4 Water and Energy Conservation Apps

Consumers are becoming increasingly responsible with water and energy conservation. With multiple U.S. states experiencing exceptional levels of drought – including California, Nevada, and Oklahoma – residents are seeking to lower their resource consumption. This doesn’t necessarily include major shifts in your lifestyle. You can cut down on resource consumption by making slight changes to your everyday habits. Here are four mobile apps that can help your household improve its conservation efforts.

H20 Tracker

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This fun and engaging app allows families to keep track of drought news and monitor their home water use indoors and outdoors. By answering a few simple questions regarding your shower, appliance, and gardening habits, you’ll be able to identify opportunities to cut down on water consumption. If you notice someone being extremely wasteful with water, you can also use this app to report these issues to your local water supply. Households can also compare their water usage with others in their city, so you can see if you’re on par with your community’s efforts. Read the rest of this entry »

10 Simple Ways to Lower Your Energy Bill

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Sometimes, it’s the littlest things you can do that can have the biggest impact over time. This is the case when you implement a few but effective changes in how you use electricity that will result in slashing your energy bills.

In mid-summer, it’s hard to cool down a home. Turns out, there are several ridiculously simple things you can do to radically reduce your energy bill – and they don’t require a large investment of your time or money. Here are a few easy ways to successfully cut down on your energy bill:

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4 Ways to Boost the Energy Efficiency of Your Home

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Today, eco-friendly individuals and families are trying to import energy savings and a green approach to life into their homes. Among the tactics they use are making informed purchases, activating energy-save modes on electronics, unplugging unused devices, and repairing electronics that have power drain issues.

These are just a few of the ways you can reduce energy drains at home and save on your power bill. Below are specific details on these energy-saving strategies.

1. Purchase carefully

Some consumer electronics and home appliances have higher energy efficiency ratings than others. Look for labels like Energy Star, which indicates that a particular product uses less energy than alternatives.

The Energy Star program is run by the federal Environmental Protection Agency, which aims to assist consumers in making smarter choices. While some of these products come with a higher retail price tag, they can guarantee you’ll enjoy substantial energy savings in the long run.

2. Energy-save modes

Newer home appliances and electronics such as computers, printers, video game consoles, and air conditioners have energy-save modes, which can reduce the power drain when a device is sitting idle.

These settings are ideal if you need to employ the technology quickly, without the inconvenience of having to turn it on and off. You can learn about the energy-save mode on various products by referring to the instructions provided by the manufacturer. Read the rest of this entry »

Is Recycling Really Worth It?

Is Recycling Really Worth It?

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Most people support the concept of recycling, which is the act of taking waste products and turning them into new forms that can be used again. It is a practice with many obvious benefits, but it can also have some potential drawbacks as well. Here’s a look at some of the positive and negative effects of recycling.

Saves Resources

A definite plus for recycling is that it saves natural resources in a number of ways. For one thing, whenever the raw materials that went into making the original product can be reused, it becomes unnecessary to invest energy into getting new raw materials for more products. Since there is a finite amount of resources in the world, recycling helps to ensure that our resources don’t run out and are available for future generations.

Saves Energy

If you have to constantly manufacture products from scratch, then you must continually invest the same amount of time and energy. However, recycling cuts out a lot of the expensive process of making new products, thereby allowing manufacturers to save money that can then be turned into higher profits for the businesses and lower prices for the consumer. In this sense, recycling is not just good for the environment, it is good for the public purse and the business bottom line as well.

Less Pollution

A major cause of pollution is the industrial waste created by manufacturing consumer products. However, much of the pollution causing manufacturing process can be reduced or eliminated through recycling. Instead of throwing products away and manufacturing from scratch, recycling allow the same materials to be used again in ways that avoid the need for new raw materials and the landfills for discarded products. It is similar to how an e cigarette reduces the waste from cigarette butts and pollution from tobacco smoke.

Creates Jobs

Recycling doesn’t happen by magic. Someone has got to go out and gather the objects to be recycled and then ship them to where they can be processed. The act of retrieving and then selling the recovered materials also requires people who know how to do these things. In other words, recycling creates jobs, thereby strengthening the economy and reducing unemployment.

Economics

Unfortunately, there is also a downside to recycling, and that is the fact that not all forms of recycling are cost effective. In some cases, the technological cost of recovering the materials surpasses the amount of money you can make from selling it. In those cases, government subsidies by taxpayers may be required, which is something that is not always popular with voters. Where the cost is too prohibitive, we may simply have to wait for the technological breakthroughs that will allow recycling to make economic sense.

Questionable Quality

Another potential drawback is the fact that not everything recycled is of the same quality as the original. For some substances, the act of recycling cause a degradation in the grade of the material. In those cases, recycling may not make sense from a quality control perspective.

Hygiene Issues

Recycled products are clean and safe, but the facilities for doing the recycling may be another story. Recycling by its very nature requires gathering all kinds of waste, some of which may pose pollution and cleanliness issues of their own. Many recycling processes involve water, which poses the potential of pollution leaking from the recycling site into drinking water. Generally, this is something that can be controlled by technological precautions, but these measures cost money that can make the recycling process unprofitable.

Like most things in life, recycling has both positive and negative aspects. Increasingly, the negatives of recycling are being reduced by technological innovations that are lowering costs, improving quality and eliminating any negative ecological impact of recycling facilities. In the long run, the positive effects of recycling such as savings on energy, resources and pollution control, will cause the levels of recycling to increase.

5 Ways to Go Green in the Home

5 Ways to Go Green in the Home

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Going green in the home is not only a way to provide a safer and healthier lifestyle for your entire family, but it is also a way to ensure you are also reducing your carbon footprint as much as possible at all times. Learning about various ways to go green in the home is a way for you to determine the best options for you and your household based on your intentions as well as any budget you have available to invest.

Upgrade Kitchen Appliances and Electronics

Upgrade your home’s kitchen appliances and electronics in the home to go green instantly. Most kitchen appliances and new electronics today are Eco-friendly and offer a wide range of energy-saving features and capabilities. Many Eco-friendly kitchen appliances today use a fraction of the water and electricity that traditional dishwashers and other appliances use daily.

Unplug Electrical Items When Not in Use

Unplug any and all electronics in your home when they are not in use to ensure you are minimizing the amount of electricity and energy you and your entire family are using on a monthly basis. Keeping your electronic unplugged until you need them can drastically reduce the amount of energy you use over a year’s worth of time. Be sure to inform your children and any members of your household about unplugging electronics that are not in use. While simply shutting off televisions and computers helps to cut down on energy usage and cost dramatically, it still requires energy when the electronics are plugged in. Unplugging all electronics ceases the ability to use up more energy throughout all areas of your home.

Using Electronic Cigarettes

Consider the option of using the electronic alternative version of a cigarette when you are seeking new ways to go green around the home while reducing your carbon footprint and the toxins you release into the atmosphere. Using an electronic version of a cigarette is a way for you to not only reduce your own carbon footprint, but it also ensures you are not putting anyone in your family or household at risk for smoke inhalation or related diseases and illnesses.

Invest in a Home Warranty

Having a warranty for your home is another way for you to go green while you have the ability to ensure all of your appliances and electronics can be repaired at a known price to maintain your green state. Getting a warranty for your home can be done by first determining the type of coverage you are interested in for repairs in addition to also calculating estimates for the value of any items and electronics or appliances you wish to cover that are currently in your home itself.

Use All-Natural Cleaning Solvents and Solutions

Use all-natural cleaning solvents and solutions as opposed to traditional cleaning sprays and materials, masked with chemicals and toxins that are not always healthy for the body. Becoming more aware of label ingredients as well as the type of materials you are exposing yourself and your entire family to each day is a way for you to make more informed decisions the next time you are browsing for the right cleaning solvents and solutions for your home. It is also possible to go green at home by getting creative and making your own all-natural cleaning solutions with the use of basic ingredients, ranging from bleach and water to vinegar and lemon, depending on the type of surface you want to clean and the area in the home which requires cleaning.

Understanding how to go green in any home regardless of where you live is a way for you to cut down on energy usage and waste at all times throughout the year. The more effort you put into consciously reducing your carbon footprint and going green, the more you are ultimately positively contributing to your surrounding environment.

5 Ways To Welcome The Outdoors In

For those homeowners who spend long, busy days confined in drab office spaces, bringing the outdoors into the home helps to create a warm and inviting living space that fosters a calming environment and creates an atmosphere that does wonders for the soul. By addressing 5 fundamental areas of design and décor, bringing basic outdoor elements inside is something that every homeowner can accomplish.

1. Flooring

Wood flooring offers homeowners the perfect solution for creating a warm, organic feeling that is visually appealing and inviting for virtually anyone’s tastes. While traditional wood or bamboo are considered the perfect choice, the expense is often a deal breaker. Innovations in laminate flooring offer homeowners the look and feel of natural wood products without the costs associated with traditional materials. Homeowners are able to choose from a variety of patterns that take on the look and feel of oak, pine, bamboo, and a host of other natural flooring choices.

2. Color

Using colors that are inspired by outdoor elements is a fun and cost effective way to create an outside feel in virtually any room in the home. Even in basements! Whether it’s various shades of green to represent grass and plant life, or it’s subtle shades of blue that represent the sky and water, there are endless color combinations that will bring the feeling of the outdoors, inside. Adding neutral tones will help to create a clean feeling that will also produce the illusion of a larger space. Color doesn’t have to be limited to walls, trim, and ceilings. Outdoor colors can be used to create a natural feeling when used in furniture, bedding, window treatments, and tile on floors, counters, and shower walls.

3. Natural Light

Natural light is by far the most economical way to bring the outdoors into any home. Avoid keeping blinds closed and curtains drawn when there is natural light just waiting to lift the spirits. Even in those areas where some type of window covering might be necessary for privacy, using fabrics that are sheer or light weight will help to let the outdoors pour freely into your home. Natural light has an uncanny ability to help make us feel healthier and is a great natural remedy. When weather permits, opening those windows and breathing the fresh air is just an added bonus. For those homeowners with sliding glass doors, a little bit of routine maintenance will help to make opening, closing, and securing them, much easier. For doors that have been out of service, newly installed sliding door hardware will do a world of good for older, stubborn sliders.

4. Texture

Natural textures will help to create that outdoor feeling and add a level of dimension to any interior living space. Again, this fundamental tip does not have to break the bank. From materials used to upholster furniture to accents like whicker baskets, area rugs, lampshades, or a rustic barn door the sky really is the limit when it comes to using textures to welcome in the outdoors. The only science behind this tip is simply how a particular texture makes the homeowner feel. If a whicker basket filled with magazines makes you feel as if your sitting on the porch, that means the whicker basket has done its job.

5. A Room With A View

Sometimes working on your interior living space means doing a little bit of work outdoors. When your windows are cleaned and your blinds are open, nothing kills the mood more than an obstructed window. Taking some time to trim branches, remove overgrowth, and eliminate man-made clutter will help to create the perfect view. Bringing the outdoors into your home is essential to help keep refreshed, excited about life, and ready to tackle each day with a smile on your face. While improvements like flooring may come with a price, there are plenty of projects to keep you busy until you’re ready to commit to larger renovations.

6 Things You Didn’t Know You Could Recycle

6 Things You Didn’t Know You Could Recycle

This planet has a finite amount of resources, and every item that is recycled means that fewer resources must be used. In addition to this, it is a great way for any household to cut down on their carbon footprint and maybe even save a little money throughout the years. While everyone may be tossing their aluminum cans and glass bottles in the recycling bin, here is a look at a few of the odd items that many never think to recycle.

Cooking Oil

Cooking oil remains one of the most popular items to recycle due to the wide variety of unique uses for this product. Cooking oil is typically recycled in bulk with special cylinders being used to store and transport the oil. In recent years, cooking oil has been used to power bio-diesel engines which are a great alternative to traditional gasoline and diesel engines. Along with bio-diesel engines, some homes are now even using cooking oil byproducts to heat the building with specialty furnaces and heaters.

Small Electronics

It is especially important for all families to take a closer look at their handheld electronic devices when it comes to recycling. Many times, these devices contain a number of metals and chemicals that are not supposed to be grouped with common household waste. Topping the list of smaller electronic devices that should be properly recycled include batteries and mobile phones. Other products include handheld gaming systems, computer parts, stereos, e cigarette cartriges, and appliances.

Hair

Human hair may not be the first thing that one considers recycling, but donated hair is one of the best ways for someone to give back when changing up their hairstyle. While untreated hair can be sold for extensions, many companies exclusively deal with donated hair that can be used to make wigs for the needy. Those with longer hair that are considering donating should speak with a local hair donation center to see what products can and cannot be used before cutting.

Glasses

Many people will find themselves collecting eyeglasses throughout the years as their prescription continues to change, but glasses remain one of the most useful items to donate. Countless eyeglass warehouses and non-profit organizations accept old prescription glasses and simply regrind the lenses in order to change their strength. These glasses are then sold or given away to those in need.

Shoes

When shoes are no longer wearable, most people are going to toss them in the trash without knowing that they are made of some very useful substances. Some of the largest shoe manufacturers such as Nike and Reebok have created programs to reuse some of the materials of tennis shoes. Primarily, this is the rubber that is found on the soles of shoes that can be broken down and used to resurface playgrounds.

Water Filters

Using water filters is a great way to cut down on the use of plastic bottles, but many are at a loss of what to do with the filters after they have expired. These filters can last anywhere from a few weeks to a year and are now being used to create other plastic-based products after they are no longer needed. Along with the plastic, many water filters also contain filtering components such as charcoal which can be cleaned, detoxified, and repurposed.

Paper, plastic, and metals are only the beginning when it comes to creating a greener household. Everyone should take a second look at some of the items they toss out every single day to see which can be recycled, reused, and repurposed.

Is Solar Energy Right For Your Home?

Is Solar Energy Right For Your Home?

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Solar energy is slowly climbing the ranks of energy use in homes around the world. There are both sides to the argument for solar energy and the use of solar panels in residential homes. This is a pretty polarizing issue, but becoming educated about both the pros and cons of solar panels can help you decide whether solar panels are right for you.

Solar Energy Pros

The first and most obvious benefit of using solar energy is friendliness to the environment. Solar energy is renewable; by drawing power from the sun, we will never run out of that energy source. The sun will always be part of life on Earth and using its power has no adverse effect on the sun or our planet; there are no pollutants created as by-products of solar energy. This makes solar energy sustainable while energy from fossil fuels and coal will eventually run out. Once these fossil fuels are all used up and completely gone from the planet, future generations will be faced with a big problem: Where will they turn for their main source of energy?

The second benefit is the much lower cost of energy. Harnessing power from the sun creates most if not all of the energy necessary for normal life in a home. Any additional power can be drawn from the energy source you are currently using. The monthly energy bill through this provider will be significantly reduced. Any energy that your solar panels create in excess of the amount used can even be sold back to that secondary energy provider. You may end up with a $0 balance at the end of the month!

Thirdly, solar panels have virtually no maintenance costs. Other energy sources tend to have problems from time to time with outages and downed power lines. Solar panels do not tend to experience these problems. All that is required for yearly maintenance is a semi-annual cleaning. You can also defer any repair costs by purchasing appliance insurance; many policies now cover solar panels.

Cons

The up-front cost of having solar panels installed in a home is high enough to deter most people from switching to solar energy. This is becoming less and less of a problem with government incentive programs to reduce the cost, but the cost is still pretty huge. Government incentives usually work on rebates, so you are still left with the total upfront cost until you receive the rebate at a later date. Ultimately, the savings on energy is said to justify the initial cost of installation; this will probably continue to prove itself as energy costs continue to soar.

A lack of sunlight during bad weather and during the night means that solar energy is not available 24 hours a day. Places that famously experience bad weather year-round and long periods of darkness like Seattle and Alaska are not ideal places for complete reliance on solar energy. During these times, energy in the home switches back to your standard energy source. However, as previously stated, you can sell your solar energy back to the utility company to off-set any balance incurred during times of darkness. Technology is being developed to overcome this hurdle, but right now solar energy is not an option for everyone.

What This Means For You

Solar energy currently has many advantages for those it is available to. There are many people who even make money through the government by living green; one man even wrote a book about his low cost-of-living expenses. Government incentives can take you a long way toward installing solar panels. But the truth of it is that it’s not ideal for everyone at this stage. Consider the weather and access to sunlight where you live. Look into government programs to see if incentives are offered in your area.

How to Brighten Up and Green a Small Space

A growing number of people prefer to live in compact homes today. For them, smaller homes mean less maintenance and easy living.

Some people, however, find it a challenge to make their small spaces look bigger and brighter. There are certain tricks to do this and all it takes is a little creativity.

small space that look bigger

Get multi-functional furniture

When looking for furniture to buy, choose those that has various functions. For instance, you can get a table that can also store your things or a sofa that can turn into a bed at night.

For storage purposes, ottomans, coffee tables and sofa tables are recommended. These furniture can be used to keep magazines, blankets, gadgets and even toys and can ensure a clutter-free home. Read the rest of this entry »

Easy Home Resource Conservation

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“Greening up” your home is a two-prong approach: It’s partly conserving natural resources (like water) and partly helping homeowners save money. Of all the natural resources, water is perhaps the most over-used. You leave the water on while brushing your teeth, haven’t mastered the art of perfectly packing a dishwasher, and maybe you indulge in a few too many long hot showers than is really necessary. Luckily for the sustainably-minded homeowner, water conservation is actually much easier than you think.

Consider a water-powered sump pump as an easy and reliable way to backup your plumbing system. There’s zero motor or battery and it’s fully automated. In other words, it pumps when necessary and doesn’t waste a single iota of energy, nor does it produce any toxic side effects (which isn’t the case with battery-operated sump pumps). Try out these tips for water and energy conservation around your home, whether it’s time to replace that sump pump or you just want to optimize your daily efforts for Mother Nature. Read the rest of this entry »

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