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Tuesday, August 5, 2014

FSC-Certified Wood and SFI-Certified Wood: What's the Difference?

FSC-Certified Wood and SFI-Certified Wood: What's the Difference?
Article From By: Karin Beuerlein

Shopping for wood counter-tops, cabinets, or doors? FSC and SFI are the two green certifications you need to know.
If sustainability is important to you when you remodel a kitchen or bathroom or build a deck, look for the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification. It's the best indicator, here in the U.S., that the wood used to make your cabinets , countertops, deck , and more was harvested sustainably.
The Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) certification is helpful, too, though less rigorous. It's a good bet when you can't find FSC products.

Both certifications tell you whether a wood product comes from a forest that's managed responsibly.
Responsible forest management
It includes:
Protecting fragile ecosystems

Respecting native cultures and economies

Preventing illegal logging

Restricting clear-cutting (removing all trees in a tract) and pesticide use

Monitoring the "chain of custody," or ensuring that the wood in the product you're looking at really came from the forest that was certified.

Where to find certified wood
Ask your retailer or cabinet maker up front about their certified wood options, and whether any are ready made. You can also use FSC or SFI's online products database to select a retailer that carries certified wood.

Is certified wood more expensive?
The frustrating answer is maybe yes, depending on efficiencies in the supply chain, or maybe no, such as if FSC-certified suppliers, for instance, are competing with wood that's been harvested irresponsibly. FSC recommends you do comparison shopping among local suppliers and online.

Forest Stewardship Council = the gold standard
FSC is widely considered the best forestry certification program, although industry groups tend to consider it too strict-and environmentalists, too lax. The nonprofit was started by environmental groups in 1993.

Most agree FSC is a stronger certification than SFI, although to what extent is debatable, as both have downsides. FSC has very specific criteria for what constitutes responsible forest management, placing a big emphasis on environmental health. FSC certification is tougher than SFI in several categories, including how much clear-cutting is allowed and how much chemical pesticide can be used.

Downside of FSC: Because it's harder to achieve, it's harder to find in the store. But it's worth the extra effort, because consumer demand can help it spread to a broader audience. Just allow yourself some extra time to locate products, says BuildingGreen, a company that educates building professionals on green certifications.

Sustainable Forestry Initiative less rigorous
SFI has its roots in the logging industry, as an outgrowth of the American Forest and Paper Association, from which it still receives funding despite the fact that it's now a separate nonprofit. Because it takes money directly from the industry it polices, and because its certification process isn't as transparent as FSC's, you could reasonably doubt whose interests come first.

Still, SFI has toughened its standards over the years, including prohibiting logging of old-growth forests and limiting chemical pesticides. BuildingGreen deems it an acceptable solution when you can't find FSC products.

Caveat about green certifications for wood products
Forestry certifications aren't the final word on wood. Consider whether the whole package-everything that makes up those cabinets-is really green:



The distance it has to be shipped to reach you

Alternative idea: Salvaging existing wood or buying products with a large amount of recycled content may be just as green a choice.

Visit for more articles like this. Reprinted from HouseLogic with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® Copyright 2012. All rights reserved.

© 2015 Dan Benton
Dan Benton - Realtor with Real Estate Brokers of Alaska
1577 C Street, Suite 101A., Anchorage, AK 99501
Phone: (907) 727-5279

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Monday, August 4, 2014

7 Tips for Saving Energy in the Laundry Room

7 Tips for Saving Energy in the Laundry Room
Article From By: Douglas Trattner
Photo: Flickr CC License: Maegan

Understanding your laundry room appliances is part of a smart plan to help you save energy in your home.
Good laundry room habits, including some occasional minor maintenance, can save energy and shave nearly $300 off your annual utility bills. That's because you can curb the biggest energy culprit: the cost of heating water.

Washing machine
The bulk of a washing machine's operating costs-around 90%, says Energy Star -go to replacing the hot water in the home's hot water tank. Reduce the amount of hot water the appliance uses, and you'll significantly shrink its associated utility bills. By washing fewer loads and doing those loads in cooler water, you can save around $200 per year.

1. Use cold water. Switching from hot wash to cold, according Michael Bluejay, also known as Mr.Electricity, who specializes in electricity savings, can shave up to $215 per year off your electric bill. If you have a high-efficiency washer or gas-fueled water heater, assume savings of about half that figure. Cold washes are generally as effective in getting clothes clean as hot.

2. Only wash full loads. Discounting the energy required to heat the water, it costs around $60 per year in electricity to run the washer, according to the U.S.Department of Energy. Because it takes just as much electricity to wash a small load as it does a full one, you'll save money by only washing full loads. By reducing the number of overall loads by one-quarter, you can save $15 a year.

Clothes dryer
Because it's essentially a "toaster with a fan," says Amanda Korane of The American Council for anEnergy-Efficient Economy, a nonprofit focused on advancing energy efficiency, the clothes dryer is a difficult appliance to make green. But that doesn't mean there aren't ways to lessen its impact on your utility bill to the tune of about $80 per year.

3. Spin it faster. Good dryer efficiency starts in the clothes washer. Setting the maximum spin speed in the washer will reduce the amount of time-and energy-it takes to get clothes dry. Many of today's high-speed washer spin cycles can cut dry times by as much as half compared with older models. If an average electric clothes dryer costs about $80 per year to operate, according to the DOE, savings can approach the $40 mark.

4. Clean lint filter and exhaust. Dryers have to work harder and longer to dry clothes when air doesn't freely flow. Cleaning the lint filter before every use and doing the same for the exhaust line once a year will help maintain maximum efficiency. Also, check that the duct hose is free from tight bends and obstructions. These small chores not only will save a few bucks per year, they will reduce the risk of fire.

5. Activate energy-saving features. If the dryer has an automated moisture-sensing device, use it. Setting the timer can cause the dryer to run longer than necessary. But a moisture sensor will automatically shut off the machine when it senses clothes are dry. This feature can save $8 to $12 a year.
6. Dry like with like. Lighter items, such as T-shirts and blouses, dry much quicker than heavy items like towels and blankets. Therefore, when these items are combined in the same load, some of the clothes continue to tumble long after they're dry. This extends the dry time of the bulkier items, in turn wasting a few bucks every month.

7. Skip it. Every load in the dryer costs around $0.35, according to Bluejay. Hanging clothing to dry on a line outside or rack inside costs nothing. Racks run about $25 to $90 at online retailers. So, by giving the dryer a break even occasionally, savings can add up. Not only will the practice reduce utility bills, it will help extend the life of both the clothes and the appliance.

Visit for more articles like this. Reprinted from HouseLogic with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® Copyright 2012. All rights reserved.

© 2015 Dan Benton
Dan Benton - Realtor with Real Estate Brokers of Alaska
1577 C Street, Suite 101A., Anchorage, AK 99501
Phone: (907) 727-5279

Join Great Alaskan Homes on:
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