Eco-Friendly Home Improvements for Any Budget

It is good that people are becoming more aware of the demands of everyday living that is charged on our planet’s fossil fuel supply. Unfortunately, as much as they would want to, embracing an eco-friendly home to help the environment cope and furnish the limited energy supply available costs quite a bundle. It is an investment that some homeowners would rather skip than forego their other expenses.

The end may be attractive. That is, saving on energy costs in the long run while helping out the environment. But the means are quite a challenge to adhere to. Home improvement projects that make your abode into an eco-friendly one may require a good amount of time, expertise, and yes, money.

But then again, you can start on small, inexpensive projects. You can take baby steps in order to cut your heating and cooling costs and other energy demands considerably. We have scouted for five home improvement projects that fit into almost any budget.

1. Perform a home energy audit. It all starts in knowing what your home is lacking to become more energy-efficient. Perform a thorough inspection, looking out for air leaks, sites lacking insulation, electrical system efficiency, and the use of your appliances. You can do this on your own or you can ask a professional inspector to make a high tech assessment of the energy weak points in your household. This is the ideal first step towards turning it all around.

2. Fill the gaps. Air leaks increase your heating and cooling requirements. If you ensure that your windows and doors are of the perfect fit, you can easily control the energy requirement on a daily basis. Even the air leaks around your electrical outlets and switches must be properly sealed. Caulking and other simple techniques can properly control the airflow in your home. If you have the money, you may upgrade your windows and doors into well-fitting units to ensure that gaps will not be a problem.

3. Reflective insulation. This is one low cost home upgrade you could not miss. Remember that the effect of the sun on your home’s temperature does not stop at the openings like the windows and gaps. It is also about how well your home heats up as the temperature in the outside climbs high. This can be resolved through reflective insulation, which was brilliantly designed to control the amount of radiation that passes through your walls and roofs. You may combine reflective insulation with other techniques, including thermal insulation and the use of blown fill and rigid sheets.

4. Plant trees strategically. You might be surprised but choosing native plants and placing trees strategically in your lawn can help you save a lot of money on your energy bills. Change the landscape of your garden so you will not require much for a lawn care budget and the use of lawn mowers, which requires a chunky amount of fossil fuels.

5. Improve your home’s water heating capacity. There are a couple of options to do this. You may opt for tankless water heaters or you can simply ensure that your water heater is appropriate for your water heating demands.

Understanding Climate Change

The temperature of the Earth is rising. This is a statement heard time and time again from the media, environmentalists and organizations that are advocates of the green movement. They constantly urge governments and the people to do something about the phenomenon and warm about its dire consequences. But what really is climate change?

The Earth’s atmosphere is designed to trap the sun’s heat, which helps to warm the all landmasses and water bodies. This warmth is vital in the proper functioning of all ecosystems in the planet. If you were to separate the components of the atmosphere, you would find out that part of it is composed of greenhouse gases, which are mainly responsible for creating the trapping mechanism that keeps the Earth warm.  However, for the past century, man has caused large amounts of pollutants to be released into the atmosphere. These pollutants have added to the greenhouse gases already present, thereby causing to Earth to become warmer. According to studies, the most abundant air pollutants are carbon and methane.

Scientists tell us that the planet is indeed getting warmer. In fact, it has done so for the past century. According to experts, the average temperature of the Earth has increased by 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit for the past one hundred years. It is continuing to rise and will do so for the next century by another two to eleven degrees Fahrenheit.

To the average person like you or me, such a minute temperature increase over a lengthy period of time might not seem all that bad. However, even such small changes can have drastic effects globally. For one, warmer weather causes fiercer and more severe storms to develop; not to mention more frequent droughts and icy cold winters. The very warm summers that have been observed in the past years have resulted in the melting of polar ice both in the Arctic and Antarctic. This, in turn, has caused sea levels to rise, affecting the millions of people around the globe who reside in coastal areas. Moreover, this will also change the existing coastal ecosystems. A very sobering scientific forecast indicates that by the year 2050, sea levels would have risen by almost half a meter, resulting in over a hundred million people to be affected by floods.

Climate change also impacts seasons and rainfall. It is common knowledge that plants and food crops depend on these seasons and rainfall to grow properly. A change in the seasonal patterns as well as the amount of rainfall will affect global food security.

The consequences of climate change or global warming is certainly dire. However, because it is a phenomenon caused by human intervention, it can also be mitigated through the same means. Carbon is the major pollutant that adds to the greenhouse gases, mainly caused by the burning of fossil fuels. Hence, to reduce the amount of carbon in the atmosphere and the resulting climate change, the emission of carbon must be reduced in the first place. For this reason, there is a need to conserve energy in order to minimize the use of fossil fuels. Alternatively, you can also plant trees that help absorb the carbon dioxide that is present in the air.

Climate change is a problem that has a global impact. Because it affects everyone, you need not wait for your government to act. You can do your part right now by living a responsible lifestyle that is conscious of conserving energy and caring for the environment.

Simple Ways You Can Do to Reduce Global Warming

The idea of global warming reduction might be so big that you can’t think of ways in which you can contribute to it. However, even if this seems like a very big issue, the truth is that you can contribute in your small ways. This article will discuss some of the tips that you can follow to reduce global warming:

• Don’t use regular light bulbs. Instead, use fluorescent lights or LED lights. When you replace one light bulb running at 60 watts, you can save up to $30 in terms of its life span. Also, you will reduce your electric bills. Not only will you help save energy, you will also benefit from the overall cost reduction in the end. In fact, if every family in the US alone will avoid using regular light bulbs, 90 billion pounds of greenhouse gases will be eliminated.

• Don’t drive too often. Obviously, when you drive, you contribute in smoke emission. Therefore, if you drive less, you contribute less to air pollution. If possible, you can look for other ways to reach to your destination without necessarily driving. You can walk or use a bike. Not only will you save fuel, you also get to exercise your body. Also, you can utilize public vehicles such as trains or buses.

• Use heating and air conditioning devices less. In extreme weather conditions, this seems impossible. However, you can do something to avoid their use. You can insulate your walls and attic. You can also install weather strips around doors and windows. Aside from reducing the need for using these devices, you also save a lot in terms of your electric bills. By simply setting your thermostat 2 degrees higher or lower depending on the weather, you can save up to 2,000 pounds of carbon dioxide in a year.

• Choose energy-efficient products over other products. This applies when choosing card, appliances and lighting systems. You should also avoid products that are non-recyclable. At least some of its part must be recycled so you can still sell them even if the item is no longer in use.

• Don’t patronize products with “excess packaging”. This means that you avoid products covered with unnecessary plastic. In doing this, you can reduce your garbage at home by up to 10%.

• Help conserve water and energy by switching everything off when not in use. When going out of the house, turn off the lights and all other electrical devices. When brushing your teeth, just open the faucet when needed. When you are not charging your devices, unplug the charger.

Yes, the issue of global warming is so huge and may not necessarily be solved in a short time. In fact, given our current ways, the problem has gotten worse. However, no matter how small your contribution is, it still means something. If you start doing these ways and inspire others to do the same, there could be huge positive results eventually. If you can start now and everyone else will, there will come a time when global warming will no longer be an issue.

Want To Help The Environment? Then Take Your College Courses Online

Online learning graphicOnline courses carry a number of benefits for students. Their popularity has made higher education a much more possible proposition in recent years. Even students far-removed from physical classrooms or who have schedules that keep them away from traditional education can get the education and course credit they want. What doesn’t get the same amount of spotlight, however, is that online courses can be greatly beneficial for the environment, as well. The following are some examples of why this is the case.

Transportation

The first and most obvious benefit is that taking classes online exempts you from any need for transportation. You can take online classes from the comfort of your own home, coffee shop of choice, or even out on the road. This means no fuel consumption. Any time spent in an online class is time that is spent without a morning drive or a commute.

More sweepingly, this also means more time other people don’t spend on the road, too. Everyone in an online class works on the same terms, including the instructor and the other students. This also goes for all of the people that would normally staff the class. It takes all of that fuel consumption off the table at a time. It’s much more efficient, overall.

Power Usage

The lack of a need for a classroom does more than just eliminate travel time. It also takes the ramifications of keeping a classroom functioning off the table. Classrooms need energy to run. The centralized infrastructure of a school environment takes more upkeep than a number of individual homes; it’s more efficient to distribute power to 200 homes and home offices than it is to keep a single full-sized classroom working.

Paper Usage

This extends to paper usage as well. Classrooms take a lot of paper. Between textbooks, papers for tests and quizes and paper used for notes, a lot of raw paper goes into stocking a classroom fora traditional physical class. Online courses are much more likely to utilize digital textbooks, however, and they can often be entirely paperless. The only necessary paper expenditure for an online class is administrative, and that’s a much easier outcome.

Larger Class Size Matters

Online classes are much more impersonal, and many people consider this a downside to them, but the fact is that online classes can scale up much more than traditional classes can. When there’s no concern about keeping everyone in the same room or fostering face-to-face communication, it becomes a lot easier to cater to hundreds of students at a time. Signing up for an online course supports online courses as a whole. This encourages schools to continue deploying them, and it means you’re helping keep more students taking online classes, too‚ all of which are better for the environment.

Limitations in Course Offering?

Let’s face it we are now a digital society. Gone are the days where you just HAD to take training courses in a classroom. Don’t be fooled, almost anything you want to train for can be done online. Want to become a phlebotomist – there are online courses for that. Want to become a zoologist – yeah, there’s courses for that. Want to learn to operate a forklift safely – your guessed it, there are online courses for you to learn from. Bottom line is that anything you can learn in a classroom you can learn online AND you will benefit the earth.

There are a lot of good reasons to take an online course. Individuals concerned about the welfare of the environment can be proud of how much more efficient their online classes are when compared to attending traditional classes. Traditional classes in physical classrooms will always have their place, but the benefits of online classes to the environment cannot be denied.

How Oil Refineries Hurt The World

Oil refinery spitting out harmful chemicals and pollutantsThere are several modern companies and manufacturing plants that are hurting the world that we live in. However, none of these companies and plants can hold a candle to oil refineries. These oil refineries are slowly polluting the Earth and causing massive damage to the world that we live in. This is why there is such a push to find a way to power our world without the use of fossil fuels.

How Oil Refineries Work

Oil refineries first drill the oil from the ground, and then process this into acceptable forms of oil for the world to utilize. The entire production process can affect the Earth as the drilling is not considered a natural way to work with the Earth, since it can cause massive problems. In addition, the actual refining of the oil is very dangerous. Each year there are accidents caused by oil refineries that explode or leak substances into the environment.

The Effects of Oil Refineries

There are several affects that oil refineries have on the Earth. These include:

1. The drilling process leaves parts of nature completely ruined as the drilling process is long and intense. The wildlife and sea life of the area in which drilling has occurred often no longer have the home that they knew since drilling ruins it.
2. The process of refining the oil is going to be dangerous. Those who do this are exposed to high amounts of chemicals and pollutants that they breathe in. This is why a number of people who work in oil refineries have lung problems and develop cancer later in life.
3. The explosions of an oil refinery plant leaks even more smog and pollutants into the air
4. While the oil is being refined, the smoke that is released from these companies are very damaging to the atmosphere. In fact, oil refineries are considered to be one of the biggest pollutants in the entire world.
5. Those who live near oil refineries, who are just residents in a town, are more prone to asthma, and breathing difficulties. The wildlife in the area is also affected, and often results in deaths among all the animals.

How to Help

There are several ways in which people are trying to help with the damage that these oil refineries are doing. For example:

- Pushing for more legislation that is going to dictate that these companies have to use better safety precautions
- Pushing for more technology that is going to help eliminate the use of oils in everyday life, such as alternative energy sources and the like

You can do your part as well. If you were to lessen your demand on oil, then you are doing a great thing for the world. In addition, helping to support the alternative energies that are being developed is a great way to lower the demand for oil. Overall, if something is not done to help with the damage that oil refineries are producing, a person will find that this world is not going to be the same in a hundred years or so. Meaning that future generations will have to pay the price.

The Need To Keep Our Earth’s Rainforests’ Intact

Pretty waterfall in the rain forestThere is a lot of hype out there about doing your best to save the environment. In particular, many groups are advocating that the rainforests need to be preserved for future generations and the actions of those now are affecting whether this will happen or not. The question that many people wonder is just why the rainforest needs to be protected? Many people view this as if the rainforest were removed then there would be more level grounds for building and the like. However, the rainforest is one of those areas that is still not completely one hundred percent studied or understood. Thus, getting rid of the rainforest could be one of the worse decisions that the world could make.

Reasons to Keep the Rainforest Intact

There are several reasons to keep the rainforest intact, and those who study these reasons will see that this could mean the difference between having a life full of wonder and help, and having nothing to rely on. The reasons for keeping the rainforest are:

1. There are many unidentified plants that are located within the rainforest. These plants could be a way to beat cancer for all we know. Through tearing down the rainforest you are preventing these plants from being found, plus taking away their nature habitat.
2. Many species of animals live within the rainforest that are protected and near extinction. Taking a natural habitat away from any animal is going to result in this animal not doing so well in the world.
3. The rainforest is full of trees that are helping to keep the air clean of toxins and make it more breathable for those who are near. Removing trees is never seen as a good decision since it can mean lowering the quality of air in the area.

With this being said, probably the biggest reason that many people utilize to point out that the rainforest needs to be kept intact is that we do not fully understand all that it can give the world, nor all that it currently does to make our world the place that it is. Several medicines are already made from plants that come from the rainforest, thus it can lead many people to believe that there could be unidentified ways in which the rainforest can help.

What You Can Do

If you find that the reasons for helping to ensure the rainforest survives for another fifty years are important, then you need to do all that you can do to help. One of the first things you can do is to educate people and let them know that the rainforest needs protecting. The more people that know this, the more help that there will be to keep the rainforest safe. Secondly, look at ways in which you can cut back on the amount of trash and debris that you put into the environment, as these are things that can cut down on the rainforest being able to naturally provide for itself. Overall, if you take a stand and let others know your feelings, you will find that many people are ready to get on board with your plan.

How Solar Panels Can Help Save The Earth

A row of solar panels sitting under the hot sunThere has been a lot of interest in solar panels recently, as more and more people are looking at how these can be incorporated into their homes and other areas in their lives to ensure that they are getting the most out of their power usage. Solar panels are meant to use the Sun as a way to power things, such as lights and the like within home and businesses. There are even car manufacturers who are looking at these solar panels as a way to power cars in order to lessen the dependency upon fossil fuels.

Solar Panels Equals Unlimited Power

The great aspect about solar panels is that they are a power source that is literally unlimited as to how much power they can supply. Because solar panels rely on the Sun, that means that as long as the Sun shines, a person can have power. This is one of the reasons why solar panels are considered to be the safest form of energy to use when you want to ensure that you are keeping the Earth as it is, without causing damage. The Sun is organic, meaning that you are not hurting anything through using these solar panels.

Solar Panel Energy is Clean Energy

The whole idea of saving the Earth revolves around clean energy. Energy that is found from power plants is dirty energy as what goes into making this energy pollutes the atmosphere and adds to the greenhouse effect that many people are trying to reverse or at least halt. Since solar panels provide power from an organic source, there are no harmful fumes or the like being released into the atmosphere.

Solar Panels and You

There are many ways in which you can incorporate the use of solar panels in your home. In fact, you may already have some of these in your home. A simple calculator utilizes solar energy in order to power the calculator up, and this is something that most every home has. It is a small example of solar panels, but nonetheless, it is still a form of clean and unlimited energy. For those who are serious about solar panels, there are a few things that they can do:

1. Install solar panels onto your home as these can help to power things like lights, and other aspects in the home that use electric
2. Invest into solar panel research as this is a great way to show your support and allow scientists and engineers to have more funds to develop new and better methods for using this in the world
3. Buy products that utilize solar panels as their energy source

Solar panels are a not a new invention, as there have been solar panels used for many years. However, it is just now becoming something in which the common person can place on their home to help with their energy usage. Without a doubt, solar panels will become more popular and this is just another way in which everyone is chipping in to help the world that we live in.

Why The Environment Matters