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Going Green: Where to Start?

Conserve Energy - Go Green

1. Install a programmable thermostat.
Programmable thermostats automatically adjust your home’s temperature as needed, and can easily save you $100 a year on your energy bill.

2. Replace regular incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs).
A CFL bulb uses 50-75 percent less energy and lasts about 10 times longer than an incandescent bulb.

3. Use rechargeable batteries to keep dead batteries out of landfills.
Rechargeable batteries have 32 times less impact on the environment and use a fraction of the natural resources disposables do.

4. Choose and use appliances wisely.
Look for the Energy Star™ label on new appliances to choose the most energy-efficient products available, and remember to shut off appliances when not in use. Computers, televisions, and other electronics use a surprising amount of energy on “sleep” or “standby” mode.

5. Don’t do the dishes!
Good news: an energy-efficient dishwasher is more “green” than hand-washing a sink full of dirty dishes.

6. Replace your old single-glazed windows with double-glazed models.
This requires some initial investment, but will halve the energy lost through your windows and reap rewards in the long term.

7. Insulate and weatherize your home.
Properly insulating your walls and ceilings can save 25% of your home heating bill.

8. Heat only the space you occupy.
Close off rarely used rooms, and heat only just prior to use.

9. Take a shower instead of a bath.
A shower takes up to four times less energy than a bath. To maximize the energy saving, avoid power showers and use low-flow shower heads instead.

10. Use less hot water.
Hot water requires a lot of energy. Install a low-flow shower head and wash your clothes in cold or warm water instead.

11. Be sure you’re recycling at home.
You can save 2,400 pounds of carbon dioxide a year by recycling half of the waste your household generates.

12. Expand your recycling to composting.
Yard trimmings and food residuals together constitute 24 percent of the U.S. municipal solid waste stream. Composting creates a useful product from organic waste that would otherwise have been land-filled. If you have a garden, your soil will love compost.

13. Plant a tree.
A single tree will absorb one ton of carbon dioxide over its lifetime. Shade provided by trees can also reduce your air conditioning bill by 10% to 15%.

14. Buy an electric lawn mower.
According to the EPA, the average gasoline mower emits the same amount of hydrocarbons in one hour as a 1992 Ford Explorer emits in over 23,600 miles. An electric lawn mower will save you, on average, 73% on lawn care costs and is better for the environment.

15. Buy locally grown and produced foods.
The average meal in the United States travels 1,200 miles from the farm to your plate. Buying locally will save fuel and keep money in your community.

16. Buy in bulk.
Not only will you save fuel by making fewer trips to the grocery store, you will also consume less packaging material.

17. Choose products that come with little packaging and buy refills when you can.
This practice cuts down on waste production and energy use.

18. Reuse your shopping bag.
Save energy and waste by using your own reusable bags instead of accepting a disposable one in each shop.

19. Keep your car tuned up.
Regular maintenance helps improve fuel efficiency and reduces emissions. When just 1% of car owners properly maintain their cars, nearly a billion pounds of carbon dioxide are kept out of the atmosphere.

20. Check your tires weekly to make sure they’re properly inflated.
Proper tire inflation can improve gas mileage by as much as 4.5%

NARI Offers Tips to Homeowners looking to repair Roof Damage from Snow & Ice

ice dam repair

The National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI), based in Des Plaines, Ill and the CT chapter of NARI, Remodeling Contractors Association, offers tips for homeowners affected by snow and ice damage. Consumers must avoid doing business with unregistered contractors or contractors that are not certified by the EPA.

As of April 22, 2010, federal law requires that:

– Renovation firms must be certified under EPA’s Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule

– Individuals must be trained in lead-safe work practices

– Training providers must be accredited by EPA.

Con artists often show up at a homeowner’s door after a disaster, offering an array of services and demanding a hefty down payment up front. They might offer a “great deal,” based on using materials left over from a neighbor’s job, but homeowners should remember that a “great deal” isn’t always what it seems. Frequently, these fly-by-night operators drive vehicles with out-of-state license plates, or set up temporary offices from which they can move quickly once authorities start looking for them. Before writing that check, and especially before allowing any unknown individual into your home, NARI suggests that a homeowner:

  • Get the name and address of the company that person allegedly represents.
  • Get all details of the offer in writing and carefully review it. Be sure you understand everything in the contract and that any verbal promises made are included in the contract.
  • Determine how long the company has been in business and call organizations with which the contractor is affiliated, such as NARI or other trade associations, to determine the firm’s legitimacy.
  • Ask for references and contact each one.
  • Remember that any legitimate company that wants your business will be more than willing to allow you the time to do your homework. Don’t fall prey to high-pressure tactics such as “this is the only chance you have” or “by tomorrow the extra materials will be gone.”

Homeowners should be especially skeptical if they….

  • Come to your door unsolicited.
  • Use high-pressure sales tactics.
  • Request full payment before completing the work.
  • Give a post office box without a street address or phone number.
  • Promise to begin and complete the work more quickly and cheaply than any other company.
  • Say they just finished work on your neighbor’s house and have just enough materials to do repair work on yours. They might say they can give you a better bargain if you let them do the work today since they have the supplies now.

NARI is a professional association whose members voluntarily subscribe to a strict code of ethics. Homeowners may wish to search www.NARI.org on the Homeowners Guide page for additional tips, or to find a qualified professional who is a member of the Connecticut Chapter of NARI. Homeowners may also call the NARI National hotline at 800-611-NARI and request a free copy of NARI’s brochure, “How to Select a Remodeling Professional”.

Titus Built, LLC has provided residential design and build remodeling services in Fairfield County, Connecticut since 1995. The company provides a unique customer experience by delivering the convenience of truly integrated, step-by-step design and building services. Titus Built has developed a loyal following in the Fairfield County area with its focus on the highest quality craftsmanship, a systematic project process, and dedicated attention to customer care.

Ask the Expert: Remodeling Tips for the Season

24-month-average-retail-gas-price-in-ct

Old Man Winter has returned to us once more, and with gas prices reaching the highest prices ever for the Christmas Holiday Season at over $3 per gallon*, we thought we’d pass on some of the more helpful tips from the Department of Energy’s own website.

Shut off the screen: There is a common misconception that screen savers reduce energy use by monitors; they do not. Automatic switching to sleep mode or manually turning monitors off is always the better energy-saving strategy.

Don’t forget the dryer: Periodically inspect your dryer vent to ensure it is not blocked. This will save energy and may prevent a fire. Manufacturers recommend using rigid venting material, not plastic vents that may collapse and cause blockages.

Drain Your Water Tank: Drain a quart of water from your water tank every 3 months to remove sediment that impedes heat transfer and lowers the efficiency of your heater. The type of water tank you have determines the steps to take, so follow the manufacturer’s advice.

Maintain Your Water Heater: Install heat traps on the hot and cold pipes at the water heater to prevent heat loss. Some new water heaters have built-in heat traps. Insulate your hot water pipes, which will reduce heat loss and can raise water temperature 2ºF-4ºF hotter than un-insulated pipes. This allows for a lower water temperature setting. Lowering the thermostat on your water heater by 10ºF can save you between 3%-5% in energy costs. Most households only require a water heater thermostat setting of 120ºF, or even 115ºF.

Keep Cold Out and Heat In: During the heating season, keep the draperies and shades on your south-facing windows open during the day to allow the sunlight to enter your home and closed at night to reduce the chill you may feel from cold windows.

Put on a sweater: Set your thermostat as low as is comfortable when home. By resetting your programmable thermostat from
72º to 65º for eight hours a day (for instance, while no one is home or while everyone is tucked in bed) you can cut your heating bill
by up to 10 percent.

Weatherize your home: Caulk and weatherstrip any doors and windows that leak air.

This information was found on the Department of Energy’s website. For even more ideas, visitwww.energy.gov.

* The highest gasoline prices in US history still are the $4 a gallon prices in the summer of 2008, but prices fell below $3 by Christmas that year.

We decided to check back on the 24 Mo. Average Retail Price Chart. Average gas prices continue to fluctuate, but stayed somewhere between the high $2 to less than $4 per gallon.  We hope the above tips from the Department of Energy’s are helpful in conserving energy costs despite the continued high gasoline prices.

Wishing everyone a healthy and prosperous 2012!

2011-2012 gas prices(1)