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  • Megan Bonetti

    Conferencing Climate Change: Teamwork or Tug-of-war?

    By Megan Bonetti

    India. Culture, cows and rubbish. As an Aussie living for a short time in India it is such an intriguing country. Indians love their diverse nation yet they use the streets like rubbish dumps. Even my friends here tell me it’s ok to throw my paddle-pop wrapper out the car window. I can’t… so I just hold it tight and wait till I get home. Growing up in Australia, those ‘emu hunts’ in primary school have willed my littering days away. Yet I suspect that even my household trash bin will just be dumped across the road for the cows to eat or worse still, burnt on the street…for the cows to eat. This is India. Love it or hate it. (#tii) As an Australian social worker volunteering with an NGO in Southern India I witness the large divide between the rich and poor of this incredibly colourful nation. I work with many children whose whole families have had to migrate from various parts of India due to the rapid effects of drought on their land and the significant urbanisation of major cities in the last 10 years. It turns out India has seen a boom in it’s industrial and technological trades a little later than it’s western neighbours and they are loving it. But India’s urban boom is threatened with westerners telling them they have to stop producing and polluting. The earth doesn’t like it. Sorry India…We made our big capitalist bucks, but you don’t get that chance. Just when things are getting good and you’re developing astronomically, your main source of energy is being taken away. It turns out fossil fuels are the cheapest form of energy for the developing world, especially as they try in earnest to develop the same standard of living as we have. So as one the most formidable countries in the developing world, India not only has the pressures of navigating a massive population but also has to figure out how to go green on the cheap. It’s interesting that the Turnbull government has reluctantly agreed on a 5% reduction in carbon emissions in the next five years. “Phew! Glad we got through that one boys.” They wipe their sweaty brows while developing countries are drowning, burning and trying to survive on scant resources. These countries are just trying to make a crust, while Eurocentric nations are slowly turning a baguette into organic multigrain sourdough (and throwing the crusts to their hobby cows). If the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris is truly the last attempt for international cooperation, leaders cannot just show and tell their contribution and sit back with folded arms. But how can mere human individuals promote serious teamwork? This brings me back to the children I work with here in India. Every day their parent’s lives are tied to corrupt building associations. They are bonded labourers—gypsies moving from construction to construction. These families have no hope of returning to their now desolate homeland and are not provided social security measures that protect their livelihood. Then there is India’s neighbour, low-lying Bangladesh, experiencing saltwater intrusion that poisons whole water supplies for entire villages. In our own backyard we see Australian farmers shooting all their cattle only to turn the gun on themselves under the shadow of unprecedented drought. This is human impact. Global warming is not just about penguins and polar bears. Climate change is a social justice issue. We live in a globalised world. The industrial revolution brought us here; and climate change is the consequence. No longer do we just neighbour cities, we neighbour nations. The leaders of Australia must be held accountable to all their neighbours including the ones just trying to keep their head above water. It simply won’t do for wealthy nations, such as Australia, to show the world their own country’s carbon reductions and sit back down. This summit can’t work as a set menu; it has to be a potluck dinner, a time for sharing, understanding and safeguarding. For the sake of our beautiful earth and the many diverse cultures of the human race, this time I hope and pray that the leaders of the world provide a resounding voice for the marginalised. This summit and our government must not stop at figures, but uphold the basic democratic and human rights principles that cradle modern society. The United Nations was created so that man-made and worldwide calamities could no longer grasp our world with such authority. Well, it turns out a world war with Mother Nature is knocking on our doorstep. Will we listen and respond? I hope so.   For more information please visit the below links. They offer great insights into climate change realities and are positive and accessible resources for engaging the conversation. The reality of climate change | David Puttnam | TEDxDublin https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SBjtO-0tbKU India: Climate Change Impacts http://www.worldbank.org/en/news/feature/2013/06/19/india-climate-change-impacts Climate Change and the End of Australia http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/climate-change-and-the-end-of-australia-20111003 The Critical Decade: Climate Change and Health (Australia) http://www.climatecouncil.org.au/uploads/1bb6887d6f8cacd5d844fc30b0857931.pdf GoPro: Climate Change and the Optimistic Future https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sT6jtTtsG_M Paris Climate Conference: COP21 Explained https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1-qd8YCaoQ4 Why is the Paris UN climate summit important? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lnztR5JllA4 Adam asks new PM Malcolm Turnbull on climate change in Question Time https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cqXtKt-Is54 Morgan Freeman's Powerful Climate Change Short Film https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8YQIaOldDU8  
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  • Joseph Ramondeli

    Black Friday Promotes Over-Consumption and Waste

    By Joseph Ramondeli

    Black Friday Promotes Over-Consumption and Waste               Every year Thanksgiving weekend is overshadowed by Black Friday and in recent years Cyber Monday as well. Thanksgiving is supposed to be a time when families can get together, even if it’s just for a day or dinner, to talk and reconnect. However every year more American’s are focused on shopping. Stores are now open by 8:00 pm on Thanksgiving Day resulting in people sitting at the dinner table with their families while browsing on their phones for the best deals that they hope to buy in a few hours.  This is just another example of how our modern, technologically advanced society is constantly becoming more materialistic. Aside from Black Friday overshadowing an American holiday and tradition, it is an annual example of how Americans over-consume and by doing so are very wasteful.  A huge fraction of purchased goods during Black Friday and Cyber Monday are things that people don’t need, they are things they think they need. Advertisements and social trends play a big role in the impact of this event (I refuse to call it a holiday) and in our consumption behavior in general.             Companies are tricking and forcing us to buy un-needed goods through the use of planned obsolescence and perceived obsolescence.  Planned obsolescence is disappointing because it refers to how companies purposely make products to only last a few years and by doing so force consumers to by new products from them every couple of years. The most common example of this is electronic devices. Apple creates a new IPhone every year so that once yours break “accidentally” there’s a brand new, more expensive one to purchase as a replacement. Not to mention that such companies stop making old models, forcing you to buy the newest model. On the other hand, perceived obsolescence is promoted by companies but ultimately results from our own social actions. Companies, through advertisements, constantly throw the promotion of new goods in our face. It’s almost impossible to go anywhere or do anything without seeing an advertisement of some sort. These advertisements tend to increase around the holiday season, hence the origin of Black Friday. The main reason such advertisements work is due to the social pressure we put on each other and ourselves. Everyone wants the next new model or brand and once a friend or family member purchases something then we are pressured and attracted to buying it as well. The biggest example of this is the fashion industry, where new trends come and go each season resulting in constant purchasing of new, unnecessary clothing. These companies are clearly getting the better of us based on the success of such events as Black Friday and Cyber Monday.             So why is over-consumption such a bad thing, why should we care if people waste there money on unnecessary goods? It’s simple: overconsumption leads to waste! One of the downfalls to the technological advancements of today’s world is that we create materials that cannot be found in our natural world. This means that when we throw something out in the garbage it will never decompose. Purchasing many of today’s consumer goods is bad enough because most cannot be recycled and will sit in landfills, but over-consumption takes this once step further in that we buy more than we need! We buy new clothes or new phones before our old ones are worn our or broken. By doing so we are creating more waste because we constantly thrown away products that are still functional and contribute the ever-growing amount of waste humanity has created on this planet. In order to help reduce the waste we create of course we should recycle and reuse as much as possible. However, I believe that the creation of waste should be stopped at its source, and that’s our consumer purchasing. Buying less and using goods to there fullest is a sure way to decrease waste. Resisting social pressure and advertisements is key to getting this accomplished. So next year put the phones away and turn the TV off at the dinner table during Thanksgiving, you don’t need them. Joseph Ramondelli  
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  • Mark Piazzalunga

    DESERTEC project, Sahara Sun could power Europe by 2050

    By Mark Piazzalunga

    Sahara desert climate is hot and arid, everybody knows it. So how can this simple and well-known fact become the idea to power a continent like Europe? Let’s start from the principle: renewable energy is the future of energy; we assume that this sentence is true since all facts gets to this point. Second principle: European territory is restricted and allows the construction of a few plants that could use renewable energy. Paradoxically, countries like Africa have renewable sources, particularly solar, in abundance but scarce funds to make the best of these resources. Now find the connection. Is it possible to produce huge amounts of solar energy in Africa and transport them to Europe through energy infrastructures? Apparently yes, according to DESERTEC project developers and supporters. And what is DESERTEC? It’s an initiative of the Club of Rome (a global think tank that has its headquarters in Switzerland) started in 2009. Directly from the official website of the project (Desertec.org): "The DESERTEC concept was developed by a network of politicians, scientists and economists from around the Mediterranean, from which was born the DESERTEC Foundation. Demonstrates a way to provide climate protection, energy security and the development of sustainable energy generation from sites where renewable energy sources are at their most plentiful." In practical terms? Connect renewable energy power plants in Africa to Europe through a network of HVDC (High Voltage Direct Current) systems. The Foundation target is to build several renewable power plants of various types (mainly wind, photovoltaic and solar concentration) throughout North Africa. To support the project financially, the Foundation and other 12 companies (including Deutsche Bank, E.ON, RWE and ABB) created an industrial initiative: Dii GmbH. The construction project would continue until 2050 and for that date, the cost is estimated at € 400 billion, which means $ 546,720,000,000, approximately seven times Bill Gates’ fortune. It’s little bit expensive (life on Mars seems cheaper) but the entire network could provide Europe with the 15-20% of electricity that it needs. We must also consider the drastic decrease of pollution, direct effect of the project. This project isn’t just an idea but it seems an accurate and long-term plan. This could be an opportunity to connect two continents and to give them economic opportunities and jobs. There could be some problems like the wars and the instability of some of North Africa countries or how to get all 40 nations to agree to an arrangement for subsidizing the green electricity. There’s also the possibility to build the plants in Europe, just $ 54 billion more, and doing some math it brings to a shocking number: €2 per citizen per year to keep tens of thousands of jobs in Europe -- and to prevent Europe from becoming dependent on foreign countries for its electricity. Well, the project just started and it has the funds to go forward. We can't wait to see the results. Photo from Desertec.org
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Our community blogs

  1. There are plenty of good reasons to look at reducing your energy consumption. You might want to save money, for example, or you might want to do your part to help the environment. No matter what your needs, you can take a look at the four systems below to make an impact on your energy efficiency.

    Water Heater

    Your water heater is probably one part of your home that you don't think of as inefficient, but technology has marched on to the point that many heaters that are fifteen or twenty years old are wildly out of date. Switching over to a tankless heater will not only save you quite a bit on your energy bills, but it will also allow you to get hot water faster. Switching over to a new unit can be a great way to save money over the long run.

    The AC Unit

    Your AC unit is another home system that can be incredibly inefficient. This time, it's not just technology that's at fault - if you have a system that's the wrong size for your home, your energy bills might go through the roof. It's a good idea to have an AC installation service come out to your home and take a look at your system to see if it could be replaced with something that's a bit more efficient.

    Your Washer and Dryer

    This is another area in which technology has changed for the better. Many modern washers are much more efficient than their older counterparts, washing more thoroughly while still using less water. Modern dryers, on the other hand, use less energy while still getting your clothing dry. Upgrading to a new washer and dryer can actually save you the money over the course of a few years while still allowing you to do something to help the environment.

    Lighting

    Finally, lighting is an upgradable area that is often overlooked. At a bare minimum, you can switch out old lights for energy-efficient lighting. If you really want to go all-out, though, you can switch over to smart lights. These lights automatically turn off when you're not in the room, adjust their brightness based on personal settings, and can even be set to timers so they're only on when they are really needed. If you want the most efficient lighting, smart lights are the way to go.

    Reducing your energy usage may really be as simple as replacing some common systems in your home. Look at the lighting, air conditioning, washing, and even your water heater as places where you can make a change. With a little effort, you can really dial down your energy consumption.

    4 Home Systems That Can Easily Be More Energy Efficient.jpg

  2. Incidence of lung cancer

    Lung cancer has the highest incidence of cancer in the world. According to WHO’ statistics, there are an estimated 18.1 million new cancer patients worldwide in 2018, of which lung cancer accounts for about 2.094 million, accounting for 11.6%. Lung cancer treatment drugs are also the focus of research and development of major pharmaceutical enterprises. From earlier afatinib and gefitinib to now osimertinib and PD-1/L1 inhibitors, it can be found that although these drugs have been approved for lung cancer, but the specific types of lung cancer are different.

    Classification of lung cancer

    The classification of lung cancer is a very complicated problem. To define exactly what kind of lung cancer is, it needs to be combined with the three aspects of typing, staging and molecular information to understand.

    Cancer typing mainly describes what lung cancer cells look like. According to the morphological characteristics of lung cancer cells under microscope, lung cancer cells can be initially divided into two types: small cell lung cancer (SCLC) and non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). The growth characteristics, diffusion risk and treatment regimen of these two types of lung cancer are different, so we should first distinguish between the two types of lung cancer. The vast majority of lung cancer is NSCLC, which accounts for about 85%. NSCLC can be further divided into three types: adenocarcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and large cell carcinoma. Adenocarcinoma is the main type, accounting for about 50% of NSCLC.

    Staging mainly describes the diffusion degree of lung cancer cells. After lung cancer is diagnosed, doctors use a series of tests to determine the staging of lung cancer by examining whether the cancer is only locally or has spread to lymph nodes or other organs of the body. NSCLC and SCLC are slightly different in the professional staging system, but for the convenience of communication, they can be summarized into 0, I, II, III or IV. I, II, III will sometimes be divided into A and B, such as IIA, IIIB and so on. Stage 0 and I have the best prognosis and the highest cure rate, while stage IV is commonly referred to as advanced cancer, indicating that the cancer has metastasized to other tissues or organs.

    Molecular information is genotyping. According to the type of gene mutation, lung cancer can be divided into EGFR mutation, ALK mutation and ROS1 mutation. Different types of gene mutations are suitable for different targeted drugs.

    Classification of drugs for lung cancer

    At present, targeted drugs are mainly aimed at the types of gene mutations in NSCLC. According to the staging of lung cancer, surgical treatment, chemotherapy, radiotherapy and other traditional methods are generally used in stage I, II and III. In addition, stage IV has different treatment methods according to the type of gene mutation.

    Targeted therapeutic drugs and immunotherapeutic drugs are the two mainstream therapeutic drugs for lung cancer, in which targeted therapeutic drugs are divided into small molecules and macromolecules. Small molecule targeted drugs are mainly used in the treatment of NSCLC, such as mutation of EGFR and ALK, while macromolecular targeted drugs mainly refer to VEGF/VEGFR monoclonal antibodies. Immunotherapy is a good choice for patients without obvious driving gene, mainly refers to PD-1/PD-L1.

    Genotyping and treatment of lung cancer

    EGFR-TKI: EGFR mutation is a type of gene mutation with high incidence in lung cancer. In view of this mutation, erlotinib, gefitinib and afatinib have been approved one after another. In the FLAURA trial, the median progression-free survival time of osimertinib was 18.9 months, which was much higher than that of gefitinib / erlotinib group (10.2 months). However, there is no solution to the treatment after first-line drug resistance of osimertinib.

    ALK-TKI: ALK-TKI is mainly used to treat NSCLC with ALK positive mutation. The first, second and third generations of ALK-TKI have been approved, which are crizotinib, ceritinib and alectinib, respectively. The National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) guidelines recommend alectinib as the first line of treatment for NSCLC with ALK positive mutation. Among them, crizotinib and alectinib are used in the treatment of locally advanced or metastatic NSCLC patients with ALK positive mutation. Ceritinib is used in patients with locally advanced or metastatic NSCLC who have previously progressed after treatment with crizotinib or who are intolerant to crizotinib.

    VEGF/VEGFR monoclonal antibodies: bevacizumab combined with chemotherapy, EGFR-TKI and PD-L1 immune checkpoint for the treatment of NSCLC has been approved by FDA. At the same time, bevacizumab combined with ALK-TKI is also in the clinical trial stage.

    PD-1/L1: PD-1/L1 is mainly aimed at lung cancer without obvious driving gene. FDA has approved multiple PD-1/L1 therapies for various indications of lung cancer.

  3. photo-1463554050456-f2ed7d3fec09?ixlib=r

    Having a home garden can be a great hobby. You can enjoy beautiful flowers and tasty vegetables throughout the year. If you’re considering trying to make your garden more green, here are four great eco-friendly tips that you can employ this year.

    Install a Rain Barrel

    One of the best ways to help be eco-friendly while saving yourself some green in the process is using rainwater to water your garden. By installing a simple rain barrel to collect the drainage from the gutters in your home, you can have freely accessible water to feed your garden. All you’ll need is a watering can and you’ll be set. If you don’t have access to rainwater from gutters, strategically place a few barrels around your yard to collect free falling rain.

    Use Compost Soil

    One of the best things you can do for your garden is to use compost soil. This natural soil is enriched with various nutrients that your average soil could be lacking. If you don’t know anybody that has a compost where you can get soil from, don’t be afraid to start your own. There are many guides on how to compost online that you can refer to in order to get started. We’re sure you’ll be super happy with your harvest when you use composted soil over regular soil.

    Install Bird Feeders

    This one may have you thinking a little bit, but let us explain. Birds are natural predators for grub worms, snails, and other insects that can be harmful to your plants. By installing bird feeders near your garden, these birds will act as a natural protector for your plants. This will help to reduce your need for insecticide.

    Choose Your Plant Pairings Wisely

    Just the process of picking out the right plants that complement each other can do wonders for reducing your need for natural growth simulators and insecticides. For example, marigolds are well-known for deterring unwanted soil-based and flying insects. They make a great pair for plant varieties that are commonly preyed by these types of insects. Hosta, also known as a plantain lily, is a nice tall plant that helps to offer shade to those plants which are shorter.

    Being a more eco-friendly gardener doesn’t have to be a difficult transition. By simply learning tactics like the ones above, you’ll be well on your way to making the transition. The more eco-friendly habits that you can get used to, the more helpful you’ll be to the environment around you.

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    In the 1970s, China witnessed a growth of its economy and its expansion only continued over the course of the next few decades, accelerating as the years went by. However, China’s massive economic growth has come with a hefty price in the form of vast environmental pollution that followed its rapid expansion. In this article, we are taking a look at the air pollution as the number one problem on the country’s national scale, all the different ideas and strategies that China is employing in order to tackle the problem, as well as the progress it has made in recent years.

    Declaring war on air pollution

    Six years have passed since China had faced the much dreaded ‘airpocalypse’ when smog scores exceeded the safety limits up to 35 times in the capital city of Beijing in 2013. After Beijing acknowledged that the situation had escalated to the point of threatening the safety of its citizens and realized that its air pollution problem can no longer be masked, the air pollution crisis it was caught up in was finally recognized by China’s government, who promised to take serious action. Reaching GDP targets wasn’t the only goal the government was trying to attain, as it started placing emphasis on the quality of the growth. The industries that added to the environmental pollution were now discouraged, and so did those that relied on the intensive use of resources. In addition, the factories and plants that didn’t manage to meet the newly-imposed standards were shut down, and the new policy applied to even the largest enterprises, and those who violated these obligations faced penalties.

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    The idea and the strategy

    A couple of ideas and strategies were employed as a way of dealing with the alarming environmental crisis China found itself in. Li Keqiang, China’s Premier, promised a greener future for the citizens of China, declaring war to pollution the same way he declared war to poverty. As a result of his commitment, urban areas were asked to reduce the concentration of pollutants in the air by ten percent as an attempt to improve the national air quality, while metropolitan areas such as Beijing had an even higher target. The plants had to reduce emissions, while the coal-fueled power plants were prohibited from being constructed. Urban areas saw a drop in vehicle emissions, and coal boilers for residential heating were replaced with gas heating. A number of measures against pollution were introduced as a way of achieving cleaner air, water, and soil, and that’s when the problem of pollution in China finally started to look solvable, and the seemingly dismal look at the future was replaced with the ray of hope for the citizens of China.

    Waging war on environmental pollution

    While green policies continue to be applied throughout the country, there are many fronts where China has to wage its war for greener future. While the PM2.5 pollution was managed to be brought down significantly, the ozone gas rose, and the scientists warn about its detrimental effects on human health as well as agricultural yields. The reduction of coal-fueled power continues to be high on the country’s list of priorities, and while the consumption of coal has increased by 3%, China persists in its pursuit to make a switch to gas, nuclear, and renewable power. In its attempt to reduce environmental pollution, China has also made a decision to stop importing waste from other countries and has even made efforts to employ a harsher residential recycling regime.

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    Clearing the air

    For decades, China has been putting its economic growth before the preservation of the environment. However, it seems that it has made a significant amount of progress since 1995. According to a study published in the Science Advances journal, the pollution that once went hand in hand with the economic growth of the country had begun to decline, which lead to the weakening of this relationship. A number of factors played a significant role in the research, some of them being environmental conditions, living standards in the country, health care, as well as regional differences. The forty-year-long study relied on multiple sources of existing data and showed that, while significant progress has been made, there’s still room for improvement when it comes to greenhouse gas emissions.

     

    In its efforts to save the planet and change its status as the biggest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, China has taken drastic measures to improve the national air quality. Its declaration of war on pollution has already started to pay off, while its response to the environmental crisis and implementation of eco-conscious ideas and strategies have opened up the possibility of China establishing itself as a leader in environmental protection and preservation.

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    For you, pets might be a valued part of your family, so you want to make sure they’re treated right. For example, the RSPCA noted that 19% of dog owners take man’s best friend with them on holiday, so it’s important to plan their journey ahead of time.

    In Sydney, there are various rules that explore the transportation and safety of pets on public transport. These refer purely to regular pets, as all guidance/assistance animals are accepted on public transport, provided you have an Assistance Animal Permit from the Transport Concessions Office.

    No pets are allowed on Sydney Metro/Train or coach services, or at any of their stations. They are, however, available on bus, ferry and light rail services. For all services, you need to gain permission from either the driver or the crew.

    If allowed, the pet must be restrained in a suitable box or container, not be placed on any seats, and must be kept clean and calm. The driver has final say on the admittance of the animal. Other states such as Victoria and South Australia are slightly more lenient with train travel, provided the animal is fitted with a muzzle or contained.

    Traveling by car can be an entirely different story, as everyone’s car houses pets in different ways. There are still some important rules to cover, however, to ensure that your pets enjoy the trip as much as you do.

    Before you leave you should keep the number for your vet and pet insurance handy, so they can be contacted in the event of an emergency. The animal should also be taken to the vet before the trip, so they can receive the necessary immunisations and treatments.

    Dogs are legally required to be restrained with a dog seat belt or harness, while cats should be placed in a cat carrier. Air-con should be kept on to ensure your pet is kept cool and comfortable, or at least allow for adequate ventilation if this is not possible.

    It’s a good idea to prepare some treats, toys and bottles of water for your pet while on your trip, in addition to having your leash handy if they need to go for a walk. Having a pooper-scooper and/or plastic bag ready to pick up any droppings is also recommended.

    Plan ahead to allow for regular breaks and rest stops – at least every two hours or so - so that both you and your pet can get out and stretch. Make sure they are fitted with updated ID tags or are microchipped, so you can be contacted if they are lost.

    Perhaps you can plan a stop ahead of time and allow your pet to let out some excitement. If you’re going through the city, find a fun area with Parkhound and you can rent out a one-time space for you to stretch your legs and have some fun with your pet.

    If you intend on taking your furry friend with you on a plane – for a domestic flight, for example – check with the airline to ensure what their policies for animals are. Some may allow you to keep the animal in the cabin, while others may only allow you to store your pet in the cargo in a carry case.

    As with all transportation, it’s important that you weigh up the pros and cons of any forms of travel so that you can keep your pets healthy and happy. Some pets may not take well to the movements and sounds of cars, trains and planes, so make sure to research what may be the best ways to transport your pet to your next destination.

  6. When cleaning the household, we often don’t place as much emphasis as we should on our product selections. What does it matter anyway? Cleaning is cleaning, right?

    What if I told you that the emissions from the various chemicals used within a multitude of household products are at the equivalent level of automobile emissions when it comes to air quality? It is a discomforting fact unless you enjoy simulating what it is like to huff exhaust fumes. Product selection should be important to you. Keep reading as the experts at Safe Green Cleaning educate more.

    Making the Right Choice


    So how do we go about making the safest choice for cleaning the home? The trick is to keep an eye out for volatile organic compounds, or VOC’s. VOC’s are tiny particles that can travel and take force themselves inside your lungs. These same microbial chemicals cause a plethora of nasty issues, such as eye irritation, nose irritation, wheezing, asthma attacks and respiratory infections. Even more disturbingly, there exists a link to possible long-term effects to kidneys, liver, the central nervous system and cancer.


    With all these hazards, it is imperative to make the correct selection. Sadly, it is not as easy as taking a quick glance at the back of the product container. In many cases, the label on the product is devoid of such a list. Federal law does not require companies to provide such a warning.


    Fortunately, California legislated SB 258: The Cleaning Product Right to Know Act. This law did create a nationwide directive that forced the organizations manufacturing cleaning supplies to provide ingredients contained within the fragrance.

    Deciphering the Bad Labels


    It doesn’t take a specialized degree to filter through the nuance surrounding the complicated language referencing the ingredients printed on the labels. We’re going to teach you what terms to look out for when making a selection. Listed below are common terms you’ll find on cleaning supplies.

    Active Ingredients


    These are actively bad for your health. Generally, these are antibacterial pesticides used to kill bacteria, viruses and mold. There are far safer alternatives to utilize. Anything with the above listing is not required to clean your house.

    Enzymes


    These are proteins, often mixed in with cleaners to break down soils and stains. These are natural, so it is easy to disregard them as safe. For example, a toxigenic chemical, boric acid, is commonly added to stabilize the enzymes. This combo is most hazardous when the reproductive system is exposed to it.

    Optical Brightener


    As the name implies, it can make fabrics appear brighter to the naked eye. Laundry detergent will utilize optical brightener. It can blanket the clothing being run through the washing machine. Optical brightener can also cling to the clothing even after a rinsing. This fact is relevant because the brightener chemical can also cause skin irritation.

    Organic


    Okay, something labelled organic has to be a safe pick, right? Sadly, this idea is not foolproof. Given there are no legal restrictions regarding the term organic, it pays to be skeptical. It is a loaded term which can mean a whole lot of nothing; a USDA Organic logo is the only safeguard to go off of when making a selection. The logo does create a legal imperative that makes the company bound to honor their claim of the item being organic. If the logo is absent, pick the product at your own risk.

    Surfactant


    A surfactant is a chemical compound used to loosen dirt and grease. They are necessary for cleaning. It is also true that some surfactants are safer than others. Certain surfactants are toxic to aquatic life, like nonylphenol ethoxylates, and are slow to decompose.

    What Labels are Safe?


    Given the list has been all negative, this question is inevitable. Fortunately, there exist safe selections. The terms you want to look for will say biodegradable, Green Seal / Ecologo, essential oils and free and clear of perfumes and dyes. Looking for these labels will help you make a safe selection for your household cleaning and avoid hazardous VOC’s.

  7. Going eco-friendly seems to be the next big trend. Big companies, small businesses and individuals altogether have teamed up to reduce the impact that human life has on the planet. Sustainable homes have increased in popularity, not only because they leave a much smaller footprint on the environment, but because they are a far better investment in the long run.

    The list of benefits you get by living in a green house is long and constantly updated, but the most important ones still remain the same:

    Low maintenance costs

    The main purpose of eco-friendly homes is to be built from materials that are both less invasive for the environment, but also more durable, so that you don’t have to constantly fix or rebuild things and waste more resources. This way, even though some green materials cost more than traditional ones, you will end up saving more in the future.

    When you buy or build a new house, don’t think only about the initial investment, but also about the impact it will have on your wallet in the next 10 or 15 years. For example, building a house that has lots of big windows, which allow sunlight to pass through, will help you save tremendously on energy costs.

    At the same time, the materials used have a much smaller impact on your health. Conventional construction materials give off chemical emissions that, although small, can affect the air you breathe. This is why lots of people recur to humidifiers or other appliances to help get rid of the dry, unbreathable air. Eco-friendly materials are not only safer, but help with air circulation and ventilation.

    Energy efficiency

    Possibly one of the first reasons people decide to move into eco-friendly houses is that they are extremely energy efficient, which means you utility bills will be much lower. One of the prime sources for energy is coal. But coal is a non-renewable resource, not to mention that mining coal is extremely polluting for the environment.

    A sustainable home is designed is such way that it takes advantage of as many natural resources as possible. For example, when setting up the layout of the house, rooms that are the most used, such as kitchen or living room are placed on the side of the house that receives the most natural light throughout the day, to avoid having to use artificial light. Big windows are also a part of the design, for the same reason.

    On top of that, green building constructors also recommend installing solar panels, so you can make use of the energy from the sun as much as possible.

    It makes for a good long-term investment

    The popularity of green buildings is increasing tremendously, which means that, in 10 years, traditional homes are going to become less and less desirable. Investing in an eco-friendly home now means staying ahead of the market and laying the ground for profit in the future. Even owners of luxurious homes are looking to make adjustments so that their houses are more environmentally friendly.

    Those adjustments help increase house value and turn their properties into mines of gold. The reason that people are looking to spend more on a sustainable home precisely because they will get more out of it in the future. Eco-friendly houses are also easier to sell and retail for more than traditional ones.

    Better living conditions

    Less invasive materials and more use of natural resources are what make a sustainable house better to live in. When you take advantage of natural light all day long, you are more prone to be productive, feel relaxed and enjoy living in your house.

    The materials used have a lower emission of chemicals, lowering the risks for asthma or allergies that may occur due to mold. Thus, the air inside is more breathable and makes for a healthier indoor environment.

    Temperature regulation is also one of the key elements that constructors take into consideration when building eco-friendly homes. Eco-friendly materials are designed in such way that they help with insulation and temperature fluctuation much more than traditional ones.

    Smaller environmental footprint

    Last, but not least, you will help the planet. By using materials that are not damaging the environment, you will become an active part of the movement that is trying to make Earth a better place. Meeting your needs does not mean you have to endanger the world around you and it is entirely possible to live comfortably, while at the same time thinking about nature.

    All processes of traditional building are affecting the environment in one way or another. Be it because constructors are not disposing of materials in a conscious way, or because traditional energy systems are leaving a huge carbon footprint. Green buildings contribute to reducing the greenhouse effect and lay out a better world for future generations to live in.

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    Energy consumption without a doubt is a hot topic in this day and age. It’s been a big topic for quite some time now, too, and with good reason. People are becoming more and more thoughtful with regard to their approaches to energy use. If you want to minimize your consumption of energy in a big way, there are all sorts of intelligent things that you can try right now.

    Unplug, Unplug, Unplug

    Unplugging may seem like a simple thing. It can actually be a game-changing strategy for people who are passionate about decreasing their energy consumption substantially, however. If you want to do the planet a massive favor, you should take the time to unplug your household appliances any time you do not require them. Doing so only takes a couple of seconds or so.

    Learn All About Electric Water Heating

    Electric water heating is often the answer for people who want to lower energy consumption dramatically. You can work with a capable electrician who can point you into the right direction regarding electric water heater selection. Try to find out about electric water heaters that are known for superior energy efficiency. Your electrician should be able to provide you with fantastic recommendations.

    Take Advantage of the Gift of Daylight

    Lighting should be one of your focal points. If you want to take charge of your use of energy, you should contemplate your lighting strategy at home in great detail. It can be a wonderful idea to buy lighting products that are associated with energy efficiency. It can be just as wonderful an idea to prioritize daylight. Skylights and windows make taking advantage of daylight a possibility. They’re both highly energy-efficient as well.

    Invest in Residential Insulation

    Residential insulation can go an incredibly long way for all households that are keen on the concept of lowering energy consumption significantly. If you insulate your living space well, then you can stop the frustrating loss of heat from taking place. Basement, attic and wall insulation can all do a lot to lower wintertime electricity use dramatically. Don’t forget that insulation can even aid you in times of higher temperatures.

    People these days have more concerns about the world than ever before. If you’re in that camp, then you don’t have to feel helpless in any sense. If you want to aid the planet, you can do your part by minimizing your energy consumption.

  9. Sympathy flowers are such a comforting gift and an elegant way of expressing your sympathy. Do you want to express sorrow on the death of your loved ones? But you do not have words to express then condolence flower can be an ideal choice of showing your concern it speaks for what your heart is saying in times of their lonely moment. It lessens the trauma of the person who is experiencing great mourn. Life and beauty are what these flowers speak for. It's hard to say something when your friend or loved one is grieving and yet in some ways, you wanted to show that you care and you are willing to offer them comfort is through sympathy floral arrangement, the best gift for the most heartbreaking moments.  

    Why send sympathy floral arrangement on the memorial day?

    Nobody can explain in words the feelings which the deceased person's family was in such a situation. It is scientifically proven that flowers help to recover from depression and sadness. People can send funeral flowers personally or by a florist on their behalf. So if someone passes away one should send a funeral wreath to the grieving family to show that people care for them. Giving funeral wreath to the grieving family in respect of the person who passed away is a common practice. Sending flowers to the family during such difficult times show certain care and concern and also respect to the deceased person. It is true that people cannot take away the sorrow with sending flowers, but the gift in the form of the funeral wreath can bring a tinge of happiness to the grief-stricken family.  

    The funeral wreath is available in different forms with a ribbon on it expressing a message of condolence for the loved one. If you are in an embarrassing situation where you cannot have any words to express your condolence then it is the flowers that can be your best option. Sympathy flowers not only offer consolation and comfort to the bereaved, but they also provide an atmosphere of quiet celebration of the life of the one who has passed. if you are close to the affected family, it is important to send the flowers directly to the family or home. There also online shops that offer the service and can deliver on your behalf. 

    What flower colors are acceptable?

    Flowers of any color say so much about your feelings whether silently want to say that you love someone or express your condolence and grief; you can do it by sending the floral arrangement in the form of the condolence flower. Condolence flowers are often in a vase, basket or bouquet. You can also wish to attach sympathy gifts to show that you genuinely care for that person. Sometimes the family decides to purchase across flower type of arrangement for the funeral services, and these crosses come in a medium of different sizes. The condolence flowers are made with the combination of different colored flowers and some flowers that have some special significance and meaning for that particular occasion. The condolence flowers can be made with roses, carnations, daisies, and if you want to add a personal touch to the bouquet then you add some flowers loved by the deceased person to pay him or her tribute that he deserves.

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  10. The world is experiencing more threats from pollution than ever before. In addition to the climate, there are other factors that are making it more dangerous to ignore green technologies. Therefore, it is important to understand the benefits of using renewable natural gas. Here are several points to consider as we move forward:

    Recycling

    There is no secret that recycling is going to be an important part of moving forward into future generations. When we simply use products one time and throw them away, it takes away from the power we have to reuse those materials. Natural gas is used in a lot of recycling projects to prevent the greenhouse gases that pollute the atmosphere, making it key to the future of a green world.

    Heat and Cooling

    If there is one kind of energy usage that is harmful to the planet, it is heating and cooling. The machines and gases that are used in this are always being emitted into the atmosphere. Even worse, the electricity that powers these in the first place is generated via harmful, polluting mechanisms. In order to have a green world, we need to find ways to reduce this. Luckily, natural gas is a much more efficient form of natural energy. It is not going to pollute as much as a fossil fuel will.

    Cars

    There are more cars than we will ever know what to do with on earth. This means that they are either going to be on the road putting out chemicals or they are going to be put in dumps where their chemicals will leak into the environment. Either way, their gas usage should be reduced or at least switched to natural gas which is better for everyone and the planet's natural ecosystem.

    Heavy Machinery

    With a steam generator powered on natural gas, you can get machinery moving. You don't have to spend as much on the extraction of harmful fuels either. This is a winning scenario for everyone involved and is an exciting glimpse into the future of green energy.

    Not all kind of energy is created equal. Some forms actually empower us to live cleaner lives and do better for the world in which we live. When we have the opportunity to use these, it is important to take advantage of them to full effect. So make sure to review the benefits above and see how you can us natural gas in your daily life to make an impact.

    Keeping the World Green 4 Environmental Benefits of Using Renewable Natural Gas.PNG

  11. Remodeling your kitchen is an excellent chance to upgrade it in term of eco-friendliness. You will finally get a chance to separate waste and apply natural cleaning solutions in order to cause the least amount of harm to the environment. The best thing is that these changes will not require a huge amount of money because you can work with what you’ve got and the little you do need to invest is a small investment compared to the benefits you get.

    You will see how a remodeled kitchen will soon turn into a hub of social activity in the house as even the children will want to join the whole ecological hype that their parents became part of. We provide you here with a 5-step checklist that will help you transform your kitchen into an eco-friendly space that will work with Mother Nature, not against it.

    1. The labels have to be green

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    Whatever additions you decide to introduce into your kitchen, whether it is something as simple as a new teapot or even a brand new countertop, this product must bear a green label. This means that the product has been subject to testing on how the ingredients of materials for it were produced. A label of the color green usually stands for sustainability, like the Follow to Frog sign and the Forest Stewardship Council stamp that indicates that fruit or timber have been outsourced from regions that care about protecting the local environment.

    2. Cork for flooring

    The bark of the cork tree is used for kitchen flooring as a cheap and efficient replacement for linoleum, hardwood floors, and tiles. It is fairly easy to install, as it is simply glued to the existing surface, like concrete. Once in place, it is coated with acrylic that will ensure cork is waterproof and slip-resistant. Because it has a rather soft texture, it will act as a natal spring that will adjust to the weight of your body, so you can even walk barefoot over it. This can come in handy when children play around the kitchen and if one of them falls down, the cork will cushion the blow.

    3. Plexiglas in the kitchen?

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    The material you never thought belonged inside the kitchen is Plexiglas. Well, the automotive industry does not have exclusive rights over it as kitchen walls can benefit from it too. A thin layer of Plexiglas over the kitchen tiles impregnates their joints and ensures they are 100% waterproof, so no mold or mildew will ever form. The best thing about Plexiglas, that you can outsource from Plastic Wholesale Online is the fact that it is an eco-friendly material that does not hurt the environment. Basically, anything around the kitchen that needs waterproofing could be treated with Plexiglas in order to decrease the impact on the environment.

    4. Reducing energy consumption

    In terms of reducing the carbon print, you want to make sure your new kitchen is as energy efficient as possible. This is done by introducing green energy through house appliances and the reduction of total energy used. For the latter, a simple change in the type of light bulbs you use can make a huge difference. Replace the incandescent light bulbs with LED ones and just look at your energy consumption going down. As with everything else, when shopping for new appliances look for the Energy Star logo that ensures the manufacturer took great care of energy inefficient.

    5. Composting

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    The last item on our checklist concerns the way we manage organic waste. Recyclables should go into separate bins but food leftovers should end up outside, not in the trash can but in the garden compost. You can create it in order to decrease the total amount of waste you generate and later use the compost in your garden instead of buying hummus from the local garden center.

     

    Finally, going eco-friendly is more than possible in the kitchen and in every other room in the house. Use our 5-step checklist as the guide during the initial phases of the kitchen remodeling project.

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  12. If you have recently decided to install solar panels, then you need to start thinking about some ways that you can make the most out of that technology. Even though modern solar panels require very little maintenance, quite a bit can be done to improve their efficiency and prevent unnecessary damage. Here is a look at a few tips and tricks that will take your solar energy system to the next level. 

    How to Get the Most Out of Solar Panels.JPG

    Feed Less Energy Back Into the Grid
    Using the energy as it is being produced is going to reduce waste and lower your overall bills. That is why many experts suggest using high-consumption devices during the middle of the day. That includes your dishwasher, washing machine, and dryer. You should also consider upgrading to an electric water heater to further improve the efficiency of your home and reduce your monthly expenses. 

    Install a Backup Battery 
    In addition to being more affordable than ever, residential lithium batteries are also exceedingly efficient. With a high-quality battery system, you might be able to use almost 100 percent of the energy that your solar panels produce. If your local power company increases the cost of electricity during certain hours of the day, then you can simply switch over to the battery during those hours and save some money. Installing a backup battery is a relatively simple project, and an experienced contractor should be able to finish the job in a single day. 

    Maintain the Panels Themselves 
    As a general rule, you should carefully inspect all of your solar panels at least two or three times a week. You want to be absolutely sure that the panels aren’t caked in mud, covered in leaves, or under thick branches. Depending on where you live, you might need to clean the panels once or twice a month as well. Most dirty panels can easily be cleaned with a hose, but you might need to use a sponge and some warm water with a little bit of soap in it if there is quite a bit of grime. 

    Upgrade Your Roof 
    Before your panels are installed, you should consider contacting a company such as Landmark Roofing to upgrade your roof. A roofing company can replace your old tiles with metal sheets and improve the angle of the roof itself. In most locations, solar panels work best when the roof is between 30 and 45 degrees. Panels that are perfectly flat will be exposed to sunlight for longer stretches of time, but the energy production is going to be much lower. 

    Once your panels have been installed, you need to keep a close eye on your energy consumption each and every day. Sudden changes to your input or output could be the result of a serious issue that needs to be addressed.

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    Although the problem of protecting the environment may seem like an insurmountable one, there are many simple steps that every person can take to make a small positive impact. If everyone begins to take measures to reduce carbon use and waste, saving the planet will become a much easier proposition. Here are four simple things you can do to help save the environment in your own small way.

    Walk and Bike More

    Driving is one of the most common ways in which practically everyone releases greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. By walking or riding your bike for short trips, you can considerably reduce the amount of carbon dioxide produced as a result of your transportation needs. As an added benefit, walking and biking are excellent forms of exercise, meaning you’ll get some great physical activity as well.

    Plant Trees on Your Property

    If you have a large enough piece of property, consider planting a few trees to help absorb carbon dioxide. A single tree can sequester a full ton of carbon over the first 40 years of its life. By planting several trees on your property, you can create a passive form of carbon sequestration that will continue for decades to come.

    Get into the Habit of Recycling

    One of the best ways to prevent unneeded waste from polluting land and water is to recycle as much of your garbage as you can. Plastics, glass and paper can easily be recycled by most municipal governments, meaning that you just have to sort them appropriately. Iron, steel, copper, and aluminum scrap metal recycling are usually handled by specialized processing centers, but it isn’t too difficult to find these facilities in most cities. By recycling more of what you use, you can prevent waste from ending up in landfills and keep extra energy from being expended in extracting new natural resources.

    Grow Some of Your Own Food

    One of the more difficult environmental problems to address is the fact that the agricultural techniques needed to supply food for more than 7 billion humans are extremely harmful to the planet. Forests are often destroyed to clear land, while herbicides, pesticides and fertilizers pollute groundwater reserves on massive farms. One thing you can do to partially reduce your impact in this area is to start an organic garden at home. Growing your own food with environmentally friendly methods will lower your carbon footprint and give you access to plenty of fresh, healthy produce.

    These are just a few of the many small actions you can take to play a role in saving the planet. You should also try to encourage friends and family members to do the same, as the effect of these small steps will grow as more and more people begin to take them.

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    Keeping your neighborhood clean can be good for aesthetic purposes. It can also be good for keeping the planet happy and safe for all for generations and generations to come. If you want to do your part in helping the planet, you should think about setting up a trash cleanup project in your community.

    Set a Great Example

    If you want your neighbors to follow suit, you should begin by setting a great example. Pick up trash around your neighborhood in the middle of the day when other people can easily see you. You may just motivate others to do the same exact thing. If people ask you what you’re doing, tell them proudly.

    Reach out to Your Neighbors

    Don’t hesitate to reach out to neighbors who are friendly and cooperative. You may want to call or email them to ask them if they’d be interested in joining forces with you in your cleanup effort. They may not be able to resist taking part. If you make your cleanup project sound fun and interesting, it may encourage more and more people to team up with you.

    Post a Listing on the Internet

    Word gets around rapidly on the Internet. If you want to spread the word about your neighborhood cleanup effort, you can choose to post a free listing on a classified website. Look for a classified website that caters to your specific neighborhood. It’s critical to mention your community name in the header for the listing, too. If people learn about your project on the Internet, it may persuade them to reach out to you to lend a helping hand.

    Rent a Dumpster

    You can simplify your neighborhood garbage cleanup project by getting your hands on a sizable dumpster for disposal purposes. There are trustworthy companies that offer durable skips for rent. If you rent a roomy dumpster or two, you can get rid of significant levels of garbage. This can spare you a lot of frustration. Dumpsters can make doing away with trash straightforward and speedy.

    Trash and a gorgeous planet simply do not go hand in hand. If you want your neighborhood to be immaculate and lovely, then you need to prioritize cleanup work. You can make prioritizing a clean community a lot easier by getting help from other people who live near you. Remember, doing things in groups can be fun. It can also be a lot more efficient.

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    Owning an older home can be a wonderful way to enjoy some unique character that simply can’t be found in a newer home. At the same time, it’s rare to find an older home that can operate as efficiently as a newer home, specifically in the area of water conservation. Fortunately, though, while you might not be able to implement every last water-saving device, there are several great and easy ways to save water in your older home.

    New Fixtures

    If you have an older home, it’s likely that it’s equipped with older plumbing fixtures, as well. Unfortunately, these older fixtures do very little to conserve water. In order to save water, then, you can replace these fixtures, whether it’s a shower head, bathroom faucet, or kitchen faucet, with low-flow models to start seeing savings right away. Just be sure your home’s plumbing can adapt to these newer fixtures, as many have special water pressure requirements that your home may not be equipped for.

    Find Leaks

    The materials in pipes of any kind inevitably break down over time due to the different substances found in water. Over time, this can lead to leaky pipes, which can waste a lot of water. If your water bill is higher than expected, or if you have a visible leak somewhere, it’s important to call a plumber to complete these plumbing repairs as soon as possible to ensure the water doesn’t cause any damage and you don’t waste any money.

    Collect Rainwater

    If local ordinances allow, collecting rainwater can be a great way to reduce your water bill. Especially if you can’t install a water-saving irrigation system due to the older construction, collecting rainwater allows you to keep your landscaping well-watered without having to depend on the city water supply. Plus, diverting rainwater in this way helps prevent erosion on your property since the water is being prevented from continuing on to the sewer.

    Install a New Toilet

    In addition to new plumbing fixtures, a new toilet can be a great water-saving investment for your older home. If your toilet has been around since before 1994, it’s using almost two gallons more per flush than a modern toilet. If you consider how many times a day you use the bathroom, that can add up quickly. Installing a new toilet is a fairly easy and quick process that will more than pay for itself over time.

    Be Water Smart

    Whether your home is old or new, you can save water using other methods, as well. Turning off the water while brushing your teeth, taking shorter showers, and watering your lawn in the morning or evening to prevent evaporation are all great ways to save water. Ultimately, it’s important to treat water as a precious resource that is worth working to save. With a few easy fixes, it’s an effort that is totally accessible

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    So you want a home that's cool in the summer and warm in the winter, but you're sick and tired of paying ridiculous monthly energy bills. You look around and wonder if there's any way to keep your home comfortable, while not giving the utility company another dime. What options do you have for changing the temperature of your home's air while staying "off the grid?" Actually, more options than you probably think.

     

    Let the Outside In

    If the idea of high utility bills and constant maintenance don't sound like your idea of a relaxing summer, consider opening some windows to drop the temperature in your home. The key here is to allow air to flow through your home, as moving air feels much more refreshing on the skin than standing air. So, open up windows on the front and rear of your home, as wide as you can, and enjoy nature's free air conditioning.

     

    Go Old-Fashioned

    If the thought of chopping wood and wearing flannel get you fired up, consider heating your home the old-fashioned way, with a wood-burning fireplace. Though requiring more effort than a traditional furnace, a fireplace can efficiently warm the common areas of your home, supplemented by heavy blankets in bedrooms. Additionally, if you can access an inexpensive wood supply, you will have constant heat all winter for a fraction of the cost.

     

    Go Hi-Tech

    Solar is another option when considering going off the grid, though it has a high initial cost of investment. While many panels would be needed to adequately power an HVAC system, using smaller heating and cooling units, supplemented by other heating and cooling methods on this list, could allow you to meet your entire power need. Not to mention, many utilities and local governments offer substantial rebates for significant solar investment, resulting in a shorter time for you to recoup your initial cost.

     

    Go Down Under

    Geothermal systems can also be a practical component of off-the-grid living. These systems use pipes buried deep in the ground to take advantage of the more constant temperatures found at that depth. Always more refreshing than the surface in the summer, and warmer than the surface in winter, a decent-sized installation will enhance the effectiveness of other methods you use to reduce your utility bills. In more temperate climates, you may be able to rely solely on a geothermal system for all your heating and cooling needs.

     

    Charge It Up

    A large rechargeable battery, while not creating any energy of its own, is still a critical component to employ in an off-the-grid system. Large batteries store excess energy from other off-the-grid sources for many days, meaning that they can power heating and cooling appliances for a substantial amount of time. If you're planning on going completely off-the-grid, but don't want to change your lifestyle more than you have to, a battery is essential.


     

    Whether you choose to go off-the-grid only some or go all the way, off-the-grid heating and cooling methods can save you a vast amount of money, over time. Knowing the right techniques to integrate for your home and using them effectively will ensure that you have the best results, and are the envy of your friends and family when you tell them how you kissed the energy company goodbye.

     

    Resources

    Telegraph

    Classic Air

    Texas Fireframe

    House Logic

    HowStuffWorks

  17. In the last couple of decades, people became more conscious of the different ways we affect the environment. Our interested in ecology opened up topics like what damages we've done up until now, can we reverse them and can we prevent them from happening in the future. With global warming, polluted waters and deforestation more people want to take part in protecting our planet, bringing the conversation to our homes. Now we do our research and make conscious purchases.

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    Let's talk about cleaning for example. Some of the products we used to think are harmless, are now proven to be dangerous. They go down the sewer or into the ground on their way to disturb the natural eco-system.

    Some companies gained a bad reputation for using not-so-eco-friendly chemicals in their cleaning solutions. Behind the beautiful packages and expensive commercials stands something very ugly. The truth. "Kill all the germs!", "More powerful than ever!". What about when this solution goes into the sea? Nothing is lost, the poison just changes locations. Be sure, those chemicals are as bad for the fish, plants and you, as they are for the germs. Simply following the cycle of water, we can see how easily the dangerous chemicals find their way back into our homes.

    No wonder people have second thoughts about over-the-counter cleaning products. More people opt-in for professional cleaning services because they offer safe cleaning solutions. But beware! A lot of companies saw this demand as a possibility to break through the market, so they started labelling their products as "eco" and "organic". Some of them really are but most are just as bad as the previous ones. Their lie is hidden on the back of the labels.

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    People often get discouraged, as they feel like an insignificant speck in the cosmos. But we should all remember that big changes happen with one step (person and household) at a time. We shouldn't wait for others to change. We should take care of ourselves first and set a good example for everybody else.

    The number of bad things we should watch out for seems to be growing. From where do you begin?

    The first step is conscious purchases. Be aware that mass production is in fact "mass" because consumers buy the stuff. Think about it this way – with every choice you make, for every product you buy, you claim what world you want to live in. If you buy products with heavy, harmful chemicals or made by industries that exploit their workers, it's like giving them thumbs up for it. You invest in it, you give it green light. Having this in mind, you can now start applying it in your everyday life – from grocery shopping to what kind of paint you use for your house.

    The second step is to swap disposable items with reusable ones. Why do you have to spend who-knows-how-much dollars in your lifetime on something that you use only once? Like wet wipes for example. They don't disappear into thin air or dissolve in water as lots of people seem to think. "But it's only one wipe," said a million people while flushing it down the toilet. They build up, causing problems for plumbers, as well as for nature. Simply washing with water and soap should do the trick. And they should be replaced with reusable cloths in our households. We can at least try to cut down the usage.

    Getting back to the chemicals in the domestic cleaning products. Some of them (actually a great deal of them) are labelled as dangerous to the environment picturing a real wasteland – with a dead fish and a dead tree. This is pretty straightforward. But other companies slip under the radar. Thanks to laws and policies, the businesses are not obligated to list all of the ingredients of the product if there is very little of the toxins in it. Okay, so they're harmless then? Well, no. Combining cleaning solutions can be dangerous and the toxic chemicals build up.

    Even those that are labelled as “toxic-free” and “green” can be misleading. Watch out for phonies, who use “eco” or words like this only to decorate their label. They should be certified, not just state it freely. People can start feeling discouraged as they seemingly cannot be sure about the trustworthiness of anything.

    But do we really need to use chemical-based products that much?

    There are ways to clean without any cleaning solutions. Like using a squeegee and purified water – for windows. Steam treatment technique – for carpets. Pressure cleaning – for outside walls. The later is effective even if the surface has graffiti on it. Those are maybe the best ways to do domestic (and corporate for that matter) cleaning. The equipment for these methods is professional and quite expensive so it's usually used by cleaning experts. If you are looking for service here's a list of what you should be looking for:

    • Environmental Policy
    • Energy Saving processes
    • Responsible products
    • Low energy usage equipment
    • Recycling policy

    Even if we don't like it, we do have an effect on the world. Why don't we turn that into something positive and actually be the change in our choices? We try our hardest not only to repair the damages done by previous generations but to prevent any of them repeating in the future. And we can do it. Minimising the negative effect on nature has become more important than ever and every household counts. Are you in?

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    Eco-landscaping is about making a difference in your yard, the one that results in making surrounding a healthier place that reduces water, soil and air pollution. The advantages of such responsible approach are reasonable savings in time, money and maintenance. The eco-friendly method is growing in popularity for its obvious reasons while creating and designing an eco-friendly landscape is not more complicated than designing a traditional garden. It does take some planning and involves maintenance, but all the efforts invested in a project like that are nothing compared to benefits.

    Planning

    For starters, you will have to make basic analysis and assessment of the yard. Determine the ground thickness by running the water to see how it is draining and where the ground is soaked the most. That way you’ll know where to plant as well as where to place hardscape. Check which areas get most of the sunlight and which ones are in the shade. Decide which area will serve its specific purpose, meaning where you will place a patio, play area or flower beds. This way you’ll know ahead what materials and plants you will be using and what will structure the basis of your eco-friendly yard.

    Downsize the lawn

    Having a smaller lawn means there will be less mowing and you will use less water. Limit your lawn by placing artificial grass or synthetic turf. Create walkways and paving and make sure to use low-maintenance materials like concrete, bark or gravel. You can use permeable pavers to direct rainfall back into the ground. Place gazebos or benches to fill the space in the yard that won’t require any watering.

    Eco-friendly mowing

    Since there will be a lawn that needs mowing, consider using a reel lawn mowers. Although mowing can go a bit slower than with gas or electric mower, reel mowers are true eco-friendly device since they are a perfect example of energy conservation. An alternative to reel mowers are the mowers powered by rechargeable batteries.

    Plant low-maintenance plants

    Consider planting native plants since they are best suited for the environment. Also, try choosing drought-resistant plants because there will be less maintenance while planting them will save water in the long run. To reduce the usage of water, try to group plants with similar water requirements. Plant some ornamental grass, pansies, and marigold. Planting clover is recommendable since it is insect and weed repelling plant.

    Clever landscaping

    Strategically planted trees and shrubs around the house can act as an insulation and save you up to 20% of your heating and cooling costs. One of the best landscape design firms advises planting deciduous trees on the sunny spots next to the house. That way the trees will provide the shade in the summer, while they will allow more sunlight in the cold months. Also, vines can be used to cool some areas.  

    Watering

    To reduce water waste, install drip irrigation system that brings water directly to plants. Watering with automatic irrigation is more effective while the technology allows you to program it the way you want. You can set the system not to release the water while it rains. You can use rainwater, previously conserved in barrels to water the lawn and the flower beds. When watering in the summer, always water in the late evening and early in the morning to avoid evaporation.

    Weed and insect control

    Avoid using chemicals to fight or to control weed, but take some preventive measures like planting in raised beds, preparing the soil, using landscape fabrics and mulching. To get rid of the weed you can use corn gluten or vinegar, only make sure to use it carefully since it a strong herbicide that can harm other plants.  The last stage of fighting the weed is an old-fashion move of pulling the weed from the ground.  As for insects, learn more about companion planting and see how your plants can benefit from it.

    Fertilizing

    Learn to make and use compost and keep the chemical fertilizer away. Composting is the best possible way to keep your ground properly fertilized, aired and watered, while it will significantly reduce the amount of trash that ends up in the landfills. Almost anything can be used for compost, starting from grass clippings and leaves to fallen branches, food scraps, coffee filters, tea bags, newspapers, cardboard, etc.

     

    Going green takes a bit more than these few tips since it extends further on the maintenance and how you care for the environment aside from the yard. Remember to recycle and reuse all the materials and to establish a sustainable eco-system in your home and your yard. Do your research and create an eco-friendly garden that you will enjoy in years that come. An effort toward the healthier environment is worthy of praise so design your garden and be proud.

  19. The foundation of your home, is, by no surprise, the most important aspect of it. While others may argue, the fact that your entire house depends on the integrity of your foundation means that any damage that might occur to it, can be drastic. Since your entire house literally sits on top of this concrete base, any little mistake in its design means that the problems will increase as you go up. Ensuring you protect your foundation will mean longevity and hassle-free home maintenance. Here are ways you can protect your home’s foundation.

    What is the Foundation?

    To begin with, for those who are unaware, the foundation of your home is made from a combination of materials, with the most common being made from poured concrete or concrete block, and a poured concrete footing system. With the majority of North American homes being built this way, it’s safe to assume that your house was also. During the construction process, it is vital that the foundation is poured and dried at level. Any dips or slants will cause structural problems throughout the rest of the house, making it a headache to fix and to sell.

    Ways to Protect Your Foundation

    Now that you are enlightened on what your home’s foundation actually is, here are some ways in which to ensure it is protected, and remains its integrity and strength.

    1. Make Sure the Ground Slopes Away: Keeping water away from the foundation of your home is critical in ensuring it stays dry and protected. Ensuring your backyard or front yard are sloped away from the house will enable runoff water to flow away from the house, instead of towards. If it is sloped towards, water will likely seep into the foundation, causing flooding in your basement and structural damage to the concrete base. If the ground is sloping towards, you’ll have to either call a professional (depending on the severity) to level out the ground, or fill in the areas with dirt yourself, if it’s not too difficult.  

    2. Clean Out Your Gutters: While generally keeping your gutters clean is a good habit for good water runoff, it’s especially important to ensure the water from rain and other precipitation doesn’t get backlogged and then seep into your house. Ensure they are pitched correctly so that they water flow is away from your home, and clean them at least twice a year to remove any buildup that can cause clogs.

    3. Inspect Your Downspouts: As with your gutters, make sure your downspouts don’t have any leaks or holes present. Also, make sure they are pointing away from the foundation of your house, rather than just next to it.

    4. Monitor the Foliage: Especially during the fall, leaves, trees, and foliage tend to shed everywhere. Managing plants and vines that are up against your home is helpful in ensuring they don’t have an active part in trapping moisture and dampness against your home when they are wet. Try not to plant any trees near your foundation either, as they can soak up the moisture that prevents the foundation from cracking.

    5. Water your Foundation: While this may seem contrary to what we’ve been saying about keeping water away from your foundation, no moisture at all can result in cracking and shrinking in the spoil of your foundation. Giving it a good soaking during the summer at periodical intervals will help prevent this from happening.

    Warning Signs You Have a Problem:

    While you may have implemented these preventative measures, if there is a problem with your foundation, you should be able to see warning signs pretty clearly. Here’s what to look out for:

     

    1. If you see pooling occur, especially after a rainstorm, this is a good indication that something isn’t right. Water gathering in pools around the foundation of your home means the ground isn’t level and water is seeping towards the base. Hiring a professional to both level the ground and pump the water away from the house is most likely the best course of action here.

    2. Water leaks don’t always show up easily, so looking out for water stains on the walls or ceiling is a good way to tell if anything is wrong with the house. You might notice it as well with discoloured baseboards or musty smells.

    3. Inspecting the perimeter of your home will let you know if there is a problem. If you see cracks or breakage, this is not a good sign. Making sure the siding, whether it’s brick, wood, vinyl or metal, is at least six inches above the bottom of the foundation is helpful, because often times, dirt and debris can make its way in there and shrink the clearance area. This provides a place for moisture to invade. If possible, power wash and clean away this dirt and buildup to improve the clearance.

  20. Amazon is one of the largest online retailers in the world. With an estimated net worth of nearly $20 billion dollars, this massive portal has changed the ways in which online shopping occurs. It is therefore understandable that the recent announcement of Amazon entering into the Australian marketplace and the intention to use Melbourne as their base for operations has turned quite a few heads. Why is this movement so important and what could it potentially mean for the average Melbourne business? Let's take a closer look at the answers to both of these questions, as the face of the retail industry could be forever transformed.

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    The Potential Winners

    The answer to the first question, primarily depends upon the type of business. For example, it is predicted that online sellers within Melbourne will reap the greatest number of benefits. As they will soon be presented with an entirely new venue to digitally promote their items, their overall ROI should dramatically increase.

    This same observation can be made for international sellers who have been looking to tap into the lucrative Australian marketplace. As they can ship their products directly to the consumer, these sellers will likely enjoy a greater amount of business. However, we should keep in mind that this relationship will partially depend upon the strength of the Australian dollar in relation with other major currencies such as the pound and the euro. 

    The Possible Losers

    The bad news is that traditional retailers might not fare so well. When Amazon does indeed enter into the Australian marketplace, consumers may opt for cheaper goods from international sources as opposed to purchasing similar items from a local business. This is particularly the case in terms of Melbourne-based electronics firms, as Amazon has always had a strong market share within this industry. The only possible trade-off is that those businesses which are able to translate their operations into the e-commerce sector will likely enjoy success over time. Still, these predictions have yet to materialise. 

    The Employment Sector

    Many are rightfully concerned as to whether the introduction of Amazon will bolster or deflate the job market. Robert Bruce,
    Amazon’s director of operations for Australia attempts to alleviate concerns stating “Over time, we will bring thousands of new jobs to Australia and millions of dollars of investment as well as opening up the opportunity for thousands of Australian businesses to sell at home and abroad through Amazon Marketplace.”

    Those businesses within Melbourne (and throughout the entire country) which are able to adapt to the online retail community could very well see their businesses expand at a rapid pace.

    Thanks to the new warehouse to be located in Dandenong East, local trades such as sales, customer service, HR, Operations Managers and warehouse operatives will all be in high demand.

    However, the verdict is still out as to whether traditional retail businesses will be forced to downsize. 

    The Real Estate Impact

    We should also expect to see some changes within the real estate market. As The
    Financial Review highlights, dropping brick-and-mortar sales may impact the number of commercial leases being renewed throughout Melbourne. However, there is a potential bright side as well. Businesses centred around the field of e-commerce could very well experience increased sales. Thus, they might require more office space to store and ship goods to the end user. This will particularly impact the Melbourne metropolitan area thanks to the looming presence of a truly gargantuan Amazon warehouse. 

    The entrance of this giant online retailer into the Australian marketplace will certainly shake things up a bit. However, few analysts are surprised at such a move and it only makes sense in a world increasingly defined by digital purchases. The main question is how Melbourne businesses will adapt to this shift and if they will be able to capitalise upon such a profound move into the future. 


     

  21. Natural-Bedroom_Design.jpg

     

    Your bedroom should be a place of leisure where you can kick back and let every nerve and muscle in your body just chill. By doing this, your body can fully recuperate from hassles and stresses of your everyday life. But is it possible to enjoy this rejuvenating power of your bedroom if your bedroom contains unhealthy elements such as a bed or bedding that’s made from synthetic materials filled with hazardous compounds, or if you have poor ventilation and no fresh air? Probably not.

    There are lots of reasons to keep your bedroom natural and ensure that it maintains its powers of rejuvenation and some of these reasons include;

    1. Improper lighting messes with your sleep cycle.

    Natural lighting is hands down the best no matter the situation you are in and that includes when you are resting. If you have bright glaring light in your bedroom when you should be resting, it tampers with your sleep and can lead to you waking up feeling totally unrested. Keep lighting natural in your room by installing the right LED lights for night time, especially if you are one of those who aren’t comfortable sleeping in total darkness. This will help ensure your body can sleep properly and rest your mind as well as everything else to strengthen you for the coming day.

    1. Poor ventilation is unhealthy.

    Fresh air is very important for both overt and subtle reasons. If your bedroom’s window is constantly closed, it simply means you are breathing in all the old air and stale gases your body has expelled and this isn’t healthy in the long run. Open your windows as frequently as possible to let fresh air in and clear out the old air. This will keep you cool the right way instead of depending solely on recirculated air from fans and air conditioning. And if you are totally averse to opening your window for some reason, place some leafy potted plants in your bedroom. These plants will absorb carbon dioxide and other unhealthy elements from the atmosphere of your bedroom and give you clean, fresh oxygen in return. These potted plants should be natural, not synthetic ones.

    What about the bed?

    You can heighten the comfort and enjoyment of your bedroom by also throwing out your old synthetic mattress and replacing it with a natural organic one. According to Brentwood Home, “…organic mattresses are some of the most comfortable natural sleep products you can use to get the best night's sleep…”

    If you opt for a natural mattress, you can expect to enjoy the following benefits;

    1. Synthetic mattresses are well known for harboring dust mites, mold, and certain forms of bacteria. All these elements can be causes of irritation for you while you sleep. But with an organic mattress, all that goes out the window because the composition of an organic mattress ensures that it is mold-resistant, anti-bacterial, as well as capable of repelling dust mites.

    2. Organic mattresses are made from wholly natural materials and are thus free of the harmful chemicals found in synthetic mattresses. Some of these toxic chemicals in synthetic mattresses have been found to cause cancers as well as trigger allergies.

    3. Natural mattresses have moisture wicking capabilities which means no more sweat drenched sleepless nights for you.

    4. Instead of depending on hazardous chemicals, organic mattresses have their own natural fire resistant properties.

    5. The 100% natural wool and cotton mix of organic mattresses make them more breathable and ensure you can keep cool in summer, and warm in winter while you sleep.

    6. And best of all, natural mattresses are biodegradable and environmentally friendly. This means when you throw it out, it will be absorbed back into earth without negatively impacting the environment.

     

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    For people who have become more conscious of what goes into what they eat, the good news is that an escalating amount of food manufacturers are proposing organic options, making organic food one of the fastest-growing sectors of food production in the United States. The bad news is that all of those options can be uncertain, especially when factoring in food made without GMOs (genetically modified organisms). Some people could be trying to eat an all-organic diet, and others may simply be trying to dodge GMOs. Although foods may be labeled as USDA-certified organic or Non-GMO, consumers may not understand the difference. In some cases, there is an overlap between the USDA Organic and Non-GMO labels, but there are some key differences consumers should be aware of when trying to make the distinction between organic foods and foods made without GMOs.

    Normally, foods with the USDA Organic label have been manufactured without the use of GMOs as well as other standards that certify that the food has been produced with at least 95 percent organic ingredients. Foods that have been labeled as Non-GMO, on the other hand, only need to meet the criteria that they contain less than 1 percent of GMO content. Foods certified as Non-GMO may have been exposed to fertilizers or chemical pesticides, animals may have been subjected to hormones or antibiotics, and livestock may not have been fed using 100 percent organic feed. In short, all USDA Organic certified foods are Non-GMO, but not all Non-GMO certified foods are organic.

    The inflated variety and selection accessible at the grocery store today may be more confusing, but anyone who is concerned about what goes into their favorite organic chocolate brands will need to know the difference between the labeling and what the labels mean. The following chart helps delineate the differences between USDA Organic and Non-GMO labels, so review it the next time you check the labels on your favorite snacks.

    Check out the useful infographic that spray drying company, PacMoore has created below:

     

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  22. Based on the findings of the US Department of Energy (DOE), homeowners shell out $2,000 or more every year to heat their private pools using conventional electricity. If we go by data, there are approximately 800,000 pools in Florida alone, including the above-ground ones.  Although Florida hardly gets cold, you can extend the swimming season by opting for solar pool heating in your Tampa home.  Here are some of the most important reasons to choose the solar option over traditional pool heaters:

    Efficiency

    Solar heaters have the capacity to heat your pool efficiently provided the panels are professionally installed to harness the sun’s free energy. With proper installation, you can expect to raise your pool’s temperature by up to 15 degrees, especially when you experience a nip in the air. During the cooler months, you can consider using solar blankets as well to maintain the water temperature. You can use them when the pool is not in use. The blankets will trap the heat and stop the unnecessary evaporation of water.

    You can also lower the water temperature during the hot summer months if you have a solar pool heater installed. Obviously, you cannot cool the water when the temperature is 90 degrees Fahrenheit. But if you run the heater overnight instead of turning it on during the day, the water circulating will cool by several degrees, making the pool water more comfortable to take a plunge.

    Extended Swimming Season

    A solar pool heater together with covers can extend your swimming season, especially during the summer months from May to October. These pool heaters are designed to adjust the water temperature for a comfortable dip. It depends on the season and the amount of sunlight received.  When the Florida Solar Energy Center monitored pools in the Sunshine State some two decades ago, they found that most of the homeowners enjoyed swimming for approximately 110 days in a year. Eventually, with the advancement of solar equipment and technology, people with private pools could extend the swimming season to about 290 days. It means that you can enjoy a refreshing dip with your family and kids a little longer than you have expected.

    Durable

    Gas heaters with a lifespan of about five years are not as efficient as solar ones. Moreover, they call for a lot of care and maintenance. And it is needless to say that periodic upkeep will add to your pool heating costs further. Solar pool heating systems, on the contrary, come with a 12-year warranty and last for 10-20 years requiring little or no maintenance at all. With your pool’s filtering system and chemical balance working fine, they will last for years to come. Solar panels are designed from high-quality polypropylene. They include an additional 35 percent of the material. Solar pool heaters also have UV stabilizers, making it more durable than conventional heaters.

    Eco-Friendly

    Solar pool heaters are extremely environment-friendly. In fact, you are contributing to the green cause by installing a photovoltaic (PV) system. That’s because the sun’s energy is pure and clean.

    The benefits of solar pool heating in Tampa are hard to ignore. With the significant drop in the prices of equipment over the last few years, installing PV systems is a safe and economical option for homeowners in the city. So, are you ready to take the plunge?

  23. The sustainable building trend is not just good for the planet, but for the economy — green construction is expected to account for 3.3 million jobs in the U.S. alone by 2018, a 143.5 percent increase over 2015. Green construction involves the design, construction and/or operation of buildings in ways that reduce any harmful impact on the environment and/or on human health. Some of these include reducing the carbon footprint of manufacture, preserving air and water quality, minimizing toxic emissions, and increasing energy efficiency in building operations. Sustainable building also can be economically beneficial. Using green materials and practices often benefits local economies, and the focus on energy efficiency frequently results in significant savings for property owners.

    The following infographic was created by Accurate Perforating Company and highlights 10 green building materials to consider for your next green building project.

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  24. More than 1 million U.S. homes now sport solar panels on the roof. That number is expected to double in the next two years as the cost of solar continues to decline and solar awareness continues to rise.
     
    While making the shift to solar is good for the environment, that’s not the only reason to invest in solar technology. Here are just a few of the many benefits homeowners can realize by going solar. 

    5 Reasons So Many Homeowners Are Going Solar

    1.    Solar is a good investment. While the exact ROI for solar varies according to location and other factors, research indicates that in most states it makes financial sense to go solar. Specifically, solar brings a better return than a five-year CD in 86 percent of states. If you live in one of the top 13 states for solar, you’ll actually do better with your solar panels than you would by investing in the S&P 500. 
    2.    Solar is reliable. With any technology comes the potential for failure, but solar bucks the trend by being one of the least likely of your home’s systems to break down. While solar panels are typically warranted for 25 years, 90 percent of them last 30 years or longer. One report showed that many 40-year-old panels are still generating power at 80 percent of their efficiency. In addition, a residential solar system typically has no moving parts, and almost never needs repair. 
    3.    Solar is security. Concerned about power grid security, future energy price hikes, and/or the escalating effects of global climate change on the weather? Installing a solar system with battery backup is an excellent way to ensure that you will always have the power you need at a price you can afford. 
    4.    Solar protects our planet. Sunshine is a clean, renewable energy source that does not contribute to global climate change. While all manufacture has an impact on the environment, solar panels create far more energy in their lifetime than is consumed by making them. In fact, an average 4 KW solar power system offsets nearly 200,000 pounds of carbon dioxide in its first 25 years. It would take planting more than 2,000 trees to equal that amount of carbon offset.  
    5.    Solar is hot — and that’s cool. Who doesn’t like to be the cool kid on the block? Solar is an undeniably hot and trendy technology, so why not add a system to your roof and enjoy witnessing the “panel envy” of your neighbors and friends?   

    How to Go Solar at Home

    According to Google’s Project Sunroof, nearly four out of five U.S. homes have enough unshaded area to install solar photovoltaic (PV) panels. So when you’re ready for a larger investment in your home (similar to what you would pay for a kitchen remodel or home addition), chances are good that solar will pay off for you.  

    That said, PV panels aren’t the only way to go solar in your home. Here are more ideas, at a variety of price points for any budget:
    •    Solar water heater — A typical solar water heating system saves 50-80 percent on monthly water heating costs, even in a cloudy climate.
    •    Solar landscape lighting — Solar outdoor lighting doesn’t just save electricity. It’s also safer and reduces maintenance because you won’t have to run power lines outside. 
    •    Solar chargers — A solar phone charger lets you charge your phone from anywhere, even on a hiking trip or in a boat! 
    •    Solar Christmas lights — Solar LED holiday lights are convenient to set up, and can save you up to $10 for every 300 hours they’re lit.

    These are just a few of the many benefits you can realize by going solar at home. Check out this infographic to discover even more compelling reasons why so many Americans these days are choosing to add solar to their homes. 

    Ryan McNeill is the president of Renewable Energy Corporation, one of the largest residential solar energy companies in the mid-Atlantic region. It is committed to providing homeowners with high-quality, American-made solar panels and solar energy products. 

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