Tag Archives | green home

3 Eco-Friendly Home Improvement Projects That Boost The Value Of Your Home

When it comes to home improvements, many people seem hesitant to commit to projects that require a substantial investment. However, there are a number of renovations and improvements that not only increase the value of your home but serve as eco-friendly solutions as well. Here are just a few sustainable home improvement projects that can increase the value of your home.

Roofing

Your home’s roof is obviously a critical component of its structural integrity. If you’re in the market for a new roof, consider opting for one of the many eco-friendly roofing materials available. New metal roofs, for example, may contain anywhere from 30% to 60% of recycled metal content and are 100% recyclable at the end of their service lives. Plus, while a traditional asphalt shingle roof has an average lifespan of 12 to 20 years, metal roofs can last between 40 and 70 years when properly installed and maintained.

Another eco-friendly benefit of metal roofing? Its energy-efficiency. Metal roofs have a unique cooling quality that allows them to reflect radiant heat from the sun. This can reduce energy costs by between 10% and 25%.

Plumbing

Many homeowners are uneasy about the idea of messing with their home’s plumbing system, but tankless water heaters have a number of eco-friendly benefits. Tankless water heaters are extremely efficient. They use only the energy necessary to heat the amount of water that you’re using, unlike tank heaters which heat several gallons of water at a time. A tankless water heater and can save you as much as a 20% on your energy bills.

“Tankless units (also called “on demand” units) heat water only when you turn on the faucet,” explains Family Handyman. “They usually operate on natural gas or propane. The main advantage is that they eliminate the extra cost of keeping 40 to 50 gallons of water hot in a storage tank, so you waste less energy.”

Furthermore, How Stuff Works says that tankless water heaters typically come with a federal tax rebate of $300. Considering the fact that they can last up to 10 years longer than traditional tanks, they’re certainly an investment worth looking into.

Countertops

Finally, natural stone countertops are a sleek and eco-friendly alternative to traditional materials. In fact, of the 93% of homeowners who are updating countertops during a kitchen renovation, the majority are choosing natural stone materials. They don’t require as much energy to produce since they’re all-natural, and they’re incredibly durable and long-lasting. They don’t stain, can withstand hot temperatures, and are almost impossible to scratch.

Homeowners that value individuality as much as sustainability will also be pleased to hear that natural stone countertops are one-of-a-kind. Their natural qualities and unique markings make them a warm and welcoming addition to any home.

Ultimately, these are just three of the countless eco-friendly home improvement projects that increase the value of your home. Never be afraid to experiment with any number of sustainable solutions, and most of all, don’t ever think your efforts don’t make a difference. Each and every eco-friendly home improvement project is another step toward a sustainable future.

7 Sustainable Ways to Welcome Fall with Your Family

7 Sustainable Ways to Welcome Fall with Your Family Jennie Lyon

Fall is my favorite time of year, it seems like we start to slow-down as family and spend more time reconnecting with each other. Since the days get shorter and it gets dark outside so much earlier, we really focus that time on family time. This is the time of year that our bowl on the dinner table gets filled with card games and brain teasers, and our nightly dinners get dragged out by long conversations and hot steamy beverages for dessert!

It is also the perfect opportunity to go green together as a family. To get you in the autumn mood, while getting your excited about sustainability, check out my 7 favorite eco-friendly ways to welcome fall.

1. Make it Family Dinner Night
One of my favorite fall family traditions is to have make-your-own organic pizza night a few times a month. There is something fun about kneading the dough, cutting up vegetables and pulling hot vegetarian pizza’s from the oven. We like to make ours look like sweet, smiling faces and it always ends in a night of laughter and fun!

2. Green Your Overall Health
Fall is the perfect time to amp up your healthy lifestyle before winter hits – because with winter comes sniffles, colds and the flu. You can start by boosting your immunity, packing healthy, organic school lunches, adding some super-foods to your marketing list and by doing a whole-body cleanse. You want to stay healthy through all of the fun fall and winter holidays, right?

3. With Fall comes Leaves, Lots of Them
When it comes to the leaves that fall in your yard, the way that you dispose of them can have a huge impact on the environment. The best options would be to mulch them and use them as ground cover for your garden. The worse option would be to blow them around with a noisy, emission polluting leaf blower. If you want to have fun with leaves, consider making leaf prints for your family room or you can always jump in piles of them.

4. Enjoy Your Natural Environment
One of my favorite ways to enjoy a lovely fall day with my family is by taking a bike ride. In fact, I think we should take our bicycles on our fall family trip to this year. Another fun thing to do this time of year is to visit your local botanical garden – you could try one of these surprising ways to make it a day of full of fall fun.

5. Prepare for Winter
Before you know it, winter will be here – and fall is the perfect time to prepare. When we lived in Colorado, I liked to stock up on non-perishable organic goods so we didn’t have to go marketing as often. It is also a great time to weather-proof your doors, windows and prepare your garden for the cold, winter ahead. I also like to think of fun ways to cozy up our home – this usually means bringing out stacks of books, blankets and pillows and sipping hot organic tea and cocoa.

6. Green Your Halloween
Whether you are making plans to make your own Halloween costumes, decorations or you want to turn your home into the ultimate eco-friendly haunted house– now is the time to get started. We like to scour our local thrift stores and tag sales for fantastic Halloween decor well before the holiday. It always gets us in the mood for Halloween and when the holiday actual gets here, we are completely ready!

7. Go Local 
In Florida, our farmer’s market season starts at the beginning of October – which is the perfect time to stock up on those yummy fall vegetables. I love when the mister whips up a batch of one of his fantastic soups during the fall months using local vegetables from the farmer’s market. And pumpkins from the farmer’s market, oh my, they are my favorite. If you live in a cooler climate that doesn’t offer a farmer’s market during fall, consider joining your local food co-op.

How do you welcome fall with your family?

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Hello Friends!

Can you believe the holidays are officially here? I am super excited! We kicked off the holiday season last night making pies as a family and watching a Charlie Brown Thanksgiving. So fun. Today, Eben and I spent the morning getting our home ready and putting together the tablescape. We think it turned out pretty great! We are calling it a success.  The mister does all of the cooking and we are drooling over all of the amazing smells and sights coming from the kitchen. Yay!

I hope you have an amazing Thanksgiving Day full of family, friends and amazing food! I hope you get to spend the weekend doing whatever makes you smile (relaxing, sleeping in, reading a great book, shopping or like us, heading to the beach!)

Happy Thanksgiving!
Sweet Greens

Healthy Habits for Green Kids Start at Home

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As parents, the most important lessons we can impress upon our kids are the sorts of healthy habits that will stick with them throughout life, especially once they’re off on their own for the first time. Healthy lifelong habits can include eating well and exercising, but also extend to things like keeping their living space clean and following good hygiene practices. Today I want to talk about the latter, as no parent wants to see their kid end up as a stereotypically smelly, unkempt teenager!

Of course, kids have to be given freedom to explore their identities and express themselves creatively with their clothing and hair choices. I think it’s only natural for kids developing their sense of self to explore those avenues. But good hygiene is simpler than that, and important for everyone. Teaching kids to maintain healthy habits and take good care of their bodies starts at home, and is something the mister and I have tried to approach in a positive way.

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Personal hygiene is also an area fraught with marketing campaigns (some of which rely on shaming tactics or other nasty approaches to selling their products) surrounding the products we supposedly need to use in order to keep clean. Many of these are full of synthetic scents, untested ingredients, or are otherwise not very eco-friendly, being tested on animals or produced in unsustainable ways. So even our choices of hygiene products can be a big influence on our kids, and what they choose to use in the future. One of my favorite brands of natural personal hygiene products is Tom’s of Maine, who never use artificial colors, flavors, fragrances, preservatives, or animal testing.

You’ve probably seen Tom’s at your local drug store or grocery, and they’ve been around since the ‘70s. I would bet that they’re the most recognizable brand of natural body products around today, not just relegated to health stores or other specialty retailers. I think Tom’s of Maine is great because they aim to operate sustainably and care for both the environment and the communities we live in.

I would say that three of the most important hygiene habits to build with your kids are the following:

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Brushing Teeth: Keeping teeth and gums in good shape is important to overall health and maintaining good breath. It can also be a task which kids (especially young ones) are more likely to shirk or do a half-hearted job of. Being a good role model by brushing and flossing with your children can go a long way to building good dental hygiene habits. Tom’s makes a wide range of oral care products including all-natural toothpaste that my family loves using.

Washing Up: Whether we’re talking regular hand washing to prevent the spread of germs, washing your face each day to help with teenage skin concerns, or getting active kids into the shower to rinse off sweat and dirt after they’ve been out playing, washing up is a huge part of personal hygiene.

Using Deodorant: This one can be a little more controversial, as depending on how you were raised, you might not think of deodorizing products as a necessity. However, in modern society they’re a pretty prevalent part of personal hygiene, and even if you choose not to use antiperspirants due to health concerns, a simple, natural deodorant is a good choice. Tom’s is probably best known for their extensive line of natural deodorants, for men, women, and children. If you’re looking for a healthy, natural deodorant, I don’t think these ones can be beat. My whole family uses them, and we’ve been really impressed by the quality and effectiveness.

I’d love to hear your tricks for helping your kids develop healthy hygiene habits, or your experiences trying natural body products. Have you successfully swapped your conventional hygiene products for eco-friendlier options? How do you teach your kids about the importance of taking good care of their bodies? Have you tried any Tom’s of Maine products that I haven’t mentioned? Let me know in the comments!

 

This post was created in partnership with Stonyfield.  All opinions are always my own.

Reduce your Home Heating with a Hybrid Heating System

Reduce your Home Heating with a Hybrid Heating System

The eco-minded are always on the hunt for ways to reduce consumption. Hybrid heating systems are a really interesting way to lower consumption and your home heating bill at the same time. It’s an interesting concept, particularly the way that the automation does the eco watching for you.

Most of us choose either an electric heat pump or a gas boiler to heat our homes. However, the new hybrid systems are an intriguing fresh option. A Hybrid heat system reacts to changing temperatures and automatically adjusts to the most efficient energy saving method available to heat (or cool) a home. It combines a furnace with a heat pump, rather than an air conditioner and it’s very much a fuel-saving alternative to traditional heating and cooling systems.

Electric and gas each have some benefits, but there are drawbacks that make it difficult to ensure you have a truly energy-efficient heating system in your home. At lower temperatures, gas boilers are more efficient than electric heat pumps. However, when you only need a small boost in heat, the electric heat pump uses less energy than firing up the entire boiler for just a short period of time. The new hybrid solution gives you the best of both the gas and the electric worlds.

An example of a hybrid solution is the Daikin Altherma hybrid heat pump. It has new technology that automatically selects the most energy efficient method for heating your home. It automatically evaluates the outdoor temperature and your heating demands and switches between either the electric heat pump or your gas boiler.

Unlike the human brain, which is easily distracted and forgetful, these new solutions do the thinking for you, and these hybrids provide options for you that you wouldn’t have in a normal system. They make the shift between electric and gas to optimize for the most eco – and economical – settings for your home.

When the temperature is mild, the heat pump is more than sufficient to heat your home without the need to fire up the boiler. Once the outside temperature drops to a chillier season, the boiler begins to provide additional heating. When the outside temperature gets very low, the boiler operates alone. The system always conserves energy by providing the most efficient heat for the current conditions.

It’s gratifying to see that in some parts of the world, governments are recognizing and rewarding the environmental benefits of innovations like these new hybrid heating systems. In the UK, there’s a Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) that pays residents who switch to hybrid systems 7.3p/kWh for each unit of renewable heat that they produce. (But UK residents, take note: you’re only eligible if you have your Daikin Altherma hybrid heat pump or another similar hybrid system installed by an MCS accredited installer such as Calor.)

I hope that we’ll continue to hear about new environmentally-conscious technology like these hybrid heating systems from lpg suppliers. It reminds me of cars that use both a conventional internal combustion engine and also a high voltage electric motor.

Have you got a hybrid system in your home? How do you like the system? I’d love to hear about it!