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Energy Efficiency

Energy Efficiency

Tips for Implementing a Recycling Program at the Office

recycle-office

Going green isn’t just a fad or trend — it’s a highly efficient practice that helps to minimize unnecessary household and business wastage. Implementing an office recycling program can do wonders to better protect the environment, particularly as offices consume a lot of materials including paper, printer ink, and light bulbs. Here are some helpful tips to get you implement such a program in your office environment.

Reach Out to Waste Management Parties

Whether your office’s waste is managed by a municipal collection program or building management, take the time to speak with them and learn what can be recycled and what can’t. Statistics indicate that up to 90% of office waste can in fact be recycled, so your efforts will surely make a major impact. By learning what can be recycled, you can better organize this new recycling program and plan it out more accordingly.

Speak to Employees

By talking to employees and learning what they waste and how they dispose of it, you’ll have a better idea of how inefficient or needlessly wasteful your office’s current waste management plan is. By combining this data with what you learned from those who handle waste management for your location, you are now ready to implement a successful office recycling program. Additionally, when visiting employees at their stations, you can gain a better understanding of where they frequent or how close they will be to recycling bins.

Appoint a Program Coordinator

By enlisting the help of someone highly knowledgeable and/or passionate about sustainability and environmental protection, your program will hit the ground running and likely be more successful. A coordinator will keep a close eye on the inner workings of the program throughout its inception process, ensuring that it is being utilized properly and efficiently drawing in recyclable materials from the office. While you may be too busy at times to adequately inspect the efficiency of the program, your coordinator will be specifically there to do so, acting as a second set of eyes and informing you of any adjustments that need to be made (such as additional bins, stricter enforcement, etc).

Incentivize Eco-Friendliness

Once your program is in full swing, it’s important to keep employees motivated and passionate about accurately diverting waste away from landfills. Hold fun contests with rewards for those who recycle the most or come up with ways to bolster the program’s effectiveness, or throw a pizza party if the office meets a goal of a specific percentage of sufficiently recycled waste. By respecting employees or showing your gratitude for their dedication to the program, they’ll feel more inclined to keep up the good work.

If going paperless or making major expensive changes isn’t financially feasible, implementing a recycling program in your office can make a huge impact on how your workplace’s waste is diverted and treated. The more you and your employees work together to make it successful, the greater of a difference it will make on your office’s impact on the environment.

Energy Efficiency

How can my business become more energy-efficient?

Any business hopes to minimize expenses and maximize profits. However, a lack of energy efficiency is akin to operating a ship without a rudder. By making green changes that increase your business’ energy efficiency, it will be easier to save money and be more cost effective.

Shut Off Equipment

At the end of a workday, go through your business and ensure that everything is shut off. Computers, printers, fax machines, scanners, photocopiers, and other electronic equipment will continue to consume energy on a 24/7 basis unless if powered off — even with screensavers. If you must leave specific systems on, then be sure to activate sleep mode. This function, when initialized 15 minutes after inactivity, uses at least 70% less energy than regular operational mode, and can make a tremendous difference in lowering energy bills. Also, unplug all phone and mobile device chargers when not in use, as they still convert and waste energy when not plugged into a device.

Cut Back on Travel

Many business employees and owners need to attend meetings or speak with clients. However, even though travel occurs outside a business, it still contributes towards how energy efficient your operation is. If at all possible, consider opting for modernizing your meetings by setting up video conferencing. The minimized travel expenses will help to lower fuel and energy costs, more so if your business has multiple meetings on a weekly basis.

Upgrade Lighting Systems

By leaving lights on throughout your business, your energy bills will never shrink. Take action and encourage staff to switch off lights in unoccupied areas and at the end of every day. If you can afford to install motion sensors in washrooms and hallways, they will do the work for you in ensuring that lights are only turned on when needed by someone. Also, replacing bulbs with LEDs or other more energy efficient varieties will enhance the effectiveness of these cost-saving measures.

Minimize Heating and Upgrade to ENERGY STAR® Products

Additionally, reducing your heating temperature by even 1 degree (Celsius) can lower your heating bill by as much as 10%. If your system is antiquated and consuming more electricity than is necessary, act quickly and upgrade to an ENERGY STAR® certified heating system that will only consume the amount of energy that is needed. Combined, these two measures will drastically reduce your expenses over time. Upgrading to similarly certified electronic products throughout your business would help you save even more, also.

Operating a business is no easy thing to do. However, you can make it easier on yourself and your employees by implementing a few energy efficient habits and upgrades that will help to lower costs and keep you in the black. Apply eco-friendliness to your working environment and reap the rewards.

Blog Energy Efficiency

How to Boost the Energy Efficiency of Your Hot Tub and Pool

hot-tub-with-cover

Having a hot tub or pool waiting for you to slip into after a long day at the office is undeniably fantastic, but these aquatic additions to your patio, deck, or yard can consume more energy than you might expect. Here are some ways you can boost your hot tub or pool’s energy efficiency.

Pumps and Insulation

Upgrading pumps to more energy efficient ones will help in minimizing wastage, and installing a pool pump timer will enable pumping only when the water needs to be circulated, preventing excess energy consumption. If your pumping systems are old and outdated, then it’s best to upgrade, as there are far smaller and more efficient alternatives available, substantially cutting back on energy consumption in the long run.

Minimizing heat wastage is also a vital step to take to conserve energy. Ensure that you have adequate thermal insulation fully surrounding your pool or hot tub. Running heating systems at a comfortable, standardized minimum will also make a big difference, as will not turning systems off and restarting them every day.

Efficient Coverage

Evaporation is your biggest enemy as an owner of a pool or hot tub, as more energy will be required to refill water that has been absorbed into the atmosphere. A pool or hot tub cover is an absolute must, and there are a wide variety of covers available, from fancy retractable automatic ones to simple, floating thermal blankets. Be sure to cover your aquatic playgrounds when they’re not in use. Windbreaks are also highly recommended, as they help to negate temperature disruption and protect your hot tub or pool from drafts.

Perform Regular Maintenance

Owning a pool or hot tub requires a willingness to keep up with required maintenance. Filter cartridges for hot tubs that are dirty or clogged will overwork pumps and reduce water flow, diminishing efficiency. The same thing can happen to pools with dirty filters. For hot tubs, soaking filters overnight with a non-foaming filter cleanser every 3-4 months will make it easier to keep things running efficiently and smoothly. Try rotating two sets of filters, so a dry, clean spare can easily be installed with each water change.

For pools, taking a skimmer to clean out leaves will make a huge difference, as will regularly washing down the sides and bottom to allow the filtration system to more easily clean out debris. Manually cleaning out the pool pump will allow it to work less to keep the water clean, and setting up a backwashing schedule through reversing the water system will clean out debris that has gathered in the filter. Setting up your own system to cleaning out the pool with these steps will allow for minimal energy consumption.

These are just a few of the many ways you can boost the energy efficiency of your hot tub or pool. With care, patience, and a willingness to experiment, you’ll come up with a setup and maintenance schedule that makes it easier than ever to enjoy your aquatic comforts.

Energy Efficiency

How to be More Energy Efficient On-Site

work-truck-outdoors

Energy efficiency and conservation is a key method of lowering operating costs for any business or organization. It is imperative that the environmental footprint stemming from day-to-day operations is consistently kept to a minimum. Here are some ways you can become more energy efficient on-site, cutting down on expenses and environmental impact along the way.

Modernization

Environmentally friendly pieces of hardware are always being added to the market, outpacing once-reliable and cutting-edge machinery in terms of capabilities, features, and power consumption rates. If applicable to the conditions of your workplace, suggest the idea of upgrading technology to more cost-effective and efficient equipment. Much new hardware is accompanied by a larger initial investment, but returns are far stronger due to the benefit of reduced energy wastage. New technology also allows for streamlined operating practices through the implementation of new features, faster software, and modernized components. It will also help to cut down on required maintenance, which itself will result in reduced energy consumption as a result of fewer repairs.

In fact, upgrading software to that which is more efficiently able to monitor equipment energy usage can itself drastically reduce consumption. By instructing hardware to only use the precise amount of energy required and reroute excess wastage back into the grid, modernized operating systems and programs act as a strict digital enforcer of environmentally friendly operating practices. Implement remote equipment tracking and monitoring to ensure maximum efficiency in your workflows.

Energy Efficient Mindsets

Whether the modernization of equipment is a viable option or not, there are common day-to-day individual workplace practices that, when put into place, will also help to maximize energy efficiency. When applicable, unplugging or turning off machinery when not in use should ultimately become a habit amongst all workers including technicians, equipment operators, and maintenance staff. Using tools that are only the required size as opposed to those that would consume more electricity is another environmentally friendly method. Minimizing paperwork and avoiding printer/fax usage will help lower wastage, as will encouraging colleagues to be more energy efficient by incentivizing environmentally friendly behaviour.

Standardized Equipment Maintenance and Inspection

Regularly inspecting workstations with a willingness to consistently address equipment issues is a crucial step to take in regards to conserving energy on-site. Ensuring ventilation is blockage-free, heating and cooling systems are well-maintained and operated at standardized settings, and keeping operating equipment such as machinery or computer-based systems in pristine working order will greatly help to reduce wastage. Regulating property-wide scheduled inspections and maintenance is highly recommended to maximize effectiveness.

With these methods put in place, it should be easier than ever to better control energy wastage and reduce your environmental footprint. If all employees adopt conservation-focused practices and collectively contribute, you can be assured that energy usage will decrease in addition to your impact on the environment.

Blog Energy Efficiency

5 Ways to Conserve at Home

woman-replacing-light-bulb

There are so many little habits that we commonly form at home that may seem harmless, but in actual fact, adversely affect our environment in a big way. Conserving at home saves you money and helps reduce the demand of energy, which lowers the need and usage of fossil fuels. And since lower demand of fossil fuel equates to less carbon dioxide pollution, this alone can help lower the destructive weight that’s being placed on our ecosystem.

With the amount of energy efficient alternatives, and both local and global environmental initiatives, whether you live in a new apartment or older detached home conserving at home has never been easier. Here are 5 ways that you can get started.

Conserve with Home Appliances

Swapping out old, energy hog appliances for newer energy efficient models is a great start. You can find these alternatives for just about any and every type of home appliance you need. However, if you can’t afford to go that route, then there are still ways to conserve with your current home appliances. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Wash clothing in cold water. Try to avoid using hot water for washing clothing. Using warm or cold water instead can help save approximately 500 pounds of CO2 per year for those with electric water heater, or 150 pounds for a gas heater.
  • Lower the temperature of your water heater. Thermostats only need to be set at 120 degrees F. You can save 600 pounds of CO2 per year by lowering your water heater by 10 degrees.
  • Lower the temperature of your fridge. Refrigerators need to be set as close to 37 degrees. Use a thermometer to adjust your fridge to be as close to that temperature as possible since they are often set too high. Refrigerators account for approximately 20% of household electricity use.
  • Use the dishwasher or washing machine only when there’s a full load. Also, you can select to have dishes air dry instead of using heat. This can conserve both water and energy usage.

Conserve by Using Energy Efficient Bulbs

Compact fluorescent blubs can illuminate a room just as well, if not better, than regular incandescent bulbs. However, fluorescent bulbs use only ¼ of the energy and last 8-12 times longer. It’s a simple switch that can help.

Conserve by Reducing Household Waste

One of the easiest ways to help the environment is by curtailing waste production and pollution.

  • Use reusable item. When you grocery shop, or get take-out food, use reusable bags, containers and utensils rather than plastic disposables. And take note of what you can compost and recycle in your local district. Reducing your garbage output by half of one large trash bag per week saves at least 1100 pounds of CO2 per year.

Helping out the environment and minimizing your ecological footprint is easier than you may think. With a few simple new habits, you can drastically reduce the stress that’s placed on your monthly bills, along with the destructive weight that is destroying our planet.

Energy Efficiency Home

Types of Energy Efficient Lighting for the Home

homeowner-changing-lightbulb

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.

Blog Energy Efficiency

5 Ways to Improve Efficiency of Your A/C Unit

air-conditioner-unit-on-grass

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!

Blog Energy Efficiency

What Makes Energy Star® Windows More Efficient

windows-bright

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 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!