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All things green, eco-friendly, and seriously sustainable

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Dixie Somers

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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

 

Landscaping

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

 

Water Conservation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Pest Control

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Carpet Cleaning

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

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

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

 

Home Construction

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Housecleaning

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

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

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

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

 

The Green Bandwagon

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

Dixie Somers

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

Do Solar Panels Increase Home Value?

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

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

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

Lower Energy Costs and Damage to Environment

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

Leasing vs. Buying

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

Housing Market

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

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

Dixie Somers

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

 

Change the Thermostat

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

 

Change Light Bulbs

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

 

Get a New Ride

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

 

Unplug Appliances

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

 

Grow Your Own Food

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

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

Dixie Somers

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

 

Toyota Prius Prime

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

 

Tesla Model S

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

 

Nissan Leaf

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

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

 

Smart Car (Electric Coupe)

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

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

 

Chevy Volt

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

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

 

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

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

Dixie Somers

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

 

Is Your Coffee Fair Trade?

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

 

Picking Organic Coffee

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

 

Shade Grown Coffee

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

 

Try and Buy Local

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

 

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

Dixie Somers

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

Repair Leaky Faucets

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

Install Low-Flow Showerheads

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

Choose Eco-Flush Toilets

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

Put the Dishwasher to Good Use

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

Turn Off the Water

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

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

Dixie Somers

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

 

What Can You Do To Help?

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

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

 

Keeping Your Own Water Clean

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

 

What About Outside My Home?

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

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

Dixie Somers

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

 

1. Recycled Calculators

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

 

2. Eco-Friendly Printers

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

 

3. Computer Power Savers

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

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

 

4. Solar Panels

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

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

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

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

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

 

5. Eco-Friendly Vending Machines

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

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

 

ENERGY STAR Business Support

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

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

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

 

Gadgets Large and Small

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

Dixie Somers

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

 

Control Speed

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

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

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

 

Reduce Weight

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

 

Be Mindful of Your Tires

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

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

 

Regular Maintenance

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

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

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

 

Be Smart with Oil

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

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

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

Dixie Somers

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How big is your water heater? Twenty? Thirty? Fifty gallons? How many times have you run out of hot water before your hair was rinsed? Every time you take a shower or bath, your tank has to refill. It also has to kick on throughout the day to keep the water inside hot. If you're looking for ways to cut back on your utility bills, losing the tank is a good place to start.

How do Tankless Water Heaters Work?

Tankless water heaters are manufactured in both gas and electric options, each of which have their advantages. Tankless heaters operate by running water through a heating source at the point of use rather than heating large amounts at one time.

Save Energy

If you live in an area that regularly receives winter weather, you might consider a gas tankless heater. It will keep you in warm water despite power outages and save money on your electric bill. According to the Department of Energy, on-demand heaters can be 24%–34% more energy efficient.

Save Space

On top of the energy savings, tankless water heaters are ideal for homeowners with limited space. Many tiny house owners opt for tankless heaters because they can hang on the wall, taking up very little space without creating a fire hazard like large water tanks can in small spaces.

Flow Rate

Most tankless heaters provide a flow of 2–5 gallons of hot water per minute. For larger houses and larger households, more than one tank is recommended, especially for simultaneous use. Considering on-demand heaters tend to last longer than conventional water heaters, purchasing multiple point of use units is still an excellent investment.

Extending Life

Tankless heaters have the advantage of using running water rather than holding calcium and lime ridden hard water constantly. Thus, they can last up to twenty years. Replacement parts are readily available, often easier to install than traditional water heater parts, and can extend unit life for another 10–15 years.

Go Tankless

If you'd like to save energy, money, space, and hassle, a tankless water heater may be the best choice for you. Be sure to consider heating capacity, energy star rating, and price in your decision. Contact a company like First Class Plumbing of Florida Inc. for more information. Be sure to shop around; it's high time you took the tankless leap!

Dixie Somers

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Environmentally conscious individuals are taking the time to reduce their carbon footprint on a daily basis by making better and greener decisions. Adopting more eco-friendly habits is something that will develop over time, but it can start with something as little as using water filtration bottles or reusable grocery bags. These little efforts make a big difference.

Every person that's living a greener life is making a long-term difference in the world, but the changes need to be made at a bigger level. One place where changes are being adopted and embraced is in the sports stadium. Stadiums have been huge waste generators for years, but here's how some stadiums are going from part of the problem to a greener eco-arena.

 

Saving Energy with Sustainable Sources

Some of the newer stadiums that are being erected around the nation use more than just fossil fuel energy to power the bright lights and the video boards that the arena needs for an exciting fan experience. Thankfully, eco-arenas focus on sustainability and are not 100 percent reliant on carbon emitting sources.

Metlife Stadium set the precedent for green initiatives by making a commitment to operate a sustainable stadium, and others are following suit. More and more stadiums are using solar panels, wind turbines, and cooking oil for biodiesel fuel just so that they save electrical use. Stadiums like Lincoln Financial Field have installed 11,000 solar panels as a part of their "Go Green" campaign that has made a real difference in Philadelphia energy consumption.

 

Reflective Rooftops and Plant Life Insulation

Another way to curb consumption is to use different materials in the construction of the stadium. When the roof is allowing heat transference or cold influxes into the open space, more has to be spent to control the temperature in the environment. This is why some arenas use reflective rooftops to combat the temperature-rising UVs and plant life to help insulate the interior space.

 

Implementing Recycling Programs

No state requires a team or an arena to recycle but recycling programs are being implemented more and more. By placing more recycling bins throughout the arena and putting signs that encourage recycling all throughout the bathrooms and the concession areas, teams like the Diamondbacks have recycled 95 tons of material in just 9 months. This dramatically reduces waste.

Sports teams generate so much revenue each year. Since sports are a huge form of entertainment in the US, efforts made in the arena to become green can trickle down to fans. Each year, more and more arenas will go from energy hogs to eco-arenas that consume only sustainable energy.

Dixie Somers

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Most people are aware of the impact commercial farms have on the impact with their use of pesticides. What many do not realize, however, is regular home and garden use of pesticides adds up to 160 million pounds of chemical use every year, which is more than the government and businesses combined.

Want to do something to help the environment while keeping pests away from your home? Green pest control methods can be just as effective as chemicals or even work better without the use of chemicals that can harm the environment, pets, and children. Eco-friendly pest control methods can be effective against all types of pests, including rodents, cockroaches, termites, and more.

 

What Makes Pest Control "Green?"

Eco-friendly pest control strives to use the least toxic method first to control a pest problem. In general, green pest control solutions are less damaging to the environment and less toxic to living creatures not targeted by the treatment, such as pets, humans, insects, and aquatic life.

This approach to pest control often begins with making your home and garden as inhospitable to unwanted creatures as possible by removing food and water sources and using natural compounds that deter pests. From there, chemicals with reduced toxicity can be used to combat an existing problem. Here's a look at several highly effective green pest control solutions that can help protect your home.

 

Bora-Care for Termites

Bora-Care is a boric acid system that works as a stomach poison against termites. Bora-Care can be used to protect wood from becoming a food source for termites and its low-toxicity, unlike the chemical sulfuryl fluoride that's used in fumigation. A pest control professional can help you decide if Bora-Care is a good solution for your home.

 

Eco-Friendly Cockroach Control

You can stop and track down cockroaches in your home without chemical bait. Simply use store-bought sticky traps or make your own by adding banana peel to a Mason jar and lining the rim with petroleum jelly. Place the jars near pipes and sinks then wait for the roaches to get trapped. Once you track down where they're collecting, inject boric acid into crevices and cracks.

Boric acid is a low-toxicity chemical that causes dehydration and death in roaches by affecting their exoskeleton. It's far safer than the alternative, organophosphates, which are the most common types of pesticides to poison people.

 

When working with a pest control professional like All Seasons Pest Control, ask if they use eco-friendly solutions. You can also request non-chemical solutions whenever possible to help control or prevent an infestation.

 

Dixie Somers

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The desire for better fuel economy is not a new trend. For decades, automotive manufacturers and designers have been coming up with ways to help the consumer in getting more miles out of their gas tanks. The latest technologies in the fuel economy arena show a lot of promise in taking fuel economy to a new level. Let’s take a look as some of the most interesting advancements to keep your eyes on.

 

Advanced Cylinder Deactivation

While cylinder deactivation was originally introduced in the early 80’s with Cadillac's V864 engine, it only became commonplace a few years ago with improved electronics and a better fuel system then Cadillac’s pioneering model. One fuel saving technology to keep an eye out for will be advancements to this technology. Look for cylinder deactivation engines that run longer on fewer cylinders, thanks to added sensors and a more sophisticated control algorithm that could potentially reduce fuel consumption by 15 percent.

 

Fuel-Cell Plug-In Hybrids

The hydrogen fuel-cell may finally make its debut. As of now, the fuel cell is going to be expensive and the infrastructure for refueling is still foggy. One solution to these problems was actually shown by Ford almost 10 years ago when they displayed their Airstream concept. The Airstream used a plug-in-hybrid layout that created better usability and a better cost balance. The fuel cell would act as a range extender while a capacitor or battery handled fluctuating power demands that are prevalent in everyday driving.

 

Engines with No Camshaft

Yep, you read that correctly. Even though designers and engineers have gotten very close to optimal valve lift, timing, and cam phasing, there is little more they can achieve with the traditional camshaft. Unlike the loud, energy-draining hydraulic and electromechanical solenoids like those used in a lab test for cam profiles, the introduction of a 48-volt electrical system, see below, and smaller engines make the idea of having camless engines a very real possibility in the not-too-distant future. Instead of a rotating camshaft, each cylinder would have a dedicated actuator that would be precisely timed for the needed power demand. This design would allow for optimal timing across all cylinders and would result in superb fuel efficiency.

 

48-Volt Electrical System

Let’s face it, the internal-combustion engine has dominated the automotive industry pretty much ever since there was an automotive industry. Even though there is a huge push for total electric vehicles, the lack of a refueling infrastructure and global manufacturing realities, the internal-combustion engine will probably remain the dominant power plant for quite some time. One way engineers are working to make these engines more efficient is by using a 48-volt electrical system to replace the current 12-volt system. Since there are so many components on the modern automobile that drain power and energy from them, a 48-volt system opens the possibility of advancements such as camless engines, replacing mechanical accessories like air conditioning and power steering pumps with electric alternatives, and have plenty of power left over for other features. This reduction in loads on the engine can increase fuel efficiency by 10 percent.

 

Electric Superchargers

Another advancement that would be made possible with a 48-volt electrical system is the electric supercharger. Audi is already using this technology on their SQ7 TDI and it is rational to think there will be plenty more to follow. Such an advancement means that cars equipped with cylinder deactivation can run longer on fewer cylinders. If additional power is needed, the supercharger will kick in and when the car travels downhill, the airflow will drive the electric motor in the supercharger, sending power back to the battery.  Visit a supply shop like Arnold Motor Supply if you have questions.

 

While there are plenty of other technologies on the horizon designed to improve the fuel efficiency of our vehicles, we selected these five for their plausibility and the amount of an impact they would, will, or do have in the modern vehicle. You might consider contacting an auto shop if you have questions about how your specific vehicle can have better fuel efficiency.

Dixie Somers

A public administration degree includes a bachelor's, master's or doctorate degree awarded by an accredited university, college or business school. These programs prepare a person to work for a non-profit organization or in government at the local, state or national level. Earning one of these degrees involves building skills in politics, management, accounting, urban planning and environmental sciences. With a public administration masters, you may be able to put your skills to use for saving the environment.

 

Sound Management of Funds for Environmental Projects

Public administrators are held accountable for the transparency of funds used on all types of projects. Their accounting skills and ability to communicate in writing and orally will help them to employ sound management of funds for environmental projects. They will be able to create cost benefit analyses to show that environmentally friendly projects are a better investment for the long-term. They can also show how changes such as green roofs and proper insulation help to save money on a short-term basis.

 

Green Urban Planning

Green urban planning is already important and will only increase in civic priorities due to increases in urban populations. According to the World Health Organization, urban populations will grow by 1.84% per year between 2015 and 2020, which is faster than that of rural communities. Large city populations mean that it is important to build energy-efficient buildings to accommodate the growing number of people. Infrastructure such as mass transit will also need to be included. Public administrators have the attention to detail and planning skills to make these changes happen.

 

Management of Environmentally Friendly Non-profit Agencies

Public administrators learn management skills, interpersonal communications and human relations skills during their time in college or at the university. These skills can help them to find jobs at non-profit organizations and agencies that are related to the protection of the environment. The courses that public administration candidates take in politics and government will also help them to navigate through the complexities of city zoning, state government lobbying and federal agencies that create the laws around environmental protection.

The leadership, analytical and communications skills that you learn while earning a public administration degree can help you to work with different groups and promote environmental awareness with every aspect of a project. If you choose to earn a graduate degree, you may even be able to become the leader of your organization and help to further the cause of environmentally friendly cities, buildings and projects.

Dixie Somers

Not very long ago, private swimming pools belonged to the domain of the wealthy; until the middle of the last century, they were out of reach of the average citizen. Today, approximately eight million American homes display this amenity.

As more and more homeowners throughout the country find swimming pools an affordable and attractive addition to their lives, another trend is developing. Recognizing the vital importance of conservation to the health of our planet, individuals are making eco-conscious decisions when implementing pools in their homes. Read on to see some of the ways they do this.

 

Sun Power

Solar energy is capable of more than heating your home and providing electrical power. Solar panels can warm pool water and fuel equipment. A solar swimming pool cover is an option for those whose budgets do not allow a full-fledged system: it keeps water debris-free and heats it at the same time. You can even harness the power of the sun to help keep your private swimming hole bacteria-free: ozone sterilization systems transform oxygen into germ-killing ozone.

 

The Right Equipment

Devices like variable speed pumps and in-floor cleaning systems are big energy savers. The former efficiently circulates the water, and the latter performs this task while keeping your pool clean and distributing heat from solar panels. And since equipment need not be running constantly, especially during cooler months, timers are essential. A smartphone or computer application enables you to run pool apparatus from anywhere, eliminating its energy-draining use when not needed. Your family members can start up the equipment remotely so the pool will be ready when you are.

 

Salt water

Oceans have a built-in mechanism to keep algae and bacteria at bay: salt water systems. In recent years, pool owners have been utilizing saline to achieve the same result. A chlorine generator cell transforms ordinary table salt into chlorine, which reverts back into its original, non-polluting form. Owners of traditional pools can easily make the switch to saline, and using less costly salt instead of chemicals helps offset the initial expense. Maintenance is simple: clean the chlorine cell annually and add salt to the water every month. The benefits go beyond keeping your pool bacteria- and algae-free: swimmers are more buoyant in salt water (making water exercise even more pleasant), there is no chlorine to irritate eyes, and skin remains soft rather than becoming prune-like.

 

Natural Swimming

Imagine a pond in your back yard. Natural pools feature sides that slope and a variety of plants that are more than pleasing to the eyes. Greenery like sphagnum moss removes bacteria from the water and can be used for compost. (It works so well that the University of Maryland uses it in indoor pools.) Plants infuse the water with oxygen, promote healthy bacteria that take care of debris and undesirable organisms, and provide a habitat for water wildlife. Use local varieties—they need less water and maintenance—as a windbreak to limit water evaporation. Be sure to place filtering plants away from the swimming area and all greenery where they will not shed into the pool. Starting natural pools is costly but, once they are fully functional, these ponds are virtually maintenance-free and require no chemicals to keep the water clean. And no matter what type of pool graces your domain, rainwater can be used to top it off as needed.

 

It takes only a little effort to create an oasis that is more than refreshing and a source of beneficial exercise. An eco-friendly pool saves money, reduces water use, conserves energy, and creates a home for local wildlife. It’s a win-win situation for you, your family, your community, and our planet.

Dixie Somers

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Plenty of people have taken steps to create a more energy efficient and healthier home by switching out their light bulbs and replacing energy-hungry appliances and devices with energy sippers. It’s possible to do the same in the bathroom by selecting products that lighten the load on the environment using these tips.

 

1. Heat the Space

It may seem counterintuitive, but using a space heater in the bathroom if your home is too chilly for bathing will save energy. By themselves, space heaters are the least efficient way to heat, but in the confined space of a bathroom, the short time they run won’t impact your energy bill as much as turning up the furnace’s thermostat to heat your entire home when you only need to warm the bathroom.

 

2. Use PEVA Shower Curtains

A vinyl shower curtain spews volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into your home’s air as it ages. VOCs pollute indoor air and may cause anything from respiratory irritation to serious organ and neurological damage. PEVA, short for polyethylene vinyl acetate, doesn't contain the VOCs that vinyl curtains do and is a fully biodegradable product. The packaging for the shower curtain will indicate whether it's made from PEVA.

 

3. Upgrade to WaterSense Fixtures

Faucets, showerheads and toilets that carry the WaterSense label established by the U.S. EPA use the least amount of water and are as functional as older fixtures. A commode manufactured before 1980 may use from five to seven gallons per flush, while a WaterSense toilet uses as little as 1.28 gallons per flush. According to the EPA, such a toilet can reduce household water consumption by 60 percent.

 

4. Choose Toilet Paper Wisely

Most popular toilet paper is made from cellulose harvested from trees. Look for brands that use recycled paper that hasn’t been processed with chlorine and is perfume-free. Chlorine harms the both water resources and the atmosphere. Perfumes contain harmful VOCs. Paper is also available that’s made from bamboo, which is a renewable plant that reaches maturity quickly.

 

5. Install Timers and Motion Detectors

You can find add-on motion sensors for light fixtures that will turn the light on and off in response to motion detection. Such a device eliminates the wasted energy when the bathroom is unoccupied with the lights on.

 

It’s important to use the bathroom fan to exhaust humid air, but if it’s left running, it will also pull the cooled or heated air from a fairly large area, making your HVAC system run more often. Putting it on a timer eliminates the possibility of it running for extended periods, a habit that’s just as common as forgetting to turn the lights off.

If you need help implementing any of these features into your bathroom, visit a company like Christophers Bath and Kitchens. By using their help with these tips in mind, you can make your bathrooms places that contribute to a healthier indoor environment and lower your carbon footprint without having to sacrifice any comfort or convenience.

Dixie Somers

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Innovations continue to emerge as business and governmental agencies step up to the challenge of reducing solid waste. From planning for the future to large-scale examples of best practices in waste-stream sorting, here are five intriguing advancements in recycling:

1. Design for Recycling

The Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries recognizes advancements in this area with an annual award. Samsung Electronics America won the award in 2016 for its design of a TV incorporating snap-together parts instead of screws, allowing a recycler to disassemble it in ten minutes or less.

2. Wear. Donate. Recycle.

Did you know the average person in the U.S. throws away 70 pounds of clothing and textiles each year? Some municipalities are considering textile recycling programs or even fining residents who throw away clothing instead of donating it.

The Council for Textile Recycling works to create awareness among consumers, charities, recyclers and others and has a goal of zero textile waste going to landfills by 2037. So expect to see much more of their slogan, “Wear. Donate. Recycle.”

3. Sink Your Shucks

You might not realize that even natural materials can have uses beyond the landfill. Consider oyster shells, as an example. A recycling program in Texas called "Sink Your Shucks" takes oyster shells discarded by seafood processors and uses them to restore ocean reefs. In August 2016 they celebrated recycling one million pounds of oyster shells this way. That's making a difference!

4. In-house Options

Businesses that end up with lots of cardboard boxes — and needs packing material for shipping — have found a great solution with industrial cardboard shredders such as those offered by Advantage Business Equipment. Not only do they provide a sustainable way to get rid of cardboard, but the shredders can also pay for themselves very quickly by supplying the business with virtually free packing material.

5. Smart Waste Management

As communities struggle with lower commodity prices, they're looking for ideas to streamline and improve their recycling efforts. A great example is the Southern Nevada Recycling Center in Las Vegas, operated by Republic Services and winner of the 2016 Gold Excellence Award in the Recycling Systems category from the Solid Waste Association of North. It's huge—110,000 square feet—and is capable of processing 70 tons of waste per hour through its material recovery facility.

Fortunately, there are many great examples of environmental stewardship as efforts continue to make the most of our resources, protect the environment and create a sustainable future. Keep yourself informed on new ways that you can save the environment through recycling.

Dixie Somers

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Bag or mulch? If you care for a lawn, undoubtedly you’ve wondered what to do with clippings. Should you collect them in a bag attached to your lawnmower or allow them to fall back on to the lawn, providing mulch for the growing grass?

 

Best to leave clippings

For lots of reasons that are good for your turf and the environment, experts say to leave the clippings. This will have the same value as one or two applications of fertilizer each year.

Your lawn management practices will depend a lot on what type of grass you have. If you have a creeping grass such as zoysia or Bermuda grass, you can cut it very close, to a half-inch or less. But upright growing grasses such as red fescue or Kentucky bluegrass should be allowed to grow between one and two inches high.

Grass clippings are mostly water and within a few days will either blow away or decompose, helping build your soil.

 

When to bag

Here are two reasons not to leave grass clippings on your lawn:

        Disease — if you see signs of fungus or other diseases, dispose of clippings, so you don’t spread the problem around.

        Too thick of grass — if you haven’t mowed in a while, and your grass is too tall, the clippings may be too heavy and could damage your lawn. If that is the case, remove them and plan to cut more regularly in the future.

What you do with clippings if you decide not to leave them on your lawn matters a lot. The last place you want them to end up is in the landfill. Does your solid waste hauler collect green waste? If so, add the clippings to the green can. Better yet, add them to your compost pile. Just be sure that you haven’t recently put a weed killer on the lawn — you don’t want that in your compost.

 

Choose wisely

Most people who bag their clippings do so for aesthetic reasons. They think the lawn looks better with the clippings removed. Clumps of clippings can look especially untidy. However, if you manage to mow often enough that the clippings are very short, most will fall into the grass and hardly be detectable. If you do have clumps, you can spread them around with a rake or run over them a second time with the lawn mower’s deck raised. If you have questions, you might contact a landscaping company like Schulhoff Tree & Lawn Care, Inc. Remember, your lawn care choices have an impact on the environment—choose wisely!

Dixie Somers

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Most people are always on the hunt for green food or ecologically friendly cars to save money, but there are some people who are truly passionate about Earth enough to want to be as respectful as they can be. Being respectful to nature does not always have to be a sacrifice to the wallet either. You can even promote environmental values in things like dental products.

Below are five economically and ecologically friendly products for dental hygiene. Some of them have recycled packaging, others use organic ingredients, and others are biodegradable upon throwing them away, but all of them can help move along green values while being high-quality products.

 

Dr. Ken's Maximum Care Spearmint Cool

As far as an environmental friendly toothpaste goes, this is the one closest to mainstream in terms of taste and packaging, and it was developed by a dentist with the promise to clean as well as any mainstream product. The Environmental Working Group were not necessarily thrilled with it because of the sodium fluoride, but the taste is amazing, and it does get teeth clean. The most interesting ingredients in Dr. Ken's concoction are green tea extract and papaya. This is the kind of toothpaste to help convert people skeptical of the taste and effectiveness of green dental products.

 

Desert Essence Tea Tree Oil Mouthwash

There are only natural flavors in this mouthwash. It is flavored with real spearmint and organic tea tree leaf. Next, the great flavor is nutritionally fortified with Vitamin C and witch hazel. Also, this product can proudly say it is completely vegan and was never tested on animals. Some of the many ingredients include sugar alcohol, parabens and much more. Finally, it is an effective product, animal cruelty-free and is completely made from renewable resources.

 

Eco-dent GentleFloss

This floss takes being green and organic very seriously. It is completely vegan. The floss is 100% vegetable wax—not a bit of beeswax has been used. What makes this a truly green product is the box. The box is plastic free (it’s made of rice) and the paper packing is completely ready to recycle. These are just a few details on a fully environmental friendly product.

 

Between! Dental Gum

This all-natural gum is an ideal way to freshen breath, clean teeth and do both while remaining mobile. The ingredients are simple, and the gum is made simply with baking soda, antioxidants and minerals. The flavor added to the gum is natural too, and it depends on what flavor is selected. It is available in cinnamon, mint and wintergreen, and it is sugar-free too. It is dye- and fake-color free on top of everything else. There are so many other wonderful, natural ingredients in this gum.

 

Monte Bianco Natural Toothbrush

Eco-Dent is the brand responsible for this toothbrush, and the company has an amazing reputation for releasing green and economically friendly products. The bristles are recycled, and the brush comes with a unique, purpose serving gimmick. Your toothbrush should be replaced every three months according to dentistry.com, and the Monte Bianco makes this task easy by having an easily removable, replaceable head.

 

The five products above are affordable and cost-effective, and provide incredible health benefits, all while being very friendly to the environment. It is important to combine positive financial responsibility and the responsibility to our planet. Visit a dentist like Family First Dentistry LLC if you have any questions about the product you’re using.