5G in the Time of Coronavirus – Can We Stand it?

The international community, including scientists and various organizations, expressed their concern about the harmful effect of 5G on human health and the environment. A global outbreak of coronavirus has surpassed all other existential threats, including climate change and many others.

In addition to 4G networks that operate at low-frequencies below 6 GHz, 5G works at both low and high frequencies from 30 to 300 GHz. Extremely high frequencies are generated by the so-called millimeter waves (MMW) from 24 to 52 GHz. The pilot projects on the deployment of 5G began in 2019. It is estimated that 5G will generate $1.2 trillion by 2026.

Millions of new 5G base stations will be installed on Earth and 20,000 new satellites in space. The development of the Internet of Things on a global scale will require 200 billion transmitting objects by 2020 and one trillion objects several years later. This means that EMR from 5G will be tens to hundreds of times greater than total EMR from current 2G-4G networks.

Scientists against 5G

It has been a while since the International petition (2015) referring to over 10,000 scientific studies on the impact of EMFs on human health have been submitted to the United Nations and the World Health Organization and the world’s governments.

In the International Appeal “Stop 5G on Earth and Space” (2018), scientists from around the world express their concern about the negative health effects of EMFs.

In the 5G Appeal, they “urgently call for a halt to the deployment of the 5G (fifth generation) wireless network, including 5G from space satellites. 5G will massively increase exposure to radiofrequency (RF) radiation on top of the 2G, 3G and 4G networks for telecommunications already in place. RF radiation has been proven harmful to humans and the environment. The deployment of 5G constitutes an experiment on humanity and the environment that is defined as a crime under international law.”

5G tower
Vodafone 5G site in Hattstedt, Germany. Photo by Fabian Horst/Wikimedia

The Effects of 5G on the Environment 

Leading studies conducted around the world have argued that EMF radiation may be related to cancer. In 2011, the WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified radiofrequency radiation as “possibly carcinogenic to humans”.

Not only humans but all living beings that exist on this planet will be affected by the harmful effect of MMWs.

Numerous studies have shown that RF radiation kills insects, changing their metabolism and causing mass migration. The EMR affects birds causing their migration and exodus.

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EMR had an adverse effect on the growth rate of trees after the 4G stations’ installation causing their damage and decline. Plants revealed abnormalities in development and shorter lifespan due to EMR.

EMR (the microwave and radiofrequency range) effect on wildlife and animals was an adverse health effect and decline of the population. Indeed, EMF treatment of mice affected prenatal development and led to a progressive decrease in the number of newborns.

The Effect of MMW Frequencies 

The biological effect of MMWs has been studied for decades and showed their potential dangerous effect. Low-intensity MMWs affect crucial processes such as cell cycle and proliferation and alter structural and functional properties of membranes.

Cellular water as the main acceptor of MMW radiation dissociates that leads to reactive oxygen radicals production.  The reactive oxygen radicals can damage DNA, cellular membranes and other cell compartments (Ramundo-Orlando, 2010).

What will be the effect of 5G when it is fully deployed on all living organisms? Is this not a dangerous experiment on humanity and all living organisms on Earth?

The bottom line with regard to the dangers of 5G radiation is that it is necessary to conduct additional studies of the health risks of 5G exposure.

5G installation during a coronavirus pandemic

Demonstrations and numerous petitions with a large number of signatures against 5G took place around the world. In response to major public concerns about 5G potential impacts on human health and the environment, several countries have enacted laws to limit exposure to radio waves.

In April 2019 Brussels decided to halt a pilot deployment of 4G LTE and 5G due to the city’s streakiest radiation regulations. France has introduced a law prohibiting nurseries from installing Wi-Fi to limit the effects of harmful EMF radiation on young children. Several cities in the USA banned the 5G antennas in residential areas.

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However, the deployment of 5G has been already in the plan as a digital future of the Western world for its economic competitiveness, and its geopolitical positioning. This has been preceded by an aggressive campaign against China’s Huawei by the US administration and accelerated due to the rapid development of 5G technology in China.

The epidemic’s outbreak of a new coronavirus in early 2019 with the epicenter in Wuhan has changed the world. The new coronavirus COVID-19 has been announced by the World Health Organization as a pandemic. To fight the pandemic, many governments closed their borders and quarantined cities and entire countries.

In the pick of the pandemic, on March 23 the US government signed into law “The Secure 5G and Beyond Act of 2020” that “require the President to develop a strategy to ensure the security of next-generation mobile telecommunications systems and infrastructure in the United States and to assist allies and strategic partners in maximizing the security of next-generation mobile telecommunications systems, infrastructure, and software, and for other purposes.”

Earlier this year, the EU issued a new guidance “5G Toolbox” as “an important component in strengthening its technological sovereignty and its array of defense mechanisms vis-à-vis China.”

Despite pressure from Washington, the EU limited to 35 percent and restricted from “core parts” Chinese telecommunications Huawei and ZTE as “high-risk 5G vendors” to ensure network security. Currently, Chinese providers play a dominant role in existing 3G/4G European infrastructure.

COVID-19 pandemic
Image by Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Can 5G Roll-out Affect COVID-19 pandemic?

According to the World Health Organization, the flu kills 290,000 to 650,000 people per year. As to CDC estimates, as of mid-March, between 29,000 and 59,000 have died due to influenza illnesses. As of March 26, nearly 24,000 have died from COVD19 worldwide according to Johns Hopkins University‘s real-time tracker. They warn that coronavirus infection can become cyclical like the flu.

Knowing the harmful effects of 5G on human health, it can be assumed that 5G may exacerbate the negative effects of COVID-19. Now we must witness the unprecedented experiment on 5G and viral effects on the human body.

What do you think of these late events? How can we protect ourselves from both 5G and infectious diseases? How will these threats affect our lives? Please leave your comment below.

Off-Grid Living Ideas

Have you considered off-grid living, paying less, and doing what you really are for? What is stopping you from fulfilling your dream? Yes, we all know that. You must pay a monthly loan or rent for your home and electricity and utility bills.

It is in your hands to get the desired financial freedom if you choose alternative ways to live without electricity. You are not alone on this journey. There are many success stories about people gaining financial freedom and living off-grid. You might think that this sounds like a 19th-century lifestyle without electricity and many modern amenities, right? But this is no longer the case.

Modern technological innovations can make life without electricity much easier and more comfortable than before. More and more people voluntarily disconnect themselves from the power grid and adopt the off-grid lifestyle. This lifestyle also called a minimalistic or “green,” is a conscious choice for people who want to cut energy costs and protect the environment.

Living without Modern Conveniences

Most of your electricity bills come from the use of household appliances such as air heating and cooling systems, water heating, washing and drying, cooling and light bulbs.

Living without dependence from any modern conveniences, such as TV and the Internet, even for a short time, teaches self-sufficiency and to appreciate what you have. It may not be as convenient as if you had electricity, but you will find new comforts in spending more time with your family, reading books and walking in nature.

The off-grid lifestyle can help you relax and focus on mindful and healthy living. You will have more time for things you didn’t have time before like meditation, yoga, reading, and writing, looking in the sky and watching the stars. This may prompt you to completely leave the grid.

There are several success ideas for off-grid living that will make you financially and mentally happier.

Off-grid living
Photo credit: Pexels

Embrace Minimalism Lifestyle

More and more people voluntarily disconnect themselves from the power grid and adopt the off-grid lifestyle. This lifestyle also called a minimalistic or “green,” is a conscious choice for people who want to cut energy costs and protect the environment.

You will also save you money because you do not need to buy many things. Instead, a minimalistic lifestyle will allow you to travel the world and be happier and richer with tangible experiences. Finally, it will completely change you and your lifestyle to the one you dreamed about.

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Living in a Tiny House

You can build your own tiny house on wheels or home from shipping containers if you want to lead a simple and stress-free lifestyle. Tiny houses are becoming more popular all over the world as more people want to escape the stress and anxiety of the urban lifestyle and reduce their impact on the environment.

The owners of tiny houses will tell you that they have gained financial freedom and paid off all credits and loans. With solar panels on the roof, they do not pay much for electricity bills and utilities.

Energy-Efficient Homes

Energy-efficient homes use the placement of windows to take advantage of natural lighting for most of the day. Natural lighting from windows and skylights, as well as natural ventilation and cooling, are ways for more sustainable living.

Even if you are used to electric lighting, there are many ways to light your home without using commercial electricity by charging from solar energy.

If you already have solar panels, you will definitely benefit from their use. An energy-efficient home can reduce your dependence on electricity for heating, cooling (air conditioning), ventilation, and lighting.

A solar refrigerator, air conditioning, fans, water heater, and other home devices provide exceptionally low energy consumption and can reduce by 50–80 percent of your electricity consumption.

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Solar panel roofs
The Olympic site. Munich, Bavaria. Credit: Pxfuel

Zero Energy Homes

Zero Energy homes, also called Net Zero energy homes, produce as much clean renewable energy as they consume from sources on-site or nearby. Because they have a very high energy performance with a very low or nearly zero energy requirement, they are also called nearly zero energy buildings.

A zero energy home is not just a home with solar panels. A zero energy home design combines cutting-edge design for a better living experience and systems with energy efficiency to provide an ultra-comfortable and healthy environments. These include tight insulation for a quieter home, consistent temperatures throughout, and clean indoor air to reduce dust and allergens, such as dust, pollen, and outdoor air pollution.

It’s also equipped with energy-efficient appliances that can lower energy bills or even get an Energy Tax Credit or other financial incentives. All features of a zero energy home significantly minimize your household’s environmental impact.

Zero energy homes have certification from the Department of Energy’s Zero Energy Ready Certification, the Living Building Challenge Zero Energy Certification, Passive House Certification or other third-party organizations.

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Passive house
Prescott Passive House in Kansas City, Kansas. Credit: Wikimedia

Passive House

Passive Houses are built based on principles developed by the Passivhaus Institute in Germany. The Passive House standards are very close to those of the zero-energy house as both have high standards of energy efficiency.

The principal difference between them is that a Passive House is focused on energy reduction and uses renewable energy to fill the energy gap, while a zero energy house produces as much its own energy as it’s consumed.

The passive house is very well insulated so that most of the heat can be provided by the sun, its inhabitants and the ventilation system. Thus, it can be even more energy-efficient than a zero-energy house, as it consumes less energy in general.

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In Conclusion

If your goal is to lead an off-grid lifestyle, you will definitely get more financial freedom and you will have more time for family and your favorite activities. Whatever your goals, you will benefit from them.

If you want to learn more survival skills that can be useful in an emergency or for camping go here. Please share your thoughts below.

Living Without Electricity – Survival Skills

Have you ever lived without electricity for several hours or days? Were you ready for this lifestyle? Most people cannot imagine life without electricity, because it will disturb their comfortable life. Many basic needs, such as cooking, lighting, and the use of electrical appliances, depend on electricity.

Now imagine you have no electricity for a period of time. This can also happen due to natural disasters in your area, such as thunderstorms, tornadoes, hurricanes, winter snowstorms. This outage can last days or even months.

Historically, humans have survived without electricity for millions of years. Today, nearly 2 billion people live without electricity in underdeveloped countries. Others, like the Amish communities, generally use off-grid methods, such as gas or diesel engines, to power appliances and utilities.

Here are some practical tips or survival skills to help you get ready when you go camping and in the event of an unexpected power outage.

Living without electricity
Photo by Nicolette Attree from Pexels

Camping with Solar

There are plenty of options using a solar grid (solar panels and batteries) for camping. You can use light-weight or portable panels from 5 watts to 100 watts that can charge your batteries, cell phone, laptop, and camera.

You can use a generator and install bigger solar panels. Now you can charge more devices like a micro-refrigerator.

If you decide to stop using commercial electricity in your home, you can find alternative ways to live off-grid. Surprisingly, many of the alternative methods are cheaper than using electricity and help you get rid of worries about paying bills and gain financial freedom. This may even prompt you to start the transition to completely leave the grid.

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Lighting without Electricity

Solar lighting is the best and the safest option of lighting for indoor or outdoor use. The hybrid fuel lamp is ideal for camping, as well as in cases of emergency for outdoor use. It runs on unleaded gasoline and requires a ventilated area. This outdoor lamp is less expensive and more reliable even in the coldest conditions.

In fact, you can still use bulbs such as LED bulbs. Many of these light bulbs produce 60 to 100 watts of light with power consumption under 7 watts. There are also many battery-powered LED lights that provide enough light for a small room. Just use a solar-powered charger, and these LEDs and batteries will last you for many years.

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If solar energy is not available, use candles as a light source in the dark. Another option is an oil lamp. The Amish still use oil lamps. A kerosene oil lamp is a widely available fuel with clean-burning, which makes it a good option. It burns brighter and steadier than candles.

These methods will give you a lot of light and alternative ways at the time when the power system goes down, including oil lamps and kerosene oil lamps.

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Solar cooker
Credit: Wikimedia

Cooking without Electricity

There are hundreds of other ways to cook without electricity, which you can easily adapt to outdoor when camping or doing other activities. Be prepared to cook on an outdoor cooking stove like Eco-Zoom using wood, charcoal, or solid biomass fuels when the power turns off.

Instead of an electric oven, you can use a solar oven for cooking. The solar stove is much safer but is rather for slow cooking for the whole day. However, some solar ovens allow you to cook your favorite dishes as fast as a conventional oven. DIY solar ovens or solar cookers are used worldwide to deliver hot meals that are safe to eat.

Campfire is great for camping and outdoor cooking. If you like grilling and you have firewood and charcoal, you can barbecue or boil water. For some grills, you can use wood, charcoal or propane.

Refrigerating without Electricity

Natural cooling options include cold running water, root cellars, ice-cooling, and others. Propane-powered refrigerators are commonly used by Amish communities.

Solar options are a home cooler/freezer with the solar operation and solar refrigerator. This cooler/freezer can be used in a car, truck, or boat. It can use multiple power supplies when used outdoors.

A solar refrigerator provides exceptionally low energy consumption, requires less expensive power systems and provides lower operating costs. It can be powered by a solar panel, battery, and 15 amp charge controller.

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Heating without Electricity

Heating is life important, therefore, emergency heating sources must be planned in advance. There are several types of heaters that use gas (butane, propane), kerosene and denatured alcohol. If you have a wood stove that can be used as a heater, then you are set up.

Another option is to make a DIY heater like a clay pot heater or a candle lantern heater for a small space. All types of heaters can also be used for cooking, baking and heating food.

Here are a few appliances that use off-grid heating sources:

Heat Pal is an unpressurized alcohol stove and heater that uses denatured alcohol, which is slightly more expensive than propane, but it will burn well regardless of the weather. This will not only help you warm food but also provide additional comfort as a heater.

Mr. Heater is safe for indoor use and the reliable radiant heater has been approved for indoor and outdoor use and is environmentally friendly, almost 100 percent efficient. This propane heater is an ideal solution for heating enclosed spaces such as large tents.

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Washing without Electricity

Without electricity, you will find that you have to do a lot of tasks manually like washing clothes by hand. Hand washing without electricity is a long-forgotten option.

The Amish still do laundry using a diesel generator. They also dry their wet clothes by hanging them and iron them with a traditional iron and stove.

Living without electricity
Photo by Brett Sayles from Pexels

Cooling without Electricity

A small solar fan will let you stay cool without electricity. You can make a DYI solar fan by connecting fan blades to a portable solar panel.

Another option is a swamp cooler, which can support the cooling of small enclosed spaces using ice and water, but is not suitable for long-term off-grid living.

Communicating without Electricity                               

When disconnected from the grid in emergency situations, communication can be life-saving. One of the surviving skills is to know off-grid communication methods in emergency situations or in an area not covered by cellular services.

Here are some options for communicating without electricity:

(1) Plug into your car’s cigarette lighter outlet or solar chargers. If none of the above is available, charge your cell phones and radio with a wood charging station.

(2) The HAM radios are the best to provide communication; other options are the CB radio, GMRS/FRS/MURS radios, however,  they have a limitation on power and range.

(3) Satellite cell phones are quite good for emergencies, but are expensive and require satellites to function. If satellites stop working during a power outage, the same goes for satellite phones.

Taken together,  if your goal is to live off the grid or just spend weekends on camping trips, then self-sufficiency and the ability to live without electricity are survival skills to learn.

Would you like to learn survival skills that can be useful in an emergency or for camping? Please share your thoughts below.

Updated 03/19/2020

How to Protect Yourself and Your Home from 5G?

Every day we are exposed to non-ionizing electromagnetic radiation (EMR) at home and at work from the devices around us, including our phones, computers, microwaves, TVs, and others. 5G is classified as an electromagnetic field (EMF), so we must do everything possible to reduce our exposure to potentially harmful 5G radiation.

First of all, you need to know what 5G is and how to protect yourself and your home from 5G. 5G information available on the Internet is often misleading and not accurate. It is difficult to draw any reliable conclusion based on all these resources, such as the media and well-known magazines, as well as numerous scientific articles on the influence of EMR.

5G Health Risks

5G health risk information is clearly very polarized, as are issues such as climate change and other politicized issues. Several online sources have published information on manipulations in the wireless technology industry of government policymakers and the news media to create doubts about scientific credibility.

A few journals have analyzed the difference in the results of independently funded and industry-funded research, which discredits true scientific research. Most independent studies show the biological effects of cell phone radiation, while industry-funded studies are two and a half times less likely to show any effect of cell radiation.

The World Health Organization (WHO) International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified EMFs from mobile phones as “possibly carcinogenic to humans” (Group 2B) in 2011. The US National Toxicology Program in 2018 found clear evidence of the association between cell phone radiation (2G and 3G frequencies) and the heart, brain adrenal gland tumors in rodents.

Mobile phones emit EMR that can be absorbed by tissues located next to the phone. The amount of radiofrequency energy absorbed by the tissue depends on many factors, such as the distance between the telephone and the user, the extent and duration of exposure and the type of use of the mobile phone, as well as the distance from the cell towers.

What are Radiofrequency Exposure Limits?

The United States, Western Europe, and many other countries follow the restrictions of IEEE C95.1-19991 or the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP). The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) guidelines for radiofrequency emission (RF) are based on protection against acute damage from thermal effects of RF exposure and may not protect against any non-thermal effects of chronic exposure.

The US FCC has announced that it will reaffirm the limits of exposure to RF radiation adopted by the commission in the late 1990s. These restrictions were adopted by the FCC based on studies from the 1980s that showed behavioral changes in rats exposed to microwave radiation. However, after more than six years of public discussion, the chairman of the Commission decided to retain the existing limits of RF exposure.

The ICNIRP guidelines for the general public and occupational exposure are supported by the WHO.

The United States has the highest RF exposure limits for portable devices compared to the rest of the world. In other countries including mostly Western Europe and Russia, China, Switzerland, and several other countries the RF limits are a hundred times lower.

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WHO Recommendations 

The WHO advises the public to adopt precautionary measures to reduce exposure. Other national radiation authorities have recommended measures to minimize exposure.

These are simple basic measures for protection from EMR:

  • Use hands-free to decrease the radiation to the head
how to protect from cell phone radiation
Photo credit: Pexels/Fauxels

Use a hands-free device places more distance between the phone and the head that is definitely beneficial as opposed to putting it close to the head. So keep it away from your head using earphones. Professor Lawrie Challis and others confirmed that clipping a ferrite onto hands-free kits stops the radio waves traveling up the wire and into the head.

  • Keep the mobile phone away from the body

This is absolutely a must. Unfortunately, many teens do not follow this rule of thumb and keep their mobile in a pocket.

  • Do not use your phone in a car without an external antenna

Some countries recommend moderate use of mobile phones for children because they can get a specific absorption rate (SAR) levels about 153 percent higher than adults. In addition, with a decrease in the permittivity of the brain as it grows older and an increase in the relative volume of the open growing brain in children, radiation penetrates far beyond the midbrain.

5G tower
Photo credit: Wikimedia

How to Protect Your Home from 5G?

Although there is no way to truly and completely shield yourself, there are a few tips that can certainly protect you best from the dangers of 5G radiation:

Keep your distance as much as possible

Increase the distance between you and all electronic devices. This measure will not completely eliminate the effects of 5G exposure, but it will help to reduce the risks associated with prolonged exposure to harmful radiation

Measure levels whenever possible

Use the device to identify areas of strong electromagnetic radiation. There is currently no EMF meter that detects 5G because so far there have been no requirements. These devices will not emit one specific type of radiation, but will only detect sources with a high level of radiation.

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Buy EMF shield

To minimize the effects of 5G radiation emitted by your phone, check for EMC products such as special cases or diodes that can be attached directly to your mobile device. Although they do not completely eliminate the risk of 5G radiation, they claim to reduce their exposure by up to 90%.

Protect your home as much as possible

The most important things to consider when protecting your home from 5G radiation are moderation and self-education.

The simplest ways to limit your exposure to harmful EMF radiation are:

  • Unplug Wi-Fi enabled devices when not in use. This is the easiest way, and it will become even more important when 5G becomes popular.
  • Keep your bedroom away from phones and other devices operating on 5G networks and frequencies. This will not only help improve your sleep but also reduce your exposure in the room, which you will inevitably spend most of your night.
  • Ultimately, we must educate ourselves as much as possible and take proactive measures to limit our exposure to radiation, where possible.

Thus, if we educate ourselves and research how to protect ourselves from 5G, we will be able to maintain a healthy and safe life for us and our family. Are you ready for 5G? Have you decided how to protect yourself and your home from 5G? Please share your thoughts and leave your comment below.

5 Simple Steps to Create DIY Green Roofs

If you like landscaping and take care of the environment, then it is a great idea to create more greenery on the site, turning a regular roof into the green one. This is especially true for urban dwellings, where space for gardens is limited. Your home will stand out from other homes and will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and its environmental impacts. We will discuss the impact of a green roof on the energy efficiency of a house below.

What is a Green Roof?

The green roof also referred to as a living roof, is a conventional roof that has been enhanced with a waterproof membrane, a drainage system, and a growing medium that is then covered in vegetation.

The difference between green roofs and other rooftop gardens is that they are usually not planned as accessible to the public. Green roofs are suitable for many applications, including distribution centers, business and office buildings, public buildings and even private roofs. Green roofs also differ in that they add from 17 (dry) to 30 (wet) pounds per square foot to a roof load on the roof, while roof gardens can add up to 100 pounds per square foot or more.

In addition to the main function of the roof, these moderately light loads reduce development costs, while providing huge environmental, aesthetic, and social benefits.

In urban areas, the standard roof includes a dark top, tar and shake. This captures a lot of heat that makes metropolitan areas more stuffy than their suburbs. This is called the urban heat island effect. I addition, getting heat requires a lot of energy and water. Using green roofs can quickly reduce this effect.

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Green Roof Benefits

Green roofs covered with plants and vegetation give many advantages to the building. Here are the main benefits of green roofs:

  • Insulate the home by keeping both the heat in and cold out: control the cooling temperature in summer and reduce heating bills in winter by 10 percent.
  • Absorb up to 80 percent of stormwater runoff.
  • Extend an average roof lifespan (from 15 to 50 years).
  • Reverse the effects of urban heat islands by absorbing heat.
  • Provide habitat for urban-dwelling animals and insects (bees).
  • Significantly improve urban design and recreation space.
  • Some cities offer grants or incentives for green roof construction.
  • Improve air quality by reducing harmful gases (sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide).
  • Create the best conditions to maintain solar panels for the best efficiency by keeping a suitable temperature.
  • Increase the value of real estate.

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The Main Types of Green Roofs

Now you understand the great benefits of the green roof of your home. Although it sounds expensive, you will get a return on your investment in the coming years. You need to decide how much time and resources you want to invest in your green roof. Depending on your decision, you can choose one of three main types of green roofs:

  • Extensive – low-cost maintenance requirements
  • Intensive – the higher cost of maintenance requirements
  • Semi-intensive – an average between the two above types
Extensive Green Roofs

Extensive green roofs are a prevalent choice for property owners, as they have a simple configuration and are not used as elevated gardens. They are reasonable for both existing and new roofing. They require a relatively thin amount of substrate (about 100 pounds for square foot) that supports a low layer of vegetation, about 80 – 100 mm in height, such as grass, moss, sedum or little blooms.

Extensive green roofs
Extensive green roofs

They have all the advantages of cooling and stormwater absorption that comes with a green roof but require very little maintenance. Sedum green roofs are the most well-known sort because of the solidness and low maintenance requirements for the plant. A simplified way to look at an extensive green roof is if you took your yard and placed it on your roof.

Intensive Green Roofs

Intensive green roofs are the type of green roof that makes your home stand out for the general public. These green roofs are ultimately an elevated park with shrubs, trees, gardens, sun based boards, enhancement spaces, etc. This requires a layer of developing medium/soil to support a lot of thicker vegetation.

Of course, the roofs have the advantages of cooling and stormwater absorption like the extensive green roof yet they also have the added benefits of creating livelihoods, and ultimately being a lovely place for recreation in an urban setting.

Intensive green roofs
Intensive green roof

This type of green roof has a significantly higher cost of maintenance. Someone needs to spend time and resources to think things through. In addition, it is more difficult for structural engineers because the weight of the substrate expected to support intensive green roofs is about 200 pounds per square foot.

These green roof constructions are more common in bigger commercial development, including parks and gardens where recreational use is designed. Intensive roofs require a much larger substrate, as well as the need to develop a water supply system. This requires significantly more consideration and support.

Semi-Intensive Green Roofs

Semi-intensive green roofs are another type of green roof, which is usually a combination of extensive and intensive green roofs. This type of green roof has the advantages of each type and is based on the principles of extensive roofs.

Semi-intensive green roof
Semi-intensive green roof

These types of roofs with a greater depth of substrate growth (100 – 200 mm) can support a more significant variety of plants, but not bushes and trees.

One of the most famous green roofs in the world is Chicago’s City Hall, which is a mixture of intense semi-intensive and extensive green roofs.

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Simple Steps to Your Own DIY Green Roof

You can install the green roof on an existing or a new home roof. If you start looking for step-by-step instructions for building a roof garden, you will find a lot of companies selling expensive things. So, having studied the Internet and found out the cost of installation, you may want to start building your own green roof. The extensive green roof is the simplest type to give it a go yourself.

You may want to check if your roof is strong enough to support the weight of a substrate and vegetation. Strengthen the roof, if necessary, with additional joists under the roof and steel frames.

A brief step-by-step direction for building the green roof:

(1) The very first step is to insulate your roof with a water- and root-proof membrane, such as a heavy-duty pond liner to seal all leaks in it.

(2) To retain moisture, roll out a moisture-proof coating that can resist fungi and bacteria.

(3) Cover it with the layer of small stones and large gravel or pebbles around the edge of the roof to provide drainage at the bottom.

(4) Finally, add a substrate layer of 7 to 20 cm thick depending on the type of vegetation. Use a mixture of a substrate of 70 percent inorganic material and 30 percent organic material for lush vegetation growth.

(5) Now you are ready for planting.

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Composition of Plants for Green Roofs 

Despite the fact that green roofs are usually planted with sedums and low grasses, the planting palette can be significantly extended to accommodate more than 100 types of plants.

The variety of plants incorporates local prairie and woodland grasses and forbs, solid decorative perennials and grasses, a few types of local and elaborate bushes, and some varieties of trees.

Your DIY green roof is ready. Over the years, you will enjoy all the benefits, including reduced energy bills and extra space for recreation. Would you invest in your own green roof? Please leave your comment below.

The Best Air Purification Technologies for Home

Air quality can not only affect how your house smells and feels but can also negatively affect your overall health. The good news is that indoor pollution is more manageable than outdoors. There are the best air pollution technologies available that can remove indoor pollution using various methods.

The best way to improve the air quality in your home is to remove unwanted particles in the air coming from different sources: your environment, pets, or old building materials.

Currently, there are quite advanced air purification technologies, including high-performance air purification filters, which we will discuss below.

HEPA Filters

HEPA (High Energy Particulate Air) filters are the most efficient filters available and remove 99.97 percent of dust and particles as small as 0.3 microns and larger. This type of air filter meets the U.S. Department of Energy standards.

HEPA filters comprised of a mat of randomly arranged fiberglass fibers with diameters between 0.5 and 2.0 micrometers. When air is passed through the mat, the microparticles stick to the fibers based on three mechanisms: interception, impaction, and diffusion.

Air purifier

In contrast to electrostatic air purifiers that do not require any filter replacement and remove only 30 percent of particles from the air, HEPA air filters require regular filter replacements. They can remove PM 2.5 and PM 10 particulate matter, pollen, mold, dust mites, some bacteria, tobacco smoke and pet hair and dander from the air. HEPA filters cannot remove odors and VOCs.

HEPA filters were originally developed in the 1940s for use in nuclear power plants to remove radioactive particles from the air. Today they are widely used in hospitals, in aircraft, industrial facilities, pharmaceutical plants, and many high technology industries that demand high air quality.

HEPA filtration is recommended for people with allergies and asthma. It can be used in homes and offices to keep the indoor air clean and free of germs.

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Activated Carbon Filters

Activated carbon air filters are effective in removing gases (VOCs), fumes, and cigarette smoke and bad odor missed out by HEPA filter. The filters contain a layer of activated carbon, which can trap or interact with gases, chemical fumes, cigarette smoke, and odors and prevent them from passing into the air.

Activated carbon filters remove impurities from the air by a process known as adsorption (not to be confused with absorption). Adsorption is a process by which VOCs stick to the outer surface of the activated carbon molecules.

They are excellent for household use and can eliminate harmful VOCs released into the indoor air by cleaning supplies, paints, glues, varnishes, deodorants, insect repellants, room fresheners and scented personal care products. They can also remove cigarette smoke and stubborn odors.

Activated carbon can be treated chemically to target and remove certain pollutants. When carbon is impregnated with potassium iodide or blended with active alumina to increase absorption and neutralize the airborne formaldehyde or hydrogen sulfide.

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Activated carbon filters are recommended for people who suffer from Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS) and have high sensitivity to any airborne chemicals such as cleaning chemicals, fumes from household building materials and other chemicals. An air purifier with an activated carbon filter can be used to remove irritants from the air, especially including asthma sufferers, babies, children, and the elderly.

Most air purifiers contain a complex of a true HEPA and activated carbon filters that combine all the benefits of these types of air purification technologies.

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Ionic Filters 

Air ionizers create negative ions that change the polarity of airborne particles, causing them to magnetically attract together. Particles become heavier and settle on the ground or on walls instead of staying airborne. Air ionizer removes particles as small as 0.01 microns as well as neutralize chemical fumes, cigarette smoke, viruses, and bacteria.

Negative ionization technology is widely used in air purification to remove contaminants. A negative ion generator or an air ionizer uses electrostatically charged plates to ionize or electrically charge air molecules. Most substances found in ambient air have a positive charge. This causes the positively charged particles and pollutants in the air to stick to negatively charged gas ions like N2¯ and O2¯.

The mechanism is similar to static electricity. As soon as the positive particles and the negative gas ions fuse together, they become too heavy to float in the air and fall down to the ground or stick to surfaces. This prevents them from entering our respiratory tract through inhalation and can be cleaned by cleaning activities like dusting, washing, and vacuuming.

Air ionizers remove only about 30% of particles and do not take in all the air in an enclosed room. Electronic air purifiers do not need filter replacement, they only require cleaning of the collection plates for optimal efficiency.

However, the negative effect of ion technology is that it produces small amounts of ozone which may cause health problems including irritation of the nose, throat, and esophagus, coughing and wheezing. Prolonged exposure to ozone may also cause lung disease.

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Air purifiers for home

Ultraviolet (UV) Light

Germicidal UV lamps can effectively kill germs, viruses, mold, and bacteria. However, the UV lamps cannot remove most allergens and dust, chemical fumes, gases, or cigarette smoke.

It is important to use UV technology in combination with HEPA air filters and possibly activated carbon. Without a particulate filter system like a HEPA air filter, too many microorganisms may be hidden from the UV light, since it is not easily located on an air filter.

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Ozone Generators

Ozone generators are air purifiers that intentionally produce ozone. Ozone is an excellent sterilizer. However, ozone is not effective at cleaning the air except at extremely high, unsafe ozone levels. Ozone generators are used in hospitals and commercial applications to remove airborne particles, chemicals, mold, bacteria, spores, viruses, and odors by professionals.

It is important to note that ozone generators are not recommended for home use. Even a small amount of ozone can cause health problems when inhaled inside closed unventilated rooms.

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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has declared ozone to be a toxic gas. Some people are sensitive to ozone itself that cause irritation of the eyes, nose, and trigger asthma and lower lung capacity at high concentration. Ozone generators can be used in facilities where human presence is not required.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides Ozone exposure levels that have been adopted by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).

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These are leading air purification technologies that are currently available and can be used safely at home, with the exception of ozone generators. Ozone generators are used only in hospitals and commercial facilities by trained professionals.

Thus, you can control the air quality in your home by choosing the right air purifier depending on your concern (allergens, chemicals, smell, pet dander, smoke). Leave your comment below if you have any questions and we will be happy to help you.

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Updated 03/19/2020

Build a Tiny House – Create Your Freedom

Have you ever dreamed of escaping from a noisy city to a quiet place where there is no pollution, noise, and stress? What if you could travel without leaving your house? This is entirely possible when you have your own tiny house on wheels.

Living in a tiny house can prompt you to start an off-grid lifestyle that has many benefits, such as lower electricity bills and saving money on other things that you like. Tiny houses can be stationary, but since they are built on a trailer, they can be easily moved anywhere. In addition, your tiny house is built in such a way that it can be easily disassembled and then reassembled.

The tiny house movement promotes a simple and economically safe and minimalistic living. Tiny houses are popular in many countries like the US, Canada, Great Britain, the Netherlands, Germany, Australia, Japan and more. They will become even more popular in the future, because people love to travel, want to escape stressful lives and lead a simple lifestyle. People become more aware of environmental problems and want to reduce their impact on the environment.

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Benefits of Tiny House Living

Living in a tiny house certainly has many advantages that will make your life stress-free and more connected with nature.

But what the owners of tiny houses are most happy about is getting their financial freedom. You can install solar panels on the roof and reduce your energy bills. You will also save you money because you do not need to buy a lot of stuff. Finally, it will completely change your lifestyle to the one you dreamed about.

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Here are just a few of the benefits, and these are definitely not all of them:

  • It’s quite affordable and you save a lot of money on utility bills.
  • You have less stress and anxiety due to a busy lifestyle and an unhealthy environment.
  • You can move it anywhere and travel around the country.
  • You can connect to nature and enjoy the tranquility of nature.
  • You can live a more spiritual and conscious life with less dependence on material things.

In addition to the above, you can engage in various activities such as tiny home communities and tiny home festivals. Joining tiny house expo and festivals is a great opportunity to connect with the kindred people and learn about affordable and sustainable housing.

The first tiny house expo took place on October 11-13, 2019, when about 6,000 people gathered to tour various tiny houses models as a living opportunity. The informational workshops held during the expo taught visitors how to reduce their environmental impact and lead a zero-waste lifestyle, solar options, and DIY building. The expo was organized by SmartShare Housing Solutions in partnership with Ecologistics and SLO Climate Coalition with sponsorship from the city and more than thirty other businesses and organizations.  For information on the Tiny Footprint Expo 2020, go to TinyFootprintExpo.com.

How to build a tiny house?

When you decide to embark on a tiny house journey, do your research first. Just search for “tiny house for sale” or “tiny house for sale near me” on the internet, and on YouTube. Many people share pictures of their tiny house living on Instagram. Some of them are quite inspirational like @tinyhomiez, @thatgrackle and many others.

There are many tiny houses for sale, so you can choose and buy one. However, if you want to build your own tiny house, you need to find tiny home builders. Or you can start building your tiny house yourself and save half the cost.

First, you need to choose the floor plan of a tiny house that you like. There are tiny house floor plans for free that you can look through. Then you need to find a tiny home trailer. There are many tiny home trailers, both new and used. You can also build your own dream tiny house trailer.

How to choose a tiny house trailer?

Let’s find out the basics of a tiny house. Look for a trailer frame depending on the size of the tiny house you want. You can have a trailer of any size, ranging from 12 feet to 56 feet in length and up to 10 feet in width, or even super-sized 12-feet models. The 18 and 24 feet are the most popular models of tiny house trailers.

The standard deck height is 28 inches above the slope with an 8-inch box frame and 24 inches with 4-inch drop axles. In addition to the trailer plan, you can choose the design of the roof, doors, and windows of your tiny home.

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Choosing Your Unique Tiny House Shell

You can choose from a large number of spacious floor plans and designs with a larger kitchen, living area or bathroom, depending on how you prefer to spend time or the number of inhabitants.

Each Tiny House Shell comes standard with 4 windows and one entrance door, the location of which you can choose for yourself. You can add more windows or even a second door, or replace it with a set of French doors or patio doors. For windows, you can install standard vinyl windows with tempered glass double-glazing, or you can switch to sashes, awnings or even accordion windows (also called folding doors). These features are especially precious for those who love to get in touch with nature.

Once you have made construction plans, you need to decide where you will live in your tiny house. Once you have figured out your living location, you can also plan small outside storage, a recreation space, and other things.

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In Conclusion

When you start living in your tiny house you will gradually adopt a minimalistic and a zero-waste lifestyle. By adding solar panels and using less water, you will save on bills, gain financial freedom and save the environment. Your quality of life will improve significantly and become more relaxed, free from stress and more conscious. Your day will be much more enjoyable, and you will find more time for meditation, yoga or just walking in nature.

Updated 03/19/2020

Indoor Air Pollution – How to Improve it?

Indoor air pollution is one of the five major environmental risks to public health. About 2 million people die each year from diseases associated with indoor air pollution, mainly from the use of solid fuels, chemical, and biological sources.

A number of studies have shown that air pollution is associated with an increased risk of various health problems, including respiratory as well as cardiovascular diseases and cancer. Indoor air pollution is a common problem for every home, regardless of location. Many homeowners do not know that the pollution in their homes can be worse than of outdoors two to five times.

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Common Sources of Indoor Air Pollution

Building an energy-efficient home helps achieve several important goals, such as energy conservation and reduce our energy bills and save money. Another equally important goal of greening our home is to create a healthy indoor environment for the health and comfort of our family.

Indoor air pollution and allergens can affect our health, causing eye inflammation and runny nose, headaches, and fatigue. The worst cases of indoor pollution are chronic diseases such as respiratory infections, allergies, asthma, and lung cancer.

Common indoor air pollutants include:

Dust is the most common indoor pollutant that can cause respiratory allergies.

Biological pollutants such as pollen, mold, bacteria, viruses, and dust mites that can cause diseases like hay fever or induce asthma in adults and children.

Chemical pollutants include household cleaners, paints, and solvents. These products contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that can cause mild syndromes, such as headaches, skin and throat irritation, when people are regularly exposed to them.

Volatile organic gases are emitted by building and remodeling materials, such as paint, lacquer, glue, and plywood. Toxic volatile organic compounds can be released by building materials for several years after installation.

Carpets and upholstery that use formaldehyde as a permanent adhesive. The World Health Organization classifies formaldehyde as a known human carcinogen.

Synthetic fragrances, perfumes, and deodorants. It has been found that some of the volatile and semi-volatile chemicals used are toxic and can cause skin irritation, an allergic reaction, cancer, birth defects, central nervous system disorders, and reproductive disorders.

Radon gas coming from a kitchen countertop, attic or basement. According to the US National Cancer Institute, radon is America’s second leading cause of lung cancer.

Combustion pollutants. These are gases or particles that are emitted by non-ventilated or poorly ventilated fuel-burning appliances, such as a fireplace, heater, wood or gas stove, water heater, and dryer. Some of the hazardous gases that can be produced include nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, as well as other chemical fumes.

Tobacco smoke contributes to poor indoor air quality and causes asthma in primary school children.

Pet dander. Animal hairs and dried skins can also be a source of respiratory irritation.

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Air purifier for home
Air purifier for home

 How to improve indoor air quality?

You can manage the air quality in your home with a few simple steps. Let’s look at the possible steps for improving the indoor air quality:

  1. Indoor air quality can be improved by removing the source of air pollution. The main solution is switching from solid fuel (coal and biomass) to cleaner and more energy-efficient energy sources.
  2. Cleaning, vacuuming carpets and dusting surfaces regularly from a source of air pollution and allergens can significantly reduce the amount of dust and allergens in the air.
  3. Use high-efficiency filters for air ventilation and change them regularly. Regular filter replacement can significantly improve indoor air quality and your family’s health, especially if someone in your family has serious allergies.
  4. Control of exposure to indoor allergens and air humidity using air monitors. Excessive moisture in the air can cause the growth of mold, mildew, and fungus, in places such as basements and bathrooms.
  5. Cleaning indoor air in your home using an energy-efficient air purifier. Using an air purifier can help reduce indoor air pollution in enclosed spaces.
  6. Use an energy-efficient vacuum cleaner with high-efficiency filters. It has been shown that this significantly reduces interior particulate pollution and, therefore, the symptoms of asthma and allergies.
  7. Replace furniture made of toxin-releasing materials when refurbishing your home. Buy quality furniture from eco-friendly materials that will last you a long time and your family healthy.
  8. Invest in heating, ventilation, and cooling (HVAC) systems and household appliances, including vacuum cleaner, air purifier, and high-quality air filters. The proper HVAC system of your home with also help you save on energy bills.
  9. The cheapest and simplest way to improve indoor air pollution is houseplants. Studies have identified the 12 most beneficial plants, especially in removing VOCs.

Potted green indoor plants
Green indoor plants. Photo by Huy Phan from Pexels

High-efficiency filters for air ventilation

Advanced technologies for air purification in your home are currently available, including high-performance filters for air purifiers.

HEPA air filters are the most efficient filters available and remove 99.97 percent of dust and particles as small as 0.3 microns. They can remove dust, dust mites, pet dander, pollens, mold, some bacteria, and other common indoor allergens.

Activated carbon air filters can remove gases, fumes, and cigarette smoke missed out by HEPA filter.

Air ionizers create negative ions that change the polarity of airborne particles, causing them to magnetically attract together. Particles become heavier and settle on the ground or on walls instead of staying airborne. Air ionizer removes particles as small as 0.01 microns as well as neutralize chemical fumes, cigarette smoke, viruses, and bacteria.

Germicidal ultraviolet (UV) lamps can effectively destroy germs, viruses, mold, and bacteria. However, the UV lamps cannot remove most allergens and dust, chemical fumes, gases, or cigarette smoke.

Ozone generators are highly effective against odors, including cigarette smoke odors as well as certain chemicals and bacteria. However, some people are sensitive to ozone itself that causes irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat at high concentration.

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Final Thoughts

Remember that indoor pollution is more manageable than outdoor air pollution. It is recommended that you invest in upgrading your existing home step by step. You can invest in alternative energy sources, such as solar panels, and energy-saving appliances that will lower your energy bills for years to come.

If you plan to build a new home, you may want to invest in environmentally friendly materials and additional insulation that can trap pollutants and chemicals released by building materials, paint and other toxic materials.

Let us know what you think on this subject. Are you considering investing in your home to improve your indoor environment? Please leave your comment below.

Updated 03/19/2020

The Best Tips for Energy-Efficient Appliances in 2020

The construction of energy-efficient homes implies the use of such energy-efficient homes features as the proper home framing, insulation, and quality windows. However, you can make your home truly energy-efficient only with energy-efficient appliances.

Most of your energy bill falls on household appliances such as air heating, and cooling systems, water heating, washing, and drying, refrigeration and light bulbs. Energy-efficient home improvements and appliances can lower your bills and even get you an Energy Tax Credit or other financial incentives. Depending on your country and region, you may have several incentive schemes.

Look for energy-efficient labels!

When buying household appliances, first of all, look for energy-efficient labels! What are Energy-Efficient Labels?

All major household appliances, with the exception of rangers and ovens, must meet the US Department of Energy (DOE) standards and have a black and yellow EnergyGuide Label. You can find these labels on refrigerators, freezers, dishwashers, washing machines, microwave ovens, water heaters, pool heaters, room air conditioners, central air conditioners and heat pumps, furnaces and boilers, and ballasts for fluorescent lamps.

Other appliances, such as televisions, clothes dryers, ranges, and ovens, as well as heaters, were excluded from the EnergyGuide program, although they must also meet federal minimum efficiency standards.

Energy Star® is designed to help customers to choose more energy-efficient products and protect the environment through high energy efficiency. The Energy Star® Program supported by the US EPA and DOE for the efficient use of energy in homes and businesses. Energy Star® certified home appliances exceed federal standards by 10 to 40 percent.

Energy Star® symbol, which is awarded only to products that meet stringent energy efficiency requirements. This applies to equipment, computers and printers, household goods and even new homes! So, knowing this rating system you will save energy and money.

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Go Solar!

There are many ways to save energy by applying the latest technology in alternative energies. These are solar energy systems, which can be either the addition of several solar panels to your roof or a complete solar home system.

Renewable Energy Tax Credits are available for alternative energy resources such as solar and small wind turbines. Federal incentives offer a 30 percent credit off the total cost of any qualified photovoltaic or water heating system.

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Solar roof panels

Energy-Efficient Doors and Windows

Poor door and window seals allow hot and cold air to pass through. This makes the Heating, Ventilation, and Cooling (HVAC) systems consume more energy, which means higher energy bills.

Energy Star® doors and windows comply with strict energy efficiency guidelines. They will provide you comfort and save energy and money for many years to come. Consider not only the initial price but also the guarantee, the cost of maintenance and the quality of the company that sells them.

Energy-Efficient Appliances

Appliances can add up to 15 to 20 percent of overall energy usage and operational costs to your home. Therefore, it is recommended to choose the right size and maintaining them properly.

When purchasing be sure all your household appliances are  Energy-efficient appliances that will help you save even more energy.

Heating and Cooling Systems

Energy-efficient HVAC systems save most of your home energy that means fewer energy bills. No matter where your home is located, you want to have a comfortable home temperature without increasing your electricity bills.

Try to install ceiling fans wherever possible, especially in rooms with high ceilings. Be sure to select only fans approved by Energy Star®, as they are approximately 20 percent more efficient than the average ceiling fan. Consider installing insulated window shades or blinds on the sunny side of your home. These strategies will help you to stay cool while cutting your air conditioning (AC) costs.

Water Heating System

Water heating at home is the second in energy consumption after residential heating and cooling. Energy Star® water heating can cut your energy bill in half.

Tankless Water Heater

Energy-efficient tankless water heaters are one of the best innovations of the last decade. The advantage of these heaters is that you do not need to constantly heat the water in the tank during periods when you are not using hot water. They only heat water when you need it, so you can save money and energy.

Consult an experienced plumber to assess the need for hot water in your home. Most Energy Star® qualified tankless models will qualify for a Federal tax credit.

Solar Water Heater

The advantage of a Solar Water Heating System is that it uses the free energy of the sun. These solar systems can work anywhere regardless of climate. An energy-efficient solar heating system can reduce the hot water energy consumption and an electricity bill in half.

With any solar system, you want to have an efficient backup system. The best way to supplement the solar water system is to install tankless water heaters, so you call them up as needed. Like all renewable energy products, a solar heating system qualifies for many tax incentives and discounts.

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Refrigerators

The new energy-efficient refrigerator is the best choice for investment, to save energy and money in the long run. When purchasing an energy-efficient refrigerator, consider the starting price, maintenance costs, and operating costs.

Stainless steel refrigerator
Stainless steel refrigerator. Photo by Alex Qian from Pexels
Thermostats

Keep the thermostat at a comfortable temperature, without overheating and overcooling, and turn off the heater and air conditioning when nobody is at home. In extreme climatic conditions, when it is impossible to completely turn them off, you can certainly adjust them so that they consume less energy.

If you are often away from home, consider a programmable thermostat. With a programmable thermostat, you can set the temperature of your home in advance. This way you will save energy and money while you’re not at home.

Clothes Washers and Driers

If you have an older washing machine, it probably consumes more hot water and energy, which means a higher energy bill for you. If you need a new washing machine, look for an energy-efficient washing machine that will save energy and money. In general, Front Loading Washers use less energy and less water than Top Loading Washers.

To reduce energy consumption, you can always find a clothes dryer with a good energy rating. These energy-saving appliances will save energy and money in your pocket.

Energy-Saving Dishwashers

Energy-efficient dishwashers are one of the most common appliances in the kitchen and expensive to maintain because it uses not just electricity but also ample amounts of water. Dry dishes without heat and you will save energy and water.

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Energy-Efficient Solar Lighting

It’s important to ensure that you use energy-efficient lighting such as LEDs, CFLs, and halogen bulbs as well as outdoor solar lighting. Energy-efficient lighting will benefit you with a lower energy bill and will save the environment.

Summing up, always purchase appliances with the Energy Star® label, in particular, a washing machine and dishwasher, as they typically consume 50 percent less water and electricity.

With these simple steps, you will not only save money on your electricity bills but also create a healthier home environment and reduce environmental pollution.

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Updated 03/19/2020

Waste-to-Energy – Green or Brown?

New advanced technologies can produce energy from municipal solid waste. Homes and households produce 60 percent of the waste, and people will always create garbage. Thus, the conversion of municipal waste into an energy source can become one of the largest energy sources of the future.

For every ton of household waste produced, commercial, industrial and construction businesses produce another six tonnes. Manufacturers can minimize and improve their waste management in order no longer to be able to discard their waste.

Along with the “Zero Waste” approach, other alternative methods for managing the household and commercial waste that reduce the amount of harmful waste, including industrial toxic by-products, are the so-called “Waste-to-Energy” technologies that generate energy from waste.

The municipal waste separation and recycling methods greatly reduce the amount of solid waste left over, which means much less space in landfills. However, a vast portion of mixed waste or residual waste is difficult to separate and recycle. Waste feedstock left after sorting is standardized into solid recovered fuel (SRF) or refuse-derived fuel (RDF).

There are various applications of Waste to Energy (WTE), which are based on gasification, pyrolysis, and incineration. The energy produced by gasification is considered renewable in some U.S. states.

What is Gasification? 

Gasification is a process of breaking down the organic matter into a gas by applying extreme temperatures in an environment with a limited amount of oxygen.

The gasification system breaks down the organic waste into a gaseous form bypassing the 4 processes such as drying, pyrolysis, combustion, and reduction.

Pyrolysis is the application of heat to the organic matter in the absence of any oxygen. The solid waste breaks down into charcoal and various tar gasses and liquids. It is essentially the process of charring.

A heat source is required for the pyrolysis process, but no heat source is needed for gasification because this process is self-sustaining thermally.

When both pyrolysis and gasification processes occur at the same time, the gasification combustion reactions can provide the heat source needed for the pyrolysis process to perform the reactions.

Synthetic Gas

Gasification and pyrolysis produce synthetic gas or Syngas as a major end product of the process. Syngas is similar to natural gas that contains a mixture of hydrogen, carbon dioxide, methane, carbon monoxide, and other hydrocarbons and inert ingredients.

The produced Syngas is cleaned from large tars and particulate goes through several steps of the filtration system. The cleanliness of the gas is important for the end-use. It can be used to power an internal combustion engine, feed a boiler or a burner and could be used to create steam.

This gas can be used to power an internal combustion engine in order to create electricity. This makes both pyrolysis and gasification methods profitable, because of the various end products from Syngas including heat and power generation.

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Gasification vs Incineration

Although the two processes have some common features it’s important to understand the difference between them.

Incineration is the process of combusting the organic matter within waste through ‘thermal treatment’. The main by-products of incineration are inert bottom ash and the flue gas. The toxic dioxins and furans are formed, especially when PVC-containing plastics and other materials are burned. Pollution Control Systems (PCS) destroy these gases by passing through a secondary burner at high temperatures.

On the contrary, gasification is claimed to be a carbon-neutral process. It fits into the carbon-cycle by using responsibly sourced biomass as fuel.

As a result, incineration produces just heat and electricity, while Syngas produced by gasification can be turned into valuable commercial products including transportation fuels, chemicals, and fertilizers.

Emissions from gasification are below EPA emission standards.  This explains the growing trend in the development of gasification based waste-to-energy, which is considered renewable energy.

Waste-to-Energy Plants in Europe

Waste-to-Energy (W2E) is widely used by the EU countries to burn waste that could not be recycled. This waste is used to generate energy in the form of steam, electricity or hot water.

Modern Waste-to-Energy facilities are equipped with filters. Between 1990 and 2000 dioxin emissions of Waste-to-Energy plants in Germany dropped from 400 g to less than 0.5 g per year while the amount of thermally treated waste had more than doubled in the same period.

Waste-to-Energy supports high-quality recycling. Countries with very high recycling rates also have high rates of Waste-to-Energy and thus have reduced landfills to almost zero. These are Austria, Belgium, Germany, and the Netherlands. New Waste-to-Energy initiatives have been also introduced in Italy, Romania, Bulgaria, and the Baltic countries.

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Has Sweden established the best recycling practice?

Sweden burns 2 million tons of waste every year, while only 1 percent of all country’s household garbage goes into landfills. Half of the waste is recycled while another half is burned. The country generates 40 percent of heat energy by burning garbage in low-carbon incinerators or Waste-to-Energy plants.

The Waste-to-Energy system also improved Sweden’s recycling rate by 50 percent, which is twice as much as the US rate of 24 percent.

Sweden banned landfills in the 2000s and considers waste incineration as a form of recycling. According to some reports, up to 86 percent of plastics in the country is burned. It is known that burning plastic is very harmful to human health and the environment. However, the Confederation of European Waste-to-Energy Plants (CEWEP) claims that there are no harmful effects.

The country runs out of garbage and imports it from other countries. Currently, Sweden imports about 700,000 tons of garbage from other European countries including the UK and Norway.

Debates Over Waste-to-Energy 

Waste-to-Energy plants provide energy and reduce a significant amount of non-reusable, non-recyclable waste by 90 percent. But is this energy renewable, as it is claimed?

There is disagreement with environmental justice communities and non-governmental organizations. The Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) report (May 2019) shows that municipal waste incinerators are economically inefficient as the most costly and unsustainable, and also raise growing concerns about health effects.

Energy Justice Network considers incineration as an extremely dirty way of getting rid of waste. Waste incineration produces highly toxic emissions of dioxins, furans, mercury, lead, and other toxic substances. A 2006 EPA study found that dioxins, highly toxic substances produced by incinerators can cause cancer.

EPA emission standards for incineration plants are currently being criticized in court by Earthjustice, the environmental legal organization representing Sierra Club to address pollution issues under the Clean Air Act.

Zero Waste Europe is convinced that “Waste-to-Energy is not sustainable because it harms the Circular Economy.” Burning garbage and releasing carbon dioxide minimizes all the benefits of landfill reduction.

Waste-to-energy plants dispose of waste including single-use plastics and other recyclable materials, through the processes of incineration, pyrolysis, gasification, and a plasma arc system which are considered as “waste-of-energy”.

Recently, waste-to-energy incineration was excluded from the new E.U. Sustainable Finance Taxonomy Report (June 2019). Transition to a Circular Economy, waste prevention and recycling are major environmental objectives that can contribute to climate change mitigation as well as to the E.U. climate goals in accordance with the Paris Agreement.

In Conclusion

With the implementation of green initiatives and more sustainable waste management, the expansion of landfills has rapidly slowed. Environmentally friendly technologies and waste separation methods must meet strict environmental pollution standards.

Building a Circular Economy that includes the prevention, reduction, reuse, recycling and repair of waste will largely depend on changes in our behavior and the adoption of a sustainable lifestyle. The next generation can deal with these problems better than we do.

What is your opinion on this? Please leave your comment below.