5 Hot Water Heater Options for Green Home Improvement

If you’re remodeling your home, thinking about the water heater might seem rather dull. However, this is one place where a home renovation can save you money. Here are some descriptions of energy efficient water heaters.

Gas Heaters: If you want to go with a traditional gas water heater, choose one that is Energy Star certified, guaranteeing the most efficient technology. They are slightly more expensive than less efficient models, but it is estimated you gain back this money in fewer than three years.

Tankless Heaters: Conventional heaters use energy 24/7 to keep your water hot, even when you’re not using it. Tankless or demand heaters heat the water as it flows through the pipes, so it only heats what you need. This creates a substantial savings on energy costs. Demand models provide hot water continuously, so you don’t have to worry about it running out. They are also quite a bit smaller than conventional tank heaters and some can be installed outside, saving space indoors. They make an ideal home improvement project because they have a life expectancy of 20 years, far more than conventional heaters.

Heat Pump Heaters: A new technology, electric heat pump water heaters could save the typical family quite a bit each year when compared to a standard electric heater. They work similarly to heat pumps that are used for heating and air conditioning purposes and combine with your HVAC system. They work by drawing in warm outside air to heat the water, so they are only effective in warm climates. Homeowners can recoup the higher initial investment over time. (Most estimates are around three years.)

Gas Condensing Heaters: This is an even newer technology, only introduced in 2010. Using more efficient heat exchangers to capture heat from the fuel source, gas condensing water heaters can shave 30 percent off your energy bills and reduce your carbon dioxide emissions. Greater efficiency allows them to provide a continuous stream of hot water, so you don’t have to worry if you’re the last one to shower!

Solar Heaters: Solar heaters can cut your water heating bill and your carbon dioxide emissions by 50 percent compared to an electric heater. This is the equivalent of not driving your car four months a year; a solar heater’s average lifespan is 20 years, much longer than that of a traditional gas or electric heater. Although solar heaters take 5-10 years to pay for themselves, you can offset this cost with a federal tax credit. Enterprising do-it-yourselfers can save thousands by building their own systems.

Going Green in Home Improvements

Going green when it comes to home improvements and remodeling is now being discussed on a greater level than ever before. More people are becoming conscious of the fact that the planet needs to be protected in order to be saved, and if everyone plays a part, great strides can be made in preserving the earth and its resources. As noted on MSNBC’s website, many contractors and homeowners alike are still not certain just what constitutes going green. But there are improvements that can be done to an existing home or building techniques that can be used when working on a new home to help the environment and drastically cut down on pollution and the misuse of the planet’s natural resources.

For an existing home, one of the main features that can be changed to help conserve power is the use of solar panels. They can come in the form of panels on the roof, walls or trellises. This type of system is being more widely used, and it is not unusual to see new homes going up with solar panels being used somewhere in the construction. Solar power can also be very useful for outdoor lighting. Solar lights for the outside of a property are charged by the sun’s rays during the daylight hours and automatically turn on at night without the use of electricity. The sun is the source of power for solar lights to do their job. Solar lights are available in a wide variety of styles and are a resourceful way of illuminating the exterior of a home.

There are a number of things that can be done in the interior of the house to help the planet as well. Energy-efficient appliances, such as refrigerators, washers and dryers, are a good way to conserve on electricity and water. Many appliances are now available with some type of energy-saving capability. Even toilets are now manufactured that cut down on the amount of water that is used. The new models of central air conditioning units are more energy-efficient as well. In fact, when looking for a new appliance for the home, it is hard to find one that does not have energy-saving ability built in. Manufacturers of large and smaller appliances are becoming more aware of conserving energy and passing that awareness on to the consumer. The Energy Star rating for energy-efficient appliances can be found on many products, with the number of products containing this rating increasing all the time.

Lighting the interior of the home with Energy Star light bulbs is another good way to conserve energy and cut down on electric bills. These bulbs last much longer than traditional bulbs and can be used in ceiling lights, table lamps, floor lamps, and other lighting fixtures throughout the house. At Energy Star, there is helpful information concerning Energy Star products that are available. This website also has advice for consumers regarding ways to make their homes more green and healthy for family members and the environment.

Another energy saver is to put lights on a timer when away from home. There is no need to have lights blazing needlessly, and when lights go on and off at a certain time, it will give the appearance of someone being home even when the house is empty. This is a deterrent to any thief who might be keeping a watch on the residence.

Yet another way to go green is to use natural cleaning products in the home. These products are safe for the planet as they are not composed of harmful fumes and chemicals. They can do a very good job of cleaning but are more gentle for individuals to use in the close confines of a house.

It is surprising how much cool air in the summer and warm air in the winter can be lost from a home’s interior through cracks around windows and doors. A home improvement that can cut down on lost air conditioning and heating is to fill in these openings, no matter how tiny, and make the home more energy-efficient. The air inside the house will stay inside the house, and air from outside will not come in unless it is meant to through an open window.

And windows bring up another home improvement topic. Old windows can be an eyesore. Properly fitting windows are not only an attractive addition to the home, but will also help to save on energy bills. And the new types of windows available now are more easy to clean, giving the homeowner more time to devote to other pursuits.

One of those other pursuits can be tending a vegetable garden, which will put the backyard to good use and supply healthy, home-grown vegetables for eating. This is a home improvement measure that can greatly benefit all family members by providing the type of food that will benefit the body and promote good health. Plus, home-grown vegetables are not subjected to pesticides that can be very harmful.

A home plagued with dry air can benefit from a humidifier, energy-efficient, of course. It will put much needed moisture back into the air and help to keep furniture from drying out. It will also make the air within the home more breathable and comfortable for the occupants. And if too much moisture and humidity in the air is a problem, an energy-saving dehumidifier will remove that extra moisture and keep harmful molds and mildew from building up within the walls of the home. This small appliance, either humidifier or dehumidifier, can do much to make the home more comfortable for all family members.

Going green is a welcome method to improve homes and the planet as well. Recycling is an important step, but there is growing awareness of the need to conserve the earth’s natural resources. People are searching for additional ways to improve the home that will benefit both the planet and its inhabitants. If everyone does their part, planet earth will prosper as a result.

Energy Efficiency Leads the Way in Home Improvement Projects

For years, Energy Efficiency has been a topic buried under all the ‘green’ talk surrounding the use of solar power at home and alternative energy sources.

Today, energy efficient homes are taking center stage on a massive scale. Home improvement projects now focus on aspects of the home such as conducting energy audits and air sealing your home’s attic, walls, and basement. A home’s energy efficiency is priority number one before any homeowners should even consider using solar power at home. Think about it, if you’re home is an energy hog, and not using energy efficiently, it will take a whole lot more solar energy to power your home, driving up the price of installing such a solar power system.

So, first things first, energy efficient home improvements need to be understood at the outset of any ‘green’ home improvement project.

One of the misconceptions of going green is, If you add green features to your home, costs would also rise. Fortunately, the opposite is true. By redesigning processes — reducing mistakes, doing things right the first time — home owners can improve their home’s energy efficiency and cut their home energy costs.

Because so many people now need to save the green in their wallets, going green at home through energy efficient home improvements is the logical way to go.

So, just how much money can be saved in a household by improving home energy efficiency?

The average American home has about 40-50 light bulbs, excluding closet lights, and most homes are filled with incandescent bulbs. Compact fluorescent bulbs or CFLs are the easiest energy efficient home improvement you can make to start. Four CFL bulbs use the energy of one incandescent bulb, by replacing all of them, you could save $350 a year on your electric bill!

Water Efficiency

What about water efficiency? Bathrooms, which can easily be the most wasteful rooms in the house, have a great opportunity to be a very efficient room as well. Low flow toilets instead of the standard, 3.5-gallon toilets, which, for a family of five, can cut a water bill by $165 a year. Low flow sink faucets in both bathrooms can also reduce the water bill by another $200 a year. There are also adjustable shower heads that control the flow of water so it isn’t on full spray for the entire time in the shower. These attachable heads can slow down water flow by 80 percent when full power isn’t needed, such as when soaping up or shaving. By adjusting the water flow, a family of five can save up to $350 annually on their water bill and as much as $350 on their heating bill given the reduced use of hot water.

Heating and Cooling

Nothing in the home consumes more energy than the heating and cooling system. Keeping your home warm in the winter and cool in the summer is a constant battle to separate the inside elements from the outside. The best way to improve home energy efficiency when it comes to heating and cooling is through air sealing your home. Also known as weatherizing, this is a crucial element to any energy efficient home. Trouble areas include the roof where hot air can escape in the winter and also attract heat during the summer. Home improvements such as “Cool Roofs” are a great way to reduce summer time heat. The attic is a very important element to insulate the house. If your insulation is less than six inches thick, it’s time to make some improvements.

Understanding home energy efficiency doesn’t have to be hard, it just has to make sense.