Archive | HOME AND GARDEN

3 Tips to Safely Install Eco-Friendly ICFs In Your Home’s Foundation

ICFs (Insulated Concrete Forms) are becoming an increasingly popular option for eco-friendly homeowners looking for a major sustainable boost. According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, ICF walls can save homeowners 20% to 25% on annual heating and cooling costs, and they have countless other sustainable benefits as well. Of course, as is the case with any large-scale home improvement project, extra care during the installation process is critical to ensure proper use and prolonged durability upon completion. Here are just a few quick ways to stay safe and properly install ICFs in your home’s foundation.

Cover Up

Before you start this lengthy project, it’s important to suit up. Though this project, in particular, isn’t inherently dangerous, it’s always best to cover up with the appropriate protective gear to avoid injury and damage to the material. Since ICF forms are available in various shapes and sizes, those working with larger or heavier forms may feel safer wearing some sort of protective helmet or headgear. Helmet head liners typically only break in about 5%, but you never know when a helmet could protect you from injury in the event of a bizarre accident.Similarly, if you’ll be working outside during the daytime, it’s always important to protect your eyes from the harsh rays of the sun. About 75% of U.S. adults wear Rx or plano sunglasses, and protective eyewear is essential during any activity that involves you being outside for an extended period of time. Once you’re equipped with the proper gear, you’re ready to get started with the challenge of the installation process.

Mark Clearly and Place Forms

Once your building plan is in place, be careful when making your final markings that indicate exactly where you’re building. The layout on the ground should be to full scale to avoid discrepancies with measurements. Chalk powder is a great resource for marking the layout.

Precise measurements are necessary to dig the trenches as well, and they, too, should be according to scale.

“Once you’ve gotten everything marked, you will need to dig trenches for the foundation footings…The trenches should accommodate the insulated concrete forms securely without a lot of room on either side. With the trenches dug you can place the insulated concrete forms in the trenches,” says DoItYourself.

Don’t Rush Cure Time

Finally, once your ICFs are installed properly, they’ll need to cure for a set amount of time, which is usually around 28 days. Though you’re probably eager to continue the installation process, like rewiring, it’s essential to wait the full time to ensure proper adherence and durability. Don’t compromise the structural integrity of your ICFs just because you’re impatient — the wait is 100% worth it for the sustainable benefits.

Ultimately, installing ICF forms is undoubtedly a major home renovation project. Unless you have significant DIY home improvement experience, it’s always best to leave the job to a professional who’s worked with this material before. But as long as you take the proper care and ensure correct installation, you’ll be able to enjoy the benefits of your home’s new ICF forms for years to come.

Keep These Tips in Mind For Smart Recycling During DIY Home Improvements

When homeowners think of DIY home renovation projects, they usually think of the work involved with the process itself, not the aftermath that comes with disposing of old materials. But properly disposing of these materials is critical, lest they end up as a space-hogging eyesore in your garage, shed, or basement. Keeping your storage space clear and the Earth in mind after any DIY home improvement project isn’t difficult; it just takes a bit of planning and prior knowledge. Here are just a few tips for properly disposing of the materials for any home improvement project you’re considering tackling this season.

Paints

Once you’ve finished a project involving paint, the last thing you want to do is throw the entire can in the dumpster, especially if there’s still some paint remaining. What you can do is donate any leftover paint to a neighbor, local community theater, or Habitat for Humanity. On average, it costs $30 per ton to recycle trash, and $50 per ton to send it to a landfill, so do your best to make sure no unused paint ends up in the trash.

As for empty paint cans, most are made of steel, which is among one of four of the most common metals used within the construction industry. With this in mind, they can be recycled, along with some other types of steel waste, including pipes and plumbing. If you’re unsure, contact your local waste management center.

Unneeded (But Still Usable) Appliances, Cabinets, Doors, Etc.

There’s a huge list of common home renovation materials that can be recycled. But before you resort to recycling, the U.S. Green Building Council highly recommends doing your best to donate, reuse, or otherwise repurpose these materials, which include appliances, bathroom fixtures, doors, flooring, ceiling tiles, bricks, cabinets, lighting fixtures, windows, pipes, landscaping materials, and more. A quick Google search will also reveal a number of programs designated to sustainably recycling a number of these renovation materials. And if all else fails, simply snap a quick photo of whatever it is you no longer need and post it to Craigslist under the ‘free’ section.

In 2016, the U.S. construction market was worth approximately $1,162 billion, but what’s even more shocking is that an estimated 30% of landfill waste comprises home renovation project materials, according to HomeAdvisor. With these statistics in mind, it should come as no surprise that proper construction material disposal can seriously increase sustainability.

“Recycling debris from a home remodeling project is not only good for the environment, it’s also good for your renovation budget. What you recycle can constitute a tax write-off, and some companies will pay you for the materials. From shingles to bricks, approximately 85% of all construction waste can be recycled, which means those numbers can add up. There are many ecological and economic benefits of recycling, instead of trashing, renovation debris,” says HomeAdvisor.

While disposing of old materials properly is always a smart and sustainable initiative, don’t underestimate the impact that you can have by going full circle and purchasing products made with recycled materials for your next home improvement project. For example, today, more than one-third of new paper is made with recycled fiber. The bottom line is that by keeping the Earth in mind through each and every step of the way, any home remodeling project can be performed as efficiently and sustainably as possible.

Spring is Almost Here! Turn your Garden into a Magical Eco-Friendly Haven!

NOTE FROM SWEET GREENS: Thank you supporting the companies that keep Sweet Greens in business.
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A beautiful, well-kept garden can be the best part of any home. It’s a perfect spot to get close to nature, watching butterflies and bees hover around flowers. It’s also an ideal location to relax after a busy day at work or looking after the children. A garden can be at its most magical in the evening, but too many people head indoors as the sun sets. Here are three ways to enjoy your garden in the evening, turning it into a central feature of your home right round the clock.

Install Night Time Landscape Lighting

It’s hard to enjoy the beautiful sights of your garden in darkness, but you can give nature a hand with the latest technology by installing landscape lighting from factory direct companies, which can help reduce landscape design project costs. When planning your lighting project consider path lights, well lights, or lights that are positioned in trees, so you can have evening lighting that’s subtle or strong to suit your taste. After your project is complete, you’ll be able to enjoy your garden’s beautiful light, when nature’s lights go off. This is especially useful on warm summer nights, and evening illumination can create a truly magical feel.

To learn more about night time lighting projects, visit: https://www.voltlighting.com/

Warming Up Those Cooler Nights

Even with the perfect garden lighting in place, you still may prefer to relax indoors at certain times of the year when evening temperatures start to dip. This problem can be fixed with the addition of strategically placed patio heaters. These can be placed next to the popular spots in your yard, such as, a garden bench, table, or garden building, and they make sitting outside a pleasure despite the cooler temperatures. The latest models of heaters are also designed to be environmentally friendly, which can help you “green” your garden even more!

I know what you’re thinking – running lights and heaters outside uses electricity. There’s got to be a more eco-friendly way! You know I wouldn’t let you down. Check out these VERY affordable solar panel kits! Just charge up your batteries during the day, and you’ll have enough power to keep you warm and glowing all evening long.

A Perfect Place To Entertain

Do you like to host dinner parties in your home? One of the most enjoyable parts of a dinner party is when guests gather together to share entertaining stories. Guests often gather in the living room or in the dining area itself, but your guests will be even more impressed if they gather in your garden. With lighting and heating in place, a garden room or gazebo is an ideal place to meet and greet guests or to entertain them before dining. Gazebos and garden rooms come in all sizes, and as they are an attractive garden feature while also adding value to your property as a whole.

As a bonus, you can install rollaway screens around your gazebo, so you can keep insects at bay without having to resort to zappers or chemical-laden sprays. You’ll get all the benefits of outdoor dining, while sharing it peacefully with the wildlife around you.  

These three features can each add evening magic to your garden, but when added together they create a spellbinding place to sit back and watch the world float by. With subtle lighting and a source of heat nearby, you can relax by your gazebo and gaze up at the stars in the night sky. The only way to improve this experience is to have the person you love by your side and your favorite drink in your hand.

Selling Your Home? Here Are Some Eco-Friendly Upgrades To Boost Listing Price

If you’re considering selling your home any time soon, you should have sustainability on your mind. Why? Not only do 48% of buyers interested in brand new homes cite “energy-efficiency” as their most desired feature, but investing in some eco-friendly upgrades before putting your home on the market can yield higher appraisals and listing prices. This is definitely an option today’s home sellers should keep in mind: HGTV.com already recommends taking 15% to 20% off what the home is worth when selling your home, but a few mindful and sustainable upgrades can really help your home stand out above the rest in the ever-competitive real estate market. Here are just a few eco-friendly upgrades to consider before putting your home up for sale.

Windows

Installing eco-friendly windows could be the perfect way to spruce up your home’s curb appeal while investing in its long-term energy-efficiency and savings. You’d be surprised just how many homes are long overdue for window replacements. If your home frequently drafty, or your windows are old and outdated, chances are they can be dramatically improved with eco-friendly features.

If you don’t quite have the budget for full window replacements, you can also consider more affordable options that have some of the same effects, such as window tinting. You could save up to 40% on your utility bill by tinting your windows, and they can also keep the glare and harmful UV rays out. Take advantage of this option by tinting the windows in the rooms where people gather and socialize the most.

Thermostat

For bigger homes that cost a lot to heat and cool, consider investing in a smart thermostat system to optimize the temperature in each and every room as opposed to heating the house as a whole. This enables each person to customize their preferred temperatures at various times throughout the day. It also allows homeowners to minimize energy usage by heating or cooling their home only when they are occupying it. You can even set these systems in line with your work schedule, ensuring your home’s heat turns down the moment you leave and turns back up just before you return. When all is said and done, experts say homeowners can save almost $200 a year on home energy costs.

Water Heater

Finally, if you have the budget, replacing your home’s water heater may be an incredibly wise choice. Most experts agree that bathroom additions offer some of the best ROI, but this investment, and those of similar sustainability levels, offer more value than others.

“A new, energy efficient water heater is a great way to save money. They won’t run as often, and homeowners will enjoy the ability to have hot water on command as opposed to having to wait for the water to heat up while they watch several gallons of water go down the drain,” writes Bill Gassett on Massachusetts Real Estate News.

Once you’ve made your upgrades, consider getting an energy audit to legitimize your eco-friendly investments and make sure the measurements are quantifiable and accurate on the listing. Of course, after making all of these eco-friendly improvements, you may not even want to sell your home at all — but who could blame you?

Ultimately, about $1.4 trillion of new mortgages were issued in 2008, and new homes are constantly being mortgaged to eco-conscious consumers. Being aware of the ways you can make your home more appealing to those with similar values is the key to making your real estate transaction as quick and easy as possible.

How Eco Artwork Can Improve Your Room Design

NOTE FROM SWEET GREENS: Thank you supporting the companies that keep Sweet Greens in business.
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Artwork is definitely an important element of any room design.  You can easily add interest to plain walls with fun and unique pieces of art.  Artwork can also bring together different elements of a room by providing color inspiration, a focal point or even by being a harmonizer.  Artwork often makes or breaks a new space. Incorporating a work of art is also a simple way to update your space in an eco-friendly way. By hanging a photograph or painting, you will refresh your walls without perpetuating the use of toxic paints or non-recyclable wallpaper. In this post, we’re looking at some of the main ways in which artwork can help improve a room’s design.

Artwork Adds Movement
In most spaces, you can use artwork to help create movement.  In the art world, movement is used by artists to help direct the viewer’s eye.  In interior design, it will also influence perceptions of the size of the room.  Using a piece of art that easily conveys a lot of movement will help create a rhythm between the chosen furniture your new wall décor.  Overall, this is how a room can evoke a certain emotion or convey a specific feeling.

Wall Art Provides Color
If you’re a little stuck when it comes to the color scheme you want to use in your new living space, artwork can help dictate or even enhance a color palette.  Firstly, try selecting a piece of artwork that matches the space and then create a new color palette influenced by the artwork. You can then narrow down accent colors from the work to help enhance it. If you’re bored with your wall colors, adding a piece of artwork is a great way to liven things up without worrying about the environmental consequences of repainting all the time.

Online sites like Fine Art America offer hundreds of thousands of artist’s works, so you can easily browse their expansive collection and find something that catches your eye.

Balance Texture and Scale in Your Room Design
Depending on the type of building you are furnishing, you’ll need to consider how art can help balance scale and textures.  For example, if you prefer sleek, low furniture with a modern design but your space has high ceilings, investing in a bold piece of wall art will immediately make the room feel more balanced as the eye will be drawn upward to the painting. An investment piece of artwork will also last you a lifetime and can be passed down to future generations, making it both eco-friendly and sentimental.

You can also use art to create a more dynamic room design. Textures, patterns and colors can all be pulled together with the right wall art.

Create a Rotating Gallery
If you’re the kind of person who easily changes their mind or gets bored with your space and you’re itching to switch up your décor, introducing a rotating gallery of artwork can be a quick and easy way to keep your walls feeling fresh.  Different pieces of art will help to highlight different furniture or other elements in your space. Since there is always a market for artwork, you don’t have to worry about being wasteful by replacing your pictures and paintings regularly. Instead, donate them to a used art retailer or make a little extra cash by selling them online. Either way, you know your art won’t end up in a landfill; there is always someone who will appreciate a painting or photograph you’re tired of.

Make a Statement with Your Art
Your artwork doesn’t always have the be the main focal point in a room.  You can also use art in subtler ways to add an element of sophistication to your room design.

The main thing you should take away is don’t be afraid to experiment with different art mediums.  Art is always a great investment that will help inspire new room designs.