Going Green in Home Improvements

Going green when it comes to home improvements and remodeling is now being discussed on a greater level than ever before. More people are becoming conscious of the fact that the planet needs to be protected in order to be saved, and if everyone plays a part, great strides can be made in preserving the earth and its resources. As noted on MSNBC’s website, many contractors and homeowners alike are still not certain just what constitutes going green. But there are improvements that can be done to an existing home or building techniques that can be used when working on a new home to help the environment and drastically cut down on pollution and the misuse of the planet’s natural resources.

For an existing home, one of the main features that can be changed to help conserve power is the use of solar panels. They can come in the form of panels on the roof, walls or trellises. This type of system is being more widely used, and it is not unusual to see new homes going up with solar panels being used somewhere in the construction. Solar power can also be very useful for outdoor lighting. Solar lights for the outside of a property are charged by the sun’s rays during the daylight hours and automatically turn on at night without the use of electricity. The sun is the source of power for solar lights to do their job. Solar lights are available in a wide variety of styles and are a resourceful way of illuminating the exterior of a home.

There are a number of things that can be done in the interior of the house to help the planet as well. Energy-efficient appliances, such as refrigerators, washers and dryers, are a good way to conserve on electricity and water. Many appliances are now available with some type of energy-saving capability. Even toilets are now manufactured that cut down on the amount of water that is used. The new models of central air conditioning units are more energy-efficient as well. In fact, when looking for a new appliance for the home, it is hard to find one that does not have energy-saving ability built in. Manufacturers of large and smaller appliances are becoming more aware of conserving energy and passing that awareness on to the consumer. The Energy Star rating for energy-efficient appliances can be found on many products, with the number of products containing this rating increasing all the time.

Lighting the interior of the home with Energy Star light bulbs is another good way to conserve energy and cut down on electric bills. These bulbs last much longer than traditional bulbs and can be used in ceiling lights, table lamps, floor lamps, and other lighting fixtures throughout the house. At Energy Star, there is helpful information concerning Energy Star products that are available. This website also has advice for consumers regarding ways to make their homes more green and healthy for family members and the environment.

Another energy saver is to put lights on a timer when away from home. There is no need to have lights blazing needlessly, and when lights go on and off at a certain time, it will give the appearance of someone being home even when the house is empty. This is a deterrent to any thief who might be keeping a watch on the residence.

Yet another way to go green is to use natural cleaning products in the home. These products are safe for the planet as they are not composed of harmful fumes and chemicals. They can do a very good job of cleaning but are more gentle for individuals to use in the close confines of a house.

It is surprising how much cool air in the summer and warm air in the winter can be lost from a home’s interior through cracks around windows and doors. A home improvement that can cut down on lost air conditioning and heating is to fill in these openings, no matter how tiny, and make the home more energy-efficient. The air inside the house will stay inside the house, and air from outside will not come in unless it is meant to through an open window.

And windows bring up another home improvement topic. Old windows can be an eyesore. Properly fitting windows are not only an attractive addition to the home, but will also help to save on energy bills. And the new types of windows available now are more easy to clean, giving the homeowner more time to devote to other pursuits.

One of those other pursuits can be tending a vegetable garden, which will put the backyard to good use and supply healthy, home-grown vegetables for eating. This is a home improvement measure that can greatly benefit all family members by providing the type of food that will benefit the body and promote good health. Plus, home-grown vegetables are not subjected to pesticides that can be very harmful.

A home plagued with dry air can benefit from a humidifier, energy-efficient, of course. It will put much needed moisture back into the air and help to keep furniture from drying out. It will also make the air within the home more breathable and comfortable for the occupants. And if too much moisture and humidity in the air is a problem, an energy-saving dehumidifier will remove that extra moisture and keep harmful molds and mildew from building up within the walls of the home. This small appliance, either humidifier or dehumidifier, can do much to make the home more comfortable for all family members.

Going green is a welcome method to improve homes and the planet as well. Recycling is an important step, but there is growing awareness of the need to conserve the earth’s natural resources. People are searching for additional ways to improve the home that will benefit both the planet and its inhabitants. If everyone does their part, planet earth will prosper as a result.

Quick and Easy Green Home Improvements

Many homeowners are looking for quick and easy green home improvements. Whether you want to make these improvements for the sake of going green or you want to do some things before placing a home on the market that will make it more competitive with new homes, there are plenty of options.

Joining the green revolution will make your home more comfortable, less costly to heat and cool, and some changes will reduce your water and/or sewer bill. Many of these improvements will also make your home more comparable to newer homes on the market. This might or might not justify an increase in selling price. While these quick and easy green home improvements might appeal to home buyers who have a strong interest in a green home, it might not matter to other prospective buyers when they make an offer. If, however, you make available a record of your utility bills for the last year, showing a decrease in heating, cooling and water costs could be attractive to a buyer.

The top seven quick and easy green home improvements that are also economical are:

1. Switch to energy efficient light bulbs. Compact fluorescent bulbs cost a bit more when you buy them, but they will last years longer and use only a fraction of the energy. Start with the lights you tend to use for the longest period of time – like the kitchen light that is never turned off or the bathroom light the kids just can’t remember to turn off. If you are planning to put your home on the market, you might want to start with bulbs in permanent light fixtures.

2. Install insulating/reflective window coverings. Film window coverings are available in several levels of light and UV ray blockage and colors. You can choose different textures and colors depending on the amount of direct sunlight on various windows. The window film is available in most hardware and home improvement stores, and it is easy to install.

3. Install weather stripping on doors and window frames. Weather stripping is relatively inexpensive and it is easy to install on window frames and door frames. It will reduce the amount of heat exchange by sealing up cracks or openings. This will make your home more comfortable, more energy efficient, and more environmentally friendly.

4. Install low flow shower heads and faucets. Most homeowners can install new shower heads and faucets or affordably hire a handyman to do it. These faucets and shower heads use less water without blocking adequate water flow. They will save water and reduce your water and sewer bills.

5. Adjust the float in the toilet tank to use less water. This is a fairly simple adjustment that can be accomplished by most homeowners or a handyman. If you can’t adjust it, try putting something in the bottom of the tank that will displace some of the water. Just be sure that what you use won’t rust and won’t get in the way of the working of the flushing mechanism.

6. Insulate the hot water distribution pipes in your home. This is also a relatively inexpensive and easy job of wrapping the pipes that go from the hot water heater to the various plumbing fixtures (kitchen, bathrooms). Keeping the water warmer as it moves through the pipes will provide warmer water and it will reduce the amount of water you have to run from a faucet while you wait for the hot water to get there.

7. Install insulating or reflective window treatments. Install reflective blinds or shades at your windows. Then be sure to close them at times when the sun shines on them directly or during the warmest part of the day. This will reduce your heating/cooling bills.

Try these seven steps to make some quick and easy green home improvements. The money you will save on utility bills will probably pay for the improvements very quickly.

Copyright 2008 by ABCD Publishing

Specialty Home Improvement Remodeling Projects

The purpose of a home improvement remodeling project is to make your home more attractive and functional. Some of the usual improvements involve redoing floor and wall coverings, adding cabinetry, and improving the lighting. Other choices are installing new fixtures, knocking out or building new walls, and even something as simple as painting. Yet, some of the most exciting projects involve adding something special to an existing home.

Home Entertainment

One home improvement remodeling task you might like to do is to install an entertainment system that works throughout your home. The setup is crucial. The wiring for the system has to be run behind the drywall. This means that you either add this as a part of a larger renovation project that includes removing the drywall, or you have to string the wiring behind the drywall some other way.

You will have outlets behind your whole home entertainment system to plug in the components to AC current. There should be jacks for the cable and Ethernet feeds. You connect the audio wiring in each room to a special outlet near the entertainment system, and then hook it up. When you have successfully installed the system you should be able to listen to different music all over the house, and watch movies with surround sound in your main entertainment room and from any TV in the house.

This installation process must be done carefully to achieve maximum functionality and maintain an attractive appearance. If you have any qualms about doing this home improvement remodeling work yourself, it is a good idea to use a professional remodeling company to make sure it is done right.

Home Security

Installing a home security system is another one of those home improvement remodeling projects that must be hard-wired into the house. The wiring runs to a central location, usually in a basement or utility room. At this spot, you put the master controls and alert relays. Then, throughout the house, you install sensors to catch break-ins, fires, and elevated levels of carbon monoxide.

To do the job, you will have to know the various kinds of sensors and how to install each one. There are magnet sensors, switch door sensors, glass-breaking sensors, carbon monoxide sensors, smoke sensors and heat sensors. The sensors must be placed carefully or the alarms might go off when they are not supposed to. Conversely, if you do not wire the sensors in appropriately, the alarms might not sound at all. This is a job that you must be sure you can do correctly; otherwise you will be putting your family’s security at risk.

Green Living

One type of specialty task that is becoming more and more commonplace is a green home improvement remodeling project. There is so much that you can do to improve the energy efficiency of your home that it is a shame not to do what you can.

A green remodeling job can include energy efficient appliances and fixtures. It can mean increasing the insulation in your house or getting more efficient windows or doors. It can also mean working towards net zero energy consumption by producing energy with solar panels. A skilled home improvement remodeling company can help you find all the best ways to go green.

Make Your Bathroom Stylish and Splash-Free With Glass Shower Screens

The installation of shower screens in any bathroom space will not only give it a stylish appearance but provide a lot of functionality as well. They are the perfect alternative to conventional shower curtains not just because they are attractive, but also because they eliminate the hassle and messiness of cleaning a pool of water in the bathroom. In addition, unlike with shower curtains, you do not have to replace them as often. In fact, with proper maintenance, shower bath screens can last for a long time.

You can find a wide range of shower and bath screen styles and designs, which means you can find a model that will suit your needs and look good at the same time. You have the option to make your screen blend in with the rest of the bathroom design or you can make it an attractive feature in the area.

There are several types of shower bath screens that you can conveniently choose from. One is the fixed panel which is fully framed and attached permanently on the bath edge or onto a floor base. Fixed-and-swing types come as fully framed glass panels with a smaller swinging panel. A corner unit is basically a square base with one side removed and generally comes with a pivoting door.

Shower barriers are available in three main designs – fully framed, semi-framed and frameless. Fully framed screens are ideal for bath and shower combinations as they can be set on top of the tub and fixed on the two adjacent walls. There are also fully framed units available for wet rooms.

Frameless screens are made of safety glass with no frames except for the side which connects to the wall. Double frameless screens can be hinged to function as frameless shower doors in certain models.

The glass panel used can be frosted, tinted or clear. Tinted glass is a feature and can alter the appearance of the tiles. As soap scum show up more visibly on tinted glass, a better choice for a screen would be clear glass. They are not only easier to clean; they also provide an illusion of roominess because of their transparency and frameless feature.

When you are out to shop for a shower bath screen, be sure to first get the measurement of the area where you wish to place the fixture. Doing so will give you the assurance that the screen that you will be purchasing will perfectly fit in the available space in your bathroom. Aside from that, you also have to pay careful attention to the quality and durability of the screen to ensure that you will be able to fully maximize its use.