One of the easiest ways to keep your dryer running efficiently is to clean out it’s lint trap, screen and vent. Overtime lint, (aka “formerly known as your clothes”), will build up in these areas and prevent your dryer from moving air efficiently, causing your dryer to work harder to dry clothes and use more energy in the process. Just follow these easy steps to clean out the lint from your dryer and get it working efficiently.
Things you’ll need for the job:
- A Vacuum Cleaner with a lint cleaning attachment
- Garbage Bag
- Dryer Vent Duct Brush
The Lint Trap and Screen - Depending on the design of your dryer the lint trap will either be on the top of the dryer or located just inside the door. Be sure to locate the dryer’s lint trap, which houses the lint screen, before continuing.
1. Remove the lint screen from the lint trap. Simply grab the end of the screen and give it a gentle pull. The screen should lift out fully from the dryer (see photo, above).
2. Clear the lint free from the screen. The trick here is to just get a small amount of lint to start with. Once you’ve scraped a small bit free from the screen use it to remove the remaining lint. Like a snowball rolling down hill, the lint will attract to itself and aid in the removing process. Once it’s removed, toss the lint into the garbage bag.
3. Use your vacuum cleaner and use a soft brush attachment to clean the screen. Turn on the vacuum and simply run the attachment over the screen. This will remove any remaining lint from the screen.
4. Now use the vacuum to remove any lint from the lint trap. Swap out the attachment on the vacuum for one with a longer neck. Once you’ve done that, turn on the vacuum and put the attachment as far into the lint trap as possible. Now work the attachment around the inside of the trap. The goal here is to remove any and as much of the residual lint as possible. Occasionally, you might want to pull the attachment out (since you won’t be able to see down the trap), and make sure the tip of the vacuum attachment is not clogged, which it often is. If so, just pull out the lint that’s clogging the attachment, put your hand against the end to check that it’s sucking clearly, and reinsert it into the trap.
5. Once the lint trap is clean, put the lint screen back into place. It’s as easy as it sounds, simply take the lint screen (now cleaned) and put it back into the cleaned lint trap.
Next: The Lint Vent
Depending on the design of your dryer, the vent will most likely be located on the back of the unit on either the top or bottom. Look behind the dryer to see how the lint vent is arranged–most often it’s a flexible aluminum tubing or aluminum piping. To access the vent, you’re more than likely going to have to pull the dryer away from the wall. Just make sure that there is nothing obstructing the tubing, or that the tubing is not pinched in a way that it will tear a hole in it from pulling it away from the wall.
1. Remove the dryers vent from the wall. Typically, there is a metal ring clamp that attaches the tubing to the dryer and to the wall, and that you can loosen/tighten with a screwdriver (typically flat head).
Once you loosen the clamp, the tubing should simply slide in and out of place around a pipe in the wall. Take two hands and gently pull on the tubing to remove it, making sure not to tear a hole anywhere. Do the same for the attachment on the dryer end, so that the tubing comes completely free of the wall and the appliance.
2. Clean both the vent and piping in the wall with your vent brush. Simply take the brush and work it as far into either the wall’s piping as possible. Once it’s as far in as it can be, gently pull the brush out of either the vent or piping. Be sure to turn the brush either clockwise or counter-clockwise while doing so. This will help to knock as much of the lint free as possible.
With the tubing you’ve now removed, you should be able to hold it up vertically over a part of the ground that you don’t mind getting temporarily dirty, and insert your brush into the top to clean it out.
By the time you remove the brush you should have a pile of lint on your floor. Repeat this process till you stop pulling lint from either the vent or piping.
3. Take your vacuum and clear out any remaining lint. Sometimes the brush just can’t remove all of the lint from either the vent or piping. Take your vacuum and use the long attachment to clear out as much lint as possible.
4. Put the dryer’s vent back into place. Now that you’ve cleaned both the vent and piping, take the vent and slide it back into place, and tighten the screws on the clamp on each end to reaffix it firmly.
5. If possible, go outside and clean the other end of the vent. In some cases the outside of the vent may not be accessible. However, if it is, take your vent brush and repeat step 2 to pull as much lint from this end of the vent as possible.
Thanks to all of your hard work, your dryer should now be running more efficiently. Depending on how often you use your dryer, it’s probably a good idea to perform this service every six months to a year.
If you’re looking for more ways to save energy around your home, try installing a water efficient shower head or flow valve adapter. Also, be sure to check out our other green home improvement projects: Green Living Ideas, after all, is a top 20 home improvement website!
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Making sure your dryer’s moisture sensor is clean and working properly is a great way to ensure your dryer is using energy efficiently. The moisture sensor does what it says it does–senses moisture. If you use the “auto-dry” setting on your clothes dryer, this sensor will keep tabs on when your clothes are dry, and turn the dryer off. This can save you a lot of money and reduce carbon emissions substantially.How it works:
Typically, the moisture sensor in your dryer consists of two metal bars mounted on a black plate. The two metal bars will protrude into the dryer drum and sense either the temperature or moisture inside the dryer during use. As the moisture dissipates, the current becomes weaker. When the sensors can no longer detect moisture in the drum, the dryer automatically turns off.Over time, this sensor can become dirty or covered in lint, preventing your dryer from being able to accurately sense when the clothes are dry. This will result in either under or over drying.
So to help keep your dryer working efficiently, simply follow these steps to clean your units moisture sensor.
Things you’ll need for the job:
- A Damp Rag
- A Dry Rag
1. Locate your dryer’s moisture sensor. In most cases, this sensor is found on the back wall of the dryer drum.
2. Take your damp rag and scrub the moisture sensor. All you should need to clean the sensor is a rag, water and a little bit of elbow grease. Get the rag damp with water, and scrub the moisture sensor bars vigorously. This should be more than enough to remove any dirt or lint that has been caked onto the sensor.
3. Take your dry rag and polish up the moisture sensor. Now, take your dry rag and dry off the moisture sensor completely. Giving the moisture sensor a good scrub with the dry rag should polish up the metal bars and have it looking as good as new.
4. Test your dryer to be sure it’s working properly. To do this, take your damp rag and toss it into the dryer. Now, turn the dryer to the “auto dry” setting and turn it on. If your dryer’s moisture sensor is working properly the dryer should run for a few minutes and stop once the damp rag is dry. If this is true, your dryer and its moisture sensor are working properly. If not, you may need to have the sensor replaced. Contact your dryer’s manufacturer to find out how to go about doing so.
Another great way to save money on your monthly electric bill is to search your home for “phantom loads“. In some cases, eliminating these phantom loads can save you as much as 10% on your monthly electric bill! A good place to start looking for these is with your washer and dryer.
Photo courtesy of Just Answer.
When I first found out about all the sustainability issues that the world was having with the controversial heat wave and corporate sludge drips into water systems– I admittedly felt a little panicked. I watched a few popular films on the topic and found myself deeply saddened and concerned for the future of the planet- the planet that would someday go to my children.
For a while, I felt immobilized by the conflict (as many do) and didn’t know how to take action. I felt alone and worn down by modern tribulation and making enough money to survive. I soon worked my way out of this slump and found myself taking tentative steps towards sustainability. Here are five things to help yourself step up and out to fight sustainability issues.
1. Educate yourself- While this is probably the step that led to a case of the heebie jeebies, keep up the research and focus on hopeful prospects. There are many amazing organizations working towards the same goal as you. Find them and support them however you can, and maybe consider joining one of them! There are many fields in the sustainability sector because sustainability is a full spectrum issue. Check out Growing Power and Natural Building for some inspiration.
2. Don’t Blame Yourself- Once awakened to problems involving water and recycling, etc., it can be easy to fall into blame cycles. Avoid blaming yourself and your small actions for the problems at hand (avoid blaming anyone, really) and simply observe the current structures at hand. While changing small actions is progressive action, avoid worrying to much about shower length and plastic bag consumption. Try your best to remember cloth bags and take shorter showers, but don’t inhibit your ability to feel well by worrying too much.
3. Find Supportive Groups- First hearing about the sustainability crisis, peak oil and climate change can lead to the desire to talk about the problems with others. If you find yourself ranting on facebook or over the counter of your local restaurant about the crisis at hand– and likely getting negative results, take a deep breath and a comfortable seat at your computer. Search out forums, blogs and local groups to interact with who are making a collective effort to educate their peers and make positive change. A group of people is significantly more powerful than an individual, and others are likely to listen to more people. This is a crucial time to avoid isolation and find a solid community.
4. Find Solace in Sustainable Activities- Whether you love hiking, biking or playing basketball- be sure and spend most of your time in the positive future of sustainable activities. Instead of focusing on the negative problems of the world, re-orient your thoughts and attention to positive actions that lead to progressive change. This will also help inspire those around you to turn off the t.v., get out of their cars and enjoy the great wonder of Earth.
5. Transition Slowly and Steadily- Make small steps towards personal sustainability and community sustainability. Take everything one simple step at a time. No need to spend much time worrying about large scale problems, point your compass towards home and you’ll find a way to make an impact. Many of us are working towards positive change, so join our ranks and never fear!
Love and Cheers!
Photo from Shutterstock
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A power strip can significantly cut your electric usage and bill. It does this by eliminating or reducing what are known as “phantom loads”. A phantom load is the amount of energy your electronic devices draw while they are either idling or turned off completely. That’s right, sometimes, even when an electronic device is fully “powered down” it can still be drawing power. While this isn’t necessarily true of some modern electronics, it’s quite often the case with older models. In some cases, eliminating phantom loads could save you as much as 10% on your monthly electric bill!
Timer strips are ideal for people that regularly leave home at a designated time most days and/or that generally sleep during the same time each night. For example, someone who works a traditional 9-5 job, a student who regularly attends classes, or people who generally sleep from 11 till 7…
Things you’ll need for the job:
- A Timer Strip
1. Plug your timer strip into an open wall outlet. Timer strips need to be plugged into a wall in order to work, but have no fear, these little guys draw very little power and will do far more to reduce your power consumption than add to it.
2. Plug all the electronic devices you want to control with the timer strip into it. Timer strips work best for bundling electronics that are used together, such as TV’s and stereo systems or modems and routers. In many cases the timer strip will feature eight outlets, four of which will be turned on and off by the timer, while the other four will be powered consistently.
3. Figure out when you do and don’t need to supply power to these devices. The best way to make use of your timer strip is to have it eliminating power while you’re either out of the house or asleep. So if you’re a person who works a 9-5 job and is usually in bed by midnight your “off times” could be from 9am-5pm and 12am-7am. Conversely, your “on times” could be 7am-9am and 5pm-12am. We recommend that you consider powering up devices in the morning so that can use them before heading out for the day.
4. Follow your timer strips instructions on how to program your “on” and “off” intervals. There are a wide number of different designs for timer strips, but most often you’ll encounter ones with either a digital display or turn dial. Your timer strip should come with a set of instructions, be sure to follow them when installing. For now, check out this video on how to program a digital timer strip.
By now your timer strip should be installed and function properly. If you notice that your timer strip isn’t turning on and off at the right times, consult the instruction manual that came with your timer strip. If you’re looking for more ways to save energy around the home, consider installing a smart strip or water efficient shower head. Both will help to reduce your monthly electric bill.
Photo courtesy of Pet Solutions.
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Checking and maintaining your cars tire pressure is an easy way to ensure it’s running efficiently. Not only that, it will help to reduce wear and tear, improve safety, improve gas mileage, saving you money in both gas and repairs over the life time of the vehicle. This might sound like it’s too good to be true, but I assure you it isn’t. Vehicle manufacturers started installing Tire Pressure Sensors in 2008, and according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, these monitors have saved drivers $510 million dollars in fuel costs. These monitors will notify drivers when the tire pressure in any of their vehicle’s tires drops below 25% inflation. Even if you own a car with such a monitor, it’s still a good idea to know how to manually check and maintain your tire’s pressure yourself. Just follow these easy steps.
Things you’ll need for the job:
- A Tire Pressure Gauge
- Air Compressor (you don’t need to own one–just have access to one)
Before doing any work in or around a car be sure that the motor is turned off, the vehicle is in park and the parking break is on.
1. Unscrew the caps to the valve stems on all four tires. Be sure to place the valve caps in your pocket or somewhere else that is safe. They’re fairly small and can be easily lost.
2. Take your pressure gauge and press the opening onto the valve stem of the tire. As you compress the tire gauge onto the valve stem it’s common to hear a little air escape from the tire. Don’t worry about this, in most cases the amount lost in testing the pressure is negligible. Hold the pressure gauge down for 2-3 seconds and then release it completely from the valve stem. If you’ve done this properly the gauge should look similar to the one in the picture at the beginning of this tutorial.
If you have a digital pressure gauge, a number should appear on the gauge’s display.
3. Take your reading and compare it against your car’s factory recommendations. The pressure gauge should be displaying a number, either digitally or on a sliding scale. Now open your driver side door and compare the number you have to what the factory recommends. This pressure will be displayed on a sticker inside the driver side door frame and/or in the owner’s manual. Note, that the front and rear tire pressures should be slightly different since the tires in the front of the vehicle help to support the weight of the engine.
4. Depending on your tire’s needs, either deflate or inflate the tire. If what you need to do is deflate the tire, simply take your pressure gauge and slightly compress it down onto the valve stem. You should start to hear air escaping from the down stem. Hold the gauge down for roughly 2-3 seconds and then compress it all the way down onto the stem. This should give you a new reading for the tire. Continue this process until you’ve deflated the tire to the appropriate pressure.
If you need to inflate the tire, you’ll do so using an air compressor. Take your air compressor, turn it on, and push the compressors nozzle all the way down onto the tire stem of the tire that needs inflating. You should be able to hear the tire filling with air as well as see the tire fill visually. Hold the compressor on for about 10 seconds and then remove it completely from the tire stem. Now, take your gauge and check the tire’s pressure. If it’s still below the factory recommendation, repeat this process until it’s just right.
5. Once all the tires are filled to their appropriate levels, replace the stem caps. Be sure to put a cap on every tire’s valve stem. If not, debris from the road can get lodged into the valve stem and this will cause a continual slow leak.
By now your car’s tires should be properly inflated and ready to go. If you’d like more ways to save money and be more efficient try implementing some of these tips for home energy efficiency, or give your home an energy efficiency makeover. Also, be sure to check out more of our green home improvement projects: Green Living Ideas, after all, it is a top 20 home improvement website!
Maintaining your A/C unit, regardless of style, is a great way to keep your home cool and using energy efficiently. Did you know that by just regularly cleaning your A/C’s filter you could improve its efficiency by as much as 15%? Also, by simply shading your A/C unit you could improve its energy efficiency by as much as 10%. Needless to say, your A/C unit represents a great opportunity to save both energy and money in your home. Try implementing some of these basic maintenance tips to help ensure your unit is running efficiently.
Things you’ll need for the job:
- Dry Towel
- Stiff Brush
- Fin Comb
- Bucket of Mild Soap and Water
- Wash Rag
- New Filter (potentially)
Before beginning any maintenance work on your A/C unit, be sure that there is no power running to it. You can do this by simply unplugging it, or flipping the breaker off that controls the power to your unit.
Properly maintaing your system may require the assistance of a trained professional. If you’re unsure about handling the project yourself, be sure to call a trained technician.
1. Clean or replace your A/C units filter. Depending on the type of filter you have you may be able to clean it, rather than replace it. However, if you’re going to replace it, do so with one that can be cleaned and re-used down the line. That way you’ll save money in the long run and prevent CO2 emissions from being created at the factory. Luckily, cleaning or replacing your units filter is a quick and simple task.
- If you have a window A/C unit, all you have to do is remove the front plate. This should just click in and out of place. Gently pull on the cover till it pops free.
- Next, remove the filter from the A/C unit and give it a thorough visual inspection. If your filter is made of cotton you won’t be able to re-use it. However, if your filter is made of polyurethane or another type of synthetic, you should be able to wipe it down and re-use it. Simply take your rag, soak it in a natural cleaning solution and wipe down both the front and back of the filter.
- Set it to the side and be sure to let it dry fully before re-installing.
- If you have a central A/C unit, you’ll likely find the filter in the main compartment of the A/C or in your furnace. It should be easy to get to, and should pull straight out from the furnace. Again, give it a thorough visual inspection and replace it with a re-usable filter if possible. Otherwise, simply wipe it down with your rag and cleaning solution and allow it to air dry before re-installing.
2. Clean your units condenser coils/fan. These coils help to direct the flow of air into your A/C unit. However, they tend to gather a fair bit of dust and debris and can be easily dented or warped. Ensuring that you have as much air flowing into your A/C unit as possible will help it to run more efficiently.
- If you’re servicing a window A/C unit, these coils should be exposed on the outside of the unit. Simply take your stiff brush and gently remove as much dirt and debris as you can.
- Throughout the process you’ll likely knock a fair bit of material loose from the coils. After you’ve given them a thorough scrubbing, take your vacuum cleaner and suck up any mess that may have resulted.
- Next, take your Fin Comb and gently work it “with the grain” of the coils to straighten out any kinks or dents. Be sure to use the appropriate size comb for your unit. Your tool should have multiple sizes to choose from.
- If you’re servicing a central A/C system, you’ll find the units condenser coils and fan outside of the home.
- These condenser coils and fan should have their own power supply, so be sure to turn it off before starting the process. It will be in a “shutoff box” located on the wall next to the appliance. Simply open the box and either turn the switch to off or pull the shutoff out.
- Now, take your screw driver and remove the screws that hold the lid in place. Once the screws are removed the lid should lift free. Set them to the side before continuing.
- Next, you’ll take your stiff brush and start scrubbing both the inside and outside of the condenser coils and fan.
- Once you’ve given them a good scrubbing, take your vacuum and remove any debris that may have fallen down inside the unit.
- The last thing you’ll want to do before piecing your system back together is straighten out any kinked or dented fins. So take your fin comb and gently work it “with the grain” of the coils to do so. Once you’re done, put the lid back in place and turn the power to you A/C unit back on.
By performing these simple maintenance tasks not only will your system run more efficiently, you’ll extend the life of your system all together. Which just adds up to more savings. If you’re looking for more ways to save on your cooling costs, try pairing your A/C with ceiling fans. Or, look into how smart landscaping can save you both money and energy around your home.
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Many people love our modern systems of heavily flavored delicious food, bright colorful media outlets and flashy appearances because it feeds our senses. Humans function primarily through their sensual eyes, mouths, noses, ears and hands. Stimulation of these senses can range from alarming to highly pleasurable. Marketers have highly paid sociologists working to utilize our animalistic sensual desires to create consumers of their product. Food chemists use this scientific data to create scents and tastes that can keep you hooked on french fries for ever. As one starts breaking away from modern structures, the body and mind can miss the excitement of highly stimulating inputs. Luckily, the earth is a glorious place and you can find highly stimulating, environmentally friendly inputs to make full use out of your human experience.
– Take the Time–
The first step to a sensual experience with nature is slowing down. Modern society is fast paced and flashy, feed the senses at a rapid rate and leaving the body/mind duo unsatiated even more quickly. As soon as the amaze and delight of the ice-cream passes, the body/mind is hungry again for something delightful. A bright flashy t.v. show might be the ticket, but again, as soon as it’s over, the pleasure ends soon after.
Take the time to feel every body part and enjoy the textures of your environment. Gaze in amazement at the setting sun. Delight in the exotic noises of the birds flitting about outside your office window. Try out the scent of a passing flower. Enjoy the strength with which the weeds grow through the oppressive sidewalk. As you slow down, each moment becomes ripe and full of sensual delight- endlessly for your personal enjoyment. This path also leads you to see the many unappealing things about modern society, and as you start to take notice check out this article to manage negative feelings!
– Spend Time in Gratitude –
When the mind/body duo gets a high volume of over-stimulation, thoughts can get a little jumpy. Modern anxiety and depression can be traced back to overstimulus, modern survival needs (aka money problems) and boredom or apathy which comes from that white sugar flashy media jolt that many people receive on the regular. While you take time to appreciate your natural surroundings and move away from modern structures of overstimulation, spend your thought space in gratitude and praise for the beauty around you. This is not an inherently religious practice, but can be similar to meditating or praying. Keep it simple and true to your own character.
– Share the Wonderment –
Sustainability geeks usually have gone through a some kind of advocacy phase where they try to convince everyone around them to give up their cars and modern appliances in exchange for berry gathering and goat milking. Instead of focusing on the problems at hand and trying to shake people aware of them, offer them gifts of your newly developed nature-appreciation goggles. Point out the beauty around you in the back of the blue butterfly flitting past you on an outdoor walk with your grandparents, or pick a wild flower for your special someone instead of buying plastic wrapped, fluorescent grown flowers from unsustainable greenhouses. Dandelions, echinacea and daisies are all beautiful flowers to share with your honey. Share in the wonderment of earth and find comfort.
Photo from Shutterstock
Installing and using a smart strip can be a great way to save money on your monthly electric bill. While this isn’t true of most new electronics, it’s quite common for older electronic devices to draw energy while they’re in both standby mode or “powered down”. This is commonly referred to as either a “phantom load” or “vampire power“. In some cases, vampire power can add as much as 10% to your monthly electric bill. Just follow these easy steps to install a smart strip and start saving on your electric bill.
Things you’ll need for the job:
- Smart Strip
1. Plug your smart strip into an open outlet. This will provide power to the smart strip so that it can actively save you money without drawing much, if any, power itself.
2. Plug the devices that always need to have power into the outlets labeled “constant” or “hot outlets”. These outlets should be clearly labeled on your smart strip. It’s not always necessary, but sometimes an electronic device will need to be constantly drawing power.
3. Plug your TV or main electronic device into the “control outlet”. An electronic device that is plugged into this outlet will control the power to all of the other outlets labeled “switched outlets” or ” automatically switched outlets”. When the device that is plugged into the “control outlet” goes into a standby mode or is turned off, the smart strip will register the change in power and automatically reduce or eliminate the power to all of the “switched outlets”. This effectively allows you to power down an entire entertainment system by simply turning off one device.
4. Plug your remaining electronics into the outlets labeled “switched outlets”. As mentioned before, the power to these outlets will be determined by the “control outlet”. A good example of devices to be plugged into these outlets are stereos, printers, scanners or other electronics that are used in conjunction with another electronic, such as your TV, computer or gaming system.
Your smart strip should now be plugged in and ready to start saving you money. Give it a test and try turning on the device plugged into the control outlet. Do the devices plugged into the “switched outlets” now have power? What about when you turn off the control device? If you’ve installed the smart strip properly, turning off the control device should power down the devices plugged into the “switched outlets” as well.
If you’re looking for more ways to save on your electric bill, try installing a water efficient shower head or a shower flow valve adapter. These devices will help reduce the amount of heated water you use, thus saving you on both your energy and water bills every month! Also, 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 N.C. State University.
Access to clean drinking water is essential for any community to survive and flourish. In fact, it was this need that compelled the Romans to build a series of aqueducts in 14 different countries, with their longest aqueduct spanning 250 kilometers! Now, just because water can get from one place to another doesn’t necessarily mean it’s “pure”. Much like the Romans, we pipe our cities supplies of fresh water from lands near and far, and thanks to modern technology it’s filtered and delivered straight to the tap in your home. Curious to see what might be actually coming out of the tap? Check out this info-graphic from Pelican Water:
This post was generously supported by Pelican Water.
Did you know that air leaks throughout your home contribute, on average, an extra 10%-30% on your electric bill? Given that the average american electric bill has only been rising for the last 10 years, finding and fixing these air leaks could be more important than ever before. Luckily, the process for finding some of these leaks is quick and inexpensive. Just follow these easy steps to stop your money from flying out the door or window.
Things you’ll need for the job:
- Candle or Incense Stick
1. Close all the windows and doors you want to test. The only way to be sure that you’ve found an air leak is to have all of your doors and windows closed. Doing so will help prevent you from getting a faulty test result. Any fans should also be turned off, basically you want to minimize any drafts that could be occurring in your home.
2. Light either a candle or stick of incense. Either the flame on the candle or the smoke from the incense will help you determine wether or not you have an air leak. Keep your lighter handy as you may need to relight either one.
3. Slowly take your candle or incense stick and move it around the edge of the door or window frame. Be sure to hold it straight up and down and keep an eye on either the flame or smoke. If at any point you notice the flame or smoke start to move in a horizontal direction (or move perpendicular to the frame) odds are you’ve spotted an air leak.
4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 for all of the door and window frames in your home. All it takes is one air leak somewhere in your home for your energy bill to start rising. So check and make sure that all your windows and doors are properly sealed.
5. Visually inspect the seals for any doors or windows with a suspected air leak. Sometimes dirt or other debris can get caught in the seal and prevent it from closing properly. Check and make sure that’s not the case with yours. If your seal is damaged in anyway, it’s probably time to have it replaced.
It’s probably a good idea to do this test once during both the winter and summer. As the wood in your home swells and shrinks with the change of seasons, it could cause an air leak to develop. This quick and simple test should help to reduce both your heating and cooling bills and keep your home working comfortably and efficiently. If you want more ways to make your home more energy efficient, check out this infographic on how smart landscaping can save you money.
Photo courtesy of City Wide Group.
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As mobile phones get more complicated, problems with battery life become more prevalent. There are a number of pages online that speak of ways to improve battery life though how do you know when it needs replacing? Nowadays, phones are no longer limited to simple functions such as call and text. Phones have become a very handy companion whenever you’re bored, or when you have time to kill and it is important to take care of your battery so it lasts for the life of the phone. But as even the most careful user cannot prevent life’s wear and tear on your mobile’s battery, you should learn how to identify a dying battery. Here are some of the signs that your phone’s battery needs replacing:
This may be the most obvious sign of a dying battery. Rechargeable batteries inevitably generate heat as they charge. However, if you notice that your gadget is excessively warm even on standby, it might be time to replace your battery.
Bloating or Swelling
Sometimes when a battery depletes, the internal cells rupture, causing a bulge to appear. To determine if your unit has been bloated, place it flat on a smooth, level surface. If it wobbles or doesn’t sit perfectly flat, a replacement battery is in order. If you neglect your battery and continue using it once bloated, your battery could explode so it’s best to have it looked at immediately by a professional.
Reduced Battery Life
The average lifespan of a mobile battery differs from one to two years, which equates to approximately 300 to 500 charges. Past the second year mark, your phone battery’s cycle may start to deteriorate. You may find yourself charging more frequently than you used to. Reduced battery life is a sign that you need to consider a replacement, dramatically decreased battery capacity is also a sign that you need a replacement immediately.
Phone shuts off automatically
When a unit’s capacity has shrunk, it will still register as full even if there’s very little power in it. This will cause the mobile to shut off unceremoniously. Although there are instances where the actual mobile phone is at fault, you can confirm it by using another battery in your device as a tester.
Visible corrosion or physical changes
Visible corrosion on or around your devices battery should should be taken as a serious call for a replacement battery, no matter how small the affected area is. Visible corrosion can be a sign of an internal issue that can cause permanent damage to your device if not looked at immediately.
Knowing where and how to get a proper replacement for your mobile battery is as important as taking care of your phone. With online shopping now at the touch of your fingertips, there are a number of reliable online retailers that can assist you with your battery needs. Look for options on online stores like A1 Battery Pro to familiarize yourself with the many options available on the market.
Photo courtesy of Digital Trends.
This post was generously supported by A1 Battery Pro.
There are several reasons you’ll want to make sure that the seals on both your fridge and oven are working properly. Among those are the money you’ll save on your energy bill, the reduction of carbon emissions and the piece of mind from knowing that you live in a healthy, energy efficient home. If you’ve noticed that your fridge isn’t staying as cold, your fruits and veggies are spoiling faster or that food is taking longer to bake, it’s time to check the seals. It only takes about a minute and costs virtually nothing to do. Not even the dollar bill you use for testing! Simply follow these steps to make sure the seals on your fridge and oven are working properly.
Things you’ll need for the job:
- A Dollar Bill (larger denominations work as well, though it’s probably not worth the risk
1. Open the door and visually inspect the seal. Be sure to look over the entire seal and take note of any cracks, tears, holes or areas where the seal has come loose. Given the severity of any one of these, the seal may need to be replaced altogether. Otherwise, try massaging the seal back into place to make sure you have a good connection between it and the door.
2. Take your dollar bill and place it part way across the seal and close the door. Make sure you leave enough of the bill showing so you can get a good grip on it for the test.
3. Gently pull on the dollar bill. If the seal is working properly there should be a little resistance preventing the bill from sliding out completely. However, if when you pull on the bill you don’t feel anything, odds are you’ve found a weak spot in the seal.
4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 around the entire seal. Check the entire seal to be sure that there aren’t multiple weak points. If so, it’s probably best to replace the seal all together.
It’s a good idea to perform the “dollar bill test” roughly once every 6 months. If you’re curious about other ways to save energy around your home, try looking for and eliminating vampire power.
Photo courtesy of Purposely Frugal.
Polyurethane is a very versatile material. It’s flexible, lasts a long time, and is used as an air sealant and for insulation in everything from mattresses to airplanes. Unfortunately it’s not great for your health, as it can cause skin and eye irritation, asthma, lung damage, other respiratory and breathing problems. The bad news it that it’s almost impossible to avoid polyurethane completely. The good news is that if you’re renovating your own home, into home repair or DIY, you can definitely make do without it. Here is a list of non-toxic alternatives to polyurethane.
1. Tung oil is made from the seeds of the nut of the tung tree. This tree is native to China and is named after for its heart-shaped leaves – ‘tung’ means ‘heart’ in Chinese. Tung oil is often used as a finisher and is said to improve the ‘character’ of the wood. Waterlox is a tung oil and resin mix that claims to ‘elevate the appearance of any wood floor’.
2. Linseed oil is obtained from the dried seeds of the flax plant and is often recommended for treating wood. It is available in various mixes, if you can’t get hold of it in pure form. Some tips on how to use linseed oil and other natural alternatives can be found here.
Eco House Hardwood Floor Oil contains Linseed standoil, Chinese wood oil, purified linseed oil, pine resin ester, microwax, # 115 Citrus Thinner, lead-free driers, and rosemary oil, and meets the criteria for being nontoxic. Bioshield Hard Oil is a linseed and tung mix that claims to be durable, water resistant and recommended for ‘high-moisture and high-traffic areas such as baths and kitchens’.
3. Candelilla wax is derived from the leaves of the Candelilla shrub and its growth is monitored to ensure that it is sustainable, so it gets extra points for minimal environmental impact. Some vegans swear by it as a bee-free alternative to polyurethane, and it’s certainly non toxic as it’s often used in beauty products instead of beeswax.
4. Bio Paints claim to use environmentally-friendly, non-toxic materials in their products and they recommend Hard Varnish as an alternative to polyurethane because it ‘enhances timber floors and surfaces, and protects against water-marking and stains from spills’
5. AFM Safecoat has a reputation for selling environmentally conscious ‘least toxic’ products, and it offers a range of varnishes and sealants. You can pick the one that best suits your needs through the catalog on their website.
As much as we all wish to avoid rampant consumerism, we are in fact consumers and must engage in that behavior to meet our needs. Being a consumer does not mean we need to have blatant disregard for the environment and world we live in however. By being an informed consumer that is willing to take a few extra minutes to do the right thing rather than always in a rush to do the fastest thing, we can do our part to keep the world greener while at the same time meeting the needs of our family and keeping the budget in check.
Grocery Shopping for Health
The vast majority of us must purchase most of our food. The self-sustaining family farm disappeared from the landscape many years ago. While the convenience of processed boxed food took over large portions of the store shelves, you do not need to use that as your source of meals. Shopping in the organic food section and preparing meals will be far healthier for you and the environment we know, but what about the budget?
That depends on what you are going to compare costs of. While on the surface one might think organic foods are far more expensive than processed foods it really depends on what you are talking about buying. While the $3 TV Dinner seems like quite a bargain, if you took the weight of the meat and the vegetables off from additives, water added, the fact that the meat is processed byproduct, and the vegetables are culls that were not in good enough condition to be sold as produce without chopping and covering in a sauce then it is not much of a bargain at all.
Projects around the Home
Doing remodeling, repairs, and upgrades gives you an excellent opportunity to embrace a greener, more eco-conscious lifestyle. By choosing renewable and naturally sustainable materials in home projects it not only allows your vote to be cast on what products building materials should consist of, it can also make a cleaner and healthier environment for your family free from chemical toxins and pollutants that leach into the air inside your home.
To make an even bigger impact, do some research on the places you choose to hire to work around your home. As an example, if building an addition or garage while choosing the natural materials to use in your addition is important, you also need to look at what you are doing to the environment when make this addition. Hire contractors or companies that share your commitment to the environment and make it clear as a company policy or at th every minimum ask the contractor what will be happening while they do the work.
A responsible construction outfit will be able to tell you how the debris from the project will be handled and recycled and have an environmental impact policy in place. If they are doing excavating as is a common step in many projects, ask not only where they will be getting the replacement gravel and topsoil they put in your yard (that your children and pets will be playing on for years), but where they will be dumping any excavated soil so you do not become an unintended participant in damaging the environment. When consumers care about the environment and make it known, so do the companies they hire and do business with.
Photo courtesy of Intellectual Revolution. This post was supported by Scott-JCB.
Recycling is rapidly becoming the most popular way to dispose of household and business waste. And with many reports now showing that recycling is more beneficial to the planet than our traditional ways of getting rid of rubbish, which include incineration and landfill, this trend is set to rise even further.
There are now even businesses such as SCRAP Creative Reuse in Leeds who collect excess business waste and then sell it to art professionals at reduced rates for building and crafting materials. A resourceful re-use and re-purposing of rubbish that would otherwise go to landfill.
Local communities are also starting to get involved with many online petitions being formed. Others have asked local councils for better access to quality recycling services either in the form of door to door collection or large recycling centres, that are conveniently located to ensure that they will be sued to the maximum potential. Construction contractors like JP Concrete are starting to recognise the demand for construction materials that will stand up to the demands of large and well used sites and are providing specialist services to ensure that the needs of the constructions staff, designers and service users are all being met.
The Economic Influence
It is interesting that recycling has started taking off given the current economic climate we are living in. As wallets shrink, people become much more involved with the principals behind recycling such as reducing waste, reusing goods, re-purposing objects and recycling materials to create new from old. When times are tough the natural resourcefulness of human nature is what helps us prevail and get through the bad times successfully, and this time it seems like we might be interested in helping our planet too.
The Benefits of Recycling
Recycling is great for the planet for so many reasons, far too many to even list here let alone go into any detail. But the basics are that if we don’t stop stripping our planet of its natural resources without somehow replenishing its stores then eventually we are going to run out of these fossil fuels. Leaving us with potentially limited resources. As such, taking a proactive approach and developing ways of stretching natural resources through the ‘reduce, reuse, repurpose and recycle’ ethos is key to ensuring our successful survival in the future.
If you have a further interest in recycling, want to learn more and maybe even get involved then take the time to read this thorough explanation of why recycling is good and how to go about getting started by Friends of the Earth.
Photo courtesy of Keep Calm-o-Matic. This post was supported by JP Concrete.
The post Recycling: The Resourceful Attitude Which is Saving the World appeared first on Green Living Ideas.
Let’s face it, doing the dishes is a part of daily life and while that may be the case, exposure to some very common and toxic chemicals shouldn’t be. When was the last time you looked at the ingredients in your dish detergent? Can you not only pronounce, but understand what each one of them is and does? Odds are you’re like me and can maybe pronounce half of them, but that’s as far as I get. To help you live a greener and healthier lifestyle we’ve come up with a list of eight ingredients (aka chemicals) you should avoid in your dish detergents.
Phosphates - These are often used as a water-softening mineral and act as a fertilizer in water and are hazardous to consume for both ourselves and marine life. If concentrations of this type of chemical are too high in water, they can deplete oxygen levels and promote the growth of certain algae which are toxic to consume. Try switching to a brand that is phosphate free to avoid inadvertently raising the level of this chemical in our water supply.
Triclosan - This type of synthetic chemical is often added to dish detergents due to its antibacterial, anti-fungal and antiviral properties. This is the chemical that often qualifies a cleaner as “antibacterial”. However, this chemical is hazardous to our hormones and disrupts our body’s natural thyroid and endocrin systems. This chemical is also often attributed to the growth of “superbugs” since it bioaccumulates in the human body.
SLS (sodium lauryl sulfate)/SLES (sodium laureth sulfate) - This type of chemical is what gives your dish detergent its foamy property and allows it to cut through grease. While the bubbles are nice to see, they aren’t nice to absorb. This chemical absorbs through your skin and can lead to 1,4-dioxane contamination. It’s also been known to cause rashes and allergic reactions.
Fragrance: Any given fragrance mixture can contain up to 3,000 chemicals. Which, over time can coat themselves onto plates, forks, cups etc. and eventually be ingested. We recommend going with a dish detergent that gets its fragrance from natural essential oils.
DEA (diethanolamine), MEA (monoethanolamine), TEA (triethanolamine) - These chemicals have been found to disrupt hormones in the human body and are known for creating nitrates and nitrosamines. There is also a risk of developing 1,4-dioxane contamination if you’re regularly exposed to these types of chemicals.
Chlorine - Also known as sodium dichloroisocyanurate, this chemical has ben listed on both the EPA’s Community Right-To-Know list and the 1990 Clean Air Act. It is extremely toxic to fish and releases chlorine into the air when it’s being used to clean your dishes.
Formaldehyde - This chemical is a known carcinogen and might appear on your detergent label as methanol, methyl aldehyde and methylene oxide. It’s added to detergents along with preservatives so that overtime it is slowly released as a preventative to bacterial contamination. However, concentrations of this chemical are toxic within the human body.
Ammonia - This chemical is extremely toxic and should be avoided. Many people aren’t aware that ammonia, even if in “trace” amounts, is present in their dish detergents. If combined with bleach to create a cleaning solution, the two will release fumes that can cause damage to your eyes, respiratory tract and skin.
So, if you’re convinced that your current dish detergent just won’t work for you anymore, try switching to this at home recipe. You can also avoid adding chemicals to the water system by using this natural drain cleaner or skip the chemicals all together by using a sink plunger!
Photo courtesy of Matt’s Wisdom.
Eczema, dermatitis, psoriasis. If you suffer from any of these skin conditions, you know that the words I’m thinking of are ‘inflammation’ and ‘itch’. Thankfully there are some natural remedies that have been found to help with these conditions by soothing, moisturising or healing the skin, or through tackling the root of the problem and reducing the symptoms of inflammation and itchiness. One person’s skin can be very different to another’s and because of this variation what works for one person may not work for another, so it’s always worth trying safe natural remedies at least once, starting with..
1. Coconut Oil
Today coconut oil is sold as healing everything from Alzheimer’s to thyroid complaints, and every manner of skin complaint whether applied topically or eaten raw. But is there really any chance that it might improve the health of your skin?
One study compared the effects of coconut oil and virgin olive oil on people with atopic dermatitis who are prone to problems from the presence of Staphylococcus aureus (SA). SA is bacteria that is often found in higher quantities on the skin of people with eczema and dermatitis. After 4 weeks of applying coconut oil on their skin, the participants who used virgin coconut oil on their skin had less SA and healthier skin in general.
There are so many proposed health benefits offered by coconut oil that it’s worth using it on your skin and adding it to your diet as well. As well as using coconut oil on your skin, there are many easy ways to add it to your diet here, but a favourite of mine is using it cooking instead of normal vegetable oil.
Buy organically-sourced coconut oil where possible and keep it in a cool place at home as it melts easily. If you find that the oil is hard when you open the tub, scoop some out and leave it in a dish to sit at room temperature for a while – this should soften it up for use.
For some time now people have believed that taking probiotics or ‘friendly bacteria’ has many health benefits, and some of these benefits are being demonstrated by science. One such claim is that taking probiotics will half the risk of eczema for children, so a study looked at the effect of early probiotic supplementation, ie taking it in pregnancy, until 6 months afterwards if the mother is breastfeeding.
Two types of probiotic bacteria were trialed – some of the pregnant women in the study were given Lactobacillus rhamnosus, and others took Bifidobacterium animalis subsp lactis. Their infants were then tested for allergies at 2 years of age. The results found that the infants receiving L rhamnosus had a significantly lower risk of eczema, but this was not the case for B animalis subsp lactis. The researchers concluded that supplementation with L rhamnosus, but not B animalis subsp lactis, helps to reduce cases of eczema by 2 years of age. Unfortunately results were less successful when one of the parents had eczema, ie the skin condition was inherited.
Buy your probiotics from a reputable company and store them in a cool place as heat can kill friendly bacteria. For the same reason, only take them with cold drinks. I suggest starting with a small dose and working your way up over time, if you don’t notice any effects after several weeks of use. If you don’t want to take them in capsule form, open up each capsule and mix the contents into a beverage or yogurt. Probiotics are generally recommended after a dose of antibiotics, too, to restore friendly bacteria that has been killed by the medication.
3. Vitamins E and D
A study found that participants who were given vitamins D and E for atopic dermatitis had significantly improved symptoms. These vitamins are essential for skin health and recommended daily amounts are usually placed at well below how much the human body actually needs, so you need to work out what your needs are. Before taking a supplement first look at your diet – are you getting enough of these vitamins? If not look at adding natural sources to your diet, such as wheatgerm oil, sunflower seeds, avocados, almonds, and a useful list of how much Vitamin E different foods contain is available here, For Vitamin D try to ensure enough exposure to sunlight every day and if you live in a climate that doesn’t allow that then you may need to consider occasional UV treatment from sunbeds, but only as an extreme measure. Fortified fat spreads and breakfast cereals are easier ways to add more Vitamin D to your diet. Vitamin D is also available in a pure spray form if you want to avoid taking too many tablets.
4. Aloe Vera Extract
A study found that an aloe vera extract of 0.5% helped to cure patients with psoriasis vulgaris. Patients between the ages of 18 and 50 years applied the cream to their skin at home 3 times a day for 5 days a week. The participants were then examined every week, and the results were that general skin health was improved over time. In fact, by the end of the study, the aloe vera extract cream had cured 25 out of 30 patients of this specific condition. Aloe vera extract is easy to get hold of in health food stores and I recommend seeking out a 0.5% dose in a standard base cream. As no side effects were reported with its use this is worth a try for all dry skin conditions, especially if you are prone to lesions, as the study found a reduction of lesions thanks to the extract.
The herb marshmallow is not the same as the candy you roast over a campfire, but it may bring you just as much joy. The Arabs are thought to have once made poultices from Marshmallow herb leaves in order to reduce skin inflammation.
Research has also found that marshmallow is good for skin inflammation, so it might help with all manner of skin conditions. marshmallow is available to use as a tea, tincture, and in capsule form. If you’re feeling ambitious you can grow it at home and use the leaves as a poultice as well. As with all natural remedies, speak to a doctor before using marshmallow as it can interact with other medications, for example medicine prescribed for diabetes.
6. Epsom Salts
There is no scientific evidence that epsom salts help to heal skin conditions but some people have reported positive results and some actually swear by them, and there’s no harm in trying them. Epsom salts are said to be mineral-rich and to turn rough, dry skin into smooth, soft skin, through exfoliation dead skin cells and killing unwanted germs on the skin.
Epsom salts are best used in the bath, but it’s important not to stay in the water too long as this can dry out your skin even more. You also need to keep the water at a lukewarm temperature, not too hot as this can also be drying. After bathing in the salts for 10 to 15 minutes, gently dry your skin and apply a moisturizer. Your skin should feel refreshed and soothed.
Equally, a dip in the sea will have the same effect – so now you have another reason to visit the beach this summer!
Disclaimer: I am not a licensed doctor or herbalist. Please consult a doctor or medical provider for medical issues and before self-remedying, especially if you are taking prescription medication.
When it comes to making your home more energy efficient, cleaning your fridges condenser coils or fan might be one of the cheapest ways to accomplish just that. It’s a task that doesn’t require much in the way of technical equipment or know how, rather you just need to know where to look. By keeping your fridges condenser coils or fan clean, you could improve its energy efficiency by as much as 9kWh a month. While that may not seem like a lot, over the course of 10-15 years that could add up to as much as $500 or more.
Things you’ll need for the job:
- Stiff Brush
- Vacuum Cleaner with a Hose Attachment
- Dust Mask
1. Unplug your fridge. If you’re going to be working near any sort of an electric motor, it’s best to make sure that there is no power running to it while your working in or around it. After all, safety first! To get to the power cord you might have to pull the fridge away from the wall. Once you’ve found the plug, simply unplug it.
2. Locate the fridges condenser coils or fan. Depending on the design of your fridge, its condenser coils or fan could be in one of two places. They will either be in the front or back of the fridge and will likely have some sort of grate or covering to help protect them from collecting dust and lint.
3. Remove the grate in front of the coils or fan. In some cases the protective grate simply snaps in and out of place. If this is true of your fridge, gently pull on the grate until it pops free. However, if your fridge’s protective grate is held in place by screws you’ll need to remove those first. After you’ve removed the screws with your screwdriver the grate should lift free.
4. Scrub both the protective grate and coils or fan. By now, it should be very apparent just what needs to be scrubbed. So take your stiff brush and remove any dust or other debris as best you can. Be sure to remove as much as you can, since any left over dust or debris will prevent the condenser coil from working as efficiently as possible. However, be careful not to dent or damage any coils in the process. It might also be a good idea to dawn your dust mask before starting this process.
5. Clean up. Now that you’ve likely created a giant dust bunny on your floor, take your vacuum and run it both on and around the condenser coils or fan. Be sure to suck up any debris that has fallen down onto the floor during the cleaning process. Remember, the idea is to remove as much of the debris as possible. After you’ve gone over the area once, take your flashlight and give your coils or fan a thorough visual inspection. You may have to go back and re-scrub any areas that were particularly dirty.
6. Replace the protective grate and move the fridge back into place. At this point your condenser coils or fan should be cleaned up and ready to go. Simply put the protective grate back in place, plug in the fridge, and push it back into it’s appropriate place in the kitchen.
If you’re looking for more ways to save energy in your home, try implementing some of these energy conservation tips.
Photo courtesy of Jim’s Projects.
The post How to Clean Your Refrigerators Condenser Coils Or Fan appeared first on Green Living Ideas.
When someone mentions the phrase, “conserving water”, what comes to mind? For some people it might be images of tumble weeds blowing in the wind, cracks in the ground of a dried up lake or a harsh and unforgiving desert. How about your toilet? Did that happen to cross your mind? Thankfully for all of us it crossed the mind of Jeff Nasrallah.
10 years ago Jeff began toying with this idea of saving water and what he eventually came up with does not only that, it saves you money too! For Jeff and so many other people, conserving water is about more than just saving money, it’s an opportunity to make the world a healthier place. And the best part, is that you don’t have to change any of your usage habits. By simply installing and using the TapNFlush you’ll save every time you flush.
His invention, The TapNFlush, is also a great way to start helping those in need. Not everyone has access to clean drinking water, but with every TapNFlush purchased, they’ll donate part of the proceeds to help ensure more people have access to clean drinking water around the world.
Check out this video to see just how quick and easy it is to start saving and helping those in need.
Why not give the TapNFlush a try? If it doesn’t fit your toilet they guarantee a full refund, plus it’s free shipping! Frankly, I don’t see how you could really go wrong. If you want to find other ways to conserve water in your home, try reading this article on the top 5 water saving devices. Or, check out this list of 100 water conservation tips.
Are you looking for an easy way to be more efficient with both your water and electricity use, but don’t want to drastically change your daily routines? If so, you’re in luck. By swapping out your old shower head for one that’s more efficient you’ll accomplish both of your savings goals, and the best part is you won’t have to change any of your daily usage habits. Every heated gallon of water used in your home contributes to both your water and electric bills, so by installing a more efficient shower head you’ll reduce the work load on both. Thus, you’ll be saving money on both of your monthly utility bills and eliminating CO2 emissions in process!
Things you’ll need for the job:
- A Water Efficient Shower Head (rated from 1.25-2.5 gallons per minute)
- Teflon Tape
1. Remove your old shower head. To do this, simply turn the entire unit to the left. If the old shower head doesn’t move independently of the water line, try using your wrench to get it started. Once it’s loosened, continue unscrewing the old shower head till it comes off completely.
2. Apply a thin layer of teflon tape to the threaded end of the water line. Take your teflon tape and place a thin layer of it around all the threads in the water line. This will help to ensure a snug fit between your new shower head and water line. Once you’ve covered all the threads, take your scissors and remove any excess tape.
3. Attach your new, more efficient shower head. Simply take the new shower head and screw it onto the threaded end of the water line. It doesn’t need to be much more than finger tight, so take your wrench and give it a slight turn to be sure it’s attached securely. Remember, turning it to the right will tighten it.
4. Test your shower head to be sure it’s installed properly. Now that you’ve got the new shower head in place it’s time to test it. Turn on your shower as you would normally and watch to see if any water leaks from around the shower head. If so, you probably just need to tighten it. However, if your shower is working properly your good to go.
Now all you have to do is stick to your daily routine, and in doing so you’ll use less water and electricity in the process. If you’re curious about other ways that you can save, check out this article on saving energy by saving water.
Photo courtesy of Leduc and Dexter Plumbing.