Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Building Brick Homes Is Another One Of The Good Ways On How To Save Energy

There is no doubt about it, a energy efficient home is a cost effective one. One of the ways on how to save energy and make your home energy efficient is to design a new house properly and make use of the correct building materials.

In the old houses in Australia and South Africa, bricks have long been chosen as building materials. Nearly 90% of all the houses in these place are constructed using bricks, and still are today. Nowadays, in an effort to improve the energy efficiency of homes, building regulations require the newly built houses to use the right materials. Here are some points you should know that will help you come up with an informed choice.

As you are probably aware, most of the energy consumed in the home is used for cooling and heating purposes. Therefore, any effort that can reduce the cooling and heating requirements of your home will be a good one, right? But, do you think it is possible to reduce your cooling and heating energy consumption while keeping up the thermal comfort of your home?  This is where passive home design plays an important role.

In passive home design, the incoming energy from the sun is used to improve the house’s cooling and heating characteristics in a natural way. Four major principles make up passive home design. These principals are orientation, ventilation, insulation and thermal mass.

·  Orientation. Here is a simple example how orientation can affect your house's cooling and heating characteristics. If you live in the northern hemisphere, south facing windows would let the sun in during winter, assisting in heating your home. While during summer the sun is high in the sky, which will keep your house cooler as less surface of the window is exposed to sunlight.

·  Ventilation.  Cross ventilation is important. To facilitate cross ventilation, either side of the house should have sufficiently sized openings with almost no internal obstructions. This allows air to get in and out of the house in order to naturally cool it down. 

·  Insulation. Insulation in walls and ceilings acts as obstacles to heat conduction. The efficiency of insulation is characterized by the insulation material's R-value. But it is not only the R-value that one has to consider. The thermal mass is another important factor to keep in mind.

·  Thermal Mass. Typically, dense and heavy materials, like bricks, convey heat better through the walls. However, due to their thermal mass, bricks can absorb much more energy. Temperature differences then become small and the heat absorption into the house during summer is significantly reduced. Lightweight materials, compared to brick walls, have very low thermal mass. It is because of this thermal mass that brick walls are much better at moderating your home's temperature.

Now you understand why most houses built by the English back in the days where built from bricks. They understood the importance of thermal mass. Even if you go into one of these older houses today you will be amazed at how cool these actually are compared to the warm outside environment.

But this is ot just an old wives tale. There is a research that back up the theory that brick stone houses are energy efficient. Research has shown that a large part of the heat is reflected back to the external environment by the brick’s exterior surface. Other studies concluded that in summertime, the temperature inside a house constructed from bricks remained comfortable and favorable even though outside temperature varied significantly.

So, to finalize, when you plan on building a new home, think of the passive design principles and your ability to increase your new home's energy efficiency relatively easy. This is also one of the good ways on how to save energy. However, passive design is only one of the ways to better your home's energy efficiency. There are numerous other methods that you can implement, even in existing houses.

Monday, 11 February 2013

Are You Using Your Electricity Effectively?

The advancements in technology nowadays are phenomenal which can be beneficial for ways on how to save energy. New electronic gadgets come on to the market almost weekly. So, if you can afford it, why don’t you just get the newest gadget every time it hits the market? However, this is a double edged sword. Even though most of the newest devices are designed to be more energy efficient, the price tag on these devices is really high. So, does it all balance out in the end.

The typical family would spend about $1700 annually on electricity. And would you believe me if I told you didn’t even make use of a good portion of the electricity you are paying for. In other words, you are wasting energy and consequently money.

Who or what is to blame for this?

Well, there are two suspects. Firstly, your new high tech gadgets take part of the blame, while you take the other portion. You see, most devices nowadays are on, or consume energy, without being on. Do you know what I mean? Luckily, since we are now aware of this, we can do a lot to change this, and it doesn’t take much effort, only a little willpower. And if you read this, it’s all pretty obvious.

1) Turn off all appliances that you are not using. Switch off the television if you are not using it. And I don’t mean switch it off, I mean switch it off at the socket. Ditto for your stereo and anything that has a standby button. You see, standby buttons are evil, they allow your appliance to suck energy even though they are switched “off”. OK, the amount consumed when in standby mode is small, but over a year this adds up.

2) When not at home, switch off your heating or cooling system. Either keep it on a low setting or switch it off totally when you are away. You are not using it anyway, so why let it run? You are probably well aware how much energy heating or cooling systems consume, yet people still tend to leave these on when leaving the house. Use timers to program when the heating or cooling system should be activated. This at least allows the system to switch itself on to allow you to come back to a house with a comfortable thermal environment.

3) The sun has been giving us warmth since we have been on planet earth. And in these days with all the technology around we should not let this free source of warmth go to waste. If it is a nice sunny day, why not let the sun in to warm the house. Like I said, it is free so open your drapes and let the sun shine in. Obviously you should close the drapes at night to keep the heat inside.

4) Even though they are more expensive than the traditional lights we are used to, try to convert to LEDs. As mentioned, they do cost more, but produce a better light, last longer and only use a fraction of the electricity a light bulb uses.

5) Try not to use warm water when washing your clothes. Washing powders nowadays are strong enough to effectively clean your clothes in cold water. And, when drying clothes, try to dry them on the clothes line as much as possible and let the sun and wind dry them.

There are lots of things you can do to effectively use electricity. We just have to become more aware of what we are doing. Let your imagination run wild. You should not deny yourself to use the electricity that you need, just use it more wisely and you will see dramatic results.

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Consider Your Windows For Ways On How To Save Energy

As you get more into things you will discover many ways on how to save energy in the home. Have you already considered your windows?  Are they everything that they can be to you?

Windows are notorious energy drains if not approached in the right manner. Obviously we can't do without windows in the home. So what is so bad about windows and what can we do about them to reduce our energy consumption in the home?

Well, the thing that's bad about windows is that they allow air to pass through them easily. In fact,did you know that 35 percent of your cooling /  heating energy is lost through windows if your windows aren't insulated properly. In other words, 35 percent of the energy that you use could be lost through your windows.

OK, so the obvious question comes to mind...should I replace my windows?

Even though there are several things that you can do to improve the performance of your windows replacing your windows if they are old is probably necessary. Ideally, windows should be replaced every ten to twenty years depending on the type of window and its insulation.  Its not so much their age, though, as the way in which they work.

What you are looking for in a window is a good level of insulation.  You want to keep the heat inside during the winter months and the cold outside and vice versa for summer.  Nevertheless, this characteristic is difficult to achieve with older windows. 

Ideally, if your budget allows for it, you should consider double glazed windows. The air gap between the two panes of glass acts as a insulation layer similar to that around the water heater. This insulation allows the heat to stay inside during winter and leaves the cold inside during summer.

Other thing to look out for in your windows are cracks or breaks in the windows. If there are cracks, breaks and other areas where the window is compromised, you should consider replacing these windows.

However, when it comes to replacing windows, the old saying "quality over quantity" comes into play. You shouldn't go out and buy the most expensive windows out there. Because energy losses through windows make up such a big portion of the energy that you use, you want to buy the best quality windows for energy efficiency that you can.

Ideally, they should look good, but aesthetics should take second place here, since it is more important to get windows that will keep temperatures consistent throughout the home.

The cost of replacing windows is a large one, however the savings you may gain may be just as large.

Because of the rather large investment needed to replace your windows you may want to wait a couple of additional months before purchasing windows and that is just fine. Meanwhile, why not consider any of these other ways on how to save energy to save you money?

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Winter Is Gone, But Your Heating Bill Is Still On Its Way

Winter is an ideal time to find out many ways on how to save energy in your home, since heat losses are much more evident in the cold conditions.

Everything in nature runs in circles and is rhythmical. And so are the seasons: winter, spring, summer and autumn. And so it has been since the beginning of time. Even this year has seen winter come, but your heating bill is still probably on its way.

Did you know that you can really cut down on heating costs by just preparing your house before winter. However, preparing your house for winter does not have to become an annual thing. Do it right once and never do it again, or at least not so often.

There are two words that describe winter: cold air. And, cold air means higher electricity bills. Winter is usually the time of year when your utility bills usually shoot for the sky. Have you ever investigated why this is so? Well, in winter you need to heat your home. It is critical that our home has the right temperature and during the winter we typically turn on our heating system to do this. And because we use our heating system so frequently, this is then usually the biggest contributor to our electricity bills. But all this can be changed, with a little preparation. All you need is the right tools and the right information.

The fireplace – Your fireplace actually costs you a lot of money annually. But repairing and cleaning your fireplace is no major task and with some minor checks you could be reducing your energy consumption. The best thing to do is to endure that the damper is tightly sealed when you are not using your fireplace. A lot of heat (which costs money to generate) escapes through your fireplace and also allow cold air to enter your home, which means that you would have o turn up the thermostat (costing even more energy, i.e. more money). And, if you decide to use the fireplace, make sure to open the damper again and turn down your thermostat for that time. You could save as much as 8% on your heating costs during the time your fireplace is being used.

The furnace – The furnace is a machine. And just like any machine, the furnace needs to be in a good clean condition to work efficiently. One thing is for sure, the furnace will not operate at its best efficiency when the filter is full of dirt. Logically, the furnace will then consume more energy to achieve desired operational point. So it’s simple, just make sure that your furnace’s filter is clean. Read the owner’s manual if you are unsure how to clean the filter, or simply call a handy man to do it for you. When your furnace operates at its optimum efficiency you could save up to 5% on heating cost.

The ventilation duct –Ducts that are leaking air due to small holes in them will definitely result in lost heat. Your ducts should be regularly checked that they are not leaking. You should also make sure to insulate the ducts. Typical duct insulation you can use is R-6 or higher fiberglass. This material should be available at your local hardware store. Leaking ducts put 30% more on your heating bill so it is well worth it to make sure that they are sealed and insulated properly.

The solar heat – This does not mean that you have to have solar panels on your roof. Simply leave your drapes open during the day to allow the heat from the sun to come in throughout the day. This is sure to heat up your rooms without using electricity. But you have to remember to close the drapes at night. This simple trick can cut as much as 10% off of your heating bill.

The openings – Openings on your doors, joints, windows and sills allows the cold outside air inside. Sealant or weather stripping can be used to make sure that these openings are sealed properly. Even though this might look like a small change it will make a considerable difference on your heating bill.

The thermostat – Technology can help a lot nowadays. Programmable thermostats or centralized heating systems have the potential to allow you to save on your heating cost. With programmable thermostat you can set your desired room temperature for any specific time of the day. On the other hand, centralized heating systems give you full control over the temperature in every room. It is interesting to note that one degree difference on your thermostat can make as much as 5% difference on your heating costs.

So there you have it. Some of the areas you can check on to make sure that you do not waste unnecessary energy during winter and possibly also save some money in the process. For more information for ways on how to save energy download my free ebook.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Small Things Can Go A Long Way In Ways On How To Save Energy

In my eBook you will find a lot of different tips and tricks to help you to save money on your home’s energy needs by showing you some ways on how to save energy.

But, as I mentioned earlier, the right thing to do would be to start small and work up to larger changes in your home. Now, that doesn't mean that you can't do both, but I will begin to show you some of the small, inexpensive ways that you can begin with to improve energy efficiency in your home.

Here are some pretty simple yet effective things you can do right now to get started to reduce your energy consumption and start saving your hard earned money.

First off, as mentioned earlier somewhere, you can insulate your water heater.

There is a lot that you can do with your water heater to reduce its energy consumption.

Firstly, are you aware that at the moment you are heating water to a certain temperature for your shower or your washing machine and then you bring that temperature down by mixing it with cold water so that it is usable?  I'm sure that most people can't use hot water straight from the water heater. Now this is one simple and obvious step that you can take to lower your energy consumption. If you haven't done this yet, please go ahead and do it. Simply lower the hot water temperature to the lowest comfortable setting for your needs. By heating the water too much you are actually throwing away money by cooling it down again for showering or washing. Most hot water heaters have dials that you can use to lower the heating temperature of your water heater. Just be sure not to go below 120F as your water heater will become a breeding ground for dangerous bacteria below this temperature.

Furthermore, you could install a timer on your water heater. Why would you want to heat water over and over during the day if you aren't at home or don't use hot water during the day?  Simply set the timer so that it switches on before you come home from work so that hot water is ready and waiting for you. 

Similarly, at night you're probably also not using hot water. Therefore, by insuring that the timer keeps the heater off during the night when you know you won’t be using hot water you will be again saving a lot of energy.

However, having the water heater insulated is probably one of the largest benefits in regards to saving energy. Typically, your water heater should already be insulated, just take it up a notch. If you add more insulation around the outside of your water heater, you will be reducing the amount of heat lost from the water, therefore reducing the amount of times the water needs to be reheated, resulting in a lower energy consumption. 

This is probably one of the easiest ways on how to save energy in the home. Obviously, you will get optimum results if you incorporate all strategies discussed above.

Monday, 14 January 2013

Getting Started Finding Your Biggest Needs Is An Important Step To Finding Ways On How To Save Energy

By reading the previous posts you should have a better idea of how to go about considering any and all products that you will put into your home, you should be thinking what your biggest potential need for your attention is for ways on how to save energy.

While you were analyzing your monthly utilities bills, you should be able to see which source of energy you use the most.  For myself and for most people I think, this is gas. 

Gas is rather expensive and, as with any carbon based fuel source, there is no doubt that the price of it will continue to rise in the future. It is inevitable. But, it is a little more complex than that.  You've probably heard that within the next sixty years, most scientists believe that we will have exhausted all of the world's crude oil supplies......that also means no more gas!

As the supply of a product dwindles, the costs of it goes up. It is a simple economic principle (supply vs demand). To make matters worse, we continue to use more and more gas each and every year. In other words, as we use more gas the demand for gas increases. As the demand increases, so does the price for gas. It's a vicious cycle.

Furthermore, gas is not exactly a clean fuel. Burning gas produces CO2.....and we all know that that is a greenhouse gas. Does melting polar ice caps and rising sea levels ring a bell? So by using gas we are actually paying for the destruction of our planet. Ok, I may be a bit dramatic here. Don't worry, the future not that bleak.

Really now, what does this mean?  All I am trying to say is that now is the time to look at how you can save gas costs within your home. You know prices are going to increase inevitably along with your utility bills. But this doesn't mean that you have to keep on loosing money.

There are a number of ways to save on gas, as you will see in my free eBook.  If gas comes out at number one, this is where you would want to start.

Now obviously, gas it not the only fuel that you use in your home.  Electricity can be another potential one of the ways on how to save energy in your home and save money if you learn to use it wisely. All you need to do is spend some time to find out exactly where you use it and how you can save in doing so.

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Cost vs Savings Analysis - Another Bridge to Cross to Find Ways On How To Save Energy

Ok, so you though you can go right into applying ways on how to save energy in the house? Unfortunately, before you get into saving money with methods to reduce your energy consumption each month, you need to understand the benefits of energy savings by smart investments.

You are probably well aware that the world is in an energy crisis and the cost of gas and other energy sources will undoubtedly continue to rise. In times of turmoil you get opportunists that want to make as much money out of you as possible by selling you the magic pill.....the one solution to everything. Unfortunately, these guys are also in the home energy business and are promoting very expensive products. Please note that there are legit products out there and legit people promoting these. This is just a warning that you must watch out for those that are out to get a quick buck.

Now before you even think about buying any product you should be 100% sure that it will be cost effective and worth your hard earned money. Otherwise, it will cost you more in the long run. This is why a cost vs savings analysis is such an important step.

Here are few good tips about buying any item that someone may present to you as a way on how to save energy on your home.  Investing in anything no matter how big or small the price tag is an important decision. So, as with as with any important decision take some time to really think about what you are investing in before you do so. This alone can save you money.

Here are some things to think about:

•  What is the product promising to do for you?  You get products that promise miraculous results. Be sure that they can deliver what they claim. Do some research.  Remember, if there was a miracle product out there, wouldn’t we all have it by now?

•  What is the cost of this product? Don't just think of the initial cost, think of the cost of the product over it's entire life cycle. You have to buy it, install it (or have a specialist install it for you), commission the product and keep it in working order. All of these activities have a price tag. And finally, once the product has reached it's life expectancy (remember, nothing lasts forever), you have to uninstall it as well, which is another cost. All these costs add up in the end and you should make sure that after all this you will still be saving money in the long run.

•  Will you be able to reap the benefits immediately?  In other words, you should be able to immediately reduce your energy consumption.

•  Finally, when will you see a return on investment? How long will it take until the product has paid for itself?

When you take above into consideration, you will be able to better understand the true benefit of any supposed energy savings gadget that is available on the market. For more information don't forget to download the free Ebook.