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energy efficiency

Energy-efficiency is a way of handling energy needs more sustainability. It doesn’t mean lowering your energy needs, but using less energy to produce the same effects. As a result, human greenhouse gas emissions are reduced and our utility bills are minimized. Making our homes more energy efficient is one of the best things we can do to address global warming and fossil fuel depletion. Financial savings are a more immediate reward for homeowners. Making your home energy-efficient requires significant investment in the beginning and some pretty extensive projects. However, if you are considering it, we’ll give you a few advantages to push you in the right direction.

Improving comfort

As one of the staples of energy-efficient home design, insulation will keep you warm when the weather outside is cold, and maintain a pleasant chilly indoor vibe during the summer. This happens because insulation prevents the warmed or cooled air from leaving your house through thin walls. However, to achieve maximum comfort and savings, you should also seal the air gaps around the doors and windows, and replace your weathered windows for new Energy Star-rated models.

Top 5 Advantages of Energy-efficient Home Design

Image source: freshome.com

Saving money in the long run

Here are some interesting facts about energy efficiency and money savings we’ve picked up from Evergy.gov:

  • By replacing five most frequently used light fixtures or bulbs, you can save about $75 a year.
  • By fixing leaky faucets, you will save 1,661 gallons of water and $35 per year.
  • Low-e storm windows can save up to 33% on heating and cooling bills.
  • Installation of a water heating tank can save up to 16% annually on water heating bills.
  • Replacing an old toilet with a low-flush model can save up to $100 per year.
  • Sealing uncontrolled air leaks around the doors and windows lowers your cooling and heating bills for up to 20%.

Of course, all the actual savings will depend on your home, climate, and other actions you decide to take (e.g., buying Energy Star-rated appliances, reducing electricity use, opting for smart devices, etc.). For example, the factor that contributes to increased energy use in Australia includes high temperatures, which have broken several records in the last couple of years. All this happened while electricity prices were on the rise. Australians had the perfect response and turned to energy-efficient practices.

Top 5 Advantages of Energy-efficient Home Design

Image source: freshome.com

Vanquishing the energy vampires

Do you know what the first step toward achieving energy efficiency in your home is? It might seem at the first glance that it includes buying entirely new appliances, but sometimes that could create unnecessary waste and cause harm to the planet. However, some energy vampires such as old refrigerators are not supposed to be kept in the house, since they use much more energy than new units, because they need more effort to maintain the proper temperature.

Increasing the resale value

Studies conducted since the 1970s have unfailingly established that energy-efficient properties earn a higher resale value than average homes. Today, this is even more important, as millennials are stepping on the house-buying market, and they are believed to be the “greenest” generation of them all.

Top 5 Advantages of Energy-efficient Home Design

Image source: trendir.com

Contributing to a healthier planet

Through energy efficiency retrofits, the average home built decades ago has the potential to reduce the amount of greenhouse gasses it produces by 4.5 tons per year. This is an important step toward reducing the impact of climate change.

As you see, designing your house with energy-efficiency in mind brings a whole set of advantages that can improve the quality of your life, lower your monthly expenditures and make this world a healthier place. What more do you need to know?

Implementing simple green changes to your home is easy and most of us don’t think twice when it comes to installing LED lights or a dual-flush toilet. However, when it comes to going green on a larger scale, such as switching to a renewable energy system, we start thinking about our finances. Yet, we fail to see that even though such an upgrade might require more money initially, it actually offers a high return on investment. Furthermore, you have different systems at your disposal, so you can find one that meets your needs.

Wind Turbines

Although wind turbines aren’t the most common solution for residential areas, wind-generated energy is actually more stable than solar energy. With an appropriately sized turbine, you can meet most or all of your household’s energy needs. Some of the disadvantages of wind turbines are their somewhat unappealing look and noise. However, nowadays, you can find small turbines appropriate for residential use. Nonetheless, before opting for this energy source, make sure that there aren’t any local regulations that prohibit it.

wind turbines
Image Source: econews.com.au

Geothermal energy systems

Geothermal systems are another source of clean, renewable energy generated by earth’s heat. Although this type of system may have a small environmental footprint while being developed, it’s actually quite eco-friendly as it can reduce your home’s carbon footprint significantly by eliminating the need for electricity used for heating or cooling your home. This system consists of geothermal heat pumps (GHPs) that use 25 to 50 percent less energy than regular HVAC systems. Furthermore, the equipment produces no noise and requires little space, so it can easily fit in any home design. If you opt for this type of renewable energy system, make sure to check your property’s geological,
spatial and hydrological characteristics that will determine what kind of system you need.

Solar energy systems

Solar panels are one of the most popular and commonly used renewable energy systems that can boost your home value substantially. Depending on your energy needs, a few square feet of solar panels can be enough. Due to their aesthetic appeal, solar panels work well with modern home designs. They can be placed either on your roof or in your backyard. However, the main disadvantage of a solar system is that it produces energy only when the sun is up. Nonetheless, you can now find solar batteries that can store your excess energy which you can then use when there’s no sun.

home solar panels
Image Source: thegreenage.co.uk

There’s another possible solution if you want to go with solar energy. Solar shingles are becoming more and more popular as they feature a subtler design than solar panels. These are actually photovoltaic roof tiles that are installed instead of regular shingles. Since they resemble regular roof shingles, they can even blend with a more traditional home design. The initial installation may amount to even $20,000, but around 350 shingles can slash your electricity bill by up to 60 percent. In addition, you may find federal, state or local tax incentives that can reduce the cost of installation.

However, if you’re not in a financial situation to go with an entire solar system, you have other options available. For instance, you can go with a solar water heating system to heat your home and water. Solar water heaters are more affordable than solar panels and easier to install. In addition, they can cut your gas or electricity consumption, increasing your savings in the long run. Solar air conditioning is another possible solution that uses solar power to cool down your home. You can actually combine these two systems as they both use hot water.

Hydropower systems

A hydropower system generates energy from a flowing water source. Of course, this type of energy system is available only to homeowners who have such a source on their property. Thus, if you’re one of the lucky few, you should definitely invest in a micro hydro generator because even a small stream can generate steady and clean energy and cover your needs at a price significantly lower than wind or solar.

Renewable energy systems may require a sizeable investment upon installation, but they are a profitable home improvement that will boost your home’s value and increase your savings in the long run.

Given the market price on homes a lot of first time buyers look for fixer uppers to save on the purchase price or do up and flip. No matter what your reason for doing up your home, this is a great way to take stock and see what improvements you can do to make your home more energy efficient.

Follow the list

  • Ensuring the shell of your home is prepared for whatever the season will throw at you would be the first step. Check and see if your walls and roof are insulated, this is the first step to trapping in that warm or cool air.
  • Next check your windows and doors, if you can feel air coming through the gap your warm/cool air is leaking out. Air leakage can account for up to 10% of your heating and cooling bills. You don’t always have to replace the windows and doors in your home, simply sealing up these gaps and cracks will prevent the air escaping. It can be as simple as getting the right sealant from your local DIY store and applying it yourself. Ensure you do your research and use the correct sealant for the material you are working with. If your applying it outside ensure that the sealant you are using is water proof.
  • Once your walls and windows are taken care of look through your home and ensure any loft hatches or fireplaces are correctly sealed up. Fire places are great in winter but can end up costing you during the warmer moths when all the cool air is being sucked out.
  • If you don’t have them already, install celling fans and ensure they have a reverse function so you can use them to circulate cool air in summer and push warm air down in winter. While you’re on the renovating journey get all or your appliances serviced annually to ensure they are working efficiently.
  • Any appliances you find haven’t aged well should be replaced for a more energy efficient model. Save Energy, Save Money (SESM) allows you to not only compare prices on thousands of electrical appliances, you can also compare the energy consumption at the same time. If you’re in doubt you can use the SESM website to compare the annual running cost of your old appliance and the new appliance you wish to buy.

Seek help from experts

If you’re luck enough to be building your own home you should consult a sustainable builder who can talk you through your options for passive cooling and other great design attributes you can incorporate into your new build.

Good Luck renovating and reducing those energy bills!

Julie Moore director of Save Energy Save Money

During summer we spend most of our days outside, hanging out with people or just chilling by ourselves. This is also the time of summer parties and any way you look at it, patio is the perfect place for such events. To make the experience even more comfortable and enjoyable, we can upgrade our patio in many simple ways. When thinking about what you could do to improve the look of your patio, you should choose something that will look nice, be functional and safe, and preferably affordable and low-maintenance. Here are a few of our favourite ideas.

Plants

Although this one is rather obvious, getting plants for your patio should always be your number one task. If you don’t have space to make patio planter pockets, then the easiest way to bring plants in is in container gardens. These can range from small plants to real young trees, like lemon or orange tree, growing in a big flower pot. The best thing about them is that you can keep them indoors all year round and simply take them out to the patio when the weather is warm enough.
Patio plants

Floor cushions

Since you will spend a lot of time on your deck, you want it to be comfy and accommodate many people. In addition to getting soft cushions for your outdoors furniture, you can go a step further and get some floor cushions or even big floor cushion couches, in the Oriental style. Kids will love it and it is a perfect way to relax and chill out outside. Alternatively, you can get a thick rug and put some standard cushions on it, or get a few lazy bags.
Cusions

Hammocks

There probably isn’t a single person who dislikes hammocks. There is just something so inviting and special about them. You don’t need to go to a tropical beach in Thailand to enjoy all the pleasures of a hammock, you can set them up on your patio. There are many versions to choose from – from standard hammock, chair hammock for one person, to hanging chairs. There are even hanging tents if you plan on sleeping outside.
Hammock

Wreaths

Decorative wreaths are a great way to improve the esthetics of your deck. You can make them out of many different kinds of materials, but those made from flowers and branches will look most natural and fit into the outdoors setting perfectly. Luckily, flowers are abundant in summer, so you can use roses or flowers from shrubs like Dogwood, Hydrangeas, Lilacs, Ninebarks and Spireas. DIY wreaths can also be made from old clothes and rags woven into a nice decorative circle, from burlap, old bandanas and cardboard. They can be colored, wrapped in yarn and decorated with small toys and things like cocktail umbrellas.
Wreath

Stones

Arranging stones in decorative patterns on the ground can really create a beautiful setting. You can make various combinations and floor paintings with stones in different colours and sizes. If you don’t mind putting in some extra effort, you can come up with mosaic pathways that will simply look magical.

Stones

All of these simple ideas will transform your patio deck into the coolest place to be this summer, and all you need to add is some music and soft lighting and you are all set for your summer party season. Use it well!

Sun is again high in the sky, days are getting warmer and we all know what that means. Yes, the seasons of vacations is upon us, but it also means that we should give our houses well-deserved and thorough cleaning and cleansing of all the unnecessary clutter. Unfortunately, this most of the time, includes tons of litter and heavy usage of harmful chemicals, but you should be smarter than the rest and try to make your house cleaning as green as possible. There are numerous ways for that and here we will present some of them.

Ditch Chemical Air-Fresheners

No matter how small contribution of chemical air-fresheners in the overall environmental impact may seem, it presents danger. So, in order to minimize toxic waste footprint, swap your regular air-fresheners for more environmentally-friendly alternatives. Try using natural solutions like baking soda, or some home-made replacements based on essential oils.

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Image source: https://pixabay.com

Tackle the Problem of Paper with Grace

We all like to stockpile endless amounts of paper and old magazines hoping that they will prove useful sometimes in the future. The truth is they never do and we end up throwing all that paper to waste. To reduce waste footprint, send all that paper to recycling instead. Also, try to go paperless whenever you can. Online bills and magazines are good place to start.

Make Your Own Cleaning Products

Most chemicals we use in cleaning are efficient but not very environmentally-friendly. All that chemicals can be responsible for eye irritation, respiratory problems, headaches and even infertility. So save some money, be green and make them by yourself. You’ll be surprised to learn that cleaning supplies made out of, say, vinegar and lemon juice can be very efficient means in fighting filth.

Deal with Laundry in More Eco-Friendly Fashion

Did you know that each laundry takes up to 150 liters of water and about 5 kilowatts of energy per hour? That’s quite heavy toll. Try washing your laundry severely soiled or on the cold cycle and dry it outdoors. Put your dryer to use only when it’s absolutely necessary. Separating loads of laundry according to their color or material will not only preserve their look but the energy as well. In addition, do check out other earth-friendly solutions for washing your clothes.

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Image source: https://pixabay.com

Minimize Electricity Leaks

Even in the sleep mode your computer, TV and various appliances will consume energy that, in the long run, can amount to some pretty high numbers. Turn them off when you are vacuuming, as there is no real reason for them to work at this time. Switch your inefficient light bulbs for fluorescent ones that will save you two thirds of energy.

Mind Your Water Consumption

Your house cleaning will obviously demand heavy usage of water but you don’t have to be irresponsible and waste it around. Buy toilet dam to save up to 20% and low-flow showerheads to save more than 50% of water wastes. And don’t forget to turn the water off whenever you are not immediately using it.

Reuse, Repurpose, Upcycle

Not everything has to go to waste and something can find new purpose in your cleaning endeavor. Use old T-shirts to clean the toilet, textile rags while dusting around and turn your old stuff into new furniture, for example. Everything that doesn’t have a place in your plan should be recycled or given to charity.

If you followed these advices your house should be clean and your conscience green. Deservedly so, you have done a great thing for Mother Nature. And now when you are done, you can enjoy your refreshed home and set your mind to that vacation we mentioned before.

Nowadays, the consequences of global warming have finally shown up and triggered many people’s concerns about our planet. Realizing how important the preservation of natural resources is, many people started using eco-friendly products and appliances. There are numerous decisions we can make in order to save our planet. There is a wide range of things we can possibly do, from recycling or low-budget everyday products, such as paper bags to energy-saving windows.

 

Energy Efficiency

Today, the term “Energy Efficiency” is used more and more. It doesn’t refer to the reducing or renouncing something in order to preserve energy. On the contrary, the same service can be provided by using less energy. This is probably the main idea of the modern time, when you need to invest more work into something that will be highly beneficial for the entire planet.

However, building eco-friendly houses, people would contribute to the preservation of our nature a lot. All around the world, especially in more developed societies, eco-friendly buildings, bridges, or even skyscrapers are being built. Many large corporations started rising such constructions in order to provoke people’s consciousness, and it proved as a great idea. There are numerous people who decided to sell everything they had and to invest all money in an eco-friendly house building.

 

What does an eco-friendly house entail?

The industry of ecologically- friendly homes is based on the newest innovations that enable us construct our homes using eco- materials and techniques. Everything in such houses, from their very bottom to the roof is meant to be energy-saving.

For example, wind turbines represent an alternative energy source. Modern turbines are quiet and their size depends on the energy they must produce.

Even lighting should be appropriate. Instead of using an incandescent lamp, a compact fluorescent lamp should be used.

Solar panels on the roof, which convert solar energy to electricity, are one of the most prominent characteristics of green homes.  Solar windows are also of great importance, since they don’t let heat leave our homes through them. Also, insulation plays a great role when it comes to eco-friendly homes. There are two things you need to pay attention to- the insulation of your walls and loft. Underfloor heating systems are gaining an immense popularity lately. Such floors require much lower temperatures for heating the rooms and that is how they manage to save our energy.

It is also worth mentioning that many home appliances, such as fridges or ovens tend to pollute out environment, thus, their eco versions are highly recommended.

Finally, you should pay attention to the gardening because by growing your own vegetables, you won’t need any kind of its delivery, which will again lower the emission of harmful carbon.

 

Types of eco-friendly houses

There are numerous types of eco-friendly houses, usually based on their structure and materials that are used. .

There are numerous types of houses that are built out of natural materials, such as wood or stone, which are becoming more and more popular.

Large recycled shipping containers could also serve as a modern ecologically- friendly homes. Such houses could contain one shipping container or be a mixture of several ones.

Passive solar houses have been considered as the best possible solution, since they contain everything that was previously mentioned. They are well-isolated and have numerous solar panels, thus, they are able to produce and save the sufficient amount of energy. The perfect example for passive eco-homes is 100% Eco Green House at Costa Rica.

Earth-sheltered eco-houses are in a way, a modern type of dogouts, since they are dug into the hill or even buried. Although their position might sound strange for the modern times, such houses are well-insulated and warm during whole year.

Finally, there are Concrete form houses, where concrete is literally poured into polystyrene forms. One such example is Tepoztlan’s Tubohotel, which is very cheap because it is made out of recycled concrete tubes.

Finally, through the aforementioned examples of most popular types of eco-homes, we actually realize that the future of Earth is in our hands only. Depending on our further actions and tendencies, we can save our planet or keep ruining it.