Fireplace Efficiency Tips

Inefficient fireplaces can cost you  heat and money this winter. Follow these tips to save money and energy:

  1. Keep fireplace damper closed when not in use. An open damper can result in up to 10% loss in home heating loss.
  2. Be sure to close fireplace doors to lessen heat loss. If you do not have glass doors, install a chimney draft guard to reduce heat loss up the chimney.
  3. Check for air leaks around the fireplace hearth. Leaks should be properly sealed with caulk.
  4. Check the seals around your fireplace flue damper—if the seals aren’t tight, you could be losing home heating through the chimney.
  5. Install tempered glass doors and a heat-air exchange system that blows warm air back into the room.

These tips should keep you warm in your house all winter.fireplace

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Filed under Energy Conservation, Home Winterization

Seal Air Leaks to Conserve Energy

Properly sealing cracks and openings in you home can significantly reduce heating and cooling costs throughout the year. You may already have identified obvious air leaks, but you will need to do a bit more investigation to find the less obvious gaps to properly seal your home. 

Here are several tests that can be used to check for air leaks:

  1. Window Seal Check – Shut the window on a piece of paper. If paper can be pulled without tearing paper, than window should be resealed.caulk_18230501
  2. Visual Gap Check – After daylight hours, shine a light through closed window and door seam and have a partner confirm if light is visible on other side.
  3. Hot/Cold Air Check – Use your hands to feel around door and window seal checking for cold or hot air coming in through a leak.

Common areas to check for leaks are between brick and wood siding, between foundation and walls, and between the chimney and siding. In addition, you should inspect around these areas for leaks and drafts:

  • Door and window frames
  • Mail chutes
  • Electrical and gas service entrances
  • Cable TV and phone lines
  • Outdoor water faucets
  • Where dryer vents pass through walls
  • Bricks, siding, stucco, and foundation
  • Air conditioners
  • Vents and fans

 Home Pressurization Test

If you are having difficulty locating leaks and drafts, you may want to conduct a basic building pressurization test:

  1. First, close all exterior doors, windows and fireplace flues.
  2. Turn off all combustion appliances such as gas burning furnaces and water heaters.
  3. Then turn on all exhaust fans (generally located in the kitchen and bathrooms) or use a large window fan to suck the air out of the rooms.

This test increases infiltration through cracks and leaks, making them easier to detect. You can use incense sticks or your damp hand to locate these leaks. If you use incense sticks, moving air will cause the smoke to drift, and if you use your damp hand, any drafts will feel cool to your hand.

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Filed under Energy Conservation, Home Winterization

Ways to Have a Green Christmas

Here are a few ways you can make this Christmas season more eco-friendly:

green christmas1. Buy Less 

Gifts can fit a practical need and need to be bought new, while other are gestures of thoughtfulness. Find gifts that fit without overspending. 

2. Christmas lights

Solar LED lights are the most energy efficient lighting options. Convert those older light strings to save money this holiday season.

3. Wrapping paper

Instead of wasting loads of money on wrapping paper, save your children’s artwork throughout the year and wrap your presents in them. The kids will love seeing their masterpieces being handed around the family. Also, consider using gift wrapping paper from recycled materials.

4. Shop online

Rather than driving around shopping centers and mall car parking lots for hours wasting gas and time, then having to plow your way through the hordes of people in the shops, consider shopping online.

5. Reuse

Reuse or recycle gift packing materials, Bubble wrap can be stored for reuse, or recycled.

6.  Use eco friendly wrapping paper

Choose wrapping paper made using fibers such as hemp or paper using recycled content.

7. Make a list

Make your list and check it twice… Make sure you make a list of all the people you would like to give gifts to, this will reduce the amount of spontaneous purchases. You will also have the time to research online for the cheapest and best options or purchase.

8. Durable decorations

When purchasing decorations, buy good quality or make them yourself from reusable or recycled products. Good quality decorations may cost more up front, but they won’t need to be replaced as often

7. Christmas tree choices

Whilst artificial Christmas Trees last longer, the plastic used to make them can be quite toxic to our environment. Consider purchasing a real Christmas Tree or better yet substitute with an native tree. You can keep it in a pot through the holiday season than plant it in your backyard at the end of December.

8. Green gifts

Consider only purchasing eco friendly gifts. These gifts will tend to be unique will lighten your footprint this holiday season. The products available are often made from recycled goods or are made only of sustainable products and consist of eco friendly packaging.

9. DIY cards and gifts

Make your own cards and presents – these gifts are more likely to be treasured, extending their life cycle. You can also reuse last year’s cards by using them to make gift labels for this year.

10. e-cards

Instead of sending traditional Christmas Cards to family and friends, which cost both money and resources, reduce your carbon footprint by sending an e-card with a personal message.

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Filed under Recycling, Repurposing, Sustainable Goods

Product Review: Smart Faucet

The Smart Faucet is a 1.5gpm aerator with an antimicrobial handle that controls water flow from the faucet. Water only flows whensmart_faucet4 the handle is depressed, although there is a locking disk for continuous flow when needed. Installation may require a wrench but is easy and installation only takes a few minutes. The Smart Faucet requires no batteries or electricity to control water usage.

The Smart Faucet reports savings of up to 15,000 gallons when compared with a standard 2.5gpm aerator and the company offers a one-year limited warranty on parts and components.

Save water while you are soaping up your hands or brushing your teeth with this automatic faucet shut off valve. Great for disabled, elderly, children, arthritic hands or any situation where you don’t want to touch the faucet handles. Set the water handles to desired volume and mix after installing, push back on the lever for water. Let go of the lever and it shuts off the water.

Features:

  • Beautiful chrome finish Faucet Shut Off Valve
  • Installs on most bathroom faucets in minutes
  • No batteries, No electricity, No plumber, No special tools
  • Antimicrobial handle
  • Made in the USA

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Filed under Energy Conservation, Healthy Living, Product Review, Water Conservation

Product Review – A Wild Soap Bar

a wild soap bar

 

Take a wash on the wild side..   We were excited to be introduced to  A Wild Soap Bar. A Wild Soap Bar’s natural products are handmade in the USA, biodegradable, cruelty free, minimally packaged with recycled & recyclable materials, and do not contain synthetic fragrance oils, petroleum products, FD&C dyes, parabens, phthalates, sodium lauryl or laureth sulfates, antibacterial triclosan, TEA, or other harmful chemicals.  100% of base oils are certified organic.

A Wild Soap Bar offers over two dozen soaps and soap gift sets. All of them specially created to soothe, invigorate, and deep clean. Here are a few of the amazing soaps:

cedar wood

Cedarwood Scented with a fir needle essential oil blend and filled with ground cedarwood and moroccan red clay, this exfoliating bar is sure to please the outdoor lover with its fresh forest scent.

sassafras

Sassafras  offers a fresh fragrance with great lather and a clean rinse.  Sassafras Soap is spiked with cinnamon, spice and everything nice plus sassafras root and sweet orange oil. The exfoliating texture sloughs off dead skin cells while the warm spicy scent brightens your day.

soap sampler

The All Natural Soap Sampler is a fragrant, colorful soap assortment that’s great for travel, guests, or just someone who loves soap! In it is 8 of Wild Soap Bar’s most popular soaps.

A wild Soap Bar handcrafts soap using the slow cold process method, which means no external heat is used so the goodness of the natural ingredients are preserved for you as much as possible. Each bar begins with a high percentage of nutrient rich organic extra virgin olive oil to which we add organic coconut oil for fluffy lather, organic palm oil to increase longevity, organic high oleic sunflower oil for its superior skin care properties, and organic castor oil for a dense creamy lather that conditions and moisturizes. Next wild-crafted and organic botanicals are responsibly added, fragrant organic spices, purifying earth clays, and tropical butters for their exceptional skin care benefits. Finally, the  wildly aromatic olive oil soaps are scented with only pure essential oils extracted from plants… fresh clean scents, the way mother nature intended.

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Filed under Healthy Living, Product Review

Product Review – Wondercide Natural Pest Control Products

Wondercide Logo

 

When one thinks of pesticide poisoning, they most likely think of pesticides that are utilized on produce, such as apples, lettuce tomatoes, lettuce and other fruits and vegetables.  There are additional means of pesticide exposure that occurs from insecticides and lawn treatment, but additional exposure is common from the many flea and tick control products that are used everyday.

Here are a few simple ways to minimize exposure to pesticide poisoning:

  • Grow your own produce. Growing your own crops means that you can use healthful methods to control any pests. There are all-natural remedies for controlling pests and enriching soil. Or you can use organic pesticides.
  • There are certain produce items which contain the highest levels of pesticides. Avoiding these crops can reduce your pesticides consumption levels by as much as 90%. Some of these items are fruit like cherries, apples, peaches, pears and grapes. Vegetables you could avoid are celery, spinach and sweet bell peppers. Remember, if they are organically grown, then these are safe to eat.
  • If you spray your lawn, switch to organic lawn care.  Only treat your lawn with organic products.  This decreases exposure to harsh chemicals to you and your pet.
  • Choose natural and organic garden care products when caring for your lawn. Be sure to read the labels to make safe choices to reduce the risk of pesticide poisoning.
  • Use natural flea and tick prevention products that are safe for you and your pets.  Wondercide was founded on the principal of ecological and ethical means to make the world safer.

Stephanie Boone, founder of Wondercide, started her company when her precious dog Luna became so ill from veterinarian-prescribed flea and tick prevention meds.  Veterinarians suggested she put Luna down, but that was not the answer.   She sought out help from scientists, professors and holistic veterinarians to develop Wondercide.  Stephanie stated, “Treating the source, not the symptom” drives her to educate the public and offer an alternative to toxic flea and tick prevention medications.  Luna is now 14 years old and is healthy and happy.

 

 

 

Evolv

 

Evolv™ is natural and organic and is the alternative to the harsh chemicals found in veterinarian prescribed and over-the-counter flea and tick preventive medications that sickens and kills pets every year.  Evolv not only repels, it kills on contact.  Wondercide states, “Effective on all life cycle stages, this bio-based formula safely protects your your pet without risk to adults or children.”  It’s a safe and natural way to keep your pets free from critters, all while being safe for pets and children.

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Filed under Healthy Living, Natural Remedies, Product Review, Uncategorized

Bright Outlook for Texas Solar

Experts are anticipating that the solar energy market in the state of Texas to achieve significant growth over the next several years.  According to to the Solar Energy Industry Association:

  • Texas ranks 13th in the country in installed solar capacity, with enough solar energy installations to power 12,300 homes.
  • Residential and commercial photovoltaic systems prices fell by 22 percent over the last year.
  • More than 280 solar companies are actively working in the state of Texas, employing more than 3,000 Texans.

 

 

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Filed under Energy Conservation, Solar, Technology