The Concept of Passive House: An Interview with Toyin-Ann Yerifor

Green building concepts have come a long way. As architects, designers, and builders gain access to better tools that help push the limits of construction energy efficiency; we see longer strides made towards more mainstream adoption of green building standards. One such standard that is coming of age is passive houses. The concept of passive houses was first mooted in the early eighties when the idea of green building was still in its infancy. Today, the concept is well entrenched with over 25,000 houses and buildings across the world qualifying as passive houses.

We recently caught up with Toyin-Ann Yerifor, an architectural consultant focused on exploring new and innovative ways to design with reduced impact on the environment to explain what passive houses are and their benefits. She holds an MSc in Architecture (AEES) from the University of East London, an MBA from the University of Northampton and an MSc in Computer Science and Engineering from the Université Grenoble Alpes.

What is a Passive House?

First, what is a passive house? Toyin-Ann explains: A passive house is any building that adheres to rigorous energy efficiency standards. The term passive comes from the fact that the building’s energy efficiency comes from its passive structures, which include the roof, walls, windows, doors, and floor. By radically improving the building’s insulation and energy conservation features, it is possible to reduce its heating requirements by up to ninety percent. As such, passive housing as a standard is focused on helping reduce the energy requirements of buildings through insulation, and by extension, their overall energy footprint.

When you reduce a building’s energy footprint, says Toyin-Ann, several benefits accrue, including environmental, health, and cost efficiency benefits.

Environmental Benefits of Passive Houses

According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), “energy efficiency is the first fuel of a sustainable global energy system. It can mitigate climate change, improve energy security, and grow economies while delivering environmental and social benefits.” Passive houses deliver on this mandate superbly, says Toyin-Ann Yerifor.

One of the biggest challenges traditional buildings face is energy loss. When a building easily loses energy in the form of heat, it takes burning more fuel to heat the building. When this happens, overall energy consumption goes up, which is bad for the environment because a major portion of heat generation comes from burning fossil fuels. When buildings are radically energy efficient, on the other hand, less energy is required, and so fewer fossil fuels need to be burned.

While this is the macro view of the environmental benefits of passive houses, are there any micro benefits of investing in this technology? Here are two, says Toyin-Ann Yerifor. First, think of the air quality that comes with less energy consumption. In homes that rely on furnaces, doing away with the furnace improves the air quality in and around the home significantly.

Second, sound pollution is eliminated if you no longer need to use a furnace, HVAC units around the home, or any other heat generation and management devices. Essentially, says Toyin-Ann Yerifor, passive houses reduce the need to burden the environment. Through radical energy efficiency and self-sufficiency, passive house buildings become a part of the environment and not just an addition to it.

Health and Comfort Benefits

When most people hear about passive houses, they imagine living in a sealed paper bag. That thought can be quite disheartening because issues of quality of air, air adequacy, and comfort come to mind. Although the idea behind passive houses is energy efficiency through a tightly sealed envelope (building), this does not mean health and comfort are compromised. Take air quality, for instance. Most people consider opening a window the best way to guarantee air quality in a room. Now, passive houses rely on closed windows to ensure no heat escapes, which presents a dilemma. Passive houses address this dilemma well, says Toyin-Ann Yerifor.

Although you can open a window in a passive house, even if you do not, the heat recovery ventilation system ensures there is enough quality air circulating the house. Regarding comfort, passive houses maintain a comfortable temperature regulated by the passive heat sources in the house like appliances, body heat, and lighting. Also, they tend not to have cold spots or hot spots, which is often the case with traditionally heated homes. Through rigorous design standards afforded by tools such as the Passive House Planning Package, homes built on the passive house standard adhere to comfort standards as rigorous as the energy efficiency standards stipulated.

Cost Efficiency Benefits

Cost efficiency is at the heart of the passive house concept. When a building is exceptionally well insulated, it can use as little as 10 percent of its regular heating energy requirements. This, of course, also significantly reduces the costs associated with heating the building. So, how does the passive house concept achieve such a radical reduction in energy needs? The answer is insulation, says Toyin-Ann Yerifor. Passive houses rely on extensive insulation to gain this level of energy efficiency. Why is insulation so effective?

Traditional buildings lose a lot of heat through the roof, walls, floor, doors, and, most of all, windows. With a passive house, each of these structures is carefully designed and built to ensure close to zero loss of heat. When you look at the thermal scan of a passive house next to a traditional house, you’ll notice the passive house is almost entirely blue, meaning there’s close to no energy loss. The other building is close to all red, meaning it is losing a lot of energy. This level of energy conservation and efficiency is what leads to the massive energy savings that make passive houses so cost-efficient.

Passive houses are a concept that is yet to hit mainstream construction. However, this does not mean it is impractical to build passive houses. What it does point to is the need for better awareness of the concept. Toyin-Ann Yerifor recommends anyone interested in the concept to visit a passive house showcase home to experience its benefits firsthand. She says this is the only way to understand and internalize this breakthrough energy efficiency concept.

What You Should Know About Electrical HVAC Distributors

Almost all modern buildings have HVAC systems. HVAC, if you don’t know the term, stands for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning. Your home or commercial property will have an HVAC system, and it’s in place not only to heat or cool the building, but also to get rid of any noxious odors or air impurities.

As you might imagine, your HVAC system components matter because you want to be able to stay cool in the summer, warm in the winter, and you want breathable air that’s free from toxins and impurities. An electrical HVAC distributor is one example of a component you want to keep in excellent working order if your system has one.

We’ll talk about what electrical HVAC distributors are and what they do in the following article:

What is an Electrical HVAC Distributor

What Precisely is an Electrical HVAC Distributor?

The Wistex company sells electrical HVAC distributors, and on their website, you’ll see that it mentions “we service what we sell.” That’s certainly one of the things you want to see from any company that sells you your HVAC components, such as distributors.

An electrical HVAC system probably has an electric furnace as its centerpiece. It works a lot like a hairdryer. The furnace pulls air into it through a heat exchanger.

The air that’s in that exchanger warms up while it’s inside. The heating element does this. The blower then pushes the heated air through the ductwork and around your house or workspace.

The distributor is the HVAC system element that distributes that air around the building. Its job is to make sure heated air moves around the building and does not stagnate in one spot. The best distributor is one that pushes this heated air around with as little effort as possible.

What Else Should You Know About Electrical HVAC Distributors?

If you speak to an HVAC company, installer, or repairperson, they will inform you that your home or workplace’s HVAC setup is also an electrical system. Because of this, there are certain rules that apply to both installing and maintaining it.

Any HVAC system will have a complex mechanical configuration, of which the distributor is only one part. However, it’s accurate to say that the distributor is one of the most crucial components since, without it, the heated air will not move around the building as it should. That means you’ll have cold rooms or entire building wings in the winter, depending on how large the building is.

That’s not something you want, especially if you’re entertaining clients or trying to get someone to invest in your company. Because of this, you want to be sure to employ an HVAC company that only installs top-of-the-line distributors and other parts and can also service them quickly and accurately if they need it.

Yearly Maintenance

If you own your own home, you probably know that you should get an HVAC company to come there at least once per year to look over the furnace and see that it’s in good working order. If you have central air, you should get that same company to look at your AC unit once per year as well.

electrical HVAC distributor

Generally, you might have your HVAC company look at your furnace in November, right around the time you’ll start using the heat again with winter coming on. You might have them come a little later or earlier, depending on where you live and how cold it gets there.

It is during that yearly maintenance that the HVAC company can look at your electrical distributor, as well as all other system components. They should not neglect any part, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant.

Because of an HVAC system’s complexity, the technician should do a multiple-point inspection and replace any worn-out or damaged components. That’s how you make it likely your furnace will continue working throughout the winter and your AC unit in the summer as well.

Doing this is similar to getting a mechanic to inspect your car once per year. You’re supposed to do that without fail to make sure everything under the hood checks out. You can regard your HVAC system the same way.

You should also have your HVAC company’s number ready at all times. Regardless of whether you’re talking about a commercial property’s HVAC system or your one at home, you always want that company standing by. They can take a look at the heating and cooling elements, like the distributor, if anything ever goes wrong.

Everything You Should Know About Reducing Your Utility Bills

Money is a scarce resource. Don’t let monthly bills break your bank while there are numerous things you can do to minimize them. From adding attic insulation to insulating outlets, and installing programmable thermostats, you’ve countless options for reducing your utility bills.  Check out the following tips for cutting down your monthly expenses affordably and more effectively. Plus, you will learn everything utility bills.

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Incorporate Attic Insulation

Most of the energy people use at their homes goes toward heating or cooling. Research shows that most of this heat escapes to the attic. Most homes lack enough insulation up there to prevent heat from getting out.

Fiberglass insulation is extremely cheap and easy to install. In fact, you can quickly install them on your own. By effectively insulating your home, you could actually save up to 20 percent on your heating, as well as, cooling costs.

But if you can’t install attic insulation yourself, you can always get help online. There are numerous DIY tutorials that can help you through the process.

Install Programmable Thermostats

By installing a programmable thermostat, you’ll be able to save up to 10 percent on your utility bills. Set your unit’s temperature to drop during winter months and raise them during the summer months when you aren’t home. You can then program the unit to return to more comfortable temperatures right before you get home.

This will go a long way in reducing your energy bills and saving you substantial amounts of money. So, what are you still waiting for? Act fast! For more information, visit http://regionalenergy.ca. 

Insulate Outlets

Did you know that outlets and light switches can be a major source of air leaks? To prevent this, consider insulating them, particularly if they’re positioned on an outside wall. There are numerous types of specialized seals and insulation materials to choose from. And they’re specifically designed for outlets, as well as, switch plates, so you don’t need to worry about fire risks.

Upgrade to Low-Flow Showerheads

Older showerhead models generally put out 5 gallons of water per minute. On the other hand, low-flow showerheads put out a mere 1.5 gallons per minute and still allow you to enjoy forceful showers.

Even more, they’re easy to install. If you want something more efficient and affordable, then go for a low-flow showerhead.  It will help conserve water and save substantial amounts of water every day.

Insulate Water Heaters

Did you know that insulating an older water heater could help you save up to 9 percent on water heating costs? Well, now you know. Insulating hot water heater jackets can prevent standby heat losses by 25 to 45 percent, allowing you to heat your water easily and more efficiently. 

Why you should install a Smart HVAC Based System

The HVAC system accounts for more than half of the energy consumed in your home. That’s why a fault system is likely to increase the overall energy consumption in homes. However, with proper maintenance, you can lower these energy bills and still have comfort in your home. So, if you are planning to install an HVAC system in your home, keep reading. Among other things, you will learn about the benefits associated with installing smart based HVAC systems in your home.

Lowers Electricity Bills

Energy bills can be annoying, especially when they skyrocket. Even more, the global energy sector is strained. That’s why energy costs keep on increasing. But does this mean letting nature take its course? No. You can do something to lower these bills. In particular, switching to a smart HVAC system can be your answer as far as reducing the energy bills in your home is concerned.

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According to the stats, installing smart system in your home can save you up to 20 percent in terms of energy bills. Plus, they are more efficient and reliable. They utilize smart technology that heavily uses sensors to cool or heat your interiors. Even more, these systems are great at lowering your overall carbon footprint since they are environment friendly.

Superior Temperature Variability

One of the biggest pluses of these smart HVAC systems is superior temperature variability. With a smart system, you have an HVAC that will give you the power to control tempt variability according to your needs. This means that users can cool and heat specific rooms effectively without moving from space top space. This saves time and gives you an easy time as you relax or go about your activities.

Clean Air

Another good thing about smart systems is that they give you access to smarter air. Remember, the quality of air is important when it comes to your health. And that’s where smart HVAC systems come in. With these systems, you have a solution that will reduce stuffiness as well as drafts. So, if these are the things that you are looking in an HVAC system, then go the smart way.

You Can Access Then Remotely

Smart technology gives users access to their systems from remote settings. This means that even if you are at work, you can still monitor the functioning of your system. Thus, it’s possible to set the temperature of your room from your workplace before reaching home. This not only reduces energy costs but also improves the overall efficiency.

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Why Utility Bills Keep On Increasing

The dreaded energy bill is coming. It can be annoying. If you are unlucky, it will deflate your bank account. Of course, you can try several measures to control the energy budget. However, things may not work out, especially if you don’t pay close attention to your HVAC system. According to research, the HVAC is responsible for almost half of the energy costs in homes. Thus, if you need to bring these bills down, work on your HVAC system. It’s one of the best starting points. So, if you have been wondering why your monthly bills are steadily increasing, sit back. Here are the top reasons why your energy bills are not going down any time soon.

Age, Maintenance

Age has a big say when it comes to the performance of your HVAC system. An old system tends to be less efficient. This means that it will work more to cool or heat any space. So, if your system has served you for years, expect the bills to continue going up. Similarly, a poorly maintained HVAC system tends to be inefficient. This means that it will consume more energy and pump up energy costs. However, don’t let these factors continue draining your money.

You can install a new HVAC system and drive the bills down. If you have the cash, consider going for a smart system. It’s efficient, convenient, and highly reliable. Also, consider maintaining your system on a regular basis. Consult with your heating and cooling contractor to schedule maintenance. According to experts, it’s advisable to do it twice per year.

Operating Costs

The operating costs at a particular time can influence the amount you pay towards offsetting your energy bills. For instance, systems that were developed in the 1990s are less efficient than their modern counterparts. This can be attributed to the emergence of technological advancement. For instance, sensors have made these systems more smart and efficient. Thus, they consume less amount of energy, which plays a key role in bringing the energy bills down. Customers are advised to install the newest HVAC systems to bring the energy bills down.

Features

Features also play a key role when it comes to cutting down energy costs. Modern systems come with sophisticated features that make them more efficient. For instance, the efficiency standards of modern equipment are on an upward trajectory. This means that modern systems have superior performance and efficiency than their older counterparts.

Standard such as SEER, HSPF, as well as Annual Fuel Utilization is important in determining the efficiency of any system.  Also, energy features like variable-speed fans, heat exchange technology, as well as variable speed based compressors can make your system more efficient.

The Locality’s Climate

Your local climate can also increase or lower the amount of money you pay towards energy bills. For instance, if you are located in an extremely cold setting, you will need more energy to heat the interiors. Consequently, your energy bills will be higher. On the other hand, those located in extremely hotter environments will spend more money to cool the interiors.

Additional Factors

Also, the following additional factors play a key role when it comes to the energy bills of any home.

  • The thermostat and other control settings in your system
  • How the unit was installed
  • Maintenance levels of your system
  • The level of insulation in any home
  • Windows, doors, and other openings in your home.

The Bottom-Line

Are you looking for quick ways to reduce your energy bills? Well, there are actually several measures you can undertake to minimize your electricity costs. According to http://www.regionalenergy.ca/alberta-natural-gas-company/, these measures include insulating outlets and switches, installing a programmable thermostat, insulating your water heater, and installing a low-flow showerhead. Doing this will go a long way in reducing your utility bills and saving you junks of money.

A Guide On HVAC System Repair

HVAC maintenance and HVAC repair sometimes become necessary in certain situations. This is especially the case during hot summers. A malfunctioning unit can not only reduce comfort in the house, but also set the homeowner back large sums of money due to inefficiency.

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Heating Service Repair

Like with other domestic appliances, there are several things which could go wrong within a HVAC unit. Some of these problems occur more frequently than others. It’s possible to fix some issues without having to call an air conditioning expert.

If the house starts becoming unbearably hot, the first thing to check would be the thermostats. Older units can be accidentally switched from cool to off, especially when bumped into. Their digital counterparts are also affected when the battery starts losing power.

If lowering the thermostat fails to make the unit turn on, it could be due to a blown fuse or a tripped breaker. If this is reset or the fuse replaced and the problem still persists, it’s advisable to contact an electrician. Outdoor units that run constantly also tend to freeze up. This can be rectified by turning the unit off for some hours to let it thaw.

DIY AC Repair

Not many homeowners can undertake such a task on their own. This is because the expertise and equipment involved are usually advanced, which brings in the need for a trained specialist. Nevertheless, there are several things that one could check on their own to enhance the performance of their unit.

If the compressor fails to turn on, the breaker and fuse would be the components to check. A running unit that isn’t cooling could be due to low refrigerant level. This would require professional help to replenish. The condenser coils on both sides should also be checked to see if they’re dry. If this is the case, one would need to brush and vacuum them. One can do this at least twice each summer.

Hiring Expert HVAC Technicians

At best, the things that a typical homeowner can do on their own are limited. Typically, an issue will be too complex for even well-acquainted individuals to handle. Once it’s established that the hitch is outside an individual’s scope, there are several things one needs to consider before hiring an expert.

Ideally, a HVAC unit should be repaired before the summer season starts. This is because technicians get quite busy as the hot season progresses. This high demand makes it hard to schedule an appointment.

It would thus be prudent to call a furnace contractor in Brownsburg Indiana before the season starts. Typically, one is likely to land a convenient appointment time, and could even save some money. One will also be prepared for high temperatures that could occur later on in the season.

Going Green – Are Green Finance Deals Really Worth It?

Whether you are looking to go green because you are selflessly trying to help save the planet, you want to save some of your hard-earned cash, or, most likely, a combination of the two, deciding to make your lifestyle and your home more environmentally friendly does come at a cost.

Green Finance

Fortunately, lenders are now offering more cost-effective ways for you to embrace sustainability. From solar panel agreements to energy improvement mortgages to short-term loans for smaller green changes, keep reading to discover all the green finance deals on offer.

Energy Improvement Mortgages

If you are looking to make eco-friendly improvements to your home, such as more energy-efficient windows, additional insulation, or a better heating and cooling system, an energy improvement mortgage can help you to achieve your goals.

For those that already have a mortgage, you can increase your loan amount by refinancing your mortgage to cover the costs of your new upgrades. Although this will increase your monthly mortgage payments, you will recoup this over time through lower energy bills. (If you are age 62+, consider refinancing into a reverse mortgage for the same result)

In fact, by simply installing double-glazed windows in your home, you can expect to save $250-$300 per year. Given that these windows can last up to 20 years, this could save you $6000 over their life span. Furthermore, if you choose to install triple-glazed windows, you can expect further savings of between 5%-10%.

Short-term loans

If you are looking to make a series of smaller changes to your home, which do all add up to significant savings, your best bet may be to take out a short-term loan.

Cashlady offers quick cash loans that can be approved almost immediately, typically lending lower amounts that are paid back within short timeframes.

Small green upgrades that you may want to consider making include:

  • Installing LED lights that last longer and waste less energy than standard fluorescent bulbs – save up to $75 a year.
  • Fixing any inside or outside leaks – save up to $35 a year.
  • Replacing an old toilet with a WaterSense model – save $100 per year.
  • Planting shade trees – save $35-$199 a year.
  • Purchasing energy-efficient appliances. By upgrading all of your appliances, including your dishwasher, oven, fridge-freezer, and kettles to ones with a higher efficiency rating, you will use up to 40% less energy.

Solar leasing or PPAs 

Did you know that more than 75% of American households have access to third-party owned solar power?

What exactly is this?

Both solar leasing and power purchase agreements involve the solar provider in question paying for and being the rightful owner of your solar power system. They will take care of the system installation, the maintenance, and any repairs that need carrying out.

solar-leasing

Solar leasing can be advantageous, as you do not need to pay for any upfront costs to install the solar system. However, the savings you make will be less than if you purchased the solar panels outright, plus the provider is entitled to the financial incentives for going solar.

Alternatively, if you want to purchase solar panels outright, you could consider a home equity loan. Buying solar panels is not a cheap option (you can expect to pay between $10,000 and $30,000 depending on the size of your home). However, they are expected to last for at least 25 years with a less than 10-year payback on the system, meaning you could potentially enjoy 15 years of free electricity.

How to Reduce HVAC Energy Consumption at Home?

Heating and cooling account for more than 50% of home energy consumption. If you are paying a lot in the name of energy bills, your HVAC system is most likely the primary cause. It is vital to cut down on the energy consumption of utilities to save money (and energy). Energy companies such as American Power and Gas, suggest consumers and homeowners pay special attention to their HVAC system. as heating and cooling cost make up about 40% of your energy bills.

It may also be wise to consider switching to a system that operates on solar or other forms of renewable energy––Providing if it can be afforded.

Here are some ways you can reduce HVAC energy consumption:

Programmable Thermostat to The Rescue

HVAC system design can be made to consume less energy with the help of programmable thermostats.

The DOE recommends reducing room temperature to 15 degrees in winters when you are not home for 8-10 hours. Similarly, they suggest increasing the temperature by around 15 degrees in summers when you are not going to be home for half the day. This will help you save about 15% more energy annually.

The benefit that programmable thermostat gives you is that you won’t have to manually adjust the temperature every day. You can simply program it to change the temperature and save energy. It also has the added plus of operating on a timer so you don’t have to worry about leaving it on throughout the day.

Maintain The Coils Of Your AC Unit

The outdoor unit of the AC can allow dirt and debris to pass through it and gather around the coils and reduce the efficiency of the AC, as a result the unit consumes more energy to keep the room cool.

Keep your outdoor unit clean from dirt, fallen leaves, and other debris to make it work perfectly. If you believe that your outdoor unit needs cleaning, shut it off and use a vacuum to pull out all the dirt.

Inspect Air Filters 

Air filters need special attention as they can get blocked due to dirt and debris. They need to be replaced every season as damaged filters put extra pressure on the unit causing energy to be wasted.

Other than this, you should also replace the filters every now and then. This is not a very tough job and you can do it on your own.

Here’s how to do it:

  • Remove the filter and check for debris stuck in the filters.
  • Keep the filters under light to see if it’s able to pass through. If it doesn’t then you will have to wash the filters.
  • Clean the filters with a toothbrush, or another such tool first.
  • Put the filters in soapy water for a few hours, dry and see if the light passes again. If it does then you can re-apply those, otherwise, you may have to change the air filters.

The average life expectancy of air filters is about 2 to 3 months if they aren’t maintained. Otherwise, they can easily run for a year.

Out With The Old, In With The New

HVAC systems can be costly but if you have been using one for more than 10 years now then it’s time to replace it with a modern and an energy efficient HVAC system.

AC Coils of HVAC systems require regular cleanup

A Clean Way to Cool Down

You can also consult with your energy provider regarding making the switch to renewable energy services. You can also look into energy storage systems such as Tesla’s solar panels that can drastically cut your power bill and provide clean sustainable energy for your home.

The Verdict

Around 48% of US home energy consumption is directly attributable to HVAC use and heating or cooling. These are some of the most efficient ways which you can reduce the amount of energy consumed by your HVAC system.

4 Top Benefits of a Hybrid Car

Are you thinking about buying a new car? If yes, then you may seriously want to consider getting a hybrid car as there are many benefits to this type of car and more and more motorists are making the switch. Read on to discover a few of the main benefits of hybrid vehicles.

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1. Eco/Power Balance

One of the primary advantages of owning a hybrid is that you get a good balance of eco-friendly driving and power. You get the best of both worlds with a hybrid because they are more environmentally-friendly than a typical car but they also still have a lot of power, so there is no compromise on performance which is key for those that spend a lot of time behind the wheel.

2. Battery Charging

Many motorists are hesitant to make the switch to electric due to range anxiety. This is less of a concern with hybrid cars because you do not need to use or own a charging point as the vehicles charge up their own batteries, meaning that you can easily travel long distances without having to worry about stopping and recharging the battery.

3. Reliability

Reliability is key when deciding on a car and modern-day hybrids are highly reliable. The technology has come on leaps and bounds in recent years as the demand has soared, so you can be sure that any hybrid vehicle that you purchase will be a car that you can rely on each and every day.

4. Running Costs

Of course, another major advantage to buying a hybrid is that you can make huge long-term savings when it comes to running costs. Hybrids consume less fuel and emit less CO2 which means that you are spending far less on petrol than a typical automobile and you will pay less in road tax, plus you will also avoid congestion charges which are on the rise and being introduced in cities up and down the country. While they can cost more to buy, you can recuperate the cost that you save on fuel and you can make the cost easier to manage with a finance deal from somewhere like Go Car Credit.

These are the main benefits to buying a hybrid car over a conventional automobile but there are many others. It is easy to see why so many motorists are now making the switch and there are many excellent models to choose from, so it should be easy to find one that fits in with your lifestyle.

4 Eco-Friendly Measures Your Business Could Follow

In recent years, the impact of our behaviour on the environment has been brought into focus. From the plastic bag charge to Sir David Attenborough’s reporting of pollution in the world’s oceans, we’re beginning to take the necessary steps towards being more sustainable and aware of our actions on the planet.

If you’re a manager or owner of a company, you may already be making headway with reducing your carbon footprint and thinking more about waste management. Should you be looking for further ideas to help keep your company green, here are some eco-friendly measures that you could introduce in your day to day operations.

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Why go green?

Before we can look at ways to make your business more sustainable, it’s important to know why you’re focusing on this. First, you’ll be helping the climate. Offices tend to consume a lot of energy and the larger the office space, the more energy it consumes. By adopting energy saving and eco-friendly measures, it can be possible to reduce the carbon output of these office spaces and this can impact positively on the environment.

Google, for instance, has been carbon neutral for over a decade. In 2019, the company announced that, for the second year, it matched 100% of its energy consumption with renewable energy, offsetting its output.

Second, as a business you can save money. On average, the UK spends £29.1 billion on energy annually. By picking up some simple ideas, you could save on your energy bills and channel this money into other aspects of your business.

So, what can you do to make a difference?

1. Use sea or rail shipments

If you use international couriers to do business, now is the ideal time to rethink how you do this. Whether you’re an e-commerce business that depends on imports and exports or your clients are based around the world and regularly ship products to you, opting to have them get to you via rail or sea can cut down on air traffic pollution.

To find the couriers that specialise in this service, use a price comparison site such as Parcel2Go. This can be an easy way to whittle down your options and find the right fit for your company.

2. Add renewable tech

By introducing smart technology that can keep track of the energy your office or workspace consumes, you can see exactly how much energy is being wasted. This can then give you the numbers to aim for and help you to trial ideas to reduce your output.

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Energy monitoring systems are one type of tech that can prove to be a real investment. These can show you in real time how much is being consumed.

Create a green ethos

By making an eco-friendly ethos part of your everyday operations, your employees will follow suit. Getting everyone into the habit of turning lights off when not in use, popping paper into the recycling bin, and ensuring that you are a paperless office are some easy and quick updates that can go a long way.

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Switch up your lighting

Making the switch from traditional to LED lighting is another energy efficient update. An LED bulb will use just 9 Watts, compared to a standard bulb’s 60 Watts, plus an LED bulb lasts for 23,000 hours longer than a typical bulb. When your current light bulbs run out, it’s worth making a note and adding LED ones in their place.

Which of these methods have you already introduced in your office?

5 Energy-Saving Tips for Small Businesses

On average, small and midsize businesses in the United States use 15 kWh of electricity annually, mostly on lighting, heating, and cooling. These make up 19% of total expenses on an average office building. Energy-saving helps small businesses in several ways, including increase in profits, business growth, and reducing environmental impacts by lowering carbon dioxide emissions, boosting customer experience and comfort. Here are the top 5  energy-saving tips for small businesses:

Energy-Saving Tips for Small Businesses

1. Conduct regular energy audits

Energy audits involve the hiring of utility data management services to gather, standardize, validate, and interpret utility bill data to enable you to analyze, benchmark, and find opportunities to improve building performance. The energy audits aim at identifying potential changes that can lower energy consumption.

Business energy audits include gas, water, and electricity tariff reviews, consumption analysis and recommendations, expert energy management advice, and contract management.

2. Install a smart thermostat

Smart thermostats, also known as programmable thermostats, are electronic devices that offer you high-level control over your HVAC system operation by providing specific features and settings that help you save significant amounts of energy. They automatically turn the heating and cooling system on and off, depending on your temperature settings.

eco friendly business practices

Thermostats have a set point control that turns down your HVAC when not needed and automatically turns it on before work resumes to ensure an ideal indoor temperature. Besides giving you remote control via mobile phones or online, smart thermostats enable better monitoring of energy usage so you can adjust as needed to avoid wastage or overuse.

3. Use lighting controls and sensors

Lighting controls automatically turn lights on and off as needed to save energy. Occupancy sensors turn on lights immediately; they detect occupants in a space and are ideal in areas that people move in and out of unpredictably. You may also consider dimming controls that match lighting levels with user requirements, saving energy. In addition, you can use zero-power wireless sensors that use the scavenging technique to operate without batteries.

Photosensor controls ensure that outdoor lights don’t run during the day, while timer controls can be programmed to turn outdoor and indoor lights at specific times. Using kinetic energy, they create energy that can power electrical devices. This technology is still evolving, and you may not find as many sensors.

4. Reduce your business’s electronic footprint

Electronics can consume a lot of energy in an office setting. Focusing on electronics energy consumption can help lower energy costs. Consider replacing your desktops with laptops as they use less energy. Remember to power down your electronics when not in use and avoid using screen savers.

You may also consider buying energy-efficient office equipment and avoid energy vampires like monitors to save on energy costs.

air contamination at workplace

5. Consider alternative options

Electricity can be expensive. Shop around for alternatives that can best suit your business. You may consider installing solar panels as they are a cheaper energy source compared to electricity. They also come in handy during power outages.

how to use more renewable energy

Alternatively, standby generators are also an efficient power source and are ideal even in extreme weather conditions. They are an efficient long-term energy source that helps lower energy costs.

Endnote

Small businesses are continually looking for ways to save costs to maximize profits and enhance growth. These energy-saving tips will help you cut costs to increase your profit margins.

Water Heater Maintenance for Efficiency and Savings

Proper maintenance of your water heater can optimize its energy efficiency and make it work perfectly for a decade or two. The three major aspects of water heater maintenance are initial thermostat setting, regular maintenance and knowing the softness of incoming water. Read on to know more about water heater maintenance:

1. Initial thermostat setting

The daily rituals of bathing, washing dishes, washing clothes do not need superheated water.  Adjusting the thermostats properly can save you money.

maintenance of water heater

Most water heater manufacturers suggest thermostat setting on your water heater to 125 degrees Fahrenheit (51 C). This temperature by itself is enough to cause injury to your skin. Besides, when you run your bath water, you will bend in the amount of cold to make the output “just right”. So why would you raise the temperature if you are cooling it off?

Your water heater is one of if not the highest consumer of electricity in your home.  Best to set to the manufactures recommend level.

It’s the same theory for both gas-fueled and tankless. Why raise something if you are going to cool it off….

Conclusion:  take the time to verify that your unit’s thermostat is not overworking. Go for the 125 degrees F.  Save the money

I met one plumber that said he did not run hot water to his dishwasher.  He said the machine heated the water itself.

2. Regular Maintenance

Your manufacturer manual most likely suggests periodic inspection and/or maintenance. You can do this, or you can have a water heater plumbing contractor perform this. Every six months for mine. It’s not that big of a deal to do it.

Stop right here:  Turn off the electrical breaker before touching any electrical wiring.   Close the valve to your gas supply. No casual handling here.

Your unit, if it is a tank type, will have both heating elements and an anode rod.

Hard water allows the accumulation of lime or scale on the element. The speed of this process depends on the level of hardness of your water.

The submerged anode rod is sacrificial. It is added to attract water ions that would otherwise damage your tank.  The anode rod requires replacing every year or two.  A water heater contractor can be a good choice in this matter. It’s not that hard, but it is a process. Your elements are replaceable.  Cleaning them takes time and a little creativity. Go ahead and replace them.

Suggestion: tape a gallon size zip lock bag to your water heater tank. This is where you keep your manual and completed (dated) maintenance schedule.

3. Understanding the “softness” of water

Hard water causes heating elements to foul quicker.  When the elements begin “hissing”, it is a sign they are being fouled by being covered with lime.  They continue to heat, but not as efficiently.  Their ability to heat water will gradually diminish. Don’t wait for the “hissing” sound, follow the manufacturer’s maintenance recommendations.

disadvantages of hard water

Your manual states that using a water softener may cause the anode rod to deteriorate quicker.  You may enjoy the soft water, but your water heater will need more attention.

Conclusion

  • Save your money by managing your thermostat setting.
  • Regular maintenance and attention will protect your heater and extend its lifecycle.
  • Knowing the softness of your incoming water will help manage your maintenance schedule.
  • All this will extend your family budget.
  • For more information about your water heater reach out to your local plumbing company