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Meghan Belnap
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The past decade has seen an energy revolution. Everything is becoming more and more efficient, appliances included. That means they take less of your energy bill and are friendly to the environment. But do the savings behind this new efficiency justify the purchase of a new appliance?

To tackle this question, we talked to appliance experts from Atlas Appliances Ltd. They had a few bits of valuable information regarding this topic:

Take Inventory

Consider replacing the appliances in your home and watch how much money you begin to save on your electric bills. Replacing home appliances such as refrigerators, dishwashers. Washers and dryers can account for savings of nearly 15% of your home’s energy budget.

If you are getting ready to move or remodel, or considering replacing older appliances within your home, save some money by purchasing energy efficient appliances.

Each appliance will come with 2 separate purchase prices; the first displays the initial cost of the appliance, and the second refers to the operating cost over its potential lifetime. Basically, you are paying second cost annually, through the lifespan of that appliance on your power bill.

Check for Energy Star

Most appliances now come with a yellow Energy-Guide tag to assist you in estimating an operating cost for that particular appliance. Purchasing an ENERGY STAR®- appliance cuts the second price-tag down because it will save money in the long-term. In actual fact, Energy efficient-certified washers as well as refrigerators provide an additional 20% energy efficiency over the standard appliance models of their kind. Energy efficient dishwashers typically use around 5.5 gallons, per cycle or less of water, while dishwashers bought prior to 1994, will sometimes use in access of 10 gallons of water, per each washing cycle.

Change Lifestyle/Think Green

The operation of your appliance will also affect any potential savings, in a major way every month. You can cut back greatly on appliance cost per month, by following the simple methods below.

  • Only run the dishwasher once you have a completely full load.
  • Scrape food off your dishes before loading as opposed to rinsing the food off.
  • Air-dry your dishes instead of heat-dry (button supplied on my dishwashers) will help in cutting back on energy used by the dishwasher.
  • For laundry, use only cold water if possible instead or warm or hotter settings.
  • Dry your towels or heavy-cottons separately, washing lighter-weight clothing together.
  • Refrigerator seals should be airtight – Shut the door over a sheet of paper or $1 bill, if paper pulls out effortlessly, adjustments or seals may need be replaced.

Typically the energy efficient appliances may initially cost more, but will save much more money in the end. Most key appliances will last from 10 to 20 years, so appliances that are more efficient end-up paying for themselves; lowering your monthly energy costs.

Meghan Belnap
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With the rising cost and limited supply of nonrenewable energy sources, many businesses are looking elsewhere to power their buildings. Some companies reduce their carbon footprint by using solar panels; others use windmills to provide their energy needs. Some are turning to more unique and modern energy savers. A busy train station in Stockholm, for example, converts body heat into warm water that is then used to heat a nearby building. This saves them 25 percent on energy costs. Going green, however, isn't just for companies any longer. Consumers like you can take part in the action, cutting energy costs down in the process. Go green with these five modern ideas.

Charge Your Devices Using The Sun

If you're like the rest of us, you've got a million devices attached to you at once. Problems arise when you're out for an extended period of time and any one of them dies. Solar powered chargers offer a unique way to keep you connected, from cases to covers to water-resistant USB chargers. Some come directly built into the case, while others are mini stand-alone panels. Their use could not be simpler: Find a sunny area, plug in the charger if necessary, face the small solar panel skyward, and let the sun go to work. They are perfect for people who live in a sunny area with little cloud cover. Because of the way they produce electricity, solar cells emit no emissions, waste, or byproducts.

Go Hydro

If you live near an abundantly-flowing water resource like a river, a microhydropower system may be a good option. Hydroelectric power provides an economic source of energy by converting flowing water into electricity. Run-of-the-river systems, the most common type, have three components that convert water to electricity--a pipeline that delivers the water, a waterwheel that transforms the water into rotational energy, and a generator that converts this energy to electricity. Microhydropower systems are an especially viable option for people who use solar power, providing energy in the winter months when the sun is not readily available. These systems can generate up to 100 kilowatts of energy, providing well more than enough for your home.

Tankless Water Heaters Rule

Unlike the traditional water heaters that heat water in advance and store it until it is used, tankless heaters heat it on demand. No more running out of hot water in the shower! Some even offer temperature adjustments, convenient for those who are in danger of scalding themselves, such as the elderly or those with nerve damage in the hands. While tankless water heaters are typically more expensive than their counterparts, they are more energy efficient, and pay for themselves relatively quickly.

Cut Costs with Modern Insolation

A properly insolated home is more comfortable and cheaper to run than one using less quality material, and can also increase air-tightness by 70 percent. First, get an energy audit to see where your leaks are occurring. Properly install your insolation or replace windows, and try to find recycled material that is water-, fire-, and mold-resistant. If you want to know how to make your home more green and save on your next energy bill then you don’t have to look further than the nearest window. New low-e windows can help immensely with heat retention and help cut cost with modern developments.

Install a Greywater System

A greywater system captures and sterilizes your bath and washing machine water and reuses it for flushing the toilet. Though you must plumb the house in order to install it, the savings make up for the inconvenience. Toilet flushing typically uses 30 percent of your water intake. A greywater system would cut your bill by a third. It's estimated that you'll save around $250 annually.

Though solar panels and windmills are often the first things people think of when discussing green energy, they should be far from the last. Try these unique energy-saving ideas and you'll be one step ahead of your neighbors on the energy-efficient bandwagon.

Meghan Belnap
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Many people today are becoming more environmentally aware. While we may not be able to solve all of the world’s problems, we can make a difference in our everyday habits. One of the first things you can do to help the planet is to stop doing things that are polluting it. Here are six eco un-friendly habits you should give up right now.

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1. Using Disposable Shopping Bags

It’s an unnecessary waste to get a new paper or plastic grocery bag every time you go shopping. Both paper and plastic bags are harmful to the environment. Getting a reusable bag is not only better for the environment, it saves you from having old bags piling up in your closet.

2. Driving More Than You Have To

If you’re in the habit of driving down the block, this is a good time to start walking more. This will give you more exercise, help you spend less on fuel and consume fewer resources. If you’re driving somewhere and have to make several stops, try to park in the middle and walk to each destination. Carpooling is another efficient way to drive less.

3. Improper Disposal of Motor Oil

If you change your own oil, make sure you don’t simply dump the old oil on the ground or into a drain. This will cause ground or water pollution. Place the old oil in a tightly sealed container and bring it to a place that recycles oil. Many gas stations, oil change places and automobile repair shops like Speedy Apollo Auto Service Centres will accept your old oil and help you dispose of it for free.

4. Leaving Lights and Appliances On

When you leave a room or the house, make sure you turn off the lights and any appliances you aren't using. It’s a waste of power to leave lights on all day. The same is true for televisions, air conditioners and household appliances.

5. Using Too Much Paper

It’s easy to switch to digital forms of many paper items nowadays. Rather than receiving magazines, newspapers, bills and information in paper form, arrange to get these things emailed to you. You can also read e-books rather than print books. These practices are good for the planet and they reduce clutter around your home as well.

6. Wasting Water

Water is our most valuable resource, but many people waste it by taking long showers or leaving the water running when they leave the room. Don’t use any more water than you have to. Another habit that wastes water is watering the lawn more often than is necessary.

The more conscious we are about our daily habits, the better it is for the whole planet. The above are just a few simple ways we can all do our part to preserve the environment. Giving up some of these harmful habits can put us on the right track.

Meghan Belnap
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In today's society many environmentally conscious and thrifty individuals seek the freedom that comes from living off the grid. Innovations in energy and water conservation have provided avenues for many to become less reliant on city resources. Here are some examples of alternative energy sources and conservation methods that ordinary home owners can use on their journey to sustainable living.

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Take Advantage of a Wind Energy Windfall

Wind energy is one of the main alternative energy products that has been used by commercial operations for many years. These industrial organizations refined wind energy collection and distribution methods with sophisticated wind farms where one large wind turbine can produce enough power for 600 households. These techniques are now scalable for residential use, and small wind electric systems potentially cut electricity bills by up to 90 percent depending on one's windy location. These wind turbines that are equipped for residential use are nonpolluting, and many systems are capable of running independently of the city's electric grid.

Employ Energy Efficient Heating and Cooling Systems

Many household appliances received energy-efficient make overs in recent years, and residential heating, ventilation, air conditioning and cooling (HVAC) systems from Romaniuk Heating & Air Conditioning Ltd are no exceptions. Well-known HVAC system manufacturers have developed patented electronic controls that modify residential temperatures at smaller increments. This creates a temperate indoor environment that requires less energy to maintain. Also, some HVAC systems use solar power in conjunction with these other energy-saving mechanisms.

Be Solar Savvy

Solar power is one of the most common sources of alternative energy used throughout the world. Roof top solar power systems that produce a household's entire energy supply are still expensive, but there are some cheaper ways to harness enough solar energy to reduce one's reliance on city power. Besides installing do it yourself solar panels around one's property, home owners will soon be able to pick up solar shutters and blinds from their local hardware stores and collect solar energy in a relatively inexpensive way. These special window treatments block heat producing summer sun rays while absorbing the energy for household power consumption. Another smart solar power invention is a flexible, tensile material with thin solar absorbing sheets built into the fabric. People can use this material to give shade to sunny patios, decks or car ports while collecting significant amounts of solar energy. While not yet available in local stores, home owners can get some of these products from the inventors who sell them in small quantities over the internet.

The described sustainable living tools are just a few examples from a fast growing industry that continues to develop environmentally friendly products. These products often spark other creative ideas that promote the cause of sustainable living.