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What’s the Most Energy-Efficient Refrigerator Model?

Posted on August 12, 2015 by | Comments Off

Energy Star, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s voluntary program aimed at helping individuals and businesses make good decisions about energy use says, “When you are buying a refrigerator, there are really two price tags. The initial purchase price can be thought of as the down payment. You’ll be paying the second price tag on your monthly utility bill for about 15 years.”

If you’re in the market for a refrigerator, the EPA wants you to know that generally speaking, now is a good time to replace an aging model. Refrigerators manufactured today are considerably more energy efficient than those made 10 years ago, thanks to improved insulation and more efficient compressor technology. You may also qualify for help in upgrading an aging fridge. A new program from Dominion Virginia Power offers a $50 rebate for recycling an old refrigerator through the appliance recycling rebate program.

EPA also wants refrigerator shoppers to know that in some cases, when you make a bigger “down payment,” if some of the money is going toward a state-of-the-art compressor, upgraded insulation, more durable seals and a “low-energy” setting, you may be taking a significant step toward reducing your utility bills. But there’s a catch: if part of your purchase price is going toward a through-the-door ice and water dispenser ($75 to $250), an automatic defrost system or an anti-sweat heater, the energy savings may simply balance out the extra energy requirements of these accessories.

fridge energy starThe door configuration and position of the freezer, with respect to the refrigerator compartment, also have significant impacts on the cost of operating a refrigerator for the duration of its service life. According to Energy Star, the most efficient refrigerators are those with a top freezer and no through-the-door ice-and-water dispenser. Most of the popular refrigerator configurations are ranked below.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, refrigerators account for almost 14% of the typical home energy bill. But the most efficient refrigerators use about 25% less electricity than the least efficient, which can add up to big savings.

The maximum amount of energy that specific appliances may use is actually regulated by law under the National Appliance Energy Conservation Act, first enacted in 1987. If your interests lie in shopping for a more energy-efficient fridge, start looking among those that bear a yellow Energy Star label. To qualify for an Energy Star label, a refrigerator must consume at least 20% less energy than the maximum allowed by law. The label provides estimates of the annual electricity use and operating cost for that particular refrigerator and enables you to compare it to similar models. There are many factors beyond size—configuration chief among them—that play into how much energy a refrigerator consumes.

Michael Chotiner is a DIY expert with many years of general contractor experience related to kitchens, appliances and energy usage. Michael writes about home energy topics for The Home Depot.  

Posted in: Energy Saving & Cooling, Going Green, Household tips

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No Butts About It……Virginia Beach Working to Reduce Cigarette Litter

Posted on August 6, 2015 by | Comments Off

8.5x11_whaleThe City of Virginia Beach is excited to participate in two Keep America Beautiful Cigarette Litter Prevention Program (CLPP) grants in an effort to reduce cigarette litter at the Virginia Beach Oceanfront and Lake Smith/Lake Lawson Natural Area.

VB 1st streetClean Virginia Waterways of Longwood University (CVW) is spearheading the Virginia Beach Oceanfront initiative. CVW’s program involves working with various partners at the Virginia Beach Oceanfront. This project targets visitors to the resort area and is the first CLPP of its kind!

With the help of the Virginia Beach Hotel Association (VBHA) and Virginia Green, CVW partnered with 12 resort hotels and supplied each of them with a cigarette receptacle, pocket ashtrays and program signage for their guests. We also worked with the City of Virginia Beach Resort Management office to place five receptacles on the boardwalk between 20th and 24th Streets. Finally, through collaboration with the VBHA, Virginia Beach Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Resort Advisory Commission (RAC) G.R.E.E.N. Committee, we created graphics consistent with the committee’s Clean Beaches Program. 

Throughout the project, volunteers from Surfrider Foundation’s Virginia Beach Chapter and the Navy’s Norfolk Fleet Readiness Center have conducted six litter scans at four sites along the oceanfront, including small areas along the beach, boardwalk and beach access areas. To date, volunteers have counted and removed more than 12,000 butts from the sites.

VB 20th streetOnce the project is complete, we hope the Clean Beaches Program will continue keeping our beaches Beachy Clean!  Keep track of our project on the CLPP Virginia Beach Facebook page:

Virginia Beach Parks and Recreation is also participating in a CLPP grant coordinated through at Lake Smith/Lake Lawson Natural Area. This 42-area preserve has more than 12,000 feet of shoreline and, while the City of Virginia Beach owns the property, the water/reservoir is owned by the City of Norfolk.

After being closed for approximately one year, this popular fishing destination reopened in October 2014 after a major renovation. The improvements include a new boat ramp, car and boat trailer parking, several fishing and overlook platforms, a pedestrian bridge, trail renovations, a large shelter, a new playground and a new restroom facility.

VB 20150803_152512_resizedVB 20150803_152733_resizedAs a part of the grant initiative, five cigarette litter receptacles have been placed throughout the property to encourage proper disposal of cigarette litter. Our goal is to provide disposal resources, educate citizens and encourage our patrons to assist us with litter prevention. This is the first time Virginia Beach Parks and Recreation has participated in the CLPP.

On Saturday, August 8 from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. staff and volunteers will be at Lake Smith/Lake Lawson to educate patrons on the program. Patrons will learn about the new receptacle locations, receive educational material and free portable pocket and auto ash trays.

In addition, the Virginia Beach Oceanfront and Lake Smith/Lake Lawson Natural Areas CLPP are a part of Terracycle’s Cigarette Waste Brigade. The cigarette waste collected is recycled into a variety of industrial products such as plastic pallets, and remaining waste is recycled as compost.

Cigarette butts are the most littered item in America.  We encourage everyone to dispose of cigarettes butts and other litter in their proper receptacles and to do their part in Keeping Virginia Beach Beautiful!

Submitted by Amy Woodson, Virginia Beach Parks & Recreation and Christina Trapani, Eco Maniac Company    

Posted in: Beautification, Cigarette Litter, Cigarette Litter, Don't litter!, Golf Tournament

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What did you do with your kids this weekend?

Posted on August 3, 2015 by | Comments Off

 Team re-StorSo, what did you do with your children/grandchildren this weekend? Rhetorical question? Maybe…

After hearing about a horrible act of vandalism in a neighboring community, I contacted a local community leader and offered some resources we have to help with the cleanup and restoration of the two residences impacted. In four days, event coordinators got resources donated from the local Home Depot at Princess Anne and Lynnhaven Parkway in Virginia Beach. I worked with them to secure resources and equipment from the Virginia Beach Clean Community Helping Hands Program to assist in the effort. I shared with Pieri Burton and James Cohen, the event coordinators, and Steve Batton, local radio host, our experiences with large groups of volunteers at events and helped them determine what logistical support they needed.

Community Reestoration Project 4

Chloe McGough, a student at Deer Park Elementary School in Newport News, helps a team installing a new fence at the Community Restoration Project in Virginia Beach.

The event was scheduled for Saturday, July 18th from 10 AM – 2 PM. The evening before, I shared with our granddaughters Chloe, age 8 and Claire, Age 3 ½ that I would be helping with supplies and other things for the effort. They both have volunteered for me in the past and I was impressed when they offered to help. They both got up early in the morning, got breakfast and dressed and helped me load equipment into our truck for the event. From the TV and radio coverage, there was a possibility for a large turn out. Even Home Depot gathered associates to volunteer for the project. What a benefit, they were able to call the store directly and have supplies waiting.

Community restoration Porject 3Indeed there was a large turnout. Our team took assessment of the needs and unloaded the first truck of donated supplies from Home Depot. I took a young man with me to get more equipment from the Virginia Beach Clean Community storage facility after we had a better idea of what was needed. Our girls got to work quickly, cleaning graffiti, moving branches, clearing rocks and helping with gardening. They were the subject of several video pieces in three pieces of local news coverage. What continued for over five hours was, in a word, amazing. Chloe and Claire worked tirelessly alongside adults who were so impressed with them and watched over them.

Since we had an appointment for them in the afternoon and it took over 30 minutes to get them into the truck. Each one had, “just something more to do Grandpa”.

Community restoration 1

Claire and Chloe McGough help unload and place gardening fabric in new flower beds

The final result was impressive, houses cleaned, over 100 feet of fencing replaced, doors replaced, gates built, decks washed and no less than three flowerbeds planted. Over 100 people came out with 65 registering to do this selfless act of love and community. People from all walks of life and from 3 to 70 years old came out…


Our girls were jazzed and tired, but inspired to help and do more. So, what did you do with your kids this weekend?

Guest blog submitted by Dan Baxter, Chairman Virginia Beach Clean Community Commission and Business Recycling Coordinator City of Newport News   

Posted in: Beautification, Community events

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Water Smart, Hampton Roads

Posted on July 31, 2015 by | Comments Off

An_Irrigation_sprinkler_watering_a_gardenWe’re wrapping up July so it’s a good time to check in on our watering practices. It’s easy to keep our lawns and landscape in tip top shape without excessive watering even in the heat of summer…we just have to be water smart in our practices. Here’s how:

  • Water at the right time of day – in the mornings when the sun is low, winds are calm and temps are cooler. Watering in the heat of the day is less effective because of the water lost due to evaporation.
  • Adjust your sprinkler system. The sidewalk and the driveway do NOT need watering – and your lawn doesn’t need it either during a rain shower. Adjust sprinklers to only water the plants, not the pavement. If you have an automatic system, installing a moisture sensor will help you avoid being THAT house that’s watering while it’s raining.
  • Speaking of rain, adjust your watering schedule to account for rain. Your lawn only needs about an inch of water per week so pay attention to the forecast and if we get an inch of rain, hold off on watering for another week.
  • If you have an irrigation system, always pay attention to your water bills. A sudden spike  could indicate a leak that’s costing you lots of gallons and subsequently lots of dollars and cents.

Happy watering!

Posted in: Gardening, Going Green, Lawn and landscape, Lawncare, Outdoor tips, Uncategorized, Using water wisely

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Keep Suffolk Beautiful Encourages the End to Cigarette Butt Litter

Posted on July 30, 2015 by | Comments Off

Suffolk CLPP#NoCigaretteLitterNow. The hash tag says it all! Seven Hampton Roads localities have teamed up to tackle cigarette butt litter throughout our communities. While each community is unique in their execution of the Keep America Beautiful Cigarette Litter Prevention Program, the message is the same: cigarette butts = litter. The City of Suffolk launched its cigarette litter prevention program on June 22. With the help of the chair of the Suffolk Clean Community Commission, Kathy Russell, and City of Suffolk Public Works employees, we were able to install five cigarette receptacles in downtown Suffolk along Main Street and West Washington. Downtown Suffolk was chosen as the target area for this program because it is the source of new construction, high traffic volume, and various businesses. The receptacles can be found in front of Toke Hookah Lounge, Serendipity Hair Salon, East Coast Taco, Super Drug Inc., and All About Virginia & More gift Shop. The owner of each of these businesses have joined in our efforts to stop cigarette butt litter by pledging to take responsibility for the upkeep of these receptacles and also to help communicate to smokers the harm of cigarette litter. Originally finding over 300 cigarette butts in our target area, our goal is for the receptacles, along with the educational awareness, to help reduce the number of cigarette butt litter found on the ground. Listed below are ways that you can get involved with our program:

  • Smokers: visit any of the participating business in downtown Suffolk to grab your free pocket or car ashtray! Never throw cigarette butts out of car windows or on the ground.
  • Do Your Part: host a cleanup in your community or neighborhood to help Keep Suffolk Beautiful. It is our responsibility to help keep our community litter free. Cigarette butt litter is unsightly and harmful to wildlife.
  • Communicate: inform smokers about the harm of cigarette litter. Filters do not biodegrade and persist in the environment.
  • Share your thoughts: Use the hashtag #NoCigaretteLitterNow on Facebook and Twitter to let friends and families know about the Cigarette Litter Prevention Program.
  • See for yourself: City of Suffolk Public Works will be at each T.G.I.F. Summer Concert Series for the remainder of the summer. Stop by to learn more about the Cigarette Litter Prevention Program and to pick up a free ashtray! Be sure to look for the results of this program, along with the follow up scan that will be shared in a national report. 

Suffolk CLPP2Receptacle placement is most successful at points of transition, where people are moving from place to place. The positioning of the receptacles combined with positive reminders, education and awareness will help smokers to do the right thing. Remember, cigarette butts are litter too.

This blog contributed by Lacie Nixson, Environmental Technician with Suffolk Public Works.

Posted in: Beautification, Cigarette Litter, Cigarette Litter, Don't litter!, Waterways

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