Energy saving lamp with green seedling on white

1)  To uncover insulation-poor spots in your home that leak heat in the chilly winter months, a spot infrared thermometer will be your new best friend.  Aim this $30 gadget at a bit of wall or ceiling to locate cold patches that could use extra insulation or caulking.  Before these were around, you would have to call a professional to perform an energy audit on your home (which could cost hundreds of dollars), but now you can take matters into your own hands.

2)  Your electricity bill probably jumps in the summer months due to air conditioning. What you may not have considered is how effective ceiling fans are as an alternative to the AC. Unlike regular fans, their raised and central position allows them to circulate air and cool an entire room, and a typical ceiling fan uses about the same amount of power as a 100-watt incandescent light bulb. Even if you already have an AC for unbearably hot days, you can also purchase an Energy Star-rated ceiling fan, for energy savings all year round.

3)   Low-e (low-emissivity) windows are windows where the glass has been treated with a special metallic coating that allows them to be more insulating, therefore, much more energy-efficient, reducing the amount of mechanical heating and cooling that you need. In order to improve the thermal efficiency of the window, a thin layer of coating is applied to the glass’ surface, resulting in glass that cuts back the amount of UV and infrared radiation that is able to shine into your home in the hot summer months, and also allowing less radiant heat to escape through your windows during the winter months. Many low-e windows are Energy Star qualified and can lower your monthly electricity bill up to 15%. Almost every window size and shape today comes in a low-e version and these products can also make your home more comfortable in the winter by keep drafts at bay and keep your furniture from fading due to sunlight since they reflect the long-wave light rays that carry UV.

4)  Large windows are considered a plus for their ability to help light your home, but they do have a downside – they allow heat to escape in the winter, while excess heat builds up in the summer from solar radiation. Excess solar radiation in the summer drastically increases your need for AC, and by default, cranks up the numbers on your monthly electricity bill. Installing Low-e windows is one viable option to prevent excess solar heat gain, but if you’re looking for a less resource-intensive fix, cellular shades are relatively inexpensive and you can install them yourself. Also called honeycomb blinds, cellular shades are made up of two layers of fabric that are joined together at the seams so that when the shade is pulled down, excess solar radiation is shut out, and pockets of air are created to insulate your room. The soft, double-layered fabric keeps too much heat from coming in while still allowing daylight. They also help keep your space warm by preventing heat from escaping through your windows on chilly winter nights.

5)   Energy-saving products don’t have to be high-tech or costly. Case in point: draft guards are as elementary as they are effective. Draft protectors slip right under your doors and (as their name implies) prevent air from passing under them, ensuring that you’re only paying to heat or cool the rooms that you intend to.

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Conscious Group is proud to partner with Environmental Learning for Kids.  ELK is an inclusive non-profit organization that develops inspired and responsible leaders through science education and outdoor experiences for underserved, urban youth ages 5-25.

Underserved, culturally diverse youth in Arapahoe, Adams and Denver Counties do not have the same opportunities to succeed and thrive as other youth. There are far more opportunities in urban neighborhoods to skip school and join gangs than there are to become a contributing part of the community.  Eighty percent of the students that ELK works with in school programs, mostly in Denver, Commerce City and Aurora, qualify for free or reduced lunches.

Through Learning Environmental Activities for Families (LEAF), ELK’s family-based program, ELK encourages parents to experience the outdoors with their children. Parents are invited to attend all ELK activities.  As an additional source of support for students, ELK’s Youth in Natural Resources (YNR) program offers leadership development, mentoring and one-to-one assistance as students prepare for college. To date, ELK has helped secure $70,000 in scholarships for students to attend college.

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Priscilla Alcocer, a 12 year old ELK student said, “I’m only 12, and I know what college I want to go to. I know what I want to do with my life. ELK taught me you’re never too young or old to try something new or think about your future.”

I am inspired by organizations such as this that provide education and better options for our next generation.  You may donate to Environmental Learning for Kids, volunteer, or enroll your child.  Follow ELK on Facebook and Twitter to receive updates about the great work they are doing in our community!

For just $250, one student can participate in ELK activities for a year. A gift of $100 will provide 25 students with the opportunity to experience the outdoors on an ELK field trip.

As always, Conscious Real Estate contributes 10% of all commissions to the nonprofit of your choice, and ELK is a great choice!  Let’s make positive changes together in the community when you buy or sell your next home with Conscious Real Estate.  Call Allison Parks at 303-908-9873 or email allison@theconsciousgroup.com.

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Conscious Real Estate is proud to announce a partnership with the Colorado Alliance for Environmental Education. CAEE is a professional organization for environmental educators, which facilitates communication, cooperation, collaboration, and coordination among the varied environmental education programs in the state.

Environmental education is a life-long learning process that increases awareness about the environment and its systems while developing critical-thinking skills that enable responsible decision-making.  Environmental education builds knowledge and skills in the sciences, social sciences, and humanities, and allows opportunities to apply those skills.

Environmental education also fosters a connection to the community and civic responsibility by developing environmental literacy, which is the capacity to understand the implications of our actions, to critically think about daily choices, and to make informed and responsible decisions.  Reaching this level of understanding and developing these skills on a large scale is only possible through quality education.

We need environmental education if we continue to expect the people of Colorado to make tough choices about environmental issues (i.e., water use, air pollution, development, transportation, etc.)  We are lucky to live in such a beautiful state, and it’s important to bring environmental awareness and education to our current and future generations.

If you need additional motivation to support CAEE, watch this controversial commercial from Toys R Us which all but denounces not just environmental education, but education in general.  Parents have to compete with such enticing ads to keep their children engaged in healthy activities, as obesity rises in our country and the educational system declines.  Even Stephen Colbert had to take a stab at this one!

Become a member, donate, or volunteer with the Colorado Alliance for Environmental Education and follow CAEE on Facebook or Twitter to receive updates on the great work they are doing in our community.

Remember:  Conscious Real Estate always contributes 10% of commissions to the nonprofit of your choice when you buy or sell a home with our realtors, so you can make a generous donation to great organizations in our community like CAEE.

If you can donate any technology items or office supplies, The Wish List for CAEE currently includes:  projector, computer speakers, recent computers and laptops, Adobe InDesign software, Laptop cases/bags, Wireless mouse, laminator, colored paper, copy paper, paper shredder, flip chart paper, easels, Avery labels, Avery name tag holder, Avery name tag inserts, Spray Mount, Post It Notes, Tools (hammer, nails, etc.), Standing lamps, light bulbs, Vacuum, Room Air Conditioner, Fans, Plastic Bins, Tupperware, Set of knives, Folding Tables, Folding Chairs, Cutting Boards, Meeting Space, Small Moving Dollies, and Wheeled Storage for Events.

Please email info@caee.org to donate these items.

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Many of us who live in central Denver live in a little slice of history – our Victorians, Denver squares, Tudors, Craftsman bungalows, the occasional 1920’s Spanish-style – (sigh…) I adore these homes, mine was built in 1899, but they tend to not be so energy-efficient.

Here are 6 tips to make your older home more energy efficient:

1.    Owner of older home should make sure attic spaces are properly insulated. This can have a tremendous impact on a home’s energy-efficiency, and significantly reduce heating and cooling costs. There are many blow-in spray foam options:  insulating an attic can be a fairly easy project, and many home improvement stores rent the necessary equipment, including insulation blowers.  It is also easy to simply use roll-out insulation.

2.    Replace old windows and doors and choose new, energy efficient options.  Since this is expensive, adding storm shutters and clear plastic coating to windows can help an old home be more efficient.  For homeowners who can’t afford to replace doors and windows, adding window stripping and caulk is a good idea.

3.    Insulate the hot water heater and associated pipes, and keep the thermostat set at 120 degrees Fahrenheit. If possible, consider a tankless water-heating unit. This is an upfront investment, which saves money in the long-term, because they only heat water when it’s needed.

4.    Enact home heating zones. This means strategizing to heat a home based on usage. For example, heat the downstairs of an old home during the day, and the upstairs at night.

5.    If an old home has old appliances, it may be worthwhile to invest in newer energy saving models. While there are some things owners of older homes can’t control without big remodeling investments, this is a less expensive alternative.

6.    Just because a home is old doesn’t mean it can’t take advantage of new technology, like home automation systems. A home automation system can allow owners of older homes to control the systems located within, even remotely, including the thermostat.

If you are interested in purchasing or selling a historic Denver home, Conscious Real Estate adores working with all types of old houses. Call Allison Parks at 303-908-9873 or email allison@theconsciousgroup.com.