Stay Cool This Summer – 5 Green Tips for Inside Your Home

Try some of these low-tech practices around the house.

 Use windows and window coverings to your advantage. If you’re not home during the day, close all windows, curtains, and blinds to keep your house cool for as long as possible. If you’re home during the day and don’t want all the windows covered, cover them when needed. Remember that south-facing windows get a lot of sun. East-facing windows get sun in the morning and west-facing ones get the hotter and stronger sun in the afternoon and evening. Dark-colored curtains, roman shades, and even dime-store roller shades can be very effective. “Roller shades can block up to 80% of solar heat,” Muffett says. If the air cools down enough in the evening, open the windows to promote as much air circulation as possible.
Don’t add to the heat inside. Use appliances such as irons, washers, and dryers at night or early morning — or eliminate the dryer altogether and use a clothesline instead. (Not running your appliances between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. also helps avoid brownouts.“A big source of heat is your stove,” Pope says. “So if you can, cook outdoors or microwave meals.” Microwaves use two-thirds less energy than stoves. Another option is using a toaster oven for baking. Because toaster ovens are so much smaller, they don’t warm up a kitchen like a conventional oven. And, depending on the model, you’ll be cutting your energy use in half. Turn off computers and other appliances when not in use. Left running, these can also generate unnecessary heat. You can also unplug these appliances when not in use to ensure you reduce your electric bill as well, because the small amount of power these pull while plugged in can […]

By |July 1st, 2013|BLOG, Cool Summer, News|0 Comments

11 Tips For Spring Cleaning Your Home

 1. Inspect the AC, part 1.
For about $75 to $200, a technician will tune up your cooling system to manufacturer-rated efficiency — and you won’t sweat the first hot weekend with an out-of-commission air conditioner. Call your electric utility to see whether it offers incentives. Contractors may offer discounts early in the season for inspections or for annual maintenance contracts.

Look for a heating and air-conditioning contractor that belongs to the Air Conditioning Contractors of America, employs technicians certified by the North American Technician Excellence (NATE) program, and follows the protocol for the ACCA’s “national standard for residential maintenance” (or the “QM,” short for quality maintenance).
Note: Dirty filters make air conditioning work harder, increasing energy costs and possibly damaging your equipment. Contractors will put in new filters during a tune-up, but you should check monthly to see if they need replacing.

2. Inspect the AC, part 2.
Air conditioners draw moisture from interior air, called condensate, which must run off outside. If sediment and algae clog the drains, water may back up, making your home more humid or creating water damage. Technicians will check the drains during a tune-up; if they clean them out, it could cost up to $100. If you live in a humid climate, you may want to check and clean them yourself periodically.

3. Put the temperature on autopilot.
Energy Star says that for an initial investment of $50 to $150 for a programmable thermostat, you can save about $180 annually on cooling and heating bills — if you can live with higher indoor temperatures in summer (and cooler temperatures in winter). In the summer, that means setting your thermostat 7 degrees higher than usual when you’re away from home and 4 degrees higher when you’re asleep (the preprogrammed settings are […]

By |May 8th, 2013|BLOG, Cleaning Your House|0 Comments

25 Green Spring Cleaning Tips

Good For You, Your Home and the Planet
— By Liza Barnes, Health Educator

After being cooped up in a stuffy house all winter long, it’s finally time to fling open the windows, shoo away the cobwebs, and take on your annual spring cleaning. But often, the chemicals found in conventional cleaning products can be more dangerous than the dirt they’re intended to clean. And the way we clean (with lots of disposable paper towels) isn’t exactly earth-friendly. Thankfully, there are many alternatives available that can help you make your home squeaky clean—and green.

Green cleaning products
The last thing you want to do is dump toxic chemicals into the environment in the name of cleaning, right? These days, you don’t have to make a special trip to the natural foods store to seek out environmentally-sensitive cleaning products. Seventh Generation, Method and Biokleen are three companies that make full lines of household cleaners, and you can find them in just about every store. These products work just as well as their conventional counterparts. Or you can stock your natural cleaning kit with homemade cleaners—making them yourself is super easy.

The basic supplies you’ll need to make your own green cleaners include:

Distilled white vinegar (sold in the cooking section of most supermarkets)
Baking soda
Olive oil
Borax (sold in a box in the laundry aisle)
Liquid castile soap (like Dr. Bronner’s brand, found in most natural foods stores)
Essential oils (super concentrated natural plant oils found in natural foods stores, usually in the cosmetics section)
Microfiber cleaning cloths

Here are a few basic “recipes” and techniques to get you started:

Glass: Mix 1/4 cup vinegar with 1 quart of water in a spray bottle. Spray on glass and wipe clean with old newspaper or a lint-free cloth.
Countertops and bathroom tile: […]

By |May 3rd, 2013|BLOG, Cleaning Your House, News|0 Comments

4 Budget-friendly Ways to Upgrade Your Kitchen This Summer

Upgrade Your Kitchen Easily!
1. Clean! We know you’re probably tired of hearing this so many times, but it really is the simplest yet most effective way to change your kitchen for the better. It’s the first step to do before you move on to more bigger-scale renovations. Why? Because, if you’re space is already clean, then maybe you would think that your kitchen is not so bad after all. It was just messy. It is also important to remember that your granite countertops can also become very disorganized due to the daily traffic in your kitchen space, especially in the mornings!

Get started with your spring cleaning: schedule a specific time every other day (or every week) to maintain the cleanliness of your kitchen. If that’s not possible, you could always get a housekeeper or assign your kids to clean up for a reward.

2. Organize! Check every appliance and utensils you have in your cabinets and drawers. If it’s broken, either fix it or throw it away. It doesn’t make sense to put it back in the drawer, right? It’s not like it would magically mend itself if you keep it there for another two weeks. The goal is to make sure that every space is utilized and optimized according to your need. The more you use it everyday, the more it should be more accessible to you.

3. Lighten up! Let the natural rays of the sun brighten up your mornings. It will make your kitchen instantly better. If your space is not anywhere near windows, consider putting strategically-placed lights under your cabinets. This will put a spotlight on your shiny granite countertops and enhance the overall atmosphere of your kitchen counters space. If you really want windows without all the trouble, create an illusion by looking […]

By |April 10th, 2013|BLOG, News|0 Comments