Save money and energy this winter with these 7 sustainable home heating systems

November 14, 2018 by  
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When winter comes, utility expenses can destroy your budget, and most traditional heating methods are also bad for the environment. Fortunately, there are plenty of sustainable types of home heating systems that can also save you money in the long run. From solar power to hydronic systems, here are seven different types of sustainable heating available for your home. Geothermal Systems Geothermal heating is both eco-friendly and efficient. These systems work by using temperatures deep underground to heat your home. Temperatures are much warmer in the earth than outside, which means less energy is used to heat the air. Not only does this result in an efficient heating system, but it also lowers the monthly utility bill. The one downside to geothermal heating , however, is upfront cost. This type of heating is expensive to install, but it does pay for itself the long run. On average, it takes around eight years to pay it off. In addition to helping lower energy costs, geothermal systems also increase the value of your home, which is another consideration when calculating the investment. Solar Power Solar power is easily one of the best ways to power a home. Although the initial investment can be significant, you are basically getting free energy for the rest of the home’s life. The same is true with solar heating, which generally comes in two formats: hydronic collectors and air systems. Hydronic collectors heat liquid to warm up the house, while air systems work more like traditional HVAC systems. If you have forced air already installed, then a solar air heater is the best option. The opposite is true if your house features a radiant heater. Choosing a solar heating system that fits into your home’s current HVAC system can save you a lot of money in upfront costs. Pellet Heating Pellet stoves are set up similarly to their wood counterparts, only they burn pellets instead of wood. The pellets are created from a mixture of waste products and switch grass, both of which are friendly to the environment . These pellets are also affordable to purchase, especially when compared to wood. A typical budget for pellets is around $600 a year. You also do not have to worry about stacking, chopping or storing wood, as the pellets can be placed in a basement or garage with no issues. Apart from saving money on the fuel source, pellet stoves are easy to install and budget-friendly. The average cost to install a pellet stove system is around $2,500, depending on the size of the home and how the HVAC system is laid out. For houses that are larger than 1,500 square feet, two pellet stoves will likely be necessary for adequate heating. This might appear like a significant investment, but the money you save on pellets will pay for the additional units over time. Related: 10 money-saving tips for a green home Wood Burners Wood burners are one of the most popular methods of sustainable heating. While wood burners have received a bad reputation over the years, new models are more efficient and more eco-friendly than their predecessors. Even better, new wood burners are powerful enough to heat entire homes. You can even find some wood burners that can handle sawdust pellets, which are not too different from what pellet stoves burn. The one downside to wood burners is that you have to install an extensive system to properly ventilate the burner. This includes installing pipes and a chimney that vents to the outside. When the cold months come, of course, you also have to determine how you are going to chop and store your wood. It is usually recommended to keep the wood away from the house as pests are attracted to wood piles, which means you will have to go outside whenever you need more fuel. Masonry Heating Masonry heaters exist somewhere between wood burners and pellet stoves. These heaters work by trapping heat in a chamber of bricks and then distributing warm air over the next 24 hours. Masonry heaters burn wood but generate less pollution than traditional wood burners, because they do not burn as fast. This also makes them more efficient, as they are better at trapping heat, and you do not have to purchase as much wood each year. Like wood burners, masonry heating systems require a bit of an investment to get up and running. A typical setup can be as low as $2,000 or as high as $5,000, depending on the size of the home and the layout. Hydronic Heat Systems Hydronic heating works by running hot water in pipes under the floor, through base boards or via radiators that are distributed throughout the home. These systems usually feature a boiler that heats up the water — using geothermal or solar power — and a pump that sends the hot water throughout the house. At some point, the water runs through a heat exchanger, which transfers the energy into a usable form. With hydronic heating systems, there are three ways in which the heat is converted: radiation, conduction and convection. Each system has its pros and cons, and picking the right one depends on your home’s layout. Wind Power Wind power has been around for a long time, but many people do not know that you can also use wind to create heat — and you do not need a massive windmill to get the job done. These systems work in conjunction with a water heater, with the wind providing energy to run the heater. The catch with wind power is that you need to live in an area that gets a good amount of air flow to turn the turbine. You also have to set up your house like a hydronic system to pump the hot water through, which might add extra costs if your home features a traditional forced-air system. No matter how you choose to sustainably heat your home, be sure to consult with professionals when making your decision. This winter, you’ll be able to get warm and cozy knowing you are doing your part for the environment. Via Do It Yourself and Freshome Images via Mark Johnson , Vela Creations and Shutterstock

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Save money and energy this winter with these 7 sustainable home heating systems

Federal judge blocks the Keystone XL Pipeline

November 12, 2018 by  
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In a major setback for President Trump and his administration, a U.S. district judge has issued an order to block construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline while the State Department studies its impact on the environment . Last year, the Trump administration approved the controversial 1,179-mile pipeline, but Judge Brian Morris’ 54-page order is preventing it from being built — for now. The decision does not permanently stop construction, but it is putting the development on hold until the State Department takes a harder look at the impact the pipeline will have on oil prices, the cumulative effects of greenhouse gas emissions, potential oil spills and cultural resources. Related: The Keystone Pipeline leak was nearly twice as big as we thought Under the National Environmental Policy Act, or NEPA, there is an obligation to protect the environment. Under the Obama administration, the State Department denied a permit to build the pipeline because of the environmental effects. But President Trump shifted the policy when he took office and invited TransCanada to re-submit its permit application just four days after he was sworn in. Then, in March 2017, the POTUS signed an executive order supporting the Keystone Pipeline’s construction. Judge Morris wrote in his decision that the president did not give a reasoned explanation or a fact-based determination for the course reversal. According to NPR , there has been a lot of backlash from environmentalists and indigenous peoples since the pipeline’s conception in 2008 because of the possible environmental impact and violations of historic treaties. “Today’s ruling is a decisive moment in our fight against the corporate polluters who have rushed to destroy our planet,” said Marcie Keever, legal director at Friends of the Earth. “Today, the courts showed the Trump administration and their corporate polluter friends that they cannot bully rural landowners, farmers, environmentalists and Native communities.” If the Keystone Pipeline does become a reality, it will run through Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska and Canada, and it will transport about 830,000 barrels of crude oil each day. Via NPR Image via Pax Ahimsa Gethen

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Federal judge blocks the Keystone XL Pipeline

8 Ways to Reduce Your Impact Today

November 12, 2018 by  
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Make sure your daily routine is keeping the Earth in mind! The post 8 Ways to Reduce Your Impact Today appeared first on Earth911.com.

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8 Ways to Reduce Your Impact Today

Earth is on track for climate catastrophe — what if brands are our lifeline?

November 1, 2018 by  
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The stars are aligning to give businesses the incentive they need to nix practices that harm the Earth and win customer loyalty in the process.

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Earth is on track for climate catastrophe — what if brands are our lifeline?

Energy transitions are nothing new, but the one underway is unprecedented and urgent

November 1, 2018 by  
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Being on the powerful side of history matters.

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Energy transitions are nothing new, but the one underway is unprecedented and urgent

Stunning Costa Rican beach home uses passive features to stay cool

October 25, 2018 by  
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Located mere steps away from idyllic white sand beaches on one side and a coconut grove on the other, this beach house designed by Studio Saxe is giving us major home envy. Situated on Costa Rica’s Pacific coastline, the spacious 3,250-square-foot Villa Akoya’s beautiful aesthetic hides several passive strategies designed to reduce the home’s energy use and impact on the environment. The breathtaking location serves as the principal inspiration for the design. Built using traditional cinder block construction, the one-story home was was raised off the ground to create a continuous sight line with the ocean views. This feature also helped reduce the footprint on the landscape . Related: Triangular beachfront home is a dreamy retreat buried in the earth The beach house’s dimensions are divided into four separate horizontal roof planes that slant slightly upward, covering each of the three bedrooms plus the main living area. This strategy creates distinct volumes within the structure. Additionally, the flat wooden roofs extend out over the exterior walls to create large overhang extensions that shade the interior while creating several indoor-outdoor living spaces around the exterior. The interior layout includes several spaces that are open to the exterior, creating a seamless connection between the indoors and outdoors. All of the bedrooms have their own outdoor spaces, and an all-glass wall in the living room slides completely open, leading to a wooden deck and a swimming pool . Concealed within the design are several passive features to create an energy-efficient beach house. The “elevated” roof lines create a natural system of air ventilation, cooling the home in the hot summer months. The abundance of windows and glass doors brighten the interior during the day, further reducing the need for electricity. The home also operates on solar-generated hot water and has a gray water system. + Studio Saxe Via Archdaily Photography by Andres Garcia Lachner via Studio Saxe

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Stunning Costa Rican beach home uses passive features to stay cool

How To Recycle Space Debris: Earth’s Front Porch Is a Mess

October 23, 2018 by  
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Humanity started exploring the solar system only 60 years ago … The post How To Recycle Space Debris: Earth’s Front Porch Is a Mess appeared first on Earth911.com.

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How To Recycle Space Debris: Earth’s Front Porch Is a Mess

Even scientists are shocked by the latest UN report on climate change

October 10, 2018 by  
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According to a Monday report on climate change from the United Nations, maintaining the Earth’s temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius is crucial if more extreme weather events and species’ extinctions are to be avoided. The current ceiling on temperature increase is set at 2 degrees Celcius since the 2015 Paris Agreement , to which nearly 200 nations are committed. However, new UN research shows that this pledge is not enough to avoid possibly irreparable damage to our planet’s ecosystems. The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the UN World Meteorological Organization (WMO) both weighed in on the report, saying that as of now, the world is not even on course to achieving the 2C benchmark, let alone a lower target. The UN is calling for rapid changes on the part of nations, businesses and individuals. The unprecedented changes to travel and lifestyle may be jarring but are the only way to avoid catastrophic damage to our planet in the near future. Related: Flood frequency of the Amazon River has increased fivefold “There is clearly need for a much higher ambition level to reach even a 2 degrees target, we are moving more toward 3 to 5 (degrees) at the moment,” explained Petteri Taalas, secretary-general of the WMO. The 1.5C target would slow coastal flooding and ocean rise by the end of the century, giving people in these areas time to adapt to changes. Many species would also be given a greater chance of survival. Under the 2C target, coral reefs are still projected to disappear. The lower target would allow anywhere between 10 to 30 percent of coral reefs to possibly survive. “Even the scientists were surprised to see … how much they could really differentiate and how great are the benefits of limiting global warming at 1.5 compared to 2,” IPCC Vice-Chair Thelma Krug told Reuters . According the the IPCC, the human carbon footprint must fall by at least 45 percent by 2030 in order for the planet to maintain the 1.5C temperature rise and reach “net-zero” by mid-century. The report also stated that 70-85 percent of energy needs to be supplied by renewable sources by 2050 to stay at the 1.5C target — right now, renewable energy accounts for about 25 percent. Amjad Abdulla — board member for the IPCC and chief negotiator for small island states at risk of flooding — said, “The report shows we only have the slimmest of opportunities remaining to avoid unthinkable damage to the climate system that supports life as we know it.” While the U.S. is on target to meet the previous goal, the UN is still stressing that more action is needed. Urging individuals to make changes to their lifestyles, even at the smallest of levels, the report believes that every small incentive will make the difference. For us, this means reducing meat consumption and dairy intake, choosing public transportation or switching to electric and hybrid vehicles and demanding companies to supply low-carbon products for purchase. + United Nations Via Reuters Image via  Natasha Kasim

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Even scientists are shocked by the latest UN report on climate change

All Natural Beauty: 4 Simple DIY Natural Skin Care Recipes From Mother Earth

October 2, 2018 by  
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Transforming your body care products from harmful to homemade doesn’t … The post All Natural Beauty: 4 Simple DIY Natural Skin Care Recipes From Mother Earth appeared first on Earth911.com.

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All Natural Beauty: 4 Simple DIY Natural Skin Care Recipes From Mother Earth

This eco-friendly wooden laptop is designed to curb e-waste

September 28, 2018 by  
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The innovators at iameco (“I Am Eco”) have created a new sustainable laptop to accompany their lineup of eco-friendly tech, including a desktop model and computer accessories. The Dublin group took a look at computers on the market and became frustrated with the e-waste , the earth-damaging materials and the toxic chemicals used in mainstream technology. So, the team decided to do something about it by first creating an eco-friendly, touchscreen PC and then a new wooden laptop with the same environmental principles as their original product. The sustainability of iameco products starts with the design, which focuses on longevity. The company claims that its computers run about three times longer than other products on the market. With systems that last up to 10 years, this green technology creates quite a reduction in the stream of e-waste. We know what you might be thinking — the world of technology moves too fast for any computer to be useful for 10 years. Well, iameco has that covered, too. The engineers created a modular design, meaning that individual components of the laptops can be updated as they wear out or upgrades become available. Related: Wooden-framed “iameco” computer reduces environmental impacts In addition to making interchangeable parts to reduce waste, the company also eliminated the toxic chemicals used in common manufacturing, such as lead, cadmium, mercury, PVCs and brominated flame retardants. That means a healthier user as well as a healthier planet. Plus, the laptops use one-third less energy than other models available and have ditched the petroleum-based plastics found in standard computers. Instead, the team uses natural ash, maple and beech harvested from sustainable forests for the laptops’ construction. The d4r laptop model cuts 75 percent off the required water consumption during production and achieves a 70 percent reuse and recycling rate. Meanwhile, the company’s v.3 touchscreen computer is the first to ever receive the EU Eco Flower certification, which enforces stringent environmental standards. The company didn’t stop with computers — iameco also designs durable accessories, like keyboards and computer mice, made out of sustainable wood. In an industry with few accolades in the earth-friendly category, iameco comes out a clear winner for smart design, durability, interchangeability and e-waste reduction. + iameco Images via iameco

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