Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Green tips for your home: reduce your total energy usage

Reduce your total energy usage

You can implement many strategies to ensure your home is greener, environmentally friendly and less toxic, both for you and for the earth. This post will talk about reducing your total energy usage for your home to ensure it is greener and healthier for you, your family and your pets (if you have any).

Reducing your total energy usage in and around your home, will not only save the planet because you're being more mindful of your energy usage, but it will be saving money every day.

Some tips on how to reduce your energy usage:
  • Whenever you buy any new appliance, make you sure you buy the one that is the most energy efficient one, that uses the least amount of energy - it will cost you less to run it
  • Turn off all lights whenever you leave any room
  • At night (or if you are going away for any extended period of time), turn off all non-essential electrical appliances at the power point - this will save a great deal of energy and cost you less. Even when the power is off on your appliance, if it is not turned off, there is still a small amount of electricity running through
  • Wash clothes in cold water, for as many types of clothes that you can wash
  • Use a clothes line to dry clothes, instead of a dryer. This reduces greenhouse gases by around 3kg per load. In addition to this, dryers use a great deal of energy, which means higher electricity costs - you save money by using the clothes line instead of a dryer
  • Consider using solar energy to heat or cool your home (and water). Australia and other countries offer Government rebates to consumers who install solar power to their home. The costs of installing the solar energy is paid off in the first few years and after that, the costs to you, in terms of power usage, are minimal - basically free energy from the sun
  • Cover the lids on food cooking on the stove - this makes the food cook more quickly and saves energy and electricity (or gas) usage and associated costs
As you can see, there are so many ways to save the planet, which use up less energy, produce less pollution, save you more money and help your physical fitness. It's a win-win situation. So what are you waiting for? 

    Tuesday, 15 October 2013

    Green Tips For Your Home - Part 3

    Another post with information about how to make sure your home (and your life) is greener - to save money, save energy and save the planet for everyone.

    1. Check insulation

    • Ensure you have the correct insulation for your home. If you do this, you will save a lot of money and not use up so much energy cooling your home in summer or heating it in winter. Choose biodegradable wool insulation (or other natural fibres) rather than fibreglass insulation, which is not biodegradable (not good for the planet)
    • Install awnings or blinds on your windows, to help cool your home in summer months - this is especially necessary for those people who live in a warmer climate or have hot summers
    • Close your curtains (or blinds or other window coverings) on hot days, as this has the effect of cooling your home with no direct sunshine. Open the curtains again when the heat has cooled down
    • Place draught strips around doors or windows that have gaps and are draughty in winter; this will help the rooms stay warm

    2. Energy efficient lighting

    • Replace regular light bulbs with the energy efficient fluorescent lamps (CFLs), which last about 10 times as long and use 75% less energy than regular light bulbs
    • Use energy efficient downlights instead of the halogen lighting
    • Use light fittings with only one bulb - try to avoid light fittings that have several bulbs (such as chandeliers)
    • Use solar powered lights for all lighting outside your house - these are the cheapest lighting possible, as they run on solar energy
    • Add skylights to dark areas, to enable less usages of lights until it is really dark

    3. Reduce your rubbish

    • Try to buy products that are re-usable instead of ones that are disposable - razors, cups, pens
    • Re-use your food packages - glass coffee jars, jams, juice bottles - these can all be re-used again and again, as storage for your other foods (just make sure you wash the bottles and jars properly after each use)
    • Buy fruit and vegetables loose, not in packets
    • Recycle your rubbish properly with recycling bins your local council provides and if you do not have the right ones or need more, request them

    4. Reduce energy usage

    • Whenever you buy any new appliance, make you sure you buy the one that is the most energy efficient one, that uses the least amount of energy - it will cost you less to run it
    • Turn off all lights whenever you leave any room
    • At night (or if you are going away for any extended period of time), turn off all non-essential electrical appliances at the power point - this will save a great deal of energy and cost you less. Even when the power is off on your appliance, if it is not turned off, there is still a small amount of electricity running through
    • Wash clothes in cold water, for as many types of clothes that you can wash
    • Use a clothes line to dry clothes, instead of a dryer. This reduces greenhouse gases by around 3kg per load. In addition to this, dryers use a great deal of energy, which means higher electricity costs - you save money by using the clothes line instead of a dryer
    • Consider using solar energy to heat or cool your home (and water). Australia and other countries offer Government rebates to consumers who install solar power to their home. The costs of installing the solar energy is paid off in the first few years and after that, the costs to you, in terms of power usage, are minimal - basically free energy from the sun
    • Cover the lids on food cooking on the stove - this makes the food cook more quickly and saves energy and electricity (or gas) usage and associated costs

    5. Saving water

    • Install a rainwater tank in your backyard (some people may need more than one). Some Governments in Australia offer rebates to consumers who install rainwater tanks, so enquire with your local Government. The rainwater tanks come in many shapes and sizes, to suit any backyard. A rainwater tank (or more) means less water usage and less water rates
    • Have short showers
    • Fix any leaking taps as soon as possible - they can be a great source of water wastage
    • Solar or gas hot water systems produce about 50% less greenhouse gases than electric hot water systems
    • Always run your washing machine when it is full
    • Forget about using a dishwasher, it is much more energy efficient to use old fashioned "elbow grease" - just wash dishes by hand
    • People with two kitchen sink should fill the second one with cold water and rinse washed dishes in this sink, after they have washed it in the first sink. Once the water in the sink becomes too soapy, drain it out and refill the sink with some more cold water. This is a great saver of water, instead of letting water just run while rinsing cutlery, crockery or pots and pans
    • Turn taps off when brushing your teeth. Only turn the water on to rinse your mouth of the toothpaste
    • Install tap flow regulators to ensure you can limit water flow to a slower flow and save water usage. Most Australian Governments offer rebates for these devices (they also offer the rebates on energy-efficient shower heads too - enquire what products have a rebate associated with them)

    Tuesday, 20 August 2013

    Green tips for your home - to detoxify your home (part 2)

    You can implement many strategies to ensure your home is greener, environmentally friendly and less toxic, both for you and for the earth. This is part 2 of the way to detoxify your home to ensure it is greener.

    1. Carpet
    No matter how many times you vacuum, steam clean or wash your carpet, it will still be a haven for little dust mites, dust particles, dirt and human tissue (plus animal tissue if you have any pets). Carpet is probably the worse choice for flooring, because it allows all sorts of dirt, dust and bugs to become trapped and live inside the fibres. It is not a very good flooring choice for people who have allergies, asthma, sinusitis or any other upper or lower respiratory conditions.

    Carpet, whether wool or synthetic, produces little fibres that break away from the strands every time you walk over them. These little bits of fibre are one of the items that cause irritation to people who have
    allergies, asthma, sinusitis or any other upper or lower respiratory conditions. Synthetic carpet is probably worse than pure wool (or wool blended) carpet, due to the very nature of the fibres in the carpet, which have been processed and treated with so many chemicals on many levels. A lot of energy goes into making carpet, which is not very sustainable for the earth. This is not very environmentally friendly.

    If you have carpet flooring, the best advice would be to rip it all up in every area of your house and reveal the wooden floors underneath, or if you are in an apartment, you will need to get environmentally friendly floating floor boards to take the place of the carpet. The next part describes why hard (non-carpeted) flooring is a better choice for floor coverings than carpet.

    2. Hard flooring
    There are several choices for hardwood flooring, which are the best not just for the environment, but also to your health, irrespective of whether or not you have
    allergies, asthma, sinusitis or any other upper or lower respiratory conditions. Hardwood floors do not provide any fibres for the dust, dirt and dust mites to get trapped, which you will breath in every time you walk over the carpet and disturb them.

    The advantages of hard flooring are many:

    • Less dust and dust mites - since there are few fibres for the dust mite to live, there should be few of these mites, plus the amount of dust collected will be less
    • Easier to clean - hard flooring is much easier to clean and once it is cleaned, it stays cleaner than carpet. Any spills can be easily mopped up and will not normally cause a stain on most hard flooring types. All that is required is a vacuum and mopping the floor with some mild soapy water
    • Cheaper to clean - hard flooring does not require regular steam cleaning (like carpet requires) to keep clean - it is simply a matter of mopping the floor, which can be done quickly, which means savings on the at least yearly steam clean that carpet needs
    • Better for people with allergies / asthma - people with lower and upper respiratory conditions do so much better and suffer less episodes of illness when they are not exposed to dust and dust mites
    • Modern and stylish - hard flooring looks more modern and stylish compared to some garish or worn away carpet which may have been there for over 20 years. While carpet fashion dates, natural hard flooring does not.
    • Longer lasting - carpet, especially in the high traffic areas, wears away quite quickly, especially the cheaper variety (which tends to be put into most apartments these days). Hard flooring on the other hand, lasts a lot longer, even in the high traffic areas and even if there is a lot of usage of the flooring

    Types of hard flooring:

    • Wooden Floorboards - these give a warmth and richness to any room because of their colour and natural material. Wooden flooring can be either long planks or more complicated parquetry. The type to use depends on your budget and taste. It is not recommended to lacquer the floors, as this produces noxious fumes from the toxic chemicals used, but instead to use environmentally friendly, water-based floor varnish, which give more of a matt finish. Floating floorboards can also be purchased which have been varnished with an environmentally friendly product.
      To clean wooden floorboards - simply vacuum or sweep weekly with periodic buffing. Wash with a mop using 4 parts water to 1 part vinegar.

    • Tiles - there are a variety of tile types that can be used for flooring in all areas of a house or apartment, but obviously some are more compatible to certain areas than others. The most commonly used types of tiles are:

      (a) Ceramic/poreclain - these type of tiles are dense and strong, easy to clean, long lasting and does not absorb smell, water or carry allergens. Since ceramic and porcelain tiles are man-made, there is also more flexibility in the tile design.


      (b) Mosaic
      - these type of tiles are basically smaller versions of the other types of tiles and can be made from a wide variety of materials, depending on which area they are to be used in. They are more suited as a feature of a tiled floor, rather than as the whole floor, but can be used on the whole floor. They take more time to be laid as there are so many of them to put together, but the patterns and features that can be created are wonderful.

      (c) Terracotta
      - these type of tiles are a traditional,authentic flooring product that possess a warmth,charm and character. Hand-made terracotta tiles are formed by pressing raw clay into moulds: this produces a durable but low density tile.Compared with denser alternatives terracotta tiles act as an excellent insulator underfoot,almost eliminating the need for assistance from under-floor heating

      To clean
      tiles - simply wash with a damp mop. Natural (non-abrasive) detergents in water can also be used, but not on terracotta.

    • Stone - this type of flooring is more suited to outside areas, but it can be used inside a house too, in a den, rumpus room or family room, as long as some soft, natural-fibre rugs are used to soften the flooring. While stone is a very natural flooring type, it is not suitable for the interior of apartments
      To clean stone flooring - simply wash with a damp mop. Natural (non-abrasive) detergents in water can also be used.

    • Marble - this is a a heavily relied upon natural stone for flooring, especially in upmarket houses and hotels due to it's reliability and because it is a long-lasting, yet very beautiful flooring type. Marble is a natural stone product, very durable and stain resistant. Marble can stain unless it is is sealed on a regular basis, especially in the high traffic areas, but always choose a natural, environmentally friendly sealant.
      To clean marble flooring - simply wash using a damp mop and periodic buffing. Natural (non-abrasive) detergents in water can also be used.

    • Granite - Granite is a fine to coarse grained rock which often contains quartz, feldspar, and mica crystals. It can form as a result of igneous (volcanic) or metamorphic geologic activity. The presence of quartz in granite gives it incredible durability and hardness characteristics. Granite is almost always more durable than marble. Granite is a natural stone product, very durable and stain resistant.
      To clean granite flooring - simply wash using a damp mop and periodic buffing. Natural (non-abrasive) detergents in water can also be used.

    • Slate - this type of flooring is a natural stone, which works well in wet areas (bathroom, kitchen), but also equally well in lounge rooms and other areas of the house. It may need some rugs to warm up bedrooms if used there.
      To clean slate flooring - simply use a damp mop with mild soap-water mixture
    In regards to the rugs that can used on the hard flooring, this is much more preferable to carpet because rugs (if they are larger in size) can be washed either on the clothes line, where they can be shampooed and hosed down or in the washing machine (if they are smaller in size).

    3. Use your own recycled bags when you go shopping - don't use plastic bags
    Using less plastic bags at the shops will decrease the amount of plastic that is in our rubbish dumps. This plastic takes so many years to become decomposed and produces more stress on our planet. Even the environmentally friendly bags are not as effective as taking your own shopping bags to use and reusing these over and over again, every time you go shopping.

    4. Buy food in bulk
    If you buy your food in bulk, you will achieve two objectives:

    • you will get the food cheaper than if you bought it in small lots and
    • you will use less packaging, which decreases your load on the planet. Bulk food buying is much more environmentally friendly as less packaging is involved and less energy is used to produce the food and packaging.
    Consider joining a food co-op, which is a volunteer-based, not-for-profit food provider. Most foods in co-ops are generally organic, are quite well priced and because they are organic, are much better for you and for the planet as they use quite a lot less energy to be produced and have less of a load on the planet, due to the sustainable farming practices used to grow organic food.

    5. Use environmentally friendly paint and varnish
    The natural paints use less chemicals, which means less energy at factories to produce them, less stress on our planet and ultimately when these chemical paints are used they end up in our waterways, which is one way that they become polluted from the noxious and toxic chemicals in the regular paints. This means plant and marine life in those waterways are destroyed or become very polluted, which in turn affects us when we eat them.

    Buy environmentally friendly natural paints and varnish, they use much less chemicals in them, which equates to less energy to produce them and they do not destroy plant and marine life in the same way that the regular, chemical paints do. In addition to this, these types of paints and varnishes are recommended for those people with allergies, asthma and other upper and lower respiratory illness, as they irritate the respiratory linings less. Another good reason to switch now.

    If you use these environmentally friendly tips as a way of life, it will decrease your carbon emission footprint on the planet.

    Go on, do it, your planet, the only one we have, will thank you for it - and so will your children's children and their children's children, who need to have a sustainable planet Earth to survive.

    Tuesday, 2 July 2013

    Green tips for your home - to detoxify your home (part 1)

    You can implement many strategies to ensure your home is greener, environmentally friendly and less toxic, both for you and for the earth. This is part 1 of the way to detoxify your home to ensure it is greener.


    1. Pot plants
    Pot plants are natural air filters, which help to detoxify and improve the air in the rooms that they reside in - they are much more effective (and cheaper) than the air filters that can be purchased in shops. Research shows that plants absorb toxins such as cigarette smoke, pollution from car fumes, carpet, wooden floor lacquer and even the fumes given off by new furniture (from the lacquers, glues and even fabric coverings). Plants just suck up all these toxins and release good-quality oxygen into the air around them. Plants basically take in all the rubbish and release all the excellent oxygen to ensure the air is healthy and breathable.

    The most effective benefit of having plants inside your home, especially if you have an apartment, is that the plants are providing more oxygen into the air, by removing some of the pollutants from the air around them. This is positive both for you and for the earth. Less pollution means less greenhouse gases and this is what will help reduce the toxic load on the planet.

    The best types of plants that help to humidify and freshen up stuffy environments are: Mexican cacti, spider plants, ivy, rubber plants and gerbera daisies.

    So if you live close to a main street, in a busy city or just want to improve the quality of air in your apartment or house, why not get yourself a lovely, health-giving plant to help your improve the air you breath.

    2. Showerheads
    It is really simple to install an energy efficient showerhead to reduce the amount of water that comes through, which means less use of hot water, less energy usage. This is a really simple, cost-effective way to reduce the amount of water used. Many areas of the world are experiencing drought conditions and if everyone had an energy efficient showerhead, it would reduce a great deal of stress on water usage.

    Remember, water is a precious resource, without which all life would perish, so use it wisely.


    3. Native plants in the garden
    Plants which are native to the area you live in are usually more hardier and will survive longer, need less gardening and less water. This puts less stress on the water supplies in your area.


    4. Composting
    This is a great way to get rid of natural waste, which is unbelievably beneficial for your garden and helps to reduce the amount of garbage in our dumps. Ensure you separate all your plant-based garbage into a separate container at home, in order to take it to the compost heap in your backyard on a regular basis. Compostings is an excellent way to keep your plants, trees and shrubs healthy that is free! There can be initial costs in setting up the compost bin, but there are equally simple ways to make your own, at no cost too. All the plant-based waste you put into the compost bin will decompose and provide excellent food for your plants when it is ready to be spread around the garden.


    5. Use pavers/tiles
    Instead of using concrete in outdoor driveways, pavements and exposed entertainment areas, consider using tiles/pavers instead. Concrete heats up very quickly and gives out heat, which means that if there is a concreted area near your house, it will radiate that heat toward the house, making it hotter and making it necessary to use air conditioning to cool the house. The Paver/tiles on the other hand, are much cooler in temperature, do not radiate heat to surrounding areas, are much more aesthetically pleasing to the eye and can even be placed so that vegetation grows in between the tiles/pavers.

    Tuesday, 14 May 2013

    Re-usable shoppping bags are better for the environment

    Use Your Own Shopping Bags

    You can implement many strategies to ensure your home is greener, environmentally friendly and less toxic, both for you and for the earth. This post will talk about having using your own shopping bags when you go shopping.

    Using less plastic bags at the shops will decrease the amount of plastic that is in our rubbish dumps. This plastic takes so many years to become decomposed and produces more stress on our planet. Even the environmentally friendly bags are not as effective as taking your own shopping bags to use and reusing these over and over again, every time you go shopping.

    As you can see, there are so many ways to save the planet, which use up less energy, produce less pollution, save you more money and help your physical fitness. It's a win-win situation. So what are you waiting for?  Search Amazon.com for reusable grocery bags