Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Bruce and Betty show airs tomorrow am on 1061 the Corner

O.K. so "Show" is a strong word. But I am excited this opportunity to further Betty's mission to support your current efforts to go green and hopefully offer some new tips.

This 10 minute interview will be airing tomorrow morning at 8:45ish. This is a part of a rotating interview segment (Adrienne Young, local singer/songwriter and creator of "Backyard Revolution will be heard every other Friday) which will help further green consciousness in our community.

I will be sharing the mike with Bruce Edmonds of the Rivanna Solid Waste Authority, whom you may have heard me talk about as Betty's go-to recycling guru for answers from BWB followers when she doesn't have the slightest idea (recent example: I didn't know the Ivy MUC facility takes accepts old sinks and sells them). Don't let his gruff voice fool you. He cares about his work. (Why else would he hang out at Crutchfield's recycling event from dawn until dusk!) He's been in the recycling biz for over 20 years and really knows his stuff and he's been a big fan of Betty from the beginning.

I hope it's fun and helpful. Either way with the two of us (pretty opposite at first glance anyway, it's sure to be interesting!

Catch us on the air tomorrow morning at 8:45ish.


Monday, February 16, 2009

Home Energy 101 at CCDC

What better way to refine and BETTER my twelve-month home energy efficiency plan than by getting inspired with a community workshop given by one of my favorite people, Eric Gilchrist, the program coordinator for SPARK!! Which if you haven't heard of by now, you really are living in the dark, so to speak. SPARK! is the Charlottesville Community Design Center's initiative to help our community reduce its collective carbon footprint, increase our energy efficiency, and save some money while saving the planet!

Last week's Home Energy 101 was a wonderful primer on how to save energy and money in your home. 43% of regional carbon emissions is coming from residences. That's right. Me and you in our homes. The average person contributes 24tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere/per year/per person.

Heating and Cooling accounts for 49% of that.

So Eric recommends first you
1) collect utility bills - create a personal baseline to see how you are doing
2) Figure out your area of conditioned space
3) Plan some strategies - whether hiring a home auditor (check out under "H" for home in the Betty directory) or using a DIY version at

Now implementing some change:
*Fink the leaks and seal them tight! (around vents, windows, plumbing, fireplaces - be careful with the latter)
*Maintain - replace filters every 3 months!
*Increase insulation in attics, around your water heater! (We talked about the pros and cons of fiberglass, cellulose, denim. Ask an insulation expert, but I think we'll opt for a 12" thickness of cellulose)
*Install a programmable thermostat (My husband and I go back and forth on this one - he contends lowering and raising the thermostat takes more energy than keeping it at a consistent low temperature - we have it set at 60-62 in the winter. The choose will be made by June on my 12-month step-by-step plan) In the city, you can get up to $100 rebate!
*Replace old inefficient appliances with Energy Star appliances
*Do the little things - use CFLs, don't blow dry your hair every day of the week. Turn down the water heather thermostat to 120F degrees or the lowest setting
*Take advantage of a free water saving kit from the City or the County

Go by CCDC today and get their list of top 10 energy saving renovations and tips and start acting today! Also, check the Better World Betty events page to see when the next workshop is being held. This Wednesday at 6pm will be Home Energy Saving for Renters at CCDC.

Thanks Spark!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Two Betty-licious Moms Recycle Old Sweaters Into Onesies

These onesies are so cool and cute, you have to see them in person!

Two local Charlottesville moms just opened their own business of reusing/recycling old sweaters into onesies. Bring your old sweaters to them, or they'll find the sweaters themselves and ...Presto, Changeo... your baby is green with something other than old spit up. How can you tell? The cute green apple that is carefully stitched on.

You can now find Restitched and Recycled in the Betty business directory under "Clothing."

Way to go, Moms!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Betty's FB Debut

You have been asking for months, "Betty, why aren't you on Facebook?!"

Well, I am happy to announce as of today, Betty is on FB. Betty has taken the plunge into the collective sea of online social networking feet first, with apron attached. She doesn't know how much time away from the Earth kitchen she can spend on this time-intensive pastime (you know there is a lot of work to do, greenies), but here's to the endeavor.

Bring on the fans, bring on the friends, bring on the change and click to greener consciousness, I say!

We'll post upcoming Betty events, tv/radio/online appearances, photos, etc. on the FB page, and any additional Betty scoop. For now, think of it as more "Behind the Scenes" Betty as we contemplate ways FB can help us reach our mission: helping people go green on a day-to-day basis here in the Charlottesville area!

Hopefully the FB presence will 1) bring more awareness to Betty and the tools she offers for you at her website, tools to connect you to concrete ways of "acting local" 2) allow those interested in learning more about what Betty's cooking up in her Earth kitchen, a chance to do so (example: our mission statement you'll find in the Notes, which is too lengthy for our monthly newsletter) 3) keep Betty fresh, interesting, inspiring, and fun as you travel on your green path.

So check out Betty on Facebook


Thursday, February 5, 2009

Energy Savings... there's help on the way!

Betty has plans to incorporate a LOCAL ACTION section on the website to connect you specifically to state and federal legislation that can help you in your efforts to live more sustainably. Because who has time to keep up with all the policies, incentive programs, new tax credits, and local initiatives?

Until then Betty we'll blog about it...

Energy is front and center right now, especially since the cap rates on electricity are about to expire. Electricity in Virginia may go up as much as 18%. So it behooves all of us to conserve our energy in whatever way we can.

Which is why I hope to see you next week at the Community Design Center for another helpful workshop on energy efficiency from Spark! Energy Saving 101, Tuesday, February 10 at 6pm. Check the Betty events page for more details.

Also, here is some helpful info on Federal Tax Credits (Thanks to Better World Betty Board Member, P. Paxton Marshall, Professor, Charles L. Brown Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering,University of Virginia)

Federal Tax Credits Return for Efficiency Improvements to Homes

As you're ringing in the New Year, it might be a good time to search your home for air leaks, insufficient insulation, or heating and cooling equipment that needs updating.

That's because the start of 2009 has also revived the federal tax credits for energy efficiency improvements to homes. Although the original tax credit expired at the end of 2007, it was revived this year as part of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, which President Bush signed back in October 2008.

As noted by the Alliance to Save Energy (ASE), federal tax credits are now available for 10% of the cost of insulation, storm doors, and Energy Star-qualified "cool roofs," up to a limit of $500; for 10% of the cost of exterior windows and skylights, up to a limit of $200; for up to $300 on new high-efficiency air conditioners, heat pumps, water heaters, and corn-fueled stoves; and for up to $150 on high-efficiency furnaces and boilers. Those tax credits expire at the end of this year, but there's also a tax credit for 30% of the cost of Energy Star-qualified geothermal heat pumps, up to a limit of $2,000, and that doesn't expire until 2016. For details, see the ASE press release and tax credit Web page here

As noted by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act also extended a federal tax credit for 30% of the cost of both residential and commercial solar energy installations, while eliminating a $2,000 cap on the tax credit for residential solar electric installations. The law also established a tax credit for 30% of the cost of residential wind energy systems, fuel cells, and microturbines, with different caps on each type of system, and all of these clean energy tax credits are good through 2016. According to SEIA, the solar investment tax credit provisions will also allow filers of the Alternative Minimum Tax to still take the tax credit, although anyone planning to file for a tax credit should first seek the advice of a tax professional. See the SEIA press release and a summary of all the federal tax credits on the Energy Star Web site

Hope that helps!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Nice Betty Makeover, Rich!

The Betty in me is feeling the love today!

I don't normally delve into the details of my love-life (you're welcome), but I've got cause for celebration.

My husband/professor/scientist/expert in the field of car safety design and biomechanics just gave his transportation choice a complete Betty makeover!

Unbeknownst to me, he polled his UVA Biomechanics class last week whether he should keep his Nissan Infiniti M45 Sports Edition or trade it in for a lower emissions, ultra fuel-efficient, "sensible" VW Jetta. Of course they all voted for the Infiniti, to which he replied, "Don't you guys know - My wife is Better World Betty!"

So he came in glowing last night, inviting me to come out to the driveway to see that he is now... ta da! Betty-compliant!

He weighed all the options (bike - we live in the County, hydrogen - the infrastructure in not there yet, hybrid - the Jetta has the price beat and the emissions, fuel-efficiency comparable)

A candy-white Jetta TDI Clean Diesel, VW's Green Car of the Year, sits in our driveway to replace the gas-guzzling, sporty number he had yesterday!

From the literature, the 2009 Jetta TDI is matching the fuel efficiency of the Toyota Prius (without the limited-battery-life issue), getting upwards of 50 mph on the highway.

And diesels are not what they use to be, air-breathing lovers. The Advanced Lean Burn Technology reburns particulates resulting in virtually no particulate emissions. The TDI Jetta meets the upgraded, stringent California emission standards.

Popular Mechanics had this to say: "...The Jetta will be using emission-cleansing technologies developed under the cooperative formed by Audi, Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen to make it 50-state legal...One of the biggest environmental hurdles facing diesels, along with particulate matter—by injecting a urea-based solution into the exhaust system upstream from the catalytic converter, where NOx is then converted into nitrogen and water. The Jetta will instead use a NOx-storage catalyst, which is basically a reservoir that temporarily holds the noxious emissions, like a particulate filter, until they can be burned off during one of the engine cycles."

And an ultra-cool bonus: we are eligible for a $1,300 tax credit! Which may help with the extra we'll be paying at the pump.

So if you see a handsome biomechanics engineer zipping around in his clean diesel Jetta, give him the thumbs up. What a Better World Baldwin!


Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Here's my recycling strategy. What's yours?

This article appears in this month's issue of Abode magazine. Check it out in the stands or at

I want to share some personal home strategies for recycling with you this month. Without an efficient and easy system in place, you may be tempted to “just toss it.” A better answer is to responsibly reallocate all the stuff we humans accumulate daily and thus close the loop.

I confess it took me over a year to figure out a decent home recycling strategy when I moved to Albemarle (unless you call piling the recyclables like an artist’s depiction of the Eiffel tower a strategy). Now I have six sturdy, space-saving, stackable plastic bins. Fortunately, we have a garage; but you really only need the width of one bin, 24", and a high ceiling. If you are feeling extra Betty-like, you could take your bins to swim meets or any event where recycling isn’t currently offered. We’re human, which means we don’t walk the recyclables out to the bins every time, so we have a large canvas basket on the kitchen counter for a once-a-day trip.

We made our compost strategy contained and simple with the purchase of a large outdoor compost tumbler. In the kitchen, I hung a Simple Human container on my pantry door. We toss food waste into 3-gallon biodegradable bags, which can then be transported into the tumbler. An oversized glass cookie jar also works. Container strategies abound, but make sure it’s sealable and easily accessible.

Donate or fix it
I dedicate a closet or attic corner to items for donation. Three or four times a year, we do the recycling circuit—giving away clothing, old electronics, and toys. I’m still waiting for Charlottesville to open a cute small-appliance repair shop like my hometown had. Until then, a box in the garage is dedicated to items that need fixing, like shoe soles and belts. Finally, if I don’t know where to take it, I go to’s recycle search tool.

Now that I've shared my strategy, what's yours?