Green has gone main stream

2012 Earth Day is a day to celebrate all things earthy. It’s also an opportunity to celebrate freebies, contests and coupons in the name of improving your green home life.

Here’s a sampling of some of my favorite promotions available for 2012:

1. Recyclebank- Rewards people with discounts and deals locally and nationally when you take everyday green actions.  Earn over 500 points when you get your ”Passport to the Planet” [throughout April]

2. Verde – FREE Verde Energy Audit App for iPad  (org. $4.99) until Earth Day.  Enter your electrical usage, along with your local kWh electricity charge, and Verde calculates your total energy consumption. It also suggests ways to save money by saving energy.

3. Earth Responsible Products To win $100 Gift Certificate for Conservationist Ed Begley’s Earth Responsible Cleaning Products, just click anytime before the end of April.

4. Organic Farm products. Cascadian Farm Earth Day sweepstakes Five people can win a year’s supply of Casacadian Farm products; another 100 winners will win a bag of organic goodies.

5. Free Greenery and Scenery at the National Parks – FREE Admission from 4/21 – 4/29 to tons of parks! Click for National Park Directory.

6. Nature Conservancy’s Plant a Billion Trees Initiative. Feel good knowing it only takes a  mere $1 to plant a tree with The Nature Conservancy’s Plant a Billion Trees Initiative. The rain forest — and the planet — will thank you.

The first Earth Day in 1970 led to the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water and Endangered Species acts.

Feel free to share any other cool green home and garden freebies here.

One recent renovation project house was built the same year as the U.S. oil crisis, so you would think the attic insulation would be nice and beefy, right?

Guess again.

Turns out, the ceiling insulation only met ‘minimum code’ standard back in 1973 and hadn’t been upgraded since.

In North Carolina, high efficiency residential ceiling insulation should be R-38. Given the settling and moisture content of the loose-fill fiberglass, I estimate this home’s ceiling was only insulated to a factor of about R-17.5.

And that’s not even the worse news…. Read More

How to attract toads and frogs to your garden

It’s Leap Day so let’s talk about bug control using frogs, toads and tree frogs.  Like ‘em or loath ‘em, these little hoppers can eat up to 1000 insects in one day from a flower bed or vegetable garden.

You can combat declining frogs and toad populations by easily transforming your yard into a neighborhood refuge using this eco-friendly ceramic toad house.  It is virtually maintenance-free and dark color fades unobtrusively into the damp shadows (where the little toady’s like it best!)

It is sized wide and low, about eight inches round and four inches high – A perfect dimension for your toads, frogs and even tree frogs that have just finished their bug feast.

If you would like to see who is in residence, the house is easily lifted up.  Toads and frogs live a long time if your garden conditions are right.

Consider the size of your garden and to a frog or toad, that’s some wide open spaces for finding dinner. You can help these hard working little yard soldiers by placing inconspicuous shelters throughout the garden.

Toads and frogs are attracted to yards that are pesticide-free. These amphibians are very sensitive to chemicals because they breathe and drink through their skin.  Before spraying, please reconsider an organic alternative.

No need to wait for Leap Day to get your toad abodes ready.  Late winter is a perfect time to prepare for hosting your new garden friends!

I wonder if you have any favorite toad shelters you’d like to share?

When you’re trying to find a house at night, there’s nothing more frustrating than not being able to find the address numbers.

Whether you’re expecting guests or waiting for a food delivery finding your address could be made way easier with this solar powered address sign.

Here’s why:  It is internally lit. The font type is easily read at a glance. High contrast white on black grabs our attention.

Skip the electrician because the sign requires no wiring. Simply mount the solar address sign on a vertical surface, or place it in the lawn with its 16 inch theft-resistant stake.

Just four hours of sunlight powers the solar address sign to run for three nights. That means it won’t cost you a dime in power bills since the solar panel absorbs clean renewable electricity!

Don’t worry if your chosen spot isn’t ideal, because an eight foot wire allows the detachable solar panel to be strategically positioned in direct sun.

The lamps never need replacement, and the cover easily lifts off to customize your address numbers.

I’m seriously thinking about giving this sign as a gift.  At night, my parent’s house numbers are virtually impossible to read.  I worry that, if heaven forbid, they have a nighttime emergency, the fire department or ambulance can’t easily find them.

With this solar address sign, they won’t be wasting energy or feel guilty with the sign lit all night.

It’s clean, it’s safe, and it’s reliable.  Now that’s peace of mind!


Sophisticated design for exterior garden rooms

Admired gardens have focal points that support a garden room theme.  Within that area, you then showcase its best features using focal points.

Focal points can be created using splashes of color. They direct views toward desirable spots, and distract the eye from focusing upon unsightly things.

Red color accents create happy, vibrant, energizing feelings.

Here is a summary from the video (below) of five ways to use red for garden focal points: Read More

Do you want the ambiance of a fireplace but don’t have an existing fireplace or chimney? One option favored by green builders is an electric fireplace.

They are pre-fabricated units sufficiently insulated to be installed safely within close range of walls or wood framework without requiring a masonry foundation. They also don’t require a vent or flu because no fumes are emitted.

These so-called zero clearance fireplaces are easier, quicker and much cheaper to install than a traditional masonry fireplace. This is also a better option for all-electric homes because Read More

New bulbs, new standards push out Incandescents

Starting January 1, 2012 new light bulbs must work more efficiently. Compact fluorescent (CFL), light emitting diode (LED) and some halogen bulbs, meet that requirement.

133-year-old incandescent light technology doesn’t because Mr. Edison’s bulb is an energy hog.  Less than 10 percent of the energy it uses produces light.

The federal Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 requires most screw-in light bulbs to use at least 27 percent less energy by 2014.

First up for energy saving upgrade are the 100-watt bulbs, then 75-watt in 2013, and a year later 60- and 40-watt light bulbs. Watts measure energy use; lumens indicate brightness.

All bulbs lose brightness over time, including old-fashioned incandescents. To replace a 100-watt incandescent bulb, Energy star recommends 1,600 or more lumens.

To get the familiar soft white light, use a Color Rendering Index (CRI) of 80-85.

When comparing types, consider the life time cost (not just bulb cost).

CFL Lightbulbs

  • Will provide best energy saving for light output; Energy Star qualified
  • Will last typically up to 10 to 20,000 hours
  • Will work outdoors not exposed to moisture
  • Won’t dim (but pin-style lamps can)

Recommended: Feit Electric ECObulb Plus 100W BPESL23TM/ECO $2.35. + up to 10,000 operating hours

Halogen Lightbulbs

  • Light CRI tends to be slightly whiter
  • Will brighten instantly and retains brightness over time better than CFL
  • Will dim; works in motion sensors, electronic timers, and photocells
  • Won’t last nearly as long as a CFL
  • Won’t save nearly as much money as a CFL

Recommended: Philips Energy Saver 100W T60 Halogena  $5.50 + 3,000 operating hours

LED Lightbulbs
Major manufacturers hope to have a 100-watt equivalent LED bulb available later in 2012.

As you switch to more efficient bulbs , I’d like to hear your questions or comments. Leave your thoughts here.