Is It Time To Revamp Your HVAC System?

 

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When you own a home, you have to provide your family with a place to live their greatest moments. The home must be warm and cozy and have an eco-friendly design with high-performance features. The good news is that making upgrades to your home can offer potential savings and create energy-efficient options.

For example, a homeowner can choose between adding insulation to their house or move towards an updated HVAC system. If you’re looking for a way to feel better about your home and conserve energy, then you’ve come to the right place.

Upgrade Your HVAC System To Help Reduce Energy Cost

Deciding to upgrade your heating and cooling system can help you reduce cost and make the home energy efficient. Here are a few options:

Ice-powered Air Conditioning Unit

This unit works by making sure that the water is frozen in a tank overnight. By using electrical energy during the night versus the daytime, a homeowner can have enough cooling during the day and reduce costs for peak hours.

Thermal Air Conditioning Units

These units are different and new to technology, but should take off in the next few years. The systems are supplemented with natural gas and solar energy. They provide more cooling capabilities than the traditional AC units and eliminate electricity costs.

 Heat Pumps

Dual heat pumps provide a great option for comfort. They are a combination of a gas furnace and an electric heat pump. When it gets cold outside, the gas heater will take over until the temperature rises above 35 degrees. Even though the cost is very expensive, purchasing the system itself can last for several years.

Floor Heating

This type of heating will give you the opportunity to experience warmth from the ground up. It will offer you radiant heat versus hot air heating throughout your home. However, it is very important to have the proper amount of insulation in your home so that you can increase energy efficiency by 30%.

Ductless

The majority of homes will have a hidden maze of ductwork underneath. If a particular ductless system is used to deliver conditioned air, then it will typically increase energy efficiency by 40% versus central heating.

However, you may have come across a few homes that are considered “smart homes.” These homes make it easy to move into and can be very convenient. They offer already automated appliances with technological advancements.

For example, you can leave your home and never have to worry about turning off your heating or cooling system. If you forget, then you can make a quick adjustment with your mobile device through an app.

A few other high-tech features would include scroll compressors, variable speed motors, smart control sensors, and dual heat exchangers. However, be advised that it doesn’t matter what system you use if your insulation system is faulty.

Sometimes insulation upgrades are a necessity. It can have a significant impact on your energy cost. By replacing your insulation or increasing it in your home, you will be able to reduce your energy bills. Remember, older homes sometimes lack the proper insulation, interfering with efficiency and savings.

Every type of insulation is different.

Spray foam – You can choose a spray foam type of insulation. The foam will seal gaps in leaks by hardening into a solid.

Fiberglass batts – If you’re looking for an inexpensive option, then you can choose fiberglass batts. They are a cheap type of insulation that can be stapled. When it is installed correctly, it can offer a quick fix.

Reflective barriers -Reflective barriers are usually found in the attic. They are used to reduce heat and cold and offer barriers that reflect the sun rays. This option is only available for homes that are generally in the sun a lot. You could choose this option, but make sure to speak to a representative for more guidance.

The cost of installation can vary depending on the size of your home and the design. An average attic cost can range from $400 to $1800. However, this small investment is a great price to pay if you are concerned about saving energy and reducing costs on your home.

You can also check with your state tax department to see if there are any rebates available for insulation upgrades. However, federal tax credits expired a few years ago. You may still be able to check with your local districts to determine if there are any incentives.

Four Everyday Household Tips to Save Your Money (and the Planet)

Reducing your carbon footprint at home might seem like a confusing hassle, but it can actually be quite simple. Many homeowners think that they have to rebuild their home and upend their lifestyle to help the environment, but there are many smaller steps that can still make a big difference to the planet.

As a bonus, cutting back on your energy use and material waste can not only help save the natural environment, but it can also help you save money in the long run.

Take the following steps to reduce your waste for a greener planet and a greener wallet.

  1. Remember Your Three “R”s
    Reduce, reuse, and recycle as many items as you can. Try to only buy food that comes in packages that can be recycled, or buy produce at farmers markets to reduce food package waste. Buying used clothes, furniture, and even vehicles is also a good way to cut back on energy waste from manufacturing, and will help you save money on needlessly new products.
  2. Get an Energy-Efficiency Audit
    Every home uses energy to stay well-lit and warm– in fact, 45% of the average energy bill is spent on heating, according to the Department of Energy. Scheduling an energy efficiency audit with an energy professional can help you figure out where your home is wasting electricity and heat. The experts will give you recommendations for reducing waste and saving cash on your utility bills.
  3. Invest in Energy-Efficient Features
    After your energy audit, you may realize just how much energy your refrigerator, washing machine, television, and other large appliances expend. Purchasing Energy Star rated products is an investment that will save you money in the long run in terms of quality and reduced energy bills. Even replacing windows with energy-rated panes can reduce consumption — the single-pane windows common in many homes built before the mid-1990s are notorious for releasing heat in the winter, releasing cool air in the summer, and letting in noise year-round. Upgrading household items, from windows and doors to light bulbs and microwaves, is a great and green choice.
  4. Get Chilly
    Though insulating your home will help you stay warm and help reduce heating waste, staying cool can also reduce your carbon footprint. Specifically, use your water heater as little as possible for a cooler planet. Wash clothes in cold water, and even consider taking cooler, shorter showers. Setting a programmable thermostat a few degrees lower will also have a small impact on your day-to-day comfort, but a big influence on your energy waste.

Though reducing your carbon footprint may seem like a waste of time, taking the time to reduce energy waste can actually save you money. Use these steps to live a little more conscientiously to protect your paycheck and the planet from unnecessary consumption.

5 Spooky Fruit and Vegetable Halloween Treats for Healthy Kids

Halloween is my favorite holiday – mostly because it is an anything goes, don’t hold back, get as creative as you want holiday! I have been adding a little spookiness into Eben’s snacks by getting creative with fruits and vegetables. He seems to enjoy these “sweet” treats just as much as a sugary alternative – maybe even more. Read on for 5 spooky fruit and vegetable Halloween treats that I have used as inspiration for celebrating the holiday with my healthy kid.

#1: Jack o’Lantern Fruit Plate
This may be one of the easiest treats in the bunch – simply peel, cut and arrange a selection of organic strawberries, clementines, blueberries and grapes and you have a Halloween treat that is sure to please everyone!

+ Jack O’Lantern Fruit Plate
+ via Wholesome Dinner Tonight

#2: Veggie Skeleton
Looking for a fun way to get your child to eat more vegetables this autumn? Look no further than this adorable veggie skeleton. This, along with the Jack O’Lantern Fruit Plate would be perfect for your child’s class Halloween Party or your family’s spooky get together!

+ Veggie Skeleton
+ via Feeding Four Little Monkeys

#3: Pumpkin Oranges + Banana Ghosts
Yum! These goodies are definitely calling my name – I bet the bananas would be even better if they were slightly frozen! These would be great for a kids party – just grab and go.

+ Pumpkin Oranges + Banana Ghosts
+ via Kid Party Food Ideas

#4: Apple Teeth Treats
While these little yummies might take a little more time to prepare – I bet they are worth all of the compliments you would get at your Halloween party.

+ Apple Teeth Treats
+ via All Recipes

#5: Halloween Sweet Potato Fries
I want to whip up a batch of these yummy sweet potato fries to go with Halloween dinner. Not only does my family love them – but the spook factor will win them over for sure.

+ Halloween Sweet Potato Fries
+ Babble

How to Make Simple Upcycled Halloween Lanterns

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One of my favorite areas to decorate for Halloween is our front porch. It’s the perfect spot to share your Halloween decorations with visitors and neighbors! These painted glass lanterns are one of my favorite projects to pull out of storage every year. They are just so delightful!

What you will need:

What to do:

1. Spray the glass containers inside and outside.
2. Once dry, paint on the design or face that you would like.
3. Place a rechargeable or solar powered tea light inside.
4. Watch the delight on the faces of your neighbors as they walk by.

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What do you think of my Halloween lanterns?

Smarter HVAC Systems Could Help Families Focus on Sustainability and Savings

Now that it’s finally fall, you might be relieved that the temperatures are dropping a bit. Before too long, it’ll be time to crank up the heat. While it’s a good thing that furnaces last an average of 15 to 18 years, the costs that show up on your monthly heating bills might not bring you much joy. But there may be a way to keep costs low and support efforts to live a greener lifestyle: smart HVAC.

Although today’s newest air conditioners use nearly 50% less energy than they did back in 1990, HVAC designers and manufacturers still aren’t completely satisfied with the energy efficiency rates offered by the average unit. In fact, one source reports that HVAC systems account for almost half of all energy used in an American home. Thus, industry professionals have continued to make improvements — and these advancements may appeal to tech-lovers who want to reduce their carbon footprint.

One of the ways to make HVAC greener is to focus on designs that are small and flexible. These units need to be able to fit into tight spaces that already exist in buildings, rather than being installed through a big reconstruction project. Customers want more modular systems that are ductless. And while the centrifugal blower found in HVAC systems — which has fan blades that can be arranged in one of three different ways — might not be replaced with another option, there are big changes that can be made to these systems that can mean big savings (of both energy and money).

For example, there are actually ice-powered and solar-powered air conditioners that use less energy than conventional systems. These systems may be supplemented with natural gas in some cases, which is still less expensive than what you might pay for installation and use. Reportedly, these systems are also more reliable, particularly in the event of a power outage; they’re more efficient on an everyday basis and they’ll keep on running if the electricity goes out, too.

There are also systems that self-monitor or that allow homeowners to control the temperature in individual rooms. The idea there is that you’ll save money by being able to keep temperatures exactly to your liking, rather than compensating with extra units or overheating or overcooling rooms just to get comfortable elsewhere. This idea expands on the smart thermostat — but instead of merely being able to adjust the temperature from your phone, this would allow the homeowner to automatically close vents and redirect air elsewhere when it isn’t needed.

There are many possibilities on the horizon for smarter, greener HVAC systems. From better heat pumps to wireless units, it doesn’t look like the industry will be shifting its focus away from these innovations any time soon. In the meantime, of course, there are ways to reduce your energy consumption from heating and cooling — even without a smart HVAC system.

For one thing, you can put your curtains to good use by letting in light during the brightest and warmest parts of the day and shutting them to keep the heat in at night. You can also pick a thermostat setting and stick to it, rather than fidgeting with the temperature all day. (Of course, a smart thermostat that automates these temperature changes is ideal.) Make sure to check for leaks and seal up drafty doors and windows. And of course, get your existing HVAC system serviced. Efficient HVAC maintenance systems require maintenance checks twice a year to keep running smoothly. While it may not be the most energy efficient model currently available, you can improve its efficiency by ensuring that it’s clean and repaired, if needed.