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All things green, eco-friendly, and seriously sustainable

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Dixie Somers

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

Clean Burning

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

May Be Cleaner and Cheaper Than Electricity

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

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

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

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

Off the Grid

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

Propane is Efficient

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

Natural Gas May Become Renewable

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

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

Dixie Somers

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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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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

Driving can have a hugely negative impact on your carbon footprint, and while we all strive to reduce our personal drain on the environment, there are some things we struggle to do without. While you work toward a world that lives in harmony with earth, there are some things you can do to reduce your car’s carbon footprint.

Share a Car

Most families have more than one car, and more often than not, each car is intended for the transportation of one person at a time. Getting rid of one car and sharing the other can greatly reduce your carbon footprint and save you money. If life with one car is not doable right now, try to carpool as much as possible and save the other car for emergencies only.

Trade Up

Trade in your gas guzzler for a more fuel efficient green vehicle. Not only will you be helping the environment, but you’ll be saving money on gas as well. Check out the EPA’s site on green vehicles to help you make the best choice for your family.

Drive More Sensibly

The better you drive, the less gas you waste. Instead of hitting the gas, accelerate slowly and maintain a steady speed. That also includes not driving faster than you need to. These simple tips can improve your gas mileage by 33%, not to mention make the road safer for you and others.

Maintenance

Proper maintenance can also improve your carbon footprint. Simple acts like getting an engine tune up from a company like Natrad can keep your car running smoothly and keep it from emitting more CO2 than it should. Take it a step further and replace all of your filters at least once a year.

Air Up

Airing up your tires and keeping them inflated to the proper level can increase your fuel efficiency and save over 400 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions per year.

Roll Down the Windows

Instead of cranking up the air, roll down the windows. Not only will this reduce your fuel consumption, but it will increase your happy mood. A little fresh air and vitamin D does good for the mind and body.

So many people live by the idea that, if we can never reduce our carbon footprint to a completely sustainable level, we shouldn’t bother trying. While it may be true that some pollution is inevitable, it is also true that we can make a difference and lessen the global impact one step at a time—and the first step is making eco-friendly choices in your own home.

Dixie Somers

Photo credit: Flickr Creative Commons via Georgie Pauwels

There is a boom happening in America, one that rivals the Industrial Revolution of the 1800's. It is quiet, but the American manufacturing sector is making a comeback in a huge way. The reasons for this can be debated, but several factors appear to be self-evident. No matter the 'primary' causes, it can't be denied that manufacturing in America is on its way back up.

Energy

Cheap energy is now and always has been the key to industrial success. Today, that energy is natural gas and oil. The invention of fracking technology and new methods for extracting oil from difficult places have had a massive effect on energy. Two rarely discusses aspects of this energy bonanza are conservation and recycling. Just a quick scan of the home page of the The US Department of Energy, shows the diversity and strength of the American energy sector.

Rising Costs Overseas

It happens every time industry moves off-shore for 'greener' (or cheaper) pastures. They end up returning to the US because those low prices don't last long and Americans are the largest consumers in the world. This was true when Taiwan and Japan received the benefits of U.S. manufacturing. It is happening now in China and India.

Efficiency

Although many CEOs will cry publicly that Americans are not as good as other workers, the American worker is more efficient than we might think. Susan Adams' article in Forbes magazine demonstrates this well, as she discusses the world’s most productive countries. And American workers are also some of the happiest according to Adams.

Business Focus

Regardless of which party is in control in Washington or the state capitols, there is a strong focus on the needs and concerns of business. From taxes and training to incentives and infrastructure, the governing bodies in the US are spending a huge amount of resources to help keep companies profitable. A look at the billions spent in Texas alone proves this.

The New Industrial Revolution is (for the most part) cleaner than the last one and is lacking some of the darker sides, like child labor and slavery. But it has all the earmarks of helping to set the US up for another century of manufacturing domination. Information for this article was provided by the professionals of Advantage Manufacturing Ltd., who specialize in aluminum fabrication in Edmonton.

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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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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Proper dental care is essential to maintaining your overall well-being. Studies show that poor oral hygiene is directly linked to many common illnesses including dementia, diabetes, cancer, and kidney disease, not to mention an assortment of other life-threatening medical conditions. Considering the variety of illnesses caused by gingivitis and periodontal disease, it is essential to brush and floss daily and visit a dentist regularly for checkups. When looking for dental care Tampa, it is important to decide whether a traditional or holistic dentist is right for your lifestyle.

What Is Holistic Dentistry?

Often referred to as biological dentistry, the holistic approach considers the patient’s emotional and overall physical health when diagnosing, treating, and preventing diseases of the mouth and gums. This alternative type of dentistry focuses on the use of non-toxic chemicals to restore teeth, reduce and eradicate the likelihood of infections, as well as combining complimentary care to promote the structural integrity of the head, jaw, and neck in relation to the teeth.

What Are the Differences in Holistic and Traditional Dentistry?

While conventional or traditional dentists often perform complex, invasive procedures that often involve the use of metals and other chemicals, holistic dentists do not believe in the use of manufactured materials. Instead, those who practice holistic dentistry believe that the many of treatments conducted through conventional dentistry may be detrimental to the patient’s and lead to further health issues.

Mercury Amalgam

Conventional dentistry includes the use of mercury amalgam fillings, partly due to their endorsement by the American Dental Association (ADA) as stable and safe. In addition, the fillings are much easier to replace than their composite counterparts and the costs are primarily covered by insurance. On the other hand, holistic dentists do not condone the use of mercury, understand that it is toxic to humans, and even minimal amounts may be a risk to your health. Although mercury often lasts longer than composite and may outlast the actual tooth the material was used to fill, the fillings also apply a great deal of pressure to teeth. The result is weaker teeth that are more susceptible to breakage and decay.

Root Canals

In addition, while traditional dentistry may argue that a root canal is the preferred method to save a severely decayed tooth, proponents of holistic dentistry negate the practice.

According to holistic beliefs, root canals are considered an ineffective remedy for saving damaged teeth. During the procedure, the infected pulp of the tooth is removed, then the canal is cleaned. However, sterilization of the canal of the tooth does not annihilate bacteria in its entirety; holistic dentists believe the treatment is not effective because it is impossible to disinfect the tooth 100%. In addition, the use of harsh chemicals, including formaldehyde, has been linked to further health issues including heart disease and even breast cancer some patients.

Fluoride

The use of fluoride among holistic dentists is a debatable topic. While some believe it is acceptable, others do not. Too much fluoride weakens the enamel of teeth and may also result in fluorosis. This condition identifies toxic levels of fluoride are already in the patient’s system and is characterized by yellow, brown, and sometimes white spots on the teeth. High levels of the chemical have also been linked directly to osteoporosis. However, traditional dentists condone its use since fluoride is thought to reduce the rate of cavities.

What Dentist to Choose?

Since no one knows you better than yourself, only you can answer that. Your teeth should last a lifetime—making an educated decision can make that a reality.

Dixie Somers

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Eco-friendly or green plumbing products and technology have grown in popularity in recent years. Part of the reason for this trend is that consumers are more aware of issues like the need to conserve energy and water. However, more and more plumbers and consumers are opting for water saving and energy efficient plumbing products because modern technology now provides a wide range of options that reduce utility costs.

Water Flow Restrictors

The term “flow restrictor” is simple enough. It turns out that a properly designed bathroom or kitchen fixture can reduce the rate of water flow without giving up the performance and convenience people demand. Shower heads, faucets and hose pipes can be updated to low flow models. If you get a plumbing company like Rapid First Plumbing to replace old fixtures with eco-friendly versions, you can save up to 60 percent of the water use.

Water Conserving Toilets

Low flow toilets are another plumbing product designed to save water. These fixtures are typically engineered to using compressed air to push water through the system with extra force. This allows the toilet to work properly while using less water and saving money.

Tankless Water Heaters

When it comes time to replace your current water heater, you may want to consider a tankless model. Also referred to as on-demand water heaters, these systems do not store heated water. Instead, they use a powerful electrical heater or gas burner to warm the water when you open a tap. One advantage of this system is that you can enjoy a continuous supply of warm water that doesn’t run out like the preheated water held in a tank does. Tankless water heaters are good for the environment because they do not waste energy keeping water hot when it is not needed.

Solar Water Heaters

A solar water heater uses the clean energy of the sun to provide you with hot water. Solar concentrators transfer heat to a working fluid. This fluid passes through a device called a heat exchanger. Water is also passed through the heat exchanger, and it is here that it is heated for use in your home. Solar water heaters will work eve in freezing weather because they concentrate the sun’s rays to create high temperatures as long as the sun is shining.

Conclusions

Plumbers and plumbing contractors can be among your best resources when you decide to make your home eco-friendly. A qualified plumber can evaluate your home and help you decide which green plumbing products will do the most to save you money, water and energy.

Dixie Somers
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Photo credit: Flickr Creative Commons via Halfrain

When a home leaks energy, the result is typically higher energy costs and causing your central heat and air to work harder than it should. For this reason, many homeowners actively seek for practical ways to improve the energy efficiency of their home. Keeping more of your home's heat and air inside will lead to lower energy costs. In the interest of helping homeowners make their home more energy efficient, here are four excellent tips on how to keep energy leaks from eating into your wallet:

Create a Draft Snake

The area at the base of a door leading outside the home is a major issue for a lot of home owners. This is more noticeable in the winter time, when a stream of cold air is pouring in through the open space between the door and the floor. One action a homeowner can take is to create a draft-snake to place in front of the base of their front or back door to prevent air flow. Making a draft-snake is relatively easy and fun. Simply sew up a long tunnel shaped piece of material, fill it with some type of cloth or foam padding, and sew up the end. The draft-snake should be long enough by measure to cover the entire base of the door it will be blocking. Some people even go an extra step and make their draft-snake look like a stuffed snake or other type of stuffed animal for decorative purposes.

Energy Loss through Sliding Glass Doors

Another major source of massive energy loss is energy loss that occurs through a sliding glass door. Because the outside of the home is usually at a different temperature than the inside of the home, the glass becomes an effective medium of energy transfer. Since the surface of the glass is relatively large by area, this allows for more energy transfer than a small window. When the frame of a sliding glass door is metal, this will allow heat loss through conduction during the winter months. One action a home owner can take to remedy this problem is to switch out the aluminum frame for a fiberglass frame, thus eliminating a significant amount of conductive heat loss. To prevent even further thermal loss, another step a home owner can take is to use a thicker insulated curtain to cover the sliding glass door with. Using a reflective material to reflect incoming sunlight back outside during the summer months will help prevent external heating from making your home too warm as well.

Sealing Cracks and Replacing Old Windows

It is inevitable that cracks will form around aging window frames and sills. To prevent energy from leaking through these cracks, it is possible to purchase calking agents to help fill and cover any cracks around a window. Installing seals at closing points on an old window is another action a home owner can take to help keep leaks from being a problem. If a home owner wants to update their home, installing quality energy efficient windows is another way to improve your homes energy efficiency. Newer frames and seals around the closure points of windows will prevent energy leakage for years to come. Installing double pained glazed windows will allow for a thermal gap between the two pains that prevents energy loss from occurring. Professionals who offer Winter Park, FL shutters suggest that you use lighter window treatments as well, in order to keep the home cool and energy efficient.

Insulation

Insulation is an important key to preventing a home from experiencing energy loss. Poorly insulated areas, such as walls, the attic and a crawl space will inevitably create situations for major energy loss to occur. In fact, since heat rises, an attic that is not well insulated will allow heat to escape through the roof at an alarming rate; consequently, applying a layer of insulation in an attic is one of the most cost effective methods for preventing heat energy loss in winter.

Energy has numerous opportunities to leak out of your home; however, by taking a few simple steps, you can significantly reduce the amount of energy loss your home is experiencing. By reducing energy loss, you will begin to see that your heating and cooling bills will reduce significantly. If you have difficulty identifying ways energy is leaking from your home, it may be necessary to contact a professional who specializes in inspecting and troubleshooting energy leak issues associated with residential homes.

Dixie Somers

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

Proper Waste Disposal

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

Use a Trash Compactor

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

Insulate Your Home

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

Use a Water Filter

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

Shop In-Season

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

Every Bit Counts

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

Dixie Somers
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Photo credit: Flickr Creative Commons via Mackenzie

Anyone who lives in a city is aware of the negative environmental impacts of the transportation industry. Most cars on the road today still have internal combustion engines that emit large amounts of carbon and other pollutants. Even seemingly clean alternatives, such as electric subways and trains, still release tons of carbon annually. In all, according to the EPA, transportation was responsible for emission of just under two thousand million metric tons of carbon dioxide in 2012, just in the U.S. Coupled with the struggle to reduce emissions is the growing population both in the U.S. (0.77% annually) and globally (just over 1% annually). Thus, the transportation industry is in a paradox of increased demand, concurrent with a need for greener practices. Additionally, many "green" technologies are projected to not be available until 2020 or later. So, what's being done to remedy the situation?

Lesser Evils

As mentioned above, cars are an obvious source of emissions. Large amounts of carbon are emitted to transport a few individuals or less. Therefore, a common solution, especially in large urban areas, is the implementation of policies encouraging people to use public transportation. Electric trains and subways do produce emissions, but are negligible compared to gas powered vehicles. But, objectively, how much greener are these forms of transport? According to a 2008 analysis of carbon pathways in transportation, switching from car to rail transportation saves an average of 106g of carbon dioxide per kilometer traveled. This may sound insignificant. But, according to The Washington Post, the average American's commute is 25 miles. So, if we extrapolate and convert this figure, the average American would reduce his or her annual carbon emissions by 2444 lbs, assuming a five day a week commute.

Tech Savvy Trucking

Given that gas cars won't be off the road in the foreseeable future, there's another solution to carbon emissions from transportation that can be applied on the road. Between integrative software from IBM and a growing demand from inefficient tractor trailers and trucks, the carbon emissions due to trucking are projected to decrease significantly in the coming years.

The transportation industry is facing growing demand in addition to growing pressure to go green. However, an industry this large takes time to implement widespread changes. While many green technologies are still being developed, proactive measures can be taken. The transportation industry needs help. But it has solutions, both on the road and off. The information for this article was provided by the professionals of 99 Truck Parts & Industrial Equipment Ltd., who specialize in truck parts in Surrey.

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

Tax Credits and Assistance

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

Quick Return on Investment

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

Increased Property Value

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

Reduced Energy Bills

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

Clean and Renewable

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

The Future

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

Dixie Somers

Renewable energy has a long history. Since the mid-1950s, it has been a boiler plate for future energy initiatives. Designs for wind, geothermal and solar energy can be traced back to scientific concepts of men like Nicola Tesla and Thomas Edison. As it continues to gain supporters and traction, the quest for renewable energy sources isn’t slowing down any time soon. In 2015, renewable energy will become an even bigger deal for several reasons.

Reduction in Costs of Renewable Energy

Formerly, the cost to convert to renewable energy was prohibitive. The average cost to purchase solar panels for the average home in 1990 was approximately $30 to $60,000. For larger, commercial buildings, the costs reached as high as $1 million, depending on the size of the building. The reason for the higher costs was due to having to import solar panels from foreign countries of manufacture, namely China. Wind turbines have always been less expensive to purchase, although the volume of power supplied determines the size of the turbines and their power. Geothermal energy has been used in Scandinavia for more than two decades. Scandinavian countries have access to natural hot springs and spas that provide a large source of geothermal energy.

More Choices in Renewable Energy

With the advent of greater hi-tech advancements, consumers have enjoyed more choice in renewable energy. For example, in 2015, many homeowners can convert to renewable that will make their homes totally independent of electric grids. This has already been done by Michael Strizky of Hopewell NJ, a former NASA employee and inventor. He built his home to be completely independent of fossil fuel energy. In addition to solar panels, his home also is installed with hydrogen and fuel cells. For the average homeowner, however, solar energy conversions are far less costly than in the past. For example, many solar energy companies offer several types of conversion plans:

. Purchase of panels

. Lease to buy

. Lease via annual contract

. Free in exchange for a regular monthly solar utility charge

Advancements in Renewable Energy Production

In 2015, it is more likely that conversions to renewable energy will be a result of the advancements of the past five years. With the knowledge that fuel cells can contain sustainable amounts of energy, the sizes of these cells will inevitably make it possible for greater energy storage and less dependency on fossil fuels. In addition, many European scientists in Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden have developed full solar arrays that allow countries to produce more than 60% of their country's total energy supply. In 2014, solar energy production in Germany rose to nearly 50% according to several sources. German technology in renewables has outpaced much of the rest of the countries of the world. This type of progress shows that 2015 may be the year that renewable energy is finally validated as a viable alternative to fossil fuel energy.

Long Term, Proven Track Record of Effective Energy

Perhaps, the best testament to the effectiveness of renewable energy is those facilities, commercial, industrial and governmental, that invested in renewable energy since its advent in the energy industry. Many of these facilities installed solar panels in the late 1990s and have now exchanged the panels for newer generations that withstand winds up to 120 mph, where formerly the wind integrity was 90 mph.

Increase in Investments for Renewable Energy

In addition to the physical investments in renewable energy, the banking giant, Goldman Sachs, in 2013, reported on its intention to increase investments in clean, renewable energy. In 2015, interest in these investments will become an even bigger deal as large corporations invest in clean energy initiatives, and get behind large projects.

As you can see, the search for renewable energy isn’t just one of the latest trends that will soon fade. As technology advances, and large companies get on board, we are continually finding new resources for renewable energy. The information for this article was provided by the professionals of LFG Technologies who specialize in renewable energy projects that convert landfill gas into energy.

Dixie Somers

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

Internet Searches

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

Look for Evidence

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

Check for Awards or Certifications

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

Learn About the Company

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

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

Dixie Somers

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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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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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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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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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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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Overtaxing the natural sources of water can seriously degrade the ecosystem. Water restrictions have become commonplace in urban areas. This is partly due to population growth. In addition, droughts in areas like California have become worse in recent years. There is also a personal incentive to save water. You will save money on your water bill if you by water consumption.

Change Water Use Habits

You would be surprised by how much water you waste due to habitual behavior. For example, you may routinely take a bath instead of showering. Baths consume up to 70 gallons of water a shower only uses 10 to 25 gallons. It’s also a good idea not to let the tap run while you brush your teeth or shave. That unused water is money down the drain. Another way to reduce water use is to run the clothes washer and dishwasher only when they are full. Avoid over watering your lawn. The Environmental Protection Agency says half of the water used outdoors is wasted.

Do Simple Fixes

Change your shower head for a low-flow model. You can do the same for faucets with few simple tools by installing flow restrictors. Check for toilet leaks by putting a few drops of food coloring in the tank. If there is color in the bowl after 30 minutes, buy a repair kit from your building supply store.

Watch for Leaks

Check for plumbing leaks periodically. A single dripping faucet can waste up to 3,000 gallons yearly. You may be able install a new faucet yourself, but call a professional if you need to. Leaks only get worse with time. Watch for signs of trouble. For example, drain cleaning is occasionally necessary, but a clogged drain can usually be cleared with a plunger or drain cleaner. Again, you may need a professional like King Rooter to do major drain cleaning. The thing to remember is that constant clogging indicates worn plumbing, which is likely to start leaking.

Buy Efficient Appliances

Clothes washers and Dishwashers are not inexpensive. However, there is a way of limiting the cost of water saving models. Wait until you are ready to buy a new one. Choose a water saving model and the only cost is the difference compared to traditional designs. Finally, consider a low flow toilet. These save 1.3 to 1.6 gallons per flush, which adds up to thousands of gallons each year. If you are handy with tools, you can install it yourself, and a low flow toilet isn’t very expensive

Conclusion

Admittedly, fixing some plumbing problems requires costly professional help. However, there are a lot of ways you can do to inexpensively reduce water use. The secret is to be proactive. Steps such as changing habits costs you nothing. In fact, lifestyle changes save you money.

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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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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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.