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.

5 Awesome Reasons to 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!

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.

6 Incredible Free Apps for a Good Night’s Sleep

Apps for a Good Night's Sleep

These days, it’s easy to get stressed out, and it can be difficult to get a good night’s sleep as a result. You may be tempted to pay for apps that will help you wind down, but you don’t have to: You can get some excellent ones for free.

1. HEADSPACE 

This app is absolutely incredible. It offers “sleepcasts” that help you visualize a relaxing experience as you’re about to doze off. You’ll have plenty of resources if you simply use the free version, but you could pay $95 per year to have access to over forty themed meditation courses.

2. CALM

Calm is an excellent app with wonderful sleep stories. You can choose the free version, which provides you with plenty of guided meditations, or you can purchase the premium version for $70 per year and have access to more meditations and sleep stories. Honestly, the free version is just as good, although there is a bit less variety.

3. PZIZZ

The free version of this app allows you to set a timer for yourself before you go to bed. It will play beautiful “dreamscapes” for you as you’re dozing off.  You can choose from a wide variety of soothing sounds to listen to as you’re sleeping if you pay $60 per year.

4. SLUMBER

This is an excellent app because it provides you with plenty of bedtime stories, sleep meditations, and, if you’re in the mood, it even gives you the option to listen to the sound of a Jacuzzi as you rest your head on your pillow and escape into dreamland. The caveat is that you can only listen to around ten episodes. This is more than enough for a good night’s rest, but you can hear more if you pay $40 per year.

5. THE SLEEP CYCLE

Thankfully, this app is completely free. You can use it to track your sleep patterns and get tips for improving the quality of your rest.

6. SLEEPIEST

This is a great app for parents. It offers plenty of soothing bedtime stories for your little ones. If you’re having some trouble winding down yourself, it also provides guided meditations and relaxing white noise to help you drift off to sleep. There is a free version available, which offers more than enough. However, you can purchase the premium version for $100 per year.

Sometimes, it can be tempting to dish out your hard-earned cash on sleep apps, but the truth is, you don’t have to. You can simply use the free versions, go to bed at the same time every night, and maybe even take a bath, pour yourself a bit of lavender tea, or do some relaxing yoga poses if you’re having trouble winding down.

It can be extremely difficult to get the rest you need but doing everything you can to ensure a good night’s sleep can improve so many areas of your life. Sleeping for a minimum of seven hours per night has so many benefits. These include boosting your immune system and improving your productivity.

5 Simple Steps to Make Your Dreams Come True

Make Dreams Come True

Having a dream often seems like something we only get to think about. But that’s not true. Many people achieve their dream, whether that dream is to be famous, to be a veterinarian, or to be a business owner. All of these things are possible. If your dream is physically possible, then it’s personally possible. The only thing in between is time and effort. Here are the five simple steps to make your dream come true.

1) Define Your Dream 

Start by really defining your dream. Narrow it down to a real job title you can hold, trip you can take, or set of actions you can complete that will equal reaching your dream.  Write down what your dream is and who you will be when you achieve it. If your dream is a career goal, define your role and how you might get there. If your dream is to take a trip or have an experience, write down exactly the experience you want to have so you can make plans to experience it. When you define a dream in concrete terms, it becomes a reachable goal you can effectively work toward every day. 

2) Define the Steps

Next, lay out what it will take to achieve your defined dream. Write it down as a set of necessary or logical steps. For example, to become a doctor you will need to attend medical school. To write a novel, you will need to write several pages a week. If you want to be famous, start by creating online content and building a small internet audience. Any human goal is possible when you know the steps. 

3) Believe Every Day

Don’t let your dream start to feel distant. Think about your dream every day. Nurture the dream, develop your vision of what you want. Then find one way every day to make that goal a little closer, whether that’s studying medical textbooks, writing a page of your novel, or building your own podcast. This keeps your dream real and reachable. 

4) Value the Small Decisions

Don’t underestimate the power of small decisions. Just waking up and choosing to embrace each day with energy will get you closer to your dream. Reward yourself for choosing an hour of study instead of taking a nap. Value yourself for practicing your craft or researching the next step. Even if it doesn’t feel like you’re making big progress, a little progress every day will bring you ever-closer to making that dream come true.

5) Take on Challenges & Mistakes as Lessons

Last but not least, don’t allow yourself to be discouraged by challenges or even mistakes. Everyone experiences setbacks and no one pursuing a dream does so without a little trial-and-error. Take every challenge as a learning experience. As long as you can make another plan, you can learn and keep working toward your dream.

Making your dreams come true may sound like a fairy-tale today, but in just a few weeks of actualizing and planning to approach your dream can make it feel much closer within your grasp. With a few months or years of forward-momentum, your dream can become reality.