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Safe and Environmentally Friendly Termite Control Methods

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termites by Prashanth dotcompals via Flickr

Termites, also called white ants in some parts of the world, are pretty amazing creatures. They play an essential role in the cycle of nature by helping clear the forests of dead trees.

As they chew away at the rotting wood, they develop pathways for fungi and bacteria to grow inside the log, which helps the wood to decompose even faster. As deceased trees disappear, the forest gets cleared for new, healthy life and the soil enriched for further activity.

The ecosystem would have trouble working effectively without the presence of these tiny, ostensibly destructive insects.

But when you discover you have a termite problem in your home, the walls could come tumbling down around you — perhaps even literally! Termites can’t tell the difference between a dead tree in the forest and the dead wood in your house.

This is frustrating, but it’s nature working to do what it’s meant to do. Still, natural or not, you can’t let termites destroy your home.

The obvious solution is to call an exterminator, but they often come with chemicals that can poison your air and pollute the atmosphere. When you’re doing your best to reduce your carbon footprint and let nature flourish around you, the last thing you want is to allow such harmful substances into your home.

Rather than rely on powerful chemicals, why not try some natural and safe remedies? Check these out.

Botanicals

This refers to a selection of extracts that come from plants. Orange oil is one botanical that has proved effective at extinguishing termites in the past. The natural oil contains the active compound d-limonene, which immediately kills termites on contact. It’s most effective for drywood termite colonies.

Neem oil is another essential ingredient that works well. It is an extract from the Asian neem tree, but unlike orange oil, simply touching the oil won’t kill the insects; they must ingest it. Since termites eat wood, this shouldn’t be too much of a problem if you catch the problem early on. You’ll likely need repeated applications of the product to see success.

Borates

Also known as borax, this treatment is a mixture of salt and the element boron. It usually comes in powdered form that can either be mixed with water and painted on surfaces, or sprinkled on the affected areas for potency.

Depending on the dilution, termites will die either when they come in contact with the substance or when they eat it. The problem with this solution is that it’s hard to make sure the treatment spreads to every area of the colony. Diluting sodium borate with water will reduce the potency, but will ensure it spreads farther.

Heat and Cold Treatments

Extreme hot and cold temperatures will kill the insects. When you’re using hot air to kill termites, the temperature must reach between 120 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit inside a sealed structure, and it requires about 35 minutes for it to work. The same can be done with the extremely cold temperature of 15 degrees Fahrenheit or lower for several days.

If you attempt either of these procedures, remember a couple of essential considerations. First, such extreme temperatures can damage furniture, spoil food, and even break glass (though your windows should be fine). It’s smart to move food and furniture out of the house before resorting to this kind of treatment.

In addition, you’ll see the best results if you tent the entire house first. That way, the heat or cold can be centered on the structure and won’t escape and waste energy.

In many cases, using natural methods to treat termites will work best with a mixture of all three of the above treatments. Termites come in the thousands, and they multiply quickly. It’s also difficult to achieve the result you want quickly.

It’s quicker and less arduous to hire an exterminator who applies gaseous chemicals to fight an infestation, but if you’re looking for an eco-friendly and economic solution, these natural treatments can do the job with time.

 

Environment

Build, Buy, Or Retrofit? 3 Green Housing Considerations

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green housing techniques

Green housing is in high demand, but it’s not yet widely available, posing a serious problem: if you want to live an eco-friendly lifestyle, do you invest in building something new and optimize it for sustainability, or do you retrofit a preexisting building?

The big problem when it comes to choosing between these two options is that building a new home creates more waste than retrofitting specific features of an existing home, but it may be more efficient in the long-run. For those concerned with waste and their environmental footprint, the short term and long term impacts of housing are in close competition with each other.

New Construction Options

One reason that new construction is so desired among green living enthusiasts is that it can be built to reflect our highest priorities. Worried about the environmental costs of heating your home? New construction can be built using passive solar design, a strategy that uses natural light and shade to heat or cool the home. Builders can add optimal insulation, build with all sustainable materials, and build exactly to the scale you need.

In fact, scale is a serious concern for new home buyers and builders alike. Individuals interested in green housing will actively avoid building more home than they need – scaling to the square foot matter because that’s more space you need to heat or cool – and this is harder to do when buying. You’re stuck with someone else’s design. In this vein, Missouri S&T’s Nest Home design, which uses recycled shipping containers, combines the tiny home trend with reuse and sustainability.

The Simple Retrofit

From an environmental perspective, there’s an obvious problem with building a new home: it’s an activity of mass consumption. There are already 120 million single-family homes and duplexes in the United States; do we really need more?

Extensive development alone is a good enough reason to intelligently retrofit an existing home rather than building new green structures, but the key is to do so with as little waste as possible. One option for retrofitting older homes is to install new smart home technology that can automate home regulation to reduce energy use.

Real estate agent Roxanne DeBerry sees clients struggle with issues of efficiency on a regular basis. That’s why she recommends tools like the Nest Thermostat, which develops a responsive heating and cooling schedule for the home and can be remotely adjusted via smartphone. Other smart tools for home efficiency include choosing Energy Star appliances and installing water-saving faucets and low-pressure toilets. These small changes add up.

Big Innovations

Ultimately, the most effective approach to green housing is likely to be aggressive retrofitting of everything from period homes to more recent construction. This will reduce material use where possible and prevent further aggressive land use. And finally, designers, activists, and engineers are coming together to develop such structures.

In the UK, for example, designers are interested in finding ways to adapt period houses for greater sustainability without compromising their aesthetics. Many have added solar panels, increased their insulation levels, and recently they even developed imitation sash triple glazed windows. As some have pointed out, the high cost of heating these homes without such changes will push these homes out of relevance without these changes. This is a way of saving existing structures.

Harvard is also working on retrofitting homes for sustainability. Their HouseZero project is designed for near-zero energy use and zero carbon emissions using geothermal heating and temperature radiant surfaces. The buildings bridge the gap between starting over and putting up with unmanageable heating and cooling bills.

It will take a long time to transition the majority of individuals to energy efficient, green housing but we’re headed in the right direction. What will your next home be like? As long as the answer is sustainable, you’re part of the solution to our chronic overuse – of land, energy, water, and more.

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Environment

How the Auto Industry is Lowering Emissions

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auto industry to clean air pollution

Currently, the automotive industry is undergoing an enormous change in a bid to lower carbon emissions. This has been pushed by the Government and their clean air plans, where they have outlined a plan to ban the sale of petrol and diesel cars by 2040.

Public Health Crisis

It is said that the levels of air pollution lead to 40,000 early deaths in the UK, with London being somewhere that is particularly bad. This has led to the new T-Charge, where heavy polluting cars will pay a new charge on top of the existing congestion charge. Other cities have taken action too, with Oxford recently announcing that they will be banning petrol and diesel cars from the city centre by 2020.

Eco-Friendly Vehicles

It is clear that the Government is taking action, but what about the auto industry? With the sale of petrol and diesel plummeting and a sharp rise in alternatively fuelled vehicles, it is clear that the industry is taking note and switching focus to green cars. There are now all kinds of fantastic eco-friendly cars available and a type to suit every motorist whether it is a small city car or an SUV.

Used Cars

Of course, it is the cars that are currently on the road that are causing the problem. The used car market is enormous and filled with polluting automobiles, but there are steps that you can take to avoid dangerous automobiles. It is now more important than ever to get vehicle checks carried out through HPI, as these can reveal important information about the automobile’s past and they find that 1 in 3 cars has a hidden secret of some kind. Additionally, they can now perform recall checks to see if the manufacturer has recalled that particular automobile. This allows people to shop confidently and find vehicles that are not doing as much damage to the environment as others.

Public Perception

With the rise in sales of alternatively fuelled vehicles, it is now becoming increasingly more common to see them on UK roads. Public perception has changed drastically in the last few years and this is because of the air pollution crisis, as well as the fact that there are now so many different reasons to switch to electric cars, such as Government grants and no road tax. A similar change in public opinion has happened in the United States, with electric car sales up by 47% in 2017.

Progress

The US is leading the way for lowering emissions as they have declined by 758 million metric tons since 2005, which is the largest amount by far with the UK in second with a decline of 170 million metric tons. Whilst it is clear that these two nations are doing a good job, there is still a lot of work that needs to be done in order to improve the air quality and stop so many premature deaths as a result of pollution.

With the Government’s plans, incentives to make the change and a change in public perception, it seems that the electric car revolution is fully underway.

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