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Meghan Belnap

4 Simple Things You Can Do to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint.JPG

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.

Meghan Belnap

The Healthy Benefits of Organic Fertilizer For Your Yard.JPG

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

5 Eco-Friendly Uses For Waste Water.JPG

 

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

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

Save Energy 4 Ways You Can be More Cost-Effective and Efficient with Your Utilities.jpgSaving money on your energy bills may be a year-round goal. Many homeowners try to curb consumption through an adjustment of their own behaviors. For example, you may try to turn out the lights when you are not in a specific room. However, these types of actions have minimal impact on your energy bill, and you may be frustrated by the lack of results that you are generating. If you want to see a major improvement in your energy bill, consider making these important changes.

Upgrade Your Old HVAC System

If your HVAC system is more than 10 or 15 years old, it may be consuming much more energy than it needs to. Newer HVAC systems installed by a company like Logan A/C & Heat Services Inc. may have enhanced energy-saving capabilities, and you may notice the difference in your energy bill the first month after it is installed. A side benefit associated with upgrading your HVAC system is that your repair bills may decrease as well. In fact, many HVAC systems are sold with a warranty that lasts for at least the first few years.

Use Smart Home Technology

Smart home technology is mostly considered to be a convenience feature, but it can save you money in several ways. For example, you can link automatic blinds to it, and you can close the blinds during the peak of the day in the summer to keep heating to a minimum. You can also adjust your thermostat through this technology to minimize HVAC system use.

Install New Windows

A considerable amount of energy loss can take place through your windows. Very old windows may only have a single pane of glass that is not energy efficient. Older double-pane windows may have had cracks in the gas seals, and this can decrease energy efficiency as well. New windows may have a solar reduction glaze or film, and some have a triple-pane feature that adds another layer to buffer the temperature differential between the interior and exterior of the home. Closing blinds during extreme weather conditions can also reduce energy loss.

Replace Your Insulation

Another excellent idea is to remove old fiberglass insulation and install spray-in foam insulation. Fiberglass insulation is not as energy efficient as foam insulation. Furthermore, old fiberglass insulation may slouch down in the wall or may even be eaten by pests. Making an upgrade to your insulation can trap more of your climate-controlled air inside your home.

While these projects are rather significant, they can each help you to drastically reduce energy consumption. In some cases, you may find rebates or special offers to help you save money on these upgrades and improvements.

 

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

5 Tips to Being Environmentally Friendly in Your New Home.jpg

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

How to Become Environmentally Friendly in Your Own Home.jpg

Taking care of the environment is something that all people are responsible for. For many people, one of the best things that they could do would be to start being more environmentally friendly at home. There are several things, in particular, the average homeowner could do to be more environmentally friendly at their home and help to improve the environment as a whole.

Conscious of Waste Removal

One of the most effective things that someone could do to be more environmentally friendly is to be conscious of their waste removal. Many people try to recycle on a regular basis but still have a lot of room for improvement. Through the use of skip bins, recycling bins, and other products, most people could find ways to improve their recycling habits.

Home Automation

One great upgrade that you could make would be to invest in a home automation system. When you have a home automation system in your home, there are many different controls that can help to make you more energy efficient and environmentally friendly. Home automation systems frequently include smart thermostats that are designed to help predict your patterns and reduce energy bills. Furthermore, they can be used to turn off lights in rooms that are not used, which will also help to reduce energy usage.

Avoid Plastic

The amount of plastic used in the world today is very concerning as it is taking up landfill space at an alarming rate. For you to do your part at home, you should try to avoid plastic as much as possible. By switching to paper or canvas as much as possible, you can do a little to help the environment.

Water Usage

One of the biggest concerns that the world is facing today is an overall water shortage. Today, you may live in an area that has access to clean water. However, there are many places around the world that do not have access to clean water on a daily basis. Because of this, you need to be conscious about how much water you are using to ensure your local water supply remains high and to also find ways to give more water back to areas where it is in need.

Overall, there are many different things that people could do to be more environmentally friendly in their home. In general, it is important to find ways to be better for the environment that also works with your lifestyle. This will help to keep you motivated and focused on doing right by the environment.

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

4 Reasons You Should Feed Your Yard With Organic Fertilizers.JPG

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

3 Simple Ways You Can Improve the Appearance of Your Yard.jpeg

As you drive through your neighborhood, you may notice a few yards that have been beautifully designed and immaculately maintained. When you compare these yards to your own, you may feel as though your home is woefully inadequate. Dressing up your curb appeal can seem like a major undertaking, but the task can be simplified with gorgeous results when you follow a few easy steps.

Create a Plan

Before you make any changes to your yard, you need to have a clear vision of what you want to achieve. Your plan should identify all of the current problem areas. It also should take into account visibility of the home from the street level, your budget, ongoing maintenance needs and more. When it comes to landscaping, there are times when less is more. Do not feel as though you need to have elaborate features to have a beautiful space. A detailed plan can guide your efforts and can prevent you from second-guessing your decisions.

Add Color

One of the primary differences that you may notice between your yard and the yard of others in your neighborhood is the matter of color. Many bushes, shrubs and tree leaves are a relatively standard shade of green. To dress up your curb appeal, you need to think outside the norm and incorporate color. Seasonal color can come from flowering plants, but you also need color throughout the year to enjoy lasting results. You can add a few layers of vegetation that have substantially lighter or darker shades of green, touches of yellow or even deep purple to address your color issue.

Cover the Dirt

Another common challenge that homeowners face is dirt. A beautiful yard does not have any dirt or mud-riddled areas. Instead, the flower beds are mulched regularly. Any areas where foliage is too think for grass to grow or where the grass has been downtrodden, specialty rocks or pebbles can be added. For example, you can add a pebbled pathway that leads up to your home. Remember that rocks and pebbles can also add color to your yard.

Your yard can affect your property value, the pride of ownership of other important factors. If your yard is a source of embarrassment right now, take action to improve the situation. Spend ample time planning out your landscaping approach through a company like Purdy Topsoil & Gravel before you get started, and ensure that you have a healthy budget that gives you funds to complete all aspects of your landscape remodeling project.

Meghan Belnap

volkswagen-auto-historically-vw-163809.j

More and more people are worried about the planet, which is probably why many are making eco-friendly choices when making purchases. For one, more people are hunting for eco-friendly cars that they can feel good about. The only problem is that trying to get a car that won't kill the planet can be a little overwhelming, but the following tips may help.

1. Consider Fuel

Switching to an eco-friendly car could mean switching to more eco-friendly fuel. The options that you have include biodiesel, diesel, and electric. You want to make sure you know where your charging or fueling stations are before you choose a car that runs on either of these fuels. You do not want to find out that your nearest charging station is an hour away.

2. Focus on Needs

You cannot forget your needs when purchasing an eco-friendly vehicle. More car manufacturers are creating eco-friendly cars, so there are several options for you. You need to think about cargo space, towing capabilities, passenger space, and even off-road capabilities. In essence, you need to make sure that your eco-friendly car fits your lifestyle.

3. A Good Selection

It is easy to focus on the details of the car and overlook the importance of the dealership. You need to find a car dealership such as Young Automotive Group that has enough cars for you to choose from. A large selection is definitely a good sign, but you should also meet with some of the salespeople to ensure that they are knowledgeable about eco-friendly cars.

4. Look for Certification

The next thing you might want to do is check the EPA certification on the car. The EPA grades eco-friendly cars using the SmartWay Certification program, which should allow you to choose the most eco-friendly car that you can buy. You can go to the EPA's site directly to see the vehicles that are currently graded, or you can talk to your car dealership salesperson about the choices that are available in their car lot.

These are just some tips that could help you find a car that will make your life easier without killing the planet. Remember, several vehicles do not run on eco-friendly fuels but are still eco-friendly because they give you more miles per gallon than ever before. These types of vehicles should also be a possibility just in case you live in an area without many eco-friendly re-fueling or charging options.

Meghan Belnap

Clear as Glass DIY Glass Cleaner with Common Products in Your Home.jpegWhen you look at the windows in your home, you might see everything from streaks to fingerprints. You can get window cleaners at retail stores that will clean the glass. Another option is to make your own cleaner with products that you probably already have in your home to clean your windows without spending a lot of money.

Vinegar and Water

A simple DIY cleaner uses white vinegar and water. Combine two cups of water with half a cup of vinegar in a bucket. You can add a squeeze or two of lemon if you want the mixture scented. Use a sponge or cloth to wipe the cleaner on the windows. Rinse with water, and wipe the windows dry with a clean cloth. Apple cider vinegar can also be used and offers a better smell than white vinegar.

Rubbing Alcohol

If you want to remove a large number of streaks of prints from the windows, then combine rubbing alcohol with warm water. A cup of each liquid is enough to clean the windows. You can use a cloth or even newspaper that you roll into a ball to clean the windows.

Sometimes your windows can get so badly stained that seemingly no amount of effort will clean them, or the glass may have scrapes or cracks that are unfixable. In these cases, Valley Glass Utility or a similar provider in your particular locale can help you install completely new windows.

Baking Soda

Combine about three teaspoons of baking soda with a cup of water and a cup of vinegar in a bucket. The baking soda will offer an added component that will help to lift the dirt from the windows. It’s important to clean the windows with the solution as soon as you add the baking soda so that it works on the surface instead of letting it linger in the bucket.

Corn Starch

If you don’t want to use products that have a strong scent, then combine cornstarch with about a teaspoon of vinegar instead of a larger amount and two cups of water. This will create a paste that you rub on the windows. Let the paste sit for about 10 minutes before wiping the windows clean with water and a cloth.

You don’t have to spend a lot of money to clean your home. Use a few products from your cabinets to make glass cleaner that will leave your windows sparkling. Large amounts can be made at one time and kept in a spray bottle to use later.

 

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.

Hot vs Cold How to Stay Warm in the Winter Without Pricey Electric Bills.jpeg

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

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

4 Great Types of Equipment for Property Upkeep.jpeg

You bought a nice, large piece of land. It covers many acres, and it is presently an overgrown, entangled mess. With the right kind of equipment, you will be able to have your property in shape and ready to use the land for the purposes you have in mind. The following are four types of equipment you may want to consider.

A Truck

No property maintenance and upkeep project is going to get very far without a solid truck designed to handle the task. With a large open bed, your truck can be used to haul trash, wood and even bring in more fill dirt to places where it is needed. In addition, your truck will be instrumental in taking produce to market when the growing season is over.

A Tractor

When out on the farm, you will need a tractor to help prepare your property for growing season. A tractor is a great tool for plowing, but you may also need access to replacement parts. You will need to work with a company with a tractor for sale that has a broad part base, offers excellent service and a wide variety of farm equipment.

A Chain Saw

There is a lot of trees on your property that need to be removed. Sure, you could call a company to come in and do this for you, but that could get expensive. It is far better to get your own chainsaw and to start carving into the wooded area of your property to reduce the trees that are in the way. This can also help to reduce a lot of the wildlife on your property too.

A Hedge Trimmer

According to entrepreneur.com, a hedge trimmer can be a useful tool around to help with the upkeep of your property. While an electric hedge trimmer is ideal for a lot of situations, there can be some difficulty involved with finding an electrical outlet on the back half of your property. Switching over to a model that has a rechargeable battery may prove to be far more functional when there is no outlet in reach.

Conclusion

The property you own is the place you want to hold well into your retirement years. It will be the home you poured your blood, sweat, and tears into to make happen too. Your land may look rough at the present moment, but with a little hard work, it can be transformed into a functional farm. With the right equipment, you will have your land in shape in no time at all, and that is something you can be proud of for many years to come.

Meghan Belnap

Green Habits 4 Easy Tips to Save Energy at Home.jpg

Being conscious of the environment is an important responsibility that everyone shares. Those that are looking to be greener and more conscious of their impact on the environment should start their efforts at home. There are four important tips that someone could follow that would help anyone to be more environmentally friendly at home and reduce their carbon footprint.

Recycle

One great way to be greener at home is to set up a regular wastewater filtration system. All families and homeowners can make a big difference if they make even simple changes to their recycling habits. As opposed to throwing all of your waste into the garbage, taking time to separate and organize the recyclables and putting them into the appropriate bins will be helpful. Furthermore, people should always look to use reusable bottles and plates as opposed to using items that will be thrown away after one use.

Water Usage

When you are looking to be more green and efficient at home, it is also important that you watch your water usage. Access to clean drinking water is quickly becoming problematic for people all over the world. All people, regardless of where they live, need to find ways to reduce water usage. Some of the best ways to do this can include taking shorter showers, being more efficient when watering the lawn, and simply being conscientious of water use.

Home Automation and Smart Technology

Another way that you can help to reduce your carbon footprint at home is by using smart appliances and home automation systems. Smart thermostats, smart power strips, and smart light switches can all be used to learn your behaviors and change settings when a certain room is not in use. Through a home automation system, you will also be able to change the thermostat in your home, turn lights and appliances on and off, and control other parts of your home that can help to reduce your overall energy usage.

Purchase Efficient Appliances

One of the most effective ways to reduce your carbon footprint is to purchase more efficient appliances. Energy efficient refrigerators, air conditioners, furnaces, hot water heaters, and other appliances can all be used to drastically reduce your energy and water usage.

While taking steps to help improve the environment is important, there are additional benefits that come with making greener decisions. Those that make certain investments and upgrades to their home could qualify for federal tax credits and will also see a reduction in their energy bills.

Meghan Belnap

4 Landscaping Tips That Will Save You Time and Money on Your Personal Property.jpeg

CBS says that you can get more than 100 percent return on your investment when you choose smart lawn ideas like planters, some bushes, a tree, and mulch. Depending on how much money you have to spend on your yard, you can upgrade a little or a lot. By using rocks, gravel, and planters, you will minimize the yard space you have to mow.

Hardscaping

One of the fastest and easiest ways to minimize the size of your lawn is to add some gravel to create a seating area, fire pit, or other outdoor living space. You gain extra room to entertain or relax on a quiet day at home, and you have fewer square feet to mow. The time you save cutting your grass gives you a little more freedom to enjoy your yard.

Recycle Old Equipment

A very inexpensive way to improve your yard without busting your budget is to use old items you find on your property or old farms. Using machinery as a focal point is a fantastic way to spruce up an outdoor design. Paint a tractor, wheel barrel, ships wheel, rake, or other old tools. Put a little mulch and some bright flowers around the implement to create a cohesive design.

Buy at the End of the Growing Season

Better Homes and Gardens says that you can save a bunch of money on garden supplies by hitting the clearance sales at the end of spring and summer. Sometimes, you can catch a sale at the beginning of spring, but you are more likely to find the biggest discounts when the weather starts turning cold. Start looking for sale items to hit the bargain bins anytime after mid-summer.

Install Artificial Turf

To get out of mowing your lawn altogether, you could invest in AstroTurf. By adding synthetic grass, you can get rid of the hour or two that you spend working in your yard. While this option has an initial investment, the money you save on fuel, oil, maintenance and new equipment adds up fast.

Your yard can be a stunning entrance without all the hard work of trimming and mowing for hours each week. With a little creativity, you can remake things around the property to form incredible designs. Extra tires make wonderful swings, but you can also use them as planters. Paving stones break up the yard and lead guests to the new features you create.

 

Meghan Belnap

Save the Planet 5 Tips to Going Green in Your Startup Cafe.jpg

Restaurants are not well-known for being environmentally-friendly. Through the process of running an active establishment, producing huge amounts of food and meeting customers’ needs, a tremendous amount of energy and water waste can occur. In addition, excessive physical waste may be generated, and this often winds up in a landfill. If you are preparing to start a new restaurant business, these tips may help you to create a green venue.

Use Green Recycling Bins

Trash from a restaurant is derived from two primary sources. These include waste in the kitchen from food containers and waste in the main dining area from your customers. A smart idea is to invest in a green recycling bin such as skips and to require your staff members to use it appropriately. While you cannot force customers to use it, you may be thrilled to see how many people will participate in recycling when they are given the opportunity to do so.

Minimize the Use of Disposable Items

Another idea is to reduce the use of disposable items altogether. For example, if your restaurant currently uses disposable plates and utensils, exchange these for reusable items. You may have to pay your staff to clean the reusable items, but this may be more cost-effective overall.

Use Recyclable Disposable Items

If you must use disposable packaging utensils, such as for take-home orders, choose items that are made out of recycled materials. Ensure that these items can be recycled. Using a non-recyclable material, such as Styrofoam, ensures that your customers cannot make a green choice with regards to the disposal of the items.

Install Low-Flow Faucets

Water waste is another cause for concern in a restaurant. The same amount of water may be needed to fill your customers’ glasses and to prepare certain dishes. However, water used for cleaning and in the bathrooms may be reduced with the installation of low-flow faucets and toilets.

Invest in Energy-Saving Appliances

Another area to focus your attention on is energy waste. There are many general energy-saving tips to follow, such as to ensure that doors and windows are sealed properly. In addition, purchase energy-saving appliances. Commercial-grade appliances can consume a large amount of energy, and saving even a moderate amount of this energy can have a beneficial impact on the environment.

You can see that there are numerous areas in typical restaurant operation that can be detrimental to the environment. Now that you are aware of these negative impacts, you can take thoughtful steps to improve the situation. It may be easier to plan to be green from day one of your operations than to make green improvements after your restaurant is up and running.

Meghan Belnap

For Sale 5 Changes You Can Do to Your Yard to Help Your Home Sell.jpeg

When you put your home on the real estate market, you hope for a fast sale at the price you desire. Many factors affect the price of a home and it’s ability to sell quickly, such as hire a mortgage company to help you with your home loans, but you can take proactive steps to attract buyers by ensuring it looks its best, both inside and out. Many sellers take great pains to repair and paint the inside of the home but neglect the small improvements on the outside that can make a big difference in securing a buyer. Here are five tips for improving your yard that prospective buyers will appreciate.

– Trim Back Overgrown Foliage

Mature trees and shrubs may have become so overgrown that it detracts from the overall appearance of your home. Take some time to assess your landscaping to see how it affects the look of your home. Trim back tree branches that are hanging over the roof or obstructing windows. Remove broken or weak branches to improve the tree’s shape. Thin out shrubs to make them look neater. A well-maintained property will help you to achieve a fast sale and a favorable appraisal, so a mortgage company will be happy to lend to your buyer.

– Add Yard Lights

Lighting your entryway attractively or highlighting unusual plants can add a distinctive touch that makes your property stand out from the rest. Lights near the back door can also provide a look at security and safety. A variety of new types of outdoor lighting is available that is easy to connect and that can be utilized in a number of ways.

– Design an Inviting Entryway with Plants

A curved bed with colorful flowers can make a big difference in how the entrance to your home looks and feels. A small ornamental tree near the front steps can also help to improve the look of your front entrance. If you have a porch, put up a few hanging baskets with colorful flowers. These small touches can help to attract potential buyers to your property.

– Reseed or Sod Your Lawn

Many lawns have bare or worn areas that could use a bit of rejuvenation. Generally, this may occur along spaces that see a great deal of use or under the shade of trees. Do some reseeding of the lawn in open areas. You may want to use sod in shady areas, where grass may be difficult to grow.

– Put Tools and Toys in Storage

Lawn equipment and outdoor toys left in yard areas tend to create a messy appearance that can devalue your property. Collect all unused items left in yard areas and organize them neatly in your garage, basement or in an attractive storage shed in a discreet corner of the property. These changes will help you to present your home in the best possible light.

A neat and tidy yard reflects the care you give to the rest of the property. Buyers look for homeowners who maintain their properties both inside and out. These tips can help to ensure that prospective buyers get a good first impression of your home.

Meghan Belnap

5 Tips to Making Your Home Environment Friendly.jpg

Transforming your home into a green home is a lofty and admirable goal. By achieving this goal, you may decrease your carbon footprint on a regular basis, and you may save a tremendous amount of money on energy costs. The good news is that this goal is attainable, and you can walk through these tips at your own pace to gradually improve your home’s impact on the environment.

Upgrade Your Appliances

It makes sense to use your outdated appliances for as long as possible. After all, there is some waste associated with making an upgrade before it is necessary. All of your appliances, however, may drain energy unnecessarily. Older appliances may consume much more energy than newer appliances. Now is a great time to assess the condition of your appliances and to explore replacement options. Remember that you can always donate functional appliances to keep them out of a landfill.

Use Recycled Materials during a Renovation

When you renovate your home, you understandably will generate a considerable amount of waste. Some of this waste must be tossed out, and using skip bins is a convenient way to contain and remove the waste. Some materials, however, may be recycled on-site or donated to others for their own projects. Always look for ways to reuse materials before tossing them in a waste bin.

Update Windows and Doors

If your home’s windows and doors are older, there is a good chance that they are not as energy efficient as they could be. Replacing windows and doors with features that offer more insulation may help you to conserve a tremendous amount of energy. If you determine that now is not the time to update your home in this way, consider resealing the doors and windows annually.

Add More Insulation

Insulation in your walls and ceiling will not last forever. It can deteriorate with age, or it may be damaged by pests. Fiberglass insulation can also sink down into the walls so that it does not offer full protection. From time to time, you may need to replace insulation or supplement existing insulation.

Choose Green Energy

In many areas, homeowners can choose which provider they want to use for energy. They may also be able to choose the exact type of energy that they want to use, such as pure solar energy or half solar energy and half wind energy. If this is not an option for you, you can install solar panels or wind energy features on your property.

You can see that it may cost you a small fortune to make your home as environmentally-friendly as possible. Remember that you can progress through these steps at your own pace as time and funds allow.

Meghan Belnap

How to Become Eco-Friendly in Every Aspect of Your Life.jpeg

If you want to do your part to help the environment, there are some positive changes that you can make in your life. Living an eco-friendlier lifestyle isn’t hard to do, and you can improve your life and benefit the planet in many ways by taking the right steps. Here are a few great ways to become a more eco-friendly individual.

Grow Your Own Food

Some of the fruits and vegetables that you eat can be grown at home. Growing your own food items cuts down on the fuel and other resources that are needed to cultivate mass amounts of produce that are often transported long distances to grocery stores. Tomatoes, carrots, and strawberries are just some of the food items that can be grown in a home garden. You can also use containers to grow beans and peppers indoors.

Buy a New Vehicle

Many of today’s vehicles are manufactured to be fuel-efficient and emit fewer pollutants into the air. Certain vehicles also run on electric or other alternative fuel sources that are far less hazardous for the planet. A hybrid vehicle, which uses two or more types of power to make it run, is another great choice. You can buy a new car from a dealer that sells cars for sale some of the most environmentally friendly vehicles on the market.

Limit Resource Use

There are many ways to cut down on using resources like water, electricity, and gas. Simply turning off lights in rooms in your home that you’re not currently occupying is a great way to conserve energy. You can also install water-saving faucets in your home or install attachments on your faucets that reduce water use. Replacing your old gas-powered appliances with modern a-rated energy-saving models can also help you conserve energy.

Turn Trash into Compost

You may be surprised to learn that much of your household waste can be turned into compost with a compost bin and used in your soil to help your vegetation grow. According to Conserve Energy Future, this compost provides a nutrient-rich food source that allows plants, grass and other forms of vegetation to grow healthier. Composting household waste can also reduce the amount of trash that ends up in landfills. Some of the items that can easily be converted into compost include food scraps, used napkins, and shredded paper documents.

Doing your part to preserve the planet is possible if you’re willing to modify certain aspects of your life. You’ll likely notice a big difference and feel more encouraged to maintain a greener lifestyle after you’ve made these changes.

Meghan Belnap

Beat the Heat How to Survive the Summer Months While Living in a Dry Climate.jpg

Living in an area where the climate is especially dry throughout the summer can be a challenging ordeal. You’re at greater risk of becoming severely dehydrated or suffering from heatstroke if your local weather is exceedingly hot and dry for long periods, so you’ll want to do everything you can to protect yourself. Here are some of the best ways to survive the summer months while living in a dry climate.

Plant Some Trees

Certain types of trees are known to tolerate the heat well and can provide more natural shade for your home. This natural shade can keep the inside of your home cooler and help you reduce air conditioner usage. Hotgardens.net recommends olive trees because they often require low water usage. Chitalpa is a hybrid of the desert willow tree that also provides ample shade. Other options include the Chinese elm, California pepper tree, and Palo Alto plant.

Use the Right Bedsheets

If you have sheets made from flannel or other materials that can make you overheat while trying to sleep, you should switch them out in the summer for sheets with more breathable materials. Cotton is an excellent choice for its natural cooling effect. Changing your sheets often is an additional way to help your bed feel cooler and less stale. You can also avoid getting too hot while in bed by sleeping on a buckwheat pillow that naturally traps in pockets of cooling air.

Have Your Air Conditioner Inspected

You’ll obviously want to have your air conditioner repaired if it isn’t working, but your unit may still not be performing up to standard without you realizing. Your system might not be blowing out as much air as it should. The air temperature from your system could also be too warm because of an unknown mechanical failure. A professional from an air conditioning repair service can inspect your unit and perform any needed repairs.

Cook More Often Outdoors

On days when the outdoor temperatures aren’t unbearably hot, you should consider cooking your meals outdoors to keep the inside of your home as cool as possible. An outdoor barbeque grill can be used to prepare chicken, steak, and grilled vegetables. If you don’t already have an outdoor kitchen, you may want to invest in a unit that includes an oven and a rotisserie grill.

Staying cool in a hot and dry environment can be done with a little extra effort. By warding off the excessive heat, you’ll have a better chance of surviving the summer with less difficulty.

Meghan Belnap

How to Turn Your Backyard into a Perfect Spot for Entertainment.jpg

If you love to entertain, you may regularly bring family and friends together inside your home for smaller gatherings and larger parties. While your home’s interior may be well-suited for entertaining, it makes sense to enlarge your gathering areas to include your backyard. However, before you plan your first backyard party, you need to create a space that is well-suited for entertaining. These are essential tips that you should follow to create a truly practical space for get-togethers.

Install Upgraded Cooking Features

Serving your guests meals and snacks is almost a necessity at most gatherings. While you could cook inside and serve the food to your guests in the backyard, grilling out is a preferred option in many cases. Installing a large grill as a permanent feature in an outdoor kitchen or cooking area can give you an impressive and functional cook area. Remember to choose between charcoal, gas and electric grills carefully so that you can maximize the benefit of your new grill.

Choose Comfortable Seating

At a very large gathering, some of your guests may expect to stand around and mingle from time to time, but they may enjoy sitting down periodically as well. With smaller gatherings, it may be awkward if only a few guests were forced to stand up because of limited seating. Purchase enough chairs, loungers and other seating features to accommodate your needs for most events, and ensure that these outdoor furnishings are comfortable. While you need ample seating, remember that there should be enough space to accommodate the flow of traffic.

Focus on Climate Control

To make the most out of your outdoor entertaining area, you need to make the space as comfortable as possible in most weather conditions. For example, install an awning or shade over the primary patio area. Place heating lamps and fans strategically to further control the climate. If you live in an area that is prone to high winds, a wind-blocking shade may be advantageous as well.

Add Fun Elements

A yard well-suited for entertaining would not be complete without several fun elements. These elements may include a sound system, a large mounted outdoor television, a pool or hot tub, a fire pit, cornhole and other features. Focus on fun elements that your regular guests may enjoy.

Remember Lighting

Many outdoor gatherings may easily carry over into the evening hours. Most patios have a basic patio light that only partially illuminates the area. It may be more practical to install overhead lighting as well as perimeter lighting. Keep in mind that multiple lighting elements may be used for functionality and to control the ambiance.

Some homeowners will complete a major yard renovation, and others will gradually improve their space over time. Regardless of the approach that you take, incorporate these elements into your backyard design plan.