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All things green, eco-friendly, and seriously sustainable

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

City and County Water Lines

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

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

Install Your Own Well and Pump

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

Keep Water Catchment System Clean

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

Reduce Use of Pesticides

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

Properly Maintain Plumbing and Sewage Systems

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

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

Dixie Somers

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

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

Paper Products

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

Lighting

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

Energy Sources

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

Solar Parking Lots

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

Green Chemicals

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

The Environmental Bottom Line

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

Dixie Somers

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

Make Fewer Trips

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

Encourage Work from Home

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

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

Incorporate Alternative Fuel Vehicles

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

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

Recycle Equipment

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

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

Dixie Somers

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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

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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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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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You can’t assume that winter is the one season where you have little impact on a frozen environment. During winter, a lot of chemicals, dirt, debris, and waste are collected along with the snow, and as soon as the spring thaw hits these pollutants are washed away into local storm drains and water courses. Even before the thaw, exhaust and other harmful substances can impact air quality and human health. Here are some steps you can take this winter to help preserve the environment.

Use an Eco-Friendly Deicer

Some deicers contain harmful chemicals, while others that seem to be natural, such as common rock salt, are not safe. Most deicers can be harmful to pets, wildlife, playing children, and the environment. Check the labels for eco-friendly, pet-safe brands. Even then, use them sparingly. Follow the manufacturer recommendations. Don’t forget that common dirt or sawdust can provide traction on slippery ice while being much more eco-friendly.

Electric, Not Fuel

If you can, try using an electrical or battery-powered snow blower. This will reduce the fossil-fuel hydrocarbons that are going into the air to damage the ozone layer and contribute to global warming. You and your neighbors will also breathe much easier while snow removal is taking place. Inside the home, never use fuel-based heaters. These can lead to a build-up of deadly carbon monoxide as well as harmful exhaust. Even if you’re using a fireplace or woodstove for heat, have a carbon monoxide detector installed just to be safe.

Pick Up Debris

Pick up any kind of trash before it becomes part of the deep freeze. This is especially true around trash bins where litter is most likely to accumulate. If you have outdoor equipment like boats, lawnmowers, or project automobiles, be sure they’re fully winterized and stored indoors to prevent leaching rust, heavy metals, or oils and grease into the soil as the ice melts. If you don’t have the internal space, consider renting a storage unit from a business like Walsh Moving & Storage where you can keep your things safe and dry during the cold season.

Maintain Your Heating System

Inefficient appliances are big wasters of fuel or electricity. This means you’re either squandering limited resources like natural gas, or drawing needless energy from the grid that power companies have to work harder to replace. Your fuel and electrical providers work harder, releasing their own pollutants into the environment. Whether you’re using a traditional stand-alone furnace or an electrical HVAC system, have it checked when the cold weather hits to be sure it’s performing optimally.

The long months of winter can also add a lot of pollutants to the air and ground. Don’t let the focus on staying warm or planning for the holidays let your environmental concerns lapse.

Dixie Somers

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

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

Take Part in a Local Electronics Recycling Program

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

Buy Used and Refurbished Electronics

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

Pull the Plug

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

Go Green on Heating and Cooling

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

Conclusion

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

Dixie Somers

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

Reference for Regulations

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

Summary of 49 CFR

The information found here covers:

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

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

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

  4. Safety and training requirements and equipment.

Staying in Compliance

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

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

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

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

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

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

Check with Insurers

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

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

Dixie Somers

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

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

Potential for Cheap and Continuous Power

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

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

New Solar Skin Designs

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

Purify Your Water with the Sun

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

Tracking the Path of the Sun

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

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

Dixie Somers

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

Vacuum Sealer

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

Low-Flow Faucets

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

Recycled Sinks

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

Air Fryer

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

LED Lights

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

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

Dixie Somers

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

Open Your Windows

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

Don’t Load Your Car Up

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

Drive More Conservatively

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

Keep Your Check Engine Light Off

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

Don’t Overfill Your Car

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

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

Dixie Somers

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

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

1. Make Money Back with Buy Back

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

2. Help Protect the Environment

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

3. Get a Recycling Tax Credit

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

4. Set a Social Example

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

5. Protect Your Sensitive Information

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

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

Dixie Somers

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

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

Switch to Energy Star Appliances

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

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

Use Power Strips

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

Give Your HVAC System a Tune Up

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

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

Add Window Tint, Blinds and Curtains

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

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

Replace Weather Stripping to Reduce Drafts

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

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

Dixie Somers

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

Weatherize Your House

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

Cook Responsibly

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

Wash Your Clothes in Cold Water

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

Stop Phantom Loads

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

Schedule an Energy Audit

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

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