How to Make Your House More Eco-Friendly

Green, eco friendly house, real estate concept.Buildings and homes in the U.S. account for 39 percent of our energy consumption and 60 percent of our total electricity usage. In the mid-‘90s the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) began to develop a set of ratings dubbed the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) that sets the standard for determining an ‘eco-friendly ’or ‘green’ home. Over the last decade, more people have become eco-conscious and adapted to the LEED standards. One study by the U.S. Green Building Council estimates that there are about 150,000 LEED-certified eco-friendly houses across the globe.

If you want to join in and reduce the waste produced in your household, you don’t have to start from scratch. Here are a few changes you can make that, over time, will help eliminate unnecessary waste in your household and transform your home into a much more eco-friendly living space.

Fluorescent of LED Lighting

If you’re still using incandescent bulbs, it’s time to switch over to the vastly more efficient compact florescent or LED lighting. Fluorescent and LED lights use 25 to 80 percent less electricity and can last up to 25 times longer than the average incandescent bulb. With efficiency like this, there’s really no reason why you wouldn’t want to make the switch.

Green Roofing

By changing out your roofing to something like Lifetime shingles from Champion Home Exteriors, you can receive great protection for your home while supporting a company that is committed to reducing the use of precious natural resources. Great quality materials also means less waste and maintenance down the road, which saves both time and energy in the future.

Low Flow Toilet

From the time toilets were invented by Joseph Adamson in the mid-19th century, all the way to the mid-’90s, toilets generally sent about seven gallons of water down the pipes with every flush. With the introduction of water conservation laws in the 1990s, the law mandated that only 1.6 gallons of water per flush should be used, saving 5.4 gallons every time. This law ushered in the dawn of the low flow toilet, which has seen many design adjustments over the last couple decades, making use of pressurized air so the flush doesn’t depend on gravity alone.

It’s estimated that switching to water-saving fixtures such as low flow toilets can save you up to $100 in utility costs, not to mention all the water that won’t go to waste.

Energy Efficient Windows

In 1992 the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy devised the Energy Star rating, which is an international standard for energy efficient consumer products. Windows are one of the most popular products that qualify for an official Energy Star rating, and swapping out old inefficient windows is one of the easiest ways you can upgrade your home to be more energy efficient.

Depending on where you live, there are different energy efficient windows that will best suit your needs. Some windows can let heat in and act as an insulator to keep the warmth inside the house, while others can block out sunlight and keep the interior cooler. It’s said that windows are the biggest source of heating and cooling energy loss in our homes, so by installing the proper energy efficient windows you can cut down on energy usage which helps your wallet as well as the environment.

Environmentally Friendly Cars : The Future is Now

This post is brought to you by Matt Allan from

We are at a point in the evolution of green cars where it is now realistic that at some point in the future, they will be the most widely used car. The quality of these cars is constantly improving and the latest news about these vehicles means we may be closer to the world using predominately environmentally friendly cars than we think. Electric & Hybrid cars are growing in popularity and even solar powered cars don’t seem as farfetched these days based on the latest news from Ford.

The reasons to buy a green car makes a lot more sense now than it would have 10 years ago. The current batch of vehicles have are more efficient and now have a range of up to 265 miles and are available for as little as $22,000.

Of course, a lot of people don’t have a green car yet but there is still a lot you can do to have a positive impact on the environment. For example, car pooling with friends and even leaving your car at home two days a week will reduce greenhouse emissions by an average of two tons per year.
This info-graphic from Crossline on the Fort explains the progress we are making with environmentally friendly cars and also explains what you can do to help the environment if you don’t have a green car.


Matt Allan
Manager – Crossline on the Fort (


How Can We End Our Fossil Fuel Addiction by 2050

An ecology company called Arbtech produced an infographic about how we can end our fossil fuel addiction by 2050. They used our site, Energy Informative in making the infographic and have listed us in the sources at the bottom.

We think it’s fabulous content and we thought we would share it with you!

How Can We End Our Fossil Fuel Addiction by 2050? An environmental infographic from Arbtech.



3 Things You Should Know About Solar-Paneled Cars

solar paneled car is a concept that is becoming more and more popular. Driving a solar paneled car means that rather than charging your vehicle with a plug, like traditional hybrid vehicles, or using traditional gasoline, you simply park your car in the sun and let the solar panels absorb the rays—then you’re off driving! But there’s more to it than that. Here are three things you should know about solar paneled cars.

How the solar paneled car works

According to How Stuff Works, a solar paneled car works through the photovoltaic cells that are present in the panels, which are responsible for converting the sun’s energy into actual usable electricity. The process that converts the energy into electricity is somewhat complex and there are few manufacturers that have even attempted to integrate this type of technology into their car manufacturing efforts.

Keep in mind that in order for a solar panel vehicle to receive electricity, it must have direct exposure to the sun. This means that if your vehicle is typically kept inside your garage, or beneath a carport, a solar paneled car is probably not a practical option. However, for others who live in particularly sunny areas and park their vehicles outside, a solar paneled vehicle may be the solution to saving on energy and fossil fuel costs.

Solar paneled cars may create green energy jobs

With energy requirements continuously increasing all over the world, more companies and individuals are searching for better sources of renewable energy, such as solar power. In fact, this infographic from shows that solar energy is now the quickest-growing segment in the entire green energy market in the U.S. It is estimated that in 2013 the job market in the solar industry more than doubled and that it is going to sustain a growth of 20 percent in the next few years.

With more and more companies and individuals seeking clean, green sources of energy, the demand for solar panels is increasing. This demand has resulted in the consistent growth of the industry, leading to more jobs in the sector. Economic growth and job creation are two hot-button issues right now, so the ability to produce more energy and jobs in a sustainable way is a win for all parties involved.

The present and future of solar paneled cars

People are using solar panels already installed on their roofs to electrically power their hybrid cars. Unlike cars with solar panels built in, you simply plug in your hybrid to your existing solar panels and you’re automatically using the sun to power your car, writes Poughkeepsie Journal. And it gets better: The United States government also offers a federal tax credit for purchasing these hybrid car models. In addition, some car companies, such as Honda Motor Co., offer incentives of up to $400 for installing solar panels through the company Solar City. And when you get a friend or family member to sign up for solar panel installation through Solar City, you get a $250 referral fee on top of that!

And then there’s Mercedes Benz who, according to Engadget, has come up with a really interesting and unique concept to generate electricity from the sun: a solar powered paint job. Referred to as “multi-voltaic” paint, this technologically advanced paint job works by acting like a giant solar panel that generates electricity while the car is stationary. And, while the car is moving, it derives power from its suspension system. However, this is only in the conceptual stage, and is therefore not yet available.

Solar paneled cars are still new, How Stuff Works tells us, which means there are a number of issues and kinks to work out in order to get them to where they are a sustainable method of transportation, including making them affordable. However, with the proven progression in the industry, it may be only a matter of time until a reliable and efficient solar paneled car is developed for mainstream use in the automotive industry.

Should I Install Solar Panels?

As interest in green energy grows, more people are asking themselves “Should I install solar panels?” and they are making the decision to get quotes and move forward with the process. This is a move which can help the planet and also boost your own finances, so it seems to make sense all round. However, Solar Panel installation is a major decision which needs to be carefully considered. It also pays to be aware of the possible pitfalls before deciding to go ahead.

With fossil fuel use under pressure and a growing drive to cut carbon emissions, the idea of harnessing the sun’s energy is increasingly attractive. Installing PV cells means that, after recouping your initial outlay, you will be able to gain free electricity from sunlight. An extra attraction of Solar Panels for many is the possibility of selling any surplus power produced to the grid.

Count the Costs

Before you book a Solar Panel installation, however, you should do a proper costing. It is easy to get carried away with potential savings and assume that the panels will pay for themselves more quickly than is actually the case. Remember that, although the panels themselves should last for 25 years, the inverter will need replacing more quickly. This is a vital part of the system to turn light into energy for your home. You also need to be aware that some maintenance may be necessary, such as having your PV panels cleaned occasionally.

Protecting Your Roof

If you have an older roof which is not in good condition, then a Solar Panel installation may be a bad move, as it will make it harder to carry out repairs. In the UK, the National House Building Council has warned that if Solar Panels are not installed correctly they may cause damage to a roof, leading to leaks and even in the worst case-scenario to structural harm. This is one of the many reasons why it is vital to choose an experienced firm with the expertise to install panels correctly.

House Moves

There have been some reports that people who signed up to solar leasing deals have had problems in remortgaging or selling their homes. It is also possible that the panels may make a home less attractive to some buyers, by reducing “curb appeal”. On the other hand, however, there is also evidence that many other buyers will be attracted by the panels. A recent survey carried out by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in the US found homes with panels selling for more across California. Although the market is not yet so developed in the UK, it is likely that Solar Panels will increasingly be seen as adding value there too.

Solar Panel Installation has many advantages in most cases. It means you are using clean, green energy and will help to cut your bills in the medium to longer term. Experts can look at your roof and help you to decide whether this is a good option for you. If you go ahead, the decision to install panels is an investment both in your own future and in that of our planet.


Find the Best Solar Panel Types

As a homeowner shopping around for the best solar panel types, it’s hard to get a handle on the truth and easy to get overwhelmed. There is a lot of science behind solar photovoltaic systems and a slew of variables to consider when deciding on what sort of system to buy. There are many different types of solar panels, so it’s imperative that you do your research.

First, what is being considered when comparing different solar panel systems?

Well,  solar efficiency, durability, features, and dimensions, to name a few. That, however, doesn’t quite cover the gambit. Each of those categories is further broken up into other considerations.

Solar efficiency is decided by taking into account the maximum power (measured in watts), the maximum power voltage (measured in volts), maximum power current (measured in amps), the cell technology type, and finally the number of cells.

Confused yet? It’s okay, all you really need to know is that there are two main types of cell technology from which to choose: Polycrystalline and Monocrystalline (usually abbreviated to poly and mono). The difference between the two is the purity of silicon that is being used in the panels, and mono tends to have a higher purity and thus a higher efficiency. Mono-panels also last the longest and are the most space-efficient. Mono solar panels are more expensive than other types of solar panels, however, and if the solar panel becomes covered with shade, dirt or snow with a mono system, the entire system could break down.  Essentially, there are advantages and disadvantages to both systems, and it comes down to a matter of price, preference, and suitability.

It’s best to have your particular situation evaluated by a team of experts to find out the best types of solar panels suited especially for your household. There are factors to consider, such as limited space and limited budget.  If your concerns involve limited space, then it would be best to go with a Monocrystalline solar panel system, which again is more expensive but more space-efficient. If your budget is the problem, then polycrystalline is the way to go. To help save money, there is a third option, which involves thin film solar panels, a new technology that isn’t usually suited for residential instalment, but your case may be different. That’s why it’s best to have a professional come look at your home.

The best Polycrystalline panel on the market currently is Kyocera, which takes into account all factors (including solar efficiency, durability, features, and dimensions) into a composite. The best Monocrystalline panel is Canadian Solar. These are also not the most expensive brands, which is a considerable plus.


Solar Panel Installation Costs Continue to Fall

If you are considering a solar power system for your property, you no doubt appreciate that solar panel installation costs include more than the price of the panels themselves, with the charge for the additional components, fitting the panels and running the system all needing to be taken into account. However, the good news is that the installation price is continuing to fall, so this need not stand in the way of you fitting the best solar panels for your home.

Falling Installation Costs
In a report by the Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory, part of the US Department of Energy, it was highlighted that the installation cost for a small system call for policies to reduce “soft costs”.

The price drops are largely due to the fact that solar panel module costs fell by $2.6/W between 2008 and 2012, which accounted for around 80% of the overall decline in the price of photovoltaic systems over that time. However, even though non-module expenses such as the price of inverters, hardware for mounting and “soft costs” such as the labor associated with installation and the costs associated with permits and inspection have fallen, they haven’t kept pace with those related to the modules themselves and have changed little in recent years. As a result, non-module payments now make up a greater contribution to the overall solar panel costs. This change was highlighted in the report as indicating that the solar energy industry and policymakers need to look towards ways of reducing non-module expenditure. By targeting soft costs, which are more likely to be influenced by local policies and those made at the national level, this will make installation of the best solar panels affordable to more people, as there is only so much further that the price of the systems themselves can drop.

Solar Energy and California Schools

Have you heard about solar energy and California schools?

As recently published on Business Wire, a 125-building solar project was completed in California, spreading across 29 schools and two facilities buildings throughout the San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD). The project was developed by Main Street Power Company, Inc. using Enphase® Microinverters, a flexible technology that made it possible to include buildings of different sizes, orientations, angles and shapes. Due to the challenging rooftop conditions of the unique buildings, using traditional inverters would have been virtually impossible, as the sizing of the arrays would have needed to be customized for each individual case. Instead, a single type of inverter technology was used to develop a flexible design that supports 3.1MW of arrays –both small and megawatt-scale systems- spread across the 125 buildings. Enphase technology offers an adaptive solution, ideal for diverse designs such as the one exemplified here.

Teaching about alternative energy

The project has a strong educational impact on children and teachers alike. A K-12 solar education program was developed by Main Street Power and will be included into the 29 schools’ science curriculum. The “Train the Trainers” program is dedicated to the science teachers of the schools where solar technology was installed, who will learn how to integrate the new focus on alternative technology and renewables into their curriculum. Having the solar technology installed on the rooftop of the buildings where they study is a wonderful opportunity for the students to have direct contact with the alternative energy notions they are taught about. It is an essential part of educating the next generation of environmentally-responsible citizens.

A win-win for the community

Bill Rossi, CMO of Enphase Energy said that “Enphase is proud to have our trusted technology associated with a project dedicated to educating children about alternative energy. Not only will the students learn about their school’s rooftop solar in the classroom, but the school district will benefit from reduced energy costs over the long term.” The project is also beneficial to the community. By leveraging New Market Tax Credits, Main Street Power encouraged solar development in low-income areas, illustrating the benefits of solar technology to the parents and students of 25 schools. “Also, San Diego Unified School District turned to solar for its environmental impact, but the money saved by the solar arrays will provide more resources for teachers and students – a win-win for the community.”, said Eric Hinckley, senior vice president and chief technology officer of Main Street Power.

5 Home Improvement Projects to Increase the Value of Your Home

If you’re like most homeowners, you’ve probable thought to yourself, how do I increase the value of my home? Before preparing to sell your home, finding a cheap moving company, and packing up, it’s important to consider what will bring you the best return on your investment. Ideally, you’ll make your home more efficient and more valuable in the process. Here are five of the best home improvement projects a homeowner should consider investing in.

One of the best investment for your home is Alternative energy. With solar panels, a homeowner can enjoy massive utility savings and depending on the state, tax breaks. Solar Panels are an enticing addition to a home because potential buyers often look for environmentally friendly.

Upgrade your kitchen. Most people love a large and functional kitchen. Gourmet kitchens  are making a comeback as people love to cook at home and make their guests feel welcome. Luckily, with a small investment, one can improve their kitchen and increase the value of the home.

Add a swimming pool. With a pool, a seller can impress buyers who want to have a nice backyard. With a pool, residents can splash in the water and escape the summer heat. Even when a person does not use it, they will enjoy looking at it and showing the yard off to friends. Plus, you can heat your pool with solar panels!

Upgrade your front door. When putting on a new front door, a homeowner can add value to the property simply through the enhanced curb appeal. This is a great investment to make as most people, upon seeing the house for the first time, will notice and old or outdated door. Furthermore, a buyer can get a door with extra security features which will make the residents feel at ease.

Redo your garden. There’s nothing more satisfying than a home with a nice garden full of beautiful plants. To take it further and attract more people, a homeowner should set up a garden with native plants. Make your garden more eco-friendly and protect the natural habitat by using plants from the area which fit in better with the surrounding scenery. IF you want to really conserve water, try a decorative stone garden or wood chips.

We hope you found this blog to be helpful and informative as you consider ways to increase the value of your home!

Solar Energy: The Basics

Solar energy has undoubtedly created an impact on the renewable energy market and has swiftly become a reliable and worthy source of energy. Solar is a highly attractive, natural option on both the local and commercial levels. Technology is shifting towards the renewable resources and solar energy remains a prominent subject for improvement and commercialization.

What is Solar energy? Some basic understanding:

Solar energy is the light and heat from sun that is captured and used in technology gadgets like solar cells, solar thermal electricity and others in order to produce electricity. It is characterized as active or passive solar depending upon how it is being used. The idea is to use the natural resource i.e. sun in order to get maximum return out of it. The following diagram shows how solar works and what is the process.

The diagram shows how the photovoltaic cell is placed at a particular angel in order to get maximum exposure to sun and is charged by this process. It is then directed to an inverter that converts DC into AC; as we require AC for our homes and offices. Later, it is supplied to our homes and then to the meter for all the readings.

How does solar actually produce energy? What’s the process?

Solar is the cleanest, most reliable form of renewable resources available. The solar panel converts the sun’s rays into electricity by actually exciting the electrons in silicon cells by using the photons of light. Solar cells are also known as modules and contain photovoltaic cells made from silicon. Photovoltaic means electricity from light, which defines the true purpose of solar.

Commercial and residential uses: What’s next?

Solar cells are widely used at both commercial and residential areas. Different factories and industries are using proper solar panels and civilians use the panels for their houses as well. The efficiency is not as high, but still it provides good results.

In the coming years, you will see this technology sweeping the nation as power plants and industrial areas are replaced by highly efficient solar panels. However, solar companies are now asked to submit an official “net energy meter agreement” to the utility company before the installation process. This step usually slows down the process because solar companies must essentially receive permission from the utilities to install the solar panels.[1]

How it is cost efficient?

Solar energy is cost efficient as it’s mostly a onetime investment where you need to buy a solar panel according to your needs and what’s feasible for you. The source is natural and free! So, it is highly cost efficient and capable of generating good amount of electricity. Solar technology is highly cost efficient and will dominate the energy sources in the coming years. If you need more information about solar cells, the process and its comparison please explore our solar resources and the pros and cons of solar energy.

References: [1] Huffington Post
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