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Vegetables and Herbs that Thrive in the Shade and How to Care for Them [Infographic]

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If you’re looking for the perfect plant to fill those shady spots in your garden (or kitchen), consider this selection of vegetables and herbs that thrive in the shade.

The infographic below highlights the features of these shade-loving herbs and veggies, and how you should take care of them once they’re planted in your garden.

herbs that thrive in the shade

Will you be planting any of these veggies or herbs in your garden? Tweet us @greenerideal and let us know!

13 Advantages Of Growing Plants Within A Greenhouse

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growing plants in a greenhouse

Benefits of Gardening using Outdoor Structures and Greenhouses

Greenhouse gardening offers many benefits that go beyond the benefits of conventional gardening.

Whether you choose to go with a very simple greenhouse or a more elaborate one, you can still enjoy a variety of great advantages.

If you’re considering growing plants inside a greenhouse, here are a few bit advantages you’ll want to consider.

 

Advantage #1 – Longer Growing Season

One of the main advantages to growing in a greenhouse is that it offers you a longer growing season.

  • Temperatures don’t vary as much within a greenhouse, since the sun’s radiation is trapped in the enclosure, retaining the heat within the structure.
  • Growing seasons can be extended, even in cold climates.

 

Advantage #2 – Garden in Any Weather

Keeping up a garden in bad weather can be difficult. With a greenhouse, you don’t have to worry about this since everything is covered. Even if it’s pouring rain outside, you can garden and keep dry.

 

Advantage #3 – Grow a Wide Variety of Plants

You have the ability to grow a wide variety of plants when using a greenhouse. It allows individuals to enjoy experimenting with exotic plants that are not found in the local area.

 

Advantage #4 – Protection from Pests and Predators

The production from pests and predators by the greenhouse is another huge advantage.

  • Pests and predators like moles, deer and squirrels can be easily kept out.
  • Smaller pests, like certain rodents, can be kept out with the addition of traps and screens.
  • Strong greenhouse plastic can be purchased from online retailers (like Simply Plastics, for example), which can make the process much easier.

 

Advantage #5 – Create the Optimum Growing Environment

With a greenhouse, you have the ability to create the optimum growing environment for plants, whether you’re growing herbs, vegetables, flowers or other types of plants.

  • Creating an optimum growing environment helps you to enhance the growth of plants, giving you the benefit of healthier, better producing plants.

 

Advantage #6 – Protect Plants from Bad Weather

Bad weather can end up destroying plants, even in the best tended outdoor garden. Bad weather like high winds, dust storms, thunder storms and blizzards can all cause damage. However, a greenhouse offers plants a layer of protection from the elements.

 

Advantage #7 – Go Green with Your Greenhouse

Growing plants within a greenhouse allows gardeners to go green, which is a benefit to gardeners and the earth. Adding more plants helps to provide a fresher, cleaning atmosphere, making a greenhouse a great tool for fighting global warming.

 

Advantage #8 – Grow Plants without Dangerous Pesticides

Many people are unhappy about the dangerous pesticides found on many commercially raised crops.

It’s possible to grow plants without all those dangerous, toxic pesticides when growing in a greenhouse. Gardeners can control what they use when growing their own produce.

 

Advantage #9 – Keep Beneficial Insects Inside

Certain insects are beneficial to plants, such as ladybugs.

  • They can help to keep the population of nuisance insects under control. In an open air garden, beneficial insects can easily leave.
  • However, greenhouses contain these insects, which can keep problems with nuisance insects from occurring.

 

Advantage #10 – Easily Customize the Greenhouse to Your Needs

When you build a greenhouse, you have the ability to easily customize it to your needs.

This means you can decide on a greenhouse that works well with the types of plants you intend to grow.

 

Advantage #11 – Enjoying Raising Your Own Food

Some individuals grow plants as a food source. Using a greenhouse to grow food year round allows gardeners to enjoy the advantage of lower food bills.

 

Advantage #12 – Save Energy

Greenhouse gardening can even offer the advantage of saving energy.

When using a greenhouse, it’s possible to conserve energy sources like water, since these energy sources can more easily be controlled as opposed to traditional gardening.

Using a greenhouse is not just about the benefits and advantage’s of growing plants, but also about changing the lifestyle’s and live a more environmentally friendly life.

It’s also about teaching children and family members to garden, as it is a vital skill to learn and brings families closer together.

 

Advantage #13 – Relaxation and Stress Relief

Last, growing plants within a greenhouse offers the advantages of relaxation and stress relief.

It offers a great place where you can get away and enjoy tending the plants.

Gardening can help to reduce stress levels and using a greenhouse makes sure you can enjoy this all year long.

greenhouse gardener cheat sheet infographic

Originally published in 2013; this article has been updated for clarity and comprehensiveness.

Getting Started with Solar Water Heating for Your Home

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Solar water heater on roof

After solar power, solar water heating is often the next step that homeowners take to make their home more sustainable.

A solar water heating system works by converting sunlight into heat using a solar thermal collector. This heat is then used to heat water in homes and swimming pools.

If you plan to install a solar water heating system in your home, make sure to include domestic hot water as well. There’s little point in installing a solar water heating system if you can’t benefit from domestic hot water which is a necessity all year round.

 

Supplementing A Solar Water Heating System

Solar water heating is great when supplemented with another smaller heat source. Thankfully, with today’s recent developments in solar power, supplemental heat sources are much more affordable.

These supplemental heat sources can be a heat pump, a furnace, a small boiler, or even a wood stove. They are very beneficial especially during seasons like winter where solar potential is at its lowest.

 

Properly Setting Up a Solar Water Heating System

Solar water heater

When set up correctly, a solar water heating system can replace most of conventional energy sources and save as much as 50 percent in electricity.

So what makes a home properly set up for a solar water heating system? First, it has to be properly insulated and tightly constructed. Older homes, which tend to have bigger heat leaks, will experience little savings in heating bills regardless if there is a solar water heating system.

The same goes for conventionally built houses that have draft windows, air leaks, and little insulation. To fully enjoy the benefits of a solar water heating system, insulation and air sealing should be done first. This immediately reduces your heat bills.

 

Solar Water Heating Costs

To determine the cost of installing a solar water heating system in your home, you must consider the climate, the size of your home, and how much heating load it can carry.

Once this is factored in by your designer, it is time to look at the local cost of the equipment to be used. This includes collectors, pumps, and controls.

You may also receive a tax credit from your federal government for building a solar water heating system. Some locations can receive as much as 30% of the cost but other locations may receive lesser.

When computing the costs for installing a solar water heating system, it is best to look at the return of investment over time instead of the front-end cost. It is estimated that for every year that you are using your solar heating system, you receive an ROI of 10 to 15 percent.

With a solar water heating system, you are not only saving lots of money but you are also helping the environment. Electricity, fuel oil, and gas costs may change but the price of a solar water heating system will be the same over the life of your mortgage.

A solar water heating system is also not that expensive to maintain. You will need to get it checked regularly and occasionally replace parts like the pumps, sensors, and valves, but for the most part, you can leave your solar water heating system to run without any worry.

 

Finding a Good Solar Installer

Solar is in right now so expect to see many designers and installers capitalizing on this trend. You want to hire an experienced installer who can tailor a plan according to your needs.

It is recommended that you work with an independent installer instead of a manufacturer. The former is able to pick and choose the best components for your solar water heating system while the latter, despite having complete packaged systems, are somewhat disappointing in performance.

Now that you have the know-how about solar water heating, are you considering having it installed in your home?

Alternate Ways to Power Your Car [Infographic]

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solar powered cars

Fossil fuels are on their way out, and alternative fuels are on their way in.

And while electric cars are taking the roads by storm, did you know there are many fuels other than clean energy we could be using to power our vehicles? Like, chocolate, coffee, or even tequila?

Check out the infographic below to learn about 21 alternate fuels that you could use to power your car.

Click to view in full size ] 

Alternate Ways to Power Your Car Infographic

Which of these alternate fuels are you most excited about? Tweet us @greenerideal and let us know!

5 Simple Tricks to Fight a Cold Naturally

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sunflower oil

It seems that the cold and flu go hand in hand with the shifting season. As the weather turns and the seasons change, atmospheric pressures, damp climates, air conditioning or dry furnaces always do a number on our systems.

While you adjust to warming temperatures, maybe melting snow, and endless days of rain this season, here are five tips to keep you healthy and fight off any cold bugs you might catch the natural way.

 

1. Essential Oils

  • Are great for fighting infectious disease
  • Use them proactively. Start spritzing, diffusing and diluting oils all season long, to prevent the germs before they spread.
  • Different essential oils have antiseptic, anti-fungal, and anti-viral properties so they’re great at stopping the spread of sicknesses around the house.
  • Boost your immune system by using a room spray or a diffuser with the best bacteria busting oils like cinnamon, cloves, lemon, eucalyptus, lavender, thyme and pine.

 

2. Wash your hands frequently

  • Probably the easiest and most effective way to stop the spread of infectious disease is frequent hand washing
  • The primary way colds gets passed around is when someone coughs or sneezes and the little microbes of germs stick to door knobs, handles, keyboards, and phones.
  • Be sure to use warm water, soap, and a clean paper or hand towel at home for drying.
  • Lather up with Dr. Brommer’s Organic Pump Soap, Avalon Organic’s or Jason’s Purifying Hand Soap

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3. Eat healthfully

 

Garlic

The top ten clean foods to load up on during cold and flu season are:

  1. Citrus fruits – perhaps the best known way to fight a cold is to bulk up on oranges and other citrus fruits, known for their high vitamin C content
  2. Red Bell Peppers – but watch out, these bad boys are on the Dirty Dozen list. So, be sure to buy organic
  3. Broccoli – full of immune boosting vitamins A, C, and E. Could very well be the best veggie to put on your table
  4. Garlic – has been used for centuries to fight infections. In Ancient Egypt, garlic was taken with honey daily as a healing tonic, and Medieval Europeans are said to have believed eating entire cloves kept them safe from disease.
  5. Ginger – may be useful in keeping a bad cold at bay or even catching on in the first place
  6. Spinach – packed with Vitamin C and powerful antioxidants
  7. Yogurt – keeps your guy flora healthy and helps fight disease
  8. Almonds  – full of vitamin E which is key to a healthy immune system
  9. Turmeric – known for its anti-inflammatory properties and ability to reduce fevers
  10. Green tea – a powerful antioxidant

Cinnamon is another common cold remedy aide that is also a staple in the diets and medicinal recipe books of ancient cultures. Cinnamon is actually native to Sri Lanka but some of its earliest recorded uses date back to 2800 B.C. in China. In Ancient Egypt, cinnamon was used as an ingredient in embalming fluid, as well as a widely used medicine.

Cinnamon is great for both aiding in digestive disturbances as well as improving overall circulation. Cinnamon is widely prescribed to help soothe nausea and diarrhea and as an essential oil, has anti-fungal and pain relieving qualities that makes it a helpful prescription for liver ailments as well.

Another trick for sore throats is gargling with salt water, 4-5 times a day. If straight salt water’s a little too harsh for your taste buds, blend some honey and lemon into the salt and boiling water (just let it cool before you do).

 

4. Load up on Vitamin C

orange

While researchers are torn on whether or not it really works, taking an extra dose of Vitamin C certainly can’t hurt. When you’ve taken too much of it, your body has its ways of telling you. Vitamins are always best and safest when taken from food, so pick up an orange or grapefruit before going for the Vitamin C chewables when you can.

 

5. Organic, all natural cold and flu medications

When all else fails, you’ve ended up with a cold and it seems that nothing else but medication will make you feel better, then look to all natural cold medications like Maty’s Healthy Products.

Mary’s organic cold medicine

They carry some great products for the whole family, from infants to adults. The company’s cough syrup is certified USDA/Organic. It has 10 immune boosters in every spoonful and it’s safe for family members as young as one.

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They also carry a nighttime cough syrup with calming chamomile, that will give you a peaceful night’s sleep without that drowsy, druggy feeling of NyQuil;

And, two different eucalyptus chest rubs that are petroleum free. In addition to the all natural Vapour Rub, Maty’s also makes a petroleum and menthol free chest rub for babies.

 

And finally, don’t forget to rest! Giving your body proper rest lets your immune system concentrate on the work it needs to do to heal you—and sweating is a wonderful way to flush out all the toxins trying to take over your wellbeing. Just make sure you replenish all the liquids you let go by drinking lots of juice, water and hot tea.

Hopefully these tips help you fight off the cold and flu this season. Stay healthy!

Make Your Own Honey with Backyard Beekeeping

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Imagine having your own source of honey in your backyard. You can have it anytime you want. How do you do it?

Are The Odds In Your Favor?

Deciding to be a beekeeper is a little bit like deciding to take care of other animals, but you have to consider all the odds.

Do you have ample space for your bees? A regular-sized city lot can house one or two bee colonies. Check your local ordinance and zoning regulations first to make sure that they permit beekeeping from where you live. 

Your family also has to know what it takes to have bees around. Obviously, you should be sure that no one is allergic to bee stings. Get your family tested by a doctor to prevent trips to the emergency room.

You also have to consider your neighbors. When it causes problems with your neighbors, you have to find another place for them. It would be helpful to get a screen or a sight barrier wherein your neighbors’ kids wouldn’t be tempted to do anything that may endanger themselves or your colony.

Create A Perfect Home For Your Bees

backyard beekeeping

Using a hive stand, elevate your hives for about 18 inches above the ground to protect them from skunks. It can be easily constructed using treated 2x4s and cement blocks.

Honey bees naturally nest in cavities of about 2-3 cubic feet. These nests are constructed with 3 areas. The gold area is where the honey is stored. The white area is where the pollen, the main brood food is stored and surrounds the nest like a protective layer. The brown area is the lowest and most protected layer because it is where the queen bee lays eggs and the young bees are raised.

To create your own hive, you have to visualise the hive as a sphere where your bees will construct their hive the similar way that their natural nests are created. Bees live in vertical-hanging beeswax sheets that are suspended at the top by a bar of wood that fits into a groove at the top of the box. Beekeepers use wooden and sometimes plastic frames to keep the beeswax secure so that it doesn’t bend.

There are different boxes that beekeepers use. There are boxes called deeps that hold ten frames and are 9.5 inches tall. The mediums are boxes of  6.5 inches tall while the shallows are boxes of 5-7/8 inches tall.

Find out more about custom beekeeping you units you can keep in your backyard.

Stay Safe

beekeeper

You have to have protective gear when dealing with your bees. To prevent them from entangling with your hair, you can use a hat with a veil. It is advisable that you should put a full suit on especially if doing heavy work. Gloves come in handy when you are uncomfortable having bees around your fingers.

You also need to have a smoker. A smoker is a simply cylinder with bellows attached. In it should be a slow burning fire which produces smoke.

When the bellows are squeezed, smoke comes out and enters into the beehive. When bees are agitated too much their natural instinct kicks in and they will duck into the hives, eat as much honey as they can to abandon the hive and find a new nest.

Since communication among bees happens through chemical messages, the smoke messes up and breaks down their communication so you can go about your work unhindered.

The Best Bee For You

You have to decide what variant of bee you would like to keep. You can have the Carniolans which are dark bees, gentle but demanding for management. They survive winters better but their population builds fast during springs.

Russians, on the other hand, are gentle yet erratic. They are docile and build slower in spring. They come in different colors of yellow and dark. They are a bit more complicated to manage but are resistant to varoa mites.

Backyard beekeeping is a lot like gardening, you put the same amount of effort and time to keep the bees plus your buddies can help your vegetables and flowers thrive! 

20 Water-Saving Tips for Your Home

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how to save water

Have you ever had a staggering utility bill?

Even if you are not in a drought-stricken area, you must do your part in knowing how to save water and conserving this precious resource.

Here are twenty water conservation tips for you that you can implement in your home right away.

1. As you’re waiting for your shower to heat up, place a bucket under the faucet so water accumulates in the bucket instead of pouring down the drain. This can come in handy when you flush the toilet or water the plants.

2. If you leave your faucet on when brushing, you are wasting 2.5 gallons of water per minute. Make sure to turn it off after wetting your toothbrush and don’t turn it back on until you need to rinse.

3. Just like brushing your teeth, you can turn off the faucet while rubbing your hands and put it back on when once you’re ready to rinse.

4. The toilet is a fixture in your home that often consumes the most water. If there is no need to flush, then don’t!

5. A leaky faucet is a water waster. Get a plumber or go for DIY to fix the leaks in your home.

6. Your pasta water can be healthy for your plants! Instead of pouring it all out in the drain, let it cool and sprinkle your plants with it.

7. Save water by taking your car to the car wash. They recycle water thus you do not need to use your hose and use up so much fresh water for your car. Alternately, use a waterless car wash solution.

8. With every minute you spend in the shower, you are actually wasting about 5 gallons of water. Take quick showers to conserve not only water, but also your time.

9. Invest in water efficient fixtures such as low-flow toilets, efficient shower heads, and faucets. Also opt for a dishwasher and a washing machine that is Water Sense-rated.

10. Revamp your lawn. Shrink or lose it completely. Go for a landscape design that requires little to no irrigation or maintenance. If not, choose water efficient ground cover, succulents, and other greenery that don’t need much water.

how to save water

11. Since half-loads in the dishwasher or the washing machine add up to gallons of wasted water, you should not run it until they are full.

12. If your water bill suspiciously spikes up, chances are that you might have leaks in your home. Hire a plumber so they can check your pipes and save you from wasting water and money.

13. A rain barrel is good for harvesting rainwater and using it later to hydrate your plants without using the sprinklers or hose. Keep it covered to avoid increasing the local mosquito population.

14. You can decrease your toilet water usage by sinking a half gallon jug of sand or water in the toilet tank.

15. It is wiser to water your plants in the morning since early morning temperature lessens the loss of water due to evaporation. Watering in the evening, however, can promote the growth of mold.

16. Before you wash the dishes, fill your sink with water instead of letting the water run as you scrub. 

17. Saving electricity indirectly saves water too, as power plants utilize thousands of gallons of water to cool down their equipment.

18. If you need to clean your pet, do it outside. You’re hitting two birds with one stone as you clean your pup and water the lawn at the same time. Be sure to check if the soap you use for your pet is not harmful to your plants.

19. You may want cut back on the daily showers. Skipping a shower once a week could greatly save a big amount of water.

20. Re-route the runoff from your clothes washer and use it to flush your toilet with a greywater system. Just make sure it is legal where you live.

Of course, there are many more ways to save water in addition to these 20, but we hope these will get you started.

Have any suggestions? Tweet us @greenerideal!

Saving Money by Upcycling Things in Your Everyday Life

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gift wrap

You don’t have to be crafty to save money; by simply reusing, upcycling, or repurposing the things around your home, you can save hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars a year.

While being handy with a sewing machine or glue stick can definitely help, there are myriad ways to repurpose the things in your home that take no skill whatsoever!

The next time you walk to the garbage can with an item in your hand, stop and take a second look at that thing you are calling trash; is there a way you can reuse it that will save you from having to spend money on a new item? Chances are good that the answer is yes!

Here are ten ways that you can recycle, or repurpose, things in your home:

 

1Gift Wrap

If you look in your cupboards and closets, you can find unique ways to wrap gifts that ensure you will never buy a single piece of gift wrap again.

Newspapers, saved wrapping paper, mailing paper, old boxes and even fabric make unique wraps that your recipient can reuse themselves.

 

2Planters

Are you going to be starting a garden this year? Old Styrofoam and plastic cups make perfect containers for seedlings.

Best of all, these containers can be rinsed out and saved for next year once your seedlings have grown sturdy enough to plant outside.

 

3Herb Garden

Does your family go through bottle after bottle of soda or water every day? Cut that bottle in half, poke holes in their bottoms and line them up in a great wooden box; you’ve got an instant herb garden, tailor made for your kitchen window.

 

4Nails and Screws

Chances are that you’ve been in at least one garage in your lifetime and have seen jar lids screwed to the underside of a shelf, holding a jar full of nails or screws underneath. This ages old idea is still a fantastic one today!

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6Leftovers

Whether you’re cooking for a family or just yourself, you probably have leftovers sitting on your table frequently. Use those butter, margarine, sour cream and cottage cheese containers to store these foods instead of Tupperware.

Bonus: if you give your friend some food to take home and don’t get your container back, you’ve really not lost anything!

 

7Nail Holder

Have you ever been pounding a nail, only to miss and crush your thumb instead? It will never happen again when you use an old fork to hold that nail for you while you hammer!

 

8Paint

If you have a baby, don’t toss those bottles once your bundle of joy has outgrown them; use them to hold craft paints for your toddler or yourself. The non-spill teat on top of the bottle makes all worries about spilled paint disappear.

 

9Rugs

If you’re outdated clothing isn’t in good enough shape to donate to the local thrift store, rip it into strips and create a great braided rug from your “new” material.

This is an especially good idea to use for your children’s clothes. Rather than storing them in a box, make great use of them!

 

10Headboard

If you need a new headboard for one of the beds in your home, creativity will come in handy. You can use old doors, pieces of fencing or even the covers of hardback books to craft a new headboard, saving you hundreds of dollars!

 

11Hand Soap

If you’ve got little ones in the house, or even big ones, ice cube trays make great soap molds! The soaps that you get out of your ice cube trays will last at least a week and are perfect for tiny hands.

All you’ll need is a slab of melt and pour soap, a glass bowl and a microwave oven!

There are hundreds of ways that you can repurpose things in your home to save money!

The next time you find yourself saying “I need…” look around the house and see if there is something you can repurpose that will fit the bill; chances are you’ve already got the perfect item!


Editor’s Note: This post has been updated for freshness and consistency.

How Solar Panels Work [Infographic]

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anatomy of a solar cell

Have you ever wondered how a solar panel works?

Check out this interactive infographic to understand what goes into these clean energy generators and the chemical reactions that take place in order to provide renewable energy for your home.

how does a solar panel work?

How Windows Can Make Your Home More Energy Efficient

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energy efficient windows

You’ve probably heard by now that installing energy efficient windows can help to reduce the cost of your monthly energy bill by sealing in heat when it’s cold and cool air when it’s hot outside.

While that’s definitely true, and replacing single pane windows with energy efficient windows could easily save you $500 each year, there is another a great benefit.

Energy efficient windows are good for the environment because their installation helps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. 

They’ll also make your home more comfortable for you and your family because you won’t be dealing with constant temperature fluctuations like you do with single pane windows.

Even for homeowners that are already doing their part to conserve energy, energy efficient windows are a smart decision for your bottom line and for the environment.

So how can your windows make your home more energy efficient?

That conundrum bothered the brains of physicists until sometime in the 19th century.

Building on the theories of Francis Bacon, physicists realized that heat was thermal energy, was billions of atoms bouncing around like marbles in a clothes dryer, and that it actually worked in three different ways:

  • Conduction: You touch a hot pan. You burn.
  • Convection: An autumn wind – considered a “fluid” in thermodynamics – cools your skin.
  • Radiation: You forget to apply SPF 50 sunscreen while swimming. Again, you burn.

 

How Do Traditional Windows Work?

energy efficient windows in a house

To you, a window is a prescription for cabin fever. To thermodynamics, a window, and other types of fenestration, is a chink in the armor of your home.

Your house is built to modulate the flow of heat, to preserve it in winter and banish it in summer. A window allows heat to act as it pleases.

Traditional windows are very easy to understand. They’re usually hinged encasements with one pane or two panes of glass, and that’s pretty much it. Energy efficient windows are much more technically advanced.

Standard windows are commonly made from clear glass. 

Cracks in the caulking of your windows allow heat to leak via convective drafts.

Solar radiation transforms bedrooms into ovens. In the winter, warmth in the air escapes by passing through thin glass into the Great and Snowy Outdoors.

 

Windows Can Make Your Home Energy Inefficient

All of these problems beset single-pane windows, which were once standard fare throughout all of America.

Although affordable, single-pane windows transmit heat and noise without putting up a fight.

One study estimates that a single-pane window allows 10 times as much heat to escape compared to the same area of insulated wall.

Another reports that 15-22% of a home’s heat escapes through the windows.

Such costs escalate into the hundreds of dollars per year, every year, without fail. Surely, there is some way to stop the flow of heat and cash?

large windows

 

How Do Energy Efficient Windows Work?

Energy efficient windows incorporate various types of different glazes to keep the weather outside from getting into your home.

Common glazing options for energy efficient windows include double clear, double tint and low-emittance coatings. Some manufacturers also employ different types of solar resistant film within the casing to reduce heat transfer.

 

Beating Conduction Heat Loss with Multi-Pane Windows

Standard windows – even windows that employ two panes of glass – are just that: pieces of glass with nothing between them.

A two-pane window is more energy efficient than a single pane window, but it can’t really be called an energy efficient window.

Welcome to double-pane windows.

Built like a sandwich, with a pad of gas between two glass sheets, double-pane windows can save you 20-30% on annual energy costs.

argon filled windows

Most double-pane windows use air for the inner gas. Some use argon gas for its greater insulation power, a property measured in “R-value.” When placed between two panes of a window, argon helps to improve the thermal performance of a piece of glass.

Top-tier manufacturers sell exorbitantly expensive triple-pane windows filled with krypton.

Multi-pane windows help prevent heat loss through conduction. Keep in mind, however, that not all double-pane windows are created equal. Your frame is important, too.

Cheap model frames are built from aluminum, a metal that conducts heat like a river conducts water.

A better framing option is vinyl, or higher quality materials (more on that in a minute).

 

Beating Radiation Heat Loss with Window Coverings and Coatings

Drapes, curtains or blinds help solve another problem: radiation.

When sunlight hits your glass window, some bounces off, some heats up the glass, and some passes into your home, where it fades furniture, warms the air and delights your cat.

Covering your windows with heavy drapes or curtains will further boost the R-value of your windows.

In hot, arid climates like Arizona, some homeowners fend off solar radiation by installing window awnings or overhangs, which are often made from metal or canvas.

Throughout the rest of the nation, homeowners use low-emissivity (low-E) window coatings.

These translucent coatings, thinner than a human air, reduce the heat re-emitted by warm windows, are usually applied to south-facing windows.

Other window coatings include reflective glazes, spectrally selective coatings and dark tints.

 

Beating Convection Heat Loss with Weather-stripping and Window Styles

Beating Convection Heat Loss on windows

How your windows are hung may help or hinder heat loss through convection, that is, air drafts.

Fixed windows, the ones that don’t open, are usually airtight. Other energy-efficient styles include awning, casement and hopper windows.

The most popular window styles, which are single- and double-hung and single- and double-sliding, rank at the bottom.

Traditionally, window frames are made of wood, and while wood window frames are built to and normally last for years, they don’t do much for energy efficiency within a home.

That’s why many manufacturers of energy efficient windows suggest using metal window frames with a thermal break or non-metal frames with thermal enhancements.

Without getting too technical, metal window frames with a thermal break split the frame into interior and exterior components and use a less conductive material to join them, reducing heat transfer.

Non-metal frames are typically made with composite materials or materials like fiberglass designed to look like wood that reduce the amount of dead space in the frame itself, helping to reduce overall heat transfer as a result.

 

How Helpful Are Energy Efficient Windows?

Energy efficient windows are a great way to reduce overall heating and cooling costs in your home and you’ll get back the money you spend in savings in a couple years’ time.

However, installing energy efficient windows can also help you do your part to keep the environment clean and green.

Older buildings and single-family homes alike can benefit from the environmental benefits and cost-savings offered by energy efficient windows.

If you already take steps to keep the earth green, installing energy efficient windows just makes sense.

Purchasing energy-efficient windows, like ENERGY STAR-certified double-pane windows, can save you hundreds of dollars in annual energy costs.

Recommended window designs and coatings vary by region, so talk with a local professional before spending $10,000 on retrofitting.


Editor’s Note: This post has been updated for freshness and consistency.

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