• entries
    52
  • comments
    4
  • views
    3,456

About this blog

All things green, eco-friendly, and seriously sustainable

Entries in this blog

Dixie Somers

Machinery.jpg

In case your company has not taken the necessary steps to become eco-friendly, you need to take the challenge head-on. Taking the initiative to reduce waste and going green is a great way to becoming efficient and saving money for your business. A lot needs to be done to ensuring our working environments are sustainable for the future generations.

Below are four eco-friendly practices that will help you reduce your company’s machinery carbon footprint, and save money for your business.

Take Part in a Local Electronics Recycling Program

Recycling your used electronics provides materials that are reusable to repair and build other electronics, and also help in building the economy. More jobs are going to be created at the same time; the environment is going to be protected.

Buy Used and Refurbished Electronics

Organizations can save a lot of money if they buy refurbished desktops, laptops and servers. There are times where you can save up to 50% of the cost of purchasing a new product. The interesting thing is that the refurbished products are usually slightly used or just unboxed. Consumer laws restrict manufacturers to sell products that have a company seal. Refurbished products also go through numerous test before they are resold.

Pull the Plug

You are not always working on your computer 24 hours of the day, depending on the type of work you do. Before you leave the office, ensure to turn off all computers that are not being used. You can use one power strip where several computers are plugged in. This will make it easier for you to ensure that no appliance is pilfering energy secretly. You can also set your computer to shut down at specific times of the night. Ensure that you save more energy by using energy saving appliances and fluorescent light bulbs that are compact, to reduce energy consumption.

Go Green on Heating and Cooling

Heat your office when it is occupied to a maximum of 21 degrees Celsius, and 16 degrees when it is unoccupied. Cooling and heating set points have to be set apart by 2 or 3 degrees Celsius so that the air conditioner does not turn on and off. Machine coolant on the air conditioner as well as any other company machinery needs to be checked on a regular basis so that the air conditioner functions properly, so make sure to be in contact with a company like ETNA Products Inc. Besides coolant, you can place caulking and weather strips to minimize the loss of heat from the doors and windows.

Conclusion

There are several ways in which you can make your business environment eco-friendly by making your office machinery eco-friendly. You need to ensure that your company understands the available options and they are aware of what is needed, and what can make a difference in the working environment. Join the movement of going green and make the world a better place.

Dixie Somers

082.jpg

When thinking of ways our lives impact the environment, most people often worry about their carbon footprint, recycling habits, and other common concerns. While it may surprise you, one area of your home that can have a dramatic impact on the environment is your plumbing system. Thankfully, there is a recent trend among plumbing companies to adopt more eco-friendly technology and most of these solutions are widely available.

Low Flow Toilets

Toilets use a serious amount of water, accounting for about 30 percent of all home water usage. Plumbing companies have taken notice and have increasingly moved towards the installation of low flow toilets. These environmentally friendly alternatives work just as well as older models but use anywhere between two to five times less water per flush, an impressive savings of water that quickly adds up throughout the year.

Sustainable Landscaping

There’s nothing wrong with wanting a healthy, green lawn and backyard, but irrigating your property can take a significant amount of water. This is especially true during low rainfall periods, to the point that many towns across the country periodically reduce or outlaw the use of sprinklers and other lawn irrigation. Plumbing companies have found an eco-friendly answer to this in the form of grey water irrigation systems. These systems save water from tubs, showers, sinks, and other fixtures that, while not suitable for drinking, can be cleaned and recycled to hydrate the grass and shrubs that adorn your property.

Better Faucets and Showers

Toilets aren’t the only offenders when it comes to wasting water. Whether in the kitchen or the bathroom, old, inefficient water fixtures waste gallons of water each year, negatively impacting both the environment and your water bill. For example, older shower heads can go through nearly three gallons of water in as little as 60 seconds. Eco-friendly shower heads and faucets not only save water, but provide the same level of water pressure, allowing you to wash your hands, hair, or dishes just as effectively without unnecessarily wasting water.

Efficient Appliances

While upgrading your kitchen faucet is a start, dishwashers and other appliances hooked up to your home’s plumbing can also waste significant amounts of water. Just as water fixtures have been improved, so too is the market ripe with eco-friendly appliances that use less water to accomplish the same job. Energy efficient washing machines and dishwashers are designed to get the most use out of every drop of water and incorporate more effective heating components to increase the water’s temperature while using less energy.

Secure Pipes

Whether by leaking grey water into the soil or poorly retaining temperature, the pipes that provide water to the various parts of your home are the most important area to consider when decreasing the environmental impact of your plumbing. Modern pipes use more effective insulation that prevents heat loss as the water travels from the boiler to its destination, thereby requiring the use of less energy overall. Likewise, this insulation makes cracking of pipes during winter less likely, thus preventing leaks of grey water into the surrounding soil.

Do Your Part

Protecting the environment takes group effort. While plumbing companies like Rakeman Plumbing provide the tech and installation skills needed to update your home, it’s your responsibility to identify areas of your property’s plumbing that could benefit from eco-friendly alternatives. Simply add upgrades incrementally and before long you’ll be doing your part to preserve nature while still living comfortably

Dixie Somers

071127-F-6699G-001.JPG

While corporate measures and government initiatives do their part in limiting pollution, truly preserving the planet requires the help of every individual. Though it may seem small, doing your part to live a more eco-friendly lifestyle can have a profound impact on the environment. There are plenty of ways you and your household can easily reduce your carbon footprint.

Proper Waste Disposal

With waste disposal as simple as dragging a can to the curb, most households put little thought into where all that trash ends up. Unfortunately, even more fail to pay attention to the rules and recommendations set out by their local waste disposal service on how to separate waste items. While it’s perfectly fine for biodegradable items like food waste to safely decompose in a landfill, items like batteries or recyclables like plastic and aluminum should be separated so that they can be dealt with in a safe and sustainable way. Take the time to separate your household’s waste so that in can be disposed of properly.

Use a Trash Compactor

Plastic trash bags may be convenient, but they are one of the biggest contributors to pollution around the world. Plastics can take as long as 500 years to break down in a landfill, so considering that Americans alone use over 100 billion plastic bags a year, plastic recycling and reduction is one of the most vital ways your family can reduce its carbon footprint. A simple way of doing this is to install a trash compactor. By compressing trash through a company like Pro Star Roll Off Dumpsters, your family can dispose of its waste more efficiently by fitting more waste material per trash bag, drastically cutting down on your plastic use throughout the year.

Insulate Your Home

If you’d like to help the environment while also saving money, insulating your home is a simple way to accomplish both. While your home’s heater may feel like it’s doing a great job, poorly insulated homes leak much of the heat produced by their climate control system, effectively wasting energy and increasing their carbon footprint. Check your windows and door frames for gaps where heat can escape and use window fixtures that help to trap in heat. For smaller spaces, consider using a space heater occasionally instead of solely relying on your home heating system.

Use a Water Filter

Once again, plastics are a major contributor to pollution problems. Another major source of plastic is disposable drink bottles, which clutter landfills and recycling centers around the country. While recycling these bottles is helpful, a better choice is to reduce the number you use. Rather than relying on bottled water, purchase a filter system for your kitchen sink so that you can enjoy clean, delicious water year-round. Purchase a refillable travel bottle for when you’re on the go. Not only will it reduce your waste output, but you’ll also save on your grocery bill by no longer needing to buy cases of water.

Shop In-Season

Eating strawberries and other produce items year-round might be delicious and convenient, but the cost to the environment is astounding. Produce that is out-of-season in your region must be shipped from across the world in ships that put out massive quantities of carbon dioxide. Do your part by learning which food items are in-season, and if you can, try to purchase some of your grocery items from local growers.

Every Bit Counts

When it comes to saving the environment, every little bit counts. You can easily lower your family’s carbon footprint by making simple changes to how you shop and deal with waste. By adopting these habits you will not only lower your own family’s impact on the environment, but also inspire others in your community to take steps towards more sustainable living.

Dixie Somers

shutterstock_131187731.jpg

Every time you do business with a company, you’re indirectly supporting them. If you purchase from a company that’s committed to environmental issues, you’re helping to protect the environment. But if you’re providing profits to a company that’s heedless of green practices, you’re working against the environment. In many cases, the difference is not so obvious. Here are some ways to tell whether a business is eco-friendly.

Internet Searches

The easiest way to check on a company’s reputation is to type their name into a search engine along with a word or phrase like “eco-friendly” or “environmental policy”. If that company has any associations with green practices, something will come up, either positive or negative. Companies that are dedicated to the environment will share news of initiatives, partners, philanthropic support, and related activities. Ecologically harmful companies, on the other hand, will be linked to EPA violations, toxicity law suits, and similar accusations.

Look for Evidence

Some companies claim to be eco-friendly when their green initiatives are non-existent or marginal at best. It’s a baseless PR tactic. Instead of accepting such claims on the company site or social media conversations, check for things like sustainability or social responsibility releases. Truly green businesses will often publish data or reports providing documentation of their efforts. You may find links to these reports or external sites where they can be found. Claims are one thing, but fully prepared reports, especially if they have the approval of an environmental body or organization, are harder to fake.

Check for Awards or Certifications

You can also search the websites of reputable environmental organizations to see if the company has earned any awards or mentions. It’s easy enough for imposters to present a eco-friendly logo on their site, but a real organization will be able to verify this. If the company is making any claims for a particular cause, such as saving endangered species or eliminating greenhouse gases, find a charitable organization related to this and see if it can be corroborated.

Learn About the Company

Explore the company’s website to discover what kind of practices they engage in. For instance, metal companies should be using aluminum or powder coatings, such as those by Rattray Blasting & Coating, to prevent rust or heavy metals from leaching into the environment. Do a little research to understand what eco-friendly standards for its industry the company should observe and whether they’re mentioned. Don’t be shy about contacting the company directly to ask questions. If they’re proud of their green strategy, they’ll be happy to talk about it.

A little bit of research will tell you whether a company really is eco-friendly. If they don’t appear to be, you should reconsider supporting them.

Dixie Somers

house-in-the-woods-in-the-mountains-the-

While it may come as a shock, winter is one of the worst months for negative human impact on the environment. From neglecting good recycling habits to irresponsibly using energy, many people fail to consider their environmental impact during the colder months. If you’re worried about your carbon footprint, there are plenty of ways to go green this coming holiday season.

Stick with Seasonal Produce

While grocery stores carry strawberries, kiwis, lemons, and other seasonal fruits and vegetables year-round, it’s often at the expense of our environment. Shipping in out-of-season produce via ships results in massive carbon dioxide emissions, contributing significantly to global warming. Thankfully, apples, clementines, and plenty of other winter seasonal foods are readily available and can be enjoyed guilt-free. If you don’t have the patience to learn which products are in season, stick to stores that carry locally sourced produce rather than imports, as their selection will reflect the most sustainable options.

Optimize Your Home Heating

With temperatures dropping, most homeowners are dusting off their heaters to keep warm. Before winter fully sets in, schedule an appointment with an HVAC company like Derek Sawyers Smart Energy Heating & Air to have your climate control system evaluated to make sure it’s running as efficiently as possible. An optimized system will save you money on your energy bill and also protect against dangerous malfunctions, especially with gas heaters that can emit harmful levels of carbon dioxide if they aren’t serviced regularly. To help support your heater, make sure windows, door frames, and other areas are properly insulated to maximize how well your home retains heat.

Salting and Shoveling

Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, it’s easy to pack on pounds during the holidays. Rather than paying for a gym membership, get an outdoor workout by shoveling your front steps and driveway instead of using a snowblower or plow. These methods require the use of gasoline or electricity, emitting harmful environmental gases or upping your energy bill respectively. By shoveling walkways yourself, you can lower your carbon emissions and indulge in a few extra desserts guilt-free thanks to the intense workout. If you have some time to spare, consider shoveling your neighbors’ properties to add a little more money to your gift-buying budget.

Recycle Your Christmas Tree

There’s nothing wrong with opting for a natural Christmas tree, provided you put it to good use after the holiday season is over. Pine needles make excellent mulch, so if you have a garden patch in your yard, carefully remove the branches and shake the needles over your designated spot. If there’s too much snow coverage, simple store a healthy supply of the needles in a sealed plastic tote or other container for later use during planting season. Christmas tree needles decompose slowly and do not mold, so long term storage is perfectly safe. If you’re the DIY type, you can get some use out of the trunk as well. Its round shape makes it the perfect base for building some natural drink coasters, and a good sized tree should give you plenty of material to make a few extra to hand out as gifts next year.

Use Water Responsibly

While there’s nothing quite like a hot bath or shower during the winter months, you may literally be pouring money down the drain. Simply lowering your home’s water temperature a modest few degrees not only helps the environment by lowering your energy consumption, but can also save you some money on your next bill. Dropping your hot water temperature from 140 degrees to 120 will still give you plenty of warm water for baths and dishes, but can also cut your annual bill by as much as $60, giving you a few extra dollars for buying presents while also lowering your carbon footprint.

Year-Round Sustainability

Every season offers its own unique ways to reduce your negative impact on the environment. During the winter months, focus on responsible energy usage, eat in-season foods, and find creative recycling methods for your Christmas tree, wreathes, and even wrapping paper. With a few simple steps, you can fully enjoy the holiday season while making your life more environmentally conscious.

Dixie Somers

save-electricity.jpg

You and your family might be wasting an exorbitant amount of electricity without even realizing it. Inefficient appliances and unwise habits could be costing you thousands of dollars a year, and that is why homeowners should constantly be looking for new ways to reduce their carbon footprint. These five tips will help you bring your electric bills down without making any major lifestyle changes.

Weatherize Your House

In the average home, the HVAC system is responsible for around 48 percent of all energy use. Weatherizing your home will limit the amount of electricity that must be used to keep it at a comfortable temperature. Sealing up cracks, caulking around windows, and installing better insulation are all simple projects that will improve your home’s efficiency.

Cook Responsibly

When it comes to making meals, changing a few of your habits could put a major dent in your energy bills. Instead of cooking foods as soon as you pull them out of the freezer, you should give them time to thaw out on the counter. You can also reduce your carbon footprint by using energy-efficient appliances such as the microwave and crockpot instead of the oven and stove.

Wash Your Clothes in Cold Water

Unless your clothes are extremely dirty, you should be able to wash them on the coldest setting. You also need to make sure that the washer is full before doing a load of laundry. These devices use an incredible amount of energy, and being able to cut back on a few loads every month could end up saving you hundreds of dollars a year.

Stop Phantom Loads

Many devices throughout your home will continue to draw power even when they aren’t being used. These “phantom loads” can cost you quite a bit of money, and that is why you should unplug all of your devices whenever they aren’t being used. As an alternative to unplugging each individual device, you can plug multiple devices into a single power strip. When you are getting ready to leave your home or go to sleep, you can cut off all the devices in a room with a single switch.

Schedule an Energy Audit

During an energy audit, an inspector will use tools such as current sensors from a company like Aim Dynamics and thermal cameras to detect any efficiency issues that might be taking place. Once the inspection is over, you will be given instructions on how to address those issues. Most experts agree that families should have their homes inspected once every two to three years.

Homeowners should never accept skyrocketing energy bills without a fight. With a little bit of planning and the proper attitude, you might be able to save thousands a year while reducing your impact on the environment.

Dixie Somers

Scrap_Metal.JPG

Planet earth is under threat due to the many years of pollution and depletion of resources. This has necessitated the establishment of various environment conservation measures. Metal makes it to the list of the materials that you can frequently recycle either at home or work. Metal covers all metallic objects from cloth hangers to aluminum foil and cans, which can be recycled in a certain way. Your mission should you choose to save the environment would be taking the scrap metal to people or companies that can recycle it well. Here are five intriguing ways scrap metal is recycled at companies like Big Daddy Scrap.

Identifying Recyclable Metals

One of the first steps that you should take when recycling metals is identifying the ones that can be recycled. This includes drink cans used to pack beverages like soda or beer, which are made from aluminum. Cloth hangers made from metal are another option for recycling whereby you can either place them in a blue bin or take them to your dry cleaners for a discount or cash back. Food containers in the form of vegetable cans, aluminum foils or coffee tins can also be recycled. You should get rid of all their contents and clean them well with water before taking them to the recycling plant or company as they fetch a better price compared to when they are dirty. You can also sort out brass and copper metal from your old home appliances or furnishings like light fixtures, keys, scraps and door handles.

Recycling Copper

Copper is mostly used in wiring and hence it should be of a higher standard and quality. You must have your copper thoroughly inspected and then graded before it is recycled. The highest grade of copper is often melted and its quality is increased through the process of fire refining. The hot copper is then deoxidized and turned into ingots or billets.

Bagging Your Aluminum Cans

You can bag all your empty soda and food cans separately at home or work. You should do this religiously until you collect a sizeable amount of the recyclable cans, which will earn you a good amount of money. After you collect these cans, you can take them to a recycling center in your locality and get good cash in return. You can collect them and deposit them in separate bins that are provided by your trash collection company to collect recyclable metals.

Public Recycling

If you are concerned about the environment and would like to play an active role in its conservation, you can take advantage of various public recycling initiatives initiated at the local level. There are allocated bins that are placed at strategic places in most public areas to collect the recyclable products. You can drop all your recyclable metallic food and beverage cans in these bins found at the beach or in public parks.

Electronics and Chemical Recycling Programs

Electronics like TVs, laptops and computers contain some metallic components that can be recycled. However, they are hazardous waste materials and when they end up in landfills; they end up contaminating the water and soil in such areas. You can sell your old and unused electronics to trusted recycling centers or donate them to charity organizations. In addition, Empty cans that once contained fertilizers, pesticides or aerosol sprays harbor unsafe chemicals that can end up harming the environment. You can bag them separately and drop them off at a recycling center of your choice.

Final Thoughts

Recycling scrap metal is a great way of conserving the environment for future generations. This process starts with you and it is prudent to play your part well. You can refer to all the intriguing ways above that scrap metal is recycled.

Dixie Somers

15.jpg

Pollution is inevitable when you own and drive a vehicle, but the impact you have on the environment as a whole is something in your control. Modifying your driving habits and making minor changes to how you operate your vehicle can help reduce your carbon footprint and save you money on gas. Keep these five tips in mind the next time you get in the driver’s seat to make your car more eco-friendly.

Reduce Weight

Heavier cars use more fuel than lighter ones. Take out unnecessary items such as tools or boxes that you might be carrying around. It might be tempting to keep items in the back for a “just in case” situation, but your fuel mileage is suffering as a result. Do a thorough clean-out of your trunk or back storage area and see the difference in economy.

Fill it Right

Avoid topping off your tank after the lever clicks to indicate that it’s full. The vapors get held in the emissions canister, which is designed to prevent the vapors from getting into the atmosphere. “Topping up” negates this and essentially wastes money. Always ensure your gas cap is tightened completely to prevent vapors from escaping.

Keep the AC Off

Air conditioning might be essential if you’re in sweltering heat, but it also uses from 13 to 21 percent more fuel. Air conditioning causes extra strain on your engine to run and uses more gas. If you need to use it, ensure that your air conditioning system is properly maintained and serviced. As a general rule, keep your windows down for air circulation at low speeds and close them when on highways and freeways to avoid aerodynamic drag.

Stay on top of Emissions

One of the main reasons your check engine light will come on is that the system detects an emissions problem. This is harmful for the environment and, depending on the issue, can significantly affect your fuel usage. Get your car inspected as soon as possible and fix the issue to keep more money in your pocket in the long-term and avoid sending additional pollution into the air.

Tune it up

Certain parts on your car need to be replaced regularly, such as your oil filter, air filter and fuel filter. Extra strain on the engine with dirty oil contributes to excess gas usage. Old spark plugs cause your engine to be less efficient and should be changed every 30,000 miles. An oxygen sensor controls how the air and fuel mix and a faulty one can send excess fuel to the engine. A bad O2 sensor should trigger your check engine light. You can visit a place like U Pull & Pay to find parts for your vehicle.

Driving doesn’t have to cost as much as it does. Reduce your environmental footprint by implementing these five eco-friendly tips, and you’ll be doing your part to care for the environment as you drive.

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!