Monthly Archives: June 2013

A Return of the Cicadas (Part 1)

By Marcia Anderson

Cicada

Cicada

Billions of flying bugs known as cicadas are currently sweeping over the United States’ most densely populated region, like a Stephen King novel that nobody dies in.

They began emerging in Georgia and South Carolina in early May, and have worked their way 900 miles northward, to Washington DC, Philadelphia, New York City and Albany. Wooded properties with adjacent open space like Manhattan’s Central Park, the Bronx Zoo, Staten Island or Newark suburbs all have their share of cicadas. In NJ, I have found Metuchen, Fanwood, and Montclair, NJ to have prime suburban cicada love dens. The timing of their emergence was dependent on the weather.  When the temperature reached 64oF, the insects rose up, wriggled out of their shells and took wing.

Actually, Cicadas are a true marvel of nature and one that should be enjoyed whenever possible. The bugs are mostly harmless to plants and humans. I found a cicada in our yard today and I remember sharing a huge emergence of cicadas with my children and now look forward to sharing the experience with my grandkids! Do you remember what you were doing in June of 1996? That was the last emergence and it was the year this brood was born. Do you recall how the sidewalks in some places were covered and how they crunched underneath your feet?  What about trouble sleeping due to the constant terrible sound they made? (More on the “Song of the Cicada” in part 2 of this story.)

Once it starts, the emergence typically lasts only four to six weeks — long enough for the cicada nymphs to find a tree, shed their crunchy brown exoskeletons, and expand their wings. They will spend their next few weeks mating and laying eggs in tree branches. Then they will all die, leaving their bodies to litter the ground. The tiny newly hatched babies will make their way back to the ground and burrow down for the next 17 years. They bugs will emerge in 2030 to continue the cycle. There are expected to be 30 billion 17-year cicadas this year.

Cicada Nymph

Cicada Nymph

Why so many? One theory called “predator satiation,” suggests that the large number of cicadas is a survival strategy to overwhelm predators.  If predators are never able to eat them all, many will survive to mate and continue the species.

There are 13 year cicadas also. Why 17 and 13 years? Since they emerge only once every 13 or 17 years (brood dependent), it is difficult for predators to synchronize with them as no predator species can anticipate their emergence. The long life-cycles could also help these cicadas avoid extinction from long stretches of fatally cold weather, such as what was experienced during the past ice age. The development of 13 and 17 year emergence cycles is a strange coincidence as both numbers are primes. Also interesting is that of 30 known cicada broods, 17 broods have a 17-year emergence cycle and 13 broods have a 13-year cycle. Cicada broods usually don’t overlap geographically, and it is very rare when they emerge in the same year.

Other cool facts about cicadas:

  • Cicadas have five eyes: Two are large, red, compound eyes, and three are ocelli, which are believed to be used to detect light and darkness.
  • Cicadas actually benefit the health of trees by aerating the soil around the roots, and trimming weak or damaged limbs. They do drink tree fluids, but usually not enough to cause harm to the trees.

The females may harm young trees by splitting the thin bark on slender branches with their egg laying. You can place netting around young trees to prevent female’s access, but this may be impractical for large numbers of trees. Cicadas only feed on woody perennials, so vegetable and/or strawberry crops are not at risk.

  • This could be a very bad year for fruit tree orchard farmers.
  • Animals eat them. It’s going to be a wonderful year for anything that can eat cicadas. City pigeons and songbirds love them, dogs will gorge themselves, squirrels will eat them like corn on the cob, turkeys gobble them up, plus they make great fishing bait.
  • People eat them. If you find yourself with shovel loads of cicadas and do not know where to put them, consider eating some of them. Some insist that cicadas are a delicacy and make delicious high-protein meals. The University of Maryland put together a cook book with recipes like: cicada kabobs, cicada Creole, cicada gumbo soup, pan-fried cicada, and stir fried cicada. There’s pineapple cicada, lemon cicada, coconut cicada, cicada stew, cicada salad, cicada burgers, cicada dumplings and banana cicada bread. You can barbecue, boil, broil, bake or sauté them.
  • If you want to totally avoid them: go to the beach. Cicadas don’t like sand.

Above all, put things into perspective. The density of cockroaches in New York City is far greater than the density of cicadas. There are several million cockroaches per city acre, however they aren’t noisy and don’t fly around much. Once the mommy cicadas lay their eggs, they will die, and you won’t even notice the tiny babies!

For more cicada information:    The scientific name for these cicadas is Magicicada. The National Geographic Society supports the Magicicada website: http://cicadiamania.com.

About the Author: Marcia is the bed bug and vector management specialist for the Pesticides Program in Edison. She has a BS in Biology from Monmouth, second degree in Environmental Design-Landscape Architecture from Rutgers, Masters in Instruction and Curriculum from Kean, and is a PhD in Environmental Management candidate from Montclair – specializing in Integrated Pest Management and Environmental Communications. Prior to EPA, and concurrently, she has been a professor of Earth and Environmental Studies, Geology and Oceanography at Kean University for 14 years.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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The Bronx High School of Science’s LEAP Club Strives to Reduce our Negative Environmental Impact on the World

By Richard Yue

 

Reused Cartons

Reused Cartons

Students in the League of Environmental and Animal Protection (LEAP) club at the Bronx High School of Science are working on raising awareness about the school’s recycling program, educating  students about the importance of conservation, promoting the use of less energy and making the school a more environmentally friendly place. These efforts will not only benefit the school by saving money and resources, but will also benefit the environment.

The LEAP club has worked on implementing a recycling program throughout the school. Each classroom was provided with a special bin for paper recycling. The organization, GrowNYC, has been instrumental in helping the school in setting up the recycling program and donating the recycling bins. In addition to promoting recycling in the classrooms, three recycling stations have also been placed in the school’s cafeteria. Each of these stations includes a bin for plastic bottles and milk cartons, a bucket where any remaining liquid from the containers can be emptied, a desk where lunch trays can be stacked, and a bin for any remaining garbage. The club is also reusing old trash to make something useful – and fun! Students bring in old paper and use it in paper making activities. They also use old juice cartons and turn them into wallets.

 

Earth Day

Earth Day

Currently the club is trying to raise awareness about the implemented recycling system and to encourage students to cooperate.

In order to further raise awareness about environmental issues, LEAP organizes an annual Earth Day celebration in the school. The event does not take place exactly on Earth Day, April 22. Instead, it is usually scheduled in early June when the weather is warmer and the festivities can take place outside in the courtyard. The Earth Day celebration includes a number of activities: paper making, selling of plants, selling articles made from recycled and reused materials (i.e., wallets made from old juice cartons), educational games, and speakers to talk about environmental issues. Proceeds from the Earth Day celebration are donated by LEAP to an environmental organization chosen by the club’s members. Every year, there is a big turnout for the Earth Day celebration, which is something the LEAP club is proud of in helping to make a positive impact on the environment.

About the Author: Richard Yue is an Environmental Engineer in the Region’s Clean Air and Sustainability Division. Mr. Yue has been with the EPA for over 22 years and is a graduate of Polytechnic University of New York. 

 

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Thoughts On My “Idle” Time

Greetings from New England!Each Monday we write about the New England environment and way of life seen through our local perspective. Previous posts

By Amy Miller

My daughter will be coming out of dance class in just two or three minutes. My aging mother will not want to get into a hot stuffy car. Excess heat, or cold, is not good for the office computer on the backseat. It will cost more in gas to stop then start the car again than to keep it running.

I convince myself – rationalize – that it is OK- for all number of reasons – to leave the car engine running while I am in fact sitting still.

I have read, I have even written press releases, about how much pollution we add to the air by letting our cars idle. And yet.. and yet.. it’s just so darn cold sitting in a quiet car in the dead of winter.

In fact, it is illegal in Massachusetts to leave a vehicle engine idling for more than five minutes. And many other states and individual towns and cities have their own laws along these lines. In Maine, Bar Harbor forbids idling for more than five minutes. The state of Vermont has a law similar to Massachusetts’ that is only in effect from April to November.

The science behind these laws is clear. EPA estimates that exhaust from passenger vehicles is the top source of air pollution in many of the cities in this country. Besides the health risks associated with gasoline fumes, diesel exhaust from idling trucks and buses can make asthma and bronchitis worse. Exhaust also adds to smog, acid rain and global climate change.

So adding to it when a car is parked is just silly. Those of us sitting in an idling vehicle are actually more threatened by the pollution than the people around us.

The law in Massachusetts, and most similar laws, makes exemptions.  For instance some types of delivery trucks, vehicles being serviced, and vehicles that must run their engines to keep refrigeration units cold are all exempt. While it is unclear how much police can and do enforce the laws, tickets in the Bay State can run up to $25,000 for repeat offenders.

To deal with people like me, people who like to grasp on to rationalizations, EPA offers a few factoids: Recent studies found fuel consumption during engine start-up is equal to about 30 seconds of engine idling if the engine is within normal operating temperature. Furthermore, running an engine at idling speed causes twice the wear on internal parts compared to driving at regular speeds.

So next time you are aching to idle, turn your car off and reward yourself by putting a few more dimes into your latte jar.

Find out which states have restrictions on idling: http://www.epa.gov/region8/air/rmcdc/pdf/CompilationofStateIdlingRegulations.pdf

About the author: Amy Miller is a writer who works in the public affairs office of EPA New England in Boston. She lives in Maine with her husband, two children, eight chickens, dusky conure, chicken-eating dog and a great community.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Mapping Weeds – Experiences from the National Park Service

By Kristina Stine

I work in the Environmental Assessment and Monitoring Branch of EPA here in Region 7, home to our Geospatial program and GIS!I spent a wonderful summer as an intern for the National Park Service eradicating noxious weed in the Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota.  Our team   was tasked with managing leafy spurge (euphorbia esula), Russian Knapweed (Rhaponticum repens (L.) Hidalgo), and Canada Thistle (Cirsium arvense (L.) Scop).

University of Wyoming Extension Sustainable Management of Rangeland Resources Initiative Team – Leafy Spruge

We used biological control, pesticides, goats, and prescribed burns to control the spread and eradicate the plants.   For our summer project, we extensively used GPS/GIS to track yearly progress and eventually determine when the plants were contained and ultimately destroyed.

Non-Federal rangeland where non-native species make up at least 50% of the plant cover (USDA)

One of the tools I became familiar with during our excursions, the Precision Lightweight GPS Receiver (PLGR), was known as the “plugger” or better known as a GPS (see “Happy Belated Veterans Day: GIs and GPS” by Joe Summerlin).  After picking out our site, we’d enter in our coordinates and set our way in the wilderness to find a patch of leafy spurge or other targeted weed.  Once we made our way to the exact coordinates, we would verify the actual plant locations and then make corrections as necessary.  If we had our Trimble unit, we would take a continuous track of the infested areas.  Depending on our control measure, we would also records the data for each of the different control strategies we employed.   After collecting data and managing the site with pest control (depending on the site and weed variety) we would take the plugger to the GIS Specialists and they would create a map summarizing our summer efforts.   Every year this is done until the site is restored back to its natural, native state.

Controlling noxious weeds take time and a measured approach.  The map below shows polygons defined by GPS in red while the black blocks represent areas overrun with leafy spurge. Without breaking into the details (see the Theodore Roosevelt National Park Invasive Leafy Spurge Remote Sensing Research ) one can see that a combination of GPS and remotely sensed data can really help with monitoring and controlling noxious weed populations – and determining the effectiveness of various control strategies.

Theodore Roosevelt National Park Invasive Leafy Spurge Remote Sensing Research

My summers out in the field as an intern for the National Park service has really helped me appreciate the power of location and GIS in caring for our environment.  The infected sites were managed yearly and the data recorded so that we could see what practices were most effective. Similar maps like the previous one were made on a regular basis to monitor the increase/decrease of noxious and invasive species of plants.  It helped give us, decision makers, and the general public a visual understanding of noxious weeds in our National Parks.  Please remember to be careful what you plant in your yard!

Kristina Stine is a first generation Environmental Biologist who has worked with the federal government since 1997. She is currently working for the U.S. EPA Region 7 as a secretary. Some of her most memorable jobs were working as an intern for the National Park Service as a Biological Technician (and Wildland Firefighter) at Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota and Wind Cave National Park in South Dakota.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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ENERGY STAR’s Top 8 Ways to Save on Cooling

Boy, sky, globe

By: Brittney Gordon-Williams

Break out the sunscreen and slip on your sandals because summer is officially here. For many, this is one of the best times of year, with longer days and plenty of sunshine to keep you outdoors and enjoying the season. But one must head inside at some point, and you may be surprised to know how much you spend on cooling your home. The average American family spends 15 percent of its utility bill on cooling, and that adds up to hundreds of dollars each year. Check out ENERGY STAR’s top 8 ways to save on cooling this summer, and get ready to save energy, save money and better protect the climate.

1.)    Tune up your HVAC equipment yearly:

Just like a tune-up for your car, a yearly tune-up of your HVAC system can improve efficiency and comfort.

2.)    Seal and Insulate:

You can save up to $200 a year in heating and cooling costs (or 10 percent on your energy bill) by sealing and insulating your home with ENERGY STAR. When correctly installed with air sealing, insulation can deliver comfort and lower energy bills during the hottest and coldest times of the year.

3.)    Install a programmable thermostat:

Used properly, a programmable thermostat can save you about $180 every year in energy costs.

4.)    Change your air filter at least every 3 months:

Check your heating and cooling system’s air filter every month. If the filter looks dirty, change it. At a minimum, change the filter every three months. A dirty filter will slow air flow and make the system work harder to keep you cool—wasting energy.

5.)    Use a ceiling fan to cool off:

Run your ceiling fan to create a cool breeze. If you raise your thermostat by only two degrees and use your ceiling fan, you can lower cooling costs by up to 14 percent. Remember that ceiling fans cool you, not the room, so when you leave the room, make sure to turn off the fan.

6.)    Close the shades:

Close the curtains and shades before you leave your home to keep the sun’s rays from overheating the interior of your home. If you can, move container trees and plants in front of sun-exposed windows to act as shade.

7.)    Buy ENERGY STAR certified lighting:    

Swap out incandescent bulbs with more energy-efficient lighting choices—ENERGY STAR certified lighting not only uses less energy, it also produces about 75 percent less heat than incandescent lighting, so cooling bills will be reduced too.

8.)    Look for the ENERGY STAR:

If you are in the market for a new air conditioner, simply look for the ENERGY STAR. Central air conditioners that have earned the ENERGY STAR are about 16% more efficient. Room air conditioners that have earned the ENERGY STAR use about 10% less energy than conventional models. Fun fact: If all room air conditioners sold in the United States were ENERGY STAR certified, the energy cost savings would grow to more than $520 million each year and 7 billion pounds of annual greenhouse gas emissions would be prevented, equivalent to the emissions from more than 670,000 vehicles.

Brittney Gordon-Williams is a member of the communications team at EPA’s ENERGY STAR program. Every summer she enjoys early evening walks around neighborhood with her husband and trips to Rehoboth Beach with friends and family.

 

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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School’s Not Out

By Tom Damm

It’s the first day of summer and school may be the last thing on your mind.

But here’s an opportunity to participate in an Academy – and you don’t need test scores, extracurricular activities or recommendations to get in – just a healthy interest in learning how to protect your local waters.

EPA’s Watershed Academy is a free, online source of information about the many issues that affect your rivers, streams and wetlands.Watershed Academy trifold photo

You can check it out on Tuesday, June 25, at 1 p.m. (Eastern) when the Academy is offering the first in a summer series of live webcasts on harmful algal blooms and nutrient pollution that pose environmental and public health threats.  Here’s a link to register.

Speakers will include experts from EPA, the U.S. Geological Survey and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

And that’s just a taste of what the Watershed Academy has to offer.

Tuesday’s session will be the 74th monthly webcast sponsored by the Academy.  Topics have ranged from key national issues to actions you can take around the home to prevent pollution.  Streaming audio versions of past webcasts are available on the website.

The Academy also offers training courses and publications on water issues.

So don’t put those pencils and paper away just yet.  The learning may be just beginning.

About the Author: Tom Damm has been with EPA since 2002 and now serves as communications coordinator for the region’s Water Protection Division.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Around the Water Cooler: Monitoring Drinking Water Systems

By Robert Janke

Water TowerA reliable source of clean, drinkable water is a must for any city or community to survive and prosper.  We take for granted the clean, drinkable water delivered from the tap whenever we want to quench that thirst. But few people recognize or understand the complexity of our nation’s water system and what goes into the operations required to deliver this essential human need in an unfailing way, day in and day out.

As one of our nation’s critical infrastructures, water distribution systems face security threats ranging from natural disasters, like hurricanes and extreme weather, to intentional acts of sabotage or terrorism.

Obviously, it’s important to be able to quickly detect, assess, and respond to any kind of water contamination event no matter the source. But in order to do that, it is essential to have a real-time understanding of what is going on in the water distribution system. This would help water utilities be better prepared to respond to natural disasters or intentional acts of sabotage and could also alert them to other problems like leaks in the distribution system or water quality problems.

So how do we get a real-time understanding of water system operations? We integrate a utility’s infrastructure model with their real-time or Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) data. We are testing and evaluating our real-time modeling software tools at the Northern Kentucky Water District (NKWD).

We are demonstrating how our real-time modeling software tools can be used to provide water utility operators with a better understanding of their water system and its operation. With our software tools, utility operators will have a “flight simulator” type of capability which will allow them to be better prepared to respond to emergencies and plan for the future.

To gain this understanding of the water system, we have developed an object-oriented software library called EPANET-RTX (EPANET “Real-Time eXtension”). RTX, for short, joins operational data from an already existing data system with an infrastructure model to improve operations and enhance security in a more sustainable and productive manner. RTX is built on the industry standard for distribution system modeling, EPANET, and leverages years of real-time modeling research and development efforts conducted by EPA.

RTX is open source software, and you can find it here. By making it open source, EPA hopes commercial companies will evaluate the technology and use it to develop commercial products.  We will continue to develop the RTX libraries which the water community will be able to use to (1) help water utilities field verify (validate) their infrastructure models and (2) develop RTX-based applications. These RTX-based applications will enable water utilities to better manage, operate, and secure their water systems.

To learn more about EPA’s research to keep our water systems safe and secure, please visit: epa.gov/nhsrc.

About the Author: Robert Janke is a research scientist intent on making sure our water stays clean and drinkable. He works in EPA’s National Homeland Security Research Center located in Cincinnati, OH. Scientists in Cincinnati have been working on clean water issues for more than 100 years. Along with Rob Janke, the RTX project is being led by a multi-disciplinary team composed of Steve Allgeier, Michael Tryby, Lewis Rossman, Terra Haxton, and John Hall.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action.

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Three Quick Tips to a More Enjoyable Summer

By Ashley McAvoy

We all have our favorite season of the year but I think that summer is mine. During the summer you can enjoy barbeques, going to the beach, and even camping. I absolutely love summer! But, I have to admit while it’s all fun in the sun, we need to be aware of environmental and health problems that occur during these hot summer months. Here are some tips for you to enjoy this season.

Here comes the sun…

Did you know that the sun’s rays are the strongest during the summer? This means we need to use plenty of sunscreen and wear a hat when doing activities outside. Also, planning your outdoor activities in the morning or evening when the sun is not as strong will help too. I like to run. So when I go running in the summer, I try to run in the evening when it’s a little cooler. You can also check the UV Index to find out how strong the sun’s rays are in your area so you can plan accordingly for that day.

Them pesky skeeters…

If there is one thing I can’t stand its getting attacked by a swarm of mosquitoes when I’m trying to enjoy a nice summer evening outside. That’s why it’s important to make it harder for mosquitoes to breed in your backyard. If you have any standing water in your yard from birdbaths, wading pools, or even garden fountains, these are the perfect breeding environments for mosquitoes. Remove all standing water or replace it weekly to prevent mosquitoes from breeding in your yard. Check out the EPA website for more tips on repelling mosquitoes.

Fill ‘er up…

You know when you fill up the tank of your car or truck there’s always a gasoline smell? Did you know that those gasoline vapors are actually bad for you and the environment? What’s worse is that gasoline vapors increase in the summertime because of the hot and humid conditions. The next time that you refuel your car or truck, make sure that the gas cap is secure so you don’t let excess vapors into the air. Also, try not to refuel on ozone action days. If you must refuel on an ozone action day, do it in the morning or evening when the sun’s rays are not as strong.

Enjoy your summer!

About the author: Ashley McAvoy is an Intern with the Office of Web Communications for spring 2013. She is a double major in Environmental Studies and Hispanic Studies at Washington College in Chestertown, Maryland.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Career Advice from Steven

steven

Have you ever had on the job training?  I once was part of a 9 month on the job training program and never really thought about the materials that were being used.  It is people like Steven Dean who make this training possible.  I sat down with Steven the other day to learn more about his job at the EPA.

What is your position at the EPA?

I am an Instructional Systems Specialist.  Essentially I am a curriculum developer.  I take content and apply instructional design elements. 

Do you have prior work experiences that lead you to the EPA?

I was an Instructional Systems Specialist in Corporate America and for the Department of Defense before coming to EPA.

What is a typical day like for you?

Really varies.  A typical day starts by looking at where we are at in various curriculums and making sure we have gathered all the necessary information to support the learning objectives that need to be developed.  We also have to make sure we have correct subject matter experts in place, along with the right resources, to develop objects to design accurate programs.

What is the best part of your job?

I love the people.  People here are engaged and go out of their way to help.  If they can’t find what you need, they will get you in touch with someone who can.  Everyone at EPA works together to ensure EPA’s mission is accomplished.

Did you always have an interest in the environment?

I did.  I grew up in West Virginia and my backyard was mountains and beautiful.  I would camp and hike on the weekends.  I would also see the effects of mountain top coal removal and was not a fan.  In addition, while in the military, working with machinery, I was conscientious and wanted to ensure that if spills happened proper clean up followed.   

What classes did you take in school that you use on the job today?

I have my degree in Workforce Education Development and use all of the classes from my training.  Some of these classes include: labor linkages, skills management, adult learning and adult psychology.  I also use English and writing skills.  My education is exactly what I do.

Do you have any advice for kids today who have an interest in protecting our environment?

When you are in grade school and high school and think that math and science are not cool, you are wrong!  If you know math and science you can hold great power as an adult.  We need more S.T.E.M. training at the high school and college level, to ensure new knowledge.  Even if it is hard, stick with it!

Kelly Siegel is a student volunteer in the EPA’s Air and Radiation Division in Region 5, and is currently obtaining her Master’s degree in Urban Planning and Policy at the University of Illinois at Chicago.  She has a passion for sustainable development, running, and traveling with friends.

 

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Have a Green Summer!

Several links below exit EPA Exit EPA Disclaimer

By Lina Younes

I was reviewing my electric bill recently. I noticed that there was an increase in the amount of energy used at home this year in comparison to last year. While we are already taken steps at home to be more energy efficient, we still can do more to save energy and money at home. So, I decided to share some tips  on how you can also be greener this summer.

  • Turn off the lights when you leave the room! Pretty simple, right? But, I have to remind my daughter and other family members to do so frequently!
  • Unplug phone and computer chargers when you’re not using them.
  • Change home air filters regularly! This improves the efficiency of your A/C and saves you money in the short term and costly repairs in the long term.
  • Also, consider using ceiling fans. With the fans, you can raise the temperature of the A/C and still feel comfortable during the summer heat.
  • Seal and insulate your home.
  • Are you planning to update one of your appliances? Purchase an Energy Star product when buying new appliances and electronics for your home.
  • Do you have a leaky faucet? Fix it! Did you know that more than 1 trillion gallons of water are wasted from leaks in U.S. homes each year?
  • If you are planning to refurbish your kitchen or bathroom, get WaterSense labeled fixtures to save water and money.
  • Do you use a sprinker to water your lawn? Inspect it to make sure there aren’t any leaks or broken sprinkler heads. Set the sprinkler for early in the morning. And definitely don’t turn it one if has rained in your area!
  • Planning a family gathering this weekend? Make sure to use reusable plates and containers. Remember your three R’s  during the summer months!
  • Planning a summer day trip? Well, you should also consider getting your car ready for the journey. A well maintained vehicle with properly inflated tires will save you a lot of money in fuel and maintenance costs and will also reduce gas emissions.

Do you have other suggestions as to how we can be greener this summer? As always, we appreciate your input. Love to hear from you.

About the author: Lina Younes has been working for EPA since 2002 and currently serves the Multilingual Outreach and Communications Liaison for EPA. She manages EPA’s social media efforts in Spanish. Prior to joining EPA, she was the Washington bureau chief for two Puerto Rican newspapers and she has worked for several government agencies.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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