We can all do our part when it comes to going “green.” Click here for tips on recycling and reducing.
Did you know that being eco-friendly can save you money? According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the typical family spends $1,900 a year on home utility bills. Families can cut their carbon footprint up to 25 percent and save a significant amount of money with these easy-to-form habits for every room in the house.
Appliances account for about 17 percent of your household’s energy consumption. At the top of the list are refrigerators.
First, turn down your refrigerator. Recommended temperatures for refrigerators are 37 to 40 degrees; and freezers are 5 degrees. Check the door and the gaskets around your refrigerator and freezer doors to make sure they are clean and sealed tightly. Regularly defrost refrigerators and freezers.
If you are in the market for a new refrigerator, select the right size for your household. Top freezer models are more energy efficient than side-by-side models. Refrigerators with all of the bells and whistles, such as icemakers and water dispensers, will increase energy consumption.
Dishwashers are another energy-consuming culprit due to their water heaters. Check the owner’s manual for the recommended water temperature setting. If it’s possible, lower the temperature to 120 degrees.
Scrape off, don’t rinse, dishes before piling them into the dishwasher. Wait until the dishwasher is full — not overloaded — to run it.
Other kitchen tips include:
- Place the faucet lever in the cold position. Placing the lever in the hot position will use energy to heat the water even though it may never reach the faucet.
- Keep stove top burners and reflectors clean so they can effectively burn heat.
- Match the size of the pan to the stove-top burner.
Almost everyone knows that if you use less water and cooler water when washing clothes you can save money and energy.
But here are some other tips to cut costs and energy:
- Wash and dry full loads.
- Dry towels and heavier cottons in a separate load.
- Don’t over-dry your clothes.
- Clean the lint filter after every load.
- Use the cool-down cycle to allow clothes to finish drying.
- Consider air drying clothes on clotheslines or drying racks.
The top ways to cut your water heating bills include: Use less hot water, turn down the thermostat on the water heater, insulate the water heater or purchase an ENERGY STAR-certified model.
Other tips include:
- Install aerating, low-flow faucets and showerheads.
- Insulate electric hot-water storage tanks.
- Drain a quart of water from the water tank every three months to remove sediment that impedes heat transfer and lowers efficiency.
You can save up to 24 percent of the energy you use in the house with carefully positioned trees. Daytime air temperatures can be 3 to 6 degrees cooler in tree-shaded neighborhoods than in treeless areas.
Consider adding a tree, shrub, vine or a lattice, trellis or planter’s box with climbing vines that can deliver effective shade or act as a windbreak.
SOURCE: Energy Savers Booklet from the U.S. Department of Energy
Beginning March 31, South Carolina residents who purchase ENERGY STAR-certified appliances will be eligible for a rebate. A total of $3.9 million is the state’s share of the $300 million federal stimulus funds available for the rebates. Rebates will be available until the funds run out. Online purchases and purchases before March 31 are not applicable. Rebates will be applied instantly for appliances purchased at a store. Customers purchasing water heaters and HVAC systems will receive mail-in order forms. And all rebate applicants will be required to allow retailers and installers recycle their old appliances.
Below is a list of products to be rebated and their monetary rebate levels:
Clothes washer, $100
Room air conditioning unit, $50
Central air conditioning unit, $200
Heat pump, $500
Gas furnace, $500
Gas-condensing water heater, $400
Electric heat pump water heater, $400
Hi-efficiency gas storage water heater, $100
Hi-performance gas storage water heater, $200
Gas tankless water heater, $400
Solar electric water heater, $400
Solar gas water heater, $400
For more information, visit www.appliancerebates.sc.gov.
Transportation accounts for 67 percent of U.S. oil use, mainly in the form of gasoline. But, there are plenty of ways to improve gas mileage.
- Aggressive driving (speeding, rapid acceleration, and hard braking) wastes gas. It can lower your highway gas mileage 33 percent and city mileage 5 percent.
- Avoid high speeds. Going above 60 mph causes gas mileage to drop rapidly.
- Clear out your car; extra weight decreases gas mileage by 1 percent to 2 percent for every 100 pounds.
- Reduce drag by placing items inside the car or trunk rather than on roof racks. A roof rack or carrier provides additional cargo space and may allow you to buy a smaller car. However, a loaded roof rack can decrease your fuel economy by 5 percent or more.
- Check into telecommuting, carpooling and public transit to cut mileage and car maintenance costs.
Car Maintenance Tips
- Use the grade of motor oil recommended by your car's manufacturer. Using a different motor oil can lower your gasoline mileage by 1 to 2 percent.
- Keep tires properly inflated and aligned to improve your gasoline mileage by around 3.3 percent.
- Get regular engine tune-ups and car maintenance checks to avoid fuel economy problems due to worn spark plugs, dragging brakes, low transmission fluid, or transmission problems.
- Replace clogged air filters to improve gas mileage by as much as 10 percent and protect your engine.
- Combine errands into one trip. Several short trips, each one taken from a cold start, can use twice as much fuel as one trip covering the same distance when the engine is warm.
Long-Term Savings Tip
- Consider buying a highly fuel-efficient vehicle. A fuel- efficient vehicle, a hybrid vehicle, or an alternative fuel vehicle could save you a lot at the gas pump and help the environment.
Source: U.S. Department of Energy
Beaufort County recycling centers accept the following materials:
- Bagged household garbage
- Yard waste including leaves, trimmings, limbs and branches
- Non-compactable items such as furniture, toys, miscellaneous bulky household items
- Used motor oil, including gasoline/oil mixture; motor oil bottles and oil filters
- Cooking oil (put in original container and lid and give to the attendant).
- Aluminum and steel cans
- Appliances and scrap metal (stoves, washers, dryers, refrigerators, grills, bicycles, etc.)
- Cardboard, pasteboard, magazines, phone books and mixed paper
- Newspaper (do not tie or bag newspapers)
- Glass: Clear, green, brown and blue glass bottles and jars; remove caps and lids. Not accepted: window glass, pottery, porcelain, china
- Tires: Passenger vehicle tires; limited to four per day per patron
- Car and rechargeable batteries
The following sites are open from 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday through Sunday
- Hilton Head, 26 Summit Drive, 843-681-3731
- Bluffton, 104 Simmonsville Road, 843-815-1520
- Pritchardville, 54 Gibbet Road, 843-757-1521
Get kids involved
Looking for a way to teach your child about the importance of going green?
Raise the awareness by getting them involved with recycling, said Sandra Walsh, second-grade teacher at Hilton Head Island School for the Creative Arts.
“Recycling is very tangible thing and easy to do,” she said. “They see their place in it ... ‘Wow we can do this.’ Little kids want to know how things work. It helps them be a part of their community, part of their world.”
One of her recent lesson plans involved recycling. Walsh showed her class pictures and videos of landfills and recycling centers and what happens when recyclables go from your hand to a recycling center to the factory and back to the consumer.
Jennifer Berry, public and strategic relations manager with Earth911, said parents can create fun projects to get kids involved.
“Have a trash audit,” Berry said. “It’s kind of a messy process, but kids like that. You get the whole household together. Keep throwing things away as normal. After a week, take the stuff out of the trash can and look at it and ask, ‘What can we recycle or reuse?’”
For articles and videos on how to create recyclable crafts, visit:
Reduce. Reuse. Recycle.
Saving the earth made simple
Most people want to do their part to save the earth. But in an area where curbside recycling isn’t commonplace, Lowcountry residents have the challenge of finding ways to keep their everyday waste organized and clean without creating a mess.
First, find the closest recycling center near you. All Beaufort County centers accept aluminum, plastics, paper, metals and even motor oil.
The next step is to set up bins that fit the recyclables in an out-of-the-way location, such as the garage, the back porch or, if space is an issue, behind your house.
Be sure to find plastic bins with lids. They protect recyclables from the elements and can be washed as needed. A rule of thumb is to use adequately sized bins based on how often you will be disposing of recyclables and organize them into the following categories: glass, tins/cans, papers/newspaper, compost, cardboard and plastics.
Here are some other tips:
- For papers and newspapers, use a bin where the papers can lay flat.
- For tins, use bins that have a hinged or flapstyle lid for easy disposal.
- Use a secure lid for compost to reduce any unpleasant odors and to prevent curious critters.
- Any cans that hold food or liquid should be washed, flattened or crushed. Boxes also should be flattened. These tips will help reduce unwanted pests.
The No. 1 way to limit your carbon footprint is to reuse, said Jennifer Berry, public and strategic relations manager for Earth911, a national hotline and website on where and how to recycle anything.
“When you talk about creative ways to recycle, reuse is a great concept,” Berry said. “Take a look at what you have and ask, ‘Can this be used for anything else?’”
Old medicine bottles can be used as travel sewing and first aid kits. Two-liter plastic bottles can be turned into bird feeders. Even the controversial plastic bags from grocery stores can be crocheted and weaved into floor mats or rugs.
“Some ways are basic and some are labor intensive,” Berry said. “The only thing limiting you is your own creativity. It saves money because you don’t have to buy new materials.”
Here are some other creative ideas on how to reuse most household items from Earth911:
- Plastic bottles can be reused and made into lamps, juicers, purses and piggy banks.
- Styrofoam gets a bad rap for not being biodegradable. But it is also easy to reuse for everyday living. It can be used to protect items for packing or mailing, or to keep centerpieces upright or line planters. It also can be used as crafts for kids, including wreaths made from the Styrofoam from your new DVD player.
- Reuse plastic to-go containers for leftovers for yourself or for friends as seed starters, mini-greenhouses or yarn holders.
- Did you know that plastic peanuts can be recycled and reused? You can donate them to UPS or other shipping stores. Or call the 24-hour Peanut Hot line at 800-828-2214 to find a location near you. They also make great re-stuffing for beanbag chairs, pet beds (stuff pillowcases), garland or even curtains by painting, using glitter and stringing them together.
- Jeans can be used as gift wrap, coffee cozies, rugs or floormats, dog toys and as carrying cases or handbags for MP3 players, cosmetics, shopping and pencils.
For more information on creative ways to reuse recyclables, visit www.earth911.com.
Serious gardeners, listen up.
The healthiest and most eco-friendly way to grow your garden is to create your own compost. Sound difficult? Not really.
Composting is a way to recycle certain materials and turn them into soil while reducing waste output. Banana peels, apple cores, potato scraps, egg shells, coffee grounds and vegetable remnants can all be thrown into an outdoor pile that bacteria will break down over time, said Phil Taylor landscape architect with Sunshine Nursery.
“What happens, it gets very hot inside, which causes it to break down,” Taylor said. “You have to turn the pile on a regular basis and add lime to it before it deteriorates down. It’s good with existing soil. You aren’t going to plant a plant with just compost. You mix it with existing soil.”
According to www.Earth911.com, a national recycling hotline and website, microorganisms break down organic matter, producing heat, carbon dioxide, water and humus in the process. When composting is done correctly, a pile undergoes three phases:
- The mesophilic or moderate temperature phase, which lasts two to three days
- The thermophilic or high temperature phase, which lasts anywhere from three days to several months
- The cooling and maturation phase, which lasts several months.
Jennifer Berry, Earth911’s public and strategic relations manager, said green or nitrogen-rich and brown or carbon- rich materials are required to be in proper chemical balance.
Examples of green materials include fresh grass clippings, plants and plant cuttings, non-carnivore animal manure and food scraps, such as vegetable peelings.
Brown materials include dead or dry leaves, hay and straw, crushed eggshells, coffee grounds, wood ashes, sawdust and simple paper products. However, never add oil- or fat-based food products, such as fat trimmings, meat, cheese, milk, etc.
“Different animal products, such as fats and oils, don’t get warm enough,” Berry said. “Compost shouldn’t be smelly. It should smell nice. Otherwise, it can cause bacteria to grow.”
Another important factor to a successful compost pile is the moisture content. If you have just loaded with pile with autumn leaves, make sure to add water so they glisten — which will jumpstart the decomposition process.
By Tim Donnelly
How much is Hilton Head Island's government committed to reducing its waste and making its employees more eco-conscious? So much so that google.com's white background screen is deemed an excess use of energy. Instead, the town is requiring its employees to switch to blackle.com, a google-powered search engine that uses a black background on its homepage to save on the juice.
It's a small step that will save energy only in increments, but it's symbolic of the town's larger efforts to raise consciousness about waste, energy usage and paper consumption throughout town buildings and facilities.
Those efforts were outlined in a report put together by town staff in November outlining green efforts already underway and new initiatives that will be adopted soon. The report was a byproduct of the goal the Town Council set last year to focus on new green initiatives, including broad measures like a town-wide recycling program and more efficient construction regulations.
The town hopes its own efforts to go green will set an example for other island residents to follow its lead, and bolster the island's image as an environmentally friendly resort.
For instance, Styrofoam cups are out and ceramic mugs are in at Town Hall. Old lightbulbs are being replaced with newer, energy-saving bulbs. Even hard copies of newspapers may disappear in favor of reading the day's news online. "These (steps) are more what we're doing on our daily operations side of things," town manager Steve Riley said.
The town is also reducing its paper consumption.
The Human Resources department will start accepting e-mailed versions of forms and letters with electronic signatures. Planners and revenue collectors will ditch snail mail whenever possible and use e-mail to communicate with residents. And the massive packets of data, plans, memos, pictures, diagrams, agendas and meeting minutes distributed to board and council member before meetings will be converted to digital files and sent out electronically.
The town has also beefed up use of its intranet site to communicate internally; distributed reusable vinyl folders instead of the disposable manila envelopes; and has stopped printing pamphlets in favor of putting town information online.
But that’s not all.
Heating and air conditioning will be more closely monitored to reduce energy use on the weekends. New recycling bins are popping up in offices and council chambers. And more direct energy and cost savings will come from appliance replacement.
The town also will weigh all future purchases with their environmental impact in mind, meaning officials will look for Energy Star appliances, water-saving valves, low-flow fixtures, water-less urinals and automatic shut-off coffeemakers, among other things.
But it's not an all-out green revolution at Town Hall; some things still cost too much to take on, the report says. Using eco-friendly building materials in future renovation or construction "might not be feasible," the report states. The town will tell vendors to use or install energy saving devices, but only when the budget allows.
Still, more initiatives are on their way in the coming years. The town will be conducting energy audits to analyze its efficiency, looking to work with home builders on a green buildings program, and even researching code changes to allow residents to construct solar panels, windmills and other clean energy sources on their property, something prohibited by some parts of the code. Officials will also look to continue purchasing hybrid cars whenever possible and — in one more small step — will make sure the tire pressure on those cars is correct so no gas is wasted.
By Tim Donnelly
Nearly two years of wrangling and debate over a proposed town-wide recycling program could finally be coming to an end this spring. Hilton Head officials said they planned by the end of February to be reviewing proposals from waste haulers about what kind of program to enact for the town's first-ever centralized recycling program. If some of the proposals look good to Town Council members, a contract could be awarded within a few months, town manager Steve Riley said.
The town had until recently been considering a system whereby residents would pay for disposal based on how much trash they produced, a program meant to encourage recycling.
"Whether you can either price it in such a way that those who produce less garbage pay less or those who are big generators pay more, I'm not sure if that's going to (be among the proposals)," Riley said.
The town will also look at proposals that could give the program to a single trash hauler or multiple trash haulers. The county-run convenience center by the airport will remain open no matter which plan the town adopts.
"Price and choice have become driving consideration of this whole thing," Riley said.
In its recent green initiatives report, the town also said a major education campaign will be necessary for any recycling program's success.
By Charles Edwards
Since President Jimmy Carter put solar panels in the White House in June 1979, the concept of harnessing the sun’s rays for power has been steadily growing in the national consciousness.
Here in the Lowcountry, a trio of dynamic organizations have partnered to make solar power a reality at the Technical College of the Lowcountry.
On a sunny morning Feb. 1, representatives from TCL, Palmetto Electric Cooperative and Santee Cooper unveiled the latest in solar-powered technology: a 20-kilowatt grouping of multiple solar panels, also called an “array,” at TCL’s New River Campus. A series of nine canopies comprise the array, and each canopy points 10 solar panels skyward to capture the power of the sun.
At the unveiling, TCL President Dr. Tom Leitzel said, “TCL is honored to showcase these advances in alternative energy. It fits perfectly with the renewable energy emphasis we stress in our industrial and engineering technology curricula.”
The solar array will help train the next generation of industrial and engineering students at TCL, and will also put a feather in the cap of a university known for its dedication to the latest in technology.
The array joins several other projects throughout the state, including a 20-kilowatt array being used to research renewable energy storage solutions at the Center for Hydrogen Research in Aiken; and several 2-kilowatt arrays that have been installed at various schools throughout the state under a program called Green Power Solar Schools, which is a partnership of the state’s electric cooperatives, including Palmetto Electric and Santee Cooper.
That partnership extended to the project at TCL.
“We are proud to partner with Palmetto again today for the benefit of Technical College of the Lowcountry and all of its students,” said Lonnie Carter, Santee Cooper president and chief executive officer. “This 20-kilowatt array is quite handsome, as I’m sure you’ll agree, and it provides a functional gathering space for students and others. The real beauty, though, is in the educational opportunities it affords, and the lessons we all can learn about making better use of the sun’s rays.”
G. Thomas Upshaw, Palmetto Electric president and chief executive officer, said, “Palmetto Electric is proud of the role we’ve played in bringing this 20-kilowatt solar power machine to our corner of the state. We have promoted the benefits of renewable green power for years to our customers, and our customers have clearly said they want more. I can think of no better place for this demonstration project than at Technical College of the Lowcountry, where it can be an anchor for continuing research and development into renewable energy.”
This new solar array generates two things. The first, clean energy, will be fed back into the grid and delivered to Palmetto Electric Cooperative customers. The second is less easily metered, but no less important. It will generate ideas and inspiration for the next generation of TCL students, and there’s no better renewable resource than knowledge.