Category Archives for "Green Living"

3 Tips for Finding Eco-Friendly Washers

Your washer is going to get an awful lot of use. That’s why it’s so important to find one that’s as “green” as possible!

Did you know that the average family does close to 400 loads of laundry every year?

If you don’t want to drown in a sea of high utility bills, you need to narrow down your choices to the most eco-friendly washers you can find.

Here’s how to do it:

1. Understand The Label

Just seeing an Energy Star label isn’t good enough, because some Energy Star washers are better than others. Instead, go beyond the rating and take a look at all of the different numbers and consumption levels. As long as you know what they all mean, you’ll be able to figure out which washer is perfect for you.

2. Don’t Just Look At Electricity

After all, washers use a whole lot more than just electricity to clean your clothes! In fact, 22% of your household water usage is going to come from your washing machine. That’s why you need to be on the lookout for a model that’s efficient when it comes to water, too.

Fisher & Paykel washing machines fit that bill. They actually have sensors inside that can adjust the water level depending on how many clothes you’ve loaded. That way, you’ll never use more water than you have to.

3. Look For A Larger Capacity

By getting a bigger washing machine, you can combine loads — and, as a result, cut down on the number of times that you have to power up your washer and dryer set.

Plus, the bigger machines will have higher spin cycles — which means they’ll pull out more water and reduce your drying time.

Front loading washers tend to have a larger capacity, but if you can find a bigger top loader, that will work, too. For example, one of the newer washing machines has a 1,000 RPM spin cycle. As a result the dryer that goes with it will only have to work for a fraction of the time!

After all, if you’re going to be stuck doing laundry, you certainly don’t want to use more energy than you have to… Talk about adding insult to injury!

Benefits of Using Biomass as a Fuel Source

Biomass is made of organic and degradable materials, used to create fuel and energy for electricity and other purposes. It is a completely renewable source of energy. Biomass fuels can be made of scrap lumbers, some crops, woodland debris, manure and other kind of wastes. Biomass will always exist, as wastes from building and demolition, paper making leftovers, forest debris can be easily found and created constantly. This eco-friendly energy source will continue to exist in the future as long as the forests and crops exist.

Biomass fuel can be produced of agricultural residues, industrial leftovers and food wastes as well, besides from woods and crops. Unfortunately raw biomass has low energy thickness. That’s why it is uncomfortable and ineffective for storing and transportation, as well as not suitable to be used without being pre-processed. But after pre-processing, the biomass creates fuel and energy source, which is ecological and effective.

Many people have second thought about using biomass as a heating and electricity source. It can be inconvenient to some extend and sometimes expensive, but will create a lot less pollution in the atmosphere. There are a lot of modern systems, creating energy and electricity, using fossil fuel as source, which can be installed and used in your homes. Biomass can be used to create fuel for stoves and boilers. Biomass energy can be used the simplest way by burning it. Instead of burning the energy in an indoor space, much more effective will be to be burnt in an open space. The heat, which biomass creates, can be used to keep any disclosed area, room and even whole buildings warm. The energy is created by a biomass boiler.

There are plenty of technological systems for heating and creating electricity, based on biomass as a fuel source. Some technologies convert the heat from biomass into another chemical form. There are also some experimental and less popular conversions. There are a lot of processes, which transform the biomass into another form, which is much easier transported, used and stored. Biomass is made entirely of natural materials and doesn’t leave any harmful gases in the atmosphere, after being released.

The most used sources of biomass in the UK are the forests, parks and woodlands. They provide a couple of million tonnes of wood every year, used for biomass fuel, made of branches, woods and forests leftovers. Biomass can be used for producing power, heat, as well as combined heat and power. These are some of the big advantages, which biomass has a fuel source.

Energy crops can also be used as a biomass fuel source. These crops are plants that are planted with the purpose of producing fuel or later be converted into some kind of fuel. These plants are usually trees – Willow, Poplars and others. A lot of wood wastes, paper, sewage and textile leftovers can be used as a biomass fuel source. Plenty of woods, logs, sawdust, wood chips, wood pallets and briquettes can be converted into biomass energy. Straws, poultry litter, corn stover are dry residues, which can be processed and turned into eco-friendly biomass fuel.

The municipal solid wastes, the residues from forests, agricultural leftovers and some trees, planted for energy crops, can be used for creating the renewable energy source, which is the biomass. Instead of wasting these residues and throwing them away, they can be used for creating heat and energy, necessary for our lives. As the technologies develop, more new devices for heating and providing electricity are created, using biomass. It gives us the opportunity to turn unusable wastes into renewable energy source, which has future and can help us diminish the pollution in the atmosphere.

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How Do Solar Hot Water Heating Systems Work

With today’s growing environmental concerns, wouldn’t you resort to solar hot water heating systems yet? This is a very efficient heating system because it hoards its power from the sun’s energy. That way, you can rest assured that you are not contributing to the continually growing worst pollution in the world.

Since the sun is simply producing and providing the universe with great power on an everyday basis, it is safe to believe that it will provide the world with renewable energy at all times.

So how do the solar hot water heating systems work?

These sun powered heating systems are connected to a polar panel or any other electrical source which is connected to a solar power producing system. The panel or the power producing system is a module that is made up of photovoltaic cells working together to convert the sun’s energy to electricity.

This panel or electrical system is rated by its output which may range from 100 to 320 watts. One panel may or may not be enough to power an entire house but it may be good enough for one solar hot water heating system.

Therefore, if you are going to buy or order a solar panel or photovoltaic module, you should always consider the necessary power rating of the part you are going to use. One solar panel may be enough for powering one heating system but for a whole lot of solar hot water heating systems, you might need more.

To ensure that you will get the perfect power system for you heating needs, choose the panel with the appropriate rating then. For best result, avoid deciding on your own and ask the help of the expert on this matter – from your dealer or agent. This guy will surely know which panel rating is best for your current electrical needs so don’t take chances.

You know how bad the climate can be now that severe changes have been happening due to pollution and carelessness of people. Definitely, you wouldn’t want to add to these growing environment problems.

This is the main reason why you are seeking for a greener, cleaner, and renewable energy for your heating system. But that is not something that is wishful thinking because there are actually solar panel manufacturers and providers that are into this stuff these days.

Just make sure that you are able to get the correct rating and output for your solar hot water heating systems.

The Modern Energy Efficient Home

Making your home as energy-efficient as possible is a wonderful goal, especially if you own an older home, but making these modifications can be quite expensive and not very affordable for a lot of homeowners. The following energy-saving fixtures can cost a homeowner with an average sized house tens-of-thousands of dollars.

So for some, the following may not be feasible to implement into their homes; however, for those who have deep pockets and want to reduce future energy costs, you may check out the latest devices and systems to do so.

For most homeowners, there is a long list of affordable upgrades that can be performed with little expense other than materials and the time it takes to install them. The most important component of an energy-efficient home is its insulation. Start by making sure that your home is well insulation by inspecting attic space to ensure there isn’t any gaps, then moving on to windows and doors to make sure they make an airtight seal when closed.

For those seeking the most modern innovations in energy-efficient home improvement, check out:

Energy Efficient Home

Solar shingles – this marvel of modern technology produces energy just like solar panels; however, these are fully integrated into the roof and don’t clash with a home’s design.

Home automation – an integrated home automation system can reduce energy usage by controlling almost anything in a home at the touch of a button or swipe of the finger. Everything inside the home, from lighting and fans, air conditioning, alarm systems, cameras, and an array of other appliances may be turned on, off, or manipulated via smartphone, tablet, or internet device. Unfortunately, the price tag is in the tens of thousands for a fully automated system.

Electrochromic windows – homeowners can now control the amount of light, heat, and glaze allowed into the home with window glass coated with layers of electrochromic materials. These can darken in response to a low-voltage charge, but when the charge is removed the windows become transparent. A homeowner can then enjoy the sun’s warm rays in the winter and avoid the ray’s heat in the summer. Depending on the project these type of windows may run $50 a square foot.

Geothermal heating and cooling – a geothermal pump employs the insulating properties of the earth to provide heating, cooling, and hot water for the home. Water or antifreeze flows in underground pipes, carrying heat throughout the home during the winter months. In the summertime, the system draws heat from the home transferring it to the earth. This modern solution to heating and cooling a home can run about $20,000 with a payback period of seven years.

Pros and Cons of a Tankless Water Heater

When asked about whether someone should install a tankless water heater over one with a tank, it is hard to provide an appropriate answer without knowing specific details. If debating about the same question, it is important to consider the following aspects prior to making your decision.

Efficiency and Cost

As most homeowners already know, conventional water heaters are inefficient. When a hot water tank is present, energy is used to keep around 20 to 80 gallons of water hot so that it is ready to use. This method for producing hot water upon immediate demand is inefficient when compared to the other options, such as tankless water heaters, available today. Tank water heaters have become more efficient over the years but if having to replace or purchase a heater for the first time, why not go with the more efficient option?

The reason homeowners may not go with this option is because tankless heaters generally cost more up front. For example if replacing a water heater with a tank, a new venting system must be installed. Surprisingly, this can cost as much as the heater itself. Plus, if you don’t invest in an up-scale model that has earned an Energy Star rating, you could end up saving as little as fifty dollars each year.

Tankless Water Heater

Endless Supply

The upside is that in addition to being more efficient and saving homeowners up to forty percent on their energy bills (depending on the type of heater / energy source), tankless water heaters offer additional benefits. For example, if you have a large family or enjoy taking long showers, a tankless heater will provide continuous hot water. With a tank, after prolonged usage, the hot water can run out. Tankless water heaters provide hot water on demand as it is heated as needed. As a result, the supply won’t dwindle as it is being used.

The downside to this is that often, residential wiring is not a fit for supporting tankless water heaters large enough to provide hot water for multiple purposes. This is especially true for when your energy source is electricity. In many cases, homeowners would have to install multiple water heaters to meet all of their needs. In addition to this downfall, if your home has long water lines between the tank and the sources it feeds, a tankless water heater may not be your best option. If the water has a long way to travel, the cold water sitting in the pipes will be the first to shoot out.

Longer Lifetime

Tankless water heaters are known to have a longer lifespan. Known for lasting about twice as long as those containing a tank, tankless water heaters seem to win in terms of longevity. However, it is not uncommon for tankless heaters to require more maintenance and upkeep. With that said, you would have to weigh the options between the two if trying to determine whether the life expectancy of the product outweighs the costs associated with having to constantly maintain it.


Often the determining factor for why someone will swing one way over the other when it comes to tank versus tankless water heaters, is because of size. In smaller homes where space is limited, a tankless water tank may be the only feasible option. With being the size of a briefcase, tankless water heaters reign supreme in this category.

Going Green

Those interested in going green by purchasing energy saving products, will side with the tankless water heaters because numerous tanks are Energy Star certified.

Green Home Improvements: Eco-Friendly Flooring Options

As consumers are becoming more conscious of the environment and our role in its destruction, many have a serious interest in purchasing products that are more eco-friendly.

One of the areas we can make the biggest impact is in the home improvement arena; items such as conventional flooring and furniture are produced in ways that harm the environment on many levels; sustainable practices are also sorely lacking.

If you are interested in partaking in green remodeling efforts, a great place to start is flooring; here are some tips on choosing materials that allow you to be more eco-friendly without sacrificing quality or aesthetics.

Eco-Friendly Flooring

Suggestions for Hardwood

If you really want to buy hardwood but are concerned about the negative impact conventional production has on the environment (which is extensive), you do have some eco-conscious options. Look for products that carry the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification.

This organization has a rigorous certification process that carefully examines the forest management techniques in terms of how well it practices sustainability, limiting air and water pollution and reducing harm to wildlife and the local population. Products coming from FSC-certified forests were produced in a responsible manner and you can feel good knowing you made a ‘’green’’ purchase.

You might also consider buying reclaimed wood, which was once part of structures that have been renovated or demolished. It is in good condition and has been thoroughly cleaned. This type of wood often has a lot of ‘’character’’ and may be a good choice if you are looking for a unique look for your hardwood flooring.


Bamboo flooring is an excellent eco-friendly choice; this highly sustainable grass can grow back to maturity in as little as three to six years; compare that to trees typically used for flooring purposes, which can be 20 years and often much longer. It is also highly durable and certain types, such as natural uncarbonized and woven strand can be just as hard or even harder than maple and oak.

It is also highly resistant to water damage, hypoallergenic and super-easy to clean. Certain bamboo products are produced with adhesives that can emit harmful substances into the air called volatile organic compounds (VOCs)—you want to inquire about this when shopping.


Cork flooring is another good choice; it is a soft wood that creates a very comfortable walking surface. Like bamboo, this material is highly sustainable; the cork can be harvested right from the outer bark of the tree, meaning it does not even need to be cut down. It takes only nine years to grow back fully. It can stand up well to furniture and markings but is vulnerable to puncture by sharp objects.

Cork naturally contains a substance called suberin, which provides natural resistance to mold, insects and rotting. It also absorbs sound well and provides insulation.

Carpet Considerations

If you are more of a carpet person, you also have a lot of options in the eco-friendly department. Conventional carpet is problematic for a numerous reasons; materials are frequently made of petroleum by-products and adhesives and other materials used in the manufacturing process can be harmful to the health of the environment and you personally.

Look for carpets made with natural materials such as wool, sea grass, sisals and jutes. You also want to make sure the carpet is made with natural fiber backing and either has been made with limited use of toxic adhesives or substances such as natural latex. Opt for carpets that do not require padding or choose padding made from recycled materials.

When it comes to installation, look for water-based adhesives with low amount of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) or consider tacking.

Saving Money by Going Green

In this era of fiscal responsibility, every penny counts. Millions of Americans are going the extra mile to make sure that they are maximizing what for many is a reduced income level. While clipping coupons and avoiding ATM fees can certainly help ease some of the burden, there is a lot of money to be saved by going green. While some of the tactics listed below might involve some initial spending, in the long run the savings can really add up. These savings offer the additional benefit of offering savings not on a one time basis, but as a decrease in annual expenditure (and by the way, it also helps save the environment).

Save on Water

There are lots of great ways for the average homeowner to decrease their water consumption through some simple modifications. Most of these suggestions are fairly inexpensive, and can yield immediate results on your water bill.

Going Green

  1. Install low flow showerheads and faucets. There are numerous showerheads and faucets on the market designed to decrease the amount of water consumption while not sacrificing water pressure. Stop by your local home improvement store and ask about low flow faucets. Instillation is quick and easy, and by next month you should be seeing dollars back in your pocket.
  2. Check your pipes for leaks. One of the biggest wastes of water can be unseen leaks, which can cost you hundreds of dollars annually. Be sure to check your pipes regularly for any potential leaks, and use your water meter as a gauge by which you can measure potential wasted water. This is perhaps the quickest, easiest, cheapest, and most effective way to save money on your water bull.
  3. Install water efficient washing machines, dishwashers, and toilets. This option might be relatively more expensive, but can yield some impressive results down the road. Installing appliances that conserve water can save you hundreds over the course of their lifetime, and can more than pay for themselves. Do some research, shop around, and see what brands and models best fit your budget and lifestyle.
  4. Install greywater or rainwater irrigation systems. If you regularly water your lawn, installing a greywater or rainwater irrigation system might be worth the initial cost. Greywater is water that has been used in the home, but is still safe to be used with plants (faucet runoff, rinse cycles in your washing machine or dishwasher, shower runoff), while rainwater is simply collected rainwater from sidewalks, gutters, etc. These systems will generally cost more than the other ideas on this list, however the results can be dramatic, especially if you water your lawn with any frequency. There are companies that specialize in green building in Manitowoc that are more than familiar with these systems, and would be happy to assist you in the design and instillation.

Save on Electricity

Electricity can be another significant drain on a homeowner’s pocketbook. Many of these suggestions are again, very affordable, and can more than pay for themselves in as little as a few months.

  1. Install energy efficient light bulbs. This one is going to be the cheapest on this list, for if this is out of your price range, you might not need to read any further. That said, this tip is going to be very affordable, and depending on your usage, can pay for itself in a very short period of time (especially in those dark Wisconsin winters). Energy efficient bulbs require less electricity, and last significantly longer than conventional bulbs, so you will save not only on your energy bill, but on future expenditures on light bulbs. Energy efficient light bulbs are available just about everywhere light bulbs are sold, and are usually no more expensive than other alternatives, most costing less than a dollar more per bulb. With a life expectancy several times greater, the savings is immediate.
  2. Ask for an energy audit. Energy audits are inspections of your home to see where you are losing the most energy ($$$), to help you diagnose the cause of the problems, and offer solutions that can help save you money in the long run. These audits do cost money, and offer no direct returns, however they can help point you in the right direction when it comes to upgrading or modifying you home. If you plan on making any significant changes to your home, and energy audit should be your first step, and can help you save not only on energy, but on the costs of the upgrades.
  3. Install a high efficiency water heater. Water heating can be one of the largest single uses of energy in a home, especially in winter. Installing an energy efficient water heater can be a little pricy, but it can return significant results immediately on energy (as well as water consumption!). Many rebates are available online to help lessen the initial cost, so be sure to check the internet for potential savings in your area.
  4. Install energy efficient windows. The majority of heat lost through a home is lost through its windows. When people speak about rooms being “drafty”, it is almost certainly the result of poorly maintained and insulated windows. There are many types, models, and styles of windows available that can help you cut down on your energy bill by significantly decreasing the amount of heat lost. Be sure to shop around, as windows can be expensive, but these products are usually able to pay for themselves in just a few years (and you have new windows, decreasing future maintenance costs).
  5. Install energy efficient insulation. This one can be on the higher end, pricewise, but can return a significant amount of that money in a few years’ time. Adding additional, efficient insulation to a home can drastically decrease heating and cooling costs. Insulation of pipes can decrease the amount of energy that is put in to heating water, and you won’t have to run the faucet for an extended period of time to wait for the water to warm up, saving on water as well. This has the added benefit of making your home more soundproof, and outside noises more quiet.

While this list is fairly extensive, it is by no means all-inclusive. Be sure to check online for other tips to save energy, especially as technology continues to improve. Be on the lookout for more energy-saving tips in the future!


Greener Homes: Tips for Going Green

Nowadays, energy efficiency is at the forefront of the minds of many when it comes to buying home appliances. Whether you have just bought a new house, or are just looking to update your existing home with green friendly energy features, the following five energy efficient tips are ideal for any householder looking to do their part for the environment.

1. Roof insulation

Investing in the right roof insulation can prevent a significant amount of heat from entering your roof and as a result, your home can enjoy cooler temperatures in summer and warmer temperatures in winter. Aside from minimising your energy output, the benefits of going green also include reduced energy costs of the life time of your home, meaning you’ll be able to save money on other things – like home décor or a new swimming pool!

2. Window Glazing

In terms of energy saving, windows are often overlooked as the common energy-sapping culprits in your home. However, windows can be a significant source of heat loss in winter and heat gain in summer. By opting for double glaze and insulating glass, you can dramatically cut your house’s energy costs during the summer and winter months.

Greener Homes

3. Hot water Systems

Opt for gas hot water system with a 5-star energy efficiency rating – in the long run this can save you approximately fifteen percent of running costs. An even better energy efficient option is to install a solar hot water system which is now even cheaper to install due to the federal government’s solar hot water rebate.

4. Dishwashers

When looking for a dishwasher be sure to select one which has an energy efficient rating of 3.5 stars  or above. Each star equates to a thirty percent reduction of running costs, not to mention a reduction in water bills. Also be on the look out  for energy saving features such as half-load settings and water economy options.

5. Lighting

Halogen and incandescent lights are huge energy sappers. For a better greener alternative, opt for fluorescent light bulbs. Not only do they last on average eight times longer than regular halogen lights, but they use only twenty percent of than the halogen equivalent. If you swapped all your lights with florescent lighting, you could effectively cut 80% off your lighting bills.

So, whether you’re looking to buy a new house, or upgrade your existing home, keep these green tips in mind to help save both the environment, and money on your energy bills!

Go Green with Energy Efficient Lights

There is no doubt in the fact that saving energy resources has become one of the most crucial aspects in today’s world. Well, with the advancements made in the field of technology, various new methods have been introduced, which can play a substantial role in reducing energy consumption at each and every terrain.

One of the largest areas that need immediate attention is to find out an ultimate energy efficient lighting solution. Whether, it is about lighting up your homes or a street, it is very important to use electricity in an optimum manner. This is when eco-friendly lighting schemes come into play.

These go green lighting technologies don’t only help you to save your money by reducing the energy consumption, but more importantly it helps in protecting the environment. You can find various energy efficient light systems in the market, which use renewal resources of energy.

Though these resources have been available since a number of years, but most of the people were unaware of such advanced lighting methods.

Energy Efficient Lights

However, with time, more and more people are opting for such cost effective methodologies. You must always remember that lighting is a large sector, where you can actually make a huge difference for conserving the energy resources.

Well, you can find a lot of options available.

  • The LED lights are among the most popular ones.
  • LED or Light Emitting Diode has become quite popular all over the world, due to its low power consumption quality.
  • Starting from vehicle dashboards to traffic lights to home lighting, LEDs have been considered as one of the most common choices by people nowadays.
  • LED contains a special electronic component called diode, which allows the light to pass through it, thereby reflecting the light in all direction.
  • This technology gives the perfect scattered light at substantially low cost.

Apart from Led lighting technology, there are many other alternatives, which you can opt for.

  • Other energy efficient lighting solutions include solar lights, fluorescent bulbs and many more.
  • Solar energy is always been considered as one of the most popular natural energy sources for lighting up homes.
  • Not only lights, but also solar powered panels are used to operate various other electronic devices.
  • Well, you can easily find all the relevant details of such energy efficient light systems over the internet.
  • With an extensive online research, you can now install cost effective lighting schemes at your homes and offices.

Not only electronic lighting devices, but also you can go green with candles.

Yes, now with petroleum free candles, you can light up your homes in a safe and healthy manner. Such candlesticks are available in various fragrances. Various aromatherapy candles can also be used for lighting up homes.

Thus, with little knowledge about all the available energy efficient solutions, you can conserve valuable resources, while at the same time cutting your expenses to a significant extent. You must always keep in mind that a small change made at the right place can bring a great change to the environment.

Green Home Remodeling for Your Kitchen

When it comes to being greener, one of the biggest contributions a person can make is in the home; there are countless improvements that can make your house more eco-friendly and they are not always necessarily more expensive or complicated than conventional fixes.

If you are in the process of a kitchen remodel and are interested in making the space a bit more earth-friendly, there are numerous ways to  about this ranging from using more energy-efficient appliances to choosing more eco-friendly building materials for cabinets, floors and the like.

Energy Star Appliances

Our appliances account for a huge chunk of household energy use and choosing ones that run more efficiently are not only good for the planet , it is good for your wallet too. The refrigerator is one of the biggest energy drains in your house and choosing one with the Energy Star designation is a good step towards greener living.

These appliances have been rated by the government and found to reduce greenhouse gases and use energy more efficiently. They are deemed to work just as well as conventional appliances and if they happen to have a higher price tag, they are expected to make up the costs with additional energy savings.

Remodeling for Your Kitchen

Flooring and Cabinets

When it comes to eco-friendly flooring and cabinets, the options are vast. If you have your heart set on standard hard wood, look for products that were manufactured from trees found in forests certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). This certification indicates that the forest management practices support sustainability and minimize damage to the environment. Salvaged wood may be another good option—it is in good condition, thoroughly cleaned and can give your floor some ‘’character.’’

If you want the durability of wood but are interested in choosing a highly sustainable material, bamboo may be a good choice. This grass grows abundantly and quickly, making it an easily renewable source of building material. It is highly resistant to mold, mildew and water, and it easy to clean. You might also consider rubber, cork and tiles made from 100 percent recycled materials for your floor.


Like flooring, you have a lot of options for green countertops. Recycled glass is a popular option that can stand on its own or be mixed with other materials such as ash, cement. Bamboo is not just for flooring and you can find countertops made with this grass as well.

Other options include products made from agricultural wastes such as sunflower seed hulls, mountain stone and coconut palms.

Considerations for Paint, Sealants and Adhesives

Another environmental issue that surrounds home improvements is the use of adhesives and other chemicals in the manufacturing process of these products. You want to look for products made with water-based adhesives that are free of or contain low levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which are substances that are harmful for the environment and your health.

When it comes to the pain you choose, you can find a large selection of paints that have reduced levels of VOCs or are completely free of them—even major paint brands now are getting into the green trend so you should be able to easily find this type of paint in any home improvement store.