Try these eco-friendly holiday celebration tips

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“Go green” this holiday season and have fun doing it. Here are some tips to help you be environmentally friendly during the holidays.

  • Reduce your carbon footprint by celebrating at home instead of using fuel to travel. If you have to travel, consider driving instead of flying, carpooling with other family members, and using the most fuel-efficient vehicle.
  • Plan ahead by picking out local or organic fruits and vegetables and freezing or canning them for use at your holiday meal. Buy your meat or dairy products locally if possible. This not only supports  local business, but decreases your carbon footprint because your food is not being transported from a distant location. So next time you drive by a local butcher shop, take a look inside!
  • At the dinner table, avoid serving with disposable items like Styrofoam or paper. When it comes to napkins, use cloth. Not only will it look nicer, it will decrease what you put in the landfill.
  • Make your own decorations from materials around the house. Not only will this save you money but the decorations will be unique and more meaningful.
  • Think before you throw away containers or packaging that your holiday items came in. Look for ways to reuse them or at minimum, recycle them.
  • Invite neighbors or friends over for the holidays. Not only would this reduce carbon footprints but it will bring you closer to those you care about.

Consider these ideas for other celebrations too. Next time you start planning for a celebration or event, think green.

Learn more at www.gundersenenvision.org.

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Easy steps to lower your home heating costs

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If you live in an area where the autumn season brings chilly temperatures, here are some tips to help save on your heating bill.

Insulate your walls and ceilings adequately.This can save 20 to 30 percent on home heating bills. Have an inspection by a qualified technician if you’ve not looked at your insulation for quite some time. Insulation will compress and shift over time which reduces its effectiveness.

Weatherize your home or apartment, using caulk and weather stripping to plug air leaks around doors and windows.Caulking costs less than $1 per window, and weather stripping is under $10 per door.

Close drapes and window coverings at night. This will reduce the heat lost through windows. During the day, open drapes and coverings to allow the sun to radiantly heat your home.

Use Ceiling Fans to utilize heat more efficiently
Heat rises and much of the heat loss in your home is through the ceiling. Most ceiling fans have a switch to reverse their direction. As you enter the heating season, reverse the direction of your ceiling fans and set them on low. This will better mix the warm and cool air in your home and slow the rate of heat escaping through the ceiling. Ceiling fans do not use much electricity and this will result in a net energy savings.

There are also several low or no cost steps that can be taken to lower the cost of heating commercial buildings. Find out more at gundersenenvision.org.

Lower your summer energy bill

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Open windows
On cooler days and nights, turn off your air conditioner and open your windows. Use a fan; it does not use as much electricity as an air conditioning compressor.

Use ceiling fans to cool your house
The most efficient ceiling fans cost as little as 30 cents a month if used eight hours a day. A  window air conditioner can cost 50 times as much as a fan. Ceiling fans will keep the air moving and allow you to keep the thermostat setting higher because moving air feels cooler.

Provide shading for your air conditioning condenser
Your central air conditioner condenser works more efficiently in a cooler environment. Provide shade around your air conditioner to reduce your cooling costs by nearly 3 percent.

Dry a load of laundry on the clothesline
Thirty years ago most clothes were dried outside on the line. Your electric dryer is a large energy user and consumes about 30 cents of electricity per load. During nice weather, try drying some loads the old fashioned way – on the clothesline. It also has the added benefit of a fresh smell for your laundry.

Utilize moisture sensing technology on your electric dryer
Most new electric dryers have sensors that can detect the moisture level in your clothes and shut off the cycle when they are dry.  This saves energy costs when compared to a timed dry cycle which is likely to waste energy after clothes are dry.

Plant trees for shade
Deciduous trees—those that produce leaves in the spring and lose them in the fall—shade your house from the sun during warmer days and let the sun warm your house on cooler days. Shading your home could save up to 8 percent on cooling costs.

Change your air conditioning filter
Clean or replace your central air conditioner filter monthly during the cooling season to improve the efficiency and extend the life of the unit.

Raise your thermostat setting
You can save $25 or more each month during the summer by raising your thermostat temperature from 72 to 78 degrees.

Learn about other ways to save energy at www.gundersenenvision.org.

We’ll come to you

Gundersen Envision speakers will travel to your event, whether large or small, to help make it a great success. These highly qualified, experienced presenters are available to speak on a variety of topics, including:

Energy efficiency improvement (especially healthcare facilities)

    • Base lining and benchmarking facility performance
    • Lean “kaizen” events to launch an energy management program
    • Common sources of energy waste
    • Validating improvements with measurement systems

Renewable energy project development (from an “owner’s” perspective)

    • Best technology choices for a particular geography (i.e. wind, solar, biogas, biomass, geoexchange, hydro, etc.)
    • Site selection tradeoffs
    • Feedstock considerations
    • Permitting challenges
    • Available Incentives
    • Financial business case development and modeling
    • Contract considerations for equipment supply, construction, and operation
    • Operations and maintenance considerations

Project case studies

    • Commercial wind projects
    • Landfill biogas combined heat and power project
    • Dairy manure anaerobic digester projects
    • Biomass (woodchip) boiler with backpressure steam turbine (co-generation)
    • Geoexchange (ground source) heat pump
    • Heat recovery chiller
    • Solar hot water systems
    • Solar photovoltaic system

For more information and to schedule a speaker, email envision@gundersenhealth.org or call toll-free (855) 669-1653.

See a list of our speakers and their speaking history at www.gundersenenvision.org.

 

Don’t turn on the heat just yet

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Fall is just around the corner and that means cooler weather is on the way. Try these energy and money saving tips before you crank up the heat for the first time.

Insulate your walls and ceilings adequately.This can save 20 to 30 percent on home heating bills. Have an inspection by a qualified technician if you’ve not looked at your insulation for quite some time. Insulation will compress and shift over time which reduces its effectiveness.

Weatherize your home or apartment, using caulk and weather stripping to plug air leaks around doors and windows.Caulking costs less than $1 per window, and weather stripping is under $10 per door.

Close drapes and window coverings at night. This will reduce the heat lost through windows. During the day, open drapes and coverings to allow the sun to radiantly heat your home.

Use Ceiling Fans to utilize heat more efficiently
Heat rises and much of the heat loss in your home is through the ceiling. Most ceiling fans have a switch to reverse their direction. As you enter the heating season, reverse the direction of your ceiling fans and set them on low. This will better mix the warm and cool air in your home and slow the rate of heat escaping through the ceiling. Ceiling fans do not use much electricity and this will result in a net energy savings.

There are also several low or no cost steps that can be taken to lower the cost of heating commercial buildings. Find out more at gundersenenvision.org.

Walk, ride, share for cleaner air

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Active commuting encourages people to get physically active on a regular basis and to reduce greenhouse emissions and traffic congestion by actively or alternatively commuting. In addition, reducing energy consumption will help prevent illness by reducing environmental factors linked to diseases (cancer, respiratory, asthma, reproductive, cardiac).

Active/alternative commuting includes:

  • Walking
  • Bicycle riding
  • Car pooling
  • Using mass transit transportation
  • Any other travel without driving yourself (rollerblading, skateboarding. Have fun and get creative.)

Safety Tips
Follow the Rules of the Road – As appropriate – obey all traffic signs, signal and watch for traffic at intersections, cross at crosswalks, do not exceed speed limit, wear seat belt at all times, ride with traffic (bike, car), walk against traffic or use sidewalk when available, use proper lane position, etc.

Wear appropriate attire to be visible and safe – As appropriate – wear helmet, protective equipment (bike, rollerblade), be visible-wear bright clothing or reflective clothing, wear lights on person or bike, wear comfortable shoes, wear seat belt (car, bus if applicable), use rain gear as appropriate-poncho, umbrella, fenders, etc.

Be alert and aware of surroundings – As appropriate – do not use ear buds or listen to loud radio, do not talk or text on cell phone, monitor surroundings for potential dangers – environmental lighting, uneven terrain, road conditions, etc.

Safety inspection of your mode of transportation – As appropriate – secure cargo, ensure proper tire inflation, ensure mechanical items in good working condition – brakes, chains, belts, lights, turn signals, etc. Shoes in good working condition (not excessively worn, protecting feet from hazards), laces secured, etc.

Champion a Walk, Ride, Share for Cleaner Air employee challenge at your work place and start making a difference today!

Learn more about reducing energy consumption and greenhouse emissions from the environmental leaders at Envision.