Sunday, July 29, 2012

Pictures from Saturday's AntiFracking Rally !

Beat the Heat: Cover the Skylight

I love the solar tubes that I have in my house....but as I've tried to keep my electricity bill under control this summer, I have noticed how much heat they bring into my house. To reduce the heat, I'm covering them with some paper or cloth.  This will allow some light to still come in.  You can buy shades designed to cover skylights.  OR..why not cover it with a favor piece of material or work of art...or even wrapping paper. It will give your ceiling a new look...and give your electricity bill some welcome relief!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Beating the Heat: lower the temp on your hot water heater!

It's baaaaack!  Yes, after a wonderful weekend reprieve from the high temps, the DC forecast says the high will be 100 degrees on Monday!  So, in a continuing effort to keep the house cool without breaking the bank.....lower the temperature on your hot water heater! I bet you won't even notice the difference...but your house will. Most hot water heaters are set at 140 degrees..when 120...or even less the summertime is just fine!  (I adjusted mine with a screwdriver in less than 2 minutes and can't tell the difference). Plus, lowering your water heater temperature by 10 degrees will save between 3-5% of your energy costs. Check out this website for more info:

Monday, July 16, 2012

Dealing with the Heat: forgo the clothes dryer

Minimize the use of your clothes dryer and other large machines that generate heat to a minimum. In addition to generating heat, every dryer contributes about a ton of carbon to the atmosphere every year. In this heat, let the sun take care of drying your clothes. They'll dry in a pinch whether they're hung inside or out, and they'll last longer as clothes dryers are hard on clothes. There are a wide variety of drying racks and clothes lines available. If you dont have outdoor access, hang clothes around the house on the backs of chairs and on door knobs or in a window or just string a piece of twine between two walls. Even towels will dry in a pinch in this heat...and you'll keep your house cooler by not heating it up with all that dryer heat!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Dealing with the Heat: Shade it!

Studies show that 10-30% of cooling and heating bills is due to leakages around windows and doors.  Window shades and blinds can reduce the amount of heat that enters your house and keep the cooling bills down. I found some great honeycombed pull-down shades online at JCPenny.  They were a cinch to install, stylish, and reasonably priced. Even opaque shades will cut down on some of the heat so you don't have to opt for the full blackout effect.  And if you're on a budget, hanging a sheet or blanket over your windows will work in a pinch!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Keeping cool...and green during Summer's Heat: Fans are Fab!

It looks like DC's headed for another heatwave with temps this next week headed towards 100 degrees. Over the next few days, I'll be posting ways to keep your house cool and green without spending an arm and a leg.

Keep air moving with fans.  Even if you have A/C, ceiling fans and box fans can keep air moving through your house, and let you keep your A/C at a higher setting.     If you don't have AC, set a box fan (securely) in an window and let it catch some additional breeze.  If you're really hot, let the air of a standing fan blow across a bowl of ice. With ceiling fans, since hot air rises, the fan should rotate counter-clockwise in the summer to help keep the hot air higher.  Look for fans that have an Energy Star rating.


Thursday, July 5, 2012

Where to Buy Local Fruits and Vegetables

How many tomatoes do you see here?
Our household is on "tomato watch" - anxiously awaiting the reddening of this season's first tomato (the little ones don't count).  Until my bounty comes in, I'm trying to buy as local as I can.  The Washington Post read my mind and published this handy-dandy map of Farmer's Markets complete with location, hours and length of season, and a contact person.  That said, when shopping at a Farmer's Market, here are a few rules:
  • If you're trying to buy local, ASK where the goods came from.  Foods with stickers on them were most likely bought at a nearby grocery store before they came to your farmer's market...and the price of the goods was likely hiked up along the way.
  • If you're trying to buy local, think about what you're buying. Avocados (unfortunately) don't grow here.  Neither do oranges.  But some of that fresh corn from southern Maryland will go down like sweet butter this time of year..and tomatoes are just around the corner!
  • "Natural" doesn't mean "organic" ...but not all farmers can afford to go through the organic labeling process.  Again, if you're concerned about pesticide use on your fruits and vegetables, ask your farmer.  S/he should know...and if they don't...or they hedge on an answer, it's not a great sign.
  • Even supermarkets are picking up on the "locavore" trend!  Trader Joe's was advertising local produce the other day (though they still wrapped the tomatoes in plastic.  Stop that, please!)
Most of all, enjoy the delicious fresh goods of this summer.  It's a great time of year to eat right!