How to Go Green When Remodeling

Just because remodeling necessarily implies “changing your environment” doesn’t mean you have to fret about harming the planet when you replace your floors,go green ceilings and walls. In fact, the building industry, like every other nowadays, offers many eco-friendly options for renovating your space. And, when you think about it, even adding an addition is eco-friendly, considering you’re adding onto an existing structure, rather than despoiling unused land for a completely new one.

But, beyond this, there are many ways you can transform your home while also helping to preserve the environment. The following is a short list of some of the best of these options:

5 Green Remodeling Tips

1. Be Materials-Conscious

The most eco-friendly source for remodeling materials is decidedly local. But, if you don’t live in a forest and don’t have access to a mom-and-pop lumber yard, you can build with prefabricated wood products, such as studs, joists and trusses manufactured from smaller stock. These products are already sized and shaped to serve their intended function, so there is no waste, in cutting to size, from using them. Additionally, many big-box retailers carry products premade for use as trimming and deck work that are made of recycled plastics and wood. Most of all however, always use water-based finishes, paints and stains.

2. Choose Eco-Friendly Flooring

The volatile organic compounds found in some kinds of flooring can contaminate the air inside your home. It’s better to go with linoleum or natural-fiber carpeting, both of which can last decades and are made from renewable resources. The cork in linoleum, for instance, is harvested without damaging cork trees.

Better still, however, is carpet-like flooring made from reeds and grasses, as well as stone and ceramic tile and hardwood and bamboo. In any case, be sure to air out your house after installation whenever you use adhesives.

3. Insulate Properly

People do some of the greatest harm to the environment by wasting energy, and one major culprit for energy waste is poorly insulated homes. Energy waste isn’t just an environmental issue; it’s a financial issue. Consequently, making sure your home is properly insulated will both help the environment and save you money in air conditioning and heating your home. Otherwise, you are essentially throwing money out the window.

As for eco-friendly insulation materials, the building industry offers several, including loose-fill insulation made from recycled paper. One great way to renovate your home, save money and help the environment, then, is to simply use this material to re-insulate an existing structure. If you choose to do so, remember to re-insulate your heating and cooling ducts and to install windows made from insulated glass.

4. Go Solar

Yes, installing solar panels has a very high upfront cost, but you could eventually make your entire investment back by selling unused energy to the grid. But solar panels aren’t the only way to go “solar.” In fact, by simply choosing the correct window placement, size and ventilation in a new structure or addition, you can drastically reduce the amount of energy you use (and money you spend) heating your home.

5. Buy Green Appliances

It might not occur to you, but every time you turn on that old washing machine, you’re wasting immense amounts of water and electricity. In this case, again, a good way to save both money and energy is to update your appliances. In fact, finding energy efficient appliances is easier than ever as all major appliances must now have EnergyGuide labels attached to them, making it super-easy to compare models’ and brands’ energy and water consumption.

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Contributing Author: Paul Kazlov is a “green” home modeling enthusiast that understands the importance of going green.  Paul writes for the Global Home Blog and strives to educate people about “green” products such as metal roofing and solar.  Follow him on Twitter @PaulKazlov.

Early Spring Landscaping

outdoor1(BPT) – People across the country are feeling the winter blues after an unusually cold and snowy winter. But with warmer weather arriving soon, you can create a feeling of spring indoors and out with some simple do-it-yourself projects.

Roll up your sleeves and embrace the season of growth with these home and gardening tips:

* A fresh coat of paint is the perfect way to bring springtime indoors. Find inspiration from outdoor hues such as fun yellows, vibrant blues or a bright blend of pinks, oranges and reds. Start with an accent wall, which you can complete in just a few hours for under $50 with supplies from your local home improvement store.

* Spread the spring theme from your freshly painted walls into your outdoor gardens. Start now by planting seedlings indoors for delicious edible plants and beautiful, colorful blooms you can enjoy all summer long. Lowe’s garden center offers regionally relevant plants and the tools necessary for potting, planting and transplanting seedlings into your backyard garden once spring arrives and the ground thaws. In the meantime, cherish the beauty of your indoor garden as it reminds you of the warm weather on the way.

* As temperatures begin to warm, time to enjoy the outdoors is just around the corner. Soon enough you’ll be relaxing with family and friends on your deck or in theoutdoor 2 backyard around a fire pit. Take time now to get prepared for spring and summer days. Decorate and furnish your outdoor space with allen + roth patio furniture from Lowe’s. From bistro sets perfect for enjoying breakfast to conversation sets that will make your guests linger during longer days, you can create a specialty look at affordable prices.

* Get a jumpstart on your landscaping projects by removing traces of winter from your yard. As soon as the snow melts and the ground thaws, pick up or mow leaves and fallen twigs, trim or prune the bushes and give your grass a professional look by edging along paved pathways. Kobalt offers all the tools you need in its new outdoor power equipment line. Launched this spring, the line includes seven cordless tools that all operate off a single, interchangeable, 40-volt lithium ion battery. The selection includes two push lawn mowers, a chainsaw, pole saw, string trimmer and edger, blower and hedge trimmer. No need to wait for all the batteries to recharge – just switch them out from tool to tool and you can spruce up the yard in no time.

Spring is calling with these simple, affordable DIY projects that are sure to leave the winter blues behind you. In a weekend or less, your home and backyard will feel a sense of spring renewal that will provide long hours of enjoyment for months to come.

 

Decorating With Light

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A combination of hinged roof windows and skylights, with décor enhancing and energy-efficient blinds, add style while providing natural light and fresh air.

(BPT) – Something about spring seems to inspire us to lavish attention on our homes. Whether enthusiastically cleaning or freshening decor, Americans seize spring as an opportunity to breathe new life into interior spaces. While painting and decluttering are great ways to revitalize home decor, for sheer spring-like impact it’s hard to beat decorating with light.

Incorporating light into interior design can go far beyond a few strategically placed, attractive lamps and some upgraded overhead lights. It’s possible to use both natural and artificial lighting to complement other decor and architectural elements, and to create a brighter, upbeat mood that’s perfect for warm weather. Not sure where to begin? Here are a few concepts to keep in mind as you begin decorating with light:

Natural beauty

There’s no debating the benefits of natural light for boosting mood. After dark, short winter days, spring brings abundant sunshine, and you can put all that natural light to work in your home. Boost daylighting by lightening up window treatments to admit as much sunshine as possible, choose fresh paint colors that interplay well with the direction from which light enters a room, and consider adding skylights to rooms that demand drama or where adding a window isn’t practical.

A relatively low cost home improvement that can be accomplished by a professional in a day or two or over a single weekend, adding a skylight not only enhances home decor, it delivers energy-saving benefits as well. Skylights can help reduce dependence on artificial lighting – saving money on electricity bills. And, if you choose an ENERGY STAR certified solar-powered, fresh-air skylight like those made by Velux America and add remote-controlled, solar-powered blinds, you can improve the skylight’s energy performance rating by as much as 45 percent while improving indoor air quality through the venting effect of open skylights (which close automatically in case of rain). -Solar-powered skylights and blinds qualify for a 30 percent federal tax credit, as does the cost of installation. Visit www.whyskylights.com to learn more.

Lightening colors

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Fresh air skylights with energy-efficient designer binds provide natural light, passive ventilation and privacy in bedrooms and baths.

Some hues absorb more light, making them appear darker which causes the room to look dark as well. Spring is a great time to lighten colors throughout the home, and not just wall colors. Fresh paint brightens any room, but to amplify the effect, choose lighter, less intense colors such as pastel yellows, peaches and soft blues.

Continue the color upgrade through key decorating elements such as upholstery fabric, accent rugs, window treatments and wall art. Choose colors that speak to you of spring, whether it’s an Easter egg pale purple, a cheerful sky blue or a bright grass green. Replace heavy winter drapes with translucent sheers that admit natural light and give rooms an airy, open feeling.

Upgrading other light sources

While you take steps to maximize the amount of natural light that enters you home, artificial lighting will always be needed, especially when spring showers darken the skies for a while. Choose light fixtures – including floor and table lamps – that continue the bright, easy atmosphere you’ve already created with color and natural light.

Keep in mind the importance of layering light with a mix of sources throughout a room, and choose lighting styles that fit the room’s purpose. For example, in kitchens where a lot of work gets done, overhead and under-counter lights provide the best illumination for cooking and other chores. In bedrooms, wall sconces and table lamps provide softer, more soothing light.

Don’t overlook energy efficiency when you’re revamping your artificial lighting. Spring is a great time to boost your home’s energy efficiency by replacing old, electricity-guzzling incandescent light bulbs with energy-sipping CFLs and LEDs. While these bulbs may cost more to purchase, you’ll save money over their usable life. Energy.gov says these bulbs use 25 to 80 percent less energy than incandescents, and can last three to 25 times longer.

 

Spring Skylight Maintenance

round skylights(BPT) – When spring finally arrives, windows and skylights across the country will open, as happy homeowners revel in all that sunshine and warm, fresh air. But before you can savor spring, you still have weeks of winter to get through. You can use that time wisely to ensure all your home’s windows, skylights and doors are in good working order – and ready for action when spring arrives.

With some simple maintenance of existing windows and skylights – and replacing older models – it’s possible to improve your home’s energy efficiency and appearance, and prep for spring at the same time. While you may be versed in window maintenance, many homeowners are less sure of how to properly care for skylights. VELUX, manufacturer of solar powered fresh air skylights, offers some guidance:

Modern skylights are as durable and efficient as today’s top-quality windows, so maintenance requirements are relatively minimal on newer models. Start by cleaning glass thoroughly. Soak the skylight glass with clean water and mild soap to loosen dirt and debris. Use a mild, non-abrasive glass cleaner and a soft brush or pad to clean the glass, and immediately remove the cleaning solution with a squeegee or lint-free cloth. Never use metal scrapers, blades or knives as they can scratch or damage glass. Use appropriate caution when climbing ladders to reach your skylight. You can find more skylight cleaning tips at www.veluxusa.com.

If your skylights have pre-finished wood frames, inspect them every year before spring and look for signs of peeling, cracking or fading that will need to be re-finished. Re-finish or re-paint as needed following the manufacturer’s guidelines. Check to ensure all exterior fasteners are secure, and that cladding and flashing are free of excessive wear or scratches. Immediately replace damaged claddings and flashings.

For fresh air (venting) skylights, check the mechanism that opens the sash. Open skylights (and then turn off the power if your skylight is electric) and use a clean, dry towel to wipe off the chain. Don’t use cleaner or solvent.

If your skylight has blinds (which improve its overall energy-efficiency), inspect those as well to ensure they’re working properly. If you haven’t yet installed blinds, nowskylights is a good time to do so. Remote-controlled, solar-powered blinds allow you to easily open and close a VELUX solar powered fresh air skylight and shade it when the sun touches that part of the roof – improving the skylight’s energy performance rating by as much as 45 percent. And a 30 percent Federal tax credit is available on not only solar powered skylights and blinds but on the installation cost as well.

While maintaining a skylight can extend its useful life, even the best-made product will eventually need replacement. If your home has an older model skylight, replacing it before spring with an ENERGY STAR-qualified model can help improve your home’s overall energy efficiency, prevent leaks and enhance how the skylight looks and functions in your home. And if it happens that you’re having roof replacement work done, dealing with skylights at the same time can save you money.

Installation can often be done in a day and a range of product features ensure you’ll find the energy-efficient skylight and stylish blind that works best with your home. From the latest Clean, Quiet & Safe glass that stays clean longer while reducing outside noise, to SUN TUNNEL tubular skylights that can bring sunshine into lower-level rooms, homeowners have many options for bringing natural light and fresh air into their homes.

Not sure how a skylight will look in your home? Velux offers a free, downloadable skylight planner app.

By adding skylights, taking care of existing units, or replacing older models with ENERGY STAR-qualified solar powered fresh air units, you can help ensure your skylights are ready to let natural light and fresh air in when spring finally arrives.

Home Improvements: Faux Wood Tile

wood tile 2(BPT) – Fake and faux are far apart. Fake is meant to deceive, but faux is intended as a tribute or a toast to something great or beautiful.

Faux wood tile is one of the hottest trends in home remodeling and home decorating. Paying tribute to beautiful hardwood flooring, faux wood tile is a ceramic tile that combines the rich, textured finishes and warmth of real wood with the durability, functionality and design flexibility of tile. And, it costs a fraction of what real hardwood flooring costs.

“The strong trend toward faux wood tile is due to its contemporary, sophisticated look and durability,” says Kirsty Froelich, design director with The Tile Shop, the nation’s leading retailer of high quality, premium manufactured and natural stone tiles from all over the world. “That’s one of the reasons why you’re noticing it in upscale boutique hotels. The other reason is more practical. Because it’s water-resistant, you can use faux wood in parts of the home where moisture and water make real wood impractical, such as bathrooms, kitchens and foyers.”

Designers and homeowners love the abundance of available finishes in faux wood tile, from natural, earthy tones to colors that many homeowners would never dream of staining in hardwoods, like washed-out whites and light grays. These lighter colors have become increasingly popular in contemporary homes with open, light-filled spaces that bring out the tile’s visual wood-grain texture.

Just because faux wood tile looks like a million bucks, doesn’t mean it costs a fortune. The price per square foot is a fraction of what a homeowner would pay for real hardwood flooring, a point that has undoubtedly added to its appeal and rise in popularity.

Beyond faux wood, Froelich points to other hot tile trends, including:

Commercial style: Large-size tiles, typically seen in commercial or industrial settings, are all the rage in upscale homes. Large 12-by-24-inch tiles and extra large 16-by-24-inch tiles give rooms a big, spacious look. Instead of paint or wallpaper, consider using 10-by-30-inch long wall tiles to add rich texture and color to your living room or great room.

Glass and stone mosaics: Many homeowners are mixing little mosaic tiles consisting of different shades of natural stone with glass tiles in square, round and rectangular shapes to give their kitchens and baths a distinct, high-end touch of class.

Reclaimed wood tile: Homeowners love the look and feel of reclaimed wood – like the wood from an old barn, an old wooden ship or antique furniture. But reclaimedwood tile wood can be quite expensive. Now homeowners can add that reclaimed wood style with wall tiles made of ceramic or natural stone that offer a natural, authentic weathered look.

More texture: Homeowners are shifting away from shiny polished stone and moving toward more marble with a smooth or lightly textured finish. Homeowners are also mixing and matching different styles of tiles to create more contrast and a more layered, textured feel in their spaces.

Floor to ceiling: Tile isn’t just for bathroom floors and kitchen backsplashes anymore. Because of the low maintenance and high durability of tile, many homeowners are wrapping the walls of their bathrooms and kitchens, from floor to ceiling, in tile. In living and dining rooms, entire walls of tile add a warm, yet contemporary accent.

Spa feel: The bathroom is still a place where a person can experience some peace and quiet in our busy, high-tech lives. That’s why the trend of turning your bathroom into a European spa still continues strong with the use of natural stones and soothing glass tiles.

Timeless feel: For some homeowners, especially those who own an older or historical home, vintage subway tile or arabesque tiles deliver a classic, yet contemporary look that will never go out of fashion.

Simulated stone and incredible patterns: With new printing technology, homeowners can get the natural, unpredictable look of stone in ceramic tile, offering a lower cost option to obtain the high-class look of marble, slate or granite. In addition, a new wave of incredible patterns on ceramic tile is emerging for the more daring homeowner.

To learn more about tile trends and how to install tile, visit www.tileshop.com.

Weekend Friendly Do It Yourself Bathroom Projects

bathroom(BPT) – How much time do you spend in the bathroom each day? Whether it’s where you prep the kids for bed or step away for some alone time, the bathroom is one of the most frequently used rooms in the home. It’s also one of the best areas in which to invest; renovating or simply updating this space can lead to a 62 percent return on investment.

Luckily, making upgrades doesn’t have to require a lot of time or money. Follow these simple DIY steps to improve your space on a pocket-friendly budget in just a weekend or less.

Swap your showerhead

Make bath time more enjoyable by replacing your basic builder-grade showerhead with one that’s designed with the whole family in mind. For less than the price of a day at the spa, you can transform your entire shower experience with an In2ition two-in-one shower from Delta Faucet.

Featuring H2Okinetic technology, this shower manipulates the flow of water for a luxurious bathing experience that feels like you’re getting more water than a standard shower, without actually using more. The embedded hand shower, which can be used simultaneously or separately from the showerhead, makes it easy to accomplish everyday tasks, such as bathing children or washing pets. Plus, it’s easy to install. The In2ition simply threads onto your existing shower arm – no behind-the-wall work required. It is perfect for busy families or home renters who want to enhance their shower experience.

Pick out new paint

Paint is a cost-effective way to transform your room. Pick colors that express the feeling of the space, whether you want it to seem soothing and calm or lively and welcoming. Rich grays and navy blues can serve as a nice neutral in either case when punctuated with colorful accents, like patterned shower curtains and bright soap pumps or toned down with earthy accessories, like bamboo bath mats and beeswax candles. A quick tip: when working with lighter tones, carry your wall color onto your bathroom’s ceiling to help make the space feel larger.

Also, be sure to think beyond just walls. Painting cabinets can help make an outdated bathroom look new again. Choose neutral hues, like cream or charcoal, that work with nearly any color scheme.

Change your toilet

According to a recent survey commissioned by Delta Faucet, the average American’s toilet is used for more than just “going.” Rather, people are spending their time on the pot checking emails, posting updates or surfing the Web. If your toilet is outdated, consider switching it out for one that’s more comfortable and efficient.

Delta toilets, available at The Home Depot, are offered in round and elongated shapes and come in chair height dimensions for a comfortable fit. Included pre-installed tank-to-bowl connections promote easy installation, making them an affordable weekend update.

Most importantly, says expert craftsman Chip Wade, host of the HGTV show, Elbow Room, and Delta spokesperson, when it comes to making bathroom improvements on a budget, consider function before form.

“While decorative accents, like sconces and ceramic cabinet knobs, may be beautiful, it is more important to concentrate your money on the items required to perform a task, like your faucet or toilet, by investing in materials that will withstand the wear of everyday use.”

Tips for Winter Heating

heat bills(BPT) – The winter months mean celebrating the holidays, reconnecting with family and friends and planning your resolutions for the New Year. They can also mean a sharp increase to your monthly heating bill in order to stay warm and comfortable. If you’re interested in controlling your energy expenses while maintaining comfort, the tips below will help you make sure more of your money is put towards presents than power.

* Close the doors to rooms that are not in use. Most of us remember to turn off the lights in a room we’re not using but we rarely shut the door. And we end up wasting energy because of it. Don’t waste heat on rooms that aren’t in use. Instead, close those doors and allow the heat to circulate within a smaller area. Your furnace will have an easier time maintaining the temperature and you’ll notice the benefit on your energy bill.

* Invest in a heat pump. Some rooms are simply too important to keep the door closed all of the time. If it’s a child’s play area or your office, then chances are you’re looking for a way to add a little more heat. Investing in a duct-free heat pump system is the perfect solution. Duct-free products like the Art Cool Premier Single Zone offer high efficiency, precise temperature control, ultra-quiet sound level, stylish design and best of all, they provide effective heating down to -13F outdoor air temperature all without sacrificing aesthetics. The Art Cool Premier pump is available in both 9,000 and 12,000 BTU/h models offering you the perfect pump for any size room.

* Check for cracks and gaps around windows and doors. Today’s homes are more airtight than ever before but there is still the potential for cold air to enter your home via your doors and windows. Inspect each of these openings and seal or insulate any gaps you find to prevent the loss of warm air. You should also check for cracks and gaps around the door to the attic and at any locations where outside pipes or cords enter your home.

* Cover your windows. Small cracks or gaps in your windows can create drafts and cold air hits your windows and leaves them cold to the touch, transferring those frigid temperatures inside. Prevent that cold from coming into your home by sealing your windows. This simple procedure takes only minutes and will have a dramatic effect on your heating bill. And don’t forget that heavy weight curtains can also help keep drafts out. * Check your insulation. Many homes, especially older homes, are vulnerable to cold temperatures because they lack sufficient insulation. Insulation is commonly found in the attic but it also exists in any outer wall. If you are concerned your home may be poorly insulated, you can check the insulation levels yourself or you can hire a qualified home energy auditor who will check your insulation as part of his overall energy assessment.

The colder months are coming but that doesn’t mean you have to feel it inside your own home. Prepare for winter with the tips included here and you’ll be ready to enjoy a warm and festive winter holiday season.

 

Top Trends in Kitchen Cabinetry

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A Plain & Fancy Custom Cabinetry kitchen with shaker-like cabinets and table-style island in beech with a hand-rubbed white frost finish.

(BPT) – “A kitchen provides physical and spiritual nourishment, and for many homes is now the heart and soul of family life.” That’s how Terence Conran opened his classic Kitchen Book 20 years ago, and it’s probably even truer today. The kitchen’s central importance in most households means that Americans are paying more attention than ever to the design and decoration of this vital space – a search for functionality, comfort and beauty that’s reflected in current trends in hardwood kitchen cabinetry.

“We’re seeing increasing demand for rift-sawn white oak cabinets,” says Brian Yahn, sales manager of Plain & Fancy Custom Cabinetry in Schaefferstown, Penn. The reasons for rift-sawing oak are not just practical (it produces very stable boards that are especially resistant to warping and shrinking, an important consideration in moist kitchen environments) but also aesthetic. It results in a distinctive grain – tight, straight and even – that takes neutral or light stains exceptionally well.

“This is not your grandmother’s oak,” Yahn continues. “Today it’s creating kitchens that are sleek and modern but also warm and inviting.” Treated this way, the venerable hardwood gives contemporary homeowners the best of both worlds – cabinetry that’s clean-lined, efficient and durable yet still exudes a natural, organic quality.

Many customers are also requesting white oak cabinets that have been either cerused (limed) or wire-brushed, two textured finishes that produce an understated rustic. In fact “understatement”- or the impulse to keep things light and simple – is another watchword with today’s kitchens. Not as austere as the minimalist look that was trending a few years ago, light-and-simple refers to the design as well as the finish or color of the hardwood cabinetry: shaker-style recessed-panel doors in blond beech or white-painted maple are the classic example of this turn toward a bright, uncluttered kitchen environment.

The trend toward simplicity and understatement can be seen in more elaborately embellished kitchen cabinetry too. While add-ons such as carved feet, undercounter corbels and crown moldings, or decorative flourishes like turned legs, raised panels and fancy cutouts are still in demand, they are noticeably more constrained and smaller-scaled than they would have been a decade ago.”Homeowners don’t want decorative detailing that’s over the top,” Yahn notes. Carving is quieter and less ostentatious; lines are simpler and less convoluted.

Another way Americans are making the kitchen an even more central part of their homes is by installing cabinetry that looks like fine furniture. This style can range from totally freestanding pieces to kitchen islands that resemble tables to fitted cabinets that use furniture-emulating details. A current favorite is the stand-alone armoire, with drawers for storing silverware, table linens and serving pieces, and an upper portion ideal for housing a flat-screen television. Made of painted maple, it will exude an easy country vibe; fashioned in stained cherry or black walnut, it will become a handsome heirloom-quality piece. A bulky kitchen island can be transformed into an open, airy worktable by removing the base and replacing it with elegantly turned legs. And furniture-style drawer pulls and door handles on wall and base cabinets bring the atmosphere of the living room into the kitchen.

The pleasing visual diversity normally found in a living room can be introduced into the kitchen by using different finishes on different pieces of cabinetry. Many homeowners are using this strategy when faced with the classic kitchen layout in which a central island is surrounded by walls of cabinetry: “We’re often asked for a dark-stained cherry or black walnut island and a perimeter of white-painted maple cabinets,” Yahn says. And of course it’s always possible to highlight an individual piece or a particular section of cabinetry by using a distinctive stain or paint color.

No matter what style of kitchen you favor, from the warmly traditional to the sleekly modern, American hardwoods in all their diversity will allow you to realize that vision perfectly. For more ideas on their use in kitchen cabinetry, visit www.HardwoodInfo.com.

 

Benefits of Spray Foam Insulation

drafts(BPT) – With the onset of cooler weather, now is the ideal time for homeowners to consider the efficiency of their heating systems. Drafts, gaps and poor insulation throughout the building envelope can significantly contribute to the efficiency of a home’s heating system, the comfort of occupants and the household budget.

The United States Department of Energy says that household heating and cooling accounts for around 54 percent of the average American’s utility bill. Although some savings can be achieved through proper equipment maintenance and upgrades, the United States Department of Energy explains that an energy efficient furnace alone will not have as great an impact on energy bills as using a whole-house approach.

With heating and cooling taking up a large chunk of the household budget, understanding where your home is hemorrhaging money and how to effectively stop it can make a considerable difference to your comfort and your wallet. Building specialists say that any cold or drafty areas within a home are typically caused by air leaks within the building envelope. Air leaks can make rooms uncomfortable and allow the air to escape, forcing heating equipment to work continually to compensate. According to InsulationSmart.com, floors, walls and ceilings alone can account for up to 31 percent of air leakage in a home.

Consulting a home inspector or home energy rater who can assess your home from roof to basement will give you a better sense of where your home is leaking money and what cost-effective measures are available. While stop-gap solutions such as caulking and sealing visible cracks can help alleviate some of the air leakage, a home inspector will make recommendations that consider the whole wall infrastructure. For instance, a home with traditional batt or blown-in insulation is typically less energy efficient than a home with modern insulation material such as spray foam, because of the gaps these traditional insulation types leave behind.

Unlike the traditional insulation materials, spray foam insulation such as Icynene both insulates and air seals the home’s envelope in one step to provide a cost-saving option that not only stops drafts from occurring but reduces energy waste and cuts the monthly heating and cooling bill. Over the long-term, the savings quickly add up.

Spray foam insulation performs for the life of the property, ensuring that homeowners can enjoy comfortable indoor temperatures all year round without overrunning their heating and cooling equipment. Spray foam insulation can noticeably reduce heating and cooling costs, in some cases by up to 50 percent, easing the strain on the household budget.

Additionally, spray foam insulation helps minimize random airborne moisture and pollutants from entering the home, ideal for allergy sufferers particularly once the cold weather passes and spring arrives. Homeowners can learn the five easy steps of selecting the right insulation for their home on www.icynene.com.

 

Energy Efficient Garage Doors

garage door(BPT) – There are seemingly endless options through which homeowners must navigate when buying a new garage door: the style, materials and accessories, just to name a few. But perhaps the most important feature that should top the garage door consumer’s list is energy efficiency.

Why? Because the garage door is generally the largest moving object in your home and offers the greatest exposure to the elements. An insulated garage door will maintain the temperature in your garage in the winter and in the summer and likely decrease your heating and cooling costs. Insulated garage doors not only make the garage itself more comfortable to be in, but also the rooms adjacent to or above the garage. A well-insulated garage also helps keep moisture out, and its sturdy construction offers a greater noise-reducing sound barrier.

What should consumers look for in an energy efficient garage door? For starters, check out the R-value. R-value is a measure of thermal resistance to heat flow and is how most manufacturers show the energy efficiency of their product. The higher the R-value of a door, the more insulation you’ll get. Second, look at the door’s construction. Well-insulated doors will have a “triple-layer” construction, consisting of environmentally safe polystyrene or polyurethane thermal insulation between two layers of heavy-duty steel. Some insulated garage doors also include a thermal break which is a nonconductive material within the door that keeps thermal energy from passing through, resulting in improved energy efficiency for the home.

Well-insulated garage doors should be able to stand up to the most extreme of conditions while simultaneously protecting your garage and the rest of your home. For example, the Heritage 3000 door by Amarr was installed at Mawson Station, a science facility in Antarctica, in 2007. The garage door continues to withstand years of exposure to 100 mph blasts of wind and snow. With protection like that, imagine what an energy efficient door like the Amarr Heritage 3000 can do for your home.

Whether your garage door withstands heat, wind, snow, rain, or all of the above, it’s the largest line of defense for your home. Make sure that it’s working hard for you by reducing your home’s energy consumption and providing strong, durable protection from the outside. Your utility bills – and the rest of your (climate-controlled) house will thank you.