Those of us who occupy our time reading and watching out for noteworthy, shareable tips for saving money and helping the environment naturally pick favorites. If you are a green thumb, for instance, you may especially like knowing how covering the soil of a houseplant with pebbles can deter flies—no chemicals required.
That tip came from an aspiring green podcaster that Edward S. of Los Angeles talked to at the garden center at Orchard Supply Hardware, when he asked for help getting rid of the tiny flies that had invaded his windowsill herb garden.
"I thought she would point me to a spray, but she showed me containers of little river rocks. I spread them over the soil of my basil and parsley plants, completely covering the soil. There was another hatching in a week from the eggs that were already in the soil, but after that, no flies."Get Home Solar Estimates
Here we have rounded up some green bloggers' favorite advice.
Pull the Wool Over Your House
Seth Leitman, the Green Living Guy, was disposed to love wool insulation even before he got his hands on it. When he lived in Albany, New York, he relied on Irish sweaters (a gift from his aunt and uncle) to keep himself warm all winter in Albany, when temperatures typically hover around 25-41 Fahrenheit.
Leitman was excited to hear that natural wool insulation was being mass-produced for homes. "While other types of insulation such as, glass, mineral wool, cotton, and foam are commonly used in homes, wool insulation, in my opinion, is the best option," he said.
"Unlike many types of manufactured insulation, wool insulation doesn’t settle and can keep up its R-value for 50 years. It is also fire-resistant and is an excellent acoustic insulator. Plus, natural wool is 100% compostable."
R-value refers to a material's heat resistance and is comparable across all insulation materials, no matter who makes it.
Insulation "can significantly reduce heating and cooling bills throughout the year," said the U.S. Department of Energy (pdf). "On average, you can save up to 20% on your home's heating and cooling costs or up to 10% on its total energy costs by adding insulation to attics, floors, crawl spaces, and accessible basement rim joists, and by reducing unwanted air leaks all around your house."
Another green benefit of wool is that it poses none of the dangers of other insulations, such as to your eyes and lungs. "I’m tired of worrying about going into an attic that feels unsafe to be in," said Leitman.
Stand, Don't Soak
Kirsten E. Silven, a freelance writer in Louisville, Kentucky, championed showers over baths. "Use the shower instead of taking a bath when bathing, as showers use less water. Also, install a water-efficient showerhead. A good one can save as much as 40% of our water consumption, and a family of four can save as much as 17,000 gallons of water in one year!"
The EPA estimates that a replacing just one showerhead in the home with a WaterSense-labeled model can save the amount of electricity needed to power that home for 11 days, and more than $70 in energy and water costs every year.
Keep Your Cool
Using your refrigerator more to save energy sounds counterintuitive, but it's true. Load it up! Storing a lot of food can help the fridge work efficiently, because it displaces air. Also, cold items cool down neighboring new arrivals faster.
"Keep your freezer and refrigerator stocked and set the temperature dial to medium," advised Lindsay Mineo, who writes for a kitchen remodeling firm in Los Angeles. "You can significantly reduce the energy consumed and even save food at the same time."
The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), however, said that the amount of food in the refrigerator is less important to energy conservation than a couple of other things you can pay attention to.
First, you shouldn't stand before an open fridge pondering your next meal. The main reason refrigerators lose their cool is through an open door.
Second, cool leftovers to room temperature before storing them. Portioning warm food into meal-sized containers first and resting them on a wire rack will speed cooling. Don't worry about the food spoiling as it cools; cooked food remains safe for two hours at room temperature.
Harness the Sun
One of the most proven, efficient means of saving energy is to install solar panels, said John McCloy, writing at Green Coast. Upfront costs used to be the biggest hurdle to solar adoption, but more efficient manufacturing and incentives mean that "startup costs have seen a substantial drop over the last decade," he wrote.
"In any case, you don’t have to go all out from the get-go. You could start small and allow solar power to first complement your current energy needs then gradually add new capacity over time. Depending on the size of your panels, you can power anything from a home computer to a heating and cooling system using the energy from the sun." Connect with a local panel installer here.
Weeds Aren't Always Bad
“A weed is but an unloved flower.”—Ella Wheeler Wilcox
"Don't mind the weeds" was Dax Emerson's tip of the week at the Green Dandelion, the ecology blog of the University of Rochester. "While I have many memorable experiences from mowing and trimming lawns—one might be surprised at the type of stuff lawn maintenance workers run into—one thing I never understood was certain customers’ obsession with weeding out every last dandelion, spurge, and purslane (pun entirely intended)."
While they grow, weeds add nutrients to the topsoil. Some weeds provide shelter for animals or pollinating insects. When weeds decompose, they enrich the soil and make it denser. Dense soil can resist erosion better.
"I would encourage lawn enthusiasts to think about weeds in terms of adding character to a lawn, not devaluing it. I would also encourage compromises when it comes to weeds. For example, if you want to show off your front lawn to neighbors, then keep weeds rooted in your backyard."Get Home Solar Estimates