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Archive for January, 2011

January 31st, 2011
By Vivian Martin

Paul Anater, a designer and blogger of impeccable taste had the great fortune of attending the IMM in Cologne, Germany. Thanks to Houzz for providing an excellent forum for “idea books” for all of our inspiration!

Paul’s post…

Last week I was one of 100,000 design fans from around the world who descended on Cologne, Germany for the Internationale Möbelmesse, or IMM. Along with the Salone di Mobile which is held every year in Milan, the IMM is considered to be the world’s premiere furniture and design trade show.

IMM is a massive show, much larger and better organized than its counterparts in the US. It was a trend watcher’s amusement park, and although much of what I saw may never cross the Atlantic, many of the overriding themes and trends I saw will.

I was one of six U.S.-based design bloggers brought to IMM by Blanco, a German sink and faucet manufacturer. I took these photos as I walked around the show on Thursday and Friday last week. Can you see any of the trends I’ll identify here working their way into your design? If you’re a member of Houzz’s international community, are any of these trends already part of your country’s design scene?

January 30th, 2011
By Vivian Martin

The BC government is phasing out the old inefficient incandescent light bulbs, as a way to help us save money and become more energy efficient, but as a result, there’s a lot of myth-making going on about the compact fluorescent bulbs. Here’s a quick guide to help you discuss them with a disgruntled workmate or neighbour.

Myth #1. The old incandescent bulbs have been banned.

This is simply not true – the new regulations simply govern light bulbs in the 75-100 watt range. Philips has a range of Halogena Energy Advantage bulbs that are dimmable, contain no mercury, and meet the new standard.  

Myth #2. The waste heat from the old bulbs helps heat my home, reducing the amount of natural gas I need to burn.

It is true that the old incandescent bulbs produce waste heat – this is why they are so inefficient as lights. If you’re burning gas for heat, the argument goes, removing the bulbs means burning more gas, increasing your greenhouse gases. 

But let’s pause to think. Electricity in North America is constantly traded across borders. BC Hydro imports between 5% and 15% of its electricity, depending on the depth of snowpack, mostly from coal and gas-fired power in the US. When we use less power, it’s the imported power that we reduce, so even if the new bulbs increase the use of gas, this is balanced by the decreased use of imported coal and gas fired power. Also, since most bulbs are close to the ceiling, the waste heat rises, where it’s neither useful nor near the thermostat that regulates gas heating. In warmer months, it’s just waste heat, plain and simple.

80% of British Columbians are already using CFLs, resulting in 600 gigawatt hours of electricity savings per year, the same as the electricity consumed by more than 50,000 homes. If this came from a mix of imported coal and gas-fired power, it would generate 400,000 tonnes of greenhouse gases (GHGs) a year.

The belief that using the new light bulbs will cause BC’s GHGs to rise comes from measuring our GHGs as a strictly provincial affair, excluding our imported power. As soon as BC is 100% self-sufficient in green power, the energy saved by using the new bulbs will allow more green power to be exported, helping to reduce the need for coal and gas-fired power outside BC.   

Myth #3. They contain mercury! 

Yes, they do contain a tiny amount of mercury. Tuna contains mercury too, which comes from the air pollution that coal-fired power plants produce. Francis Rubinstein from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory found that if you broke a bulb and did a good job of cleaning up, your mercury exposure would be like taking a tiny nibble of tuna. If you closed all the doors and smashed the bulb with a hammer, it would be like eating a can of tuna, since fish absorb the mercury in air pollution from coal-fired power.

So it’s no big deal, unless you make a daily habit of smashing the bulbs. If you do break one, open a window, leave the room for 15 minutes, and then brush up the waste – don’t vacuum it. For more safety details, see www.bit.ly/CFLsafety, and the Environmental Working Group’s Guide.

In 2009, the US-based Environmental Working Group produced a Shopper’s Guide to Light Bulbs, and recommended seven bulbs which have the lowest mercury and also last the longest: the Earthmate Mini-Size, Litetronics Neolite, Sylvania Micro-Mini, Sylvania DURA-ONE, Feit EcoBulb, MaxLite, and Philips with Alto.

Myth #4.  They produce a sickly flickering pale light.

Yes, it’s true – some do. So don’t buy those ones! Buy quality bulbs! If you want warm yellow light, look for ones labeled with a lower colour temperature (Kelvin) around 3,000. If you want a white light, look for bulbs marked “daylight, with a high colour temperature around 5,000. Here is another useful guide to buying a CFL bulb, which also has lots of good advice from on-line readers.

Myth #5. They don’t work with dimmers.

True in 2007, but not today. If you want a CFL bulb that works with a dimmer switch, they’re more expensive (and waste more energy), but you can buy one.

Myth #6. They don’t last as long as promised.

In California, the utility PG&E found that instead of 9.4 years of useful life, the reality is closer to 6.3 years, with a faster burn-out rate in certain locations such as bathrooms and recessed lighting. But a regular light bulb burns out after 1,000 hours, so the new bulbs still last six times longer.

Myth #7. They don’t come on immediately.

No longer true in most cases. In my home, all but two of our 47 CFLs come on almost immediately.

Myth #8. There’s no safe disposal mechanism.

For sure there is – recycling programs for residential CFLs are mandated by provincial regulation. You can find the nearest recycling drop-off at www.productcare.org/lights

Myth #9. They produce “dirty electricity”.

This refers to the myth that the new bulbs produce harmful electromagnetic radiation, and the experience that some people have a bad reaction to the UV light. It does appear that some people who suffer from lupus and certain skin conditions can be negatively affected by some bulbs, in which case they should buy a bulb marked as low UV, with a glass cover. For the vast majority of people, who have been using billions of bulbs all over the world for many years, there are no negative health effects.  

Myth #10. They don’t work in really cold weather.

This is generally true – so look for ones with a special cold cathode weather ballast, which are good down to -23ºC.    

How Much Will I Save?

BC Hydro says that if the average household replaced all its incandescent bulbs with CFLs, it would save 830 kWh a year, which comes to around $60. BC Hydro’s CFL Fact Sheet says that replacing one incandescent bulb with a CFL will save $52 in electricity over the life of the bulb. BC Hydro says that 80% of British Columbians are already using CFLs, that we are already realizing 600 gigawatt hours of electricity savings per year, the equivalent energy consumption of more than 50,000 homes. 

For more good information about the new light bulbs, see BC Hydro’s Guide

What about LED lighting?

LED (light emitting diode) bulbs are more efficient than CFLs – but they are still very expensive ($20-$40), and their light is still very focused and limited. Prices will fall, and the technology will improve; in ten years they may well be the #1 bulbs.

So remind me – why are the old inefficient bulbs being phased out? They use four times more energy than the CFL bulbs, so making the switch plays a small but important role in helping us save energy, save  money, reduce the use of coal-fired power, and protect our children’s future. And that has my whole-hearted support.

Article Souce: Author Guy Dauncey, President of the BC Sustainable Energy Association. www.bcsea.org

January 29th, 2011
By Vivian Martin
www.DrummondHousePlans.com - Plan # 3820

www.DrummondHousePlans.com - Plan # 3820

The modest construction budget of this house, coupled with its exterior volumes and an interesting interior making maximum use of space, earn it the undeniable title of “sure value”.

The garage, thanks to its depth, proposes stairs to the basement while a covered L-shaped porch equalizes the exterior look.

Inside, spaces are efficiently located around the staircase which allows maximum use of available space.  On the main level the foyer, living room and main activity center located at the rear are all particularly bright and of good size.  Note a much appreciated shower in the half-bath/laundry facilities room located on the main level.

On the second level, the staircase’s location once again allows for a maximum use of space for three bedrooms, one of which is the master bedroom with large closet.  The bathroom layout suggests a separate corner bath and shower, a feature popular with many homeowners.

For more details on this plan, click here…

Looking for other country-style or farmhouse-style plans? Check our Country-Style House Plan Collection,  or Create  a “New House Plans – Latest Trends” Alert to receive all of the latest designs direct to you by email!

Thanks for visiting the DrummondHousePlans Blog!

January 28th, 2011
By Vivian Martin

Relaxation can be achieved in a variety of forms. For today we put together a collection of 30 amazing bathroom designs that are meant to release pressure. Whether it is the shape of the bathtub that makes a difference, the inspiring decorative objects or the view that can be admired, these bathrooms all have something in common with relaxation. Some interiors are rich in green arrangements, which add freshness and invigorate the place. We also tried to find a few bathroom designs that have a special color theme. We noticed that wood has a great effect in modern decors- take the first picture for example- as it adds authenticity and personality.

Windows are also of major importance, as they have a huge influence on the aesthetics and atmosphere of a room. Diagonal windows add a dramatic touch and are welcomed in case there is an inclined wall near by. Most of the bathrooms in the pictures below are modern, but you will also notice a few classic elements that combine perfectly with the contemporary arrangements. Have a look and tell us what you think about this collection of bathroom designs.

To visit the entire Bathroom Design Idea gallery from Freshome, click here. Take your time as each image has a lot to offer.

January 27th, 2011
By Vivian Martin

Not all of our readers live in earthquake zones but coastal BC is very much aware of the need to be prepared for ‘the big one’. A province-wide initiative resulted in Canada’s largest earthquake drill on January 26, 2011.

Spearheaded by The Great British Columbia Shakeout, nearly half a million people participated in an earthquake drill. The key advice during a quake? Drop, cover, and hold on!

The Province did a followup article with some practical tips on what to do to further prepare for and reduce damage to persons and property…

Drop, cover and hold on

Photograph by: The Great B.C. ShakeOut, CHBC News

Drop, cover and hold.

That’s what thousands of B.C. residents did on Wednesday morning as part of a province-wide earthquake drill.

ShakeOut B.C., which was organized by the B.C. Earthquake Alliance, aims to increase earthquake awareness and emergency preparedness.

While earthquakes are infrequent in the Okanagan, they do occur from time to time.  Wednesday’s drill was the largest earthquake drill in Canadian history.

Here are some tips on how to reduce the risk of damage if an earthquake were to strike:

• Strap your water heater to the wall

• Locate and know how to turn off your electrical system at the main circuit breaker or fuse box

• Move or secure objects that could fall on you such as books, plants or dishes

• Secure heavy objects such as bookcases or top-heavy furniture

• Remove or isolate flammable materials

• Do not place your bed near a window or hang heavy objects such as mirrors or paintings in a position where they could fall on the bed

• Secure TVs and computers

• Keep a fire extinguisher in your home

• Locate your home’s emergency exits and fire alarms

• Pack an emergency survival kit that contains food, sleeping bags, medication, first-aid supplies and bottled water

• Keep a battery-powered radio, flashlight and extra batteries on hand

Further resources on how to prepare for earthquakes can be found at The Great British Columbia Shakeout. Also, it is a great idea to have an emergency kit and plan no matter where you live. The Government of Canada website has great emergency preparedness resources. Stay prepared and stay safe!

 

January 26th, 2011
By Vivian Martin

Bathroom and kitchen fans are an important part of your home’s ventilation system. They remove odours from your house, which improves indoor air quality. They also remove moisture, which decreases the level of humidity in your house. High humidity can damage building materials and can cause mold growth. Mold may affect your family’s health.

Common Fan and Exhaust Systems

The two most common types of fans are impeller fans and blower fans.

Impeller fans move air with blades similar to airplane propellers.

Blower fans look like hamster wheels — they are often called squirrel cages — and generally do a better job of moving air than impeller fans.

Most exhaust systems consist of an exhaust fan, ducting and an exterior hood. Some houses have a central exhaust system, in which one fan draws moisture and odours from several rooms of the house using a network of ducts.

Kitchen exhaust systems usually have the fan and fan motor in the exhaust hood. Other systems use an in-line fan, which is in the exhaust duct, or a fan outside the house. In-line and outdoor exhaust fans are usually quieter than systems with the fan in the room.

A heat recovery ventilator (HRV) also exhausts moisture and odours. An HRV is a self-contained ventilation system that provides balanced air intake and exhaust. Like a central exhaust fan, it can be connected to several rooms by ducting.

How Good Is the Fan I Have Now?

CMHC’s research shows that many houses have exhaust fans that:

  • are too noisy
  • move very little air
  • are not energy efficient
  • may cause backdrafting of combustion appliances
  • use high-wattage lighting

Are There Better Fans?

Yes. There’s a new generation of effective, quiet, energy-efficient exhaust fans and controls.

How Do I Choose the Best System?

First, choose the quietest, most energy-efficient fan in the size range required. Most fan labels have Home Ventilating Institute (HVI) ratings so you can compare noise and energy efficiency. Look for a fan with replaceable parts and permanent lubrication. A fan suitable for continuous use is preferable. Be prepared to pay more for a quality fan.

Second, select low-resistance (smooth) exhaust ducting. Seal the joints and insulate sections that run through unheated spaces.

Third, place the exhaust hood where it will not cause moisture damage on exterior surfaces.

Fourth, if you have heating appliances with chimneys, make sure that fans won’t cause the appliances to backdraft.

Fifth, install the proper controls.

To read the full CMHC fact sheet, click here…

January 25th, 2011
By Vivian Martin

The U-shaped kitchen lends itself to high-efficiency cooking: You can often pivot on one toe as you spin around from refrigerator to sink to stove. A good friend and accomplished cook swears by this kitchen layout. He loves it because it keeps people out of the way when he’s cooking. Guests can hang out as long as they stay on “that” side of the peninsula! The U-shaped kitchen is the perfect expression of the work triangle we hear so much about in kitchen design. As you can see from the selections below, U-shaped kitchens can still come in different shapes and sizes:

January 23rd, 2011
By Vivian Martin

At DrummondHousePlans, we scour the web for resources for you. With so much discussion about eco-friendly and green building options, it is great to see articles that are more factual than full of greenwashing. The following article from the BuildDirect Green Blog may help wade through the hype and think a little more objectively.

As a term, ‘Green’ has been a hard one to truly define in broad strokes. It seems more appropriate to judge what is green based on a setof criteria, and to match products to that set of criteria on a spectrum,  rather than as one hard-coded definition.  The best way to approach the business of choosing green building materials therefore is to take a look at this list of criteria, decide what is most important to you, and see how many ‘checkboxes’ a certain option in green building materials meets.

With this in mind, I thought I’d talk about the green building materials that you may think about investing in during the coming year for your home improvement projects.  Luckily, in the last few years the range of items that meet the criteria have expanded, as the industry has become more and more sensitive to the increasing demand for sustainable building materials.

Specifically, I’d like to talk about some of those ‘checkboxes’  I mentioned earlier, to put these materials into a proper context.  Here are some of the big ones:

1. Resource efficiency. How quickly or easily is the material processed without undue impact to the environment? Does that resource renew itself fast enough in line with the demands placed upon it by industry, and is the process in place that go into its manufacture recognize the importance of this balance? Is that resource long-lasting enough to serve as reclaimed materials at a later date?

2. Indoor Air Quality. Does the material meet with government and industry standards for emissions. CARB is a body that has led the way in reducing the percentage of particles into the air from the materials themselves. Also in terms of air quality in general, does your building material of choice come out of a process whereby natural materials are preserved for the purposes of C02 absorption?

3. Energy efficiency. How much fuel is burned getting the materials from harvest to market? When it’s installed, how much energy will the material retain to the benefit of energy efficiency to your home in general?

4. Water conservation. Does your building material or fixture of choice contribute to more efficient water usage such as low-flow technology, graywater usage, or rain harvesting?

5. Affordability. Does your building material outweigh the cost of production with long-term durability so as to reduce the requirement for replacement?

Also to be taken into account here is the idea of post-industrial waste, and how your building material option utilizes these types of materials.  For instance, strand-woven bamboo floors utilizes the parings of bamboo used to create traditional bamboo floors, and makes them into a unique product.  Many types of glass and porcelain tile rely heavily on the presence of recycled glass products in the production of new tile surfaces.

In judging just how to choose green building materials, it really is all about balance.  I think it’s about communication too, between you and your building materials vendors, and between them and the manufacturers.  This aspect of things, much like the market itself, is constantly evolving.  But, in the meantime, it’s good to have a starting point toward achieving a better balance when becoming a more informed consumer. It’s information like this that will help us to gain a better balance to our world in general.

Thanks for visiting the DrummondHousePlans Blog!

January 22nd, 2011
By Vivian Martin
www.DrummondHousePlans.com - Plan # 2268

www.DrummondHousePlans.com - Plan # 2268

It’s all one level really needs—1231 sq. ft., one bedroom, one bath and lots of beautiful space to spread out. A modified formal entry greets a welcoming layout with dining room, family room with fireplace, and kitchen-breakfast area. A luxurious full bath with central tub, shower room and private toilet has dual access, one reserved for master bedroom privacy.

A two-bedroom option is included with the plans and an unfinished basement allows for a bit more space for additional bedrooms if desired or perhaps a media room?

For more details on this plan, click here…

Looking for other 1 storey house plans? Check our Bungalow and One Level House Plan Collection,  or Create  a “New House Plans – Latest Trends” Alert to receive all of the latest designs direct to you by email!

Thanks for visiting the DrummondHousePlans Blog!

January 20th, 2011
By Vivian Martin

Add a Beautiful Lantern for Warm Welcome, Classic Style or a Touch of Romance

Long before there was an electric lamp post on every corner, visitors relied on lanterns hung outside homes to light their way. To this day, those glowing beacons still evoke the same warm, welcoming gesture.

And while the lantern’s original design was purely utilitarian (the glass sides shield the candle’s burning flame from wind and weather), today form has most certainly caught up to function. Here, ways to incorporate lanterns around your own home, both inside and out:

 

 



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