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Helping to make our society more green and energy independent one blog post at a time

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LizzieWeakley

There are plenty of good reasons to look at reducing your energy consumption. You might want to save money, for example, or you might want to do your part to help the environment. No matter what your needs, you can take a look at the four systems below to make an impact on your energy efficiency.

Water Heater

Your water heater is probably one part of your home that you don't think of as inefficient, but technology has marched on to the point that many heaters that are fifteen or twenty years old are wildly out of date. Switching over to a tankless heater will not only save you quite a bit on your energy bills, but it will also allow you to get hot water faster. Switching over to a new unit can be a great way to save money over the long run.

The AC Unit

Your AC unit is another home system that can be incredibly inefficient. This time, it's not just technology that's at fault - if you have a system that's the wrong size for your home, your energy bills might go through the roof. It's a good idea to have an AC installation service come out to your home and take a look at your system to see if it could be replaced with something that's a bit more efficient.

Your Washer and Dryer

This is another area in which technology has changed for the better. Many modern washers are much more efficient than their older counterparts, washing more thoroughly while still using less water. Modern dryers, on the other hand, use less energy while still getting your clothing dry. Upgrading to a new washer and dryer can actually save you the money over the course of a few years while still allowing you to do something to help the environment.

Lighting

Finally, lighting is an upgradable area that is often overlooked. At a bare minimum, you can switch out old lights for energy-efficient lighting. If you really want to go all-out, though, you can switch over to smart lights. These lights automatically turn off when you're not in the room, adjust their brightness based on personal settings, and can even be set to timers so they're only on when they are really needed. If you want the most efficient lighting, smart lights are the way to go.

Reducing your energy usage may really be as simple as replacing some common systems in your home. Look at the lighting, air conditioning, washing, and even your water heater as places where you can make a change. With a little effort, you can really dial down your energy consumption.

4 Home Systems That Can Easily Be More Energy Efficient.jpg

LizzieWeakley

Making eco-conscious choices can be a barrier because they often require serious lifestyle modifications, and that makes it hard to stick with the environmentally friendly choice. Effortless choices are more likely to stick and become part of your lifestyle, routine and daily life. Try these four methods for making effortless environmentally friendly choices daily.

 

Don't Believe Labels


 

Buzzwords related to environmentally conscious choices are used in marketing and product design to get you to buy those organic-reusable bags, bleach-free paper products and countless other products you use on a daily basis. Labels are helpful for choosing eco-conscious products, but they don't always tell the full story. For example, organic cotton is often touted as a better choice over regular cotton, but that is hardly the case. What you aren't told is that organic cotton is one of the most environmentally damaging crops, and it's an especially finicky crop to grow and harvest. Processing organic cotton also uses just as much water as conventional cotton. It's not as eco-friendly as previously thought.

 

Reduce Consumption


 

Everyone gets hung up on recycling, but reducing consumption of new goods is often forgotten about. It's one of the easiest ways to make eco-conscious choices for sustainable living. Instead of buying a new reusable bag, search a thrift store for some or repurpose old t-shirts. Several little choices throughout the day or week can make the biggest impact.

 

Choose Appliance Settings Carefully


 

Appliances, including heating and cooling systems, drain energy on a regular basis. They're necessary to have, but they don't have to be a drain on the grid. Choose settings for your ducted air conditioning carefully in hotter months, and set heat temperatures wisely when it is colder. Take this a step further by doing some research on your home appliances to figure out what is most eco-conscious, and from there, it's effortless.

 

Buy Only What You Need


 

Buying only what is needed is critically important when it comes to food waste, but it also applies to everything else you buy. Bulk food is only a sustainable choice when that food will be consumed before it goes bad. Where it's permitted, taking your own containers to the grocery store can make this lifestyle change effortless.


 

Looking at your choices through the lens of what is sustainable will make it easier for you to make better decisions about how you live. No one is perfect, but daily choices add up to benefit your local environment and beyond.

LizzieWeakley

Perhaps the most important factor in choosing the insulation for your new home is its ability to reduce energy costs. In the winter, insulation should keep warm air in, and in the summer, it should keep hot air out. Choosing the right insulation can reduce your energy bill by as much as 30 percent.

For decades, most homes were constructed using fiberglass insulation; however, fiberglass can cause many health issues. Whether you’re building a new home or remodeling, consider an eco-friendly insulation alternative to make your home both comfortable and safe.

Consider removing your ceiling insulation and replacing it with one of the following upgraded, eco-friendly options.

Recycled Cotton

 

Since cotton is both natural and a renewable resource, it’s among the most eco-friendly insulation options. Scraps from old blue jeans and other used clothing are shredded and produced into heavy batts that fit between your wall studs just like fiberglass insulation. To make cotton insulation non-flammable, it’s treated with a borate solution. Cotton does not contain harmful formaldehyde and does not cause respiratory problems. Likewise, cotton insulation is a natural insect repellent.

Cork

 

This option is made from the outer bark of cork trees. It’s free of toxins, renewable, biodegradable, and recyclable. It also helps to deaden noise. Cork is among the most versatile materials, and can be used for a wide variety of products. Although cork has been used for more than a century as a building material, it’s eco-friendly value has only recently become widely known.

Cellulose

 

Cellulose insulation is made from recycled paper; it’s toxin-free and safe to install. Modern cellulose insulation is often made from recycled newspaper with an added fire retardant, made from a combination of ammonium sulfate and borate. The insulating performance of loose cellulose insulation compares well to other types of affordable insulation.

Sheep’s Wool

 

Sheep’s wool is a natural fire retardant, and in recent years, the insulating qualities of sheep’s wool have been applied to home construction.

The wool fiber’s outer layers are water-resistant while the inner layers absorb moisture. This insulates your home while preventing condensation within the walls. When you insulate with sheep’s wool, you will save both energy and money in the long run.

There is no right or wrong choice when it comes to green options for insulating your home. Just do your own research, weighing the pros and cons of each type of insulation to find the one that works best for your home.

LizzieWeakley

While your energy usage should go down once the weather starts to cool off, your energy bills might still be much higher than necessary. With a few simple home upgrades and some basic maintenance, you should be able to improve the efficiency of your home while reducing your carbon footprint.

Insufficient Insulation

Many homeowners never even think about their insulation until their electric bills skyrocket. Most insulation should last for at least 15 years, but yours might become damaged before that time. If your insulation is matted or torn, then it needs to be replaced with new batts or blow-in cellulose. Before you invest in new insulation, you must determine the correct R-value for your climate. Using the proper insulation will greatly increase your family’s comfort while minimizing your electric bills.

A Faulty HVAC System

Older HVAC systems tend to be very inefficient, and there may come a point when you need to consider professional HVAC services. An experienced contractor will be able to improve the efficiency of the system and check it for any signs of damage. As a general rule, you should try to schedule a service call with an HVAC contractor at least twice a year. Regular maintenance will increase the lifespan of your HVAC system and help you avoid a catastrophic breakdown.

Old or Damaged Wiring

In addition to being extremely dangerous, damaged wiring can also be a major energy drain. When a wire is damaged, much of the electricity will be turned into heat, and that is highly inefficient. A few of the most common signs of a damaged electrical system include flickering lights, frayed wires, discolored outlets, and a buzzing sound in the walls. Those types of issues should only be taken care of by an experienced electrician who is fully licensed and insured.

Inefficient Windows

When the weather cools down, you want to be sure that your home can trap in warm air. If you have an older house, then you should think about upgrading the windows. Modern windows often have multiple layers of glass and plastic, and that makes them highly efficient. You will also need to make sure that you use heavy curtains that block out cold drafts.

Another step that you can take to improve the efficiency of your home is to reverse all of your ceiling fans during the fall and winter months. When a fan is turning clockwise, it will draw the cool air in the room up and disperse the warm air that is collecting near the ceiling.

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LizzieWeakley

Water is a scarce resource in many places around the country. A few cities in drought-stricken areas have implemented watering rations. They give fines to homeowners who violate these regulations, and this has caused many of these homeowners to search for alternative materials for landscaping, ones that help conserve water. You’ll find four of those materials below.

Rocks and Gravel

Rocks come in many sizes and types; you can even buy multi-ton boulders. Nothing drinks less water than a rock, so that’s a plus for the environment, and landscaping stores have truckloads of them in all different sizes, colors, and shapes.

Gravel may not sound like the most beautiful landscaping material, but it works great. You can buy it in different colors and sizes, and maintaining it won’t cost you any water at all.

Drought Resistant Plants

When water’s tight, there’s no better choice of a plant than one that has low water needs. Many of these hearty plants can go weeks without water yet still retain their beauty. When introducing drought-resistant plants to your area, make sure they’re not invasive, or they might cause you some headaches. Also, after planting them, contact someone local that offers residential mulch services to mulch and maintain the mulch around the plants.

Artificial Turf

Artificial turf has come a long way and is no longer the surface of years ago. Today’s various artificial lawns are much softer than those in the past. They are also more heat-resistant today. There has been some controversy surrounding some of the chemicals that make up certain artificial turfs and their risk to human health. The way to avoid this risk is to purchase non-toxic turf.

Concrete Pavement and Pavers

Putting down concrete pavement will cost you some water upfront, but after that, it’s water-free forever. If you have a piece of lawn that’s drinking too much H2O, you might consider throwing a small slab down and turning it into a patio or sitting area.

Concrete pavers don’t need any water at all and come in an array of different sizes, shapes, and colors. They make an excellent replacement for the areas of your yard that are too water-intensive and are easy to install.

The materials listed above may not be the first landscaping choices of many. However, they are a great option if you are wanting and needing to conserve water. Remember, water conservation can lead to a beautiful landscape and a healthier environment.

LizzieWeakley

3 Ways to Keep Well Water System Green and Clean.JPG

 

We all know we must have water in order to survive. Many people do not question the safety of the water that comes out of their tap. According to the US Geological Survey, approximately 15% of individuals use private well water for their drinking water source. But is such water safe? We will look at 3 ways to ensure your well water is safe for consumption.

Pay Attention to Warning Signs


Many well system owners rely upon their wells for drinking water and water for cooking and cleaning without thinking twice about whether or not the water is safe and clean to drink. There are some warning signs that should lead well water owners to consider the possibility that their well system needs to be tested. Some of those warning signs include:

  • Bad taste or unusual smell

  • Stains or residue in clothes or fixtures

  • Water is not clear, it is cloudy

  • Plumbing fixtures corrode faster than expected

  • Family members with severe GI issues

Educate Yourself on Maintaining Your Private Well Water System

Many well system owners are not aware that water testing should be conducted on a regular basis and especially if any of the warning signs of possible contamination are present. If you are the owner of a private well water system, an easy place to begin to educate yourself about how to maintain a safe well is to use the resources of the Water Systems Council. This nonprofit has an excellent website where well owners can find a local resource to have their well water tested (usually through a division of the state’s department of health and environmental safety.

Obtain Annual Testing

Many water well owners are not aware that the Environmental Protection Agency recommends annual testing of private wells for what are called ‘indicator organisms’ as well as nitrate. The presence of the indicator organisms often predicts the presence of other dangerous organisms such as Giardia or E coli. The EPA also recommends additional testing be conducted every 5-10 years. The price of individual tests differs from state to state.

If you own a private well, you want to do everything you can to ensure that your family has access to safe drinking water that is free from contaminants. Remember: pay attention to warning signs of possible contamination, educate yourself on testing and maintenance that should be conducted to ensure that your well is free from dangerous contaminants, and obtain recommended testing of your well water from a reliable local source.

 

LizzieWeakley

If you're constantly surrounded by clutter in your life, you're bound to be stressed and anxious. Believe it or not, but the best way to get a personal jump start in your life is to clean up and declutter. Getting rid of the old to make way for the new, revamping a space in your room, and picking a new healthy habit to adopt can help you cleanse your life so that you're happier and healthier. Amazingly enough, your mission to improve you can help the environment in the process. Here are 3 ways to clean up your life all while helping reduce your carbon footprint:

Reduce Your Reliance on Cars

Do you jump in the car to go around the block to pick up milk? One way to cleanse your life is to start adopting healthier habits. Instead of getting in a car and contributing to greenhouse emissions problems, you can start cycling or walking more. You don't have to be reliant on a car every time you need to leave your home. By getting physical, you can improve your physical and emotional well-being and exude energy all while you minimize your environmental impact.

Donate Your Car to Help Others and the Environment

If you don't need your car any longer, donating your car, to businesses like Action Donation Services, could make a huge impact. As a donor, you can help a family in need or help the environment in the process. By giving a foundation with a cause your old car, you can get environmentally unfriendly cars off the road and turn the old steel body into steel that's used in the production of new cars, buildings, elevators, airport hangars, and more. Who knew that car donation made such an impact?

Grow Your Own Green Thumb

Did you know that American food travels an average of 1500 to 2500 miles from farm to table? Transporting meats and other farm goods to local grocery stores aren't cheap. It required packaging and fuel that can all damage the environment. If you want to help cleanse your body and reduce your carbon footprint, grow a green thumb.

By growing your own produce, you can benefit from a body cleanse. You don't have to worry about what pesticides are used at local produce farms and you can reduce worldwide pollution. Not only can you grow delicious greens, you can even sit outside and enjoy your backyard garden when you need to de-stress.

Cleansing your life now can certainly help lead to a cleaner environment in the future. If just a fraction of Americans adopt the same small habits that you're adopting, it can make a major difference. Make these changes for a positive impact on your well-being and a positive impact on the globe.

3 Unexpected Ways You Can Cleanse Your Life And Help The Environment.jpeg

LizzieWeakley

3 Reasons to Convert Your Office to Propane Heating This Fall and Winter.JPG

 

Propane heating is a smart move for heating your office this fall/winter. It is innovative, and it has a variety of benefits. It is a more "green" choice, it saves money and it is a safe and reliable option compared to electricity. Detailed below are three reasons why you may want to convert to propane heating.

Clean Energy

Propane is on the approved clean fuel list according to the 1990 Clean Air Act. Propane is actually one of the cleanest fossil fuels to burn. Using propane to heat your office space conserves energy while being friendly to the environment. Efforts are continuing to use less gasoline, and propane is the top competitor that the world is turning to. It is readily available and 90% of the propane used in the U.S. is actually produced in the U.S. as well.

Saving Money

Everything in your office that currently runs on electricity can be powered by propane while also being cost effective. Because propane is more effective than electricity, it saves your business money. Heating your business with propane could also mean more affordable maintenance. A propane heater lasts longer and in most cases, is cheaper to repair than an electric furnace. Propane heaters are also very small and do not take up a large amount of space in your office. When using propane in the colder winter months, a Powerblanket can be a great resource to optimize the temperature of the tank to keep it running efficiently.

Safe and Reliable

Despite rumors, using propane to heat your office space, or any space, is very safe! In the event of a leak, propane vaporizes in the air rather than causing a potentially harmful and serious problem for your office space/employees. Using propane is also reliable. You are not at the mercy of the electrical companies. If there happened to be a power outage during the winter months, your office space and employees would continue to be comfortable and able to work, rather than waiting for the power to come back on.

Propane is the smart choice that many businesses and homes are choosing as a heat and power source this winter. It is clean, cost effective and safe. It is readily available and propane heaters come in a variety of different sizes to accommodate very large or small office spaces. As winter approaches, be sure to look at the benefits that heating with propane could offer your business.

LizzieWeakley
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Between your appliances, lighting, heating and cooling system and various other features, you may use energy throughout your home on a regular basis around the clock. While many will use the energy provided through a public municipality for all of their home energy needs, others are interested in alternative energy sources for some or all of their energy needs. One of the increasingly popular sources of alternative energy that many homeowners are taking advantage is solar power. There are three unique benefits that you can enjoy when you make the decision to install solar panels on your home.

Reducing Your Energy Costs

One of the primary reasons why homeowners install solar panels from companies like AMI Energy / 1800 Solar USA is to reduce energy costs. The solar power produced by your own home's panels can offset your reliance on municipally-supplied energy. While you do have a cost associated with the installation of the solar panels, these panels will continue to provide you with a source of free energy. Eventually, they will more than pay for themselves through the savings they provide to you.

Using a Sustainable Energy Source

In addition, solar panels provide you with a sustainable source of energy. The sun's energy will simply never run out, and there are no emissions generated through the use of solar energy. This is a green source of energy that you can feel good about, and the solar panels can make your home far more energy efficient. You can use this energy source to generate light, run your appliances, heat and cool your home and more.

Improving Your Home Value

Installing solar panels on your home is also a great way to improve your home value. These will be a semi-permanent feature that is added to your home, and they will convey to a buyer when you sell your home. Just as you find value in their ability to reduce your energy costs and to give you a sustainable source of energy, others will also find value in these benefits. While you can benefit financially from energy savings, you can also benefit further when you sell your home and recoup added value for this improvement.

Installing solar panels on your home is an idea that you may be thinking strongly about. Keep in mind that some will qualify for tax incentives and rebates on the installation cost. Once installed, you can continue to enjoy these considerable benefits associated with solar panels for years to come.

LizzieWeakley

Maintaining an energy efficient environment is one of the most discussed issues in the international forums. Although it may appear to be a complex issue, it is actually simpler than you would think. The following are a few energy efficient heating tips for your office.

3 Energy-Efficient Heating Strategies for Your Office.JPG

A Heating Maintenance Program

Make sure that you have a maintenance program for air conditioning and venting systems. Ensure that you:

 

  • Clean air filters every month.
  • Clean refrigerant coils, water, evaporators, condensers and heat exchanger surfaces.
  • Replace defective ducting, piping and equipment insulation.
  • When you are replacing air conditioning equipment, buy units that have an energy efficiency ratio of 10.5 or greater.
  • When old motors are not functioning, replace them using motors that work at a low annual cost.
  • Use variable speed drives for large motor loads to reduce the consumption of energy.
  • Use water side-economizers and outside air for free cooling during the times when the air outside and conditions are favorable.
  • Use fans for ensuring a comfortable temperature, air movement and humidity. Moving air makes higher temperature or humidity seem comfortable. You can delay the need to have air conditioning by using fans. Furthermore, a temperature of 3-5 degrees can be comfortable when using fans.
  • Seal leaks using caulking and weather stripping. This strategy helps you manage ventilation.

Choose Renewable Power

 

  • Invest in companies that offer energy from solar power and wind sources. Renewable sources of energy have a small impact than fuels like liquid gas or coal.
  • You can also use a boiler from a company like Nationwide Boiler for your energy needs.

Install Solar Window Screens

 

  • The use of solar panels is a great way of reducing heating bills. Solar panels can block the UV rays that reduce the heat transmitted via windows. If you do not have money to buy new windows, solar films and screens offer a temporary fix.

 

Appoint a Green Task Force

Hire professionals to monitor and audit your office's consumption of energy. Device a plan that has goals and targets that ensure you focus on your long and short term environmental plans.

There are several ways you can apply energy efficient strategies in your office. Being conservative with energy not only helps you keep your expenses down but also enables you reduce your carbon foot print. You can achieve an energy efficient office environment by using a heating maintenance program, using renewable power, installing window panels and employing a green task force.

LizzieWeakley

3 Energy-Efficient Benefits to Having a Tankless Water Heater in your Home.JPG

 

If you're in need of a new water heater for your residence, you may want to consider taking the tankless path. Tankless water heaters are becoming more and more common in homes these days due to their numerous energy-efficient advantages. These types of water heaters can be terrific for households that are serious about using less money.

Tankless Water Heaters Last Long

Tankless water heaters generally have longer lives than their standard water heater counterparts. They also don't cost anywhere near as much money to run. The majority of tankless water heaters out there can stay in good condition for more than two decades. If you want to enjoy reduced energy and running costs for 20 plus years, a tankless water heater in your home can indeed be a wise and energy-efficient option to consider. If you want to get a tankless water heater, a company like
Knights Plumbing & Drain can help you with the installation process.

The Frustration of Standby Heat Loss

Storage water heaters are often linked to drops in standby heat. The H20 in storage water heaters is being heated nonstop. That can lead to wastes of energy at all times, which is referred to as standby heat loss. If you want to avoid the stress of wastes of energy, getting a tankless water heater can be highly beneficial for you. Tankless water heaters are the sole water heaters that don't trigger standby water losses. If you want reduced monthly utility bills and a mind that's totally free of worries about standby water losses, then a tankless water heater can indeed be a good thing for your property.

Power Needs

Tankless water heaters are convenient because they solely require sufficient power to heat the exact amount of H20 you need for the specified time. If you don't like the idea of being wasteful and heating water that you simply don't need for the time-being, a tankless water heater can be a source of immense peace of mind for you. These kinds of water heaters, simply put, only heat what they immediately need. There's no simpler way to put it.

There are truly many exciting
energy-efficient perks that are part of owning a tankless water heater. There are also, however, a number of advantages that don't involve energy efficiency. These go beyond money savings, too. Tankless water heaters can be great for compact residences such as apartments. They don't require anywhere near as much space as other types of water heaters. They also are great because they can always provide you with nice hot water, no matter what.

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