Tag Archives | green families

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.

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?

Helping Holidays: 4 Green Gifts That Give Back

The holidays are all about celebrating acts of giving, making it the perfect opportunity to make your gift giving smarter this season. There are so many amazing businesses out there that give back when you purchase one of their products. These companies are tied to doing good somewhere in the world every time a purchase is made. Read on for my 4 favorite gifts that give back – and if you hurry you can still get these goodies by Christmas.

1. Warby Parker Glasses
Eben and I both wear glasses and love the stylish, affordable frames from Warby Parker. For every pair of glasses that you buy, a pair is donated to a person in need. If you don’t wear glasses, that is alright – Warby Parker also offers fantastic sunglasses.

+ Warby Parker  

2. Feed Bags
I have been familiar with FEED Bags for a very long time – I remember first seeing them in Whole Foods back when we lived in Georgia! FEED Bags come in a huge selection of styles and sizes and with each purchase a portion of the proceeds go towards feeding the children of the world.

+ FEED Projects

3. TOMS Shoes
Most likely you are already familiar with TOMS shoes – for every pair you purchase a pair is donated to a child in need. With a great selection of shoes for everyone on your list, TOMS is the perfect holiday gift!

+ TOMS
4. Smile Squared
Every year I stick a toothbrush in the holiday stocking – this year I will be stuffing a brush from Smile Squared! Smile Squared is another company that donates a product to a child in need – in this case, an eco-friendly bamboo toothbrush – because a healthy smile is a happy smile.

+ Smile Squared

Do you have a favorite gift to give that gives back too?

5 Green Ways to Unwind As a Family on School Nights

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With tests, sports, homework, and lessons, after school schedules during the school year can get hectic quickly. Eben is a now a junior in high school which means his evenings are full of National Honor Society meetings, volunteer projects, homework, and tutoring. So, I would say that our schedule feels a little overwhelming right now. If you spend the school year wondering what’s your spouse and kids are up to, try these 5 tips for unwinding and reconnecting as a family on school nights.

#1 Family Dinner or Breakfast
Even if everyone in the house has a different schedule, try your best to sit down as a family even for 30 minutes to eat dinner or breakfast – whichever works best for your schedule. There’s no need for elaborate meals if you’re pressed for time—the important thing is that everyone sit down together to share what happened during the day and reconnect. The mister has Fridays off – so we always sit down together for a big breakfast before Eben heads off to school – it makes Friday a little more special.

#2 Walks Around the Neighborhood
After-dinner winter walks are so refreshing and relaxing at the same time. Grab your parka and boots and trek around your neighborhood. Kids can learn about the changing seasons and all of the animals that only come out at dusk, you can even look for animal tracks in the snow—make sure you bring your flashlight and teach kids nighttime outdoors safety like wearing a blinking light or reflectors if you’ll be out near dark. You and your kids will also sneak in a little exercise and will probably sleep better since you’ll be tuning your circadian rhythms by going out in the evening.

#3 Let the Kids Pick 
Eben has always been really into reading manga and watching anime. When he started to get a little older, I quickly realized that if I was going to bond with him as a young adult, I better learn as much as I could about both. It is really one of the best choices that I ever made as a mother, it paid off in a huge way. Eben and I have been watching anime and reading manga together for several years. Even now that he is almost 17, our anime time is something that we do together every single night. We look forward to it, and it gives us a ton of stuff to talk about on a regular basis. Not to mention, I found out that I love anime/manga and without Eben being into it – I might have never figured that out.

#4 Do Homework Together
During times when everyone’s just too busy to relax together you can still connect with your kids by sitting down and offering homework help (if your kids need it!). Just because you aren’t conversing about the day’s events doesn’t mean that you’re not connecting and learning from one another. Kids learn a lot from how their parents offer help and encouragement. Eben doesn’t need my help – however, I still sit quietly next to him catching up on my reading while he works, that way I still get the opportunity to be near him and offer assistance if he needs it.

#5 Offer to Coach
A great way to spend time with your kids in a different setting (and learn a little about them!) after school is by offering to coach their sports team, become a scout leader, or head up an extra-curricular club. The mister takes Eben and his best friend to Yugioh tournaments every single Saturday. You’ll get a chance to dusk off some old skills and will also have an opportunity to see how your kids interact with others and parent them in a new and different context.

What’s your favorite green activity to do to connect as a family on school nights?

5 Eco-Friendly Ways to Plan for Thanksgiving Dinner

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Hello, Friends! I am pretty excited, Thanksgiving is right around the corner. Are you hosting the big dinner this year? There are many eco-friendly ways to green your Thanksgiving dinner – all of which are easier to implement if you plan ahead. Many of these ideas will save you money and time while cutting down on the amount of waste that can accumulate from a big family dinner. Read on to learn my 5 favorite eco-friendly ways to plan your Thanksgiving dinner and start planning today!

1. Decorating 101
You don’t have to spend any money when decorating for Thanksgiving, instead use items that you already have or consider bringing natural items indoors. We always have a handful of pumpkins leftover from Halloween that we use as Thanksgiving decorations. And Eben and I like to take a nature walk to collect natural elements (pine-cones, acorns, branches and leaves) to display as our Thanksgiving table centerpiece.

2. How Much is Enough?
It is really easy to go overboard when planning the Thanksgiving menu. Consider the dishes that you will be serving and ask yourself if you are making more than is necessary. Choose a few dishes that you are sure your guests will love and skip the rest. Also, consider which parts of Thanksgiving dinner you want to or can afford to purchase organic and whenever possible, avoid pre-packaged items.

3. Consider the Table
Do you have enough dinnerware for everyone in your dinner party? If not, consider borrowing place settings from close friends or family members instead of purchasing new. If you aren’t a china and tablecloth kind of family and choose to go with disposable place settings, choose a great compostable version that is made from 100% recycled materials.

4. Think Seasonal
When choosing fruits and vegetables for your Thanksgiving menu, think seasonal. You want to avoid purchasing produce that are imported from far away. You may consider joining a local CSA for the holiday season – not only will you have delicious, local foods to serve this Thanksgiving, but you will be supporting a local farm too.

5. Plan for Leftovers
What do you plan to do with the Thanksgiving dinner leftovers? If you are planning on sending goodies home with your guests, have glass resuable storage containers ready to go. If you made more than your family can consume, you could donate some of the leftovers to a local food bank, freeze them for later or have a menu plan for the days after Thanksgiving so all of the leftovers will be used.

How do you green your Thanksgiving dinner? I would love to hear – please share your thoughts in the comments!