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Home-LandscapingHow the Proper Landscape Design Can Cut Your Air Conditioning Costs

Landscaping can significantly reduce your air conditioning costs. As temperatures rise outdoors this summer so will the temperature inside your home. Strategically placing plants outside of your home can provide shade and natural cooling so that you don’t have to rely so heavily on your AC system. By investing in landscaping outside of your home to increase efficiency, you could see a return in less than 3 years. Specialists say that air conditioning is the number one way to increase your carbon footprint and it makes up a significant portion of your energy bill each month. Here are some ways on how the proper landscape design can cut your air conditioning costs.

Planting trees around your house in all directions, but especially on the south side where there is the most direct sunlight, can have a number of beneficial effects and can drastically cut your air conditioning costs. Most deciduous and evergreen trees go through a process called evapotranspiration, which means that they capture and release water vapor. This can, effectively, reduce the temperatures surrounding our homes creating a barrier of sorts from the heat. Moreover, not only do trees provide shade to your home, but they can also shield against warm winds and heat reflection.

Also, trellis vines planted early in the winter months can give enough time so that when the hottest months come around, your home is thickly covered. Vines can protect your home from heat in a number of ways. For one, the leaves in the vines absorb the sunlight for photosynthesis and not only will more leaves grow, but it will provide more shade for the home. Essentially, vines will fight to keep your home cool and protected from the elements all year round. Lower temperatures inside the home means that you have to rely less and less on air conditioner to beat the heat in the summertime. It is important, though, that you make sure that your house’s walls are strong enough to take the weight on the vines before you plant them.

If you choose to go with an outdoor air conditioning system and you plant a bush or shade-providing tree around the system you could greatly increase its efficiency, which will reflect positively on your next energy bill. Mitsubishi ductless systems has some incredible options that are not only energy efficient out of the box, but are some the very best on the market. It is important, though, to make sure that the tree or bush you plant around the air conditioning system won’t grow through it or damage it in anyway. In addition, planting some kind of shade-providing tree around your outdoor unit can also have a great aesthetic value as well.

Lastly, if you want to see the maximum efficiency for your landscape efforts, be sure to pay close attention to the way the light and wind moves around home during the day. Your landscaping options should take into account which side gets the most light and the most shade. By planting trees and plants more effectively you can increase efficiency and further reduce your air conditioning costs.

Tips for Choosing LED Lights

If you are considering the adoption of a new lighting solution, you might have given LED technology some thought. It offers a number of benefits when compared with traditional fluorescent alternatives, such as greater resilience, energy efficiency and safety.

However, if you are new to the LED lighting market, you may need a little help and advice to make sure you choose the right option. Here are some of the key tips that LED lighting buyers will need to consider when they make their next purchase.

Colour

If you are looking to do a like-for-like swap, replacing traditional bulbs with new LED units, then you will probably want the colour and temperature of the light that is emitted to remain consistent after the upgrade.

This means that checking out the colour of any new LED lamp is important. You will need to look for something in the range of 2700K to 3000K if you want a light that is white as well as being warm and will be suitable for both domestic and commercial environments.

You should try to avoid using LED lamps which do not explicitly state what type of colour they offer, because you might end up with something that is not fit for purpose.

Output

People will be familiar with the 50W or 60W output levels of a traditional filament-based bulb, which is why most LED lighting is sold on the basis of its ability to replicate this performance.

Not all LED lights are created equal, so you want to be careful to choose a solution that will actually live up to the expectations created by its designated output.

Avoid the cheap models which claim to replicate 60W or 100W bulbs, because actually achieving this kind of performance is difficult at the lower end of the pricing scale.

Look for products with a good reputation and always read the fine print to avoid buying something that won’t produce the kind of lighting that you need.

Quality

It is important to assess the quality of the LED lighting product which you are purchasing before you part with your money, because this will determine the level of satisfaction you get from using it.

Low real-world output levels coupled with poor-quality colour will mean that you do not get the natural, evolutionary replacement for traditional bulbs, but are instead left with something that can feel quite alien.

This means you should aim to buy LED lamps with a minimum score of 75 on the colour rendering index, in combination with an output of 65 lumens per watt of electricity consumed.

The type of colour temperature and hue is really up to you, although you should be able to choose one that is as natural as possible or best tailored to fit your requirements.

LED lighting’s energy efficiency and safety will count for nothing if you are not happy with the results that it provides, so before you retrofit make sure that you are getting the right type of product for your home or business.

How to Improve Your Home’s Energy Efficiency

Environmental sustainability is a phrase on everyone’s minds these days, especially with the debate over fracking on the news and rising prices at the gas pumps. But if you’re honest, chances are those saved dollars are much more important to you than whatever the future of the planet may be. In the end, one person can only do so much to help the environment on a grand scale, but a single individual can consider the environment in ways that will make a huge difference to a family’s financial bottom line. One of the biggest monthly expenses on the ledger tends to be household utilities. Luckily you can do a lot to impact your gas and electric bill that will save the planet and your wallet. Here are a few ways to improve your home’s energy efficiency rating starting today.

All of the changes you make must start with a shift of mindset. Becoming more energy efficient at home generally means instilling some new practices, and it will take conscious effort to succeed. Make a list of any home habits you have that could be considered wasteful. One of the most obvious is leaving too many lights on. Make it a part of your routine to shut off the lights in any room that’s not being used, and you’ll see a real difference in your monthly electric bill. Additionally, switch out your standard light bulbs with long-lasting energy efficient ones. You’ll go through far fewer bulbs a year, and the light they give off is fantastic. Pick up a couple of energy efficient power strips and plug all of your electronics and appliances (except the refrigerator) in, so you can easily shut them down when they’re not being used.

Any appliance that generates heat is a big energy user and waster. Do regular maintenance on the oven to insure it heats up as swiftly as possible, or replace it with a modern, energy efficient model. If you’re heating water on the stove, try not to overfill the kettle and you’ll cut down on the amount of gas or electric you use.

The largest part of your expenses will involve heating and cooling the house. Regrettably, you could be spending a significant percentage of that money heating and cooling the neighborhood, if your home isn’t sufficiently sealed and insulated. Check out the doors and windows, and look for gaps or leaky spots. If you own the house and will be staying for a while, consider replacing old windows with new ones that are better sealed. Pick up blinds and curtains designed to keep the house’s temperature consistent. And if you can, raise your standard thermostat temperature a degree or two in the summer, and lower in the winter. Shedding that extra layer of clothing or grabbing a blanket will pay off at the end of the month.

Consider more significant ways to impact your home’s energy efficiency. If you can afford to trade in your old boiler, washer/dryer and other appliances for green certified models, you’ll be doing your part not just for the family, but for environmental sustainability. And as a longer term plan, look into greener energy sources for your home. Adding solar or wind power to your home will drastically reduce your energy requirement over time. And it could add to the value of your home. Check out some tracker mortgage sites to see how you can increase the value of your home through improved energy efficiency.

How to Make your Bathroom More Energy Efficient

As summer has just drawn to a close, utility bills are set to significantly increase as cold weather will take hold over the next few months. Making your home more energy efficient can help to reduce the hefty prices that heat, light and water carry. The autumn and winter months can be particularly tight as Christmas looms, another large expense for many families so saving money on energy bills is particularly important.

Bathrooms are one of the most expensive rooms in the house to run in terms of day-to-day usage. They are responsible for large amounts of water, heat and often light as people wash, use the toilet and generally get ready to go out. Reducing the amount your bathroom is costing you can really help your pocket and the environment. Simple energy efficiency tips should help you see reductions in your energy bills – perfect for the colder months.

Toilets are the most used object in the bathroom and are necessary for good sanitation and hygiene within the home. However, they can also be a major money burner, particularly if they’re an old model. Toilets that are over ten years old won’t be energy efficient and could be wasting gallons of water. The average old toilet uses between 3.5 and 7 gallons of water per flush; whereas newer, energy efficient models use around 1.6 gallons of water per flush. Also, dual flush toilets have an option to flush liquid waste which saves even more water.

Water saving shower heads can be a great way to minimise the amount of water wasted when in the shower. Many people only actually use around half of the water that pours from the shower head, as many people leave the shower running whilst shampooing their hair or washing their body rather than repeatedly turning it on and off. This can waste an incredible amount of water and energy (it’s unlikely you’ll take a cold shower in the winter) which all costs you money to produce. Water saving shower heads control the spray pattern and can save up to half the amount of water of a power shower, whilst still producing the same feel.

Although showers generally consume less water than a bath it can sometimes be necessary to use the bath, particularly for bathing a child. In this case, avoid overfilling the bath with more water than necessary. Another common problem for many homeowners is that the hot water runs out and they begin to use the kettle to fill the bath. A vast amount of energy can be wasted during each repetition of boiling the kettle, making the bathing experience even more costly! If you have small children of a similar age it’s wise to bathe them together, using half the amount of water than if they were to wash separately.

Renewable energy resources can be a great way to significantly reduce energy bills and often have long term investment benefits. Solar PV are becoming increasingly popular as the feed-in tariff rates prove an excellent return on investment whilst free electricity is an attractive prospect as utility bills continually rise. Those who don’t have the money to invest can also get free solar panels installed by sacrificing their feed-in tariff and just reaping the benefits of free electricity.

There are many ways to reduce energy consumption in the bathroom and although applying all of them would return the best results, even a small increase in bathroom efficiency can reduce energy bills whilst helping the environment.

About the Author

Written by Stephanie Staszko on behalf of Solar Choice and Solvis, you can follow her on Twitter @StephStaz for more green posts.

*Image: arztsamui / FreeDigitalPhotos.net.*

For all you tea enthusiasts out there, here’s a way to save energy while still imbiding your treasured cup(s) of daily tea! From across the pond, this article was written for Tiny Green Mom by John Barlow.

Saving Energy With Just Your Kettle

I don’t know about you but I really love tea. Tea and biscuits for a morning break, (and if I’m honest for afternoon breaks and night time snacks) are my favorite non-alcohol based guilty pleasures. The only thing is, I’ve recently become aware that my energy efficiency is duly lacking and with this I’ve realised that I have been using my kettle very often to make only a few cups of tea at a time. Kettles are one of the most used appliances in the average person’s kitchen, and in many situations the most over used in some ways. And I am as guilty as anyone else for wasting energy by not using my kettle in an energy efficient way.

However, after some thought and a little bit of research I have come up with some things that everyone can do to save energy with just your kettle. Consider this, how many times have you made one cup of tea just for yourself but have filled the kettle right up to the top? I would say many times. I know I have and I know that everyone else in my family have and all my friends and that is really a lot of people and therefore a lot of wasted energy. So my number one tip for saving energy with your kettle is to only fill up enough water for how many cups you need. You’ll be surprised at how much quicker it is (I hate waiting for what seems like days for a full kettle to boil) and you’ll have a nice warm feeling that you’ve done your bit to save energy.

But there’s more! You can keep that nice feeling and double it by using these other handy hints. First of all, use your boiled water straight away. What I mean is, don’t flick the switch and then leave the room only to come back five minutes later to find your boiled water cooling down. You’ll only have to boil it again undoing all your good work of boiling just the right amount. So keep an eye and an ear open for when the boiling is complete. Next, if by chance you have boiled too much water, never fear, you can still use the leftover water, and here’s how. Put it in a thermos flask to use for later! Or use the hot water for dishwashing. If you make a pot of tea you can put whatever is left over in the fridge and drink it iced!

Another handy trick to use your kettle to save energy is to use the boiled water for cooking. Doing this will cut down on the energy used by your cooker and will even save water. Also, don’t forget to switch your kettle off at the plug. Appliances left on ‘standby’ still use up energy even when you think they’re not in use.

Now all this talk of boiling water has made me thirsty. I’m off for a nice, energy efficient cup of tea.

“John Barlow loves to try and save energy where he can. Look out for energy efficient plasma tvs and 3d TVs to save yourself some money.”

A BIG thanks to John Barlow from London, for authoring this article for Tiny Green Mom!

*Image provided by Earth Mama Angel Baby.*