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SEPCO's blog on all things renewable and green

People’s Climate March and the UN Climate Summit 2014

Posted by SEPCO

9/25/14 9:30 AM

peoples climate march 2014

Last Sunday was one of the largest climate rallies ever, the People’s Climate March in New York City. Climate changes have been on the mind of people since the 60’s and 70’s, but realizing that we need to do something now is pushing people even harder, as we have already damaged the climate permanently and there is worse to come.  Many big names were out there in the crowd along with everyday citizens to demand action in the UN Climate Summit in New York on Sept 23.

Leonardo DiCaprio made one of the best speeches I’ve heard in a long time, see here:

I think my other favorite video this week was Jon Stewart’s video Burn Noticed:

So now what? Well some great ideas were put up and set to be put in action. The Green Climate Fund, which was established in 2009, was set into place to help developing countries move away from fossil fuels; however, it has not been kept up with and is not meeting the goals set forth. Pledges were taken at this year’s Climate Summit to push this program further ahead; however, most of the wealthier countries, including the US, needs to get on the boat and make their pledge.

Carbon emissions were of course one of the largest topics. Countries including Ireland and Chile are working towards reducing their carbon emissions; however, we need large industrial countries such as China and India to jump on board to make a real impact. So are they doing this? 2014 Was the lowest coal consumption year in the past decade for China and they are working to lower their consumption even more. As for India, no one knows as they didn’t show up to discuss their input, but we will see in time what they do.

Food security was another hot topic on the list along with deforestation. Deforestation is on a track to be cut in half by 2020 and finally ended in 2030. Will there be forests or even trees left by 2030? I guess we will see. One of the worst deforestation is due to the Palm Oil industry; however, large companies are finally getting involved and making zero-deforestation pledges and deforestation-free sourcing of palm oil.

As for the future, The UK Prime Minister David Cameron wants leaders to strike a deal in Paris. He states “We must agree to a global deal in Paris next year, we simply cannot afford to put it off any longer.” Maybe this is a good idea, a yearly meeting instead of every 5 years; help keep everyone accountable of their actions and on track for a global change.

All in all, the rally helped raise awareness and showed the people’s support  for action as well as showing  the UN how much everyone (well most everyone) wants change to happen immediately. We all want a green and clean world for our children for generations to come, but we need to start somewhere. Every drop in the bucket towards making the world better is a step in the right direction.

For more information, check out: UN Climate Change Summit, Vice News, The Guardian, Mashable

Img Source: Grist

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Topics: Green Ideas, Fun Green Articles, Alternative Energy

Making a Switch: Is Your Business Able to Switch Electric Providers?

Posted by SEPCO

9/18/14 9:30 AM

SwitchSwitching electricity providers is possible now, but many businesses are hesitant because of some of the roadblocks that have been presented for other companies. Research is essential to understanding the plan and ensuring that you get good quality service from your provider. Here's what you need to know if you're considering switching: 

1. Only Customers of Licensed Retailers Can Switch

Your choice of electricity companies are only limited by the number of retailers available. If you're in an area with only one provider, then you have no choice but to select that provider. Some retailers will only supply to business customers. This could be an advantage for business owners. If you do have a choice, you're considered a "contestable customer."

2. Must Meet Certain Criteria to Switch

To switch, you must use more than 50 MWh of electricity per year. You may also qualify if your distributor is not Western Power. You cannot combine the amount of electricity you are using at each property to make yourself eligible as a contestable customer. If you use less than 50 MWh per year or pay less than $12,600 per year, and you are already connected to Western Power's network, you will not be allowed to switch. Any non-contestable customer in the SWIS network will receive electricity from Synergy. 

3. Find an Approved Provider

You must select a retailer that's been approved by the Economic Regulation Authority (ERA). The ERA website will list all of the retailers that have been approved to provide electricity to consumers. Contact these retailers when you decide which one is best for you. The new retailer will arrange the transfer on your behalf. Once you switch, your old retailer may not bill you for any electricity used. 

4. Always Ensure That You're Getting the Best Rate Possible

You want to ensure that you get the best rate possible at all times when you switch electricity providers, therefore shopping around is crucial. When you find the best rate, follow the procedures to switch. Most companies will require that you enter into a contract for a specified period of time. Once that time lapses, you're welcome to find another provider. 

Keep in mind that surveys have been conducted demonstrating the sentiment regarding this issue. When a group was surveyed, 413 had changed their power companies in the past three years, but only 52 percent were confident that they made the right choice. Comparing offers is not always easy, and there may be some hidden costs that you're unaware of until the bill comes. 

Every bill may have off-peak offers and peak-usage offers. Some companies offer discounts for on-time payments and others do not. You must know how you'll be affected before you make a decision. 

5. Be Aware of Unauthorised Switches

Five percent of people have been switched from one provider to another without authorization. For this reason, many people are sceptical of sales people when they knock on their doors and request a change. You must know at all times what the terms are and ensure that no person switches you without your permission. 

6. Most People Switch When They Move

Most people don't consider switching providers until they move. If they move to another location, they have more or sometimes, fewer options available. While a move may force you to switch providers, you should always perform due diligence to ensure that you are getting the best deal possible.

7. Beware of Penalties

If you're renting your building or apartment, be sure that your rental agreement coincides with the length of your electricity contract. If you break the contract before the agreed upon time, you may have to pay exorbitant fees. If you want to avoid fees and problems, you should ensure that if you are renting for a year, your contract with the electricity company should not exceed one year. 

Making the Switch Can Be Profitable 

If you remove all of the caveats, switching can be profitable. You can save more money that can be re-invested into your business. This is desirable to most people in this situation. While there are some organisations available to help you, they are more focused on helping residential consumers. Find the organisations that are willing to help you and avoid those that may switch you without your knowledge. In general, do not sign anything until you read it fully because you may be switching your electricity service without knowing it. Switching can be a good practice if it's executed properly. 

Author Bio: This article is written by Aidan Jenkins, Managing Director of Infinite Energy, business electricity provider to Perth and South West WA. Connect with Aidan on Google+ or LinkedIn.

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Topics: Guest Post, Green Ideas

Harness the Sun to Power Your Home

Posted by SEPCO

9/9/14 9:30 AM

SunThere has been a growing trend in recent years towards clean, renewable energy. Many consumers have explored the benefits of meeting some or all of their energy needs through renewable energy, such as wind or solar energy. One of the most common and popular options is the installation of home solar panels. When done properly, these solar panels can generate a large amount of electricity, greatly reducing the bill being paid to the electric company.

Over time, it is very possible for the investment in solar energy to pay for itself and more, all while being clean and renewable. The first consideration when looking in to solar panels is the upfront cost. Depending on the size of your house and the amount of energy you are looking to produce, this can be a sizable investment. In addition to investigating the cost of the panels themselves, you will want to look in to the cost of getting the panels installed on your roof and connected to your home's electrical system.

While it is possible to do the installation yourself, most consumers will want to hire professionals to make sure the job is done correctly the first time. The amount you pay for a professional installation can be significantly less than having to redo the project later. In certain areas, especially northern latitudes which gets fewer hours of sunlight, you may not generate enough energy through solar for it to be your only source of energy. Be sure to carefully monitor your energy usage to determine if you can get by with just solar energy, and reach out to other homeowners who have made the switch to solar. They will be able to give you an estimate on how much energy you can expect to generate through solar panels.

Other homeowners can also be an excellent resource on where to buy panels and how to install them. If need be, you can also look in to options such as wind, or see if your electric company offers any partial-year options; you may be able to use solar energy throughout the summer and just need the extra electricity during the winter months.

In addition to the actual installation, you will want to look in to any laws in your area regarding solar panels for homes. While solar panels are becoming increasingly prevalent, there may be rules or regulations which can come in to play in your particular case, so you will want to be aware of them. In addition to any laws, you will want to check with any homeowners association, landlord, or other entity which has any say in your home to make sure you can install your solar panels. It is also worth looking in to any tax credits you may qualify for by switching to solar energy.

About the AuthorShashank Kirloskar is a professional business analyst. Apart from his profession he is a freelance writer for Lancosolar.com. He loves writing and sharing articles related to solar energy and companies offering solar panel for homes and commercial buildings.

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Topics: Guest Post, Green Ideas, Solar Power

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle: What about Repair?

Posted by SEPCO

8/14/14 9:30 AM

Repair

I know since I was a little kid that we have been learning about the 3 R’s of living a more green life; Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. Something that seems to have fallen into the shadows many years ago is Repair. Instead of getting rid of that broken item, repair it to allow it to continue to be useful. A lot of things you can repair at home, others may have to be taken into a shop or have a technician look at it, but in almost all cases, the item can be repaired.

I came across this great article, The Forgotten ‘R’: Repair by Elizabeth Royte a while back and it got me thinking. How much stuff do I myself, a green professional and person, get rid of over the year that is broken but can actually be easily repaired? Now, instead of just throwing out that carpet shampooer that won’t do what it needs to, or the drawer of the fridge that is cracked, it is time to get out the tools and fix this stuff. If I can’t do it, I’m sure there is a repair shop somewhere in my town that can fix things.

One thing noticed in the article is the disappearance of repair shops. Manufacturers are making products that they want you to throw away once they break so that you purchase new products. There is something really wrong with this mentality. We have become a wasteful society, and with the increase of global warming and waste being a huge contributor to this, we should be looking for ways to reduce our impact by repairing items. Now, repair shops are starting again, popping up all over.

What to do with that item that just isn’t repairable, where no amount of glue, wiring, screws, etc. will ever make it perform the way it was intended again? We recently looked into Upcycling where you take unusable items and turn them into something new and amazing. If that item really can’t be repaired, look at it from a different angle and see what it may be able to become and breathe some new life into it. Save the unused tiles from a project and create a new top for that scratched up table that you don’t know what to do with. Go online; there are thousands of ideas all over the internet. Don’t know what to do with that broken item and don’t have the time to turn it into something new, advertise it on Craigslist or Freecycle and let someone else take a crack at it.

The takeaway: Let’s all work together to expand the iconic 3 R’s and add a forth by repairing items that break. 

photo credit: Daniel Y. Go
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Topics: Green Ideas, Fun Green Articles

Amazing Changes Happening Now for Sustainable Living: Renewable Energy

Posted by SEPCO

7/31/14 9:30 AM

Renewable-Energy

Renewable energy has been booming, especially in the last couple years. Renewable energy resources have been around for a long time; however, their popularity has increased with the ongoing movement towards trying to slow down global warming. There are many forms of renewable energy that have been used, developed and installed even as I write this. Here are the largest forms of renewable energy and a little bit about their usage today.

Solar Energy

We are a solar company so of course solar is our favorite. Solar panels provide energy during the day, from practically sun up to sun down. There is so much solar energy to be harvested, that like many statistics and memes say, so much solar energy hits the earth that if we could power the needs of the world for 25 years or more in a single day of sun. The only problem with that is creating enough solar panels to harvest all that energy and then storing the power so it can be accessed after the sun goes down; however, there are people working on energy storage as we speak. Solar energy can also be used for other applications such as water heating or heating a building / home.

Wind Energy

Wind energy can provide a ton of energy day and night as long as the wind is moving. Today’s wind power is generated by a windmill turning a turbine that generates power to feed electricity to power lines; however, wind power has been used in the past for grinding grain and pumping water. Wind farms can be installed in a large open area or offshore and provide a lot of power to nearby areas. Storage of this power is still being developed, just like solar power; however, seems to be a more popular approach to large scale power generation. New developments in wind power are being made to harness wind power when there is little wind and windmills that protect wildlife from harm.

Geothermal Energy

Geothermal power extracts steam from underground and uses that to power turbines to generate power. The water is extracted during this process and fed back under the Earth’s surface to generate more steam. The main drawback to this form of power generation is the steam can carry a mixture of gases that contribute to global warming, bad smells and acid rain. These gases need to be contained and not put into the atmosphere.

Hydropower & Tidal Energy

Both hydropower and tidal energy uses the natural flow of water to turn turbines to generate power. Dams have been set up on rivers and underwater windmill looking devices have been setup on shores to harness this power. Since tides are more predictable than the winds or sun, tidal power is growing in popularity as a great way to harness power; however, there is still controversy in changing the natural flow of water and disturbing natural habitats.

Every form of renewable energy has its pros and cons; however, by combining forces and utilizing each form to its capacity, we will one day be able to move towards a more sustainable world. Here in sunny south Florida, solar will always be my favorite source of energy. What is your favorite and why?
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Topics: Green Ideas, Alternative Energy, Renewable Energy

6 Questions to Ask Before Going Solar

Posted by SEPCO

7/24/14 9:30 AM

Before_Going_SolarAs with any investment, purchasing solar panels for your home is a decision that shouldn't be made lightly. You will need to consider many factors and avoid the numerous pitfalls. By hiring the right company and asking the right questions, you'll be able to benefit greatly from solar panels.

It is important to decide if having solar panels installed on your house is the right decision for your situation wants and needs. Solar panels offer many impressive benefits, but there are other factors to consider. We take a look at what questions you should ask before you make the switch, and the pitfalls to avoid.

1. Is the company and brand of solar panels you’re considering reputable?

You should ask the companies if they use a reputable brand of solar panels. If you can't find much information about the brand or manufacturer, then you shouldn't use those particular types of solar panels. The solar company you go through should have fully trained employees, with skilled technicians and installers to help you with the process.

Don’t be afraid to ask how long the company has been in the business. An established company that has served many customers with a portfolio of work and testimonials tends to be a company that you’re able to trust and relay on. Years of satisfied customers means good work and a reputable company will be more than willing to show off their good work and previous clientele.

In the solar business, there are unfortunately many people trying to sell cheaply made solar panels and rip customers off. Opting for a cheaper solution or a company that doesn’t appear reputable will only lead to inexperienced installer doing the job for you, additional and costly repairs, and a service that won’t follow up on you and the product after it’s installed.

By concentrating on quality above anything else and working with the right company, you’ll be able to determine whether solar panels is a good investment for your home and avoid costly mistakes.

2. Should you lease or buy solar panels?

Depending on your goals, there difference between purchasing your own solar panels and leasing can vary dramatically. Because every homeowner has different goals, the “right” payment option for each person can change.

Whilst the initial cost of purchasing solar panels yourself can be expensive, most homeowners prefer to do so. The ongoing savings on power bills solar panels offer ensure the initial expensive of them are paid off in 10 years, depending on the home. Cash rebates can also reduce the cost of the system by 10%-50% and with government incentives in place, tends to be the better option for most people.

For those that choose to lease solar panels, the long-term financial benefits will be less than those of purchasing. The advantage though is that the upfront costs are lower and any maintenance or repairs become responsibility of the leasing company, not you. Lease terms are generally for 20 years but some can range from 10-20. To find out what option is best for you, it’s best to speak with the solar power company about your specific situation.

3. Does the cost outweigh the benefits?

There is no point in investing in something that doesn’t serve you and so weighing up the cost and benefits is crucial. For homeowners that haven’t yet experienced the benefits of solar power firsthand, making the switch can be fairly daunting with the costs involved.

On the brightside though, (pun intended) the savings through solar power are significant – not to mention the environmental impact it has too. Over the last few years, everyone has fallen victim to the ongoing utility costs on the rise and we’re all looking for ways to cut down on how much we spend. Installing solar powers and taking advantage of the sun’s energy is one of the best ways to do this.

Government incentives and tax breaks sweeten the deal for homeowners wanting solar a little more, the system and panels add value to your home and the sustainable energy is a growing and beneficial industry. Whilst the initial cost can seem like disadvantage, solar power systems are one investment that will pay off and give years of enjoyment. Always ask your solar company to go through the individual costs with you. You can bring a copy of the last few utility bills too to determine if the cost will really outweigh the benefits in your home.

4. What is the type of panel mounting system that’ll be used?

Understanding the type of panel mounting system for your home, and the materials it’s made of will ensure you’re getting a durable system. Look for mounting systems that are made from either stainless steel or aluminium.

When solar panels are installed, the mounting system is what balances everything and holds it into place. Check with the company whether roof mounts, ground mounts or pole mounts would be best for your home and how this can impact on the system quality and price. The most common style of system mounting is on the roof and this is held together by metal brackets between the solar panels and roof to ensure the panels do not overheat.

5. Will you be able to produce enough power in your location?

The biggest advantage of solar power is that it relies on the sun for its power source, making it absolutely free. But, this would be pretty useless if your sun gets little to no sun right? Cloudy days can be an issue and locations that suffer all year round winters can be very indecisive about making the switch.

To accommodate for lack of sun, a large number of solar powers can be needed to produce greater amounts of electricity. This can require more roof space and money so it’s best to check with your company if this will affect you.  If you’re unsure, ask a reputable solar power company. Most companies will come to your home and conduct a site examination, including shade analysis which helps to determine whether solar is the best solution for you.

6. How long will the solar panels last for?

No homeowner wants to fork out money for an investment that won’t last the distance. This is why choosing a company that is reputable and trustworthy, and that uses quality a product is of the upmost importance. 

The lifespan of solar panels depends on several factors including the quality of the materials, and the specific manufacturer. Look for products that come with a long warranty, and this shows the manufactures commit and belief in the product. Companies that offer only a few years warranty on their products is best to stay away from, you should be looking at least 10 years.  A durable and reliable solar panel inverter and mounting system will last the distance.

Author Bio: This article is written by Aidan Jenkins , Managing Director of Infinite Energy, Australia’s market leader in quality solar power systems. 

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Topics: Guest Post, Green Ideas, Solar Power, Clean Energy, Off Grid Solar PV

Amazing Changes Happening Now for Sustainable Living: Tiny House

Posted by SEPCO

7/17/14 9:30 AM

Tiny-HomeHomes have become larger and more spacious as time progresses; however, there is a new movement away from those expensive and inefficient homes towards tiny houses. This is great for single people or small families that want to utilize every inch of their home and have more freedom than we’ve had in years. Instead of spending $450k, more and more people are opting to spend $30k or less to build a tiny house that they can even pick up and move wherever life takes them.

Tiny homes are on a huge up rise. These homes range from under 100 sq ft to around 350 sq ft. It is amazing what you can do when you slim down all your “stuff” to your most basic needs, compact your requirements to fit into such a small place, and then build the most functional, multipurpose spaces you could even imagine. There are many benefits to a tiny house including environmental friendliness, easier to clean and cheaper to heat and cool.

Tiny homes can be powered by traditional grid by plugging in to a power outlet, or be completely off grid by installing solar power. Since these homes are so efficient, they do not require a lot of power and only need a 1k solar system or less to completely power the requirements of the home. This combined with some propane or other form of fuel for heating and cooking is about the only costs associated with living in a tiny home.

There are tons of resources available online if you are interested in building a tiny home. You can purchase complete blueprints to just inspirational ideas to create your own unique custom design. Make it as functional as possible to fit exactly what you would need and listing the most important features to the least important to get the most from the space.

If you have a family, maybe you can’t build your tiny house on the back of a trailer like some mobile tiny homes; however, you can still stay with the smaller ideals and have plenty of room for everyone. Or live in an urban area; turn your studio into a lot more by maximizing its design. There are so many options that allow you to live more efficiently in less space than ever before. You just have to look around and get your creative juices flowing to find what would fit your lifestyle best.

What are some of your favorite tiny home resources, ideas and designs? Share them with us in the comments.

Img Credit: Over Grow the System

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Topics: Green Ideas, Fun Green Articles

Amazing Changes Happening Now for Sustainable Living: Fair Trade

Posted by SEPCO

7/3/14 9:30 AM

I-Supporting-FairtradeFair trade is starting to become more popular all over the world. Purchasing products from farmers and workers who are compensated fairly and work for companies that have sustainable business models helps everyone from the top down. Purchasing fair trade also has a great impact on the local communities where the products are being produced. Many organizations are working together to help with the fair trade movement. Here are some of the ways that you can help.

Purchasing Fair Trade Items

Fair Trade USA network certifies coffee, tea and herbs, cocoa, fresh fruit and vegetables, sugar, beans and grains, flowers, nuts, oils and butters, honey and spices, wine and apparel, and certified ingredients are now used in ready-to-drink beverages, body care products and spirits. These products are available in over 50,000 retail locations including big box stores you already shop at. Looking for the logo on your favorite type of products will ensure you are purchasing from a fair trade company. You will typically receive a better product while helping someone in the end.

The World Fair Trade Organization also works with producers, marketers, exporters, importers, wholesalers and retailers for their products. They make sure companies adhere to their 10 WFTO principles of fair trade in their daily operations and demonstrate 100% commitment to fair trade. Looking for their logo on products will ensure that you are purchasing a product coming from a fair trade company, no matter where in the world they are located.

Certify Your Products as Fair Trade

Certifying your products as fair trade means that you adhere to higher standards in your products production. Not every product is on the fair trade list; however, the more companies that list their products, the larger this movement will become and the more socially aware companies will become. Contact the local fair trade organizations and see how you can get involved.

Difference between Fair Trade and Free Trade

Free trade is an economic theory where marketable items can flow without government intervention. Fair trade helps free trade work for the world’s poor by paying everyone from the bottom up a fair cost on their product. These two systems work hand and hand to ensure that, especially in developing areas, people are being allowed to improve their lives by earning a decent wage for their products.

What Difference Will This Actually Make

If we all work together to start purchasing more fair trade products, companies that do not follow these standards will move towards a more socially aware way of doing business. Just like buying organic produce versus other produce will not have immediate impact, but as time goes on, more and more options will become available and more companies will join in the change.

What are your thoughts on the fair trade movement?

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Topics: Green Ideas, Fun Green Articles, Conservation

Go Green for the 4th of July

Posted by SEPCO

7/1/14 9:30 AM

Going green is great to do every day of the year but with the 4th of July being a popular holiday for friends and family to celebrate with picnics, fireworks and maybe even a pool party these are some ways to think about doing it.

green_4th_uncle_sam

First things first, when it comes to picnics the easiest thing to do is instead of using all those disposable plates, cups and utensils opt for a more eco-friendly option They may be convenient for party guest but they are not so great for the planet. The best solution to this would be to use normal tableware that can be washed and reused. If you must go the disposable route try to clean them up after use.  Another option would be to shop for biodegradable tableware. These sometimes cost a little extra but leaving a cleaner environment for our future is worth the extra pennies. If you are using water bottles instead of plastic cups be sure to opt for reusable bottles instead of the usual bottled water from the local store. If you do use them be sure to recycle them instead of just tossing them in the regular garbage.  Speaking of reusable try to use reusable bags to bring all those dishes and food to the party, don’t forget them when you go to the store to buy your supplies either.

green_utensils

The next thing seems like an easy and obvious idea but try to eat organic and buy local. This helps because organic food does not use pesticides which in turn leave fewer chemicals in the air, water and our bodies. By buying locally you know that your food has not been altered to preserve it and also has not had to be trucked across the U.S to be delivered to the local grocery store, not to mention is supports the local economy. In fact if the entire U.S were to eat vegetarian for 1 day it would save an estimated 100 billion gallons of water and 70 million gallons of gas. We are not saying do not eat meat but if you do make sure you buy genuine grass-fed beef which is not loaded with antibiotics and is easier to digest. Don’t forget to buy some organic beer as well and bring out the juicer for the kids.

The third item on the list is how we are going to cook all of the food for the party. When I first thought about this I thought the obvious answer was to use charcoal, but after doing some research the better option is actually propane. This is because charcoal is usually made from mesquite trees that have to be cut down contributing to deforestation and also using of fuel for transport. Charcoal also releases more CO2 into the air; it is actually almost 3 times more than propane. As always with propane make sure you choose the trade-in option which will allow you to exchange your empty tank for a new one and usually will get you a discount. If you would still rather use the charcoal for the flavor aspect look for a sustainably-produced briquette which are made from industrial scrap wood or are produced using clean-energy turbines. Did you know that if you rub the racks of your grill with onion it actually helps food to not stick better than that chemical spray that most of us use?  No matter which form of cooking you are using try to cook as much food as possible at once since this will make it more efficient not to mention you will be able to spend more time with friends and less time standing over a hot grill.

sky_orbs

Who could forget the best part of the 4th of July, the fireworks? Now we could go on and on about how fireworks leave many things in the air that pollute the environment but let’s be realistic this is the one thing we look forward to when we think of Independence Day.  A way to help make less impact of those 4th of July fireworks is to go in groups to a local fireworks show and not buy your own to shoot off at home. Not only can this be dangerous but if every household were to shoot off their own it would be that much more smoke and chemicals being released. If you would still rather stay home there are some companies making perchlorate-free fireworks or you could use sky orbs. Sky Orbs can be lit at night and an added perk is that they are biodegradable.  Speaking of going in a group if you were to car pool to the show you would help by only using one or two car versus everyone driving individually.

Our last recommendation is to basically just get outside. Being outside helps reduce the use of electricity and also lets you just enjoy mother nature. Use the available day light for the start of your party and the cooking part then when nightfall comes and the bugs start to come out opt for a green solution for bug repellent. There are plenty of Eco-friendly bug repellents on the market and you could even make you own. An easy recipe for your own repellent is a combination of a few essential oils like lavender, mint, lemongrass and even basil. Mix the oils with either an oil, like coconut oil for oil based repellent and alcohol or witch hazel for water base one. As far as keeping the area around you bug free grow plants like marigolds, lemon basil, or catnip. Buy soy based candles instead of the regular paraffin ones at most stores.  During the day don’t forget the sunscreen and try to pick out a brand that is Eco-friendly or cover up as much as possible. If you want to take a dip to cool off try to find a natural body of water like a beach or a nearby lake versus going to a pool, which uses a lot of water. Decorate with natural items like flowers or string some berries. Also try to save whatever decorations you can so they can used again next year.

happy_4th_2

While I could go on with this list I will stop here. The most important part of this holiday is to remember why we celebrate and share it with friends and family and do your part to make sure that the generations to come can do so as well. We here at SEPCO would like to thank all of our veteran and current military as well as wish everyone a happy and safe 4th of July.

 

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Topics: Green Ideas, Fun Green Articles, Holiday, Conservation

Tips for Maintaining Small Solar Walkway Lights

Posted by SEPCO

6/24/14 9:30 AM

battery_for_walkway_lightsNow that summer is upon us some of you are digging out those solar lights to put along the sidewalk again to make a nice shining light on your walkway. So you put them all in the ground let them charge the whole day only to find out that night that most of them don’t work and the ones that do are very dim and not doing much. Even though they don’t cost much who wants to go out every summer and buy new lights, I know I don’t.

Working in the solar industry we sell batteries with our systems, so it would only make sense that these lights would take batteries too. Upon some investigations of my walkway lights I found some screws in the bottom of them, and me being the tinkering type of person, decided to see just how these little lights worked. What I found upon removing the screws was simply a little AA battery. I guess it never occurred to me that all I would have to do to fix these lights is just replace the battery inside and the next night when dawn came upon us my lights were working again.  Replacing all the batteries in my lights only cost as much as it would have cost to replace about 2 of the lights I currently had. 

nail_polish_on_lightsAnother quick tip that I found is that if the lights are still not bright after replacing the batteries you can try to put some more life into the cell itself. Looking at my own I noticed the plastic on the top looked a little cloudy, this would prevent the sun from being able to give a full charge to the battery. After looking into it I found a really neat idea that made sense so I tried it. I got out some clear nail polish and put a thin coat on top of the solar cells and once again they looked shiny and new like the day I bought them.

I really don’t know how much longer this will extend the life of my lights but it has saved me money for at least one more summer. I think the elements alone will probably affect the lights before they go out themselves so I guess we will see.

pathway_lights

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Topics: Green Ideas, Fun Green Articles, Pathway Lighting

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