Eco Minute

Producer and Host
Dr. Enid Sisskin received her PhD from Columbia University in Pathobiology. She has worked as an environmental activist for more than 20 years. She is currently on the faculty of the School of Allied Health and Life Sciences at the University of West Florida. She is the creator of the Eco Minute and has produced & hosted the series since 2005. Her interests include continuing to garden despite yearly failures and she continues to work for environmental protection with her husband and children.

Click on the dates below to listen to each Eco Minute.

The State of Florida has great potential for clean energy from solar panels on rooftops, but there’s one thing holding that back more than any other. This is the Ecominute and I’m Christian Wagley.  In states where solar panels are common, one reason is what’s called solar leasing. That’s where a company installs solar panels on your roof at no cost to you, in return for a lease in which they sell power back to you at a fixed rate. FL is one of only four states that specifically prohibit these third party sales of electricity.

Should you use air conditioning or open your windows?   Keeping windows open when traveling at highway speeds causes air drag, reducing your mileage by 10%. According to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection although auto air conditioners also reduce fuel economy, when driving over 40 mph, using the air conditioner uses less fuel than having open windows.

Since supplies of oil and natural gas are finite, renewable energy from the wind and sun is our inevitable future, and the transition to a clean energy economy is well underway. This is the Ecominute and I’m Christian Wagley.  Every year the United States adds new electricity capacity, and in 2014 that new capacity was historic. Last year more new capacity came from solar and wind—53 percent—than from fossil fuels. This is a clear sign that more renewables are coming.

Depending on where you live, anywhere from 30 - 70% of residential water is used for outdoor use, such as lawn and landscape irrigation. This is the EM and I’m ES.  According to the EPA, some experts estimate that more than 50 percent of commercial and residential irrigation water use goes to waste due to evaporation, wind, improper system design, or overwatering.  One way you can prevent that is by changing from lawn sprinklers to a drip irrigation system – which allows the controlled application of water at a very low flow over a prolonged period.

Why move a four thousand pound vehicle when we only need to move a 150 lb person?  This is the Ecominute and I’m Christian Wagley.  The Worldwatch Institute did an assessment of how much energy we use to get around. Cars came out the worst, needing a whopping 1,860 calories of energy to move a person one mile. Trains use about half as much, but the big winners were old-fashioned people-power.  A person walking needs about 100 calories of energy to go one mile. And the most efficient choice of all by far?

Homes use a lot of energy, and their location can have a big impact on how much.  This is the Ecominute and I’m Christian Wagley.  For the past 70 years the majority of American homes have been built in suburban locations, where they are separated from shops and offices and the automobile is the only easy way to get-around. A major US EPA study looking at housing and location. The research found that when a detached home in the suburbs is compared to the same home in an urban, transit oriented location, where bus or train service is easily available, its energy use drops by nearly 40%.

Don’t waste energy and money heating the water in your pipes.  When you need to use only a little water, such as when you rinse a dish or your hands, use cold water.  It can take several minutes and several gallons of water running through the pipes before the water at the sink is warm and by that time, you’ll likely be finished.  What you end up doing is running a little hot water into the pipes where it will just get cold, and depleting the tank of a little hot water which will then be replaced by cold water which then needs to be heated.

Living in a space that’s just the size you need can save energy and money. This is the Ecominute and I’m Christian Wagley.  The average new home today is over 2500 square feet, with three times more space per person than 60 years ago. But all those extra—and sometimes little used rooms--need lots of extra energy for heating, cooling, and lighting. One study by the State of Oregon found that if a family moved from a 1600 square foot home into a 2200 square foot home, the only way to keep energy use the same was to invest in expensive energy-saving features.

If you do use a clothes dryer, try to minimize the amount of energy you use.  Separate your wet laundry by weight.  Dry towels and heavier cottons separately from lighter-weight clothes.  Don't over-dry your clothes. If your machine has a moisture sensor, use it, if you’re in the market for a new dryer; consider buying one with a moisture sensor that automatically shuts off the machine when your clothes are dry.

Hanging your laundry on a clothesline will save a lot of energy.  The clothes dryer is one of the biggest energy users in your home, using anywhere from 6 – 10% of home energy use, coming in just after refrigerators and washing your clothes in hot water.  Hanging your clothes on a line instead of using the clothes dryer saves energy, money, wear and tear on your clothes, can connect you to the outdoors and might even help you meet your neighbors.  You say you live in a local subdivision and your homeowner’s association claims the covenants prohibit this?  Tell them that Florida has had a “