Tag Archives: green technology

Enviro Paints and Beyond: What Makes Up Low- and no-VOC Paint

Enviro PaintsVolatile Organic Compounds, or VOCs for short, are paint solvents that are released into the air as paints dry. VOCs emit low-level toxins as they do, hence the recent growth in popularity of low- and no-VOC paints.

Despite their label, even zero-VOC paints still emit some toxins: less than 5 grams per liter of VOC emissions, an amount that is still far lower than conventional petroleum-based paints and solvents. While eco-friendly paints are more expensive than regular paint, you may want to consider them for nurseries and children’s rooms (at the very least).

The eco-friendliest of them all: Natural-based paints. Natural-based paints are made from raw, all-natural ingredients including: milk protein, talcum, beeswax, chalk, minerals, clay pigments, plant oils and resins, and have the lowest VOC levels and odor.

People who are highly allergic or extremely sensitive often prefer natural-based paints since those types of paints are free from petroleum and man-made chemicals. As you can probably guess, these paints are usually the most expensive.

What about ceramic paint? Ceramic paint contains microscopic spherical balls of ceramic that creates a perfectly even pigment extender, the powder-like substance that creates the color you see in the paint itself.

The uniform consistency of the ceramic balls means that paint pigments bond together better when mixed and applied, creating a tough acrylic surface—which often results in the need to paint less frequently, a plus for exteriors in New England, to be sure.

An additional perk is that manufacturers claim that you can scrub clean ceramic-painted surfaces without damaging them.

Another bonus: the microscopic ceramic spheres are tightly packed together, making the paint resistant to bacteria, mold and mildew. If you’re allergic to mold and mildew, you may want to look into ceramic paints for your home’s interior and exterior.

Before you paint: Read this first

Green is sexy. The Sexy Green Home is packed with everything you need to know about “eco-friendly products and solutions” for your greenalicious home.

The Green Seal of approval. Look for the Green Seal label on your paints, building materials and other products; go to greenseal.org to learn more.

Non-profit ConsumerReports.org has the low-down on VOCs in paints: what they are, and what low- and no-VOCs on the label really mean. They also have tips on common painting mistakes to avoid.

Stay healthy. Before you crack open your low-VOC or run-of-the-mill-paint cans, it’s worth taking a few minutes to read up on how to avoid harmful exposure to fumes and other indoor paint-related hazards on EPA’s Introduction to Indoor Air Quality: Volatile Organic Compounds.

Chemical attraction. Better Homes and Gardens’ DIY Advice.com is filled with resources on Paint, Painting, and even the chemistry of paint.

Headquartered in Boston, Bunker Hill Insurance provides home insurance to customers in Massachusetts and Connecticut. Bunker Hill is a member of The Plymouth Rock Group of Companies, which together write and manage over $1 billion in homeowner’s and auto insurance throughout the northeast.

Building a better light bulb: the new technology for lighting your home

LED bulbQ: How many insurance agents does it take to change a light bulb?

A: One, but thanks to the latest crop of light bulbs they’ll only need to change it once every 100,000 hours or so.

Smaller, cooler, and vastly more energy efficient than incandescent bulbs, Light-Emitting Diode (LED) lights for residential applications are now also coming down in price.

While the new bulbs may still cost more to buy than the traditional ones we grew up with, their longer life and lower energy use make them a smart choice for anyone who has to pay the monthly electric bill (and who wants to do their part to help the environment at home).

As LEDs continue to be adopted in our homes and work places, manufacturers are working to improve their design, making them brighter, dimmable, more efficient and interchangeable with more fixtures. They’ve even thought about changing the shape so you can have that plain round bulb design peeking out of your lampshades again. What’s not to love?

Lighting currently consumes about one-fifth of the world’s energy, with offices and industrial use consuming half the total global amount. The newest LED bulbs aim to cut that by up to 90%, substantially preventing millions of tons of greenhouse gases from being created and released into our atmosphere—saving billions of dollars in electricity costs each year in the US alone.

Quick links: a buying guide to LEDs

A little (light!) background reading

Headquartered in Boston, Bunker Hill Insurance provides home insurance to customers in Massachusetts and Connecticut. Bunker Hill is a member of The Plymouth Rock Group of Companies, which together write and manage over $1 billion in homeowner’s and auto insurance throughout the northeast.