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5 Important Facts About LED Emergency Exit Signs

ledexitOften overlooked in the conservation department, exit signs are begging to switch to a more energy efficient model. If you’re on the fence (or simply need more information) about replacing exit lights, consider these five important facts about LED emergency exit signs:

LED Emergency Lights are Energy Efficient

Unlike most lights in any building (commercial or residential), emergency signs are meant to be on 24 hours a day. This means energy is being used whether someone is in the building or not. If you are using incandescent emergency lights, the constant usage is adding more to the electricity bill than necessary.

Incandescent emergency signs use 40 watts of power, almost 20 times more energy than LED signs which use under 5 watts. On your energy bill, this will look like a drop of 78-95% in energy usage.

LEDs are Cost Effective

Those energy-hogging incandescent and fluorescent exit lights are also dipping into your finances. While the purchase cost is roughly the same as LED exit signs (around $25), the similarities end there.

Anywhere from $10-$40 a year is spent on incandescent and fluorescent exit lights. By comparison, LEDs account for under $5 a year. Over a 10-year period, LED emergency exit lights will cut over $550 from your energy bill.

LED Emergency Signs are Mercury-Free

Mercury, that toxic organic compound that can cause multiple health problems (most notably impaired neurological development in children), can be found in fluorescent exit lights. This is a big safety hazard that can easily be avoided by switching to LED emergency signs, which do not contain mercury.

LED Lights Meet Safety Regulations

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, and The National Fire Protection Association, or NFPA both set the requirements for exit areas in buildings. Along with those organizations, some local and state governments require extra regulations for exit areas and signs. LED emergency exit lights comply with all the necessary safety regulations, such as:

  • Proper illumination externally and internally
  • Have a backup lighting source should the building lighting be compromised
  • Meet building fire codes

LED Exit Signs Have a Long Shelf Life

Honestly, you can almost forget about them once they are installed. LED exit signs have a shelf life of over 10 years. Incandescent and fluorescent lights cannot even compete, lasting on average five months or one year respectively.

Due to the easy install, low maintenance costs, and high energy efficiency, LED exit signs are a reliable investment in conservation.

Shop for LED Emergency Exit Signs>>>

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Reduce Humidity to Increase Indoor Air Quality and Save

Reduce Humidity
Reduce Humidity

Humidity, which is moisture in the air, can sometimes be unavoidable. It isn’t only a problem for hair, it can be hazardous to your home, health, and finances. To reduce humidity you need to know where it lives and how to deal with it.

Why humidity is a problem

Humidity breeds mildew, mold, and dust mites, which exasperate breathing conditions like asthma. Worst of all is that you cannot really see mold or dust mites until they become a serious problem. Humidity can also cause areas in the home to rot, a situation that can become a magnet for pests. The expenses that arise from high humidity include health bills, possible mold removal services or home repair, bug/pest control, and higher energy costs from trying to level the humidity with prolonged use of fans and air conditioning.

Where humidity lives

Because heaters work overtime during the winter – bringing in a a mixture of winter weather with the heat – winter months can be the most prosperous for humidity. Regardless of the season, humidity can be at home in the kitchen and bathroom, both areas that are heavily frequented throughout the day.

How to spot humid areas
One clear sign of high humidity is moisture buildup. If you see wet areas/spots on ceilings or walls, you may have a humidity problem. If moisture buildup has been around for a while, there may also be mold.

Reducing humidity

To reduce humidity in the home, properly ventilate. Turning on air conditioning and fans can help, but they add to energy costs. One solution is using a bath fan timer.

Ventilation timers
Ventilation timers work with the HVAC system or exhaust fans in your house to release air at set times. This balances the ventilation in the home and discourages moisture buildup. An added bonus: there’s no need to keep the air conditioning on all day long, which reduces how much energy is used in the home and therefore lowers your energy bill.

What you can do
There are a few ways you can reduce humidity just by making small changes to the way you live, such as:

  • Taking shorter showers or showering with colder water (probably more convenient during summer months)
  • Letting indoor plants live outdoors – plants need watering and produce moisture which can add to humidity
  • Leaving pots uncovered while cooking or using a slow cooker to reduce moisture levels

Save your health, home, and pockets by following these simple tips to properly ventilate your home.

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5 Need to Know Facts About Water Conservation

Conserving water can be easy and frustrating all at the same time. Just as you’ve solved the problem of H2O havoc in the kitchen, the bathroom faucet starts leaking. Get ahead of these water wasters by soaking up these facts about water conservation.

Facts About Water Conservation
Save Water at Home
One less flush could save a lake full of water

The City of San Diego estimates that if everyone in the United States was united in flushing the toilet just one less time each day, we could save a lake measuring four feet deep, a mile long and a mile wide. For the times when flushing is absolutely unavoidable, make a small investment (super small, like under $20) in dual flush converters and toilet tank banks.

Dual flush converters allow the toilet to use a little bit of water for flushing liquids and a little more water for flushing solids. At least 40% of the water typically used for flushing will be saved by using the converters.

Toilet tank banks just hang on the inside of the toilet. That simple, effortless act saves 0.8 gallons of water per flush.

Shutting off water while brushing could save 200 gallons of water

A family of four could save 200 gallons of water weekly by just shutting off the faucet while brushing. Want more savings? Keeping the water off while shaving earns you 100 gallons of water saved each week; doing the same for shampooing and lathering saves over 55 gallons of water. In one week alone, the average family of four could save upwards of 355 gallons of water just by keeping the faucet off.

14% of indoor water waste is due to leaks

One of the least known facts about water conservation is that 14% of the water used indoors is due to leaks. A leaky toilet could bloat your water bill by 500 gallons each day! The best solution to water leaks is prevention:

  • For the toilet: Toilet leak detection tablets are like toilet pills. Just drop them in the toilet and if the water changes color you have a leak.
  • For showers: Use teflon tape to secure the shower arm. This will keep it fastened and prevent it from leaking.
Outdoor water usage can contribute to (and even be the main cause of) water waste

Having a beautiful, well-cared for garden and lawn could be expanding your water bill and shrinking your finances. Garden and lawn maintenance accounts for nearly 60% of household water use. Using outdoor conservation tools, such as rain gauges and soil moisture meters help determine how much rain has fallen and how much water your lawn/garden needs. For further control over outdoor water usage, install a low-flow nozzle on the hose. Low-flow nozzles help to limit how much water comes out of the hose but without compromising water pressure.

Showers over 5 minutes long can waste up to 1000 gallons of water

On average, a 5-minute shower uses between 15-25 gallons of water. Up to 30% of that water could be saved by installing a low-flow (or earth) showerhead. Earth showerheads, like low-flow nozzles, restrict how much water is used but are able to keep the same water pressure. Some showerheads even have settings that let you change how much pressure you want to use.

If shorter showers are impossible, consider switching to baths. It takes about 36 gallons of water to fill a bathtub. Once the tub is full, you can stay in there for as long as you like without having to worry about water going down the drain.

These five facts about water conservation are only a drop in the ocean of solutions to save the ever needed H2O, but following these tips will go a long way in reducing water usage inside and outside the home.

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Simple Ways to Save Water in the Shower

Ways to Save Water
Ways to Save Water

Sometimes a bubble bath just can’t compare to a steady stream of water, but getting caught up in a shower could be wasteful in more ways than you realize. Thankfully, there are many ways to save water in the shower that are simple, cheap, and beneficial environmentally as well as monetarily.

Install low flow showerheads

Get the best out of your shower (instead of it getting money out of you) by installing low flow showerheads. Earth showerheads:

  • release 1.5 gallons of water per minute, compared to 2.5 GPM released by modern showerheads
  • save as much as much as 30% in water usage
  • come with the same (or even better) options for comfort, like massage settings and consistent water pressure

Have an older shower arm that doesn’t accept earth showerheads? Installing a showerhead adapter solves that problem.

Check for leaks

H2O conservation can be as simple as making sure your shower is free of leaks. On average, leaks can waste as much as 10,000 gallons of water per year! There can be many sources of a leak, but if the culprit is your showerhead then prevention is better than a cure. Wrapping teflon tape around the shower arm will help keep it secure and go a long way towards preventing the showerhead from leaking.

Limit shower time

One of the easiest ways to save water is to limit how much of it you use. Showering accounts for 17% of water usage in the average home, and that could be around 40 gallons of water each day! Installing a shower timer is a quick and easy way to start saving right away. The main types of shower timers out there are:

  • Sand Timers – These have an hour glass shape. All you have to do is watch the sand fall. This lets you know when your 5 minutes in the shower are up. Each time you rotate the timer, just add another 5 minutes to get the total amount of time spent in the shower.
  • Digital Timers – A digital shower timer takes it a step further and not only alerts you when 5 minutes are up, but it will also display how much water has been used during the shower.

Both timers can be installed by simply attaching the suction cup to the shower wall. Now we all cannot survive on 5-minute showers, but even just cutting your usual showering time in half will bring significant results on your energy and water bills.

Shower “The Navy Way”

Navy men and women only run water when it’s absolutely needed. The water is off while lathering, shampooing/conditioning, shaving. This is the most basic to conserve water that doesn’t include any added installation.

While the options listed are not the only choices, they are by far some of the most simple, energy efficient and cost-effective ways to save water.

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Simple Ways to Save Water for Toilets

If you’re not mindful, that large bowl of water waiting to be flushed will take your money with it. 30% of the water used in your home is dedicated to the toilet alone. To make matters worse, as much as 5-7 gallons of water could be wasted with just one flush! Take the foolishness out of flushing by following at least one of these many ways to save water with your toilet.

Ways to Save Water for Toilets
Ways to Save Water for Toilets

Save water by installing…

Dual flush converters
Dual flush converters allow you to determine whether to flush a little or a lot, giving you much more control over how much water your toilet uses per flush. Basically the converters give you the option to use a little bit of water to flush liquids or a lot of water to flush solids. There are different types of dual flush converters, but you can expect to save at least 40% of the water you typically use for flushing on a daily basis. Not bad at all!

Toilet fill cycle diverters
Installed on the end of the toilet tank’s fill tube, fill cycle diverters redirect the water that normally goes to fill up the toilet and instead switch it to the tank. This process reduced how much water is used per flush by half a gallon.

Toilet tank banks
One of the simplest ways to save water is by installing a toilet tank bank. It’s cheap, easy to install, doesn’t require any/much maintenance at all, and it even helps to prevent odors. Just add water to the tank and hang it on the inside of the toilet tank. That alone will save you 0.8 gallons of water every flush.

Check for toilet leaks

Toilet Leak Tablets
Toilet Leak Tablets

Toilet leaks are more damaging to your water bill than is apparent. A leaky toilet could waste as much as 500 gallons of water in one day! Simply insert toilet leak tablets into your toilet tank to quickly identify leaks.

Don’t use the toilet for trash!

One of the least difficult ways save water by far is to just avoid unnecessary flushing. Using the toilet as an alternative trash can will waster anywhere from 400-600 gallons of water.

Whether through installing toilet water savers or just making sure you fix leaky toilets, saving water can be a hassle free, cost-effective change in your home.

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Simple Ways to Save Water in the Kitchen

Ways to Save Water
Ways to Save Water

Though the kitchen can sometimes double as a family room – with all the laughter and delicious smells mingling together – , having family-sized water waste is no one’s idea of a good time. Luckily, from the faucet to the dishwasher, there are many simple ways to save water in the kitchen.

The Faucet: Why Aerators are Important

Have you ever turned on the outside faucet without a hose attached? See how freely the water flowed? Aerators keep the kitchen faucet from acting like the outside tap by reducing the flow of water. Some aerators go even further by using an off/pause valve that temporarily stops the water stream.

How it Works

An aerator is like a ring with a small mesh screen in the middle. Installed on the tip of a faucet, aerators reduce water flow by adding air to the water (for a visual of how this works, pour water through a strainer with very little openings). Even though less water is being used, aerators allow the water pressure to stay pretty much the same.

Savings

Installing faucet (or tap) aerators is one of the cheapest ways to save water. For your investment of as little as $1.15, you could reduce water usage by 30-50%!

Installing

Can you open and close a bottle of water? Then you can install an aerator.

  • First off, make sure that you need to change the aerator you have (or install one for the first time). To determine if you need a new aerator, check the sides to see what the GPM (gallons per minute) is. If it’s more than 2.5, than you need a new aerator. Ideally, you want an aerator that dispenses 0.5-1.5 gallons of water per minute.
  • Now find out which threading, or type of aerator for your spout, is needed. If the faucet tip is male, or has edges that go around the outside of the tip, than you need female threading. It the faucet is female, or has edges on the inside of the tip, than you need male threading.
  • Simply twist it on and you’re done!

Dishwasher: An Upgrade is in Order

Dishwashers are a must in every household, which is why getting an energy and water efficient model is one of the best ways to save water. If the dishwasher in your home has been in use since 2003 or earlier, it’s time for a change. Dishwashers that are 10+ years old waste as much as 50% more water and energy than newer models.

Keep it Simple – Just use less water!

The opportunities to save water in the kitchen are endless. A few tips to get you started include:

Don’t run the faucet

  • Rinsing off vegetables for a dinner? Instead of letting the water run, fill up a bowl with water and rinse your veggies in the bowl.
  • Washing your hands in a double-sink? Fill one sink with soap water for washing and the other for rinsing.
  • We always tell kids to turn off the water while brushing: we should do the same. Up to 8 gallons of water can be saved from that one act alone.

Reuse Water

  • Draining water from pasta? Use that leftover water to cook a broth or soup.
  • If you have a glass of water or two lying around that you neglected to finish off, why not use it to water your plants?

Mind the Dishwasher

Though newer models are more energy and water efficient, all of that is thrown away if the dishwasher is run 3+ times throughout the day. Only run the dishwasher when it’s full.

Putting these tips to use will immediately impact your home’s water and energy bills and (better yet) make family-sized water waste is a problem of the past.

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4 Easy Ways to Start Saving Water at Home

Saving Water
Saving Water

The slow, annoyingly loud drip of water edging itself out of the faucet isn’t the only cause of water-waste in the home. Showerheads, the toilet, and even the water hose are playing a lead role in the drama of H2O misuse. Thankfully, with a few DIY projects and the will to conserve, there are four easy ways to start saving water at home.

Showerheads

That new showerhead – the one with different massage levels and an FM radio attached – seemed like a good idea at the time, until you realized the water going down the drain was carrying your money with it. Modern showerheads dispense as much as 2.5 gallons of water (GPM) per minute. Earth showerheads use only 1.5 GPM, saving you a whole gallon of water per minute. With energy efficient showerheads, you:

  • Use less water
  • Use less energy
  • Won’t have to sacrifice comfort

Many earth showerheads come with massage settings, Flow Control Technology (enables consistent water pressure), and non-aerating consistency which allows water to flow fast and long.

Installing earth showerheads can increase your water savings by as much as 30%.

Faucet Aerators

Faucet aerators are like the nozzle on a hose, they control the evenness and consistency of water flow and how much of it comes out the faucet. Aerators are a great investment because they are super cheap (as little as $1.15 per unit), and installing them along with energy efficient showerheads can reduce water waste by as much as 50%.

Toilet

Saving water through the toilet seems odd, but one flush could take with it 5-7 gallons of water! According to The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), 30% of the water used in your home is dedicated to the toilet alone; if they leak, that could be anywhere from 30-500 gallons of water daily.

Solution? Install a tank bank. Just fill it up with water then hang it on the inside of the tank. This simple install could save 10 or more gallons per flush each day.

Outdoor Watering Tools

Gardening enthusiasts especially will see the benefits in a low-flow hose nozzle, rain gauge, and soil moisture meter. These items allow you to control and measure how much water is used outside the home.

Low-flow Nozzle
Just like earth showerheads, low-flow nozzles control the water flow coming out of the hose. Many offer multiple spray settings and they are an inexpensive way to control outdoor water use.

Rain Gauge
A rain gauge is a way to measure how much rain has fallen. It’s like a measuring cup for rain; the rain falls through it and the measurements are labeled on the outside, allowing you to see exactly how much rain has met your garden/lawn/soil for the day.

Soil Moisture Meter
A soil moisture meter does just that: it measures how much moisture is in the soil. This is especially useful for gardening and lawn care, as it allows you to know whether or not watering is needed.

 

Saving water doesn’t have to be time consuming, overly technical, and impossible to install by yourself. These four simple water conservation tools are easy to install, take little time out of your day, and you’ll see the difference on your energy and water bills by the next billing or two.

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Safety and Saving with LED Exit Signs

LED Exit Signs
LED Exit Signs

Over the years, the use and knowledge of LED lighting has expanded beyond energy enthusiasts and met the masses, but there are one or two areas where the use of energy efficient lighting is overlooked. Exit signs, a standard safety device used in every commercial building, are prime for switching to the LED world. LED exit signs are not only energy efficient, but you’ll begin to reap the financial benefits of them within the first year.

LED vs Incandescent and Fluorescent Lighting: Who says safety and savings don’t mix?

Energy
The obvious savings from LED exit lights are in the energy department. According to the North Carolina Department of Commerce, the average energy costs of LEDs is only $2 per year, compared to $39 and $11 for incandescent and fluorescent signs. Simple put, using LEDs saves between 78-95% in exit sign energy usage.

Money
This is what you’re after: how much money will this lighting change cost/save me?

Cost
The cost of LED exit signs varies, but on average you can expect to spend anywhere from $13-$100 or more. Pricing depends on the features of the LED exit lights. Some lights come with backup batteries, extra lighting details, special frames/casting, and more.

Savings
Do you know how long your exit sign will last? If you’re using the energy-stealing incandescent or fluorescent sign, you can expect your lighting to phase out after 6-12 months. The LED equivalent (which isn’t really an equal by any stretch) will last for at least 10 years and net over $500 in savings!

Safety
Fluorescent exit signs contain toxic mercury, making them unsafe for use. By comparison, LED lights do not have any toxic mercury

Investing in LED exit signs won’t only add some relief to your energy bill, but you’ll also reap the added benefit of having safer lights because LEDs are free of toxic mercury. So again I ask: who says safety and savings don’t mix?

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What is CRI for LED Bulbs?

CRI for LED Bulbs
CRI for LED Bulbs

LED, color temperature, light source, lumens: it’s easy to get confused by all the acronyms and technical jargon used in the world of energy-saving lighting — but trust that you won’t be stumped by the Color Rendering Index, or CRI. CRI for LED Bulbs is simply another measurement of brightness and color. But if you are to get the best out of your LED bulbs, it’s important to understand what CRI is, what it means for LED lighting, and how it stacks up against the incandescent competition.

What is CRI?

The Color Rendering Index (also referred to as Color Rendition Index) at the most basic level expresses how close the light in the bulb matches the “reference light,” or the light it’s trying to replicate. In the case of LED light bulbs, the reference light is the sun.

How to Determine CRI

CRI is detailed in percentage numbers, with higher numbers meaning that the bulb’s light emission is closer to the sun. For example, a Color Rendering Index of 75 means that the bulb’s light shines 75% like the sun would. It’s better to purchase LED bulbs with high CRI percentages, because it will be closer in lighting to its source.

Big Factor: Time and the Reference Light

Interestingly enough, the reference light could be taken from the sun at different times of the day. So if the CRI is measured by a reference light of the sun at noon, then a CRI of 100 would mean that the bulbs looks 100% of what the sun would look like at noon. Always keep in mind what time of the day the reference light is drawn from, otherwise you could end up misreading the CRI. For LED bulbs, be aware that some manufacturers use color temperature – like 4200k, 5000k, etc. – instead of the sun to measure CRI.

CRI for LED Bulbs vs Incandescent Bulbs

The brilliance of LED bulbs is simple: they produce better or the same lighting results as incandescents without using as much energy. In terms of CRI, an LED bulb with a CRI in the high 70’s matches that of an incandescent with a CRI of 100, again proving that LED lighting can produce more results with less effort than its incandescent counterpart.

With this newfound understanding of the Color Rendering Index, or CRI for LED bulbs, hopefully some of the confusion of LED lighting has been put to bed. Now you can begin to fully make the switch from incandescents to energy efficient lighting.

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The Many Benefits of Duct Sealing

Duct Sealing
Duct Sealing

While checking every nook and cranny for possible air leaks, it can be easy to forget some of the bigger culprits right in our faces. Air ducts are placed throughout the house to bring heat and cool air, but they wear down after some time, developing cracks and leaks that can seriously influence the comfort level and energy usage in your home. Duct sealing is the simplest solution to this problem, but first you need to find out if your air duct system is in fact leaky.

Do You Have Leaky Air Ducts?

There are many signs that can tell you whether or not the duct system in your home is working properly or suffering from Father Time. Some indicators include:

  • Visible cracks/leaks in ducts
  • Rooms that don’t heat/cool like other areas
  • High energy bills during the summer and winter
  • Ducts that are tangled

Aside from the signs listed above, you can also have an HVAC contractor test your duct system to see if it needs sealing. Based on the results, you can then seal the ducts yourself or have a professional do it.

Benefits of Sealing Air Ducts

It’ll Bring Comfort Back
You know the room that is always too cold, too hot, or just to stuffy for anyone to relax in? Duct sealing could solve that problem. A properly working duct system will allow air to flow evenly throughout the home, so inconsistent cooling/heating will no longer be an issue.

Your energy bills will finally stop surprising you
Did you know 20-40 percent of your energy bill comes from leaky air ducts? Poorly insulated homes sap more energy than you realize, leaving you confused (and sometimes angry) with the high dollar amount of your energy bill. Sealing air ducts will allow you better control of the energy usage in your home, therefore better control of how much money is sent the energy company’s way.

Cleaner Air
Leaky air ducts pick up polluted air, carrying not only the air from your heating/cooling system but also pollutants like exhaust fumes, mildew/mold, and even pollen – which could be a serious problem for anyone with pollen allergies. Sealing air ducts will prevent dirty air from mixing in with your homes air system.

 

You can make duct sealing a DIY project or hire a contractor. Either way, the benefits of a properly working duct system will be felt throughout the house, your energy bills, and even through the safety level of air in your home.