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Posted By: SustainLane Staff

Myth: Shutting down a computer causes more harm to the hard drive and other components than the worth of the energy saved.

Conclusion: BUSTED.

This eco-myth was sent in by a SustainLane community member:

"Shutting down a computer causes more harm to the hard drive and other components than the worth of the energy saved. This myth keeps so many of my friends and co-workers machines on 24/7 (even over 4-day holiday weekends).”

Truth: Years ago, the accepted belief was that frequent starts and stops to your hard drive made it more prone to crashing. But with improved technology, it’s perfectly safe to start and stop your hard drive. Experts now say that the biggest threat to your hard drive is actually heat, which will cause your hard drive to age prematurely. Keep your computer as cool as possible as often as possible: shut it down when it’s not being used.

Powering down your computer at night will extend the life of your hard drive and conserve electricity. To save even more power, switch your computer monitor off when you leave your desk for long periods of time, like for lunch breaks or meetings.

More Greenbusters »

Have a friend who swears turning off the light when you leave a room actually wastes energy? Does your uncle tell you Hummers are more eco-friendly than hybrids? Whatever the eco myth, we'll help you get to the bottom of it. Submit your myth to SustainLane Greenbusters.

Myth: Your computer screen uses less energy to project a black background than a white one. So you can save watts by using websites like, which turn the screen black for Google searches.


Conclusion: POSSIBLE.

Truth: You can save energy by using a blackened screen if you’re using an old-fashioned CRT (cathode-ray tube) computer monitor—which few Americans have.

Three quarters of the web jockeys on earth have LCD (liquid crystal display) monitors, and these barely see any energy benefit from a black screen, the Wall Street Journal says. To investigate Blackle -- which gives you Google searches with a black background and white print -- the newspaper asked a consulting firm to run a “Blackle versus regular Google” test on a CRT and a LCD. The color on the screen mattered very little for the LCD screen. The CRT screen with Blackle saw savings of between 5 percent and 20 percent.

The folks at put a much more positive spin on blackouts. The website from Heap Media urges you to make Blackle your home page to save energy, “one search at a time.” “A given monitor requires more power to display a white (or light) screen than a black (or dark) screen," Blackle says.

The key words, here, are “given monitor.”

That doesn’t mean the concept doesn’t have some merit, of course. The theory is largely based on a January 2007 blog by eco-wonk Mark Ontkush called “Black Google Would Save 750 Megawatt-hours a Year.” In a follow-up post to Treehugger, Ontkush explained that a CRT monitor “uses about 74 watts to display an all white web page, but only uses 59 watts to display an all black page.” Plenty of CRTs still exist, particularly in China and Latin America, he wrote. If all the Google searchers on CRTs switched to black, he estimated it would save about $75,000 worth of energy annually.

So if you have a CRT monitor — and your eyes don’t hurt reading white-on-black — going black can be green. If you don’t like Blackle, you could try other sites like Cleanblack. And if you don’t want total blackness, you can try EMERGY-C, which gives you a low-watt palette that isn’t as eye straining. There’s nothing to lose but your hues.

*This eco-myth was submitted by SustainLane user Emily K. Thanks, Emily!





By Green Living Tips | Published  12/6/2008

There's so many merchants in the green space now, including a fair share of companies unfortunately engaging in greenwashing - that is, touting products with claims they are environmentally friendly when in fact, they really aren't.

It can be hard for the little guys and those businesses genuinely committed to making a difference to get noticed - unless they have bags of money for advertising.

To help address this, I'm now offering free advertising to businesses that sell green products and services.

You can be showcased on Green Living Tips in an article dedicated to you at absolutely no cost! Free, nix, nada, no money changes hands. This offer is open to businesses big and small in all countries.

This is a great way to get long term exposure to tens of thousands of Green Living Tips readers each month.

You'll have home page coverage and additionally, you'll get a mention in my newsletter which currently goes out to around 19,000 double opt in subscribers and a mention on GLT's Twitter and Facebook pages.

There is a section on GLT dedicated just to coupons and discounts for green goods and services. The  category receives a lot of traffic and offers to date have shown some really positive results according to participating merchants.

How to get listed

There's a small catch (isn't there always).

Aside from your goods and services needing to be authentically green; you need to provide some sort of coupon or easily redeemable discount to Green Living Tips readers and subscribers. This way everyone wins - you gain more customers and GLT subscribers and visitors get something in return :)

You'll also need to supply a written piece (minimum of 250 words of original content) regarding your company and your products and their environmental attributes. I'll then turn it into a full showcase article. You'll find it's certainly worth the effort for the ongoing coverage you'll receive!

For further details about submitting your business and offer for this free advertising service, please contact me with some brief details about your business and the coupon or discount you'd like to provide.

I'll only be publishing a couple of green coupons and deals a week, so be sure to get in quick for rapid coverage!

If you have friends or colleagues who run a business related to the environmental sector and green living, please let them know about this initiative!

PLEASE NOTE: I will not be able to accept discount offers from distributors working under network marketing or MLM programs.


Michelle K. Boscia, CLTC

Creative Ways to Green Your Wardrobe

We've all heard the mantra: reduce, reuse, recycle. But, did you know that you could adopt such sustainable behavior when it comes to the clothes in your closet? With a little creativity and imagination, you can reduce clutter, reuse items you already have, and recycle old stuff into unique, new outfits. Besides looking good, you'll be protecting the environment for future generations.

Consider the following tips to green your wardrobe:

Turn old clothing into new outfits: Take some time to dig through your closet, and pull out items that have gotten lost in the clutter. Try combining these items in new ways. A mid-thigh dress could serve as a tunic with jeans, or an old scarf could be turned into a new belt. When you buy new jeans, turn an old pair into cut-offs.

For every item of clothing you buy or receive as a gift, give one item away: Most of us have items of clothing that we haven't worn in months, or even years. Your closet could be full of items you could donate and never even miss. A good rule of thumb is if it has been hanging in your closet for one year and you haven't worn it, donate it to charity.

Remember, fashion is cyclical: This means that old clothes from the 70s and 80s, including hand-me-downs, are back in style. Dig around your parents' and grandparents' closets and attics for old clothing and accessories that are so outdated that they're back in vogue. One of dad's old, plaid ties, for example, can add flair to any outfit. Or, grandma's old lace-up boots may look great with a long skirt. Broaches from a bygone era can add an eccentric flair to plain sweaters or jackets.

Hunt for treasures in consignment shops, in thrift stores, and at yard sales: Shopping for vintage clothing at second-hand shops has several perks. First, the price is right. You may be able to get five or six items for the price of one item at a department store. Second, you aren't likely to see someone wearing the same thing. Third, everything you buy is already soft and broken-in, particularly jeans. So, go ahead and hunt for treasures. Just be sure to wash before wearing.

Shop online for green deals: You can find just about anything on the Internet these days, including specialty green clothing, clothing made from recycled materials, or all-organic lines. The organic clothing market is growing quickly, which means that products are becoming more affordable and more accessible. You can find pure, durable fabrics that are made in sweatshop-free environments and certified fair labor apparel, which means that the items have been produced with socially responsible practices both in agricultural production and all stages of the post-harvest production process.

Resist fads: Stores that pass quickly from trend to trend are often filled with cheap, poorly made clothing. While they may be budget friendly, they are often wasteful, especially when you consider manufacturing and shipping. Instead, seek to purchase classic clothing that is well-made. A select few pieces may last longer, and you won't have to replace clothing as frequently.

Host a clothing swap: Invite some friends to clean out their closets and gather swappable items, including clothes, shoes, and accessories. You may limit the items per person to about ten or twelve, and remember, the more swappers you invite, the more sizes and styles will be available to other swappers. Generally, garments and/or accessories are checked in before the exchange begins. In return for their items, guests are given one button or ticket per item, which serves as currency for buying new items. After the swap, any leftover items may be donated to local charities.

Greening your wardrobe involves more than just color. You can do your part to protect the environment by reducing, reusing, and recycling your clothing.

Live and Let Live:
Tips for Animal-Friendly Living

From family pets to wildlife, all animals deserve to be treated humanely. Consider the following tips to promote harmonious coexistence with our furry friends:

  • If a bird accidentally becomes trapped inside your home, wait until dark. Then, turn off all indoor lights, open a window, and turn on an outside light���the bird will usually fly out toward the light.
  • Birds have been known to nest and raise their young in chimneys. If a bird sits on top of a chimney for warmth, it can inhale toxic fumes or fall down the chimney. To avoid this, cap your chimney. This will prevent birds, squirrels, and other animals from entering the chimney. It will also keep out rain and leaves.
  • Hold on to those helium balloons! They may rise gracefully, but they eventually come down as litter. Sea creatures like turtles, dolphins, and whales often mistake them for jellyfish. If swallowed, they can cause an intestinal blockage and result in death.
  • Twine, rope, and wire can all get tangled around an unsuspecting animal. When disposing of twine or rope, tie it into a big knot. Twist wire into a ball or knot and throw it in a trash can.
  • Dispose of plastic properly. For example, the plastic that holds a six-pack of cans together can look like food to an animal if it ends up in water. Animals can get hurt or killed when these get wrapped around their mouths or necks. Always cut plastic six-pack holders into little pieces and dispose of them in a trash can.
  • Whether floppy-eared or cotton-tailed, wild rabbits are adorable and entertaining���unless they are destroying your newly planted flower beds and vegetable gardens! To keep rabbits away from your crops, cut corn cobs in half and soak them in vinegar for 24 hours. Place them in your garden and replace every two weeks or so. The smell of vinegar is a natural rabbit repellent.
  • If squirrels are digging up your yard in search of food, deter them and other animals by planting non-edible flowers, such as daffodils. Or, after planting, lay a mesh wire over the soil. Be sure the openings in the mesh are big enough for the plants to grow, but not big enough for animals to invade.
  • Feeding wildlife, including birds, creates an artificial food source that will also attract other animals. Be cautious before leaving any food outside for wild neighbors.
  • Be sure there are no food sources available by keeping garbage containers sealed and only putting your trash out on pick-up day. This will help keep squirrels, raccoons, and other small animals away.
  • Yellow jackets are less likely to sting if they are not disturbed. If one is nearby, simply cover your face with your hands and slowly walk away. They are more likely to sting if they feel threatened by swatting or any quick movement of the arms or legs. Stay calm and move slowly.

Our everyday actions have a rippling affect on the environment and the other creatures with whom we share the planet Earth. Why not create an inviting space in your yard or garden for butterflies, hummingbirds, and other creatures? The more time you spend simply observing wildlife, the more you will want to live and let live.

 My mission is to help educate and protect Americans from the potentially significant costs of long-term care. Many families do not realize how important long-term care insurance can be until they are either uninsurable or actually need long-term care. I don't want that to happen to you!

I specialize in long-term care insurance plans that are affordable and comprehensive for individuals, associations, or businesses. I can help assist you in designing the proper plan for you and your family.

49306 09/02/10

© 2010 Genworth Financial, Inc. All rights reserved. Genworth, Genworth Financial and the Genworth logoare service marks of Genworth Financial, Inc.

Affiliated companies include Genworth Life Insurance Company and in New York, Genworth Life InsuranceCompany of New York. Administrative Offices: Richmond, Virginia



Green Your Shopping Trip -- Reusable Bags

Canvas_bag_thumbnail_2From the thrift store to the produce stand, our shopping tips will help you keep your green.

Tip #1: Remember the Bag

Whether you've made your own sacks from recycled t-shirts or purchased totes that support a good cause, the reusable bag is a shopping must-have. Amassing a collection of eco-friendly bags is the easy part--remembering to bring them every time you go to the store can be tricky. Be prepared for spur-of-the-moment sprees by storing extra canvas or hemp bags in your bike basket, office cubicle, and the trunk of your car. Stash a small reusable produce bag in your purse or briefcase so that if you decide to swing by the farmers' market on your lunch hour, you won't have to juggle your fruit to avoid the ol' plastic bag.

Is green shopping your bag? Share our tip!


Why Go Green: 8 Ways to Make the Case
by Trey Granger Published on July 13th, 2009

This story is part of Earth911’s “Green Eight” series, where we showcase eight ways to green your life in various areas.
We’ve all been there. A co-worker or family member throws that plastic bottle in the trash. Your response:  “Hey, that’s recyclable!”  In return, you get a blank stare followed by “So…Why does it matter?” While thousands of reasons flood your brain, how do you translate those into a simple, easy statement that sums it all up?
Don’t worry. We are here to sort through all the mumbo-jumbo with some stock replies that lay out easy answers to that complex question. From reduce to reuse, with a  little recycle mixed in, our eight green activities are easy to translate to even the toughest of crowds.
Bored? Head outside for a bike ride or a round of tennis. You'll work up a sweet and get back to nature. Photo:
Bored? Head outside for a bike ride or a round of tennis. You'll work up a sweet and get back to nature. Photo:
1. Take It Outside

Why Apply:
In general, outdoor activities use less energy while offering a more natural experience, and often times, cleaner air. For all our outdoor worries, we spend up to 90 percent of our lives indoors, where pollution levels are often higher than they are outdoors, based on volatile organic compounds released by paint and cleaning supplies.
How to Do It: Take a hike! We’re not trying to throw you out but, is a great place to find info on national parks, hiking trails and forests.
2. Power from the People

Why Apply:
Energy use is a huge deal, but why? All energy sources, including fossil fuels, coal and natural gas, give us the ability to run our cars and power our homes. However, energy use is not without its consequences. The harvesting, production and use of these energy sources leads to byproducts and in some cases, greenhouse gases. It’s easy to know what your impact is and more important, how to effect it. There are carbon calculators, energy audits and even programs that weigh your recycling.
How to Do It: Monitor energy usage on your utility bill and set a target for the following month. You can find high energy-draining devices using a Kill-a-Watt and save heating/cooling energy with a programmable thermostat. Check your next bill for a progress update and keep reducing until you hit the target.
3. Upgrade Your Plastic Recycling

Why Apply:
You may already recycle plastic bottles in your curbside program and bags at your grocery store, and this represents a good majority of the plastic we use. But as a whole, we recycle less than 7 percent of plastic, and often times this plastic is landfilled because we don’t know where else to take it.
How to Do It:
  1. Take bottle caps to your local Aveda store
  2. Mail used gift cards, hotel key cards and other plastic cards to Earthworks
  3. Ask your local shipping store if it reuses packing peanuts and Styrofoam blocks
  4. Your local Whole Foods may accept Brita filters for recycling
  5. If you have biodegradable plastic, it can be commercially composted
    Add some green to your backyard and create a healthy output of resources for your garden. Photo:
4. Let Organics Nourish Your Yard

Why Apply:
A healthy garden is beneficial to the environment. But part of every garden is yard waste, such as leaves, weeds and tree trimmings. This organic material can be combined with food waste in a composting bin, which converts it into nutrient-rich fertilizer to use in the garden. In laymen terms, your garbage from yesterday could be your free soil of tomorrow.
How to Do It: Start a compost pile. If that step is down the line a little, you can do other things today to help get you in the swing of things.  The next time you mow the lawn, let grass clippings decompose instead of collecting them. This is known as grasscycling and provides nutrients to the remaining grass while reducing the water requirements for your lawn.
5. Give Your Car Some DIY Love

Why Apply:
Many times we associate gas mileage with how eco-friendly our car is, and that’s understandable. But just because a car is capable of 30 mpg doesn’t mean you’ll automatically achieve it. In addition to smart driving, there are several do-it-yourself jobs that can improve your car’s performance and save you money. For example, under-inflated tires can significantly reduce your gas mileage and reduce the life of your tires.
How to Do It: DIY activities for your car maintenance range from monitoring/re-filling your car fluids to testing your air conditioning system. If you’re not much of a car person, make sure you stay on track for schedule maintenance with your dealership or mechanic.
6. Make Your Paperless Documents Shine

Why Apply: The idea of going paperless makes sense, especially since it accounts for about a third of our total waste. Beyond the waste factor, non-printed items can easily be jazzed up to make a better impact on the viewer. Save trees and get creative, it’s a win-win.
How to Do It: Take advantage of features offered in email programs and word processing documents. You can often import templates and choose non-traditional fonts that will stand out on a computer screen. Play with color and photos and let your imagination be your guide.
Utilize social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter to spread the word about your eco-activities. Photo:
Utilize social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter to spread the word about your eco-activities. Photo:
7. Speak Up

Why Apply: How many times have you heard one person can’t make a difference? Regardless of how you feel about the statement, one person is not what it use to be. With the Internet, most people have a much larger reach then they did 10 years ago.
No matter how you decide to be green, you have an opportunity to educate others in the process. In today’s age of blog posts, Facebook updates and hourly Tweets, there are plenty of outlets to green by example.
How to Do It: After you’ve finished making your own household cleaners, tell others your secret recipe and steps to avoid. You can even brew extra and offer it to friends to get them started.
8. Small Things Add Up

Why to Apply:
Think those things you do every day are not making a big difference? Believe it or not, you can always make your green activities even greener. Carpooling takes one car off the road, but a pair of carpoolers taking public transportation once a week takes two cars off the road. It really starts to add up.
How to Do It: Let’s take a step further. You’ve already cut your shower time to reduce water use. Now, put a bucket underneath the faucet to capture water before you’ve reached the desired temperature. You can use this clean water for plants, washing your car or even flushing the toilet while using less water. It’s tweeking your everyday effort to make it even bigger.



Is Your Home Energy-Efficient?


  • Replace incandescent lightbulbs with compact fluorescent lamps.

  • Plug your electronics into a power strip, and turn that off when they're not in use.  

  • Keep cell phone chargers and other power converters unplugged when not in use. 

  • Install energy-efficient windows. 
  • Upgrade from an older analog thermostat to a digital, programmable thermostat. 

  • Heat your water with natural gas instead of electricity. 

  • Check your house for drafts and other indications of degraded insulation.   

  • Request a free energy audit from your utility company.  

  • Plant deciduous trees around your house, particularly towards the south and southwest.







Energy sources are of two types: nonrenewable and renewable. Energy sources are considered nonrenewable if they cannot be replenished (made again) in a short period of time. On the other hand, renewable energy sources such as solar and wind can be replenished naturally in a short period of time.

Nonrenewable Basics

The four nonrenewable energy sources used most often are:

Nonrenewable energy sources come out of the ground as liquids, gases, and solids. Crude oil (petroleum) is the only commercial nonrenewable fuel that is naturally in liquid form. Natural gas and propane are normally gases, and coal is a solid.

Fossil Fuels Are Nonrenewable, but Not All Nonrenewable Energy Sources Are Fossil Fuels

Coal, petroleum, natural gas, and propane are all considered fossil fuels because they were formed from the buried remains of plants and animals that lived millions of years ago.

Uranium ore, a solid, is mined and converted to a fuel used at nuclear power plants. Uranium is not a fossil fuel, but is a nonrenewable fuel.


 The energy sources we use to make electricity can be renewable or non-renewable, but electricity itself is neither renewable nor non-renewable.

Electricity Basics

Electricity Is a Secondary Energy Source
A hand unplugging an electrical appliance from an outlet

Source: Stock photography (copyrighted)

Compact fluorescent light bulbs use a fraction of the electricity as incandescent light bulbs to produce the same amount of illumination.
Energy efficient light bulb.

Source: Stock photography (copyrighted)

Electricity is the flow of electrical power or charge. It is both a basic part of nature and one of our most widely used forms of energy.

Electricity is actually a secondary energy source, also referred to as an energy carrier. That means that we get electricity from the conversion of other sources of energy, such as coal, nuclear, or solar energy. These are called primary sources. The energy sources we use to make electricity can be renewable or non-renewable, but electricity itself is neither renewable or nonrenewable.

Electricity Use Has Dramatically Changed Our Daily Lives

Before electricity became available over 100 years ago, houses were lit with kerosene lamps, food was cooled in iceboxes, and rooms were warmed by wood-burning or coal-burning stoves.

Many scientists and inventors have worked to decipher the principles of electricity since the 1600s. Some notable accomplishments were made by Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Edison, and Nikola Tesla.

Benjamin Franklin demonstrated that lightning is electricity. Thomas Edison invented the first long-lasting incandescent light bulb.

Prior to 1879, direct current (DC) electricity had been used in arc lights for outdoor lighting. In the late 1800s, Nikola Tesla pioneered the generation, transmission, and use of alternating current (AC) electricity, which can be transmitted over much greater distances than direct current. Tesla's inventions used electricity to bring indoor lighting to our homes and to power industrial machines.

Despite its great importance in our daily lives, few of us probably stop to think what life would be like without electricity. Like air and water, we tend to take electricity for granted. But we use electricity to do many jobs for us every day — from lighting, heating, and cooling our homes to powering our televisions and computers.


 Renewable energy sources including biomass, hydropower, geothermal, wind, and solar provide 7% of the energy used in the United States. Most renewable energy goes to producing electricity.
Renewable Basics

What Is Renewable Energy?

Renewable energy sources can be replenished in a short period of time. The five renewable sources used most often are:

What Role Does Renewable Energy Play in the United States?

The use of renewable energy is not new. More than 150 years ago, wood, which is one form of biomass, supplied up to 90% of our energy needs. As the use of coal, petroleum, and natural gas expanded, the United States became less reliant on wood as an energy source. Today, we are looking again at renewable sources to find new ways to use them to help meet our energy needs.

In 2008, consumption of renewable sources in the United States totaled 7.3 quadrillion Btu — 1 quadrillion is the number 1 followed by 15 zeros — or about 7% of all energy used nationally.

The Role of Renewable Energy Consumption in the Nation's Energy Supply, 2008
Image of pie chart: petroleum  37%, nuclear  9%, natural gas 24%, coal 23%, renewable 7%. Bar chart breakout of renewables: solar  1%, hydroelectric 34%, geothermal  5%, biomass  53%, wind   7%.
Click to enlarge »

Over half of renewable energy goes to producing electricity. About 9% of U.S. electricity was generated from renewable sources in 2008. The next largest use of renewable energy is the production of heat and steam for industrial purposes. Renewable fuels, such as ethanol, are also used for transportation and to provide heat for homes and businesses.

Renewable energy plays an important role in the supply of energy. When renewable energy sources are used, the demand for fossil fuels is reduced. Unlike fossil fuels, non-biomass renewable sources of energy (hydropower, geothermal, wind, and solar) do not directly emit greenhouse gases.

Why Don’t We Use More Renewable Energy?

In the past, renewable energy has generally been more expensive to produce and use than fossil fuels. Renewable resources are often located in remote areas, and it is expensive to build power lines to the cities where the electricity they produce is needed. The use of renewable sources is also limited by the fact that they are not always available — cloudy days reduce solar power; calm days reduce wind power; and droughts reduce the water available for hydropower.

The production and use of renewable fuels has grown more quickly in recent years as a result of higher prices for oil and natural gas, and a number of State and Federal Government incentives, including the Energy Policy Acts of 2002 and 2005.  The use of renewable fuels is expected to continue to grow over the next 30 years, although we will still rely on non-renewable fuels to meet most of our energy needs.

How Do We Measure Renewable Energy?

Each of the energy sources we use is measured, purchased, and sold in a different form. Many units of measurement are used to measure the energy we use.  Learn more about converting energy units in the Units and Calculators section. 


 Like electricity, hydrogen is a secondary source of energy. It stores and carries energy produced from other resources (fossil fuels, water, and biomass).
Hydrogen Basics

What Is Hydrogen?

Hydrogen is the simplest element. Each atom of hydrogen has only one proton. It is also the most plentiful gas in the universe. Stars like the sun are made primarily of hydrogen.

The sun is basically a giant ball of hydrogen and helium gases. In the sun's core, hydrogen atoms combine to form helium atoms. This process — called fusion — gives off radiant energy.

This radiant energy sustains life on Earth. It gives us light and makes plants grow. It makes the wind blow and rain fall. It is stored as chemical energy in fossil fuels. Most of the energy we use today originally came from the sun's radiant energy.

Hydrogen gas is so much lighter than air that it rises fast and is quickly ejected from the atmosphere. This is why hydrogen as a gas (H2) is not found by itself on Earth. It is found only in compound form with other elements. Hydrogen combined with oxygen, is water (H2O). Hydrogen combined with carbon forms different compounds, including methane (CH4), coal, and petroleum. Hydrogen is also found in all growing things — for example, biomass. It is also an abundant element in the Earth's crust.

Hydrogen has the highest energy content of any common fuel by weight (about three times more than gasoline), but the lowest energy content by volume (about four times less than gasoline).

Hydrogen Is an Energy Carrier

Energy carriers move energy in a useable form from one place to another. Electricity is the most well-known energy carrier. We use electricity to move the energy in coal, uranium, and other energy sources from power plants to homes and businesses. We also use electricity to move the energy in flowing water from hydropower dams to consumers. For many energy needs, it is much easier to use electricity than the energy sources themselves.

Like electricity, hydrogen is an energy carrier and must be produced from another substance. Hydrogen is not currently widely used, but it has potential as an energy carrier in the future. Hydrogen can be produced from a variety of resources (water, fossil fuels, or biomass) and is a byproduct of other chemical processes.

How Is Hydrogen Made?

Because hydrogen doesn't exist on Earth as a gas, it must be separated from other elements. Hydrogen atoms can be separated from water, biomass, or natural gas molecules. The two most common methods for producing hydrogen are steam reforming and electrolysis (water splitting). Scientists have discovered that even some algae and bacteria give off hydrogen.

Steam Reforming Is a Widely-Used Method of Hydrogen Production

Steam reforming is currently the least expensive method of producing hydrogen and accounts for about 95% of the hydrogen produced in the United States. This method is used in industries to separate hydrogen atoms from carbon atoms in methane (CH4). But the steam reforming process results in greenhouse gas emissions that are linked with global warming.1

Electrolysis Creates No Emissions but Is Costly

Electrolysis is a process that splits hydrogen from water. It results in no emissions, but it is currently an expensive process. New technologies are currently being developed.

Hydrogen can be produced at large central facilities or at small plants for local use.

How Much Hydrogen Is Produced in the United States?

About 9 million metric tons of hydrogen are produced in the United States annually, enough to power 20-30 million cars or 5-8 million homes. Most of this hydrogen is produced in three States: California, Louisiana, and Texas.

1. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Climate Change State of Knowledge.

Most Hydrogen Is Used in Refining, Treating Metals, and Processing Foods

Nearly all of hydrogen consumed in the United States is used by industry for refining, treating metals, and processing foods.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is the primary user of hydrogen as an energy fuel; it has used hydrogen for years in the space program. Liquid hydrogen fuel lifts NASA's space shuttles into orbit. Hydrogen batteries, called fuel cells, power the shuttle’s electrical systems. The only by-product is pure water, which the crew uses as drinking water.

Hydrogen Fuel Cells Produce Electricity

Hydrogen fuel cells (batteries) make electricity. They are very efficient, but expensive to build. Small fuel cells can power electric cars. Large fuel cells can provide electricity in remote places with no power lines.

Because of the high cost to build fuel cells, large hydrogen power plants won't be built for a while. However, fuel cells are being used in some places as a source of emergency power, from hospitals to wilderness locations.

Portable fuel cells are being sold to provide longer power for laptop computers, cell phones, and military applications.

Hydrogen Use in Vehicles

Today, there are an estimated 200 to 300 hydrogen-fueled vehicles in the United States. Most of these vehicles are buses and automobiles powered by electric motors. They store hydrogen gas or liquid on board and convert the hydrogen into electricity for the motor using a fuel cell. Only a few of these vehicles burn the hydrogen directly (producing almost no pollution).

The present cost of fuel cell vehicles greatly exceeds that of conventional vehicles in large part due to the expense of producing fuel cells.

Hydrogen vehicles are starting to move from the laboratory to the road. The U.S. Postal Service, a package delivery company, a few park rangers, and a few private utility companies are also using hydrogen vehicles.

The Refueling Challenge

Currently, there are 58 hydrogen refueling stations in the United States, about half of which are located in California. There are so-called “chicken and egg” questions that hydrogen developers are working hard to solve, including: who will buy hydrogen cars if there are no refueling stations? And who will pay to build a refueling station if there are no cars and customers? 



Tips for Improving Air Quality


Tips for Improving Air Quality

Stay away from smoke.

Give up smoking, discourage smoking in your home, ask smokers to smoke outdoors or ventilate rooms in which smoking is taking place.

Support measures to strengthen air quality control in your community.
Encourage car pooling, mass transit, and cleaner manufacturing processes.

Plant a tree.
Protecting and planting trees will help create natural air filters in our cities and neighborhoods.

Drive a fuel efficient vehicle, walk or bicycle.

Your Child's Health

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, children, far more than adults, have an increased susceptibility to the environmental hazards that wreak havoc on human health. The National Academy of Sciences has also concluded that children need far greater protection from many environmental threats than adults. More than 70,000 new chemical compounds have been introduced in our environment over the past forty years; whether these compounds correlate or not, childhood cancers are up 15% since 1973.


Heathy living, naturally and locally...

Use natural soaps and cleaning products.
Reduce the amount of animal products you eat..
Start composting your kitchen and yard waste.
Buy locally grown and/or organic produce.
Grow only native plants and don't use pesticides, fertilizers, or chemicals.
Support a local science institution, such as a zoo, aquarium, botanical garden or nature center.

An organic garden can supply you year after year with fresh and healthy organic food for a fraction of the price you would pay in a grocery store.  While establishing an organic garden does take time and patience, there are ways to plan your green garden so that it practically takes care of itself.

Composting is the decomposition of plant remains and other once-living materials to make an earthy, dark, crumbly substance that is excellent for adding to houseplants or enriching garden soil. It is the way to recycle your yard and kitchen wastes, and is a critical step in reducing the volume of garbage needlessly sent to landfills for disposal.

Most produce in the US is picked 4 to 7 days before being placed on supermarket shelves, and is shipped for an average of 1500 miles before being sold. And this is when taking into account only US grown products! Those distances are substantially longer when we take into consideration produce imported from Mexico, Asia, Canada, South America, and other places. We can help now by buying locally grown food whenever possible. By doing so you'll be helping preserve the environment, and you'll be strengthening your community by investing your food dollar close to home.

Simple ways to save energy...

Use compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs).
Walk, bike, or use public transportation instead of driving.
Put on a sweater instead of turning up the heat.
Shut off lights, computers, and other electronic equipment when you're not using them.
Use a fan instead of air conditioning.

The typical U.S. family spends about $1,900 a year on home utility bills? Unfortunately, a large portion of that energy is wasted. And each year, electricity generated by fossil fuels for a single home puts more carbon dioxide into the air than two average cars. And as for the road, transportation accounts for 67% of all U.S. oil consumption. The good news is that there is a lot you can do to save energy and money at home and in your car. Start making small changes today (see sidebar). To cut your energy use up to 25%, see the Long-Term Savings Tips throughout this booklet.

The key to achieving these savings in your home is a whole-house energy efficiency plan. To take a whole-house approach, view your home as an energy system with interdependent parts. For example, your heating system is not just a furnace—it’s a heat-delivery system that starts at the furnace and delivers heat throughout your home using a network of ducts. Even a top-of-the-line, energy-efficient furnace will waste a lot of fuel if the ducts, walls, attic, windows, and doors are not properly sealed and insulated. Taking a whole-house approach to saving energy ensures that dollars you invest to save energy are spent wisely.

Energy-efficient improvements not only make your home more comfortable, they can yield long-term financial rewards. Reduced utility bills more than make up for the higher price of energy-efficient appliances and improvements over their lifetimes. In addition, your home could bring in a higher price when you sell.

Save Energy and Money Today

Recycling and reusing everyday things!

Use cloth napkins and towels instead of paper.
Buy a reusable water bottle.
Take a five minute shower.
Take reusable bags with you whenever you go shopping.
Reduce unnecessary packaging. Reuse materials whenever possible. Recycle everything you can.
Use washable food containers instead of disposable plastic wrap and bags.
Buy recycled paper, use both sides, and think twice before you print.

We can have a major impact on the amount of garbage produced in our world by becoming aware of how much we throw out and changing some of our habits about buying and using things.

Environmentally aware consumers are producing less waste by practicing the “3 Rs:” Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. They are buying products that are less toxic or contain less packaging, using reusable containers and other reusable items, maintaining and repairing products, participating in recycling programs, and buying products made from recycled materials. 


Save Money and The Environment

Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFL) bulbs have revolutionized energy-efficient lighting. CFLs are simply miniature versions of full-sized fluorescents. They screw into standard lamp sockets, and give off light that looks just like the common incandescent bulbs - not like the fluorescent lighting we associate with factories and schools.

CFL's are four times more efficient and last up to 10 times longer than incandescents. A 22 watt CFL has about the same light output as a 100 watt incandescent. CFLs use 50 - 80% less energy than incandescents. So do yourself and the environment a favor and CHANGE THOSE BULBS.



 Tips for Greener Living

Learn more EASY WAYS to make a difference.


Recycling and reusing everyday things!

Use cloth napkins and towels instead of paper.
Buy a reusable water bottle.
Take a five minute shower.
Take reusable bags with you whenever you go shopping.
Reduce unnecessary packaging. Reuse materials whenever possible. Recycle everything you can.
Use washable food containers instead of disposable plastic wrap and bags.
Buy recycled paper, use both sides, and think twice before you print.
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