Friday, January 30, 2009

Learning something new about mattresses?

As I make my way around the internet looking for more environmentally friendly articles and websites I find I learn something new every day.

Over the past several weeks I have been educated about mattresses. Sounds like a sleeper to you maybe, but in the recycling world mattresses are a big problem.
Picture a dump site with piles of mattresses.

Mattresses at the landfill
Those mattresses would sit there almost forever and take up more space to boot. In addition mattress can not be compacted so they take up a lot of space at the landfill.

Well, I met a guy who is working hard to fight this issue. He is Chuck Brickman from OHIO Mattress Recovery and Recycling. His company is working hard to keep mattresses out of the waste stream.

Chuck says that 94% of the materials in mattresses is recyclable. He has sources for each of the materials that are removed from each mattress. The fiber covering gets reclaimed. The springs are taken to a metal recycler. And any wood from the box springs are used mainly for fire wood.

He is currently working with colleges and universities to add mattress recycling to their sustainability and green programs. Other sources are hotels and motels who may be upgrading their rooms.

Chuck has just updated the web site for Ohio Mattress Recovery and Recycling to give his customers a better understanding of his business. He also has a blog now, which allows him to regularly update on the progress of this important green business. Stop by and check out his web page to see what happens to mattresses.

Keep up the good work Chuck!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Energy Efficiency for All?

Here is a question I ponder regularly: What would it take to help the less fortunate live in an energy efficient home or apartment? Why should they be paying the full cost of utilities and water. Shouldn't they be able to save money on their energy bills also?

Brad Pitt is helping people in New Orleans get back on their feet by building energy efficient homes. Could this happen to others living in the most poverty stricken areas of your city? Maybe not to that extend, but for parts?

How about just the insulation? It would help reduce the heating bills in the winter and less strain on air-conditioning and electric bills in the summer.

OK, maybe the windows? How many landlords have Energy Star windows installed in their apartment buildings, only to leave the tenants deciding whether to pay for heat or food?
So much for sustainability on the side of the owners.

I know deep down it is a large task and would take a lot of money to get accomplished. But it would be a worthwhile venture. What would the benefits be? We know what the environmental benefits would be. Let's not talk green, but practically.

I would think that you know what the overall benefits would be to a family of four living on less than $20,000 per year. Now think about how this could be accomplished.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Watching your electric consumption.

How much electricity do you use in a day? Not sure?
Take your electric bill and look at the kilowatt hour (kwh) usage for the month.
Then take that total amount of kwh used and divide that by the number of days for that billing period. This will give you the average daily kwh used.

Is that easy enough for you? It is, but how do I know exactly what I used for a particular day?
That would be a tough one.T.E.D. Unless you sit and watch your electric meter.

I recently found a device out there that can give you that information.
T.E.D. Electricity Monitor will show you the electricity used and how much that will cost.
And get this, it will update it every second. Can you imagine watching what you are spending on electricity by the second? Then you can also get the optional software interface and look at this information on your computer. You can manipulate the data to show graphically what you use and spend daily, weekly, and monthly.

The company claims that you can watch your electric usage go up and down depending on what is being used or not being used at that moment. The base unit costs $140.00. The software interface costs an additional $45. So for a total of around $200 you can monitor your full electrical usage by the second.

Because you can see what you are spending in "real time" you may be more apt to shut things down saving you in electric costs. This savings would be the pay back for the unit.
I would say that makes this a useful item to have. I will have to invest in one with money from our tax return.

Kill-A-WattAnother option to see how much you are spending on electricity is a Kill-A-Watt Electricity Load Meter and Monitor. This unit only costs about $20- 25 depending where you get it. The Kill-A-Watt will allow you to find out which of your appliances, lamps and computers are actually costing you the most! Just plug them into the Kill-A-Watt electricity usage monitor and it will tell you how efficient they are. The Kill-A-Watt’s easily-readable LCD display measures consumption by the kilowatt-hour, just like the electric company.

Would you save money with one of these units? You probably would knowing how much you are spending on electricity for a particular appliance that has lost it's energy efficiency. I myself would find it challenging to see if I could lower usage knowing what sources use more electricity and which sources would reduce energy consumption.

The bottom line is reducing our overall energy consumption. If tools such as these can help I am all for it.