Scary facts about water scarcity to ponder for World Water Day 2015

Despite a few spring rains that have helped ease drought conditions in Texas, residents should still consider conserving water in all they do, because the world’s most important resource is not getting any more plentiful. Austin remains a candidate for future “water stress,” and so in honor of World Water Day (March 22) here are some uncomfortable facts about how we abuse water and could run short of it.

What your drought-tolerant landscape could look like

Drought-tolerant landscapes are an idea whose time has come. Many homeowners in Austin get this. Here’s a look at several non-lawn lawns that may inspire you. While they almost all require getting rid of that pesky turf, they’re easy to maintain later on. Most importantly, they’re not overly thirsty.

How to reduce water use in the United States

Americans consume a lot of water as a result of their food and lawn choices. Read Danielle Nierenberg’s blog about how we can lower the stress we’re placing on dwindling water supplies. Ms. Nierenberg, co-founder of Food Tank, has traveled the world, studying food and water scarcity, and can tell you how many Kenyans survive on the same amount of water consumed by one American.

Smart meters may need to be a little smarter, and safer

Here’s a scary thought just released on Halloween, what if your smart meter were leaking information about you to the world?

Automatic Meter Reading systems may need better security, according to a USC team.

With millions of so-called “smart meters” being installed in the U.S. annually, utility companies are getting closer to creating a smart grid that can target energy delivery where it’s needed and thus avoid having to run extra capacity at power plants. It’s a potential win-win that could help keep energy prices affordable.

Steamed by summer heat? Here’s a checklist to help cool your home

Nothing quite says “soaring electricity bill” like the sound of the AC kicking on as you wake-up, heralding another broiling summer day.

Whether you’re suffering in the usual seasonal heat of the Southwest, or simmering in the extraordinary heat wave cooking the mid-section of the nation, it’s likely the AC is running 24/7 now as record daytime heat overwhelms night time cool temperatures no longer worthy of that adjective.

DIY drip line irrigation – an efficient way to water your home vegetable or herb garden

Drip line irrigation is a great idea for gardeners who want to save water and grow plants successfully.

By soaking the ground with water, the drip line approach mimics the effect of a gentle soaking rain, instead of battering leaves with a harsh jet of water like so many sprinkler systems do. More importantly, by slowly delivering the water to the soil and plants and not spraying it overhead the air, a drip line system can better target, and thereby reduce, the water needed for landscape or edible plants.

Cleaning up just got more efficient with stricter washer and dishwasher standards

Saving energy is becoming a priority in America, foisted upon us by the ugly realities of finite fossil fuels and $4 gasoline.
But even as awareness about the oil, gas and coal that power our cars and homes has grown, energy conservation efforts in other areas of modern life have been touch and go. For decades, household appliances mainly grew larger and more complex, increasing their energy consumption. Washers and dryers performed

Healthy Stuff.org (and your mom) says don’t drink from the garden hose

We usually watch out for snakes in the garden. You don’t want to be caught unaware.

It turns out that the same could be said for your garden hose, which could be a snake in the grass when it comes to chemical pollution. Like most real snakes, it’s probably not mortally dangerous. But you need to know more about it, especially if you’re using your hose as a drinking spigot or to water an edible garden.

Healthy Stuff.org, known for testing common kids’ toys for lead, cadmium and other pollution, recently tested 179 garden products, including two types of garden hoses and four types of garden work gloves, for chemical contaminants and toxic metals.

Tea Partiers win light bulb concession; but energy experts say prospects for better bulbs are still bright

Far right GOPers who oppose federal standards for energy efficient light bulbs have successfully attached a rider to the big spending bill moving through Congress.

The rider withholds funding for federal enforcement of new efficiency standards going into effect in 2012, though it leaves in place the 2007 law raising the efficiency standards for light bulbs.

While this could lead to some cheap, inefficient bulbs slipping into the market — potentially slowing of the adoption of energy efficient light bulbs — it is unlikely to stop the wave of innovation and lighting advancements already under way by manufacturers who’ve retooled to meet the 2007 requirements, according to lighting and energy experts who spoke at a news conference on Friday.

7 top green residential buildings in the U.S.

Forgotten about green building during the economic swoon of the last two years? Rising energy costs and static incomes make it more important than ever as consumers look for added value and long-term energy savings.

Check out these top green residential projects from across the U.S., which demonstrate that green living is no longer just for the wealthy few.


1 – Postgreen’s 100K House in South Philly sets the mark for in-city affordability

Postgreen, a sustainable building and design company, wanted to address a demographic that was not being served in Philadelphia: Urban dwellers who want to live in a green property, but do not want to move to the suburbs or spend the money, typically $500,000 and up, for most builder’s green creations.

So the team set out to build its inaugural projects, the $100K and $120K infill homes in the sleekest, greenest, low-waste designs they could muster, while resisting the “bells and whistles” that drive prices up. They wanted the 100K home to come in at a building cost under $100 per square foot, so they had to work extra hard at efficiencies in all aspects of construction. The result: Two two-story loft homes with two bedrooms each priced at between $200,000 and $250,000, both on commute-free city lots, walking distance to subway and bus stops.

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