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Posts Tagged: going green

2015 top home trends for a green makeover

Posted On: Filed Under: Doors, Insulation No Comments on 2015 top home trends for a green makeover

 

Bright bold rooms

One of this year’s top home trends is to add a blast of color. But can stinky paint really be environmentally friendly? The smell of fresh paint in a renovated home or apartment can bring back memories… of headaches. Traditional interior house paints give off strong airborne chemicals not only while you are doing the painting, but for years afterwards. These are called volatile organic compounds or VOC’s. They are known to cause headaches, dizziness and other illnesses, and contribute to indoor air pollution.

Over the past few years, major paint brands such as Sherwin Williams and Benjamin Moore have developed lines of “no” or “low” VOC paints. These are water based paints with less than half of the VOC’s of regular paint (0-200 grams vs regular paint at approx. 400). Benjamin Moore’s Natura® paint line claims zero VOCs which would make it the greenest paint. To learn more about VOC’s and find safer paints, go to the handy Greenguard Certification site. GreenGuard helps consumers to “identify interior products and materials that have low chemical emissions, improving the quality of the air”. It is a division of UL (Underwriters Laboratories), the non-profit who tests and certifies US appliances and equipment for safety.

 

Insulate with plants

Adding insulation to save energy is great for conservation as it is, but that benefit increases when using cellulose insulation. Cellulose is the most eco-friendly insulation because it is made of up to 85% recycled paper.

Instead of harmful chemical fire retardants and insecticides, it is typically treated with borate, a natural compound (from boron), that does the job. Boron is safe and is an essential micronutrient used by plants to enable them to grow and flower. Borates are now commonly used in wood building materials, including decks, siding, furniture, and in this insulation. As an additional eco-benefit, cellulose insulation is “blown in”, literally hose fed into your space, so there is no waste created in the install process.

Insulation being blown in through a hose

 

Lighting inspired by nature

Decorative fixtures can transform the look of your home. Many designers and lighting retailers highlight natural styles and functional art derived from the world around us. These styles from nature use wood, shells, mica, rattan or wicker, and glass. They are both beautiful and promote the use of renewable materials.

Rattan Lamp for natural lighting

Whether its wall sconces, chandeliers, recessed spot lights or lamps, energy saving can also come from the bulbs you choose. All of today’s bulb choices are more energy efficient than the old incandescent bulb. LEDs are the most efficient at 75% energy savings and also the longest lasting, lighting your way for 25 years. LED light is a different color, and can seem brighter and cooler than the old 60, 75 or 100 watt bulb. Manufacturers now put helpful labels on them such as “equivalent to a 75 watt bulb” but that only refers to wattage, not light color. If you prefer the traditional warmer light of incandescent bulbs, try eco-incandescent light bulbs. These have 28% energy savings vs old incandescent bulbs, but have the same color, sizes and price point.

 

Recycled or renewable doors

Recycled Fiberglass Door

According to Remodeling Magazine’s 2015 study, replacing your entry door is the number one home upgrade to increase resale value . There are several eco-friendly replacement door options, starting with fiberglass doors. Fiberglass is made of a combination of vinyl, which is a plastic, and silica from sand, which is natural. This makes for a partially green but really strong, long lasting door. One that is ready for our Northwest weather.

Wood is a beautiful, renewable door material but wood doors are not always 100% green. ‘Solid–core’ doors have a fiber composite or non-wood core inside of a wood veneer exterior. This makes the door less prone to warping, but the tradeoff is that the core materials may include chemical adhesives or plastics. ‘Solid-wood’ doors are typically made up of wood panels that are glued together. Recently, zero VOC and formaldehyde free glues, plus water-based insect and rot treatments have become available, increasing the benefit from choosing wood. Rogue Valley wood doors are made from sustainably managed forests, adding an additional layer of environmental conscientiousness.

Looking for a DIY project? Vintage wood doors can be beautifully refinished. Used wood doors with classic hardware can be found at local Seattle resale retailers such as Second Use Building Materials, Earthwise Salvage, Ballard Reuse, and at Re-Store, which is now located in Bellingham.

Washington Energy offers energy saving products and services including insulation and doors. Contact us to learn more.

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How are our green habits?

Posted On: Filed Under: Home energy audit 1 Comment on How are our green habits?

 

Green Habit Infographic

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Green resolutions your house can keep in 2014

Posted On: Filed Under: Home energy audit 2 Comments on Green resolutions your house can keep in 2014

 

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.

home-audit-collage

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

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.

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.

dreamstime_xxl_6491716

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.

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.

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5 easy green holiday ideas

Posted On: Filed Under: Windows, Heating No Comments on 5 easy green holiday ideas

 

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.

 

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