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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.

You Can Fix an Overflowing Dishwasher

A dishwasher can surely save you lot’s of time in the kitchen, but if it’s constantly overflowing, it can make lot’s more work for you to do. And, it can also damage your floor covering and if left un-repaired, it will eventually cause your flooring structure to rot.

There are several things that can cause a dishwasher to fill up with too much water and overflow onto the floor. The most common cause is the float switch, they can sometimes just suddenly start sticking. Another problem could be the electrical that starts and stops the water running into the dishwasher.

Since the float switch is the most common culprit, check it before checking the switch. The float switch is generally a cylinder shaped plastic piece that is usually on one side of the front of the dishwasher, it could also be toward the middle near where the sprayer is.

There may or may not be a protective cap over the float switch on the model of dishwasher that you have. If there is remove the screws and take the cover off so that you can get to the float switch. The switch should easily move up and down without any resistance. If it sticks, check to see if there is any debris like food particles or soap accumulated on the switch.

If the switch isn’t moving freely take it off, the float switch should just easily slide off of the shaft. Use a bottle brush to scrub the inside of the switch to remove anything that you can see. Then clean the outside of the switch with a brush.

Slide the float switch back onto the shaft and check it to see if it moves up and down more freely. Test the dishwasher to see if it still overflows by doing a load of dishes. If it does, then you probably need to just replace the float switch.

Before working with anything electrical or anything that has running water, make sure that you turn both off at the source. If you can’t get to the plug for your dishwasher to unplug it from the outlet, go to the breaker box and turn the breaker off. Try to start the washer to make sure that there’s no power running to it before attempting any repairs.

If you do need to replace the float switch, you’ll need to remove the panel on the front bottom of the dishwasher. Some panels just snap on to hooks and some are attached with screws. Once you get the panel off, find the float switch.

You’ll need to remove the wires that are attached to switch. Make sure to wrap a piece of masking tape around each wire and mark it so you’ll know the correct place to re-attach the wire. You can easily remove the wires with a pair of needle nosed pliers.

Depending on the type of screws that your model has, you’ll either need a socket and nut driver, or just an ordinary screwdriver to remove the old switch. If you’ve not already purchased a new float switch, take the old one with you to compare and make sure that you get the correct one.

To install the new switch, you just follow the same steps in reverse order. Once you’ve gotten the new switch in place and re-attached the wiring, put the service panel back on the front of the dishwasher. Plug it back in or turn the breaker back on and run the washer to make sure it’s not still overflowing.

How To Unclog an Ice Maker

It’s really convenient to have a ice maker built into your refrigerator. No more filling ice trays, spilling water on the floor and freezer bottom and you usually won’t run out of ice with an automatic ice maker. Ice makers are generally maintenance free, but now and then they might get clogged.

If you’re ice cubes are suddenly much smaller or hollow, then it’s a good sign that your water line has gotten clogged. But, it could also be a sign that the thermostat isn’t working properly or that you have a faulty, or clogged inlet valve.

You’ll probably never have a clog if your refrigerator has a water filter built in or even added to the water supply line. But, if you didn’t install a water filter, there are often lot’s of particles in tap water that will eventually cause a clog.

The first thing you should check is the water supply line. Both metal lines or rubber lines can get kinks or crimps in them. This especially could be the problem if you’ve recently moved your refrigerator to clean behind it or for some other reason.

Just follow the water supply line from where it starts all the way to where it connects into the refrigerator and make sure there’s not a problem. While you can easily move a rubber line to get kinks out of it, metal lines aren’t so easy to deal with.

Trying to bend a metal line back into place can easily cause them to break. Make sure that you turn the water off before trying to repair a metal line. Use some pliers and gently squeeze the line to try to remove as much of the crimp as possible. If it’s too bad, you’re better off just replacing it before it breaks and leaks all over your kitchen.

To check you inlet valve, turn the water off to the refrigerator and pull it away from the wall far enough to get behind it. There’s an access panel at the back of the refrigerator that you need to remove. It will either take a regular screwdriver, or a socket and nut driver.

The inlet valve is where your water supply line attaches to the water line inside your refrigerator. With an adjustable wrench, disconnect the lines and remove the fitting. There will be a clamp that you’ll need to compress and slide out of the way to remove the water hose line.

You will also see two wires connected to the inlet valve. Wrap a piece of masking tape or some other tape around the wires and mark them so you’ll know where to hook them back up. Use needle nose pliers to remover the wires from the valve body.

Most inlet valves are attached to the refrigerator with screws, if yours is fastened to the refrigerator, remove the screws and take it loose. There will be some bolts, usually four that hold the fitting to the inlet valve.

When you remove the fitting you should be able to see the filter screen underneath it. You can use the tip of a knife or a small screwdriver to pry the screen out, be careful not to damage it unless you intend to replace it with a new one.

You can flush most of the clog out of the screen with running water and use an old toothbrush to loosen any debris that might be stuck. If there are any holes or any damage at all to the screen you really should replace it. Holes will allow large particles to flow into the ice maker itself and can damage it.

Once you’ve gotten the screen cleaned or replaced, you’re ready to put the inlet valve back together. Just follow the same steps in reverse that you did to take it off. When you’ve got it back on the refrigerator you can turn the water back on and plug the refrigerator back in.

Just notice the ice make to see if it’s making solid ice and making the ice the right size again. If it’s not then you might have a problem with the thermostat or the inlet valve itself might be bad.

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.

How To Install a Digital or Manual Thermostat

Installing a new digital thermostat in your home can help you conserve energy and help protect the environment. But, it can also save you lot’s of money on your monthly heating and cooling bills. With today’s constantly rising costs of everything, saving money any place that you can only makes sense.

Replacing your old thermostat with a digital one can save you as much as 30 to 35 per cent on your utility bill annually. That can add up to a savings of over one third of what you’re paying out on your monthly bill. It’s a way of benefiting the environment while at the same time benefiting yourself.

Besides all of the money that you’ll save and the gases you’ll prevent from escaping into the air, digital thermostats have big benefits over the old manual type. The timing feature is one of the main benefits of using this type of thermostat.

With a digital thermostat you can set it to different settings around the clock. You can use the settings to turn the heating or cooling system off when no one is home. And, have it kick on by itself half an hour before you get home to have your house comfortable and ready for you.

You can set the thermostat to automatically go to a lower temperature an hour after everyone is cozy and warm in bed. And, have it raise before you get up to have the whole house toasty warm. The ability to choose when you need your home warmer or cooler and not even be there to turn the thermostat up or down yourself is a huge convenience.

Almost anyone can install a digital thermostat and you don’t even need any complicated tools. A screwdriver, drill, masking tape, level and a pair of wire strippers or a sharp knife is all that you need to get the job done.

Make sure that you throw the breaker into the off position before attempting to do any type of work involving electricity. There are several wires in different colors and there won’t be any confusion when hooking them up to the new thermostat if you mark them. Use small pieces of the masking tape to wrap around each wire and mark the letter or number on the tape that is next to the screw.

Remove the faceplate on your old thermostat, loosen the screws and pull it away from the wall so that you can get to the wires. Mark all of the wires with masking tape, loosen the screws that hold the wires in place and remove the wires.

The screw holes may not be the same on the new thermostat. If they’re not then you’ll need to make new ones. Hold the thermostat on the wall and use the level to make sure that it’s completely level. Use a pencil or pen to mark the spot where the new screws need to go.

Take the face plate off of the new thermostat and pull all of the wires through the back of the plate. Now, you can attach the new thermostat to the wall with the screws. Make sure that you use the level to re-check the accuracy of the thermostat.

Both old and new thermostats are very sensitive and need to be perfectly level to function properly. If it’s not level, you may need to re-do the screw holes to line it up. When it’s level go ahead and insert the screws and attach it to the wall. Be careful to not let any of the wires fall inside the wall, or let any of them get caught behind the thermostat.

Check all of the wires and make sure that there’s not any crimped or corroded spots along the wire. The wires should already be stripped, but if they’re not, strip at least 3/4 inch of the outer coating off of the wire. If you get lucky the numbers or letters that you marked on the wires will line up with the ones on the new thermostat.

If not, just closely follow the manufacturers instructions that came with the new thermostat. Normally if letters are used, the “Y” will mean the yellow wire, the “R” will be for the red wire and the “G” will of course, be for the green wire.

Once you’ve gotten the wires attached you’re ready to reattach the faceplate to the thermostat body. Almost all models of digital thermostats require a battery to work, there is usually one included in the package. Install the battery and turn the electricity back on.

Now all that’s left to do is to set the time on the thermostat, set your desired temperature and choose the program cycle that you want to use. Digital thermostats are generally inexpensive and can usually pay for themselves on your first utility bill!

The steps to installing a regular, manual thermostat are exactly the same and even replacing an old thermostat with a new more efficient one can still help you save energy. But, with the many advantages of digital ones, there’s really no need in having to adjust the temperature manually all the time!