Go Green

Distressed Furniture Gives You The Look of Antique Without the Price

The distressed look is in! Many homeowners search flea markets, yard sales and thrift stores to find furniture pieces that need refinished! This weathered, time worn look is becoming exceedingly popular in home decorating!

You don’t have to scour used furniture sales to find great looking distressed pieces of furniture. You can easily give your existing furniture pieces that same aged look yourself. Following the same steps that the pro’s use, you can refinish your furniture so that it looks like it needs to be refinished!

The first step is to sand the piece. You don’t need to sand it down to bare wood, you just want to remove all of the shine from the surface. Neither the primer or the paint will adhere well to a shiny surface, you want the entire piece to have a dull surface.

Now comes the fun part, roughing up the surface! Distressed means that the furniture has been well used, it should have some dents and dings. You can use a hammer, chain or any other object do some physical damage to the furniture! How much or how little damage you do is up to you!

Once you’ve added the aged beaten look to the piece, apply a thin coating of a quality white primer to the surface. Allow the primer to completely dry, then use sand paper to just lightly sand any areas that are to rough.

The color of the top coat of paint you choose for the piece should compliment your rooms decor. But, that’s entirely up to you, some people like to have contrasting colors. Just make sure you get a quality paint. Apply two coats of the paint making sure that it’s allowed to thoroughly dry between coats.

To get that wonderful crackle finish, you can apply crackle glaze to the entire piece or just apply it on the areas you want to crackle. Crackle makes it appear as if the paint is peeling off of the surface, just like it would if the piece was really old.

Following the steps above will give you a white base that will be visible through the crackled areas. If you’d rather have a different color showing through the top coat, simply choose a different color primer.

After you’ve allowed all of the coats to thoroughly dry, you can apply a glaze coat. This is a totally optional step, but it will make all the details in the piece more visible. Pro’s recommend that you use either a dark gray or brown glazing so that it will highlight the areas that you roughed up.

Glaze should be applied to the piece with a paint brush. Once applied use a rag to wipe off any excess glaze. Wipe the entire surface in the same direction applying even pressure for the best results.

It’s not necessary, but you really should apply a sealant to the piece. While you purposely set out to make the piece look old and distressed, you’ve put a lot of work into creating that look. A sealant will help to protect the piece from unwanted distress!

A water based polyurethane is really good for this purpose. You should apply at least two thin coats and lightly sand the piece after each coat dries completely. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions on the label for the best results.

Now, you’re ready to admire your work! You’ll be amazed at how old this technique can make even the newest piece of furniture look. It’s a great way to have the look of antique furniture without the price tag!

Simple Ways to Have a Greener Bathroom

If you’re getting ready to re-do your bathroom, it’s the perfect time to incorporate a little green! There are some easy ways to make your entire home a little more environmentally friendly and some are very inexpensive to do. Some things are just a matter of thinking green and then making the right purchases.

You have to have bath towels and other linens for your bath, so why not choose green ones? Organic cotten is the perfect choice and it’s a very soft, comfortable material. More expensive bath linens will tend to be better since they will probably be dyed with natural dyes and be less toxic. But, if you’re on a budget just purchase the most expensive ones you can afford.

Cotton duck is a heavy material that will even repel water to a certain extent. If you really want to take green to the limit, buy a cotton duck shower curtain instead of vinyl. If you’ve ever noticed the chemical smell when you’ve opened a new vinyl shower curtain, you have an idea of the chemicals that is in the plastic.

Just simply changing your shower head to a low-flow model can reduce water usage by as much as 30% and still give you a nice powerful shower spray. And, if you want to take your water conservation to another level, try a water diverter. This gadget will divert all of the water from your shower and bath to a container to use outside.

You can pair your low-flow shower head up with a low-flow toilet. It can literally take as much as seven gallons of water to flush an older toilet! However, if your toilet was made before 1995, it should already be manufactured to use less water. Toilets made since then generally use around a gallon and a half for each flush.

If you’re doing any type of remodeling, opt for recycled materials. You can even purchase tiles that are recycled for both your floors and walls. One of the best for low emissions are tiles that are made from recyled glass. And, with the concern for the environment, manufacturers are offering designs that are just as pretty as regular tiles.

Adjusting your water heater down to 120* and wrapping it with an insulated water heater blanket will really help. Whether you have a gas or electric heater, the insulated blanket will help the water retain it’s temperature better so that your water heater isn’t working double time to keep reheating the same water.

Green cleaning supplies aren’t just for bathrooms of course, you should be using them throughout your home. But, in a small bathroom they have an added plus, there’s no chemicals to choke you to death in a small room with no air circulation!

Always read the warning labels mandated by the government to see exactly how bad the cleaners you’re using are. Try to use products that just say caution as they’re the least toxic. If the label says poison/danger try to avoid using the product.

Last but certainly not least, another way to help both you and the environment is to use natural bath products. The environment don’t need all the extra chemicals that some cosmetic companies use, but neither do you! A certain amount of the chemicals found in bath soaps, oils and bubble bath soak into your skin while you’re soaking in the tub!

If you like your shower or bath by candle light, use candles made of 100% beeswax. They will naturally freshen the air and do’t contain any petroleum products. Even the simple things can go along way in protecting the environment, especially as more and more people try to live greener lives.

Decorating Your Home To Save Energy

If you’re trying to make your home as green as you can on a budget, it might seem like an impossible task. But, there are some really simple  changes you can make to your homes decor to help! Most aren’t really expensive and can keep you on your budget.

It may surprise you to know that an average of one fourth of the energy used in your home goes out the windows! While you might not be able to just replace all of your old windows with new energy efficient ones, your window treatments can actually help a lot!

We all know that sunlight means heat and sun coming through your windows makes your home hotter. You can purchase blinds that reflect light, use drapery liners and even blackout shades. Some window treatments even come with a summer shading rating to let you know how efficient they are at blocking the sun’s heat from entering your home.

If you’d prefer, you can even line your drapes yourself with some sturdy cotton or other material that is thick enough to block the sun. But, for the most efficient way to block the suns rays, use insulationg window shades.

Although it seems high, it’s estimated that around 73% of the energy goes for lighting your home. If you set your lamps in a corner, they’ll reflect light off of the walls and make your home brighter. Make sure to insulate around any recessed lights that you have in your ceilings.

Flooring and walls are another problem when it comes to conserving energy in your home. Carpeting and rugs of course help contain heat and keep your floors warmer. And, using flooring such as brick or tile in front of big windows on the south side of your home, will actually capture heat from the sun.

If your walls are really drafty, consider covering them with wallpaper. There’s lot’s of beautiful designs and it will work to seal small cracks and crevices in your walls. You can find wallpaper with a foil backing that will even reflect the heat off the walls and back into your home.

Even hanging your favorite quilt or a elegant tapestry over problem areas on your walls can greatly help energy efficiency. It will also add to the look of your home, many people are using wall hangings as a decorating enhancement even when they aren’t trying to fix drafts.

The types of furniture that you have in your home can also help. Highly reflective furnishing such as chrome will make your home brighter and also reflect heat. And, over stuffed upholstered furniture is naturally going to help with drafts that come out from under your chairs or couches, especially if they’re skirted.

During the winter time you can rearrange your furniture so that you’ll be sitting closer to heat sources such as vents. At the same time, don’t arrange them to closely or the heat won’t be able to circulate. In the summer time arrange furniture apart so that air can flow freely throughout the room and keep it away from direct sun.

Dark furnishings will absorb and release heat coming through windows from the sun. This can help warm your home in the winter, but will make your home hotter in the summer. So, you might want to arrange your furniture by the season.

Folding screens come in lot’s of different styles and colors and are really pretty in a room. But, they can be used to block the sun’s rays at windows and even help with small drafts. Another trick is to set large items like book shelves at problem areas, if you set them close to the wall they can deflect drafts.

Ceiling fans can save you a lot of energy by circulating both warm and cool air. They can also add light to the room and with all the styles available, you can go from modern to elegant. In the winter months, set the fan on the reverse setting to pull warm air down from the ceiling into the room.

Milk Paint – Homemade Environmentally Safe Green Paint

The concern for our environment is growing on a daily basis and many people around the world are pitching in to do their part. If we took more time to research the chemicals that are in some of the products we use, we probably wouldn’t use them at all!

There’s all kinds of toxic chemicals in the cleaning products we use in our homes and even in the products our homes are made of. And, we all know how toxic paint can be, the smell can even give you headaches and wreak havoc on allergies.

There’s a great toxin free, natural paint that you can make yourself to use instead of buying a petroleum based paint that can make you sick. With a few simple ingredients you can make milk paint! The end result of milk paint is an old world plaster effect that is muted and looks amazing.

Milk paint has been around for literally thousands of years, items painted with milk paint were even found in King Tutankhamen’s tomb! And, there have been paintings and drawings done in milk paint that date back to over 20,000 years!

You can actually buy milk paint that you just need to mix with water. It’s easier than making your own, but it averages around $35 to $40 a gallon! Quite expensive for paint, especially when you can easily make the same mixture yourself for about half that price.

You will need one gallon of skim milk, some vinegar, Type S hydrated lime powder, paint pigment and some cheesecloth. Find a container that has a lid that’s at least two gallons so that you can have room to mix the ingredients properly.

The milk needs to curdle and this is what the vinegar is for. Pour the milk into the large container and let it set until it reaches room temperature. Add two cups of vinegar and mix it thoroughly, place the container in a warm place to sit overnight. It will need to be stirred occasionaly, maybe if you wake up to go to the bathroom you can give the bucket a good stirring!

By the next day the solids in the milk should be noticeably separating from the liquid. Try to have all your other items ready by the time this happens, you want to mix the milk paint while the milk is as fresh as possible.

Place 1/2 cup of the pigment into a separate container and mix an equal amount of water into it. If you’ve got it mixed properly, the pigment will have the consistency of a paste. Put 1/4 cup of the Type S hydrated lime powder in another container and thoroughly mix in 1 1/2 cups of water until it also resembles a past.

You really should wear a protective mask when working with the lime dust so that you don’t inhale any of it. Now, you need to strain your milk and vinegar mixture. Pour it through a colander to separate the curds and whey. Leave the curds in the colander and rinse well with clean water, don’t let the curds dry out.

Rinse the large bucket or container out and place all of the pieces of curd back into it breaking up any large pieces. Now, add the lime mixture and mix it up really good. Add the pigment mixture and again, mix thoroughly making sure to dissolve any of the pieces of curd.

Place the cheesecloth over another large bucket and strain the mixture through it. Your milk paint is now ready to use and any leftover paint can just be stored in your refrigerator for several days.

The milk paint mixture will be thin, if it doesn’t give you the coverage that you want you can just use as many coats as you want. Once the milk paint is dried you can wax it to give it a smoother finish and help seal and protect it.

Easy Ways To Have a Green Kitchen

There are many every day activities in the home that consume much more energy than is needed. There are many ways to save on the amount of energy that is used such as turning off the lights when you leave a room and adjusting the thermostat a few degrees. But, there’s also lot’s of ways to conserve energy when you prepare your families meals.

Keeping a lid on your cooker or skillet will help it retain heat. Because the lid will hold the heat in, it will generate a higher temperature and the food will get done much faster. You can also turn the burner off just before the food is done, the heat trapped inside the pan will finish cooking the food.

Crock pots and toaster ovens are really convenient, energy saving appliances. You can throw everything in a crock pot and it will be done when you get home. And, a toaster oven will bake small items just as well as your stoves oven. The green advantage is that they both use less electricity and they won’t heat you kitchen up and cause the air conditioning to kick on!

Investing in a high quality set of cookware not only makes cooking easier, it will reduce the amount of electricity needed to cook your food. Thin pans don’t hold heat very well, thicker cookware might take a little longer to heat up, but they will distribute and hold heat better once they do.

Always use pots and pans that match the size of your burners whenever possible. The parts of the burner that aren’t covered by the pan just generates heat that is wasted. Oversized pots and pans will also use more energy, the heat won’t distribute evenly on the parts of the cookware that aren’t sitting on the burner.

Take full advantage of all of the heat that your oven produces. A oven will retain heat for as much as 30 minutes after you’ve turned it off. Use that heat to warm up breads, rolls or even desserts. You can also use it to keep your food warm while you wait on everything else to get done.

Don’t turn the oven on to preheat it until you’re almost ready to place the food in the oven. And, using ceramic or glass pans as opposed to metal will allow you to be able to reduce the oven temperature approximately 25* less than you normally need.

Use the microwave whenever possible, microwaves consume around 20% less energy than your stove. Instead of turning on a burner to boil some water, use the microwave. It’s a great low cost way to warm up leftovers and even cook certain foods.

Only run the dishwasher when you have a full load of dishes. Running the dishwasher half full uses just as much electricity as it does when it’s completely full. And, instead of using the dry cycle, turn the dishwasher off and open the door to air dry the dishes.

Installing your dishwasher near your refrigerator can cause your refrigerator to use more electricity! The heat and moisture that is generated from the dishwasher will cause the refrigerator to have to work harder to stay cold.

If you need a lot of items out of the refrigerator when cooking, try to get everything at one time so you don’t have to keep opening the door. And, allowing leftovers to cool down before placing them in the refrigerator will help save energy. The heat and moisture from hot foods causes the refrigerators temperature to drop.

Cleaning the coils on your refrigerator will make it run more efficiently. The condenser coils are either at the main bottom or at the back of your refrigerator and you can clean them with a vacuum or brush. Dust, dirt and lint that accumulates on the coils can increase energy usage 25% or more.

There are also ways that you can conserve water in the kitchen. Aerators can be easily attached to your faucet and will greatly reduce the amount of water that is used. Only use hot water when you really need to and never leave the water running when you’re not using it.

While you may not be able to just run out and purchase new energy saving appliances, do some research when you do need to replace one. Always check the energy ratings on appliances when you do have to buy a new one. Doing little things to conserve energy may seem like a waste of time, but it all adds up to save you money and help protect the environment.

Green Ways To Control Garden Pests and Diseases

Chemicals have became a big concern for families around the world. With the effect that they can have on both our health and the health of the environment, more and more people are looking for natural solutions. There are several things that you can use to control pests on your plants that are all natural and totally safe.

Many insects that can destroy your plants can be controlled by a simple soap solution. You can add one tablespoon of soap to a gallon of water, mix well and use a spray bottle to apply it to the plant. This solution should be applied once a day for a week to take care of whiteflies, aphids and spider mites.

Another all natural way to get rid of those same pests is with garlic. Soak about 15 cloves of fresh garlic in mineral oil overnight. Remove the garlic and add 2 quarts of water and a teaspoon of dish liquid and mix thoroughly. Spray on the infested plants daily until they’re gone!

You can even make your own little sticky traps with some vaseline, plastic cards and some outdoor yellow paint. Paint the plastic cards on both sides and make a small hole in the top for a string. Coat both sides with the vaseline and hang near the plant.

If black spot and mildew is attacking your plant, try a baking soda mixture. Add a teaspoon of baking soda, a teaspoon of soap and a liter of water together and mix well. Remove all of the affected leaves and spray the rest of the plant with the solution to control the disease. One part milk to nine parts water will stop powdery mildew!

We all hate the smell of mothballs and so do most insects. If the infected plant is in a pot, you can place the pot in a plastic bag and add a few moth balls. Seal the bag and let it set for a few days or a week, the insects will die.

You can make your own dusting powder with black pepper and flour. Just mix the two ingredients together and sprinkle it all around the infested plants. The pests won’t be to eager to eat your plants with the pepper there, but they will be eager to get away from them!

Basil is a good deterrent for gnats, mosquitoes and flies. You can keep them away from you and your family by crushing basil leaves with your hands and rubbing the oil on your skin. Keep these pests away from porches and yards by planting basil in the yard or in pots on your porch.

You can easily make a trap to catch Japanese Beetles. Cut the top section off of a plastic jug, fill the inside with a mixture of 2 cups water, 1/2 cup sugar, a mashed banana, 14 teaspoon of baking yeast and 1/2 cup of wine. Set the container in a warm place and let it ferment and then put it in your garden or flower bed. The beetles will love it!

Regular salt can be sprinkled around the bottoms of your plants to keep ants away, it will also keep slugs away. Ground cinnamon is another all natural way to deter those pesky little ants. Another home remedy for ants is to add equal amounts of sugar and baking soda and sprinkle in the areas that you see the ants.

Using home made solutions to control pests on your plants isn’t only good for your and the environment, it’s also cheaper than commercial pesticides. And, many of these remedies will keep the pests away before they even have the chance to do any damage to your plants.

The Green Way to Water Your Garden and Flowers

With the big emphasis on going green to protect the environment, many people are finding ways to conserve and recycle in their homes. But, there’s a whole outdoor world that provides you with all kinds of opportunities to go green to!

About 40% of the water that is used during the summer months is used out doors. So, conserving water is a great way to go green! Water your plants early in the morning before it gets hot or late in the evening after it’s cooled down. More water will actually get used by the plants and not evaporated by the hot sun!

This is usually better for most plants anyway, some plants will die or become damaged when the sun scalds their wet leaves. While using a water hose to water your plants might seem easier, it’s also wasting a lot of water!

Use a watering can so that you can see how much water you’re using. It also let’s you water the plants that need water, where as a water hose will spray a bigger area and water places that don’t need it. With a watering can, you can control specific areas that get water.

Soaker hoses are another great way to conserve water in the yard and garden. They’re made from recycled tires, so they’re already environtmental friendly! Soaker hoses have millions of tiny holes along the hose that allows the water to slowly seep out into the soil.

They can be placed underneath the mulch so that they’re not even visible in your flower beds or garden. They need very little maintenance and can be hooked into a regular water hose timer to water your plants without any assistance from you.

The very best way to provide water for your plants is through drip irrigation. It has a 90% efficiency rating and consists of a series of tubes that have water release points at each plant. You can also hook this system up to a timer for more efficiency and when a particular plant no longer needs water for the season, you can plug the holes in the tubing.

Many people are turning to container gardening for a lack of garden space. We all know that flowers can be grown in containers, but there’s also many types of vegetables that do well in containers. Using self watering pots will help keep the soil moist and save on water usage at the same time.

One of the best sources for watering your plants is free! Rainwater is easily collected in pails or other containers and the down spout coming from your gutters can provide an abundance of rain water!

For every 1,000 square feet of roof that you have, an inch of rain will yeild you 600 gallons of water. You can even purchase a diverter to guide the rain water into a container such as a barrel or even a garbage can.

For more serious gardners, you can install an underground holding tank to collect the rainfall. But, a pump will need to be used to get the water from the tank to the hose. When using a barrel you can just fill your watering can and even use your soaker hoses and drip irrigation system by siphoning.

Precautions should be taken with any standing water. The water should be used within ten days of collection, after the water has been standing for ten days mosquito’s will start to breed.

How to Choose Floor Covering Alternatives That Are Green!

When trying to do your part to save the environment by going green, flooring may be one area that you don’t think about! But, with the rising demand for green products, flooring manufacturers are doing their part to!

Green flooring can help benefit the environment on a global level, but it can also be a great benefit on a personal level. Green flooring actually reduces the toxicity levels in your home and can help reduce the effects of illness like allergies and asthma!

There are now several types of flooring products that are very earth and environment friendly, but they are also beautiful. The most common types are wood, cork, concrete, natural linoleums, natural carpets and bamboo!

Wood is a natural flooring choice, but not all wood falls into the green category. Some woods are heavily treated with pesticides and many are taken from forests with no regard to the wildlife.

To make sure that your new wood floor meets green standards look for the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification. The FSC requires that loggers and foresters meet 57 guidelines to protect the environment.

There are many different woods that carry the FSC certification. You can find Hickory, Maple, Oak, Cherry, Birch, Walnut and even some exotic woods like Teak.

Just remember when finishing your new green wood floor to use green finishes and stains. Using finishes and stains that are full of chemicals will just defeat the whole purpose of using a green wood!

You’re probably thinking that bamboo should have been included in with the other woods. But, believe it or not, bamboo isn’t a wood, it’s a grass!

Bamboo is a highly renewable source for both flooring and furniture. It grows very fast, can regenerate without the need for replanting and needs very little fertilizers and pesticides.

There’s no official certification method for bamboo. The best way to make sure it’s earth friendly is to purchase it from a reputable dealer that knows where the bamboo came from.

Manufacturers often use formaldehyde as a binder when processing bamboo. So, make sure to check for low levels of this chemical when purchasing. It’s not healthy in the first place, but can cause complications for people with allergies or breathing problems.

It may suprise you to know that cork can be used for flooring! We’re all use to cork boards that are soft enough for push pins, but it is a great choice for flooring.

Cork has several benefits, it serves as a natural way to absorb sounds and feels warm on bare feet. Another great advantage is that insects and mold don’t like cork, so it’s really beneficial to anyone with allergies!

Cork is made from bark taken from a cork tree. The main green benefit is that removing the bark doesn’t kill the tree! Within 7 to 10 years the tree will naturally renew the bark. When purchasing cork flooring watch for an all natural product that don’t have a PVC backing.

Concrete use to be mainly for porches, patios or used under carpeting. But, more and more homeowners are using concrete flooring especially with modern style homes.

The drawbacks of using concrete are that it’s very hard and cold on bare feet especially during the winter months. Walking on concrete for extended periods of time is also known to cause back and foot pain.

However, if you’re planning on using natural stone which is hard and cold anyway, concrete can be a good substitute! Concrete is fairly inexpensive and can be finished in a variety of ways.

It’s easily painted and stained with products made for concrete. And, it can also be stamped with any pattern and scored to look like stones or tiles!

Green carpeting includes natural materials such as sea grass, sisal, jute, wool and even coconut husks! It can also be made from any kind of recycled materials.

Regular carpeting contains high amounts of chemicals such as stain resistors. Green carpets are naturally stain resistant and contain low amounts of chemicals. Just remember to check and make sure that the backing is “green” to and to use green padding products.

Vinyl flooring can emit harmful air pollutants during production, a green alternative is linoleum. Linoleum comes in a variety of natural materials such as limestone, tree rosin, cork, linseed and jute.

The use of these natural materials makes linoleum biodegradable and not toxic, unlike vinyl flooring. Linoleum will also provide you with many years of use. And, it comes in a wide variety of colors and designs.

Cleaning and Caring for Your Carpet the Green Way

Everyone loves the feel of clean carpet. But clean carpet requires regular cleaning and not all cleaning methods are green friendly. In fact, some of the chemicals used by professional carpet cleaners are very toxic and non-green. You want to minimize any chemical detergents, solvents, or cleansers as much as possible so that you can clean your carpet the green way. Let’s look at a few ways to do that:

Remember that what you are removing from your carpet can be hazardous. You might be using a home deep cleaning machine that uses hot tap water but it makes no difference if what you are removing out of your carpet is not green friendly. So this means that you should not dump the waste water from the cleaning process into the ground or down a storm drain. If you want to maintain a green carpet cleaning focus, give your public water treatment works utility a call and inquire where you can bring this waste water. It might mean taking the time to pour the waste water into plastic jugs but you will be doing the right thing for the environment.

Keep your carpet clean to begin with. That way there is less of a need to do a big job so often. People living in Asian countries really have a good idea by taking their shoes off before entering a house. It takes a little getting using to but in the long run you’ll be glad you did because you will rarely track anything in from outside.

Another way is to allow no eating or drinking in living areas except for special occasions. Other family members may not like this rule but it will significantly cut down the accidental spills. Plus, it is great for controlling pests like cockroaches. You will also need to get yourself a good vacuum cleaner and change the bag before it gets stuffed and begins blowing dust.

You might also consider using several inexpensive washable throw rugs to keep areas soil and stain free. You can use more throw rugs in heavy traffic areas. These will serve to protect the carpet. If you want to display your full carpet on special occasions, it is a matter of picking up the throw rugs.

Tap the power of vinegar and water. Distilled white vinegar is a versatile green stain removal and color restoration agent. Plus it is inexpensive. All you have to do is mix two tablespoons of distilled white vinegar and a quarter cup of baking soda into a paste and rub it into the carpet. When it dries, you just vacuum it up. Or, instead of a paste, you can take two thirds cup of water and one third cup of distilled white vinegar and blot the area with a sponge soaked with clean water. You can also mix one cup of vinegar with a gallon of water and use it in a home deep cleaning machine to bring out the color in your carpet. Make sure that you always test your solutions in an inconspicuous area before full use. And, never rub a stain—always blot.

Tips for Lowering Your Room Air Conditioner’s Energy Usage

Nobody likes to get their energy bill. Many times it is very high with all the things we use in out home that use energy. There are many things that you can do in order to conserve energy usage. One of the main things that you can do has to do with your air conditioner. There are a lot of things that are simple to do that will lower your energy usage, which will lower your energy bill. (more…)

Caring for Your Car the Green Way

One of the major contributors to the wasting away of our environment is the automobile. The best way to promote the green environment is to conscientiously change the way you maintain your vehicle. Here are a few tips on how to care for your car the green way:

Try to wash by only using a bucket. If you were to travel to other countries you would find that many take nothing but a bucket with light soapy water to wash the car and then another bucket of clear water to rinse. After the rinse, just polish and buff. This helps care for the green environment by not wasting water (you use only what you need) and no excessive dumping of harsh detergents down city drains.

Just give your car a quick wipe if that is all it needs. If all your car has is some spotting from rain or puddle splashing then all it should take is a quick wipe with a clean, damp, and soft rag. This helps care for the green environment by using very little water if any.

When you care for your car by waxing the exterior, it is much easier to clean. That way the water that accumulates overnight can just be wiped off quickly. No need to get the garden hose.

Change all filters at regular intervals. The important ones are the fuel and air filters. Proper maintenance and care of filters keeps your car running efficiently and helps the green environment by saving fuel.

Keep your car tuned up. Although newer cars do not need tune-ups quite as often as their predecessors, you still need to do it per the manufacturer’s specifications. Newer cars have computerized control systems and tune-ups are best done by a certified mechanic.

Buy re-treaded tires. If you buy re-treaded tires from a reputable company, you can get quality at a fraction of the price. It takes oil to make tires and you obviously help care for the green environment by re-using them. Re-treads are best if most of your driving is in the city. In other words, you don’t do a lot of high speed highway driving.

You don’t need to change oil every 3,000 miles. That oil change place you took the car to last time probably put a sticker on your windshield saying to come back in 3 months or 3,000 miles. Take a look at your car’s owner manual and you might see that the recommendation is to change oil every 5,000 miles. You save money plus you help care for the green environment by using less oil.

Use green oil. Petroleum-free oil products for your car’s engine are beginning to appear on the market. You might want to read a little on the product and get all the information you can before using it but it appears to hold promise for the green future.

Care for your tires by inflating to the correct levels. When your tire pressure drops too low, you may not notice it visually but you will feel it as harder steering. The low pressure makes it harder for your engine to move your car resulting in fuel waste. Plus, if tire pressure is too low, you will notice that the outer edges of the surface that touches the road begin to wear first. That abnormal wear can mean that you have to replace tires sooner causing waste and not helping care for the green environment.

Easy Ways to Go Green Around the House

For way too long we’ve used up the earth’s resources without really considering the consequences. Now, even major retailers like Wal-Mart are doing their part to create a green environment and help to reverse the effects of pollution and waste.

There are many things that you can do to promote a healthier world. Walk whenever you can, participate in car pooling and recycling are just a few of the ways you can help.

Save on Water

Using a dishwasher actually uses about 35% less water than washing dishes by hand. And, if you skip the drying cycle and let the dishes air dry you’ll use about 15% less electricity.

But, always make sure that the dishwasher has a full load before running it. Although a dishwasher saves on water, running several half loads per day will end up wasting more than it saves.

If you have a lot of plants indoors or out, catch some rain water whenever possible. Not only will you save a little more on water, you’re plants will love it!

You can also save up to %30 a month on your water bill just by installing the spray aerators. All you do is unscrew the old one and attach the new one, it will create a shower like spray in your sinks!

Adjusting the ballcock on your toilet will make a difference to. You can usually just twist them a little so that the tank won’t have to get as full before the water shuts off. Another trick is to fill some plastic pop bottles with water and just sit them inside the toilet tank.

The popularity of bottled water is another huge problem. Not only are people paying four and five times the price for bottled water as opposed to tap water, plastic bottles are not bio degradable.

Adding a water filter to your faucet or under you sink will save you tons of money and give you great tasting water. Neither types of filters are hard to install and depending on how much bottled water you buy, the filter may pay for itself within the first month or so.

Limit your bubble baths! Filling the tub takes a lot more water than running the shower long enough to bathe. You can also purchase a water saving shower head to save even more!

Save on Electricity

Changing the filter in your furnace and air conditioning units can save save at least $50 per year on electricity. And, you can save at least another $30 or $40 just by insulating your water heater and keeping the temperature at 120 degress.

Using a higher wattage light bulb can also save on your electric bill! A 100 watt light bulb uses about 17% less electricity than two 60 watt bulbs do! Plus with the 100 watt you’ll have more light!

Close to 90% of the electricity used when you wash a load of clothes is from heating the water! Wash clothes in cold water as often as possible, you can find detergents made especially for cold water and they will still get your clothes nice and clean.

Line dry clothes when the weather is pretty! You’ll save on the electricity from the clothes dryer and also help keep your air conditioning from working over time to combat the heat of the dryer! And, line drying saves on the wear on your clothes and linens plus gives them a wonderful fresh smell!

Switching to flourescent bulbs will result in about a 75% savings over using regular light bulbs. Once up on a time, to use flourescent lighting you had to have the big bulky fixtures. But, now you can buy florescent lights that fit your regular lamps.

It may surprise you to know that your appliances and electronics still use electricity even if they’re turned off! It’s referred to as phantom load. Even though you’ve turned something off electricity continues to “leak” and can add up to as much as 75% of the home energy consumption!

Go Green and Repair Sources of Water Waste

If you have an old home, more than likely it is a leaky home causing water waste. It does not help the green environmental goals. Plus, it can get expensive on the wallet. There are obvious potential leak points in your home and those not so obvious. But you want to be aware of them and repair them as quickly as possible so as to avoid water waste and help your home go green.

In an older home not built for green, there is more than likely much water waste occurring behind the walls. The most common place for waste to occur is around the bathroom which makes sense because they are fed so much water. Many times there is an access panel located on the other side of the bathroom or shower that will expose the water feed pipes. More than likely, these feed pipes are made of copper which has a tendency to corrode indicated by a green color and tiny pinhole leaks. It will have to be replaced.

It takes a little patience to solder copper piping. You’ll need to purchase a propane soldering torch, copper pipe cutter, copper piping, joints, tees, and elbows (depends on your pipe arrangement). You will first cut out the leaking section and replace with a new copper pipe section. Use the joints, tees, or elbows as necessary.

To solder the joint, coat the surfaces with flux and then super heat the joint once you have inserted the replacement. Place the solder on the superheated joint and the heat/flux should suck it in creating a good seal. There cannot be any water running inside of the copper pipes or else they will not get hot enough.

In older houses not built for green, a problem often exists where even though the water main is shut off there is still slow seepage into the line. The solution to this is to stuff some regular white bread into the pipe to stop the slow water flow. Solder in your replacement pipe and when you turn the water main back on, the bread will dissolve. Plus the bread is biodegradable keeping in line with your green goal. Also help the goal of going green by taking the old copper piping to the metal recyclers.

Go green and find those underground leaks. There are two good signs that you have an underground water leak between the main city water meter and the house. You’ll hear a constant sound of water running and your water bill will spike extremely high all of the sudden. It can be an incredible waste. Leak detecting cameras are not always 100% successful in finding the wasteful leak point. You can save a lot of money by just trenching the area where the line is yourself until the leak is revealed.

Then there is the problem of freezing. Some older homes not built for green have additions where the builder might have been the homeowner at the time and did not bury a water line or junction to a hose bibb deep enough resulting in it bursting and incredible waste each year during a hard freeze. This is simple to fix. Just get one of the frost-free hose bibbs, dig up the area where it leads to the water feed, and install the new hose bib. While you are at it, wrap some pipe insulation that you can find at any home store. Then, cover the area with dirt (assuming the bibb is going into the ground).

Go Green and Save Energy with a Heated Floor

You can make your old drafty home go green and save on heating costs by installing a radiant heated floor. This is basically a floor with heated water tubing running underneath keeping the entire floor at a comfortable temperature level. The advantage is that the heat is evenly-distributed and boiler temperatures can actually be set at lower levels. This saves not only energy but reduces the stress on your boiler. Any time you save energy you make your home go green helping the environment but not at the expense of comfort. Let’s look at a typical installation of a radiant heated floor:

Make sure you start with a hard flat surface. The best way to start the installation of your floor is to expose the concrete foundation. You will need to remove carpet on the old flooring. If the old flooring is tile or some other hard surface, it will probably be okay to install the heated floor system over it without removing. This way you minimize the amount of old flooring that needs to be torn out thus reducing waste. It is in the spirit of green to re-use whatever you can.

Lay out the rubber tubing on the flat surface. The rubber tubing is the conduit to carry the heated water. You want to lay it out like a sine wave for the greatest coverage on the floor. It is the maximizing coverage that will reduce your heating costs and help your home go green.

Build the wooden frame for your heated floor using two-inch by four-inch lumber. The wooden frame is built so that a plywood raised floor can be installed over the rubber tubing. Using 2x4s should allow one to one and a half inches between the top of the rubber tubing and the suspended floor. You want to allow this space so that when people walk on the floor it does not but pressure on the tubing.

Install and test the boiler unit. You will have to follow the manufacturer’s instructions on this part of the installation as there are different models of heated floor boilers. Check the manufacturer’s specifications to make sure the boiler is energy-efficient and contributes to your home going green.

Fill space underneath the suspended floor with sand. Before mounting the suspended plywood sheet, fill all space between the tubing and the frame with sand. Sand is an inexpensive heat conductor and the effect is that the heat from the tubing will get absorbed by the sand and spread out evenly across the floor. If you don’t want to use sand, you can also use aluminum sheeting as it will spread the heat evenly too.

Lay your flooring on the suspended plywood. You can now install tile or hardwood over your heated floor. You can also install carpet if you like however you need to install carpet that is not too resistant to heat. This has to do with what is known as the R-value of the carpet. When a carpet has a high R-value it means it has a high degree of insulation. If you lay carpet with a high R-value on the heated floor then it is shielding the inside of the house from the external heat source. You will have to run the boiler at hotter temperatures which defeats the goal of going green for your home. If you lay carpet, it should have an R-value of between 2.0 and 4.0. Of course, at the lower end of the spectrum would be the best.