Fix leaks. The most common fixture that leaks is the toilet flapper. Checking for leaks should be part of your overall maintenance plan and should be done on a regular basis. Perform a water audit. Take a look at your water meter when no one is likely to be using water. If the meter is moving, you have a leak.
Install water-saving devices. Can you transform your single flush toilets to dual flush with a kit? How about installing a Smart Faucet in every bathroom? The EPA has rolled a complete line of water saving fixtures under its WaterSense label, however, but these are merely minimums. Individuals should go beyond the minimum by installing 1.5 gallons per minute (gpm) shower heads when the WaterSense minimum allows shower heads with flow rates of 2.5gpm. Rebates may also be available from your local utility to promote the installation of new high efficiency toilets that utilize 1.28 gallons per flush or better.
Upgrade to water saving appliances. Old dishwashers and top-loading washing machines are incredible inefficient, utilizing as much as 25 gallons per load of dishes and 35 gallons of water per load of laundry. New high-efficiency models utilize a fraction of the water. Dishwashers in the two gallon range are very effective and front-loading washing machines use about a third of the water of what top-loaders use and rebates may be available. The less water an appliance uses, the less electricity and natural gas that will be needed to heat that water.
Rethink landscaping. Plant what’s appropriate for your region and you will reduce water consumption, increase habitat for native species and raise the value of your property. Re-landscaping is a big expense, but you are paying to water and maintain plants every year, year and year out, when you could be pocketing the money you currently budget for water.
On 8:30pm, Saturday 29th March, the WWF are encouraging everyone to switch their lights off for 1 hour to help recognize the increasing problem of climate change. It is widely accepted that climate change is causing the ice caps to melt and seas to warm, threatening ecosystems and coastal areas around the world. This is also causing related effects in other places as rising temperatures are causing increased droughts , threatening the most vulnerable animals and people worldwide.For just 1 hour, 8:30pm, Saturday, March 29th, many landmarks and cities throughout the world are showing their support for Earth Hour and recognizing the danger of climate change by switching the lights off during this time. To find out how you can participate, go to http://www.earthhour.org/TakeAction.aspx.
The Hovenring is an incredible suspended roundabout designed by IPV Delft to allow cyclists to safely navigate congested traffic by traveling above it. The Hovenring is located between Eindhoven and Veldhoven in the Netherlands. The circular steel bridge not only offers an alternative route for cyclists, but is also aesthetically pleasing landmark for locals and tourists.
The structure adds is an intriguing element to the landscape, with a pylon that soars approximately 230 feet high with 24 steel cables attached to it, holding the circular pathway up like a hovering saucer. The Hovenring provides spectacular viewing in daylight and at night, when the structure is illuminated. The Hovenring bicycle path offers an innovative approach to future road designs focused on efficiency and safety.
Caulking seems like a relatively easy thing to do, and in most cases it is. There are simple tips and tricks that can make a big difference between a easy, seamless, hassle-free caulking job and one that’s messy and full of frustration. Before you start your next caulking job, here are a few things to keep in mind.
- Purchase a good-quality pro-style caulking gun ($10). Skip the cheap low-end guns that utilize a ratcheting plunger. Ratcheting guns don’t operate smoothly, making it hard to apply a clean, uniform bead.
- Use blue painter’s tape to protect your windows and the other side of the joint you are trying to fill. Leave a gap between the tape about 3/8ths of an inch wide.
- Find a utility knife as when you cut off the top of the caulk tube, you do not want an uneven or straight cut. Make the cut at a 45 degree angle.
- When you apply the caulk you will hold the caulk gun at approximately 45 degree angle.
- Bend a piece of cardboard and practice on the seam before you attack your first seam. You could start in a less visible area where any mistakes will be less noticeable.
- After you apply the caulk, use a plastic spoon to smooth the seam so that it is more or less flush.
- Keep the tip of your caulking tube clean and free of dried caulk.
- Make sure you pull the tape off before the caulk dries to leave clean seam.
Proper caulking and sealing will lead to an increase in energy efficiency of a home’s heating and cooling systems. Caulking can also substantially extend the life of windows and doors.
First come the New Year, and then comes the resolutions. With eco awareness on the rise, it’s not surprising that many New Year’s resolutions are to live a cleaner and more sustainable life. While green living may be the new buzz word, to start doing it may take some definition and direction. Here are a few ideas that may help you move toward a more green 2014:
1. Practice the 3 R’s: Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle.
2. Buy organics: Shop your local farmer’s market for organic fruits and veggies and look for natural personal care and clothing made from natural fibers.
3. Bring your own reusable bags when you go shopping.
4. Composting as much as possible. Collect your table scraps and lawn clippings in a yard composter to make free fertilizer! Use it on your plants, gardens, tree pits, anywhere!
5. Recycling: recycle everything! Paper, materials, home items, and more!
6. Energy efficiency: purchase energy star certified appliances. Buy and use renewable or wind energy and monitor your use of energy.
7. Water: Reduce you water usage with xeriscaping and using sprinkler systems in the yard. Use shower timers and other water conservation tools to reduce your daily water usage.
8. Indoor air quality: use chemical free cleaners, live plants, sustainable fabrics and paint in your home. Your indoor air quality will improve and you’ll support sustainable businesses producing green products.
9. Wash your clothes in cold water. You will reduce your energy consumption by reducing the amount of heated water needs. Also, instead of using the dryer, try to hang your clothes outside or indoors on a folding rack .
10. Play outside. Have fun and keep fit by appreciating all that nature has to offer: parks, trails, gardens, etc.
11. Green your travel. Try a eco trip this year for your vacation.
12. Get an Energy Audit: Find an energy audit company in your area to analyze the energy efficiency of your home. An audit can potentially save you thousands of dollars by making a few changes.
Have a Happy (Green) New Year!!!
Why should you seek to reduce the carbon footprint of your car? Every year the average vehicle puts out between 9,000 – 11,000 pounds of CO2 emissions. Collectively, these emissions are a leading cause of global warming.
Here are a few tips of how you can reduce your car carbon footprint:
- Drive reasonable speeds. You’ll get a lot better mileage on most cars if you stay under 65 mph.
- Make your next vehicle a fuel-efficient one.
- Keep your car properly tuned up and keep the fuel and air filters clean. Replace according to schedule.
- Keep your tires properly inflated. Improperly inflated tires can result in a loss of 1 – 2 mpg
Now that we are approaching the early part of winter, you can take some steps to reduce the amount of energy that you’re using to lower your bill. Here are some suggestions.
- Turn Back the Thermostat - Set your thermostat to 68°. Your heating system will operate less and use less energy. You can also save from 450 – $125 a year by turning down your thermostat down 5° at night or when leaving your home for an hour or more. For a small investment, consider purchasing a programmable thermostat to adjust your home’s temperature settings automatically.
- Use power strips – Plug home electronics devices, such as TVs, computers, game devices and stereo equipment, into power strips; turn the power strips off when the equipment is not in use. Another step further would be to implement smart power strips to improve energy efficiency and reduce vampire power loss.
- Set Water Heater to 120° - Consider reducing your water heater to a cooler setting will reduce the amount of energy required to keep the water warm enough. A reduction of 10°F could result in a savings of 2 – 6% savings in water heating related costs.
- Wrap Your Water Heater - Purchase a water heater blanket, which is widely available at most hardware and home improvement stores. The Department of Energy states that this will save the average household around 4-9% of their annual total water heating costs (around $12 – $48 for most homes.)
- Clean Refrigerator Coils - On an annual basis, refrigerator coils should be vacuumed and cleaned. Dirty coils can result in energy loss between 5% – 8%.
- Seal Building Leaks and Gaps – Use weather stripping and caulk around windows and doors. This will be an inexpensive way to save on energy loss.
- Install Water-efficient Water Appliances - By installing low use shower heads and faucets, you can reduce hot water usage by up to 10%, which will be a savings of $5 – $25 per water appliance.
- Replace Furnace or Heat Pump Filter - Regularly replace dirty filters to improve airflow, which will improve furnace performance, which can result in a $25 – $50 annual savings.
- Properly Seal Duct Work - Properly seal ducts of a FHA (forced hot air) System to reduce energy loss.
- Switch to Compact Flourescent Light Bulbs - CFL’s can save up to $40 – $50 over the life of the bulb in energy costs.
- Smart Appliance Replacement - When appliances and electronic devices can not be repaired, choose a replacement that is Energy Star Compliant. These devices are tested to be more energy efficient than older models.
- Seal Fireplace Damper - To reduce heat loss, be sure to close damper when not in use. You can further reduce heat loss up the chimney by installing a chimney draft stopper.
Test For Air Leaks and Drafts to Reduce Energy Loss
Properly sealing cracks and openings in you home can significantly reduce heating and cooling costs throughout the year. You may already know where some air leakage occurs in your home, such as an under-the-door draft, but you’ll need to find the less obvious gaps to properly seal your home.
Here are several tests that can be used to check for air leaks:
- Window Seal Check – Shut the window on a piece of paper. If paper can be pulled without tearing paper, than window should be resealed.
- 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.
- 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:
- First, close all exterior doors, windows and fireplace flues.
- Turn off all combustion appliances such as gas burning furnaces and water heaters.
- 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.
Generally food waste is organic and will decompose, but when mixed with other waste in the landfill food waste actually contributes to the production and release of harmful gases which potentially cause environmental damage. In fact, food scraps are the third largest segment of the waste stream with nearly 26 million tons generated each year. Of the overall aste stream,about 12% is food-related, behind paper and plastic
However, by composting your food waste, you can actually put that waste to good use by putting it back back into the earth. The resulting compost can be used in a variety of different ways to support your yard or garden.
Compostable Food Items:
- Uncooked vegetables and peelings
- Tea bags
- Crushed egg shells
- Coffee grounds
- Non-food materials such as plants and flowers, grass clippings, leaves and shredded paper, cardboard.
Non-compostable Food Items:
- Food which has been cooked. Cooked food, even vegetables, can attract vermin
- Meat or fish
- Dairy products
- Non-food items such as cat or dog litter, large pieces of wood, coal ash
- Plastics and metals.
How to Compost
You will need to buy or make a compost bin to effectively to manage your waste to create compost. Check with your local municipality for compost bin rebate programs.
Place your compost bin on a level, well-drained area. Make sure that the base of your compost bin is open and place it on soil ideally. This is so that the compost can absorb nutrients and moisture from the soil below easily. It also enables creatures like worms to get into the waste and they help break it down into compost.
Cover the compost bin with a water-proof cover. Every three months you will need to stir the compost pile until it is ready. The process can take anywhere from four to 18 months depending upon your climate and the types of waste in the compost pile. The compost is ready when the compost is a consistent dark brown and develops an earthy smell.
Tips for Composting
- The ideal composting mixture will be a combination of all the materials in the first list above.
- Small items tend to compost faster. Cut larger items into smaller pieces to speed the composting process.
- Add fresh water periodically to maintain the needed moisture level for a healthy compost pile, but do not over-water. If your compost pile gives off a strong odor, add less water and add wood chips or cardboard to soak up the additional moisture.
- Access to direct sunlight will speed the composting process.
Easy and Quick Composting For those that may not want to deal with the physical demands or time it takes for a compost pile to mature, we recommend the use of a tumbling composter Tumbling is the most effective method for making compost quickly because it evenly mixes nitrogen and carbon materials(green and brown) for optimal eco-interaction. Add the benefit of complete distribution of moisture, air, and organic microbes throughout the batch and you’ll create conditions perfect for express composting. Vented ends provide optimal aeration so this tumbler will help create finished compost 4 to10 times quicker than a tradition composting bed. Plus its resistant to animal entry and it’s easy to turn. Just load up the composting drum and tumble it a couple times a week. Nature will do the rest as it creates nutrient rich organic compost in as little as 3 weeks.
Checkout our indoor composters and yard composters.