Getting an Energy Audit on Your Home

Getting an Energy Audit on Your Home

Did you know that you can request an energy audit from your electricity company? Your utility/electricity company usually has an energy auditor on hand and it’s usually free to their clients. It’s a great way to find out how you can be saving more on electricity. The auditor, also known as an energy rater, will help you improve your energy efficiency of your home and help you with your energy consumption. Energy auditors often begin by inspecting homes to measure heat, cooling, electrical and gas usage. They use thermal infrared cameras to find energy leaks, and blower-door tests to measure the airtightness of a structure.

 

Just a few weeks ago, I noticed a trend of high energy bills with my 100 year old home in Kanab. It became worrisome to me because the energy consumption was high along with the bills. Since the home runs all on electric, I called my electricity company and expressed my concern and they transferred me over to the energy auditor. We talked at length on the phone, he pulled up past electricity consumption with the previous owner and couldn’t get the information he was looking for.

 

He asked about my heating system, the patterns of usage and some other questions. At the end of the phone call, we scheduled an appointment for him to come to my cottage in Kanab to inspect it.

I’m thrilled that I am actually using this service and get to the bottom of things – why is my electricity consumption so high! Stay tuned.

Gardening in St. George, Utah

Gardening in St. George, Utah

One of the best ways to practice green living is to have a garden! Even you don’t have a large yard or yard at all, there are many opportunities to get your hands into the dirt and grow edible things – even if it’s just herbs.

First you need a spot on your patio or in your yard that get at least 8 hours of sunlight a day. This will facilitate in larger vegetables and stronger plants. Plan on the orientation of your garden. Do you want your vegetables in pots, raised garden beds for example? If you are planting them in rows, it is ideal to arrange the rows to run North – South for best sun exposure and growth.

Next consider the soil condition. If you are planting in pots or in a raised garden bed you are completely controlling the soil elements and nutrients. If you are planting in the ground you will want to supplement the soil and enrich it to make sure the plants have the nutrients they need to grow and fruit. You will want the soil to be well-drained and rich in nutrients. I love adding steer manure to my garden and do it religiously at the beginning of each new growing season. Compost is amazing for your soil as well. I like to use organic matter in my garden. Your local nursery can guide you in the products they have. Also, be sure that you supplement your soil at least 2 weeks prior to planting. This ensures time for the soil to stew in all those wonderful nutrients and rest prior to going to work – feeding your plants.

There are many different elevations in Southern Utah. I have a garden in Leeds, UT and the gardening season starts a little later in the year. Whereas, in the greater St George area, the gardening season can start as early as January. To know when’s a good time to plant your veggies, visit your local nursery. They will have guides on planting time.

What to plant? Plant vegetables you like to eat! And try new things. Every year I experiment with a different vegetable or fruit. I like to get starters at the nursery if they interest me or I will look online on seed catalogues and play around with heirloom veggies and fruits. One year, we grew a mysterious melon that tasted fabulous!

Don’t forget to set up a watering system. You can set up a drip line that’s attached to your automatic sprinkler system or you have a system set up on a hose that you turn on and off. I like to have mine on an automatic drip system so even when I am out of town, my plants ware being watered. Your local nursery or hardware store will have the necessary supplies.

There’s so many more details I could get into but these are the basics to get your started thinking and planning your next garden. It’s best to start off small and then add to your garden so you don’t get overwhelmed. It’s addicting and you may find yourself adding a new pot or gardening bed to your yard. Get your kids involved also! Some of our best memories are out in the garden enjoying the fruits of our labor.

In the Wake of Christmas Lies

In the Wake of Christmas Lies

… lots of waste! Here’s the truth about our heavy holiday footprint. Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, U.S. household waste increases 25%; 1,000,000 extra tons hit the landfills. You may be surprised but to go green for this Christmas, the National Resources Defense Council says real trees are more eco-friendly. In the world of convenience, it’s so nice to put up a pre-lit Christmas tree and not hassle with the pine needles, watering the tree and putting lights on it. Did you know that 80% of American households display artificial trees? Another solution is to not buy a cut tree or pre-lit artificial trees; there are many stores that sell potted fir trees that even flocked, from small to large in size.

Here are some more ideas on lessening your footprint this next holiday season. Use LED lights – it uses 1/6 less electricity compared to conventional lights. Throw out those old lights and update your Christmas lights. There are some fun features to LED lights now and they can be remote controlled as well! Recycle your Christmas trees. Check with your local municipality because they usually have a tree drop off location after Christmas. Re-use gift wrapping, and repurpose! My grandma told that during the Depression they used twine and string to wrap presents and re-purposed any paper they had. Back then it was a necessity and nowadays it’s a novelty. Also, don’t use shiny, sparkly wrapping paper because most of it is not recyclable. I love gift bags and will save them and use them year after year. (Yes, I’m one of those people.) And I also re-use tissue paper. I keep a box for the gift bags, tissue paper, ribbons and bows I recycle for year round use. Honestly, I can’t think of the last time I bought a gift bag or tissue paper.

I hope some of these ideas sparked some interest in being proactive for the holidays next year. Knowing my audience, I’m pretty sure you are already doing some of these things. If you have some great ideas to contribute, please feel free to reach out to me. Add media to your posts

Indoor Air Pollutants in Your Home

Indoor Air Pollutants in Your Home

Little may you know, one of the key factors to green living is creating an indoor living space that is free of pollutants. Many of us are aware of our outdoor air pollutants but as consumers we are putting little effort into protecting our indoor living environment. In America, we spend about 50% of our time in our homes – this is an environment we can control.

If I asked you what are some common indoor pollutants, you may answer with asbestos, radon, carbon monoxide, tobacco smoke and mold. But there are other items that are contributing significantly to your indoor air quality that you can control easily. You won’t believe it……air fresheners and candles! Those decorative plug-ins that continuously release scent is continuously polluting your home. In fact, if you research it a little more, you will find that they are releasing carcinogens. Even if they tout themselves as green, healthy, organic, they can emit potentially hazardous chemicals. Also, the ingredients found in air fresheners are largely not disclosed. Best way to avoid the pollutants that air fresheners emit? Don’t use them at all.

 

In regards to candles, not all of them are toxic like air fresheners. The ones to stay away from are paraffin-based candles, which are the most popular kinds. They emit toxic chemicals like toluene and benzene. However, soybean and beeswax candles are an exception. Can I hear a “hallelujah”? I certainly enjoy the coziness of candles in the cold months of the years.

 

Other culprits are household products, such as cleaning products and hair products to name a few. Keep in mind it’s not just the scent that is toxic – it is the actual chemicals used in the products. To cut down on the pollutants from these products, I like to make my own cleaning products with vinegar, baking soda and essential oils. You can find some great and simple recipes online that will save you money and cut down on the VOCs (volatile organic compounds) that you are putting in your home.

 

Even after taking all these measures, be sure to ventilate your home. Open windows and let the fresh air in. With extreme temperatures and heavy use of the furnace or air conditioner, take a break and open some windows for a couple of hours. That will make a bigger difference than using an air purifier. There are many other elements in the building material of the home that will also contribute to indoor air quality, but these simple measures listed above can easily improve your quality of living at home and create a safer and greener environment within your control.