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Found 33 results

  1. Your home’s features and condition play a major role on the impact you make on the planet. Many people assume that they need to make huge, expensive home improvements to create a green living environment. While installing solar panels and a rainwater collection and purification system are some of the many expensive projects that you could invest in, proper home maintenance can have a beneficial impact as well. These are some of the maintenance tasks to complete regularly to create a greener home environment. Schedule HVAC Service Regularly Living without an HVAC service would be miserable for most people. While this system understandably uses a significant amount of energy, it may currently be using more than it needs to. For example, when the system is dirty or developing signs of damage, the equipment may run more frequently or for longer periods of time than it otherwise would. This directly wastes energy and creates pollution in the process. When you schedule regular HVAC maintenance service, the components will be clean so that the system can work efficiently. In addition, developing repair issues can be identified and addressed quickly before they become major issues. Maintain Your Plumbing Features Fresh water is in short supply, so water conservation is a primary concern. In some homes, hidden water leaks waste tons of water before they are identified and repaired. In other homes, a huge leak spews hundreds of gallons of water or more into the home in a very short period of time. While not all leaks can be prevented, you can take steps to prevent some of these issues. For example, you can reduce your water pressure to minimize strain on the pipes. You can also invest in a water softener and reinforce pipe joints. Re-Seal Doors and Windows Periodically Energy loss also occurs through damaged window and door seals. These seals tend to deteriorate rapidly, and they may need to be replaced at least once per year. By doing so, you can keep climate-controlled air in the home and help your HVAC system to work more efficiently. You may also consider installing solar film over your windows for additional benefit. Each of these maintenance tasks should be included in your regular home care schedule. However, it is easy to overlook or delay working on them. Now that you know that they affect your property’s condition as well as your impact on the environment, you can see that these tasks deserve your regular attention.
  2. Going green is a concept that we can all get on board with. However, it can seem difficult to know what practices to do other than your traditional recycling instead of throwing items in the trash. In today’s short article, we’re going to discuss some small eco-friendly changes you can make to your daily living that will have a large impact on the going green initiative. Use Ecological Home Services If you’re a homeowner, it’s likely that you use home service providers for various issues or improvements you want to make to your home. When considering who to hire, you should look into those who practice eco-friendly methods. For example, hire an ecological pest control service that only uses environmentally-friendly treatment methods. This can help to keep pesticides out of your home. It will also ensure that your family doesn’t have any negative reactions to harmful treatment pesticides that other home servicers use. Use Canvas Bags at the Grocery Store We’ve all seen those plastic grocery store bags blowing around in the wind as people tend to not dispose of these bags correctly. When you use canvas bags, you can help to cut done on the number of plastic grocery store bags being produced. In fact, the more people who bring their own canvas bags to the grocery store, the less plastic bags the store will order. These bags carry their own advantages as well. For example, they’re much sturdier than those plastic bags, which makes them great for carrying canned goods and other heavy items. These bags can be used for trips other than to the grocery store as well. Use CFL Light Bulbs Instead of Incandescent As your existing light bulbs die out, it’s time to switch them out for CFL light bulbs. These actually have two main benefits for you. The first is that they last up to 5 years longer than incandescent bulbs. Also, they utilize 70 percent less electricity when running. This is a major difference that can do wonders when it comes to your electric bill. Just imagine how much energy you could save when all the light bulbs in your home are running on 70 percent less power. Going eco-friendly isn’t really a hard thing to do. The difficult part is just understanding the small differences you can do each and every day that translates to the biggest impact. The above are three great ways to get started on your new eco-friendly lifestyle habits.
  3. If you’re looking to save money and energy, small home improvements can help a lot. Choosing to upgrade your home to make it more energy efficient can help you save on your heating and cooling costs. It may even increase the value of your home. Here are the three most important updates to make to ensure your home is as energy efficient as possible. Replace Your Appliances This is probably a more expensive route, but ensuring your home has energy efficient appliances is a good first step. You can start by replacing your old appliances with energy efficient ones when they die. In addition to appliances like dishwashers and refrigerators, heating and cooling systems in homes that are over 15 years old may be in need of an upgrade. While you’re upgrading appliances, you may want to think about a programmable thermostat. This can allow you to regulate the temperature within your home, whether you are there or not. Add Insulation You’ll need to decide if the amount of insulation that’s currently in your home is acceptable for the climate you live in or for your personal needs. If your home is poorly insulated, adding an extra layer of insulation can help keep heat inside in the winter or cool down your home in the summer. All this leads to savings in your heating and cooling bills. Replace or Repair Garage Doors The garage is one room in your home that typically isn’t insulated very well. Rooms that are attached to or above the garage can suffer as a result. While you could add some layers of insulation to your garage, if you have garage doors that are not energy efficient, the air will enter through the cracks. This leaves the entire wall your garage doors are on without insulation. Installing or repairing garage doors to ensure they are insulated will ensure your home is more efficient, increase home value, and help regulate the temperature within your home. Energy efficiency in your home is important in ensuring you’re comfortable and not shelling out hundreds of dollars per month in heating and cooling costs. Following these tips will ensure that hot and cold air don’t just escape your home. If you’re not sure where to start with energy efficient home improvements, be sure to consult with a professional contractor. They’ll be able to help you determine what you can do to make your home more efficient and how you should execute the upgrades.
  4. When spring arrives, a new growing season begins. This is a time when you expect your yard’s dormant vegetation to become rejuvenated. Unfortunately, many people are dismayed to realize that their lawn is not as green and healthy as they hoped. If your lawn is patchy, has brown spots or is showing other signs of trouble, you may use some of these tips to revive your lawn and to get the curb appeal that you desire. Kill the Weeds With warm spring temperatures and hydrating rain showers, weeds that were dormant all winter will sprout up quickly. Weeds will crowd out your grass. Eventually, you may have a yard full of weeds rather than healthy grass. You may also have brown or bare spots as a result. There are a few different ways to get rid of weeds. You can pull the weeds out by hand. You can also apply various products to the lawn. For example, some broadleaf weed killers will kill the weeds and not the grass. You may decide to kill all vegetation by applying various household products to the soil. This will give you a blank slate to plant new grass. Aerate the Soil If your lawn is looking generally unhealthy, the reason may be because of compacted soil. Soil has a tendency to become more compact over time because of various weather conditions. When it is firmly compacted, water and fresh air will not be able to reach the plant roots as easily. Professional aeration can loosen the soil and ensure that vegetation roots have access to the fresh air and water that they need for optimal health. Plant Grass Seed or Plugs Regardless of whether you have decided to start from scratch and use lawn installation services for a brand-new lawn or you simply want to fill in some patches of dirt, bringing new grass into your space may be necessary. To determine the right approach, consider your budget as well as the current state of your lawn. It makes sense to kill weeds and prepare the soil through aeration and even fertilization before planting new grass seed or plugs. After you take these steps, remember that regular yard maintenance is required to nurture your lawn back to health and to maintain it in a healthy state. This includes regular mowing and edging, watering and fertilization. If you continue to struggle to achieve the beautiful curb appeal that you desire, using professional lawn care services is an excellent idea.
  5. Living greener can benefit both you and the environment. One of the best ways to adopt an eco-friendlier lifestyle is by making some modifications around your home that will be better for the ecosystem. Here are four tips to turn your home into a safer setting for the planet. Various appliance and utility options will save you long-run costs, make your home more sustainable to maintain, and help the environment. Here are just four options to get you started on improving your home. Switch to an Energy-Efficient HVAC System Some of the best heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems to be developed in recent years are designed specifically to save energy. The standards for energy efficiency in HVAC systems in general have been raised, making more modern systems more cost effective and more environmentally friendly. Even with the reduction in energy use, your home’s indoor temperatures and air quality will still be regulated properly with the right system. Many of the top-rated HVAC systems nowadays feature programmable thermostats that can be set to turn on and shut off automatically instead of running continuously and wasting energy. Build with Recyclable Materials If you’re looking for additions to your home or trying to build a new home from scratch, using recyclable materials will put less strain on the planet’s natural resources. CBS News reports that certain homes are made from bricks that consist of glass, clay, and ceramics. Some of the remnants from demolished houses can also be salvaged and used to construct a new home. Recycled steel for the supports are both affordable and eco-friendly, and recycled timber can be used for new floors, cabinets, ceilings, and anywhere that new timber could be used. These recycled materials often are more durable, as well, making them both cheaper to buy and cheaper to maintain, as well as being more environmentally friendly. Install a Domestic Sewage System Human waste that travels through your pipes into a public sewage system may end up being untreated and released into local rivers or lakes or the ocean. To prevent this problem, you can have a domestic treatment tank installed on your property. For domestic use, miniature sewage system plants are installed underground on your property, safely treating and disposing of your home’s wastes. They are cost-effective, as well, as you only need them cleaned every 3-5 years, and otherwise are their own little ecosystem, using natural bacteria to maintain themselves. Use Native Plants to Decorate Your Yard As lawns and gardens are becoming more lavish, more foreign plants are being introduced to environments that they are either ill-suited to or else could dominate. Seeds from non-native plants can spread to the local environment and create harmful competition for the natural plant life in the area. Not only are native plants safer for the surrounding ecosystem, but they also won’t need as many resources to survive, as they are able to draw from the natural environment around them. Native plants are also likelier to have adapted to surviving local pest infestations and won’t require the use of as many pesticides. Overall, using plants that are native to your area is more cost effective and safer for the surrounding ecosystem than bringing in foreign plants. While not all aspects of maintaining the environment can be controlled by individual homeowners, there are some small decisions in the construction and maintenance of your home that can majorly impact the environment for better or worse. With the right modifications, you’ll be able to turn your home into a setting that helps promote more longevity for the earth and your family.
  6. Living in a beautiful historic home may be a dream come true, but this type of living experience can be stressful, expensive and inconvenient in specific ways. For example, unless the home has been recently and thoroughly renovated, it may be generating waste in various ways. This waste may result in higher expenses, environmental concerns and other issues that you understandably want to avoid as much as possible. These are some of the many steps that you may take to reduce waste in your historic home. Schedule HVAC Maintenance Service Maintaining a desirable climate indoors in an older home can consume much more energy than may be required in a newer home with an equivalent size. This can place a considerable amount of strain on your heating and cooling system. Over time, this additional strain may result in equipment damage that creates additional inefficiency. A smart idea is to schedule AC and heating system maintenance annually to erase signs of wear and tear for optimal efficiency. This may reduce energy bills and decrease the environmental impact. Reseal the Doors and Windows Regardless of whether you live in an older or a newer home, seals around doors and windows can deteriorate rapidly. In fact, most homes need new seals every year or two. If you have not resealed your home’s doors and windows recently, now may be the time to do so. In addition to eliminating unnecessary energy waste, it can help you to stay more comfortable indoors by eliminating drafts. This is a simple and affordable project that you may be able to complete on your own. Upgrade the Insulation Another smart way to reduce energy waste and to improve your home’s interior environment is to upgrade insulation. Over time, insulation may deteriorate. It may also become damaged by pests, exposure to water from plumbing leaks and more. Furthermore, insulation that was installed many years ago may not be as effective as new types on the market today. This is a smart, cost-effective to modernize your historic home without impacting its character at all. The charm of a historic home resides in its layout, architectural detail and even quality materials. While you understandably want to modernize your home so that you can reduce or eliminate unnecessary waste, you do not want to impact its gorgeous design elements. Each of these tips may help you to improve your historic home dramatically. However, you should review your home to assess its specific and most pertinent needs before acting.
  7. If you are like most people, your annual home energy cost amounts to a small fortune. However, this is seemingly a necessary expense that you have minimal control over. By taking a closer look at how you use energy at home and how this energy is generated, you may dramatically reduce energy costs on a regular basis. In fact, you may even be able to generate a profit from home energy generation rather than continue to pay expensive utility bills. Reduce Energy Consumption Dramatically The first step to take if you want to improve home energy consumption is to alter how it is used. You can make a few behavioral adjustments, such as by turning all lights off when they are not in use and unplugging appliances and electronics when they are not needed. You can also reduce energy consumption at home by upgrading to a new HVAC system and major appliances that have improved energy efficiency ratings. To promote HVAC system efficiency further, schedule energy-efficient door and window installation services, re-seal doors and windows and upgrade insulation throughout the walls and ceiling. These steps require a substantial financial investment, but the net impact on your finances over time may be positive. Produce Your Own Green Energy When you follow these steps to reduce energy consumption, you may still be responsible for regular energy bills. To potentially eliminate energy costs going forward, produce your own green energy. Solar energy panels are among the most common ideas, but there are other ideas. For example, wind and geothermal energy may be well-suited for your home as well. Because you may have already taken steps to reduce energy consumption, the home-produced energy may completely cover all of your needs at home. This can eliminate the need to pay an energy bill regularly. Your home may produce so much energy that you are able to sell energy to the local utility provider. By doing so, you can actually receive a small amount of income regularly rather than pay a monthly bill. You could continue to struggle with high energy costs for years to come, or you can take action to address this problem directly. While it may require a large financial investment to accomplish each goal outlined here, you will notice that each small step that you take has a positive effect on energy consumption and expenses. Now is a great time to take your first steps to improve your home in these thoughtful ways.
  8. Making green home improvements makes a lot of sense from a health, comfort and financial perspective. With an increasing emphasis on minimizing the climate crisis and making homes as healthy as possible, homeowners and builders are focusing on increasing the number of features that save energy and promote healthier living. They Appreciate Faster While the rate of appreciation for a home’s highly variable, all other things being equal, a green home will appreciate faster than a less energy efficient unit. There are a number of reasons for higher appreciation. Homes with higher efficiency are in greater demand, which is the primary force behind home appreciation. They also have lower energy bills, something that ranks high with many home buyers. If you live in a neighborhood of older homes and you want to increase the value of your home, make improvements to the insulation, particularly in the attic. If the HVAC system is old, chances are your heating and cooling bills are high. Installing a new one will add value to your home and lowers your heating and cooling costs. You and your financial consultant can explore how important faster home appreciation is. If you don’t have a consultant, you can search something like ‘NJ individual wealth management’ for your area to find one. Your home is probably your most important asset and when it increases in value faster, so does your net worth. Green Homes Are Healthier Indoor air quality (IAQ) is an important part of achieving a green home and the easiest way to achieve good IAQ is by using products that don’t emit harmful volatile organic compounds (VOCs). These gases cause physical symptoms from mild to serious like headaches and sore throats to cancer or neurological system disorders. There’s a long list of materials used in daily life and for home construction and remodeling that contain VOCs. Fortunately, it’s getting easier to find alternatives that keep IAQ high. Look for remodeling products labeled as low in VOCs or are VOC-free. Some carry clean air labels, like paint and flooring products. It’s getting easier to find household products that have no to few VOCs. Look for natural cleaners, products without perfumes and candles made from beeswax or soy. Avoid anything made from paraffin. Some Green home upgrades run at a higher cost than their less environmentally friendly counterparts, so make sure you factor that into your budget. While there is no price you can place on health, you still need to budget well to afford these upgrades. As mentioned above, a financial service provider like rmrwealth.com can be very helpful when planning and executing home improvements. Ventilation Homes that have high IAQ may have balanced ventilation systems that pull in as much fresh air as they exhaust. The U.S. EPA has found that indoor air can be much more polluted than the worst outdoor air. The greenest products used for ventilation are heat and energy recovery ventilators. These devices transfer the thermal energy from the outgoing air into the incoming air, which eliminates the cost of heating or cooling outdoor air. Bottom Line Anything you can do to make your home greener in the short and long term helps your financial and personal health. You can start by doing something as easy as changing the cleaning products you buy or as challenging as making major improvements to its structure. Whatever it is, it will better your life by making it more comfortable.
  9. A good well is a priceless part of off-the-grid living, and maintaining one can be surprisingly easy. However, first-time well owners may find that there is a bit of a learning curve. Unfortunately, mistakes can be costly if they damage the well or cause contamination. Here are three simple ways to avoid those troubles and keep your well running smoothly. Keep An Eye On The Calendar Regular water testing is an important part of maintaining a healthy well. In most places, an annual test for bacteria and other contaminants is enough. Check with your local health department when working out a maintenance schedule, however, because some areas may have specific risks that require more frequent testing. During this annual check, it’s also a good idea to give your system a routine flush with chlorine as a preventative measure, as well as checking the flow rate to make sure your system is working as well as possible. Watch For Changes Most of the time, wells run just fine with just a little preventative maintenance. However, even properly maintained wells can develop contamination issues for reasons ranging from failing equipment to flooding from major storms. If you notice any changes in your water quality, schedule another water test immediately, and consider drinking bottled water while you wait for the results. These changes can include cloudy or discolored water, new odors or a strange taste. Changes in the rate of the water flow can also be a sign of trouble. Pumps may become sluggish or inefficient before they break down completely, or a broken pipe may be causing you to lose water pressure without totally disabling the system. Know When To Call The Professionals The average homeowner can handle some minor maintenance, but for most issues it’s best to call in qualified professionals, like those at Taylor Heating Inc. Wells are more complicated than they seem, so a problem that would be minor and easy to fix for an experienced technician may turn into a major headache for a homeowner. Inexperienced people also may accidentally introduce dangerous bacteria into the system while doing something as simple as removing the well cap. Wells are a major investment, so it’s important to take the time to keep yours running smoothly. Preventative maintenance may seem like an unnecessary expense, but it can save you thousands of dollars in the long run. By scheduling routine testing and treatments, addressing any potential problems and finding qualified professionals to work with, your well can last a lifetime.
  10. The roof protects your home interiors from snow, wind, hail, storm, rain and sun. It also ensures that heat from either the outside or inside does not leak to either side. If the roof is energy-inefficient, it may be costing hundreds of dollars in heating and cooling costs. Here are factors of your roof that may impact on the energy efficiency of your home. The Level of Insulation Ideally, energy efficiency is ensuring that the temperature out there does not affect the indoor temperature. One of the areas where outdoor temperature may influence your indoor temperature is the roof. The insulation levels in your attic determine whether the house losses some of the cool air during summer or gets cold during summer. Inspect the attic insulation regularly. Install additional insulation when necessary. Quality insulation also protects the roof from damage due to condensation in the attic. Ventilation Your roof requires some ventilation to offload the excess heat that may be hidden in the attic. During the cold weather, the trapped heat in the attic may thaw the snow prematurely and create ice dams. Ice dams eventually become points of weakness and leakage on the roof. You may end up with expensive leak repairs or roof replacement. During the hot weather, trapped heat may make your cooling systems less efficient. Therefore, it costs you more to cool the house that you should. Moreover, poor ventilation may tap moisture under your roof and cause damage to the holding beans and the roof structure. Trapped moisture can lead to mildew growth and rust on your metallic fixtures. Color The color of the roof also affects the energy efficiency of your home. Dark-colored roofs usually absorb lots of heat during summer. They can heat up to over 150 F° in a hot summer. The extra heat is transmitted to the attic and other materials in your home. This increases the indoor temperature thereby raising the energy consumption of your air conditioning systems. You end up paying more to keep your house cool. Consider light-colored roofs or roofs made from light-reflecting materials. You can also seek the help of professional roof contractors such as Stevens Roofing Corporation to help determine best colors to reflect heat. This enhances your energy efficiency and keeps your home cooler. Cut your energy costs by improving the energy efficiency of your home starting with the roof. Install the right roofing when building or refurbishing the house. Check the above elements to lower your energy costs.
  11. Image Source: Pexels The fall season is sometimes the best time of the year to make your home energy efficient. You usually don't need to use the air conditioner or the heating system as much as you do in the summer and winter. The season gives you an opportunity to explore the home to look for any cracks under the doors or near the windows that need to be sealed and any issues with the heating system that need to be repaired. Seal Air Escapes Walk around the home to see if there are any areas where the heat or air might escape. Common areas are underneath doors, around windows and even through electrical sockets. It won't cost a lot of money to seal these areas that allow cold air into the home while you're trying to keep the house heated. Consider using plastic on the windows and on screens in the doors to keep cold air from entering the home. If you can keep air from invading, then you won't need to use the heating system as often, which will save you money. Check The Electrical System Before you turn on the heating system, you need to check the filters and the vents. A professional company, like Universal Refrigeration, can come to the home to examine the electrical components of the heating or cooling system to ensure that they are working properly. You might want to remove the air conditioners from the windows as these can allow cold air to enter the home through the cracks that might be around the unit as it sits in the window. If your heating unit needs to be replaced, you need to find one that is energy efficient as this can save a significant amount of money on your utility bill. Keep It Cool If you're someone who doesn't need to stay hot in the fall or winter, turn the thermostat down a few degrees instead of keeping it set at a higher temperature. Before going to bed and if you leave the home for long periods are the best times to turn the thermostat down so that it's not running as much when no one is in the home. A programmable thermostat is an option if you want to install something that will automatically adjust at a certain time or at a certain temperature. Keeping your home at the right temperature can take some work. You want to ensure that it's comfortable without spending a lot of money at the same time. After examining the home, you can often make adjustments that will save you money and keep everyone warm or cool during the year.
  12. Over the past decade, people have gone from freely using resources to eventually coming to the realization that it is critical to work to conserve resources. With more and more information about the planet's dwindling resources and the increasingly frightening findings about the effects of climate change, most eco-conscious people commit to working toward finding new ways to make their property more environmentally friendly. “As you look around your own property, trying to think of ways to make a meaningful contribution to protecting the planet and trying to help its recovery, you will find plenty of ways to pitch in on the efforts while adding value to your property. Take a look at some of the ways we believe create a win for you and the planet.” - Brentwood Home - Natural Home Suppliers Wrap It All Up With Insulation One of the most effective, and often overlooked, improvements you can make to an aging home is to either add or replace insulation in your home. Don't forget to address window insulation issues by changing their insulation to double glazing. Take care of areas that feature wall and cavity loft space, which is where the outer wall is made of block or brick while the interior wall features concrete block or breeze block. When you fully insulate your home, you will reduce your winter heating bill, therefore reducing your yearly costs and helping reduce your energy usage. As a bonus, home buyers like you will appreciate buying a home that features quality insulation. Harness the Sun's Power With Solar Energy While a more initial expensive entry in our list, solar power pays off in less obvious ways at first, and it definitely pays off over time. Install solar panels on your home's roof to attract the sun's energy, capture it and use it for our property's individual energy supply. You will love the immediate energy savings while boosting your property value for future home buyers. An added bonus for installing solar panels includes, depending on your state, potential solar rebates and tax credits. It's Raining, It's Pouring, So Catch That Essential Resource and Use It If you live in a climate outside of the desert, chances are good that you see plenty of rainfall each year. You hear it streaming through your home's gutters, which flows away, not making any real impact. For a small cost, you can install water catchers to capture and rainwater, which you can store for later use in your garden or flowerbed, or you can simply use it to water houseplants. This small addition provides solid savings and is a wonderful feature future home buyers will appreciate.
  13. In our modern day and age, people are more and more concerned about preserving the environment, and rightly so. There are plenty of scientific studies that suggest the planet is facing environmental challenges the likes of which it has never faced before. It has gotten to the point that going green is no longer seen as making a personal statement. It is now more about simply being a responsible person. Luckily, with the advance of technology, it has never been easier to be an environmentally friendly home owner. Solar Energy Solar panel technology has been around for quite some time now. It has never been more affordable than it is now, however. The benefits are pretty obvious to see. By switching out your power source from public energy plants which use up natural resources such as coal and oil, you substantially reduce your carbon footprint. Solar energy is not only incredibly easy to obtain, but it is also very cost effective in the long run. After all, the sun is free to use. So while the initial cost of solar panels can be scary for a lot of people, be assured that they will more than pay themselves off in due time. Of course, you don't have to go all-in on solar energy if don't want to or can't afford to. You may not be able to afford enough panels to power the whole home at first. If this is the case then you can still use solar panels to power parts of your house, while relying on conventional power for the rest of the spaces. It is still better than obtaining all of your energy the conventional way and can be upgraded when you have the ability. Water Efficient Plumbing I'm sure that you have seen the water efficient bathroom appliances when you go out to restaurants and other such public places. While the businesses generally say that they installed these appliances in order to be environmentally conscientious, we all know that all they really care about is the bottom line. Yet they still installed them. This should be taken as a cue that water efficient bathrooms are both cheaper and good for the environment. Nature-Friendly Gardens This one really only applies to people with yards, but since that represents a lot of people it is important to mention. Basically, fill up your yard with local plants instead of the standard (water depleting) grass. Not only is it environmentally friendly because you are using native plants that enrich the environment, but it also provides the house with unique curb appeal that everyone will appreciate. So the point is that making your house a little more eco-friendly is far from difficult. In fact, it has never been easier. If you are building your home, companies like Fischer Homes can often construct the home to work well with these green initiatives. So if you haven't already, consider making a few tweaks to your house in order to ensure that you are doing your part to preserve our environment.
  14. Real estate investment can cost a modest fortune for many people, and because of this, you understandably want to save money in every way possible. The U.S. government has created numerous tax breaks and other financial benefits for those who own green homes or who make green improvements to their homes within a specified tax year. Such benefits can help you to save a sizable chunk of change within the next year. If you are looking for ways to save on your home ownership expenses, consider these points. Green Energy Generation There are several ways to produce green energy in your own home. This ranges from solar and wind energy to the use of geothermal pumps and more. Many home energy production methods produce enough energy to entirely offset the home's energy needs on a regular basis. Generally, the IRS allows you to deduct at least a portion of the purchase of the equipment and the installation cost for many types of green energy systems. This can drastically offset the cost to get the system up and running, and you can then enjoy ongoing energy savings throughout your time in the house. HVAC Systems, Boilers and Furnaces Climate control is a serious matter for homeowners, and you understandably need to invest in new, energy-efficient equipment to keep your home’s indoor climate as comfortable as possible regardless of the weather conditions outside. If you invest in a new HVAC system, boiler or furnace that is sufficiently energy efficient to meet IRS standards, you may qualify for a deduction or tax credit. Typically, the credit or deduction applies to specific models and is based on the equipment and installation costs. Some equipment may also qualify for local grants for additional savings. Sealing the Home Everything from new insulation to new doors and windows are responsible for sealing the home. Such features can prevent the transfer of heat between the indoor and outdoor environments, and this can drastically reduce energy consumption related to climate control activities. Replacing insulation, doors, and windows with newer, energy-efficient models may qualify the home for a tax deduction or tax credit. The cost of insulation and materials may both be used to determine the amount of the credit or deduction. Living green is a great way to decrease your impact on the environment and to save money on energy costs in the process. Through these green home improvements, you may also be able to enjoy tax credits and deductions for additional savings. If you’re unsure what benefits you can get, realtors like those at Mark Fox Company can help you find out.
  15. Protecting the planet is a great goal, and everyone is doing just a little more to have a part in ensuring our planet will be here for future generations. While some changes are big and costly, in other ways you can go green with just a few small changes at home. Here are some small changes that can add up to big difference in your overall impact on the environment. 1. Learn to Unplug Everything, from your computer to your power tools, needs to be unplugged when not in use. Many homeowners do not realize that leaving appliances, electronics and other electrical devices plugged in actually uses energy, even when the device is not in use. Simply being plugged in causes a little bit of electricity to flow to the device then back into the home's circuits, and in that process some energy is lost. Make this easier by plugging most entertainment devices into one power strip, then switch off the group when you head to bed. 2. Adjust the Fridge Many homeowners have their refrigerators and freezers set too cold. Invest in a small fridge thermometer, and test the temperature. The fridge should be between 37 and 40 degrees, with the freezer between 0 and 5. If it's too cold, adjust the temperature higher and save money. 3. Bring Reusable Bags When you go shopping, bring your own cloth grocery sacks. Your grocery store may actually pay you a few cents for doing so, but the biggest reason to do this is to prevent more plastic bags from ending up in the landfill. Remember, plastic does not decompose, so you are putting everyone at risk when you throw out plastic bags. 4. Turn off the Tap Turn off the tap while brushing teeth. If you brush for two minutes and leave the tap running, your family can waste around 5 gallons of water a day. Turning it of is simple. The same is true for washing dishes. After filling the sink, turn off the tap while you scrub the dishes. Remember, it really is small changes that make a big difference when you're trying to go green. Make these changes, then enjoy the energy savings that come as a result!
  16. With rising awareness about the well-being of our planet both sellers and buyers acknowledge the importance of green home features. Living in an eco-friendly house reduces your carbon footprint, limits the exploitation of natural resources and can significantly lower utility bills, but how cost-effective are they and how much value do they add to a home? If you are interested in ways to increase the value of your home and make it eco-friendly then read on to find out 6 of the best that you can incorporate into your home. Sustainable insulation One of the most important green home upgrades is insulation, as proper insulation – especially in the attic – will ensure that energy is not escaping through the roof. There are many types of insulation to choose from, however blown-in cellulose wall insulation is mostly recommended by home sustainability experts. For reinforced effects, consider upgrading weather stripping around doors and windows. Solar panels Installing solar panels is a huge investment and organizational challenge as it requires you to rethink the infrastructure of the entire house. However, a study conducted by the National Bureau of Economic Research reveals that home sellers can look at an up to 97 per cent return rate when investing in new energy efficient strategies. Energy and water saving appliances ENERGY STAR rating is an internationally recognized symbol of energy efficient appliances, which offer significant energy and water savings without compromising performance. Experienced realtors from OpenAgent suggest that replacing old and used appliances such as ovens, fridges, water heaters, TVs and even showerheads significantly improves the appearance of the house and has the power to boost its overall value. This is because potential buyers look for house features that will save them money in the long run. As an added bonus you can wrap your water heater in an insulating blanket or install tankless water heaters that heat water on demand. Energy-smart windows For potential buyers, old single-pane windows can be a big turn off, therefore it can be a good idea to invest in multi-pane windows adjusted to your climate zone. It is said that homeowners can save up to $500 annually by upgrading their windows to high performing models. Low-emissivity glass windows can reduce energy bills and harmful UV rays, as well as improve overall quality of life by cancelling outside noise and beautifying your property. Also, adding in skylights is an efficient way of bringing natural light into the rooms, thus reducing the need for artificial lighting. Go LED You may be surprised, but changing the smallest things can have a huge impact on home energy efficiency. When it comes to lighting, CFLs and LED lights are a must-have, as they are said to consume from 75 to 90 per cent less energy and last 20 times longer than incandescent light bulbs. LED light bulbs also do not heat up as quickly as older models, which helps to keep the house cooler in the summer, reducing the need for air conditioning. Modern dimmer switches and occupancy sensor light switches that turn the light off automatically when someone leaves the room are additional cool features that could boost the appeal of your house. Thermostats One of the simplest ways of adding value to your home is installing programmable thermostats, as almost half of energy bills go towards heating and cooling the house. By installing and programming thermostats wisely, utility bills can be reduced by up to 10 per cent. These were our top environmentally-friendly home upgrades that give the best value for money. There is no denying that the real estate market is very competitive, therefore, if you want to sell your house and make significant profit, do make sure to implement these top 6 green and sustainable features to your home.
  17. It is no secret that going green is today more import than ever. For this reason, many homeowners decide to turn their houses into real environmentally-friendly places. What’s great about this is that by aiding in preserving the nature this way you can also manage to save a lot of money. This is the case because the goals of every cautions homeowner should be using less energy, using less water and recycling. So if you decide to contribute to saving the environment, here are 5 low cost upgrades for your home that can do wonders for both nature and your wallet. Add More Insulation Insulation is something you should always consider when turning your home green. If there is more insulation in your home, you will be using less energy to keep it warm during the winter and cool during the summer. There are quite a few green insulation materials you ca choose from, with aerogel and cotton being among the most popular options. No matter which material you opt for, you will be guaranteed to use less energy during the whole year. Of course, this will also reduce the cost of your energy bills significantly. Replace Old Windows We have already mentioned how not letting either hot or cold air escape your home is one of the best things you can do when going green. Another great way to do this is to replace any old windows in your home. If there are any cracks in the window frames or the windows are simply too old, air can escape quite easily through them. If this is the case with your home, you are probably using much more electricity than it is necessary. Therefore, getting new windows should be your no.1 priority. Plant Some Trees Of course, you shouldn’t just stick to your house when going green. If there is a lot of place in your backyard planting a new tree is always a good thing to do. And if you want your tree to be even more useful, you should make sure you plant it on the west side of your home. That way, the branches will block the sunbeams during the summer, while in winter, bare branches will help allow infrared radiation that will warm up your home get through. Nuttall oak, red maple and weeping willow are just some of the trees you can opt for. Go for Water-Efficient Fixtures If you want your home to be more environmentally-friendly, you will also have to think about using less water. Even though turning off the tap when washing your hands and brushing your teeth is always a good thing to do, you should also consider installing some water-efficient fixtures in your bathroom. There are low flow shower heads that are just a perfect option for every green home. Also, there are aerators that maximize the flow rate of your faucets. If there are any leaks make sure you contact a 24 hour plumber in order to minimize the amounts of water that go to waste. Get Solar Panels A large number of homeowners also decides to install solar panels when going green. With these, you will be utilizing natural power and minimize your use of electricity. Even though getting solar panels seems like an expensive investment at first, if you are planning long run, these will in fact help you save quite a lot of money. It is also important to mention that in some countries, homeowners who decide to get these receive bonuses and huge tax breaks. Having all of this in mind, getting solar panels is always a great thing to do, both for the environment and your wallet. Make sure you do all of these upgrades and you will be guaranteed to contribute quite a lot to preserving the environment. Bear in mind that you can never do too much when going green so keep looking for some further upgrades you can do.
  18. Taking care of a home can be expensive. Help cut your home's maintenance costs with these 7 tips to make your home more energy efficient. Decrease Water Heater Temperature It may be necessary to crank your water heater temperature up during the winter, but during the summer, you may notice you can get by with a much lower hot water temperature. Experiment with lower temperatures and see what is comfortable for you while still saving you a little money. You may not be able to tell the difference, and it'll be a big savings on your power bill. Replace or Caulk Old Windows Old windows can be a frequent cause of increased utility bills. Gaps and cracks can let air conditioning out, and let cold winter breezes in. Put caulk adhesive in the cracks to seal up what you can. You could also consider replacing your old windows with new, energy efficient windows. There are many different styles of windows to choose from, like bay windows, casement windows, and awning windows. If you're replacing windows, you might as well choose a window style that will increase the value of your home. New windows can take years off of a home, and can brighten and refresh your curb appeal. Hire a realtor and figure out how much new windows will affect the value of your home. Realtors are experts in determining home improvement projects that produce high returns for sellers. Consider hiring a realtor to help you determine if new windows could improve the value of your home. Change Air Filters Regularly Make sure you are buying air filters for your HVAC unit that are properly sized, and that you're changing them frequently. Leaving dirty filters in place can put a strain on your HVAC unit, and cause more expense in the future. Invest in a Programmable Thermostat Don't pay money to heat or cool your home when nobody's there. Invest in a programmable thermostat that can adjust the temperatures based on the time of day. Set the thermostat to bump the heater down a few degrees when you know you'll be gone, and have it turn back up before you get home. Increase the Insulation in Your Attic In a lot of homes, there is blown-in insulation in the attic space of your home. Over time, this can get compacted, and lose some of its R-value. Blow more insulation into your attic to help your home maintain your desired temperature. Buy Energy Efficient Appliances Modern appliances are required by the government to operate within certain parameters, which use considerably less water and power than appliances built even just a few years ago. Consider replacing one of your older appliances with a newer one. Shop around, comparing the yellow utility usage tags to be sure you get the most efficient one available. Use Power Efficiently Pay attention to your power usage, especially during peak months. Turn off lights, and unplug items you're not using. Many things use power even when you don't think they are. A good way to identify how many items are using power is to look around at night and see how many glowing lights you see. These items are still using power even in the middle of the night. Unplug items that are unnecessary. Keeping a home maintained can be an expensive and costly prospect. There are many easy ways to keep your home using energy more efficiently. The experts from Statewide Energy Solutions suggest replacing old windows, radiant barriers, AC & Duct Sealing, sealing plugs, light switches, doors, and plumbing and pipe entrances. Following the tips discussed can keep your energy costs down and help make your home more environmentally friendly and energy efficient.
  19. Going green is both noble and mainstream in today’s market, but it might not necessarily be easy—or even have a positive impact on your environment. Fortunately you can take good steps with little need for concern and without causing further harm. Check out four ways to greenify your home with environmentally friendly measures below. Replenish Food and Water This goes beyond throwing recyclables in a green bin. Organic material, like banana peels and coffee grounds, give off the highly toxic methane when they decompose in landfills. Clean water is likewise lost when it’s flushed or used in cleaning. Consider converting that food into compost material for fertilizing your plants and garden. As for the water, recycling through treatment tanks like Econocycle systems render spent water clean again for home reuse. Try Solar Paneling If the initial cost isn’t a barrier, solar panels go a long way to save you money and supply clean energy to your home. Besides working from a completely sustainable and renewable source, panels operate with grids that store unused energy. Not only does this lower your bills, but it also reduces the carbon footprint left on the planet for roughly 30 years! You might not get much energy when the sun isn’t out, but solar panels are a great option on both the financial and environmental ends. Regulate Air Flow Whether it’s hot or cold outside, your air conditioning has a large effect on how much energy your home wastes. Cutting back on potential waste is simple, from sealing up any leaky holes to keeping filters clean, but there are more extensive options, as well. Installing an automatic thermostat to keep the temperature comfortable is one such route; buying a more energy-efficient AC unit is another. Buy Local Your farmer’s market can boost the local economy and provide access to homegrown natural or organic foods, but the benefits don’t stop there. You might decrease carbon emissions based on how far business owners would otherwise ship products, or you might help decrease packaging waste and production emissions. Chances are your hometown businesses want to keep their environment clean, too! When it comes to environmental consciousness, what’s most important is making good choices. It takes some commitment to do it well, but it isn’t difficult. With the four steps listed above, you will be well on your way to a cleaner, greener home.
  20. With so many cars, machines, and chemicals involved in our everyday lives it's no wonder that the earth is starting to show signs of distress. And not only is Earth sending up red flags, but our wallets are weeping in despair because our mechanized, chemical rich lifestyles are expensive. But what can be done about it? Here are some great tips to keep both your budget, and Mother Earth happy. Tip #1: Distilled Vinegar Common household cleaners are expensive and chocked full of harsh chemicals that destroy the earth. Distilled vinegar is an unsung hero in the cleaning world. It's cheap, natural and a powerful disinfectant. Put it in a spray bottle or soak a rag in it to clean glass, tile, counter tops, walls, grout and more. Improve its smell and cleaning effects by adding lemon juice, and/or baking soda. These natural products are, cheap, earth-friendly, hypoallergenic and totally safe to use around your kids and pets. Tip #2: Conserve Water There is only so much water in the world and your water bill could be draining your wallet every month. Cut down on water usage and expenses by either purchasing a low-water toilet or by simply filling a water bottle with rocks or sand and putting it in your toilet tank. This will cut back on how much water your tank uses to flush the toilet saving you money, and saving the world one flush at a time. Tip #3: Go Solar Power and gas bills are astronomically expensive and excessive usage damages the earth. With an upfront investment you can convert to solar power-- saving money in the long run and doing Mother Nature a little favor. Companies like Degree C Pty Ltd offer solar powered alternatives for hot water systems. These typically last longer than traditional designs. Cut your gas bill every month and reduce the amount of natural gas harvested by letting solar power your home. It’s easy to think the little changes you make won’t make a difference in the grand scheme of things, but it’s the simple steps that can often make the biggest impact. Going green can be the most cost effective change you make. Reduce waste, cut harsh chemicals, and lower your power and water bills by using these easy tips. You’ll watch your wallet get fatter as your carbon footprint gets smaller.
  21. Our homes are expressions of our personalities and anchors of our place in the world. We innately strive to make them beautiful and fitting to our style. Remarkably though, many of us are so focused on cosmetic appearances, that we overlook things that make a home truly enjoyable. True comfort in a home is directly linked to its functionality. Making smart home improvement choices can reward us with more than surface pride but give us a deep sense of contentment. A Better View Consider choosing energy-efficient windows instead of single-paned, uninsulated windows. Environment control becomes much easier and cost-effective to maintain, no matter if in cold or warm climates. Since double and triple pane windows also require sturdier frames, designers are able to create larger areas of glass without compromising structural integrity. Outdoor visibility and natural light become major players in day-to-day life. A feeling of openness is achieved, while maintaining consistent, comfortable temperatures and even lessening the need to flip on a light switch. The right windows from Window Planet can make your home more beautiful and eco-friendly. Standing Strong Another element that plays a huge role in the aesthetics of a home is our choice in flooring. Because of its warming effect and hypoallergenic nature, wood is very popular. Among the seemingly endless varieties though, bamboo clearly stands above the rest when considering efficiency, durability and style. Because bamboo grows so quickly, up to three feet in a 24-hours, it is merited with being a top eco-friendly building material. It can tolerate a much broader span of environmental differences than most of it counterparts whether they be wood, stone or tile. Each of which is more sensitive to humidity and temperature changes. This adaptability and today's every increasing selection makes bamboo a winner. Wooly Warm As wonderful as bamboo flooring may be, there are those who simply prefer the soft and cushiony feeling of carpet. Instead of committing to installing wall-to-wall carpet, try large area rugs. Wool offers the warmest and most eco-friendly production process and is wonderfully sound reducing. It is a particularly good for those living in colder climates because a wool rug may make a room feel warmer. A Steady Stream One area that simply cannot be ignored when creating an efficient yet stylish home, is how we get water. Faucets and shower heads are the jewelry of our kitchens and bathroom, but are also the hardest working fixtures in a house. When the flow of water is inconstant or messy, it is not only annoying but also wasteful. Steady more even water steams that use less water can be achieved with low-flow fixtures that have aerator adapters. The Best Flow The mention of water usage automatically brings the massive amounts required for toilets to mind. This is one of the major areas that can be made more efficient. One of the easiest ways to do this is by installing a toilet with an eco-flush system. These use less water for liquid waste but allows for larger amounts when needed for solids. They have been mainstream in Europe for years and have become much more readily available with suppliers in the United States. Making a home both beautiful and efficient has many pay-offs. Not only will it be a joy to live in, but with just a bit of attention and forethought, it can be functionally and economically efficient as well as beautiful. Ultimately, it is well worth the conscious effort for a better more comfortable home.
  22. There are few things that can make a home more inviting and pleasant to be in than a wonderful scent. Of course, everything from the kids' smelly shoes and your pets to grease from cooking and more can impact the smell of your home. Many people go to great lengths to overcome these smells and to improve the odor in their space. For example, it is common to spray air fresheners, to use deodorizers on your carpeting and even to light candles in various rooms in the home. While these are common steps to take, aromatherapy may actually be a healthier solution. The Toxins in Air Freshening Products Many air fresheners and other related products contain ingredients that are harmful to the environment as well as to your health. For example, most contain benzene, styrene, formaldehyde and phthalates. Some of these are known carcinogens. Others can increase hormone levels, cause reproductive issues, negatively impact the development of a fetus and more. Different air freshening products contain different levels of these ingredients, and some will opt to use products that have a lower level. However, a better option may be to forgo these products altogether and to opt for aromatherapy instead. What Is Aromatherapy? While most common household air freshening products use harsh, dangerous chemicals to make your home smell great, aromatherapy can produce the same aromatic results by using natural plant extracts and essential oils. These may be some of the same oils and extracts that you may use in your massage oils and bath products. The practice of aromatherapy describes the combination of art and science that come together to create a harmonizing, pleasant and healthy experience for the mind, body and spirit. Gary Young is a leading advocate of aromatherapy, and he has authored many books on the topic that go into great detail about his own health experiences with aromatherapy. How to Use Aromatherapy in Your Home Aromatherapy may most commonly be thought of in relation to making your home smell good, but there are true health benefits associated with aromatherapy as well. Each oil and various combinations of oils can be used to create different and healthy results for you. They have the ability to affect your mood, improve your physical health and help you to feel more spiritually balanced. Choosing oils is the first step to take to enjoy aromatherapy. You should spend time researching the effects each one may have on you. For example, lavender has qualities that will help you to feel more balanced and soothed. Rosemary can be both invigorating and warming. Sweet orange has uplifting, cheerful properties. These and other oils can be incorporated into your home individually or separately to create the healthy results you desire. While you want to choose a scent or a combination of scents that you find appealing and pleasing, you also should be aware of the impact they can have on your mind, body and spirit. Everyone wants a home that smells fresh, clean and pleasant, but daily activities and regular use of the home can often produce odors that are unappealing. Using air freshening products that you purchase at a local store can be effective at making your home smell better, but these products are bad for the environment and can have unhealthy effects on you and your family. The essential oils used in aromatherapy are a better option because they are natural, safe and healthy, and they are also equally as effective at making your home smell great. If you are looking for a great way to improve the odor in your home without creating an unhealthy environment, aromatherapy may be the right solution.
  23. Going green is a trend that isn’t going away anytime soon. More and more people are incorporating a lot of great green initiatives into their daily life to make a difference for their planet. Many people think, in fact, that there is not much more they can do to go green. Even though it seems like there is not much the average person can do, there are a lot of new an uncommon ways to save the planet and its resources. Anyone can try to add these practices into their daily lives. Here are six new ways to go green you haven’t tried yet. Get a better energy provider Every year there are more and better options for green energy from some of the most popular companies in the business. Everyone should reevaluate their options and compare energy rates every year to make sure they are getting the best price for the best, cleanest energy they can get to their home. Make your own green products There are a lot of good options for green products on the market today. However, many of these products are quite expensive and most still use a lot of valuable resources in the manufacturing process. Instead, try doing some DIY to make homemade products, trying out everything from cleaning products to beauty products. Ditch all plastic A lot of plastic is used and wasted in the world every day. This is a major issue that many people cannot seem to get away from. Though using no plastic whatsoever may not be possible every day, everyone can make big changes to use less plastic regularly, like switching to paper or reusable bags at the supermarket, as a most basic example. Try CO2 dry cleaning There is a new dry cleaning method that is hitting most major chains around the world. This method uses cleaner practices that create no carbon dioxide to keep the air clean and everyone’s clothes clean as well. This is still a new method, so make sure to ask the local businesses if they are able to get it at their establishment. Make the home smarter Smart homes used to be just a futuristic fantasy. Today, smart homes are becoming a very real possibility to many people, to some extent. Everyone can make their home smarter by helping it use the least amount of energy every day automatically. A couple basic changes to make are installing an automatic thermostat and a universal power controls to help the home use less energy without home owners having to even lift a finger. Find a new way to use animals to benefit the planet Though many people reduce their consumption of animal products already to reduce pollution, there are other ways to use animals to the benefit of the planet. Many people are opting to let animals, like goats and sheep, to mow down their grass. This may sound bizarre, but it is a practice that more people are getting on board with.
  24. There are a number of different ways you can conserve energy in your home, but one of the most effective ways is to invest in Low-E windows and even different window treatments. Like many other energy conservation efforts, these changes require a bit of an investment upfront; however, the payoff down the road is well worth it. Low-E windows are an innovative product that just recently became available on the market while window treatments have always been an option for regulating the temperature of your home. Consider the benefits of these treatment options, and decide what works for you. Low-E GlassLow-E or Low-Emissive glass is a type of window glass that has been treated with a special coating to support energy conservation. The treatment is typically an invisible metal or metallic oxide coating that creates a surface that reflects heat but still allows light to pass through. To measure the energy efficiency of the window glass in your home, the heat that passes through is measured by the U-factor or ultraviolet light. The lower the U-factor is, the more energy-efficient the glass is. If too much of this ultraviolet heat enters your home, it heats it up and causes your air conditioning bill to go up. Conversely, Low-E glass reduces the heat lost through your windows during window. Loosing less heat means that you’ll pay less to keep your home warmer. To get the most out of your Low-E glass, you need to consider how the pains should be installed. If you live in a warmer climate, install the pane so that the Low-E coating is toward the outside of the window to block the sun. However, if you live in a colder climate, adjust the installation so that the Low-E coating is applied to the inside of the window and holds heat in. These installation techniques ensure that your windows will be as energy-efficient as possible. Window TreatmentsThere are additional options that can also contribute to the energy efficiency of your home. While most people consider window treatments and coverings strictly decorative, they can actually contribute a great deal to energy savings. As you consider your window treatments, be sure to carefully weight your options to select treatments that can reduce heat loss in the winter and heat gain in the summer. Some of the most effective custom window treatments include awnings, blinds, and draperies. Awnings can provide significant energy savings. Attached above south-facing windows, awnings can reduce solar heat gain by up to 65 percent. Used on west-facing windows, the gain reduction is roughly 77 percent. Consider installing an awning that covers one window or the entire side of your home to get the biggest benefit. Interior and exterior blinds are another great option for increasing energy efficiency. Interior blinds offer slightly less protection from heat loss; however, they reduce heat gain by nearly 45 percent. Use these systems to control light and ventilation and to block direct sunlight. Exterior blinds are also effective for reducing heat gain. You can manipulate this type of blind to block the amount of light flowing through to reduce additional heat. Draperies also offer protection against heat loss and gain. If this is a conservation effort you plan to implement, consider the type of fabric you select. Medium-colored draperies with a protective plastic backing can reduce heat gain by 33 percent and heat loss by up to 10 percent when drawn at the appropriate times. For maximum efficiency, attach the drapes so that they reach from ceiling to floor and overlap in the center. You may even consider attaching Velcro to the sides nearest the walls to create a seal. The type of windows you have as well as the window treatments you use can contribute significantly to the energy efficiency of your home. To reduce heat gain and loss, consider installing Low-E glass and selecting appropriate window treatment options for your area. Either way it will be an investment with a great payoff in the long run.
  25. Keeping our homes clean on a regular basis can mean the difference in being healthy vs. being sick. Many homeowners realize this, however because so many people lead busy lives, rarely do they take the time needed to maintain a clean home. A recent study by the National Center for Healthy Housing found that a sizeable majority of those surveyed did not realize that living in a dirty environment can actually contribute to the development of certain illnesses, such as allergies, asthma or even cancer. The problem for many property owners is that they just do not know exactly what it takes to foster a clean, healthy home environment. Thankfully, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently published a set of guidelines for attaining a healthy home. Here are the 7 steps that they suggested in their report: 1. Maintain a Dry and Mold-Free Home. • Clean and preserve gutters and downspouts on a routine basis. This helps to avoid any water buildup, while preventing mold growth. • Repair all water damage in walls and ceilings immediately. If you notice water gathering at the foundation, be sure to dry it immediately. • Routinely check all appliances and plumbing components for water leakages. Repair and dry them as quickly as possible. • Regularly inspect floor drains. 2. Maintain a Clean House. • Dust with a slightly moist cloth frequently. • After dusting, use a HEPA filtered vacuum cleaner from a reputable company, such as Miele or Riccar. • Emphasize using non-toxic cleaners, such as baking soda, borax, lemon juice, and vinegar. • Do not use artificial fragrances. These release toxic chemicals and VOCs into the air, where they can cause health problems. • Regularly clean the oven, air-conditioning system, hot water heater, and heater according to manufacturer recommendations. • Routinely clean the refrigerator exhaust fan and drip pan. • Frequently clean the lint screen and clothes dryer vent. • Use floor mats at the inside and outside of all access points to the house. • Do not permit anyone to wear shoes inside the house. 3. Guarantee Optimal Indoor Air Quality. • Invest in a HEPA air cleaner from a reputable brand, such as Austin Air or Amaircare. • Remove all possible sources of contaminants. • Do not allow smoking in the home or near open doors and windows. 4. Maintain Proper Ventilation. • Guarantee that all appliances have proper ventilation (especially gas stoves). • All bathrooms with showers should have an exhaust fan to help reduce humidity levels. Every time you shower, make sure to turn on the fan. • Along with proper air filtration, open windows and doors when the air outdoors is clean. Ventilation helps disperse any contaminants, while introducing fresh air into the home. 5. Control Vermin. • Consistently examine the home for signs of cockroaches, mice, snakes, and other bugs and rodents. • Fill all foundation cracks and openings with caulk, foam, and cement. • Avoid pesticides. If need be, hire an expert that employs integrated pest management (IPM). Also, try to use non-toxic pesticides if and when possible. 6. Foster a Safe Environment. • Set the water heater temperature level to 120 degrees. • Install non-slip mats and grab bars at baths and showers. • Set up non-slip pads under movable rugs. • Use nightlights wherever it is dark. • Quickly replace damaged electrical cords and outlets. • Frequently examine smoke and carbon monoxide gas detectors. • Test for radon. Radon kills over 21,000 people in the U.S. alone each year. • Check the house for peeling paint. Strip and repaint immediately using non-toxic/low VOC paint. 7. Keep the Home Maintained on a Regular Basis • Have the home professionally inspected every year. • Repair all foundation cracks and holes quickly. • Replace broken windows promptly. • Keep the roof in optimal condition. • Change HEPA filters per the cleaner instructions • Replace heater filters every quarter. • Pump the sewage-disposal tank at least every 5 years. Enhancing Your Indoor Air Quality. As property owners, we want to believe that making sure ideal air quality is easy. The reality is that so many building and furnishing products on the market are actually some of the worst air contamination offenders. There is no doubt that this kind of contamination can impact health, particularly in children, the elderly and pets. The reason why certain HEPA air cleaner brands are so popular, such as Austin Air, is that they efficiently remove hazardous airborne contaminants and provide a clean, safe breathing environment. In fact, parents who are concerned with their family's health and well-being should give careful consideration to using a HEPA air cleaner in the home. In addition to following the recommended healthy home guidelines, consider investing in a HEPA air cleaner today and guarantee optimal air quality for years to come. Resource(s): A Healthy Home for Everyone: The Guide for Families and Individuals