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How to make your home more eco friendly



3D Green Energy By Chris Potter Via Flickr

It is difficult to get through the news lately without an article on some sort of environmental crisis popping up. Water shortages, climate change and poor air quality are all making an impact on the earth. You should not let what might seem like an insurmountable problem keep you from helping protect the planet and its resources. There are ways individuals can make a difference.

Your house can be a model of green living. As you build or make improvements to your home, consider the eco-conscious options. There are companies that specifically cater to environmental updates. If you’ve been to your state fair in the last few years, you’ll note there are many vendors of green living products. From large makeovers to inexpensive changes, here are some ways to make your home more eco friendly.

At the top

Starting at the top of the house, consider your roofing options. Installing solar panel shingles is not the unusual practice it once was. While the initial investment can cost more than traditional shingles, you will save money in the long run with the energy produced by the addition. Some states offer rebates for homeowners installing solar panels.

You can also look at tile, which lasts for decades and is great for ventilating and cooling the house. The uber gardener may want a living roof – these roofs take careful planning and maintenance, but who wouldn’t love getting basil from the roof?

Underneath the roof, make sure you up your energy efficiency in the attic with insulation. You can find products that are made from recycled paper or denim. Sheep’s wool is a great insulation that is easy to install.

The main floor

Using natural light whenever possible can prevent huge amounts of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere. Open those shutters and let the light shine. And speaking of shutters, your window treatments can contribute to your green efforts. You can install planet friendly window shutters from a company committed to environmental materials and practices. The shutters are an aesthetically pleasing means of providing insulation to keep your house warmer.

To save on your water use, you can install recirculating water pumps for instant hot water, low flow toilets, and water aerators. By repairing leaks in plumbing or fixtures, you can prevent the waste of thousands of gallons of water. Appliances should meet energy star guidelines, and you should air dry clothes and dishes where possible to boost energy efficiency. Using organic, fragrance-free products such as shampoo and dish soap helps to remove toxins from your body and the water supply. For smaller appliances and devices, invest in a solar powered charger. You’ll lower your electricity bill and carbon emissions.

The materials and processes used to manufacture furniture, rugs and linens can often be damaging to the environment. Glues, treated fabrics, foam and more can all take a toll. It may be tempting to replace your furniture with new items, but consider heading to a thrift shop or consignment shop for your next sofa or rug. You will be minimizing manufacturing, all while getting a great price and benefiting a good cause. If you really want new items, find a company that is committed to using renewable woods, organic fabrics and other green materials.

A recycling system is a great way to reduce waste on the earth. The simple act of recycling reduces the amount of plastic produced and lowers harmful gas emissions. You can do an online search to learn hundreds of ideas to reuse and upcycle items you use regularly, from plastic bags to garbage cans.

Outside the house

A garden has numerous benefits for yourself and the earth. You can ensure your food is organic and pesticide free. You have less need of the grocery store and the overall impact of shopping for your food is diminished. You will be in charge of managing water use. By canning your homegrown food, you will be providing food for your family year-round. If you don’t have the ability to plant a garden, consider joining a collective that shares garden produce.

In your yard, be sure to avoid toxic chemicals for treating your lawn, and try a reel or electric lawnmower. Your landscaping can use sustainable practices, which make wise use of water, solar energy and recycled materials. Composting can be a major part of your healthy garden and lawn.

Your commitment to making your home eco friendly doesn’t have to include huge amounts of time or great expense. It can start with small steps. Whatever you decide to do, you will be setting a good example for your children and neighbors, in addition to preserving this beautiful planet.



Is Wood Burning Sustainable For Your Home?



sustainable wood burning ideas

Wood is a classic heat source, whether we think about people gathered around a campfire or wood stoves in old cabins, but is it a sustainable source of heat in modern society? The answer is an ambivalent one. In certain settings, wood heat is an ideal solution, but for the majority of homes, it isn’t especially suitable. So what’s the tipping point?

Wood heat is ideal for small homes on large properties, for individuals who can gather their own wood, and who have modern wood burning ovens. A green approach to wood heat is one of biofuel on the smallest of scales.

Is Biofuel Green?

One of the reasons that wood heat is a source of so much divide in the eco-friendly community is that it’s a renewable resource and renewable has become synonymous with green. What wood heat isn’t, though, is clean or healthy. It lets off a significant amount of carbon and particulates, and trees certainly don’t grow as quickly as it’s consumed for heat.

Of course, wood is a much less harmful source of heat than coal, but for scientists interested in developing green energy sources, it makes more sense to focus on solar and wind power. Why, then, would they invest in improved wood burning technology?

Homegrown Technology

Solar and wind technology are good large-scale energy solutions, but when it comes to small-space heating, wood has its own advantages. First, wood heat is in keeping with the DIY spirit of homesteaders and tiny house enthusiasts. These individuals are more likely to be driven to gather their own wood and live in small spaces that can be effectively heated as such.

Wood heat is also very effective on an individual scale because it requires very little infrastructure. Modern wood stoves made of steel rather than cast iron are built to EPA specifications, and the only additional necessary tools include a quality axe, somewhere to store the wood, and an appropriate covering to keep it dry. And all the wood can come from your own land.

Wood heat is also ideal for people living off the grid or in cold areas prone to frequent power outages, as it’s constantly reliable. Even if the power goes out, you know that you’ll be able to turn up the heat. That’s important if you live somewhere like Maine where the winters can get exceedingly cold. People have even successfully heated a 40’x34’ home with a single stove.

Benefits Of Biomass

The ultimate question regarding wood heat is whether any energy source that’s dangerous on the large scale is acceptable on a smaller one. For now, the best answer is that with a growing population and limited progress towards “pure” green energy, wood should remain a viable option, specifically because it’s used on a limited scale. Biomass heat is even included in the UK’s Renewable Heat Initiative and minor modifications can make it even more sustainable.

Wood stoves, when embraced in conjunction with pellet stoves, geothermal heating, and masonry heaters, all more efficient forms of sustainable heat, should be part of a modern energy strategy. Ultimately, we’re headed in the direction of diversified energy – all of it cleaner – and wood has a place in the big picture, serving small homes and off-the-grid structures, while solar, wind, and other large-scale initiatives fuel our cities.

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7 Benefits You Should Consider Giving Your Energy Employees



As an energy startup, you’re always looking to offer the most competitive packages to entice top-tier talent. This can be tough, especially when trying to put something together that’s both affordable but also has perks that employees are after.

After all, this is an incredibly competitive field and one that’s constantly doing what it can to stay ahead. However, that’s why I’m bringing you a few helpful benefits that could be what bolsters you ahead of your competition. Check them out below:

Financial Advising

One benefit commonly overlooked by companies is offering your employees financial advising services, which could help them tremendously in planning for their long-term goals with your firm. This includes anything from budgeting and savings plans to recommendations for credit repair services and investments. Try to take a look at if your energy company could bring on an extra person or two specifically for this role, as it will pay off tremendously regarding retention and employee happiness.

Life Insurance

While often included in a lot of health benefits packages, offering your employees life insurance could be an excellent addition to your current perks. Although seldom used, life insurance is a small sign that shows you care about the life of their family beyond just office hours. Additionally, at such a low cost, this is a pretty simple aspect to add to your packages. Try contacting some brokers or insurance agents to see if you can find a policy that’s right for your firm.

Dedicated Time To Enjoy Their Hobbies

Although something seen more often in startups in Silicon Valley, having dedicated office time for employees to enjoy their passions is something that has shown great results. Whether it be learning the piano or taking on building a video game, having your team spend some time on the things they truly enjoy can translate to increased productivity. Why? Because giving them the ability to better themselves, they’ll in turn bring that to their work as well.

The Ability To Work Remotely

It’s no secret that a lot of employers despise the idea of letting their employees work remotely. However, it’s actually proven to hold some amazing benefits. According to Global Workplace Analytics, 95% of employers that allow their employees to telework reported an increased rate of retention, saving on both turnover and sick days. Depending on the needs of each individual role, this can be a strategy to implement either whenever your team wants or on assigned days. Either way, this is one perk almost everyone will love.

Health Insurance

Even though it’s mandated for companies with over 50 employees, offering health insurance regardless is arguably a benefit well received across the board. In fact, as noted in research compiled by KFF, 28.6% of employers with less than 50 people still offered health care. Why is that the case? Because it shows you care about their well-being, and know that a healthy employee is one that doesn’t have to worry about astronomical medical bills.

Unlimited Time Off

This is a perk that almost no employer offers but should be regarded as something to consider. According to The Washington Post, only 1-2% of companies offer unlimited vacation, which it’s easy to see why. A true “unlimited vacation” program could be a firm’s worse nightmare, with employees skipping out every other week to enjoy themselves. However, with the right model in place that rewards hard work with days off, your employees will absolutely adore this policy.

A Full Pantry

Finally, having a pantry full of food can be one perk that’s not only relatively inexpensive but also adds to the value of the workplace. As noted by USA Today, when surveying employees who had snacks versus those who didn’t, 67% of those who did reported they were “very happy” with their work life. You’d be surprised at how much of a difference this could make, especially when considering the price point. Consider adding a kitchen to your office if you haven’t already, and always keep the snacks and drinks everyone wants fully stocked. Doing so will increase morale tremendously.

Final Thoughts

Compiling a great package for your energy company is going to take some time in looking at what you can afford versus what’s the most you can offer. While it might mean cutting back in other areas, having a workforce that feels like you genuinely want to take care of them can take you far. And with so many different benefits to include in your energy company’s package, which one is your favorite? Comment with your answers below!

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