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Rotating homes harness solar energy 

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Adding solar panels to capture energy from the sun is a great way to boost a home's energy efficiency. Some solar panels rotate to follow the sun, but what about an entire house that rotates? 

Casas em Movimento of Portugal has developed homes that rotate to follow the sun as it moves. The photovoltaic array and the home itself can move to follow the sun. This innovative design increases the amount of energy the panels can absorb, dramatically boosting the amount of energy these homes can harness. 

Guilherme Silva of Casas em Movimento was inspired by sunflowers. His goal was to bring to life "the buildings in which we live, work and spend most of our time — in a sustainable way." The home's "sunflower effect" is created through the rotation of the building itself, and the rotation of the photovoltaic hood. Their combined movements ensure the panels keep a ninety degree inclination relative to the sun, optimizing the amount of solar energy they can harness.

The amount of energy it takes to keep the houses rotating is equivalent to six 60 watt light bulbs running for an hour per day, which is a negligible amount considering how much energy they produce. In fact, this breakthrough design allows these homes to produce five times the energy they use. By controlling the effects of light and shade, these houses can keep cool in the summer, reducing cooling costs by 80 percent. 

Mercury Excelum is your source for energy efficient home products. We offer quality replacement windows, vinyl siding, exterior doors and custom shutters. All of our products come with our quality assurance and detailed insulation instructions. For more information on how our products can improve a home's energy efficiency, request a brochure

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Vinyl siding: the simple solution 

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Home maintenance can be overwhelming, and not everyone has time for it. Thankfully, there's a low maintenance option. A recent Heart House article lists the many ways that vinyl siding can make home maintenance simpler.  

Maintenance

Vinyl siding is easy to install and maintain. It doesn't rot or crack like other materials, so it lasts longer without requiring treatment or repairs. Vinyl siding is built to last, so you won't need to replace it. At most, you might want to wash it once a year just so it looks its best. And if you don't want to buy or rent a power washer, there are mixtures you can make from simple home ingredients that you can use to clean it. 

Simplicity

Vinyl lightweight and fits over other materials including brick and wood, so nothing has to be torn down to install it. And if you change your mind about it, you can simply remove the vinyl siding without having to tear walls down and rebuild the exterior of your home.  

Durability

Vinyl siding is extremely tough. It can withstand many different temperatures, even harsh New England winters. Once you install the siding, you don't need to worry about replacing it, and you you will only need to clean it sparingly. 

Environment

Since vinyl siding lasts so much longer than other exterior home materials, it cuts down on the amount of waste you produce. Once applied, the vinyl keeps heat inside the home, which helps you to conserve energy and save money. The vinyl also helps to keep your home secure from drafts, keeping your home comfortable during the colder months. 

At Mercury Excelum, we provide vinyl siding and other products to make homes beautiful, comfortable and low maintenance all year long. Contact us for a catalog. 

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Composite decking: the stress-free option 

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Decks made from treated lumber are tougher than most types of wood, but they still require regular stripping, cleaning, sanding and sealing in order to hold up in the long run. Thanks to high-tech materials, composite decking offers the same stylish design as treated lumber, with minimal maintenance. This Old House highlights the many benefits of his low-stress option

Durability
Composite decks are made from a combination of waste wood and and plastic. These materials only require only an occasional cleaning, and boards never need to be replaced. This durability saves the homeowner time and money over the years. Composite decks can handle all types of weather, and they never splinter or warp like wood. These decks are also slip-resistant, so they're safer altogether. 

Home Value
Composite decking can improve the value of a home. Composite manufacturers offer a variety of color and style options, allowing a wide range of design possibilities to improve a house's curb appeal. Composite can even be made to resemble many different types of exotic wood. These decks also come with accessories such as vinyl railings, deck lighting and vinyl gates, all of which can enhance the beauty and functionality of a home. 

Savings
According to Timbertech, composite decks offer a 62.8 percent return on a national average. Although most wood decking is initially cheaper, adding all of the expensive maintenance that wood requires over the years, composite decking offers a substantial value since it never needs to be repaired, replaced, treated or repainted. Composite decking is a one-time purchase that lets you enjoy your home without worrying about constant deck maintenance. 

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Why can ‘earthbag homes’ be efficient? 

Thursday, December 3, 2015

As contractors may know, "earthbag" homes that include large bags of insulation may be useful in safeguarding occupants against earthquakes. However, there might also be potential energy efficiency benefits from these structures, depending on the materials builders use and the style and shape they choose to go with. If an earthbag project is on the horizon, contractors may need to find compatible doors and windows to match it.

A Realty Today article notes the different construction considerations that can factor into an earthbag home. These include not just the doors and windows, but the foundation as well. The source specifically notes the benefits of a gravel foundation system, which can aid in earthquake resistance.

Writing for Mother Earth News, Atulya Bingham praises the simplicity of these buildings, also complimenting their ability to retain energy, through efficient, retentive design.

"They are particularly suited to hot dry, Mediterranean or temperate climates, as the thick mud walls regulate the temperature," Bingham writes. "There's no need for an air conditioner in summer, and in winter — if you place your windows strategically to absorb the maximum sunlight — your house is cozy and warm long after the sun goes down." The author goes on to praise the adaptable shapes of earthbag homes, specifically noting their rounded walls.

To find custom vinyl windows that fit their projects perfectly, contractors can use Mercury Excelum and know that they will have access to the best materials when they are necessary. These can add energy savings to a structure and also be part of a larger building already incorporating energy savings in its design.

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New products show improvements in green homes 

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Both contractors and homeowners can benefit from studying the latest new improvement to home energy efficiency products. This month, the Greenbuild International Conference and Expo gave attendees a chance to learn more about new options for renovating buildings and lowering energy use levels. While not all of these options were specifically for homes, low-voltage lighting systems and solar panels with complimenting siding were among the products displayed, as Treehugger reports.

Some of these innovations offered ways for homeowners to save energy in the long run, while others are made from recycled materials and represent sustainability that way. The Thermal Insulation Panel from Solatube, for example, incorporates reflective tubing to meet requirements for international U-factor ratings, while organic blocks composed of used cork offer an environmentally-friendly way to absorb sound indoors.

Other improvements showcased at this event are especially designed for dense areas. Last year's Greenbuild featured the FocalPoint Bioretention System among its top ten, which offered a way to process stormwater safely, removing pollutants and keeping residential areas safer.

Greenbuild also strives for best practices during its own operations. Earlier this year, the United States Green Building Council's Vice President, Community Advancement, Conferences and Events, Kate Hurst, described the way sustainable concepts influence the conference's development.

"From reducing environmental impact and waste to saving resources and energy, we have an established record of integrating sustainability into every aspect of planning for Greenbuild," Hurst said in a press release.

As a critical first step for addressing green practices, professionals can look at Mercury Excelum's list of building products and select the right windows, doors and siding that match project goals.

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