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Green Living Ideas provides ideas, tips, and information to help you improve the environmental sustainability of every aspect of your life: home energy, green building and remodeling, cars, food, waste recycling—and everything in between. Green Living Ideas is the most comprehensive green living website ever assembled, with information on how to live greener in over 200 different areas of life! We’ve assembled the world’s top green living authors and experts to bring you the latest info on green and sustainable living.
Updated: 3 hours 28 min ago

How To Insulate Your Hot Water Pipes

Mon, 2014-09-15 06:40

One of the best ways to save money and energy around your home is to insulate your hot water pipes. It will allow you to lower the temperature on your hot water tank by 2°F–4°F, saving you a lot of energy and money. Luckily, this home improvement project is inexpensive and easy to do. Just follow these easy steps to start saving money and energy today. 

Things you’ll need for the job:

  • Pipe Insulation (both 3/4″ and 1/2″)
  • Measuring Tape
  • Sharpie
  • Silver Tape or Zip Ties
  • Scissors or Box Cutter
  • Dust Mask
  • Gloves
  • Protective Eye Wear
  • Rag
Instructions: how to insulate your hot water pipes

Piping: It’s important to note that when you’re insulating the pipes leading to and from your hot water tank that the insulation shouldn’t come flush with the tank. Instead, you should leave roughly a foot of space between where the pipes connect to the tank and the start of the insulation. Having them flush with each other can create a potential fire hazard.

1. Turn off the power to the hot water tank. Simply open up your home’s circuit breaker and find the switch that controls the power to the hot water tank. Once you’ve found it, turn it to the off position.

2. Measure the various lengths of piping insulation needed. Take your tape measure and measure all the varying lengths of pipe you’ll be insulating. While you’re doing this be sure to take note of any angles you’ll need to cut as well as the diameter of the pipes (either 3/4″ or 1/2″). Also, remember the classic adage: measure twice, cut once.

3. Cut the insulation to the various lengths needed. Now that you’ve measured all the necessary lengths of insulation you’ll need, take your box cutter, utility knife, or scissors and cut the necessary lengths. Again, be sure to account for any angles and connections in the piping and leave your cuts a little long to start off.

4. Place insulation on pipes. Pick a starting point along the piping and begin putting the pieces of insulation in place. As you’re doing this you’ll need to trim some of the pieces to ensure a snug fit. Also, be sure to double check that you’re using the proper sized insulation. Leaving space between the pipe and insulation will make the insulation less effective.

 

5. Remove the adhesive tape from the seam of the insulation. One by one, remove the pieces of insulation from the pipes and take off the adhesive tape from the seam. Now, simply put the piece of insulation back in place around the desired pipe and press the seam together. This will help to ensure you have a good seal around the pipes.

6. Use the silver tape to secure the insulation in place. Now, take your silver tape and place a strip around the insulation in roughly one foot intervals. Also, be sure to put a strip around any connections between pipes. Doing so will help to ensure that your insulation stays in place and that you have a good seal.

7. Turn the power to the hot water tank back on. Now that all of your pieces of insulation are in place and secure, simply walk over to your home’s circuit breaker and turn the power to the hot water tank back on.

Check out this video to give yourself a better idea of how your pipes should look when you’re done:

If you’re looking for more ways to save energy and money around your home, check out our green home improvement projects: Green Living Ideas, after all, is a top 20 home improvement website!

Photo courtesy of Dex Knows.

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Categories: Green Living

Clean Technologies For Cooling And Heating Your Home

Mon, 2014-09-15 05:29

Today there are all sorts of different systems you can have installed in order to green your home and make it more energy and water efficient, but which ones give you the best bang for your buck? After all, your home is a serious financial investment and making it as energy and water efficient as possible could mean a lower overall cost of ownership and a higher resale value down the road. So to help you get the best value when it comes to greening your home, we’ve come up with the following list of clean technologies for heating and cooling your home:

1. Passive Solar Home Designs

One of, if not the, best ways to ensure that your home is energy and water efficient is through the use of a passive solar home design. These designs will orient and lay out the floor plan of your home in such a way that you can use the angle of the sun to both cool your home in the summer, and heat it during the winter. To get a better idea of how this works, check out this diagram and video on how passive solar heating and cooling works:

 

Note: This video was produced in Australia for homes in the southern hemisphere, however, the design principles will apply to all homes regardless of latitude.

2. Solar Powered A/C and Hot Water Systems

Solar energy is a fantastic way to power all of the various heating and cooling systems in your home, and while they may be a little expensive up front, they’ll save you tons of money over the life of your home. We feel that the two best ways to utilize this renewable resource is through solar powered A/C and hot water heaters. Both systems will drastically reduce your carbon footprint! Check out the diagrams below to get a better idea of how these systems work:

Solar Air Conditioning:

Solar Hot Water Heaters:

3. Fans and Ventilation Systems

Utilizing either fans or ventilation systems is a great way to make your home both comfortable and energy efficient. There are lots of options to choose from, but we feel that passive home ventilation and whole house fans are the best bang for your buck. Check out the two videos below to see how these systems work and why they’re a good investment for your home:

Passive Home Ventilation:

Whole House Fans:

4. Swamp Coolers (Evaporative Cooling)

If you happen to live in an area that is both hot and dry, like the SW United States, swamp coolers are a great alternative to air conditioning. Not only do they tend to use less energy than their air conditioning counter parts, they’ll also introduce moisture to the air which will help to keep things from drying out completely. Check out this video to get a better understanding of how these systems work and why it might make sense for your home:

If you’re looking for more ways to save money and energy around your home check out some of our green home improvement projects: Green Living Ideas, after all, is a top 20 home improvement website!

Photo courtesy of Eco-Friendly HousesSpringtime Homes, Solar Energy For Homes, Pep Solar,

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Categories: Green Living

A Guide To Understanding Modern Light Bulbs: Base Types

Sat, 2014-09-13 06:49

As if there wasn’t enough to consider when it comes to picking out the right light bulb, being sure that you have the correct base type and size is yet another factor in your decision. Thankfully, this is probably the most straightforward of all the variables when it comes to purchasing a light bulb. To help you understand the four most common base types, we’ve come up with the following guide.

Modern Light Bulbs: Base Types

These are the four most common light bulb bases that you’ll encounter around your home:

  • Medium Screw Base
  • Candelabra
  • GU
  • Bi-Pin

To help you get a better idea of what these base types look like, take a look at the following image:

From left to right, Medium Screw Base, Candelabra, GU and Bi-Pin.

 

As you may have guessed, some types of light bulb shapes will often be paired with a certain type of light bulb base. This is because some styles and shapes of light bulb are designed with a specific use in mind, which will require that a certain type of light bulb base be used in order for the light bulb to work properly. For example:

It’s quite common for track lighting to feature halogen style light bulbs which come in an MR shape. In order for these bulbs to fit into the socket of the fixture, they will have either a GU or Bi-Pin style of base and will look something like this:

You’ll also find that light bulb bases will come in a variety of sizes, which is determined by measuring the width of the light bulb base in millimeters at its widest point. All base types, regardless of style, are measured in this way. The size of the base is expressed as number and will appear right next to the base style on the packaging. For example, a light bulb with a GU-10 base is 10 millimeters wide.

Take a look at the following image to get a better idea of how this measurement is taken:

If you’re looking for more ways to make your home energy efficient, try checking out some of our green home improvement projects: Green Living Ideas, after all, is a top 20 home improvement website!

Photos courtesy of Phillips, Lowes and eLightBulbs.

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Categories: Green Living

How Your Pool Pump And Filter Work

Sat, 2014-09-13 06:26

Understanding how your pool pump and filter work is a great way to get started when it comes to saving energy and money around your home. Fortunately, the system that pumps and filters the water for you pool is actually pretty straight forward. So to help you get started with saving energy and money, we’ve come up with the following guide to how your pool pump and filter work:

How your pool pump and filter work

First, let’s start by taking a look at the following diagram to get an idea of how your pool pump and filter work:

Essentially your pool pump and filter work in a “closed loop” system (some water will evaporate off the surface of the pool and will need to be re-added as needed). It starts by drawing water from both the pool and the skimmer and delivering it to the pump and motor. It is then passed through the motor to your pool’s filters which remove any debris and contaminants from the water. Next the water is passed onto your pool’s heater, where the water is heated to the desired temperature. After it reaches the appropriate temp, it’s passed onto a chlorinator (not pictured in the graphic above) where chlorine is added and then returned to the pool itself. Voila! To get a better idea of how this works, check out the video below:

Now that we have a better idea of how your pool pump and filter work, let’s take a look at some easy things you can do to make them and your pool more energy efficient:

  • Keep your drains clean and clear – The more debris that you have in your pools drains, the harder your pump and filter will have to work to move it through the system, thus using more energy. Clean them regularly to ensure your system is running efficiently.
  • Consider installing a pool cover – Installing a pool cover will go a long way to saving you money and energy. Uncovered pools can loose up to 20,000 gallons a year through evaporation, but by installing a pool cover that number can be drastically reduced. After all, this isn’t just water that’s evaporated, it’s heated water which your pool system uses energy to create.
  • Reduce your pool’s pump time – Most pool pumps are actually running longer than they should be. Your pool pump should only be running for approximately 6hrs a day, so if your pump is running longer, consider reducing the pump time to 6hrs.
  • Inspect your pool’s filters – Over time your pool’s filters will become caked with grime and debris making them both less effective at filtering contaminants from your pool’s water, as well as making the pump work harder. Check them periodically and change them when needed.

If you’re looking for more ways to green your home and make it more energy and water efficient, check out some of our green home improvement projects: Green Living Ideas, after all, is a top 20 home improvement website!

Photo courtesy of Swim NJ, How Stuff Works,

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Categories: Green Living

How Your Fridge And Freezer Work

Fri, 2014-09-12 16:45

Knowing how your fridge and freezer work is a great place to start when it comes to making them more energy efficient. After all, fridges and freezers account for roughly 6% of the average monthly electric bill. So to help you get a head start on saving both money and energy, we’ve come up with the following guide to help you understand how your fridge and freezer work.

How your fridge and freezer work

Fortunately, both your fridge and freezer are cooled using the same style of system, so if you understand how one works, you’ll understand the other. To get started, take a look at the following graphic which will walk you through the basic process of the system:

Essentially, your fridge and freezer work by continually turning a refrigerant from a liquid to a gas, and then condensing that gas back into a liquid. The refrigerant starts in your fridge/freezer as a hot gas and is pushed from the compressor through a series of condenser coils where it is cooled and turned back into a liquid. That liquid is then pumped through a capillary which removes any moisture or contaminants before being sent to your fridge/freezers evaporator coils. Once it reaches your fridge/freezer’s evaporator coils it expands and turns itself back into a gas, thus drawing heat away from the system and cooling the items in your fridge. The gas is then returned to your compressor where the whole process starts again. Simple, yeah? Check out the video below to get a better idea of how this system works.

Now that you have a better understanding of how your fridge and freezer work, let’s look at three easy things you can do to ensure that’s it’s running efficiently:

  • Clean your fridges condenser coils - Over time lint, dust and debris from your kitchen can build up on the fridges condenser coils, by taking a stiff brush and removing the debris it will help your system to run more efficiently.
  • Set the temperature in your fridge/freezer to the appropriate level – Be careful not to under or overcool the items in your fridge or freezer. Over cooling will cause the fridge/freezer to work harder than it should and undercooling will cause food to spoil quicker than it should.
  • Be sure your fridge/freezer is at least 2/3rd full – The items in your fridge/freezer will act like thermal batteries and actually help to reduce the fridge/freezers work load.

If you’re looking for more ways to green your home and make it more energy efficient, check out our green home improvement projects: Green Living Ideas, after all, is a top 20 home improvement website!

Photo courtesy of I heart Gum, Techni Ice,

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Categories: Green Living

How Net Metering Works

Fri, 2014-09-05 06:25

We’ve all heard about how about wonderful renewable energies can be for global warming and our planets energy future, but how does your pocket book feel about it? Odds are, it’s a little skeptical and that’s pretty understandable. After all, investing in a solar or wind power system for your home could potentially cost thousands of dollars, and the typical pay off period through savings can take as much as 15 years depending on where you live (though you should check in your area by getting a free solar report at Cost of Solar…it’s possible there are no-money down options that will yield savings from day one). Thankfully, energy companies are starting to offer credits and rebates to help their customers get into the solar and wind energy markets, but it doesn’t stop there. Now, many companies are starting to offer what is called net metering, and it will allow for your solar or wind power investment to both save AND MAKE you money for years to come. Sound too good to be true? I assure you, it isn’t, so let’s review what net metering is and how it works.

Let’s say that you have a solar or wind power system installed in your home. That system is generating power, and that power is converted from direct current (DC) to alternating current (AC) via an inverter so that it can be used throughout your home. However, while you’re away at work and the sun is strongest, not all the energy your home solar PV system generates is actually being used by your home, and this is where net metering comes into play. With a net metering system, your electric company will absorb all the extra energy your home generates and use it to power other homes. In exchange, your electric company will give you credits that will apply to your monthly electric bill, thus saving you money!

check out this graphic to get a visual idea of how the system works:

If at the end of the year your home uses less than energy than your system generates, and net metering is available in your area, your electric company will cut you a check for the difference based on either the retail or market rate for energy in your area!

If you’re interested in having a net metering system installed in your home, contact your local energy company to find out if it’s an option for you.

Looking for more ways to save money around your home? Check out some of our green home improvement projects: Green Living Ideas, after all, is a top 20 home improvement website!

Photo courtesy of Dominion and Ever Blue.

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Categories: Green Living

Nuclear Power: The Facts & The Fiction

Thu, 2014-09-04 06:20

There are few issues in the environmental movement as polarizing as nuclear power. On one hand, nuclear provides a huge, baseload energy source that has no real carbon footprint. On the other hand, it’s easy to see why people are against it: just this week a senior nuclear expert advised that California’s nuclear power plant should be shut down, and the ongoing news about the effects of radiation in Fukushima is scaring people off using nuclear energy altogether.

Add to this all the pro- and anti-nuclear lobbying that takes place, and the topic becomes incredibly confusing, so I’ve broken down the key facts for you here.

1. Is nuclear power safe?

There is no clear answer to this question because we can only speculate on how probable or improbable it is that an accident with nuclear technology will occur. It’s true that increased safety regulations and monitoring and modern technology make nuclear power safer than it has been in the past, however even the most stalwart pro-nuclear proponent has to admit that there is still a risk involved with using nuclear power. The problem is that this seemingly small risk has the potential for extremely large and irrevocable consequences, as is currently being demonstrated in Fukushima in Japan, where a powerful earthquake in 2011 caused a nuclear meltdown.

Another thing to think about is seismic activity and the potential effects of this on nuclear power plants, particularly since fracking wells have been linked to increased seismic activity even in areas with no history of earthquakes pre-fracking. This is why Michael Peck, a senior federal nuclear expert, is urging regulators to shut down the last operating nuclear power plant in California until they can assess the potential impact of earthquakes on the facility.

In the same report Peck also states that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has not been sticking to the safety rules it outlined for the plant’s operation.

Earlier this week the Nuclear Regulatory Commission approved storing nuclear waste on-site for 160 years or more after a reactor has shut down, to much criticism from anti-nuclear activists and local residents, however in the absence of waste burial sites this is the only answer while the nuclear waste is being produced.

Is nuclear radiation harmless?

This is an interesting question because what people seem to fear most is a nuclear explosion, which is not a likely scenario at all. The main danger posed by accidents at nuclear power plants actually relates to radiation leaks, and pro-nuclear lobbyists argue that it would have to be a large or continuous, undetected radiation leak to cause tangible problems, since radiation in itself, in very small quantities, is considered to be harmless. However, according to research undertaken by the University of South Carolina and the University of Paris-Sud:

Even the very lowest levels of radiation are harmful to life, scientists have concluded, reporting the results of a wide-ranging analysis of 46 peer-reviewed studies published over the past 40 years. Variation in low-level, natural background radiation was found to have small, but highly statistically significant, negative effects on DNA as well as several measures of health.’

In May this year, Forbes reported that a small release of nuclear radiation that occurred on Valentine’s Day was probably linked to ‘the wrong kitty litter’ which was used to treat some of the nuclear waste that had been stored in WIPP, the world’s only underground nuclear waste repository which is based in New Mexico.

Whatever your views on the safety of nuclear power, it’s worth keeping in mind that as late as May this year four nuclear reactors in northern England had to be shut down due to faults. Granted, the faults were picked up on before disaster struck. But is that a risk we’re willing to take? Let’s look at the other issues in the debate to see whether the pros outweigh the cons.

2. Is nuclear power clean or sustainable?

This is the most confusing element of the nuclear energy debate because opposing parties can so easily use the term ‘sustainable’ to justify their own arguments. Again, the issue is more complex than that. Yes, nuclear power is more sustainable than coal, because nuclear reactors do not emit greenhouse gasses during operation, whereas coal is extremely polluting and there is wide recognition that we need to wean ourselves off it altogether.

However, nuclear energy is not sustainable in itself. There is a critical issue that determines the argument here which is that nuclear power creates radioactive waste that is highly toxic, and we currently have no long-term plan for dealing with it. Some of the waste is recycled and disposed of safely, but the matter that’s left over is worryingly dangerous and we still don’t have a way of safely disposing of it. What we currently do is lock it in cement or steel casks, and store it in pools for a few decades, or bury it underground and hope for the best. We don’t know what the effects of all this buried material might be in the long-term and we don’t seem to be any closer to finding safe ways of storing the leftover waste forever. Because of this issue of toxic waste, it cannot be argued that nuclear energy is sustainable, and it means that nuclear energy is the very opposite to the definition of clean.

Consider it this way–nuclear waste has a half-life that is longer than any language every known to exist. If we put safety warnings and handling procedures in English, Cantonese, and Spanish, but will any of those languages still be used in 10,000 years when future generations open nuclear storage facilities? The only answer we have to that question is that we don’t know.

3. Is nuclear power the key to energy independence?

Be wary of arguments claiming that nuclear power will make us energy independent. According to Michael A. Levi, senior fellow and director of the program on energy security and climate change at the Council on Foreign Relations:

When people talk about energy independence, they’re thinking about oil, which we mostly use in vehicles and industrial production. When they talk about nuclear, though, they’re thinking about electricity. More nuclear power means less coal, less natural gas, less hydroelectric power and less wind energy. But unless we start putting nuclear power plants in our cars and semis, more nuclear won’t mean less oil.’

Thankfully there is another energy option available that could replace our need for oil. Read on.

4. Is nuclear power the only viable option?

As politicians continue the global discussion of attempting to stop or slow climate change they tend to loop from coal to nuclear and back again – even though neither is the truly sustainable option here. As some wise individual put it, there aren’t huge profits in ‘free’ energy, ie renewable energy that cannot be owned and co-opted by a single company. Once you invest in the initial equipment for harnessing solar, water or wind power, you don’t have to pay an energy provider for your “fuel” needs for the rest of your life, and some environmentalists argue that this is why governments deliberately choose not to invest in renewable technology. Certainly the question has to be posed as to why we discuss the nuclear option at all when we could be discussing the low carbon option of renewable technology. Renewable energy does not create hazardous waste material that we are unable to deal with, does not require mining, and it isn’t about to run out any time soon. Most importantly, it is the best option for the environment because of the low emissions involved with obtaining it, and 97% of scientists agree that we need to act on emissions now to help stop or slow climate change.

Since a third of Britain’s nuclear capacity went offline in the week that energy provider EDF found faults in its nuclear reactors, it’s clear that we need to switch to a safe source of energy that can, at the very least, tide us over in emergency situations like this one. It’s hard to see why governments around the world aren’t heavily investing more in renewable energy technology already – although some are doing so, the financial amounts are miniscule compared with fossil fuel subsidies that are already in place.

In the past the main barrier to solar investment has been limited battery energy storage, but this technology has come far in recent years – read up on the perovskite lightbulb and see for yourself. However, real investment is required to make renewable energy a viable contender for energy, and one has to wonder why we aren’t seeing more of that yet, when the need for fossil fuel replacement is so urgent.

Those are the basic facts.

As you’ve seen, there are no clear or easy answers in this debate, so I’ll leave it to you to decide what you do with this information. I will conclude by pointing out that even being pro-nuclear energy doesn’t mean that you have to be anti-renewable energy. Why don’t we start investing in renewable energy anyway? We have nothing to lose, and much to gain.

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Categories: Green Living

A Guide To Understanding Modern Light Bulbs: Color And Temperature

Tue, 2014-09-02 06:05

9

When it comes to modern light bulbs, being able to understand and choose the proper color and temperature is just as important as using the right style and shape of light bulb. To help give you a better idea of how to determine which color and temperature is right for you, we’ve come up with the following guide.

A Guide To Understanding Modern Light Bulbs: Color And Temperature

Most light bulbs today will come in a variety of colors and temperatures, and these are determined by measuring the light bulbs light by a unit known as a Kelvin. For practical purposes, this is best understood as an absolute measure of temperature, and is expressed as a unit of K. The following image will help to give you a better understanding of where the different colors and temperatures fall in the spectrum:

As you can see, the blue colors of light are the hottest and come in around 5000K, while the red colors are the coolest and come in around 2,200K. A good way to think about light temperature in this spectrum is to compare it to a flame. If you’re looking at a flame the middle of it should appear almost blue, and is the hottest part of the flame. The further out from the center you go, the color fades into yellows and reds, which are the coolest part of the flame. The video below will help to elucidate this seeming contradiction.

Check out this video to get a better idea of how this scale works, and where the different colors and temperatures fall within it:

Unfortunately, not all light bulb manufacturers will use the same terminology and measurement when classifying the color and temperature of their light bulbs. However, they will all use the same Kelvin (K) scale to measure their light bulb’s color and temperature, and this measurement will always appear on the packaging. For this reason we recommend that you go by the light bulb’s Kelvin rating, rather than its name, when selecting and purchasing your light bulbs. This will help to ensure you get the proper color and temperature of light.

Generally speaking, there are three different colors and temperatures you’ll find in use around your home:

  • Bright White (2700K-3000K)
  • Cool White (4000K-5000K)
  • Day Light (5000K and above)

All of these bulbs have different uses around your home and it’s important that the right color and temperature be used in the appropriate room. Generally, we recommend the following uses:

  • Bright White and Cool White (living rooms, home office, bedrooms and laundry rooms)
  • Day Light (security lights and patios)

If you want to learn more about light bulbs, check out this article on the various light bulb shapes and sizes. Also, be sure to check out some of our green home improvement projects: Green Living Ideas, after all, is a top 20 home improvement website!

Photo courtesy of Super Bright LEDs, Bravo Light,

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Categories: Green Living

How to Use a Light Meter to Set Appropriate Light Levels

Mon, 2014-09-01 20:14

Lighting in your home is among the top five energy users, alongside your fridge, HVAC, water heater, and clothes dryer. Most people know by now to swap out lights for more efficient LED models (or CFLs, if LEDs aren’t available, but CFLs are less efficient, contain mercury, and don’t last as long as LEDs). However, most people don’t think about the fact that the most efficient lighting may be no lighting at all. In many cases, areas of your home or business may be overlit, making it not only uncomfortable on your eyes, but also a complete waste of energy.

The process of rightsizing your lighting has been referred to as “delamping”. Effectively, if you have too much light in an area for the tasks that are done in that area, you can remove one or more of the bulbs and drop energy use substantially (and more importantly, infrastructurally, so that occupant behavior is less important…this is huge for small businesses where employees are busy, and for parents of children who like to leave lights on).

Check out this article on proper light levels, just to give yourself some background on the topic. Then, let’s get on to reducing your energy consumption by removing lights where appropriate!

Now, let’s review the proper way to measure the lighting levels in your home:

To do this you’ll need a light meter (if you don’t have one, you can bookmark this page and use that link to purchase a light meter). Here are the steps to assessing the lighting levels in your home:

1. Measure the ambient light in your desired room. Be sure that you have all the lights in the room turned off. Now take your light meter and get a baseline measurement for the room. You’ll use this baseline number when determining how much synthetic light is being contributed by the light bulbs in the room.

2. Turn on the lights you’d usually use while occupying the room. Give your lights a minute to reach full illumination, especially if you have CFLs which require a minute to power up fully. Now, take your light meter and measure the light level of the room again, you should get a reading that is higher than your initial baseline measurement.

3. Take the difference between your ambient and illuminated lighting levels and compare it to the guide above. By subtracting the ambient light level from your illuminated level you’ll get what’s called a differential or delta. Which is the amount of light being created by the light bulbs in your room. Or, the amount of light illuminating the room at night, when there is no ambient light. For example, if you measure the ambient light in room and the reading comes out to 100 lux, and after you turn on the lights you get a reading of 300 lux, the differential (or delta) would be 200 lux. If the differential (or delta) reading for the room is higher than is necessary for the tasks being performed in that room, odds are this can be remedied by simply removing some light bulbs. Conversely, if the differential is too low, you may need to add light bulbs to your fixtures or put a lamp in your room to reach the desired lighting level.

Next Step: Delamping

Now that you’ve determined the right amounts of light needed in a particular area, it’s time to start saving money. The process of rightsizing a lighting fixture is often referred to as delamping. It’s about what it sounds like…except more elegant, and scientific. A very common place in the home that delamping helps to save energy is in the bathroom, where vanity lighting fixtures are historically stupid bright. I took a reading on this bathroom with my light meter and found the lighting to contribute over 400 lux….way more than is needed even for high performance tasks that require precision.

Delamping (before): 400+ lux, 360 watts

In addition to it being too bright, it’s costing the occupant through high energy bills. This fixture had six 60 watt vanity bulbs in it, totalling 360 watts. Completely absurd. I delamped this fixture by simply unscrewing every other bulb, and replaced the remaining incandescent bulbs with high efficiency LEDs that use 1.7 watts each. Here’s the result:

Delamping (after): 200+ lux, 5.1 watts

Boom. Just like that, 355 watts less power, and a barely noticeable difference in light output. ROI? Huge.

If you’re looking for more ways to save money around your home, check out our green home improvement projects: Green Living Ideas, after all, is a top 20 home improvement website! Also, see here for ways to reduce your energy on your:

  1. dryer (and also, tips for effective indoor line drying)
  2. refrigerator (how to clean your condenser coils)
  3. air conditioner maintenance tips for energy efficiency
  4. water heater

Photos courtesy of Small World Labs and Pono Home

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Categories: Green Living

5 Effective Tips for Hanging Clothes to Dry Inside

Mon, 2014-09-01 06:08

Among the appliances in your home, the clothes dryer is one of the top 3-4 users of electricity. For many people, this means they spend several hundred dollars a year to dry clothing. In addition, using a clothes dryer destroys your clothes (that lint you clean out from the lint screen every time? that’s your clothes being shredded to bits). Dryers also contribute substantially to indoor dust levels if they’re not vented perfectly, which most aren’t. Finally, a clothes dryer is one of the biggest fire hazards in the home.

So…to prolong the life of your clothes and save buckets of money on your energy bill (while also reducing carbon emissions), simply use an indoor drying rack to hang your clothes. (Don’t have one yet? Go to the laundry section in the Pono Home store to find a few that we’ve tested and found to be very effective). In most climates, the clothes will be dry in a few hours. The drying rack will save you so much money it’ll pay for itself in a few months, making the it one of the best investments you’ll ever make. However, some people express resistance to drying clothes inside, as they can sometimes feel a little crunchy or in some climates, take more than a few hours to dry. Other folks express dismay that some of their finer fabrics end up having a wrinkle line across them where they were hanging on the bar of the drying rack (see tip #3 to address this one).

Take it from someone who’s not used a dryer in almost 10 years, it’s not only possible, it’s actually really enjoyable and 100% effective.

Here are 5 tips to help you effectively dry clothes inside and save piles of money.

1. Wash in the mornings so that you have the full day for clothes to dry. Drying is not ineffective at night, but it’s far more effective during the day when there’s warmth and light. Wash your clothes in the morning before work, hang them up, and by the time you get home from work, they’re likely to be ready to be put away.

2. Make sure there’s space between your clothes that are hanging. This is probably the most important thing to make sure your clothes dry. If they’re touching each other, the moisture in the clothes is not exposed to air and therefore has nowhere to go. For thicker items like jeans and towels, give them two bars on the rack so that both their two sides aren’t even touching each other. For thinner items, one bar is usually sufficient.

3. Hang your nicer clothes on hangers. This is a great tip my girlfriend showed me a few years ago–since you are going to end up putting clothes on hangers anyway, why not use those hangers to dry them? Hang the hangers off the drying rack around the edges or on surrounding furniture or on the chain of a ceiling fan in a little used room. Super effective, and very convenient–when the clothes are dry, just move them to the closet–after all, they’re already on a hanger!

4. Put the drying rack in the sunniest and breeziest part of the house. Hanging clothes in a dank and humid cement basement will surely cause your clothes to take a lot longer to dry than if they’re hanging out on your balcony or next to an open window on a sunny day, exposed to sunlight. If you don’t have access to a balcony or a window you can leave open, place it in the sunniest part of the largest room you have for best results.

5. Flip. If you find your clothes are taking a little too long to dry or come up smelling a little musty, you might consider flipping clothes over on the rack, or inside out halfway through the drying process. This exposes the other surface of the clothes to the air and helps them dry much more quickly. I’ve never found this necessary, but if you have some extra time during the day, it can’t hurt.

 

Geographic caveats

Live in Alabama or South Florida where the relative humidity is always 99.9% and rain is just a mere dew drop away? You may consider using a dehumidifier inside. It’ll not only help your clothes dry faster, it may help with many other of the issues that come with living in moist environments. A dehumidifier will use FAR less electricity than a clothes dryer, and comes with all those side benefits.

Live in a cold climate? First, as a resident of Hawaii, I’ll say, “sorry.” Then, I’d advise that you move your drying rack to a place where your furnace or other heat source is putting off the most heat. A vent or somewhere close to a pot-belly stove where the microclimate is warmer than areas next to windows might be the best and most effective place to set your drying rack.

 

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Categories: Green Living

A Guide To Understanding Modern Light Bulbs: Shapes And Sizes

Sat, 2014-08-30 06:42

Modern light bulbs will come in a variety of different shapes and sizes, and needless to say, it can get pretty confusing. Typically, there are eight different light bulb shapes that one might find in use around their home. Why so many? Modern light bulbs are used in a variety of different fixtures, and each fixture has its own unique set of requirements when it comes to the size, shape and the way the light bulb projects its light. As a result, selecting the proper light bulb has become more like finding a needle in a haystack. In order to help you understand which shapes and sizes you’ll need, we’ve come up with the following guide:

Modern Light Bulbs: Shapes And Sizes

These are the eight most common light bulb shapes you’ll find in your home:

  • Arbitrary (A)
  • Bulged Reflector (BR)
  • Candle (C)
  • Globe (G)
  • Quartz Reflector Lamp (MR)
  • Parabolic Aluminized Reflector (PAR)
  • Blown Reflector (R)
  • Twist

The following graphic should help to give you a better idea of what these bulb shapes look like:

And since, for some reason, MR bulbs are not included in the above diagram, here’s a graphic and common use indicator:

As we mentioned earlier, all of these light bulb shapes will come in different sizes. As you’re browsing the light bulb aisle and comparing different packages you may come across designations like A-19, PAR-20 or G-25. The first part of these designations (A,PAR, G) is referring to the actual shape of the bulb itself. The second part (the number) is the measurement of the bulbs diameter at its widest point, and this is expressed in 1/8ths of an inch. So for example, a bulb labeled A-19 is an Arbitrary shaped bulb (A) that measures 19 eighths of an inch in diameter at the bulbs widest point.

Check out this graphic to get a visual idea of how this measurement works:

Here is a list of the sizes that are available for each of the eight most common light bulbs you’ll find in your home:

  • Arbitrary (A15, A17, A19, A20, A21, A23)
  • Globe (G9, G11, G12, G16, G16.5, G19, G25, G30, G40)
  • Candle (C6, C7, C9, C11, C15)
  • Quartz Reflector Lamp (MR8, MR11, MR16, MR20)
  • Blown Reflector (R12, R14, R16, R20, R25, R30, R40)
  • Bulged Reflector (BR25, BR30, BR38, BR40)
  • Parabolic Aluminized Reflector (PAR14, PAR16, PAR20, PAR30 Short or Long Neck)
  • Twist (T2 Coil, T3 Coil, T4 Coil)

If you want to learn more about how light bulbs work, check out this article on light bulb colors and temperatures. Also, be sure to check out some of our other green home improvement projects: Green Living Ideas, after all, is a top 20 home improvement website!

Photos courtesy of Edison Light Globes, Lamp Tech, Feit,

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Categories: Green Living

How To Set The Temperature On Your Hot Tub

Fri, 2014-08-29 06:59

Setting the temperature on your hot tub to the proper level can help you save money on your monthly electric bill. Thanks to modern technology, this shouldn’t take you more than five minutes to do and will require no real expertise or special training. All you need to do is push a button or two. Just follow these easy steps.

Things you’ll need for the job:

  • A Working Hot Tub
Instructions: how to lower your hot tubs water temperature

1. Determine the location of your hot tubs temperature control panel. Not all hot tubs will be built the same, so be sure to locate your hot tubs temperature control panel before continuing. In most cases the panel will be mounted on the edge of the hot tub so users can adjust the temp while soaking. Otherwise, the control panel might be mounted on a wall nearby.

2. Determine the current temperature of your hot tub. The control panel should have a digital display and look something like this:

Depending on your current setting, you may or may not have to adjust the temperature up or down.

3. Adjust the temperature using the control panel. All of the buttons on your control panel should be clearly labeled. Simply find the buttons that control the water’s temperature and turn it to 102 degrees. If at any point you had to remove the hot tubs cover, be sure to put it back on so that the hot tub won’t loose any more heat than is necessary.

Unfortunately, not all hot tub control panels are the same. Check out this video to get an idea of how the process may work for other styles:

That’s all there is to it. It’s also a good idea to do a thorough inspection of your hot tubs cover while you’re adjusting the temperature. After all, if your hot tubs cover is damaged it may not be insulating the hot tub properly, which would result in a higher monthly electric bill.

It’s also a good idea to turn your hot tubs temperature all the way down or off if you’re going to be out of town for more than a few days. After all, if no one is going to be around to use it, it doesn’t need to stay at 102.

Be sure to check out some of our other green home improvement projects: Green Living Ideas, after all, is a top 20 home improvement website!

Photo courtesy of Build A Tub and Spa Man.

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Categories: Green Living

The Importance of Buying Local

Thu, 2014-08-28 19:02

Thousands of miles are traveled each day by hundreds upon hundreds of semi-trucks filled with food and items going from west coast to east and back again. How our system works allows for this amount of action to fill a need that could be filled much more easily and without so much fossil fuel usage. The answer to environmental problems lies in one word: Local.

-Community- Localizing into your hometown environment helps to build community which creates a sustainable bond between your family and the rest of your community. Real ties to other people creates instant resources, as well. Real relationships start with attention to your local community, rather than outsourcing your attention to t.v. and internet.

-Environment- Getting down in your home town is environmentally more sustainable, primarily because of the food consumption. If you could source all of your needs from one area, the amount of money saved on gas would be phenomenal. All it takes is tapping into your local resources by establishing real, authentic relationships with the people around you. Check out this infographic from a great article at Insteading for more information on choosing local.

-Money- Localizing can also save you money. You can work with a CSA to get a great deal on produce that comes from a local farmer, rather than paying for a semi-truck to bring in produce from a farm that underpays its workers and provides terrible conditions for food and people alike. Again, having local relationships also provides local resources at the friend rate. You can also create local jobs by eating local.

-Quality- Quality control becomes immediately more attainable when your food and products come locally. You can meet and discuss things with the people who are actually growing your food, as well as check out the facility. This is great for things like dairy and meat especially. If a farmer won’t let you check out his farm, consider that a good sign to move on.

-Adaptability- Using ingredients and items from your local environment help you get acclimated to your immediate surroundings. Some people say that allergies can virtually disappear if you use local honey made from sustainable honey bee farmers, for instance.

Getting in touch with your local environment also helps keep you present. Many spiritual religions suggest that being present is where true happiness lies. No claims here, but with all of these reasons, it’s worth at least a try!

Photo from Christian Mueller / Shutterstock.com

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Categories: Green Living

A Guide To Understanding Modern Light Bulbs: Style

Thu, 2014-08-28 17:42

If you were to walk down the lighting isle of your local hardware store, how many different types of light bulbs do you think you’d find? 10, 15, 20? While it’s hard to say just how many different types of bulbs there are, it’s safe to assume that there’s a lot. In fact there are entire stores dedicated to selling just light bulbs, something I’m sure Thomas Edison never thought would happen. So to help you navigate your local hardware store’s lighting section, we’ve come up with a guide to understanding modern light bulbs. After all, using the proper light bulb can make all the difference when it comes to saving money on your monthly electric bills.

This guide will cover the following topics:

  • Style
  • Shape
  • Base
  • Color
Modern Light Bulbs: Style

Today there are four basic styles of light bulbs that can be used to illuminate your home:

  • Incandescent
  • Halogen
  • Compact Fluorescent Lamp (CFL)
  • Light Emitting Diodes (LED)

Incandescent Light Bulb

Incandescent - This is probably the most common style of light bulb in use today. It generates its light by heating a tungsten filament with electricity to 4,172 degrees Fahrenheit, at which point the filament begins to glow. Unfortunately, these bulbs aren’t very energy efficient. In fact, 90% of the electricity these bulbs use is turned into heat rather than visible light.

Halogen Light Bulb

Halogen - These bulbs work via a combination of a tungsten filament, much like an incandescent bulb, and halogen gas. However, this style of bulb can produce the same amount of light with a much smaller sized bulb and wattage, making them more energy efficient and longer lasting than there incandescent counterparts. These bulbs are roughly 30% more efficient than incandescents.

Compact Florescent Lamp (CFL)

Compact Florescent Lamp (CFL) –  This style of bulb is likely the second most common one found in homes today. It generates its light be using electricity to heat up a combination of argon and mercury vapor which is contained inside the bulb’s spiral tube. When it comes to producing equal amounts light, this style of light bulb is 75% more efficient than their incandescent counterparts.

Light Emitting Diode (LED)

Light Emitting Diode (LED) - These are the most energy efficient and longest lasting style of light bulb available on the market today. These types of bulbs get their light by moving electrons through holes in a semiconductor material, which in most cases is a rod of aluminum-gallium-arsenide. The resulting reaction creates photons which we see as light. Even though these lights might be a little more expensive, they’re 90% more energy efficient when compared to their incandescent counterparts, and can last up to 50,000 hours (more than 50x some other models of bulb, meaning that you don’t have to replace them, and can save money not only on energy but also on replacement purchases).

Just by switching the lightbulbs in your home from incandescents to either a CFL or LED, you can see significant savings on your monthly electric bill. Also, be sure to check out some of our green home improvement projects: Green Living Ideas, after all, is a top 20 home improvement website!

Photos courtesy of Feit Electric, Wise Geek, Direct Industry, Traders City, Lamp Tech,

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Categories: Green Living

Is It Time To Change Out Your Pool Or Hot Tub Cover?

Thu, 2014-08-28 06:19

One of the easiest ways to save money and prolong the life of your pool or hot tub is to install a cover. Not only will it help to keep in heat and reduce your electric bill, it will also help prevent dirt and debris from entering the water, which in turn will cause your pool or hot tub pump to work harder. According to Energy.gov an uncovered pool can loose up to 20,000 gallons a year through evaporation! Which is really 20,000 gallons of heated water, making it a HUGE hit on both your energy and water bills.

To help you save money on both your water and electric bills, we’ve come up with some tips to help you maintain your pool and hot tub covers and determine if they need replacing.

Things you’ll need for the job:

  • Flashlight
  • Towel
  • Bucket of mild Cleaning Solution
  • Rag
Tips: how to inspect and maintain your pool or hot tub cover Inspection

What to look for while you’re inspecting your pool or hot tub cover. Take your flashlight and give your pool or hot tub cover a thorough visual inspection. What you’re looking for are any cracks, tears, gaps, worn seams or hinges and take note of the weight of the cover itself. When cracks and other tears appear on either the top or bottom of your pool or hot tub cover, it presents an opportunity for water and energy to seep out. If these cracks or tears are left unaddressed the insulation in your cover can become water logged. This will not only make the cover physically heavier and harder to use, the insulation itself will lose almost all of its insulating properties, thus reducing it’s effectiveness. Here is an example of a worn out hot tub cover:

Maintenance

1. Keep your pool or hot tub cover clean and free of debris. This is one of the easiest ways to maintain and prolong the life of your pool or hot tub cover. We recommend that once a month you physically brush off the top side of the cover and give it a wipe down using a rag and mild cleaning solution. It’s important to note that chemicals in both your pool or hot tubs water, or cleaning solution, can damage the cover if they sit on the cover for too long. Take your towel and be sure to dry off the cover once you’re done wiping it down.

2. Use a special moisturizer to maintain the material on your pool or hot tub cover. Another great way to maintain your cover is to keep the material “hydrated”. As your pool or hot tub cover is exposed to the sun and seasons the material it’s comprised of can “dry out” and become stiff or flakey. If this is the case use a rag and special “moisturizing” product to restore the material to its original state.

3. Address cracks and tears before they become a major issue. Addressing minor cracks and tears as they arise is the best way to keep your maintenance and operating costs low. Sometimes you can purchase special patch kits or adhesives that will allow you to fix these problems yourself. Otherwise you might end up replacing the pool or hot tub cover sooner than you should be.

4. Train your dog or keep it away from your hot tub. Scott Cooney, Green Living Ideas’s editor, once had to spend $500 on a new hot tub lid that a visiting dog chewed through in a matter of minutes. Besides the money, there’s the guilt of all that foam going to the landfill. So just keep dogs away!

Depending on the type of pool or hot tub cover you have, there might be special instructions to consider when using, storing or maintaining your cover. Be sure to check with your pool or hot tubs manufacturer to make sure you’re doing everything you can to maintain it.

If you’re looking for more ways to save on your monthly utilities, try installing a water efficient shower head or flow valve. These will help to reduce both your monthly water and electric bills.

As always, be sure sure to check out some of our other green home improvement projects: Green Living Ideas, after all, is a top 20 home improvement website!

Photo courtesy of VIP Pools and Hot Tub Works.

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Categories: Green Living

How To Set The Pump Times For Your Pool And Hot Tub

Wed, 2014-08-27 06:23

Adjusting the pump times for your pool and hot tub is one of the easiest ways to make them both cost effective and energy efficient. According to Energy.gov your pool pump only needs to run for six hours a day, and in some cases it can run as little as three. When it comes to your hot tub, three hours should be plenty. In both cases, it is also recommended that you set your pumps to run during non-peak hours. Non-peak hours are less expensive, and as such, are a great time to run your pumps.  Just follow these easy steps to adjust your pump times and start saving today.

Things you’ll need for the job:

  • Screwdriver (potentially)
Instructions: how to set the pump time for your pool and hot tub

1. Locate and open the panel with your pool or hot tub pump timer. This should be located close to the pool pump itself and the hot tub. If you cant find it, consult with your pool or hot tub installer to determine where it is.

2. Set the on and off switches to the desired times. Your pump timer should look something like this:

The “on” and “off” timer switches will each be held in place with a small screw which shouldn’t be more than finger tight. Gently remove the screw until the switch can move freely around the face of the time dial. Now, slide the “on” and “off” switches to the desired times you want, and gently re-tighten the screws for each timer switch. Remember, pools should only run for six hours a day, and hot tubs should run for three.

3. Disengage the time dial and set it to the current time. To disengage the time dial simply pull the entire face toward you. You should both hear and feel the timer disengage. Now, turn the dial to the current time and gently push it back into place. It’s important to note that during power outages, or after daylight savings, your pumps time dial won’t be displaying the proper time. Check and adjust it once every three months or so just to be sure it’s working properly.

Now all you have to do is close the lid and you’ll start saving money!

If you’re looking for more ways to save around your pool or hot tub, be sure that your pool and hot tub covers are in good condition and that you’re hot tub is set to 102 degrees.

Be sure to check out our other green home improvement projects: Green Living Ideas, after all, is a top 20 home improvement website!

Photo courtesy of Trip Advisor and Sandestin Home.

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Categories: Green Living

How To Check Your Pool And Hot Tub Filters

Wed, 2014-08-27 06:07

Changing or cleaning your pool and hot tub filters is a great way to prolong the life of your pool and hot tub and save money on your monthly electric bills. When filters become dirty it causes your pool and hot tub pumps to work harder, which in turn adds to your monthly electric bill. However, changing out these filters is a quick and easy task. Just follow these easy steps.

Thing you’ll need for the job:

  • A New Filter
Instructions: how to change your hot tub filter

It may be necessary to drain the water from your hot tub in order to access it’s filter. If this is the case, consult your owners manual that came with the hot tub for the proper draining procedure.

1. Turn off the power to your hot tub. Before beginning any work on your hot tub you should turn off the power at the circuit breaker. Open up the panel and turn the switch that controls the power to the hot tub to the off position. After all, safety first!

2. Locate your hot tub’s filter. This should be easy to do. The filter will be located somewhere inside the body of the hot tub itself and have a large lid on top of it. If you’re unsure of where that is on your hot tub, refer to the owners manual that came with it.

3. Unscrew and remove the old filter. Once you’ve located the hot tub’s filter, simply unscrew and remove the both the lid and filter from the from the hot tub. The filter should lift out easily.

4. Inspect and replace the filter if needed. Give your filter a thorough visual inspection. If the filter appears dirty and covered in grime, it’s time to replace it. Simply take your new filter and screw it into place of the old filter.

5. Put the lid back in place and enjoy! Yup, it’s just that simple to do. After you’ve out the lid back in place you’re ready to go.

To help show you just how easy it is, check out this video on how to change our your hot tub’s filter:

Changing out your pools filters is a slightly more involved process. To help give you a better idea of what this process looks like, check out this video:

If you don’t consider yourself to be much of a handy-person, or feel comfortable changing these filters, we recommend you contact your pools installer. Their trained technicians will be able to help you with replacing your pools filters.

Be sure to check out more of our green home improvement projects: Green Living Ideas, after all, is a top 20 home improvement website!

Photo courtesy of Pinterest.

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Categories: Green Living

Green Baby: Save time, money and the environment!

Tue, 2014-08-26 20:54

So you’re pregnant and now everyone is telling you that you need all this stuff. But, in my opinion, that’s all b.s. You actually don’t need anything except your body and the baby (a dad person is a good call too, if you have one around No need for diaper genies and crib frills. Here’s the basics that will keep you and your family sane and in awe of your smiling sweet baby.

Small Baby, Small stuff- or really, small amount of stuff. Like any tiny human born into a world that it can barely interact with, everything is basically intense stimulation. What does that mean?! It means that your new baby doesn’t need something that makes a lot of sounds and noises- it just needs you and your sweet, gentle, noise-making face. Your finger, your nose, your eyes, your hair, your shirt are all the first ‘toys’ that a baby ought to play with. Those are all pretty much free since you have them already. As they get older, introduce them to your household items like wooden spoons, anything they can hold in their hand and leave the plastic, loud stuff for the grandparents house.

No Diapers, Cloth Diapers- Many cultures around the world don’t even use diapers. They start potty training from the age of immediately and don’t even bother with cloth diapers. For our plush American carpets, cloth diapers are a reasonable option. They are much cheaper and much safer for Earth. Also consider environmentally friendly disposable diapers if you must use them (I used them with my daughter, and I don’t regret it. But I also potty trained her by two) so, just work with what you can and try your best. Don’t stress too much. Here’s some more information about reusable diapers!

Hand Me Down Clothes- I’m of the opinion that babies don’t need new clothes at all, at any point until they are older. There are so many lightly used childrens clothes that purchasing brand new ones that are made in poor conditions by poor workers in other countries with unsustainably treated cotton or synthetic materials that eat up the environment. Why would you do that when you can probably find a box of free clothes at your friendly mom-acquaintances house- or check out the local thrift store.

Share a Bed- This is a semi-controversial stance that I hold strongly. It is also called co-sleeping, and is the godsend of parenthood. Many people believe that an infant child should be placed in a crib in another room away from the parents. However, this is totally shocking to a newborn infant and results in several wake-ups per night. Plus, cribs are expensive and made from unsustainably sourced wood (there are alternatives, of course). Snuggling up in bed with your newborn is the warmest, safest and cheapest way to get a good nights sleep.

Nature Not Toys- As your children grow into curious beings, encourage them to explore the divest of sticks from outside rather than plastic made baton things. Show them the curvature of a flower petal, rather than the plastic of a whistle that will fry your nervous system. Show them the spiral dance of the honey bee,  the elongation of the sprout and the desires of the ground for water. Check this great guide out for eco-friendly products that mom’s really need.

Kids are easy, it’s adults that are difficult. Show them how to do it in the just right, just enough sustainability for all kind of way and we’ll turn the earth/human situation around in a jiffy!

Photo from Shutterstock

 

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Categories: Green Living

Proper Lighting Levels For Various Activities

Tue, 2014-08-26 20:45

When it comes to illuminating your home, ensuring that you aren’t over or under-lighting your living spaces can make a big difference. Proper lighting levels will not only help to save you money on your monthly electric bill, they’ll also help to make your home a more comfortable and welcoming place. Ever walk into a room and find the lighting to be a little harsh? Or maybe you’ve walked down a hallway and stubbed your toe on something you couldn’t see was there? These could both be considered examples of improper lighting levels, and both can be easily avoided with a little know how and understanding.

First, lets’s start with how light levels are measured. There are three common units used to measure lighting levels; foot candles, lux and lumens. For the purposes of this article we’ll use lux as our unit of measure, but what is a lux? One lux is the measurement of illumination (light) across a single square foot of space from a single source of light one meter away. Check out the graphic below to get a better idea of how this works:

The more powerful the light source, the higher the lux measurement will be. To help you understand where your lighting levels should be we’ve come up with the following guidelines:

  • Tasks requiring low amounts of precision (eating dinner, watching TV, etc.) we recommend 50-75 lux
  • For walkways and navigating around your home we recommend roughly 75 lux
  • For general purpose activities, like washing dishes, we recommend roughly 150 lux
  • Tasks requiring high amounts of precision (putting in contact lenses, applying eye makeup, soldering, etc.) we recommend 200-250 lux

To get a better understanding of where all this lighting jargon comes from, and how it works in practice, check out the following video:

Now, let’s review the proper way to measure the lighting levels in your home:

To do this you’ll need to acquire a light meter, just be sure that the light meter you’re using measures light in lux. Here are the steps to assessing the lighting levels in your home:

1. Measure the ambient light in your desired room. Be sure that you have all the lights in the room turned off. Now take your light meter and get a baseline measurement for the room. You’ll use this baseline number when determining how much synthetic light is being contributed by the light bulbs in the room.

2. Turn on the lights you’d usually use while occupying the room. Give your lights a minute to reach full illumination, especially if you have CFLs which require a minute to power up fully. Now, take your light meter and measure the light level of the room again, you should get a reading that is higher than your initial baseline measurement.

3. Take the difference between your ambient and illuminated lighting levels and compare it to the guide above. By subtracting the ambient light level from your illuminated level you’ll get what’s called a differential or delta. Which is the amount of light being created by the light bulbs in your room. Or, the amount of light illuminating the room at night, when there is no ambient light. For example:

If you measure the ambient light in room and the reading comes out to 100 lux, and after you turn on the lights you get a reading of 300 lux, the differential (or delta) would be 200 lux. If the differential (or delta) reading for the room is higher than is necessary for the tasks being performed in that room, odds are this can be remedied by simply removing some light bulbs. Conversely, if the differential is too low, you may need to add light bulbs to your fixtures or put a lamp in your room to reach the desired lighting level.

If you’re looking for more ways to save money around your home, check out our green home improvement projects: Green Living Ideas, after all, is a top 20 home improvement website!

Photo courtesy of Jim On Lighting and JW Speaker.

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Categories: Green Living

A Quick Guide To Checking For Leaks Under Your Sink

Tue, 2014-08-26 06:49

Did you know that a leak of only one drop per second will waste over 3,000 gallons of water a year? Not only that, it wastes 3,000 gallons of water you’ll end up paying for and never getting to use. Luckily there is a quick and easy way to find out if any of your sinks have a leak. Just follow these easy steps.

Things you’ll need for the job:

  • TP
  • Flashlight
Instructions: how to check your sink for a leak

1. Check under your sink for signs of water damage. This can include stains, visible moisture, or finishes that are “bubbling”. Use your flashlight and just do a quick visual once-over.

2. Turn on your sinks cold water.  No need to use anything other than cold water for this test instead of warm or hot since using hot water will add to both your electric and water bills. Run it for just a few seconds.

3. Look under you sink. Take the flashlight and give the pipes and connections under your sink a thorough visual inspection. If you notice any water pooling under the sink or dripping off of the pipes odds are you have a leak. Usually, signs of a leak aren’t quite this obvious though.

4. Wipe down all the pipes and connections. Take some TP and be sure to wipe any and all connections and piping while the water is running. If at any point your TP absorbs water, odds are you’ve found a a leak. The TP will be the most sensitive diagnostic tool for the job–you may just touch the piping, but your fingers may be moist from sweat or from not drying them thoroughly prior to testing the pipes.

5. Turn off the water and call your local green plumber. If you’ve spotted a leak during this process it’s probably time to call a plumber to have them take a closer look at your sink. Sometimes all you need to do to fix a leak is snug up a connection(s) somewhere along the line. However, if you don’t feel comfortable doing this, it’s best to have a professional do it for you. We recommend Green Home Directory to help you find qualified, sustainable-minded contractors for your home improvement needs.

If you’re looking for more ways you can save on water around your home, try installing a water efficient shower head or flow valve.

Be sure to check out some of our other green home improvement projects: Green Living Ideas, after all, is a top 20 home improvement website!

Photo courtesy of Home Tone.

The post A Quick Guide To Checking For Leaks Under Your Sink appeared first on Green Living Ideas.

Categories: Green Living