Home In Bay Area

Home Improvement

Sustainability

Green Homes

solar panel
Image by Marufish

 

Britain’s homes account for around 27% of the UK’s carbon emissions, a major cause of climate change. Domestic energy improvement targets of 20% between 2010 and 2020 have been suggested by the UK government.

All new homes are required to have a Code rating under the new Code for Sustainable Homes. The scheme was introduced in 2007 to encourage greener development in the home building industry. A Code rating and certificate must now be included in the Home Information Pack when selling a property. Green homes are significantly more costly to build, but home owners will reap the benefits of more efficient energy usage in years to come.

Ed Miliband announced plans earlier this year to offer “green loans” to home owners wishing to improve upon the energy efficiency of their already built home. The costs of items such as insulation and solar panels will be included in a loan which will stay attached to the house, owing to their high initial outlay. This would hopefully lessen financial barriers and encourage people to consider greener energy.

Renewable energy technologies attempt to reduce your homes CO2 emissions, control the overall impact on the environment and lessen the effects of climate change. Wind turbines, solar panels and biomass heaters offer a viable alternative to dwindling fossil fuels. You can reduce waste and avoid environmental degradation through recycling. You can save enough energy to power a 100 watt bulb for 4 hours just by recycling just a single glass bottle.

After the initial outlay, you could be rewarded financially for your investment. You are effectively buying energy at today’s lower prices to avoid the high costs that home owners will be faced with in years to come. If your resources are producing sufficient energy, you may also be able to put energy back into the national grid, and receive a wage in the process. Taxpayers will benefit from the reduced landfill costs allowed by recycling.

Various government grants can be obtained if you wish to go green.

8 Thrifty Home Improvements that Save Energy

green-energy-eco-home

The upgrades and improvements you make on your home today can result in some pretty fabulous long-term savings, provided you do a little planning ahead of time. By making changes that will allow your home to utilize energy more efficiently, your redesign can save you some green and let you live “greener”, too.   

Before you begin working, an energy audit can show you where in the house your money should be allocated. According to Texas electricity providers, by performing an energy audit on your home and making improvements accordingly, you can save anywhere from 5 to 30 percent on your monthly utility bills each month.

Here are eight simple steps to get you started:

Insulation and Weather Stripping

The first step to improving the energy efficiency of your home is making sure there aren’t leaks around the doors and windows. Leaks can also be found in the attic and basement. Before thinking about insulating the home, you need to check for leaks and use weather stripping. Otherwise, any energy-efficiency measures will not work. Next, you should insulate the walls as well as in the attic. Much of the heating and cooling escapes a home that isn’t insulated.

Energy-Efficient Lightbulbs

According to Energy.gov, energy-efficient bulbs use twenty-five to eighty percent less energy than traditional bulbs. They can also last up to twenty-five times longer than traditional bulbs. While they may cost a bit more at purchase, over the life of the bulb, it brings in more energy savings.

Upgrade the Dishwasher

Older model dishwashers manufactured before 1994 can waste up to 10 gallons more water than newer dishwashers. According to Energy Star, a new dishwasher can save you over $35 a year on utility bills. Reducing water usage and using less energy will have the added benefit of reducing pollution and reducing the impact on the environment. Consumer Reports has a list of the best dishwashers to save energy and money.

Programmable Thermostat

There’s no reason to run your heater or air conditioning when you’re not home, yet you can’t leave them off when you’re out of the home either. While you’re at work, you can lower the thermostat then have it raised a half hour before you’re scheduled to get home from work. You can save money by using a programmable thermostat in your home. Some thermostats come with smartphone apps to help you control the temperature in your home too.

Low-Flow Fixtures

Between low-flow shower heads, faucets and toilets, you can save energy and hot water each year, which is the second highest energy expense in the home according to Energy.gov.

Tankless Water Heater

Water heaters with tanks of water have to keep that water heated until it’s demanded by the homeowner. That kind of energy use is called standby energy, which can cost you a lot of money in energy each year. A tankless water heater doesn’t have to keep water heated in a tank, so it can save you money each year in energy as well as water costs.

Ceiling Fans

Instead of fiddling with the temperature in the home through the thermostat, purchasing a ceiling fan could be a better option. It’ll save you money on cooling costs each year, and they’re relatively inexpensive to purchase and install.

Energy Vampires

You can save money on energy and utility costs by finding the energy vampires around your home. Any appliance that uses energy to remain on standby for your use is a vampire. The microwave and coffee pot that keeps the time for you is an energy vampire. DVD and CD players, computers, game systems, televisions and cable boxes are some common vampires. Unplug all these appliances when they’re not in use. You can use power strips to easily turn them on and off when you’re not using them.

Save hundreds per year by upgrading your appliances as well as using low-flow fixtures in the home. Unplug electronics when they’re not in use too. Some of these upgrades and improvements are small but they can give you big savings throughout the year.

Introduction To Sustainable Homes

house
Image by mschellhase

 

The Code is a voluntary standard designed to improve the overall sustainability of new homes by setting a single framework within which the home building industry can design and construct homes to higher environmental standards and offers a tool for developers to differentiate themselves within the market.

Effects of climate change in the UK are expected to involve winters that are warmer, increased rainfall during all months contributing to flooding and sea level rises, increased heat during summers which will could possible cause more drought and intense heat waves.

This mandatory requirement came into effect for all developments where a local authority received the building notice, initial notice or full plans application after 1st May 2008. Developments where a local authority had received these stages on or before 30 April 2008 are exempt. Where Building Regulations apply, compliance is necessary at all times. The Code assigns one or more performance requirements (assessment criteria) to all of the environmental issues. When each performance requirement is achieved, a credit is awarded (except for the four mandatory requirements with no associated credits).

Assessment procedures are based on BRE’s EcoHomes System which depends on a network of specifically trained and accredited independent assessors. Currently BRE and Stroma can offer training and accreditation of Code assessors. Code assessors can conduct an initial design stage assessment, recommend a sustainability rating, and issue an interim Code certificate.

Code service providers are licensed organisations offering all or part of the range of Code services including assessor training; registration and monitoring; quality assurance of assessments; certification; investigation and resolution of complaints; and maintenance of records (BRE Global, 2007).

Each category includes a number of environmental issues which have a potential impact on the environment. The issues can be assessed against a performance target and awarded one or more credits. Performance targets are more demanding than the minimum standard needed to satisfy Building Regulations or other legislation. They represent good or best practice, are technically feasible, and can be delivered by the building industry.

The Many Benefits of Owning a Sustainable Home

sustainable home
Image by SFU – University Communications

 

What is a sustainable house? A sustainable house is a home which is a healthy environment for everyone in the household (even your pets) which is free of the synthetic, often toxic building materials which are often used in home construction. A sustainable house is less aggravating to those with allergies and safer than a traditional home to live in.

A Sustainable House is Healthy:

Building a sustainable house is more environmentally friendly as well as having a much higher air quality indoors than do many homes. A lot of building materials and furniture contain formaldehyde, which is a known carcinogen as well as being an irritant to the nose, throat and skin – many are allergic to this chemical as well. Materials which often contain formaldehyde include plywood, fabrics and furniture upholstery.

In a sustainable house, the furniture and building materials alike will be made from organic fibers and be free of toxic finishes. Since 1980, the rates of asthma have doubled; something which has been linked to the indoor air quality in our homes – the air quality in our homes can be as much as 100 times worse than the air outside, even in a polluted area.

A Sustainable House is Energy Efficient and Saves You Money:

The newer models of heating systems, water heaters and other appliances are far more energy efficient than are the older models which are still in use in many homes. Compact fluorescent bulbs use 80% energy than do older incandescent bulbs, making them a popular choice for homeowners. A lot of homeowners are choosing to make their homes not only sustainable but also energy efficient by insulating and sealing windows and doors, along with installing programmable thermostats.

Other small steps which can make a big difference are changing your furnace filters regularly, using low flow showerheads and insulating your water heater. Making sure that your attic is well insulated can also greatly reduce your heating and cooling costs, while using less energy.

A Sustainable House Uses Green Products:

With interest in green building on the rise, green building products are much more readily available. There are non-toxic wood finishes and paints – and there are even options for sustainable wood out there. One particularly popular sustainable wood choice is bamboo flooring. These green building products are not only sustainable but also attractive, increasing the value of your sustainable house. You can also find carpets which are made from natural materials like wool or carpets made from recycled materials.

A Sustainable House Uses Solar Energy For Additional Light or Heating:

Any house can become a sustainable house by using the sun’s power to save on heating and light. Even without solar panels, you can use skylights and windows to increase the light and warmth of your home, especially during the daytime.

You can also choose to install tinting on your windows to reduce cooling costs in the summer. There are organic window treatments available which can help you to reduce your energy costs and make yours a more sustainable house.

It doesn’t have to be difficult to make your home into a sustainable house and save a lot of money on energy costs (and maybe even doctor bills) while doing your part to protect the environment.

What Is Sustainable Home Construction?

sustainable home
Image by Jeremy Levine Design

Reducing the environmental impact of building and construction has become a key priority in recent years. Sustainable construction or green building describes the process of reducing the environmental impact of a building over its entire lifespan. Sitting, design, construction, operation, maintenance, renovation and demolition are all taken into consideration, in a way that will minimise the use of water, raw materials, land and energy in general, but the traditional concerns of economy, utility and comfort are not forgotten.

OECD countries that have a trading agreement to work together for the stimulation of economic progress contribute substantially to the damage of the environment. The built environment in these countries is responsible for 15-40% of energy use, 30% of raw material use and up to 40% of global greenhouse gases and solid waste generation. Something has to be done to reduce this impact to save the worlds dwindling ecosystems. At the moment building and construction works have the largest share in global resource use and pollution emission but this could be significantly reduced if more contractors opted for sustainable construction.

Measures to reduce energy use are perhaps the most useful in the general lifespan of the building. Often these new buildings may use high-efficiency windows and insulation in walls, ceilings and floors. Onsite generation of renewable energy is also common through solar power, wind power or hydro power; though these are the most expensive features you can add to a building.

Though experts have estimated green buildings as costing 17% more to construct, other sources indicate that this is much lower, at around only 5%. Regardless of this, sustainable building will save you money in the long run, as you will significantly save on energy bills. You may even make a profit in the future as surplus generated energy could be put back into the grid.

There are clear benefits for investing in sustainable homes, not least the satisfaction you will get from knowing that you are doing your bit to protect the environment, so invest today and you won’t regret it.

Home Renovations to Save Energy

28092014-0114-HDRRenovating or upgrading your home can be fun, especially when incorporating energy efficient upgrades, which saves you money and makes your home less susceptible to mold and allergens. In fact, the average homeowner can save up to 96 percent on their heating and cooling bills simply by making their home more energy efficient.

 

Whether you are renovating your home to make it more appealing, or you simply wish to enjoy an increase in energy savings, these energy saving tips will provide maximum savings while enjoying your beautiful, new home.

 

Inspect for Condensation, Water Leaks and Excess Moisture Before You Begin

 

Water leaks and excess condensation and moisture cause mold. Prior to your project, inspect for signs of excess moisture. Addressing those issues first, can help improve the interior air quality of your home.

 

Insulate Upstairs

 

According to research, about half the homes in the U.S. are not fully insulated. Insulation helps keep your home comfortable year round. When renovating your home, don’t forget to insulate upstairs, and while you’re at it, you should also consider insulating your water pipes, ducts, attic spaces and recessed lights above the attic for even more savings.

 

Replace High Energy Use Equipment with Energy Efficient Ones

 

Replacing old ventilation, heating and air condition units with more energy efficient ones can decrease your monthly energy costs. It is important to have your home well insulated and sealed in addition to this project, in order to reap maximum benefits.

 

Renewable Energy

 

Renewable energy is obtained from natural processes such as wind, sunlight and water etc., that are replenished at a greater extent than they are used, which means lower power plant and fossil fuel costs and greater savings passed on to consumers. According to Spark Energy, renewable energy is on the rise in the transport, heating, cooling and electricity sectors worldwide, and is predicted to account for approximately one third of new electricity generation in the U.S. over the next three years. In fact, over 65 countries already have policies in motion involving renewable energy.

 

Seal the Ducts

 

If your home relies on forced-air cooling and heating systems, approximately one fifth of the air could be escaping through leaks in the ducts. To address this issue, use duct sealing to seal gaps or leaks in the ducts. If you need to, seal around windows and doors as well. And don’t forget the basement and attic, to also help lower your heating and cooling bills.

 

Install Energy Efficient Water Heaters

 

Water heating makes up approximately 15 to 20 percent of the annual energy usage in a home. Installing energy efficient water heaters can help drive down costs.

 

Replace Drafty Windows with Energy Efficient Ones

 

Replacing old, drafty windows with energy efficient ones can increase energy savings. When replacing your windows, opt for wood instead of aluminum framed models. If you are low on funds, consider installing lower-cost storm windows instead. As long as your interior windows are in good condition, installing storm windows provide a quick and easy way to make your windows more energy efficient without the hassle and cost of full-blown window replacement.

 

Install Energy Efficient Doors

 

When installing energy efficient doors, avoid using hollow metal doors because they allow air to penetrate right through.

 

Install a Programmable Thermostat

 

Programmable thermostats save about 10 percent on your cooling and heating costs, which more than pays for themselves in just a few months, and they allow you to cool your home at warmer temps, while you’re away.

Sustainable Homes and the Environment

CITIB-projektorThere’s no doubt that though the 21st century has brought us many post millennium technological innovations. It has also come with its fair share of environmental issues, which seem to be gathering momentum as time goes on. The reduction of carbon emissions, which are a key contributor to the greenhouse effect and therefore global warming, is certainly something that has had a lot of exposure in the media in past decade or so. And as a result of this exposure it seems that many car manufacturers and even property dealers have begun taking these pressing environmental issues into account.

Though many people might not realize the extent of it, the way that we choose to power our homes has a massive impact on the environment, and this is not just true locally but also on a global scale. In the United Kingdom our homes account for 27 percent of total carbon emissions. Fortunately any improvements that we make regarding energy efficiency in our homes won’t just benefit us, but also the environment globally. So by making our homes cheaper to heat and power, and by choosing to run on clean energy people, places and wildlife all around the world will be less vulnerable to changes in climate.

The push for sustainable homes and lifestyles is something that is becoming increasingly real and on the 13 of December 2006 the Department for Communities and Local Government launched the Code for Sustainable Homes – a new national standard for sustainable design and construction of new homes. This code measures the whole home as a complete package assessing its sustainability against nine categories including energy/carbon dioxide, water, materials, surface water run-off, waste, pollution, health and well-being, management, and ecology.

There are a number of different techniques that are now being implemented to make new homes more sustainable. Normally the first factor that is considered is regarding insulation, this is sometimes referred to as the “fabric first” approach, where the construction of a home is considered and insulating techniques are used to make it economical and therefore energy efficient. The use of natural light is something else that is now considered when the orientation of homes is decided, maximizing the amount of natural light that is let in and therefore reducing energy consumption. Renewable energy resources are also taken into consideration too, and features such as wood burners, which are very economical, are considered. Location is also taken into account and important environmental factors such as wildlife corridors are not blocked.

New San Francisco Buildings Require Solar Panels

san francisco
Image by davidyuweb

 

San Francisco is a city whose international reputation has been built on how innovative and open-minded it is. Long-time corporate residents like micro-blogging service Twitter have branded San Francisco as a city whose penchant for innovation makes it stand apart from its counterparts across the nation. The annual celebration of Gay Pride makes headlines headlines year after year. If City Supervisor Scott Wiener has his way, soon San Francisco will stand out for its action on climate change as well. This year the city could be known for making a legislative advancement that has positive implications for the local environment and beyond.

According to CBS SF Bay Area, Supervisor Scott Wiener introduced an ordinance that would require new commercial and residential buildings in San Francisco to install solar panels. CBS SF Bay Area notes that if this legislation were to pass it would make San Francisco the very first major American city to have laws that mandate solar panel installation for newly constructed buildings. This piece of renewable energy legislation could turn San Francisco into a national case study and example of the possibilities that clean energy can hold for large American cities.

Wiener issued a statement where he noted the importance of using space efficiently in an environment as densely populated as San Francisco. The statement undergirds the notion of how important it is to prioritize energy efficiency and clean energy in urban areas. According to the Alberta Energy (click here), major urban areas require the most power – but the density of cities like San Francisco can end up being an attribute that can be used to fight climate change through “efficient infrastructure and planning.”

Solutions like the ordinance that is being introduced by Wiener can fight climate change while promoting clean energy use by using space more efficiently. The ordinance will do this by requiring that solar panels be installed in the percentage of roof space that California law already requires to be “solar ready.” According to CBS, developers will have several options available that will allow them to be in compliance with the ordinance should it become city law. They can install solar panels that use water to function or they can install solar photovoltaic panels which are slightly more cost-effective than the first option.

The ordinance that Wiener proposed is about much more than putting San Francisco’s name on the map for being environmentally friendly. The ordinance is about enabling San Francisco to meet goals that it has set for its use of clean energy. Wiener’s office told CBS that the ordinance is meant to move the city in the direction of achieving a benchmark it set regarding renewable energy. According to The New York Times, San Francisco set a goal to be a city that runs entirely on renewable energy by the year 2020. With just four years remaining to reach that 2020 deadline, the proposed ordinance could play an important role in making the city’s goal a reality.

CBS also reports that Weiner will be proposing another ordinance that will have a positive impact on the environment. Like the solar panel legislation this upcoming legislation involves buildings. Reportedly the legislation will make living roofs, rooftops that are totally covered in plants, an option that allows developers to meet the requirements of his initial renewable energy ordinance. The benefits of living roofs are manifold. They include giving roofs the ability “capture pollution” via the plants growing on them and the capacity to capture storm water. Living roofs can also act as a form of insulation and serve as habitats for wildlife.

If the solar power ordinance passes San Francisco will likely be part of what looks like the impending ubiquity of solar power in America. According to EcoWatch, 2016 is the first year that solar power beat out other energy sources in the United States with regard to capacity. Legislation like Wiener’s renewable energy ordinance could ensure that this upward trend continues.

Tips for Staying Green and Saving Money

money
Image by 401(K) 2013

 

Staying green often goes hand in hand with saving money because much of what is good for the environment is also good for our pocketbooks as well. But, one of the biggest struggles that people have in trying to be more green though is letting go of disposable convenience items that make life easier. Luckily, there are some tricks that can be used that can replace the wastefulness by using resourcefulness.

 

Reusable Toilet Paper

 

The average household spends hundreds of dollars a year on toilet paper that just gets flushed away. An inexpensive alternative to it is using reusable toilet paper. It might sound a little different, but it is becoming very common. Just cut up strips of old clothing, and set them in a basket by the commode. Set a second basket next to it for the dirty strips to be put in to. When the basket gets full, it can be dumped straight in to the washing machine. Many people do the same thing for replacing paper towels.

 

Start Canning

 

Canned food is fresher and often healthier than the sugar ladened versions sold in stores. It is also very cost effective. Canning jars and rings are reusable, so it isn’t necessary to keep purchasing them.

 

Go Vegan

 

Vegetarians and vegans have plant based diets that cost much less than those with meat. They also tend to have lower cholesterol and blood pressure. By removing meat from your diet, or significantly reducing it, you can save money on your grocery bill and help the environment.

 

Make Your Own Personal Hygiene Products

 

With a handful of ingredients such as salt, baking soda, and essential oils, many personal hygiene products can be made. Containers can be refilled over and over, and harmful chemical based ingredients can be left out. Making your own personal hygiene products doesn’t take long, and they can all be put together ahead of time.

 

Make Your Own Cleaning Products

 

Disposable cleaning wipes has become the newest and easiest way to wipe up spills, but the paper wipes get thrown away, which is wasteful. You can make your own version with reusable clothes and a few natural ingredients. Take a small resealable tub and fill it with scraps of material. Then, over the top of it, pour a solution of vinegar, water, and a little dishwashing liquid. This will sanitize just as effectively, but without the use of chemicals.

Renewable Energy Solar Panels, Caring For The Environment

solar panels
Image by Marufish

 

For all those passionate about clean energy and diverse ways available for renewable energy, many of the residents in the Bay area in California have been switching to solar panels and doing their part. For many home owners solar panels for a number of reasons, others may be somewhat skeptical and ask the question why solar panels for your home? The answer it is the ideal way for clean energy as well as a unique technique for renewable and produce energy indefinitely. A cost factor for some may be a concern, but many companies offer payment plans.

 

Before being sold on solar panels you may inquire if the solar panel systems are reliable? They are without a doubt. The solar panels come with a substantial warranty. And actually this technology is not that new. You may think if when installing the solar panels will they in any way damage your roof. Absolutely not, if they are installed properly, a solar brace is very similar to another type of for instance a drain pipe, which also has to be positioned and weather sealed to resist harsh weather conditions. And if you still have doubts, and if you have the room, solar panels can also be mounted on the ground.

 

Another incentive to sway potential solar panel customers is with the wide spread developing wind and solar functionality they will persist to be supported by the investment tax credit. This government program has just lately been prolonged until 2020. Since the use of solar panels has significantly grown, by an astronomical degree, a 30% credit has been extended. Along with the growth, the no existing cost for wind and solar is predicted to plunge. Because of this, solar and wind will become the most efficient and less expensive way to produce power.

 

So for all those ambitious, and qualified home owners who are a do it yourselfer, you can install your own solar panels. Actually undertaking this sort of project just may be less difficult that you think. With the correct comprehension and knowledge, as well as having a few rather simple tools, along with of course, that desire to do it yourself. Then you can look at the finished project with complete pride of your accomplishments. And gloat some about a successful appealing well done job. Applying these few things, nearly anyone can construct their own DIY solar panels. And like any other project you tackle you will save a lot of money. It can be achieved in a weekend. First purchase a brochure entitled Green DIY Energy with step by step instructions. As you follow along with the provided helpful videos included. This process will make your undertaking an easier one.

 

Some of the primary tools needed are woodworking tools. Woodworking tools such as a sharpen saw, drill and a screwdriver. You will also require silicone caulk and wood glue. When you begin work with the wiring portion, wire cutters, a soldering iron along with ample solder will be necessary. A solar panel is really nothing more than a cluster of solar cells in a holder. The first step is to build DIY solar panels to attain solar cells.