Archive for the ‘Energy Saving Tips’ Category

Tips to Keep Warm This Winter

Thursday, January 6th, 2011

Solid Insulated CurtainsTurn down. Seal off. Save up. With a little planning and a little knowledge, you’ll be protected from the cold and save money this winter.

Here you’ll find strategies to help you save energy during the cold winter months. Some of the tips below are free and can be used on a daily basis to increase your savings; others are simple and inexpensive actions you can take to ensure maximum savings.

Turn down –
Setting your thermostat at 65 degrees during the day and lowering it to 60 degrees when you’re not at home or asleep can save you hundreds of dollars a year. If you install a programmable thermostat, it’ll take care of that for you. You probably won’t notice the difference if you lower your thermostat by a few degrees but you will notice the difference in your heating bill.

Seal off -
Rebecca QuiltKeep your heat where it’s needed by closing heating vents in unused rooms. If some rooms of your house do not have doors you can hang a quilted blanket or comforter across the doorway to keep the cold inside that room from escaping into the rooms you are heating. Make sure any open vents are clean and that furniture isn’t blocking them. Cover drafty windows by using a heavy-duty, clear plastic sheet on a frame or tape clear plastic film to the inside of your window frames during winter. Make sure the plastic is sealed tightly to the frame to help reduce infiltration. Install tight fitting, insulating drapes or shades on windows that still feel drafty after weatherizing. Seal the air leaks around utility cut-throughs for pipes (“plumbing penetrations”), gaps around chimneys and recessed lights in insulated ceilings, and unfinished spaces behind cupboards and closets. If you never use your fireplace, plug and seal the chimney flue.

Take Advantage of Heat from the Sun
Open curtains on your south-facing windows during the day to allow sunlight to naturally heat your home, and close them at night to reduce the chill you may feel from cold windows.

Maintain Your Heating Systems
Schedule service for your heating system. Find out what maintenance is required to keep your heating system operating efficiently. Replace your furnace filter once a month or as needed. For wood and pellet-burning heaters: clean the flue vent regularly and clean the inside of the appliance periodically with a wire brush. Keep your fireplace damper closed unless a fire is going. When you use the fireplace, reduce heat loss by opening dampers in the bottom of the firebox (if provided) or open the nearest window slightly—approximately 1 inch—and close doors leading into the room. Lower the thermostat setting to between 50° and 55°F.

Braided Log CarrierUse Your Fireplace
Burning wood for heat is an easy way to lower your heating bill and it is also a quick way to heat up a room. If you spend most of your time at home in a certain room, make that room the one with the fireplace in it. Install tempered glass doors and a heat-air exchange system that blows warmed air back into the room. Purchase grates made of C-shaped metal tubes to draw cool room air into the fireplace and circulate warm air back into the room. Add caulking around the fireplace hearth for extra insulation.

Wear Layered Clothing
The best way to stay warm in the winter is to dress warmly. You may feel silly wearing a hat around the house but studies show that if your head is warm the rest of you will feel warmer too. Wear wool socks to keep your feet warm and layer long sleeves and sweaters – add layers when you are cold and remove them if you get too warm.

Utilize Heat That’s There Anyway
When you take a shower with hot water, keep the bathroom door open so the heated steam can penetrate the cold in other rooms. Don’t turn on the ventilation fan or it will quickly suck away the heat. Cooking on the stove or with the oven can also generate heat to help you stay warm.

Orange Tabby Door StopStriped Insulated Curtains

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Breezy and Beautiful – Your New Curtains

Thursday, September 23rd, 2010

Hydrangea Sheer CurtainAs the summer winds down, you may be opening your windows more often. There’s nothing like a cool, fall breeze to remind you of your window dressing! With so many options to choose from, where do you start?

The first place to start is with function. What do you want your window treatment to accomplish? If you’re looking for just a light veil of privacy that lets in plenty of light, then sheers are for you. Sheers are now available in light colors, but white usually works best with all décor and is not too ‘over the top.’ If you’re looking for a little more visual interest in your sheers, then try ones with a nice pattern woven into the fabric. They will cast interesting shadows, too. Lace sheers are tricky – make sure they don’t ‘age’ your room.

Let’s say you’re looking for a more ‘earthy’ option and a little more opacity. Bamboo blinds or roman shades are very stylish and functional. They are also lighter than full-on curtains. Be careful that you do not have children or pets that enjoy pulling cords.

Nothing brings a room together like a window perfectly accessorized in the right curtain panel. If you’re just looking to make a polished statement, floor-length panels on either side of the window are perfect. Tabbed panels offer more of a casual look and will hang longer on your curtain rod. Grommet panels look very fashion-forward and modern. Grommet panels are also very easy to move back and forth along the rod.

Solid Insulated Black-out CurtainsInsulated panels are practical for blocking light and cold. They are heavier and work well with highly ornate rods and finials. Insulated panels also help block noise and can cut down on heating costs in the winter.

Usually curtains come in standard lengths: 24″, 36″, 54″, 63″, and 84″. Typically, you want to cover your window from the top of the frame to either the lip of the windowsill or the floor. Always measure first to determine the correct length. If you want a customized length, look for cotton panels that will be easy to cut and hem.

Finally, make sure your curtain selection complements the rest of your décor. Notice we did not say ‘match.’ Matching valances, swags, and panels make a very specific look and can make your room all about your window treatments. If you have very little on the walls in terms of art or accessories, then a full matching set of curtains may work. More often, curtain sets work well in bedrooms when looking to add a luxurious hotel-style feel.

So think about what you need, measure, and enjoy shopping! Your house will look fresh with new window treatments, just in time for fall!

Paramount steel add-a-rodClassic Country Check Curtains

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Chill Out – tips for staying cool this summer

Thursday, August 5th, 2010

Beverage DispenserThere are many obvious methods to stay cool in the summer. Drink lots of water, go swimming, or go to the mall. But what about the food you eat? Or the light bulbs in your house? These ideas may seem strange at first, but when applied will work wonders.

You Are What You Eat
Preparing and eating raw food has many health benefits, as well as keeping you and your house cool. Operating cooking appliances during the peak hours of the day will heat your house tremendously. Ovens tend to heat a house the fastest. Avoiding hot appliances will help you stay cool in the summer.

Eating a cool meal of fresh fruits and vegetables will keep your body temperature down and help you stay cool in the summer. A simple salad or slaw makes a great summer dinner to eat on the patio while your house cools down. Avoiding spicy food will help as well. This doesn’t directly affect temperature, but spicy food adds to the uncomfortable feeling of being hot. Avoiding alcohol and caffeine will also keep you cool by maintaining hydration.

Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs
Incandescent light bulbs put off a ton of heat, and will make the temperature of your house rise. Switching to compact fluorescent (CFL) bulbs will keep the temperature in check. The added benefit to switching is the money that you will save on your utility bill. CFL’s only use a fraction of the energy that incandescent bulbs do, which will quickly offset their increased initial price. They will help your house and you stay cool in the summer.

No AC? No problem!
Cottage Porch SwingSummer can be a rough time for those that don’t have air conditioning. When outside temperatures reach triple-digits, the best thing to do may be to get out of the house until it cools off. Here are some tips if vacating isn’t possible.

Portable air conditioning is the perfect appliance to get you through a heat wave and help you stay cool in the summer. They can be moved around the house as needed (if there is a window nearby for exhaust). These units only cost a fraction of what a central AC unit does, and require no modification to your house.

You can create your own breezeway with a window fan. Open windows on parallel sides of your house and place a window fan in the sill. You can point the fan to draw air in from the outside or pull the stale air out of your house. Either way works well to keep your house cool, but will be aided by the direction of the wind blowing outside.

Use thick curtains to keep sunny windows shaded. Make sure to keep the window closed during this time. As soon as the sun passes, open the curtains and the window to allow cool air to come in.

Concrete traps heat throughout the day and releases it as the evening progresses. How do you beat the “heat island?” Spray it down! Just before the sun sets, take your hose and spray off the concrete around your house and the exterior walls to eliminate the stored heat. Before you do this, take note of how much warmer the concrete is before you spray it. It will make a dramatic difference. As soon as the water hits the concrete, evaporation begins and it sucks the heat right out of ground, and will help keep your house cool.

Good luck, and stay cool this summer!

Scroll Hose HolderFort Hill Pendant

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