Energy Efficient Roofing

Hot roofs absorb heat, causing air conditioner systems to work harder to cool during the warmer months of the year.

A cool roof uses material that is designed to reflect more sunlight and absorb less heat than a standard roof. Cool roofs can be made of a highly reflective type of paint, a sheet covering, or highly reflective tiles or shingles. Cool Roofs can lower the temperature of your roof by up to 50 degrees, which will reduce cooling costs.

 

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Efficient Windows Can Save Energy = Money

In most structures, windows account for 10 to 25 percent of the total heating bill by allowing hot or cold are to enter. During the summer months, HVAC systems work harder to cool hot air from sun exposed windows. Best to replace inefficient windows with double-pane or low-emissivity coated models, which can reduce energy loss by anywhere from 30 to 50 percent.

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Spring Clean to Promote Energy Efficiency

  • Clean Refrigerator Coils – Coils can collect dust, making them less efficient for cooling. refrigerator-coilsBe sure to clean coils two times per year to eliminate buildup and reduce energy use by up to 6%.

 

 

 

  • Clean Ventilation – Air conditioning vents and dirty air filters should be cleaned and/or ac ventsreplaced regularly.  Changing filters can reduce HVAC energy use and electricity costs from 5 to 15%.

 

 

 

  • Inspect Vent Hoods – Check vent hoods for need of cleaning or filter replacements. 
    Energy Star certified ventilation fans can use 60% less energy than standard models.

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How to Use Composting Worms

Did you know that the majority of organic waste can be recycled by worms? A worm composting system can convert over 70% of your home waste into beneficial compost.

How to make a worm composting bin

To make a worm composter, you’ll need:

  • A short, wide plastic bin
  • A drill
  • Sand/gravel
  • Damp, shredded newspaper or straw (for bedding material)
  • Compost worms. You need 1,000 to 2,000

Step one: First you need to drill a holes in the bottom and top of the bin.

Step two: Put up to 10cm of gravel (or sand) in the base of the bin..

Step three: Next, add some of the bedding material (Newspaper or straw).

Step four: Put the worms in a space in the bedding material and add some more bedding on top.

What next?

You can keep the worm composting bin outside but if the temperature drops below 40ºFahrenheit, you’ll need to bring the bin inside. You can keep it in a shed or garage, for example.

Worms can eat foods such as:

  • Used coffee grounds and tea bags
  • Fruit and veg, and their peelings (Not cooked potatoes)
  • Cereal
  • Bread
  • Leaves
  • Horse/cow manure
  • Egg shells

They can’t eat foods such as:

  • Meat
  • Fish
  • Oily foods
  • Dairy
  • Rice/pasta
  • Grass
  • Potatoes
  • Cat/dog faeces

You need to distribute the food within the worm bedding. Feed the worms gradually at first. Don’t add more food waste until the previous food has almost all gone. You may need to experiment with the number of worms if you are generating a lot of food waste.

As the bin generates new worms, you’ll be able to add more food.

After around 10 weeks, you’ll be able to remove the finished compost and add it to your garden. Firstly, shift the finished compost to one side of the bin and on the other side where the new space is, add fresh bedding and food waste. Once the worms move over to the clean bedding, you’ll be able to harvest the finished compost.

Worm Composting Issues

Here are some common problems experienced by worm composters and how to avoid or rectify them.

Bin smells

If the bin smells, it may be that there is not enough air, so try adding more air holes. It may also be that there is too much food so ensure that the food is being eaten before you add more. This problem can also be caused by the mixture being too wet so try adding more bedding that is damp (not wet).

Fruit flies

Fruit flies aren’t dangerous but they are a nuisance. This problem is mainly caused by the food being exposed. Make sure that when you add food, you bury it well in the bedding.

Dying worms

If the worms are dying, check that the bedding is not too wet or dry. Also, make sure that there is enough bedding. If there is no bedding, you need to harvest the compost and add fresh bedding.

Ready-made worm composting bins are readily available in a variety of sizes and indoor/outdoor applications.

 

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Filed under Composting, Food Waste, Healthy Living

Water Saving Tips

 

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Fix leaks.  The most common fixture that leaks is the toilet flapper.  Checking for leaks should be part of your overall maintenance plan and should be done on a regular basis. Perform a water audit. Take a look at your water meter when no one is likely to be using water.  If the meter is moving, you have a leak.

Install water-saving devices. Can you transform your single flush toilets to dual flush with a kit?  How about installing a Smart Faucet in every bathroom?  The EPA has rolled a complete line of water saving fixtures under its WaterSense label, however, but these are merely minimums.  Individuals should go beyond the minimum by installing 1.5 gallons per minute (gpm) shower heads when the WaterSense minimum allows shower heads with flow rates of 2.5gpm.  Rebates may also be available from your local utility to promote the installation of new high efficiency toilets that utilize 1.28 gallons per flush or better.

Upgrade to water saving appliances. Old dishwashers and top-loading washing machines are incredible inefficient, utilizing as much as 25 gallons per load of dishes and 35 gallons of water per load of laundry.  New high-efficiency models utilize a fraction of the water. Dishwashers in the two gallon range are very effective and front-loading washing machines use about a third of the water of what top-loaders use and rebates may be available.  The less water an appliance uses, the less electricity and natural gas that will be needed to heat that water.

Rethink landscaping. Plant what’s appropriate for your region and you will reduce water consumption, increase habitat for native species and raise the value of your property.  Re-landscaping is a big expense, but you are paying to water and maintain plants every year, year and year out, when you could be pocketing the money you currently budget for water.

 

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Remember Earth Hour March 29th, 2014

On 8:30pm, Saturday 29th March, the WWF are encouraging everyone to switch their lights off for 1 hour to help recognize the increasing problem of climate change.  It is widely accepted that climate change is causing the ice caps to melt and seas to warm, threatening ecosystems and coastal areas around the world. This is also causing related effects in other places as rising temperatures are causing increased droughts , threatening the most vulnerable animals and people worldwide.For just 1 hour, 8:30pm, Saturday, March 29th, many landmarks and cities throughout the world are showing their support for Earth Hour and recognizing the danger of climate change by switching the lights off during this time. To find out how you can participate, go to http://www.earthhour.org/TakeAction.aspx.

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Which Caulk Works Best?

The prep for caulking and sealing small repairs like windows and doors is usually pretty minimal. The surface needs to be clean and dry and it is best if the temperature is at least 55.  Rain should not be in the immediate forecast as the caulk needs to cure properly.  Using the right material for Window-Caulkingthe job, however, is critical. Price is not really an issue, as most of the caulking materials are inexpensive, but there are some ease-of-use issues. The water-based spray foam is probably the easiest for a novice to use around windows and doors and the clean up is pretty easy.  Look for low or no-VOC products that carry the Greenguard label to maintain good indoor air quality.

Here is a chart from Consumers Reports that outlines several products and their best uses:

Type of Caulk Best Use(s) Pros Cons Price
Acrylic tub and tile To seal kitchen and bathroom fixtures. Flexible; mildew resistant; cleans up with water. Not paintable; not as durable as 100% silicone. $4 and up per tube
Butyl rubber To seal and fill around windows and skylights and around flashings and in gutters to seal dissimilar materials (glass, metal, plastic, wood, and concrete). More flexible (can stretch in multiple directions) than silicone. Good in areas that experience high temperature variations. Formulations with with asphalt are best for roofing repairs. More flexible (can stretch in multiple directions) than silicone; can be painted after curing one week. Good in areas that experience high temperature variations. Formulations with asphalt are best for roofing repairs. Does not adhere well to painted surfaces; shrinkage varies; might require two applications. Can be toxic; precautions must be taken and requires solvent cleanup. $3.50 and up per tube
Concrete and mortar repair To repair cracks in concrete and damaged masonry and mortar. Can be shaped to fit before drying; remains flexible, cleans up with water, dries to color of concrete mortar or can be painted. Not recommended for horizontal surfaces where water could accumulate. $4.50 and up per tube
Latex To seal gaps in exterior walls and plug holes and fill gaps in interior walls and woodwork before painting. Inexpensive; takes paint well;, can be sanded; easy to work with; cleans up with water. Will crack eventually where temperatures vary greatly (acrylic latex formulations are more durable); needs to be painted when used outdoors; won’t adhere to metal. $1.50 and up per tube
Oil or resin-based To seal gaps in exterior walls. Inexpensive; will bond to most surfaces. Cracks after a few years; much less durable than elastomeric (silicone, latex, or acrylic) caulks. $1 and up per tube
100% silicone To fill around pipes and vents and building structures made of nonporous materials and plumbing fixtures. Not as effective on wood or masonry. Very durable and flexible; doesn’t crack. Expensive; limited colors; can’t be painted or sanded, gives off strong odor when curing; solvent required for cleanup. $4.50 and up per tube
Siliconized latex Same uses as 100% silicone, except not on plumbing fixtures. Very durable and flexible; rarely cracks, many colors available; cleans up with water; less expensive than 100% silicone. Can’t be sanded. $3.50 and up per tube
Spray foam (polyurethane-based) To seal around window and door frames or to fill cracks and holes. Expands more than latex and fills a greater area than caulking alone. Expands after application, so it can warp door and window frames; can’t resist UV light; must be painted for exterior use; very difficult to clean up after use. $5.40 and up per can (but one can fills as much space as many tubes of caulking)
Spray foam (water-based) Around window and door frames or to fill cracks and holes. Does not expand as much as polyurethane foam; can be shaped while wet; easy cleanup with water; will not cause windows or doors to bind. Does not adhere as tightly to materials as urethane; takes longer to cure (up to 24 hours). $5 and up per can (but one can can fill as much space as many tubes of caulking)

Chart Courtesy of Consumer Reports.

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