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Found 96 results

  1. Not very long ago, private swimming pools belonged to the domain of the wealthy; until the middle of the last century, they were out of reach of the average citizen. Today, approximately eight million American homes display this amenity. As more and more homeowners throughout the country find swimming pools an affordable and attractive addition to their lives, another trend is developing. Recognizing the vital importance of conservation to the health of our planet, individuals are making eco-conscious decisions when implementing pools in their homes. Read on to see some of the ways they do this. Sun Power Solar energy is capable of more than heating your home and providing electrical power. Solar panels can warm pool water and fuel equipment. A solar swimming pool cover is an option for those whose budgets do not allow a full-fledged system: it keeps water debris-free and heats it at the same time. You can even harness the power of the sun to help keep your private swimming hole bacteria-free: ozone sterilization systems transform oxygen into germ-killing ozone. The Right Equipment Devices like variable speed pumps and in-floor cleaning systems are big energy savers. The former efficiently circulates the water, and the latter performs this task while keeping your pool clean and distributing heat from solar panels. And since equipment need not be running constantly, especially during cooler months, timers are essential. A smartphone or computer application enables you to run pool apparatus from anywhere, eliminating its energy-draining use when not needed. Your family members can start up the equipment remotely so the pool will be ready when you are. Salt water Oceans have a built-in mechanism to keep algae and bacteria at bay: salt water systems. In recent years, pool owners have been utilizing saline to achieve the same result. A chlorine generator cell transforms ordinary table salt into chlorine, which reverts back into its original, non-polluting form. Owners of traditional pools can easily make the switch to saline, and using less costly salt instead of chemicals helps offset the initial expense. Maintenance is simple: clean the chlorine cell annually and add salt to the water every month. The benefits go beyond keeping your pool bacteria- and algae-free: swimmers are more buoyant in salt water (making water exercise even more pleasant), there is no chlorine to irritate eyes, and skin remains soft rather than becoming prune-like. Natural Swimming Imagine a pond in your back yard. Natural pools feature sides that slope and a variety of plants that are more than pleasing to the eyes. Greenery like sphagnum moss removes bacteria from the water and can be used for compost. (It works so well that the University of Maryland uses it in indoor pools.) Plants infuse the water with oxygen, promote healthy bacteria that take care of debris and undesirable organisms, and provide a habitat for water wildlife. Use local varieties—they need less water and maintenance—as a windbreak to limit water evaporation. Be sure to place filtering plants away from the swimming area and all greenery where they will not shed into the pool. Starting natural pools is costly but, once they are fully functional, these ponds are virtually maintenance-free and require no chemicals to keep the water clean. And no matter what type of pool graces your domain, rainwater can be used to top it off as needed. It takes only a little effort to create an oasis that is more than refreshing and a source of beneficial exercise. An eco-friendly pool saves money, reduces water use, conserves energy, and creates a home for local wildlife. It’s a win-win situation for you, your family, your community, and our planet.
  2. Do you want your home to be environmentally-friendly? Not only is that better for the environment, but it can also save you a lot of money in terms of utilities. It may even improve your home values if you ever decide to sell or take out an equity line of credit—home buyers today are increasingly interested in green renovations. Here are a few of the best modern green renovations for homeowners. 1. Smart Energy Use New smart energy systems can monitor the amount of electricity you use and let you control all of your appliances and electronics through your smartphone. Monitoring your energy usage enables you to cut back on your spending if it gets too high, while the ability to turn off appliances and electronics on the fly means that you'll never forget something on. These new smart energy systems are usually Wi-Fi configured so they can be used from anywhere, and they can be easily installed on a home's existing electricity system, making them convenient as well. 2. Eco-Friendly Water Filtration Water filtration systems are incredibly important for an eco-friendly home. Without water filtration and treatment, a fair amount of households rely upon bottled water. Americans use about 50 billion plastic water bottles each year. Not only does bottled water introduce unnecessary plastics into the environment, but it also takes waters from areas that may desperately need it, upsetting the local ecosystems. Water is also costly to ship from the bottling plants, which further increases its carbon footprint. Nevertheless, tap water is often not entirely safe to drink. A filtration system will give a homeowner the option of safely drinking water from their home. Visit a professional at Rooter Pro Plumbing for more information about the water filtration systems available for your home. 3. Indoor Composting Systems Indoor composting systems are state-of-the-art kitchen renovations with no odor or mess. These composting systems take your kitchen food waste and turn it into a nutritious compost to grow herbs and other plant directly within your kitchen. Not only does this improve your food's sustainability, but it also reduces the amount of leftovers you waste -- and replaces a garbage disposal almost entirely. An indoor composting system is run by small and harmless parasites that are able to compost your kitchen materials without the traditional odors of composting. These systems are generally built directly into a kitchen island. These are just three of the best green innovations for your home. There are dozens of ways that you can lower your home's carbon footprint, from simply improving your home's insulation to installing advanced smart home systems.
  3. You don't need to make the biggest adjustments to your life or even spend a lot of money to live a greener lifestyle. There are tons of little and simple things that you and your family can do for cheap or even for free. It really is amazing how much of a difference just your family can make when it comes to saving the environment. Here are six simple ways you and your family can contribute to a healthier environment. Bring Your Own Grocery Bags Many grocery stores bag your items in either plastic or paper bags, which are not the best options for saving the environment. Bringing your own reusable grocery bags is a much better choice, especially since some retailers pay you for every plastic bag you don't use. This may seem like such a simple little thing, but it can really be worthwhile. Brewing Morning Coffee If you and other members of your family like to drink coffee in the morning, make sure you're buying brands with a USDA Organic certified label, for this ensures that it was grown with natural substances and by sustainable standards. Not only is this good for the environment, but it can be good for you too! It is definitely worth a try! Unplug Devices You Aren't Using Electronics like your fully charged laptop, printer, the kids' video game consoles, and the TV should truly be turned off when not in use. If they are plugged into a power strip, the whole group of devices can be switched off during the evening so you can prevent electricity still being drawn through them. This can really help save you a lot of energy and a lot of money. Avoid Plastic Bottles, Invest in a Water Filter Plastic bottles are one of the biggest threats towards our ecosystem, especially in our oceans. Instead of spending money on packs of water bottles, consider investing in a water filter for your home which in turn can save you hundreds of dollars and reduce the use of plastic. Here's an Idea, Switch to Energy-Saving Lightbulbs Standard bulbs can suck up a lot of energy making your electricity bills horrendous. Energy-Star rated CFL lightbulbs use 75% less energy so they last up to 10 times longer than regular bulbs. You'll surely see a reduction in your electricity bill and your wallet will thank you. Water Saving Shower Heads and Less Shower Time Certain showerheads come with a water flow reducing switch which is ideal for the environment particularly if you have members of your household who like to take long showers. To avoid high water bills, consider implementing a shower time limit where each member should try only showering for 5-10 minutes, also turning off the water when they are applying body wash or shaving. How Can You Start? A common first step to families living greener is recycling, and with the help of services like Main Street Fibers, you’ll be on your road to recycling in no time! There are tons of great companies and resources out there for you to help you and your family figure out the best possible green living plan for you. This is definitely not something that has to be a lot of work or super overwhelming. If you do your research and utilize the right resources you should be able to really start making a difference in no time.
  4. Environmentally friendly solutions for the home might seem overwhelming and expensive, but if done correctly they can save a homeowner money without much worry or effort. Some solutions yield immediate savings while others take longer to materialize but may be even more cost saving. All of the examples below are smart ways to help the environment through lower use of water and electricity while saving money in the process. Synthetic Grass Planting and maintaining grass is not only ecologically wasteful, it’s also expensive. The constant watering that grass requires, especially in drought stricken areas, is extremely wasteful and all that wasted water costs money. According to the experts at Green Planet Grass, there is a practical and aesthetically pleasing alternative: synthetic grass, or artificial turf. Synthetic grass allows all of the same activities as normal grass, so families can still play catch and soccer, but without the associated water costs and waste of a normal lawn. Improved Insulation Upgrading the insulation in your home is a one-time cost that will lead to energy savings for a long time to come. A lot of insulation methods are associated with toxic chemicals and high prices, but they don’t have to be. By using recycled, non-toxic, but high quality insulation you won’t be polluting the environment, and a well insulated home means lower heating and cooling costs year round. Grey Water Recycling Installing a grey-water recycling system might sound overwhelming, but it can actually be as easy and straightforward as diverting laundry water to a bucket used for watering plants. This simple step can save a hundred dollars every year in water costs with just the cost of a bucket. While easily diverting used water can be affordable and simple, more complex and efficient grey-water recycling methods can also be installed, just be sure to check your state’s policies on water repurposing. Energy Efficient Appliances Energy efficient appliances can make a huge difference in electricity consumption and therefore utility costs. Switching all appliances at once probably won’t fit in most people’s budgets, and no one should be getting rid of brand new appliances, but it’s a good idea to consider replacing things that already are old and need to be replaced with appliances that will use less water and electricity. Not only will washing dishes and laundry become easier and faster, but all utility costs will drop as well.
  5. Many people want a pool on their property. It is a great investment for year-round fun as well as property value. As you consider incorporating one into your landscape, you may be thinking about the environmental issues as well as sustainability associated with it. Is is possible to have a pool that is eco-friendly? With the right knowledge and tips you can make an existing pool better for the environment overall. Solar Pool Heater According to the U.S. Department of Energy, using solar pool heating is a very cost-effective method of using solar energy. This may require a high initial investment, though. Depending on the climate, a solar pool heater will pay for itself in a short period of time. This is accomplished by lower energy costs. In some situations, a pool may require more heating than a solar heater can provide. In this case, a pool owner can choose to combine their solar heater with a convention pool heater which will still make their energy use lower. Eco-Friendly Landscaping Many owners are pleased to discover how they choose to landscape around their pool impacts the environment as well. Having plants nearby can help. Experts recommend the use of plants that are low-maintenance and can survive under drought conditions. It's also important to use plants native to where the pool is located. Trees and shrubs, when used correctly, can act as windbreaks and offer shade. This will decrease the evaporation of the pool's water, as well as its heating requirements. Reduce Chlorine Some pools are designed to use plants and not chemicals to sanitize the water and others are able to decrease or eliminate the use of standard chlorine. There are pool sanitation methods that involve ozone as well as salt water as well. Pool professionals at Bullfrog Spas recommend owners be consistent when it comes to keeping their pool clean. This will decrease the need for any extra needs for chemical sanitation. Ozone & Salt An ozone sterilization system is designed to eliminate bacteria in a pool using electricity. It eliminates swimming pool contaminants by releasing oxygen atoms. These atoms will join with any foreign substance in the pool, such as bacteria and algae, and remove them. Salt can be used to sanitize pools as well. The salt turns into a hypochlorous acid and eliminates any algae or bacteria. Variable Speed Pool Pump Experienced pool professionals tell their clients that pool pumps use even more energy than their pool's heater. It is recommended that pool owners use a variable speed pool pump. They are very popular when constructing new pools or renovating an existing pool. What makes them so efficient is their ability to only use as much energy as is needed to accomplish a certain task. Energy Efficient Lighting A pool owner has many different lighting options. Many of them are able to use much less energy than incandescent lighting. A very popular choice is LED lighting. Pool owners like this lighting because it is stylish as well as efficient. Solar lighting is excellent for illuminating pathways to the pool or around it as well. Automated Pool Systems These systems are designed to only run the water features or a pool's heater when necessary. An automated system will save you money by reducing energy costs. This type of automation also makes it easier to make certain the pool is properly maintained. Hot Tubs & Spas Sanitizers can be used to clean hot tubs and spas. The most popular ones are bromine and chlorine. There is also an effective treatment that is non-chlorine known as spa shock. You can find more information for a hot tub water care guide at professional sites as well. It is possible to maintain a pool, spa, or hot tub with methods that are safe to use and friendly to the environment. Researching what method works best you’re your situation can pay off in reduced energy costs as well as having an eco-friendly pool that doesn’t ruin the environment.
  6. Owning a home means sometimes your place will get fairly messy. You need a routine cleaning schedule to ensure the general protection of your home and family and maintenance to keep things preserved. As a greater emphasis has been placed on being environmentally friendly, people have begun to understand the need for a greener way to clean. Countless products exist that make this task simple, and most of the ingredients are probably already in your home. Here are some simple ways to get your house spiffy and still be kind to the earth. Craft an All-Purpose Cleaner The name of these ingredients speak for themselves by being safe to use on virtually anything, but there is also a multitude of ingredients that can be used in these cleaners, and each of them serves a different purpose. A common mixture includes mixing 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda with a drop of liquid soap and two cups of hot water. This mixture only takes on the odor of the soap and works to abate growing bacteria, caked on dirt, and is a great way to clean bathroom stains. The base of this cleaner allows for the incorporation of other important green items, like vinegar, as the acidity of the liquid kills all types of bacteria, ultimately making it ideal for kitchens and bathrooms. One Simple Fruit with Endless Possibilities Whether they are squeezed to make a drink, used to leave a house smelling fresh, or made into a heavy-duty cleaner, lemons are always a good idea. The acidity of a lemon works as a bleaching agent which makes it ideal for laundry, washing white surfaces and breaking down areas that collect a lot of germs like kitchen counters. Squeezing two lemons into a spray bottle with one tablespoon of baking soda makes for a profound, eco-friendly bleach. If you desire the fragrance to be more potent, though, consider reducing the baking soda to 1/2 tablespoon. Aside from mimicking a bleach, lemons are rich with citrus flavonoids which are powerful components that fight free radicals from entering the body. When used in rooms of the home where germs are the most concentrated, this cleaner guarantees a home free of sickness, disease, and even insects. Invest in an Energy Efficient Vacuum Cleaner Sometimes sweeping is not sufficient enough to rid your floor of debris and a broom is unable to reach every corner of a room. As a result, investing in a quality vacuum is essential to keep things truly dirt free. Some of the best Central Vacuum models are quiet, save energy, and have the ability to reuse the bags. The necessary power does the trick without straining valuable natural resources. For the Living Room: Corn Meal and Olive Oil People with children understand that spills are part of everyday life, but few cleaners exist that will remove the mess without harming playing children or pets. From the carpet to furniture, a natural, non-toxic cleaner is needed; this is where corn meal and olive oil are able to work their magic. Olive oil rubbed on a rag acts as a powerful furniture polish that will leave tables, chairs, and wood floors looking brand new. Corn meal on the other hand, acts as a powerful absorption tool that effortlessly lifts spills off of carpets and other fabrics. In sum, green cleaners are not only beneficial for the environment and the safety of your home and family, but work wonders on a household budget. All of the ingredients used in green cleaning are often already in the pantry or fridge and if they are not, they are easily attainable at stores throughout the world.
  7. If you want to increase your recycling efforts to be more earth-friendly, you’ll need to make some changes at home. Having an earth-friendly house is an admirable goal, but getting there can be a challenge especially when trying to change daily habits. Follow these tips to improve your family’s recycling of paper, metal, and plastic items to reduce the amount of trash that goes into landfills. Think before You Shop While shopping for food and other household goods for a family, think about what you are buying to avoid creating waste. Rather than using the store’s plastic or paper bags, bring along your own durable canvas totes to carry merchandise back home. In addition, don’t buy products that have a lot of packaging to avoid creating more trash from plastic wrappers and cardboard containers. Fill Your Own Water Bottles Instead of buying huge multi packs of bottled water, invest in several reusable metal or plastic bottles to fill at home. A reusable water bottle is easy to carry with you to work or school and can be filled up at any drinking fountain when you are out and about. If you want to have cleaner water to pour into these bottles, then install a water purification system onto your kitchen’s water faucet. This tip can keep you from adding hundreds of plastic bottles to a landfill each month. Don’t Waste Paper You probably waste a lot of paper in your home without realizing it, but you can break this habit easily. Avoid paper waste by making a few changes such as buying washable cleaning cloths to dust furniture and clean windows. Rather than using paper napkins during meals, buy cloth napkins to wash each week as well. Use the internet as a news source and cancel your subscription to the local paper. Buy a Can Crusher Empty metal beverage and food cans require a lot of space in a home, but there are inexpensive metal can crushers you can use to reduce space in your recycling containers. With one of these devices, you can smash a soft drink or soup can flat before placing it in a recycling bin inside a garage. Make sure to rinse the remnants of food or liquids from metal containers before smashing the items. Instead of needing to carry several bins of metal to a recycling facility, you will only have one. Check to see the value of certain cans at places like Main Street Fibers to see if you can even make money with your recycling efforts. Re purpose Items There are numerous ways to increase your recycling efforts, including contacting your utility companies and banks to stop mailing paper bills or statements. You can also find ways to purpose items such as using metal cans as flowerpots or making bird feeders from plastic milk jugs. Think of your trash as another item you can use around the house or garden. Recycling is a great goal to have and any family can improve and increase their efforts at home. Use these ideas to get started changing your daily habits and making your whole house more green.
  8. Seems like everyone these days is trying to become a little greener. You probably already recycle and if you’re lucky, maybe have even upgraded to a hybrid car. But what can you do for your home? There is certainly an environmental benefit of conserving energy and resources and can help the earth stay clean, but in the end it also saves you money to improve your energy at home. There are small things you can start doing today and more long-term solutions that you can plan for in the near future to make your living space much greener and more wallet-friendly. Close Doors Any rooms or spaces in your home that you use on a minimal basis do not need to be consistently heated or cooled. Any spare rooms or even closets that you can close off means less space that you are using energy to heat or cool. Just by simply closing a door or two, you can cut down on heating or cooling costs depending on the season. Use Curtains In the wintertime as soon as the sun is up, open your curtains. Free heat! It will come in through your windows and warm your space so your heater is not working as hard. Likewise, in the hotter months, draw the shades during the warmer hours of the day so you keep the sun out and cool air in. This will decrease the use of central air and any air conditioning units that have a built in thermostat. Insulate It's pretty simple to do at least temporary insulation around your home. Quick weather stripping around doors and plastic covering over unused windows are quick and easy insulating jobs that take minimal time and money. Less obvious insulating options are things like using a propane tank Powerblanket and insulating any indoor duct systems. Lighten Up If you are building a house, or planning to replace your existing roof, choose a lighter color shingle for your roof. It's one of the things that many people don't think of, but darker colors attract sunlight which in turn attract heat which makes for a much more difficult time cooling your home in the hotter seasons. This is a more long-term solution, but can really make a difference in how much energy you spend. Tree Time Obviously, planting a tree at all is a long-term commitment and although you can get fairly mature trees, it takes time for most to reach the point of maturity to offer shade. But it's one of the greenest ways to add shade to your home in a natural and beautiful way. Try deciduous trees for great results, and see if you can add bushes for added shade as well. Install Smart Systems Many new homes come equipped with smart systems for everything, but you can start installing these same systems in your home especially for energy purposes. The easiest solution is a thermostat you can control from your smart phone to regulate temperature and energy use of your heating or cooling system even when you're not home. There are countless small and innovative ways to maximize your energy resourcefulness in your home. Some you can easily start today, and many you can start planning today. Either way, make a plan to have a greener dream home.
  9. Nowhere is the phrase, "start them young and early", more appropriately applied than when referring to teaching kids about recycling, sustainability, and being good stewards of this planet. Hopefully they'll be learning about it at school, but the burden falls on parents to assume most of their responsibility and teach youngsters how to keep their environment green. Early Childhood Training Beginning as early as three years old, let kids see you set the example first. In other words, verbalize out loud what it is you're doing as you're doing it. For instance, as you drop a plastic bottle in the blue bin, you might say something like, "This is a plastic bottle, and plastic things always go into this blue container." Doing so can teach them how to sort items and how to dispose of them in their proper place. You might even have them scribble a sign to hang over the proper bins that read, Plastics Here! or Papers Here! You can also have children tape a small plastic jar to the blue bin acquainting with plastic materials. To further involve younger aged children, begin a reward system of giving out little sticker stars with a prize like a sourdough pretzel goes to the child with the most stars. As they grow older, you may substitute little stars for returning bottles, and encourage them to keep the change. Make a Game Of it At this environmental protection government (EPA) website, you'll find imaginative, interactive games to stimulate young minds in the vision for protecting their environment. The Dumptown Game actually makes your child into a city manager with critical decision-making activities that engage municipal residents in their own waste management and waste reduction at-home programs. Use games and prizes to make learning and treating the environment right fun and educational. Young Children to Teens Having learned the basics of colors and plastics, your next job as a parent would be teaching them about composting. Easily done by setting up a separate bin for discarded tea bags, grass cuttings, veggie peelings, coffee grounds, egg shells, toilet paper rolls, and paper towels, this cuts down not only on the waste, but saves you money on fertilizer supplies as well. It all comes down to example. Set the stage for how your home runs and try to make a habit of throwing natural waste into the compost pile, using safe fertilizers like Nature Safe on your lawn, and routinely picking up trash and debris from your yard and local parks. When kids see you doing the right thing, they will naturally follow. Reusing Usable Items As many items can be reused for other purposes, make your kids aware that a peanut butter jar, for instance, can be transformed into a coin bank once it's been washed clean first. Empty tissue boxes are great for storing grocery plastic bags and a small plastic bag can be used in the family car as a trash bin. If you visit your local waste management, you'll see what your municipality recommends as far as dumping and recycling materials go. However, all initiatives really must begin at home by educating the children early.
  10. Although the spring season is when more people spend time outdoors, it's also when each household's energy bill begins to increase. More homes begin to use more energy due to an increase in use of the HVAC system to keep the property cool with the change in weather. To stay comfortable and maintain energy efficiency this spring, there are several steps to take to avoid a high bill. Unplug Idle Electronics From televisions to DVD players, there are a number of electronics in the home that continue to use energy when they're not in use. Most people assume that the electronics only use electricity when they're turned on, but they actually continue to use energy when they're plugged in. Make it a point to unplug idle electronics and use power strips to make it easier to turn off multiple items at once. This includes shutting down your computer at night, which are the biggest energy users and can be shut off 40,000 times during their lifespan. Switch to Energy Star Appliances Although your appliances may be working well, they are likely using a significant amount of energy each day if they're outdated. Upgrade to Energy Star appliances to reduce your energy bill by 10 to 50 percent, which can equate to thousands of dollars during the lifespan of the product. Inspect and Clean Your AC Unit It's important to keep your HVAC system running efficiently throughout the year, which is why you should schedule for an inspection and cleaning of your AC unit before spring arrives through a professional company like C B Lucas Heating & Air Conditioning. This will allow the product to run more efficiently for added energy savings while also increasing the lifespan of the product over time. Contact a professional to inspect your AC unit once a year and perform the necessary repairs to ensure that cool air is blowing out. Apply Chaulk to Cracks Cracks or gaps that are present in the walls can cause air to leak out and for hot air to get into the home. Make it a point to apply caulk to the gaps to reduce energy loss and insulate the inside of the property. Although it may not be possible to avoid using your AC unit this spring, there are ways to maintain your energy usage and prevent it from surging. By taking the necessary steps, you can enjoy the warmer season while avoiding extra energy costs.
  11. Factory farming is responsible for 20% of global greenhouse gas emissions. This is due to the resource intensive feeding, slaughtering, processing, and transporting involved in the process. This has led many to reach for an alternative to conventional meat, and it may seem surprising that many are choosing to raise their own livestock at home, however if you look at the specifics of the process you may find that it’s not such an outlandish option. Why it is a Green Alternative By keeping the process as small and local as it gets, you can enjoy high quality, ethical meat while negating many of the sources of emissions associated with factory farmed meat. The transportation of both the livestock’s food and the meat itself are cut out of the process, as are the emissions produced by the large farm equipment that industrial producers rely on. Furthermore you can monitor what, if any, antibiotics and hormones are used, making healthier meat that uses less resources. What You Need Obviously this is not the right option if you live in a small apartment. You need at least 1.5 acres per cow for adequate grazing, or the ability to supplement with oats or hay. While you can get by without any expensive farm equipment it may be helpful to have a riding mower for keeping your pasture manageable and a trailer for transporting your livestock. Of course you will also need a sturdy fence and padlock to keep your livestock safe and a large freezer for keeping the resulting meat. It can be ideal though if you have a lot of acres to maintain, and don’t want to spend money on landscaping or a lot of yard upkeep. The Cost There are numerous costs associated with raising livestock, not all of which are upfront. You will need to pay for the livestock itself, any farm equipment you find necessary, supplemental food, veterinarian costs, slaughter, and processing the meat. You can always save money at places like Central Farm and Garden on pasture alfalfa and grass as well. Overall it is difficult to give an estimate for the total cost of raising a cow from birth to slaughter as it varies widely, but most agree that the cost would exceed the market value of the meat due to economies of scale. However, the increased quality of the meat and the peace of mind from knowing that the animal was raised humanely, and sustainably is a huge non-monetary reward for raising livestock at home. Alternatives If you don’t have the space or ability to raise your own livestock, there are other options. You can invest in a share of an animal raised on another person’s property, and receive a portion of the meat. You can also buy your meat from small livestock farmers directly at farmers markets or their farm. Most are happy to answer any questions you may have on their practices. If you have room and time, chickens might be a more sustainable option as well since they provide not only meat, but eggs. If you decide raise your own meat you’re in for a rewarding and eco-friendly experience, but it is important to conduct a lot of research before you begin, both for your own sanity and for the health of the animal. However, all this effort is worth it to enjoy high quality meat with fewer environmental costs.
  12. When you consider that household cleaners are the number-one cause of poisoning in children, it’s important you’re vigilant about which products you use to clean your kitchen. This room is probably the most important, since you prepare food and spend the most time here, especially with kids. What’s more, the toxic chemicals in household cleaners are about three times more likely to cause cancer than air pollution. If you’re anything like the average home in the U.S., which has more than 1,000 different chemicals in it, it’s time to clean up – the safe and green way. All-Purpose Kitchen Cleaner There are plenty of all-purpose cleaners on the market that will take care of tough stains while being hard on your health. For a green all-purpose kitchen cleaner, combine two tablespoons of vinegar, a teaspoon of borax or baking soda, and two cups of hot water in a spray bottle. Shake it, and then add a quarter-cup of liquid soap. Spray your counters and appliances, and wipe clean. Dish Soap When purchasing a dish soap for your kitchen, stick to detergents that are non-phosphate. To make your own detergent, purchase a bar of plain castile soap, place it in a bag and add water in a ratio of one part soap to four parts water - by height. Let it sit for five days, adding 10 to 15 drops of your favorite essential oils like lemon, orange, and lavender for even more disinfecting power. Drain Cleaner To clean your drain without losing cells in your brain, pour a half-cup of baking soda down it followed by a half-cup of vinegar. Let it bubble for about 15 minutes and pour a pot of boiling water over it. It's that easy! Oven Cleaner Typicaly oven cleaners often include some of the harshest chemicals to your health. Have you ever used one and once you smelled the fumes, literally choked? That's a clear sign that whatever is in that cleaner shouldn't be around you or in your home. To clean your oven safely, generously sprinkle water over the bottom of it. Cover the water with baking soda, leave overnight and wipe clean. TIP: Ovens are notoriously hard to clean if they're spills are abandoned. To help, sprinkle salt on spills immediately while the oven is still warm. When the oven cools down, scrape the area and wipe it clean. Stain Removal If you're unable to lift the stains with the green all-purpose kitchen cleaning solution that you've made, try sprinkling the surface with salt and squeezing lime or lemon juice over it. Let it sit for a few hours and then rub it out. Pest Problems With a clean kitchen, you'll keep the critters away. But if you do have a pest problem, investing in an organic pest service instead of a traditional one is also important if you want to save you and your family's health. Examples like Greenleaf Organic Pest Management specialize in “low-impact” solutions to get rid of bugs easily and safely. What green cleaning solutions do you rely on to keep your kitchen and home clean?
  13. If you're like most people, many of the habits you formed as a child remain second nature to you as an adult. Consequently, as a responsible parent, helping your children form their own positive habits is something you have to think about daily. When caring for the environment is concerned, the habits and thoughts kids have now can forever shape the way the earth holds up. Here are a few eco-friendly habits worth passing along to the next generation. Buying Products with Green Credentials Besides reducing harm to the planet's delicate balance, buying eco-friendly products encourages corporations to clean up their act. Involve your children in purchasing decisions for everything from LED light bulbs, to phosphate-free dish soap. Explain to them why you're avoiding products with certain substances and making a statement with your wallet. Recycling Appliances & Materials Wisely There's more to recycling than separating aluminum cans from plastic bottles. Finding a quality recycling company that can properly handle more problematic refuse like PCs, TVs, and smartphones is the key to eco-friendly recycling. Bring the kids along when you take in your recyclables to get them familiar with the process. You should also use companies like Ware Disposal to help get you on a regular cleanup and pickup schedule. Scheduling Activities to Reduce Energy Usage If you're a savvy consumer, you know that energy waste can be easily curtailed with a little forethought. Plotting routes using Google Maps to reduce unnecessary car trips can eliminate literally tons of greenhouse gas emissions each year. Show your kids the ropes by setting a forward-thinking example in everyday scenarios and kill two birds with one stone by helping lower energy and waste as well as your bills. Considering Potential Environmental Impacts Nearly everything we do affects the environment in some way. Demonstrate the importance of making those effects positive by involving children when undertaking a landscaping or home renovation project. If you're a city dweller without a yard, start a balcony garden and educate your kids on the importance of cultivating non-invasive plant species. Going with the Local Option When Possible As you should know by now, transporting goods from one end of the world to the other generates a ton of carbon dioxide. Buy local products instead to cut back on emissions and get started by creating a compost heap with your kids rather than buying commercial topsoil for your organic garden. How to Make Those Teachable Moments Count Getting your children on the green bandwagon isn't terribly difficult. Focus on areas that interest each child so that green life lessons don't seem like homework. Parcel out tidbits of wisdom gradually so that they have a chance to sink in. If you keep things light and take your time, kids will form eco-friendly habits that last a lifetime.
  14. Spring cleaning is something everyone has to do at some point and you don’t necessarily want to use harsh or toxic chemicals to get the job done. Luckily there are other options. Here are some green and natural products to help your spring cleaning efforts along. Baking Soda One of the best green cleaning products you can use is simple baking soda. Sprinkle baking soda on carpets, allow it to sit for a bit, and then vacuum it up to remove odors. Mix baking soda with vinegar to make a powerful cleaning paste that can be used in sinks, toilets and ovens. Baking soda, a pinch of salt, and a little water can be combined to make an eco-friendly scrubbing paste to get rid of difficult stains. Vinegar Basic white vinegar can clean many things in the common household. It can be used with a little water to create streak-free windows and mirrors, and can be used plain as a disinfectant on most surfaces in kitchens or bathrooms. Leaving a rag soaked with vinegar in a tub or sink will break down mineral scale. Pure Lemon Juice Pure lemon juice or pure lemon extract can be an amazing ally while doing spring cleaning. Use ten drops of lemon in a gallon of water as a fragrant disinfectant. The same mixture can be used as a general purpose cleaner around your home to clean furniture or decorative items. You can also add the lemon to other green products to improve the smell. Olive Oil A little real olive oil can be used to help polish and protect your wood furniture in the spring. Clean your furniture with normal water and dry it then put a little olive oil on a clean rag and buff the surface afterwards. This will bring out the shine and beauty of the wood. It also makes a protective layer that will help to repel dust and allergens. This can relieve symptoms from allergies especially when combined with effective medications like Dymista. Fragrant Essential Oils A final product to have on hand when doing green spring cleaning is essential oil. Get some essential oils with scents you enjoy. You can put a few drops on cotton balls and leave them in key areas to naturally improve the fragrance of a room or drawer. You could also boil essential oils in water to create a sudden rush of pleasant fragrance in the home. Using natural products to do spring cleaning has many benefits. It helps the environment and maintains good indoor air quality. You will also have fewer problems with skin irritation and allergies as a result. These simple products can all help you when spring cleaning time comes around.
  15. Easy Home Plumbing Guide

    The plumbing system in your home requires regular maintenance and while it’s a lot easier to call a contractor when an emergency occurs, there are certain things you can do on your own and include in your daily routine. Here are simple tips how to handle home’s plumbing issues on your own: Bathroom The bathroom is the place where plumbing issues most likely occur and requires regular maintenance in order to avoid it. Start with the drain – to prevent it from overflowing, you should pour hot water at least once a week. In addition to that apply drain solvent to remove clogs and prevent plumbing damage. Examine faucets on regular basis, as damage to them is very likely to cause a lot of trouble to the fixtures. If you are unable to repair these yourself, schedule a professional visit. Kitchen The garbage disposer and the aerator are the most common reason for plumbing emergencies in the kitchen. First, let’s start with the disposer – before using it, leave cold water to flow through it for at least 30 seconds and also it’s a good idea to use dish detergent to easily remove foul odors. Second the aerator – often low water pressure causes lime buildups and these result in leaks or even additional damage to the home’s plumbing system. It’s also recommended to unscrew it from the faucet and then use a small brush to remove the sediments. Basement The basement is the place where water heaters are located and also the main valves of the plumbing system can be found. No matter whether you do plumbing work in the basement, kitchen or anywhere else in your home, knowing where the main shutoff valve is pretty much essential. However sometimes, it’s located outside the house, near the street. Water heaters require annual maintenance and need to be drained, then flushed in order for the sediment buildups to be removed. Sometimes, depending on the model and type of the heater is much easier to call professionals help with that task. Laundry Room All hoses, pipes and the entire plumbing system located in the laundry room needs to be inspected on regular basis for signs of wear or leakage. In case any repairs are needed, carefully asses the task, as sometimes washing machine repairs are not that easy to perform by DIY enthusiasts. In some cases, you may have to even consider replacing the washing machine with a newer model, as often many of the issues are simply caused by the appliance’s age. Clogged Drains Clogged drains can cause serious damage to the plumbing system and fixing these must be your top priority. Depending on the severity of the clog, a simple drain solvent may do the job. However, if the clog is located near the main sewer line, it may not be that easy to reach out to it. In those cases, professional help is pretty much mandatory. Companies like CW Plumbing Services will save you both time and money with any kind of plumbing emergency you face!
  16. Plumbing emergencies can cause serious damage to your property, which besides costing you a lot of money, will most definitely make your everyday life uncomfortable. The best way to deal with plumbing issues is to perform regular maintenance and this is exactly what I am going to share with you in this article. Here are the ultimate tips to follow for dealing with all problems before they actually occur: Watch out for trouble The easiest thing to do in order to spot trouble with the plumbing system is to regularly examine it for leaks. Even the smallest leak can cause enormous water damage over time, so every sign of possible plumbing failure means it’s time to act! Fix issues early Even though small leaks doesn’t seem like a big deal, they need to be fixed immediately or they will cause damage to other parts of the plumbing systems. For example, leaky faucets actually wear out the sink and also cause the growth of mold! Keeping all issues fixed on time and learn how to stay on top of these problems. Prepare emergency plan In case of a plumbing emergency, there are certain steps that you need to follow – the first thing to do is to find the main shut-off valve and turn down the home water supply. In some cases these are hidden or require additional tools in order to be turned-off, so make sure you are prepared with all the tools you need in case of an emergency. Don’t panic, this is pretty much the worst thing you can do in case of an emergency. Turning off appliances Besides the main shut-off valve for the home’s water supply, you also need to know how to turn off all electric appliances that use this water. In case any of these fails, shutting down fast can save you from a lot of cleaning and possible even water damage! The sewer valve In some cases, the toilets are overflowing due to plumbing problems and knowing where the sewer valve is will definitely save you precious time, especially if you have hired a professional to help you with the emergency. Handling small issues You don’t need loads of knowledge and experience to tackle small plumbing issues around the home. You actually need just few tools and you are ready to solve some of the most common plumbing issues that occur in every household. If you want to increase your skillset, there are dozens of how-to books available at the local home improvement store and also online. Keeping the plumbing safe during the winter Probably the worst enemy of your home’s plumbing system is the cold weather. If you live in an area where the temperatures fall below zero during the winter on regular basis, keeping the plumbing safe during the winter is pretty much essential. What to do when the pipes freeze? In case the pipes freeze, first don’t panic and second follow the emergency routine you have supposedly created so far. Turn off the water supply to the clogged area and remember to never use an open flame when warming a frozen pipe. Once the water flow is restored, carefully examine the pipe for leaks or cracks. In cases when there are any signs of damage, you should call professional plumbers like Plumber Services Dublin.
  17. Ongoing trends in kitchen designs and interior home designs in general seem to be going the way of "green" and sustainability, and it helps homeowners to find ways to reduce their carbon footprint on the planet. By simply selecting eco-friendly materials, avoiding use of toxic chemicals, using low-flow faucets, and energy-efficient appliances, your new home design can reduce energy use and improve your own health at the same time. Bigger Is Not Always Better In designing sustainable kitchen areas, a smaller space consumes less building material, and less energy to both heat and cool the interior. Designing a smaller layout for cabinets and counter-tops ultimately makes wise use of a smaller kitchen space as well, and you can find other options like hanging pot and mug racks for simple and clever storage solutions. Creating Kitchen Gardens And Indoor Herb/Veggie Stations Connecting with nature and staying healthy in the kitchen can be done by creating an indoor herb or veggie station by a sunny window, or an outside small container veggie garden nearby the kitchen door. In doing so, you may find that even your indoor air quality improves significantly. Composting Composting, even on a small level, prevents up to 140 pounds of waste from ending up in landfills annually. As you begin composting practices, kitchen scraps turned to compost reduce your own need for fertilizer, pesticides, and even water. Keeping a container by the sink for collecting kitchen scraps goes a long way to help reduce your carbon footprint and make your garden more sustainable. Utilize Biodegradable Materials When Possible Buying kitchen counter-tops made from recycled paper, recycled glass, and reconstituted wood is one option. Likewise, natural paints made from natural ingredients are more environmental-friendly than other varieties. Floor coverings made from reconstituted wood is another good choice, as are tiles made from recycled materials. Consider Buying Energy Star® Appliances Think about retrofitting with energy-saving water efficient appliances. Incredibly, doing so is the equivalent of having 15,000 cars suddenly disappear from the highway. Yes, Energy Star® Appliances are more expensive to buy; however, their savings in energy costs may be worth it to many consumers as well as their long mechanical life. Window Replacement Having an environmental-friendly window arrangement in your home means a lot more energy savings in the long run. New window materials and the use of double-glazed Gilkey windows and fiberglass, are all viable means to help either reduce, or maintain heat in a home. When speaking of eco-friendly or environmental-friendly advice in creating kitchen sustainability, the options are almost innumerable. Since this seems to be an ongoing trend in today's home designs, careful research and selection is a must, so choose wisely.
  18. In an era of information that esteems the progress of science, today’s populous is becoming keenly aware of the impact human activity has on the environment. Particularly and prominently, the decline of the planet has steadily come to international attention. With a cataclysmic global crisis impending, people are left to wonder what is being done. Is there anything proactive, or are our communities continuing in detrimental disinterest? One of the most important variables we can control is our waste output. By mitigating the waste our community produces, we decrease the size of landfills and preserve the earth’s most precious resources. Recycling Communities recognize that most of us can contribute less waste simply by not wasting anything. The average household produces over four pounds of garbage daily. It is becoming more and more important for everyone to pay attention to what is being thrown away. Some of these efforts have been put to good use by recycling plants. Recycling plants are established specifically to reuse resources such as paper, cardboard, and plastic. Companies like Lakeshore Recycling are even making an effort to make it more convenient and easy to recycle by providing bin rentals to communities and private companies alike. Ascribing to a Lifestyle Part of recycling effectively, is making it a part of a daily lifestyle. Families toady are constantly looking for different forms of recycling. Rather than allowing old clothes to go to waste, communities consider passing them on to another, and online sellers and purchasing make it easy to get rid of and recycle old materials all over the world. This way less is contributed to landfills, and more waste is reduced. Families also purchase items that are eco-friendly, such as reusable shopping bags, rechargeable batteries, washable water bottles and other items that have been recycled. A Call to Action Communities are willing to respond to good information about causes that matter. This is what is happening across many communities in the United States. As we encourage more people to live eco-friendly lifestyles, and make them aware of the waste that they produce and how it has compromised the planet, people are willing to listen and change their behavior. Information and education is key. With the internet as pervasive as it is, communities are able to spread information and make their causes known and more easily fought for. Leading an eco-friendly life, and finding better, easier ways to recyle is all a part of how communities today are changing and becoming more aware of limited resources. We are concerned with the sort of world we are leaving for our children and grandchildren. By reducing our landfill waste, they will not be plagued with a dying world.
  19. Herb gardening is as easy as the fresh herbs are flavorful. Small flower beds, vertical spaces, and even odd corners can be turned into a productive herb garden with these helpful hints and inspirational ideas. If you don’t want to do all the initial digging and planting work, a local Utah landscaping company would be glad to do the ground-breaking work for you, and help make your herb garden idea a reality. Small Spaces Apartment and condo dwellers that have small outdoor spaces can still enjoy the satisfaction of growing an herb garden. As long as there is some type of sunny outdoor space, such as a porch, or accessible roof top, there is the opportunity for planting a container garden. Select a location that receives bright sunlight for 4-5 hours a day to place your planting containers. Fill them with a good quality potting soil mixture and mix in some slow release, granulated fertilizer into the soil. Start the herbs of choice from seeds and place them in a small container of water (use separate containers for each seed variety), then place the containers in the refrigerator for 48 hours. This cold water soak will cause the tiny herb seeds to germinate quicker. Drain seeds, and plant in prepared soil. Keep soil moist and seeds will germinate in 4-7 days. Container Companion Planting Herbs make excellent container companions for other garden favorites like tomatoes and flowers. Select planters large enough to accommodate the root system of the plants, and place a tomato plant in the center of the container with oregano and chives seeds tucked in around the sides. Basil and cilantro make good growing companions for a pepper plant, and the mixed containers are interesting to look at wherever you place them. Containers will dry out quickly, and the growing plants will need a steady supply of water and food. Water daily during the heat of summer and feed plants weekly with a water soluble plant food. Grow Vertical Decorative and space-saving, a vertical herb garden is an easy DIY project. If you have an exterior wall or fence you can plant and grow herbs of your choice upon the structure. Just attach any type of individual planting containers in an upright position on the vertical wall, low enough so that herbs can be tended and harvested as needed. Create a decorative vertical pattern with the containers, then fill them with good quality potting soil that has a good fertilizer mix, then plant herb seedlings or seeds of your choice. Give seeds a cold soak as described above prior to planting and water vertical container daily. Odd Spaces Herbs have shallow roots and are happy growing in most any location as long as they receive 4-6 hours of direct sunlight, and the soil is kept moist. Since the plants are easy to please, think outside the garden plot and look for odd spaces in which to plant and grow your favorite herbs. An old tree stump can become a prime growing location. Hollow out the stump center, fill with good quality potting soil, and plant seedling or seeds. Suspend a window box or two from an easily accessible window and fill with fragrant and flavorful herb plants. Window boxes can also be suspended from porch railing. Tuck in a nice trailing vine, such as a petunia, in the window boxes for some extra flowers and color. Herbs are easy to plant and take care of, even year round. No matter what your outdoor space looks like, you can find a way to make it a happy place for herbs of all kinds.
  20. All families should be interested in saving on their energy costs, but it can be difficult for some to achieve these savings during the winter. Energy costs are going to naturally go up as the temperatures cool down, but there are still several ways you can save some money. If you follow these four tips, then you should be able to live comfortably in your home, while still saving a few dollars each month this winter. Lower Water Heater Temperature Most people have their water heater temperature set higher than they actually need. Setting your water heater around 120 degrees Fahrenheit has the potential to save you a lot this winter. It may take slightly longer to get hotter water in the sink and shower, but the savings makes the wait well worth it. Open Curtains during the Day The sun may not come out every day during the winter months, so you need to take advantage of it when it does appear. Opening the curtains to let the sun in is a great way to naturally heat your home without have to spend any money. Make sure to close the curtains and blinds when the sun goes down so you keep all of this extra heat in your home. Turn down Thermostat The cold weather outside may compel you to turn up your thermostat a few degrees, but you need to resist this urge if you want to save money. Keeping your home a few degrees cooler than normal has the potential to save you hundreds of dollars during the winter season. You should have no problem staying comfortably warm in your home if you wear a sweater or bundle up with an extra blanket. Properly Insulate Your energy costs are going to be high enough this winter, so don’t add to your own costs with poor insulation. If you do not have the proper insulation, then the warm air from the furnace will escape your home at a faster rate. This requires your furnace to run longer than it should to make up for the escaping warm air. A local heating company like Cape Fear Air Conditioning & Heating Co., Inc. should be able to direct you to problem areas you might have, and keep your heat pumps running smoothly. There is no reason to be intimidated by the potentially high energy costs this winter. When you implement these four changes into your normal routine it will help your house run a little less energy, and keep you toasty and warm.
  21. 8 Ways To Go Green At Home

    As everyone is talking about the climate changes, global warming and sustainability, it seems like all “passionate” supporters of the green idea are just talking, but they lack action. But I’m happy that you want to take action and change things for good. If you want to live in a greener, cleaner planet, remember that any change begins within ourselves. Limit your environmental impact, live a healthier life and save money by following these simple steps. 1. Forget about bottled water. Instead, buy water filters to clean tap water. When on the go, opt for a reusable bottle, preferably aluminium one. 2. Borrow. Go to the library and borrow the books you want to read, instead of buying them from the bookstore. 3. Make your own natural cleaners: Usually all the ingredients you need are vinegar, baking soda, lemon and soap. When choosing a cleaning company, hire the one that uses bio detergents in the cleaning process. This company, for instance, works with natural, eco-friendly detergents. 4. Get out of the car. Reduce the harmful exhaust emissions by walking or cycling to work. In addition to the saved money, you will also improve your health and reduce the risk of obesity. 5. Save energy: Turn your thermostat down a few degrees in the winter and increase the temperature a few degrees in the summer. This way you will save money on heating and cooling. Replace the old incandescent light bulbs with fluorescent ones. Unplug appliances when not being used, or buy "smart" power strips. They feel when appliances are off and eliminate "phantom" energy use. Instead of machine drying, hang the laundry on a clothesline or on a drying rack. Improve the insulation, install solar panels, upgrade the windows. 6. Save water: Invest in a low-flow showerhead. Take shorter showers, bathe with warm, not hot water. In the garden, grow native plants which require few and far between waterings. 7. Use reusable shopping bags. Put one in your handbag, at home, on your desk, in the car, or any place where it would be useful. 8. Buy smart: Look in thrift stores, garage sales and consignment shops for clothing and furnishings. Buy in bulk. Save on packaging and money. Invest in high-quality products. Paying more now means less frequently replacing of household items, clothes, appliances, etc. Resources: Worldwatch.org
  22. In the recent past, doing your part to save the environment meant recycling plastic containers, buying organic vegetables and using canvas tote bags. Today, there are more ways to live green than ever before. In fact, a few simple changes can help you create a greener, healthier home. Here are five decorating ideas to consider. Marry Your Interior and Exterior Home One of the easiest ways to green up your home is to blur the lines between the interior and exterior living spaces. Opening your doors and windows is one way to bring the outdoors inside. If you are planning a home renovation, consider installing a window wall that opens an entire room to the outdoors. Screens allow you to let in fresh air while keeping the bugs and other pests outside. Install Energy-Efficient Lighting Fixtures The right lighting fixtures can give your home an aesthetic appeal that is eco-friendly and functional. Old fixtures use a lot of energy, which can drive up your electricity bills. Replace them with energy-saving fixtures, such as those with Energy Star certification, or even solar-powered models. Replace your standard, incandescent bulbs with energy-saving alternatives such as light-emitting diodes (LED) or compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs. Decorate With Indoor and Outdoor Plants Nothing says green living like live plants. Besides adding beauty to your home, plants from places like Green Smart Decor provide a relaxing outdoor hobby and help reduce indoor air pollution. Choose low-light, low-water houseplants for indoor decorating, and water them with rainwater or water you would otherwise discard. Outdoors, use the right soil and appropriate fertilizers, and water your plants frequently to keep the soil from drying out. Beautify Your Home With Reclaimed Water While luscious greenery is a great way to green your home and lawn, it comes at the price of high energy bills. If you are renovating your home or designing a new one, consider installing reclaimed water solutions. For example, try drainage systems that use rainwater to feed your lawn and outdoor landscaping. Save Water With Artificial Leaf Panels Artificial leaf panels are a good way to green your home without adding to your water bills. In addition to their easy installation and natural appearance, polyurethane panels provide ultraviolet (UV) protection and noise insulation. They are also weather-resistant, pest-free and unattractive to pets. Green Smart Décor offers a variety of panel options including ficus and ivy. "Going green" does not have to mean "going expensive" with solar panels or bamboo flooring. Simple changes like the ones above can make your home a greener, safer, healthier place to live. Begin with small steps and make a commitment to change your habits over time.
  23. Build your own low-energy, sustainable dwelling using nothing but a mallet and a drill. Four people are needed to assemble the first WikiHouse kit, which is now released and free to download and buy in the UK. Print and build a beautiful timber house, customized to your own needs! And the most important is, people won't have to spend their whole lives paying mortgages. Even me, an employee of this small housekeeping agency, can afford to build a house like this. The WikiHouse Studio, displayed on the pictures here, can be purchased for only £14,500! The basic type of housing can usually be erected by a team of amateurs in 1-2 days. Depending on the project and the design, the other building elements can vary, but it usually takes a total cutting time of 4 weeks and a construct time of 2 weeks. The WikiHouse project is happening thanks to the collaboration of many designers and architects, whose main objective was to create a DIY kit for a timber house which could be constructed by everyone. Various types of buildings can be constructed, like guest or granny houses, tourism cabins, kiosks and small houses which can be grouped around a common facility like a BBQ, a pool or a shared kitchen. Graham Osborne is the principal of Origen Architects in Queensland, and he is the coordinator of this project. He said that the combination of numerous sustainable elements makes this design suited for “the worst case scenario” and he is confident that it will work well no matter the location, weather conditions and climate. The Australian project’s engineering consultant Arup ensures that each WikiHouse meets the building code requirements, as well as both bushfire rating and cyclone rating requirements. Each WikiHouse is made of timber walls and a system of timber cassettes for flooring, OSB cladding and entry beams. Each element of the kit weighs less than 80 kilos, which means that you don’t need a special machinery to lift it, just a few buddies of yours. The houses are designed to sit on stumps and thereby the need for a concrete slab and in-ground fortifications is avoided. The timber cassettes provide a good thermal isolation too. You can download the open source plan from the WikiHouse website, where you can also learn more about their mission, technology, different designs and the annual, locally-held workshops.
  24. We've all heard the words "reduce, reuse, recycle" as a mantra for going green. Most people say they support it, but when it comes to actually applying it to your own life, we all tend to fall short. The most common reason people don’t keep up a greener home is because they aren't sure how. The majority of us would like to be more eco-friendly, but consider it to be too difficult or just don't know where to begin. Here are three cost effective and simple ways to make your home greener today! Change your Heating Methods It takes a lot of energy to heat and cool a home, and paying for it can get pretty pricey. Ceiling fans have become a fairly common and cheaper alternative to cooling homes during the summer, but a lot of people don't know they can also be used in the winter. Warm air rises, so running the ceiling fan in reverse helps to circulate the warm air throughout. Another energy efficient way to heat your home is via a boiler. Boilers use a pump to distribute hot water, or steam, through pipes in the baseboards. Using a boiler to heat your home saves energy and money. A supplier of used boilers like Nationwide Boiler might be able to get you a discount which can save you more money. Use Sunlight to your Advantage The summer sun can easily make your home stiflingly hot. A good way to keep the sun out is to use blackout curtains. These curtains come in many styles, but all provide much needed insulation. You can keep the curtains closed during the summer to block out the heat, and leave them open in the winter to let more in. This natural method of controlling temperature will allow you to run your air conditioner and heater less frequently and at lower settings. Reduce your Waste Reducing the amount of garbage you are contributing to landfills is an excellent way to become more green. One way to do this is to start composting. This eliminates waste, while improving your garden. It is also a fun family activity. Another way to reduce your waste is to purchase beverages in glass containers. These containers can be recycled and reused around your home. Try not to look at everything you throw out as simple garbage. There are a lot of ways you can reuse and reduce your home waste. Making a greener home is easier than it seems. These methods are just some of the practical ways you can improve your home by reducing, reusing, and recycling. Modifying your lifestyle to be more eco-friendly is a wonderful way to benefit the planet and your bank account.
  25. Did your last energy bill take you by surprise? Yes? And you thought your home was energy efficient. So the best choice you have in order to avoid unpleasant surprises of that particular type is to singlehandedly assess your home's energy efficiency. You can run some tests and see for yourself what you have to do in order to make make your house more energy efficient. If you do, you'll not only save money on electricity bills, you'll also be ensuring your personal safety and the safety of your home. Look for Air LeaksSo to start with, first check your house for any air leaks (drafts). These drafty areas fail to keep warmth inside during the winter months and respectively, the cool air in the summer. Fixing these problems can help you save as much as 30 percent on energy bills each year and on top of that will make your home much more comfortable. Begin by checking for air leaks near windows, doors and vents. If you find any you can easily take care of them yourself by simply airsealing around doors and resealing the caulking on your windows. Make sure you check your flooring and vents as well as all outside areas where different materials meet. Replace Inefficient LightingMost people don't know that, but around 10 percent of your electricity bill is due to lighting charges. So if you still haven't replaced your old incandescent light bulbs, it's high time you did. You can opt for the spiral compact flourescent lamps (CFLs), or the so-called LEDs – light-emitting diodes. They are a bit more expensive than your ordinary bulbs, but are a much better investment because they last a lot longer. Something more, they also let off more delicate light and use less energy, which is another plus and significantly contributes to the return on your investment. Large Household Appliances InspectionAn important step towards making your home more energy efficient and reducing your electricity bills is inspecting your household appliances. The surest sign something's not right with a device would be the loud noises coming out of it and its impaired efficiency. To lighten the workload of some devices, prolong their lifespan and save up on energy, you might want to consider: Buying new and more energy-efficient home appliances with the Energy Star label. It might seem a bit on the expensive side but in the long run the investment will pay off, especially if you take good care of the new device.Switching off or unplugging items from the power grid when you aren't using them. Unplugging them will prevent the so-called vampire draw or phantom loads which refers to the consumed by your appliances electricity when they're in switched off.Regular Air Filter ReplacementReplacing your air filters can also go a long way towards making your home more energy efficient. Ultimately, you should replace the air filters of your ventilation on a monthly basis. Otherwise the debris and dust in the air system will impair the airflow and cause the system's capacity to go down. As a consequence, it will need more energy to heat/cool your house. The regular air filter maintenance also means that no dust and debris will fall out of the vents. So you're saving money on both energy and house cleaning services. Insulation CheckupIn the last few months Melbourne, and Australia as a whole, saw some scorching heats. So if you want to stay cool this summer you better check the insulation of your house. Otherwise, given today's energy prices, the cool loss during the hot summer and the heat loss in winter will make your energy bills skyrocket.