Sunday, May 3, 2009

Greening your home

They’re many simple ways to go green without spending a lot of money in the slow economy. You can lower the impact of consumption with a few helpful tips that will help save the environment and also save money on your energy bill.

• Switch to compact fluorescent light bulbs
Compact fluorescent light bulbs can be a huge
energy saver by replacing all of your incandes-
cent bulbs with fluorescents and save on reductions in
heat production, energy use and your electric bills.

• Program your thermostat
When you are at home, keep the thermostat at 78˚F or
higher in the summer and 62˚F or lower in the winter.
Programmable thermostats allow you to program the
systems to reduce output when they are not needed.

• Plug air leaks
This simple step can go a long way toward keep-
ing your home at the temperature you desire, saving
money on heating and air conditioning bills.

• Tune up your heating and cooling system
Have a checkup for your HVAC system every 2 years
to make sure it is running efficiently. Be sure to clean
the filter monthly during times of peak usage; a dirty
filter can significantly reduce the efficiency of your

• Switch to green power
Green Power is an optional utility service for custom-
ers who want to help expand the production and
distribution of renewable energy technologies. With
green power, you do not have to change your elec-
tricity provider. Instead, customers choose to pay a
premium on their electricity bill to cover the extra cost
of purchasing clean, sustainable energy. More info on
green power can be found at:\gov/greenpower/markets/

• Choose ENERGY STAR appliances
Energy Star products meet a high level
of energy efficiency, which can translate into savings
on electric bills. When considering the price of a new
appliance, take into account not only the purchase
price, but also the long-term savings associated with
an energy-efficient appliance.

• Reduce water use

• Indoor:
Use less water by adding aerators
to your sink faucets and changing to low-
flow showerheads
• Check leaky faucets
•Limit showers and take less baths
•Using dishwasher over hand wash

The dishwasher uses only half the energy, one-sixth of the water, and less soap. But there is a lot more to it than just faucet and sink and the appliance under your counter. Be aware of what hand washing habits you are using. How do you heat the water in your home? And how often do you do the dishes? How much water do you need to use doing the dishes? Do you fill the dishwater full and use only when needed?

• Outdoor:
Incorporate native plants in your land-
scape plan and minimize high-maintenance
landscaping such as rock, cement or turf grass to conserve water.
• Sprinkler system/ check for time controlled system

• Plant trees to provide shade and wind protection
for your house

This simple step can help you save money on heat-
ing and air conditioning bills while providing beautiful
views around your home.

• Use native plantings

Native plants have been growing and evolving in your
area for thousands of years and, as a result, have
adapted to the local soils and climate. As a result they
are more likely to thrive with minimal care, unlike
exotic plants. That can mean less need for water, fertilizer
and pesticides. Additional info on green landscaping
techniques can be found at

• Use nontoxic gardening techniques
Many gardeners over-apply or improperly apply
pesticides, putting themselves, their families, and pets
at increased health risk. Nearly half of all households
have pesticides stored within reach of children.

• Carpool, use public transportation, walk or bike
when possible
Green transportation means can greatly reduce
your energy expenditures and carbon
emissions from your daily routine

• Buy a high-efficiency car

The U.S. Department of Energy’s list offers the most fuel
efficient cars at
• Use reusable trash bags
• Reusable and recyclable shopping bags for grocery shopping
• Rethink your refrigriater

Buy an Energy Star fridge and you're likely to be dealing with numbers that are roughly half the energy used in older versions depending on size desired. Old fridges are really inefficient compared to their new contemporaries and you don't have to work that hard to cut back the amount a new fridge uses.

• Unplug appliances when not in use
• Line dry laundry

Avoid plastic, recycle and save energy

There are so many ways to help save the environment such as reducing waste, saving on plastic and making small changes that can have a big impact over time.

Choosing to use products that are organic made without toxic chemicals and use sustainable or easily replenished raw materials are also positive measures for supporting the green movement and being eco-friendly.

Catherine Waltrip, who is a member of the Sierra Club, an environmental organization on saving the environment, said that everyone should take the necessary steps in moving forward toward living more green.

“One major change that people should make in becoming more environmentally friendly is switching to biodegradable trash bags and avoid using plastic whenever possible,” Waltrip said.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency website, in 2007 the United States generated almost 14 million tons of plastics containers in landfills, almost 7 million tons as nondurable goods and about 10 million tons as durable goods.

In the study, the largest category of plastics found are containers and packaging such as soft drink bottles, lids and shampoo bottles. The second largest category is diapers, trash bags, cups and utensils and medical devices.

“Everyone needs to make better choices such as ordering drinks with no lids and no straws. If a store only offers plastic containers for drinks, do not order a drink,” Waltrip said. “For takeout, I carry biodegradable clamshells in my car. I always forego a bag at stores, either bringing my own or, if I've forgotten them, carrying my items into my house in armfuls.”

According to the American Plastics Council, more than 1,800 U.S. businesses handle or reclaim post-consumer plastics. In 1997, APC estimated that roughly one-half of all U.S. communities of about 19,400 collected plastics for recycling, primarily such as soda bottles.

“Every piece of plastic I have not used is a piece of plastic that is not in a landfill or a lake or a forest or an ocean,” Waltrip said.

Other alternatives to plastic are choosing products that are in recycled reusable glass or metal. Also, choosing biodegradable, unbleached wax bags are better than even recyclable plastic that still have chemicals in them. These are available in Whole Foods stores and are compostable. Plants can even be planted in them.

Another step in becoming green is to start learning how to recycle, what items can be recycled and where to go to recycle.

All kinds of paper may be recycled such as envelopes with plastic windows, magazines, newspaper, and cereal boxes. Other items such as eyeglasses and hearing aids can be recycled.

The Salvation Army or the Goodwill is a good source geared towards helping those who need items they do not have and for others to re-use it.

Other items are phone books, cell phones and smoke detectors. Ink cartridges, batteries, magazines, packing foam and foam peanuts can be recycled.

Dell and Apple Products will also recycle old PC’s and computers and they both offer programs to help you earn money for them.

“Recycling is important for many reasons because many items get lost into the storm drains everywhere with gushing bags, cans, bottles, cups and fast food containers and go out to the sea and fed into the ocean releasing toxins into the water,” Waltrip said.

Companies like eco-trash bin rentals is a good source for recycling items or calling your city to make sure you have a bin for recycling is always a good choice in helping recycle.

International Environmental Solution is a company that will turn your waste into energy with their new advanced pyrolyctic system that break down waste materials without using direct heat or oxygen.

Unplugging power tools or chargers is a good way to save on energy. Figure out which cordless tools get the most use, and then unplug the chargers on all the rest. Most cordless tools have nickel cadmium batteries, which will hold some charge for up to a year.

Try consolidating incandescent bulbs with dimmers or three-ways on multiple fixtures in a room. One 100-watt incandescent emits more light than two 60-watt bulbs combined but requires 17 percent less power. The 100-watter also uses the same energy as four 25-watt bulbs, but pumps out twice as much light.

Another tip to saving on energy is slipping a dollar bill between the rubber gasket on your freezer and fridge doors between the frames. Then close the door and tug on it to see if the dollar slips easily back. This trick will test the seal and if it is tight enough. If is not, cold air is probably leaking out, making your fridge work harder to stay cool. Try this on all four sides of the door.

Check your house for any leaky faucets. One drip per second from a leaky faucet or pipe can waste up to 5 gallons of water a day and 1,800 gallons a year.

Use the dishwater instead of washing dishes by hand. Doing a full load in your machine is far more efficient than washing the same number of dishes by hand.

Becoming more environmentally responsible can become easier as tools become more readily available and business become greener in helping save the environment.

In making greener choices there are many websites to help you find an organization, new technology or another alternative to help you live more green and help you find ways to renew it, reuse it, donate it or just completely eliminate it.