Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Energy Saving Tips That Will Put Money In Your Pocket

The most effective and efficient way to save energy for your home is also the most effective way to reduce your energy costs and put money in your pocket. Making the house as efficient as possible is the most effective way to cut energy costs.

Because homes account for more than 20% of all the energy consumption in the United States, saving energy becomes a priority. Here are some energy saving tips that will put you on track to saving energy and money.

How do you do that? If you’re building a new home, start by looking at the size of the home because the simple truth is the larger the home, the more energy it uses.

What if you’re not building a new home and you want to cut your energy consumption and therefore, your energy costs. Here are a few strategies you may want to consider in your next remodeling project.

A good place to start is to look at insulating your home properly because heating and cooling rooms in your home consume 44% of all the energy used in the home. By insulating existing walls of your home, you can reduce that high energy use.

What does insulation do?

Insulation slows the heat flow into and out of your house. It reduces the heat loss and stops air from infiltrating. Insulating your existing walls can reduce your energy bill from 10 to 30%. The U.S. Department of Energy provides a formula you can use to find out just how cost effective insulating your home can be.

There are many types of insulation to choose from because different insulation materials not only slow the heat loss at different rates but they also do different things. It can be a bit confusing. Here’s something to remember. The higher the “R” value of an insulation material, the better it is at slowing the heat loss.

How do you know what “R” value you need? First, take into consideration the type of climate you live in. Green builders almost always insulate well beyond what is minimum requirement particularly if building a Passivhaus where energy savings start by using an “R” value of 60 is used everywhere, including under the slab.

Other Things to Consider

There are many factors that determine which insulation material to use. Cost is always a consideration along with ease of application, moisture resistance, meeting project requirements and environmental impact of the product.

In considering the environmental impact of a product, we want to look at the manufacturing process, how the product is disposed, what it is made of and if it has any effect on indoor air quality.

No matter what the determining factor may be in choosing which insulation to use, bad and sloppy installation will cause problems and can reduce its effectiveness significantly.

Now that you have captured an impressive 10%-30% energy savings on your energy bill, it’s time to turn up the volume on that warm and cozy and add some fun and excitement.

Carve out your own personal space in rooms that are jaw-dropping, vivacious, serene and beautiful expressions of YOU. Our tips and tools can show you how. Click here to discover how a few simple changes can inspire your life.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Bicycles And Future Cities

When you imagine a future city, do you think of a historic machine like the bicycle? Perhaps not, but others have. In fact, Bicycle City, the first of its kind in North America is in the planning stages and to be located in South Carolina.

Imagine that! A city without roads! Without roads for cars, that is. Bicycles are shaping the way we transport ourselves into the future of cities without cars. Of course, the 140 acres of Bicycle City will have green homes to go along with it.

It is no surprise that Germany has already built a bicycle city where over 5,000 residents currently live mostly without cars and that is a tram’s ride away from the town, Freiburg. The cars that are used are parked on the outskirts of town which are, you guessed it, biked to.

The inspiration for such a project comes from none other than golf. Communities are built up around the golf so why no around cleaner air, less noise, less pollution, doubling up on activities like getting exercise while going to shop?

None other than the bicycle fits that bill.

Of course, tons of questions start to pop into mind. One of the first questions that I had was how would you get food into the city. For the South Carolina site, rail and water will be the transportation modes used to haul all the goods that we use and rely on for daily life.

As I rushed to tell my friend about this concept, more questions came up. What if you have a family to transport around, or what if the weather doesn’t cooperate with your plans?

Being a problem solver, my friend and I came up with lots of ideas to answer these questions. After some thoughtful discussions, we realized that these concerns were opportunities for fun and creativity and maybe even a spark for that entrepreneurial spirit.

Now, what about all that pedaling? That may sound like torture to some and exhilarating to others. At some point or another, we have all wished to get to that easy-breezy status. It’s just the in between parts that seem bring our good intentions to a crashing halt.

The key is to start. After a couple of weeks, your aerobic capacity will build, and you’ll be able to do things you never thought you could. Soon, says expert bike riders, you won’t look back.

Nobody really knows when the bicycle was invented. One school of thought embraces the 1860s as the first bicycle invention by a guy named Ernest Michaux. Others refer to Baron Karl Drais von Sauerbroon as being the first to design a bike-like machine around 1818.

Regardless of the exact date, bicycles and the various models have always been a fascination and a fashion statement, from nostalgic to a throw down that has no chance of getting stolen.

To take a look at the history of bicycle models, click here.  Which one do you like best? Leave your comment.

Image: healingdream / FreeDigitalPhotos.net