvements.