Attack of the Vampires and Hogs

I was surprised to find out how much of my energy bill was going toward things that were plugged in but not being used, or for things like digital picture frames and other electronics. Some estimate that this can amount up to 4% of typical household power usage.

Unplugging these devices would reduce pollution from power plants. If every house in the US had a digital picture frame on all the time, it would take five power plants to run them. That’s a lot of needless pollution for us and future generations.

Let’s take an average power bill of $150 for a month. $150 x 4% = $6 x 12 months  = $72 per year going toward things that are just left plugged in and not being used.

How about unplugging and diverting that money into your local economy (which creates jobs) on energy-efficient lighting, which would create even more savings and less pollution?

Read More: http://finance.yahoo.com/family-home/article/112010/surprising-home-energy-hogs

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Sustainable Planet: The Restoration of Humanity and Nature

I was handed an interesting flyer with the following information regarding steps that can be taken in moving toward sustainability:

James Cameron who produced Avatar said recently on Charlie Rose PBS that we must get rid of our denial over climate change and deal with our precarious environmental challenges. We can make a graceful transition or a disaster recovery. We each have a responsibility to create new civil right paradigms. Ecological minded model steps WILL make the world a better place to live. The truth is China and India’s 2.5 billion compared to our 300 million consuming toxic products linearly like us we would need three earths. By China and India using oil for cars, we could see stress over oil with China. We need 10% to make a significant CHANGE. Change your heart. “Make That Change” not one big revolution, but a continuous stream of small changes in a consistent direction.

1. We add 100 million net humans a year causing more immigration, poverty which does not care about boundaries, crime, urban sprawl a machine for burning energy, over crowded schools, no backyards for children to play or open space for nature’s connections. We need better reproductive health services. Consider 1-2 kids only. Smaller families help the environment, society, economy, and shared prosperity. WE need to restructure our economic, cultural, and religious institutions.

2. Stop supporting urban sprawl which has destroyed inner cities and support green smart cities. Every year in the USA, we loose 1 million acres of prime farm land from urban sprawl plus increases taxes. We loose habitats for plant and animal species, farms, and our spiritual souls and identity. Live closer in town close to light rail, or high speed monorails. Such living provides more time for family, saves 1/10 energy and car maintenance (17%) – less oil needs.

3. Reverse WARS DUE TO OIL, POLLUTION (oil spills), and CLIMATE CHANGE. Buy an American made quick charge electric battery plug in hybrid using charge stations at home or businesses. Someday use hydrogen from water or algae creating power, or cars with nano-fuel cells or exciting cold fusion batteries. We can use geothermal, new solar, wind, or nuclear using waste materials.

4. Start an organic garden on porch, roof, front or back yard, and plant fruit trees around your home. Abolish using fertilizers and pesticides which pollute our waterways, causing cancer, fish diseases and dead zones in our oceans. Part of health insurance is to eat healthier food at home for our children and eliminate eating out fast food constantly which causes obesity, diabetes, heart problems and health costs. Influence your school to stop serving junk food, teach nutrition, stress relief and physical exercises. Create Green Schools. Read “In Defense Of Food” by Michael Pollan. Watch PBS TV. Schools: start organic gardens while teaching cooking and better eating habits. Rent the movie Food Inc.

5. Start recycling, reduce, and reuse products made from post-consumer recycled materials. Use string or cloth bags and refillable stainless steel water bottles when shopping versus oil-made plastic bags and water bottles etc. that litter our land and oceans. Avoid wasteful packaging.

6. Buy energy efficient LED lighting. LED lights reduce energy by another 90% over CFL’s.

7. Let’s reduce income taxes, replace with taxes on resource pollution and tax breaks if you do not.

8. Use low flow shower heads and faucets which saves on your utility costs, uses less water, and energy. Do larger loads of laundry and use clothes line versus a dryer whenever possible. Weatherize your home or business. Use cloth rags & cloth napkins. Cut down using drive through restaurants.

9. If you invest, think green stocks. Insist public paid elections.

10. Cut back on meat consumption. Too much meat is proven to help cause colon cancer, obesity and is destroying tens of thousands of square kilometers of rainforests and tremendous loss of habitats and species (that could be future medical cures) due to more cattle ranches and soybean farms for feel stocks. Now, China is the #1 buyer of such commodities. A 20% drop in meat consumption is equal to all drivers in America driving a hybrid car. Shop at health, green stores, or www.ecomall.com . Watch sustainability videos on www.TED.com .

11. Churches and the media: begin educating the public how to live environmentally and be better stewards of our creation. Read “For theCommon Good” by Herman Daly. Save at local banks or banks that gives loans to Green trades. Shop local, at locally owned businesses & buy products made in America.

12. Use non-toxic cleaning products and aromatherapy cosmetic and hygiene products which can help decrease cancer and asthma, which is increasing tremendously due to using to many chemicals.

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Wattage Cost Calculator

Calculator (created with Excel 2003) based on average residential electric rates from a power provider in the metro Phoenix Area which has 4 different rates throughout the year. The winter rates are lowest and the summer rates are highest. The seasonal rates are averaged for annual cost.

Simply insert the wattage of a light bulb or any other fixture (heater, oven, dryer, etc.) and it will formulate the cost per hour, per day and per year. Very useful when trying to figure out where all the dollars are going and how to keep more dollars in your pocket!

WATTAGE COST CALCULATOR

Keep in mind that less wattage used (like 13 watt CFL’s, 8 watt LED’s or using the microwave or barbeque instead of the oven) also keeps the house cooler, and the air conditioner won’t need to work as hard to keep the house cool in the summer!

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I’m a Superhero!

What does it take to be a Superhero?  Well first, you need the right gear such as a custom cape, some cool shades, fancy tights, and of course, the right shoes. The gear is the easy part. It’s that Superhero Power that proves more challenging. The great part is that the Power is within you! The Power is knowledge and having the courage to do something with it.

You can be a Superhero for future generations if you are up to the challenge of making a difference. This is the wake-up call to the Superhero within all of us.  This is a moment of realization that maybe there is something to this eco-stuff and Sustainability is the key to unlocking change.

Show me the money! Or… Show YOU the money! You have the power to reduce your utility costs (power, water, natural gas, etc.) and put money back in your pocket. With this newfound spending power, a balanced lifestyle for you and your family can be achieved. Can you imagine the money saved by cutting your utility costs in half?  This is being done right now and you can do it too.

What would happen if everyone in your community decided to cut their utility bills in half?  We did the math and for just the Metro Phoenix area, it means billions of dollars placed back into the local economy, which brings significant economic benefit to your community.

This reduced demand for energy also means fewer wasted tax dollars on polluting energy sources and also helps keep Arizona beautiful and healthy for you and your family. This simple choice allows our natural resources to be enjoyed and preserved for future generations to enjoy.

A group of people with a passion to inspire and enlighten people about the many benefits of a sustainable community decided to create an organization called Sustainable Communities AZ. SCAZ will organize events throughout the year to bring more public awareness leading up to an annual conference and expo to be held in the fall.

Sustainable Communities AZ is for people that would like a better understanding of what sustainability is, or would like to know how to put it to work for their benefit. But SCAZ is also for individuals who are already on a sustainable journey that want to learn more or participate.

SCAZ is a unique grass roots approach for entire community involvement in sustainability as opposed to a top down approach that says “we’re going green”. Our vision is to organize various Sustainable Communities groups throughout the state of Arizona as well as the throughout the U.S. To work with the general public, government, universities and professionals, in creating the vision of sustainable redevelopment and rethinking the urban fabric of Arizona and the Nation.

Our goal is to inform people that our communities are capable of making a real change and that they can apply these practices into their everyday “Superhero” lives for their own benefit, which will create economic growth with long term benefits for Arizona.

This fall is the targeted time of year for the Friday/Saturday Sustainable Communities AZ Conference & Expo. There will also be an independent “second annual” Green Golf Charity Tournament planned and managed by 4 Green Golf, which will be held on Saturday concurrent with the SCAZ Conference & Expo. There will be fundraisers held throughout the year as well as opportunities for sponsorships and donations.

There are currently eight Committee Members: Jan Green, United States Green Building Council’s (USGBC), Arizona Chapter, Residential Green Building Committee (RGBC); Kathy Fenner, USGBC-RGBC, CSBA; Sharon Merrill, USGBC-RGBC; Bill Clay, Bill Clay Design Studio LLC; Bob Wikes, Fore Green Golf; Byron Bargas, Green Technique; Jeff Frost, aka Green, SmithGroup; and Stanford Lake, Hogan Structure. Please join our LinkedIn group @ Sustainable Communities AZ and if you would like to join the committee, please contact Jan Green, Bill Clay or Byron Bargas via the LinkedIn group for additional information.

Sustainable Communities AZ Conference & Expo will be exciting and informative, and has the potential to grow to a national level. It is never too late to learn about sustainability and put that knowledge and power into action. You can be a Superhero for your community by saving money, creating jobs, and creating a more sustainable and healthier environment for you and your family.

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Hot Roofs

Painting a structure a lighter color at walls that face the rising & setting sun in the summer, and using a darker color at walls that face the rising & setting sun in the winter, will help to protect from and will help in taking advantage of the free and natural solar heat radiation.

Roofs should be a lighter color in warmer climates in order to increase its albedo or the amount of the sun’s heat radiation being reflected. This will cut down on the amount of heat being transferred through the roof structure to the living or occupied space and reduce interior air conditioning energy costs.

If is is an existing darker roof, it might cost less and be easier to install more insulation above the ceiling, and properly ventilate the attic to allow the heat to escape. Or you could use a proper white coating over your existing roofing material. It is critical to confirm compatibility of the coating and application technique with the existing roofing material. Many cities encourage cool or white roofs. However, you might have neighborhood restrictions that would prohibit changing the color of your roof.

Another important thing to consider is shade as a very affective solution to keeping a building’s exterior temperatures to a minimum.

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Grow Money In Your Garden

Gardens are a great way to save money and growing your own vegetables can be a great experience. Besides being chemical-free, homegrown vegetables just taste better.

You can grow a wide variety of vegetables throughout the year in Arizona, such as tomatoes in the summer and romaine lettuce for fall/winter. Follow this web link on How To Plant Vegetables In Arizona for additional information on various crops that grow in Arizona.

EnergySoil is a 100% Natural Organic plant growing medium made from coconut husks and it has many good qualities. Homemade compost is an option to consider. Here’s a link on how to build a raised garden box.

Native Seeds comes to mind as a great source for seed varieties that have been proven to perform in the Arizona and the desert southwest climate. They have a large farm in southern Arizona where they grow seeds for distribution and preservation. While not certified organic, they minimize chemical use.

If you’re a carbon footprint watcher, growing a portion of your food or buying from a local grower greatly reduces the amount of energy tied up in the food you consume. Buying locally also improves your local economy.

Life’s a Garden comes to mind as an experienced company that can provide a full range of garden design and installation services. Growing your own vegetables with captured rain water and homemade compost and you’ve got a recipe for sustainability.

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The Story of Stuff

Resources and how we use them explained through this YouTube video series by Free Range Studios.

Where does stuff start from?

Synthetic & other chemicals in every day stuff.

Externalized Costs – keeps costs down – or does it? What’s the real cost of stuff?

Consumption of stuff is the heart of the system.

There is another way! Let’s create something new.

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Save Money Now

No cost list of money saving ideas.

Once you’ve diverted you money from going to the utility companies and keeping it in your pocket, you create options and opportunities in directing where that money is to be spent. When it is spent locally, you help your local economy, you create a demand for more products or services, which creates jobs from production, to transportation, to the retail market.

Another important benefit to saving money by reducing your utility costs, is that you are also creating a healthier environment for you and your family & friends. If we use less power, it lowers power demand from the utility company, which in turn reduces the amount of pollution going into the air.

Are you ready to get started? Here is a no-cost list to start saving money.

1. Turn off the lights when you’re not in the room.
2. Keep the exterior doors closed. The longer they stay open, the more energy required to heat or cool.
3. Take advantage of natural lighting instead of using lights when it’s possible.
4. Lower the temperature of your water heater to 115° F.
5. Take faster showers, thereby saving energy to create more hot water.
6. Shut the water off to lather up in the shower.
7. Use cold wash when appropriate and do full loads of laundry, cutting down on the number of loads.
8. Hang clothes to dry.
9. Place a plastic bottle full of sand, capped, in old style toilets that use 3 to 6 gallons of water per flush. Save water each time you flush.
10. Use a power strip to plug your electronics into, then turn off the power strip when not in use to eliminate “energy monsters”.
11. Raise the temperature setting on air conditioning in the summer and use a fan for comfort.
12. Lower the temperature setting on heating in the winter and wear a sweater for comfort.
13. Block drafts at windows and doors to keep conditioned air inside.
14. Turn computers and monitors off when not in use.
15. Walk instead of drive when appropriate to do so.
16. Reuse what you can such as containers before tossing in the trash or recycle bin.
17. Use natural cleaners such as white vinegar or baking soda where appropriate.
18. (To be continued)

We are looking forward to your no-cost ideas that can help to save money.

Please peruse through the different  post on this blog site to find out other ways you can save money.

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Going Green: A Few Easy Tips

We are all different shades of green. Here are a few easy tips to put into practice in making a positive change toward sustainability.

There is power in numbers when we make small changes. For example, “If everyone in the country elected to buy one package of 100% recycled napkins instead of the non-recycled variety, that act alone would save 0ne million trees.” – Jennifer Powers, spokeswoman for the Natural Resources Defense Council. There are other simple things we can do to save even more trees.

There are other sustainable things we can do that can save money now and they don’t cost anything.

We can do things now, moving us toward sustainability & together we can make a big difference.

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Bags of a Different Kind

We’ve all seen the reusable non-woven polypropylene or NWPP bags at the grocery stores. On the positive side, they can be reused and they’ve lowered the demand for paper from trees and throw-away plastic grocery bags. However, they are made of plastic, which eventually ends up in our landfills and pollutes our environment for a long time. Here is more information from eco-handbag on the subject of plastic pollution .

Reusable canvas grocery bags are made of natural, biodegradable, renewable cotton.

There are other types of bags made from other natural or recycled materials such as Jute, Leather, Recycled Plastic, Recycled Rubber, etc.

Cotton is a natural, biodegradable and rapidly renewable resource. In contrast, the major synthetic chemical fibers use petroleum as a base, which is non-renewable and, therefore, not sustainable.

The U.S. cotton industry actively supports the three long-term goals of sustainability: environment, economics and quality of life. Visit Cotton USA for more information.

There are a variety of reusable produce bags & bread bags available on the market today and some are made from plastic mesh and better yet, from cotton. The plastic mesh bags keep vegetables fresh longer. One of the companies that makes these bags is ECOBAGS. What other uses can you think of for reusable natural biodegradable bags?

There are also thin fabric designer shopping bags with handles that take up very little space when tucked away, but there when you need them at a moments notice.

What if stores across America started a “phase out grocery & shopping bags” program announcing that they will no longer be providing bags in a few month’s time, and everyone purchased reusable bags? Just think how many trees would be saved and the reduction of both oil demand and plastic in the environment!!! Currently, some stores give a discount to patrons that bring their own bags.

Update from San Jose Business Journal. American cities that have bans, some restrictions or charge fees for single-use carryout plastic bags include Palo Alto, San Francisco, Malibu, Edmonds, Wash., Washington D.C. and Westport, Conn. Nations that have bans, restrictions and/or fees include Ireland, Belgium, Germany, The Netherlands, Italy, Israel and China.

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