Green tips for your home
Let’s talk about “after the flush”
What happens to your waste after you flush can impact the quality of our ground and surface water. All the major waterways in Volusia County have been declared impaired for excess nutrients, and septic tank discharge was found to be a primary source. At Volusia Blue Spring in Orange City, septic tanks were determined to cause 54% of the nitrogen pollution. Volusia Blue Spring BMAP.
In May, water quality researchers Mary Lusk, Ph.D., and Andrea Albertin, Ph.D., from the University of Florida explained the basics of septic system function and maintenance.
Most existing septic systems are not designed to reduce pollution and protect waterbodies, the aquifer, springs and rivers. Drs. Lusk and Albertin discussed advanced septic system technologies designed for enhanced removal of pollutants including nitrogen.
The presentation from this workshop given on May 29, 2018, at Lyonia Environmental Center is now available. This is a large PDF; please wait for it to load. View After the Flush presentation
Help Shape our Sustainable Future Today
We can all be sustainable where we live, work and play. Use some of our tips to help you green your everyday practices
Be Energy Wise
Trim money off your monthly power bill, save energy and reduce your carbon emissions
- Try plugging the appliances you use the most, that don’t need to be on all the time, into a power strip. Even when turned “off,” appliances and electronics plugged into an outlet still use electricity. So to conserve energy, just flip the power strip to “off” when you are not home.
- Close your blinds or curtains during the day throughout the summer to keep heat out. On colder sunny days you could leave them open during the day to warm your home.
- Wash in cold water instead of warm or hot. When you use the warm or hot setting you are using almost 10x as much energy as cold washes.
- Set your water heater to 120 degrees and save between 6% and 10% on your energy bill. This setting will also prevent scalding and slow buildup of minerals in the pipes and water heater. There are more water heating tips at Energy.gov.
* According to Energy.gov, if you have suppressed immune system or chronic respiratory disease you may want to consider leaving the setting at 140 degrees. Or if your dishwasher does not have a booster setting you should probably leave the temperature at 140 degrees.
- Purchase ENERGY STAR products, which save energy. When purchasing new products look for the ENERGY STAR logo. Learn more before you buy a new appliance. Some appliances come with an Energy Guide Label. Learn more about the label, how to read it, and which appliances should come with a label. There is more information on Energy Guide labels on the Federal Trade Commission web site.
- Install Energy Star rated LEDs (light emitting diode lights) which are bright and save energy because they are more efficient than other lights. If you can’t install LEDs look for Energy Star rated CFLs (compact fluorescent bulbs), which use less energy and last longer than the old style of bulb. Residents may take their fluorescent tubes to the Household Hazardous Waste sites located at the Volusia County Landfill (Daytona Beach) or Transfer Station (DeLand) free of charge.
- Keep air conditioners at 76 degrees in Florida, according to FP&L. This should keep humidity low and mold from growing. Some new thermostats allow you to control your air conditioner and or heaters from remote locations. Ceiling fans circulating air throughout the building can help keep you comfortable without lowering the air conditioner temperature, but only use when you are home, otherwise you are wasting energy.
- For more energy efficiency tips visit the Energy.gov or EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) Pollution Prevention (P2) web sites.
Be Travel Light
Decrease your emissions, increase your fuel efficiency, and save money
- Carpool, vanpool, ride a bus, bike or walk are all great options for reducing the emissions you generate whether driving to work or running an errand. For bus information check out Votran and for general ideas on commute options available for you visit rethinkyourcommute.com.
- Shop local and support local business.
- Schedule regular auto tune ups for your car or the office fleet while maintaining the appropriate tire pressure on these vehicles can mean better mileage and reduced carbon emissions – bottom line savings! Driving 65 mph on the highway results in the best mpg when on the highway.
- Consider alternative fuels for home and work use, personal vehicles and work fleets. If you drive an alternative fuel vehicle you should check out the Volusia County Alternative Fuel Site map.
- Buy home and office products from distributors close by to reduce the carbon impact of long haul deliveries. Plan your shopping so that you use the least energy and time to get what you need for home or office.
- Ready to buy a new or used car? Check out fueleconomy.gov to see fuel efficiency ratings before you buy.
Be Water Wise
Save on water bills, landscaping maintenance and preserve natural areas
- Use low flow shower heads and faucets with timers or sensors. This will keep you on budget by reducing shower time and water usage. The federal standard flow rate for a shower head is 2.5 gallons per minute, but switching to a 2.0 flow saves about 5 gallons of water for a 10 minute shower. Look for WaterSense labeled products.
- Capture water used for rinsing dishes or showering to water plants.
- Install low flow or dual flush toilets.
- Run a dishwasher, clothes washer or dryer only when they are full loads. This can save up to 1,000 gallons of water each month.
- Consider replacing the tank style hot water system with a tank-less “on demand” style. Do some research to see what water heating option will work best for your house.
- Consider replacing (when ready) your washing machine with one that allows you to adjust cycle and load. Energy Star washers, for example, use less water and are more energy efficient than older appliances. If you are a Volusia County Water Resources customer you could qualify for a rebate. If you are not a Volusia County Water Resources customer, check your water utility provider for rebates.
- Fertilize Like a Floridian. In Florida, summer rains wash fertilizer with nitrogen and phosphorous into our lakes and rivers, damaging what makes our state so beautiful. That’s why it’s illegal in Volusia County to use fertilizer with nitrogen or phosphorous during the rainy summer, and why slow-release is required the rest of the year. For more information on fertilizing visit Be Floridian Now. If you have one, check that your landscaping company is following the ordinance.
- Design your landscape to use the existing established plants (if the plants don’t need irrigation once established and are not invasive) and when you want/need to add plants use varieties native to the area. This reduces maintenance and water use, saving time and cash. For resources on landscaping projects visit Florida’s Water.
- Follow local watering restrictions, water only when needed, and make sure you have a rain gage added to automatic sprinkler systems and make sure you reduce watering during rainy periods.
- Capture rainwater in rain barrels to water plants. Make sure you screen your rain barrel, or if you use containers other than a rain barrel don’t let water “stand” as this creates mosquito breeding habitat.
Be an Environmental Champion
Enjoy spending time in some of our natural places. Get involved through volunteering and encourage others to work together to preserve our natural places
- Learn more by checking out conservation programs, such as Volusia Forever, which preserve native habitats for future generations. Programs like Volusia Forever are great sources of information and can help you learn more about our environment and how to protect it. You can also check out the Volusia County Environmental Management web site for Land Management.
- Participate in one of the Explore Volusia education programs. Look into Visiting local preserves and parks to increase awareness and appreciation of these resources.
- Be knowledgeable on environmental issues and projects in your area. Participate in solutions through volunteering with Volunteer Volusia!
- Use IPM (Integrated Pest Management) techniques and stop or reduce your use of herbicides and pesticides so native wildlife can thrive. Use the EPA simple steps to pest control.
- Check to see if the new plant for your garden is native to Florida and your area. This will help our environment as well as create less work for you, because native plants generally require less maintenance and water. Check the Florida Native Plant Society and St. Johns River Water Management District for native plant ideas.
Be the team
Help create a healthy community
- Find ways to stay active. Sports Volusia is a great way to get involved in sports.
- Use the County’s Parks and Trails app to find places to visit. It’s also a great way to meet people within your community.
- Try volunteering for one of the many Volunteer Volusia programs. Check out Volusia County Environmental Management’s Get Involved page.
- Help maintain or even start a community garden in your area. Community gardens are a great way to interact with people in your community, make good use of the land, and provide a source of healthy food and of beauty. For more information about community gardens check out the American Community Garden Association.
- Check out local farmers markets in Volusia County to shop for fresh produce that is in season, get some exercise and maybe meet some other people in your community.
Be Waste Aware
Save costly landfill space and the need to develop more waste processing facilities
- Reduce, reuse/repurpose, and recycle as much as you can wherever you are.
- Look for sustainable products when you purchase supplies for work or home.
- Set your printer to automatically default to print double side and use black in only. Recycle ink cartridges – check with your supplier for opportunities. For information visit Sustainable Materials Management (SMM) Electronic Challenge.
- Check with your waste collection service or your city or county recycling manager for recycling opportunities. You likely can recycle more than you know!
- Start using reusable cups, plates, utensils instead of throw-away types. Donate to charitable organizations, thrift stores and artists that repurpose goods. Remember old construction materials are accepted at second hand stores as well.
- Shop second hand stores and repair/restore items before buying new.
- Plan meals to create additional meals with leftovers.
- Discuss recycling with others at home and work on how you can reduce, reuse, and recycle more.
- Try composting your leftover perishables. Check local ordinances and, as applicable, check with your HOA for any composting requirements. Check out how to compost at home.
Be the Connection
Support your local economy and live healthier
- Visit one of the local farmers markets in Volusia County to purchase produce.
- You can shop local and purchase products and services manufactured or provided locally.
- Support green businesses by looking for labels that indicate use of recycled material, reduced energy and/or water consumption, or any other green practices. Ask stores what they do in their operations that are green.
- Explore your local area. Look for ECHO (Ecological, Cultural, Heritage, and Outdoors) opportunities that you have not experienced and plan a day trip.
Be in Sustainable Shape
…at home, work, and play!