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Stop throwing away food

Organic waste


We’ve already looked at how you can dispose of food scraps without sending them to a landfill. But what about the food that goes bad, or those leftovers you simply didn’t get around to eating? Putting them through your food waste disposer might be an option, but wouldn’t you rather they hadn’t gone bad in the first place?

While we aren’t advocating that you eat spoiled food, there are steps you can take to consume more of the food you purchase and cut down on wasted food in your household. A lot of it comes down to planning and preparation:

  • Watch the calendar: Are you heading out of town soon for vacation or business? Scale down your shopping as your departure date gets closer so you aren’t buying food that you won’t have time to eat, or that will go bad while you’re out of town.
  • Have a backup plan: Power outages can happen in any season, and they’re unpredictable. Know in advance what you’ll do to preserve your food if the power goes out. It might mean asking friends or family to store your food until the power comes back on. If you’re expecting bad weather, placing bags of ice in your refrigerator or freezer can help keep things cool if the power is only out for a short time. If it’s winter and temperatures are cool enough, consider storing your perishables outdoors or in an unheated garage where the temperature is at or near freezing.
  • Can’t find a backup? Donate the food to a local food pantry or shelter. You may need to arrange this in advance, as not every organization will accept every kind of donation. Know where you’ll take the food as part of your emergency plan.
  • Take the temperature: Keep the doors to your refrigerator and freezer closed if you lose power or your refrigerator stops working. Keeping a thermometer inside your fridge can let you know if the temperature inside is staying at or below the recommended 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Call a service provider immediately if the temperature is running high. Follow AHAM’s advice on keeping the bill under control if you need to call for repairs.

Appliance manufacturers know that keeping track of expiration dates can be tricky. A new generation of refrigerators uses cameras and touch screens to help you attach expiration dates to products and see what’s inside the fridge without opening the door. Some can help you keep a shopping list or even order groceries for you.

Food waste disposers cut trash in neighborhoods and landfills

Are you going to eat that? We hope so. If not, you could be throwing away more than a few extra bites. A 2015 survey by the American Chemistry Council put the cost of wasted food at $640 per year, per household.

Regardless of whether the food is scraps, leftovers, uneaten portions or spoiled food, it all becomes food waste once it’s thrown away, and it’s a big problem. Food waste is the biggest single contributor to municipal landfills. According to the EPA, food waste made up 21 percent, or 35 million tons, of discarded municipal solid waste in the U.S. in 2013.

The environmental fallout from food waste can be severe. When food waste breaks down it releases methane, a harmful greenhouse gas. Food waste also attracts pests and rodents when it’s left out in garbage cans or bags. And walking within a few yard feet of a trash bag or can containing food waste on a hot summer day isn’t a pleasant experience.

But when they’re put through a food waste disposer, those leftover scraps can provide environmental benefits in the form of reduced household waste and fewer rodents and insects. Perhaps most importantly, it can make sure you send less food waste to the landfill. Here’s how: Food that is put through a food waste disposer ends up at a wastewater treatment plant, not a landfill. But it isn’t discarded. Instead, it’s used as food for the microscopic organisms that are used to treat wastewater. If this happened in a landfill, the methane those organisms produce would be released into the atmosphere. Many wastewater plants use the methane they capture to help power the treatment facility. Leftover scraps can be turned into fertilizer or soil conditioner.

Several cities around the U.S. have reaped the benefits of food waste disposers that were installed on a widespread scale in some of their neighborhoods. In Philadelphia, residents of the Point Breeze and West Oak Lane neighborhoods reported a significant drop in trash volume—an average of 1.4 pounds of trash per household, per week—after AHAM member InSinkErator installed 175 disposers into homes in those areas. Households in Tacoma, Wash. InSinkErator also installed food waste disposers in neighborhoods in neighborhoods in Tacoma, Wash., Milwaukee and Boston. Participating households reported the following average weekly reductions in waste after food waste disposers were installed:

Tacoma: 1.9 pounds

Milwaukee: 3.3 pounds

Boston: 4.1 pounds

In Philadelphia, residents also reported fewer problems with pests and rodents after the food waste disposers were installed, and said they were putting out one fewer trash bag per week.

Save Some Green and Help the Environment When You Buy a New Refrigerator

IStock_000010229680Medium

If you’ve been thinking about replacing your old refrigerator with a new one, now is a good time to do it. Under new energy efficiency standards released earlier this year by the U.S. Department of Energy, refrigerators, depending upon the model, can be up to 25 percent more efficient compared to refrigerators made just 10 years ago!

Jill Notini, AHAM’s Vice President of Communications & Marketing, spoke with ShopSmart about the new standards and how consumers can save money in the long term.

“Refrigerators that comply with the latest energy efficiency standards will use 20 to 25 percent less energy,?? says Jill Notini, vice president of communications for the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM). All told, the energy consumption of an average refrigerator has dropped more than 50 percent since 1990. “It now takes less energy to power a 22-cubic foot refrigerator than to keep a 50-wattlight bulb on all day,?? Notini says.

Notini also notes that not only may you be eligible for a rebate from your utility company or the government, but your old refrigerator will be recycled so you’ll be helping the environment too.

You might even be able to cash in on your old fridge. Check with your utility company or the rebate finder on Energystar.gov for rebate programs in your area. “Some programs are paying as much as $75 for turning in an older working refrigerator and clipping the cord so it’s officially off the grid,?? Notini says. Your old refrigerator isn’t going to waste in a landfill for hundreds of years. “The metal gets recycled and reused,?? Notini says. 

Read the full article here. You can learn more about the new refrigerator efficiency standards and how to read the ENERGY GUIDE at www.CoolEnergySavings.org.

Be Prepared Now for New Refrigerator Standards

You’ve probably seen those yellow EnergyGuide labels when you’ve shopped for an appliance – they tell you how much it will cost to operate the appliance each year. Well, if you’re looking for buy a new refrigerator you’ll notice that the EnergyGuide labels have been redesigned and that might leave you asking why?

LabelComparison1

Beginning in September, the U.S. Department of Energy’s new mandatory energy efficiency standards for refrigerators will become more stringent, but these new super- efficient models may be available in stores now.   The EnergyGuide label has also been redesigned to better reflect the new measurements and an updated nationwide average electricity cost of 12 cents per kWh.  So, at first glance, it may appear that that some fridges use more energy than older models, but be assured that they are indeed more efficient and can save you even more money on your utility bills.

AHAM has created a website called CoolEnergySavings.org to explain the efficiency standards and new EnergyGuide labels, answer common questions and provide information on recycling your old refrigerator.

CNET.com’s Megan Wollerton recently wrote an article discussing the new refrigerator energy standards:

The Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM)'s Vice President of Communications and Marketing, Jill Notini, says that replacing an old fridge is one of the simplest ways to make a difference in your energy bill. The good news is that models with the new energy standards don't seem to cost much more.

Unfortunately, Notini says, a lot of people transfer old fridges to a basement or garage as a backup for grocery overflow. Keeping an old fridge after buying a newer, more efficient model definitely isn't going to help you save money. But, if you actually replace an older model (as long as you aren't going from a small fridge with no ice maker to a very large fridge with an ice maker, or some other extreme) you should see significant savings.

Visit CoolEnergySavings.org today to learn more about how purchasing a new refrigerator can lower your monthly utility bills!

 

FirstEnergy Stadium Helps Turn Food Waste into Energy

If you’ve ever attended an NFL game, you may wonder what happens to all those hotdogs and other concession stand food that doesn’t sell. Well, the operators of the FirstEnergy Stadium, where the Cleveland Browns play, have found an innovative way to give new life to food that would otherwise find its way into the garbage can.

As GreenBiz.com notes, FirstEnergy Stadium installed a Grind2Energy system developed by InSinkErator that grinds up food waste and adds water to create a slurry. The waste is then stored in tanks before being transported to Ohio State University’s Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center where it is then converted to a biogas to make electricity or used as fertilizer.

“The Browns estimate that over the course of the season, uneaten food generates 35 tons of waste. Quasar will add dairy cow manure and potentially other sources of organic waste to the slurry and put it all into the digester. Over the course of weeks, the waste breaks down and produces biogas, which can be siphoned off and burned in a generator for electricity and heat. In a landfill, that food waste quickly would decompose into methane, a potent greenhouse gas. FirstEnergy Stadium estimates that its system will reduce the equivalent of 28,000 pounds of CO2 emissions, and generate enough electricity to power a home for a year and half.??

Read more about InSinkErator’s Grind2Energy system here.

So the next time you’re leaving a stadium and see hotdogs and nachos laying around the concession stand, remember that they very well could be used to power your home one night.

Autumn Rains Are a Good Reason to Purchase an AHAM Verified Dehumidifier

Autumn is here and that could mean a lot of rain depending
on the part of the U.S. in which you live. Damp, moldy basements are a problem
for many homeowners, and one of the quickest, most cost-effective ways of
keeping your basement dry and preventing damage to your possessions is by
investing in a dehumidifier.

Dehumidifiers carrying the AHAM
Verifide
mark are verified through AHAM’s Dehumidifier
Verification Program
have been tested and verified by an
independent laboratory, assuring consumers that the product will perform
according to the manufacturer’s product claims for energy consumption and water
removal capacity (rated in removal of pints per day).  

For units that have earned the ENERGY STAR
designation, AHAM’s energy verification of the unit ensures that the product
meets ENERGY STAR criteria.  AHAM is recognized by the EPA as a
Certification Body (CB) and approved to administer verification testing for
purposes of the ENERGY STAR program.

An online searchable database of dehumidifiers that have the
AHAM Verifide can be found
here.

This
Old House
has some maintenance tips to keep your
dehumidifier operating safely for years to come:

  • ·        
    Be sure the dehumidifier outlet is protected by
    a ground-fault circuit interrupter. Avoid using extension cords; spilled water
    presents a shock hazard.
  • ·        
    Place the unit at least 6 in. from any wall so
    air flows freely; shut all nearby windows and doors.
  • ·        
    For the first few days of use, turn the
    humidi-stat to the extra-dry setting, which will remove moisture from room
    furnishings.

Other tips can be found here.

Today’s Refrigerator’s Offer Lots of Options

124081Need a new refrigerator? If you haven’t been to an appliance
or big box store lately, you might be surprised by the variety of styles available
now.  A recent
article on NorthJersey.com
highlights how appliance manufacturers are designing refrigerators to meet
consumers’ needs and varying lifestyles.

Refrigerators now come in the following combinations:

  • Top-mounted freezer with a single refrigerator
    compartment
  • Bottom-mounted freezer with a single
    refrigerator compartment
  •  A
    side-by-side combination
  • A French-door combination with two eye-level
    refrigerator compartments and a bottom-mounted freezer
  • An Armoire that has four doors made up of two
    eye-level refrigerator compartments and two bottom compartments, one of which
    can be used as a freezer or as a third refrigerator compartment used for snacks
    and drinks

Each combination, of course, has its own pros and cons so it
is best to consider your lifestyle and the refrigerator’s use over a long
period of time. For example, the bottom mount freezer models might not best for
those who might not want to bend over to look for frozen food. Those who would
like all their food at eye-level might choose a side-by-side, especially since
many come equipped with ice and water dispensers, an additional convenience.

Click here to read the full
article.

Today’s refrigerators are bigger and
more energy efficient than those produced two decades ago. According to AHAM’s Trends
in Energy Efficiency
, in 1991, for instance, the average
refrigerator’s consumed 857 kilowatts per hour (kWh) and those manufactured in
2012 consumed only 454 (kWh) – a decrease of over 50%!

Be sure to visit the AHAM
Verifide website
to search a directory of
refrigerators. Refrigerators, refrigerator-freezers
and freezers that are verified through AHAM’s Verification Program have been
tested and verified by an independent laboratory, assuring consumers that the
product will perform according to the manufacturer’s product claims for energy
consumption and internal volume. 

Preventing Cooking Fires

National Fire Prevention Week is October 6-12,
2013 and this year’s theme is “Prevent Cooking Fires.?? AHAM is supporting this
effort by distributing free copies of its “Recipe for Safer Cooking?? brochure
to fire departments, schools and community organizations.   In just four weeks, more than 100,000
brochures have been distributed.

In addition to
“Recipe for Safer Cooking,?? AHAM also has several other safety brochures
available:

  • “Protect Against Range Tipping??
  •  “Clothes Dryer Safety??
  • “Portable Heater Safety Brochure??
    (English)
  • “Portable Heater Safety Brochure??
    (Spanish)

AHAM will provide
1,000 copies of “Recipe for Safer Cooking?? and 250 copies of one other brochure
at no cost. However, there will be a nominal shipping charge for larger orders.
You can order brochures
online or email AHAM
if you have any questions.

Smart Appliances: Smarter Than You Think

Chances are you’ve had an
appliance repairman at your home at some point over the years, and it probably
involved him taking apart the appliance to try to find out what’s wrong with
it. In the future, those days will be gone.

If you haven’t been in an appliance
showroom lately, you may not have realized that appliances are getting smarter.
And you wouldn’t be alone – even the host of “This Old House,?? Kevin O’Connor,
found that out recently when his dryer wasn’t working properly.

A
recent article in the Sacramento Bee highlights the
appliance industry’s continued development of smart appliances – appliances
that are able to “talk?? to their owners to operate at certain times of the day
and to assist in the diagnosing of any problems.

As for O’Connor, he called the
customer service number who was able to remotely diagnose his dryer’s problem
as being related to a clogged exhaust vent – a task he was able to take care of
himself without having to pay for a repairman to visit.

Appliance companies are using this
new technology differently. Some allow owners to download free apps and allow
them to interact with their appliances using their smart phone, tablet or
computer and tell them when the drying cycle is complete, for example. Other
appliances come equipped with a data port that allow service technicians to
connect via their laptop to scan for any issues, similar to the way a mechanic
can scan a car’s computer for problems.

Warwick Stirling, senior director of connectivity and
sustainability for Whirlpool, says, “We’re moving from the electro-mechanical
to the software-driven space. We’ve found we can get more reliability from
solid-state electronics.??

Click
here
to read the full article.

Lower Your Utility Bill by Choosing an AHAM Verifide Clothes Washer

IStock_000010284764MediumThe most helpful
household appliance, at least when it comes to saving time and backbreaking
work, has to be the clothes washer. Clothes washers have come a long way over
the decades, and they’re now more energy efficient than ever—even while the
average tub size has grown. In fact, a clothes washer manufactured in 2011 uses
over 75 percent less energy than  one
manufactured in 1991. Those savings really add up over the years.

Thankfully, when
consumers are looking to purchase a new clothes washer, they can rely on those models
that carry the AHAM Verifide mark
which signifies that it has been verified by
an independent laboratory to perform to the manufacturer’s product claims for
energy consumption and water use. Additionally, for those clothes washers that
have earned ENERGY
STAR designation
, AHAM’s energy verification of the
unit ensures that the product meets ENERGY STAR criteria.

Ralph Hudnall, AHAM’s
Director, Product Certification and Verification, explains that the independent
laboratory randomly selects units from a list of models when they visit the manufacturers’
warehouses. When the units are taken back to the lab, technicians determine the
capacity of the tub volume by measuring how much water and how many pounds of
clothes it can hold. Special “test cloths?? are used for these tests. These test
cloths,  are produced according to an
industry standard so that water absorption and weight are the same across all
samples, thereby ensuring accuracy. Additionally, the annual energy use is
determined by calculating the amount of energy used per wash cycle and then multiplied
by the total number of loads of laundry the average household does each year.

“The great thing
about the AHAM Verifide program is that consumers can
trust the numbers they see on the yellow energy labels because this program has
verified them. They’re not just random numbers the manufacturer has put on
there. Particularly in households that have a lot of laundry, choosing the most
energy efficient model can be the top priority,?? Ralph says.

Click here
to search for AHAM Verifide clothes washers and you can find out more about
identifying AHAM Verifide products here.