11 Benefits of LED Lighting

LED Benefits

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (PDF), the average American household spends approximately $114 every month on electricity. And if you aren’t using energy-efficient lighting, you could be spending even more than that. This is where light-emitting diodes can help.

Light-emitting diodes, commonly known as LED’s, are one of the most efficient lighting technologies currently available to consumers. There are a number of reasons why you should consider using this type of lighting in your home. Below, we will highlight eleven benefits you should expect from using LED lighting.

1. Available for a Number of Products

LED lighting has a wide range of uses, from your basic household lamp, to large industrial buildings and even for infrastructure lighting. LED technology is becoming increasingly more common in parking garages, parks and even in streetlights.

Around the home, you can use LED bulbs for better lighting in your kitchen, making it easier to read recipes and measure ingredients while you cook, or you can place them in hallways, bathrooms and other places where traditional incandescent bulbs don’t provide enough light. LED bulbs can easily replace the 40-, 60- and 75-watt bulbs in your home, and save you plenty of money as a result.

LED Bulb

To figure out which type of LED bulb is best for different areas of your home, read the label on the box to help you determine which type is right for your intended location.

2. LED Lights Are Safer

If you have babies, toddlers or even a rambunctious pet or two, you probably spend more than a few minutes a day worrying about their safety. There are many ways to childproof your home, one of which is to replace traditional lightbulbs with LED bulbs.

Traditional bulbs can get very hot, very quickly. This leaves those little hands susceptible to being burned the moment they touch the lightbulb. This may not be much of a concern for lights attached to ceiling fans or other light fixtures, but there are many ways that curious children can get their hands on lightbulbs while in use, including night lights, table lamps and even Christmas lights. LED lighting emits very little heat, so while you should still warn your children against touching them, they will not cause severe pain if an accident does happen.

Traditional bulbs are also made of glass, making them vulnerable to breaking rather easily. The last thing you want is hot glass to break around your children. LED bulbs, on the other hand, are made of durable epoxy lenses, so it takes much more strength to break one. On a side note, it’s also wise to know how to clean up a broken CFL bulb, as this can bring a whole other host of health concerns.

3. LED Lighting is Eco-Friendly

LED lighting is popular among the environmentally conscious for several reasons. First, the technology uses no toxic chemicals, unlike CFL bulbs that use mercury and other potentially hazardous materials. Not only does this eliminate your risk of exposure, it also makes it easier for you to get rid of the bulb when you’re done with it.

LED bulbs are also 100 percent recyclable, whereas incandescent bulbs aren’t and CFL bulbs need to be taken to a special drop-off point to be recycled.

But the main reason that LED bulbs are eco-friendly, is because they use a fraction of the energy that other lightbulbs use, and they also last significantly longer. Not only does this help you reduce your overall carbon footprint, but you end up spending less money on both electricity and replacement bulbs.

4. Does Not Cause UV Emissions

LED Lighting is Eco-Friendly

Another great benefit of LED lighting is that it does not emit any ultraviolet (UV) light and very little infrared light. You can use LED for items that are sensitive to heat or UV rays, such as priceless art or your wine collection. This is precisely why this type of lighting is becoming commonplace in art galleries and at archaeological dig sites across the globe.

5. Flexible Design

Light-emitting diodes can be combined into any shape to allow you to create just the right illumination for the space you’re trying to light. Additionally, you can dim diodes individually, allowing for total control over the amount of light, its color and where you distribute it. Airplanes and classrooms have been using the technology for years thanks to its design capabilities.

6. Can Operate in Extreme Temperatures

LED bulbs are designed to withstand extreme temperatures. These bulbs are an ideal choice in hot weather because they won’t become so overheated that they burst, nor will they create extra unwanted heat. On the flip side, they are also popular in cold weather because they can withstand frigid outdoor temperatures, making them a great choice if you want to put out holiday decorations in a cold climate. We’ve also found that restaurants are starting to use them for walk-in freezers that lack good lighting.

7. Brightens Instantly

Both incandescent and CFL lightbulbs can take a few moments to reach their full brightness, but LED bulbs reach 100 percent brightness instantly. They are also great for rooms where the lights go on and off frequently. Switching other types of lightbulbs on and off many times throughout a day can greatly reduce its overall life span, but doing so with an LED bulb does not have a negative affect its performance or durability. It will light up to its full brightness and continue to last for many years, no matter how frequently you turn them on and off.

8. Don’t Need High Voltage

LED lighting is popular for walkways and other outdoor areas because it doesn’t need a high-voltage power source. This is an essential benefit for outdoor use. Since LED lights only need a low amount of power, outdoor lights can charge via a solar energy source and remain bright throughout the night.

9. Can Last For Years

Once you screw in and start using an incandescent bulb, it has approximately 2,000 hours of use before it burns out. An LED bulb can last approximately 50,000 hours, some may even last up to 100,000 hours before needing to be replaced.

For the sake of perspective, let’s imagine that you never turn these bulbs off. The incandescent bulb will only last you 83 days before it needs to be replaced. In contrast, an LED bulb will last at least anywhere between 2,083 to 4,166 days before you need to replace it. That’s over eleven years of nonstop use!

11 Benefits of LED Lighting

Now that you know the potential life span of this technology, imagine how you currently use the lights in your home, and how long an LED bulb will last with that amount of use.

10. LED Lights Are Energy Efficient

Another main benefit of LED lighting is how little energy they use. According to Energy.gov, residential LED bulbs use 75 percent less energy than an incandescent bulb, and it lasts 25 times longer than a traditional bulb. Traditional lightbulbs only operate at 20 percent efficiency. That means 80 percent of the energy they use is simply generating heat, not light. LED bulbs are much more efficient at 80 percent to 90 percent.

11. Saves You Money

The above ten benefits of LED lighting all lead up to what might be the most important benefit of all — LED lighting will save you a bunch of money!

Many people are initially turned off by the upfront cost of these bulbs because they cost more. This is understandable, but once you do the math and consider the amount of savings you will receive over the years, it just makes sense. Here’s some numbers to consider:

  • An incandescent bulb that costs $1 will still equal out to more than $50 over the course of 20 years due to how often you’ll have to replace it.
  • An LED bulb that costs $5 will still only be $5 after 20 years since it’s not likely to need replacing.

And these numbers above don’t even factor in the amount of money you will save from using less energy. Once you consider the amount of money you save on your monthly energy bill, there’s simply no denying that LED lighting is the obvious choice for homeowners.

It’s easy to see that LED lighting benefits far outweigh the drawbacks. By switching all the bulbs in your home to LED, you are guaranteed to save a bunch of money and energy, while simultaneously reducing your carbon footprint.

10 Tips for Protecting Your Plants in Winter

indoor plant in winter

Your garden doesn’t have to die when winter’s chill sets in. Trees, bushes, succulents and perennials can easily be kept alive through the cold of winter and revived again in the spring. Whether you’re facing an unexpected cold snap or preparing your garden for a long winter’s rest, it’s important to protect your plants from frozen soil, frost and snow. Use these 10 tips for winter garden care and watch your plants come to life again year after year.

1. Know Your Plant’s Hardiness

plant in a pot

Each plant has a hardiness rating that gives growers important information about how much cold it can tolerate, and for how long. Robust selections have a lower rating and are referred to as “hardy”, and delicate selections with a higher rating are referred to as “tender”. However, a plant’s hardiness is also determined by its maturity: a young shoot may not survive a freeze that a more mature tree would weather easily.

It is important that you know the hardiness rating of your trees, vines, bushes and flowers, as well as how they relate to the expected temperatures in your own area. With the right care, many plants can survive colder temperatures than their rating predicts.

2. Plant for Protection

Very tender flowers, herbs and succulents can be grown in pots and moved indoors during a chill. If grown outdoors as a part of your landscape, they should not be placed in exposed or low locations. Placement near a southern or western wall offers the greatest protection, but planting near other trees, bushes and tall vegetation also affords some shelter from wind and extreme temperatures. Raised beds guard delicate roots and stems from drainage damage and death by ground frost.

3. Invite Plants Indoors

The easiest way to protect potted greens is to bring them indoors. Pots can be moved into the house and incorporated into your décor, or can be placed in a garage, shed or sunroom. It is important to be sure your plants are still receiving adequate sunshine for their needs, but of course not more sun or heat than they can tolerate. Don’t place pots near vents as the air there will be too dry. Don’t place them too close to cold windows either, as cold can be transferred to the leaves and damage them. If a container is too big or heavy to move, wrap it in blankets or mulch around the sides to protect the roots and base.

4. Water Thoroughly

If you are anticipating a freeze but have a day or two to prepare, a proactive measure to take is to water the soil heavily. Dry soil freezes more quickly than wet soil does, and moist soil can protect the roots and keep the plant hydrated through the cold. Do not water succulents, which can’t abide excess moisture, and do not water already frozen ground or water before a very hard freeze.

5. Cover Your Ground

Before a frost settles in, apply a two- to four-inch layer of mulch around your tender plants. This insulates the root system and can keep the soil warm enough to continue providing moisture. It also protects them from the damage that can be caused by rapid changes in temperature. Unexpectedly warm weather can be as perilous as cold, evaporating a plant’s last reserves of moisture. If the ground remains frozen, the roots will be unable to replenish the water supply and may not survive the vacillating temperatures. Bark, sawdust and straw are excellent mulches, but a light covering of snow can also protect from frost and ground freeze.

6. Anti-Transpirant

Evergreens and newly transplanted shrubs can be sprayed with an anti-transpirant, which you can find at your local gardening center. This treatment creates an invisible polymer film on the surface that can protect your plant from winter drying and frost damage for up to three months. It should be sprayed on the leaves of a well-watered plant before cold weather sets in.

7. Share Your Covers

A simple sheet or blanket can provide adequate warmth during a light freeze or a short cold spell. The covering can be arranged directly on sturdy trees and bushes, but a frame should be made for more delicate greenery. A layer of plastic over the blanket will add protection, but plastic alone should not be used as it can damage the leaves.

8. Frame Your Flora

pvc plant

For long-term protection, you can build a frame from wooden stakes, PVC or metal rods, then cover with plastic, sheets or burlap. To ensure that you can use this structure over and over again, try building a frame that can be moved and stored easily. Coverings should not touch any leaves or branches, and should have a small opening to maintain some air circulation. Warm water jugs and even non-LED holiday lights can be placed around the base of plants to add warmth. Perennials can be protected by a wide, bell-shaped dome called a cloche, which guards the crown of the plant from cold and frost. Fold the fronds over the crown for insulation, then place the cloche over the entire bundle. Drape pine boughs over the enclosure to keep it from warming too much in the sun.

9. Insulate

Tall stalks and vines cannot be protected by mulch alone, but heavy mulching puts stems in danger of breaking off. A covered frame will offer some warmth, but for maximum defense the stalk should be tethered to a wooden stake and surrounded by insulation. Begin by pounding stakes in a circle or box around the tethered stalk, then covering the frame with burlap. Fill the enclosure with straw, leaves or another insulator. Warm jugs of water may be placed around the base to add heat, but lights and other heat sources should not be used as they may create a fire hazard.

10. Don’t Be Overprotective

Coverings like frames and cloches should not be left through the winter, but removed daily so plants receive adequate sunlight and fresh air, unless the day is unusually cold. Remove covers early in the day before condensation can build up. Mulch can stay until the spring, then can be raked away and incorporated into a compost bin.

Protecting your plants takes some planning, but it is worth the effort to preserve the perennials you’ve invested so much time and money into. With the right winter garden care, your flowers and trees will bloom year after year, rewarding your green thumb with their enduring vitality.

24 Tips for Cleaning the Natural Way

natural cleaning

Pesticides and harsh cleaning chemicals are damaging to the environment, but they’re also dangerous to you and your family. Even though the products are safe to purchase, these chemicals have been known to cause breathing problems and skin irritations when used incorrectly or over a long period of time.

In 2013, the most common poisons for children under six years old were cosmetics and personal care products, with cleaners coming in second. These two categories account for 25 percent of the reported 16,655 exposures. Even if you have older children, daily exposure isn’t good for them. Here are some recipes and tips for cleaning more naturally when you’re ready to make the change to green living.

For the Indoors

  1. Cleaning Glass: For a glass cleaner, use one-quarter cup of white vinegar to a quart of water in a spray bottle. Wipe it off with a lint-free cloth that is reusable.
  2. All-Purpose Cleaner: If you’re looking for an all-purpose cleaner, use one part vinegar to one part water. Use this on floors, countertops, and mirrors for cleaning without chemicals.
  3. Removing Oil Stains: Sometimes, you need a soft scrub material to get oil or stains off your stove or counter. Mix two cups of baking soda with one-half cup of liquid castile soap. Four teaspoons of vegetable glycerin will act as a preservative, but if you plan to use it quickly, you don’t necessarily need this element. You could also add an antibacterial essential oil for a cleaner aroma.
  4. Furniture Polish: Although most people don’t use furniture polish too often, you can make your own. Use one-quarter cup each of olive oil and white vinegar, mixed with two teaspoons of lemon juice. Use a clean cloth that you dip in this solution and rub the wood in the direction of the grain. If you have an intricate design, work with a soft brush.
  5. Freshener: Baking soda is a great cleaner and freshener. Sprinkle your toilet brush with it to clean the bowl and keep the brush from smelling between cleanings. Use baking soda on your grill or on pans that have baked on residue.
  6. Rug Cleaning: You can freshen up your rugs with baking soda. Sprinkle the baking soda over the intended area, wait at least 15 minutes or so, then vacuum it up. For stronger odors, leave on overnight.
  7. Detergent: Use one cup of baking soda in your laundry with your liquid detergent to make your clothes cleaner.
  8. cat litter
  9. Freshening Cat Litter: Baking soda absorbs odors in your trash can or kitty litter box. Sprinkle the powder in the bottom of the container before filling it with the litter. This will keep the litter bin smelling fresher for longer.
  10. Cleaning the Dishwasher: You can clean your dishwasher by running an empty cycle with just baking soda.
  11. Drain Cleaner: Instead of drain cleaner, put one cup of baking soda and one cup of hot vinegar down the drain. Don’t panic when it bubbles up–this is supposed to happen. When the reaction stops, flush the mixture down the drain with plenty of hot water so that the acid doesn’t damage your pipes.
  12. Kill Mold and Mildew: White distilled vinegar is an excellent antiseptic for mold and mildew instead of bleach.
  13. Fresh Aroma: Use essential oils to provide nice aromas to your home. Put a few drops on a cotton ball and set it in a small glass bowl in the room.
  14. Disinfectant: For a disinfectant spray, mix two teaspoons of borax with four tablespoons of vinegar. Add three cups of hot water. Place this mixture in a spray bottle.
  15. Reusable Sponges: For green living, don’t use disposable cleaning rags. Get sponges that are made of recycled material. Find reusable and washable cleaning cloths made of natural fibers. Keep them on hand in every room for quick clean-ups. Wash them often.
  16. Absorb Stains: Corn meal acts on carpet spills to absorb wet stains.
  17. Polisher: Everyone knows that club soda makes a great stain remover on clothes, but you can also use club soda to polish stainless steel.
  18. Grease Remover: If you need to cut through grease on your stove or countertop quickly, a bit of lemon juice will do the trick. Lemon juice also is a stain remover on countertops.
  19. Bathroom Cleaner: Tea tree oil is another natural disinfectant. Mix two teaspoons tea tree oil with one pint of water for a powerful cleaner for toilets and bathtubs. For a multipurpose cleaner, use one quart of water with 15 drops.
  20. lemon and baking soda

    If you do have to purchase household cleaners, be sure to look for non-toxic products that are biodegradable or natural. There are a number of new products that are eco-friendly, but you may have to read the labels to find them.

    For the Outdoors

    You can use the same type of natural cleaning products outside on your sidewalk and in your garden. There are a number of items that you have in your kitchen to keep away insects and rodents without using harmful pesticides and chemicals that not only get on your grass and flowers, but also get into the groundwater. Keep your pets, children and the environment safe with these tips for your garden:

  21. Kill Ants: Soapy water sprayed on ants or house flies will kill them. This is more effective with small infestations. Alternatively, a spray of white vinegar and water will kill the ants’ scent trails, making them unable to find their way. You can also use the drain cleaning solution of baking soda and vinegar on ant hills to destroy them.
  22. Avoid Maggots: If you have maggots on your trash cans, hot water will kill them just as effectively as a pesticide.
  23. Protect Plants: If you have mites or mealybugs on your plants, make a solution of one tablespoon of oil, a few drops of liquid soap, and one quart of water. Spray this solution on the leaves to smother the bugs.
  24. Prevent Mites: Small infestations of mites can be eliminated with rubbing alcohol. Dab on with a cotton ball.
  25. Deter Slugs: Dealing with slugs and snails in your garden is problematic. Keep them out with a barrier of crushed eggshells, hair (dog or human), or seaweed. They won’t travel over these things to get into your flowers and vegetables. Seaweed is a great fertilizer, too.
  26. Compost: Instead of using commercial fertilizer, start a compost pile. It reduces your carbon footprint in other ways, because instead of putting vegetable peels or coffee grounds in your garbage can, they get recycled in your garden.

6 Reasons Why You Should Avoid Cleaning With Bleach

cleaning bottles

Check the labels of your household cleaning products. You may be surprised just how many of these products contain bleach. Bleach is a highly hazardous chemical, and it can be found in many cleaning supplies, including toilet cleaners, stain removers, and tile residue removers. Many use these products without realizing the potentially harmful effects they can have on anyone exposed. Scientists continue to expose the dangers that bleach poses. Understanding why using bleach to clean can be dangerous and should be avoided will help you keep your home safe.

1. Bleach Can Be Dangerous for Children

Most people understand that bleach is highly toxic if swallowed, and would certainly prevent their children from doing so. What people do not realize, however, is that bleach can have adverse effects on children who simply live in a household where it is often used to clean. When used as a cleaning agent, bleach remains on surfaces and continues to emit fumes. Recent studies have revealed that children who have had exposure to bleach in their homes are more likely to suffer from respiratory illness. In addition, various studies have linked the use of bleach in a household to a higher prevalence of asthma and allergies. By avoiding the use of this chemical, you can help keep your kids healthy.

2. Bleach Interacts With Other Household Chemicals

Not only is bleach harmful on its own, but its interactions with other commonly used chemicals can produce harmful reactions. When bleach comes in contact with ammonia, it can react to form chlorine gas, which causes cellular damage in the nasal passageways and lungs. The accidental mixture of these two products in homes has resulted in death. Chlorine gas can also form when bleach reacts with acids such as vinegar. Furthermore, the reaction of chlorine bleach and ammonia can create nitrogen tetrachloride, another highly toxic chemical. In addition to its toxicity, this chemical is highly explosive. The hazards of bleach byproducts contribute even further to the perils of using this chemical in your home.

A variety of household products, including window cleaners, dishwasher detergents, and drain cleaners can react negatively. When using bleach to clean your home, you have the added worry of an accidental reaction between cleaning products that can endanger your entire household. The potential for dangerous reactions with other chemicals is just another reason to keep cleaning supplies with bleach out of your home.

3. Bleach Has Harmful Effects on Your Body


The more you use chlorine bleach, the more you endanger yourself and your family with its harmful ramifications on the body. To start off, inhaling bleach causes damage to your lungs and organs. After accidentally inhaling the fumes, some individuals have reported feeling stinging in their nose and eyes, coughing, and lightheadedness, all of which are symptoms that indicate the corrosive properties of the substance.

Additionally, chlorine-based bleach can damage your skin and eyes. If left on skin, bleach can cause irritation and burning. Over very long periods of time, the chemical’s presence on skin can lighten skin pigment and permanently damage tissue. If bleach gets in your eye, it can have serious consequences. Your eye will become incredibly irritated and painful, and can suffer permanent tissue and vision damage if not completely rinsed out. Industrial bleach, which tends to be more diluted, can have these same impacts in much shorter periods of time.

4. Cleaning With Bleach Can Hurt Your Pets

While individuals often take many precautions to protect their children, they sometimes forget to watch out for their pets in the same way. Household bleach can be very harmful for cats, dogs, and other pets. While they generally won’t ingest the substance intentionally due to the potent smell, cleaning with bleach can inadvertently expose your animals. The products you utilize to clean your floors or wash your bedding can stay on a pet’s paws or fur. Cats and dogs often lick themselves, which can then cause them to ingest the harmful chemicals. Due to their small size, birds can become sick upon inhaling only a small amount of the fumes. Bleach poisoning in pets can result in vomiting, convulsions, and sometimes death.

5. Bleach Puts the Environment at Risk

Bleach can have harmful effects on a much larger scale than just your home. Chlorine-based bleach is often used in industrial processes and released into the environment in massive quantities. The impacts of this pollution have spurred many to argue for the restriction of bleach as an effort to protect health and the environment.

Often, manufacturers release bleach-containing waste into bodies of water. Once in the water, bleach reacts with other chemicals to form, among other products, dioxins. Dioxins are known to be highly dangerous toxins that can have serious impacts on health. Bleach also puts wildlife at risk; its byproducts have been linked to cancer in studies on laboratory animals. Environmental toxins created by bleach have lowered the populations of several species of birds and fish.

Bleach is especially damaging to the environment because it lingers for many years. Even small amounts of the toxic chemical can accumulate in air and water over time, which can eventually result in adverse health effects.

6. Alternatives to Bleach Can Be Just as Effective

baking soda

Fortunately, many alternative cleaning products are free of bleach and can clean your home just as effectively. For example, rubbing alcohol can be very effective for cleaning the plastic surfaces of electronics. Hydrogen peroxide is a nontoxic substance that can be used to disinfect household surfaces. Unlike bleach, hydrogen peroxide is safe to use around food products. Baking soda and white vinegar, which are non-toxic and non-corrosive, have been utilized to freshen fabrics, eliminate grease, and clean glass for years. Lastly, soap and warm water will clean just about anything in your home and do not present any risks to your health. Scrubbing with antibacterial soap will kill bacteria just like harsher chemicals.

Using bleach to clean your home puts you, your children, and your pets at risk. Make sure you understand the danger of bleach-based products before deciding to use them in your home. You may find that using an alternative can clean your home just as well without the hazard.

5 Tips for Growing Your Own Coffee Plant

coffee plants

Coffee is one of the most popular drinks available–and for good reason. Many people cannot even start their day properly without some form of caffeine. You might be among those people, and it can be a hassle to ensure you always have a stock of coffee at home or to make the daily trip to the nearest coffee chain location to pick up a cup of coffee before work.

If you have ever wondered what it would be like to grow your own coffee so that you have a supply always at the ready, know that it is easy to make that dream a reality. It is entirely possible to grow your own coffee plants, and by abiding by the following tips, you will be drinking your own entirely homemade coffee in no time. Having a keen eye for gardening certainly helps with the process, but even if you have never grown anything in your life, coffee plants are a great place to start.

1. Getting Started With Your Coffee Plant

If you decide to begin the lengthy process of growing your own coffee plant, you should be prepared to clear a good amount of space in your home. Many coffee gardeners choose to grow the plant indoors in order to have better control over the plant’s environment. You should place the coffee plant in a windowed room that will give the plant about four to five hours of sunlight every day. It is also possible to use artificial lighting. Make sure you give the plant plenty of room because they have been known to get pretty big.

You should also make sure the room you put your plant in remains between 60°F and 80°F throughout the day and does not go below 45°F at night. Maintaining a consistent temperature is crucial because exposing the plant to a particularly cold night even once is enough to kill it completely. Although growing coffee plants indoors is recommended for practical reasons, it is also good for you. Coffee plants emit a pleasant, sweet aroma that is certain to be enjoyable to any coffee lover. It is almost like having your own natural air freshener.

coffee beans

2. Germinating Your Coffee Beans

The amount of germination time you will need for your beans will depend upon their age. Seeds that are fresh should only take about two months to germinate, while older seeds can take about six months. First, you are going to need to pre-germinate the seeds. This involves soaking them for 24 hours. Sow the soaked seeds in wet vermiculite or damp sand where the excess water can drain. Once the seeds have been fully germinated, you can plant them in the soil you want.

3. Taking Care of Your Coffee Plant

Even if you have never done any gardening before, it is very simple to learn how to take care of your coffee plant. You need to water the plant every day, and it is vital to strike a balance between too much and too little water. Either scenario will result in the plant dying. The soil should be kept moist, but it also needs to be well-drained so that an excessive amount of water does not accumulate near the seeds and drown them. Whenever you do water your plant, make sure you use slightly warm water. Water that is too cold can prove to be a shock to the system and kill the plant. Lukewarm temperatures are ideal.

The ideal soil for your coffee beans should be slightly acidic. A pH balance between 4.2 and 6.0 is recommended. Although you do not necessarily have to use fertilizer with this plant, it definitely helps with yielding a higher return. It is suggested that you fertilize the plant once every two weeks between March and October. Use fertilizer once a month for the rest of the year. Make sure the fertilizer you use is water-soluble for the best results possible.

4. Harvesting and Preparing Your Seeds

Approximately two months after the seeds have fertilized, green berries will appear. About seven to nine months after that, those berries will turn red, which indicates that your beans have ripened. There should be two beans inside every berry. However, it is important to note that not every berry will change colors at the same time, so be careful about which berries you do and do not pick.

Once your ripe berries have been picked, the next step is to pulp them by hand and thoroughly wash them with water. You can ferment the beans until the pulp gradually falls off. While the beans are fermenting, you can rub them in your hands. After this, wash them again. This time when you wash them, pay attention to whether or not some beans float. If a bean floats, then it needs to be thrown away. You can dry the beans on a mesh screen until they have about 20% moisture content. One way to tell if they have achieved this is to take a bite out of one of the beans. If it is moist on the inside but kind of dry on the outside, then you have a winning combination.

5. Roasting the Beans

Once your beans are prepped, it is time to roast them. You should preheat your oven to 450°F and place the beans on a pan. Carefully place the beans so that no two beans are overlapping. Keep the beans in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes. Depending on the type of roast you want, you should adjust your cook time to a shorter or longer amount of time. You may hear popping sounds as you roast your beans. This is completely normal. The beans are simply cracking due to their expansion.

Even if you are not that experienced with gardening, anyone can learn how to grow their own coffee plants. By growing your own beans, you are bound to brew the freshest cup of coffee you have ever had. Coffee is a great pick-me-up in the morning, and it has been linked to numerous health benefits. It is loaded with nutrients and antioxidants, so if you have never had coffee before in your life, now is as good a time as any to start caffeinating. You can even share your own excess coffee beans with friends and family to give them a truly unique drink.

7 Ways to Save Money With Your Landscaping

xeriscaping landscape

Today, more than ever, there is an increasing concern about conserving natural resources. Smart landscaping is one of the ways you can save money on your bills and conserve water and power. Let your yard do the work of maintaining itself without requiring costly resources. Here are several ways to use you landscaping to minimize expenditure and waste.

1. Xeriscape

Xeriscaping is a system of landscaping that cuts down on the amount of supplemental watering necessary for maintenance, and sometimes eliminates it altogether. The first principle of xeriscaping is that any plants that are used should be native to the climate and therefore able to survive on the amounts of water that are naturally provided by the environment. For example, in California and Arizona, xeriscaping would involve using native desert plants that are able to live on the small amounts of rainfall each year. The type of soil used is also a factor. At times, compost or mulch will be used to retain moisture, or a gravelly soil may be more appropriate to certain types of plants.

2. Create a Patio

Instead of planting your front or back yard areas with grass or a lot of shrubbery, consider putting in a patio. This will be a one-time expense that will reduce the areas that need continuous watering or other types of maintenance such as pruning, resulting in a lower water and energy bill. For added benefits, choose patio materials that are easy to clean and maintain. This is an attractive alternative to planting shrubs, flowers or grass, all of which tend to be energy and labor intensive.

3. Reduce Grass

Rolling green lawns are the chief culprits behind many water bills. Especially in hot climates, grass can take excessive amounts of water to maintain a pristine appearance, and most people are reluctant to see their lawns turn brown and splotchy. There are many alternatives to maintaining a grassy lawn that will save watering as well as the energy and labor for mowing, seeding and other upkeep. Some lawns can simply be paved over, while a more elaborate option is installing a rock and gravel garden instead. Drought-resistant plants and shrubs can also provide a landscaped appearance while requiring minimal resources.

isolated tree

4. Plant Trees for Shade

Depending on your climate and your home’s location, your air conditioning could be working overtime for as much as half the year, sending your electric bill sky high. If this is the case, some careful tree planting can help you cut down your air conditioning needs. Plant shade trees that will protect the areas of your house that tend to heat first and most. If possible, choose trees that are native to your region and will not require excessive watering to thrive.

5. Tiny House

While many people find themselves embracing energy and resource efficient modifications to their usual lifestyle, the tiny house movement takes this idea a step further. In a nutshell, tiny house proponents advocate taking up as little living space and resources as possible. Tiny houses range from 400 square feet to as little as 80 square feet and are often built using found and recycled materials. These houses use far less water and resources than typical houses and have a smaller environmental footprint.

While not everyone is ready to reduce their living space to this extreme, principles from the tiny house movement can be useful in guiding homeowners to a way of life that maximizes conservation. Paring down the consumption of non-essential items and a habit of thinking about and evaluating the necessity of water and power expenditures can make a big difference in reducing bills and introducing efficiency measures.

6. Efficient Irrigation

Once you have reduced the need for irrigation as far as possible, check your existing system to ensure that it is not wasting any water. Sprinklers should be aimed properly so that water only lands on the area that needs it. If you notice that your sprinklers are generating spray and mist, this means that the water pressure is too high. Turn down the pressure to get larger water drops that will not drift off with the wind.

Shrubs, vegetables, flowers and other plants should not be served by sprinklers. Install an efficient drip irrigation system that will let water go straight to the roots without spraying leaves and flowers. Blooms and leaves do not need to be watered, and excess moisture can actually cause fungus and other diseases, in addition to wasting water. Another good and affordable alternative to sprinklers is using a soaker hose, which is more efficient than a sprinkler and, when strategically positioned, will meet your watering needs with up to 70% less water.

Whether you are using sprinklers or drip irrigation, or a combination of the two, timing is also an important factor. Set the sprinkler timer to early in the morning, so that the water is absorbed with minimum evaporation and without providing the breeding ground for pests and fungi that can result from night watering.

7. Cut Down on Fertilizers

Over-fertilizing can lead to dead plants and grass, can cost you a lot of money, and can upset the balance of the soil, making it harder to grow anything else. Instead, check your soil’s composition and balance, and only add nutrients as needed. Planting native species will also cut down on the need to modify your garden’s soil composition. Be aware of the natural cycles of your plants so that you know when it is normal for them to be dormant–this will help you avoid over-watering and over-fertilizing when it is not needed.

Many people are concerned with ways to maintain attractive landscaping around their house without spending exorbitant amounts of money. With increasing awareness of the need to save on water and energy, there are many options today for a landscape that will not drain your money. In fact, some of these useful features will continue to save money for years to come. The most efficient yard work options will depend on the location of your house, as well as the climate you live in. It is important to remember that even when the most efficient options may not be feasible, it pays to look for alternatives that can still reduce your bills significantly.

8 Benefits of Having a Tiny Yard

tiny yard family

The average American home has been getting bigger every year, with homes built in 2013 topping out at about 2,600 square feet. Tiny homes are a budget-friendly, eco-conscious reaction to these giant houses being built in every corner of America, and they have been rapidly gaining popularity.

Choosing to live in a tiny house with a tiny yard can mean big benefits for those who choose to take a different and more unique path to home ownership. A tiny home and yard can be a budget friendly way to experience home ownership, and it can be easy to personalize such a small space quickly and cheaply. Tiny homes also offer a greener, more Earth-friendly alternative to the newer, larger subdivision tract homes that have been popping up all over the nation. If you’ve been thinking about building or buying a tiny home and yard, read on to discover the big benefits that these small spaces can offer.

1. Smaller Utility Bills


A tiny yard and home means smaller utility bills simply because there isn’t as much space that needs heat or electricity. Fewer resources are needed to heat or cool your living space, and maintaining a little yard requires little to no power or electricity since all the landscaping can be done by hand. Sometimes a full-sized lawnmower isn’t even necessary.

2. Smaller Water Bills

Along with your utility bills being generally smaller, a huge benefit to having a tiny yard and home is that your water bill will go down significantly. With a tiny yard, you will no longer have a ton of grass or plants to water, and there will be no need for sprinkler systems or automatic timers. A tiny yard can be watered by hand with a hose as needed, and many home owners have chosen to install graywater systems, where water from showers, laundry, and cleaning is filtered and re-purposed for use in the garden, making the water that you’ve already paid for do double duty.

3. Fewer Landscaping Needs

Having a home with a big yard can mean big responsibility. A smaller yard means there are less materials needed to have and maintain a yard, and that you don’t have to worry as much about upkeep. You can also be more creative with your landscaping options, and choose to have ground cover plants, flowers in pots, or gravel instead of grass. With less space to maintain, you also need fewer landscaping tools, less yard equipment, and you can focus on the quality of the plants you buy instead of the quantity of plants.

4. Less Time Spent Working in the Yard

One of the main benefits to having a small home with a small yard is that there is no need to spend hours working on your outdoor space. The last thing many people want to do on the weekend or after work is mow the lawn or weed flowerbeds, and with a small yard, you won’t have to spend your free time maintaining all that green space–that is if you even choose to have grass at all. What landscaping you will need to do is incredibly scaled-down and much more manageable. Less yard maintenance means that you have more free time to spend doing things you actually want to do, and your free time isn’t spent working on yard upkeep or other lawn chores.

5. Smaller Budget, Bigger Impact

Renovation plans for a large home and yard can be expensive, time consuming, and overwhelming. And even if one space has been renovated, there could be other areas that still need attention, making the renovations seem ongoing and endless. With a tiny lot, even a small renovation can make a big difference, and because the square footage is much smaller, there is a drastic difference in cost and materials than if you were renovating a larger area.

When working on an outdoor space, deciding that you want to install pavers or have some pretty outdoor lighting can be an expensive change in a regular-sized area. But with a tiny yard, your design options are just as varied, but it can be much cheaper to get the look you want in your space simply because you don’t have as much square footage to work in. With a tiny yard, you can still get the look you want but for much less money, and with such a small space to work in, any change can make a big impact.


6. Intimate Appeal

A smaller yard can have a cozier, more intimate feel to it, something that larger yards just can’t compete with. Because of the size, guests have to stay close by, which encourages conversation and socializing, and everyone can feel included. Having a friendly tiny yard can make dinner parties more enjoyable, enable you to inject your personality into the space affordably, and it can make your guests feel right at home.

7. Tiny Carbon Footprint

With a tiny house and tiny yard, you can live in a much more environmentally responsible way. Choosing to install solar panels, composting toilets, and graywater systems in smaller spaces are not only easy on the environment and incredibly energy efficient, they are easy on your wallet, too. Because tiny lots require far less land and need fewer resources than larger lots (such as water and power), they are also environmentally beneficial. A tiny yard requires less power to be maintained, fewer resources to be kept alive, and costs less overall compared to the average sized home.

8. Add Your Character and Personality

An often-overlooked benefit to having a tiny home and yard is that smaller spaces allow you to inject your character and personality into the space much more easily. Larger areas can be too difficult or too expensive to infuse with your own individual tastes, but introducing character in a small space can make the area much more memorable, appealing and fun. Plus, with less square footage to work with, adding your own tastes to a space can be done for less money.

With their ease of upkeep, much lower installation and maintenance costs, and eco-friendly options, it’s easy to see why a tiny house with a tiny yard is so appealing. When it comes to tiny spaces, it really does seem to be that less is more.

8 Ways to Clean Your Home With Citrus

citrus cleaners

Many people are aware that citrus can be used as a cleaning agent, particularly because it has been included in many of the detergents and soaps on sale over the last few decades. What many people don’t realize, though, is that you can use citrus as a stand-alone cleaner in a variety of situations. Citrus products can also be combined with other natural cleaners–such as vinegar or baking soda–to produce homemade cleaners for a variety of surfaces. Check out these ways you can use citrus to make your housework easier and your home fresher, and enjoy a deep clean that is both economically and environmentally friendly.

1. Make Your Own Citrus Surface Cleaner

Using vinegar to clean countertops and other surfaces is no new trick, but the trade-off is that you always get stuck with the smell of vinegar around the house. Adding citrus to the mix not only helps cut down on that smell, but it adds another powerful and natural cleaner to your all-purpose spray. To make your own cleaner, fill a mason jar about three-quarters of the way with citrus peels, then add enough vinegar to totally submerge them. You can use any kind of citrus peels for this process. The most popular choices are orange, lime, grapefruit, or lemon peels.

This cleaner will not be ready straight away–it needs time to brew before it will be an effective deodorizer as well as a cleaner. This process will take about two to three weeks for the mixture to completely brew, so put it in a secure place–but not so out of the way that you’ll forget about it. It needs to be shaken about once per day to help the newly forming solution mix evenly. Once your time is up, you can drain off the liquid and use it to fill a spray bottle.

2. Deep Clean the Carpet

Citrus carpet freshener is a great way to loosen up dirt while giving the house a cleaner, lighter scent. To make this carpet freshener, you will need three to four tablespoons of freshly grated zest. Again, it does not matter what kind of citrus you use.

You’ll be combining this with one cup of borax and two cups of baking soda in a bowl. Use a whisk or another light utensil to mix the three ingredients thoroughly. Then, you just treat it like any other carpet freshener: sprinkle as needed, let it set a few minutes, and then vacuum away.

3. Steam Clean Your Microwave


Keeping a microwave clean is one of the toughest parts of taking care of a kitchen. The interior can be awkward to access at some angles, and the tough, nuked-on grime that can accumulate from just a dish or two does not always dissolve easily. One great way to take the effort out of this cleaning is to put some fresh lemon slices in a shallow and microwavable-safe bowl of water. Set the bowl in the microwave, and cook it on high for three minutes. After the timer goes off, let it stand for ten more minutes. For the last step, you should be able to wipe the microwave clean. The steam and citric acid should help to dissolve cooked-on deposits, and they can even help lighten some old stains.

4. Lightly Salted Lime Stovetops

Much like your microwave, grease and grime can build up on your stovetop. However, the cleaning process on your stove will be different than it is for your microwave. To clean your stovetop, sprinkle some salt over the area that needs a deep clean. Then, squeeze fresh lime slices over the salt until you wet it down thoroughly. The combination of the two will get you a light, gritty cleaner that cuts through tough spots that overwhelm your general cleaner.

5. Dissolve Hard Water Stains

This tip is great in the bathroom, but if you have hard water issues, it can be applied to any sink or drain around the house. Using half of a fresh lemon to scrub, you can cut through limescale and other deposits without having to rely on harsh cleaners that require gloves and other special tools to handle. This works on both porcelain and steel faucet fixtures, but you need to make sure to rinse the area thoroughly and dry it off afterward. Citric acid that is left to sit on steel for long periods of time can tarnish its surface.

6. Deep Clean the Garbage Disposal

If your garbage disposal is giving you that heady, well-used smell and a regular rinse is just not doing the job, try a few peels and some ice cubes. Make sure that you put a fair load down the drain, but also make sure not to overfill the disposal. Then, just run it until the ice and peels are completely gone, and your degreasing will be complete! Do this process every couple of weeks to keep the disposal fresh, and remember to rinse thoroughly as you use the disposal regularly to get the best results.

7. Citrus Power Stain Lifter


This one will remind you a little of the carpet freshener recipe, but it has couple of extra twists to make it work better for concentrated stain fighting jobs. Take about a quarter cup of grated peels–the fresher the better–and combine them with two teaspoons of cream of tartar. Add in an eighth of a cup of borax and a cup of baking soda, then thoroughly shake it all together in a jar. Whenever you need to lift a stain quickly and without too much fuss, apply this mix to the area, and watch as it lifts the stain before your eyes. Just remember, blot, don’t rub, and rinse thoroughly as you clean the remnants, just like you would with any other stain fighter.

8. Whiter, Brighter Sneakers

Citrus is not limited to being a house cleaner. It turns out that you can use citrus fruits to freshen up some of your apparel as well. Lemon juice is a great natural bleaching agent that takes long enough to work that you generally don’t have to worry about light spills like you do with actual bleach. This makes it easy to use it for a variety of detailed cleaning and whitening jobs, like freshening up an old pair of sneakers. All you need to do for this process is rinse off any dirt or residue, then spritz them thoroughly with lemon juice and let them dry in the sun, and you are all set.

Keeping the house clean without using a lot of irritating chemicals is a lot easier once you understand just how effective fresh citrus fruits can be. Remember, these ideas are a starting point. You can try out zest and juice in some of your existing home remedies to see what else citrus can do for your household regimen. The best part of utilizing citrus as a cleaning agent around your house it that this cheap option leaves your house smelling clean and fresh without any chemical odors.

How to Clean Up a Broken CFL Bulb

Broken CFL

Using CFL (compact fluorescent light) bulbs in your house is a great way to protect the environment and save on energy bills. However, breaking one of these bulbs can create a dangerous situation. When you break a CFL bulb, you need to be very careful how you go about a cleanup process.

A broken CFL bulb can be very dangerous because these bulbs contain mercury, which is poisonous to humans and animals. A correctly performed cleanup operation will ensure that your home is safe and the people within it are not at risk for mercury poisoning. Cleaning up a broken bulb isn’t difficult or harrowing, though. It can be done all by yourself in just a few minutes. Here are a few tips to help you keep your family safe from harm.


Air Out Room

The room where the bulb has broken should be aired out before cleanup begins. This will allow the mercury in the air to dissipate. Instruct any people and pets to leave the room immediately, taking precautions to avoid the area where the bulb was broken. Once everyone has left the room, you should open windows, doors and vents to the outside, but not into the house. The last thing you want is to allow the spread of mercury throughout your home. Let the room air out for about 5 to 10 minutes, if possible.


Shut Off Any Air Supply

The next step to turn off any air supply you have running. Turn off any central air, heat pump or air conditioning systems you have operating in your home or in that specific room. These systems move air throughout your home and spreading air infected with mercury can be very dangerous.

Get Your Materials

There are several items you will need to properly clean up the broken CFL bulb. You will need stiff paper, cardboard or plastic to scoop up the broken glass. You will also need tape, dampened paper towels and cleaning wipes. A glass jar with a metal lid or a plastic bag is also necessary to get the job done correctly and safely. A glass jar with a tight fitting metal lid is the best item to dispose of the broken shards of glass because it keeps the mercury vapor sealed inside. If one is not available, a sealable plastic bag will do if you handle it as little as possible. You may also want to wear disposable gloves or gloves you don’t mind throwing away in order to prevent the glass shards from cutting your hands.

Collect Debris

After you’ve gathered what you need, re-enter the room where the bulb was broken. Leave the windows, vents and doors to the outside open in order to continue to let the mercury vapor dissipate. Using the cardboard, stiff paper or hard plastic, you can scoop up the pieces of glass from the floor. Place the shards into the glass jar or plastic bag. Use the tape to pick up the smaller pieces of glass. Make sure that all glass is removed from the hard surface or carpet.

Once the glass has been picked up and placed in the jar, use the damp paper towels to clean the affected area. Disposable disinfectant towels will also be good for this purpose. When you have cleaned the area with your disposable towel of choice, place it in the glass jar or plastic bag. If you wear gloves while cleaning up the mess, those should also be placed inside the jar or bag. You should then seal the jar or bag tightly.


If you are using a plastic bag to contain your debris, it must be removed from inside your home immediately. Plastic does not seal the mercury vapor inside, so it will continue to leak out into the air. Check your local regulations for the best way to properly dispose of the mercury infected items. Some places require you to dispose of the glass in a recycling center, but others allow you to simply throw it out with the trash. Make sure you know the laws before you dispose of your debris. Once the jar or bag has been disposed of, wash your hands to rid yourself of any remaining mercury.



Allowing the mercury to sit, undisturbed, in a room with no ventilation to the outdoors is extremely unsafe, especially if you have a central air system. While the room does need to air out before it is safe to pick up the bulb mess, it is important to be prompt in your cleanup. Don’t leave it for a couple of days. That only increases the risk of someone getting hurt.



Trying to vacuum up the glass from a broken bulb can put more mercury into the air, where your family can breathe it in. However, you may use a vacuum cautiously after all the larger pieces have been picked up. On a carpeted area, it can be difficult to find all the smaller pieces of glass from a broken bulb. Vacuuming can help, but it should be done with windows open and entry ways into the rest of the house closed. You should always use the hose attachment to the vacuum in this instance. Dispose of the vacuum bag or contents of the vacuum chamber in the same way you disposed of the other debris from the broken bulb.

Leave Windows Closed

Never clean up broken CFL bulbs in a non-ventilated area. This can be extremely dangerous for you and your loved ones. Working in a non-ventilated space means that you will be directly breathing in the mercury vapor, which can lead to mercury poisoning. It can also have adverse effects on your lungs and breathing, as well. Always make sure that when you are cleaning up a broken bulb that contains mercury, the room is as ventilated as possible.

Forget to Wash Your Hands

Even if you wear gloves when you clean up the broken bulb, there is no guarantee that mercury didn’t get onto your hands. After cleaning up the shards of glass and throwing all the debris away in the best and most legal way, thoroughly wash your hands with soap and hot water. This will remove the rest of the mercury on your hands.

Cleanup of any broken CFL bulbs should be prompt and precise. Making sure that the mercury within the broken bulb is not able to come into contact with any people or pets in your home is the best way to prevent someone from being poisoned.

10 Ways to Make Your Home More Energy Efficient

Adjusting the thermostat

Making changes to your home with the goal of saving energy is not only beneficial to the environment, but to your wallet as well. As the cost of energy continues to go up, you can save money on your monthly bill by making a few simple, cost-efficient changes to your home. Sometimes the smallest changes can translate to big savings over time. Here are the top 10 ways to turn your home from an energy-consuming monster to an energy-efficient machine.

1. Get a Home Energy Audit

It is hard to make energy-efficient improvements when you have no idea where to start. Scheduling a home energy audit is one of the best ways to locate your home’s weaknesses and identify exactly what steps need to be taken in order to stop wasting energy. This is an especially important step if you feel like your energy bill is unusually high and you aren’t sure why.

2. Choose Energy-Efficient Lighting


Have you ever walked through a hardware store and gawked at the huge selection of light bulbs? While it may seem daunting to try and choose the most energy-efficient bulb on the market, you really don’t need to put too much thought into it. Simply look for light-emitting diodes (LEDs) or compact fluorescent lights (CFLs). Both options are capable of delivering significant energy savings over time when compared with incandescent lights. In fact, some research suggests that CFLs utilize up to 75% less energy than traditional incandescent bulbs.

Such a large improvement in energy usage can translate into significant savings over the course of a year. Just make sure not to break your CFL bulbs–though they only release trace amounts of mercury when broken, it is better to avoid any potential hazardous situations and take extra care not to break them.

3. Adjust Your Thermostat

Rather than keeping your home extremely cool during the summer and extremely warm during the winter, it is best to raise or lower the temperature on the thermostat by a few degrees along with the change in seasons. If no one is in your home during the day, consider adjusting your thermostat temperature so that your HVAC system doesn’t have to work so hard to keep your home warm or cool while you are gone. Some newer thermostats, such as the Nest, can even be pre-programmed to turn off while you are gone and then turn back on when you are scheduled to return home in the evening. Pulling your shades and curtains closed while you are gone is a great way to compound the energy-saving effects of turning down your thermostat.

4. Wash Full Loads of Dishes

Ridiculous amounts of energy can be wasted by frequently running your dishwasher when it is not full. Instead of washing small loads of dishes throughout the day, wait until you have completely filled up the top and bottom racks before running your dishwasher through a cleaning cycle. If you find yourself constantly running out of clean dishes, it may be time to add a few more plates and bowls to your cupboards in order to avoid frequently washing partial loads of dishes.

5. Don’t Preheat Your Oven

This may come as a surprise to many people, but preheating the oven is unnecessary in most cases and is actually quite wasteful. You can save energy, time and money by eliminating the preheating period and simply adding in a few minutes of overall cooking time to your meals. The main exception to this rule is if you are baking cakes, breads and other pastries, since they can be quite finicky and may not respond well when baked in a non-preheated oven. The kitchen is a great place to begin when assessing and limiting your energy consumption.

6. Update Your Old Appliances

Outdated appliances can be a ridiculous drain on your energy bill, and they are typically bulky and awkward-looking as well. If you have been hanging on to that 20-year-old freezer or ancient stove from your grandma’s house, you may want to consider replacing them both with more energy-efficient models. Not only will you notice the difference in your monthly energy bill, but your entire kitchen will look refreshed and updated as well!

7. Seal Attic Gaps

Attic gaps are some of the most common culprits of excessive energy loss, but they can be difficult to detect. If you have any suspicions that you may be losing energy through your attic, hire professionals to come and conduct a blower-door test. This test pinpoints sources of leaking air so that gaps can be sealed to improve efficiency. Some professionals will conduct the blower-door test for free if you end up utilizing their services to seal the gaps in your home.

8. Replace Single-Pane Windows

If you have single-pane windows, you are actually putting a lot of pressure on your HVAC system and wasting energy. Many experts recommend that all single-pane windows be replaced with low-e (low emissivity) windows listed as U.40 or higher (also commonly referred to as R-3). In some cases, energy bills can be cut by 20% or more once single-pane windows are replaced with more energy-efficient units. Your home will also look more attractive once you replace cheap single-pane windows with sturdier window units, and outside noises will no longer be heard quite as easily within the home.

9. Beef Up Your Wall Insulation

Wall Insulation

Many homes lose a significant amount of energy directly through the walls, especially if they are not adequately insulated. If you built your own home then you probably already know how much insulation is in your walls, but if you purchased a pre-built home you may be left wondering if your walls lack the recommended amount of insulation. Hiring professionals to check out the status of the insulation throughout your home is a great way to identify any problem areas.

10. Plant Shade Trees

When it comes to energy-efficiency, improvements need not be limited to the interior of your home. A carefully-developed landscaping plan can cool your home during the hot summer months so that your air conditioning system doesn’t have to work so hard. While it is important to make sure you don’t plant trees so close to your home that the roots or branches will damage your house, you should plant them close enough to benefit from their shade once they are fully grown. For the quickest benefits, choose trees that are known for rapid growth and have large leaves for maximum shade.

Saving energy is a goal that every responsible homeowner should try to attain. By following these 10 simple tips for making your home more energy-efficient, you can rest assured that you are doing your part to protect the environment while also enjoying substantial money-saving benefits over time.