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Archives for May 2013

10 Easy Ways to Reduce Your Electric Bill

Summer can be an expensive time of the year when it comes to electric bills. Oklahoma’s hot summers can require a lot of a/c use, so it’s important to try and cut your use where you can to save money. Here are ten easy ways you can do that:

reduce electric bill

  1. Get your a/c tuned up. This will help your a/c run better and more efficiently.

  2. Only run your washer and dishwasher when full. Running full loads helps keep you from having to do as many loads, saving on energy use and water use.

  3. Unplug items when not in use. Many electronics continue to draw energy even when not in use. You can prevent this by simply unplugging the items when you aren’t using them or by plugging items into power strips and flipping the switch when done. There are also power strips called smart strips that will shut everything off when the “control” item is turned off.

  4. Turn up the a/c when you aren’t home. When you leave the house be sure to turn the a/c up a couple of degrees. Be sure not to go to high or the a/c will have a harder time cooling the house when you get home. Of course if you have pets in the home keep it at a temperature that will be safe for them.

  5. Switch to CFL or LED light bulbs. If you haven’t already, start replacing your bulbs with energy efficient ones. They cost more to start with but will save you instantly and in the long term because they last much longer than traditional bulbs.

  6. Use fans. Often you can turn up the a/c if you use a few fans.

  7. Close blinds and curtains during the hot part of the day to keep the house cooler.

  8. Turn off lights when you leave the room. This seems simple, but sometimes we forget and overtime this can add up.

  9. Line dry your clothes. Oklahoma summers mean lots of sun, wind, and heat, this can be great for line drying clothes. Skipping the dryer will save you a lot of money and is gentler on your clothes.

  10. Let your dishes air dry. Many dishwashers let you turn off the dry cycle, simply open the dishwasher after the dishes are washed and let them dry on their own.

These are just a few ways you can save money on your electric bill this summer. Share your energy saving tips in the comments below or on our Facebook page.


Photo credit: License: Some rights reserved by ryaninc

 


Why You Should Use a Natural Sunscreen

Many sunscreens contain harmful ingredients, some even contain possible carcinogens. Sun protect is very important and thankfully there are many natural options out there that are safe and effective. One thing to remember with natural sunscreens, the safest ones have non-nano zinc oxide.  Nano-particles are very small particles, these particles are used in sunscreen to make it clear. The problem is the safety of these are questionable and are best to avoid, so these sunscreens will not be totally clear but are safe and effective.

natural sunscreen

 

Burt’s Bees Baby Bee SPF 30 Sunscreen Stick | Ava Anderson Lip Balm with SPF 15 | Badger Broad Spectrum SPF 34
Coola SPF 30 Body Unscented Moisturizer | ThinkBaby SPF 30 | ThinkSport Water Resistant SPF 50+

Choosing a safe sunscreen will keep you safe this summer. There are lots of great choices and many local natural food stores carry the great brands above, so be on the look out.

If you have tried a natural sunscreen, let us know which one and what you thought. Share in the comments below or on our Facebook page


 

How to Help the Tornado Victims in Oklahoma

The Moore tornado and the other tornadoes that hit Oklahoma during this latest outbreak, are heartbreaking. If you can help there are a lot of great ways to donate. While the Moore tornado is getting a lot of attention Little Axe, Bethel Acres, Shawnee and Tecumseh also need help. We have gathered a lot of donation information for you so you can decide the best way to help. Click the links for more information.

mooretornado

Frontline Church– volunteers, prayer teams, Red Cross needs list, and more.

Journey Church– Collecting donations


Moore Recovers– volunteers and donations

Pet Food Pantry of Oklahoma– pet supply donations

Regional Food Bank- Text FOOD to 32333

United Way of Central Oklahoma– donations

List of Drop-Off Locations

American Red Cross– Central and Western Oklahoma

The Salvation Army– Donations

Heart 4 Children Ministries– Donations

Diaper Drive– Diapers and other baby items

Photo Restoration– Donate time restoring photos for victims

HopeMob– Donations

Feed the Children– Donations

Global Giving– Donations

 

Products That Support Relief Efforts 

Storm Assist Oklahoma T-Shirt

Oklahoma Necklace

Moore T-Shirt

 

If you know of other ways to support relief efforts please post in the comments below or on our Facebook page

Photo credit: Ks0stm

Rain Helps Part of the State, While Drought Expands in Western Oklahoma

drought mapParts of the state have been seeing a lot of rainfall lately. As of the last drought report, 17.40 percent of the state is currently not under drought conditions. This is up 0.08 percent from last week.

Wednesday night and yesterday the state saw more rainfall, with some areas getting almost three inches of rain on Wednesday. The bad news is areas where the rain is falling is not the areas that have the biggest need. Western Oklahoma is still largely in extreme and exceptional drought conditions, we have even seen these conditions expand. And sadly, this is the area that has not been seeing much, if any rainfall.

May is our rainy season, so while this rainfall is helpful it’s not enough to get us through another bad summer. And outlook for June isn’t looking good. Current projections show below normal rainfall and above normal temperatures. The summer outlook isn’t good either. Above normal temperatures and for most of the state, below normal rainfall, are predicted. The past three summers have shown us what these things can mean and how bad it can get.

The little bit of good news is, we have more rainfall in the 7-day forecast. Most of the rainfall is again predicted for the eastern part of the state but some is predicted for western Oklahoma, where the rain is badly needed.

The current outlook should help remind us that even though things seem better right now for most of us, things can take a turn the other way very quickly. May afterall, is our rainy season so while the rain is great it’s nothing unusual and if we have a dry June we are still looking at another tough summer.

Share your thoughts in the comments below or on our Facebook page.

Photo credit- The U.S. Drought Monitor is produced in partnership between the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the United States Department of Agriculture, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Map courtesy of NDMC-UNL.

 


New Film with Eco Theme


The eco themed film, Epic, comes out tomorrow. It’s a movie the whole family is sure to enjoy and hopefully be inspired to help protect our beautiful planet.

Team ENERGY STAR also has some great opportunities to help get kids involved. For more information on that, check out Saving Energy is Easy & Fun With the Help of Team ENERGY STAR. And be sure to go see Epic, out in theaters tomorrow, May 17th.

Make Your Own Unpaper Towels

One of the latest green crazes I have noticed around the internet is unpaper towels. Unpaper towels are exactly like paper towels except they are made out of fabric. The fabric used to make them is up to you. Most of the unpaper towels I have seen have a cotton or flannel top layer and a terry cloth bottom layer. The tutorial that I have put together is a nice blend of other tutorials that I have found. The greatest part is that they are easy to make, even for  a beginning sewer.

Unpaper Towels

Since I am all about saving money and going green, I thought this would be a great first project for my recently refurbished sewing machine. I will say that I am not a great sewer, but I enjoy making items for our home and my family.

I did not want to spend a lot of money on this project, so for my fabric selections I found 1 ¼ yard of cotton fabric on sale for the top layer of the unpaper towels and repurposed old towels and hand towels for the bottom, absorbent layer. To attach the unpaper towels to one another, you can either use snaps or hook and loop (velcro). Given that I have never done any projects with snaps, I went with hook and loop.

Materials (makes 10 unpaper towels):

  • Around 1 yard of cotton, flannel, or your choice of fabric
  • Around 1 yard of terry cloth fabric (I used 1 old towel and 2 old hand towels to get 10)
  • 4 velcro pieces for each unpaper towel – 2 for each side
  • 1 spool of thread in the color of your choice
  • Scissors

IMG_4709

  1. To start, cut 12’ x 12’ squares of both your fabric for the top layer and your fabric for the bottom layer.
  2. Next, sew the top layer fabric right side down and terry cloth together leaving a small opening that will allow you flip it inside out.IMG_4713
  3. Trim all the excess fabric around the edges and flip it inside out. Make sure you poke all the corners through and do a top stitch all around.IMG_4710
  4. To make sure that the two layers don’t separate when you wash them make a squiggle line stitch through the center of the unpaper towel.IMG_4711
  5. Sew on two pieces of velcro hoop side on the edge of the top piece of fabric. On the same unpaper towel, sew two pieces of velcro loop side to the terry cloth side. The velcro holds the unpaper towels together when they are on a paper towel holder.

Put all the unpaper towels together and you are done! If I were a more careful sewer, I would probably pin the fabric together and iron them at some point. Since this is just for our house, I didn’t worry about that too much. These turned out wonderfully, and I even made a kitchen wet bag to hold them after they get dirty. Unpaper towels have been a great addition to our kitchen.

Share in the comments below or on our Facebook page.

Green Myth: Going Green Costs Too Much

gogreenOne common reason to not go green is the cost. It’s true that some eco-friendly products cost more, but does the lifestyle overall cost more? No, the truth is that it can actually save you money. The main reason for going green should be consuming less. Consuming less clearly saves you money. Things like reducing your energy use by turning off lights when not in use, unplugging things you aren’t using, turning the a/c up and the heat; these things are all free and will save you money.

Some things will require an investment, but in the long run will save you money like reusable water bottles. These range greatly in cost but you will save a lot on bottled water and other drinks when away from home.

There are of course larger investments that take longer to make your money back, like solar panels, but even with those in the long run you will save money.

Food is one area where you can spend more and while a healthy diet is shown to help save you money in health care costs, it’s harder to see those savings. Organic food can cost more, but there are many ways to save. Buying local, using coupons when available, looking for sales, and growing your own food are just a few ways you can save.

Another big thing to remember is to not try and do everything all at once. Make slow changes to keep the cost down and to keep from getting overwhelmed. And most importantly, when buying something think if you really need it or if it’s a want; will it make your life better in someway. I think we all buy a lot of things without a lot of thought only to find we never use it. Cutting down on these types of purchases will reduce your environmental impact and save you money.

Share your money saving, green tips in the comments below or on our Facebook page.

 

The Difference Between Climate and Weather

With the record cold weather hitting Oklahoma right now, many are saying this proves climate change isn’t real. However, this is because of the misconception that weather and climate are the same thing. The video above helps explain the difference between climate and weather.