Window Coverings: 3 Ways to Lower Your Air Conditioning Cost
Date: Apr 2nd, 2009 9:40:31 pm - Subscribe
Mood: rambunctious

If you live in a sunny climate, even if only just during part of the year, you can increase the comfort of your home and, if you pay for air conditioning, you can decrease your cooling cost by using smart window treatments on the west and south facing windows. By keeping the sun's heat out of the house by properly shading these windows, not only will your living spaces be more comfortable but you will also be more energy efficient.

There are a number of different things you can do to improve the solar protection on windows including . When shopping for sun protection products check to see if they indicate the "shading coefficient" of the product. The shading coefficient is a measurement of the percentage of solar energy that is let through by the product compared with a regular pane of glass. SC is a number between 0 and 1. The lower the SC of the product the better.

Solar screens are a cheap and very effective means of cutting down the amount of solar energy entering through the windows. They are made of an aluminum frame with fabric stretched over it. You can purchase them or build them on your own. If you purchase them they should cost under $75 per one. Or you can buy the materials, and assemble and install the screens yourself for less than $20 per unit. Solar screens are installed on the exterior of the windows. They are effective at blocking the sun but have the disadvantage of interfering with the view from the window. If you want to keep an obstructed view from the windows, you might consider another option.

Similar to the familiar films in cars, reflective films can block as much as 70% of incoming solar heat while only reducing light infiltration by only 30%or so. They have the additional benefit of keeping the heat inside the house in the winter. Reflective films are not easy to apply, so you will most likely want a professional to do this for you. Make sure that you get a contractor you can trust with the job. Do your research and check with their references.

Roller shades are another cost effective means of blocking the sun's heat is the use of roller shades. They are easy to put in and roll up when not needed. Roller shades can preserve views while reflecting heat. They can be installed on the interior or exterior of the home. Windows that have large overhangs such as wide eaves are good windows for exterior roller shades. If your south facing windows have large overhangs, consider installing the shades on the bottom part. Large overhangs are effective in shading the upper portions of the windows so you'll need the most shading at the bottom of the window. By installing them at the bottom, you can extend them to the height needed to shade the lower part of the window, leaving a good view from the upper part of the window.

By using these low cost techniques, you can significantly cool down your warmest rooms, which reduces some of the workload for your air conditioner. When combined with a the use of a digital programmable thermostat, window treatments can make an impressive impact on your cooling costs. If you are a "do-it-yourself" person, the payback on these investments can be very short.

The opinion expressed in this article is the opinion of the writer. For another view on real estate topics, Here is another view.
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Who is the Real Landlord
Date: Mar 31st, 2009 10:13:01 pm - Subscribe
Mood: overwhelmed

Everyone and their dog these days is hearing about how good an idea it is to do stuff for the environment. We all know about Global Warming and Al Gore's crusade to inform the whole world that we're slowly destroying ourselves. The real question is, if you're not a scientist, and you're not an environmentalist, what can you do to save the environment? Well, the old answer was thought to be "plant trees," but now we know that doesn't really work. I can tell you from my personal experience that renting instead of owning is the best way to reduce your carbon footprint and start living green.
Most people think of owning a home as the pinnacle of the American dream; the massive accumulation of property all leads up to it. But consider also that every house built is more land taken up by one individual. Look at India or China--some areas of these countries are so congested, they couldn't imagine one person owning a house. We're not to that state yet here in America, but isn't the real American dream that we might be some day? We want to be a flourishing nation, but there's an environmental cost to that, too. Some people may say that America is too big, that there's too much land mass, we'd never run out. But realistically speaking, China and India are enormous. We have mountain ranges running through our country just like they do. When our population is almost four times what it is now, won't many, many more people be looking for housing?
But why renting, you might ask, as opposed to just combined housing? Why not still build equity in the home while sharing the space with other people? And my point to this is that I'm staying in a rented house right now with three other people. The two don't have to be mutually exclusive. The less singularly owned property we have, the easier it is to adapt to the shared housing system. And this system is undeniably the way of the future. We're told that CO2 emissions are endangering our planet--humans exhale CO2. Does that mean we need to worry that our mere existence is going to bring about the end of the planet? Of course not. It just means that if we're not ready for the challenges we will inevitably face, we can't handle them effectively. Shared housing is going to be the way of the future for all nations. It's both an economic and an environmental philosophy. And rented housing is the safest, easiest, most green way to ensure we're ready for our future.
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It's not easy being green
Date: Mar 31st, 2009 10:11:28 pm - Subscribe
Mood: love

My husband and I live in China. I care about the environmental impact of our lives, especially since I see the effects of pollution quite clearly here. Most of the rivers stink and the air gets so bad in many cities that it is advisable to wear a mask or bandana over your nose and mouth when you go out. So what do we do to help out? One thing we were somewhat forced into was using reusable bags for grocery shopping. The government passed a law saying that plastic bags must not be free, and now we pay a small fee every time we need one. In order to avoid that, we usually bring a duffel bag and carry our groceries home in that. Also, we don't own a car. Public transportation over here is pretty good, so we are able to take a bus most places. If necessary we get a taxi, since they are cheap and plentiful. Currently we commute to work on our bikes, and we often walk short distances, especially if we are going to the park with our dog!
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Owning my own home - controlling how green it is.
Date: Mar 31st, 2009 10:10:54 pm - Subscribe
Mood: bubbly

I originally went down the route of purchasing rather than renting for two reasons. Firstly I felt it would enable me to move on up the property ladder and secondly the tax incentives for mortgage interest really make it sensible financially. Now though I have also managed to make owning my own home help the environment. I have a compost heap which reduces the amount of trash I throw out whilst providing me with great compost and I can't imagine a landlord allowing that. I am currently getting proposals to add solar panels to my roof, feeding that electricity back into the grid without any complexities of dealing with a landlord for this. I control the number of trees and plants, All this together means that owning my own home enables me to both understand and minimize my family's carbon footprint.
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No Cost Business (And Environmental) Savings
Date: Mar 31st, 2009 10:10:09 pm - Subscribe
Mood: smart

By Tamara Wilhite (Amazon Mturk Submitter)

In the current financial downturn, individuals are seeking ways to help the environment while businesses are looking for ways to save money that do not require money to accomplish. Is this possible to reduce both your costs and your environmental impact? Yes, it is, and here are a few ways:

1. Think before you print.
Can you write down the message on a pad of paper instead of printing a whole page and the electricity that uses? If you only need one page of a ten page document, print only that page, not all ten. Make copies as needed, not a large batch. If you need more, you can print more, but you'll be guaranteed not to have 50 copies and throw away 20 that were unused. Think before you print, and save a tree and the printer ink.
2. Turn it off.
Turn off lights, equipment, and computers when not in use. This saves electricity and money.
3. Know what you know, and share it.
Training, if done externally, can cost money. Do you have in house staff who are experts or gurus that everyone taps for advice? Have them do internal training sessions to share their knowledge, reduces travel costs, and can eliminate trips and gasoline usage.
4. Emailing it instead of snail-mailing it.
Consider whether information can be e-mailed instead of physically mailed, or if an email with a digital signature can be used in place of physical letters.

It may take money to make money, but simultaneously saving the environment and money can be free.
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