Looking Good, Feeling Better

Fugee Speaks. We respect the sheep (of course), the craft (without a doubt), the customer (duh!), and our shared natural and living environment.  “Fugee Speaks” is a regular column with notes on what Ibex does behind the scenes to keep Vermont and Mother Nature happy.

At Ibex we believe it is the little things that make a big difference, such as: the extra attention to a stitch on a glove detail, the beautiful art work on an otherwise unremarkable main label, or our quest to find only the happiest sheep on the planet. This principle has spread far and wide across the company, and shows up in the strangest of places, like (insert drum roll here) our heating/ventilation/and air conditioning.

Not what you were expecting? Well, with an efficient HVAC system comes comfortable employees and with comfortable employees comes kick-ass clothing. Oh yeah, we also save a ton on fuel and money as a result – and you can too.

To put in perspective, most households shell out 50% of their energy budgets on heating and cooling, report both the Department of Energy and the renowned Energy Star program. For every degree you lower the thermostat, you’ll save between 1% to 3% on your heating bill. (Forget about throwing on your Cosby sweater from Christmas past, and slip into a pair of next-to-skin Woolies 220 tops and bottoms to save on heating this year.)

Farmers’ Almanac is forecasting that most eastern states – as far south as the Gulf Coast – will see snowier than normal conditions and cooler temperatures. So here at Ibex, we are checking the HVAC gear and stocking up on Wool Aire personal insulation to get us, and YOU, through the winter.

Our HVAC contractor regularly services our equipment allowing it to operate at peak efficiency.  A small thing like a clean filter makes a big difference, so they should be checked regularly (as often as monthly) during periods of heavy use. The reason: a dirty filter will slow down airflow, causing the system to work harder, wasting energy and money in the process. Also, keeping unnecessary dirt and dust from building up in your system will prevent early system failure and a big bucks fix.

Another weak spot in a heating system that deserves attention is leaky ductwork. Properly sealing the joints in your metal ductwork could easily save you 20% in heating/cooling costs, if not more. Pay close attention to ductwork located in unheated places such as your attic, basement, garage, and crawl spaces. Those little gaps, holes and crevices add up to one big hole. A blower door test, administered by a specialist, can measure your homes air leakage rate. This diagnostic test will quantify the rate at which warm air escapes, and zero in on where air is exiting or entering the envelope.

But not everything requires a professional and $$$ investment. Fugee says do the little things to save money and reduce resource consumption:

  • Forgo replacing expensive doors and windows in favor of air sealing.
  • Air sealing ducts with mastic or mastic tape is a relatively inexpensive and easy project to address leaky ducts.
  • Apply removable weather stripping around windows and exterior doors, bulkheads, and attic hatches. It will make any interior spaces more comfortable and heating more cost-effective.
  • Address insulation issues in your basement, and pay attention to the uninsulated space in your rim joist also known as a band joist.
  • A light long-sleeved Ibex merino wool shirt is generally worth about 2-degrees in added warmth, while a heavier sweater or shirt could add about 4 degrees.
  • Unscientifically, this means wearing a Nomad FZ top could theoretically save you 4-12% on your home heating bill.
  • Programmable thermostats can save a ton of energy and fuel costs. These thermostats are cheap, easy to install and pay big dividends. We’re talking up to $180 in savings every year in energy costs.

Today’s moment in energy history provided by Fugee, the wonder dog:

Remember in February 1977, when then-President Jimmy Carter addressed the nation in a cardigan, prompting Americans to take a simple step and turn down their thermostats, put on a sweater and perhaps forfeit a little comfort in favor of energy savings?

No? Well, I don’t remember that either, but I hear it was an iconic moment, and an ushering in of a new energy consciousness. So, if a wool sweater and a cold house are good enough for the leader of the free world to make it through the winter, then we should all heed his sage advice.

Turn down your thermostat, put on an Ibex sweater, and perhaps feel good about curbing climate change in the process. If only Ibex made sweaters my size.