by Sarah on Tuesday April 15, 2014

waterAs a homeowner, one of your main concerns is often energy and water waste and expenses, Although we try to be conscious of our energy and water use, it is unfortunately very easy for this use to get out of control and expensive if you are not careful enough. Luckily if you make some changes, you can save energy and water. Here are 5 innovative ways to save more water and energy at home.

  1. When washing dishes, consider soaking the dishes in the sink first before washing them. Soaking dishes in hot, soapy water can help to loosen grease and other food that may be stuck onto the dishes. Soaking helps to make it easier to clean dishes completely, while speeding up your actual washing process and reducing how long you need to leave the water running, saving water. If you are able, soaking over night will be the most effective!
  2. Shorten your showers. Often we spend way too much time in the shower than needed. Try to cut this down by timing yourself. A fun way to keep track of time is to play music while you shower. After each song, you will have an idea of how long you have had the water running in the shower. Keep in mind a shower uses 5 to 7 gallons of water per minute, so each minute is precious when it comes to water savings!
  3. In order to save energy, be sure to seal up your home’s windows and doors. Due to climate and temperate changes throughout the year, window and door frames and expand and contract, leaving behind cracks, holes and spaces which will allow drafts to come into your home. Drafts reduce energy efficiency because your HVAC system will have to work extra herd to heat or cool properly. Seal these areas with an indoor caulk that can be purchased at your local hardware store. This is a simple weekend project anyone can do!
  4. Use power strips to plug in your electronics and appliances. Electricity companies like Fraser Electric will recommend this practice as well because it also protects your devices from surges. When it comes to turning off lights and appliances, it is harder to be diligent about saving energy when you have to unplug multiple cords. When you use a power strip you can plug in multiple plugs in one location. This means you can turn all appliances on or off with one simple switch, making it easier and more effective to save power and energy at home.
  5. Finally, fix leaks for water conservation. They may seem like small, harmless drops of water, but these drops add up surpassingly fast! 30 drops per minute waste 3 gallons each day! Reduce waste by taking care of leaky faucets in sinks, showers and tubs immediately when you notice them.

Using these tips will help you to be aware of your energy and water use, while also helping to reduce waste and extra spending. You will not only help the environment, but your wallet as well, so these are changes in your home and lifestyle that you can feel great about!

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by Sarah on Tuesday April 08, 2014

cabinIf you’re someone who is fortunate enough to live in a log cabin year-round, you sure are lucky. Aside from the absolutely gorgeous designs that log cabins have, they are also proven to be eco-friendly, sound-proof and built with the level of quality that will make it a high-priced property should you ever decide to sell it.

In fact, the only challenge that a lot of log cabin owners seem to have is finding ways to better conserve energy so that they can ultimately decrease their electricity and water costs each month. If you can relate to this fact and you’re looking for a few energy conservation tips for log cabin homes, we’ve got five great ones for you below:

Plant more trees. The first recommendation complements most log cabins beautifully. We say that because these kinds of homes simply wouldn’t be complete without the kind of landscaping that has plenty of greenery. That’s why we think that one of the best things that you can do in order to conserve energy at your log cabin is to plant (more) trees. By positioning them in front of your windows, that helps to protect you and the rooms of your house from the sun’s rays, ultimately making the house cooler as a direct result.

Use ceiling fans. If you’re curious to know about a way that you can still keep your home cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter without having to spend a ton of money in the process, our recommendation is that you install some ceiling fans. Not only does it help to increase the air circulation in the various rooms of your house, but by setting them to rotate in the summer, they can cool your house down by as much as five degrees as well. And, by setting them to rotate counterclockwise in the winter, you can pull the heat that has risen up to your high ceilings down closer to where you are.

Change your window treatments. Something else that you can do in order to help conserve energy in your home is to change your window treatments. In the spring and summer, consider putting up some wide blinds to shield the sun. In the winter time, it’s always a good idea to purchase some thermal curtains. They are made out of a fabric that will help to keep the warm air inside, no matter how cold it might be outside.

Decorate with light colors. One of the biggest challenges with a log cabin home is the fact that the wood tends to make things significantly darker inside of each room of the house. Something that you can do to balance that out, just a bit, is to decorate with lighter colors. This would include everything from your window treatments to your throw rugs to your bedding. That way, you won’t have to rely so much on your HVAC unit to keep your house at a comfortable temperature, especially on hot days and nights.

Unplug what you don’t need. Say that you’re looking for some eco-friendly appliances for your home and you come across an article entitled what size AC system is best? As you’re reading on a website like that would feature that kind of information, you will probably also happen upon a piece that talks about how you can save money on energy costs. Within it, one of the things that it would probably tell you is that it’s important to unplug what you don’t need. We say this because there are a lot of us who spend more money on energy bills than we would like simply because we leave our computers or even our cell phone chargers unplugged overnight. However, by simply unplugging them, we can save a few extra dollars each month on energy costs. For more ideas on how to be energy conscious, visit The Daily Green.

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by Sarah on Wednesday March 26, 2014

electricityOne thing that’s a fact of life for all of us is bills. And when it comes to our energy costs, this would include gas, water and electricity. The thing is, sometimes our energy expenses are higher than they need to be simply because we are not aware of the simple things that we can do in order to decrease the costs. The good news is that conserving energy is certainly not hard to do.

If you’d like a few tips on how you can get your gas, water and electricity to cost less each month, we’ve got five effective ones for you below:

Conduct an energy audit. Before you do anything else, the first thing that we recommend is that you conduct an energy audit. The reason why is because if you have water leaks in your bathroom, missing insulation or even appliances that are malfunctioning, an audit will reveal this to you. And the sooner you get these issues corrected, the lower your energy bills will be. For instructions on how to do your own energy audit, visit The Daily Green and put “DIY energy audit” in the search field.

Use natural light more often. Do you have big windows throughout the rooms of your house? If so, why not open up your windows and blinds and let more natural light shine through? Not only will it save you money on your energy bills, but it can give you some much needed Vitamin D too. And, if you’re concerned that keeping your windows open will compromise your privacy, you can always get your windows professionally tinted. That way, you can look outside of them but people on the outside will not be able to look in.

Get a low-flow showerhead and toilet. Are you interested in knowing what you can do to get your water expenses down? When it comes to your bathroom, we recommend that you install a low-flow showerhead and toilet. By purchasing both, you can save many gallons of water each day and ultimately save 30-40 percent on energy costs each year. Plus, you can get both for under $400. It’s a great household investment.

Let things dry naturally. One company that is respected for being a leader in conserving energy is Ambit Energy. In fact, when the company first started and now seven years later Ambit Energy is Thompsons billion dollar baby , a big part of that is because of all of the failsafe ways that the company helps individuals to save energy at home. Well, one tip that Ambit Energy offers is that when it comes to your dishes and clothes, it’s a good idea to let those things dry naturally. By not using the dry setting on your dishwasher and not always relying on your dryer, it’s just one more way to significantly reduce your energy costs.

Have your HVAC unit professionally inspected. And finally, something else that you should do is have your HVAC unit professionally inspected twice a year. The reason why is because if you use your unit on a constant basis, being that it requires a lot of energy, you want to make sure that it’s working at an optimal level at all times. So, before the summer and winter seasons arrive, make sure to call a professional over to look over the unit. It’s just one more proven way to conserve energy at your home.

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by Sarah on Wednesday March 26, 2014

green cleaningIf you’ve embraced the green living movement and you’re looking for ways to make your consumer purchases and your daily routine a little more eco-friendly, you’ll be happy to hear that the products you use to clean your home could definitely help you live up to your ideals. As a bonus, eschewing chemical-laden solvents can make for a healthy environment by removing toxins from your interior air. So there are certainly plenty of reasons to make the switch to green cleaners. And of course, you could always try making your own at home thanks to a slew of recipes online and the ready availability of ingredients like lemon juice, vinegar, olive oil, and baking soda. Unfortunately, this may not be very convenient for the harried, modern homeowner. Good news, though; there are plenty of green cleaning products on the market that could suit your needs. Here are some things you’ll want to look for when shopping for eco-friendly cleaners.

  1. Natural ingredients. What’s in the bottle is generally the most important consideration, so be prepared to read labels. The problem is that unlike the term “organic”, which has very clear legal parameters for advertising purposes, terms like “natural” and “green” have no clear limitations. What this means is that anyone can call their products green without really having to meet any standards for quality or actual eco-friendliness. But by reading the label and understanding ingredients you should be able to suss out which cleaning products meet your needs.
  2. Potency. You definitely want products that work when it comes to cleaning your home, and that could mean removing stains, killing bacteria, leaving a streak-free finish, and so on. And the unfortunate truth is that green cleaners have gotten a bad rap for falling short when compared to their chemical brethren. That said, there are definitely products on the market that are more potent than others, and you can either test them out until you find a brand you like or you can try reading consumer reviews beforehand.
  3. Refills. A large container of product meant for the purpose of refilling smaller containers is generally recognized as an eco-friendly move in manufacturing, mainly because it requires fewer materials to create and it saves on manufacturing, pollution, and waste, even if the container itself isn’t particularly green. So you’ll probably want to try to use brands that offer refill sizes for their products as a matter of course.
  4. Eco-packaging. Many companies that produce green cleaners are committed to environmental protection on multiple fronts, so it’s not that hard to find the recycled symbol on plastic bottles, paper boxes, and more. But if you want to go the extra mile, consider that some companies go above and beyond. Seventh Generation products, for example, boast 96% PCW packaging.
  5. Affordability. Like most green products, you can end up paying a bit more for the benefits you’ll gain when you use eco-friendly cleaning solvents. But with demand increasing, prices are coming down so that many products now cost nearly the same as chemical cleaners. And you can always scour the internet for coupons or wait for sales to pick them up. Of course, you might be the type to hire a cleaning crew to help you out if you’re schedule is pretty full. If you’re going to spend the money on a cleaning crew anyway, you should know that vendors like Brighthouse Luxury Green Home Cleaning can sate your home cleaning needs and your eco-friendly sensibilities simultaneously.

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by Sarah on Monday March 17, 2014

workerIn your efforts to turn over an eco-friendly leaf and save some money on your utility bills in the process, you have probably turned to energy conservation as a simple and effective way of meeting your multiple goals. And yet, you may notice that despite your best efforts your energy usage seems to go up and up over time, taking your monthly bill with it. Or you might find yourself dealing with cold drafts in the winter and hot spots in your home during the summer, even if you break down and turn the HVAC system on full blast. Unfortunately, this probably means that you have some issues with insulation and airtightness in your home. And in order to pinpoint problem areas, your best bet is to conduct a home energy audit. While you can certainly perform most of the associated tasks on your own, there are several reasons why hiring a professional for the job is a good idea. Here are just a few benefits you stand to gain by going pro.

  1. Proper equipment. One of the best reasons to hire a professional home energy auditor is because these technicians have the tools and equipment on hand to make the job quick. You can definitely find tutorials online that offer step-by-step instructions or even videos that show you how to inspect your home and conduct testing, you can’t really hope to get the same definitive results as a pro. After all, professionals have high-tech equipment designed for exactly the types of tasks they’re trained to carry out. So while you’re walking around your house with a candle or a stick of incense, looking for drafts, they can pressurize your home, perform a blower test, and quickly mark any areas where air is being transferred between inside and out.
  2. Expertise. Professional home energy auditors are trained to find areas where energy is being wasted in your structure. They do this not only through inspection and testing, but by asking you to note any problems you have noticed, as well as looking through your past energy bills to assess whether your energy issues have gotten worse over time, if they are seasonal, and so on. They test, analyze, and look at your home from multiple angles in order to make a determination about how you are using energy and whether you can curb your consumption.
  3. Whole-home testing. You may be willing to perform a careful examination of every room in your home, and you might even squeeze into crawl spaces and root through the attic and the basement in search of energy issues affecting your structure. But even with this can-do attitude, you’re not likely to get the same results as a professional auditor, who does a visual inspection, run tests, and uses scanning tools (thermographic) that can look into areas that people can’t.
  4. Precise reporting. Once an energy audit is complete you’ll receive a report that tells you exactly where problems are occurring in your home, including areas of leakage, drafts, and an inability to regulate your interior temperature, amongst other issues.
  5. Suggestions. Although your home energy audit professional is not qualified to fix the problems found during an inspection, you will generally receive some suggestions about how to address the issues plaguing your home on the energy front. You may be advised to add or replace insulation, seal up leaks around windows and doors with weather stripping, and add a programmable thermostat to stop overuse of the HVAC system while you’re at work, just for example. From there you can do some of the fixes on your own and hire a weatherization service like ConserVision Energy to help with the rest. In the end, you’ll have a more energy-efficient home that allows you to lower your electric bill and do your part for environmental protection.

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