Energy Efficiency Home

Types of Energy Efficient Lighting for the Home

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Incandescent lighting is quickly going the way of the dodo, and rightly so. Today, there are far more efficient alternatives that put the antiquated designs of their counterparts to shame. Here are some of the most energy efficient types of home lighting.

LED (Light Emitting Diode) Bulbs

These are designed to last tens of thousands of hours, and are the most energy efficient compared to other bulbs. However, if you’re thinking of lighting every room at home with LEDs, be prepared to shell out hundreds of dollars. LED bulbs typically retail for $3 to $20 (or more) depending on the quality and wattage. They also weigh considerably more, so ensure that any sockets can accommodate the extra heft.

CFL (Compact Fluorescent) Bulbs

You probably already have these installed in your home in some capacity — they’re cheap, easily obtainable bulbs that reduce your carbon footprint without sacrificing brightness, much like LED bulbs. Many people refrain from using CFL bulbs as, like all fluorescent lighting, these little guys contain trace amounts of mercury (usually 3 to 5 milligrams). Direct exposure for prolonged periods can cause brain, lung, and even kidney damage. It is recommended that CFL lighting be installed so that home inhabitants never get closer than 30cm to it at any time. If you’re looking to conserve energy without having to shell out hundreds of dollars on LED lighting, these are a viable and safe option so long as you follow the appropriate safety guidelines.

LED Strip Lighting

For those nooks and crannies, this is a highly efficient alternative. On top of this, you’d be hard-pressed to find a lighting setup easier to install (think Lego with screws). A great way to conserve energy is by installing LED strip lighting under handrails and photo luminescent non-slip tape for step edges in stairwells. Another strategy is to paint walls white, which will brighten any room further regardless of the time of day. By combining these techniques and gauging the lighting requirements of spaces at home, LED strip lighting can be very beneficial.

Solar Lighting

People won’t be stopping to admire your roses at 9pm, so don’t fret over turning your yard and exterior into a glimmering fairy-tale wonderland unless if you fancy a higher energy bill. This is where solar lighting comes into play. Minimalistic path lighting utilizing solar-powered garden lamps is the best way to go. Depending on sun exposure, solar-powered outdoor sconces might also be applicable. A CFL or LED bulb here and there won’t hurt, but it makes sense to be as minimalistic as possible in regards to exterior lighting that feeds off the electric grid.

Lighting your home in an energy efficient manner has never been easier or more affordable. Be sure to plan your lighting setup accordingly, as some spaces might not need as powerful or expensive of bulbs as others. With the right strategy, you can easily reduce your carbon footprint and expenditures.

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How a Good Quality Roof Can Boost Energy Efficiency

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With increasing planetary climate issues and ever-rising energy costs, it is paramount that your home is operating as green and efficiently as possible. Energy costs are currently reaching ultimate highs which makes investing in alternative ways to improve the efficiency of your home necessary. This call to action will not only reduce your financial expenses, but also contribute to your part in minimizing energy consumption as we globally persevere towards a “greener” Earth. Nearly half of your monthly utility bill on average goes towards the conditioning of the air in your home. Help your AC unit and furnace run as little as possible by investing in a high-quality roof—the first line of defense against the elements.

Standard Roofing

The standard roof is typically comprised of dark shingles. If you were to take an airplane over any populous region, it is evident most houses are covered in black asphalt shingles and they produce a tremendous amount of heat. Suburban rooftops in the scorching sun of mid-summer actually create a phenomenon known as the heat island effect. The black shingles absorb heat at a much higher rate than lighter pigments therefore creating vast suburban heat pockets or islands. This will cause your air conditioner unit to run extremely hard.

Energy Efficient Roofing

Investing in an energy efficient, cool roof can improve your homes energy savings. By simply deciding on a roofing product lighter in color, more heat will reflect off a rooftop rather than be absorbed. Energy efficient roofing materials typically have this solar reflectance property. This reflection of sunlight in the summer can minimize the temperature of a roof by 30% leading to a significant reduction in your energy bill as your air conditioner requires less operating time. Higher quality materials can also withstand ultraviolet radiation much better than standard products thus increasing this life of your roof.

R-Value of Roofing Materials

Having a roof that is properly insulted with high quality, high R-Value materials is one of the best investments you can make for your home. Good insulation accompanied with spacing between the roof and the insulation allows for optimal air flow reducing the chance of moisture buildup. Moisture reduction is one of the biggest contributors to improving the efficiency of a home. Closed cell/open cell spray foam, cellulose or fiberglass are all adequate methods to providing strong insulation value.

Energy efficiency is vital in a time where climate factors and costly utility bills are on the rise. By investing in a good quality roof, not only will you have more money in your pocket each month, you will also be helping a planet in dire need of a reduction in energy consumption. Consult an experienced roofing company in your area to help source the best roof for your efficiency goals and budget.

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Most Energy Efficient Roofing Materials

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Could your roof potentially save you money, last longer and reduce your carbon footprint? This can be possible by using the most energy efficient roofing materials on the market. What is meant by, “energy efficient” is that these products are able to reduce the amount of heat absorbed into your home during the warmer months of the year.

Standard asphalt shingles become incredibly hot during the summer season. This poor efficiency material allows for heat from the sun to be directly absorbed into your roof and transferred into your home. This accumulation of heat will cause your air conditioner unit to run much harder in order to maintain its pre-set temperature. By opting for the most energy efficient roofing materials next time a new roof is needed, one can reduce the amount of energy required to cool a home during the summer.

Two Factors: Reflectance and Emittance

With so many materials on the market, it can be intimidating to decide on the right product to best suit your needs. Energy efficient roofing materials rely on two attributes that translate into energy saving returns. These traits are its reflectance and emittance capabilities. Reflectance is based on a material’s ability to reflect heat from sunlight rather than absorb it. Emittance refers to a materials ability to radiate off its accumulated heat to its surrounding environment. If a roofing product has a high emittance, heat cannot accumulate as well and so the temperature of the roof is substantially reduced. Materials that fall under the Energy Star label require a minimum of 25% (or.25) reflectance rate.

When choosing materials for optimal efficiency, consider these two scales typically shown in percentages or ranked between 0 and 1 (1 being the highest). In terms of material quality, metal roofing has the highest reflectance value and a significantly longer life expectancy than all other options. Though the cost is more upfront, it is the best choice for efficiency and a sound investment.

Energy Efficient Roofing Options

The next best are composite shingles which look similar to asphalt shingles but with higher reflective and emittance capabilities. All composite roofs come in a variety of colors except black. The lighter the color you decide on, the greater your energy savings. One downfall to lighter color is that over time your roof can take on the appearance of being dirty.

Solar is another excellent option. Not only are these thin layers of reflective photovoltaic cells ascetically similar to standard shingles, your roof can start working for you rather than against by converting sunlight into usable electricity for your home. Now that is genuine energy efficiency!

When choosing a roofing material, it is important to keep in mind that higher reflective products will mean less heat absorbed in winter as well which could potentially increase furnace running time. Keep this in in mind so that you choose the right material for your climatic zone.

With a new roof made with the most energy efficient materials available on market, one can experience improved comfort in a cooler home, a smaller environmental impact, a cheaper utility bill each month and a prolonged roof-life due to less heat damage. Your local roofing company will be able to propose the best options for your needs and your budget.

Blog Energy Efficiency

5 Ways to Improve Efficiency of Your A/C Unit

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Warm weather is soon to be upon us. Anticipation of extreme heat may seem far away yet summer is fast approaching. Keeping your home cool at an affordable cost is essential for staying comfortable in the warmer season. With heating and cooling comprising of nearly half of the expenses on your utility bill, improving the efficiency of your air conditioner is a critical decision for reducing monthly costs. Here are the top five ways you can easily improve the efficiency of your A/C unit to save you money.

Install Unit in the Shade

If your air conditioner is already installed consider planting a tree (preferably coniferous trees, as leaves will not shed and clog unit) to protect your air conditioner from the extreme heat of the sun. A cooler unit means less running time and less energy needed to reach the designated cooling temperature.

Clean Your Condenser Unit and Filter

Outside, your condenser unit is exposed to the elements and wildlife. It can be easy for the unit to become clogged or constricted by dirt, grass or other debris. Checking your A/C filter once a month is an easy and quick way to improve your unit. By keeping this area and filter clean and clear, your unit will be able to run without becoming labored down due to insufficient air flow.

Vacuum and Keep Indoor Vents Clear

Over time, dust and dirt in your home easily begins to accumulate in your air vents. It is important that you check these vents for debris and clean out the dust to ensure maximum air flow is reaching each respected room. Often times these vents can accidentally be constricted by an article of clothing, a toy or get knocked into the closed position. Be sure to check your vents regularly in order for cool air to reach its destined room without being obstructed.

Insulate Exposed Ductwork

Ductwork that runs through areas where the air is not conditioned can be a source of a cool sink. Ducts that are not properly sealed are not directing cool air efficiently through the home and so your air conditioner will run longer in order to achieve a uniform temperature. Getting a licensed HVAC professional is advised for this type of work.

Have an Annual Inspection

It is recommended that at least once per year bring in a professional to conduct air conditioner maintenance to perform a service and inspection of your unit. Not only will their servicing improve efficiency, it may also prevent small repairs from snowballing into expensive replacements.

Maximize home comfort at an affordable rate by taking care of your air conditioner and following these important tips. Keep cool and enjoy all the fun summer has to offer!

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Benefits of Good Air Quality in the Office Environment

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When you stop to think about just how much time you spend in the office on average, it makes you realize how important it is to have good air quality indoors. That includes having comfortable temperature and humidity levels that won’t provoke or exacerbate any issues with health, especially when you’re working in a confined environment that you must share with others on a frequent basis. In addition to health issues, poor indoor air quality can in turn, lead to absenteeism and lower productivity at work. Thus, good air quality is a crucial component in the workplace.

Here are just a few added benefits that good air quality can have in an office environment.

Health

The humidity levels in an office are crucial for maintaining optimal conditions for good health. When an environment becomes excessively dry, it not only causes discomfort, it also provides an optimal environment for airborne viruses to thrive and spread. Correct levels of humidity, between the range of 40-60% RH, reduces the growth of bacteria along with the transmission of viruses, such as influenza. Conversely, deviating beyond 60% RH can also cause the air to become too moist, which can exacerbate the presence of allergens, fungi and mites. This is why achieving that sweet spot between 40-60% is so important.

Comfort

It’s important to feel comfortable in your workplace and the air quality plays a significant role in this. Having a space that is consistently shared with many others already provides an environment that is easily prone to viruses and germs that can spread very easily, making it a very uncomfortable place to be. So having humidity levels in the correct range is essential to reduce as much discomfort, as well as the potential for ailments and bacteria to thrive.

Productivity

Of course, when your employees feel comfortable in the place that they work, they can better focus on their tasks at hand. Good air quality means less bacteria and viruses, which means less absenteeism and more productivity for the business. When employees have to suffer with allergies, asthma and the flu, it can trickle down and effect the entire business operation.

The air quality at work – and more specifically, the humidity levels maintained in your indoor environment – are something that you don’t often think about. But when you realize how much they can impact employees and productivity, you realize how vital this truly is. Don’t let something as simple as air quality negatively impact the productivity and efficiency of your workplace.

Ensure that your office has the best line of defense against ailments in the office by having a commercial humidification system installed. It can improve humidity control, health and overall productivity in the office.

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What Makes Energy Star® Windows More Efficient

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We have all heard about the need to minimize our carbon footprint by reducing energy consumption. Energy Star® windows and doors are a great way to help keep heat out in the summer and heat in come winter. But how do these technologically innovative panes of frame glass really improve efficiency over a standard window?

Energy Star® Standards

First off, in order for a window to be considered Energy Star®, it must undergo rigorous testing by the National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC), an independent organization that certifies and verifies all Energy Star products. Each product is required to meet incredibly strict standards with regards to its energy efficiency as dictated by the Environment Protection Agency (EPA).

Energy Star® Rated Materials

Energy Star® windows, regardless of the partnered manufacturer and the technology they use in their product, they all have similar efficiency features that are pretty much ubiquitous under the Energy Star® label. All Energy Star® windows are fabricated with the highest quality framing materials varying from fiberglass, to wood, to aluminum. These premium grade materials are built to be incredibly durable and designed to require as little maintenance as possible. The glass in an Energy Star® window is designed to have low-emissivity, filtering out some of the damaging ultra-violet radiation that enters your home daily. These low-emissive panes can reduce fading damage in your home by up to 75%. This drastically improves the lifespan of any furniture, painted walls, and flooring exposed to natural sunlight from the windows.

Energy Star® Performance

Energy Star® windows are designed to meet the specific needs of a specific climate and should be selected accordingly. Most common Energy Star® windows are comprised of two panes of glass with an inert, colorless, odorless, non-toxic gas such as Argon or Krypton that reduce heater transfer significantly better than air found between standard double-paned windows. Some windows under the Energy Star® label have three or more panes of glass providing optimal insulation value while still serving its main function as a window. Edge spacers on Energy Star® glass panes, especially the non-metallic kind, keep the glass panes at the proper distance from one another and minimize heat being transferred through the window.

Quality materials, advanced engineering/design, accompanied by the achievement of passing the highest efficiency standards, translates to a more energy-efficient home when equipped with the best windows in the industry. Consider Energy Star®, the benchmark for superior energy efficiency, when searching for ways to reduce your environmental impact, utility bill and preserve your home.

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How to Extend the Life of Your Vinyl Windows

vinyl-windows

Vinyl windows are a great investment, as long as you take the time to care of them. They don’t clean and lubricate themselves, unfortunately. To make the most of your high-end vinyl windows, you need to learn proper cleaning and maintenance techniques. Here is what you should now in order to extend the life of your new vinyl windows:

Lubrication

The guide arms, tracks, rotor gears and hinges on your vinyl windows can gradually get sticky and stiff over time. This makes them increasingly difficult to open. In order to prevent this from happening, you need to perform yearly lubrication. We recommend using a silicone release spray. It’s very important to note that you should never spray lubricants on the glass surface of your windows. Add window lubrication to your spring cleaning “to-do” list.

Cleaning

You don’t need a fancy name-brand, vinyl-specific cleaner in order to clean your windows. A solution of water and mild dish soap will do the trick. Take the solution and apply it to your windows with a soft clean cloth. This will remove most of the dirt from the vinyl surface. You don’t want to use harsh cleaners (like bleach) on your vinyl windows, as they could cause irreparable damage to the frame and glass.

Adjustments

You should inspect the locking mechanisms of your windows as part of an annual maintenance schedule. You may need to adjust the locks or keepers if they’ve become loose. For casement windows, you should remove the upper set of screws on the keeper then loosen the slide screws and adjust as needed. For sliding windows, you can use a square head screwdriver to loosen the keeper and reposition it as needed. Make sure you don’t overtighten the screws when you are done, as this can cause unsightly damage.

Insulation

Another item to add to your annual window maintenance list is caulking. We recommend you inspect the window caulk each year to ensure that there is a proper seal. A proper seal is crucial for maximizing your insulation during the cold winter months, and you’ll notice a big different to your energy usage if you fix this problem. You should make sure that weather-stripping and hardware are not painted over, as this can damage your window and void your warranty.

The best way to extend the life of your vinyl windows is to ensure you are having a qualified window installation company doing the work for you! Make sure to check reviews and past work to ensure the company you are hiring will get the job done right and set your windows up for optimal performance.

Blog Workplace Safety

How to Promote Safety on Your Work Site

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Job site safety is a serious issue that must be enforced. Job site and work site safety includes both parameters for safe and effective applications of products and services, but also safe work habits and protocol for staff to follow to avoid injury or accident.

Here are just a few ways you can promote a culture of work safety in your organization, both in the office and on site:

Educate Your Labour Force

In order to ensure safe practices on site, your staff and labour force must be educated on safe practices for their job. Depending on the roles within your organizations and the different responsibilities of your staff, so a customized training regime is key to success. Whether you are an international pipeline service and solution provider or a small-scale contracting company, a safe work site should be a top priority.

Enforce Penalties Internally

The governing ministry in your area will have their own penalties if your crew is caught not following procedure – and these are often very steep penalties. However, if your company is truly committed to creating a safe and efficiency job site, you should also have internal monitoring procedures and internal penalties for those not following proper safety protocol. For example, the first time is a warning (unless a very serious infraction), the second time you are written up, and the third time you are suspended without pay.

Reward Your Team for Safety Success

Create a culture of work site safety by rewarding your teams for continuing to exhibit and follow safe practices and procedures. This could be done by keeping a record of successful safety measures during your daily monitoring checks – once you reach 1 month of accident-free, penalty-free work, the company treats the whole team to a free lunch! This is a simple, easy way to create a great workplace culture where everyone proactively enforces a safe work environment for both themselves and the team as a whole.

The cause for creating a safe work site is one that everyone in the company has to support. The approach for a safe work site should be proactive instead of reactive. Do not wait until the ministry shuts down your work site. Develop a streamlined and strict safety policy internally and make sure that your staff understand it and enforce it. A safe job site is good for everyone and leads to a more efficient process, in the long run.

Blog Energy Efficiency

Energy-Saving Strategies for Homeowners

energy-efficient-house

Although cooler seasons brings their own set of beauty and excitement, it is also the beginning of higher gas bills. There are many ways you can keep your gas bills under control in the colder months, but it does require some attention to details. Here are 5 ways to reduce your gas bill:

Wear a sweater

Just like your mother always told you when you were growing up, if you’re cold put on a sweater. Having your thermostat set to a reasonably low temperature will save you tons of money in gas. Put on layers to keep yourself warm and you will notice a big difference in your monthly bills.

Program your thermostat to be lower at night and when you are away

We generally sleep better in cooler temperatures, so turn the thermostat down an extra few degrees at night time. Rely on blankets to keep you cozy warm while you sleep. It’s also important to remember to turn your thermostat down when you will be away from the house. There is no use paying to have a toasty warm house when you are away for the weekend.

Have your furnace cleaned and tuned-up annually

A healthy and clean furnace will always run better and more efficiently. Keep your furnace in tip top condition and it will sure to function at its top efficiency when you need it the most. It’s also important to change your furnace filter monthly to ensure the highest level of clean. Schedule furnace maintenance services in advance to make sure you are on schedule. 

Reduce hot water use

This may not be as intuitive as turning down the thermostat. It costs quite a bit of gas to constantly have your hot water tank full and ready to dispense. The faster you drain your hot water tank the more gas is required to keep it full. Be mindful of your hot water use and the replenishing won’t be as expensive.

Let sunshine in south windows

Open the curtains on any south facing windows and let the natural heat from the sun warm up your rooms. Similarly to closing these curtains in the summer to keep the house cool, the exposed windows will do a splendid job of heating their rooms if you let the sun shine in.

We all deserve to be warm and comfortable when cold weather hits, but we also deserve manageable gas bills. Find the comfortable balance that works right for you!

Blog Fuel Cells

What is a Fuel Cell?

A fuel cell produces electricity through a chemical reaction, but without combustion. It converts hydrogen and oxygen into water, and in the process also creates electricity. It’s an electro-chemical energy conversion device that produces electricity, water, and heat.

Fuel cells operates much like a battery, except they don’t require electrical recharging. A battery stores all of its chemicals inside and coverts the chemicals into electricity. Once those chemicals run out, the battery dies. A fuel cell, on the other had, receives the chemicals it uses from the outside; therefore, it won’t run out. Fuel cells can generate power almost indefinitely, as long as they have fuel to use.

The reactions that produce electricity happen at the electrodes. Every fuel cell has two electrodes, one positive, called the anode, and one negative, called the cathode. These are separated by an electrolyte barrier. Fuel goes to the anode side, while oxygen (or just air) goes to the cathode side. When both of these chemicals hit the electrolyte barrier, they react, split off their electrons, and create an electric current. A chemical catalyst speeds up the reactions here.