Wednesday, May 5, 2010

ROI: Real or Imagined?

Many people, particularly salesman, like to talk about ROI (return on investment) when discussing "green" home improvements. ROI is a compelling consideration for homeowners wishing to get more value for their dollar. Buyer beware, however, for often the actual savings from energy efficient improvements fall short of their projections.

Solar, on-demand water heaters, windows and high-efficiency furnaces all fall in this category for Californians. The one true area of home improvement that will pay off - insulation!

An often low cost home improvement, insulation done professionally, has a greater propencity for reducing utility costs than many of "Green's" iconic home renovations. So the next time someone tries to sell you a home improvement based on ROI, start the interrogation!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Who's going to do the dishes?

I was talking to someone the other day about my kitchen remodel and the topic of dishwashers came up. A traditionalist, he mentioned that dishwashers are less water efficient than washing by hand.

It seems counter-intuitive that by buying another appliance you could be saving energy, but it's true! So, if you're planning to remodel your kitchen or finally taking this step toward automation, rest assured that this is one machine that is truly guilt free.

Recent dishwashers are incredibly energy efficient and use less water and less hot water (therefore less gas) to wash those pots and pans than washing by hand. Studies vary, but the average result is around 6 times more efficient.

There are some ways to model perfect dishwashing behavior though:

1. Run your dishwasher at night, during off-peak energy hours
2. Let your dishwasher air dry the dishes, rather than heat dry them.
3. Keep your dishwasher decalcified, by running a rinse with distilled vinegar through it periodically.
4. Replace your old dishwashers without the Energy Star labels.

I, for one, am looking forward to my new dishwasher. I'm tired of those dishpan hands!