This Earth Day – on Wednesday, April 22 – will mark 50 years since the initiative began in an effort to draw attention and consciousness to the state of our planet. 

“On April 22, 1970, 20 million Americans — 10% of the U.S. population at the time — took to the streets, college campuses and hundreds of cities to protest environmental ignorance and demand a new way forward for our planet.”1

Today, more and more initiatives are popping up in an effort to protect our planet. One trend in recent years has been smart home features that save money and the earth.

Here are 5 ways you can take part in a smarter, more energy efficient home that will benefit you and our planet.

  1. Cool roof- Yes, these are cool, but we actually mean temperature-cool. These roofs help deflect sunlight and decrease the temperature of your roof as a whole, which will also keep the temperature in your home lower as well. According to Energy Star, some benefits include:
    • A reduction of energy use by 15%
    • A decrease in air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions
    • A means of cooling one’s house without air conditioning
    • Reduction of carbon emissions

Yes, it’s expensive, but it will pay for itself sooner than later.

  • Skylights– Natural light is always beautiful and timeless in any home. In addition, you can bring sunshine in without using energy or lighting materials. The U.S. Department of Energy recommends that a skylight be:
    • No bigger than five percent of the floor area in a room with many windows.
    • No bigger than 15 percent of the floor area in a room with almost no windows.
  • LED’s- LED lights consume less energy, burn just as brightly, and don’t give off as much heat making these a great choice for your home. You can swap them in your home, including your appliances.
  • Energy Star appliances-  Appliances can consume a lot of energy, especially if you have older ones. Consider updating to newer models that will help with savings. If the ticket price concerns you, consider these stats:
    • Energy Star refrigerators are 20% more efficient.
    • Their dishwashers are about 10% more efficient.
    • The washing machines use 50% less water and 30% less energy, which can save about $50 per year.
    • Energy Star fans used in bathrooms and above stoves use 70% less energy.
  • Solar panels – Florida, the Sunshine State, is one area where solar panels might make a lot of sense for homeowners. For starters, installing residential solar panels is a 30% federal tax credit on the total cost of a system. 

References:

1Earthday.org

2Energy Star

In our last blog, we suggested taking time to select custom touches to finish your home and make it uniquely yours. Because the kitchen is the heart of the home, we wanted to share even more ideas that will make your custom kitchen functional and glamorous.

  1. Creative storage spaces- There are so many options when it comes to building custom cabinets that will keep your kitchen organized. Are you a wino? Consider a custom wine rack drawer to store your favorite whites and reds. Are you an avid baker? A custom tray divider will organize all your baking sheets. Other popular options include spice rack drawers or small pullouts for utensils. Another great idea- a divider drawer for pots and pans lids.  
  2. Charging station- Between phones and tablets, we like to stay fully charged at all times. Building a docking drawer with a hidden charge station will keep your technology charged but out of sight. Now you can check your phone, search for new recipes and still prepare dinner.
  3. Pop-up outlets- Looking for a way to hide your outlets? Pop-up outlets disappear into the countertop and can be especially useful in places where there are no wall cabinets to hide a plug molding strip. Effective and attractive, now that’s a dynamin duo almost as great as PB&J.
  4. Task lighting – Task lighting will illuminate your countertops to make it easier to see your food. It also looks beautiful, especially at dusk. Just make sure to install it toward the front of your cabinets so that it highlights the backsplash tile and not the counter.
  5. Hide the dishwasher- Paneling your dishwasher will provide a clean, harmonious look by hiding the stainless steel. It doesn’t have to stop there. You can also consider paneling the refrigerator as well.
  6. Wine coolers- What’s the fun of having a beautiful, custom home and never celebrating it? Life is full of exciting moments worth celebrating, so why not have a cooler stocked full of your favorite wines you can pull out when guests are over, you’ve had a hard day, or just want to enjoy a night in.

What is one custom touch you would love to have in your kitchen? Contact us today to discuss how we can help you make it happen!

Here’s comes Peter Cotton Tail. And if you are hosting Easter brunch this year, pretty soon, guests will be hopping down your….well, driveway. Don’t let the stress of hosting get the best of you. Follow these easy tips to successfully host an Easter brunch that will leave every bunny very hoppy.

Food

  • Combine homemade with not-so-homemade– Don’t feel as though you have to make everything from scratch. Create a list of the foods you want to serve and determine what and where you can save time. Pre-made options can include:
    • Smoked lox, shrimp or whitefish, served with crackers, cucumbers, tomatoes and cream cheese
    • A variety of cheese and crackers
    • Pre-sliced fruit platters
    • Pre-made meats
    • Pre-made croissants, breads, quiches from a local bakery
  • Prepare the day before– A lot of the foods you decide to serve can likely be prepared the night before. One example, deviled eggs, an Easter classic. Hard-boil the eggs the night before and store the peeled eggs in a container that can be pulled out the next day.
  • Be smart with food selections– Save yourself the stress. Only select foods to serve that are easy to prep, can be premade, or purchased from a local store. One example, quiche or breakfast casserole. Casseroles are very easy to make in a crockpot the night before, while many bakeries can prepare delicious quiches in a variety of flavors.
  • Balance sweet and savory– Appease everyone’s taste buds by having options for savory and sweet. For guests with a sweet tooth, in addition to the delicious foods you’ll be serving, consider a pancake station with toppings such as chocolate chips, Nutella, peanut butter, jams,

Décor and Fun

  • Set the mood with centerpieces – There are a million ideas on Pinterestto help you find the right centerpiece concept for you. FromDIYto elegant spring floral arrangements,there is something for everyone and every budget.
  • Hidden eggs (or candy) – Have some fun hiding eggs around the home, or at least in the areas you’ve had time to clean ahead of time (are we right? Or are we right?). Send kids on a hunt to find the eggs and the one who finds the most, can be awarded a prize. Or, consider hiding candies.
  • Add colorful plates and napkins- Consider adding a pop of spring color to the table with pastel colored plates or napkins.
  • Entertain the kids – Consider having games, coloring books, and entertainment handy for any kids attending. With nice weather, you can also consider sidewalk chalk, bubbles or outdoor toys as well to keep kids and parents happy.

No matter how you decorate, or what you cook, just remember to focus on family, memories and the reason behind Easter is what matters most. Happy Easter from our families to yours!