Tag Archives: electronics

How to Green-Up Your Home to Live a Happy Healthy Life

greenvalentineBy: Elizabeth Eckhart 

It seems today that more and more Americans are concerned with the current state of the environment, and what we can do to help. Everywhere you look, companies are “going green” in an attempt to appeal to the demands of the increasingly educated public. Even electric companies in places like Texas, the oil capital of America, are touting their green energy options, and it’s all beginning to turn the tide: according to the EPA, in 2008 Americans were able to avoid releasing the equivalent of 29 million cars worth of greenhouse gases through eco-conscious living. This translated to a savings of $19 billion for Americans that year.

However, it’s not just our commercial goods we are wanting to be eco-friendly – many of us want to live greener and thus healthier lives defined by mindfulness of our place on the Earth, and making our home as green as possible is an undeniably important part. Our homes should be a haven, not a harm to us, and shouldn’t be reducing the quality of the environment.

So what exactly is a “green” home? Compared to an average American home, green homes are gentler on the environment because they use less energy, water and other natural resources while avoiding waste and negative environmental impact wherever possible. Standard homes consumes about 30 percent of total energy and 65 percent of all electricity generated in the US. By making plumbing, fixtures, landscaping and irrigation systems more efficient, greens homes can use 50 percent less water than standard American homes. Also, constructing a green home generates about 50 to 90 percent less waste than standard homes.

Based on these facts and simple observations, it should come as no surprise to see the rise in the number of eco-friendly homes being built, and for good cause. The Natural Resources Defense Council estimates that buildings in the U.S. contribute 70 percent of carbon dioxide emissions and residential buildings produce 20 percent of our total CO2 emissions alone. It is clear that our homes and offices play a major role in the environment, so it’s our responsibility to limit the damage we inflict with them.

Also, not only do standard constructed homes negatively affect the environment, but they are affect our wellbeing. Green homes create less indoor air pollutants than standard homes, which can enhance allergies and asthma and may lead to lung cancer.

There are many options for current homeowners to turn their homes into energy efficient ones. One of the most popular programs to help with this process is the Energy Star program, which was launched in 1995. Energy Star certified energy efficient products typically use 20-30 percent less energy than what is required by federal standards. While Energy Star certifications are for what’s in your home, LEED Certification, launched by the United States Green Building Council, is for the building itself. LEED-certified homes aim to reduce their negative impact on the environment by reducing their energy and water use by an average of 20-30 percent as well as maximizing fresh air within the home to reduce exposure to domestic pollutants.

The reality is though, that most Americans simply can’t afford to build a new LEED certified home, or buy new Energy Star certified products. Luckily, there are many steps all of us can take to reduce our impact on the environment that don’t break our bank.

The first step would be to get an energy audit — many electric companies offer these at minimal to no cost, or you can do it yourself. A DIY audit consists of checking for, and sealing, indoor and outdoor air leaks that could be driving up your energy bill by 5-30 percent a year. This is particularly important for older homes, since they are more prone to having drafts.

Next, compare home electricity providers to see which companies offer green products, such as solar panels. Many companies today are utilizing renewable sources from solar, to wind, hydro and geothermal to generate electrical power. If you live in states like New York, Maryland, Texas, and other parts of the South, you can try here to see which companies offer eco-friendly options for household electricity in your area and which would work for you and your household’s electricity needs.

The next step is to check your home’s insulation, which keeps the heat from escaping through the ceiling and walls. The attic is the biggest culprit for heat loss, so look there first if you have one, then consider checking and re-sealing the borders of windows and doors.

Your heating and cooling equipment should be next on your list. Cleaning or replacing filters, inspecting ducts and pipes for leaks, and replacing the unit every 15 years will ensure tip-top energy efficiency and will protect your lungs from breathing in mold and other harmful toxins.

The last, and easiest step is to monitor your use of electronic devices. Aside from using any electronic devices less frequently, make sure to unplug everything that isn’t being used at that moment, and definitely do so if you’ll be out of the house for a few hours or more. Unused, but plugged in, electronic devices are leeches of electricity and cost you hundreds of dollars a year without you being any the wiser – this includes power strips and surge protectors, so be sure to unplug these as well as they will continue to draw power. To get more tips on a do-it-yourself home audit check the U.S. Department of Energy’s website.

Other greener options for the home are to use less water, use fewer paper goods such as paper towels (opt for cloth towels instead and reuse them), get newer appliances that are more energy efficient and whenever possible buy green household cleaners that don’t contain harsh chemicals or toxins.

Not only will doing everything you can to make your home green reduce your impact on the environment, it will also lead to a happier, healthier life. Wellness begins at home, so make sure your house is part of your solution!

Have any other tips for making your house more green? Share in the comments below! 

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Elizabeth Eckhart is a Chicago born and bred blogger who is passionate about keeping the environment clean. Some of her favorite writing topics include new renewable energy technology and various ways to live a healthy lifestyle. 

The Health Risks of Electromagnetic Fields

Geschäftsfrau hat Feierabend

Our dependence on electronics is higher than ever before and not likely to decrease any time soon. Could you even imagine going a few days without indoor electricity, television, your favorite household electronic (I heart you, blender), your cell phone, computer, or tablet? I couldn’t – even as I write this now, I’m typing on my laptop, my cell phone is next to my laptop, behind me sits our modem and wireless router, and as I look out the balcony I see power lines just a few feet away. I admit it, I love technology (most of us do). However, the problem is that all electrical devices emit an electromagnetic field that is potentially dangerous to our health – now that’s enough to make me think twice about my electronic use.

Electromagnetic fields (EMFs) are invisible areas of energy, often called radiation, that surround any electric device. This includes cell phones, mobile towers, broadcast towers, computers, power lines, industrial equipment, electrical wiring, radiation machines, and household appliances, just to name a few. The actual electric component of an EMF typically doesn’t harm humans as it is the voltage used to power the device and is shielded by walls, cases, and other objects (however, direct contact can cause serious burns). On the other hand, the magnetic area of an EMF is where medical concerns arise since there are no barriers (besides distance) between magnetic fields and the human body.

At any given time, the human body creates a variety of tiny electrical currents to function normally. For example, nerves use electrical impulses to communicate with the body, while proper digestion, brain activity, and heartbeat regulation all rely on electronic currents. Exposure to a high EMF or constant exposure to low EMFs can over simulate our nerves, muscles, and other biological reactions and potential create health problems.

A variety of studies show links between EMFs and increased risk of cancer (especially brain cancer, breast cancer, and childhood leukemia), pregnancy complications (including miscarriage), reproductive problems, sleep disturbances, headaches, autism, respiratory problems, fatigue, and a host of other serious health issues. However, there is still a continuing debate about whether these links are causal and consistent. Regardless, even if the jury is still out, if you’re like me, I would rather take preventative measures now than risk so many possible negative health effects. Below are some tips to decrease the amount of EMFs that enter your body (while still enjoying the modern day benefits of electrical devices).

Remember the strength of the magnetic field weakens as it travels away from its source. The farther you can be from your electronics, the better. Here are 8 ways to decrease your exposure to EMFs: 

  1. Don’t sleep with your phone, computer, or any electronic device right next to you (I’m often guilty of this)
  2. Alternate which ear you use when talking on your cell phone
  3. Keep your laptop on a table or desk instead of your lap (whoever named it “laptop” clearly wasn’t thinking about EMF risks)
  4. Turn off electrical devices like TVs and computers when you aren’t using them (perk: you’ll be saving money too)
  5. Unplug electronics from walls when traveling or when you won’t use them for awhile (even just having an electronic plugged in but turned off still emits a low EMF)
  6. Consider investing in an EMF shielding device for home or office use (you can even find these in some hotel rooms)
  7. Repair faulty wiring in your home or business
  8. Take time each day to be technology free – go for a walk, meditate, practice yoga, hand-write in a journal, read a book (no reading devices), or spend time in nature

As researchers continue to study the relationship between EMF exposure and our health, you have the ability to protect yourself and your family now by being aware of this danger and using the tips above as often as you can.

Have you had any health problems associated with EMF exposure? Share your story in the comments below. 

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