Saturday, April 30, 2011

White Plains Earth Day Event - $50 per Audit for Tornado Victims

Today, I will be at the White Plains, New York Earth Day Event. It is also a few days after a tornado has killed over 300 of our fellow citizens throughout the south. Our thoughts and prayers are extended to all who have been impacted by this natural disaster.

For every audit that we sign up today at the White Plains event or over the week end on our website, BrightHome will contribute $50 to the American Red Cross tornado efforts.

We hope to see you in downtown White Plains! Mike Brown

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Eco-Ed's Tips for Earth Day

Earth Day began 41 years ago, on April 22nd, 1970 and is more widely celebrated every year.  There are many ways that you can celebrate Earth Day and they are all correct.  

Some of the actions you can take are:

Purchasing a more fuel efficient vehicle, or driving less will reduce the amount of gas you use.  Walking into town instead of driving, or riding a bicycle has the added benefit of getting you in better shape physically.  You may be surprised at how wonderful you feel when become more physically active.

Choosing to eat less meat, or become vegetarian, as raising beef has an extremely high carbon footprint.   Even enjoying a vegetarian meal once in a while is a step in the right direction, and you may enjoy the new epicurean experience!

Save energy at home.  I always recommend starting with an energy audit, so you can understand where you are using and wasting energy.  Once this is accomplished, you can then prioritize the steps to take to reduce that energy use.  The simplest steps which everyone can do, are to turn off lights when not in the room, and replace incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent or LED ones.  Look for Energy Star appliances.  No step is too small.

Shop locally.  This supports local businesses, and reduces the amount of travel to stores.  Many towns have Farmer's Markets, which have excellent locally-grown produce.

Attend a local Earth Day event for ideas on environmentally sound practices, products and services.  Our event in Ridgewood will be on May 14th (a little late for Earth Day, but it will coincide with the Sidewalk Sale event).  The RHS Student Environmental Action group is sponsoring a drive for people to Do One Thing (DOT).  This is their personal sustainability pledge that everyone can take.  This pledge asks people to choose one thing that they can commit to doing which will benefit our planet.  Other towns will also be having Earth Day events, so check the papers for one nearest you.

Plant a tree.  You can do this in your yard, or in a park on town property (with proper permission).  How cool would it be to plant a beautiful old growth specimen that your grandchildren can climb and look at, and know that you planted it for future generations!

The additional benefit of most of these activities is that they save you money, or support the local economy!  Everyone has different passions, so I suggest that you follow yours, as it will bring you the most personal satisfaction.  

What I have found is that your first step will be emotionally fulfilling, and you never know where it leads.  The journey is always the fun part!

"Eco-Ed" Schwartz

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Eight Easy Earth Day Tips

It’s almost Earth Day, and you know what that means– it’s time to think about what you can do for the environment. But there’s good news. You don’t have to spend a fortune to start saving energy. Here are a few easy things you can do yourself that can help you go green and save money at the same time.

1. Change your air conditioner’s filters regularly. Check your filters to verify how often they need to be changed – four, nine, 12 months – and make sure to clean reusable filters approximately once a month to maximize your air conditioner’s efficiency and reduce the amount of energy you need to keep your home cool.

2. Get a programmable thermostat. You can set it to run your air conditioner and heater less when you’re away from home, but have it re-adjust your home’s temperature shortly before you return home so you still get maximum comfort with minimal hassle.

3. Unplug your electronics when you’re not using them. This is especially true for items like cell phone chargers, MP3 players and tablet PCs. Electronics still draw energy from the wall as long as they’re plugged in, even when they’re not turned on, so unplug and stop these energy vampires from sucking your wallet dry.

4. Use your computer’s power saving features, like setting your computer and/or monitor to go into sleep mode after a certain amount of time. A computer in sleep mode can use up to 70 percent less energy than a computer not using energy saving features.

5. Set ceiling fans to spin the right direction for the season. During the summer, set your fan counter clockwise to create circulation for a cooling effect. For winter, set your fan clockwise to pull hot air near the ceiling into the living spaces in your home. That way you can use less energy running heaters and air conditioners without sacrificing comfort.

6. Use your blinds to help with climate control. In the summer, keep your east-facing blinds closed in the morning and your west-facing blinds closed in the evening to block radiant heat from the sun and reduce cooling costs. Keep the same blinds open in the winter to let heat in and reduce your heating bills.

7. Wash your clothes in cold water. Washing them on a hot water cycle means your water heater has to work hard and use lots of energy to keep the water hot. A cold water cycle can reduce the amount of energy it takes to wash a load of clothes by as much as 90 percent.

8. Clean your dryer’s lint trap after every use to reduce the amount of time and energy it takes to dry your clothes and, if your dryer has one, use the moisture sensor setting so your dryer doesn’t keep running unnecessarily after your clothes are dry.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Celebrate Earth Day with BrightHome!

It's almost that time of the year…Earth Day! A time for all of us to think about how we impact the world we live in.

There are hundreds of things you can do right now to reduce your energy usage and minimize pollution in the environment. From insulation to caulking, to simple things like changing light bulbs, we believe that even the small things can make a difference.

To celebrate Earth Day, we will be out in New Jersey and New York talking with homeowners about living green and consuming less energy. Here’s where to find us:

New York
April 17 – Kensico Dam Plaza, Valhalla
April 30 - White Plains Earth Day Celebration
May 15 - 21st Annual Shad Festival & Hudson River Celebration, Garrison, NY

New Jersey
April 16 - Essex County Earth Day, Essex County Environmental Center
April 30 - Morris County Earth Day, Lewis Morris Park, Morristown
May 14 - Ridgewood Earth Day, Downtown Ridgewood

Earth Day 2011 is celebrated on April 22.

Friday, April 1, 2011

New York Green Job Heroes

Wednesday is often called "hump day" since you are looking at sliding into Friday. This past Wednesday was far from that, it was for me highly motivational.

I was at Sustainable South Bronx (SSBx). They work with the South Bronx and other under-served urban communities to help transform themselves into great sustainable places to live. They do this by providing a collaborative model that addresses environmental, economic and social concerns through policy change, green job training, environmental education and community greening programs.

The centerpiece of Sustainable South Bronx's workforce development is the Bronx Environmental Stewardship Training (BEST) Academy which honored their partners in achievement and success. Miquela Craytor, Executive Director of Sustainable South Bronx, stated, "Today's honorees have been pillars of program and our community, distinguished by their flexibility, commitment and inventiveness in supporting our trainees."

There were five honorees including BrightHome Energy Solutions, but I want to share the stories of the other four that set me soaring the rest of this week.

Million Trees NYC, New York City has a goal to plant one million (1,000,000) trees. That's one new tree for every eight residents of NYC. Additionally, they educate the residents about the positive benefits to the environment and our daily lives. The BEST program has provided trained landscape team members and supervisors for the program who are able to hone their landscaping skills and make New York City greener.

Bronx River Alliance, they are bit by bit cleaning up the Bronx River and making it once again a source of pride. What started out as mission of few has become a full fledged attempt, and they are winning, to make the Bronx River a place where people enjoy a peaceful walk or place to read. Again, the BEST program has trained unemployed South Bronx residents to understand what skills and work it takes to create a greener and cleaner Bronx River.

Central Park Conservancy, operates Central Park in New York City. The park has over twenty-five million visitors each year and needs lots of people to maintain and improve its beauty. And again, the BEST program has been up to the challenge of recruiting, training providing the workers who refine their landscaping skills daily. BEST workers in the park have in the past taken their skills and opened their own landscaping business. This is win win for everyone, a clean park, job training and future job creators!

Finally, the Association of Energy Affordability, Inc. Their mission is to use the principle of energy efficiency to keep housing affordable and livable for low and moderate income residents in New York City. One of their programs is to weatherize multifamily homes to reduce energy costs and make them more comfortable. Through BEST training programs the unemployed receive training in insulating, air sealing and auditing becoming part of the green movement and helping their neighbors save money.

Congratulations to Sustainable South Bronx and the other four honorees! It was great day to hear about heroes on the front line making our lives better!

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