Archive for the ‘Green Ideas’ Category

Sprucing Up Your Home’s Energy Efficiency for Spring

As the weather begins to warm up, many homeowners will start performing more tasks around the house thanks to the extra hours of daylight. If you have plans to spruce up your home this spring, add the below items to your to-do list. These tips will help your house perform more efficiently for you all year long.

Stay Cool
ceiling fan
Installing ceiling fans can help keep your house cool without continuously running the air conditioning. Fortunately, many new homes come pre-wired for ceiling fans, making installation easier. Just remember to turn them off when you leave the room to save energy.

While your fans are in use, Gainesville Regional Utilities (GRU) recommends that you set your programmable thermostat to 78 degrees. According to the GRU, for every degree lower than this recommended setting, your bill could increase by up to 4 percent.

For those days when the temperatures jump off the charts, turn on the air conditioner, but take proper precautions to keep your cool air in and the air conditioner from working overtime. If you have a wood-burning fireplace, ensure that the damper is closed when it isn’t in use. Per, around 14 percent of air escapes the home through an open fireplace chimney, so if it is open, your cool air is flying right out of your home.

Check Filters

Dirty filters limit efficiency and can be dangerous. Filters keep pollutants out of the air you breathe, and they are one of the most important things you can maintain in your HVAC system. Changing your air conditioner’s filter every one to three months can prevent costly repairs down the line, particularly through the summer when you need your air conditioning most. Your air conditioner already works hard as the heat rises, so give it a head start in spring by installing a clean filter.

Mandi Woodruff of Business Insider says a clean dryer lint filter can increase your dryer’s efficiency by 75 percent. A less-efficient dryer means higher bills, so clean out the lint before every load to preserve your dryer and save money.


Cook Outdoors
In the warmer months, cooking in the kitchen raises the temperature of the whole house, which will cause the air conditioner to work harder. Give it a break by firing up the barbeque. Spring is ideal for spending more time outdoors when it’s warm enough to sit outside while grilling meals with the family. Just remember to keep the doors closed when you are outside.


Update Appliances

Investing in your kitchen appliances is a smart move this spring. Look for appliances labeled ENERGY STAR® for maximum savings. A new refrigerator could save you up to $70 a year if you switch from a 15-year-old model, according to the GRU.

Also consider replacing your older washer and dryer as well to utilize less water and electricity with every load. Try to use your laundry appliances in the morning or evening when it is cooler. Using these appliances during the hot day will unnecessarily heat your home, which will cause your air conditioner to work overtime to keep the temperature down.

In addition to traditional appliances, don’t forget to also update your lighting. Spring is the prime time to switch to compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFL) for your home. A 14-watt CFL will use 75 percent less energy than a 60-watt incandescent bulb and can last up to 10 times longer, according to the GRU. This could save $30 or more over the life of each bulb.


Saving Water

Taking a soak after a day working in the yard might seem inviting, but you can use up to 70 gallons of water in one bath. As long as you don’t take hour-long showers, you could decrease water usage by 33 percent or more by opting to use the shower over the tub.

Make sure your showerhead is efficient or you could be wasting more water than you think. An article on “22 Little Ways to Go Green” in This Old House suggests this tip to see how much water you’re wasting: “Place a 1-gallon bucket under the running water, then see how long it takes for it to fill up. If it’s less than 20 seconds, replace the showerhead with one that sprays 1.5 gallons per minute.” According to the article, this replacement could save over 14,600 gallons of water a year, which allots to approximately $22 a year on your water bill and $150 on water heating.

Moving into the kitchen, consider replacing your faucet with a low-flow model, which, according to Woodruff, can cut your water bill up to 60 percent and is certainly worth the small investment.

This spring, ensure your house is more energy efficient by following the above household maintenance tips. Whether you use one or all of these suggestions, we hope that these ideas help you spruce up your home’s energy efficiency this spring – and all year long.


Kate Reusink, on behalf of Richmond American Homes, a new home builder in Jacksonville, FL

Sustainable and Eco Friendly Home Design Ideas

solar panelsIf you are able to incorporate sustainable home design ideas then this isn’t just right for the wallet, but also the environment. An eco-friendly designed home relies on a wide range of renewable sources in an effort to limit its reliance on energy and water. Here are several options for restricting your carbon footprint at home:


Using environmentally-friendly doors and windows

If you’re looking at replacing the doors and windows you might want to look for those that are manufactured in the recyclable material, such as those in eco-friendly wood which is likely to be very energy efficient when compared to some of the alternatives. You might also want to consider a front door that is solid wood, rather than featuring windows.

You might like the appeal of the door with the windows due to the fact that they are able to add light to the front hallway, but they do have the downside of allowing warmth to escape the property. If a property is blighted with poor insulation around the doors and windows, this can result in a significant loss of heat, which can often be reversed if you are able to have installed the right quality doors and windows.


Rely on eco-friendly siding

Many houses now use stucco, aluminum, or wood siding at a more eco-friendly approach to house design. PVC siding ought to be avoided since this isn’t reusable or biodegradable, and can release certain toxins.


Choosing the most friendly fireplaces

When it concerns the fireplace in the home you might want to look at those that receive energy via natural gas, rather than burning wood. Since the fire logs and tinder can contribute to releasing harmful toxins into the atmosphere, as well as deforestation.


Eco-friendly roof materials

It is now quite possible to source a wide range of recycled materials that can be used in the construction of a roof. Likely to be one of the more significant materials in this regard is aluminum, which is highly rated due to the fact that it can be continuously reused and is naturally heat resistant.


Renewable energy for heating and air-conditioning

Having rooftop solar panels installed on your property is a very energy efficient option for reducing your dependence on the grid and also has the opportunity to generate spare energy which can be resold back to the utility companies. Even though it might cost to have the solar panels installed, you will find that over time you will see a significant decrease in the utility bill. Also, this type of work has the potential to increase the market value of your property.


Caroline Webber is head of marketing and strategy for JP Office Workstations, A Sydney based firm supplying Ergonomic Office Chairs, Standing Desks, Partitions , Modular Workstations and Modern Office Furniture to Commercial Offices across Sydney and Australia. View their online specials or Contact Caroline for more information.