Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

One of the basic tenets of sustainable design is reduce, reuse, recycle. Yet, we often see residential projects, both new construction, and renovations, that ignore this basic principle. The U.S Green Building Council estimates nearly 30 percent of the waste generated in the United States is from the construction industry with half of the nearly 325 millions tons of waste coming directly from residential construction. These figures are staggering and, sadly, are only one side of the puzzle. We haven’t even quantified the emissions or energy needed to power these homes after they are built nor have we looked at …

5 myths about solar panels, debunked

Home solar panels can drastically cut or even eliminate electricity bills, reduce a home’s carbon footprint, increase resale value, and may even help a home sell faster. The cost of rooftop solar systems has fallen dramatically in recent years, and most homeowners have the option of buying the system, leasing it on reasonable payment terms, or having a third-party pay for and install the system at no up-front cost at all for the homeowner. Plus, home solar systems are eligible for federal tax credits. All of this explains why the number of homeowners installing solar has sky-rocketed across America. Nevertheless, …

Shedding new light: 8 surprising facts that will have you rethinking your lighting

You step into a dark room, turn on the light switch and go about your day without giving it another thought. But here’s the thing — you should. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the average American home has approximately 50 light sockets, and most of those still contain inefficient light bulbs. These bulbs spend 90 percent of the energy they use creating heat around the bulb and only the remaining 10 percent providing any real, actual light. This is just one surprising fact about your lighting you may never have considered. To get you thinking about your lights …

Easy winter weatherproofing: Keep the chill out as temperatures drop

Households heating with natural gas, which is almost half of U.S. homes, are expected to spend an average of $635 on heating this winter — 22 percent more than last winter, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration — but some easy seasonal maintenance tips can make a big difference. “There are several simple, inexpensive ways consumers can save money on utility bills this winter, and still stay warm and comfortable as temperatures begin to drop,” said Jill Murphy, a home heating and energy efficiency expert with Lennox Industries. “By taking the initiative to weatherproof their home before the start …

It’s time: Signs your heating system needs a tune-up

Temperatures are falling, pumpkin spice everything has reappeared and stores have already put out holiday displays — all signs that winter is either on the way or already here, depending on where you live. If you haven’t already had your heating system tuned up, now is the time. Neglect is a top cause of heating system inefficiency and failure, according to ENERGYSTAR.gov. Proper maintenance can help ensure your system works as efficiently and cost-effectively as possible throughout the winter. Failing to care for your heating system now could leave you without heat or with hefty emergency repair bills if the system …

Replacing a furnace? How to choose an energy-efficient system

If it’s time to replace your furnace, you may be wondering if it’s worth the extra investment to buy an energy-efficient system. Or, you may be unsure how to choose an energy-efficient system for your home. “Energy-efficient heating systems can substantially lower your fuel costs over the lifetime of the system, so it’s well worth investing the time and money to find just the right one,” says Chip Wade, HGTV(R) expert. “Depending on where you live, an energy-efficient gas furnace can be between 12 and 16 percent more efficient than standard models, according to ENERGY STAR.” Wade offers some guidance …

How to Tackle a Dust-Free Renovation

Kristen Johnson* loved her home, her family, and their active lifestyle. She’d never want to change a thing — except for her foyer and adjoining dining room. When she and her husband first moved into their home, they had intended to refinish the hardwood floors in those areas in a darker stain to better fit their style, but life got in the way. Twelve years, two boys and countless birthday parties, pets and indoor soccer games later, their floors were covered in scuffs, scratches, and stains, and some of their walls needed repair. To complicate matters even further, they had …

Must-have elements for building a sustainable new home

When someone builds a home for you, you have the opportunity to make it as sustainable, eco-friendly and energy-efficient as possible. Not only are sustainable homes more cost-effective over the long term, they have a smaller environmental impact and can be more appealing to homebuyers when you’re ready to sell and move. In fact, more than half of Realtors report consumers are interested in sustainability, according to the National Association of Realtors’ REALTORS and Sustainability report. What’s more, 70 percent say a home’s efficient use of energy is important to potential buyers. If you’re having a home built for you, it’s …

Save Money Through Energy Efficiency

As much as half of the average homeowner’s monthly utility expenses go toward cooling and heating, according to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). For many households, that makes energy the largest home-related expense each month, next to a mortgage payment. Fortunately, numerous technological advances are making it easier than ever to manage home energy use. In fact, the DOE estimates you can save as much as 10 percent a year on energy costs by simply adjusting the temperature up or down when you’re away during the day. Installing a programmable thermostat that never forgets to adjust on a busy …

Green Interiors: Getting Ready for an Electric Vehicle

Green Interiors: Getting Ready for an Electric Vehicle In the not too distant future, electric vehicles (EV) will become the norm and garages outfitted with charging equipment will become standard. Embracing new technology is exciting but it is also full of unknowns. Fortunately, we’ve reached the stage where electric cars are not only for the “first adapters” and a lot of the unknowns have become standardized. Here are a few tips, facts, and figures to get you ready for the future! You might think going to fill-up a car with gas is easier than installing a charging station at your …