Posts Tagged ‘tips’

Home Energy Saving Tips

October 9, 2014

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This month, with the focus on energy, we want to encourage every homeowner to take action no matter how big or how small to conserve energy.  Here are a few tips to get you started:

  1. Cooking is like a puzzle. Match your pot to the size of your stovetop burner.  Using smaller pots waste heat when used on large burners.
  2. Don’t soak. Take short showers instead of baths.  If you want to save even more energy, use a low-flow showerhead.
  3. Power off, completely. If you aren’t in the room, turn off lights, TVs, computers, etc.
  4. Unplug battery chargers when not in use. Many chargers continue to burn energy even when the device isn’t plugged into the charger.
  5. Slow down. Drive safe and slow down.  Not only is speeding dangerous, it wastes fuel too.
  6. Upgrade your thermostat. Using a programmable thermostat may save you an estimated $180 a year.  It saves energy, too.
  7. Use cold water. Washing clothes with cold water can save you 40 cents per load.
  8. Forget the dryer. Dry your clothes on a clothesline or drying rack and save an estimated $252 a year.
  9. Ditch the incandescents. CFLs and LEDs are more energy-efficient and give off the same amount of light.  More information can be found on our fact sheet.
  10. Get an energy audit. Find out where your home is using and losing energy.  More than likely that lost energy is also costing you money.  Learn more in this video.

Sources:  Duke Energy, ENERGY STAR, Energy Information Administration, Choice Home Warranty

Back to School, Back to Learn

August 14, 2014

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As summer winds down, the school year is right around the corner.  With that of course comes back to school shopping for supplies and new clothes as well as the anxiety of starting a new school year.  Here are some tips to pass along to your student to help them excel in the classroom.

  • Eat breakfast. It’s true, when you’ve eaten a good breakfast you are more alert and perform better in class.
  • Put the phone down and sleep.  Teens need at least 8.5 hours of sleep to feel rested.
  • Use your study hall. Doing more work during the school day while not in class can reduce the work you will have to do at home.  You’ll be more focused, too.
  • Make friends. Join school clubs or teams and get to know people.

I’ll end with our favorite tip to give students before the school year.   “When you know better, you do better.” This quote is by Maya Angelou.  It’s true, as we continue to learn, we continue to improve.  Education doesn’t stop after high school or even college, it continues into the workforce and into your life.  At GreenHomes we are constantly in the classroom learning more about homes and how they work.  We are keeping up with the latest building codes, tools, products, and services so that we can do better.

We continue to learn and for good reason, the more we know the better we can serve you.

Share this post and encourage someone to keep learning.  Best of luck this school year and thanks for stopping by!

-April

Stop Heating your Home this Summer

July 31, 2014

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, out of the total household’s energy usage, 6% is devoted to air conditioning.  Each homeowner is spending around $11 billion to power their air conditioner.  That is quite an investment.  Too easily we cost ourselves more money trying to cool our homes by what appliances we use.  Here are a few tips on how to avoid heating your home in the summer:
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  • Cook outside. Ovens and stoves create extra heat in your house.
  • Get rid of those incandescents. They are producing heat with 75% of the electricity they consume.
  • Wash only full loads of dishes and clothes.
  • Take short showers, no baths.
  • Turn off computers, curling irons, hair dryers, stereos and televisions. They are all generating heat.

Our homes are where we should be most comfortable.  We can increase our comfort and decrease our utility bills by eliminating some of the heat we produce.  Your AC is already working overtime for you.  Give it a break and leave the heat generation to the sun.

Share this post with a neighbor and help them cool off this summer.

Thanks for stopping by!
-April

It’s vacation time!

June 24, 2014

If you have plans to travel this summer, ensure your home will be in good shape when you go. The sun is out and you should be too, but keeping your home safe and energy costs down is important. Vacation Here are a few tips:

  • Use a programmable thermostat.  Depending on where you live, programmable thermostats can help regulate the temperature and humidity in your home.  When programming it, remember you don’t need to cool your home as much when you are away and no one is home.
  • Check your insulation.  Believe it or not, having enough insulation and duct work that works properly can help reduce your energy costs.  Let us explain, watch this short video.
  • Leave a light on, but only if it’s a CFL or LED.  It’s good to leave a light on or two maintain the appearance of being home.   Save money and energy by using CFL’s or LED’s.  Changing your lightbulbs is an easy thing to do.  More facts about lightbulbs can be found here.
  • If no one’s using hot water, turn it off.  If you plan on being gone for a while, think twice about leaving your electric water heater on.  Turning it off at the breaker will help you reduce energy costs.  Your water heater might even have a vacation setting too.

Have a safe trip!

 

Photo from MrJack  on http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Sonnenaufgang_Frankreich.JPG

This July, Wildfires Brings to Mind Staying Safe When the Heat is Hazardous

July 5, 2012

I can only hope and pray for everyone’s safety and quick progress in ending the wildfires that continue to burn in the west.

This is the season when temperatures push past 100 degrees; and when factoring in the heat index, the “feels like” temperature is over 120 in some places. Evacuations and wildfires add insult to injury.

The heat can be deadly, and in areas where we aren’t used to it, very high temps can surprise us and leave folks unprepared.  We often provide cooling tips, and they’re worth revisiting.  Here are a couple of important reminders we’ve posted in the past to help you—and your home—get through this.

Keeping Your Person Cool

  • Drink more fluids (nonalcoholic, and without caffeine), regardless of your activity level. Don’t wait until you get thirsty to drink. (Warning:  if you are limiting fluids or reducing water intake for medical reasons, check with your doctor for a specific recommendation.)  Remember, if you’re sweating a lot you need to replace electrolytes, too.
  • If possible, stay indoors in an air-conditioned space.  If you don’t have air conditioning, go to the shopping mall or public library—or the time-honored tradition of going to a movie theater.   Some locales might have heat-relief shelters.  Check with your local health department.
  • Go swimming in a cool pool.  Take a cold shower or a cold bath.  Cooler water can be an excellent way to cool down your body temperature.
  • Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing.
  • If you’re going to be outside, try to do it early in the day or late in the evening when it’s generally cooler.  Try to avoid heavy exercise in the heat.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has a helpful Extreme Heat guide the offers additional details and advice.

Keeping Your Home Cool

  • According to the CDC, air conditioning is the number one protective factor against heat-related illness and death.  Room air conditioners can help.  And installing a central AC unit is usually done in a day.
  • Keep the heat out!  During the day, if it’s cooler inside than outside, keep windows shut.  And keep window shades down to block out direct sunlight.  Open the windows at night if it’s cooler outside.
  • Fans to the outside—blowing in either direction—can help if it’s cooler outside than inside.  But they’re counterproductive if it’s hotter outside.  Ceiling fans (and other fans) help you stay comfortable—but only while you’re in the room.  The fan motors actually generate heat, so turn them off when you’re not there.
  • Of course, contact us if you’d like more permanent, energy-efficient solutions.

Remember that children, the elderly, and the sick are especially susceptible to heat.  Keep a close eye on them.

My hat’s off to the first responders and dedicated folks helping those who have been displaced as the fires rage on.  Here’s to a quick end! Please be safe, and stay cool!

Thanks,

Jason

Staying cool and saving during the monster heat wave

July 21, 2011

The incredible heat wave continues across the Midwest and the East Coast.  To temperatures pushing—or passing—100 degrees, add stifling humidity the bump the heat index over 120 in some places.  In this case, it’s the heat AND the humidity.

While our friends down in Houston are used to this, and they’ve got the air-conditioning to deal with it.  This is beyond what many people and homes and buildings in the East and Midwest are prepared for.  And the heat can be deadly. So it’s worth taking a few minutes to talk about what you can do.

We often providing cooling tips, and they’re worth revisiting.  But let’s hit a couple of important reminders for you and your home to help get through this.

Keeping your person cool

  • Drink more fluids (nonalcoholic, and without caffeine), regardless of your activity level. Don’t wait until you get thirsty to drink. Warning:  if your doctor has you limiting fluids or reducing water, check in with her to find your specific recommendation.  Remember, if you’re sweating a lot, you need to replace electrolytes, too.  I like a diluted sports drink (otherwise they can be too sweet).
  • If possible, stay indoors in an air-conditioned space.  If you don’t have air conditioning, go to the shopping mall or public library–or the time-honored tradition of going to a movie theater.  Might be a good reason to go so Harry Potter again!  Some locals might have heat-relief shelters.  Check with your local health department.
  • Go swimming in a cool pool.  Take a cold shower or a cold bath.  (Not a hot shower or hot bath!)  Cooler water can be an excellent way to cool down your body temperature.
  • Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing.
  • If you’re going to be outside, try to do it early in the day or late in the evening when it’s generally cooler.  Try to avoid heavy exercise in the heat.

The Centers for Disease Control has a helpful Extreme Heat guide the offers additional details and advice.

Keeping your home cool

  • According to CDC, air-conditioning is the number one protective factor against heat-related illness and death.  Room air-conditioners can help.  And installing a central AC unit is usually done in a day.
  • Keep the heat out!  During the day, if it’s cooler inside than outside, keep windows shut.  And keep window shades down to block out direct sunlight.  Open the windows at night if it’s cooler outside than in. 
  • Fans to the outside—blowing in either direction—can help if it is cooler outside than inside.  But they’re counterproductive if it’s hotter outside.  Ceiling fans (and other fans) help you stay comfortable—but only while you’re in the room.  The fan motors actually generate heat, so turn them off when you’re not there.

Finally, children, the elderly, and the sick, are especially susceptible to heat.  Keep a close eye on them. 

Of course, contact us if you’d like more permanent, energy-efficient solutions.  But in the meantime, be safe, and stay cool.

Mike

Tips to Save Energy This Winter

October 14, 2009

The leaves are changing and despite the mild summer in the Northeast, my body wasn’t quite prepared for the cold temperatures that are starting, and furnaces are turning on.  (OK, the southern half of the country doesn’t know what I’m talking about—but winter is on the way for you, too.) 

A home energy audit can help you find the right solutions and prioritize--but get the right audit!

A home energy audit can help you find the right solutions and prioritize--but get the right audit!

In the spirit of recycling, I’m pull out an old post on some of the high impact things you can do to stay warm and comfortable this winter and reduce you heating bills, too!  These are general recommendations.  To find out what’s most appropriate for you and your home, you should start with a good home energy audit to help find hidden issues, prioritize your improvements, and make sure your home is operating safely and efficiently.  (See a short video on what’s included in a good audit.)  [Note, below you won’t see bogus claims for overpriced “miracle” cures with or without Amish mantles or for $20 ceramic heaters price at $200 to pay for full-page newspaper ads.  Stay away from these things!]

  1. The attic is a great place to start.  Air leaks from rooms below into the attic can be one of the biggest drains on energy and your bank account.  Sealing attic air leaks can have a huge impact.
  2. Use caulk or foam to seal around the plumbing stack vent, where it goes through floors. This is a pipe (PVC, or cast iron in older homes) that runs from the basement sewer pipe up through every floor, and out through the roof.   Holes for electric wiring, and around chimneys, are also problem areas worth addressing.
  3. Insulate and air-seal your attic hatch. Often, builders overlook the hatch when they insulate the attic.
  4. Many homes today have recessed ceiling lights, also called can lights. These fixtures look great, but are a notorious source of heat leaks into the attic, and between floors.  You can install new air-tight fixtures, use air-tight baffles, or build air-tight boxes around them in the attic.  With existing fixtures, check with an electrician first to make sure the fixtures you have are “IC” rated so it’s safe to put insulation against them.

    Leaky ducts rob your home of air you've paid to heat (and cool).

    Leaky ducts rob your home of air you've paid to heat (and cool).

  5. Only after you’ve done air-sealing, put an extra layer of insulation on the attic floor, on top of the insulation you currently have there.  Sixteen to 24-inches is not excessive in cold climates—and it will keep you cooler in the summer too!
  6. Vents to the outside of your home are pipelines for cold air leaking in, and warm air leaking out.  Install one-way baffles on your kitchen fan vent, dryer vent, and bathroom fan vents.
  7. Keep your boiler and furnace tuned up.   If they’re reaching the end of their lifespan, consider replacing with a high-efficiency unit, one that at least qualifies for Energy Star®.   
  8. Install and use a programmable thermostat—this ensures that you don’t forget to turn the heat down at night or while you’re away at work.
  9. Do you have a forced air heating or cooling system? If so, make sure to seal and insulate the ductwork in attics and crawl spaces. As much as 30% of the air you heat (or cool in the summer) can escape outside through leaky ducts.
  10. Replacing appliances? Look for Energy Star qualified models of dishwashers, refrigerators, light fixtures, and compact fluorescent bulbs.

BONUS:  The ARRA (Stimulus) federal tax credits can help you pay for these home energy improvements.

Your water heater doesn't have to look this bad to be spilling dangerous carbon monoxide into your home.  Get it checked.

Your water heater doesn't have to look this bad to be spilling dangerous carbon monoxide into your home. Get it checked.

With some advice from your local home center, over four or five free weekends and with a willingness to crawl through dirty, itchy insulation, a handy homeowner can tackle many of these projects. The energy savings, and effect on comfort, are cumulative, so do as many as you can. If you don’t relish the idea of strapping on a tool belt, consider a contractor that specializes in home energy solutions. GreenHomes can complete the entire scope of work in a few days. Our whole-home solutions guarantee a minimum 25% reduction in energy consumption, with most customers seeing much higher reductions, often up to 40, 50 and 60 percent.

And whether you do the work yourself or you have it done by a contractor, after you tighten the house you should have any combustion equipment like furnaces and water heaters tested to make sure they’re running safely and efficiently.

Thanks,
Mike

Keeping your furnace humming

December 23, 2008

GreenHomes America is part of a regular segment on Syracuse, NY’s WSYR’s “Bridge Street”. From time to time, we will be providing you a link to the segments. These provide great information on how to make your home more efficient. We look forward to your feedback.

In this segment, Frank and Pat from our Syracuse office explain furnaces, comparing both old and new. Would you know if your heat exchanger is cracked? Pat reviews tips on how to keep your furnace operating smoothy.

10 Simple Home Energy Saving Tips

August 14, 2008

Even a mild winter means a long heating season, and with the cost of energy spiraling ever upwards, homeowners are looking for ways to stay within their heating budget. Dialing down the thermostat is one obvious solution, but there are some simple things you can do now to achieve significant savings on energy, while still keeping your family comfortable. Here are ten tips from GreenHomes America that will help you keep the bills down, and comfort up, this winter:1.     The attic is a great place to start.  Air leaks from rooms below into the attic can be one of the biggest drains on energy and your bank account.  Sealing attic air leaks can have a huge impact.  

2.    Use caulk or foam to seal around the plumbing stack vent, where it goes through floors. This is a pipe (PVC, or cast iron in older homes) that runs from the basement sewer pipe up through every floor, and out through the roof.   Holes for electric wiring, and around chimneys, are also problem areas worth addressing.

3.     Insulate and air-seal your attic hatch. Often, builders overlook the hatch when they insulate the attic.

4.     Many homes today have recessed ceiling lights, also called can lights. These fixtures look great, but are a notorious source of heat leaks into the attic, and between floors.  You can install new air-tight fixtures, use air-tight baffles, or build air-tight boxes around them in the attic.  With existing fixtures, check with an electrician first to make sure the fixtures you have are “IC” rated so it’s safe to put insulation against them.

5.     Only after you’ve done air-sealing, put an extra layer of insulation on the attic floor, on top of the insulation you currently have there.  Sixteen to 24-inches is not excessive in cold climates—and it will keep you cooler in the summer too!

6.    Vents to the outside of your home are pipelines for cold air leaking in, and warm air leaking out.  Install one-way baffles on your kitchen fan vent, dryer vent, and bathroom fan vents.

7.    Keep your boiler and furnace tuned up.   If they’re reaching the end of their lifespan, consider replacing with a high-efficiency unit, one that at least qualifies for Energy Star®.   

8.    Install and use a programmable thermostat—this ensures that you don’t forget to turn the heat down at night or while you’re away at work.

9.    Do you have a forced air heating or cooling system? If so, make sure to seal and insulate the ductwork in attics and crawl spaces. As much as 30% of the air you heat (or cool in the summer) can escape outside through leaky ducts.

10.  Replacing appliances? Look for Energy Star® qualified models of dishwashers, refrigerators, light fixtures, and compact fluorescent bulbs.

With some advice from your local home center, and four or five free weekends, a handy homeowner can tackle all of these projects. The energy savings, and effect on comfort, are cumulative, so do as many as you can. If you don’t relish the idea of strapping on a tool belt, consider a contractor that specializes in home energy solutions. GreenHomes America , is one option that can complete the entire scope of work in a few days. Their whole-home solutions guarantee a minimum 25% reduction in energy consumption, with most customers seeing much higher reductions, often up to 40, 50 and 60 percent. And whether you do the work yourself or you have it done by a contractor, after you tighten the house you should have any combustion equipment like furnaces and water heaters tested to make sure they’re running safely and efficiently.

8 Tips on How Not to Lose Your Cool

July 24, 2008

With much of the country sweating through the second heat wave of the summer, and the cost of energy spiraling ever upwards, homeowners are searching for ways to stay within their home cooling budget. Bumping up the thermostat, or opting for fans rather than air conditioning, are two obvious options, but there are some simple things you can do now to achieve significant savings on energy, while still keeping your family comfortable. Here are eight tips from GreenHomes America that will help you keep the bills down, and comfort up, this summer:

1.     Start by keeping cool air in, and hot air out! When the temperature drops at night, if it’s cooler outside than in, open your windows. In the morning, shut them, and keep shades down to block out direct sunlight.

2.     Focus on your attic.  In the summer, temperatures in the attic can climb to more than 150oF.  This tremendous heat can conducts down into your home in a variety of ways.  Insulating and air-sealing your attic will have a huge impact. 

·       Carefully air seal any leaks between the attic and the area below. Common air leak sources include recessed lights, gaps around chimneys, plumbing penetrations, and the attic hatch (which contractors often overlook when insulating the attic).

·       Only after you’ve done air-sealing, put an extra layer of insulation on the attic floor, on top of the insulation you currently have there.  Sixteen to 24-inches is not excessive —and will help keep you warmer in the winter, too!

3.     Use efficient lighting and appliances.  With incandescent and halogen lights, most of the electricity goes to producing heat rather than light.  Not only does this mean you’re overpaying for lighting, but you’re creating a lot of unwanted heat in the rooms you’re trying to keep cool.  Compact florescent light bulbs have improved greatly over the past several years, so there’s no need to worry about the humming, slow starts, and ghoulish colors of years past – and they’re efficient and run cooler. With lighting or appliances, look for Energy Star® qualified models. 

4.     If you have a central or window air-conditioner, keep it tuned up. Clean the filters so they’re not clogged, and vacuum the dust and cobwebs out of the condenser fins.  If it’s more than 10 years old, consider replacing with a high-efficiency unit, one that at least qualifies for Energy Star.

5.     Do you have a forced air heating or cooling system? Seal and insulate the ductwork in attics and crawl spaces.  As much as 30% of the air you cool (or heat in the winter) can escape outside through leaky ducts.

6.     Use a bath fan vented to the outside to remove the heat and humidity created by showering. If you don’t have a bath fan, install one. If you do have a bath fan, make sure it’s powerful enough to do the job (often builders skimp on this). To check, close the window, turn on the fan, and close the door to the bathroom so its open just a crack: standing on the inside, can you feel air moving through the crack? If not, consider upgrading your fan.

7.     Similarly, use a kitchen exhaust fan to remove heat and moisture created by cooking.  This has the added benefit of removing pollutants, especially if you cook with gas.

8.     Planting deciduous trees on the south side of a house can help keep your home cool in the summer.  In many parts of the country, maples, oaks, and birches are good trees to consider.  Because they drop their leaves in the fall, they let sunlight through to help warm your house in the winter.

Many of these tips are simple things you can do to start saving right away.  With some advice from your local home center, and two or three free weekends, a handy homeowner can tackle these projects. The energy savings, and effect on comfort, are cumulative, so do as many as you can. To get even deeper savings, get a comprehensive home energy assessment, and let trained and certified crews install your improvements. 

And whether you do the work yourself or you have it done by a contractor, after you make any changes to the house you should have any combustion equipment like furnaces and water heaters tested to make sure they’re running safely and efficiently.  


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