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Homes Can Now Be Powered By Solar Around The Clock



Community Members Are Pushing Back Against COAG Fossil Fuel Scare Campaign

With phenomena like Brexit & Pokemania it’s easy to ignore the shift happening in global energy networks which mean important benefits for us all. The majority of a homeowners’ electricity demand can now be provided by solar thanks to steps forward in performance, lifetime & cost.

Lithium batteries are 90% cheaper than in 1990 and last longer than 10 years! Welcome to the store-age!
Storage technology has developed so much that in 2015, over a third (41%) of all solar systems installed by German homeowners were tied with battery storage. As noted by analysts at Greentech Media “The future of Germany’s energy storage market is bright, and the solar market will surely benefit as storage prices decline.” The UK will follow Germany’s lead.
Storage cuts the electricity bill
Solar with storage can dramatically reduce a homeowner’s dependence on their supplier for their electricity. We all know that solar panels on your roof generate clean energy; however until recently there has not been a way to guarantee that homeowners can use that energy. A range of new storage devices mean this is no longer the case – a storage device in the home makes the clean energy available whenever you need it- no more timing the washing machine to run during daylight hours.
Most importantly for homeowners, storage means they can consume more of the solar energy generated by their panels. The experience of the UK’s first Tesla Powerwall customer illustrates this well.
After installing the much-hyped battery, the homeowner used a whopping 80% of the electricity generated by the panels on their roof during the last week of April 2016. Previously, the same family – who are not usually at home in the day so demand most electricity in the evening and on weekends – used around 20% of all the solar electricity their panels generated. (This varies from one home to the next depending on a variety of factors such as the size of the storage device.)
This diagram shows the sweet spot of the perfect solar and storage marriage. Combining solar and storage reduces the amount of electricity required from a supply company, which translates to hefty savings.
So why is a storage revolution happening now? There are two main reasons: solar and storage prices have hit a tipping point and storage device lifetimes are much longer, so they don’t need replacing as often. Your mobile phone battery might be good for 2 years. The latest good quality lithium batteries for use with solar panels are now warrantied for 10 years.
It’s widely known that the cost of solar PV has fallen dramatically. In fact, earlier this year Oxford University researchers asserted that costs are dropping so fast that solar will continue to decline at 10% per year. This means an average sized 3kWp system costs as little as £5000.
Storage prices have also plummeted by 90% since 1990, and consequently there are now a plethora of new storage devices to choose from. Since the launch of Tesla’s Powerwall last year, a range of storage devices for homes have hit the market from companies like LG, Enphase, Sonnen, SunAmp and Powervault. Consumers have choice, and professional installers select the right product for each householders needs.
Tesla is also not the only vehicle manufacturer in the market to launch a battery device for homeowners; Mercedes, BMW and Nissan are launching batteries for the home which can be charged during the day by solar panels on the roof, ready to offload to an electric vehicle in the evening. With this choice, it’s getting easier for homeowners to find a device that’s right for them.
What’s right for your home?
You could consider:
• What’s my budget?
• If I look at when I use electricity, could I use more of the solar power from my solar roof system if I get an energy storage device?
• How important is it for me to become energy independent i.e. less reliant on my electricity supplier?


Storage in 2016


Analysts IHS predict that the global energy storage market will double this year as homes, businesses and utilities adopt energy storage. “Energy storage is set to grow as fast as solar photovoltaic energy has in recent years,” according to Marianne Boust, an IHS principal analyst.
If these predictions ring true, you could find yourself shopping for a storage system much sooner than you thought.



5 Easy Things You Can Do to Make Your Home More Sustainable




sustainable homes
Shutterstock Licensed Photot - By Diyana Dimitrova

Increasing your home’s energy efficiency is one of the smartest moves you can make as a homeowner. It will lower your bills, increase the resale value of your property, and help minimize our planet’s fast-approaching climate crisis. While major home retrofits can seem daunting, there are plenty of quick and cost-effective ways to start reducing your carbon footprint today. Here are five easy projects to make your home more sustainable.

1. Weather stripping

If you’re looking to make your home more energy efficient, an energy audit is a highly recommended first step. This will reveal where your home is lacking in regards to sustainability suggests the best plan of attack.

Some form of weather stripping is nearly always advised because it is so easy and inexpensive yet can yield such transformative results. The audit will provide information about air leaks which you can couple with your own knowledge of your home’s ventilation needs to develop a strategic plan.

Make sure you choose the appropriate type of weather stripping for each location in your home. Areas that receive a lot of wear and tear, like popular doorways, are best served by slightly more expensive vinyl or metal options. Immobile cracks or infrequently opened windows can be treated with inexpensive foams or caulking. Depending on the age and quality of your home, the resulting energy savings can be as much as 20 percent.

2. Programmable thermostats

Programmable thermostats

Shutterstock Licensed Photo – By Olivier Le Moal

Programmable thermostats have tremendous potential to save money and minimize unnecessary energy usage. About 45 percent of a home’s energy is earmarked for heating and cooling needs with a large fraction of that wasted on unoccupied spaces. Programmable thermostats can automatically lower the heat overnight or shut off the air conditioning when you go to work.

Every degree Fahrenheit you lower the thermostat equates to 1 percent less energy use, which amounts to considerable savings over the course of a year. When used correctly, programmable thermostats reduce heating and cooling bills by 10 to 30 percent. Of course, the same result can be achieved by manually adjusting your thermostats to coincide with your activities, just make sure you remember to do it!

3. Low-flow water hardware

With the current focus on carbon emissions and climate change, we typically equate environmental stability to lower energy use, but fresh water shortage is an equal threat. Installing low-flow hardware for toilets and showers, particularly in drought prone areas, is an inexpensive and easy way to cut water consumption by 50 percent and save as much as $145 per year.

Older toilets use up to 6 gallons of water per flush, the equivalent of an astounding 20.1 gallons per person each day. This makes them the biggest consumer of indoor water. New low-flow toilets are standardized at 1.6 gallons per flush and can save more than 20,000 gallons a year in a 4-member household.

Similarly, low-flow shower heads can decrease water consumption by 40 percent or more while also lowering water heating bills and reducing CO2 emissions. Unlike early versions, new low-flow models are equipped with excellent pressure technology so your shower will be no less satisfying.

4. Energy efficient light bulbs

An average household dedicates about 5 percent of its energy use to lighting, but this value is dropping thanks to new lighting technology. Incandescent bulbs are quickly becoming a thing of the past. These inefficient light sources give off 90 percent of their energy as heat which is not only impractical from a lighting standpoint, but also raises energy bills even further during hot weather.

New LED and compact fluorescent options are far more efficient and longer lasting. Though the upfront costs are higher, the long term environmental and financial benefits are well worth it. Energy efficient light bulbs use as much as 80 percent less energy than traditional incandescent and last 3 to 25 times longer producing savings of about $6 per year per bulb.

5. Installing solar panels

Adding solar panels may not be the easiest, or least expensive, sustainability upgrade for your home, but it will certainly have the greatest impact on both your energy bills and your environmental footprint. Installing solar panels can run about $15,000 – $20,000 upfront, though a number of government incentives are bringing these numbers down. Alternatively, panels can also be leased for a much lower initial investment.

Once operational, a solar system saves about $600 per year over the course of its 25 to 30-year lifespan, and this figure will grow as energy prices rise. Solar installations require little to no maintenance and increase the value of your home.

From an environmental standpoint, the average five-kilowatt residential system can reduce household CO2 emissions by 15,000 pounds every year. Using your solar system to power an electric vehicle is the ultimate sustainable solution serving to reduce total CO2 emissions by as much as 70%!

These days, being environmentally responsible is the hallmark of a good global citizen and it need not require major sacrifices in regards to your lifestyle or your wallet. In fact, increasing your home’s sustainability is apt to make your residence more livable and save you money in the long run. The five projects listed here are just a few of the easy ways to reduce both your environmental footprint and your energy bills. So, give one or more of them a try; with a small budget and a little know-how, there is no reason you can’t start today.

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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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