Study finds Canadians using more eco-friendly tools and methods in the yard

Robotic mower

The study was conducted by Husqvarna, which makes many “green” outdoor products, including robotic lawn mowers and battery-operated chainsaws, trimmers and leaf blowers.

A study released by Husqvarna Canada Wednesday found that 61 per cent of Canadians are using some form of eco-friendly tool or method, such as composting, when working around the yard.

RELATED: EGO Power+ releasing 56v battery-operated snow blower fall 2016

The study, which surveyed 1530 Canadians online between July 18 and 21, 2016, also found that 55 per cent of respondents want a landscaper that uses emissions-free equipment, with 44 per cent saying they would pay a premium for landscapers who use quieter equipment.

“This report confirms the value Canadian customers place on environmental impact, and as a global manufacturer we know that the case for offering environmentally-friendly equipment to our professional and at-home users is strong,” Michelle Sordi, Husqvarna Canada’s director of marketing, said in a statement.

Seventy-six per cent of those surveyed feel companies aiming to be greener should get tax benefits and 70 per cent said they would support companies that use eco-friendly equipment. Seventy-seven per cent of respondents also stated that city officials should be using emissions-free equipment in public parks and spaces.

RELATED: Charge your smartphone with a solar patio umbrella

Husqvarna offers many “green” outdoor products, including robotic lawn mowers and battery-operated chainsaws, trimmers and leaf blowers. Vist husqvarna.com for more information.

Do you use eco-friendly yard equipment or methods? Share your thoughts in the comments below or at facebook.com/bamcatBuzz.

The survey was conducted using Leger’s online portal. A probability sample of the same size would yield a margin of error of +/-2.5%, 19 times out of 20.

MGM adding ZON’s Powersol solar-powered patio umbrella to Las Vegas resorts

ZON Powersol

ZON’s Powersol solar-powered patio umbrella is helping make Las Vegas a bit more green.

Las Vegas is looking more green these days as MGM Resorts International has begun rolling out ZON’s solar-powered patio umbrella to select resorts and casinos.

The Powersol uses solar panels attached to the top of a patio umbrella to collect energy into a table-top battery hub. Guests can charge their smartphones and other mobile devices off the hub while they relax by the pool or enjoy some food and drinks at the table.

RELATED: Charge your smartphone with a solar patio umbrella

“MGM is a leader in innovation for the hospitality world, and Powersol definitely fits in with our goal to innovate and provide convenient tech amenities to our guests,” Joyen Vakil, Sr. Vice President of Design & Development at MGM Resorts International said in a statement.

MGM is adding the Powersol to the Aria Resort & Casino, Bellagio and MGM Grand with more locations planned over the next few months.

“Working with MGM on this rollout is exciting for ZON. As an up and comer in the solar, mobile charging movement, it is incredibly validating to have Powersol tapped as the solution for legendary MGM properties to keep their guests’ devices charged up,” Cameron Welborn-Wilson, ZON’s Co-Founder and Chief Strategy Officer, said in a release.

RELATED: Cinch! – the solar-powered pop-up tent you’re going to want

ZON once again confirmed that they are working on a consumer-friendly version and that Canadian businesses interested in the Powersol can order and have one shipped here.

For more information on the Powersol, visit zon-technology.com.

Are you more willing to book at a resort or hotel that offers eco-friendly options like the Powersol? Share your thoughts in the comments below or at facebook.com/bamcatBuzz.

Cinch! – the solar-powered pop-up tent you’re going to want

Cinch! tent

If you thought a tent couldn’t be exciting, you haven’t met the Cinch! yet.

UPDATE: The Cinch! Kickstarter is now live.

A pop-up tent that can be setup in seconds, has solar power capabilities, LED lights and is fully waterproof? Meet the Cinch!

Unlike any other tent on the market, creator Jake Jackson launched the Cinch! in 2009 for a small group of festival-goers because he wanted a tent campers could trust. He has expanded production each year since and now has a customer base around the world, including in Canada.

RELATED: Charge your smartphone with a solar patio umbrella

“I’ve been a keen camper for nearly 30 years, and I’ve never found an all-round tent that’s perfect for my needs and those of my friends in the camping community,” Jackson said in a media release. “It often seems that essentials like convenience and comfort, or quality and price, are mutually-exclusive in the tent market. I don’t think we should compromise on those basic ingredients, and I want to give my fellow campers a product they can really trust.”

Other features of the latest Cinch! incarnation include tent pegs with LED lights, reflective guylines, flexible fibreglass poles, an extendable canopy (which increases living space by 75 per cent), two entrances and loads of storage. A 13,000 mAh solar power bank that can charge a smartphone up to six times and a heat reflector are optional items that can be added.

Cinch! solar bank

A 13,000 mAh solar power bank that can charge a smartphone up to six times is an option that can be added to the Cinch! tent.

Available in two, three and four person models, Jackson claims the four person Cinch! is the largest tent in its class. He says it can be setup in seconds and taken down and packed into a disc-shaped rucksack in under a minute. It also only weighs 19 lbs, making it a great option for portaging.

RELATED: 5 tips for portaging with kids

In order to make the latest version of the Cinch! a reality, Jackson is turning to Kickstarter.

“I’m using Kickstarter for two main reasons,” Jackson said in the release. “Firstly to keep costs as low as possible for my customers – so they don’t have to pick up the bill for things like borrowing capital. But more immediately, to test the water and see if there’s an appetite for it – so I need to reach as many camping fanatics as possible during the Kickstarter campaign!”

If you’re as interested in the Cinch! as I am, you can make a pledge on Kickstarter beginning next week now. If the campaign raises the £20,000 (roughly CDN$35,000) Jackson needs by Thursday, Sept. 8, the Cinch! will immediately go into production and ship in early 2017 (in time for next year’s camping season).

For more information on the Cinch! and to find out details of the Kickstarter campaign, visit cinchpopuptents.co.uk.

Are you excited for the Cinch! tent? Share your thoughts in the comments below or at facebook.com/bamcatBuzz.

Charge your smartphone with a solar patio umbrella

Powersol solar umbrella

The Powersol is a solar patio umbrella that can charge three USB devices at once as fast as a wall outlet can.

A patio umbrella that can charge your phone? In one of those “why didn’t I think of that?” moments, ZON has taken a simple idea and turned it into a reality that helps remove the stress and fear of a draining phone battery in a sustainable way.

RELATED: Tesla opening five new supercharger stations in Ontario and Quebec this summer

With solar panels attached to the top of the umbrella, the Powersol collects energy into a connected table-top battery hub. Three USB devices can charge off of it at once (day or night) and, according to ZON, it charges devices as fast as a wall outlet does.

“Now people don’t have to worry about bringing a special device or extra battery with them, they can simply go to their favourite hotel, campus or restaurant and charge up, while using their phone, and go about their day stress free,” Cameron Welborn-Wilson, ZON Co-Founder and Chief Strategy Officer, said in a statement.

The main implementation of the Powersol is currently commercial applications, such as hotels and restaurants. Individuals can purchase one directly from ZON, but it will cost you $2,005USD for a square umbrella and $2,095USD for an octagon one (both are available in multiple colours).

RELATED: EGO Power+ releasing 56v battery-operated snow blower fall 2016

The good news is that the company is working on a less expensive consumer-friendly version (I’d personally love to see a beach umbrella Powersol) and they ship to Canada.

“We are currently working with our engineers and product development team on some really cool new features, and one thing is to create an ‘at home’ version at a lower price point,” Welborn-Wilson confirmed in an email. “We do not have a Canadian distributor yet, but we are available to ship to Canada.”

For more information on the Powersol, visit zon-technology.com.

Does a solar-charging patio umbrella interest you? Share your thoughts in the comments below or at facebook.com/bamcatBuzz.

Tesla opening five new supercharger stations in Ontario and Quebec this summer

Tesla supercharger

A Tesla can get up to a 200 km range after charging for 20 minutes at a supercharger station. Photo courtesy Tesla.

On the heels of their brand new supercharger station that opened in Grimsby, Ontario last week, electric car manufacturer Tesla announced Wednesday another five stations will be opening in Ontario and Quebec this summer.

The new Ontario stations will be located north of Toronto in Parry Sound and Huntsville, while the Quebec stations will be in Magog, Montreal and Riviere du Loup.

RELATED: 8 observations after driving a 2015 Toyota Prius for a week

Tesla says the supercharger stations are designed for drivers to be able to travel for about three hours, take a break and charge up. According to the press release, the new Grimsby supercharger station will get you between west New York, Niagara Falls and into Toronto and Detroit.

The stations are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week and can add up to 200 km of range to a Model S or Model X in about 20 minutes. They only work with Tesla vehicles and are free for drivers to use.

The new stations will expand Tesla’s supercharger network in Canada to a total of 23 (in comparison the U.S. has over 600).

To find a Tesla supercharger station, visit teslamotors.com.

EGO Power+ releasing 56v battery-operated snow blower fall 2016

Snow. Yuck!

It might not even be summer yet, but snow will be back before we know it!

When you live in Southern Ontario (that’s in Canada) it’s hard to not think about snow year-round. Even on a warm, sunny May day you just know snow is not that far away. So when I was tipped off that EGO Power+ is releasing a 56-volt battery-operated snow blower this fall, I got very excited.

I’m a big fan of the EGO Power+ line of battery-operated lawn equipment. I own their 20″ lawn mower, leaf blower and 14″ chainsaw and have nothing but praise for all of them. Their tools are solid and their batteries last (living on a corner lot, I have a lot of grass to cut and the mower does an amazing job keeping up with my demands and the battery hasn’t lost power in the two years I’ve had it).

RELATED: Why you should put your patio furniture away in the fall (even if it’s nice out)

What makes the EGO Power+ snow blower standout to me is the fact it uses two 56v, 5.0Ah batteries! Most battery-operated snow blowers, such as units from Snow Joe and Ryobi, max out at 40v, 4.0Ah (Greenworks makes an 80v model but it’s only 2Ah). From my own personal experience with the Snow Joe iON18SB, a single 40v, 4.0Ah battery is just not enough power, especially during a major dumping of snow (the Snow Joe battery also took a long time to charge, whereas the EGO Power+ battery takes about 20 minutes to fully charge).

I reached out to EGO Power+ for further specs and information on the snow blower but have not heard back from them (the only announcement they’ve made is via a video on their Instagram page that says “The Struggle Ends Fall 2016”).

Pro Tool Reviews got their hands on a unit to test earlier this month and their review is highly favourable (they used wet sawdust in place of snow and put it against the 80v Greenworks unit and a Toro gas-powered model). They also list the specs as the following:

  • Model: EGO SNT2100
  • Power Source: Two EGO 56V batteries
  • Clearing Swath: 21”
  • Run Time: 20′ x 60′ space, 6” deep
  • Weight: 45 pounds
  • Warranty: 5 years tool, 3 years battery
  • Price: $599 with two 5.0 amp hour batteries

Considering the 20″ lawn mower is a beast with only one 4.0Ah 56v battery, I’m extremely interested to see how this runs with two 5.0Ah 56v batteries. I’m also curious to know what they are going to charge for this in Canada (my guess is it will be closer to $899 Canadian).

RELATED: 8 observations after driving a 2015 Toyota Prius for a week

I’ll post more info on the EGO Power+ snow blower once I get official info from the company (and hopefully a chance to play with one come winter).

Are you excited for the EGO Power+ snow blower? Share your thoughts in the comments below or over at facebook.com/bamcatBuzz.

New saveONenergy coupons available for 2016

saveONenergy

The 2016 saveONenergy coupons are here.

Residents in Ontario, Canada looking to make their homes more energy-efficient in 2016 can save some money with the help of new saveONenergy coupons.

The coupons, available to download and print from saveonenergy.ca, lower the cost of ENERGY STAR certified LED and CFL bulbs and fixtures, as well as select weatherstripping, motion sensors and dimmers, outdoor timers, advanced power bars, clotheslines and more.

Participating retailers include Canadian Tire, Home Depot, Lowe’s, Walmart, RONA and Home Hardware (a full list of participating retailers can be found at saveonenergy.ca).

The coupons range in value from $2 for foam and V-strip weatherstripping to $30 for a programmable baseboard thermostat multipack (3 or more). The best value comes from the coupons for ENERGY STAR certified LED bulbs, which offer $3 off general LED bulbs and $5 off specialty LED bulbs.

A list of all the coupons and values offered are below:

  • ENERGY STAR certified general LEDs ($3 coupon)
  • ENERGY STAR certified specialty LEDs ($5 coupon)
  • ENERGY STAR certified LED Multipack ($8 coupon)
  • ENERGY STAR certified specialty CFLs ($3 coupon for single or double packs, $5 coupon for multipacks of 3 or more)
  • ENERGY STAR certified light fixtures ($8 coupon for lights with 1 or 2 sockets, $15 coupon for lights with 3 or more sockets)
  • ENERGY STAR certified ceiling fans ($10 coupon)
  • Lighting control products ($3 coupon for single packs, $6 coupon for multipacks of 2 or more)
  • Weatherstripping ($2 coupon for foam or V-strip, $3 coupon for door frame kits)
  • Electric water heater blanket ($4 coupon)
  • Heavy duty outdoor timers ($4 coupon)
  • Advanced power bars ($4 coupon)
  • Clotheslines ($10 coupon)
  • Baseboard programmable thermostats ($10 coupon for packs of 1 or 2, $30 coupon for multipacks of 3 or more)

Unlike previous years, there are no coupons for pipe insulation offered this time around.

The coupons are valid until Dec. 31, 2016.

For more details on the saveONenergy program and to print your coupons, visit saveonenergy.ca.

Are you more inclined to purchase energy-efficient items when incentives like coupons are offered? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

4 things you should be recycling

Recycle snack pouches

Snack pouches like these can be recycled.

As someone who cares about the environment I try to reuse and recycle as much as I can. Not only does recycling help reduce waste, but it’s also a good teaching lesson for my kids who now get that recycling is important for the future of the planet (and they are the future).

By now most people are used to recycling plastic, paper and glass products in the blue bin at the curb. But there are many other household items that should be recycled and easily can be if you want to put in a little extra time and effort in.

Here are four things I recycle on a regular basis that you should be recycling as well.

Plastic bags

Plastic grocery store bags can be reused during many shopping visits or in your waste bin instead of buying special garbage bags (which also helps save money). But what about the plastic bags that milk, bread or newspapers come in? And what about plastic sandwich baggies? These all add up to a lot of waste every week. The good news is that these can be turned into many different products (like composite lumber) if you recycle them!

Some areas allow you to put them directly in your blue bin (check with your local municipality to see if this is allowed) or you can bag them up and drop them off at some grocery and big box stores (Metro, Zehrs and Walmart all have bins for recycling plastic bags in my area).

Find out where you can recycle plastic bags in your area by visiting plasticfilmrecycling.org.

Batteries

I try using rechargeable batteries as much as I can (Amazon has some great ones for a good price). But, as any parent knows, it’s impossible to keep up with all the toys that need batteries and sometimes you need to grab a pack in the checkout line.

Throwing batteries in the garbage is one of the worst things you can do for the environment as they can leak into the ground, causing soil and water pollution. I collect all my dead batteries in an old glass pickle jar (a clean plastic peanut butter container also works). Once I have enough dead batteries to fill the jar I take them somewhere like Best Buy, Staples or Home Depot and drop them off in the dedicated battery recycling bin (usually at the store entrance).

Take a look at the picture below to see how many dead batteries I found during a recent audit of all the toys and devices we had stashed away in our house. It would be devastating if all of those went to the landfill!

To find a location near you to take batteries to recycle, visit call2recycle.ca.

Snack pouches

My kids love those applesauce pouches (pictured above) and insist on having them in their school lunches. These generate a lot of waste and I held back on buying them until I discovered they could be recycled (along with many other household items) by TerraCycle.

Recycling via TerraCycle is a bit different as you need to collect certain amounts of items you are interested in recycling before you can ship it off to them. Once you have enough (for the snack pouches you need at least 2lbs or about 77 pouches) you box them up, print a free shipping label and send them off. TerraCycle turns the waste into items like toys and park benches.

Along with the snack pouches, TerraCycle also recycles cereal bags, cookie and cracker wrappers, cigarette butts and coffee bags. For more information on TerraCycle, visit terracycle.ca.

Electronics

Keeping old or dead cellphones, TVs, DVD players, computers and small household appliances out of the landfill is a necessity these days as more and more devices get replaced every few years. Electronics can be dropped off at most waste management facilities to be recycled for free. Some Best Buy and Canadian Tire locations also have bins for collecting electronics. If the devices you don’t need/want still work you can try selling them on Kijiji or Craigslist first. As the saying goes, “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure” (it also doesn’t hurt to make a few extra dollars either).

Find out where you can recycle electronics in your area by visiting recycleyourelectronics.ca.

What uncommon items do you recycle that others should as well? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

How to clean a glass cooktop stove

Cleaning glass cooktop

Have a dirty glass cooktop like this? Follow these instructions to get it clean.

One of the worst things about having a glass cooktop stove is that it never really looks clean, especially if you have pots of water boiling over onto it frequently (like we seem to do in our house). This is one of those things that drives my wife and I crazy about our electric Frigidaire stove. Thankfully, I figured out an easy way to get it clean without using any harsh chemicals or spending money on special products (the few items you need you may already have in your home).

Here is how to get your glass cooktop clean.

What you need:

  • Baking soda
  • Large bowl of hot water
  • Dish soap
  • Dish towels
  • Razor blade (optional)

Directions:

Make sure your oven and burners are all off and that the cooktop is completely cool before starting.

Cover the entire cooktop with a layer of baking soda (I prefer Arm & Hammer baking soda as I can get a large 2kg box for about $3.97 at Walmart).

Cleaning glass cooktop

Make sure you have a good layer of baking soda down to cover the entire cooktop.

In a large bowl add hot water with a couple of squirts of dish soap.

Soak a large dish towel or two (you need to be able to cover the entire cooktop) in the hot water/soap mix.

Squeeze out about half the water from the towel/s and place over the baking soda-covered cooktop.

Let it sit for about 15 minutes.

Cleaning glass cooktop

Make sure you cover the entire cooktop with the hot soapy towels.

After 15 minutes scrunch up the towel/s and use them to scrub the cooktop.

Wipe off any residue and check to see how clean the cooktop is.

Cleaning glass cooktop

My cooktop was much cleaner but still had lots of gunk after the first pass.

Cleaning glass cooktop

A closer look at the burned on gunk on my glass cooktop.

If this is the first time you are cleaning your cooktop or if it’s been a long time since you cleaned your cooktop you may notice lots of stuff still burned on. If that is the case repeat the above instructions letting the baking soda and hot towels sit for about 20 – 25 minutes and do another check.

If there is still heavy gunk visible after doing the baking soda procedure a second time use a razor blade (one from a utility knife will do) and gently scrape the gunk, working towards the elements. DO NOT press hard for this as you could scratch the cooktop. The burned on gunk will peel off as you do this.

Cleaning glass cooktop

Be careful when using a razor blade to not press hard or you could scratch the cooktop.

Cleaning glass cooktop

The burned on gunk the razor blade got off my glass cooktop.

After working on the bad spots with a razor blade repeat the baking soda procedure above.

Your cooktop should look almost new when done! Do the baking soda procedure with your regular weekly chores to prevent it from getting bad and you won’t have to work as hard the next time.

Cleaning glass cooktop

A much cleaner glass cooktop.

Cleaning glass cooktop

Being able to see the elements again sure is nice.

Have questions or tips on cleaning around your house? Share them in the comments below.

How to change the price of gas on a 2015 Toyota Prius

One of the greatest things about driving a Toyota Prius is the ability to see how much you spent on gas with every trip you take. This of course only works properly if you set the price of gas to what you paid per litre when you filled up the car. Toyota doesn’t make this an easy process and during my week-long test drive of a 2015 Prius I struggled to figure out how to change the price of gas. Once I realized there was a settings menu controlled by a button on the steering wheel it all became clear.

This is how you change the price of gas on a 2015 Toyota Prius.

2015 Toyota Prius DISP button

The steering wheel of the 2015 Toyota Prius. The DISP button is highlighted in yellow.

With the car on and in park, press the DISP button on your steering wheel (it’s the one by TEMP and TRIP) until you see SETTINGS appear on the upper dash display (beside the speedometer).

Press and hold the DISP button until a menu appears with the following options:

  • EXIT
  • GASOLINE PRICE
  • FUEL CONSU. DISP.
  • COMP. CONSUMPTION
  • CALENDAR

Press the DISP button once to select GASOLINE PRICE.

With GASOLINE PRICE selected hold the DISP button for a few seconds.

You will either see the last price of gas that was set or if no price had ever been set it will show $0.00.

Use DISP to move the price up and TRIP to move the price down.

Once you have the price you want, stop pressing buttons and wait a few seconds. Once the price sets the screen will go back to the main menu.

Use the DISP button to move up to EXIT.

With EXIT selected press and hold DISP and you’re done!

For more on the 2015 Toyota Prius read my post 8 observations after driving a 2015 Toyota Prius for a week.

Have any other Toyota Prius tips or tricks? Share them in the comments below.