The sun is out in full force these days. Around here we went from winter to spring conditions in what seemed like a day! No longer are we thinking about how to shovel out from the over 46 inches of snow we saw in the Boulder area, but we are turning to the age old question of sun protection. I feel like I have to educate myself again every year!
It doesn’t have to be confusing what we put our skin and our little ones. Here is a Glossary of Terms to help get started:
UVA: the rays that cause skin cancer
UVB: the rays that are responsible for burns
Mineral sunscreens: those containing zinc oxide or titanium dioxide
EWG: Environmental Working Group is a consumer group that tests cosmetics, including sun screen to let the public know what’s safe and what’s not
SPF: Sun protection factor which is a measurement of the UVB rays only [not UVA]
Nanoparticles: EWG states that they are safe in lotion, but not in sprays because nanoparticles can get into your lungs and cause harm.
The most effective protection for UVA is zinc oxide, but it’s tough to put on the kids and leave your skin white and pasty looking. The reason this works so well is it that it reflects the sun and doesn’t allow penetration. But don’t be fooled by companies that use nanoparticles to get sheer coverage because these could be harmful. For more specific information on your sunscreens head to EWG’s Sunscreen Guide.
So What Should a Family To Do? The best thing to do is avoid the sun during the middle of the day. Find shade then and head outside early or late. If you cannot do that then avoid nanoparticles, and use mineral sunscreens. The most effective protection for UVA is zinc oxide, but it’s tough to put on the kids and leave your skin white and pasty looking. The reason this works so well is it that it reflects the sun and doesn’t allow penetration. If you and your kids can stand these sunscreens they are the best.
Delicious Living Magazine recommends the following sunscreen products:
Badger SPF 34 Baby Sunscreen
Goddess Garden Sunny Body
True Natural All Natural Tropical Tan Self Tanner
You can find Delicious Living’s full article on sunscreens here.
I recently moved to a new house and after checking the Xcel bill I knew it had some issues with high energy consumption and costs–more than double our previous house monthly. Yikes! So I called Energy Smart to get them to immediately conduct an energy audit. I knew this was a hoop I needed to jump through to qualify for rebates [and figure out what needed to get attention]. It turns out that there are an incredible number of rebates you can get. They haven’t disappeared! Here’s how we save over $1,000 on work we needed to get done on our house.
The first thing you need to do is get an energy audit. Contact Energy Smart and they will make all the arrangements for your energy audit. The cost is $90 and they do a comprehensive audit of your living space. They also replace high energy cost bulbs all around your house, offer you low flow shower heads, and install programmable thermostats [$20 each] during the audit. Here are some of the rebates that make it well worth your while to do the audit:
Xcel Energy: They offer a prescribed amount of rebates based on what you do with your home. We blew insulation into our attic and will receive $350 back. They also offer rebates for Energy Star appliances, Air Sealing, etc… Click here for more details.
City of Boulder: They also offer rebates on a list of energy improvements. We are going to receive $800 back on the attic insulation we did [on top of the $350 from Xcel]. But you can get rebates for furnace tune ups, wall insulation, etc… Click here for more details.
By the numbers: Here’s an example of what happened for us. We insulated our attic. Going from a R19 to R50. The cost was $1600. We are getting rebates for $350 [Xcel] and $800 [City of Boulder], so in the end we are paying $450 to get the work done. Yippeeee! I’m feeling good about this one!
I’ll continue this series on water savings and other ways to save some money, help the planet, and more. Any ideas, send them my way!