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Found 11 results

  1. The rising cost of energy is a big concern for many people. While energy usage is continuing to be more expensive, there are now many ways that the average person could cut back on the amount of energy that they use. There are five tips in particular that all people could follow to cut their energy usage. Home Automation One of the best things that you could do to save on energy costs would be to use a home automation system. Home automation systems will turn electronics on and off when they are not in use, will automatically change the temperature in your home when you are away and will provide you with certain controls remotely. All of these can help to reduce your energy usage. Use Vents Strategically Another great way to reduce your energy costs is to avoid heating and cooling rooms that you do not use. If you have extra bedrooms or living space that are rarely in use, keeping these rooms at a comfortable temperature can be very expensive. One of the best things that you could do would be to close the vents to these rooms and seal the windows as this will prevent air flow into these rooms and will reduce your energy costs. Change Temperature One of the biggest ways that people waste their energy dollars is by cooling or heating their home too much. While all people have a desired temperature in their home, those that are willing to raise their thermostat a few degrees during the summer or lower it during the winter could reduce their energy bills by a significant margin. New Window Treatments Installing new window treatments can also help you to reduce your energy bills. Window shutters, such as those from companies like Litemaster Blinds & Awnings can help to keep your home cool in the summer months and warm in the winter months by retaining the current temperature in your home. Unplug Electronics Finally, simply unplugging certain appliances will be able to cut your costs. Minor appliances and electronics including microwaves, coffee machines, phone chargers, and other small items all use a little bit of energy even when they are not in use. By unplugging them you could cut your energy bills. While cutting your home energy usage could help to reduce your bills on a monthly basis, there are other benefits as well. Reductions in energy usage could also extend the life of your furnace and air conditioner and is much better for the environment.
  2. Saving money on your energy bills may be a year-round goal. Many homeowners try to curb consumption through an adjustment of their own behaviors. For example, you may try to turn out the lights when you are not in a specific room. However, these types of actions have minimal impact on your energy bill, and you may be frustrated by the lack of results that you are generating. If you want to see a major improvement in your energy bill, consider making these important changes. Upgrade Your Old HVAC System If your HVAC system is more than 10 or 15 years old, it may be consuming much more energy than it needs to. Newer HVAC systems installed by a company like Logan A/C & Heat Services Inc. may have enhanced energy-saving capabilities, and you may notice the difference in your energy bill the first month after it is installed. A side benefit associated with upgrading your HVAC system is that your repair bills may decrease as well. In fact, many HVAC systems are sold with a warranty that lasts for at least the first few years. Use Smart Home Technology Smart home technology is mostly considered to be a convenience feature, but it can save you money in several ways. For example, you can link automatic blinds to it, and you can close the blinds during the peak of the day in the summer to keep heating to a minimum. You can also adjust your thermostat through this technology to minimize HVAC system use. Install New Windows A considerable amount of energy loss can take place through your windows. Very old windows may only have a single pane of glass that is not energy efficient. Older double-pane windows may have had cracks in the gas seals, and this can decrease energy efficiency as well. New windows may have a solar reduction glaze or film, and some have a triple-pane feature that adds another layer to buffer the temperature differential between the interior and exterior of the home. Closing blinds during extreme weather conditions can also reduce energy loss. Replace Your Insulation Another excellent idea is to remove old fiberglass insulation and install spray-in foam insulation. Fiberglass insulation is not as energy efficient as foam insulation. Furthermore, old fiberglass insulation may slouch down in the wall or may even be eaten by pests. Making an upgrade to your insulation can trap more of your climate-controlled air inside your home. While these projects are rather significant, they can each help you to drastically reduce energy consumption. In some cases, you may find rebates or special offers to help you save money on these upgrades and improvements.
  3. You may be surprised to hear that private homes account for over 40 percent of all energy consumed within the United States. If you are ready to cut back on your family's energy consumption and start saving on monthly bills, then take a look at these five affordable upgrades with an excellent return on investment. Tankless Water Heaters An older water heater can be one of the biggest energy consumers in a home because they keep an entire tank of water hot at all times. Tankless water heaters (on-demand water heaters) only heat water as it is needed, and this means lower gas or electricity bills and a home that never runs out of hot water. Light Tubes Everyone should upgrade to compact fluorescent lights at some point, but another simple way to save on lighting is to have light tubes installed. These simple tubes can fit around important structural components of a home and provide light to any room. Window Treatments Anyone with windows that are more than a decade old should consider upgrading their treatments to improve the insulation of their home. Studies show that older residential window treatments cost the American public $35 billion a year. Newer treatments will provide a home with additional layers of insulation to keep UV rays out during the summer and warm air in during the winter. Foam Roofing Older roofs are another major problem when it comes to energy efficiency. Foam roofing, available from places like Armstrong Installation Service, is nearly 500 percent more efficient than traditional roofs and provides much better protection from moisture. This relatively new technology works on a variety of roof types including flat and sloped roofs. This foam can also be sprayed around solar panels and other structural components. Trees Planting a few perennial trees will not only improve the appearance of your property, but it could also cut down on your HVAC bills during the summer. Placing these trees near windows will allow them to act as a windbreak as well as shade those areas from the sun. Having an energy efficient home no longer means that you and your family must do without modern amenities. Often all it takes is a few simple upgrades to make serious improvements with your home's carbon footprint. This includes utilizing new technology such as tankless water heaters, wall insulation, and new window treatments.
  4. In today’s world, keeping costs down is important and this is especially crucial for new homeowners. If the utility payments get out of hand, it is very easy to fall behind on all your bills. To alleviate some of the utility costs, consider what you can do and what tools can be used to make your home more energy efficient. Here are some tips for cutting back on energy use and how to make life at home a lot easier. Energy Audit Every homeowner who wants a more energy efficient home should consider a professional energy audit. While you can conduct one yourself, the professional may hit on areas you have overlooked. They start by checking your home for air leaks and making sure you have the proper insulation installed. While doing this, they will be certain that the home is ventilated properly to prevent harmful toxins from getting back into your home. Further study will be done on all systems in the home, including appliances, the heating and cooling system, and lighting. Energy Star Appliances Should you choose to not have an energy audit done, the first step in using less energy is to install Energy Star certified appliances in your home. This includes the refrigerator, freezer, washer, dryer, stove, and dishwasher. Many homeowners tend to forget about the hot water tank as they often do not think of it as an appliance. Appliances with the Energy Star certification will operate on the lowest energy possible. Appliances on receive this label if they pass the government standards for energy use. Heating and Cooling System Outdated systems or systems that are not properly maintained will use more energy. Anything over 15 years old, you may want to consider replacing. However, even a new system must be properly maintained in order to be at its most efficient. Filters should be cleaned or replaced regularly and ductwork cleaned prior to using at the beginning of a season. This can be done by scheduling an inspection of your system by a professional. The above steps are a great start in making sure your home is energy efficient. You may also wish to replace lightbulbs with Energy Star certified ones and after putting all the time and effort into making it efficient, protect your home and investment with an ADT security system. Your home should be considered like a business. Keeping the costs low will put more money in your pocket and allow you and your family to spend it on the things you enjoy. Make sure the investments you put into yours are worth it.
  5. The desire to create a greener office space is driving business owners to re-think office organization and to institute protocols that make the most of materials and energy usage. A number of systems can be integrated into the average office to use less energy, lower the amount of emissions, improve work efficiency and provide a healthier environment for workers. Recycle Paper Even in the computer age, the amount of paper that is generated creates a problem for disposable and a waste of previous resources. Systems should be put in place to recycle paper products of all types. Paper and boxes can be re-used within the office system and ultimately placed in containers that can be picked up by local recycling companies. Go Energy-Efficient Take a close look at how the office uses energy throughout the day. Using energy efficient light bulbs can save hundreds of dollars. Make sure areas that are not used throughout the day, such as storage rooms, have motion-sensitive lighting that turns off automatically. Choose the Right Office Furniture Office furniture that utilizes materials responsibly and does not add to the accumulation of volatile organic compounds in interior spaces can be an important step in making your office space greener. Emissions coming from synthetically-produced parts should be minimized to prevent reactions to the chemicals and long-term health problems. Some companies, like Affordable Business Interiors, know that furniture should also be recyclable, that is, it should break down easily into component parts that can be re-used in other ways. In this way, your office can comply with the highest standards of creating a green interior environment. Turn Off Computers and Equipment Computers are often left on, even when people have left the office. This habit results in a waste of electricity that adds hundreds of bills to utility bills each year. Workers should be encouraged to use “sleep” settings on the computer for daytime use and shut them down completely during the night hours. Add Natural Plants Natural plants create a more natural atmosphere that improves working conditions. Not only are plants visually pleasing and remind workers of outdoor spaces and recreational activities, but they also add oxygen to the air, which increases healthy breathing and neutralizes some of the toxic gases that build up in offices from synthetic materials. Hardy plants only require a minimum of care, yet they provide many benefits for those who work in the areas where they are located. Going green is a growing trend in today’s offices that not only makes sense for the bottom line but can also improve work environments for employees to achieve greater productivity and worker satisfaction.
  6. All families should be interested in saving on their energy costs, but it can be difficult for some to achieve these savings during the winter. Energy costs are going to naturally go up as the temperatures cool down, but there are still several ways you can save some money. If you follow these four tips, then you should be able to live comfortably in your home, while still saving a few dollars each month this winter. Lower Water Heater Temperature Most people have their water heater temperature set higher than they actually need. Setting your water heater around 120 degrees Fahrenheit has the potential to save you a lot this winter. It may take slightly longer to get hotter water in the sink and shower, but the savings makes the wait well worth it. Open Curtains during the Day The sun may not come out every day during the winter months, so you need to take advantage of it when it does appear. Opening the curtains to let the sun in is a great way to naturally heat your home without have to spend any money. Make sure to close the curtains and blinds when the sun goes down so you keep all of this extra heat in your home. Turn down Thermostat The cold weather outside may compel you to turn up your thermostat a few degrees, but you need to resist this urge if you want to save money. Keeping your home a few degrees cooler than normal has the potential to save you hundreds of dollars during the winter season. You should have no problem staying comfortably warm in your home if you wear a sweater or bundle up with an extra blanket. Properly Insulate Your energy costs are going to be high enough this winter, so don’t add to your own costs with poor insulation. If you do not have the proper insulation, then the warm air from the furnace will escape your home at a faster rate. This requires your furnace to run longer than it should to make up for the escaping warm air. A local heating company like Cape Fear Air Conditioning & Heating Co., Inc. should be able to direct you to problem areas you might have, and keep your heat pumps running smoothly. There is no reason to be intimidated by the potentially high energy costs this winter. When you implement these four changes into your normal routine it will help your house run a little less energy, and keep you toasty and warm.
  7. In the recent past, doing your part to save the environment meant recycling plastic containers, buying organic vegetables and using canvas tote bags. Today, there are more ways to live green than ever before. In fact, a few simple changes can help you create a greener, healthier home. Here are five decorating ideas to consider. Marry Your Interior and Exterior Home One of the easiest ways to green up your home is to blur the lines between the interior and exterior living spaces. Opening your doors and windows is one way to bring the outdoors inside. If you are planning a home renovation, consider installing a window wall that opens an entire room to the outdoors. Screens allow you to let in fresh air while keeping the bugs and other pests outside. Install Energy-Efficient Lighting Fixtures The right lighting fixtures can give your home an aesthetic appeal that is eco-friendly and functional. Old fixtures use a lot of energy, which can drive up your electricity bills. Replace them with energy-saving fixtures, such as those with Energy Star certification, or even solar-powered models. Replace your standard, incandescent bulbs with energy-saving alternatives such as light-emitting diodes (LED) or compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs. Decorate With Indoor and Outdoor Plants Nothing says green living like live plants. Besides adding beauty to your home, plants from places like Green Smart Decor provide a relaxing outdoor hobby and help reduce indoor air pollution. Choose low-light, low-water houseplants for indoor decorating, and water them with rainwater or water you would otherwise discard. Outdoors, use the right soil and appropriate fertilizers, and water your plants frequently to keep the soil from drying out. Beautify Your Home With Reclaimed Water While luscious greenery is a great way to green your home and lawn, it comes at the price of high energy bills. If you are renovating your home or designing a new one, consider installing reclaimed water solutions. For example, try drainage systems that use rainwater to feed your lawn and outdoor landscaping. Save Water With Artificial Leaf Panels Artificial leaf panels are a good way to green your home without adding to your water bills. In addition to their easy installation and natural appearance, polyurethane panels provide ultraviolet (UV) protection and noise insulation. They are also weather-resistant, pest-free and unattractive to pets. Green Smart Décor offers a variety of panel options including ficus and ivy. "Going green" does not have to mean "going expensive" with solar panels or bamboo flooring. Simple changes like the ones above can make your home a greener, safer, healthier place to live. Begin with small steps and make a commitment to change your habits over time.
  8. With energy costs on the rise along with pollution and traffic congestion, energy-efficient vehicles are excellent investments. Most of us own vehicles and depend on them for daily transportation. It makes sense to get one that can save money while also helping to keep the environment clean. The benefits like environmental friendliness and savings on fuel are well known; however, there are a few other benefits that you may not know about. Lower Costs The cost of gas is not the only expense with which vehicle owners have to contend. Insurance is another significant cost that comes with owning all types of vehicles. Many car insurance companies provide their customers with discounts for owning an energy-efficient vehicle. Some insurance companies even have divisions that are dedicated to policies for eco-friendly vehicles and which provide discounts. Hybrid drivers may also be eligible for good driver and other discounts as well. All major insurance providers offer some sort of discount for drivers of hybrids and electrical cars. Aside from replacing parts like tires and wiper blades, there is not a lot of maintenance needed for electric cars. For one thing, the brake pads last longer since these vehicles use regenerative braking to slow the vehicle down. Regenerative braking converts the energy used in slowing the vehicle into electricity, which is stored in the battery. They Are Safe Hybrid and electric vehicles are as safe as cars that are fueled by gasoline. In the past, concerns have been raised regarding the potential for accidents to cause chemical spills because of the batteries; however, such accidents have not occurred in the decade since these cars first became widely available. Still, it is necessary to take precautions when driving any vehicle, regardless of the fuel source. Eric Harron, a car accident lawyer in Austin, advises all motorists to avoid aggressive driving and to minimize distractions regardless of what vehicle is being driven. They Are Just as Comfortable as Conventional Vehicles When it comes to comfort and ease of driving, there is no difference between an all-gas vehicle and an energy-efficient. Hybrids are able to accelerate and to cruise just as fast on the highway. Most hybrids come with the luxury features expected of modern vehicles. These include navigation systems, keyless start and automatic climate control. Most hybrids are able to move at least four adults in reasonable comfort and some can transport as many as eight. They are a Good Investment The economic aspects of buying an energy efficient vehicle can be tricky. Many experts have deemed hybrids and other fuel-efficient vehicles to be poor investments based on the fuel savings. It is true that the value of a hybrid can fluctuate depending on gas prices. However, one area that many calculations fail to take into consideration is resale value. One 2011 study by Carnegie Mellon University used auction data to show that two energy efficient vehicles (the Toyota Prius and the Volkswagen Jetta TDI) retained thousands of dollars of their value in comparison to gas-only vehicles. More people are turning to hybrids in order to save on fuel and to help protect the environment, which means that there is a greater demand. That demand leads to above-average resale value. The Technology is Not New Even though hybrids and electrical vehicles have been on the market for a while now, many motorists may be concerned about investing in what may be perceived as relatively new technology. The truth is that electric cars were around as far back as the early 20th century. They were among the earliest American-made vehicles. The technology has evolved considerably since then and modern electrical cars are even more efficient and powerful. The benefits above are some of the reasons that hybrids and electrical vehicles are among the fastest growing segments of the auto industry. Furthermore, the popularity of energy efficient vehicles means that there is a wide variety from which to choose. Shop around to find something that meets your needs and those of your family.
  9. Energy waste and misuse is at an all-time high. This poorly coincides with the current state of the economy and job market. Home owners need to carefully conserve both resources and their hard earned money through being energy efficient. Below explains four tips to make your home more energy efficient. Energy Conservation One of the appliances that consumes the most energy is the water heater. Ensure that the water heater temperature is below 120 degrees. This will save energy and avoid potential overheating of plumbing pipes. Make sure that the dishwasher, clothes washer and dryer are energy efficient models. A recent USA Today report revealed that Americans waste 4 billion dollars every year through inefficient clothes dryers. A standard dryer will consume as much as an energy efficient refrigerator, dishwasher and clothes washer. Research by McKinsey & Company in 2009 found that American homes and businesses spend over $130 billion dollars to power standby appliances. If an appliance is not in use, unplug it. Schedule Regular Air Conditioner Tune-ups Most homes need an AC to regulate temperatures and maintain indoor air quality. However, air conditioners consume an enormous amount of energy. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Energy Star certified AC’s are 15 percent more efficient than conventional models and can be installed by companies like Spokane Air Conditioning Installation. If an upgrade isn’t necessary, regularly scheduled AC maintenance will ensure that the unit runs smoothly and will save money in the long run. Most people don’t realize that indoor air pollution can be worse than the outside air. A recent study by the National Institute of Health has shown that cardiovascular health can be improved through air conditioning. Windows According to the National Resources Defense Council, over 30 percent of a home's total heat loss occurs through windows and doors. Replace older single-pane windows with double-pane windows. Check for drafts and seal all window edges and cracks with caulk. Consider using shades or drapes to keep out the heat during the summer and keeping them open on sunny winter days. Light Pollution Light pollution isn’t something to take lightly. According to the U.S. Dept. of Energy, over 30 percent of lighting is wasted. Incandescent lights are very inefficient and over 90 percent of the energy is wasted as heat. Fluorescent lights conserve more energy the longer they are turned on. Most importantly, turn off lights when nobody is in the room. Home owners can conserve energy and save money through upgrading appliances, scheduling AC tune-ups, upgrading windows and reducing light pollution. Through these steps, you will be well on your way to running a more energy efficient home while also saving some cash along the way.
  10. The Main Features of a Green Home

    Green, sustainable building is conquering the world of architecture. It’s no wonder - building homes that are environmentally responsible and resource-efficient is rewarding on many levels. By building homes that are “green” you’re minimizing impact on both people’s health and the natural environment. Image Credit: GJ Gardner What are the main characteristics of a green home? To begin with, it is a building that efficiently uses natural resources and alternative sources of energy. It is a home that preserves the health of its occupants and helps in reducing pollution, waste and environmental degradation. Let’s see what every green home must include in order to be a true, eco-friendly building. Materials used in green building Whenever we build, there has to be some sort of environmental cost. We often use natural materials and expendable energy resources uncontrollably. People think that using only wood, for example, will immediately make their house or lodge sustainable, but this is far from the truth. The first and the most important rule when it comes to materials is: always use sustainable, local materials that are recycled or recyclable. This often means reusing existing materials and reducing waste. Timber can be used in green building too, if it’s locally and sustainably sourced and FSC-certified. Also, the more processed the material is, the more energy was spent (embodied) to produce it. Therefore, green homes should be constructed from materials that have low embodied energy. Alternative forms of concrete are always a better option than conventional concrete, the production of which is responsible for high carbon emissions. Sometimes, even materials we consider “junk” can be used in the construction of a green home: tires, bottles, cans, materials left over from the pre-existing building, etc. Wood from fast growing trees (instead of hardwood), recycled stone, rammed earth, straw bale and mud brick are the traditional materials that most builders turn to nowadays. Clever design for an energy efficient home The design is another important factor in making a building “green”. Sustainable homes are smartly built – which means they are designed to last long, to fit the climate and use all the benefits their environment provides. Passive design almost always involves positioning homes in relation to the sun and shade to reduce the use of electricity. This can be done is several ways: by spatial zoning, orientation, ventilation, insulation, shading, glazing and using thermal mass. The house should be placed on a ground that receives a lot of sunlight in the winter, with large windows facing the sun and collecting “passive” solar power. Prevention of heat accumulation in the summer can be obtained by strategically placing trees, roof overhangs and horizontal slats. A well-designed floor plan can only help in achieving energy efficiency. Also, adding solar panels can save energy even more and make a building truly eco-friendly. Insulation Adding good insulation is a crucial thing in the building process - it is the most effective addition you can make to your home. Insulation, shading and waterproofing can save up to an amazing 45 percent on monthly energy bills.There are lots of insulation options. However, the top sustainable insulation materials are sheep wool, cotton, aerogel, polystyrene and icynene. We know that polystyrene doesn’t sound very “green”, but it’s an outstanding insulator that can be recycled. It brings structural integrity to walls and provides excellent thermal resistance. Wool fibers are perhaps the healthiest and most fire resistant insulation option. Water management A sustainable building must include water saving in addition to energy saving. An excellent way of saving water is rainwater harvesting – collection, filtration and use of rainwater. This reduces the need for main water supplies and can lead to significant economic and environmental benefits. Rainwater is collected in leak-proof tanks and can be used for many purposes. Image Credit: Wikimedia Swimming pools are big energy spenders and a real luxury in water scarce areas. Therefore, modern green homes feature increasingly popular natural pools and ponds. Water in such pools and ponds is cleaned with the help of plants and bacteria and no chemicals are used in the process. One of the steps in being a responsible water consumer includes using products and appliances that save water significantly. Your home must be equipped with adequate plumbing products, sanitary ware and white goods that use less water than others.
  11. No one can dispute that Germany is the world’s leading advocate of solar energy. However, countries like Australia are rapidly progressing in their mission to adopt sustainable energy, as they are beginning to wholeheartedly embrace solar energy. With the Australian government’s decisively enforced ‘Renewable Energy Target (RET)’, a 13 year period has caused 1.2 million homes with solar panels installed on their roofs. In addition to this, development in research has led to an eventual reverse in Australia's reliance on fossil fuels, if the technology can be sustained. The ultimate goal of this scheme is to guarantee that 20% of the country’s electricity is produced from renewable sources by the year 2020. What is great is that solar power magnitude is said to develop even further in the next decade. Australia and Asia aim to increase their rooftop solar panels usage by up to six times in quantity in the next ten years. Similar to the aforementioned scheme, a majority of other mandatory renewable energy targets aim to reach their objective by 2020. These legally binding objectives (in which 67 countries worldwide are a part of), include large scale and small scale schemes which strive to reach the national objective steadily, while simultaneously targeting a range of small and large regions and by applying first, second and third generation technology in these areas. In 2009, the European Commission initiated a renewable energy policy which enforced all member states of the European Union to abide to the ’20-20-20’ targets, which represent 3 main goals, including a 20% decrease in EU greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 levels, raising the share of EU energy consumption produced from renewable resources to 20% and an expected 20% increase in the EU's energy efficiency; all by 2020. The Green Deal is an initiative supported by the government in the UK, which helps people comprehend the energy saving improvements they can personally make on their home, which can be beneficial for a more wide-ranging understanding of the situation on a local and global level. The Green Deal finance loan aims to fund a percentage of the installation costs of micro generation systems at home but is not that productive because costs still remain beyond for the average Brit’s budget. However, times are changing. On a more local scale, to steadily achieve greater results, solar panels have become much easier to maintain in the United Kingdom. Especially with affordable apparatus such as electrical test equipment, which means you can now maintain your micro generation energy system at home with minimal additional assistance. Communities across the country are also making an effort to adopt more sustainable schemes of energy production, such as The Lancaster Cohousing Project based in Forgebank. At a glance, it seems that a mandatory renewable energy target can be a beneficial approach for UK to adopt in various ways, both environmentally and financially. In 2013, British Gas raised gas prices by 8.4% and electricity prices by 10.4%, which on average is a 9.2% rise. With the pressure on the nation in terms of household bills, the prospect of renewable energy has become more appealing to all; not just environmentalists. Countries which have proven the potential for substantial progress over a relatively short period of time are Sweden, Estonia and Bulgaria, which have already exceeded their 2020 goal, 6 years ahead of schedule. This progress is due to a substantial growth in production of wind power. Only time will tell if renewable energy systems in the local community are as reasonable as the promising outcome. The UK still has 6 years to pull something out of the bag, and at the rate technology is developing, who knows what the future holds for everyone.