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All things green, eco-friendly, and seriously sustainable

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Dixie Somers

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If you're concerned about the environment, you know that everyone who conserves power is cutting down on all overall demand. That reduces pressure on local ecosystems or adding to pollution and global warming. Options like solar power may be outside your budget, but there are simple ways to conserve electricity. Here are some things you can do.

Reduce Phantom Load

This is power that some devices use even when they're turned off. Digital displays, status lights, and similar indicators are still drawing power 24 hours a day. While this seems minor, you may have multiple devices around the home, such as TVs, computer equipment, kitchen gadgets, and more. That can add up to significant energy use. Plug items that aren't constantly needed into outlet strips that you can turn on or off when not in use.

Energy-Efficient Appliances

When it's time to replace major appliances, look for more energy-efficient models. Most will have ENERGY STAR labels that indicate how much power use is involved and how much you can expect to pay for it. In the meantime, you can maximize efficiency by not using appliances needlessly. Hang up the laundry outside on a sunny day instead of turning on the dryer, and avoid running partial loads in the dishwasher or washing machine.

Modern Lighting

The old incandescent bulbs are extreme energy-wasters. Most of that produces heat, not light, so they're also a safety risk. Modern LED lights use 75 percent less energy and last up to 25 times longer. Instead of swapping bulbs, you can also find a variety of LED fixtures that can be connected straight to your home wiring to provide efficient, safe light where you need it for years to come.

Use Fans

Over-using AC is a primary power drain as the summer comes on. Establish a temperature toward the higher end of the comfort zone for your family. Dress appropriately for the heat even indoors, and use fans throughout the house to keep the air moving and cool you naturally through evaporation of sweat. Keep plenty of cold water on hand, and turn down the AC as soon as it's dark.

Check Your Wiring

Old wiring or improper DIY additions or improvements can lead to electrical "leaks" that are costing you money. Turn off everything in the house, including breakers for things like hot water heaters that don't have switches. If your electrical meter continues to climb, you have a wiring problem. Significant use could mean several problems. Call in an experienced electrician from a company like Beckstoffer-Welsh Inc to diagnose and correct the issue.

Power conservation requires some planning and a little self-sacrifice. But if you can reduce your bills and preserve the environment, it's worth it.

Dixie Somers

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Organic farming is more common than ever before and is changing agriculture practices around the world. Organic farming is the fastest growing type of agriculture in North America. Canadian farmers are conducting research into the benefits of organic agriculture and strategies to make farms in Canada more profitable and environmentally-friendly.

Damage from Pesticides and Chemicals

Organic foods are proven to be healthier than foods that are grown commercially using pesticides and chemicals. Pests that are damaging to crops and diseases that attack plants thrive in a climate where one crop is grown consistently, which means chemicals and pesticides must be used to contain disease and kill pests. Using chemicals results in the minerals and nutrients in the soil is depleted faster. When the soil is no longer useful, more forests must be cut down to obtain more land for farming, and the cycle never ends.

Research has proven that intensive farming has considerable, damaging effects on people, animals, soil, and water. Intensive farming relies on the use of massive amounts of pesticides and chemicals. This system of farming extends to how livestock is raised and treated through factory farming, the effect on ecosystems and natural habitats, and depletion of the soil. More than 40 percent of the land on this planet is for the production of food. With the increase in population worldwide, more sustainable methods of farming must be adopted.

Benefits of Organic Farming

One of the biggest advantages of organic farming is conserving resources that are non-renewable and producing foods that are healthier. Organic farming doesn't rely on chemicals, pesticides, and fertilizers. In fact, many conventional farmers and some organic farmers use fertilizers like those from Nature Safe, which are in harmony with the Federal National Organic Program. Natural composting is another method of naturally fertilizing the soil. Cultivating the land excessively prevents rainwater from being absorbed into the soil. When chemicals are used, the runoff from the topsoil goes into streams and rivers, further polluting them.

Organic agriculture has a positive effect on the environment over the long-term with crop rotation, a minimum of tillage, and organic fertilizers. Another advantage of organic farming is that the need for non-renewable energy sources is reduced. Although the effect of GMOs on health and the environment isn't conclusive, Genetically Modified Organisms aren't allowed in the production of organic foods, making them healthier. One of the biggest incentives for small farmers is that organic farming requires a lower, initial investment than traditional farming, especially since no chemicals are involved.

One of the most effective ways to conserve our natural resources, combat climate change, and eat healthier food is through more organic farming methods.

Dixie Somers

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

Stick with Seasonal Produce

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

Optimize Your Home Heating

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

Salting and Shoveling

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

Recycle Your Christmas Tree

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

Use Water Responsibly

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

Year-Round Sustainability

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

Dixie Somers

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

Identifying Recyclable Metals

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

Recycling Copper

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

Bagging Your Aluminum Cans

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

Public Recycling

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

Electronics and Chemical Recycling Programs

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

Final Thoughts

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

Dixie Somers

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

Replace Incandescent Bulbs with CFLs

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

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

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

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

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

Invest in LEDs

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

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

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

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

Conserve Light

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

Use Eco-friendly Light Fixtures

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

·         recycled Steel

·         reclaimed Shell

·         bamboo

·         recycled Glass

·         FSC-certified Wood

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

Mount Skylights

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Install Solar Lights

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

Landscape

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

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

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

Rooftop Domes

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

Inquire about Rebates and Incentives from Your Electric Company

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

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

Green Lights

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

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

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

Dixie Somers

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Under both public and government pressure, more industries are adopting eco-friendly practices. Business owners are also looking for ways to incorporate green practices into their operations out of their own environmental concern. One of the industries that's increasingly focused on going green is dentistry. Here are just a few of the ways that dentists have become more eco-friendly.

1. Office environment

More dentists are opting to use green materials in both the exterior and interior of their facilities. Fabrics, panels, finishes, and many other products are now available that are made from non-toxic, biodegradable, and sustainable recycled materials. The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design has established benchmarks for green construction. Designs are based on a point rating system and earn LEED certifications you can display.

2. Office practices

In your practice you should also be following the paperless trend in business processes by shifting from hard copies and paper forms to digital records and web-based information, including automated systems for patient appointments and reminders. Dentists are also trying to measure, track, and improve such concerns as solid waste, water conservation, and reduced energy consumption. Low-flow toilets and fixtures, smart HVAC systems, and LED lighting will save on resources and monthly bills.

3. Patient practices

Use of green cleaning and sterilization products is creating a safer, healthier environment for your patients. Digital radiography is reducing the need for chemical-based films and development, as well as lowering radiation risks to patients. Some items such as tubes or IV bags were once made with PVC, or polyvinyl chloride. PVC has been linked with cancer, birth defects, and diabetes, among other ailments. You can now replace these products with safer, eco-friendly materials such as biodegradable plastics. It might be worth it to check around at other clinics like Silverado Family Dental to see what their practices are when it comes to the environment.

4. Dental amalgams

Dentists have traditionally used amalgam for common tooth fillings, without the general public recognizing that the principle ingredient of amalgam is mercury, now universally recognized as a toxic metal. It can cause severe nervous disorders leading to loss of motor and cognitive abilities. One of the major sources of mercury in community waste water comes from dental practices. Today's dentists, however, are leaning toward use of composite resins, or installing elimination systems to prevent the mercury from reaching municipal water systems. By taking these approaches, you'll do your part in removing this heavy metal from accumulating in the environment.

These are just a few ideas for making your dental office more eco-friendly. Your staff and patients will appreciate that your practice is helping to make our planet a safer, cleaner place.

Dixie Somers

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Environmentalism has moved well beyond being just a hot-button talking point during election cycles. Green initiatives and eco-friendly solutions are expected from seemingly unrelated industries and service providers across the board. While it may initially surprise you, plumbing companies are among those devising eco-friendly methods and solutions, a vital fact given that water is one of our most precious resources.

Solar Powered Water Heating

With temperature control accounting for nearly 50 percent of the average household's energy bill, finding natural ways to accomplish this is a win for both homeowners and the environment. Now that solar panels are significantly more affordable, thanks in part to both government initiatives and sheer advancement of the technology, even plumbing companies have developed novel ways to utilize solar energy.

Water heaters powered with solar energy are not only more energy efficient than their electric counterparts, but thanks to battery back-up systems, homeowners no longer have to worry about the occasional stretch of cloudy weather. Solar heaters that use direct circulation are best for homes in warm climates, while indirect circulation systems are perfectly adapted for use in cold climates, meaning regardless of where you live, solar powered water heating is a viable green option.

Graywater Recycling

Each year, single households waste thousands of gallons worth of water simply because it's no longer fit to drink. Between showering, laundry, dishwashing, and other activities, the amount of water we use beyond our doctor-recommended eight glasses a day is astounding. In fact, the average person creates about 40 gallons of graywater each day.

However, water that's passed through the washing machine or shower still has plenty of other uses. Once installed, graywater systems collect, filter, and store this water, saving it for toilet flushing, landscaping, and plenty of other applications around your property. Additionally, you can further stretch your graywater’s potential uses by choosing an eco-friendly laundry detergent.

Eco-Friendly Toilets

It may seem silly, but one of the simplest and most effective ways plumbers make homes more efficient is through the installation of eco-friendly toilets. Depending upon the age of your toilet, it can use anywhere from three to seven gallons just for a single flush. Even at a conservative single flush a day, this adds up to more than 3,000 gallons of water a year.

Eco-friendly toilets work just as well, but use anywhere from 20 to 60 percent less water per flush. Not only is this great for the environment, but it also can dramatically lower your water bill. When combined with a grey water system, this can add up to astounding savings throughout the course of a year.

Water Pipes

Common wisdom holds that, while more expensive, copper pipes are still the best bet for durability and heat retention. However, copper has been edged out by both steel and PEX (polyethylene) pipes, which offer the same benefits at a lower price point. Because these materials are excellent at storing heat, they're often used by plumbing companies that provide homeowners with green solutions. Contact a plumbing company like L.J. Kruse Company if you have questions about your specific pipes.

If you absolutely must have copper piping, there's an environmentally friendly fix for them, as well as for cheaper plastic pipes. Adding a layer of insulation will not only offer a little protection, but can also improve heat retention by as much as 80 percent.

Faucets and Shower Heads

While a comparatively small bit of hardware compared to toilets and water heaters, even shower heads and faucets can waste startling amounts of water. For example, older shower heads can release as much as two and half gallons in 60 seconds, while older sink faucets tend to drip no matter how hard you try to tighten them.

High efficiency shower heads and faucets provide more than enough water pressure for bathing, washing dishes, and brushing teeth without the unnecessary waste of older units. Like eco-friendly toilets, these also pair well with grey water systems. Furthermore, a high efficiency shower head combined with a solar powered water heater will let you take long, hot showers free of guilt.

Do Your Part

We all need to do our part to adopt more sustainable and earth-friendly ways of living. Environmentalism begins at home, and there's no better place to start than with your home's plumbing system. Eco-friendly plumbing will not only reduce your carbon footprint and maximize the usefulness of each gallon, as a suite of green plumbing system can also net you hundreds in savings on your annual utility bill.

Dixie Somers

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Many homeowners dread opening up their energy bills during the warmest and coolest months of the year. Throughout the country, HVAC systems account for about 48 percent of all residential energy consumption. If you would like to reduce your energy bills, then here is a closer look at some ways you can make your HVAC system as eco-friendly as possible.

Upgrade to a Programmable Thermostat

Very few people realize just how much of an impact that a thermostat has on an HVAC system. Not only are many older thermostats inaccurate, but there is no way to turn the system off once you are out of the home. A programmable thermostat will allow you to turn the system on just before you get home instead of letting it run all day.

Clean the Outdoor Coils

Most HVAC systems have an outdoor condenser unit that draws in air. Along the outside of these units are coils that cool the air down before it is blown into the ducts. Cleaning the coils once every few weeks is another simple way to improve the efficiency of the system without spending any money. Homeowners should also trim foliage back at least a few feet so that debris doesn’t get caught in the coils or fans.

Regularly Change Your Filters

HVAC filters remove dust, dander, and other outdoor toxins from the air before your family breathes them in. Depending on where you live and how often you use the HVAC system, you might need to change the filters as often as once every few weeks. Clogged air filters create an immense amount of pressure in the ducts, and your system must work much harder to keep pushing air through the vents. Even high-quality filters need to be changed once every 80 or 90 days. If you need help with this step, contact a company like Doctor Fix-It.

Add More Insulation

Quite a bit of energy will be wasted trying to keep your home at a comfortable temperature if it isn’t properly insulated. The insulation in your crawlspaces and attic should be inspected at least a few times a year to make sure that it isn’t flattened or torn. You also need to check the caulking around your doors and windows for any signs of damage. Adding a little bit of extra insulation and caulking could end up saving your hundreds every year.

Don’t Block the Vents

Many families make the mistake of closing vents or blocking them with furniture, and that can be very bad for an HVAC system. Much like a clogged filter, a closed vent will create more pressure within the ducts and force the system to work much harder. Even if a room is unoccupied, the vents should still be kept completely open. Anything that increases pressure in your ducts is bad for your heater and air conditioner.

No matter how well you care for your HVAC system, there will come a point when it needs to be replaced entirely. On average, modern heaters and furnaces should be replaced once every 12 or 15 years. Homeowners who wait too long to replace their HVAC systems are almost always going to be stuck dealing with huge bills and expensive repairs down the road.

Dixie Somers

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

 

Change the Thermostat

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

 

Change Light Bulbs

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

 

Get a New Ride

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

 

Unplug Appliances

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

 

Grow Your Own Food

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

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

Dixie Somers

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Whether you're concerned about the chemicals in cleaning products or you simply want to save money, natural cleaning solutions are a healthy, cost-effective way to ensure that your home sparkles. With a little research and a few common ingredients, you can make DIY cleaners for every crevice. Here are five recipes to get you started.

1. Lemons

Yes, just lemons. Citrus fruit can clean everything from your garbage disposal to your countertops (provided they aren't marble or stainless steel). You can also mix lemon juice with sea salt for a natural scouring solution or with one or two tablespoons of cream of tartar to make a paste for cleaning grout.

2. Natural Tile Cleaner

Avoid the chemicals in commercial tile cleaning products with this easy DIY solution. Start with a half cup of baking soda, then add your favorite natural liquid soap slowly until you achieve a frosting-like consistency. Top it off with five to ten drops of your favorite essential oil. Make the paste with water instead of soap and leave out the fragrance for a green oven cleaner.

3. Citrus-Infused Vinegar

Grab the lemon peels from the fruit you juiced for the first tip to make this versatile solution. Just fill a jar with lemon, orange, and lime peels, then fill to the top with white vinegar. Let it sit for anywhere from three to 14 days before straining out the vinegar. The resulting solution can be used to clean windows and glass, disinfect germy surfaces, and mop floors, though you might want to contact a company like A-Plus Window Cleaning if the windows are extremely dirty. On its own, vinegar can be used to clean your coffee maker, dishwasher, drains, and showerheads.

4. Natural Laundry Soap

For this easy, money-saving recipe, mix one part soap flakes or grated bar soap with two parts each of Borax and washing soda. Store the mixture in a glass jar or other closed container, and use between two tablespoons and a quarter cup for each load of laundry.

5. Heavy-Duty Toilet Scrub

Instantly clean and disinfect your toilet by mixing a half cup of baking soda, 10 drops of tea tree, and a quarter-cup of white vinegar. The fizzy mixture easily washes away accumulated grime while you scrub with a brush. When you're done, mix baking soda with essential oil in a clean jar with a lid for an instant air freshener.

Once you've tried these quick-and-easy, all-natural cleaning fixes, you'll never want to go back to the harsh smells, damaging chemicals, and prohibitive cost of commercial cleaning products.

Dixie Somers

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

Reduce Weight

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

Fill it Right

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

Keep the AC Off

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

Stay on top of Emissions

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

Tune it up

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

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

Dixie Somers

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

A Simple Approach

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

Add on a Roof Overhang

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

Installing Your Eco-Friendly Roof

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

Conclusion

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

Dixie Somers

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

Food Recycling Bins

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

Solar Wallpaper

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

Footstep Energy

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

Learning Thermostats

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

Resistance Spot Welding

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

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

Dixie Somers

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The skies aren’t just gray these days because of the weather. Despite years of scientific warnings, air quality continues to deteriorate on a global level. The situation is only going to intensify as more and more nations become fully industrialized. Will governments work to help reverse these trends? While an increasing number are taking leadership roles in addressing this problem, others are actually backing away from them. So who will step into this air quality breach? Increasingly, it is business interests that are doing so. Read on to learn more about how they are identifying and addressing air quality issues.

Managing All Pollution Sources Generated by a Business

When we talk about pollution generated by businesses, we tend to think of waste streams that are directly generated by a firm’s work. But there are all sorts of ways that can affect air quality. Businesses wanting to improve air quality should consider the ways in which they could be impacting it, which range from transportation to maintenance practices.

Outside and Indoor Air Quality

While outdoor air quality rightfully gets much attention, the indoor air quality of a workplace can often be much worse. There is much companies can do to improve air here, which includes changing work practices to reduce emissions, making changes to building designs and furnishings, and installing sensors and filters. And in order to get the most out of these changes, businesses should start by working with a firm that specializes in air quality and emissions control, such as Stephenson Environmental Management Australia. These firms will help businesses effectively find problems and develop solutions that work.

Work Hours

While pollution at any time is not good, emissions produced at key periods can affect air quality. To try to reduce their environmental footprints, more companies are now introducing “flex” hours for certain types of work. Not only does this staggered staffing lower energy costs and emissions for buildings, it can reduce air pollution during key atmospheric periods.

Transportation

The carbon dioxide emitted by gasoline burning vehicles is one of the greatest sources of poor air quality. Businesses can do their part to help reduce this by making wiser decisions concerning scheduling both ground and air deliveries. They can work to change the “transportation mentality” of employees as well. Encouraging and helping to provide car pool services, as well as offering incentives to use available public transportation can help to reduce pollution footprints caused by individual firms.

Tradition

Your company’s equipment and infrastructure may have gotten the job done for years, but what’s it doing to the environment? Making “green” upgrades to both equipment and practices aren’t just better for air quality. They can save companies tens of thousands of dollars with government incentives, rebates, and grants.

Improved air quality is certainly not only the responsibility of businesses alone. But in leading by example, these companies not only improve the environment for us all, but insure a lucrative business environment for years to come.

Dixie Somers

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

Low Flow Toilets

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

Sustainable Landscaping

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

Better Faucets and Showers

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

Efficient Appliances

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

Secure Pipes

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

Do Your Part

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

Dixie Somers

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When it comes to saving energy, you can consider your whole home as a system with the potential for better performance in many areas. Lower power consumption basically comes down to insulation and improved efficiency. Here are five steps to making your home more energy efficient.

Your House’s Envelope

Be certain that your walls and attic are thoroughly insulated. The less energy you’re losing, the less you have to generate. Rolls of insulation may do for an unfinished attic, but use blown-in insulation to add a little extra to exterior walls. If you’re due for roof repair or replacement, inquire with local roofing companies like Cloise & Mike Construction Inc about some modern options designed to provide better insulation from the top down.

Upgrade Windows

Most temperature loss comes through thin window panes. If the windows are old and have small gaps, they could be the biggest energy-wasters in your home. Be sure that your window frames are sealed with caulk or weather-stripping. If budget allows, you should upgrade to energy-efficient modern products that provide a better seal and much better protection. Be sure to look for EnergyStar products.

Install Awnings

Think about the windows in your home that admit the most sunlight. You can buy and attach awnings over these windows to block out the sun in the hot weather, and roll them back to admit sun when it gets cool out. You’ll find awnings in any number of sizes, colors, and styles to suit your home’s exterior. Some must be hand-cranked into position, but you can also find motorized products that make it easy to extend or retract the awnings.

Maintain Your HVAC

If your heating, ventilation, and AC unit is more than 10 years old, consider an upgrade to more energy-efficient models. Be sure your HVAC is scaled accurately to your home’s interior volume, as inadequate systems will work harder while over-sized systems will waste energy. At the least, have your HVAC units checked yearly to see that they’re in good order. Clean or replace filters as needed, and be sure to have your ducts checked to remove any accumulation of debris constricting air flow.

Improve Your Hot Water Heater

If you have an old water heater, you might want to consider upgrading it to a more efficient EnergyStar model. Keep the water temperature no higher than 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Be sure that the lines coming into the home are insulated to reduced heat loss. You should also consider adding some loose insulation around the heater itself. To minimize your hot water use, consider adding low-flow, aerated faucets and showers.

If you really want to save energy you should consider upgrading to technologies like smart lighting systems or solar panels. But don’t forget that the most important way to conserve energy is to stop being wasteful.

Dixie Somers

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

What Is Wastewater?

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

What Is Graywater?

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

Wastewater Technologies

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

How Can You Help?

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

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

Dixie Somers

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

Solar Power Installation Prices

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

Breaking Down the Cost-Savings Benefits of Solar Power

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

Net Metering

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

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

Solar Tax Credit

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

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

Dixie Somers

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

Recycle

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

Utilize Alternative Energy

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

Lower Power Usage

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

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

Use Less Paper

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

Be Aware

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

Dixie Somers

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

Determining the Right Size

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

Choosing a System Type

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

Understanding Efficiency Ratings

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

A Look at Maintenance Costs

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

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