3 Simple Ways to Use Less Electricity in Your Home This Summer

GUEST POST

If you live in a warm area, keeping your level of energy consumption down in the summer can be difficult. Fortunately, there are things you can do this summer to use less electricity. Here are some of them:

1. Change out your thermostat

Older thermostats simply don’t work as well, and they usually cause your home to use up more electricity. The technology many older thermostats use doesn’t effectively measure and regulate the temperature in your home. So, consider switching out older thermostats with new digital, programmable thermostats. Look for models with the ENERGY STAR label. You can opt for a regular digital thermostat or a programmable digital thermostat.

Thermostats that are programmable allow you to control the temperature of your home during different parts of the day, even if you’re away from home. With a programmable thermostat, the temperature in your home throughout the day is what you program it to be. So, you can program your house to consistently be a little warmer throughout the day while you’re not around to conserve energy.

2. Sacrifice a little bit of your comfort

You may feel most comfortable with the thermostat set to 70 degrees in the summer. If you just turn it up a couple of degrees, however, you’d save a lot in terms of electricity costs and energy. There’s not much difference between how your house feels at 70 degrees and 72 degrees. Turning the thermostat up a little bit may make things a little more uncomfortable for you, but you’ll most likely adapt. Plus, you’ll be doing the environment and your pocketbook a favor.

3. Inspect your insulation

Your air conditioner has to work much harder if your home isn’t properly insulated. If you live in an older home or you suspect that your insulation isn’t as great as it could be, consider hiring someone to come out and inspect your home’s insulation. If you discover that your home isn’t properly insulated in some areas, consider hiring some contractors to help you get it properly insulated. Or you could consider insulating areas like your windows yourself. A product called Icylene is an environmentally friendly foam insulation spray that you can use to help you insulate your home yourself. There are several other eco-friendly types of caulk and spray you can use as well.

So, there’s no need to use up excess amounts of energy this summer to keep your home cool. Try out the tips above, beat the heat, keep your costs down, and use less energy!

Author’s Bio: Ryan Franklin is a guest blogger on the subjects of home improvement, relocation, and where to find cheap movers.

Universal Design Living Laboratory Blends Technology, Green Features in Wheelchair-Friendly Footprint

When Rosemarie Rossetti moved into her new home on Friday, she effortlessly guided her wheelchair from the van through the front door of the Gahanna-area house. That simple act is the culmination of 14 years of frustration, dreams and persistence.

The home Rossetti will share with her husband, Mark Leder, is more than just a stately prairie-style residence. It serves double duty as the Universal Design Living Laboratory, showcasing features that make a home accessible to those with a wide variety of abilities.Rossetti, 58, and Leder, 54, came up with the idea after a tree fell on Rossetti in 1998, putting her in a wheelchair. After trying to modify their old two-story home and failing to find a new home that met their needs, they enlisted the support of donors and broke ground on this home in September 2009, hoping to move in the following summer.

“For a nine-month project, this sure has taken a long time,” joked Rossetti, a motivational speaker and writer.

Three years, $1 million and 182 corporate donors later, the home is finished. What started as an exhibit of handicapped accessibility morphed into what might be the most technologically sophisticated home in central Ohio.

“The home is state-of-the-art. It’s 2012’s best — very, very best,” said Robert August, a 40-year veteran of the housing industry who runs North Star Synergies near Denver and served as a consultant to the project.

From simple features such as barrier-free showers and motion-sensor lights to fire-suppression sprinklers and a massive air-handling system, the home is a showcase of contemporary homebuilding technology.

Some of the features are quirky, such as a pasta cooker recessed into the kitchen counter, 4-inch-deep pantry shelves and a stove with a door that opens sideways.

Other features are simple but huge for those in wheelchairs: Read more »

5 Ways to Combat Indoor Air Pollution

GUEST POST

We regularly hear about the dangers of air pollution and all of the negative effects it can have on our health, and we typically tend to associate that with outdoor air pollution. However air pollution isn’t constricted to outdoor air pollution and indoor air pollution is just as big of a threat – if not bigger considering how much time we spend indoors – as its outdoor counterpart. To keep your indoor air clean and your family healthy use these five tips to combat indoor air pollution:

1. Keep your floors clean – Floors take a beating when it comes to dust, pet hair, food particles, chemicals, and a variety of allergens floating around in our homes, and letting all of those offenders settle in will only contribute to polluting your indoor air quality. Because we are constantly tracking in new rounds of these different particles, keep air fresh by regularly sweeping, vacuuming, and mopping your floors.

2. Buy a carbon monoxide detector – Carbon monoxide is a silent warrior, infecting and killing thousands of people every year. To ensure that your air is devoid of dangerous amounts of carbon monoxide levels invest in a carbon monoxide detector and regularly monitor the levels in your home. Often times carbon monoxide poisoning is lethal because people can’t readily identify it as the culprit.

3. Keep live plants in the house – Plants act as natural air purifiers, so keeping them in your home will help your indoor air regularly receive a good, natural cleaning. If you weren’t blessed with a green thumb try to pick low-maintenance plants to keep around the house. An added bonus: live plants in the home also contribute to lower stress levels and a more relaxed feeling overall.

4. Choose household cleaners wiselyHousehold cleaners are, unfortunately, full of chemicals that pollute the air inside the home, which is a bit of a contradiction since we buy them to clean the home. Switch to all natural cleaners where possible to help reduce the amount of chemicals being emitted into your air each time you clean.

5. Clean up your pets – Anyone with household pets knows that they can shed hair like crazy, leaving hair floating around the house and settling down in corners. While it may seem like a minor annoyance to have to clean up after them all the time, pet hair can actually be a major concern in terms of air quality. Regularly bathe your pets and vacuum up after them often to help minimize their effect on your air quality.
Indoor air pollution is just as harmful as outdoor air pollution and shouldn’t be ignored in the quest to clean up our air. Luckily we can combat it fairly easily if we make minor changes around the house, and keep ourselves and our families in optimum health.

Author Bio
Nancy Parker was a professional nanny and she loves to write about wide range of subjects like health, Parenting, Child Care, and Babysitting, find a nanny tips etc.

Solar Power Helps College Cope with Budget Cuts


(Image credit: Mercer County Improvement Authority)

Public universities throughout the United States have had their budgets cut deeply and often since the Great Recession began. One New Jersey community college has offset lost funding by installing a solar system on campus.

Mercer County Community College (MCCC) in West Windsor, NJ will save an estimated US$750,000 annually (70 percent of its energy requirements) in electricity costs by installing an 8 Megawatt solar system on campus. The solar panels will be installed on 45 acres of open space owned by the college.

The savings will be allocated toward student activities programs and services that would have been otherwise diminished or eliminated. A secondary benefit is that the system will supplement MCCC’s renewable energy program.

“We are excited about the multiple ways in which this solar project will foster academic opportunities for MCCC students,” said Dr. Guy Generals, vice president for academic affairs. “Such learning opportunities will break new ground in community college education, preparing students for a world that is moving further away from expensive, dirty fossil fuels and closer to clean, renewable sources of energy.”

MCCC is receiving assistance from the Mercer County Improvement Authority, an organization that facilitates local public works projects. The Authority will own the project’s title under a 15-year lease-purchase agreement with SunLight General Mercer Solar. $29 million of the project’s funding was financed via the Authority.

Reducing facilities expenses with renewable energy is a clever solution to fund the continuation of helpful student services. I’m impressed by MCCC’s willingness to think outside of the box to preserve its quality, and the community’s commitment to higher education.

MCCC is not alone – here’s a listing of universities that have embraced solar power for cost savings. Overall, however, institutions of higher learning have dealt with budget cuts by tightening up teaching loads, increasing class sizes, and keeping compensation costs down, said Dr. Arthur Hochner, president & chief negotiator for Temple University’s faculty union.

“All around the country, unionized colleagues are not reaching contract agreements with administration, have had no pay increases, and have been hit with demands for cutbacks in pensions and health benefits…I don’t know much about cost savings measure like facilities and fiscal plant, but something like [solar power] would be nice,” Hochner said.

“It would have been great for Temple to have put solar panels on the roof of the new business school building, but they didn’t.”

Courtesy: www.smartplanet.com

Solar Impulse Plane Begins First Transcontinental Flight

GENEVA — An experimental solar-powered airplane took off from Switzerland on its first transcontinental flight Thursday, aiming to reach North Africa next week.

Pilot Andre Borschberg planned to take the jumbo jet-size Solar Impulse plane on its first leg to Madrid, Spain, by Friday. His colleague Bertrand Piccard will take the helm of the aircraft for the second stretch of its 2,500-kilometer (1,554-mile) journey to the Moroccan capital Rabat.

Fog on the runaway at its home base in Payerne, Switzerland, delayed the take off by two hours, demonstrating how susceptible the prototype single-seater aircraft is to adverse weather.

“We can’t fly into clouds because it was not designed for that,” Borschberg said as he piloted the lumbering plane with its 63-meter (207-foot) wingspan toward the eastern French city of Lyon at a cruising speed of just 70 kilometers an hour (43.5 mph).

Before landing in Madrid in the early hours of Friday, Borschberg will face other challenges, including having to overfly the Pyrenees mountains that separate France and Spain.

Just in case things go disastrously wrong, Borschberg has a parachute inside his tiny cabin that he hopes never to use. “When you take an umbrella it never rains,” he joked in a satellite call with The Associated Press.

Piccard – the son of undersea explorer Jacques Piccard and grandson of balloonist Auguste Piccard – will have to cross the windy Straits of Gibraltar from Europe to Africa.

The team has been invited to Morocco by the country’s King Mohammed VI to showcase the cutting edge of solar technology.

Morocco is about to start construction on a massive solar energy plant at Ouarzazate. The plant will form part of a country-wide solar energy grid with a capacity of 2000 megawatts by 2020.

The mission is described as the final dress rehearsal for a round-the-world flight with a new and improved aircraft in 2014. That trip will include stops in the United States, said Borschberg.

In 2010, the Swiss flew non-stop for 26-hour to demonstrate that the 12,000 solar cells attached to the aircraft can soak up enough sunlight to keep the plane airborne through the night. A year later, he took Solar Impulse on its first international flight to Belgium and France.

The project began in 2003 and is estimated to cost about $100 million over 10 years.

Courtesy: www.huffingtonpost.com