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Finding the Right Door Sweep for Your Home

Exterior Door SweepWith or without a security system, intruders can enter your home through a closed door – but not the kind you have in mind. Dust, cold air, bugs, and more use the open spaces between door bottoms to become a mainstay in your house. Protect your energy bill from bloat by installing a standard, foam, self-stick, or automatic exterior door sweep.

Standard Door Sweeps

Install a standard sweep on doors that cross wooden, tiled, or smooth floors of any kind. Standard sweeps need to be screwed into the bottom of a wooden or steel door, but a little labor is worth the benefit. They seal saps as large as 3/4ths of an inch and have a long lifespan, lasting for years at a time. The most common size is a 36 inch door sweep but you may need a 42 inch door sweep.

Foam Door Sweeps

Renters rejoice! Foam door sweeps install without any screws whatsoever and work on doors that cross nearly any type flooring: carpet, tile, wood, and more. This exterior door sweep comes with two tubes and a connected pocket, or sleeve, for each tube. Simply slide one tube into each sleeve and slip it under the door.

Self-Stick Door Sweeps

If you can peel a sticker you can install a self-stick door sweep. Peel the adhesive from the backing and stick it to the bottom of the door. This type of door sweep works best on metal and wood doors, but regardless of the door you’ll have weatherproof, dust-proof, bug-proof and hassle-free insulation with self-stick sweeps.

Automatic Door Sweeps

Carpeted areas or doors that cross over rugs will get the most benefit out of automatic door sweeps. This exterior door sweep was designed to rise just enough to cross the carpeted area but still seal firmly when the door is closed. A little more install work is required here, with screws and a “roller” (plug), but these sweeps seal up to 1/2″ of space between the door and threshold.

Get proactive in your home’s energy security (along with your finances) by investing in door sweeps.

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LED Recessed Lighting Options

Recently, I decided to replace the ugly fluorescent tubes in kitchen with recessed lighting. I wanted to go with a LED recessed lighting retrofit because of the energy savings and also because they’re finally becoming very affordable. There actually are quite a few options and it’s a bit confusing deciding which direction to go. It comes down to 2 options: installing LED Recessed Lighting Retrofit Kits or going with a Remodel Recessed Lighting Kit and then purchasing R30 or R40 LED Lamps separately. So which option is better? The answer is, like almost in everything else in life: it depends. Here are the factors to consider when making your decision:

LED Recessed Lighting Retrofit Kit
LED Recessed Lighting Retrofit Kit

1)Existing Recessed Lights. If you have existing recessed lighting in the same area, you may want to match the existing look. In which case, purchasing a Remodel Recessed Lighting Kit makes more sense because you can get the same or similar trim finish. You can then install an R30 Led bulb of your choosing – again to match the existing bulbs.

2)Wattage and Color Temperature Choices. If you’d going after a specific wattage (.e.g higher wattage) with a specific color temperature (e.g. say 5000k) then go with the Remodel Kit because you’ll have more choices when buying the LED R30 Lamp separately.

3)Specific Look of the Trim. If you are looking for a specific look of the recessed light trim e.g. brushed nickel, oil rubbed bronze, then going with the Remodel Lighting Kit makes more sense because the choices of trims available is much larger.

R30 LED Bulb
R30 LED Bulb

4)All in one installation. If you are going for an easy installation with an integrated lamp, then go with the LED Recessed Retrofit Kit.

5)Cost. It’s a bit cheaper to go with the Retrofit LED Recessed Lighting Kit since you don’t have to purchase a separate remodel recessed lighting kit and an LED Bulb.

6)Only allow Energy Efficient Lighting. If this is going to a commercial facility, or a rental unit or you simply don’t want any possibility of anything other then energy effficient lighting ,then go with the LED Recessed Retrofit Kits. Since the LED light is integrated there is no way you can put in say an incandescent bulb as you can with the Remodel Lighting Kit.

In case you’re curios about which option I went with, we decided on the Remodel Recessed Lighting Kits and purchased 15w Dimmable LED R30 bulbs. We had existing recessed lighting in the kitchen and we wanted the new lights to blend in with those.

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Recycling is Good but Reusing is Even Better!

Recycling materials for further use is wonderful. However it still requires energy to transport the original materials to a sorting facility and then more energy to process it. And yet more energy to distribute it in it’s new re-purposed form.

Instead, wouldn’t it better if we reused the original items to extend it life? A perfect example is cardboard packaging. In this country, we recycle thousands of tons of cardboard boxes each day. That’s all well and good, but what if we got multiple reuses out of those boxes for further shipments. That would be the most efficient utilization of resources. That’s how we feel at Conservation Mart. Which is why when you receive a package from us, it will most likely not be a brand new cardboard box. Most likely, it’ll be a box that has nothing to do with our industry. We’re giving a salvaged box another life and it lowers shipping costs which we pass onto our customers. What’s there not to like about that?

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Weatherproofing Windows Reduces Drafts in a Home

Weatherproofing Windows
Weatherproofing Windows

In a home that lacks proper insulation, air leaks occur year-round. However, they are most easily felt during the winter months. For example, if you sit at a window that is poorly insulated, or place your hand to it, a draft can be felt coming into the home. With drafts come less comfort in the home, and more money spent on heating it. Weatherproofing windows can be done with tools such as rope caulk, v seal weatherstripping, and interior storm windows. These are all simple to install and capable of sealing air leaks without breaking the bank.

Rope caulk is simply window putty that comes on a roll. Of the three tools, it is the simplest to install. To install, take a piece of the caulk, and press it into the window gaps with your fingers. Be sure to go around the entire window for the best results. The amount of rope caulk necessary depends on the size and number of windows that require insulation. Rope caulk is available in 35 ft., 45 ft., and 90 ft. rolls in both brown and grey, and costs between $2.50 and $5.80.

V seal weatherstrip also comes on a roll, and is made of pre-scored polypropylene that has an adhesive backing on one half of it. Weatherproofing windows with this tool is done by first cleaning the surface where the sealant will be placed. Then, using a pair of scissors cut the v seal into the desired length, and press into place using your fingertips. The shape that is made with the sealant is a “V” shape, hence the name. V seal weatherstrip comes in brown and white rolls of 17 ft. and 180 ft., and costs between $4.50 and $23.00.

Interior storm windows cover the entire window to seal out drafts. By creating dead air space , the kit increases insulating R-Value up to 90%. Window kits cost between $5.99 and $13.00, and are the most difficult of the 3 to install. Exact instructions depend on the type of kit acquired, but here are a few basic steps that are required for installation of interior storm windows:

  • Clean the window surface.
  • Apply tape to the designated places on the window.
  • Place the plastic film over the window, and lightly against the tape.
  • Lightly stretch the film, making sure to not stretch too much.
  • Use a hair dryer to stretch the film. Do not let the dryer touch the film. This also gets rid of any wrinkles.
  • Cut off any excess film.

Using either of these tools, you can quickly seal out window drafts, reducing the amount of energy loss that occurs in the home. In addition, weatherproofing windows will help reduce the amount of money spent on heating the home, as windows account for 10%-25% of all home energy loss.

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Simple Ways to Weatherize: How to Pick the Correct Size Attic Tent

 

During extreme weather months, the attic tends to be the area of the home that gets the coldest. This is because attic-tentmost attics are not well insulated, and are either too hot or too cold. Attic doors typically act as an escape for air from the attic, which then mixes with the air inside the home, increasing energy bills. Insulating the attic door with an Attic Tent is a light-weight, simple, and cost-effective way to reduce the amount of unwanted air infiltration from the attic into the home, and it comes in many sizes to fit over many different attic doors.

Choosing the right size attic stair insulation for your attic can be accomplished with just one tool: measuring tape.

  • Measure the width of the attic door across (typically 22″ to 30″)
  • Measure the length of the attic door across (typically 54″ to 60″)
  • If your attic is one that has the usual triple-fold staircase, then you should measure the height of the staircase when folded (typically 7′ to 13’)
    • 7’ height is necessary for an attic ladder side rail made with a 1×4
    • 13′ height is necessary for an attic ladder side rail made with a 1×5 or 1×6

A benefit to the attic tent is that it offers some flexibility with the measurements. Whether you order a size that is 2-3 inches too small or 2-3 inches too large, this type of attic stair insulation has some give that allows the tent to fit over the door that is being insulated. The Attic Tent is lightweight, weighing no more than 5-6 pounds, easy to install and pays for itself in energy savings within the first year. Once you know the right size necessary for your attic, you will be well on your way to reducing the amount of unwanted air exchanges that occur through the attic.

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Simple Way to Weatherize: V Seal Weatherstrip Reduces Drafts in Winter

V Seal Weatherstrip
V Seal Weatherstrip

As summer comes to a close, and the leaves on trees turn from green to the autumn colors of yellow, red, and orange, what are you looking forward to the most? If you are like many homeowners, what you are least looking forward to may be having cold air come into the home and having the warm air leave. In addition to creating discomfort, this also raises energy bills. In this five-part blog series we’ll discuss how to reduce heating costs this winter; starting with v seal weatherstrip for windows and doors.

V seal weatherstrip has an adhesive backing and designed to be easily bent so that it forms a V shape once pressed into the corner of window or doors. It comes in various widths and lengths, and is made of insulating polypropylene that is pressed against the sides of gaps or cracks in windows to create a seal and eliminate window drafts. It can be installed in a few simple steps:

  • Measure windows and clean the surface for application.
  • Using a pair of scissors, cut the V Seal weatherstrip to the desired length.
  • Fold the cut piece into a “V” shape.
  • Remove adhesive backing
  • Using your fingertips, place the v seal weatherstrip on the cleaned surface

Weatherproofing your windows/doors with a v seal is also cost effective. The weatherstrip costs around five dollars, and remains on windows/doors the entire winter. In addition to being affordable and durable, the v seal weatherstrip does not diminish visual appeal of your windows or doors, as they are invisible when in place. Once the cracks and gaps in windows have been taken care of, you will be on the right track to having more control over the temperatures in your home as well as the cost of heating.

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More options with Dimmable GU24 Bulbs

By now, you’ve probably come across a GU24 CFL bulb. You know it’s the CFL that has two prongs sticking out. You attach it to the fixture not by screwing it in (like a standard bulb) but by sticking the prongs into the fixture and twisting it till the bulb locks into place.

Dimmable GU24
Dimmable GU24

When these bulbs came onto the lighting scene a few years ago, there weren’t a lot of options. That has changed as these have gained popularity due to GU24 advantages which we cited in a previous post.

Now you can get GU24 bulbs from all the major lighting manufacturers such as TCP Lighting, Feit Electric, Bulbrite, Maxlite, Sylvania to name a few. They are available in different wattages, sizes (short, tall), color temperatures (2700k for a warm look or 5000 for a daylight color) and they have dimmable features available. A few years ago you couldn’t have a GU24 bulb in a dimmable fixture. That’s changed now and dimmable GU24 bulbs are available from many manufacturers. So if you’re looking into an energy efficient fixture that you would like to have dimming features, fear not, there are plenty of options.

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Innovative Waste Water Treatment Solution

As populations increase and the demand for water rises, our freshwater resources are becoming
increasingly scarce. Scarcity, coupled with stringent water regulations and aging infrastructure has led
to continuous and substantial increases in water rates nationwide over the last twenty years. In
addition, escalating urbanization rates have increased water loads for current wastewater treatment
systems, and motivated tighter regulatory control. These facts create concern on whether existing
systems can provide a viable solution to stabilizing water supply and ensuring sanitary water conditions
in the future. This new reality of water scarcity has created a need for water reclamation and reuse
technologies that are not only safe and cost effective, but also lower our environmental footprint and
allow for a sustainable future.
Organica Water has a developed a new wastewater treatment system that combines conventional
methods of wastewater technology with advanced ecological engineering to treat water through the use
of a complex adaptive ecosystem. The result is a 1,500 sq.ft greenhouse. The aptly named BlueHouseâ„¢
treats and recycles up to 24 million gallons of sanitary and storm water per year for a variety of nonpotable
applications like cooling towers or boiler makeup, irrigation, and toilet water. The vegetation
inside the BlueHouseâ„¢ provides a habitat for a highly diverse ecosystems, comprised of more than 3,000
species of bacteria and other organisms, which breaks down the organic waste. Through the use of
these natural processes the BlueHouseâ„¢ minimizes its environmental footprint, while also possessing an
aesthetically pleasing design and odorless treatment process. The BlueHouseâ„¢ water treatment and
reclamation system is an exceedingly flexible and appealing option in any environment, urban or rural.
Using a decentralized approach by treating and reusing wastewater locally, the BlueHouseâ„¢ technology
makes ecological and economic sense. With a capacity to reuse water, considerable operational savings
can be realized by using treated water for cooling towers, boiler systems, irrigation and other nonpotable
needs. The flexible size and simple operation of the BlueHouseâ„¢ technology lends itself to
being a viable solution: Ideal for large commercial, institutional or industrial sites the BlueHouseâ„¢
ensures better treatment characteristics, higher quality of water, lower energy consumption, and cost
savings in operations and overall footprint.

As populations increase and the demand for water rises, our freshwater resources are becoming increasingly scarce. Scarcity, coupled with stringent water regulations and aging infrastructure has led to continuous and substantial increases in water rates nationwide over the last twenty years. In addition, escalating urbanization rates have increased water loads for current waste water treatment systems, and motivated tighter regulatory control. These facts create concern on whether existing systems can provide a viable solution to stabilizing water supply and ensuring sanitary water conditions in the future. This new reality of water scarcity has created a need for water reclamation and reuse technologies that are not only safe and cost effective, but also lower our environmental footprint and allow for a sustainable future.

A company called Organica Water addresses this issue by developing an  interesting new wastewater treatment system that combines conventional methods of waste water technology with advanced ecological engineering to treat water through the use of a complex adaptive ecosystem. The result is a 1,500 sq.ft greenhouse. The aptly named BlueHouse™ treats and recycles up to 24 million gallons of sanitary and storm water per year for a variety of non potable applications like cooling towers or boiler makeup, irrigation, and toilet water. The vegetation inside the BlueHouse™ provides a habitat for a highly diverse ecosystems, comprised of more than 3,000 species of bacteria and other organisms, which breaks down the organic waste. Through the use of these natural processes the BlueHouse™ minimizes its environmental footprint, while also possessing an aesthetically pleasing design and odorless treatment process. The BlueHouse™ water treatment and reclamation system is an exceedingly flexible and appealing option in any environment, urban or rural.

Using a decentralized approach by treating and reusing wastewater locally, the BlueHouse™ technology makes ecological and economic sense. With a capacity to reuse water, considerable operational savings can be realized by using treated water for cooling towers, boiler systems, irrigation and other nonpotable needs. The flexible size and simple operation of the BlueHouse™ technology lends itself to being a viable solution: Ideal for large commercial, institutional or industrial sites the BlueHouse™ ensures better treatment characteristics, higher quality of water, lower energy consumption, and cost savings in operations and overall footprint.

Now that is something we can all drink to!

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Choosing the Perfect Light Color and Light Brightness

Compact fluorescent light bulbs are produced to conserve energy, unlike their incandescent counterparts. For example, a 13-watt CFL is manufactured to replace a 60-watt incandescent, using only 22% of the power that the incandescent needs. Also unlike the incandescent, CFL light color and light brightness are based on lumens and color temperature, not wattage. These both should be taken into consideration when choosing an incandescent replacement.

The amount of light emitted from a compact fluorescent bulb is based on lumens. The chart below shows the amount of lumens necessary to achieve the same light brightness as an incandescent.

The light color of a compact fluorescent light depends on temperature, which is measured in degrees Kelvin. The lower the Kelvin number is, the “warmer” the light color of a bulb will appear. For example, a compact fluorescent light which measures 2700K will give off a warm glow, similar to that of most incandescents placed in living rooms and bedrooms. At 3500K to 4100K, the color is more of a soft to cool white, suitable for kitchens. A CFL with 5000K provides a light color comparable to the light of the sun at noon. This light color is more appropriate for tasks such as painting where close attention to detail is required.

The picture below from DTE Energy will help you see the difference in color as the temperature changes.

Light Color
Light Color

Understanding light brightness and light color are important to choosing the correct replacement for the energy abusing incandescent lights in your home.

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Measuring Shower Water Usage Helps Save Water

How many times a day is the shower run at your home? How long is each shower? A shower can be a great way to unwind after a long day of work or school. It can also be a major source of water use. The amount of gallons of water per shower depends on two things: the shower head flow rate, and the amount of time spent showering.flow rate bag

Knowing the gallons per minute (GPM) that each shower head allows is the first step in calculating gallons of water per shower. If you do not know the amount, a flow meter bag helps you figure it out. Simply place the bag under the shower head, and allow it to run for a timed period. The markings on the bag will show you the flow rate of your fixture. From there, you can calculate the gallons of water per shower, and decide what fixture changes are necessary.

 

showertimers

If you already know how many gallons of water per minute(GPM) your showerhead uses, a shower timer will help you keep track of the amount of time being spent in the shower. The timer is easily placed on the shower wall. From here, you can watch your shower use in 5-minute intervals. Once you know how long you have been in the shower, calculating overall shower water usage is fairly simple. As an example, let’s use a 1.5 gpm shower head for a family of four in which each person takes one 10-minute shower every day.

  1. Multiply the amount of water coming out of the shower every minute by the amount of minutes that one person spends showering to figure out shower water usage per shower: 1.5 x 10 = 15
  2. Multiply that number by the amount of people showering to see how much shower water is used every day: 15 x 4 = 60
  3. Multiply this by 7 (the amount of days in a week) to calculate weekly usage: 60 x 7 = 420
  4. Multiply weekly use by 52 (number of weeks in a year) to get annual shower water usage.

The chart below shows the amount of water being used by other shower heads.

Shower Water Usage

Saving water in the shower starts with knowing how many gallons of water per shower are being used. Having this knowledge allows you to then change (whether in amount of time spent showering, or the fixture itself) shower water usage at home.

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