Sunday, April 9, 2017

6 Ways to Save Energy During Spring

By Stephan Kazanchian

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The weather is getting warmer; it's time to pull out the grill, call the pool cleaner back, and get those gardening tools out of the basement. It's spring! But spring also means it's time to look at how you can save the most energy and the most money.

Many Ways to Save

A lot of people can tolerate cold weather better than hot weather, which means, as the weather gets warmer and warmer, it will become increasingly difficult to fight the impulse to turn on the air conditioning and leave it on for hours. Fortunately, there are several things you can do to help keep your home cool without running up your energy bill.
  1. Take it easy on the thermostat:
    • Set the temperature as high as you can while still being comfortable. The smaller the difference between the indoor and outdoor temperatures, the lower your bill will be.
    • Keep the house warmer than usual when you are away, cool when you get home. Set "Away" and "Home" temperatures easily with a programmable thermostat.
    • Keep in mind: Your house will not cool any faster if you set the thermostat to a colder temperature than usual. In fact, this will likely result in unnecessary expense and excessive strain on the cooling system.
  2. Make the most out of your windows:
    • Prevent heat from getting in through the windows by installing window coverings such as blinds (interior and/or exterior), awnings, high-reflective films, draperies, shades, insulated panels, and shutters.
    • If you live in an area where it cools off at night, turn of your air conditioning and open your windows while you sleep. When you wake up, shut the windows and blinds to keep the cool air in, unless there's still a cool breeze. You can still get some good cool air into the house in the early morning before the sun starts hitting your house/yard.
  3. Turn on those ceiling fans:
    • By using your ceiling fans in combination with air conditioning, you can actually set the thermostat four degrees higher but remember that fans cool people, not rooms. If you leave a room, turn off the fan.
    • Turn on your bathroom fan when taking a shower or bath to remove the humidity and heat.
  4. Drop the water temperature:
    • Your water heater uses 18 percent of your home's energy-use. Turn the temperature down to 120 degrees F.
  5. Minimize appliance-use and artificial lighting:
    • Using the oven on hot days will make the house warmer and subsequently more difficult to cool. Stick to the stove, microwave, or grill outside.
    • Minimize using a computer or TV, running the dishwasher, or using hot devices like hair dryers.
    • Install efficient lighting that doesn't release much heat.
  6. Seal leaks to keep the hot air out:
    • Seal cracks to keep warm out from leaking into the house.
    • Add weatherstripping or caulk to seal leaky windows and doors.

Better for the Environment, Better for You

Image: Wikipedia.
Ultimately, anything we can do to save energy and conserve natural resources will benefit all of us, both directly in terms of personal cost-savings and indirectly in preserving our world for the future. At Vosh, we are committed to doing our part for the greater good, which is why our car washers use less than three gallons of water for each wash. Additionally, we offer waterless car washes. To learn more about us or to download the Vosh on-demand car was app, visit our website at http://vosh.me/.
Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/expert/Stephan_Kazanchian/2204333
http://EzineArticles.com/?6-Ways-to-Save-Energy-During-Spring&id=9676317

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Types of Eco-Friendly Home Siding


Eco-friendly wood and brick house: Image Wikipedia
There are several options for making your interior home environmentally-friendly. But what about your home's exterior? Can it also be altered towards eco-friendliness? Yes! A home's siding can be functional, visually appealing, and eco-friendly all at the same time! If you are in the market for new home siding, you may want to consider an eco-safe siding material.

Continue reading to learn the different types of common materials used for environmentally-friendly home siding.

Metal
Steel metal siding is a popular choice among homeowners with a "green" agenda. That is because most metal siding is made from recycled metal, such as junk cars or construction scraps. You see, metal is easily recyclable and abundant, so it is a viable source for eco-friendly home siding. It is also durable and easy to install.

Wood
Wood is a renewable resource. It is abundant, natural, and locally-sourced, making it a great option for eco-safe siding. It is also very easy to install, convertible, recyclable, and sustainable. Most wood siding comes from Douglas Firs, Cypress trees, Redwood trees, Pine trees, and Cedar. It is recommended to use wood materials that are Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) certified.

Brick
Although bricks are man-made commodities, they are constructed from renewable, natural resources like shale, clay, and water. This makes brick a wonderful, "green" siding option! It is made from natural resources so it is biodegradable and safe for the environment. And not only is brick siding eco-friendly, it is long-lasting. Brick can last for up to 200 years!

Rock
Although rock is not a common home siding option, it is an environmentally-friendly one. Using rocks is labor-intensive and time-consuming, but it renders a stunning look that holds up for years to come. Rock is a great choice because it is natural, energy-efficient, and locally-sourced.

Fiber Cement
Fiber cement home siding is made from recyclable ingredients like cement, sand, and wood pulp. And since the makeup of fiber cement emits few dioxins when burned, it is an eco-friendly option. It can be manufactured to resemble higher-end materials like wood or vinyl, but for a much cheaper cost.

Stucco
Like fiber cement, stucco is also made from using recyclable, natural ingredients, like water, cement, sand, and lime. This chemical-free combination gives stucco an eco-friendly appeal. It is also natural, energy-efficient, and easy to install.


Image: WikiHow
Contact a licensed general contractor for help deciding on important home renovations and repairs. They have the knowledge, skills, and resources to provide professional advice and service.
Call Restoration By L & B, LLC at 317-454-3612 for home siding installation in Indianapolis, Indiana. Their licensed general contractors have several years of experience and guarantee to beat any competitor's price. Choose them for everything, from simple handyman services to major home conversions, and more! Call 317-454-3612 to request an estimate for Indianapolis home remodeling, today.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/9583566

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Home Improvement Inspiration, Tips and Solutions for Home and Business Owners


English: Riccarton House with scaffolding for ...
House repairs (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Are you looking to add a little pizzazz to your current abode? Of course, there are some projects you can handle yourself, like adding a new splash of colorful paint to the walls, or changing up your decor. If you really want to make a change, it might be time to look for a reputable home improvement contractor. First things first: you should only hire a company that is licensed, bonded, insured and certified to perform home renovations, additions, and remodeling. That way you won't have to worry about losing money or losing sleep. What else should you look for?

1) Do some research and see if they are accredited by organizations such as the Better Business Bureau and Angie's List.

2) Visit the company's website, and look for examples of their work. If you're looking for specific improvements such as masonry, kitchen and bath, siding, roofing, drywall, home repairs, and additions, make sure they have experience in those areas, and check out pertinent photos and references.

3) Verify that they offer free home inspections and estimates. It shouldn't cost you anything to talk to their experts and make decisions about what work you need done before you make a financial commitment.

4) Find out what kind of warranty and guarantees they offer. Are they running any specials or promotions?

5) Look up their building contractor's license using the state's website, and make sure their license is current and valid.

6) Follow your gut instinct, and only choose a reputable company. Ask to see any customer surveys or ratings they may have.

It can be fun and exciting to transform your home office, bedroom, living room, or driveway. Your home is your castle, so why not show it off? If you are not a licensed contractor, it is not wise for you to attempt plumbing, construction, electrical or cement work. It can be dangerous. It's better to hire a company that has the proper training, safety gear and equipment needed to get the job done right the first time. An upstanding home improvement organization should offer affordable financing plans, loan options, fast service, and quality materials for your renovation project. It's amazing what a few changes around your house can do to improve your quality of life. Getting started is easy, start doing research now and you will find the perfect construction firm to give your house the "wow" factor.

Call Allpoint Construction at 734-407-7110 for your free home inspection and estimate. Meet your friendly home remodeling contractor and the #1 company in your neighborhood. For home improvement in Downriver, Michigan you won't find any better. Check out our website at http://www.allpointconstructionmi.com/ to see why we're the best. Look at our sample projects and browse photos. Your dream home is waiting! Be sure to like our Facebook page and follow us on Twitter, too.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/expert/Laura_A_Hipshire/2014115

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Does Apple Circumvent US Labor Standards by Outsourcing Production to China?

From our partners at Earth Talk:

Dear EarthTalk: Is it true that Apple gets around U.S. labor standards and laws by outsourcing production to China?     — Josie Walsh, New York, NY

Apple isn’t the only tech giant outsourcing much of its production to Chinese manufacturers nowadays, but the sheer popularity of the California-based company’s products makes it an especially easy target for activists concerned about worker health and safety. China Labor Watch and other groups have exposed inhumane conditions at huge Chinese factories of suppliers like Foxconn and Pegatron that support many U.S.-based tech firms. Workers at these facilities, many who are underage, are often required to work 18-hour shifts and are routinely exposed to toxic chemicals—but still can barely make ends meet. The problem came to a head in 2010 when journalists got word that 14 workers had committed suicide at Foxconn’s massive iPhone-assembly manufacturing facility in China.

China factories supplying US retailers. Image: D. DeMers
Another issue dogging Apple’s Chinese partners is worker exposure to toxic chemicals and a higher than average incidence of leukemia among employees. Apple agreed to discontinue using two of the worst offenders, benzene and n-hexane, after the non-profit groups China Labor Watch and Green America collected upwards of 40,000 signatures from consumers demanding action from the company. But China still allows its manufacturing sector to use several other carcinogenic chemicals long outlawed in the U.S. and Europe. Repeated exposure to these substances is another threat Chinese workers have to contend with when working on the assembly line making smartphones and other tech gadgets. 

Guangdong province factory, China. Image D. DeMers
Despite knowledge of the dangerous conditions, Apple’s Chinese suppliers rarely struggle to find workers, many of whom are willing to take the relatively high paying jobs despite the risks—especially if they are supporting loved ones at home who depend upon the extra money to survive.

China’s huge population creates an infinite supply of workers, such that even a large-scale walkout would be pointless. The assembly line system gives each person a repetitive, simple job that can be taught in an hour.

For its part, Apple continues to claim they are investigating the situation and doing everything they can to ensure satisfactory working conditions. In 2010, the company revamped its supplier responsibility standards and threatened it would terminate relations with Chinese manufacturers that refuse to toe the line, and also called for new audits on all of its “final assembly” facilities in China. Two years later, Apple became the first technology company admitted to the Fair Labor Association, a non-profit that conducts independent monitoring and verification to ensure acceptable workplace standards. While this affiliation doesn’t mean Foxconn, Pegatron and other Chinese high tech suppliers are beholden to standards as stringent as U.S. labor laws, activists consider it a step in the right direction and continue to keep an eye on the situation.

Of course, whether or not Apple steps up on the issue may depend more on if consumers are willing to forego the company’s products due to worker exploitation issues. And that’s not likely to happen anytime soon, as Americans and others continue to buy iPhones, iPads and Macs as fast as Apple and its Chinese partners can produce them.

CONTACTS: Apple Supplier Responsibility, www.apple.com/supplier-responsibility; Foxconn, www.foxconn.com; Pegatron, www.pegatroncorp.com; China Labor Watch, www.chinalaborwatch.org; Green America, www.greenamerica.org; Fair Labor Association, www.fairlabor.org.

EarthTalk® is produced by Doug Moss & Roddy Scheer and is a registered trademark of Earth Action Network Inc. View past columns at: www.earthtalk.org. Or e-mail us your question: editor@earthtalk.org
earthtalk@emagazine.com. 


Friday, May 23, 2014

From the Ground Up: Smart Building Product Choices for Homeowners

 

SidePartiallyPainted
House renovation (Photo credit: grongar)
Whether you're building a new house or remodeling a cherished older property, the product choices you make are critical to the long-term enjoyment of your home.

"I advise consumers to 'start from the ground up' when thinking about the product needs for their home projects," says Mark Clement, professional contractor and co-host of MyFixitUpLife home improvement radio show. "Invest time to research products so you're comfortable with the final outcome."

Clement says the basement is a great starting point. "The foundation selection can determine if you'll be able to use the basement for simple storage space or as an active living area," says Clement. "By starting with energy-efficient precast concrete panels from Superior Walls, you can get a basement that is dry and comfortable for year-round use that also adds resale value to the home."

Moving up the house exterior, the largest "holes" in the home need special attention. Of course, we're talking about windows.

"When you think that a pane of glass is all that really separates you from the weather outside, it becomes very important as to what that glass and its frame are made of," says Clement. "For my money -- and for my home -- we selected Simonton windows with fusion-welded vinyl frames and argon gas fill to maximize energy efficiency."

Other "holes" that need filling are the main entry door and secondary doors leading to your patio, deck or garage. Clement recommends fiberglass doors for the main entry due to their resilience to dents, dings and rot.

"I've seen many fiberglass doors in the Therma-Tru product line that either have a smooth finish for painting or have a realistic woodgrain that can be stained in oak, mahogany, walnut or cedar," says Clement. You can also "dress them up" with low-maintenance urethane and PVC trim pieces. "Decorative Fypon products I've worked with are easy to install, resist rot and insects along with adding curb appeal to the home," he says.

Finally, Clement reminds homeowners not to overlook the roof. The right roof selection can last for 50 years, while a bad choice could be "gone with the wind" if severe weather strikes.

"We invested in a DaVinci Roofscapes polymer slate roof for our home and have never regretted the choice," says Clement. "This composite roof resists impact, fire and high winds."

For additional ideas for your home, visit www.myfixituplife.com and download the free "FRESH Color Schemes for Your Home Exterior" e-book at www.sensationalcolor.com. Above article via (NewsUSA).

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Monday, March 31, 2014

The Benefits of Rain Barrels

Rain barrel on Philadelphia street.
It's been a long and tiring winter. Now that spring is here, things are beginning to look green again. Children are playing outside, buds are popping up on trees and spring showers will soon be sprouting gardens. With that in mind, it's a great time to be thinking about rain barrels - their importance in helping manage stormwater and how they can help you save on your water bill.

First, a bit on stormwater.

As communities expand with development, they become increasingly built up with impermeable surfaces such as big parking lots at big box stores. The result is that rain has few places to go; it hits the hard surfaces and just runs right off into our streams.

In urban areas, stormwater management has become a critical issue because of the adverse impact from combined sewer overflows on a watershed and a city's clean drinking water. A rain barrel helps limit this because it holds that first bit of rain coming off the roof or your driveway and prevents it from running into sewers and streams and causing overflow pollution and erosion from high flows of water.


Illustration of a combined sewer system
Illustration of a combined sewer system (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
In addition to helping the environment and helping reduce your community's need to build costly new grey infrastructure, rain barrels enable you to harvest rainwater for use with watering plants, lawns, mopping floors, washing clothes or washing cars. You don't want to use rainwater from runoff to drink or to water edibles in the garden - it may contain unknown contaminants. But there are a plethora of other uses.

The other side of this is that as you conserve water, you'll also benefit from saving on your water bill. And in Philadelphia, the water department has gone as far as to provide free rain barrels and workshops to city-dwellers.



See the short video below from the EPA to learn more about the great dollar and environmental benefits of rain barrels - a simple and effective investment to conserve water, save money, and help the environment.



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Thursday, March 27, 2014

Which Upgrades Are Worth It to Help You Sell Your House?

(NewsUSA) - Is it finally time to sell your house?

That's the question on homeowners' minds as house prices just posted their largest annual gain since 2005 -- congrats to those no longer "underwater" on their mortgages -- even as interest rates remain tantalizingly low. But here's the catch: Those same higher prices can make buyers as choosy as a Michelin restaurant reviewer.

"A house with a $1,600 mortgage payment last year now has a $2,000 mortgage payment," one broker told the Wall Street Journal. "Buyers are saying, 'I better like it.'"

To increase your home's "like" quotient, read on to see which upgrades are worth making and which aren't.

Worth It: A new front door. Strictly in terms of return on investment, a steel one topped the list of Remodeling magazine's annual Cost vs. Value Report for 2014 -- recouping 96.6 percent of the average price. But a fresh coat of paint can work wonders, too.

Not Worth It: A home-office remodel. We know what you're thinking: With so many more people working from home, wouldn't it be brilliant to rewire the space for electronic equipment, say, and install commercial-grade carpeting? Not really. The magazine gave it the lowest return on investment (48.9 percent), and the guy who oversaw the study says, "Home offices don't sell houses."

Worth It: A back-up power generator. It's the biggest gainer in the study, jumping 28 percent over last year, and plays especially well in areas brutalized by storms.

Not Worth It: Major bathroom work. "You could install the most spectacular jetted tub, and it still might not suit a buyer," says Patsy O'Neill, a sales associate with Sotheby's in Montclair, NJ. "Meanwhile, you'd have spent tens of thousands of dollars." That explains why it made Bankrate.com's list of "6 Worst Home Fixes for the Money" and why you should stick to things like re-grouting the shower.

Worth It: Roofing replacement. There's a reason this ultimate "curb appeal" enhancer consistently makes Remodeling's list and is up 11.2 percent over even last year: A roof is the first thing prospective buyers notice even before exiting their cars, and you can kiss that sale good-bye if yours looks like it's been through hell.

"It's a huge turn-off," says O'Neill, "and makes buyers predisposed to find even more things they don't like." For the look of luxury at very affordable prices, check out the Value Collection Lifetime Designer Shingles from GAF (www.gaf.com), North America's largest roofing manufacturer.

Not Worth It: Major kitchen renovations. Again, the key word is "major," and again it's a "taste" issue.

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