|Eco-Gadgets and Innovations |
Thermal Leak Detector
Summer has officially arrived. TIme to crank up the air conditioning. Fast forward four or five months and before you know it, we'll all be firing up our furnaces, space heaters and radiators. Either way, we'll watch in dismay as our utility bills soar to keep our homes a nice, comfortable temperature.
According to Energy Star, nearly half of the energy used in the average American home goes to heating (29%) and cooling (17%). Part of the problem is that the typical home leaks like a sieve. Sealing just your heating and cooling
ducts can reduce the energy use by your heating and cooling system by as
much as 20 percent (Energy Star). Caulking, weather stripping and otherwise sealing
leaks in your "building envelope," as it's called, will save even more.
Some energy leaks are obvious: if you go outside and see light shining out from under your front door, that's a bad sign. Unfortunately, most leaks and drafts are next to impossible to detect with mere human senses, which is one of the reasons that professionals get paid to perform energy audits.
But with the very handy Black & Decker Thermal Leak Detector, you can easily identify hidden energy leaks in your home. The Thermal Leak Detector is an infrared scanner that detects deviations
from a reference temperature, which you set by simply shining the light
on a wall.
With the reference temperature set, just point the tool at any object you want to check for hidden thermal leaks
and drafts - windows, doors, electrical outlets, recessed lights, fireplaces,
ducts, etc. - and watch for the light to change colors. As you scan,
the green light will turn red if the scanned temperature is hotter than
the reference temperature, and blue if it is colder. Either way, you'll know you've found a leak that's wasting energy and money.
Point, scan and watch for the pretty light to change colors. It's that
simple. Sealing the leaks, not quite as simple. But at least now you'll know where to start.
Buy it on Amazon for $45 or from Black & Decker directly for $49.99.
|Go Green $ave Green|
Uncle Sam Wants YOU to Save Energy
If you haven't already done so, there is still time to take advantage of federal tax credits that will help cover the cost of various energy-saving products for the home.
Here's the gist. Certain energy-efficient products are eligible for a tax credit of 30% of the purchase price (and, in some cases, the installation cost) up to $1,500. These products must be "placed in service" by December 31, 2010.
Eligible energy-efficient products:
Certain renewable energy systems are also eligible for the 30% tax credit, but unlike the energy efficiency tax credit, there is no upper limit to the tax credit you can receive. You also have a lot more time to act: these products must be
"placed in service" by December 31, 2016.
- Biomass Stoves
- Heating, Ventilating, Air Conditioning (HVAC)
- Roofs (Metal & Asphalt)
- Water Heaters (Non-Solar)
- Windows and Doors
Eligible renewable energy systems:
The tax credit for energy-efficient products is completely separate from the tax credit for renewable energy systems so you can get them both. One word of caution, however: not all products within these categories will qualify for the credit, so be sure to check product eligibility before you buy.
- Geothermal Heat Pumps
- Small Wind Turbines (Residential)
- Solar Photovoltaic Systems
- Solar Water Heaters
To apply, you will need to submit the 2009 IRS Form 5695 with your taxes. You'll also need to save your receipts and the Manufacturer's Certification Statement for your records.
For complete details, visit www.energystar.gov.
|Good Green Eats|
Chilean seabass, bluefin tuna, orange roughy, Atlantic cod...what do these fish all have in common? If you answered "they're delicious," you are correct, but more to the point, these species and many more are seriously overfished, meaning they are caught faster than they can reproduce.
The situation is dire: according to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, 75 percent of the world's fisheries are now exploited, overexploited or have "collapsed" (a fishery is considered collapsed when its catch falls to 10 percent or less of historic levels). A study published in the journal Science in 2006 found that 29 percent of fisheries had already collapsed, and predicted that 100 percent could collapse by 2048 if business continues as usual.
As the tragedy in the Gulf has made painfully clear, fish are too important to allow this prediction to come true. Imagine the consequences: the loss of a key source of protein for countless people around the world, scores of fisherman out of work, and an ocean ecosystem returned to a sort of "primordial soup," where predators such as sharks and tuna are replaced by jellyfish and squid.
The situation is already pretty dire, but we still have time to change our ways and ensure an abundance of wild seafood indefinitely into the future. We can start by choosing seafood wisely. Sustainable seafood guides, including Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch, have been available online for some time, but now there's a new website that rates restaurants based on the sustainability of their seafood offerings.
From the people behind the documentary, The End of the Line (see below), comes www.fish2fork.com, where you can search a database of 100+ restaurants already reviewed, or suggest a restaurant to be reviewed for seafood sustainability. Restaurants are rated on a scale from one to ten, using a blue fish/red fish rating system: five blue fish (best) to five red fish (worst). Ratings are based not only on the sustainability of the species on the menu, but also on how much information is divulged about each species being served, including whether or not it's farm-raised and if not, the fishing method used to catch the fish.
Restaurant owners who choose to ignore this problem need to be held accountable, just as restaurant owners who choose sustainability should be commended. fish2fork.com is a start - check it out and get involved.
Worth Your Time|
|The End of the Line
2009, Available on DVD
The world's oceans face many threats; the tragedy in the Gulf provides a heart-wrenching reminder of that every day. But of all the threats, from glo
bal warming, to pollution, to the destruction of coral reefs and kelp forests - none may prove more devastating than overfishing.
The documentary film The End of the Line
, based on the work of environmental journalist and author Charles Clover, shines a bright light on the global consequences of decades of over-consumption of seafood.
An official selection of the 2009 Sundance Film Festival, the film makes the case that if we do nothing - if consumers continue to eat endangered fish, politicians continue to refuse imposing catch limits, and fisherman continue to fish illegally - we may likely face the end of seafood by the year 2048.
But it's not all gloom and doom. Yes, the problem is described in (sometimes graphic) detail, but beyond that, the film goes on to suggest a way out of this mess. Reducing the size of fishing fleets and encouraging consumers to choose sustainably harvested seafood are just two strategies proposed to ensure a thriving marine environment well into the future.
Directed by Rupert Murray and narrated by Ted Danson, the film is
To buy a DVD, host a screening or find a screening near you, visit www.endoftheline.com
Hands Across the Sand
Saturday, June 26
Does the news coming out of the Gulf every day make you want to scream? Watching the footage of the devastation resulting from the largest oil spill in U.S. history, you might feel powerless to do anything about it.
Besides donating money to cleanup efforts, without a Hazmat suit, about all any of us can do is conserve fuel and pressure the government to take meaningful steps to ensure that we never see another spill like this again.
One opportunity to take a stand against offshore oil drilling is coming up this Saturday, June 26. Sponsored by several respected environmental groups, including
Sierra Club, Audubon, Surfrider Foundation, Greenpeace and Defenders of
Wildlife, Hands Across the Sand will be the largest gathering against offshore oil drilling In history.
At 12:00 noon local time, people all over the globe will be joining hands at beaches, parks and other inland locations to send this simple message to world leaders: NO to offshore oil drilling, YES to clean, renewable energy. The goal is to persuade world leaders to abandon expanded offshore oil drilling and adopt policies that encourage clean, renewable energy sources instead.
To join a Hands Across the Sand event near you, go to www.handsacrossthesand.com and select your location on the map. Then this Saturday:
One hour and 15 minutes of your time to show your support for the protection of
marine wildlife, and the fishing industry. Just a little thing you can do to take a stand. And who knows? Afterward, you might find the news just a little bit easier to stomach.
- show up at 11 AM local time
- form a line
- at 12:00 noon, join hands
Events and other stuff for Angelinos:
Upcoming TeachingGreen Workshop Series
Continuing the series at Whole Foods Market, Torrance...
Wednesday, July 14: Green Building and Energy Conservation
Learn about the basics of eco-friendly decorating and remodeling and how to save energy (and money) at home.
Wednesday, August 11: Water Quality and Conservation
Learn how to drastically cut your domestic water use and help keep our local waterways clean while you're at it.
Wednesday, September 8: Simplifying Your Way to Waste-Free Living
Do more than you ever thought possible to stem the flow of natural resources to landfills.
Wednesday, October 13:Detoxifying Your Planet, Your Home, Yourself
Protect your health and the health of others by keeping toxics out of your life and the environment.
Time: 7:00 - 8:30pm
Location: Whole Foods Market, 2655 PCH, Torrance, CA 90505
Cost: Suggested $5 donation
For more info, visit www.teachinggreen.org.
Eco Events Around Town
El Segundo Environmental Expo
This event will feature
eco-friendly products and services, as well as interactive demonstrations on
how to reduce energy and water use. Kids are sure to enjoy the Aquarium on Wheels and creating art from an
assortment of manufacturing castoffs at the the Trash for Teaching booth.
Date: Thursday, July 8
Time: 3:00 - 7:00pm
Location: 350 Main Street, El Segundo 90245
Venice Eco-Fest 2010
This 3rd annual event
will feature more than 150 eco booths and displays, a
solar-powered sound stage with all-day music, dance and entertainment, a
vegetarian food court, an
interactive kids' art/play area with exotic animals, and "The One Planet
Date: Saturday, July 10
Time: 10:00am - 6:00pm
Location: Venice Beach Recreation
Area, Windward Ave. & Ocean Front Walk
LA Green Drinks
Relax, have a drink, make new friends, network and share ideas with others interested in environmental issues.
West Side................1st Thursday of the month
South Bay................2nd Thursday
WeHo/Silver Lake.....3rd Thursday
For times and locations, visit: lagreendrinks.blogspot.com.
Three ways you can help:
1. Bring us your people
Actually, we'll come to you.
In addition to public workshops, we also give presentations for groups, schools, and businesses. Are you a member of a community group, alumni group, Mom's group, church group, or any other kind of group? Have a business you're trying to green and want to get your employees on board?
If so, we would love to come and give a presentation or two for your group! We give presentations on specific issues, such as transportation, food and household toxics, and we also offer a general overview of sustainable living.
Visit www.teachinggreen.org to learn more and to request a presentation.
2. Volunteer or intern with TeachingGreen
We are seeking interns and volunteers to help further our mission of helping people reduce the environmental impact of their personal and professional lives. We need help with curriculum development, fund raising and outreach. Your involvement will help us to grow the organization so that we can reach more people with the message of sustainability.
For more information, contact Kathleen Jacecko at 310-372-7484 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
3. Donate and become a member of TeachingGreen
We are a 501(c)3 organization, so all donations are fully tax-deductible. Your support helps us spread the message of sustainability via workshops, presentations, our wesite and this newsletter. We currenlty operate only in Los Angeles, but even if you don't live here, remember that when we act locally, we help the global environment as well as the local environment.
To make a tax-deductible donation to TeachingGreen, click here.
We hope you find
this newsletter helpful and informative, and should you have any
suggestions, questions or general comments, we'd love to hear from you.