Make your home feel warmer without solely relying on turning up the heat! Here are some quick energy conserving tips as we nestle deeper into fall and approach the winter season.
1) Dodge the draft(s)
According to th U.S. Department of Energy, drafts are responsible nearly 5% – 30% of energy waste. To conserve energy consider finding or making a DIY draft snake for placement a your door threshold using scrap pieces of fabric, old towels, or neckties.
2) Change or clean furnace filters
Although this may be easy to forget, clean or replace your furnace filter once a month during the high heat using months. If your furnace is on its last leg and might not make it through this winter season, be sure to take advantage of federal tax credits for new furnaces which can cover up to 30% of the cost.
3) Run ceiling fans in reverse
Ceiling fans are not only useful in the hot summer months, if you switch the blades to run counter-clockwise in the winter, the warm rising air will be circulated back down to the living space. Thus keeping your home warmer for longer and therefore reducing your energy use.
4) Turn down your water heater
Although many conventional water heaters are set for 140 degrees F by installers, most households don’t need that much heated steam and end up paying for it in their monthly bill. Try lowering the temperature to 120 degrees F (or lower) to reduce your water heating costs by 6% – 10%.
5) Use weatherstripping and caulking
Take a close look at places where there are seams in your home such as corners, around windows and chimneys, where pipes or wires exit and along the foundation. One option for testing this is to use the incense test: carefully move a lit stick along walls; where the smoke flickers, you have air creeping in. And therefore heating or cooling leaking out. Seal any gaps or leaks with weatherstripping or caulking.
Permeable materials such as clay brick, broken concrete, concrete pavers, crushed rock, wood chips nutshells, tumbled recycled glass, woodchips and gravel are great salvaged materials to reduce water runoff and flooding. Impermeable (non-porous) surfaces such as concrete patios and paths do not allow rainwater to naturally percolate into the soil and can saturate the ground and keep moisture close to your home and permeate the surface; we all know that moisture is a homes’ biggest enemy!
These salvaged materials look great, cost only a fraction of well-known impervious products and will keep your patio and walkways dry all season long.
At month 2 into the project we have reached the maximum garbage that the worms can consume from the decomping garbage I actually have about 8 lbs of compost ready for my garden. For my gardening endeavor, I have chosen strawberries to grow with my nutrient-rich compost.
I toiled the soil and mixed it with a bin of raw compost and sand and I’m ready to plant sequoia strawberries that will sustain the family berry obsession for the summer. I have grown strawberries in the past, but without the right soil and too little sun hours in the day the berries can be weak, small and flavorless. With this first batch of “organic” strawberries I will feed weekly a treatment batch from the collection of worm tea (liquid form of worm castings) and the control group I will only feed with water. Worm tea is infinitely richer in nitrogen, phosphate, calcium, magnesium and potash then the upper 6 inches of top soil; not only is it a great organic plant food it is also a natural repellent for aphids, spider mites, scale and white flies. This type of organic plant food is said to increase plant appearance and up productivity by 4-10 times. I shall see with my fresh crop of strawberries! Plants are said to perk up, almost over-night, when fed worm tea.
Stay tuned to see how my sustainable strawberry garden is growing and what the outcome will be on the worm tea treated strawberries versus my control group, that are fed plain water.
When: Saturday April 24th, 2010, from 10am-3pm
Where: “on the Avenue”
FREE!! No Admisson.
Bring the entire family
FREE Seeds to Plant
Discover Local Green Products & Services
The Treehouse in the Glen is a wonderful toy store in Willow Glen that specializes in wooden & natural toys responsibly made in the USA, Europe and around the world. The Treehouse is Silicon Valley’s first and only GREEN certified toy store.
The Treehouse is delightfully different from most toy stores; you will see the most glorious selection of princess and fairy dress-up clothes with silk capes, and animal play clothes like the jellyfish, turtle, unicorn and butterflies. Kids LOVE to build things! The Treehouse is a paradise of blocks naturally made of wood; your youngster can build cities and skyscrapers until their heart’s content. Organically made plush dolls and rocking horses; yarns made of hemp and beginning sewing/knitting kits. Beautiful cook sets and butterfly tea sets, wonderfully illustrated books and colorful puzzles are just a few of the unique toys that can be found inside the Treehouse.
The Treehouse in the Glen just expanded their store and added an art studio; they have a very creative gallery of classes for kids and adults, and open studio times where you can pop-in and create art and crafts without instruction.
It is a great store to have on the Avenue! Let’s help build brighter imaginations and more creative kids … one toy at a time.
For more information visit www.TreeHouseInTheGlen.com
Treehouse in the Glen
1275 Lincoln Avenue, San Jose 95125
The project started from the idea that if everyone in this world could do just a little bit to sustain ourselves, the masses would excel, and Earth would find balance. It cannot take a few people to make a vision grow, but many, many people with the same goal in mind; from this we have a solution.
Location: Willow Glen, San Jose CA. In February 2010 my family and I decided to jump in full-steam ahead and completely rid ourselves of garbage. When I talk about garbage, I’m referring to food scraps, egg shells, tea bags, food run-off, excess in the refrigerator that never gets eaten, those ghastly amounts of junk mail and newspapers that get delivered to your mailbox everyday, dryer lint … etc. Garbage!! Everything except meat & bones. Meat and bones is the real predicament for the guy in the family who loves to eat meat at least once a week.
To start this project, there must be a way to get rid of the garbage naturally and organically; the solution is worms! You can start a worm bin with 500 worms, feed them the garbage and little by little they will ‘eat your garbage’ and turn it into wonderful fertile compost. One month into the project and I must say it’s been too easy and has hardly impacted my life at all. I have a collection bin on my counter, and every single scrap gets thrown into the bin, and every 3-4 days I take the garbage out to feed my worms. To my ultimate surprise, my 500 worms have multiplied to 1500 worms+ and they are happy, full bellied and multiplying like crazy. And, the consistency of my garbage is turning into a fine mixture of decomposing colorful material; mixed with the worm castings (poop), it resembles mulch and smells earthy. In another few weeks this material will be ready for my vegetable garden that I started in sync with the garbage-free project. I have a garden of tomatoes, cucumbers, peas, beans, fennel, and lots of fresh herbs.
It isn’t perfect! There is always a downside to everything. Fruit flies are the enemy. They don’t hurt the worms but they are annoying. Taking the garbage out to the worm bin can be a little uncomfortable. After the flies have scattered, I can go about my business of feeding the little wigglers. The other downside that I mentioned earlier is meat and bones. Proteins do not decompose very well and it’s very stinky and prone to other insect problems so the rule is…’no meat in the bin’. We have certainly stopped eating meat as much as we did (which is seriously not a problem for me and Astrid) but Eric likes meat, which means either you get boneless meats and small proportional sized pieces or the bones get collected and … well, I haven’t come up with a solution yet. It’s still in the research phase.
We eat less! We can’t over feed the worms, so we can’t cram the collection bin with too much garbage; our meal proportions have gotten smaller, we only fix as much food as we can eat, so there is very little waste and no over-consuming.
I feel really good that I am able to do my part in the world to be a lot more sustainable. In addition to being garbage-free I recycle everything, and have ridded my lifestyle of excess packaged products and ZERO bottled water; we installed a water filtration system at home and eat fresh produce and food. Life is very comfortable, I don’t feel like I’m giving up anything, but instead being more conscious of living and consuming.
Does anyone actually use phone books anymore? In the day-and-age of internet it is really not common to look for a business via the yellow pages; you can check out your neighbor’s address online too. It is a disgusting site to come home to find a stack of yellow pages [which get sent to me for being a home owner and a business owner] and a set of the white pages piled up 12 inches high on my front porch. To get rid of the shame surrounding my personal hoarding of paper excess and the guilt of killing a tree, I immediately take the books to the recycle bin and clunk them in there. Still … not feeling really good about throwing perfectly good, unread pages into a waste bin.
It’s time people to stand up and do something about all this excess waste! I found a site (online) where you can opt out of receiving phone books and I went ahead and registered myself and my business. Yellow Pages Go Green
I’m not 100% positive that opting out on an online form is going to stop the books coming to me. I think ultimately what needs to happen is to establish an ordinance banning the delivery of phone books and enforcing it with city ordinance litter laws. I just signed the petition [online opt out form] and will see what happens. If anyone knows about opting out of phone book delivery, comment below. I’d love to hear from you!
“The glory of gardening: hands in the dirt, head in the sun, heart with nature. To nurture a garden is to feed not just on the body, but the soul … “
~Alfred Austin (English Poet)
A sustainable garden is one which gives back to nature; a garden that works in harmony with the environment by conserving resources and working with the land and not against it. The philosophy is to learn to protect and preserve the soil and discover how to sustain ourselves. Growing a garden is a great way of providing natural, fresh food, and also a good model of what is possible in our community.
The start of a sustainable garden starts with the soil, which is typically organic in nature; you don’t want to use petrochemical pesticides, herbicides and man-made fertilizers in the soil and water that will be feeding the plants. I don’t think that anyone wants to ingest these potentially dangerous chemicals. The soil should derive its rich organic basis from beneficial insects (bees, spiders, worms, ladybugs …), and the use of compost to supply it with nutrients.
It’s vital to use plants that are native to the area so that you are working with nature and not against it. It is important to match plant species to your area because native birds and insects have naturally evolved with the indigenous plant species and they will be able to benefit from the plants plus help them to grow and pollinate naturally. Reputable San Jose nurseries such as Summer Wind’s Nursery, Central Wholesale Nursery and Capital Wholesale Nursery will be able to assist you with your plant selection.
Vermicomposting (worm composting) is a really fun [and educational] way to supply your garden with pure organic plant food. Worms produce a casting (simply worm poop) and it’s an excellent fertilizer for plants. Vermicomposting too, is an excellent way to keep food waste out of the garbage by composting. A few weeks back I blogged about San Jose’s compost pilot program; this pilot program supports the city’s green vision of ZERO waste. Composting is so easy and it a great method of returning organic waste back into a nutrient rich soil amendment. Compost improves plant health by supplying nutrients to the soil.
Have fun and happy gardening!
Only 10-15% of the energy your washing machine uses is for actually washing your clothes. Did you know that the majority of the energy goes toward heating the water? Wash your clothes with cold water and not only will you save on your utility bill, but cold wash is a lot gentler on the fibers in clothing and will make your garmets last longer