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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 MSNBC.com, 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: http://www.houselogic.com/articles/professional-energy-audits-the-costs-and-benefits/#ixzz1VlvZ1kK2
    Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 08:00 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
    Friday, June 10 2011

    Consumer Reports’ latest ratings of 39 room air conditioners have found over a dozen top performers that will keep consumers cool as temperatures rise, without burning a hole in their wallets.

    Of the small, midsized, and large air conditioners that made Consumer Reports’ Recommended list, many are priced at or below $300, including the small-sized Kenmore 70051, which starts at just $150. The full report on air conditioners appears in the July issue of the magazine.

    “Our tests found several window air conditioners that really deliver more cooling for the money,” said Bob Markovich, home and yard editor at Consumer Reports. “However, when buying an A/C, it’s not all about cooling capacity or energy consumption. Noise and ease of use are also important and our ratings recognize that.”

    Lower prices help make small room air conditioners the hottest sellers, but Consumer Reports also looked for models with superb cooling, quiet running, and a high energy-efficiency ratio. Then, testers dropped the voltage, as utilities often do during a heat wave, to mimic brownout conditions in order to separate the so-so models from the true standouts. The Friedrich Kuhl SS08M10 is one such standout in the midsized model category and is even available in seven color options such as Pink Diamond and Cobalt Blue, but those options come with a hefty price tag starting at $800.

    What shoppers need to know

    • More isn’t necessarily better. An air conditioner that’s too powerful for its space will cool quickly without removing enough humidity.
    • Check the airflow. Most units are better at directing air to the left or right. Determine which way the air will blow (facing the unit) from where the air conditioner is mounted.
    • Look for convenient controls. All of Consumer Reports’ top picks have a remote control and digital temperature readouts instead of vague settings labeled “cold” and “coldest.”
    • Cash in on energy savings. The 14 recommended models all meet federal Energy Star standards and typically have an energy-saver mode.

    Source: Consumer Reports



    Read more: http://www.houselogic.com/news/articles/cool-deals-energy-efficient-air-conditioners/#ixzz1OhTzhokp
    Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 08:00 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
    Saturday, February 26 2011

    Advanced programmable thermostats give you precise control over your heating and cooling, helping to reduce wasted energy.


    It’s no secret that heating and cooling account for the bulk of a home’s energy usage—an average of over $1,000 annually. Switching from a manual to a programmable thermostat is one simple way to save as much as $180 a year.

    The most basic programmable thermostat can be self-installed in an hour, and comes with preset temperature settings for different times of the day.

    Some of the latest models offer greater control, easy programming, sophisticated displays, and even communication with you via the Internet. Here is a look at some of these smart units.

    High-def, high-tech settings

    You wouldn’t think of spending much time in front of your thermostat, but the newest advanced models—with their colorful touchscreen displays—are an engaging, interactive experience. They offer separate programs for each day of the week, and can even alert you if service is required.

    With its high-definition screen display, Honeywell’s Prestige Comfort System resembles a mini-computer more than a traditional thermostat.

    In addition to indoor temperature, the Prestige’s graphical user interface can display outdoor conditions and humidity with an add-on sensor. An onscreen wizard interviews you about your usage based on simple questions, and then sets a program accordingly. A portable controller lets you adjust settings from any room in the house.

    The Prestige is priced from $250 and up.

    If you can live without a fancy display, an advanced programmable thermostat from HAI costs around $300 to $400, while a simpler seven-day programmable model from Hunter costs $99.

    Control from afar

    What if you’re on your way to a long vacation, and you suddenly realized you’d forgotten to turn down your home’s thermostat?

    If your home is equipped with the Smart Thermostat from ecobee, you can tap into the system through a personalized web portal anywhere there’s Internet access. Log in to check on your HVAC’s performance and make adjustments on the fly. The unit sells for $469.

    Manage your home’s HVAC via a home automation app from Control 4. The sophisticated system allows you to change thermostat settings from your smartphone, pad, and PC. In addition, you can control the lighting, music, window treatment motors, and a wide range of Control 4 devices.

    Know the price before you turn it on

    Pilot programs for installing smart thermostats that display “time of use” pricing information are underway in regions like Florida and California. These thermostats receive a wireless signal from the utility company, and adjust the temperature according to the price of electricity during different times of the day.

    With costs for air conditioning at about 70 cents to $1.20 per hour, reducing AC usage only an hour per day would yield a savings of $65 to $110 over the course of a summer.

    Check with your utility company to find out if such a program is available in your area.

    A writer covering the latest technologies and trends for a variety of national publications, Les Shu is currently automating his home with the newest doodads to make it smarter than he is.



    Read more: http://www.houselogic.com/articles/no-sweat-programmable-thermostats-save-energy-costs/#ixzz1EzbPBopl
    Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 08:00 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
    Friday, January 14 2011

    Reporting from the 2011 International Builders Show, Erica Christoffer for HouseLogic

    What do home buyers want today and in the future? The answer: smaller, more energy-efficient homes.

    The average size of a new single-family home in 2010 was 2,377 sq. ft., down from 2,438 sq. ft. in 2009 and down from the peak of 2,520 sq. ft. in 2007 and 2008, according to U.S. Census Bureau data presented yesterday at the International Builders’ Show in Orlando by Rose Quint, assistant vice president of survey research for NAHB.

    And the trend will only continue, Quint said, with the 2015 new home size currently projected at 2,150 sq. ft. with fewer bathrooms and smaller garages.

    It’s hard to say whether home sizes will decline to 1970 levels of 1,500 square feet. But Quint says she believes smaller sizes are here to stay based on demographics. The U.S. population was 310 million as of April 2010. That’s expected to rise to 322 million in 2015 and up to 422 million by 2050. The population is also getting older and more diverse. In 2010, 25% were over the age of 55, which is expected to grow to 31% by 3050.

    This rising segment of older home owners who won’t want to care for a huge space, Quint said, and then you have Generation Y buyers who are very energy conscious. “People are coming to realize, ‘Let’s buy what we need,’” said Quint.

    The Census Bureau data matches NAHB’s findings that builders expect to build smaller homes with more green features in the next five years. Low-energy windows, water-efficient features, engineered-wood beams, joints, or trusses, and Energy-Star ratings for whole home are expected to be more prevalent.

    Builders also expect an increase in living room size as well as more planning for universal design features with homes more easily adaptable for future improvements.

    Jill Waage, executive editor with Better Homes and Gardens, also presented her magazine’s 2011 consumer preferences survey, which was taken the first week of December. According to Waage, the top three improvement priorities home owners want were a laundry room, additional storage, and a home office.

    “The connection to outdoor living space is also really important,” Waage says.

    Other trends included in the Better Homes and Gardens study: built-ins, media space for flat screen TVs and gaming systems, and areas wired for technology. Buyers also want combined kitchen, family room, and living room open space. Universal design features, she said, will be incorporated in much more subtle ways.



    Read more: http://www.houselogic.com/news/articles/homes-are-getting-smaller-more-energy-efficient/#ixzz1B1aOTnWN
    Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 09:41 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
    Thursday, August 27 2009

    A bill that helps home buyers afford energy improvements and encourages banks to offer a discount on loans to pay for reducing energy usage passed the U.S. House in June and could pass the Senate in the fall.

    The American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 requires Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to offer discounts on mortgages that include extra cash for making a home more energy efficient.

    These discounts, which are already in effect at some lenders like J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. and Bank of America, include savings on closing costs for homes that have Energy Star appliances.

    The Federal Housing Administration is offering a plan through its approved lenders that allows borrowers to add the cost of making efficiency improvements into the mortgage, but the extra money doesn’t count toward determining how much loan a borrower can qualify for. For instance, a borrower who adds $5,000 to a $100,000 loan to afford new Energy Star appliances would only have to qualify for $100,000 – not $105,000.

    Source: The Wall Street Journal (08/24/2009)

    Source: http://www.realtor.org/RMODaily.nsf/pages/News2009082404?OpenDocument

    Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 09:00 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
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    The Trentini Team
    F.C. Tucker EMGE REALTORS®
    7820 Eagle Crest Bvd., Suite 200
    Evansville, IN 47715
    Office: (812) 479-0801
    Cell: (812) 499-9234
    Email: Rolando@RolandoTrentini.com


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