Have you ever been to freecycle.org? If so, good for you! If not, then you need to. I learned of Freecycle from my girlfriend. She is always on Freecycle finding stuff or getting rid of stuff.
Just what is Freecycle? Freecycle is a Network that is made up of 4,751 groups with 6,757,000 members across the globe. It’s a grassroots and entirely nonprofit movement of people who are giving (& getting) stuff for free in their own towns. It’s all about reuse and keeping good stuff out of landfills. Each local group is moderated by a local volunteer. Plus membership is free.
I always fall back to that old saying when telling people about Freecycle “One man’s junk is another man’s treasure”. We used it the other day when we were cleaning the garage and found these little, old Christmas tree penguin ornaments. We threw them on Freecycle and a day later a lady came by and picked them up off our front porch. What’s neat is you don’t even have to meet the person; you just make an email arrangement and leave the goods on your porch. The cool part is that the penguins didn’t go into the landfill, and somebody didn’t have to go buy new penguins, plus they got them for free! The lady wrote an email a couple of days later telling us she loved the ornaments. Cool huh?
So, now you probably want to go check it out. All you really need to get started is a Yahoo account. If you have a yahoo email account that will work too. Freecycle listings are through Yahoo Groups. Once you get your Yahoo account situated, go to http://www.freecycle.org, click on browse groups and select your state and city. Next click “Visit Group Page”, then join the group. At this point the Freecycle group will be added to your Yahoo Groups list. This particular group requires a membership approval; it’s nothing bad, they do this to keep the spammers out. Upon approval, you are ready to give and get. Have fun with Freecycle, and remember before you toss your “junk”, Freecycle it.
The Bakersfield Freecycle group now has over 3300 members who are helping keep thousands of pounds of “stuff” out of landfills each year. Click the link below to get directly to the Bakersfield Freecycle group
It is tough to beat a hot shower first thing in the morning. Research indicates the average shower length is 8 minutes. The 5 minute shower will save about 7200 gallons of water a year over the 8 minute shower. It’s not just the water you are saving but the energy to heat the water and the sewer processing as well.
When dealing with heated water, one has to remember that there are three costs associated with this commodity. (1) You pay for the water. (2) You pay to heat the water. (3) You pay a sewer fee to discard the waste water.
So, the next time you are standing in the shower thinking, remember the water and gas meter are clicking away. Want another energy and water saving solution? Use your bathing towel more than once. Hang it up to dry and use it again. If you shower every day and use your towel twice, you will cut back your laundry chores by 182 towels per year vs. the old method of new towel every shower! Your mom, wife or person in charge of washing all those towels, will thank you. The 5 minute shower, give it a try.
After many restless nights, I finally settled on the new toilets I would order for my office. What I thought to be a simple task turned out to be not so simple. I make a huge ordeal over everything I buy, and I end up researching the product to death. In the case of water saving toilets, including dual flush toilets, I spent 8 weeks surfing the internet and calling different manufactures and sales companies.
Task: Find modern water saving toilets, dual flush or not
Notes: Must be WaterSense approved and ADA approved
One of the many hours of research was to determine whether I should get a single flush toilet with a flush of 1.28 gpf or dual flush toilet with a fush of 1.6/0.8 gpf. According to research you will save 25% more water by using a dual flush toilet then a WaterSense single flush, even though the water use is less on the single flushers. I’m guessing that this is based on people using #1 much more often than #2.
(Click Read More to Continue)
When considering the purchase of disposable batteries, please consider that 3 billion batteries are sold annually in the U.S., averaging about 32 per family or 10 per person. Americans throw out approximately 179,000 TONS of batteries per year!
Did you know a common AA rechargeable battery can be recharged 1000 times? With today’s technologies both chargers and batteries have come a long way in extending battery life and capacity. Suppose that you find a great buy on good quality AA disposable batteries at $0.45 a battery. 1000 disposable batteries will cost $450.00 and you will be responsible for responsible disposal. High quality rechargeable AA batteries may cost $2.00 each and there is a chance you could leave them in your will.
Now more than ever, it is possible to buy rechargeable batteries and chargers in common places such as drug or hardware stores. So, do yourself a favor and make a small investment for your family and the planet. Make a change and pick up a charger and rechargeable batteries.
I always mention that Bakersfield is 3 to 5 years behind the rest of the world. Today I proved this to be a correct statement once again. While browsing around in the Best Buy DVD section, I ran across “An Inconvenient Truth” by Al Gore. I went ahead and picked it up, now take note that I am “picking it up” three years after it was made and had already been a hot topic around the globe. So, I am speculating that a majority of people in Bakersfield have not seen this documentary yet, based on my 3 to 5 year theory.
This is a must see for everybody, whether you believe in global warming or not. I found the video very well made and packed full of valuable information. You can get a used copy for as low as $6.30 on Amazon. Here is the link: “An Inconvenient Truth“.
Here is the trailer: http://www.climatecrisis.net/trailer/
Director Davis Guggenheim eloquently weaves the science of global warming with Mr. Gore’s personal history and lifelong commitment to reversing the effects of global climate change. A longtime advocate for the environment, Gore presents a wide array of facts and information in a thoughtful and compelling way. “Al Gore strips his presentations of politics, laying out the facts for the audience to draw their own conclusions in a charming, funny and engaging style, and by the end has everyone on the edge of their seats, gripped by his haunting message,” said Guggenheim. An Inconvenient Truth is not a story of despair but rather a rallying cry to protect the one earth we all share. “It is now clear that we face a deepening global climate crisis that requires us to act boldly, quickly, and wisely,” said Gore.
This is a great video. Its 20 minutes long, but worth every minute of it. It really made me think about how wasteful we are as people. There is a lot more to being green then buying solar panels or using a reusable water bottle. Understanding the entire process is very important, and that’s where The Story of Stuff comes in. Please take a moment and watch the video.
Words by Anne Leonard: What is the Story of Stuff?
From its extraction through sale, use and disposal, all the stuff in our lives affects communities at home and abroad, yet most of this is hidden from view. The Story of Stuff is a 20-minute, fast-paced, fact-filled look at the underside of our production and consumption patterns. The Story of Stuff exposes the connections between a huge number of environmental and social issues, and calls us together to create a more sustainable and just world. It’ll teach you something, it’ll make you laugh, and it just may change the way you look at all the stuff in your life forever.
Click here to go to Annes Site and watch THE STORY OF STUFF
A swimming pool is a “must” for surviving a Bakersfield Summer. Nothing offsets a 100 degree Bakersfield summer day better than a quick swim in the backyard pool. But let me ask you a question, do you know how much electricity your blue oasis consumes and the cost associated with this consumption?
The kWh consumption is easy to figure out (Amps x Volts = Watts and remember 1000 watts = 1 kWh), but the cost can range from as cheap as $0.115 or as expensive as $0.410 per kWh depending on your overall home energy consumption and were you fall in PG&E’s 5 tier pricing schedule. Some Bakersfield residents, running a single speed pump, pay more than $350 per month for their swimming pool pump electricity while others frugally only pay $48 per month. I pay $11 per month.
A standard single speed 2hp pool pump motor running 6 hours a day drawing 19.4 amps at 120 volts will consume about 14 kWh. Here’s the math: 19.4 x 120 = 2328 watts. 6 hours x 2328 = 13,968 watts. Convert watts to kWh by dividing total watts by 1000 for a total of 13.96 kWh per day or 418 kWh per month. In the event you operate your pump 12 hours a day and your energy consumption is high enough to enter PG&E’s fifth tier, your cost could be near $342 per month. (Click Read More to Continue)
I would like to take a few and talk about city wide green efforts. What are people in Bakersfield doing to help? I’m referring to the common individual, the “Everyday Joes.” I see small green efforts from time to time; however it’s usually somebody trying to sell me something in the name of green. The overall effort in Bakersfield is very poor.
A recent trip to Monterey really opened my eyes. I was extremely impressed with how actively green it is. I saw so many things that just “wowed” me. It seemed like the people of Monterey were working together as a team. One of the main things I noticed was that nearly everybody was walking around with reusable water bottles, all sizes, shapes, and colors. This is a fantastic concept. People actually using refillable water bottles rather than plastic ones! I even saw a number of walking folks carrying ceramic coffee cups. I would have to say that I was most impressed by the shoppers. It seemed like atleast 60% of the folks were using reusable shopping bags, and not plastic. A lot of the Monterey businesses were proud to show memberships to different green organizations by sporting stickers on their doors and plaques on their walls. Beyond that, I have never seen so many Priuses in my life. It seemed like every other car was some sort of hybrid. All in all Monterey just had a green feeling. It made me feel better inside. It gave me some hope that my hometown of Bakersfield can do it too. But then I had to return home and be reminded of just how far behind we are. (Click Read More to Continue)
I am always amazed at how many people do not fully comprehend their electric bill and PG&E’s pricing structure. Once you understand how PG&E configures residential electric bills, you can effectively begin reducing your overall cost. In November 2008 I began working with a long time friend on cutting his kWh consumption in Northwest Bakersfield. We started by replacing incandescent bulbs with CFL lighting and adjusting his pool pump to winter mode.
I introduced him to PG&E’s online SmartMeter account information to help monitor current consumption and review past usage. I explained to him that PG&E rewards its residential customers with lower rates for lower consumption. PG&E’s billing is set up on a 5 tier system. Here is a snapshot of the winter rates for each tier for the Bakersfield area: (Click Read More to Continue)
PG&E is diligently upgrading its Bakersfield resident’s antiquated electricity and gas meters to new sophisticated SmartMeters. This new eco smart technology gives PG&E the ability to collect usage data without ever stepping foot on your property. Fortunately this data is available on their website, for its customers to view, along with your historical kWh consumption data. It has never been easier to observe your daily energy addiction than now.
Since my home was upgraded with a SmartMeter, I monitor my energy usage online. I use the PG&E website as a tool to understand my kWh draw and as a feedback source after changing appliances or usage habits. There was a time in the past when I took multiple daily reading from my old PG&E dial meter to determine usage, but now I can log into my account and determine my usage from anywhere in the world.
As you can see below, the Smart Meter usage information is compiled on a daily basis and can be graphed in monthly, weekly or daily scenarios for both gas and electric. As an added bonus your kWh usage can be graphed hourly. (Click Read More to Continue)
Have you ever noticed how many people forget to turn their porch lights off during the day? On recent tour of my neighborhood in Bakersfield, I counted 11 homes with the exterior lighting competing with the noon sun. You don’t have to be an eco freak to get this concept. Turn your porch lights off when the sun is shining!
My grandfather Stan used to follow my brother and I around his house yelling, “Why are these lights on? These cost money!” Well, needless to say, I learned that lesson early on in life and it drives me nuts to see people throwing money and resources down the toilet. If it’s yellow let it mellow! Sorry I got side tracked. The only redeeming factor in this energy wasting fiasco is that 8 out the 11 homes with their lights left on had CFL’s. But, come on! Let’s do the math. For arguments sake we will assume that the CFLs are 13 watt bulbs, and the incandescents are 40 watt bulbs. Lets also say each house has 2 lights on. (Click Read More to Continue)
It was a grim site, 48 of them, all lying without movement. Not but moments earlier they were all so full of energy, living their shinny happy lives. Now….. darkness, but only till the new regime moves in.
It all started several months ago with an audit , a walk around the house with my clipboard and an agenda. The agenda you ask? Complete and utter bulbacide. Ok, seriously… my plan?? My plan was to replace every incandescent light bulb in my entire house. This turned out to be more of a task then I could have ever imagined. There were so many wattages, sizes, shapes, and colors of CFL’s. I mean there was warm white, soft white, full spectrum, full spectrum daylight, halogen white, and many more that I can’t remember! Then there was Kelvin, do I want 2700 Kelvin, 3500 Kelvin, maybe 4100 Kelvin, wait, wait perhaps 6500 Kelvin!? I had no idea what kind of compact florescent to buy to replace what incandescent bulb. All I knew was I had almost 50 bulbs to replace. (Click Read More to Continue)
Yes, another green gadget that saves time, water and energy.
It seems that sometimes we humans cope with inefficiencies and inconveniencies when we really do not have to. My master bath shower is located the absolute longest distance from the hot water heater. The normal winter season bathing procedure is to turn on the master shower 5 minutes before use as to allow the hot water enough time reach this seemingly remote location. Even with a low to moderate flow shower heads, way too many gallons of water spew into the sewer.
I knew of hot water pumps on timers, recirculation lines, and expensive plumbers, but never could justify the rumored $1000.00 cost or the thought of my water heater in a constant “running” state from 5am to 9am. And what about the occasional noon shower? (Click Read More to Continue)
Here’s another tip before you go solar: install a whole house fan. I bought my AirScape Whole House Fan (WHF) about two years ago along with a couple of watt busting buddies of mine. This summer we installed four more fans for our friends; they couldn’t stand to hear us bragging about how much we liked our fans and how little we had to use our AC’S in these hot Bakersfield summers. I do have a small home (1230 sqft) that was built in the 1980’s, no pool. My wife is a teacher and is home during the summer and my largest PG&E bill last summer was $147.38 including gas. (Click Read More to Continue)
I will admit, I love gadgets, and gadgets that help save energy and money are even better! Not too long ago, my household utility bill was a major monthly expense ($500+ some months). My home is 2500 sq. ft. with a swimming pool. My wife, myself, and our two children live in the home year round. Over the past two years my family and I have been focusing on reducing our kWh consumption. We have changed incandescent bulbs to energy efficient CFL’s and have even started using LED lighting. We have also upgraded our older appliances to newer Energy Star rated appliances. Within a few short months, we were able to cut our kWh usage in half! Over the first year alone, our annual energy bill was slashed by 2600 dollars. Now, with the help of “The Energy Detective”, I am saving even more energy, and energy equals dollars.
Last month I purchased “The Energy Detective” also known as TED. TED is an energy monitor that allows my family to see our kWh consumption in real time! TED can also keeps a running daily kWh total. The TED unit was also super easy for my electrician friend Tim to install. Once the TED unit was installed and up and running, I was enthralled with turning different lights and appliances on and off to check their kWh draws. (Click Read More to Continue)