Green Living Guide 2015

Local residents can make changes big and small to help the environment.


  • Install screens on your windows to block out sunlight at about $50 per screen.

  • Add insulation.

  • Seal ducts, caulking and weatherstripping.

  • Install a new air conditioner, which could be 50 percent more efficient.

  • raise your thermostat. In summer months, each degree lower can increase your energy bill by 2-3 percent.

  • use the Austin Energy app, an Internet-based tool that allows customers to get alerts when their home energy use increases.

Light Bulbs Green Living Guide

  • Incandescent bulbs produce light using electricity to heat a metal filament. Other bulbs are more energy-efficient.

  • In a CFL, or compact fluorescent lamp, bulb, an electric current flows between electrodes at ends of a tube containing gases to produce ultraviolet light and heat, which is transformed into visible light when it strikes a phosphor coating on the inside of the bulb.

  • LEDs, or light-emitting diodes, produce visible light when an electrical current is passed through them.

Rainwater HarvestingGreen Living Guide

  • Local retailers such as TreeHouse offer many harvesting options.

  • Harvesting systems can hold 50 to 5,000 gallons.

  • ways to use rainwater include:

  • watering lawns: Reuse rainwater to keep lawns green.

  • irrigating plants: Soaker hoses can slowly release water to plants.

  • washing cars: A simple solar pump adapter can use solar energy to increase water pressure.

  • giving pets water: Water filtration systems can purify rainwater.

Solar Power Green Living Guide

David Dixon, business development manager at local business Native Inc., explains solar energy and its cost.

Solar panels placed on your roof can capture energy you can use.

Sunlight creates a form of electricity called direct-current electricity, which must be fed through an inverter to become alternating-current electricity, which your house can use, Dixon said. That energy can be used or sent to a power grid.

A power grid acts as virtual battery: The grid holds on to electricity so you can use it when you need it.*

*Austin Energy credits homeowners for all solar energy their system provides whether the energy is used in the home or sent to the grid.

How much does solar energy use cost? 

  • Dixon said it varies, but an average-sized system uses between 20 and 30 solar panels and between 5 and 7 kilowatts of energy.

  • 1 watt = about $3.10

  • 5-7 kilowatts = about $15,000

  • The city offers a rebate of $1.10 per watt and homeowners can apply for federal tax credits, which together could save $7,000, Dixon said.

Home Structure Green Living Guide

Check to make sure air ducts are not leaking. Homes that are 10 years old or older can lose 27 percent or more of their air conditioning through leaks, according to Austin Energy.  (Source: Austin Energy/Community Impact Newspaper)

Kane Sutphin, director of marketing for local store TreeHouse, said installing a nest thermostat can help control how your home uses energy.
“There shouldn’t be one room that’s always colder. That’s almost always a sign that there’s a problem in the duct system.” –Austin Energy spokesman Carlos Cordova  


Treehouse will be the first retailer to sell the Tesla Home Battery.  Green Living Guide

The retailer, located at 4477 S. Lamar Blvd., Ste. 600, announced May 4 it will offer the new home battery, which costs about $3,500.

The battery helps store energy that can be used to run an entire home, Sutphin said.

More information about the battery is available online at

View a PDF of this guide.


A system to identify at-risk Austin Police Department employees has not been effective. (Maggie Quinlan/Community Impact Newspaper)
Audit finds Austin police system to flag at-risk officers is failing

Austin's city auditor and police chief agree the police department's computer program to identify at-risk officers is not fulfilling its mission.

A rise in COVID-19 cases has Travis County back in stage 4. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Austin reverts to Stage 4 guidelines with rising delta variant cases

As delta variant COVID -19 cases are sending more young people to local ICUs, The Austin-Travis County Health Authority has moved the area back to guidelines that require masks indoors.

Opening day at Q2 Stadium
US men’s soccer team to visit Q2 Stadium this fall

The U.S. men's national team will host Jamaica for a FIFA World Cup qualifier game on Oct. 7.

Capital Metro is hosting a series of virtual meetings to hear feedback from the community on the latest Project Connect designs. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)
Capital Metro seeks community input on latest Project Connect design

Want to have your voice heard about Project Connect? Tune in to the upcoming virtual meetings.

Dozens of Austin residents spoke virtually and in person July 22 to share their thoughts on the city's proposed fiscal year 2021-22 budget. (Ben Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)
Police funding again takes center stage in public hearing on Austin's proposed FY 2021-22 budget

Dozens of city residents calling into or appearing at City Hall on July 22 shared their thoughts about policing and the city's spending plan.

Mortgage purchase applications are down year over year, but the Austin housing market remains hot. (Benton Graham/Community Impact Newspaper)
Austin housing market still hot but showing signs of slowing down

Experts say that a decrease in mortgage purchase applications points to “a reversion back to norm” in the Austin housing market.

Peter Lake (left), chair of the Public Utility Commission of Texas, and Brad Jones, interim president and CEO of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, provided an update on state regulators' electric grid redesign efforts in Austin on July 22. (Ben Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)
Regulators: Texas electric grid prepared for potentially record-breaking demand next week; 'once-in-a-generation reforms' underway

The heads of the agencies in charge of the Texas electric grid met in Austin on July 22 to provide updates on their grid reform efforts.

Z'Tejas margarita
Where to celebrate National Tequila Day this year around Austin

From mezcal bars to frozen margarita specials, here is a list of places to celebrate National Tequila Day on July 24.

Photo of men at a restaurant
New American restaurant 1417 launches on South First, plus more openings in South Austin

The bistro comes from the team behind downtown French gastropub Hopfield's.

Project Connect's Orange Line will go beneath Lady Bird Lake in the latest design. (Rendering courtesy Project Connect)
Into the bedrock: Capital Metro plans to go below Lady Bird Lake with Orange Line tunnel

The tunnel presents a few options of where the train could emerge near South Congress.

Photo of a stack of masks
Austin Public Health says to mask up indoors, regardless of vaccination status

The Austin-Travis County community is on the "precipice" of Stage 4 pandemic risk, public health authority Dr. Desmar Walkes said.

Travis County has been discussing the possibility of a new Samsung facility with Samsung since January. (Community Impact Staff)
Travis County begins incentives negotiations with Samsung for possible $17B facility

Samsung is hoping to finalize a performance agreement by mid-August, which would include information about how the potential facility would affect property taxes.