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. 

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!

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.

3 Easy Ways to Be More Sustainable and Save Money in 2021

It’s often a fact of life, doing the right thing means paying more.  But did you know that doing the right thing for the planet can actually save you money? Read on for 3 super easy ways to be more sustainable and save money in 2021.

1. Save On Single-Use Plastics

When you add up the cost of all the single-use plastics and consumables we buy it’s easy to see why ditching them saves you money.

Think about the packs of bottled water we pick up at the store without thinking.  They take decades to breakdown, if they break down at all. One reusable bottle topped up with tap water will more than pay for itself, fast.

Looking for reusable alternatives to single-use items is sustainable and money-saving.

Here are more swaps that save:

  • Swap paper towels for rags made from old t-shirts and bed linen
  • Swap facial wipes for washcloths
  • Swap take-out coffee cups for a reusable one and some coffee shops will give you a discount whilst you throw less into landfill.

2. Stop Your Money Going Down the Drain

Global warming signs have highlighted just how precious water is. Whilst some countries have way too much, others have too little, so letting what we have just slip away down the drain doesn’t sit right anymore.

Did you know that saving water can also save you money?

  • Collect rainwater in a barrel and use it to water your garden. You may never need to use a hose again.
  • Only run the dishwasher or do laundry when you have a full load. The machines often use the same amount of water regardless of how much you put in, so you’ll save water and money by running appliances less often.
  • Shower instead of having a bath. Baths use 36 gallons of water and showers much less.
  • Install water-conserving showerheads and faucets as an easy way to use less water and reduce your bills.

3. Eat Smart and Save Money

More and more people are choosing organic food because organic farmers don’t use pesticides and they use less water and fertilizer. They’re making a great sustainable choice.

The problem is one look in the organic aisle at the grocery store will tell you that buying organic is expensive.

But if you shop smart you can save money and eat green greens!

  • Whether you have a window box or a strip of lawn, you can save money by growing your own herbs and vegetables.  By growing your favorite produce, you can buy less at the grocery store.
  • Freeze or pickle leftovers instead of throwing them away.
  • Buy seasonally. Produce in season is often less expensive than produce that’s had to be imported out of season. Seasonal produce has probably traveled less far so you get fresher food with less of an environmental impact and keep more money in your pocket.
  • Visit farmer’s markets. Buying directly can mean cheaper organic food because the grocery store isn’t taking a cut.

It’s easier to make impactful changes when both you and the environment benefit from them. So practice some of these easy ways to be sustainable and watch your savings grow.

How to Achieve a More Sustainable Lifestyle in 2021

New Year, New You!

One of the most significant issues facing the modern world is the destruction of nature. An excessive amount of animals are endangered and becoming extinct. Besides this, climate change is harming coral reefs, forests, animals, and people. The good news is that everyone can aid in saving the planet by achieving a more sustainable lifestyle.

Go Paperless with Personal Finances

Many aspects of personal finance, like getting your taxes done in person and by mail, often require lots of paperwork. You can avoid wasting paper when you find tax prep services online. Your actions will help save many trees from being cut down to make paper. Other ways to go paperless with your finances include paying bills online, signing up for electronic statements, digitalizing documents, and more.

Reduce Plastic Use

Consequently, plastic is littering oceans, killing sea life, choking animals to death, filling landfills to the brim, and more. You can begin eliminating plastic from your lifestyle by using eco-friendly items such as a stainless steel water bottle, biodegradable garden pots, reusable produce bags, and others. Next time you purchase a product, consider how your actions can impact the environment and people.

Avoid Eating Meat and Dairy

Eating less meat and dairy can improve your health and wellbeing and help save the environment. You’ll be lowering greenhouse gas emissions and saving forests from deforestation, among other things. Besides this, you can protect countless animals from suffering on factory farms. Consider the benefits of changing to a vegetarian or vegan diet for yourself and the planet.

Take Care of Nature

Being grateful for nature by taking care of it ensures it will still be here for future generations to enjoy. You can plant a native garden that gives birds, bees, butterflies, and other creatures a place to live, food to eat, and somewhere to hide from predators. In addition to this, native gardens help the ecosystem thrive and add natural beauty to your home.

Use Eco-Friendly Cleaning Products

The chemicals in cleaning products can harm your and your family’s health and that of any pets you may have. You can protect your household by using greener cleaning products whenever possible. You can buy these online or locally, or consider making your own to save money. Eco-friendly cleaning ingredients include vinegar, essential oils, hydrogen peroxide, and others. Learn how to mix ingredients safely by doing your own research.

Make Smarter Fashion Choices

Instead of buying new clothes, you can shop at secondhand stores or rent clothing. This allows you to reduce waste, be kind to the environment and save money. In addition to this, buying clothes made from fur, leather, or other animal products has serious consequences. One reason for this is animals are taken out of their natural environments and killed, which throws the ecosystem off-balance.

Commit to Recycle

Recycling paper, plastic, electronics, and other items helps to conserve the environment and reduces waste. You can encourage your family to recycle by having separate bins for paper, plastic, and metal. Teaching them the value of responsible recycling can help them appreciate the environment and feel better about themselves.

Everyone must take positive steps to save our planet. You can begin by making small changes and build up to larger ones. You can also inspire others to protect nature by changing your habits and being a good role model. Make sure to spread the word to everyone you know, because we only have one planet.