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All About the Lumens

Posted on August 18, 2016 by | Comments Off

LEDIf you have shopped for light bulbs lately, you probably noticed that there are a lot more choices than there used to be. That’s because the old incandescent bulb that has been around for 135 years is giving way to newer, more energy-efficient models. Considering that lighting accounts for 10 to 12 percent of the average household’s energy bill, switching to bulbs that use less energy makes financial sense, and it helps reduce greenhouse gases.

The driving force behind the change is the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. Among other things, the act set minimum energy standards for light bulbs. By 2014, all new light bulbs had to be 27 percent more energy efficient than what was standard at the time.

Bulb manufacturers are meeting the requirements in a number of ways. The old incandescent bulb was paired with halogen technology, so now the bulb produces the same amount of light using less power. The light produced by a 100-watt bulb can now be produced by one using only about 72 watts.

In addition, compact fluorescent (CFL) and LED bulbs cut energy use by 70 to 90 percent over old incandescent bulbs. Plus, they last longer than old bulbs. An incandescent bulb has about a 1,000-hour lifespan, but CFLs and LEDs can last from 10,000 to 20,000 hours. The newer bulbs cost more than the old ones, but the prices have been dropping steadily, and some utilities offer rebates for switching to energy-efficient bulbs. These bulbs also produce 70 to 90 percent less heat than the standard incandescent bulb.


What’s with Watts?

Part of the confusion about new types of bulbs is the way we talk about them. Most people equate lighting power with watts. For example, it is common to assume that a 100-watt bulb produces about 40 percent more light than a 60-watt bulb. But that type of thinking misses the point. Watts is a measurement of how much electricity a bulb consumes, not its lighting power. Lumens is the measurement of light output. A CFL that consumes 15 watts of electricity and the LED that uses 10 watts can produce the same amount of light—about 800 lumens—as the 60-watt incandescent bulb. 


Despite the energy savings, CFLs and LEDs were a little slow to catch on. One reason had to do with the way the new technologies rendered colors. They did not provide the soft glow we have come to expect from incandescent bulbs. Some required special fixtures and could not be used in the floor lamps and chandeliers that were already in place.


That has changed. Now they can be used in just about any light fixture, although some should not be used in lamps that are fully enclosed. If the bulb cannot be used in an enclosed fixture, it will be stated clearly on the bulb’s packaging. CFLs and LEDs are also now available in everything from “warm,” which is the flattering yellowish light of incandescent bulbs, to “cool,” which has a bluer tint.


CFLs were on the market before LEDs, but many experts think that LEDs are the lights of the future. They can be used anywhere, including with dimmers, and they are more versatile. LED stands for light emitting diode, so besides providing lamp light to read a book, the lighting elements can be mounted in strips to produce spectacular decorative lighting effects. They can create a soft glow along the ceiling when the strips are mounted behind crown molding, or be hidden under wall cabinets to illuminate a kitchen countertop. This only consumes about one-half to one watt per foot of lighting strip, so besides looking great, it can serve as an inexpensive, low-energy night light.


Don’t Forget to Read the Label

Requirements for light bulb packaging can help you navigate the changes in light bulb efficiency. For the present, manufacturers still display the bulbs wattage to help consumers get their bearings. You may see something like “Replacement for 60-watt bulb” with the “60” in large type. That will be followed by the actual wattage of the bulb.


The packaging also lists the lumens, which is the important number for signifying the amount of light produced. You will also find information on estimates on the life expectancy of the bulb, where the bulb falls on the type of light it produces—“warm” to “cool”—and an estimate on the yearly energy costs. All this information will help you make an informed, eco-conscious decision when choosing light bulbs. 


Home improvement expert Fran Donegan has a strong interest in, and writes often about, energy-efficiency and lighting for The Home Depot and is also the author of the DIY book Paint Your 

Posted in: Energy Saving & Cooling, Household tips

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5 Things You Should Stop Throwing Away

Posted on August 16, 2016 by | Comments Off

litter3Conservation is going to be an important aspect of the future, and it is vital now if we hope to reach that future. Recycling your home trash is one way to go about helping the environment, but what can you recycle? You might be surprised to learn that a lot more things are recyclable than paper and plastic. There are a whole host of items that you should never throw away, not only because they are bad for the environment, but because you can actually get more value from them than you realize. Here’s five examples to get you started:  

1. Electronics

Most people have no idea how valuable electronic devices are, even if they are broken. The average modern smartphone is made with numerous precious metals that must be mined from the Earth in a process that does a lot of damage, so recycling those materials is vital. In one million cell phones, there is about 770 pounds of silver, 75 pounds of gold, 30 pounds of palladium, and over 35,000 pounds of pure copper. Considering how often people change cell phones and how many overall people on the planet use them, it’s easy to see why these devices are so valuable to recycling initiatives.

2. Food Waste

If you have any sort of garden or outdoor plants that require feeding, food waste should never be thrown out with the trash. Fruits and vegetables make especially good fertilizer if allowed to decompose. In order to take advantage of this idea without having to drastically change your habits, you can create a compost box by drilling a few small holes in the side of a large plastic container with a lid. The holes are to help gases escape as they are generated during the degrading process. The box should be previously filled with a thin layer of dirt, leaves, and earthworms. This will expedite the process.

3. Plastic Bags

Plastic grocery bags are horrible for the environment, so you should avoid taking them from the store, but if you do use them, do not throw them away. They won’t decompose in a landfill for thousands of years, and they can be repurposed in multiple ways. They can be reused to lug things around, prep food in the kitchen, household storage  and of course cleaning up after your dog. Use a single grocery bag to hold all the other grocery bags in one place.

4. Glass Jars

You probably go through glass jars faster than you realize, but they should never be thrown away. You can take that old pickle or mayonnaise jar and clean it with bleach or some other abrasive cleaner to remove any labels and remaining food odor. Once the jars are dried out, they can be used numerous ways. They can help organize a closet or garage space, they can be used for leftovers, or make a custom homemade gift. Glass is also recyclable, so if you accumulate too many jars, your extras can go in your curbside recycling cart.

5. Cardboard Rolls

Cardboard tubes are all over the place thanks to paper towels and toilet paper. They are uniquely shaped items that can do a lot of things. They can be used to create easy dispensing units for plastic bags, they can organize a cluttered collection of wires, and they make great frames for new seedling plants to take root. You can also use them to store Christmas lights by wrapping them inside the tubes, and they can be used to store rolled up paper documents. Like glass, cardboard rolls are also recyclable so toss extras into your curbside recycling cart.

Guest blog contributed by Jessica Kane, professional blogger for Econoheat. For more ideas check out 10 more reuse and recycling ideas.

Posted in: Going Green, Reduce reuse and recycle

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You Can Prevent the Spread of Zika Virus

Posted on August 11, 2016 by | Comments Off

By now you’ve probably heard all about the Zika virus. Zika was first launched into the headlines when it was linked with birth defects in newborns. There has been additional scrutiny on the mosquito-borne virus because of the Olympic games in Rio. With athletes and spectators from around the world travelling to Rio, there is real uncertainty surrounding how widely the virus could spread. Recently, Florida reported its first cases of mosquito-borne Zika so now is the time for us all to take action to limit the spread of this nasty virus in our communities.

What can you do? Worldwide health crises don’t usually seem like the kind of thing an average Joe can solve but in this case, we all have the power to stop the spread of Zika by taking action to prevent the breeding of mosquitoes. The number one way we can do this is by preventing water from standing in or around our properties. Pools of water in containers around your yard, whether big or small, will provide the habitat needed by mosquitoes to breed. Look around your yard, identify these breeding grounds and correct the issue through tip, toss and cover. Watch this short video below to learn more.

Do you have old tires laying around? That’s a big no-no. Tires catch lots of water and turn into five-star resorts for mosquito breeding. Responsibly dispose of tires by checking our handy tire disposal guide listed by city/county below. Together as a community we can prevent the spread of Zika virus.

Residential Tire Recycling in Hampton Roads

Chesapeake | Gloucester | Hampton | Isle of Wight | James City | Newport News | Norfolk | Poquoson | Portsmouth | Smithfield | Southampton | Suffolk | Virginia BeachWilliamsburg | York

Residents may schedule bulk pickup online or by calling 382-2489. Up to two tires (without rims) will be accepted per bulk pickup. Residents may schedule 12 bulk pickups per year. 

Residents may drop off four tires (off the rim) at any Gloucester County convenience center. For more information, call (804) 693-5370 

Residents may place up to five tires, including rims, at the curb on their regularly scheduled trash collection day. There is a max of 10 tires per household per year. For more information, call (757) 727-8311

Isle of Wight
Residents may drop off up to four tires per day at any Isle of Wight County convenience center. For more information, call (757) 365-1658. 

James City
Residents may use the Jolly Pond and Toano Convenience Centers for disposing of tires. Coupons required. Call 565-0971 for more information.   

Newport News
Residents who pay the Solid Waste User Fee may drop off four off-rim tires per week to the Recovery Operation Center. Maximum of 12 tires per year.  Passenger car and small truck tires only. For more information call 886-7947. 

Residents may dispose of up to four tires per household per month at no charge. Bulk pickup requests must be placed by 3 p.m. the day before collection. To schedule a bulk pick, please call 664-6510. 

Tires may be brought to the City’s old Recycling Center which is located behind the Municipal Building next to the pool parking lot. To cover the cost of the disposal of tires there is a $1 per tire fee. Purchase City decals in the Treasurer’s office and affix the decal to each tire prior to disposal. 

Residents may place up to 8 tires (without rim) each year at curbside for pickup on scheduled trash pickup days. There are also three Portsmouth Recycles Day events each year where tires are accepted without counting towards the annual maximum. For more information, call 393-8663. 

Residents may drop off up to four tires per day at any Isle of Wight County convenience center. For more information, call (757) 365-1658. 

Check back soon! 

Residents may use SPSA or special recycling events for disposing of tires. For pricing on year-round disposal, call SPSA at 961-3668 or find the next free recycling event here 

Virginia Beach
Virginia Beach residents can recycle tires via the City Landfill & Resource Recovery Center. Up to four automobile or light truck tires with or without rims can be disposed of free of charge with proof of residency. Only waste generated at the primary residence of City of Virginia Beach citizens will be accepted. Waste must be delivered in a privately owned, non-commercial, vehicle that is no larger than a pickup truck bed. The City of Virginia Beach Landfill & Resource Recovery Center is located at 1989 Jake Sears Road, Virginia Beach, VA 23464. Open Tuesday through Saturday from 7:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. If you have questions call (757) 385-1980 or email  

Residents may use the James City County Jolly Pond Convenience Centers for disposing of tires. Coupons are required. Call 565-0971 for more information.   

Residents may bring up to five tires per day to the Waste Management Center for disposal. Fees apply: $1.50/for standard automobile tires without rims; $3.00 if the rim is on.  Tires 19.5” or larger are $5.00 (no rim) and $7.50 (on rim). Please call for fees on additional tire sizes, (757) 890-3780.

Posted in: Don't litter!, Household tips, Lawn and landscape, Outdoor tips, Reduce reuse and recycle

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HRSD Recycling by the Numbers

Posted on August 10, 2016 by | Comments Off

Each year the HRSD Sustainability Advocacy Group reports recycling data to HRPDC which is then compiled into a large report on the “State of Recycling” in the region. The table below shows the amount of recycled materials HRSD reported to HRPDC for 2015. The materials recovered include the normal waste produced in every office like plastic bags and mixed recycling (paper, cans, etc.) and industrial supplies like lab plastics, metals and automotive supplies. HRSD personnel do a great job of finding avenues for recycling unused material and are always looking for more suggestions! As you can see, businesses and other big operations are uniquely positioned to make a big difference when it comes to waste reduction. How does your business reduce, reuse or recycle?



Blog contributed by Laura Kirkwood, Project Manager with HRSD.

Posted in: Reduce reuse and recycle

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Virginia Beach Goes Beyond the Curb in New Video

Posted on August 4, 2016 by | Comments Off

Video Provides Fresh Look at Waste Management Services

What happens to trash, recycling and yard debris after residents place it at the curb? Virginia Beach Public Work’s Waste Management division, with production assistance from the Communications Office’s Multimedia Services division, created a new video, “Beyond the Curb, Virginia Beach Waste Management Services,” that shows it all. It is available on VBTV’s YouTube page, and is being rolled out to the community through online resources. Staff will use it as part of future public presentations as well.



Blog contributed by Craig Simmons, Recycling Administrative Technician for the City of Virginia Beach.

Posted in: For educators, Reduce reuse and recycle

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