Environment Affects Our Children

Could our environment be hurting our children? Children are more vulnerable to our environment because they are still growing. Forty years ago, lots of kids rode their bikes to school. These days, children are driven to school in a vehicle that increases pollution in the air. Children need to be our focus. Their bodies are…

Could our environment be hurting our children? Children are more vulnerable to our environment because they are still growing. Forty years ago, lots of kids rode their bikes to school. These days, children are driven to school in a vehicle that increases pollution in the air. Children need to be our focus. Their bodies are still developing. Adults and children interact with the environment in a different way.

What impacts our kids health can be found where they spend the most time which is:

• at school

• the playground

• at home

Children can spend as much as 10 hours a day inside a school building. Is the air in your child's school safe? Poor air quality could trigger breathing problems.

Everyone knows that exhaust fumes from vehicles pollute the air we breathe. When your children play outside, you could be monitoring the air they breathe.

More and more kids stay inside to play video games. Is the air in your home safe for your children? If your children play inside at home, there are some options you can do to help keep the air clean. One is not to smoke – especially in your home. Keep the air in your home as clean as can be. That means getting rid of dust allergens, mold and pet dander. There are several central air filters that are available to eliminate or reduce allergens.

Going solar reduces the emissions which in turn changes our environment. Any change is an improvement, and is a good thing. Making the air cleaner is easier for our children (and us) to breathe.

Electricity is usually created using diesel (which is the cheapest) or coal. We need to reduce the amount of coal we use to produce electricity and use other means. You can use solar or natural gas to generate power. Solar is getting cheaper and more efficient. You can generate more power in less space.

Many people are under the notification that it would take an acre of ground to generate a lot of power. Many roofs average 20 'x 40' or 800 square foot. In 800 square foot, you can get up to 10,000 watts of power. In that situation, the power company has to generate little or no power to you. With a grid tie system, you do not want to generate more than what you need. You need to generate exactly what you need. You only get a credit back from the power company, not cash or a refund. People are under the impression that you get monies back, and that's not true. You only get credit. And if you do not use the credits after a time, you can lose them, depending upon where you live. If you do not use them, you lose them!

For our environment and the sake of future generations, alternative energy needs to be utilized to the fullest. Go solar! How are you helping the environment?

The Power of Going Green

Living green is a conscious choice that you and your family can make. It is not easy to be green in every lifestyle decision, but you can make a significant contribution to helping to protect the environment. Start living as a green family, and you will see that it is possible to feel like you…

Living green is a conscious choice that you and your family can make. It is not easy to be green in every lifestyle decision, but you can make a significant contribution to helping to protect the environment. Start living as a green family, and you will see that it is possible to feel like you are making a real difference in promoting sustainability and environmental protection. These green tips can help you take the first steps toward green living.

Going green is a powerful statement. Your friends and acquaintances will see the lifestyle choices that you make and may question you about them. When you respond that you are trying to live an eco lifestyle in an effort to do your part to protect the earth's resources and to keep your family healthy, the message will sink into some of their minds. This encourages them to think about what you said and sometimes implemented some of the green tips you shared.

A sustainable lifestyle is one in which decisions you make in part based on how they will affect your family's health and the environment. When you recycle, for example, you are showing your children that it is a positive action to recycle, and that recycling is not as hard as many people believe. With single stream recycling in many communities, the process is even easier than it was several years ago. Teaching children that a sustainable lifestyle impacts the world beyond the four walls of your home expands their perspectives on the world and encourages them to try to care for the environment and to think less of what is simply convenient.

Even though you may sometimes feel that going green is not something that will make a big difference in the big scheme of saving the earth from pollutants and our consumer-hungry way of life, remember that a change begins with a single thought, action and person . When the thought and action spread to others, the change can be intense.

You can have a green family by taking small steps. Start shopping at a grocery store that offers green products and food grown on local, organic farms. Bring your own bags to the store. You may have your kids decorate inexpensive canvas bags from the hobby store with fabric paint. Buying green products generally does cost more than other, less eco lifestyle friendly products. You can still catch sales and use coupons to offset the extra cost. When you buy one or two green products, you show your support for green living. You may also grow your own garden next spring and eat some of the food that you grow. Another option is to make one of your children's chores to sort the recycling if you do not have single stream recycling or to take out the recycling if you do.

To get your community involved, you may challenge your friends to only use reusable shopping bags for the next month and offer to cook them dinner if they can do it. You may help your neighborhood organize a hard-to-recycle item event where people bring such items to a central location. If the city or someone in the community can offer the use of a truck, you might have a low-fee or free pick up and drop off service for the event as well. You might have a barbeque, games and a band to encourage recyclers to get to know each other. Living green is not difficult to do, but it does require a change of attitude towards an eco lifestyle.

Solar Water Heaters

Solar water heaters can save you a world of troubles. They can also save you a lot of money. The great thing about solar water heating is that they save the environment while benefitting you too. Did you know that a four-person household with an electric water heater needs about 6,400 kilowatt hours of electricity…

Solar water heaters can save you a world of troubles. They can also save you a lot of money. The great thing about solar water heating is that they save the environment while benefitting you too.

Did you know that a four-person household with an electric water heater needs about 6,400 kilowatt hours of electricity per year just to heat the water? That type of electricity is generated by a typical power plant with an efficiency of 30 percent. The average electric water heater creates eight tons of carbon dioxide every year. That is double what a car makes. They pollute unfortunately and they should start to be replaced.

If you have a solar water heater you will be contributing to the earth immensely simply by reducing the amount of carbon dioxide that goes out in to the air. You are going to get a longer repeating heat from your water and it will be all natural so you will not have that high electric bill that you once had. It may not sound appealing to install it but it will be worth it for you in the end.

Solar water heaters are gaining more popularity because of their ability to save. The number of installations is increasing rapidly. They can work in any climate and as long as your home has sufficient access to sunlight you are eligible to upgrade.

They are a financial investment that actually will be able to save you money in the long run. You can save the amount that you have spent on the solar water system in bills in as little as within one year.

Before you install you should know about your zones building codes. The related installation of solar water heaters can exceed the zoning levels so you have to be sure to research. You are going to have larger requirements.

You may think that saving energy is the same thing as saving on water heating costs and saving the environment. They are all separate issues that are all individual benefits of having a solar powered water heater.

The sun's free energy lets you reduce your hot water energy consumption by anywhere between 50 and 90 percent depending on the area you live in. That means it is an unbelievable amount less that you need to produce. This will save you on water heating costs. If your energy usage is reduced you will save on money every day. After a year you will be saving a lot of money. With the way energy costs are increasing then this saving could be even better for you and others in the future. The environment is going to benefit from you saving on your energy costs. The suns energy is natural and free so it does not harm the environment. A family can save three to four tonnes of green house gas emissions compared to a conventional electric water heater. That is the same amount of energy than taking a car off the road.

Solar water heaters will save you and everyone around you. Since it is a growing market you might want to look into getting one soon before the price goes up.

Green Energy: Why Harnessing The Wind May Be A Huge Money Saver For You

If you have not noticed the large turbines on the hillsides, then you may not be aware that the wind has been harnessed as a clean energy source for more than a few decades. With the increased interest and necessity to find alternative energy sources, renewable wind energy is the fastest growing source of power…

If you have not noticed the large turbines on the hillsides, then you may not be aware that the wind has been harnessed as a clean energy source for more than a few decades. With the increased interest and necessity to find alternative energy sources, renewable wind energy is the fastest growing source of power of all the renewable energy technologies. Electricity is created when the wind turns the wind turbines. When the winds are stinger, the turbines turn faster increasing the amount of power that is generated. Areas that are “windy” by nature make a great breeding ground for the wind turbine technology, as it is one of the smartest choices and provides ample power for the homes and businesses that need it.

Areas that are not traditionally known for being “windy” are also taking advantage of this great resource. Having the turbines in place acts as a great supplement to whatever technologies, if any, have already been implemented. The great part is that there are many “do-it-yourself” guides that require very little skills and knowledge and allow anyone the same opportunity to capitalize on this opportunity. People are choosing to empower themselves by building their own wind turbines and benefit from lower electric bills every month.

Here is one of the best secrets, those that live in windy areas are producing more electricity than they can use and selling it back to the electric companies for a profit.

Many are taking this concept and duplicating it by building several wind turbines to increase their benefits. All those “wind farms” are being built to supplement large towns and cities through the world. Now, it does not take a wind farm for a home to benefit, especially smaller wind turbines at that. Many states have offered incentive programs to allow you to sell the excess electricity you generate from your renewable wind energy system right back to the utility companies that sell it to you. The environmental impact is one of the integral reasons to use a renewable wind energy system. Renewable wind energy produces little to no pollution, no harmful greenhouse gases and no methane or carbon dioxide-which contribute to global warming. After the initial investment in a renewable wind energy system, the savings that can be realized are intense.

I would encourage you to learn as much as you can about renewable wind energy. Build your own wind turbines, save thousands of dollars and help the environment. Remember, once the system is set up, you are in a position to get free power from the wind. This is a very good thing.

Green Living – How Solar Panels Work And The Benefits Of Using Them

I was starting at approximately the 50 houses as I was walking up my street in sunny Southern California and it stuck me, “Why would not every house have solar panels? And if they did, we would have an abundance of energy and be free of the tyranny that exists around our dependence of oil.…

I was starting at approximately the 50 houses as I was walking up my street in sunny Southern California and it stuck me, “Why would not every house have solar panels? And if they did, we would have an abundance of energy and be free of the tyranny that exists around our dependence of oil.

Once you understand how solar energy is harnessed, you will find it very easy to see the benefits of green solar energy. Thermal and Light are the two types of green solar energy that exist.

1) Thermal energy is considered “passive”. An example would be capturing solar energy from the materials and design of the building when it was constructed. Specifically, the building would be built to integrate south facing windows with materials that would capture and retain the heat, hence reducing your energy needs because your structure is more efficient. Another example would be using the thermal energy produced by the sun to heat water for solar hot water systems.

2) Light energy is considered “active” and is produced immediately from the rays of the sun. The sun's light and radiation is captured by solar panels to create electricity.

The current motivation and popular reason to use green solar energy today is for saving money. The relatively higher initial costs of these systems generally pay for themselves over a few years.

The newly installed systems provide supplementary electricity and often all of the electricity for your home. Business are taking advantage of this as well.

One of the most cost effective ways to capitalize on these benefits is building your own solar panels. In conjunction with the many government rebate programs, refunds and net metering (where you sell your unused electricity back to the power company) make it very advantageous and directly reduce the cost of implementing a green solar energy system. One of the best advantages is green solar energy systems require little to no maintenance after they are installed.

The real benefit and probably most important of utilizing green solar energy is the significantly reduced impact on the environment. Climate changes have been scientifically linked to the increased storms, polar ice caps melting and other issues caused by global warming. Green energy provides a clean energy alternative as it creates little pollution and reduces our dependence on fossil fuels.

Solar systems can be used by homes and businesses alike. If going solar can not meet all of your energy needs, it can certainly reduce them. Utilizing green solar energy can save you money, but its greatest benefit is to the environment and our future.

Look out for my next article discussing alternative green energy sources including sun, wind and water and how you can save money by harnessing them.

Are You Protecting Your Energy Security?

The term 'Energy Security' is one that is increasingly being heard in the media and in general conversations. But what does it actually mean and it is something that the average homeowner should worry about? In this article i will look at this subject in more detail and begin to answer these questions. What is…

The term 'Energy Security' is one that is increasingly being heard in the media and in general conversations. But what does it actually mean and it is something that the average homeowner should worry about? In this article i will look at this subject in more detail and begin to answer these questions.

What is Energy Security?

There is a direct link between the security of our nation and the availability and source of the energy that we need to keep our society running to the standards that we have all come to expect. If we can not supply all our energy needs internally, or import in from friendly and stable countries then our national security is threatened. Without out sufficient energy to power our way of life, the stability of our society could be threatened. So you see, the stability and security of our energy supply is an important matter.

There is another way to look at energy security, and that is to examine it from an individual level. Taking myself as an example, in years gone by i could be fairly confident that if i powered by life using electricity and oil there was little danger of those sources running out. Because they were so plentiful I could expect affordable and steady prices. Things are not quite the same nowdays. Sure, we can still be pretty certain, at least for the immediate future, we will still be able to get oil and electricity. What we can not be so sure about is that the price will remain at sensible levels.

It is a common feature across the world that energy prices are rising. With stocks of fossil fuels being used up, and much of the remaining supplies being located in some of the less stable parts of the world, energy prices are likely to continue to rise for the rest of this decade.

How can an Individual Protect their Energy Security?

As an individual person there is not much that you can do to change the Government's energy policy, or to bring stability around the world. Yes, you can lobby your elected politicians and protest as and when appropriate. You might make a difference, you might not.

However you can do something about your own energy situation if you start to make greater use of renewable energy sources to power you home. There are many options that you can look into. Most people are familiar with solar power and wind power. Solar Panels and Wind Turbines can be purchased ready-made, or you can build them yourself with a simple DIY manual. However there are additional sources that can also help as part of a co-ordinated system. One of the most practical for the individual householder is the Ground Source Heat Pump (sometimes known as the Geothermal Heat Pump). These clever devices take advantage of the constant temperature of the first 10-15ft of the earth's surface and once installed can significantly reduce energy usage.

Implementing some of these renewable energy sources into your home will help with the Energy Security situation in two ways. First you will be protecting yourself from rising energy prices. Secondly you will be helping our nation slowly move toward the day when all our energy can be produced from within our borders from our own natural and renewable resources.

What Are My Recycling Options?

Do you have an old computer that is just collecting dust in your closet? Do you collect dead batteries in a jar because you feel guilty about throwing them away? You might want to check into electronic recycling. For years people have either thrown their electronics away in the trash or storing them away in…

Do you have an old computer that is just collecting dust in your closet? Do you collect dead batteries in a jar because you feel guilty about throwing them away? You might want to check into electronic recycling.

For years people have either thrown their electronics away in the trash or storing them away in the abyss of the bedroom closet never to be seen again. To get rid of your hoarding problem, recycling companies have developed a system where they can come and pick up your unwanted items and haul them away to their recycling facility. You just call them and tell them a time and place and they will come get it.

The size of the junk is not going to matter to them. They have the necessary equipment to come and take away any items that you want out of your way. Giant flat screen televisions, lap tops, batteries and everything in between are all worthy of calling to set up an appointment.

Recycling this way may be a little bit more annoying than just dumping it in the trash, but it is a way safer way to get rid of it because you are not putting your trash men in a dangerous position. Recycling companies prepare for the work they are going to be doing. You may not realize it but trash companies are not readily prepared with the same equipment that an ordered recycling company is. Also, the recycling companies can go as far as to come in to your house to pick up the junk so you do not have to lift a finger.

Rathermore, they actually DO something with the recycle items that they pick up. They take them to their factory and separate them into the necessary categories: plastic, metals, glass and other areas of separation.

The environment is becoming more and more fragile so it is important to do your part to take care of it properly. The conservation of our earth is becoming less and less important to most people. That's why the people who care have to try and spread the action.

Recycling companies have focused making a company around helping others. They do as much as they can to get recycling out of your hair so you do not have to deal with it and get the environment back up to where it needs to be. All that extra pollution is just a phone call away from being reduced and hopefully one day eliminated.

What Are The Benefits Of Recycling Electronics?

Do you have a lot of junk in your house that you need to get rid of? Is it obnoxiously heavy? There are recycling companies that not only recycle to make the world a better place, but they also come right to your house and do all the heavy lifting for you so you will…

Do you have a lot of junk in your house that you need to get rid of? Is it obnoxiously heavy? There are recycling companies that not only recycle to make the world a better place, but they also come right to your house and do all the heavy lifting for you so you will not have to lift a finger.

Getting rid of items in your house through recycling rather than throwing it away is not only going to benefit you but it is going to benefit the environment. Recycling companies give you the option to get rid of your large items of garbage with a simple phone call and appointment. The company will set a time and day with you and send a truck and special equipment to come and pick up that old dust collecting refrigerator and haul it away right from the interior of your home.

You can even find a company that can do same day pick-ups. Whether you have an old washer and dryer, a room just full of junk or completely a small computer monitor they will be there. Every item that can contribute is a help no matter the size of the items or the entire haul. There is no job too big or too small for these recycling companies to come do a pickup. Whatever they can do to collect reusable materials and contribute to save the environment is their main goal.

The workers are trained professionals. You will not have to worry about having unsafe people entering your home because recycling facilities do background checks on all of their employees before hiring them. They understand that the customer comes first so the company is completely geared toward you.

Recycling companies give you the option to open up new doors in your home. You will have the option to use that extra space for something even better. If you have an entire room of junk, you can now use that newly cleared out room to make an office or a play room for your kids. Have you always wanted an extra guest room? Maybe you want to clear out your garage to make a place to put your car in the winter. The possibilities are endless with all the extra space you could have.

Look for a company in your area to help you with your unwanted items. Remember that just one cell phone being recycled can go a long way if everyone pitches in together.

Why Should I Recycle My Electronics?

Well of COURSE recycling is a better option to throwing something in a landfill! Of course if you can help it, you should not create more waste in this world than there already is! But did you know that you are supporting yourself too? Recycling companies are better than your local waste management because they…

Well of COURSE recycling is a better option to throwing something in a landfill! Of course if you can help it, you should not create more waste in this world than there already is! But did you know that you are supporting yourself too?

Recycling companies are better than your local waste management because they will do things for you like go into your house and grab whatever electronics you have without you having to actually do anything. You just point to where you want them to go and they will go get it for you. Your old dishwasher will be gone all in one afternoon. That 2001 CD player that does not work anymore will be taken apart and put to good use.

Did you know that the pollution rate grows 5 percent every year from trashed electronics? That's right. If everyone thread ONE lap top away the world would already be in that much better shape. The fish and plants are all dying from the chromium, mercury, copper and lead poisoning that is running into the soil and into the drinking water in surrounding areas of landfills. Everything is going to be unlivable within our lifetime if we do not start taking action against that now.

There are plants where the recycling companies take apart your electronics and they separate all the different metals and plastics. Did you know that recycling one plastic bottle saves between 100 to 1000 yrs in the landfill? Did you know that one bottle can save the environment from the emissions in producing new bottles and the oil that was used to make that one bottle? Imagine How much you could save with even just one lap top or even a cell phone.

When you do not recycle it is costing the earth that much more power and that much more resources. You can even MAKE things out of trash if or not it is electronic. Cardboard tubes can be used for mounting extension cords and Christmas lights to prevent tangling for example.

If you're going to throw something away, think about it first. Is it really not worth the extra five minutes of your time to make a phone call or get a separation recycling bin? When you are recycling you are making more of a difference than you could ever even realize; even if it is your one napkin or a bottle cap. About sixty percent of our garbage today could have been recycled but instead it is thrown into a landfill destroying the earth.

Copper Recycling Nets Quick Cash for All

As the nationwide recession continues to put the squeeze on your brain and your wallet, you may find yourself looking around your house with the old “yard sale stare.” “I could probably get a buck-fifty for that old lamp,” or, “when was the last time I even plugged in that sewing machine?” While the re-selling…

As the nationwide recession continues to put the squeeze on your brain and your wallet, you may find yourself looking around your house with the old “yard sale stare.” “I could probably get a buck-fifty for that old lamp,” or, “when was the last time I even plugged in that sewing machine?” While the re-selling and reuse of the retired odds and ends collecting dust in your house can breathe a little wiggle room into your budget, you may want to give some consideration to the retired odds and ends collecting rust in your garage.

Many of the unsellable items that will wind up being boxed for another yard sale five years down the road, where it still might wind up taking up space in your house, contain components that can be converted into some quick cash at a recycling plant. Scrap recyclers are always on the hunt for some precious pieces of aluminum, brass, copper, and steel that can be melted down and turned back out into the market as new products. Maybe you will not wind up with the quarter you were asking for your busted blender, but you can turn the metal into some quick change, get rid of a cumbersome nuisance around the house, and walk away knowing that you're helping combat the growing perception that everything is disposable. Copper especially has been viewed more and more as a precious commodity, its price rising over $ 1.50 / lb. since.

This may sound a little trifling or tiresome-maybe you'd rather just throw out these items, even if they do have a few cents hidden inside of them. But if it's such a pain in the neck to do all this work, why are copper-rich appliances such as air conditioners being targeted by the poster-children for the quick buck? Thieves, wise to the easy and lucrative nature of recycling copper components at a plant, have begun searching out these commodities, destroying private property to get to them. The damage they cause is often much higher in cost than the components they steal, so do not go ripping open easily salvageable appliances with dreams of swimming in money off of the proceeds from its copper wiring, just be aware the next time you're locking up your valuables for the night that you may be missing something.

If thieves were looking for a fair work to payment ratio, they would likely go get a job like the rest of us; instead they are looking for the smallest amount of work with the highest monetary yield they can, and one activity they have rated as such is the recycling of these materials. If this is easy enough for someone like a thief who trades in easy money, you're only cheating yourself by not jumping on this possibility. Look on the web for some unused things you have-you may be surprised at what might hold some material that could easily be turned into some quick cash through scrap recycling.

Share With Your Kids the Value of Eco-Awareness Through Eco-Friendly Family Activities

There has never been a time when awareness of environmental sustainability was so vitally necessary than at the present. This awareness has spawned the world over the past 10 years to go eco friendly or organic. Corporate citizens are now becoming conscious of their social responsibility to help the environment. The proliferation of eco-friendly products…

There has never been a time when awareness of environmental sustainability was so vitally necessary than at the present. This awareness has spawned the world over the past 10 years to go eco friendly or organic. Corporate citizens are now becoming conscious of their social responsibility to help the environment. The proliferation of eco-friendly products and organic lifestyle habits from medicines, cosmetics, food and even kids' toys, books, and other novelty items have been steadily and consistently growing within the past few years. In an effort to do their part and reduce their carbon footprint, most people are really leaning towards the idea of ​​eco friendly and organic living.

If you are one of those people who wants to introduce your family to the importance of environmental awareness and organic living but do not know where to start then here is an idea that you can start with: introduce them to fun environmentally enhancing games or gadgets .

One of the best ways to incorporate environmental awareness and eco friendly living to your family in a fun and enjoyable manner is by doing eco-friendly activities. There are so many gadgets and kits nowdays that teach your kids how to conserve renewable energies and preserve the environment with simple activities like reduction of garbage, and recycling and use of recycled materials. You can make a game of collecting plastic bottles and reward the person with the highest number of collected plastic bottles. You can also look for games that will teach them to understand healthy living by eating organic vegetables, fruits, and other healthy food. In addition, you can also have bonding sessions with your kids like Art and Gardening, or even experiment with cool techie gadgets like the World's Small Solar Car and the Solar Powered Flower Plant, or exploring the concept of hydroponics with the simple application of Hydroponic Crystal Magic Soil.

There are all kinds of game cards, board games, and other family fun time games on the market that will help your family understand the importance of being eco-friendly and at the same time, help you bond together. Planning eco-friendly family games is not only innovative, it is also a good diversion to keep your family healthy and environmentally aware.

Remember, Eco friendly does not have to be expensive or boring. There are plenty of resources available to help you and your family develop organic and eco friendly habits. Every major change starts with small steps.

What Is Green?

By now, we all have read stacks of environmental articles, received plenty of earth friendly newsletters, joined social green networks, been to numerous gatherings and discussions on green awareness and environmental care. We are informed, we are aware – but how green are we really? What makes us green? Green is a very wide term…

By now, we all have read stacks of environmental articles, received plenty of earth friendly newsletters, joined social green networks, been to numerous gatherings and discussions on green awareness and environmental care. We are informed, we are aware – but how green are we really?

What makes us green? Green is a very wide term and when we look at dictionaries, all we find are explanations relating to the color green or green foliage. In environmental terms there is no clear definition and the term can be used widly. In household terms, however, we could assume that a house is only termed green when it runs on a system that has as small an ecological footprint as possible. This includes minimal impact upstream (before resources enter a home) and downstream (after a resource has left a home). Minimal impact on our environment in all household actions can be achieved through numerous things such as renewable energy and conscious shopping; the main one however is efficiency.

Efficiency is the production of a desired effect with a minimum amount of effort pollution or waste, it is using less to achieve the same result. When “greenness” is being stripped to its core, it means elimination of squandering wasteage: Less water, less electricity, less fuel, less non-biodegradable stuff, less consumer goods, less rubbish.

But being green means not that we work in a barely lit room, that we shower once a week, that we sit in a cold unheated home … No, it means we do what we normally do but with less resources. In other words we utilize the same amount of light using less electricity, we shower as usual using less water, we enjoy a warm home causing less pollution. Overall this means that we have to be less wasteful in all actions. That's it, no magic or fairy dust, just plain that:
efficiency. It can be achieved through measuring and improving the environmental performance of an entrenched home and is categorized into 4 areas:

• Water: how much water is used for toilets, taps, showerheads, garden irrigation, pools, washing and cleaning, etc
• Energy: how much energy is used by appliances, cooking, hot water, light, heating, air conditioning etc
• Waste: how waste is handled and disposed of
• Detergent and toiletries: how many toxins enter a home, are absorbed or inhaled by living creatures, and left to flow into the environment through the sewerage works.

Once inefficiencies in these areas have been identified, appropriate efficiency measures and mechanisms have to be chosen and implemented, some of these are operational methods others are more advanced technical retrofits. The opportunities to be greener are seemingly endless yet do not always suit every household, budget or circumstances.

So, let's roll up the sleeves and become truly green. Let's reduce our environmental impact. Let's get into our home and look at every single corner, every single device, every single water outlet, every single bottle of stuff …. Let's look at everything in the home, which could possibly have an ecological impact. Then let's find a solution to lessen our ecological impact on all of the above.

By now, some of you are probably giving off a silent sigh: “oh gosh – not something new I have to learn and do.” Mmh, do you sense a feeling of being overwhelmed? Do you feel modern life is challenging enough? Many of us can barely keep up with our own lives: job, money, home maintenance, shopping, cleaning, washing, kids and schools, sport and health, legal issues and all other problems that might draw on our energy at any given time.

Can we honestly expect people to spend hours researching and investigating green home options? Can we really expect people to take their green awareness and turn it into practical implementation?

1. Yes, because only we are responsible for our own home.
2. Yes, because having no time is no excuse.

Let's look at the first point. The world population growth is expected to reach 7 billion this year. Where on earth do all these people live? In countries? In cities? Along coasts?

If we zoom right in, where do all people live? In houses. Every single person lives in a household. Be that a house, a flat, a hut or a tent, rented or owned, it is neverless a household with human needs for cooking, warmth, water and light, all things that have an environmental impact. Our home belongs to us; it is only us who sleep bath eat cook and wash in it. So, it is only us who can minimize the ecological impact and there before it is only us who are responsible for the household's environmental performance. Everybody can benefit from seeking better efficiency. Regardless of whether you want to make small, incremental improvements, or grandiose, world-shaking changes, you do not need to sacrifice your quality of life. Yet you need become skilled at greening your own personal life-style.

In regard to the time issue, there is a very helpful service called Residential Eco Auditing or Eco Consulting. This service is designed to facilitate green changes in your household and lifestyle, and to advice on how to save water and energy and reduce pollution. A residential eco auditor is trained to thoroughly inspect a home and analyze resource consumption. Then the auditor establishes a detailed strategy and chooses appropriate measures to take this particular home and the occupants' lifestyle to a more efficient level. A theme you see running through residential eco auditing is the idea of ​​payback – how long it takes for an efficiency investment to saving you money. The result is a comprehensive plan to establish long lasting environmental performance which benefits both the home owner and our planet. If you do not have the time to address your house's green issues, if you do not have the know-how, simply call for help. Residential Eco Consultants and Auditors are keen to assist you in making a real and tangible difference on our planet Earth.

I think it is time to walk the talk, together. Either roll up your sleeves and do it yourself- or seek a green service that does it for you: Let's move on from “hugging trees” to implementing our environmental awareness and thenby create green life-styles that are true and evident.

Sunlight: Green, Free and Sustainable!

Using what is natural, healthy and for free should be first aim when we intend to green our life styles. Wind sun and rain water are such resources. These three sustainable assets can be harvested with sometimes small yet clever tricks, at other times with more elaborate and cost measurements. But once implemented they all…

Using what is natural, healthy and for free should be first aim when we intend to green our life styles. Wind sun and rain water are such resources. These three sustainable assets can be harvested with sometimes small yet clever tricks, at other times with more elaborate and cost measurements. But once implemented they all have one thing in common: zero pollution and of course long lasting savings.

Residential lighting is considered an energy hungry area: 6% of world-wide energy consumption is allocated to light private homes. Currently lighting is widely achieved through incandescent and halogen light bulbs which unfortunately convert more than 80% of the energy used into heat rather than light. More stylish households have now introduced and installed CFLs (compact fluorescent light) or newer even more efficient LEDs (light emitting diodes).

For many of us changing light bulbs is the most obvious option to reduce energy demand in terms of lighting, but it is not the only one. Another is to reduce the need for artificial light in the first place, particularly those needs that occurs during the day. How many of us have rooms that never have sufficient daylight and need artificial lighting throughout the day? How often do we switch on an extra light source above our working area even at midday? In my experience there is always a way to reduce or even eliminate this energy demand during daytime hours before all else. Doing so can generate real savings that often last forever with practice zero pollution to our environment. When we begin to green our lighting needs during the day, we have to work with the most powerful source of light we know: our sun. In this article I would like to elaborate on different ways to eliminate daytime use of man-made luminaries by letting in the sunshine.

In my work as an eco auditor I look at the lighting performance of every room. I examine the needs of the home owner in this particular room and establish how natural daylight can be harvested to suit these needs. In this article I would like to share the most common options with you:

Before I go on, I would like to remind you about my previous article “Keeping warm in Winter”. In this article I have talked about about the relationship between heating a home and sun radiation coming through windows. I would like to repeat that whenever we think of sunlight entering rooms, we also have to consider heat gain or heat loss through the very same window. Balancing warmth and insulation with daylight harvesting is important. All in all flexibility is the key and applies to most options below.

More windows
Adding windows is probably the step that comes to mind first. It sounds really simple and often is, yet may have reasonable costs. Larger or just more windows have a great effect. This is best done in a way that the new window only allows daylight rather than direct sunshine to penetrate the room. Heat build up in summer is so avoided.

Indoor Windows
Letting daylight in is not limited to windows through outside walls. Even inside windows leading from a lighter to a darker room can consider decrease the demand for artificial lighting. For privacy reasons these windows can either be frosted or positioned above eye height, and double glazed for sound protection.

Windowed doors
The same principle as for indoor windows applications here. Why not change an existing door to a windowed door creating about 1m2 of natural daylight penetration? Even windowed entrance doors leading to otherwise dimen entry areas, yield a great deal of daylight and are often quite economic to convert.

Skylights
Skylights come in many forms suiting many different requirements and budgets. The best of course would be a skylight that can be opened easily to release any heat build up through increased radiation.

Solar tubes
Bathrooms, pantries and passes sometimes have no or only insufficient windows. South facing rooms often have windows but seldom receive light light through them to suit work requirements. These rooms tend to be dark and dim. Installing an extra window may not be an option. If these rooms are nested under attics, skylights are no option either, but solar tubes are. A solar tube's natural lighting system captures the sun's light with a solar reflector inside an acrylic dome. The light is directed down a highly mirrored aluminum tubing system to a diffuser in the ceiling flooding this part of a home with an even spread of energy saving natural light.

Flexible curtains or frosted glass
Residential areas are habitually densely populated. For privacy reasons many a window has a permanent curtain drawn to ensure privacy from neighbors. Sometimes this “curtain” is opaque or just a cloth or a kikoi which can not easily be opened and closed. This means it is closed most of the time and occupants tend to supplement the room with artificial light measures during the day. Frosting these windows makes a lot of sense as no matter what the situation is, the window will never be transparent. Frosted foils and frosting sprays can be bought at any hardware store. Alternatively, a glass specialist will sand-blast existing window panes.

Installing a curtain rail with twin curtains, one with translucent material and the other one with opaque, allows only for flexibility and ease of operation, but offers the added advantage of insulation in winter.

Overgrowth
Very similar to the curtain issue, overgrown windows through buses and trees obstruction daylight from entering rooms. Cutting back overgrowth as much as possible or even removing it entirely, is a great solution for daylight harvesting. Replacing this overgrowth with a deciduous plant is another option and adds the possibility to adapt to seasons: Less light and cool air in summer, more light and warmth in winter.

Layout of furniture
The position of furniture in a room can also play a part in the need for man-made illumination in work areas during daylight hours. If a desk or workbench was located in front or close to the window, the need to switch on energy hungry light bulbs can be minimized if not eliminated.

Color:
Color is known to either reflect light or swallow light, ie light colors as the name suggest more light than dark colors. This means that both natural and artificial light sources are either supported or hindered by the color of the floor, walls or even furniture. For instance, changing the wall color from a darker to a very light color such as beige or white has a significant effect. Now the usual daylight has a chance to generate a good and workable lighting level.

Mirrors:
In the same line as the color on our walls a mirror not only reflects light, but even redirects a substantial amount of light. A strategically placed mirror can reflect daylight into a darker corner of a room or passage.

So, from now on your home should be able to let the sunshine in! After that the lone issue is that daylight – as the name suggests – is available during daytime only. When there is no more daylight, different measures will apply. Hopefully we'll have another chance to talk about those energy saving methods sometime in the future.

Keep Warm in Winter

Natural medicine, vitamins and nutrition are just one of the factors to keep a flu or a cold away. Another way is the old housewife's order to keep warm and it has proved its merit over the centuries. Keeping warm with clothes is one option, the other is to warm your house. Just how cold…

Natural medicine, vitamins and nutrition are just one of the factors to keep a flu or a cold away. Another way is the old housewife's order to keep warm and it has proved its merit over the centuries.

Keeping warm with clothes is one option, the other is to warm your house. Just how cold and draughty a home can be, we all have felt when we needed warmth the most: the day of an oncoming flu or cold. How can we “avoid that house catches a cold” clocking up not medical bills but electricity bills? Over the last decades, the natural recipe to feel snug and warm during winter in our own four walls has somehow been forgotten.

Most homes favor one season only, and since South Africa is considered a Mediterranean to tropical climate, we can imagine just how many homes are unfit to keep us warm in winter. In fact, since the age of infinite and cheap electricity supply by which heaters and air-conditioners are run, builders and architects alike have often dismissed traditional layouts and insulation secrets for the benefit of good looking designs, large open plan living areas double volume spaces and most of all low building costs.

To avoid catching a cold inside, one has to quite simply keep the cold out of the house and the warmth inside the house. Not really a secret. Once the principles of how hot and cold move have been understood, keeping warm is really simple and saves money.

Natural energy patterns move hot and cold air around in an often unseen fashion. Any home is actually a microclimatic zone and features natural weather patterns through convection, conduction and radiation. These “In-house weather” patterns collorate in many ways.

CONVECTION:
The classic “chimney effect” is hot air rising and cool air falling. We all know that a balloon filled with warm air will rise. Because hot air expands and thus has more volume than cool air, it is lighter and therefore rises up. Since natural laws apply equally anywhere, the chimney effect is no different in a home and is more prominent in a double volume or double store home. Any warm air downstairs will rise either directly towards the ceiling or even stairs leaving the occupants below in the cold despite the hard working heater.

Some of you might now wonder about a real fireplace chimney? You got it: up to 75% of the heat generated by an open fireplace is evenly drawn up through the chimney by the chimney effect. And it gets worse: an oxygen hungry open fire will draw fresh oxygen from where it can, a crack in the window, a gap under the door. The result is a constant supply of fresh cool outside air into your rooms. Snugness and warmth have very little chance to build up. The only place in the whole home that really feels warm is right in front of the fireplace.

The remedy:
• close doors to upstairs unless you want the warm air to flow up to the bedrooms
• reverse ceiling fans to bring warm air down from the ceiling area
• close doors to unused rooms
• close your unused fireplace for there is a perfect “chimney”
• ensure all windows in the home are closed
• cover vents
• insulate windows and doors,
• eliminate cracks and gaps in doors and windows
• close any holes in the ceiling, watch out for unused down-lighter shafts.
• Close up open keyholes

CONDUCTION:
In scientific terms construction is the transfer of thermal energy between neighboring moles in a substance due to temperature gradient. It always takes place from a region of higher temperature to a region of lower temperature, and acts to equalize temperature differences. In home terms, warmth that builds up just below our ceilings, because of the chimney effect, then then move through the ceiling boards to equalize with the colder temperature that sits in the attic. How quickly the warmth will get through depends on the resistance of the material, the so called R-value. Like our bodies which need flees and thick warm cotton jumpers, our homes need insulation, too, to increase the R-value of the materials that separate cold from warm, because warmth will always try its best to escape to colder regions.

The remedy:
• Ensure there is plenty of insulation above all ceiling boards, the thicker and fluffier the better
• Close curtains on windows and glass doors
Close French or American shutters outside your windows
• Plaster walls
• Have double glazing

RADIATION:
Radiation is when a hot object emits electromagnetic waves. These short waves deposit their energy by heating materials which in turn then emit the energy as long waves in form of heat. The largest and most effective radiator we know is the sun. Quite different from many other countries, winter sun here in South Africa is not only a common sight but also a relatively long one: our shortest day is 10hrs long.

Have you noticed that your usually super hot car in summer is now just so snug and warm in winter? The heat building up in your car is classically called the greenhouse effect, and why not harvest it in one's home, too? All we need to do is capture the warmth that the sun shining on our floors and furniture has caused and enjoy the warmth these materials give to the air in our home. Ever heard of a winter garden? On a cold but sunny day, a well constructed winter garden with open doors into the rest of the home can act as a great source of warmth for the whole house. But of course, not only a winter garden can help here, but any closed window facing the sun.

The remedy:
• Let the sunshine in!
• Open curtains and blinds, but not windows
• Cut back trees which cast shadows on northern windows
• Rather have deciduous trees near your house and windows than evergreens
• Have a well insulated winter garden or a conservatory
• And last but not least: sit by the window in the sun.

So now you know. These three natural forces work hand in hand with any artificial heating method, such as wall panels, under-floor heating, fan heaters etc. In fact they make your heating system more effective and therefore more environmentally friendly by maintaining the warmth where you want it. Well managed together they are certain to keep any cold at bay and save you not only on utility bills but probably on medical bills as well. Remember, if you give warmth the chance to move out, your cold will move in!

What Are The Best Types of Insulation for Your Home?

Going green is not only fashionable today but practical as well. Transforming your home into an environmentally friendly lodging place lets you both conserve energy and use energy efficiently while at the same time enjoy the comfortable and relaxing atmosphere of home. One of the few easy transformations you can do to turn your house…

Going green is not only fashionable today but practical as well. Transforming your home into an environmentally friendly lodging place lets you both conserve energy and use energy efficiently while at the same time enjoy the comfortable and relaxing atmosphere of home. One of the few easy transformations you can do to turn your house into an eco-friendly home is the installation of house insulation. By insulating your house, you conserve energy by keeping the home warmer during the cold season without having to use so much electricity. Also, with house insulation installed, you can keep your home cooler during the summer season as well.

There are so many different types of insulation you can choose from. Following is a list of traditional and eco-friendly insulation commonly used in the US.

1. Fiberglass

Fiberglass is the most common of all the types of insulation. This is a pink material that is widely used in many homes in the US. It had once monopolized the house insulation industry in America but today; the disadvantages of installing fiberglass insulation material have been broadcast as it was discovered to be a health hazard. It is still the cheapest on the market but it can cause skin irritation, breathing difficulties and other dangerous health effects to the human body.

2. Recycled Denim

One of the most eco-friendly types of insulation is recycled denim. As the name itself implies, the insulation material is made from old blue jeans. The insulation is a hundred percent recycled from old style jeans, and since that's the case, there are not numerous toxic chemicals imbedded that could cause serious health issues like fiberglass insulation can. It is also safe to install at home without the use of any unusual equipment.

3. Aerogels

Aerogels are an innovative new insulation designed for residential homes. Aerogels are frozen silica smoke made of 99% air. That is indeed quite hard to believe but it's true. This silicon foam is light but very strong. This is also transparent and it allows natural light to come inside the home if the insulation is installed in skylights and windows. At the present, aerogels are considered to be one of the best insulators in the world. If not packaged properly by the manufacturer, aerogels can pose a danger to health.

4. Soy Foam

Soy foam is a form of spray-in insulation foam. It is made from soy bean oil. Although it is a bit expensive, it does its job in insulation quite efficiently. The soy foam is sprayed over the wall with water as its blowing agent. It will fill in the smallest cracks and then solidify in almost an instant. The moisture from the wall will not be trapped but will be evaporated instead. The spraying should be done by a professional.

5. Cellulose

Cellulose is a very cheap form of insulation. It is created from recycled pieces of torn newspapers. It's also easy to install in much the same way as recycled denim. Cellulose has several disadvantages though. Since it is made of paper, the insulation can catch on fire easily and it is also subject to moisture and pest damage.

With so many options to choose from, you're sure to find the type of insulation that works best for your home. Weigh the pros and cons and make your best choice. Your energy bill will be all the lower for it!