The Easiest Ways to Save Money on Your Utility Bills

As the climate warms, it’s more important than ever to consider how you can lower your carbon footprint as a homeowner. And lowering your carbon footprint has another huge benefit: you can often save money as a result of green upgrades to your home. Besides making structural changes—like adding solar panels, for example, to your home, there are other ways to save on your utility bills such as turning off lights you’re not using. Below, we’ve gathered our tops tips for saving money on energy – and helping out the planet, too!

Take advantage of sunshine during the winter

The sun is basically free heat for your home. Homeowners can take advantage of what’s called passive solar design. During the day, open the curtains on south-facing windows to let the sunshine inside so it can warm up your house. This will keep your home considerably hotter during the colder months.

Don’t forget to close the curtains when the sun sets so you can keep as much of that trapped solar heat as possible. Consider investing in thick, insulated curtains, which will help keep heat inside your living spaces.

Pay attention to your ceiling fan’s rotation in winter and summer

As you may know, warm air rises. Instead of letting that warm air go up, up and away, you can leverage your ceiling fan to keep that warm air close to you and your family. Reverse your ceiling fan’s rotation so that it turns clockwise instead of counterclockwise. This will keep the hot air in your living spaces.

And during the hotter months, make sure the fan is spinning counterclockwise to pull hot air away from you.

Get a new roof

A new roof can make a huge difference in your energy savings. Best of all? Energy-efficient roofing helps you save money in both the colder and warmer months. Many new types of roofing are “cool roofs” which reflect more of the sun’s rays instead of allowing solar heat to permeate into the home. This means that you don’t have to run the AC as low or as often. In the winter, a new roof helps prevent warm air from escaping.

Plus, in many areas, you might be eligible for a government tax incentive for replacing an old roof with an energy-efficient version.

Seal drafts around windows, doors, and other areas of your home

One of the best methods for determining what areas of your home can be more energy-efficient is by conducting a DIY energy audit. To do an energy audit, light an incense stick and watch to see if smoke is pulled to cracks in the windows or under the doors. You can also sometimes feel drafts by simply putting your palm up around the edges of windows and doors. Once you find drafty areas, it’s important to seal up those holes with weather stripping or caulking.

Fixing air leaks will benefit you both in the summer and the winter because it helps keep your HVAC system from working overtime.

Invest in a smart thermostat

A smart thermostat is a prudent investment, especially if you regularly forget to turn off the A/C or heat when you leave for work or errands. That wasted energy can add up to a big utility bill at the end of the month. A smart thermostat regulates the temperature and automatically programs a specific range to keep you comfortable but turns off in unoccupied rooms.

Schedule regular maintenance

Routine maintenance is essential to promote the longevity of your HVAC system and to ensure that your home isn’t wasting energy. Make sure to replace filters at least once a month and keep tabs on how old your HVAC system is, most systems need to be replaced every 15-20 years.

Takeaways

There are a variety of reasons as to why it’s in your best interest to find ways to make your home greener. Not only do green upgrades ultimately save you money, they also help the planet during a time when a climate emergency is threatening our very existence. If you want to see a smaller utility bill and live a more eco-friendly life, utilize some of the tips mentioned in this article. You’ll save money and help save earth, too.

Water Conservation: How to Save Water at Your Home

The importance of saving water cannot be understated, especially as many countries around the world are facing drought conditions. Of course, there is an endless list of small changes you can make as a homeowner to improve the water-saving efficiency of your home, and they add up to a potentially significant difference in the long-term.

Re-Purpose Water

A staggering amount of water literally goes down the drain each day, when there are plenty of smart, safe ways to conserve as much of it as possible. Your bathroom is a key contributor to single-use wastage, and by keeping a container on the floor of your shower you can collect liters with each use. Meanwhile, in the kitchen, even seemingly small things like using a container to catch the water used in washing fresh produce can make a difference over time.

Get Smart About Lawn Care

It’s a common misconception that maintaining a healthy lawn requires a plentiful supply of water. Even during water-restricted periods, keeping your grass green is possible – you just have to get clever about your lawn care practices. Depending on the severity of restrictions, you may only be allowed to water your garden and lawn on certain days and at set times of day, and this will probably be enough, as long as you follow a few guidelines.

If possible, it’s best to water your plants and grass in the evening so that the water has plenty of time to soak into the soil and roots without the threat of evaporation. In case you’re unsure whether to water or not, feeling the topsoil for dryness will give you the best indication.

Use the Half-flush

The second button on the toilet is more than just an aesthetic feature. In fact, the half-flush button can save as much as 70% of the water used in a full flush, owing to the difference in flushing design. A wash-down design and a large trap way make it easier for waste to flow down the drain, meaning less water is required. If you can afford to replace an old, inefficient system, you stand to save a lot of water (and by extension, money) in the long-term.

Use Dual Sinks

Washing dishes by hand gets a bad rap in terms of water efficiency, and it often uses more water than a dishwasher, but it’s possible to prevent a great deal of wastage by using your sink effectively. If you have a double-barreled sink, using one side for washing and the other for rinsing will allow you to wash an unlimited load without needing to refresh the water.

Check the Ratings

Every water-using device has an efficiency rating, and choosing a well-rated model will help you prevent unnecessary wastage at the source. In some countries, large devices like dishwashers and washing machines come with a star rating to give an indication of their efficiency, and even if they don’t, you can still do your own comparative checks.

In the US, the toilet is typically the biggest source of water wastage, followed by the shower and faucets, but with modern water-efficient designs like water-saving vacuum toilets and low-flow showerheads, much of that water could be preserved.

Install Water-Saving Faucets

The only thing more efficient than collecting and re-using run-off from the shower is using less water at the source, and the right faucet can help with that. Just like dishwashers and washing machines, faucets often come with a water-efficiency rating, but they can also be made more eco-friendly through simple add-ons like aerators. An aerator installation is a perfect project for eco-conscious lovers of DIY – once it’s done, the difference will be practically undetectable, and you’ll be saving liters without even trying.

Buy Smaller Machines

Devices like dishwashers and washing machines are becoming more water-efficient with each passing year, but the fact remains that large machines tend to use much more water than their smaller counterparts. A smaller device will also make it easier to commit to only running full loads, since it will take less time to fill.

You might even consider investing in a double-gallon dishwashers, designed to run smaller loads with half the amount of water – there’s plenty of technology available to help in your quest to use less.

Install a Water Tank

If you have the money and the space available on your property, a water tank is one of the best long-term water-saving investments you can make. Even the average backyard water tank allows for the collection of several hundred liters, which is more than enough to keep your yard in good condition or fill your bathtub many times over. Tanks can be expensive to buy, but the savings you stand to make on your water bills will make it all worthwhile.

Fresh drinking water is a precious resource, and developing efficient usage habits has never been more important. The bottom line is that saving water isn’t difficult, and with a few tips and tricks up your sleeve, you’re fully-equipped to start doing your bit for the environment and the world as a whole.

Understanding the Impact of Clogged Air Filters On Energy Consumption

As soon as the chill begins to set in with fall, the need for indoor heating starts to push electricity bills up significantly with each passing month. This continues until winter finally arrives and skyrockets electricity bills to ridiculous amounts. This is pretty much what happens in summer too if you happen to live in Texas, Florida or any of the other hot states.

In both situations though, it’s the HVAC system that consumes all the energy, which is not exactly unexpected. What most of us don’t realize is that it’s most likely those clogged filters that are making the HVAC waste more energy than it should need.

How Do Clogged Filters Affect Your HVAC System?

Before we can discuss how clogged filters affect electricity bills, it is important to understand how clogged filters affect HVAC units in the first place.

The role of an air filter is simple enough; it stops as much of the air impurities as possible from entering and circulating in the indoor environment. After a while, all that dirt, dust, debris, etc., that the filter prevented from getting in begins to congeal together, slowly closing off the airways.

Once the accumulated gunk becomes heavy enough, the HVAC system has to work extra hard to push air past these narrow airways. This is where the problem lies, as a number of negative effects from the increased exertion and dirty filters are seen.

The Effects of Extra Load on HVAC Units

Given that an HVAC system isn’t equipped to handle all that extra load on a regular basis, a number of negative impacts are seen as a result of clogged air filters.

  • The unit begins to consume more power, to be able to push air past the dirty filters
  • The increased power consumption becomes evident, as energy bills surge in direct proportion
  • Excess load decreases the potential lifetime of an HVAC unit
  • The heat exchange mechanism can overheat and short-circuit
  • The cooling coil may freeze in absence of sufficient airflow for dissipating condensation during summer
  • Breakdowns become more common, further adding to the maintenance expenses
  • Both the heating and cooling capacities of the unit suffers; slower and less effective heating/cooling
  • Since the air is pushed through the gunk with force, it circulates all the dispersed pollutants throughout the house

How to Know When Your HVAC System Needs a Filter Change?

Some of the signs are pretty obvious, but you should act before they become too obvious and your unit breaks down in the middle of January! It can get a little costly to change air filters on a regular basis for sure, so try to get them from discountfilterstore.com.

Go through the following and it should provide a decent guide towards detecting the need for a filter change before the problems get too serious.

  • It has been more than three months since your last filter change
  • The filters are starting to look grey or develop spots
  • Increase in indoor dust accumulation
  • Increase in allergic reactions such as sneezing, skin rashes, etc.
  • Heating/cooling seems to be taking a lot longer than expected
  • Heating/cooling isn’t as effective as before

Air filters serve the vital function of keeping the indoor environment fresh and healthy for everyone, but those same filters can also become the cause for health and financial problems unless they are changed in time. As long as you keep track of the change cycle though, none of what we discussed should be a cause for concern.

Why You Should Buy a Home Weather Station

With the huge innovation and advancement in home technology, weather stations have become a popular purchase and are something that many homeowners are incorporating in their homes. There are numerous reasons why people are opting for these devices, and the huge array of options available, picking the right one is easier than ever as you can cut out a lot of the work by reading these reviews by Temperaturesensei.

Although there are many people who already have weather stations in their homes, there are still some who are uncertain about this technology and do not know whether they should incorporate it or not. In this post, we are going to discuss everything that you need to know about home weather stations, including the benefits.

What is a Weather Station

A weather station is a relatively small gadget that has various tools that enable it to discern the surrounding weather. It is equipped with an array of temperature monitors and sensors, which give you information about the climate around you and the environment that you might be in. Not long ago, this was technology that was primarily utilized in meteorological departments to gather weather data.

However, innovation in technology has led to the creation of smaller versions while maintaining the same functionality. These gadgets are designed to give localized information regarding the weather conditions around the house or nearby areas. They have proven to be pretty accurate and very efficient in proving the readings you want.

Applications of a Weather Station

These devices have an array of uses that have made them quite popular. Professionally, weather stations are utilized to garner data and provide weather information of a certain area. However, home weather stations take a more practical approach and provide information that you would need.

For instance, a home weather station can give you information on the temperature so that you can dress accordingly. If you’re planning a BBQ party on the weekend, you can use the device to know whether the weather will be conducive that day. There are numerous applications of these gadgets and all can help you be better prepared for any kind of weather condition.

Benefits of Home Weather Station

With the numerous uses of these devices, there are many benefits associated with them. If you are on the fence about purchasing one, then it would help to know the advantages of home weather stations.

Accurate Readings

Chances are the meteorological department is located far from your house. In such a case, the weather predictions you get may not be the most precise. That’s because the weather in that region may not be the same as where you reside. This is where home weather stations become more advantageous. These gadgets provide the exact details regarding the temperature of where you live. That’s because the readings are centered around your residence.

Real-Time Data

This is probably the reason why most people are opting for the home weather station. The ability to get real-time information makes this device worth the purchase. In the past, people used to rely on weather reports on the news for predictions or reports from the meteorological departments. Well, you no longer have to depend on these sources and get your own precise data on the weather much faster, thus allowing to make plans in a more convenient manner.

Real-Time Alerts

The weather changes every time and it can take an unexpected turn that’s not ideal, especially in regions that are prone to hurricanes and storms. Owning a weather station can help you and your loved ones in such situations, stay safe when weather changes are detected. With real-time data and alerts, you will be informed about the weather all the time, thus helping you stay safer.

Share Data

Home weather stations can ideally run on multiple devices simultaneously, meaning every family member can be able to use them. This makes it easy to share information regarding weather conditions, thus helping everyone stay up to date and prepared. This is again extremely helpful in regions that experience harsh weather conditions and need to warn each other.

Ease of Use

Home weather stations are designed with ease of use and efficiency in mind. They are meant to provide precise weather information in a simple way. If you’re looking for a gadget that’s easy to read and does not bombard you with jargon, then a home weather station is the answer. A great example is the ThermoPro TP-67. It is a simple and efficient gadget that’s easy to use even for older people. It is also easy to install, which adds to the advantages.

Creates a Smarter Home

Smart homes are the in thing today. Installing a home weather station is certainly a great way to make your home more efficient. The devices were designed with the needs of people who need instant information about the weather in mind and they do a great job at satisfying those needs. If you are looking to create a smarter home that will be efficient for years to come, then this something that you should incorporate today.

Precise Forecasting

Knowing the current weather conditions around your residence is just not enough. There are times when you want to know about the weather forecast for the next several days. Well, these gadgets are designed to deliver just that. A weather station can help you prepare better for the weather in the next few days and help you plan your activities better.

Helps in Home Maintenance

Protecting your home from weather damage is imperative, particularly if you reside in places that experience drastic weather changes and harsh conditions. Heat, rain and snow can cause substantial damage to your home, causing you to spend thousands of dollars on repairs and replacements. A simple weather station can help you better maintain your house throughout the seasons and even safeguard your house from weather damage.

Tips for Buying a Home Weather Station

To enjoy the benefits of a home weather station, you need to choose the right device. When it comes to picking one, there are two primary things to consider; the sensors and the price.

When purchasing a home weather station, do not lean towards the cheapest in order to save a little money. The more you spend on a device, the more reliable and accurate it will be. Cheaper models are less precise with data, and this defeats the purpose of owning one.

An ideal weather station should have a thermometer for temperature measurement, a barometer for atmospheric pressure, anemometer for wind speed and direction, humidity sensor for humidity levels and rain gauge for rainfall and precipitation.

The Ultimate Guide To Convert Your Home Into A Smart Home

With more and more brands and companies launching a variety of different smart lighting systems, speakers, sensors, it is easier than ever to convert your home into a smart home. If you have no prior experience in creating a smart home, it can be a confusing task to choose the right kind of devices. Moreover, you might not even know the solutions available to convert your home into a smart home. That is why it is vital to first understand how to transform your home into a smart home.

If you’re worried about the expenses, there are many ways in which you can create a smart home within your budget. It will allow you to control the various aspects of your home without having to spend a significant amount of money.

Moreover, the products available these days are becoming more and more affordable. As a result, it is easier to build a smart home. We will today list a step-by-step guide which will allow you to convert your home into a smart home.

  1. Smart lighting

Lighting systems are the best way to control the appearance of your home. Moreover, when you opt for a smart lighting system, you can easily control the ambiance of the house with the help of a Wi-Fi connection. Most of them offer a mobile application through which, you can efficiently manage the entire lighting system. Every light on the lighting system connects to the central hub.

Therefore, controlling it is easier than ever. When you’re looking at the individual bulbs which you can buy and integrate with the Wi-Fi connection at home, you can opt for the ones from TP-Link and LIFX. These products are not only compatible with the Wi-Fi connection, but many of them work along with Bluetooth as well.

Some of the other well-known companies who sell such smart bulbs include Philips Hue, Sengled Element. These, however, can be controlled by Zigbee signals which in turn work along with the Wi-Fi signal. Ultimately, A router can control them. You can manage these with the help of the app on your smartphone. The app will work on any Android-based device. As a result, programming the light according to the theme selected in the app is not a problem at all.

In case, you want to automate your existing lighting system you can change the switches and replaced them with smart switches and cameras. You can use smartphone applications to control them. Some of the companies which sell the smart switches are TP-LINK, Ecobee, Leviton, etc. these switches are directly controllable through Wi-Fi. It will not require a central hub. That is why; you can save a significant amount of money by going for the switches. If you want a centralized system, you can go with Noon Home’s system. It is comparatively expensive, but it allows you to have complete control over the lighting system. Thus, when it comes to smart lighting, there are a wide variety of options available.

  1. Smart speakers

Smart speakers play a significant role in a smart-home. You can control the various functions of the house using the voice commands. As a result, they work as an assistant to control every aspect of your home. You can go with the Google home speaker or the Amazon Echo speaker. The choice is entirely up to you. If you want a single speaker to control the various options, you can go with Amazon Echo speaker.

On the other hand, if you’re going to create a series of such points in your home, you can go with the Google home series. Google series works on the fact that you can install multiple speakers throughout your home and one in each room to control every aspect of your home. That is why, if you want to create a network of smart devices, Google home is the perfect option for you.

Google home is controlled using Google assistant. Amazon Echo devices are controlled using Amazon Alexa. Even Lenovo sells quick display series which work using Google home.

Lenovo is not alone, which is integrating these devices along with its offerings. Various other device manufacturers are doing the same. That is why, when you want to incorporate the smart speakers in your home, it is easier to do so. You can create the entire ecosystem of smart devices and control TVs, lights, thermostats, and a variety of other functions of your home with the help of these speakers.

  1. Smart thermostats

Climate control systems in our home consume the maximum amount of energy. Moreover, when the weather is at extremes, they make sure that the ambiance in your home is entirely comfortable. These days, people are using Usave.co.uk for energy comparison and choosing the right energy supplier. You can go a step further and save even more energy with the help of smart thermostats. These ensure that you can easily control the ambiance of your home. These thermostats have a predictive system which means that they can set the temperature of the house conveniently and on their own.

When you look at the basic working of these thermostats, they require you to set up sensors everywhere in your home. They control the temperature precisely in the part of the house where you are present. They also keep the rest of the home like the passageways at a comfortable temperature. However, precise control is in the area in which the individuals are present. Hence, there is a significant amount of energy saving. Thus, when you want to control the temperature of your home efficiently, smart thermostats are the perfect option.

  1. Home Security Cameras

When converting your home into a smart one, it is also essential to make it more secure. The smart-homes are easy to secure as they rely on sensors and devices rather than individuals. It is even more affordable as compared to hiring security guards. The best tool which you have got to handle the security of your home in a smarter way is the smart camera. With the help of the smart-camera, it is easier to monitor your home.

Moreover, when there is any unusual activity in your home, you can get alert easily. Also, the smart cameras which we are speaking about are not just helpful for detecting intrusions or burglary, but also can help you in monitoring your children and pets. They are multipurpose which means that you can use them for the application which you prefer.

Some of the options which you have when it comes to smart cameras are:

  • Ring
  • Netatmo
  • Maximum

The advantage of smart cameras is that they incorporate lights and a variety of different motion sensors into the security system. They also integrate the doorbell so that you can easily monitor the entry and exit points of your home. You can communicate with the individuals at the entrance and exit points without having to open the door at all. You can do so remotely as well. As a result, you can control the access to your home remotely or from your smartphone without any problem.

The motion sensors ensure that you get an alert whenever there is unusual activity in the monitored area. As a result, you always get alerts about any intrusion or unfriendly individuals even before they enter your home. The smart cameras are easy to install and do not require any unique fixtures which ensures that you can make the security of your home smarter by merely installing these cameras and connecting them with the Wi-Fi system.

  1. Smart audio systems

The multi-room audio systems ensure that you can get that you get entertainment in every room. There are options to choose from like:

  • Sonos
  • Yamaha
  • HEOS

These are self-contained speakers. You can keep them in every room and connect them with the Wi-Fi. They will help you to stream the music. Moreover, they can stream music from a variety of different services like Spotify. You can also select the tracks through your smartphone.

The difference between the speakers and something like Amazon Echo or Google home systems is that these speakers have a much better audio quality. They are not just for listening to commands, but actually up the entertainment quotient. Moreover, they can be integrated with TV and enhance your music watching experience. You can control them with the help of the tablet or the smartphone without any problem.

When speaking about something like Sonos, it works with the help of Amazon Alexa digital assistant. As a result, you can integrate it into your smartphone without any problem. Thus, when looking up the entertainment question and make your entertainment devices smarter, these are the speakers which you should choose.

  1. Smart sensors

The sensors play the role of eyes and ears in any smart-home system. Without sensors, it will be challenging to control the functions of a smart-home. The smart sensors ensure that they detect motion inside and outside the home. Inside the house, they correct the climate control system to make the ambiance more habitable. Also, they can switch on and off the lights depending on whether a room is vacant or not. Hence, it becomes easier for you to automate the climate control system.

Additionally, some of the sensors are used for smoke detection as well. The smoke detection sensors alert the smartphone numbers which you input as well. You can authorize a contact to get an alert with the help of the smart sensors. As a result, whenever there is a problem at your home, the authorized contacts will get an instant alert as well. When those contacts get a warning, they can act accordingly and arrange for the emergency services to reach your home as well. The sensors are not just available for fire detection.

There are the sensors which monitor the air quality of your home as well. These sensors, especially monitor the carbon monoxide levels. Accordingly, it instructs the climate control system to filter the air or the air purifier to activate. The more the number of sensors the more precisely each smart device can operate.

Also, there are smart smoke alarms available. The Nest Protect is such a smoke alarm system. It has emergency lights as well to show you the way out. Moreover, it sends an alert to your contacts as well. When it comes to sensors, they can accomplish a wide variety of factors. It is wise to use such sensors in your home to make your home smarter and safer.

  1. Smart irrigation system

Technology is available to automate every system of your home. That is why, if you’re worried about manually doing the lawn and garden irrigation, you don’t need to worry anymore. The smart irrigation systems can automatically detect the moisture in your lawn or your garden. As a result, they can use the irrigation devices to ensure that you can water the garden or backyard. They also take into account the type of plants which you have.

Moreover, if you do not want to automate them, you can control them through your app. You can install duplicators or sprinkle indicators. When you manage them with the help of the app, they will start and stop according to your commands. As a result, without having to control the irrigation devices manually, you can efficiently manage your garden or your lawn. When you do that, you can be sure that the plants or the garden will always be in proper condition.

The advantage of smartphone app control is that even when traveling, you can water your lawn as well as your garden without any problem. It will ensure that you don’t need to hire anyone else to take care of the lawn or garden irrigation.

Final Words

So, when it comes to converting your home into a smart-home, these are the seven steps which you need to follow. Each of the above steps deals with a different system. With the help of these seven smart home systems, it is easier than ever to automate various aspects of your home. According to VIP Realty, homes will also sell faster and for more money.

You can control them from your mobile application as well which will ensure that you can customize each element of your home remotely. In the process, you can also save a significant amount of resources and utilities. With smart-systems becoming more and more affordable, now there is no reason why you should not convert your home into a smart-home.

Environmental Considerations When Using Drum Heaters

For people in the colder parts of the world, temperatures can become an issue. Sometimes, you might need to keep your liquids, water or fuel at the normal room temperature. The main use of drum heaters is that they work as storages that keep their content at a certain temperature.

Barrel heaters are especially needed if their content loses its nature and benefits due to a drop or a rise in the temperature. Barrel heater is a cheap solution for maintaining high energy without paying for its cost, in addition you are reducing the pollution since the energy is being recycled within the system. So, what do you need to consider when you are using drum heaters? That is what we are going to tackle.

Harsh weather

Harsh environmental conditions, especially the low temperature of the cold months, might push the need to use a heater for your drums to avoid causing them any damages to keep them in ultimate condition. Buying good drum heater jackets will keep you away from breaking the bank just to save your desired content. They don’t only keep your drums at the required temperature, they also save and lower the viscosity of the fluids so you wouldn’t need to replace them as often and more importantly, they protect them from freezing in harsh cold environment conditions.

Energy saving

Electrical insulated heating jackets offer more protection from cold or freezing due to the extra layer of insulation they have. With heat loss kept at minimum, the heating jackets offer more energy saving options which make their power consumption drop automatically, this also translates to cost of operation drop. What’s even more positive about these jackets is that they are normally designed to cover the whole containers, thus you are more likely to be saved from any energy loss.

Using some types of barrel heaters that do not cover the whole drum might waste energy as they naturally get hot. Due to thermodynamics basics, the heat will start dissipating from the higher-temperature surface to the cold atmosphere. That is why when using the right type of heater for your needs, make sure that it will cover the whole container you have so you don’t waste any energy.

Saving space = saving energy

An extra step to save money and time is to place your drums in a closed space. Open spaces make it harder to maintain your drums at desired temperatures. Putting your drums and barrels in an enclosed space will ensure that no energy is wasted to the atmosphere and manage heat escape.

Choose the one that works best for you

When you are first buying the heater, it is always a good step to buy one that is flexible. Drum heaters are really simple on the design side, however, using one that does not fit may create more of a problem than it solves. Buying a good drum heater that is adjustable or can fit any type of container you have, is always a smart idea to save you from the headache and wasting your money.

Why Engineered Wood Floors are the Best Flooring for Your New Home

Choosing the best flooring for your dream home is not an easy task. There are a wide variety of flooring options available in the market, and it is sometimes frustrating to select the right type of flooring. Engineered wood flooring is a cost-effective and eco-friendly flooring option to add a touch of elegance to your new home. Read more about the unique features of engineered wood flooring below:

  1. Engineered wood is eco-friendly

With increasing focus on green lifestyle, homeowners are looking for eco-friendly hard flooring to make their homes truly green and environmentally-friendly. The appearance of engineered wood flooring is almost the same as that of solid wood flooring but the manufacturing processes are quite different.

Image Source: https://lifestyleflooringuk.co.uk/blog/post/five-benefits-of-linton-engineered-wood-flooring

Engineered wood flooring is made up of a thin veneer on top of a less-expensive plywood. This distinctive style of manufacturing not only helps in conservation of natural wood, but also makes the flooring both cheaper and stronger. A new industry trend is to replace plywood with recycled wood fiber mixed with stone dust which provides additional dimensional stability.

  1. Ease in installation

Engineered wood flooring offers installation advantage as it is easier and cost-effective to install than traditional hardwood floors. The wide range of installation methods include stapling or nailing, fold-and-lock, or glue. The ease in installation makes it ideal for both DIY and professional installation.

Engineered wood floors are milled with tongue and groove (T&G) construction in which the planks are fitted together, like puzzle pieces, with each row held down by the row next to it. T&G milling allow the floors to be stapled or nailed down, glued, and sometimes floated. The versatility of engineered wood can be gauged from the fact that it can be directly installed over a concrete subfloor or on top of old hardwood floors.

  1. Better resistance to moisture

Engineered wood is more capable of fighting moisture than conventional wood floors, primarily due to its dimensional stability which prevents warps and other deformities when it comes into contact with water. The relatively stable structure of engineered wood is provided by the cross-wise layers of plywood fibers which is in contrast to parallel fibers of hardwood.

The moisture-resistant nature of engineered floors makes it well-suited for moisture-prone areas like bathrooms and basements. The ability to withstand moisture means engineered wood is more durable than conventional hardwood floors.

  1. More resistant to temperature changes

Compared to traditional hardwood floors, engineered wood floors have better capabilities to resist temperature changes. The multiple-ply plank design facilitates its expansion without compromising on its structural strength and stability. The hardwood and plywood layers are bonded together under heat and pressure which negates the natural tendency of hardwoods to expand, contract, warp, or cup when exposed to temperature changes in certain areas, like utility rooms.

  1. Amazing range of styles, grades and finishes

Engineered wood floors can adapt to your lifestyle as well as your budget. It is available in a wide array of styles, like oak and maple, and diverse range of multiple finishes including matte, semi-gloss, and high-gloss. You have the option to go for cost-efficient tough, lacquered floor or to choose the top-quality oiled version. You also have the liberty to choose a rustic or a time worn appearance, depending on your preferences.

Conclusion

Engineered wood floors is a cost-efficient, durable, versatile and eco-friendly alternative to traditional flooring options, like hardwood, laminate and parquet flooring. Its ability to withstand moisture and temperature changes makes it well-suited for all kinds of residential and commercial buildings. The easy installation and hassle-free maintenance of engineered wood flooring makes it attractive for an amateur DIY buff as well as for a professional interior decorator. To sum up, engineered wood floors are a logical alternative to provide elegance and creativity to your new home.

Newly-Launched Inventions That Can Help Homeowners Save Energy

Domestic energy efficiency has advanced a long way over the last few decades. Despite our overall energy consumption increasing by just over a third since 1980, on average our homes consume around 10% less overall. How can this be the case when we have so many more electrical appliances? Back in 1980, not many homes had more than a single TV, and computers and mobile phones were essentially non-existent. Yet somehow they used more electricity!

The answer to this question comes down to one simple principle. Energy efficiency. Government regulations and technical advances led by the private sector have resulted in appliances that are simply more sustainable. Throw in a better public understanding of the importance of reducing carbon emissions, and also the use of money expert comparison sites to track the expense of powering a home, and it the picture becomes a little clearer.

Expect to see this trend become ever more prevalent in the near future, as sustainability has become a huge industry sector that continues to rapidly expand.

Here’s a selection of the most recent technologies that are already helping homeowners save money that we can expect to become common place over the coming years.

1. Smart Homes

At first glance, you may wonder what the point is in buying a new domestic appliance that is advertised as ‘internet connected/ready’. After all, who is going to need a web compatible refrigerator or air conditioning unit? It is increasingly common for newly released appliances to boast this feature because in the coming years, our homes are going to be much more connected than at present. Being able to monitor and control energy expenditure remotely via smartphone is a tech that is already with us – but these are still the early days.

The next big step forward is going to be the implementation of wireless sensors throughout the home. These will connect all the appliances in the home to a centralized control panel which will automatically instruct how they interact with the energy supply.

For instance, appliances not in use, but on ‘standby’ mode will be entirely disconnected from the power supply when nobody is at home. Heating and air conditioning use will be precisely measured according to the ambient temperature. Just these two examples – and there are many more in the pipeline – are set to shave a considerable amount of household energy consumption in the very near future.

2. Next Generation Home Insulation

The US Industrial Science & Technology Network takes the approach that heating and cooling costs can best be reduced by simply developing superior insulation. While still at the development stage, these are promised to be far more efficient at preventing heat from escaping.

As may be expected, they are also going to be environmentally sound and most likely comprised of recycled foam materials. Should these be proven to work, there is a very good chance they will become the industry norm for new build and redeveloped housing in the years to come.

3. Reflective Roofing Materials

While insulation is ideal for maintaining an ambient temperature what about those who live in warmer climes? Everyone knows how expensive it is to run air conditioning 24 hours a day, but there have been considerable recent advances in reflective rooftop materials. Currently, these work by using special pigments that are coated onto the roof in order to reflect sunlight and heat.

The next generation in development will use fluorescent pigments that look likely to be up to four times more efficient. So for those who reside in areas where effective air conditioning is essential around the year, these new materials may well be an absolute godsend.

4. Magnetocaloric Refrigerators

A fridge powered by magnets? Close, but not quite. Refrigeration technology has barely changed or advanced since they were first introduced. Modern fridges still rely on vapor compression, which unfortunately requires chemical coolants that are notoriously bad for the environment.

Next generation models are going to be able to make use of water-based coolants that make use of the magnetocaloric effect. In layperson’s terms, this is the use of magnets to alter the magnetic field which can provide an extremely energy efficient cooling effect. Expect this to become commonplace in the coming years, thanks to their potential in enormously reducing energy expenditure and carbon emissions.

5. Much More Efficient Heat Pumps

Considerable progress has been made by the US Building Technologies Office in developing heat pumps that essentially move heat throughout the home. There are three models in design that promise to considerably reduce expenditure on heating while also significantly reduce carbon emissions. Standard gas boilers/furnaces are notoriously expensive and inefficient.

  • A low-cost gas-based heating pump could massively increase efficiency and result in lowering heating costs by a staggering 45%.
  • Multiple function fuel based pumps designed for domestic use can still save an estimated 30% with the added bonus of also providing more efficient water heating.
  • Natural gas based heating pumps connected with air conditioners aim to use a very low emission boiler to cater for all domestic needs regardless of the season. Of all three options, this is the most complete package and the one most likely to become widespread in the coming years.

These styles of heat pumps are also going to be used to significantly reduce the energy used by clothes drying machines. General Electric has been already near completing their first gas pump compatible dryer. This is intended to reduce the energy consumption of perhaps the least efficient appliance in the home by up to 60%.

6. Even Better LED Lighting

Energy saving lighting may have become the accepted norm in many households, and the good news is that it is set to become even better. At present these are up to 85% more efficient than old fashioned incandescent bulbs, but the next generation – scheduled for a few years time – promise to double their efficiency. An improvement up to 230 lumens (from the current 115) is forecast.

8% of all electricity consumption in the USA are due to lighting homes and businesses. Having that figure will make for a huge national saving and reduction of energy costs across the board. (Source:https://www.eia.gov/tools/faqs/faq.php?id=99&t=3)

7. Advanced Window Insulation

While still in development this may not sound like a huge advance, but could well result in enormous net energy savings down the line. Using microprocessors and sensors to measure sunlight and radiant heat, these are going to automatically provide shading to assist with providing ideal natural lighting and also assist with heating. Expect these to be integrated with the general smart home system outlined above in due course.

Final Thoughts

So there we have seven of the most exciting and interesting developments that we can expect to see in the home over the coming years. While some are already in production while others are just passing the prototype phase, the future is looking positive in terms of reducing emissions and better managing energy consumption. Energy efficiency is here to stay and these developments will likely only be the tip of the iceberg compared to what we can look forward to over coming decades.

5 Energy Saving Tactics for Homeowners and Businesses

There are many easy ways to save money and electricity every month around your home. And as you will see from the following examples, they don’t all require you to downgrade your lifestyle or make major sacrifices in your everyday life. Some of these energy saving tactics will apply more during hot times of the year or cold times, but most will serve you well all year long.

save energy concept

And keep in mind that many of these energy-saving tips can apply just as well to businesses trying to save money as they do to homeowners.

1. Use Energy-Efficient Appliances

Your major household appliances use up a lot of electricity year-round, so when it comes time to repair or replace one of them, consider upgrading to a more energy-efficient model. Many manufacturers make refrigerators, dishwashers, ranges, washing machines and dryers that meet or exceed EnergyStar guidelines and can save you hundreds of dollars per year in lower energy bills.

2. Eliminate Electricity “Leaks”

Most homeowners are aware of water leaks in their homes such as leaky faucets, cracked garden hoses and poorly sealed pipe fittings in the walls. But your home could also be leaking electricity every day.

A lot of electricity gets wasted needlessly due to so-called “energy leaks”. These could include appliances that draw power 24/7, even when not in use. Other energy leaks could be simple things like leaving the lights turned on in empty rooms or falling asleep with the television on.

Fortunately, there are easy ways to reduce energy leaks without putting a drain on your lifestyle, such as using power strips, timers and motion sensors to cut off these devices when nobody is using them.

3. Improve Your Home’s Insulation

Another factor that drives up your monthly electric bill is the hot or cold air outside making its way into your home. There are two main ways to address this:

  1. Seal your doors and windows
  2. Put in better insulation

If your doors or windows are old and have cracks or holes, then go ahead and get those replaced. Double-paned glass windows and sliding doors can add an extra layer of protection to regulate your internal temperature.

If there are any gaps around the perimeter or frame of your doors and windows, then replacing the weatherstripping should seal those off easily. This is actually good DIY project for beginners that will only cost you a few bucks and a few minutes per door/window.

Replacing your insulation can be a big job and will likely require some professional help, not only to get the job done right, but also to ensure compliance with all building codes and regulations. The main question for you to discuss with your chosen contractor will be to decide what type of insulation will work best for your needs and your budget. Common materials include natural fibers, plastics, foam, minerals and fiberglass insulation.

When hiring a contractor, be sure they include air-sealing services in the estimate, since leaks, gaps and cracks in the walls, ceilings and floors should be done prior to putting in the insulation. Some insulation types, such as fiberglass insulation, are installed using techniques that literally blow the materials into place and do an excellent job of sealing off leaks.

4. Properly Use and Maintain Your HVAC System

Your heating, ventilation and cooling (HVAC) system can also make or break your power bill every month, especially during the winter or summer seasons. These heating and cooling systems are comprised of many motors and moving parts which are subject to wear and tear and will require ongoing maintenance.

While your HVAC system is designed to last for several years, some individual components can become worn out and create inefficiencies which overload the entire system, wasting energy and causing additional damage. So you do need to be diligent in maintaining or repairing these systems as needed. Many HVAC repair companies in your area offer free inspections of heaters, air conditioners and centralized ventilation systems, so take advantage of those when they are available.

5. Use Green Building Materials

When constructing a new home or adding on to your existing property, using green building materials can also help you save money on construction costs. Here are some examples of commonly-used green building materials:

  • Recycled steel and wood
  • Reclaimed doors, windows and lumber
  • Plant-based polyurethane foam
  • Bamboo
  • Wool

While you might not see much difference on your own personal utility bill, using building supplies made from recycled or reclaimed materials can save money on construction costs. And you can also save a lot of energy and resources on a larger scale – at the community level and eventually global level. Plus, many reclaimed material just a nice aesthetic to your home.

Saving energy at home can be easy, and with a little creativity and investment you don’t necessarily have to make any radical changes to your lifestyle either. Pick one or two of these energy saving tactics and put them to use today.

9 Brilliant Tips To Save Energy In The Winter

When those winter months come, it can feel great to blast on the heating. That feeling of being cozy in your home while it’s freezing outside is something many people love about winter. That’s until you see your energy bill and realize all of that energy has come at a steep cost.

Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be that way. Here we look at 9 brilliant tips that are going to allow you to stay warm in your house while saving energy. This will be much better for the environment and also much better for your pocket.

1) Cozy clothing

We’re not suggesting that you have a coat, scarf, and gloves in your home. Rather you can wear jumpers, thicker pajamas and winter socks. This will allow you to be comfortable in your clothing while also giving you the ability to turn down your heating by a couple of degrees.

Also getting thicker duvets for bedtime and nice throws for snuggling up in front of the TV can help keep you warm without your boiler doing all the hard work. You always want to be comfortable in your home but sometimes that can be done without adjusting the heating.

2) A 21st century Christmas

The holiday is a wonderful time of the year and many people love putting up a vast array of Christmas lights. You don’t have to be a humbug and take them down; instead, you can do it all a little more efficiently.

In these modern times, you should be using LED bulbs for those lights. Many people are still using their old bulbs which are much less efficient, and also more unreliable. Also, put your lights on a timer so that they only come on when it gets dark and go off at bedtime.

3) Use a space heater

Do you only stay in one room during the day or evening? Heating just one room instead of them all could save you a huge amount on your energy bills.

To make the most of this you can turn off the heating in your home and switch on your space heater. This will prevent a huge amount of waste. This shouldn’t be confused with using a space heater on top of your heating as this would be more inefficient.

4) Maintain your humidifier and HVAC systems

Over time your air conditioning, heating, humidifier and energy systems will become less efficient. It’s always a great idea to service your systems such as a furnace humidifier, see if any parts need to be replaced and then enjoy their greater output.

A lot of energy can be lost by devices that are either outdated or in need of a service, with your boiler being a great example. It’s usually easy to check this yourself or call out a professional to do it for a small fee.

5) Seal any leaks

If there is a draft coming through your home, then you need to block it. One common area of concern is basements and sealing leaks will prevent the warm air of your home escaping outside.

Other areas such as doors could benefit from a draught excluder and if you have inefficient windows, using quilted curtains can prevent drafts. If you’re not sure where drafts are coming from, using an infrared thermometer can be a huge help.

6) Keep a stable temperature

Some people can fall into the trap of switching their heating on, getting too hot, switching it off and opening a window, then switching their heating back on when it gets cold. If you repeat this process, not only can you get uncomfortable, but it’s a huge waste.

The best solution is to get a thermostat that you can time. You need to know your ideal temperature and use this for when you’re at home. You will also be able to turn your heating off when you’re out of the house and down when you’re sleeping.

7) Use solar energy

There are many misconceptions about solar energy, with one of the biggest being that it only works in warm climates. The reality is that all they need is sunlight, even if it’s freezing outside. They also don’t need direct sunlight to be powered up.

If you live in a spot where you have the space and budget, then it doesn’t matter what the temperature is. While a solar panel won’t be as effective if there are fewer daylight hours, they can still provide a huge boost of clean energy in those cold winter months.

8) Avoid your tumble dryer

You can’t put your clothes outside to dry and therefore you put them in your tumble dryer, it makes sense. This they are brilliant for getting the job done quickly but use up a huge amount of energy in the process.

If your radiators are on, then you might as well use them. If you don’t need clothes to be immediately dried then they are only going to take a few hours in front of a radiator and you’ll save a lot of money.

9) Don’t block radiators

Okay, this is a direct contradiction to the point before but with clothing it is different. If you have a bed or other piece of furniture in front of a radiator, it will have a hugely negative impact on its ability to heat your room.

You need to allow the radiator to heat the air around it and then give enough space for that air to circulate. In terms of circulation, if you have a ceiling fan then it’s a good idea to put it on reverse and in its lowest setting. Hot air rises and a ceiling fan, when used like this, can push the hot air back down into the room.