How To Heat Your Home Without Breaking The Bank

In the last article we covered some fun and easy ways to reduce energy bills in the summer and in this post we will look at the opposite side of the coin: where we lose money on heating and what cheap sustainable solution we could use instead to lower our energy bills?

It all starts with a simple question> where do we lose most of the heat?

1. Insulation:
This is a subject on which many of you already know allot. It is something that we also covered in a previous article so if you want to find out more about why polystyrene, although cheap and very popular is not necessarily the best option for insulating your walls, click here.
An easy way to check where you lose most of the heat is by taking a thermal picture of your home.

2. Radiator loses:
If you have good insulated walls and good windows but are still not satisfied with the way your radiators are performing you might wish to apply the following improvements:
A. mounting a radiator shelf: will push the hot air flow towards the room rather than letting it rise up to the ceiling.
B. placing a radiator reflector panel from aluminium foil or similar will have a similar effect and it is especially useful in old houses and apartments.
C. releasing the pressure from your radiators if you feel the radiator cold at the top can drastically improve it’s efficiency. If you do not have a pressure valve on your radiator now it is the time to get it.
D. removing any obstacles that are in front of your radiator will also insure you get most of the heat into the room. Curtains and drapes are good for insulation, especially when you have old windows as long as the curtain is not covering the radiator. You will have more heat from the radiator by keeping the curtains above it’s shelf instead of blocking the air flow and loosing money on heating.

3. Inefficient old heating systems:
This is probably the most expensive and hardest part of the heating system to improve without professional help.
But hard does not mean impossible and if you do not have the money right now to buy an energy efficient system like geothermal or solar there are many people out there that offer guides on how to built alternative and sustainable heaters with recycled or cheap materials.
A. Solar air heaters: great for reducing the use of your traditional heating system during the sunny days.

There are different types of solar air heaters but the basic principal behind them is that you have a frame covered with a transparent material (glass or polycarbonate) in which you have a dark heat absorbing material. The transparent cover allows the sun to enter the sealed frame and keeps the heat absorbed by the dark foil inside the panel.

solar heater

For maximum output place the panel facing South and away of shadow from nearby obstacles.
You can find a link bellow that shows how this system works and many more videos are available in the descriptions at the end of the article.

B. Using recycled waste as fuel for an existing furnace. Most of this solutions are not made by professionals, some might work better then others and all of them require allot of caution when testing an operating. If you do test these ideas make it in a controlled environment which is fire proved and always be careful when playing with fire.

– one idea is to use recycled paper as fuel for your timber furnace. The tools you would need to transform paper into logs are 2 buckets: one with holes and a normal bucket same size or bigger then the first one, a drilling machine some water and whatever paper you have around the house that you normally just trow away. The video bellow explains very well the process.

– another option could be to use burned oil to fire your furnace. This will not only save you money but will also help the environment as Oil is one of the biggest pollutants we constantly trow away in the water system.
Converting an existing system into one that uses burned oil can be difficult so a professional help might be needed. Bellow you can find an example of a home built furnace that runs on used oil. There are also companies that build new furnaces designed to run on used oil, so if you eat allot of french fries (not recommended as it is not so good for your abs), if you run a garage or if you have a fast food business you might wish to look further into this option and instead of polluting the waters recover the waste and lose less money on heating.

C. Free Gas. For people that are close to the black sea the invention of John Kanssas could be the answer. He is using a radio frequencies generator to release oxygen and hydrogen from salt water to create an incredibly intense flame. However this system still uses more energy to burn salt than it produces, so for now it’s just a nice idea, but not very efficient.

Although these systems might not give you total independence they can prevent you loosing money while providing a warmer environment in your home.

If you found this article useful share the love and leave your comments bellow.


How To Cool Your Home Without Breaking The Bank

The house has been in the center of our lives since the dawn of civilization. It has also become in the last years a center for most of our expenses, from taxes to electricity and from water to heating.

In the US a typical household pays around 1400 $ a year for electricity while a family in Germany would pay around 1200 Euros per year. This does not include the cost for heating and cooling which can add to the final bill around 40%. Off course each individual case may vary but for the purpose of this example we will consider an average yearly expenses for energy for a house in the US of 2000 $, 1700 Euros for Germany and in Romania we could assume that the average yearly expenses for energy are around 800 Euros.

From this amount we waste around 25% of the energy per year, that translates in energy bills to about 500 $ in the US, 425 Euros in Germany or 200 Euros in Romania.

Considering that private houses are responsible for between 26% to 40% of the total Energy consumption, depending on the country,  we reach the conclusion that we are wasting between 6.5% and 10% of the total Energy produced. That in the US translates, in an optimistic scenario, to around 278 billion kWh, enough energy to power more than 2.5 million household in the US per year. At an average price of 12 Cents per kWh that is more than 33 billion $ wasted every year. And the situation is similar in Europe, for example in Romania we are wasting an estimated 4.2 billion kWh per year. At an average price of 9 cents per kWh this means more than 380 million Euros losses every year. We could build 100 km of highways with this money, a couple of world class stadiums or buy 20 F-16 Fighting Falcon.  And in addition to the billions we are wasting every year we are also having a huge impact on the environment by releasing, just for the energy that we do not use, more than 191 million metric tons of CO2.

This figures are based on average energy consumption data from the past available online. For details please check resources.

So where is this huge waste coming from and what can we do about it?

Well to answer this we should first have a look at the graph bellow to see what are the main consumers of energy in a typical household



As we can see the main energy consumption is related to heating and cooling with more than 50% of total consumption if we consider also water heating and electronics with more than 35% in total energy consumption.

That is why in the future posts we will focus on providing  low-budget and eco-friendly solutions for improving heating, cooling and electrical systems. These suggestions will reduce significantly not only the waste but also the total consumption so that you can use the 500 $ that you save each year to take a vacation, buy a new smart phone or whatever else your heart desires.

In regards to heating and cooling insulation plays a vital role and for more details about it you can check these advises from an earlier post.

But this changes are usually expensive and hard to make especially if you are living in a rented apartment. And since the summer is coming and this relates to an increase in energy consumption for cooling, we will start with some easy to implement changes that can decrease temperatures in your home with up to 6 degrees without using air conditioning.

1. Use window blinds during the day

Blocking the sun at it’s peak can reduce temperatures in the room with up to 3 degrees Celsius. If you have no money to buy them or you want to give your room a personal touch you can simply make them from scratch. And if you get creative you might even turn them into a piece of art that not only helps the environment and saves you money but also makes you happy. You can find an example on how to create a roman shade here and for design inspiration you can click here.

2. Mount a ceiling fan or buy a desk fan

This can also reduce the temperature with up to 3 degrees and is relatively cheap. You can check out how to built a small portable fan here or you could buy one already made.

3. Change your daily habits and your rooms position depending on the season

This works best for people that spend allot of time during the day at home. For instance you might want to have your office facing South in the winter so you get as much heat and light ass possible from the sun but you might want to do the opposite in summer to avoid overheating.

The advantages of these options are that they reduce temperature and energy consumption, they can be fun to build and you can also take them with you when you move so they can be implemented regardless if you are renting or owning a home. Individual impact in energy savings can vary allot depending on the building  so it’s always good if you can monitor the progress in order to determine which of this tips are the best for your home. Please keep in mind that for special solutions it is always recommended to consult with a professional.

You can also check out allot of cool resources and ideas in the descriptions bellow. We will also share new tips about home improvement in the future so follow the blog, like us on Facebook, join us on Linkedin and keep saving money.

I am sure that there are many other tips on how we can reduce our energy waste and I would really appreciate if you would share your experiences and ideas in the comments bellow. Together we can make our home and our wallet smile again.

Until next time live green!



US Wastes 61–86% Of Its Energy





A new way of building: 3D printing


It is the start of a new year and hopefully it will be the one that will bring a revolution in the way we build houses.

For ages the house or shelter has been at the heart of human life, being one of the most basic needs we have, together with food and love. But still right now in our country and many other places around the world there are many people that leave in slumps which are the breeding ground for disease, violence, and poverty.

But thank to some inspiring people solution are being found to provide amazing houses that are affordable for everyone..

1. 3D Printer
At The University of Southern California, Professor Behrokh Khoshnevis has built a 3D printer that can build a house in 24 hours. It does this with a nozzle that spreads out concrete replicating a home based on a computer pattern.
This is an astonishing discovery. Not only it will make the construction industry cheaper, but it will also make it more transparent and more flexible, removing the limits of traditional box shape houses.The machine can be used also to incorporate plumbing, electricity, hitting and reinforcements into the walls of the building, and because it allows complex shapes to be built we can use geometry to further reduce the quantity of materials required while increasing the overall strength of the structure. And above all this, it is fully automatic so no qualified personnel is required to use it.

2. Open source house
Another great approach to affordable houses is developed by architect Alastair Parvin from .This is basically an opened source construction set, where you can find printable patterns for building houses out of plywood. By using large scale cutters and computer design this houses can be constructed by almost everyone with very little cost.

3. Paper houses
Shigeru Ban is maybe one of the pioneers of easy to built structures out of cheap material. He is focusing on building shelters from paper especially for emergency situations. His designs and techniques of building are surprising and inspiring and could be a great solution also for areas in our country deeply affected by floods.

4. Self healing asphalt
And to close with an optimistic view of a future where pot holes will be a thing of the past I would like to share some thoughts about self healing asphalt developed by Erik Schlangen. The name speaks for itself and the discovery it’s amazing because with only a minor increase in initial building cost you can substantially increase the service life of the road. The system uses in its mixture metal fibers which when heated “heal” the cracks in the road.

For more info and videos regarding this topics check the links at the bottom of the page.

The future looks bright let’s all help turn this vision into reality.

The choice is always yours.


Parking like a SuperHero

Finding a good parking place and wining the Lottery have, in most cities around Europe, the same probability. And when you do find one there is a high chance that this happens:



or this….



So what can we do to prevent this problems?

One option, very popular especially in N-W Europe could be to use a bike for short distances and public transport for long distances. I support this idea, however it presents some challenges especially without proper infrastructure.

Another option could be to share a car with friends to reduce the number of cars on the road. Off course if you have a family of 4 and you have to drive your kids to school this is maybe not the best option.

Fortunately if none of the options above works for you, there is another solution, inspired most likely by superhero movies like Batman or Ironman.



The system is based on hydraulic pistons that lower or raise the platform and can accommodate most types of cars available on the market including large SUV’s.

This will keep your car safe, have minimum impact on landscape, provide more space for the second Porsche and make you look like a superhero.

So even if you want to start using a bike or continue using a car there is always a solution.

The choice is always yours.

Best regards,


Pictures from:


Top Pro’s and Con’s of Modular Houses

picture from

  Modular houses are buildings that consist of multiple sections called modules. The modules can be 6 dimension boxes or wall panels constructed in advance at a remote facility, usually in standard sections that can be easily transported and assembled.

What are the advantages of a modular house?

  • Speed of construction, a modular home can be completed on site, depending on size and complexity, in 10 up to 20 days.
  • High quality. Because the modules are constructed in a controlled environment the common faults that appear on site due to poor execution are avoided.
  • Environmentally friendly due to low waste and optimum use of resources. The factory process consumes less materials and, due to controlled procurement produces less waste than a traditional construction site.
  • Provide a healthier living environment. Because modular houses are built in a controlled environment,  the risk of mold, mildew, rust, and sun damage that can often lead to human respiratory problems, is eliminated.
  • Flexibility is another great feature of modular houses. They can be extended or relocated with ease. When a modular house is relocated the amount of energy used is approximately 3% of the energy that is required to manufacture a new equivalent modular building.

Although the list of advantages is long there are also some disadvantages.

  • Constructed area. Because of transport restrictions the size of the modules can be small affecting the overall size of the rooms.
  • Aesthetics: prefabricated identical units may be viewed as less aesthetically pleasing and less desirable, but now most of the factories that produce modular homes have also design departments that use computer aided design (CAD) programs to draw plans to your specifications or to modify one of their standard plans so almost any home can be made as a modular one.

Modular homes are eco-friendly, fast to build and very flexible. They have to follow the same laws and requirements as normal constructions and have the same taxes and insurance costs as a normal house.

The modular house might be cheaper and faster to built but the value of the property is at the same level as the one of a normal house so if you want to move soon in a new house it might take less to construct a prefabricated building then searching true the real estate pages for a good offer.

Your comments are always welcomed.

Best regards,


The Green Roof


What is a green roof ?

It consists of a lot of things but, to make it easy and explain it in very few words, it’s a roof covered with vegetation, made of 7 layers: waterproofing membrane, root barrier, protection fabric, drainage, filter layer, growing media and vegetation.

Why should you have one?

Simply because it will make you happier
How will it do that?

For start green is the most relaxing color for your eyes so whenever you get home from your 9 to 5 job you will have something relaxing to look at and you will feel more positive about going into your 5 to 9 job.

Also a green roof filters pollutants and carbon dioxide so you will not only have a good mood but you will also have more energy for your 5 to 9 job.

It creates also a natural habitat for wildlife so you will have more friends that are willing to listen to you without saying a word. Also in urban areas it creates a gathering place perfect for socializing with your neighbors.

The green roof can also save you trips to the supermarket if you chose to grow food on it. You will get joy from seeing the plants grow and you will also be sure that you are eating bio-food.

When you get inside your home, the benefits of having a green roof become even more obvious.

Because the soil blocks low frequencies sounds and the plants block higher frequencies it will act like a sound barrier for the building making you feel safer.

The green roof will also act as insulation making you feel warmer and also saving you money.

What is the downside to all of this?

The only downside of a green roof is the initial cost of the building structure which will be a little bit higher than a normal one. But a part of that investment will be recovered true the savings from your energy bill.

Still not convinced?

Try to think at all the money we spend every day on things that bring us only temporary joy, like the latest gadget or the latest designer dress. How long does the happiness of owning that item lasts ? In the best case until the new model comes along. I am not saying that those things can’t bring you joy but please remember that you can also spend money on something that not only makes you and the people in your area happier every day but also makes the world a greener place.

The choice is always yours.

With best regards,

Small actions that can lead to HUGE energy savings


In the E.U. around 26% of the total energy is consumed by private households. So if you apply some small changes to your home you can really make an impact in the overall energy consumption.

You can start making your house more eco-friendly by following this simple tips:

Change your light bulbs with new high efficient ones. This can lead to a saving of up to 30% in your electricity bill.

Turn down your thermostat with 1 degree. You won’t be able to tell the difference and you will see a saving at the end of the month. The recommended habitat temperature is 20-21 degrees Celsius.

Buy A+ rating appliances in order to save electricity and instead of leaving them on stand-by try turning them off when you leave the house. This will not only save you money but provide more quality to your lifestyle.

Improve the building shell (air sealing) and insulation of your building. Proper insulation plays a very important role in energy-saving and CO2 emissions.. A well-insulated home is also easier to sell because lower utility costs are an attractive selling point for buyers. Where does the heat go? 35% is lost true walls, 25% through windows, 25% through the roof and15% through the floor.

Go for solar heating instead of wood, gas, or coal boilers. This will protect the environment and after the initial investment the cost for heating will be close to zero.

If you have any other ideas to improve the energy efficiency your comments are always welcomed.

With best regards,


Wind Power for your home


Wind energy has been used since ages to power wind mills or for pumping water from the flooded fields of Netherlands. Today wind energy delivers more than half of the energy produced by renewables worldwide and it is still one of the cheapest ways to produce energy “out of thin air”.

A modern large scale turbine (rated power around 3MW) can go up to 150m height and can have blades that are over 75m in length. These turbines could produce enough energy for an entire village and they cost millions of Euros.

But if you live in an area where the wind is always messing up your hair, maybe it would be good to install a small wind turbine. They are used mainly for small installations and can have a rated power between 300 W and 50 kV.  The majority of small turbines are horizontal axis turbines but vertical axis turbines are a growing type in the market. The rotor diameter of a small machine can range from 2 m to 8 m. In terms of cost, a new turbine will range between 5000 and 20000 Euros, while a second hand one can go below 2000 Euros. When purchasing a second hand turbine make sure you ask for at least 1 year warranty and check all the mechanical and electrical systems before you make the purchase. Look for damage on the blades, tower and wires especially and take care about the claims made in the manufacturer’s brochures as the annual production is usually overstated.

Turbines are usually mounted on towers in order to raise them above any obstacles. It is recommended that the turbine is raised with at least 9 m above the highest obstacle on a 200 m radius. So if you have a 10 m high house you should consider mounting your wind generator at 20 m above the ground. The effect of nearby obstacles needs to be taken into consideration not only for performance reasons but also for safety reasons because turbulence and vibration caused by the nearest obstacles can cause system failure.

Installation on rooftops can be taken into consideration but a strength analysis of the roof structure and the building structure needs to be made in order to ensure safe operation. Rooftop systems in cities rarely produce enough electricity.

In order to produce electricity even in high winds a dynamic braking system that regulates the speed by dumping excess energy is used. The dynamic braking resistor may be installed inside the building to provide heat (during high winds when more heat is lost by the building).

When choosing a location for a small wind turbine, additional to the wind data which tells you how much energy this turbine will produce on your site,  you also need to align with the safety distances from roads and other building specified in the country or local regulations.

And keep in mind that wind turbines can be noisy so do not place them near your home or your neighbours home.

A small wind turbine can make you some extra money if you connect it to the grid or it could cover your home energy needs when connected to batteries.

Please let me know your thoughts about the topic. Your comments are always welcomed.


With best regards,


Geothermal Energy

Geothermal energy is a type of renewable energy that encourages conservation of natural resources. This energy originates from the heat retained within the Earth from solar energy absorbed, from radioactive decay of minerals and from the original formation of the planet is at the origin of geothermal energy.

Geothermal heating uses geothermal energy for heating applications. Most high temperature is found in regions close to tectonic plates boundaries and where volcanic activity rises close to the surface of the Earth.

Ground source heat pumps exchange energy between the air in the building and the ground. Heat is pumped in to a transfer environment (usually water with ethanol) which is then pumped trough narrow pipes into the ground so the heat ca be dissipated in the earth, During summer time when the ambient temperature in the house is higher then the ground temperature the system acts like an air conditioner wile in the winter time the process works in reverse. In Romania below 1 m the earth temperature is fairly constant.

The heat pumps work better in a system with under-floor heating then radiators, because it uses a lower temperature. The same system can be used also for producing hot water.

For a geothermal heating system there are 3 common loop systems:






When choosing a heating system you can take into consideration the soil, the space available and the amount of heath needed.

All year round operation, no need for regular servicing or yearly checks are some of the advantages of using a geothermal system.


Despite the advantages there are also some problems. The system requires a lot of space so for dense populated areas is not feasible. Also without insulation and under-floor heating the system is not effective.


However for new constructions in residential areas the system can cut heating costs with more then 50%. Also the system appeals to the more environmentally friendly homeowners by cutting the carbon emissions of the house hold.


Geothermal energy is well developed in West-Europe countries and has a great potential of developing also in Romania due to the increasing interest in energy efficiency and renewable energy.



  Proper insulation plays a very important role in energy-saving and CO2 emissions especially when we see winters getting colder every year.  A well-insulated home is also easier to sell because lower utility costs are an attractive selling point for buyers.
   More air pockets between the outside and inside of your home translates into less money loss on heating and warmer homes . That is why materials that trap allot of air inside them like polystyrene or wool are good insulators.  Against radiant heat loss, mostlly responsible for heat losses true windows and walls, an efficient barrier is aluminium foil which reflects most of the heat back into the room.
   Where does the heat go? 35% is lost true walls, 25% through windows, 25% through the roof and 15% through the floor.
   Eco-windows improve the environment through energy efficiency. Double or triple glazing windows and doors provide an outstanding barrier against heat and noise loss. Eco-windows and doors use natural paint and therefore don’t consume additional harmful materials or generate associated waste.
     Adding another layer of air between the room and the window is always a good idea if you want to improve there efficiency during the winter. Bellow you can find two easy to follow examples on how to upgrade your windows with easy to find materials.

   For the roof one of the best insulation is mineral wool. Because it’s composed of many fibers this is not only a good thermal insulation but is also a very good barrier against noise. Also an anti-water foil and an aluminium foil are a good addition to any roof insulation.
  A green roof can also provide a very good insulation, additional to food and a posh gathering place inside a crowded city, and it is highly recommended for flat roofs.
    Proper floor insulation is equally important.  Rolls of insulation are an easy method to install insulation in floors. The rolls are made of fiberglass, mineral wool and natural fibers and are designed to fit the standard spacing between studs and joists. This method is suitable for do-it-yourself projects.
    Another way is to use reflective systems made of aluminum foils with such materials as plastic film, cardboard or polyethylene bubbles as backing. Reflective systems are well-suited for floors because they are designed to reduce downward heat loss. Reflective systems are easy to install.
    From the traditional materials, used for wall’s insulation, mineral wool, in my opinion, is better than polystyrene because in addition to thermal insulation it’s also a barrier for noise. Polystyrene which is the most popular wall insulation in Romania unfortunately losses up to 70 % of its insulation properties when its wet.
    A few eco-friendly insulation materials for walls are:
    1. Straws and clay (cheap, highly efficient and 100% recyclable)
    2. Cellulose made from recycled paper (very good insulation because of it’s fiber structure and high resistance to humidity)
    3. Sheep wool specially modified to be fireproof. ( wool was approved in UE as a building material in 2003). Shredded clothes can have a similar effect as wool for insulating your home.
    4. Reflective systems made of aluminum foils also improve the efficiency of an insulation system by reducing the radiant heat loss.
   A lot of people have been disappointed after insulating their building, having thought their house would suddenly become warmer, which it won’t. Basically, what insulation does is impede temperature change. So just bear in mind, insulating the building will help your house stay warm, but it won’t warm it.
   Which insulation fits best to your house ? Your ideas and comments are always welcomed.
With best regards,