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When people think about the basement, they immediately imagine a scary place. Decorating the basement can be weird, but that doesn’t have to stop you from turning it into a home living space. Whatever you want and need, there are lots of choices of how to reconsider your basement’s improvement. Give it a chance and make it as stylish as your main-floor living room. With fresh paint, ambient lightning and finishing touches, you will transform it into a cozy space you will actually want to spend time in.

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Basement Colors

Start by installing lights that will make the room feel bigger and make up for the lack of windows. Also, table lamps will add style to the room. A TV attached to the wall will create that home-theater effect for movie lovers.

Since many basements don’t have windows, curtains can be used to create a room divider. This is also a great idea for unfinished walls or just an idea for decorating the space. Most basements are dark spaces, so if you want to brighten yours, paint the walls white or very light shades. This will make the room look fresh and airy. To add more light and add continuity choose a flooring material that is the same color as the walls.

Make Sure Your Walls Are Insulated

The basement is one of the most important areas of your home that needs insulation. Basement insulation controls the temperature and keeps the mold out. A bad smell can be a common problem for many people and this usually happens because basements have concrete walls, which absorb moisture and create that bad smell.

Insulation products are optional, but the investment is worth it. Make sure you invest in quality products for insulating the walls and ask for advice from a professional worker. Also, there is an important thing you should know about insulation: many people are using cheap products just because they think basements don’t need that much investment. Being located under the ground, they think they are more protected and sometimes, they start the insulation by themselves. In this case, consider that the insulation really needs to be done correctly, otherwise the space where the insulation touches the wall is empty, mold and moisture will install.

Consider the benefits of closed-cell foam to insulate concrete basement walls. It has excellent moisture resistance: it can fill in all the gaps and it gives you the best protection against mold. It is true that is a lot more expensive but you will save money on energy bills.

Create Storage Solutions

Even though your basement usually serves as a general storage area, you can give it a higher value by decorating it with shelves and furniture. This can help you hide all of your unwanted stuff.

If you use your basement properly, you can add that much-needed storage space to your home. If you have multiple storage boxes, label them so you can choose what you need easily. Walls with labeled baskets are great as well, especially for storing small items that you can’t place anywhere else.

Wine lovers can transform their basement space into a winery. Build a wine rack or buy one that comes in units, each storing more bottles. You can go up to the ceiling if needed.

Add Heating

Adding heat sources to your basement is necessary, but it may not be enough. If it is the only way of keeping your basement warm, unfortunately, this source of heating will be mostly wasted. The best way to add heat to your basement is to extend your heating system already supplying heat to the rest of your house. Click here for tips on how to improve your heating systems.

Insulating the basement walls and floor will help to hold in the heat, preventing its loss through the space that is not protected. Before installing any supplemental heat, make sure you seal all the gaps and insulated the walls that could cause heat loss. Also, you can install a floor heating system and add rugs for a warmer feeling.

You can locate cold spots with a thermal camera. It is highly recommendable to invest in this tool or just rent one from a tool rental center. With a thermal camera, you can view the areas where your energy losses are occurring. There is also a cheaper version available but requires more moving around the room to detect the spots where the energy is lost.

Don’t Forget About Art

The basement has limited natural light and it often needs more attention when it comes to decorating. For the way the basement will look is up to you, but it’s important for it to be consistent with the rest of the home décor and reflect your family vibe. Give the basement space a personal touch and attach family pictures on the wall or different art that you like.

Artwork is a perfect way to add personality to your basement and create that warm and cozy feeling. It is up to you how you want your personal magic space to look like. Choose abstract paintings and hang them on the walls for a realistic look. Take photographs of things that inspire you or bring your old magazines and photos and hang them above your desk. Hang things from the ceiling like sparkly Christmas ornaments, colored lights, your childhood’s favorite tiny stuffed animals or things that have a meaning to you.

Many artists find it hard to create their own little working corners. A negative and cramped space can affect your creativity and make you less productive. Having your own art studio can be inexpensive and easy to set up. Artificial light is important because it gives you control over your studio. It is best if the light comes from the ceiling because it will illuminate more of your work.

Exploring various basement decorating ideas isn’t that hard, so don’t let that space be occupied by loads of unnecessary stuff. You can spend quality time with friends and family in a space that you’d never thought you’d get to bring to life in such a stylish way. You really are a creative person, so be creative with your space too.

 

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There is a definite drive from homeowners to integrate more efficient upgrades into their homes. One of the most popular home additions has been to mount solar panel arrays on the roof to help owners go off the grid.

The trend toward a more sustainable and environmentally responsible lifestyle has pushed the popularity behind making your home solar sufficient. Not only can you save a bunch of money on your energy bills, but you can also drastically reduce your carbon footprint when you decide to go solar.

Before you make the switch, there are a few things that you should consider, including getting a new Allstate Home Insurance quote to accommodate your updates. Switching over to solar is not as simple as just mounting some solar panels. Here’s what you will need to know before making the decision to run your home using solar power.

Incentives

One of the largest driving forces behind the solar trend is money savings. Once you get past the initial investment, which can be large, you can enjoy lifelong savings and even make some money back. The great thing about this initiative is that you could even get help footing the installation bill for your solar system.

Check with your municipality and talk to your accountant about available grants or tax breaks for adding solar that you can take advantage of. Making updates to your home to convert it into a more eco-friendly dwelling can actually make you money in incentives.

Warranties

Each solar dealer will have their own guarantees to cover the installation process, but it’s important to understand exactly what their warranties will cover. You don’t want to get stuck with panels that are only warrantied by the manufacturer. Standard warranties should cover your panels for up to 25 years and your inverter for up to 10 years.

Property Value Boost

If you still need more convincing that going solar is right for you, you should know that converting and adding a solar array can increase the market value of your home. Projects like adding solar, a kitchen remodel or developing a home heat recovery system are among the most popular home updates.

Along with saving money on your energy bills, you can expect an increase of up to 4% on your home’s value. This can make for an impressive return on your investment.

Inverters

When you are shopping for the elements of your solar power system you will need to choose an inverter that is best for your array. There are two different kinds of inverters; central or micro. A central inverter will be wired to draw in power from all of your panels at the same time. Microinverters are attached to each individual solar panel.

Size

The most common question that dealers get from homeowners is, “How many panels will I need to run my whole house?”. There are too many variables to answer this question to suit everyone. The number of panels that you will need will depend on the square footage of your home, how solar reliant you want to be and the wattage of your panels.

Any easy way to estimate how many solar panels you will need for your home is to follow this formula. Take your hourly household energy needs and multiply it by the number of hours of prime sunlight that you will get. Then take that number and divide it by the panel wattage.

 

# hourly energy needs  X  Peak sunlight hours

Panel Wattage

  

Conclusion

If you are interested in creating a more self-sufficient and greener home by adding solar, make sure to do your homework before you invest. Get help with funding, learn about the equipment and increase the value of your home with a solar power renovation.

 

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When you have children, change is to be expected. Not only do you have to adjust your life so it works around your children, but you will also have to adjust your home. When you make changes to your home, you need to make sure you choose wisely. Wrong decisions can reduce the value of your property and can end up costing you a lot more money than the improvement was worth, but when something is done right, not only will your property go up in value, but your family will be happier for it. To help you make the right decision, here are five home improvements you should consider if you have children.

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Convert Rooms

Reinventing a room can increase the value of your home as well as make your life easier. You can convert spaces that aren’t being used, such as a garage, basement or attic space, into something that could be used. You could change them into an extra bedroom, a second living room, a games room or a room that can be used by your child if they have a particular hobby they want to excel in, such as music, craft or exercise.

Consider a Playroom

A playroom is another good idea if you have the space and they have many benefits. This can keep the rest of your house tidy and in good condition because your children will have their own area where they can play and make a mess. If you decide to move home, this feature would appeal to buyers who have or plan to start a family.

Add an Outdoor Play Area

Exercise and fresh air are essential for child development. If you have a good-sized back or front yard, then installing an outdoor play area for your children is a great way to ensure they get outside, and it will be a safe area for them to do so. If you don’t have the time or skill to create your own outdoor play area, you should contact KG Landscape to help you create a safe, fenced play area.

Increase Storage

Nowadays, people like a minimalist look when it comes to their homes. This can be a hard thing to achieve when you have children, but it isn’t impossible. Making alterations that increase the amount of storage your home has will increase the value of your property and will make it look neat, tidy, and modern while you live there. It can also make your home safer, especially if you have young, curious toddlers walking about.

Improve Your Home’s Efficiency

There is no denying that children are expensive, so making changes that help to save you money as well as increase the value of your property whilst helping the environment are always great ideas. One of these changes would be to improve how energy efficient your home is. You can do this by adding installation, adding renewable energy sources, and installing double glazed windows. These are just a handful of things you can do.

To summarize, when you decide to make changes to your family home, space, efficiency, and usefulness are the key things you need to consider. If the alterations will help you, then there is a high chance it would help someone else, which leads to a rise in property price.

 

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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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The cold weather can send you in frenzy, especially if your furnace system is acting up or has some hiccups. However, keep in mind that there are some common problems that you can fix solo, as opposed to calling the professionals to repair it.

Here are some common furnace problems you are bound to experience occasionally and how to fix them.

1.     No heat troubleshooting

If your furnace is not producing any heat then you could try some DIY things before calling in the experts. Some of them are:

  • Verifying that your thermostat setting is on heat
  • Checking your pilot light and gas valve, you can turn the gas valve to an ON position and relight your pilot light to see if they are both working
  • Reset the furnace motor, as chances are that it may be overloaded. Just press the reset button once if nothing happens then try again after 30 minutes
  • Also ensure that your furnace has power, by flipping its switch ON
  • You can also check if your fuse or breaker that powers the thermostat is ON and working and not blown. You can turn it ON if it is not and if it is blown just replace it

2.     Thermostat malfunctions

If your furnace thermostat is not working properly, you can try some home DIY tasks to get it running again. For instance, you could turn the power OFF and remove the cover before cleaning it with a soft brush or vacuum.

Also, check if there are corrosion signs before removing it with an electronic contact cleaner. You can then change its battery if this is the problem.

3.     Faulty pilot lights

If your furnace pilot lights keep going out, then there could be a couple of problems like a loose or faulty thermocouple. You can just tighten it if it is the issue. Another thing is that you pilot orifice may be clogged. You can try to clear this clog with a wire piece.

It could also mean that your settings are too low for the pilot flame. You can make the flame adjustment by turning its screw for a proper size, probably between 1.5-2 inches of flame with no yellow. You can consult your furnace manual for better adjustments.

In addition, remember to shut off the gas, switch or circuit breaker before starting this kind of inspection and fixing.

4.     Broken fans

You can check if your fan is actually broken by turning your heat OFF on your thermostat, then turn to Fan Only or Auto position. If your fan does not turn ON, then it is broken.

You can then check if your circuit breaker has tripped if not, then you will need to replace your broken furnace fan.

5.     Bad electrical connections

If your furnace does not have any power, check your breaker box for a blown fuse or a tripped breaker. For the blown fuse you can replace it but for the tripped breaker just turn it OFF and ON again. If both do not work then your connections might be faulty and you may need the services of a furnace technician like Advanpro Calgary, to fix it.

6.     Air flow problems

This problem often means that something is preventing the air from flowing within your furnace. So just check your furnace filter, it can be dirty or not installed properly. Put it in the correct position.

You can also check the vents ensure they are open, as closed vents can lead to unnecessary heat buildup within your furnace.

If the problem persists, try pressing the rest button. You can try resetting it again after 30 minutes if it does not get any better.

7.     Dirty or clogged air filter

In case you have a dirty or clogged air filter, just replace it. You can buy the same one in your furnace. Take a picture and ask the store owner to help you locate it.

Take note that most filters will have arrows showing the direction of airflow. These arrows should face your furnace duct work.

8.     Blower runs all the time

If your furnace gives you this problem, check your thermostat switch, if it is set to ON, then your blower will always be running. Change the setting to Auto, this way it turns itself ON and OFF as required when it reaches the set temperature.

If problem persists, call the furnace experts.

9.     Furnace age

Furnaces are built to last for long, but none can run forever. So maybe it might be time to replace it, especially if it has reached or passed its manufacturer warranty. So be informed and up-to-date with your system.

 

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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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In the list of must-have features in modern homes, a long-lasting and efficient HVAC system ranks up there alongside sturdy foundation and dependable roof. The home’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning system determines the home’s livability regardless of the time of year. Aside from altering indoor climate to cool it down or heat it up, the HVAC system plays an important role in preserving indoor air quality. However, efficiency is an aspect of the HVAC system that more homeowners are paying attention to. In this post, we wanted to spend some time sharing some research we performed on various HVAC efficiency ratings and data.

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What an Efficient HVAC System can do for your Home

The primary function of the HVAC system is to maintain thermal comfort inside the home. In warmer climates, homeowners rely on the air conditioning system keep their homes comfortable. During the cold season, the heating system ensures that indoor temperatures can be maintained to comfortable and safe levels.

The ventilation part of the system promotes airflow to preserve air quality. It is also the part responsible for eliminating excess moisture to prevent mold development, the spread of airborne diseases, allergens and unpleasant odors.

Controlling indoor temperature also ensures preservation of heat and moisture-sensitive furnishings and accessories. Air conditioning and proper ventilation promote a healthy indoor environment.

Types of HVAC Systems

The design of the HVAC system will vary from one home to the next, depending on the homeowner’s requirements and preferences.

Window Unit

When space is limited or when the home’s design restricts retrofitting with air ducts, window units provide a solution. This enclosed unit includes an air cooling system, an exterior heat exchange and an interior heat exchange. Window units are practical options for smaller rooms, but these installations can interfere with the architectural style, create noise when operating and cause unsightly leaks.

The Split System

The split system consists of an outdoor unit containing the compressor and the condenser while the inside unit contains the evaporating coil. This centralized setup requires a motor blower to force the air to circulate. Most of today’s homes are designed for central air conditioning using the split design with duct work located in the ceiling, basement or attic.

Packaged Air Conditioning

A packaged HVAC system is a pre-assembled unit that can be used to control temperature and ventilate specific parts of the house but not the entire house. A typical packaged unit will have a capacity of 400 cubic feet per minute of airflow for every ton of refrigerant. A larger tonnage means larger capacity, but it will require the installation of duct work.

How to Choose HVAC Systems

A new HVAC system is a big-ticket purchase: The upfront costs are substantial whether it is an all-new installment or a replacement of an existing system. Choosing the right equipment will depend on many factors.

ASHRAE Standards

The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers defined the standards for determining minimum ventilation rates, humidity and temperature ranges to make sure that enclosed spaces are fit for human occupancy. The HVAC industry uses the ASHRAE standard to recommend the type of equipment suitable to the given space. In residential buildings, the recommended rate of air change to maintain acceptable indoor air quality is .35 air changes per hour but not less than 15 cubic feet per minute for every occupant.

Home Features Affect HVAC Design

Clearly, the size of the home and its design features has an impact on the choice of HVAC system. A report from the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy states that the type of HVAC equipment installed will have a significant effect on system efficiency and maintenance costs. The report emphasizes that differences in local climate will affect choice of equipment.

Load calculation takes into consideration the roof style, ceiling heights and type of insulation among other factors. An oversized system wastes energy but will also run inefficiently because the system will not operate at peak performance. Home renovation guru Bob Vila recommends that the capacity of the system should not exceed 25 percent of the calculated heating load.

Efficiency

For HVAC equipment, SEER or seasonal energy efficiency ratio is an indication of how much energy is utilized for cooling. Higher SEER numbers mean more efficient systems with many of the newer models ranging from 10 to 18 SEER. Currently, 13 SEER is the required minimum in most states. The heating seasonal performance factor or HSPF measures heating pump efficiency.

The DOE’s Energy Star Program provides an additional framework for assessing energy efficiency of HVAC and other equipment. The program mandates the inclusion of an Energy Star label on most appliances. It is the bright yellow label attached to the unit that outlines key features, an estimate of annual fuel usage based on normal use and possible savings based on national energy costs.

Investing in Quality pays Off

HVAC systems come in a wide range of designs, features and prices. Opting for a system that offers longer warranties with a track record for durability and dependability may pay off in the long run even if the initial costs are higher. For these systems, energy efficiency, lower maintenance costs and design features such as quiet operations may be worth the extra costs.

According to CNN.com, the average expected life of HVAC equipment are as follows:

HVAC components: 15 to 25 years
Furnace: 15 to 20 years
Heat pumps: 16 years
Air conditioning: 10 – 15 years
Thermostats: replace as the technology changes

Comparing HVAC Units

Choosing the right HVAC system for your home can be complicated given the range of choices available. The following table summarizes some of the essential features of the more popular HVAC brands.

Lennox Collection American Standard Platinum Carrier Infinity Series Trane Rheem
SEER 25 21 21 20 17
Noise generated by operation(decibels) 59 55 65 72 71
Compressor Parts & Warranty 10-year limited warranty on compressor and other components, but some high-end models offer lifetime warranties. 12-year warranty on compressor and 10 years on other parts. 10-year warranty for the compressor and other parts although premium units may offer lifetime warranties. 12-year warranty for the compressor and 10-year warranty on parts 10-year unit replacement warranty and 10-year parts warranty.
Extra Features Some models offer solar-ready capabilities and Wi-Fi enabled control features. The AccuComfort technology in American Standard HVAC systems is set up to adjust in fractional increments instead of on and off. Carrier units are weatherproofed with Weather Armor Ultra Protection to enhance durability and increase life span. Weatherproofing is standard on outdoor units. Higher-end units offer Comfort Link communications technology that can be configured to optimize performance and provide smartphone management. An onboard diagnostic system and fault history code is standard on some models. The system can be configured to send problem alerts to the thermostat.

How HVAC Efficiency Results in Savings

An efficient HVAC system is an investment that pays back over time. The initial costs will be hefty because it will include equipment and installation costs. Installation expenses will vary depending on the type of installation, geographic location and other restrictions. At the outset, it is important to work with a licensed HVAC contractor experienced in installation and replacement.

To understand how a more efficient system results in savings, consider this hypothetical situation:

A homeowner is trying to decide between a 10-SEER unit and a 14-SEER unit. Based on Energy Star information, the 10-SEER that costs 1500 will result in utility bills of $125 per month. The 14-SEER unit will cost $2300, but utility bills will be reduced to $90 monthly. By spending $800 extra on a more efficient system, the monthly bill is reduced by $35, which means the 14-SEER unit pays for itself in about 23 months.

Other factors such as durability and routine maintenance requirements will also affect return on investment. However, the most important decision factor has to do with how the HVAC system enhances the homeowners’ quality of life and enjoyment of their property.

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References:
http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0072-shopping-home-appliances-use-energyguide-label
http://www.grntch.com/images/ASHRAE_Standard62-01_04_.pdf
http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/central-air-conditioning/buying-guide.htm
http://money.cnn.com/galleries/2008/news/0810/gallery.how_long_things_last.toh/4.html
http://www.pdhonline.org/courses/m149/m149content.pdf
http://central-air-conditioning-units-review.toptenreviews.com/

Choosing an HVAC System

http://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy12osti/52991.pdf

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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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Even before the economy took a nosedive, homeowners were looking for ways to save money. Home improvements can improve your property’s value while increasing energy efficiency. If you’re looking to replace some or all of your home’s windows, here’s what you can expect to pay. We have laid out the average cost of new home replacement windows.

New Home Windows
Best Case Scenario
You will save a lot of money if your existing window frames are in good condition. If the frames are free of major defects, you can replace just the windows and save up to half of the cost of replacement windows.

Only a certified contractor or other window installer should remove the old window and inspect the frame for any damage. That same contractor will be able to repair a salvageable frame or remove a damaged one, but any additional work will end up costing you money. Most contractors work for about $100 an hour, and frame replacement can easily add another $200 to your total bill.
After you have the measurements, you have enough information to order the replacement windows. The window size is fixed unless you want to enlarge the opening. For load bearing walls, that process is both time consuming and expensive, and you should expect additional labor to cost another $200-$300.

Average Window Materials and Prices
The windows themselves come in a variety of materials. Vinyl is relatively inexpensive and easy to maintain, but it usually doesn’t come in too many colors. Unfortunately, most paints will quickly fade and crack on vinyl after a few years. However, paint manufacturers like Benjamin Moore have begun selling paint specifically designed for vinyl surfaces.
Energy Efficient Vinyl Windows Being Installed
Other common materials include wood, aluminum, and fiberglass. Wood is an excellent insulator but is expensive compared to vinyl. It also holds up poorly in humid regions and can rot over time especially if rainwater is allowed to accumulate.

Aluminum is a lightweight metal that won’t corrode like iron. Many homeowners go with aluminum clad windows that encase the exterior surface in aluminum but leave the interior window wood for a beautiful appearance. Aluminum clad windows cost more but offer excellent weather resistance and insulation.

Fiberglass is a relatively new window material, and it offers a number of advantages over vinyl, wood, and aluminum. Like aluminum, it won’t corrode, rust, or rot. It can hold paint well, and it will insulate better than the other materials. Fiberglass contracts and expands with the temperature at roughly the same rate as glass, so it won’t leak as much air during the winter and summer months. By filling frame cavities with foam insulation, fiberglass windows offer the best insulation out of any type of window.

An average standard home window can cost as little as $300 for vinyl but 2-3 times as much for fiberglass. Wood and aluminum clad windows typically cost about $500-$700, and they offer a good compromise between cost and energy efficiency.

Triple-pane windows will also drive the cost up over double-pane windows, but they offer superior insulation. Insulating gas between the panes will also increase the overall cost but help save money on heating and cooling bills. Have a damaged frame? A new one will increase the cost by 50-100 percent including the additional labor required to tear out the old frame and install the new one.

Bottom Line
At a minimum, expect to pay on average at least $300 for materials and $100 for labor per window. If your home has 10 windows and you’re replacing all of them, the job will cost at least $4,000.

Once you add in extras like triple-pane windows or fiberglass frames, the material costs can increase up to about $1,000 for a standard window. That same 10 window home will cost about $11,000 instead.

Every frame that needs to be replaced will cost another $200-$700. With all of the bells and whistles for each window, you’re looking at anywhere from $1,000-$1,500 per window. Larger windows and additional work can add several thousand dollars more to the eventual cost.

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