Save on Cooling, Stay Cool

Save on Cooling, Stay Cool

As the summer months roll on through, we are faced with the dilemma of creating the perfect indoor environment. In some regions the sun blazes hot, while other areas of the country enjoy more temperate summer days and nights. Whatever the case, our cooling habits always change this time of year, and it’s important to consider the usage, impact and alternatives to summer cooling.

Did you know that according to EnergyStar, if just one in ten households used EnergyStar Certified cooling and heating equipment, we could prevent the equivalent of 1.1 million cars’ emissions? That’s a big difference. But if you’re not ready or willing to replace your cooling system just yet, here are some other ways to lighten your impact during the summer heat.

1. Replace the air filter. Forced-air heating and cooling systems really require you to swap the air filter every 3 months. Remember, if you’re working on a project at home, or doing some remodeling, it may need replacing more frequently until the dust settles. A dirty air filter can decrease the efficiency of your cooling system by two percent. That’s energy use you’re paying for without getting the benefit of the most efficient cooling to your home.

2. Install a programmable thermostat. This corner of the market is evolving very quickly. Keep an eye out for the system that’s right for your household. If you’re not one to take the time to set a program, consider a learning thermostat that uses smart technology to sense movement so the energy savings are abundant while you’re out of the house or resting. Another tip – setting the thermostat between 4 and 7 degrees higher at night can save you about $180 annually.

3. “Summerize” your home. We frequently talk about winterizing our homes by sealing cracks and air leaks. We check insulation before the winter months to make sure we’ll stay warm enough, but consider the opposite is also true. A tighter home not only keeps the cold winter air out, but also keeps the cool, conditioned air in! Grab a caulk gun and do a few simple tests to seal and sure up leaks around windows and door. According to the Energy Star site, sealing leaks in air ducts can improve your cooling system by 20 percent!

 

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13 Ways You Can Save The Environment

13 Ways You Can Save The Environment

It’s official, lists of 10 are beyond cliche. And lists of 11, once a refreshing twist, are now even more banal than the lists of 10 they sought to avoid. So, in a weak attempt at originality, today I present you with my baker’s dozen list of ways to save energy and the environment!

 

1. Sweep It. Don’t Spray It. 

Limit, as much as possible, the use of water. Of course water is not that expensive (at least for now); but saving water saves energy and a valuable resource as well. When cleaning the driveway, the deck or patio, using a broom instead of a hose would save several hundreds of gallons of water a year. Now imagine your entire neighborhood doing it that way. We could save a ton of water (1 ton= 239.65 gallons, which is actually far less than what would be saved).

2. Push It Good. Push It Real Good.

A manual push mower is a good idea to mow a small lawn. Aside from not using electricity or fuel to ride or push the mowing machine, it is also good exercise. Alternatively, buy a goat to eat your excess turf.

3. Rake For Old Time Sake.

Rakes are good leaf movers. Like the manual push mower, you do not need energy to fuel up a machine to get the job done. There is also a sense of nostalgia in using this traditional tool. After raking you can even jump into the pile you formed. Just make sure to rake it all up again.

4. Let There Be (Efficient) Light.

Use compact fluorescent light bulbs or LEDs to light up your driveway or as a security light. LEDs and CFLs are some of the most handy and energy efficient products that you can have. If you are worried about bugs sticking to the light, there are yellow options available. Outdoor, driveway and security lights are often on the longest, so switching these from traditional to efficient bulbs could pay you the most reward.

5. Quality Beats Quantity.

When shopping, avoid going for the disposable option. Disposable products need more landfills and landfills emit dangerous gasses. Go instead for items that could be used several times over. Again when shopping, go for products that are made of better quality. They might be a little more expensive but generally, quality products last longer.

6. Become a Bag Lady (Or Man).

Bring your own bags when shopping. Luckily in Los Angeles where I live, and in many other cities across the country, there are now laws in place banning stores from providing plastic bags. So it’s becoming more common to travel with totes readily available. Plastic bags are oil based and are not biodegradable.  If you bring your bag with you, you not only help in saving energy, you might also get a discount from your store.

7. Battery Is a Crime. Rechargeable Battery Isn’t!

Batteries contain toxic materials. They produce heavy metal like arsenic, mercury, and Iron Maiden (okay, just kidding about the last one). Thus, disposal batteries need proper care. Once the heavy metal in batteries seeps into the ground, it has a good chance of contaminating the ground water and soil. When buying products that need batteries, pick those that are rechargeable. That way battery disposal is limited and you save on the cost of buying new batteries.

8. Bigger Cars Are Bigger Problems.

Good thing SUV sales everywhere are going down. SUVs use much more energy than compact sedans for the same distance. While using SUV’s could be fun, there is also that tinge of indifference to the current energy issues and environmental problems we are facing. Reducing the use of SUVs on the street may not mean too much in terms greenhouse gas emissions but it’s a signal to manufacturers to build more energy efficient vehicles. Meanwhile, smaller cars are more efficient, easier to maneuver and park, and most newer model small cars are packed with some serious safety features, meaning you won’t have to sacrifice size for security.

9. Solar Is SO Good!

The use of solar power is an excellent idea if you want to tackle the issues of energy conservation and environmental protection. If there is one thing that the world needs most at this time, it is the widespread use of solar power. Thankfully, it’s never been easier or more affordable to add a full or partial solar system to your home. Look into it!

10. Save Energy and Frustration.

Energy saving devices may cost a little extra but the pay-offs are much more than the extra cost in terms of longer life spans and energy saved. Seriously. Just go for it and you’ll feel a lot better about yourself too. Don’t you hate changing light bulbs? Well, switching to an LED bulb could mean you won’t have to change that bulb again for another 22 years if you use it 3 hours a day. Use it for 6 hours a day? Fine, you won’t have to change it for 11 years. Some of my light bulbs are harder to access than an impenetrable fortress, so the idea of having to change them every 11 years rather than every 3 months, like a traditional light bulb, is pretty enticing. Don’t you agree? Make the switch to energy saving devices.

11. It’s a Family Affair.

It is best if you get your whole family involved in your quest to conserve energy. This is because all of you would be consuming energy every day. Talk to them about the benefits of saving energy, as well as the consequences of not taking action. Explain things properly, and make sure to make it clear how everyone can help make a difference.

12. Power Up That Dishwasher!

It is always best to use your dishwasher with a full load. Doing it this way can help to conserve energy over washing the dishes by hand. Aside from that, keep in mind that using a dishwasher (with a full load) actually consumes less amounts of water as well as energy than washing the dishes manually. Newer models of dishwashers often include an energy saving or efficient mode that will clean your dishes using the least amount of water and energy possible.

13. Cover It Before You Cool It.

It is important to cover or wrap foods that you store inside your refrigerator. This is because foods that are uncovered can release moisture inside the cooling unit. When that happens, it actually makes the compressor work harder, which means more energy consumed. Besides that, it also makes your fridge smell funky. So please, wrap it up folks.

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Passive Solar Windows for Different Climates

Passive Solar Windows for Different Climates

Passive solar windows are a one-time investment that can help you save energy over a long period of time. During summer, it can help keep the heat out and the cool in. During winter, it can help keep the heat in and maximize the heating rays of the sun.

Different climates means that people need to position and install their windows differently to take advantage of solar windows’ various properties.

Passive Solar Windows for Hot and Sunny Climates

In hot and sunny climates, glazed windows should be installed towards the south of the house.

This allows the windows to collect heat when the sun is low in the sky during the day. That means the heat won’t overheat by allowing the sun’s rays into the house during peak hours.

You can also use a number of shielding devices such as awnings or overhangs to prevent overheating during summer.

Other windows in the house can still be installed, but they should have a shade or glaze installed so they let less light into the house. Having north facing windows in a hot and sunny climate can lead to overheating.

Passive Solar Windows for Cool Climates

There are two main strategies for heating up a home with passive solar windows in cold climates: trombe walls and using a greenhouse methodology.

A trombe wall is a big wall, usually painted black, which allows you to absorb heat into the house without heat leaking out.

The main concern with using a big window is that while the sun’s rays can come into the home and heat up the air, the glass conducts heat so well that it can all escape back through the glass.

The trombe wall solves this issue by trapping the heated air between the glass and the trombe wall, then circulating it into the house before the heat has a chance to escape through the glass.

The greenhouse approach uses similar technology to a greenhouse to keep heated air in the house. You use a large number of windows to let the sun’s rays into your house, then you use a controlled timer to circulate the air within your house in a way that optimizes the heat and reduces the amount of heat that escapes through the same glass windows that let the heat in.

Are Passive Solar Windows for You?

Passive solar windows can work for both hot and cold climates, whether there’s a lot of sun or just a little bit of sun.

To determine whether or not your home qualifies for passive solar windows, talk to an environmental contractor in your area. Make sure you get several different opinions to get a definitive sense of whether or not it’s worth the investment.

 

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