Connect with us


Incentivizing Greener Vehicle Technology



electric car by Kārlis Dambrāns via Flickr

Hybrid and electric vehicles may be gaining in popularity – they’re predicted to make up 35% of new car sales globally by 2040 – but they’re still far from dominating the roads, even as we continue to worry about the impact of fossil fuel emissions on our environment. That’s why, to get more drivers into these ecofriendly vehicles, savvy lawmakers are offering a range of incentives to help offset higher vehicle costs.

From rebates and tax credits to single-occupant HOV access, there’s determination from multiple sectors to change the way we drive.

Credits and Rebates: The Big Incentive

One of the main ways that individual states encourage drivers to shift to new hybrid and electric vehicles is by offering tax credits or rebates. Historically, this has meant waiting until it’s time to file your taxes, which may diminish your eagerness to buy one of these vehicles. That’s why Colorado recently shifted to a format that’s more like a rebate upon purchase.

By providing a financial incentive as soon as drivers purchase a hybrid or electric vehicle, this new system helps relieve some of the financial strain associated with a new car, and makes it easier for people to buy into the system. This immediate financial break can also help with the car insurance costs associated with hybrid and electric vehicles. Comprehensive insurance costs more for more highly valued cars, but it’s certainly coverage worth having, as it protects your car from theft, fire, and windshield damage.

Easing the Fuel Burden

The challenge of charging fully electric vehicles in cities with limited hookups may make some drivers feel as though it would be better to wait for further advances in hybrid and electric technology. Why buy a new car and add to the pollution of manufacturing and shipping when you’ll need to re-invest or retrofit it in a few years?

One way around concerns about fuel efficiency is by increasing the use of renewable diesel. However, until recently, almost all renewable diesel suffered from something called a “blend wall.” The blend wall is the limit of how much biofuel can be mixed with traditional petroleum fuels without causing engine problems – the majority of passenger vehicles are certified for a maximum of B5, or a mix that contains only 5% biodiesel.

We may be close to overcoming the blend wall, according to Neste, a European company currently developing NEXBTL. According to Neste, NEXBTL has no blend wall restrictions, but the company will have to work with car manufacturers to make sure vehicles can run effectively on this biodiesel product.

Small Satisfactions

Beyond the major financial savings that come from rebates or tax credits, most of the other incentives to drive hybrid or electrical vehicles come from the everyday details – knowing you’re being a good steward of our earth, driving a car with fewer maintenance needs, and enjoying a smooth, quiet ride.

Another perk that many areas are adding to the list is a removal of HOV restrictions – if you’re driving a hybrid or electric vehicle, you may not need anyone in the car to use the carpool lane. This is a nice daily advantage and can cut work commute times, but particularly for hybrids, it does undercut some of the ecological reasons for switching cars.

Ultimately, whatever incentives will get more drivers to invest in hybrid and electric vehicles will benefit our environment and reduce our dependency on fossil fuels, a vital step when car ownership is increasing on a global scale.

Though specific rebates and credits vary by region, there is broad support for making our transportation greener.



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.

Continue Reading


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!

Continue Reading