Public Green Category: Home Improvement

Do-It-Yourself Energy Audit

Now that the weather is starting to change, it’s the perfect time to do your own energy audit and get your home ready for winter.  As much as one-third of the energy you use to heat your home may be slipping through windows, doors, electrical outlets, and other cracks.  Check out one of the Minitemp Noncontact Thermometers that use infrared technology to measure the surface temperature in areas of your home.  Just “point and shoot” at the exterior of your home and you can literally see where the heat is leaking out of your home! The Minitemp Noncontact Thermometers are kept at the Reference Desk and can be checked out for one week.

Green Choices for Kitchen Remodeling

Thinking About Remodeling Your Kitchen? Here are some ways you can make it greener.

Start with the basics, then consider larger improvements to save energy, reduce your use of nonrenewable resources, and conserve water.

When replacing kitchen cabinets, choose solid wood certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) for sustainability.

Choose energy-efficient appliances with the Energy Star label. Older refrigerators are especially big energy wasters. Replace your standard dishwasher with a new model that’s energy-efficient, quiet, and conserves water. You can cut your energy use by up to 30 percent with new qualified appliances.

Vent your kitchen range hood to the outside for healthier indoor air.

Clean with natural home ingredients such as baking soda for scouring, distilled white vinegar for cutting soap scum and cleaning stains, and vegetable-base soaps.

Supplement natural light with compact fluorescent lightbulbs (CFLs) because they convert most of their energy into light rather than heat, consuming 75 percent less electricity and lasting 10 times as long as incandescent bulbs.

Fix that drip, or, better yet, replace old faucets with new units that have low-flow aerators. You can save thousands of gallons of water a year.

Replace vinyl flooring with natural linoleum, which is long-lasting and made with environmentally friendly materials.

*From Better Homes and Gardens

Low-VOC Paints and Stains

Are you thinking of taking on a home painting project soon? Before you start, consider the paint you will be using, as some paints are more environmentally friendly than others. When selecting paints (both interior or exterior), look for paints that have low levels of VOCs, or volatile organic compounds. These chemicals contribute to ozone, smog, and respiratory problems. It is expected that the EPA will propose VOC limits this year; low-VOC interior paints cannot contain more than 50 grams per liter, low-VOC exterior paints range from between 100 and 250 grams per liter, and low-VOC stains should not exceed 250 grams perm liter. For more information, or to see a list of recommended low-VOC paints, check out the June 2010 Consumer Reports Paint Buying Guide or visit:
Consumer Reports Green Product Watch: Best Low-VOC Paints and Stains