Where Does Your Electricity Go When You’re Not Home?

Most people have heard of “phantom watts” – the electricity that is consumed when an appliance or phone charger is left plugged in while it is not in use. Although minimal, this extra electricity does add up.  Mother Jones recently published an article about the 6 electronic devices in your home that zap the most electricity when you’re not using them. While it might be a hassle to go around unplugging everything before work in the morning,  remembering to “unplug” before you leave for a long weekend can help save energy–and save you a few dollars off your electricity bill! View the full article here.

(1) Cable boxes.

(2) Computers.

(3) Televisions.

(4) Audio/visual equipment, like DVD players, iHomes, home theaters.

(5) Game consoles.

(6) Digital picture frames.

Simple Homemade also has some great tips for conserving energy at home, check them out here! What are some ways you conserve energy around the house?

Remember to unplug and plan ahead. Every little bit makes a difference, and it all starts with you!


How to Live Without Air Conditioning

Reblogged from The Good Human:

July 11th, 2012

No More Burning Down The House, or How To Live Without AC


Guest post by Steve Apfelbaum

A little over a week ago, my wife and I had occasion to take a road trip across our home state of Wisconsin. We were struck by the barren main streets. It seemed entire towns were deserted. No people walked the sidewalks. No cars were staging for parking spaces or driving the roadways. As we passed through each town it felt like a post-apocalyptic movie; it appeared as if human life had been eradicated from the earth.

After the several hours of driving, we decided to stop at a well-known fast food chain for a famous custard and cold water. We were surprised to find this particular parking lot packed with cars. When we stepped inside, we learned the restaurant-goers were self-medicating against the summer’s first heat wave with generous servings of ice cream.

My wife and I began chatting with the other patrons. Conversations centered on how to keep cool against the stifling heat. Several jaws dropped when we explained that we don’t have air conditioning in our 165 year old home. We explained that we have made adjustments to the house – and to our behavior – to ensure it stays cool and comfortable inside. Later it occurred to me that many Americans would benefit from the same advice.

On a Daily Basis

  • We close (almost all of) our windows and doors, and pull insulated curtains down early in the morning, before the day heats up.
  • We leave an upstairs skylight and one downstairs window open. Both are located on the cooler north side of the house. This creates a draw – like a chimney in winter. The windows encourage the hot air to rise out of the house upstairs and draw in cooler air from outside downstairs or, in our case, from our much cooler basement.
  • At night, if it’s cool enough outside, we open up the doors and windows to quickly cool the house down. This process is like operating the house as a living organism – one that breathes at night and hibernates by day.
  • If it’s ever warmer than we’re comfortable with, we turn on ceiling fans to move the air in our bedroom and living room. Moving air feels better than still, particularly when the still air is stiflingly warm.

Long-term Solutions

  • We have super insulated the house, which keeps it warmer in the winter, of course, but also cooler in the summer. We have R150 in the attic and R70 or more in the walls. This protects us from both weather extremes.
  • We replaced older windows with high efficiency double pane windows. We insisted that our installers caulked particularly well to ensure leakage around the windows wouldn’t occur.
  • Finally, we installed pleated insulated “sun curtains” on all of our windows. These curtains have a reflective white fabric that faces the windows and keeps heat from the house.

Of course our system isn’t perfect, but typically our house stays very comfortable – in the seventies most days – unless we have several weeks straight of extremely hot weather with nighttime temperatures that don’t drop. And though most people won’t be able to make the jump to life without air conditioning, many of the adjustments above can be used in addition to AC. In fact, many of these tips will not only lower your home’s temperature, but also your energy bill, as well.

See the original post here: http://thegoodhuman.com/2012/07/11/how-to-live-without-air-conditioning/

Read about air sealing your home for energy and heat efficiency here: https://makeadifferencemonth.wordpress.com/additional-resources/home-efficiency-air-sealing/

Danish company designs electric car with 800km range. Wow!

The Jolly Good News

Range anxiety has been a huge hurdle for electric cars, as buyers worry about running out of charge mid-journey. But that concern could fade into the past if the technology of a Danish-designed car is an indicator of future range potential.

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There is lots of potential to integrate solar technology into our current power use. If you had the opportunity, would you invest in solar for your home or company?

The Jolly Good News

Solar could provide one-sixth of the world’s heating and cooling needs by 2050, according to a report by the International Energy Agency (IEA). This would eliminate 800 megatons of carbon dioxide emissions a year, which is more than Germany’s total carbon emissions in 2009. It would also save money since heating and cooling account for about 56 percent of the energy use in an average U.S. home.

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What fantastic news! Three cheers for public transportation!

The Jolly Good News

Here’s some good green news: more and more Americans are taking public transit and are ditching their gas-guzzling cars for more fuel efficient models, or getting rid of their cars all together.  According to the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), transit ridership nationwide shot up by 5% over the first quarter of 2012, with an increase of 2.7 billion trips.  This number has steadily increased over the past five quarters, specifically for bus and rail. Interestingly, APTA noted that …”even when gas prices start to fall, riders stick with transit.”

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Endangered Species Day

Today is Endangered Species Day, a day dedicated to learning about the Endangered Species Act, to the species it protects, and to celebrate the many recovery success stories listed species have seen over the past several decades.

Here’s some good news: While there are about 1,959 species currently listed as “Threatened” or “Endangered,”  the Center for Biological Diversity released a report yesterday that found that “90 percent of species are recovering at the rate specified by their federal recovery plan.” Read more here.

Alabama Beach Mouse (Photo credit: US FWS)

Coastal Alabama, as well as the entire Gulf Coast, is a hotspot for biodiversity. Hundreds of species of fish, birds, marine mammals, plants, insects, and shellfish call our Coastal Alabama home. Did you know that Alabama has 20 listed species in just the two coastal counties (Mobile and Baldwin Counties)? Some of these species have populations in other parts of the country or the Gulf Coast, others are endemic to Coastal Alabama, meaning they are only found in this part of the world.

Here are some of Alabama’s fantastic endangered species. Click here to find the full list.

Birds: Bald Eagle, Wood Stork, Piping Plover

Clams: Alabama Heelsplitter, Southern Clubshell

Fishes: Alabama Sturgeon*, Gulf Sturgeon

Flowering Plants: American Shaffseed

Mammals: West Indian Manatee, Perdido Key Beach Mouse, Alabama Beach Mouse*

Reptiles: Hawksbill Sea Turtle, Leatherback Sea Turtle, Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle, Green Sea Turtle, Alabama Red-belly Turtle, Eastern Indigo Snake, Indigo Snake, Black Pine Snake, Gopher Tortoise

*Alabama is lead field office

Loggerhead Sea Turtle (Photo credit: US FWS)

To learn more about the Endangered Species Act, check out these links:




Hawaii Becomes the First State in the U.S. to Ban Plastic Bags! | Surfrider Foundation

Congratulations to the State of Hawaii for taking a bold step towards decreased plastic pollution! You can make a difference too by making the switch to reusable shopping bags. There are many stylish and functional ways to reduce plastic pollution in your community.


Hawaii Becomes the First State in the U.S. to Ban Plastic Bags! | Surfrider Foundation.


When the governor of Honolulu County signed into law the plastic bag ban last week that the County Council approved, Hawaii became the first state in the nation where every city and unincorporated area is covered by a plastic bag ban.  This was not done by the state legislature, but instead by all four County Councils – a great example of local activists and decision makers addressing the serious issue of plastic pollution.

The City and County of Honolulu is the last of Hawaii’s counties to enact a ban on plastic bags at the point of sale. Maui and Kauai counties already have plastic bag bans in place while Hawaii County passed an ordinance that will take effect next year.  While we are excited that the plastic bag bans have been enacted, there has been a reported increase in paper bag use from locals.  Paper bags biodegrade and don’t have the same impact on wildlife but there are issues with any disposable product so local Surfrider Chapters will continue to push for more reusable bag education and potentially a fee on paper bags.

For now, let’s celebrate this important moment and spread the word to bring your reusable bags when traveling to Hawaii.  Congrats to all of the Surfrider activists and other organizations involved!