Energy-efficient homes under the spotlight

How energy-efficient is your home? The following report has been compiled by cost-effective secondary glazing suppliers The Plastic People and could see you finding many ways to make your property greener — saving money in the process.

Key insights from English Housing Survey: Energy Efficiency of English Housing

The English Housing Survey is a nationwide survey which looks at people’s housing circumstances and the condition and energy efficiency of housing in England.

Here’s an analysis of the key findings of the most recent English Housing Survey: Energy Efficiency of English Housing (using statistics gathered in 2012):

  • The following is the mean SAP (standing for Standard Assessment Procedure) rating for all dwellings in England, whereby a rating of 1 on a scale of 1-100 means poor energy efficiency (and thus high costs) and a rating of 100 is a completely energy-efficient dwelling (and zero net energy costs per year as a result):
Type of dwelling Sample size Mean SAP
Small terraced 1,323 58.6
Medium/large terraced 2,356 58.8
Semi-detached 2,985 56.9
Detached 1,506 55.9
Bungalow 1,189 54.6
Converted flat 476 53.7
Purpose-built, low-rise flat 2,550 66.7
Purpose-built, high-rise flat 378 68.0

 

Age of dwelling Sample size Mean SAP
Pre 1919 2,109 50.3
1919-44 1,936 54.7
1945-64 3,044 58.8
1965-80 2,904 60.1
1981-90 1,096 62.5
Post 1990 1,674 69.3

 

  • The following is the mean SAP rating for all dwellings in England, when certain heating and insulation characteristics are taken into account:
Heating & insulation characteristic Sample size Mean SAP
Central heating 11,482 59.2
Storage heating 972 59.0
Fixed room heating 309 33.9
Standard boiler (i.e. floor or wall variety) 2,683 54.2
Back boiler (i.e. to fire or stove) 584 49.4
Combination heater 2,057 57.7
Condensing heater 1,377 63.0
Condensing-combination heater 4,397 63.4
Gas-fired system 10,672 59.6
Oil-fired system 367 49.4
Solid fuel-fired system 91 31.5
Electrical system 1,246 52.9
No loft insulation 231 40.4
Loft insulation of less than 100mm 1,409 54.0
Loft insulation of between 100 and 150mm 2,220 56.5
Loft insulation of 150mm or more 5,712 60.1
Cavity insulated walls 5,415 63.7
Post-1990 walls with no CWI evidence 636 66.0
Cavity uninsulated walls 2,965 56.0

 

Key recommendations from the Energy Performance Certificate

All would-be buyers or tenants will receive an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). This is a guide which illustrates how efficiently a home uses energy and the cost of running it.

They are also recommendations found on each EPC which details how to make a property more energy efficient. Advice includes:

  • Increasing loft insulation to 270mm. While the indicative cost may be between £100 and £350, the typical savings per year can be up to £47 once installed.
  • Fitting cavity wall insulation around the home. While the indicative cost may be between £500 and £1,500, the typical savings per year can be up to £179 once installed.
  • Draught proof your home. While the indicative cost may be between £80 and £120, the typical savings per year can be up to £29 once the improvement has been made.
  • Use low energy lighting units for all fixed outlets around a home. While this can typically cost £50, the typical savings per year can work out at up to £43.
  • Replace the home’s current boiler with a new condensing boiler. While the indicative cost may be between £2,200 and £3,000, the typical savings per year can be up to £339 once the replacement has been made.

Key insights from Sustainable Homes’ Touching The Voids report

In the summer of 2016, UK-GBC member Sustainable Homes released its Touching The Voids report. The study focused on the potential for more energy-efficient homes to be able to provide cost savings and increased income in unexpected areas like rent arrears and reduced voids, where properties lie empty.

Here’s the standout findings from the report:

  • As homes become more energy efficient, they become void for a shorter length of time. This statement is backed up from this analysis of more than 30,000 properties between June 2013 and June 2015:

 

SAP rating Average number of void days
34 and under 80.7
35-39 76.0
40-44 69.9
45-49 69.8
50-54 59.8
55-59 56.3
60-64 55.7
65-69 53.2
70-74 54.5
75-79 55.3
80-84 48.8
85 and above 31.2

 

  • Landlords whose housing stock had an average SAP of between 66 and 68 typically had a void operational cost of between £200 and £400 per home managed. In contrast, landlords whose housing stock had an average SAP of between 73 and 75 typically had a void operational cost of between £50 and £150 per home managed.

A look at an American homeowner’s perspective on the value of a green home report

What are our attitudes to energy-efficient homes like compared to our neighbours from across the Atlantic Ocean? The Homeowner’s Perspective: The Value of a Green Home report, which was put together in 2013 by GuildQuality, North America’s leading provider of customer satisfaction surveying for the building industry, aims to find out.

Here’s the key insights that can be taken from the study:

  • 94 per cent of respondents agreed that they would be likely to recommend a green home to either a friend or family member.
  • 70 per cent of respondents strongly agreed that they were satisfied with the green features of their home. A further 25 per cent went with agreed when posed with the same query.
  • 90 per cent of respondents gained satisfaction in knowing that they had done the right thing in purchasing a green home.
  • 77 per cent of respondents said that they like to tell other people about the green features of their home.
  • 39 per cent of respondents strongly agreed that owning a green home was important to them when they began their search for a new home. A further 31 per cent went with agreed when posed with the same query.
  • 71 per cent of respondents believed that green homes are of a higher quality overall.
  • 86 per cent of respondents believed that green homes were subjected to lower utility bills than non-green home.
  • 92 per cent of respondents believed that green homes maintained more consistent temperatures than non-green homes.

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Posted by Eco Warrior - July 15, 2017 at 2:38 pm

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Energy Saving Checklist

If your business has been waiting to see if the “green” movement would fade before doing something about your energy consumption, you’re too late. Energy efficiency has been embraced by businesses around the world as more than just a feel-good PR exercise. As it turns out, saving energy and operating more efficient commercial buildings is good for the bottom line, as well. Conserving energy has become even more important today as businesses try to widen their profit margins and trim unnecessary costs anywhere they might exist.

As consumers of nearly one-fifth of all the energy used in the United States, commercial buildings certainly represent an opportunity for greater efficiency. Businesses have started to come around on the idea that the less energy their offices and other properties waste, the more money they save and the more efficient their entire operations become. That means the more energy efficient a business becomes, the more competitive it is in the marketplace.

Although many businesses have grabbed headlines by making significant investments in energy efficiency — such as building their own solar farms or windmills — your business doesn’t have to make such a huge commitment. In fact, many of the factors that can have a big impact on energy efficiency are small changes in everyday habits.  What’s more, many of those changes can be done through automation. For example, putting interior lights on a timer or motion sensor can cut down on the amount of time they’re on when no one is in the room, saving energy and money. Using the power-saving mode on computers and other office equipment — if not unplugging them completely when not in use — is another easy way to reduce unnecessary energy consumption.

The following checklist of energy-saving ideas can help you and your business become more energy efficient and save you money in the long run. You may have been waiting for “green” thinking to fade, but there’s no reason to wait on reducing your energy usage.


Author bio: Steve Fountaine is the Owner of Premiere Works, which serves the Washington, D.C., southern Maryland and northern Virginia areas. Services include commercial painting, construction, contracting, build-outs, office renovations and more. 

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Posted by Eco Warrior - July 15, 2017 at 1:05 pm

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How laser labelling is changing the market for food retailers

Increasing pressures on food retailers to reduce the amount of packaging used for their products is having a significant impact on the market as a whole, as changing customer expectations and the shift to more eco-friendly methods is continuing to influence the way supermarkets and other retailers operate.

Laser labelling has emerged as a relatively new way of marking fruit without the need for the production of adhesive labels, which are wasted in their tonnes each year. Marks & Spencer has become the latest brand to announce plans to ditch more traditional methods in favour of the more environmentally friendly approach to food labelling.

The brand has said it will save up to 10 tonnes of paper and five tonnes of glue every year as part of its new plans to label avocados with lasers rather than stickers following a successful trial. The high street retailer has confirmed it could start rolling out this new method to other fruits and vegetables in the near future. The labelling works by shining an intense light on to the skin of the avocado, which then retracts and discolours only the top layer of the skin, meaning the fruit itself is not damaged.

However, some fruits – such as citrus fruits – are difficult to mark with a laser. M&S trialled a similar laser technique several years ago using citrus fruits and a different technology, and while it looked effective and was quick to apply, there was a slight deterioration in skin quality, and the method was therefore discontinued.

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Other retailers, such as the Dutch fruit and vegetable supplier “Nature and More” and Swedish supermarket ICA also use the laser labelling system. As more retailers start to use this type of labelling, the current high cost of the machinery is likely to fall, which could further encourage the use of this system by mid-sized retailers.

So what is the driving force behind the rise of more eco-friendly packaging initiatives among food retailers? The first is delivery of customer’s expectations, while also removing costs from packaging materials, and the in-store cost from waste removal. Retailers are mainly reducing packaging by reducing the thickness of materials used, as well as utilising film-wrapped trays instead of boxes for many products.

Another method currently being used by many manufacturers is to reduce or remove excessive packaging due to the influence of retailers and consumer groups, this also gives the retailer the added bonus of displaying more product per square foot of shelving.

While the market for eco-friendly shopping remains fairly niche as organic retailers struggle to attract the mass market that is vital to long-term growth, the onus is certainly on bigger retailers to lead by example when it comes to promoting more environmentally methods. Households across the UK are expected to recycle and reduce their carbon footprint, and businesses should be no exception to the rules.


WF Denny is a national supplier and distributor of eco-friendly and biodegradable food packaging, as well as standard packaging and catering disposables, with over 90 years’ experience in manufacturing these items. WF Denny also stocks a wide range of partyware for consumers and is passionate about delivering a great service to businesses and the public alike.

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Posted by Eco Warrior - July 11, 2017 at 12:19 pm

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How to Use Sustainable Landscaping Materials in Your Naturescape Project

When we talk about sustainable building and design, too often do we forget the outdoors, where it is needed the most. If you’re renovating your garden or backyard, it is important that you use sustainable and non-toxic materials if you want to have clean and healthy water and soil for your green projects, or even production of your own food. This should be an oasis, a place to relax and refuel your inner energy. This should also be a kind of a sanctuary for native wildlife and a place where ecosystem can develop without interference. Naturescaping has never been more relevant. It merges our urban areas with the outdoors, but without harming nature. If you own a beautiful garden or yard, you are one of the few that can make a difference. Learn more about how to naturescape your green spaces by using sustainable landscaping materials.

Repurpose

It is nice that you decided to start with your very own naturescape project, but don’t think too locally. Naturescaping should nurture your sense of being a small, but vital, part of a greater chain of life. Almost everything you do has its consequences. If you throw something away, for example, it will most likely end up in a nearby landfill. So, try and repurpose old items before you recklessly part with them. Remember that old door? With a bit of imagination on your part and a bucket of paint, it could make a great and interesting picnic table. Let your creativity flow.

Buying new materials

Of course, you cannot complete your landscaping project by only using recycled materials. At one point, you’ll have to buy something new. The key here is to know which materials count as sustainable. These should be locally produced, recycled or recyclable, non-toxic and long lasting. It is imperative that you know your materials. Are they coated in toxic paints containing volatile organic compounds which contribute to air and water pollution? Many wood coatings contain arsenic and creosote which can irreversibly harm our ecosystem. Which pesticides and fertilizers are you using? Don’t worry about the alternative materials being too costly. Naturescaping is all about cost-efficiency, functionality and environmentally-sound practices.

Best practices

Aside from using sustainable materials, you should be aware of a set of landscaping practices. These will turn your garden or yard into a self-maintaining ecosystem which is both appealing to the eye and in balance with the local climate and environment. Also, rethink your approach to pest control. You could reduce storm water run-offs by installing permeable paving or by building green roofs and rain gardens. If you think about it, the majority of our urban area is built from impermeable materials that stop the natural water cycle. Then, there is the problem of irrigation. You could reduce the amount of water you use for your green areas by biofiltering the water from your sink and shower and using it as irrigation. You can also use the organic waste from your kitchen as composting material. If you’re interested in starting a naturescaping project, but don´t know how it’s best to hire professionals like those at Robert Plumb. They’ll listen to any personal requests while creating quality, sustainable and beautiful outdoors.

Durability

While it is smart to invest in materials that are resilient and modular, you should also think about how they affect natural habitats. Let nature do its course. It is best to turn to biodegradable materials which will degrade over time, but can still be repurposed. If you’re thinking about investing in plastic containers for your garden, why not go for stoneware or ceramic instead? This is what naturescaping is all about – changing ourselves and our environment for the better, one small step at a time.

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Posted by Eco Warrior - July 11, 2017 at 5:48 am

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The Body Shop’s brilliant Bio-Bridges scheme

The British cosmetics company Body Shop was founded in Brighton, Sussex, in 1976 by Dame Anita Roddick, now deceased. Her good work carries on thanks to their collaboration with conservation schemes in Vietnam, Malaysia and Indonesia, designed to lend a helping hand to endangered species like orang-utans, tigers and monkeys.

The company has already worked closely with the World Land Trust on several bio-bridges. Now they've announced a new initiative to create ten new bridges to link areas of rainforest so animals can travel between pristine areas of forest safely.

Special corridors to link isolated animal and plant populations

These special corridors are designed to link wildlife hotspots together by the year 2020, connecting otherwise isolated and endangered flora and fauna so they can breed and thrive. The Body Shop is already committed to protect 75 million square metres of habitat within the same timescale, impressive stuff.

Bringing in local people and helping them live sustainably

A vital element of the Body Shop's World Bio-Bridges Mission involves engaging local people in protecting their rainforest habitats, at the same time supporting them in developing more sustainable ways of living. The organisation will also be scouring the rainforests for new natural ingredients to be used in their products, which represent sustainable sources of income for local people to replace logging and poaching. The Body Shop plans to raise funds and awareness by selling a range of different special edition products.

What the Body Shop says

As Christopher Davis, the retailer's international director of corporate responsibility and campaigns said, “Through protecting and regenerating land, working with local communities and seeking partnerships with civil and state organisation around the world, the World Bio-Bridges Mission can make a substantial difference to some of the planet's richest and most diverse areas.”

Why don't more household brands join in?

It's great to see Dame Roddick's dedication to conservation continuing, and really good news to hear about these initiatives, which bring the consumer world and conservations world together in the interest of the common good of humanity and our fellow creatures. It's a shame more large, influential companies don't do the same.

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Posted by Eco Warrior - July 5, 2017 at 3:10 pm

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Post Festival Waste

As the revellers leave Glastonbury and the photographs of the waste-filled site start to appear, WF Denny, supplier of biodegradable packaging, has produced an infographic to illustrate the scale of the rubbish that is left after a festival like Glastonbury. The results are shocking! Read on below to find out just how much waste is produced on the 1,000 acre site!

Post Festival Waste

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Posted by Eco Warrior - June 29, 2017 at 5:31 am

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About Malaysia’s first ever Rainforest Fringe Festival

It's a great way to raise awareness and bring the plight of Malaysia's rainforests to the attention of more people. The first ever Rainforest Fringe Festival takes place in Kuching, Sarawak in July, a ten day extravaganza of art and craft, music, exhibitions, fashion, performance and more. It's on from 7th July and is the precursor to the Rainforest World Music Festival, an extremely popular two day day event held at the Sarawak Cultural Village, celebrating its 20th birthday this year.

The festival is designed to support the Rainforest World Music Festival, and has an interesting remit: to educate and inspire local people, giving them an understanding of the “huge treasure trove” that the region's forests offer, and about the funds that have been set aside for the development of arts and culture in the region.

The rich heritage of Sarawak will be portrayed by a concert featuring local talent: the pop singers Dayang Nurfaizah and Pete Kallang, the Indie musician Noh Salleh, the actor-singer Tony Eusoff, and the highly respected sape player and artist Mathew Ngau. There will be plenty of art exhibitions, including paintings, sculpture, installations and photography, providing a fascinating insight into the region's people and traditions.

Some of the major highlights of the ten day festival

  • Sarawak photographer K.F Wong’s 1940s-50s photos of the many ancient tribes in Sarawak, including the Dayak people
  • Photojournalist Jimmy Nelson’s images of indigenous communities
  • Photographer and botanist Ch’ien Lee’s stunning wildlife and nature photography
  • Sarawakian artist Kendy Mitot combines the traditional arts and culture with innovative mixed media works
  • Alena Murang, the musician, dancer and artist looks back at into the past at the nature and people of Borneo
  • Spencer Byles presents an outdoor exhibition of natural sculptures, using the rainforest as his canvas
  • A craft and vintage market selling vintage and contemporary artisan items
  • Daily film screenings
  • A colourful fashion show
  • Fascinating talks about British explorers and naturalists Charles Hose and Alfred Wallace

If you are fortunate enough to be in the area when the festival kicks off you are in for a treat. The Rainforest Fringe Festival takes place in the Old Court House, Kuching Amphitheatre, Waterfront Hotel and Culture Club. It has been organised thanks to a collaboration by Joe Sidek Productions, the local Ministry of Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sport, Sarawak Tourism, and the Rainforest World Music Festival.


To help protect some of the worlds most vulnerable rainforest, please consider making a donation to the Rainforest Foundation.

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Posted by Eco Warrior - June 7, 2017 at 5:07 pm

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Types of Solar Power Systems and How Solar Energy Is Produced

Environmental awareness is getting higher and higher and many homeowners and businesses are searching for new ways to power their buildings. Luckily, today we have several sources of renewable energy that everyone is trying to incorporate into their lives. One of the most efficient sources certainly is the Sun and its energy. To be precise, solar energy is light and heat from the Sun, harnessed by a range of evolving technologies, such as solar thermal energy, photovoltaics, solar heating, and many other solar power systems.

Another reason why solar power systems are entering our homes and businesses is because of their benefits for the environment. Firstly, solar power reduces the emission of toxic gases into the air, thus reducing the pollution. Secondly, it reduces water pollution because it doesn’t use water to generate electricity. Thus it preserves the local water resources. Lastly, since sunlight is a renewable source of energy, solar power reduces the need for finite energy resources.

How does it work?

Solar power systems, like ones you can put on your roof, produce the needed power directly from the Sun. Sunlight is directly transformed into electricity by the solar cells situated in the panels. Each solar cell is made of silicon, combined with other materials in such a way that there are some missing electrons in one part of the cell, while in the other there are extra electrons. When the sunlight hits the cell, the extra electrons in the silicon are knocked by the photons in the light and they freely flow to the missing electron part of the cell. The flow that is created thus produces the electrical current that reaches the inverter, which transforms that current into usable electricity.

Grid-tied utility interconnected systems

These systems don’t require any batteries, because they are designed to contribute power back into the existing supply, and not for back-up power. Utility interconnected systems are perfect for residential and commercial buildings because they will pay for themselves throughout the years, because they will significantly lower the utility bills. By installing these solar power systems on your roof, you are powering your home with green power which will also reduce pollution in the environment. Since this is a convenient power solution for renewable energy, you have a vast variety of models to choose from, such as the 5kw solar systems, and supply your home with clean energy and lower bills. Utility interconnected systems are designed to lower the power demands from the utility or to sell power back to the utility, in some cases.

Solar Power Demystified: The Beginners Guide To Solar Power, Energy Independence And Lower Bills

Standalone DC systems

These systems are usually a substitute for a utility power. They include solar charging modules, a charger regulator, storage batteries and controls. A smaller standalone DC system is a perfect replacement for noisy generators and kerosene lamps on a boat, recreational vehicle or a remote home. This system uses photovoltaic (PV) array to charge the batteries during the day and the battery supplies power where it is needed. The sizing will depend on the wattage of the loads and how often you are using them.

Standalone AC-DC systems

This system is similar to the previous one, but it uses DC to AC inverter. Additionally, this system can power the common appliances in your home, such as vacuum cleaner, computer, power tools, kitchen appliances and washing machines. DC to AC inverters are available with a variety of power outputs, ranging from 100 watts to 10 kilowatts. What is more, larger inverters can also serve as battery charges from a backup generator when you need more power than the solar module can supply.

We have to pay good attention to how we are using energy resources around us. Our environment is at stake, as well as our homes and health. Luckily, with massive advances in technology each year, we have the opportunity to utilize the renewable sources of energy, such as sunlight. This only results in green ways to power our homes and business buildings without leaving a trace in the environment.

 

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Posted by Eco Warrior - June 7, 2017 at 4:41 pm

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The Global Species Crisis: Mammals on the Brink of Extinction

For some animal species, time on planet Earth is running out. There have been five mass extinctions in the planet’s history, and animal populations so far suggest that we may have entered what will be the sixth great extinction wave. Since the 1960’s and 1970’s, when the idea of saving many of the world’s animals was first recognised, scientists have strived to save dwindling animal numbers. But, despite efforts, the list of endangered species has more than doubled in the past two decades according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). More than 23,000 plant and animal species are listed on the IUCN, including corals, birds, mammals and amphibians.

What classes an animal as endangered?

The IUCN accounts for all of the endangered species, classifying them on a spectrum that ranges from “near threatened” to “extinct”; with “endangered” species in the middle. Factors that are examined to determine the level of extinction include a vulnerability analysis of a species’ habitat, an indication of a shrinking population, and observing issues that prevent reproduction.

As it stands, 3,406 mammal species are categorised as threatened. In 2015 the number stood at 1,201. Extinction rates have reached levels unparalleled since the dinosaurs died out 66 million years ago, and this is mainly because of air and water pollution, forest clearing, loss of wetlands, and other man-induced environmental changes. As human beings, we are responsible for being the biggest threat to endangered species. Habitat loss is the greatest threat to wildlife globally, affecting over 2,000 mammals.

How losing species could create a butterfly effect.

Species loss threatens to reduce biodiversity and ultimately the collapse of ecosystems across the world. One of the biggest examples of this are endangered bees. The rusty patched bumblebee’s population has plummeted nearly 90% since the 1990’s in the United States. Bees play a vital role in pollination for agriculture, globally honey bees are the world's most important pollinator of food crops. It is estimated that one-third of the food that we consume each day relies on pollination mainly by bees.

The Countries with the most threatened mammal species.

For World Environment Day on 5th June, Eco2Greetings have used World Bank data to highlight where in the world mammals are most in need of protection and conservation. The map reveals the top 10 countries with the most threatened mammals.

The number of mammals in Eco2Greeting’s top 10 list who are on the brink of extinction is 898, and they are struggling to survive in all corners of the world; from Australia and Malaysia to Mexico and Brazil. Indonesia is the country taking the top spot of the most threatened mammal list. A gargantuan 188 species of mammal are classified as endangered here and will be wiped out completely if more is not done to conserve them in their corner of the world. Madagascar, home to the favourable Lemur is next with 120 of their national mammal species under threat.

Find the full interactive map here.

 

Global Species Crisis

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Posted by Eco Warrior - June 2, 2017 at 6:45 am

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DIY Car Cleaning Tips With Baking Soda

Motorbazee.com an automotive portal in India has come up with an informative infographic on car cleaning with baking soda. Yes, you read it right baking soda one of the most common items available in almost all kitchens. To help you clean your car in a green way, protecting the environment from harsh chemical based car cleaners Motorbazee has created an infographic on the topic – Car Cleaning Tips with Baking Soda. Now you can follow this DIY green car cleaning approach to make it shine to the best.

So, let’s explore the infographic below on how you can clean your car – make it shine and can get rid of the bad odour all with an effective product in your kitchen i.e., baking soda.

DIY Car Cleaning Tips With Baking Soda

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Posted by Eco Warrior - May 30, 2017 at 6:11 am

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