Friday, February 27, 2015

Reducing Your Carbon Footprint: Simple Steps You Can Take At Home

With global warming becoming an increasingly large problem, many people have begun to look for different ways of reducing their carbon footprint, and rightly so. If climate change isn't curbed soon, it could bring unwanted consequences. Fortunately, though, there are several easy ways of lessening the greenhouse gases that you emit, or contribute to emitting. Best of all, you can even do these things at home, with little change to your general lifestyle. The most obvious and well known ways of reducing global warming are to switch to clean fuel sources, plant trees, recycle and take alternative means of transportation. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Going Green: 5 Energy Efficient Home Remodeling Ideas

Energy costs continue to rise, pushing homeowners to find energy efficient upgrades. While remodeling or improving a home requires an investment, becoming greener does not have to break the bank. The following five upgrades will make a home more attractive while cutting energy use.

Low-Flow Fixtures
Low-flow toilets, faucets and showerheads can reduce a home's water use by up to 50 percent each year, which can add up to savings of around $150. All are inexpensive, simple to install and are often more attractive than older models. Water-saving fixtures add to a home's value and can bring a higher price if the owner decides to sell.

Programmable Thermostat
Many homeowners are replacing traditional thermostats with programmable models. The precise temperature control reduces unnecessary furnace and air-conditioning cycles, lowering energy use by an average of $200 per year. The programming feature allows for automatic start-up and shutdown of heating or cooling depending on the household schedule.

Roof Replacement
According to
Metal Roof Outlet Inc., an old, worn drafty roof can rob a home of warmth while running up large energy bills. Replacing it will not only make the home more efficient, it will add to its value and curb appeal. A new trend is the "white roof," which deflects heat away from the structure unlike standard dark shingles. This results in reduced cooling costs and a higher level of comfort during the summer months.

Tankless Water Heater
Installing a tankless water heater can produce up to 20 percent savings on a home's water bill while lasting nearly a decade longer than a standard tank model. Since tankless heaters work by making hot water as needed, the supply never runs out in the middle of a shower or dishwasher cycle. Homeowners can also receive a tax rebate for installing a tankless water heater.

Ceiling Fans
Adding ceiling fans throughout a home speeds up air flow and distribution of heat and air-conditioning. During the summer, the fans can make a home feel up to 10 degrees cooler, reducing the number of AC cycles. In the winter months, ceiling fans can be reversed to bring warm air downward, making rooms more comfortable and lowering overall heating costs.

A house is one of the biggest purchases a person will make. The five upgrade ideas above will improve a home's energy efficiency while increasing its value and saving the homeowner money. 

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Disposing of E-Waste: The Best Tips for Recycling your Electronics Safely

As the use of electronic products has grown in the last twenty years, so has the production of electronic waste. In 2012, Americans disposed of approximately 3.4 million tons of e-waste, and about 29% of this amount was recycled. Mobile devices, while making up the smallest share of total e-waste tonnage, are recycled at a rate of only 11%. Although the disposal of e-waste into properly managed landfills is considered safe for human health, the loss of precious metals and other complex components has its own environmental impact. Donating or recycling electronics ensures that valuable components can be reused or repurposed, saving precious natural resources and reducing the pollution and greenhouse gas emissions associated with mining and manufacturing. Use the following tips to help you donate or recycle your old electronics:

photo credit: Flickr Creative Commons via David Ohmer


There is still a market for old TVs, VCRs, DVD players, stereos, cellphones, laptops, and other computer equipment. The Salvation Army, Goodwill, and other nonprofit organizations will often accept many of these items for resale in their thrift stores. Goodwill also sponsors electronic technician training programs that are in need of old items for students to work on. If you do plan to donate a computer or cellphone, be sure to erase all personal data and remove your phone’s SIM card before dropping off the item. There are a number of free and low-cost disk-cleaning software programs available for erasing hard drives. Or you can take the device to a facility that can shred or destroy the hardware (thus destroying any data), according to the professionals of STS Electronic Recycling who specialize in hard drive destruction in Dallas, Texas. Be sure to keep a list of all donated items, as your contribution may be eligible for a tax deduction.

Municipal Recycling

Many towns offer special collections for e-waste, either at designated areas year-round or on several occasions throughout the year. Check with your town or city’s department of public works to find out what options are available for recycling e-waste and other hazardous items.

Private Recycling

A number of electronics retailers, including Best Buy, Target, Dell, and Staples, among others, offer recycling drop-off opportunities at their stores. The EPA offers a convenient drop-down menu with information about these national retailers’ recycling programs.

In addition to retailers, many independent companies offer electronics recycling services. To guarantee that a recycling company is committed to safeguarding your privacy and protecting the environment, be sure to find a recycler who is certified either through the Responsible Recycling Practices (R2) or the e-Stewards standards.

E-recycling and donation saves landfill space and preserves precious resources for future use. With just a few small steps, you can contribute to making the world a cleaner and more connected place.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The 5 Best Ways to Heat Your Home While Being Energy Efficient

Heating and cooling costs keep going up each year. By following a few simple rules, you can minimize your energy costs in the winter and keep your heating systems running smoothly.

Seal Your Windows
Properly sealed windows can mean the difference between a properly heated home and one where heat is literally flying out the window. Energy efficient skylights, windows and doors can help keep heat in your home in the winter and cool air inside during the summer. They can also save you up to $350 a year in heating and cooling costs. Look for the Energy Star and NFRC ratings on all windows and doors to determine if they will save you money in the long run.

Keep Your Furnace Maintained
Keeping your furnace cleaned is the number one way to reduce energy costs and keep your home safe in the winter. Perform monthly maintenance checks on your furnace, and call in a professional like someone from
Nebraska Heating & Air, once a year to make sure your furnace is running at maximum energy capacity. 75 percent of furnace issues throughout the winter are the result of improper maintenance and failing to perform basic inspections.

Replace an Old Wood Stove
Wood stoves can be an inexpensive way to heat a home, but old wood stoves can place an energy burden on any home. Replacing an old wood stove will save more than 50 percent more energy in your home. Wood stoves that were installed or manufactured before 1990 can use over 1/3 the wood as a new one and creates 70% more indoor and outdoor pollution.

Call an Energy Auditor
Hiring a professional energy auditor can be a little pricey (up to $500), but it can save you much more in the long run. An auditor can determine exactly where the heat in your house is escaping and how you can make repairs for as little as possible. You can also go online and complete an energy survey for free.

Insulate Your Home

One of the tests includes a blower door test that detects exactly where heat from your home is escaping. These small spaces can be easily filled with caulk or spray foam and are extremely inexpensive to fill. Adding insulation to the house will also help to keep heat inside during the window. Houses should have more insulation than the building code requires will cost less to heat and cool.

Keeping your
house heated during the winter doesn't mean you have to break the bank. A few simple preventative measures will keep your costs low and your heat on the rise.

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Saturday, February 21, 2015

Get With The Program: Five Industries that Lag Way behind when it comes to Eco-Friendly Practices

By law, companies are requires to submit data to the Environmental Protection Agency that determines how “toxic” the company’s practices are, or their impact on the environment. Scores are calculated using pounds of toxins released, degree of toxicity and degree of public exposure. Although we live in the age of going green, there are still plenty of industries that are lagging way behind when it comes to instituting eco-friendly practices. With this data compiled into a list, we can take a look at the top five offenders who still lag behind, and allow their business practices to harm the environment.

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