Dixie Somers

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  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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
  10. 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.
  11. 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
  12. 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.
  13. 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!
  14. 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.
  15. 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.