Wednesday, July 29, 2015

We're Moving!

We have a special announcement for our readers this week.... 

For some time, we've been considering separating the topics that this blog covers, and starting a new blog specifically related to green and sustainable living, and we're proud to announce that it's finally LIVE!

This new site will bring you up-to-date news, tips, and articles to help you live a cleaner, greener, and more sustainable lifestyle - all in a current, easy-to-use format.

Check Out the New Site At

We also have a new Facebook page dedicated specifically to this topic - be sure to Like us to stay up to date on the most current sustainable living news!

We are also working on a separate blog on natural, holistic health, and this will contain information about detoxifying and reducing your toxic load, so if you're looking for those topics, stay tuned - we will post an update here when that site is ready. In the meantime, you can check out the new Facebook page on these topics at

We've enjoyed sharing healthy and green living resources with you here over the years, and are excited to continue to do so in a more updated and regular format on the new site!

Come on over and check us out, and we'll see you there!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

3 Tips for Choosing and Installing Energy-Efficient Doors

Selecting and installing an energy efficient door can help you reduce your electric bill, as well as keep your rooms at a more comfortable temperature without having to turn on the AC or the heater.

Some door improvements cost a lot of money. For example, if you decided to completely replace your door, that's going to be a heavy investment. Other improvements, such as weatherstripping, are easy and inexpensive.

Here's what you need to know about installing energy-efficient doors.

1. What Kind of Door Should You Choose?

There are primarily three types of doors you can choose from: wood, steel and fiberglass.

However, if you want to conserve the maximum amount of energy possible, the best kind of door you can choose is a steel door that's wrapped in wood.

This kind of door will give you the great look that a wooden door does, while giving you maximum insulating power.

2. Weatherstripping: Is More Important Than the Door

English: common aluminum and glass residential...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Even more important than the door are the areas around the door.

Most heat in the door area doesn't escape from passing through the door. Instead, it escapes through the gaps under the door or the seams on the side of the door.

As a rule of thumb, if you can slide a piece of paper anywhere from inside the house to the outside of the house with the door closed, you have a serious air and energy leak.

Weatherstripping is the process of sealing up these gaps to make sure no heat or coolness escapes to the outside. You do this by sealing the bottom of the door and the seams along the door.

Weatherstripping costs much, much less than buying a new door and can have a much bigger effect. You can even do it yourself by going down to Home Depot and buying the weatherstripping supplies you need.

3. Understanding "R Value"

One final thing to understand about door energy conservation is "R Value."

Your R Value is how heat resistant the glass on your door is. If you have a door panel, glass doors or even just decorative glass on your door, a lot of heat can escape through that glass.

The higher the R Value, the less heat escapes. When you're buying your door, make sure you take your R value into account.

If everything else in your house is designed to conserve heat but your door has a low R value, you might want to consider getting the glass replaced.

Choosing, installing and leak-proofing your door can take several weeks. Remember that all the effort you put into it will pay off in energy saving in the future. You'll also be helping reduce your environmental footprint by using less energy.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Using Passive Solar Windows for Home Heating & Cooling

Installing passive solar windows is a one-time investment that can help you save energy over a long period of time. During summer, it can help keep the heat out and the cool air in. During winter, it can help keep the heat in and maximize the heating rays of the sun.

However, the effects of different climates means that people need to position and install their windows differently to take advantage of solar windows' various properties.

English: Novel construction of Education Cente...
Shaded windows keep the heat out in warmer climates. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
1. Passive Solar Windows for Hot and Sunny Climates

In hot and sunny climates, glazed windows should be installed towards the south of the house.

This allows the windows to collect heat when the sun is low in the sky during the day. That means the house won't overheat by allowing the sun's rays into the house during peak hours.

You can also use a number of shielding devices such as awnings or overhangs to prevent overheating during summer.

Other windows in the house can still be installed, but they should have a shade or glaze installed so they let less light into the house. Having north facing windows in a hot and sunny climate can also lead to overheating.

2. Passive Solar Windows for Cool Climates

Passive solar design using an unvented trombe ...
Passive solar design using an unvented trombe wall and summer shading (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
There are two main strategies for heating up a home with passive solar windows in cold climates: trombe walls and using a greenhouse methodology.

A trombe wall is a big wall, usually painted black, which allows you to absorb heat into the house without heat leaking out.

The main concern with using a big window is that while the sun's rays can come into the home and heat up the air, the glass conducts heat so well that it can all escape back through the glass.

The trombe wall solves this issue by trapping the heated air between the glass and the trombe wall, then circulating it into the house before the heat has a chance to escape through the glass.

The greenhouse approach uses similar technology to a greenhouse to keep heated air in the house. You use a large number of windows to let the sun's rays into your house, then you use a controlled timer to circulate the air within your house in a way that optimizes the heat and reduces the amount of heat that escapes through the same glass windows that let the heat in.

 Are Passive Solar Windows for You?

Passive solar windows can work for both hot and cold climates, whether there's a lot of sun or just a little bit of sun.

To determine whether or not your home qualifies for passive solar windows, talk to an environmental contractor in your area. Make sure you get several different opinions to get a definitive sense of whether or not it's worth the investment, as they can be pricey - but they can also save you a lot - especially on heating bills - in the long run.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

The Benefits of Energy-Efficient Lighting With LEDs

One of the easiest changes you can make to decrease your energy costs and make your home more eco-friendly is to update your lighting choices.

Did you know that lighting costs account for about 25% of the average American's energy bill? That cost, when multiplied over a year, becomes an astronomical figure!

CFL and LED light bulbs have helped change that. Using energy saving technology, you can reduce your energy bill by 1/3rd to 1/25th of your original lighting costs.

Though LED lights used to be incredibly expensive, breakthroughs over the last few years have brought their cost down dramatically. Today, they're a better value than both CFL and everyday light bulbs.

Here are some of the many benefits of energy-efficient LEDs.
  • Generates Twenty Times Less Heat
Diagram showing the major parts of a modern in...
Diagram showing the major parts of a modern incandescent light bulb. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Heat energy is dissipated from an average light bulb. That heat energy uses up electricity to generate itself, energy that you're paying for.

In addition, many Americans then have to spend even more electricity to cool their homes in part because of the heat generated from light bulbs.

LEDs on the other hand generate almost no heat - twenty times less than a standard light bulb.
  •  Much Longer Lasting
A regular light bulb works by heating up a filament in an oxygen-free environment. Unfortunately, the light bulb dies when the filament burns out.

An LED light on the other hand has no filament. As a result, they last much longer.

A good LED light can last as much as ten times longer than the average light bulb.
  •  Reduced Lifetime Costs
The standard light bulb costs five to ten times more in energy than its upfront costs.

An LED light on the other hand costs more upfront, but conserves a lot more energy in the long run.

In terms of total dollars invested over its lifetime, LED lights are a better value than standard light bulbs and even CFL light bulbs.
  • Better for the Environment
Standard light bulbs are terrible for the environment because mercury is used in the manufacturing process.

The chemical waste problem is compounded by the sheer volume of light bulbs that need to be produced.

English: A selection of commercially available...
A selection of commercially available LED light bulbs. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Because standard light bulbs burn out so often and need to be replaced, the waste the standard household produces is astronomical.

CFLs last a lot longer than standard florescent light bulbs, but they still contain mercury - in even slightly higher amounts.

LED lights are much better for the environment, because no mercury is used in the production process. You also need to replace them much less often, which means less waste.

These are some of the many benefits of energy-efficient LEDs.

And replacing the light bulbs in your home is as easy as noting the wattage and going down to your local hardware store to buy LED lights.

There are quite a few choices you can choose from. You can get diffused bulbs, which take the concentrated light and turn it into a more spread out kind of light. You can get high power diffused, which are similar to 100 watt standard bulbs. You can also get them in track lighting, spotlight and floodlight forms.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Try These Simple Improvements for a Greener Home

Want to make your home greener without having to spend too much time and energy on it? There are a few simple things you can do that'll make your home more green literally overnight with very little effort.

Here are a few simple improvements you can make for a greener home.

1. Invest in Auto-Off Lights

Getting a light switch system that automatically turns off is a great way to save energy and help the environment.

This is an especially good idea if you have a hard time remembering to turn off the light or have children who aren't in the habit of turning the lights off (and who doesn't?) :-)

2. Purchase Energy Saving Light Bulbs

English: Compact fluorescent light bulb
Energy-saving compact fluorescent light bulb. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Energy saving light bulbs use much less energy than the typical light bulb. They generate less heat and produce just as much light as your typical light bulb.

Yes, they are slightly more expensive than a run-of-the-mill light bulb. However, if you care about going green, this is a really simple way to do so - and they can last 5-20 times as long, so you actually save a lot of money in the long run! CFLs and LEDs are two types of energy-saving bulbs you can find just about anywhere these days.

3. Use Water Conserving Shower Heads

Water conserving shower heads are very affordable, easy to install and can help you save a lot of money on your water bills.

Essentially what they do is inject air inside the streams of water. It still feels like you're getting a full blast of water on your body when you shower, but you're actually using a lot less water. I absolutely love mine!

4. Improve Your House's Insulation

Improving your home's insulation can save you a lot of energy in the long run. It might take a bit of upfront investment, but it'll easily pay for itself.

Insulation will help you keep the heat in during winter and the heat out in summer. It'll help you reduce both your air conditioning and heating bills.

Different kinds of homes and different climates work best with different kinds of insulation. Talk to a local expert to figure out your exact cost to benefit ratio.
5. Use Green Products Wherever Possible

There are many places you can opt to go green in your house. You can buy eco-friendly biodegradable dishwashing soap instead of commercial detergents. You can buy organic soap and shampoo in your local Whole Foods instead of mass produced soap.

You can buy biodegradable plastics instead of plastics that clog up landfills. You can buy products made from recyclable products or which are themselves recyclable, instead of products that contribute to our unsustainable waste growth.

These are just some of the many ways you can go green. Just about every room in your house can benefit from going green. Often going green means not only helping the environment, but also saving money for your family. It takes a little bit of effort in the beginning to set up your home properly, but the rewards more than justify the effort in the long run.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Natural Laundry Cleaning Solutions

A lot of consumers use off-the-shelf commercial products to clean their laundry. Sometimes the choice is made based on the least expensive laundry product, or the product offering a coupon for the week.

Laundry is listed as one of the least favorite chores, and the fact is that no one really likes to do laundry, but everyone loves to have clean, fresh smelling clothes. But by using laundry solutions that contain synthetic ingredients, you’re cleaning your clothes in harmful chemicals.

These chemicals don’t always come out in the rinse cycle. Then if you toss the clothes into the dryer and add a chemically treated dryer sheet or you use a liquid fabric softener, you’re adding even more chemicals! Laundry cleaning solutions are one of the top causes of skin allergies and eye irritants.

This is probably the world's biggest laundry m...
Clean laundry drying in the sun. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
But by choosing to go the more natural way and use organic or natural products, you won’t miss out on that freshly laundered smell and appearance. You’re still going to have clothes that look their best and smell great, too. What you will miss out on are the things that aren’t healthy for your body or the environment.

You can use laundry cleaning solutions you make at home, but this is time consuming and if you’re just getting started with using natural cleaners, it’ll take some time before you get the hang of making the mixture.

An easy way to go natural and save time is to use a ready-made natural or organic laundry cleaner. Not all laundry cleaners that claim to be natural really are, so you’ll have to check the ingredients carefully. The natural or organic cleaners that are best for both you and your clothes will say that they’re without any synthetic dyes, and they won’t contain any phosphates.

Look for laundry detergents that say that they’re free from chlorine chemicals. Also look for labels that say the product is hypoallergenic, and the ingredients are based on plants and not on synthetics. You can buy concentrated natural laundry detergents in larger containers to save money. Many have great, natural scents. (My favorite is Earth Friendly Products Ecos Lemongrass - I've been using it for years and it works wonderfully and smells great!)

To whiten clothes, especially clothes that have stains, you can use Borax to treat them. If you have sweat stains on shirts, put some vinegar in a spray bottle and cover the stain with the vinegar. Let sit a few minutes, then launder.

For clothing that needs to be pretreated for stains like an ink stain, you can put the clothing in vinegar. The smell isn’t all that great while it’s soaking, but it does come out in the wash and the vinegar will remove the ink stain. Vinegar is also an excellent stain remover to rid clothes of tomato-based stains.

Once you’ve pretreated any stains, just wash the clothes in a natural or organic detergent for a healthier way to clean your laundry that’s better for your health and safer for the environment!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

A Safer, Healthier Way to Clean Your Dishes

Food is the center of many of life’s celebrations, but at the end of the celebrating, when all the guests are heading home, the clean up has to begin. Doing the dishes, whether you put them in a dishwasher or wash them by hand, takes up a lot of time. And depending on what you use to aid in the cleaning up, the products you use may be environmentally unfriendly and unsafe for your skin.

Natural and organic cleaners are safe and effective for every task you need to do - so that means you don’t have to skip using natural substances to clean your dishes, regardless of whether you choose to wash them by hand or load them in a dishwasher.

There are a lot of natural dish cleaners that can give your dishes sparkle and get them shiny clean. If you use a dishwasher, you can buy natural cleaning pods that come with delightful fragrances like lemon or thyme. This scent can give your entire kitchen a fresh smell - while still being safe for everyone.

A dishwasher containing clean dishes
A dishwasher load of clean dishes. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Because natural ingredients are often better at cleaning than chemicals, you might not need to use as much of the product when you do your dishes. Look for organic dishwashing detergents that don’t have any chlorine or phosphate in them.

Organic and naturally based cleaners can make a greasy clean up job a lot easier by cutting through the grease. And if you get the pre-measured dishwasher pods, this even cuts back on time spent in the kitchen, too. All you have to do is stick one into the dishwasher - no time needed to measure and no chance of accidentally overfilling the soap dish.

If you want to hand wash the dishes, then using natural soap won’t just clean your dishes without unsightly spots, but the soap is often better for your hands, too. Find one that contains aloe vera or chamomile to soothe your skin.

Instead of using dishwasher detergent that has synthetic scents and colors, use ones that have citrus extracts like lemon so that your kitchen is instantly refreshed after you cook a meal with strong odors.

You can even make an effective cleaner yourself just by using a mix of borax and baking soda with an essential oil scent of your choice. This may not have the beautiful color and suds that you had when you used store-bought dishwasher detergent, but you also won’t be putting anything harmful down your drain.

Make sure you play around with the do-it-yourself recipes for organic cleaners to find a formulation that works, because we all have different levels of hardness to our water. And watch how your skin reacts to the ingredients, too. Just because it's all-natural doesn't mean you can't have an allergic reaction. Depending on the ingredients, and your personal sensitivities, you still might need to wear gloves while cleaning.

Natural Dishwashing Soaps: