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 Real Estate Blog 
Wednesday, January 04 2012

Washing clothes by hand and hanging them to dry is the most energy-saving approach to laundry in terms of electricity. But let’s get real. Most of us don’t have the personal energy to hand-wash and air-dry all of our clothes!

You most likely spend hundreds of dollars per year on electricity to wash and dry your clothes, but it’s easy to save electricity in your laundry room with some simple tricks. In addition, you’ll also make your clothes last longer.

Wash Right

  • Use cold water. Did you know that about 90% of the electricity consumed by your washing machine is used simply to heat water? Given that, you can save a lot of electricity by washing your clothes in cold water. This also keeps colors bright, reduces wrinkling and won’t set stains.


  • Although you may find that regular detergent is sufficient, try out cold-water detergents that are specifically formulated to work in cooler temperatures.


  • Run a full load. The machine will use the same amount of mechanical energy, regardless of how full it is. If you don't run a full load, be sure to set the water level for the amount of laundry you are running.


  • Use energy-saving settings. Avoid the excessively hot “sanitary cycle,” but do choose the “high spin” option to cut down on drying time. And don’t wash for longer than you need to – some loads only need 10 minutes of washing.


  • Set your water heater to 120 degrees F (instead of the usual 140 F) so you can save energy even when washing clothes in hot or warm water.


    Get Smart about Drying

  • Sort similar fabrics together, starting with a load of fast-drying fabrics, and do back-to-back loads to take advantage of residual heat.


  • Clean the lint filter after each dryer load to improve air circulation and cut down on drying time.

  • Use energy-saving settings. Select low temperature for delicates and medium for most clothes. Choose auto-dry instead of timed-dry to prevent over-drying, which causes shrinkage and static electricity and generally wears clothes out.


  • Get a drying rack for “almost-dry” clothes, delicates and silks. Fabrics like wool should be laid flat to dry.


  • Throw in a clean, dry towel or tennis ball to dry clothes quicker. The towel absorbs moisture, while the tennis ball helps circulate air between clothes.



  • Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 08:00 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
    Tuesday, September 06 2011
    Address the energy efficiency issues weighing down your utility bills, with help from an energy audit.

    Homes are supposed to breathe. But some inhale excessively from the outdoors and exhale too much from inside. The result: Drafty rooms, high utility bills, dirty and leaky ducts, and a bigger-than-necessary carbon footprint. If you think your home could be more energy efficient but aren’t sure where its leaks live, an energy audit can diagnose your energy issues and help you decide which to tackle.

    Audits identify a mixture of major and minor air leaks. So if you’re budget-minded, you might opt for inexpensive fixes like adding caulk or insulation at leak points and installing weather-stripping. If you’re embarking on a remodel, you can make bigger investments, such as adding insulation.

    The question is whether to hire a pro or conduct a free do-it-yourself audit guided by online tips. There are pros and cons to either approach.

    Paying for a pro

    Professional audits aren’t cheap: They run from $150 (visual) to $400-$600 or more (diagnostic). But the information they reveal can help you make targeted repairs that lower energy bills by 5% to 30% annually, according to the U.S. Department of Energy’s office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. With energy bills averaging about $2,200 annually, according to Energy Star, following an auditor’s recommendations could save you up to $660 within a year.

    Paying for an audit may not make sense if you have a newly-constructed home, which likely follows the most up-to-date building codes. Energy audits should also take a back seat to urgent home issues that compromise safety, such as old or faulty electrical or structural issues, like roof or foundation problems. So if you own a fixer-upper, it’s worth addressing safety issues before optimizing energy issues.

    DIY audits

    A do-it-yourself audit may help you make an educated guess about how airtight your home is—or isn’t—and point you toward fixes. A typical DIY test: Hold up a lit candle to windows, doors, and electrical outlets to see if a draft blows the flame.

    But be aware that when you fix a problem you uncover yourself, you could err. For instance, you might pay for new windows when you need to insulate existing window frames instead. You could also over-seal your home, creating indoor air quality issues (dirty air, mold) that compromise your health.

    Services of a professional audit

    Pro audits give you access to high-tech tools that pinpoint the exact location of duct leaks; exactly how airtight your home is (and should be according to local code); gas leaks; and which direction drafts are blowing. Draft direction can alert an auditor that your attic is greedily sucking up your warm air, for instance. They also ferret out drafts between insulated and less-insulated (garage, basement/crawlspace, attic) portions of a home and assess the performance of heating and cooling systems.

    Two types of professional audit

    A visual inspection (like a home inspection, but focused narrowly on energy issues) might be sufficient if you have semi-finished or exposed spaces (unfinished basements, exposed ducts, crawlspaces, and attics). A diagnostic inspection includes visual work, but also employs tools and devices to pinpoint air leaks.

    • Blower door tests use high-powered fans to depressurize a home so that a technician can measure draft levels.
    • Thermal or infrared scanning measures surface temperature variations along walls to spot exact locations of air leaks or insulation lapses.
    • Smoke puffers release a form of “dust” during a blower door test to reveal the direction drafts are blowing.
    • Duct blasters inject and measure air pressure, air flow, and leakage in ducts.
    • Gas leak detection devices help assess indoor air quality.

    These technologies provide far more specific information about a home’s issues than a typical DIY audit.

    Common energy issues

    A technician should be able to tell you how much total air leakage exists in your home (10 sq. ft. is like having a door open all the time), where it comes from, and how best to address it, says Robert Stockmann, of Pinnacle Home Inspections in Bellingham, Wash. The most common issues he finds are:

    • Ducts in uninsulated areas (crawlspaces, attics, unfinished basements), which need cleaning, insulation, re-sealing
    • Moisture in crawl spaces and basements
    • Air that’s entering or exiting the home via range hoods, attic trap doors, and poorly sealed doors

    Hire an auditor, smartly

    Energy audit is a loose term these days, so when hiring an auditor, ask questions. Make sure the auditor doesn’t work for a window company; has a professional affiliation with or training from an auditing organization such as RESNET or the Building Performance Institute; and can provide a written report. If you need diagnostic advice, ask if the auditor can use tools that assess what’s going on behind walls and inside ducts. Your local utility company may offer audits or be able to recommend auditors.

    Because an audit is a precursor to further spending for repairs, if your DIY audit indicates you need extensive, expensive, or hard-to-do repairs, consider a paid audit as a kind of second opinion. Likewise, any paid audit that indicates you need only minor fixes may seem unnecessary—but if you consider that small fixes may keep you from overspending on major ones, the money may be worth it.

    Jane Hodges has written about real estate for publications including, Seattle Magazine, and The Seattle Times. In 2007, she won a Bivins Fellowship from the National Association of Real Estate Editors to pursue a book on women and real estate. Her work has also appeared in The New York Times, CBS’s BNET, and Fortune. She lives in Seattle in a 1966 raised rancher with an excellent retro granite fireplace. Latest home project: Remodeling a basement bathroom.

    Read more:
    Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 08:00 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
    Wednesday, March 02 2011

    The phrase “home energy efficiency” causes most of us to immediately think about triple-paned windows and Energy Star appliances. Important energy savers, to be sure. However, as one energy efficiency expert counsels, not all changes have to be big or expensive to make a difference. Many of the small choices we make every day can impact our energy usage as well.

    Daniel Lanzilotta, owner of The Mindful Chef and an executive chef/chef educator, offers these simple tips to ensure your kitchen is energy efficient.

    Refrigerator tips:

    • Check your seal. One of the most important factors in determining your refrigerator’s energy efficiency is the quality of its seal. Check the seal regularly to ensure it is not dried out and is still sealing properly. If it’s not, replace it. This inexpensive repair can make a big difference in your refrigerator’s efficiency.
    • Stop refrigerator gazing. We’re all guilty of standing mindlessly in front of the open refrigerator door, pondering what we should eat. Not only can this habit lead to poor choices, it also increases our utility bill as well. According to Lanzilotta, this represents one of the basic laws of thermo-dynamics—heat is attracted to cold—and gazing at an open refrigerator causes the hot air to rush in, raising the internal temperature of the appliance.
    • Allow food to cool. When you place hot leftovers directly into your refrigerator, you are forcing your appliance to work harder than necessary to cool your food and, in turn, the interior of the unit. By allowing your food to begin to cool naturally before placing it in the fridge, you’re increasing your efficiency and saving money and energy.

    Sink and dishwasher tips:

    • Be mindful of water waste. By being aware and conservative when using water at the sink you can dramatically reduce your water waste. Run water only when necessary and only use hot water when absolutely needed.
    • Wait until your dishwasher is full. Many people are guilty of running a dishwasher half-empty. Lanzilotta urges people to wait until the unit is full before running. Also, check your settings to make sure you are only utilizing the features that are necessary.
    • Take care of your hot water heater. Perhaps the most important kitchen-efficiency change you can make is not even found in the kitchen. Check your hot water heater’s setting and insulate pipes to prevent heat loss.

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    Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 08:00 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
    Friday, July 30 2010


    A federal program that lets homeowners finance energy improvements and pay back the money via the tax assessment system leaves homeowners vulnerable to fraud and lending abuse, the trade group for title insurers says.

    The American Land Title Association says federal authorities need to resolve issues with the Property Assessed Clean Energy program to prevent the program’s potential risks from delaying or cancelling real estate transactions.

    “We recognize the value in lowering energy costs for consumers, creating jobs for the economy and reducing buildings’ carbon footprint for the environment,” said Kurt Pfotenhauer, chief executive officer of the American Land Title Association. “However, guidance is needed in resolving uncertainty surrounding these programs.”

    ALTA sent a letter to the Federal Housing Finance Agency questioning how a PACE lien is created, how it’s administered, and how local jurisdictions will record the payoff of PACE loans. ALTA is concerned consumers in the PACE program are not getting Good Faith Estimates and HUD-1 Settlement Statements. Lenders, meanwhile, have questions about which liens get paid if the homeowner goes into default on the mortgage, the PACE loan, or both.

    “This information allows consumers and lenders to make an informed decision about purchasing a property or providing mortgage financing,” Pfotenhauer said. “This uncertainty increases the potential of impeding or preventing real estate transactions.”

    ALTA also questioned whether PACE liens must be recorded in the local public records and how ownership of the property is determined. “Without establishing standards for determining title to property, PACE loans run the risk of significant losses due to fraud,” Pfotenhauer said. “In addition to harming PACE participants, it also damages local property records, and results in increased costs of underwriting, claims, escrow services and compliance for the land title industry.”

    Source: ALTA

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    Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 08:00 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
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