Monday, May 23, 2011

Guest Post by Darin Hansen

How to get the best efficiency out of your air conditioning system this summer

When it comes time to crank up the cooling power of your ac system this summer there are some things to consider in addition to simply keeping your family comfortable! Given the state of the world and environment there is no shortage of people that are interested in getting the best efficiency out of your ac unit. While these are similar whether you are a home owner with a central air conditioning system or use a portable / window air conditioner to stave off the heat, there are some differences so I will touch them separately. Given that the average US home will spend $1,000 in cooling costs this summer it can help your pocket book significantly in addition to helping the environment.

How to improve the efficiency of your central air conditioner system

Perhaps no piece of HVAC equipment has undergone a larger improvement in efficiency in the past decade than the central air conditioner. What was common to be an 8-10 SEER unit the last time you bought an AC system, you can find units up to 20+ SEER these days. This is one way to get more cooling for your utility dollars. To be fair this would involve scrapping a unit that maybe already works, but it is a way to use less energy.

The best ways to get the most out of a central AC unit without replacing are to ensure that there is nothing stopping airflow. If you have a air filter that is more than a month old you likely need to replace it. In addition, your outdoor condenser tends to gather debris on the outside and should be cleaned with either a hose or an air compressor. Doing just these can have a significant impact on your energy usage this summer.

How to improve the efficiency of your portable or window air conditioner system

Much like a central AC system, the efficiency of newer models is much better than the older units that many have. If you have the money to spend this is a great way to lower your footprint. Again, to be fair you would be adding another unit to our landfills so it isn’t a complete win-win situation. Make sure you get R410a as the refrigerant, it is quite a bit better than the old R22 which some units still use.

Thankfully there are also ways to ensure that your portable or window unit gets more bang for its buck. With a portable system finding a way to get the exhaust air to the outside of the room your cooling is paramount. Often a hose leading outside it preferable. Another great way to conserve energy is to cool only the areas you are in at the moment. As opposed to cooling the entire house or apartment, cool only the room that you are in. With a window unit, similar to a central ac system, you need to make sure that the outside part of the AC unit is clean of debris which will sap more energy.

When it comes to staying cool and conserving energy you can see there are some ways to go about lessening your footprint on the world. Try a few this summer and reap the benefits.

Darin Hansen is an HVAC veteran who has seen just about every side of the HVAC business from web wholesaler to the manufacturing floor. You can read more about all things HVAC related on his site including a long list of HVAC reviews from just about every major manufacturer.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Vegan Recipes: Crispy Tofu Nuggets & Rainbow Deli Macaroni Salad

I love the first Friday of each month ... that's the day we discover a new recipe ... not just any recipe but one which is delicious and Eco-friendly. Eco-friendly?? Yep! The fact is that it takes less natural resources to produce one pound of plant-based food as opposed to meat-based food. Who knew that good food could also be good for the planet!

In February I introduced you to my bloggy friend, Tiffany, of
Live. Learn. Love. Eat. She thrilled us with Italian Rice and Black Bean Stuffed Peppers. Today she is graciously sharing two more recipes with us. I can't wait to try them!

Crispy Tofu Nuggets

  • 1 lb firm tofu
  • 1/2 cup non-dairy milk
  • 3 tablespoons Dijon
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 1 cup whole wheat breadcrumbs
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons dehydrated onion flakes
  • 2 teaspoons sage
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper


Preheat oven to 375F. Cut the tofu width-wise into 1/4 inch slices and then cut each slice in half to make little nuggets. In a small bowl, whisk together the milk, Dijon and nutritional yeast. In another small bowl, place the breadcrumbs, garlic powder, dehydrated onion flakes, sage, salt and pepper. Dip each nugget into the milk/Dijon mixture and then coat in the breadcrumb mixture. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes, until golden and crispy.

Rainbow Deli Macaroni Salad


  • 3/4 cup vegan mayo
  • 1/4 cup vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika

For The Salad:

  • 1 package (3 cups) whole wheat macaroni
  • 1 cup broccoli, cut into small florets
  • 2 carrots, peeled and grated
  • 1 bell pepper, diced (I used 1/2 red and 1/2 yellow)


Boil the macaroni as directed. While the macaroni is boiling, prepare the dressing by whisking all the dressing ingredients together in a large bowl. Then cut up the broccoli, dice the pepper and peel and grate the carrots. Add the vegetables to the dressing. Drain the macaroni and run under cold water to cool, then add to the large bowl with the dressing and vegetables. Stir and eat as is or refrigerate for later.

For more fabulous recipes, please visit Tiffany at Live. Learn. Love. Eat. And take a look at all of the recipes we've shared on Reduce Footprints using the tab at the top of the page or by clicking HERE.

Guten Appetit! Bon appétit!
Buon appetito! いただきます
Bom apetite! ¡Buen provecho!