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Battling Midwest winters: How to stay warm and save money with energy-efficient heating strategies

If you live in Minnesota or Wisconsin, this year’s extreme winter is one of the coldest on record. Even for those who enjoy winter, the sub-zero chill and the wicked wind are – for the most part – keeping you indoors. One inevitable part of Midwestern winters is heating your home, and the deeper temperatures dip, the higher your heating bill becomes.

This is of particular concern in 2014 because the most common heating fuels are in shortage. Propane’s price continues to shoot up, prompting the feds to release $450 million to help ease the budgets of low-income families who use the fuel to heat their home – $15.8 million will go to Minnesota families.

Energy-efficient lighting: How to light your home and save energy simultaneously

Lighting is an essential element of our daily lives. Lighting is not only beautiful, adding ambiance to indoor and outdoor spaces, it is also necessary in order for us to function and stay safe. Properly lighting your spaces might seem contradictory when it comes to living green, but saving energy doesn’t mean turning off the lights and living in the dark.

How can you go green and properly light your home at the same time?

How to find green building products in Minnesota

The materials and products used in a new build or remodel are at the heart of the green construction movement. Selecting items that are considered eco-friendly is key, but that can sometimes be easier said than done. Cutting through the clutter to find truly green materials that are high quality can seem like a challenge.

There are numerous things to consider when selecting green building supplies. Certified green products are, of course, a great first step. Additionally, looking at the measureable benefits is important, for example, some products will use less electricity or others won’t give off harmful fumes that affect indoor environmental quality. It’s also important to look at other green attributes of products, such as which ones utilize recycled material or are locally sourced and manufactured.

Building green and resource efficiency in Minnesota and Wisconsin

It can feel overwhelming to think of all the resources necessary for a new home build or remodel. From the wood for the frame, to the metal for the screws, to the electricity to run the tools –  sometimes hundreds of different resources and materials are required to complete a job.

That’s why resource efficiency is an important aspect of building green. Resource efficiency means using the smallest amount of resources in order to achieve the same high-level result you would have even if you used more. This requires builders and architects to think strategically and plan accordingly in order to limit waste as much as possible.

How indoor environmental quality affects Minnesotans

How do you feel inside your Minnesota home or place of business? Does the indoor environment affect your life in a positive or negative way? Maybe a bit of both?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines indoor environmental quality as: “the quality of a building’s environment in relation to the health and well-being of those who occupy space within it.”

For builders and architects, indoor environmental quality is just as important as the layout of the kitchen or the design of the entryway. It must be prioritized, and that starts in the planning phases of any new build or remodel project.