Try Composting

Do-it-yourself soil! Composting is a simple and satisfying way to give back to the environment and to cut down on your garbage collection bill. Here’s how to do it:

BIN. Construct a bin for your compost. There’s no right or wrong bin, but a lid might be beneficial for those with frisky raccoons, opossums, or close neighbors. Bins also help regulate moisture and temperature.

BALANCING. Fill bin with a balanced mixture of “green stuff” (carbon) and “brown stuff” (nitrogen). This activates the heat process and encourages aerobic (air dependent) bacteria growth. You’ll want a working balance between the two.

     *Brown stuff is high in carbon and serves as the fiber for your compost and also allows for more porosity in your heap (make sure your organisms can breath!). You should aim for 2/3 carbon and 1/3 nitrogen.

     *Green stuff provides materials for making enzymes and should be used in moderation. If your compost takes on a sour or vinegary odor, add more carbon and turn it for aeration.

WATER. Your heap should be about as damp as a cloth that has been wrung out. If your pile gets too wet it may not be able to breath. If it’s too dry, add some good ‘ol H2O.

TEMPERATURE. An indication of microbial activity is all in the temperature. Your aim is to have a steaming hot heap of compost. If your pile is not steaming the microbial activity has slowed, add more nitrogen.

AIR. Turn your compost pile about once or twice a week for proper aeration. You can do this by sifting through it with a pitchfork, dumping it out and putting it back in the bin, or simply turning it with a handle if you have a store-bought compost bin. 

HARVESTING. Spread your new compost into your garden. CAUTION – fresh compost can rob the soil of nitrogen as it continues to break down. It’s best to wait a few weeks before planting anything in it. 

TIPS:

*Break up large clumps. These clumps can start to decompose anaerobically (not air dependent), which is slow and smelly. You want your compost to decompose aerobically (air dependent), which is faster and sweet smelling.

*Avoid pesticide and/or herbicide-treated material. 

*If your compost heap is smelly add carbon, turn it, and break up clumps. Add lime or saw dust to the top to mask odor.

*DO NOT add bones, meat, oil/fat, synthetic fibers, plastic, disposable diapers, diseased plants, glossy paper, coal/coke ash, cat litter, dairy, carnivorous/omnivorous manure, bread, or nuts. These items can become slimy and slow decomposition. It’s best to just toss these into your garden or under a tree (away from a road). Your back yard critters will discover them quickly. 

*DO USE fruit, veggies, eggshells, leaves, lawn clippings, small branches, straw/hay, pine needles (use sparingly due to high acidity), flowers, wood ash, coffee grounds (and filter), tea bags (with filter), newspaper, shredded paper (no colored inks), cardboard, dryer lint.

For more information check out http://eartheasy.com/grow_compost.htmlImage

Join the E-power® Army of Savers

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Existing programs, rebates in place through May; new savings incentives start June 1

If you could hand out the kilowatt-hours of electricity saved by PPL Electric Utilities customers through the end of 2012 with the help of the company’s E-power® programs, each person in the United States would get four.

If they were miles, they would circle Earth more than 52,000 times.

As of the end of 2012, PPL Electric Utilities customers who’ve used E-power programs or services since they debuted in 2009 have reached a collective annual electric savings of 1.3 billion kilowatt-hours. They’ve received more than $112 million in rebates and incentives.

Current E-power programs are in effect through May and will be replaced by a new edition of programs, currently under review by the state Public Utility Commission, which are scheduled to begin in June and be in place for the next three years.

 “Customers who haven’t taken advantage of these opportunities should give them a look,” said Thomas C. Stathos, director of Customer Programs and Services for the utility. “Current rebates and incentives, some of which are retroactive to July 1, 2009, will expire when the new slate of E-power programs starts in June 2013.”

For more information on current programs, visit http://www.pplelectric.com and select “Rebate and Incentive Programs” under Save Energy & Money. To view what programs, services and incentives the utility is proposing for the next phase of its E-power programs, check out the Act 129 Phase II plan by selecting “For Act 129 Stakeholders,” also under Save Energy & Money.

“The beauty of energy efficiency is that it’s not a once-and-done exercise. Making changes now — like investing in more energy-efficient appliances, replacing inefficient lighting, and more — provides savings for years to come,” Stathos said.

PPL Electric Utilities has a long history of helping its customers become more energy efficient, a legacy that predates Act 129, Pennsylvania’s energy efficiency and conservation law.

“We’ve always been customer-centered,” Stathos said. “Energy efficiency and conservation has been and continues to be part of who we are. It’s something we believe in and something we want to help customers achieve.”

PPL Electric Utilities Corporation, a subsidiary of PPL Corporation that provides electricity delivery services to about 1.4 million customers in Pennsylvania, consistently ranks among the best companies for customer service in the United States. More information is available at www.pplelectric.com.