Ask Eco Ed: Renovating Our Home – Is Energy Efficiency Important?

Dear Eco-Ed:

We are planning a renovation, and were wondering if we should be looking at efficiency upgrades at this time.  Our budget is already stretched for the work we’re doing, and we would like to put off what we can, until a later date.

- “Movin’ On Up” in Ridgewood

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Live Green by adopting these 12 simple tips.

Eco-Ed gave NorthJersey.com some advice on how to live a green lifestyle. These simple steps will help save you money, reduce waste, and help minimize your carbon footprint. Read the quick and easy tips.

Ask Eco Ed: Beating the Summer Heat and Keeping utility Costs Down!

Dear Eco-Ed:

Oh My God , can it get any hotter?  Please help!!!  Is there any way to beat this heat, without breaking the bank?   My air conditioner is running constantly, and my family is still uncomfortable.   Our PSE&G bill is through the roof.  What is a family to do?

- Sweating in Ridgewood

Dear Sweating:

This heat certainly has been oppressive.  Not to worry, though, as there are many things you can do to beat the heat and control your costs.

-        Start your day earlier, when it is cooler.  Errands and outdoor activities are much more bearable before it gets scorching out.

-        Use a programmable thermostat.  If you have a formal schedule, lower your air conditioning (and heat in winter) in the hours while you are away.  Set them to bring it back to comfortable levels by the time you come home.  If your thermostat is manual, then raise it when you leave.  Keep in mind that heat pumps work more efficiently at steady temperatures.  **NOTE – WHEN REPLACING OLDER MERCURY (TYPICALLY CIRCULAR) THERMOSTATS, DISPOSE OF THEM AT HAZARDOUS WASTE PICK UP SITES, AS THEY CONTAIN HIGH AMOUNTS OF MERCURY, ALTOUGH IS SEALED INSIDE A GLASS BULB.

-        Follow the sun – draw blinds or curtains to minimize direct sunshine.  This heats up floors and furniture very quickly.  Eastern (early morning sun) windows should be drawn early, and western exposures later in the day.  For a more long term solution, plant shade trees and shrubs in proper areas to provide this benefit for you.

-        Keep lights and other electric appliances off, and switch to compact fluorescent and LED bulbs.  Have you ever touched a light bulb? 90% of its energy creates heat.  This heat is being dissipated into your living space constantly.  All those bulbs add up in a hurry, and increase the burden on your cooling system.

-        Use solar lights in your yard to minimize electricity used at night.  The selection is becoming greater and quality is improving constantly.  Start small and add lighting features as desired.

-        Be sure that your cooling equipment is properly maintained, refrigerant levels are good, filters are changed, etc.  An efficient system keeps you cooler, at a lower cost.

-        Get an energy audit.  This will identify where heat is getting in, cold air is escaping, the condition of your heating/air conditioning systems, along with many of the other items.  Proper insulation and air sealing works well in summer also.  It keeps the cold out in winter, and the heat out in the summer.

-        Take a nice cold shower.  It’s refreshing and lowers your body temperature, without using much hot water.

-        Do your laundry in cold water.  Newer, front loading machines with proper detergents get the same results with cold water.  Always do full loads of laundry to keep water and energy use down.  Same goes for dishwashers.

-        Dishwashers, dryers, and other heat producing appliances could be used at night, when it is cooler.

And my most favorite solution is to get to water!  Go swimming, play in a pool or even just a touch of cool water on your wrists and neck goes a long way towards keeping your body temperature down.

Ask Eco Ed your own question <<>> Read the Ask Eco Ed Column

Plant of the Day: Anise Hyssop – attracts bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds.

Anise Hyssop has flowers that are edible and will add extra flavor when crumbled into your summer salads. The flowers are highly attractive to bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds.

The open blue skies and warm summer temperatures make this weekend a perfect time to get your hands dirty in the garden. The first featured Plant of the Day this June is Anise Hyssop.

This native wildflower of north-central America has tiny lavender flowers that smell and taste of anise. The refreshing taste has many herb lovers using the fresh or dried leaves in tea or summer salads. Anise Hyssop grows to be 2-4 feet in height and about a foot in diameter. Plant Anise Hyssop now because you can count on the flowers to bloom in late summer.

Anise Hyssop offers other benefits besides its edible flowers. Anise Hyssop is highly attractive to bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds. These small beautiful animals will fly from plant to plant pollinating your entire summer garden.

Check out what other Plant of the Day articles have been published.

Ask Eco Ed your a gardening question <<>> More Plant of the Day

Ask Eco Ed: How do I Prepare My Home for Hurricane Season?

Dear Eco-Ed:

Storms like this past one make me wonder why I own an older home.  The basement is always damp, but only takes on water when we get huge amounts of rain, like this past weekend.  My kids like to play downstairs, but I’m concerned with them getting sick from any mold.  What should I do?

- Damp in Ridgewood

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Ask Eco Ed: My heating bills are out of controI, is there anything I can do?

Dear Eco-Ed:

My heating bills are out of control, and my house is still not a comfortable temperature. Is there anything I can do?

- Broke in Glen Rock

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Ask Eco Ed: Does Ridgewood accept all recyclable plastic?

Dear Eco-Ed:

I just heard that Ridgewood’s Recycling Program now accepts all recyclable plastic.  Is this true?

- Less Garbage in Ridgewood

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Chicago Tribune: Second life for a 240-year-old home

Eco Ed and his wife Julie Tung renovated the 240 year-old historic home to be environmentally sustainable.

The Chicago Tribune recently featured Eco Ed for the renovation work he did on the 240 year-old Victorian home. The main lesson Eco Ed learned from this project was that ”No matter how bad a shape it’s in, with the right people, it’s fixable. . .Take it step by step; don’t be overwhelmed.”

Read the full article to learn what other advice Eco Ed gave the Chicago Tribune.

Want some more renovation tips?
Check out this Quick Tip.