Are you planning to decorate your home, yard and garage with those old strings of incandescent lights this holiday season? According to the St. Louis County Health Department, it is time to make the switch to LED lights. Most strings of incandescent lights are wrapped with a hard plastic PVC coating, which protects the wire inside. This coating is a problem for our landfills taking up to 500 years to breakdown. In addition, PVC is heat resistant and sometimes contains metals such as lead, cadmium and tin that are harmful once they make it into the ground.
So what are the benefits of using LED lights for your holiday decorating and light displays? Consider the following facts about LED lighting as reported by the St. Louis County Health Department:
- LED lights use one tenth of the energy when compared to a traditional strand of holiday mini-lights. Using less energy means a lower electric bill.
- They last two times longer than incandescent lights – that’s up to 20 years!
- LEDs can withstand, heat, cold and moisture making them ideal for outdoor displays.
- These energy efficient lights are cool to the touch reducing the risk of fire.
- The brightness of LED lights does not fade over time.
- They are durable and harder to break than traditional holiday lights.
- LEDs can be found at most home improvement centers and hardware stores.
Before you throw those old light strands in the trash, check locally for a recycling/collection program. Many hardware stores and home improvement stores offer collection programs, and some even give a discount on the purchase of new LED holiday lights for every strand of old lights you recycle.
So, be earth-friendly this holiday season and decorate your house, garage and yard with LED lights.
Did you know the Thursday before Thanksgiving is Use Less Stuff Day? It is a day for us to commit or pledge to reduce our resource consumption during the holiday season. It is time for all of us to start a new holiday tradition. Get your kids, family and friends involved and make the commitment to work toward an earth-friendly holiday season.
These ideas should help you get started:
- Plan to recycle. Set up bins to collect gift boxes, wrapping paper, holiday greeting cards and envelopes, beverage cans and bottles. Tell your guests what to recycle and where to place the items so they don’t end up in the trash can.
- Use fewer disposable paper products and eating utensils. Rent dinnerware, glassware and silverware for a large holiday party or ask guests to bring their own for a smaller gathering. This will eliminate paper plates and plastic cups, forks, knives, etc. from going in the trash.
- Use less energy. A large crowd will warm your home. Turn the thermostat down a few degrees before guests arrive.
- Don’t buy too many groceries or prepare too much food for a holiday gathering. If you do prepare too much, send leftovers home with guests or reheat them the following day for yourself. Try your best not to throw away usable food.
The commitment is easy. Tell your friends and family about Use Less Stuff Day and make a pledge to participate in an earth-friendly holiday season without sacrificing the fun and joys all of us look forward to each year.
For more ideas about Use Less Stuff Day, please visit www.use-less-stuff.com.
We used to think going green was a trend, but it has become our way of life. We are expected to make green choices in everything we do from recycling our newspaper and properly disposing of hazardous chemicals to conserving energy and building with green materials. There are many things we can do around the house to live more green, and your garage or utility building are no exception. If you are planning to build a new detached garage plan, shed or outbuilding plan, there are some things you can do to green your new structure. Here are a few suggestions from The Garage Plan Shop:
· Use metal when possible. If you have an opportunity to use metal standing seam roofing or even metal cladding you are making a green choice. Metal construction does not require the use of harmful chemicals and wood treatments used in the lumber of traditional wood construction, and it is 100% recyclable should you no longer need your garage, shed or outbuilding.
· Install windows in your garage for natural lighting. Using natural lighting whenever possible cuts back on energy consumption. If you plan to spend a lot of time inside your garage, you can reduce energy bills by installing large windows and perhaps skylights.
· Incorporate earth-friendly lighting. The exterior of your garage, shed or outbuilding can be lit with the use of solar lights. Use LED bulbs in interior and exterior light fixtures. Consider using motion sensor lights that turn on when you pull in your driveway or walk on the sidewalk saving energy and money. These fixtures will light the way until they no longer detect your motion and will turn off automatically. You won’t have to remember to flip the switch.
· If your garage is near your home or attached to the home, do not store flammable chemicals inside, such as a gasoline and oil containers or paint cans. Store them away from the house is a small, locked utility shed that has good ventilation.
These simple ideas will help you build an earth-friendly garage, shed or outbuilding plan.
It is no secret that people use their garage for more than just parking the family cars. Whether attached or detached, garage plans can have a wide range of functions ranging from parking and storage of the lawn mower to a storage space for toys, workshop, office, or rainy day play space for the kids. It is also a great place to load and unload the kids and groceries. As much as we use our garages, it is necessary that we do as much as we can to make our garages green and pollutant free giving the whole family a healthier garage space to use. The Garage Plan Shop, recommends the following tips for greening your garage and making it more healthy:
- Get rid of hazardous substances: Removing hazardous substances from your garage is the most immediate thing you can do to make it more green and healthy for everyone. Often, the garage is a storage space for gas cans, oil containers, weed killers, fertilizers, paints and stains and cleaning supplies, not to mention chlorine and other pool chemicals for homeowners with a backyard pool. Go through your garage carefully reading labels on all of these items. Determine which of these items you need or want to keep and choose another storage space for them away from the home such as a backyard garden shed. Keep it locked so it is inaccessible to children. Responsibly get rid of anything you do not need to keep. Contact your local hazardous waste facility to find out about proper disposal.
- Seal your garage walls and insulate: If you have an attached garage, it is necessary to seal off cracks between the garage and adjacent rooms. This will stop the passage of contaminated air into the living areas. Seal up cracks where the drywall meets the floor or framing with caulk or expanding foam. Don’t forget to seal around duct work, electrical boxes, vents and lighting. If you don’t already have insulation in the walls where living spaces are attached to your garage, add it. Insulation acts as an extra barrier against air filtration.
- Install and exhaust fan: In most cases, the garage is the primary space to store your cars. Unless you drive an electric vehicle, your car exhausts pollutants, fumes and odors every time you start it. If you garage is attached to your home, these pollutants and fumes can seep into your home. Not only does your car exhaust carbon monoxide, but it also emits sulfur dioxide, dust and other particulates that are not healthy to breathe. Install an exhaust fan to remove these harmful gases and particles from your garage. The size and positioning of your exhaust fan will depend on the size of your garage, so consult a professional before you make a purchase.
Whether you have an attached or detached garage, these tips will help protect you and your family from contaminated air and pollutants making your garage green, healthy and safe for everyone.