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Category “Going Green with Jodi”

October-Energy Awareness Month

Wednesday, 28 October, 2009

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Wow! This month has been a whirlwind! With it being Energy Awareness Month, I got the great opportunity to help spread the word on how home owners can save energy for their homes and save money in the process…and who doesn’t want to save money!!

On October 15th, I traveled to Washington DC to take part in a panel discussion for the American Chemistry Council. Their campaign, Plastics Make It Possible, highlighted some of the technological advances in building products that really help the consumer reduce their energy use. Products like PEX piping, SIPs (Structural Insulated Panels), house wraps, and spray foams can dramatically reduce outside air infiltration into your home…and what stops air getting in will stop air from leaking out! Check out the panel discussion and coverage of the Solar Decathlon by clicking on the Plastics Make It Possible link above.

I also traveled to Nashville this month to promote the Cash for Clunkers 2 program being offered by the Federal government. In this program, homeowners are offered a tax credit if they implement certain types of building materials and products in their homes to make them more energy efficient. Products like certain types of insulated windows, roofing shingles, and insulation can qualify your home for the tax credit. In fact there are certain types of appliance systems that qualify as well…an upgraded water heating system or a more energy efficient HVAC system can earn you up to a $1500 tax credit from the Feds.

Also, your particular state may also be offering rebates on certain appliances that you purchase for more energy efficiency…things like washers and dryers, water heaters, dish washers, certain types of stoves…go to energystar.gov and find your state to see what rebates are available. You may even qualify for an additional rebate from the manufacturer or the retailer where you purchase your new appliance. This is all part of a $300 million dollar stimulus package offered to help stimulate the economy, aid in the reduction of green house gases and give consumers a break if they were thinking of upgrading some things around their homes. So, it’s a win-win-win for everyone!


Energy Audit for Your Home

Wednesday, 22 October, 2008

Now the weather has turned cool and well, down right cold at night, it’s time to assess your home and see just how energy effecient it really is.  The best and more reliable way to do this is by doing an energy audit.  Now I know the word “audit” can send chills down anyones spine, but an ENERGY audit is a GOOD audit and one that you can do in less than an hour.

So, how much of that warm air (or cold air in the summer) is escaping from your doors, windows, appliance vents, and duct work? Just by sealing around exterior doors and windows can reduce your monthly bill by as much as 20%! Now that’s a lot of dough! While you’re at it, check to make sure there aren’t any drafts coming from the gaps in your interior trim around your doors and windows. If you can feel the cold, then chances are it’s not properly insulated.  My best advice is to score the caulking with a utility knife and gently pry away the trim to expose the rough opening.  Then you can really see how the cold air is coming in and your warm air is going out! Using the correct insulation for windows, like an easy to use spray foam, will do just the trick. Just make you don’t use more than recommended by the manufacturer or you could bow the sides of your windows and thus, rendering your windows inoperable.

Another place to check for air escaping your house is in the attic.  Check around the duct work and vents that are either on your roof or on the upper side of your house…insulating them and sealing the vent joints with duct tape is just as important as insulating your ceilings and floors! And inspect your existing insulation while you’re up there…has it become compacted from holiday decorations sitting on it all year? Insulation that is flattened or crushed is as bad as no insulation at all. 

How about under your kitchen or bathroom sinks?  Do you have a big, gaping hole in the cabinet underneath where the drain passes through the floor? Well, plug it up! Just make sure if you use a foam insulation that is designed for minimal expansion so you won’t crack your pipe.

Here are some good tips to ensure that your house is energy efficient this winter:

1:  Try using compact flourescent light bulbs instead of incandescent ones. I know you are probably tired of hearing about how great they are…but they really are! They use 75%, that’s 75% less energy and they last 10X longer…need I say more?

2:  Think about installing a ceiling fan in rooms that you and your family hang out in the most.  By moving the warm air in the room around, ( make sure it is going in the “winter” direction which is clockwise on lower speeds this winter and “summer” direction next spring which is counter clockwise on higher speeds) you can better control the temperature in the room which leads to the less likelihood of have to adjust your thermostat, which can save you more energy.

3:  Change out that old, dusty air filter in your heating and cooling unit or units.  I like to use the big, thick ones which will also catch more allergens in the air as it recycles through your house…having two huge Labrador dogs kinda makes that a no-brain-er for our house!

4:  If it’s time for an appliance update, make sure it has the ENERGY STAR sticker on it.  Nowdays, you’d be hardpressed to find an appliance that doesn’t have one…but if they are out there, consider paying a bit more to get that savings in the long run because appliances to account for up to 25% of your household energy consumption.

5:  And last, but not least, if you are at that place where you are ready to really make that switch and save some money…then a tankless water heater is the best bet.  I installed two in my house and having hot water on demand without demanding the energy to keep it hot, It is well worth the investment. Plus, I get a tax break on it one every year I do my taxes! *Be sure to check with your accountant for the tax codes in your state*


Rhapsody Cove at Rock Creek, A Conservation Community!

Friday, 14 December, 2007

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I had the great pleasure this fall to meet two amazing gentlemen while in the Chicago area for a home show. Mark Johnson and Bill Bonner introduced me to their brainchild, Rhapsody Cove , near the Kankakee River State Park.

What these two men visualized was giving homeowners a new option for living…a conservation community that existed with nature, “Our primary goal is to build a rural estate community that promotes the preservation of land, where man and nature co-exist in harmony,” say Johnson.

Currently in development, Rhapsody Cove will house 20 acres of protected wetlands, a 17 acre family park, 5 miles of recreational trails, and 6 fishing lakes while also protecting 100% of the mature high quality trees in the area. Only about 107 home-sites will be available that each cover an acre or more.

Personally what impresses me the most is that Mark and Bill are very passionate in not stripping the land in order to squeeze as many houses as they can on each tract of land…they want to provide a “state park” feel so homeowners aren’t just living in a subdivision, they are living in truly a nature-oriented community. “What’s funny is that one of our more expensive lots was bought by another residential developer!” says Johnson, “We’re excited about creating the best living community around and we hope we can inspire other developers and builders to do the same.”