Archive for the 'Green Tips' Category

May 31st, 2013
By Deb Villeneuve

In the near future, Drummond House Plans will be introducing plan models with the ES suffix


What does ES mean?

ES is short for Environmentally Superior.

We’re not just talking about the “green” respect for the environment as in the use of ecologically responsible materials and practices aimed at reducing the carbon footprint of the project but also the living environment within.


What makes a house plan Environmentally Superior?

From the choice of local suppliers to reduce transportation of materials, and the resulting use of fuels with the inherent damage to the ozone layer, to the use of salvaged materials such as recycled drywall and paint, giving them a second life.

Optimal ventilation systems, low VOC products are designed and enhanced insulation as well as orientation that takes advantage of the passive elements of the environment surrounding the home which includes plantings outside that respect the local weather conditions and water requirements to help take the burden off  of mechanical heating and cooling systems while adding to the natural beauty of the exterior environment and the livability of the interior environment.

An ES home includes planning for the recycling of the on site waste which is an inherent part of any building project.

But there’s more…

An ES design has not only today’s comfort in mind but also looks to the future with an adaptability of design that can evolve with the occupants’ needs over the years.

A three bedroom home may no longer be practical as the owner’s become empty nesters and the need for an enlarged bathroom may arise due to mobility issues. Hallways have also been designed to accommodate special requirements that may develop over time.

The Environmentally Superior concept has a global vision of optimization of all that touches the home owner inside and out, for now and in the future.


In the upcoming weeks, we will be posting these exciting new designs on our site and we invite you to share your comments or questions with us.


May 27th, 2013
By Alexandre

When people think about environmentally respectful houses, they usually tend to picture very high-tech buildings whose components are way too expensive. Although it is true that green houses can cost a little more to build than regular houses, they also tend to sell for more: last year in California, for instance, their cost was 9% higher than regular homes. Yet, if your current home is not intrinsically green, there are easy ways to make it more environmentally friendly without spending an astronomical amount of money.

1. Program your house’s temperature

Space heating can represent up to about 45% of an American household’s utility bills. This is a huge proportion! But that is actually good news: if space heating makes up such a big fraction of your energy bills, it is likely that you can save a lot mot money if you come to grips with this issue and seek to reduce the amount of energy you use to heat (and cool) your living space!

One of the cheapest and most effective ways to cut down on the amount of energy that is necessary to make your home comfortable is to opt for programmable thermostats. This type of heating control system allows you to adjust your home temperature according to parameters, which you set yourself in order to have them meet your specific needs. You could, for instance, make sure that your home temperature is at 21 degrees when you get up in the morning, have it automatically go down to 17 when you leave for work and have it go back up to 21 when you come back at night. This could help you save significant amounts of energy.

2. Look for water leaks and wastes

Fresh water abounds in North America. Canada alone is home to about 20% of the world’s total fresh water resources – underground aquifers and glaciers included. This is no surprise, then, that Americans and Canadians respectively are the first and second greatest water consumers on earth. Yet, abundance of water on a given territory is no justification for careless consumption. One of the easiest ways to cut down on pointless water consumption is to look for leaks.

In the United States, it is estimated that about 10% of homes have leaks that waste at least 90 gallons of water every day! These wastes generally come from dripping faucets or leaking toilet flappers, for example. If all domestic leaks were fixed, about one trillion gallons of water could be saved yearly in the United States: this is equivalent to the yearly water consumption of Los Angeles, Chicago and Miami combined, according to the EPA! Reducing your water consumption by changing your toilet or by replacing your showerhead, for instance, is also easy and not too costly.

3. Plant trees around your house

Trees are not only soothing and beautiful: they represent an effective, yet unsuspected insulation device! In fact, having mature trees all around the house can help reduce your energy consumption: when strategically located, trees act as a barrier against the cold winds of the winter as well as against the warm sun rays of the summer. Tall trees planted on the east side of your house will keep the inside air cooler in the summer between about 7 and 11 a.m., while those located on the west side will have a similar effect in the afternoon. Their presence will therefore reduce your needs for air conditioning.

4. Progressively replace your appliances

We all know it: modern appliances tend to last a more limited number of years than they used to. Whether it is due to programmed obsolescence or to the public’s desire for constant change, this limited lifespan of home appliances is an environmental curse. Yet, the next time you absolutely must replace your refrigerator or your washing machine, think about opting for an energy-efficient one. The Energy Star certification is definitely one thing you ought to be looking for: if the upfront cost of buying a certified appliance may be a little higher than normal, the long-term savings will probably make up for it sooner than you think.

5. Use eco-friendly products

The kinds of dishwashing liquid, soap, clothes detergent or window cleaning products that you use can have an immediate impact on the environment. Think about it: you take a shower every day, you clean your dishes at least once a day too and you do the laundry a few times per week… Simply put, you end up rejecting considerable amounts of cleaning agents through your water consumption every day! Making a little effort to buy green cleaning products – which can easily be identified thanks to eco-labels – for just a few extra dollars every month can contribute to making all of the activities that are carried out in your house a lot more environmentally respectful.

About the author:
Alexandre is a blogger for Standard Life, a company that offers Tax-Free Savings Accounts (TFSA).

May 2nd, 2013
By Deb Villeneuve

Another helpful guest post from Grace Bailey

The eco-friendly garden is not something that exists only in the magazines or on TV. It is so easy to have one, especially when you are starting from the beginning, probably after you have moved to a new house.
If once you have grown a garden, you are aware of the main principles and the needs of the plants, so it will be easy for you to understand, that the eco-friendly style will not harm your future plant growing in any way.So if you are inpatient to start creating your new garden, here is what to keep in mind, when you want to do it both beautiful and harmless for the environment and your health.
The protection of the planet is mostly connected with the wise organizing and usage of the sources. Besides the power of the soil, the flowers need much water to grow and to live. So be sure you have found the best way to collect and use water, as you not only count on the pipes of the house

Here is what you can do to make this aspect better for the environment. First try to install gallons to collect rain water if your garden is so big and you can put them in a way they do not make it look ugly or it is not uncomfortable for you to work there. Try to pick the flowers very carefully. You can combine some that need less water with those which have to have it daily. Having only some of the second type will increase your costs and will not be good for the environment. It is also essential to have plants that can live best with the conditions of your garden. Otherwise you will put too many efforts to changing the type of the soil, watering and others.
To keep it rational you have to make groups of flowers with similar needs of sun and water. Thus you will organize the water supply better and will take care of them easier.
As you organize your garden do not underestimate the influence of the compost. Choose only an organic one that will let you retain a great quantity of water in the soil, which is very good for the plants. It will also reduce the water that evaporates from the ground, so be sure you will only have benefits of the use of this compost.  Mulch will also fight the weeds and help with the nutrition of the soil for your garden. Read more tips on eco living and cleaning by visiting

December 17th, 2012
By Vivian Martin

Looking to wrap up your Christmas gifts with a bit of nostalgia? Using kraft paper tied up with strings may be just the ticket. Easily recycled and easy to personalize, it is a charming and eco-friendly option for wrapping your Christmas gifts.

We’ve been collecting some images on a Pinterest Board with examples… Just a few:

Top a package with a bit of greenery and pine cones


Source: via Drummond on Pinterest


Let out your inner artist with patterns created with liquid paper and a Sharpie! 


Dress up your kraft paper packages with stamps and gingham ribbon for country charm!


I like how these small bands of graphic paper pop against the brown. A little paper goes a long way!


For more ideas, check out our Pinterest board and just to get you totally in the mood, let Julie Andrews take you down memory lane!


Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens

Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens

Brown paper packages tied up with strings

These are a few of my favorite things!

Happy wrapping and Merry Christmas!!!

November 30th, 2012
By Vivian Martin

In the past the house with the biggest brightest display was coveted as ‘best’. Just think of Sparky Griswald’s quest in Christmas Vacation. Times have changed but your enjoyment of the season does not have to. You can enjoy all of the holiday cheer without increasing the load on your local power company or your wallet.


Do you know how effective LED lights are?

Indoor LED lights for tree and decoration


LED (Light Emitting Diode) Christmas lights use up to 95% less energy than their large traditional counterparts and last up to 100,000 hours when used indoors. Over a 30-day period, lighting 500 traditional holiday lights will cost a fraction of their incandescent alternatives plus if one of the LED bulbs burn out, the rest of the strand will stay lit.

Power Savings on outdoor lights

Similar to the lower energy use of indoor LED lights, you have all of the energy savings on outdoor lights or, even better yet, consider the new solar LED outdoor light options that are now available.

Finally, what to do with your old incandescent light strings?


Source: via Drummond on Pinterest


Many retailers have special trade-in promotions to convert to LED lighting or your local recycle depot may help divert your defunct lights from the landfill.

That’s all for me for now… Now I must string a few more lights to catch up with the Griswalds next door…

August 4th, 2011
By Vivian Martin

In our energy efficiency series of articles featured each Thursday, we provide strategies or information on how to make your new home energy efficient and comfortable.

How much do our buildings really contribute to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions? The answers may be surprising.

Over 50% of all GHGs in the U.S. come from our homes and businesses, and over 40% of the country’s energy consumption goes toward powering those structures. Contrast that with the 28% of energy consumption for cars and other transportation, and it’s clear that our homes are expending energy resources at an unacceptable rate.

So what’s greener? Building a new house or renovating an old one? Both are worthy endeavors, but with many existing homes using twice as much energy as they should, home improvement edges out new construction.

However, that’s not the only reason it’s greener to upgrade your existing home. New homes need new infrastructure, including roads, sewage lines, electrical lines and street lighting – all entailing more expenditures of energy. In addition, new homes require the production of new materials, while materials from existing homes are generally recyclable.

What’s greener for your pocketbook? The answer may be both. Homes with a significant number of green features can sell for up to 30% more than traditional homes – either for new or existing homes. In today’s down-turned housing market, green technology gives you a substantial advantage.

For homeowners planning to stay in their homes, the return on investment period is getting shorter, with many recouping costs in as little as three years. In their book, Green$ense for the Home: Rating the Real Payoff from 50 Green Home Projects, architect Eric Freed and Kevin Daum found that 45 out of the 50 retrofitting projects that they examined saved money in energy costs.

To discover which renovations bring the most savings, read the entire article from Calfinder…

Each Thursday, we will feature a blog entry about energy efficient new homes, covering a range of topics from building innovations to ratings systems to “score” your home’s efficiency. Subscribe to the DrummondHousePlans blog to make sure you get the latest news on how to make your new or renovated home energy efficient.

July 29th, 2011
By Vivian Martin

Image source: National Geographic

For us, hornets and spiders fall into the same category. This is because these bugs, while they can look somewhat creepy and intimidating, are actually beneficial. Both hornets and spiders devour flies, mosquitoes and other pesky insects. The white faced hornet, for example, loves to eat caterpillars and tomato worms, so it is a great natural defender for your vegetable garden.

But here’s the thing with hornets: while we know they’re beneficial, we don’t necessarily want them hanging around while we are trying to entertain on the patio or in the backyard. They do have stingers, and getting stung by a hornet is no laughing matter. We don’t want to kill the hornets – we just want to repel them away from our outdoor entertaining area and to another part of the yard. Read the full article for natural ways to keep these beneficial insects from crashing your picnic!

July 10th, 2011
By Vivian Martin


More project photos. Please see us at for more info contemporary patio

Many of us spend countless hours, dollars and patience on a perfectly kept lawn. Watering needs can be high, fertilizing can get costly and mowing and weed whipping can take anywhere from minutes to hours, depending on the size of the yard. Of course, you may be lucky enough to have a landscaping company do the laborious work for you, but that’s not to say that a lush lawn of green is your only option for a beautiful yard. From bricks to gravel and even meadows, there are various alternatives to the traditional grass-filled landscape. Read along to see for yourself.

June 29th, 2011
By Vivian Martin

“The population is growing, but the water supply is not,” says Bill Hoffman, a coordinator for the City of Austin Water Conservation Program, in Texas. That’s why people around the country are turning to the centuries-old practice of collecting rain as an alternative source of water.

By collecting rain from a roof during wet months and storing it in a tank or cistern, homeowners can create an alternative supply that won’t tax the groundwater or jack up the water bill. And because rain doesn’t contain the minerals found n wells or the chlorine in municipal supplies, it’s ideal for watering the lawn, washing the car, doing the laundry, taking a shower—even drinking if it’s properly filtered.

“Rainwater is the purest water you can find,” says Dr. Hari Krishna, president of the American Rainwater Catchment Systems Association (ARCSA).

Read the full article courtesy of This Old House…

Read more on related DrummondHousePlans blog topics on rainwater collection and water conservation.

June 6th, 2011
By Vivian Martin

As industries shift to accommodate a new market for eco-friendly products, your choices as a consumer are becoming more and more important to the task of creating a greener world. This permeates your schedule day-to-day, including the part where you have to do your laundry.


The laundry room has a lot of potential when it comes to green living.  It can be a challenge to find ways to live a green lifestyle, especially if you are on a budget and don’t have the money to lay out for extensive home upgrades. The laundry room is a great place to start thinking green, however, and the tips that follow will help you to make more eco-friendly choices when it comes to doing laundry.

Choose Energy Star Laundry Appliances

While it doesn’t make a lot of sense for you to run out and replace your old energy-sucking washer and dryer pair with a sleek, energy-saving duo, it is a smart move when the time comes.  When replacing laundry appliances, look for those that have the Energy Star logo when you’re buying new ones.  Energy Star washing machines consume only about 25 gallons of water per load, as compared with an average of 40 gallons for standard top-loading machines.  Energy Star dryers also take much less energy than their non-energy saving counterparts.

Choose a Front-Loading Washer

Go even greener by choosing a front-loading washing machine.  The front-loading washer operates on a horizontal axis, and this can save both energy and water.  The front-loader needs less water to do the same job as a top-loader because the tub rotates, tumbling the clothing inside into the water, as opposed to top-loading machines that must be filled in order to do their job.  And the top-loading machine also reduces the amount of energy that is required to dry your clothing, as they spin at a faster rate, which means that the clothes have less water in them when they are finished in the wash.

A front-loading washing machine uses about a third less water and half the energy of a traditional top-loading washing machine. This savings can easily allow the washer to pay for itself within five-six years of purchase, although most top-loaders have a life expectancy of ten years or longer with proper maintenance.

Quick tips for laundry day

As mentioned above, it isn’t a green move to replace an appliance that is still in working order. Why?  Because the old appliance has to end up somewhere – and that eventual home is typically an already overburdened landfill.  Thus, keeping your appliance for as long as possible is a more earth-friendly option.  But you can still follow the tips below to get the most out of your older laundry appliances:

  • Wash in cold water.  Cold water can be gentler on your clothing, and it can also save up to ninety percent of the cost of doing laundry from an energy perspective.
  • Designate a particular day of the week as “laundry day” and do subsequent loads in order to maximize the built-up heat in the dryer.
  • Always make sure that you wash full loads.  You will be using almost the same energy for a “small” load as for a “large” load.
  • Consider line drying clothing when possible. This will not only save energy but is also gentler on most fabrics.
  • Keep the lint trap of your dryer cleaned out after each load.  This allows for heat to circulate properly within the dryer, and thus improves the dryer’s performance.

Original article: Build Direct Green Blog

FAQ’s about cold water washing from BC Hydro

ENERGY STAR appliances usually cost more than others. Would I save money if I don’t buy an ENERGY STAR washing machine but I keep it well maintained?
No. It is always a good idea to keep any appliance well maintained for optimum performance, but even so, ENERGY STAR-rated washing machines are so much more efficient than other models – 36% more efficient than government standards – that they generally pay for themselves in just a few years. Think of an appliance as having two prices: the cost to buy it and the cost to run it. The higher cost of running less energy-efficient appliances quickly cancels out the lower purchase price.

If I only wash in cold water, will my clothes still get as clean?
Yes. Clothes can come out just as clean in cold water, even whites. If you have hard water, try adding some borax to your laundry to brighten whites and colours. You can also add 1/2 cup of lemon juice to the rinse cycle for fresh bright laundry, or use natural biodegradable, non-chlorinated bleach on your whites if you find they’re not bright enough. Hanging your laundry in the sun to dry it will also act as a brightener. Sunlight is a natural bleaching agent.

What about hard-to-remove stains?
Spot clean stains with a natural spot remover before you launder them. The stains will likely come out readily in cold water and you’ll use less energy. For really tough dirty or oily stains, use the “warm” water setting instead of “hot.” You are still cutting your energy savings in half. Also, use a natural stain remover prior to washing or presoak clothes to help loosen the dirt or oil from the stain.


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