Furnace heating costs can be quite high, since warming a space requires a lot of energy, but your expenses may be higher than they have to be. There are a few ways that you can make your furnace operate more efficiently that will save you money.
Gray water is water that has been used for laundering clothes, washing dishes or bathing. Any household wastewater, aside from that used in toilets, is considered gray water. Reusing gray water not only reduces your household's fresh water needs, it also saves energy, as it cuts the amount of wastewater bound for energy-intensive sewage treatment centers (see References 4). Gray water treatment systems can make ...
Improving your house's energy efficiency not only helps the environment, it can improve the comfort of your home and save you money. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, in 2008, Americans saved more than $19 billion and decreased greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to the emissions of 29 million cars by increasing the energy efficiency of their homes. (See References 1)
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, lighting is a major factor in energy consumption, particularly in commercial buildings (see References 5). By changing the way you use light and improving your lighting efficiency, you can reduce your environmental impact at work or at home. Going green with lighting can also save you money on utility costs and the purchase of lighting supplies, helping your ...
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Energy efficient roofs, sometimes called "cool roofs" transfer less heat to buildings, decreasing the need for air-conditioning, which reduces utility costs and greenhouse gas emissions. Cool metal roofing materials reflect a high percentage of the sun's rays and quickly release heat as it is absorbed. Though some energy-efficient roofing materials require a greater initial investment, the lifetime return in reduced energy costs more than pays back the difference. (See References 1)
It might surprise you that out of all of the things in your house that use water, your toilet is by far the thirstiest. In a 2010 conference presentation, Northeastern University professor Vladimir Novotny, noted that without water conservation, toilets account for about 26 percent of water in U.S. single-family homes. More-efficient and better-functioning flushers can significantly reduce the water wasted when you visit the loo. Novotny estimated such conservation methods would reduce toilet water use to only about 10 percent of the total. (See References 6, Table 2)
The U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency created the Energy Star program to assist homeowners and consumers in determining the most energy-efficient products on the market. Homes built or remodeled to specific standards can also receive the Energy Star label, which means they are at least 20 to 30 percent more efficient than standard homes in the U.S. (See References 1, 2)
Residential lighting accounts for nearly 15 percent of the average American home's electricity costs (see References 1). Dimmer switches for lighting are one way to help reduce your electricity demand and save energy without sacrificing comfort. Although dimmers are sometimes used to create soft mood lighting, they also work throughout your home to help manage consumption, and ultimately lower your utility bills.
U.S. households spend more of their energy budget on heating than any other expense. According to the Energy Star program, heating costs make up 29 percent of the average energy bill, significantly more than the second highest energy expense -- cooling -- which accounts for about 17 percent of your budget. (See References 1) The big costs associated with heating mean that improving the efficiency of your heating system can translate into big savings.
Wind turbines generate 100 percent emission-free electricity from a perpetually renewable resource, the wind. As people look for ways to improve the environment, stabilize and reduce their energy costs, and become more independent from traditional power companies, they are increasingly turning to wind technology. Horizontal access turbines, which look like pinwheels, remain the most common, although vertical and helical models (which have an egg-beater shape and a spiral staircase shape) are also becoming available.
Energy-efficient home improvements reduce the amount of energy you use in your home on a daily basis. Such improvements can raise the value of your home, make it more comfortable and save you money on monthly utility bills. You could even qualify for tax credits to help offset the cost of these improvements (see References 1). Giving your home an energy-efficient makeover may include simple measures like replacing an old appliance, or larger modifications like replacing or upgrading your house's HVAC system.
LEED, an acronym for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is an internationally recognized green building certification program. Through third-party verification, LEED ensures that buildings and communities have been built with attention to certain aspects of environmentally sensitive design, including water and energy savings, CO2 emissions reduction, indoor environmental quality and resource stewardship. LEED provides homeowners, business owners and project managers with a framework for implementing practical green building design, construction and maintenance. (See References 1.)
Improving energy efficiency in a rental apartment requires attention to the same details as in a house or condominium. Airflow, lighting, insulation and power use are all important elements of the efficiency equation. Renters lack full control over their properties, which can make remediation of certain efficiency shortcomings more difficult, but there are a number of steps that renters can either follow themselves or recommend to their landlords.
Energy efficiency is about more than just a yellow sticker on a new appliance. By making a few adjustments to your home, you can save money on your electric bill while reducing your carbon footprint. While it may not practical to install new framing or cover half of your house with earth just to save energy, it is practical to switch out some lightbulbs and caulk around the windows.
Energy-efficient roofing materials can dramatically reduce household energy use, thereby decreasing greenhouse gas emissions and significantly lowering utility bills. Though the initial price of an energy-efficient roof can be slightly higher, the investment is made up for in reduced utility bills over the life of the building. Many Energy Star-rated roofs are also eligible for tax credits. (See References 1)
With rising fuel costs, automotive efficiency has become a primary concern for many new vehicle buyers. An accurate estimate of fuel efficiency must take into account a number of factors, including driving style, engine type, vehicle option packages and overall efficiency under a range of different conditions. Fuel-economy ratings from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency can be a good source for initial efficiency projections, but should also be followed up with driver feedback on real-world performance in various settings.
Home heating systems operate inefficiently for a wide range of reasons, but there are several equipment changes that can reduce the energy required to heat a home. Signs that your home heating operation might be inefficient include increased energy bills, increased repairs, high humidity, increased dust, loud operation and rooms that heat up too much or too little.
Home canning allows eco-conscious vegetarians to preserve the bounty of local fruits and veggies that come during the summer and autumn months, which leads to the possibility of eating local throughout the year. Vegetarians who enjoy cooking can take the next step into crafting their own homemade sauces, salsas and chutneys -- and then preserving them for later home use or for gift giving.
Modern Energy Star appliances run 25 to 50 percent more efficiently than older models, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council. New washers and dishwashers use less water at lower temperatures, so they need a detergent that can clean effectively in cool water without producing too many suds. Suds can prevent efficient cleaning, and the lower volume of water can leave residue behind. That's why newer appliances call for high-efficiency detergent specifically formulated to meet these needs.
As the green movement caught on, many people started looking around their homes for ways to reduce energy consumption. For some, the switch to energy-efficient compact fluorescent bulbs was an easy way to feel like they were making a difference. Today, you can find dozens of varieties of these energy-efficient lights to fit just about any light fixture.
Your average furniture upholstery is surrounded by strong smells, including human feet, animal hair and spilled food bits. Over time, your upholstery absorbs those scents and can start to seriously stink. You don't have to resort to harsh chemicals to remove those odors, though. Sticking with simple and effective cleansers means your supplies cost less than commercial products and remain earth-friendly, even after they go into a trash bag or compost heap. (See References 4)
The term wind energy refers to renewable-energy systems that convert the wind's force into mechanical power and in turn, use mechanical power to generate electricity or perform traditionally agricultural tasks, such as grinding grain or pumping water (see References 1). According to the U.S. Department of Energy, residential wind-energy systems are cost-efficient and, under proper circumstances, small systems are capable of reducing electric bills by more than half (see References 2, page 1).
No matter how well a building is insulated, it will never reach maximum energy efficiency if the roof is allowed to absorb thermal heat. The roof's shape and materials and the direction in which the roof faces all play a part in how much heat the roof retains, but reflective roof paint can go a long way toward reducing the amount of the sun's heat that penetrates the roof and raises indoor temperatures. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, a simple coat of reflective paint can reduce the summer temperature of your roof by 50 degrees or more. (See References 3)
If you have recently bought a new dishwasher or washing machine, you've probably noticed that the manual emphasizes the use of high-efficiency detergent only. It's not that regular soap will break the machine, it's simply a matter of effectiveness and convenience. New appliances are made to be efficient. In the case of water-using appliances, water efficiency is just as important as energy efficiency. High-efficiency detergent ensures that you only have to run the cycle once, and your machine will not overflow. If you are eco-conscious enough to prefer homemade detergent, most recipes work in high-efficiency machines.
Making the switch from standard incandescent lightbulbs to a form of energy-efficient bulbs is an environmentally friendly way to save money in household energy costs. Transitioning 15 standard incandescent bulbs in your house to one of the more energy-efficient options on the market can save approximately $50 each year on electric bills. (See References 1)
When gas prices are high and reliance on fossil fuels becomes increasingly problematic from a variety of perspectives, taking control of your own pocketbook and saving fuel have added allure. Average drivers have quite a bit of control when it comes to how much fuel they use. Your car's mileage per gallon rating may seem like a magic number that does not deviate, but it is actually more of an estimate that fluctuates depending on driver behavior and other circumstances.
An energy audit is an assessment of your home's efficiency. Utility companies and some individuals offer this service to homeowners for a fee; however, you can perform a simple audit on your own. Your main goal is to go through the house and take stock of any issues you see that cause energy waste. Once you complete your audit, you can look over the list and consider your options for fixing the problem areas.
Saving energy benefits the Earth as a whole by conserving resources and reducing pollution, but it also cushions your personal pocketbook over time. These savings may seem insignificant in the short term, but they add up over a year or more. Many items can improve the day-to-day energy efficiency of your home. The Energy Star and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency websites help homeowners determine what is best for their situation.
Energy efficient homes reduce unnecessary energy consumption, greenhouse gas emissions and demands for nonrenewable resources. They simultaneously provide healthier living conditions and offer homeowners significant money savings over conventional homes. Many factors can comprise residential energy efficiency, and both new and existing homes can be improved with energy efficient strategies and products. (See References 1)
The U.S. Department of Energy says that about 10 percent of your home's electricity goes toward lighting, and upgrading to newer, more efficient bulbs, fixtures and controls can reduce that by up to 75 percent (see References 5). The first step in increasing the energy-efficiency of your home's lighting, however, is to reduce your dependence on artificial lights.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the average American household spends $1,400 annually on energy bills (see References 1). On average, American homes emit 4 metric tons of carbon dioxide per person every year, making a significant contribution to global warming (see References 2). Whether you own your home or rent, a few simple projects can reduce your energy consumption, lowering your energy bills while fighting global warming.
You probably don't give your hot water heater much thought. After all, it delivers years and years of dependable hot water with minimal effort. At some point, though, it will stop working. You could cut down on stress, greenhouse gas emissions and your energy bills by replacing it with a high efficiency model before it breaks down.
Technological improvements in the manufacturing of refrigerators and freezers have led to new models that operate much more efficiently than models from decades ago. A refrigerator with a top-mounted freezer and automatic defrost made in 2010 used only half the electricity of a 1990 model, according to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (see References 4).
On a clear day, your roof can be dangerously hot. That's because dark asphalt shingles -- a common roofing choice for homeowners -- absorb sunlight and convert it into heat. Some of that heat radiates into the air, and some transfers into your home. Rather than invest in a roof that may be raising your heating or cooling bills, consider an alternative -- energy-saving shingles.
Energy Star is a rating system that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy created to help consumers and homeowners determine the most energy-efficient products for their homes. Additionally, new or existing homes built or remodeled with at least 20 to 30 percent more efficiency than conventional homes can receive the Energy Star label. Through a partnership agreement with the EPA, a builder or remodeler works closely with third-party verifiers to meet Energy Star's standards. (See References 1)
The ties between the home-building industry and green technologies continue to strengthen as the demand for energy-efficient homes increases. Buyers look at more than the floor plan and living amenities of a home; they look for the use of earth-friendly materials, the installation of energy-efficient heating and cooling systems, and the structure's adaptability to future technologies.
Boxwoods have been a familiar sight in American landscaping since colonial times, and landscapers still take advantage of their versatility. Individual boxwoods can range from a knee-high shrub to a 15-foot tree, depending on the cultivar and how it's pruned over the years. The shrub is not hardy in cold climates, and requires protection from winter snow and winds. Burlap is commonly used for this purpose, and a few wooden or metal stakes can provide a sturdy base that will hold up to winter weather.
America’s love affair with cheap energy is ending, and the cost to supply power to your home is higher today than it’s ever been. Wasting energy at home not only increases your utility bills, it strains an already overtaxed power grid, which can affect your neighbors and contribute to climate change. Conserving energy at home is a personal choice, but when multiplied by the conserving efforts of tens of millions of homeowners, it can reduce our energy demands and increase our long-term quality of life.
If you're new to vegetarianism, seitan and textured vegetable protein, or TVP, are probably both high on your frequent ingredient list. Both are plant proteins used as meat replacements in vegetarian recipes because they can be made to resemble meat in texture and flavor. Both sources of protein help to simplify the meal-planning process by reducing the need for strategic food-combining and extensive knowledge of the amino acid contents of different foods. Despite their similarities, these two foods are not the same -- a better nutritional profile and simpler manufacturing methods make seitan the choice experts recommend.
To improve crop yield and control weeds, many farmers apply chemical herbicides to their fields. Many homeowners also reach for herbicides to lighten the work of lawn and garden maintenance on their property. However, when improperly or excessively applied, herbicides may seep into groundwater, contaminating wells and municipal water systems.
Although shelves are often the result of upcycling larger pieces of furniture and scrap materials, sometimes it's the shelves themselves that need a new life. Wooden shelves are the most versatile to repurpose, especially if you have carpentry skills good enough to build benches, end tables or picture frames, but even wire shelves and large built-in units can be reconfigured.
As of 2011, the average family in the United States spends about $2,000 on home utility bills, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. (See Reference 1 Page 3) The type of heating system you choose for your home plays a large part in your utility costs, as some heating systems perform more efficiently than others. Both heat pumps and oil-fueled furnaces can be energy efficient, but both systems also have potential disadvantages.
According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, fossil fuel use for the purpose of transportation results in one-third of carbon dioxide emissions in the country. Of that number, nearly 60 percent of the carbon dioxide came from personal vehicles (See Reference 1). For a green alternative, riding a bicycle to run errands or commute to work emits no carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gases, but the wrong size bike can cause problems. If you've been avoiding getting on your road bike because of shoulder or neck discomfort, you may have a stem that isn't fit correctly to your body. With a few measurements, you'll know what size stem you need to make riding your bike comfortable and efficient.
Cycling is on the rise in urban areas of the United States. Since the early 1990s, ridership in New York City is up nearly 400 percent; in Portland, Oregon 300 percent; and in Boston about 120 percent. (See References 1, 2 and 3) The trend reflects Americans’ desire for physical fitness as well as concern for the environment. Biking to work or school is a great cardiovascular workout, and it reduces the number of cars on the road, cutting down on air pollution and traffic. Properly storing your bike when it’s not in use is an important part of keeping it in top working condition -- and one space-saving method, especially suited to apartment dwellers, is hanging it from ceiling hooks.
When winter temperatures start to cool, you want to keep all the warm air your heating unit produces in your home. The more air escapes, the harder your heating unit works, which equals bigger utilities costs. While you’re unpacking your coat, hat and scarf for the winter, take a few minutes to prepare your home as well. One benefit is reduced utility costs; another is an earth-saving benefit because less energy must be produced.
Even small efficiency measures, like installing new appliances, can be prohibitively expensive for homeowners or small business. Applying for a grant or rebate can greatly help with financing these improvements. Grants are particularly desirable because they don't need to be paid back, as loans do. However, homeowners should consider a variety of options for financing energy efficiency upgrades, as grants are just one means of funding.
Refrigerators use up to 4 percent of a household's energy each month, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. (See Reference 1) This amount can be reduced with a few simple steps to improve refrigerator efficiency -- these preventive measures can also lengthen the life of your refrigerator.
Your old wood furnace may seem like a smoky drain on your wallet, but it doesn't have to be. There are a handful of ways to make your wood furnace more energy and cost efficient. Most wood furnaces simply require a little maintenance, a few repairs or the right wood to burn; others may benefit from an equipment upgrade. The environmentally smart choice is to make your existing wood furnace more energy efficient, instead of shipping it off to the scrap yard and buying a new one.
The energy and money savings generated from owning and operating a high efficiency HVAC unit is tremendous. However, the unit is not without its faults. One of the most common problems that owners experience is an odor that may come from the system over time. The mysterious foul odor usually isn't from the unit alone; it can originate from a few places throughout the system. Sometimes, you can find the source of the odor and fix it before calling a high efficiency HVAC unit repairperson. You just have to know where to look.
Weathering a particularly bitter winter without the aid of a home heating system seems, at best, daunting. However, conditioned comfort comes at a cost; home heating and cooling systems account for roughly one-fourth of a structure's energy use. (See Reference 1, Page 2) Fortunately, high efficiency systems, such as Energy Star furnaces, can help minimize this impact. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, a defining feature of high-efficiency furnaces is sealed combustion, a process by which outdoor makeup air is piped directly into the burner. (See Reference 2)
Using high-efficiency (HE) laundry detergent in conjunction with an energy-saving washing machine ensures optimal cleaning performance while preventing mechanical problems. Unlike their traditional counterparts, which completely submerge soiled clothing in water before agitating dirt particles loose, HE washers use a tumbler system that requires far less water — up to 50 percent less (see References 1). Because regular detergents may be too concentrated or get too sudsy for the low amount of water used in HE washers, manufacturers suggest buying specially formulated HE detergents. But you can create your own gentle laundry formula that will ensure your machine’s longevity, save money and eliminate your exposure to dangerous chemicals present in commercial detergents (see References 2). In HE machines, using low-sudsing ingredients is essential, as is adding a much smaller amount of the detergent to each load. This recipe yields very few suds because it lacks the chemical-based emulsifying surfactants that are found in mainstream detergents (see References 2).
Making a personal effort to live a sustainable lifestyle can be quite inspiring at the beginning. Then reality starts setting in, and many people wonder if they have the time or focus necessary to commit all the way. Doing something to chip in – however small it may seem – makes a tangible difference. One of the easiest, most enjoyable ways to jump start a can-do eco-attitude is by transforming something old into something new — for example, repurposing a sweater to a sweater dress.
If your cashmere sweater is looking worn, give it a second life by turning it into a new accessory. Cashmere is a fine fabric that deserves to be used for as long as possible. This extremely soft, delicate fabric comes from the fine underbelly hairs of goats from central Asia (see References 2).
Determining your impact on the environment from carbon dioxide can empower you to make good decisions for conserving resources and energy. The concept of your carbon or ecological footprint can be hard to grasp without a means to quantify your impact. Many tools can assess your carbon footprint and provide the information to make the first step toward conservation. Using a ratio between two sources can show the more eco-friendly choice.
Biomass is plant material that can be converted into fuel -- when you burn wood to heat your home, you're heating with biomass. However, burning plant material does not make full use of its potential energy. The process of gasification efficiently converts the majority of plant material into fuel for applications such as heating homes and powering vehicles. The conversion of plant material into energy takes place inside a biomass gasifier.
There are tens of thousands of species of trees around the world, and the wood from all of them is combustible. When wood burns, it gives off heat energy that can be used for many things. A tiny wood fire can heat a cup of tea to warm a thirsty hiker. Where wood products are abundant, wood-fired electrical generators produce electricity for entire communities. However, the wood from each species of tree burns differently; one of the most notable differences is whether the tree that produced the wood was a hardwood or softwood.
A great ecofriendly birthday present is good for the environment and also honors a child's wants, needs and personality. Green gift ideas include more than toys made from nontoxic, biodegradable materials. They are objects and experiences that sustain a child's interest and enjoyment, engage creativity and encourage healthy activity. Some of the best are simple and homemade. Others, such as books and bicycles, may offer potential for reuse whether purchased new or used.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, burning fossil fuels accounts for more than 75 percent of human-generated greenhouse gases, and transportation makes up one-third of this percentage (see Reference 1). Purchasing a more fuel-efficient car can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Although the majority of tax credits for fuel-efficient vehicles have been phased out, some credits are still in place for certain cars.
Efficiency is a practical goal for businesses trying to improve their bottom line and individuals seeking to cut home energy costs. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency defines efficiency in several ways in determining the optimal use of water and energy; the common denominator is minimizing the impact on the environment while maximizing the output of a resource.
“Freon” is the DuPont Co.'s trade name for a class of volatile organic chemicals known as chlorofluorocarbons, or CFCs. (See Reference 1) Once widely used as refrigerants, solvents and propellants, these industrial compounds are now being phased out globally due to their destructive effect on the layer of ozone that occurs naturally in Earth’s upper atmosphere. However, due to the environmental persistence of these chemicals, scientists warn that the CFCs already emitted will continue to affect our atmosphere for decades to come. (See Reference 2)
Fireplaces have become less common due to the popularity and ease of fossil fuel use for home heating. In just the first 70 years of the 20th century, the percentage of homes using a wood-burning appliance for heat dropped from 90 to about 1 percent, the U.S. Department of Energy reports. However, since the 1970s, fireplace use is getting a second look as a home heating method (See Reference 1). When used efficiently, wood or pellet fuel can reduce your dependence on nonrenewable energy sources, making them a viable alternative to electric or gas heating.
Most of the energy required to run a dishwasher is used to heat the water, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. (See Reference 2, Page 28) The amount of water used in a dishwasher cycle varies by model, but models built before 1994 waste over 10 gallons per cycle, according to Energy Star, a joint program of the DOE and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. (See Reference 1) Take steps to increase the efficiency of your dishwasher to reduce energy and water usage.
A typical family in the United States spends at least $2,000 a year on utility costs, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. (See Reference 1 Page 3) Heat is the major utility used in the home. The U.S. Department of Energy reports that about 45 percent of your energy use goes toward heating, while 18 percent goes toward water heating. (See Reference 1 Page 4) You can greatly reduce your natural gas usage by monitoring your home's heating needs, as well as gas appliance usage.
The Kyoto Protocol, enacted by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, or UNFCCC, in 1997, is an international agreement aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) by at least 5 percent below 1990 levels for a five-year period from 2008 to 2012. The treaty calls for industrialized nations, or Annex I countries, which produced at least 55 percent of the world's total carbon dioxide emissions in 1990, to participate (see Reference 1). As of 2012, 37 Annex I countries have signed and ratified the treaty and 191 states (Annex and non-Annex) are participating (see Reference 2). Despite this, GHG emissions continue to climb steeply (see Reference 3). The Kyoto protocol didn't meet targeted emission reductions but increased awareness and international cooperation toward resolving the global climate crisis.
Lead occurs naturally in the environment, but in concentrated doses it poses a serious health risk to humans and animals. Lead poses a particularly serious health threat to young children, developing fetuses and pregnant women. It causes a number of health conditions related to the nervous system, such as brain damage, seizures or even death, according to the EPA. In addition to eating a healthy diet, which reduces the amount of lead the body can absorb, keeping lead out of the environment helps to protect against lead poisoning (see References 1).
Most baseboard heaters, be they electric or hot water based, have small vents or louvers that can be opened and closed. Homeowners often wonder whether there is an optimal position for the louvers to promote energy efficiency. An understanding of what the louvers are for can help you make a decision as to when they should be opened and closed.
When the weather outside turns frosty, your furnace works hard to provide even warmth throughout your home. Unfortunately, that may not be the most energy efficient heating solution, because the rooms in your home are not evenly used. Bedrooms are occupied primarily at night, home office and family rooms primarily during daylight and evening hours. Supplemental heating through baseboard systems and space heaters can provide comfort while reducing the need for whole-house heating. To determine which supplemental heat is most efficient for your home, you must first take a closer look at some lifestyle issues.
The base for your ceramic table can continue its life as a decorative table base for an altogether different tabletop. Since the typical ceramic table base consists of a sturdy metal frame supported on metal legs, it can support a good deal of weight. That will enable you to attach a concrete tabletop of the same size. The concrete surface can be pre-tinted to a variety of attractive colors, or it can accept many different styles of decorative finishes.