Designer Talk: New and Old Ways to Conserve Energy
Laura Powderly, Mosby Building Arts Designer, naturally thinks green when collaborating with homeowners because remodeling is, at heart, a form of recycling. In time for Earth Day, Laura is happy to share some of her favorite energy efficient products and building techniques.
With the revelation of California’s water problem, ways to conserve resources becomes more of a priority. There are many ways to make a positive impact on energy conservation by modifying day-to-day home habits. There are new products that reduce energy consumption, and there’s time-tested techniques returning to modern times that keep us comfortable while saving money by conserving energy.
Here are a few of my favorite new products and ways to conserve energy that smoothly incorporate into remodeling projects:
Re-Think Can Lighting
Philips Lighting has introduced an alternative to recessed can lighting with SlimSurface fixtures. They produce just as much light as a halogen, but with far less heat produced and greatly reduced drywall work for the installation. With a multitude of sizes available, These are an energy-friendly alternative to can lights in kitchens, bathrooms and family rooms.
Upgrade Ceiling Fan Lighting
Ceiling fans get a sleeker look with integrated LED lights (like above) in place of the standard light fixture that hangs under the blades. Or, you can trade out your current fan’s light for a universal LED light kit. Lighting Consultant Meghan Wilson, from Holt Lighting Depot, explains that “This will greatly reduce the amount of maintenance required, as there will be no bulbs to change for the life of the fixture. It will also allow for smaller, low profile options, from their incandescent predecessors.”
Re-consider the Windows
Before the game-changing introduction of air conditioning, homes were designed to work with the weather conditions, and those old techniques still work today.
Windows are a major player in controlling energy consumption. The sun is at different heights in the sky depending on the season, so when installed at certain heights and depths they can both block harsh summer sunlight and take advantage of warm winter sun. For Metro St. Louis, roof overhangs and awnings will help out existing windows for summer and winter.
Northern exposure produces a continuous, soft light all day long with little effect on a home’s indoor temperature. Consider adding more or larger north-facing windows – or even better – skylights or solar tubes that funnel that light into your home, reducing the need for electric light in those areas during the day.
Along with placement of windows, the type of window is important. For instance, double-hung windows (like those shown above) are ventilation aides. By opening the bottom window and cracking the top window at the same time it pulls fresh outside air in through the bottom and pushes indoor air out through the top. Using a fan in conjunction with open double-hung windows increases active ventilation and your comfort while giving the HVAC system a rest.
Partner with the Sun
The sun is a constant, renewable energy source that can be harnessed to power your home instead of, or in conjunction with, electricity. Installing solar panels on the parts of the home that receive the greatest amounts of sunlight has increased in popularity as the technology has improved and it looks better. Above is a great example of how solar panels can be stylishly incorporated into a home.
Harvest the Rain
Recycling water for non-potable purposes like flushing toilets or watering plants is becoming a necessity in some parts of the country. In St. Louis, it’s smart to take advantage of the rainy season. Think about this: a house with 1,400 square feet of roof can shed 600 gallons of water during a 1” rainstorm. By using rainwater collection barrels (shown above) on downspouts, there can be enough water collected to water flower beds all summer long, and that will reflect in the price of the water bill.
Utilizing any of these products or techniques to conserve energy can also have the benefit of reducing utility bills without compromising comfort. At Mosby, we also make energy conservation beautiful! To make your home more energy conscious, work with the knowledgeable and green designers at Mosby Building Arts by calling 314.909.1800 or contact us here.