Archive for February, 2008

Glowy Owl Eyes

February 29th, 2008


There were a couple of things left behind by the previous homeowner that I’m still learning something new about each day.   Cast in point: These iron owl fireplace accessories. 

There’s a whole matching set of tools that go along with these retro looking pieces.   They work with the house and I’m going to keep them with the house.

The other day, when there was a bit of a chill in the air, I decided to bring in some firewood and light up a cozy fire.   When I left the room and walked back, that’s when I noticed that the glass eyes in the owls lit up with a slightly eerie glow.    It felt very Harry Potter movie-esque to me. 

Needless to say, I loved it.

You just don’t find home products like this anymore.   

Here’s a more detailed shot:


Quiz Week: How old is your toilet?

February 28th, 2008


How old are your toilets?

A:   They are brand new.

B:    They are antiques that came with house.

ANSWER:   Any toilet made before 1994 is likely to be using a whopping 5 gallons of water per flush.     A


government mandate that began in 1995 requires that all new toilets installed in homes use no more than 1.6 gallons of water per flush. 

Even if your old toilets are in great shape, it’s worth replacing them with a low-flow toilet.   In some communities, they are collecting vitreous porcelain and crushing them down for use in roads… but those instances are rare.    If you can’t find a place to recycle it, send it packing to the landfill.  The overall eco benefits of a water saving toilet far outweight the disposal.

Today, even greener toilets are coming to market called Dual Flush toilets, which use just .8 gallons of water or the standard 1.6 gallons.  You push Button #1 when you need to flush, um, #1….and #2 when….  You get the point.

Quiz Week: Dry Cleaning Shirts

February 27th, 2008


How many dress shirts do you dry clean every week?

A:    I wash and press them myself.

B:    Just a few

C:    My frequent dry cleaning punch card is full

ANSWER:  It’s well-known that dry cleaning is bad for the environment.    Almost 95% of traditional dry cleaners use a chemical called Perc, which is a solvent to get all the stains and spots out of clothes.    Perc, unfortunately, is a carcinogen which has been linked to bladder and cervical cancer and eye, nose, throat and skin irritations.   Even freshly dry cleaned clothes brought home, the perc residue can continue to offset into your own home.   And not to mention the waste of plastic bags and wire hangers for your clothes.

The solution isn’t wrinkled shirts:  It’s machine washable wrinkle-resistant shirts.    100% cotton dress shirts are woven with a resin—which gives the fabric “memory”—which minimizes wrinkles and gives it a smooth appearance after washing.    Many dress shirts are now made with this technology, so you can wash them in energy-efficient cold water at home along with an eco-friendly detergent.    No more dry cleaning and always perfect wrinkle-free shirts.   

Quiz Week: Fridge Running?

February 26th, 2008


How old is your refrigerator in your apartment?

A:    It’s brand new and Energy Star rated.

B:    5 Years Old

C:    A Relic!   It’s as old as the building is.

ANSWER:   Since a refrigerator is on 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, it is one of the biggest energy hogs in a home.    If your refrigerator is more than 10 years old, replace it: it’s likely to be using twice as much energy today as the first day you plugged it in.  Most home improvement stores will recycle your old fridge properly when you buy a new one, so you need not worry about it going to a landfill.   

If your fridge is just a few years old, be sure to pull it a few inches away from the wall to allow for air to circulate, so it doesn’t work harder to keep cool.  Also, keep the freezer as full as possible, which helps it stay cooler with less energy.

And when you do look for a new fridge, look for the Energy Star logo, which identifies the most energy efficient appliances in their category and will be up to 40% more efficient, saving you money, too.

Quiz Week: Dishwashing

February 25th, 2008


Is washing dishes by hand or being lazy and using a dishwasher better for the environment?

A:     Always by hand, because it saves water.

B:     In the dishwasher, because I don’t have time.

C:     I only use disposable plates.

ANSWER:  Clearly, disposable is not the greenest choice.    But believe it or not, using a dishwasher is actually the lazier and greener choice!    Washing dishes by hand can use up to 50 percent more water than a water-efficient, Energy Star rated dishwasher.    New models of diswashers today— from companies like Bosch—use only 4 gallons of water and up to 41% less energy.       The best eco-solution is to fill up a dishwasher and run it when it’s full.