5 Simple Energy Conservation Ideas For Your Home

While most potential home buyers, consider their monthly mortgage payment (including principal, interest, and escrow/ taxes), many, fail to adequately consider other monthly expenses, associated with home ownership. Perhaps the most significant one, is the cost of energy – related activities, including electric, and heart. The purpose of this article is not to examine the many alternative heating alternatives, including solar, geo – thermal, etc, but rather, to review some simple steps, one can somewhat easily take, to make their home more energy – efficient, and friendly. Let’s look at 5 simple, basic, energy conservation ideas/ steps.

1. Windows and doors: What is the Energy Efficiency Ratio of your entry doors? What material are they made of? How are they hung? How much air is seeping out, through the spaces created, because of their alignment? Simply, assuring your door has a bottom sweep, and the spaces around the top, and sides, is reduced/ eliminated, will prevent heat escaping in the winter, and air conditioning, escaping during the summer. What type of blinds, or curtains are you using, and are you using them, to let sun in, when it is cold out, while reducing the entry of the heat of the sun, when it is hot? When was the last time you checked your windows, in terms of air – tightness, energy rating, and tinting (if your local climate indicates doing so)?

2. Insulation: Every form of insulation comes with some R rating. This number indicates the amount of insulation, but are you certain, all exterior walls and ceilings are properly insulated? Doing so, might potentially save a considerable amount of unnecessary energy costs.

3. Energy efficient appliances: Certain home appliances, especially refrigerators, freezers, and air conditioners, have become far more energy – efficient, in recent years. How old are yours? Look at the rating, and it will indicate how much energy a particular appliance might be using. When I recently replaced my refrigerator, the new one was far more efficient (therefore, cost less to run), than my 15 – year old model. Similarly, today’s oil and gas burners and boilers are far more efficient, than they have ever been!

4. Water and toilet: Are there any dripping faucets or toilets that continue to run – on? Eliminate the drips, change faucet heads (especially in the shower), and check the efficiency of your toilets.

5. Lights/ fixtures: Begin by making the effort to turn lights off, when you leave the room! What type of light bulb are you using? Many bulbs today are four, or more times, more efficient (use less energy/ wattage), than older ones. Do a lights and fixtures – review on a regular basis!

These 5 ideas may seem basic and obvious, but you’d be amazed how few people consider these. Unless you like wasting energy, and spending more than you need to, using these simple, conservation methods, will save money, and reduce energy waste.

Things to Consider While Hiring a Green Builder

As an environmentally conscious person are you passionate about implementing green building design for your next project? Then you need to look for a reputed and experienced green builder who’s equally passionate and motivated in coming up with energy efficiency designs. Consider the following points while hiring one:

1. Whether it’s a commercial or residential project, you can hire a well committed architect who relies on the latest technology and is capable of coming up with customized solutions for any project category.

2. The green architect you choose to work with should be able to come up with practical net zero design for your project. He/she must be able to communicate every aspect of construction with clarity and care. You need to hire an individual who can reason well and think independently to give you the desired end result.

3. It’s better to talk with the references they provide to really understand and see for yourself how well the builder executes green building solutions on large or small scale projects.

4. More importantly, the builder must be capable in carefully monitoring the budget and communicate at regular intervals about the project status.

5. It’s good to choose an architect who’s certified by LEED program as their designs and practices are well approved and recognized by the Green Building Council.

A green building approach can turn out to be not just Eco-friendly, but also helps in conserving and producing energy while saving you considerable money on your monthly power bills. On the other hand, a green building will decrease waste production and cut down on pollution. In short, the design will be environmentally efficient and responsible all through the building’s life-cycle. So the right green architect should be able to help you right from siting the right place to designing and construction or renovation of the project. You can choose a company that specializes in offering green building design that smartly addresses any energy consumption issues. A well experienced firm will provide you with a wide range of options to help you in assessing all the available possibilities and choose the best for energy conservation for your industrial or residential projects. They will help you with designing a building that makes effective use of water, energy and various other important resources, while protecting the health of people who live within its premises. The sustainable building design principles can be effectively applied for new construction projects as well as renovation work, so its time you considered it by choosing the right people.

How To Get Your Solar Energy Tax Credit

There are a lot of good reasons to go solar for your home or business. Many Bay Area homeowners have a solar system installed to protect themselves and their families against rising energy rates. While it is difficult to forecast exactly how much electricity costs will rise, or how quickly, one thing is certain – they will continue to go up. Conversely, an investment in solar for your home or business not only decreases or even entirely eliminate monthly electricity costs, it can also increase the property value of a home and lower the operating costs of a business. A third and very important financial incentive is the federal government’s generous solar energy tax credit.

The solar energy tax credit allows a homeowner to reduce the amount of income tax that they would otherwise have to pay the federal government. This credit is good for 30 percent of homeowner’s investment in their solar system, including solar panels, a charge converter, battery, and inverter, but only for the next three years. The credit will drop to 26 percent in 2020, and 22 percent in 2021. After 2021, the solar energy tax credit for residential customers will be eliminated entirely. While there is a chance the credit could be extended, many homeowners considering solar are planning to install their systems within the next few years to take advantage of the credit.

For commercial businesses looking to go more green, they can qualify for up to 70% off with solar tax incentives. Not only will you qualify for a 30% Federal Tax Credit but you can accelerate the depreciation of your solar system over 5 short years. These tax incentives are equivalent to 60%-70% of the system cost, leaving you needing only 3-4 years of energy savings to recover your entire investment.

In addition to the financial benefits of the solar energy tax credit, many people choose to go solar because they feel solar energy is a more environmentally responsible solution. Solar energy is both sustainable and renewable. Solar energy provides a zero-emission way to power buildings, and appliances, heat water, and refuel electric vehicles. The more popular and widespread that rooftop or carport solar panels become, the more they reduce the load on coal-burning power plants.

With buildings accounting for 38 percent of all carbon emissions in the U.S., going solar can significantly decrease our carbon footprint. A typical residential solar panel system will eliminate three to four tons of carbon emissions each year-the equivalent of planting over 100 trees annually. Going solar is not only a great way to go green, but taking advantage of the solar energy tax credit – before it expires – is a great way to save some green.

Choosing the Best Green Home Builder

Today many people are “going green”, which means that they are becoming environmentally friendly in how they live their lives and minimizing the harm done to the earth. When some people decide to build their home from the bottom up, they decide to have a green home builder build their home. This contractor would build their home with low environmental and energy efficiency in mind. To find a green home builder you should talk to the contractors in your area. Some that will travel to your area to build your home but their services will add more expense to the cost of your home.

To ensure that you will have the best green home builder ask them what type of building material they will use. You should also inquire about their disposal methods to make sure they are in compliant with sustainability practices. The materials that they should use are non-toxic when possible, and environmentally friendly. They should also be materials that come from renewable sources, or sustainable material. This can include materials from homes that have been knocked down. This material can include old doors, cabinets, some of the wood to accent the home such as using the material for ceiling beams, and more. They should try to avoid using plastics and choose their wood carefully. You should ask to see examples of the green projects they have completed. Their construction philosophy should focus on green building. It should not just focus on using green techniques as a secondary technique. Make sure that the contract you sign states that it will be constructed from sustainable and green material.

A home builder may tell you that they are using green building techniques but it could be easy for them to start using less environmentally friendly techniques and designs to save money on materials so they can put more money in their pockets. This is why you need to be sure that they are a reputable home builder and have good references as a green construction company. They need to be knowledgeable about green techniques and processes and committed to green construction and design. If you want your new green custom built home to be built using unconventional techniques make sure the home builder can demonstrate they understand the techniques you want and can do them correctly.

Before you choose a green home builder, you should educate yourself on what constitutes a green home and the process to build one. This will help you to determine a good green home builder and to know if they are cutting corners using non-environmentally friendly material. Having a green home can save you money on heating and cooling costs, and if sustainable material is used it can save these materials from being disposed of improperly.

Various Opinions on Log Homes

You’re looking for a unique home, one that isn’t a cookie cutter replica of every other home. Much has been written about log homes and perhaps you are wondering if one might be the answer to your desire for a “something different” kind of home.

In your quest to learn about this type of dwelling, you’ll find a number of differing opinions. It is sometimes challenging to separate myths from opinions or determine if one bad experience represents log home living all around.

Keep in mind that log homes are in one respect no different from other types of homes. They are only as good as the materials used, the quality of construction, and maintenance that sustains them post-construction.

What’s Old is New

These types of homes are hardly a new form of housing. They have sheltered humans for hundreds of years. And they keep gaining popularity in today’s housing market. Check out local newsstands and see how many log home consumer magazines are in the racks.

Myths/Opinions

Rarely is there a universal experience or opinion for anything, including homes made of logs. Some people have lived in them and swear they never will do so again; others wouldn’t live in any type of home. Consider some of these more common myths/opinions:

• Energy Efficiency: you may have read that these homes aren’t energy efficient. This may be true – depending. A well-designed log home, built to modern standards by knowledgeable and skilled craftsmen, can be as (or more) energy-efficient than a well-insulated frame house.

• Upkeep: according to opinion, this type of home either requires or does not require extensive upkeep. No home is completely maintenance-free. It is unrealistic to build such a home, let it weather with time, and expect that it requires not upkeep. Every log home needs periodic cleaning, preserving, and coating to protect the structure against moisture, weather, fungi, and insects.

• Settling and Rotting: all houses – no matter what type of construction – settle because land is constantly shifting and settling. Home designers have developed techniques to address this settling issue. Be sure to ask each manufacturer about settling systems when you are considering these homes.

• Fire Hazards: These homes may withstand the devastation of fire more readily because of their thicker walls. The current exterior wall code mandates that materials used must have a minimum of “one hour-rated fire-resistive construction on the exterior side. The typical 6-inch (or greater) log walls have a considerably longer fire resistant level than one hour because logs don’t easily burn; they will smolder for a long time before they actually ignite. Consider that 26 forest firefighters who survived the Topanga Canyon firestorm of 1998 by seeking shelter in a log home!

• Cost/Financing: rumors seem to persist that these homes are costly to finance and insure. Neither of these claims seems to have much credibility these days. Such claims may have been more likely when log homes were less common but should not be stumbling blocks today.

If you have never lived or vacationed in such type of home or cabin, consider giving it a try before you plunge into buying one. Some owners discovered they quickly tired of “so much wood” inside and out. Others found the experience unsatisfactory because they purchased a log home that had not been well designed, constructed, or maintained.

You can find both positive and negative opinions on almost anything when searching the Internet. Take time to research their design and manufacture companies that interest you and (if possible) view some of their existing homes before you make your decision.