Author: Damien Cabral

USBGC’s Green Home Guide – Making Your Life Easier

It is difficult to comprehend this brave new world of “green building.” Who has the time to figure out what products to buy, what questions to ask, and who can install them? Not to mention the different certifications and local programs available to you….

Recently, the USBGC (a non-profit organization dedicated to sustainable building design and construction and developers of the LEED building rating system) created an online guide to help consumers with just this problem. The resource, the Green Home Guide, is broken into 4 major sections: Know How, Ask a Pro, Find a Pro, and Residential Programs. We will explore each of these sections in detail to get you acquainted with this great greening tool.
Know How
The Know How section of the website is filled with useful content. Informative guides describing how to choose the best green products are plentiful. The Selecting Green Paint article is a great example of . . .

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New Study: Solar Power is Now Cheaper than Nuclear

That&;s right! A new study, created by two Duke University researchers, claims solar power is now cheaper than nuclear power. The study was based in the North Carolina energy market (which is not considered a traditional “sun-rich” state).

What factors are contributing to this revelation?

Solar power generation is now cheaper than it has ever been and is projected to continue to fall in price. The abundance of silicon and other materials needed to produce solar panels continues to drive panel prices down. Additionally, panel manufacturers are beginning to achieve economies of scale as demand rises around the world.

Key Considerations

While solar power enjoys subsidies, Duke projects that the solar industry could enjoy unsubsidized cost efficiency, or grid parity, within the next decade. Additionally, nuclear power has enjoyed tax breaks and subsidies throughout it&;s history.
The study brought to light that commercial-scale solar companies are . . .

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Mow Your Lawn Once a Month with Pearl’s Premium Grass Seed

I was listening to NPR earlier this week and was instantly intrigued by a story on grass seed. I know this isn&;t usually a riveting subject, however, it is when you hear what Pearl&;s Premium Grass Seed can do. How would you like to have a lawn that needs little to no watering, minimal fertilizing, and only needs mowing once a month?

A few years back, Jackson Madnick, Founder Pearl’s Premium, set out to find a grass seed that left less of a negative impact on the environment. With the help of several grass scientists, Jackson created a patent pending seed mix that has r
evolutionized the lawn industry. The secret to Pearl&;s Premium is found in the seeds&; 12 inch root system. This deep root system allows the grass to reach deeper in . . .

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Why We Don’t Always Move Forward with Home Improvements

Everyone enjoys feeling proud of their home and protecting their investment. We take pleasure in having a green lawn, well manicured landscaping, and a fresh coat of paint. Is there any greater feeling than inviting your family and friends to your home and receiving a compliment like “You have done such a nice job with this house.” or “Your new windows look amazing.” With all these positive feelings, why don&;t we always move forward with the home improvements we would like?

Doing Nothing is Easier

Well yes, doing nothing is always easier, but doing nothing will not solve the problem or increase the value of your home. But we are Busy! Many of us do not want to deal with contacting multiple remodeling companies, getting quotes, selecting a contractor, and dealing with the mess of installation. Often, these tasks can be time . . .

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Energy Efficiency in Living Simply

Blog Author: Rebecca McKinnon

Do you ever wish you could just sell everything, pay off all of your debt and live a more simple life?  Well, you are not alone.  Over the past decade, the tiny house movement has taken off.  The elegant, clean and super organized living spaces of these homes are enough to inspire anyone to live the simple life.  Living in one of these tiny homes requires not only a change in lifestyle but the ability to live your life without excess.  And, to design one of these, takes ingenuity, meticulous planning, and passion.

The designers of these tiny homes are not only concerned with the most efficient and effective use of space and light but also the environment.  In some cases, the designers use recycled and sustainable materials to construct these works of art.  You don&;t even realize that . . .

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Really Cool Products Blog Series: #2 Power-Pipes and Contemporary Fixtures

For our second entry in the Really Cool Products Blog Series we venture into the bathroom.

Power-Pipe

Every time water goes down your drainpipe, energy is wasted. Power-Pipe attempts to recapture some of this lost energy. What in the world is a Power-Pipe? It consists of copper tubes wrapped around a copper drainpipe. The waste water from your shower or sink
flows down the copper drainpipe, clinging to the inner surface as a very thin film. At the same time, cold fresh water travels up through the wrapped copper tubes. The heat in the wastewater travels safely and efficiently through the copper and into the cold fresh water. This may be difficult to visualize so we provided you with a great video explaining the product below.

The Power-Pipe can save you up to 35% in your water-heating . . .

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Thatch is Back: The Reemergence of Thatched Roofs

That is right. Right now in England, thatched roofs are seeing a resurgence. Why you may ask? Thatched roofs have always been aesthetically pleasing but numerous concerns have limited their potential in the modern housing market. Some of these concerns included fire, insects, and expensive insurance. By marrying modern technologies, bug and fire retardant, with traditional thatching materials, the thatched roof is now a realistic solution for many homeowners. Because fire hazards have been reduced, insurance premiums have steeply declined. Additionally, thatchers today are better trained resulting in a higher quality build than you may have gotten years ago.

So why do people install thatched roofs? There is no better way to express it than straight from the homeowners:

“You get the wonderful snug feeling of a thatched cottage…” – Maureen Hind

“Outside noise is deadened in the upstairs rooms . . .

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Really Cool Products Blog Series: #1 Sophisticated Fireplaces

We thought it would be interesting to have an entire blog series dedicated to really cool products that we stumble upon, so here you go. Our first entry is focused on revolutionary fireplaces that are visually appealing and energy-efficient. The fireplaces below are anything but traditional. Be sure to take a good look at our collection of pictures!
Soapstone Fireplaces
Soapstone fireplaces are not all that common in Northeast homes. Did you know that soapstone holds twice as much heat per pound than iron or steel? This property enables soapstone fireplaces to slowly release radiant heat from the fireplace vs. heating the air directly. The results are a comfortable radiant heat that continues after the fireplace has been turned off. The heat can even be transferred through solid surfaces warming walls and adjacent rooms. . . .

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Lowe’s Invests $8MM in Energy-Efficient Startup Recurve

The economy has recovered and America is back on track…I know it doesn&;t feel like it yet but there are some early signs, like the venture capital money flowing again. A prime example occurred this week, when Lowe&;s Home Improvement injected $8 million of financing in a home energy efficiency start-up Recurve Inc.

This investment is historic in its nature because Lowe&;s has never invested in any other early-stage company. The synergies with this relationship are not too difficult to uncover. Currently, there are billions of dollars of government money waiting to be released with the potential passage of the Homestar Bill. Additionally, energy audits and the subsequent retrofits lead to the purchase of energy-efficient home improvement supplies – which Lowes carries. Lowe&;s can supply the exposure through in store displays to catapult Recurve into the big leagues while ensuring a steady . . .

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Become Closer to Nature with Tree Houses for Adults

Just when you think you think you have blogged about everything there is to blog about in home improvement, you stumble upon something else new and exciting. Today we
discovered tree houses for adults. BlueForest, and award winning sustainable construction firm, has been building everything from tree houses for children to tree house hotels.

Thinking of building your next home in the forest canopy? Well you will want to make sure the host tree is healthy and mature. Ideal trees include Oak and Beech. Worried about the trees long-term health? No Need! BlueForest sends a site surveyor out before one nail is hit to be sure the site will remain healthy and sustainable. They make sure to leave adequate space for the tree to grow and move naturally in the future. No trees on your building site? This isn’t a . . .

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