Mom's Guide to Growing Your Family Green: Saving the Earth Begins at Home

Mom's Guide to Growing Your Family Green: Saving the Earth Begins at Home

5.0 1
by Terra Wellington
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions

With the multitude of green choices available, how can moms determine what will be best for their families—and the environment? Terra Wellington has the answers.

This user-friendly and invaluable resource is packed with hundreds of easy green how-tos including:

• Shopping: Get the most bang for your buck by purchasing organic foods

See more details below

Overview

With the multitude of green choices available, how can moms determine what will be best for their families—and the environment? Terra Wellington has the answers.

This user-friendly and invaluable resource is packed with hundreds of easy green how-tos including:

• Shopping: Get the most bang for your buck by purchasing organic foods that would otherwise have high pesticide residue, like apples, grapes, green peppers, peaches, and pears.

• Kitchen: Save money and water by scraping—not rinsing— dishes before putting them in the dishwasher. Today’s models are so efficient that rinsing is not necessary.

• Home office: Screensavers don’t save energy. Instead have the computer switch to sleep mode when idle.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A very useable guide, with practical ideas and smart information. Perfect if you’re getting overwhelmed by all the green-speak out there." – Gabrielle Blair, Founder DesignMom.com

"The Mom’s Guide is compelling without using scare tactics or manipulation. Every page is full of great information." – Jessica Gottlieb, Eco Child’s Play

"A dedicated eco-mom delivers practical guidelines for greening your world. Wellington will teach you how to raise a green family and provide tools to become an environmentally conscious citizen. Written with the busy mom in mind, advice ranges from simple suggestions for reducing waste to full-blown eco-overhauls for the home, such as getting your house LEED-certified." – Ann Wycoff, VIV Magazine

"Author Terra Wellington helps moms navigate the clutter of green choices and determine what's best for their families and the environment. Moms can explore ways to live consciously, shop wisely and embrace the green life." – Justin Williams, The News Journal and Gannett News Service

"It’s not meant for hardcore environmentalists, but for people like us who just want to do our part to protect the planet and its limited resources." – Top-Ten Examiner for Family and Parenting Channel Jackie Kass, Examiner.com

"This is an easy to apply guide filled with hundreds of green tips. There’s something for everyone to start doing their part in saving the earth!" – Kimberly Coleman for MomintheCity.com and contributor at New York Metro Parenting Guide

"This practical guide is jam-packed with hundreds of "green" suggestions that can help us save our environment. For example, Wellington suggests that we contact the manager of our neighborhood grocery store to make certain that it carries locally grown produce, we buy coffee that is USDA organic and fair trade certified, and we keep our family diets free of food tainted with pesticides, hormones, antibiotics or genetic engineering." – Larry Cox, Tucson Citizen

Read More

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780312384739
Publisher:
St. Martin's Press
Publication date:
03/17/2009
Edition description:
First Edition
Pages:
336
Product dimensions:
5.46(w) x 8.24(h) x 0.86(d)

Read an Excerpt

The Mom's Guide to Growing your Family Green

Saving the Earth Begins at Home


By Terra Wellington

St. Martin's Press

Copyright © 2009 Terra Wellington and The Stonesong Press, LLC
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4299-6463-0



CHAPTER 1

earth-friendly energy: taking control of your indoor climate


The majority of your family's life happens in your home. It's where you enjoy holidays, visit with extended family and friends, relax, entertain, eat, and sleep. Because you spend so much time in your home, climate control is an important issue. Moms everywhere should use a green touch when it comes to heating and cooling their homes — heating and cooling account for a large portion of the energy your home uses, and thus a large portion of the money you spend on utilities and of the carbon footprint you leave behind. Take the time to evaluate and improve the methods you use to heat and cool your indoor living areas and you will discover new ways to grow your family green.


a changing world

According to the latest scientific research, if we continue on our destructive path of polluting our environment beyond its capability to renew itself, we can expect climate changes such as periods of extreme drought and precipitation. These climate changes can cause severe economic problems and health risks, changes in the distribution and health of ecosystems, extreme storms that put populations in danger, and more air and water pollution. I, for one, don't want to leave that legacy to my children. Do you?

Why do these climate changes happen? In a nutshell, when humans burn coal, oil, and gas (often by way of power plants and transportation, including our cars), create methane gas (through fossil fuel production and raising of livestock), and cut down lots of trees, greenhouse gases are produced. These gases cause global warming when they trap the sun's heat in our atmosphere, which gradually warms our planet's temperature. Because we have produced such a high quantity of these gases over the years, we have caused the earth's overall temperature to rise. This rise in temperature creates climate change. The best known way to reverse this negative impact is to reduce these greenhouse gases (also called emissions) and plant more trees — both of which we can do.


LIFESTYLE ACTION

take stock of your energy


what you need to know

When I pay my bills every month, it's an eye-opening experience to realize just how much power my family uses — and how pricey that energy can be! According to Energy Star, a typical family (mine included) spends approximately $1,900 a year on energy bills, with nearly half of that going to heating and cooling. And if you're like me, you want to reduce this amount. A first step is to find where you might be wasting energy inside your home. Energy Star suggests that better sealing and insulation can save you 10 percent on that bill (that's almost $200 per year). Additionally, you can save another 20 percent by having regular maintenance performed on your cooling system. And programmable thermostats and other energy-saving devices and appliances can help further.

The amount of energy you use is not only directly related to your checkbook, but also to how much you contribute to polluting your environment. We're talking about the air you, I, and our children breathe. In fact, according to the EPA, pollution from homes makes up 17 percent of the greenhouse gases released in this country.

>> The United States is a hungry country when it comes to energy. According to the Population Reference Bureau, we are only 5 percent of the world's population but use over a quarter of nearly every resource produced by the entire planet.


benefits


By reducing your energy usage and paying attention to how you use energy, you can lower your bills and create a healthier environment.


how-to's


Perform a Do-It-Yourself Energy Audit on Your Home [??]

Use my checklist to perform a simple, do-it-yourself energy audit. It will take less than an hour.

ENERGY STAR >> (www.energystar.gov) This is a joint program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy to help you save money and protect the environment. The Energy Star label is given to products and services that have met strict energy-saving guidelines.

Pay a Professional to Perform an Energy Audit [??] $–$$

If the do-it-yourself approach isn't for you or you don't have the time to spare, then I recommend you hire a professional. Professional audits are often more comprehensive and usually come with a lot of tips and recommendations from the auditor. Contact your local utility or gas company to see if they offer professional home-energy audits, which they will usually conduct for a fee. If not, ask for a referral or look in the telephone directory under "energy." Additionally, the Energy Star Web site has a directory of certified home energy raters.

A typical comprehensive analysis and report would include some or all of the following:

* A room-by-room examination of your home

* An evaluation of past utility bills

* A blower test to determine the general location of air leaks

* An infrared inspection to further locate air leaks and moisture problems

* A list of existing problems like condensation, drafts and air leaks, or clogged filters

* A review of the energy used by your water heater, air conditioner, laundry, refrigerator/freezer, and lighting, as well as your natural gas consumption

* A carbon monoxide check

* Solutions on how to increase your home's energy efficiency


LIFESTYLE ACTION capture green heat


what you need to know


While you may have energy-efficient appliances, you can also make your home more energy-efficient. Capturing heat from the sun's rays, for instance, will lower the amount of energy you need to buy and will benefit you and your family. After all, the sun is free!

You can harness the power of the sun in very simple ways like letting more sun shine into your home during the winter to heat its interior, or by using a solar-powered calculator. A more costly and complex step would be to install a complete solar system, which collects energy for electricity use, heats water for household use, or heats your pool. Don't write off solar systems! Although they were largely introduced in the 1970s, they have come a long way in being more efficient and cost-effective. There is also financing available. And these days they also look better and can be easily hidden — they can be mounted flush against the roof to look like a skylight and they come in different colors to match the color of your roof. Producing solar power doesn't cause climate change nor does it spew carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the air like the use of oil, coal, or natural gas does. It is one of the simplest and least risky ways we can produce power.


benefits


Capturing heat and the sun's rays can save you money, and because this means purchasing less energy from public utilities, it helps the environment. You can research federal, state, and local tax credits to see if reimbursement is available for the purchase and installation of a solar energy system. Finally, when you sell your home, you can often recoup the entire cost of the system.


how-to's


Cook Smarter for Heat Retention and Energy Efficiency [??] Ø

Here's a simple tip: Put the lid on your pot when you're cooking on the stove (as long as it does not compromise your dish). Your pot's contents will heat up more quickly because more heat will be captured inside the pan. Otherwise, you're not only heating up your pan and its contents, but also the surrounding air. Additionally, if you are boiling ingredients or water in your pot, reduce the heat to medium or low once you discern a boil, as a roiling boil and a soft boil occur at the exact same temperature. Finally, match pans to burner size; otherwise you will lose heat to the air around the pan.

Wrap Your Water Heater in a Blanket [??] $

This is an easy insulation technique that helps capture heat you've already paid for and produced so that you will spend (and waste) less. You can purchase and install a water heater blanket for under $25 and start conserving energy today. You don't need a professional to do it. (I'm all for that — more ways to save money!) Wrap the blanket around your water heater and make sure the labels, thermostat access panel, and operational specifications are visible — if not, cut out a "window" so you can see them. The blanket should also have cutouts for the heating coil elements and the combustion air duct. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, you can save between 4 and 9 percent in water heating costs by following through on this simple tip.


>> The average household water-heating bill makes up about 25 percent of a home's energy costs according to the U.S. Department of Energy.


Plant Deciduous Trees [??] + $–$$

Don't hug a tree, plant one! I have a little deciduous tree (a type of tree that keeps its leaves in the summer but loses them in the winter) in the front of my house. It's brand-new and little more than broomsticksized, but I was so excited to see the leaves come out in the spring after its planting. In a few more years, that tree will bring us terrific shade in the summer and will allow the sun to shine through during the colder months. Trees also beautify your property and improve your mental health by giving you something lovely and green to look at. Additionally, they improve air quality by absorbing and sequestering carbon dioxide in the air and then turning it back into oxygen. Your property's value may also appreciate by planting trees.

Heat Your Home with Natural Light [??] Ø

This is simple. Just open your blinds and curtains during the wintertime to bring the sun's rays indoors. The heat from those rays will warm up your home during daylight hours. The added benefit is your reduced need to turn on lightbulbs — again saving you electricity. Plus, the sun's rays prompt our bodies to produce more serotonin, thus boosting our energy.

>> If you want extra insulation for your windows, add some thermal curtains to your window treatments. Leave them open during the day to let in the natural heat and light, but close them at night to use the special fabric as additional insulation against the colder nighttime temperatures.

Upgrade Your Windows [??] $$–$$$$

When you upgrade your windows to more energy-efficient options, you will trap the heat inside your home more readily (you'll cool your home better, too). One of the cheapest and easiest ways to upgrade your window's insulation is by applying an insulating film directly to the glass — I've done it and found it to be a very cost-effective option. Many of these window-film products come with UV protection, and will shield both your skin and your furniture. You can also upgrade your window treatments to a more insulating type that still gives you light during the day, and/or you can completely replace your windows.

When looking for complete window replacements, one of the most important things to look for are products that carry the Energy Star rating; this will ensure that the product has passed high enough standards to be worth your upgrade money. Energy Star-rated windows will likely be either dual or triple paned for added insulation, have acceptable window ratings for your climate, be built in certain types of frames, and have a Low-E coating to give you more heat or to cool down, depending on your climate. Additionally, Energy Star's Web site lets you search by zip code for manufacturers in your area and tells you the best window options for your climate. I tested this search feature, and since I live in Southern California, I learned that I am in Energy Star's South/Central Climate Zone. This means that certain kinds of coatings and frames will be more energy efficient for my area; in my case, Low-E glass with either wood, vinyl, fiberglass, or composite frames. To recoup some of the initial costs, look for federal or state tax credits offered for installing energy-efficient windows. Your local utility company may also have a credit program that may offer you incentives and rebates.


>> The U.S. Department of Energy says you can save as much as 50 percent on your heating bills by installing energy-efficient windows in your home. Having adequate insulation in your attic, ceilings, exterior and basement walls, floors, and crawl spaces can knock 30 percent of your home energy bill.


the lowdown on low-e

Low-E (or low-emissivity) glass has been coated with a virtually invisible, superthin metallic glaze for purposes of energy-efficiency. This coating is either already encased in the window's glass panes by the manufacturer, or included in window film that either you or a professional add to the window. Low-E glass also cuts down on UV light, which can fade carpets, fabric, and furniture — and reducing UV light also helps to protect your skin and eyes. Brand-new Low-E windows cost 10 to 15 percent more than regular new windows, but according to the Department of Energy, they will reduce your energy costs by as much as 30 to 50 percent — a real money saver!

There are also other quality window films available that are not labeled Low-E but offer tremendous energy-efficiency, protect from harmful UV rays, and come with energy rebates. They typically last ten to fifteen years (or longer) without peeling and can recoup their costs within a year, allowing you to save for the day when you can purchase new windows. Some of these films are remarkably clear, with virtually no reflectivity, and allow a fabulous clear view of the outdoors. You want to avoid reflective film; in my opinion, it's not attractive. Plus, it can be deceptive and harmful to birds, which could fly into your windows because they see the sky's reflection.

3M >> (www.3m.com) Clear-window, energy-saving window film — dealer-installed only


GILA FILMS >> (www.gilafilms.com) Do-it-yourself Low-E window film that offers excellent, immediate heat reduction


SOLAR GARD >> (www.solargard.com) Window films with Low-E and heat control — dealer-installed only


Fill In Cracks [??] $–$$

Sealing up air leaks is relatively easy to do. You can use caulk, weather-stripping, spray foam, or duct sealant for ducts (also called duct mastic). If your sealant will remain visible, make sure it is aesthetically pleasing or can be painted over. Most air drafts are easy to find around windows because you can feel the cool or warm air seeping into your home, but there are other places to look for air leaks and drafts, including:

• Dryer vent

• Outdoor electrical outlets

• Door frames

• Attic hatch

• Recessed lighting fixtures

• Bathroom fan vents

• Plumbing stack vents

• Kitchen fan vents

• Outdoor faucets

• Exposed ducts in attics, basements, crawl spaces, and garages


how to caulk your windows


If you have drafts coming in through the sides of your windows, you should look for cracks in the seals between the outside wall and the window frame. You can purchase caulk from your local hardware store for under $10 and fill in these cracks for more energy-efficiency and insulation. Some caulk requires a caulking gun, which acts as leverage to push the caulk through the tip. Caulk has the consistency of glue, so you can smooth it out with your finger and easily clean up mistakes, but once it dries it can be difficult to remove. Make sure you've applied it only where you want to fill in the cracks, and consider paintable caulk if you want to perform some paint touch-ups after your crack is repaired.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from The Mom's Guide to Growing your Family Green by Terra Wellington. Copyright © 2009 Terra Wellington and The Stonesong Press, LLC. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Read More

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
"A very useable guide, with practical ideas and smart information. Perfect if you’re getting overwhelmed by all the green-speak out there." – Gabrielle Blair, Founder DesignMom.com

"The Mom’s Guide is compelling without using scare tactics or manipulation. Every page is full of great information." – Jessica Gottlieb, Eco Child’s Play

"A dedicated eco-mom delivers practical guidelines for greening your world. Wellington will teach you how to raise a green family and provide tools to become an environmentally conscious citizen. Written with the busy mom in mind, advice ranges from simple suggestions for reducing waste to full-blown eco-overhauls for the home, such as getting your house LEED-certified." – Ann Wycoff, VIV Magazine

"Author Terra Wellington helps moms navigate the clutter of green choices and determine what's best for their families and the environment. Moms can explore ways to live consciously, shop wisely and embrace the green life." – Justin Williams, The News Journal and Gannett News Service

"It’s not meant for hardcore environmentalists, but for people like us who just want to do our part to protect the planet and its limited resources." – Top-Ten Examiner for Family and Parenting Channel Jackie Kass, Examiner.com

"This is an easy to apply guide filled with hundreds of green tips. There’s something for everyone to start doing their part in saving the earth!" – Kimberly Coleman for MomintheCity.com and contributor at New York Metro Parenting Guide

"This practical guide is jam-packed with hundreds of "green" suggestions that can help us save our environment. For example, Wellington suggests that we contact the manager of our neighborhood grocery store to make certain that it carries locally grown produce, we buy coffee that is USDA organic and fair trade certified, and we keep our family diets free of food tainted with pesticides, hormones, antibiotics or genetic engineering." – Larry Cox, Tucson Citizen

Read More

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >