Tag Archive 'energy efficient'

Nov 16 2011

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Take Part in “Use Less Stuff Day” – The House Plan Shop

It is time to start a new holiday tradition. The Thursday before Thanksgiving is Use Less Stuff Day. Make a commitment or pledge to yourself to reduce your resource consumption during the holiday season.

 

Here are a few ideas:

 

  • Don’t buy too many groceries or prepare too much food for a holiday gathering. If you do prepare too much, send leftovers home with guests or reheat them the following day for yourself. Try your best not to throw away usable food.
  • Use less energy. Turn down the heat before a holiday party. The body heat of guests will keep the room warm, so lower the thermostat a few degrees.
  • Have a recycling plan. Set up recycling bins to capture all the wrapping paper, gift boxes, bottles, cans, plastic cups, etc. Inform your guests and make sure they know what items to recycle and where to place them.
  • Use fewer disposable paper products and eating utensils. If all your dinnerware, table settings and silverware must be matching sets, rent dinnerware, glassware and silverware for your holiday party. Otherwise, ask guests to bring their own and eliminate paper plates and plastic cups, forks, knives, etc.
  • Use cloth napkins that can be washed and reused at your next holiday gathering instead of buying disposable ones and filling the trash can.

 

Go ahead and make the commitment to use less stuff. Tell your friends and family about Use Less Stuff Day and work toward an environmentally-friendly holiday season without sacrificing the fun and joys all of us look forward to each year.

 

For more ideas about Use Less Stuff Day, please visit www.use-less-stuff.com.

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Dec 15 2009

Profile Image of Curtis Cadenhead

Live Green: 8 Earth-Friendly Ways to Celebrate the Season

Natural Christmas Decoration‘Tis the season to be jolly….and wasteful. A recent report stated Americans will create an extra 25 million tons of waste between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. Think about it. Wrapping paper filling trash cans. Light displays spiking electric bills. Trees jamming up landfills. And the list goes on. But THIS holiday season can be different. The following suggestions will help you change your habits and start a new tradition, celebrating the holidays in amazing earth-friendly fashion.

 

Turn Down the Amps – Leaving your holiday lights on 24 hours a day can significantly raise your energy bill. Use a timer for your light displays ensuring they are not left on all night. Also, when strands of lights wear out, replace them with LED lights which use about 90% less energy than standard mini-lights.

 

Candle Glow – The holidays are the perfect time to light up your home with candles. A decorative arrangement of tall and short candles in a room is usually enough to eliminate some, if not all, overhead lighting. Not only will you save electricity, but the candles will be part of your décor. Furthermore, with the heat from the candles and your own body heat, most rooms will warm up nicely over the course of an evening allowing you to lower the thermostat. The result – you’ll save on your energy bill. Remember to use caution around burning candles.

 

Use Natural Décor – Use locally grown items to decorate your home. Fill a basket with pinecones you collected at the park, and use it as a centerpiece on the dining room table. Snip a few branches from an evergreen bush or tree and create your own wreath for the door. Add pinecones and a bow or tuck citrus fruits into it for a pop of color. Make your own garland for the tree with popcorn, berries and nuts, for example.

 

Cut your Card List – Over 2.6 billing holiday cards are sold each year and most end up in the trash. Trim you card list by just a few recipients and send them an e-card instead. You’ll save on postage and reduce waste. When sending traditional cards, choose cards made of recycled paper. As for the cards you receive, cut them up, they will make great gift tags for next year.

 

Trim Creatively – There is no need to buy all new tree trimmings every year so you can have a new holiday look. Instead, create homemade ornaments. Make popcorn and cranberry garland or pinecone ornaments. Better yet, swap decorations with a friend each year. You’ll always have a fresh look.

 

Consider Alternative Gift Wrap – With so much wrapping paper ending up in the trash each year, use your imagination. Wrap gifts with other items like a colorful blanket, a furry scarf, a T-shirt. Anything that covers your package can work as gift wrap. Or, have your kids decorate used brown paper grocery bags. Put gifts inside the bags and staple them shut. As for the gifts you receive. Open them carefully saving the paper for next year’s wrapping.

 

Reuse Trimmings – Place a container in the middle of the room. Ask everyone to put bows, boxes, gift bags, and ribbons in the box for use next year.

 

Recycle – Face it. Gifts come with lots of wrapping and packaging. As you open gifts, recycle what you can, plastic, paper, cardboard, etc. Don’t stop there. Recycle your tree as well. Check with your local government or municipality. Some places recycle trees into mulch, others use them for animal habitats in parks and lakes. However you choose to recycle your tree, do it responsibly. Make sure all ornaments, hooks, tinsel and light strands are removed. Artificial trees can be recycled too. If you’re tired of your artificial tree, donate it to a church, community center, shelter or another place that decorates for the holidays.

 

The holidays are exciting, fun, and they are major waste makers. Now is the time to do your part and start changing the holidays for the better. These environmentally-friendly holiday tips will get you started.

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Oct 28 2009

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Energy Efficient Cooking in your New Home

House Plan 035H-0034When you built your new home, chances are you spent time researching the most energy efficient kitchen appliances before making your final choice. While selecting the most earth-friendly appliances is a huge step in the right direction when it comes to green living, there is still more you can do in the kitchen. Take a look at these “green” suggestions and see which ones you can incorporate into your kitchen and cooking routine.

 

·         If you have bright, sunny kitchen windows, pull back the curtains and prepare meals by natural light whenever possible. Only flip the switch on when necessary, but make sure to turn it off when you leave the room.

·         Unplug small appliances such as the toaster and coffee maker when not in use.

·         Consider no-waste baking. Buy a reusable, nonstick silicone baking mat to save on use of aluminum foil and parchment paper.

·         Avoid opening the oven while it is in use. Each time the oven door is opened, the temperature can drop as much as 25-50 degrees requiring more energy to warm it back up.

·         Place a lid on the pot when brining water to a boil to prevent heat and energy from escaping. Leaving the lid off extends cooking time and adds heat and moisture to the air making your air conditioner work harder throughout the summer months.

·         Make an effort to match pots and pans to the same size burner or heating element and center it on the flame or element to prevent heat from escaping.

·         Choose the right size pot or pan for the job. It takes more energy to heat a large pot or pan, so choose smaller ones when appropriate to save energy.

·         Whenever possible, use the same pot or pan for multiple foods.

·         Make smart decisions about running the dishwasher. Dishwashers are designed to get the dishes clean no matter how dirty they are or what was baked in them. There is no need to pre-rinse. Save the water instead. Also, only run the dishwasher when it is full, conserving water and energy. Skipping the drying cycle is a plus saving even more energy and keeping the kitchen cool.

·         Take advantage of the freezer. A full freezer uses less energy to cool than an empty one. Stock your freezer buying large quantities of meats and vegetables when they are on sale (saving you cash) and freeze them for future use (saving you a trip to the grocery store later.)

 

There are many other things you can do to make earth-friendly and energy efficient choices in the kitchen. Beginning with these tips will get you started down the right path.

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Aug 06 2009

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Green Building: 7 Earth-Friendly Building Tips

House Plan 001H-0012If you are planning to build a new home, it is important to consider including green building techniques.  Green building is a huge step in the right direction for healthy and responsible living so take some time to develop a green building plan with your builder. Incorporating just a few of these tips and ideas will not only result in an energy efficient home, but also you feel good about taking responsibility for the impact your new home will have on the environment. Consider these tips:

 

1.     Keep it small – The best green homes have just enough space and no more cutting down on use of building materials, heating and cooling costs and more. Also consider building up instead of out. This technique requires less foundation and roofing materials and leaves more green space.

2.     Incorporate renewable energy – Position your home to take advantage of natural lighting. If possible, incorporate other renewable energy techniques such as solar panels.

3.     Use the benefits of your building site – Take advantage of the features on your lot that will provide economical benefits. Visit the lot with your builder, note the special features and build around them. Rather than cutting down mature trees to clear the lot, build near them. The extra shade will cut down on cooling costs. Build near evergreens. They work well as a wind block.  

4.     Develop a recycling plan – There is no need to waste materials. Order only the building materials you will need. Return anything that is unused. Recycle any partially used materials, donate them to a worthy cause or keep them for a future building project.

5.     Plan for durability – Durability is one of the most important factors in green building. Selecting strong and durable materials ensures a long life. Choose materials that will stand the test of time requiring little or no remodeling in the future.

6.     Incorporate a recycling and composting center – Face it, families generate a lot of waste. Be sure to include a space for a family recycling center. Also consider yard waste. Include plans to have your own composting area in the backyard for grass clippings, leaves, etc.

7.     Choose green materials – Incorporate energy efficient and green building materials. Energy efficient materials include everything from insulation with a high R value to low flow toilets and Energy Star rated appliances. Also choose wood wisely. Look for wood products provided through sustainable wood companies.

 

There are many ways you can incorporate green building practices in the construction of you new home. Talk with your builder about these suggested techniques and any discuss other earth-friendly options the builder recommends for your area.

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