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Category: Living Green

Ways to Go Green in Your Attic

Ways to Go Green in Your AtticIf you’re like most of us, you don’t think about your attic much. Especially here on the Gulf Coast of Florida, where they’re closer to crawl spaces than the canted storage or living areas they enjoy in most of the country.

But if you’ve spent any time in your attic, you’ve come out dripping with reasons why it could be increasing your energy expenses. Or dry and itchy from the pink fiberglass insulation that is the cheapest, but not always the most efficient protection from the sun’s heat.

The More You Know

On top of the allergic reactions and respiratory distress often caused by the synthetic, fiberglass insulation, whether it’s pink or not, manufacturing it takes huge amounts of energy and blasts tons of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere.

Standard insulation is made up of plastic melted in giant gas-fired mills and infused with glass particles. Those furnaces are seldom, if ever turned off. Then to form the rolls you see in the hardware store, it is spun into strips with a binding agent. Sometimes it is also lined with liquid asphalt and the binding agent is sometimes formaldehyde.

The Better Solution

Even after our series of articles on Going Green around your home, it may seem odd that a pest solutions company would be concerned about insulation. But just like all of our other revolutionary products and services, Thermal Acoustical Pest Control, or TAP, is 100% organic and safe for your family.

Not All Insulation is Equal

Unlike most forms of insulation that use at most 20% recycled materials, TAP flips the script, consisting of 80% recycled materials. In fact, TAP consists of fire-retardant treated recyclable newsprint. Insulating just one standard size home with TAP means keeping 40 years worth of a family’s newsprint and paper waste out of the landfills.

Because of how fiberglass insulation is constructed, it actually lets more heat in during the summer. That means more work for your AC unit as the sun beats down. TAP on the other hand, is denser, making it 20-38% more energy efficient. It’s even been awarded the Energy Star Award by the US Environmental Protection Agency!

In addition to its environmental advantages, TAP is also good for your ears! Another benefit of TAP’s density is superior sound reduction.

Unparalleled Insect Prevention

On top of everything else we’ve mentioned, TAP is laced with boric acid. Boric acid is found in many common household products, including saline solution, laundry detergent and certain fertilizers. While safe for your family and pets, even small amounts of boric acid kills most insects, especially ants, cockroaches, silverfish and termites that come into contact with it.

Our clients from Lakewood Ranch to Port Charlotte love the added protection, quiet and especially the lower electric bills. If you’d like to learn more about Thermal Acoustical Pest Control, and get specific details on how you can get it installed in your home from one of our highly trained experts, just give us a call!

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10 Ways Your College Student Can Live Greener!

Going Green in College!The leaves aren’t quite turning color and falling off the trees yet (except the ones dying from the higher than average heat), but another clear indicator for the fall season has arrived – the beginning of the school year.

Whether your favorite students are packing up for their annual university road trip or still riding the bus, there are several ways that they can contribute to a greener world. Today we’ll focus on 10 ways your college student can go green!

Watch What You Eat & Drink

Granted, many college students are limited in their dining options, especially their freshman year of college. But even if you are stuck with the dining hall all year, there are some choices you can make.

  1. Grab Reusable Water Bottles

Save money and the environment. Let’s face it, even if you aren’t in Michigan, nobody wants to drink tap water anymore. But there are more options now than when your parents went to school. Instead of buying case after case of bottled water, invest in a reusable BPA-Free bottle (or two). Most schools now boast filtered water stations specifically designed for filling water bottles. And if your school doesn’t, for a few dollars more, you can screw a filter onto your faucet or use a Brita pitcher to get rid of the impurities and extra fluoride.

  1. Eat Less Meat

You want to stay healthy by eating more green leafy vegetables anyway, right? Nobody likes to admit they’ve fallen prey to the dreaded ‘freshmen fifteen.’ Along with cutting back on fried foods, starches and visits to the ever present dessert station, ease up on your meat consumption. You still need some for protein, unless you’re going full vegan, but not as much as you may think. And even skipping meat for just one meal a day can significantly reduce greenhouse gasses from filling the environment. The people in Wisconsin and California will thank you.

  1. Look for Sustainable Options

This may be harder to accomplish in the school cafeteria, but you can always make an effort. Look for locally-grown vegetables and fruits, sustainable seafood and brands that are known for being free-range friendly. Plus, supporting local farmers and fishermen will mean less transportation costs and fuel expended.

Save More Energy

  1. Set your thermostat higher.

Let’s be honest, can you really tell the temperature difference between 70 and 72? 80 and 78? But by adjusting even that tiny bit, you help save the environment, and reduce the school’s expense for electricity by 1-3% a day. Maybe they won’t lower your tuition, but those extra dollars can add up to better adjunct professors or added services in the Student Union.

  1. Use energy efficient light bulbs.

Yes, we know the school pays for the electric and they were already nice enough to supply light bulbs. And if they’re CFL’s or LED’s, just thank them and move on. But if they’re not, swap them out for your own energy saving bulbs and remember, you went to college to try and make a difference in the world. At the end of the year, you can put them back – or save the next student in your room the trouble.

  1. Power down.

Turn off the lights when you leave the room – including the ones in the laundry and other common rooms. If you flipped the switch on, flip it off when you leave, unless someone else is in the room. Most of our computers and phones are programmed to stop sucking juice when they’re fully charged, but double check your devices to make sure.

  1. Follow the usual Green Practices.

Most of us are used to recycling now. Don’t stop just because you’re not living with your parents. Take advantage of dual-purpose trash cans, Big Belly solar recycling units, or the Reverse Vending Machines many schools have installed on campus. Also bring your reusable bags when you do venture into local shopping centers. And embrace the college lifestyle – buy less and borrow from your neighbors. Most textbooks aren’t in e-form yet, but your music, movies and most other books are.

Spend More Energy (the Right Way)

  1. Try healthier, alternative travel methods.

Who needs a car, right? Okay, sometimes you do, but most college cities have a decent public transit system. The school itself might even have one. But for shorter trips, walk or bicycle. Your body needs the exercise, you’ll feel healthier and you’ll be doing your part for the environment.

  1. Take electronic notes.

They’re called notebook computers for a reason! You can type or hand scribe notes on most tablets these days – or even record the whole lecture if it’s going too fast or too dense. Plus, with ease of sharing via email, Bluetooth, and the Cloud, you can quickly exchange notes, build collaborative flash cards and more. And you won’t get that nasty spiral groove in your forearm.

  1. Be aware of your chemical footprint.

Avoid aerosol sprays. Even though they’ve improved the process since your parents were spritzing their big 80’s hair with Aquanet, pump sprays are still better for the environment. Also, look for environmentally responsible brand labels. Body care, beauty and cleaning items sporting those seals typically aren’t tested on animals and have fewer harsh chemicals for you and the world to be exposed to.

The more green practices you put into place, the more you can enjoy a guilt-free college experience!

For your parents back home, they can reduce the chemicals they’re exposed to by signing up for our Go Green Plus 3! At Good News Pest Solutions, we only use reduced risk and pesticide- exempt pest control solutions for our customers from Bradenton Beach to Port Charlotte. Live healthier while keeping the creepy crawlies out of your house. For more information, give us a call!

Click here for more tips on Going Green around your home!

Ways to Go Green in Your Pool

Ways to Go Green in Your PoolIn the midst of the hot summer months, you’re probably not thinking much about going green in your pool. Unless, of course, you’re worried about excessive algae deposits thanks to our near daily rainfall here on Florida’s Gulf Coast.

Spending a few minutes now could save you from a potential heart attack a month from now when you get the electric bill.  At the very least, the bill will be smaller.

Read on for some steps you can take, even while you’re lounging by the pool, and some that you can prepare for that’ll improve your energy efficiency during the off months as well.

Keep the Water Level

One of the biggest ongoing expenses for swimming pools is the need to add water.

Covering up a pool with a solar blanket will not only cut down on 97% of evaporated water loss, but will also keep in the heat the pool builds up during the day. That way it takes less energy to heat it back up, if you want or need that. Keeping the pool at a relatively constant temperature also helps with avoiding algae build-up and reduces the need for certain chemicals by 30-60 percent.

You’ll want to have an easy way to roll the cover on and off, too. A pool that is covered too often during sunny days will start to build up excess chlorine.

Another way to keep your pool topped off is to take advantage of our summer rains. Not just the water that lands in the pool, but for a few dollars, you can install rooftop gutters that drain down into the pool. Be sure to use a debris filter on the end leading to the pool to cut down on leaves and such. Then, when you check the pool filter, clear that too.

Below the Waterline

If you have an older pool, consider paying to install LED lights instead of the older traditional bulbs that used to be used. It’ll cost you $200-500 depending on the system you choose to switch to, but you’ll make that money up in reduced costs within the first couple of years.

Make sure you’re using an environmentally-friendly pool filter. Cartridge filters are the easiest to clean and maintain. Sand filters require backwashing to really clean them properly, using thousands of gallons of water a year.

Your filters should also be automated. Newer filter systems come with a timer, but you can easily use a standard appliance electrical timer at the outlet to make sure the system runs only 6-12 hours a day. This saves energy and reduces the need for more chemicals as well. And if you’re not using the pool regularly, dial it down to 2 hours a day.

Consider making the bottom of the pool darker. The pool will heat up quicker from the sun, and depending on the pebble or stone bottom installed, it can help maintain a constant temperature across the pool longer.

Make sure you’re using the right size pool pump. Most pools can be maintained just as well with smaller, high-efficiency pumps, or even one that runs on solar power. Just like the filter, set a timer on the pump so it’s not running when it doesn’t need to.

Look into a heat pump pool heater. As long as temperatures are above 45º F, the heat pump pool heater is the best choice for heating pools. The heat pump pool heater captures and circulates heat across the pool instead of just heating everything like an electric or gas pool heater.

Above the Waterline

Of course, the best pool heater is the sun above us. Installing select solar panels on your roof can heat water while generating lower cost electricity for other pool and home needs. The upfront cost can be considerable, but some areas offer rebates for installing solar, and even if they don’t, the power savings will add up quickly.

The more you clean your pool yourself the less work the filter and pool vacuum need to do. Getting into the habit of manually sweeping the pool with a long handled net can add life to your pool equipment.

In Florida, we’re required to maintain a fence or screen enclosure around our pools. But consider taking this one step further. If you plant shrubbery and trees around the perimeter, you’ll reduce evaporation and heat loss while enhancing the look of your yard. Plus, if you opt for native Xeriscape, you’re reducing your lawn watering costs and augmenting the natural environment.

Testing the Waters

Testing your pool on a consistent basis means less chance of having to shock your pool with chlorine or other heavy chemicals. Maintaining the proper balance uses fewer chemicals and is safer for your family as well. Consider installing an ionizer or a UV light system to reduce chlorine use by 50-80%.

Nowadays, you don’t have to settle for a chemically-infused freshwater pool. Consider switching to a more environmentally-friendly salt water pool. The water is gentler to the skin, leaves your skin feeling softer, and feels normal because it’s more like the environment of our mother’s womb. The salt also helps cut down on algae buildup, costing less for maintenance.

All-natural is something we love here at Good News Pest Solutions. Years ago, we committed to using only natural, safe pest control solutions, and we’ve never looked back. Ask our customers from Apollo Beach to Bradenton to Port Charlotte and they’ll tell you our solutions are more effective and cost-efficient than the harsh chemicals so many other companies use. If you’d like to learn more, give us a call!

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Ways to Go Green in Your Yard

Ways to Go Green in Your YardWe typically spend more time outdoors during the summer months than the rest of the year. So, we’re taking a slight detour in our quest to make your home as environmentally efficient as it can be. This month we’ll be looking for ways to go green… in your yard!

Plant Something!

The first step to going green is probably the most obvious.

Grow Your Own Food

Having your own garden can be convenient, healthier, and more cost-effective. Plus, it also reduces greenhouse emissions, and reduces carbon monoxide in the immediate area. And thanks to our year-round growing season on the Gulf Coast of Florida, there’s never a time you can’t keep your kitchen and family stocked with fresh veggies. Summer in Florida is particularly good for sweet potatoes, peppers, lima beans and eggplants. Consider also planting a whole crop of cowpeas every few summers to help bring nitrogen and nutrients back to the soil. Organic seeds aren’t a must but can also add a healthier touch.

Cast a Little Shade

There’s an old saying that the best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago and the second best time is now. Until they get the time machine perfected, there’s no better time than now to do your part. Trees help purify the air, give wildlife a home, and offer shade to your home, reducing cooling costs in the summer. Of course, palm & citrus trees are popular here. But also consider Florida native trees that do well in our environment while minimizing water use. Acacia, red maples, strongbark, marlberry, and wild cinnamon (canella) trees are all good options.

Manage Your Water

And speaking of limiting water…

Timing is Everything

By watering your garden or lawn during the coolest part of the day, you’ll ensure that more of it is absorbed by the soil. That means less as well as more efficient watering. Be aware of any watering restrictions your community places on homes and follow those guidelines.

Not Just for Monkeys or Laughs!

Especially during our rainy season, collecting excess in a rain barrel allows you to spread out the natural progression of the water flow and conserve the water you have to pay to bring in. You can even build your own inexpensively. Just make sure that the barrel is properly sealed or you’ll end up with a nice mosquito breeding ground instead – another good reason to collect the rain rather than letting it sit around.

Alternative Fuels

Leftovers for Life

If you have the available space, consider creating a composting area. Your scraps of food and leftovers become ‘black gold,’ enriching our  sandy soil with more nutrients. You can even add pulled weeds and tree-fallen fruit to the mix.

Get ‘Reel’ Man-Power

This is a harder option to consider in our Florida heat and humidity and it’s not recommended for large acres of land. But if you just mow the ¼ acre most of us live on, consider going old school with your lawn mower – you know, without the motor! You’ll still get the exercise of a push mower with the added benefit of not using gas or oil to run and maintain it. Also, it’s easier to fix with fewer broken blades. And you can breathe easier too.

Xeriscape 

How about considering no lawn at all? Less watering, less mowing and these days you can use a variety of hardy, native Florida plants to make a fabulous looking yard without any grass to mow. You’ll also tend to see more butterflies, bees and other pollinators coming around. Sunshine Mimosas, Gaillardia, Silver Buttonwoods and Helianthus make for a beautiful setting. Use stone accents to compliment the floral or build a path through for a unique Florida yard.

Local Yokels are the Best

Instead of shopping for the commercially harvested fruit and veggies at Publix or Winn Dixie, look for a Local Farmer’s Market, Co-op, or Community Supported Agriculture Group.  That way, you’re getting the freshest foods and supporting your local farmers. There’s often opportunity for honey, sugar cane and a variety of homemade citrus edibles as well.

Organic Answers

The beauty of most of these tips is that they help eliminate the need for harsh chemical fertilizers and herbicides. If need be, look for natural, organic substitutes for chemical weed killers.

As for pesticides, Good News Pest Solutions is an industry leader in adopting 100% all natural solutions to common pest problems. We’ve found them to be far more effective as well as safe for your family and pets. Our clients from Bradenton to Port Charlotte can’t say enough about how happy they are with the service from our highly-trained staff. For more information, give us a call!

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Going Green in Your Garage

Ways to Go Green in Your GarageRegardless whether you use your garage to park your car, as a toolshed and project site, as an oversize clutter closet, or some combination thereof, it probably isn’t the first place you think of when you consider transforming your home into a more energy efficient and environmentally safe place.

But there are actually several ways you can make even your garage greener.

Let There Be Light!

Of course, the easiest and cheapest step to going green in your garage is to simply swap out the existing light bulbs with longer-lasting, energy efficient CFL and LED bulbs.

If your home is older and you have the old hanging fluorescent tubes in your garage, invest in an LED panel or two. There are several options – even a way to retrofit your existing hanging fixture with LED’s that are bright, and use considerably less electricity, and generate less heat.

Most garages are built with one or fewer windows. But by adding a skylight, or a couple extra, energy efficient windows, you can cut down on the electric bill by letting more light into the room. Sure you could just open the garage door, but here in the Gulf Coast of Florida, we know that just leads to lots of mosquitoes and flies buzzing about.

Plus, even if your attached garage isn’t climate controlled (most aren’t), opening the door can pull some of the air from the house to compensate, causing the AC or heating unit to work harder and increase electric costs.

The Freon Freeze Out

Speaking of your AC unit… As of January 1, 2020, Refrigerant R-22, aka, FREON will no longer be produced or imported into the United States. Almost all AC units installed after 2010 don’t use R-22, but if you have an older system, you might want to look into having it replaced.

The average life for an AC unit is 11-12 years, but because we use our systems almost year round here in Florida, it could be shorter. Even if your current system isn’t using Freon, you might want to upgrade to a more efficient system anyways to save some money in the long run. Have a certified technician you trust check your system to see how it’s doing and what your options are.

Fill In the Gaps

Whether or not your garage is connected to the home AC unit, using caulk to seal any openings (like where your phone and cable used to come into the house, adding weatherstripping and threshold seals to the doors, including the big one, can keep the temperature under control and where it belongs. The seals also add an extra layer of protection against a lot of bugs and rodents that might try to squeeze in.

If you notice that the garage door doesn’t quite stand tight against the vinyl side seals, tightening loose screws inside the door can help.

If you’ve already got weatherstripping and seals installed, they need to be checked periodically to make sure they’ve still got the proper flexibility and no cracks.

Insulate Yourself

While the exterior walls on most garages are concrete block and won’t need it, all of the walls that are shared with your home should be properly insulated. Likely this was handled by the builders at the time of construction, but you should do your due diligence and check it yourself.

There are several ways to check for insulation in your walls with a little effort. You should also check your attic, since it covers your whole home, and what the building code requires is less than the recommended amount by the Department of Energy.

When replacing or replenishing insulation, we recommend our Thermal Acoustical Pest Control (TAP) blown insulation. It’s completely green, safe for everyone except certain insects you want to keep out of your home. It’s also fire-retardant, made of recycled newsprint, and more efficient than standard insulation.

A Few Other Tips

  • If you’ve got the extra cash, consider replacing your garage door with a triple-layer door to help maintain the temperature in the garage. You can even get one made from recycled goods!
  • Even if your community doesn’t offer separate containers for garbage, recycling, and yard waste, you can implement a system yourself, either inside or on the side of your garage.
  • Electric and hybrid vehicles are becoming more popular across the United States. If you own one, you can install a charging station in your garage. Lawmakers in Tallahassee are currently looking at funding grants to help encourage low-emission vehicle use.
  • If you’re considering building an additional detached garage, look for eco-friendly building material options, including non-Portland cement.

If you would like more information on TAP or any of the other environmentally friendly pest control options Good News Pest Solutions offers to homes and businesses from Bradenton Beach to Port Charlotte, give us a call and one of our knowledgeable technicians would be happy to help!

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