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Does Green Need to Cost More?

December 3rd, 2013 | Posted by EnergyEarth in Green Tips - (0 Comments)

Does Green Need to Cost More? {The Dirt on Green}

No, It Doesn’t.

Too often going green is thought of as a choice made by only hippies or the wealthy. The good news is that going green doesn’t mean you have to drive a hybrid car or shop at a fancy health food store in your organic cotton, fair trade Recycle or Bust! t-shirt.

Think for a moment about the original green advocates: your grandparents or great grandparents. Living in the shadow of the Great Depression, they were incredibly frugal – which coincided perfectly with green.  So many of the things they did to save water, electricity and money make great lessons for us today.

Change a Few Habits and Think Long Term

The key is to recycle, reuse, upcycle and reduce waste in every area of your life – not just your plastic bottles and junk mail. There are plenty of free and inexpensive ways to go green all around you.

Does Green Need to Cost More? {The Dirt on Green}

Save: Water

The least expensive way to reduce water consumption is through better habits!

–          Don’t let it run!

–          Stop leaks

–          Don’t over water gardens and lawns

–          Use less hot water

–          Find out where your water comes from

A small investment in a few simple devices will save you in the long term.

–          Faucet aerators

–          Low flow shower heads

–          Rain barrels (see our previous article about how much they can save you!)

Does Green Need to Cost More? {The Dirt on Green}

Save: Electricity

The best way to use less electricity is by changing your habits!

–          Turn off your lights when they’re not in use

–          Turn off devices when not in use

–          Adjust your thermostat

Plus, get a few helpful devices. A small investment upfront will save you in the long term.

–          Motion control light switches

–          Energy efficient lighting

–          Smart power switches

–          Improve insulation

–          Programmable thermostats

Does Green Need to Cost More? {The Dirt on Green}

Save: Upcycling

–          Reuse old clothes

–          Find new purposes for forgotten items

–          Donate unwanted items to a local charity

Does Green Need to Cost More? {The Dirt on Green}

Save: Real Estate

Green building doesn’t need to cost more.

–          Going green actually increases real estate value

–          ENERGY STAR® certification can increase your home’s market value

Does Green Need to Cost More? {The Dirt on Green}

More Ways to Save

–          Grow some of your own food

–          Hang dry your clothes

–          Make your own green cleaning products

–          Drink your tap water instead of buying bottles

–          Increase your fuel efficiency

What’s your favorite way to save? Tell us in the comments!

—The EnergyEarth Team

© 2013 Energy Earth LLC. All Rights Reserved.

We live on the Blue Planet, yet less than 1% of Earth’s water is available for human use. Still, an average American household uses 400 gallons a day, costing well over $300 a year1. The American Waterworks Association blames persistent droughts and infrastructure upgrades for the forecast that our water bills are going to double or triple in the next 25 years.

So where does our water come from? According to the US EPA2, about 90% of Americans use municipal water, with 34% being supplied with treated groundwater and 66% supplied with surface water3. The remaining 10% of Americans get their water from domestic wells.

Ground water is considered by some to be the Nation’s most important natural resource due to our heavy reliance on it for agriculture and municipal water supplies.  Municipally treated groundwater and domestic wells typically use water that is stored in porous geologic formations called aquifers.  When it rains on land, the water that doesn’t stay on the surface soaks into the ground and may be trapped in aquifers.  While some of this important resource (30% of the world’s fresh water!) consists of that recent rainwater, much of it is called ‘fossil water’ and has taken millions of years to accumulate.  Don’t think about aquifers as flowing underground rivers though, since most of them are more like saturated sponges.

Where Household Water Comes From {The Dirt on Green}

Surface Water: Even more of our household water comes from rivers, lakes and reservoirs that hold rainwater and surface runoff until we are ready to use it. The land over which this water drains is called a watershed. These areas of land can encompass many states for large river systems. For instance, the Mississippi River watershed includes parts of 31 states and 2 Canadian provinces. The largest US reservoir, Lake Mead, gathers snow melt from Colorado, Wyoming and Utah and supplies millions of people with water in the southwestern United States.

Where Household Water Comes From {The Dirt on Green}

Water wars rage on! Since miners and settlers rushed to the dry, dry west, water diversion has been a problem. With the continual decline in Colorado River reservoirs and growing populations, it’s not getting any easier. Even in the southeast where rainwater is plentiful, Georgia and Tennessee have been arguing over their border for 200 years. A tiny one-mile strip of land could swing an estimated 1.6 billion gallons of Georgia runoff away from Tennessee and toward thirsty Atlanta4.

Where does my water come from and how do I know if it’s safe? The best way to learn about your drinking water is to contact your local utility. They can tell you about the source of the water and how they treat it.

Unless you are supplied with water by your own well, you should be supplied with a short report (consumer confidence report or drinking water quality report) from your water supplier by July 1st each year. These reports are easy to read, clearly define what they measure, and have a clear “Violation” or “Compliance” column that indicates if your water meets government standards.  Mine looks like this:

Where Household Water Comes From {The Dirt on Green}

Another option is to use this interactive map from the EPA . In all cases, once your supplier draws water from a river, reservoir or groundwater, the water is treated to meet federal and state standards established by the Safe Drinking Water Act.

Should I drink bottled water instead? About half of all bottled water may just come from someone else’s tap! There is no guarantee that it’s cleaner than tap water, and it probably doesn’t taste any different. You’re just paying for the convenience of having it packaged in that tiny bottle. Americans buy billions of gallons of bottled water each year, and according to the American Water Works Association, we are paying about $7.50 per gallon for single servings of bottled water – that’s about 2000 times the cost of tap water and twice that of gasoline!

Where Household Water Comes From {The Dirt on Green}

Do I really need to turn off the water while I brush my teeth? For those of us who live in rainy parts of the country it’s hard to imagine ever running out of water. The US Drought Monitor has an interesting tool where you can see weekly and seasonal drought predictions. I’ll admit I was shocked to see how much of our country is experiencing severe and extreme drought! Many of the states in the colored regions are implementing drought management strategies for agriculture, industry and municipal water systems.

How can I use less water and save money? You may not be surprised that the top three uses of household water in the US are toilets, washing clothes and taking showers – in that order. But did you know that the biggest savings comes from using less hot water?

Where Household Water Comes From {The Dirt on Green}

So what can you do? Americans use more household water flushing toilets than anything else. Newer toilets with a dual flush mode, like those described at EPA Watersense, do the job while allowing you to be a bit more discerning about the size of the flush. Where a new toilet isn’t feasible, you can install a simple and inexpensive toilet tank bag to reduce the size of your flush without sacrificing power.

The second highest water use is for washing clothes. Other than being more selective about what you put in the laundry basket, the best thing to do is to upgrade to an ENERGYSTAR qualified washing machine when it’s time for a new one.

If you really want to see a major savings in your water bill and your electric bill, make the switch to awater saving shower head. Since water heating can comprise more than 15% of your electric bill5, and showering is the third highest water use, you’ll see immediate results!

If you’re really serious about saving money on water and electricity, check out products like faucet aerators, outdoor water saving devices, rain barrels, water heater accessories and much more at www.energyearth.com.

— Dawn Richards of EnergyEarth

© 2013 Energy Earth LLC. All Rights Reserved.

 Sources:

1. http://www.awwa.org/

2. http://water.epa.gov/infrastructure/drinkingwater/pws/index.cfm

3. http://pubs.usgs.gov/circ/1344/pdf/c1344.pdf

4. http://blogs.ajc.com/atlanta-forward/2013/04/18/georgia-tennessee-water-dispute/

5. www.eia.gov

If you’ve been watching the weather reports – or even looking outside your window – you know that rainfall has been very unusual this year. According to the NCDC, “the nationally averaged precipitation total for July was 3.47 inches—0.71 inch above the 20th century average—making it the fifth wettest July on record for the United States. July brought both wet and dry precipitation extremes to the nation. The Northwest and Upper Mississippi River Valley were drier than average, while most other locations had above-average precipitation.”

Depending on where you live, you’ve probably had either too much rain this summer or too little – or a combination of both at different times. If your area has been too wet, you may have experienced flooding in your yard or washout from your gutters. If it’s been too dry, you’ve probably used a lot of water on your yard and garden. Conversely, if you’ve had a lot of rain, you might have flooding and washout. Rainfall patterns can change in just a few days – save that precious water, reduce your utility bills and be prepared all weather conditions by collecting rainfall for future use with a rain barrel.

Free Water: Everyday Benefits of Owning a Rain Barrel {The Dirt on Green}

What is a rain barrel?

Rain barrels are large receptacles placed under gutter downspouts next to a house to collect rain water from the roof and typically hold about 40-90 gallons.

What can I use the water for?

The collected water can be used to water gardens and yards, as well as for other non-potable (non-drinkable) uses such as flushing toilets or watering indoor plants. Harvesting rain water has many benefits including reducing utility water use, saving money on your utility bills, preventing basement flooding and keeping your lawn and garden greener. By collecting rain water, you are also helping to reduce flooding and pollution in local waterways.

How much can I collect?

 Some areas of the US have restrictions on how much water you can collect, so be sure and check with your city or county and state governments for the legislations in your area.

Free Water: Everyday Benefits of Owning a Rain Barrel {The Dirt on Green}

An estimated 9 billion gallons of water are used to water lawns and gardens each day in the US with most it coming from potable sources. Rainwater harvesting is a great way to conserve water, protect the environment, prevent flooding and have a consistent supply of water for outdoor and some indoor use.

Rain barrels are a great way to save money and help the environment – some areas even offer a rebate to reward you for your efforts! Check out our wide selection of rain water storage systems and start saving today!

—The EnergyEarth Team

© 2013 Energy Earth LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Sources:

http://water.rutgers.edu/Stormwater_Management/rainbarrels.html

http://earth911.com/news/2009/07/03/colorado-bill-legalizes-rainwater-harvesting/

http://science.opposingviews.com/budget-rain-barrel-23684.html

 

If you’ve been reading up on sustainability and going green, then you might have heard of Earthship Biotecture, but do you know what it is? While is sounds like something found in the next Star Wars movie, it is actually one of the most versatile and economical building designs around right now.

What in the World is "Earthship Biotecture"? {The Dirt on Green}

New Mexico Global Model Earthship

What in the World is "Earthship Biotecture"? {The Dirt on Green}

Georgia Global Model Earthship

What in the World is "Earthship Biotecture"? {The Dirt on Green}

Interior of an Earthship Villiage Home Under Construction

These “radically sustainable” buildings are made out of recycled materials and are designed to “take care of you, while still being sustainable, affordable, strong and [meet] your local building codes.” In short: totally awesome.

Earthships are designed around six main principles:

  1. Thermal/Solar Heating & Cooling—Earthships maintain comfortable temperatures in any climate. Our planet is a thermally stabilizing mass that delivers temperature without wire or pipes. The sun is a nuclear power plant that also delivers without wires or pipes.
  2. Solar & Wind Electricity—Earthships produce their own electricity with a prepackaged photovoltaic and wind power system. This energy is stored in batteries and supplied to the electrical outlets. Earthships can have multiple automated sources of power, including grid-intertie when needed.
  3. Contained Sewage Treatment—Earthships contain use and reuse all household sewage in indoor and outdoor treatment cells resulting in food production and landscaping with no pollution of aquifers. Toilets flush with greywater that does not smell.
  4. Building with Natural & Recycled Materials—Earthships are comprised of indigenous, sustainable materials occurring naturally in the local area.
  5. Water Harvesting—Earthships catch rain and snow melt and use it four times, but can have city water as backup. Water is heated from the sun, biodiesel and/or natural gas and do not pollute underground water aquifers.
  6. Food Production—Earthship wetlands, the planters that hold hundreds of gallons of water from sinks and the shower are a great place for raising some of the fresh produce!

Based in Taos, New Mexico, the Earthship Biotecture team travels around the world teaching about sustainable living and building Earthships for people for more than 40 years. Right now, the folks at Earthship are raising funds to build a sustainable community center in Malawi, Africa. Pretty cool, huh?

To learn more about Earthship Biotecture, rent one for the night, attend a seminar about sustainable living or simply sign up for their newsletter, visit their website.

—The EnergyEarth Team

© 2013 Energy Earth LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Earthmate’s T2 Spiral CFL is a miniature compact fluorescent lamp equivalent to a 60 watt incandescent bulb while using just 13 watts of electricity. It’s ENERGY STAR® qualified, so you can rest easy knowing that is meets or exceeds the highest level energy efficiency standards.

Product Review – Earthmate™ 13 Watt T2 Spiral Compact Fluorescent Lamp (CFL)

The reduced size allows makes it incredibly versatile. See? This compact little bulb is less than 4” tall – smaller than a Sharpie highlighter. Plus, it’s only $3.95! That’s quite a steal for a bulb that we estimate will save you around $58 during its lifetime. Can’t beat that for value and savings!

Product Review – Earthmate™ 13 Watt T2 Spiral Compact Fluorescent Lamp (CFL)

Because of its size and medium base, this energy saving CFL fits perfectly in pretty much any fixture you currently use a regular incandescent bulb. It’s a super handy bulb to stock up on and have on hand for quick replacements that won’t break the bank.

Product Review – Earthmate™ 13 Watt T2 Spiral Compact Fluorescent Lamp (CFL)

This Earthmate CFL provides comfortable, warm white light just like the incandescent bulbs you’re using now, making the switch effortless. You won’t even notice you switched – except on your electricity bill!

Product Review – Earthmate™ 13 Watt T2 Spiral Compact Fluorescent Lamp (CFL)

Overall, we loved this bulb. It fit anywhere we tried it and the light didn’t hurt our eyes while reading, watching TV or doing any other daily tasks.

Not the right bulb for you? Browse our wide selection and find the energy efficient lighting that’s right for every fixture in your home.

—The EnergyEarth Team

Cherry Tree Branch

Allergy season is upon us. Whether or not it has hit your area yet, one thing is certain: it’s coming, and if you have allergies, it’s coming for you.

Soon, the dreaded yellow particles will be coating every available surface, making it impossible to avoid! Here are some great tips to help you get through allergy season without sneezing from dawn ‘til dusk.

Pollen on Car Roof

1. Take an antihistamine at least 30 minutes before going outside.

2. Minimize outdoor activity when pollen counts are high. Peak pollen times are usually between 10am and 4pm. You can even check out your area’s pollen count for the day and plan accordingly!

3. Keep windows closed and seal any air leaks you may have around windows or doors. You’ll keep pollen out and save on your utility bills!

4. Thoroughly clean you home – you’d be surprised how much pollen and dust can collect on surfaces in no time.

5. Wash bedding regularly.

6. Invest in an energy efficient air purifier to keep your home’s air clean and refreshing.

7. Take a shower before bed – you’ll sleep better without pollen on you!

8. Bathe your pets frequently and keep them off of furniture, if possible. Pollen can cling to your dog or cat’s fur and get tracked indoors.

Tissues and Box

We hope these tips help you and loved ones have a happy and healthy spring season, no matter the pollen count!

—The EnergyEarth Team

© 2013 Energy Earth LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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