Saturday, April 12, 2014

Petsticides and Bees--Van-Kal Permaculture Native Pollinator Workshop

Today I attended an excellent Native Pollinator Workshop put on by Van-Kal Permaculture. We learned about the role native bee species play, a bit about how to identify them and how to attract them.

But I was especially struck by the talk of the impact "neonicotinoid" pesticides have on bee populations. Beyond Pesticides has a nice list of these here:

We don't often use pesticides around the home or garden, but when we do, we always try food grade Diatomaceous Earth first. D.E. is an organic alternative that is made from fossilized diotoms, a hard-shelled algae that cuts through the exoskeleton of all insects and causes them to dry out.

This powder then becomes de-activated when exposed to water.

D.E. will kill bees the same way that it kills any insect. But it only kills the one bee exposed, and it only kills in a limited area for a limited time. Using D.E. is like using a Scalpel while chemical pesticides are like dropping a bomb. Chemicals can often be blown around, dragged around, and carried back to nests and hives, killing off entire populations.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Just Paying Attention: Instant Lower Energy Bills

In February, we used about the same amount of home energy as similarly sized "efficient homes"(the top 20% most energy efficient homes) in our area (15 miles for this graphic, but it's about the same for a 2-mile radius) according to Consumers, whereas, in most months, we use about 15% less.

The reason is simple, we didn't pay much attention.

This month, I was back on track with things like closing the curtains at night, opening them on sunny days, and turning down the heat when we're away from the house, turning off lights, and warding off "energy vampires."
 Just those few steps saved us 27%, on our bill!

But more importantly, in our old Victorian home, small investments and PAYING ATTENTION saved us over $250 JUST THIS MONTH, when compared to the average home our size. 

Mind you, that average home likely has newer appliances, windows, etc.

And we generally keep our heat the space we're occupying to between 68-70 degrees, so we're not freezing or anything.

We just have a nice programmable thermostat and we use it!