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redecorate Eco friendly homes are becoming increasingly popular. With more technological advances, there are many materials and techniques available to provide the most economical homes. Some advancements include solar panels, water conservation/ plumbing, glazing/windows, insulation and high efficiency appliances. Together they can save you a bundle, but if you choose to only do a few that’s ok, little things add up too. As well as indoors, going green outdoors by starting your own garden can benefit you as well. The article will go over ideas that you can do to your home to improve your carbon footprint and save money!

by jamie cooper-anderson

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Within Your Home

Solar panels are classified as two types: photovoltaic and solar thermal. Photovoltaic solar panels convert Photon particles from the sun into electricity. Solar thermal uses heat from the sun to warm water/liquid within pipes. Solar panels are ideal for lowering heat and electricity bills, and their carbon friendliness. Water conservation starts with watching how much water you use. However, toilets and faucets use up more water than you think. There are plumbing advancements such as rainwater collection, water-saving toilets and water storage that can be adapted to save water. Glazing windows is an efficient way to save on your heating bill. If replacing all the windows is to costly, just choosing the rooms that need the most heating and doing those windows can cut cost. Solar windows can also be a great way to save energy. They get coated in a transparent dye that captures and directs the light to photovoltaic cells (like in the solar panels) that then can be used for electricity. Insulation is the most cost effective way to stay warm and lower heating bills. Loft insulation and cavity wall insulation are options to lower your carbon footprint. Heat flows from a warm area to a cold one, so the colder it is outside the faster heat from your home will escape into the surrounding air. Insulation makes it more difficult for

heat to pass up through your roof by providing a layer of material containing air pockets. In an uninsulated home a quarter of your heat is lost through the roof and a third is lost through the walls. Insulating your loft is a simple and effective way to reduce your heating bills and it is one of the simpler jobs to do it yourself. Homes that were built from 1920 onwards have a good chance that their external walls are made of two layers with a small gap or cavity between them, so your cavity wall means filling that gap with a material that traps heat within your house.

Updating to energy efficient appliances is a simpler way to go eco friendly. When checking out new appliances, weigh up both the price and the estimated energy use. You may actually save money by buying the more expensive, energy-efficient models. Ask about special energyblack Energy Guide label attached to the appliance, it states the estimated annual energy consumption of the appliance. This helps you compare the efficiency or annual energy use of different brands and models.

Purchasing a draft stopper is a quick and easy way to keep your specific rooms balanced by stopping the flow of cold air or keeping your air condition from escaping.

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Outside Your Home

For outside of your home, a great way to expand your eco-friendly home is to make a garden. The needs of a garden can be met with natural, non invasive techniques that don’t poison the plant and it’s surroundings.You won’t need a large area to plant an organic garden either, any sized garden plot will lend itself to the TLC of a natural gardener. Even a container garden on your patio can yield healthy, thriving plants without using a single “artificial agent”. Organic gardening is simply a method of growing food and fruit crops in a natural environment, the way our grandparents did it. Also by growing organic food yourself, it is the cheapest and surest way to get pesticide free fruits and vegetables for your family. Start by choosing a spot in

your yard that is sunny, near a water source and has workable soil. Some ways to set up your garden to get the best results are containers or raised beds. Small spaces adapt well to container gardening and the size of containers gives the gardener a higher degree of control over the plant’s environment. The number of options for containers is endless. Be creative! Look at cream cans, water troughs, galvanized tubs, bathtubs, practically anything that’ll hold dirt can be used for container organic gardening. Tips for places to look for unique containers include farm auctions, garage sales, classified ads and e-bay. Why raised beds? Because the soil warms faster, planting and weeding are easier, less water is needed and it’s

Above is a eco friendly kitchen, furnished with energy conserving appliances that run on solar panel energy. The garden pictured is eco friendly as well, with 100% recycable materials.

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easier to keep the soil in the desired condition. Make a raised bed by constructing a rectangle or square (or any shape you wish) out of lumber, brick, stone, landscape ties, anything that can be formed into your desired shape. One of the positive things about a raised bed when planting a garden is that you stay outside it so that the soil doesn’t get trampled down. Our organic gardening tips recommend making beds that are no wider than 4 feet. Beds that are more than 4 feet wide are harder to reach into and you’re more likely to have to get into the bed to tend to your plants. Strategically place stepping stones in these beds and only step in those areas. If you’ll only be able to reach in from one side 30 inches is deep enough. Remove the topsoil from around the outside of the bed and pile it in the bed.

Worth the effort

Building a hoop house is a bit like having children: there’s a lot of pleasure involved with the idea’s conception, but very poor knowledge of the real work involved down the road. A hoop house provides the extra heat units you need to sustain your garden year round. It allows you to have an earlier start, a later finish and lots of extra warmth in between. There are many plans for building a hoop house. A typical size is 12’ x 14’ to a 12’ x 16’. Some of you will cringe with fear when you open up these plans and see that there’s some basic carpentry involved. What you do need is courage, patience and a bit of creativity to deal with the problems that will

inevitably arise as you go along. There will be rips in your plastic, cracks in your joints and (in my part of the world) snowstorms that will try to make your hoop house into a large plastic pancake. Once again, do not worry for most of these problems can be resolved with some clever thinking on your part and several rolls of duct tape. inevitably arise as you go along. There will be rips in your plastic, cracks in your joints and (in my part of the world) snowstorms that will try to make your hoop house into a large plastic pancake. Secure, support and ventilate. Once the plastic is on, your hoop house will catch the wind like an oversized kite. Make sure that the four corner posts are dug deep into the ground. Although the plans below don’t call for it, you could add some additional deeply dug support to the front and back walls. Similarly, if you live in the snowy north it is recommended that you envisage an internal support structure (2-3

Gardens that collect water are beautiful and eco friendly. Designing them can be fun, and the water collected can then be used for watering. Like the one picutred, taking gardens closer to the house and enclosing them is also beautiful. Just make sure you have enough sunlight.

Gardening also has other benefits. It can be a stress reliever for many, as well as a form of exercise. By making it a hobby, you can also meet new people who have the same interests as you.

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More Ways to Go Eco-Friendly • Using a microwave to warm up food instead of an oven can save 50% of energy. • 95% of dishwashers today are energy efficient. Your old dishwasher may cost you more than if you just upgraded to a new one. • Eat by candlelight occasionally, especially in winter when the nights start early.

• Wash your clothes in cold water! Reminder, front loading washers use less power, water and detergent and any appliance that displays the energy star logo has been proven effective in the energy conservation department (studies show that hot water has little benefit.)

Where is your energy going? washer 1%

cooking 8%

Refrigerator/ freezer 15%

lighting 8%

Dishwasher 3%

dryer 8%

AC 12%

misc.5% water heater 40%

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beams supporting the spine will do) before the first snowstorm threatens. Once the snow has fallen, be sure to remove it quickly from the top of your structure to prevent stressing the joints. Finally, a hoop house is for growing plants not for baking bread. If you feel uncomfortably warm inside, then your plants probably do too. Make sure you open it up and allow the air to flow. Another way to save money and resources is using rain water. A rain barrel is a simple green addition to a back yard that ensures you have a supply for your garden. Back yard rain water collecting has a positive effect on your gardens and trees, they just like rainwater better. More

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than that, using rainwater to water plants, trees and gardens can save you up to half of your water expense in the summers. Mulching addresses several issues at the same time - keeping weeds down, adding nutrients to the soil, improving tilth and keeping the moisture in are among them. Adding compost, peat moss, manure or coco coir will improve the drainage and texture of your soil too. Spread a thick layer around each plant after watering. Newspaper and cardboard are recyclable materials that can be added to mulch to supplement while being green. Thicknesses of newsprint under about an inch of soil will work to keep weeds down

and eventually decompose and become part of the soil. Use 2 or more sheets at a time to make a layer between the weed seeds and the surface. As the paper decomposes add another layer. Do not use glossy paper such as magazines. Big pieces of cardboard are easy to cut to size are thick enough to make a good weed barrier and heavy enough to stay where you put them. Placed in the aisles or walkways between plots cardboard keeps weeds down and makes walking around your garden after a rain less mucky.

Zero House

Becoming eco friendly inside and out can be achieved. With a mixture of DIY tasks and professional aid you could save major money. A great example of a 100% green home is The 100% Green House. It was made in Costa Rica by Robles Arquitectos. It is 100% self-sufficient with its utilities. By using water from the forest, it serves as water and a power

source because the flow is directed to two hydroelectric turbines that produce energy. Photovoltaic Solar panels are located on the roof that produce electricity and heat up water. Everything in the house has been designed to be energy efficient and easy to maintain, and all the building materials were tested in order to gauge their impact on the environment.

The house pictured above is 100% green. Houses like this can have energy bills of $0.00. Their designs are modern and focus mainly on having surplus sunlight to utilize the solar energy qualities.

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