Category Archives: Environmental design

bamboo or hardwood

Why you should use Bamboo Flooring

Have you ever wondered why you should use bamboo flooring instead of other flooring. This great infographic I designed should help you figure out some of the great points of bamboo flooring.

bamboo vs hardwood

 

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Improve the Health of Your Home Now

improve your home

There are many ways to improve the health of your home, you can install a Radon system  or maybe you want to use better paints and other materials to keep your home healthy for your family. That is why I have decided to share with you a few really great ideas for improving your home without building a new one. Something I’m sure most of you can not afford

 

  • The first is to invest in materials that are good for you and the environment, materials like bamboo, stone and glass help to keep your home clean and chemical free. Bamboo also is a very fast growing plant and can replenish itself quicker then other woods.

 

  • Use zero VOC paint, this helps to keep the air in your home cleaner and you and your family safe from chemical contaminates. These now come in so many amazing colors that you won’t feel like you are stuck in your design decisions.

 

  • Install a radon system that helps keep you safe from radon that can cause lung cancer and respiratory illness . If someone in your family has either of these, you may want to really check into a radon system. It may be a great investment for you and your family.

 

  • Use non-chemical cleaners. I am a huge fan of the Eco-Smart brand. I was asked to review for them a few years ago, and really love the product, now it is what my mom and I use for everything including pest removal and cleaning.

 

  • Use LED light bulbs in your home. I have been saying this for years and now the prices on these wonderful bulbs are dropping. I picked one up the other day for just $5! They give a great light, save you more on your electric then florescent and incandescent bulbs. They also do not have the hazardous materials of fluorescents.

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Go Green With Solar Panels

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I am a huge fan of going green and one great way to do that is to improve your home so that you use less resources. There are a few ways you can do this and solar panels are one of them. The good news is that the cost of them have come down and you can also save a lot of money in the long run.

Every household in America faces challenges daily.  When the American dream of owning a house comes true, and you finally picked the right neighborhood, garage size or a large backyard with lots of privacy and secure for your kids to play, you start to reevaluate the way of living. Going green is one of the things to consider; not only will it reduce the cost of living, it will also save the Earth. You can start your energy efficiency improvement with solar panels.

Many strike it off the list thinking it’s out of their price range. That’s a big mistake. With modern day technology, solar power is much cheaper than you think. Many companies, such as k-Space, provide tools for solar industries that make renewable energy more affordable for private individuals like you. Modern day machines provide precise calculation (thin-film analysis, curvature measurement, etc.) so that the production of solar panels is possible at a lower cost.

Make the first step towards green, install solar panels at your home and start saving money and helping the environment!

What do you think about solar panels?

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5 surprising ways solar will be different in 20 years

Solar power is a technology that is always changing and even though solar is a great way to power your home now, it’s going to get even better! If you don’t know much about solar now, there is a lot of information out there. Really solar is made easy online, but do you know how fast this technology is changing and how it will effect your home design?

5. Solar will go Thermal: Solar thermal systems are based on the physical principle of energy conversion from short-wave solar radiation into heat, this is  also described as photo-thermal conversion.

4. Solar panels will get smaller: Solar shingles are already in production and these will start to become more and more popular. a1_4

3. Solar will grow on your home: New Solar Ivy will allow solar panels to be placed on the side of your home and business walls to not only power your building, but to create signs, decoration and more. The image shown above is just one way this Solar Ivy can be used.

2. Spray on Solar: You can already do this, though it’s not widely used yet. Spray on Solar will allow solar panels to be put anywhere! Currently they are used on rooftops for businesses, but the applications are endless.

1. Solar will go organic: Stanford researchers  found that adding a single layer of organic molecules to a solar cell increases its efficiency. This could lead to cheaper, more efficient solar panels!

Do you have solar in your home or business? If so how do you like it. If not would you consider adding solar power?

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Keep your Energy Bills Down

There are many ways that you can keep your energy bills in check. Insulation, drapery and energy efficient lighting are a few of the really well known ways. Also getting windows with double glazing is a really great way to keep your home warm in the winter and cool in the summer.

double-pane-window

If you live in the UK and you are looking for new windows you may want to take a look at All Double Glazing a company that offers double glazed windows. What I love most about the website and the company is that they do not shy away from providing you information. There are many articles on the website about their windows. One explains what double glazing is. Here in the US we call them double paned windows. Really all it is is two panes of glass in one window.

Here is an excerpt from one article:

So what is Double Glazing and how does it improve the quality of inner environment of a building?

Double Glazing is simply a glazing process in which a window is formed by using two panes of glass with a space between the panes. The space between the two panes is of variable thickness, usually several millimetres. The trapped air between the panes acts as an effective layer of insulation. The double layer of sealed glass is manufactured to a required size and before the unit is sealed a drying agent is added to ensure that no moisture is present. In order to remain effective it is important to ensure that no moisture is present and that it is airtight. Following manufacture of the sealed unit the pane of double thick glass is added to a suitable frame chosen by the customer.

What I love about this information is that you now know exactly what you are getting. It helps you to make a very informed decision and with the ability to get up to four quotes for free you will have everything you need to get your home energy efficient and save yourself a lot of money on you heating and cooling bills.

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Help Your Home Save Energy & Money

Summer may mean that you no longer have to worry about a heating bill, but what about that air conditioning bill? You know the one that actually can cost more then your heat sometimes. Well there are a few great ways to help save some money on your home cooling bill and other things around your home during the summer that will give you a little more extra money to play with, things like home insulation that help both during the summer and winter months so it’s worth doing, but did you know that you also need to insulate your garage, home insulation is something that is often overlooked but it can also save you a lot on heating and cooling cost especially if the garage is attached to your home. Heat and cold build up quickly in an uninsulated garage, so if it’s attached to your home your air or furnace is going to be working harder to keep that side of the home warm, if you also heat the garage then there is even more energy wasted.

There are also a few other things you can do if you want to improve the energy use in your home, use solar outdoor lighting to light your outside areas and never worry about it adding to your electric bill. You can also make sure to add water pressure devices to your outside as well as inside faucets and of course close curtains and blinds in the summer to help keep your home cool.

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Go Green With Your Garden

This week I have been watching a lot of TV shows about going green or green design and that is why both yesterday and today’s post are about going green. After watching a show about green gardening I called a friend of mine who loves to garden and who is now trying to go green and talked to her about ways that she could go green in her garden.

Eventually our conversation ended up with us talking about reusing household items in your garden, now I’m not talking about composting your food and all of that, but my friend used old Metal Beds she found at a scrap yard and on the side of the road to make something for some of her plants to grow on. She says it was the best thing she has ever done and all she did was use a rust free paint on them so that they could be put outside. She promised me pictures, but not until some of the plants are up and growing.

I have also seen people use egg cartons to start their plants, and a friend of mine even said she would be using a laundry soap container to start making her own compost! I personally love this idea and I’m waiting impatiently for our laundry soap to run out.

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Buy Local for Your Home Decor

I know many people who believe that in order to get great home decor you need to order it from an exotic place or from new york. Thats not the case at all as sometimes you can find great items in your own area, lets say you live right outside of San Degio. If you get online and you look up San Diego Bedspreads you will find many local places to buy them, you will also find a few places that custom make the spreads. These are the places I would look as most of the time they are made in house and that means all of your money stays in the local economy.

Maybe your not looking for a bedspread but for a window shade, search for San Diego Window Shades and again you will find many local places that sell shades. The best part about ordering local is that you don’t have to pay shipping. Lets say you want granite counters, but if you order them from across the country your going to pay huge amounts in shipping, now if you again look up san diego granite you may just find a good deal on granite that you can go pick up yourself.

Now, I’m sure not everyone lives near this city, this is just an example. I used a city close to me as I live in the country, I found a few smaller bedding shops that I thought would be a great place to start my bedding search. How about you? Do you shop local?

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Get Environmental With Felt

Did you know felt is great for the environment, yes that same material that you used as a child for craft is felt chairsomething that you can now use to be environmentally friendly. Felt is made of wool that is matted together to create a fabric. Tribes in some areas of the world use felt to build their homes and to make their clothing.

Felt can be used in many applications such as furniture, blankets and even walls. Felt fabric can make great and colorful rugs as well as artwork. Felt can even be combined with LED’s to create a visually interesting light source.

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Go Green With Your Garden

I know this sounds strange, but going green with a garden does not mean planting only green colored plants. What I mean is use environmentally friendly materials and plant care products to keep your garden happy and HalfBanner
healthy for you and your family.

There are many green gardening products out there. You can get something like a Garden Gourmet Compost Bin and make your own compost material to feed your garden, you can also save rain water to help water your garden when there is no rain.

Garden Globes 3-Piece Solar LED Stake Light Set
Another way to make your garden green and energy efficient is to use decorative garden lights that are solar powered. These not only will save you money, but many are LED lights so they don’t require much sunlight to run and they will last a long time.

You also can use plant treatments that are environmentally friendly and your ready to garden green. It’s not hard and actually could save you a lot of time and money in the long run. Remember fresh vegetables are expensive, but not if you grow them yourself.

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Forget Fluorescent Save Money With LED

led_spotlightYou may have been hearing more and more people talk about LED lights. Why are they so much better then our new super power florescent? They use less energy and don’t have mercury in them! Pretty much everything you hate about florescent are fixed with LED.

LED Light Bulbs do use about 90% less energy then an incandescent light bulb, you know those old bulbs you have somewhere. They also start working quickly when turned on, unlike a florescent bulb that needs a few seconds to warm up. An LED lamp is rated at 100,000 hours that means that is should be almost 20 years before you have to replace it, of course this does depend on your use of the bulb.

If your wondering what type of LED bulb to get check out the comparisons below.

* 3W High Power LED Bulb = 30W incandescent flood.
* 7W High Power LED Bulb = 50W incandescent flood.
* 12W High Power LED Bulb = 85W incandescent flood.

I hope this will help you with your fears of buying LEDs and that you will check it out. Try switching a few of your mostly used lights to LEDs and see over a year how much you save.

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Stone: A Disappearing Resource

Stone has always been a huge plus when it comes to interior design, but if we keep using stone eventually it will run out. We may not see this in our lifetime, but it may happen in the next generations life time. Don’t bamboo countertopworry though, you can still have stone in your home by using stone from homes that are being torn down or from someone remodeling, as long as you let them know first.

Since finding stone to recycle can be difficult there are also other great options for you to use that are very environmentally friendly. For countertops use concrete, glass or wood, preferably bamboo. You can also get countertops made from recycled paper and other recycled materials.

Flooring is a very easy fix, use renewable resources such as bamboo, and cork, you can also again use materials taken from a another home. Overall there are many ways to save our stone resources, companies have ways of making products that look exactly like stone as it’s made from stone, but not from stone that may disappear. Remember if your looking to be environmental friendly it doesn’t matter that the material can just be recycled, but it’s a matter of how renewable the resource is.

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It’s Not All About The Interior

Spring will soon be here in the northern parts of the world and now is a great time to start thinking about outdoor areas. Usually you think of your own home, but how about this year you think about you and your community. Maybe you could start a community garden, or park. Maybe your school needs a good garden area to help teach kids about plants and encourage them to learn by doing. If you love this idea then I have some great information for you.

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The 2009 Project Orange Thumb grant is a grant for communities and schools to help them improve the areas around them. There will only be 20 communities who will get these grants, but I encourage you to apply for it if you are in a community that is very strapped for cash and needs something like this. You can also apply if you had a community area that has been neglected and you want to bring it back. You do have to be a group as individuals can not apply, but think about what it could do for your community to have an area where things can grow, people can enjoy themselves and maybe even get some good food out of the deal.

The grant is open to any group in the US, Canada and Australia. The winners in the us will get $1,500 in Fiskars tools and up to $800 in gardening materials and Australia’s winners will get $1,000 in Fiskars Tools and up to $1,000 in gardening related materials to help you get started. The grant application deadline is February 17th and the winners will be notified on March 25th.

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Geothermal Energy Part II: Systems

There are four types of systems when it comes to geothermal systems.

There is a closed loop system and a open loop system a slinky loop system and a pond loop system. Open loop systems are simple systems that draws ground water from an aquifer though one well, the water then passes though the heat pump’s heat exchanger, then is discharged to the same well though another pipe that is a good distance from the first pipe. This installation is good if you have a source of ground water to draw from.

The closed system has a pipe that is continuous. The length of the loop pipe varies depending on the temperature of the ground, the thermal conductivity, soil moisture and system design. There are two ways to install this type of pipe; horizontal or vertical. Horizontal pipes are better for small installations and are less expensive then vertical pipes. Horizontal pipes are better for commercial use or schools because of the lack of land around these types of buildings.

Slinky loop systems are pipes that overlap each other and are used to help keep more heat in the pipes. This is also helpful to use in small spaces. Pond loop systems are exactly the same as closed loop systems, but they use the heat from the bottom of ponds or streams to heat the water. They are usually installed at the bottom of the river bed or pond.

Part I: Geothermal an Introduction

Part III: Geothermal Codes and Design


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Geothermal Energy Part One: An Introduction

I have been doing extensive research into geothermal energy. I have decided to break this information up into 3 parts. Please check back for part 2 and 3

Introduction

Geothermal energy is a very earth friendly form of energy that can help the environment and save you money. Geothermal energy can be used for heating and electricity and hot water if installed correctly and for that purpose. Most people use Geothermal for heating and cooling more than for electricity use. The system is a simple system of pipes that lay underground and use the heat of the earth to provide warmth to the water contained in them. The water then goes though pipes that are in your home and heat the home. Using hydraulic or water system in your home instead of a forced air system that relies on warm air to heat your home can make a better indoor environment as the air does not dry out, though you can set up the geothermal to work with an existing forced air system.

Installing a geothermal loop is but can take some time and will destroy your yard. If you’re building your home and adding this in it is much easier then adding it to an existing home. The first step in installing a geothermal system is to find out how deep your frost level is as the piping needs to go into the ground where the earth will be warm. This is also important because the depth will affect the cost of the project.

The second step is deciding what type of system you would like to use, that I will cover in my next post.

Part II: Geothermal Systems

Part III: Geothermal Codes and Design


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Save Money By Upgrading Your Toilet

Have you heard about those cool duel flush toilets? The ones that only flush half a tank when you don’t need a full one. If you have and have looked into getting one you may find that they are pretty expensive. Most range from about $500 to $1000. That is a lot to spend on a toilet and it will probably take you some time to earn that investment back. If your building a home I say go ahead and spend the money if you would like to. If you are not, you do have another option.

The other option is the select a flush duel flush conversion kit. This device will allow you to make your existing toilet a duel flush for about $25. The system is easy to install and will start saving you money on your water bill quickly.  Some of the benefits of this system are:

* Lowers water and sewage bills
* Extends the life of higher water consumption toilets saving landfill space
* Reduces impact on municipal sewage treatment systems and saves energy
* Alleviates strained capacity on water treatment plants
* Reduces impact on septic systems

Taken from the select a flush website

Of course these are great reasons to buy this item for anyone, another good reason to buy this product is that it is made in the USA, in fact it’s made in Michigan. Another good thing about this product is that you can install it yourself, the hard part from what I hear is getting use to it.

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Upgrading To Electric

My mother and step dad, with my help have decided to upgrade our propane to electric so they have been out looking at tank less water heaters, stoves and furnaces for the last 2 weeks. Monday they finally bought the tank less and are working on getting it put in. I still think that is the best way to go as it really can cut down on your electric bill.

The good news is they also don’t have to buy a stove as a friend of mine has one she is giving us. upgrading to either electric or just getting new appliances can be expensive at first, but if you can find some cheep or free things it helps, also once you do get everything upgraded the savings will start. I recommend getting new appliances if yours are more then 15 years old or are not an energy star product. In this economy saving money is a big deal and think about it this way, if you are buying new appliances to save you money your also helping the economy buy buying something.

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Save Money Go Tankless

If you are looking to either save money on your bills this winter or are looking to help increase the value of your home you should really take a look at Tankless Water Heaters. These water heaters work just like a regular water heater except it only turns on when you need the water, this cuts down on energy use as the heater is not running all of the time trying to keep your water warm.

Tankless Water Heaters can save you up to 30% of your energy bill and they come in both electric and gas. You can choose which one you would like or what would work better for you. If your looking at getting one of these energy saving devices I would recommend you talk to someone who can figure out what size you need and if you should invest in more then one. My mother is looking into them and I would recommend she get a large one for most of the house and two small Tankless Water Heaters for her bathtub and the kitchen sink as they are on the other side of the house from the water heater. This also will save you money and time as the water will heat much faster. If your paying for that water you should see a savings there too.


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What Will Soon Transform Your Home

If you are someone who really looks at the new upcoming things for your home or entertainment you may be interested in the Wired Next Fest that takes place in the big design center of Chicago September 27th though October 12. This event showcases many of the new innovations that will be coming soon to your home. Some of the products involved include sustainable design, health care innovations and robotics.

One of the companies that will be there is Hoverit a furniture design company with a very interesting concept. They have a new line of magnetic hover furniture that may actually help to relieve muscle problems and headaches. I’m not sure how comfortable it would be but if it helps with muscle problems I would be willing to try it. According to the company it’s like floating not the same experience as you would have with normal plastic chair.

Wired Next Fest is a free event and will be held at Chicago’s Millennium Park. It is closed on Monday and only open from noon to 8pm on Thursday, The rest of the week it is open from 11am to 7pm. So make sure to plan your trip accordingly.

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Modren Design From Europe

I love finding new places to by any type of furniture. It’s nice to have choices and when it comes to modern design it’s really nice to have choices. If your looking for something that is a little different from the modern furniture your friend has you should check out www.temahome.com. There selection of modern decor is very unique and stylish.

Tema home is a company out of Portugal and is very eco friendly in fact they are members of the EU’s green dot society. The company was created in 1981 and produced furniture for some of the most well known and largest companies in the world. In 2006 the Terma Home concept of unique personal style was born and handpicked designers were found to help create that uniqueness.

One of my favorite pieces is this shelf unit called Ivy, I’m sure it is named that because it looks like ivy climbing up a wall. It can be used not only against a wall as a shelf, but as you can see from the picture it can also be used as a room divider and can create a great focal point in a room that may be without one. This shelf comes in White, wenge and chocolate colors.

Another nice piece that Tema Home has in this modern Sono Queen bed. It’s simple and elegant and is very useful. It is only available in the wenge color but does have matching dressers and nightstands. This is the perfect bed for anyone who is into simple modern design. It has such clean lines and really works well in a modern style home.

Tema home has it’s heart in the right place when it comes to green design and is now looking at the US market. They are not cheep but if you are looking to splurge on style and have a unique look in your home, they are the company to go to.

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