Monthly Archives: February 2015

Most Anticipated Green Upgrades of 2015

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There is no arguing that green living is more of a revolution than fad, and in 2015 could be a banner year for solar energy and other green innovations. As younger and more eco-conservative consumers look to spend wisely, green living will become a bigger selling point among buyers. Consumers in their late 20s to mid-30s are old enough to remember the days of cheap fossil fuels from their youth. Even if they were not paying the bills or filling the tank, their early days would shape their need for cheap energy.

For all the relief the recent plunge in oil futures has given, these buyers also have a real understanding of how much of a squeeze the high costs of fossil fuels can put on them. For many, they were likely just starting out on their own in 07’- 08’ when the high cost of energy sent prices at the pump well over $4 per gallon in even the cheapest of areas. These same consumers were likely living in their very first (relatively small) apartment with gas bills hovering north of $200 a month in addition to $100 electric bills. For those with an entry level position and a salary to match, it felt like commuting to work and keeping warm was all they were getting for the money made at work. While they may have a little more money coming in now that they have established themselves in the workplace, that does not mean they want to revisit those insanely high energy bills.  This is where the innovations in solar energy appeal to the green living population. However, it is not only the young consumer interested in green living. The new tech advancements below are exciting all ages who are seeking out cleaner, cheaper, renewable energy solutions.

Perovskite Solar Panels

A new generation of solar panels made from a mineral called perovskite has the potential to convert solar energy into household electricity more cheaply than ever before. Super-thin, custom-colored panels attached to a building’s windows may become a “holy grail” for the green living population. Perovskite panels can both shade windows and at the same time produce electricity. They also can absorb more of the solar spectrum and convert it to usable energy for the home. This means that we will be able to convert energy from more than just direct sunlight.

Building Integrated Photovoltaics

BIPVs are thin-film solar panels built smoothly into building materials like roof shingles, curtain walls, facades, or windows. That is correct, you can spray solar panels onto your windows!  The global overproduction of solar panels means that installation is now taking up an increasingly large percentage of the total cost per watt of solar. BIPVs are an enticing alternative because they cut out many installation costs since they do not require racking and laborers do not necessarily need to be trained in solar installations.

Solar Powered Mobile Gadgets

Not to be forgotten are the countless other little devices in our lives that mean as much to us as the roof over our heads. Step inside your local coffee shop or airport, and you’ll see several patrons scurrying about to find an outlet to plug in their devices that were at full charge only hours ago. On your own, your devices are very insignificant to the power grid. Add up all our collective devices, and we contribute 10 trillion pounds of carbon dioxide.  Solar Focus’s new SolarKindle is a Kindle cover integrated with a thin solar panel. In only one hour of sunlight, the SolarKindle gathers enough charge to run your device for three days. You can read an entire novel on your next vacation without plugging in once. If you are into sharing your music or relaxing by the water with good tunes, Rukus Solar is a portable speaker system that streams music via Bluetooth. Fully charged in 6 hours, it can play music for eight more hours out of the sunlight. Companies are also working on portable charging stations that can charge phones and tablets using solar energy that should be released within a year.

Like nearly every year over the last couple decades, 2015 promises to be a year of numerous technological advances. Some will come and go while others will create some serious staying power thanks to their benefits. Solar power has been gaining traction over the last five years and may be set for it’s biggest year yet. With advances such as those above coupled with the volatility of the fossil fuel market, solar powered energy innovations could be what draws the most acclaim for home solutions and tech toys on the go.

 

About the author:

The writer, Brian Levesque, is a blogger who primarily discusses environmental and technology issues. He is enthusiastic about the growing solar sector and its potential for a better, greener future. For those in the Florida area looking for solar power of their own, he highly recommends Bob Heinmiller Solar Solutions for a solar panel installation. You can learn more about Brian on Google+.

Learning About Indoor Air Quality

air quality

When people think about pollution and harmful particles in the air, rarely do they think about what goes on in their own homes. Studies are beginning to show that some of the most dangerous air quality problems are not outside, in smoggy landscapes, but in the home, where poor ventilation re-circulates the same harmful air into the environment over and over. Learning about improving indoor air quality can go a long way in improving your personal quality of life.

 

The EPA has a special division dedicated to helping homeowners understand how indoor air pollution functions and affects them on a residential level. This Indoor Environments Division, known as the IED, is responsible for educating the public and conducting relevant research on various environmental issues. These include things such as health risks and the way that people are exposed to them on a day to day basis. A lot of the time, homeowners are not even aware of the dangers that poor indoor air quality can pose to them and their properties. Learning about the risks and how to handle them is the first part of any responsible way to handle a declining indoor environment.

 

All indoor air quality problems start with the HVAC system. Indoor air quality products may be purchased to help alleviate the situation, but the fact of the matter is that if the heating and ventilation unit itself is not taken care of, negative effects will still occur. Indoor air pollution is typically exacerbated when indoor air contaminants and particles are re-circulated throughout the air again and again. This creates a higher concentration of pollutants each time, and the problem is made worse in busier households. Things such as chemical smells, ash, mold, and any other number of tiny particles can all become airborne and cause problems.

 

If the indoor air problems are left untreated, they can cause serious health concerns. They may worsen allergy and asthma symptoms, and, in some cases, cause them to appear in the first place. They can also lead to a variety of respiratory illnesses and disorders, especially over the long term. You may find yourself having trouble breathing at first, and that is often one of the first signs that something is wrong. When you find yourself in such a position, it is vital for you to contact an HVAC contractor as soon as possible to see if you can have your indoor air quality improved. These professionals can provide a very valuable indoor air quality service, helping clear the area up for easier breathing and better functioning systems. They will also be more than happy to answer any questions that you may have about the indoor air quality maintenance process.

What You Need To Know About Solar Water Heating Systems

water-system

Solar energy has been in the news often lately. Due to its cost-effective nature, many homes and businesses are now relying on solar energy to power their electricity. As solar power’s popularity rises, it has become useful in many other areas besides just powering electricity. One of these areas is water heating.

 

There are a few types of solar water heating system available on the market today. The two primary types of water heating systems are referred to as “active” and “passive” systems. Active systems work by distributing the water through the system with a series of pumps. The pumps make the active systems more efficient, but also more expensive.

 

Understanding the different systems within each group is essential for selecting a solar hot water heating system. While the passive systems may be more reliable in the long run,  they aren’t suitable for every type of home. Homes that are located in colder climates will be better suited by a system that utilizes freezing resistant liquids, which can only be found in active solar heating systems. Households that are relatively active during the day will find certain passive systems more to their liking. It’s not just important, but necessary to take the time to meticulously consider every factor that goes into selecting and installing your solar water heating system. Everything from the climate you live in to the local laws can affect how your system is installed. Since the process is so complicated, you should strongly consider hiring a professional contractor.

 

After the system is installed, the job still isn’t done. Regular maintenance is required to keep your system running smooth and strong. Have your contractor inspect your equipment every few years and be aware that active systems will need more attention. In fact, the active systems will need to have various parts replaced as time goes on. Now that you’ve gotten your solar system installed, you can maximize the cost-effectiveness by looking into other energy preserving items. Installing solar power in your home can offer an excellent starting point for branching out into other areas of cost-effective home improvement. In this day and age, you can find everything from energy saving light bulbs to dishwashers and laundry machines that use a fraction of the water to do their jobs. There’s an entire world of energy efficient products just waiting to be utilized.

 

Despite the upfront cost, a solar power system will more than pay for itself in savings through the years. Whether you’re interested in saving a few bucks on your energy bill or looking to become a more environmentally conscious person, a solar water heating system will save more, waste less, and benefit your home for years to come.