5 Things You Need To Know To Reduce Your Electricity Bill

If you are a homeowner, you have probably thought of lowering your electricity bills every time you get your bill is logical. According to a recent study, the electricity bill is the second-highest cost most homeowners pay every month. That’s not surprising because thanks to modern science, we use electricity to run appliances for everything around the home nowadays.

Especially during this time when coronavirus has damaged the world economy, people are struggling to pay their bills. Meanwhile, lockdowns mean more time at home and higher electricity use than if you were in the office most of your day. You can reduce your electricity consumption if you use it smartly. As a result, your bill will reduce too. If you are looking to cut your electric bill, this article will give you some ideas on how you can do that.

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1. Get A Smarter Thermostat

In case you didn’t know, your heating and cooling system takes up almost forty-five percent of your total electricity consumption every month. So, if you can reduce at least some of your thermostats consumption, you will see a huge difference in your total bill.

Depending on your local weather, you may need to run your heater or cooler throughout the day. Though this is almost half of your total electricity consumption, that doesn’t mean you need to give up your comfort to reduce the bill. All you need to do is to make the job a bit easier for the thermostat. Control your urge to set the temperature too high or too low. For instance, put on a few extra layers of clothes to stay warm instead of setting the temperature too high on the thermostat.

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If you don’t want to take up the work to adjust the temperature from time to time continually, look into getting a programmable thermostat. With these thermostats, you can program the temperature for each time of the day. This way, you won’t need to change it frequently, but it will run in just the required temperature all the time.

2. Use Solar Power

As mentioned before, if you want to reduce your energy bills, that doesn’t mean you need to sacrifice your comfort. A great way to reduce your energy consumption is not to use it all the time. You don’t need to use electricity all the time when you are getting unlimited solar energy every day.

Solar energy is also known as green energy. Using solar energy is an emerging trend worldwide. Solar panels are installed on the roof, and these panels then convert sun rays into solar energy. It is a pretty simple process, but it can work wonders for you. The best part is they are not overly expensive to install – but the energy savings are significant.

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You might be thinking that the sun will provide energy only during day time. How are we going to run our utilities at night? The answer is pretty simple. You can get solar battery storage. These storage cells store the excess energy that you don’t need in the daytime and let you use it at night. This way, be it day or night, you can get everything done using solar energy.

3. Use Ceiling Fans

If you live in a warm climate, most of your electricity consumption is used by your air cooler. Although new technologies are coming every day, and you can get energy-efficient air conditioners now, but they still consume a lot of energy. While you can’t get rid of your air cooler completely, you can sometimes use a ceiling fan to create an airflow that cools the room down.

A ceiling fan is a great cost-efficient option. These fans pull out hot air and circulate cold air. It may not give you the same effect as an air cooler, but it will surely make your room a bit more comfortable as it circulates cold air. But the best thing is a ceiling fan takes up a fraction of the electricity that air cooler consumes. So, even if you don’t use it all the time, you can alternate between the ceiling fan and the cooler.

There are a few hacks that can help you stay comfortable even with the ceiling fan. For instance, try keeping the windows and doors which are facing the east covered. This will minimize the heat that comes from the sun.

4. Minimize the electricity your laundry takes

Washing your laundry with hot water takes up a lot of energy. The heater has to work a lot to provide this much hot water to your washing machine. Try using cold water to wash your clothes. You would be surprised how using cold water can reduce almost half of your laundry cost.

The key here is to use appliances. So if you are using your washing machine, try using it as little as possible – save the laundry loads and do them all at once during off-peak hours. So if you are using your washing machine to dry your clothes, you need to reconsider that. Drying clothes is a chore that can easily be done without using any energy. Line drying laundry is an easy way that takes no electricity. It may take longer, but it is free.

5. Reduce Phantom Drainage

If you haven’t heard of phantom drainage before, you are in for a bit of a ‘shocker’! It is also known as standby power. You may think that it is unnecessary to remove the plug when you are not using the appliances. They are turned off after all. But the truth is, your devices consume electricity even when they are not in use.

According to a study, appliances consume almost fifty percent of the total energy when they are actually not used. So, this energy is going nowhere, and you are the one paying for it. Not only is it a loss of our valuable energy and degrading our environment, but it is also a waste of money. So always make sure to remove the plug when you are not using an appliance.

To Sum Up

Reducing your electricity bill is not something that can be done in a day. It’s a day to day practice. Following these simple tips will lower your utility bill remarkably. But these are not the only things you can do.

There are many small things you can do to get better results. For instance, try to install energy-efficient appliances. They take up a lot less energy than regular ones. You should also be mindful of wasting energy by keeping lights or coolers on when they are not required. Last, but not the least, use a budget calculator to keep a tab on where your money is going.

Switching To Solar Energy: 8 Mistakes Every Homeowner Should Avoid Making

Since many household owners are discovering the inflation on electricity prices, some are gradually shifting to changing their utility resources. The installations of solar panels are on the rise today simply because they yield savings and can be used for as long as a quarter of a century. However, it’s understandable why many homeowners hesitate to participate in this switch. After all, the initial investment for changing to solar panels can be hefty.

Some people are afraid to take the leap because they’re not well-informed about the do’s and don’ts when installing solar panels. Considering the price you need to shell out initially, you can’t afford to make room for mistakes. Costly mistakes can be a burden and might lead to regrets. However, these can be prevented by doing your assignment early. Reputable contractors like Smart Solar Energy and other high-rated companies can guide you throughout the process.

Discover some of the common mistakes when switching to solar energy:

mistakes when switching to solar energy

1. Procrastinating On Deciding To Go Solar

A solar energy system is a significant investment, so it’s only natural that you have many questions and underlying doubts. Due to the cost of solar power for the home, many people hesitate to go solar. However, when you procrastinate on this decision, you’re actually losing out on the savings that are supposed to be earned early on.

Because current solar rebates and tax credits will soon be phased out as solar panels become more popular, the urgency for you to adopt this type of energy is increased. You may not be able to take advantage of these incentives until you decide to install your panels. Chances are, many other homeowners are on the same page as you, and the governments have then stopped awarding incentives.

Hence, before regrets eat you up, later on, you should act and decide now. Although your monthly electricity costs will always be saved, getting financial rewards from the government is also a significant advantage that you can’t miss out on.

2. Going For Sub-Standard Equipment

The upfront cost of solar panel installation that most homeowners find to be the most significant barrier to owning solar panels. This often leads potential solar customers to seek out the lowest possible installation prices. However, like other home project investments, going for the price over quality will usually result in regrets later.

When choosing a solar company, you should always prioritize other essential factors and not just the cost. For example, there should be a reason why the price is too low compared to other contractors. Companies that provide low quotes may have sourced inferior panels or cut corners. When you go for sub-standard equipment, this can only result in disasters and possibly roof leaks later. You always get what you pay for, so paying cheap will mean you’re getting cheap quality too.

It’s essential to buy solar panels from a reputable source if you want them to last for decades to come. By spending more on quality installation, you’ll also be less likely to face problems down the road. The panels should be evenly spaced, and all conduit runs should be hidden, making for an aesthetically pleasing installation.

3. Expecting Wrongly

Another mistake many homeowners make is to expect wrongly. Just because they invested in solar panels, they’d think that the return on investment can happen in a few years, which is far-fetched in some cases. Even though solar panels can be an excellent investment for your home, it’s essential to know that they can be expensive and take many years to pay off, depending on where you live. Solar panels last for about 25 years, sometimes even longer, so you’ll have ample time to recoup your investment.

You’ll be better positioned to decide how to finance your system and discuss the payback period with installers if you have a reasonable estimate of the timeframe. It’s critical to research beforehand and inquire about the possible return of investment rate for your solar panel installation. You can ask your installation company so your expectations can be corrected. You can also ask about solar panel degradation in case of future preparations.

Unrealistic expectations often arise from homeowners overlooking the sun’s variability. Solar panel output will vary depending on cloud cover and daylight hours, as well as the time of day. Therefore, you need to take this into consideration when deciding to switch to solar energy. It’s best to look at the long-run scenario and not focus on the short term. By doing so, you’ll better expect how advantageous solar panels can be for your long-term expenses as well as reducing your carbon footprint.

4. Judging Their Roofs Are Incompatible

Solar panels are commonly installed on roofs facing a specific direction, which is a myth. Solar energy production is influenced by roof angle, but it doesn’t drastically affect how much energy your panels produce. Therefore, it’s best to let this misconception go, and it’d be best to communicate with your solar panel installer instead directly.

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Furthermore, solar panels can be installed on a variety of roof types. Whatever material you use on your roofs, whether they’re tiles, metal, or asphalt shingles, solar panels can be installed in them. Since a few roof tiles will need to be removed to prevent breakage, tile roofing will incur additional installation costs. However, the savings will quickly offset the extra cost.

For homes that come with flat-surfaced roofing, solar panel installers can make way to angle the panels to receive enough sunlight.

5. Going For The Wrong Warranties

You can save yourself from myriad future issues with a solar warranty included in the package. In many cases, solar panels come with a warranty from the company. Solar panels for your house are composed of so many parts and components that even the most minor defect can compromise the system’s performance, leaving you with significant maintenance costs. When choosing the solar panel company, ensure that the warranty covers more than the solar panel itself. Selecting a company that covers the entire system is advisable rather than just solar panels.

Find a company that can handle repairs with whatever is broken on your entire solar panel system. They should provide the replacement parts with no additional charge, even for shipment when the parts are delivered from somewhere else. This would be the best warranty to find.

Some companies may not clearly state what type of warranty they offer, so make sure to discuss this element thoroughly before dealing with them. Make sure there won’t be any hidden fees and additional charges when they fix something that’s still covered by their warranty.

6. Settling For One Quote Only

Anytime you switch to solar energy or purchase a service of any kind, you should be sure to get several quotes. This is a no-brainer tip but should be emphasized more often as there might be instances when one contractor can be too good at sales talking. It’s not uncommon for unscrupulous service providers to overcharge for panels and installation, resulting in you losing money and time that could go towards saving energy.

It’s always wise to seek quotations from several reputable solar energy companies. Ask these companies to break down each component of solar power costs so that you’ll know precisely what you’re buying. The highly reputable companies are usually transparent with their prices, and it won’t be an issue for them to explain every detail to you.

When estimating the size of your solar system and the installation cost, make sure that each potential installer considers different factors such as the orientation of your home and the size of your roof. All these aspects will impact the overall price of your solar panel installation. Try to give out more information about your roofs and home, so they can better give you an estimate.

7. Doing It Yourself

Another disastrous mistake is to do the solar panel installations by yourself. Sure, there are certain advantages to being a DIY-er, but in this situation, this won’t be fitting as solar installation requires technical and specialized skills. You can end up doing more harm than good. You can decide what best solar panel to use for your home, but you need to leave the installations to the professionals.

Watching a few YouTube videos won’t suffice to install solar panels. Experts in this field have undergone months or years of training, and it’s not something you can achieve just by reading manuals and watching guide videos. Regardless of the optimal direction for the panels or wiring issues, leaving the installation to the professionals is better and more cost-effective. You can rest easy knowing that all the lines and wires are perfectly in place when you hire professionals to do it.

Making the connections yourself will require more costs as you experience trial and error situations. By hiring a contractor, they can design a custom system that saves you money, calculate the savings on your monthly electric bill, show you how much clean energy you’ll receive, provide a quote, and explain all available incentives and tax credits. Whatever questions, concerns, worries, and doubts you have can be handled and tackled by these professionals. It’s part of their job to answer all your questions.

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8. Not Considering The Financial Incentives

Solar tax credits, solar rebates, and other financial incentives will be discussed by reputable solar installers, and they’ll even be able to assist with the paperwork. Still, you should also be aware of these programs. At the end of the day, you’ll be the one to pay for your system and benefit from these programs, so you should make sure you don’t overpay.

Try to learn about the incentives and rewards offered to neighborhoods and houses that comply with solar panels. You’ll be armed with all the information you need when you begin speaking with installers, and you can make the best financial decision. Managing your expectations during the process will also be helpful.

Conclusion

You should now consider requesting a quote from reputable solar panel companies around your area. Also, try to avoid the same common mistakes mentioned in this article. You can save money and the environment by switching to solar energy. However, before making the switch, you should be prepared. Apply all the pointers mentioned in this article, and you’ll be ready to start your switch.

6 Tips to Save Money On Your Electricity Bill

Utilizing energy more efficiently not only saves you money on your electricity bill, but also helps meet the ever-growing energy demand. High energy efficiency reduces greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants and water usage. It also stabilizes electricity volatility and prices. Here’s how you can save big on your electricity bill.

tips to reduce electricity bill

1. Switch your provider

Switching your energy supplier can help you cut your electricity bills significantly. Shop around to find the cheapest rates for your business and home to save money each month. You can use a price comparison site to find the fairest offers in the market. You may also shift to retail energy providers such as Energy Texas for affordable green energy options. Consider managing your electricity bills online because sending paper bills may attract additional costs.

2. Conduct an energy audit

An energy audit gives you a clear picture of your home’s energy usage, safety, and comfort. It helps you determine how much energy you’re using, what part of your home is inefficient, and what you can improve. It helps know the changes and improvements you can make to become more energy-efficient, so consider conducting your energy audit before finding ways to reduce energy usage to identify cost-saving opportunities.

3. Use programmable thermostats

A programmable thermostat allows you to control your home’s temperature regardless of your location, helping you save money on your heating and cooling costs. Your thermostat settings will differ depending on seasons, local climate, and your home’s condition. With a programmable thermostat, you can use a pre-set schedule to regulate the times your heating and cooling system turns on.

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Don’t set your thermostat at settings colder than usual when turning your AC to unnecessary energy expenses. Place your thermostat far from windows, doors, direct sunlight, kitchen, drafts, and hallways to prevent it from changing the temperature unnecessarily.

4. Insulate your roof

If your home is adequately insulated, less warm air will escape during the winter and summer, reducing the amount of heating and cooling energy. Insulation reduces heat exchange through walls, attic, roof, and ducts. Well insulated walls, ceilings, and floors require less energy to heat and cool your home. Seal and insulate your ducts to heat and cool your home. Warm or cool air can escape through gaps and cracks, so consider weather stripping and caulking to prevent air leaks, saving energy.

5. Be careful with lighting

While switching off your lights when not in use can save energy, changing your lighting can yield more energy savings. Consider replacing your bulbs with energy-efficient light-emitting diodes (LEDs) and compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) to make your home more energy-efficient. Place lamps in corners and use daylighting techniques and automatic dimmers for improved energy efficiency. You can also use task lighting, including reading lamps, bedside and desk lights, to meet specific needs.

Reasons to Convert to LED Lighting

6. Use energy-efficient appliances

Using energy-efficient appliances reduces home energy bills, saving you money. When shopping for energy-efficient appliances, consider available space to ensure ventilation clearance. Look for the Energy Star logo to ensure your appliances are energy-efficient. Consider replacing your clothes dryers, refrigerators, dishwashers, and other appliances in your home with Energy Star labels to save electricity.

Endnote

If not controlled, your monthly energy costs can be very high. Use these tips to save big on your electricity bill.

9 Amazing Things You Didn’t Know About Tesla Solar Batteries

Tesla has been making headlines for a while, but they’re not just about their electric cars. They’ve also made some waves with Tesla solar batteries. Tesla solar batteries store solar energy from solar power systems.

We’ll take you through 9 of the most amazing things that you may not know about Tesla’s solar battery products, so let’s get started!

facts about tesla solar battery

1. Tesla solar batteries are the most efficient on the market

The Tesla Powerwall is the most efficient solar storage solution on the market. Tesla’s new product is 30-40% more efficient than its competitors! This increased efficiency translates to a cost saving of about $3000 for every 20 years you use the battery (depending on energy prices).

2. Tesla’s solar batteries can last up to 20 years with little maintenance

Nobody wants to be bothered with repair problems! With Tesla solar batteries, you don’t have to be. These babies deliver long-lasting performance (up to 20 years) with little required maintenance.

Just in case you’re wondering what happens after those 20 years? The Tesla solar battery will still hold about 80% of its capacity after that time! So although not recommended to keep using a solar battery forever, your investment will last a good while.

3. Tesla is aiming to produce 3,000 GWh of energy storage by 2030

Yes, Tesla is ambitious! And it plans on producing an astounding amount of Tesla solar battery storage by 2030. You see, Tesla manufactures the Tesla Powerwall and commercial-grade Tesla batteries that can power electric vehicles, entire buildings and larger communities!

All this means you’ll probably have access to Tesla’s large scale energy storage technologies much sooner than you thought! And it may not cost so much more either.

4. The Tesla solar battery has a built-in inverter that converts DC power into AC power

A Tesla solar battery eliminates the need for a separate solar inverter. That’s a huge plus – considering a solar inverter can be the most expensive part of a solar energy system. The Tesla battery uses its built-in inverter to convert the DC power into AC and send it directly to your home or business.

This integrated conversion feature is one reason many experts say that Tesla batteries could help bring down the cost of solar electricity even more – making it available for everyone!

5. The battery works best in areas with a high electricity demand or zones that suffer from frequent blackouts

The ideal use cases for Tesla solar batteries are areas that can generate a lot of solar energy and have high utility costs or frequent blackouts. If you’re looking to invest in Tesla solar batteries, consider how much daily sunlight your location receives!

Tesla’s new Powerwall battery is not the same as an AC coupled system. There are no complicated wiring configurations required. Just plug your generator into the wall outlet, and voila! You now have all the benefits listed above at your disposal without spending thousands on traditional UPS systems. You can also use a generator to charge the Tesla solar battery!

6. It also stores surplus renewable energy during off-peak hours to use during peak hours when prices are higher

Not sure you can use all the free electricity you generate during the day? No worries! A Tesla solar battery allows you to sell any extra energy your solar panels generate back to the power grid.

What does this mean? It means that if there is an excess of electricity generated during off-peak hours, your Tesla Powerwall will store it in its battery bank until peak hour begins. Then, as soon as prices shoot up (which they tend to do at around mid-day), your system kicks in and starts selling all the stored power right back to the electric company’s grid.

This way, you can optimize all the solar electricity generated by your system!

7. The cost of Tesla solar batteries is decreasing as the technology improves

Yes, terrific news! Tesla solar solutions keep dropping in price as the technology improves. Tesla solar batteries have no moving parts, which means they can last for decades with absolutely zero maintenance costs.

Their design also allows them to run at 100% efficiency even after a few years of use without needing replacement. Traditional batteries used by UPS systems degrade over time and lose their capacity to store power safely. With Tesla, you buy it once and never again!

8. Installing a Tesla solar battery can be done in a few hours

With a Tesla approved installer, you can have your solar battery system up and running in as little as a few hours. This quick installation is a tremendous advantage over traditional solar storage systems that could take days to install correctly.

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Tesla’s solar batteries are perfect for home or business owners who want to go off the grid or reduce their reliance on traditional utilities. Thanks to Tesla’s innovation, this is now more affordable than ever before!

9. The payback time for a TESLA solar battery is 2-5 years.

The payback time for a TESLA solar battery will vary depending on the size of your home, the amount of sunlight your location receives, and the current cost of electricity. That said, here’s a general overview of what you can expect:

  • If you live in a sunny location and have a large home, your payback time for a TESLA solar battery could be as few as two years.
  • If you live in a less sunny location or have a smaller home, your payback time could be closer to five years.

Why you should get a Tesla solar battery

Tesla’s solar batteries are the most efficient on the market. The battery has a built-in inverter that converts DC power into AC power to help with electricity needs in areas with high demand or frequent blackouts. It also stores surplus renewable energy during off-peak hours, which can be used during peak hours when prices are higher.

Tesla solar batteries will only become more popular as their efficiency improves. Discover how you can take advantage of solar storage technology in your home or business!

6 Reasons Solar Is Your Best Investment In the Future

It’s no secret that solar power is the future. There are solar panels on rooftops worldwide, and solar panel installation has gone from being a niche energy option to one that many experts predict will be used in most places by 2050.

reasons why solar is your best investment

Why is solar power so popular in Australia?

There are a few reasons why solar power is such a big hit in Australia.

  • For one, the cost of solar panels has come down in recent years, making them more affordable for homeowners and businesses.
  • Additionally, Australia has a lot of sunshine, making it an ideal place for solar energy.
  • And finally, Australians are increasingly interested in renewable energy sources, and solar power is one of the most popular forms of renewable energy.

How can solar power contribute to restoring our natural environment?

Solar power is a renewable energy source that doesn’t pollute the air like burning coal and other fossil fuels. It also reduces our reliance on greenhouse gas-emitting power plants, which helps to mitigate climate change. Solar panels installed on your home or business can help Australia reach its emissions targets set by the Paris Agreement. Other countries like Germany are already touted as renewable energy leaders!

But what does this mean for you? Should you invest in solar panels now or wait until they’re more mainstream?

Here are six reasons why solar is your best investment in the future!

1. Solar energy is a renewable resource that won’t run out

Unlike fossil fuels, solar energy is a renewable resource you can harness indefinitely. As long as the sun continues to shine, you’ll be able to use solar power to generate electricity and heat. The fact that solar power is renewable makes it a more sustainable option than other forms of energy generation.

2. Solar energy is environmentally friendly and doesn’t produce harmful emissions

Did you know? Solar energy accounts for only 0.01% of global greenhouse gas emissions!

Compare this to coal, which accounts for 41% of global greenhouse gas emissions!

Fewer emissions are excellent news for the environment – and there’s even better news for your wallet since solar is becoming increasingly affordable.

3. Solar energy is becoming more and more affordable as technology improves

Yes, there has never been a better time to go solar!

Solar technology is advancing rapidly, and solar panels are becoming more efficient at converting solar energy into electricity. More efficient solar technology means solar will continue to get cheaper as time goes on.

One of the most popular solar technologies available today – thin-film solar – has dropped in price by 50% since 2009!

The cost of solar power installation per watt currently averages between $0.60-$0.70/watt in Australia (depending on where you live). In some areas, it’s even less than this! That’s a fraction of the cost that people paid just a few years ago for solar installations. And there are still significant solar incentive programs run by governments designed to reduce costs further if you choose to install a solar system yourself or through an installer.

4. Solar panels can be installed on most roofs, regardless of their shape or size

Think you can’t install solar panels on your roof? Think again! Solar panels can be installed on most roofs, regardless of their shape or size. This versatility makes solar a viable option for both residential and commercial properties.

Plus, the technology is constantly evolving, with new solar panel designs and materials developed all the time. So even if you’ve already got solar panels installed on your roof, there’s a good chance that you could upgrade to newer, more efficient models and see an increase in your solar energy output!

The future of solar power in Australia is looking brighter than ever – so make sure you get on board now and start enjoying the savings!

5. Installing solar panels can increase your home’s value by up to 20%

Installing solar panels not only saves money on costly electricity but also adds to the value of your home.

When homeowners install solar panels, they can bank on a minimum of 20% increase in the value of their property. That’s because solar panels improve your house’s energy efficiency and curb any concerns potential buyers might have about high electricity bills as well!

energy efficient technologies

So if you’re looking to cash out when it comes time for selling your home – an investment in solar is one that will pay off right away!

Whether you decide to sell or not after purchasing solar power equipment, some people want proof that they’ll be able to save money on monthly utility bills – but how do you know this? One way is by getting quotes from multiple companies; comparing estimates with similar hardware/solar panel brands and sizes (capacity).

6. You can sell excess solar energy back to the grid for a profit

Want to make some extra cash? If you produce more solar energy than you need, you can sell the excess back to your local utility company! This process is called net metering, and it’s a great way to make some extra money each month.

All of these are excellent reasons to consider making the switch to solar power – but remember, not every home is a good candidate for solar. Contact a solar specialist in your area to see if your home is suitable for installation – they’ll be more than happy to help!

Start benefiting from free electricity

If you’re considering the idea of a solar panel installation for your home but are afraid it’s too expensive or that it won’t work in a few years – think again. Solar power is an investment in your future and is affordable for everyone! As experts in solar energy, we have seen firsthand how solar energy can change lives by helping families live more comfortably while reducing their utility bills.

Contact a solar specialist for a free on-site consultation so you can get all of your questions answered before deciding on going green with sustainable solar electricity from the sun.

Do you have a solar panel installation at your home? Have you ever had an issue with having solar panels on your roof? Let us know what you think about solar panels in the comments section below.

Top 5 Reasons Why Your Power Bill is Skyrocketing

Working from home does have its perks, but one huge downside is dealing with energy bills that are higher than usual. However, the fact that you’re spending most of your time at home shouldn’t be a reason to simply accept skyrocketing energy bills. There might be a couple of ways you can still bring those monthly charges down despite your high consumption while working from home.

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Here are the top reasons why power bills spike and what you can do to mitigate the situation.

1. Failure to upgrade appliances

Most new appliances have been equipped with energy-efficient and power-saving features. Old appliances were not required to have these features, which is why ‘vampire charges’ were such a big deal in the past. Once you upgrade to newer appliances, you’ll find that you won’t even have to religiously unplug your devices since they stop consuming substantial electricity once they’re turned off.

Furthermore, old, rickety appliances lose efficiency as they degrade, so they might be consuming more power to do simple, everyday tasks. You might think you’re saving money by sticking to appliances that are decades-old, but you will undoubtedly feel an improvement in your power bills once you make the shift.

2. Overusing ‘big’ appliances

Even with new appliances, frequent usage is still a major problem. This is especially true for power-hogging devices such as your washing machine or dishwasher. The best strategy is to wait until you have enough laundry or dirty dishes to run your machines at full-load or capacity.

This will lessen the frequency with which you run these major power-hugging appliances, therefore reducing your overall power consumption in the long run. If there is an urgent need to free up some clean dishes or clothes, handwashing them is a better alternative than running the washer just for a few items.

3. Late detection of leaky ducts

Poorly sealed or weakly insulated ducts can add thousands of dollars to your yearly power bills. This is because they release hot air into unheated spaces in your home. Make sure you are not spending more than necessary for your home’s heating or cooling systems by maintaining vents and ducts.

Aside from sealing or insulating ducts, you also have to ensure that your airflow is not restricted by furniture and other large objects. Keeping registers clean can also help optimize ducts, therefore helping with the power bills.

4. Higher rates

If you live in an area where electricity markets have been deregulated, like in Connecticut, then know that you have a choice regarding your third party power supplier. Now, unless you’re closely watching spot market news, you might not have noticed that your energy provider has been secretly hiking rates.

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To take better control of your power bills, compare the rates charged by power suppliers in your area, then change electricity providers so that you will get the most value for your money.

5. Not exploring cheaper power sources

If you’re already subscribed to the cheapest energy provider in your area but are still struggling with power bills, then you might want to check alternative power sources like installing solar panels or keeping solar batteries at home.

Now, unless you have an industrial-level solar energy system, it’s highly unlikely that you can cover all your power needs using PV panels, but this would at least reduce your dependence on provider-supplied electricity, thus substantially reducing your power bills.

Wrapping Up

Of course, there are several other tips and tricks that could chip away at your huge power bills like replacing your lights with LED bulbs and setting a timer on your A/C, but if you really want a substantial reduction in what you’re paying for energy, you have to make big changes around the house, such as the ones mentioned and discussed in this article.

As more and more companies mull letting employees work from home permanently, you must be able to do so without forever stressing about those monthly power charges.

5 Energy-Saving Tips for Small Businesses

On average, small and midsize businesses in the United States use 15 kWh of electricity annually, mostly on lighting, heating, and cooling. These make up 19% of total expenses on an average office building. Energy-saving helps small businesses in several ways, including increase in profits, business growth, and reducing environmental impacts by lowering carbon dioxide emissions, boosting customer experience and comfort. Here are the top 5  energy-saving tips for small businesses:

Energy-Saving Tips for Small Businesses

1. Conduct regular energy audits

Energy audits involve the hiring of utility data management services to gather, standardize, validate, and interpret utility bill data to enable you to analyze, benchmark, and find opportunities to improve building performance. The energy audits aim at identifying potential changes that can lower energy consumption.

Business energy audits include gas, water, and electricity tariff reviews, consumption analysis and recommendations, expert energy management advice, and contract management. Businesses may use an energy quoting software to streamline the energy procurement process.

2. Install a smart thermostat

Smart thermostats, also known as programmable thermostats, are electronic devices that offer you high-level control over your HVAC system operation by providing specific features and settings that help you save significant amounts of energy. They automatically turn the heating and cooling system on and off, depending on your temperature settings.

eco friendly business practices

Thermostats have a set point control that turns down your HVAC when not needed and automatically turns it on before work resumes to ensure an ideal indoor temperature. Besides giving you remote control via mobile phones or online, smart thermostats enable better monitoring of energy usage so you can adjust as needed to avoid wastage or overuse.

3. Use lighting controls and sensors

Lighting controls automatically turn lights on and off as needed to save energy. Occupancy sensors turn on lights immediately; they detect occupants in a space and are ideal in areas that people move in and out of unpredictably. You may also consider dimming controls that match lighting levels with user requirements, saving energy. In addition, you can use zero-power wireless sensors that use the scavenging technique to operate without batteries.

Photosensor controls ensure that outdoor lights don’t run during the day, while timer controls can be programmed to turn outdoor and indoor lights at specific times. Using kinetic energy, they create energy that can power electrical devices. This technology is still evolving, and you may not find as many sensors.

4. Reduce your business’s electronic footprint

Electronics can consume a lot of energy in an office setting. Focusing on electronics energy consumption can help lower energy costs. Consider replacing your desktops with laptops as they use less energy. Remember to power down your electronics when not in use and avoid using screen savers.

You may also consider buying energy-efficient office equipment and avoid energy vampires like monitors to save on energy costs.

air contamination at workplace

5. Consider alternative options

Electricity can be expensive. Shop around for alternatives that can best suit your business. You may consider installing solar panels as they are a cheaper energy source compared to electricity. They also come in handy during power outages.

how to use more renewable energy

Alternatively, standby generators are also an efficient power source and are ideal even in extreme weather conditions. They are an efficient long-term energy source that helps lower energy costs.

Endnote

Small businesses are continually looking for ways to save costs to maximize profits and enhance growth. These energy-saving tips will help you cut costs to increase your profit margins.

5 Money-Saving Upgrades To Make Your Home Energy-Efficient

Did you know the average American household spends about $2,000 annually for utilities? What’s more, $200 to $400 is money wasted due to drafts, air leakage, and outdated HVAC systems. That’s a lot of money, right? You can save that money by making energy efficient upgrades to your home.

Let’s take a look at these money-saving upgrades, shall we?

1. Insulation

A very cost effective way to save on energy is by adding more insulation in the attic, or switching out the typical blanket insulation for either cellulose loose-fill insulation or spray foam insulation. The spray foam insulation is the most effective type of insulation for energy efficiency.

home-insulation

With that in mind, installing spray foam insulation requires professional installation and it can range anywhere from $1 to $1.50 per square foot.

2. Energy efficient appliances and HVAC system

Older appliances tend to use a of energy and are nowhere near as energy efficient as newer models. Look for appliances and electronics that are ENERGY STAR approved products. By replacing the refrigerator, washer and dryer and even the ranges, you can save 15% on how much energy your home uses.

The same with heating and cooling. When you upgrade your HVAC system, you can save up to 20% to 50% on your energy bills – providing you make some of the other upgrades on this list.

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3. Programmable thermostat

It seems like everything is a smart device doesn’t it? Smart thermostats are an excellent way to reduce the amount of heating and cooling is used, especially when you’re not home. In the winter, you can decrease the temperature when you’re not at home and increase it to a comfortable temperature about 30 minutes before you get home, and vice versa.

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If you don’t want to go the smart thermostat route, there are programmable thermostats where you can change the settings so the temperature is where it’s set to at the desired time.

4. Eliminating air leaks

One of the biggest culprits of wasted energy is air leakages. A whopping 40% of a home’s heating or cooling is lost due to drafty doors and windows and ill-fitted air ducts. You can prevent this by upgrading your doors and windows to high energy options. Not only are the new doors and windows themselves energy efficient, but the new seals will prevent air leakage. Save your precious time by using an estimating software to find out the cost incurred in home upgrades.

If you cannot afford new windows or doors, you can always use exterior-grade caulking and new weatherstripping to seal up cracks or gaps you may find.

5. Install ceiling fans

Ceiling fans are a great way to add a bit of style to a room, but they can also help circulate the air, regardless of the season. Most fans have a switch that allows you to change the direction the fan moves. In the summer, it should rotate counterclockwise to push the cooler air down, therefore making the air feel cooler than it actually is. In the winter, it should rotate clockwise to pull the cool air upward and push the warm air downward.

Keeping your home’s energy costs as low as possible isn’t just smart as a homeowner, it’s also a good way to increase the value of your home. And, according to HomeLight’s Q2 2020 survey, we are in a seller’s market! 60% of agents who participated in the survey said there were 60% more bidding wars in June 2020 and the market doesn’t seem to be slowing.

That means if you’re looking to sell, these energy efficient upgrades are a great way to pique a buyer’s interest – maybe even more than one!

Palm Kernel Shells: An Attractive Biomass Fuel for Europe

Europe is targeting an ambitious renewable energy program aimed at 20% renewable energy in the energy mix by 2020 with biomass energy being key renewable energy resource across the continent. However, the lack of locally-available biomass resources has hampered the progress of biomass energy industry in Europe as compared with solar and wind energy industries. The European biomass industry is largely dependent on wood pellets and crop residues.

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Europe is the largest producer of wood pellets, which is currently estimated at 13.5 million tons per year while its consumption is 18.8 million tons per year. The biggest wood pellet producing countries in Europe are Germany and Sweden. Europe relies on America and Canada to meet its wood pellet requirements and there is an urgent need to explore alternative biomass resources. In recent years, palm kernel shells (popularly known as PKS) from Southeast Asia and Africa has emerged as an attractive biomass resources which can replace wood pellets in biomass power plants across Europe.

What are Palm Kernel Shells

Palm kernel shells are the shell fractions left after the nut has been removed after crushing in the Palm Oil Mill. Kernel shells are a fibrous material and can be easily handled in bulk directly from the product line to the end use. Large and small shell fractions are mixed with dust-like fractions and small fibres.

Moisture content in kernel shells is low compared to other biomass residues with different sources suggesting values between 11% and 13%. Palm kernel shells contain residues of Palm Oil, which accounts for its slightly higher heating value than average lignocellulosic biomass. Compared to other residues from the industry, it is a good quality biomass fuel with uniform size distribution, easy handling, easy crushing, and limited biological activity due to low moisture content.

Press fibre and shell generated by the palm oil mills are traditionally used as solid fuels for steam boilers. The steam generated is used to run turbines for electricity production. These two solid fuels alone are able to generate more than enough energy to meet the energy demands of a palm oil mill.

Advantages of Palm Kernel Shells

PKS has almost the same combustion characteristics as wood pellets, abundantly available are and are cheap. Indonesia and Malaysia are the two main producers of PKS. Indonesian oil palm plantations cover 12 million hectares in Indonesia and 5 million hectares in Malaysia, the number of PKS produced from both countries has exceeded 15 million tons per year. Infact, the quantity of PKS generated in both countries exceeds the production of wood pellets from the United States and Canada, or the two largest producers of wood pellets today.

Interestingly, United States and Canada cannot produce PKS, because they do not have oil palm plantations, but Indonesia and Malaysia can also produce wood pellets because they have large forests. The production of wood pellets in Indonesia and Malaysia is still small today, which is less than 1 million tons per year, but the production of PKS is much higher which can power biomass power plants across Europe and protect forests which are being cut down to produce wood pellets in North America and other parts of the world.

PKS as a Boiler Fuel

Although most power plants currently use pulverized coal boiler technology which reaches around 50% of the world’s electricity generation, the use of grate combustion boiler technology and fluidized bed boilers is also increasing. Pulverized coal boiler is mainly used for very large capacity plants (> 100 MW), while for ordinary medium capacity uses fluidized bed technology (between 20-100 MW) and for smaller capacity with combustor grate (<20 MW). The advantage of boiler combustion and fluidized bed technology is fuel flexibility including tolerance to particle size.

When the pulverized coal boiler requires a small particle size (1-2 cm) like sawdust so that it can be atomized on the pulverizer nozzle, the combustor grate and fluidized bed the particle size of gravel (max. 8 cm) can be accepted. Based on these conditions, palm kernel shells has a great opportunity to be used as a boiler fuel in large-scale power plants.

Use of PKS in pulverized coal boiler

There are several things that need to be considered for the use of PKS in pulverized coal boilers. The first thing that can be done is to reduce PKS particle size to a maximum of 2 cm so that it can be atomized in a pulverized system. The second thing to note is the percentage of PKS in coal, or the term cofiring. Unlike a grate and a fluidized bed combustion that can be flexible with various types of fuel, pulverized coal boilers use coal only. There are specific things that distinguish biomass and coal fuels, namely ash content and ash chemistry, both of which greatly influence the combustion characteristics in the pulverized system.

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PKS has emerged as an attractive biomass commodity in Japan

Coal ash content is generally greater than biomass, and coal ash chemistry is very different from biomass ash chemistry. Biomass ash has lower inorganic content than coal, but the alkali content in biomass can change the properties of coal ash, especially aluminosilicate ash.

Biomass cofiring with coal in small portions for example 3-5% does not require modification of the pulverized coal power plant. For example, Shinci in Japan with a capacity of 2 x 1,000 MW of supercritical pulverized fuel with 3% cofiring requires 16,000 tons per year of biomass and no modification. Similarly, Korea Southeast Power (KOSEP) 5,000 MW with 5% cofiring requires 600,000 tons per year of biomass without modification.

PKS cofiring in coal-based power plants

Pulverized coal-based power plants are the predominant method of large-scale electricity production worldwide including Europe. If pulverised fuel power plants make a switch to co-firing of biomass fuels, it will make a huge impact on reducing coal usage, reducing carbon emissions and making a transition to renewable energy. Additionally, the cheapest and most effective way for big coal-based power plants to enter renewable energy sector is biomass cofiring. Palm kernel shells can be pyrolyzed to produce charcoal while coal will produce coke if it is pyrolyzed. Charcoal can be used for fuel, briquette production and activated charcoal.

The Costs and Benefits of Solar Panels: 6 Factors to Consider

Solar panels are sliding into mainstream consumerism—and it’s posing a challenge. For instance, when you want to buy a car, there is a surge of first-hand information from friends and family who can walk you through the ins and outs of buying a vehicle.

Putting up solar panels on your roof, on the other hand, doesn’t carry the same level of hype from the people around you. What’s worse, they cost the same as a brand new car. To make matters dicier, the number of homeowners who’ve adapted to solar infrastructure isn’t all that many, too.

That aside, the stakes are high. You are, after all, going to install this on your roof. It’s also an adaptation you can’t easily shrug off as, “I’ll do better the next time if I make a mistake now.” Present figures tell us that solar installations are rising and the costs are becoming more feasible. But how much do we know about the said technology and are we personally ready to switch to natural energy?

Here are a few tips to research your solar panels:

Have you tried working on energy efficiency before turning to solar panels?

The whole point of using solar panels is for you to be able to store and conserve natural energy. But apart from that, have you started doing the little things to help better your energy consumption, like turning off the lights when they’re not in use or unplug the television cord when you’re not watching?

The extent of solar energy you need to come up with equates to how much you need. That said, it’s wiser for you to begin consuming your energy much more efficiently before turning to solar panels. You can begin by looking at efficiency upgrades starting with an energy audit before whipping up a blueprint.

Is your roof sturdy enough for solar panels?

This can make or break your solar panel situation. Additionally, if, for most of the day, your roof is covered in shade, then having to splurge a hefty amount for solar panels might not be worth it. You should consider that condition before marching onward.

Also, how sturdy is your roof? Even the lightest panels can be heavy for a decaying house covering. Make sure your roof is in structurally good shape. The usual warranty for solar installations can last up to 25 years and if your roof will need renovation in the next couple of months, you might want to rethink your strategy. Having it renovated first is often the smartest route versus putting up these panels straight away.

Moving forward, another factor is ownership. Many times, house dwellers can’t call the shots because they simply rent the place such a vacation rental property with solar energy system. A good solution to this is resorting to a community solar. This alternative lets more clients buy a stake in these installations and receive electricity bill credits.

Do you trust your installer?

Advertising comes easy nowadays. Don’t trust the first solar installer who hands you a flyer or presents you an ad. You have to remember that solar projects are a combination of electrical work and home improvement. References, credentials, and certifications are important. For instance, do they have accreditation under the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP)? It goes without saying that you wouldn’t hire an electrician to come to your home and shake things around when they don’t have sufficient experience. Consider an expert’s number of years in the industry.

It also comes as no surprise that these installations call for big checks. Shop around for installers and get as many quotes to know how much do solar panels cost for house. This can be challenging, but try looking for a company that will be available for you throughout your installation. While solar cells are stationary, you’re going to want to work with an installer who will emphatically extend their services even after your warranty period is over.

Which solar-type should you go for?

There are two prevailing solar sciences: the first one is solar photovoltaic energy. This technology produces electricity sourced from sunlight. Thermal, the second one makes use of sunlight to heat air or water for your everyday needs. At the end of the day, your context and living conditions help determine what you need the most. Despite that, those who use solar thermal are rare and qualified installers for this aren’t that many.

Buy or lease?

Before diving right into the world of solar panel usage, run a cost-benefit analysis. Is buying your own solar infrastructure the wisest decision you can make? Purchasing your costs more in the beginning, but you’ll have more evident benefits in the long run. On the other hand, renting grants you access to more affordable electricity bills. On top of that, you spend little to no money upfront in this arrangement. The tradeoff, however, is that there are limited monetary benefits for you.

When you rent your system, the company who you ink a deal with owns the infrastructure and you only shell out a certain fee for the electricity. When your rental period is over, they can either take the solar infrastructure back or sell it to you. But if you own your infrastructure, you can reap its advantages long after you’ve bought it. To snag a better deal, weight the lifecycle cost of both arrangements to see where you benefit the most. Factor in how much you earn at present and how much you see yourself earning in the near future. You have to put in a lot of research before you make a decision.

What should your contract contain?

As with any other contract, your welfare should be upheld as these last for long periods. The deal you ink should break down ownership, financing, and performance expectations. You should also factor in data-collecting technology if your infrastructure contains web-enabled devices. Determine who has access to it, if this applies. When there are things or contract segments you’re unsure of, it’s best to consult a legal advisor.

After everything’s been said and done, you’re not only cutting back on costs, you’re also contributing to a healthier planet.