Buy yourself a gift that keeps on giving

Gifts bring great joy to all of us. To receive a gift or to give a gift is something everybody looks forward to.

Whether it is a birthday, a wedding or Christmas deciding the right gift is not easy. You want to be creative, unique and the want to make the occasion special for your loved one. There are lots of ideas going around and countless gift shops. You can even order gifts online. But it is not just the gift but the thought you put into it that makes all the difference. So instead of buying something which gives momentary pleasure and is a gift like everybody gives, why not try something which will keep giving, especially in the form of saving money in future? For example you can gift Energy Star rated home appliance to your friend. This would not only be useful but save energy too and be a small step in reducing her home energy bill. There are also some options where a small amount of the cost of the gift goes to a charity organization. Each gift you buy helps in providing a need of someone you don’t know.

But this Christmas season, how about gifting yourself and your home an unique gift which gives as long as you live in your home? Wondering what I am talking about? So here is what you can gift yourself- energy efficient windows. But my house has perfect windows you would say. Why change them? The answer is they make your home energy efficient.Again don’t be surprised. What have windows to do with energy efficiency? Let me tell you how replacing your old window with new energy efficient ones helps-

  1. Prevent loss of energy and air infiltration:  It is estimated that apart from the gaps in the roofs and walls due to the penetrations caused by plumbing and electric wiring, almost 50 percent of heat gain or loss happens through windows. This naturally puts a strain on your heating and cooling systems increasing the energy consumption and resulting in high energy bills. Heat loss and air infiltration also makes your home uncomfortable and even unhealthy in the long run. Foam enhanced window frames made of wood, fiberglass and vinyl with weather stripping ensure better sealing and additional insulating properties against hot /cold air.
  2. Long lasting and easy maintenance:  The window frames are sturdy,durable and don’t warp or rot easily. They are easy to open and close and can be cleaned easily.
  3. More light and energy efficient glass: The windows come with special glass which brings in more light in to your home. Champion windows come with exclusive high performance glass which helps keep the heat in during winter and the heat out in summer. This not only saves energy but keeps your home comfortable all through the year. Fading of carpets, furniture and drapes is also avoided because the glass shields the interior from the harmful ultraviolet rays.
  4. Excellent insulation and reduced noise: The windows are double pane or multi pane and filled with non toxic argon or krypton gas between the panes. This ensures excellent insulation preventing condensation and a quieter home with the sound kept out.

You can then considerably reduce the operating cost of your home by lowering your utility bills and even enhance the look of your home. Plus you get tax credit from the government helping you save more money. Then, go ahead and call Champion. They will offer you a no obligation free consultation and once you choose the right style from all the options available, they will come and install it for you.

So this Christmas, gift yourself this unusual gift and be glad every time you see your energy bill. Enjoy the comfort of your home, the bright light streaming in and be thankful for the gift that kee

5 things you should do to make your home energy efficient.

Go Green, save energy, save the environment- you read about this everywhere, banners, posters, television. And forget about it. You think, saving energy is for others. But with the growing energy crisis, environmental pollution and erratic climates, it is high time each one of us takes it to heart and pledges to save the environment by saving energy. Every step you take will  make a difference. Start by making your home energy efficient. It also helps you save money by cutting down the energy bills. Here are some ways you can start-

Switch off and unplug: Switching off the lights and appliances and gadgets when not in use may sound very simple, but that is a habit we need to seriously cultivate. Unplug the devices to save more energy. Neglecting this costs a US household approximately $ 100 a year. Also use daylight whenever possible.

Thermostat:  Install a programmable thermostat to control the heating and cooling systems of your home and lower the thermostat of your water heater to 120 0 F.

Home appliances and light bulbs: Replace all old appliances like refrigerators, ovens, washing machines with latest energy efficient models. Buy products with the Energy Star label. They are energy efficient and meet the guidelines set by U.S Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S Department of Energy. Lighting consumes 10 percent of the energy in your home. Using energy efficient LED lamps can save energy. You also save money because they last longer and don’t need to be replaced often. Regular maintenance of the air conditioners, furnaces and heat pumps will also help save energy.

Water heating: About 14 to 25 % of energy is consumed by water heating and it amounts to almost 12 % of the home utility bills. By reducing the water temperature to 120 0 F, you can save considerable energy. Insulating the pipes connecting the water heater will prevent heat loss and again save energy. Use cold water for washing clothes and dishwashing and wash only full loads to save water too.

Air leakages: The most overlooked and underestimated aspect is the loss of energy through gaps in windows, doors, recessed lightings, HVAC ducts etc. in your home. Air sealing and proper insulation will cut down the loss of energy and put less strain on the heating and cooling systems. Cutting down the energy consumption will bring down your energy bills significantly. Another important thing you can do is to replace your old windows with energy efficient windows. Energy Star rated windows like Champion windows come with excellent air sealing and insulation. These windows are double paned and have special energy efficient glass which helps to keep the heat out in summer and heat in during winter. This automatically reduces the energy used for heating and cooling. The glass not only lets in more light but also protects your interior from harmful ultraviolet rays which can damage the curtains and upholstery.

While it is possible for you to follow most of the steps on your own, getting a home energy audit to thoroughly assess the leakages and the loss of energy in your home as a whole will be extremely beneficial. The auditor will inspect every part of your home, assess the energy usage of your appliances and analyze your energy bills. He will then suggest the necessary changes and upgrades you have to do to make your home energy efficient. You can then be sure that the money you are investing now will help you save money later in energy bills.

An energy efficient home is a comfortable and healthy home. Making your energy efficient is no more an option. It is a duty and responsibility every person has to take. See that you use every resource water, electricity and even food carefully.

Types of roofing materials to choose for your house

It’s that time of the year when you have to change your old roof which has been leaking and creaking all this while and you’ve been consciously ignoring it for god knows how long. It’s reached that critical stage where it might rain indoors! Either that, or you’re one of those lucky people who’re designing their new homes and need to start from the bottom up and you’re looking to put a roof over your head.

I recently changed my roof and I’m guilty of the first charge. I had a pretty tough time choosing a material for roofing and I’m here to give you a heads up about all the materials that you could select for your own house. I went back and forth between a couple of materials, weighing their pros and cons when it comes to cost, look and even energy efficiency. Here are some roofing materials available in the market that I looked at:

  • Asphalt

Shingles made from this material are more widely used because they are relatively cheaper than the others. It’s fire resistant and quite easy to install which is a plus for a do-it-yourself home remodel. These shingles can last up to 25 years and can cost as low as $50.

On a personal note, I gave asphalt the top spot because this is the material that I ended up using. I chose the Camelot II shingles from Champion because I’m a huge nature-lover. These shingles are eco-friendly as they use less asphalt. They are also more energy efficient as they are more resistant to extreme weather which spells in lower power bills.

  • Wood

You can use wood shingles to give your home a more earthen, classy appearance. They’re usually made of cedar, redwood, or southern pine. They might look beautiful but are pretty hard to maintain and last up to 25 years. Also, they’re not fire resistant which is a huge downer. Another negative is that they cost twice as much as asphalt shingles.

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  • Metal

Different metals such as aluminum, steel and copper could be used. This material is extremely durable, fire retardant but also really expensive starting at about $250 per square. The maintenance cost is an additional headache. One advantage of using this material is that its energy efficient and recyclable. The only thing that stopped the nature buff in me from using it was its high cost.

  • Slate

It’s fire-proof, easy to maintain and also gives your home a Mediterranean vibe. But this vibe comes at quite a high cost of about $500. It’s also pretty heavy which makes it difficult to install. Leave the installation of these shingles to professionals. These shingles will, however, outlast the rest of your belongings so they might just be quite an investment.

  • Clay

If you’re choosing shingles only for their appearance, this one would be your best bet because they look great. Clay tiles last long and are easy to maintain and are also flame retardant. But they are also slightly on the expensive side starting at $300—looks come at a price.

  • Grass

Here’s one quirky option for those of you are willing to think out of the box and want to experiment. Grass! I’m not kidding, by the way. You can design your roof in such a way as to support a garden with living plants. It will provide your home with great insulation. A lot of modern cities are adopting this trend. The only problem is that green roofs are on the heavier side and some existing buildings cannot be retrofitted with a green roof, which is why I didn’t choose this option.  But this is a great idea for those of you who are planning to build your homes from scratch.

 I have given you quite a number of options with their pros and cons. Now it’s up to you to decide which one these suits you best depending on your requirements. Remember that choosing the right material is only the first step. It’s important to install the shingles correctly in order to avoid leakage. Different materials will give your home different appearances—so don’t say I didn’t warn you. I hope my experience helps and you have a great time remodeling your home!

Replace your windows and save energy

When you talk about saving energy and going green, replacing windows is the least you would think about. Replacing windows costs a lot of money but will prove a boon in the long run. You will have a healthy, comfortable and quite home apart from the lowering of your energy bills.

Like most of the things, windows wear out with time. A thorough inspection of your windows will give you a fair idea about the condition of your windows. You can do a simple check for drafts by holding a lighted candle in front of the window edges. A flickering candle indicates drafts coming in. Inefficiently working windows which are difficult to open or close, deteriorating or warped frames, condensation on the glass is an indication of more air infiltration into your home or leakage and lack of proper insulation. This will overload your heating and cooling system, shooting up your energy bill. Weather stripping or caulking help in sealing to some extent, but are temporary fixes. They too wear out with time. Windows are said to account for almost 50 percent of heat gain or loss through your home. Replacing windows is the best option especially if you house is old and is fitted with old non energy efficient windows.

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So as you replace your windows, the most important aspect you should consider is the energy efficiency apart from the aesthetics. Here are some things you would look for in an energy efficient window.   Wood, fiber glass or vinyl frames provide better sealing and insulation and are more efficient than metal frames. Ensure that the windows fit tightly into the opening to avoid air infiltration. Since windows bring in light into the home, the glass used should let in more light. Look for double pane argon enhanced special purpose energy efficient glass . This helps to keep your home cooler in summer and warmer in winter . Your home will also be quieter due to their sound reduction property. The most common problem of the curtains and upholstery fading due to harmful ultra violet rays is also eliminated with this glass. Champion windows have all these features and also have the Energy Star rating which means they meet all efficiency guidelines set by the Department Of Energy. They also have the Good Housekeeping Seal for quality and reliability. The windows carry lifetime warranty and you will have no contractor headaches as their professionals come and install the window for you.

Since replacing windows costs money, it is wise to have a home energy audit done for the whole house to eliminate other causes of heat loss or gain. Apart from windows, heat enters or escapes through attic floors, recessed light fixtures, ducts and other penetrations in to the roof or walls. Proper weather stripping, air sealing and good wall insulation is necessary along with replacing the windows to make your home energy efficient and comfortable and save significantly in your energy bills.

If you are hesitating to replace the windows because of the high cost, you need to know that the government offers low interest loans and even tax credits for installing energy efficient doors and windows and buying energy efficient appliances. With all these benefits, you will have a healthy, peaceful, energy efficient home not to forget the reduced energy bills.

So go ahead and replace your old windows with new energy efficient ones and experience the difference in your home. Enjoy the good light, quietness and warmth in your home. And then you will also have peace of mind, because you don’t have to worry about your energy bills.

 

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