Built Green and Sustainable LivingFor HomeownersHome maintenance tipsReal Estate October 20, 2010

Five Easy Ways to Stop Polluting Your Home and Your Body

Take Your Shoes Off! It’s not rocket science here, but simple common sense.  If you’re not bringing outside dirt into your home, you’re not bringing in pollutants.  Shoes that slog through mud, dirt, sand, over sidewalks and streets with oil on them, and who knows what else, all bring pollutants into your home.

Shoes are Among the Biggest Home Polluters

Think about where you’ve stepped. Think about all the stuff over the years you’ve stepped in that you wished you hadn’t.  Do you want to bring that into your home?

Have a walk-off mat at your front door for people to wipe their feet before they come in and take their shoes off.  Your mat should be one that can easily be rinsed off.

Open your windows, bring fresh air in and ventilate your home occasionally.

Check, clean and replace furnace filters regularly.  Filters are obviously designed to filter pollutants out, but some filters work better to capture tiny particles.  When replacing your filters look for the MERV rating, which is the Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value. The higher the MERV number the better the filter is at removing pollutants.

Stop using products filled with chemicals to clean your home. Look at your cleaning solutions, paints, and  personal care products, like soaps and shampoos. These are the products you use on a regular basis.  Harmful stuff shows up in all kinds of things, so read the labels.  There are many products with green labels these days.  Check those out.

I got a shock yesterday when I heard a story on NPR about the dangers of the Brazilian hair straightening process. They’ve found the process includes formaldehyde. I didn’t have this process done in my home, but it was done to the hair on my head!  (Those of you with curly hair will understand the things we do for straight hair) I don’t fault my hairdresser.  I think most hairdressers are unaware of the chemical contents in the treatments they use, just like many of us are with the things we use at home.  So I will not be using this process again and will be asking more questions about what goes on my head at the hair salon.

These are simple, inexpensive ways to cut down pollution in your home and on your body.

What other suggestions do you have for easy, inexpensive ways to cut down on pollution in your home?

Built Green and Sustainable LivingEnergy conservationEnergy IncentivesFor Homeowners October 11, 2010

I Gave A Friend Away to Save Money and Reduced My Carbon Footprint

He’s gone.  They carted him away today after our very long relationship, a longer one than I’ve had with my husband.  He’s always been a little chilly, in fact, downright cold. But he was faithful, always ready, and never needed any fixing.  He moved with me from an apartment to two homes, from the east to the west coast, never complaining.  We went through many a family dinner, holiday extravaganza and party over the years.  He’d always been responsible for the food.

He showed evidence of aging over the years, just like we all do. There were the spills that occasionally needed to be cleaned off him.  Some bumps and scratches were noticed here and there, but overall, he was a healthy specimen.  It’s been hard to let go of him because he’s been working so loyally all these years.

Deep down, I’ve known it’s time to let him go. How many times do we put off making changes in our lives?  How many times do we say we’ll deal with it tomorrow or think something is not a big deal?  I knew our relationship was costing me money.

I made the phone call to end our relationship.  They came to get him on Friday afternoon.  He was ready and waiting for them to take him away. After so many years, it was over in a matter of minutes.  Out the door and up the driveway he went.

Refrigerator being recycled

Here’s what happened:

On Tuesday, I signed up online to have Puget Sound Energy come pick him, my refrigerator, up.  If you’re a Puget Sound Energy customer, they’ll remove your refrigerator and pay you $30 (as long as the money lasts and your refrigerator is in working order). The two men who came to pick the refrigerator up, said 85-90% of the refrigerator will be recycled and not end up in a landfill.  So he’ll be reused, not dumped.

According to Puget Sound Energy’s website:

Old fridges and freezers use up to four times the energy of newer models. That’s four times the electricity costs and four times the negative environmental impact.

The Puget Sound people left me with more information about the program:

  • PSE has picked up 15,000 refrigerators and freezers.
  • PSE customers will save over 18 million kilowatt hours of electricity.
  • Save over $1.6 million pounds of CO2 emissions.  The same as taking 1400 vehicles off the road.

Want more information about using energy wisely?  The PSE website has a lot of great tips.

I took a great class this week to learn more about sustainable living, “green” living as you will, so I’ll write about what I’ve learned.  I’ll also write about what I’m doing to make some important changes in the way I live.  My goal is to reduce my carbon footprint and save some money, too!

A hat tip to Marlow Harris for posting a link to the PSE energy program on Facebook.  By the way, check the site to find out all the details and any restrictions.

What are you doing to reduce your carbon footprint?

For BuyersFor HomeownersFor SellersHome maintenance tipsReal Estatesustainable living August 31, 2010

Don't Spend Money Greening Your Home Until…..

Are you feeling bombarded about “greening your home?‘  There’s so much stuff out there to absorb.  There are articles flying around about all the good “green” things to do.  Don’t get me wrong, I think reducing our carbon footprint,  going green, and hopefully, saving money are all important.

But, I just recently came across two articles that look at the costs of going” green” more closely.  Just because something is “green” doesn’t mean it truly reduces our carbon footprint or helps you to  save you money. One of the biggest offenders is bamboo flooring.  Since most bamboo is sourced in the Far East, the cost and impact on our carbon footprint for transporting bamboo may outweigh the fact that it’s a renewable resource.

During these crazy times it’s important to analyze how you spend your money on your home.  It’s important to think about the payback to you and the environment, in addition to the payback for when you might sell, even if selling your home is in the future. Going “green” is important to consider, but according to some, there are different ways to handle going green.

Two recent posts on different blogs talked about this very issue.  The Bigger Pockets blog listed 7 green items that could be a waste of money. I’m not sure I agree with all that is said.  For example, CLF’s, Compact Fluorescent Bulbs are more expensive than standard light bulbs, but they are a fairly inexpensive way to reduce our carbon footprint.  Sure they are more expensive than standard light bulbs and may become cheaper, but it’s important to start now and with CFL’s, it is a great place to start. From the EnergyStar website:

If every American home replaced just one light with a light that’s earned the ENERGY STAR, we would save enough energy to light 3 million homes for a year, save about $600 million in annual energy costs, and prevent 9 billion pounds of greenhouse gas emissions per year, equivalent to those from about 800,000 cars.


Other things, such as location, factor into making a “green” decision. Bigger Pockets felt solar panels were not efficient enough yet to warrant the cost.  If you live in Seattle, it probably isn’t cost effective to install solar panels, especially with all the gray 65 degree days we’ve had this summer!  However, in Southern California it makes perfect sense.  I have a friend who installed solar panels and is receiving a substantial rebate for the first five years, plus a check from the utility company for helping to supply power back to the grid.  The payback for these people will be 5-7 years.  Not a bad return for a fairly expensive item.  But these folks have no plans to move, so the investment should more than pay for itself over the years.

Worldchanging tackles this same subject with a video of how to “green” a new construction home and other thoughts about how to reduce our carbon footprint. The post mentions a book by Eric Corey Freed and Kevin Daum entitled “Green Sense for the Home: Rating the Real Payoff from 50 Green Home Projects.”  The book is divided into three handy sections.  The first covers things that can be done now, like using CFL’s or insulating a hot water tank, to more expensive changes like adding solar power and new windows, to building a “green” new home.

The bottom line is everyone should be thinking about making changes, both big and small to save energy and money.  Some things work better for some people, homes, and locations than other “green” changes.  It is important to decide what works for you.  Do the research and make good decisions to maximize your dollar and to save energy.

What ways do you find to save energy and reduce your carbon footprint?  If you’ve got some “green” tips, ideas, etc., please do share.