2014 - Our Daily Green

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

#ShareATree with Green is Universal

Earlier in the month, we participated in the #ShareATree ceremony during the lighting of the Rockefeller Christmas Tree in NYC. It was especially poignant this year, because earlier in November, I had seen the tree brought into the city. A moment of true serendipity, since Our Daily Green is based in Ohio.

But more important than seeing the tree is being invited to participate in NBC's Green is Universal campaign that has partnered with the Arbor Day Foundation. From the website:

Every year, Green is Universal and the Arbor Day Foundation partner to give a gift to the environment—with your help. When you #ShareATree, you’ll be sharing a tree planted by the Arbor Day Foundation.

To get started, click on the "Decorate a Tree" button below. Or, share a tree created by an NBCUniversal celebrity by clicking on the star at the top of their tree. Spread the word on social using #ShareATree. For every 25,000 trees shared, we're donating an additional $5,000 to the Arbor Day Foundation!*

Friday, December 19, 2014

Benefits of having a quality utility company

Having constant access to electricity and heat in your home is a practical necessity nowadays. In order to have access to these services, you will need to hire a home utility company to provide them to you. Once a home utility company, such as Palmco, has initiated services in your home, you will be assured that you will have constant access to both electricity and heat. While it is very important to have these core services, home utility companies can provide a number of different services as well.

One service that a home utility company will be able to provide you with is repairs of your existing equipment in your home. The company will be able to service a wide range of different appliances including boiler, hot water heaters, HVAC systems, hot water tanks, and other items which you will rely on. These repairs can including either routine maintenance or major repairs, both of which can greatly extend the useful life of your products.

While the home utility company can greatly extend the useful life of your home equipment, there may be a time when the items need to be replaced immediately. In these situations, the home utility company will be able to help with the installation of the equipment. This will largely ensure that any gas lines running to the devices are installed properly and fully functional. This will help to reduce the risks of any gas leaks.

While many of the services provided by the utility companies are routine, there may come a time in which you need emergency service. The utility companies will employ 24 hour dedicated service representatives who will be able to answer your call if you happen to smell a gas leak. The emergency service providers will be able to tell you how to turn off the gas access to your home and will then be able to have a technician come out to your home as soon as possible to diagnose the location of the leak.

electricity and natural gas serviceUtility companies will also be able to provide you with tips on how to reduce your energy costs. The utility companies will frequently update their social media accounts and website with helpful tips on how to be more energy efficient in your home. The tips will normally be updated to be relevant based on the time of the year and average temperature outside.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Cleaning your solar panels

Everyone who has solar panels installed at their home or business knows the value of these systems. Solar panels are good for the environment as they limit the reliance on electricity. Not only do the panels reduce your carbon footprint, they reduce your energy costs. While there are numerous benefits to having solar panels, they will need to undergo maintenance periodically. Many people know that they need to repair any broken panels. However, the same level concern is not given to cleaning solar panels. Here are three reasons to hire a solar panel cleaning firm in Brisbane to keep your solar panels in working condition.

Helps Your Solar Panels Last Longer

Businesses and homes schedule solar panel repairs in Brisbane fairly often. Regular maintenance helps you to detect issues before they become expensive, major problems. Having your panels cleaned regularly can prolong the life of your panels. Even though solar panels can last for 20 years, their components need regular cleaning and maintenance. Being negligent in maintaining your panels can cause problems that can affect your entire system.

Helps to Ensure That Your System is Running Properly

During your scheduled cleaning, a CEC solar panel cleaning expert will not only clean and inspect your panels to make sure they are running properly. If your solar panels are not functioning correctly, you could negatively affect your quality of life and experience a decrease in energy efficiency.

Prevent a Void in Your Warranty

Scheduling preventative maintenance for your solar panels is required under Australia Standard AS5033. You are required to have your solar panels inspected regularly or risk voiding your warranty and service provider agreement. Even missing one appointment can void your warranty. Without your warranty, you will be held financially responsible for any repairs to your solar panels. Solar panel repairs can be costly. Why risk the expense if you do not need to so?

When you have your solar panels cleaned, you can expect the company you select to schedule regular cleanings and a yearly audit and inspection. During these inspections, any problems with your solar panels will get fixed and runs properly. Look into solar panel cleaning companies to see if any offer any maintenance packages. These packages will help you save money on cleaning and repair services. Solar Service Guys are known for their repair and cleaning work. They are leaders in solar panel repair and help homes and businesses keep their solar panels in good, operating condition.

We'd like to thank today's sponsor for this valuable information about caring for solar panels. 
To find out more information, visit http://solarserviceguys.com.au/. 

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

GreenHab the Office (infographic)

While you most likely practice recycling and energy saving at home, it’s critical to be an active participant in helping your office reduce its carbon footprint. Cafe Quill has created an infographic entitled “GreenHab the Office”. From starting a recycling program at your office, to smart ways to conserve energy, this infographic has tons of great tips to making your office as green as possible. For instance, did you know that 60-70 percent of all printer cartridges end up in landfills? By starting a printer cartridge recycling program at your office, you could save hundreds of printer cartridges from a slow death in a landfill.

GreenHab Office
Courtesy of: Quill.com

"image source: http://cafe.quill.com/greenhab-office/"

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

[Giveaway] SunJack Portable Solar Charger

Sunday, November 2, 2014

A Free Fruit-for-All (reprint from Otherwords)

Along with the apples, plums, and figs, community orchards yield common dreaming

I got back from the airport just in time for the last half hour of Cider Fest, one of the Bloomington Community Orchard’s large public events.
This publicly owned and volunteer-run organic orchard occupies a single acre. Entering its fifth year, it has become an important part of the Indiana city’s eco-system, to which the over 200 people who attended this year’s Cider Fest are testament.
At this event we mingle apples harvested from the orchard with apples community members bring with them, pouring them into the antique cider press the orchard’s resident beekeeper shares for the day.
There’s face painting and just about every kind of apple-themed baked goods you can imagine.
When I was walking toward the gathering, a child bumped into my leg, looked up at me with his face painted like a cat’s, smiled, and ran off after some other kids — half of them clutching ripe apples in their little hands.
It’s easy enough for me to remember this orchard, with its numerous varieties of 100 or so fruit trees (apples, peaches, pears, plums, paw paw, cherries, jujubes, figs, and more) and equal number of fruit bushes, vines, and flowers, as little more than a flat expanse of mowed grass. A few years ago, it was just a dead zone between a park and the road beyond it.
But the community dreamed of an orchard available for all, where if there were a fence (which there is, for we have deer a’plenty), it would never keep a person out. At this orchard, the beautiful hand-wrought gate has no lock: Everyone’s welcome.
Of course the orchard began — as much as we can say a thing begins — with a young woman thinking about food security, which simply means having regular access to safe, nutritious food.
Many individuals and communities around the world suffer from a lack of food security, for all kinds of reasons. One is an under-utilization of productive, food-growing space. In other words, we need to reconsider where gardens and farms and orchards might exist.
Amy Countryman researched the Indiana city’s urban canopy — its managed trees — to find out how much of it produced food. Less than 2 percent, it turns out. So she suggested we do something about that.
When she approached Bloomington’s forester with her proposal for a free fruit-for-all community orchard from which the harvest would go to whoever needed some, he quickly jumped on board and secured for the project an acre plot of land and some seed money.
Large community meetings followed, committees were formed, and the hard work of building the dream began: remediating the soil, building compost, securing grants, designing the site, selecting trees, and more.
Hundreds, if not thousands, of people from the community and beyond pitched in. This diverse crowd earned blisters and sore backs as they sweated through their shirts to help to build their collective dream — to help feed their neighbors. Bloomington being a city (albeit a small one), most folks don’t know all their neighbors.
This common dreaming, in addition to apples and plums and figs, is the real fruit of this orchard. The orchard is a way for us to imagine how to better care for one another. How better to love one another. One kid over there chomps an apple. Another slurps some cider. Who knew the simple joy our labors and our love could make?
Ross Gay is a poet, gardener, and teacher living in Bloomington, Indiana. His books include Bringing the Shovel Down and the forthcoming, Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude (U Pitt Press, 2015). He works with Split This Rock.Distributed via OtherWords.org

Creative CommonsExcept where otherwise noted, content from Otherwords is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative 3.0 License.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Storage options for every home

Are you struggling with a general lack of storage space? Are you tired of having things out on your counters because there’s simply nowhere to put them? Even if you live in a small home, you don’t have to accept a cluttered environment. There are ways to get organized and give yourself the extra space you deserve.

  • Purge and Purge Again

Even if you've purged before, there may still be items you can let go of. The simplest and fastest solution is to get rid of the items that you don't love, use or need. As they leave the house, you'll have more space to enjoy.

  • Smart Organizing

Containers, bins and baskets can help you get organized. When you toss all of the small first aid items in one neat bin, then you can easily access everything without having items fall over. Go with plastic bins with lids so that you can stack items and fit more into a small space.

  • Home Value and Storage go Hand in Hand

The best option by far is to turn the problem over to the professionals. Let a contractor take your closets apart and rebuild them with smart storage solutions. They'll provide you with space for hanging clothes, neat shelves for stacked items, and clever drawers for those smaller things. You'll suddenly have more space for your stuff, and you’ll also make your home more appealing to future homebuyers.

If you're tired of struggling with a lack of storage space, you can order here to have your closets transformed. You deserve to have the storage space you need, and it may be closer than you think when you work with the professionals.

Thank you for today's sponsor to help us learn effective and useful ways to practice the first of the three R's, reduce. 

Monday, October 27, 2014

Adventures in remodeling and working with vendors

Earlier this year, Mr. Daily Green and I decided to remodel our master bathroom. There were a couple of reasons for this decision. It started with damaged shower grout, that we knew was causing floor damage (we soon learned how significant indeed). But as we were gathering quotes to fix the shower, we realized that if we were going fix one thing, we should fix all of them. "As long as we were tearing things apart" was our rationale. Thus began our journey into remodeling. One of the first places we started was the online retailer Westside Wholesale. Their company stocks a variety of remodeling items at fair prices. We loved the way we could search for Made in the USA items on their site. Additionally, they have an Energy Saver search function that really helped us make wise choices.
Moen faucets
As a green minded person, I also had to trust our contractor not to throw out anything simply because we could no longer use it. In fact, we've arranged for Habitat for Humanity Re-Store to pick up our old vanity, mirror, shower doors and toilet, knowing that it could be useful for another homeowner. We also have set the scrap copper pipes aside for recycling.

We opted to upgrade from a single sink vanity to a double necessitating the need for new bathroom faucets. We were happy to learn that Westside Wholesale carried MOEN products, as they are not only a quality company, but they are Ohio-based. We love to shop local businesses and we're in Ohio, so it was a match made in heaven. Or at least local shopping bliss.

We chose the streamlined Moen Eva style faucet. Isn't it pretty? But truthfully, pretty wasn't my goal. My goal was a faucet that didn't have a lot of nooks and crannies of details that would be easy to wipe down and keep clean, as well as had built in water conserving features. This faucet is a WaterSense/Eco-Performance product. It features flow optimizing aerators to use less water but still offer excellent product performance.

Our Daily Green is honored to be able to work with Westside Wholesale. As a disclosure, they gave us a credit to choose our faucets for our project. The remodeling work is underway, and we look forward to reporting back about our experience with them. 

Handling the bounty of Fall with #BallJars

As the gardening season winds down, Our Daily Green has grudgingly and slowly said goodbye to our fresh offerings from our garden. Over the past several years, however, we have rekindled a love of preserving our food for the winter, either via canning or freezing. For this reason, we contacted our friends at Ball canning jars to inquire about working together.

Much to our delight, they sent us a case of Ball Heritage Collection canning jars in our FAVORITE color, GREEN! These translucent limited edition green glass canning jars are inspired by vintage design and custom embossing.

As is a Fall tradition in the Daily Green home, we hold an annual clambake. This year, we were contemplating how what to do with all the extra broth but I knew that answer. The answer was to save the broth and can it for delicious soups, stews and broths over the winter.

It is important to understand the importance of preserving food in jars designed for canning. Commercially prepared food comes in a lower grade of glass that is more susceptible to shattering than Ball canning jars. The potential danger of shattered glass combined with boiling water and hot food is one to avoid. From their website:
Ball canning jars are expertly crafted with premium-quality seals that keep out air to preserve freshness, nutrition and flavor. Custom time-tested sealing compound ensures a full, tight seal. Coating under lid prevents natural food acids from reacting with lid. The trusted canning source for generations, these collectible green glass canning jars with lids are the perfect presentation for home-canned or home-baked gifts. Ball jars are crafted for quality -- sealed for freshness. Also ideal for dry storage or craft supplies. Side measurement markings include ounces and milliliters. Dishwasher-safe. Regular-mouth pint jars or wide-mouth quart jars. Made in the USA. 
In 1884, the Ball Brothers Glass Manufacturing Company in Buffalo, New York, started producing fruit and canning jars to help people preserve their garden-fresh produce. Today Ball canning products excel as the worldwide leader in home food preservation.

We really loved the vintage color of these spring green jars and thought they would also be beautiful for holiday gifts. Ball jars are not just for canning, but for attractive preservation for a multitude of gifts. From dry cookie or soup mixes in a jar to luminaries to sippy cups, a quick search of their Pinterest page will show you the hundreds of ways to purpose or repurpose your jars.

disclosure: We are so grateful for the Ball Heritage Collection. They offer limited edition colors each year, and we are thrilled this year's color was GREEN!  Our Daily Green received samples of Ball Jars in both quart and pint sizes. We have so many plans for our bounty and look forward to future collaborations with Ball. 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Cut back on energy costs in three simple steps

electrician in Adelaide
Light Bulb Leaves by:
Vector Open Stock
There's no question that many families and businesses feel squeezed right now, and one major source of additional expense is increasing energy costs. You can start to control your budget by making a few easy changes to help you use less energy. Below are three simple steps to get started on the path to savings.

  • Unplug it

Most household appliances start using electricity the minute they are plugged into the wall even if they are turned off? That means that all those televisions, video game consoles, phone chargers, coffee makers, and electronics are jacking up your electric bill, even if you don't use them very often. This is called vampire energy loss. Get in the habit of unplugging things or get a specially designed power strip that you can turn off the power when you're not using the item and you will cut your energy usage without much effort. 

  • Replace old light bulbs

If you are still using incandescent bulbs to light up your rooms, they use quite a bit of additional electricity every time you turn on a lamp. Incandescent bulbs waste a lot of energy on heat as they produce their light. Modern CFLs and LEDs look better than ever, last longer, and burn cooler, which translates into major energy savings for each bulb you replace. 

  • Turn off the lights 

Once you've replaced your old light bulbs with more efficient ones, you can take your savings a step further by carefully considering when you turn the lights on. On bright days, try leaving the lights off and utilize the natural light from the sun instead. In the summertime, the savings can be significant.
Want to do even more? An electrician in Adelaide can supply the most efficient electrical system for your needs. Bright Earth Electrical is committed to getting you the help you need to get started. Visit today’s post sponsor and find out more at http://brightearthelectrical.com.au/

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

The top 3 reasons everyone must clean their gutters

When it comes to miserable chores for a homeowner, there aren't many people who enjoy cleaning gutters. But if you want a safe and hassle-free home, cleaning the gutters on a regular basis is of utmost importance. Clean gutters prevent several much more expensive disasters. 

FEMA - 45061 - Wall demolition at Rocky Boy Indian Reservation in Montana
This image is from the FEMA photo library 
1. Flooded Basements: When water does not divert far enough away from the house due to clogged gutters, it can overflow and seep around your foundation. The water freezes in your home’s foundation and expands to create cracks. It then thaws into your basement and causes major damage. They not only ruin your valuables and create an environment for mold growth, but they can permanently damage your home’s foundation. The repairs can cost thousands of dollars in cleanup and replacement.
2. Pests: Wet areas like clogged gutters are a haven for annoying pests. Debris gets backed up in gutters and water pools there. These wet areas attract disease carrying flies, mosquitoes and rodents; pests no homeowner wants to invite into their home. 
3. Rot: When backups occur in your gutters and water seeps into your roof and eaves, your roof is susceptible to rotted wood. Fixing serious rot can involve ripping off the side of your home or part of the roof itself. Clean gutters prevent water from backing up onto your roof, keeping it flowing away from the home. 

Companies like today's blog sponsor, Gutterboy Gutter Cleaning in Sydney have experts available to install, repair and clean gutters of any type. Find more information on their website at http://gutterboyguttercleaningsydney.com.au/

Monday, October 6, 2014

We broke down and turned on the furnace: now what?

In an informal Facebook survey last week, I asked my peers when they decided to turn on the furnace in the fall. Here are their thoughts.
A NY State Resident: Got a programmable, I like it when I'm home. Rest of the time I turn it off, or set it at 55 when I'm gone. September 29 at 3:50pm · Unlike · 1
Resident of Hawaii answers:  I assume this question is not for me. September 29 at 4:30pm · Unlike · 2
An Ohio Resident: We've already had ours on a few mornings. Our house is large and has been chilly enough. Ours is programmables well.September 29 at 4:59pm · Edited · Unlike · 1
Another Ohio Resident:  When you can see your breath outside!
September 29 at 6:36pm · Unlike · 1
The NY Resident: Ohio resident,  when you can see your breath INSIDE!
September 29 at 6:51pm · Unlike · 2
A Pennsylvania resident: When my hands are too cold to type
September 29 at 7:24pm · Unlike · 2
A third Ohio Resident:  Tell me it's a Nest!!! [yes, it is/was and you can win one!]
September 29 at 9:00pm · Unlike · 1
And yet another Ohio Resident weighs in:  No AC or heat since Labor Day. Bills are way low in April and September, usually, but even more this year. Yea! September 29 at 10:33pm · Unlike

If you recognize yourself in these comments, you also are trying to delay that inevitable spike in your heating bills. In other words, this is a concern we all have. We want comfort, but we don't want to spend unnecessarily.

What else can we do to keep that spike at a minimum? Last week, we discussed programmable thermostats which were brought up a few times in the discussion (and if you don't have one? you can win one... See end of post for details).

Some other strategies seem simple, but make a world of difference.
*change your furnace filter so that nothing is blocking the flow of heat
* make sure all leaks on doors and windows are sealed
* move furniture that is near outdoor walls towards warmer indoor one
Nest ThermostatUltimately, your best way to conserve heating costs is via the use of a programmable thermostat, so again, we encourage our readers to enter to win the NEST. Direct Energy has teamed up with Nest to save you money and time. They are sponsoring a giveaway of FIVE Nest Learning Thermostats. To enter the sweepstakes, visit the campaign landing page and simply fill out the entry form. The giveaway will take place from Wednesday, October 1st to Wednesday, October 22nd. Winners will be selected in Mid-November.

The Nest Learning Thermostat is also available free of charge to new customers who sign up for Direct Energy's competitive Comfort & Control Plan. (available to residents of Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Ohio, and Illinois).

Thanks to Direct Energy for sponsoring today's discussion

Friday, October 3, 2014

How to save on heating costs this winter

Oh, the weather outside is NOT frightful, yet. But fall has begun and now is the best time to prepare for the impending winter. We want to stay warm, but also prevent our bank accounts from draining empty with heating costs.

One of the easiest things to do is turn down the thermostat when nobody is in the house or when you're sleeping. According to the US Department of Energy,
... turning your thermostat back 10° to 15° for 8 hours, you can save 5% to 15% a year on your heating bill -- a savings of as much as 1% for each degree if the setback period is eight hours long.
Nest Learning ThermometerExcept if you're like me? You forget to turn it down or turn it back up. You either find yourself keeping your kitchen table warm when you're not home, or sweltering under a pile of blankets in the middle of the night. Or returning home to a freezing house because you DID remember to turn the heat down, but not back up.

Let's face it, we're busy folks and the last thing we want to do is continually adjust a thermostat. Programmable thermostats are a great start, but only if you remember to program them and don't take into account any diversion from the pre-set schedule. If your life is like mine, and you're of a green mind, you've packed your own lunch, you've got a reusable bottle of water and a thermos of coffee, not to mention a briefcase and electronic device. The last thing your typical dash out the door every morning needs is one more thing to do. You have kids to drop at school, a conference call waiting, and oh yes, you started a load of laundry. Like you have time to fiddle with the thermostat. Honestly, this green living stuff seems to be just one more thing to do after another and we easily dismiss what isn't convenient to do, wasting energy and subsequently money in the process.

If only... there was an APP that would control our thermostat.

The great news is... there is. There is a fantastic new innovative thermostat called the Nest Learning Thermostat. The Nest Learning Thermostat is like a personal butler, adjusting the temperature in your home with a simple tap. You can set the thermostat lower when you leave the house, and even if you forget, you can adjust it remotely with a smartphone. The Nest learns your patterns and will even adjust your temperature within a week.

Direct Energy has teamed up with Nest to save you money and perhaps even a little bit of sanity, taking that "one more thing to do" right off your plate. Even better, they are sponsoring a giveaway of FIVE Nest Learning Thermostats. To enter the sweepstakes, visit the campaign landing page and simply fill out the entry form. The giveaway will take place from Wednesday, October 1st to Wednesday, October 22nd. Winners will be selected in Mid-November.

The Nest Learning Thermostat is also available free of charge to new customers who sign up for Direct Energy's competitive Comfort & Control Plan. (available to residents of Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Ohio, and Illinois).

Stay tuned next week and Our Daily Green will be sharing more tips for keeping warm and keeping your sanity as we approach winter.
Thanks to Direct Energy for sponsoring today's discussion

Monday, September 29, 2014

How locally grown, seasonal foods help the environment and our health

One of the most green choices a consumer can make starts with their food choices. We're not just talking about the color of the food, although green, leafy food has a number of health benefits. Instead, you have a chance to promote a green planet with every single choice you make about what, where, how, and why you're eating. 

Visit their free green-living tool, One Small Act and join the “Eco Eats” challenge.
One of the most important choices you can start with is to eat seasonal, local food. At the risk of waxing poetic about "the old days", many of us still remember when you could only get certain foods during certain times of the year. If you wanted something out-of-season, it was either canned, frozen or dried. 

The environmental cost of year-round availability of food is tremendous. From the cost of shipping food across the nation from warmer climates to cooler ones to the chemical fertilizer put into the soil to force food to grow out of its natural growing season, to the additional water required to compensate for dry seasons when the soil would traditionally rest, we ask a lot out of our earth for the luxury of year-round unlimited choices. Additionally, the quality of food that is not-seasonal or shipped from faraway diminishes. In order to ship tomatoes for example, they are picked before they are ripened, and then gassed with ethylene so they achieve a "reddish-orange" tomato-esque color. Barry Estabrook, author of 2011's Tomatoland: How Modern Industrial Agriculture Destroyed Our Most Alluring Fruit, explains.

Fields are sprayed with more than one hundred different herbicides and pesticides. Tomatoes are picked hard and green and artificially gassed until their skins acquire a marketable hue. Modern plant breeding has tripled yields, but has also produced fruits with dramatically reduced amounts of calcium, vitamin A, and vitamin C, and tomatoes that have fourteen times more sodium than the tomatoes our parents enjoyed. The relentless drive for low costs has fostered a thriving modern-day slave trade in the United States.
That is just for tomatoes. Extrapolate that same treatment to every choice we are given at the grocery store and you can easily understand how our demand for year-round selection isn't necessarily the healthiest or sustainable decision. Would you join me in the pledge to eat more local and seasonal food?

If you are interested in ‘eco-eating’? NBC’s Green is Universal is hosting an “Eco Eats” sweepstakes from September 29 – October 17. Everyone who signs-up and tackles at least one action by October 17th will be entered to win one of five 6-month subscriptions to NatureBox. No Purchase Necessary. Must be US resident and 18+. Read official rules here.

disclosure: In exchange for participating in the challenge and writing a post with my opinion, I am eligible for a gift package from Green is Universal.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Lighting changes to increase energy efficiency

Whether you're concerned about leaving less of a carbon footprint or you just want to save some money on your energy bills, one simple way to increase energy efficiency in your home or business is to adjust the lighting of your personal or office space. If you're looking for a way to cut costs for your personal or business needs, sometimes just a few changes are needed. An electrician in your local area can assist you with making the changes, so consider these ideas to control your energy consumption.

  • Install motion/light sensors - Installing lights with motion detectors is an easy way to help you save on energy costs. The motion detectors can switch the lights on when movement is detected in the room, and automatically switch off if no motion is detected for a predetermined amount of time. These sensors will help be sure that only the spaces that are being used are lit, saving you money and energy.
    image from: wikimedia commons
  • Replace your switches with timer switches - Timer switches help you automate your lighting by switching on and off based on your schedule. This is a great solution if you have a bad habit of forgetting to turn of the lights before work. Just set the timer to automatically switch of when you know that you will not be home. You can also use timers to switch on outdoor lights during evening hours only, so that your home can be well lit on nights when you leave the office late.
  • Switch to LED lighting - LED lights produce more light without producing a lot of heat of using a lot of energy. Swap out your energy burning incandescent or halogen lighting for eco-friendly LED lighting. Your space will be brighter without sacrificing energy efficiency. Not only will LED lights help you save energy, but it's more cost-effective in the long run. This simple change will do wonders for your home or business.

These three tips are just a few ways that you can take charge of your energy consumption and save money. Your local electrician in Robina may have more ideas of ways to to save you time, money and energy. Energy costs are not likely to decline in the near future, so now is the time to get a handle on your energy spending.

We'd like to thank today's post sponsor:  If you're not sure where to begin with your lighting changes, the professionals at Ruby Electrical can offer some suggestions. Ruby Electrical is the Gold Coast's leading expert in all things electrical and energy efficient. Whether you need help finding the right fit for your home or office or need to shop for lighting solutions, the competent and professional electricians from Ruby Electrical can help. Serving the Coolangatta, Robina, and Tweed Heads areas, Ruby Electrical is your best bet in updating your home or office lighting. For more information on other electrical solution or for a consultation, check out rubyelectrial.com.au . 

Advantages that a fence provides your home

PerthHome ownership is an investment that can pay dividends for decades for you and your loved ones. The safety of those that inhabit it comes first and foremost to the owner. An ability to keep the things you want out and retain those inside your yard is paramount. The best budget friendly and quickest way to do this is with a fence. It will provide another dimension of beauty to your landscape and at the same time increase your property's value. The following are just a few of the facets on how a fence will do this for your own home.

  • Type of Fence - There is a style of fence that will complement the type of home you live in. First of all, most will consider the type of material used in its construction. These can range from bamboo, metal, wrought-iron timber, and even some more exotic materials. This versatility is a key that allows you to get a fence that not only does what it is supposed to do but effortlessly blends into the decor of your home and the surrounding neighborhood. For example, aluminium fences in Perth are all the rage and allow a modern feel to any home.

  • Increase in Protection - Outside elements are often beyond your control but that does not mean that you are helpless in letting them encroach onto your property. A fence performs the dual task of keeping out animals, plants, and people that wish to do harm while keeping loved ones safe in their confines. Household pets and young children are taught boundaries and experience an increased feeling of safety. Meanwhile, predators have a much harder time making it your way with a fence blocking their approach. Peace of mind is increased knowing that the fence is on guard twenty four hours a day making your home even more secure.

  • Your Eyes Only - What happens in your yard is the business of only those that live in the house. Items like aluminium fence slats for Perth fences have caught on to be both decorative and keep the wandering eyes at bay. One of the items on the checklist for homebuyers is the element of privacy that their prospective purchase will afford them. A quality fence will allow that buffer to exist and potentially increase the price you get if you ever opt to sell your home.

Clarity comes to both homeowners and prospective purchasers in regards to the importance of a fence to your property. They add a visual beauty to the landscape that augments the natural d├ęcor of the house. Your loved ones are afforded another layer of protection in their home life. Finally, we live in a much too public world and it is relaxing to have the element of privacy increased when a person is outside on their property.

A special thank you to today's sponsor: learn more by visiting:  Latticeandscreens.com.au 
Lattice and Screens enjoys a sterling reputation as having one of the largest selections of fences in the industry. 

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Some serious potty talk (reprint via Otherwords.org)

Composting toilets would save water and, uh, resources.

Jill Richardson
There’s a photo-word montage on the Internet in which a little boy, presumably from Africa, looks skeptically at a woman who is apparently from somewhere else. The boy asks, “You mean to tell me you have so much clean water, that you (poop) in it?”
Umm…yeah. Yeah, we do. But why?
Ars Terra Compost Toilet
London Permaculture/Flickr
This probably isn't a question you often ask, because as the wastewater treatment industry says, we have a “flush it and forget it” attitude as a nation. Number ones and number twos disgust us, and we don't want to see, smell, touch, or God forbid, deal with our pee and poop.
Flush toilets magically make all that human waste vanish in an instant, so we can go on with our day in blissful denial that anything unpleasant-smelling ever came out of our bodies at all.
What’s the cost for that modern convenience? An awful lot of water.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, an average American family of four can flush over 100 gallons of water per day down their toilet. That number can skyrocket to 200 gallons if the toilet doesn't stop running, and can decrease by over a gallon per flush if you get an efficient “WaterSense” toilet.
Innovations like low-flow toilets and waterless urinals can decrease the amount of water pouring into treatment plants.
Even the most water-conserving systems are still wasteful in two ways. First, they flush away some clean water. Second, they throw away a nutrient-rich resource. Yes, I'm calling your number twos a “resource.”
Our sewage systems combine everything that goes down the drain in homes and businesses with water, mix it together, and then attempt to clean up that liquid. The problem is, so to speak, you can't put Humpty Dumpty together again. Not perfectly, anyway.
Once human waste and once-clean water mix together with pharmaceuticals, pesticides, flame retardants, antibacterial soap, cosmetics, Drano, and everything else that goes down the drain, it’s nearly impossible to separate it once again.
Our current method involves separating solids from liquids to clean the sewage water, which experts want you to call “effluent.” Wastewater treatment is hard and expensive. No matter how well it’s done, the effluent released into the environment is not simply pure water.
For example, scientists found that a common ingredient in antibacterial soap released into the Mississippi River in effluent breaks down into cancer-causing dioxins.
The solids sent to wastewater treatment plants are composted and treated as thoroughly as possible before they are disposed of using various imperfect methods. One such option is applying them to farm fields as “fertilizer,” even though they still contain many toxins in them. Sometimes they even sell the treated sludge to home gardeners under brand names like Milorganite.
Outhouses aren't a real option in crowded cities, town, and suburbs. What else can you do? Well, you could consider getting a composting toilet. In my experience, composting toilets have no smell or other unpleasant features. You sit, do your thing, and “flush” by adding something like pine shavings to aid in the composting process. That’s it. You probably don't want to fertilize your lettuce with your composted waste, but you can easily use it to plant a tree.
Changing our entire approach to dispensing with human waste wouldn’t be easy. But sticking with the status quo means continuing to waste water and compost, even as several regions of our country are suffering droughts. Using composting toilets won't keep soap out of our wastewater stream, but it will keep it out of our, um, fertilizer.
Maybe it’s time for those who can to opt out of this wasteful system by conserving water and putting our number twos to work by switching to composting toilets.
OtherWords columnist Jill Richardson is the author of Recipe for America: Why Our Food System Is Broken and What We Can Do to Fix It. OtherWords.org

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Shopping for a New Truck? Factors to Consider

A pickup truck is a very versatile driving machine that can be used for a variety of different purposes. However, all pickup trucks are not created equal. Not only do pickup trucks vary in size and strength, but they also differ in cost. Here are some important things to consider when shopping for a new pickup truck.

In most instances, pickup trucks are available in full-sized and compact sizes. Although full-sized trucks typically provide more interior room and a greater towing capacity, compact trucks are usually able to deliver better fuel efficiency.

Cab Design
There are basically three cab designs: regular, extended, and crew. Regular cabs are most suitable for the drivers who only need to carry one additional passenger. Although extended cabs provide an additional seat in the rear, some adults will find the available room to be relatively cramped. On the other hand, crew cabs offer plenty of room for the entire family.

Power Output
Pickup trucks are equipped with a variety of different engines. Due to the fact that four-cylinder engines typically have the lowest power output, they are only suitable for light-duty tasks. On the other hand, a six-cylinder engine usually provides the best combination of fuel efficiency and performance. Although an eight-cylinder motor consumes more gas, its enhanced horsepower and torque comes in handy when hauling hefty loads. Diesel-powered trucks are great for pulling extremely heavy loads.

Operating Costs
Before selecting a truck, be sure to research the reliability rating and resale value. Expensive repair work and maintenance can cause the total cost of ownership to rise dramatically. It is also important to research the long-term fuel costs of the truck. Sites such as toyotacostofownership.com enable shoppers to view side-by-side comparisons of each truck.

Safety Rating
Do not forget to research the pickup truck’s safety rating. While some trucks are very stable on the road, there are others that are prone to experiencing a rollover. It is also a good idea to inquire about the available safety features before making a final decision.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Warm red cabbage salad

right before we picked it... isn't it beautiful? 
Our Daily Green knows it's fall because the red cabbage has beautiful tight little heads, and is ready to harvest. We have patiently watched it forming, waiting for one of our favorite fall recipes. It's simple and delicious, you'll want to add it to a list of permanent recipes. 

According to the World's Healthiest Foods website, red cabbage is a nutritional powerhouse.
While green cabbage is the most commonly eaten variety of cabbage, we highly recommend trying red cabbage because of it added nutritional benefits and its robust hearty flavor. The rich red color of red cabbage reflects it concentration of anthocyanin polyphenols, which contribute to red cabbage containing significantly more protective phytonutrients than green cabbage. Interest in anthocyanin pigments continues to intensify because of their health benefits as dietary antioxidants, as an anti-inflammatory, and their potentially protective, preventative, and therapeutic roles in a number of human diseases.
...The vitamin C equivalent, a measure of antioxidant capacity, of red cabbage is also six to eight times higher than that of green cabbage. Red cabbage is one of the most nutritious and best tasting vegetables around.
This dish is complemented with pecans, which are another nutritional powerhouse, according to Pecan Nutrition Facts:

  • Pecans are one of the very few sodium-free and fiber-rich nuts in the world.
  • Pecans are a rich source of gamma tocopherol which is a chemical compound derived from vitamin E. It supports heart health, prevents heart diseases, promotes respiratory health, helps in blood circulation and is very good for your brain.
  • Pecans also contain some of the phytochemicals.
  • 90% of the fat content in pecans contain unsaturated fats.

RECIPE: Warm Red Cabbage Salad

  • 1 medium-sized head of red cabbage, halved
  • 1/2 cup of coarsely chopped pecans (I like to toast them)
  • 3.5 oz. crumbled white cheddar cheese
  • 4-6 slices of diced and cooked bacon
  • 1/4 c. olive oil 
  • 1/4 c. vinegar (apple cider, red wine, or balsamic)
  • salt and pepper to taste

the finished salad... colorful and delicious
Place cabbage halves flat side down on a cutting board. Starting at the top of the head, slice across in very thin strips. Do not use the thick white core portion. Toss the cabbage and the pecans in a large bowl. In a large pan, cook bacon until crispy and brown. Drain the bacon and discard the grease, but don't wash the pan. Heat olive oil in same pan, until warm, but not smoking. Reduce the heat and stir in the vinegar, salt and pepper. Add cabbage mixture and toss for a minute to warm the salad. Transfer to serving bowl and toss with bacon & cheese.


Friday, September 5, 2014

Changing your furnace filter

Many people forget that their furnace has an air filter just like that of their air conditioner. The air conditioner is run so often during the year that people forget to handle their furnace filter when the weather turns cold. The best furnace filters do the same job as a good air conditioning filter, and they provide the same benefits to the family.

Air Cleanliness

Most families will notice that they have musty air coming through their vents when they turn on their heaters in the winter. This is likely due to a lack of service to the furnace during the warmer months. Items like 3M furnace filters need to be changed regularly to make sure the furnace is always putting out clean air.

Changing In The Summer

The best time for a family to maintain their heater is the summer. When the weather is warm outside, there is no need for the family to use the furnace. This is the perfect time to have a technician clean and service the furnace. The technician can change the furnace filter, and the family can make a change to a stronger filter if they need.

Air Quality

The service technician may complete an air quality survey in the house, and the homeowners can make changes to their furnace system as a result. The furnace filter may need changing, but the technician may also need to service the unit. The air quality that is brought about by a simple filter could lead a family to making greater changes in their home. Changing the air quality in the house can lead families to healthier lives.

Changing During The Winter

Every family should plan to change their furnace filter at least once during the winter. Harsh winters can be especially hard on furnaces, and families need to make sure they take extra steps to keep their furnaces clean. Simply changing the air filter in the middle of the winter can make a big difference for the family's health while they are trapped inside by the cold weather. Making just one proper filter choice will go a long way for the family.

A special thank you to today's sponsor for this timely reminder to change our furnace filters while the weather is still warm. 

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Seven reasons people don't recycle

waste balers
photo from: Easi recycling

From time to time, the topic of recycling will come up in a casual conversation with friends. Recently, someone had saved some cardboard tubes for a project for me, and when I had a surplus, I said, well I can always recycle the rest. The person commented, "I know it's bad, but I just don't recycle."

It got me to wondering "why not?", and how to overcome those "why nots". While the reasons differ from person to person, there are some common themes among those who do not recycle. 
  • They cannot be bothered. For some folks, they just don't want to think about what to do with each piece of garbage they generate. 
  • It is easier to clean up if everything just goes into one garbage bag and is tossed. 
  • They have no financial incentive. In the days when there were can and bottle deposits, it was a common sight to see folks walking back into the store with empty bottles and cans and getting their deposit back. 
  • Out of sight, out of mind. Unless someone lives next to a landfill or remembers the days of floating garbage barges because there was no landfill space available, there is nothing unsightly about throwing out garbage.
  • Time consuming to wash out empty containers and separate them. 
  • No recycling offered at work or school, without a large scale buy-in, it seems futile to try at home. 
  • Inconvenient recycling locations. Confusion about what can or cannot be recycled. 
It is estimated that nearly 75% of the material in landfills could be either composted or recycled. Landfill fees increase annually, so the financial incentive could be about cost savings from generating less trash. Another consideration is to rethink any single serve or disposable packaging, which reduces the number of times/daily that a consumer even has to think about where and how to throw something out. 

In whole, it seems that for many people recycling just is too much work. So we'd like instead to propose a proactive approach where instead of having to think about how to recycle items, creating a climate where fewer items even need to be recycled. 

Our Daily Green wants to reset the way our readers think, so we move away from the idea of having to recycle and instead think how to reduce or reuse. If reduction and reusing are taken more seriously, there is less to recycle and therefore less barrier, but also less waste. 

What are some ideas you have for reducing or reusing? 

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Lacto-fermented pickles

The most successful plants in my garden this summer have been my cucumbers and dill. The universe clearly was hinting that dill pickles were in order. Actually, every summer, I make dill pickles, but I typically make them with store-bought vinegar

I have read quite a bit the past year about the health benefits of lacto-fermentation. The process is actually the old-fashioned way of preserving foods. With growing concerns about factory processed food safety, many folks are making their own food from scratch and rediscovering what our previous generations knew.

Growing up on the farm, we always had a big crock of dill pickles in the basement. While times have changed from plunging my hand right into the crock and fishing around for a pickle, I thought it would be fun to resurrect pickles I remember growing up. I had a lot to learn, but you'll see the results are quite amazing. 

Some very important things to understand about making pickles this way. You need to use either oak or grape leaves to keep the pickles crisp. I sent my young nephew stomping off through the woods to find the oak leaves for me. My little naturalist didn't return empty handed, although I do apologize to his mom & dad for the poison ivy and thank them for their continued indulgence of borrowing their children for my reviews

Oak leaves contain tannin and without them in the layered crock, the pickles will not stay crisp. The other key is that the water must not have chlorine, which inhibits the growth of the healthy bacteria. To dechlorinate tap water, just boil and cool it, which will cause the chlorine to evaporate. You also can leave the water sitting out for 24 hours and the chlorine will dissipate.

layers of cucumbers, dill, garlic, oak leaves, and pickling spices

pickling spices include: 
mustard seed, peppercorns, red pepper flakes

The cloudy water of the finished batch

Yesterday, we happily munched on the lacto-fermented pickles as we enjoyed the last summer barbeque. The crisp dill flavor was well worth the wait. I think I may try to make one more batch before the weather changes.

I based my pickles on a recipe from Cultures for Health. Check it out and enjoy! Happy September!

Repurposed outdoor furniture

The repurposing movement has inspired scores of people around the world to reconsider what they take to the landfill. Repurposing or upcycling has given many cast-off items a second life. I began to research upcycling in earnest when I realized that while the Daily Green crib was no longer used for sleeping babies, there may be another life for it.  I wished I had been so inspired when I was able to buy a beautiful, but unable-to-be-fixed antique piano. I was so thrilled to discover the piano for literally a song at a thrift store, I never considered the cost of rehab. The "almost free" beautiful piano would have required $10K in custom repairs to be functional again. I opted to re-donate my find instead of repurpose it. I wish I had done a little more research.

In fact, people are turning beautiful pieces of days gone by into useful and interesting furniture around their house. We enjoy seeing patio sets created from empty steel drums, shutters, or baby cribs.

Successful upcycling projects do not happen without the appropriate materials. Once inspired by a castoff, it's important to find the right supplies for rehab. In the case of outdoor furniture, Dryfast foam is a fantastic product that can be custom cut to any project and is designed for outdoor use when moisture and precipitation is common. The foam has large, open cells to offer airflow not present in other foams which allows it to dry quickly, even after complete saturation.

Your imagination and a desire to maintain a product's usefulness and keep it from landfills are your only limitations when it comes to repurposing unique objects.

Have you ever upcycled or repurposed something? What did you use and what did it become?

Today's post has been brought to you by a sponsor. 

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Is an electric vehicle for me? (Infographic)

Is An EV For Me?

Going beyond going paperless to save energy

paper tiger
image courtesy of : wikimedia commons
Going paperless is a mantra of many cost and environmentally conscious folks. We embrace the opportunity to utilize email for communication. We use email to receive everything from jokes, to sales fliers, to family news, to corporate communication. If you've embraced paperless communication in order to lessen your impact on the environment, you're ready for the next step.

Even less paperless communication. Yes, you read that right. Email has become a "paperless tiger", loading up our inboxes with an unending stream of communication. Ask any business person what wastes more time in the day than anything? Going through email. According to an independent study by Atos Origin
...the average employee spends 40% of their working week dealing with internal emails which add no value to the business. In short, your colleagues only start working on anything of value from Wednesday each week. Our own analysis found worrying levels of email traffic: of 95,000 emails sent, 75,000 were internal, while 68% of the 127,000 received also came from internal sources. 
It's not just the issue of time, there is actually a carbon footprint to all that sending, opening, reading, or deleting email followed by a repeat every single day. Projections from The Radicati Group estimate that in 2015, the average business person will handle 125 emails/daily, up from 105 in 2011. Each email sent uses about 4 grams of carbon, which doesn't sound like much, until you extrapolate those numbers per person, per email, per year and suddenly, the average person emails the amount of carbon equal to a 200 mile car trip. We're not advocating to stop emailing, but rather email intelligently.

Considering the amount of useless emails we send and receive, it shouldn't be difficult to cut that number in half. Here are some tips from SingleHop cloud computing:
  • Stop hitting reply all. Often, a conversation between two people need not involve an entire email list. 
  • When you email, you do not need to contact everyone in your address book. Instead, judiciously send to those who need to know. 
  • Search your email by keywords instead of asking someone to resend a document that was buried in those 100+ emails from the day before. 
  • Unsubscribe. Often, whenever we shop for something online or research a topic, our email gets entered in a database and we receive daily notifications. It's just as easy to go to the website instead of have the website come to you in an email. 
  • Get up and walk over to someone's desk instead of sending an email. Talk to your co-workers face to face. Think of the number of emails that are generated that may have simply needed a 2 minute conversation. 
Taking these steps to reduce our paperless output could make the words "You've Got Mail!" a welcome thought, in addition to saving the planet.