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Posts Tagged: eco friendly

5 Great Ways to Celebrate Earth Day in Seattle

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Earth day comes once a year, and while we can do something every day to improve the environment and live sustainable, this day is a great reminder to plan our contributions.

Here are five great ways to celebrate earth day in Seattle.

1. Schools are a great place to celebrate Earth Day.

All around the world schools are planning educational programs in sustainability for that day. In the US, EarthDay.org is sponsoring a green schools campaign improving the facilities, food, even the schoolyards themselves. The Earthday.org website is the official location for all things Earth Day. Educators can log in to get involved. They’ve tracked over a billion “acts of green” and you can get in the action locally.

kids

2. Don’t be idle-ing.

We’re not talking about vegging out on the couch watching TV, we mean idling your car. If you are going to be waiting more than a minute, turn it off. Contrary to the old urban legends, restarting the car does not burn more fuel than leaving it idling. In fact idling for 10 seconds wastes more gas than restarting the engine! And for every 10 minutes your engine is off, you will prevent one pound of carbon dioxide from being released. Every year, idling cars and trucks product over 130,000 tons of carbon dioxide. This green action is easy… kick the idling habit.

cars idling

3. Clean the air in your home, starting with the basement.

Even with the windows closed, air does flow through your house, coming from the unconditioned spaces, such as attic or basement, into your conditioned space where you live. This air can bring in contaminants such as molds, bacteria, and allergens, and also chemical compounds (VOC’s) from paint cans, weed killers, and other things stored there. While the true way to improve air quality is to air seal your home, one step in the right direction is getting rid of unused products to reduce those compounds. A nice Earth Day clean-up of the basement could include donating those extra cans of paint and chemicals, or store them in a detached garage, away from the main part of your house. (Always observe temperature storage instructions on products).

basement

4. Watch the water.

Water is a precious resource and while we have had a lot of rain lately, we see how the rest of the Western US is suffering. A plumbing inspection can pinpoint potential water leaks in your home, which avoids problems later, reduces your water bill and saves resources.

water leak

5. Check out local news for a list of Seattle area earth day events to participate in or contact your local park.

Most of the larger parks have activities going on, so don’t be afraid to get out there!

 

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Which Energy Upgrades Qualify for Utility Rebates?

Posted On: Filed Under: Heating, Cooling, How to, Tips to save money, Home improvement, Rebates No Comments on Which Energy Upgrades Qualify for Utility Rebates?

There are significant incentives provided by our local utilities to help us make saving energy a priority. Many product categories have utility rebates available, and each utility has slightly different offers. The primary emphasis is on saving electricity. Additional goals include efficient use of natural gas or water through high efficiency equipment.

While the majority of Washington’s electricity is from clean hydroelectric sources, our state wants to conserve its use so that we can grow without burning more coal or adding more power plants, (plus let’s be real, they sell some to other states). Electricity savings come from, for example, installation of solar panels or efficient heat pumps, conversion from electric heating to natural gas, and LED light bulbs.

Alongside direct energy savings from appliances is a goal of improved home performance, meaning roughly that our homes are sealed and insulated to retain the heating and cooling we put into them. That’s where windows and insulation earn their rebates.

For more information or to schedule your rebate qualified upgrade, contact Washington Energy Services.

 

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How are our green habits?

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Green Habit Infographic

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Teaching kids to be energy savers too

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Sharing a great resource

Kids can be energy superheroes. It doesn’t only happen in the movies; your little ones can help save a big world challenge one house, backyard, school or community at a time.

When we started to research an article on teaching children about energy saving, we discovered Energy Star Kids (the kids’ website from Energystar.gov, Department of Energy). We were so impressed by this site we thought we’d stop writing and just share the link with you.

It’s an easy-to-use and interactive site, with games, education and ideas for how kids can contribute, along with fun facts that might surprise adults too. There is also a great link for parents and teachers to get lesson plans and activity books. Perfect for Earth Day!

Click the image below to find out more!

 

If the link does not work paste this into your browser: http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=kids.kids_index

Washington Energy Services provides EnergyStar products and conducts Home Performance with Energy Star home energy audits. Call 800-398-4663 for more information.

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How green is a Seattleite?

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How green is a seattleite infographic?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How green is a Seattleite? – An infographic by the Green Team at How green is A Seattleite?

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Green resolutions your house can keep in 2014

Posted On: Filed Under: Home energy audit 2 Comments on Green resolutions your house can keep in 2014

 

As we have mentioned in previous articles, our homes are an important part of the eco-system in the Pacific Northwest. They produce carbon dioxide, use fuel and create waste. When it comes to easy ways to improve your carbon footprint, there is no place like home.

So our top ways to achieve your Green Resolutions in 2014 are home related:

1. Get a comprehensive home energy audit and consider energy saving upgrades.

home-audit-collage

2. Switch heating fuel from expensive oil and propane to cleaner natural gas or renewable electricity.

3. Replace your CFL bulbs with LED bulbs that don’t contain mercury and won’t adversely affect your health with excess UV rays when their coatings crack.

4. Conserve water. The world supply of fresh water is declining. There are many things you can do from using rainwater barrels for plant watering systems to planting hardier, native grass that needs less water in summer, to installing a low flow toilet. Plumbing can be very green.

dreamstime_xxl_6491716

The question that our Home Energy Specialists often get is, where do I start?

Over the past two years we have implemented a home energy audit division at Washington Energy Services, and it has transformed how we think about your home. Having a home energy audit is a great place to start, because it is starting with science.

Taking ‘the home as a system’ approach, our BPI certified home auditors conduct a thorough (3 hour) inspection including comfort issues, air quality, equipment performance and safety. Unlike a do it yourself audit, this involves specialized equipment that can pinpoint the source of your discomfort and energy loss. After the audit, you will receive a detailed report, highlighting all findings but establishing priorities for comfort and energy saving. This process and report alone can begin your journey toward greener living.

We hope these 4 ideas for greener living inspire you. To learn more about home energy audits, contact us online or at 800-398-4663.

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5 easy green holiday ideas

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1. Buy locally made presents.

Not only do you get to support your neighbor’s business but things that are made locally don’t have to be transported from the other side of the world. Less transportation equals less carbon emissions.

2. There are several Christmas tree options that are greener than cutting one down.

Getting a tree with a root ball that you can replant is more common now than in past years, and many garden centers will have them. Just replant it when you are done, and it will clean carbon dioxide from the air for many years to come. And if you can’t fit it into your yard, some stores, such as Swanson’s Nursery in Shoreline, work with organizations who have sites for replanting.

Or for a little more radical approach, combine having a lit tree with lighting your home exterior to save energy. Just decorate a tree that is already outside of your house but visible from your living room or family room window. At night, it will shine right in. Then create fun decorations and recycle them after the holidays.

In addition, choose LED light strings as they use 75% less electricity than conventional ones and emit less heat. That way you can out-shine the neighbors AND save energy.

3. Stock your party with eco-friendly liquors and foods.

You may already shop organic but did you know there are “green” spirits. For those who imbibe, they can create an organic holiday cocktail with certified organic vodka, rum or gin and some organic juices. An online search of “organic vodka Seattle” will point you to several local distilleries (so you can get credit for idea #1 too!).  Even national brands now have organic options, for example, American Harvest, an organic vodka from the makers of Grey Goose.  (And of course, drink responsibly).

4. If you are giving toys or electronics that are battery powered, also give a rechargeable battery and charger kit.

This saves money on batteries and hazardous waste in landfills.  And give the gift of a power strip with new computers, TVs, games or audio systems. It’s easy to save electricity by turning the strip off when not in use.

5. EnergyStar.gov (the Department of Energy) says this is a big time of year for home appliance purchases.

Are you getting a washer/dryer set for someone special? (Yourself!). Choose appliances that are EnergyStar qualified, as they are engineered for energy savings. Some EnergyStar appliances may cost more upfront, but will save enough energy to be worth it over their lifespan.

Washington Energy Services wishes you the happiest and green-est of holidays. We carry the best EnergyStar qualified heating and window products and will be here 24/7 if you need assistance, at 800-398-4663.

 

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Urban legends of green living

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Legend # 1

Turn down the thermostat and you’ll use less energy.  Do you keep temperatures low in winter and endure the chill to save energy and money? If your home has significant air leaks, lack of insulation and lack of duct sealing, you will just lose what little heat you are requesting from your heating system, and it will keep running and burning fuel to keep up. While this may save a tiny bit because you are not forcing it to reach higher temps, you’ll spend it on sweaters to wear in the house and hot cups of coffee to warm up.

Green living tip

You’d save more money and be more comfortable if you insulated and air sealed the house, and put in a programmable thermostat so you reduce the heat while you are not home. Sealing air holes around vents and electrical penetrations, duct sealing and insulating properly can save significant energy (some estimates are up to 40%). And programmable thermostats now can be controlled by your phone while you are away. Then you can be cozy when you want to be.

Legend # 2

Riding my bike is the best way to reduce my carbon footprint. Do you limit your use of a car to save greenhouse gases? While cycling to work does limit your vehicle emissions, according to EnergyStar (the conservation arm of the Department of Energy), “the energy used in the average house is responsible for twice as many greenhouse gas emissions as the average car.” The more energy you use at home, the more our highly polluting power plants need to produce, increasing the amount of greenhouse gases. (Source EnergyStar.gov).

Green living tip

While you’ll get in shape cycling and save a little on emissions, the place to reduce your use is at home. EnergyStar recommends the following steps: Use energy saving windows and HVAC systems, maintain those systems (including caulking windows and having tune ups for your heating appliances), and insulating and sealing your house, plus see # 3 for more.

Legend # 3

I have installed EnergyStar certified products in my home so I must be using less energy. EnergyStar sees it another way. While modern appliances from washers and dryers to furnaces use far less energy these days, people have been using far more electricity from all of our plug in devices. This is why total energy use by homes in the US has not decreased. Some estimates are that this “phantom power” use by appliances and electronics can be up to 10% of our total energy.

Green living tip

Unplug. The average home has up to 10 appliances plugged in, in the kitchen alone! Many are drawing some electricity to power clocks, standby lights or indicator lights (to tell you they are off!). One of us has this in our kitchen: toaster oven, microwave, food saver, coffee maker, mixer, electric can opener, range, dishwasher, garbage disposal, overhead lighting, ipod docking station, and refrigerator = 12!. Add all the phone chargers that stay plugged in when not in use, computers, TVs, game consoles, cable box, hair dryer, electric toothbrush, water heater, and it adds up to a significant amount of excess power use. Do an experiment and try: turning lights off when you leave the room, and plug non-core appliances and computers into a power strip that you turn off when you are out, and you should see a difference.

Legend # 4

We don’t waste water because we never let water run (eg: in the sink while washing dishes or before a shower). For most homes, the biggest culprit wasting water in your house is the toilet(s). If it was made before 1994, it’s not a low flow toilet. One of us here at Washington Energy has a 1926 toilet using 7 gallons of water each flush. That’s about 42 gallons a person per day. Most toilets from the post-war period to the 80s used between 3.5-5 gallons per flush.

Green living tip

There are inserts that can fit some units and hold back a gallon of water each flush, but if you want to save significant amounts of water, you’ll need a modern toilet with 1.6 gallons per flush. These will pay for themselves quickly as your water use will decrease. Some of the WaterSense certified toilets we install have significant local utility rebates, up to $80.

Legend # 5

‘All natural’ equals ‘good to buy’. Are you looking for certain words on packaging when you make a purchase decision? The words natural, green, eco-friendly, or biodegradable are not regulated or based on any standards. (Organic is regulated, and certified organic is inspected.) Biodegradable means it will degrade “someday” which covers almost everything, technically even nuclear waste.

Green living tip

Buy something because it’s the best product for you, and be cautious if basing a purchase decision on these un-regulated words. And right now, genetically modified foods used as ingredients such as corn starch or soy protein are not required to be labeled either, so do not assume that “natural” means it’s not in there. There is no strict definition of what makes a natural food.

 

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A brighter green for the holidays

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According to the EPA, household waste increases 25 percent each year between Thanksgiving and New Years. That’s huge! We know you are already recycling, and in Seattle, composting your food scraps, right, so what else can you do? Here are 4 great ideas you might not have heard elsewhere.

  1. Have a Green Tree. Whatever holiday you celebrate, decorating a tree is or can be part of it. Buy a live tree with its roots intact, and replant it. If you replant your tree you can create years of carbon removal and habitat for nature’s creatures. A healthy tree can store up to 13 pounds of carbon annually. That’s just a little but it helps. And of course, a live tree will be less likely to catch fire. Don’t want to plant an extra tree in your yard? Check out the Trees for Salmon program at Swansons Nursery. You can buy a tree and bring it back after the holidays. The tree will be planted by volunteers where it will contribute to salmon habitat renewal. That’s super green! Be sure to keep the root ball cool, covered and watered, and get some care recommendations from the tree lot.
  2. Drink Green. We found a wonderful article about creating green cocktails. First consider choosing some organic mixers or depending on where you live, organic distilleries. There are also seasonal craft beers from green breweries such as Sierra Nevada, Full Sail Brewing (Oregon) Roots Organic (Portland) and Fish Brewing Company out ofOlympia,WA. Be sure to recycle all those empties.
  3. Clean green. Remember back when “green” meant “ineffective” at cleaning and you had to take that pink Castille biodegradable soap camping even though it smelled bad and didn’t clean. Things have changed. Grocery store brands now offer greener versions of highly effective products. Many people do heavy cleaning of the house before and after guests. Skip the sprays, try a reusable cloth vs paper towels and give that shelf of green products in the cleaning aisle a second look.
  4. Wrap Green. Many bloggers talk about using the newspaper to wrap gifts. I’m just not a fan. Wrapping paper is recyclable. The only exception: the shiny, metallic kind is not recyclable. Bows and ribbons are also not recyclable; consider saving these and reusing them instead. Try being green by using less wrapping paper. Your pets have no thumbs to upwrap paper – so save it and just give ‘em the bone or catnip. Let’s face it, they think every day they get fed is a holiday! Or, gift with re-usable decorative gift bags. Leave the attached tag blank and it can be re-used by the person you give it to. If you just want your tree to look stuffed with presents, buy pre-printed decorated boxes and reuse them every year instead of wrapping every little thing.

But most of all, enjoy the holidays. Washington Energy Services will be here 24/7, even on Christmas, should you need help during the holidays including heating and plumbing emergency service. Call us at 800-398-4663.

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