Energy Saving Tips for the Winter

Summer is long over and we are quickly nearing some fun festivities like Christmas, Hanukkah, etc., which usually indicate that the winter season is in full effect. And what do these seasons bring besides peppermint mochas and holiday gifts? The answer is short days, dark evenings, and bigger electricity bills. But it always doesn’t have to be this way, because there are things that you can do to decrease your energy consumption at home and save money! So lets get these energy saving tips rolling and see our electricity bills in the fall and winter shrinking.

Seal It Up

A common reason why people complain about insufficient warmth in their homes even though they still are paying huge heating bills is that they are losing heat through cracks around their windows. Using weatherstrip around your windows will reduce heat loss, keeping your home warmer and using less energy to heat it. And using less energy means you pay less on your utility bills!

Lower the Temperature

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Although to some this might seem like a weird tip, you may want to think about lowering the temperature on your thermostat to around 68 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit, or even lower if you are comfortable with your home being a bit cooler. This will let you save on energy, since your heating won’t be blasting all the time, but you will still be living in a home that is comfortably warm.

Let the Sun Warm You Up

Sun is an amazing energy source, and all the best solar lights and solar panels are able to produce a ton of electricity and very bright lighting when the sun is out. The same also goes for heating, because natural sunlight is a great heat source, too. So use it; keep your curtains and blinds open during the day and let the sunshine in! On a sunny day, even if it is cold outside, the sun will warm up your house or apartment and you will be able to turn your thermostat down to save energy on heating.

Switch to LED

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You maybe have heard people talking about switching their incandescent and CFL bulbs to LED ones, and for good reason. LED bulbs consume up to 10 times less electricity, yet provide the same, if not better, illumination as other types of light bulbs. So exchange all of your light bulbs to LEDs and see your energy consumption drop. On top of that, think about getting LED holiday lights instead of ones with incandescent bulbs. Many people break out the Christmas lights as soon Halloween is over, and LED holiday lights will make sure that your festive home decor won’t cause your electricity bill to skyrocket for two whole months.

Unplug – Not Standby

Did you know that even if you leave electronic on a standby mode, which essentially looks like the devices are turned off, they still continue to consume quite a lot of electricity? In fact, electronics on standby make up as much as 10% of your total household electricity load. So start saving on energy and fully turn off and unplug your electronics whenever you’re not using them.

Cool the Water

Lastly, also make sure that you lower the temperature of your water heater, since water heating racks up around one fifth of all the energy that is consumed within your household. Use the warm (not hot) setting and adjust the temperature to around 120 degrees Fahrenheit. This will help reduce your energy bills and reduce the risk of you scalding your hands with hot water when you come inside.

Have any other simple ideas for saving energy during the winter? We would love to hear your tips and tricks!

 

**Arthur Smith has been working in solar and lighting industries for a long time, and now he shares his experience and knowledge on renewable energy, lighting, and energy efficiency on his blog LEDwatcher.com.

 

 

Why Should Homeowners Care About Conserving Energy?

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Have you heard the buzz about going green? Homeowners across the country have started to embrace a greener lifestyle, but what’s in it for them? Here are just a few of the reasons why homeowners should be concerned with energy conservation!

Improves your quality of life.

Everyone wants to feel comfortable in his or her home, and energy efficiency can help homeowners reach a new level of comfort. Do you have to snuggle up under blankets to stay warm or turn on a ceiling fan for extra cooling? Do you have to wear socks around the house because of icy cold floors? These problems can easily be fixed with insulation, which will reduce your energy use and make you more comfortable. This is just one way energy efficiency can improve the quality of your life. The opportunities to make your home more comfortable are endless, which is why so many homeowners love tackling green home improvement projects.

Saves you money.

Perhaps the main reason why homeowners start to conserve energy is to save money. Most homeowners spend around $2,000 a year on home energy bills, but this can be reduced by 20-30% if you make energy efficient upgrades in the home. The less energy you consume, the less you will have to spend on water and electric bills every month. This means you will have more money in your pocket to allocate towards your mortgage, savings, or paying down student loan debt.

Helps the environment.

The less energy that is consumed by homeowners, the more society can save valuable natural resources. Energy conservation can also reduce air pollution. Everything from cars to power plants contribute to air pollution, so the less you rely on these things, the more you can help keep the air clean.

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Improves the economy.

Besides the benefits it can bring to you personally, becoming more energy efficient at home can also help the economy. Energy efficient projects, such as installing solar panels on the roof of a building for example, can build jobs. In fact, in 2010 alone, there were over 800,000 jobs in America related to energy efficiency. As more homeowners begin to conserve energy, manufacturers are forced to adjust to this new type of consumer demand, thus conserving energy sparks innovation. If every homeowner made an effort to be more energy efficient, the results would be huge and far-reaching.

Now that you know why you should care about conserving energy, are you ready to start living green? Here are a few easy ways you can get started:

  • Switch to energy efficient light bulbs, which use 25-80% less energy than traditional bulbs.
  • Install a power strip. Leaving devices on can waste energy, but did you know that devices plugged directly into the wall can still waste energy while they’re off? Plug as many devices as you can into a power strip, and then turn the entire strip off when it’s not in use to cut energy off at the source.
  • Install a programmable thermostat, which can help you make sure you are not unnecessarily heating or cooling your home and wasting energy when no one is there.

As you can see, it doesn’t take much to start conserving energy in your home, so why not start today?

M/I Homes takes many steps to ensure that your new home is energy efficient. We build all of our homes to our Whole Home Building Standards, and always work to make sure that our homes are up to the best energy ratings.

** Uma Campbell is a green loving yoga instructor and freelance writer. She currently lives in Southern California where she enjoys writing about natural living, health, and home design.@Umajcampbell www.umajcampbell.wordpress.com

What Is Whole Home?

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As the world has become increasingly more concerned with energy efficiency, so has M/I Homes. We’ve developed our own program, called Whole Home, dedicated to maximizing energy efficiency in the homes we build. Whole Home accomplishes this goal by exceeding basic Energy Star® requirements. Energy Star® is a voluntary program that aims to help businesses and individuals save money and prevent climate change through energy efficiency. Whole Home goes above and beyond that. While Whole Home consists of many features that vary from state to state, it focuses specifically on four major areas:

  1. Energy Efficiency: Using less energy to heat and cool your home
  2. Air: Radically reducing particulates and airborne allergens
  3. Water: Reducing amount of impurity build-up
  4. Sustainability: Reducing your environmental footprint

Overall, the individual features help to save you an average of 30% on your energy bill.

We looked into some of the features that Whole Home has to offer, and these are some of our favorites.

  1. Third Party Home Inspectors: In order to gain an unbiased opinion on the state of our homes, we hire third party RESNET inspectors to test the energy efficiency of our homes not just once, but twice. The first inspection is the Thermal Barrier Checklist and a Duct Blast Test. The second inspection is the Blower Door Test, in which your home is tightly sealed and a fan is strapped to your front door. The fan then blows air out of your home, effectively creating the force of a 20 mph wind against the exterior. The amount of air that is still able to enter your home determines your home’s HERS index rating. Through both of these inspections, the RESNET inspectors are able to verify your home’s energy efficiency, insulation, air tightness, and duct sealing details.
  2. High Efficiency Heating and Cooling Systems: The older systems in traditional homes can score a SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) of 6 or lower. The current minimum for SEER HVAC is 13– our systems score up to a 16 on the scale. For those that don’t know, SEER measures the efficiency of your heat pump and air conditioning systems. We make sure that you get the perfectly sized unit for your home to ensure that you get the best air quality in the most energy-efficient way, which also means that it properly maintains your home’s temperature and level of humidity.

So why does this matter to you? Whole Home’s standards ensure that you get the best for your money.

  • Our PEX Hot & Cold Water Tubing, used in most divisions, has 25% fewer connections than traditional water piping, meaning that you get hot water faster and cleaner water.
  • Most M/I Homes divisions use a minimum of 12 inches of insulation, which is more than standard code, and means extra comfort and lower utility bills.
  • Most homes come with the standard 1” furnace filter. M/I Homes goes above and beyond that, including a furnace filter with a MERV rating of 10 in most divisions. This means no ozone emissions, removes up to 85% of impurities, and even lowers your operating costs.hers_anim

Speaking of lowering your operating costs, remember that HERS Index we talked about earlier? That number tells you how energy efficient your home is, and lower numbers mean higher energy efficiency. A current home built to standard code will have a HERS rating of 100. The average M/I Home has a HERS index of 62. This means even greater energy savings on your home.  For example, when compared to an average home built in 2000 with a monthly utility bill of $250 and a HERS index of 105, you would save you roughly $1,142 per year!

To calculate your savings and find out more about the many features of Whole Home, visit our Whole Home website today.

Guest Blogger: Hints on Servicing Your Hot Water System

A hot water system is an integral part of a great many homes, accounting for nearly a third of the typical household’s energy use. For this reason alone, you should get acquainted with the basic servicing tips to ensure that your system operates smoothly for many years, saving you significant amounts of money in doing so.

Slope

Each hot water system relies on a proper slope. All radiators and pipes have to slope back toward the boiler. If your system fails to heat the water or you hear hammering noises, this indicates an incorrect slope. In order to address these issues, you should check the slope of pipes radiators, and fasten pipes or prop radiators making sure that all the components are properly tilted.

Water Level

The water level in your hot water system’s boiler should be retained at about half full, knowing that a water level that is too low may result in inadequate heating. You should leave an air space between the top of the tank and the surface of the water. For the most part, an automatic filling system will keep the boiler filled with the right amount of water. However, if the water level of your system is constantly low, inspect the pipes for leaks. This can be done by closing the water supply valve and observing the water level for a couple of days. If the level drops dramatically, you’ll be best advised to call out a professional, tell us at a reputable Sydney-based plumbing service.

Expansion Tank

If you want to ensure efficient heating, the water in your hot water system should be heated well above boiling. The water won’t turn to steam since the pressure-reducing valve and expansion tank keep it under pressure. The expansion tank is commonly hung from the basement ceiling, close to the boiler. If you have an older system, the expansion tank could be placed in the attic. If the expansion tank is not filled with enough air, the buildup of pressure will expel the water through the safety relief valve found above the boiler. Without sufficient air in the tank, water will fill it, expanding as it heats up and subsequently escaping through the safety relief valve.

In order to check for air in the tank, you should by lightly touch it. The bottom half of the expansion tank usually feels warmer than the top. If the tank is hot all over, however, it is filled with water and you must drain it. To this end, turn off power to boiler, close the water supply shutoff valve, letting tank cool. Once a combination drain valve is opened, it will let water out and air in. Attach a garden hose to the valve and drain some 10 litres of water. In case you don’t have a combination valve, simply shut off valve between the boiler and expansion tank and then completely drain the tank. Now turn water supply back on, and then turn on power to the boiler to set the system in motion again.

Flushing the System

You should flush the entire hot water system at least once a year to ensure that the water flows freely and keep the pipes clear. Flush the system by opening the blow-off valve and emptying the water into a bucket until it starts to run clear. Watch this video to learn more about it. If the water still appears rusty after the flush, give a professional a call.

 

*** Lillian Connors is a blogger and home improvement enthusiast ever so keen on doing various DIY projects around her house and passionately writing about them. She is also an online marketing consultant, closely collaborating with a number of companies from all over the globe. You can check her out on G+, Facebook and Twitter.

 

5 Easy Tips to Save Energy and Money While Decorating Your Home

When you think about energy savings for your home, you probably think only of your air conditioner or appliances, but there are plenty of small changes you can make around your home to improve its efficiency. Even the way you decorate can make a difference on your energy bill. Check out these five tips for easy ways to save energy at home.

  1. Choose energy-saving window coverings. In the summer, heat from your windows can raise the temperature in your home and increase your cooling costs. In the winter, cold drafts from your windows can make your home chilly. To stop this energy waste, choose blinds, drapes and shutters that provide energy savings. For example, drapery with a thermal lining can help shut out the cold and heat. Looking for more energy-saving window ideas? HouseLogic gives some great advice.
  2. Rearrange your furniture. Take a look around your home. Is the furniture arranged in the most efficient way? Move any furniture that covers an air vent or blocks the flow of air in any way. Keep furniture away from windows that might cause a draft in cooler months or excess heat in the summer. This will keep you more comfortable, so you’ll mess with the heating and cooling less.
  3. Look for the ENERGY STAR label. No matter what your decorative style, there’s a way to incorporate ENERGY STAR products into your design. These energy-saving products are government certified, so you can rest assured you’re not wasting much energy. While ENERGY STAR is most commonly associated with appliances and TVs, there’s actually a wide range of products certified in the government program. You’ll find everything from ceiling fans and light fixtures to windows and doors.
  4. Install ceiling fans. While having a dazzling chandelier in your bedroom or living room may be the look you want, it won’t minimize your energy bill. Instead, install ceiling fans. They can cool you by up to 4 degrees, so you can turn your air conditioner up without being uncomfortable. You can also use the ceiling fan in the winter. When you switch the way the blades rotate, they push hot air down to keep you warmer. Remember, ceiling fans cool people—not rooms. Make sure you turn off the fan when the room’s not occupied.
  5. Fix up your fireplace. While a crackling fire makes your home cozy in the winter, it’s not always efficient. Sure, you can (and should) keep the flue closed to save energy, but is that enough? When you light a fire, a large amount of heat goes up the chimney, not into your home. In the end, you waste more wood or fuel to keep your house toasty. To make it more efficient add a fireback to reflect heat into your living room, install glass fireplace doors that can keep the cold out when the fireplace isn’t in use and replace your damper if it doesn’t fit snuggly.

*** Contributed by SaveOnEnergy.com SaveOnEnergy.com has built a reputation as an exceptional resource for all energy consumers by partnering with many of the most popular retail energy suppliers in the industry. Since its creation in 2003, SaveOnEnergy.com has helped millions of residential and commercial shoppers find a great rate on electricity and/or natural gas.

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