Showing posts with label Energy Star. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Energy Star. Show all posts

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Five Ways To Save Money On Your Utility Bills

English: Series of air conditioners at UNC-CH.
English: Series of air conditioners at UNC-CH. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
No matter how strong, or how weak, the economy is, the one constant seems to be the constant increases in utility costs. Every homeowner is always on the lookout for ways to save some money every month, and we will share with you some solid, effective ways to do so. Savings add up, month to month, and any changes made will soon pay for themselves.

Heating And Cooling

Heating and cooling a home is one of the biggest energy costs today, and actually one of the easiest to fix. The first thing to do is to have an inspector come out to check for possible leak points. The more air that escapes through ill fitting vents and gaps in walls or floors, the more dollars that get wasted on heating and cooling costs.

Shade trees behind, and on sides of the home will help reduce the need for high air conditioning costs in the summer. The added insulation from the sun’s rays will keep indoor temperatures down, and the AC kicking in less. Sealing the windows with plastic sheeting will do the same with heating in the winter.


Dimmer switches will help to reduce the amount of lighting needed to illuminate the home. The brighter the light, the more energy is expended. If you will only be occupying a smaller area, use task lighting like overhead track lights instead of lighting up the entire room. Switch out light bulbs for energy savers in every room that sees a lot of traffic. Design the placement of furniture to take advantage of natural lighting, near windows, whenever possible.

Using Home Electronics

Research has shown that 60 percent of the power that each piece of home electronics uses daily is eaten up by continually sitting on standby. Don’t just turn the volume down, or leave that green light blinking, turn it off completely. To be honest, plugging them all into a surge protector power strips will not only preserve them from storms, it will also make it easier to turn them all off at once.


Make sure that you keep all of the appliances in the home in good repair, especially items like hot water heaters, dishwashers, and washer-dryers. A machine like these that is damaged will work twice as hard to perform, using twice the energy. Upgrade to Energy Star rated appliances, if possible, which use less energy. With washers, dryers and dishwashers, consolidate loads whenever possible. If you have an appliance you no longer use, unplug it and take it away. One empty refrigerator alone will waste up to 160 dollars of energy costs.

Go On A Budget

A lot of municipal energy providers offer what is termed a ‘budget plan’ for cost conscious consumers. You will pay the same amount of money every month, regardless of what your meter says. On months that you do not use that much energy, the overage that you paid in will go into credit, which you can then use during months when you will need more energy, like summer.

About Author: Alisa Martin is a proficient author and writes articles on finance. She regularly contributes for the website

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Keystone State Helps With HELP: Three Things To Know About HELP Loans

English: Series of air conditioners at UNC-CH.
English: Series of air conditioners at UNC-CH. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Over the last decade the environment has become an increasingly important political topic, and politicians are doing everything they can to show that they care about the fate of the environment and that they care about environmental policy. In Pennsylvania one of the ways that the state is show a commitment to environmental issues is through the HELP (Home Energy Loan Program) program. Through this program, homeowners can secure low cost loans that will help them upgrade their homes to greater energy efficiency, and save money on their utility bills. Before applying for HELP, there are three things you need to know.

Who is eligible?

The first question that you need to be concerned with is whether or not you are even eligible for the HELP loan. Homeowners are eligible for the HELP loans if they need the money to make an energy efficient improvement to their home. These loans are applied for just like a traditional loan, so your income level and debt will greatly affect your ability to get the loan. The loans are competitive, so if you have poor credit, you will probably not qualify for the loan, but it never hurts to put in an application.

What kinds of things qualify?

Now that you have determined your eligibility as a homeowner, it is time to think about what improvements you want to make and whether or not those improvements qualify. Home systems that are rated Energy Star by the Federal government can qualify for the HELP program. These systems include things like air conditioning, heating and anything that can make those systems more effective. You can get a HELP loan to install solar panels and you can get a loan to upgrade the insulation to the home. You can check with the HELP office or with your contractor to make sure that all of the improvements that you want to make are covered under the program so that you will not be blindsided when the work is done. Larger projects, such as whole house upgrades and geothermal units, qualify for additional funding and have slightly different terms than other HELP loans. For more information you need to discuss the program with your contractor.

What is the process like?

The actual process of applying is not very difficult, and you should know in a matter of days whether or not you qualify. You can visit and follow their links to the online application and you can get the application in the works. Because of the number of people who are applying to the program, and the limited funds that are available, it is advisable to get your application in well before you want the work to begin. This will give you plenty of time to find other funding sources if the HELP loan does not go through, and it will give you some time to plan for the improvements if you do qualify.

The Keystone HELP loans are a great way to aid the people of Pennsylvania in their desire to become more environmentally conscious. With these loans people can make the upgrades that they need to their home without the high costs usually associated with taking out a home improvement loan.

I am Amanda Sullivan, and I wrote this article to talk about the eligibility for the Keystone HELP program. I have worked in the HELP office for several months, but I still run into people every day who never knew the program existed, yet who need an upgrade to the air conditioning Lancaster PA homes currently have. I try to point them in the direction of contractors like Vertex Mechanical ( because I know that they are on the approved contractor list and I advise people to discuss their home improvement dreams with a contractor to find out if they qualify for the loan.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

10 Great Ways to Save Money at Home

Energy Star Light Bulb
Energy Star Light Bulb (Photo credit: Jenn Durfey)
You can save a lot of money at home by finding ways to make your property work for you. By adding value to different parts of your home, and by saving money in key areas, you can start to appreciate how much even small changes will affect your annual budget; some approaches to consider when saving money at home consequently include switching energy providers, de-cluttering and selling on items, and taking on a home renovation loan to build up the equity you have in your property.

1 - Switch Energy Providers 

The New Year is a good time to consider switching energy providers; you can both save on your annual bills, and receive cash-back  by comparing different providers, with the savings potentially rising to £100 a year. 

2 - Use Less Water 

Get a water meter for your house, and avoid average charges for your area; similarly, use less water by switching off taps when brushing your teeth, and don’t over fill kettles and pans when making cups of tea and cooking. 

3 - Use Your Garden to Grow Vegetables 

Reduce your weekly food shop by using your garden to grow vegetables; you can start a small patch, or even a kitchen garden, where you can grow potatoes, carrots, and other vegetables that can be added to your cooking routine. 

4 - De-Clutter and Sell Items 

You’d be surprised by how much money you can raise by de-cluttering your home and selling on items; old mobile phones can be sold for cash, while large amounts of books, DVDs, and CDs can be sold online to make some quick cash. 

5 - Take Out a Home Renovation Loan 

Look for short term or guarantor loans that will allow you to borrow enough money to renovate a bathroom or kitchen - doing so will help to add value to your property if you’re planning to sell in a few years time. 

6 - Get a Better Home Insurance Deal 

Work out what you’re actually paying for with your home insurance, and try to cut out anything that you don’t actually need. Look for deductibles, as well as opportunities to lower your premiums by increasing the amount of information you give to providers.

7 - Break Down Your Bills 

Calculate how much you’re spending across different parts of your home, and try to make small savings; use slightly less heat an water, or drop part of your entertainment package if you’re not using your television as much as your Internet connection. 

8 - Set Your Home for the Seasons 

Remember to add in blankets and repair drafts and leaks before the Winter, which will help you to use your heating less. Similarly, make sure you turn off your heating at the right time of the year to avoid paying more in the Spring and Summer. 

9 - Refit Your Kitchen 

Make your kitchen more cost effective by investing in a slow or pressure cooker, which can save energy. Move over to white goods that have an Energy Star label, as these appliances are more energy efficient. 

10 - Make Small Repairs and Changes 

Lots of small changes will make a difference to how much you spend at home - fix leaky taps, and try to spend less time in the shower, or running your garden hose. Check for drafts under doors, and pick up cheap drafts excluders to prevent heat from being lost.
Author Bio: Liam Ohm writes about home improvement, from bespoke furniture to money saving tips. In his spare time he enjoys networking and socializing.

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