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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

How to Go Green without Really Trying

Posted by SEPCO

3/20/14 9:30 AM

Going green might seem like a complicated, cumbersome ideal that’s just a little too far out of your comfort zone. But it’s not something that has to take a lot of energy if you don’t have a lot to expend. Here are a few simple ways to go green without really trying.

Buy the Right Light Bulbs

This is a simple enough way to go a little greener all over the house. When you need to replace the light bulbs in your home, do yourself a favor and buy the florescent bulbs instead of the standard. They use 75% less energy than the incandescent variety and last much, much longer. They might be a little pricier up front, but they’ll more than pay for themselves—and your home will be a little greener for it.

Watch Water Use

Next time your showerheads need to be replaced, go for the low-flow option. You’ll conserve water in a big way, which will reduce your water bill as well as be environmentally friendly.

Teach your children to brush their teeth with the water off. Letting the water run while they scrub wastes an inordinate amount of water (up to five gallons a day) that could be saved simply by twisting the tap.

Only run the washing machine and dishwasher when they’re completely full. Half-loads aren’t as efficient, and you’ll end up running more loads than necessary.

Turn_off_ComputerTurn It Off

When you finish with your electronics for the night, turn them off. Unplug printers, computers, the TV, the DVD player, etc. If you can, plug them all into a power strip and then just switch it off every night before you go to bed. Turning off the devices all the way will prevent phantom power draw.

So instead of just leaving your laptop open and running, put it to sleep if you’re going to be away from it for a while. Turn off your phone at night instead of leaving it on all night to waste battery life. It will hardly take an effort on your part, and it’s just that much greener.                                                   

Permeable Paving

Your house can and should be just as green as your lifestyle. That isn’t to say that you need to install solar panels (although these are getting to be both more plausible and popular) or live in a tree house, but it can still be environmentally friendly. Next time you need to get your driveway repaved, consider forgoing the traditional asphalt or concrete and having permeable paving installed instead by your local paving company. Vancouver and Minnesota residents might need to have their roads repaved more often than cities in warmer climates, but the idea is the same no matter where you live.

Permeable paving is made of substances such as glass or permeable concrete that allow water to filter through it, keeping the surrounding lawns moist. They cool faster and require little maintenance. These materials are a little pricier but might be worth it in your quest for simple ways to go green.

Grow_a_GardenGrow a Garden

This idea takes a little more work, but if you plan on growing a garden anyway, you’re not any worse for wear. If you’ve been toying with the idea of planting a garden and just haven’t gotten around to it, make 2014 the year you try.

Gardens are an excellent way to “go green.” It doesn’t have to take up half your yard—any size, even a few tomato plants in pots, will make your meals a little healthier and reduce your “carbon footprint.”

Slow Down

When you drive, slow down a little. Higher speeds use more gas, so if you can afford to take a little extra time on your morning commute, it might be worth it. Checking the air pressure in your tires on a regular basis will also contribute to better gas mileage, as will keeping your air filters clean. Consider carpooling to work if you can to reduce emissions. None of these changes are life-altering, but the positive benefits add up.

Green Grocery Shopping

When you shop, spend the extra cash to buy natural or organic goods. They’re not as cheap as the produce grown with chemicals and hormones, but raising awareness of the health and environmental benefits of organically grown foods will make a difference.

Bring your own bags to carry your groceries. Reduce your use of paper and plastic bags (that only go straight to the landfills after you trash them at home). You can find cloth bags anywhere—many grocery stores even sell them in an effort to promote greener living.

Remember: your entire lifestyle doesn’t have to change to go green. Just be aware of the little things, and before you know it, you’ll be living just a little greener. 

About the Author: Georgiah Cook has a passion for finance, education, and the environment. She recently had her own driveway repaved, which set her on another “green” streak. For more information, visit Superior Paving. Georgiah also loves biking, hiking, and people-watching at the beach.

Pics: Wiki Acer, Wiki Garden

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Topics: Guest Post, Green Ideas, Fun Green Articles, Conservation, Recycling

Recent Advances In Green Technology

Posted by SEPCO

3/13/14 9:30 AM

Solar_System

Attempting to make the world an improved and pollution-free place to live is not a straightforward task, and there are no settled principles. This is one of the tests we confront when making, executing and depending on different sources of energy; since no single source of energy is 100% 'clean'. Nonetheless, year-after-year we continue to make great strides along the difficult road to environmentally responsible energy sources.

As temperatures increases and population gets bigger, it’s clear that green engineering holds the way to the survival of Earth and all the species that live on it. Luckily, innovators all around the globe are endeavoring to create headways that will slow down or perhaps reduce the harm caused due to our over-reliance on fossil-powers.

According to Liberty Power, in a few cases, progress in green technology is dependent upon new discoveries and developments in science, physics and engineering. On the other hand, these advancements have been dead set generally by shift in thought processes. However, the thought of "green’’ is gaining popularity among people.

Several recent innovations are based on a century-old concept: that of using tidal power to generate electricity. Harnessing this renewable resource is rapidly becoming more practical and cost-effective. In the area of solar power, the use of copper-indium-gallium-selenide compounds in solar panels substantially increases the electrical power generating efficiency of these panels, plus the compounds make construction of the panels far easier. Bladeless wind turbine designs, based on the physics of ships sails, are expected to significantly reduce the number of deaths of birds and bats. Wind turbine technology is also continuing to evolve.

Some innovative advancement in green technology are as follows:

Marine Renewable Energy: Marine renewable energy works by harnessing the power of the ocean tides and currents; a continuous source of kinetic energy that can be used to power turbines which in turn produce electricity.

Solar Power: The sun provides enough energy in the form of light to supply the world with much more energy than we currently use globally.  Certain materials produce an electric current when exposed to light, and we can harness that current to generate electricity.

Algae-Based Biofuel: Algae is a simple organism ranging from single-celled to multi-cellular forms, and is typically thought of as a kind of plant due to its ability to perform photosynthesis. Using chemical and mechanical methods, oil can be extracted from algae and converted into fuel that acts in the same way as traditional petroleum fuels

Green Roof: Different countries are rapidly adopting idea of keeping their roofs planted with grass. It not only minimizes the heat effect but also reduce summer air conditioning usage.

With this transformation in green technology it is expected that we would not only be able to generate enough energy to fulfill our needs but also keep our planet safe and healthy.

Author’s Bio: Adam Prattler is an expert in geography and writes from time to time for different information sources. He is also fond of natural beauty so much that he prefers to have fake grass around his house since natural cannot grow.

Photo Credit: www.greenerideal.com

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Topics: Guest Post, Green Ideas, Solar Power, Renewable Energy

Uses for Discharge Lamps

Posted by SEPCO

2/20/14 9:30 AM

lampWhat are some of the main uses for discharge lamps? This type of lamp involves an internal electrical discharge being created between two electrodes in a gas filled chamber; the level of intensity generated by a discharge lamp can vary, and can range from low level wattage bulbs through to extreme intensities that can be used for filling large areas with light. There are consequently many different uses for discharge lamps. It’s worth looking at these uses and the kinds of discharge lamps available, in more detail. 

Discharge lamps can be highly effective at maintaining luminosity for an extended period of time. Their applications extend across a range of domestic and commercial areas, and are affected by the type of gas being used. For example, mercury discharge lamps can provide particularly high levels of brightness for outdoor use, as can sodium lights, which can produce the orange glow seen on street lamps. Fluorescent lights can also be used to create low pressure and constant levels of luminosity. 

Some of the other common uses for discharge lamps include neon signs, whereby electrodes are used with tubing to create different letters and graphics; the process of creating a neon light is fairly complex, and involves glassblowing and setting up different colors. Neon or mercury vapor with some argon elements are the common components for these tubes, which require high voltage sources to be able to run efficiently. 

In the case of high intensity discharge lamps, outdoor arenas can be lighted using lamps with extremely high voltages; lumen bulbs can also be used for smaller outdoor areas and warehouses, as well as on roadways to create long lasting, high intensity illumination. Indoor gardening can also be aided by the use of low intensity discharge lamps, as can underwater diving and bicycle headlamps, with each use employing different levels of intensity. 

When setting up discharge lamps, it’s necessary to fit a control gear, which acts as a transformer for the amount of charge passing through a bulb or tube. There are several different types of control gears available, which can include inductive control gears and electronic control gears, with the latter capable of limiting the amount of current passing through a lamp. Control gears can similarly be used to ignite lamps, and represent an important way of maintaining health and safety levels for different devices. 

Whatever the usage of a discharge lamp, it’s crucial to be able to understand the different amounts of current and voltage that’s being used; high intensity discharge lamps are particularly susceptible to overheating, and should be carefully monitored using iron ballasts and control gears. Lamps that contain sodium and mercury can also present a toxic risk, and should be carefully disposed of if they break. To this end, it’s important to make sure that you read up on the different types of discharge lamps available from suppliers before committing to a particular power level.

Author Bio:Tom Darnell blogs about effective lighting solutions for your home and his experiences as an electrician. He recommends using BLTDirect to pick up the latest discharge lamps. 

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Topics: General Lighting, Guest Post

23 Fun Facts about Solar Panels: All That You Need To Know

Posted by SEPCO

2/20/14 9:30 AM

solar-panel-house1. A solar panel is a set of photovoltaic modules, electrically connected assembly of solar cells. It is mounted on a supporting structure and can be used as a system to generate electricity in residential and commercial applications.

2. Each module ranges for 100 to 320 watts, rated by DC output power under STC. The efficiency determines the area of a module given the rated output.

3. Most of the installations contain multiple solar modules as a single module can produce a limited amount of energy.

4. A photovoltaic system includes an array of solar modules or a panel, an inverter, a solar tracer or battery, interconnecting wiring.

5. There are two types of solar panels: one produces electricity (photovoltaic), another collects heat (thermal).

6. Solar shingles look like ordinary asphalt roof shingles, and it can be used to avoid the unpleasant look of traditional panels.

7. Micro inverters perform better than normal panels for they work independently.

8. Solar modules use photons from sunlight to generate electricity through photovoltaic effect.

9. Cells are generally protected from moisture and mechanical damage.

10. Most of the solar modules are rigid; but based on thin film cells, semi-flexible ones are available.

11. The conducting wires are connected to each other and to rest of the system, to achieve a desired output voltage.

12. Bypass diodes are incorporated to maximize output of module sections.

13. Some recent designs include concentrators to enable the usage at high cost per unit area in a cost-effective way. Modules can also produce electricity from a range of frequencies of light beams, but this usually does not cover the entire range. They can give higher efficiencies when illuminated with monochromatic light.

14. Another design splits the light into different wavelength ranges and directs the beams onto different cells. The efficiency can be improved by studding the semiconductor surface.

15. Use of aluminum over gold or silver is preferred as it can bring down the cost and improve efficiency.

16. Monocrystalline and polycrystalline modules are currently produced for better performance.

17. Third generation prefers advanced thin-film cells. Compared to other solar technologies, they produce relatively high-efficiency conversion for low cost. They can be rigid or flexible. Flexible films are portable and lighter than rigid films, and resistant to breakage than ordinary crystalline ones.

18. The requirement for commercial and residential purpose is different. Residential needs can be packaged and are simple whereas commercial arena uses complex parabolic reflectors. This is becoming the dominant technology in different fields and aspects of life.

19. Smart solar modules make use of power optimizers and this technology maximizes the harvest of photovoltaic energy. Modules must withstand natural calamities. Manufacturers guarantee electricity production for 10 years at 90% and 25 years at 80% rated power output.

20. Nominal voltage allows users to assure the compatibility of a module with a system. The actual voltage output changes due to lightning and temperature. Some parts of it are recyclable including semiconductor materials, glass, and ferrous or non-ferrous substances.

21. 80% of incoming weight can be recovered from silicon based modules, 90% to 95% from non-silicon based modules are recovered.

22. There has been systematic reduction in price of cells. Pricing information can be of three categories: small quantity, mid-range and large quantity buyers.

23. Rooftop installations supply power directly to electricity user.

About the Author: Shashank 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, Solar Power

20 Small Eco-Friendly Steps to Save Money Long Term

Posted by SEPCO

1/30/14 9:30 AM

business_(more)_eco_friendlyIn the current tough economic climate, people often leave environmental concerns by the wayside. Most directors don’t consider steps to turn eco-friendly as essential to the running of the company. Trimming costs often takes priority over anything else – however, what most don’t realise is that lowering expenses and turning eco-friendly are not mutually exclusive processes.

This is a misconception that is really costing our planet (and your bottom line). After you’ve read the following tips, taking the steps to turn your business into an eco-friendly powerhouse will seem like an absolute no brainer. These investments will not only help the environment, but you’ll be saving your business truckloads of money. Sure, some require an initial investment but over time you will make that money back multiple times over.

1. Minimize Printing
Try and instil a culture where printing is used as a last resort. Encourage your employees to communicate by email, send meeting notes as Word documents and send faxes online instead of using a dedicated fax machine.

2. Use Environmentally-Friendly Paper
Let’s face it; we can’t completely eradicate printing. If you still find yourself having to hit that Print button, make sure you’re using the right kind of paper. Don’t just look for a random recycling logo (it’s often just a gimmick), but instead opt for PCW paper as it’s guaranteed to be made with fully recycled materials.

3. Print Double-Sided Documents
Encourage your employees to utilize as much paper as possible before discarding into the garbage or recycling bin. This can reap many benefits in paper consumption and costs.

4. Use Biodegradable Soaps & Cleaners
Not only is this much better for the environment, but also for the general safety of your workers. Cleaning products that are more natural with minimal ingredients may also prove to be cheaper in costs as well.

5. Utilize Plants in Your Office Space
At a glance, this may seem like a visual aesthetic (which yes, it may help with), but in terms of health benefits, it may be advantageous. Plants carry natural pollen and allergenic absorbents that help workers breathe easier and become less sick, especially during allergy season.

6. Buy Energy Star Appliances
New appliances have placed energy consumption at the forefront, cutting down on environment impact. Invest in Energy Star appliances that will cut down your bills, even if they are a little expensive. Over time, it’s worth it.

7. Renewable Energy
While it is true that installations such as solar panels will require an initial outlay, you will save your company money over time. If you’re not in a place that gets a lot of sunlight, your options aren’t completely limited. You can also consider using wind power, for instance. It’s staggering just how efficient these systems can be.

8. Use LED or CFL Lights
While initially a little pricier, LED and CFL lights last much longer than your standard light bulb. Not only that, they use far less energy as well. Per bulb, you can save a staggering $200 over its lifetime. Even though you’ll be spending a significantly higher chunk right off the bat, it’s still a sound financial decision.

9. Turn off Lights & Electronics When Not Needed
A large portion of businesses are guilty of this one by leaving on lights and computers on a continuous basis, without thinking of the ramifications. Something as easy as turning off the light in a room not in use is a simple act that people tend to forget. Putting our computers to sleep (or completely shutting them off) at the end of each work day can also help us in saving up on energy bills.

10. Ensure Efficient Heating & Cooling For Office Space
This relates to the overall energy consumption of your office. Make sure that your building is up to code and is well-insulated during cold winters and/or hot summers. A well-insulated space ensures that you use less energy, saving an enormous amount on energy billing.

11. Consider an Energy Audit
Some managers consider energy audits to part of new-age mumbo jumbo, but they’re actually extremely beneficial. Consultants that work for these companies know exactly where businesses can make changes to save money and benefit the environment at the same time.

12. Conserve Water
Do your part in conveying to your employees the importance of water conservation. This can help with costs by restricting any over-usage. It is also a good idea to keep an eye out for any leaks and areas of your facility that don’t need water access; in which case you can consider turning the supply off for.

13. Carpooling
If most of your employees drive into the office using their own cars, there is a lot of room for improvement. Carpooling is also a good way for your staff members to get to know each other a bit better on the way to work.

14. Public Transportation & Bikes
Try and encourage people to use these alternative means of transportation. This can increase the reduction of your company’s carbon footprint and over time, save everyone money.

15. Use Green Web Hosting
Green web hosts are companies that take part in a plethora of green initiative, such as planting of trees, utilizing renewable energy sources, and implementing carbon offsets within their operations. These companies are capable of hosting your websites at the same costs (and sometimes less) than the majority of other companies that rely on fossil fuels.

16. Working from Home
If at all possible, have your employees work from home if their jobs involved mainly computer-based tasks. Not only does this increase productivity, but it can save operating costs to the company.

17. Online Queries
Directing your customers to fill out online forms for general questions and queries may help your team work more efficiently by dealing with less physical paper. Additionally, website pages that list frequently asked questions may also compliment this sort of approach.

18. Utilize Video Conferencing
With the growth of technology over the past several years, the use of video conferencing has skyrocketed due to its efficiency and reliability. Not only will you reduce the costs of flying your employees from place-to-place, but you’ll have peace of mind knowing that both money AND time was spared…. It is truly an efficient use of a web application for businesses worldwide.

19. Refurbishing Furniture
This is a great alternative to those looking to purchase new office furniture. Consider the possibility of re-purposing old chairs and tables if possible to tremendously cut costs, while at the same time giving your space a breath of fresh air.

20. Buy Used
If you do, in fact, decide to buy new office furniture, it might also be a great idea to try buy second-hand, via online classified ads. You would be saving a dramatic amount and at the same time re-cycling someone else’s things.

Final Word: One Step at a Time
Becoming an eco-friendly business from one day to the next is impossible, but that’s no reason to put it off ad infinitum. Simple steps can turn into massive savings over time and your environment will thank you.

About the Author: Mark is a green conscious man, and thinks all companies should have an environmentally conscious business model and achieve profit at the same time.

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Topics: Guest Post, Green Ideas, Fun Green Articles, Conservation

Sneaky Energy Suckers to Watch out for in Your Home This Winter

Posted by SEPCO

1/23/14 9:30 AM

Watch-out-forWe’ve all the seen the “rate-suckers” from the recent spate of Progressive car insurance commercials—have you ever thought about the things that could be doing that to the energy efficiency of your home?

Here are three big energy suckers to watch out for this winter—and how to prevent them from leeching money out of your wallet via your utilities bill.

The Lights You Leave On

Ideally, yes, you would never leave a light on when you’re not at home to enjoy what you’ll eventually pay for. However, the world is not a wish-granting factory. There will be situations when lights, intentionally or otherwise, are left on. Sometimes they have to be—an older house’s porch light can’t be wired for motion and has to stay lit in order to deter burglars while you’re out, maybe even some lights on in the house to further the illusion. And no matter how vigilant and careful you are, there will be the times when you leave a light on at home on your way out to work or fall asleep with the closet light on.

Make sure energy-efficient bulbs are in all the lights in your home. Even if you didn’t like them years ago because of the light spectrum or buzzing, rejoice: there are models on the market for every taste and every fixture.

The Structural Integrity of Your Home

Aside from the usual signs of a major structural problem—flooding, a gaping leak in the ceiling, etc.—you need to check to make sure that there aren’t other, subtler gaps in your outside walls.

The caulking around window and doorframe seals is a big thing to check for; you could lose hundreds of dollars in energy costs each year as your money is literally sucked out the window. If you didn’t catch this as fall turned to winter, that’s okay—it’s never too late to strengthen your defense against the biggest winter energy sucker of all: winter itself.

Another problem that needs to be taken care of immediately when detected is a carpenter ant or termite colony. They don’t pay to enjoy the warmth of your home or the food your wood provides them—and they’re costing you as the warm air you pay so dearly for seeps out to their colonies, which forces your heater (and wallet) to work harder. If you do find evidence of carpenter ants, termites, or other burrowing insects colonizing your home, call an exterminator; whether you have termites in Long Island or carpenter ants in San Diego, this is not a problem you should try to DIY. Save it for the professionals to get your home solid and structurally sound once again as soon as possible.

The Insulation: Out of Sight, Out of Mind, and Out of Time

Especially if you’ve been in your home for over 8 years, look into replacing the insulation with something that will hold in even more heat for greater overall energy efficiency.

Determine the R-value in your neck of the woods (if you search something like “insulation r value for” and your town/state, the internet has many handy maps and charts to help you); this will determine the variety of insulation you buy. Then, measure the distance between your studs and head to a home improvement store to buy the insulation width and variety you need (it will be likely closer to either a 15” wide or 23” roll).

Once you’re home with the rolls, cut pieces to fit about an inch wider than the cavities between your studs—but don’t fold it to double it as that will mess with the R-value.  You can either use some natural friction or a trusty staple gun to hold the insulation in place. The exception here is floor insulation, for which you will also need to pick up some wire insulation fasteners.

And be sure to wear protection in the form long sleeves, gloves, and eye protection. I helped a friend build her house last fall, and I can attest that if insulation foam makes contact with bare skin it can create a powerful, unenviable itching reaction.

With these fixes made, you can enjoy a winter with a lower power bill—energy suckers aren’t welcome here!

About the Authro: Lucy Markham is an avid blogger and researches with companies such as Suburban Exterminating. Lucy, as a recent homeowner, considers herself a bit of an expert on all things home improvement, gardening, and home decoration.

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Topics: Guest Post, Green Ideas

Renewable Energy is Everywhere: Hotels Leading the Way

Posted by SEPCO

12/10/13 9:30 AM

Green_HotelThrough wind energy, solar energy, biofuels, geothermal industry and reuse methods, the world is changing to renewable energy and resourceful methods of handling waste. Just by looking at the travel industry, you can see how innovative some of the companies have become. It's necessary that this happens, and many businesses across world markets are realizing the rapidly increasing market for renewable energy. By looking at some of the businesses in the travel industry, it's easier to see how far technology has come and how much other businesses could contribute by adopting these sustainable energy methods.

Generating Power Through Wind Energy

A number of hotels across the US have changed over to wind turbines in favor of reducing energy costs. The Hilton of Fort Lauderdale has six turbines on the rooftop of their hotel, which has gained a lot of press and attention for being one of the only hotels in Florida to use wind energy. The hotel has said that more green changes are to come in the future.

New Solar Power Technology

There are a lot of boutique hotels that are also changing to sustainable energy through solar panels. In fact, a small luxury boutique hotel invested $80,000 in solar energy. It has been able to decrease its energy bills by 60 percent. This isn't the first small hotel to change over to solar power. With solar shingles and other methods for solar energy, it's becoming easier to install solar energy on any type of building.

The Power of Biodiesel

Biodiesel has become a popular alternative fuel, and it's quickly replacing petroleum products. Many hotels are using this fuel, such as the Hilton Americas-Houston in Texas, which recently received the Green Seal certification. The hotel converted to biodiesel as an alternative fuel that is eco-friendly. The hotel received its first delivery of alternative fuel in July. The new program to use biodiesel has resulted in reducing greenhouse gases produced by the Hilton by 78%.

Geothermal Revolution in Nevada

In Reno, Nevada, the Peppermill Resort Spa Casino built a geothermal aquifer 4,400 feet underground to create a huge heating and hot water system for the hotel to use. Now the hot water is pumped up to the property at 1,200 gallons per minute. It saves $2 million annually. Peppermill has said that it is the hotel in the US whose heating source comes completely from geothermal energy produced right on the property. Many hotels in the area are going green. This is especially important as it is one of the most visited cities in the U.S., the millions of travelers can take advantage of these facilities first hand.

Waste Elimination and Reuse

Hotels are also looking for ways to repurpose waste around the hotel such as oil from the kitchen and scraps from landscaping. The Greco Hotel chain in Greece has a catering service that used to produce a lot of packaging waste. However, it has eliminated much of its waste by using returnable reusable glass bottles. Other hotels have switched over to soap dispensers, such as the Stratton’s Hotel in the UK, which use-to-use luxury miniature guest bathroom amenities. Now it uses dispensers for soaps and shampoos to cut down on waste.

Reduction of Water Usage

Many hotels are now offering discounts or other incentives to not require housekeeping and linen changes when staying multiple nights. Instead of replacing all sheets and towels every day on a couple night stay, they allow you to reuse your linens same as you would do at home. A lot of hotels are also now using a centralized, off site laundry to process all linens.

These are some of the facilities that are out in front of green innovation. They provide great green blueprints for others to follow. It is important that this trend continues and with this innovation, newer, more efficient products will be coming to market.

About the Author: Sam Marquit is an entrepreneurial independent contractor and home renovation/remodeling expert in New York. He's made it a point to share with my readers a day in the life of sustainable building. Forecasting the possible application and implementation of new green building materials and technologies is just one small part of his effort to reduce everyone’s carbon footprint.

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Topics: Guest Post, Green Ideas

Green Living: Your Checklist Creating an Environmentally Friendly Home

Posted by SEPCO

11/7/13 9:30 AM

Tree-WorldAs environmental awareness is flooding into our everyday lives, “green living” is fast developing into an economical trend and the good news is, being a good global citizen doesn’t require a huge amount of effort. The most minor changes around the home can result in beneficial changes to our planet, your own wellbeing and the happiness of your wallet. Now with green products and techniques no longer part of a boutique industry, the chance to plant your own footprint into making a difference has never been easier. Every little bit helps and there are numerous ways to effectively improve your home’s efficiency and live in an environmentally friendly home. Here are few to get you started:

Window Treatments

When greening your home the number one consideration is windows. Because much of your home’s energy loss is through them, ensuring you have coated glass or energy efficient curtains or blinds is important. Most window coverings offer some sort of insulation but others perform more efficiently than others, working towards lowering heating and cooling costs without compromising your décor and design. For those that want the best of both worlds, curtains and blinds, readymade roman blinds make for a fantastic choice giving the luxurious appearance of curtains combined with the mechanisms of blinds. The amount of light that enters the room can easily be controlled through the type of fabric providing an energy efficient solution. To keep your home cooler in summer it’s a good idea to make sure your east and west windows are shaded. The frame of your windows can also play a big part in green living as the commonly used material UPVC (unplasticised poly vinyl chloride) can release toxic compounds. Wood-framed windows are a much greener alternative – they are more insulated, easier to repair and last longer.

Green up Your Appliances

If your appliances are more than 10 years old, it’s a good idea to start working towards replacing them with energy efficient models that display the “Energy Star” logo. Every device normally has a label that shows how much power it consumes, so the old fridge out the back holding just a carton of beer could be costing you $200 a year. Once you have studied your power bill, cross checked with these labels, you will be able to figure out how much each appliance costs to run and whether replacing it would be a cheaper option. For appliances that don’t require replacing, make sure you do a regular check for leaky parts and get them repaired as soon as possible. This will help significantly on your water saving too.

Energy Efficiency Lighting

LED are the most durable and eco-friendly of lighting options. Not only will they save you on the power bills, but they are low maintenance and super pleasant on the environment. As opposed to standard halogen lights, LEDs consumer a fraction of the energy, providing more light and less heat and energy. Because of the significant drop in temperature from these lights, it lowers the use of air conditioning making it very cost effective.

Reduce Your Water Use

In most places, there are strict regulations about the use of water in place to take the strain off the environment. To reduce your water use, optimise your lawn watering schedule and adjust your sprinklers to minimise and waste. Running your washing machine and dishwasher only when they are full will also help in reducing water wastage.

Clean Air Conditioning

When you’re doing your regular spring clean, not many people will think to put the air con on the list of things to do – but you should. Cleaning out the filters of your air conditioning or replacing them regularly will ensure the airflow is doing its job properly.

Keep Your Garden Green

Creating compost is a great way to keep your garden even greener with its multiple eco-friendly benefits. Scraps such as eggshells, fruit and vegetable peels, tea bags and stale bread are the perfect food for your compost pile and can improve the health of your soil whilst giving back to the environment and controlling household waste. Going green isn’t a tough task to achieve and even just applying one or two of the above points can make a world of difference. What are you going to do to leave your imprint on the environment?

Author Bio: This article is written by Jayde Ferguson, who writes for Super Blinds Mart, a Perth based company offering energy efficient curtains and blinds.

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Topics: Guest Post, Green Ideas

Color Your Daydreams Green: Green Cars Based on a Fictional Car Crush

Posted by SEPCO

11/5/13 9:30 AM

It’s not always easy being green, especially if you like the supercharged cars from television shows like Supernatural, The Dukes of Hazzard, Knight Rider, or the sleek sports cars from the James Bond movies. But you can still have a healthy helping of your daydreams in real life and keep your commitment to an environmentally-conscious lifestyle.

Here are some possible car crushes you may have and the green car to match:

If You Want James Bond’s Cars….

And why wouldn’t you? Mr. Bond has driven an impressive array of cars over the years and it’s added to his allure and activities over the years. Who wouldn’t want to save the world in a fast car? Unfortunately, we’ll never have an all-electric Lotus Espirit or classic Aston Martin DBIII—perhaps the two most iconic Bond Cars in history. However, all is not lost.

What makes a Bond car? If one discounts the cars that Bond rides in or steals out of convenience, a clear pattern begins to emerge. The typical Bond car is fast, sleek, and built from high-quality materials (I would say built to last, but this is Bond’s car and his driving record is far from what the DMV would call stellar).

Tesla-Roadster...You Should Buy a Tesla Roadster or Tesla Model S

Tesla Motors bases their cars around Nikola Tesla’s original design for an alternating current motor—from 1882! And it still works, which is great for sports car fans who want to go all-electric. Depending on how accessible charging stations are, and what your personal preference is, choose either of these at a Tesla dealership.

 

If You Want KITT from Knight Rider

Do you too long to work for a private crime-fighting organization, speeding along in a fancy, intelligent vehicle? David Hasselhoff’s Michael Knight got to do just that, after a brush with fate got him reconstructive surgery on his face, a new name, and he became the first agent of ailing, eccentric billionaire Wilton Knight’s Foundation for Law And Government (FLAG). Michael and KITT (voiced by William Daniels, a.k.a. Mr. Feeney from Boy Meets World) drive around the country fighting crime for FLAG using KITT’s impressive accoutrements.

Prius…You Should Buy a Prius

A Prius? Yes, a Prius! The original car famous for being a hybrid isn’t quite up to KITT’s level of human conversation, but it does come with GPS, Bluetooth calling, and informational readouts (even if they are condensed into a screen rather than spread out like KITT’s dashboard). And, like KITT, the Prius is humble, with a quiet, self-assured confidence. In addition, its hybrid engine means no gas used when idling (and therefore no wasted gas or extra emissions).

Unlike KITT, you don’t have to be a FLAG agent to own a Prius—most car dealers from Utah to Maine, literally everywhere, sell current or used models of the Prius. And yes, it does come in black.

If You Wish You Owned the Batmobile…                                              

Oh, the incarnations to choose from! The 1960’s TV series modeled their Batmobile on a Lincoln Futura, but there aren’t any cars quite like the Batmobiles featured in the 90’s TV series and the Tim Burton Batman movies.

Except when there are.

MercedesElectric…You Should Buy a Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Electric Drive

It doesn’t have the rocket burst or Bat Missiles, but check out the design. The long hood is especially reminiscent of the elongated, almost Packard-like Batmobile from the early 90’s animated series, is it not?

And the best part is, this car is all-electric and gets up to 124 mph and goes 0-62 mph in 3.9 seconds. Who needs a rocket engine or Bat-Spoiler on the back?

If You Enjoyed The Italian Job…

Whether you care more for the original Michael Caine flick from 1969 or the 2003 remake as Mark Wahlberg & Co. exact revenge on Edward Norton’s treacherous character, there’s something about this movie about honor among thieves that is universally beloved.  

As the thieves descend on the money and make their getaway in gridlock-friendly Mini Coopers, everyone can agree that a car so cute has never looked so fierce.

MiniE…You Should Buy a Mini E

Production was limited and there were some problems, but Nevada-based Hybrid Technologies has been working with BMW to fix them. And if you can, find an electric version of this little marvel, the work it absolutely worth it.

Having fast-paced, car-chase daydreams don’t have to clash with your commitment to being environmentally conscious.  Hopefully, these options can direct you toward the eco-friendly car of your dreams.

About the Author: Lucy Markham is an avid blogger and, as a recent homeowner, considers herself a bit of an expert on all things home improvement, gardening, and home decoration. Her Car Crush is a Tesla Roadster.

Img Source: NY TImes, Conceptcarz, AutoBlog Green, Popular Mechanics

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Topics: Guest Post, Fun Green Articles, Green Cars

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