Energy Savings

How to Make Your Home a High Performance Electrical Superstar

Posted by on Dec 11, 2015 in Blogs, Energy Savings, Residential Electrical, Smart Homes | Comments Off on How to Make Your Home a High Performance Electrical Superstar

How to Make Your Home a High Performance Electrical Superstar

High performance homes are in big demand. People love to buy these types of homes, because they know that a certified high performance home will have the best heating and cooling efficiency, the best ventilation, and the best electrical efficiency. Many new homes are built to high performance standards from day one, but it is possible to retrofit too.

If you want to make your home a high performance superstar, there are a few steps you can take to make positive changes to your power consumption.

Get a RESNET Approved Contractor

The first step in transforming your home into a finely tuned electrical machine is to find a contractor who is RESNET approved. RESNET is the umbrella body that manages the HERS (Home Energy Rating System), and ensures that contractors who are performing HERS construction or upgrades are following best practices. There is a handy search function on their website, to help you find a contractor in your area.

Getting Your HERS Rating

Often, when working with an existing building, the first step in transforming your house into an energy efficient home is to get your HERS rating. This is a number, based on a variety of energy related factors, which indicates how energy efficient or otherwise your home is. It is a number that will either be above or below 100 (which is the benchmark for HERS ratings.)

If your home has a rating below 100, then that means it is more energy efficient than average, while ratings above 100 are less efficient.

Knowing where your home falls on the spectrum is important, so that your contractor can determine what changes need to be made to make your home as efficient as possible.

Improving Your HERS Rating

There are several things you can do in your existing home to make it more energy efficient, and to improve your HERS rating. Here are a few very simple changes that can make a big difference:

  • Switch out appliances for energy efficient ones. If your appliances are older, chances are they are not as efficient as they could be, and you could save a considerable amount of energy by using newer, Energy Star rated ones instead.
  • Upgrade lighting to be energy efficient. Switch out fixtures for LED or CFL friendly versions, and trade your regular garden lights for solar powered versions.
  • Improve your insulation. Even though you probably do not need the heating benefits in Florida, you can cut your cooling bill considerably, including the power required to run your air conditioning units.
  • Replace windows with energy efficient versions. These windows have an invisible film on them that prevent the entry of a percentage of solar rays into your home. Again, this can make your home cooler and save energy and money.
  • Upgrade your water heater and fix dripping faucets. You may not think that plumbing upgrades would affect power consumption, but since heating water is a big chunk of your power bill, changes like this can improve your energy consumption and rating significantly.

There are many reasons to upgrade your home and improve its HERS rating. You can inspect and improve electrical protection at the same time, you will save power, and your home will be more energy efficient and less hard on the environment.

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Make Your Home a Thing of Beauty This Holiday – Efficiently!

Posted by on Dec 4, 2015 in Blogs, Energy Savings, Residential Lighting | Comments Off on Make Your Home a Thing of Beauty This Holiday – Efficiently!

Make Your Home a Thing of Beauty This Holiday – Efficiently!

There are a few things in life that you can’t escape. Death and taxes, and the absolute necessity of turning your home into a beacon of light during the festive season that can be seen from space. Or at least from passing aircraft.

The only trouble with holiday lighting is that while it is beautiful and fun, and it is a big part of the season, it is not exactly energy efficient.

It can be, however, and here’s how:

Better Bulbs

If your holiday lights are old-fashioned incandescent bulbs, then they are probably sucking enough power to light up a fair chunk of your block! Banish these power guzzlers, and replace them with LED lights. These light bulbs use a tiny fraction of the power of traditional lights, and they burn cooler, so they not only promote energy savings but are safer too!

Get Energy Star Rebates

Energy Star offers rebates on the purchase of approved lights. Rebates vary by area, by type of light, by brand and by store, so if you plan to take advantage of this, do some research before you make a purchase.

Project Your Lights

If all you really need to be happy is a light that glows, then why not consider one of the light projectors instead of strings of lights? These units use a tiny amount of power, are easy to install and operate, and most have a variety of setting options.

Add a Timer

Even in the most bustling neighborhoods, it is unlikely that passersby will see your lights in the early hours of the morning. Likewise, if you leave your lights on during the day, you are going to be getting very little bang for your power buck.

If you want to have your energy savings cake and eat it, too, invest in a timer. You won’t have to wake up in the middle of the night to turn off your lights, and you’ll never forget to turn them off in the morning. Many timers are easy to install and set, and there are even some with integrated, photo-sensitive switches, which mean that they will sense when it gets light and dark, and turn lights on and off accordingly.

Reflect On It

What many people don’t realize is that reflected light can be just as effective at making your home glow. Consider installing lighting alongside baubles, or add glinting bunting made from metallic garlands under lights to boost your lighting. While you won’t find snow in South Florida, there are other ways you can use this to your advantage.

Consider installing lighting above water features, ponds or pools to light up the water. Anything that reflects light will boost your home’s glow and help to turn it into a showpiece.

A Win, Win, Win Situation

Decorating your home for the holidays is a must, and lights are a major part of that, however, with a little forethought and planning, you can have your lights, save money on energy bills, and be kinder to the planet. With all that money you are going to save on power, you can probably afford even more holiday lights!

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Fall Home Upgrades for Cost-Conscious Homeowners

Posted by on Nov 4, 2015 in Blogs, Energy Savings, Residential Electrical | Comments Off on Fall Home Upgrades for Cost-Conscious Homeowners

Fall Home Upgrades for Cost-Conscious Homeowners

Fall in Florida is not really what you would experience elsewhere in the country. We are lucky that we have beach weather pretty much year round, and we are definitely not pining for fall leaves down here!

However, with hurricane season coming to an end, the calmer, slightly cooler days of a Floridian fall are also the perfect time to do some timely and cost saving home maintenance, and here are our top recommendations if you’re looking to do some home upgrades:

  • Give your kitchen a facelift. Paint or stain cabinets a new color and add new hardware for an instant upgrade. Dated ceramic tile can also be updated with a coat of paint.
  • Revive tired exterior wood with stains or sealing products. Decks in particular can take a beating in the Florida climate, and need regular application of protective products to keep looking their best.
  • Blackout-proof your home. Add a home standby generator and make sure that the next time there is a big storm; your lights are the ones that stay on!
  • If you don’t want to install a generator that can run your whole house right now, consider installing Uninterruptible Power Supplies (UPS’s) to safeguard sensitive equipment like computers and TVs. Not only can they give you time to power down safely when the power goes out, but they can also help to protect equipment from power spikes and surges.
  • Switch out old incandescent lightbulbs for new CFLs or LEDs and get all the electrical cost savings that come along with that!
  • Consider backup solar or wind power instead of a generator. Florida is the sunshine state. Might as well make the most of that! A solar water heater can also save you plenty of dollars over time!
  • Refinish your floor. Wooden floors can become worn and damaged over time. If yours is looking tired, you can hire a floor sander and give it a new lease on life in a weekend!
  • Add solar outdoor lighting for your yard, and get more use of the yard during fall and winter.
  • Paint interiors and exteriors. Nothing refreshes your home as much as a lick of paint, and the slightly cooler fall weather is the perfect time to update the color palette of your home.
  • Consider applying window film. You can buy window film for DIY application, and they offer savings on cooling and climate control as well as security features, which makes them a great, easy upgrade.
  • Update your indoor spaces by investing in new throw rugs. Aside from paint, this is one of the cheapest, quickest and easiest upgrades you can do to any room in your home.

Whether you make home upgrades to save on power or to stay ahead of home maintenance, fall is the perfect time to do them, even in Florida. Once they are done, you can sit back with your feet up, and enjoy the sunshine.

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Why Energy Conservation Efforts Aren’t Working

Posted by on Sep 30, 2015 in Blogs, Energy Savings | Comments Off on Why Energy Conservation Efforts Aren’t Working

Why Energy Conservation Efforts Aren’t Working

In the 70’s it was called ecology. Today it’s the green movement. Whatever you call it, energy conservation has the lofty goal of making the earth a better place to live by using less energy. Energy conservation has been the watchword for decades, and yet we’re still wasting money and using more power than ever before. Since cutting back and using alternate sources of power can result in large energy savings, why aren’t more people doing everything they can to reduce their energy usage?

It’s all about the numbers. The more people who join in trying to conserve energy, the better off we’ll be. The participants benefit, and society does as well. The problem is convincing more people to take the time and make the effort to work toward more energy efficiency.

It’s Got a Bad Name

One of the biggest problems is the perception of the green movement. Just mention “living a greener life” and many people will roll their eyes, visualizing vegan hipsters or old-school hippies. The message needs to be more about energy savings, and less about energy conservation. People are naturally more interested in benefits to themselves than those for society. Appealing to people’s better instincts is a hard way to convince them to act.

There Aren’t Enough Good Examples

It’s the simple things that count. One person pulling out their reusable grocery bags is often looked on as an oddball. But when it becomes the trendy thing to do, the masses fall right in line. The more people who practice energy conservation, the more normal and natural it will appear. The key is getting that first snowball made so that it can roll down the hill.

It Needs to Be Easy

Right now the energy savings option isn’t always the easy one to take. When three marked trash cans are placed in a row, people will separate their trash. If there’s one large can with a small one beside it, most of the garbage gets thrown away together. If people are getting home renovations, installing wiring and appliances meant for energy efficiency, it makes it simple to make energy savings a daily activity. If people have to go out of their way to cut back, though, it’s less likely to happen. People have their daily habits, and changing them should take the smallest steps possible for it to be successful.

Free Methods Aren’t Emphasized More

The mainstream media needs to make energy conservation a matter of common knowledge, not present it in occasional articles on odd ways to save money. Among the great free ways to save energy as well as money are:

  • Eating more vegetarian meals
  • Walking or bike riding instead of using a car
  • Replacing incandescent bulbs with CFCs or LEDs
  • Buying used goods instead of used

Many people see these as oddball, extreme ways of saving money. It needs to be seen as the natural way to live, not anything out of the mainstream.

Alternative Energy is Too Expensive

People vote with their wallets. If an electric car will cost $9,000 to replace batteries that will run dry in five years, they’re going to think twice while comparison shopping. Wind, solar, nuclear, and wave power all have their fans, but the political opponents are vocal and the cost of the startup technology is still much higher than traditional fossil fuels.

Green Technology Often Isn’t

Even with the best of intentions, people who use green technology can unknowingly be causing more pollution and using more energy than before the changeover. Photovoltaic cells are a great way to create inexpensive electricity, but reports are coming in about factories that create huge amounts of pollution while making those cells. Ethanol is supposed to help reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, but growing enough corn to power even a small percentage of cars can take a huge amount of water, and dump pesticides and fertilizers into the local groundwater. Getting green technology right is a balancing act, and one which manufacturers haven’t quite perfected.

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Energy Conservation Tips for Your South Florida Business

Posted by on Jul 11, 2015 in Blogs, Commercial Electrical, Energy Savings, HVAC | Comments Off on Energy Conservation Tips for Your South Florida Business

Energy Conservation Tips for Your South Florida Business

Going green may be trendy, but it’s also one of the best ways to lower energy costs for your south Florida business. The heat and humidity may mean that your air conditioning has to run all day long, but other energy conservation methods can make a big dent in the money you have to pay out at the end of the month.

Your Building

The environment in and around your building can have a big effect on how much energy you use each day. In south Florida, the biggest challenge is keeping the interior cool and less humid. The air conditioner is one of the most expensive appliances you can use, so anything you can do to reduce the amount of time it’s running will save you money.

Keep the hot sun from coming inside during the warmest parts of the day. This usually means covering the windows in some way. Window film darkens the glass and prevents the sun to heat the interior. It works exactly like shaded glass in a car, stopping the interior from heating up in the hot sun.

Landscaping can be a green addition to your property in more ways than one. Planting trees or tall shrubs in front of windows can shade the windows from the sun during the summer. Use evergreen trees or shrubs instead of deciduous types, since even the winter can be hot and humid during most of the year in south Florida. The landscaping can increase your building’s value as well as helping with energy conservation.

Your HVAC System

A system in good running condition is always less expensive to use, since it doesn’t have to work as hard to get the same results. Keep your HVAC system in great running order by getting a tuneup done early each spring. Create a maintenance agreement with your local contractor so that, in addition to the first-of-the-year tuneup, he’ll also maintain the system on regular visits throughout the year.

Change the filters in your system yourself. If you’re not sure where the filter is, your contractor can show you. Changing the filter is usually a matter of sliding one filter out and sliding a new one in place, which takes just a few seconds to finish. Since filters only cost a few dollars, this may be the most cost-effective step you can take in terms of energy conservation.

A New Business

If you’re designing and planning a new business, you have the advantage of using green building methods from the start. You’ll be able to keep energy costs low by adding conservation goals into your project and adding low-energy products in every part of the business.

Lighting is one of the biggest users of electrical power, and the wrong kind of lighting can be the biggest waste of energy in your business. Newer LED lighting can save significant amounts of power over the year. Not just for desk lamps, you can use LED bulbs in every part of your lighting scheme.

  • LED lights in parking lots give a more even coverage over the entire lot
  • Task lighting over work desks give more light while using less energy
  • Landscape lighting can be a design as well as safety feature, and can run on pennies a day

Choose the equipment in your new business with an eye toward energy conservation. Pick laptops over desktop computers. Look for an EnergyStar rating for kitchen appliances. Add power strips so you can turn off banks of appliances with one flick of a switch. Build fans into the ceiling to reduce the amount of air conditioning needed. Add windows with tinted glass, and reduce the size of the windows in the building.

Need more information on how to keep your business premises cool in summer? Contact us now.

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Get Money Back from Tax for Installing a Home Standby Generator

Posted by on Jul 3, 2015 in Blogs, Energy Savings, Generators, Residential Services | Comments Off on Get Money Back from Tax for Installing a Home Standby Generator

Get Money Back from Tax for Installing a Home Standby Generator

Florida is known as the lightning capital of the country, and between lightning, tropical storms, hurricanes and accidents, power outages are a frequent fact of life. If it’s short-lived it may be just an inconvenience, but if your health or business rely on a steady source of power, even the briefest outage can be a severe problem. The best way to ensure you have a steady source of power is to install a home standby generator.

In addition to the obvious advantages of having a reliable power source, you can also use some of the cost of a generator as a deduction on your federal income tax. With three different ways to take advantage of the tax code, it’s likely that you can find at least one way to deduct a portion of the costs of installing a home standby generator.

Capital Gains Tax Credits

As with all the advice in this post, check with a tax attorney or accountant to determine your individual tax liability and the ability to use any credits. If you sell a home and purchase a new one within a certain amount of time, you’ll avoid paying a capital gains tax on the sale of your old home. If you’ve done this more than once, however, you may still owe taxes on the capital gains. Selling a home and not buying another one will automatically cause you to be liable for the taxes, but if you’ve installed a whole house backup generator, you may be able to take a capital gains tax credit, reducing your tax bill at the end of the year.

Energy Tax Credits

The federal government subsidizes renewable energy such as wind and water, but many states will give you an energy tax credit if you install a natural gas, whole-house generator. This is because natural gas is a greener fuel, creating less of a carbon footprint. If you opt for a home standby generator that has the ability to run on biofuel such as that created in landfills, you may be eligible for an additional tax credit or even an alternate fuel grant. Your state energy department will have all the information needed available for you and your accountant.

Medical Needs

If your doctor will verify that a continuous supply of power is crucial for your health and well being, you may be eligible for a tax credit for your generator. You’ll need to itemize your deductions at the end of the tax year. Once itemized, every bit of legitimate medical expenses over the legal limit, which is 7 to 10 percent of your gross income, is deductible. The power has to be a crucial factor for keeping either you or a family member alive and healthy, and you’ll have to include a certified letter from a medical doctor detailing the medical condition and swearing that a constant power supply is a medical necessity. Depending on your income, you may be able to write off some or even all of the expense of having a backup generator installed in your home.

Natural Disasters

While not a tax deduction, FEMA does offer reimbursements for electrical generators in case of a national or local emergency. The program starts when your governor declares a state of emergency, and it will continue until the power comes back on. Have your whole house backup system installed or buy a portable generator during that time, and you can be eligible for getting the entire cost of the generator reimbursed.

There are multiple ways to reduce the cost of installing a home standby generator, but the benefit of having reliable power is priceless. Call us today to discuss how we can help meet your needs while saving you money.

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