Santa Cruz Green Living

Found 114 blog entries about Santa Cruz Green Living .

March leaves you anxious for the arrival of spring with its alternating bursts of winter and spring weather.  While there is nothing you can do about Mother Nature’s grip on winter, you can freshen up your Santa Cruz home for the spring that’s just around the corner. Here are a few ideas to brighten the core rooms in your home:

Living/Family Room:
• Change out all dark-colored throws and pillows and add brighter pastels and colors. 
• Remove heavy drapes and replace them with light sheers that let in more light and brighten things up.
• Don’t forget to clean the windows so they sparkle as well!
• Replace candles with vases of bright-colored flowers.
• Add a lush plant in front of or inside the fireplace that will not be used again until fall.
• Replace dark

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Homeowners and homebuyers want to save money on utility bills and also want to make their Santa Cruz home better for the environment.

Whether you’re prepping your Santa Cruz home before putting it up for sale or you just want to make a few changes so your home is more environmentally friendly, here are 11 ideas to choose from:

1. Put in CFL (compact fluorescent light) bulbs or LED bulbs that conserve energy: CFLs use a quarter of the electricity as regular bulbs.
2. Upgrade your existing windows: Replace them with high-performance, insulated windows.
3. Use green, non-toxic organic, VOC-free paint: Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are found in paint and harm the air we breathe.
4. Remove your old non-green carpeting: Carpeting can emit allergens and

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You’ve heard about the plight of honey bees. But did you know there are 4,000 species of native bees in North America? Many of them are in peril due to habitat loss and pesticides. While they don’t produce honey, these insects are a vital part of our ecosystem. If the (non-native) honey bees continue to have troubles, we will need our native bees more than ever to pollinate our crops and gardens.

The vast majority of native bees are solitary rather than social insects. Unlike honey bees and bumble bees, each female has her own nest, so you don’t need to fear the possibility of being attacked by the colony. Solitary bees are docile and do not have the painful sting of honey bees.

Here are some ways to welcome native pollinators to your Santa Cruz

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Spring heralds the arrival of blooming flowers, chirping birds and warmer weather. It is also a perfect time to do some after-winter indoor maintenance.  Here are eight indoor maintenance tips to help keep your Santa Cruz home in perfect operating condition:

1. Change air conditioning unit air filters monthly: Clean air filters help your unit run more efficiently, saving money on your energy bills.

2. Install environmentally-friendly window treatments: Save on utility bills by adding blinds to windows that face south and west. Open windows when the sun sets and close them at sunrise.

3. Examine your sump pump: Make sure the sump pump is operating correctly, and install a battery backup pump. The backup, another pump that floats above the original

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Sure, it’s still winter outside, but what could be better than dreaming of next summer in your garden? Now is the time to order your seeds, before the rush. Make 2012 the best year yet for gardening at your Santa Cruz home. Here are some advantages of ordering your seeds from home:

• Enjoy a wide selection. You’ll find a wide variety of seeds in seed catalogs, from heirlooms to hybrids. View page after page of vegetables in different varieties, with details on each one’s traits, giving you loads of options.

• Relax in your Santa Cruz home. No need to waste gas and fight the crowds next spring.

 Order online. Most seed catalogs have online ordering. What this means is, if you know a particular cultivar you want, you can do an online search for it

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Love it or hate it, winter is here. If you’re having a hard time appreciating that fact, there are some things you can do to make your Santa Cruz home more comfortable this winter, without running up your heat bill. Here are some to try:

• Check and lock windows. Even if you think your windows are shut, go around and check each one to make sure it’s snug - and lock it.

• Use ceiling fans. Consider adding ceiling fans to every room; they truly make a difference. Set them spinning in the correct direction to pull air up this winter so they displace warm air at the ceiling and send it down the walls. Set on the lowest speed, a ceiling fan evens out indoor temperature without creating drafts.

• Invest in insulated window treatments. Stop the costly

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Here is a painless way to reduce your energy use and your heating bill: Set your thermostat to go down 5 to 10 degrees while you’re gone all day and while you sleep at night. This could reduce your heating bill by 15% without compromising comfort.

Programmable thermostats cost anywhere from $30 to $150, so they quickly pay for themselves. By programming your thermostat to return to  your comfort level before you arrive home or get up in the morning, your Santa Cruz home will be just as comfortable as what you’re used to, and you’ll reduce your carbon footprint.

Here is how easy it is to install a programmable thermostat:

• Turn off the circuit breaker for the thermostat. Since you will be handling wiring, you must cut off the electricity going to

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Now that winter is here, we’re spending more time indoors and keeping our homes closed up against the cold. These two factors mean we should pay more attention to the air quality in our homes. Here are some things to consider at your Santa Cruz home:

• Ban the use of pesticides in your home. Insecticides are toxic to all life forms, not just insects. Many are carcinogenic. If you have a serious pest problem like roaches, try using boric acid against them. Otherwise, the occasional spider or beetle is not a real threat to you.

• Simplify cleaning. Most commercially available cleaners are a stew of chemicals. You don’t need to be breathing their fumes. Instead, you can use baking soda and/or white vinegar for most jobs.

• Ventilate the bathroom. In

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Within the walls of your house, you’ve probably raised a family, made future plans and created years of memories. Take time this month to be thankful for everything your Santa Cruz home has given you by giving it some green TLC this Thanksgiving.

With Christmas right around the corner, I know it’s hard to justify spending a lot of money on your Santa Cruz home. Below are a few easy and affordable green projects for you to do this Thanksgiving holiday — and they’ll start paying off immediately!

• Buy compact florescent light bulbs. You don’t have to do this all at once. As your light bulbs burn out, replace them with these energy savers for around $3 a piece. They last about ten times longer than incandescent light bulbs and can save you close to $40

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If you’ve been thinking about replacing windows, doors,  roofing, insulation, the heating and cooling system and/or hot water heater in your Santa Cruz home, don’t delay!

You can qualify for the energy-efficiency tax credit by installing eligible energy-efficient products, but only until the end of 2011. For most upgrades, the credit is equal to 10 percent of the equipment cost (labor is usually not included), with a cap of $500. Remember, a tax credit is much better than a mere deduction because a tax credit is subtracted from the taxes you owe.

In addition, here are other benefits you’ll reap from a green renovation.

• Your home will be quieter. With tight new windows and doors, or added insulation, you won’t hear what the neighbors are doing,

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