Environment:

Geothermal Tax Incentives Savings With Geothermal The Value Of Grass "Green" Plastics

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"Green" School Supplies Healthy Water Recycle Food Waste

Tax Incentives Continue For Geothermal Systems

(NAPSI)—Even as federal tax credits for traditional heating and cooling systems have decreased, incentives for geothermal systems remain considerably higher—at 30 percent of the installed cost of the system with no limit. In fact, homeowners can take advantage of the federal residential renewable energy tax credit through December 31, 2016. What’s more, the credit is retroactive to Jan. 1, 2009 and can be used in combination with utility rebates and state tax incentives to make geothermal systems more affordable than ever.

The savings associated with operating a geothermal system are just as attractive. By taking advantage of the abundant source of free solar energy stored in the earth to heat and cool a home, a geothermal heating and cooling system can save homeowners as much as 70 percent on their cooling bills in summer. The system can also provide supplemental hot water, saving homeowners even more. Instead of being extracted from the ground to preheat hot water, the heat comes from the house.

A geothermal system offers a number of other benefits, including even distribution of heating and cooling for improved comfort, a reduced carbon footprint, improved indoor air quality, quiet operation, little to no maintenance and a life span that exceeds 24 years.

To qualify for the tax credit, residential systems must meet ENERGY STAR requirements. Homeowners can file for the credit by completing the Residential Energy Efficient Property Credit, Form 5695. A copy of the form, as well as an informative brochure that explains the federal tax incentive and a listing of those products that qualify for the tax credit, is available on the WaterFurnace website at www.waterfurnace.com.

To learn more about federal tax credits and the many other benefits that a geothermal system offers, visit the site or talk to a WaterFurnace expert at (800) GEO-SAVE.

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Digging Up Savings With Geothermal

(NAPSI)—Homeowners searching for ways to save money are digging deep-but not in their pockets, in their yards. More and more consumers are taking advantage of the free, renewable energy source that lies just beneath the earth’s surface to efficiently and economically heat and cool their homes.

A geothermal home comfort system taps into the abundant source of free solar energy stored in the earth and uses a series of pipes (an earth loop) buried in the ground to move that energy into the house. During the cooling cycle, a geothermal heat pump extracts heat from the air inside and moves it to the earth loop. In the heating mode, the heat pump uses the earth loop to extract heat from the ground and distribute it through the building, using a conventional duct system. The same heat energy can also be used for a radiant floor system or domestic hot water heating.

According to the experts at WaterFurnace, using this free energy source can save homeowners as much as 70 percent on their cooling bills. What’s more, the average system life span exceeds 24 years—compared to 15 years for a more traditional heating and cooling system.

During that extended life span, the geothermal system can provide a host of additional benefits to homeowners, including:

• Efficiency ratings up to five times higher than those of traditional heating and cooling systems

• Even distribution of heating and cooling for improved comfort

• Improved indoor air quality

• Quiet operation, with no noisy outdoor units to disturb the environment or neighbors

• Safe operation that requires no open flame or fuel storage tanks

• Little to no maintenance

• A reduced carbon footprint, since the system burns no fossil fuel.

Another plus: Homeowners who install a geothermal system before December 31, 2016 can take advantage of a federal residential renewable energy tax credit of 30 percent of the total investment for the system. Part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, this tax incentive is retroactive to January 1, 2009 and can be used in combination with utility rebates and state tax incentives, where available, to make geothermal systems more affordable than ever.

To find a geothermal system that fits your needs, you can visit www.waterfurnace.com or call (800) GEO-SAVE.

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Why Green Matters: The Value Of Grass In Your Yard

(NAPSI)—When the grass is greener on your side of the fence, you and your family can benefit in ways you may not even realize. Here are a few of the many reasons why green matters, and they are happening right outside your back door.

Green space improves the health of your environment—including your home.

Green spaces that have grass, trees and shrubs are always at work for the environment. They act as filters for pollutants and dust, and provide shade and lower temperatures in the summer. Just ask Project EverGreen, a non-profit organization whose mission is to preserve and enhance green space in communities for today and future generations. Project EverGreen reports that 2,500 square feet of turfgrass-like the grass in your yard—absorbs carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and releases enough oxygen for a family of four to breathe.

Well-maintained turf cools the environment.

According to the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute, a well-managed backyard lawn—meaning those that are cut regularly to the appropriate height, fed with nutrients and watered in a responsible way—helps cool the environment around you. Lawns can be 30 degrees cooler than asphalt and 14 degrees cooler than bare soil on hot days.

What can you do to make your lawn work for you?

Homeowners can “grasscycle” by leaving grass clippings on the lawn when mowing. The clippings quickly decompose and release valuable nutrients back into the soil to feed the grass, reducing the need for nitrogen by 25 to 50 percent. Modern mulching lawn mowers, such as those from John Deere, a supporter of Project EverGreen, make “grasscycling” even easier. Homeowners can reduce their mowing time by 30 to 40 percent by not having to bag clippings.

Having green can mean saving green.

Green space can also improve property value. SmartMoney magazine indicated that consumers value a landscaped home up to 11.3 percent higher than its base price. Another study by the Aspen Environmental Companies found that a landscaping investment is nearly always recovered and can help reduce time on the housing market.

More Information

Learn more at www.projectevergreen.com and at www.opei.org.

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“Green Plastics” Are All The Rage In Fashion

(NAPSI)—Many people may be surprised to realize it, but contemporary fashion wouldn’t exist without plastics. Plastic-based fabrics such as spandex, polyester and rayon give jeans stretch, fleece jackets strength and warmth, and evening gowns a flowing drape.

Plastics Then

Over the years, plastic fabrics were so influential in fashion they defined entire decades: nylon, made from plastic, was introduced in the late ‘30s as a replacement for silk, which was scarce and expensive during World War II. Nylon became so commonplace that stockings took on the name nylons. And what would the ‘70s have been without polyester or the ‘80s without spandex?

Plastics Now

Plastics continue to influence the direction of fashion in the 21st century. At a time when many people are seeking ways to lessen their impact on the environment, recycled plastic clothing has grown in popularity because it fits into a sustainable lifestyle.

As Steve Russell, vice president of the Plastics Division of The American Chemistry Council, explains, “Designers frequently use plastic-based materials such as nylon, faux leather and sequins in their collections because they allow for extreme versatility and creativity.”

Getting Even Greener

Quite a few plastic fabrics can be made from recycled plastic. How does this work? It starts with common plastic items, such as water and soda bottles or milk jugs and juice containers, which are cleaned, melted down and stretched into a very fine thread. This thread can then be woven into the same kind of versatile, durable and beautiful fabrics that consumers have come to love, and the garments and accessories made from these fabrics help to keep plastic bottles out of landfills.

When fabrics made with recycled plastics first hit the mainstream, they were reserved for outdoorsy clothing meant for a camping trip or for the gym. Now, however, designers and clothing makers know fabrics made from recycled plastic can work just as well for refined garments as they do for rugged ones. Recycled plastics can now be found in everything from mass-market T-shirts to couture handbags.

Clothing companies have produced entire lines made with recycled plastic, and some have programs that let customers return worn clothing for recycling later on. Some of the biggest celebrities have recently been spotted wearing recycled plastic clothing at red-carpet events, which has helped make sustainability chic.

In fact, so many designers—and consumers—have embraced clothes and accessories made with recycled materials, they might just become the defining clothing trend of the 2010s.

Learn More

For more information on sustainable fashion, visit www.plasticsmakeitpossible.com.

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Using Technology To Save Lives And Dollars

(NAPSI)—The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) has come up with a surprising way to help keep this country safe-and improve the economy and protect the environment at the same time.

Fueling this effort is, well, fuel; specifically, biofuel.

The Problem

The military is a significant consumer of fuel, which at present comes from oil. U.S. troops, their trucks, ships and airplanes use close to 2 percent of the nation’s energy on an annual basis. The military is therefore as much at the mercy of high oil and gasoline prices as are consumers.

In recent years, the DoD spent about $16 billion on fuel annually. Every dollar increase in the price of a barrel of oil costs the government about $130 million over the course of a year.

A Solution

To reduce vulnerability to oil prices, the DoD intends to acquire half its energy supplies from renewable sources that meet U.S. greenhouse gas emission initiatives.

This can not only save taxpayer dollars and reduce our dependence on foreign oil, but can also help make this technology less expensive and more widely available, just as the DoD did by being an early adopter of other technologies, from the Internet to GPS.

What The Experts Say

Explains Sharon E. Burke, assistant secretary of defense for Operational Energy Plans and Programs at the Department of Defense, “As we improve the energy security of our armed forces, the Department hopes to make an important contribution to energy security for the whole nation.”

As Elizabeth King, assistant secretary of defense for Legislative Affairs, put it, “Our dependence on [fossil] fuels degrades our national security, negatively impacts our economy and harms the environment. Significant developments in America’s advanced biofuel industry hold promise for meeting military needs.”

Adds Brent Erickson, executive vice president, Biotechnology Industry Organization, “Fuel efficiency and access to fuel supplies are important ‘force multipliers’ because they increase the military’s ability to operate where needed and can reduce the number of combat forces necessary to protect energy supply lines.”

Biofuels produced at small, strategically located biorefineries, many at the DoD believe, can best meet America’s future needs.

Learn More

For more information, visit www.BIOtech-NOW.org.

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Green Your School Year

(NAPSI)—Here are some easy, eco-friendly ways to green your school year-and earn some green for doing so:

• Choose Greener School Supplies—In the U.S. alone, approximately 11,600 incense-cedar trees are cut down to create the 2 billion pencils made each year. Meanwhile, 1.6 million single-use pens are thrown away each year in the U.S. Look for school supplies wrapped in limited packaging and recycle what you can. You might even consider turning an even greener new leaf and seek out eco-friendly supplies, such as recycled fiber or reusable mechanical pencils, refillable pens and paper clips made from recycled steel.

• Pack a Waste-Free Lunch—Buying lunch at school typically produces more waste than bringing it but there’s still a lot of waste associated with bagged lunches. It’s estimated that Americans go through 100 billion plastic bags a year-360 for each person. To cut down, ditch the brown bag and try a reusable lunch bag or box and fill reusable bottles with water or juice. If you do use plastic, be sure to recycle. Clean, dry Ziploc bags, for example, can be recycled at many grocery stores.

• Green Yourself Head to Toe—To find clothes with less of an environmental impact, shop at thrift stores and trendy second-hand stores or arrange a clothing swap with friends. If new clothes are a must, aim for such sustainable fabrics as organic cotton or Earth-friendly bamboo.

• Carpool or Take the Bus—Encourage your kids to take the bus or arrange a car pool. You’ll save on gas and reduce emissions. If you must drive, make sure your tires are properly inflated to save on gas mileage.

• Reuse School Gear—Invest in a durable backpack that your kids can use and pass down. Evaluate, mend and clean older gear and see what can be exchanged with friends, neighbors and relatives. If it’s time for a new computer, you can get cash or gift cards for recycling your old one. At www.recyclebank.com, you can check the value of your old electronics.

• Learn More—For more green tips, including how to get rewarded for being green with discounts and deals, plus fun eco-challenges, visit www.recyclebank.com.

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Healthy Ways To Handle Water Around The House

(NAPSI)—Water is a wonderful thing-except when you need to move it or it’s where you don’t want it. Then it can be heavy, messy, and even hazardous to your health.

For example, an 18-inch fish tank holds seven gallons of water—which weigh more than 58 pounds. That’s going to be tough to lift when it’s time to clean the tank. Consider these facts and figures: According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), over half of all back injuries result from improper lifting, and back injuries are cited as the most common reason for absenteeism in the general workforce, after the common cold. Some 80 percent of adults will experience a back injury in their lifetime and about 10 percent will suffer a reinjury. While no way has been found to totally eliminate back injuries caused by lifting, many of them can be prevented.

For example, rather than lifting and moving that fish tank you can empty it quickly and easily with the help of a cordless water pump. You can even get one that runs on a safe, low-voltage battery, is fully submersible and can be used on fresh or salt water, like AquaCharge™. With a rechargeable battery and charging station, an eight-foot hose (or any standard garden hose if you need more length), and a 200-gallon-per-charge pump capacity, this light, compact pump handles both maintenance of household water pumping tasks and emergency needs easily with the simple turn of a knob.

Given the portability and compact nature of the AquaCharge pump, anyone with a large aquarium, hot tub, outdoor water feature or a child’s pool to empty will find it a big convenience compared to the usual “bucket brigade” technique. It can also come in handy if the plumbing overflows in your kitchen, bathroom, basement or laundry room and you have to undertake the back-breaking task of getting that water up off of the slippery floor. Even watersport enthusiasts and fishermen have to occasionally “swab the deck” and find it effective in removing water from their kayaks, dinghies, canoes and sailboats.

Taking care of water-moving chores doesn’t have to hurt your back when you’ve got a tool that helps you perform those tasks more productively and safely, and takes handling water around the house from hazardous to healthy.

Learn More

AquaCharge is available online and through select retailers. Visit www.aquachargepump.com for more information.

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An Easy Way To Recycle Food Waste

(NAPSI)—Why are people in dozens of major U.S. cities putting more food scraps down their food waste disposers rather than in the trash can? It’s easy, sure, but maybe it’s also because a new study shows that it can result in lower global warming potential than landfills. The study, which aimed to understand the environmental impact of food waste disposal methods, also confirmed that food waste processed at advanced wastewater treatment facilities can generate renewable energy and produce beneficial fertilizers. That’s a win-win scenario.

More than 19 million tons of food waste from homes, restaurants and institutions end up in U.S. landfills. And it gets there in fossil fuel−burning trucks. Once there, the food waste decomposes, emitting methane, a greenhouse gas that’s at least 21 times more harmful than CO2 in trapping heat in the atmosphere.

An average community of 30,000 households could avoid more than 2,000 tons of CO2 emissions if most of its food scraps went through a disposer to a wastewater treatment facility instead of a landfill. That’s equal to eliminating 4.6 million miles of car traffic. And disposals themselves have a small environmental footprint, using only about 1 percent or less of a household’s total water consumption and costing—on average—less than 50 cents a year in electricity usage.

So now, people can feel good about tossing that apple core or banana peel down the drain, where it’s virtually liquefied to safely flow into your sewage system or septic tank. Disposers also offer the added bonus of cleaner food preparation areas, less cans and bags cluttering your home, and fewer trips carrying garbage to the curb.

“The study validates that food waste disposers are more than just convenient—I like to think of them as an environmental appliance,” said Tim Ferry, president, InSinkErator. “After people look at the environmental benefits of using disposers instead of landfills, we think they will be compelled to bypass the trash can and put food scraps down the disposer instead.”

It’s nice to know that one environmental solution is as simple—and close—as the kitchen sink. For more information, visit www.insinkerator.com/green.

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