In today’s eco-conscious world, it’s almost impossible to ignore the need for conservation. Fuel costs are on the rise. Utility bills keep surging. And we’re the ones who keep paying the price. But as we all know, things will get more expensive until we learn how to tap into available renewable resources, such as solar heating.
Solar panels have been a growing trend for some time now due to their unique benefits. However, despite the advantages they provide our world and wallet, they still haven’t been fully embraced by the culture at large. Therefore they haven’t been given the chance to realize their full potential. As a homeowner, don’t be wary of new technology; solar panels may look alien but are actually quite a practical investment.
How It Works: Collect, Covert, and Conserve
For many, solar panels are a bit of a mystery. And it’s true; there are a lot of complicated scientific explanations surrounding these products. Yet when you get down to it, the process is quite simple. A photovoltaic (PV) cell is attached to the roof and collects radiant heat from the sun. This energy is
Radon is a radioactive gas that can be found in any home, new or old. This toxic gas comes from decomposed uranium in the soil, and since it always moves from the ground into the air above, it often leaks into houses through cracks in the foundation. However, you cannot see, smell, or taste this gas, which means that even though it is dangerous and cancerous if it builds up in the home, it can never be detected unless special procedures are enforced, such as occasional radon testing.
This test can take on many forms for a variety of different purposes. If you are buying or selling a house, it is always a good idea to hire professionals to inspect the property. Although this is more expensive, these qualified experts have specialized equipment that actively analyze the gas levels within a couple of days and officially report this information to the prospective buys. However, the most common form of radon testing comes in passive kits that any homeowner can use themselves.
These devices are inexpensive and available in either short or long-term models. Short-term
Safe drinking water is not a major concern for most Americans, but should it be? The truth is that many municipal and rural water supplies contain chemicals, minerals, and metals that are hazardous to your health. Fortunately, if you’re concerned about safe drinking water there are a number of water purification options out there for you to choose from that can significantly reduce the level of chemicals, metals, minerals, and other particulates in your drinking water.
Do You Have Safe Drinking Water? Test It to Be Sure
Many homeowners have questions about the safety and content of the water that comes out of their kitchen faucet, and for good reason. Mine tailings, agricultural runoff, livestock waste, sewage, and industrial wastes are just a few of the possible sources that can quickly pollute an entire water supply.
If you live in an urban or suburban area, the EPA requires that every municipal water district print out an annual CCR (Consumer Confidence Report) that provides you with information regarding the levels of chemicals, bacterial contaminants, heavy metals, and other pollutants that exist
The health conscious and environmentally aware homeowner has a lot of things to think about. Not only are today’s homeowners more aware of the materials they use in remodeling an existing home or constructing a new one, they are also becoming more concerned with the health benefits associated with certain home components and building materials. With more people taking a greater interest in how their building choices affect not only the environment around their homes, but the health of the people who live inside, it’s no wonder the demand for home air filtration systems is on the rise. If you’ve been considering whole house air purifiers or stand-alone air purification units for your home, these basic facts and explanations should help make the decision of what to install a little easier.
Stand-Alone Air Purification Units
Plug-in stand-alone air purification units are the most affordable and most easily installed home air filtration systems. A stand-alone air purification unit is generally a good choice for those who want to reduce pollutants and increase indoor air quality in a single space. Such air purification units are able to remove allergens, dust mites, pet odors, cigarette smoke, paint fumes, and other airborne contaminants from a
There are several different types of fungus that fall under the term “powdery mildew”. They are all related, however, and are all prevented and treated in the same manner. Powdery mildew appears first as white spots and later looks like a thin coating of dust or dirt. It not only looks bad, but it is also unhealthy for the plant. If you believe one or more of your plants have powdery mildew, there are a few things you can do to combat the problem (and a few to help keep the problem from rising again).
Effects of Powdery Mildew
Powdery mildew is responsible for a variety of plant ailments. In leaves it can cause stunting, yellowing, and distortion. It can decrease the size and aesthetic appearance of fruit. It robs nutrients and, in the most extreme cases, can be fatal to some plants.
While there are many plants that powdery mildew can live on, some are more susceptible than others. Fruit trees are quite susceptible as are African violets, lilacs, roses, begonias, and phlox. Grapes and many vegetables are also high on the list of host plants. Thankfully, each strain of powdery mildew is limited in the types of plants it
With green construction practices and building materials sweeping the home improvement industry, bamboo has risen in stature to become one of the most beautiful, widely used, and eco-friendly hardwoods on the planet. From gorgeous hardwood flooring to easy-to-install outdoor fence, bamboo products are available to fit just about any homeowner’s fancy or remodeling needs.
Bamboo Products: What You Need to Know
While bamboo is generally referred to as a hardwood because of its beauty, density, and durability, it actually comes from the grass family. And it’s not just any grass or any plant. It’s the fastest growing plant known to man: Some bamboo shoots have been seen to grow up to four feet in a 24-hour period. If you cut down an oak tree, that’s all she wrote. Cutting bamboo, on the other hand, is necessary just to keep things tidy on a bamboo farm.
When harvested at the right time, when sugar levels are at their lowest, the resulting material is stronger than some hardwoods. Indeed, as the popularity of bamboo products have accelerated, manufacturers have struggled to keep up with demand, resulting in stories of discoloration and pest infestation. These inferior bamboo products have also created a belief that bamboo
The term “hard water” refers to any water that retains larger amount of minerals, such as calcium and magnesium. These minerals can cause many negative side-effects to your home because they can build up lime scale in your pipes and seriously reduce, or even block, proper water flow. The best way to remove these destructive minerals is to filter them out with a water softening system.
Hard Water Damage
Not only can this mineral-enriched water clog your pipes, but it also disturbs its daily use. When there is a build-up of minerals in your water, it affects whatever it touches, and several things can occur:
Spotting: Minerals in your water makes it difficult for soap to dissolve, therefore when washing clothes, dishes, showers, or even your car, you may find it tough to rinse off the detergents. This can cause additional soap build-up on your dishware, clothes, sinks, and appliances. By using water softening systems, you won’t have to use as much soap and it will wash away more efficiently for brighter, softer clothes and fewer blemishes on tubs and sinks.
Damage: Since hard water increases mineral and soap build-up, items in your house may become injured, reducing their life-span. Your clothes
In general, tap water in the United States is perfectly safe for human consumption. However, sometimes you may notice a funny color, odor, or taste. These often come from otherwise harmless contaminants like chlorine, sulfur, iron, and manganese. Home drinking water purification is a snap when it comes to filtering out these benign contaminates; in most cases, clean water is just a conventional activated carbon filter away. These kinds of water filters are available at many retail stores and even supermarkets and are very affordable.
Water Purification in Public Systems
Less than 10 percent of the water produced by public systems is used for drinking and cooking. The vast majority of our tap water is used by business, industry, and for purposes such as bathing, washing clothes, etc. While our public utilities provide water that is safe to drink, it is neither practical nor cost effective for them to produce high-purity water, since most uses do not require this level of quality.
Tap and Under-Sink Water Filters
Tap filters and under-sink water filters are two of the easiest and most popular devices for making the drinking water in your home bottled water quality. Tap filters are cheap and easy to install, and
Going green with siding is fairly clear cut. As of yet, there are no recycled materials that are produced in any mass quantity. Certainly there are some, and some that have been tested, but no product yet has been able to compete on the market either in the realm of demand, performance, or price.
Depending on your personal requirement for green building, vinyl and stucco are locked in a dead heat. Other than the thin wood spacers and wire mesh, the stucco compound is made of cement, water, and plaster. While vinyl siding may not be made of recycled material, it is a hard plastic that needs little maintenance and can last for years. At present, vinyl siding has not been widely reused on other homes, nor has the siding itself been pressed into other products. However, no trees need to be cut down to produce vinyl siding, it doesn’t off-gas, or leak any chemical into the soil.
Metal siding is most likely the worst green choice, since it is using a nonrenewable resource. More power to you to recycle some old metal, although this process may be quite expensive. Wood is a slightly better choice, as far as material, though only
Part of living in a home is producing waste. It’s unavoidable and often a hassle, especially if your home design doesn’t create a streamlined process for getting this waste out of your home. Home waste management isn’t one thing or one habit, but a set of home installations and diligence that aims to keep your home beautiful and protect the environment without spending hours and hours each week on a seemingly endless list of tedious chores.
General Home Waste Management Strategies
You’ve undoubtedly heard of the three R’s (reduce, reuse, recycle), but this hardly encapsulates effective home waste management. More than just good habits, think about installing and maintaining appliances such as garbage disposals and residential trash compactors that will reduce your trash load. Compost your outdoor trash and, even some indoor trash, such as non-animal kitchen scraps and paper. With worms, as odd as it sounds, you can even compost indoors with virtually no residual odors.
Effective placement of trash cans and bins throughout your home is also key to good home waste management. After all, on top of protecting the environment, you probably want to get rid of your trash with a minimal amount of time and energy. When designing
As science progresses, the populous becomes more informed about substances and situations that affect our bodies. Our habits involving foods, medicines, and even building materials change as we learn more about what is healthy and what is harmful. In recent years, some cases of illness that previously would have been identified as a virus or food poisoning have been attributed to a substance called carbon monoxide.
Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless, and tasteless gas; it is also deadly in high amounts and unhealthy in smaller doses. Installing a carbon monoxide alarm is one of the best methods of making sure you and your family are not being exposed to toxic levels of this common, deadly gas.
Where Carbon Monoxide Comes From
Carbon monoxide can occur quite naturally when organic substances are burned. It is also present at certain times when organic matter decomposes. The main reason that people install carbon monoxide alarms in their homes, however, is that this gas is produced in large amounts when fossil fuels are burned.
Many people are under the misconception that the improper burning of gasoline (letting a car warm up in a closed garage, exposure to excessive amounts of automobile exhaust, etc.) is the most
You live in your home, you produce trash. That’s just the way it goes. To keep your home looking its best it needs to remain clear of trash, and when the trash gets out of hand, your home can become nearly uninhabitable. Of course, this is only the worst-case scenario, and even homeowners who would don’t let their home reach this state can save time with more effective trash management.
Kitchen Trash Cans
Much of our home trash comes from the kitchen, and kitchen trash cans are among the most important trash cans in the home. They also provide the most options. Freestanding, under-the-sink, pantry, and pull out trash cabinets are all possibilities. Some homeowners prefer multiple kitchen trash cans. The best idea is to match the number and placement of your trash cans with your lifestyle. If you’re the type of person to diligently dispose of each piece of trash as it’s made, you may want to save the kitchen space and put a single, moderately sized trash can in your kitchen. For the less diligent, multiple trash cans will help you with your trash management. Of course, the size of your kitchen will also play a significant role in
Denver, Colorado works daily to innovate private and public sectors to keep the environment green and glowing. Governor John Hickenlooper’s promise to plant a million trees in the city by 2025 will add more oxygen and increase the urban landscape. Denver International Airport is one of the greenest airports in the United States. Denver also has green taxis that help keep emissions down while increasing public transportation. Startups based in Denver pump out environmental technology that help not only Denver but cities across the United States to be greener. It is a city looking into the future, and anyone who wants to help with that can do their part by reading this guide and using any of these suggestions.
Denver Green Job Listings
Since Denver is one of the most environmentally-concerned cities in the United States, there are a lot of job openings in many sectors for green jobs. Whether these jobs are directly related to the environment in careers like ecology and wildlife or indirectly related like law or government, they need people in them to get the work going. As such, there are a wide variety of resources advertising these jobs daily.
- Colorado Green Jobs Network: Listings in Denver for sectors
As long as you plan to tear things up in your home a bit, this is the ideal time to remove or treat any materials that are hazardous to your health. Environmental consultants are licensed professionals who have training in the detection and treatment of such problems.
Lead-based paint and asbestos are the most common hazards, so they are the ones we’ll focus on here. But the process of assessing and treating other unhealthy conditions, like mold or mildew, will be about the same.
Whether or not you include hazardous materials treatment work in your contract, I strongly urge you to sample all surfaces after the renovation is completed, and get a clearance report stating that your property is safe before you return it to normal use.
1. Research government regulations regarding environmental hazards
To find out which hazards might typically be discovered in a building like yours, call your state Department of Health and Human Services, ask for the epidemiologist, who will information about the effect of environmental hazards on human beings. They can provide pamphlets and sound, scientific advice about every kind of hazard that you might be concerned about.
The pamphlets will contain information about the hazardous material, why and under what
With a heart attack, time is muscle. With fire and water damage, time is home. The more time you lose, the more of your house you will lose. Fire and water damage restoration is a process that must be undertaken immediately to salvage what can be salvaged. And because battling fire requires dousing the flames with water, often you’re forced to address both issues at the same time. Rightfully so, firefighters aren’t concerned with hardwood flooring or upholstered furniture when fighting a house fire. If your home has suffered fire or water damage, here are a few steps to take so you can get your home back into shape as soon as possible.
Both fire and water can cause significant structural damage to your home. Be sure to look for structural damage to walls, roofs, stairs, ceilings, and floors before you re-enter your home, much less begin to assess personal property loss. It’s just not worth it. Beware that water damage is often less obvious than fire damage, so be especially careful when re-entering your home. Damage to electrical wiring is another huge concern and, in the case of a natural disaster, even the water coming out of your
Carbon monoxide poisoning is responsible for hundreds of deaths each year and thousands of hospital emergency room visits. It happens when an overabundance of carbon monoxide is produced by fuel burning appliances, fixtures, or vehicles in your home, after which dangerous levels of this odorless and invisible gas builds up. Hot water heaters, fire places, furnaces and gas fueled ranges are just a few of the usual suspects when it comes to this easily preventable tragedy.
Signs of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
You probably already know that carbon monoxide is invisible and odorless. In fact, it is virtually impossible to detect on your own aside from experiencing the physical symptoms that are a precursor to carbon monoxide poisoning. These symptoms include headache, fatigue, shortness of breath, nausea, and dizziness. If you or anyone in your home experiences these symptoms, get out of your home immediately and call your local fire department to check and see if you have a problem that needs to be addressed. That these symptoms are usually the only signs of carbon monoxide in your home is a pretty clear mandate that you need to install a carbon monoxide detector. You may not think your home is at risk,
Black mold is often used to describe common household molds that can a variety of colors, usually some shade of gray, olive green, or black. Mold is a fungal spore that can grow in the presence of water and some food source such as wood, cardboard, or insulation. Nobody knows exactly how many different kinds of mold there are, but 100,000 is a conservative guess. None of them are good for your home, but very few are truly toxic.
Toxic black mold, then, is also an often misapplied term. Large exposures to black mold of any kind can cause respiratory problems, commonly similar to generic sinus allergies. The exposure to mold, though, rarely acts as infection. Once you’re rid of your mold problem, your sinus and respiratory symptoms should also subside. Your symptoms may be more severe if you happen to be allergic to mold or if you become exposed to a large amount of toxic black mold. (Excessive exposure is usually only an issue if you attempt to remove the mold yourself without wearing protective gear.)
Identifying and Preventing Black Mold
Most often, the first sign of black mold is to see or smell it. Mold will give off a musty
Although toxic black mold is a headline grabber, mold comes in a wide variety of colors and is often not even easy to see. It creeps up the inside of walls, collects in water-damaged basements and crawl spaces, and grows inside poorly cleaned humidifiers, dehumidifiers, and air conditioning units.
Mold and Your Health
The health concerns of mold are wide ranging and cause respiratory and many other problems. While infants, young children, the elderly, and the immune-compromised are at the greatest risk, mold can affect anyone, causing everything from a mild allergic reaction to mycotoxicosis and more serious diseases. According to the Mayo Clinic, nearly all of the 37 million chronic sinus infections are a result of mold. Mold has been linked to both causing asthma and advancing asthma. Fortunately, mold can be eradicated if you know what it is and where it is, which is why regular mold inspection is an important part of general home maintenance.
Extensive Mold Damage
Still, health problems associated with mold growth aren’t as common as many people believe, but that doesn’t mean the mold is innocuous. Left unchecked, extensive mold damage can require professional remediation that can cost thousands of dollars. Imagine a bathroom with
Finding the cause of water seepage is absolutely essential to its cure. The hardest type of water problem to correct is one created by faulty construction practices at the time the house was built.
Finished House Grade and Drainage
Proper drainage is a crucial consideration in selecting the site for a new house. This includes not only the drainage of surface water but also drainage of any subsurface or ground water that may already be present or that may accumulate over a period of time. If the subsurface or ground water level is close to the underside of the basement floor slab, water rises through the slab by capillary action, producing dampness. If the subsurface or ground water level is higher than the basement floor, water leaks in through the walls and floor or enters by capillary action, causing standing water in the basement and, at times, dampness in the rooms above.
Under ideal conditions, a house should be situated so that even during rainy seasons the subsurface or ground water level is at least ten feet below the finished grade–well below the average basement floor. In some cases it is impossible to eliminate dampness completely from a basement whose construction did
When an earthquake strikes, your life is inexorably interrupted. As such, it’s important to be prepared for anything that could happen after the rumble, whether you need to take steps to have emergency home repairs or go to the right sources for help. While you should be prepared for an earthquake, sometimes even the best-laid plans can’t cover every scenario.
To help you prepare a bit more, we’ve compiled a resource guide on earthquakes with information you will need and probably want to know on this natural disaster. Below includes: an introduction on the natural disasters, examples of devastation, how to prepare for one, what to do after the strike, the assistance afterwards, how to help others, and geological information. You should also consider consulting your local authorities or home service professional should you have additional questions about earthquakes and preparing your home and family for them.
What are earthquakes, besides the compilation of shakes, rumbles and loud noises made from collapsing buildings? On a scientific level, an earthquake starts as a vibration that travels to the Earth’s crust, caused by any natural or man-made factors.1 Whatever the cause is sets off a release of energy, which then creates seismic waves