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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 panels

Solar Panels: Which type is for your home?

 

solar panels

What is Solar Efficiency?

Solar panel technology is one of the most rapidly advancing areas of the renewable energy sector. New manufacturing techniques, new materials, and designs drive the boundaries of panel efficiency every year. Designs and material can vary, nevertheless all panels serve the same function.

With special materials, solar panels develop electrons when exposed to light, and these electrons are then converted to electricity for your home. The efficiency of solar panel refers to the measure of electricity the panel generates from light. Most panels fall between 9% and 20% efficiency with the rest of energy lost is heat. In the end, the standard solar panel is efficient enough to be reasonably cost effective.

The efficiency differs between designs, and extremely efficient panels often come at a higher cost. Nonetheless, you’ll need to find the best value while considering the immediate and long-term priorities.

Different types of solar panels

As mentioned before, solar panels range widely in design and quality. However, most panels, fall into one of three categories: monocrystalline, polycrystalline, and thin film.  Each category don’t share the same efficiency rates or designs, but each has its advantages and disadvantages.

Monocrystalline Solar Panels

mono panels

Monocrystalline solar panels are easily recognizable, the solar cells are made out of single-crystalline. To optimize performance and cut costs of a single monocrystalline solar cell, the four sides are cut out of cylindrical ingots to make silicon wafers, which  gives this solar panel types its characteristic look.

They have the highest efficiency rates since they are made out of the highest-grade silicon, and  is remarkable for generating electricity. Monocrystalline solar panels are space-friendly, require very little and tend to perform better than polycrystalline panels at low-light conditions. The largest flaw about monocrystalline panels is the high cost; these premium panels can be significantly more expensive.

Polycrystalline Solar Panels

poly panels

The production of polycrystalline panels are quite efficient, the process is simple and cheaper to produce than monocrystalline. These solar panels may have slightly lesser heat tolerance than monocrystalline panels. While these can be sensibly efficient—they don’t perform as well in high-heat or in low-heat conditions. Heat can affect the lifespan and polycrystalline panels tend to be larger in size,and less aesthetically appealing than thin-film and monocrystalline panels.

Thin-Film Solar Panels

thin film panels

Thin-film solar panels adopt an alternative photovoltaic mediums that are deposited in a thin layer over a substrate. One great advantage is the ability to easily mass produce thin film solar panels, result in a cheaper cost to manufacture than crystalline-based solar cells. Thin-film, solar panels are very efficient in low-light and high temperature conditions, having less of an impact on performance. Their homogeneous appearance can be visibly appealing in functions where traditional panels would stand out.

Generally speaking, thin-film solar panels are not very useful due to their low efficiency ratings. Larger space is required making them less practical for the standard roof layout. Cost of equipment increases due to low-space efficiency. Unlike mono- and polycrystalline, thin-film tends to degrade faster which typically comes with a shorter life warranty.

Which solar panel works best for you home? Here is a breakdown:

Monocrystalline: high cost, efficiency, and environmental footprint
Polycrystalline: moderate cost, efficiency, and environmental footprint
Thin-film: low cost, efficiency, and environmental footprint

Selecting the solar panel that’s right for your home depends on the characteristics that you value the most. Each option excels for a certain niche and other features can help you tailor your system to meet your energy needs. Let Green NRG help you decide which solar panel system works best for your home.

stay warm

Stay WARM with These Energy Saving Tips

Winter is here. This means, present shopping, sipping on hot cocoa, and time spent at holiday gatherings with family and friends. For those of us who love conserving energy, the winter season also means saving money by being more efficient.

 

Here are 10 tips below:


  1. Maximize insulation

About 25% of heat is lost through the roof. It can be substituted by installing 25 cm of insulation throughout your loft. Although it’s a costly upgrade, it can save you more long term.

  1. Time central heating

Programming your boiler to turn on 30 minutes prior to waking up in the morning – but at a lower temperature to be cost effective. Boiler heats up at a consistent speed no matter what you set the thermostat to. Don’t make the mistake of leaving your heat on low all day – then you are paying for heat you don’t need.

  1. Install Solar Panels

There are endless perks as to why you should go solar: reduce your bills, great return on investment, increase your house value, and never fear utility companies again.

  1. Use LED Holiday lights

LED lights are at minimum 75% more energy efficient and durable up to 25 times more than traditional incandescent lights. Using LED lights will you joy knowing that you won’t be spending a bundle while staying festive.

  1. Keep The Lights Off

If you plan on going away for the holidays, save money while you are away by making sure all lights are turned off. This includes lights in: garage, backyard, patio, or front porch lights.

  1. Unplug Electronics

While you’re away on vacation, unplug items in the kitchen and around the household to save money and energy. Although they are in use, they still use energy while plugged in. Electronics such as: kitchen appliances, DVDs, TVs and computers can all take a break from the wall socket.

  1. Use your curtains and take advantage of daylight savings

Heat from the sunlight is given freely, so why not make use of it. Allowing the sun to shine through the curtains during the day warms up the glass windows; projecting heat to the walls of your home. As the sun goes down, close your curtains to trap the warmth. Make sure you don’t have any hidden leaks or gaps that prevent the warm air from staying in.

  1. Keep the Kitchen Warm and Cozy

While you are cooking, boiling, and baking, all that heat accumulated will keep your kitchen warm without having the need to turn the thermostat. Try making a cup of hot cocoa, something cooking in the crock pot, and bake cookies to get your kitchen stirring up heat!

  1. Turn the dial down

This may appear counterintuitive, but stick with us. The World Health Organization has suggested to keep room temperature at a minimum of 70 degrees. A studies shows that turning down your thermostat 5 degrees. That could reduce your electricity bill by almost 10%! Keeping your dial at 65 degrees will save you money and avoid living in a cold home.

  1. Adjust Thresholds

Another step to keeping your home warmer is to prevent heat from breaking away through gaps and cracks in walls. A few apparent ones are easy to find: pipes, cables, behind the washing machine, under kitchen cupboards, key holes, and around sinks and toilets.