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LizzieWeakley posted a blog entry in Lizzie Weakley's Green BlogAmericans spend $130 billion each year on wasted energy. Energy wastage not only takes a bite of out of your wallet but also harms the environment by producing unnecessary greenhouse gasses and pollution. If you're concerned that your home is an energy pit, here are four telltale signs that you're using too much. Your Bills Are Too High The first and most obvious sign that your home is wasting energy is that your monthly utility bills are higher than they should be. Many power companies include a chart on your bill or through their website that shows how your home's energy usage stacks up against the average and against homes similar to yours. If your utility provider doesn't offer this service, give them a call or compare your bill to neighbors with similarly sized homes. You Wait for Hot Water If you're like most homeowners, you turn on your shower or sink faucet and wait for ice-cold water to warm up. All those gallons of water going down the drain add up over time, but there are two effective solutions. One option is to hire a plumber with water heater installation experience to swap out your old tank for a new tankless model, which is the most efficient type of water heater on the market. An easier and less expensive solution is to install a recirculating pump in your existing unit. Your HVAC Runs Constantly The hum of your HVAC unit means your home is staying comfortably warm or cool, but it shouldn't be running all the time. If you almost never hear silence from your heating or cooling system, that means the unit is having trouble keeping up and constantly using energy. You may need to replace the unit with a larger one or improve your home's insulation. You can also consider a more efficient type of unit like a heat pump system. You Have Energy Vampires What's scarier than a blood-sucking monster? An energy-sucking appliance. You may not realize that your coffee maker, television or toaster is sucking power even when the off switch is flipped. Slay these energy vampires by unplugging them when not in use or use power strips that you can switch off to cut the electricity supply. Remember, your home isn't the only source of wasted energy in your life. Consumer products are also a large contributor, so choose low-waste materials like recycled products, paper and cardboard over those that use more energy to produce.
LizzieWeakley posted a blog entry in Lizzie Weakley's Green BlogWhen choosing how to adorn the windows in your home, you may think the only differences between the various options are aesthetic differences. However, different window coverings make a big difference in your home's energy efficiency, as well. Since it's good to save energy however you can, both to save money and help protect the environment, careful consideration should be given to the energy-efficiency of the window coverings you choose. To help you decide, here are a few ways that the choice of window decor affects your home energy use. Curtains There are a wide variety of curtains available, some of which do very little to affect your home's energy use one way or the other. However, certain types of curtains are specifically made to help make your home more energy-efficient. These are sometimes called "thermal curtains" or "black-out curtains." Essentially, these curtains are made from heavier material that makes them nearly impervious to light. Between their light-blocking capabilities that help control sunlight and their heavier fabric that helps keep hot and cold air by the window instead of releasing it into the room, these types of curtains are quite effective at helping you use less energy in your home. Roller Shutters Unlike most types of window coverings, roller shutters are mounted on the exterior of your windows instead of the interior. As such, roller shutters provide an especially effective method of preventing outside air from entering your home. By creating a seal around the window opening, roller shutters essentially act as a third layer of glass, keeping your home nice and comfortable. An added bonus is that roller shutters provide a solid barrier against potential intruders, thus protecting your home from crime in addition to protecting you from discomfort. Blinds Though the nature of blinds, with their multiple slats, means that blinds aren't as effective at temperature control as other window coverings, they can still create a meaningful thermal barrier that helps to maintain the temperature in your home when they are closed. For maximum effectiveness, of course, it's important to shut the slats tightly to minimize the gaps between the slats and help trap the conditioned air inside your home. Window Tinting Window tinting is an especially intriguing window treatment option, as you can still add other layers of window decor on top of this option to create an especially efficient window. The main advantage of window tinting is that it cuts down on the amount of sunlight that can enter a specific room, meaning the sun's rays can't heat up the interior surfaces as quickly, thus keeping the room cooler. If you have windows that get direct sun at any point throughout the day, this can result in significant energy savings over the course of a summer. Though various types of window coverings can help lower your home's energy use, there's no substitute for new windows when it comes to keeping your home comfortable. Therefore, if you can combine new windows with one or more of these other solutions, you'll end up with an especially efficient system that will make a noticeable difference in your energy bills.
LizzieWeakley posted a blog entry in Lizzie Weakley's Green BlogWhile your energy usage should go down once the weather starts to cool off, your energy bills might still be much higher than necessary. With a few simple home upgrades and some basic maintenance, you should be able to improve the efficiency of your home while reducing your carbon footprint. Insufficient Insulation Many homeowners never even think about their insulation until their electric bills skyrocket. Most insulation should last for at least 15 years, but yours might become damaged before that time. If your insulation is matted or torn, then it needs to be replaced with new batts or blow-in cellulose. Before you invest in new insulation, you must determine the correct R-value for your climate. Using the proper insulation will greatly increase your family’s comfort while minimizing your electric bills. A Faulty HVAC System Older HVAC systems tend to be very inefficient, and there may come a point when you need to consider professional HVAC services. An experienced contractor will be able to improve the efficiency of the system and check it for any signs of damage. As a general rule, you should try to schedule a service call with an HVAC contractor at least twice a year. Regular maintenance will increase the lifespan of your HVAC system and help you avoid a catastrophic breakdown. Old or Damaged Wiring In addition to being extremely dangerous, damaged wiring can also be a major energy drain. When a wire is damaged, much of the electricity will be turned into heat, and that is highly inefficient. A few of the most common signs of a damaged electrical system include flickering lights, frayed wires, discolored outlets, and a buzzing sound in the walls. Those types of issues should only be taken care of by an experienced electrician who is fully licensed and insured. Inefficient Windows When the weather cools down, you want to be sure that your home can trap in warm air. If you have an older house, then you should think about upgrading the windows. Modern windows often have multiple layers of glass and plastic, and that makes them highly efficient. You will also need to make sure that you use heavy curtains that block out cold drafts. Another step that you can take to improve the efficiency of your home is to reverse all of your ceiling fans during the fall and winter months. When a fan is turning clockwise, it will draw the cool air in the room up and disperse the warm air that is collecting near the ceiling.