Essential eco-friendly fixtures to incorporate into your home

February 20, 2019 by  
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Being a steward of the environment means evaluating how many resources you and your family consume and consistently looking for ways to reduce your carbon footprint. The good news is that it’s pretty easy to make small eco-friendly fixtures to your home that can have a huge impact towards those goals. Water costs WaterSense, a federal program sponsored by the Environmental Protection Agency provides information about the most water-efficient fixtures for your home. Look for a label that indicates the device has met the strict restrictions certified by an independent testing facility for the best water conservation and lowest water costs. Related: 10 money-saving tips for a green home Faucets The bathroom and kitchen faucets provide a convenience water source for washing hands, brushing teeth and cleaning dishes. With the ability to crank out significant amounts of water, most of the water you pay for heads right down the drain. Instead of free-flowing the cash out of your wallet, look into aerating faucet heads. They work by forcing air through the system, which provides good water pressure while using significantly less water. Look for a model with WaterSense certification and replace each faucet as they begin to leak or as your budget allows. Toilets Standard toilets are a culprit for much of the water usage in the average home. By replacing standard toilets with low flow models, you will see the savings add up. Basically these devices work by providing two flush options: one for solid waste  and one for liquid waste that uses about ? the amount of water. Doing the math, that will save you 25-33% on your toilet flushes alone. With a standard flush requiring around three gallons, that’s some big savings. Showerheads Low flow showerheads work in the same way as other water fixtures. In addition to the aforementioned aerating design, there are other options for slowing the flow in your morning shower. Shower heads equipped with a laminar-flow shower head that feeds individual beads of water through the holes, allows less water flow over all. Other shower heads use a flow restrictor, which allow more or less water through depending on your water pressure preference. Whichever style you choose, look for a shower head with less than 2.5 gpm (gallons per minute) flow rate and a WaterSense certification. Bathtubs Bathtubs are notorious for requiring copious amount of water. After all, submersion in a hot bath averages a consumption of around 30-50 gallons. Showers with a standard shower head, by comparison, use about 10 gallons every four minutes so calculating your shower time will help you evaluate the best water savings. If you’re a disciplined sort, keeping it under ten minutes, than a shower is probably the way to go, especially if you invest in a water-conserving shower head. If you just can’t seem to shut it down in less than 20 minutes, than a bath won’t cost you any more. Lighting One of the best conveniences in a modern home is the ability to flip a switch and bring light to nearly any room in the house. But each flip of the switch costs you at the meter. One option to lower those costs is to replace the type of switch you use. For example, dimmer switches allow you to set the bulb at a lower output level. Lower output means lower consumption and therefore, a lower bill. Timers are another useful option if your family tends to leave lights on frequently. A device that tells your lights to turn off at a specified time will keep the meter from running all day when they are not needed. Motion sensored lights also save money by automatically turning lights on when you enter the room and turning them off behind you when they sense inactivity. Of course, the bulbs you use also make a huge difference in the amount of energy you’re consuming. Traditional incandescent bulbs suck up significantly more energy than the more modern halogen incandescents, compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) and light emitting diodes (LEDs) that not only require less energy, but also last 3-25 times longer. Look for the Energy Star rating on the bulbs you select and be sure to responsibly recycle old bulbs that contain mercury. Electrical costs Your day to day activities are reflected in your electrical bill, whether your house is powered by electricity alone or a combination of sources such as natural gas. The costs of heating, cooling and providing power to the outlets in your home add up quickly, so any changes you can make to reduce your usage will pay you back in the wallet and environmentally. Related: A renovated Toronto home boasts energy savings of over 50% Heating and cooling Heating and cooling costs make-up the lion’s share of every home’s electrical bill. Air conditioners and furnaces should be maintained for the best performance and replaced when they fail or when convenient to you. As your budget allows, swap out old systems for new ones that are more efficient and, of course, Energy Star certified. Although the unit is an investment up front, the savings long term are worth it. In addition, there are often local, state and federal tax credits that help offset the cost. Insulated windows and doors are another investment that can add up to huge savings. Energy Star models are much more energy efficient than those made even ten years ago, keeping warm air in and cold air out, which also equates to lower heating and cooling costs. Another relatively inexpensive fixture that can save you on your heating and cooling bills is an automatic thermostat. These smart devices are easy to find and install. By programming your thermostat to keep the temperature of the home lower during the night and when nobody is home, you avoid paying unnecessary heating and cooling costs automatically. Water heaters Another mainstream fixture that uses both water and electricity for heating is the water heater. By switching over to tankless water heaters, the average homeowner can save up to $100 per year. You can either install a central unit that provides on-demand water for your entire house, or you can use individual units, installed in each bathroom , kitchen, laundry, and other areas that require a water heater. These units work by only heating water as the faucet requests it, rather than keeping a huge tank of water heated and at the ready constantly. Images via Skitterphoto , 955169 , Karishea , TBIT

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Essential eco-friendly fixtures to incorporate into your home

Don’t forget to fight for these "less glamorous" endangered species

February 20, 2019 by  
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Not all endangered animals have their own PR firms to save them. Many are living humble lives outside the limelight. A new poster campaign, commissioned by NetCredit, aims to draw attention to these underdogs in the conservation movement. According to Luke Doyle, who worked on the campaign, “The research team gathered data from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to build a long list of species that are flagged as ‘endangered’ or ‘threatened’ in every state of the U.S. The team then shortlisted the top populations at risk of extinction in each state, making sure that there were no duplicated species , as in some cases, certain states are home to the same populations. When finding a species that had been shortlisted already but was repeated in two or more states, we moved forward with the next domestic species on the list for the state we were working on.” Related: These are the most endangered species in the world Here’s an assortment of these endangered and threatened animals from different regions of the US. See the full list of endangered animals in every state here . Arkansas: ivory-billed woodpecker Logging decimated the home of the ivory-billed woodpecker, which was first reported extinct in 1944. However, occasional reported sightings give hope that a small population still lives on. California: Point Arena mountain beaver This primitive rodent is called a “living fossil.” They live underground, surfacing to eat stinging nestles and thistles. Agriculture , roads and recreational use of land threaten what’s left of their habitat. Illinois: cave amphipod An Illinois original, this gray amphipod lives in cold water, shunning light. Extremely sensitive, this little crustacean is very susceptible to pesticides and other human-made chemicals. Scientists are working to restore the population by 2023. Indiana: Indiana bat Pollution and commercial caving threaten the Indiana bat, endangered since 1967. More recently, white-nose syndrome has killed many more while they hibernate in limestone caves. Louisiana: Louisiana pine snake As pine forests are logged, this point-nosed snake loses its habitat. The Louisiana pine snake is non-venomous and grows up to a meter and a half long. Conservationists estimate their population at a few thousand. Missouri: Ozark hellbender This curved salamander can live up to 50 years — if they can survive poaching, contaminated water and habitat loss. They hang out under rocks during the day, breathing through their skin. At night, they hunt insects and crayfish. New Jersey: Sei whale This mysterious 60-foot baleen whale likes the deep water far from coastlines. Until commercial whaling ended in 1987, the Sei whale was fair game. They’re seldom seen, but still occasionally get caught in fishing gear. Related: Ghost gear is haunting our oceans North Carolina: Carolina northern flying squirrel Only found in North Carolina, southwest Virginia and Tennessee, this ice-age flying squirrel is struggling to survive pollution and climate change . Pennsylvania: short-eared owl These owls nest in grassy areas, such as around the Philadelphia Airport. Developers and agricultural practices threaten their remaining nesting places. South Dakota: black-footed ferret The only ferret native to North America, fewer than 500 are left in South Dakota. These members of the weasel family rely on prairie dogs for food — and prairie dog populations are also decreasing. Via NetCredit Images via NetCredit and Ryan Moehring of USFWS

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Don’t forget to fight for these "less glamorous" endangered species

Utilities Poised to Blow It When Smart Grid Rolls Out

March 12, 2010 by  
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Photo via F eatheredTar According to new research from IDC Energy Insights, utilities are not even remotely ready for the smart grid particularly when it comes to one vital piece of the puzzle – customer interaction. So far, utilities have been this big, lumbering entity to which you send money every month in order to have your lights stay on, your refrigerator keep cold, your heater to keep you warm. You don’t think about it daily, nor do you call up your utility for a chat often – or at all other than when you’re moving.

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Utilities Poised to Blow It When Smart Grid Rolls Out

Maldives Declares All Its Territorial Waters a Shark Sanctuary

March 12, 2010 by  
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photo: Christian Steen via flickr. The Maldives definitely knows who’s paying the bills these days..

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Maldives Declares All Its Territorial Waters a Shark Sanctuary

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