Consumers today are more mindful about the environmental impact of everything they do, from driving and traveling to energy usage in their homes. Fortunately, there are a few simple steps homeowners can take to save energy and help the environment.
(BPT) - Consumers today are more mindful about the environmental impact of everything they do, from driving and traveling to energy usage in their homes. Fortunately, there are a few simple steps homeowners can take to save energy and help the environment.
1. Boost your insulation
You may already know what areas of your home are poorly insulated, simply by how you feel when it’s cold or hot outside. You can have a professional home energy audit conducted to help pinpoint areas that need improvement. Many energy companies provide an audit free of charge.
Start with the attic: If your attic is insufficiently insulated, you could be losing a lot of heat over the winter, which means your home is wasting energy — and money. The U.S. Department of Energy reports that boosting attic insulation can save 10-50 percent on heating costs.
2. Upgrade your heating and cooling system
Heating and cooling your home uses the most energy, so investing in Energy Star certified HVAC products can make a big difference when it comes to cutting energy costs and your home's impact on the environment.
For a new HVAC system in a variety of styles to fit any décor that can be easily installed by a contractor, you might consider wall-mounted duct-free systems from a trusted brand like LG. They offer a variety of ultra-quiet "Art Cool" options (the sleek Mirror, stylish Premier and unique Gallery, which looks like a picture frame and allows you to display your own artwork). These systems are smart-enabled, allowing homeowners to adjust the temperature from their LG ThinQ app for Android and iOS users, or with simple commands via Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa.
The most eco-conscious consumers will want to look for "Energy Star Most Efficient" HVAC solutions. For example, the Art Cool Mirror earned the 2019 designation and also features advanced "Reliable to Extreme Degrees" LGRED, heating technology that delivers 100 percent heating capacity down to 5 degrees Fahrenheit and continuous heating down to -13 degrees Fahrenheit. This will keep you warm and comfortable all winter long with remarkable energy efficiency.
3. Replace doors and windows
You may be losing a lot of heat in the winter and air conditioning in the summer through your doors and windows, especially if they're older. The latest energy-efficient models of windows and doors not only reduce leaks around the frames, but they're made from materials that enhance insulation.
Doors: According to EnergyStar.gov, energy-efficient doors not only fit better and have improved weather stripping to reduce air leakage, but also use improved core materials for superior insulation. Where glass is used, they reduce heat flow via double- or triple-paned insulating glass.
Windows: Energy Star qualified windows use superior framing materials, including multiple panes of glass, with air- or gas-filled space between for additional insulation. They're made from Low-E (low emissivity) glass, with special coatings to reflect infrared light. Warm edge spacers keep the glass panes the correct distance apart reducing heat transfer through the window.
4. Go solar
While most people are aware that solar power harnesses the sun’s energy to create electricity, many don't know how easy and cost-effective it is to go solar.
The newest technology behind solar energy has made it increasingly accessible and appealing for homeowners. For example, new energy solutions such as LG’s "NeON R ACe" are high-efficiency solar panels that incorporate a built-in micro-inverter (that converts DC electricity to AC) instead of a separate traditional inverter. Recessed into the frame of the solar module, the micro-inverter simplifies the installation process and allows more flexibility to create a solar array that looks attractive on your roof. When going solar, it’s important to seek out a brand you trust, one like LG that offers solar panels covered by a 25-year limited product, part and performance warranty.
Choosing just one area to upgrade will save energy, reducing your home's carbon footprint. You'll also feel more comfortable throughout the year, as you better regulate the temperature of your home.
A home is often a family’s single largest asset, so making investments with upgrades and home improvements is almost always a good idea. However, knowing when and where to make those improvements isn’t necessarily a simple decision. Budget and space most often dictate the direction, but keeping function and your lifestyle needs in mind can help create a space that makes for an all-around smart investment.
Home Upgrades that Make ‘Cents’
Improvements to boost your home’s value and enjoyment
(Family Features) A home is often a family’s single largest asset, so making investments with upgrades and home improvements is almost always a good idea. However, knowing when and where to make those improvements isn’t necessarily a simple decision. Budget and space most often dictate the direction, but keeping function and your lifestyle needs in mind can help create a space that makes for an all-around smart investment.
For expanded control over the amount of light and warmth that enters or leaves your rooms, solar-powered skylight blinds are available in more than 100 designer colors and patterns. Like the skylights, Velux solar-powered blinds are operated with the remote. The solar products and installation costs are also eligible for a 30-percent federal tax credit. Learn more at whyskylights.com.
Finish the basement.
A basement is the perfect location for expanded room to live and entertain, and if you have egress or other windows, adding extra bedrooms may also be an option. When making plans for finishing a basement, keep function first. Adding features like bathrooms can be costly if the plumbing isn’t already in place, but having ready access to those facilities may pay off if you plan to spend lots of time downstairs. Also keep climate in mind; in many parts of the country basements tend to be damp, so be sure to use materials that can withstand the conditions during the rainy season.
Create outdoor living space for all year long.
This is another area where climate will play an important role in your plans; adding a well-constructed enclosure to a patio can make it usable during all but the coldest months, while a pergola or other shading can lend necessary relief to an area that bakes in the summer sun. Aside from the hardscaping, look at other ways to soften your outdoor space and enhance livability, such as functional shade trees and flowering vegetation that attract birds and butterflies.
Add curb appeal.
Choose the Right Skylight
(BPT) - Home solar panels can drastically cut or even eliminate electricity bills, reduce a home’s carbon footprint, increase resale value, and may even help a home sell faster.
The cost of rooftop solar systems has fallen dramatically in recent years, and most homeowners have the option of buying the system, leasing it on reasonable payment terms, or having a third-party pay for and install the system at no up-front cost at all for the homeowner. Plus, home solar systems are eligible for federal tax credits.
All of this explains why the number of homeowners installing solar has sky-rocketed across America. Nevertheless, many homeowners remain skeptical about taking control of their energy use and installing solar. Why? The various myths that still persist around solar power could be the reason.
“Solar technology has been around for a long time, but even though it’s entered the mainstream, many homeowners are still skeptical,” says renewable energy expert Roger Ballentine, president of Green Strategies, a leading Washington-based consulting firm. “That’s because a number of myths persist, pointing to the need for better consumer education about the benefits of home solar installations.”
Ballentine points to private and government studies providing real information that debunks the myths surrounding solar power. For example, research by the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory found solar panels help homes sell faster and for more money than those without solar.
If you’re considering installing a solar panel system on your home, here are five common myths — and why you shouldn’t believe them:
Myth 1: Solar panels only work if you live in a warm, sunny climate.
While solar panels work best when they get a lot of sun, a lack of bright sun doesn’t mean they’re not working. Panels can still absorb ambient sunlight, even on cloudy days or in regions that get less bright sun. What’s more, today’s solar panels are more energy efficient than ever. Newer systems like the “LG NeOn R” maximize sunlight absorption and generate the maximum possible output — as much as 26 percent more than other comparably sized solar panels. This higher efficiency means that solar panels can work in virtually any climate and every season.
Myth 2: You need a lot of roof space for solar panels.
Just like other amazing technologies (think microchips), solar panels are getting smaller, more powerful and more efficient. High-efficiency panels take up less space because fewer panels are required to produce the electricity needed to power your home. So even a smaller home could have enough roof space to fit the number of panels needed to generate the necessary power and save you money.
Myth 3: Installation is a long, drawn-out hassle.
While adding solar panels to your home isn’t a DIY project, installation usually takes only a day or two. New models streamline the process further, eliminating the need to install a separate inverter. Most solar panels require a separate inverter to bring electricity into your house, but new panels from LG, for instance, incorporate the inverter, simplifying and accelerating the installation process.
Myth 4: If something goes wrong, you’re on your own.
As with any major investment in your home, you should make sure you understand the manufacturer and installer warranties for your solar panels, including how long the coverage lasts and what types of problems are covered. One leading solar player, LG, even offers an industry-leading, 25-year product and power warranty. And unlike a furnace or an air conditioning system, a solar installation has no moving parts to wear out and typically requires little maintenance and repair.
Myth 5: Solar panels will look big, bulky and ugly on your roof.
Solar panels are becoming smaller, sleeker and more aesthetically pleasing. Higher-efficiency models are also offering increased flexibility of configuration. Instead of having to cover an entire roof with panels in a specific arrangement in order to generate power, modern options allow you to arrange panels to meet your sense of aesthetics.
Adding solar power to a home offers homeowners many benefits, from reducing energy costs, to increasing the value of your home and helping the environment, Ballentine says. “Overall, it’s a decision most homeowners feel positively about once they’ve made it.” The NREL notes in its study: “Buyers of homes with (solar panel) systems are more satisfied than are comparison buyers. A significantly higher percentage ... indicate they would buy the same houses again.”
Jennifer Franz, an energy efficiency expert at Lennox, a home heating and cooling manufacturer, says homeowners need to take a close look at how they heat and cool their homes if they truly want to make a substantial dent in their energy bills.
(BPT) - With temperatures - and therefore, electric bills - on the rise, American homeowners are looking for the most effective ways to make the biggest dent in their energy bills; however, many may be overlooking some of the most important energy-saving strategies.
Homeowners are more likely to do simple things around the house to conserve energy, according to the Lennox Home Energy Report Card Survey. Those simple things may include changing air filters in a heating and cooling system on a regular basis, unplugging electronics when not in use and turning down the temperature setting on a hot water heater.
While these activities can certainly help save energy and money, Jennifer Franz, an energy efficiency expert at Lennox, a home heating and cooling manufacturer, says homeowners need to take a close look at how they heat and cool their homes if they truly want to make a substantial dent in their energy bills.
"More than half of a home's energy costs comes from heating and cooling the house," says Franz. "If you can heat or cool your home more efficiently, then you'll be well on your way to seeing lower energy bills."
The first step is to have a professional evaluate the age, performance and efficiency of your heating and cooling system. The Lennox survey found that only slightly more than half of homeowners (51 percent) had taken the proactive step of replacing an old, inefficient heating and cooling system with a new, energy-efficient model, yet doing so can dramatically help conserve energy and reduce utility bills.
Franz says if the air conditioning system is more than 10 years old or the furnace is more than 15 years old - the average life spans of cooling and heating equipment - then it's time to consider replacing the aging unit with a new high efficiency system.
Significant advances in energy-efficient technologies have enabled homeowners to save hundreds of dollars a year on their energy bills. One example is the Lennox SunSource Home Energy System - a solar-powered central heating and cooling system - that uses energy from the sun, collected from roof-mounted solar modules, to reduce the electricity consumed by a high-efficiency heat pump or air conditioner.
When the SunSource heating and cooling system is not in use, the solar energy can operate other appliances and electronics. Any excess energy that's not needed is sent back to the utility company, possibly entitling the homeowner to a credit on their utility bill.
Other energy-efficient ways to cool and heat a home
In addition to replacing an old heating and cooling system, Franz says there are a number of other ways to make heating and cooling your home more efficient. She offers the following energy-saving tips:
* Seal cracks around windows and doors with caulk or weather stripping to prevent indoor air from escaping.
* Keep blinds, shades and curtains closed during the day in the summer to block sunlight from entering the home, but open them up in the winter to naturally warm the house.
* Install a smart thermostat, which can be controlled via an app from anywhere at any time, to adjust the temperature based on when residents are at home or away.
* Add extra insulation to the attic, which will help prevent your home's heating and cooling system from having to work harder to regulate the indoor temperature.
For more energy-saving tips, visit www.lennox.com.
When it comes to remodeling, there are dozens of ways to improve your home’s overall value and appeal without breaking the bank. Opt for projects such as these that are manageable in scale, affordable and deliver benefits in multiple ways, such as aesthetics and energy efficiency.
Small-Scale Home Upgrades with a Big Impact
(Family Features) When it comes to remodeling, there are dozens of ways to improve your home’s overall value and appeal without breaking the bank. Opt for projects that are manageable in scale, affordable and deliver benefits in multiple ways, such as aesthetics and energy efficiency.
Ditch uninviting doors
Take a fresh approach to lighting
Give your lighting and home value a boost with an Energy Star-qualified option such as Velux solar-powered fresh-air skylights, which let you adjust natural light and air flow, reducing dependence on artificial lights and fans, with the touch of a programmable remote control. For expanded control over the amount of light and warmth that enters or leaves your rooms, solar-powered skylight blinds are available in designer colors and patterns. Like the skylights, Velux solar-powered blinds are operated with the remote. The solar products and installation costs are also eligible for a 30-percent federal tax credit. Learn more at whyskylights.com.
Expand livable space outdoors
Whether you’re looking to make improvements for your own enjoyment or seeking ways to enhance your home’s appeal to potential buyers, there are simple but effective options that allow you to make a meager investment for a great impression.
Interested in Publishing on The Home Idea?
Send your query to the Publisher today!