Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Eight Top Kitchen Eco Tips

Robert from Flow Living is here to give you eight ways to improve your kitchen's eco "output", or rather, reduce your kitchen's waste output.
The kitchen is often to most-used room in the modern home, which also makes it possibly the most-abused in terms of energy usage. Have a read through these tips - I hope you can get something good from them!

Re-Use All Things

There are two overriding themes to been environmentally conscious: reducing waste, and re-using things where possible. You really can re-use a lot of kitchen waste, from using certain food wastes as compost to turning an old bin into a waterbutt, there's a lot of opportunity if you're the inventive type. If you're not the inventive type, think about the problems you currently have in your kitchen/garden. Is there a way you can help them by re-using something you consume on a regular (or irregular) basis? Necessity is the mother of invention, so solving a problem is perhaps where you should start. If that doesn't get you anywhere, there's always the artistic route - transform a part of your garden into a more creative space by painting old appliances, or building interesting sculptures out of old kitchen items.

Eat...Microwave Meals?

Okay this idea might be slightly controversial, because there's certainly something that feels more natural about cooking "properly" in a oven. But microwaves are more energy efficient. They're quick (that meal it takes an hour to heat in the oven only takes three in the microwave) and literally use less energy than a gas or electric oven.
If you have to use a stove to cook with, why not prepare food in bulk to then freeze. Then, when you're ready to eat it, reheat it in the microwave rather than on a stove.

Buy Recycled Goods

It's a no-brainer, isn't it? You buy recycled goods, which you then recycle, which then get bought by another as recycled goods, who then recycles - it's a lovely round recycling circle...or cycle. Whilst it's easy to conceive, it's slightly harder to implement. But it's all about getting into a mindset, thinking first about recycling: the next time you have to buy something, just ask yourself "is there a recycled version of this?"

Save Water

Hot water is an everyday necessity, for cooking, drinking, cleaning, and bathing. In the kitchen, you can cut down on the amount of hot water that you use, and the amount that you waste. "Waste" is the key here. It takes energy to heat water, so if you end up running the tap for slightly longer than you should, or pouring some hot water away then you're wasting energy. A good way to ensure you use less water overall, without having to concentrate so much, is to use a tap that has a slower flow. Having a nice looking kitchen tap to accompany your stylish undermount sink is one thing, but having a tap that saves you money, saves energy and still looks great is a greater thing.
Another quick water/energy saving tip: if you fill the kettle up to full every time, but don't use all of the water, then you're wasting energy every time you heat the kettle.

Save More Energy

So this nicely follows on from the previous tip. Due to your undoubtedly electricity-powered kitchen, there's a lot of energy usage. Think of all the appliances you have. Anything steam-powered? Hamster powered? Nope. Here are some quick tips, that also work throughout other areas of the house:
  • Use low-energy lightbulbs (compact fluorescent bulbs), including in side-lights and task lighting
  • Turn everything off when you're not using it (except the fridge/freezer, unless you want to have to eat all of your frozen food tomorrow)
  • Monitor your central heating - if the kitchen warms up when you use other appliances, do you need the central heating on as well?
  • Buy new appliances - this one will cost you money short-term, but save in efficiency over a longer period as newer appliances are generally more efficient
  • Using kitchen appliances elsewhere? Do they need to be switched on? That freezer in your garage might not be fully stocked, so can you transfer its contents and turn it off?

Outsource It!

Your best chance of succeeding with making your kitchen a more eco-aware is with you committing to the idea. But if you share the house with others (especially others of an under-18 and occasionally messy persuasion) then you're open to their input, whether you like it or not. Therefore if you convince your family to become advocates of your ideas, those ideas could go a long way.
Kids, when they believe something, often put a lot of energy behind their beliefs. If you lay out the reasons why you want to change the way you dispose of waste, pick the food you use and be aware of the impact of your decisions, your children will be better informed, better prepared and possibly better disciplined overall.

Finish Your Meals

Saying "don't throw things away" is too easy, too obvious, and not quite right. Most UK councils are stepping up their recycling programmes, which means that more of your home waste can be sorted into various recycling buckets. Or at least, that's the intention. However, if you can just produce less waste to start with, there's less to recycle. It does help if you have a "human dustbin" in the house, but, sincerely, weighing your food and working out who consumes what sort of quantity of food can go a very long way to reducing your overall waste, reducing food bills, cutting down the amount of packaging you use, trips to the supermarket etc. There's a whole big knock-on effect that starts with a simple thought and spreads out a long way from there.

Tell Everyone About Your Success

This is perhaps the best thing you can do: pay it forward. Spread the word. If you've seen "success" after implementing a green or eco policy in your kitchen, tell everyone about it. For every naysayer and pessimist you encounter, there may be one or two that you encourage to change the way they think about how their waste at home affects them and the wider world around them.
Do you have tips nine, ten and eleven? Please add them in the comments!

Thursday, 7 February 2013

How To Build Your Own Wind Turbine At Home

Wind turbines are quite simple and easy to make, and they can save you a lot of money on electric bills if you can build your own. And that is what this article is going to attempt to do- help you build your very own wind generator through the gathering and assembly of fairly widespread and cheap components.
If you know how to build a home wind turbine, your electrical bills will cost significantly less and luckily this is relatively easy to do. Plans and instructions showing how to build your own wind turbine are commonly available and thousands of people have built their own home wind turbine. It is often said that only an area prone to strong winds is suitable for wind power generation. This is absolutely not so. Even gentle breezes will produce power which is stored in batteries till needed.
Before you start building it is crucial that you grasp a basic understanding of how a windmill or turbine works. Wind turbines are made up of three major components: the rotor with blades, the tower, and the motor. All of these components work together to generate electrical energy. The tower is used to strengthen your wind power turbine. The blades are used to capture the power of the wind; when constructing your turbine you should consider aligning the blades in the direction of the wind to enhance this ability. The motor is the component that converts the wind blown into the blades into usable electrical energy for your home.

Material and Tool Needed for Wind Turbine

Now that you have a fundamental understanding of what you will be creating you will need a work place that can fit all your needs to start building. A decent-sized garage or shop will help you with this. You wouldn’t want to have your things cluttered around, so it should be large. Subsequently, with your do-it-yourself wind turbine plans, you are now equipped with instructions and the facility to build your wind power turbines.
For you to get started, you must secure your tools such as the wrenches, saw and the cordless drills. Furthermore you need to make a detailed plan in building your wind turbine.
There are a number of materials you could use for the generator’s blades. Almost all experts suggest a strong, pliable wood such as cedar or spruce. Using cedar means your generator can withstand strong winds best by bending slightly with them. Any durable, not-overly-dense and not-too-weak wood will suffice. You could also use plastic blades, like PVC, but you have to be aware that cold weather can fracture them.
The dimensions of your blades will establish the strength of the motor you should get. Something around 40 volts is reasonable. And lastly, your wind generator will need a power source and a monitoring device. A large battery, like a car battery, and a diode will work perfectly.
It is required for you to purchase a DC motor. This will be your power turbine. The DC motor will serve as the heart of the wind turbine, so it is necessary to get one. Ordering this may take days before it is delivered at your home, so place the order ahead of time. The most challenging part of building a home wind turbine is the process of matching blades to the power turbine properly and effectively. Nonetheless, don't be threatened by this because it will not be very difficult if you correctly outlined your plan. If you are aiming for more power production, then you may need to have larger sized blades and of course bigger DC motor.
In making a 1000 watts home wind turbine, your blades ought to be at least 4 feet long, therefore the diameter will have a total of 8 feet all in all. This will catch more wind and will create more power. If you are making small machines, it is recommended to use a PVC pipes for the blades. While you are waiting for the DC motor that you have ordered, you can begin building your blades it basically takes only one day to be able to finish the blades.

Instructions how to get started

With a band saw, cut the wood or PVC into the shape of fan blades. Make sure you cut them into a size that will accommodate your power source. Use bolts or screws to attach the blades to your saw blade pivot. Cover your blades in a primer paint with an oil base, then add additional layers of enamel paint. Later on, attach the blades and pivot to your stainless steel core.
Test the blades to ensure weight is being distributed equally. Run copper wire around the base of the stainless steel core of your generator and attach that wire to your battery. Attach the diode to the battery. Then place your core on the TV tower to keep it elevated. In combination with what you’ve already constructed, you may add a gear box to your generator. This significantly boosts the power generator, as it does a lot of extra work for you with the same amount of wind as it was receiving before.

Where you place your home wind turbine is essential for the success or disappointment of your project. You need to do extensive investigation on the amount of wind available and the speed of that wind. If your site is among trees or surrounded by steep hills, it's impossible to be useful for wind power. It is best if your site is flat or with hills that are far away from trees and other obstacles.

This article was written by Philippe Allaire, a French Canadian writer with hopes of teaching the world great alternative energy sources. If you’re looking for other alternative energy sources, many can be found at