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Captain Planet Says Compost!

Okay, the Cap isn’t delivering this message personally. However, if you’re looking for more ways to reduce your carbon footprint and save money then we’ve got a secret weapon for you: compost.

‘That’s like, fertilizer, right?’ Correct. Well, it’s the main byproduct of compost. There are other things which can be done with compost, but more on that later. But what exactly, is compost? Well, every living thing on the earth contains nutrients. Every living thing needs nutrients. Some living things can synthesize – create – their own nutrients. We can’t. Which is why we consume food. And if we’re consuming natural foods (fruits, veggies, eggs), then we’re consuming the best source for fresh nutrients.

If you cook at home at all (which hurts neither your health nor your wallet) you most likely toss a lot of food and food scraps into the garbage. Well, all those scraps (specifically fruit and veggie skins, eggs and coffee grounds) will, under the right circumstance, decompose down into their most pure, nutrient form that is compost. That compost can be used in your garden as fertilizer – or in some cases – converted into gas that can power your home.

Tell Me More!

Don’t get too excited. While the food waste you produce in your kitchen won’t be enough to fuel the entirety of your home, it can provide you with fuel to cook your next meal. But this requires a specific product which we’ll touch on later. For now, there are a few options when it comes to how to compost. If your city is large enough – like Austin, TX (keep it weird) – there may be a community supported program you can access that makes composting as simple as recycling. If you’re in a more rural area that isn’t quite there yet, you can compost in your own backyard and reap the benefits of that glorious, nutrient-rich fertilizer for your garden and yard. Bonus! Fertilizing your grass with nutrient-rich, natural, non-toxic compost means whatever isn’t absorbed by the soil and plants won’t harm the water supply from the soil run-off.

Getting Started

Before you jump head first into a more complex undertaking, do a little research. Starting out, especially, search the internet for local compost programs. For renters, this is the only option to cut down on food waste. But even if you own a home and can install and care for your own compost system, checking out a community-wide program can help acquaint you with the basics of compost, as well as get you into the habit of separating compost from regular garbage. Once you feel confident in what to compost and how it works, then you can start looking into your own home compost system.

There are two ways to compost at home. You can buy/build a compost bin and tend it like you would a garden to create basic fertilizer for your lawn and garden. It’s the “handmade” version, if you will. It’s very cost effective, but does require monitoring and attention, as well as a solid knowledge of how to properly maintain a compost bin at home. Luckily we live in the digital age and such information exists at your fingertips in the form of articles, videos, even podcasts. The second, more advanced, more expensive, but less effort required option is the Home Biogas system. This system converts your food scraps (and more than just the standard grounds, shells, and produce) into gas and then funnels it back into your kitchen for cooking, as well as fertilizer for your lawn. You’re looking to spend a couple grand with Home Biogas, but you save money, food waste, and gas usage since you’re cooking with what your food trash has created. Whereas a regular compost bin is only a couple hundred – at the most – for a bin and start up and it only begets fertilizer.

At the end of the day, there isn’t a wrong way to compost. Except to not compost. That’s wrong. It cuts down on waste and repurposes it for multiple uses and it puts nutrients back into our soil to harvest better crops. It eliminates harmful toxins from run-off that gets into the water supply. Like solar energy, it’s one of many steps we can take moving forward in a new green initiative.

Solar Energy: The Beginners Guide

Energy generation through solar panels is becoming increasingly popular all over the world. However, understanding the processes, costs associated and all the possibilities that energy generation through solar power entails are important in order to practice energy efficiency, starting from our homes.

If you feel daunted by where to start when it comes to installing solar panels in your home, here is a simple guide that can help you get started on the process:

Types of Solar Panels

The interesting process of converting solar energy into electricity is possible through monocrystalline or polycrystalline silicon. These are the two main types of panels with slight differences in features, however, both do the same job. Monocrystalline solar panels were preferred more in the past for its ability to perform in low light condition, and in general being more energy efficient than polycrystalline solar panels. However, the improvements made in polycrystalline technology have made it as good as monocrystalline technology. The most important thing to take into account is the manufacturer’s quality of the panels and warranties offered. The only way you might have to choose between either is depending on your location, as the availability of solar energy can be a hindrance to the process of using solar power to generate electricity. You can talk to a local solar installer as they can assess your home’s location and advise you accordingly.

Inverters

Inverters are important because if you want to apply home improvement in the sense of making it more energy efficient, the inverters are the source of the conversion of solar energy. Inverters convert the direct current (DC) to alternating current (AC) produced by solar panels through a grid-tie inverting system. The AC power that is not used is stored. There are two main types of inverters: string inverters and microinverters.
String inverters are commonly used as they have been around for decades and is the most cost-effective and trustable inverter type due to its proven output in residential buildings. Additionally, microinverters are installed on the backside of the solar panel to eliminate the need for potentially harmful DC wiring, due to its ability to work at a lower voltage. It also helps to work with elements of shade that may be obstructing the solar rays seeping into the panels and can be remotely monitored through a software.
The main reason you would have to opt for one or the other is due to its size, as string inverters need a larger roof space and micro inverters can perform well even in smaller spaces. Overall, solar panels can greatly help to improve energy efficiency in homes, as solar energy is one of the most abundant sources of power that exists and can be easily utilized, helping you save energy costs in the long run as well as save the environment!

Tesla Powerwall 2

Going off the grid with Tesla’s Powerwall

Back in 2015, Tesla Motors had a goal of setting their sights on the home energy market and introduced the home battery pack known as, the Tesla Powerwall.

Tesla motors have been recognized for producing high-quality electric vehicles as well as well as their intelligence to reform and successfully thriving to rebrand current technologies. Tesla’s rebranding of residential-use batteries is in direction with their goal of reimagining existing products.

What is the Tesla Powerwall?

Tesla is one of the very few companies that makes small-scale batteries for home energy storage in the residential energy storage market. The Powerwall is described by Tesla is a “rechargeable lithium ion battery with liquid thermal control”. The initial release of the Powerwall launched in 2015, and a renovated Powerwall 2.0 was announced the following year in 2016.

The Tesla battery pack is an excellent match for solar panels, notably in the occasion of an off-grid project where a homeowner needs or desires to be purely independent of their utility. A solar storage system like the Tesla Powerwall permits you to maintain a sustained power supply during both day and night.

How does the battery work?

Similar to other energy storage products, the Tesla battery pack is designed to curate for day-today use at home, and usually integrated with a home solar panel system. The surplus electricity that is produced and not used in your home is then stored in the battery pack in lieu of being sent back into the electric grid.

Typically this process happens over a sequence of a day, when the sun is high in the sky and your solar panels are generating more electricity than you can use, the excess energy is saved in your Tesla Powerball. While the sun goes down, your solar productivity decreases and begins drawing in the electricity you stored during the sunniest part of the day. Virtually, the Powerwall helps you balance out and manage your electricity production over the course of a day.

Is it possible to go OTG (off the grid) with a Tesla Powerwall?

Benefits of installing a solar storage system in your home is a great way to have direct control of your electricity bill, but in essence doesn’t mean you are 100 percent separated from your utility. This means going “off the grid” with solar batteries is indeed more costly and intricate than you may believe. An individual Tesla home battery will administer only a few hours of backpack power – not practical enough to umbrella you on a cloudy day, or several days or weeks of harsh weather conditions.

The Tesla Powerwall warranty and how long does the battery last?

An unlimited 10-year warranty that predicts your battery is used for daily charging and draining is what comes with the Powerwall.

Alike with others, the Tesla batteries ability to hold charge depreciates over time. This does not indicate that this characteristic makes this product flawed. All batteries lose the capability to withhold a charge whether it’s a rechargeable AA battery, a home battery or an electric vehicle battery.

As Tesla says “Reliable Power Day and Night”. Let us help you go “off the grid” with the Tesla Powerwall!

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