Home Decorating with Interesting Tips

Home improvement as well as home decoration requires considerable knowledge of some tips and tricks in handling it. The selection of colors, furniture to the right interior design will make the house look alive and luxurious

You are here: Home - Energy Star


Tag Archives: Energy Star

Illuminating The Future Of Kitchen Lighting Energy Efficiency By Capitol Lighting

It doesn’t matter if you live in a home with a modern kitchen that has all the fancy upgrades, or one that just has a single overhead light in the center of the room. If you’re not using the latest generation of energy-efficient bulbs, it’s time for a lighting upgrade.

“Kitchen lighting has made great strides in the past couple of years, not just from a design standpoint, but with regards to energy efficiency. So upgrades are definitely worth looking into,” says Joe Rey-Barreau, education consultant for the American Lighting Association (ALA) and an associate professor at the University of Kentucky’s School of Interior Design. He travels the country tracking trends, and one he’s noticed lately is the focus on energy conservation.

“Lighting manufacturers are spending a considerable amount of time, and dedicating a lot of resources to developing fixtures capable of using more energy-efficient light sources than the standard incandescent,” Rey-Barreau says. “And it’s no coincidence that this trend is growing in popularity at a time when energy costs are on the rise,” he says.

As recently as two years ago, the only fixtures available for the kitchen that used the most energy-efficient light sources available today – fluorescents and Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) – were not aesthetically pleasing. In today’s marketplace, however, decorative energy-efficient fixtures are available in every product category, whether you’re looking for something traditional, modern or artsy.

“We know consumers want to capitalize on the fact that compact fluorescent bulbs are approximately three to four times more efficient than incandescent bulbs, and LEDs can be three to 10 times more efficient, so we’ve dedicated a lot of resources to developing new fixtures that utilize the technology,” says Scott Roos, vice president of product design for Juno Lighting Group. “We’ll be introducing an LED under-cabinet unit in the fall that requires just eight watts of energy to provide the same illumination as an 80-watt halogen light source. Our new LED down light will be 40 percent more energy efficient than a compact fluorescent and 75 percent more energy efficient than an incandescent.”

Holtkoetter International, Inc., a manufacturer of residential lighting fixtures based in St. Paul, Minn., plans to release several models of fixtures that use LEDs early next year. But energy-saving products are nothing new for Holtkoetter. “We’ve been offering fixtures that take halogen IRC bulbs, capable of improving energy efficiency by 50 percent, for the last five years,” says company president Paul Eusterbrock.

Infra Red Coating (IRC) bulbs are designed in such a way that the heat they generate can be recycled and turned into light.

Hubbardton Forge, a lighting manufacturer out of Chandler, Vt., meantime has concentrated its efforts on developing decorative fixtures that take compact fluorescents. “We have offerings in every category for decorative fixtures that really enhance what you get out of a compact fluorescent,” says George Chandler, president of Hubbardton Forge.

No matter which of the new technologies you choose to go with, when shopping for energy-efficient fixtures, Rey-Barreau says it is important to look for the Energy Star label. In order to qualify for the Energy Star designation, the product must meet specific performance criteria for energy-efficient performance set by the U.S. Department of Energy.

As for concerns people may have about the quality of light given off by compact fluorescents and LEDs, Rey-Barreau says that “while in the past color rendering may have been a concern, it is no longer a problem. Consumers can rest assured the quality closely matches that of incandescents.”

Today’s advancements are quite impressive, but what does the future hold? Rey-Barreau expects the lighting industry to work hard at getting more products on the shelves that use the most energy-efficient technology developed to date – LEDs. “Right now LEDs are still kind of expensive, but once they become more readily available, the cost will come down significantly,” he says.

The Importance Of Energy Efficiency

Established or potential landlords in Texas need to be aware of any factors that can cause them or their tenants undue costs. Perhaps the greatest cost increase comes from wasted energy in your properties. Whether you or your tenants are responsible for paying all or partial utilities, both parties want the lowest rates possible. Obviously you, as a landlord, have little control over how often your tenants turn off the light or run their air conditioner, but what you do have control of is energy efficient appliances and pre-emptive methods for conserving energy. A common misconception is that you have to be wealthy to run an energy efficient unit; however these are some inexpensive tips that can save you and your tenants up to hundreds of dollars per year.

Inexpensive Energy Efficient Tips:

We have broken down these tips into four categories; each contains simple ideas that you can implement in your units to increase energy efficiency. The first general rule is to be familiar with the area around your properties. Whether your units are in Dallas, Houston, Austin or San Antonio your tenants will use their air conditioning, possibly constantly during the summer. Is it humid or is your area prone to droughts as this could have an effect on your water usage. What time does it get light or dark during the seasons; how much many hours a day might your tenants require electrical lighting? Tenants want to be assured that they will enjoy all the comforts they are used to without incurring huge prices. That is where you come in; these methods are designed to help increase comfort while keeping cost under control.

1.Insulation:

1.With an average price of less that $2/yard, insulation is a necessary instalment that will help keep the unit at stable temperature and protects from the elements. This needs to be in place in your walls, attics and basements. This is a proven method to reduce energy bills and is a must in any property that you own or are looking to purchase. If the property that you currently own in your rental portfolio is lacking in that area, then you can show your tenants that you are proactive and want to have long term tenants.
2.An additional option is to insulate or double-pane your windows. While this may incur additional costs it prevents heat transfer and will reduce any sun damage to furniture (a money saver if you furnish your units).

2.Lighting:

1.People have a tenancy to leave light on much longer than they need; you can’t stop that. However, you can replace normal incandescent light bulbs with new compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) which produce a lot less heat and energy and last on average 7,500 hours.
2.Paint your units’ walls white or light cream; the rooms will naturally feel brighter via reflecting 65%-85% of the sun’s natural light.
3.Provide dark curtains which keep out unwanted heat during the winter (they also provide privacy and hide stains).

3.Appliances:

1. This may appear to be an expensive method, but in the long run it will save you the most money long term. Over 14% of energy comes from dryers, washing machines and refrigerators. If you buy Energy Star certified products you could save up to $200/year in electricity and water bills.

4.General Tips:

1.Weather strip doors to keep out elements
2.regularly check the caulk on windows to seal any cracks
3.tighten pipes and install energy efficient shower heads and faucets
4.Clean air filters regularly and replace once a year to ensure air quality and the most efficiency from the air conditioner.
Another option is to have a professional energy audit on a sample unit to see what other options may be available to you. Simple and quick fixes in your rental properties will save you tenants money and increase your investment for the future. The world is becoming more energy efficient savvy; if you can show that you are doing your part to help the environment (and your wallet) you will have happier tenants and may even qualify for tax breaks.

Nashville’s Best Vinyl Replacement Windows. Energy Efficiency

A new national survey notes an interesting return to aesthetics being more important than energy efficiency in the consumers decision making process with regards to vinyl replacement windows. I believe there are two reasons for the shift. First, there may be some level of expectation that most products provide enhanced levels of energy efficiency because of the governments stimulus tax credit. Many manufacturers, because of the stringency of the requirements, scampered to find products that qualified. The other reason for the change is that the higher end consumer, who previously considered vinyl a lesser quality product and would only look at high cost wood and clad windows, now, because of the economic realities, are ready to look at vinyl as a lower cost, more energy efficient, alternative. Aesthetics have always been a driving force in that customers decision-making process.

Vinyl windows have been around for over thirty years, realizing more and more acceptance from consumers for various reasons. Many focus group studies have been undertaken by various manufacturers and one of the most interesting things that has been learned is that the one main thing that consumers that have otherwise loved their vinyl windows didnt like was the fact that they had to give up glass viewing area. Unfortunately, most manufacturers dont talk about that issue with the customer because of structural decisions that have required their vinyl extrusions to be big and boxy, leaving the customer to notice it only AFTER their windows are installed and too late to make a change. One of the reasons that so many products have big, bulky extrusions has to do with the increased necessity of energy efficient mainframes to meet Energy Star guidelines. Some manufacturers have made the investment in products that, in essence, allow you to have your cake and eat it too.
One of the interesting things about vinyl is that it shares a couple of properties of steel. One of the properties is that every 90 bend in vinyl increases its structural integrity. Many of the bulky, boxy mainframes available use many 90 bends for structural strength, but this increases the overall bulk of the product. The aesthetics conscious consumer is looking for a product that combines looks structure and energy efficiency.

One rarely discussed difference in products is the variations in the white color. Most customers that have white trim have painters white. Many manufacturers, including some that have some of the lowest advertised prices, still use the original white vinyl color, which has a blue or black tint to it. Again, this typically is not discussed at the time of purchase and is only discovered after the products are installed, too late to make a change. Make sure the home improvement consultant matches their white to your white.

Money Saving Ideas Better Energy Efficiency For Your Home

The big-city housing crunch that has long since been a financial issue to many homeowners is made more of a burden with the economic turmoil that hit not only New York and the US but the entire world as well. Now, more than ever is the best time to be looking for effective ways to save money and one of the smartest moves is cutting back on the area which eats a good part of your monthly income and that is the energy bill of your NYC home. This article looks into great ideas to achieve better efficiency for your home which are practical whether you are in Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, Long Island, or Manhattan.

Here are top ideas in making just any home more energy efficient and lower monthly energy bills:

Lighting

Being one of the most basic of elements that makes a house livable, many lighting fixtures are needed to make just any room more ambient as well as functional. With lighting, saving energy can be carried through in many ways including:

. Maximize use of natural lighting and lessen the use of electricity during day time
. The replacement of current set of lighting fixtures with energy-efficient models that uses up less electricity for the same brightness given off
. Amplifying the effects of lights by using mirrors and other reflective items in the design of the room
. Making use of lighting controls that prevents unnecessary use of lights

Ensure Proper Sealing and Enough Insulation

Leaks are silent killers that prey on your heating and cooling without you knowing. This results to the escape of heat or cool that should be maintaining the comfort inside the house. And before you spot it, your bills have already ballooned. You can have a contractor inspect your house for possible leaks and remedies should be done as needed.

Making your HVAC systems work harder than they normally do results to lower operation costs and thus lower figure on the energy bill. Other than this benefit, a well insulated and sealed home promotes optimal indoor comfort as well as an increase in the overall value. But one pitfall that many homeowners fall into is believing that the only areas in the house needing insulation are the attic and exterior walls. To ensure enough insulation, extend your efforts to kneewalls, adjoining walls from one room to another, basement walls, floors, overhangs, and ceiling especially below unheated spaces.

Energy-Saving Appliances and Systems

Though the initial cost of buying energy efficient appliances may be huge, the products would sure prove more valuable than the original price they cost. With these models, the comfort and functionality that is enjoyed in the house can still be maintained and even be enhanced without much consuming much energy. When shopping, choose those labeled with Energy Star.

Use Renewable Energy

Using natural resources to power some functions in your home can be one of the best ways to achieve energy efficiency. Technological advancements have paved way to integrate the use of solar heat, wind, or geothermal energy to power homes. These are often stored and converted to electricity or utilized to heat liquid fuels or heat water.

Energy Efficiency of Cooktops

How energy efficient is the various types of cooktops? This is a question that everyone wants the answer to when they are shopping for cooktops. While most of the newer models of induction, electric and gas cooktops have acquired the Energy Star rating, some are still more eco-friendly than others. The key is to find the balance between your needs and those of the environment when shopping for cooktops. An appliance is not truly efficient if your productivity is decreased.

Induction cooktops are some of the very energy efficient types of cooktops on the market today. Because induction cooktops use the transfer of electromagnetic energy to heat the cookware rather than the cooktop, there is virtually no loss of energy. Approximately 90 percent of the energy produced is used. This means that induction cooktops may help you to save money on your electric bill each month as they offer some great energy saving benefits. Your kitchen will also stay cooler using these cooktops, thus reducing your monthly utility bills even more. If your primary concern is reducing your carbon footprint, then induction cooktops are probably the best choice for you.

Electric cooktops are another type of cooktops that help with energy efficiency. Today’s electric cooktops boast a number of features to reduce the loss of energy. Many models have duel size burners, reducing energy wasted from pans sitting on heating elements that are too big. Some electric cooktops also have an automatic shut-off feature if you accidentally leave the burner on. Many do not require as high of a voltage of electricity as induction cooktops, making the monthly operating costs slightly lower in some cases. If the green in your wallet is just as important as the green in the environment, electric cooktops may be the correct answer for you.

Gas cooktops are preferred by many as it offers a different cooking style. They are still a favorite among professional chefs and cooking enthusiasts. Gas cooktops may give you more control over the heat than induction cooktops or electric cooktops and, as a result, cook food more evenly. If cooking with gas is important to you, you can slightly increase the energy efficiency of gas cooktops by choosing a model with a lower BTU. Gas cooktops may cost less to operate each month depending on your rates for natural gas. With the cost of electricity on the rise, gas cooktops are definitely the gourmet, budget friendly choice for those looking for energy saving cooktops.

Once you decide whether induction cooktops, electric cooktops or gas cooktops best fit your needs, you should consider some of the durability factors of the various models within that category. Is the appliance insulated? Is it vented? The answer to these questions will help you to pick the cooktops that will work best for you and your situation.

cooktops

Central Heating The Way To Go For Energy Efficiency!

You have your home all snugly tight with the right amount of insulation in all the right places and you turn on the heat and the room heats up, but… the kitchen is still cold; you need a central heating system of some kind.

The central heating systems are some of the most efficient systems because they generate the heat and then pump it all over the house in the same proportions that you select. That way, the rooms that are being used gets the most heat and the rooms that are not being used gets quite a bit less or none at all depending on their usage.

The central heating system’s boiler or heating unit is contained in the garage or basement and the ducts are run under the house or through the ceiling to come out in each room and you can even add a humidifier or dehumidifier to the entire system to allow those important functions as well. That makes a very good investment in your home and may increase the sales price, if and when necessary, all that much more.

When you are looking for a central heating system for your home, you need to ask yourself some questions that will help the contractor position the correct unit in there that will be big enough but not too big. Those questions would be:

1.Are you in an area that is normally fairly cold or fairly hot?
2.Is your home on a cement pad or is there enough room under it to install the ducting that is needed?
3.Do you want floor vents or wall venting to inject the heating into your individual rooms?
4.Do you need to have ceiling vents?
5.Is your home insulated? Without insulation, you will need a larger unit right from the start.
6.What types of walls do you have?

These and several more will be asked of you by the contractor before they can offer any suggestions and the answers are very important. You are also going to want to check the energy efficiency ratings of the units that you settle on. There are the Energy Star ratings as well as the BTUs ratings and the SEER ratings. These are all very important as they can affect any tax advantages that you may accrue due to the Greening of your home in accordance with many of the local regulations around the world.

Since the most efficient space heater will only have about a 70 -75 % efficiency rating, you are wasting a lot of energy with the system you have, now, and that is just not going to be good enough when the electrical rates start to make the move up that they all are going to do in the next several years, so a move to a much more efficient system is just going to be the right move for you to make.

The energy efficient central heating system is the right move and the savings will not only be with you, this year, but also for years to come and the resale value will only improve. If you are not mad keen on ducted air, then an under floor water heating system would be another very good option to consider.