All posts by Washington Energy

Top 10 Ideas for Investing your Tax Refund in Home Upgrades – No Matter What Size your Refund Is

Home Improvement

Recently CNN Money reported* that the average tax refund this year is $3034, up 3% vs year ago. The last year we could find for Washington State specific data was 2011, at $2788**. Those are nice big refunds. So what can you do with it?

On most top 5 lists of “what to do with your tax refund”, you will find things like paying off debt, and fixing up your home. Updating your home is a great way to spend a tax refund. You get the enjoyment of living in an updated space and the investment benefit of increasing the value of your home.

Here are some ideas that can work for small, medium and large tax refunds, combining more comfortable living with greater home value:

 

Small refund- up to $500.

 

  1. Update your bathroom with new plumbing fixtures. A new modern faucet can transform the look of the sink or tub and create an up-to-date feel throughout the whole room. Add a water saving 1.6 gallon toilet and this mini-remodel will provide savings on your water bill (average is $200 / year vs older toilets). You’ll have more of that tax refund to spend on new towels and cushy bath mats.
  2. Freshen your inside air by having the heating system cleaned and serviced. Breathe easier with a duct cleaning, filter change and furnace maintenance. You improve the lifespan and productivity of your equipment and take all the dust and allergens out of your system.
  3. Up your safety with a water leak protection system. This affordable monitoring device will detect leaks and shut off your main water supply, potentially preserving your house and valuables. Tank water heaters of over 8 years old are prone to failing and leaking without notice. Dishwashers, washing machines and even water lines under the kitchen sink can fail as well. These leak protection systems are not just water alarms, and you’ll want to use a licensed plumbing or water heater contractor to install it.

 

Medium refund- $500 up to around $3000

 

  1. Tankless water heaters start at about $3000. Truly a case of affordable luxury meets improved resale value! Tankless water heaters fit natural gas or propane heated homes and provide 15% energy savings when water use remains constant. But more importantly you’ll get to fully fill that tub, or take a shower after the kids are done, without waiting for a tank to refill.
  2. Get cozier with insulation. Insulation will keep the house cool in summer and the heat in during winter. Not a sexy way to spend your refund but you’ll feel the difference in comfort.
  3. Give your house a facelift – with a new front door. From traditional to modern there are entry door looks to fit every style. Or maybe it’s a new patio door you’ve been thinking of. Doors have the #1 return on investment (along with siding) so you’ll be adding to the resale value of the home.
  4. Update your landscaping. Curb appeal works on more than just new buyers, it can lighten your mood when you come home to beautiful natural surroundings. Local landscape and yard service providers can ensure the job gets done right without you lifting a shovel. To make dollars stretch, buy new plants and materials yourself at the local nursery, and just hire the service providers for the literal, dirty work.

 

Large refund- $3000 and more

 

  1. Window replacement. . The technology that is used to manufacture windows continues to improve and 50 year old windows are not as quiet, insulating and energy saving as today’s models. You won’t be able to replace a whole house full of windows for $3000, but it will contribute significantly. Or if you have a mix of old and new windows, this is a great time to finish the project.
  2. Ensure your comfort year round with a whole house standby generator. You’ll only need it when the power goes out, but when it does, you’ll still be watching TV and your lights and appliances will still be on.
  3. Make your fun space a comfortable space. Heat and cool your garage, basement or addition with a ductless heat pump. It’s your bonus room but why not be comfortable year round, without the safety risk of plug in space heaters. Ductless heat pumps don’t require adding expensive duct runs in the walls and provide energy efficient heating and cooling. They can be a main heating source for a home, or supplemental for just those areas that aren’t in your heated space. Don’t worry if you don’t have gas to your garage, these run on electricity.

 

 

 

* CNNMoney.com 3/6/14

** Governing.com/gov-data, source IRS

5 Great Ways to Celebrate Earth Day in Seattle

Earth day comes once a year, and while can do something every day to improve the environment and live sustainable, this day is a great reminder to plan our contributions.

Here are five great ways to celebrate earth day in Seattle.

1. Schools are a great place to celebrate Earth Day.

All around the world schools are planning educational programs in sustainability for that day. In the US, EarthDay.org is sponsoring a green schools campaign improving the facilities, food, even the schoolyards themselves. The Earthday.org website is the official location for all things Earth Day. Educators can log in to get involved. They’ve tracked over a billion “acts of green” and you can get in the action locally.

green hands raising

2. Don’t be Idle-ing.

We’re not talking about vegging out on the couch watching TV, we mean idling your car. If you are going to be waiting more than a minute, turn it off. Contrary to the old urban legends, restarting the car does not burn more fuel than leaving it idling. In fact idling for 10 seconds wastes more gas than restarting the engine! And for every 10 minutes your engine is off, you will prevent one pound of carbon dioxide from being released. Every year, idling cars and trucks product over 130,000 tons of carbon dioxide. This green action is easy… kick the idling habit.

green car icon

3. Clean the air in your home, starting with the basement.

Even with the windows closed, air does flow through your house, coming from the unconditioned spaces, such as attic or basement, into your conditioned space where you live. This air can bring in contaminants such as molds, bacteria, and allergens, and also chemical compounds (VOC’s) from paint cans, weed killers, and other things stored there. While the true way to improve air quality is to air seal your home, one step in the right direction is getting rid of unused products to reduce those compounds. A nice Earth Day clean-up of the basement could include donating those extra cans of paint and chemicals, or store them in a detached garage, away from the main part of your house. (Always observe temperature storage instructions on products).

cap4

4. Watch the water.

Water is a precious resource and while we have had a lot of rain lately, we see how the rest of the Western US is suffering. A plumbing inspection (request now for $39) can pinpoint potential water leaks in your home, which avoids problems later, reduces your water bill and saves resources.

conserve water icon

5. Check out the SeattlePi online list of Seattle area earth day events to participate in or contact your local park.

Most of the larger parks have activities going on.

tree icon

Seeing the light; Top 8 questions about the light bulb changeover.

As of 2013 Manufacturers stopped making incandescent 75 and 100 watt light bulbs, and now as of January 1, 2014, they have stopped making 40 and 60 watt bulbs. Fortunately, your choices for safe, energy saving bulbs with attractive light output are increasing fast.

FREQUENTLY ASKED LIGHT BULB QUESTIONS

1. Which bulbs are discontinued?

40 watt, 60 watt, 75 and 100 watt incandescent bulbs plus the T12 and T8 flourescent tubes used in overhead lighting. The new generation of energy efficient LED, CFL, (HE) high efficiency incandescents and deluxe fluorescent bulbs will fit in your existing fixtures. While it might freak you out to pay up to $7.50 for a light bulb, the payback in energy savings and longevity makes up for that.

led bulb

2. What will I see in energy savings?

Studies say that changing out 15 standard bulbs for one of the more efficient options will save you $50 per year on your electric bill. * That could be $50 million for Seattle area residents**.

3. What are these new 40 or 60 watt incandescent bulbs at the store?

These are typically labeled HE, for high efficiency. The high efficiency incandescent has a filament that is insulated by a gas to reduce heat loss, but will retain the visual light you are familiar with from current bulbs. These new bulbs will save energy, can be used with a dimmer switch, and provide familiar color.

4. Is this ban of incandescent bulbs only in the US?

No. Governments around the world are supporting this initiative.  George W Bush signed the US bill into law in 2007.

5. Why legislate a change in light bulbs?

Huge Energy Savings. Traditional incandescent bulbs waste 90% of their energy producing heat instead of light. While that’s nice for your cat when it sleeps under a table lamp, it’s wasting energy. New bulbs use 28-85% less energy, and last up to 25 times longer. Here’s how the top ones stack up vs traditional incandescent bulbs. *

Type of Bulb Energy savings Lifespan vs old incandescent Approx. Cost
LED 80% less energy 25 times longer $7.50
CFL 75% 10x $4
Halogen 40% 3x $4
High efficiency incandescent 28% 3x $2

 

6. What about light bulbs that are used in grow lights for seedlings?

LED grow lights provide superior performance as they deliver more light output with less energy and heat production, and have a much longer useful life than current fluorescent or incandescent lamps. LEDs can be made in different colors to mimic the ranges of natural sunlight that drive maximum plant performance. These use standard bulb fittings, so they can probably fit into your existing grow light equipment. They come in a variety of wattages.

7. Should I use a CFL (compact fluorescent lamp) or an LED (light emitting diode), they both save energy, so what is the difference?

LED is our strong recommendation, and we suggest you turn down free CFL’s except for use as porch lights.

a. LED’s provide many benefits and prices are coming way down. They last longer than halogen or CFL bulbs, which is why they are used in headlights and TVs.
b.Importantly, LED’s do not have the toxic aspects of the CFL. The CFL bulb, while efficient, contains toxic mercury and disperses unsafe amounts of UV light. You cannot throw away a CFL bulb in your regular trash. Studies by reputable universities have determined that it is harmful to sit under a CFL bulb for extended time as the UV radiation can be detrimental.
c. The quality of light from either LEDs or Halogen bulbs is better than most CFLs. The CFL’s take time to warm up and share their light, plus most types cannot be used in a dimmer. The light that comes from these bulbs is not the same color as your current conventional bulb. It’s harsh… like turn on the lights in a bar at closing time harsh.

8. Are all incandescent bulbs going away?

The regular sizes mentioned are when retailer inventories are depleted, but specialty sizes such as appliance bulbs (for inside of your range hood or refrigerator), decorative fixture bulbs, 3 way bulbs, and other specialty bulbs will still be made.

 

Washington Energy Services has provided tailored energy saving solutions for Puget Sound area homes since 1957. For the best in energy saving products and services, call 800-398-4663 or click for more information.

 

* Reference: EnergyStar, Lighting choices to save you money, 2013.

** Based on an estimate of 1 million homes and apartments in Seattle and surrounding area.

 

 

Words of Wisdom from your Heat Pump

(courtesy of our Service Manager who has thumbs and can pen this)

Hello, heat pump here; did you enjoy your winter?

I have been working hard all winter, taking heat energy from outside and bringing it into your house. By the way, I have been delivering heat in the most efficient way for the PNW, saving you money on your utility bills.  To do that, I have been enduring wind, rain, sleet and even a little snow and whoa, what’s that bird leaving behind there!

I’m looking forward to providing you some air conditioning this summer too.  But to ensure that we get the winter wear behind us and are cool to cool, how about having a certified service technician come out and give me a tune-up.  Without it, I can lose up to 5% of efficiency per year and that costs more than the tune – up in the long run.

Here’s what the tech would do:

  • Remove dust, dirt and debris.
  • Test all operative parts in a 37 point diagnostic.
  • Go over my health with you.

It takes about an hour or so for a technician to tune me up.  They go through a 37 point diagnostic testing everything from the coil to the reversing valve to make sure everything is in tip top shape.  They will give you a detailed report on how I have been running and any issues that may reduce my useful life or lead to part failures.  It’s cheaper to maintain or repair than replace me.  If you could be so kind to give me a tune-up I promise to keep delivering the comfort, efficiency and reliability that you invested in!

Best,

Your Heat Pump

PS: My sister the Air Conditioner says, “me too”.

technician servicing heat pump

Grow your Resale Value with the Most Valued Home Projects

Before you go to the Home Show this year, check out these 3rd party assessed insights on which home improvement projects will increase your resale value the most.

Interest.com website recently published an easy to use list of the best projects for 2014, and we wanted to share them with you. This list is based on a survey by Remodeling Magazine and the National Association of Realtors, using national averages. Always remember that potential buyers are comparing your home to ones like it in the same area, so check out what your neighbors are doing too.

They cite just how much of the cost of an upgrade you can expect to recoup when you sell. It varies from 70% to 96.6% for their number one choice. These projects will help your house compete favorably on the market, and you’ll get most of your investment back. Of course, if you can shop around get quality installations at a bargain, or do it yourself, there’s no reason you can’t get more than your money back.

Here are their top projects in order of return on investment plus our comments.

1. Entry door replacement. The front door of your house serves several functions in upping resale value: curb appeal, energy efficiency, and security. They estimate that you recover 96.6% of the cost. So it’s a great upgrade to do.

seattle front door
2. Adding a wooden deck of 16 x 20 ft. Wood has a better return than composite due to cost of materials. Plus, you can enjoy the deck now and still get resale value later.

3. Siding replacement with a composite vinyl or fiber cement siding. This upgrade transforms the look of your home, and in other surveys tops the list. A secondary benefit is the transferability of the siding warranty. When you sell your home and can transfer all or part of a siding warranty to a new buyer, that adds value.

siding roi
4. Convert an attic into a bedroom. The survey projects an 84% return but this can actually have positive ROI (more than 100%) if you keep costs low. In smaller, older homes in the Seattle and Tacoma metros, having an extra bedroom can substantially change the value of the home. Don’t forget to insulate or your new bedroom will be the coldest spot in the house.

5. Garage door replacement. They recommend a midrange door that is uninsulated. It improves curb appeal and the price tag, typically under $1600, makes it easy on the remodeling budget.

6. Kitchen face lift. Doing a minor kitchen remodel can include new cabinet faces, hardware and even counter tops, flooring, paint, lighting appliances and modern faucets. This does not include changing out the cabinetry or structurally changing the layout. The article estimated a cost of $18,000 to create $15,000 in value, but it doesn’t have to cost that much. One of us sold a condo recently that needed a kitchen face lift. New granite counter tops from Pius Kitchen & Bath (in Sodo), a stainless steel under mounted sink, new stainless appliances, wood laminate flooring, new light fixture, plus modern hardware for the cabinets, cost all of $3800 and contributed to the successful sale.

modern plumbing

7. Window replacement with vinyl or wood windows (or wood clad) can add value to your home and create energy efficiency and greater comfort.

window roi
8. Finishing the basement. Popular ideas are creating a home theatre, multiple bedrooms and extra bathrooms in addition to laundry, storage and workshop areas. Due to our many hills, Seattle area homes often have daylight basements, where you already have above ground windows, even if the floor is dirt. This makes it easy to remodel into extra bedrooms (in short, a legal bedroom is defined as having a closet and window height that allows exit by window in case of emergency), adding resale value to the home.

9. Bathroom remodel. A basic bathroom remodel changes out fixtures such as vanities, countertops, mirrors, medicine cabinet, modern faucet and toilets or tub surround.

plumbing roi
10. Add a second story to the house. This is more for you than the resale, and as a major undertaking, something to research further. But it can double your square footage, and if you live in a neighborhood where houses tend to be larger, you may see great benefit. Check with a local realtor about prices if you are only considering this for resale value.

Washington Energy Services has been helping Puget Sound homeowners get their homes ready for sale or just for comfortable living since 1957. If you have questions about your next remodel, or want more information about the value of the listed products and services, visit us online at www.washingtonenergy.com or see us at the Seattle Home Show, February 15-23, 2014.

 

5 Basics about Air Sealing for Single Family Homes

Air Sealing has become the top home upgrade of energy efficiency experts, as it is an excellent way to increase your home comfort and reduce energy bills. Here are the 5 basic things about air sealing you need to know to determine if you can benefit.

1. Sneaky Leak Spots

There are more places where air leaks in and out of your home than you may be aware of. Most people recognize that air leaks around windows and doors, but this illustration from the Department of Energy’s Guide to Air Sealing*, shows 19 areas of the home where measurable air leaks can affect air quality and energy loss. For example, did you know that air leaks around every single electrical outlet and switch plate in your house?

air leakage and sealing

2. Find a Balance with Fresh Air Allowance

Every penetration through the sides, roof or underside of your home has the potential to leak if not sealed properly. That includes windows, doors, vents, pipes, electrical cords, hose bibs and more. But before you seal, you must determine how much fresh air is needed to ensure healthy indoor air quality and ventilation of combustion equipment. Without proper ventilation, harmful gases could remain in your house (such as carbon monoxide) and/or water vapor could accumulate presenting a danger from mold and mildew. When we talk about “combustion equipment”, this includes anything that burns a fuel, whether that is natural gas, propane, or wood. Examples are:

  • Furnace
  • Washer /dryer
  • Gas stove
  • Fireplace
  • Water heaters

3. Weather Stripping

The easiest Do-it-Yourself leak fixes are weather stripping doors and caulking windows. Materials to do weather stripping and window caulking can be purchased from most hardware stores and applied by the homeowner. Most window companies require caulking to be done in order to maintain warranties for their windows. So it’s a good idea to do it annually, or at least check it for wear annually. Caulking around flues, vents and pipes is recommended to be done by a professional contractor using caulking materials that are safe for the application.

4. The Fireplace Culprit

Your windows and doors may be closed and sealed, but there may be another big hole open for air to escape. Fireplaces can leak through the flue not closing tightly, through small cracks in the masonry chimney, or from the penetration of the chimney through the roof. During a home energy audit, air leaks from your chimney will be identified, but beyond that, chimney inspection should be performed on a routine basis, if only to make sure animals haven’t nested in it. The National Fire Protection Association says “chimneys, fireplaces and vents should be inspected at least once per year for soundness, freedom from deposits and correct clearances”.

5. Fact Check from Other Experts

According to the US Department of Energy “air sealing is one of the most cost-effective ways to improve the comfort and energy efficiency of your home. Hire a certified professional contractor for best results”. We didn’t make that last part up.

Consider a Home Energy Audit

A certified home energy auditor is trained to assess the air sealing and ventilation needs of your home. They use technology such as blower doors tests, infrared cameras and other measures to locate sources of air leakage and ensure adequate ventilation. The auditor is trained to look for safety and health issues, and local building codes. Why does this matter? Because you can actually over seal your house, locking in carbon monoxide from gas appliances.

Washington Energy Services provides BPI certified home energy audits and air sealing services. Learn more or take the home energy audit quiz and see if your home might benefit from an audit.

 

* Source “Retrofit techniques and technologies: Air Sealing – A guide for contractors to share with homeowners,” Vol 10., Building America Best Practices Series, Prepared by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and Oak Ridge National Laboratory for the US Dept. of Energy (April 12, 2010)

 

 

 

 

Green Resolutions Your House Can Keep in 2014

Happy green new year to everyone. We welcome the new year as a fresh start in many ways, whether it’s your personal resolutions, or in our case the business calendar. This month we’ll discuss ways to meet your Green resolutions for 2014 and also preview new products that we will be featuring for the first time at our upcoming home shows.

As we have mentioned in previous articles, our homes are an important part of the eco-system in the Pacific Northwest. They produce carbon dioxide, use fuel and create waste. When it comes to easy ways to improve your carbon footprint, there is no place like home.

So our top ways to achieve your Green Resolutions in 2014 are home related:

1. Get a Comprehensive Home Energy Audit and consider energy saving upgrades.

ghjghj
2. Switch heating fuel from expensive oil and propane to cleaner natural gas or renewable electricity.

home energy audit

3. Replace your CFL bulbs with LED bulbs that don’t contain mercury and won’t adversely affect your health with excess UV rays when their coatings crack.

cfl bulbs

4. Conserve water. The world supply of fresh water is declining. There are many things you can do from using rainwater barrels for plant watering systems to planting hardier, native grass that needs less water in summer, to installing a low flow toilet. Plumbing can be very green.

water conservation

The question that our Home Energy Specialists often get is, where do I start?

Over the past two years we have implemented a home energy audit division at Washington Energy Services, and it has transformed how we think about your home. Having a home energy audit is a great place to start, because it is starting with science.

Taking ‘the home as a system’ approach, our BPI certified home auditors conduct a thorough (3 hour) inspection including comfort issues, air quality, equipment performance and safety. Unlike a do it yourself audit, this involves specialized equipment that can pinpoint the source of your discomfort and energy loss. After the audit, you will receive a detailed report, highlighting all findings but establishing priorities for comfort and energy saving. This process and report alone can begin your journey toward greener living. Take the home energy audit quiz to see if your home could benefit from an energy audit.

We hope these 4 ideas for greener living inspire you. To learn more about home energy audits, contact us online or at 800-398-4663.

Home Shows 2014 – Preview of What’s New

Washington Energy exhibits at several major home shows in the January-March time frame, and we are excited to be presenting some new things this year. You can see us at the Tacoma Home Show, Seattle Home Show and our Energy Audit team will be at the Everett Home Show and Phinney Neighborhood Home Fair.

fujitsu seattle

Seattle Home Show 2013

Check back next month in this eNewsletter for a special Seattle Home Show ticket discount offer.

fujitsu seattle

SOME FEATURES THIS YEAR WILL BE:

A Tank Water Heater with a Lifetime Warranty

We couldn’t believe it either, having told customers for 55 years that tank water heaters only last 10 years. HTP has a great new tank called Everlast which is made of stainless steel and has a limited lifetime warranty – for your lifetime. While there is a consumable piece that must be replaced every decade, it costs about $300 installed, vs replacing the whole tank. What a great option for electric tank water heater customers.

fujitsu seattle

The Greenhomes House Energy Audit Doctor

We are bringing our certified home energy auditors to meet the public and answer questions about energy efficiency, home comfort, air quality and explain what an audit is. They’ll be giving their “can I benefit from an audit” quiz at the booth so stop by and take it.

Other Hot Items We’ll Have On Display

We will have on hand our popular working ductless heat pump, plus:

  • Tankless water heaters
  • Furnace
  • Windows
  • Doors
  • and more
  • Plus enter to win contests with no obligation, no hassle, just prizes.

Hope to see you at the 2014 Home Shows, but if you can’t make it, stop by our Showroom at 3909 196th St SW, Lynnwood WA 98036 Monday through Friday 8am-5pm. Or call 800-398-4663 and we’ll bring the products to you.

 

 

 

Whoa! My utility bills are too high!

It’s that time of year when we get that first utility bill of the winter season, and for some that’s a moment of “ouch!”. How to turn that “ouch” into an “ahh”? Here are top reasons for high bills and some options for lowering them.

My Electric Bill is Too High

Do you have electric heat? Every year rates do go up and keeping the same temperature you can have higher bills. Consider:

  • Switch from electric heat to natural gas if available on your street. There are great utility rebates from PSE, plus your ongoing heating cost will be about 25% lower.

  • Switch from baseboard heating to ductless or air source heat pump, to lower heating costs by up to 50% and get air conditioning as a bonus. Prices are coming down on ductless systems and there are excellent utility rebates up to $1500.

  • Add a programmable thermostat to lower the heat while you are not home. These used to be difficult to figure out but technology has improved, making it easy to lower heating costs by about 10%.

  • Maybe it’s not your heating system but an increase in cold air leaking into your house. Besides caulking windows and weather stripping doors, professionally air sealing and insulating your home can reduce drafts, and allow you to utilize less heating to achieve the same level of comfort.

  • And there’s always that one you don’t want to imagine… but it happens. Is your neighbor plugging something into an outlet on the exterior of your house?

My Gas Bill is Too High  

Do you have gas heat? Besides annual rate increases or a broken meter, there are several factors that could be causing an increase. Consider:

  • How healthy is your gas furnace? A furnace that is older and/or not maintained is using extra natural gas to keep up with your demand for warmth. Gas furnaces lose energy efficiency as they age and parts wear. The less efficiently it operates, the harder it works to keep a constant temp for you. The same goes for natural gas water heaters. If your heating system is more than 15 years old, your 90% efficient appliance might only be 80% at best.

  • Check for leaky ducts. A significant portion of your heat can be wasted by escaping through leaky ducts. Combine that with some plumbing or electrical penetrations that are not sealed in the attic, and your heat can just be pouring out of the house. This is something that most homeowners are not able to ascertain on their own. A certified Home Energy Auditor will use specialized equipment to measure the heat loss, air leaking and air flow of the home and show you how areas of concern.

  • Has the insulation lost its fluff? The EnergyStar folks at the US Department of Energy start their discussion of energy saving with insulation for a reason – it’s really the number one way to make a significant difference in the amount of heating you will need for your home. Right now there are great rebate incentives to add insulation and it can benefit homeowners with reduced heating and cooling costs.

  • Check your heat pump settings. If you have an air source heat pump attached to your gas furnace but still see your furnace turning on more than expected or using more gas than expected, you may have the heat pump set to switch over to backup heat at too high of a temperature. Heat pumps can get below 40% without having to switch over. Consult a professional heating contractor if you have a question about this.

  • Change your air filter (furnace filter) as scheduled. Clogged filters make your equipment work harder.
  • Check for a gas leak. A large leak would be something you can smell and you should call your utility immediately. Small leaks can happen in and around older gas appliances and in an open space like a basement or garage you might never smell them. This is also something that a home energy audit would test for.

If you have a propane heater or oil heat, you are in a different category of bills altogether. These fuels are up to four times the cost of gas or electric heat pump heating. Even if you want to keep your propane or oil fueled heating system, the same options are available to you to lower your bills. Just follow the items we have outlined under the Gas bill section, and you can see lower energy costs too.

We’ve heard it all, and we’ve helped customers with all of these situations, bringing their energy costs down and increasing home comfort. For your free estimate or for a service appointment contact Washington Energy at 800-398-4663 or click to send your request via email.

5 Easy Green Holiday Ideas

It’s ho-ho-holiday time, and what a great season to give the gift of GREEN living. Here are our top world friendly ideas for 2013.  We actually saw one blog that advocated just giving fewer presents ..okay that’s just wrong. We love to live it up at the holidays!

1. Buy Locally Made Presents.

Not only do you get to support your neighbor’s business but things that are made locally don’t have to be transported from the other side of the world. Less transportation equals less carbon emissions.

2. There are several Christmas Tree options that are greener than cutting one down.

Getting a tree with a root ball that you can replant is more common now than in past years, and many garden centers will have them. Just replant it when you are done, and it will clean carbon dioxide from the air for many years to come. And if you can’t fit it into your yard, some stores, such as Swanson’s Nursery in Shoreline, work with organizations who have sites for replanting.

Or for a little more radical approach, combine having a lit tree with lighting your home exterior to save energy. Just decorate a tree that is already outside of your house but visible from your living room or family room window. At night, it will shine right in. Then create fun decorations and recycle them after the holidays.

In addition, choose LED light strings as they use 75% less electricity than conventional ones and emit less heat. That way you can out-shine the neighbors AND save energy.

3. Stock your party with Eco-friendly liquors and foods.

You may already shop organic but did you know there are “green” spirits. For those who imbibe, they can create an organic holiday cocktail with certified organic vodka, rum or gin and some organic juices. An online search of “organic vodka Seattle” will point you to several local distilleries (so you can get credit for idea #1 too!).  Even national brands now have organic options, for example, American Harvest, an organic vodka from the makers of Grey Goose.  (And of course, drink responsibly).

4. If you are giving toys or electronics that are battery powered, also give a rechargeable battery and charger kit.

This saves money on batteries and hazardous waste in landfills.  And give the gift of a power strip with new computers, TVs, games or audio systems. It’s easy to save electricity by turning the strip off when not in use.

5. EnergyStar.gov (the Department of Energy) says this is a big time of year for home appliance purchases.

Are you getting a washer/dryer set for someone special? (Yourself!). Choose appliances that are EnergyStar qualified, as they are engineered for energy savings. Some EnergyStar appliances may cost more upfront, but will save enough energy to be worth it over their lifespan.

Washington Energy Services wishes you the happiest and green-est of holidays. We carry the best EnergyStar qualified heating and window products and will be here 24/7 if you need assistance, at 800-398-4663.