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Tips on Saving Money and Energy at Home

April 23, 2014

save-energy-at-home

An energy-efficient home will keep your family comfortable while saving you money. Whether you take simple steps or make larger investments to make your home more efficient, you’ll see lower energy bills. Over time, those savings will typically pay for the cost of improvements and put money back in your pocket. Your home may also be more attractive to buyers when you sell.

The 113 million residences in America today collectively use an estimated 22% of the country’s energy. Unfortunately, a lot of energy is wasted through leaky windows or ducts, old appliances, or inefficient heating and cooling systems. When we waste energy in our homes, we are throwing away money that could be used for other things. The typical U.S. family spends at least $2,000 a year on home utility bills. You can lower this amount by up to 25% through following the Long Term Savings Tips in this guide.

The key to these savings is to take a whole-house approach — by viewing your home as an energy system with interdependent parts. For example, your heating system is not just a furnace — it’s a heat-delivery system that starts at the furnace and delivers heat throughout your home using a network of ducts. Even a top-of-the-line, energy-efficient furnace will waste a lot of fuel if the ducts, walls, attic, windows, and doors are leaky or poorly insulated. Taking a whole-house approach to saving energy ensures that dollars you invest to save energy are spent wisely.

Tips to Save Energy Today

Easy low-cost and no-cost ways to save energy.

  • Install a programmable thermostat to lower utility bills and manage your heating and cooling systems efficiently.
  • Air dry dishes instead of using your dishwasher’s drying cycle.
  • Turn things off when you are not in the room such as lights, TVs, entertainment systems, and your computer and monitor.
  • Plug home electronics, such as TVs and DVD players, into power strips; turn the power strips off when the equipment is not in use — TVs and DVDs in standby mode still use several watts of power.
  • Lower the thermostat on your water heater to 120°F.
  • Take short showers instead of baths and use low-flow showerheads for additional energy savings.
  • Wash only full loads of dishes and clothes.
  • Air dry clothes.
  • Check to see that windows and doors are closed when heating or cooling your home.
  • Drive sensibly; aggressive driving such as speeding, and rapid acceleration and braking, wastes fuel.
  • Look for the ENERGY STAR® label on light bulbs, home appliances, electronics, and other products. ENERGY STAR products meet strict efficiency guidelines set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy.
(original article)

8 Bath Design Trends for 2014

April 21, 2014

When it comes to kitchen and bath design trends for both single-family and multifamily residences, contemporary is in, with clean, minimal lines and little ornamentation.

Universal design amenities and easy-maintenance features are also trending, according to a recent survey of more than 420 kitchen and bath design professionals by the National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA).

This year, consumers want kitchens that have “simple lines and not as much frou-frou, and are more about good storage and space planning,” summed up one NKBA designer.

Consumers want bathrooms to be “spaces to retreat and relax,” commented one member, “with luxurious details whenever possible.” Another sees “a general move toward simplicity in style, minimal color, but maximizing the features and storage.”

They are also demanding more universal design features. Fifty-seven percent of NKBA designers specified accessible or universal design features in bathrooms in 2013, and 56% incorporated them into kitchens. A majority of respondents anticipate adding more of these features, such as shower benches, comfort-height toilets, and vanities in baths; and microwave drawers and touch-activated or touch-less kitchen faucets in 2014.

The demand for easy maintenance spaces and products is also growing.

Bathroom design trends

1. Beige, bone and gray are hot and getting hotter

Beige and bone color schemes, with white fixtures and polished chrome faucets were popular designs in 2013. Gray, the third most popular color scheme in 2013, will be by far the fastest growing in 2014, according to 58% of designer respondents.
Photo Credit:David Bagosy Photography 

2. Universal design is becoming more universal

Fifty-seven percent of NKBA respondents specified bathrooms they described as universal design/accessible in 2013. And 60% anticipate doing more in 2014.
Photo: Bob Greenspan

3. Soaking tubs are in the spotlight

Fully 64% of NKBA designers specified a soaking tub in a master bath, with 42% expecting that trend to accelerate in 2014.
Preferences lean towards free-standing non-jetted tubs.
Photo credit: Troy Thies

4. Shower seating is here to stay

About a third of designers included lighting in showers; and 70% included benches or seats. Both are expected to increase in 2014.
Photo credit: Bernard André Photography

5. Radiant floors may be heating up

Electric radiant floor heating was specified by 55% of respondents and half see it increasing in 2014.
Photo credit: Dave Adams Photography

6. Steam showers are gaining steam

Twice as many respondents specified steam showers as whirlpools for master baths in 2013.  Forty-four percent of respondents see the demand for steam showers increasing in 2014.
Photo credit: Troy Thies

7. No holding back on no-threshold showers

Approximately half of NKBA respondents specified no-threshold showers, and seven out of 10 expect to do more in 2014.
Photo credit:  Jason Karman

8. Comfort is key when it comes to toilets and vanities

Eighty-four percent specified comfort height toilets and 81% comfort height vanities in 2013. Almost two-thirds see them increasing in 2014.
Photo credit: PreviewFirst.com

Early Heating Equipment Replacement Rebate For Massachusetts Residents

April 18, 2014

heating-rebate

Due to the success of the 2013 program, Mass Save sponsors are once again offering incentives to eligible customers who want to upgrade their outdated, but functioning heating equipment!

Up to $4,000 for a new Boiler or up to $1,000 for a new Furnace!

In effect as of April 15, 2014!

For a limited time, generous rebates are being offered to residential customers replacing 30+ year old boilers or 12+ year old furnaces!

Here’s what needs to happen next!

  • Customer must schedule a Mass Save Home Energy Services Program Site Visit from this date forward through September 30, 2014, prior to replacing their boiler or furnace
  • New, eligible equipment must be installed by October 31, 2014
  • Completed Rebate Form and a dated contractor invoice, noting the completion of the installation, must be submitted by October 31, 2014

 

Know the requirements!

  • Fuel switching/conversion is NOT eligible for this offer
  • Distribution change/conversion is NOT eligible for this offer
  • At the time of the Site Visit, the customer must have an existing, functional boiler (at least 30 years old) or furnace (at least 12 years old)
  • Existing boiler or furnace must be fueled by natural gas, propane or oil
  • Equipment must be installed in a 1-4 family home
  • Applicants must be a residential customer of a Mass Save sponsor
  • Municipal Electric customers must heat with natural gas provided by a participating Gas Utility (oil or propane systems are not eligible for this offer in Municipal Electric towns)

For additional information about the rebates and eligibility requirements see below or click here for printable version.

Note: Customers receiving the Early Boiler Replacement Rebate or the Early Furnace Replacement Rebate are NOT eligible for any other Mass Save or GasNetworks heating equipment rebates on installed equipment.

Know the incentives!

rebate-incentives

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  • Bathrooms
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Heating

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