Archive for the ‘Energy Efficiency’ Category

Give Twice with These Energy Efficient Gifts!

Wednesday, November 25th, 2015

Give Twice with These Energy Efficient Gifts! | Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry TwynamGift-giving season is nearly upon us in Spruce Grove, Stony Plain, Parkland County and the Edmonton region. Saving energy and helping the environment are good no matter what season it is. If you prefer giving gifts that are useful and practical, you’re sure to find something to please on this list of energy efficient gifts. And your gift will help the recipient to use less energy and save money too.

For the home improvement fanatic:

  • LED or CFL lights
    Bulbs, lamps, reading lights
  • Home energy monitor, such as the Kill-a-Watt monitor available from Amazon.ca
    Allows the user to track the amount of electricity being consumed by various devices.
  • Faucet aerators and low-flow showerheads
  • Programmable thermostat
  • Window insulating kit
  • Plugs for unused electrical outlets
    Did you know that up to 20% of air leakage from your home can occur through outlets?
  • Ceiling fans
    Keep your home warmer in winter, cooler in summer and help with humidity all year round.

For the home cook and bottle washer:

  • Pressure cooker
    This old-fashioned pot uses up to 70% less energy than traditional cooking and cooks food faster too.
  • Tea towels
    Who says everything has to be washed in the dishwasher!
  • Cold water laundry detergent
    Single-use packs make a good stocking stuffer gift.
  • Energy Star rated appliances of all kinds

For the device geek:

  • Power bar
    These come with all sorts of innovations, such as integrated timer, auto shutoff, and special sockets for charging mobile devices
  • Solar-powered cell phone and battery chargers
  • Solar backpack
    Looks like a regular student backpack but can charge electronic devices. (Check out this one called the SolarGoPack from Amazon.)

For the survival dude:

  • Battery powered radio in case of power outages
  • LED flashlight
    Or how about this hand-crank flashlight from Ikea?  Great gift for kids too.
  • Portable solar panel kit
    The GoalZero Guide 10 Adventure Kit allows you to charge all sorts of things, such as USB powered devices, phones, tablets, flashlight batteries, and emergency radios.

Do you have more ideas to add to this list? Call or text me at 780-910-9669, email me at barry@barryt.ca, or contact me here.

Winter Energy Saving Tips for Your Spruce Grove Home

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2014

Winter Energy Saving Tips for Your Spruce Grove Home | Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry Twynam

For most of us in Spruce Grove, Stony Plain, Parkland County and the Edmonton region, winter means a spike in our power and gas bills as we use more energy to heat and light our homes. Check out the tips below to save some money and help the planet.

 

Save Power

  • Install timers and power-saver cords for automobile block heaters and interior car heaters.
  • Adjust lighting timers as daylight hours decrease and then increase throughout the winter.
  • Incandescent light bulbs are being phased out this year. Replace them now with the newer more energy-efficient CFL and LED bulbs.
  • Yes, we need more light during the winter, but light up just the spaces you are using. Turn off the lights when you leave a room.
  • Run appliances at out-of-peak hours, such as late at night, and turn off everything when not in use.
  • Think low-tech solutions. For example, use a clothesline for drying some clothing items instead of your dryer. This has many advantages: saves power and money; better for many garments; adds moisture to your home.

Your Home Heating System

  • Get a qualified contractor to check the heating system to make sure it’s operating at optimum efficiency.
  • Check air supply vents and return air vents to make sure air is circulating freely. Keep furniture and appliances away from vents, and plan to have your furnace ducts professionally cleaned late in each summer.
  • Clean your furnace filter regularly – at least once per month – and replace every 3 months. Doing this can save you up to 5% on heating costs. Did you know you can install a special alarm on your furnace that will let you know when it is time to change your filter? These alarms will make a whistling sound when they sense that the filters are dirty.
  • Turn down the thermostat at night and during the day when you are away by up to 4 degrees C. Every 1 degree C. set back can save up to 2% in energy costs!
  • Keep that thermostat turned down a degree or two and bring out the sweaters and blankets.
  • Consider installing a programmable thermostat to make those set-backs automatic.
  • The new high-efficiency furnaces can save mega bucks! But if you’re not ready to replace your furnace, at least consider a tune-up which can save 3-10% on your heating bill.
  • Avoid heating uninsulated spaces such as the garage or cold storage room. Check doors leading to these spaces and replace with insulated doors if necessary.
  • Close doors and air supply registers in unused rooms.
  • Reverse your ceiling fans in winter to circulate warm air down.
  • Take advantage of whatever natural heat there may be by opening draperies during the day on south-facing windows and closing them at night.

Keep the Heat in Your Home

  • Have your home’s insulation assessed to determine if you need to add to it. Proper insulation will save money in heating costs during the winter and keep your home cooler in summer. DIY tip: Measure the thickness of your attic insulation. If there is less than R-22 (7 inches of fibreglass or rock wool or 6 inches of cellulose) you’ll benefit by adding more. Also, consider installing some roof vents and inlets to improve ventilation.
  • Look for dirty spots in your insulation. These may be signs of air leaks which can be repaired by stapling sheets of plastic over the holes and caulking the edge of the plastic.
  • Place clear plastic sheeting on your windows sometime in the fall to keep out the cold air and prevent warm air from escaping for very little cost. Use weather stripping on doors and windows and seals on exterior wall outlets. Put caulking on window and door frames, and seal around vents and cable or wire wall entries.
  • Did you replace your carpets with laminate and hardwood and now the floors are cold? Oops. Put down an area rug to add a little warmth and cut down on noise.
  • If you have a fireplace, make sure the damper is closed when the fireplace is not in use to prevent warm inside air from escaping up the chimney. Check the seal on the flue damper and make it good and tight. Tempered glass doors and a heat-air exchange system that blows warm air into the room will also help preserve the warmth.
  • Not exactly insulation, but something else to warm up your home. Moist air is warmer than dry air so add humidity to your home with portable humidifiers or an attachment to your heating system, as well as an aquarium and houseplants.
  • Keep the doors (interior and exterior) to your attached garage closed as much as possible. This keeps your garage warmer and also lets less cold air into the house.
  • If you have an unfinished basement, heat could be escaping along the joist cavities. Insulate the walls for major savings in money and comfort.
  • Even though window blinds and shutters are more fashionable at the moment, quilted curtains and insulated draperies keep your home warmer.
  • Plant some trees in your yard in the spring! Besides beautifying your yard, they’ll protect your home from winter wind and summer sun, as well as helping the environment by absorbing carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen.

Want even more tips on this topic? Read my previous blog article “Winter Isn’t for Wimps!

Looking for a great energy-efficient home? Call or text me at 780-910-9669, email me at barry@barryt.ca, or contact me here.

 

Three Home Automation Technologies That Will Increase the Resale Value of Your Edmonton Area House

Friday, June 20th, 2014

Three Home Automation Technologies That Will Increase the Resale Value of Your Edmonton Area House | Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry TwynamIf you’re in the process of listing your Spruce Grove real estate, Parkland County real estate, Stony Plain real estate or other Edmonton real estate for sale, it is important to make property improvements that buyers are looking for and that will increase resale value. There is nothing worse than making a home modification or a property upgrade that will not offer you any return on your investment in the form of a larger offer. Some of the more popular upgrades to consider when you want a return involve modern home automation. Here are three home automation technologies that will bring your home into the 21st century while attracting buyers.

Appeal to a Buyer’s Desire for Safety with a Home Automation Security System

Home buyers who are looking to buy highly valued Parkland County acreages or other Edmonton acreages want to know that they will be safe and secure on their property. When you are selling a property, it is all about appealing to the buyer’s emotions, and all buyers want comfort and safety. The first home automation system all sellers should consider installing in their home is a security system. With the right home automation monitoring equipment, including alarms and security cameras, you can give all buyers setting foot on the property a feeling of relief as you show them how you can control, arm, disarm and view the property from a remote device installed with the home automation app.

More Dramatic and Efficient Lighting Systems

Selling your home or your acreage is all about making that first impression. Not only does your property need curb appeal, it needs to appeal to the growing market of energy efficient buyers that exists today. Home automation lighting systems are becoming the new craze, and these systems will offer you a return in two very different ways. The dramatic lighting dimming effects that you can dress your home with will set a mood to capture attention, and the energy efficient qualities of the system will reinforce just how great the home automation technology is.

Decluttering The Property With Whole Home Entertainment

More and more households are ditching the wires and the clutter of electronics and remote controls that once lined cabinets and cluttered tabletops. Cables have become eyesores and speakers needed in every room have become an unnecessary expense. If you are targeting a tech-savvy buyer who wants a whole-home automation entertainment system that allows them to ditch the wires and all of those remotes, this is a technology to add to your home. The speakers will be hidden in your ceiling, screens will be cleverly mounted, and buyers will pay attention to your tech-savvy listing.

Every seller wants to set a sales record and get the best offer on their home. To make this happen, you need to choose to invest in upgrades and updates that will bring your dated property into the 21st century while still ensuring it has character.

If you need help deciding which updates are best, I am always willing to help answer any home-related questions that you might have.  Call or text me at 780-910-9669, email me at barry@barryt.ca, or contact me here.

5 Easy Ways to Cut Your Heating Bill This Winter

Friday, February 21st, 2014

5 Easy Ways to Cut Your Heating Bill This Winter | Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry TwynamWhen it comes to the winter season in Alberta, some definite certainties are snow, ice, and freezing cold temperatures. But just because it’s cold outside doesn’t mean it has to be cold inside. While the elements can make it more challenging to keep warm in a cost-effective way, there are things that homeowners in the Spruce Grove, Stony Plain, Parkland County and the Edmonton region can do to lessen the amount they pay to heat their homes. Here’s a list of five easy ways for homeowners to cut their heating bills this winter.

Install a Programmable Thermostat

Homeowners with Spruce Grove real estate or Stony Plain real estate—or consumers interested in the region—can help to lessen their home heating bills by heading over to their nearest home improvement store and picking up programmable thermostats. Once the thermostat is installed, homeowners will be able to program the units to bring the temperature down a few notches when their homes are unoccupied or when people are sleeping. By keeping things nice and toasty only when homes are occupied, homeowners can take a little bit of the sting out of their next home heating bill.

Get a Furnace Tune-up

An annual furnace tune-up performed by a certified professional will keep furnaces working optimally. When furnaces are working properly and efficiently, the end result will be savings on the home heating front for homeowners with Parkland County real estate. Routine maintenance will also lower the odds of system failure at the worst possible time.

Remember Furnace Filter Maintenance

Homeowners with Edmonton acreages should, in addition to having their furnaces professionally serviced, be sure to either replace or clean their furnace filters as per the frequency recommended in manuals that came with their units. Failing to do this will compromise the efficiency of the equipment and lead to higher heating bills. Some filters can be cleaned and reused while others need to be thrown out and replaced. It’s up to homeowners to determine which type they have.

Insulate Against the Cold

Improperly insulated homes will cost more to keep warm, since furnaces will have to work harder to compensate. Whether independently or with the help of contractors, homeowners with Edmonton real estate should insulate any areas requiring insulation. Key areas where heat can escape homes include attics, walls, and crawl spaces. Once their homes have been properly insulated, homeowners will find not only that their residences are cozier, but also that their heating bills are lower than usual.

Seal the Leaks

Homeowners with Parkland County acreages would probably be surprised to learn how much cold air can enter their residences through cracks and gaps. Fortunately, they can pick up some sealant solutions sold at home improvement stores to seal out the cold air. Areas to watch out for include doorways, window frames, and duct work.

Just because it’s cold outside doesn’t mean that homeowners have to settle for chilly climates inside their homes. Following the aforementioned tips will help to keep homes warm and reduce heating bills.

I am always willing to answer any home-related questions you might have! Call or text me at 780-910-9669, email me at barry@barryt.ca, or contact me here.

Shedding a Different Light

Friday, January 3rd, 2014

Shedding a Different Light | Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry TwynamHow many incandescent light bulbs are in your home in Spruce Grove, Stony Plain, Parkland County or the Edmonton area?  This isn’t an idle question, or the beginning of a dumb joke, although the ban on incandescent bulbs that went into effect in Canada on January 1, 2014 may seem like a bad joke to some.

In case you missed it, as of January 1, old-fashioned light bulbs in their 75- and 100-watt formats are history in Canada.  You can still buy them until the old stock runs out but no more will be manufactured.  By the end of 2014 the ban will be extended to include the 40- and 60-watt versions.

There are plenty of people who are unhappy about this.  They point out that the incandescent bulb provides a soft warm dimmable light that alternatives such as compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) and LEDs can’t match.  They also note that CFLs and especially LEDs are much more expensive to buy.  And CFLs, because they contain mercury, must be disposed of in special facilities, a fact that many people using them may not be aware of.  In addition, CFLs may not work in temperatures less than minus 10 degrees Celsius.  Their lifespan can be significantly reduced if they are turned on and off rapidly, and they have a rare but nasty habit of catching on fire or smoking.

So why the ban on incandescent bulbs?  It’s all about saving the environment.  “In Canada alone, the federal government estimates that CFLs can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than six million tonnes a year, or the equivalent of retiring 1.4 million vehicles. In Germany, the switch to energy-efficient bulbs will save the equivalent capacity of three nuclear reactors.”  (From an article in The Globe and Mail, Dec 27, 2012, entitled “The death of the incandescent light bulb”)

***Check out this great chart comparing the costs, energy efficiencies, environmental impact, advantages and disadvantages of incandescent bulbs vs. CFLs vs. LEDs. ***

More light facts:

  • Roughly 90% of the energy used to operate an incandescent bulb dissipates as heat rather than being used to provide light.  (Chicken farmers note that this is actually an advantage in the spring when they are raising baby chicks in a chilly chicken coop!)
  • The average life of an incandescent bulb is about 750 to 1000 hours, compared to 6,000 to 15,000 hours for a CFL (“Incandescent light bulb ban starts Jan. 1”)
  • Cost to buy:  incandescent bulbs 60 to 80 cents apiece; halogen bulbs around $2 each; CFLs $2.50 to $4; LEDs about $20 per bulb.  (The possibility exists that prices for the newer bulbs, especially LEDs, will decrease once incandescent bulbs are no longer being manufactured.)
  • Some incandescent bulbs will be exempt from the ban.  These include lights such as those in ovens and refrigerators that can’t be replaced with alternatives.
  • Manufacturers are working on improving the quality of the light in energy-efficient  bulbs.  “Light-emitting diodes, or LEDs, are the next big thing; global lighting company Osram Sylvania, for one, believes it has a winner with its “Ultra LED,” an omnidirectional mercury-free bulb that aims to give all the warmth of a 100-watt incandescent bulb while using just 20 watts of electricity.”  (“The death of the incandescent light bulb”, The Globe and Mail)

Maybe you’ve already made a trip to your local hardware store to buy up remaining stocks of incandescent bulbs, or maybe you’ve decided to give in to the inevitable.  At least we can still buy candles if we want soft warm light with a bit of heat!

What do you think of the ban on incandescent bulbs?  Have you already replaced all your bulbs with the energy-efficient ones?  Your comments and questions are always welcome.  Call or text me at 780-910-9669, email me at barry@barryt.ca, or contact me here.

 

Save Energy and Money in Your Home

Wednesday, February 8th, 2012

Save Energy and Money in Your Home | Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry TwynamHow energy-efficient is your Spruce Grove, Stony Plain, Parkland County or Edmonton area home?  Chances are that no matter how well your home is doing, there’s still room for improvement, and that’s true even if you’ve taken advantage of government programs and grants to upgrade such things as the insulation, windows, heating system and the like in your home.

“Make your home an energy fortress”, published January 28, 2012 in the Edmonton Journal asks:  “where exactly should you invest when it comes to ramping up your home’s energy efficiency?”

The article quotes Christopher Straka from Ottawa’s Vert Design, a firm that deals with residential and commercial planning, design and development:   “Every home has its own energy strengths and weaknesses … based on age, construction and other factors. Only an energy audit, which you’ll need to tap into federal grant programs for upgrades, can pinpoint your individual energy issues.  … your best bet is still tightening up the building’s envelope: caulking and weather stripping to reduce leakage, more insulation, and better windows and doors.”

Many of the other things we can do, the article’s author, Patrick Langston, tells us, have an initial cost, but this may be offset somewhat by government grants, and will pay off the longer we remain in our homes.  Don’t forget also that each of these improvements will increase the resale value and saleability of your home.  While it will cost about $1 per square foot of attic to upgrade insulation and plug air leaks, doing so can save $400+ per year.  Spend $3000 to $6000 on a new high-efficiency furnace, and expect to save $500+ annually in heating costs.  Switch to a tankless hot water heater at a cost of about $3000, and save $150 per year.  Read the whole article for other upgrades that will save energy and money.

Planning to retrofit your home or buy a resale home?  Check out fact sheets available at the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation website that recommend upgrades for 11 housing types in 5 regions of Canada.

Also included in the article are notes on exciting new technologies that promise to do even more for the energy misers among us.  The article concludes with a reminder about the many gadgets most of us can’t live without that gobble up energy, and suggests ways we can reduce our dependence on these energy thieves.  Check out the full article.

Looking for a new more energy-efficient home?  Give me a call at 780-910-9669, email me at barry@barryt.ca, or contact me here.

Fire That Old Furnace!

Monday, November 14th, 2011

Fire That Old Furnace! | Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry TwynamMost of us don’t give much thought to the furnaces in our Spruce Grove, Stony Plain or Parkland County homes, as long as they keep us warm through the long Alberta winters.  An article in the October 29, 2011 edition of the Edmonton Journal, entitled “A new furnace can save money, and lives”, might just give you reasons to replace the old workhorse in your basement.

The article points out that, while the initial cost of the newer high-efficiency furnaces is a little steep [expect to pay around $5000 for the purchase and installation of a new, high quality furnace], you’ll save plenty of money over time.  A quote from the article:

“Natural gas prices have more than tripled in the past 10 years and many analysts are forecasting further price increases. Fortunately, the efficiency ratings of new furnaces have also been increasing. Most furnaces installed in the 1970s, ’80s and early ’90s, were only 60-to 70-per-cent efficient, and very old furnaces can be less than 50-per-cent efficient. A continuously burning pilot light can decrease these efficiencies by another five per cent. New furnaces are 90-to 95-per-cent efficient. They do not have pilot lights and can reduce your heating costs by up to 40 per cent.”

But it’s not just money you’ll be saving.  Older furnaces are not very good at filtering dust and allergens from the air in your home.  What’s more, older furnaces can emit dangerous levels of carbon monoxide within your home.

My assistant recently replaced the furnace in her 30-year-old Spruce Grove home and had this to say about the experience:  “We knew it was time.  We’d been reading and hearing a lot about how much better the new furnaces were.  Our old one was still pumping out the heat, with no trouble, really, but we knew it couldn’t go on forever.  What surprised us was how much better the air circulated through the house with the new furnace – far fewer cold spots.  We used to have to wrap up in blankets for TV watching in our basement family room, or turn on the gas fireplace, but no more!  The basement is as cozy as the rest of the house.  But what really sold us on the new furnace was something we weren’t expecting at all.  Our son always gets stuffed up and sneezy when he comes to visit because he’s allergic to cats, but the new furnace has taken all of that away.  Now, that’s impressive, and definitely made us happy about our purchase!”

It’s not too late to replace your old furnace before the really nasty winter weather hits.  Learn more about the benefits of the new high-efficiency furnaces by checking out “A new furnace can save money, and lives”.

Comments or questions about this article?  Call me at 780-910-9669, email me at barry@barryt.ca or contact me here.

 

 

Barry Twynam, Realty Executives Leading
#1 14 McLeod Avenue, Spruce Grove, Alberta, T7X 3X3
Tel: 780-962-9696 Cell: 780-910-9669 Fax: 780-962-9699
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