Archive for the ‘Green Living’ Category

Tax Credits for Homeowners

In Green Living on May 13, 2009 at 4:06 pm

Federal tax credits have been reinstated for 2009 and apply to windows, doors, roofs, insulation, HVAC and non-solar water heaters up to $500.00. In addition, Austin Energy and Texas Gas Service offer rebates averaging $2000.00 for a total improvement package. Each improvement can help save you as much as 32 percent on your cooling bill.

Green homes in Austin Texas

In Green Living on May 6, 2009 at 4:21 pm

Green Homes in Austin Texas

Green Homes in Austin Texas

The City of Austin recently passed an ordinance relating to energy conservation audit and disclosure requirements in part for residential units. It is long winded and of course there are exceptions and allowable variances, but basically this new ordinance requires a seller to have this energy audit conducted before the sale of the residential property. I am not arguing if there should or shouldn’t be an audit or ratings, or whether they are good or bad. They are here and there will be more rules and regulations concerning energy efficiency in the future. I do agree that we, as a whole population need to improve how we utilize what energy there is available. Not being an expert on energy efficiency by any means there are some questions in my mind that need clarifying. Here are a couple of thoughts running through my head. Is it the amount of energy used or the efficiency of the energy used that is important? For example, there is a family of 4 living in a 2500 sq. ft. that home maximizes all of the energy features that are available today. No expense has been spared. They have an energy audit performed and their home is as efficient as can be at this time. They live their lives as a family of 4 would. Warm in the winter, cool in the summer.

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They are an active family, in and out of the home and not worrying about the lights, temperatures or heating and cooling. They are just living their lives on a daily basis. The cost is approximately $100.00 per month for 100 kilowatts used. Take another family of 4 living in a 2500 sq. ft. home, they can afford a few of the energy saving features that are available but the home is not as efficient as it could be so they pay closer attention to where the thermostat temperature is set. They are a little more attentive to doors opening and closing and turn off lights when not in use. Since the home is not as energy efficient as it could be they try to be more efficient. It would probably pass an energy audit but could use some improvements. Because of their efforts their cost is $100.00 for 100 kilowatts. Lastly, there is a family of 4 living in a 2500 sq. ft. home. This is an older home with very few energy saving features. The home has no central air or central heat; they utilize windows and fans for cooling in the summer and localized heating units for warmth in the colder months. They close off rooms when not in use and they turn off lights when they are not in use. They have used a few of the energy saving methods available. The home has been caulked and insulated to seal off as much air flow as possible. They are not uncomfortable and the cost to improve would not be cost effective. Because of the homes’ lack of HVAC and the families’ efforts their cost is 100.00 for 100 kilowatts. This home would never pass an energy audit. So here again is my question? If all of the homes are using the same amount of energy, does it matter if it is because of the homes energy efficiency or because of the energy saving efforts of the family living in the homes? Part of the reason we are even discussing an energy problem is because we have not been taking the time to be as energy efficient as we want our homes to be. EcoBrokers in Austin can often help people understand what to look for in an energy efficient home.

Green Living Ideas

In Green Living on May 5, 2009 at 10:12 pm

Green Living Ideas

Green Living Ideas

Author: Mel C
There are many green living ideas that we can put into practice without any trouble at all – many will even save us money and using them helps to remove poisonous side effects from our homes that we may not have been aware of. For instance, some products we use contain skin irritants, while others such as air-fresheners and sprays can cause shortness of breath. So to get healthier and save money put some of these ideas into practice.

1. Walk short distances instead of driving the car.
2. Cycle where possible if it’s too far to walk.
3. Car-pooling will save time and money.
4. Buy green groceries from growers markets. It’s cheaper and healthier.
5. Buy children’s ‘knock-about’ clothing from the op-shop.
6. Re-cycle all good, outgrown clothing by giving it away or sending it to the op-shop.
7. Buy and sell school uniforms from the school clothing pool.
8. Grow some of your own vegetables if possible.
9. Plant a fruit tree – citrus is easy to care for.
10. Learn to make your own relish, jams and marmalade – from your own tree or garden, or from specials at the supermarket.
11. Choose natural fabrics for your home rather than plastics – e.g. a sofa with wooden arms and covered in wool or cotton, rather than a vinyl one.
12. Use ‘green’ products in the home wherever possible, especially cleaners.
13. Research green cleaning products; vinegar, baking soda and lemon juice all do a good job of cleaning and are better on surfaces than more poisonous products.
14. Open the window instead of using air-fresheners.
15. Air-fresheners or insect sprays that constantly release fine mist spray into the air are wasteful and dangerous. With some types the plastic container gets really hot, melts and causes fire.
16. Don a cardigan on a cool evening before switching on the heater.
17. Wear cotton clothing in the summer to keep cooler.
18. Use a fan before switching on the air-conditioner.
19. Use rubber backed curtains on the hot or cold side of the house for extra insulation.
20. Make sure all the doors and windows are sealed properly to keep in warmth or cool air in season.
21. Maintain tap washers and toilet cisterns so they don’t leak and waste water.
22. Teach the children to clean their teeth with a cup of water instead of running the tap.
23. Have shorter showers. This will save you time as well as water.
24. If outer clothing is not visibly dirty, wear it for another day to save water and washing powder.
25. Use those washing balls filled with little clay balls instead of washing detergent. There are many different types, so make sure you get the right ones.

There are many other ideas for living ‘green’ and once you start to think along these lines, you’ll probably be able to think of many more.

Mel C writes about Green Living Ideas, sustainable living and renewable energy.