Once upon a time, there were four distinct seasons. Two, spring and fall, were mild. Two, summer and winter, were more extreme. You could count on your energy bills increasing during those seasons because heating and cooling your house would be harder to do naturally. Today, thanks to climate change, most of us are stuck with two seasons: too hot and too cold. We spend all year adjusting our thermostats and trying to control our environments. (more…)
When choosing an eco-friendly vehicle, you will find a large variety from all the major foreign and domestic car companies. You will have your pick of cars, trucks, crossovers, and SUVs to choose from. Â So, how do you know which vehicle to pick? Â Also, why is a â€œgreen carâ€ your best option?
Why Buy Green?
Lower carbon emissions and less reliance on the worldâ€™s gasoline and oil supplies are the most frequent reasons that most consumers shop for eco-friendly automobiles. Â If that wasnâ€™t compelling enough, perhaps the financial side will be more appealing. Â Greener vehicles require less fuel, get more miles per gallon, and require less maintenance. (more…)
Mold is a moisture problem and it can happen anywhere. Sometimes you see them, sometimes you don’t. Sometimes they’re black, sometimes they’re white. However, if you clean up the mold but don’t solve the moisture problem, it will come back. Since mold is strictly related to moisture, making sure all the water damaged areas are cleaned and dried within 24 hours is the key to prevent mold from growing.
Furthermore, be sure to wipe away excess water on your sink as well as to open windows in a bathroom after showering. If you donâ€™t have windows in your bathroom, make sure the bathroom fan is working properly in order to help the moisture to go away. If the mold growth is over 10 square feet, call a professional as they will be able to use highly-effective cleaning agents and will have the proper protection against spore inhalation.
Even thou there are several ready made products to combat mold, you still can treat this issue by adopting a green policy in your home that utilizes more environmentally friendly products such as undiluted white or apple cider vinegar; borax and warm water; or a paste of baking soda, water, and vinegar.
Another great alternative to bleach (one of the main ingredients used to kill mold and mold spores) is Hydrogen Peroxide. Find a 3% hydrogen peroxide solution and add undiluted to a spray bottle. Spray the moldy surface with the hydrogen peroxide, let wait for at least 10 minutes, and then scrub off. Hydrogen peroxide is also effective at removing stains caused by mold infestations and it can safely be used on clothes, floors, fixtures, walls, and even appliances.
Depending on where the mold is and the size of its damage, you might have to throw away the absorbent or porous materials, such as drywall or ceiling tiles, as the mold can fill the tiny cracks and pores of these materials, making difficult to remove the mold completely. In this case, cleaning will be a temporary solution to inhibit mold growth and unless you remove the surface from your home completely, mold will keep coming back.
Because mold contains spores, which are air-borne particles, it’s very important to wear proper protection when cleaning moldy surfaces.Â [Be sure to wear an N-95 respirator â€” Available at hardware stores â€”, goggles, and gloves.] Make sure you clean and disinfect every moldy area completely before painting or caulking. Wipe away excess moisture and at least 72 hours before painting of caulking. Furthermore, don’t ever paint over or caulk a moldy surface.
Because mold is a moisture related issue, there are couple thing you can do to prevent it:
- When water leaks or spills occur indoors, act quickly! Make sure the area is dried within 24 hours after a leak or spill happens.
- Clean and repair roof gutters regularly.
- Make sure the ground slopes away from the building foundation, so that water does not enter or collect around the foundation.
- Keep air conditioning drip pans clean and the drain lines unobstructed and flowing properly.
- Keep indoor humidity low, if possible, between 30 and 50 percent relative humidity. Relative humidity can be measured with a moisture or humidity meter. You can find this small and inexpensive instrument at your local hardware store.
- Vent appliances that produce moisture, such as clothes dryers, stoves, and kerosene heaters to the outside. Keep in mind that combustion appliances such as stoves and kerosene heaters will increase the humidity unless vented to the outside.
- Reduce the humidity: use air conditioners and/or de-humidifiers when needed.
- Run the bathroom fan or open the window when showering. Use exhaust fans or open windows whenever cooking, running the dishwasher or dish washing, etc.
- Increase ventilation or air movement by opening doors and/or windows, when possible. Use fans as needed. It will also help you lowering your energy bill as well as it will improve your indoor air quality.
- Cover cold surfaces, such as cold water pipes, with insulation to avoid condensation.
- Air purifiers, including Venta Airwashers help reduce mold by passing particles through water and leaving the remaining air at an optimum humidity level.
The lighting we use in our homes actually accounts for as much as 20% of our electricity bill in a typical house, but these days there is a good opportunity to reduce that cost by installing more energy-efficient lighting.
Not only do low-energy bulbs save on energy costs they can also provide modern and stylish lighting solutions, making your room look good and saving you money into the bargain.
If you want one simple basic reason why you should ditch your old-fashioned incandescent lighting in favour of low-energy lighting, it is because making the switch will cost about Â£15 for every five low-energy bulbs you install and save you as much as Â£32 per year.
You donâ€™t have to be an A-Star maths student to work out that your investment in more efficient lighting will easily pay for itself and even if you donâ€™t understand fully how the technology works, it is clear to see that move to more efficient lighting solutions is going to save you money on your electricity bill.
Why the old-fashioned bulbs should be ditchedÂ
In plain basic terms the old-fashioned incandescent, tungsten or filament light bulbs that have graced our homes for many years are really not very energy-efficient and that is why they started to be phased out in 2011.
You will find it harder each year to lay your hands on these bulbs that use obsolete technology and the reason for that is very simple, they convert very little of the electricity that it consumes into actual light so most of the electricity used is wasted as heat, which also shortens the lifespan of light fittings and is even a potential fire hazard.
The other major issue with old-fashioned bulbs is something that many of us will be familiar with, they donâ€™t last very long and with typical usage will probably need replacing every 12 months, so you can see why they are being phased out under a government-backed initiative, a move supported by the Energy Saving Trust amongst others.Â
Making savings on your energy billsÂ
As lighting forms a significant portion of our electricity costs it makes sense to do what you can to make as many savings as possible against your energy bills.
In addition to checking whether you are getting the best rates for your electricity from your current supplier by visiting a comparison site like www.ukpower.co.uk you can also put into practice some simple tips to save money on your lighting costs.
Only use the lights in the room when you need to and turn off the lights every time you leave even if you plan to come back a few minutes later.
Replace all your old-fashioned bulbs with low energy compact fluorescent lighting. You should now be able to find modern energy-efficient light bulbs for virtually every situation so there should be no reason why you cannot ditch all of your old bulbs in favour of new technology.
Make sure that you choose the correct light output when you change to low-energy bulbs. To match the equivalent output you had with your old lighting all you have to do is divide the old wattage number by five to arrive at the low-energy equivalent number.
Think of each new bulb as an investment rather than baulking at their cost, as they will easily pay for themselves over time anyway and also save you money on your electricity bill.
When you look at the arguments in favor of low-energy bulbs you can see why it would be smart move to make the switch with all your lighting sooner rather than later.
About the Author
Scott Byrom is a domestic energy expert and regularly writes about energy efficiency and saving energy in our homes.
A large number of homeowners today are switching to solar energy to fulfill their power needs. However, most people make the switch for a different reason, i.e. improve the heating system of their home. Using solar energy helps bring down the energy consumed by household substantially since they are now producing their own energy. This way, they can improve the heating system of their household and reduce their monthly heating costs. Using solar energy has its own set of pros and cons as discussed below.
The Pros of Solar Energy
- Solar energy is practically â€˜freeâ€™ source power since the sun is definitely not likely to send you a bill anytime soon. Using the sunâ€™s rays as fuel, sufficient power is generated to run the entire electric system of your house through the solar panels which convert the solar energy into power.
- By meeting your own energy needs, you can save big on your electric bills, Moreover, if you are producing energy in excess of your consumption, you can even sell it to the utility department in exchange for credits.
- You can go green by using solar energy. The electricity produced using the sunâ€™s power does not produce harmful emissions. This way, you can fulfill your energy needs and reduce your carbon footprint at the same time.
- Once you start producing your own energy, you donâ€™t have to depend on utility companies for your energy needs. All the power you need to run your household is produced right on your rooftop with the help of solar panels.
- Also, the government provides incentives such as grants, rebates, discounts and tax breaks to those who install solar panels. Since you are helping the government preserve natural energy resources, they reimburse you to a certain extent.
The Cons of Solar Energy
- The major disadvantage of depending on solar energy is its inconsistency. The sun may not shine brightly all day long. Then, in some areas frequent rain and cloudy weather block the sunlight. Also, there might be tall trees or buildings surrounding your house that block the sunlight. All these situations hamper the performance of the solar panels.
- Another major issue that usually keeps people from installing solar panels is the initial investment. Even after all the incentives you receive from the government, you could have to spend thousands of dollars on buying the solar panels and having the system installed.
- You not only have to learn how to use the solar panels but also maintain them from time to time. You will have to keep the panels clean and also ensure that they remain protected in extreme weather.
- Despite the cons, there is no denying the fact that solar energy is beneficial not just for your household but also improves the performance of your heating system. Furthermore, you get to enjoy lowered utility costs and reduce your carbon footprint. If you can afford to bear the initial costs, this is definitely an investment you should make.
There’s no security system more eco-friendly than a good old-fashioned neighbor willing to pick up your mail for you and keep an eye on your house or office while you’re away on vacation. Times have changed. We’re all a lot busier, and neighbors’ time and attention is no longer as available. Security systems have come a long way toward becoming more eco-friendly in the meantime. Here are the latest security solutions for green-friendly homes and businesses.
Gone are the days when you had to jump in the car to investigate a tripped alarm at the company building. The latest security systems allow you to monitor your property on your mobile device while you’re away. You receive alerts when a window or door monitor is disturbed. You can get a live feed from surveillance cameras on your property. You can reset the alarm from a distance. Saving the fire department, the police or the company an unnecessary trip is eco-friendly as well as stress-free safety.
With a wireless security system, you can lock and unlock your front door to let your kids in after school. Then you can monitor their safety by checking in on the security camera feed. By hooking your thermostat into your security system, you can lower the temperature when you leave the house and raise it back up in time for your children’s return.
This works for the office, too. Turn the lights off at night, even if you forgot to do so when you left. Restore the heating system to a comfortable level in the morning, just in time for the first employee’s arrival. This can add up to significant savings on energy consumption.
Green Security Lighting
Security lighting is standard for most security systems, especially on commercial properties. Bright parking lot lighting is an extreme use of outdoor light. It adds significantly to light pollution, which disturbs the nocturnal natural environment as well as our view of the stars.
Continual lighting is not always necessary. In home use, it can advertise your absence. You can save on energy and keep your property safe by installing motion detectors on outdoor lights. They will only come on when someone is near. The bright lights will deter the intruder.
Extensive lighting is also unnecessary. By shielding lights, you can reduce the glare your ground lighting adds to the night sky. Pools of light in strategic places will expose any trespasser. It can even be argued that widespread lighting makes it easier for a thief to find his way.
Keeping your home or business green is made easy by the latest technology. Choose from the green-friendly security solutions available and make your environmental impact less.
If you own a swimming pool that is situated above ground and you are planning to move home, then you might be wondering if you can take it with you to your new home. The answer to that question is, yes you can take it with you, in fact portability is one of the main benefits of an above ground pool. However, moving it can be a tricky process, and you need to have a certain amount of DIY skills to compete the task.
Once you have located a suitable site at your new home in which to house the pool, you will then need to empty it, as well as prepare the area at the new site.
Preparing The Pool To Move
Empty the pool and then once it has been completely drained, you can begin to get ready to dismantle it. In order to take the pool apart quickly and safely, you should start from the top and work down. If there is a surround to the pool, then it should go without saying that this needs to come down before you make a start on the pool itself. As disassembling a pool and reassembling it can be a bit like a large jigsaw puzzle, you may want to mark each piece as you dismantle it, so that you know where it goes when you rebuild the structure. If you are lucky enough to still be in possession of the original assembly instructions, then follow these in reverse, as this will be a big help.
Once any surround has been removed, it is time to move onto the pool itself, and prior to removing the pool wall; you will need to take out the lining in the pool. This can be quite a delicate operation, so it is advisable to just ditch the old liner and replace it with a new one. Once this has been done, it should be fairly straightforward to dismantle the rest of the structure, although it is worth looking at some of the parts in case they are rusty and need replacing. It is worth asking your movers if they have prior experience in moving a swimming pool they may be able to offer assistance.
Getting Set Back Up
When you have transported the pool to the new location, it will help a lot if you arrange the pieces in such a way that they are easily accessible, and be careful not to lose any of the fittings such as the nuts and bolts, and the Polaris 360 parts.
Once you have made sure that the new location of the pool is level, and that you have all the parts, you can start the rebuilding process. Of course, this time you will need to start from the bottom up, with the base and the supports for the structure. Once this is in place, then you can add the pool walls and the new pool liner, before finishing with the surround. Again, this is where having the original instructions will come in doubly handy.
There are many advantages to moving your above ground swimming pool, the most obvious one being that you do not have to buy a new one for your new home. However, if you are not very good at DIY, then you may struggle to complete the job. Then you are going to have to pay someone to do it for you, and then there is the transportation costs too, which could add up to a tidy sum.
Ameline Clerk has been interested in design for a long time. She has also written regularly for poolcenter.com over the past few years and is a keen swimmer.
photo credit: evan.finn
With the effects of climate change more visible than ever, it is worth considering a switch more more environmentally friendly practices and products within your own. One oft-overlooked, but critical system deserving of your â€œgreenâ€ attention is your plumbing system: with a few simple switches that need not necessarily be expensive, it is possible to make your home a more eco-friendly building and save money in the long term. By making your plumbing system more efficient, you can save dozens of gallons of water each day and prevent money from – literally – wasting away down the drain.
Troubleshooting Issues Already Present Within Your Home: Fast Fixes
The most obvious and quick fix that can be performed in your home is to inspect and repair any leaky faucets, which can waste over twenty gallons of water each day if left unrepaired. Even the tiniest drip deserves your attention, especially since small leaks could represent a far larger drainage or blockage problem deep within your plumbing system. Hiring a plumber to check for any hidden leaks in your home – whether in your pipes, shower, toilets, or sinks – can help you to save even more water and money, and prevent problems from becoming worse in the future.
What about your familyâ€™s hot water heater? Making sure that the heater is insulated is key to saving energy and allowing the heater to properly function. Many families keep their water temperature quite high unnecessarily, and experts recommend that temperatures higher than 120 degrees Fahrenheit only send up your bills. Besides, most people cannot stand showers or baths at any higher temperatures, and therefore the extremely hot water simply goes to waste.
Environmentally-Friendly Installations and Upgrades:
Embracing Green Plumbing Products
One of the biggest focuses within the eco-friendly industry is maximizing efficiency in terms of low electricity costs and reduced water waste. When it comes time to replace any of your existing plumbing appliances – such as a toilet, a sink, or even pipes themselves – speak to a specialist to learn what new technologies are available at an affordable cost that will save you a lot of money in the long term. For example, low-flow, high efficiency toilets are available today at extremely reasonable prices, and are available in attractive models that suit various types of design and decoration sensibilities. Some of these toilet models feature the ability to select flush levels, which further prevents excess water waste.
Another issue to consider is what kind of products that you use to maintain your plumbing system. Are you employing lots of harsh and toxic chemicals to do your dirty work, or do you select green alternatives when cleaning your shower, toilet, sink, and other plumbing fixtures? Some families stay clear of the greener options simply because of price, which is understandable in todayâ€™s tough economy. However, not many people know that those fancy brands with the designer packaging can be replicated with simple, inexpensive products already found in your home – such as baking soda and vinegar. By making the switch to greener cleaning alternatives, you can do your part to reduce toxins within our water supply.
Many families already swear by a water-efficient shower head, but some are reluctant to make the switch as they fear they will lose the water pressure that they prefer. However, many great options are available today that help you save gallons of water during each shower, while providing relaxing effects with their water dispensing mechanism. Some models feature adjustable shower features, allowing each family member to select a shower experience that fits their personal preferences – be it a single thick stream of water, large massaging pulsing bolts of water, or a rejuvenating rain shower effect.
Next Steps Towards and Environmentally Friendly Plumbing System
Doing your part to help the environment is important, and it should be personally and financially rewarding to you and your family. Even after making these adjustments, continue to assess your home and living practices for any further tweaks that optimize your energy efficiency. For additional advice on how to make your plumbing system more green, contact specialists such as the experts at Fischer Plumbing who can provide additional consultations and advice. In the end, these steps can help you to save lots of money in the long term, reducing your bills dramatically and preventing any excess expenditures for repairs in the future.
photo credit: prettywar-stl
Just in case you’ve been sleeping under a rock for the last 20 years, Energy Star is a voluntary program that helps businesses and consumers save money. It does this by setting standards for energy efficiency. Appliances, like washing machines, dryers, dish washers, and refrigerators often carry the Energy Star seal, meaning that the appliance has met the minimum standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
But Energy Star extends beyond just appliances. It’s also used in the construction industry to certify insulation – and here’s where you want to have a knowledgeable contractor doing the work for you.
Hire Someone With Experience
Before you hire any insulation contractors in Houston, TX, make sure they’re qualified for the job. Insulation seems like an easy job, but it’s not. It takes a lot of experience to do correctly. Experience counts – remember that. At minimum, you want your contractor to have done at least 50 percent of his work as insulation installs, and you want that experience to be both recent and long-term.
If a contractor has only been in business for 2 years, and has no prior training, it might not be such a great idea to hire him on for the job. However, training can make all the difference here so don’t discount someone just because they haven’t been around forever.
Hire Someone Who Has Sufficient Training
Contractors rarely go to college – they’re trained via an apprenticeship. They work under a master carpenter for many years before working on their own. Then, they take on apprentices and pass down their knowledge. That’s just how the industry works.
So, even if a contractor has only been in business for a few years, it might not mean that he’s totally unqualified. It’s just a red flag – you’ll want to ask further about his training. If he’s been in an apprenticeship for 5 years, now the prospect is looking much better. It will be even better if he was professionally trained to install insulation.
Hire Someone Who Comes With References
Never hire any contractor without references. Ask for at least 10. That might seem like a lot but, in the home improvement business, it’s not. Ask specific questions about what type of work was done for the references, and then contact them directly. Verify the contractor’s story and then ask what they thought of the job, how much they were charged, and how well the work is holding up now.
You’ll be surprised at how many contractors won’t give you references – check them off the list and move on to the next one.
Hire Someone With Insurance
The last thing you want is to hire someone and then have him not pay his vendors or his subcontractors. All of the sudden, there’s a materials here and there and you’re having your home destroyed and you can’t find the original contractor you hired. Make sure that both the contractor and the subcontractors, if any, have insurance. Don’t assume subcontractors have insurance if the contractor does – they’re independent contractors. They need their own policy.
About the Author
Jeremy S is passionate about home efficiency. He enjoys writing about useful projects on DIY and homeowner blogs.
The only goal of a workplace is to maintain the highest amount of productivity while maintaining a positive work environment. A great way to provide this is to place plants in the office.
Two studies conducted concerning the relation of plants and heightened brain power and lowered anxiety :
- Texas A&M University performed an eight-month study to determine the connections between workplace productivity and plants. Researchers assigned participants with tasks and placed them in various office settings. Each study member was substantially more productive in the settings where plants where plants as opposed to a normal office setting or one with merely sculptures as decorations. Female members in this study provided 15 percent more creative problem solving techniques while male study members provided a higher amount of ideas.
- Virginia Lohr at the Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture of Washington State University, researchers added plants to a college computer laboratory and monitored each participant’s blood pleasure and emotional state while performing simple tasks. Participant’s blood pressure units lowered from one to four units each time plants were placed in their setting, and their reaction time quickened by an average of 12 percent.
Now here’s a very interesting study that suggests that plants can reduce sickness and even improve office staff’s appearance:
- Throughout December 1994 to January 1995, 59 staff members in Norway were split in half and placed in two different workrooms. 29 of the participants were placed in offices with plants, while the other 29 were placed in an office without. Before the experiment, researchers collected common symptoms of each staff member, which included fatigue, headache, throat discomfort and coughing. Researchers also noted the amount of dry facial skin of each participant before conducting the experiment. By the end of the experiment, researchers found these exceptional results:
- Overall fatigue was reduced by 30 percent when placed were placed in staff member’s office
- Frequency of headaches were reduced by 20 percent with plants in the office
- Instances of throat discomfort and hoarseness were reduced by 30 percent with office plants
- Coughing fell by 40 percent with plants in the office
- Dry facial skin was reduced by 25 percent when plants were placed in the office
These study results are astounding– not only do plants clear the air for your office, but they also reduce office sickness along with the added bonus of an office filled with glowing faces.
In order to receive the best benefits for your office, pick the plants with the most air purifying qualities. NASA graciously provides a purifying score to the plants that have the highest air cleansing properties. Consider the size of your office and choose from these three plants to ensure the most effectiveness:
The Areca palm tree possesses NASA’s highest air purifying ranking of 8.5. This palm tree not only removes chemical toxins from the air at a constant rate, but also serves as an excellent humidifier. Your staff breathes clean air and throat discomfort is also reduced by this mid-sized palm tree.
The Lady palm tree boasts the same score as the Areca palm, but its maintenance is a bit more involved than the Areca palm. The leaf composition is more sparse than the Areca palm, but the tips often go brown without careful maintenance that may not work well in an office setting.
Bamboo palms are popular in homes as well as offices for their great aesthetic qualities and low maintenance demands. Bamboo palms also hold a high purifying score of 8.4 which makes it a great choice for your office. Indirect sunlight and moist soil is all you need to keep the Bamboo palm and your staff happy.
Adding plants to an office not only adds color to the workplace, but it also gives you the chance to take advantage of its proven natural air purifying qualities. The better the air quality, the higher an office’s productivity will be. Avoid sick days and encourage attentiveness and creative problem solving by adding a little green to your office.
This contribution comes from Gaddy’s Indoor Plant Hire. In addition to plant hire, they offer outdoor maintenance services and event hire. Check out Gaddy’s plant hire range and plant display options.