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Meghan Belnap

There are a number of different ways you can conserve energy in your home, but one of the most effective ways is to invest in Low-E windows and even different window treatments. Like many other energy conservation efforts, these changes require a bit of an investment upfront; however, the payoff down the road is well worth it. Low-E windows are an innovative product that just recently became available on the market while window treatments have always been an option for regulating the temperature of your home. Consider the benefits of these treatment options, and decide what works for you.

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Low-E Glass

Low-E or Low-Emissive glass is a type of window glass that has been treated with a special coating to support energy conservation. The treatment is typically an invisible metal or metallic oxide coating that creates a surface that reflects heat but still allows light to pass through.

 

To measure the energy efficiency of the window glass in your home, the heat that passes through is measured by the U-factor or ultraviolet light. The lower the U-factor is, the more energy-efficient the glass is. If too much of this ultraviolet heat enters your home, it heats it up and causes your air conditioning bill to go up. Conversely, Low-E glass reduces the heat lost through your windows during window. Loosing less heat means that you’ll pay less to keep your home warmer.

 

To get the most out of your Low-E glass, you need to consider how the pains should be installed. If you live in a warmer climate, install the pane so that the Low-E coating is toward the outside of the window to block the sun. However, if you live in a colder climate, adjust the installation so that the Low-E coating is applied to the inside of the window and holds heat in. These installation techniques ensure that your windows will be as energy-efficient as possible.

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Window Treatments

There are additional options that can also contribute to the energy efficiency of your home. While most people consider window treatments and coverings strictly decorative, they can actually contribute a great deal to energy savings. As you consider your window treatments, be sure to carefully weight your options to select treatments that can reduce heat loss in the winter and heat gain in the summer. Some of the most effective custom window treatments include awnings, blinds, and draperies.

 

Awnings can provide significant energy savings. Attached above south-facing windows, awnings can reduce solar heat gain by up to 65 percent. Used on west-facing windows, the gain reduction is roughly 77 percent. Consider installing an awning that covers one window or the entire side of your home to get the biggest benefit.

 

Interior and exterior blinds are another great option for increasing energy efficiency. Interior blinds offer slightly less protection from heat loss; however, they reduce heat gain by nearly 45 percent. Use these systems to control light and ventilation and to block direct sunlight. Exterior blinds are also effective for reducing heat gain. You can manipulate this type of blind to block the amount of light flowing through to reduce additional heat.

 

Draperies also offer protection against heat loss and gain. If this is a conservation effort you plan to implement, consider the type of fabric you select. Medium-colored draperies with a protective plastic backing can reduce heat gain by 33 percent and heat loss by up to 10 percent when drawn at the appropriate times. For maximum efficiency, attach the drapes so that they reach from ceiling to floor and overlap in the center. You may even consider attaching Velcro to the sides nearest the walls to create a seal.

 

The type of windows you have as well as the window treatments you use can contribute significantly to the energy efficiency of your home. To reduce heat gain and loss, consider installing Low-E glass and selecting appropriate window treatment options for your area. Either way it will be an investment with a great payoff in the long run.

Meghan Belnap

4 Environmentally Friendly Ways To Greenify Your House.JPG

 

Going green is both noble and mainstream in today’s market, but it might not necessarily be easy—or even have a positive impact on your environment. Fortunately you can take good steps with little need for concern and without causing further harm. Check out four ways to greenify your home with environmentally friendly measures below. 

Replenish Food and Water

This goes beyond throwing recyclables in a green bin. Organic material, like banana peels and coffee grounds, give off the highly toxic methane when they decompose in landfills. Clean water is likewise lost when it’s flushed or used in cleaning. Consider converting that food into compost material for fertilizing your plants and garden. As for the water, recycling through treatment tanks like Econocycle systems render spent water clean again for home reuse.

Try Solar Paneling

If the initial cost isn’t a barrier, solar panels go a long way to save you money and supply clean energy to your home. Besides working from a completely sustainable and renewable source, panels operate with grids that store unused energy. Not only does this lower your bills, but it also reduces the carbon footprint left on the planet for roughly 30 years! You might not get much energy when the sun isn’t out, but solar panels are a great option on both the financial and environmental ends. 

Regulate Air Flow

Whether it’s hot or cold outside, your air conditioning has a large effect on how much energy your home wastes. Cutting back on potential waste is simple, from sealing up any leaky holes to keeping filters clean, but there are more extensive options, as well. Installing an automatic thermostat to keep the temperature comfortable is one such route; buying a more energy-efficient AC unit is another. 

Buy Local

Your farmer’s market can boost the local economy and provide access to homegrown natural or organic foods, but the benefits don’t stop there. You might decrease carbon emissions based on how far business owners would otherwise ship products, or you might help decrease packaging waste and production emissions. Chances are your hometown businesses want to keep their environment clean, too!

When it comes to environmental consciousness, what’s most important is making good choices. It takes some commitment to do it well, but it isn’t difficult. With the four steps listed above, you will be well on your way to a cleaner, greener home.

Meghan Belnap
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In today's society many environmentally conscious and thrifty individuals seek the freedom that comes from living off the grid. Innovations in energy and water conservation have provided avenues for many to become less reliant on city resources. Here are some examples of alternative energy sources and conservation methods that ordinary home owners can use on their journey to sustainable living.

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Take Advantage of a Wind Energy Windfall

Wind energy is one of the main alternative energy products that has been used by commercial operations for many years. These industrial organizations refined wind energy collection and distribution methods with sophisticated wind farms where one large wind turbine can produce enough power for 600 households. These techniques are now scalable for residential use, and small wind electric systems potentially cut electricity bills by up to 90 percent depending on one's windy location. These wind turbines that are equipped for residential use are nonpolluting, and many systems are capable of running independently of the city's electric grid.

Employ Energy Efficient Heating and Cooling Systems

Many household appliances received energy-efficient make overs in recent years, and residential heating, ventilation, air conditioning and cooling (HVAC) systems from Romaniuk Heating & Air Conditioning Ltd are no exceptions. Well-known HVAC system manufacturers have developed patented electronic controls that modify residential temperatures at smaller increments. This creates a temperate indoor environment that requires less energy to maintain. Also, some HVAC systems use solar power in conjunction with these other energy-saving mechanisms.

Be Solar Savvy

Solar power is one of the most common sources of alternative energy used throughout the world. Roof top solar power systems that produce a household's entire energy supply are still expensive, but there are some cheaper ways to harness enough solar energy to reduce one's reliance on city power. Besides installing do it yourself solar panels around one's property, home owners will soon be able to pick up solar shutters and blinds from their local hardware stores and collect solar energy in a relatively inexpensive way. These special window treatments block heat producing summer sun rays while absorbing the energy for household power consumption. Another smart solar power invention is a flexible, tensile material with thin solar absorbing sheets built into the fabric. People can use this material to give shade to sunny patios, decks or car ports while collecting significant amounts of solar energy. While not yet available in local stores, home owners can get some of these products from the inventors who sell them in small quantities over the internet.

The described sustainable living tools are just a few examples from a fast growing industry that continues to develop environmentally friendly products. These products often spark other creative ideas that promote the cause of sustainable living.

Meghan Belnap
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Green technology is becoming more on the forefront of everyone's minds as the worry of global warming increases. The many positive impacts of green technology are numerous and can be measured by the attention that green tech has garnered in the past decade. Below we will explore some of the specifics of why some types of tech are better than others.

Solar Power

Unlike non-renewable energy sources like fossil fuels, the sun is a renewable energy source that should stick around another 6 billion years according to NASA. Also, the surface of earth receives more sunlight then the power needed to supply the entire world. These are just a couple reasons why solar power is important going forward in turning this planet into a green planet.

Wind Turbines

There are many benefits of using wind turbines to produce energy.

  • Do not produce carbon dioxide when in use
  • Wind is a free fuel, making it the cheapest renewable energy technologies on the market.
  • Just one wind turbine can produce enough energy to support over 1,500 homes.

As you can see, these are just three of the reasons why wind turbines have a positive impact in the green technology movement.

Reduced Paper Usage

Because of the technological advances of the 20th century, the need for paper has decreased. Now, more and more people use computers to send letters and write papers. By reducing the need for paper, the demand for deforestation decreases which allows more trees to stay, increasing our natural energy in the world.

Electric Cars

Electric cars can decrease the use of fossil fuels as they increase of production of them improve as time goes on. Combining wind turbines to produce energy, electric cars can have a huge positive impact on this planet.

Recycling Tires

Recycling tires have many benefits to society. For one, they have a good source of fuel because of the high heating value of a tire. Also, they can be converted into material that makes roads and running tracks as well as playground mulch. You can easily see the benefit to the environment that Eco Green recycled tires has as the need for sand and gravel drops. Because of this reduced demand there will be less mining for those

materials.

Better Batteries

Lithium-ion batteries have more power and less space than other batteries and they produce less energy than other batteries. Phones, laptops, and cars are all moving to lithium-ion batteries to help the environment.

As you see above, these are just six of many more positive impacts of Green Technology. We all can make a difference by just recycling items that we used daily. If we just do a little bit of work, we can all make this planet greener and better off.

Meghan Belnap

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Trying to be as environmentally-friendly as possible is something that most homeowners want to do. Some are doing it because it ends up saving them money while others worry about the kind of effect they are having on this earth. The following are five tips for eco-conscious people moving into a new home.

Good Appliances

It is important that you replace some of the appliances in your home. You need to make sure you install eco-friendly appliances that will not drain your electricity or will not use so much water. You do not have to switch all your appliances at once, but start as soon as possible.

Water Management

Homes can waste a lot of water due to mismanagement. You can take steps to ensure your home manages water in a few ways; for example, you can install automatic sprinklers. These should be set to wet your grass at night or early in the morning to avoid heat, which evaporates water and ends up wasting it. It might also be a good idea to think about using drought-resistant plant life to reduce water use.

Recycling Is Key

Sometimes, it is overlooked but it is important that you contract rubbish collectors as soon as you move into your new home. The right company can ensure your home recycles early on by providing containers such as skip bins for your needs. The waste removal company should be able to tell you what happens to your trash and recyclables if you are wondering.

Get Educated

You need to take steps to learn about living eco-consciously. There are a few things that you can learn so that you can be more eco-friendly like composting some of your trash, which can be used to feed lawns or gardens. Taking steps to becoming knowledgeable in everything eco-friendly should make things easier for you.

Consider an Inspection

It is important that you have your home inspected as often as possible. You probably already went through an inspection before purchasing your new home but that does not mean there haven’t been any changes. What you want to pay attention to are leaks, which could be wasting water or cracks or window seal issues. These problems could make it harder for your AC to work, which ends up using more energy and that is not what you want.

Hopefully, some of these tips make it easier for you to live as eco-conscious as you can. Be sure to talk to other eco-friendly homeowners to see if there are other steps you can take.

Meghan Belnap

Ditch The Chemicals 4 Ways Organic Fertilizer Is Better For Your Lawn.JPG

Organic living goes way beyond the food you eat and cleaning products you buy. Organic living can and should play a role in every aspect of your life, from the clothes you wear to caring for your lawn. Yes, caring for your lawn. You don't have to be a slave to the chemical grass treatments, here are four ways organic fertilizer is better for your lawn. 

1. Friability
Friability is what science calls the breaking down of a solid. Soil friability is what happens when chemical fertilizers are used. The chemicals break down the natural rock that is in the soil causing the dirt to compact and become hard. This hardened and compact earth prevents rain water from soaking into the ground. So while chemical fertilizers have an immediate impact on your lawn, they also provide long term detriment. 

2. Worms
Earthworms are incredibly important to the health of the soil. According to a reference article by the University of Pennsylvania, the earthworm actually aerates the soil which allows air, water and nutrients to penetrate deep into the ground. Interestingly, the plants cannot directly consume these nutrients. The earthworms eat the dirt and their waste, or castings, is what the plants use to get the nutrients needed. The acidity found in chemical fertilizers can kill the earthworms that keep the soil alive. 

3. Contamination of Groundwater
Another study shows chemical fertilizer moves through the soil in a process called leaching, and contaminates the water. Once this contamination exceeds 10 parts per million nitrate-nitrogen, it can cause harm to fish and other inhabitants of the water, infants and children and cause the water to turn green and become odorous.

4. Greater Yield Today and Tomorrow
Yes, chemical fertilizers act fast and you see instant gratification of a pretty lawn. At first that is. Over time, the use of chemical fertilizers kill the micro-organisms that live in the soil. These micro-organisms prevent diseases that would otherwise attack and kill your plants and grass. Overtime, chemical fertilizers not only stop working, but they prevent a long term and sustainable lawn. 

Chemical fertilizer companies have the market share on fast acting products but the organic market is coming up fast behind them. Companies like Nature Safe develop organic products and lawn care programs that not only promote healthy lawns but are yielding amazing results.

The newer organic products hitting the market today are upping the stakes of the game by no longer using manure and creating fertilizers that increase the density and the stress tolerance of the grass, all while ensuring a long and healthy life for the lawn and the organisms that live in it. 

Meghan Belnap

Land Maintenance 4 Tips to Taking Care of Your Property in All 4 Seasons.jpegMother Nature can wreak havoc on your property in different ways throughout the year. While you may understandably be focused on protecting your home from damage throughout the year, you also need to think about land care and maintenance. After all, the condition of your land can affect your property in many ways. As one example, irrigation issues can result in erosion or a loss in property value. These are some of the excellent steps that you can take to care for your land year-round.

Maintain a Fence

If your property is like many others, you may have a fence around at least part of your area. This fence may be designed for security and privacy. Perhaps it is in place to keep your livestock in a confined area or to keep predatory animals away. It is wise to inspect your fence carefully each season. Look for any signs of damage, and correct even the smallest issues as soon as possible before they turn into major issues.

Invest in the Right Equipment

Depending on the size of your yard or land, you may need to regular mow or trim it. A push lawnmower may be all that is needed for a smaller yard. A riding lawnmower may work well for a larger yard, and you may even need to invest in a tractor from a place like Bane-Welker Equipment if you own an acreage estate. Remember that this is just one of many types of equipment that you may need access to in order to care for your land throughout the year.

Focus on Irrigation

In many areas, dry seasons and even droughts can damage your vegetation. In severe cases, a drought may create huge cracks in the ground that are a danger for people or animals to walk across. Finding a way to irrigate your land effectively during dry seasons and droughts is important. Analyze all irrigation options so that you are prepared to provide your land with the moisture that it needs when natural precipitation is not plentiful.

Protect Your Vegetation

On a very large acreage estate, it may not be feasible or practical to care for every plant on your property. Native plants on this type of property may simply need to suffer through the forces of Mother Nature. However, if you have special vegetation on your property, such as a century-old oak tree or beautiful roses bushes that you invest your time and energy into, you may need to protect these in various ways.

For example, bushes may need to be covered when freezing weather conditions are present. A huge old tree may need to be trimmed periodically to ensure that it is healthy and that the weight is properly distributed.

Caring for your home is a top priority, but you also need to take care of your land. Your land’s care needs may change from season to season. Follow these tips to better care for your property.

 

Meghan Belnap
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Water seems like it is the one thing that we humans will never run out of but don't be so sure. With modernization of morer and more of the world, this precious resource is being polluted and used at an alarming rate. With water being one of the most necessary resources for the survival of all plants and animals it’s a very precious resource that needs to be preserved and protected from pollution. Thankfully, you can take steps to improve the quality of your water and conserve it at home.

Why Water Conservation Matters

The majority of the Earth may be covered by water. However, only a small fraction of that water is suitable for consumption by humans and animals. In certain areas, such as the western United States, droughts are a serious danger that can destroy ecosystems, put farmers out of business and devastate local communities. Wasting water can have a tangible and negative effect.

Why Water Cleanliness Matters

Water cleanliness is also a serious issue. For one, access to clean and unpolluted water is necessary for a long and healthy life. If someone drinks contaminated water, it could lead to death due to bacterial infection. Water that has been polluted by toxins and chemicals can also slowly deteriorate a person’s health and lead to an early demise.

How to Conserve Water at Home

Conserving water at home requires action. You should be reassessing how you use water in every part of your home during each part of the day. For example, showers waste gallons of water in a home each day. However, if you install a low-flow showerhead, you could prevent your family from wasting as much water. Installing low-flow faucet fixtures and toilets can also make a big difference. You can also make other changes in your home. For example, you could switch to hand washing your clothes and start collecting rain water for your plants.

How to Maintain Water Cleanliness at Home

Water cleanliness is also extremely important at home. Maintaining a high level of water quality means insuring your family stays healthy. Unless you are provided with city water that has already been thoroughly treated, you need to treat your water supply yourself to make sure it is safe to drink. A water softener from Anderson Water Systems, for example, can remove magnesium, calcium and iron from water. Installing filters on faucets used for drinking water can provide additional protection. A reverse osmosis filtration system could also make just about any water source safe for human consumption

Overall, improving the cleanliness of your home’s water supply and lowering your home’s water consumption takes a bit of work. However, the benefit for your family as well as the environment is always worth the effort.

Meghan Belnap

If you are a concerned eco-friendly entrepreneur, there are many inspiring and creative ways to make and keep your business “green” and help the environment in safe ways at the same time. Feel good about helping Mother Nature to maintain our natural resources for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations.

There is an extra benefit because it helps your reputation that consumers want to support a green business, and you can thus show customers that you care about the environment and are making strides for improvements within your business.

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Eco-friendly Landscaping

Professional landscaping for your business property lawn can be ordered that will save energy, water and money. Such inclusions can be drought-resistant plants, synthetic turf, strategically placed trees and more.

 

Use All-natural, Organic and Recycled Products

Cleaning products and soaps can be purchased that use common organic materials that are much better for the environment. Office supplies including all types of paper, file folders, toilet paper, paper towels, cups, and plates can be purchased made from recycled products.

 

Aerial Imagery and Conscience Digging

Learn from an oil company that uses the aerial photographic services of Terra Server to get imagery and the geography of areas to find appropriate places to dig where it will not harm the environment. You might have the type of business that needs to evaluate and analyze the working area landscape.

 

Encourage Employees to Recycle

Keep waste bins separate from recycling bins, and make sure they are clearly labeled to make their use easy. Explain to employees how good this is for the environment and how it cuts trash expenses. Also, ask the employees to make suggestions for ways the company can be made more eco-friendly.

 

Cut Down on Wasted Energy

Be less wasteful and more energy-efficient by closing off unused rooms so they do not need to be heated and cooled, and setting the thermometer higher or lower depending on when you are open for business and when you are closed during non-business hours. Additionally, have employees shut off unused equipment including their computers at the end of the work day.

 

By making your business more eco-friendly, or “going green”, the above measures will cut down on costs. By saving money in as many areas and ways as possible, you can spend more on important things such as marketing to grow your business.

Meghan Belnap

Go Green How to Incorporate Energy Efficient Ideas to the Rest of Your Family.jpg

A “green” lifestyle is one which, once it grabs hold of you, doesn’t let go easily. At the same time, unfortunately, getting your family on board with the idea of making major changes can be a bit more challenging. To get them interested, it’s important to take baby steps so they can fully realize the benefits of a “green” lifestyle. Here are a few steps you can take when you have a family member who’s resistant to making eco-friendly changes.

Provide a Few LED Bulbs

Led bulbs have advanced tremendously in technology and dropped significantly in price since their invention in 1962. Still, many people are hesitant to change over to them, worried about the quality of light or the upfront cost of the bulbs. If the people in your life who you’re trying to convince don’t live with you, you may want to provide them with a few LED bulbs as a gift. Once they see the instant-on, cool-to-the-touch, and energy-sipping capabilities of LED bulbs in their own home, they’ll be hooked.

Make Recycling Easy

One complaint that some people have about recycling is that it’s time-consuming to take the recyclable materials to a recycling center, which may be quite far away. By providing eco-friendly skip bins, recycling suddenly becomes a lot more convenient. Depending on an individual’s usage, you can select from a variety of sizes to ensure they can recycle to their heart’s content.

Stay Clean

It may seem odd, but one of the best ways to encourage family members toward energy efficiency is to keep yourself clean. A common hesitation that people have with low-flow shower heads and faucets is that they think they don’t clean as well as their traditional counterparts. By regularly successfully utilizing a low-flow shower head, you can show that these devices truly do work and truly do help protect the environment.

Let Them Eat

Composting is a great way to create rich soil that is great for growing a vibrant and beautiful vegetable garden. By utilizing various ingredients that you obtain from your garden in your cooking, you’ll quickly assuage any concerns your family members may have about the cost and effort involved in successful composting. Since there are so many ways to do composting, it’s also a good idea to have plans ready for your family members to follow once they start asking how you’re able to do it.

Give Them Time

As with any major change in another person’s life, the change to a “green” lifestyle is bound to take time. Though it may seem like progress is coming at a snail’s pace, over time you’ll be able to look back and see just how far your family has come, with the added satisfaction of having played a role in that transformation.

 

Meghan Belnap

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According to the UN News Center, one of the world's most pressing issues is meeting water needs. Without changes in water consumption and conservation, the world will find it challenging to meet the water needs of the world's 2050 projected population of 9.6 billion. With extreme drought threatening areas including metropolitan California and southern Somalia, conserving water and reusing water will make what we have go further. Try these tips to make a difference.

Use a Shower Bucket

Collect the water that flows before the water heater gets the shower spray ready. You'll end up with plenty of clean, fresh water for another use, like filling your pets' water bowls.

Cooking Water

After cooking pasta, place a bowl under the colander and drain the pasta. After it cools, the pasta water you'd usually pour down the drain is perfect for watering indoor plants. The same goes for the water used to wash vegetables. If you find a partially drunk glass of water while gathering the dirty dishes, feed it to a plant.

Take Baths

Between 7 to 10 gallons of water goes down the drain in a shower. So, put your feet up in a relaxing bath instead. Reuse your bath water to wash the car, clean bathroom tiles, mop the floor, etc. You can have a plumber install a drain to an indoor or outdoor recycling system.

Rethink Your Water System

Reuse your sewage-free waste water to water the lawn, garden or crops. Gray water refers to reusable waste water from bathroom sinks, bath/shower drains and washing machine drains. It's commonly used for landscape irrigation. These systems simply divert your gray water using submersible pumps and pipes, such as those developed by PFC Equipment, Inc. The same systems used on construction sites and at mining operations can help your home or farm save water. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, there have been no documented cases of human health issues from properly treated recycled water.

Car Wash

Park your vehicle near the lawn and shrubs when you wash it. Use soap and water to wash the car, then let the rinse water run onto the lawn. You'll accomplish two tasks at once and the soapy water won't hurt your lawn.

Let these five simple ways to make your water go further kick start your conservation efforts. Not only will you help the environment, you'll likely see your water bill decrease. These tips may seem small, but if everybody in the world implemented these practices, imagine how much water and money could be saved.

Meghan Belnap

Green Dwelling 4 Additions To An Environmentally Sound Home.JPG

Green homes help reduce environmental damage and waste commonly caused by standard home construction and life habits. They also offer homeowners many additional benefits. They can lower utility and grocery bills, improve your home's value and make your overall life better. To reap these benefits and more, consider the following green home additions:

Composting Room

Composting bins turn plant-based waste materials from cooking and gardening into nutrient-rich fertilizer. A composting room is an extension of this idea designed to replace the traditional detached "garden shed" with a more efficient setup that allows you easy access to compost and garden supplies throughout the year even during cold weather. Since gases and odors are a byproduct of composting, you only need to run an attached ventilation duct from the enclosed bin to the outside through a wall or the ceiling to make this room work.

Automatic Systems

A lot of electricity and water loss occurs because homeowners often forget to turn off manual home systems like indoor and outdoor lights, sprinklers and thermostats. An automatic control system utilizes software and/or sensors to optimize usage. For example, an automatic system with light-detection sensors might turn on outdoor lights at night and then turn them off immediately in the morning or turn off indoor lights that you typically forget to turn off after a certain time at night. 

Green Roofing

Homeowners can enjoy flower and vegetable gardens, safeguard the environment and save on heating, cooling and grocery costs without using up nearby land with green roofing. A "green" or "vegetative" roof turns an often unused home area into a garden paradise. The advantages of green roofing go beyond energy efficiency and fresh fruits and vegetables. You also receive greater roof and ceiling leak protection, higher local oxygen contribution and reduced chemical and noise pollution and government tax breaks. 

Nontoxic Materials

Many standard home building and furniture materials, such as plastics, formaldehyde-containing fiberboard and adhesives, release toxic gases or break down into toxic dust over time that damage the environment and cause sick buildings syndrome. The "addition" of environmentally-friendly materials that release fewer harmful volatile organic chemicals after the removal of toxic ones can both improve your health and increase the value of your home.

If your home is not already a green dwelling, it is time to do your part for the environment, yourself and your community. Start with one of these four green additions to improve your world and standard of living.

Meghan Belnap

Gardening 101 How to Improve the Aesthetics and Functionality of Your Yard.jpeg

In your front yard and backyard, you may strive to create a beautiful space that enhances the style of your home. Both of these spaces can impact your personal enjoyment of the space as well as affect how you use your home for entertaining and more. You understandably want to have a lovely yard, but you also need this space to be as functional as possible. You can improve your space from an aesthetic and functional standpoint alike by turning your attention to these tips.

Give Pets a Space of Their Own

Your pets may spend a considerable amount of time outdoors. They may love running and playing, but they can also dig holes, leave messes and more. A smart idea is to install a chain link fence from somewhere like Diamond Fence Pty Ltd to create a run for your pets. This will be a dedicated space that they can have complete freedom in, and the rest of your yard will remain pristine and fully functional for entertainment and more.

Examine the Flow of Water

While pets can interfere with the look and functionality of your yard, water can do the same. When water is not well-controlled on your property, it can create runoff canals and muddy puddles that decrease the look and use of your yard substantially. Some water issues can result in erosion around your home’s foundation. You can examine the flow of water and use features like gutters or a dry creek bed with smooth river stones to better control water on your property.

Consider Hardscaping Features

Hardscaping features are permanent features that are added to your yard, and they often have functional and aesthetic purposes. For example, a stone border around your flowerbeds keeps the mulch in place while creating a lovely delineation between the beds and your lawn. Patios, paved walkways and more are all examples of hardscaping features that you can consider adding to your yard.

Add Landscape Lighting

Landscape lighting can serve beneficial purposes during the daytime and nighttime hours. During the day, the fixtures are visible and become an aesthetic feature that adds style to your yard. During the evening, the lighting can enhance safety and usability in the yard. The illumination can also improve the look of your space when the lighting is properly spaced.

Spend time analyzing the challenges in your yard as a first step. Then, you can explore each of these ideas in detail to determine how they can help you to resolve your challenges.

Meghan Belnap
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Most people don't take the time to consider how their front or back yards are affecting the environment. While many property owners make investments in energy efficient products like solar panels or LED light bulbs, they hardly think of how the property beyond the walls of their home is being wasted when it could promote an efficient and sustainable environment. It's time to think beyond the staples of what we consider green living and maximize what the right type of landscaping can do for your environmental impact. Here are some ideas that will make your yard your neighborhood's beacon of sustainability:

Raised/Green Gardens

Long before pristine sprawls of useless grass became the standard use for a homeowner's plot of earth, the soil was used to feed the family and even make a profit. Now, fruits and vegetables are picked before they are ripe and are shipped half way around the world to arrive on grocery shelves with the right color but lacking the flavor of locally grown, ripe produce. Why buy bland, imported produce with a large carbon footprint when you can grow it just outside?

Start by building a wooden box frame and filling it with top soil or hiring one of the best landscapers in Utah to help. This project can be as simple or complex as you like. Build the walls of the box and don't cover it: that's where your plants will grow. A bottom for the box is not necessary, but if you are concerned about old pollutants in your yard's dirt like motor oil or lead that might be leeched into the garden's top soil, you can lay out a plywood floor to build your box around. You can make this box frame as long and wide as you like, and you can build multiple frames with walking space of about three feet between them if you have the space for it and want to compartmentalize your garden.

Once each box is filled with rich top soil from your gardening supply store, or better yet your own compost pile, you can begin planting seeds. A raised garden will benefit your wallet, your dinner table, and the world's climate when you stop feeding the beast of the global grocery supply chain and bring things back to your own yard.

Composting

Buying a compost bin is a great way to start taking the biodegradable food waste hauled to the dump and recycle it right at home. Garbage trucks need to pick up, haul, and bury your coffee grounds, food scraps, leaves, newspaper, ashes, and other biodegradable trash, but if you start putting it into a compost bin you can create a carbon and nitrogen rich fertilizer to put directly into your garden to nourish soil and feed plants. By buying a low cost compost bin (a plastic one will suffice), you can reduce waste production and turn your garden into a fertile paradise at the cost of an easy to set up bin and the time it takes for your food and yard waste to decompose inside it.

Low Flow Watering System

Lawn lovers can go green by limiting their water use. Some sprinklers are designed to maximize efficiency with water usage. Look for a "low flow" sprinkler or sprinkler kit, and do your part to protect our water reserves. Lawns are considered a luxury in a draught-prone area, so limiting your yard's water usage can help ensure water is there for it in the long run.

With these simple green yard tips, you can be sure to make an impact on your local environment and neighborhood. The effort you put into your yard will not only help your wallet but the entire environment.

Meghan Belnap
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The past decade has seen an energy revolution. Everything is becoming more and more efficient, appliances included. That means they take less of your energy bill and are friendly to the environment. But do the savings behind this new efficiency justify the purchase of a new appliance?

To tackle this question, we talked to appliance experts from Atlas Appliances Ltd. They had a few bits of valuable information regarding this topic:

Take Inventory

Consider replacing the appliances in your home and watch how much money you begin to save on your electric bills. Replacing home appliances such as refrigerators, dishwashers. Washers and dryers can account for savings of nearly 15% of your home’s energy budget.

If you are getting ready to move or remodel, or considering replacing older appliances within your home, save some money by purchasing energy efficient appliances.

Each appliance will come with 2 separate purchase prices; the first displays the initial cost of the appliance, and the second refers to the operating cost over its potential lifetime. Basically, you are paying second cost annually, through the lifespan of that appliance on your power bill.

Check for Energy Star

Most appliances now come with a yellow Energy-Guide tag to assist you in estimating an operating cost for that particular appliance. Purchasing an ENERGY STAR®- appliance cuts the second price-tag down because it will save money in the long-term. In actual fact, Energy efficient-certified washers as well as refrigerators provide an additional 20% energy efficiency over the standard appliance models of their kind. Energy efficient dishwashers typically use around 5.5 gallons, per cycle or less of water, while dishwashers bought prior to 1994, will sometimes use in access of 10 gallons of water, per each washing cycle.

Change Lifestyle/Think Green

The operation of your appliance will also affect any potential savings, in a major way every month. You can cut back greatly on appliance cost per month, by following the simple methods below.

  • Only run the dishwasher once you have a completely full load.
  • Scrape food off your dishes before loading as opposed to rinsing the food off.
  • Air-dry your dishes instead of heat-dry (button supplied on my dishwashers) will help in cutting back on energy used by the dishwasher.
  • For laundry, use only cold water if possible instead or warm or hotter settings.
  • Dry your towels or heavy-cottons separately, washing lighter-weight clothing together.
  • Refrigerator seals should be airtight – Shut the door over a sheet of paper or $1 bill, if paper pulls out effortlessly, adjustments or seals may need be replaced.

Typically the energy efficient appliances may initially cost more, but will save much more money in the end. Most key appliances will last from 10 to 20 years, so appliances that are more efficient end-up paying for themselves; lowering your monthly energy costs.

Meghan Belnap

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You may not be aware just how many different types of fertilizers there are. Ranging from chemical fertilizers to natural fertilizers and organic fertilizers. The choice you make can have a significant effect in a number of different ways.

Of all fertilizer options, going organic will not only benefit your yard but it will have lasting effects on the betterment of the environment. Organic fertilizer is basically a carbon-based compound that increases the growth quality and productivity of plants and soil. Plant pundits state that organic fertilizers have various benefits that include:

1. Employment Opportunities
Chemical fertilizers are manufactured in large plants that are highly mechanized and automated. The factories have a capacity of literally millions of tons. On the other hand, organic fertilizers are produced locally and on a significantly smaller scale. Therefore, the production of these organic fertilizers actually creates jobs, especially in rural locations.

2. Fertility Of The Soil
Organic fertilizers can also keep ground fertile for hundreds of years. Research has revealed that the ancient ground in such places as China and India are actually still fertile despite the fact that it has been farmed for literally thousands of years. The ground remains fertile because those who used the land fertilized it with organic fertilizers. Chemical fertilizers can quickly make ground infertile and create an unbreakable chain of dependency on chemical fertilizers.

3. Low Capital Investment & On-Location Production 
Experts note that organic fertilizers also aid in increasing the nutrient-holding capacity and in managing the soil structure. Because of this, those who have practiced organic farming or otherwise regularly used organic fertilizer for several years will need a lot less fertilizer. The soil is already rich in numerous important nutrients. According to Nature Safe, many organic fertilizer contains a blend of various plant and animal meals that balance sugars, starches, carbohydrates, proteins and fats. This increases the number of natural microbes found in the soil.

4. Safe For The Environment
Finally, all organic fertilizers are easily biodegradable. They do not cause any type of environmental pollution. Chemical fertilizers, however, can and sometimes do contaminate both the water and the land. This has been reported to be one of the major causes of diseases in human beings. In fact, various sources have concluded that chemical fertilizers are responsible for the extinction of several different animal, insect and plant species.

It's simple. Organic fertilizers are the smart choice. They are inexpensive, effective and can even help small businesses. More importantly, organic fertilizers are great for the environment.

 

Meghan Belnap
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You’ve heard it before: caring for the environment starts at home. No change is too small and it’s easier than you think to have a green-friendly home. Making changes for the betterment of the environment can help your wallet too. Follow these simple tips and become an eco-friendly homeowner today.

1. Keep an Eye on the Thermostat Year-Round

According to MSN Real Estate, as much as half of your yearly energy use can be from your air conditioner and heating systems. Save power (and money) by keeping your heat down during the wintertime. During the colder months, you’ll save as much as 5% of heat for every degree you set your thermostat below 68 degrees.

2. Create a Compost Bin

When the spring rolls around, consider starting your very own compost bin (or buy one ready-made from your area hardware store). Throw kitchen scraps into the bin to reuse your home’s waste - you can use the compost for an array of things, including gardening.

3. Upgrade Your Windows

Installing energy efficient windows is one of the best ways to go green at home. Energy-friendly windows will help your home to stay cool in the summer (and they’ll keep heat from escaping during the colder months). You can also regulate temperatures when it’s hot outside by installing ceiling fans and keeping your shades drawn until the sun goes down. Couple energy-efficient window panes from Sunrise Windows & Doors Depot Ltd. with curtains to help regulate temperature and energy retention.

4. Maintain Your Appliances

In order for your home’s appliances to work efficiently and use as little energy as possible, they must be maintained. Create a maintenance schedule and hire a pro to make major repairs when necessary. Cleaning the refrigerator coils and unplugging any electronics you don’t use often are two simple ways to cut down on energy use. If you have an old appliance that's zapping way too much energy, consider retro-fitting it or replacing it.

5. Limit Paper Use

Save a tree by cutting down on how much paper you use. Get your mailing address off of junk mail lists, sign up for electronic bill pay and send e-cards and invitations instead of hard copy stationery. Also, try to use paper and paper items made from recyclable materials whenever you can. Lastly, reading books on an e-reader is a much less wasteful way of curing your literary itch!

Small changes truly add up - whenever possible, opt for the green way to do things. Not only will you be helping the environment, but you’ll see a decrease in your heating and electricity bill as well!

Meghan Belnap

Everyone wants to save a little more money, especially on electric bills since it is usually one of the highest bills people have to deal with. This is true during the winter when you turn up the heat to stay warm. Do not fret about this; there are a few ways to stay warm while reducing your electric bill.

Use a Fan

One way to stay warm this winter without forcing your heater to work hard is to use a fan. What you want to do is simply reverse the blades so that they are spinning clockwise. There is usually a switch on the fan that helps you do this. The reason this is effective is that the fan pulls cool air upward while pushing warm air downward, helping your home warm up faster.

Insulate, Insulate

It is important that you do your best to insulate your home. You can add insulating foam to your attic, basement, and the walls if needed. You are going to have to talk to a professional to have your home insulated though some homeowners try to do it on their own. Making your home trap warmer air while keeping cooler air out should definitely help reduce this bill.

Alternate a Bit

Sometimes the best thing you can do is use an alternative way of heating your home to avoid those electric bills. You might want to consider a fuel-powered heater instead of the one that uses electricity.

The prices are more than competitive as long as you find a company that sells bulk fuel such as BUCKSFUEL.COM at the right rate. These furnaces are just as good as electric furnaces, which should be good enough for a family trying to stay warm without breaking the bank.

Repairs Make a Difference

Some homes have little problems that could make it harder for your heater to preserve warmth, which spikes your bill in the long run. For example, air could escape from your home through weak window seals, cracks on the walls, or other similar issues.

What you want to do is inspect your home, and try to deal with all of these problems to ensure that warm air stays in. Again, you can hire a professional, or try to deal with these little issues on your own.

Hopefully, some of these suggestions help keep you warm while saving money. Remember, there is always more to do. For example, you can wear warmer clothes made with materials like wool or alpaca.

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Meghan Belnap
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With the rising cost and limited supply of nonrenewable energy sources, many businesses are looking elsewhere to power their buildings. Some companies reduce their carbon footprint by using solar panels; others use windmills to provide their energy needs. Some are turning to more unique and modern energy savers. A busy train station in Stockholm, for example, converts body heat into warm water that is then used to heat a nearby building. This saves them 25 percent on energy costs. Going green, however, isn't just for companies any longer. Consumers like you can take part in the action, cutting energy costs down in the process. Go green with these five modern ideas.

Charge Your Devices Using The Sun

If you're like the rest of us, you've got a million devices attached to you at once. Problems arise when you're out for an extended period of time and any one of them dies. Solar powered chargers offer a unique way to keep you connected, from cases to covers to water-resistant USB chargers. Some come directly built into the case, while others are mini stand-alone panels. Their use could not be simpler: Find a sunny area, plug in the charger if necessary, face the small solar panel skyward, and let the sun go to work. They are perfect for people who live in a sunny area with little cloud cover. Because of the way they produce electricity, solar cells emit no emissions, waste, or byproducts.

Go Hydro

If you live near an abundantly-flowing water resource like a river, a microhydropower system may be a good option. Hydroelectric power provides an economic source of energy by converting flowing water into electricity. Run-of-the-river systems, the most common type, have three components that convert water to electricity--a pipeline that delivers the water, a waterwheel that transforms the water into rotational energy, and a generator that converts this energy to electricity. Microhydropower systems are an especially viable option for people who use solar power, providing energy in the winter months when the sun is not readily available. These systems can generate up to 100 kilowatts of energy, providing well more than enough for your home.

Tankless Water Heaters Rule

Unlike the traditional water heaters that heat water in advance and store it until it is used, tankless heaters heat it on demand. No more running out of hot water in the shower! Some even offer temperature adjustments, convenient for those who are in danger of scalding themselves, such as the elderly or those with nerve damage in the hands. While tankless water heaters are typically more expensive than their counterparts, they are more energy efficient, and pay for themselves relatively quickly.

Cut Costs with Modern Insolation

A properly insolated home is more comfortable and cheaper to run than one using less quality material, and can also increase air-tightness by 70 percent. First, get an energy audit to see where your leaks are occurring. Properly install your insolation or replace windows, and try to find recycled material that is water-, fire-, and mold-resistant. If you want to know how to make your home more green and save on your next energy bill then you don’t have to look further than the nearest window. New low-e windows can help immensely with heat retention and help cut cost with modern developments.

Install a Greywater System

A greywater system captures and sterilizes your bath and washing machine water and reuses it for flushing the toilet. Though you must plumb the house in order to install it, the savings make up for the inconvenience. Toilet flushing typically uses 30 percent of your water intake. A greywater system would cut your bill by a third. It's estimated that you'll save around $250 annually.

Though solar panels and windmills are often the first things people think of when discussing green energy, they should be far from the last. Try these unique energy-saving ideas and you'll be one step ahead of your neighbors on the energy-efficient bandwagon.

Meghan Belnap
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It isn't really necessary to have a green thumb to create green landscaping or to make your renovations more eco-friendly. Landscaping is partly an art and a science. The basic steps to green landscaping are to plan ahead and choose landscapes that endure and also add an eco-friendly element to the final result.

Green Landscaping

The fundamentals of green landscaping are fairly simple. Start with a complete review of the existing soil, soil moisture, climate and types of plants preferred. If there are a lot of obstructions like tree stumps and large, exposed roots, consider a digging service like Kamloops Septic Service that specializes in hydro excavations. The use of pressurized water to remove roots and rocks is an eco-friendly way of outdoor renovating. The water is clean, safe and won't add chemicals to the local drainage systems. Once all of this debris is removed, review the design of the green landscape plan.

Protection from the Elements

If the home or building is located in a windy area, it may be necessary to create a wind break using a fence of evergreens, Russian olive shrubs or privet hedges. With this kind of natural wind break you can help reduce soil erosion and water loss as well as create a natural privacy barrier.

Consider the Foliage

Choose plants that are compatible with the soil. Not all plants like sandy soil, just as not all plants do well in dark loam. When planting wild flowers, trees or shrubs, check with the regulatory compliance authority before planting takes place. Certain types of wild plants may be protected from extinction. Others grow in their natural environment without much encouragement if the soil is compatible.

Making Interior Renovations More Eco-Friendly

When making renovations inside a home or building, check all of the tags and labels to insure they meet standard environmental compliance. This applies to roofing, flooring and insulating materials. Most paints and wallpapers today are manufactured according to eco-friendly regulations. When renovating or replacing fixtures and piping, check the ratings for these as well. Many of these can be recycled when it's time to replace them. Keep a careful watch on how to recycle older pipes, sheet rock and exterior shingles and roofing materials. When renovating an outdoor driveway, consult with installers to ask if materials like asphalt or cement can be replaced with natural, eco-friendly pavers or stones.

The secret to green landscaping is to understand the compatibility between nature's ecological balance and personal choice of plantings that marry perfectly. With the wealth of eco-friendly materials for renovations, it's now possible to go green indoors and out. Most homeowners and building owners enjoy less expense with green landscaping and eco-friendly renovations.

Meghan Belnap
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Everyone wants to breathe clean air, drink clean water and protect the environment. Doing this does not require massive changes to your life. There are actually small things that you can do every day to make a difference. You should know about a few ways to be more eco-responsible in your daily life.

Drive Less

Driving in a typical car sends a significant amount of pollution into the air every day. Even highly efficient cars are releasing emissions every minute they run. Do what you can to drive less. Car pool, take public transportation or ride a bicycle. Consolidate your shopping trips. Try walking to nearby locations instead of taking the car out for just a few minutes.

Turn Off Lights, Appliances and Electronics

Leaving lights, appliances and electronics on for just a few extra minutes a day can add up by the end of the year. You will be using more electricity. This causes more harmful emissions to be released by power plants. Turn off anything you do not need immediately even if you are coming back in a few minutes. Unplug appliances and electronics you are not planning to use.

Recycle Everything Possible

Recycling helps to preserve energy and resources. Recycling reduces the demand for virgin materials that must be extensively transported and processed. You can help the environment by recycling everything possible. This includes glass, paper, and plastics and even scrap metal. Metal recycling from Federal Metals Inc can be one of the most lucrative, eco-friendly endeavors you pursue. Recycling reduces the need for landfills and protects the environment.

Carry Your Own Reusable Bag

The disposable plastic bags used at many retailers harm the environment. They require petroleum to create. Plastic bags can also end up in natural areas where they harm wildlife, contaminate soil and remain in the environment for decades or longer. Carry your own reusable bag around while shopping to be more eco-responsible.

Stop Using Disposable Water Bottles

A final step is to stop using disposable plastic water bottles. These water bottles end up in the ocean, landfills and other areas where they cause a range of problems. This is true even for disposable bottles made from recycled materials. You should start using a hard plastic, metal or glass bottle that can be refilled once it is empty.

Helping the environment is often as simple as taking a few extra seconds to recycle something or turn off unnecessary lights. The cumulative effect of all your small changes will become significant over the course of a year or more. You can be more eco-responsible without having to change your entire lifestyle.

Meghan Belnap

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A lush, green yard starts with healthy soil, and that usually means using soil amendments to make sure that it's as nutrient-rich as it needs to be. With all of the different types of fertilizer on the market, it can be tough to make the best choice for you, your plants, and the surrounding environment. When it comes to organic fertilizer, there are some key advantages that shouldn't be overlooked.

Long-term Improvement

Most people don't really look past the nutrient boost that fertilizers give their soil, but a good organic fertilizer like Nature Safe has benefits above and beyond its nutrient content. As it breaks down, it can actually help improve the moisture-retaining capabilities and overall fertility of the soil itself over the long term.

Better for the Environment

Organic fertilizers are produced using the natural processes of decomposition, making them easily biodegradable. The production of conventional fertilizers relies on petrochemical byproducts, and is implicated in air, water, and soil pollution. Not only is it destructive to the environment to obtain the raw materials necessary to make it, its manufacturing process can actually damage vital ecosystems, drive out important plant and animal species, and spoil water sources.

Wildlife Friendly

Since they're so often hidden from view, it can be easy to forget just how much a yard depends on tiny creatures like earthworms and beneficial insects to stay healthy. While organic fertilizer has always been a part of nature, conventional fertilizers often end up adding nutrients to soil at the expense of the local fauna. Earthworms and other creatures have a harder time living in chemically amended soil, and the soil's overall quality suffers as a result.

Slower Break Down

This may not sound like a benefit, but it is. Conventional fertilizers deliver nutrients quickly, which is not the way plants or soil fauna have evolved to receive them. Organic fertilizers break down slowly, providing a sustained release of nutrients in a readily bioavailable form. Rather than having to cope with sudden gluts of nutrients, your yard can grow the way nature intended.

When it comes to amending soil, organic fertilizers are far and away the superior choice. While it is possible to use them irresponsibly, organic fertilizers have far more benefits than risks even for novice gardeners. When used properly, the end result is a vibrant yard, healthy soil, and a cleaner environment.

Meghan Belnap
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One of the most desirable attributes that many real estate shoppers are looking for these days is a neighborhood that is green. This includes neighborhoods that have a lot of green buildings as well as places that have a lot of green amenities that make living an eco-friendly lifestyle easier. If you are looking for a green place to call your home, here is a look at four of the greenest locations that you should consider.

Mueller, Texas

It probably comes as no surprise to most folks that one of the greenest neighborhoods in the United States is located in Austin. This neighborhood has ample public transportation and loads of open green spaces. All the roads comes with bike lanes to make zero-carbon commuting in the gorgeous Austin weather a breeze. Austin also has tons of farmers markets and green grocery stores.

Madison Street, Tennessee

This used to be one of the most rundown neighborhoods in Chattanooga. This all changed when a green initiative was launched to transform Madison Street into the location of Tennessee’s first LEED-certified homes. All the new buildings in the neighborhood are made from locally manufactured and harvested materials. It is now a community of artists that has all the eco-friendly attributes that you could wish for.

Liberty Village, Ontario

This Toronto neighborhood is a great place for people who want to live a green lifestyle. It is located next to several public transportation options to make commuting greenly a breeze. It also has a lot of green spaces to enjoy. There is also a lovely farmers market that allows shoppers access to locally grown foods. Learn more about this lovely place at Renters Guide. You can find a place to live in this progressive and stylish area.

Northwest Crossing, Oregon

While Portland gets a lot of press when it comes to green communities, this Bend neighborhood is actually the greenest place to live in the state of Oregon. It is surrounded by 32 acres of parks that give residents ample green space to enjoy. The neighborhood was designed to make it easy to walk or bike to everything that residents need like stores and entertainment. All the homes in the neighborhood have been certified organic by the prestigious Earth Advantage program.

If you are looking to transform your lifestyle into an eco-friendly one, one of the most important steps to change it is to find someplace to live that offers green living. These four neighborhoods all allow residents to enjoy green living without sacrificing comfort. They are a great place to start for people looking for green spaces to live.

Meghan Belnap
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Making energy efficient upgrades to your home not only is good for the environment, it also can save you lots of money when your bills are due. The only issue is that you might not know where to start. There are so many options to just throw money into but not all of them are as good as you would like to think. Here are some of the best energy efficient improvements to make.

New Windows and Doors

If you live in an older house with windows and doors that haven't been replaced in years, it's likely you are losing a considerable amount of money on your heating and cooling costs. Over the years, your house shifts and settles, and doors and windows no longer fit their frames the way they once did, leaving gaps and cracks for air to get through. Also, newer windows come with either double or triple panes, which are much better at keeping the air in that you want in and keeping the air out that you don't than older single-pane windows.

Programmable Thermostat

A programmable thermostat helps improve your energy efficiency by optimizing the use of your heating and cooling systems. During the summer, for example, you can set your thermostat to raise the temperature during the day when you aren't there and then gradually raise it in the hour or two before you arrive home. In the winter, you can set your thermostat to lower the temperature during the day and at night while you are sleeping. Being able to program your thermostat allows you to use less energy and save money.

Adding Insulation

Another way to be energy efficient in your home is to add or update your current insulation. Insulation in walls, floors and ceilings helps to keep warm air in in the winter and cold air out, while doing the reverse in the summer. Reitzel Insulation Co Ltd insulation also keeps pipes in walls and under floors warm during the winter so they don't freeze. If you can afford blown-in insulation, it works great for hard-to-reach areas.

Low-flow Water Devices

You'd be surprised how much water you waste in your home on a daily basis, but there's a way you can cut down on that. Installing flow-restricting devices on your toilet as well as a low-flow shower head can cut your water usage by hundreds of gallons a month. Though this won't save you a ton of money, it will give you the peace of mind that you are doing your part to help the environment.

Having an energy efficient home is the dream of so many of us. There are many energy efficient upgrades you can make to your home, some simple and inexpensive, some that are complex and costly. Choose the ones that make the most sense for you. These upgrades might set you back but remember that you are going to make some of that money back over time due to lower bills at the end of the month.

Meghan Belnap

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Between global warming, pollution, and many other issues, our planet is in a state of crisis. Like most people, you're probably wondering what you can do to help. Not everyone can afford to purchase a hybrid vehicle or solar panels, but there are still inexpensive and effective ways to reduce your carbon footprint.

1. Buy Organic and Local Foods

In America, the average meal travels nearly 1,500 from its source to your plate. Carbon footprint-wise, that's the equivalent of traveling 4,500 miles a day simply from eating. What's more, most of the food consumed in America is laden with pesticides, the use of which exacerbates global warming and greenhouse gas issues.

Transporting food over such a large distance uses a substantial amount of fossil fuel, and emits more carbon dioxide into our atmosphere. Buying food at a local farmer’s market means that the food you eat travels substantially fewer miles, and is usually not sprayed with harmful pesticides.

2. Recycling

Most people at least recycle aluminum, cardboard, and plastic goods, but did you know that you can recycle all sorts of appliances and electronics? It's true, and recycling these items protects the earth from the pollution that occurs during the production of plastic.

Sites like City Auto Wreckers make it easy to recycle your old car and make the most of its parts and pieces. Many landfills and private businesses give people options to recycle most anything from old computers, to cell phones, to shoes.

3. Biking

Even if your work commute is only 10 miles, things can get pricey. Driving that round-trip five days a week emits 1.3 tons of CO2 and uses 124 gallons of gas each year, even in a midsize car.

Biking to work is a great way to cut your carbon footprint. Of course, this isn't an option for everyone, but biking to the grocery store, or to leisure activities is another way you can help the planet.

4. Unplug Appliances and Chargers

Appliances and electronics still use energy when they’re powered down. This phenomenon is known as vampire energy; it drains your wallet and wastes fossil fuel. The way to avoid vampire energy is to unplug your appliances and electronics when not in use. It takes extra time and effort, but it cuts CO2 emissions significantly.

Reducing your carbon footprint doesn't have to be expensive or become a big hassle. It's simply about being mindful of the energy and fossil fuel-based products you are using. If everybody makes some of these simple changes, we can leave a healthier planet for future generations.