Archive for October, 2009

Oct 28 2009

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Energy Efficient Cooking in your New Home

House Plan 035H-0034When you built your new home, chances are you spent time researching the most energy efficient kitchen appliances before making your final choice. While selecting the most earth-friendly appliances is a huge step in the right direction when it comes to green living, there is still more you can do in the kitchen. Take a look at these “green” suggestions and see which ones you can incorporate into your kitchen and cooking routine.

 

·         If you have bright, sunny kitchen windows, pull back the curtains and prepare meals by natural light whenever possible. Only flip the switch on when necessary, but make sure to turn it off when you leave the room.

·         Unplug small appliances such as the toaster and coffee maker when not in use.

·         Consider no-waste baking. Buy a reusable, nonstick silicone baking mat to save on use of aluminum foil and parchment paper.

·         Avoid opening the oven while it is in use. Each time the oven door is opened, the temperature can drop as much as 25-50 degrees requiring more energy to warm it back up.

·         Place a lid on the pot when brining water to a boil to prevent heat and energy from escaping. Leaving the lid off extends cooking time and adds heat and moisture to the air making your air conditioner work harder throughout the summer months.

·         Make an effort to match pots and pans to the same size burner or heating element and center it on the flame or element to prevent heat from escaping.

·         Choose the right size pot or pan for the job. It takes more energy to heat a large pot or pan, so choose smaller ones when appropriate to save energy.

·         Whenever possible, use the same pot or pan for multiple foods.

·         Make smart decisions about running the dishwasher. Dishwashers are designed to get the dishes clean no matter how dirty they are or what was baked in them. There is no need to pre-rinse. Save the water instead. Also, only run the dishwasher when it is full, conserving water and energy. Skipping the drying cycle is a plus saving even more energy and keeping the kitchen cool.

·         Take advantage of the freezer. A full freezer uses less energy to cool than an empty one. Stock your freezer buying large quantities of meats and vegetables when they are on sale (saving you cash) and freeze them for future use (saving you a trip to the grocery store later.)

 

There are many other things you can do to make earth-friendly and energy efficient choices in the kitchen. Beginning with these tips will get you started down the right path.

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Oct 21 2009

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Stylish Garage Doors add Personality to your New Home

Filed under The Garage

Garage DoorsIf you are building a new house, chances are you’ve thought about every detail from siding and brick to carpeting and light fixtures making sure that all the elements of your new home reflect your personal tastes and lifestyle. But, have you thought about how the perfect style garage door will complement your home and lend further curb appeal? Just like window shutters and porch columns, garage doors add character to your home and contribute to the overall exterior appearance. So take some time to consider what type of garage door(s) will complement your home best.

 

Overhead garage doors come in a fabulous array of sizes, styles and colors ensuring you’ll find the just the right one to give your home a stylish look. They are can be made from several different materials including fiberglass, steel, vinyl and wood and are available with or without windows. You’ll find a wide variety of styles to choose from such as estate, carriage and traditional style doors at most home improvement stores and some online retailers such as Precision Garage Doors St. Louis. With just the right garage door, your new home is sure to catch the attention of any passer-by.

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Oct 15 2009

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Decorating Tips for Any Room

Filed under Home Decorating

House Plan 025H-0164Decorating all of the rooms in your new house can be a bit overwhelming. Should you start with a color scheme, a piece of artwork that you love or choose the furniture pieces first? With so many different decorating styles, themes and personal tastes, there really is no specific flow when it comes to decorating an entire room from start to finish. However, these decorating tips and ideas will help get you started.

 

·         If the room has a focal point such as a fireplace, flat screen TV or array of windows with a fantastic backyard view, start with the focal point. Determine the key pieces of furniture you will need and how you will arrange them to complement or take advantage of the focal point.

·         If the room does not have a focal point, you should start with the main furniture pieces you’ll need for the room. Consider each piece’s form and how you need it to function.

·         When picking out furniture, keep in mind that it will be a lot easier and less expensive to freshen up or update the room by swapping out accent pieces rather than buying all new furniture so you may want to choose furniture pieces that can mix and match with various styles.

·         Your furniture will set the style and mood of the room. The fabric, wood finishes and chrome/metal/glass accents will help you determine a color scheme.

·         If you have a particular accessory that you want to include in a room, the accessory may help determine what style of furniture you choose. A modern painting might lend itself to a black leather couch while an antique vase might lend itself to a pair of elegant armchairs with wooden legs. Maybe you have a brightly colored ceramic bowl that you’d like to display in the dining room. Look for a dining set that offers seat covers in a color that complements the bowl.

·         There is an endless supply of paint colors available to complement the fabric and wood finishes of your furniture, so think about your furniture style, colors and finishes when selecting paint.

·         There are no rules about what pieces of furniture should match in a room. This is truly personal preference. If you prefer your end tables match the coffee table and sofa table that is your choice. If you like how a skirted couch looks with a club chair put them in the room together. Often mix matched furniture pieces make a room look lively and inviting.

House Plan 035H-0034·         Be aware of the size of your room and the size of the furniture you choose. If you have a big room or an open floor plan with plenty of walking space, an overstuffed sofa might fit in well. However, is you have a small room, stay away from the stuffed couches and chairs. Instead, try to include a smaller loveseat with a streamlined look that shows off your tastes.

·         Give a room character with windows treatments. If you want a rich, lush and elegant look, long heavy drapes will do the trick. For a light and airy feel, white or pastel color sheers will be just the right touch.

·         Incorporate lighting. How many lamps do you need? Do you need a floor lamp or table lamp? Will track lighting work? Consider recessed lighting or a spotlight to highlight the focal point of the room. Will a ceiling fan with lighting be practical and complement your decorating style?

·         Add accent pieces to the room. Incorporate various textures and patterns. Consider a woven rug and a wooden end table, floral print and solid throw pillows, wicker baskets, pillar candles resting on small round or square mirrors, silk or beaded lampshades, etc.

 

These helpful decorating hints will help get you started decorating your new home. But before you make any purchases, you may want to consult an interior designer or browse some decorating magazines and websites for more ideas.

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Oct 08 2009

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Why Build a GREEN Home?

Green Home BuildingWhen it comes to building a new home, there are many benefits to gain by using green building methods. From choosing earth-friendly materials to following environmentally-friendly practices there are several things you and your builder can do to make your new home green. So why build GREEN? Green building and living is the way of the future. With every choice we make we have the option to protect our environment and planet or endanger them. Building a home makes a huge impact on the environment and landscape. Making responsible choices and decisions throughout the construction process helps protect the environment, our resources and our health. It is important that we do our part.

 

Carbon Footprint

Making an effort to use green materials will help lesson your carbon footprint. (A carbon footprint in the amount of greenhouse gas emissions caused directly or indirectly by an individual, organization or an event such as building a home.) Choosing local materials to finish your home will have less of an impact on the environment than selecting materials that must be shipped from far locations. Also, when clearing your lot, only clear the space that is necessary to build the home. Leave as many mature trees and as much shrubbery undisturbed as possible. This will leave the established ecosystem in place providing homes to resident animals and insects, allowing trees and greenery to produce oxygen and provide shade reducing your summer cooling bills.

 

Protecting Resources

Plan to use sustainable materials when building your home such as bamboo flooring. Bamboo grows much more quickly than other timber allowing it to replenish itself in a fraction of the time it takes for hardwoods and exotic timber to reproduce. Choosing sustainable materials prevents exploitation of natural resources.

 

Energy Efficiency

Using green or recycled materials can help increase the overall efficiency of your home and eliminate landfill wastes. Consider recycled paper or denim products to insulate your home. Choose countertops made of recycled glass instead of purchasing a granite countertop. Install high quality thermal windows cutting down on heating and cooling bills. Consider a geothermal heating and cooling system. Incorporate solar panels. Take advantage of your lot and position your home to make the best of natural lighting. Choose and install Energy Star rated appliances. All of these things help eliminate waste and reduce energy consumption (and your utility bills.)

 

Water-Use Reduction

Select and install water-conserving appliances and fixtures such as low-flow toilets and shower heads. Purchase a water-conserving washing machine and dishwasher. Not only will these choices help protect our water supply, but they will also reduce your water bill.

 

Heath Benefits 

Choose green products to finish the interior of your home such as formaldehyde-free building materials and low-VOC (volatile organic compound) paints. These healthy alternatives help prevent respiratory problems that can arise when using traditional building materials.

 

So, before you build your new home, talk with your builder about these green building practices and other things you can do to make earth-friendly choices throughout the construction process.

 

For more information, check out these articles about green building.

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