Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Ten Facts About the Water We Waste


I have many personal questions on what effect we have on the environment. Some people say we will all die as the ice caps melt, other studies say global warming is bogus and only a natural effect of sun spots. Both stories have good points. One thing I do know is American's waste to much water. Just watching my daily habits I have found myself guilty. Everyone trying to help I know won't hurt the world. Below are some easy water saving tips by Water: Use Less—Save More.

As the globe’s temperature rises and the earth’s weather patterns go haywire, water is quickly becoming a hot topic in the US and elsewhere. Floods are sweeping through new areas, while others are drying out faster than ever. We’ve long had the luxury of holding a cavalier attitude about the water we use, and more often than not that attitude has led us to unnecessary waste and pollution of our water.


From Water: Use Less—Save More:

  1. Americans now use 127 percent more water than we did in 1950.
  2. About 95 percent of the water entering our homes goes down the drain.
  3. Running the tap while brushing your teeth can waste 4 gallons of water.
  4. Older toilets can use 3 gallons of clean water with every flush, while new toilets use as little as 1 gallon.
  5. Leaky faucets that drip at the rate of one drop per second can waste up to 2,700 gallons of water each year.
  6. A garden hose or sprinkler can use almost as much water in an hour as an average family of four uses in one day.
  7. A water-efficient dishwasher will use as little a 4 gallons per wash cycle, whereas some older models use up to 13 gallons per cycle.
  8. Some experts estimate that more than 50 percent of landscape water use goes to waste due to evaporation or runoff caused by over-watering.
  9. Many people in the world exist on 3 gallons of water per day or less. We can use that amount in one flush of the toilet.
  10. Over a quarter of all the clean, drinkable water you use in your home is used to flush the toilets.

For tips on how to reduce the amount of water you use and waste, see Water: Use Less—Save More, by Jon Clift and Amanda Cuthbert.


More energy saving info at www.ComfortMatters.com

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Fireplace to Increase Home Values

There are many different answers how much value a fireplace adds to a home. I have seen from 6-12% increase in value. That will vary by home value. Because adding a fireplace to a $900,000 won't increase value by $100k. But there is no doubt adding a fireplace will increase value as well as make a home easier to sell. If you have an old home with wood fireplaces, get rid of them. All they do is waste money on your heating bills. You can have a very nice gas fireplace installed in the same hole. You will then save heating money plus you can use it and enjoy the room even more.

Fireplace Info

Fireplaces

Regardless of your d├ęcor or your heating needs – there is a fireplace from Lennox Hearth Products that will fit your home perfectly. From gas- and wood-burning to electric
fireplaces, you have a long list of choices.
Comfort Matters has many fireplace options to fit your needs. Our trained installers take extra care to protect your home by laying floor covers down and complete a detailed cleaning after the job is done. Because Comfort Matters depends on quality referrals from satisfied customers we will go the extra mile to provide service better than you have ever had before.
  • Basement Remodels
  • New Construction
  • Wood Inserts
  • Free Standing Gas Stoves
  • Electric Fireplaces
  • Outdoor Wood & Gas Fireplaces
  • EPA Wood burning Fireplaces
There are many models and options. Different doors, backgrounds, blowers, and remote controls.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Clear Your Home of Asthma Triggers

Clear Your Home of Asthma Triggers

Your children will breathe easier


Act now
against
asthma at home.
Asthma is a serious lung disease.

  • During an asthma attack, the airways get narrow, making it difficult to breathe.
  • Symptoms of asthma include wheezing, shortness of breath, and coughing.
  • Asthma can even cause death.
If you have asthma or a child with asthma, you are not alone.
  • About 17 million Americans have asthma.
  • Asthma is the leading cause of long-term illness in children.
The air that children breathe can make a difference.
  • Asthma may be triggered by allergens and irritants that are common in homes.
  • Help your child breathe easier: consult a doctor and reduce asthma triggers in your home.

Clear Your Home of Asthma Triggers

Below are five common asthma triggers found in homes and what you can do to reduce you and your child's exposure to them. Not all of the asthma triggers listed here affect every person with asthma. Not all asthma triggers are listed here. See your doctor or health care provider for more information.

Secondhand Smoke

Asthma can be triggered by the smoke from the burning end of a cigarette, pipe, or cigar and the smoke breathed out by a smoker.

  • Choose not to smoke in your home or car and do not allow others to do so either.

Dust Mites

Dust mites are too small to be seen but are found in every home.

Dust mites live in mattresses, pillows, carpets, fabric-covered furniture, bedcovers, clothes, and stuffed toys.

  • Wash sheets and blankets once a week in hot water.
  • Choose washable stuffed toys, wash them often in hot water, and dry thoroughly. Keep stuffed toys off beds.
  • Cover mattresses and pillows in dust-proof (allergen-impermeable) zippered covers.

Pets

Your pet’s skin flakes, urine, and saliva can be asthma triggers.

  • Consider keeping pets outdoors or even finding a new home for your pets, if necessary.
  • Keep pets out of the bedroom and other sleeping areas at all times, and keep the door closed.
  • Keep pets away from fabric-covered furniture, carpets, and stuffed toys.

Molds

Molds grow on damp materials. The key to mold control is moisture control.

If mold is a problem in your home, clean up the mold and get rid of excess water or moisture.

Lowering the moisture also helps reduce other triggers, such as dust mites and cockroaches.

  • Wash mold off hard surfaces and dry completely. Absorbent materials, such as ceiling tiles and carpet, with mold may need to be replaced.
  • Fix leaky plumbing or other sources of water.
  • Keep drip pans in your air conditioner, refrigerator, and dehumidifier clean and dry.
  • Use exhaust fans or open windows in kitchens and bathrooms when showering, cooking, or using the dishwasher.
  • Vent clothes dryers to the outside.
  • Maintain low indoor humidity, ideally between 30-50% relative humidity. Humidity levels can be measured by hygrometers which are available at local hardware stores.

Pests

Droppings or body parts of pests such as cockroaches or rodents can be asthma triggers.

  • Do not leave food or garbage out.
  • Store food in airtight containers.
  • Clean all food crumbs or spilled liquids right away.
  • Try using poison baits, boric acid (for cockroaches), or traps first before using pesticidal sprays.
  • If sprays are used:

    • Limit the spray to infested area.
    • Carefully follow instructions on the label.
    • Make sure there is plenty of fresh air when you spray, and keep the person with asthma out of the room.

Also...

House dust may contain asthma triggers. Remove dust often with a damp cloth, and vacuum carpet and fabric-covered furniture to reduce dust build-up. Allergic people should leave the area being vacuumed. Using vacuums with high efficiency filters or central vacuums may be helpful.

When your local weather forecast announces an ozone action day, stay indoors as much as possible.

There are many home filtration ways to help asthma. Trane CleanEffects system is 99.98% Efficient whole house air cleaner that has proven technology to help asthma suffering people.

Comfort Matters Heating and Cooling web site has more air cleaning solutions also.

For more information:

You can request information from EPA's:

Indoor Air Quality Information Clearinghouse (IAQ INFO)
P.O. Box 37133
Washington, DC 20013-7133
(800) 438-4318, or
(703) 356-4020 (local)
(703) 356-5386 (fax)
iaqinfo@aol.com

Other related sites:

National Academy of Sciences Report - "Clearing the Air: Asthma and Indoor Air Exposures"

Two years ago, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) asked the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) to undertake an assessment of the role of indoor air quality in the growing asthma problem. EPA asked NAS to characterize the state of the science on health impacts and prevention strategies, and to provide recommendations on needed research. In response to this request, the National Academy of Sciences Institute of Medicine has issued a report, Clearing the Air: Asthma and Indoor Air Exposures, on the role of indoor environmental pollutants in the development and exacerbation of asthma. The report affirms the Administrator's asthma initiative to educate the public about the ways they can help control asthma by managing indoor air quality. The report concludes that exposure to indoor pollutants is an important contributor to the asthma problem in this nation. Asthma sufferers should consult with their doctor about reducing their exposure to secondhand smoke, dust mites, pet dander, molds, and cockroaches. The executive summary of the NAS report is available at

Created: July 22, 1999; Last Modified: January 26, 2000


Office of Air and Radiation
Indoor Environments Division (6609J)
EPA/402-F-99-005, July 1999

Friday, March 20, 2009

Is Bamboo Floors the Greenest Option?

People commonly think bamboo is the greenest choice for flooring. Bamboo is actually a grass, not a tree. So it can be replaced in nature very fast.

Oak forest can take 120 Years to replace while bamboo takes about 3 years. Plus all bamboo floors come from China. One thing to consider when building GREEN is where does it come from. LEED looks at the effect of transport and the manufacturing process.

So... How far is it from China to Minnesota??? Takes a little fuel to get it there.

Next... What is the quality of manufacturing in China??? I am not preaching on chinese process, but there is definitly question on the pollution control they have versus USA.

Did I just ruin your treehugging idea of Bamboo? That isn't my goal. I am still mixed on what I think is right. 95% of the original forests have been cut down in the world. That is a scary thought. The ability to grow bamboo in 3 years is great.

http://www.treehugger.com/files/2005/09/bamboo_flooring.php

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

What is LEED Home?

Boy this is a question that could take along time to answer. So this subject may take a few blogs.

LEED is an organization rating system.
"Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design"

The US Green Building Council is who regulates LEED.

There are so many things that go into a LEED rating system. LEED can be residential or commercial buildings. There is a scale that a building earns points for doing different things that will benefit the environment.

Example of items:
  • Heating system efficiency
  • Insulation
  • Quality of windows
  • Maybe using a 50 year shingle instead of 30 year
  • Light color paints for better day lighting in rooms
  • Collecting Rain water
  • Using building materials from local manufactures
  • Avoiding use of VOC products
  • Low flow shower heads
  • Using grey water again instead of sending down sewer
  • Not putting duct work in outside walls
  • Not using construction cavities for return air duct.(no panning)
  • Seal duct work through multiple methods. (Aeroseal, foil tape, mastek)

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Geothermal Heating 30% Install Savings


With the 2009 Stimulus Bill that was passed American homeowners now can save 30% of the installed cost on geothermal systems. The new energy bill allows each tax paying citizen to get 30% of the installation cost back from there income taxes they will pay in 2009. This is a huge benefit to take advantage of. Nobody likes to pay taxes, now you can get some back, plus lower your monthly heating/cooling cost which equals more money in your pocket.

Energy Star

A geothermal heating system isn't very complicated. They are less maintenance than a standard gas furnace, they have a longer life span, plus provide a lot of environmental benefit. A basic description: The sun heats the earth and a geothermal system removes the energy from the sun in the ground and transfers it to your home. Same happens in the summer, it will transfer the nice cool ground temp to your home. A typical Minnesota home will save around 50% commonly.

Geothermal Description Link

I did a cost compression of a typical Minnesota home. There heating cost were $1,480/year and cooling was $123/year, and hot water cost were $405. With a geothermal heating system the new heating cost would be $475, cooling $34, and hot water $208. So the total energy for the home was $2,007 and new was $716. That is a savings of $107 per month.

Summary:
Less maintenance, saves money every month, last longer, and now the government will pay 30% of the bill.


BTW: Geothermal Systems don't have an outdoor unit like a standard A/C you are use to. So you can get rid of the noisy box outside also.