Posts Tagged ‘Home Improvement’
» posted on Thursday, October 14th, 2010 at 10:59 am by Woody Wilson viewed 421 times
Eco-Cool Remodel Tool
An energy-efficient home is not only good for the environment. It’s also good for your wallet, because it saves you money in energy bills.
Patti Southard, with King County’s Green Tools Program, says there are all sorts of small remodeling projects you can do for under $1,000 that will cut your energy use.
“If you’re not going to be replacing your hot water tank, you can buy wraps that will help make that more energy efficient. You could beef up the insulation in your roof. And you can typically do that for under $1,000. You can use rigid foam board to do that. There’s a lot of eco-friendly batting material now so that you’re not dealing with fiberglass anymore. So you can get a recycled cotton bat, you can get a recycled wool bat and again the rigid foam board will all help beef up the insulation in your roof. And that’s another really good place to start.”
King County has just launched a new website called Eco-Cool Remodel Tool that will show you a lot of things you can do in your house and in your yard, one space at a time.
“It’s an interactive tool and you just click on a room and there’s tips,” says Southard. “So if you don’t want to spend a lot of time on that page you can just look at the tips for each room, such as kitchen, bath and bedroom. If you want more information you click “more information” and it gives you a comprehensive list of things that you can do to improve each room in your house and at the bottom of each page there is a set of resources where you can buy materials, find your tax incentives and look at what kind of rebates are available.”
Patti Southard says you can also use the Eco-Cool Remodel Tool site to e-mail her your conservation questions – and she promises to answer them.
You might want to get a home energy audit, so you can identify the simple things you can do to cut your homes energy use.
Most utilities in the area offer this service at a discount price. You can get one done for around $95 when the normal price is about $250.
If you’re heading to the home show, there’s a great place you can learn about all this – head to the Built Green booth. You can talk to experts who know all about energy-efficient remodeling and how to find a good contractor in the area.
» posted on Thursday, June 24th, 2010 at 5:41 pm by Woody Wilson viewed 139 times
Published: Wednesday, June 23, 2010, 7:43 PM
Want to save money?
The Alliance to Save Energy is a Washington, D.C.-based, nonpartisan agency created in 1977 in response to the OPEC oil embargo. Its mission is just as vital today, thanks to the economy and such catastrophic events as the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, said Kweller.
“I hope that a certain amount of good [increased awareness of energy efficiency] can come out of the bad,” she said.
There are two approaches to conservation, said Kweller.
The first involves making sure your home is “tight” during the upcoming dog days . . . meaning cool air stays inside and hot air remains outside. That happens only when windows and doors are efficient and the home has adequate insulation, said Kweller. Some 46 million homes in the United States are underinsulated, according to simplyinsulate.com.
Ensuring a home’s “tightness” can add up to several hundred dollars a year in savings, based on current ASE estimates of homeowners paying an average of $2,135 per year on home-energy costs, said Kweller.
(When your home becomes more airtight, remember to have working carbon monoxide detectors and smoke detectors as a precaution.)
The second method, Kweller said, is to look at purchases and practices that will cut down on energy usage, including switching incandescent light bulbs for the superefficient compact fluorescent bulbs and getting rid of old energy-wasting appliances.
Most energy-efficient purchases — such as new windows, doors, appliances and insulation, at least through the end of the year — are eligible for a federal income tax credit, added Kweller. The tax credits can save consumers 30 percent of the cost of the upgrade, up to $1,500, she said. That’s a credit, not a deduction, meaning you get $1,500 off your taxes.
Becoming energy-wise is “really worthwhile,” said Kweller.
Here are the top tips for a superefficient summer:
Increasing efficiency• Clean or replace air-conditioning filters monthly.
• Keep the coils in the outdoor and indoor air-conditioning machinery clean.
• Draw the curtains or shades on the east- and west-facing windows during the morning and afternoon to stop the sun from heating up a room.
• Do a self-audit, or hire an energy-audit firm (check with your local Better Business Bureau for recommendations). Find out if your insulation is efficient (simplyinsulate.com), if window and door caulking is sufficient, or if you need new windows and doors.
• Make sure weatherstripping around doors and windows is efficient. That can save 10 percent or more on energy bills by reducing leaks.
• If you have to buy new appliances or windows, go with those with the Energy Star label, the government’s symbol for energy efficiency. Buying Energy Star air conditioners, major appliances, lighting and electronics can cut utility bills by up to 30 percent.
• Buy compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs and get rid of all your incandescent bulbs. CFLs use one-fourth the energy and last up to seven times longer.
• When buying a cooling system, look for a SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating) of 14 or higher on central systems and the Energy Star label on window units (see an explanation at efficientwindows.org).
• Invest in a programmable thermostat. Program it to reflect the hours you will be away from the house (i.e. work hours) and when you will be sleeping. Home temperature needs are different during those times.
Easy energy practices• Avoid running a dehumidifier at the same time as the air conditioner. The dehumidifier will increase the cooling load.
• Turn off your computer and monitor when you are done using them.
• Turn off all lights when you leave a room.
• Avoid doing laundry and running the dishwasher during the heat of the day.
• Keep lamps and TVs away from the air conditioning’s thermostat. The heat they generate will cause your air conditioner to run longer.
• Fans provide additional cooling for rooms, reducing air-conditioning costs. There are now Energy Star-certified ceiling fans on the market that move air up to 20 percent more efficiently. Many fans’ light fixtures also include CFL bulbs, which generate 70 percent less heat, according to the ASE.
Resources• If you choose to hire a company to conduct an energy audit, be wary if representatives arrive on site with a truck full of new windows and insulation. More than likely, they will recommend you get new windows and insulation.
• Check the U.S. Department of Energy tips for hiring a professional energy-audit company at tinyurl.com/mz6tm2.
• For tips on do-it-yourself home energy assessments, go to tinyurl.com/m2dh2a.
• For a primer on the federal tax-credit programs for energy efficiencies: tinyurl.com/yfabu2z.
By Peter Bacque
Published: April 28, 2010
Hugh Joyce thinks environmental concerns for energy efficiency and dollars-and-cents business calculations are starting to add up to economic opportunity.
Joyce is renovating two small houses in high-visibility Henrico County locations to showcase just how homeowners can be environmentally friendly — and save significant amounts of money on their utility costs.
“This is stuff you can do today that makes financial sense,” said Joyce, president and owner of James River Air Conditioning Co. Inc., a home utility company in Richmond. “I don’t care if you are Republican, Democrat or independent. It doesn’t make any difference.”
Using a solar electrical generator, a heat pump and extra tight insulation, as well as a number of other high-tech and resource-sipping devices such as energy-recovery ventilators, Joyce is aiming at a monthly energy cost approaching zero: $5-$40.
“It will make almost as much solar energy as it consumes over a year,” he said. “It’s a practical green project.”
The houses are at 9214 Hungary Spring Road and 8201 Hungary Road, both on high-traffic corners.
“In the future people will worry less about how their house looks and more about how it performs,” said Andrew P. McCoy, a building construction professor at Virginia Tech.
Here’s How To Save Up To 50% Each Month On Your Home Utility Bills Without Installing Solar Panels Or A Wind Generator!:Save on Home Energy
For green buildings, “the sky’s the limit,” McCoy said. “It’s just exploding right now — engineering solutions, products and materials. We know the market’s there.”
Residential and commercial buildings eat 40 percent of the energy consumed in the United States, said Jen Stutsman with the U.S. Department of Energy.
She said retrofitting buildings using existing energy-efficiency techniques and devices can reduce a home’s energy use by as much as 40 percent, while residential and commercial retrofits could cut energy bills nationally by $40 billion — about $130 for every American — annually.
Joyce bought the little bungalow on a 1-acre lot at 9214 Hungary Spring for about $85,000, and he is putting $110,000-$130,000 into it in energy-efficient systems and renovations.
“I’m a capitalist guy who likes to build things,” Joyce said. “I can stand next to an environmental guy and agree on this project, totally agree.”
The 1,000-square-foot home should be completed June 10, he said, open for demonstration of his systems — and for sale for $270,000.
“If people like this, we’re going to replicate it,” Joyce said.
His goal for the home is to have it qualify for a LEED gold or platinum rating from the U.S. Green Business Council. LEED — Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design — is an internationally recognized green building certification system.
“As soon as we get this one done,” Joyce said of the house at Hungary Spring and Staples Mill Road, “we’re going after that other one” on Hungary Road.
LEED-certified buildings are designed to lower operating costs, reduce landfill waste, conserve energy and water, and qualify for government incentives.
Richard Cross, owner and managing director of Hollyport Ventures LLC, is rehabilitating and enlarging a 850-square-foot home at 4600 Augusta Ave. in Richmond to LEED platinum standards.
The Cape Cod-style building, built in 1938, “was very ungreen,” Cross said. “We’ve made it into a 2010 very green house.”
It’s net energy and water consumption will be about $200 a month less than comparable, but conventional, homes, Cross said.
Cross plans to sell the home in a sealed-bid auction with a reserve price of $439,900.
America’s next breakthrough product needs to be energy, Joyce said. In his quest for a home self-sufficient in energy, he is coming full circle.
“My eighth-grade project at Liberty Middle School in Hanover County was a solar panel,” he said, sketching out a schematic diagram from memory.
And, he said, “I did get an A.”
» posted on Thursday, April 22nd, 2010 at 11:05 am by Woody Wilson viewed 90 times
Originally published April 20, 2010, 1:26 PM
By Ed Waters Jr.
“Green” is more than just a buzz word for the housing industry and earlier today the National Association of Realtors unveiled its Green MLS Tool Kit.
The “tool kit” is a set of guidelines and resources for Realtors, appraisers, builders and others in the industry to use when broadening their knowledge on environmental and energy efficiency materials, home designs and more.
The MLS — Multiple Listing Services — which keeps track of homes on the market and their details, can now be expanded to include more information on what a house has in that area such as Energy Star appliances and an energy-efficient heating and cooling system.
Just released from GreenEcoClub the DIY Easy-Energy-Audits. This step-by-step guide will show you how to do energy audit on your home like the pros.Easy-Energy-audits
Two local professionals in the industry have been working with the national association on the program. Don Briggs, president of Briggs Associates, was the first appraiser in Maryland to get the Green Designation from the National Association of Realtors, has LEED certification and is chairman of the county’s Sustainability Commission. Briggs teaches classes on “green” issues for real estate and building professionals.
Steve Seawright, managing member of Seawright Homes, was the first builder in the county to commit to Energy Star certification for all of his new homes and is the recipient of three White Oak Awards from the Maryland Department of the Environment for using best conservation practices in planning his communities.
“Though not the quick fix that builders and buyers of ‘green’ homes would like to see for the continuing problem of too many appraisers inadequately valuing the ‘green’ attributes of homes, the Green MLS Tool Kit, will prove invaluable for having provided a road map that facilitates MLS systems across the land collecting and reporting the data on home listings that will help home buyers, sellers, Realtors, builders and, especially, appraisers fully recognize and value the economic benefits of ‘green’ home construction,” Seawright said, a certified Green Professional by the National Association of Home Builders.
(editors note: It is easy to see that home appraisers will be valuing the home with a energy consideration. You home will be worth more if it is energy efficient.)
For more on this story, check out Wednesday’s edition of The Frederick News-Post.