Save Money on Heating

672782_62368245Reading through an article from Divine Caroline, I found 7 tips to help save money on heating this winter. Who doesn’t want to save money, especially during the holiday months.

1. Replace all your filters. In addition to not being as effective at filtering the air you breathe, dirty filters cause several problems for the furnace. They make the blower work harder getting enough air into the heat-exchange chamber so that you have enough warm air in the house. 

2. Clean the area around the furnace and inside the filter box. While you are replacing the air filters, vacuum around the furnace unit. Most furnaces are stuck in an out-of-the-way spot and get minimal cleaning during the year.

3. Check your fan belts. Fan belts that are too loose or too tight can cause problems with the blower and the fan motor. The tension in the belts should be set so there is about 1” of deflection at the center of the span.

4. Lubricate the blower (fan) motor shaft. Most electrical motor shafts have lubrication ports at one or both ends of the shaft that runs through the motor. Use a good quality, lightweight motor oil to fill these lubrication ports.

5. Check to be sure the blower (fan) cage spins easily. Check your blower (fan) cage by spinning it. As long as it spins easily, everything is fine. If it seems to rub or bind while it spins, you could have something stuck in the fan or you could have a worn out fan.

6. Turn on the pilot light. Most gas furnaces require a pilot light to function properly (some of the more modern furnaces have electronic flame starters). Make sure your pilot light is lit.

7. Check your thermostat. After you have done the mechanical maintenance on the furnace and made sure the pilot light is lit and working, check the thermostat to make sure that it is working. Set your thermostat control to ‘Heat’ and the furnace temperature control to higher than your current room temperature. Make sure the burner lights and the fan starts blowing. As soon as you have done this you can turn the furnace thermostat control back to a cooler setting and the status control back to either cool or neutral.

For the complete article click here.

The No-‘Poo do??

110154_5482Really have you heard of the No-‘Poo Do? This morning one of my co-workers was telling me about just this. I hadn’t heard of it before. In fact I didn’t know there were people out there that didn’t use shampoo when they showered. I figured if they didn’t use shampoo they were using some sort of soap but no – they really don’t use any sort of cleaning agent to wash there hair, they just rinse with water.

I could see how this would be good for your hair and I could see how this could be very Eco-friendly. Your not dumping toxic shampoo/soap down the drain, your not buying shampoo which ends up being less plastic thrown away and your spending less money.

As for your hair this is an excellent way to get your hair back to its beautiful self, it gets the oils to where they are supposed to be, making your hair very shiny and supple. Its much like using chap stick on your lips, your lips get used to it and need it but if you go off chap stick, after about a couple weeks your lips will get back to their supple self, but you go through an extreme drying period in the process. Or lotion, when you use lotion every day, same effects, you stop using it and after a period of two weeks or so your body will regulate itself and not need it anymore.

Here is an article from The Phoenix Network; The No-‘Poo Do. Instructables also has a How to Go No Poo. Check it out and see what you think.

How To Grow Your Own Coffee Tree

coffee-trees-growing-01As I am sitting at Starbucks writing this blog, I’m thinking about how many times I’ve come here in the past few years and how much money I have spent buying coffee and other products. While Starbucks seems to be one of the leaders in green and healthy drinks, as well as contributing positively to the environment and world, I thought I’d give us all a tutorial on growing your own coffee plants.

As a fun project, or to spend less money at starbucks, coffee plants are fairly easy to grow in the home as a potted specimen, which should be moved outdoors for the summer if possible.

They do best in filtered sunlight, with night temperatures in the lower to mid 60s and day temperatures of 70F or higher. Plant them in any good commercial, fast draining potting soil . The soil should be kept on the moist side, but never soggy.

Coffee plants will produce fruit without any fertilizing whatsoever, but for best results and maximum yield, they should be fed every 2 weeks from March to October, and then monthly from November through February. You can find seeds for coffea and other rare and unusual plants online from The Whatcom Seed Company

The plants will grow to about 10 feet if given ample root room, but can be pruned if this is too big for the allotted space. Pruning may involve simple pinching to produce a bushier plant, or you may go as far as cutting it way back…. Right down to where only two branches near the bottom are left on it.

The fruit are red when they ripen in the fall, with a sweet pulp surrounding the bean. Each coffee berry has two beans. The coffee tree’s fruit does not all ripen at one time. In fact it will have blossoms and berries in various stages of ripening. Only the ripe berries can be picked. The berries cannot be picked when green since they will not ripen once picked.

So give it a try and let us know how it goes!

Catching Rain – Rain Barrels

Catching the natural rainfall to store for later use helps conserve water and energy. A water catchment system can be adequate enough to provide most of the water needs for a water-conserving household, outdoors as well as indoors, by simply catching what falls on the roof.

Catching Rain is not only for use in your garden and yards but can cut down on the need to rely on city and county water, reduce energy consumption as well as greatly reduce water bills. Rain barrels can easily be sized for the amount of use, beyond using them in a garden, and remain relatively easy for an owner/builder to install for household use.

Here is a video from HGTV- How to Build a Rain Barrel.

Below are some helpful websites to get you on your way to conserving water.

Clean Air Gardening

Rainwater Harvesting

Rain Barrel Guide

Eat Sustainably and Save Money

pressing doughWe all are on budgets these days with the prices of food and really the prices of everything going up. Eating sustainably grown food on a budget can not only be delicious and nourishing but it can also open up new ways to work with familiar foods.

Do-it-Yourself: Go back to making food from scratch. Buying a loaf of organic bread can run you upwards of $5 but spending that same $5 on ingredients to bake bread at home can make up to 3 loaves of bread.

Eat Whats in Season: Often, whats best for the planet is best for the wallet, which as far as food is concerned, means eating whats in season. Use canned organic fruits and veggies during the months those foods are not in season.

Buy in Bulk: The bulk food isle may seem overwhelming at first but the potential savings are worth learning to cook with dried legumes and grains. For help with cooking in bulk click here. Natural meats can also be purchased in bulk and they are better for you and the environment.

Grow Your Own: When possible grow your own fruits and vegetables.

Make Room for Leftovers: When cooking at home, save time in the kitchen by preparing foods that will keep well in the refrigerator and freezer. Plan ahead, like if you are browning 2lbs of ground beef, brown a few more lbs for later use. Making larger portions so that you have some for left overs to use on a day when you don’t have time to cook.

For more help with eating sustainably, check out sustainabletable.org.

Recycling Unused Prescription Drugs

Yesterday I read an article in the Oregonian, State seeks to recycle unused prescription drugs, which was about finding a way to recycle unused prescription drugs and make them available to patients who otherwise couldn’t afford them. An estimated 3% of prescription drugs nationwide go unused, lost, ignored, replaced or no longer needed.

During the past decade, 37 states have passed some sort of unused-drug-recycling program. “But as well-intentioned as these efforts are,” a survey by Scientific American found, “practical problems have prevented  widespread implementation of such programs.”

Recycling unused prescription drugs seems like a no-brainer but would you feel comfortable taking medication that was taken home originally by someone else? This is a valid concern.

Monday was the mark of the first legislative hearing to set up a Prescription Drug Repository within the Oregon Board of Pharmacy to redistribute costly unused medications to uninsured patients. Gary Schnabel, executive director of the Pharmacy Board, communicated that the board may eventually support the idea, if lawmakers can resolve practical details about how to guarantee the purity of recycled drugs.

One state to look at would be Oklahoma. In a bit over 5 years the program, which recycles medication from patients in long-term care facilities, has distributed nearly 47,000 unused prescriptions, with a wholesale value of more than $4 million. They accept only unit-dose packaging directly from nursing homes or assisted living facilities and in five years have grown from 3 participating nursing homes to 59.

Some benefits of recycling unused prescription drugs would be that they are being reused, they are not contaminating our water and they would be kept out of the hands of people who would misuse them. But the one question remains, It might be difficult to make people feel confident in what they are taking when they know its been taken away from the pharmacy intended for someone else.

10 Homemade Valentines

I love homemade valentines. I love anything homemade, not only is it eco-friendly and saves you money, but it also means so much more when it has been homemade with love.

1. Make your own little Valentine Book. AE has a tutorial, perfect for your favorite Valentine, aliedwards.typepad.com

2. The Purl Bee has some lovely fabric window Valentines. These would be perfect for your little ones to give to their friends, even great for adding to the top of a Valentine gift. I love the simple sweetness of these.

3. For a kid-friendly Valentine craft, try these Woven Heart Baskets from mothers of inventions.

4. I love these fun Felt Fortune Cookies from Martha Stewart. There is a video in case the written instructions aren’t enough.

5. People come up with the most amazing projects. I love these Valentine Vermin from the Junior Society.

6. Moms in Business have a “That’s Amore! ~ A Valentine’s Day tutorial”. Great for hanging on the door. Homemade with items you already have around the house.

7. For the little girls in your life, decorate their hair with these cute Valentine hair clips. These look fairly easy and oh so cute!

8. Wise Craft has a tutorial on how to make a Rice Pillow for your Valentine. The perfect thing for those sore necks and backs after a long day at work.

9. Ok, I know this tutorial isn’t for Valentines Day but I thought this Fleece + Liberty Scarf tutorial would make a great Valentines gift. Use some pretty floral or whimsical fabrics, and it would be perfect.

10. The Stitching Room has a Thread Holder Tutorial but instead of holding thread these would be great for putting some Hershey Kisses or other chocolates in and giving them to your Valentine.

I know there are so many more Valentine tutorials and craft projects out there, these are just a few to help you get started on your way to a Happy Valentines Day! Enjoy!

Green Money Saving Facts

Did You Know?

$210 – The amount of money saved in one year of energy bills by switching to a new refrigerator and clothes washer. Energy Star has some of the best energy saving products.

$82 – Money saved in one year by switching to eco-friendly cleaning products such as white vinegar, baking soda, lemon juice and olive oil. Check out Inhabitots for 5 Eco-friendly, kid-safe cleaning supplies you can make yourself.

$135 – The amount saved in one year by a family of four when they recycle one bottle or can per day. Every bottle and can you recycle eases the strain on our natural resources and reduces greenhouse gases in our skies. BottlesandCans.com

$100 – Money saved in one year by fixing leaky windows and doors.

$80 – The amount of money saved in one year if you change five of your most frequently used lightbulbs to Compact Flourescent light bulbs.

For many more Money Saving Facts and help with making your home more efficient, check out greenandsave.com. They can help with Remodeling parts of your home, to turn up the savings, and use cost-effective eco-friendly products, also with transforming your home into a High-Performance Residence:saving money, generating power, reducing utility dependence and using eco/healthy systems. They have a message board, ask the expert and community articles. A very helpful site for the home owner who wants to “Go Green” and save big.

How to Save Energy with Televisions

With all the after Christmas sales going on now, a lot of people are taking advantage and buying new televisions. Also with the switch over to digital TV, stores may be seeing extra interest from consumers who need to update.

If you are one of those getting a new TV this year keep these energy savings tips in mind:

Watch those Watts – Big Screen televisions use more power than smaller, traditional cathode ray TVs. In fact some of the larger big-screen plasma televisions can consume as much energy each year as a new refrigerator.

More Energy – LCD and rear-projection models are generally more energy efficient than plasma televisions.

Look for the Star – Energy Star qualified televisions use about 30 percent less energy than standard models. TVs manufactured after November 2008 bearing the Energy Star label are up to 30 percent more efficient than standard models in both standby and active models. Some of the TVs in now were manufactured before the new deadline. Get More Info at Energy Star.

Lower The Brightness – When you first take your TV out of the box, it’s probably on the maximum brightness setting, which wastes energy and fails to delivery the best picture.

Turn Off When Not in Use – Remember that even when the TV is turned off but still plugged in, it is still consuming energy. The best idea is to have your TV plugged into a surge protector strip and turn it completely off when the TV is not in use to maximize energy savings.

Don’t Let Money Slip Out Your Chimney – Try a Chimney Balloon

Its that time of year again, to sit and enjoy the fireplace, but are you letting money slip out of your chimney? Everyone knows to close the fireplace damper once the embers have cooled so cold air doesn’t slide in and your hot air doesn’t slide out. But did you know that dampers can warp and break with age?

A quick and easy fix can be found in something called a fireplace “pillow” or “balloon”. Its a plastic plug that you put in your chimney to seal any would-be air leaks. It blows up with a few puffs and comes with a tube(to inflate the plug) and a handle(to push the plug up the chimney).

When you want to build a fire, pull the plug and remove. The device can be used over and over again. Also if you forget and start a fire with the device still in the chimney, it is designed to safely deflate within seconds and allow the smoke and carbon monoxide to exit your chimney.

The device is very strong, under normal circumstances it will not puncture. It is resistant to the acidy and abrasive environment of your chimney, but it is also flexible enough to efficiently seal the crevices in your flue.

The average price for a chimney balloon or pillow is between $40-$55. For more information, check out these websites.

The Chimney Balloon, or Battic Door – Fireplace Plug DraftStopper.