April 25, 2011
For many of us, solar power is most commonly associated with the installation of large solar panels on your roof or in your garden. But solar power has come a long way in the last few years, and we’re now seeing a significant increase in the number of solar appliances available to consumers. A growing number of products including refrigerators, cookers and air-conditioning systems are coming onto the market, giving us more reasons than ever before to consider going solar.
Solar power enables your household to harness the natural heat and energy of the sun, and transform it into a renewable and inexhaustible energy source which will help you run your home. The cost savings associated with solar energy are also impressive, with potential savings of over 75% on your electricity bills. What’s more, solar power doesn’t just help to reduce your household utility bills – it can also help you make a profit by selling the surplus solar energy you generate back to your local grid.
Switching to solar energy is a great way to reduce your household energy costs, giving you the opportunity to go ‘off-grid’ and generate a sustainable energy source to power your home. However, if you’re keen to make the switch, it’s important to recognize the upfront investment that’s required. Purchasing solar panels for your home can be expensive – and depending on the size of your home and your energy needs, they could cost anywhere between $10,000 and $100,000.
The good news is that there are cheaper alternatives. As well as ready-made solar panels, you can also build your own solar panels at home, reducing the costs significantly. Many states also offer tax credit incentives for individuals who decide to improve the green credentials of their homes – so you could attract additional funding to help you make the switch.
Check out the neighborhood
Being the first person in your neighborhood to switch to solar energy can be daunting, so if you’ve spotted solar panels in your local area, why not drop in and have a chat with your neighbors about their experiences? They’ll probably be able to give you some top tips and suggestions which will help you make the right choice about switching to solar. And if you really are the first, then it probably won’t be long before your neighbors start calling on you to find out more about the benefits of switching!
Although the upfront costs to install solar power are considerable, it won’t be long before you start to reap the benefits of generating your own energy supply. Alongside cheaper utility bills, you can also make a tidy profit by selling excess energy back to local electricity companies, so that eventually your solar panels will pay for themselves not just once, but several times over.
Ready to switch?
Switching to solar is a big decision – and you may feel the need to learn a bit more about solar powering your home before you dive in. And of course there are other ways to introduce solar power to your daily life, including trying out some of the many solar powered products and appliances that are now available to consumers. From garden lighting to digital radios, from pool heaters to cell phone chargers, there’s sure to be a solar product to meet your every day needs. Why not start with one product – it might inspire you to join the solar powered revolution!
April 18, 2011
I like posts and articles about reusing items, as not buying is first, reusing second and then recycling. Coupon Sherpa has a great article called 20 Uses for Cardboard Tubes Beyond the Bathroom.
11. Candle Storage
Place tall candles in paper-towel tubes and votive candles in toilet-paper rolls to keep them organized and intact. Empty tubes are the perfect width and height for both. Coincidence? Probably, but no less convenient.
April 11, 2011
Okay it’s the 11 March but I’ve only just discovered this. Italy banned non-biodegradable, single-use plastic bags on 1 January 2011.
“Sustainability is made of little changes to our lifestyle that don’t cost us anything and can save the planet,” said Stefania Prestigiacomo, Italian Environmental Minister.
While the bags do cost more to make, so far that hasn’t been passed onto consumers (as far as I know) and research has shown that Italians have always disliked the thin single-use bags and were ready for stronger multi-use ones.
Yay Italy I say.
April 4, 2011
It’s estimated that there are close to a billion tourists traveling across the globe each year. That’s a heck of a lot of sightseeing! Unless we plan carefully, and think before we travel, we run the risk of allowing our travel plans to take a harsh toll on the planet’s natural resources. Of course, nobody’s saying that you have to stay home during vacations – instead, it’s important to consider the small steps you can take to make your holiday adventures more enjoyable for you and kinder to the environment.
We’ve assembled a few of our top tips for Eco-friendlier travel. No doubt you’ll have some of your own suggestions to add too – so please share your ideas and comments below.
Many of the major, reputable travel operators now give you an option to automatically offset the carbon emissions associated with your journey. The costs of offsetting are linked to the intended length of your travel, but most regular flights will charge between $10 – $50 to offset your carbon. It’s a small price to pay to travel to reduce your conscience! And if you are traveling by plane, select a direct flight where possible, to avoid multiple carbon emissions. Of course not flying at all is better….
Change your mode of transport
Do you really need to take the plane? Can you take the bus? Or a train? Or even cycle? These are certainly more environmentally friendly modes of transport which will decrease your journey’s carbon footprint dramatically. If you’re going to drive, rent a hybrid car – they’re more fuel efficient and emit less pollutants into the atmosphere.
We’ve all been guilty of packing everything but the kitchen sink for our travels abroad. Try to be more disciplined when you pack your case. After all, the less weight you’re carrying, the less fuel your intended mode of transport will need to use. One good example is to collaborate with your traveling companions on toiletries. Instead of everyone bringing shampoo or shower gel or toothpaste, decide amongst you who will bring what – you’ll be amazed at how this small step lightens your load.
These days, more and more global destinations are developing eco-hotels and lodges which have strong environmental credentials. It’s easy to drop most hotels an email to find out more about their recycling programs, including:
• Waste recycling
• Towels and bedding – is there an option to re-use?
• Hotel energy efficiency
• Local corporate responsibility initiatives
You’ll quickly get an idea of the hotels that take their environmental responsibilities seriously – and you can reward them with your business.
Contribute to the local economy
If you’re staying in a half-board or all-inclusive resort, sometimes there’s a temptation to stay in the hotel grounds for the duration of your trip. However, exploring the local area, and frequenting local shops, restaurants and arts and craft stores can provide vital support to local people and the local economy. Hopefully, you’ll also have a more authentic in-country experience – and some great stories to share with friends and family on your return home.
Small changes in your travel plans can make a big difference. So, if you’re suffering from the winter blues, and you’re starting to plan your summer vacation, why not put these ideas into action?