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According to certain estimations, the average person flushes 35 gallons of water down the toilet, everyday. Considering you’re a family of four or more, you can safely presume that nothing less than 300 gallons of water are being used just to flush toilets, other uses of water notwithstanding. Although water is not really expensive in the US (so far) it’s only a matter of time before we begin to feel the pinch. And the ironic part is: despite the fact that it is as cheap as it is, no amount of money can buy or create water, when it’s gone, it’s gone.
So what can we do to prevent this bleak situation? Get new toilets. Conventional toilets use about 5 gallons of water per flush, significantly more than the new toilets, which use about 1.6 gallons. Going by that estimate, you can save phenomenal amounts of water, anywhere between 8000 to 20000 gallons a year, depending on your current usage. This translates into some nifty savings on cash too, upto $100 per year.
The 1.6 gallons per flush (gpf) limit is the newest upper limit enforced by the EPA for toilets, which means there are also toilets that use lesser amount of water, some even lesser than 1 gpf. Many homeowners worry that such ‘low-flow’ toilets will also be low on efficiency. However the latest generation of toilets are high on efficiency while being low on water consumption. Watersense labeled toilets are some of the best you can find today in this category.
Cost is another factor that bothers many homeowners when we suggest low-flow high efficiency toilets. Although these toilets are expensive than normal toilets, the annual savings on water bills pretty much offset the initial costs. In fact, according to certain estimations, the ROI on water efficient toilets is about 50%. Altogether, this makes water efficient toilets a very sensible option if you’re going to remodel your bathroom.
We will all agree, that when it comes to home operating costs and maintenance, little else burns as large a hole in our pockets as heating and cooling. HVAC is one place where homes lose a lot of greenery – in terms of money, and in terms of the carbon footprint they add. Therefore, when we remodel homes, a lot of homeowners want to know how to restructure their HVAC systems, to make their homes (and their pockets) greener. Our answer to them – mini split systems.
Most homes run on centralized HVAC systems that use ducts and sometimes pipes to control temperatures indoors. While these systems are quite alright, they are not always feasible when you are attempting a remodel, especially if you are adding an extra floor or room space or making major design changes. Restructuring the entire duct and pipe system adds considerably to the cost. Mini split systems make it easy to manage indoor temperatures without any major construction or uprooting.
Mini split systems are also called ductless systems and are available for heating and air conditioning purposes. These systems come with three parts, which can be very simply explained as: one part which is mounted indoors to maintain air and temperature, one part outside which handles the condensing and compressing and a third part linking both parts with suction wires, electrical wires, drain and refrigerant tubing. This entire system can be fitted with minimal inconvenience and construction and works efficiently to heat/cool/condition as per your requirements.
The amazing thing about them is their efficiency. Bonneville Power administration just did a study that found that mini splits can be as high as 450 % efficient. For every $1.00 you spend you get $4.50 worth of heat. Nothing else on the market even comes close. Back that up with a supper insulated house and your heating bill will become a non issue.
If you’ve been to a house that was recently done up (in a rather fashionable manner) – you might have found a lot of small whitish lights used in places where the conventional bulbs and CFLs used to be. These tiny things are LED (Light Emitting Diodes) a new entrant in the field of home lighting.
LED is a certain type of lighting device which is being increasing used in homes for many reasons. Largely, they are used more for decorative purposes, but their efficiency and long-life as compared to other fluorescent and incandescent lamps have led to LED using lamps to be used as the main source of light in a house.
The main factor working in LED’s favour is its efficiency. Unlike regular bulbs and fluorescent lights, which waste almost 90% of the energy they consume in the form of heat, LED release very little heat, using up most of the energy to produce light. Thus, its input/output ratio is quite high, and typically LED’s last about 20,000 to 35,000 light hours (compared to CFLs which last 15,000-20,000 hours and incandescent bulbs which last about 1000-2000 hours). This makes them an extremely cost-effective option, when compared to other forms of lighting.
To add to this, LED is available in a variety of colours and can be used very effectively for home decor. Also, LED is a point source of light. Which means if LED lighting is recessed into a wall, all the light it emits will go straight ahead into the room? When incandescent bulbs are recessed, only a fraction of the light will actually make it into the room.
Although not new, structural insulated panels (SIP) have recently garnered more attention than ever, thanks to the builders’, manufacturers’ and homeowners’ interest in green building and energy efficiency. With a view to energy efficiency, SIP is a good option. If you’ve ever been involved with any kind of construction in any way, you will notice that builders often use what look like large boards in place of conventional stick frames. Essentially, they’re replacing traditional house envelopes with SIP – and the best part about SIPs is that they can be used in place of any building material. SIPs are used in place of exterior walls, roofing material, floor boards and insulating the foundation.
The most obvious benefit of SIPs is that they have excellent insulating properties. A house built with one of the first ‘versions’ of SIPs in 1937 is still standing, after years of withstanding Wisconsin’s severe climate. The house was dedicated by then First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and is currently used as a day care centre by the University of Wisconsin. Since then, SIPs have gone through many changes. The SIPs today play a significant role in reducing a house’s energy consumption requirements – particularly heating requirements, are quite low on maintenance and high on durability leading to lower operating costs and are easier and more efficient to construct. The only possible drawback that we might consider is their suitability over the long term in Northwest wet weather.