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The Green Home Trend: Create an Eco-Friendly Home Life



house manchester by Alex Pepperhill via Flickr

Your home can be a haven if you want it to be, but when its inefficient use of energy sucks up power — driving up your utility bills and expanding pollution of the environment — it’s hard to feel great about that. The average person spends most of her time in the home, so it’s worth the labor of making it energy efficient as well as the ultimate escape after a long day.

Here are some of the best eco-friendly home design trends.

Improved Lighting

The kind of lighting you use doesn’t have a huge impact on power consumption during a single day, but over time it becomes a major investment. Switch from traditional, incandescent light bulbs to CFLs or LEDs.

Incandescent light bulbs use 90 percent of the energy they consume to generate heat, and only 10 percent becomes light. CFLs and LEDs use almost all their energy for lighting, so they significantly reduce energy consumption. They also last longer, and thus save money on the initial cost of the bulbs.

New Windows and Treatments

Some windows are better than others for improved efficiency. Look for the ones with the Energy Star rating.

They’ll have a tighter seal and thicker window panes, which keep outside air where it should be. This ensures your HVAC system won’t have to work too hard in order to compensate invasion by unwelcome outside air.

In addition, window treatments can reduce the penetration of sunlight into your home. Sunshine is a natural heater, which is useful in winter, but during the summer, it will raise your internal temperatures and require the air conditioning to work harder.

This is a waste of energy. Good window treatments like blackout curtains, sun coating on the glass, or indoor shutters can substantially reduce indoor heat.

These remodels can be costly, but your wallet and the environment will thank you when your energy consumption and utility bills plummet.

Smart Home Installations

Home automation is the latest and greatest trend in home renovations. A smart panel that connects your thermostat, door locks, and alarm system can improve the efficiency — and convenience — of any home.

It’s easily controlled from the smart panel or your mobile device, so you can adjust it anywhere and at any time. This is especially worthwhile for scheduling your smart home thermostat.

The thermostat places your home’s temperature control system on a timer so that when no one’s home, the HVAC system shuts off. It can be set to turn on again just before the residents return.

This saves plenty of energy that would otherwise have been wasted by a homeowner who has other things on his mind.

Net Zero Energy

This concept is gaining steam as more homeowners recognize the benefit of significantly reduced power usage. A net zero home can reduce energy consumption of a typical home by nearly 50 percent. It’s achieved through greener construction, in which smart home features are included and more efficient appliances are installed to cut down on energy use.

Smart Toilets and Water Features

Though energy is the most common issue in green home processes, water is also an expensive and precious commodity. The typical American family home consumes 400 gallons of water a day, and 70 percent of that water is used indoors.

Much of that water is unfortunately wasted during activities such as long showers and constantly running water during dishwashing. Through smart toilets and other water control features, you can reduce your consumption.

Toilets alone account for 27 percent of the water used in a home. A smart toilet can reduce the amount of water consumption by half. Mindful water taps and shower heads can also decrease indoor water use and cut waste.

Today’s home trends often involve far more than the latest colors and patterns. Many homebuyers and contractors are putting a hefty emphasis on developing a greener lifestyle in the home.

If you seek to fit in with current trends, save money, and help the environment, you’ll want to implement these green home features.



Is Wood Burning Sustainable For Your Home?



sustainable wood burning ideas

Wood is a classic heat source, whether we think about people gathered around a campfire or wood stoves in old cabins, but is it a sustainable source of heat in modern society? The answer is an ambivalent one. In certain settings, wood heat is an ideal solution, but for the majority of homes, it isn’t especially suitable. So what’s the tipping point?

Wood heat is ideal for small homes on large properties, for individuals who can gather their own wood, and who have modern wood burning ovens. A green approach to wood heat is one of biofuel on the smallest of scales.

Is Biofuel Green?

One of the reasons that wood heat is a source of so much divide in the eco-friendly community is that it’s a renewable resource and renewable has become synonymous with green. What wood heat isn’t, though, is clean or healthy. It lets off a significant amount of carbon and particulates, and trees certainly don’t grow as quickly as it’s consumed for heat.

Of course, wood is a much less harmful source of heat than coal, but for scientists interested in developing green energy sources, it makes more sense to focus on solar and wind power. Why, then, would they invest in improved wood burning technology?

Homegrown Technology

Solar and wind technology are good large-scale energy solutions, but when it comes to small-space heating, wood has its own advantages. First, wood heat is in keeping with the DIY spirit of homesteaders and tiny house enthusiasts. These individuals are more likely to be driven to gather their own wood and live in small spaces that can be effectively heated as such.

Wood heat is also very effective on an individual scale because it requires very little infrastructure. Modern wood stoves made of steel rather than cast iron are built to EPA specifications, and the only additional necessary tools include a quality axe, somewhere to store the wood, and an appropriate covering to keep it dry. And all the wood can come from your own land.

Wood heat is also ideal for people living off the grid or in cold areas prone to frequent power outages, as it’s constantly reliable. Even if the power goes out, you know that you’ll be able to turn up the heat. That’s important if you live somewhere like Maine where the winters can get exceedingly cold. People have even successfully heated a 40’x34’ home with a single stove.

Benefits Of Biomass

The ultimate question regarding wood heat is whether any energy source that’s dangerous on the large scale is acceptable on a smaller one. For now, the best answer is that with a growing population and limited progress towards “pure” green energy, wood should remain a viable option, specifically because it’s used on a limited scale. Biomass heat is even included in the UK’s Renewable Heat Initiative and minor modifications can make it even more sustainable.

Wood stoves, when embraced in conjunction with pellet stoves, geothermal heating, and masonry heaters, all more efficient forms of sustainable heat, should be part of a modern energy strategy. Ultimately, we’re headed in the direction of diversified energy – all of it cleaner – and wood has a place in the big picture, serving small homes and off-the-grid structures, while solar, wind, and other large-scale initiatives fuel our cities.

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7 Benefits You Should Consider Giving Your Energy Employees



As an energy startup, you’re always looking to offer the most competitive packages to entice top-tier talent. This can be tough, especially when trying to put something together that’s both affordable but also has perks that employees are after.

After all, this is an incredibly competitive field and one that’s constantly doing what it can to stay ahead. However, that’s why I’m bringing you a few helpful benefits that could be what bolsters you ahead of your competition. Check them out below:

Financial Advising

One benefit commonly overlooked by companies is offering your employees financial advising services, which could help them tremendously in planning for their long-term goals with your firm. This includes anything from budgeting and savings plans to recommendations for credit repair services and investments. Try to take a look at if your energy company could bring on an extra person or two specifically for this role, as it will pay off tremendously regarding retention and employee happiness.

Life Insurance

While often included in a lot of health benefits packages, offering your employees life insurance could be an excellent addition to your current perks. Although seldom used, life insurance is a small sign that shows you care about the life of their family beyond just office hours. Additionally, at such a low cost, this is a pretty simple aspect to add to your packages. Try contacting some brokers or insurance agents to see if you can find a policy that’s right for your firm.

Dedicated Time To Enjoy Their Hobbies

Although something seen more often in startups in Silicon Valley, having dedicated office time for employees to enjoy their passions is something that has shown great results. Whether it be learning the piano or taking on building a video game, having your team spend some time on the things they truly enjoy can translate to increased productivity. Why? Because giving them the ability to better themselves, they’ll in turn bring that to their work as well.

The Ability To Work Remotely

It’s no secret that a lot of employers despise the idea of letting their employees work remotely. However, it’s actually proven to hold some amazing benefits. According to Global Workplace Analytics, 95% of employers that allow their employees to telework reported an increased rate of retention, saving on both turnover and sick days. Depending on the needs of each individual role, this can be a strategy to implement either whenever your team wants or on assigned days. Either way, this is one perk almost everyone will love.

Health Insurance

Even though it’s mandated for companies with over 50 employees, offering health insurance regardless is arguably a benefit well received across the board. In fact, as noted in research compiled by KFF, 28.6% of employers with less than 50 people still offered health care. Why is that the case? Because it shows you care about their well-being, and know that a healthy employee is one that doesn’t have to worry about astronomical medical bills.

Unlimited Time Off

This is a perk that almost no employer offers but should be regarded as something to consider. According to The Washington Post, only 1-2% of companies offer unlimited vacation, which it’s easy to see why. A true “unlimited vacation” program could be a firm’s worse nightmare, with employees skipping out every other week to enjoy themselves. However, with the right model in place that rewards hard work with days off, your employees will absolutely adore this policy.

A Full Pantry

Finally, having a pantry full of food can be one perk that’s not only relatively inexpensive but also adds to the value of the workplace. As noted by USA Today, when surveying employees who had snacks versus those who didn’t, 67% of those who did reported they were “very happy” with their work life. You’d be surprised at how much of a difference this could make, especially when considering the price point. Consider adding a kitchen to your office if you haven’t already, and always keep the snacks and drinks everyone wants fully stocked. Doing so will increase morale tremendously.

Final Thoughts

Compiling a great package for your energy company is going to take some time in looking at what you can afford versus what’s the most you can offer. While it might mean cutting back in other areas, having a workforce that feels like you genuinely want to take care of them can take you far. And with so many different benefits to include in your energy company’s package, which one is your favorite? Comment with your answers below!

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