Archive for March, 2012

Eco Lighting is Good for the World and Your Electricity Bills

March 29th, 2012

At the end of March, millions of eco homes, businesses and famous landmarks will simultaneously switch off their lights at 8.30pm. This is in recognition of the WWF sponsored Earth Hour – an event that has spread to 135 countries worldwide as a symbolic way of showing concern for the environment.

You can participate in Earth Hour by registering on the campaign website and then being ready to flick the light switch to join the global blackout on the 31st March. However, if you want to take proactive steps to protect the environment then you don’t have to wait until Earth Hour; you can help reduce carbon emissions all year round by investing in eco lighting in your eco home.

£1.9 billion is spent on lighting homes every year, accounting for up to 20% of electricity bills. With this in mind, investing in eco lighting can be a great way of saving money as well as reducing carbon emissions from your eco house. Lighting is also a major cost for commercial buildings, accounting for up to 60% of total electricity bills.

The government has set the bold target of reducing the emission of greenhouse gases 60% by 2050. In order to achieve this goal, schemes are available to provide financial assistance to commercial enterprises to become greener, such as the Enhanced Capital Allowance (ECA) and Carbon Trust 0% Interest Loans. This money can be spent on eco lighting systems, such as sensors and automated lighting controls that reduce or switch off lights when an area is vacant. These eco lighting methods could save businesses up to 80% on their electricity bills.

The different types of eco lighting to choose from

In 2011, 150 watt incandescent bulbs (which have barely changed in design since they were first invented by Thomas Edison in 1879) were phased out. These bulbs were highly inefficient as 90% of the energy produced was given off as heat and they lasted less than 1000 hours. In their place, there are now a range of eco lighting options for your eco home to choose from:

Halogen bulbs – These consume 25-30% less energy than incandescent bulbs. The name comes from the halogen gas contained within the bulb which slows its deterioration.

Energy saving CFL (compact fluorescent light) bulbs – Using only 9 watts, these bulbs can last 10,000 hours, which is 10 times longer than  incandescent bulbs. They warm up quickly, have a superior light quality and are not prone to flicker. They can also reduce carbon emissions by 70%, saving eco homes £7 per year per bulb.

LED (light emitting diodes) – These are seen as the future of eco lighting in eco homes. They can last 100,000 hours (literally a lifetime) and use a mere 2 watts. They use 75% less energy and produce 80% less heat. Without containing toxic elements like mercury or lead, they are also 100% recyclable. Although they are more expensive upfront (costing around £25), you can expect to recoup the cost of LED lights in a couple of years.

Read more about Sustainable Lighting via the 50 Q & A’s kindly supplied by Clearvision, who are leading experts in this field.

How Energy Efficient Eco Appliances Save You Money and the Planet at the Same Time

March 13th, 2012

If you want to make your eco home as environmentally friendly as possible then (along with eco furniture) buying energy efficient eco appliances is a no brainer. Thankfully, you don’t have to spend hours doing complex sums to work out which eco appliances consume the least energy because it’s all been done for you.

Energy efficiency ratings for white goods have been mandatory since 1995. The brightly coloured energy efficiency certificates seen on the front of dish washers, washing machines, fridges and other appliances are now widely recognised and respected by consumers and manufacturers alike.

Graded from A to G, these tell you how much electricity eco appliances use. The higher the grade the more efficient they are, thus simplifying the process when buying eco appliances for your eco home:

Eco Electric Ovens – It might sound like an urban myth, but the test for eco ovens is to bake a brick and see how much energy is used. Improved door insulation is one of the key features of an energy efficient eco oven.

Eco Washing Machines – These are monitored for water consumption, energy use, the cleanliness of the wash and the dryness of spin results. To minimise your energy consumption, use a longer cycle rather than a quick wash because quick washes force the heating element to work harder overall. Turning down the dial from 60ºC to 40ºC can also cut your running costs in half. When buying an eco washing machine check the drum size because a larger drum can halve the number of loads you need to wash in a week. The latest hi-tech models can even weigh your laundry and adjust the cycle time and energy usage accordingly. Unfortunately, they have yet to design a machine that irons and folds your clothes as well

Eco Tumble Dryers – You’d think there is nothing eco friendly about tumble dryers, which drain electricity at a frightening rate. However, ‘A’ rated condenser models are available for your eco home which use heat pump technology and consume nearly 50% less than conventional ‘C’ rated models.

Eco Dishwashers – Running dishwashers at a lower temperature can vastly reduce running costs. Quick washes use 15-20% less energy, while an eco wash can save 50% on your dishwasher energy bills.

Eco Fridges and freezers – So much progress has been made in the cooling technology of modern eco fridges that they’ve expanded the energy efficiency ratings to A+++ to make a distinction between the latest eco models. One tip is to keep your fridge as full as possible to reduce the amount of electricity used to keep it cool. And when going on holiday, when the fridge is bare, turn the temperature up to save some extra cash.

Induction Hobs – Electrically powered hobs are the greener alternative to gas and ceramic hobs. Only the base of the pan is heated, thus saving energy otherwise wasted heating the sides.

Eco appliances with high energy efficiency ratings are the sensible choice for your eco house. They are more energy efficient, create less carbon emissions and they cost less to run, which means more money in your pocket and a greener home.