Going Green, Part 2 – Consumers


We all know it’s important to help preserve our environment in our personal lives.  Perhaps we do so by recycling or by installing low-flow toilets or by buying recycled products though we know we need to do more.  Perhaps we don’t really know how to incorporate ‘green’ practices into our lives so we have not made any changes, though we know we need to.  If you fall into one of the above categories, we’ve got some great suggestions for you to follow to make 2010 more environmentally friendly for you and your family.

Work with a Company To Save Energy
There are a number of ways to save energy and it may be confusing for the average homeowner to know which way to turn.  Working with a professional company that is educated and has experience in energy saving methods is the best way to go.

One option is to work with a heating/cooling contractor who can install an energy efficient system such as a heat pump.  Cool Concepts is a local heating/cooling contractor who can meet with you and give you the best options for your unique situation, whether that is a new, high efficiency furnace, a heat pump or another option.  Usually, the money you spend on a new system will be recouped through savings in your heating bill over the next few months or years (depending on the system you choose and your prior utility situation).

Another idea is to incorporate solar into your energy needs.  Ambition Electric, a new electrical contractor in the state of Nebraska, is an authorized dealer of Infinergy Wind and Solar, one of the largest renewable energy dealers in the United States.  Infinergy offers a program called “Harvest the Sun”, a lease program designed around the customer’s current electric rates.  In short, the customer would sign a 10 year lease for a solar system sized according to their needs. Because the system is still owned by Infinergy Wind and Solar for the first 10 years, Infinergy applies for the 30% tax credit and they use that money to purchase the solar system. After the system is purchased and installed, the customer pays Infinergy 80% of their current electric rates each month for the next ten years for the power that Infinergy produces with the system.

After the lease expires the customer than has the option to buy out the contract, for a small fee depending on the size of the system, or have the system removed. This program is designed to allow the average home or business owner the option to supply themselves with their own power.

Work with a Company to Develop a Plan
Working with a company that offers a number of environmentally friendly services is a great way to come up with a comprehensive plan for making your life ‘greener’.  One such company is New Horizons, which is based out of Kansas City but has recently opened a new office to assist Lincoln clients.  According to CEO Stephanie Isaacson, “New Horizons works to help our clients “go green” by providing our 360 degree approach to environmental consulting. New Horizons has worked with our clients to develop green procurement, and pollution preventions plans. This has helped clients buy green, reduce waste, save money, and help do their part to green the environment. New Horizons also provides energy audits to our clients. These audits help identify areas where energy conservation opportunities may exist, and allow the client to make changes to reduce energy consumption and save money.”

She goes on to say, “Additionally, New Horizons provides environmental remediation services to clients. If our clients have property that needs cleaned up, we can provide this service and work with them to restore their property back to a clean and environmentally safe site. New Horizons has always been a green company.  We were founded on the principles of the “science” behind the green, prior to the green movement.

New Horizons will continue to work on environmental reduction even when the green movement has passed.  New Horizon has worked with state and federal agencies to improve their management plans to include pollution prevention. New Horizons also works them to maintain compliance with Executive Order 13423 and ISO 1400. A stronger push is this area is clearly seen with the new administration in office.”

Shop at “Green” Stores
Shopping at businesses that are committed to the environment is not only a good way to be more ‘green’ as a consumer, but it’s also a good way to support those businesses who are doing their part to help the environment.  Open Harvest, a member-owned retail cooperative, is a great example of a local store that is dedicated to doing business the right way.  The goal of Open Harvest is to provide good health through nutrition and is also dedicated to equitable employment practices, support of local producers, consumer education and sustainable agricultural practices.

A good percentage of the foods Open Harvest sells is organic.  They provide whole foods to the community which remain as close as possible to the way nature made them and the way our bodies were designed to use them.  Open Harvest also supports sustainable agriculture whenever possible.  The co-op buys from Consumer Supported Agriculture ventures and organic farms and purchases products made from ingredients grown sustainably and organically.  They also support members of the Nebraska Sustainable Agriculture Society.

Use “Green” Service Providers
Using service providers whose products and services are environmentally friendly is another good way to incorporate “green” habits into your life.  An example of this would be using a professional carpet cleaner that is HOST Green Seal Certified, such as Interior Dry Cleaning Services of Lincoln.  Interior Dry Cleaning Systems offers a revolutionary way of cleaning carpets that involves no water, no wait and no waste.  By using no water, they avoid generating the large amounts of wastewater that traditional carpet cleaners do.  In fact, compared to a year’s worth of typical high-flow water extraction cleaning of 50,000 square feet of carpet, the HOST system saves 205,716 gallons of fresh water per year and reduces waste water by 174,859 gallons per year.  In addition, this method saves energy because there is no water to heat, no need to use blowers and no need for air conditioners to dry carpet.  The HOST system also reduces dust mites and allergens and prevents mold and mildew growth.  When you use Interior Dry Cleaning Systems, you are not only doing yourself a favor, but you are also supporting a business that is doing right by the economy.

Incorporating green practices into your daily consumer life is important for all of us and will add up to a major positive impact on the environment.  If you want to make your life ‘greener’ contact one of the professionals above and they can help you implement ideas that will not only save the environment, but also might save you money!

Check out these great companies in your efforts to go “green”

Ambition Electric – Exclusive Infinergy Dealer/Installer for the Nebraska, Iowa, and Kansas area

Dixon Power – Complete solar and wind turbine systems

Cool Concepts – Heating, cooling and restaurant appliance repair

Engineered Control- Building control technology

New Horizons – Quality environmental management and contracting services

K2 Geothermal-Full service commercial and residential geothermal heating and cooling contractor

Open Harvest – Natural foods cooperative grocery

Eric’s Electric – Full service electrician in Lincoln for 10 years call 402-464-6449