Green Living http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/4805/all en-US How Long Does It Take to Break Even With Solar Panels? http://www.wisebread.com/how-long-does-it-take-to-break-even-with-solar-panels <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-long-does-it-take-to-break-even-with-solar-panels" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/aerial_view_of_house_with_solar_panels.jpg" alt="Aerial view of house with solar panels" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Solar power has advanced leaps and bounds over the past couple decades, and those grid panels that harness the power of the sun and turn it into energy are everywhere. It's not uncommon to find at least one house in your neighborhood that has panels covering every square inch of its roof.</p> <p>You may have also been approached by a solar company rep about outfitting your home with panels. (These guys and gals are almost as ubiquitous as the product they're selling.) And maybe you don't understand the mechanics of solar home power &mdash; or its benefit to your wallet &mdash; which may make you hesitant to explore the option.</p> <p>Well, you're not alone. Those of us who haven't adopted solar energy yet still have a lot of questions &mdash; namely, what's this going to cost? And when will I break even?</p> <h2>The cost of solar panels</h2> <p>First, let's get down to the nitty-gritty of just how much solar panels will set you back. It's not cheap to save the planet, even though the sun has been free of charge for billions of years.</p> <p>The easiest way to calculate the average cost of solar panels, according to New England-based solar marketing company EnergySage, is to look at its price in dollars per watt, and those numbers are fairly consistent across the country.</p> <p>This year, &quot;most homeowners are <a href="http://news.energysage.com/how-much-does-the-average-solar-panel-installation-cost-in-the-u-s/" target="_blank">paying between $2.87 and $3.85 per watt</a> to install solar, and the average gross cost of solar panels before tax credits is $16,800,&quot; says EnergySage's data. Figure in tax credits and the price comes down to $10,000 to $13,500, based on the average 5kW (5,000 watts) system that's typically installed in the United States. EnergySage also says these numbers are about 9 percent lower than last year, but recommends comparing prices quoted to other homeowners in your area.</p> <p>Now that we know how much the system will set us back, the next reasonable question is how long will it take to break even. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-ways-anyone-can-go-solar-and-save-on-energy?ref=seealso" target="_blank">10 Ways Anyone Can Go Solar and Save on Energy</a>)</p> <h2>When you'll break even</h2> <p>Sarah Hancock is a digital marketing strategist who manages the solar coverage at BestCompany.com, an online review site that ranks companies in different industries. She says the amount of time it takes to break even depends on three main factors.</p> <h3>1. Current utility price</h3> <p>The higher the current electricity price is in your area, the more money you will save by going solar, which results in a faster break even time, Hancock says.</p> <p>&quot;For example, an individual who lives in California, where the price of electricity currently sits at about 17 cents per kilowatt-hour, will break even quicker than an individual who lives in Washington, where the electricity price is only 9 cents per kilowatt-hour, because the Californian will be saving more on his electricity bill each month,&quot; Hancock says.</p> <h3>2. Available incentives</h3> <p>These vary from state to state. There are a number of different incentives to take into consideration, including tax credits, rebates, performance payments, and tax exemptions. The more incentives available to you, the quicker your break-even time will be.</p> <p>&quot;One of those incentives is the 30 percent federal tax credit,&quot; says Andy Schell, marketing manager at Paradise Energy Solutions. &quot;This credit allows solar owners to recoup 30 percent of the project's cost. If you aren't able to recoup all 30 percent in year one, the remaining amount can be carried forward for 20 years until the full credit is expended. In addition, USDA grants and accelerated depreciation schedules are available for qualifying businesses and farms.&quot;</p> <p>This is a good resource to find <a href="https://bestcompany.com/solar/state/" target="_blank">solar-energy incentives available</a> in your state.</p> <h3>3. Method of payment</h3> <p>According to Hancock, you can purchase the panels outright, or get them on loan, lease, or PPA (power purchase agreement &mdash; which is a financial agreement that allows a developer to arrange the design, permits, financing, and installation of a solar energy system, and lasts anywhere from 10 to 25 years).</p> <p>However, there are fewer studies supporting the increased home value when you upgrade your home through a PPA or a lease. The reason is simple: With an upfront purchase or loan, the new buyer will not have to pay for any of the electricity produced by the panels because you would have already paid for it. With a PPA, the new buyer will still pay for electricity, simply at a lower rate than what other neighbors will pay to the utility company. Those agreements are easily transferable and can also be bought out by either seller or buyer if necessary.</p> <p>The payment method that will result in the quickest break-even time varies from state to state depending on the two other factors mentioned above &mdash; utility price and available incentives. If you live in a state with high electricity prices and several incentives, you will probably break even quicker with a loan because your energy savings will be higher than your loan payment. However, if you live in a state with low electricity prices and few incentives, you'll most likely break even faster with an outright purchase.</p> <p>&quot;To provide a general range,&quot; Hancock says, &quot;most individuals who go solar will break even in 15 to 25 years.&quot;</p> <h2>Leasing versus buying a solar system outright</h2> <p>&quot;We guide homeowners with what we've seen is the question that is most likely to help them decide what route to take: How much is your tax liability?&quot; says Julio Daniel Hernandez, a representative of renewable energy company EnLight.Energy.</p> <p>If your tax liability is big enough right now to able to take full advantage of the Federal and possible state tax incentives, he says, then you should take advantage of the available loans and tax credits. If you don't have the tax liability, then a PPA/Lease makes more sense. You'll get access to all of the energy your solar system can provide at a cheaper rate than your utility company (usually around 20% savings) and will not ever have to pay a dime out of pocket.</p> <p>As far as break-even calculations cost go, Hernandez's estimate is much more liberal than Hancock's.</p> <p>&quot;Break-even with a PPA/lease is zero because you don't pay anything; you just start saving right away similar to a third party electric company in a deregulated market,&quot; he says. &quot;If you buy a system, depending on the incentives available to you, break-even point should be around eight years or less.&quot;</p> <h2>How incentives and pricing have evolved</h2> <p>As an early adopter of solar power a decade ago, you would have made out like a bandit with incentives, but that's not the case now that so many people are switching over to the energy solution. But as with all technology, the longer it's been around, the cheaper it becomes on the front end.</p> <p>&quot;Unfortunately, there are fewer incentives available now than there were 10 years ago due to the increased popularity of solar power,&quot; explains Hancock. &quot;However, the good news is that the price of solar panels has dropped by more than 60 percent over the past 10 years. So, while fewer federal and state solar incentives are up for grabs, solar power is still more affordable than ever for consumers.&quot;</p> <h2>Is it a good investment?</h2> <p>In most states, solar power is a solid investment that will result in a significant return over the next 20 to 30 years.</p> <p>&quot;For example, an individual in California who purchases a solar system outright can probably expect to see a return between $30,000 and $40,000 over the next 25 years, while an individual in Washington could expect a return of about $10,000 for the same scenario,&quot; Hancock says.</p> <p>Although the dollar-for-dollar return isn't as high for the Washingtonian as it is for the Californian, both individuals are still saving money with solar power.</p> <p>Says Hernandez, &quot;Your home value is estimated to go up $15,000-plus by upgrading to solar energy. Some of this depends on the size of the system, but studies are showing that the bulk of the increase comes from simply putting panels on and then there's only a slight additional shift upward based on how big the system is.&quot;</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/mikey-rox">Mikey Rox</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-long-does-it-take-to-break-even-with-solar-panels">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-ways-anyone-can-go-solar-and-save-on-energy">10 Ways Anyone Can Go Solar and Save on Energy</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/cut-your-electric-bill-with-solar-panels">Cut Your Electric Bill With Solar Panels</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/where-to-take-your-batteries-cfl-bulbs-and-other-hard-to-recycle-stuff">Where to Take Your Batteries, CFL Bulbs, and Other Hard-to-Recycle Stuff</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/12-green-living-habits-thatll-save-you-every-month">12 Green Living Habits That&#039;ll Save You Every Month</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/landscaping-for-energy-conservation">Landscaping for Energy Conservation</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Green Living Home energy bills energy costs green lifestyle living green saving money solar energy solar panels Spending Money Thu, 15 Jun 2017 08:30:10 +0000 Mikey Rox 1965204 at http://www.wisebread.com Turn Your Backyard Into a Wildlife Refuge for Under $40 http://www.wisebread.com/turn-your-backyard-into-a-wildlife-refuge-for-under-40 <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/turn-your-backyard-into-a-wildlife-refuge-for-under-40" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-167920766.jpg" alt="Learning how to turn a backyard into a wildlife refuge" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>One of my favorite things about where I live is that there is all kinds of wildlife I can see right outside my window. I don't need to go anywhere to experience nature. If you want to boost the wildlife population in your yard, here are some inexpensive ideas that provide a safe habitat for local creatures.</p> <h2>Bee house</h2> <p>Build a <a href="http://diydelray.com/2012/03/12/build-a-mason-bee-house-and-they-will-come/" target="_blank">mason bee house</a> to attract these pollinating bees to live and work in your yard. You can also buy a stylish <a href="http://amzn.to/2pflMEm" target="_blank">pre-made mason bee house</a> for about $20.</p> <h2>Bird house</h2> <p>Install a birdhouse to give birds a place to live in your yard even if you don&rsquo;t have a lot of natural nesting sites. You can design and build your own birdhouse from a variety of scavenged materials including coffee cans and cowboy boots or order a <a href="http://amzn.to/2pfcRTd" target="_blank">wooden birdhouse kit</a> for around $12.</p> <h2>Bird feeder</h2> <p>Birds will come from all around if you put out a bird feeder and keep it stocked with fresh birdseed. You can choose a simple <a href="http://amzn.to/2opFtKc" target="_blank">tube-style feeder</a> for as cheap as $5&ndash;$10, or get a rectangular feeder for a few dollars more. Sprinkle a bit of feed on the ground to help birds find it.</p> <h2>Hummingbird feeder</h2> <p>You can attract hummingbirds to your yard by putting out a <a href="http://amzn.to/2pYtBMj" target="_blank">nectar feeder</a>, which will cost around $10. Hummingbirds are attracted to red, so choose a feeder that is red or one that has a clear glass that can be filled with <a href="http://amzn.to/2pYwqwZ" target="_blank">red nectar</a>. Change the nectar every few days to keep it fresh. You can buy this nectar in bulk (about 64 oz) for about $10. I mix my own nectar in small batches using a powdered formula. You can also keep unused portions of nectar fresh in your refrigerator until you need to add it to your feeder.</p> <h2>Oriole feeder</h2> <p>Orioles are distinctive orange and black birds that like to eat sweet things. Attract them with a <a href="http://amzn.to/2pYITB4" target="_blank">nectar or jelly feeder</a> for about $10 featuring the color orange.</p> <h2>Birdbath</h2> <p>Put out a <a href="http://amzn.to/2oZmLId" target="_blank">birdbath</a>, and birds will come to your yard to take a bath and get a drink. A birdbath can run anywhere from $10&ndash;$40, depending on the size you get. Keep <a href="http://homeguides.sfgate.com/birdbaths-mosquitoes-46164.html" target="_blank">mosquitoes from using your birdbath</a> as a habitat by changing the water at least once a week, or use a bacterial insecticide that is not harmful to birds, fish, or other wildlife.</p> <h2>Suet feeder</h2> <p>Woodpeckers and other insect-eating birds will visit a <a href="http://amzn.to/2oZnVmT" target="_blank">suet feeder</a> (for only $10!) to get some quick energy. You can use a small metal cage or a netted bag to hold suet so that birds can access it. Place a suet cake or suet ball in your feeder and watch the fun.</p> <h2>Bat house</h2> <p>I enjoy watching bats fly around at dusk eating mosquitoes and other insects. Attract bats to your yard by putting up <a href="http://amzn.to/2pZBsfL" target="_blank">bat houses</a>. You can build your own bat house from plans or buy a preassembled bat house for about $30.</p> <h2>Squirrel feeder</h2> <p>Some people consider squirrels to be pests that raid their bird feeders, while others think squirrels are entertaining and enjoy having them around. If squirrels amuse you, put out a <a href="http://amzn.to/2pZGp83" target="_blank">squirrel feeder</a> (for about $25) to serve up ears of corn and bring squirrels in close for easy viewing.</p> <h2>Butterfly plants</h2> <p>There are a number of plants that can attract butterflies to your yard. A <a href="http://amzn.to/2pYn5oW" target="_blank">butterfly bush</a> includes low-cost seeds (a pack of 500 seeds runs around $5) and has abundant fragrant blooms that draw butterflies in from all around to feed on nectar. Milkweed attracts Monarch butterflies, since they are a favorite plant for Monarch caterpillars to eat.</p> <h2>Native prairie plants</h2> <p>Native prairie plants require less water than other landscape plants and attract birds and insects. These plants are a great natural feature that you can enjoy right in your own yard. You can grow prairie plants from seeds, or you can buy <a href="http://www.prairienursery.com/store/native-plants" target="_blank">small prairie plants</a> for $5&ndash;$10 that are ready to transplant to your yard. There are several varieties of prairie plants to choose from including ferns, grasses, and flowers. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/13-simple-gardening-skills-anybody-can-master?ref=seealso" target="_blank">13 Simple Gardening Skills Anybody Can Master</a>)</p> <h2>Unmowed area for shelter</h2> <p>You can leave an area of your yard unmown to provide shelter for wildlife. For a small area, you can use a hoe to take out any undesired weeds, resulting in an area of tall grasses that provides shelter and a natural source of nesting materials for the ecosystem in your yard, and that won't cost a thing.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dr-penny-pincher">Dr Penny Pincher</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/turn-your-backyard-into-a-wildlife-refuge-for-under-40">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-ways-to-get-fit-while-hanging-out-with-animals">8 Ways to Get Fit While Hanging Out With Animals</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/50-ways-to-have-free-outdoor-fun">50+ Ways to Have Free Outdoor Fun</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-refillable-things-that-will-save-you-cash">10 Refillable Things That Will Save You Cash</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-big-of-a-house-do-you-really-need">How Big of a House Do You Really Need?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-homemade-pet-products-that-are-cheaper-and-better-than-store-bought">7 Homemade Pet Products That Are Cheaper and Better Than Store Bought</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Green Living Lifestyle animals backyard projects bird feeder birds diy projects wildlife wildlife refuge Thu, 27 Apr 2017 08:30:13 +0000 Dr Penny Pincher 1934995 at http://www.wisebread.com 5 Stocks to Buy If You Love the Earth http://www.wisebread.com/5-stocks-to-buy-if-you-love-the-earth <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-stocks-to-buy-if-you-love-the-earth" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-470145114.jpg" alt="buy these stocks if you love the earth and money" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="142" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Socially responsible investing (SRI) isn't a new concept, but it's an increasingly popular one in a world focused more on sustainability. The &quot;green&quot; subsection of SRI is environmentally-conscious investing, geared towards investment in companies that promote environmental stewardship. Think clean energy, sustainable resources, infrastructure, waste management, even consulting services.</p> <p>Rolling in green doesn't have to mean a choice between fields or bills. You now can do both, all at once if you prefer. We picked five funds that successfully blend environmentally-conscious investments with performance.</p> <p>(A note on tracking the performance of your &quot;green&quot; investments: Different sectors often use specialized indices to benchmark performance within their niche. Keep that in mind when choosing how to allocate your portfolio.)</p> <h2>1. Pax World Global Environmental Markets Fund [MUTF: PGRNX]</h2> <p>Beloved by the environmental community and investors alike, the Pax World Global Environmental Markets Fund focuses on long-term growth in sustainable investing. The fund evaluates financials along with environmental, social, and governance (ESG) analysis on its holdings, carefully balancing a stringent set of criteria to evaluate investments. And it's paid off. The fund has outperformed global market benchmarks, has an average five-year return of <a href="http://paxworld.com/funds/pax-world-mutual-funds/global-environmental-markets-fund" target="_blank">10.77 percent</a>, and Morningstar gives it a <a href="http://www.morningstar.com/funds/XNAS/PGRNX/quote.html" target="_blank">three-star rating</a>. Plus, it's fossil-fuel free.</p> <h2>2. Guggenheim Solar ETF [NYSEARCA: TAN]</h2> <p>Guggenheim Investments' Guggenheim Solar ETF (with a very easy to remember ticker symbol) is an <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/exchange-traded-funds-the-low-fee-investment-option-you-dont-know-about?ref=internal" target="_blank">exchange-traded fund</a> perfect for the investor who loves solar energy. The fund invests in solar energy-related segments across the industry, from supplies and lighting to raw materials and installers.</p> <h2>3. Pattern Energy Group Inc Class A [NASDAQ: PEGI]</h2> <p>Pattern Energy Group focuses on independent energy producers, with a specialization in wind and solar renewable energy. Pattern's newest wind farm is an impressive 150 acres, and it's not just the size that's impressive. The wind farm will generate 100 percent of the electricity for Amazon Web Services. PEGI outperformed its peers over a three year period. A lackluster 2014 for the independent energy sector overall hurt performance stats against the S&amp;P 500, but the gains since then are impressive, and PEGI's potential for future earnings looks bright.</p> <h2>4. Etho Climate Leadership U.S. ETF [NYSEARCA: ETHO]</h2> <p>Here's an ETF that focuses on industry leaders with small carbon footprints. ETHO is &quot;the first diversified index ETF that <a href="http://www.ethoetf.com/fund/" target="_blank">avoids fossil fuel companies</a> and the first public investment product to select equities based primarily on an assessment of an equity's carbon footprint.&quot; Etho Capital, the fund manager, also provides the Etho Climate Leadership Index [ECLI], a performance benchmark for companies with the smallest carbon footprints in their industries.</p> <h2>5. Ameresco [NYSE: AMRC]</h2> <p>Ameresco focuses on asset sustainability and renewable energy resources, providing performance contracting and consulting. Helping government entities reduce energy bills helps in part to pay for the work, and they're growing rapidly. Ameresco surged past earnings predictions for 2016, and the company plans to build on that in 2017. A growing demand for services should help them on their path.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/erin-c-oneil">Erin C. O&#039;Neil</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-stocks-to-buy-if-you-love-the-earth">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/socially-responsible-investing-goes-green">Socially Responsible Investing Goes Green</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-easy-ways-to-start-green-investing">5 Easy Ways to Start Green Investing</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/save-the-planet-work-at-home">Save the Planet: Work at Home</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/a-simple-guide-to-socially-responsible-investing">A Simple Guide to Socially Responsible Investing</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/cut-your-electric-bill-with-solar-panels">Cut Your Electric Bill With Solar Panels</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Green Living Investment clean energy Earth day eco-friendly stocks environment renewable energy socially responsible investing solar SRI Wed, 19 Apr 2017 08:00:08 +0000 Erin C. O'Neil 1928276 at http://www.wisebread.com Where to Take Your Batteries, CFL Bulbs, and Other Hard-to-Recycle Stuff http://www.wisebread.com/where-to-take-your-batteries-cfl-bulbs-and-other-hard-to-recycle-stuff <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/where-to-take-your-batteries-cfl-bulbs-and-other-hard-to-recycle-stuff" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-157506789.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Not only is it harmful to the earth to throw recyclable items into landfills, but it's now illegal to dump certain items in many places. When an item isn't accepted by your city's regular recycling pickup, it can be tempting to just chuck it in the trash. Here's how to properly dispose of those tricky items.</p> <h2>1. Non-rechargeable batteries</h2> <p>The AAs from your kids' toys, those weird little coin-shaped ones, the 9-volt batteries from your smoke detector, even dead cellphone batteries &mdash; none of those should be going to the landfill. Check with your local trash service, because some of them will pick up batteries and dispose of them properly if they're left in a specified place or container. Increasingly, public facilities such as libraries and city halls have battery collection boxes, as well. If you don't know of a location, look up the nearest one on <a href="http://www.call2recycle.org/locator/" target="_blank">Call2Recycle</a>. The nonprofit says that most of us live within 10 miles of a battery drop-off point.</p> <h2>2. Rechargeable batteries</h2> <p>These batteries can't be re-juiced forever, and when they're done, it can be challenging to find someone to take them. But it's even more important to keep these guys out of the landfill than regular batteries, because they contain dangerous heavy metals. You can drop them off at some retailers. Again, check Call2Recycle for locations near you.</p> <h2>3. Cellphones</h2> <p>If you're getting rid of your phone, leave the battery in it and drop it off at a recycling kiosk, public drop-off box, or nonprofit organization. Fortunately, many used smartphones are still worth money, so there are a lot of <a href="http://www.techrepublic.com/article/10-places-to-recycle-your-cell-phone/">organizations that will take them</a>.</p> <h2>4. CFL bulbs</h2> <p>These twisty light bulbs are another dangerous one to chuck in the landfill, because of the mercury they contain. Check out <a href="http://earth911.com/recycling-guide/how-to-recycle-cfls/" target="_blank">earth911</a> for locations near you that will take them. Sometimes you can even just drop them at stores like The Home Depot, Lowe's, or Ace Hardware.</p> <h2>5. Eye glasses</h2> <p>Jinkies, don't ever throw away an outdated pair of specs! <a href="http://www.lionsclubs.org/EN/how-we-serve/health/sight/index.php" target="_blank">The Lions Club</a> can deliver your castoff glasses to a low-income person in need &mdash; and yes, they sort them for prescription first so they can match the eyewear to the need. Many optometrist offices have Lions Club collection boxes, but if you can't find one, you can contact your local club or mail them in.</p> <h2>6. Electronics</h2> <p>Goodwill <a href="http://donate-electronics.sfgoodwill.org/" target="_blank">accepts donations of working electronics</a> at their stores, or they can pick them up. They will even wipe your personal data off your hard drive for free. Specifically, Goodwill accepts desktop and laptop computers, tablets, business network switches and routers, and servers, all five years old or less. Any older electronics will have to go to an e-waste collector.</p> <h2>7. CRT monitors</h2> <p>Picture tubes contain lead, so this is another product that it's extra-important to keep out of landfills. One thing Goodwill will not accept is a bulky, old-style monitor. Drop them off at <a href="http://www.staples.com/sbd/cre/marketing/sustainability-center/recycling-services/?icid=SustProducts:topnav:3:RECYCLE:" target="_blank">Staples for free</a>. Or drop off up to two computer monitors of any kind, per day, at <a href="http://www.bestbuy.com/site/clp/recycling/pcmcat149900050025.c?id=pcmcat149900050025" target="_blank">Best Buy</a>, but you will have to pay them $25 to take them off your hands. You can also contact the company that made the monitor to find out if they have a take-back or trade-in program.</p> <h2>8. TVs</h2> <p>Smaller TVs can be dropped off at electronics stores. If you have a large TV to get rid of, you'll have to contact an e-waste company such as <a href="https://www.allgreenrecycling.com/certified-tv-recycling/" target="_blank">All Green</a>, and they can either come pick it up for a fee, or allow you to drop it off. You could also try contacting your local government, since many have e-waste drop-off centers or schedule e-waste collection days that include TVs.</p> <h2>9. Printer ink and toner cartridges</h2> <p>Good news here: You can actually get money or store credit for ink cartridges from office supply stores or online buyback programs. Call your local office supply store.</p> <h2>10. Tires</h2> <p>Once considered useless, 90 percent of old tires now live on as playground surfaces, building materials, and even fuels. Turns out, a single tire contains five gallons of oil! Contact a local tire store to find out if they will take them, or check with your state to see if there is an official tire disposal plan. Otherwise check <a href="http://earth911.com/recycling-guide/how-to-recycle-tires/" target="_blank">earth911</a> for additional locations. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/12-cool-ways-to-make-treasure-out-of-trash?ref=seealso" target="_blank">12 Cool Ways to Make Treasure Out of Trash</a>)</p> <h2>11. Appliances</h2> <p>Because they contain metal that can be sold as scrap, unwanted appliances are usually easy to get rid of &mdash; you might even get paid for them. My electric utility paid me $35 for the privilege of picking up my old freezer.</p> <p>Retailers will often take away an old appliance for free when delivering a new one. But when my dryer broke, Sears Outlet wanted to charge me to remove it. I asked around and get the number for a local independent scrap dealer, who was at my house with a dolly to haul it away within an hour.</p> <h2>12. Paint and chemicals</h2> <p>Contact your town, city, or county to find out the procedure for disposing of Household Hazardous Waste. Los Angeles county, for instance, hosts regular HHW collection events. The county reuses discarded paint for covering graffiti, and converts used motor oil into marine diesel fuel.</p> <h2>13. Medication</h2> <p>According to the Food and Drug Administration, you should contact your waste collection service or your local government to find out if there is a medication take-back program in your area. If you can't get them to such a program, the FDA suggests you mix old pills with an undesirable substance such as kitty litter, seal it in a plastic bag, and throw it in the trash.</p> <h2>If all else fails</h2> <p>If you don't have time to call around to find out about the next e-waste collection day or drug take-back program, find a battery drop-box, or contact a scrap dealer, there are two other convenient ways to get rid of practically anything:</p> <h3>Pay someone else</h3> <p>1-800-GOT-JUNK? and similar companies will pick up an appliance, an old hot tub, tires, construction waste, TVs &mdash; anything not considered hazardous. They promise to dispose of it responsibly. Of course, this kind of ease comes at a price, about $500 a truckload, on average.</p> <h3>List the item on Freecycle</h3> <p>You never know what trash of yours could be another person's treasure. I've had success getting members of my community to take away empty glass bottles, old magazines, unwanted furniture, and broken electronics, all by listing them on my <a href="https://www.freecycle.org/" target="_blank">local Freecycle group</a>.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/carrie-kirby">Carrie Kirby</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/where-to-take-your-batteries-cfl-bulbs-and-other-hard-to-recycle-stuff">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-long-does-it-take-to-break-even-with-solar-panels">How Long Does It Take to Break Even With Solar Panels?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/save-money-by-rekindling-the-art-of-reusing-your-stuff">Save Money by Rekindling the Art of Reusing your Stuff</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-ways-anyone-can-go-solar-and-save-on-energy">10 Ways Anyone Can Go Solar and Save on Energy</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/17-cheap-and-awesome-reusable-replacements-for-disposable-products">17 Cheap and Awesome Reusable Replacements for Disposable Products</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-greener-cheaper-alternatives-to-paper-cleaning-products">9 Greener, Cheaper Alternatives to Paper Cleaning Products</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Green Living Home batteries environmental go green how to recycle light bulbs living green recycle Tue, 04 Apr 2017 08:30:22 +0000 Carrie Kirby 1921101 at http://www.wisebread.com 10 Most Valuable Things to Plant in Your Garden This Spring http://www.wisebread.com/10-most-valuable-things-to-plant-in-your-garden-this-spring <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/10-most-valuable-things-to-plant-in-your-garden-this-spring" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-501121750.jpg" alt="Woman learning what to plant in her garden this spring" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>With the days getting longer and warmer, I find myself looking out the window thinking about what to plant in my garden. I usually decide what to plant by choosing things that I like to eat, or things that grow well in my location. This year I decided to look at garden planting strategy from an economic angle. Considering the value of the produce, the likely amount of production, the garden space required, and the general desirability of the produce, here are the 10 most valuable things to plant in your garden this year.</p> <h2>1. Garlic</h2> <p>Since garlic is one of the <a href="https://www.ams.usda.gov/mnreports/wa_lo100.txt" target="_blank">most expensive produce items to buy in-store</a>, growing it yourself is a much better plan. Whether you're buying the full cloves, the striped cloves that are pre-washed, or the pre-minced garlic, you're paying way more for this plantable item than necessary. To save even more money on your garlic harvest, you can <a href="http://www.onestrawrevolution.net/One_Straw_Revolution/Article_Garlic_Plant_Once.html" target="_blank">grow it as a perennial</a>, and not have to replant it every year.</p> <h2>2. Cilantro</h2> <p>Cilantro can be a relatively inexpensive item to buy, but how often do you use up everything you buy? It is also a plant that <a href="http://www.cheapvegetablegardener.com/most-profitable-plants-in-your/" target="_blank">produces the highest dollar value per square foot</a> based on typical production in good growing conditions. <a href="http://homeguides.sfgate.com/cilantro-perennial-herb-67386.html" target="_blank">Cilantro is an annual</a>, but it seeds itself so well that you might think it is a perennial.</p> <h2>3. Lettuce/Mixed Greens/Spinach</h2> <p>Whatever green, leafy base your favorite salad requires, you would be wise to grow it yourself this spring. Spinach, mixed greens, and lettuce are all quite pricey in the produce aisle. You're usually paying for convenience with these items, so they're often found bagged or boxed, pre-washed, and free of stems. But if you plant them yourself, along with arugula and Swiss chard, you'll get the most value per square foot. Plus, you'll know exactly what you're getting and just how clean it is.</p> <h2>4. Chive</h2> <p>Like garlic, chives are a perennial plant, so you only have to plant once and can count on it growing back every year. It's also another produce item found on the list of <a href="http://www.cheapvegetablegardener.com/most-profitable-plants-in-your/" target="_blank">crops that produce the highest dollar value per square foot</a> based on typical production in good growing conditions.</p> <h2>5. Cherry Tomato</h2> <p>There's something particularly satisfying about biting into a juicy tomato you grew in your very own garden. And since cherry tomatoes are small, you tend to go through them quickly. You'll no longer be paying top dollar for each box when you can pick what you need from your garden.</p> <h2>6. Peas</h2> <p>Instead of shucking store-bought peas, why not experience the pride of shucking peas that emerged from the ground outside your house? Freeze the surplus from your harvest and you'll have peas to use year-round.</p> <h2>7. Bell Pepper</h2> <p>Have you ever watched a bell pepper grow in a garden? It's kind of amazing. They start small, then they gain some length and width, and then the finale is when the robust color shines through the pale green. Depending on how long you let them ripen, you'll get red, orange, yellow, or green. But when you buy these in-store, you're paying a premium. So why not save some cash and grow them at home?</p> <h2>8. Jalapeño Pepper</h2> <p>A spicey member of the pepper family, jalapeño peppers are also cheaper to grow than they are to buy. Just make sure you give them direct access to sunlight as these guys love to sunbathe.</p> <h2>9. Artichoke</h2> <p>Artichokes are another perennial gem. They are cheaper to grow, but they do need moist soil in order to thrive. Also, make sure you keep them free of surrounding weeds that could get in their way.</p> <h2>10. Onion</h2> <p>Onions might not be a produce item that you feel like you're spending a lot on at the store. But just because you're used to a certain, fairly low price doesn't mean you need to pay it. Grow your own onions and you'll be saving money over time. Plus, if you plant scallions, they could be ready for eating in 20-30 days!</p> <h2>Growing your own most valuable plants</h2> <p>You can grow these plants even if you don't have space for a garden. Start these plants in containers on a patio or balcony.</p> <p>Another factor to consider in selecting the most valuable things to grow is how much space is required per plant. Plants that take up less room work better in small gardens, and smaller plants allow more variety in whatever size garden you have to work with.</p> <h3>Check for hardiness, too</h3> <p>The hardiness of plants and the climate that they need to grow must also be considered when deciding what to plant in your garden. It would not work out well to try to harvest a high value crop from a plant that will not grow in your climate. You can check your <a href="http://planthardiness.ars.usda.gov/PHZMWeb/" target="_blank">hardiness zone using a map available from the USDA</a> and then check seed packets or listings in seed catalogs to make sure that the things you want to plant will grow in your area before you buy them. If you have more room available, you will be able to grow some of the larger plants such as squash, pumpkins, and large tomatoes.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dr-penny-pincher">Dr Penny Pincher</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-most-valuable-things-to-plant-in-your-garden-this-spring">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-mosquito-repellent-plants-with-a-dual-purpose">6 Mosquito-Repellent Plants With a Dual Purpose</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-decorative-plants-you-can-eat-too">6 Decorative Plants You Can Eat, Too</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-to-do-with-100-tomatoes">What to Do With 100 Tomatoes</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-ways-to-make-use-of-sub-par-produce">7 Ways to Make Use of Sub-Par Produce</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-cheap-ways-to-deter-garden-pests">8 Cheap Ways to Deter Garden Pests</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Food and Drink Green Living gardening gardening tips growing plants healthy eating herbs plants vegetable garden veggies Wed, 22 Mar 2017 10:00:13 +0000 Dr Penny Pincher 1913522 at http://www.wisebread.com 10 Ways Anyone Can Go Solar and Save on Energy http://www.wisebread.com/10-ways-anyone-can-go-solar-and-save-on-energy <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/10-ways-anyone-can-go-solar-and-save-on-energy" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-129944919.jpg" alt="Woman saving on energy and going solar" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>The more electricity you use, the more you pay for it. And in a world that is becoming increasingly dependent upon tech devices, something's gotta give. Luckily, there's a way to save money on those bills and help the environment, all at the same time. You just need to capture those intense rays of sunshine and use them for free energy. There are many ways you can harvest energy from the sun. Some methods are free and have been in use for thousands of years. Others require an investment in technology, but in some cases you can even make money by capturing free energy from the sun and selling it!</p> <h2>1. Solar panels</h2> <p>A few years ago, it would have been unusual to spot a house with solar panels on the roof, but now solar panels seem to be popping up in neighborhoods all over. If you have a south-facing roof (or west-facing) and get lots of sunny days in your area, <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/cut-your-electric-bill-with-solar-panels?ref=internal" target="_blank">installing solar panels</a> to generate electricity can be a smart investment. The cost of solar panels has dropped in recent years, and with major players such as Tesla starting to produce solar panels, further price drops and improvements in capability may lie ahead. If your solar panels generate more electricity than you use, in many states you can sell this extra energy to the utility company and make money through net metering programs.</p> <p><strong>Cost:</strong> Thousands of dollars up front, depending on square footage installed.</p> <p><strong>Potential savings:</strong> About a thousand dollars per year, depending on your location.</p> <p><strong>DIY?</strong> No, solar panels typically require professional installation.</p> <h2>2. Passive solar heating</h2> <p>This method of harvesting energy from the sun is not new and does not require any special technology. My house has a solarium with south-facing windows to allow sunlight to flood in during winter months. The solarium walls capture the warmth and radiate it back into the house, providing free heating. Any south-facing windows you have in your house will work to provide heating benefits in winter. Open curtains on your south-facing windows on winter days to let light and heat in. Close curtains at night during winter and when the sun is shining in during the summer.</p> <p><strong>Cost:</strong> Free if you have south-facing windows.</p> <p><strong>Potential savings:</strong> Hundreds of dollars per year.</p> <p><strong>DIY?</strong> No, look for south-facing windows when choosing or building a house.</p> <h2>3. Solar water heater</h2> <p>Heating water requires a lot of energy, so why not capture some of that free energy from the sun instead of running up your electric or gas bill? A solar water heater circulates water through an insulated collector using a water tank that is painted black to maximize heat collection. This hot water can be used directly or can be fed into a traditional water heater to save energy.</p> <p><strong>Cost:</strong> A few hundred dollars, depending on whether or not you can install yourself.</p> <p><strong>Potential savings:</strong> Hundreds of dollars per year.</p> <p><strong>DIY?</strong> A solar water heater can be built from plans and scavenged materials, but you may need a plumber to install.</p> <h2>4. Clothesline</h2> <p>With a clothesline in your yard, you can use free energy from the sun to dry clothes and avoid running your clothes' dryer on hot summer days. You can save the energy it takes to run your dryer, plus you'll save on cooling costs as well. Without having to use a fan or air conditioner just to cool down a part of your apartment or home that's hot from a running dryer, those summer energy bills will go way down. And if you don't have the available yard space outside to hang a clothesline, you can also install one indoors near a window.</p> <p><strong>Cost:</strong> Under $100</p> <p><strong>Potential savings:</strong> About a hundred dollars per year.</p> <p><strong>DIY?</strong> Yes, installing a clothesline is a simple do-it-yourself project.</p> <h2>5. Solar food dehydrator</h2> <p>Instead of buying and powering yet another kitchen appliance, you can use free energy from the sun to dehydrate fruits, vegetables, and even meat for storage. Solar food dehydrators use a heat collection box to collect solar energy and a dehydrator box where food is placed to be dried.</p> <p><strong>Cost:</strong> Under $100</p> <p><strong>Potential savings: </strong>A few dollars per year.</p> <p><strong>DIY?</strong> Yes, this can easily be built from plans.</p> <h2>6. Solar oven</h2> <p>You can build your own solar oven and enjoy some off-the-grid cooking. Can a solar oven really get hot enough to cook food, though? A solar oven typically reaches temperatures of 250-350 F. You can safely prepare food, including meat, by cooking at a lower temperature for a longer time. A big advantage of a solar oven is that you can cook in places without any utility hookups and without burning any fuel.</p> <p><strong>Cost:</strong> Under $100</p> <p><strong>Potential savings: </strong>A few dollars per year.</p> <p><strong>DIY?</strong> Yes, this can easily be built from plans.</p> <h2>7. Grow plants</h2> <p>What does growing plants have to do with solar energy? Plants capture energy from the sun directly and use this energy to produce edible leaves, fruits, and vegetables. Harvesting food from plants is an effective and inexpensive way to take advantage of free solar energy.</p> <p><strong>Cost:</strong> Less than $100.</p> <p><strong>Potential savings:</strong> Hundreds of dollars per year, depends of size of garden.</p> <p><strong>DIY?</strong> You bet!</p> <h2>8. Wind turbine</h2> <p>Heating of the earth's atmosphere from the sun provides the energy that causes wind to blow. If you have a site that gets a lot of wind, you can capture some of this indirect solar energy by using a wind turbine to generate electricity. As with solar panels, in many places you can take advantage of net metering and get paid for excess electricity that you generate and put on the power grid for others to use.</p> <p><strong>Cost:</strong> Thousands of dollars up front, depending on size.</p> <p><strong>Potential savings:</strong> Hundreds of dollars per year.</p> <p><strong>DIY?</strong> Smaller units could be assembled and installed by a homeowner; larger units require professional installation.</p> <h2>9. Solar furnace</h2> <p>With a solar furnace, you can warm up air for free using energy from the sun and direct the warm air to a space you want to heat. A solar furnace can be operated independently from your main furnace to provide supplemental heating during daytime hours.</p> <p><strong>Cost:</strong> Hundreds of dollars up front.</p> <p><strong>Potential savings:</strong> Hundreds of dollars per year.</p> <p><strong>DIY?</strong> Yes, this can be built from plans.</p> <h2>10. Solar charger</h2> <p>Solar chargers, and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-solar-power-banks?ref=internal" target="_blank">solar power banks</a> directly use energy from the sun to power electronic devices. Many are small and easy to travel with, so you won't need to stress if you're somewhere outdoors and you can't plug in your phone charger. Use those intense rays to give your phone or other device the juice it needs before the sun goes down. You can also make this a regular charging option if you leave your charger out during the day, and use it at night to charge your devices while you sleep.</p> <p><strong>Cost: </strong>Less than $100</p> <p><strong>Potential savings: </strong>It varies, depending on how much you currently use your devices at home.</p> <p><strong>DIY?</strong> Yes, but the DIY won&rsquo;t save much compared to buying one.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dr-penny-pincher">Dr Penny Pincher</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-ways-anyone-can-go-solar-and-save-on-energy">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-long-does-it-take-to-break-even-with-solar-panels">How Long Does It Take to Break Even With Solar Panels?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/where-to-take-your-batteries-cfl-bulbs-and-other-hard-to-recycle-stuff">Where to Take Your Batteries, CFL Bulbs, and Other Hard-to-Recycle Stuff</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/34-smart-ways-to-cut-your-electric-bill">34 Smart Ways to Cut Your Electric Bill</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/cut-your-electric-bill-with-solar-panels">Cut Your Electric Bill With Solar Panels</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-ways-youre-wasting-electricity-without-realizing-it">8 Ways You&#039;re Wasting Electricity Without Realizing It</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Green Living Home electricity energy costs environmental costs gardening go green saving money solar heating solar panels Tue, 21 Mar 2017 10:31:12 +0000 Dr Penny Pincher 1911513 at http://www.wisebread.com The High Cost of Keeping Warm http://www.wisebread.com/the-high-cost-of-keeping-warm <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-high-cost-of-keeping-warm" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-175238511.jpg" alt="Spend less to heat your home" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Feeling chilly? You're not alone. As temperatures plummet across the United States and beyond, people are reaching for their scarves and sweaters, inching up their thermostats, and finding all sorts of other ways to keep warm. How much does it all cost? Here are a few numbers to mull over while you microwave your hot cocoa.</p> <h2>Cost of Keeping Warm</h2> <p>Let's start our look at the costs associated with keeping warm close to home &mdash; in fact this starts right at home.</p> <h3>The Price of Home Heating</h3> <p>Likely one of the biggest ticket items of all is heating your home. The state of Massachusetts, for example, released projections for <a href="http://www.mass.gov/eea/energy-utilities-clean-tech/misc/household-heating-costs.html" target="_blank">annual home heating costs</a> last year by fuel type. These numbers are staggering, but &mdash; surprisingly &mdash; are down an average of 22% from the previous year.</p> <ul> <li>$879 for natural gas;</li> <li>$2,248 for oil;</li> <li>$2,569 for propane;</li> <li>$697 for electric heating.</li> </ul> <p><strong>Note</strong>: How much you'll spend on heat depends on a number of factors, including how energy efficient your home is, as well as the condition of your furnace or other heating appliances.</p> <p>My husband and I learned the hard way that a new gas furnace and installation can set you back $4,000 or more. And it's not exactly one of those things you can put off until next season or even next week, especially if it dies when the temperatures are below zero and you have a newborn in the house.</p> <h3>The Price of Home Energy Efficiency</h3> <p>Many people choose to undertake big home projects to make their houses more energy efficient. Adding insulation to attics and walls is a popular choice to help keep heat inside. The average cost of installing blown-in insulation ranges from $875 to $1,897, according to HomeAdvisor.</p> <p>Other insulation price averages include:</p> <ul> <li>$1,000 for spray foam insulation;</li> <li>$300 to $500 for fiberglass batt;</li> <li>$675 to $1,075 for reflective or radiant barrier.</li> </ul> <p>Thankfully, this cost is most often a one-time thing. And increasing your home's insulation can help save up to $500 (spray foam) a year in heating/cooling costs. Plus, some states even offer weatherization rebates and tax credits. To see if you apply, visit <a href="http://energy.gov/savings" target="_blank">Energy.gov</a>.</p> <h3>Environmental Costs</h3> <p>Perhaps more important than money, heating homes taxes the Earth's resources. It burns fossil fuels that are in relatively short supply. Not only that, but there's also energy and expense involved in extracting the fuels, transporting them, and &mdash; in the end &mdash; waste that is left behind when the process is done.</p> <p>Currently, fossil fuels are used in the United States to power up to <a href="http://instituteforenergyresearch.org/topics/encyclopedia/fossil-fuels/" target="_blank">81% of our energy needs</a>. And when you're talking about global warming &mdash; a good chunk of that has to do with home heating as well. In 2014, the fossil fuels burned for heating made up <a href="https://www.epa.gov/ghgemissions/sources-greenhouse-gas-emissions" target="_blank">12% of overall greenhouse gas emissions</a>.</p> <h2>Sustainable and Cost-Effective Ways to Cozy Up</h2> <p>There's good news here: You can tweak your routine slightly and still keep warm, all while not breaking the bank or harming the environment.</p> <h3>Layer Up</h3> <p>Before you crank up the heat, look at what you're wearing. Slip on a base layer of a moisture-wicking fabric, like polyester, and don't skimp on the hats and scarves. Yes, even indoors! The folks at The Old Farmer's Almanac remind us to <a href="http://www.almanac.com/blog/editors-musings/blog-keeping-warm-winter" target="_blank">cover our feet as well</a>. Consider buying an inexpensive pair of <a href="http://amzn.to/2hFI0ML" target="_blank">rubber-soled slippers</a> or warming feet with a bulky pair of <a href="http://amzn.to/2hO0TZQ" target="_blank">wool socks</a>.</p> <h3>Program Your Thermostat</h3> <p>You can save up to <a href="http://energy.gov/energysaver/thermostats" target="_blank">10% off your energy bill</a> by setting your thermostat seven to 10 degrees cooler in the eight hours when you're at work. Better yet, take your own forgetfulness out of the equation and install a <a href="http://amzn.to/2illZ23" target="_blank">programmable thermostat</a> that will automatically do the work for you.</p> <h3>Try the Fan Trick</h3> <p>Switch the direction of your ceiling fan so it will circulate warm air during the winter (usually clockwise). How it works: The air is sucked up by the fan in the center of the room and then pushed down around the edges. The result is a more even temperature throughout the room (and your whole house, if you're performing this trick in multiple rooms).</p> <h3>Fill in Cracks</h3> <p>You may want to take a walk around your home to do a mini energy audit. Basically, you're looking for drafts around windows, doors, and any other openings or cracks in your home. You can inexpensively add weather stripping to doors and windows.</p> <p>You may even want to use some plastic or bubble wrap for particularly drafty windows. To do this yourself, frame the window with double-sided tape, peel off backing, and apply bubble wrap. You may want to add another layer of tape and cover the bubble wrap with <a href="http://amzn.to/2gLzMRy" target="_blank">plastic film insulation</a>.</p> <h3>Use the Sun</h3> <p>Try opening your curtains and letting the sunlight indoors during the day. Alternatively, close the curtains at night to keep the warm air inside. You could also consider investing in some <a href="http://amzn.to/2gLD6ff" target="_blank">thermal curtains</a>. Some claim they can help you save up to 25% on your heating and cooling bills.</p> <h3>Rearrange Your Spaces</h3> <p>Give your rooms a new look and feel by moving furniture around so it won't block vents, radiators, and other heating elements. You don't want your couch hogging all the heat and making your system less efficient. If your floors are bare, add a rug that helps insulate your space and keeps your toes warmer.</p> <p>Oh, and if you have rooms you don't often use, close them up. This way, you're heating a smaller area. Just make sure you close the vents in these spaces.</p> <h3>Use Alternatives</h3> <p>There are other ways to heat your home that don't involve using a furnace or boiler. Wood heat is sustainable &mdash; if carbon intensive &mdash; because it utilizes a renewable resource. Modern woodstoves are much more efficient and produce less pollution than older models. Still, many environmentalists shy from wood because it does cause the most pollution of alternative heating sources. Pellet stoves, on the other hand, run on a similar idea, but they are friendlier to the planet.</p> <p>One of the cleanest alternatives? Harnessing the power of the sun. You may want to look into a solar hot air system to supplement your primary heating source. It involves collectors placed on southern-facing walls and fans to push the air indoors. If you're building a new home, look into passive solar design, which can supply <a href="http://www.motherearthnews.com/renewable-energy/energy-efficiency/home-heating-options-zm0z12djzsor?pageid=6#PageContent6" target="_blank">50% to 80% of your home's heat</a>.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ashley-marcin">Ashley Marcin</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-high-cost-of-keeping-warm">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/save-some-cash-with-these-6-clever-cleaning-hacks">Save Some Cash With These 6 Clever Cleaning Hacks</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/opt-out-of-the-wasteful-26-billion-phone-directory-industry">Opt-out of the wasteful $26 billion phone directory industry</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-long-does-it-take-to-break-even-with-solar-panels">How Long Does It Take to Break Even With Solar Panels?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/14-effective-grease-and-oil-stain-removal-tips">14 Effective Grease and Oil Stain Removal Tips</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-cheap-and-easy-homemade-mosquito-repellents">4 Cheap and Easy Homemade Mosquito Repellents</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Green Living Home cost-effective heating costs efficiency energy environment heating costs natural gas oil tricks Thu, 22 Dec 2016 11:00:10 +0000 Ashley Marcin 1859597 at http://www.wisebread.com Best Money Tips: Easy Steps for a Greener Holiday Season http://www.wisebread.com/best-money-tips-easy-steps-for-a-greener-holiday-season <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/best-money-tips-easy-steps-for-a-greener-holiday-season" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/recycle_green_christmas_182187349.jpg" alt="Taking easy steps for a greener holiday season" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Welcome to Wise Bread's <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/topic/best-money-tips">Best Money Tips</a> Roundup! Today we found articles on ways to have a green holiday season, opportunities to save money in 2017, and simple but smart ways to improve your home security.</p> <h2>Top 5 Articles</h2> <p><a href="http://blog.shoplet.com/environment/how-to-green-your-holiday-in-9-easy-steps/">How to Green Your Holiday in 9 Easy Steps</a> &mdash; Instead of wrapping gifts for your nuclear family, put all gifts for each person in a large holiday sack. It's like a stocking, but bigger! [Shoplet]</p> <p><a href="http://www.northerncheapskate.com/7-opportunities-to-save-money-in-2017/">7 Opportunities to Save Money in 2017</a> &mdash; Why spend more when you don&rsquo;t need to? Plan the year's purchases so that you only shop during big sales. [Northern Cheapskate]</p> <p><a href="http://www.lifehack.org/506374/7-smart-and-simple-ways-improve-your-home-security">7 Smart and Simple Ways to Improve Your Home Security</a> &mdash; Use a bracket, sliding window lock, or corner braces to secure window air conditioning units in place. [Lifehack]</p> <p><a href="http://untemplater.com/self-improvement/dont-forget-these-year-end-must-dos/">Don&rsquo;t Forget These Year-end Must Dos</a> &mdash; If you get paid time off, make sure you use it by the end of the year. You've earned it! [Untemplater]</p> <p><a href="http://www.shebudgets.com/personal-finance/10-money-saving-skills-to-teach-your-kids-in-2017/71784">10 Money Saving Skills to Teach Your Kids in 2017</a> &mdash; Teach your kids how to track their spending on a notebook or a computer. By the time they're all grown up, this skill will be second nature to them. [SheBudgets[</p> <h2>Other Essential Reading</h2> <p><a href="http://www.popsugar.com/smart-living/How-More-Positive-42854814">27 Ways to Be More Positive in 2017</a> &mdash; Set yourself up for more positivity in 2017. Swear off media sites that make you feel dread or negativity, listen to motivational podcasts, and plan a trip that will expand your cultural horizons. [PopSugar Smart Living]</p> <p><a href="http://www.theorderexpert.com/ways-keep-resolution/">10 Ways to Keep Your New Year&rsquo;s Resolution</a> &mdash; Check in with yourself each day to review your goal and give yourself a pep talk. [The Order Expert]</p> <p><a href="https://www.pickthebrain.com/blog/4-ways-to-boost-productivity-and-enter-flow-states-consistently/">4 Ways to Boost Productivity and Enter Flow States Consistently</a> &mdash; When you're in a flow state, you are focused, energized, and immersed in the task at hand. It can be easier to get to a flow state when you play to your natural strengths when you work. [Pick The Brain]</p> <p><a href="http://www.asianefficiency.com/productivity/10-myths-about-personal-productivity-and-procrastination/">10 Myths about Personal Productivity and Procrastination</a> &mdash; Productivity isn't about getting things exactly the way you want them. Do things right, but accept that they don't need to be perfect. [Asian Efficiency]</p> <p><a href="http://parentingsquad.com/how-to-reduce-your-childs-stress-when-getting-a-flu-shot">How to Reduce Your Child's Stress When Getting a Flu Shot</a> &mdash; Help your kids get through the flu shot appointment with less stress and fewer tears by following these tips. [Parenting Squad]</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/amy-lu">Amy Lu</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/best-money-tips-easy-steps-for-a-greener-holiday-season">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-smart-things-to-do-with-leftover-easter-goodies">10 Smart Things to Do With Leftover Easter Goodies</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/15-wonderful-uses-for-witch-hazel">15 Wonderful Uses for Witch Hazel</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-long-does-it-take-to-break-even-with-solar-panels">How Long Does It Take to Break Even With Solar Panels?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-stuff-i-try-never-to-buy-new">The stuff I try never to buy new</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-remove-yourself-from-mailing-lists-and-eliminate-junk-mail">How to Remove Yourself from Mailing Lists and Eliminate Junk Mail</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Green Living best money tips Holidays Fri, 16 Dec 2016 10:30:34 +0000 Amy Lu 1855465 at http://www.wisebread.com 8 Things We Keep Buying That Are Killing the Planet http://www.wisebread.com/8-things-we-keep-buying-that-are-killing-the-planet <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/8-things-we-keep-buying-that-are-killing-the-planet" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_67797601_XLARGE2.jpg" alt="these products are killing the family" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Most of us try to reduce our carbon footprint by recycling, flipping off the lights when we leave a room, and weatherproofing our homes. And while those are all important efforts, we sometimes forget that the biggest environmental impact we can make happens at the cash register.</p> <p>As we strive to leave a better planet for our kids and grandkids, it's time to take a new look at how our everyday consumer habits affect the health of our natural environment. Here are eight things we keep buying that are killing the planet &mdash; along with some greener (and less expensive) alternatives.</p> <h2>1. Bottled Water</h2> <p>According to statistics from Ban the Bottle, an environmental organization that advocates for an organized phase-out of the single-use plastic water bottle, Americans toss out 50 billion plastic water bottles every year. Besides the bottles themselves, the plastic netting or wrapping that holds cases of bottles together takes a huge toll on the environment.</p> <p>Instead of single-use water bottles, invest in an easy-to-use filtration pitcher and a refillable metal or glass water bottle that you can use for years. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/stuff-we-love-a-lifefactory-reusable-glass-water-bottle?ref=seealso">Stuff We Love: A Lifefactory Reusable Water Bottle</a>)</p> <h2>2. Coffee On-the-Go</h2> <p>That quick cup of coffee we buy on the way to work is composed of three parts: A paper (or worse &mdash; polystyrene) body, a cardboard sleeve, and a plastic lid. One cup every workday means that each of us is contributing 240 cups (or 720 individual pieces of waste) to the landfill every year.</p> <p>The solution? Learn to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/better-brewing-12-ways-to-make-coffee-at-home">brew a better cup of coffee</a> at home or buy a cheap reusable travel mug and tote it to the coffee shop with you every morning. Besides helping the planet, many coffee vendors offer modest discounts if you BYOM (Bring Your Own Mug).</p> <h2>3. Disposable Flatware</h2> <p>From carry-out restaurant orders, to family barbeques, disposable flatware is everywhere. And every single plastic knife, fork, spoon, and spork we use takes about 1,000 years to disintegrate. That's a big environmental impact for a couple bites of potato salad.</p> <p>Instead of plastic, collect mismatched pieces of stainless steel flatware at garage sales or thrift stores. If you lose a piece, it won't be the end of the world. And most importantly, keep them handy in your purse, computer bag, or a special container in the car.</p> <h2>4. Paper Plates</h2> <p>It's hard to argue that disposable plates have their place &mdash; say a company cookout or similar event where plumbing isn't readily accessible. But I've noticed a curious shift with some of my acquaintances and coworkers &mdash; they're using disposable plates on a daily basis at home simply to make cleanup easier.</p> <p>The old debate about the environmental effects of using paper plates versus the soap, water, and electricity used to clean traditional ceramic dinnerware has been settled. In environmental terms, paper loses. The resources used to manufacture, wrap, ship, and recycle a neverending stream of single-use paper plates make them an ecological burden. Whenever possible, use what's reusable.</p> <h2>5. Disposable Cleaning Cloths</h2> <p>I know they're dirt-grabbing wonders, but those single-use cloths for dusting and floor cleaning are usually made from synthetic material that takes generations to biodegrade. Skip the expense and invest in a microfiber cloth that can be washed and reused.</p> <h2>6. Single-Use Razors</h2> <p>Because of their design (inexpensive metal mixed with plastic) recycling disposable razors is a challenge. As a result, a whopping two billion end up in U.S. landfills each year. If you shave every day, consider buying an electric shaver or a razor that only requires refillable cartridges. Feeling brave? Go old-school and invest in a straight razor.</p> <h2>7. Plastic Bags</h2> <p>According to facts compiled by the U.S. International Trade Commission, Americans go through an estimated 100 billion plastic shopping bags every year, and only 6% are recycled after use. The rest take 1,000 years to fully biodegrade in landfills. While consumers don't technically buy these bags, we can help make them obsolete by choosing (and diligently using!) cotton, canvas, or mesh shopping totes.</p> <p>Have a stockpile of plastic grocery bags in your closet or pantry? Explore some <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/18-clever-ways-to-reuse-your-plastic-shopping-bags">clever ways to reuse them</a>.</p> <h2>8. Meat</h2> <p>According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, an estimated 60% of the earth's greenhouse gas emissions can be tied to animal agriculture. All politics aside, reducing the need to grow crops solely for animal feed means we can devote more land to food crops destined for direct human consumption (maximizing fuel and water resources and minimizing the threat of continued deforestation). Another bonus? <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-save-money-by-going-mostly-meatless">Going (mostly) meatless saves money</a>. Start by experimenting with alternative sources of healthy protein such as beans, nuts, and quinoa. Integrate meatless main dishes into your meals a few times each week.</p> <p><em>What products have you phased out of your life in an effort to help the environment? Share your ideas with us!</em><strong><br /> </strong></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/kentin-waits">Kentin Waits</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-things-we-keep-buying-that-are-killing-the-planet">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/17-cheap-and-awesome-reusable-replacements-for-disposable-products">17 Cheap and Awesome Reusable Replacements for Disposable Products</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/urban-composting-it-can-be-done">Urban Composting - It CAN be done!</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/new-ideas-for-the-chopstick">New Ideas for the Chopstick</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-stuff-i-try-never-to-buy-new">The stuff I try never to buy new</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/where-to-take-your-batteries-cfl-bulbs-and-other-hard-to-recycle-stuff">Where to Take Your Batteries, CFL Bulbs, and Other Hard-to-Recycle Stuff</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Green Living Shopping convenience eat green environment environmental issues green living recycle waste Mon, 12 Sep 2016 15:44:20 +0000 Kentin Waits 1789690 at http://www.wisebread.com 4 Ways a Home Energy Audit Will Save You Money http://www.wisebread.com/4-ways-a-home-energy-audit-will-save-you-money <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/4-ways-a-home-energy-audit-will-save-you-money" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/home_energy_audit_47402620.jpg" alt="Learning how a home energy audit will save you money" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Feel like your home's utility bills are too high? You're not alone. The U.S. Energy Information Administration reported that the average monthly electrical bill for U.S. homes stood at just over $114 a month in 2014. And the U.S. Energy Information Administration suggests that U.S. homes relying on natural gas would spend an average of $578 during the winter for heat.</p> <p>If your monthly electric and gas bills are too high, it might be time to <a href="http://www.resnet.us/directory/search">call in an energy auditor</a> to perform a home energy audit. During an audit, an inspector will tour your home and run tests to determine where your home is losing energy, and money &mdash; potentially helping you shave 15% or more off your utility bills.</p> <p>Here are four ways in which a home energy audit can save you money.</p> <h2>Inspire You to Install More Efficient Windows</h2> <p>An energy auditor will take a close look at your home's windows. It's more costly to cool and heat your home when leaky windows are letting that hot and cold air escape. Your furnace and air conditioning units have to work harder, consuming more energy, and therefore money.</p> <p>According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's ENERGY STAR program, homeowners can save $126 to $465 a year in energy costs when replacing drafty single-pane windows with ENERGY STAR-qualified replacements. That figure is less impressive when homeowners replace inefficient double-pane windows, but you can still save from $27 to $111 a year with more efficient versions, according to ENERGY STAR.</p> <h2>Identify Other Leaks in Your Home's Envelope</h2> <p>Hot and cool air can escape through plenty of cracks in your home's seal. That's why energy auditors will test your home with a blower door. According to RESNET, this is a powerful fan that an auditor will mount in the frame of an exterior door. The fan will then pull air out of your home, lowering the air pressure inside your residence.</p> <p>The higher outside air pressure will then flow into your home through all of its unsealed cracks and openings. Your auditor will then use diagnostic tools to determine how much air is leaking from your home and from where it is escaping. Sealing these leaky areas will reduce your monthly energy bills.</p> <h2>Help You Determine if You Need More Insulation</h2> <p>A home energy audit will also help you decide if your home's walls lack proper insulation.</p> <p>The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that U.S. homeowners can save an average of 15% on their home's heating and cooling costs, or an average of 11% on their home's total energy costs, by air-sealing their homes and adding insulation to their attics and walls.</p> <p>During an inspection, an energy auditor will use thermal cameras to determine hot and cold spots in a home's walls and flooring. This will help the auditor determine where your home is lacking proper insulation. Installing new energy-efficient insulation can then have a significant impact on your home's monthly utility bills.</p> <h2>Inspire You to Replace That Washing Machine From 1995</h2> <p>You might be thrilled that your home's washing machine is 20 years old and still chugging along, or that you haven't had to replace your refrigerator in 15 years. But those reliable, old appliances might be costing you too much money each month.</p> <p>The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that home appliances account for about 13% of your home's total energy costs. Replacing older, inefficient models can save you money each month.</p> <p>The Department of Energy says that ENERGY STAR-qualified washing machines and refrigerators are about 20% more energy efficient than are standard models. ENERGY STAR-qualified dishwashers only use about 5.8 gallons of water each cycle or less, according to the Department of Energy, while dishwashers purchased before 1994 use an average of more than 10 gallons for each cycle.</p> <p>Newer, more energy-efficient models of these appliances will cost more. But those savings will add up each month. Do some quick math to determine how long it will take before your average energy savings outweigh the extra cost of buying an energy-efficient refrigerator, dishwasher, or washer and dryer.</p> <p><em>Have you ever had an energy audit done on your home? What did it tell you about your home's energy use?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dan-rafter">Dan Rafter</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-ways-a-home-energy-audit-will-save-you-money">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-sneaky-home-money-pits-that-sap-your-savings">9 Sneaky Home Money Pits That Sap Your Savings</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/do-these-10-green-appliances-actually-save-you-money">Do These 10 Green Appliances Actually Save You Money?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-simple-ways-to-make-your-refrigerator-more-efficient">8 Simple Ways to Make Your Refrigerator More Efficient</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-much-money-will-you-save-with-energy-star-appliances">How Much Money Will You Save With Energy Star Appliances?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/cut-your-electric-bill-with-solar-panels">Cut Your Electric Bill With Solar Panels</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Green Living Real Estate and Housing appliances energy audit energy efficiency energy star inspection insulation leaks wasting money Windows Tue, 30 Aug 2016 09:30:29 +0000 Dan Rafter 1780053 at http://www.wisebread.com 18 Smart Ways to Reuse Your Empty Glass Bottles http://www.wisebread.com/18-smart-ways-to-reuse-your-empty-glass-bottles <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/18-smart-ways-to-reuse-your-empty-glass-bottles" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/empty_glass_bottles_000056169688.jpg" alt="Finding smart ways t reuse empty glass bottles" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>I was in a secondhand store recently and saw a beautiful corked bottle on the shelf for sale. It wasn't until I had it in my hand, reading the $3 price tag, that I recognized it as identical to the empty tequila bottle I'd tossed into the recycling earlier.</p> <p>Maybe you're embarrassed (like me) by the loud jingling sound when you push your bins to the curb, or you'd rather spend your money on a fine vintage than on home decor (like me); either way, <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/12-cool-ways-to-make-treasure-out-of-trash" target="_blank">turning empty bottles into art</a>, light fixtures, and useful household objects is a smart move. Here are some ideas.</p> <h2>Without a Glass Cutter</h2> <p>If you don't own a glass cutter or any other fancy tools, you can still get artsy with intact empties. For all these ideas, start by soaking the bottle in warm soapy water to get the label off. If there is any residue left after the soak, a solvent such as lighter fluid can get it off.</p> <h3>1. Bird Feeder</h3> <p>All you need to make an inverted <a href="https://thechickenstreet.wordpress.com/2011/10/17/wine-bottle-bird-feeder/">wine bottle into a bird feeder</a> is one plank of wood and some basic woodworking tools.</p> <h3>2. Candy Jar</h3> <p>Fill a clean, dry bottle with candy as an alternative to a treat bowl on your desk &mdash; or use mini bottles for candy-filled adult party favors. To dress it up, add a <a href="http://www.instructables.com/id/Chalkboard-Painted-Wine-Bottle/step3/Actually-Painting-the-Bottle/">stripe of chalkboard paint</a>, where you can write the name of the gift recipient or party guest, or the type of candy.</p> <h3>3. Yard Torch</h3> <p>Anyone can stick a candle in an empty wine bottle, but with a few dollars' worth of supplies from the hardware store, you can <a href="http://helloglow.co/diy-wine-bottle-citronella-candles/">turn your empties into torches</a> that could stylishly illuminate your whole backyard. Just fill the bottle with marbles and fuel, stick a tiki wick through a metal coupler, and light it up.</p> <h3>4. Table Card Holder</h3> <p>At a rustic-style wedding, a wine bottle with a cork in the top could handily <a href="http://www.weddingchicks.com/2013/09/24/natural-chic-wedding/">hold a table number</a>. Slice the cork halfway down from the top, and place the card in the resulting slot.</p> <h3>5. Vase</h3> <p>While an unadorned empty bottle can hold flowers as is, you can also dress it up by painting the surface, swirling paint inside for a <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/03/craft-of-the-day-paint-swirl-vase_n_1466328.html">Venetian glass effect</a>, or spraying it with adhesive and wrapping with a pretty ribbon.</p> <h3>6. Candelabra</h3> <p>Line up half a dozen identical empties (hello, six-pack discount) and put candles in the tops to make a casual candelabra. For more polish, spray the bottles with metallic paint. Or spring for one of these <a href="http://www.beveragefactory.com/wine/wine-gifts/fleur_wine_bottle_candelabra_42-232.html?CAWELAID=1372128416&amp;CAGPSPN=pla&amp;CAAGID=28020747258&amp;CATCI=pla-93389998458&amp;catargetid=320012430000341573&amp;cadevice=c&amp;gclid=CjwKEAjw6sC5BRCogcaY_dKZ2nESJABsZihxgCrTjzNzhxPcnCAvSK_Iox2dRDGStb08-ayllmuLmBoCqunw_wcB">candelabra bottle toppers</a> to hold all your candles in a single bottle. You could <a href="http://www.shanty-2-chic.com/2015/03/diy-wine-bottle-wall-sconce.html">attach your bottle candelabras to a sconce</a> to make them into permanent wall decor.</p> <h3>7. Rolling Pin</h3> <p>Keep a clean empty in the kitchen for this purpose.</p> <h3>8. Boot Holder</h3> <p>Have tall leather or vinyl boots that flop over on the closet floor and get unsightly creases? Put some pebbles in the bottom of empty bottles, and stand them up inside the boots to make them stand at attention.</p> <h3>9. Vessel for a Gift</h3> <p>A pretty, very clean bottle can be repurposed to hold so many homemade goodies: infused oils, homemade infused vodka, bubble bath &mdash; the options are endless. If the gift will take a long time to use, securely attach a fancy drawer pull to the cork to make the bottle easy to unstop.</p> <h3>10. Garden Edger</h3> <p>Bury your bottles upside down to demarcate the borders of your garden. This idea is probably best used in a yard not frequented by children who could break a bottle and get hurt.</p> <h3>11. Slow-Drip Irrigator</h3> <p>Drill a small hole through the cork, fill the bottle with water, replace cork, and place upside down in the planter.</p> <h3>12. Leveling Tool</h3> <p>When hanging framed pictures on the wall, use a bottle to make sure it's exactly straight. Fill the bottle with water even with the top of the label and hold it so that it's bottom is perfectly aligned with the frame's top. Adjust until the water in the bottle is level.</p> <h3>13. Bottle Tree</h3> <p>Popular in the <a href="http://ritamonette.blogspot.com/2010/12/legend-of-bottle-tree.html">American South</a> and linked to folk beliefs about trapping bad spirits in the glass, trees festooned with colored bottles can be a beautiful landscaping feature, especially in winter. There are many <a href="https://www.pinterest.com/2309jrw/bottle-trees/">spectacular ways to arrange bottles</a> on real trees or frames specially built for the purpose. Blue is the most popular color for these, so bring on the Bombay Sapphire gin, Skyy vodka, and Blue Nun wine.</p> <h2>With a Glass Cutter</h2> <p><a href="http://amzn.to/2210p40">Glass cutting tools</a> run from about $5 to $30 (not as fancy as I thought!). They can come in the form of a simple hand tool, or in the form of a drill bit. What they do is score the glass so that you can break it off along the score line. To break it, you need to alternately heat and cool the glass a few times. Or, you can knock the portion of the bottle below the score line off using a hammer. Then you need to sand the sharp edge. Using this technique, you can remove the bottom or top from a bottle, opening up more ways to reuse it.</p> <h3>14. Hanging Planter</h3> <p>Remove the bottom, then <a href="http://diyready.com/wine-bottle-crafts-how-to-make-wine-bottle-planters/">fill with plants</a> wrapped in moss for a cool upside-down, sun-catching planter.</p> <h3>15. Drinking Glasses</h3> <p>You'll see a lot of online tutorials on turning empty wine bottles into drinking glasses. While this is possible, keep in mind that the freshly cut edge of a bottle will be extremely sharp, and <a href="http://thespacebetweenblog.net/cut-bottle-string-trick-really-work/">may not cut cleanly</a>, depending on your method and skill. You'll need to do a lot of <a href="http://www.instructables.com/id/Drinking-Glasses-from-Wine-Bottles/">grinding and sanding</a> to get the edge smooth enough to raise to your lips.</p> <h3>16. Bottle Chandelier</h3> <p>There are many, many possible designs for chandeliers made of wine bottles online. What most designs have in common is that you cut your bottle open, <a href="http://www.diynetwork.com/how-to/make-and-decorate/decorating/how-to-make-a-chandelier-from-old-wine-bottles">string a light inside it</a>, and attach it to a wood or metal holder to suspend from the ceiling. What with the glass cutting, the wood or metal working, and some minor electrical work, it's a bit of a project. But the results can be stunning, and would be great decor for a rec room, man cave, or deck.</p> <h2>With a Drill</h2> <p>Using a tile and glass bit, you can <a href="http://www.familyhandyman.com/tools/drills/how-to-drill-a-hole-in-glass/view-all#step2">drill a hole in a glass bottle</a> with a little practice and care.</p> <h3>17. Lantern</h3> <p>Drill a hole into the back of a wine bottle and thread through a string of small LED lights to make a beautiful lantern. This technique could also be used when making a chandelier.</p> <h3>18. Party Lights</h3> <p>Drill a hole in the bottom or side of a bottle, then <a href="http://witandwhistle.com/2009/11/03/diy-wine-bottle-light/">shove in a string of holiday lights</a>. You could also push the lights in the top of the bottle, but it wouldn't look as elegant.</p> <p><em>Any clever re-uses for glass bottles we've missed? Please share in comments!</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/carrie-kirby">Carrie Kirby</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/18-smart-ways-to-reuse-your-empty-glass-bottles">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/18-awesome-practically-free-upcycled-craft-projects">18 Awesome, Practically Free Upcycled Craft Projects</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/25-beautiful-things-you-can-make-with-paint-sample-cards">25 Beautiful Things You Can Make With Paint Sample Cards</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/12-cool-ways-to-make-treasure-out-of-trash">12 Cool Ways to Make Treasure Out of Trash</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/13-scariest-halloween-frights-you-can-make-from-trash">13 Scariest Halloween Frights You Can Make From Trash</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/11-creative-ways-to-reuse-egg-crates">11 Creative Ways to Reuse Egg Crates</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> DIY Green Living crafts decorating eco friendly empty bottles glass bottles lighting projects recycling Wed, 01 Jun 2016 09:30:24 +0000 Carrie Kirby 1721636 at http://www.wisebread.com 13 Simple Gardening Skills Anybody Can Master http://www.wisebread.com/13-simple-gardening-skills-anybody-can-master <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/13-simple-gardening-skills-anybody-can-master" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/000013042218.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Gardening is a satisfying lifelong hobby that keeps me fit, saves me money on food, and &mdash; without sounding too cheesy, I hope &mdash; lets me live a more beautiful life.</p> <p>Many people turn to home gardening hoping to gain these benefits, only to find at the end of the summer that they've spent hundreds of dollars on dead trees and bug-ravaged vegetables.</p> <p>Many garden failures are caused by human error, rather than a plague of locusts. The following 13 basic skills are worth spending time to master, as they will not only help you get the most enjoyment out of your garden, but also save you money, too.</p> <h2>1. Soil Analysis</h2> <p>Before you plant, it's important to know if your garden soil can actually support life.</p> <p>The first thing you will want to know about your soil is its pH. Is your soil alkaline, acidic, or neutral? Soil that is too alkaline or acidic keeps plants from absorbing key nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, so your plants suffer malnutrition. Although you can send your soil to a professional lab for testing, there are several inexpensive ways to <a href="http://www.wikihow.com/Test-Soil-pH">test soil pH at home</a>.</p> <p>The second thing you need to know about your soil before you plant is its structure. Soil that is too sandy won't hold nutrients, and soil that has too much clay can suffocate a plant's roots by limiting its access to water and air.</p> <p>Although some people are blessed with perfect soil, most of us have dirt with less than ideal pH and texture. Luckily, even <a href="http://www.hobbyfarms.com/6-soil-problems-and-amendment-solutions-5/">poor soils can be improved</a> by adding amendments.</p> <h2>2. Composting</h2> <p>One of the best soil amendments to add to your garden is compost. <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-frugal-reasons-to-compost">Compost is an excellent soil conditioner</a> that improves the texture and nutrition levels of all types of dirt. Also, since compost is made from household garbage, it saves you money in two ways: It's a free and natural alternative to chemical fertilizers, and it cuts down on your garbage bill and your water bill.</p> <p>Compost is really just controlled rotting. Contrary to popular belief, a well-tended compost pile isn't stinky, and composting is not a hard skill to learn, as microbes and worms do most of the work! Compost is made from two types of waste: green and brown. Green waste is made up of nitrogen-rich waste like grass clippings, coffee grounds, and food waste. Brown waste is made up of carbon-rich waste like dead leaves, pine needles, sawdust, or shredded paper. If the compost gets too stinky, add more brown waste. If the compost isn't breaking down fast enough, add more green waste. Well-balanced compost has a nice loamy smell and texture.</p> <p>Composting dramatically cuts down on what my household sends to the landfill, which is good for the planet. In addition to composting all of my plant-based food waste and yard trimmings, I also compost greasy pizza boxes and used cardboard food containers that cannot be recycled.</p> <p>Compost also helps my heavy clay soil retain water, which is vital, since Southern California is currently suffering from an endless drought.</p> <h2>3. Tracking Sunlight</h2> <p>Most vegetables need plenty of sun to thrive, so if your yard is shady year-round, you will be disappointed in your harvest. How much sunlight your growing area gets determines what you can grow. Although there are sun tracking apps, it's easy to <a href="http://getbusygardening.com/how-to-determine-sun-exposure/">track sun exposure</a> with just a pen and paper.</p> <h2>4. Seed Starting</h2> <p>Planting your vegetable and flower garden from seed has two huge advantages. First, there are far more varieties available in seed form than as seedlings. Second, unless you are like me and read seed catalogs with the intensity that most people reserve for pornography, <a href="http://www.myromanapartment.com/garden-hack-citrus-peel-starter-pot-seedlings/">gardening from seed</a> is the least expensive way to grow plants.</p> <p>FYI, you can buy seeds and plants that produce food with Food Stamps! Consider stretching your SNAP benefits by keeping a small garden. If you buy a package of tomato seeds for $3.00 and grow 10 tomatoes from just one plant, that is a huge return on your investment.</p> <h2>5. Seed Saving</h2> <p>Why buy seeds when you can just use seeds that you grew yourself last season? Saving seeds isn't just a great way to shrink your garden budget. It's also a great way to grow your community. My friend Steve has an impressive victory garden that he grew from seeds that he &quot;checked out&quot; from the <a href="http://www.kclibrary.org/seedlibrary">Kansas City Public Library</a> with his library card. If you love the idea of a seed library as much as I do but can't find one in your area, the Richmond, California Public Library has a tutorial on <a href="http://www.richmondgrowsseeds.org/create-a-library.html">how to start your own</a>!</p> <h2>6. Container Gardening</h2> <p>Not everyone has fixable soil or even open ground to use as a growing space. Luckily, container gardening allows even apartment-dwellers to create their own green space. Although I am incredibly vain about my vast collection of terra cotta pots, you can grow ridiculous amounts of food in containers such as plastic storage tubs and recycled food buckets. That said, Pinterest is full of brilliant ideas for <a href="https://www.pinterest.com/romanapartment/upcycled-garden-planters/">upcycled planters</a>, made from items you probably already own, for all kinds of vegetation.</p> <h2>7. Plant Propagation From Stem Cuttings</h2> <p>I learned how to <a href="http://needlesandleaves.net/blog/2013/5/31/propagating-leggy-succulents">grow succulents from cuttings</a> as a kid and never looked back. Every year when I trim back my succulents, I save the cuttings to use as barter currency with the neighbors, to sell at my garage sale, or to pot up and give as gifts. Plants are great gifts, for just about every occasion. This one little skill makes/saves me at least $100 every year between what I save on buying gifts and what I sell for cold hard cash. More importantly, I managed to plant 90% of my front yard with plant cuttings I collected from my friends and neighbors. I saved hundreds of dollars on my landscaping budget because I barely had to buy any greenery.</p> <p>But why limit yourself to just succulents? There are so many great indoor and outdoor plants that can be grown from cuttings.</p> <h2>8. Transplanting</h2> <p>My husband loves to collect&hellip; everything. So he's always out in the yard, sticking something new into the ground. Unfortunately, up until recently, about 50% of what he planted immediately croaked. I only discovered the cause of his brown thumb this year. He had no idea that he needed to immediately water plants after transplanting to prevent shock. Now that he's learned the basic rules of transplanting, he hasn't lost a plant.</p> <h2>9. Watering</h2> <p>Everyone knows you can kill a plant by underwatering, but did you know the most common cause of death in indoor plants is overwatering? Fortunately, learning the proper way to water your plants, both inside and out, is not rocket science. Also, learning <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2014/aug/22/six-ways-to-save-water-in-your-garden">good watering techniques</a> will cut down on your water bill, even if you don't live in a drought-stricken area.</p> <h2>10. Mulching</h2> <p>I love to mulch, because it provides immediate gratification. The yard looks instantly tidier after mulching. Also, mulch cuts down on weeds, and helps the soil retain water.</p> <p>I am a great proponent of liquor store mulch, aka <a href="http://permaculturenews.org/2012/07/20/gorgeous-gardens-from-garbage-how-to-build-a-sheet-mulch/">sheet mulching</a>, because I don't even have to weed before I lay down the sweet, sweet topcoat. Also, it's basically free. Here's how I mulch:</p> <ul> <li>Get cardboard boxes from my corner liquor store.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Cover my dirt, weeds and all, with flattened cardboard boxes, working around existing plants. <br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Water until the cardboard is super wet. <br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Shovel green waste onto the cardboard. I use manure that my chicken-raising neighbor is so happy to give me for free, but you can use compost, grass cutting, etc.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Shovel brown waste on top of everything to hide the stinky green waste. I used dead leaves and shredded cardboard boxes, but you can use what you have on hand. <br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Water, water, water.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Wait. By the following year, you will have lovely topsoil to grow in and far fewer weeds.</li> </ul> <p>By the way, if you aren't planning on growing a garden next season and just want to make your current planting look better, many cities offer free mulch, made from chopped up city trees, as part of their recycling programs. Just lay down that wood mulch over cardboard and call it a day.</p> <h2>11. Managing Pests</h2> <p>My mother is a master gardener. The second she thought my sister and I were old enough to handle garden tools without goring each other, she enlisted us in slug patrol. Every morning before school, we had to go out to the garden and decapitate every slug we found. To this day, I can throw a <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B009JXFUMW/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=9325&amp;creativeASIN=B009JXFUMW&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=KTHMWMHZ3FKPFQSI">weed digger</a> five feet with deadly precision.</p> <p>But killing slugs <em>Game of Thrones-</em>style is just one of the ways I manage pests in my garden.</p> <p>My favorite method of pest management is companion planting, because the plants do most of the maintenance work. One of my very favorite garden hacks is The <a href="https://www.almanac.com/content/companion-planting-three-sisters">Three Sisters</a>, an Iroquois planting method that is perfect in its simplicity. The three sisters are corn, climbing beans, and squash. These three crops are planted together in a mound of dirt. The corn provides a trellis for the beans. The beans are nitrogen-fixers, so they fertilize the soil for the corn and the squash. The squash's prickly leaves act as mulch, and they shade the roots of the other two sisters. The squash also acts as a defense against rodents and raccoons that don't like crawling through the prickly leaves to eat the beans and the corn. So genius.</p> <p>Because I am a beekeeper and own a koi pond, I cannot use chemical garden sprays without also killing my pets. Luckily, there are plenty of homemade bug sprays that do the job and are made of things you can find in your kitchen.</p> <h2>12. Pruning</h2> <p>There are a number of reasons why you should <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-keep-diy-projects-from-ruining-your-life">leave tree pruning to the experts</a>, but pruning shrubs and other small plants is easy, once you know how. Although most people think of pruning as decorative, proper pruning actually keeps plants healthy by removing dead or dying parts of plants that have been damaged by weather, disease, bugs, or animals. Pruning can also make a plant more productive by forcing the plant to put more energy into producing fruit or flowers.</p> <h2>13. Maintaining Tools</h2> <p>I am terrible at this. After spending approximately $539,287 to repeatedly replace wood-handled tools that I left in the yard to the mercy of the elements, I finally had to purchase way too expensive, rust-proof, all metal tools. Don't be me.</p> <p>Actually, maintaining tools is remarkably easy. If you clean your tools after every use and store them in a dry place, you can make most hand tools last a lifetime.</p> <p><em>Do you have a green thumb? What garden skills save you the most money and time?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/max-wong">Max Wong</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/13-simple-gardening-skills-anybody-can-master">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-get-the-greenest-lawn-on-the-block-naturally">How to Get the Greenest Lawn on the Block — Naturally</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-easy-ways-to-prep-your-garden-for-winter">10 Easy Ways to Prep Your Garden for Winter</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-edible-garden-plants-anyone-can-grow">10 Edible Garden Plants Anyone Can Grow</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-turn-your-black-thumb-green">How to Turn Your Black Thumb Green</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-ways-anyone-can-go-solar-and-save-on-energy">10 Ways Anyone Can Go Solar and Save on Energy</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Green Living Home composting frugal person garden gardening green thumb how-to landscaping skills Thu, 26 May 2016 10:00:11 +0000 Max Wong 1717714 at http://www.wisebread.com 10 Smart and Frugal Uses for Epsom Salt http://www.wisebread.com/10-smart-and-frugal-uses-for-epsom-salt <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/10-smart-and-frugal-uses-for-epsom-salt" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_000066532185_Large.jpg" alt="epsom salts" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>The next time you're at the store, pick up a bag of epsom salt. These inexpensive crystals won't only ease your aches and pains in a warm bath &mdash; there's a host of other awesome things you can do with them! From feeding your lawn to cleaning pots and pans, here are 10 smart and frugal uses for epsom salt.</p> <h2>1. Clean Cast Iron</h2> <p>We had an old cast iron skillet in need of some love, so I searched around and found this&nbsp;<a href="http://storiesofkel.blogspot.com/2013/11/how-to-clean-cast-iron-skillet.html">simple method</a> to restore it using epsom salt. Rinse off any excess rust and then scrub with epsom salt followed by baking soda or table salt. Rinse again, dry, and coat the inside with a little olive oil. Heat pan on low for 30 minutes to let the oil soak in to finish.</p> <h2>2. Feed Your Lawn</h2> <p>The folks at Bob Vila's site explain that one good way to rescue your dying lawn is to feed it&nbsp;<a href="http://www.bobvila.com/slideshow/7-remedies-to-rescue-a-dying-lawn-48982/epsom-salt-in-garden">with epsom salt</a>. It sure beats using chemicals on price and safety. You can either fill your lawn spreader with the salt, or mix it with water and apply to your lawn with a garden sprayer. The idea is to get your soil to a neutral pH of seven.</p> <h2>3. Kill Nasty Weeds</h2> <p>While you're at it, stir together this&nbsp;<a href="http://www.hometalk.com/1903802/natural-weed-control-that-works">effective weed killer</a> for those trouble spots in and around the grass. You'll need a gallon of white vinegar, two cups of epsom salt, and a quarter of a cup of blue Dawn soap. You can scale this recipe down if you like so it will fit into a convenient spray bottle. Kills weeds in just a few, sunny, hours.</p> <h2>4. Boost Your Magnesium</h2> <p>Whether you take a bath or soak your feet in epsom salt, you will add some vital magnesium to your body. It may help you relax and have better sleep, among other benefits. Take your routine a step beyond by mixing together your own<a href="http://gwens-nest.com/magnesium-oil-recipe/"> magnesium oil spray</a>. Heat one cup of distilled water to boiling, turn off heat, and then mix in a half cup of epsom salt until fully dissolved. Pour cooled mixture into a spritz bottle.</p> <p>Similar oils cost around&nbsp;<a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004NHN9OA/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=9325&amp;creativeASIN=B004NHN9OA&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=TAVWNQGUM6RN7AKJ">$8 to $20</a>. This batch? Less than $1!</p> <h2>5. Scour With a DIY Scrub</h2> <p>Add some epsom salt to your cleaning routine for an effective scour scrub that's tough on stains but gentle on the environment. My mom showed me this&nbsp;<a href="http://mycleaningsolutions.com/remove-hard-water-stains-with-this-diy-epsom-salt-scrub/">hard water remover</a>, and I can't believe how effective it is. Combine one cup epsom salt, 1/2 cup baking soda, and 1/4 cup of liquid dish soap. Use this scrub on shower doors, stubborn sinks, and even stained glass.</p> <h2>6. Decorate Your Space</h2> <p>Whether you're hosting a Frozen-themed birthday party or planning a winter wedding, these&nbsp;<a href="http://craftsbyamanda.com/epsom-salt-luminaries-some-winter/">epsom salt luminaries</a> would make a great decor item. Start by picking up some crystal epsom salt (think Dr. Teal's, not the Dollar Store) and glass jars. Pour epsom salt onto a paper plate, slip your hand inside a jar, paint where you want to stick the crystals with Mod Podge, and roll into the epsom salt. Let dry and then coat with some clear sealer a few times.</p> <p><strong>Note</strong>: You shouldn't make these far in advance &mdash; less than a week before your event &mdash; for the best results.</p> <h2>7. Entertain Your Kids</h2> <p>And if you're lost on what to do on a rainy day, try making this&nbsp;<a href="http://babbledabbledo.com/science-for-kids-crystal-garden/">overnight crystal garden</a> with your kids. Just measure out a 1:1 ratio of epsom salt to warm water in a glass jar. Add food coloring and stir this mixture well. Next, place the jar in the back of your fridge or freezer. Then wait overnight to discover your magic crystal garden.</p> <h2>8. Add Aroma to Laundry</h2> <p>Are you skeptical about all those scented chemicals you add to your wash cycle with store-bought detergent? Me, too. Add some aroma the natural way using&nbsp;<a href="http://canvasandtable.com/2015/08/06/diy-laundry-scent-booster/">epsom salt and essential oils</a>. You need just three ingredients for this project: Epsom salt, baking soda, and 20-30 drops of your favorite essential oils. Mix everything together and store in an air-tight container. Add a few tablespoons to each load.</p> <h2>9. Make Great Gifts</h2> <p>Need a last-minute gift that's easy on the wallet? Mix together your own&nbsp;<a href="http://cutediyprojects.tumblr.com/post/122497968927/wokeupasaqueen-peppermint-bath-salts-supplies">DIY bath salts</a>. This stuff may even help you kick your own Lush habit. Combine three cups of epsom salt with two cups sea salt, one cup baking soda, and peppermint or other essential oil. You can also add food coloring as a fun option. Once everything is mixed, place it in a decorative, air-tight container for storage.</p> <h2>10. Ward Off Mosquitoes</h2> <p>Keep mosquitoes out of your lawn by spraying this unique&nbsp;<a href="http://frugalhomekeeping.blogspot.com/2015/07/get-rid-of-those.html">epsom salt solution</a> that's safe on grass, flowers, and more. Combine three cups of epsom salt with a large bottle of cheap blue mouthwash and 12 oz of inexpensive beer. The author of this recipe explains that he's used it for the last 15 years with success of keeping mosquitoes away for up to 80 days. I am looking forward to testing this one out for myself!</p> <p><em>What are some other clever uses for epsom salt? Share with us!</em></p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" data-pin-save="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2F10-smart-and-frugal-uses-for-epsom-salt&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2F10%2520Smart%2520and%2520Frugal%2520Uses%2520for%2520Epsom%2520Salt.jpg&amp;description=10%20Smart%20and%20Frugal%20Uses%20for%20Epsom%20Salt"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/10%20Smart%20and%20Frugal%20Uses%20for%20Epsom%20Salt.jpg" alt="10 Smart and Frugal Uses for Epsom Salt" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ashley-marcin">Ashley Marcin</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-smart-and-frugal-uses-for-epsom-salt">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/flashback-friday-55-brilliant-ways-to-turn-your-junk-into-cash">Flashback Friday: 55 Brilliant Ways to Turn Your Junk Into Cash</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/15-smart-new-uses-for-hair-clips">15 Smart New Uses for Hair Clips</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/12-frugal-skills-you-must-have-to-survive-mondays">12 Frugal Skills You Must Have to Survive Mondays</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/have-you-ever-seen-such-amazing-junk">Have you ever seen such amazing junk?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/flashback-friday-45-life-lessons-youd-give-to-your-younger-self">Flashback Friday: 45 Life Lessons You&#039;d Give to Your Younger Self</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Frugal Living Green Living clever uses DIY DIY hacks DIY health epsom salts frugal living home remedies life hacks Fri, 20 May 2016 09:00:09 +0000 Ashley Marcin 1713534 at http://www.wisebread.com 10 Frugal Reasons to Compost http://www.wisebread.com/10-frugal-reasons-to-compost <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/10-frugal-reasons-to-compost" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_000016214089_Large.jpg" alt="composting is perfect for a frugal lifestyle" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>You've probably heard about composting, or maybe you've even considered giving it a try. This waste-reducing activity is about way more than being kind to the environment and getting some awesome plant food for your garden. Composting can also save you a good amount of cash. So, here are 10 reasons why frugal people should start composting today!</p> <h2>1. It Saves You Trash Tags</h2> <p>Think about how many banana peels, egg shells, and other organic garbage scraps you've tossed into your bin over the last week. All that waste takes up space. Duke University's Center for Sustainability &amp; Commerce shares that the average American produces <a href="https://center.sustainability.duke.edu/resources/green-facts-consumers/how-much-do-we-waste-daily">over four pounds of waste</a> per day. If you have to pay for a service or buy trash tags to haul it away, reducing your garbage load is sure to save you money.</p> <h2>2. It Gives You Free Garden Food</h2> <p>If you maintain a garden, you know that it isn't always cheap. The Bargain Babe explains that compost is one of the nicest gifts you <a href="http://bargainbabe.com/much-money-can-composting-save/">can give your plants</a>. Making your own can spare you from buying compost at your garden center each year. She typically buys two cubic yard bags per season, equaling an investment of $16.98 per year. That may not sound like a lot, but over five years, that amounts to nearly $85 in bags of fertile dirt. And the savings grows the bigger your garden gets!</p> <h2>3. It Improves Your Soil</h2> <p>Why is compost so great for the garden? It's considered a soil conditioner. What this means is that adding compost to your soil improves its texture. It's better able to hold onto nutrients, moisture, and air &mdash; all things that plants need to stay robust and healthy. As a result, you'll need to water less (cha-ching!), and your plants will likely yield a better crop. Growing your own food can definitely cut dollars from your weekly grocery bill.</p> <h2>4. It Controls Pests</h2> <p>Another merit of adding compost to your garden is that it provides you with virtually free bug control &mdash; without chemicals. Soil treated with compost &quot;tends to produce plants with <a href="http://web.extension.illinois.edu/homecompost/benefits.cfm">fewer pest problems</a>,&quot; explains the University of Illinois Cooperative Extension. It can also help prevent diseases that regular old dirt cannot ward off on its own. Leaf compost, in particular, may even keep nematodes at bay.</p> <h2>5. It Eliminates the Need for Lawn Services</h2> <p>You can spread this &quot;black gold&quot; on your grass and skip this year's lawn spraying service. You'll get an added health boost by keeping&nbsp;<a href="http://www.planetnatural.com/compost-for-lawn/">chemical fertilizers and herbicides</a> away from your home, loved ones, and pets. You only need to apply compost to your yard once or twice a year to see the benefits. Simply spread a modest one-half inch layer onto grass (not too deep) using a wheelbarrow and shovel, or a garden spreader. This method even treats those pesky brown spots with ease.</p> <h2>6. It Provides Low-Cost Entertainment</h2> <p><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/Uyr2wJq7REQ" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe></p> <p>Spending time outdoors and engaging with nature is cheap and fun activity the whole family can enjoy. If you don't know where to start, try<a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uyr2wJq7REQ"> square foot gardening</a>. A raised bed is a beginner-friendly holder for your plants. Figure out what you want to grow, pick up some seeds or annuals at your local garden center, draw out your garden plan, and go from there.</p> <h2>7. It Can Earn You Money</h2> <p>That's right! Select cities across the country and beyond may offer grants or other incentives for composting. Take Plymouth, Minnesota, for example. Back in 2012, the city offered its residents a grant of up to <a href="http://www.plymouthmn.gov/index.aspx?recordid=1054&amp;page=440">$100 to start backyard composting</a>. This money helped people get composting supplies and the things they needed to start their vegetable gardens. Though programs like this one don't exist everywhere, it's worth doing a little investigation to see what incentives your local municipality provides.</p> <h2>8. It Can Forge New Friendships</h2> <p>Composting has even introduced us to people we otherwise may not have met. Check your community calendars for free composting workshops (often run through cooperative extension programs) and you may meet like-minded people to add to your circle of friends. More friends means more connections. More connections means opportunity for sharing of resources like time, tools, knowledge, etc. Plus, it's always fun meeting new people.</p> <h2>9. It Makes You More Food Waste Aware</h2> <p>One of the most notable perks composting has given our family is an awareness of our waste habits. The more we dug spoiled food out of the fridge and put it in our compost bin, the more we realized we weren't planning our meals efficiently. We started writing up our grocery list and detailing breakfasts, lunches, and dinners for the week. These days, we have very little food spoilage.</p> <p>We even tend to use food scraps before tossing them into the compost pile in stuff like&nbsp;<a href="http://ohmyveggies.com/how-to-make-vegetable-broth-with-kitchen-scraps/">homemade vegetable broth</a>. Simply place carrot peels, onion skins, celery leaves, and other veggie scraps into a bag in your freezer and simmer them with water for 45 minutes. Strain out the scraps to place in your compost and enjoy your broth.</p> <h2>10. It Costs Little to Start</h2> <p>You can build a&nbsp;<a href="http://blissfullydomestic.com/home-bliss/how-to-make-an-easy-diy-compost-bin/125672/">basic compost bin</a> for less than $5. In some cases, you might even have all the materials you need already on hand. Just find a basic plastic storage tub with a lid, drill holes all over it to allow for airflow and drainage, and place a layer of dirt at the bottom. Then throw your food scraps inside and make sure to rotate or shake it at least once a week. That's all it takes to get started. You should have viable compost in as little as four to six months.</p> <p><em>Do you compost? Share your tips with us!</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ashley-marcin">Ashley Marcin</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-frugal-reasons-to-compost">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/where-to-take-your-batteries-cfl-bulbs-and-other-hard-to-recycle-stuff">Where to Take Your Batteries, CFL Bulbs, and Other Hard-to-Recycle Stuff</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/urban-composting-it-can-be-done">Urban Composting - It CAN be done!</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/new-ideas-for-the-chopstick">New Ideas for the Chopstick</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/welcome-to-container-city-how-shipping-containers-are-recycled-into-green-dwellings">Welcome to Container City - How Shipping Containers Are Recycled into Green Dwellings</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-stuff-i-try-never-to-buy-new">The stuff I try never to buy new</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Frugal Living Green Living compost composting environmental how to compost recycle Tue, 10 May 2016 09:00:05 +0000 Ashley Marcin 1706758 at http://www.wisebread.com How to Get the Greenest Lawn on the Block — Naturally http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-get-the-greenest-lawn-on-the-block-naturally <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-get-the-greenest-lawn-on-the-block-naturally" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/kids_yard_swings_000079618051.jpg" alt="Learning how to get the best yard in town naturally" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Want a gorgeous, lush lawn without all the chemicals and other icky stuff? It's not as hard as you might think. With a little creativity and some elbow grease, you can whip your grass into shape without calling a service or spending much at all. (See also:&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/secret-lawn-tonic-recipe-from-golf-course-groundskeeper?ref=seealso">Secret Lawn Tonic Golf Course Groundskeepers Love</a>)</p> <h2>Amazing Aeration</h2> <p>Before the season even starts, you should&nbsp;<a href="http://www.planetnatural.com/aerate-the-lawn/">aerate your lawn</a> so it can have its best year yet. By letting it breathe, you get rid of nasty compaction issues that can cause bigger problems down the line. To aerate, you'll want the grass to be pretty dry. Insert a&nbsp;<a href="http://amzn.to/1qjqnlK">garden fork</a> or&nbsp;<a href="http://amzn.to/1TMK4yd">sod coring tool</a> every few inches to get the oxygen in. If you have a big lawn, you might consider going in with a neighbor and renting a power lawn aerator for a day or two. After you've finished this process, collect soil plugs with a bagged mower and add them to your compost heap.</p> <h2>Beer Fertilizer</h2> <p>My grandfather is known as a lawn king of sorts in my hometown. He swears by&nbsp;<a href="http://www.instructables.com/id/Easily-getting-rid-of-dead-spots-on-your-lawn-effo">feeding his lawn with beer</a>. The fermented sugars and other nutrients improve the soil and help to get rid of dead spots. All you have to do is pour about eight ounces of regular beer per 10-inch spot that needs love. Beer can be fresh or flat, hot or cold. Wait about a week and if the area is still droopy, repeat the process.</p> <h2>Soothing Salts, Part I</h2> <p>Not into brews? That's okay. You can actually use your favorite bath time soak to nurture your lawn.&nbsp;<a href="http://amzn.to/1UW0MMF">Epsom salts</a> help keep your grass green and healthy all year round &mdash; they may even soften grass. You'll want to use about&nbsp;<a href="http://www.sfsalt.com/epsom-salt-for-lawns">three pounds of salts</a> per 1,250 square feet of lawn. To apply, use a lawn spreader. If you'd rather add water and spray, use a tank sprayer or a hose with a spray attachment.</p> <h2>Soothing Salts, Part II</h2> <p>The National Gardening Association explains that epsom salts also work wonders in your vegetable and flower gardens by&nbsp;<a href="http://www.garden.org/articles/articles.php?q=show&amp;id=68">enriching the soil with magnesium</a>. The group conducted a study where gardeners from across the United States sprayed their peppers and roses with the stuff. The results? Four out of six gardeners reported that their pepper plants were more robust. All the rose plants were bushier with greener foliage and more roses. To try this at home, add one tablespoon of epsom salts to a gallon of water, spray plants, and repeat the process every 10 days (peppers) or six weeks (roses).</p> <h2>Kind Killer</h2> <p>This weed killer is kind to the environment and won't cost you much. In fact, you might already be using it for many tasks in your home. Simply spray all those pesky weeds with plain white vinegar. You'll want to do this on a day with no rain in the forecast (can dilute the effects). My mother-in-law says that heartier, more persistent weeds respond better to something stronger like pickling vinegar. Just pour vinegar into a spray bottle and use as liberally as necessary.</p> <h2>Wondrous Water</h2> <p>Whether or not you live someplace where you have a cap on water usage, it's a good idea to conserve this precious resource. Try building&nbsp;<a href="https://1craftylane.wordpress.com/2012/03/12/diy-rain-barrel/">your own rain barrel</a> to collect what falls from the sky. You just need a 32-gallon plastic trash can, brass faucet, flexible downspout, and utility knife. Cut a hole in your can's cover, attach the downspout to your gutter, and then connect the two components. Wait for the rain and then use your faucet to tap into the magic.</p> <h2>Modified Mowing</h2> <p>How often and how short you cut your grass has an impact on its overall health as well. There's no one-size-fits-all approach, unfortunately. Regardless, grass cut too short can be more prone to problems like&nbsp;<a href="http://www.diynetwork.com/how-to/outdoors/gardening/what-is-the-ideal-height-to-cut-the-grass">weeds, drought, and heat damage</a>. So, if you're experiencing little precipitation, it's a good idea to let grasses grow taller as a defense. For guidelines on how tall or short you should keep your grass in general, call your local extension office, garden center, or seed supplier.</p> <h2>Clover Comeback</h2> <p>So many of our neighbors seem to battle to keep white clover out all season long. We've embraced clover because it's actually a natural way to&nbsp;<a href="http://www.almanac.com/content/clover-comeback">crowd out weeds</a>. Clover also spreads quickly and covers the ground with greenery to blend with your other grasses. It grows well in shadier areas of your lawn and those with poor drainage. Best yet, it's a legume and can convert nitrogen into its own free fertilizer. Learn to love this misunderstood ground cover!</p> <p><em>What are some natural ways you care for&nbsp;</em><em>your lawn?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ashley-marcin">Ashley Marcin</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-get-the-greenest-lawn-on-the-block-naturally">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-3"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/secret-lawn-tonic-recipe-from-golf-course-groundskeeper">Secret Lawn Tonic Recipe From Golf Course Groundskeeper</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/13-simple-gardening-skills-anybody-can-master">13 Simple Gardening Skills Anybody Can Master</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-diy-backyard-home-improvements-that-save-you-big">8 DIY Backyard Home Improvements That Save You Big</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-high-tech-tools-to-help-your-garden-grow">6 High-Tech Tools to Help Your Garden Grow</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-things-you-should-not-do-to-your-yard-this-fall">10 Things You Should NOT Do to Your Yard This Fall</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> DIY Green Living Home eco friendly gardening greener grass landscaping lawn spring summer weeds Mon, 25 Apr 2016 09:30:24 +0000 Ashley Marcin 1693274 at http://www.wisebread.com