It’s the “grill battle”!… propane vs. charcoal

grll prpaneThis coming Memorial Day weekend always seems to be the kickoff of grilling season in my neighborhood.  It’s the aroma that indicates that summer is on its way.  While some of you may be lucky enough to grill all year long, we’re just getting started… and once we get started, it doesn’t end until the snow flies. (It’s also a time for me to share cooking duties with my husband… BONUS!)

We’ve always owned a propane grill and never, ever, go the route of charcoal or (perish the thought!) lighter fluid!  (EEK!)

To me, the propane choice seems like a no-brainer, but is it really?

Take a look at the facts:

  • Overall, propane grilling creates a smaller carbon footprint than charcoal grilling, by about a third.  (win: propane)
  • Charcoal comes from renewable resources, but propane does not.  It comes from non-renewable fossil fuels. (win: charcoal)
  • Carbon monoxide levels from charcoal grilling can be as high as 105 times as much as propane grilling.  (BIG win: propane)
  • The “burn time” for propane is much less than charcoal.  It only needs to be “on” when you need it.  Charcoagrll chrcoall must burn until coals are hot and then you need to wait until it burns out before the cycle is done, and it creates gasses all the while.  (win: propane)
  • Charcoal often travels a far, far distance (and creates extra emissions) before it even reaches your grill, but “not so” with propane… it’s most likely local. Plus, producing charcoal creates even more emissions than actually burning it!  (win: propane)
  • Lighter fluid for charcoal is a petroleum distillate that emits volatile organic compounds (VOCs) when burned.  (win: propane)

So, I’d say we’ve been making the right decision, especially with that last VOC issue!  But just remember that what you toss on the grill matters too – preferably local organic meats and veggies!  And when it’s time for clean-up, baking soda and warm water does wonders too!

Now, fire up that grill and let’s get the cookout underway! (My family will be right over!…)

MGG’s energy efficient investment: new windows!

So, we did it!  We made our first major energy efficiency investment by purchasing new windows for our home… and despite having spent some cash, I’m actually very excited.

ht escapeHome heating can account for approximately 27% of our carbon footprint and 25% of a  home’s heat escapes through windows… pretty significant, I’d say.  Our installation technician told us that he’s had customers that literally saved half on their home heating bill after installing new windows.  Sure, the windows that had to be replaced were probably a disaster(!) but I’m excited to see what kind of savings are in store for us.  It’s hard to forget that heating bill of $533 not so long ago.windows

We always put the most productive heating and cooling tips in place, (for my best home cooling tips click here or my best home heating tips click here) but I believe this is the final significant step of putting it all into place. The windows are Energy Star, Argon-filled, Double Glazed Low E glass and although those are a lot of fancy-schmancy terms, their combined definition is “efficiency!”

tx creditWith the tax credit we’ll receive and projected annual heating and cooling savings, I’ve figured that the windows should pay for themselves in about five years.   In addition, we purchased from a local owned and operated manufacturer so a minimal footprint was created to get those windows as well. I’m feeling mighty green today!

So, have you ever made a major replacement to “conserve”? What was the result? I’d love to know!

Facts of the “burning” (grill) question: propane vs. charcoal

grll prpaneDinnertime at my house over the summer months gets dramatically easier, because much of the cooking is done via the grill, so it means I can pass along some duties to my husband who proudly takes the roll of “Captain BBQ”!

We’ve always owned a propane grill and never, ever go the route of charcoal or (perish the thought!) lighter fluid!  (EEK!)

To me, the propane choice seems like a no-brainer, but is it really? 

Take a look at the facts:

  • Overall, propane grilling creates a smaller carbon footprint than charcoal grilling, by about a third.  (win: propane)
  • Charcoal comes from renewable resources, but propane does not.  It comes from non-renewable fossil fuels. (win: charcoal)
  • Carbon monoxide levels from charcoal grilling can be as high as 105 times as much as propane grilling.  (BIG win: propane)
  • The “burn time” for propane is much less than charcoal.  It only needs to be “on” when you need it.  Charcoal must burn until coals are hot and then you need to wait until it burns out before the cycle is done, and it creates gasses all the while.  (win: propane)grll chrcoal
  • Charcoal often travels a far, far distance (and creates extra emissions) before it even reaches your grill, but “not so” with propane… it’s most likely local. Plus, producing charcoal creates even more emissions than actually burning it!  (win: propane)
  • Lighter fluid for charcoal is a petroleum distillate that emits volatile organic compounds (VOCs) when burned.  (win: propane)

So, I’d say we’ve been making the right decision, especially with that last VOC issue!  But just remember that what you toss on the grill matters too – preferably local organic meats and veggies!  And when it’s time for clean-up, baking soda and warm water does wonders too!

Now, fire up that grill and let’s get the cookout underway! (I’ll be right over!…)

How big is YOUR carbon footprint?

carbon ftprntUntil a few years ago, the term “carbon footprint” was absolutely foreign to me.  In all honesty, I had no real sense of what it meant… just a very vague understanding that it had something to do with global warming and climate change.

If you still don’t have a true sense of what it means, here’s a quick and simple definition:

Carbon Footprint – the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) produced by your daily activities and use of material goods.  Used to determine your personal participation in global warming.

Eww.  That makes it sound so villainous!… my “participation in global warming”…

So, have you ever wondered about your footprint?  I’ve ALWAYS wondered.  The Global Footprint Network has a fun little calculator (if discovering how horribly we’re impacting our planet can actually be fun!) and it probably told me more than I wanted to know.  Answering some basic questions about my daily lifestyle alerted me to the fact that if everyone lived like me, it would take 3.5 planets to provide enough resources to support us. Ouch.  Although it doesn’t tell you how you rank, I’m sure I’m below average, but still… ouch!

There is also a great calculator for kids at Zero Footprint.  My kids scored fantastic, and far below average, so at least I’m doing something right!

Well, come’on!  How did you fare?… Baby footprint?  Gargantuan footprint?  Take the quiz, and fess-up… if you dare…