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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.

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How to Extend the Life of Your Vinyl Windows

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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.


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