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Dandelion Salad, Anyone?

Have you ever had a dandelion salad?

Yes, dandelion salad  is a real thing, not just a made up salad that kids make while playing pretend in the back yard. In fact, many commonly found plants are actually edible, including dandelions.

I thought it would be fun to include some easily found leafy appetizers for ENN users to experiment with. Of course, not all plants are edible, so it is important to correctly identify a plant before trying to eat it. There are many apps designed to help beginners identify plants because no one wants a mouthful of poison ivy or foxglove. Eating the wrong plant can be fatal.

Also, I would suggest washing your bounty before putting it in your mouth in order to remove pesticides or flecks of feces laced with parasites.

Laws against foraging may also apply.

Dandelions

All parts of the dandelions are edible. In the spring young dandelion leaves can be used for salads and later in the season they leaves and roots taste well boiled (the boiled water can be made into tea). The yellow flowers are also edible to add color to salads.

Wild Asparagus

Wild asparagus, which looks like the store bought kind only a lot thinner is delicious and high in vitamins.

Cattails

I remember as a child trying to eat the fuzzy part of the cattail when I was a child. Not a pleasant experience but many parts of the cattail are more enjoyable. The stem and rootstock can be eaten raw or boiled. The cattail’s leaves can be boiled like spinach and the female flower spike can be eaten the corn when the plant first starts developing in the summer.

Garlic Mustard

Garlic Mustard is pungent like horseradish. Their roots can be used similar to horseradish and when the seeds ripen in the summer can be used as a hot spice.

Clovers

The less lucky three leaf clover can be easily identified and eaten raw or boiled.

 

Remember, don’t a plant unless you’ve properly identified it!

 

dandelions via shutterstock

wild asparagus via shutterstock

cattails via shutterstock

garlic mustard via shutterstock

clovers via shuttertock

by Maddie Perlman-Gabel

6 Green Living Principles Every Household Should Learn

By: Guest Contributor, Jonathan James More

Image from Flickr

Sometimes, you are presented with too many ideas on how to maintain sustainability in your living space and are unsure which ones are the most effective. The challenge is to put those concepts together and come up with the best game plan for a greener living.

Here are 6 green living principles your household should learn and live by.

1. Your Electricity Bill Tells a Lot

You can start at home. Try to consume less energy and you’ll realize that it will not only benefit the environment, but it would also yield higher savings for your family. Use natural sunlight rather than electricity during the day. Sunlight is a great source of vitamin D and can boost your mood.

2. Meals Should Be Well-planned

Obesity rate among children ages 2-5 decreased 43% in the past 10 years, based on a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in February 2014. This means that healthier habits are being practiced by more Americans. Do your part by preparing healthy and delicious organic food that your kids would like. As much as possible, have a good estimate of the food you will prepare for your family to avoid throwing away leftovers.

3. Make Play Time More Fun

Aside from preparing healthier meals on the table, you should also be concerned about your kids’ physical and mental development. Being active in the playground allows children to run around freely with other kids. Having fun playground time is one great trick that can prevent your children from watching too much TV, or playing too often using electronic gadgets, or spending too much time in front of the computer. Allow them to exercise at the playground with other kids in your community to make play time more enjoyable for them. Look for commercial playground equipment that would not only address their playground fitness, but also develop their cognitive and social skills.

4. Reduce Waste

Do your share by purchasing items in bulk to reduce the amount of packaging. Buying reusable items rather than disposable single-use products can also help in avoiding waste. And when doing the groceries, bring tote bags to avoid the use of plastic bags.

5. Transform Waste into Treasure

Look for second-hand furniture or previously-owned home pieces that are useful and in great condition. If there are unused toys or old clothes that do not fit anymore, hand them down to other people in need. Donating them to the less fortunate is better than just throwing them away. Glass and plastic bottles are good for decorating the house. Use your creativity and give the house a makeover.

6. Grow Greens

If you have a spacious backyard, consider growing various vegetables in it. This can be a source of food available for your household, so you don’t need to buy them when you do your grocery shopping. If you do not have a yard where you can plant a fruit tree, you can still create a small herb garden. Grow them in a pot and place it on the front porch or windowsill. It’ll be a fun learning experience for the kids to watch the plants grow as well.

Jonathan James More is a medical writer. Connect with him via @JJMore022.

by Editor

Are You Smarter Than A Trash Can?

Walking through Boston earlier this week I came across an unusually large trash receptacle. When I went closer to inspect it (throw out my trash) I noticed that it was compactor designed for sustainability.  Besides having a function to compact the trash which would require less pickups, the cans also had solar panels to be self reliant.

BigBelly Solar, the company responsible for these innovative trash cans, was founded in 2003 with “the goal of transforming one of the least efficient and resource-intensive industries on the planet — waste collection. Cities were either collecting too often and wasting fuel and labor while creating CO2 emissions or they were not able to keep up with the demands and overflowing trash cans created litter, health and safety issues. ” BigBelly Solar wanted to fix these issues by inventing a smarter, more efficient, method for collecting trash in cities.

The BigBelly Solar compactors are smart include sensors and a wireless card that tracks the fullness of the compactors. Status updates are sent to the Streets Department so that trash is picked up or fixed when needed.

The city of Philadelphia started replacing traditional cans with BigBelly Solar in 2009 and is now saving 1 million dollars a year. Using trash receptacles that also act as compactors reduced the number of collections needed per week from 17 to 3. This saves money in operational costs and saves in fuel and truck costs.

Though Americans need to cut down on their consumption and the trash they produce, at least BigBelly Solar is providing a more efficient way of handling it. Adopting smarter technologies like BigBelly Solar is a step forward.

Trash Can via Shutterstock

by Maddie Perlman-Gabel

Top 5 Ways to Chill out this Summer with ENERGY STAR

Even when the temperature goes up, your utility bills can still stay low. With help from ENERGY STAR you can keep your cool, tame those bills, and help fight climate change. The secret is to keep your cooling system from working too hard. Discover these Top 5 Ways to Chill Out with ENERGY STAR, so that you and your cooling system can both enjoy the summer! Find out more at www.energystar.gov/cooling.

1.     Keep the heat out

Take advantage of shades, blinds, curtains, awnings and even trees to  keep the sun out during the day, especially on the south and west side of your house. If you are upgrading your windows, consider ENERGY STAR certified windows, which will keep even more heat out. Find and seal leaks (the biggest ones are in your attic and basement) – this will also help reduce humidity and keep out pests and pollen.  Consider adding attic insulation so less heat radiates down into your house from your hot attic.  Sealing air leaks and improving your homes insulation could save you up to $200 a year in cooling/heating costs (or about 10 percent of your annual energy bill). Finally, if you’re replacing your roof, you can reduce the effects of the hot sun by installing ENERGY STAR certified roof products.

2.     Keep the cool in

You’re paying for your AC’s cool air, so don’t let it leak out of your ducts before it gets to the vent and the rooms you want to cool. That’s YOUR air!  In most homes, 25 percent of air that flows through air conditioning ducts leaks out before it gets to you. So get a contractor to test your ducts, seal them, and insulate them so you’re not paying for cool air you don’t get to use. Sealing and insulating ducts can improve the efficiency of an HVAC system by as much as 20 percent.

3.     Maintain Your Cooling System

A simple tune up of your HVAC equipment can do wonders.  Make sure you also change your air filter regularly – EPA recommends every three months at a minimum.   And, if you do not have a programmable thermostat – install one and program it around your family’s summer schedule. Setting the thermostat up by seven degrees when you’re away from home and up by four degrees when you’re asleep can save more than $180 a year.

4.     Be a fan of fans

If you raise your thermostat by only two degrees and use your ceiling fan instead, you can lower cooling costs by up to 14 percent. Use bedroom fans on those cooler summer nights when you might be able to turn off your central air conditioning and naturally cool your home for a lot less. Plus, don’t forget to use your ENERGY STAR certified vent fans to get rid of that unwanted humid air in your bathroom after a shower.

5.  Look for the ENERGY STAR

If your central air conditioning unit is more than 12 years old, replacing it with an ENERGY STAR certified model could cut your cooling costs by 30 percent. In the market for a new room air conditioner? Find one that has earned the ENERGY STAR and use about 15 percent less energy. ENERGY STAR certified dehumidifiers also use 15 percent less energy than a conventional unit.  One last easy tip is to change out those old, hot, incandescent bulbs with ENERGY STAR certified CFL and LED bulbs, since they produce about 70 percent less heat.

HOW TO GET STARTED

Do it now:

  • Use your existing window coverings, add new ones, or adjust blinds to keep sun out
  • Raise your thermostat and use an ENERGY STAR certified ceiling fan
  • Schedule a summer cooling system tune-up
  • Change your air filter every three months
  • Replace old, hot, incandescent bulbs with cool ENERGY STAR certified bulbs.

 

Quick projects:

  • Install a programmable thermostat and program it based on your family’s schedule
  • Find air leaks around your house and seal them with spray foam, caulk, and weather-stripping

 

Plan & Renovate:

  • Improve insulation between your attic and roof
  • Seal and insulate the cooling system ducts in your attic and basement
  • Install low-e windows, awnings, or trees to increase shade
  • Install an ENERGY STAR certified vent fan to use after a shower to reduce humidity
  • Look for the ENERGY STAR if purchasing new air conditioning units, dehumidifiers or windows
  • Consider cool roof shingles; cool, reflective metal roofing; or even just reflective paint.   

Other resources:

 

This article was provided by ENERGY STAR. For more ENERGY STAR tips throughout the summer, see: www.facebook.com/energystar  www.pinterest.com/energystarwww.twitter.com/energystar, and www.youtube.com/epaenergystar

by Editor

Unplugging From Technology and Subscribing To Nature

By: Guest Contributor, Patricia Evans

Not a single day seems to pass by that your kid doesn’t have his laptop or tablet in his hands. You may find yourself convincing your kid endlessly to, for once, give it a try to enjoy what nature has to offer, but to no avail.

Convincing your child to enjoy and appreciate the benefits outdoor activities bring may prove to be challenging. However, if you can only be patient and determined, you’ll surely find yourself succeeding in making your child discard his gadgets in favor of enjoying some time outdoor.

An Extraordinary Camping Experience

Get ready for the return of outdoor vacations! Backyard camping among kids and their families has increased its popularity in the past years. Indulge in a cozy experience, engaging in creative camping play in a DIY budget backyard playground.  Enlist your kids’ help to build a camping playground that the whole family can truly enjoy without spending a lot of money. Build a two-storey haunted house with your kids in your playground. Have a good ol’ scary time playing ghosts at night while camping. Delight in seeing your kids actively yelling and screaming all night long.

Get to Know Your New Friends

Birds are the most common wildlife friends you encounter on a daily basis. Organize a nature-themed playground project by attracting birds to your own backyard. Make homemade feeders or nesting boxes for songbirds and hummingbirds to enjoy. Alternatively, you and your kids may just listen to the birds singing. You may subsequently ask your kids to indicate the types of birds they hear singing according to the sounds produced.

Photo via Zoe Flickr

Expand Your Nature Collection

Turn your kids into natural collectors in your playground. Keep the seeds, pine cones and rocks. Your kids may gather these things from your backyard as tools for a handicraft project. Better yet, make a space on a windowsill or table so you can showcase your child’s nature collection.

Sing and Get Wet

Photo by Sebastiaan ter Burg via Flickr

Change the way kids play. Don’t wait for the rain to go away and for sunshine to come back. Grab a pair of rubber boots and a raincoat for your child. Have fun playing with your kids in rain-damped yards and wet mud puddles. Don’t think twice about joining your kids for some water-shocking good time.

Don’t be Afraid to Take a Night Hike

Even though too much technology can harm children, most kids are fond of playing video games after school at night. Motivate your children to go on a nature walk with you after school. Going on an outdoor adventure is not simply restricted during day time.

Bask in the serenity and the views of the moon and the stars offer. Bravely interact with night animals that you may encounter. Take a moonwalk, study the star constellations, and get to know nocturnal insects. Give your child a moon journal to help him better remember the different phases of the moon.

Discover the Animal Homes

Discover the homes of different animals in your backyard, neighborhood and nearby parks with your kids. Nests, webs, hive, and holes signal signs of wildlife in the area. Your child can easily gain stock of knowledge about the natural habitats of animals they can proudly boast about in school.

Draw a Neighborhood Map

Guide your child in making a map of your very own neighborhood; drawing only the natural landmarks. This activity can tremendously enhance your kids’ observation abilities. It can also initiate the creation of a nature field guide around your neighborhood.

Get Carried Away With Imagination

Photo by John Mueller via Flickr

Your kid doesn’t need to be a brainer to pick out shapes in the clouds. Picking out the shapes of the clouds brings out the visual learner out of your child. Drive your imagination wild just by staring out into a sky filled with big fluffy cotton ball shaped clouds.

Snack and Paint with Berries

Photo by Dan McKay via Flickr

Berry picking is a great activity that can let your kids know that food doesn’t originally come from the supermarket. Pick berries with your kids in a nearby farm or your backyard. Use the extra berries to make watercolors your kids can use in their art projects.

Nowhere but Up

Photo by Matt Patterson via Flickr

Kite flying provides a classic pastime experience that brings enjoyment to the whole family. Fly your kite on a windy day at a local park. Keep track on how long your kid can keep the kite up in the air.

Plenty of Fish in the Sea

If you enjoy catching a fish on your own, consider taking your kid to catch one, too. Teach your child how to use the rod. You’ll be amazed to see the stars in your child’s eyes as he catches his first fish! Take games and books to heighten your fishing experience. Absorb the serenity by telling imaginative stories and playing discreet eye spy games.

Expose Your Kids to Lovable Pets

Pet shops are the best places for children to find out how animals smell, sound and move. Take your child to a pet shop for a visit in your free time during the day. Talking parrots will surely make your kid laugh. Moreover, colorful fish will definitely not fail to brighten up your child’s somber mood.

You and your kids can help reduce carbon footprint by managing a healthy lifestyle outdoors. Enjoying nature-related activities doesn’t mean making things difficult for you and your kids. Your kids may enjoy these outdoor activities by spending a minimal amount of money only. In certain times, you and your kids may even enjoy having these activities for free, while not having to sacrifice living a healthy lifestyle along the way!

Patricia Evans is a Huffington Post UK blogger. Connect with her via Twitter.

by Editor

Celebrate July 4th With an Ice Cold Responsible Beer

Friday is the Fourth of July, which for many Americans means fireworks and BBQ. Most likely, if you’re enjoying a BBQ, you’re going to want some ice cold beer available. Beer is a refreshing drink for the summer (when drunk responsibly, of course), but like many food products consumption of beer can have an environmental impact.

The process of making beer requires a lot of energy and water.  Brewing beer requires the heating and cooling of water and the ingredients to produce the flavor from the hops. According to ColdRiverBrewing, to complete this process breweries use 5 to 10 times more water then leaves the brewery as beer.   Many breweries are now working on ways to make brewing beer more efficient, like reusing the heat used to warm the water and using CO2 recapturing systems.

Consider the following while stocking up on beer for your BBQ:

-If you’re having a lot of people opt for renting a keg. The average keg is reused 20 times a year and can last 20 years.

-There is a debate over which is more eco responsible option, cans or bottles of beer. Can’s are lighter which makes them easier to ship, and they are also easier to recycle. But can’s are made of aluminum which can come from environmentally hazardous mining.

-Remember to recycle.

-Look for organic beers that use locally grown ingredients.

-If you’re going to a bar opt for an on tap variety.

-Celebrate Fourth of July with an American brewed beer, not only are you supporting local breweries reduced shipping saves energy.

PS Check out ENN’s Earlier article on organic wine!

beer and flag via shutterstock

beer in flag bucket via shutterstock

 

by Maddie Perlman-Gabel

Get Smart on Staying Cool

Installing the AC has always been a summer ritual in my house. It is the day I admit that I am weak and need some electronic help to stay cool. Yesterday I installed the power sucking bundle of cool joy into my bedroom window, making summer official, even if the calendar says otherwise.

Of course this cowardice is not exactly a green solution to the “heat problem”.  In fact, wasted heat from air conditioners have been shown to warm the outside air temperature in cities, creating an even stronger dependence on the energy guzzling monsters.

As someone who admittedly uses the AC frequently during the summer months I can’t forbid my fellow users from the powerful cool air blowing beast. I can give tips of using the AC more efficiently, and give more “natural” tips on keeping cool and controlling the heat.

1. If Buying an Air Conditioner Buy One That Is Energy Star Rated

If your Air Conditioner is over 10 years old buying one that is Energy Star rated can save 20-40 percent on cooling costs.

2. Improve Your Insulation

Sealing your ducts and improving insulation can keep you from “loosing” cool air and save on energy bills.

3.Keep AC Filters Clean

Replace filters when possible, dirt limits airflow.

4. Program Your Thermostat

If you have a programmable thermostat, set it to turn on about an hour and a half before you come home from work, that way you don’t leave it full blasting all day.

5. Don’t Turn Your House Into an Ice Box

The AC doesn’t have to turn your house into an icebox in order to make it comfortable. Keep your house at ‘higher’ temperature like 78’ when your home and 85’ when you’re out.

6. AC Your Rooms Efficiently

For those of us without central air who instead use window, ACs it is not always possible to keep the whole house cool.  Choose small rooms that are used a lot. It is more efficient to AC small rooms then large open ones.

7. Limit Use of The Stove and Oven During Hot Weather

During hot weather try to serve ‘cool’ foods likes salads and sandwiches.  Not only will the food be more ‘refreshing,’ but using the stove could warm up the house.

8. Take Advantage of Water

Cool down your body temperature by taking a cold bath, applying a soaked bandana to your forehead, or spritzing your exposed areas with water.

9. Use a Clothesline

Take advantage of the sun, ignore the clothes drying machine and hang up a clothesline instead.

10. Get Some Shade

Prevent excess heat from finding a way into your home by closing your shades in the morning before the sun hits your house. Keeping windows closed during the day keeps the warm air from outside from coming in. Open your windows at night to take advantage of cross ventilation, when the air outside is cooler.

11. Turn Off Lights

Keep your lights out whenever possible because the heat/energy given off by the light can warm up a room.

12. Know When To Use Your Fan

Fans provide the house no benefit if no one is there is appreciate their magic.

 

Enjoy Your Summer!

 

Fan via Shutterstock

by Maddie Perlman-Gabel

This Ball Is A Generator

With the World Cup only days away it is obvious to see that soccer, or futbol, is the most popular sport in the world. Not only is soccer a great fan sport, it is also a fun and easy sport to play. Soccer has limited rules and requires limited equipment, making it a fun game for children of all ages around the world.

During a group project at Harvard University students Jessica Lin, Julia Silverman, Jessica Matthews, Hemali Thakkar, and  Aviva Presser came up with an idea to harness the popularity and enjoyment of a soccer ball and put it to something practical. They came up with the idea of a soccer ball, the Soccket, that could store kinetic energy from use and then be used to power a light. Jessica Matthews eventually took this idea and evolved it into the company Uncharted Play.

The Soccket Ball has a gyroscopic pendulum that can generate six watts of power. After 30 minutes of play, the ball can later be used to power a small lamp for up to 3 hours.  According to Uncharted Play, nearly 2 billion people around the world lack access to a reliable energy source. Instead, they may rely on riskier sources for light like indoor fires and kerosene The Soccket ball is designed as a “fun” way to give them freedom to do safely do activities at night like homework.

Since coming out, Uncharted Play has received a lot of positive praise. In 2013 they went on Kickstarter to raise money and received praise from Bill Gates. They have also received praise from Bill Clinton and TED.

But not all responses to the product have been positive.  Some follow up has shown that the product may not have been ready for distribution since many had stopped working within days. Also many question the distribution and efficiency of the product.

I think the most important part of this invention is not that it will change life as we know it for those that use it, because it won’t.  Instead the idea of adding pendulums to everyday objects to give them a second a life as a generator, lessens our reliability on the grid, could change things. Imagine being able to plug your cell phone into your spoon after a bowl of cereal? Or a living in a fully powered house that relies on the power of your everyday routines?

Soccerball via Shutterstock

by Maddie Perlman-Gabel

Helping Kids Gain Balance between Gadgets and Nature

By: Guest Contributor, Kimberly Grimms

The world is hurriedly becoming an incubator of technology and innovation. Every minute a child is born, a robot is honed. With every gadget, the more robotic entertainment and interaction get. Indeed, technology means it when it brags about staying connected 24/7.

As we all experience plodding cultural change, an extinction of outdoor play among kids is observed. Every one couldn’t agree more.

 

Photo courtesy of Aperturismo via Flickr

Seeing this plight, it is pertinent to ask certain questions to ourselves. Should we continue moving on in this vicious circle involving technology on our kids’ daily life? Or, should we renounce the confines of daily life and start having our kids in the lap of the future? One more pick, should we take a path somewhere in between?

You and your kids don’t have to choose between technology and nature. Combine nature and gadgets with these exciting outdoor play activities with your kids!

1.     A Nature-themed Photowalk

Ask them to prepare their phones and cameras, not to take pictures of them but, go outside and take pictures of nature, the whole family and your outdoor activities. You can get the kids fall in love with nature through bighearted photowalk or make a family video, while having picnic outside.  Let kids use their gadgets to capture the most amazing nature shot. Let them look for birds and flowers to take pictures of it. Prepare mouth-watering and healthy food and prepare mindful and nature-based games. Before the day ends, take a look at the pictures they took and see who have the eye for photography.

 

Photo courtesy of Thomas Hawk via Flickr

 2.     Technology-themed Treasure Hunt

Encourage group cooperation, problem solving, following directions, thinking and reasoning with this extremely exciting game – treasure hunt.  Prepare colorful costumes and props. Make it look like the real treasure hunt they see in the movie. Put a twist. Make their gadgets available with them and let them research online the answers for each station question. You can also use gadgets to cue for the clues, like picture texts, simple math problems, text formatting quiz and many others. At the end of the day, make sure to prepare something special for the kids. Discuss too, what they learn with the treasure hunt play you prepare.

Photo courtesy of Kiven Lawver via Flickr

 3.     Bring them (and their gadgets) to the Playground

Blend technology with nature and play. Bring them and their gadgets to the nearest commercial or residential playground. Ask them to play their gadgets while sitting and see if she/he would prefer playing video games than playing with swing, slide, marry-go-round and other playground equipment. If she/he prefers playing with gadgets, ask him/her to invite friends to join him or tell him to take pictures of her/his friends. If she/he prefers to play with kids in the playground, let her/him. Children have the opportunity to decide for themselves, stimulate their problem solving skills and creative thinking. When they explore the outdoors, they feel freer to wander. Seeing such scenario is just priceless, go create your own nature-themed play project for you and your kids.

 

Photo courtesy of Brisbane City Council via Flickr

  4.     Introduce them to Outdoor Science

Set everything you need outside, it can be in your backyard, near play area or your community playground. You can use simple and easy concepts of science to make kids hold their gadgets and be the next Einstein, modern Einstein. Awe them with do-it-yourself rainbow or the mentos-coke experiment or the all-time string telephone. After accomplishing each simple experiment, explain the basic concepts behind them and let them asks questions. Answer each patiently. Ask them to draw or write a simple review or analysis. You can also ask them to present their simple hypothesis in the front and illustrate it using their ipads or gadgets.

Photo courtesy of Isola di Einstein via Flickr

5.     Game for an Outdoor Quiz

Chances are you and your kids have had quite good and memorable experiences with nature recently. Then, it is now time to dipped your toes in the mud and relieve your outdoor moment through a simple quiz. Ask them the name of the bird you just saw or maybe as simple as asking him what color is the flower you’re holding. Let him/her search in on the internet through his/her gadget and at the same time, see and experience it real time. Make sure to take pictures of him/her too and upload it online. In this manner, he/she will appreciate more of nature while he/she is using his/her gadget.

 

Photo courtesy of Justin Henry via Flickr

We often hear negative effects of almost nothing and everything. Why not go between the lines and try a different approach. Work with technology for nature and your kids. Stimulate all of your kids’ senses, including their innate nature-lover.

 

Kimberly Grimms is a futurist who spends most of her time monitoring social behavior in search for new consumer trends. 

by Editor

29
May/14
0

Solar Power: 4 Steps to Harnessing the Power of the Sun

By: Guest Contributor, Barry Snyder

Superman is powered by the sun and, for most people, solar power remains an elusive fantasy – something relegated to comic book superheroes. And, while solar power isn’t taking over the coal and oil plants, there are some specific uses for solar panels that make sense. Up until now, most consumers haven’t bothered with the technology because it provides only intermittent power, and it’s expensive to set up. But, if you live in a really sunny area, it might make sense to set up your own mini power plant. Here’s how.

Do Your Research

This seems obvious, but research is critical. If you live in Seattle, for example, solar power might not be the greatest investment of time or money. If you live in New Mexico, it might be able to power your entire home. The U.S. Department of Energy makes this rather easy to figure out. Its solar energy potential map shows you year-round solar potential.

Even when you’ve figured out whether you live in a sunny area, you’re not done with the research. You’ll need to look into costs for both the equipment and the installation. In some areas, feed-in-tariffs will speed up the payback period for you because excess energy can be sold back to the power company or used to offset the need to buy electricity from your utility company.

These systems tie directly into the energy grid, and do not rely on battery banks. As such, they are not ideal for off-grid power generation, but they are good for supplemental energy purposes.

Get quotes from at least three different installers so that you have an idea about how much the market rates are for the setup you want. You’ll also need to figure out whether you want a system that will partially or fully offset your electricity use. A system that is designed as a replacement for utilities will generally cost more, because you’ll need more panels and a more robust system capable of powering your entire home.

 

 

Select A Good Area For Positioning

Before you buy anything, figure out where you will put them, and if your property is conducive to panels. Just because you live in a sunny geographical area doesn’t mean your property is conducive to generating solar energy. The best position for fixed panels will be north-facing. That’s because Australia is in the southern hemisphere, and you want the solar panels to be facing the sun as much as possible.

If you have panels that can move with the sun, then the position will be within a specific range as opposed to a set, fixed, position.

Choose a Good System

Certain energy related companies make commercial-grade solar energy equipment. In general, these types of companies will produce a high-quality product compared to consumer-grade companies. They also tend to cost more for the initial installation. However, that upfront cost is usually worth it if you plan on keeping your system for life.

Maintain Your System

Like any piece of technology, there are maintenance costs. The panels need to be cleaned from time to time, and possums and birds can damage the components, decreasing the efficacy or efficiency of the system, so that’s something to consider. Repair costs can be expensive too, if something does break. Ask installers and manufacturers about costs for replacement parts and tech service, as this will be part of the long-term costs of your system.

Barry Snyder is an energy researcher. When not putting hypotheses to the test, he greatly enjoys writing about the emerging research in the field. Visit the Infinite Energy website for more solar power ideas and information.

Solar power image via Shutterstock.

 

by Editor

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