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The 8 Most Sustainable Cars on the Market



electric car charging by xlibber via Flickr

When you’re looking for a way to reduce your overall carbon footprint, the first item you should consider is your car. Personal vehicles are responsible for approximately one-fifth of all U.S. emissions, because every gallon of gas burned emits 24 pounds of carbon dioxide and other pollutants into the atmosphere.

Switching to a fuel-efficient vehicle might well be the most eco-friendly decision you can make. Vehicles that travel farther on fewer gallons of gas produce fewer emissions, which will slow the pace of global warming.

The next time you go shopping for a car, take a good look at the following sustainable vehicles.

1. Ford C-Max Hybrid

This little hatchback gets about 40 miles to the gallon. It’s a small car, but the 2.0L I-4 188hp hybrid gas engine gives it plenty of power. It starts at just $25k, which makes it a great bargain for your fuel-efficiency needs.

2. Toyota Camry Hybrid

This sedan starts at $26k and averages 43 miles to the gallon. What makes this vehicle especially attractive is that its gas mileage in the city is actually better than its mileage on the highway. That makes it an excellent car for driving to work and running errands without having to worry about causing excess pollution.

3. Toyota Prius

The entire Prius family is known for getting great gas mileage and having a gentle impact on the environment. The newest vehicle on the market operates on an average of 58 mpg in the city and 53 mpg on the highway. It starts at $24k, but you can easily find an older version or a used Prius on sale for less than $20k.

4. Tesla Model S

If you’re tired of driving a gas-guzzling vehicle and you can afford it, Tesla’s electric vehicles will never disappoint. The 2016 Model S covers a range of 230 to 253 miles on a full battery.

If you’re going farther than that, you can supplement the electric charge with gasoline, which will give you an average of 101 miles to the gallon. The other benefit of Tesla’s vehicles is that they’re fast and they don’t scrimp on power. The only downside with this model is that it starts at $70k.

5. Nissan LEAF

Starting at $29k, this little sedan/hatchback is a bargain when you factor in the savings you will enjoy. It’s the first vehicle to rival Tesla’s models at a much more affordable price. The battery life is not nearly as impressive as you’ll get with the Tesla, but it will give you up to 100 miles using just the battery. When supplemented with gasoline, the car gets an average of 115 miles to the gallon.

6. BMW i3

If you’re looking for luxury, sustainability, and affordability, the $42k BMW i3 is an excellent solution. It offers up to 160 miles on the battery alone or up to 137 city miles for every gallon of gasoline. The vehicle is small, but it doesn’t lack power, which makes this car particularly appealing.

7. Honda Civic Hybrid

This mid-size sedan is a little larger than the traditional hybrid, so it offers more comfort. It gets approximately 45 miles to the gallon and starts at an unbelievably low price of $24k, which makes it easily accessible to anyone hoping to reduce his or her carbon footprint.

8. Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid

Despite the current scandal surrounding Volkswagen and the company’s emissions data, the Jetta Hybrid model is a highly sustainable vehicle. Boasting an average of 44 miles to the gallon, and a four-door sedan design, the vehicle is comfortable and economical. It starts at $31k, and will keep your personal emissions down.




Is Wood Burning Sustainable For Your Home?



sustainable wood burning ideas

Wood is a classic heat source, whether we think about people gathered around a campfire or wood stoves in old cabins, but is it a sustainable source of heat in modern society? The answer is an ambivalent one. In certain settings, wood heat is an ideal solution, but for the majority of homes, it isn’t especially suitable. So what’s the tipping point?

Wood heat is ideal for small homes on large properties, for individuals who can gather their own wood, and who have modern wood burning ovens. A green approach to wood heat is one of biofuel on the smallest of scales.

Is Biofuel Green?

One of the reasons that wood heat is a source of so much divide in the eco-friendly community is that it’s a renewable resource and renewable has become synonymous with green. What wood heat isn’t, though, is clean or healthy. It lets off a significant amount of carbon and particulates, and trees certainly don’t grow as quickly as it’s consumed for heat.

Of course, wood is a much less harmful source of heat than coal, but for scientists interested in developing green energy sources, it makes more sense to focus on solar and wind power. Why, then, would they invest in improved wood burning technology?

Homegrown Technology

Solar and wind technology are good large-scale energy solutions, but when it comes to small-space heating, wood has its own advantages. First, wood heat is in keeping with the DIY spirit of homesteaders and tiny house enthusiasts. These individuals are more likely to be driven to gather their own wood and live in small spaces that can be effectively heated as such.

Wood heat is also very effective on an individual scale because it requires very little infrastructure. Modern wood stoves made of steel rather than cast iron are built to EPA specifications, and the only additional necessary tools include a quality axe, somewhere to store the wood, and an appropriate covering to keep it dry. And all the wood can come from your own land.

Wood heat is also ideal for people living off the grid or in cold areas prone to frequent power outages, as it’s constantly reliable. Even if the power goes out, you know that you’ll be able to turn up the heat. That’s important if you live somewhere like Maine where the winters can get exceedingly cold. People have even successfully heated a 40’x34’ home with a single stove.

Benefits Of Biomass

The ultimate question regarding wood heat is whether any energy source that’s dangerous on the large scale is acceptable on a smaller one. For now, the best answer is that with a growing population and limited progress towards “pure” green energy, wood should remain a viable option, specifically because it’s used on a limited scale. Biomass heat is even included in the UK’s Renewable Heat Initiative and minor modifications can make it even more sustainable.

Wood stoves, when embraced in conjunction with pellet stoves, geothermal heating, and masonry heaters, all more efficient forms of sustainable heat, should be part of a modern energy strategy. Ultimately, we’re headed in the direction of diversified energy – all of it cleaner – and wood has a place in the big picture, serving small homes and off-the-grid structures, while solar, wind, and other large-scale initiatives fuel our cities.

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7 Benefits You Should Consider Giving Your Energy Employees



As an energy startup, you’re always looking to offer the most competitive packages to entice top-tier talent. This can be tough, especially when trying to put something together that’s both affordable but also has perks that employees are after.

After all, this is an incredibly competitive field and one that’s constantly doing what it can to stay ahead. However, that’s why I’m bringing you a few helpful benefits that could be what bolsters you ahead of your competition. Check them out below:

Financial Advising

One benefit commonly overlooked by companies is offering your employees financial advising services, which could help them tremendously in planning for their long-term goals with your firm. This includes anything from budgeting and savings plans to recommendations for credit repair services and investments. Try to take a look at if your energy company could bring on an extra person or two specifically for this role, as it will pay off tremendously regarding retention and employee happiness.

Life Insurance

While often included in a lot of health benefits packages, offering your employees life insurance could be an excellent addition to your current perks. Although seldom used, life insurance is a small sign that shows you care about the life of their family beyond just office hours. Additionally, at such a low cost, this is a pretty simple aspect to add to your packages. Try contacting some brokers or insurance agents to see if you can find a policy that’s right for your firm.

Dedicated Time To Enjoy Their Hobbies

Although something seen more often in startups in Silicon Valley, having dedicated office time for employees to enjoy their passions is something that has shown great results. Whether it be learning the piano or taking on building a video game, having your team spend some time on the things they truly enjoy can translate to increased productivity. Why? Because giving them the ability to better themselves, they’ll in turn bring that to their work as well.

The Ability To Work Remotely

It’s no secret that a lot of employers despise the idea of letting their employees work remotely. However, it’s actually proven to hold some amazing benefits. According to Global Workplace Analytics, 95% of employers that allow their employees to telework reported an increased rate of retention, saving on both turnover and sick days. Depending on the needs of each individual role, this can be a strategy to implement either whenever your team wants or on assigned days. Either way, this is one perk almost everyone will love.

Health Insurance

Even though it’s mandated for companies with over 50 employees, offering health insurance regardless is arguably a benefit well received across the board. In fact, as noted in research compiled by KFF, 28.6% of employers with less than 50 people still offered health care. Why is that the case? Because it shows you care about their well-being, and know that a healthy employee is one that doesn’t have to worry about astronomical medical bills.

Unlimited Time Off

This is a perk that almost no employer offers but should be regarded as something to consider. According to The Washington Post, only 1-2% of companies offer unlimited vacation, which it’s easy to see why. A true “unlimited vacation” program could be a firm’s worse nightmare, with employees skipping out every other week to enjoy themselves. However, with the right model in place that rewards hard work with days off, your employees will absolutely adore this policy.

A Full Pantry

Finally, having a pantry full of food can be one perk that’s not only relatively inexpensive but also adds to the value of the workplace. As noted by USA Today, when surveying employees who had snacks versus those who didn’t, 67% of those who did reported they were “very happy” with their work life. You’d be surprised at how much of a difference this could make, especially when considering the price point. Consider adding a kitchen to your office if you haven’t already, and always keep the snacks and drinks everyone wants fully stocked. Doing so will increase morale tremendously.

Final Thoughts

Compiling a great package for your energy company is going to take some time in looking at what you can afford versus what’s the most you can offer. While it might mean cutting back in other areas, having a workforce that feels like you genuinely want to take care of them can take you far. And with so many different benefits to include in your energy company’s package, which one is your favorite? Comment with your answers below!

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