energy saving tips – clothes dryer

No Cost / Low Cost

  • Install an outdoor clothes line. Heat from the sun and the flow of air will dry your clothes. An indoor clothes rack may take longer to dry, but it is an energy efficient alternative to the clothes dryer.
  • Dry full loads whenever possible but don’t overload the machine.
  • Clean the lint trap after every load. A clogged lint trap can increase energy use up to 30 per cent and may be a fire hazard.
  • Try to start your second load of drying as soon as the first is finished. That way, the dryer will still be warm – and you will save energy.
  • Make sure your clothes are wrung out well before putting them in the dryer.
  • Separate your loads into heavy, medium and lightweight items – lighter loads will take less drying time than a mixture of items.
  • Don’t leave clothes in the dryer too long. Over-drying not only uses more electricity but also increases shrinkage and wrinkles. Clothes should dry in 40 minutes to one hour.
  • Use your dryer’s “cool down” cycle – usually the “permanent-press” setting. No heat is supplied in the last few minutes, but drying continues as cool air is blown through tumbling clothes.
  • Keep your dryer’s outside exhaust clean. A clogged exhaust lengthens drying time and increases energy use.

source: Fortis

energy saving tips – clothes washer

No Cost / Low Cost

  • Wash your clothes in cold or warm water. A whopping 85 to 90 per cent of energy used by washing machines is for heating the water. Hot water also shrinks and fades your clothes, wearing them out more quickly.
  • Run full loads whenever possible but don’t overload the machine.
  • Always use cold water for the RINSE cycle. Using warm or hot water for the RINSE cycle will not get your clothes any cleaner.

Save Even More

  • Invest a little more for an ENERGY STAR® qualified clothes washer. They use 35 to 50 per cent less water and 50 per cent less energy per load than the average clothes washer

A Green Kitchen Is a Happy Kitchen

If you love to cook then you know that your kitchen can sometimes take on a life of its own. Some kitchens are warm and inviting. Others are cluttered and can seem to suck the life right out of a person. If you want your kitchen to be more inviting than it is, the answer might be to create a green kitchen.
Creating a green kitchen doesn’t mean painting the walls green. It means making your kitchen eco-friendly. It’s amazing how much better you will feel about cooking in your kitchen when you know that you are saving time, energy and money. Protecting the planet and your own finances will allow you to infuse your kitchen and each dish you cook with more love and flavor. Continue reading

Is White the new Green? Bye-bye Formaldehyde

In 2002, the Johns Manville company converted its entire line of building insulation to formulations that do not contain added formaldehyde. Prior to 2002, there had been limited use of acrylic binders to replace formaldehyde by Johns Manville and its competitors, and JM’s conversion was the first full-scale application of the technology. In 2005, Gold Seal Homes introduced this insulation into it’s building practices in an effort to improve indoor air quality as part of our commitment to the BuiltGreen™ Program.

JM certified Formaldehyde-free fiber glass insulation—as a smart alternative to formaldehyde-based building materials — helps achieve a healthier and safer building by reducing overall indoor formaldehyde exposure.  Gold Seal Homes is committed to researching and offering our clients the safest and healthiest products for their homes.  Here are some other benefits of the insulation we have selected for our homes.

Recycled Content.

According to the North American Insulation Manufacturs Association, fiber glass insulation is the largest secondary market for recycled glass containers. The recycled glass used in fiber glass insulation saves more than 27 million cubic feet of landfill space every year. That’s 2.2 billion pounds of recycled post-consumer glass.  What’s not made from recycled materials is made mostly from sand, an abundant and rapidly replenished resource.  When a building is remodeled or demolished, fiber glass batts, rolls and loose fill can often be reused.

Many of our insulation products contain a North American average of 25 percent recycled glass content, with at least 20 percent being post-consumer glass.

Will not support mold growth.

Mold requires an organic material as a food source. As an inorganic fiber, fiber glass is naturally resistant to mold growth. In addition, several Johns Manville fiber glass products are treated with an EPA-approved mold inhibitor to protect them from mold-related damage.

Naturally fire resistant.

Unlike many organic insulations, fiber glass does not require toxic fire retardants. Fire retardants may leach out of other insulation types over time, leaving them without protection from heat and flame.

Is your Builder Green?

What colour will your future to be? 

There are a lot of builders today that pretend to be green.  Simply adding a high-efficiency furnace or better windows does not cut it.   Gold Seal Homes believes that building a house becomes the extension of every aspect of your life.  One great example is that healthy building materials and indoor air quality improving products improve your health.  Studies have shown that better indoor air quality leads to better grades in children and performance at work.  Sustainable construction can also improve the comfort you experience in the home.  A Green home should be less expensive to operate, quieter, healthier and have a lower impact on the environment down the road.  So how do you know the builder you have chosen is truly Green and not just a paler shade?

Some things to look for:

Accreditation;  The builder should be actively involved with or registered with a reputable Sustainable certifying agency.  Here in western Canada the largest such agency is the Built Green™ Program http://www.builtgreencanada.ca/content.php?id=262.  LEED is also available across Canada and there are many others.  Look to see if they are supported by your local Home Builder Agency (HBA) or NRCAN http://oee.nrcan.gc.ca/energuide/home.cfm?attr=4 .

Labeling;  The home should be tested and evaluated by a third-party.  The Government of Canada conducts review of energy modelling and blower door test results to produce an Energuide label.  This is a report card that tells the homeowner how their home rates from an energy consumption perspective.

Water Management:  What steps is the builder taking to conserve water?  Dual flush toilets are great, but do they offer rain barrels?  Do they have a referral to a landscaping company that specializes in drought tolerant landscaping?  Grey water recovery methods? Green roofs?

Recycling:  Does the builder divert construction waste from the landfill.  Last year Gold Seal Homes diverted over 70000 Kilos from local landfills through our recycling program.

Indoor Air Quality:  What building materials are being used that improve the air you breath.  Are they installing any air filtering devices?

For more information about what Gold Seal is doing ‘behind the paint’ to make our homes greener, visit us on-line at www.goldsealhomes.com

Prefinished hardwood floors versus unfinished hardwood floors.

By Chad Garner

 

Many people ask us which is better.  Prefinished hardwood flooring or unfinished (site finished) hardwood.  The answer is the one you like best.  There are many differences between the two systems of hardwood.  There are many pros and cons that should be considered.  One of the advantages to the unfinished hardwood is that the whole floor gets coated with one smooth coating of finish.  This look is sometimes preferable to some people.  As well another advantage to the unfinished hardwood flooring is that you have more choices of stains to choose from.  Prefinished hardwood flooring has grown other the last 15 years.  There are many reasons that more people are choosing the prefinished hardwood floors over the unfinished hardwood floors.  The prefinished hardwood flooring has made many advancements over the last 15 years.  Most prefinished hardwood floors now have the fifth hardest surfaces known to man added to its finish.  This element is called aluminum oxide.  It helps make the finish last much longer than the traditional finishes used for some of the unfinished hardwood jobs.  The prefinished hardwood manufacturers have also achieved the smooth finished look with some very nice square edge products.  Many people simply choose the prefinished hardwood due to the ease of getting their project done.  Prefinished hardwood flooring can be installed and lived on shortly after it is installed.  The unfinished hardwood takes days or even weeks to be completed.  This process can sometimes hold up other trades if you are building a new home.  If you are redoing your current home the prefinished hardwood is not only quicker but it is a cleaner and more simple process.  When redoing an existing home the unfinished process will have more dust and some pretty harsh smells to deal with.  With the prefinished hardwood manufacturers continuing to improve we lean more toward this process over the on the job process with unfinished hardwood floors.  We have found with the prefinished hardwood that there is less that can go wrong.  The prefinished hardwood product is manufactured in a controlled environment.  This prevents the finish from getting foreign particles, hair, dust,etc. in the finish.  They also put on many more layers of finish than we normally put on a unfinished hardwood floor.  We believe the prefinished process is easier and the finish quality is much better.  The prefinished hardwood manufacturers also offer a warranty on the finish that carries value for the consumer

Avoid Basement Flooding

It’s no April Fool’s joke to have water in your basement.  I have experienced it first hand as a homeowner and have witnessed the damaged caused by water when the proper measures are not taken.  I have taken an excerpt from the CMHC web site regarding how to prevent water entering your home where you don’t want it.

 

Why Do Basements Flood?

Water can enter your basement for a number of reasons. Water in your basement is most likely to occur during periods of heavy rainfall, or when snow is melting rapidly during a spring thaw. In these cases, your basement can be wet because of:

  • a leak or crack in your home’s basement walls
  • poor lot drainage
  • failure of the weeping tiles (foundation drains)
  • overflowing eavestroughs or leaking/plugged downspouts

Basement flooding may also occur because of:

  • a blocked connection between your home and the main sewer in the street
  • a back-up of wastewater in the sewer system (or a combination of wastewater and rainwater from the sanitary or combined sewer system)
  • failure of a sump pump (in some areas) used to pump weeping tile water

Practical Measures to Avoid Basement Flooding

Basement flooding problems are best diagnosed by working your way down from the eavestroughs and downspouts, to the lot and foundation drainage, and then to the plumbing system — both inside your home and beyond its connection to the municipal sewer system.  This article link expands on all the topics below. 

Eavestroughs and Downspouts: Water pours off your eavestroughs into downspouts. If the downspouts are dumping the water right beside your foundation, it drains directly to the weeping tile and can easily overload your home’s drainage.

Lot Grading: If the land around your home slopes in toward the foundation, rainwater heads right for the weeping tile around the basement and can overload your foundation drainage system.

Floodproofing Devices: If your home drainage system or the neighbourhood’s drainage system overloads, you may still be able to prevent rain water and sewage from backing up into your basement by installing one or more floodproofing devices, such as sump pumps or back flow valves.

Sump Pit Drainage System: A sump pit drainage system includes a sump pit, a sump pump and a discharge pipe. (See diagram above)

For more information on connecting a Sump Pump and the proper maintenance of a disc hard system click here.

What’s your program?

Not all Programmable thermostats are created equally.  If you are considering upgrading your thermostat, there are many brands and models available to the consumer these days.  Gold Seal has tested many different models and manufacturers and we have found that the Honeywell company offers the best series of ‘stats to suit varying budgets and needs.  Some of the features we suggest you look for:
 
  • Energy Star rated
  • CSA or CMHC approved
  • 5/2 or 7 day programming
  • Humidifier interface -humidistat
  • Furnace filter change reminder (keep your heating/cooling system operating at peak performance)
  • Low battery indicator

Other things to consider that are more convenient than a necessity are: back-lit displays (great for night-time), daylight saving time clock feature, touchscreen displays (these are kind of cool looking) and of course look for a warranty.

Make sure that the unit you purchase is compatible with your type of heating system, and if you have an air conditioner, look for a unit that will control that as well.

Be Quiet!!!

I am often asked by current or past clients how we can make an area of their home quieter.  Perhaps they require a media room below a bedroom or they simply wish to reduce sound between rooms.  There are various ways this can be achieved  without a lot of technical expertise.  Firstly it is important to understand how sound travels.  Sound travels through solid objects better than through less dense materials.  Also, if there is no way for the sound to pass through one solid object and into another, sound can be attenuated through separation. 

One inexpensive way to attenuate sound in a wall that is to be built is to offset the studs so that there is no direct path for sound to travel through the wall.  If the wall is already constructed then the drywall can be separated from the wood framework by using acoustical bars (these is sometimes referred to as soundbar or resilient channel)  It is fairly inexpensive and is simply screwed in place perpendicular to the studs or floor system on 2′ centers.  The channel can be purchased from drywall retailers.  Then the Drywall is applied by screwing into the channel only, thereby reducing the surface contact area significantly.

Another way to achieve separation is to sheet the wall with a low density product like buffalo board before the drywall is applied.

An added measure that is essential to any acoustic wall , floor or ceiling is the addition of sound deadening insulation.  I prefer to use Roxul brand for its superior acoustic properties and it has an added benefit of being extremely fire resistant.

Lastly, you may want to consider the environment after all the work is done.  Carpet, drapes and cloth-covered furniture will absorb sound waves and increase the effectiveness of your efforts.  You may also wish to construct sound attenuating panels that can be simply hung on the walls.  They are typically manufactured from sheets on buffalo board, and wrapped with a loose thick fabric.  I have seen people get very creative by making these decorative elements in the living space by carefully choosing shape, colour and placement to suit the room.  they can also be installed as backings of open shelving units or paneled wainscoting around the perimeter of the room.

So now you can plug-in the iPod, crank  up the amplifier, and rock out to your favorite tunes!

World Water Day 2011 – 22 March

Water for Cities: Responding to the Urban ChallengeThe objective of World Water Day 2011 is to focus international attention on the impact of rapid urban population growth, industrialization and uncertainties caused by climate change, conflicts and natural disasters on urban water systems.This year’s theme, Water for cities: responding to the urban challenge, aims to spotlight and encourage governments, organizations, communities, and individuals to actively engage in addressing the challenge of urban water management.