Ask Eco Ed: Still Cold at Home After Upgrading Windows?

Dear Eco-Ed:

In the past few weeks, my house has been very cold.  We replaced the windows last year to cut down on drafts, but that has not helped much.  It cost over $25,000, and we are at wits end on how to get comfortable.

– Hating the Cold in Glen Rock

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I’m Dreaming of a Green Christmas

Dear Eco-Ed:

For the Holidays, I wanted to set the right example for my children on how to view the holidays, appreciate what they have and also respect the planet.  Last year, they got a huge pile of gifts from friends and family, and I don’t want them to view the holidays as so materialistic.  Any suggestions?

-Remembering the Spirit of Christmas in Ridgewood

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Dear Eco Ed, I am fed up with these power outages!

Dear Eco-Ed:

I am fed up with these power outages!  This is our third one in two years, and we were out for 8 days this time (14 days after Hurricane Irene).  I’ve heard about generators, and the whole concept seems complicated.  I do not feel comfortable with one of those portable units with power cords running everywhere.  I went to Home Depot and they gave me pricing for a whole-house generator.  It was $14,000, and I’m not really sure what I’m getting, or if it is overkill.  They did not take any time to explain it to me.  They just gave me this price, and asked me if I wanted it, Yes or No.  Is this a good option?  Will it protect me in future storms?  Am I being unreasonable in my expectations?

– Confused in Glen Rock

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Green Divas Radio Show: Eco Ed Provides Tips to Prepare for the Winter

 

Green Divas Radio Show interviews Eco Ed on preparing a home for winter

Green Divas Radio Show is providing fresh ideas for sustainable living. Green Diva Megan McWilliams will be interviewing Eco Ed on ways to prepare your home for the winter. With today’s economic conditions, everyone could benefit from a reduced heating bill. Check out the podcast below.

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Top 10 Home Energy Saving Tips

Want to improve your home’s energy efficiency but you are unsure where to begin? A professional energy audit may be the first step for your home. Also, learn small projects you can do by yourself.
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Robert Kennedy Jr. and Eco Ed

Ed Schwartz and Robert Kennedy Jr.

Robert Kennedy, Jr., is an activist, environmental attorney and radio host. Mr. Kennedy and Eco Ed have worked together on common goals and environmental initiatives in the New Jersey and New York area.  They share the same passion for protecting our waters, through the Riverkeeper Alliances.

Ed Begley and Eco Ed Strive to Promote a Green World

Eco Ed & Ed Begley are seen laughing together on the subway.

Using his fame as an actor and environmental activist, Ed Begley, Jr. is on a “never-ending green streak.” Mr. Begley is vocal about conserving energy by taking action yourself. On one occasion, Mr. Begley spoke to USA Today to promote people biking to work to conserve energy and help reduce one’s carbon footprint.

Eco Ed and Ed Begley were seen laughing together on the metro in DC. Both Eds are asked to work together as environmental leaders to create innovative solutions that strive to make a green world.

See Ed Begley’s environmental website here

 

Ask Eco Ed: Is there a better way to dispose all those leaves?

Dear Eco-Ed:

I’ve been piling up all my leaves in the road.  Isn’t there a better way to dispose of them?  I’ve heard that the leaves can provide nutrients to my yard, and minimize the amount of chemical fertilizers that I’ll need to put in next year.

– Reducing Yard Waste

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Beat the Summer Heat and Keep Utility Costs Down!

Dear Eco-Ed:

My central air has been straining to keep our home bearable over the past few weeks.  We just got our PSE&G bill, which is ridiculous.  Is there anything we can do that will address both of these issues?

– Too Hot to Handle in Ridgewood


Dear Too Hot to Handle:

Beat the Summer Heat

Is your central air draining your wallet? Feel hopeless? Eco Ed addresses how to reduce the summer energy bill

We have had 4 official “heat waves” this summer so far.  And is doesn’t look like it will be getting cooler any time soon.  First of all, be glad that we are starting to get some rain.  Adding drought conditions and high water costs to the mix doesn’t make things any easier.  There are many areas to target to beat the heat and control your costs.

–        Be sure that your cooling equipment is properly maintained, refrigerant levels are good, filters are changed, etc.  Older and less efficient systems can also be using a lot of energy without delivering cool air properly.  An efficient system keeps you cooler, at a lower cost.

–        Improve insulation levels in your home, to keep the heat out.  Before you do this though, see the next tip:

–        Get a home energy audit.  This will identify where heat is getting in, cold air is escaping, assess the condition of your air conditioning/heating systems, along with many of the other items.  Proper insulation and air sealing is important in summer months as well as winter also.  It keeps the heat out in the summer, along with the cold in winter.  The good news here is that the State has a program called Home Performance with Energy Star, which will offset some of the costs of energy improvements for homeowners.  Currently, rebates are up to $5,000 per house, plus interest-free loans of up to another $10,000 for qualified homeowners!

–        Use a programmable thermostat.  If you have a formal schedule, lower your air conditioning (and heat in winter) in the hours while you are away.  Set them to bring it back to comfortable levels by the time you come home.  If your thermostat is manual, then raise it when you leave.  Keep in mind that if you have a heat pump, they work more efficiently at relatively steady temperatures.  Why pay to keep you home cool all day if no one is home?

**NOTE – WHEN REPLACING OLDER MERCURY (TYPICALLY CIRCULAR) THERMOSTATS, DISPOSE OF THEM AT HAZARDOUS WASTE PICK UP SITES BY BERGEN COUNTY UTILITY AUTHORITY, AS THEY CONTAIN HIGH AMOUNTS OF MERCURY WHICH IS SEALED INSIDE A GLASS BULB.

–        Follow the sun – draw blinds or curtains to minimize direct sunshine.  This heats up floors and furniture very quickly.  Eastern (early morning sun) windows should be drawn early, and western exposures later in the day.  For a more long term solution, plant shade trees and shrubs in proper areas to provide this benefit for you.

–        Keep lights and other electric appliances off, and switch to compact fluorescent and LED bulbs.  They use 75% less energy, but have another benefit.  Have you ever touched a light bulb? 90% of its energy is used to create heat.  This heat is being dissipated into your living space constantly.  All those bulbs add up in a hurry, and increase the burden on your cooling system.

–        Use solar lights in your yard to minimize electricity used at night.  The selection is becoming greater and quality is improving constantly.  Start small and add lighting features as desired.

–        Take a nice cold shower.  It’s refreshing and lowers your body temperature, without using much hot water.  By doing this, you can keep your home a couple of degrees warmer and still remain comfortable.

–        Do your laundry in cold water.  Newer, front loading machines with proper detergents get the same results with cold water.  Always do full loads of laundry to keep water and energy use down.

–        Dishwashers, dryers, and other heat producing appliances could be used at night, when it is cooler.  Just as with your laundry, wash dishes only when you have a full load.

In addition to all of the above, see if your home is a good solar energy candidate.  If so, this can offset some of your electric costs.  Aside from being good for the environment, solar panels can be a good investment and improve the value of your home.

Ask Eco Ed your own question <<>> Read the Ask Eco Ed Column

Energy Efficiency and Sustainability Guidelines for Historical Homes

Ask Eco Ed transformed his 245 year-old Victorian home into “The Most Energy Efficient Historic Home in NJ.” His home generates money through its energy bill (+$2000), maintains a comfortable temperature, and is safe against dangerous molds and toxins that are common in old homes.

There are always inexpensive and easy renovations that can be made to improve a home. These small projects can help you avoid expensive projects that are burdensome financially and emotionally. Ed provides other renovation tips that he has learned through his years of experience. Ed’s knowledge is here to help you, so you can do it right the first time.

Read the Energy efficiency and sustainability guidelines for Historical Homes.

Remember, feel free to contact Ed and ask him a question about your home. He will provide a professional response that will help save you time and money.