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All things green, eco-friendly, and seriously sustainable

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Dixie Somers

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Owning an older home can be a wonderful way to enjoy some unique character that simply can’t be found in a newer home. At the same time, it’s rare to find an older home that can operate as efficiently as a newer home, specifically in the area of water conservation. Fortunately, though, while you might not be able to implement every last water-saving device, there are several great and easy ways to save water in your older home.

New Fixtures

If you have an older home, it’s likely that it’s equipped with older plumbing fixtures, as well. Unfortunately, these older fixtures do very little to conserve water. In order to save water, then, you can replace these fixtures, whether it’s a shower head, bathroom faucet, or kitchen faucet, with low-flow models to start seeing savings right away. Just be sure your home’s plumbing can adapt to these newer fixtures, as many have special water pressure requirements that your home may not be equipped for.

Find Leaks

The materials in pipes of any kind inevitably break down over time due to the different substances found in water. Over time, this can lead to leaky pipes, which can waste a lot of water. If your water bill is higher than expected, or if you have a visible leak somewhere, it’s important to call a plumber to complete these plumbing repairs as soon as possible to ensure the water doesn’t cause any damage and you don’t waste any money.

Collect Rainwater

If local ordinances allow, collecting rainwater can be a great way to reduce your water bill. Especially if you can’t install a water-saving irrigation system due to the older construction, collecting rainwater allows you to keep your landscaping well-watered without having to depend on the city water supply. Plus, diverting rainwater in this way helps prevent erosion on your property since the water is being prevented from continuing on to the sewer.

Install a New Toilet

In addition to new plumbing fixtures, a new toilet can be a great water-saving investment for your older home. If your toilet has been around since before 1994, it’s using almost two gallons more per flush than a modern toilet. If you consider how many times a day you use the bathroom, that can add up quickly. Installing a new toilet is a fairly easy and quick process that will more than pay for itself over time.

Be Water Smart

Whether your home is old or new, you can save water using other methods, as well. Turning off the water while brushing your teeth, taking shorter showers, and watering your lawn in the morning or evening to prevent evaporation are all great ways to save water. Ultimately, it’s important to treat water as a precious resource that is worth working to save. With a few easy fixes, it’s an effort that is totally accessible

Dixie Somers

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Eco-friendly living is becoming more popular all the time, and many companies and organizations are coming out with new ways for you to live in an environmentally-conscious way. As climate change and the dearth of natural resources becomes more of a concern all the time, it is becoming increasingly important to embrace eco-friendly living to save resources for future generations. Here are five new technologies that are helping to make this type of living possible in the United States and around the world.

Food Recycling Bins

While you most likely already recycle your plastics, glass, paper and aluminum, you may not be recycling your food. Most food waste can be composted to use as natural and cheap fertilizer for your outdoor gardens. However, rather than having to wait months before using this compost, new food recycling bins speed up the process to take only 24 hours.

Solar Wallpaper

Solar panels mounted on rooftops have been making it big in recent years, but new technology allows solar cells to be mounted on flexible papers. This lets the solar cells be mounted on practically anything, including the sides of building and along curves. They can even be used on mobile items, such as campers.

Footstep Energy

If you are longing to go beyond solar or wind-powered energy, you will be excited to learn about footstep energy. New technology is beginning to pick up on the easy way to gain energy just from the footsteps of humans. Some companies are working with shoes that can do this while others are working to create walking surfaces that can be used as floor tiles in train stations or sidewalks.

Learning Thermostats

While smart thermostats are not new, learning thermostats are new enough that they are not widely found in many people’s homes. However, they can save plenty of money and energy by learning your habits in and out of the home and programming themselves to be most efficient. It takes only a week of use before it goes to work for you.

Resistance Spot Welding

Although welding may not be the most exciting of technologies, it can significantly improve the environment when it is used efficiently because welding is necessary throughout many industrial sectors. Spot welding is far more environmentally clean than traditional welding is because it requires less energy and creates less heat than usual.

New technologies are coming out nearly every day, but not all of them are being designed to benefit the environment. As you purchase new technology for your home, car or workplace, try to choose ones that save the most energy, create new energy or create a healthier earth. Thankfully, because of the increase in interest in eco-friendly living, more companies are focusing on these and other incredible new and beneficial technologies.

Dixie Somers

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As the problem of e-waste looms ever larger in the consciousness of the American public, understanding what to do with those unwanted electronics can still be a bit of a challenge. Fortunately, there are plenty of reputable electronics recyclers where you can take your e-junk. At the same time, there are some important things you should know about recycling your electronics to ensure they end up in the right hands.

Not All Electronics Recyclers Are Created Equal

There are plenty of companies that offer to take your old electronics off your hands. It’s important, though, to understand what happens to those items once they’re carted away. A reputable company, such as Ranch Town Recycling Center Inc., will tear the electronics down to their individual component parts which can then be recycled. A less-reputable company may just sell the electronics in bulk to an overseas processor that will then allow the electronics to pollute the water and land of people in other countries.

Electronics Recycling Is Smart

While it might seem easier to simply send your old electronics to the landfill, that action can cause great harm to the environment. Electronics contain a multitude of harmful chemicals that can leach into the environment, leading to health issues for people down the road. By responsibly recycling your electronics, you ensure that these chemicals stay out of the land and water and that the materials in the electronics are given a new life.

Electronics Recycling Is the Law

In many municipalities, it is illegal to dispose of electronic waste in a landfill. Government leaders understand the data and realize that they don’t want all those toxic materials in the land and water that they, too, use. Some areas have stiff financial penalties if you’re caught improperly disposing of your electronics, so just do yourself and your city a favor and recycle those out-of-date e-devices.

Electronics Recycling Sets You Up for Future Success

Today’s electronic devices are marvels of technical wizardry. At the heart of these devices are various materials, many of which are actually quite rare. If you throw your electronics in the landfill, these materials can never be recovered, meaning they have to continue to be mined with greater and greater difficulty. If you recycle your electronics, however, you help ensure that there is a healthy supply of these materials for generations to come, ensuring that the fast pace of technological innovation can continue.

The World You Leave Behind

If you enjoy the use of electronic devices, chances are that you’ve been dealt at least an okay hand in life. Take the time to do something tangible to ensure the life you’ve gotten to enjoy is the life that future generations can enjoy, as well. Electronics recycling is an easy yet important way to ensure that future generations can enjoy the beautiful and amazing earth that we enjoy today.

Dixie Somers

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Hazardous material (hazmat) refers to everything from household chemicals to fuel or potentially infectious biological substances like medical waste. All hazardous materials must be handled with extra care to ensure the safety of workers and the public. Special regulations have been put in place by state and federal authorities, particularly the DOT and OSHA. Here are some tips to make compliance easier.

Reference for Regulations

These regulations must be followed by manufacturers, shippers, truckers, distributors, and end-use companies, including all employees of the above. Failure to comply can cost you some heavy fines. In the U.S., instructions for handling hazardous goods are covered by the rules outlined in Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). Known as 49 CFR, this set of guidelines covers nine different volumes. Those covering transport fall under Parts 100 through 185. All companies and individuals engaged in hazmat shipping are expected to understand these regulations and follow updates as they occur.

Summary of 49 CFR

The information found here covers:

  1. Description of hazardous materials by class, such as explosives, poisons, radioactive substances, corrosives, and so on.

  2. Types of packaging and containers permitted, and testing procedures for containers, as well as the amount of each hazmat substance allowed per container and in total shipment volume.

  3. Documentation, including shipping manifests, proper labels/placards, and MSDS (material safety data sheets).

  4. Safety and training requirements and equipment.

Staying in Compliance

  • Although you’ll have to follow every 49 CFR requirement, here are some important tips to help avoid mistakes:

  • Use the United Nations 4GV labels when shipping variations on common goods such as lithium batteries.

  • Every container shipped must conform to the exact configurations given for each tested container type, including how it’s sealed.

  • Use leak-proof bags and plenty of absorbent cushioning to minimize the chance of spills and damage. These are required for some materials.

  • Make sure there are thorough declarations of everything in each load.

  • Train employees to earn hazmat certifications and keep up training to ensure those certifications stay current.

Check with Insurers

One way to ensure you’re staying compliant is to check with your insurance carrier and follow their guidelines. Hazmat shipments require insurance by law, and your insurance company will do what they can to help you stay compliant. Experts in hazmat insurance requirements will be experts in 49 CFR shipping requirements. Metropolitan Insurance Service Consultants, for instance, will take the steps necessary to see that you, your truck, and your cargo are protected, including regulatory compliance.

Title 49 was created to protect the environment as well as people. Hazardous spills can have severe and long-lasting effects. For these reasons, failure to comply can involve stiff fines.

Dixie Somers

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Summertime is here again, and as the weather continues to heat up, your utility bills are also rising. This is pretty common, since most other households are also cranking up the air conditioners and using a lot more electricity to keep their home interior temperatures in a comfortable range.

But comfort comes with a price. If you’re looking for ways to stretch your paychecks and lower your utility bills this summer, then check out these five tips for making your home more energy-efficient.

Switch to Energy Star Appliances

One of the best things you can do to lower your utilities is to use appliances and fixtures that are more efficient. The Energy Star program was developed to help consumers identify energy-efficient home appliances that help to reduce the consumption of water and electricity while lowering energy costs.

Now obviously, if your appliances are all working just fine, then it might not make much sense to toss them all and replace them with Energy Star devices. But you should keep in mind that as your appliances wear out and need to be replaced, switching to more efficient machines at that time will save you a good amount of money over the long term.

Use Power Strips

Major appliances that use more energy than needed to get the job done aren’t the only money waster in your home. All of your electronic devices also suck up a lot of electricity just by being plugged in, even when they aren’t turned on! To reduce these energy leaks, make sure that they are all plugged into power strips that can easily be turned off when not in use.

Give Your HVAC System a Tune Up

Your central air conditioner can also waste a lot of power and money if it isn’t working efficiently. Over time, parts can begin to work loose, and the vibrations can cause your unit to wear out faster. Not only that, but the hoses, vents, ducts and filters can become clogged with heavy use, and this can cause the unit to strain more as it works to cool down your home.

So it’s a good idea to call in an HVAC company like Aggressive Mechanical Contractors, Inc. every few years to give your system an overhaul and get everything working as efficiently as possible.

Add Window Tint, Blinds and Curtains

In the cold winter months, sunlight coming in through your windows is a welcome sight, as the additional warmth helps to regulate your temperature and reduce the load on your central heating system. But in the summertime, all that extra heat just drives your electric bill up.

So now is a good time to install heavy drapes and blinds on all your windows to block out the heat of the sun. Many homeowners also opt to have tinted film applied to the windows, just like you would do with a car. That tint reduces the heat and also adds a little extra privacy to make it more difficult for people outside to see inside your home, especially during the day.

Replace Weather Stripping to Reduce Drafts

Lastly, replacing weather stripping around your exterior doors and windows can also help bring down your cooling bill by keeping the cold air from escaping. It’s an easy job that you can do yourself, and the stripping itself is very cheap. You just buy a roll at the local hardware store, rip off the old stripping and stick on the new strips.

Reducing your electric bill in the summer is a great idea, and it doesn’t have to be complicated. Follow these five tips to keep your home a little cooler and to eliminate energy waste and watch how quickly your utility bills come down compared to the same time last year.

Dixie Somers

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Steel as a building material is growing in popularity, even for residential structures. It’s actually become trendy for its variety of options, speed and ease of construction, durability, and a number of environmental benefits. If you’re an eco-friendly buyer looking to build a new home, here are five good reasons why steel is the best ecological choice in green building design.

Lower Energy Costs

As one of the strongest construction materials, steel homes can support much denser layers of insulation that traditional wooden frames that tend to absorb moisture and warp over time. It’s much easier for your HVAC system to maintain indoor temperatures, saving you money on every electric bill.

Reduced Waste

In steel construction, every piece of the structure is normally pre-measured and pre-fabricated to fit neatly together. This eliminates all the wasted material that accumulates as wooden joists and 2x4s are cut to the proper length and angle. This makes for both efficient construction and less scrap, since there’s very little clean-up to do.

Weather-Resistant

Structural steel from companies like Ashley Savage is not only stronger but more durable than wood. Special coatings may be used to make the surface of steel beams even harder and more resistant to rust or corrosion. They also are better able to withstand the stresses of high winds, flooding, fire, or earthquakes than wooden or even concrete structures. A quality steel construction can last much longer than traditional wood in regions where these conditions occur.

Environmentally Safe

Steel does not absorb moisture and does not allow harmful growths like mold, fungus, or mildew that pose health risks to your family. It also lowers the chances of insect or rodent infestations compared to wood. Steel is almost completely recyclable long after wood has dried out or rotted away.

Meets Green Building Standards

Steel homes are better able to satisfy modern standards for green home construction. These are determined by the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) criteria. You can be confident that your steel home will be healthier, safer, and longer-lasting than the typical home built today. As demand for green construction rises, steel homes are also poised to offer better resale value as well as tax and insurance credits.

Homes with modern steel frames have many advantages but few of the drawbacks of conventional wooden homes. Steel is efficient, affordable, and low-maintenance, making it the right choice for new construction.

Dixie Somers

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When you are the owner or manager of a company, you will want to use environmentally friendly methods to dispose of waste. Here are some ways to implement a plan to get rid of various types of waste in a way that won’t harm the earth’s air, water or soil.

Schedule a Consultation with an Environmental Expert

If you don’t know how to throw waste away in the appropriate ways, then have a consultation with an environmental expert. A knowledgeable environmentalist can create a plan for your company after walking through its buildings to see what type of waste is made by your manufacturing and office processes.

Develop a Written Plan for Your Company’s Waste

You should develop a written plan for the disposal of the various types of waste made by your workers and machinery. This can take time because you must understand how much waste there is and when it is made. With a written plan, you will understand where your problems are concerning waste such as having a lot of paper and cardboard to get rid of or having dangerous chemicals that can pollute natural waterways.

Are You Recycling Cardboard, Wood and Paper?

Today, it is possible to recycle almost any type of material, and in many cases, you can make a profit from recycling certain items. Rather than only throwing trash into dumpsters, learn how you can bundle cardboard, wood and paper for pick up by companies that offer you money for the items. By completing a search on the internet, you can find an assortment of recycling plants in your city so that you can save money and the environment.

Contact Scrap Metal Services

Scrap metal is one of the items that you can make a profit from by collecting it correctly in dumpsters or wastebaskets so that it is accepted for cash. By recycling metal, you are protecting the earth from the damages of additional mining along with the pollution made by trucks transporting metal ore to smelting plants. Scrap metal services buy a variety of types of metal, including copper, steel or brass.

Filter Your Company’s Wastewater

Filtering your company’s wastewater can save the environment, and in many geographic locations, you must remove chemicals and pathogens from the water that your company disposes. Using industrial-strength filtering devices is one of the best ways to clean wastewater, so contact a company that designs water-filtering systems.

Create a New Plan Once a Year

Once a year, you should create a new plan for disposing of waste, making sure to follow the guidelines that are required by local and federal government agencies. Consider creating a proper initiative by announcing any changes that will be done and getting employees involved. This will help get your company on the same page and get them excited to save the company money while saving the environment.

Dixie Somers

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One of the keys to operating a successful farm is to maintain the integrity of your water sources and irrigation systems. With levels of pollution on the rise—even in isolated, rural areas—accessing clean water is more important than ever. Below are five tips you can use to protect your farm’s water sources and plumbing lines.

City and County Water Lines

Most local water utilities are strictly regulated to provide clean water to the communities they serve, both in the cities and out in the farming communities like yours too. So most farmers will find these to be the best choice.

But while most county water sources are safe, there have been notable exceptions in the news over the years. If your local water provider has a poor quality reputation, or if you simply prefer to source your own water, there are alternatives. But you’ll still need to follow local regulations concerning the collection of water.

Install Your Own Well and Pump

After acquiring the necessary permits, you can drill your own well to provide water for your farm. Keep in mind that groundwater is not always as clean as it was in the past. This is because many farming communities have experienced ground and water pollution. So be sure to have your ground water tested for impurities and toxins by a company like Action Well & Pump Repair. If it tests clear, then you’ll be in good shape, as having your own well and pump can provide your farm with all the water it needs for years to come.

Keep Water Catchment System Clean

In some areas, water catchment systems might also be used to collect rainwater. While these are becoming less common, they still meet a need in many rural communities. If you have a catchment system, it’s important to keep it well maintained year round. Be sure that all filtration systems and UV light systems are maintained per the manufacturer’s specs, and you should have all catchment gutters and surfaces cleaned regularly.

Reduce Use of Pesticides

Reducing or eliminating the use of pesticides is the only sustainable practice for ensuring clean water for future generations. Pesticides work down into the soil and build up layer after layer as the seasons pass. Water from rain and irrigation systems can then push the pollutants down into the groundwater supplies, so this can be problematic as the years go by and the pollution levels accumulate. But your commitment to organic farming can help to reverse that trend.

Properly Maintain Plumbing and Sewage Systems

All water lines need to be maintained and repaired regularly to keep your water clean and safe. This is especially true if you have a home or living quarters on your farm for your family or workers. Corroded pipes add impurities into the water, and leaks allow pollutants from the soil surrounding the pipes to work into the water supply as well. So repairing leaky or corroded pipes is essential.

Keeping your water clean is important for your farm, as the quality of your crops depends on the quality of your water and soil. Follow these five tips to reduce pollution and protect the integrity of your irrigation systems to provide pure water for your crops year round.

Dixie Somers

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Water is one of the most precious and limited resources that we utilize. At the same time, it is one of the most necessary resources, being used for drinking, cooking, washing, going to the bathroom, and other essential tasks of everyday life. With so much at stake, then, it’s important to try and conserve water whenever possible, to ensure there’s plenty available, both now and in the future. Here are a few ways that plumbing can be environmentally friendly.

Low-Flow Fixtures

A standard shower head uses around 2.5 gallons of water a minute. Across the U.S., this adds up to over 1.2 trillion gallons of water a year that’s used for showering. By utilizing a low-flow shower head, you can reduce water consumption for showers by at least 20% and often more. This may not sound like all that much, but when you’re talking about over a trillion gallons, even a 20% reduction adds up to billions of gallons of water saved.

Water-Saving Toilets

Another major water user in the home is the toilet. Fortunately, most homes have been converted to using toilets that use 1.6 gallons per flush, down from the 3+ gallons of older toilets. However, newer toilets that are WaterSense certified utilize only 1.25 gallons per flush or less. This isn’t to say that a toilet should be replaced simply for the lower water consumption, as that is a waste of resources, as well. However, if a toilet is in need of replacement, it’s a great opportunity to reduce water consumption within a home.

Warm Pipes

The pipes in your home or business often run through areas that are uninsulated. This can cause problems when warm water is running through pipes located in cold wall cavities. The energy that is lost can lead to higher water usage and more energy used to heat the water. Fortunately, easy-to-use pipe insulation kits are available to allow you to keep the pipes nice and warm, no matter the weather. The insulation fits easily around the pipes, then seals to provide a tight fit. This prevents you from having to insulate large cavities or rooms that wouldn’t be cost-effective to insulate as a whole.

Leak Monitors

Unseen leaks can cost you hundreds of dollars a year in wasted water. If you have leak detectors in strategic points throughout your home, however, you can detect these leaks early on to prevent them from wasting water and causing damage to your property. Many leak detectors can be linked to your smartphone to quickly alert you to any potential issues.

Quick and Easy

One of the best ways to “go green” when it comes to water consumption is simply to intentionally work to reduce your normal consumption. This might mean shorter showers, fewer loads of laundry, or less watering your lawn. Whatever the case, the environmental and financial benefits which result from these efforts will certainly be worth it in the long run. Contact a plumbing company like Jim Dhamer Plumbing and Sewer, Inc. for more information and tips on your specific situation.

Dixie Somers

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As summer comes creeping up, the question on many homeowners’ minds at this time of year is how can they save water at home this summer—and all year long? The first place to start is to simply make sure that everyone in your household is more conscious about the water they use during daily activities such as brushing teeth, showering, washing hands before meals and washing the car.

By shutting the faucet off during the activity, you can save quite a bit right there. But beside reducing waste, what else can be done? Here are four ideas that can help.

Use Landscaping Techniques That Save Water

One easy way to cut down on your family’s water usage is to address the problem outdoors. Lawns and flower gardens are notorious water hogs, and many people in drought-prone states simply let them die during the summer and then start watering them again in the fall. But there are other options. You could replace your foliage with low-maintenance landscaping. Astroturf, rock gardens and other desert landscaping features can create a beautiful front or back yard that requires little or no water all year round.

Install Water-Efficient Fixtures

WIth the outside taken care of, now you can turn your attention to the inside of your home. Water fixtures in the kitchen, bathroom and bar can all be changed out and replaced with ones that use much less water. Your toilet, shower head and kitchen faucet are all prime targets. By replacing these with low-flow water fixtures, you could easily reduce your water usage by 20 to 30 percent.

Fix All Leaky Faucets and Handles

You could go all out and put the latest water-saving shower heads in all your bathrooms, and it won’t do you any good if your shower handle is broken and causing your faucet to leak around the clock. So make sure that you fix those leaky fixtures inside and outside your home as soon as possible. A single drippy faucet may not seem like much, but it’s slowly losing you money over time.

Switch to a More Efficient Water Heater

You can also save a ton of water every year by changing out your old water heater for a newer, more efficient one. Sometimes all you need is to downgrade the size of your tank. But you can also go with a tankless water heater to push the savings even further.

Saving water around the house doesn’t have to be complicated or painful. You don’t have to start showering together or anything crazy like you sometimes see on TV. By implementing these four water-saving strategies you can easily reduce your family’s water bill by a significant amount.

Dixie Somers

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Everyone who lives off the grid has their own reasons for doing so. It might be political, economical, environmental or some other reason. But whatever your motivation for choosing this lifestyle, there are a few basic ideas that you need to get straight in order to make this successful for you and your family. Texas is a great place to live off the grid. Below are four things you must have to live comfortably in this way.

Food

For many people, living off the grid and homesteading is a very attractive way of life, and living off the land is one of the best parts of that lifestyle. You’re going to want to grow your own fruits and vegetables, and you’ll probably raise your own livestock for meat as well.

You can start small with a vegetable garden and a few fruit trees and supplement these with eggs for protein by having a henhouse with a handful of hens and a rooster. This is enough to get you started, but you can upgrade as you go, depending on your land and space available.

Water

Water will be your greatest concern in some parts of Texas, especially during the sweltering months of summer. An ideal location would have running water coming through your land as a stream or river, but these can be difficult parcels to come across. If you’re looking to buy a modern home that is already built, then search homes for sale in rural areas and check Google maps to look at water features in the region.

If you don’t have running water you can try drilling a well to pump your own water. You’ll need the proper permits and licenses, so check your local ordinances to stay in compliance and avoid unnecessary hassles. You can also collect rainwater by setting up a catchment system and water tank to store it during the dryer seasons. Make sure to have UV systems to kill bacteria and filters in place between your tank and your home. You can also install fixtures within the home that have filters attached.

Electricity

To get your electricity off grid, you’ll need solar panels, a wind turbine or a combination of both. Your particular set up will depend on your area and what kind of wind you’re able to get. Also keep in mind that some regulations might prevent you from having a tall wind turbine, so double check that before you purchase anything.

Waste Management

For sanitary reasons, you’re going to need to install some kind of waste management system. It doesn’t necessarily have to be very complicated, but again you will need to comply with local ordinances. You can install a cesspool or septic tank in the ground, and this will probably be fine for most families.

The decision to live off grid is not one to be taken lightly. There’s a lot of preparation that you’ll need to do in order to live comfortably and to avoid any tangles with local government. By doing your homework and following the rules in your area you can get yourself set up with a wonderful property, a beautiful home and a sustainable lifestyle that you will enjoy for years to come.

Dixie Somers

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As a farmer, you are much more in tune with your impact on the environment and with the natural rhythms of nature. So it’s not surprising that you want to take steps to make your farm more environmentally friendly. Below are three ways you can go green as you run your farming business.

Use Solar and Wind Generators

One great way to reduce fossil fuel use and reduce pollution is to use less traditionally supplied electricity and to take your power needs off grid. Solar panels can be setup either on rooftops of buildings on your farm or right along the ground itself, making a section of your property a kind of solar farm. Electricity generated will then be stored in multiple battery units which can then give power throughout your complex.

Likewise, wind turbines can be set up to produce electricity around the clock, whenever the wind is blowing. Combining wind and solar generators is a great way to supply all the power you could possibly need.

Install Your Own Well or Water Catchment System

Beside power, water usage is another ecological concern for farmers going green. You need to have adequate water for your crops, but some regions make it difficult and limit your access to the shared water supply. Drilling your own well on your property can be a good solution, but it can be pricey. You can also set up a water catchment and storage tower for rainwater.

To reduce overall water usage, you can also try using drip irrigation systems. These use a system of rubber tubing that carries water to all your crops with less runoff. This is an excellent option for areas subject to drought.

Avoid Pesticide Use

Lastly, another great way to make your farm more eco-friendly is to stop using pesticides as much as possible. Organic farming isn’t just a trend. It is truly the best way to build a sustainable future and protect land resources for future generations.

But organic farming means more than simply not spraying your crops with pesticides. You should also use organic crop production fertilizer. Many fertilizers contain pesticides and other pollutants themselves, so using them on your fields will just defeat the whole purpose of trying to switch to organic farming in the first place. And in order to sell your crops as organic, you’ll need to follow strict regulatory guidelines to prevent inaccurate labeling of the products.

Going green is a smart decision for farmers today, as it is a vital part of sustainable farming practices needed in the world. To make your farm more environmentally safe, take the initiative and invest in solar and wind power, independent water sourcing and conservation and organic farming methods.

Dixie Somers

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More and more companies, from the largest to the smallest, are concerned with “going green.” Some of this is in response to worker and consumer pressure and the desirability of marketing to environmentally concerned customers and attracting educated innovative workers who tend to be concerned about the environment. In some countries, carbon pricing affects the bottom line and there are increasingly strict regulations concerning everything from emissions to use of potentially toxic chemicals. Perhaps the two most important reasons for going green, though, are saving money and corporate social responsibility.

Paper Products

Management gurus have been predicting the advent of the paperless office since the introduction of computers in the 1960s. Most companies still use massive amounts of paper. Two simple steps you can take to reduce your environmental footprint are recycling and using paper products manufactured with post-consumer waste. Make it easy for employees to recycle by placing dedicated paper recycling bins near every work space. The Environmental Paper Network has a paper calculator that shows you the environmental impacts of different paper choices.

Lighting

Lighting is one of the easiest ways for a company to save energy. Replacing older fixtures with LED lighting helps the environment in two ways. First, it saves energy and second, LED bulbs need to be replaced less frequently than many other types and thus contribute less to the waste stream. Rather than relying on individual employees to turn off lights, install motion sensors to ensure that you are not wasting money and energy lighting empty rooms.

Energy Sources

Using renewable energy sources is an important element of going green. Installing solar panels on a roof or buying energy from renewable sources are two important ways to ensure a high percentage of renewable energy and potential cost savings. Some large organizations invest in wind turbines to generate their own energy and save money.

Solar Parking Lots

In areas with substantial amounts of sunshine, solar canopies in parking lots are an innovation that provides substantial amounts of green energy while keeping employees’ cars cool in hot summer months. Solar parking lots also make a strong and stylish visual statement concerning your commitment to renewable energy.

Green Chemicals

Many companies are moving to using green chemicals in many processes from cleaning rest rooms to advanced manufacturing. To maximize the environmental benefits in chemical use, study your complete chemical supply inventory to see whether components can be replaced with greener equivalents. Managing your inventory closely, perhaps using just-in-time supply chains, can reduce wastage, helping the environment and your bottom line. You can also visit a company like Seidler Chemical for help in this regard.

The Environmental Bottom Line

Greening your business benefits all possible stakeholders. Employees, especially those with chemical sensitivities and other medical conditions, benefit from a greener work setting. Society as a whole benefits from preserving our environmental. The company and shareholders profit from attracting environmentally concerned customers and employees and saving many by conserving energy.

Dixie Somers

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Greening up home lighting is fun! With advancements in eco-friendly technology, you have many elegant and modern designs from which to choose. Moreover, your conscience smiles, knowing you’re sparing our Earth from demise. Here are five options available to you.

Replace Incandescent Bulbs with CFLs

Compact fluorescent lamps or CFLs resemble swirly soft-serve ice cream cones. Essentially, they’re coiled versions of long-tube fluorescent lights. CFLs consume roughly one-third the electricity of incandescent lighting. While they cost more than conventional bulbs, CFLs last ten times longer. Since they emit less heat, they’ll reduce your cooling costs during summer.

CFLs are compatible with most existing fixtures and come in a range of colors. Their average lifespan is 10,000 hours, paying for themselves at about the 500-hour mark.

Buy CFLs featuring the Energy Star logo, a symbol issued by the Environmental Protection Agency. The logo signifies that a product is energy-efficient, saving a significant amount of power on a nationwide scale.

The only drawback to CFLs is that they contain small amounts of mercury. Still, they’re approved for use by the U.S. Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.

Discard old CFLs by bringing them to your neighborhood recycling or home improvement center. If you don’t have one, ask your local waste management facility for how to safely dispose them. Alternatively, contact Earth911, a source of recycling information, at 1-800-CLEANUP.

Invest in LEDs

Even more eco-friendly than CFLs are light emitting diodes. Lasting at least 25,000 hours, LEDs use 75 percent less energy than incandescent lights. Additionally, LEDs are mercury-free and emit virtually no heat. These merits do come at a higher price than incandescent bulbs. However, since LEDs last up to 25 times longer, you’ll ultimately save money.

LEDs employ unique technology. They use semiconductors to convert electricity to light, similar to traffic lights. Sold in a range of colors, LEDs are highly versatile.

Use them in small track lighting, recessed fixtures, under-cabinet kitchen lighting, and outdoor lights. For closets, cabinets, and pantries, affix LED stick-on lights, powered by rechargeable batteries. Preferably, buy Energy Star-certified LEDs.

Tip: To amplify illumination, decorate with reflective surfaces, such as mirrors and glass panels.

Conserve Light

Swap existing light switches with dimmers. Both CFLs and LEDs are available with dimming features. Also, buy motion-activated lamps. Upon entering a room, a sensor will detect your presence, and turn on the light. After a programmed period of no movement, the light will automatically turn itself off. For outdoor use, install flood lights with motion and daylight sensors. LED lights are typically used with sensing devices.

Use Eco-friendly Light Fixtures

When shopping for new light fixtures, look for those displaying Energy Star labels. You’ll find a comprehensive range of styles, including track, accent, vanity, ceiling fan, lamp, chandelier, under cabinet, and outdoor. Some are made of recycled or recyclable materials. Also available are fixtures with dimming and sensing features, powered by CFL and LED bulbs. Alternatively, shop for fixtures constructed with eco-friendly materials, such as:

·         recycled Steel

·         reclaimed Shell

·         bamboo

·         recycled Glass

·         FSC-certified Wood

Fixtures with the FSC logo are certified by the Forest Stewardship Council. This symbol indicates that the wood is sourced from either post-consumer waste or sustainable forests.

Mount Skylights

Picture lighting up your home with golden rays of sunshine! Skylights will improve your home’s comfort, appearance, and energy efficiency. Their passive solar heating saves money during winter. When ventilated during summer, they protect rooms from overheating. Following are design factors to consider when installing a roof-mounted window.

·         Orientation. If you live in a warm climate, position the window on the north side of your roof. If your region tends to be cool, choose a south-facing location. An east-facing skylight yields morning light and warmth. A west orientation will maximize afternoon sun and solar heat.

·         Panes. HomeAdvisor reports that choosing double panes over single can reduce heat loss through the window by 15 percent. Dual panes have two glass layers separated by air or gas.

·         Coating. Buy glass with a “low-e coating.” This is a thin invisible metal sheet, overlaying the glass. This feature cuts heat loss during winter and reduces summer warmth. E-coatings also shield your home from ultraviolet light. Over time, UV light can discolor or fade furniture, carpet, photographs, and artwork. E-coatings differ by climate.

·         Frames. Choose Insulated Wooden Frames, Rather than Steel or Aluminum

·         Ventilation. Since warmth rises, skylights are best ventilated during summer. Venting can be achieved with a screen or louvers, operated by crank, chain, or remote control.

·         Energy Star. According to Recyclebank, Energy Star-certified skylights cut power consumption by at least 40 percent over conventional skylights.

Install Solar Lights

You have two design options for solar lights: landscape and rooftop domes. Since they’re powered by the sun, the light they supply is free.

Landscape

These lights make walkways safer to navigate. They also deter burglars. Fully charged, they can supply up to 15 hours of illumination, the number varying by season. Summer days yield lengthier time frames than shorter winter days. Clouds also reduce solar charge. Ideal bulbs for landscape lights are LEDs, performing well in cold conditions.

For maximal power, landscape lights must receive direct sunlight during daytime. Situate them away from outside light sources, such as streetlights. Otherwise, their light will prevent the solar panels from activating.

After installation, you may need to keep the lights off for a couple of days, using the switches. The “off” position enables the solar panel to fully charge, storing power. Be sure to read the instructions for required charging time. Batteries for outdoor solar lights have an average lifespan of two years.

Rooftop Domes

A skylight variation is the solar tube, also called a “light pipe” and “sun tube.” These small domes channel sunlight into home interiors. Sun tubes deliver light and solar warmth, without the heat loss and gain of window skylights. Solar tubes cost less than window skylights and are easier to install.

Inquire about Rebates and Incentives from Your Electric Company

According to Philips Lighting, 3,000 utilities exist in the US, each with their own rebate programs. Frequently, rebates are offered for lamps, fixtures, ballasts, and controls. Some utilities refund money for the purchase of Energy Star-certified LED lights.

With a “prescriptive rebate,” you’re reimbursed a certain amount for each lamp or fixture you replace. Installing a skylight or solar tube may also qualify you for a government rebate.  Contact a company like Gosling Electrical Service if you have questions

Green Lights

Now you have five ways to “greenify” your lighting, indoors and out. Begin by replacing your incandescent bulbs with CFLs and LEDs. Install dimmers and sensors, activated by motion or low light. Use fixtures made with eco-friendly materials, such as bamboo, reclaimed shell, recycled steel and glass, and FSC-certified wood.

Flood your home with sunshine! Invite the sun to power skylights, light pipes, and outdoor solar lights. Whenever possible, buy Energy Star-certified products. Then, see if your investments entitle you to rebates.

With all these earth-friendly upgrades, your home will virtually smile!

Dixie Somers

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You are thinking about getting a new roof for your home. It has been many years since your roof has been redone. You want to do your part to be green, and yet you want to operate well within budget. While these two goals are not always easy to appease at the same time, in the case of getting an eco-friendly roof, you may have a few options at your disposal. The following are some ideas to consider when looking into an eco-friendly roof.

A Simple Approach

An eco-friendly roof to consider is a white roof. Sometimes referred to as a cool roof, the idea of a white roof is that it is white to reflect the sun’s rays. Since it reflects, rather than absorbs, the sun’s rays, a white roof can help to keep your home cool. This will be echo-friendly in the sense that it keeps you from needing to waste energy to cool your home. And if the material is white metal, this would have a low impact on the environment given the lifespan of a metal roof compared to roofing materials that were not eco-friendly at all. Such a roof would also last you many decades on average. A metal roof will simply hold up far better than a typical shingle roof will tend to do.

Add on a Roof Overhang

When it comes to the idea of an eco-friendly roof, you may not need to actually change the roof you have—especially if your current roof is not in utter disrepair. If you want to cool your home and save energy, you can consider adding roof overhangs as an extension to your preexisting roof. Overhangs can supply a house with loads of shade from the sun and help to cut costs along the way.

Installing Your Eco-Friendly Roof

When it comes to installing your eco-friendly roof, it will be a good idea to work with a roofing company like Seagate Roofing and Foundations. Installing this type of roof is as important of a consideration as choosing the materials that go into its construction. Most roofing companies can do the job in a reasonably short timeframe. But, short is not always what you want in a roofing project—especially if you are working with certain materials that need to be handled in a careful manner.

Conclusion

All kinds of materials exist to help in the search for an eco-friendly roof. You just need to have an idea as to how long you want your roof to last. You will need to know if spending the money on such a roof will benefit you in the area of energy savings over the long term.

Dixie Somers

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When you have a clogged drain in your home, your first instinct might be to rush out and buy a chemical drain cleaner to fix the problem. While these products do work when they are used as directed, they include harsh chemicals that are bad for the environment and your plumbing. Instead of caustic drain cleaners, consider some of these eco-friendly solutions instead.

Baking Soda and Vinegar

Baking soda is a base and vinegar is an acid. When the two substances are mixed together, they cause a chemical reaction that can bubble up through your drain and dislodge clogs. To unclog your drain using this method, pour ¾ cup dry baking soda down the clogged drain and follow it up with ½ cup vinegar. Immediately plug the drain with a rag or stopper to contain the resulting reaction, and wait about 30 minutes. Unplug the drain after 30 minutes, and slowly pour some boiling water down the drain to wash away anything that may be left to clog your drain.

Salt and Vinegar

Vinegar also makes a good eco-friendly drain cleaner when combined with salt. Mix one cup of vinegar and one cup of salt well enough so that the salt soaks up the vinegar. If you wish, you can add ½ cup of lemon juice to the resulting paste if you want to give it some extra cleaning power, but it’s not necessary. The abrasiveness of the salt and the cleaning power of the vinegar should clear out your drain. Follow it up with some boiling water to wash away whatever’s left.

Boiling Water and Dish Soap

If you have a kitchen sink clogged with grease, some boiling water and dish soap might be able to unplug it. Simply squirt a generous amount of soap down the drain and pour a kettle of boiling water after it. The soap should break apart the grease, and the boiling water should wash it away. To prevent clogs in your kitchen sink try doing this once a week.

A Plunger and Snake

Of course, you can always attempt to unclog a drain with a plunger and plumbing snake you have in your home. A plunger should make a tight seal around a drain and allow you to suction out whatever is keeping it clogged, while a barbed plastic plumbing snake will be able to go down the drain and either loosen the clog or pull it out altogether. These are simple solutions, but sometimes they work out the best.

These are just a few ways you can unclog a drain without resorting to harsh chemicals. As always, don’t hesitate to contact a plumber from a company like Moody Plumbing Inc if the clog is too stubborn. A plumber will have the tools and techniques to clear out clogs that you cannot.

Dixie Somers

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Lawnmowers may be a lot smaller than cars, but that doesn’t stop them from releasing noxious fumes into the environment and contributing to greenhouse gas emissions. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, emissions from lawnmowers, leaf vacuums, snow blowers, and other outdoor power equipment are a significant source of air pollution. This is bad news for the eco-conscious homeowner, but there are eco-friendly lawnmower options available that aim to reduce fume emissions. In addition to being better for the environment, eco-friendly lawnmowers are also quieter than traditional mowers and often times, cheaper to run. Is an eco-friendly lawnmower the best option for you? Read below to find out more.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Around 5% of the United States’ greenhouse gas emissions come from gas lawnmowers. Considering the size of a traditional lawnmower, this is a huge percentage. Electric lawnmowers, on the other hand, generate no toxic tailpipe emissions and run on lithium-ion batteries. Gas mowers emit carbon monoxide and unburned hydrocarbons, which is bad for both the environment and the humans who breathe it in. Electric mowers keep the air clean and make a lot less noise, too. Visit a company like Cox Mowers to see if you can find a model that fits your needs best.

Energy Consumption and Cost

Most electric mowers are slightly more expensive than gas mowers, but cost less to run in the long run. The typical electric lawnmower can mow about one third of an acre with one charge. They need about 3.5 kilowatts to recharge, which equates to about $0.38 per recharge if the electricity rate is $.11 per kilowatt hour. While the price of gas can vary, a typical gas lawnmower will cost about $4.00 to $5.00 per acre. If you have a larger yard, the savings of an electric mower can be substantial.

Electric lawnmowers need to recharge, which can be a downside for some. You can decide to purchase a replacement battery to swap with the other battery, which can make things easier. However, you will have the added cost of the extra battery and you’ll need to make sure you keep both batteries charged.

Where to Buy a Lawnmower

There are several good places to buy both eco-friendly and gas lawnmowers. Home Depot, Lowes, and Sears offer a variety of lawnmowers that will appeal to the eco-conscious homeowner. Online stores carry both gas and electric mowers. Some companies also carry environmentally friendly push mowers for those that prefer a simple, cost-effective lawnmower.

Dixie Somers

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Many are commonly unaware of how easily our water sources and surrounding environments can become contaminated by dirty water. Humans survive through the consumption and use of fresh clean water on a daily basis. Without properly filtered water to drink and bathe with, everyday life would be completely altered, if it continued to exist at all. Below are some ways that eco-friendly technologies like Econocycle affect wastewater for the better.

What Is Wastewater?

Any water that has been affected by human use is considered wastewater. Wastewater can come from domestic homes, commercial and industrial facilities. Any time you flush your toilet at home or hear the dishes being washed at your favorite restaurant, wastewater is being produced. Any tainted water coming from schools, hospitals, office buildings and farms is classified as wastewater. Most wastewater usually has a high composition of chemicals and toxins in which runoff into larger bodies of water. It is even possible for some of this dirty wastewater to find its way into your drinking water. Although most wastewater is filled with toxins and contaminants, graywater is clean enough to be used for things like watering plants.

What Is Graywater?

Different from highly polluted water, graywater is any kind of domestic wastewater aside from sewage. The difference between graywater and sewage (or blackwater) is its organic makeup. Being loaded with materials like food, yard, and human waste, blackwater holds to be much more organic thanks to its sources compared to that of graywater. Some sources of graywater include sinks, showers/baths, washing machines and dishwashers. All of which do not include fecal contaminants making the wastewater they produce much cleaner than that of toilets and industrial factories. Thankfully there is technology available making wastewater and graywater treatment feasible.

Wastewater Technologies

There are countless tools and techniques out there that help sustain the flow of clean filtrated water. Screening and floatation are great methods for commercial industries to use for water cleansing purposes. The initial investment for a proper wastewater purification system can provide organizations like hospitals can be sure they never run out of clean water for their patients. Not to mention the benefits one of these systems offers the environment. Constant upkeep on contaminated water leads to the release of strictly clean water back into the natural water cycle. Rather than disposing of chemically infected water in the backyard of their buildings, businesses can fulfill their social responsibility and help keep a clean and healthy environment. Thankfully these technologies are also available in your home!

How Can You Help?

By installing an effective home sewage system, you would be decreasing the decay of the natural environment around your home. Designed to treat wastewater left off from regular household and commercial activities. It is important to remember that some states even have certain waste discharge standards as well. Thankfully to your benefit, waste cleansing systems help regulate contamination of water.

While adding to the welfare of the environment a proper wastewater care system can go a long way. Commonly used in the business world, it should be known that home filtration systems could be incredibly beneficial. Staying Eco-friendly saves you money and keeps your surrounding area free of toxic contamination. As result, this can only help you prosper in the business world or live comfortably and healthy at home.

Dixie Somers

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A well-maintained furnace should last for 15 or 20 years, but there will come a point when this important piece of equipment needs to be replaced entirely. Choosing the perfect model is going to keep your energy bills at a reasonable level during the coldest months of the year. These few tips and tricks will help you find a great high-efficiency furnace for your home.

Determining the Right Size

Residential furnaces come in many different sizes, and choosing the wrong size could end up costing you quite a bit of money. As a general rule, homes that are in cooler climates should have furnaces that produce around 40 BTUs of energy per square foot of living space. In a moderate or warm climate, those BTUs can be halved. A local HVAC contractor can help you decide what size furnace your home needs.

Choosing a System Type

Most homes have split HVAC systems, but you might be using a packaged HVAC system if your home is smaller or there is limited indoor space. A split system has an outdoor condensing unit that is attached to an indoor furnace and coil. Packaged systems, on the other hand, have a single outdoor unit that houses all of that equipment in one place. No matter which type of system you decide on, you will most likely want to go with a furnace that runs off natural gas instead of propane or electricity.

Understanding Efficiency Ratings

Many of the most popular furnace models are given an annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE) rating before they are released to the public. This rating is determined by how much fuel is converted into usable heat every year. A furnace will generally be classified as energy-efficient if it has a rating above 90 percent. Those models use much less energy, but they are also a bigger initial investment.

A Look at Maintenance Costs

The durability of the furnace is another important variable to consider. Before purchasing a furnace, you should take a look at some third-party reviews to see which units seem to be the most reliable. Almost every homeowner will need to contact a furnace repair company like HomeSmart from Xcel Energy at least a few times over the years, but those emergency visits should be relatively rare.

Once your new furnace has been installed, you must keep it well-maintained if you want it to last for more than a decade. Most experts agree that modern furnaces should be serviced by a professional contractor at least once every six months to prevent serious damage and efficiency issues.

Dixie Somers

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Though there’s many aspects to being a healthcare administrator, one aspect that isn’t often discussed while you’re earning your master’s degree in health administration is how to make your facility more eco-friendly. However, pushing your facility toward a more “green” future can have a big impact in customer satisfaction, budget management, and even employee morale. Here are a few ways to help your facility have a smaller impact on the planet. Read on to learn more!

Recycle

Though a lot of the waste that your facility produces can’t be recycled since it is contaminated, recycling the portion that is available can lower your trash bill and even provide some income through raw materials purchasers who purchase some of your recyclables in bulk. The easiest way to promote a successful recycling program is to have bins available throughout your facility to make it easy for people to participate in the program. If people have to expend any extra effort over simply throwing something away, it’s unlikely the program will be very successful.

Utilize Alternative Energy

As of the third quarter of 2014, about 1,354 megawatts of solar power were being generated throughout the United States. This figure was 41% higher than the year before. This suggests that solar power is becoming more accessible for more people. As a healthcare administrator, it’s likely that you’re in charge of a fairly sprawling facility, making your facility a perfect candidate to utilize solar power. The upfront costs can be high in many cases, but with a facility of your size, the costs will be quickly recouped.

Lower Power Usage

A healthcare facility requires a lot of power to maintain a safe and stable environment for patients. Anything ,then, that can be done to lower power consumption will have a big impact on your facility’s bottom line. Consider first those components of your facility that are deployed on a large scale, such as computers and lights, and begin with programs to ensure those utilize less energy.

This may mean adjusting settings on computers to put them to sleep sooner, replacing incandescent bulbs with LED variants, or something entirely different that makes sense for your facility. Whatever the case, most changes to utilize less energy are fairly simple fixes that can have a major impact.

Use Less Paper

If there’s one thing any healthcare facility is known for, it’s the mountains of paperwork that are required to ensure it operates effectively. From patient records to discharge papers to charting paperwork, so much of how you take care of those under your care depends on paper. By transitioning some of these functions to electronic versions, you will quickly notice a sharp reduction in your paper usage. Not only that, but electronic records make information easily available across the facility, as well as allowing patients to interact with their records once they’ve gone home.

Be Aware

So much of what goes on in a healthcare facility is based on rigid procedures that are in place to ensure the safety of the patients. While procedures are important, understanding why these procedures exist and then analyzing them to see if they can be done more efficiently are the best ways to help your facility operate more efficiently. One thing’s for sure: if you keep doing things the same way, you can’t expect anything to change. If you desire to see change, though, you’re going to have to do some things differently.

Dixie Somers

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Everyone today wants to find some ways to save money and stretch their paychecks just a little bit further. One of the best ways to do this is by lowering your monthly electric bill. Below are five ways homeowners can save on energy costs.

Insulate Your Home to Regulate Temperature

Heating and cooling costs make up a huge chunk of your electric bill every month, especially during the summer and winter months. Did you know that you could save a ton of money by stopping the air and temperature leaks by sealing the air into your home? Install better insulation in your walls and ceiling and replace old windows with energy-efficient ones.

This can be a major remodeling job, but if you’re on a tight budget and can’t make those improvements right now, you can still reduce air leaks by replacing your old weather stripping around the doors and windows. This includes your garage door too, if you have an attached garage.

Use Power Strips to Prevent Phantom Loads

A lot of people don’t realize that their electrical appliances and electronics all draw power whenever they are plugged in, even when they are turned off! This constant energy leak adds up by the end of the month.

To prevent these phantom loads, as they are called, all you need to do is plug your devices into a power strip and then turn it off when not in use. Make sure that the power strip you purchase has an on/off switch. Some power strips also include a surge protector fuse. This protects delicate electronics such as computers and smartphones from electrical surges.

Switch to Energy-Saving Appliances

When shopping around for clothes washers and dryers, dishwashers, refrigerators or any similar household appliances, look for Energy Star products. These machines are certified to use less electricity than their competitors. You can also switch from regular light bulbs to LED bulbs or energy-saving bulbs which require less power to put out the same amount of light.

Install Solar Panels on Your Roof

Installing solar panels on the roof of your home through a company like Solar Source can also help you save a lot of money over the years. You will probably still have to pay a small fee or tax to the electric company for maintenance, but your electric bill will be greatly reduced, depending on how many solar panels you have installed.

Stop Wasting Electricity

Lastly, the easiest way to save money on your utilities is to simply use less energy. Make sure that everyone in the household gets in the habit of shutting off lights and ceiling fans when they walk out of a room. You can also turn down the thermostat in your refrigerator a little bit without any negative impact on food quality. And you can wear more or less clothing while lounging around the house to avoid using so much power when running the air conditioner or heater.

There are a lot of possible ways to save money on your electric bill. Whether you go all in on insulation and window replacements or just wear a hoodie and extra socks on colder days, you can save money with just a few easy steps.

Dixie Somers

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The sun produces a renewable form of energy that can be used to power homes and commercial properties much like fossil fuels are used today. While there are several different financial and non-monetary advantages to using solar energy, the prime reason why there’s such a huge push in developing new solar energy technology is that the implementation of these technologies could potentially help to save the environment.

In the past, the government would offer tax breaks for individuals who installed large solar panels on their roofing systems. Now, homeowners have several different options as more and more types of solar systems have been engineered or improved upon. Here are some of the developments all eco-conscious homeowners will want to know about:

Potential for Cheap and Continuous Power

One piece of emerging news that is really sparking a lot of conversation in the industry surrounds the design and development of hot solar cell devices. Since the conventional solar panels that adorn rooftops all over the country are bulky and capable of absorbing only a small amount of the energy being emitted from the sun, it’s been argued that panels are inefficient.

Hot solar cells are capable of absorbing and capturing a larger amount of energy by using an absorber-emitter that acts as a funnel of light above the solar cells and a more efficient absorbing layer so that energy can be stored and used later. As this new system developed by MIT engineers is improved upon, it is believed that it will be twice as efficient and capable of delivering continuous energy all hours of the day.

New Solar Skin Designs

Solar source cells are popular improvements but homeowners have been in agreeance that they are not the most aesthetic addition to a home’s rooftop. If the design is a concern but you don’t want to mess around with function, MIT has developed a new solar skin that installation companies can install. It looks much like a roof and doesn’t affect the production of energy with the use of 5 solar busbars as opposed to 3. This is why the skins will be branded as luxury products.

Purify Your Water with the Sun

Another nice development that has been researched by Stanford this time is a solar device capable of purifying drinking water. The difference between this system and many others is that the device would only need to be exposed to the sun for a few minutes instead of hours to produce drinkable water.

Tracking the Path of the Sun

The sun is constantly moving around Earth. If panels don’t take the sun’s path into account, then energy absorption will remain low. Solar tracking mounts have been developed for ground-mounted and roof-mounted systems. Trackers can follow the sun as it’s in motion to track the best location to absorb the UV rays.

There is a lot of excitement surrounding the release of all of this new technology. As cells are made more efficient and devices are made smaller, the sun can start to fuel more than just residential power and families will save money as their efforts contribute to saving the planet.

Dixie Somers

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Countless US homeowners are investing in solar power installations. There are two primary reasons for switching to solar: to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions produced by fossil-fuel-burning power plants and save money on utility bills. So, how much money can you expect to save with a solar power installation exactly?

Solar Power Installation Prices

According to the Department of Energy (DOE), the average cost of residential solar power installations through companies like Solar Source has declined by roughly 60 percent since 2010. Depending on the type, size, market conditions and other factors, a typical solar power system now costs about $15,000 to $30,000. While that may seem expensive, you must consider the cost-savings benefits it offers over the course of many years.

Breaking Down the Cost-Savings Benefits of Solar Power

Statistics show the average residential solar power system provides 84 percent of the home’s energy needs. If you spend $2,200 in home energy expenses every year, a solar power installation will save you about $1,848 per year. Keep in mind, however, that new solar power systems have an average lifespan of 20 years. So, if you want to find the true cost-savings benefits of a solar power system, you can multiply your yearly savings by 20, which in this case would be $36,960.

Net Metering

Net metering can also save you money on a solar power installation. This mutually beneficial agreement involves selling excess, unused energy to a lower power company. If your solar power system generates more energy than what you need, you can sell it for utility credits.

Most residential solar power installations produce more energy than what the home needs during the day due to increased sun exposure. With net metering, homeowners can obtain bill credits for this excess energy to offset the cost of nighttime power.

Solar Tax Credit

Furthermore, the federal government offers a 30 percent tax credit on new solar power installations. If you spend $15,000 on a solar power system, for instance, you can deduct $4,500 from your federal taxes. Just remember save your receipts for when tax time rolls around.

To learn more about solar power and how it can save you money, contact a professional solar panel company. They can help you choose the right installation for your home while explaining the differences between different technologies like thin-film and monocrystalline silicon.

Dixie Somers

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If it is time to replace your roof, but you are hoping to reduce your carbon footprint, there are several options available that are environmentally friendly. The option you choose will depend on your budget, your preferences and the look of your home. If you’re looking for eco-friendly yet affordable roofing and gutters, consider the following options.

Standing Seam Metal Roofs

Standing seam metal roofs reflect sunlight and are 100 percent recyclable. In addition, you can purchase metal roofing material made from recycled metals as well. The lifespan of a metal roof is about 50 years, so they are durable and are also fire-resistant. Another benefit to metal roofs is that you can harvest rainwater for your garden without worrying about toxic materials seeping into your soil. If you live in an area prone to snow and ice, metal roofs allow frozen precipitation to slide off easier than other types of roofing.

Corrugated Roofing

When you think of corrugated roofing, you probably think of commercial buildings or old sheds with wavy metal roofs. Today’s corrugated roofing is much more sophisticated as technology provides a wide range of colors and styles. You are no longer stuck with translucent plastic or sheet metal. Corrugated roofing is easy to repair and is much lighter than its predecessors. Like other types of metal roofing, corrugated roofing is durable and recyclable.

Reclaimed Clay or Slate

Because they are created from recycled materials themselves, reclaimed clay or slate roofs are environmentally friendly. If you have a home with a Spanish look, clay or slate roofs work perfectly, adding to your home’s curb appeal. There is no question that clay and slate roofs are durable as many have lasted over a century. Clay and slate roofs can be heavier than other types of roofing material, so you will want to talk to a qualified roofing contractor to be sure the walls of your home can withstand the additional weight.

Recycled Shingle Roofs

Recycled shingle roofs mimic the look of slate and cedar shake, but are made from recycled plastic, wood fiber and rubber. They are considered one of the greenest roofing materials available. If your budget won’t allow for a slate roof, recycled shingled roofs that look like slate are your best option. The roof has a lifespan of more than 50 years, adds curb appeal to your home and helps protect the environment.

If you are concerned about your family’s impact on the environment, speak to a qualified roofing contractor about the many options available in green roofing materials. In addition to these types of roofing, a qualified roofing contractor may be able to help you create a green roof, using plants to reduce rainwater runoff as well as additional cooling, or rubber roofing, which consists of materials made from old steel-belted tires. Roofing contractors today have many ways of creating a roof that is environmentally friendly, yet works well with the design of your home.

Dixie Somers

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According to research conducted by Stanford University, only about 60% to 80% of all eligible garbage is actually recycled. Why, though? Recycling is the process by which certain reusable materials are sorted from general garbage, reduced to their basic components, and then re-manufactured into a new product thus preventing unnecessary waste.

Recycling is important because many of the materials that can be re-purposed through this process would otherwise become dangerous contaminants if they were left to slowly decompose in a landfill. Certain plastics, for instance, can poison ground water resources if left untreated and exposed in the local waste dump, and other recyclables like paper and cardboard can degrade and obstruct ditches, drains, and other public utility resources. But how do waste management companies help fight these problems?

By Efficiently Streamlining the Recycling Process

Waste management companies often provide a system by which different kinds of recyclables can be stored, sorted, and picked up. Many waste management companies provide their constituents with different, distinct, recycling receptacles that make sorting potentially conflicting materials much easier. This is particularly important, as it is the primary cause for the problems outlined in the Stanford Study referenced above.

Certain kinds of materials cannot be easily recycled when they are mixed with other recyclable substances. Broken glass is a good example of this issue. Most types of glass can be recycled, and most types of paper can be recycled. But if paper is stored with used (often shattered) glass products, the paper can become so contaminated with tiny, minute, shards of glass that it cannot be properly deconstructed and reformed. In short, waste management companies like Green Bins provide a system that easily minimizes these issues.

By Making Recycling Easier on You

Most waste management companies also provide incentives to recycle like paying small amounts of money for the collection of certain valuable materials like tin from cans or copper from industrial goods. In this way, waste management companies can give participants an immediate reward for helping with the environment.

Many such companies will also rent dumpsters out for private use. These dumpster renting companies help in waste management by providing small businesses a more eco-friendly way of disposing of their trash, sorting their recyclables, and storing environmentally corrosive substances like old paint and kitchen grease.

Practical Environmental Responsibility

By organizing recycling systems, giving incentives for community participation, and providing customers with things like for-rent dumpsters, waste management companies play a crucial role in local environmental health and safety efforts. If you’re about to begin a big project, or you just want more information on how you can help, contact a local recycling or waste management organization today.