5 Tips on How to Choose a Solar Company for Your Home

how to choose a solar company

As the world begins to shift slowly toward renewable and sustainable energy sources, more people are deciding to live a green life and convert their home power supply to a renewable energy source.

Solar energy has proven to be the most popular, accessible, and affordable option for the average homeowner. Solar companies are popping up everywhere to keep pace with this growing demand.

But, in this burgeoning market, the question arises: How to choose a solar company? What should you consider when shopping around for an installer? 

For most homeowners, solar paneling may seem like a daunting endeavor. And, you know, it’s understandable to get a case of the buyer’s jitters when venturing into uncharted territory. The choice to convert your home power supply to solar energy and live your best sustainable life is a huge step, and you want to be sure it is done right. Have no fear.

Just keep reading for the top 5 things to consider when choosing a solar company for your home.  

1. Shop Around 

First things first—shop around! It would help if you did your research. If you have neighbors, friends, or family who have also gone solar, don’t be afraid to ask for recommendations. It’s also a good idea to check out company reviews online. Where possible, look for local solar companies that have a well-established presence in the market. Going local may save you a lot of money in the long run.

A 2017 study by the NREL (National Renewable Energy Labs) discovered that large solar companies typically charge up to 10 percent more than smaller enterprises. The flashy, high-end branding that larger companies employ may look attractive. Still, it is in no way an indicator of quality or value for money. Seek assessments and quotes from at least 3-5 reputable companies. Also, be sure to check that the companies you consider are fully qualified and legally certified to do the job. 

2. Don’t Be Cheap 

 In your quest for cost-efficiency, do remember not to be cheap. While it is possible to get great deals, you should be wary of any installer whose prices seem suspiciously low compared to the competition. Chances are they may cut corners somewhere, which will inevitably cause you to spend thousands more than anticipated. 

3. Buy Your Equipment Outright

Where possible, it’s usually a good idea to steer clear of lease agreements. Large solar companies frequently prefer to offer their customers solar leases and power purchase agreements rather than selling the equipment outright. These may seem attractive at the outset but are unavoidably parasitic to the consumer.

These agreements often have escalator clauses in the contracts, which guarantee a higher profit for the company by continually draining your pocketbook. These terms are another reason to go with a smaller company. You may pay a bit more on the front end, but the long-term savings are worth it.   

4. Look into the Warranties 

It’s essential to familiarize yourself with the standard warranty for your solar equipment. You also want to make sure that the contract warranty covers labor costs. 

5. Read the Fine Print

You probably already know how important it is carefully read contracts. But, for the sake of thoroughness, be reminded. Reading the fine print in your contract will stave off disputes. If your installer says that the service package includes something, make sure that it says so in the contract. 

Follow these five tips for a seamless transition to green, sustainable, earth-friendly energy. 

Coffee Brewing Method and Health – What You Need to Know

Coffee Brewing Method and Health

As coffee is one of the most popular beverages in the world, it is easy to understand why it comes in so many forms. In fact, each coffee brewing method produces a slightly different result and can be linked to varying health benefits. Over the years, researchers have shown that drinking coffee can lower the risk of diabetes and heart failure.  However, these benefits are dependent on the type of coffee and brewing method you use.

Unfiltered Coffee and Health

According to a study in the European Journal of Preventative Cardiology, you will only experience positive health benefits if you drink coffee that is prepared with a filter. “Unfiltered coffee contains substances which increase blood cholesterol. Using a filter removes these and makes heart attacks and premature death less likely,” said Dag Thelle, the author of the research. “Our study provides strong and convincing evidence of a link between coffee brewing methods, heart attacks and longevity”.

The research implies that those who make coffee using a French press may experience a rise in blood cholesterol. This is because unfiltered coffee contains greater amounts of kahweol and cafestol, which are chemicals in the oil droplets within the coffee. These substances can raise “bad” LDL cholesterol levels, thus increasing the risk of heart problems. Thelle advised that people who know they have high cholesterol levels should stay away from unfiltered brew. For everyone else, be aware of the potential risks or switch to a filtered brewing method instead.

Filtered Coffee and Health

Coffee lovers may wish to opt for filtered brewing methods to keep enjoying their coffee with a clear conscience. In fact, drinking filtered coffee can be healthier than drinking no coffee whatsoever. Filtered coffee is made by pouring the coffee through a paper filter. This brewing method is often referred to as drip or pour over. Both men and women who drank filtered coffee experienced a 15 percent reduction in the risk of premature death. People who drank filtered coffee also presented lower risks of having heart disease or a stroke.

The study also found that those who drink between one and four cups of filtered coffee a day have the lowest mortality rate out of all of the analyzed groups.  “The findings showed that those drinking the filtered beverage did a little better than those not drinking coffee at all. This could not be explained by any other variable such as age, gender or lifestyle habits. So we think this observation is true,” Thelle said. These findings are important and other studies have corroborated the evidence. The American Heart Association found that filtered coffee can also improve mental focus and performance during exercise. Consuming coffee from this brewing method can also lower the risk of different types of cancer, liver disorders and melanoma.

  • Conclusion

Many research findings have confirmed that your choice of brewing method can have different effects on your health. In order to avail of the benefits of drinking coffee, you should consider opting for filtered coffee. Also, make sure you have a BPA free coffee maker.

4 Energy Apps To Help You Go Green and Spend Less Green

Energy apps to go green and save more green

Saving energy and saving money are hot topics in today’s economic climate. Isn’t it amazing if you can control both from the palm of your hand?

You might not realize it, but having a smartphone is good for more than making calls, checking emails, and playing games. You can use it to track energy efficiency and save on electricity bills using innovative mobile apps. Renewable energy apps can be of great help for how to save energy and money in your home.

Technology can help you live a more sustainable life. Here is a list of energy apps that will help you adopt green living and a more mindful lifestyle.

 Energy Consumption Analyzer

This app works as a mobile database of your home energy use. It’s easy to lose track of your energy consumption until you get an unpleasant bill. Energy consumption analyzer provides accurate readings of your daily energy consumption. You can add your meters for electricity, gas, or water to the database and keep track of current meter readings.

The energy consumption analyzer lets you color-code readings and add comments to them for better understanding. The application asks you to input data from your meter and calculates the average consumption rate. It then displays a bar graph or table of the total amount of actually used energy during a day, week, or month to help you gain insights and view trends.

Energy Cost Calculator

While trying to cut down your energy consumption, it’s necessary to know how much energy you are using. Through the Energy Cost Calculator, you can calculate energy usage and operating cost of electrical equipment you use. It helps you analyze which appliances in your home use the most energy. 

This application lets you know how much an appliance costs to run over a period and allows you to control it. You can calculate the running cost of an appliance by entering the wattage and how often you use it. The results are not 100% accurate, as it does not have access to your tariff information, but it gives you an idea.

Energy Tracker

Energy tracker can evaluate and manage meter reading according to your electricity, gas, heat, and water consumption. It automatically detects meter readings and dates to provide a graphical analysis of daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly consumption.

Energy tracker knows where you can save money by creating a report. It makes an estimate by comparing daily and monthly trends throughout the year. All data is saved to the application and will provide you with exclusive CSV reports on your energy consumption at home.

Smappee

Smappee manages your energy flows in a way that you can work, relax, and live without compromising on comfort. It gives you a clear insight into your energy consumption, and you can leave your home without any worries. Let the app control and automate your energy flows.

It provides you real-time readings for electricity, gas, water, and solar consumption. You can automate your appliances and let the application control their energy flows to optimize consumption. It also allows you to control energy use remotely using smart devices and plugs.

How often should you replace your coffee maker?

coffee maker

Not all coffee makers are created equal. There are stories of machines that last a lifetime while other coffee makers can’t go six months without breaking down. But why do the lifespans of different coffee makers vary so much?

Many things can affect the lifespan of a coffee maker, but mostly it’s about build quality and regular maintenance. Most solid machines will keep brewing quality joe for around five years, but you can extend its lifespan by a few more just by regularly cleaning the machine.

Water hardness plays a big role in determining how long your machine lasts. You might have to descale and perform maintenance on your machine more often if the water in your home is particularly hard. Even if your water is relatively soft, it’s always a good idea to create and stick to a descaling schedule, because calcium will build up in the tubes over time.

The complexity of your coffee maker is also important. More moving parts means more things that can potentially break. Coffee makers that have no tubes, pumps, or heating elements will pretty much last forever. In many cases, you can have your machine brewing like new by replacing the broken parts.

Now it’s time for you to take a good, long look at your coffee maker. How long have you had it for? Have you noticed a drop in the quality of the coffee it brews? If you’re unsure if it might be time to upgrade to a newer model, here are some questions you can ask yourself that will help you know what to look for.

Does it even brew?

This might sound too obvious, but is your coffee maker even working? In many cases, a broken pump or failed heat element can be fixed or replaced. Of course, this depends on the brand of your coffee maker and whether spare parts are readily available.

If your coffee isn’t brewing at all, or your machine won’t turn on, it’s often not worth going through the trouble of repairing it — chances are good it will break again.

Before you start shopping for a new machine, check to see if your current warranty covers repairs or replacements. If you can get a new coffee maker, and you like your current model, then replacing it is the way to go.

Is there build-up in the tubes that can’t be removed with descaling?

Water with a high concentration of calcium is called hard water. While it isn’t a health risk, the calcium can collect in the tubes and corners of your coffee maker. Over time, the buildup can affect the performance of your machine, which is why it’s so important to regularly descale (remove buildup).

Over years of neglect and constant use, the calcified minerals can accumulate and harden to the point that descaling won’t be enough to fix the problem. Cleaning it might not be feasible or worth your time. This would mean it’s time for you to find a new coffee maker.

5 Awesome Reasons to Buy Used Children’s Clothing

Buy Used Children's Clothing

Growing children constantly need new clothes. Every growth spurt turns pants into waders and shirts into Incredible Hulk candidates. Kids get taller, fill out, and become more developed as they grow which means new clothes every year. Except that the clothes don’t actually need to be new. As long as your child feels confident and stylish, you can absolutely source kids’ clothes from secondhand clothing stores at a discount in price and an increase in eco-responsibility.

Believe it or not, kids actually love second-hand clothes. You can become a smart-budgeting and eco-friendly parent with a little savvy second-hand shopping.

 1) Children Grow Faster than Clothes can Wear Out

Some kids grow like weeds. Every few months they need a new length of pants or a new cut of shirt. They grow in size and in stylish taste, so parents are constantly having to replenish childhood closets. You’re not the only parent who doesn’t want to toss perfectly good outgrown clothes. Join the global hand-me-down community by shopping secondhand kid’s clothes and be sure to upcycle when your kids grow out of what they’re wearing now.

2) Second-Hand Clothes are Less Expensive

If you’re shopping for your children on a budget (aren’t we all?) then used clothing can almost always be found at a lower cost than new garments. Kids go through clothing fast and often kid’s clothing is built to survive more than a few play sessions. You can find some great deals and a cool collection for your child’s closet this year without blowing your budget by shopping second-hand.

3) Used Clothes are Softer on Sensitive Skin

If you have a picky dresser or a child with sensitive skin, you know how valuable pre-softened clothes can be. New clothes are starched and treated to look good on the shelf. Their fibers are stiff and new, and the tags still have sharp corners. Used clothes, however, have been washed a few times. This means they’re free of retail chemicals and those fibers and tags have softened up for comfy relief on a child’s sensitive skin.

4) Find Hidden Gems Outside Fashion Trends

Parents and kids often don’t care for today’s clothing fashions, and you’re not limited. Shopping secondhand clothes opens a world of retro fashion and hidden gems for you and your child to explore.

5) The Perfect Source of Costume Supplies

Last but certainly not least, secondhand shopping is perfect for costume supplies. Whether you’re planning for a Halloween or building a child’s dress-up collection, used clothes offer a low-cost and fun way to find all sorts of interesting pieces from novelty shoes to formalwear.

If your children are growing fast and you want to make smart parenting decisions, try used children’s clothing. It’s eco-friendly, soft, and extremely cost-effective for the whole family. You might even find a few hidden gems for yourself in the racks. For more great green living ideas or an apartment with green living priorities, contact us today!

What is the healthiest coffee maker?

The healthiest coffee maker

Recently, more and more coffee drinkers have become conscious of the health benefits and side effects that a cup of joe can have on you. And while the filters you use and the blend you choose can affect the strength and healthfulness of your final brew, many are shocked to learn that their plastic coffee maker could be responsible for leaking chemicals into their drink.

Many plastics are produced using an old technique that dates back to the early 60s, which relies on the use of an industrial chemical called Bisphenol A, or BPA for short. Multiple studies have shown links between BPA consumption and infertility or even cancer.

Fortunately, many of the companies that manufacture plastic coffee makers have begun removing BPA plastics from their products. These products usually carry the BPA-free label, which indicates they are assembled using non-BPA plastics. However, that doesn’t mean they’re not just switching out BPA with another harmful chemical. And if your current plastic coffee machine doesn’t have the BPA-free label, there’s just no way of knowing how much contaminated liquid you drink in with every cup!

The only way to keep these dangerous chemicals out of your coffee is by using a coffee maker that contains no plastic parts. The good news is that there are tons of options if you’re looking for a non-plastic coffee maker that’s free from BPA. Here are a few of the healthiest coffee makers for true coffee lovers, made from non-plastic materials and free of BPA.

The Chemex

Coffee maker Chemex
Source: SIX CUP CLASSIC CHEMEX®,  CHEMEX® Coffeemaker

There are several reasons why the Chemex has maintained a spot as one of the most popular manual pour-overs since its introduction in 1941. First, it features an award-winning hourglass design that is timeless. In fact, a version of the Chemex is on display at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Second, the Chemex is made of glass, with a sophisticated wooden handle wrapped neatly around its body. If you prefer, there’s a newer redesign with a glass handle. Finally (and most importantly), in the hands of a skilled barista, it produces some of the cleanest coffee you’ll ever taste.

The Chemex takes a degree of skill and familiarity with your roasts to get the best brews. The Chemex will produce a great cup of coffee no matter what roast you choose, but it’s particularly suited for light to light-medium roasts.

You can purchase the company’s proprietary bonded paper filters, available in natural and bleached variations. However, there’s a wide selection of filter alternatives produced by third-parties that are compatible with the Chemex. So, if you prefer a thicker coffee with more oils, you can always purchase a compatible metal filter online.

Hario V60

Coffe Maker Hario V60
Source: Hario V60 Glass Coffee Dripper Olive Wood – Hario UK

The Chemex is a beautiful product, but it comes at a premium price tag, which makes it unaffordable for many people. The Hario V60 brews excellent coffee at a fraction of the cost of a Chemex.

There are several variants of the V60, giving you a great selection of looks and colors to pick from. Naturally, the cheapest option is the clear plastic design, made from solid, BPA-free plastic. However, for just a bit more, you can get the classic white ceramic, stainless steel, or glass models, which are designed so no plastics come into contact with your hot coffee.

Generally, coffee is best brewed at a stable 195 to 205 Fahrenheit. The heat retention capabilities of ceramic make it one of the best materials to keep your coffee at that ideal temperature range.

As with all pour-overs, the V60 isn’t the right product if you’re looking for something that you can turn on and leave to percolate. Making a great brew with the V60 will require attention and care. The effort is well worth it if you’re a fan of clean, flavorful coffee (who isn’t?).

Tons of research shows that drinking coffee regularly in the long-term is beneficial for your health. But those benefits could be canceled out by the dangers of brewing coffee in a plastic coffee maker. If the Chemex or Hario V60 aren’t for you, don’t fret. There’s a huge variety of non-plastic coffee makers on the market; with a little research, you’re bound to find the perfect one.

Are Plastic Coffee Makers Bad for You?

Plastic Coffee Makers

So you’re convinced that you can live longer if you sip a cup of coffee religiously every day, as shown by many studies. And so you carefully handpick your the best types of coffee like Fairtrade and organic products every time. But have you thought of other ways through which toxins can end up in your morning cups of coffee and undermine your plans to live longer?

BPA (Byphenol A) is no stranger to us. It’s a toxin that’s always lurking around in our kitchen and can make its way into your coffee cups through your plastic coffee maker.

If your joy of owning a new plastic coffee brewer is being dampened by a weird plastic taste in the coffee, you should be worried about more than just the plastic taste. You could be downing significant amounts of BPA, which has been linked to many serious health issues like fertility issues, high blood pressure, endocrine disorders, and certain types of cancer.

How Plastic Coffee Makers Can Lace Your Coffee with BPA

Plastic coffee makers can release BPA into your brew when the plastic holder containing the drink is heated up. The results of a certain study show that plastic bottles release higher amounts of BPA into their contents when filled with boiling water. A similar result occurs with the plastic containers and tubing of coffee makers coming in contact with boiling water.

Even under normal room temperatures, plastic containers can still release significant amounts of BPA. In another study, higher levels of BPA were recorded in the urine samples of participants who drank cold liquids from polycarbonate bottles for a week.

Does Your Coffee Maker Leak BPA?

Many manufacturers of plastic kitchen products that are used to prepare and serve food and drinks have made efforts to remove BPA from their products. Some makers of plastic coffee makers market their products as BPA-free options. However, these claims are usually not verified by independent labs, so there’s no way of guaranteeing their authenticity. In other instances, manufacturers simply substitute BPA for other equally toxic materials like BPS (Byhenol S).

So, how can you tell if your coffee maker or espresso machine contains BPA? In some instances, it can be quite obvious with your coffee having a strong plastic aftertaste. But your coffee can still contain significant amounts of BPA even without leaving a plastic aftertaste.

Other Healthier Ways to Drink Coffee

Since it’s quite difficult to tell if your coffee maker is leaking BPA or not, it’s advisable to avoid coffee makers with any plastic parts, whether it’s their filter, container, or tubing. Most single-serve and drip brewing coffee makers are made of plastic parts, so you might want to ditch them altogether for healthier ways to make coffee. 

You can try coffee making systems such as those of glass, porcelain, and stainless steel. You can also opt for portable French press coffee makers that come with glass carafes and stainless steel mesh filters. Other alternative methods like pouring hot water over grounded coffee beans and filtering out the water using unbleached coffee meshes are also much healthier.

These alternatives may require more efforts compared to single-serve plastic coffee makers, but they’ll help ensure that your morning cups of coffee as healthy as they ought to be.