Site Meter

Reducing Electricity Use in Your Home

Reduce Electricity Consumption

With a stagnant economy and a difficult job market out there, money is tight for many families this winter. For those of us in this situation, we are constantly looking to eliminate unnecessary expenses and cut costs when it comes to those core items and services that we need to buy. We reduce the number of meals we eat at restaurants, we take public transit more and buy gas less, and we decide to postpone a planned trip or vacation.

But savings can just as easily begin at home, as we’ve noted in two recent articles that deal with heat use and water consumption. Now, let’s take a look at another utilities cost that can add up quickly and that we’d always like to reduce: electricity.

Reducing electricity consumption can also help shrink your carbon footprint and make your home a more eco-friendly place. On this note, here are a few tips for reducing your home’s electricity use this year:

Automate Your House

All of us, at some time or another, have left lights on while we weren’t at home. Sometimes this was done intentionally, so as to make the house appeared occupied while we were off on a trip. Other times it was purely accidental. Either way, we can reduce our electricity use by being able to control our lights from afar, whether simply to turn them off or to make the home appear occupied in the most efficient manner. The best way to do this is by installing a home automation system that can be remotely controlled online. Companies like Vivint security can easily do this in a cost-effective manner.

Use Energy-Efficient Bulbs

Energy-efficient light bulbs may be more expensive when it comes to the initial purchase, but their ability to minimize electricity consumption means that your bill will decrease over the long-term. Ultimately, from both an environmental and cost perspective, energy-efficient bulbs are well worth the effort.

Reduce Heat Consumption

For many of us, our heating costs are tied to our electricity bill. This means that reducing the heat consumption in our home can lower our electricity use and our bill as a result. You can do this by adding insulation to your home, installing a smart thermostat, or simply by turning down the temperature a few degrees in the winter.

Unplug Appliances

Government research shows that 40% of the electricity use by appliances and electronics in the home is consumed while these devices are turned off. Some of the top consumers include fixtures such as computers, printers, televisions, sound systems, and cable boxes. Unplugging these devices while not in use can translate into noticeable savings.

These are just a few of the ways to reduce your home electricity consumption. Doing so is not only great for your bottom line, but it also reduces your carbon footprint and fossil fuel dependency. If you’re looking to make your home more eco-friendly, creating an efficient energy policy is certainly a great place to start.

washing dishes vs. dishwasher

Changing our habits to save the environment is an everyday challenge that needs to be met! One topic up for debate is washing dishes by hand versus using a dishwasher to wash dishes.

One solution shows washing dishes in a dishwasher are better because it uses less water than washing by hand. However dishwashers are energy efficient appliances when the rack is full of dishes, dishes not cleaned in advance, using less heat and having a newer model. The other solution shows washing dishes by hand are better than a dishwasher because people use the dishwasher for a handful of dishes and it may not be eco-friendly. This only works with a sink full of water and dishes without using running water to rinse the dishes.

Because there are two answers to this question what is the real solution? Because of the flip flop answers I personally believe the real solution comes from washing habits. The first thing to consider is the time it takes to wash dishes vs. using a dishwasher. Using a dishwasher may be effortless but can be a problem if there are no more clean dishes.

Another consideration is water. Don’t use water to wash each dish. It’s always a good idea, if you have one, to make sure you have an energy and water efficient dishwasher. Dishwashers that aren’t use more water and make hand washing a better option. The energy used to wash dishes is another one. High or heated dry settings use more energy than washing by hand. Taking these considerations and making the effort to change those habits can make washing by hand better than a dishwasher.

keeping your house warm in the winter

Heating costs can be a major problem for a variety of people in the winter. With the rising prices of gasoline and other methods of heating, it is important to understand how to maximize the heating efficiency of your home. There are many different methods available that you should consider and implement whenever possible.

* Install Energy Efficient Windows

Energy efficient windows are designed to absorb as much energy and heat as possible while letting out as little as possible. They are a little more expensive than normal windows but can trap heat in your home much more efficiently. Install these throughout your home to lower your heating bill every month.

* Use Green Insulation

Green insulation is designed to be as energy efficient and ecologically safe as possible. Remove the less efficient and wasteful insulation in your home and install this green installation. It will safely trap heat and energy between your walls without being wasteful. The installation costs will be offset by the money you save in your heating bill every month.

* South Facing Exposure

South facing exposure is the best way to absorb a lot of heat and energy into your home. This is because the south is the area that receives the most sun and heat in your home. Try to situate as many windows and rooms to the south as possible. If you can afford it, place solar panels here too. Use these solar panels to create heat in your home in an efficient and safe manner.

* Tree Insulation

Planting trees around your home is another efficient and beautiful way to keep heat in your home. Trees help blocks wind from blowing against your house. Blowing wind can cause your home to cool down and lose heat much more quickly. Trees also create a natural insulation that traps escaping heat and keeps it around your home.

* Change Thermostat Position

Thermostats help regulate the heat in your home but are inefficient in that they will activate based on their temperature, not the temperature of the rest of the home. This is why it is important to locate your thermostat in a position that isn’t too cold or warm. Storing it near a heater will cause it to warm up a lot quicker and turn off much more quickly.

Many of these methods require expensive installation costs. However, these methods are permanent and will keep your home warm for years.

save water in the home

Water is a limited resource that must be conserved as much as possible. There are many different ways that you can lower the water usage in your home. Consider all of these tips before implementing any of them. It may be worth your time and money to implement all of these tips as they may end up saving you hundreds of dollars.

* Check for Drips and Leaks

Leaks in pipes and drips in the faucet can add up to an incredible amount of water waste. Every faucet or pipe that even drips lightly every few seconds can lose up to 20 gallons of water per day. Even larger leaks can cause hundreds of gallons of water of waste. Fix these leaks yourself or call a plumber to make sure your leaks and drips are stopped.

* Never Use Toilet as Wastebasket

Many people throw used tissues, food items or even cigarette butts into the toilet. They then flush these items down the toilet, wasting five to seven gallons of water with each flush. This is not only wasteful but it can actually cause the toilet to clog, wasting even more water. Avoid this silly practice to save a lot of water every day.

* Limit Shower Length

A long, relaxing shower may feel great but gallons of water are going down the drain with each minute you shower. Try to shower for only 10 to 15 minutes at the most. Enforce this rule in your home with your family and house mates. This may be difficult for some people but try to keep them focused on saving water. At the very least, you can do it yourself if they won’t. Also, look into water-saving faucets and shower heads.

* Install Efficient Faucets

Efficient faucets are designed to be as efficient as possible, letting out only the water you truly need. Buying and installing these faucets is a simple way to regulate your water use. Install them on every sink in your home to make sure people that aren’t committed to saving water do so every time they use a sink.

* Rain Water Collection

One underrated way to save water is to start a rain water collection. These collections take the natural water from rain storms and collect it into a large bin. Boil this water for a few moments to eliminate any potential viruses or bacteria and use it for cooking, bathing, drinking and any other reason you may use water.

Which Hardwood Flooring is Most Eco-Friendly?

eco-friendly-flooring

Building new homes is always going to be a relatively carbon- and energy-heavy endeavor. One of the most important steps in building a new home with an eco-friendly plan in mind, is if you want to have hardwood flooring, and next, what eco-friendly hardwood flooring is the best. These are very important questions to keep in mind as you plan your next home or remodeling event.

One of the absolute best options is reclaimed hardwood flooring. This is reducing, reusing, and recycling at its best. Reclaimed flooring can come from a vast array of sources. Every day, wooden buildings and structures are dismantled across the country. Common reclaimed wood tree species are Oak, White Pine, Hickory, Yellow Pine, and Maple. Reclaimed wood floors often impart a much greater character than new wood floors. This is because reclaimed wood is often aged, or marked with imperfections or marks that give clues to its previous life.

Reclaimed wood, being older and from a different time, can also actually turn out to be very highly sought after and hard to find types of wood like tight grained oak or thick mahogany. However, one should never assume that reclaimed wood is in any way inferior to virgin wood. When reclaimed, companies go over the wood to ensure that it is safe and attractive enough to use as a floor. It then goes through a process that removes previous years of finish and dirt before being refinished, making it perfect for use as a floor.

Green hardwood flooring is an issue that has risen to the forefront of home design. Making sure that the floor you have in your home is environmentally sound is not as hard as it used to be. There are many certified green woods out there. Cork flooring has become very popular as it is an affordable and aesthetically pleasing alternative to hardwoods. However, nothing can beat hardwoods durability and characteristic look.

It is well known now that tropical hardwoods are to be avoided as they are often harvested illegally or from sensitive places whose removal means the destruction of habitat and displacement of endangered species. Here in the United States, some viable and green alternatives are certified by the Forest Stewardship Council as sustainably managed and harvested.

wallpaper-1

Traditionally, wallpaper is removed using harsh chemicals that are as toxic to your lungs as they are to the planet. Now, as more people are making the choice to use healthier products and materials, they want to know how to do home repairs and improvements – all without causing harm to the Earth.

The great thing about this method, is that you probably have all the materials you need to remove wallpaper in your cupboards already! You’ll need: a basic spray bottle, either white or apple cider vinegar, some water, and if you have it, and iron with the steam function.

First, you’ll want to make your removal solution. It’s so easy! Just combine 3 parts vinegar and one part water inside the spray bottle and give it a good shake! Complete. Then, you want to spray the section off wallpaper until it is soaked, letting it absorb for a few minutes until its good and saturated.

Now the fun part! You can start peeling the wallpaper from the top in a horizontal strips – working slowly so you don’t leave tears along the way. If the wallpaper is stubborn, you might need to repeat the spraying as you go along, targeting problem areas. For super resistant wallpaper – try holding the iron close to (but not touching!) the wallpaper and giving at a few shots of steam.

This method may take slightly longer, but you’ll have done the right, green thing, and your respiratory system will thank you!

4532.pantone-color-2012-tangerine-lighting.jpg-550×0

If anyone knows color – its Pantone. Every year, the Pantone Color Institute announces the color for the upcoming year based on trend indicators related everything from fashion to art, music to film and of course, interior office and home design.

Last year, the color was Honeysuckle Rose – a bright and fun pink that managed to show up on the runway and in the homes of millions of people wanting to add a splash of color to their room. This vibrant and engaging reddish orange shade calls to mind deep citrus saturation and summer beach parties.

Executive director of the Pantone Color Institute, Leatrice Eiseman explains the allure of Tangerine Tango.

“Sophisticated but at the same time dramatic and seductive, Tangerine Tango is an orange with a lot of depth to it. Reminiscent of the radiant shadings of a sunset, Tangerine Tango marries the vivaciousness and adrenaline rush of red with the friendliness and warmth of yellow, to form a high-visibility, magnetic hue that emanates heat and energy.”