Days following the Full Moon
The Waning (or Decreasing) Moon
The Disseminating Moon
The Waning Moon Half Moon or Last Quarter Moon
The Balsamic or Waning Crescent Moon
The Moon Void of Course
Dog Safety Tips for Fourth of July
While we might associate the thump and boom of fireworks with festivity and a great display, many of our canine companions are completely freaked out by Fourth of July noises. Some dogs cower and shiver, some panic and try to escape from their homes.
We checked in with the The Humane Society to gather some advice for the pooches, here’s what they had to offer:
1. Resist the urge to take your pet to fireworks displays.
2. Do not leave your pet in the car. With only hot air to breathe inside a car, your pet can suffer serious health effects–even death–in a few short minutes. Partially opened windows do not provide sufficient air, but they do provide an opportunity for your pet to be stolen.
3. Keep your pets indoors at home in a sheltered, quiet area. Some animals can become destructive when frightened, so be sure that you’ve removed any items that your pet could destroy or that would be harmful to your pet if chewed. Leave a television or radio playing at normal volume to keep him company while you’re attending Fourth of July picnics, parades, and other celebrations.
4. If you know that your pet is seriously distressed by loud noises like thunder, consult with your veterinarian before July 4th for ways to help alleviate the fear and anxiety he or she will experience during fireworks displays.
Top 4 Things That Interfere With Central AC
By Carl Seville, Networx
Plenty of people who run central air conditioning systems in Houston (and other cities where hot weather dominates the calendar) complain about how their air conditioning doesn’t do a good job keeping their home comfortable, and, in most cases, they are probably right. There are so many things that can and do go wrong with central HVAC systems that it’s tough to know where to start, but I’ll give it a shot.
1. Leaky ducts
Probably the single biggest cause of poor AC performance is leaky ducts. Ducts are kind of like pipes – they move air through them and deliver it at the end. We notice when our water pipes leak because we see the damage immediately, but we rarely see the effects of leaky ducts directly; rather it sneaks up on us over a long period of time, and many people never figure it out. When ducts leak, they let cool air out into whatever space they are in, often the attic, which, in case you haven’t noticed, can get pretty hot in the summer. Ducts need to be sealed at all the metal-to-metal and metal-to-flex connections – not at the insulation. Have someone pull back all the insulation and put a nice thick layer of goopy mastic at all the joints, then replace the insulation. Don’t use duct tape. It won’t work, and the metal tape designed for ducts doesn’t do a whole lot better.
2. Too much or too little refrigerant charge
Something else that can make your AC inefficient is the refrigerant charge. Traditional AC uses a refrigerant that transfers the heat between the inside and the outside. Every system is designed to work efficiently with a specific amount of refrigerant, and too often there is either too much or too little in the system. A good HVAC contractor can check the charge and either add or remove some to make sure it is set correctly. A wrong charge can decrease the efficiency by 20-30%, so checking and fixing this can make a big difference.
3. Installing the wrong filter
Make sure you have the right filter installed. Most HVAC systems were designed to use one of those cheap fiberglass filters to clean the air. Unfortunately, they don’t do a very good job at it, so many people go to their local hardware or big-box store and buy a super-duper high efficiency pleated paper filter GUARANTEED to keep their air cleaner. It might actually keep the air cleaner, but it also cuts down on the air flow, making the whole system less efficient. They can make the cooling coils freeze, creating even bigger problems. If you really need a good filter, first seal the ducts to keep the air in and the nasty stuff out, then get a 6 inch thick pleated filter which fits into a special cabinet which your HVAC contractor can install for you. They do a good job filtering the air and don’t cause the same problems with the air flow.
4. Not enough return ducts
The last thing I’m going to talk about is return ducts. Lots of HVAC systems are installed with a single, large return somewhere in the middle of the house. Each room has its own supply, but the air is supposed to, sort of magically, slide under the door and get back to the big return duct to be cooled again. The problem is that the space under the door usually isn’t big enough, so the air doesn’t flow through the whole house well enough to keep things evenly cooled. Some rooms are hot, some are cold, and none are just right. Consider having an HVAC contractor add some extra return ducts in bedrooms and other rooms with doors (except for bathrooms) to give you better air flow and increased comfort.
Notice that I haven’t said anything about equipment efficiency. That’s what the manufacturers and installers talk about, because they can make a lot of money selling you fancy, expensive air conditioners that are super efficient. The problem is, if you put one of those on a system that is otherwise pretty crappy, you have wasted most of the super-duper efficiency you paid for. Take care of the more boring, tedious, and important things like these first, before you install new equipment. You’ll be much happier, and more comfortable. Then when you want to put in that super duper equipment, you’ll have a really good HVAC system.
10 Most Polluted Cities in the U.S.
By Brian Merchant, TreeHugger
There’s a pretty good chance you live in a city with air that’s so polluted it’s often unhealthy to breathe. Yes, you. Forty-one percent of Americans do. That’s 127 million people. That’s way too many.
The American Lung Association just released its annual ‘State of the Air’ report, which breaks down the most polluted cities in the nation. As usual, most of them can be found in California’s Central Valley. Here are the three different ‘top ten’ lists, according to the different kinds of pollution:
Cities with the Most Year-Round Particulate Pollution
#1: Bakersfield-Delano, CA
#2: Hanford-Corcoran, CA
#3: Los Angeles-Long Beach-Riverside, CA
#4: Visalia-Porterville, CA
#5: Fresno-Madera, CA
#6: Pittsburgh-New Castle, PA
#7: Phoenix-Mesa-Glendale, AZ
#8: Cincinnati-Middletown-Wilmington, OH-KY-IN
#9: Louisville-Jefferson County-Elizabethtown-Scottsburg, KY-IN
#10: Philadelphia-Camden-Vineland, PA-NJ-DE-MD
#10 (It’s a tie!): St. Louis-St. Charles-Farmington, MO-IL
Cities with the Most Short-Term Particulate Pollution
#1: Bakersfield-Delano, CA
#2: Fresno-Madera, CA
#3: Hanford-Corcoran, CA
#4: Los Angeles-Long Beach-Riverside, CA
#5: Modesto, CA
#6: Pittsburgh-New Castle, PA
#7: Salt Lake City-Ogden-Clearfield, UT
#8: Logan, UT-ID
#9: Fairbanks, AK
#10: Merced, CA
Cities with the Most Ozone Pollution
#1: Los Angeles-Long Beach-Riverside, CA
#2: Visalia-Porterville, CA
#3: Bakersfield-Delano, CA
#4: Fresno-Madera, CA
#5: Hanford-Corcoran, CA
#6: Sacramento–Arden-Arcade–Yuba City, CA-NV
#7: San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marcos, CA
#8: Houston-Baytown-Huntsville, TX
#9: San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles, CA
#10: Merced, CA
Hey, strong showing in all three by Bakersfield, L.A., and Hanford-Corcoran—nice work fellas; way to hustle.
If you’re looking for a silver lining in a report as inherently depressing as this one, at least there’s this: 22 of the 25 most polluted cities showed signs of improvement from last year’s report. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why we need tough air quality standards and plans to reduce traffic congestion—they work!—and we need them to keep getting stricter and more progressive, until 41 percent of the country isn’t breathing polluted air.
14 Ways to Keep Cool in Your Home Without Air Conditioning
Here in the South, the weather has definitely taken a turn toward the sweltering. There have been some unseasonably warm days already, with highs in the 90s, and the temptation to flick the switch on that A/C unit to “on” is very strong. Before using the air conditioner, consider this: home cooling accounts for 5 percent of the energy we consume in the U.S. each year. That’s about 140 million tons of CO2 emissions annually! Here are some ways to fight that urge by keeping your house cooler naturally.
1. Keep the shades drawn during the day. When sunlight streams through the windows, it creates a miniature greenhouse effect in your home.
2. Reflect the heat. If you do want to open the windows, consider investing in some reflective window film to help keep the heat outside where you want it to be.
3. Let the cool evening air in. If temperatures are on the chilly side after the sun goes down, crack a few windows open to let a breeze come through and cool the house. Just be sure to close them before the temperature starts to rise again!
4. Insulate! You want to keep cool air inside, so grab that caulk gun and seal off anywhere that air might be escaping. A handy draft dodger can help seal up those tricky leaks at the bottoms of doors and windows.
5. Get rid of incandescent lights. Not only do those suckers use more energy, they generate a lot more heat than CFL or LED light bulbs.
6. Make sure your ceiling fans are running counter clockwise. Most modern fans will have a little switch on the side to reverse their direction. You want the fan to go clockwise in winter to push warm air down and reverse it in the summer to circulate cool air.
7. Drink icy beverages. This one seems like a no-brainer, but it still bears mentioning. What better way to beat the heat than to cool your body from the inside out?
8. Dress appropriately. Loose-fitting, light clothing goes a long way toward keeping you cool. It’s time to bust out those organic cotton shorts and tank tops!
9. Grab a towel. A towel soaked in cold water is a great way to cool down. Apply it to your neck, wrists, and forehead for some relief during the hottest part of the day.
10. Avoid the stove and oven. Both of these will add unnecessary heat to the house. Instead, fire up that outdoor grill or whip up a salad or sandwich. Your rice cooker, slow cooker, and pressure cooker are other alternatives to heating up the house with the stove or oven.
11. Try a buckwheat pillow. If the heat is preventing you from sleeping, switching to a buckwheat pillow can make a big difference, since buckwheat doesn’t hold on to your body heat like conventional pillows do.
12. Learn from your pets. How does your cat cope with the hottest part of the day? She snoozes! If you can squeeze in an afternoon nap, go for it.
13. Chill out. Turn on your table fan and stick a frozen bottle of water in front of it to get some cold air circulating.
14. Plant a tree. If you can, plant trees on the side of your house that gets the most sun. The extra shade will protect your home from the sun’s rays.
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