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eco-friendly

Every homeowner wants the best for their family. From cozy living rooms to serene bathrooms, we all want to improve the way we live by considering home improvement projects that help us achieve a more appealing home.

But when it comes to making a home that’s safe and healthy, we will have to look for green solutions. After all, this is the first step to achieving a healthier home.

Let’s check out a few important tips to a greener home.

  1. Ditch commercial materials

Whether you’re mopping up the living room floor or repainting the exterior walls of your home, the materials you use may contain chemicals that not only pollute the air but also cause a wide range of health conditions on your family. You may need to update your shopping list and get rid of brands that are known to contain high traces of cancer-causing chemicals such as glycol and benzene.

If you’re making a change for the better, you might as well look online for shops selling organic materials for your next home improvement project.

  1. Think of a redesign

Often the best way to build a green home is to start from scratch. Fortunately, if you’re planning to settle in a home that’s both functional and eco-friendly, there are local builders who can help you along those lines.

If you live in Baltimore, you’ll find Maryland home builders who can provide custom designs that help reduce your carbon footprint. But if you already have a home, you can always opt for a redesign by using proper insulation, as well as materials and concepts that allow for better cooling and heating.

  1. Upgrade your lighting

If there’s anything that passes as an eco-friendly solution, changing your light bulbs will do the trick. Especially if it has been a while since you last upgraded your lighting, swapping your bulbs with LEDs will really keep your energy consumption low along with your power bills.

  1. Prepare a compost pit

Managing a garden is tough work, but choosing a safe alternative to commercial fertilizers has to be tougher. Sure enough, familiar fertilizer brands could be more acidic and, in effect, harmful to your plants.

Commercial fertilizer might give your garden the lushness it needs, but when it comes to keeping the soil healthy, preparing your own compost using kitchen scraps has to be the better option. It’s organic and it won’t pollute the ground much as synthetic fertilizers do.

  1. Improve your insulation

Whether there’s a blizzard or a heatwave, the thermostat has to be your best bet in keeping your home’s temperature well-regulated. Then again, you will have to pay a price for keeping your home well heated or cooled during extreme weather. By keeping your home well-insulated, you won’t have to set the thermostat high or low.

 

A greener home is possible, so long as you use the right approach. That way, you won’t have to worry about putting your family’s health and safety at risk.

 

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Homeowners are increasingly looking for ways to add energy efficiency to their home and reduce their monthly energy bills. Many eco-friendly home improvements can pay for themselves over time, so they are often seen as a wise investment. Home Heat Recovery Systems give homeowners the chance to radically reduce their heating bill with only a small initial investment. Here we are going to take a quick look at the benefits of installing a Home Heat Recovery System.

They Offer Total Heating for Your Home

Home Heat Recovery Systems heat the air in your home and circulate it through every room. Heating the air ensures an even temperature throughout the house, no more cold spots or rooms to avoid on a cold day. By removing stale air and drawing in fresh air from the outdoors, it removes the need to open a window or door to let fresh air in as your air is always fresh. The system heats any fresh air it adds to your home before it enters circulation, to ensure the temperature is efficiently maintained throughout the house.

They Clean and Filter Your Air

Air quality is a concern for many homeowners, whether from pollen, local air pollution, or from humidity or carbon monoxide. A high-quality Home Heat Recovery System has air filters and dehumidifying cells as a part of its construction. As the system circulates air through your home it is scrubbed for irritants and particles; it is also dehumidified to reduce mould and condensation build up in your home. This can be of particular benefit to Asthma sufferers and people with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).

They Can Drastically Reduce Energy Bills

When installed in a well-insulated home, the energy savings a Home Heat Recovery System can bring can be quite staggering. By keeping close control over your home’s airflow and heating it only when needed, some users have experienced double-digit drops in their heating bill. It is important to find a reputable and experienced supplier to assist you in finding the right system for your home to help maximise the savings. A BPC Ventilation system is one of the industry leaders. They can source the best components to suit the needs of your home and offer excellent advice on fitting an HHR system. Finding the right supplier can be the difference between your home heating dreams and a costly nightmare.

Home Heat Recovery Systems bring consistent warmth to your home at a reduced cost. After just a short while the savings they bring you will offset the cost of your investment, so in the end, they pay for themselves! Every year, energy prices increase, and governments put more pressure on homeowners to reduce their carbon footprints. With a Home Heat Recovery System, it is possible to future proof your home by reducing your energy costs and consumption now, before any more price increases or costly regulations make heating your home too expensive.

 

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Your home design is all about you, your partner and your family. Every element present at home reflects a certain aspect of life. The colors painted all over the walls remind you of peace and serenity. The decor beautifying the walls project decision-making and artistic skills. The materials used inside and outside the house, from flooring to roofing, display style and preferences. Spacing and arrangement either defies customs or depicts centuries-old traditions and beliefs.

When buying a new home, building one or making a facelift, you want to be immersed in the process, from planning the details to the finishing touches. After all, the house is your safe haven for years or even for a lifetime. It is a pleasure to flip through the color palette, the portfolio of home decor and the gallery of design ideas you want your eyes to scour. It is also no wonder if you have been making sketches or notes with design ideas for the kitchen, living room, master bedroom or even the garage.

To help you out, we have compiled a list of unique bits of design that may seem bizarre but are actually awe-inspiring ideas that will make your house stand out from the rest.

Pendant Lighting

More and more restaurants, especially intimate ones, are now adorned with pendant lighting that hangs just slightly over the heads of guests. From a style perspective, pendant lighting offers a great addition to your home. But it provides more than just a decorative accent. It also plays a major role in terms of highlighting a room, adding a different glow while incorporating a decorative style.

Now, how do you plan on adding pendant lights at home? You can try hanging them to illuminate your entryway, a kitchen counter or dining table. Although the lights are usually close, you may also opt for a design that spreads all throughout the space you want to brighten up, like a dining table with a large seating capacity.

Natural Lighting and Ventilation

Sustainability solutions start at home. Measures to lower consumption of energy and water do not just lead to lesser utility bills but also contribute less to greenhouse gas emissions. Apart from using less electricity and water, you can incorporate sustainability measures in your building design.

This means you will need less light during the day and nature’s fresh breeze will surround your home, instead of turning on air conditioning for cooling the house. Ask your home renovations and remodeling service provider or a local Excel Builders to craft a design that allows natural lighting and ventilation to come inside the house.

Big Plants

Desert plants are the usual staple for decor inside the house. But it is 2019, and trends change over time. Small plants, flowering or non-flowering, are also attractive. Nowadays, big plants are eye-catching accessories that can attract attention. Before you purchase bold plants, you need to know the relevant information such as water and sunlight requirements to keep plants healthy and green.

Floral Patterns

While people live in a modern world, everybody loves a design redux for styles that were trendy in the past. In 2019, floral patterns have risen to the occasion. You might think the floral pattern thrived during your grandma’s adolescent period. Well, yes indeed. But filling your home with floral design may be a better replacement for bland or flashy colors that dominated the previous years.

Fortunately, floral print today is redesigned with contemporary lines and is much bolder than in years past. There is a list of fresh design for your floral patterns, from orchids to cherry blossoms, to give your room an updated look. 

Multi-Functional Space

Whether you’re limiting furniture to save space or just practicing less is more through minimalism, a multi-functional space can work wonders at home. You can remodel existing furniture pieces or purchase new ones that offer more than just one function, such as a bed with pull-out drawers or ottomans with added storage.

You can also design two or more rooms in one space, such as an office space in a living room or transforming kitchen counters into a workstation. Success in multi-functional space depends on layout. The design should manifest proper balance between two or more functions, and clearly indicate the division between spaces.

Bar Area

You, your partner, friends and family members can enjoy the spirits and entertainment at your home by putting up a bar. You can display your prized wines, tequila and other liquor you want to enjoy. Hang those wine glasses, put in the rotating stools and roll out those barrels to start partying without going outside.

With a bar area, it’s easy for guests to get cold drinks while the party is hot on the dance floor. The bar does not have to be limited to drinking alcoholic beverages alone. You can also have your morning coffee, brew a late-night tea or whip up a smoothie at the bar.

Biophilia

It is now that we are seeing more and more people that are interacting with nature. By installing sustainable solutions at home or in the office, everyone is more involved today than on previous years when it comes to getting closer with nature. At home, people create gardens to commune with the environment. Now though, design has brought nature closer to you through biophilia. A biophilic setting expands beyond houseplants or floral patterns. It has design and decor that bring the sight, sound and smell of nature indoors.

So, how do you create this biophilia? For one, work with water. The sound of flowing water not only relaxes our senses, it also blocks noises caused by street sounds. Another element is to breathe in the fragrant scent of nature with aromatic candles or essential oils. Aim to create a space devoid of gadgets, equipment and screens. A biophilic setting wants us to awaken our senses and technology works against it. Just have a corner where distractions are absent.

There is a Santa Claus list of eclectic home design ideas you can experiment in your new dwelling or for an upcoming renovation. As long as it speaks to your style, character and beliefs, you can never be wrong with your choices.

 

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Whats So Special About Saltwater Pools

Saltwater pools are gaining popularity as an alternative to traditional chlorine pools. Saltwater pool owners enjoy key benefits, but it’s important to learn what you’re in for before deciding on the right type of pool for your home.

Here, we’ll clear up some common misconceptions about saltwater pools, and weigh the pros and cons of saltwater pools over traditional pools.

The Basics

In a traditional pool, the chlorine level is maintained by periodically adding chlorine to the pool. However, a saltwater pool generates salt chlorine from added salt by the process of chemical electrolysis, using a salt chlorine generator. This highlights an important fact: a saltwater pool is a chlorine pool, it simply uses an alternate means of chlorination. That being said, a saltwater pool’s chlorine content tends to be much lower than that of a traditional pool. The significantly lower chlorine content in a saltwater pool is much gentler on the skin, hair, and eyes.

 

But, What is a Salt Chlorine Generator?

A salt chlorine generator is a metal cell that carries a low voltage electrical current. The generator is installed inline the pool’s existing pump system so the water is pumped through the generator before being returned to the pool. As the water passes through the metal cell, the current splits the salt into water and hypochlorous acid, which provides the disinfecting function normally achieved by adding chlorine.

A saltwater generator creates salt chlorine from simple table salt (NaCl), eliminating the need to handle chlorine. Because the chemical electrolysis converts the salt back and forth between salt and salt chlorine, and because salt does not evaporate (unlike chlorine), there is a reduced need to replenish the pool’s chlorine content. Still, the chlorine content of a saltwater pool must be monitored and salt must be added, as appropriate, to maintain safe levels.

 

Is It Like Swimming in The Ocean?

Note quite. The salinity of a saltwater pool is about one-tenth that of seawater. In fact, a saltwater pool is less salty than human tears. In the ocean, it’s easier to float on your back due to the added buoyancy of the salt. Saltwater pools don’t provide the effect quite as well.

The reduced salt of a saltwater pool in comparison with the ocean has a few benefits. You won‘t feel the “salty” feeling on your skin and hair quite as intensely after drying off. A pool’s water also does not sting your eyes in the same way ocean water will.

 

How Do I Convert My Pool?

Converting a traditional chlorine pool to a saltwater pool is fairly easy, but can be expensive. First, you would need to determine what size pool you have and install a salt chlorine generator capable of handling the volume. Salt chlorine generators range in cost from several hundred dollars to thousands of dollars. If you are not completely confident in your understanding of the system, you might also want to high a professional to do the installation so as to avoid damage to your equipment. It’s also important to not that the salt chlorine generator will need to be replaced every few years.

Then, you need to determine how much salt your pool needs. Pool salt test strips can tell you your pool’s existing salt level so you can accurately determine how much you need to add. Again, a saltwater pool uses simple table salt which should be easy to find. After you add the salt, you should run the pump (but NOT the salt chlorine generator), for 24 hours to allow the salt to evenly mix with the pool water. After that, you should test the water for appropriate salt, free chlorine, pH, cyanuric acid, total alkalinity, and calcium hardness, before running the salt chlorine generator. This process is referred to as “balancing the pool water.”

 

Are Saltwater Pools Low Maintenance?

Again, we’re here to debunk a common misconception. While saltwater pools require reduced maintenance steps, the water must still be routinely tested and adjusted to maintain proper sanitation. The salt chlorine generator cell must also be inspected at regular intervals for buildup and debris. Calcium buildup is a common issue in salt chlorine generators.

 

Is It Worth It?

The general consensus has been that the benefits of a saltwater pool far outweigh the negatives. The popularity of saltwater pools is on the rise as people appreciate the improved swimming experience:

  • The low salinity of the water means that very little salt remains on the skin.
  • The significantly lower chlorine level gives the water a softer feel, and is gentler on skin, hair, eyes, and even clothing.
  • Not having to physically handle toxic liquid chlorine or tablets has also been a big selling point among pool owners. Owners also appreciate the savings from no longer needing to purchase chlorine.
  • Also, there is generally less loss of chlorine to the environment with a saltwater pool than there is in a traditional pool.
  • Restoring a saltwater pool’s chlorine level can be as easy as simply adding some table salt.

 

While the benefits of saltwater pools are clear, it’s important for a potential owner to know the facts about what they are and what they are not:

  • A saltwater pool is not quite like the ocean. The salinity of a saltwater pool is far lower than that of seawater.
  • Installing a saltwater pool requires a higher initial investment, and fixing any broken equipment can be more expensive.
  • A saltwater pool is not low maintenance. Maintaining a sanitary saltwater pool requires consistency and attention to detail. All other parameters required for a safe pool still need maintenance.
  • Since a saltwater pool simply employs an alternate means of chlorination, many of the same issues that come up with a traditional pool will persist with a saltwater pool.
  • Salt can be corrosive to equipment surrounding your pool.

 

About the author:

Jason Caldwell is a Seattle-based writer and contributor to lifestyle blogs and magazines. His clients include An online swimming pools supply company. When he’s not running up against a deadline, he enjoys planning DIY projects and cooking for his family.

 

 

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You’ve settled on a new home! Whether you’re building or buying, it’s a time of great excitement and hopes for the future. Acquiring a new home goes hand in hand with the desire to live a better lifestyle than before. For many new homeowners, this includes living more sustainably.

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Here are some top picks for eco-friendly improvements that you can incorporate into your new home. Or, if your home already has sustainable features, use them to make it even greener.

1. Insulate the basement.

Most contractors and homeowners now understand the value of wall and attic insulation. However, did you know that up to 40 percent of the heat loss in a building can take place through the basement? Many people, including contractors, are reluctant to insulate basements. This is because in the past, incorrectly installed basement insulation projects created serious moisture and mold issues in many homes. However, by using modern, approved methods for basement insulation, you can avoid these problems. A properly insulated basement not only reduces your energy bills, it also becomes more pleasant, usable space. Just be sure whoever installs your basement insulation is familiar with proper vapor barrier placement and other basement insulation best practices.

2. Make smart landscaping choices.

Good landscaping can make the difference between a good looking home and a stunning one, but it can also affect your eco footprint. Well-placed trees and shrubs can help reduce your energy bills by sheltering your home from summer heat and/or chilling winds. Planting native species that can handle the climate in your area with minimal care can reduce your water bill dramatically, as well as provide food and shelter for native wildlife. Plus, installing water conservation devices such as rain barrels or weather-smart irrigation controllers will also help save water and keep your yard looking great without spending a bundle on water.

3. Choose eco-friendly materials.

Whether you’re building a deck, replacing a floor, or choosing the perfect pavement for your new drive, don’t just choose the first material that strikes your fancy. Do your research and find out what materials may be available that will suit your needs with less impact on the environment. Consider locally made, recycled, reclaimed and natural materials. You may be surprised at how affordable and/or beautiful some of these can be.

4. Lighten your lighting.

Did you know that on average, Americans spend 14 percent of their household electricity dollars on lighting alone?  One of the best ways to shave your lighting costs is to build more daylighting into your home. Skylights and light tubes are easy to install and will pay for themselves over time.  If you are building new, be sure to orient your home and place your windows to take advantage of available sunlight.  Installing LED bulbs is another investment that will save you money over time. Also, be sure to put any exterior lighting on a timer or use motion sensor devices so that the lights will only be on when you need them.

5. Go green with solar.

Yes, it’s a big investment, but nothing displays your commitment to a green lifestyle like solar panels on your roof. A photovoltaic or solar hot water system will pay for itself in a few years. After that, it will provide you with free electricity or hot water for decades. With renewable energy incentives still in place in many areas, and creative financing for solar becoming more common, you might be surprised how affordable it can be, too.

Going green in your new home is not just the right thing to do; eco-friendly choices often are healthier for your family. They can improve your home’s appearance and comfort level, and, smart green choices can save you a lot of money in the long run. Go ahead — make your new home as green as can be.

 

Ryan McNeill is the president of Renewable Energy Corporation, a Maryland based solar company. 

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One of the brightest forms of current ecological activity is in the area of metal construction. There are now a whole host of ways that steel buildings can be actively used to enhance and organize all areas of home activity. Versatile and durable, steel constructions are environmentally friendly from the outset. Companies such as Future Buildings now specialize in provided prefabricated steel buildings that are quick to build and create very little waste. Ideal for a whole range of uses, here are five ways that these green designs can enhance a home.

Garages

Steel is the most sustainable of all construction materials and can offer the most environmentally aware approach to home activity. Advanced forms of garages and car ports can be an essential for most families, presenting an ideal amount of space and security. The long-lasting durability of steel is an obvious must for car owners looking to store their vehicle in the safest way. The huge advantage of using a modern steel building for this task is that every design can be individually tailored to each user’s requirements. This can mean a tidy and well balanced garage.

Storage

Practical storage solutions can be an essential element of ecological living.  The best forms of steel constructions can be put up in far less time than more traditional building methods, offering a greater amount of time for designing exactly how best to store items.  Outbuildings and annexes can be a great way of de-cluttering the home itself, ultimately creating more space in and around the house.

Workshop and office

Households and businesses are both beginning to see the advantages of modern steel constructions in the practical form of offices and additional workshops.  A home office can be easily installed on the grounds of a house quickly and conveniently.  Presenting a fully secure location for all working activities, a green office space can make working around the house a well organized – and decisively green – activity.

Garden

The garden is often key to enjoyable relaxation around the home. With the latest forms of steel construction this enjoyment can be heightened even further.  The practicality and ease of use of the latest styles of metal constructions can bring an extra element of forward-thinking to every home garden. Able to safely store gardening equipment and horticultural items, the latest forms of steel construction present the ideal way of looking after the garden in the greenest possible way.  Lighting and heating elements can also be safely installed, allowing the growing and careful cultivation of plants.

Living

The latest styles of steel buildings can be used as beautifully contained guest houses or annexed living quarters. The wipe clean edges of a carefully constructed pre-fab space can help save on cleaning products and detergents. Steel does not rust or require any form of treatment or extra care. The material is certainly the greenest of all available home construction materials, and can make an extra living space both comfortable and perfectly secure. With the most solid of structural supports, a futuristic steel building can make a valuable addition to every home.

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As we move further into the 21st century, the general populace is becoming increasingly concerned about the environment and new ways to apply green living to all aspects of our lives. Green living (many ideas available for interested homeowners here). The roofing industry is no exception. There are some products, such as metal roofs, that lower your heating costs. There are others that help by recycling post-consumer products such as tires, milk jugs, waste wood, and various other plastics, though at a slightly higher cost to the customer. There is one option, however, that is by far the greenest both literally and figuratively.
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Called by many, “the living roof,” it’s by far the most environmentally friendly option for your next building project. Not only does it help lower your heating and cooling costs by adding additional insulating layers on to your existing roof, it helps reduce harmful storm water runoff as well. Storm water runoff has recently been discovered to be contaminating no less than 13 percent of rivers, 18 percent of lakes, and 32 percent of estuaries across the United States.

Here are several benefits to having a living roof:

Reduce Energy Usage
The green roof can reduce your heating and cooling costs by adding additional insulation and mass to your roof. The natural evaporation process of rainwater on your roof also contributes to lowering the cooling load on a building anywhere from 50 to 90 percent.

Reduce Storm Water Runoff
By capturing and absorbing rainwater before it has a chance to create runoff in the streets and in the storm drains, it reduces the overall amount of pollution that makes it into the water table. The water that does manage to runoff will have already been filtered by the plants and the soil foundation that they grow from. Streams, rivers, lakes, and ponds can more easily sustain their natural ecosystem without dangerous foreign pollutants.

Helps Absorb Pollutants
Living roofs can help to absorb pollutants such as carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide out of the air and replace them with pure oxygen. This can be especially helpful in the city and can even lead towards cooling the overall temperature of a city by reducing the heat island effect.

Increase the Life-span of Your Roof
Green roofs provide extra layers of protection on top of your water proofing membrane to reduce the environmental wear and UV damage that it would normally endure. Hail and other such dangerous weather would have little to no impact on the integrity of your roof due to the nature of the construction.

Tax Incentives
There are many tax incentives that are provided to both residential and commercial business owners who choose to install living roofs. New York City and Philadelphia are two such cities that provide tax credits for “greening” your roof.

Of course, nothing is ever perfect, so here are a few downsides to living roofs:

Higher Cost
If you’re constructing a new building, the cost of initially installing a green roof can be higher. Wait, aren’t you just planting a garden on your roof? Not exactly. It’s actually constructed in many layers which are as follows:

  • Base (concrete slab, roof decking, etc.)
  • Sub-Membrane
  • Waterproofing Membrane
  • Drain Mat
  • Soil Filter Fabric
  • Actual Soil Layer
  • Plant Layer

Additional Structural Support
Since it’s carrying so much additional weight, you will have to add additional structural support to meet local building codes and safety standards.

The facts should speak for themselves, and the pros certainly outweigh the cons. A living, green roof is the way to go if you’re really wanting to go green!

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