Bright Ideas In Energy Efficiency
engineers have found a way to increase vehicle fuel economy thanks to a
crucial vehicle element that's often overlooked: lighting.
High-Intensity Discharge (HID) and Light-Emitting Diode (LED) lighting
options are more energy efficient than incandescent or halogen lights.
Incandescent bulbs in today's automotive lighting applications generate
more heat than light, requiring more electrical power. A vehicle's gasoline
engine generates electricity but not very efficiently. The more energy
needed to run lighting and other systems, the harder the engine has to
work, increasing fuel usage and greenhouse gas emissions.
In contrast, HID lighting uses up to 65 percent less energy and lasts
three times longer than standard incandescent lights, nearly the entire
life of the vehicle.
HID headlights are also good for the environment. Many are mercury free
and their increased efficiency helps reduce vehicle CO2 emissions by more
than 2 grams a mile.
Many of today's vehicles use LED signal and tail lighting. For example,
the 2010 Ford Mustang uses the OSRAM SYLVANIA Joule System, which
incorporates LEDs into
a form that resembles a typical incandescent bulb, making it easier to
adapt the new technology to current vehicle designs.
The vehicle's LED tail lamps use 87 percent less electricity than the
incandescent counterparts; that's an annual savings of more than 10 gallons
of gasoline and 205 fewer pounds of CO2 emitted into the atmosphere.
As more hybrid and electric vehicles come to market, automotive lighting
will play an even larger role in contributing to energy efficiency, cost
savings and the overall positive effects to the environment.
Other Ways to Save
"Once alternative vehicles increase their role or eventually become
a high-volume seller in the marketplace, the positive effects felt to the
environment and costs will grow in kind through LED lighting," said
David Hulick, global
product marketing director for automotive lighting producer OSRAM SYLVANIA.
"For example, multiplying savings via lighting by the nearly 250
million registered light-duty vehicles on America's
roads, you can see the impact that LED lighting could have on helping to
clean up the environment," said Hulick.
To learn more about automotive lighting, visit www.osram.com.
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Gardens Growing As Green Alternatives To Lawns
don't always need a lush lawn to make the neighbors green with envy.
Sometimes, you don't need much lawn at all.
Gardens for homegrown food have been an important part of American homes
from the early pioneers to World War II Victory gardens. Now, however, a
recent survey has found that food gardens have re-emerged as a new
technique to increase the sustainability of a home. Nearly one in five
residential landscape architects is replacing part or all of traditional
grass lawns with vegetable gardens, according to a survey by the American
Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA).
"Not only do you benefit from fresh produce, but these gardens
offer lower maintenance time and utility costs compared to turf grass while
substantially increasing the sustainability of a home," said ASLA
President Gary Scott, FASLA. "Plus, there's nothing more convenient or
sustainable than homegrown food."
Food gardens can be easy, rewarding and sustainable. For starters, don't
spend a dime on mulch when you can use leftover leaves. Additionally, grass
clippings from other parts of your yard make an excellent weed suppressant.
Many classic vegetables such as tomatoes require starting from seeds,
but perennial plants offer a lower-maintenance alternative and come back
every year. Some great examples include asparagus--especially the purple
passion variety, with 20 percent more sugar than regular varieties--as well
as blueberry bushes, blackberries and rhubarb.
Herbs can make for an especially sustainable food garden, as many prefer
hot and dry areas of the yard, with chives, sage and tarragon returning
every year. A great idea is to explore the many varieties of mint such as
chocolate, marshmallow and fruit salad, which carry flavors that match
Food gardens are one of many ways by which landscape architects can
create a more sustainable, low-maintenance alternative to expensive grass
lawns for homeowners.
For more information, visit www.asla.org.
Photo by Chipper Hatter
The Sunshine In And Earn A Rebate
in the sunshine could be a bright idea--especially when you update your
home with energy-efficient windows. Homeowners installing qualifying windows
can get as much as $1,500 back from the government under the American Recovery
and Reinvestment Act.
"There's never been a better time to replace your old, inefficient
windows," said James Ruppel,
window expert at Four Seasons Sunrooms. "The government is actually
paying you to save money on your energy bills."
Four Seasons Sunrooms--the award-winning sunroom, conservatory, patio
room and enclosure manufacturer--recently expanded its product line with
energy-efficient windows that meet and exceed the U.S.
government's strict energy-efficiency criteria for a 30 percent tax credit.
Made with the company's exclusive super energy-efficient ConservaGlass Select
technology, the heavy-duty vinyl replacement windows include, at no extra
charge, consumer-friendly features such as Stay-Clean Technology, which
keeps the glass cleaner longer; Glass Masking, which protects the windows
during transport and installation; and a Transferable Lifetime Warranty
that protects your investment for the lifetime of the windows, even if you
sell your home.
The company is well known for the outstanding performance of its
year-round solariums, screen rooms and patio enclosures and is is now bringing its over 35
years of experience to consumers with super energy-efficient windows.
For more information, visit www.fourseasonssunrooms.com.
Flush With Success: The Benefits Of High
growing number of homeowners are looking for ways to "go green," and
for many that includes finding ways to conserve water.
That's one reason that a buzzword in toilets today is
"efficiency." Consumers want an efficient appliance that gets the
intended job done and uses less water--two very important goals. It has
also helped to create the demand for what are known as high efficiency
High Efficiency Toilets
There are three different technologies available today for high
efficiency toilets (HET) that are designed to help homeowners save water.
Which one you choose depends on your personal needs and the condition of
the plumbing system in your house.
The choices include:
The traditional gravity toilet now only flushes on 1.28 gallons per
flush (gpf), saving 20
percent more water compared to the current requirement of 1.6 gpf. This technology uses a
siphon to "pull" water through the trapway.
The dual-flush toilet is designed with two options for flushing
volume; one button is for a full flush (1.6 gpf), which is meant for solid waste, and
another button for a partial flush, 1.0 gpf for liquid waste. The intent here is for the
user to understand when a partial flush will get the job done.
Otherwise, if the user always uses the full flush, there is no water
savings. This, too, uses siphon technology.
An alternative system is a 1.0 gpf
pressure-assist toilet. This system is used the same way as a conventional
system; however, there is a vessel inside the tank designed to use water
line pressure to "push" water through the trapway.
This source of energy (the water
line pressure) is delivered to your home from your local water municipality
or well pump system. This pressure-flush system delivers the
water to the bowl at three times the standard flow rate of the
siphon-driven technologies, enhancing the flush performance. Although it is
a very quick flush, its performance may be perceived as louder.
All these systems, used correctly, are designed to save water, which
saves money. Understanding how they work is only part of the information
required for making the right choice for your home. You also need to assess
your needs and the plumbing system in your home.
Here are some additional ideas that homeowners should consider when
selecting a system:
Are there children in the home?
Are there household members with special needs?
Is there a bathroom that is typically used by guests?
Does the house have older drains or drains with long horizontal runs?
All these questions can cause potential problems for conventional siphon
fixtures when your goal is to further reduce water consumption. In many of
these cases, pressure-assist technology should be considered.
To learn more, visit www.flushmate.com
or call (800) 533-3460.
Saving Water: Easy As 1-2-3
Drip. Drip. The average American household wastes more than 10,000 gallons
each year from easy-to-fix water leaks, adding up to more than one trillion
gallons of water lost annually nationwide. Many of these leaks have
do-it-yourself fixes that could cost only a few dollars to address.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA's) Water-Sense program
is encouraging homeowners to find and fix leaks to save more than 10
percent on utility bills now and help save water for future generations.
1. Find Leaks: Winter water use can be an indicator of household leaks.
If use exceeds 12,000 gallons per month for a family of four, chances are
good that you have a leak. Walk around your home with eyes and ears open to
find leaks, and don't forget to check pipes. Reveal a silent toilet leak by
adding a few drops of food coloring to the tank and wait 15 minutes without
flushing. If bowl water changes color, your toilet has a leak. Flush
afterwards to avoid staining the bowl or tank.
2. Fix Leaks: Many times, fixing leaks can be done yourself
and doesn't have to cost a thing. Both faucets and showerhead connections
can be tightened or sealed. For leaky toilets, the rubber flapper inside
the tank is often the culprit. Over time, the flapper decays, but replacing
it only costs a few dollars. If you don't feel comfortable with these
repairs, a licensed contractor can help. Irrigation systems and outdoor
spigots can also have leaks. A WaterSense
irrigation partner who is certified in water-efficient irrigation
technologies and techniques can ensure your irrigation system works
3. Save Water: Dripping faucets can waste more than 3,000 gallons per
year, a showerhead leaking 10 drips per minute about 500 gallons per year,
and running toilets 200 gallons or more each day. Fixing household leaks
not only saves water, but also energy and money on utility bills.
If you need to replace plumbing fixtures, save even more water by
replacing them with WaterSense-labeled models. WaterSense labels toilets, faucets, urinals and--coming
soon--showerheads that use at least 20 percent less water and are
independently tested and certified to perform as well as or better than
standard plumbing fixtures.
For more information and tips about how to save water, visit www.epa.gov/watersense.
Note to Editors: Fix a Leak Week is March 15-21, 2010. Additional
graphics and information are available from the WaterSense
Helpline at firstname.lastname@example.org or
(866) WTR-SENS (987-7367).
Protecting Planet Home
a quiet revolution under way in homes across the country. From the kitchen
to the nursery room and the bedroom to the bath, more and more families are
questioning the presence of chemical products in their homes and taking
decisive steps to replace them with healthier alternatives made from
The shift comes in response to news that all too many household
cleaners, personal care items, cosmetics and other consumer products
contain potentially toxic ingredients that haven't been tested for safety
and recent reports linking common household chemicals like Bisphenol A and phthalates to
cancer and other illnesses, as well as chronic health problems such as
"There's no question, we're in the midst of a sea change,"
says renowned pediatrician and author Dr. Alan Greene. "People are
starting to understand what's in these products and how their family's
health is affected when, say, they breathe air filled with cleaning product
vapors or absorb residues through their skin. At the same time, they're
realizing that just a few simple changes can make these problems disappear.
And it's often just a matter of making smarter choices when we shop."
That means opting for the many nontoxic alternatives available on
supermarket shelves such as those from Seventh Generation. The company
provides a variety of natural, nontoxic and effective cleaners for every
purpose in the home and 100 percent recycled paper products such as bath
tissue and paper towels.
Experts say that when safe and naturally effective alternatives like
these are purchased, they protect more than your home. They make a big
difference in the health of the world around us because products with
biodegradable formulas don't introduce hazardous contaminants into the
environment when they're used. Their ingredients don't poison the water or
pollute the air, and that has a larger impact than most consumers realize.
In Los Angeles, for
example, common household products such as cleaners and cosmetics are the
region's No. 2 source of air pollution after automobile exhaust.
"The benefits are so great in so many ways," says Greene.
"Once people realize how good natural products have gotten and see
that using them doesn't involve choosing between safety and effectiveness,
they never go back. And that's good news for everyone."
For more information, visit www.seventhgeneration.com.
Learn more at www.environmentalistseveryday.org
and (800) 424-2869.
From Grower To Your Cup
an eye-opening look at how your morning java made its way from the coffee
beans growing around the globe to your cup.
One company, Camano Island Coffee Roasters, offers insight into the
Once the beans arrive at the company's headquarters, the hundreds of
bags of raw beans are moved to the temperature-controlled storage area. The
company uses Earth-friendly Toyota
forklifts to unload truckloads of 25,000 pounds of raw coffee beans.
Green coffee beans are moved daily from the holding area to the roasting
facility. After roasting, the fresh coffee is sent to the packaging
division. There, the company makes sure each order is picked, packed and
ready for the shipping group. The shipping group then organizes the day's
shipments by carrier and sends the fresh coffee on its way. The entire
process is completed while the coffee is still warm from roasting. Most of
the coffee is sold online and direct to thousands of homes across America
through its Coffee Lover's Club.
To avoid an interruption to the supply chain, it is essential that the
equipment used to handle the pallets of fresh organic beans run at top
performance. True to the company's mantra of social responsibility, Camano
Island Coffee Roasters ensures that its suppliers offer products that are
environmentally friendly-such as Toyota's
"We pride ourselves on the freshness of our coffee, which means it
is imperative our forklifts run smoothly to ship coffee daily," said
Jeff Ericson. "That's why we choose to buy Toyota
forklifts for their reliability and environmentally conscious product.
"We commit to only carrying shade-grown, organic, fairly traded
[fair trade] coffees," said Jeff Ericson. "We roast only the
best-quality coffees from Brazil, Colombia, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Sumatra, Peru and Honduras.
We also carry seasonal varieties from Uganda, Kenya, Mexico, Bolivia, Hawaii [Kona, Molokai, Kauai] and many more depending on crop
So the next time you drink a jolt of java, you can appreciate the
careful material-handling process that ensures your coffee beans are kept
fresh and flavorful.
How To Detox Your Home
are more products available now than ever before that will help erase stain
spots, scour tubs and clean the floors of our homes. According to Dr. Alan
Greene, a noted pediatrician, author and green-living expert, recent
scientific evidence shows increasing links between common household
chemicals and children's health problems.
"When you think about the rise in rates of childhood illnesses such
as asthma, attention-deficit/ hyperactivity disorder, allergies and cancer,
it is not our genetics that have changed, but our environmental
exposures--including ingredients in household chemicals," said Dr.
"The Toxic Substances Control Act [TSCA] was created 33 years ago
to regulate our nation's chemicals and has done nothing but allow these chemicals
to slide through the system and into household products," noted
consumer advocate Erin Brockovich.
"Consumers are entitled to have more information about the chemicals
that go into the everyday products they buy, and that's why I am urging
people to join the Million Baby Crawl to ask Congress to enact stricter
Until stricter safety testing on household products exists, Dr. Greene
shares five simple ways to decrease toxins in your home now:
1. Be an advocate for change by supporting stronger toxic chemical laws
such as the Kid-Safe Chemicals Act. Go to www.millionbabycrawl.com for
more information and to participate.
2. Open your windows. EPA research has found that indoor air can contain
levels of pollutants two to five times higher than the air outside.
3. If you are using plastic, store food in No. 1, No. 2, No. 4 or No. 5
plastic containers, which are less likely to leach unsafe chemicals
including BPA. Never heat food or serve hot food in plastic of any kind.
4. Stay informed, read the labels of products before purchasing. Avoid
anything that says "danger," "warning" or
5. Remove toxic household cleaning products and replace them with
natural cleaning products, such as those from Seventh Generation, that
won't leave behind harmful chemical residue or pollute indoor air.
For more information on nontoxic living, visit www.seventhgeneration.com.