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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

 

Should I Use Rechargeable Batteries?

September 19th, 2013 | Posted by EnergyEarth in Green Tips - (0 Comments)

We’ve all asked ourselves this question at one time or another. But do you know the answer? Let’s take a closer look at rechargeable batteries versus standard alkaline batteries to see just how they measure up.

How are they different from regular alkaline batteries? How do they work?

A rechargeable battery is a battery that can be recharged and used many times. It is also known as a storage battery, as it has the ability to accumulate and store energy. Rechargeable batteries come in many sizes and types. NiMH is a common type, so we’ll take a look at how they work specifically.

Rechargeable nickel-metal hydride batteries, or NiMH batteries, work in very much the same way its more common disposable counterpart does. However, NiMH batteries use a combination of nickel oxyhydroxide positive electrodes (NiOOH) and hydrogen-absorbing negative electrodes instead of cadmium or other, more harmful materials. A NiMH battery can have 2-3 times the capacity of cheaper batteries of the same capacity.

Should I Use Rechargeable Batteries? {The Dirt on Green}

Where do my disposable batteries go and are they harmful to the environment?

Unfortunately, the jury is out on this one. Unless you live in California (where recycling of all types of batteries is required due to the potential toxicity of their components), they probably end up in the landfill. If they do get recycled, they will, in all likelihood, get turned into rebar or angle iron.

Are rechargeable batteries really cost effective?

According to one journalist, after just a few charges the rechargeable batteries will pay for themselves! That’s quite a bit of savings – as much as $100 or more each year depending on how many batteries you typically use. If you’ve got kids, digital cameras or a myriad of other things – you probably use a lot.

So where do I get good quality rechargeable batteries?

At EnergyEarth, we have your rechargeable battery needs covered. Just a few clicks and you’ll be well on your way to saving money and energy for years to come.

—The EnergyEarth Team

© 2013 Energy Earth LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Sources:

http://humantouchofchemistry.com/how-do-rechargeable-batteries-work.htm

http://www.opb.org/news/blog/ecotrope/what-happens-to-recycled-batteries/

Don’t throw away those old, holey tshirts, jeans and sweaters – turn them into something new and useful! Upcycling old clothes saves money and helps the environment. What more reason do you need? Check out seven of our favorite DIYs below!

7 Ways to Repurpose Old Clothes - Tshirt Produce Bags {The Dirt on Green}

Easy Tshirt Produce Bag – Delia Creates

Everybody buys groceries. Make the trip a little greener with these easy, almost no-sew produce bags upcycled from old tshirts! You could even color-code them for the specific loads you intend to carry in them or grab a little fabric paint to spruce them up even more.

7 Ways to Repurpose Old Clothes - Boot Wallet {The Dirt on Green}

Old Cowboy Boot Wallet – Poppytalk

Even if the soles of your beloved leather boots and shoes have worn out, they can have new life! These easy, step-by-step photo instructions show how to turn otherwise useless old leather goods into a beautiful new wallet! You’ll even be able to pad it a little more with your extra savings.

7 Ways to Repurpose Old Clothes - Memory Quilt {The Dirt on Green}

Old Clothes Memory Quilt – Lil Blue Boo

Turn your beloved dresses or your kids’ too small clothes into a beautiful, new blanket full of memories from your family’s best days. You can even back it with an old blanket or sheet instead of buying new fabric. Make more memories with your newly made treasure!

7 Ways to Repurpose Old Clothes - Sweater Stockings {The Dirt on Green}

Christmas Stockings Made from Sweaters – Imperfect Homemaking

Good Christmas stockings can be hard to find. Turn a cozy old sweater into a truly personalized Christmas stocking in no time with this easy, DIY pattern for everyone from the sewing novice to the professional stitcher.

7 Ways to Repurpose Old Clothes - Sweater Mittens {The Dirt on Green}

Sew Your Own Sweater Mittens – A Beautiful Mess

Accidentally shrink your favorite sweater in the dryer? Instead of throwing it out, keep your fingers warm and cozy this winter without spending a dime with these upcycled mittens! A few simple snips and stitches will turn even your worst laundry mistake into something fun and useful again.

7 Ways to Repurpose Old Clothes - Tshirt Romper {The Dirt on Green}

Tshirt Baby Romper – The Seamery

Turn unwanted knit shirts into fun, personalized baby rompers for your baby or as a present for a baby shower. Turn too big hand-me-downs into something useful while helping the environment and saving money. Choose fun snaps on the shoulders or add a little extra stitching in a contrast color for a personalized touch.

7 Ways to Repurpose Old Clothes - Tshirt Headband {The Dirt on Green}

Braided 5 Strand Tshirt Headband – Make It & Love It

Keep yours and your little ones’ hair in check with this fun, money saving tshirt upcycle. A pair of scissors, a needle and thread, and a few extra minutes and you’ll have a whole new creation from an old, holey or stretched out tee! Staying green and looking good has never been so easy.

—The EnergyEarth Team

© 2013 Energy Earth LLC. All Rights Reserved.

How Does a Dimmer Switch Work?

September 10th, 2013 | Posted by EnergyEarth in Green Tips - (0 Comments)

Good lighting in your home is one of the most important customizations you can make. The light levels in your home have a huge effect on how you and your family feel and what tasks you can and cannot do. Every room in your home has multiple purposes and these different functions need various amounts of light. You can’t read very easily by a 15 watt incandescent and a romantic dinner isn’t so romantic by the light of a bright spotlight. You can save power by simply using the proper amount of light for the activity!

Enter: the dimmer switch. These money and energy saving accessories enable you to adjust light levels from nearly dark to full brightness with a simple slider or a knob.

How Does a Dimmer Switch Work? {The Dirt on Green}

So how do they work?

Instead of diverting energy from the light bulb into a resistor, modern resistors rapidly shut the light circuit off and on to reduce the total amount of energy flowing through the circuit.

Here’s what your traditional light switch is doing right now: the switching cycle is built around the fluctuation of household alternating current, generally known as AC current. This type of current has a varying voltage polarity — in an undulating sine wave, it fluctuates from a positive voltage to a negative voltage. In other words, the moving charge that makes up AC current is constantly changing direction (60 times a second in the US!).

A modern light dimmer switch breaks up this wave by automatically shutting the circuit off every time the current reverses direction – that is, whenever there is zero voltage running through the circuit. This happens twice per cycle (that’s 120 times a second!). It turns the light circuit back on when the voltage climbs back up to a certain level.

How Does a Dimmer Switch Work? {The Dirt on Green}

If the dimmer is turned to a brighter setting, it will switch on very quickly after cutting off. The circuit is turned on for most of the cycle, so it supplies more energy per second to the light bulb. If the dimmer is set for lower light, it will wait until later in the cycle to turn back on, using less energy and saving your money.

We offer a wide selection of dimmer light switches. Simply find the right dimmer control and the perfect dimmable energy saving bulbs for every room of your home that you want to reduce your energy usage and start saving today!

—The EnergyEarth Team

© 2013 Energy Earth LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Sources:

http://home.howstuffworks.com/dimmer-switch.htm

How do solar lights work? They convert sunlight to energy, store it in a battery and release it at night.

More specifically, outdoor solar lights use standard solar cells in a very straightforward application: solar cell produces varying voltage and current depending on the size of the cell and the amount of light striking the surface. The solar cells are wired directly to the battery through a diode (which prevents the battery’s current from flowing back through the solar cell at night). During the day, the battery charges, reaching maximum charge except on heavily overcast or shorter winter days, and at night the solar cells stop producing power and the photo resistor turns on the LED. Simple as that!

Take Advantage of Free Power with Solar Devices! {The Dirt on Green}

Gama Sonic Solar Spot Light

Why go solar? It’s free light when and where you need it!

Power outages: Storms like Hurricane Sandy can unexpectedly leave you without power. One great way to shed some light is to bring your outdoor lights inside when the power is out!

Security lights may be even more critical during extended periods of power failure. Even if you have evacuated because your power is out, your solar security lights will still illuminate your home and help to keep it safe.

Hands-off: Long lasting solar lights use LED bulbs that last up to 50,000 hours or longer, meaning you won’t need to worry about replacing the bulb. Since it’s not using electricity that you’re paying for, you don’t need to worry about turning off the lights either.

No wires: More options for placement and much easier to install.

Take Advantage of Free Power with Solar Devices! {The Dirt on Green}

Heath/Zenith Solar Security Light

What type is best for you?

–          Ambient — Solar powered lights placed around gardens provide the type of illumination that tastefully emphasizes the presence of flowerbeds and garden paths.

–          Spotlighting —Solar spotlights directs the eye’s attention to a highlight in the garden or the front door. Numerous focal points can create a well-lit and attractive backdrop for parties and entertaining.

–          Functional lighting — Steps, walkways and driveways need to be illuminated for safety after dark. Choose light fixtures that cast their glow downward so that the majority of the light falls on the walkway.

Can these lights last all night?

Yes! The solar lights we offer can illuminate your yard from sunset to sunrise, if needed. Lights have continuous illumination power 2-10 hours and have varying on/off switching methods. Choose lighting with photo sensors or motion sensors for highest level of efficiency!

Take Advantage of Free Power with Solar Devices! {The Dirt on Green}

Brinkmann Sierra Solar Light

5 Tips for Smart and Easy Installation

  1. Decide on the area of your home or yard that receives plenty of sunlight.
  2. Decide on the style of fixture you want to use.
  3. If you need solar lights for a shaded or indoor area, some lights operate on a small system allowing you to install a solar panel on your roof or other sunny area.
  4. For ground lighting, position lights in a line or circle by placing them closer together instead of further apart to create a more effective lighting system.
  5. All of the solar lighting options we offer are easy to install. Simply push them into the ground or attach them to your patio or wall and you’re done!

—The EnergyEarth Team

© 2013 Energy Earth LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Sources:

http://home.howstuffworks.com/solar-light.htm

http://www.backwoodshome.com/articles2/yago141.html

http://energy.gov/energysaver/articles/summer-loving-energy-efficient-outdoor-lighting

http://voices.yahoo.com/basic-solar-landscape-lightingsecrets-professionals-11979997.html

http://www.wikihow.com/Landscape-With-Solar-Lighting  

What is Rope Caulk?

September 3rd, 2013 | Posted by EnergyEarth in Ask the Expert | Green Tips - (0 Comments)

Rope caulk is a putty-like substance that is used primarily for sealing drafts in windows or around door frames. The caulk is sold in long rope-like rolls which can be cut or torn off to the desired length. The caulk is pressed into a gap in the window pane or frame and seals the void, preventing air from passing through and increasing efficiency. Rope caulk is often easier to use than a conventional caulking gun and tube of caulk due to its ability to be pressed into tight spaces where it may be difficult to operate a caulking gun.

What is Rope Caulk? {The Dirt on Green}

Photo courtesy of Flickr user Liz West.

When applying rope caulk to a window or door, clean the surfaces of the window first where the caulking will be applied. A dirty surface can create a poor seal between the caulk and the window pane. Dirt and debris hinder the rope caulking from adhering, and the material may peel off after a short time, meaning the caulking will need to be re-applied to the window. After cleaning the surfaces, allow them to thoroughly dry before the caulk is applied.

What is Rope Caulk? {The Dirt on Green}

An installation trick is to dip the rope caulk into a container of lukewarm water for a few seconds prior to pressing it into place. This creates a more pliable caulk, which is easier to press into small gaps. The caulk should not be left in the water for any prolonged period of time as the water will soon dissolve the caulk and render it useless. When using the water-dip application method, a pair of disposable rubber gloves will keep the sticky caulk from attaching itself to any exposed skin.

What is Rope Caulk? {The Dirt on Green}

Temperature is the key to a successful rope caulk installation. The window should be no colder on its exterior surface than it is on its interior. Applying rope caulk to a window that is cold outside and warm inside will usually result in a failed adhesion of the caulk and an air draft. Rope caulk should be applied in the early fall months in most areas. This will allow the seal to set prior to cold weather setting in.

What is Rope Caulk? {The Dirt on Green}

Available in either grey or brown, rope caulk looks great, is easy to apply and cleans up well with water. The caulking compound creates a durable seal against most types of weather when installed correctly, and will reduce wasted energy from drafty windows and door frames. Before applying, be sure to follow the manufacturer’s directions when applying this product and store or dispose of any unused materials according to the package and local specifications.

—The EnergyEarth Team

© 2013 Energy Earth LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Via WiseGEEK (edited).

Our Top 5 LED Light Bulb Picks

August 29th, 2013 | Posted by EnergyEarth in Green Tips - (1 Comments)

Thinking of making the switch to LED light bulbs? Now is a great time! Not only will you save hundreds over the lifetime of these bulbs, you won’t be hassled with frequent burn outs or changing light bulbs. Make your life a little easier and your wallet a little fatter with these great energy efficient lighting choices today!

Our Top 5 LED Light Bulb Picks {The Dirt on Green}

Feit LED 7.5 Watt (40 watt replacement) Dimmable A19 in Warm White (3000 Kelvins)

This dimmable FEIT LED bulb features an A shape and a standard medium base. Replace your 40 watt incandescent light bulb and use just 7.5 watts. Only $9.95 and estimated to save you more than $100 over its 25,000 hour rated lifetime. If you use this bulb for an average of 3 hours every day, this bulb could last over 20 years! And even after 20 years it still has our 4ever Limited Lifetime Warranty. It’s quite the energy efficient steal!

Our Top 5 LED Light Bulb Picks {The Dirt on Green}

Greenlite LED 8 Watt (40 watt replacement) Dimmable A19 in Warm White (3000 Kelvins)

Greenlite’s 8 watt dimmable A19 LED lamp uses approximately 80% less electricity than a traditional 40 watt incandescent light bulb, making it a great replacement. On top of that, its 25,000 hour rated life makes it an ideal solution for hard to reach areas where a medium amount of light is needed and its medium base means it will fit in nearly any of your existing sockets!

Our Top 5 LED Light Bulb Picks {The Dirt on Green}

TCP LED 8 Watt (40 watt replacement) Dimmable A19 in Warm White (2700 Kelvins)

This dimmable TCP LED bulb features a traditional A shape and a universal medium base. Replace your inefficient 40 watt incandescent light bulbs with this 8 watt LED with an outstanding 35,000 hour rated life today for unmistakable savings and convenience!

Our Top 5 LED Light Bulb Picks {The Dirt on Green}

TCP LED 12 Watt (60 watt replacement) A19 in Warm White (2700 Kelvins)

This 12 watt TCP LED bulb features a classic A shape, a medium base and a comfortable, warm white color just like the incandescent light bulbs you’re used to. Makes a great, energy efficient replacement for a 60 watt incandescent light bulb while using just 12 watts and features an exceptional 35,000 hour rated life – that’s 35 times a regular incandescent bulb!

Our Top 5 LED Light Bulb Picks {The Dirt on Green}

TCP LED 14 Watt (85 watt replacement) Dimmable PAR38 in Warm White (2700 Kelvins)

This dimmable PAR38 TCP LED bulb has a medium base, making it perfect for recessed lighting throughout your home or office. Replaces an 85 watt incandescent light bulb while using just 14 watts and features an unmatched 50,000 hour rated life.

Don’t see the bulb you need here? Check out the rest of our wide selection of energy efficient LED lighting!

—The EnergyEarth Team

© 2013 Energy Earth LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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.

BMW's New i8 Hybrid Will be the First Production Car to Use Gorilla Glass {The Dirt on Green}

BMW is going to unveil the i8 plug-in hybrid sports car at the Frankfurt Motor Show next month, but in the meantime the automaker has released the first batch of specs for the i8, the flagship of its new i sub-brand. In addition to featuring a plug-in hybrid powertrain wrapped in a sports car body, the i8 will be the first production vehicle to be equipped with Gorilla’s chemically-hardened glass.

BMW's New i8 Hybrid Will be the First Production Car to Use Gorilla Glass {The Dirt on Green}

Until now, technology for the chemically-hardened glass has been used primarily for smartphones, as it is very strong and scratch-resistant. For the BMW i8, the partition between the passenger compartment and trunk of the BMW i8 consists of 2 layers of chemically hardened glass, each of which is just 0.7 millimeters thick and weighs about 50% less than conventional laminated glass.

BMW's New i8 Hybrid Will be the First Production Car to Use Gorilla Glass {The Dirt on Green}

Thanks to the i8′s carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic passenger cell and the addition of technology like the Gorilla Glass, the BMW i8 weighs less than 3,285 lbs. The BMW i8 is powered by a 231 horsepower turbocharged 1.5L four-cylinder engine that is mated to a 131 horsepower electric motor. The four-cylinder engine powers the rear wheels, while the electric motor sends its power to the front. The i8 can travel up to 22 miles in full electric mode, reaches 0-60 mph in under 4.5 seconds and can be recharged in 1.5 hours using a 220-volt outlet.

BMW's New i8 Hybrid Will be the First Production Car to Use Gorilla Glass {The Dirt on Green}

So, what do you think? Would you buy it?

—The EnergyEarth Team

© 2013 Energy Earth LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Via Inhabitat, photos by BMW.

Knock on Wood – Driftwood Art by Jeffro Uitto {The Dirt on Green}

Knock on Wood – Driftwood Art by Jeffro Uitto {The Dirt on Green}

Knock on Wood – Driftwood Art by Jeffro Uitto {The Dirt on Green}

Knock on Wood – Driftwood Art by Jeffro Uitto {The Dirt on Green}

Knock on Wood – Driftwood Art by Jeffro Uitto {The Dirt on Green}

Knock on Wood – Driftwood Art by Jeffro Uitto {The Dirt on Green}

We think upcycled and recycled art is always awesome, but sometimes it’s truly amazing what can be done with one man’s trash. This is one of those times.

Located on the Washington coast, Jeffro Uitto’s Tokeland, Washington, studio, Knock on Wood is a place where nature’s leftovers are given a grand new life.

Uitto has been creating with wood, his favorite medium, since high school. Most of Uitto’s tools are hand made by the artist himself and are works of art in their own rite. Uitto doesn’t work with the perfectly cut, smooth wood from a lumber mill or a hardware store, though – each piece is found and rescued from the shores of Tokeland, WA, the banks of Smith Creek or the valleys between the Willapa Hills. The varied and unique sticks, slabs and roots are cured and crafted into beautiful works of art.

Every project is given the same meticulous construction, be it a tiny rose bud made from cedar shavings or a imposing, commissioned sculpture. Not everything is built right in the shop – Uitto has often worked on location to build creations in places like Alaska, Hawaii and more.

Undoubtedly, Uitto has a creative fire that burns hot, fueling his brilliant sculptures and figures that is clearly translated to the viewer through his work. For more information about purchasing or commissioning a project, contact the artist directly.

—The EnergyEarth Team

© 2013 Energy Earth LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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