Category Archives: Energy Articles

Doing the Dishes by Hand – 6 of The Biggest Water-Wasters


Water is something that has a different value wherever you are on the planet. In areas of the earth made up largely of desert, it’s increasingly seen as a valued commodity. In other places, however, it’s regarded as an abundant resource that will always appear at the quick turn of a tap.

The latter attitude is something that needs to change fast. By 2030, it’s estimated that half of the world’s population could be living in areas classed as under high water stress. It’s hardly surprising considering the average human in the developed world goes through 747 gallons a day. With the booming world population, that’s a figure that’s just not sustainable.

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So how do we cut down on our water usage? Well, we’ve come up with a list of six ways you can start to reduce the amount of water you waste today. Some are small changes but all will make a big difference to the future of our planet moving forward.

1. Doing the Dishes by Hand

The majority of taps in the developed world are able to deliver between two to five gallons of water per minute. Leaving the tap running while you’re doing the washing up can, therefore, see you use as much water as a dishwasher after just two minutes. Washing dishes by hand uses an average of 14 gallons of water, but if those dishes are also rinsed, that figure can reach as high as 33 gallons. To put that into some context, the average American uses 17.2 gallons of water every time they have a shower.

The Solution: a dishwasher. A modern-day machine rarely uses above 10 gallons of water per load. When you think about how much cutlery, bowls, and plates you can wash in one go, the savings become substantial.

2. Fixing the Dripping Tap

Have you ever had an annoying leaking tap around your home? The constant sound of dripping is enough to drive any sane person insane. Yet despite this, getting a leaking tap fixed is rarely seen as a priority.

One plumbing service in North Carolina has done the math and found out that an average faucet drip could be wasting around 347 gallons a year. Times that figure by seven billion and it suddenly becomes very clear why the world could be running out of fresh water.

The solution: get leaking taps fixed as quickly as possible. The longer you leave it, the more water – and money – you’ll waste.

3. Washing the Car at Home

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Let’s face it – most of us choose to wash our vehicles at home because we think it will work out cheaper than going to the car wash. A study by Kaady Car Washes, however, has proven that theory could in some respects be wrong. Using a hose to wash down your vehicle can see you go through 80 to 140 gallons of water. A car wash, on the other hand, only uses 30 to 45 gallons.

Stats from the construction engineering company Colas show that the price per gallon of water in the United States is approximately $0.005 per gallon. So, if you’re someone that washes their car at home every weekend, you’re likely spending around $3 a month for the pleasure.

The Solution: a car wash. Professional car washes recycle waste water. It’s often sent to treatment plants to help prevent the pollution of the environment. Home car wash wastewater, however, is usually lost down drains or contaminates soil.

4. Watering the Garden With Sprinklers

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Keeping the garden looking its best is never easy over the summer months. A sudden heatwave can turn a luscious, green lawn into something of a barren land in just a matter of weeks if left unwatered.

One solution that many all over the world turn to is garden sprinklers. They’re reasonably inexpensive, easy to set up, and save you an unmeasurable amount of watering time. There is, however, worries over just how much water they use. In certain areas of California, for example, sprinklers are only allowed to be used once a week by law. It’s somewhat understandable considering an average sprinkler system uses around 265 gallons per hour. In more human terms, that’s approximately three and a half bathtubs of water.

The Solution: Unfortunately, not all of us have the time to water our gardens, so sprinklers still serve an important purpose. A good tip to avoid overuse is to set them so they go off first thing in the morning or last thing at night. This helps to guarantee that none of the water evaporates due to the warm temperatures.

5. Making Biofuels

While biofuels are usually an environmentally friendly way of producing power, they do have one major downside: they require a lot of water. Powerplants which make biofuels typically use far more gallons of water in comparison with carbon dioxide emitting fossil fuels. Take corn ethanol as an example. The American Society of Mechanical Engineers estimates that the process involved in making less than a gallon of corn ethanol requires 170 gallons of water. That’s bad math in anybody’s book.

The Solution: using more sustainable waste and renewable electric power will help to keep the world’s vehicles, machinery, and technology moving forward in a greener fashion.

6. Drinking Beer

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The first sip of an ice-cold beer is one of life’s simples pleasure. You’d think that such a refreshing taste would be something that helps to keep you hydrated, but the truth is the exact opposite.

All alcohol acts as a suppressant to the hormone yasopressin, which is responsible for letting the kidneys know when to and when not to absorb and hold onto water. As alcohol is also a diuretic, it means going to the toilet becomes a frequent occurrence on a night out. When these two factors combine, your body is essentially throwing away water. The end result of feeling dehydrated is one of the leading causes of a sore head the next morning.

The solution: if the taste of beer is something you’re just not willing to give up, think about trying an alcoholic-free version instead.

Rinkesh

Rinkesh is passionate about clean and green energy. He is running this site since 2009 and writes on various environmental and renewable energy related topics. He lives a green lifestyle and is often looking for ways to improve the environment around him. Follow him on Facebook here.

Latest posts by Rinkesh (see all)

25+ Spectacular Facts About the Amazon Rainforest


The Amazon Rainforest, also known as Amazonia, is located in South America and is the world’s largest tropical rainforest covering an area of 5,500,000 km2. Due to its large size, the Amazon forest covers a territory of nine nations with the biggest part of it in Brazil. The climate within the region is mainly tropical with hot, humid and very wet conditions.

The rainforest ecosystem is critically important for the well-being of the planet because it plays a highly significant role in stabilizing the world’s climate. The Amazon forest also provides home to many plants and animals and for this reason, it qualifies as a major tourist destination for the lovers of nature. These are just a few of the many facts about the Amazon Rainforest. Below are more than 25+ spectacular facts about the Amazon Rainforest.

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Fact 1: The Amazon rainforest covers over half of the world’s remaining rainforest. Amazon is the world’s largest tropical rainforest. Only 6% of the earth’s surface is covered by the rainforest and out of this, the Amazon rainforest covers over half of the world’s remaining rainforests.

Fact 2: It is located in a territory of nine countries. Amazon is located in a territory of nine nations including Brazil, Peru, Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana. Brazil takes the largest share of the rainforest, about 60%, while roughly 13% of it is in Peru and 10% of it is in Colombia.

Fact 3: The Amazon has a rich ecosystem. The Amazon is virtually unrivalled in scale and complexity of animal and plant species. It houses at least 10% of the world’s known biodiversity and is the home ground of more than 16,000 different species of trees, 2.5 million insect species, 40,000 plant species, 2,200 fish species, 1,300 bird species, 427 mammals, 430 amphibian species and 380 reptile species which have been classified just within the region.

Fact 4: Interestingly, a European by the name Francisco de Orellana is named after the Amazon for navigating the entire Amazon River. He gained recognition as the first explorer to traverse the Amazon River within the Amazon rainforest.

Fact 5: Deforestation is extensive in the rainforest. On aerial view, the Amazon rainforest is depleting at an astonishing rate because of extensive deforestation. Experts postulate that in the next forty years, the rainforest will be completely lost especially if action is not taken to address the problem. The rainforest is disappearing at a rate of 1.5 acres every second. The main reason for deforestation in the area is to clear the forest for cattle grazing and crop production.

Fact 6: A quarter of the western medicine pharmaceuticals used today has rainforest based ingredients that originate from the Amazon rainforest. Currently, over 120 drugs come from plant-derived sources and 70% of the plants identified as active against cancer cells come from the rainforest. It is even believed that the cure of cancer may be found in the Amazon rainforest.

Fact 7: The Amazon trees and plants provide more than 20% of the world’s oxygen. Considering the large size of the rainforest, it generates more than 20% of the globe’s oxygen and perhaps the reason it is known as the “lungs of the planet”. The vegetation in the Amazon continuously draws in and recycles carbon dioxide into oxygen and releasing it into the atmosphere, acting as a giant air machine.

Fact 8: There are about 50 indigenous tribes with their own language and culture living in the Amazon rainforest. The more than 50 indigenous communities in the Amazon have also never made contact with anyone outside the rainforest. Brazil’s Amazon is said to host the majority of the indigenous tribes. Most of the tribes are not settled in a specific location but rather move from one location to another often. They are nomadic hunters and gatherers.

Fact 9: The rainforest is home to very many dangerous animals. From poisonous reptiles to predatory creatures, the Amazon rainforest hosts numerous dangerous creatures. In fact, some the creatures, like the poison dart frog has enough venom that can kill up to 10 humans. The eight most dangerous Amazonian rainforest animals are the Green Anaconda, Poison dart frog, Brazilian wandering spider, the Jaguar, Electric Eel, South American Rattlesnake, Bullet Ant and the Red Bellied piranhas.

Fact 10: There are hundreds of endangered and threatened species of Amazon wildlife. About 137 species of the plants, animals and insects become extinct everyday through forces of destruction such as logging and cattle ranching, which have contributed to the loss of many acres of the rainforest. In the present day, anthropogenic activities in the Amazon rainforest threaten numerous species that at the verge of extinction.

Fact 11: The Amazon suffered a drought in the years 2005 and 2010. In 2005 and 2010, the Amazon rainforest experienced a significant drop in rainfall causing the Rio Negro Tributary to fall to its lowest level on record and the release of greenhouse gases from dead wood. The drought also resulted in very low stream flows and increased frequency of forest fires.

Fact 12: The Amazon River is the world’s largest river by volume. The Amazon rainforest hosts the Amazon River, which is the largest by volume and the second longest in length globally. The river has 17 tributaries draining 55 million gallons of water per second into the Atlantic Ocean, making it the largest in the quantity of water that it transports.

Fact 13: The floor of the Amazon forest is completely dark. The broad-leafy canopies of the Amazon trees block most of the sunlight. Only 1% of the light makes it to the floor. The broad-leaf canopies also slow down rainwater, making it take up to ten minutes to reach the ground.

Fact 14: One in five of all bird and fish species live in the Amazon. 10% of the world’s species live in the Amazon and 20% of the world’s known birds live in the Amazon. The Amazon is thus home to more species of plants and animals than any other terrestrial ecosystem on the planet. It is believed that the ants found in a single bush within the Amazon can be more than the entire British Isles.

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Fact 15: Agricultural activities are not sustainable in the rainforest. The region most has infertile soils that cannot support crops for a long period of time. It is the reason those living in the rainforest have to move often. The soils are notoriously thin and poor in nutrients. Surprisingly, rich rainforests grow on the soils even though they are low in mineral content.

Fact 16: The Amazon River once flowed West ward. A long time ago, the river once flowed east-to-west, but due to the continental drift, it created a raised highland along the east coast of South America, which tilted the Amazon flow, sending water and sediments rushing towards the center of the continent.

Fact 17: The toucan is the loudest creature in the Amazon. It is a brilliantly colored arboreal fruit-eating bird, which aids to give it camouflage in the tropical rainforest.

Fact 18: A three degrees rise in temperature will destroy 75% of the Amazon rainforest. Climate change experts warn that global temperature increases will kill the rainforest within 100 years. The impacts of the temperature rise cannot be seen now but it will surely affect the rainforests in years to come.

Fact 19: The Amazon depends on a continuous supply of dust containing phosphorous for fertilization. The phosphorus dust is blown from the Sahara Desert over the Atlantic Ocean by wind. Strong winds sweeping across the Sahara help in the process. Phosphorous is an essential nutrient that acts like a fertilizer which the Amazon depends on to flourish.

Fact 20: Martin Strel holds the Guinness World Record for swimming the entire length of 5,268 m of the Amazon River for 66 days. He was the first man to swim the entire length of the Amazon River from headwaters in Peru to the Brazilian port city of Belem.

Fact 21: Efforts to curb deforestation in the Amazon have been difficult. Actions to address the deforestation problem have been difficult over the years until recently when laws and stricter policies were put in place to protect the forest from deforestation. Conservation policies, improved law enforcement and new protected areas have played a significant role.

Fact 22: In the past years, the Amazon has suffered a loss of approximately 20% of its size due to the cutting down of trees. All of it started with the controversial Trans-Amazonian Highway, which created room logging and more destructive actions such as illegal hunting of wildlife and clearing of interior forest areas for farming and settling squatters.

Fact 23: The Kapok tree is the tallest in the Amazon. The tree can grow to lengths of 200 ft towering over the other rainforest vegetation.

Fact 24: More than 80% of the types of food the globe consumes have its origin in the Amazon rainforest. More than 3000 fruit types that grow in the rainforest are edible. They include avocados, coconuts, oranges, lemons, grapefruits, pineapples, and mangoes. A variety of vegetables and spices were also originally found in the rainforest.

Fact 25: The biodiversity of plant species in the Amazon is the greatest in the world. Every one hectare (2.47acres) contains 750 types of tree species and 1500 types of plant species.

Fact 26: The Amazon rainforest acts as a carbon sink. Because of its vastness, the Amazon rainforest absorbs and stores carbon dioxide. The rainforest therefore plays a crucial role in maintaining the global carbon levels.

Image credit: skitter , pixabay

Rinkesh

Rinkesh is passionate about clean and green energy. He is running this site since 2009 and writes on various environmental and renewable energy related topics. He lives a green lifestyle and is often looking for ways to improve the environment around him.

Latest posts by Rinkesh (see all)

Construction, Working and Environmental Effects of Landfill


Most of us have heard about landfills but few ever think of them as anything more that holes in the ground that get filled with trash bags. Nonetheless, landfills are a little more complex than how most of us perceive of it. A landfill is a waste disposal system where waste is buried, but the waste first goes through some processing before it is buried. Landfills are some of the most common means of waste disposal and have become increasingly popular due to the hazardous effects of burning waste, which used to be the primary technique of dealing with waste disposal for many developed and developing countries.

The uniqueness of landfills is how it allows for the burying of waste, in that, it does not cause an eyesore such as is the case with dumpsites and is completely isolated from getting into contact with groundwater or the air. Landfills also provide the added advantage of providing potential sources for energy which means that they make use of the waste in ways that no other trash storage method does.

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Construction of the landfill

Landfills work by going through a thorough process of evaluation first in order to determine where to put them and its lifetime operation. The criteria are as follows;

1. Area of land

The section of land for setting up the landfill needs to be large as not only is the actual landfill supposed to be sizable to pack enough waste, but also requires a lot of space for supporting structures that will be discussed further on. Environmental impact study also has to be done on the land before construction begins.

2. Composition of the bottom of the pit

The bottom of the pit needs to be as watertight as possible. This means that the bottom of the pit should be compacted tightly or the bedrock should not have cracks in it to prevent water from the pit leaking into ground water.

3. Surface flow of water

The flow of water from rain should also be studied in a bid to develop strategies to prevent runoff water from the landfill from making its way to rivers as well as the ground table. This means, landfills cannot be constructed near rivers and lakes and they require drainage systems to manage their surface water run-off.

4. Environmental impact assessment

This is to evaluate the damage that the project will have on the surrounding region as well as drawing up plans for contingencies that will help solve problems that the landfill might cause. The systems set up here are supposed to ensure the environment does not suffer too greatly while cushioning against any forms of accidents.

5. Historical and archaeological value of the site

Historical and archaeological valuation of the site has to be done to ensure the landfill site does not disturb land that is significant in any way either historically for the local people or on the basis of archaeological importance that would be lost. 

How Landfill Works?

Once these requirements are established, the landfill creation process can begins and this shows exactly how the landfill works. Landfills may differ in operations, structure and how they are designed, but the following are the typical structures involved.

1. Bottom Liner system

The Bottom Liner System is the section ensuring that the trash and leachate does not drain into the ground water or sip out of the landfill and make its way to other water sources or pollute the soil. The liner is usually a durable and puncture resistant material such as polyvinylchloride about a tenth of an inch (approximately 3 millimetres) thick.

2. The Cells

This is where the actual trash gets placed. As space is a precious commodity for landfills, there is a need to be very careful with how it is packed. Cells are created to allow for the allocation of specific space resources while guaranteeing optimal usage of the given land for the landfill. The packing process is especially rigorous, requiring that each cell be filled then compacted using heavy machinery to ensure maximum use of space. The resulting trash is usually packed till it becomes airtight.

Examples of cell dimensions have them placed at 15 by 15 by 4 meters. At the top of each cell, they are packed with about 6 inches of compacted soil to ensure the cell remains airtight, preventing insect and other pest penetration into the landfill.

3. Storm Water Drainage System

This is the system maintaining the dryness of the landfill by preventing water from seeping into the system. It directs surface runoff away from the landfill as well as ensuring water does not find way into rivers untreated.

4. Leachate Collection System

This system collects leachate that eventually seeps from the landfill. While trash put into the landfill is usually checked for liquids and rejected if it’s too wet, the system still generates enough liquid referred to as leachate. This liquid contains large concentrations of hazardous materials that have dissolved in it from the landfill trash over time.

It is therefore very dangerous to have it pool anywhere unmanaged or drain off into water sources. As such, the system collects the leachate and drains it out of the landfill into a collection region where it is processed just like sewage and released safely back into the natural water ways.

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5. Methane Collection System

Due to the airtight nature of the packing process, only anaerobic bacteria can survive in the landfill. These are the bacteria that do not need oxygen to survive. The bacteria break down the materials found within the landfill and produce mostly two by-products, methane and carbon dioxide.

Methane is highly flammable; therefore, letting it collect within the landfill is a dangerous option given that it might be densely packed and eventually becomes explosive. For this reason, the methane collection systems either collects the gas and use and/or sell it as a fuel source or burn it on site to reduce its concentration inside the landfill.

6. Covering or Cap

The covering cap is the last bit of material placed daily on the landfill to cover the cells. It is usually a polythene material covered in a thick layer of soil that later has trees and shrubs grown on it once the landfill is completely filled to prevent erosion. The covering is done to prevent exposure of the waste to the air, pests, and to aid on the management of bad smell.

Landfills can have very adverse effects on the environment, especially when improperly constructed. The major concerns include:

1. Leaching

Leachate is the water contained in the trash that usually seeps out over time. While management during construction ensures the trash ending up in landfills is relatively dry, some liquid is inherent within the trash and thus drains out over time. This leachate has in it dissolved organic and non-organic material and minerals. It is also usually acidic. This can cause horrendous changes in the pH levels of the soil around the landfill as well as change its chemical composition.

2. Methane as a greenhouse gas

Methane gas, as previously discussed, is extremely volatile and could easily cause problems. However, its biggest contribution to the environmental problem is that, it is a greenhouse gas. In this view, methane gas could contribute to the global warming. The situation is even made worse by the possible human errors that could contribute to problems such as accidental release of the gas due to negligence.

3. Other gases similarly cause air pollution and health problems to humans

Some other gases also tend to be produced in the landfills especially when ammonia and bleach mix. These gases can cause health problems and reduce the quality of life because of the bad smell. Besides, it can be particularly dangerous because of the tendency of converting landfills into recreational parks at the end of their lifecycle.

4. Potential fire hazard

Another huge concern is the potential fire hazard that landfills pose. Poor construction of landfills could leave enough room in the structure for air to make its way in. The produced methane gas could then easily mix with the air and ignite to start a fire. The trash within the landfill could then burn, heating to very high temperature as it burns due to its construction, the same way an oven burns, with all the compacted material above and below it. Such an occurrence could make the fires very hard to put out. Furthermore, the fire could cause the leachate to spread when attempts are made to put out the fire.

5. Soil erosion and dust

During the construction of landfills, a lot of soil is disturbed that leads to increased dust in the air. Also, the dust could rise after the completion of the project if shrubs and plants are not planted appropriately on top of the cap. Moreover, soil erosion could occur during the whole process of moving dirt as well as over time as the cap on the landfill slowly gets attacked by surface water run-off and wind.

Rinkesh

Rinkesh is passionate about clean and green energy. He is running this site since 2009 and writes on various environmental and renewable energy related topics. He lives a green lifestyle and is often looking for ways to improve the environment around him.

Latest posts by Rinkesh (see all)

11 Easy Ways To Beat Winter And Keep The Heat Inside


We can put on some extra layers of clothing outside, but nobody wants to sit inside in their winter jacket. So in order to defeat winter it is important to keep our homes nice and toasty. To do that we have to fix insulation from top to bottom but also update our heating systems. Technology can provide some extra help as apps can be used to control your heating remotely. We have listed a few easy tips on how to beat winter in its own game.

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1. Insulate throughout

Before you jump onto using some hacks to warm up your home, check on the current insulation of your home. Though smaller hacks can, and will, help, mending your isolation is crucial.

Check on the state of your walls, roof and floors, especially around windows and doors. You can install the insulation material yourself or by calling in the pros.

Don’t be too quick to choose your insulation material. You can choose among the more conventional materials like fiberglass or mineral wool, but you can also opt for DIY materials like cardboard and paper or you can use some other recyclable material.

2. Tin foil between walls and radiators

If your home is already insulated or you are not in the position to renovate your isolation, there are tricks to help you out. One is to place a tin foil on a wall behind the radiator. Tin foils are made from aluminum so they don’t store the heat from the radiators, but actually, they reflect the heat away from the wall and into the room.

Kitchen foil can do the trick, but you might also consider a foil specifically used for this purpose as it produces better results.

3. Check your windows

No matter how much you try and insulate your walls, if your windows are not insulated enough you will still lose heat considerably. You can remove the old ones and replaced them with PVC or double glazed windows.

But since recently windows have an even more amazing use than insulation. Today we have something called solar glazing. Basically windows today can be used to generate electricity and thus help us to power our house from a natural renewable source.

4. Heavy and thick curtains

During the day, the sunlight heats up your house through your windows but at night windows become just another way for heat to escape through. For this reason, you should draw your curtains in the evening.

The choice of curtain material is quite important and the best examples include thick and heavy materials like velvet, tapestry and suede. They are much better at insulating than, for example, cotton or linen, which are great curtain materials for warmer months.

5. Deal with the draught

Despite covering your walls with isolation materials and covering up your windows at night with heavy curtains, there might still be places through which heat might escape.

Some cracks and openings are caused by time and weather, like those around windows. These can usually be easily sealed by applying silicone rubber sealant. However, the trickier ones are the holes built in your house, including loft hatches, keyholes and letterbox openings.

These built-in openings require more creativity as you probably still want them to remain open, yet covered. In that case, you can use simple covers that can be moved or taken off when not needed.

6. Seal the chimney

It is not enough to deal with small creaks and nooks especially if you have a bigger problem like the chimney. We ignore the fact that fireplaces are more decorative nowadays and they are seldom used. In the meantime, heat keeps escaping through them.

And if you don’t wish to seal it forever you can use a fireplace plug. It is inflatable and will completely cover your chimney. Just make sure you take it out before you start a fire.

7. Cover your floors

Though your floors might be isolated, with the change in temperature wood changes its form. In time it expands and contracts over and over again and in time it cracks and creates gaps between boards. These gaps can influence the level of your home’s isolation significantly.

One possibility is to seal the gaps in your hardwood floor, for narrower ones you can use fillers and for wider ones it is better to put in narrow strips of wood or rope.

Additionally, you should cover up your floors with carpets. It is an easy and smart solution for extra protection of your home.

Put in also a few fluffier rugs around the house, especially next to beds and your favorite sitting spots. It might warm your feet just a bit but it will also give you an illusion of warmth.

8. Decorate and insulate

Insulating is a necessity, not a choice, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be fun. You can make your own draught excluders and place them under your windows and doors. Excluders look great, just like stuffed toys sitting around and they are super easy to make: cut off a leg of some tights, choose its size and stuff it with some old socks.

After the winter is over and the sun shows it’s face, don’t throw away all of those winter curtains and excluders. Instead, keep them somewhere safe like in your basement or in an attic. Self-storage is another great solution since storages are nowadays secure, modern and will save you a lot of precious space. For example, I know for sure that Sydney storage unit is safe, always available option and you can easy find something similar in your area too.

9. Let your radiators breathe

While you are checking your walls, remember to also check the state of your radiators. Keep them clean inside and out, as their cleanliness will surely influence their effectiveness. You should have them serviced, at least once a year, to maintain them properly.

Another important thing to remember when it comes to radiators is that they need room to work. Don’t place any furniture right next to them as you will also block heat from spreading throughout your room.

10. Check your boiler

While it is important to maintain your radiators and furnaces, you should also check on your boiler as another source of heat in your home. Get it regularly serviced and cleaned and have it replaced when it starts consuming more energy than it provides for. This will make your home more efficient and it will reduce your heating costs.

11. Apps – useful and convenient

Mobile phones can do almost anything instead of us nowadays. They remember phone numbers, birthdays and anniversaries. They also allow us access to the Internet anywhere we go, but can they help us with heating?

In order to save up on heating, we might choose to turn it off when we are out but who likes to come back to a freezing house? That’s right, nobody does. Here’s where your phone, or its app, helps. You can turn on heating on your way home remotely via your phone and by the time you get there, your home is nice and warm.

Using apps for heating is useful but also convenient as nobody leaves home without their phone anymore.

After you are done with these tips, there will be no more jackets inside. You will make your home winter-proof not only for this winter but many winters to come. Insulate all, walls, floors and roofs. Remember to double check your windows and doors for possible gaps. Service your appliances regularly and keep them clean so they can be as productive as possible. When it’s time to update them, do so as it is more financially but also environmentally responsible.

Image credit: pixabay

Rinkesh

Rinkesh is passionate about clean and green energy. He is running this site since 2009 and writes on various environmental and renewable energy related topics. He lives a green lifestyle and is often looking for ways to improve the environment around him.

Latest posts by Rinkesh (see all)

Effects of Littering on Humans, Animals and the Environment


Littering implies careless and improper disposal of trash. It can be any rubbish carelessly thrown away such as candy wrappers, plastic wrappers, plastic bottles, chewed gum, cigarette butt and the list is endless. Littering can also be referred to as a thoughtless action done by an individual who is more of self-centred – doing only what is convenient for him/herself without regard for the people around him or the environment.

The worry here is that careless disposal of trash is an eyesore as well as a gateway to problems with regards to hygiene and the environment. The meaning of this therefore, is that, littering is a huge public concern as it contributes to several negative implications. Here are the major effects associated with littering on humans, the environment and even animals.

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Effects of Littering on Humans

1. Clean up is cumbersome and eats on taxpayers money

Littering has a number of problems for humans. First, the littering creates a problem in logistics as someone has to clean the trash up after somebody carelessly drops it. Otherwise, the dirt sullies the region and serves as an eyesore. Also in dealing with the issue, municipalities often need to hire individuals to clean up the dirt. Municipalities achieves this by taxing citizens meaning that even those who do not litter still have to pay the price for those who do it.

2. Diseases

Litter carries germs that end up in various places and as a result, it festers and forms a breeding ground for bacteria. The effect of this is the exposure of the germs to the general public which can lead to outbreaks of diseases such as cholera and typhoid if the litter gets into water sources or carried by pets and birds into our homes. The resulting diseases can lead to deaths and poor general public health, devastating the entire city.

Litter can also cause injury or diseases by directly introducing pathogens to individuals. It happens in cases where the litter is glass or metal, such as rusty tins or contaminated glass/needles/blades. Rusty metals and dirty glass, for instance, can cut into skin causing infections such as tetanus.

3. Disruption of the water ways

Litter can lead to the disruption of water ways. When plastics are dumped inappropriately, they follow the path of water after heavy rains and eventually end up in drainage pipes and sewer channels. With time, the litter clogs up the sieves that lie along the pipes. The clogs then block the drainage pipes or water passages which cause the pipes to burst.

Once the pipes burst or drainages are clogged, it creates serious problems and most of the times it leads to free flow of raw sewage or flooding. Flooding and free flow of raw sewage are correlated with outbreak and spread of diseases namely typhoid, cholera, and malaria.

4. Pests and harmful animals

Littering creates conducive environments for pest such as deadly insects and rats to breed. The pests themselves tend to be vectors for diseases while in other cases, the pests attract other animals such as snakes that are even more harmful to human lives. An example is the king cobra which is an extremely venomous snake that feeds on the non-venomous rat snake which feeds on rats that are attracted to the filth of litter.

5. Compounded littering

It is also worth noting that litter breeds litter. Once litter begins to collect in a place, people tend to begin throwing their own litter at the same dump. Such a selfish behaviour and disregard for hygiene leads to more litter collecting on the spot and as a result, it compounds the problem. With time, it makes the above mentioned problems worse and most of all, it makes the clean-up process much harder.

Effects of Littering on Animals

1. Poisoning

Littering introduces both noxious biodegradable and non-biodegradable waste into the environment. Animals that roam around the regions of such dumpsites tend to feed on the materials, such as food wrappers, and ingest them. The same can happen when the trash finds its way into water that the animals drink.

This can lead to poisoning of the animals by the chemicals within the wastes. Birds and pets are particularly at high risk if they eat from the trash. The result is poor health condition of the animals or even death due to poising or obstruction in their digestive systems.

2. Physical harm and trapping

Non-biodegradable trash traps animals as they can become ensnared and wounded as they struggle to get themselves loose. The trash such as beer can rings and wrongly discarded plastic items such as nets and ropes can entangle the limbs of the animals, sometimes even going around the animal’s necks and causing death because of asphyxiation.

If such trash finds way into water bodies, it can also lead to death via drowning or suffocation due to the animal’s inability to get away from water in the case of terrestrial animals or suffocation for aquatic animals as the plastics hinder the animal’s ability to move within the water.

3. Indigestible trash

Non-biodegradable trash has a bad effect on animals because it can cause problems if ingested. The animals become unable to digest the materials and they end up clogging the digestive tracts causing painful and slow deaths.

Aquatic animals are mostly affected as they feed on smaller microscopic foods such as krill which means they have to swallow large amounts of sea water which sometimes contains indigestible plastics or metals. Victims include whales and sea birds among other large aquatic fish and sea mammals.

4. Habitats for disease vectors

Just like humans, animals are susceptible to microbial attacks. Litter provides the disease vectors breeding grounds to hide and multiply. In the long-run, it leads to outburst in their numbers thereby spreading diseases to the animals. Vectors such as mosquitoes are known to transmit blood borne diseases and tend to breed in stagnant water found in dumpsites.

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Effects of Littering on Environment

1. Uncomfortable and unpleasant

Trash is an eyesore on the environment. Littering disrupts the beautiful aesthetic of a region with waste. In other words, being in a littered area is very uncomfortable and unpleasant. Consequently, littering takes away business and even tourism because people tend not to want to be in an area or city that is dirty. Ultimately, businesses in such regions suffer. The nature of people’s disgust with litter also means that the environment loses its economic value.

2. Fire hazard

Littering can also poses a risk to the environment as it can facilitate fire outbreak. Plastics and paper waste tend to be very flammable and this means they can become easy to ignite after which it spreads the fire to the rest of the surrounding environment. Other items that are usually littered such as cigarette stubs and lighted matchsticks could also serve as the spark that would later ignite such fires.

Another starting point for the fires would be glass. Glass from bottles is usually shaped in a manner that focuses the ray of the sun. With suitable conditions and the sun strike glass in the right way, the glass could focus the sun’s rays into a single beam hot enough to ignite dried leaf or paper that would then start a fire.

3. Algal blooms

Algal blooms are sudden outbursts of large amounts of algae in an aquatic environment. Algal blooms come about when organic litter is dumped and finds its way to water ways and other aquatic environments. The organic trash then decomposes and releases nutrients that the algae use, leading to outbursts in their numbers.

The algae forms a carpet-like layer on the surface of the water which is hazardous to the marine life below it as it prevents oxygen from diffusing into the water. Some algae may also produce toxins that poison the aquatic animals leading to their deaths.

4. Chemical contamination

The environment is adversely affected by litter especially if it is chemical in nature. In terrestrial environments, the litter can gather for a long time leading to slow seepage of contaminants such as heavy metals into the soil. This is particularly the case when electrical components such as cell phone batteries are not properly disposed.

In aquatic environments, the problem could be even worse due to the sensitive nature of the environment. Pollutants from littering such as simple organic trash can disrupt the pH balance of the water, the nutrient content and even temperature causing large ripple effects on the plant and animal ecosystem beneath.

Image credit: Emmet , prvideotv

Rinkesh

Rinkesh is passionate about clean and green energy. He is running this site since 2009 and writes on various environmental and renewable energy related topics. He lives a green lifestyle and is often looking for ways to improve the environment around him.

Latest posts by Rinkesh (see all)

Top Apps and Software to Help You Be More Energy Efficient


The average US household uses 897 kWh per month or 10,766 kWh per year. Compare that to the global average of 3,500 kWh and you’ll see that the US is one of the largest consumers of energy in the world. We need energy to power our everyday lives, but unless we commit to reducing our energy consumption, the world’s natural resources will become further depleted.

Industry experts predict that oil supplies will run out within 40 years. Right now, renewable energy only accounts for 15% of electricity in the US and 2.7% of electricity in the UK. Renewable energy is growing and governments are slowly waking up to the realization they must invest more money in renewables, but in the meantime, there is plenty we can do to conserve energy.

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Technology is our friend on the journey towards energy efficiency. There are numerous apps that make life easier. Trading apps help us navigate the financial markets and social media apps let us keep up with friends on the go. Here is a list of energy saving apps to boost your family’s energy efficiency, so you can do your bit to save the environment.

Smart Homes

Smart Home energy management devices are the latest must-have tech products for families who want to save time and money. Smart thermostats let you adjust your home’s temperature without lifting a finger and if you invest in a Nest Learning Thermostat, you can save energy when you are away from home. Check out the EnergyHub Thermostat and Ecobee Smart Thermostat. Apps for all three are available in the Google Play and iTunes store.

Setting up a smart home energy management system could save you up to 60% on your energy bill.

Energy Cost Calculator

The Energy Cost Calculator is available for download from the Apple Store. This nifty little app tells you exactly how much it costs to leave your TV on standby all night or how much energy you are wasting by not switching off the landing light. Use the app to calculate water and fuel costs and scare the kids into switching things off when they leave a room.

Energy Tracker

The Energy Tracker app is available for Apple devices. It records how much energy you consume and provides colourful graphs to help you digest this information more easily. All you have to do is upload your meter readings and the app does the rest. The app also tells you how much you could save if you cut your energy consumption.

Joulebug

The Joulebug app turns energy saving into a fun game for the whole family. Download the app from the Google Play store or Apple iTunes and share it with your family. The app gives you tips to save energy and if you make savings, you can earn trophies to reward your hard work.

iRecycle

Dumping household trash in a landfill is bad for the environment, yet many of us routinely do it to save time. The iRecycle app for Apple and Android tells you exactly where your local recycling facility is, so you can get rid of your unwanted items in a more energy efficient manner.

Alert Me

The Alert Me energy saving app lets you compare your energy consumption with that of your neighbors. Discover how much you can save compared to other households. It might just shame you into turning lights off or switching off PCs at the wall.

Energy Monitor Pro

Similar to smart homes devices, this innovative app allows you to monitor and control your energy use from your mobile device, meaning you can ultimately cut down on energy bill costs with greater ease. It also helps electricity providers to increase their overall efficiency.

Kill-Ur-Watts

This is another great app for enabling you to take control of your energy usage. Kill-Ur-Watts tracks the amount of energy you are burning up and formulates strategies to help you reduce this, ultimately saving you a lot of the legwork. It is also completely free, which is undoubtedly an attractive bonus.

Green Outlet

Exceeding in innovation and ease of use, Green Outlet helps users to calculate which appliances in their house are using up the most energy. They can monitor their use far easier, and either replace to most inefficient appliances or use them much less.

Light Bulb Finder

Another great free app to explore is Light Bulb Finder, which gathers information about the bulbs you require in your home. Once this is complete, the app will then find out which stores near you stock the most energy efficient light bulb options for your home, and will give you a recommendation for the best bulbs to use based on cost effectiveness and environmental impact.

FuelGood

The FuelGood app lets you gauge your fuel efficiency when driving, meaning that you can save up to 1/6 of your fuel expenditure per year. It does this through using GPS technology to track your journeys and offering driving tips to help encourage efficient driving.

Water Use Calculator

For those curious about how much energy they are frittering away through leaving taps on too long, this app is ideal. It lets you monitor exactly how energy you are using every time you use something which dispenses water in the home (including dishwashers and showers). It also provides tips on how to reduce water consumption.

Eco Charger

For those who leave their phone on charge for far too long, this is the ideal app. Eco Charger causes any mobile device on which it is installed to vibrate obnoxiously until it is unplugged, allowing users to save the energy they would otherwise waste ‘charging’ a fully charged phone.

My Earth

This is more of a general app which allows you to track a number of different areas of energy usage, including electricity, food and travel, amongst others. It also gives you activities to check off, and serves as an effective visualiser for overall energy consumption.

These are just some of the many apps which can help you to become more energy efficient. With technology constantly progressing at such an unprecedented rate, there are bound to be more innovations in the field of energy efficiency apps, which will further help you to control your energy use with ease.

Image credit: pixabay

Rinkesh

Rinkesh is passionate about clean and green energy. He is running this site since 2009 and writes on various environmental and renewable energy related topics. He lives a green lifestyle and is often looking for ways to improve the environment around him.

Latest posts by Rinkesh (see all)

Microplastics are Proving Terrible For the Marine Life


A seemingly harmless arts and craft material, glitter has been a part of fun Do It Yourself projects, an intricate part of the fashion and makeup world, and an all-around well-loved item for years. Yet beneath all that glitz and glam lies an unfortunate and little-known truth: that glitter is causing serious harm to the environment.

Glitter is known for its tendency to stick to all available surfaces and be virtually impossible to completely clean and get rid of, but apart from that flaw, it is also a particular kind of material that is a huge environmental hazard. These small, shiny plastic pieces are called microplastics, which are essentially thin plastic sheets which measure less than 5mm in diameter and are harmful for marine life.

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These plastics are easily found all over the marine environment, from its depths to its surfaces, and are eaten accidentally by a variety of marine life. Birds that feed on marine life unwittingly introduce the microplastic into their system when they eat, which can result in them dying from starvation. Fish and other marine life like whale and planktons that ingest microplastics also face the same starvation hazard, and in fact, research suggests that these plastics are killing fish faster than they can repopulate.

But it isn’t just animals who face direct danger from microplastics – humans do, too, as we catch, cook, and ingest fish and other animals that may have microplastic particles in their systems, which contain chemicals and toxins few would want within their bodies.

News about the danger of glitter came to a head when nineteen kindergartens in the United Kingdom decided to cease all usage of the product in their classrooms in order to help save the oceans. The story spread worldwide from Tops Day Nurseries and gained traction quickly.

Meanwhile, in the United Kingdom, a ban on another assortment of microplastics is taking place, to be implemented in 2018: microbeads – a product that the United States has already partially banned since July and will ban the sale of in July 2018, while outlawing over-the-counter drugs containing them and other plastic particles beginning June 2019.

Microbeads are a kind of microplastic often present in hygiene products like body scrubs and facial washes, and over 8 trillion of them are flushed out into the waters of the United States every day. Canada has also banned microbeads since June, and Cosmetics Europe, which is a Europe-based trade group that represents cosmetic businesses, has often expressed recommendations for the use of microbeads to be discontinued.

In light of this ban about to take effect, many researchers and scientists are urging that glitters, especially those used in cosmetic products, should be similarly outlawed. As these products are washed off of the body and down the drain, potentially clogging waterways, the small glitter plastics are likely to find their way to the marine environment – where they will release dangerous chemicals into the water that could endanger water life – and beyond. In fact, in the opinion of many scientists, all varieties of glitter should simply be banned for good.

However, there is a flip side to this narrative, as there isn’t much evidence available on how much damage glitter itself is causing. A large majority of microplastics mainly come from plastic garbage and waste, which are broken down by waves and ultraviolet rays, and from the aforementioned microbeads, the latter of which do not degrade at all. Meanwhile, in an examination of 500 fish from the English Channel, around one third of which contained microplastic particles, glitter was not found at all among them.

As such, a complete ban on the product altogether right now could be premature, and more effective methods may help curb the microplastic problem. Instead, researches and scientists urge consumers and manufacturers to practice responsible product usage.

Companies such as Lush Ltd. in the United Kingdom have already moved to replace all glitter in its cosmetics and products, which were manufactured from polyethylene terephthalate or PET, with mineral and synthetic mica made glitter. In order to maintain glitter’s famous sparkle, starch-based luster is used to give it shine. The company urges consumers to check labels before purchasing any cosmetic products, and example of a manufacturer responsibly working to combat the microplastic problem.

Still, it can be a serious issue to expect consumers and smaller manufacturers to be aware of and to be held responsible for their use of glitter, which is why many scientists still believe that an outright ban may be the most necessary step. The implementation may only be most effective when coming from the top down.

Thankfully, those who enjoy the little sparkly shards do not need to stop using the colorful crafts altogether, and they can still purchase and use types of glitter that have been made to be biodegradable, and therefore, much more environmentally friendly.

Image credit: pixabay

Rinkesh

Rinkesh is passionate about clean and green energy. He is running this site since 2009 and writes on various environmental and renewable energy related topics. He lives a green lifestyle and is often looking for ways to improve the environment around him.

Latest posts by Rinkesh (see all)

25 Simple and Easy Ways to Increase Your Home’s Efficiency


Several benefits come along with improving the efficiency of your home, including healthier living conditions, increased savings, positive environmental effects, a higher level of energy independence, and even a boost in property value.

Ultra-efficient homes aim to reduce unnecessary energy consumption, greenhouse gas emissions, and demands for nonrenewable resources by combining state-of-the-art, energy-efficient construction, appliances, and lighting with commercially available renewable energy systems, such as solar water heating and solar electricity. By taking advantage of local climate and site conditions, designers can even incorporate passive solar heating and cooling and energy-efficient landscaping strategies.

fluorescent bulbs

However, not everyone has the time, money, or ability to transform his or her dwelling into an ultra-efficient house. Luckily, there are a number of simple things you can do that will still boost your home’s efficiency and help you to start saving both your wallet and the environment.

Note that before you begin to make your home more energy efficient, it’s important to know where you currently stand. Several solar companies offer energy audits, during which an energy professional will inspect your home and determine areas where efficiency can be improved, as well as which parts of the property could use additional attention. It’s recommended to start with an audit to find out which items on this list will be most beneficial for you specifically. Here are 25 simple and easy ways to increase your home’s efficiency.

1. Get a programmable thermostat

Installing a programmable thermostat can save money and increase efficiency by automatically turning down heating and cooling appliances during times when no one is home and at night. Programmable thermostats contain no mercury and, in some climate zones, can save homeowners hundreds of dollars per year in energy costs.

2. Check weather stripping and caulking

Ensuring that your windows are properly caulked and your doors have good weather stripping can help keep cold drafts and warm air from seeping into your home. If you do find that your weather stripping and caulking needs to be replaced, it’s a quick, inexpensive DIY project that you could likely complete in just a few hours.

3. Unplug appliances when not in use

If you have appliances that you only use occasionally, there is no reason for them to be drawing energy around the clock. Getting in the habit of unplugging appliances when you’re not using them is a simple way to conserve energy.

4. Revamp windows

Windows are a major source of heat loss in a home, so it’s important to make sure that your windows are as efficient as possible. There are a number of ways to revamp your windows, including replacing aluminum frames with vinyl, installing multiple panes, tinting, and replacing your current windows with Energy Star-rated panes.

5. Switch out light bulbs

If you currently have incandescent lights, consider replacing them with fluorescents. Although compact fluorescent bulbs are more expensive initially, they provide considerable savings in the long run because they last up to 25 times longer than incandescent bulbs. Even using a mix of fluorescent and incandescent lighting throughout your home can have a significant impact on overall energy usage.

6. Add insulation

Insulation is the key to maintaining heat in your home. As a result, a tightly sealed house can improve comfort and indoor air quality while reducing utility bills. Because hot air rises, air leaks are most likely to occur in the attic. Taking the time to add a little extra insulation to your attic, ceilings, and walls will prevent cold drafts and ensure that you won’t pay unnecessary heating costs.

7. Update old appliances with Energy Star appliances

Older appliances are less energy-efficient than newer models, so replacing old kitchen appliances, washers, dryers, water heaters, and furnaces with Energy Star-certified devices will go a long way towards saving energy and lowering your electric bills. Look for the Energy Star label while shopping to make sure you’re getting an energy- and money-saving appliance.

8. Audit temperature settings

Check both your home thermostat and your water heater thermostat to ensure that they are each set at an optimal temperature. A water heater set higher than 140 degrees wastes quite a bit of energy, so the savings may be worth turning it down a bit.

9. Hang curtains

Hanging thick curtains over your windows not only makes your home more decorative and snug, it can also help prevent heat from escaping from your house.

10. Improve water heater

Improving the efficiency of your water heater is a great way to conserve energy and lower your bills. You can insulate the hot water lines to prevent them from cooling off quickly between uses, or install on-demand hot water circulating loops that are activated when you turn on the tap and deactivated when hot water has reached the fixture.

11. Fix furnace

Take a look at your furnace and see if you can increase its efficiency by switching out the air filters or sealing the ducts. If you really want to boost efficiency, consider exchanging your current furnace with a new, high efficiency module that burns less gas and produces fewer carbon emissions. Don’t forget to close the vents in rooms that you use less frequently to ensure that you’re only heating or cooling rooms that are occupied.

12. Add solar panels

Adding solar panels to your house can help you cut down on energy costs by giving you the ability to produce your own electricity. If you aren’t interested in purchasing panels, many solar companies offer lease and power purchase agreement options that still give you the opportunity to utilize green energy and save money.

13. Install ceiling fans

Air conditioners require a large amount of energy to cool a home. Consider installing ceiling fans throughout your home and using them in place of air conditioners.

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14. Plant a tree

If you have room, plant a tree in your yard on the side of your house that gets the most sun. During the summer, the tree and its leaves will provide shade to help keep your home cool. In winter, the tree will be bare and allow warm sunshine into your house during the most optimal time of day.

15. Install a rainwater collection system

Buying or building a rainwater collection system will allow you to trap rainwater that would otherwise become runoff. That trapped water can then be used as irrigation water for your lawn or plants, cutting down on the water you’ll need to pull from other sources.

16. Update toilets

Toilets alone account for approximately 30 to 40 percent of the total water used in a home. To conserve water usage, install something more efficient, like low-flow toilets, vacuum-assist toilets, or dual-flush toilets.

17. Install daylighting

Daylighting is the practice of using natural light rather than electricity to illuminate the home’s interior. It can be achieved by installing skylights, light shelves, clerestory windows, and light tubes.

18. Update roof

Some roofs are made from special materials that are designed to reflect sunlight and lower roofing temperatures. This energy-saving technique is ideal for houses in warm climates where air conditioning costs are high all year round. If you live in one of these climates and are in need of a new roof, consider installing a reflective roof.

19. Choose appropriate flooring

The type of flooring you have in your home can have an effect on energy efficiency, so ensure that your flooring is appropriate. Carpet should be used if you want to trap heat and keep your home warmer, while tile should be used to keep your home cooler.

20. Paint the house

The color of your home can greatly contribute to the heat inside it. A light exterior color will help the home stay cooler, while a dark exterior color will better maintain heat. If your home is located in a warm climate, consider painting it a lighter color. If your home is located in a colder climate, painting it a darker exterior color is ideal.

21. Cook smarter

An enormous amount of energy is used while cooking. To ensure that you don’t waste energy while you cook, switch your conventional oven out for a convection oven, use a microwave instead of an oven when possible, and put lids on pots and pans to heat food more quickly.

22. Change your laundry routine

Laundry is another huge energy suck. To conserve energy while washing your clothes, wait to wash until you have a full load, avoid using high-temperature settings, clean the lint trap every time before you use the dryer, and air-dry clothing when possible.

23. Be mindful of activities

Take care to turn off lights when you leave a room, shut the door behind you, and take shorter showers. Small and simple changes like these can make a big difference over time and help to bring your total energy costs down.

24. Take advantage of tax incentives

Recent increases in incentives now allow for homeowners to receive credit for up to 30 percent of the cost of energy-efficient home improvements to an existing home (up to $1,500). That, on top of the savings you’ll see on your bills and the increased value of your home, equates to even more money in your pocket.

25. Keep an eye on energy consumption

Invest in an energy monitor and put it someplace where the whole family can look at it. Having the ability to see how much energy you are actually using, as well as how much that energy is costing, can help keep you aware, accountable, and on the right track towards optimal home efficiency.

Author: Sarah Hancock

Image credit: pixabay

Rinkesh

Rinkesh is passionate about clean and green energy. He is running this site since 2009 and writes on various environmental and renewable energy related topics. He lives a green lifestyle and is often looking for ways to improve the environment around him.

Latest posts by Rinkesh (see all)

15 Good Reasons You Need an Air Purifier For Your Home


At home is where most of us find our greatest peace and perhaps the most relaxing. It helps us to wind down a hectic day and even enjoy most of our beloved amenities such as sleep, chat with family and friends, and entertainment. However, as we spend time indoors, we usually overlook air quality. In other words, air quality in our homes is equally important as we enjoy our day to day indoor amenities.

Many times, indoor air contains tiny microbe sized items that can have numerous and diverse effects on our health once inhaled into the body. These range from allergy related problems or flu among other serious health conditions. With modern technological developments, however, it’s been possible to use an air purifier to clean out the air we breathe when indoors. For this reason, you need an air purifier and here, we take a look at 15 good reasons you need to get one for your home.

philips-air-purifier

1. Allergies

For those who suffer from allergies, it is a debilitating condition that is triggered by the slightest exposure to dust or impurities in the air, especially if the allergens are airborne. Allergens such as pollen can cause a lot of discomfort particularly to those who are susceptible.

As such, an air purifier ensures the home environment is free of impurities allowing you a safe haven against the constant barrage of allergies. Air purifiers also help when the allergies are lethal due to hypersensitivity as they act not only to provide comfort, but also to provide protection.

2. Pets

Although keeping your pets clean helps reduce the risk associated with their shedding hair and dead cells, the problem of dander still comes up as it is very hard to maintain constant grooming of pets. Dander can cause reactions from people who have allergies.

It can also slowly build up within the lungs of those who keep the company of pets which can develop into major issues later on. With air purifiers, you’ll be able to sift out all these dangerous particles and ensure long term safety your families while at the same time enjoying the company of your pet(s).

3. You live in an area where construction is ongoing

Areas near construction sites usually have a lot of dust in the air due to the action of construction workers and the tools that constantly disturb the ground. Dust can become a severe irritant by causing problems such as watering of eyes and sinus issues. It can also lead to dust allergies. Besides, the presence of the tiny dust particles in your home from nearby construction sites is associated with problems such as pulmonary complications and emphysema disease.

What’s more, the abrasive nature of sand particles can have physical damage on the lungs and the mucus membranes that line the respiratory system over time. This can lead to complications in breathing and even infections. By having an air purifier, you can get rid of most of these particles as long as maintenance is frequent and the filters are changed regularly.

4. Asthma or other respiratory complications

While air purifiers can help prevent some complications, they can also be used to manage others. Asthma and other respiratory complications tend to be aggravated by microbes and other particulates in the atmosphere. It leads to increased problems for those who are asthmatic and thus, it is imperative to install purifiers.

The reason for this is that air purifiers clean the air in a room thereby allowing those who suffer from asthmatic related complications to manage their conditions better. If you are asthmatic or suffer from other pulmonary complications, it’s high time you get yourself an air purifier.

5. You suffer from an autoimmune disease

Autoimmune diseases such as pulmonary fibrosis spring up not because of any pathogens or particles, but from the body attacking its own cells. This can be devastating because the sufferer is more susceptible to attacks from other opportunistic pulmonary diseases such as tuberculosis and pneumonia.

Here is where an air purifier becomes handy. By sifting out probable disease causing pathogens and reducing the number particles that can cause irritation to your immune system, it becomes easier to manage complications.

6. Reducing exposure to secondary smoke and heavy traffic/industrial emissions

Emission from secondary cigarette smoke, heavy traffic and industrial facilities is capable of causing diseases ranging from bronchitis to tumors that can lead to cancer. The particles in the emission can equally irritate the lungs and nasal passageways.

However, with an air purifier in your home, you can get rid of particulates from emissions thereby reducing the ill effects it causes. Also, having a purifier in room separate from a smoker’s room can reduce the likelihood of the non-smoker from second hand smoke.

7. Your house has suffered water damage

Buildings built with stone and untreated wood can encourage the growth of mould on the event it suffers water damage. Black mould (Stachybotrys) in particular is dangerous if inhaled as the spores can cause serious allergic reactions. On top of this, the mould can produce mycotoxins which can disturb human health as it causes nausea.

Sometimes the mould grows in regions where it cannot be identified, for instance, beneath the floorboards or in the walls of the building. They then produce spores that can get into your home via the ventilation system. The installation of a purifier is an effective technique of reducing exposure to mould.

8. Smells/ Odours

Smells and odors can come from a variety of places due to various reasons. The effects of the smell can range from benign to nausea inducing variety. It is a problem mostly in houses that are old and neglected for a long time or those that have suffered damage like fires and flooding.

In such cases, the smell of smoke and wood rot is usually present in the air inside the building. An air purifier in your home has the ability to filter the air and get rid of nauseating odours allowing you to live a comfortable and fulfilling life.

9. Multiple Chemical Sensitivity

Multiple Chemical Sensitivity occurs due to an individual’s long exposure to chemicals present in indoor air. An example is sensitivity to turpentine and its odor which is normally used as a paint thinner. You may also be overly sensitive to common household smells like that of bleach, sprays and detergents that reduce the quality of life indoors or even trigger pulmonary irritation. With an indoor air purifier, you can improve indoor air quality because it filters such chemicals from the air which allows you to live a quality life when at home.

10. Living quarters connected to a garage

When your room is next to the garage, complication can arise because of constant exposure to car fumes and exhaust as well as dust brought in by the car. The resulting complications can range from irritation of the airways and nasal passages to bronchitis. It is therefore necessary to acquire an air purifier if your living quarters is connected to a garagefor you to avoid the associated health problems.

11. Pregnancy

If you are a pregnant woman, you arehighly susceptible to complications originating from the inhalation of microbes and foreign particles in the air at home. Medics even argue that it can put the life of your unborn child at risk. A good example is the microbe Toxoplasma gondii which is hosted in cats and can be inhaled by a pregnant woman.

Once the microbe is in the body, it causes developmental complications in the foetus that may result in stillbirth. However, with the use of an air purifier, you are able to avoid such an incidence because some purifiers sifts out microbes as small as the Toxoplasma thus reducing the risks of exposure.

12. Small children

Children are extremely susceptible to diseases owing to their weakly developed immune systems. By having an air purifier within your household, it is possible to ensure the children are more protected from air borne diseases or conditions brought about by respiratory complications.

13. Chemical storage within your home

If you live in a home where there are a lot of chemical products, it is prudent to invest in an air purifier to protect your health in the long-term. Such chemicals including paints, sprays, solvents, bleaches or oils can make you prone to complications as a result of constant exposure, especially if they produce vapours.

14. You have a home office

What most people fail to notice about computers is that they also produce fumes and dust as they run the fans keeping them cool. Furthermore, you need a home office just has good indoor air quality. It is therefore important to get an air purifier to protect yourself from air impurities for you to be productive in your home office.

15. You’re looking to live a healthier lifestyle

While all the above reasons have merit, wanting a purifier for the sake of a healthier lifestyle is a fulfilling choice. Studies have shown that air purifiers have the ability to augment healthy living. You’ll always be in good health by breathing in fresh and purified air.

Image credit: philips

Rinkesh

Rinkesh is passionate about clean and green energy. He is running this site since 2009 and writes on various environmental and renewable energy related topics. He lives a green lifestyle and is often looking for ways to improve the environment around him.

Latest posts by Rinkesh (see all)

How Open Defecation Affects Human Health and Environment and its Solutions


Open defecation is the empting of bowels in the open without the use of properly designed structures built for handling of human waste such as toilets. Open defecation is particularly associated with rural and poverty stricken regions of the world, especially Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia.

Open defecation statistics from around the world have shown a statistical relationship between the regions that have the highest percentage of those that do not use toilets or other human waste facilities and low education or poverty. The World Bank Statistics suggest that regions with high rates of open defecation experiences tremendous problem in terms of sanitation and proper waste management.

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According to Wikipedia,

Open defecation is the human practice of defecating outside—in the open. In lieu of toilets, people use fields, bushes, forests, open bodies of water or other open space. The practice is common where sanitation infrastructure is not available. About 892 million people, or 12 percent of the global population, practice open defecation.

Reasons for Open Defecation

The reasons that have been given for people who don’t use toilets have either been poverty that makes it a challenge to build latrines or lack of government support in providing such facilities. In cases where the toilets are available but people still end up preferring opened defecation, the reasons can extend to cultural issues related with sharing toilets among family members.

An example is a case where it is forbidden for a man to share the same toilet with his daughter in law. In some other cases, people end up preferring open air defecation due to the freedom it gives them as opposed to using a small dark structure or the displeasure in using toilets that are filthy or not clean.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), India accounts for 59 per cent of the 1.1 billion people in the world who practice open defecation leading to some serious negative effects on both their own health and the environment. Let’s look at the how open defecation affects human health and the environment

Effects on Human Health

1. Water borne diseases

Diarrhoea and other problems associated with the ingesting and exposure to human waste affect children under the age of 5 years the most since they are very susceptible to diseases. This exposure is because most of open defecation happens next to water ways and rivers. In urban areas, this can include the drainage systems that are usually meant to traffic rain water away from urban areas into natural water ways.

Such areas are often preferred because open defecators have a belief that the water washes away their waste. What they seem to forget is that most of such areas are not properly empowered to treat the water to remove human waste and the microbes that move with it. Such a practice is contrary to proper sewage channels that treats waste black water and channel it into water systems free of any disease causing germs afterwards.

Therefore, the result of open defecation near water ways is that it is carried into the water system minus treatment. As a consequence, the contaminated water ends up in the main water source. When people in these regions use the water as it for drinking and cooking (since the water is not boiled most of the time because of poverty and lack of education) it results in water borne diseases such as cholera, typhoid, and trachoma.

2. Vector borne diseases

Apart from water borne diseases, when the human waste collects into heaps, it attracts flies and other insects. These flies then travel around the surrounding areas, carrying defecate matter and disease causing microbes, where they then land on food and drink that people go ahead and ingest unknowingly. In such cases, the flies act as direct transmitters of diseases such as cholera.

3. Compounding the problem of disease exposure

The saddest fact about disease transmission caused by open defecation is the cyclic nature of problems that then begin to manifest. The most common diseases caused by this unsanitary act are increased cases of diarrhoea, regular stomach upsets and poor overall health. With diarrhoea, for instance, it means that people cannot make their way to distant places due to the urgency of their calls of nature, so they pass waste close to where they have their bowel attacks.

It simply ends up creating more of the same problems that started the disease in the first place and in turn, leads to more people catching diseases and less people using the facilities. The result of this is more sick people and more opportunities for the disease to spread.

4. Malnutrition in children

Malnutrition in children is another health problem associated with open defecation. Once a child is a victim of one of the diseases passed on due to the lack of proper sanitation and hygiene, they begin to lose a lot of fluids and lack of appetite for food. As a result, it gives rise to many cases of malnutrition in children.

Also, the situation is worsened by intestinal worm attacks passed through the human refuse. Altogether, these problems lead to stunted growth and weakened immune system that makes the child more susceptible to other diseases such as pneumonia and tuberculosis.

Effects on the Environment

1. Contamination via microbes

The environment also suffers as a result of open defecation because it introduces toxins and bacteria into the ecosystem in amounts that it cannot handle or break down at a time. This leads to build up of filth. Also, the load of microbes can become so great that in the end, they end up in aquatic systems thereby causing harm to aquatic life.

At the same time, it can contribute to eutrophication or the formation of algal blooms that form disgusting scum on the surface of the water ways which disturb aquatic life underneath the water by preventing oxygen and light diffusion into the water.

2. Visual and olfactory pollution

Heaps of human or just the sight of it cause eyesore and nauseate anyone who is close. The stink emanating from the refuse is also highly unappealing and pollutes the surrounding air. Such places also attract large swarms that make the area completely unattractive for the eye.

For all those unfortunate to see the regions affected, it creates a sorry sight and reduces the dignity of all those living in the squalor of those regions. The smells augment the problem by disgusting those who live within the affected regions making life awful.

Solutions of Open Defecation

To solve this issue, it takes the action of individuals and even the intervention of the government to address the cultural, economic and social challenges in tandem.

1. Provision of toilets

First, there is a need to ensure that there are enough toilets. Since these regions are usually very poor, it will take the efforts of the government as well as the good will of local organisations such as CBOs and NGOs to help fix the problem. Construction of pit latrines and other toilet options such as compost toilets is necessary to help deal with the problem of lacking sewer systems. Governments should also try to establish incentives for people to build their own toilets by providing subsidies and putting up public toilets in strategic locations. 

2. Corrective civil education

Another platform that needs to be addressed is the negative cultural association that people have with toilets. The people should be informed and given civic education to enable them break away from their cultural beliefs on issues such as the fact that toilets are not supposed to be shared.

In other words, cultural norms and beliefs must be changed over time through education and awareness creation. With time, people can become informed and drop the beliefs or at least adjust and make concessions about the ones that are most destructive.

3. Incentivise public hygiene participation

By creating government programs that encourage sanitation and personal hygiene, individuals must be involved and forced to take up the responsibility of enhancing their hygiene as well as overall health.

Through such programs, people can get to learn the importance of their environments and work towards ensuring that they do not harm themselves by partaking in open defecation. It eventually reduces healthcare burdens on the government and lessens the number of those who practice open defecation as it will be seen as a terrible activity.

Image credit: flickr

Rinkesh

Rinkesh is passionate about clean and green energy. He is running this site since 2009 and writes on various environmental and renewable energy related topics. He lives a green lifestyle and is often looking for ways to improve the environment around him.

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