Natural Environment Blog

Blogging for the Natural Environment

Month: January 2013

Staying Green With Swimming Pools

A growing concern for many home owners when developing a new property, is how their new build may have a negative effect on the environment. Around the world, many forward thinking property developers have turned to ‘green building’, a term coined for adapting the products and materials used around the home to reduce the normal rates of power consumption.

By incorporating eco features into the home, it’s possible to see a large annual reduction in the normal fuel costs associated with living, and for eco orientated home owners, it’s another step towards building a clearer conscience.

To combat an increasing interest in eco development, many industries have increased the availability of green products in the market, including the swimming pool industry.

The demands of a swimming pool are high, they traditionally use a a great deal of energy to remain heated, and water consumption is another point of concern. These concerns however, may soon be alleviated by a growing number of construction alternatives and products that are being used to reverse their energy consumption.

Natural Pools

When planning the construction of a swimming pool, a growing trend in the eco market is to build a natural pool. With the popularity of natural pools spreading from Europe to American markets, they have become a viable green option for many home owners.

The main concept behind a natural pool is the construction of more pond-like habitat, that blends in with the surrounding environment. Their construction is generally a simple process, a hole with sloping sides is dug at a variety of depths, and is then lined with eco friendly materials such as compacted clay or a synthetic liner that uses rubber as aposed to PVC.

The term natural pool is used because the filtration system consists of biological filters and plants rooted hydroponically into the system. Because these systems have biological equivalents in the natural world the the whole process becomes entirely eco friendly. Natural filtration systems can include copper or silver ion disinfection, or the even the simple use of UV light.

Water Consumption

In terms of water consumption, in hot climates evaporation can be the main concern. An increase in evaporation can lead to large amounts of water consumption when refilling pools. To combat this there are now a variety of inventive products entering the market.

One such product a solar powered pool cover, harnesses the energy of the sun by transmitting the solar rays through sealed air cells, specially produced to both retain warmth by up to ten degrees and produce power. In some cases the increase in warmth can extend the outdoor swimming season by up to six weeks.

Solar Pumps

Solar pumps can also be seen as another cost effective and logical use of solar energy. Swimming pools combined with a normal pump system are usually seen as the second largest and most expensive electrical load after air conditioning.

By using solar pump which sits on the surface of the pool and harvests solar energy to run, you can effectively reduce the cost of pumping completely.

Another bonus to a solar pump, is the lack of sound, reducing the noise pollution associated with running a pool.

This article was contributed by Thomas Jones. Thomas works for Falcon Pools, a swimming pool construction company who are making the utmost effort to embrace and improve their eco-credentials.

Maintain the Ecological Balance with Green Electronics Recycling

When most people think of recycling they think about those little bins you put on the curb each week that come and get picked up. They generally contain aluminum cans, plastic containers, glass bottles, and maybe some cardboard. This is only a small portion of all the items that you can actually recycle.

Why Recycle Electronics?

A lot of people do not realize the toxic chemicals that are often floating around inside of most electronics. There are sharp metals, wires, and even dangerous chemicals like mercury that are used in order to make-up certain electronic devices that we love to acquire, but have no idea what to do with them once we are finished.

It is never a good idea to just toss these old electronics in the garbage. Electronics that go into landfills are often shattered or crushed. This allows all of those hazardous materials to leak out of the unit and seep into the ground and infect the soil and even possibly the water. This could not only potentially cause harm to humans, but it is terrible for the environment and any other type of living creature that may happen upon these toxins.

What are the Options?

Throwing your old electronics in the trash is just one of the many options that you have when you are considering getting rid of them. Depending on the age you may be able to sell them on sites such as People will often purchase older items in working condition for parts. It will most likely not make you a fortune, but it will get it out of your house and maybe make you a few dollars.

You can sell to a recycling plant. Depending on the plant you may be able to make a few dollars based on the type of old electronic device. Certain devices contain metals such as silver, copper, and even gold and recycling plants will pay for these items. The device may also be purchased because it is in good working condition and can be used for parts in order to repair other item. This will not make you a millionaire, but it will help you get rid of the device, make you a few dollars, and help you avoid the hassle of shipping it like would require.

Simply recycle it.

You may not be able to get any money for it, so simply just give it to the recycling people. You do not have to worry about killing off cute little wildlife and it gets it out of your house. Some facilities such as Simple e Waste will even come and pick it up for you so you do not have the hassle of tracking down a facility to dispose of the electronics to be recycled.

There are a lot of facilities that will take care of your old electronics. They will offer to repair older electronics as a way of encouraging you to hold on to your electronics for as long as possible. There are recycling options where they will pay or simply accept older electronics in order to recycling them in an environmentally friendly manner or use them for parts. The electronics recycling center may come across electronics that they can not use for parts or recycle, and if this is the case then they will simply destroy it and dispose of it in the most environmentally friendly way possible.

There are a lot of reasons for why someone would want to upgrade or change from using an old electronic device. Do the responsible thing and make sure it is disposed of properly.

Author Bio: The article is drawn by Jason Phillips who is a guest blogger and an enthusiast. His website is related to recycled products and going green with recycling. He newly added simplehuman recycling bins for sale at his site.

Can a Smart Meter Really Help Reduce Energy Consumption and Save You Money?

This is a question a lot of homeowners asked since the first smart meter came out more than a decade ago. And it’s actually a valid question to ask considering all the hype that came with the release of this innovative device.

Unlike your traditional electric meter, a smart meter records your energy consumption at home, but doesn’t stop at that. It actually sends the information it gathers back to your energy supplier for monitoring. The purpose of creating such device is for energy companies to have accurate readings at all times and this without having a representative from the company to come over and read your meter.

Now, going back to the question, will a smart meter really help you reduce your energy consumption at home and save you money?

The direct answer is yes, but it is not in the way you are thinking it is going to. A lot of consumers think that smart meters help them reduce electricity and water consumption by actually regulating the amount of energy they use. They have this idea that if they have a smart meter at home, they can still consume the same amount of energy, but will receive a lower bill at the end of the month.

If a smart meter works that way, then it would be one of the most sought-after inventions in the world today. However, smart meters don’t work the way many people think they do. Instead of directly reducing your energy consumption at home, what a smart meter does is provide you with the information you need that will help you find ways to save energy.

For instance, smart meters can inform you if energy has gotten more expensive on a particular period. By having this information, you will be more careful in using energy at home. It can also show you how much gas or electricity you are using at different times of the day, month, or year, helping you become more strategic and efficient in using these utilities.

In short, smart meters are only a part of a bigger picture. Indeed, they help by reducing overall demand on energy, but it is still up to the consumer if he’s going to act on the information provided by the device. And with the outstanding benefits smart meters can give, it will only be a matter of time until every household in the entire planet will be using one.

About the Author: Gene Armstrong is an energy expert based in Australia. He specializes in knowledge about switching, energy efficiency, and green energy. For more info on smart meters, Gene recommends

2013 is the Year for a Much Greener Home

Another year has begun and the personal New Year resolutions are already almost forgotten. If this sounds like you, why don’t you set your aims a bit lower and start taking a greener step towards home improvement.

As with any new initiative, there is always the risk and issue of how much money will be involved versus the actual outcome. People are open to make a difference, but sometimes the costs involved are not affordable. There are many schemes to help fix this problem, such as ‘green loans’ or the Green Deal Initiative in the UK.

But don’t worry if you find it too difficult to find that extra cash from your budget. Here are five simple tips on making a positive impact on the environment without spending ridiculous amounts of money:


Installing curtains instead of blind will keep your house warm, before you consider turning up the heating system. High quality curtains can trap the heat in your home rather than letting it escape through your windows. So if you are on a low budget, this slight change can make you save money in the long term, when winter hits again.

Turn your lights off

An interesting fact: about one in every four homes in the US has electronic products running on standby. This includes leaving unnecessary lights on during the day, keeping computers on overnight or leaving the heating on while the windows are open.

People need to change those habits as many homeowners believe that they themselves as an individual wouldn’t make the difference. That’s WRONG –saving energy on something as easy as flicking a switch is better for the environment.

Green electricity

As we all know, studies have shown that there is a significant relationship between the output of carbon dioxide (CO2) and global warming. However, over half of our electricity output is supplied through the burning of coal, which produces CO2 as a waste product. Nevertheless, you can register to a ‘green’ electricity supplier, who uses electricity sources that do not have a negative effect on the environment.

U-Value Doors

Fun Fact: Over 10% of heat losses in your homes are accounted through windows and doors. Eventually this starts adding up in your energy bills. In order to avoid those unnecessary losses, you can buy composite doors, which will keep your home sufficiently heated. These doors have a U-value of 1.8, which is now a legal requirement. U-value is a simple measure of heat loss in your door.


People always underestimate the savings that results from home insulation. Studies have shown that one fourth of your heat is lost through the roof. Insulating your roof is therefore vital and in turn it helps keeping the heat in your room and reducing your bills.

This article was contributed by Sachi Jayatilleke.

Earth Day Should Be Every Day: April 22, 2013

There is one very important day that is slowly getting the recognition it deserves.

April 22, 2013 is Earth Day.

It’s time to raise a higher awareness of this global initiative to save our planet. With the changing climate, the possible loss of species (elephants, tigers, gorillas) and mass amounts of pollution dirtying our lives, if you’re not doing something to change your habits and clean up the atmosphere, now is the time to start!

These three cities put Earth Day at the top of the list of importance, much like the activists in 1970 that created the first Earth Day—Gaylord Nelson (a U.S. Wisconsin Senator at the time), Pete McCloskey (a Republican Congressman at the time) and Denis Hayes (Time Magazine’s 1999 “Hero of the Planet”).

With each year, the Earth Day movement is spreading farther and farther across the globe promoting awareness to even the smallest of cultures. This year, explains that more than one billion people will do their part in protecting our green earth. What are these eco-friendly cities doing and what can you do?

Minneapolis, MN

Not only is Minneapolis doing their part in cutting down on obesity and traffic mayhem, its Nice Ride bike-sharing program is reducing the amount of dirty emissions released into the environment. Being recognized as the second most bike-friendly city in the nation by Bicycling magazine (#1 being Portland, Oregon), the cycling culture in this city is considerably healthy and growing even stronger. This community-wide initiative includes all types of people from spandexed enthusiasts to heeled business women. With “America’s first bike freeway,” the 4.25-mile Cedar Lake Regional Trail and more than 120 miles of bikeways, Minneapolis’ bicycle community continues to grow and do their part in reducing their carbon footprint.

What can you do? Jump on a bike. Take public transportation. Carpool. You don’t have to do this only on April 22; start now and see how good you feel, how much easier you breathe.

Lincoln, NE

The Cleaner Greener Lincoln intuitive encourages the community to join together in their quest for a more sustainable culture. Their LPlan 2040 looks 30 years ahead at population growth, jobs and ways the committee can preserve and enhance the Lincoln quality of life. According to the plan, Lincoln will be focusing on seven priority indicator areas that include: air, water, land, waste, energy, transportation and community. While other cities are taking steps here and there to reduce their footprint, Lincoln is doing visiting all areas of possibility. The future is bright in Nebraska.

What can you do? There are many Lincoln apartments for rent that all have ENERGY STAR rated appliances and LED lighting. These are important steps in saving energy and money. If you already own a home, change out your current lighting at little cost and when you can, look into energy saving appliances, double pane windows and composting.

Detroit, Michigan

Urban farming continues to transform the city of Detroit. The Institute for Sustainable Communities reports that Detroit is turning abandoned lots into gardens that yearly brings 100 tons of produce. It’s a community effort involving kids. It brings healthy food to everyone no matter where they live. Kids tend to the planting and gardening of all types of fruits and vegetables during after-school programs. It teaches these children that food comes from the earth. Some of these kids working in the gardens will take home what they’ve learned and implement them in their own homes, reports

What can you do? DIY your own garden for herbs, fruits and vegetables. If you are in an apartment, use a window box, wine boxes or other decorative containers to put in your smaller outdoor space or on your windowsill. This could save money on food and eliminate the need to use your car as often.

Spread the word about #EarthDay via social media or when talking to the elderly and children. It’s important for all generations to be educated on the importance of taking extra steps in order to protect our environment and our future.

This article was written by Ava Stevens. Ava is a freelance writer from Maine.

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