Start Saving With Energy-Efficient Upgrades

Five words or less(NewsUSA) – Being aware of your home’s carbon footprint takes targeted effort, but it can also save you money. Incorporating eco-friendly additions into your home can massively reduce energy bills and save on repairs.
According to CellularWindowShades.com, up to 24 percent of a fuel bill can escape out of leaky windows. But replacing windows can cost anywhere from $400 to $800 per window. Depending on the size of your house and the state of your windows, total cost could be anywhere from $3,000 to $10,000.
One affordable yet environmentally efficient option is insulating window shades. There’s some hesitation around insulating shades, but here are a few questions and explanations straight from the expert’s mouth.
Q: Our windows are cold. Do we need to replace them, or can we use insulating shades?
A: If your windows are no longer functional, and your energy bills are off the charts, go with replacement windows. However, if they are simply old and cold, homeowners might want to consider high-quality insulating shades with side tracks that provide a four-sided seal. Shades like these will solve your heat-loss problems immediately.
Q: How do I know if insulated shades are the right option for my home?
A: Quality insulated shades are part of a good energy-conservation plan. After installing energy-efficient CFL bulbs, insulated shades are the next step. Mini-blinds can transfer the cold from your window into the room, increasing your energy costs by 10 percent. Insulating shades can reduce that by half.
Q: What are the environmental benefits of using insulated shades?
A: Residential heating and cooling eat up more fossil fuels than any other sector. A shocking 50 percent slips through poorly insulated windows. Experts guage that the equivalent of 450 million barrels of oil could be saved every year if all windows in the U.S. had effective insulating shades.
For more information, go to cellularwindowshades.com. The shades come in a variety of attractive and complementary colors.

Re-insulation Projects Offer Year-Round Rewards

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<p>(<a href=NewsUSA) – Homeowners seeking to pad their homes and wallets should consider re-insulation projects that maximize energy efficiency year-round. Simple, energy-saving practices will not only reduce heating and cooling bills every month, but also will result in a higher tax return next year.

The federal government expanded the scope of a tax credit program that rewards homeowners for energy-efficiency improvements, giving homeowners a prime opportunity to increase their homes’ efficiency. Homeowners are eligible to receive a 30 percent federal tax credit up to $1,500 for weatherization improvements in their homes through Dec. 31, 2010,

And as far as energy-efficient improvements are concerned, re-insulation is a smart solution for the near and short term.

“Most of the steps you can take to improve your home’s energy efficiency in the cooler winter months are equally as effective in the warmer summer months, when the thermal flows are simply reversed,” said Bohdan Boyko, building science manager with GreenFiber, a natural-fiber insulation product made from 85 percent recycled materials. “In most areas of the country, winter has the greatest temperature differences between inside and outside temperatures, but in either situation -; summer or winter -; a properly insulated home is one that will help cut energy bills, lower the home’s carbon footprint and help keep a family comfortable.”

Homeowners can find information on the benefits of re-insulation, including R-Value education, how to’s and tax credit information from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, at www.greenfiber.com, where researchers engineered a special new blow-in product that aids in retro-fit projects. Older homes or homes where current insulation is inadequate can benefit from attic air sealing, duct sealing, attic insulating and side wall insulating. Because the insulation is literally “blown in” through a tube, it can reach high crevices and deep places in walls. “Re-insulation is a fast and easy way to improve a home’s energy efficiency, often with little up-front cost,” said Boyko. “A blow-in insulation product will perform better than material that is cut to fit, because it provides complete coverage and fills gaps, unlike fixed-dimension insulation products.”

Do-it-yourselfers should have no difficulties renting equipment and tackling a blow-in natural-fiber insulation project in an afternoon. And because natural-fiber insulation is made from recycled content, it provides the greatest benefit to the environment, diverting materials from local landfills and reducing the energy a home could draw.

Barking Up the Green Tree

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<p>(<a href=NewsUSA) – While many people are aware of how their own lifestyle affects the planet, they may be surprised to learn how much of an environmental “paw print” their four-legged family members are leaving behind.

According to Anthony Zolezzi, eco-entrepreneur and author of “How Dog Food Saved the Earth,” there are many “green” changes you can make in and around your home to safeguard your pet’s diet and environment.

“When it comes to saving our planet, the focus has always been on our own carbon footprint -; but I would challenge you further to look at the carbon “paw print” your family pets are leaving behind, and examine their role in protecting our Earth from excessive pollution,” said Zolezzi.

Through Zolezzi’s work, which involves promoting social responsibility and green programs, he got involved with launching one of the first pet foods on the market with U.S. source-verified meat and poultry -; Pet Promise.

“When we purchase natural and organic products from family farmers who support sustainable agriculture, we also support a cleaner environment. Our pets can help make a difference when we feed them food products sourced from these same family farms,” said Zolezzi.

The sale of Pet Promise has helped eliminate more than 88 million doses of antibiotics in the food chain and 15 million doses of artificial growth hormones fed to cattle. Through this endeavor, Zolezzi and his team have helped support more than 1,500 U.S. family farmers who are committed to the humane treatment of animals and using natural and sustainable methods to protect the environment. For more information, visit www.PetPromiseInc.com.

Here are some additional tips to help you keep your pet’s environment chemical-free and green:

* Stay off the lawn. Keep your animals away from the lawn or garden when treating them with fertilizers, pesticides or insecticides until it dries completely.

* Don’t clean house and play fetch. Never allow your pet access to areas you are cleaning. Some cleaners might only cause a mild upset stomach, but others could cause severe burns of the tongue, mouth and stomach.

* Keep the garage clean. Store all automotive products such as oil, gas and antifreeze in areas away from pets. Just one teaspoon of antifreeze can be deadly to a 7-pound cat, and less than one tablespoon can be lethal to a 20-pound dog.