Monday, September 29, 2008
As we all know, running your dishwasher consumes energy, water, and perhaps most importantly chemicals in order to perform its intended function. As a result why not consider the myriad ways to make your dishwashing experience a greener one. By adhering to the below mentioned ten tips, your dishwasher can and will be more environmentally friendly than hand washing.
1. Go for the full load
Before running the dishwasher, wait until you have a full load (same rule of thumb for the clothes washer). This will help make the most of the energy, water, and detergent the machine uses.
2. Choose your washer wisely
Choose a dishwasher that is rated for energy and water efficiency. In the U.S., you can start by looking for Energy Star rated appliances, which use 25% less energy than the mandated minimum. Also, know how to read the yellow EnergyGuide sticker you’ll find on all new dishwashers--as well as other appliances.
3. Join the clean plate club
Go for dishwashing liquid and powder that is natural, biodegradable, and free of petroleum and phosphates. Also look for products sold in bulk to save on packaging. Powdered detergents are lighter and so require less energy to ship. If you are running into spotting problems using phosphate-free detergents, try using a natural residue eliminator like Wave Jet.
4. Skip the pre-rinse
Most dishwashers today are powerful enough to get the all the gunk off, so a lot of pre-rinsing by hand is often just a waste of water and time. Plus, if you rinse all of the dirt off, your dog will have nothing to lick while you’re throwing those plates in.
5. Turn down the heat
Most modern dishwashers have booster heaters to heat the water that comes from your home’s water tank. Seems pretty redundant, right? Turning the water tank’s thermostat down to 120 degrees results in additional energy savings without compromising on cleanliness.
6. Air dry
Instead of letting your washer use electric heat or a fan to dry the dishes, just open the door at the end of the washing cycle and let them air dry. Leave the dishes to dry overnight and they’ll be ready for you when you wake up.
7. Pick the right size
Choose the size model that fits your needs. A compact model is more efficient than a large one unless you have to run it several times a day. For a single person, this might be just right.
8. One glass fewer
Using fewer dishes and utensils over the course of the day means doing fewer loads in the dishwasher, saving energy, water, and detergent.
9. Keep those large appliances away from each other
Putting your dishwasher next to your refrigerator will make the fridge have to work harder due to the heat coming off the washer.
10. Wash off-peak
Delay the start of your dishwasher for off-peak utility hours (some units have timers that will start the cycle at a programmed time). Some utilities even offer reduced rates for energy used during this period, and this is likely to become more and more common in the U.S.
Portions of the above are from Yahoo! Green
Monday, September 22, 2008
California scientists today announced a formula to calculate how much carbon dioxide (CO2) can be offset by increasing the reflectivity of urban surfaces like rooftops. The news was announced at the California Energy Commission's Fifth Annual Climate Change Research Conference.
"White roofs can cut a building's energy use by 20 percent and save consumers money," says California Energy Commissioner Art Rosenfeld. "The potential energy savings in the U.S. is in excess of $1 billion annually. Additionally, by conserving electricity we are emitting less CO2 from power plants," Rosenfeld added. In a study to be published in the scientific journal Climatic Change, it is estimated that replacing non-reflective, dark roofing materials with white ones on an average house with 1,000 square feet of roof would result in an equivalent CO2 offset of 10 metric tons annually.
Scientists have known for centuries that putting white roofs on homes and buildings is a simple and effective way to reflect the sun's powerful rays. Similarly, cool-colored pavements aid in the reduction of "urban heat islands." When rooftops and pavements are more reflective, global warming can be reduced.
Since 2005, commercial buildings with flat roofs in California have been required to have white roofs. Residential sloped roofs are also becoming more efficient. Beginning in 2009, new residential roofs and retrofit constructions in California will be required to have "cool-colored" roofs which reflect a higher fraction of the sun's rays than current roofing materials of the same color.
Because white roofs act as a geo-engineering technique to cool the earth on a global scale, Akbari, Menon, and Rosenfeld propose an international campaign to organize 100 of the world's largest cities in tropical and temperate zones to develop programs to require white roofs and "cool pavements" when roofs are initially constructed and pavements installed.
"This idea of a 'cool cities' campaign could lead to significant energy savings, improved air quality, reduce the heat island effect in summer, and more importantly, cool the globe," says Hashem Akbari. "This simple and effective idea can organize the world into taking measured steps to mitigate global warming. Our findings will help city leaders and urban planners quantify the amount of CO2 they can offset using white roofs and cool pavements."
Monday, September 15, 2008
Water efficiency can be defined as the accomplishment of a function, task, process, or result with the minimal amount of water feasible. It should be noted that there is a difference between water conservation and water efficiency. Water efficiency differs from water conservation in that it focuses on reducing waste. A proposition is that the key for efficiency is reducing waste, not restricting use. It also emphasizes the influence consumers can have in water efficiency by making small behavioral changes to reduce water wastage and by choosing more water efficient products.
According to Waterwise (http://www.waterwise.com), here are some simple ways to be more water efficient at home:
• Turning off the tap while brushing teeth- a running tap can waste over six liters per minute.
• Putting a "hippo" or other displacement device into the toilet cistern.
• Fixing dripping taps - a dripping tap wastes thousands of litres of water a year.
• Using a full load in the dishwasher and washing machine. A person should be sure to buy an Energy Star, water efficient model when thinking of buying a new machine.
• Having a short shower instead of a bath.
• Washing fruits and vegetables in a bowl rather than under a running tap. Using the leftover water to feed houseplants.
• Using a watering can or a hosepipe with a trigger nozzle instead of a sprinkler.
• Using a bucket and sponge when washing the car rather than a running hosepipe.
Monday, September 8, 2008
In its most basic form, energy efficiency is using less energy to provide the same level of energy service. Efficient energy use is achieved primarily by means of a more efficient technology or process rather than by changes in individual behavior. That being said, the following strategies contribute to the goal of becoming more energy efficient:
• Passive design strategies can dramatically affect building energy performance. These measures include building shape and orientation, passive solar design, and the use of natural lighting.
• Develop strategies to provide natural lighting. Studies have shown that it has a positive impact on productivity and well being.
• Install high-efficiency lighting systems with advanced lighting controls. Include motion sensors tied to dimmable lighting controls. Task lighting reduces general overhead light levels.
• Use a properly sized and energy-efficient heat/cooling system in conjunction with a thermally efficient building shell. Maximize light colors for roofing and wall finish materials; install high R-value wall and ceiling insulation; and use minimal glass on east and west exposures.
• Minimize the electric loads from lighting, equipment, and appliances.
• Consider alternative energy sources such as photovoltaics and fuel cells that are now available in new products and applications. Renewable energy sources provide a great symbol of emerging technologies for the future.
• Computer modeling is an extremely useful tool in optimizing design of electrical and mechanical systems and the building shell.
Monday, September 1, 2008
The concept of sustainable building incorporates and integrates a variety of strategies during the design, construction and operation of building projects. And while all aspects of sustainable building are important, perhaps none is more important than resource efficiency which can be accomplished by utilizing materials that meet the following criteria:
• Recycled Content: Products with identifiable recycled content, including postindustrial content with a preference for post-consumer content.
• Natural, plentiful or renewable: Materials harvested from sustainably managed sources and preferably have an independent certification (e.g., certified wood) and are certified by an independent third party.
• Resource efficient manufacturing process: Products manufactured with resource-efficient processes including reducing energy consumption, minimizing waste (recycled, recyclable and or source reduced product packaging), and reducing greenhouse gases.
• Locally available: Building materials, components, and systems found locally or regionally saving energy and resources in transportation to the project site.
• Salvaged, refurbished, or remanufactured: Includes saving a material from disposal and renovating, repairing, restoring, or generally improving the appearance, performance, quality, functionality, or value of a product.
• Reusable or recyclable: Select materials that can be easily dismantled and reused or recycled at the end of their useful life.
• Recycled or recyclable product packaging: Products enclosed in recycled content or recyclable packaging.
• Durable: Materials that are longer lasting or are comparable to conventional products with long life expectancies.