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Wednesday, January 21, 2015

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Why Natural Gas is a More Efficient Alternative to Electricity


Hand holding eco house

Homeowners who plan to make the switch to natural gas for some or all of their household needs should consider the various reasons why natural gas is more eco-friendly than electricity in many everyday applications. Taking a look at the differences between gas and electricity in different home applications will make it clear why natural gas is often the greener option.

Stovetop Cooking
Stoves that are powered by natural gas are actually better than electric ones in several ways. For one, the user has more control over the amount of energy actually consumed. An electric stove takes several minutes to reach the optimal temperature for cooking, while a gas stove produces the desired amount of heat instantly. This makes gas stoves more energy efficient than electric ones. Some stoves use a combination of natural gas for cooking, but have an electric pilot light. These stoves ensure that natural gas is not wasted while keeping the pilot continuously lit. Because the Department of Energy estimates that cooking comprises almost 5% of everyday energy consumption, switching to a natural gas powered stove is a more efficient alternative than electricity for stovetop cooking.

Cooling and Refrigeration
Natural gas like that available from plusgas.com.au in Brisbane is one of the only options for off-the-grid refrigeration, and is often used in air conditioning systems. This eco-friendly alternative to electric refrigeration is not considered to have high global warming potential, nor is it believed to have a high risk of causing ozone depletion. These refrigerant systems, called gas absorption refrigerators, do not run on electricity. They are powered by a combination of dry propane and butane.

Home Heating
Natural gas from bottled gas suppliers is the only way some rural areas have access to heat. The technologies used to heat using natural gas can also be used to generate electricity, and this can be an energy efficient way to heat or even power homes that don’t already have access to natural gas pipelines. Combining natural gas with other types of heating systems can reduce emissions significantly.

General Powering
Those who are interested in switching to natural gas, but still want access to electricity, can actually generate their own power using fuel from LPG gas suppliers. Liquid petroleum gas can be used to fuel turbines that generate electricity. While most homes do not produce their own electricity in this way, for those who want to be completely off-the-grid, it is a viable way to produce reliable electrical power. In conjunction with less reliable methods of generating electricity, such as wind power and solar power, bottled gas can be a backup component to create a completely self-sufficient setup that has low emissions and a low carbon footprint.

Homes that switch to natural gas often work directly with liquid petroleum gas suppliers to provide for their own energy needs. LPG gas suppliers provide liquid petroleum gas, often simply referred to as bottled gas. Propane and butane are two of the most common kinds used in all the above mentioned applications. Making the switch to gas often gives homeowners a greater awareness of actual energy consumption within the home, and this can help a household significantly reduce its carbon footprint.

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Tuesday, January 20, 2015

old is new – a roundup of reclaimed and salvaged wood shelves


salvaged fir shelf

Furniture and accessories made of reclaimed or salvaged wood can not only save living trees from the sawmill, but they can add all the inherent character, patina and charm embodied in the old wood to your home’s decor. Here are few select items we’ve uncovered.

This woodsy shelf unit (above) is created from live edge slabs of wood salvaged from forest restoration activities. The tree has been milled, kiln dried, sanded, cavities have been filled and it’s sealed with hard matte wax. Each shelf is priced separately – by Real Wood Works

handmade reclaimed wood shelfbox

If you’re taste runs toward the rustic – this wall-mounted set of boxed shelves (above) will provide a myriad of decorating and presentation possibilities. Handmade entirely of reclaimed wood. A very tasty $99 @ Del Huston Designs   (more…)

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Top Tips for Growing Vegetables and Herbs in the Wintertime


plants and produceAnyone that lives near or drives through rural regions of America is familiar with the barren landscape that appears during the winter months. With the sun’s heat less intense and its appearances few and far between in the American heartland, winter is not the prime growing season for some of the most important crops in the world. Farmers spend this time processing the crops they’ve grown and preparing them for sale and storage.

What about your home garden? Are there any vegetables and herbs you can grow that will survive the lack of sunshine during the winter months? Below you’ll find some helpful tips to grow vegetables and herbs during the winter, both indoors and outdoors.

Best Vegetables to Grow during the Winter
Believe it or not, there are a number of vegetables you can grow throughout the winter months to produce earlier crops than springtime plantings. These vegetables are hardy plants that can deal with the cold temperatures and lack of sunshine during the winter, and are ready to pick in the spring. According to Thompson & Morgan, the following are some of the best winter vegetables:

  • Onions and Shallots: Planting these veggies in the autumn results in quality crops the next year. Both vegetables look after themselves over the winter, meaning less work and attention from you. Keep in mind that onions have a longer growing season, so they won’t be ready until the following summer. Plan accordingly when you plant.
  • Garlic: Garlic is one of the easiest plants to grow. Garlic, like onions, has a long growing season. You’ll need to plan accordingly to enjoy your garlic next year.
  • Peas: This vegetable is a hardy plant that is capable of growing through the tough winter months, and your peas will be ready for harvesting in the spring.
  • Asparagus: It takes several years to establish an asparagus bed that is easily reused each year, but once you do you can enjoy tasty asparagus that is homegrown. Take note though, asparagus can take two years to grow. Once your bed is established though, the plants can produce for up to 25 years. Additionally, the plants can survive through summer and winter growing seasons with ease.

Indoor Herbs and Vegetables
If you lack the space to grow veggies and herbs outdoors, or the faith in outdoor growing during the winter, you can always care for your plants indoors. Off the Grid News identified the following herbs and vegetables as the easiest to grow indoors during the winter months:

  • Basil: The herb requires just four hours of sunlight each day and proper watering to grow indoors during winter. If necessary, you can substitute the four hours of sunlight for 12 hours under a florescent bulb.
  • Rosemary: This herb needs at least six hours of sunlight each day and can, like basil, survive under a florescent bulb when necessary. One key factor: rosemary needs well-drained soil to survive.
  • Chives: A tasty onion-like herb, chives can survive on minimal sunlight throughout the winter and can easily grow under the glow of a florescent bulb.
  • Tomatoes: Larger tomatoes are difficult to grow indoors, but small cherry and windowsill tomatoes are easy to grow inside during the winter. They require just three to four months to reach maturity and provide a vine-ripened taste that cannot be matched at the grocery store.
  • Green beans: This veggie is available in bush and pole varieties. Bush green beans are easier to grow inside. All they require for growth during the winter is a container that drains well, six hours of sunlight, and about three months to mature.

Indoor Growing with a Greenhouse
If you have the space on your property for a greenhouse or other sturdy, outdoor structure, companies like http://www.4patriots.com/ have the supplies you need. Greenhouses range from simply cold-frame structures to full-size glass structures. Depending on the specific structure you purchase and the vegetables and herbs you wish to grow, a greenhouse can include electricity, heat, benches, lighting, and humidity controls.

Establishing a greenhouse on your property allows you to grow your favorite herbs and veggies outdoors throughout the winter, without worrying about their survival. You can start your seeds earlier, grow throughout the year, and enjoy fresh vegetables year round. Consider the following guidelines as you setup your new greenhouse:

  • Heat & Ventilation: The ideal temperature inside a greenhouse is 80 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Many structures capture the sun’s rays for heat, while others use dedicated heaters to provide warmth. Good ventilation includes open doors (or lids on cold frames) on warm days and stand fans, when necessary, to circulate air.
  • Shade cloth: Green shade cloths can help control the temperature inside your greenhouse by blocking the sun’s rays during the day.
  • Humidity: For tropical plants, humidity control in a greenhouse is vital. To generate greater humidity during the winter months, place trays of pebbles with water underneath plants. As the water evaporates, humidity is added to the air surrounding the plants.

With these tips and guidelines, you’ll be able to grow your favorite vegetables and herbs throughout the winter.

Author: Allen Baler is a Partner at 4Patriots LLC, a Tennessee based small business that provides products to help people be more self-reliant and more independent. Allen founded the company in 2008 after 14 years as a corporate executive leading profitable business for the Easton Press and the Danbury Mint. He graduated with honors from Harvard University and resides in Nashville with his wife and 3 daughters.

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Monday, January 19, 2015

Urban Travel – The Moveo Foldable Electric Scooter


moveo electric scooter side

An electric scooter that you can fold up and put away? Meet the MOVEO scooter.

A stylish new addition to the electrical powered transportation movement is the MOVEO scooter. The MOVEO scooter is both electrically powered and foldable making it the perfect transportation solution for urban apartment dwellers who are cramped for space and want to save money on fuel and garage bills. The design for the Moveo foldable scooter originated in 2008 with the Antro Group. In 2011 the scooter surfaced again in Hungary as a third working prototype. In 2012 design patents were granted and fundraising through Jump Start City began. The designers were originally hoping to make the moveo electric scooter foldedscooter available to the public in 2014, but, though the scooter is not currently for sale, you can place a pre-order in hopes that when they are available you can score one. I couldn’t find a final price but gizmag estimates that depending on the amount raised, a scooter will cost between $3,100 to $4,600.

What really makes the MOVEO scooter so neat is that it can be folded up to resemble luggage and rolled indoors or placed in a trunk. This is a great option for people who don’t have a parking space and need to make the occasional trip to the store or cross town. Students living on campus can keep one in their dorm room, apartment owners can stash one in the closet and commuters can have one in their car that they can unfold and use once they have parked.

moveo e-scooter

Here are some stats on the MOVEO scooter,

  • MOVEO’s maximum load is 110 kg or about 242 pounds.
  • Rider height can be between 4.8 to 6.39 feet.
  • Range on a single charge is about 22 miles; with an additional battery pack the extended range is about 43 miles.
  • Maximum speed is about 28 miles per hr.
  • Charge time from empty to full is one hour.
  • The scooter has a carbon composite monocoque body and is lightweight at 55 lbs.
  • MOVEO Has a 700 Wh lithium-ion phosphate battery.
  • 2 wheel drive with front and rear brakes.

foldable electric scooter

The scooter will feature an optional smart phone display and docking that you can add on along with an extra battery for longer trips. This no mess foldable scooter is a space savers dream, stylish and an innovative product. Hopefully it will hit retail markets soon.

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Saturday, January 17, 2015

5 Ways Your Home Could Be Making You Miserable


green home

Most people may never think of their home as the cause of being miserable both mentally and physically. Your environment plays a pivotal role in your daily lifestyle, and disruptions in that environment can come from unlikely sources. However, there are methods that can help you improve your daily routine as long as you can identify the causes of your discomfort. What aspects of the home can directly impact how you function throughout the day?

Dust in the Air
Not everyone is immune to various particulates circulating in the air. Many people are allergic to dust and some don’t even realize the problem. Not being able to breath properly can affect everything from sleeping patterns to physical complications. Furnace filters and carpets that hold dust particles could be causing a great deal of your discomfort.

Mold Spores
Dust isn’t the only thing that can affect you that is airborne. Mildews and molds could be growing in carpet padding and walls wreaking havoc on your lungs. For asthmatics, this could cause everything from cold like symptoms to severe complications leading to an emergency room visit.

Clutter
Many studies have shown that people can be affected by the tidiness of their environment. The more haphazard and cluttered a room, the greater the stress level within a particular individual. Some people can go so far as to having an acute anxiety attack or feel claustrophobic due to a messy home.

Lack of Sunlight
For a lot of people, a lack of direct sunlight can cause severe cases of anxiety and cabin fever. While there are some people that prefer the dark, others thrive when there is a regular supply of sunlight coming into the home.

Temperatures
It has been found that 72 degrees Fahrenheit is an ideal temperature to keep people productive in both school and at work. It only stands to reason that temperature variations could be causing distress in the home. Many people are directly affected by climate, and you could be experiencing discomfort on an emotional level should your home be too hot or too cold.

Organic cleaners and compounds are not solely for those looking to save the environment. They can be used to promote a non-allergenic solution that can help you breath better throughout the day. When looking for a carpet cleaner in Brooklyn, find out if they offer solutions that can improve your lifestyle. Why add to your complications with toxic chemicals from cleaning methods? Your environment directly affects your mental state.

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Friday, January 16, 2015

Eco-Fashion Friday Finds: keeping it organic


In a world obsessed with profit margins and mass production it falls to the hearty consumer to determine which products and raw materials flourish. With that in mind, we strenuously endorse the use and proliferation of all things organic, including fashions created with organic and sustainable fibers.

organic cotton hemp cowlneck tunic

This super casual chunky kaftan tunic (above) is made of a combo of organic fibers – organic cotton and hemp. The tunic can be worn as a mini-dress or a hooded cape. Super versatile, hand-dyed, warm and cozy. $125 from Gaia Conceptions

organic cotton octopus sweatshirt

Here’s an organic cotton “Octopus” sweatshirt for all you multi-tasking ladies out there who feel like they are always doing eight things at once. $55 from Revival Ink who specialize in the design and creation of “artistic eco apparel”.

eileen fsher organic cotton knit jacket

The sleek Moto Jacket (above) from Eileen Fisher is made of a 90% organic cotton and 10% lycra mix. $198 @ nordstrom.com

organic cotton girls sasha dress

Something for the burgeoning green fashionista – the Sasha Heart skirt in organic cotton sateen is a great little skirt for the young girl headed for an important birthday party, sleep-over or school function. The dress features a lovely heart design and an elastic waist. $40 from Jessica Braum and HepiPrints

And one more thing… pesticides, fertilizer run-off / pollution as well ans GMO’s and vast fields of mono-plantings are causing all manner of harm to us and the planet. Time to buy smart and organic.

related: more eco-fashion finds from The Alternative Consumer

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