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Tag Archives: energy efficiency

The Benefits of a Variable-Speed Air Conditioner

If the cost of running your air conditioner is getting out of hand, consider replacing it with a more efficient, variable-speed unit. Photo: AIS Heating & Air Conditioning (2017)

Imagine if your car only drove at one speed, regardless of whether you were in town or on the freeway, or if your stereo only had a single volume setting that couldn’t be adjusted. Sounds awful, right? Well, when it comes to your air conditioner, you may be dealing with an equivalent situation. In fact, the air conditioners found in many Bay Area homes only have one setting: full blast. Not surprisingly, these relics of cooling technology aren’t exactly the epitome of energy efficiency.

Fortunately, there’s a better option available: the variable-speed air conditioner. Unlike its single-speed predecessors, a variable-speed unit is able to incrementally adjust its power output in conjunction with changing climate conditions—and that’s just the beginning. Here are a few of the benefits a variable-speed air conditioner has to offer: Continue reading “The Benefits of a Variable-Speed Air Conditioner” »

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Video: Energy-Efficient Attic Improvements

Earlier this week, we posted an article featuring expert tips on maximizing home insulation. One of the aspects mentioned was eliminating heat loss by improving attic air sealing and insulation. To learn more about what this entails, watch this informative video by Diamond Certified Expert Contributor Greg Sutliff of Alcal Specialty Contracting, Inc.

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Swim ‘n’ Save: How to Splash the Cost of Running Your Pool

save-energy-swimming-pool

Swimming pools may be notorious energy guzzlers, but there are plenty of ways for pool owners to decrease their summertime power bills. Photo: Royal Pools of Santa Clara, Inc. (2016)

While children anxiously await the coming of summer, there are others who are less enthusiastic about it—and no, we’re not just talking about their parents. Motorists, for example, know all too well the “pain at the pump” that sets in as gas prices make their seasonal ascent. Likewise, if you’re a swimming pool owner, you experience a similar summertime phenomenon—only, instead of the fuel pump, your pool pump is the source of pain. Let’s face it: swimming pools are enjoyable, but they aren’t cheap to maintain. In fact, it’s been estimated that homes with swimming pools use almost 50 percent more electricity than those without. Continue reading “Swim ‘n’ Save: How to Splash the Cost of Running Your Pool” »

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The Hidden Workhorses: 5 Green Products You Should be Using in Your Home Remodel

Install LED lighting to take advantage of energy savings and recent improvements in quality and warmth. Photo: BR Electric, 1016

Install LED lighting to take advantage of energy savings and recent improvements in appearance. Photo: BR Electric, 2016

Ready to remodel and interested in sustainability? Of course, you should implement well-known Green building solutions such as using sustainable countertop materials and energy-efficient appliances. But according to Don Knapp, a spokesperson for Build it Green, there are many lesser-known Green materials you can utilize to make your remodeling project more environmentally-friendly. Continue reading “The Hidden Workhorses: 5 Green Products You Should be Using in Your Home Remodel” »

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Posted in Consumers, Green Building, Home Tips, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Green Building: Eight Ways to Make Your Home Improvement Project Environmentally-Friendly

Last fall, we published a long piece about how to make different types of Bay Area homes more energy efficient (download the free e-book here). This month, we’ve distilled the wisdom offered in that post and added a few more Green tips in honor of March, the greenest of months. Enjoy!

Green building

Go green! This month, take steps to make your home remodeling project eco-friendly. Photo: Reilly Designs, 2016

1. Implement a whole-house solution
Richard Hiteshew of A-1 Guaranteed Heating & Air, Inc. says people who want to “Green up” their homes should “reduce before they produce.” Continue reading “Green Building: Eight Ways to Make Your Home Improvement Project Environmentally-Friendly” »

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Posted in Consumers, Home improvement, Home Tips, Landscaping Tips, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , ,

Home, Smart Home: Integration, Automation and the Future of Domestic Living

As the “smart home” movement continues to build momentum, more Bay Area homeowners are considering the benefits of home automation. Photo: Lavish Theaters (2016)

As the “smart home” movement continues to build momentum, more Bay Area homeowners are considering the benefits of home automation. Photo: Lavish Theaters (2016)

Thirty years ago, if you conducted a survey about what technological advancements people expected to see in 2016, answers would have likely included flying cars, computer-controlled homes and colonization of other planets. Well…at least one of these futuristic forecasts has come to pass: home automation. The “smart home” is here, and it’s revolutionizing the mode of modern domestic life.

But what exactly is a smart home? According to Micah Brown, owner of Avid Home Theater, a smart home is defined by two key terms: integration (multiple systems are tied together into a single control system) and automation (the systems are programmed to function autonomously of the user). Continue reading “Home, Smart Home: Integration, Automation and the Future of Domestic Living” »

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Cool Tips for a More Efficient Refrigerator

You may not realize it, but your refrigerator might be consuming far more energy than normal. Photo: Earl Farnsworth Express (2015)

You may not realize it, but your refrigerator might be consuming far more energy than normal. Photo: Earl Farnsworth Express (2015)

Most people assume their refrigerators are working fine as long as they don’t notice any obvious problems, but few realize they’re paying far more than necessary to keep their food fresh. The reality is that an inefficient refrigerator can consume up to three times the amount of power used by a properly functioning unit, often without anyone noticing. That’s why it’s a good idea to periodically inspect your refrigerator and address any issues that may be causing energy loss.

The first thing you should check is the condenser coils, which, depending on your refrigerator’s design, will be located on the back or across the bottom front. When these coils are dirty or otherwise obstructed, it inhibits efficient operation and requires the unit to work harder to maintain the desired temperature. In addition to making sure there’s adequate room to facilitate proper air flow, you should clean your coils at least once a year. Continue reading “Cool Tips for a More Efficient Refrigerator” »

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Residential Solar Power: The Basics

With California experiencing one of the worst droughts in recorded history, it’s a great time to explore converting to solar. Not only can solar power help put the brakes on climate change, it’s also one of the least “thirsty” methods of generating electricity. According to Diamond Certified solar company Sungevity, coal-fired power plants require 100 to 1,000 gallons of water to generate one megawatt-hour of electricity. Solar, by comparison, requires zero gallons of water to produce the same amount of electricity (more details). With this in mind, we’re re-posting this timely article on how to get started with a  residential solar power system.

Solar panels are low maintenance.

Keeping your solar panels in good shape is actually relatively simple. Photo: Synapse Electric, 2015

People have many reasons for switching to solar power, from rising electricity consumption and energy costs to growing concerns about the environment. Regardless of why you want to install a solar system on your residential or commercial property, there are numerous factors to consider before making a final decision. To ensure you’re as knowledgeable as possible when going through the process, consider the following tips and information:

Continue reading “Residential Solar Power: The Basics” »

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5 Overlooked Aspects of Home Energy Efficiency

While making upgrades can enhance your home’s energy efficiency, it can be counterproductive if your existing appliances and systems aren’t operating at peak performance. To help consumers identify key problem areas, we asked five Diamond Certified Experts to weigh in on some of the most basic yet overlooked aspects of home energy efficiency.

Photo: D. Cook Construction (2014)

To maximize your home’s energy efficiency, it’s important to address commonly overlooked details. Photo: D. Cook Construction (2014)

1. Air sealing – Dustin Cook of D. Cook Construction
Air transmission is a major cause of home energy loss—it’s typically conducted through cracks, joints, and other gaps between the interior and exterior of a home. A simple way to address this is to fill in breaches with supplemental sealing agents like caulk and expansive foams. Continue reading “5 Overlooked Aspects of Home Energy Efficiency” »

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The Benefits of Adding Insulation to Interior Walls

Adding insulation to interior walls can go a long way toward improving in-home comfort and energy efficiency. Photo: Rogers Remodel Inc. (2014).

Adding insulation to interior walls can go a long way toward improving in-home comfort and energy efficiency. Photo: Rogers Remodel Inc. (2014).

While insulating exterior walls is standard procedure in residential construction, this isn’t always the case with a home’s interior walls. Actually, many homebuilders neglect to insulate interior walls altogether, which often results in second-rate efficiency and poor soundproofing. For this reason, adding insulation to interior walls can be an inexpensive yet effective way to improve both the comfort and energy efficiency of your home. Continue reading “The Benefits of Adding Insulation to Interior Walls” »

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