Raleigh Home Inspector Asks: Do You Have A Hole In Your House?

The Raleigh Home Inspector suggests that if there is an attic associated with your home, and there most likely is, then you have a hole in your house and a resulting fissure in your wallet.

You see, attic access openings, whether for a simple scuttle access opening or a pull-down stair installation, is mostly a hole in the ceiling through which warm air can escape into the attic in the winter. Conversely, the hot air from the attic space in the summer does battle with your cooling system. Either way, it’s energy wasted and dollars that are spent unnecessarily…And who wants that?

Of all the things that you can readily and reasonably easily do in your home, to increase the overall energy efficiency of your home, insulation is one of the most cost-effective means of increasing that energy efficiency.

The typical configuration that the Raleigh Home Inspector routinely see in homes is a common pull-down stair unit that has been “stuffed” with fiberglass batt insulation….maybe better than nothing but often not too much so.

Raleigh Home Inspector on attic stair insulation

Typical Pull-down stair "stuffed" with fiberglass batt insulation

So what is one to do?

Well, there are numerous products on the market that do a pretty fair job of sealing or closing that hole in your house. Products like the Attic Stair Insulator Cover from Battic Door Home Energy Conservation Products which provides an R-Value of 50 (that’s pretty darn good) when properly installed.

Or there’s the Draft Cap attic stair Insulator available from Draft Cap which provides an R-Value of 11 according to their website.

All of these products are relatively effective….and not too terribly pricey, either.

Raleigh Home Inspectors stair opening insualtion

The stair opening insulating panel in the personal home of the Raleigh Home Inspector...simple but effective

 

So, close that hole in your ceiling and keep more than just a few extra dollars in your pocket over the long term. You won’t be sorry.

 

Should you be in need of a thorough, professional Raleigh Home Inspection, contact us and schedule your Home Inspection today at 919-848-4833

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Raleigh Home Inspector: Reduce Your Winter Energy Useage

Some Tips From The Raleigh Home Inspector On Saving Some Money This Winter

The Raleigh Home Inspector wants everyone to be a bit more energy conscious…to reduce your winter energy use and save some money in doing so. Who doesn’t want save a few dollars these days, right?

With winter just around the corner, our energy bills are likely to rise in correlation with the fall of the mercury of the thermometer. I can almost hear the cacophony of groans as the envelopes from the utility companies are opened on a monthly basis during the winter heating months. There are however, some common sense actions that are conducive to some savings on your utility bills…things that we sometimes ignore, or take for granted, or that we just haven’t considered as costing us a bit more money than we otherwise have to spend. And, as it has been said by the wise Mr. Benjamin Franklin, “A penny saved is a penny earned”.

Furnace/HVAC Systems

Keep your furnace well maintained. If your furnace is working at peak efficiency it will use less energy and cost less to operate.

Clean or replace the filter every 30 – 45 days – a dirty filter reduces the airflow and forces the furnace to work harder and to run longer to heat your home. When it comes to heating systems, its all about efficiency. When it comes time to replace an existing system, consider purchasing a new ENERGY STAR® qualified furnace with a variable speed motor. Each year, an average home can save over $500.00 in natural gas and/or electricity costs  when upgrading from a standard efficiency natural gas furnace to a 95% efficiency furnace with a high efficiency variable speed motor.

Raleigh Home Inspector Programmable Thermostat

Programmable Thermostats Are Installed In The Home Of The Raleigh Home Inspector

  Thermostat

This one is really easy.. simply lower your thermostat by 7 – 9 degrees Fahrenheit while you’re sleeping at night and when no one is at home. The Raleigh Home Inspector has ones like the one shown installed, manufactured by the Trane,  in his personal home.

You could also install a programmable thermostat. You can save 2% on your heating bill for every 2 degree F. you turn down your thermostat. With a programmable thermostat to consistently lower your heat when you don’t need it, you could save up to $60 a year!

There is one caveat…to realize the potential savings, one must learn and understand how to efficiently operate the thermostat; some of the thermostats on the market can be a bit daunting to learn how to operate. But persevere…it will be worth it in the end!

Laundry

Start using cold water when doing your laundry. 85 – 90% of the energy used to wash your clothes is used to heat the water. By switching the dial to the cold water setting  on your washing machine, you help the environment, save energy, and save money.

Wash full loads.

Only wash full loads of clothes…I know, I know…you don’t want the washer too full. But operating the clothes washer once for a large load rather than twice for two small loads only makes good sense, right. It will cost you less to do so.

Weather-stripping

Apply weather-stripping to operable windows, exterior doors, garage doors, and doors that lead to the attic spaces that abut conditioned space.

Windows, door frames, sills and joints

Apply a sealant or caulk around windows, door frames, sills and joints. On a windy day feel for leaks or use a couple of incense sticks to help identify leaks around windows, electrical outlets, vents and exterior doors. As well look for spider webs – if there is a web there is a draft.

Make Sure exterior doors close and latch tightly against their weather stripping

Make sure the bolt of the hardware secures the door in a position that is tight against the weather stripping; if there is excessive air transfer around the door when it is closed, consider adjusting the strike plate to provide tight closure. This is a very common item observed by the Raleigh Home Inspector while performing a Home Inspection.

Basement

If you have an unfinished basement or crawlspace, check for leaks by looking for spider webs. Where there is a web, there may be a draft. A large amount of heat is also lost from/through an uninsulated basement.

Pipes, ducts, fans and vents

Plug gaps around pipes, ducts, fans and vents that go through walls, ceilings and floors from heated to unheated spaces.

Shower-heads and faucets

Install low-flow  and faucets; you’ll use less water and, especially, less hot water.


Dishwasher

Always wash a full load in your dishwasher and air-dry your dishes on the “energy saver” setting; this is akin to the principal of  “less is more” as with the operation of the clothes washer.

Fireplaces

Close the damper of drafting fireplaces (when not in use, of course) to prevent warm air from escaping up the chimney, and ensure that the damper fits/closes properly and fully.

If you are in need of a professional Home Inspection…A Quality Residential Inspections type of Home Inspection…then contact the Raleigh Home Inspector at 919-848-4833. Our friendly office staff will answer any questions or concerns that you might have and make sure that your Raleigh Home Inspection is scheduled to your satisfaction.

Raleigh Home Inspector On: Stretching Your Energy Dollar

We are all concerned with being energy efficient because to not be concerned directly costs us our hard-earned dollars. As the owner of Quality Residential Inspections, a Raleigh Home Inspection firm, I get asked about ways to save energy consumption dollars and ways to be generally more efficient when it comes to the operation of a home. This really good article touches on some really important points that help you save money and be more environmentally friendly at the same time. Now, what’s wrong with that?

Get The Most Bang For Your Energy Buck

(ARA) – With demand for electricity and natural gas rising along with energy costs, American homeowners can easily spend hundreds of dollars a month on utility bills.

“From air conditioning larger homes to powering today’s high-tech electronics, we are using more energy than ever and that is certainly hitting many homeowners in their pocketbooks,” says Victor Gonzalez-Maertens, an energy efficiency expert with Lennox Industries – a leading manufacturer of home heating and cooling equipment. “But there are ways to stretch your dollar further by evaluating how you spend money on energy and learning how to control those expenses.”

Gonzalez-Maertens explains that there are four key areas of energy consumption for the typical household: heating and air conditioning, appliances, water heating and lighting. Here is his advice for getting the most bang for your energy buck in these areas:

Heating and air conditioning

Heating and cooling accounts for about 46 percent of the average home’s utility bill and is typically the largest energy expense. To cut down on climate control costs, be sure to schedule annual routine maintenance on your heating and cooling system to ensure it’s running as efficiently as possible.

If the air conditioning system is more than 10 years old or the furnace is more than 15 years old – the average life spans of cooling and heating units – consider replacing them with a new, Energy Star-qualified system that will be more energy efficient and can help lower utility bills. For example, by replacing an old 10 SEER (seasonal energy efficiency rating) cooling system with a Lennox 21 SEER system, which is twice as efficient, homeowners can save more than $1,500 over a five-year period.

Raleigh Home Inspection Firm On: Getting The Most Of Your Energy Dollar

The Raleigh Inspector knows that installing a programmable thermostat is one way to be efficient when it comes to your homes HVAC energy consumption

Programmable thermostats are another way to maximize energy efficiency. These devices automatically control the temperature to use less energy at certain hours of the day, such as nighttime or when homeowners are away from home.

Household appliances and electronics

Household appliances and electronics, such as refrigerators, clothes washers and computers, are responsible for about 28 percent of a home’s energy bill, according to Energy Star. Make sure appliances are clean and free of dust and lint to ensure proper ventilation and to increase their efficiency. In addition, check refrigerator and freezer doors to ensure they are sealed tight to prevent cool air from escaping.

When washing dishes, use the air-dry setting on automatic dishwashers rather than heated drying to conserve energy. Finally, be sure to unplug TVs and other digital devices when not in use, as they consume energy even when they’re turned off.

Water heating

Heating water is another major energy expenditure and accounts for about 14 percent of a household’s energy bill, according to Energy Star. Consider insulating the water heater with a water heater jacket that can be purchased at most hardware stores. Homeowners also can lower the temperature setting on the water heater to save energy. Some water heaters come from the factory already set at 140 degrees or higher, but a setting of 115 degrees can provide comfortable hot water for most uses. Finally, consider replacing a water heater if the existing one is more than 10 years old, as the average life span of a water heater is 10 to 15 years.

Lighting

Twelve percent of the energy budget for an average household goes to lighting, according to Energy Star. Switching out traditional incandescent lights with more efficient fluorescent lighting is a quick and easy way to save on utility bills. In fact, by replacing 25 percent of lights in high-use areas with fluorescents, the California Energy Commission says homeowners can save about 50 percent on lighting-related energy expenses. Energy Star-qualified fluorescent lamps also last six to 10 times longer. For exterior lighting, be sure to use compact fluorescent or high-pressure sodium fixtures – which are more efficient – and consider motion sensors that operate lights automatically.

For more information about how to stretch your energy dollar further, visit www.itpaystolivesmart.com, www.energystar.gov or www.lennox.com.

 

Call Quality Residential Inspections for all of your Home Inspection and ancillary testing needs.

Raleigh Home Inspection Firm Suggests Simple Conservation Measures For A More Green Environement

Quality Residential Inspections, your Raleigh Home Inspection firm, is all about saving energy. And when you save a little energy, it usually equates to saving a few dollars and maybe even allot of dollars…and who wouldn’t be all for that? Small, simple lifestyle changes…changes in the way we do things on a daily basis around the home…go a long way toward a more friendly environment and toward cost savings as well. Here is a great article the Raleigh Inspector happened across that touches on some of those simple measures to be just a little more conservative in water and energy use.

Simple, everyday conservation acts to help save the environment

(ARA) – The “going green” trend is going strong as more Americans discover that doing their part for the environment is now simpler than ever. Many small, everyday acts can help the environment – things as simple as using a water purifier instead of buying bottled water or switching to concentrated laundry detergents.

Procter & Gamble’s environmental education program, Future Friendly, offers these helpful hints for changes that can benefit the environment and, in many cases, your pocketbook.

Simple Conservation masures can make for big water savings

It's often the little things that matter...and that can add up to big conservation savings

Cleaning up your act

Doing a load of laundry seems like an innocent enough chore, right? Actually, our laundry habits can consume a lot of resources, from using more detergent than necessary to using energy to heat the wash water. Fortunately, greening your practices in the laundry room can be simple.

* Follow on-package dosing instructions – A third of Americans simply guess how much detergent to add to their laundry, with many just filling the cap or scoop to the brim, according to a recent Ipsos survey. In fact, 59 percent of those polled said they learned to do laundry from their mother, and 43 percent have never changed their laundry habits because they’ve never seen a reason to. It’s important to follow the recommended dosing instructions which are generally marked on the cap or scoop.

* Use concentrated detergent – Concentrated powder versions of Tide and Gain are now available, enabling you to use less detergent per load with the same great results. This concentrated formula means the detergents’ packaging has been reduced, creating less waste to toss in the trash or recycling bin.

* Wash in cold water – Most of the energy consumed in a typical load of laundry is used to heat the water, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.  Switching to cold water for every load can yield significant energy savings and, when using specially formulated products, you won’t have to trade-off product performance to realize the environmental benefits.

Water, water everywhere

Water is a precious commodity that needs to be protected to ensure the health of the planet and our communities. Consider these water conservation tips as you go about your daily activities:

* Use a water purifier – While bottled water is a convenient aspect of modern life, the downside is the disposal of all those empty plastic bottles. When you compare the annual capacity and average price of a faucet-mount water filter to the price of water bottles that would hold the same amount of water, switching your household to a water purifier such as those available from Pur could keep more than 1,000 bottles out of the landfill and save around $600 a year.

* Skip pre-washing your dishes – Pre-washing dishes before placing them in the dishwasher can consume up to 20 gallons of water, according to EnergyStar.gov. If you use a good quality “complete” dishwasher detergent such as Cascade Complete, all you need to do is scrape off large food particles then place the dirty dishes in the washer – and you’ll save around 2,600 gallons of water a year (based on 12.5 gallons of water used to pretreat, at four loads per week). EnergyStar also recommends running the dishwasher only when it’s full and skipping the heat drying cycle.

So, try to make it a point to be just a little more “Green” in the activities that you engage in every day.

Quality Residential Inspections provides Home Inspection and ancillary testing services, e.g. Radon testing, to the entire Triangle region of North Carolina. Contact us today at 919-848-4833 or Schedule Your Home Inspection here.

Raleigh Home Inspection Firm On: ‘Tax Relief’ Extended For Energy Star Windows

‘Tax Relief’ Extended For Energy Star Windows

(ARA) – Between 25 to 50 percent of energy used in a home goes right out the window – literally. In most homes, windows provide the biggest openings between indoor and outdoor air, and the biggest opportunity for valuable energy to escape.

To assist homeowners with upgrading from old, drafty windows, the federal government is offering tax credits under a new act   signed into law in late 2010. Available until Dec. 31, 2011, the tax credit is for up to 10 percent of the purchase price, excluding labor and materials for installation, and is capped at $200 for qualifying windows and skylights, and $500 for exterior doors.

Qualifying windows, doors and skylights must meet the Energy Star rating. According to Energy Star, installing windows, doors and skylights with the Energy Star label shrinks energy bills – and carbon footprints – by about 7 to 15 percent, compared to non-qualified products.

Tax Relief Extended For Energy Star Windows

You can still get "Tax Relief" by upgrading to Energy Star Rated Windows

“Tax credits offer homeowners immediate savings, but the benefits of Energy Star rated windows are long lasting,” says Erin Johnson, window expert from Edgetech I.G. “Research shows that in cold climates, energy-efficient, dual-pane windows with low-e coatings can reduce heating bills by as much as 34 percent. In warm climates, they can cut cooling costs by 38 percent.”

Understanding Energy Star
While previous tax credits used a standard qualification for all states, the new tax credit is dictated by Energy Star requirements, which vary depending on four climate zones: Northern, North-Central, South-Central, Southern.

North and North-Central zones have stricter U-value requirements, which is the rate heat is lost through a window. In Southern and South-Central zones, the solar heat gain coefficient (SHGC) is more important because it signifies how well windows block the sun’s heat from warming the indoors and counteracting air conditioning.

“For both U-value and SHGC, the lower the number the better the performance,” Johnson says. “Requirements vary, so it is important to check Energy Star’s website to find windows that qualify in your zone. However, to ensure the best long-term value, you should really look at all factors that make up the window from the glass and framing to the spacer system.”

Window components that promote efficiency
True energy-efficient, sustainable windows hold such characteristics as low-conductivity gas fillings (argon or krypton), low-e coatings and nonconductive spacer systems that separate the glass panes. The spacer system is a key element to promoting sustainability in window systems because it provides the seal between the indoor and outdoor air. If that seal fails, condensation will occur and the gas filling will leak and no longer be effective.

“Nonconductive spacers, such as the Super Spacer warm edge spacer system, are known to provide a lasting seal, ensuring the window will retain its energy-efficient benefits for many years,” says Johnson.

The outside materials also play a role in efficiency and sustainability.

“Homeowners are better off looking for nonconductive components, framing and sashes,” Johnson says. “Wood, composite and fiberglass frames are time-tested and are proven to be the most sustainable and energy efficient, standing up to a wide range of temperatures, UV light and the deteriorating effects of condensation.”

Edgetech I.G., an Energy Star partner, is educating homeowners, legislators and companies worldwide on energy conservation and sustainable building practices. To learn more about choosing energy-efficient windows or federal tax credits visit www.sustainaview.com or www.energystar.gov.

The Raleigh Home Inspector often observes windows that are in need of being replaced…So, why not get some tax relief by upgrading to Energy Star rated windows and enjoy the enhanced energy efficiency that they will provide? Tax relief….energy savings….Good Deal!

Boosting Home Energy Efficiency: Improvements That Feel Good and Save Money

Energy Star rated skylights, solar water heating, upgraded windows and doors…all are ways to improve energy efficiency and comfort.

Boosting home energy efficiency: Improvements that feel good and save money

(ARA) – When it comes to making your home more energy efficient, you may have to spend a little to save a lot. And, like most good investments, energy-efficient home improvements may require you to be in it for the long haul in order to see the maximum return on your investment.

Still, if you’re planning to be in your current home for several years (and numerous studies report that more Americans are staying put), a long-term investment in improved energy efficiency can make sound dollar sense for your family. Energy-efficient improvements can help reduce energy use, lower utility bills and cut your home’s environmental impact. You may also reap a tax benefit from making certain eco-friendly improvements. And some improvements, like installing skylights or solar water heating systems, can boost the healthfulness – and your enjoyment – of your home.

Skylight savings

Heating, cooling and electricity make up the largest chunk of nearly every American home’s annual utility bill. Installing a skylight can actually help you lower heating/cooling costs and electric bills. In fact, installing Energy Star-qualified skylights, along with qualified windows and doors, can lower energy bills 7 percent to 15 percent compared to non-qualified products, according to EnergyStar.gov.

No Leak Skylights in baths provide natural light and passive ventilation plus privacy.

Because skylights admit abundant natural light, they can help lower your home’s dependence on artificial light sources – meaning you’ll use less electricity to light your home. They are also an outstanding method of passively venting moisture, fumes and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from your home, so they can help improve indoor air quality as well. Venting skylights also admit cool breezes, to help lower cooling costs in spring and fall, when indoor temperatures may be too warm to be comfortable but not hot enough to warrant turning on the air conditioning.

You will find tax credits and product rebates in place for certain skylights and accessories, according to Joe Patrick of Velux America, manufacturers of the No Leak Skylight. He says that reliability, with long-term, durable performance is backed by both product and installation warranties. “When properly installed, Velux skylights are no more prone to leaks than any other properly installed, quality window in your home,” he adds. You can learn more at www.veluxusa.com.

Solar water heating saves

Low Profile solar collectors

Low profile solar collectors, which look like skylights, blend well with rooflines.

Solar power is gaining broad acceptance across the country as a cost-effective way to reduce utility costs. Solar water heaters, in particular, have attained a level of reliability that makes them competitive with traditional water heating products. But when it comes to cost savings, comparisons pale between traditional and solar water heating systems.

The federal tax credit program makes it possible to recoup up to 30 percent of the installed cost of a solar water heating system, and many states and utilities offer additional incentives. The cost of a system from a manufacturer like Velux will vary based on a home’s requirements. The installed cost for a residential solar water heating system will typically run between $6,500 to $12,000 says Jim Cika, a solar water heating expert with Velux. Installation costs will vary depending on a number of homesite variables, so a solar specialist should be contacted for detailed costs. Savings can be dramatic, he adds: an average of a 50 to 80 percent reduction in the cost of heating water for your home. “That’s a significant sum when you consider that the Department of Energy says water heating can account for 14 to 25 percent of the energy consumed in our homes,” he says.

Energy-efficient home improvements can be right on so many levels – from doing something good for the environment to making a change that can save you money in the long run. To learn more about how skylights and solar water heating systems can help trim your energy bills, visit www.veluxusa.com.

Call Quality Residential Inspections, your best choice for a Raleigh Home Inspection, a Cary Home Inspection, an Apex Home Inspection, or for an Inspection anywhere in the Triangle….call us or Schedule Your Home Inspection today!

What Does Green Mean?

Three big questions you should be asking about what ‘green’ means…

(ARA) – As consumers and marketers have jumped onto the trend, it’s no longer difficult to outfit your home with products that are classified as “green.” You now have multiple choices among products that claim to be the most environmentally friendly, which can cause some confusion about which ones are the best.

“Many products are labeled green, but it’s important to know what green really means. When selecting green building materials, consider their overall impact on the environment,” says Mike McDonald, national green home-builder. “Select products that are natural and renewable.”

Where do you start in determining which products provide the best energy savings and least environmental impact as you embark on your next home project? Begin by asking three questions.

1. Where does it come from and what has gone into producing it?

Did it come from the earth or was it produced in a factory? Usually, the less time spent manufacturing the product in a factory means less energy consumed in preparing the product for your use, as the heavy machinery required to manufacture materials in a factory setting also uses lots of energy.

Look for natural products that are renewable, growing back quickly and efficiently, and that use few or no chemicals or compounds that negatively affect the environment. Look for North American wood products that come from independently certified forests.

2. What is the product’s true overall impact on the environment?

Think about the energy that’s needed to manufacture, transport and eventually dispose of the product. Knowing where a product comes from is half the battle. When shopping for building products, ask the retailer these types of questions. Native wood products from the United States or Canada will have traveled a shorter distance when they make it to your house.

You should also give thought to the impact of any work you might need to do with the products once you bring them home from the store or lumber yard. “For home improvement projects, select materials that are durable and easy to install,” says Brian Kelsey, star of HGTV’s Creative Edge. “Avoid materials that create toxic dust when cut.”

3. How long will the material last and how will it hold up?

A key to conservation is selecting materials that will hold up for a long time, as they won’t need to be harvested or manufactured as frequently. This will save you money in the long run as well. McDonald and Kelsey recommend using wood products like Western Red Cedar for projects because it’s the most sustainable choice and it’s beautiful, durable and will outlast other choices. Naturally resistant to moisture, cedar products can last longer than alternative man-made materials like composites. Cedar can also be restored and reused in other building projects. Plus, it is biodegradable if discarded.

“I use Western Red Cedar for everything,” says Kelsey. “Beyond the beauty, the natural oils in the cedar prevent rot. So instead having to go out and buy a chemically treated pine for outdoor projects, I can use cedar and not worry about the chemicals.”

By asking the right questions, you’ll be sure that you are doing your part for the environment by selecting the building products with the least impact. Whether you are building a deck, siding your house or adding warmth to interiors, if you select the right material, you’ll ensure that your projects will look good for longer. For more information on sustainable wood products, visit www.wrcla.org.

To schedule an Apex Home Inspection, a Cary Home Inspection, a Holly Springs Home Inspection, or a Fuquay-Varina Home Inspection, call your Raleigh Home Inspector today!

The Sustainable Bathroom – Its All About Water

If we are to be “good stewards” of our planet, we should all be looking for ways to save water using products that are environmentally friendly. As a Raleigh Home Inspection firm, we are not directly responsible for reporting on what types of fixtures are installed in a given home. But if we happen to recognize the installation of upgraded, environmentally friendly fixtures and appliances in a home, we try to let our clients know about that. And our clients appreciate the additional information.

Read on to learn about the WaterSense program of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

A sustainable bathroom saves water and money

(ARA) – With so many products claiming to be green these days, it’s hard to know which ones are the real deal. A great indicator for certified sustainability in the bathroom is the WaterSense label, which is granted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). By learning how (and which) products meet the criteria, you can easily incorporate the best – and most eco-friendly – products into your bath.

“WaterSense-labeled products help you save water in your home and protect the environment,” says Stephanie Thornton, a representative of the WaterSense Program at the EPA. “Since it was first launched in 2006, the WaterSense program has helped consumers identify water-efficient products that not only meet specific water-savings criteria, but performance criteria as well. Meaning you’ll get the same great performance you’re used to, just using less water.”

WaterSense aims to decrease indoor and outdoor water use through water-efficient products and simple, water-saving practices. The program encourages customers to look for WaterSense-labeled products, which have been independently certified for efficiency and performance, and promotes water-saving techniques that reduce stress on water systems and the environment.

A number of product categories carry the WaterSense label, making it even easier to reduce the water usage in your home.

* Toilets. According to the EPA, you will likely flush the toilet nearly 140,000 times over the course of your lifetime. Switching to a WaterSense-labeled model will help you save up to 4,000 gallons per year and an average of $90 on your water bill.

Whether you’re remodeling a bathroom, building a new home or simply replacing an old toilet that’s past its prime, a high-performance, water-efficient option bearing the WaterSense label is definitely worth considering. As the culprit of nearly 30 percent of your home’s indoor water consumption, older, inefficient toilets waste up to 11 gallons every day.

* Bathroom faucets. Faucets account for approximately 15 percent of indoor household water use – more than 1 trillion gallons across the U.S. each year. You can save water – even when the faucet is running – by installing a model that’s certified to meet WaterSense criteria.Lavatory Faucet

With countless options available in nearly every style and finish, it’s easy to reduce water usage and be stylish at the sink. Plumbing manufacturers continue to transition their products to meet WaterSense guidelines, and in 2009, Moen Incorporated received WaterSense certifications on all its lavatory faucets. Designed to help environmentally-conscious consumers optimize water flow without sacrificing performance, the faucets feature a 1.5 gallon per minute (gpm) flow rate versus the industry standard of 2.2 gpm, resulting in water conservation of up to 32 percent.

* Showerheads. As the newest category to earn WaterSense labeling, traditional showerheads can use up to 30 gallons of water per household, per day. Installing a Watersense-labeled showerhead could make a big difference, saving more than 2,300 gallons per year.Shower Head

Moen was one of the first manufacturers to receive this certification for showerheads, with 17 models currently certified to meet WaterSense criteria. The newly certified water-efficient showerheads represent every category in Moen’s showering portfolio – including wall-mount, rainshower and hand shower showerheads – and feature flow rates ranging from 1.75 gallons per minute (gpm) to 2.0 gpm, versus the industry standard of 2.5 gpm. The result is water conservation of up to 30 percent.

“Best of all, the showerheads still provide a great experience without sacrificing performance,” says Mike Reffner, group product manager, Moen. “Moen isn’t just using a restrictor to reduce flow – it has redesigned its showerheads to deliver the same level of showering consumers expect from Moen, but with less water.”

A product that meets WaterSense criteria features the WaterSense label on its packaging, making it easy to spot these sustainable products at your local retail and wholesale locations. By incorporating these products into your home, you can expect exceptional performance, a smaller water bill and the great feeling that comes with saving water for future generations. For more information about Moen products certified to meet WaterSense labeling criteria, call (800) BUY-MOEN (800-289-6636) or visit moen.com.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

Savings Heat Up With Solar-Powered Water Heaters

There is no questions about it……”green” is in these days. And homeowners are looking for ways to lower the cost of their power consumption as well as to be a bit more environmentally friendly. Solar-powered water heating is one technology that, while not particularly new, is enjoying a comeback in popularity because of its relatively inexpensive cost to implement and because of its comparatively short payback time as compared to other technologies. At Quality Residential Inspections, we always try to be current and up-to date as to the trends regarding construction, building, and alternative energy issues. Read through this informative article to learn more…….

Savings heat up with solar-powered water heaters

(ARA) – More homeowners are deciding solar power is the right thing to do – for the sake of the environment and their wallets. New technologies make it easier than ever to use the sun to heat water in our homes. And Congress is helping make going green a cash-smart move too, by extending the federal solar tax credit another eight years.

Thanks to the tax credit program, you can recoup 30 percent of the total installed cost of a solar water heating system. “It’s a great time to switch to solar power for your water heating needs,” says Jim Cika, a solar water heating expert with VELUX America. But before you buy a solar water heater, do your homework, he urges, learn about the technologies available and review just how solar-friendly your home can be.

“Homeowners need to factor in geographic location, orientation of the roof for solar collectors, costs and tax incentives and rebates that may be available to arrive at an economically sensible and environmentally-sensitive decision,” Cika says.

While a solar water heating system usually costs more to purchase and install than a conventional water heating system, it can reduce energy costs in the long run and is much kinder to the planet.

Cika says that the cost of an installed ENERGY STAR qualified system from his company will vary depending upon the volume of heated water required in a home. A packaged system consisting of one, two or three rooftop solar collector panels will usually be installed along with a 60, 80 or 120-gallon solar storage tank. An average installation is projected to cost $6,500 to $11,000, with some complex installations running as much as $12,000. Systems are available for gas, electric and boiler markets throughout the U.S., Cika says.

“On average,” he says, “if you install a solar water heater, your water heating bills should drop 50 to 80 percent — not an insignificant sum when you consider that the Department of Energy says that water heating can account for 14 to 25 percent of the energy consumed in our homes.”

According to Cika, in the construction of a new home, where the cost of the system is rolled into the mortgage, homeowners can save more on their monthly energy bills than the increase in their house payment. “Solar water heating provides a positive cash flow from the day of move in,” he says, “effectively giving an immediate payback.”

“In the case of an installation in an existing home in an area that has both federal and state rebates and incentives,” he says, “the payback can vary from three to seven years.”

Two primary solar technologies are available in the market right now: solar photovoltaic (PV) and solar thermal. The photovoltaic process uses the sun to generate electricity and solar thermal uses the sun to heat water. Solar thermal often is the technology of choice for homeowners for a number of reasons. Kevin Hughes, a writer for GreenBuildingElements.com, who installed a solar thermal system in his San Francisco home, explains why.

“I prefer solar thermal, specifically solar hot water, a much older technology. It is much cheaper to install, much more efficient and has a much faster payback,” he says.

For homeowners considering an installation, the Internet offers a number of websites that can be helpful with an analysis and then with locating products and installers. Findsolar.com and nabcep.org list certified installers by state. Solar-rating.org lists certified solar equipment manufacturers and certified installers for VELUX units are listed at veluxusa.com.

Eere.energy.gov/consumer includes a link to a calculator for initial cost, annual operating costs and determining payback, as well as a consumer’s guide to solar thermal, while nrel.gov offers a consumer’s guide to photovoltaic. Federal and state tax credit information, by geographic area, is available at dsireusa.org.

Cika says that solar water heating represents a logical first step for homeowners who want to harness the power of the sun because it is relatively simple technology compared to generating electricity from the sun. “The technologies accomplish different objectives,” he says, “but they both will pay increasing dividends to homeowners who utilize them now and in the future.”

For more information on the benefits of solar water heating or natural light and ventilation through skylights, call (800) 283-2831 or visit veluxusa.com.

Courtesy ARAcontent

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