Miami Green Homes


Oregon Passes Most Comprehensive Plastic Bag Ban in the Country – Surfrider Foundation

Following the passage of the Sustainable Shopping Initiative (House Bill 2509), a bill eliminating single use plastic carry out bags, Oregon has become the third state to pass a policy addressing this chronic source of plastic pollution via the legislature. Through a strong alliance of business, environmental and waste management professionals, the bill passed with the Oregon Senate today and is now headed to the Governor’s office. With the inclusion of restaurants, Oregon’s Sustainable Shopping Initiative is set to be the most comprehensive bag ban policy in the nation.
— Read on http://www.surfrider.org/coastal-blog/entry/oregon-passes-strongest-plastic-bag-ban-in-the-country

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DIY HVAC Maintenance: What’s Safe and What to Avoid! Guest post by Ray Flynn
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Photo courtesy of Pexels

Being a homeowner is a wonderful investment that brings many fulfilling rewards. Of course, it also brings many (often unexpected) costs. From plumbing to electrical issues, there are hundreds of home repairs that could break the bank. Unfortunately, HVAC repairs could be one of them. HVAC repair technicians charge up to $80 per hour, and the repairs themselves can cost hundreds of dollars. Some Miami homeowners spend thousands, depending upon the types of repairs.

Of course, it’s inevitable that every HVAC will eventually be in need of repairs. Adding further complication, some HVAC-related costs can be tax deductible while others are not. So, what is a homeowner to do? One option that many homeowners are considering more frequently is just doing it themselves. It’s no secret that do-it-yourself (DIY) home repair projects are gaining popularity, especially among women.

Before You Begin

Before embarking upon a DIY HVAC maintenance project, however, there are a few things you should know. First, actual HVAC repairs should still be left to the professionals. Otherwise, you might damage your HVAC even further and end up having to pay a professional for costly repairs anyway — or worse, an entirely new HVAC system.

Instead, the best HVAC projects to attempt on your own are fairly simple maintenance projects. When it comes to maintaining your HVAC system, there are certainly a few things you can do on your own without needing to call a professional.

Change Your Filter

Proper maintenance of your HVAC system requires that you periodically change (between 30 and 90 days) the air filter. The air filters prevent airborne particles from getting into the HVAC machinery, where they could potentially cause damage. Failure to change HVAC filters could lead to permanent damage and expensive repairs.

Here’s one bit of advice: Although changing your HVAC air filter every so often is fairly simple, choosing the right size filter when making a replacement is essential. That cannot be stressed enough. Turn off the unit before replacing the filter, and always follow the instructions for your particular HVAC unit. If you run into any difficulties, call a professional to help you.

Clean Your Unit

Another thing you might have to occasionally do is clean your HVAC system. From time to time, dirt, debris, leaves, and other natural contaminants can get inside the machinery. If these items aren’t removed in a timely manner, they can clog things up.

Additionally, while you are inspecting your HVAC system for dirt and debris or changing the air filter, you might want to give it a good cleaning. This involves checking for any holes, leaks, or blockages, inspecting the fans for wear, and wiping down and cleaning the outside of the unit.

A few more simple maintenance tips and DIY repairs to consider might include changing the blower filter at least twice a year (or more, if you live in a dusty climate), adding a programmable thermostat to help make your home more energy efficient, and cutting back any vines or other vegetation that might be growing near your HVAC system.

It’s important to care for your HVAC system. By taking proper care of it, changing the filters, and performing regular maintenance as needed, you can keep your HVAC system running reliably for years to come. Best of all, these are DIY tasks that you can do yourself, which saves you some money by not having to call a professional. But if you’re new to home improvement and/or if any repairs are actually needed, those jobs are best left to the professionals. It’s never worth harming your HVAC system just for the sake of saving a few hundred dollars.



Breathe easy, green clean building by Air Quality
September 23, 2009, 1:41 am
Filed under: Air Quality | Tags: ,

The next installation in the proper green home living is your indoor air quality. There are many things that contribute to poor quality that can lead to serious health issues, both instantly and over time.

I call this category the “non visible” budget item because you will generally not see immediate changes when altering some of things on my list. What you will see down the read are reduced doctor’s bills, healthier children and happier people (and pets) in your space. Technically, this is probably the category that will have the largest effect on your budget, it is just really spread out.

So, to green up your home, let’s start with some simple things that have very little impact: pay attention to your shopping. There are many choices available these days, but not all are good. I will leave the food related items for another post.

Cleaning products. Most products out there are filled with chemicals that not only harm you furniture, floor and clothing in the long run, but they also contribute to ongoing off gassing. Small particles will settle in your system when cleaning and long after while  breathing in that “clean home” smell.. Other chemicals are absorbed through your skin. Try to leave the commercial brands aside and consider vinegar for glass type surfaces wiped up with newspaper. When using the later, you can use very little vinegar to get a sparkling mirror, glass table or stove.

Use Sal’s suds or other simple pure soaps for most other cleaning around the house. You will be amazed how long a one gallon container will last you… serious savings in your grocery bill here. I have not found them in a store in a while, so order them online: http://www.drbronner.com/DBMS/SAL.htm

There are many more simple ways to use non-toxic cleaners. I will pick this up again at a later post, but simply research some green cleaning tips if you need more right now. You can also push the limit by making most of this on your own, particularly soaps. One of my favorite books is “Better Basics for your Home”. http://www.anniebbond.com/

Next is the use of actual chemicals, mostly used for pest control. In south Florida this is a hard one to beat, but ask your technician for non or less toxic options. The market has advanced quite a bit. There should be no charge to make your green, clean and easy to breathe with this path. Do your part by planting at least 12 inches away from your exterior wall, limit and wood installations that can serve as a bridge to your building (a 12” gap is good here, too), remove all food leftovers from easy access and weatherize your doors and windows. There are also simple screens available to control some of our flying pests.

Use peppermint to deter ants, it will also help to naturally scent your home. Lavender is a roach deterrent. Line the openings with powdered boric acid. This is harmless to pets and humans alike but will kill all small insect that cross it by suffocating them.

 Last important air quality tip, and there is really no excuse for this one, is to change or clean your AC filter at least once a month. Newer units have little reminders linked to their thermostat, if not, mark the filter so you can remember the date and make it a game, who will remember the closest to a 30 day period to change the filter. Use the better filters; you want to look for the MERV rating. Home Depot and the like will sell a MERV 8, this is standard. If you find a hypo allergen model, this will likely have a MERV 11. MERV 13 is available and can easily be ordered online. I generally find my best deals for boxes of 12 on eBay…

For more tips, keep checking back or contact me to get a custom analysis of what you can do to green your home.

 

Sebastian Eilert. www.SebastianEilert.com

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Paint. non VOC… why do we still have toxic paint?

Something so simple and still so important. There is no excuse anymore not use VOC free paint. All manufacturers and places have it and the quality is as good as the previous blends or even better.

Sherwin Williams “Harmony”, Benjamin Moore “Aura” or “Freshaire” at the Home Depot. Pick your (non-)poison and breathe in clean air… so why is there still toxic paint on the market? I do not have the answer, but as conscious consumers, we can eliminate them all together.

Paying attention to paint is important not just for the applicator, but also during the first few weeks of occupation, when toxins continue to float in the air. Try to apply a non-VOC paint and notice the difference. The usual odors are missing and what may be in your mind as the” fresh paint” smell, is significantly diminished (you still got a new paintjob, believe it).

I have used paints 1 and 2 noted above in my office and applied them myself. The difference in air quality is noticeable and was noted by most of my initial visitors. The quality of the paint, as is the color selection, is excellent.

My favorite example is that of expecting parents preparing the room for the new arrival. New paint is a staple and will set the tone for the rest of the décor. When painting with toxic paint, you are adding to the overall bad air quality, likely will not air out the room enough for toxins to off gas long enough (we are in South Florida, open windows mean wastes AC dollars…) and voila, your key contributor for the gas chamber for the newborn is set. New furniture with Urea Formaldehyde content (such as most of the shiny new furniture that is affordable) will contribute to the overall un-healthy room.

 Instead use the good paint, pay attention to the furniture (do not be afraid to ask for the Material Safety Data Sheets!) or rescue that solid wood crib from your grandma and create a fresh welcoming room.

I use the newborn scenario only as an example, all of the above holds true for any room that you work on.

 

Ready to renovate your new arrivals space? Contact SEA for design ideas.

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