• entries
    44
  • comments
    4
  • views
    3,055

About this blog

All things green, eco-friendly, and seriously sustainable

Entries in this blog

Dixie Somers

industrial-light-switch.jpg

If you're concerned about the environment, you know that everyone who conserves power is cutting down on all overall demand. That reduces pressure on local ecosystems or adding to pollution and global warming. Options like solar power may be outside your budget, but there are simple ways to conserve electricity. Here are some things you can do.

Reduce Phantom Load

This is power that some devices use even when they're turned off. Digital displays, status lights, and similar indicators are still drawing power 24 hours a day. While this seems minor, you may have multiple devices around the home, such as TVs, computer equipment, kitchen gadgets, and more. That can add up to significant energy use. Plug items that aren't constantly needed into outlet strips that you can turn on or off when not in use.

Energy-Efficient Appliances

When it's time to replace major appliances, look for more energy-efficient models. Most will have ENERGY STAR labels that indicate how much power use is involved and how much you can expect to pay for it. In the meantime, you can maximize efficiency by not using appliances needlessly. Hang up the laundry outside on a sunny day instead of turning on the dryer, and avoid running partial loads in the dishwasher or washing machine.

Modern Lighting

The old incandescent bulbs are extreme energy-wasters. Most of that produces heat, not light, so they're also a safety risk. Modern LED lights use 75 percent less energy and last up to 25 times longer. Instead of swapping bulbs, you can also find a variety of LED fixtures that can be connected straight to your home wiring to provide efficient, safe light where you need it for years to come.

Use Fans

Over-using AC is a primary power drain as the summer comes on. Establish a temperature toward the higher end of the comfort zone for your family. Dress appropriately for the heat even indoors, and use fans throughout the house to keep the air moving and cool you naturally through evaporation of sweat. Keep plenty of cold water on hand, and turn down the AC as soon as it's dark.

Check Your Wiring

Old wiring or improper DIY additions or improvements can lead to electrical "leaks" that are costing you money. Turn off everything in the house, including breakers for things like hot water heaters that don't have switches. If your electrical meter continues to climb, you have a wiring problem. Significant use could mean several problems. Call in an experienced electrician from a company like Beckstoffer-Welsh Inc to diagnose and correct the issue.

Power conservation requires some planning and a little self-sacrifice. But if you can reduce your bills and preserve the environment, it's worth it.

Dixie Somers

Cardboard_Boxes_and_their_History.jpg

The shipping industry is a huge industry - many of our products arrive by ship or truck. The presence of these vehicles is showing up as the oil and grime that pollutes the environment. Trucks and ships will continue to pollute the air and waterways if companies do not act carefully. Learn about ways to increase the environmentally friendly impact of your shipping company.

Make Fewer Trips

Cut down on carbon emissions by making fewer trips. Consider getting a larger truck from a company like Arrow Truck Sales to carry more items in one haul. Instead of having your truck driver ship to one business, have him stop by several other businesses along the way. Have fewer trucks on the road to reduce the need for gas and remove air pollution.

Encourage Work from Home

Working from home is more energy efficient than sharing rides to work. Some workers do not need to drive in cars that use up gas and emit pollution. At shipping companies, there are logistics and office administration departments that work mostly through phones and computers.

Consider hiring virtual employees who work solely online and meet the same qualifications as traditional employees. As a result, save the energy and money of having to run an office building.

Incorporate Alternative Fuel Vehicles

The United Parcel Service has introduced thousands of alternative fuel vehicles into their fleet. These vehicles run on batteries, biodiesel, ethanol or solar power. Drivers save hundreds up to thousands of dollars on gas every year. Making deliveries with electric or hybrid vehicles means focusing less about gas and oil. Allow your drivers to go on many trips without worrying about pollution.

An additional benefit to owning an alternative fuel vehicle is the tax reduction. Vehicle owners in some states receive one or more tax credits. Some owners are also given free parking or HOV exemptions.

Recycle Equipment

Like countless other companies, UPS gives paperless options to their customers and recycles unwanted equipment. Place recycling bins around the office and next to printers. Give your employees the opportunity to recycle almost anything - electronics, metals, auto parts and plastics.

From automobiles to building materials, the use of vehicles is necessary to ship products all over the world. With growing concerns over climate change, more companies are seeing the benefits of being more eco-friendly. For your own company, save money on energy bills while knowing that you are working to conserve the environment.

Dixie Somers

Plumbing-Anthony-Plumbing-Heating-Coolin

Environmentalism has moved well beyond being just a hot-button talking point during election cycles. Green initiatives and eco-friendly solutions are expected from seemingly unrelated industries and service providers across the board. While it may initially surprise you, plumbing companies are among those devising eco-friendly methods and solutions, a vital fact given that water is one of our most precious resources.

Solar Powered Water Heating

With temperature control accounting for nearly 50 percent of the average household's energy bill, finding natural ways to accomplish this is a win for both homeowners and the environment. Now that solar panels are significantly more affordable, thanks in part to both government initiatives and sheer advancement of the technology, even plumbing companies have developed novel ways to utilize solar energy.

Water heaters powered with solar energy are not only more energy efficient than their electric counterparts, but thanks to battery back-up systems, homeowners no longer have to worry about the occasional stretch of cloudy weather. Solar heaters that use direct circulation are best for homes in warm climates, while indirect circulation systems are perfectly adapted for use in cold climates, meaning regardless of where you live, solar powered water heating is a viable green option.

Graywater Recycling

Each year, single households waste thousands of gallons worth of water simply because it's no longer fit to drink. Between showering, laundry, dishwashing, and other activities, the amount of water we use beyond our doctor-recommended eight glasses a day is astounding. In fact, the average person creates about 40 gallons of graywater each day.

However, water that's passed through the washing machine or shower still has plenty of other uses. Once installed, graywater systems collect, filter, and store this water, saving it for toilet flushing, landscaping, and plenty of other applications around your property. Additionally, you can further stretch your graywater’s potential uses by choosing an eco-friendly laundry detergent.

Eco-Friendly Toilets

It may seem silly, but one of the simplest and most effective ways plumbers make homes more efficient is through the installation of eco-friendly toilets. Depending upon the age of your toilet, it can use anywhere from three to seven gallons just for a single flush. Even at a conservative single flush a day, this adds up to more than 3,000 gallons of water a year.

Eco-friendly toilets work just as well, but use anywhere from 20 to 60 percent less water per flush. Not only is this great for the environment, but it also can dramatically lower your water bill. When combined with a grey water system, this can add up to astounding savings throughout the course of a year.

Water Pipes

Common wisdom holds that, while more expensive, copper pipes are still the best bet for durability and heat retention. However, copper has been edged out by both steel and PEX (polyethylene) pipes, which offer the same benefits at a lower price point. Because these materials are excellent at storing heat, they're often used by plumbing companies that provide homeowners with green solutions. Contact a plumbing company like L.J. Kruse Company if you have questions about your specific pipes.

If you absolutely must have copper piping, there's an environmentally friendly fix for them, as well as for cheaper plastic pipes. Adding a layer of insulation will not only offer a little protection, but can also improve heat retention by as much as 80 percent.

Faucets and Shower Heads

While a comparatively small bit of hardware compared to toilets and water heaters, even shower heads and faucets can waste startling amounts of water. For example, older shower heads can release as much as two and half gallons in 60 seconds, while older sink faucets tend to drip no matter how hard you try to tighten them.

High efficiency shower heads and faucets provide more than enough water pressure for bathing, washing dishes, and brushing teeth without the unnecessary waste of older units. Like eco-friendly toilets, these also pair well with grey water systems. Furthermore, a high efficiency shower head combined with a solar powered water heater will let you take long, hot showers free of guilt.

Do Your Part

We all need to do our part to adopt more sustainable and earth-friendly ways of living. Environmentalism begins at home, and there's no better place to start than with your home's plumbing system. Eco-friendly plumbing will not only reduce your carbon footprint and maximize the usefulness of each gallon, as a suite of green plumbing system can also net you hundreds in savings on your annual utility bill.

Dixie Somers

gas_flames_stove_burner_fire_blue_light_

When you think of green energy your mind probably jumps to solar, wind or emerging hydrogen power, but you may not have considered that propane and its cousin natural gas, are also among of the greenest energy sources available to homeowners.

Clean Burning

While propane is essentially a fossil fuel, derived from natural gas or petroleum, it burns much cleaner than other fossil fuels. It emits roughly half the greenhouse gases compared to coal or oil and it doesn’t emit as many harmful compounds or toxins, such as sulfur dioxide and CO2. This reduces the prevalence of smog and the occurrence of environmental problems such as acid rain, which is caused by high concentrations of pollutants from gas and coal.

May Be Cleaner and Cheaper Than Electricity

There is some research to support the argument that natural gas is actually cheaper and more efficient alternative to electricity for some applications. This is one reason that many homes have mostly gas-powered appliances if possible. Having more homes with gas powered appliances reduces electric bills and helps to ease the strain on the power grid.

While many people consider electricity to be clean, that really depends on how the electricity is generated. Electricity produced by a coal power plant, for example, is going to be exceptionally dirty and inefficient. Electricity produced from solar, wind or hydroelectric is going to be cleaner than any other source of power, including natural gas or propane. That said, power from truly clean sources accounts for a very small percentage of the electricity generated in the United States.

Even in pioneering states like California, renewable energy sources account for only about 25 percent of total energy generation. In most areas of the country, that number is far lower. Taking United States energy production as a whole, 30 percent of electricity is generated by dirty coal, 20 percent generated by nuclear and only 15 percent generated by renewables. Interestingly enough, natural gas accounts for the largest share of electricity production in the US, at 34 percent.

Using natural gas directly can help shift the focus away from dirty sources like coal and questionable sources like nuclear. It is worthwhile for you to consider where your power comes from to decide if using natural gas or propane in your home will be a greener choice.

Off the Grid

One tremendous advantage of propane is that it can be used off the grid. In areas where electricity is difficult, expensive or just plain impossible to supply, propane can serve as an excellent substitute. Propane tank installation in Mason is relatively simple and gives you a reliable supply of propane for your use without reliance on the municipal grid or supply. Even if you don’t use propane consistently, it is an excellent emergency power source for cooking, water heating or even to power a home-based generator.

Propane is Efficient

Efficiency is a key element of the environmental friendliness of any fuel. In this case, using propane directly is very efficient compared to most other types of power. For example, a coal power plant converts only about 38 percent of the energy found in coal to electricity. This means that not only is coal exceptionally dirty to begin with, it is also extremely inefficient. When propane is used directly, basically 100 percent of the energy goes toward the intended use because there is no conversion of energy.

Natural Gas May Become Renewable

While natural gas used currently in the United States is not renewable and is derived from fossil fuel, there is the possibility that natural gas and propane could be harvested from renewable sources in the near future. Likely candidates are landfills and water treatment plants. Decomposing organic matter releases tremendous amounts of natural gas, which is released into the atmosphere. If this natural gas could successfully contained and harvested, it would present an excellent source of renewable fuel. The natural gas could then be used directly or refined into other fuels like propane and hydrogen.

Demand will primarily affect how much attention this technology receives. As more homeowners switch to propane or natural gas, the demand will increase and entice more companies to invest in the technology and infrastructure to harvest it from renewable sources. As a homeowner, you have an important part to play in the green energy future and the infrastructure that will support it.

Dixie Somers

The_All-New_Range_Rover_Sport_-_Loire_Bl

Your car is probably the item you own that makes up your largest source of personal pollution. While it’s difficult to go without a car, it is easy to make your car more environmentally friendly. You can do just a few simple things to reduce your carbon footprint and contribute to a better environment.

Open Your Windows

One of the easiest ways to make your car more eco-friendly is to reduce your air conditioning use. The air conditioner puts a significant load on your engine and reduces your gas mileage by up to 25% on short trips in very hot weather. On hot days, open your windows when you first start driving to flush out the hot air. On short trips around town when the weather isn’t too hot, ride with the windows down so you breathe in the nice fresh air while reducing your environmental impact. There are times when you don’t want to open your windows while driving and this is at highway speeds. The drag created by open windows actually is greater than the load placed on the engine with the air conditioner.

Don’t Load Your Car Up

Extra weight in your car will reduce your gas mileage and increase its carbon footprint. If you are carrying around weight in your car needlessly, you aren't doing anyone any good. You should look inside your car and see if you have anything in it that you don’t need. Remember things add up so even if a single thing doesn't weigh a lot, several of them can add up. This includes driving around with cargo box on your roof. Not only do you have extra weight but give you extra aerodynamic drag on your vehicle. Reducing your weight in your car can get you an extra 1% for every 100 lbs. of weight.

Drive More Conservatively

Are you the first one off the line when the green light shines? Do you look at the speed limit as just a suggestion? Do you love using your brakes? Any one of these habits can be costing you at the fuel pump. In fact, they could be costing you 20% to 60% more in fuel costs. If you are driving a late model sedan at speeds of 75 mph, you will use almost 50% more fuel than if you were driving 50 mph. Yes, it takes more time to get where you are going, but you are saving money and helping the environment in that extra time spent driving. The US Department of Energy maintains a speed limit fuel economy calculator that can tell you exactly how much you will save based on the year, make, and model of your vehicle.

Keep Your Check Engine Light Off

Computers are responsible for monitoring your sensors and ensuring that your car is running at optimal fuel economy. When one of the systems is not performing its best, the computer will turn on your check engine light. It’s easy to ignore the light if your car is otherwise running well, but it could be putting out significantly more pollution and damaging the environment. This is why it’s so important to keep your check engine light off. Many auto parts stores will do a free scanning of your system and let you know which parts or sensors need to be replaced. Sometimes, your fix can be as simple as tightening your gas cap.

Don’t Overfill Your Car

Topping off your tank seems like an innocent thing to do. Unfortunately, it is one of the worst things you can do at the gas station. Not only do you risk spilling fuel that will eventually get washed into your local rivers and streams, but you also risk damaging your fuel system. Every modern car has a charcoal canister to capture vapor so they can be burnt in the engine. When you overfill your tank, the excess fuel can saturate this charcoal canister. At best it loses efficiency and vents harmful gases to the atmosphere, but at worse, it can fail leaving you with a repair bill that can run into the hundreds of dollar.

It’s easy to implement these tips and not only save money but also help the environment. It’s clear that if you use these 5 ways, your car use will be more environmentally friendly.

Dixie Somers

160418-F-BF612-012.jpg

Computers don't only depreciate in value, they become obsolete rather quickly. That's great for manufacturers in the computer industry but not so great for consumers and businesses who rely on having access to up-to-date and reliable technology. On average, a component in your PC is outdated every three years. From the video card to the processor, something is bound to be considered obsolete within a few years.

While you can future-proof your devices by having your IT department upgrade your operating systems, processors, and RAM, you will eventually have to get rid of the old to make room for new computer systems. When you're making space for your new computer systems and peripheral devices, make sure that you're recycling the outdated technology. Here are 5 reasons that you should recycle:

1. Make Money Back with Buy Back

Some computer companies understand how frustrating it is to have to pay more money just to buy another PC. HP Planet Partners Return and Recycling has a unique buyback program in place where you can sell your old systems back to the company for money or you can trade up to a new system. You're not going to get a fortune, but it is a financial incentive.

2. Help Protect the Environment

Landfill sites are full of materials that can be reused. These sites are also full of toxic waste that could hurt the environment. By recycling your outdated technologies you can help manufacturers used recycled materials instead of using resources that could be used for other things. You can also ensure toxic materials are separated and disposed of properly.

3. Get a Recycling Tax Credit

One of the advantages of being a business owner is that you can get a tax break for recycling. Incentives can really lower your tax liability. The depreciation of recycling your machinery can be taking into account as an extra allowance. You may also get state income tax credits for up to 10 percent of the purchase price of the machinery.

4. Set a Social Example

Your brand is very important when you're marketing a product or service. If you're all about being socially responsible and highlighting the fact that your company is dedicated to green practices, recycling your old hardware could help you set an example for your customers. Your customers will respect the efforts that you're making and they'll be more likely to recycle their old computers too.

5. Protect Your Sensitive Information

When computers and other technologies are recycled they are de-manufactured. That means that the materials are separated into groups by Ottawa IT service companies specializing in recycling. Then, the engineers will safely dispose of the waste. During this process, your sensitive data is destroyed so you don't have to worry about letting it sit there vulnerable.

Your office trash could be the environment's treasure. Consider all of the advantages of recycling your e-waste and you won't leave your full machines sitting in storage. Instead of taking up space for antiquated systems, call a recycling company and dispose of your obsolete items quickly.

Dixie Somers

Solar_panels-1024x768.jpg

While great strides have been made to further geothermal, wind, and other forms of clean energy, these methods lack the ease and simplicity of harnessing solar energy. This is clearly demonstrated by the growing popularity of solar panel roofing with homeowners.

Tax Credits and Assistance

Federal and state authorities offer a tax incentives to homeowners who adopt solar panels. The federal government offers an investment tax credit of up to 30 percent, which helps defer the cost of having panels installed. Some states offer additional credits and incentives. For example, in 2016, Washington D.C. established new laws which not only reward early adopters, but also set aside funds to assist lower income families with the cost of installation.

Quick Return on Investment

Solar panels have never been cheaper to install, and you can begin earning back the cost of installation almost immediately thanks to net metering and solar renewable energy credits (SRECs). You can sell your earned SRECs right to the utility provider, as they pay homeowners who produce clean energy. This essentially translates into extra income, which is further supported by net metering, a separate system of credits that subtract cost directly from your power bill.

Increased Property Value

Studies have firmly established that owning solar panel roofing is a net gain for homeowners. The Federal Housing Administration has established new guidelines which require solar energy systems to be included when appraising the value of a property, so having solar panel system can significantly raise your home's appraisal value. Solar paneling is a sound property investment that can dramatically raise the resale value of your home. While not all properties are suitable candidates for installation, a roofing company like Acoma Roofing, Inc. can quickly determine if your home has the necessary structural design to support paneling.

Reduced Energy Bills

Homes with solar panel roofing have shown energy bill reductions as much as 30 percent, and even higher for homes that integrate larger systems. The average lifespan of a solar energy system is 25 to 30 years, so when factored over that period of time, this amounts to massive savings on electricity. The last decade saw a 5 percent increase in electricity costs, while solar systems went down about 70 percent over the same ten year period. The upward trend in electricity cost will continue, but investing in a solar system now will insulate you from the inflating prices.

Clean and Renewable

All financial considerations aside, solar paneling is a simple and accessible way to lower your carbon footprint and improve the environment. Furthermore, since the panels can be installed on your roof, no clearing land for installation is necessary, further supporting their value to the environment. Unlike traditional fuels, solar panels release zero harmful emissions. Beyond basic maintenance, solar panels are long lasting, making them a long-term, renewable energy solution.

The Future

Between rebates, credit programs, and other financial incentives, solar panel roofing is a safe and affordable way to both add value to your home and lower your energy costs. More importantly, they are a simple way to invest in the health of the environment, thereby making our collective future a little brighter.

Dixie Somers

Julia_Child%27s_kitchen_by_Matthew_Bisan

It is becoming increasingly important in this fast-paced, industrial society to acknowledge the environmental impact of each individual and do your part in maintaining eco-friendly habits. There are many areas where you can make changes to yourself and your home to help protect the earth. One way to make your home more environmentally-conscious is to make use of several different household appliances that are on the market today.

Vacuum Sealer

Investing in a vacuum sealer cuts down on food waste by keeping your food fresh for longer. Vacuum sealed bags are the optimal way to store food in your fridge while saving space, and using them can make your food stay fresh until you are ready to eat it. Vacuum sealing removes all the air that could cause bacteria and rot, making your food's shelf life a lot longer than it would be with normal food storage bags.

Low-Flow Faucets

One of the most effective ways to conserve water in your home is to install low-flow faucets and showerheads. Showering takes up a large portion of an individual's water consumption. By purchasing and installing water controlling fixtures, you can limit your daily water use. Low-flow fixtures are inexpensive and can save you up to 50 percent on your water bill, benefiting both you and the environment.

Recycled Sinks

A new sink may not be the first thing to come to mind when you are in the market for eco-friendly choices, but there are more options than just the standard kitchen or bathroom sink. Consider purchasing a 100 percent recycled or salvaged sink. Beautiful design and eco-friendly manufacturing come together in many unique metals like copper, bronze and stainless steel. Manufacturing recycled metals is a much more cost-efficient and environmentally-friendly process than producing virgin steel.

Air Fryer

Air fryers allow you to perform all your cooking needs without the use of grease or flame. They work by circulating hot air around food. An air fryer conserves energy by generating a lot of heat in a small, contained space. You can fry, bake and roast with simplicity, all while saving on your energy consumption and reducing your carbon footprint.

LED Lights

Another way to save energy is to get LED lights from a company like Always Earth Friendly. LEDs are a type of light fixture that is much friendlier to the environment than common compact fluorescent or incandescent light bulbs. LED lighting can save a significant portion of your energy use each year. It lasts over three times longer than CFL bulbs and saves more electricity when in use. Each light bulb is made of eco-friendly, durable and high-quality materials and just one light can last for almost 23 years.

Doing your part to help the environment is rewarding. Using these appliances and fixtures around the house can provide a long-term method to conserve the resources around you

Dixie Somers

Organic-vegetable-cultivation.jpeg

Organic farming is more common than ever before and is changing agriculture practices around the world. Organic farming is the fastest growing type of agriculture in North America. Canadian farmers are conducting research into the benefits of organic agriculture and strategies to make farms in Canada more profitable and environmentally-friendly.

Damage from Pesticides and Chemicals

Organic foods are proven to be healthier than foods that are grown commercially using pesticides and chemicals. Pests that are damaging to crops and diseases that attack plants thrive in a climate where one crop is grown consistently, which means chemicals and pesticides must be used to contain disease and kill pests. Using chemicals results in the minerals and nutrients in the soil is depleted faster. When the soil is no longer useful, more forests must be cut down to obtain more land for farming, and the cycle never ends.

Research has proven that intensive farming has considerable, damaging effects on people, animals, soil, and water. Intensive farming relies on the use of massive amounts of pesticides and chemicals. This system of farming extends to how livestock is raised and treated through factory farming, the effect on ecosystems and natural habitats, and depletion of the soil. More than 40 percent of the land on this planet is for the production of food. With the increase in population worldwide, more sustainable methods of farming must be adopted.

Benefits of Organic Farming

One of the biggest advantages of organic farming is conserving resources that are non-renewable and producing foods that are healthier. Organic farming doesn't rely on chemicals, pesticides, and fertilizers. In fact, many conventional farmers and some organic farmers use fertilizers like those from Nature Safe, which are in harmony with the Federal National Organic Program. Natural composting is another method of naturally fertilizing the soil. Cultivating the land excessively prevents rainwater from being absorbed into the soil. When chemicals are used, the runoff from the topsoil goes into streams and rivers, further polluting them.

Organic agriculture has a positive effect on the environment over the long-term with crop rotation, a minimum of tillage, and organic fertilizers. Another advantage of organic farming is that the need for non-renewable energy sources is reduced. Although the effect of GMOs on health and the environment isn't conclusive, Genetically Modified Organisms aren't allowed in the production of organic foods, making them healthier. One of the biggest incentives for small farmers is that organic farming requires a lower, initial investment than traditional farming, especially since no chemicals are involved.

One of the most effective ways to conserve our natural resources, combat climate change, and eat healthier food is through more organic farming methods.

Dixie Somers

Lemon-edit1.jpg

Whether you're concerned about the chemicals in cleaning products or you simply want to save money, natural cleaning solutions are a healthy, cost-effective way to ensure that your home sparkles. With a little research and a few common ingredients, you can make DIY cleaners for every crevice. Here are five recipes to get you started.

1. Lemons

Yes, just lemons. Citrus fruit can clean everything from your garbage disposal to your countertops (provided they aren't marble or stainless steel). You can also mix lemon juice with sea salt for a natural scouring solution or with one or two tablespoons of cream of tartar to make a paste for cleaning grout.

2. Natural Tile Cleaner

Avoid the chemicals in commercial tile cleaning products with this easy DIY solution. Start with a half cup of baking soda, then add your favorite natural liquid soap slowly until you achieve a frosting-like consistency. Top it off with five to ten drops of your favorite essential oil. Make the paste with water instead of soap and leave out the fragrance for a green oven cleaner.

3. Citrus-Infused Vinegar

Grab the lemon peels from the fruit you juiced for the first tip to make this versatile solution. Just fill a jar with lemon, orange, and lime peels, then fill to the top with white vinegar. Let it sit for anywhere from three to 14 days before straining out the vinegar. The resulting solution can be used to clean windows and glass, disinfect germy surfaces, and mop floors, though you might want to contact a company like A-Plus Window Cleaning if the windows are extremely dirty. On its own, vinegar can be used to clean your coffee maker, dishwasher, drains, and showerheads.

4. Natural Laundry Soap

For this easy, money-saving recipe, mix one part soap flakes or grated bar soap with two parts each of Borax and washing soda. Store the mixture in a glass jar or other closed container, and use between two tablespoons and a quarter cup for each load of laundry.

5. Heavy-Duty Toilet Scrub

Instantly clean and disinfect your toilet by mixing a half cup of baking soda, 10 drops of tea tree, and a quarter-cup of white vinegar. The fizzy mixture easily washes away accumulated grime while you scrub with a brush. When you're done, mix baking soda with essential oil in a clean jar with a lid for an instant air freshener.

Once you've tried these quick-and-easy, all-natural cleaning fixes, you'll never want to go back to the harsh smells, damaging chemicals, and prohibitive cost of commercial cleaning products.

Dixie Somers

HVAC_Ventilation_Exhaust.jpg

Many homeowners dread opening up their energy bills during the warmest and coolest months of the year. Throughout the country, HVAC systems account for about 48 percent of all residential energy consumption. If you would like to reduce your energy bills, then here is a closer look at some ways you can make your HVAC system as eco-friendly as possible.

Upgrade to a Programmable Thermostat

Very few people realize just how much of an impact that a thermostat has on an HVAC system. Not only are many older thermostats inaccurate, but there is no way to turn the system off once you are out of the home. A programmable thermostat will allow you to turn the system on just before you get home instead of letting it run all day.

Clean the Outdoor Coils

Most HVAC systems have an outdoor condenser unit that draws in air. Along the outside of these units are coils that cool the air down before it is blown into the ducts. Cleaning the coils once every few weeks is another simple way to improve the efficiency of the system without spending any money. Homeowners should also trim foliage back at least a few feet so that debris doesn’t get caught in the coils or fans.

Regularly Change Your Filters

HVAC filters remove dust, dander, and other outdoor toxins from the air before your family breathes them in. Depending on where you live and how often you use the HVAC system, you might need to change the filters as often as once every few weeks. Clogged air filters create an immense amount of pressure in the ducts, and your system must work much harder to keep pushing air through the vents. Even high-quality filters need to be changed once every 80 or 90 days. If you need help with this step, contact a company like Doctor Fix-It.

Add More Insulation

Quite a bit of energy will be wasted trying to keep your home at a comfortable temperature if it isn’t properly insulated. The insulation in your crawlspaces and attic should be inspected at least a few times a year to make sure that it isn’t flattened or torn. You also need to check the caulking around your doors and windows for any signs of damage. Adding a little bit of extra insulation and caulking could end up saving your hundreds every year.

Don’t Block the Vents

Many families make the mistake of closing vents or blocking them with furniture, and that can be very bad for an HVAC system. Much like a clogged filter, a closed vent will create more pressure within the ducts and force the system to work much harder. Even if a room is unoccupied, the vents should still be kept completely open. Anything that increases pressure in your ducts is bad for your heater and air conditioner.

No matter how well you care for your HVAC system, there will come a point when it needs to be replaced entirely. On average, modern heaters and furnaces should be replaced once every 12 or 15 years. Homeowners who wait too long to replace their HVAC systems are almost always going to be stuck dealing with huge bills and expensive repairs down the road.

Dixie Somers

US_Navy_030124-N-1328C-510_Navy_dentist_

Under both public and government pressure, more industries are adopting eco-friendly practices. Business owners are also looking for ways to incorporate green practices into their operations out of their own environmental concern. One of the industries that's increasingly focused on going green is dentistry. Here are just a few of the ways that dentists have become more eco-friendly.

1. Office environment

More dentists are opting to use green materials in both the exterior and interior of their facilities. Fabrics, panels, finishes, and many other products are now available that are made from non-toxic, biodegradable, and sustainable recycled materials. The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design has established benchmarks for green construction. Designs are based on a point rating system and earn LEED certifications you can display.

2. Office practices

In your practice you should also be following the paperless trend in business processes by shifting from hard copies and paper forms to digital records and web-based information, including automated systems for patient appointments and reminders. Dentists are also trying to measure, track, and improve such concerns as solid waste, water conservation, and reduced energy consumption. Low-flow toilets and fixtures, smart HVAC systems, and LED lighting will save on resources and monthly bills.

3. Patient practices

Use of green cleaning and sterilization products is creating a safer, healthier environment for your patients. Digital radiography is reducing the need for chemical-based films and development, as well as lowering radiation risks to patients. Some items such as tubes or IV bags were once made with PVC, or polyvinyl chloride. PVC has been linked with cancer, birth defects, and diabetes, among other ailments. You can now replace these products with safer, eco-friendly materials such as biodegradable plastics. It might be worth it to check around at other clinics like Silverado Family Dental to see what their practices are when it comes to the environment.

4. Dental amalgams

Dentists have traditionally used amalgam for common tooth fillings, without the general public recognizing that the principle ingredient of amalgam is mercury, now universally recognized as a toxic metal. It can cause severe nervous disorders leading to loss of motor and cognitive abilities. One of the major sources of mercury in community waste water comes from dental practices. Today's dentists, however, are leaning toward use of composite resins, or installing elimination systems to prevent the mercury from reaching municipal water systems. By taking these approaches, you'll do your part in removing this heavy metal from accumulating in the environment.

These are just a few ideas for making your dental office more eco-friendly. Your staff and patients will appreciate that your practice is helping to make our planet a safer, cleaner place.

Dixie Somers

Solar_panels_on_a_roof.jpg

Not only can solar panels increase the value of your home, but they might also reduce your electric bills by hundreds of dollars a year. Before having the solar panels installed, you must take a few steps to protect your home and the panels themselves. Here are some tips you can use to make sure that your next solar power project goes off without a hitch.

Carefully Inspect the Roof

You must have your roof repairs completed well before your solar array is installed. Issues such as a few missing tiles or cracked drip edges might not seem important, but they could result in much worse damage if they aren’t taken care of immediately. You also need to inspect the inside of your attic for any signs of damage like mold in the insulation, wet spots on the joists, or sagging roof panels.

Consider Replacing Your Roof

The solar panel contractors can do everything in their power to protect your home, but they will still be dragging heavy equipment and materials across your roof. If your roof happens to be more than 15 years old, then you might want to consider replacing it entirely before the solar panels are installed. Once the panels are installed, it will be completely impractical to replace the roof for the next five or 10 years.

Determine the Placement of the Panels

Solar contractors have many tools at their disposal to determine where the panels should be placed. As a general rule, south-facing roofs tend to receive the best sunlight and generate the most energy. Roofs that face east and west can produce energy, but placing panels in those areas might not be as efficient. Luckily, the cost of solar panels has dropped in the last few years, and many people still install arrays in areas that don’t receive quite as much direct sunlight.

Remove Obstacles

Anything that blocks sunlight from hitting the panels will have a major impact on the efficiency of the system. The most common obstacles are chimney stacks and tree branches, but you will also need to consider nearby buildings. Those who have satellite dishes or antennas might need to move those devices to a different position to make room for the panels.

Schedule a Final Inspection

Even if you know quite a bit about roofs, you must work with a certified roofing contractor before having the panels installed. These specialists will make sure that your roof is safe and adheres to all local codes and regulations. Depending on the age of your roof, the contractor might also suggest placing additional supports under the panels themselves.

 

The final step in this process is to contact a local solar company to discuss your options. This technology is more affordable than ever, and many companies offer unique deals such as rental options and lease-to-own programs

Dixie Somers

construction-engineer-720.jpg

There is a growing desire to move toward a more sustainable lifestyle. This is evident not only in the way people live or do business but also in the way communities are designed. Civil engineers are interested in stepping in a more eco-friendly direction, and the following are a few ways they help build sustainability.

Walking Rediscovered

Communities throughout the United States are hungry for changes in the way their cities are built. Civil engineers lead the way by helping design and build cities with a higher walkability rating. Research shows that communities that are friendly to walkers or bikers are on the rise because people want to avoid using environmentally harmful modes of transportation, such as cars.

Eco-Friendly Materials

There are a lot issues that need to be dealt with in this industry such as waste creation or improving the durability of certain materials. Of course, it is easy to understand why reducing waste is good for the planet, and making sure that materials are durable helps prevent unnecessary rebuilding. This requires knowledge that up-and-coming students are getting by enrolling in programs like the civil engineering masters online. For example, innovations in building materials has led to the creation of bacteria-infused concrete. This bacteria is dormant until a crack appears and begins to create calcite, which naturally fills the crack.

Synergy Created

An important aspect of civil engineering that is becoming more important deals with creating a connection between design and technology. For example, some engineers are attempting to reconstruct the infrastructure in the United States to include smart roads. These roads can absorb sunlight to create energy, which could be used by the city or to recharge energy-powered vehicles. Some of these smart roads can detect ice on the road and help melt it to make driving a little safer.

Water Infrastructure Change

Water is of the utmost importance, especially if the water is clean. It would make sense that the United States would be worried about this since many regions in the country are devoid of clean water, but that is not the case. Now, civil engineers are coming up with ways to fix the country's decaying water infrastructure. Some of their ideas are to simply replace the piping that, in some cases, are decades old. Others are suggesting different ways of filtering water like using sand or lime softening.

Of course, these are just four ways civil engineers are leading small communities and the entire society to the future. There are a few things missing like funding and adequate coverage regard its importance, but the signs of change are evident.

Dixie Somers

Acrobat_Ants_%28Crematogaster_sp.%29_%28

While no one wants to damage the environment or risk the negative health effects of dangerous pesticides, it's also true that no one wants a house full of pests! These nasty critters bring their own issues, spreading disease and creating unsanitary conditions. Now, innovative pest-control solutions are in the works that can help keep your living spaces pest-free without the damage of dangerous chemicals.

1. Heat Treatments

Bedbugs are notoriously difficult to kill, since they can burrow deep into mattresses and upholstery, which aren't affected by traditional cleaning treatments. The Entotherm Heat Pod is a portable solution for treating infestations of bedbugs as well as other pests like lice and fleas. The pod uses dry heat to kill these pests in all their life stages so that a single treatment is all that's needed to eliminate the infestation.

2. Diatomaceous Earth

Though this safe, organic pesticide isn't necessarily new, it's just starting to gain popularity. Diatomaceous earth is essentially the fossilized silica shells of microscopic sea creatures. It's perfectly safe for humans and pets to handle—there's even food-grade diatomaceous earth that's used to keep insects out of grain destined for food production. For insects, though, the tiny, microscopic shells are like fragments of broken glass, cutting through their exoskeletons and causing them to dehydrate and die. Diatomaceous earth works both indoors and out, but it must be dry to be effective, so reapply in the garden after rain or heavy dew.

3. Eco-Friendly Freezing

While winter is a highly effective outdoor pest control in many places, it's not always a solution for indoor pests. Freezers can kill insects, but few people have access to walk-in freezers large enough to do the job, and the technology typically employed in these kinds of refrigeration units isn't always particularly green. Instead, companies are developing green technology using liquid carbon dioxide, which freezes insects on contact, is completely non-toxic, and leaves no residue. It's even safe to use on fragile antiques and electronic equipment since the liquid turns into a dry, solid "snow" when it hits the air, and evaporates as a gas before melting.

4. Biological Pest Controls

This is a tricky technique to manage, and is most commonly used in gardening and agriculture. In the past, farmers have tried introducing insects that prey on the problematic pests, but it's always risky to add new species in an area where they weren't previously found. Instead, scientists are now turning to much smaller pest-control allies, like nematodes, which are already found in soil around the world. Now you can purchase nematode inoculation kits, which increase the number of pest-controlling nematodes in your garden or fields. These microscopic organisms attack and cut down the population of everything from ants and caterpillars to grubs and fleas.

Though pest control is crucial to keeping your home and family safe, it's not always necessary to reach for a bottle of poison to take care of the problem. With new advances in pest control, you'll be able to keep the bugs at bay without damaging the environment in the process! Contact a pest control company like American Pest Control Inc for more information

Dixie Somers

istock_000005510501_medium.jpg

Today, more people are incorporating green designs and technologies into their homes, and for very good reasons. It provides a safer environment for your family, saves on energy costs, and helps to cut back on contaminants that wind up in the environment. Here are some ways to make sure your home isn't a part of the problem.

1. Energy Audits

An energy audit can tell you where and how your electricity is being wasted, whether it's poor insulation or inefficient appliances. Better energy efficiency means less demand and less environmental damage from utility companies, not to mention saving you money. You can get an auditor fairly cheaply, perhaps even from your own electric company. Savings over the long term will more than justify any cost.

2. Maintain Your Heating and Cooling System

If your HVAC system hasn't been inspected or replaced in years, it may be wasting energy. Old systems won't run as efficiently as newer models. Even if it's new, verify that it's properly sized for your living space. Inadequate systems have to work harder, while oversized systems draw more power than you need. Also be sure to replace filters, inspect for gaps, and clean ducts periodically so the air flow isn't impeded.

3. Have a Strategy

If you don't have any kind of green policy at all in your home, you may be doing more damage than you ever realized. There are a lot of green ideas you can use even on a limited budget. Start recycling, using new energy-efficient lightbulbs, and get in the habit of conserving water and electricity. You could compost yard waste to avoid buying and using chemical-laced fertilizers. At your next home remodel, plan on using recycled or green products.

4. Fresh Water

Conserving fresh water is also important to the community and life in general. If you're connected to municipal water lines, water quality is your local government's responsibility. But if you have your own well, it's important that the water is tested periodically by a company like Water Systems Council. Contaminants can be introduced through seepage and rain runoff from the surrounding soil, which may include chemicals like pesticides or industrial byproducts, as well as natural pollutants like radon, nitrates, arsenic, and animal waste. If you have a well as your water source, it's essential to ensure that the water is safe and clean.

Every home needs maintenance and the occasional update. If you want to minimize any damage to the environment, try making green practices a part of your lifestyle.

Dixie Somers

DSC_0250.jpg

Thank you for your desire to adopt a green lifestyle! Our Earth isn't getting any younger. While some environmental damage is reversible, lethal diseases and animal extinction are not. Here are five home services increasingly turning green.

 

Landscaping

Eco-friendly commercial landscapers use methods that save water, eliminate harmful chemicals, protect wildlife, and reduce pollution of soil, water, and air. They also minimize maintenance.

 

Water Conservation

Fountains and waterfalls are refreshing landscape elements. Landscapers install fixtures that recycle water. In plantings, crews group vegetation with similar water needs into separate zones. They also use drought-resistant native vegetation. Having adapted to local conditions, these plants require less water and care. Ground covers, in particular, reduce evaporation from bare soil.

Landscapers also save water by installing automatic sprinklers with rain sensors. Controller devices further adjust watering according to the seasons. Or a landscaper can manually adjust a sprinkler system every other month. To minimize water loss through evaporation, technicians program sprinklers to activate in the early morning.

Alternatively, you can have a landscaper replace natural grass with synthetic turf. Quality artificial turf has the same lush appearance and soft texture of live grass. Plus, you avoid the maintenance requirements of aerating, watering, mowing, fertilizing, weeding, and edging grass.

If you keep a garden, landscapers can install a drip irrigation system. Water droplets ooze through perforated hoses, directing water to plant roots. Overhead sprinkling wastes water by delivering it to plant surfaces, where it quickly evaporates.

Spreading mulch over bare soil conserves water, inhibits weeds, and reduces erosion. A landscaper can offer you several mulch options, such as wood chips, bark, gravel, coconut fiber, and recycled tires. Eco-conscious landscapers source wood mulch from pruned branches and bark.

Eco-friendly landscapers also help the environment in the following ways:

  • Pest Control. Native plants are more resistant to pests than foreign species, reducing the need for pesticides. They also attract beneficial insects and birds that eat harmful bugs. Eco-conscious landscapers use organic insect oils to kill pests in their young stages. Natural systemic soil drenches target pests, leaving the ecosystem unharmed. Plus, they only need to be applied once yearly.

  • Fertilization. Chemical fertilizers are high in phosphorus which leaches into groundwater, lakes, and streams. Phosphorus is toxic to aquatic life. Phosphate-free fertilizers eliminate this risk. Organic fertilizers release slowly and last longer than chemicals. They activate soil microbes, fighting off disease and improving soil health. One type of organic fertilizer used is untreated, composted grass clippings.

 

Pest Control

Pest control companies like American Pest Control Inc are taking a holistic approach to eradicating insects, using nontoxic chemicals and practices. Employing a dual strategy, they address both infestations and their causes.

  • Pheromone Traps. Pheromones are compounds insects secrete, by which they communicate. Synthetic versions of these chemicals are applied to lures, drawing pests into sticky traps.

  • Fly Lights. These devices use ultraviolet light to attract flying pests to a glue board. On sophisticated models, you can vary the UV output, from 25 to 100 watts.

  • Sticky Boards. These traps have adhesive surfaces to which crawling insects stick. Technicians place sticky boards in hot spots where pests congregate.

  • Insect Growth Regulators (IGRs). These synthetic proteins thwart or inhibit insect life cycles. Since pests don't reach maturity, they can't reproduce. IGRs are specific to insect species. For example, one designed for fleas prevents eggs and larvae from reaching adulthood. A roach IGR makes it impossible for the bug to shed its exoskeleton, a necessary stage in development.

  • Repellents. Natural dusts contain pyrethrum flowers and silica. When pests contact these substances, their bodies desiccate. Repellents target ants, silverfish, fleas, cockroaches, and bedbugs.

  • Sanitation. The goal is to hamper insects' access to food and water. Try to clean up spills promptly, keep lids on trash containers, and regularly remove garbage from your property. Also, eliminate sources of standing water, and repair roof and plumbing leaks.

  • Maintenance. Ensure that screens fit tightly and windows and doors are securely shut. Weather stripping helps. Close cracks in your home's exterior with weather-resistant sealant.

 

Carpet Cleaning

Companies typically use toxic chemicals, releasing fumes and leaving residues. Since we're exposed to them through our noses, mouths, skin, and eyes, they enter our bloodstreams. Side effects include dizziness, nausea, and fatigue.

Some solvents are potentially carcinogenic for the kidneys, liver, and central nervous system. Additionally, rinse water with poisonous chemicals is dumped into drains, killing our soil, streams, rivers, and oceans.

Eco-conscious carpet cleaners use natural products, such as extracts of grapefruit, lemon, and orange. Carbonating bubbles lift soil from carpets. These products are free of noxious chemicals, making them safer for people and pets. Commercial operators also use them to clean rugs and upholstery. Natural carpet cleaners effectively eliminate pet odors, dust mites, spots, dirt, and grime. Safe products are green-certified by The Carpet and Rug Institute.

 

Home Construction

Each year, producing concrete releases tons of carbon emissions into the Earth's atmosphere. One reason is that processing the limestone needed involves heating it to 2,800 degrees Fahrenheit. Mining virgin sand and gravel for concrete depletes riverbeds, beaches, and land quarries.

Eco-friendly building contractors swap concrete for sustainable building materials. They can incorporate them into your cabinets, counters, floors, walls, insulation, and roof. You may be familiar with some products, such as reclaimed lumber, recycled glass, and re-purposed plastic. However, exciting options now in use may be new to you.

  • Straw Bales. Compressed straw forms interior walls. It can stand in for concrete, plaster, wood, fiberglass, stone, and the mineral rock gypsum. When sealed, straw bales are highly insulating.

  • Rammed Earth. Mechanical tampers compact soil inside wooden forms, creating strong exterior walls.

  • HempCrete. Hemp fibers are reinforced with lime, yielding blocks with the strength of concrete. Being lightweight, less energy is needed to transport them to home sites.

  • Bamboo. This woody grass is stronger than concrete and brick. Since it grows so rapidly, bamboo is an easily-renewed building resource. Most commercial bamboo comes from China, where it's cultivated without chemicals. Bamboo is used for house frames and floors.

  • Mycelium. Mushroom and fungus roots are trained to grow around pulverized straw in molds. The resultant lightweight, durable material is then cut into blocks.

  • Ferrock. This material is made from waste steel dust and recycled glass. When hardening, the iron within steel absorbs atmospheric carbon dioxide. Silica from glass further reinforces iron. The resultant product has more compressive strength than concrete. For this reason, ferrock is nicknamed "green cement" and "carbon dioxide sponge." Ferrock also resists cracking. It has more "flexural strength," the ability to withstand stress before bending and breaking. Ferrock saves steel dust and glass bottles from ending up in landfills. By trapping atmospheric carbon dioxide, less is available to create a warming greenhouse effect. Here you can learn more about why ferrock rocks!

  • AshCrete. This product consists of 97 percent recycled materials. One of them is fly ash, a residue of coal-burning power plants. Traditionally, most fly ash ends up in landfills. However, when mixed with lime and water, the resulting compound is a tough alternative to cement.

  • Carbon Concrete. This thermoplastic is made from a byproduct of oil refining. It's primarily used in flooring.

 

Housecleaning

A reputable housecleaning service employs well-trained, experienced, industry-certified technicians. They use state-of-the-art equipment that can handle large-scale, difficult jobs. Examples are cleaning your ductwork, scrubbing baseboards, and polishing windows.

A green cleaning service fosters a healthy home environment. You aren't exposed to toxic chemicals in the air or on surfaces. There's less risk of developing respiratory illness. Eco-friendly cleaners reduce smog-producing gases. Green-certified products contain benign, effective natural ingredients that are safe for people and pets.

When comparison shopping for a green cleaning contractor, look for proof that employees are bonded and insured. Trustworthy companies have extensive screening procedures, including criminal checks and drug testing. Ask for references from clients the companies serve. Also preferable is a 100 percent satisfaction guarantee.

Additionally, choose a company with green certification, such as that awarded by Green Seal. Products should be free of phosphates and phthalates. Vacuums should have HEPA filters and be endorsed by The Carpet and Rug Institute and American Lung Association. Housecleaning employees should also use dual-chamber buckets and microfiber cloths and mops.

 

The Green Bandwagon

Our world needs more eco-conscious people like you! Now you know even more about home services for green pest control, landscaping, carpet cleaning, construction, and housecleaning. Share your knowledge with neighbors, family, and friends. Get them on the bandwagon to keep greening efforts moving!

Dixie Somers

Solar_panels_on_a_roof.jpg

An increasing number of homeowners are turning to solar power to save on their energy costs and to make less of an impact on the environment. Many times, solar panels can generate enough energy to power as much as 50 percent of the average home’s energy leading to significant savings on electric. Solar power installation companies also often state that adding solar power to your home increases its resale value. In actuality, solar panels can complicate your home sale or purchase.

Do Solar Panels Increase Home Value?

Although solar companies will insist that solar power increases the value of your home, this is not a guarantee. There are many factors that go into how solar panels affect your home’s value including:

  • The part of the country you live in
  • Whether you leased or purchased the panels
  • The type of home
  • How much energy costs are reduced by the panels

The starting value of your home is also a factor as higher-priced homes tend to see more value when they have solar panels installed than lower-priced homes.

Lower Energy Costs and Damage to Environment

There is no doubt that solar has significant benefits that can be an advantage when you try to sell your home. A typical solar panel can produce a significant amount of energy which help you save money on energy. For a potential buyer, this will be attractive as there are very few people who would not want to lower energy costs. Buyers who are conscious of their carbon footprint will also see benefits to a home with solar panels as solar energy has less impact on the environment than other forms of energy.

Leasing vs. Buying

Solar installations can be very expensive, ranging from $15,000 to $20,000. Very few homeowners have that much expendable income to add solar power to their home. Solar companies now offer leasing options. You sign an agreement that you will pay a flat monthly fee for the panels for the next 15 to 30 years. Leasing is attractive to many homeowners who want to switch to solar, but it can be a deterrent to buyers who aren’t interested in an additional monthly payment. In addition, some companies will not permit transfer of the lease to a new buyer, requiring the original homeowner to pay the balance on the lease should they sell the home.

Housing Market

The housing market also has an impact on the value of your home when it comes to solar panels. It must be mentioned that appraisers are not permitted to add value to a home because solar panels are installed because they are not a permanently installed in the structure. If you live in an area of the country with strong environmentally-friendly populations, solar power on a home may be well-received. In other areas of the country, there is less of a focus on the environment and solar panels may actually be a deterrent. It is important to know that the cost of your solar panels cannot simply be added to the price of your home when you sell it.

Before installing solar panels on your home, talk to a real estate agent to find out how they will impact your potential ability to sell your home in your housing market. If you are considering the purchase of a home with panels, a real estate agent can explain the advantages and disadvantages of the system that the homeowner has installed.

Dixie Somers

Do-I-qualify-for-adjustment-of-status-to

Perhaps Earth Day has put thoughts into our mind of what you and your family can do to improve the environment. You may feel as if you are unable to make any significant changes especially on a limited budget. However, you would be surprised to learn how much the following five changes affect the environment of the world and how little they could affect your wallet.

 

Change the Thermostat

Making a change of even a few degrees can eliminate a significant amount of the energy that must be used to heat or cool your home. Plus, this can actually lower your electric bill in the summer and your natural gas bill in the winter. Consider switching to a programmable thermostat, which will cost less than $50. This will help you automatically adjust the temperature when you are at home, at work or asleep.

 

Change Light Bulbs

When compact fluorescent bulbs first came out, you were most likely not very impressed with the color or quality of light they provided. However, numerous changes to CFLs as well as to halogen and LED bulbs have made these bulbs appear just as good as incandescent bulbs do. Do not let the initial cost scare you. They last much longer than incandescents do and require less energy to run.

 

Get a New Ride

For a slightly uncomfortable up-front cost, you can upgrade your family car to an eco-friendly option, which will save you plenty of money in gas in the long run. Consider a hybrid car, or if you need a car for running errands around town, consider investing in the Nissan Leaf, which is a fully electric car that can run for up to 107 miles on a single charge.

 

Unplug Appliances

Many appliances continue sucking energy while they are plugged in even if they are not actively running. In particular, place your computer and televisions on electrical strips that can easily be turned on and off with a single button. In the kitchen, unplug appliances when you are not using them to save energy.

 

Grow Your Own Food

Even if you do not have a green thumb, you can easily grow a vegetable garden in your backyard to save on trips to the store and to remove non-organic foods from your diet. With today's surge in container gardening, you can have a healthy garden full of tomatoes, lettuces, peppers, cucumbers and strawberries on your patio.

You can make a difference in the world no matter how small or large your budget is. Discuss changes you would like to make as a family. Getting your significant other and children on board will make them more enthusiastic to help with this vital cause.

Dixie Somers

5050935331_0205049817_b.jpg

It is certainly a golden era for those looking to buy green vehicles. The prevalence of hybrids and fully electric cars are slowly dominating the vehicle market, with even conventional cars borrowing some of the technology. In this ranking of the top five, there are several important aspects to consider. These cars make the cut because of their fuel efficiency, limited or no reliance on fossil fuel and decent utility. This list is also a ranked list, so the first car is the top choice and the fifth car is the least desirable.

 

Toyota Prius Prime

It simply doesn't get better than this brand new addition to the Prius family. While it may be surprising that a pure electric doesn't take the top spot on this list, Toyota has managed to strike the best balance between utility and efficiency in its plug-in electric hybrid design. The Prime, which is truly deserving of the name, has been heralded as the most efficient car in the country. It boasts over 600 miles total range on a mere 11 gallons of fuel. It's decent 25-mile electric battery serves well for the majority of commutes and daily driving without sacrificing the car's efficiency with too much dead weight. The Prime allows a driver to go gas free for much of their time, while still giving them amazing flexibility for long trips, and enough cargo and passenger space to be comfortable all while maintaining a basically unbeatable 133 EMPGs of efficiency. To top it all off, it is decently priced at below $30,000, which beats out much of the competition for plug-in hybrids. The math simply doesn't get any better.

 

Tesla Model S

Those choosing to get a pure electric vehicle need look no further than the Tesla Model S. While it bears an extravagant price tag as its main detracting feature, the Tesla shows what fully electric cars need to be if they are to ever become a mainstream item. The Tesla boasts almost twice the range of most pure electrics while having a rapid charge ability that makes it usable even for long road trips. The car is overall less efficient than the Prime, down to about 102 EMPGs. Assuming an owner's power comes from clean sources, the Model S may be the cleanest car in the country. It gets knocked down to second place mainly because of its $70,000+ price tag and its lower overall efficiency.

 

Nissan Leaf

Nissan's attempt at making an affordable all-electric has worked for many drivers across the country. The name clearly indicates the car's attempt to be greener than the average vehicle, and the car does succeed in that admirably. It actually has more efficiency than the Tesla at about 115–120 EMPGs combined, edging up to 124 in-town only.

The greatest detraction of the Leaf is the same that afflicts all affordable pure-electrics. They simply don't have the range and utility of a conventional car, not even close. The newest models of Leaf have managed to push their maximum range over the 100 mile mark, barely, but that is only in the hands of a very conservative driver in town. The car works great as a commuter vehicle, but it simply doesn't have the ability to function on longer trips. This dramatically hurts its score because its utility value necessitates an owner having another, conventional, car for longer trips, defeating the purpose of buying the green car to begin with.

 

Smart Car (Electric Coupe)

As one of the pioneers of the all-electric vehicle market. The smart car has been the butt of many jokes about electric cars and their lack of usefulness or driving pleasure. The smart car has become the icon of what it takes to be an efficient and affordable electric car, and the picture isn't exactly pretty. The smart car does just what it intends to do, however. It manages 107 EMPGs and is overall a very efficient electric with a price tag cheaper than even a gas-powered compact.

This efficiency, however, comes at a steep cost to utility. The car takes the idea of compact to a new level. It can barely accommodate two people comfortably and has basically no cargo space. It also has a measly 60–70 mile maximum range, so it is completely unusable for longer trips. Most drivers will need to take the money they save buying a smart car and invest in a second car to get anywhere with. It is saved from the lowest ranking only because of its affordability and efficiency. You can't get a pure-electric for less.

 

Chevy Volt

It is interesting that a plug-in electric takes both the top and the bottom spot on this ranking, which shows that minor changes in how the technology is approached can have a major impact. In many ways, the Volt works just like the Prime. It even boasts over twice the electric range, which may appeal to some drivers. The modern version of the Volt functions more like a true hybrid. This is in contrast to the early models, which took a different approach to the technology and killed the car's gas efficiency completely. The early model Volts wouldn't have even made this list.

Lowered efficiency is the main detractor of the Volt. Despite functioning almost exactly like the Prime, it barely manages to get over 100 EMPGs, with a considerably lower gas efficiency. The Volt is bigger, heavier and less focused on efficiency compared to the Prime. The larger and heavier battery that gives its primary advantage, is also its greatest detractor. All that extra dead weight really hurts once the battery is empty.

 

In an effort to give drivers greater electric range and a bump in performance, Chevy has built a plug-in hybrid that, while still very useful and popular, just doesn't promise to save the planet quite as well as the Prius Prime.

There are many options out there when shopping for a green fuel-efficient car. It's important to select a vehicle that works well for your particular driving situation and habits because even a green pure-electric doesn't do any good if you're hardly ever able to use it

Dixie Somers

Latte_art.jpg

Many people attempt to find coffee that tastes great and is also eco-friendly. Although there are several different types of coffee available for purchase, many coffee trees are mass-produced in remote locations, generate a great deal of waste, and are sprayed with harmful pesticides. If you are environmentally conscious and care deeply about the future of the earth, then you may want to consider some eco-friendly coffee options.

 

Is Your Coffee Fair Trade?

On coffee packages, many manufacturers will state whether a coffee has a fair trade certification. Fair trade coffee is usually grown by small, independent farmers who adhere to a certain set of rules. Although these coffees usually adhere to a democratic process and do not hire children as laborers, the growers also try to use minimal pesticides. In general, these particular growers try and produce coffee while minimizing the impact on the economy.

 

Picking Organic Coffee

When purchasing your cup of coffee, does the shop describe it as organic? Organic coffees, such as the Green Mountain coffee from 11th Street Coffee, can be better for the environment because the farmers limit the use of harmful pesticides. Most organic coffee farmers also rotate the crops routinely which helps to prevent soil erosion and loss of valuable nutrients within the soil.

 

Shade Grown Coffee

In many parts of the world, coffee farmers will mow down large, dense forests to make way for the crop. This can lead to massive deforestation, which can affect the local and global ecosystem.  However, some coffees will have the phrase "shade grown" on their labels, which means that they are grown under a canopy of trees or in a shaded area. Shade grown coffees tend to require less water and the waste from the coffee tree can help provide nutrients to the soil. These particular coffee trees also provide shade and shelter to birds in the local area, which helps to promote biodiversity when it pertains to wildlife and also plants.

 

Try and Buy Local

One great way to limit the impact on the economy is to always try and buy locally. Purchasing coffee that was farmed locally will help limit carbon dioxide emissions. Buying locally can be one step to addressing climate change, a drastic environmental issue that affects all of us.

 

Just remember, you can enjoy a cup of coffee that was grown in an eco-friendly manner. Make sure to study the various types of coffee available and find a few options that taste great and were also produced in a manner that minimizes waste and limits the use of pesticides

Dixie Somers

drops-of-water-water-nature-liquid-40784

The average American uses around 100 gallons of water every day while most Europeans use only 50 gallons per day and those in parts of Africa that have very poor access to water use only 5 gallons per day. While those living in third world countries certainly do not have access to enough water for the great hygiene habits that those in first world countries do, you might wonder what the difference is between how Americans live versus how Europeans live. What are some ways that Americans can cut down on their daily water usage to protect the valuable resource that you have?

Repair Leaky Faucets

Leaky faucets may not seem that bad, but the waste can quickly add up, totaling up to 50 gallons per day for a minor leak. You may be able to tackle some leaky faucets in your kitchen and bath yourself, but calling a professional from a company like The Clean Plumbers is ideal for ensuring that all parts are installed and secured correctly. Also, watch out for leaking spigots on the outside of your house.

Install Low-Flow Showerheads

You mostly likely use between 10 to 20 gallons of water for every five minutes that you spend in the shower. Cut this number in half by installing a low-flow showerhead. If you need a more powerful burst of water to rinse out your hair, this showerhead lets you do that, but for the majority of your shower you will only need a small amount of water.

Choose Eco-Flush Toilets

Older toilet models used close to four gallons of water per flush. A low-flow toilet uses less than two gallons per flush, saving over 12,000 gallons of water per person per year. Since toilet flushing can account for up to a quarter of your daily water usage, this is a prime way to save.

Put the Dishwasher to Good Use

Surprisingly, newer models of dishwashers are far more water and energy-efficient than hand washing dishes is. Be sure that the dishwasher is full when you start it, however. Additionally, with most newer models, there is no need to pre-rinse your dishes.

Turn Off the Water

One of the simplest ways to save water in your house is to turn off the water when you are not using it. Do not let the water run in the kitchen as you are prepping food. Rinse fruits and vegetables all at once instead of a little at a time. Be sure to turn off the faucet while you brush your teeth.

Most Americans have ready access to plenty of water and think nothing of using plenty of it for a variety of everyday needs. However, if you live in an area that has gone through a drought, you know how precious water is and how much it needs to be guarded as a limited resource. Take some or all of these steps now to conserve water throughout your home.

Dixie Somers

Tower_Bridge_Sacramento_edit.jpg

In America's cities, it is a necessity to have clean water for consumption, bathing, and everyday use in order to stay healthy. With so many people living in these areas, it can be hard to keep water safe and clean. There are things that you can do to make sure that your household use doesn't negatively affect the water supply in your area. From pollution runoff from agricultural facilities affecting the water table to toxic chemical dumping in rural areas and even littering, many people have no idea how dirty their drinking water actually is.

 

What Can You Do To Help?

One way that you can make sure that you are not contributing negatively to the pollution of water in our cities is to be sure that you are not flushing or washing any type of volatile or potentially harmful chemicals down the drain when you are using them. Always be sure to dispose of chemicals properly. When washing animals or cars outside, try to use environmentally safe products that won't add to the pollution in groundwater sources.

Sewage treatment plants can produce lots of pollution as well, so it is important to make sure that you are protecting yourself from untreated groundwater. Also, when you move into a new residence or install new toilets, it is a good idea to make sure that your toilets are equipped with water-saving devices. There are many ways to conserve and treat polluted water.

 

Keeping Your Own Water Clean

In-home water purification systems are a growing trend in keeping drinking water safe and clean for everyday use. Rather than buying bottled water and using expensive chemical treatments to keep water clean, purifying water as it is brought into the home is a very smart idea. Your purification system can be installed directly to the water pump in the home or directly onto the faucet as water comes out. New brands of refrigerators also come with water filtration systems and can help keep clean water a constant factor in your home.

 

What About Outside My Home?

You might wonder what you can do to make sure that you are getting clean water when you are outside of the home as well. There are a few ways to do this. You can carry a portable water filter that attaches to faucets with you. You can also be sure to only patronize reputable establishments that support environmental wellness.

Closer to home, it is necessary to make sure that you are not polluting your own yard. Adding things like fertilizer to your soil can make your water table toxic and unhealthy and can bring bad water into your home. You too can be an activist for your own clean water and for the health of your city's water by taking these few simple steps.

Dixie Somers

Solar_panels_in_Ogiinuur.jpg

Kudos to you for caring about our precious planet! As a business owner, you can protect our environment on a broad scale. One significant way is using eco-friendly equipment. By doing so, you'll reduce carbon emissions and energy consumption. You'll also save money. Here are five types of gadgets with Earth-saving features.

 

1. Recycled Calculators

Equip your staff with calculators made of recycled plastic that run on solar power. Some devices are advertised as being free of lead and mercury. Some companies go a step farther, with packaging and instructions made of recycled paper. Examples of companies selling these gadgets are Canon, Sharp, and Staples. Canon recycles plastic from its old copiers. Staples offers one made of recycled toner and ink cartridges, keeping them out of landfills.

 

2. Eco-Friendly Printers

You'll reduce paper waste via printers with recycled cartridges and few consumable parts. An ENERGY STAR rating indicates high energy efficiency. Color laser printers have the largest number of consumable parts. When shopping for a printer, choose one with separate toner and drum cartridges. These are the least wasteful. Ideally, purchase an ozone-free printer that uses recycled cartridges.

 

3. Computer Power Savers

Power savers save electricity and reduce carbon emissions by powering down computers when not in use. Plug a unit into your USB port, and load the software. Then press the button before leaving your desk, and the gadget puts your computer into energy-saving mode. This power suspension is almost equivalent to turning off your machine. Upon returning, tap any key, and your computer powers up.

It's estimated that using this device on a single computer can prevent 135kg of carbon emissions per year. A business with 50 computers saves at least $1,500 in electric bills and 6.8 tons of CO2 annually. These merits accrue when non-machine use averages two hours per day. Although it's possible to navigate menus to access energy-saving mode, the average employee won't bother since it's time-consuming. A power-saving device is both user-friendly and gratifying. Research cites another benefit of power-saving devices. They motivate consumers to turn off lights and unplug appliances when not in use.

 

4. Solar Panels

Solar systems are now used by 22 percent of city buildings and 5 percent of commercial buildings in the US. As a business owner, you can significantly reduce and possibly eliminate your electric bill. What you're spending on electricity now is likely much higher than what you'll pay for solar long-term.

Houston Chronicle reports that installing solar panels is a sound business investment. Government incentives and lower installation costs make switching to solar economical. Most panels carry a 25-year warranty. A panel system needs little or no maintenance, working efficiently for 25 to 40 years.

If your system generates more electricity than your business uses, your net electricity cost will be $0. To remain linked to the electrical grid, you'll pay a minimal connection fee, usually $100 per year. While saving money, you'll help reduce carbon emissions and air pollution. You can also use going solar as a marketing tool. Customers respond positively to eco-friendly businesses.

So, how does a solar panel work? This device converts sunlight into electricity, using conductive metalloid wafers called solar cells. When light particles strike a solar cell, they generate an electric charge. Multiple charges create a steady flow of energy.

Solar cells are packed into circuits called modules. One or more modules make up a solar panel. When mounted on a rooftop, the panels receive sunlight. The resulting direct current (DC) is converted to alternating current (AC) by a device called an inverter. AC then powers your lights and machines. Visit a vendor like ML Solar if you’re interested in getting solar panels.

 

5. Eco-Friendly Vending Machines

A standard vending machine uses 3500–4000 kilowatt hours per year, consumed by refrigeration and lighting. Eco-friendly models significantly cut energy expenditure, some slashing it by half! Other features that are kind to our environment are LED lighting and energy-efficient cooling units.

Motion sensors and standby mode further reduce energy consumption by 20 percent. Some companies provide remote inventory monitoring. Many vendors are now offering healthy snacks, organic coffee, hot food, frozen treats, and fresh fruit. Dual controls maintain both hot and cold foods at proper temps inside one machine.

 

ENERGY STAR Business Support

If you own a small company, consider joining the ENERGY STAR Small Business Network. As a member, you'll receive free information and technical support for reducing energy waste and costs. You'll learn business practices that protect our environment. You can display the ENERGY STAR promotional mark, showing the public your company is dedicated to saving energy.

Tools from the Environmental Protection Agency help you track water and energy consumption. Expert assistance is at your disposal for improving efficiency, such as the "Ask a Technical Question" service. Resources are also tailored to the following types of small businesses:

  • auto dealers
  • convenience and grocery stores
  • lodging
  • manufacturers
  • offices
  • restaurants

 

Gadgets Large and Small

As a business owner, you can help protect our environment in numerous ways. Using eco-friendly equipment is one substantial way. Our world needs more Earth-minded entrepreneurs like you!

Dixie Somers

5076501932_c9340441ee_b.jpg

You don’t have to invest in a hybrid or electric car to make your vehicle greener. Certain driving habits, proper vehicle maintenance and a few small changes or accessories can go a long way to improving a car’s efficiency and reducing its overall carbon footprint. The best news of all is that these green car tips are likely to save you money in the long run by reducing your need for fuel or expensive repairs.

 

Control Speed

About 75 percent of a vehicle’s carbon emissions are due to the fuel they burn. There are many ways to reduce a car’s fuel consumption. Two of the easiest ways that require little more than a change in habits is speed and car weight.

Reducing speed is one of the best ways to improve fuel economy. This is because of some simple physics known as liquid thermodynamics. Basically, as a car moves through the air, it is compressing that air just a little bit. This creates drag that tries to slow the car down. The faster a car is going, the more it compresses the air and the more power it needs to get through that air. No matter how aerodynamic the vehicle is, this air compression increases remarkably at about 60 miles per hour. Those speed limit signs aren’t just a matter of safety. Following them will improved your MPG.

Consistent speed is also important for mpg. Gasoline engines are extremely inefficient when they are accelerating and work best when they run at a continuous speed. This is one reason that freeway driving tends to result in higher mpg than town driving. Every time you hit the brakes, you are wasting some of the car’s energy. By driving moderately, and avoiding a lot of starting and stopping or fast acceleration, you can improve fuel economy by quite a bit. Safe driving also happens to be better and more efficient driving.

 

Reduce Weight

Your car’s weight has a major impact on how much fuel it consumes. Every 100 pounds of weight tends to reduce fuel efficiency by about 2 percent. Stripping off extra racks and cargo containers and emptying out the trunk of unnecessary stuff may have a surprising effect on fuel efficiency. The impact of weight is more noticeable the smaller the engine.

 

Be Mindful of Your Tires

The next biggest factor in fuel efficiency is the amount of friction created by your tires. Friction creates drag that requires more energy to overcome. Unless you need heavy-duty tire tread for off-road or harsh weather conditions, it is most beneficial to equip tires with low-resistance tread. This may mean switching your tires seasonally. Equip low-resistance tires in the summer and switch to heavier tread in the winter only when you need it.

Tire inflation is also a critical factor. As a tire loses pressure, more of the tire is pressed against the roadway, and it creates more drag and friction to overcome. Underinflated tires have other problems as well. The tire is going to wear more quickly and require replacement. If the tire becomes severely underinflated, it is a road hazard that may cause a dangerous blowout or loss of vehicle control.

 

Regular Maintenance

For many people, car maintenance is like a pass or fail test. If something breaks completely and the car won’t run or the check engine light comes on, then it’s time to take it in for service. Unfortunately, the truth is that most cars don’t break down completely unless something serious or catastrophic happens. Instead, the car’s systems slowly wear down and become less and less efficient before finally breaking.

Proper maintenance and tune-ups ensure that a car continues to run in its most efficient state. Problems with the fuel and exhaust system or coolant system may not immediately cause a breakdown or even a check engine light, but they are still causing problems.

You can help ensure that your engine continues to run efficiently by using fuel additives that clean the engine as it runs. States and companies vary on their laws regarding fuel additives. California tends to regulate more additives, but most states have little to no regulation on additives.

 

Be Smart with Oil

Used engine oil is a huge factor in the environmental friendliness of your car. The first step is to only get an oil change when you actually need it. Most synthetic oils are designed to run at least 10,000 miles or 6 months, and the highest qualities may last even longer. Mechanic stickers suggesting oil changes every 4,000 miles or less or just trying to keep their income, wasting oil and your money. The only exception is with non-synthetic oils that have much shorter lives and should probably be avoided anyway.

When you do change your oil, be sure that it is recycled properly. Most municipalities offer free oil recycling with garbage collection, but the oil must be disposed of properly. It should not be included in regular garbage and it should never, ever be put down the drain or just spilled onto the street. In most areas, improper disposal is illegal and has steep fines.

Visit car dealerships in St George for more information on your specific car and how it can be made friendlier to the environment. By changing some of your basic habits and keeping your vehicle well-maintained, you can increase your fuel efficiency and reduce your car’s carbon footprint. You even stand to save quite a bit of money in the process.