Energy Star Homes

Monthly Archive: May 2016

Energy Efficient Roofing Options for Homeowners

Ever since man first began building his own structures, a roof has meant more than just protection from the rain. It’s meant survival. Although humans have not always considered the importance of energy efficiency in the same way throughout the ages, energy has always been a key component to structural design. The roof has played no small part in this. A solidly build roof helped many cultures keep in heat, ensuring survival during the sometimes long winter months. Alternatively, some roof designs helped regulate temperatures, and even kept the interior cooler(pdf) during hot days.

Now, energy efficiency is more a matter of cost savings and environmental impact. There are a large number of energy efficient roofing options. Some are as new as possible. Others are simply a modern take on tried-and-true building practices from cultures across the world. All have been proven effective at save energy, lowering costs and making homes all the more attractive. John Anderson, of Severe Weather Roofing and Restoration in Loveland, CO suggests two options below.

1. White (Reflective) Roofing

Heat science is very well understood. At the most basic level is this: Of all colors, black absorbs the most heat, while white reflects the most heat. The difference can easily be recognized in experiments conducted using cars painted white, silver and black. There, it was discovered that black cars were, on average, around 9-11 degrees (F) hotter than their white and silver counterparts.

This same principle has been applied to roofing as well. Many people have recognized the vast temperature differences and energy efficiency benefits related to lighter-colored roofing. White in particular has been recognized as the most energy efficient roofing color. White roofing will reflect around 90% of the sun’s radiation, leading directly to lower energy costs due to cooler inside temperatures. The numbers are significant. White roofing has been shown to bring down energy costs as much as 40%.

There are certainly drawbacks to white roofing. Although the movement has caught on across the country, white roofing is only cost effective in areas with warmer climates and more sun. Individuals considering white roofing should remember that the reflective principle of colors applies all year. White roofing will reflect heat in both the summer and the winter. This is potentially bad news for those in more northern climates, where white roofing could result in a net gain in energy usage and cost.

2. Consider Metal Roofing

The black asphalt shingle has been an American staple since the early 1900s. However, this is an American classic that has resulted in a significant amount of energy inefficiency. Black asphalt shingles absorb a massive amount of heat, requiring the use of air conditioning and wasted energy. Metal is a great alternative for saving money — in the long run.

Metal roofs have been shown to reflect 40-50% of the sun’s energy back outward, radiating that heat away from the building underneath. This ultimately leads to cooler temperatures and less energy demand for cooling. Much like white roofing, the effects are primarily found in warmer climates than cooler ones. The real downside to metal roofing is not the fact that it still reflects in the winter, however. It’s the cost. Metal roofs can cost three times as much as asphalt. However, they will also last three or four times longer.

Weigh Your Options Based on Climate

Ultimately, anyone looking to save energy through roofing options needs to consider their climate first. It’s easy to get caught up in the desire to save energy, bring costs down, and help the environment, only to find out later that your efforts were wasted and even had detrimental effects. When it comes to energy efficient roofing, climate is the biggest factor. Before diving into an energy efficient roof, make sure it’s the best course of action for your home.


Control The Noise In Your Home With Energy Efficient Acoustic Panels

One of the most important factors in the liveability of a house is noise.  In some cultures noise is taken for granted.  In traditional Japanese houses, the walls were made of bamboo and the rooms were separated by paper screens. The slightest whisper from any part of the house could be heard everywhere: the Japanese compensated by rigorously pretending not to hear anything that wasn’t intended for them.  The noisy couple in the next room?  They aren’t there.  In America that’s not how we want to do things.  We don’t want to have to pretend, or to wear earplugs, we want our houses to be as quiet as possible.  We only want to hear sounds coming from the room we are in.  Everything else should be deeply muffled, or, ideally, completely silenced.  A quiet house is a calm and tranquil house.


Unfortunately the desire for quiet does not accord very well with the desire for efficiency.  The traditional way to make a house quiet is to build for solidity:  make the walls as thick as possible, ideally of wood or even stone; make the floors as thick and rigid as possible.  The absolute epitome of quiet is a medieval castle, with stone floors and foot-thick stone walls. But not only is that approach expensive, it is inefficient in terms of construction material and energy usage. The heavier a house, the more it costs to build and the more it costs to heat and cool.  Medieval castles cost a fortune to build and were notoriously impossible to keep warm.


It is, however, possible to minimize noise without sacrificing efficiency.  The general approach is to cover the noise-transmitting surfaces with materials that deaden sound.  For the floor that usually means a thick and densely woven carpet.  For areas where carpet is not desirable, vibration-absorbing tiles can be used. For the walls and ceiling, the most effective approach is to cover them (at least partly) with acoustic panels.




Acoustic panels are typically square or rectangular panels constructed of materials that block,absorb, or shape sound.
They come in a variety of types, at a wide range of prices.  Perhaps the fanciest are perforated metal tiles, which are very effective at absorbing sound but so pricey that they are usually only used for major public spaces such as concert halls. For home use, most available types of acoustic panels are constructed with a substrate of mineral fiber board, known as “micore”.  This substrate may be covered by fabric, wood, or, for the best performance, acoustic tiles.


The most effective results are obtained by constructing acoustic panels on-site, matching them to the shape of the relevant surfaces.  A much less expensive approach is to use prefabricated panels, which can simply be placed over a wall, like a painting or tapestry.  Typically it is not necessary to fully cover a wall: often a dramatic improvement can be achieved with just a few strategically placed panels. If an acoustic panel ensemble is carefully arranged, it can not only reduce unwanted sound, but also generate “reverb” that improves the quality of sound generated within a room.


Many types of acoustic panels are available. The cheapest cost less than $10 per square foot, but these tend to be very, um, utilitarian.  At the other end of the scale are panels such as the EchoPanels, with such a high level of aesthetics as to be part of a home decor scheme in addition to enhancing the acoustics of a room.  Regardless of the ultimate choice, it is always a good idea to get advice from an acoustic consultant as early as possible. In many cases it is possible to improve an existing room by adding acoustic panels, but the results will never be as good as when the house is designed from the start with acoustics in mind.

How to Make a Healthy Smoothie with an Energy Smart Juicer

Juicing has been part of the healthy regimen for most people. It is able to offer plenty of advantages. When raw, plants have a lot of good stuff in them. This includes enzymes, vitamins, minerals and even phytonutrients. Juicing allows you to put together different benefits together. However, it is even better to have a smoothie because the thick fluid is more fulfilling and does not take the important aspect of the fruits and vegetables like the fiber out of the fruit. But for this you need a blender, preferably an energy saving one.

Before you sulk at the thought of not having a blender, you should know that in the case of making a smoothie, a blender is only a convenience. There are plenty of ways that you can make smoothies with the help of your Juicer. If you don’t have one, you can start by trying to find the best juicer online.

Once you have your juicer, the next thing that you need to have a great smoothie are the ingredients. In this post, we’ll make a Green smoothie. For this green smoothie, you will need one green apple, half a cup of fresh kale, one fresh lime, one stalk of celery one fresh Kiwi, half a cup of fresh spinach and half a cup of green grapes. Each of these has great properties that offer you a refreshing drink and a plethora of benefits to your body.

After you have all your ingredients together, wash them thoroughly to get rid of any pesticides and dirt. If you want your smoothie to be a healthy one, it does not end with you picking healthy nutrients. It also requires you to have a healthy preparation. Start by making sure that you have a clean environment. If you have to use the chopping board, make sure that it is clean and dry. In most cases, you might suffer a cross contamination if you wash your vegetables and fruits and then use a chopping board that was recently used to chop meat or even chicken.

Since the ingredients will not be cooked, it makes it easy for any parasites in the blood of the chicken or meat to survive and get into your system. So, that should be an area of concern for you. Make sure that you use clean preparation equipment for this process.

After you have thoroughly cleaned your ingredients, chop them up into small pieces to make it easier for the juicer then juice everything together. What you will be having at the end of this is a juice but don’t worry. It will soon be a smoothie.

To convert your juice into a smoothie without the help of a blender, now take a fully ripe avocado and mash it into a pulp. You can then take the mashed up insides of the avocado and add them into your juice. The result will be a very refreshing and thick smoothie.

There are other smoothie recipes that you can make with your low energy juicer, these include an apple and carrot smoothie with the help of plain yoghurt or a kiwi and mango smoothie which is slightly unique since you would smash the mango with a fork to make the smoothie then add some small ice chips.