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10 Easy Things to Make Your Home Smarter

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10 Easy Things to Make Your Home Smarter

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Keep Your Home And Yourself Cool Now That Heatwave Time Is Here

Who doesn’t love summer? Wait, do I see a few hands being shyly raised? Well, go head and admit it: summertime is absolutely incredible . until it’s not. When the thermometer starts to climb up past that 90-degree mark, the heat is on and suddenly sunny turns into steamy. Your electricity bills start to shoot up too, and you worry about the effect on the environment. Fortunately, there are ways to keep cool at home without cranking the thermostat up, up, and away.

Refresh yourself fast.

After commuting home from the office or doing some work in your garden, give yourself a quick, cool lift without cranking up the ol’ A/C. Takea mini “shower” by spritzing face and neck with cold water from a plant sprayer. Alternatively, change into a T-shirt that you stashed in the freezer before you headed out. Or you can simply cuddle up with an ice pack. (Wrap it in a dishtowel to prevent skin damage, please.)

Stay hydrated.

Drink lots of water during a heatwave, even indoors. Remember that if you begin to feel thirsty, that’s a sign you’re already beginning to dehydrate. As well as watching your fluid intake, replenish your electrolytes with natural yogurt,coconut water, or miso broth (lukewarm if the very idea of hot soup gives you the heebie-jeebies). Think of your animal friends, as well make sure your pet’s water dish is constantly full of clean water.

Tune up your air conditioner.

Make yourair conditioningrun more efficiently: give it a tune-up every summer and clean the filter at least once a month in the warm weather, more oftenif you live on a dusty area or have furry pets. To save even more energy, set the temperature two or three degrees higher than you normally would and supplement with a fan.

Dehumidify.

You will feel cooler if the relative humidity indoors is fairly low. Forty degrees is comfortable for most people. To reach this level, use the dehumidifying function on your A/C or a separate dehumidifier.

Don’t add useless heat.

Turn off as many electrical appliances and lights possible when not in use, to avoid adding unnecessary heat to your home. A timer,smart home system, or power strip will make this task easier. Include your fan in the list of appliances to switch off; it cools people not air, so it can only do its job when someone is in the room.

Hang thermal window treatments.

Hanging sun- and heat-blocking curtains and blinds is an inexpensive, eco-friendly way to keep your home cooler. They are especially useful when you have unshaded south or west facing windows. These exposures tend to make your house nice and sunny, which is pleasant when the weather is mild, but HOT in the summer.

Take advantage of cooler nighttime air.

Open draperies and windows themselves at night. This works when both the dew point andpollen countare low, usually below 50. The pollen count starts to increase shortly after the sun comes up, so close all those open windows as early in the morning as you can.

Insulate your attic.

Attic insulation is not just for winter. It will also help reduce heat exchange in summer, increasing your A/C energy efficiency by keeping hot airoutsideand air conditioned airinsideyour home. You will feel more comfortable while using less electricity. No wonder this upgrade offers the best return on investment of any home improvement, according toRemodeling Magazine’s annual report. HANDY HINT: If you already have insulation but it’s not enough for your needs, you can install more right on top of the existing insulation. Just don’t put a vapor barrier between the two.

Handle your thermostat with TLC.

Test this useful device to make sure that it is functioning as it should. Move heat-producing appliances like lamps or TV sets away from the thermostat so that they don’t trigger it to get the air conditioner going needlessly.

By Laura Firszt,Networx.

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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Keep Your Home And Yourself Cool Now That Heatwave Time Is Here

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How to Monitor and Control Indoor Air Quality in Your Home

The air that we breathe is, quite literally, our life source. But it could also, quite possibly, be killing us. Air quality is becoming a modern crisis, with the World Health Organization (WHO) classifying air pollution as the worlds largest health risk, linking one in eight total global deaths to air pollution exposure, both indoor and out.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the air inside our homes is commonly five times more polluted than that of the outdoors, and in some cases, up to 10 times. So, what can you do to protect your health, and that of your family, from this silent killer lurking in your home? Detect and correct. Find out what is causing air pollution in your home and then take whatever steps you can to help correct or mitigate those causes. Here well look at how you can achieve this.

What Is Indoor Air Pollution?

Poor indoor air quality is caused by particle matter in the air, most commonly from dust and smoke (commonly released into the air from burning oil, gas, wood and coal in the home); carbon dioxide from those same sources; volatile organic compounds (VOCs) released by both natural and manmade materials (primary culprits are paints, stains, cleaning solutions and glues in furniture and carpets) and humidity, which can cause mold to grow in our homes and offices.

According to the WHO, pollutants found in indoor air that are known to be health hazards include:

benzene
carbon monoxide
formaldehyde
naphthalene
nitrogen dioxide
polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons
radon
trichloroethylene
tetrachloroethylene

How to Get Cleaner Air

Cleaning up the air we breathe prevents non-communicable diseases as well as reduces disease risks among women and vulnerable groups, including children and the elderly, says Dr. Flavia Bustreo, WHO Assistant Director-General.

One of the simplest ways to do this in your own home is to regularly change the filters in your heating and air conditioning system. Check them at least once a month for build-up, and replace them at least every three months. Invest in high-efficiency air filters with a MERV rating of 8 or higher. (This is the Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value that assesses the overall effectiveness of air filters. A higher rating equals finer filtration.)

The second simplest step to take is ventilate your home. Open doors, windows, turn on fans and get the air circulating, especially if you have recently introduced something into your home that may be off-gassing chemicalssuch as new carpet or flooring.

What to Get Rid Of

You can help keep your air cleaner by banishing or reducing some of the following from your home:

Dont allow anyone to smoke in or near your home.
Never idle a car in or near the garage.
Remove all chemicals and toxic materials from your garage, especially if its attached to the house.
Reduce carpeting, which traps unhealthy particles that are released again when vacuuming.
Replace chemical based cleaners and detergents with those with natural ingredients, and avoid using products with fragrance (such as air fresheners and carpet deodorizers), as these can contribute to the formation of formaldehyde and other nasty VOCs.

What to Invest In

Use alternatives to traditional items that give off VOCs and invest in some tools and tests to keep your homes air healthier:

Install a carbon monoxide detector to alert you when levels of this deadly gas, produced by the incomplete burning of carbon-based fuels, rise rapidly.
Buy no- or low-VOC paints/stains when redecorating or doing projects in the home.
Have a radon test done on your home. A colorless, odorless gas, radon is the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers.
Fix leaks in your roof and/or basement, to avoid creating conditions that can grow mold.
Combat humidity to further reduce the risk of mold with a dehumidifier. Keeping levels below 50 percent also helps keep dust mites, another indoor air pollutant, at bay.

Go High Tech

One of the challenges in combating indoor air quality is knowing exactly what the problem is. As weve seen, indoor air quality is affected by myriad different elements. If you or your family are suffering from specific ailments or are at higher risk from contaminated air, consider purchasing an indoor air quality (IAQ) monitor. The good news is these devices, which used to cost thousands of dollars, are now a lot more affordable thanks to advances in wireless and sensor technology.

An IAQ monitor can measure VOCs, humidity, particulate matter and carbon dioxide, and alert you when levels rise so you can take action. They will also help you understand what pollutants are present in your home and at what levels, so you can work on eradicating them over the long term. Many new IAQ monitors are Wi-Fi connected and use data from the internet combined with learning software to monitor your air quality and help you understand what is specifically causing your air pollution.

A few examples of consumer IAQs on the market today include Foobot and AWAIR (both around $200). They can track VOCs, particulate matter and CO2, as well as temperature and humidity. They also work with some smart thermostats, such as Nest and Ecobee, triggering them to activate the fan if levels rise too high and give you actionable insights into your air quality.

If you are specifically concerned about humidity and temperature, less-expensive devices such as the Leeo Smart Alert ($50) and First Alert Onelink Environment Monitor ($70) can track both. The Leeo can also listen for the sound of smoke and CO alarms and alert you on your smart phone. The Onelink is also a CO monitor, making it a good option for a baby or childs room.

The important thing to remember about indoor air quality is that everything you bring into your home is contributing to it in some waygood or bad. Its crucial to be proactive: Check products for VOCs before you purchase, add houseplants to help filter the air naturally, and be sure to ventilate properly when cooking or burning any fossil fuels.

As an earth-conscious mom and tech guru, Jennifer Tuohywrites for The Home Depot about how you can use technology to become more sustainable. She provide tips on how to save money and energy, from switching to LED bulbs to using an Wi-Fi-enabled monitor to alert you when you need to change your air filters.

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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How to Monitor and Control Indoor Air Quality in Your Home

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Some massive hands are propping up Venice because climate change.

In early May, laborers harvesting cabbage in a field near Bakersfield, California, caught a whiff of an odor. Some suddenly felt nauseated.

A local news station reported that winds blew the pesticide Vulcan — which was being sprayed on a mandarin orchard owned by the produce company Sun Pacific — into Dan Andrews Farms’ cabbage patch.

Vulcan’s active ingredient, chlorpyrifos, has been banned for residential use for more than 15 years. It was scheduled to be off-limits to agriculture this year — until the EPA gave it a reprieve in March. Kern County officials are still confirming whether Sun Pacific’s insecticide contained chlorpyrifos.

More than 50 farmworkers were exposed, and 12 reported symptoms, including vomiting and fainting. One was hospitalized. “Whether it’s nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, seek medical attention immediately,” a Kern County Public Health official warned.

If chlorpyrifos’ presence is confirmed, the EPA may have some explaining to do. The Dow Chemical compound is a known neurotoxin, and several studies connect exposure to it with lower IQ in children and other neurological deficits.

The Scott Pruitt–led agency, however, decided that — and stop me if you’ve heard this one before — the science wasn’t conclusive.

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Some massive hands are propping up Venice because climate change.

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That ridiculous heatwave really was caused by climate change.

The order, which Trump will sign Wednesday, directs the Interior Department to review all national monument designations over 100,000 acres made from 1996 onwards.

That includes between 24 and 40 monuments — notably, Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante in Utah, and Mojave Trails in California.

During the review, the Interior Department can suggest that monuments be resized, revoked, or left alone, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said at a briefing on Tuesday. We can expect a final report this summer that will tell us which monument designations, if any, will be changed.

Environmental groups are already voicing opposition. If designations are removed, it could make it easier to eliminate protections and open land to special interests like fossil fuels.

Zinke, a self-proclaimed conservationist, said, “We can protect areas of cultural and economic importance and even use federal lands for economic development when appropriate — just as Teddy Roosevelt envisioned.”

In between further adulations of his hero, Zinke said that he would undertake the “enormous responsibility” with care. “No one loves our public lands more than I,” he said. “You can love them as much — but you can’t love them more than I do.”

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That ridiculous heatwave really was caused by climate change.

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Big oil just got a pass on methane reporting.

In some parts of the country, the season just breezed in three weeks ahead of schedule. Balmy weather may seem like more good news after an already unseasonably warm winter, but pause a beat before you reach for your flip-flops.

According to the “spring index,” a long-term data set which tracks the start of the season from year-to-year, spring is showing up earlier and earlier across the United States.

The culprit behind the trend? Climate change. And it’s bringing a batch of nasty consequences. Early warmth means early pests, like ticks and mosquitoes, and a longer, rougher allergy season. Agriculture and tourism can be thrown off, too. Washington D.C.’s cherry blossoms usually draw crowds in April, for instance, but they’re projected to peak three weeks early this year.

Spring isn’t shifting smoothly, either. It’s changing in fits and starts. Eggs are hatching and trees are losing their leaves, but temperatures could easily plunge again, with disastrous consequences for new baby animals and plants.

Play this out another 80 years, and it’s easy to imagine a world out of sync. Sure, your picnic in December sounds nice. But bees could lose their wildflowers, and groundhogs may never see their shadows again.

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Big oil just got a pass on methane reporting.

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Spring just keeps getting earlier. Guess what’s behind it?

In some parts of the country, the season just breezed in three weeks ahead of schedule. Balmy weather may seem like more good news after an already unseasonably warm winter, but pause a beat before you reach for your flip-flops.

According to the “spring index,” a long-term data set which tracks the start of the season from year-to-year, spring is showing up earlier and earlier across the United States.

The culprit behind the trend? Climate change. And it’s bringing a batch of nasty consequences. Early warmth means early pests, like ticks and mosquitoes, and a longer, rougher allergy season. Agriculture and tourism can be thrown off, too. Washington D.C.’s cherry blossoms usually draw crowds in April, for instance, but they’re projected to peak three weeks early this year.

Spring isn’t shifting smoothly, either. It’s changing in fits and starts. Eggs are hatching and trees are losing their leaves, but temperatures could easily plunge again, with disastrous consequences for new baby animals and plants.

Play this out another 80 years, and it’s easy to imagine a world out of sync. Sure, your picnic in December sounds nice. But bees could lose their wildflowers, and groundhogs may never see their shadows again.

Original post: 

Spring just keeps getting earlier. Guess what’s behind it?

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These maps show what Americans think about climate change.

In some parts of the country, the season just breezed in three weeks ahead of schedule. Balmy weather may seem like more good news after an already unseasonably warm winter, but pause a beat before you reach for your flip-flops.

According to the “spring index,” a long-term data set which tracks the start of the season from year-to-year, spring is showing up earlier and earlier across the United States.

The culprit behind the trend? Climate change. And it’s bringing a batch of nasty consequences. Early warmth means early pests, like ticks and mosquitoes, and a longer, rougher allergy season. Agriculture and tourism can be thrown off, too. Washington D.C.’s cherry blossoms usually draw crowds in April, for instance, but they’re projected to peak three weeks early this year.

Spring isn’t shifting smoothly, either. It’s changing in fits and starts. Eggs are hatching and trees are losing their leaves, but temperatures could easily plunge again, with disastrous consequences for new baby animals and plants.

Play this out another 80 years, and it’s easy to imagine a world out of sync. Sure, your picnic in December sounds nice. But bees could lose their wildflowers, and groundhogs may never see their shadows again.

See the original post: 

These maps show what Americans think about climate change.

Posted in alo, Anchor, Everyone, FF, G & F, GE, LAI, ONA, oven, PUR, Ringer, Safer, Thermos, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on These maps show what Americans think about climate change.

13 Green Tips That Can Save You Over $5,000 A Year

Simple shifts to greener versions of the products you already buy can save you as much as $5,000 a year. Oh, and you’ll reduce the amount of energy you use and how much trash you throw away, too.  Here are 13 green tips I’ve made personally that have saved me a bundle of money while making me feel good about doing my part to protect the planet.

13 great green tips

Choose compact fluorescent light bulbs

Estimated Savings: $5 – $10/yr/bulb x 4 bulbs = $20 – $40/yr

CFLs use 66% less energy than a regular incandescent light bulb and last ten times as long. Plus, each bulb you shift to will save you $5 – $10 per year in electricity costs. That’s as much as $100 over the lifetime of every bulb you buy. Start by switching out bulbs in the four lights you use the most: your kitchen ceiling light, your bathroom ceiling light, two lamps in your living room or family room. Switch to LED lighting, and you’ll save even more on bulbs that last even longer than CFLs.

Try a reusable water bottle

Estimated Savings: $250 – $500/yr

Bottled water can cost 10,000 times more than tap water! Why? Because you’re paying for all kinds of things BESIDES water: the bottle, the water wasted during the bottling process, the energy used to bottle the water and transport the bottle to your store, the paper label on the bottle, and the bottle cap. Purchase a reusable water bottle for less than $20 and fill it up at home or at work. With these savings, you can buy a water filter for your tap if it makes you feel better, or buy a reusable bottle that comes with its own filter.

Take lunch to work

Estimated Savings: $1560/yr

This green tip is a big money saver, but you probably never thought it was a planet saver, too. Why is it so eco-friendly to take your own lunch to work? Because you’re not using all the throwaway plastic and paper packaging that a take-out lunch involves, especially if you use a reusable lunch bag and food containers.

Programmable thermostat. Image courtesy of _vikram

Program your thermostat

Estimated Savings: $150/yr

Every time you adjust the thermostat to reduce your heating or cooling needs, you save money. But remembering to make the adjustment can be a challenge. The beauty of a programmable thermostat is that it does the adjusting for you. Set the controls to moderate temperatures, and enjoy watching your energy bills decrease.

Put in low flow shower heads, toilets

Estimated Savings: $72/yr

Most conventional shower heads and toilets use an excessive amount of water, wasting a precious resource along with your hard-earned dollars. Replace your existing shower head with a high-impact low flow model to enjoy the same quality but using far less water. Older model toilets may use as much as six gallons of water per flush; newer models only need 1.6 gallons (or less) to get the job done.

Plug in to a smart power strip

Estimated Savings: $94/yr

Computers, fax machines, monitors, answering machines, televisions and other electronics are called “vampires” because they keep sucking energy out of the electrical sockets they’re plugged in to even when they’re turned off. In fact, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, electric appliances use 40% of their energy when they’re turned off! You can cut that – and your energy bill – simply by plugging your electronics into an energy-saving power strip.

Insulate windows, doors with weather stripping

Estimated Savings: $129/yr

A lot of energy is wasted in winter and summer alike when cooled or heated air escapes through cracks around windows and doors. Caulking windows and weather-stripping doors reduces the losses to everything but your pocketbook.

Improve car fuel economy

Estimated Savings: $1050/yr

With gas prices averaging around $2.50 a gallon, every gallon of gas you save puts real money back in your wallet. Burning less gas generates a lot less smog and air pollution, and reduces the impact driving has on climate change, too. If you replace a car that gets only 20 mpg with one that gets 40 mpg, you’ll save $750/yr at today’s gas prices. When prices rise, a fuel efficient car saves you even more. Learn to drive “smart.” Following the speed limit, driving at a consistent speed, keeping the engine tuned up and your tires inflated, will save an additional $300- $500/yr.

Skip one driving trip each week

Estimated Savings: $225/yr

Gasoline costs for individual trips can really add up. Replace at least one trip a week with a carpool, or shop online, telecommute, bicycle or walk to save fuel and money. You can find many more ways to cut your fuel costs at www.biggreenpurse.com.

Energy Star Energy Guide. Image courtesy of Andy Melton.

Buy ENERGY STAR appliances

Estimated Savings: $100/yr on energy, 7,000+ gallons of water

All ENERGY STAR appliances are designed to save energy, and clothes washers and dishwashers offer the added benefit of saving thousands of gallons of water over conventional models. Plus, many local utilities offer a $50 or $100 rebate when consumers trade in old refrigerators and air conditioners for new ENERGY STAR models.

Make Home Cleansers

Estimated Savings: $360/yr

You can save a small fortune by skipping commercial cleaning products and using simple and non-toxic ingredients you probably already have in your kitchen. You can clean almost any surface in your home with fragrance-free and biodegradable liquid soap, standard baking soda, hot water, and a sponge. For windows, mirrors and other glass surfaces, use a mixture of vinegar and water, and you’ll pay mere pennies per window to get the shine you want. You can find many green cleaning recipes here.

Buy Gently Used, Swap, or Get Free

Estimated Savings: $750/yr

Swap or trade what you already have for what you want. Use our recycling locator find recycling opportunities, or check listings at Craigslist.com, freecycle.org or your own neighborhood list-serv.

Sell Your Own Used Stuff

Estimated Savings: $350/yr

We all have more stuff than we can use. And we all throw away perfectly good items that someone else could use. From clothing and sports equipment to kitchenware, electronics and furniture, our trash can also generate some treasure. Take advantage of listservs, Ebay and Craigslist to sell what you no longer need or use. And don’t forget that tried-and-true method of keeping your perfectly good stuff in circulation: the neighborhood yard sale!

Total Estimated Savings: $5,110.00

What green shifts have you made that have saved you money? Do you have other green tips you’d like to share with others? Leave your comments below.

Featured image courtesy of Ken Neoh

About
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Diane MacEachern

Diane MacEachern is a best-selling author, award-winning entrepreneur and mother of two with a Master of Science degree in Natural Resources and the Environment. Glamour magazine calls her an “eco hero” and she recently won the “Image of the Future Prize” from the World Communications Forum, but she’d rather tell you about the passive solar house she helped design and build way back when most people thought “green” was the color a building was painted, not how it was built. She founded biggreenpurse.com because she’s passionate about inspiring consumers to shift their spending to greener products and services to protect themselves and their families while using their marketplace clout to get companies to clean up their act.

Latest posts by Diane MacEachern (see all)

13 Green Tips That Can Save You Over $5,000 A Year – August 8, 2016
Valentines Day Gifts That Show Mother Earth Some Love, Too – February 4, 2015
Tired Of Spending Your Money On Gas? Get A Chevy Volt – January 28, 2015

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That massive methane leak in L.A. was visible from space

emission control

That massive methane leak in L.A. was visible from space

By on Jun 16, 2016Share

The massive methane leak in California’s Alisio Canyon may have been invisible to the human eye, but it wasn’t invisible to NASA.

The leak, which spewed an estimated 97,100 metric tons of the greenhouse gas into the atmosphere, led to the evacuation of thousands of residents, and took nearly 4 months to stop. Now, NASA has released infrared images of the methane plume, as captured by satellites. This is the first time a methane leak has been observable from space, the Washington Post reports.

Two images methane plumes over Aliso Canyon, California, acquired 11 days apart in Jan. 2016.NASA-JPL/Caltech/GSFC

Methane is an especially potent greenhouse gas, 84 times more powerful than carbon dioxide (though it doesn’t hang around in the atmosphere quite as long). The ability to observe it from space could be a powerful tool in tracking global emissions targets set at the 2015 Paris climate accord, according to the Post.

As for the Alisio Canyon leak, the natural gas facility has been shut down since February, prompting concerns about power outages for the region. The California Public Utilities Commission is currently looking at solutions, including voluntary air conditioning interruptions, rebates for smart thermostats, and expanded solar initiatives.

But the damage has been done: In the months before the Alisio Canyon leak was stopped, it released the equivalent annual greenhouse gas emissions of 572,000 cars.

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That massive methane leak in L.A. was visible from space

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