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BrookeChaplan

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Burning a wood fire in your fireplace on chilly winter days can add a touch of coziness to your home, and it can also bring much-needed warmth to your space. However, a wood-burning fire in your fireplace can increase indoor air pollution. The air pollution can be so significant at times that it creates a true health hazard that puts you and your loved ones inside the home at immediate risk. With proper usage and maintenance of your fireplace, you can reduce the risk of indoor air pollution generated by your fireplace.

 

Clean the Chimney Regularly

Each time you burn a wood fire in your fireplace, creosote, and other elements are deposited in the chimney. These are highly flammable materials, and a stray spark could ignite the material and cause a house fire. In addition, when the material is very thick, it can partially or even fully block the flow of smoke out of the home. When even some of the smoke remains inside the home, the issue of toxic gases becomes a serious concern. Scheduling annual chimney sweeping service before you use the fireplace each season can reduce this risk. If you use your fireplace heavily, it may also be necessary to schedule a second service halfway through the winter season.

 

Open the Flue Completely

Another cause of indoor air pollution from a fireplace relates to the flue. The flue must be fully open in order to allow smoke to filter up and out of the home. If the flue is not open, the smoke can billow back into the home. During a chimney inspection, a chimney sweep can inspect the flue and ensure that it functions as intended.

 

Ensure Proper Ventilation

Ventilation is critical when you are burning a wood fire in your fireplace. Smoke typically will rise up and out of the home through the chimney when the flue is open. However, when you have open windows or doors inside the home or even when fans are operating in some rooms, the smoke can be pulled into the home. If you are concerned about carbon monoxide from your fireplace, invest in a quality carbon monoxide detector. If ventilation continues to be an issue with a conventional fireplace, you may need to replace it with a safer alternative like a gas fireplace insert.

 

As wonderful as a wood-burning fireplace can be throughout the winter, this charming feature can be hazardous to your health. Indoor air pollution is a serious concern for anyone who burns a fire even occasionally in their fireplace. Take these steps today to keep your home environment as safe as possible.

BrookeChaplan

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Today, more people than ever are concerned with things like global warming, climate change and pollution’s effect on the environment. One thing that can contribute to a family’s carbon footprint is how much energy is required to run a heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system. However, there are strategies you can use to make the climate control in your home more energy efficient and less expensive at the same time.

 

Use Your Windows Strategically

One way to save money and energy in your home is to rely less on your HVAC system. It doesn’t have to be used all the time in every season. Windows can make a big difference all on their own.

 

During the winter, open up drapes and shades to let in the sun’s warming rays. They can certainly heat up a room. In the summer, you may want to close them for the opposite effect. Opening or closing your windows as needed can also cool and heat up rooms depending on the temperature. It can also freshen up a room’s air supply if it feels stale. All of this is free and requires no expenditure of energy or electricity.

 

Upgrade Your HVAC System

However, homes in most climates still require an HVAC system. An HVAC system is not something that can be used indefinitely. Over the years, the components of the system wear out and become far less efficient. Older systems may have also been designed at a time when energy efficiency and global warming were less of a concern. Newer systems are designed with efficiency in mind and can also save you a significant amount of money month to month on energy bills. Certainly, consider an upgrade if you have had your HVAC for a very long period of time. Companies like C B Lucas Heating & Air Conditioning can often utilize your existing system to make significant improvements, or replace your system altogether.

 

Program Your Thermostat

Another way you can be strategic regarding how you use your HVAC system is to program your thermostat. Many people don’t do so, and this is a mistake. Programming your thermostat can allow you to make sure the heat or air conditioning isn’t running when nobody is home during the work or school day. It can also allow you to lower the temperature at night when your family is sleeping and less heat is needed. According to the Department of Energy, lowering the temperature by seven to ten degrees for eight hours a day can save you as much as ten percent on your monthly HVAC bills.

BrookeChaplan

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When you take a deep breath, you understandably expect the air to be fresh and healthy. However, air pollution is a growing problem in many areas. When the air you breathe is polluted, you bring toxins into your body. These harmful toxins can increase the risk of respiratory conditions, including asthma, chronic bronchitis, and even lung cancer. Unfortunately, outdoor air contaminants can enter your home, and this means that there may be no place for you to enjoy breathing fresh air. However, there are some steps that you can take to keep your indoor air as fresh and clean as possible.

 

Take Your Shoes Off

When you enter your home, you bring contaminants from outdoors in with you. Your shoes are a primary source of contaminants. When you walk across your home with dirty soles, pollutants become airborne. Some contaminants will lodge themselves in your carpet or will enter your HVAC system. One of the best ways to reduce this source of indoor air pollution is to take your shoes off before you enter your home. You can also wipe your pets’ paws off for additional benefit. Remember to vacuum regularly to remove particles from the carpet.

 

Replace Windows and Seals

Windows seemingly last forever at first glance. Unless they physically break, you may think that any piece of glass between you and the outside world would suffice. However, older windows may leak, and this could allow air pollution to stream into your home around the clock. This could also impact climate control and energy efficiency in your home. Replacing older windows and re-sealing the space around your windows and doors can help you to reduce or eliminate the amount of outdoor air that enters your home from these spaces. If you’re not certain of your ability to replace the windows perfectly to avoid drafts, consider hiring a professional window service to do it for you.

 

Clean Your HVAC System

Even when you take these steps, some air pollution will still enter your home. Your HVAC system can filter many of these contaminants out of your indoor air, but it is most effective when the system is cleaned and well-maintained. Replace air filters regularly. In addition, schedule HVAC system maintenance at least once per year.

 

You understandably want to breathe healthy air inside your home, but your air may not be as clean as it could be. As you can see, there are many ways that air pollution can enter your home, but there are also steps that you can take to improve the situation. Follow these helpful tips soon so that you can enjoy the benefit of fresher air in your home.

BrookeChaplan

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If you are purchasing a new home, there are several eco-friendly features that you should consider investigating. Transforming your home into something that is both environmentally friendly and comfortable can be easy if you consider incorporating these features.

 

Consider eco-conscious landscaping

Landscaping is one part of a home that is almost always possible to change. However, when looking for a new home, it’s good to look for eco-friendly landscaping that is both aesthetically pleasing and environmentally conscious. Instead of traditional flowers, there might be drought resistant plants, or native plants, that do not require a large amount of water. It’s also becoming more common to see landscaping choices like rocks and woodchips that take the place of some or all of the grass in a yard and cut down on water usage. These are both great starts on eco-conscious landscaping, but the most valuable thing to look for in your next home’s landscape is an updated irrigation system. Good irrigation systems use less water, cover only what needs to be watered, and are often programmable.  

 

Install Solar Panels

Many new homes have incorporated solar paneling on top of the house. Solar panels allow the house to receive a certain percentage of its energy from the sun. There are many companies that can install solar paneling which can not only enhance the resale value of your home but also help to cut down on energy costs. Buying a house already equipped with solar panels is one way to go, but you can also look for a home that has a strong electrical system that could accommodate the electrical needs of a solar panel system. In addition to checking out the house, you may want to check out what kinds of benefits you may get from the city for having solar power for your home.

 

Eco-Friendly Windows and Natural Lighting

One of the best things homeowners will upgrade in their home is the windows. Windows are a great investment because they add value to the home and pay for themselves by saving money on heating and air conditioning. These particular windows are also great for the interior of the home because they block UV rays from fading or damaging upholstery and carpet. Eco-friendly windows will also help to regulate temperatures in your home during both hot and cold weather. In addition to eco-friendly windows, you may want to consider a design that incorporates more natural light throughout the house. Windows and skylights are a great way to fill a home with light without spending any money on electricity. Any of these things are a great thing to look for when buying a new home because they can help you save money in the long-term.

 

While you may be able to find homes with great eco-friendly features, sometimes you’ll have to make those upgrades yourself. Either way, it’s a good idea to consult a real estate agent like those at Mark Fox Company to get details on any of the homes you’re interested in. Research all of your options and you will find that creating an eco-conscious house can be easier than you think.

BrookeChaplan

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The right landscape can greatly improve both the curb appeal and market value of a home. From landscaping arrangements that feature native plants or sophisticated irrigation systems that may reduce upkeep and maintenance costs to outdoor lighting options that may improve the appearance of an outdoor area after dark, there are numerous ways to improve the look and feel of an outdoor space. The following three resources can make a welcome addition to any lawn or landscape.

 

Xeriscaping With Native Plants and Soil

The potential water conservation that xeriscaping makes possible may result in lower utility bills and less demanding maintenance and upkeep efforts. Maintaining an attractive landscape may prove to be an uphill battle for those who utilize trees, shrubs and other outdoor plants that may have trouble adapting to a new climate. Soils that provide the right composition and pH balance and plants that are able to thrive with very little moisture may allow property owners to design the perfect outdoor landscape while ensuring water usage is less likely to place some strain on household budgets. If you’re unsure which materials to use to maintain these plants, consult a company like Bourget Bros. Building Materials and see what they recommend.

 

Automated Irrigation Systems

Automated systems offer a number of advantages. More precise control over watering and irrigation schedules and the means to ensure that lawn maintenance can be performed with greater ease and convenience can both make a considerable difference. These systems can be especially valuable during hot summer months for homeowners who lack the time or opportunity to water during the early morning or late-evening hours. Features like water-flow sensors can also ensure that lawns and landscaped areas are less likely to be over-watered, an issue which may cause excessive soil erosion or cause harm to plants.

 

Recycled and Repurposed Materials

Brick, stone, and even glass are all popular choices for homeowners seeking to utilize recycled materials to create hardscaped areas. Hardscaping offers a simple and effective way to redirect water flow, limit soil erosion or to create a more distinctive landscaping layout or design. Repurposing used and salvaged materials offer a cost-effective and environmentally sustainable option for home and property owners who may be working with a fixed budget or that wish to create a greener home.

 

For many property owners and households, lawn and landscape irrigation often represents a sizable portion of utility usage each month. Materials, plants, and installations that allow for superior water conservation efforts make it easier than ever to create and maintain a green home. A few well-chosen landscaping upgrades or additions may result in greater savings than many property owners might expect.

BrookeChaplan

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It's happened to the best of us. You're unwinding after a long day at work on the couch, cozied up with a glass of wine and feeling utterly relaxed when suddenly a gross spider or centipede scurries across your coffee table. Gone is that feeling of relaxation, replaced with formication and unease.

 

While some earthy types might be okay sharing their home with pests, the majority of us want them out. If you're in a situation where pests are disturbing your sense of ease and contentment in your home, then ask yourself these three questions before taking action.

 

Is It Something I'm Doing?

Most pests will take up residence in your home regardless of your housekeeping skills. However, there are some situations where to be put it bluntly, it might be your fault. For example, unswept hardwood floors and dusty ceilings can create a paradise for some types of spiders. Messy kitchens where food particles are allowed to accumulate can create a paradise for ants and roaches. The best first step is a day of hardcore cleaning in your home. While not guaranteed to get rid of your pests, it might help.

 

Is It Fleeting?

There are some periods throughout the year where we see an increase of spiders and centipedes, such as late spring and early fall. This coincides with their mating habits. Some infestations are in fact fleeting and will go away on their own. However, if you've been repeatedly seeing pests for longer than two months, you might need to take action.

 

Can I Eradicate Them On My Own In A Safe Way?

The short answer to this is "no." There are lots of commercial insecticides available at home supply and hardware stores, but most professionals dislike them for two reasons. First, they're generally not as effective as the chemicals used by the pros, sometimes rendering them a complete waste of time. Second, the average person doesn't take precautions for safety, such as wearing a mask and removing pets from the area. Eradicating insects is generally a job that is best left to the professionals like those at Allstate Pest Control, especially if you want those pests gone for good.

 

After you've considered these things, you'll be able to make a decision about how you want to deal with your pest problem. No one wants to share their home with creepy unwanted guests, but thankfully, there are steps you can take to solve the problem.

BrookeChaplan

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Staying cool in the summer doesn't mean that you have to waste electricity. Most people in the neighborhood and in the city will have an air conditioner of some kind on when it's hot, draining power from the grid that could cause a blackout if there is too much energy being used. There are a few tips to keep in mind to keep from sweltering while staying comfortable at the same time.

 

Keeping The Unit Off

It might seem futile, but keeping the air conditioner off can sometimes help with keeping the home cooler. If the unit has to run all day in order to cool the home, it can begin to struggle. When the unit struggles, it doesn't put out as much cold air as it could, which means that it will run longer. This defeats the purpose of even using an air conditioner because you're spending more money in electricity. Turn the unit on in the morning to get the home cool before turning it off throughout the rest of the day. A fan near the unit will help to circulate the air faster.

 

Update The Air Conditioner

If you have a window unit, then you know that they can run all day long without cutting off. This is throwing money out the door and wasting power as it only cools one or two rooms at a time. Upgrade the unit to a central air system that will cool the entire home. Companies like MTA Australasia often have plenty of choices that might work for your home, and you can consult with them if you’re not sure. You can adjust the thermostat to a comfortable setting so that the air doesn't come on as often. Check the filter to see if it's clean, replacing it or cleaning it as needed.

 

Keep The Sun Out

Close the blinds and the curtains to make it as dark in the home as possible. Keeping the sun from penetrating the home will help to keep the temperature a bit lower without using any kind of electricity. It's also sometimes more relaxing to be in a darker room. If you're not home during the day, then this is sometimes the best option to save electricity along with keeping a ceiling fan on in the room.

 

Natural Air

On cooler days, open the windows to allow fresh air to circulate. This will cut back on the lights that are on in the home as well as the air conditioning unit. The best time to do this is at night so that the home gets cooler in a shorter time.

 

There's nothing like being too hot in the home in the summer. Fortunately, there are some things that you can do during the day that will provide comfort while saving money. Use fans when possible, and keep the windows open to let air flow through the home.

BrookeChaplan

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Solar power is the fastest-growing renewable energy source in the U.S., increasing more than 23 times in the last eight years, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. As demand has grown and the technology has improved, the price of solar power has fallen. Are you uncertain about how solar power works? Here's a quick guide to the basics.

 

Solar Panels

When sunlight hits certain materials known as semiconductors, the materials convert the light energy to an electrical current. Solar panels that use this technology are photovoltaic (PV) panels. Within the panel are cells containing crystals. Most residential systems contain silicon crystals, like the silicon chips in a computer. Each cell produces only a small amount of power, but they're connected in series which collect their output.

The cells are sandwiched between protective layers of glass or plastic. Panels are built to withstand hail, wind, and lightning strikes. Several panels together make an array. Because the system is modular, it can be designed to meet any electrical load.

 

Mounting Structures

Most residential solar systems are mounted on a south-facing roof. Panels can also be placed on a rack set on the ground. The panels are angled for maximum sun exposure at that latitude. Tracker systems follow the sun across the sky but are more expensive and need more maintenance.

 

Inverter

PV panels produce direct current. An inverter converts DC current to the AC current needed for household appliances. The inverter has a display showing how much power the array is producing. Some inverters can be monitored remotely via the Internet.

 

Electrical Meter

The meter connects the PV system to the local electrical grid. If the system is producing more power than the house needs, the meter will run backward. At night or when the panel isn't in service, the meter will show normal electrical demand.

Because the house is drawing at least part of its electricity from the panels, homeowners can see significant savings on their utility bills. They will still have to pay a monthly connection fee to the utility.

If the power goes out, most solar systems will shut down even if the sun is shining. This is to protect line workers.

 

Storage

The sun doesn't always shine. Battery systems can save electricity for use at night or in bad weather, and can be put on systems on- and off-grid. Lead-acid batteries are the most common. Lithium-ion batteries have recently come on the market. Storage systems can help utilities reduce their peak demand since the house will draw from its batteries before it needs power from the grid.

 

Site

PV panels will produce some electricity even in low light, but they need full sun for best performance. The ideal solar energy site has full exposure to the south, east, and west. Large trees, buildings, or hillsides that shade the site may make it unsuitable for a solar installation.

 

Life Expectancy

Solar panels are designed to last at least 25 years. They gradually lose efficiency, but should still be generating more than 80 percent of their original output at that point. Inverters need to be replaced more often.

 

Installation

More often than not, professional services and electricians are called to install solar panels and integrate them into electrical systems. While this is the safest option, it’s not impossible to set up without help. For a DIY installation, most will find parts and pieces from hardware stores or specialty electrical suppliers like Enercon Engineering Inc that professionals frequent for solar installations.

 

Depending on local regulations, solar systems may need permits and have zoning restrictions. Some utilities limit how much solar power they'll accept from customers. They also vary in how large a credit they give customers for the solar power they produce.

Depending on the state, solar systems may qualify for tax and other incentives. Check with your utility and your state's energy department.

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BrookeChaplan

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In our modern day and age, people are more and more concerned about preserving the environment, and rightly so. There are plenty of scientific studies that suggest the planet is facing environmental challenges the likes of which it has never faced before. It has gotten to the point that going green is no longer seen as making a personal statement. It is now more about simply being a responsible person. Luckily, with the advance of technology, it has never been easier to be an environmentally friendly home owner.

 

Solar Energy

Solar panel technology has been around for quite some time now. It has never been more affordable than it is now, however. The benefits are pretty obvious to see. By switching out your power source from public energy plants which use up natural resources such as coal and oil, you substantially reduce your carbon footprint.

 

Solar energy is not only incredibly easy to obtain, but it is also very cost effective in the long run. After all, the sun is free to use. So while the initial cost of solar panels can be scary for a lot of people, be assured that they will more than pay themselves off in due time.

 

Of course, you don't have to go all-in on solar energy if don't want to or can't afford to. You may not be able to afford enough panels to power the whole home at first. If this is the case then you can still use solar panels to power parts of your house, while relying on conventional power for the rest of the spaces. It is still better than obtaining all of your energy the conventional way and can be upgraded when you have the ability.

 

Water Efficient Plumbing

I'm sure that you have seen the water efficient bathroom appliances when you go out to restaurants and other such public places. While the businesses generally say that they installed these appliances in order to be environmentally conscientious, we all know that all they really care about is the bottom line. Yet they still installed them. This should be taken as a cue that water efficient bathrooms are both cheaper and good for the environment.

 

Nature-Friendly Gardens

This one really only applies to people with yards, but since that represents a lot of people it is important to mention. Basically, fill up your yard with local plants instead of the standard (water depleting) grass. Not only is it environmentally friendly because you are using native plants that enrich the environment, but it also provides the house with unique curb appeal that everyone will appreciate.

 

So the point is that making your house a little more eco-friendly is far from difficult. In fact, it has never been easier. If you are building your home, companies like Fischer Homes can often construct the home to work well with these green initiatives. So if you haven't already, consider making a few tweaks to your house in order to ensure that you are doing your part to preserve our environment.

BrookeChaplan

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As a savvy homeowner, you do your part to save energy. You turn off lights when leaving a room and turn back the thermostat when you go to work. Yet, if you're scratching your head wondering why your energy bills are still too high, don't fret. Tighten up your home efficiency strategy with these solutions to 3 big home energy wasters.

 

Window Pains

Glass isn’t a very good thermal insulator. In fact, chances are your windows are the Achilles' heel of your home’s shell — leaking air and allowing heat energy to easily transfer. Pick up a glass of iced or hot tea, and you can feel the heat transfer through glass for yourself. Here's what to do.

 

Air seal:

Caulk is a great weapon against window air leaks. A thin line of caulk can seal junctures at siding and window frames. Rope caulk works great to seal window sashes. Clear caulk stops those rattling and leaky window panes.

 

Repair:

Rotting and warping wood window frames should be repaired or restored if you choose not to replace.

 

Replace:

Old, single-pane windows are no match for efficiency and home comfort compared to modern Energy Star-qualified two- and three-pane glass. Moreover, window replacements give your home’s curb appeal new life.

If any of these prove to be a little bit too much to do on your own, call professionals like those at Glasshopper Schor Glass to help you.

 

Ductwork Problems

Your furnace and central air systems work hard to churn out warm and cool air for your home. However, it’s your ductwork that actually transports the conditioned air to where you need it. Like your windows, air ducts waste energy in two major ways — air leaks and transferring heat energy. Insulate ducts outside the heating barrier, and use heat-resistant metal tape to seal loose and leaky ducts.

 

Energy Vampires

Unlike the fictional vampires of fables, literature, and movies that only lurk around at night, energy vampires suck the electricity out of your sockets 24/7/365! This is because many products and appliances — large and small — and electronic gadgets plugged into electrical outlets use energy whether they're on or off.

 

The two most practical ways to stop these energy vampires from sucking the life out of your energy budget every month is to use power strips and shop for Energy Star-qualified products where possible. So, connect all of your cell phone chargers, microwaves, toaster ovens, espresso machines and the like to power strips, and flip the switch when not in use.

 

Only perform DIY projects that you can accomplish safely. For the best results reducing energy waste in your home, contact your home service professional.

 

BrookeChaplan

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Pollution is a serious problem that is having a major impact on the world. While the pollution problems in places like China tend to get more publicity, the truth is that the United States is also facing major pollution problems. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that at least 40% of American rivers and streams are in poor biological condition due to pollution, which makes it necessary that everyone does their part to reduce their environmental impact.

 

One of the most important things you can do to protect the country's waterways is to focus on your plumbing and/or septic system. The wastewater that your home produces can be a major source of pollution if not handled correctly, so here are a few ways you can do your part to help the environment.

 

Watch What You Pour Down the Drain

One of the main problems is that all wastewater eventually ends up in our streams and rivers. This water is first cleaned at a wastewater-treatment facility, but these treatment facilities are much more effective at removing bacteria and biological contaminants than they are at removing chemical contaminants.

 

It is advised that you never pour any strong chemicals, adhesives, or other potentially dangerous substances down the drain and instead dispose of them as instructed. This includes cleaning products, nail polish, and many other household items. Additionally, you should never flush your old medications, as these are another major source of water contamination.

 

Consider Grey Water Recycling

An easy way to reduce the impact of your wastewater is to limit the amount that you produce. To this end, gray water recycling is one of the best and easiest things you can do. With this type of recycling system, the gray water that comes from your sinks, showers, dishwasher, and washing machine is reused instead of being sent down the drain. The black water that comes from your toilets will still end up in the wastewater-treatment facility, but the rest of your water can be used for watering your lawns and landscaping.

 

 

Check the Condition of Your Plumbing or Septic System

A properly maintained, functioning sewage system or septic system is designed to prevent environmental contamination by ensuring that the wastewater doesn't come into contact with the environment until it has been properly treated. However, a leak in your plumbing or sewage could eventually lead to toxic conditions around your home due to the sewage contaminating the surrounding soil.

 

Similarly, it is essential that your septic system is properly installed, placed in a suitable location, and functioning properly to reduce the risk of polluting the surrounding area. If you are considering a septic system, consult a company like Rob’s Septic Tanks Inc to ensure it can be implemented safely. It is also very important that you have your plumbing or septic system inspected regularly by a professional in order to ensure that your wastewater doesn't harm the environment.

 

The fact is that wastewater is always going to be a primary cause of pollution, which means that everyone should do what they can to minimize the damage. While you'll never be able to fully eliminate the impact your wastewater has on the planet, you can at least reduce the damage by being diligent and responsible.

 

BrookeChaplan

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Between the increased heat and the extra freedom that kids get from being out of school, summer is the season where water usage is most likely to increase. Because increased use of anything can result in an equal increase in the chance of contracting an illness, among other hazards and issues, we present a trio of safeguards against the potential contamination of your water supply.

 

Be Environmentally Aware

Be mindful of what you use when washing things like your house or your car outside, the chemicals in substances like car-washing soap can seep into the ground and contaminate the water table by commingling with groundwater. The same goes for being careless with bleach when cleaning around the bathtub or allowing oil leaking from your car to seep down into an outdoor drain. Research the chemicals in the things you use that could potentially worsen the quality of your water and adjust your supplies accordingly.

 

Install a Water Conditioning System

There are a variety of minerals and chemicals that can wreak havoc with your water system and what you use it for. Left unchecked, these minerals can reduce the flow of your water, become problematically rich in sulfur, iron or manganese and "harden" the overall quality of your water. Fortunately, a reliable water conditioning system can assuage worries of these problems. You can get in contact with a company like Johnson Water Conditioning to find out what is best for your home and water.

 

Maintain Your Pool

An untreated swimming pool is a haven for algae and other contaminants to not only develop but thrive. Make sure to regularly check the pH level of your swimming pool, with readings between 7.2 and 7.8 being ideal conditions for swimming. Also, remember that scrubbing the submerged tile on a weekly basis is a good way to reducing the potential for algae to bloom and that there are different types of filters. When "opening" your pool for a new season, it is important to remember that the preparatory work involved can sometimes require up to a week of balancing things out before it is safe to swim.

 

While your local sanitation plant handles the lion's share of stopping water contamination, every person can affect those efforts by their choices made near, or involving, water. Consider installing a water conditioning system to avoid hard water or as a defense against using chemical-saturated water. Pool owners should treat their pools like a low-maintenance pet; while the upkeep isn't much, it must still be done to avoid illness.

BrookeChaplan

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Car manufacturers, auto repair shops and drivers take major steps to protect the environment. Commuters realize that they can do more by being more conscious about driving. The first step is to find out at least a few ways to improve the daily commute to work.

 

Carpool

Carpooling is the most effective way to remain conscious of the environment. The reality is that many people need to get to work, but few people want to give up their vehicles for good. Instead of selling your car altogether, leave it at home and join a carpool. Get four people to carpool in one car and eliminate three whole cars on the road. If a carpool isn’t a great option, you might try taking the bus.

 

Being environmentally friendly is the main reason to carpool, but the other reason is to avoid heavy traffic. If more people carpooled on the way to work, there would be very few or no traffic jams. With fewer cars on the road, there are fewer accidents and drivers drive straight through without stopping. If you take the bus, many cities have a dedicated bus lane that can cut through traffic with ease. It’s definitely worth considering.

 

Get a Regular Checkup

If you have a bad transmission, the car leaks oil from underneath. If you have a bad engine, the car releases too much exhaust gas. It only takes a simple annual checkup to prevent the problems of your car from interacting with the environment. According to Young Automotive Group, it is crucial to work with certified technicians who know the most important maintenance duties to do. Check your air filter for clogs that may cause the engine to overheat. Prolong the lifespan of your engine to avoid having to replace different parts of your car.

 

Track Your Routes

Drivers are known to waste fuel when they do not know where they are going. Many people use GPS devices on their cars or phones, so they choose the quickest and shortest paths to where they need to go. If your career relies on driving, you need this kind of guidance system to save money on fuel and reduce the volume of emissions you release into the air. The less you drive, the smaller the carbon footprints you leave in the world.

 

Millions of cars crowd the streets and roads all over the world. If half of those drivers gave up cars, the effects are guaranteed to change the environment for the better. If half of those drivers carpooled, the effects would be similar. The change starts with you and your daily commute to work.

BrookeChaplan

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Going completely green is a feat that few people can actually accomplish - especially those with busy lives and/ or families. But there are always smaller steps that anyone can take to live a greener lifestyle. While you may not be ready to live in a 300 square foot tiny home, there are a number of relatively simple and steps you can take to leave a lower carbon footprint - and sometimes even save some money in the process. Here are 4 green home improvements you can do yourself.

 

Composting

Landfills in North America are filling up and closing down. Nearly 1/3 of all landfill waste is composed of compostable materials. Composting allows you to create a thick, nutrient-rich humus for your lawn and garden while diverting as much as 30% of household waste. Not only does composting offer a natural alternative to chemical fertilizers, but microscopic organisms in compost help aerate the soil and ward off plant disease.

 

Lay Synthetic Grass

With water prices skyrocketing, not only will this upgrade help you go green, it will save you a lot of green - and manpower. Eco-friendly synthetic grass requires no water, no mowing and stays green for years. No more mowing the lawn every week in the summer or having to pay someone else to do it. With synthetic grass, you can use your water and your compost on a beautiful garden instead of your lawn.

 

Install Solar Panels

Solar panel systems can be purchased for as little as a few thousand dollars but will save you significantly on your monthly energy bill. For around $10,000, you can purchase a system that could allow you to go off-grid entirely. If you can’t go for 10k, solar power companies like Renogy usually have a wide range of solar kits at varying prices and sizes to fit any budget. Today's solar energy panels are easy to install and can be up and running in an hour or less.

 

Upgrade your thermostat

Not only are today's thermostats more intuitive, they are also far more sensitive to air temperatures. A decade ago, thermostats would detect when the air temperature rose or dropped about 8 degrees above or below where the temperature was set at to heat or cool the house about 8 - 10 degrees above or below the set temperature. This meant people regularly turned their heat up to high to stay warm or the air too low to stay cool. Today's thermostats are capable of regulating heating and cooling systems to stay constantly within a few degrees, so you can set your temp where you are comfortable and keep it there.

 

Going green doesn't have to cost a fortune, nor does it have to be a significant hassle. In fact, some eco-friendly products are actually superior to their more harmful counterparts. Where green products were once generally more expensive than the more harmful products, now green solutions will often save you green.

BrookeChaplan

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Transitioning your home's electrical system to include solar power can provide a huge number of financial and environmental benefits. Installing a solar power generating system on your roof or in your yard has the potential to greatly reduce your electricity bill while also reducing your carbon footprint and helping to protect the planet. In this way, going green with solar power is truly a great thing to do.

 

Unfortunately, making the transition isn't always as simple or straightforward as it seems. Despite the price of solar systems and installation continuing to drop to new record lows, the fact is that solar still remains prohibitively expensive for many homeowners. As well, the overall success of your solar system depends in large part on how and where it's installed and the quality of your equipment. For these reasons, it is essential that you pay attention to the following tips in order to help you overcome any potential obstacles and hopefully simplify your transition to solar.

 

Always Have a Solar Feasibility Study Performed

Not all homes are suitable for solar power and even if your home is suitable, you'll still need to know where the best spot for the panels is, how many solar panels you'll need and how much energy you can expect the system to produce. A solar feasibility study helps you answer all of these questions in order to ensure that you get the best possible system for your home and your energy needs.

 

Most reputable solar installation companies will offer this type of study for free. In this way, you'll not only be able to ensure that you get the best possible system, but you'll also be able to compare the prices, products, and services offered by each company to find the best possible deal.

 

Purchase Everything Up-Front

When deciding to go solar, you will typically have the option to purchase all of your own equipment up front, lease the equipment from a solar company or sign a Power Purchasing Agreement with your power company, in which case they supply and own all of the equipment. Although purchasing your own equipment requires a much larger initial investment, it is well worth it since your investment will provide tangible goods. Otherwise, you'll end up paying for something that someone else still technically owns.

 

You will generally be able to qualify for a variety of local, state and federal rebates and tax incentives to help offset the initial costs. However, if you're still unable to afford what it costs, it's well worth it to try to get a loan to cover your solar transition in order to help you meet your energy goals. If timing is the only thing holding you back, searching regionally for something like “Texas payday loan” can help you find short term lenders you can use, so long as you’re prepared to pay them back ASAP. The energy saving benefits of your solar system should help to offset any interest payments you make on the loan. Buying your solar equipment out right also gives you the ability to sell your solar panels or other equipment should you ever decide to upgrade, and the solar system obviously boosts your home's total value. All of this makes a loan more than worth it in the end.

 

Make Any Necessary Repairs or Upgrades Ahead of Time

In addition to the solar feasibility study, you'll want to make sure to have your roof inspected to ensure it can fully support the solar panels. If the inspection discovers any leaks, structural damage or other issues, it is essential that you have them fixed prior to the solar installation. Similarly, if your roof is only a year or two away from needing to be replaced, you should definitely consider having it done now. Otherwise, you risk having to have the solar system removed to fix the damage and then starting all over.

 

Forget about the DIY Route

Although you can read numerous articles online about DIY solar, the truth is that installing a solar system is something that's best left to the professionals. The complicated electrical work required is not only incredibly dangerous for anyone other than a certified electrician, but any wiring issues also have the potential to destroy your solar system or potentially even burn down your home. At the very least, wiring issues can harm the efficiency of your solar panels.

 

The actual installation of the solar panels should also be left to a trained professional since the exact position, angle and orientation will directly influence how much energy they can create. Therefore, if you want your solar system to be safe and work properly, it is imperative that you have it professionally installed.

 

Solar power is now more accessible than ever, and there truly has never been a better time to make the transition to clean, green, renewable solar energy. However, a poorly designed or improperly installed solar system will still be a huge waste of money. In this sense, it is essential that you get the expert advice and financial assistance you need to ensure your transition to solar is a success.

BrookeChaplan

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Growing an organic garden is not as arduous as some people think it is. Indeed, it may be easier than growing one that depends on lots of commercial fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides in an attempt to wrestle nature into producing perfect fruit and veggies. Organic gardeners believe that their garden can be healthy and grow abundantly with some guided help from nature. With this in mind, here are three tips for growing organic for the first time:

Cultivate the Earthworms

The sight of an earthworm in the soil brings joy to the organic gardener’s heart, for they are a gardener’s best friend. Their tunneling through the soil aerates it, breaks it up and homogenizes and loosens it, which helps the plant’s roots reach deep. Their burrowing also raises important minerals from the subsoil to the topsoil where they are available to your plants. They neutralize soil that is too alkaline or acid for your plants, and they liberate essential nutrients and help the soil retain water.

Use Compost and Other Natural Fertilizers

Compost is any organic material that has been broken down into simpler forms through the action of bacteria. When used as fertilizer, it feeds both plants and other creatures who live in the soil. This is in contrast to artificial fertilizers, which can kill such beneficial beasties as earthworms if they are not used in just the right way. Compost also lasts a long time because its components are broken down slowly. Chemical fertilizers give the plants a boost then they’ll peter out quickly. You can purchase Nature Safe organic fertilizer as an alternative to harmful chemicals if you can’t compost.  Another great thing about compost is that you can make your own out of kitchen scraps and other waste products. These can include the scraped skins and ends of vegetables, grass clippings, paper as long as it doesn’t have colored ink and autumn leaves. The few things to avoid include meat, the manure of carnivorous animals, charcoal and wood ashes.

Getting Rid of Pests

Even the most loved-up organic garden is going to attract pests, though probably not as many as you think. Ways to discourage pests without organic remedies include:

  • ·         Encouraging earthworms

  • ·         Composting

  • ·         Planting varieties of plants that are resistant to diseases and pests

  • ·         Using row covers before the pests or diseases can attack

  • ·         Encourage insect-eating birds to show up by building birdhouses

  • ·         Plant in the fall when pests and diseases are less common

These are only three tips for a first time organic gardener. With time, care and patience, you won’t believe how beautiful, healthy and fertile your garden will be.

BrookeChaplan

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If you are looking to save money by generating your own power at home, solar is the way to go. To completely wipe out your utility bills, you have to get a system that is big enough to generate all the power that you need. Once you have your materials, you can maximize energy production by putting them in the right places and keeping them maintained.

 

Calculate Your Needs Before You Buy

Before you shop for solar panels, you should know how much electricity your home needs. You can figure this out by looking at your utility bills to see how many kilowatt-hours you used. To account for seasonal energy demand and consumption trends, you should look at statements from the past year.

 

Once you know how much energy you use, you can figure out how big your solar power system needs to be. Panels almost never produce their maximum rated power. You have to buy more kilowatts than you use to account for the amount of sunlight your location receives. The U.S. Department of Energy has some useful equations and maps that will help you calculate how many kilowatts you really need to meet your energy needs. Make sure you explore all of your options by checking out inventory from suppliers like ML Solar and any other place so you can get the best price.

 

Put Your Panels in the Right Place

Even if you buy enough solar panels, they won't work too well if you install them in the wrong position. They obviously need to go in a sunny spot, but you should understand a few other positioning factors that will affect your power system's performance.

 

In the Northern Hemisphere, the sun is on the southern horizon, so south-facing panels get the strongest sunlight. If this is not an option on your property, west is the next best choice. This is because homeowners tend to use the most electricity in the late afternoon, especially during the summer air conditioning season.

 

Your panels also need to be placed at an angle in order to receive the most direct sunlight. The size of this tilt depends on your location and the time of year. You can use this calculator to determine the proper angle for your setup. It is best to buy some adjustable racks to properly tilt your panels toward the sun's rays as the seasons change. They will pay for themselves with the extra power you will produce.

 

Keep Your Panels Working Well

Solar power systems are very low maintenance, but there are a few things you need to do to ensure a continuous supply of power. Most of the work involves cleaning the panel surfaces to remove the grime that blocks sunlight. Washing dust and bird droppings off your system is very similar to washing a car, but you should use a special kit that is designed for cleaning solar panels.

 

Your system won't produce a lot of power if it is blocked by leaves in the fall and snow in the winter. Make sure you clear them off whenever you rake your lawn and shovel your driveway. If there are any trees near your solar array, you also may need to trim the branches whenever they grow big enough to cast shade over your panels.

 

A solar power system will produce all the electricity that you need with the right research, setup, and maintenance. When you keep the right sized system working efficiently in the right place, you can say goodbye to all those high energy bills.

BrookeChaplan

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Some people don't see the value of conserving water unless they live in a desert or drought zone. They fail to recognize that fresh water resources can dry up at any time or become polluted by nearby agricultural and industrial processes. No matter where you live, reducing water waste when landscaping is critical to protecting this life-saving resource and the environment. You can decrease the amount of fresh water used for your landscaping by following these three simple tips:

 

Build a Patio

Since grass is the primary feature of many landscape designs and requires a lot of water to thrive, homeowners should always decrease the amount of grass in their landscaping. One of the best ways to do this is with a paving stone sitting area or patio. A properly sealed patio surface prevents water-greedy weeds from growing between the stones. You can also design the surface in a way that channels rain run-off directly to nearby plants. You can check out companies like Paving Stone of San Diego to find the right size, shape, and style of pavers and other materials you want to use.

 

Install Rock Gardens

A patio isn't your only stone landscaping option. Many homeowners who care about water conservation invest in a variety of small, medium and large loose natural stones in wide bands, geometric shapes and other patterns with or without plants for ground cover. Some people also install large boulders surrounded by small plants that use little water. A serene Japanese "Zen" rock and rake garden is another option. Some homeowners even replace grass with painted square pavers designed to duplicate a life-size chess, Scrabble or other popular game board for outdoor play with family and friends.

 

Swap Out Plants

Unlike grass and many common seasonal flowering plants that need a lot of water every day to maintain their healthy appearance, succulents like cacti, agave and aloe retain water longer so that you don't have to water them as often. Even though moss species need moist environments, moss is another option that can store enough water from short daily misting to survive periods of dryness. It also rejuvenates quickly after a dry period when it's re-hydrated. Additionally, both succulents and moss are more diverse and colorful than grass and they don't require maintenance via gas-powered mowers and trimmers that also cause environmental pollution.

 

Always keep in mind that with all plant-based landscaping options, misting and drip irrigation works better than a sprinkler because they use less water in a more targeted and efficient fashion. It is possible for you to have a beautiful landscape and reduce water waste. Start redesigning your landscape today.

BrookeChaplan

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The process of flipping a home is increasingly common, and it involves fixing up an older, outdated home for the purpose of turning a profit. Flipping can be lucrative, but it can also be wasteful. Some people are looking for green ways to flip homes. These may be ways that limit waste or that make the future owner’s use of the home more environmentally-friendly. If you are thinking about green-flipping a home, these are some excellent project ideas to consider.

 

Install Solar Panels

The source of energy that a home uses can play a major role in how green the building is for future occupants. The sun provides a steady stream of renewable energy to homeowners each day, and solar panels are responsible for capturing and converting this energy. Installing solar panels and a full solar energy system on the building can eliminate the need for homeowners to use fossil fuels for energy. This can have a dramatic impact on how green the home is for years to come.

 

Replace Old Windows

Older windows, typically, are poor insulators, and they can allow an incredible amount of thermal energy transference. This can decrease how energy efficient the home’s HVAC system is. Modern windows may have two or three panes of glass as well as an insulating layer of gases between them. They may also be better sealed than older windows. As a side benefit, updating older windows can also improve the interior and exterior look of the home with beautiful results. There may be tax credits for the installation of energy efficient windows that can help you to save money on this project.

 

Add New Insulation

Another idea to consider when green-flipping a home is to improve the building’s insulation. Old fiberglass insulation can slouch down in walls or even deteriorate or rot. New spray foam insulation has a higher R-value for decreased thermal energy transference. It also will hold its shape and remain in place for long-term protection around the home. Some of the side benefits associated with adding spray foam insulation to the home include noise reduction for improved ambiance inside the home as well as improved air quality in the building.

 

Choose Reclaimed or Recycled Materials

There are many aspects of a flipping project that are designed mostly to improve aesthetics of the home, and using new materials is common in these projects. However, new materials may use natural resources and may increase pollution. A better idea is to use reclaimed or recycled materials as much as possible. You may even be able to reuse some of the materials in the existing home. For example, you could refinish an existing wood floor or expose decorative shiplap that may be buried underneath drywall. In many cases, exposing and refinishing beams in a historic home incorporates the character of the home in beautiful ways. You can also use reclaimed materials from other buildings to further decrease the use of new materials.

 

Replace the Appliances

From the HVAC system and water heater to kitchen appliances and more, appliances can use a substantial amount of energy. This is particularly true when the appliances are older in age. Modern appliances that carry the EnergyStar rating are green, and you can easily improve the look and function of the home when you select the right appliances to use when flipping the home.

 

While renovating a home for the purposes of flipping it can generate a substantial amount of waste and pollution, it does not have to. The use of recycled materials can keep waste to a minimum. You can also limit waste by making extensive plans. Taking educational courses like Success Path can help you make better plans to get the job done right.  In addition, there are multiple green projects that you can work on throughout the home that can make the home energy efficient and green. Consider incorporating some or all of these project ideas into your next flip project for incredible results.

BrookeChaplan

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In an increasingly environmentally aware world, much debate has been raised about what the most eco-conscious materials are. While natural materials are the most eco-friendly over the long haul, there is also great concern about the stripping of natural resources with which to make those products. Wood can be and is, however, still the most eco-conscious choice, when used responsibility. Here are 4 reasons why wood is still the best eco-conscious choice for home building projects.

 

Biodegradable

Most plastics are not actually biodegradable, but will eventually decompose. However, based on the type of plastic, this can take anywhere from 5-10 years to 100 years or longer to occur. A piece of scrap wood is fully biodegradable and will be reabsorbed by the earth in anywhere from just a few months to a few years depending on conditions.

 

Sustainable resource

Resources only become stripped when they are not replaced or replanted. Sustainable harvesting involves replanting at the same - or greater - rates than resources are being consumed. While trees that produce hardwoods may take 100 years or more to mature, other woods like bamboo and pine can be regrown in just a few years, providing a limitless and sustainable supply of resources.

 

No toxic waste

The creation and processing of plastics requires a number of chemicals that can produce a great deal of potentially toxic waste. Wood is an organic substance that creates organic waste and is therefore far better for the environment. In addition, the chemicals used to process plastic can remain on even the finished product. In today's energy conscious homes, tight seals on windows and doors keep chemical fumes from plastic products trapped tightly inside, creating a toxic zone inside your own home.

 

Upcycling

There is almost no limit to the number of times wood can be used again and again. With a little sanding, old furniture can be repainted or pieces from one item of furniture turned into a completely different item of furniture. Old wood pallets and crates like those offered by Acme Case Co Pty Ltd can become chic statement pieces, dressers can become bathroom vanities and armoires can become beautiful TV cabinets. Once most plastic products become old, scratched, broken, stained or worn out, they generally just have to be thrown away because they often can't be repaired or restored. When the same thing happens to wood, however, it often just increases its character and value.

 

While new uses for recycled plastics are constantly being developed to keep them out of landfills and oceans, plastic bags, bottles and other items have still become an environmental menace. In spite of a few companies that have made headlines for their unethical harvesting of natural resources, wood still remains one of the most eco-conscious choices you can make for everything from furniture to building materials.

BrookeChaplan

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A new UN study concludes that the future of companies around the globe will depend on their ability to cope with the coming consequences of climate change. Food, mining, transport, finance, and tourism industries especially will be impacted by extreme weather, the rising cost of natural resources, and a reduction in biodiversity. Companies that haven't put emphasis on reducing their environmental impact should do so now. Here are three important ways companies can get started.

 

Smart Houses, Smart Business

"Smart" homes are a new trend in technology and should be applied to more commercial enterprises. A smart building is equipped with interconnected, Wi-Fi-enabled devices that can work together to reduce energy demands. Sensors and pre-programmed devices can automatically perform important steps like turning off lights when there's no activity, turning off printers and computers at the end of the workday, or turning down AC at night or on weekends. These are small things that busy humans often forget, but automating them throughout a large facility can lead to substantial energy reduction - and cost savings - over time.

 

A "Green" Culture

A company can also reduce its environmental impact by implementing and encouraging environmentally friendly practices with its staff. This can include reducing paper use, using recycled products and materials, using permanent cups and utensils rather than disposable ones, and encouraging plants for better atmosphere and air quality. You can also find technology from companies like Stephenson Environmental Management Australia to monitor and control air contaminants. This makes for a healthier, more productive workforce while eliminating pollutants.

 

Renewable energy infrastructures

Businesses can save more money over the long term and reduce their environmental impact by integrating renewable energy sources wherever possible. Solar and wind farms can generate enough power to meet office needs. They could even be over-sized to create surplus power that can be sold back to the grid under Australia's feed-in tariffs, thus reducing the energy needs of the surrounding community. Excess solar energy could also be used to charge batteries at night that could power a data center for hours during the day.

 

Public response is almost invariably favorable toward environmentally conscious companies, thus adding to company brand and appeal. There are some initial costs to adopting green technologies and products, but it makes perfect business sense over the long term. And as the UN study suggests, companies that "go green" sooner will benefit more later.

BrookeChaplan

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As the seasons change from fall to winter, temperatures turn from comfortable to chilly. Depending on your location, temperatures can drop down drastically and create one frigid situation. So, how do you beat the cold? Most people would reach to turn on space heaters or dial up that thermostat. But, chances are good that your heating sources are consuming astonishing amounts of energy. Before heading over to the thermostat, there are several ways to tame the cold weather without wasting all that energy!

Use Natural Heating Sources

A simple way to be green in the winter months is to let some sun into your home by keeping the curtains open during the day! The heat from the sun can help keep your house warm without running the furnace all day.

Turn Down Your Thermostat

Energy officials recommend keeping your thermostat at around 68 degrees during the winter months. If 68 degrees just isn’t cutting it, try wearing sweaters, socks, or blankets around the house to bridge the gap. Also, try to avoid changing the thermostat throughout the day. Keeping the temperature consistent reduces energy consumption, and wear and tear on your heating system.

Check Your Windows

Considering that cold air can enter your home through tiny openings in your windows, it’s a good idea to take measures to make your windows work for you, not against you.

For one, you could have your windows replaced. Windows can make all the difference by keeping warm air in and the cold air out. There are experts out there, like Statewide Energy Solutions, which specialize in energy efficient window and door installation.

You could also seal your existing windows using caulking or weather stripping. Caulking is especially helpful for small gaps in windows. Weather stripping is used more for sealing moving pieces like large windows and doors.

Keeping Up Your Heating Systems

A simple yet practical solution to being energy efficient is to just maintain the upkeep of your heating and air system! Replacing the filters, cleaning your ducts, and having your system serviced will help cut down on your heating costs. It’s always a good idea to make sure everything is serviced and up to date to avoid any issues during those cold winter months!

In short, there are many ways to be efficient during the winter months. By checking your windows, using natural heat, and keeping your central heating up to par, your whole family benefits as you have made conscious energy saving efforts! Remember, you can be warm without being wasteful!

BrookeChaplan

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Energy costs make up a significant portion of household costs in the US. In fact, some households spend as much as 7% of their annual income on energy costs. These trends aren’t helped by the ever-growing number of electronic devices we all use daily. In light of that, there’s a growing interest in ways to reduce household energy waste.

Repairs

If your house isn’t brand new, it’s probably already started settling. That settling process creates numerous gaps and cracks around your house that drive up heating and cooling costs. You usually notice it in the form of drafts near doors and windows. Gaps also show up around your foundation and where the walls meet the roof.

A tube of caulk will make short work of small gaps and cracks around windows and doors. Installing new weather stripping around your doors and windows helps as well. Expanding foam can pick up the slack on larger gaps and around pipes. If your furnace or AC unit seems to be straining, make an appointment for heating/cooling repairs or maintenance.

Behavioral Changes

Most people don’t realize it, but they own behaviors actually generate a lot of energy waste. You can slash that waste with some basic changes in behavior. Push heat-generating activities like laundry drying and baking into the late evening during the summer. Electricity often costs less in the evening and it takes pressure off your A/C unit.

Wash small loads of dishes by hand. Water heating typically costs less than running a dishwasher for an hour. Unplug electronic devices you aren’t actually using, like computers and TVs. They often leach power by going into a standby mode.

Upgrades

You can also use upgrades to cut energy waste. Look for the Energy Star emblem on new appliances, computers, and even televisions. They often use substantially less power than similar appliances and electronics. You can also upgrade to smart power strips that turn off power to devices that you aren’t using.

Another area where most houses can use an upgrade is the insulation. Dropping another layer of insulation in the attic improves how well the living spaces hold heat or cool air. Consider throwing an insulation jacket on your water heater and foam insulation on your water pipes. It cuts down unnecessary radiant heating and helps protect pipes from freezing.

Energy waste isn’t something you must accept. You can take small steps with behavior changes and basic repairs. You take things up a notch with extra insulation and upgrades to appliances and electronics. Big or small, every change reduces your energy waste.

BrookeChaplan

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Real estate investment can cost a modest fortune for many people, and because of this, you understandably want to save money in every way possible. The U.S. government has created numerous tax breaks and other financial benefits for those who own green homes or who make green improvements to their homes within a specified tax year. Such benefits can help you to save a sizable chunk of change within the next year. If you are looking for ways to save on your home ownership expenses, consider these points.

 

Green Energy Generation

There are several ways to produce green energy in your own home. This ranges from solar and wind energy to the use of geothermal pumps and more. Many home energy production methods produce enough energy to entirely offset the home's energy needs on a regular basis. Generally, the IRS allows you to deduct at least a portion of the purchase of the equipment and the installation cost for many types of green energy systems. This can drastically offset the cost to get the system up and running, and you can then enjoy ongoing energy savings throughout your time in the house.

 

HVAC Systems, Boilers and Furnaces

Climate control is a serious matter for homeowners, and you understandably need to invest in new, energy-efficient equipment to keep your home’s indoor climate as comfortable as possible regardless of the weather conditions outside. If you invest in a new HVAC system, boiler or furnace that is sufficiently energy efficient to meet IRS standards, you may qualify for a deduction or tax credit. Typically, the credit or deduction applies to specific models and is based on the equipment and installation costs. Some equipment may also qualify for local grants for additional savings.

 

Sealing the Home

Everything from new insulation to new doors and windows are responsible for sealing the home. Such features can prevent the transfer of heat between the indoor and outdoor environments, and this can drastically reduce energy consumption related to climate control activities. Replacing insulation, doors, and windows with newer, energy-efficient models may qualify the home for a tax deduction or tax credit. The cost of insulation and materials may both be used to determine the amount of the credit or deduction.

 

Living green is a great way to decrease your impact on the environment and to save money on energy costs in the process. Through these green home improvements, you may also be able to enjoy tax credits and deductions for additional savings. If you’re unsure what benefits you can get, realtors like those at Mark Fox Company can help you find out.

BrookeChaplan

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Modern cars are greener than ever before, and drivers have a wide array of great cars that sip fuel compared to their older counterparts. For some tasks, however, nothing can beat a truck. There’s no need to give up on reducing your impact on the environment just because you depend on a truck, though. Here are a few ways you can be eco-conscious when you need a truck.

 

Watch Your Speed

Large engines can give trucks surprising speed, especially when driven unloaded. However, excessive acceleration can lead to wasted gas, reducing your fuel efficiency and increasing emissions. Accelerate fast enough to drive safely, but take it easy when the light turns green. Try to coast to avoid stopping if possible. Any time you come to a complete stop, you lose fuel efficiency. Coasting to stoplights might let you maintain some speed when the light turns green, which uses less gas than accelerating up to the speed limit. Trucks, and cars, typically hit their efficiency sweet spot between 45 and 60 miles per hour, so stay in that range whenever possible.

 

Focus on Maintenance

Maintaining your truck is essential for extending its lifespan, but it also leads to better fuel efficiency and less wasted energy. Regularly check your tire pressure, as even small deviations from recommended values can waste energy. When you purchase a truck, make sure to read up on its maintenance schedule carefully, as failing to replace parts at the recommended intervals may decrease your fuel economy. Oil changes can have a small impact on fuel efficiency, but air filters can have a major impact, so make sure to keep your filters fresh. Aside from fuel efficiency, regular maintenance ensures that your truck doesn’t leak oil or other chemicals that are bad for the environment.

 

Plan Ahead

A bit of planning can go a long way. Make sure you know where your destination is; missing an exit, for example, will waste fuel along with time. If you’re going to be busy moving items, plan out your schedule in advance so you can fit as much as possible in the bed. Trucks are designed to haul heavy loads, and even though they decrease your fuel economy, one heavy load is far more efficient than two lighter loads. If you’re transporting people, make sure you know where everyone is going before departing to avoid any confusion that might require you to stop or reroute.

 

Although they aren’t as efficient as cars, trucks play a critical role in reducing automotive emissions by reducing the number of trips needed to transport items, and many green jobs are reliant on trucks. Fortunately, there are steps drivers can take to make their trucks even more efficient, and building green habits will have a significant effect over the years.

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