What is the True Cost of Sustainable Living in the US?

Protecting the environment is something most Americans are passionate about. In fact, a recent study found that over 65 percent of Americans would be willing to make drastic changes to protect the Earth. For years, people have searched for a way to live a more sustainable life.

While this can be beneficial, sustainable living is not cheap. Getting all of the different eco-friendly systems in place can be quite expensive. Properly preparing for your path to a sustainable life can help you avoid biting off more than you can chew financially.

Planting more trees and vegetation will go a long way in reducing heat in urban settings.

The following are some of the things you need to know about the true cost of sustainable living.

A Sustainable Lifestyle Starts With Rethinking Your Power Supply

Most homeowners spend about 55 percent of their utility bills on electricity. Lowering these costs can be easy when using a website like Texaselectricityplans.com, but in order to make your power supply sustainable, you will have to make some changes.

Using solar power can be cost-effective over time, but initially, it will be a bit expensive. Getting a 24-volt solar power system with a backup generator will cost you around $40,000. As this technology is perfected and mass-produced, these initial costs will continue to decline.

Using the Power of Wind Turbines

Another popular power option for people who are trying to live a sustainable existence is wind turbines. While you can’t use this technology solely to power your home, they can be used as a backup to the solar system you have in place.

These systems are great to have, but they can be pricey. The typical wind turbine system will be around $11,000. If you are going to go completely solar-powered, you definitely need to consider including this backup to ensure your lights and appliances stay powered.

Revamping Your Water and Septic Solutions

Once you have your power problems figured out, finding a better way to get water and dispose of waste should be at the top of your list. If you are looking for a way to reduce your dependence on water treatment facilities for drinking water, then utilizing the power of a well is a good idea. Studies show that nearly 15 percent of Americans are using wells for their home drinking water.

If you are using your city’s sewer system to dispose of waste, you need to think about getting a standalone septic tank installed. Getting a well and a septic tank installed will cost around $13,000. There are greywater systems on the market, as well as waterless composting toilets. These systems take some getting used to but are a great eco-friendly waste disposal option.

Establishing an Independent Heating Source

Staying warm in the winter is something everyone views as a priority. Traditional HVAC systems use a lot of energy, which is why you need to establish an independent heating source if you want to live sustainably. One of the best ways to do this is by using wood-burning stoves or propane heaters.

Since wood is a renewable source of energy, you can use it as much as you want in your sustainable life. Buying a wood stove and lumber to keep it going will cost you around $4,000. This is a good deal when you figure out how much you pay in electricity costs during the winter and how much of a strain this puts on the environment.

Creating a Sustainable Lifestyle Takes Time

The journey to a sustainable life will not be easy. The amount of hard work and effort you put into converting your home into an eco-friendly paradise will be well worth it in the long run.

4 Tips For Keeping Your Home Energy Prices Low

Heating can be very expensive nowadays and keeping the heat contained within your home can be a challenge. You will see that energy prices manage to hike year after year and it is important to keep the heat contained in a home where there is particularly cold weather outside to assist with your overall energy costs.

Ensure efficient heating system

Modern houses normally have a good heating system and there is a lot of regulation around this to ensure that when people are buying new homes, the efficiency has been taken into consideration from the manufacturers. There are websites like myjobquote.co.uk that you can use in order to arrange local boiler engineers to come out and review your current heating systems to ensure they are effective.  They would also offer services such as a boiler power flush if it is required – again supporting the effectiveness of your appliance.

If your boiler or radiators are not working greatly then a boiler service cost quote may be required in order to make sure they get repaired and are working as well as possible. If any of your heating equipment is faulty and not working correctly then you will overcompensate in terms of the heating you put on in the home which would then significantly increase your costs.

Take action on drafts

If there are any potential drafts and air seeping out of the home, then it will affect the warmth of your home and ultimately your energy bill.  Be sure to take action when you recognise any of these problems.

Some common draft points will be doors and windows and are usually pretty noticeable if there is a problem. Nowadays most homes have double glazed windows and secured doors where this shouldn’t be an issue. If your house has a chimney, then this is another potential area for cold air to get in. If not in use you may wish to consider sealing this off in totality.

Set timers for heating

Putting the heating on and off all the time could also be affecting your bills. Consider getting a timer where you can control the heating at intervals that suit you. Clearly, this wouldn’t be suitable all the time and if you are in the home and there is additional heat required then you can “boost” to allow more heat to come out for longer.

Setting the timers will assist with being disciplined on a routine and you can know pretty accurately what it is that you will be spending every month.

Energy monitors

Energy monitors are becoming really popular nowadays with the users able to then see immediately how much energy they are consuming.  Most energy providers now give this service where you can get one of these appliances installed (generally for free or a very little cost).

The government is also doing a lot more to try and encourage every household to have one of these to help with the energy cost hike challenges.

Biomethane – The Green Gas

Biomethane, also known as the green gas, is a well-known and well-proven source of clean energy, and is witnessing increasing demand worldwide, especially in European countries, as it is one of the most cost-effective and eco-friendly replacement for natural gas and diesel.

Advantages of Biomethane

The key advantage of biomethane is that it is less corrosive than biogas which makes it more flexible in its application than raw biogas. It can be injected directly into the existing natural gas grid leading to energy-efficient and cost-effective transport, besides allowing natural gas grid operators to persuade consumers to make a smooth transition to a renewable source of natural gas.

Biogas can be upgraded to biomethane and injected into the natural gas grid to substitute natural gas or can be compressed and fuelled via a pumping station at the place of production. Biomethane can be injected and distributed through the natural gas grid, after it has been compressed to the pipeline pressure.

The injected biomethane can be used at any ratio with natural gas as vehicle fuel. In many EU countries, the access to the gas grid is guaranteed for all biogas suppliers.

A major advantage of using natural gas grid for biomethane distribution is that the grid connects the production site of biomethane, which is usually in rural areas, with more densely populated areas. This enables biogas to reach new customers.

Storage of Biomethane

Biomethane can be converted either into liquefied biomethane (LBM) or compressed biomethane (CBM) in order to facilitate its long-term storage and transportation. LBM can be transported relatively easily and can be dispensed through LNG vehicles or CNG vehicles. Liquid biomethane is transported in the same manner as LNG, that is, via insulated tanker trucks designed for transportation of cryogenic liquids.

Biomethane can be stored as CBM to save space. The gas is stored in steel cylinders such as those typically used for storage of other commercial gases.

Applications of Biomethane

Biomethane can be used to generate electricity and heating from within smaller decentralized, or large centrally-located combined heat and power plants. It can be used by heating systems with a highly efficient fuel value, and employed as a regenerative power source in gas-powered vehicles.

Biomethane, as a transportation fuel, is most suitable for vehicles having engines that are based on natural gas (CNG or LNG). Once biogas is cleaned and upgraded to biomethane, it is virtually the same as natural gas.

Because biomethane has a lower energy density than NG, due to the high CO2 content, in some circumstances, changes to natural gas-based vehicle’s fuel injection system are required to use the biomethane effectively.

Saving Energy and Money With Effective Heating and Air Conditioning

Did you know that heating and air conditioning can make up for half of your total energy bill? That’s a lot of money and a lot of energy use. If your heating and air aren’t working properly they can’t effectively use that energy and that costs you money and sends more greenhouse gases into the environment. Below we will list a few ways you can keep your energy bill low and your heating and air systems running smoothly and efficiently.

Limit Use

Use the seasons to your advantage and limit your use of heating and AC. Close your blinds in the summer to keep the sun from working against your air conditioning and open the curtains in the winter time to have the sun help your heating.

Consider if your thermostat has a feature that can be set on a timer so you can limit the use of your heating and air conditioner when no one is in the house or at night. These seem like simple things but they can reduce your costs significantly when done regularly.

Regular Maintenance

Don’t forget to do regular maintenance to ensure your HVAC system is working efficiently. Simple things like changing you air filters can make a huge impact on how well your heating and air conditioning runs. Have a professional come at least once a year to check for any problems you may miss and ensure everything is OK.

hvac-repair

Your contractor should measure the voltage of your motors and tighten electrical connections. They should also check for drainage that may cause water damage to your home. These regular check ups also ensure your systems are running properly and safely.

Sealing Ducts and Leaks

Ducts are responsible for distributing the air around your home. However, about 20 percent of air is lost through leaks and poorly connected ducts. This means you’ll be pumping up the AC to no affect and losing money in the process.

Sealing leaks that are visible in the attack, crawl space, or basement of your home is as easy as buying a sealant or tape meant for insulating your ducts. Check for and seal any visible leaks or poor connections. If you prefer to stay away from dirty attics or crawl spaces a contractor can easily do this for you as well.

Insulation

Insulating your home can save you up to 10 percent on your annual energy bill and make your home comfortable all year long. The attic is an ideal place to add insulation to your home and when done correctly can save the most money and energy. Also consider your windows and doors.

Heating and cooling can easily escape through old doors and windows making your system inefficient. Have a contractor look at these places in your home and see if they can help insulate your home so it can run comfortably.

These are just a few examples of ways you can make your home more energy efficient thus saving your wallet and giving a little help to the environment. Find a contractor like Empire HVAC that can look at your home and determine the best route for your house. Different systems have different needs and a professional can tell you everything your house needs to keep you comfortable, regardless of weather  conditions.

Creating a Sustainable and Energy-Efficient Home on a Budget

In the US, the typical home and family spend an average minimum of $2,200 on energy costs per year, according to the US Department of Energy. Understandably, homeowners are aiming to cut costs and seeking to save oodles of money down the road. With that being the case, it isn’t surprising to find that more and more people are turning to smart home technology. What about those that can’t exactly afford all the tech-led bells and whistles, however?

Think Long-Term Package

Instead of looking at the things to put in a home, it’s smart to consider the entirety of the home itself—from conceptual plans to layouts and building materials. Planning and choosing a home that is affordable and fashioned to be conducive to a sustainable and energy-efficient build will save you thousands of dollars in the future.

For example, you can try living in a mobile home. Lenders and lending institutions like mobile and manufactured homes so you won’t have trouble securing a loan. These types of homes come in a wide gamut of sustainable materials to choose from like recycled steel. So it provides a good marriage between budgets and sustainability.

Enforcing Helpful Practices

Beyond having a home that’s built to be conducive for sustainability and energy-efficiency, you need to take a long hard look at the habits of the people in the home. When you’re on a budget, fancy things like smart thermostats can be a tad out of reach. So what can you do? You can try enforcing helpful practices.

For example, lowering the water heating temperature can lower your energy consumption by 22% annually. Other good practices are sealing any air leaks so you can avoid any excessive use of heating. Not only will these help you save money but they’ll help keep everyone on the same page when it comes to being energy-efficient.

Seek Sustainable Technology

All the savings you get from a well-built home and sustainable practices will eventually give you more options. Sustainable technology can help boost your home’s energy efficiency. While tech like solar panels can be expensive, it is always worth noting that there are Federal Tax Credit plans that allow homeowners to claim at least 30% of installation costs, according to NerdWallet. Other good options are biogas digesters and active recycling posts on the property.

When it comes to creating a sustainable and energy-efficient home, there are always a lot of options to choose from. It is all a matter of doing the right research to find which solutions help you best with the budget that you presently have. Always remember that whatever you spend now toward sustainability will eventually mean triple in savings and more down the line.

NatHERS – A Tool To Maximize Sustainability of Your Future Home

Short for the Nationwide House Energy Rating Scheme, NatHERS uses a 10-star rating system which is able to easily access the thermal performance of buildings within Australia. Though a NatHERS certification is required for all new developments with multiple dwellings, it is essential for all residents to obtain an assessment to be able to easily evaluate the thermal assessment of their development.

At Certified Energy, our years of experience distinguishes us from our competitors. We work with each client separately, to ensure that each individual project thrives in terms of cost, efficiency and the preservation of design concepts.

We strive to minimize your costs whilst maximizing the sustainability of your future home.

Why is NatHERS assessment required?

NatHERS as outlined above is the Nationwide House Energy Rating Scheme which is able to evaluate the thermal performance of any dwelling. Though this may seem irrelevant and unnecessary when outlining the overall performance of the building, it is a necessity to get a NatHERS assessment in order to ensure a sustainable future for our environment.

Not only this, but NatHERS is essential when obtaining a BASIX assessment. BASIX is a NSW Government initiative striving to improve the environmental sustainability. It comprises of three factors: water, thermal and energy. The thermal component of BASIX can be easily completed through a NatHERS assessment with its thorough, accurate and flexible approach to addressing thermal performance.

Thus, a NatHERS assessment is required not only to contribute towards a sustainable future for the environment but also as a necessity under the BASIX initiative led by the NSW Government.

What does a NatHERS assessment include?

A NatHERS assessment can be obtained by a specialised company that has NatHERS Accredited Software which can be used to determine the thermal efficiency of your home. Within the assessment, each resident will be provided a copy of the key design features and the building materials and the scope used to generate the dwelling’s star rating.

The star rating, also known as the Energy or Thermal Efficiency star rating, is an accurate indicator of the level of heating or cooling your building requires to not only make you feel comfortable, but to ensure that it doesn’t have a detrimental impact on the environment. By following the recommendations and guidelines that will be included in your report, you will also be on the path of having lower energy expenses, by using the appropriate amount of electricity.

How does Certified Energy do it differently?

At Certified Energy, there are two main certification solutions that will help you achieve the lowest cost with the highest efficiency rating. These include the essential solutions (House Energy Rating Scheme, Elemental Provision) or alternative solutions (Verification Using a Reference Building and State Specific Energy Protocols).

In order to give you the best catered advice as per your personal needs, Certified Energy will guide you through the various approval pathways that will help your project achieve energy efficiency and environmental sustainability.

Environmental Considerations When Using Drum Heaters

For people in the colder parts of the world, temperatures can become an issue. Sometimes, you might need to keep your liquids, water or fuel at the normal room temperature. The main use of drum heaters is that they work as storages that keep their content at a certain temperature.

Barrel heaters are especially needed if their content loses its nature and benefits due to a drop or a rise in the temperature. It is a cheap solution for maintaining high energy without paying for its cost, in addition you are reducing the pollution since the energy is being recycled within the system. So, what do you need to consider when you are using drum heaters? That is what we are going to tackle.

Harsh weather

Harsh environmental conditions, especially the low temperature of the cold months, might push the need to use a heater for your drums to avoid causing them any damages to keep them in ultimate condition. Buying good drum heater jackets will keep you away from breaking the bank just to save your desired content. They don’t only keep your drums at the required temperature, they also save and lower the viscosity of the fluids so you wouldn’t need to replace them as often and more importantly, they protect them from freezing in harsh cold environment conditions.

Energy saving

Electrical insulated heating jackets offer more protection from cold or freezing due to the extra layer of insulation they have. With heat loss kept at minimum, the heating jackets offer more energy saving options which make their power consumption drop automatically, this also translates to cost of operation drop. What’s even more positive about these jackets is that they are normally designed to cover the whole containers, thus you are more likely to be saved from any energy loss.

Using some types of barrel heaters that do not cover the whole drum might waste energy as they naturally get hot. Due to thermodynamics basics, the heat will start dissipating from the higher-temperature surface to the cold atmosphere. That is why when using the right type of heater for your needs, make sure that it will cover the whole container you have so you don’t waste any energy.

Saving space = saving energy

An extra step to save money and time is to place your drums in a closed space. Open spaces make it harder to maintain your drums at desired temperatures. Putting your drums and barrels in an enclosed space will ensure that no energy is wasted to the atmosphere and manage heat escape.

Choose the one that works best for you

When you are first buying the heater, it is always a good step to buy one that is flexible. Drum heaters are really simple on the design side, however, using one that does not fit may create more of a problem than it solves. Buying a good drum heater that is adjustable or can fit any type of container you have, is always a smart idea to save you from the headache and wasting your money.

Global Trends in the Biomass Sector

There has been a flurry of activity in the biomass energy and waste-to-energy sector in recent year, with many new projects and initiatives being given the green light across the globe. This movement has been on both a regional and local level; thanks to the increased efficiency of green energy generators and a slight lowering in implementation costs, more businesses and even some homeowners are converting waste-to-energy systems or by installing biomass energy units.

Latest from the United Kingdom

Our first notable example of this comes from Cornwall in the UK. As of this week, a small hotel has entirely replaced its previous oil-based heating system with biomass boilers. Fuelled from wood wastes brought in from a neighboring forest, the BudockVean hotel has so far been successful in keeping the entire establishment warm on two small boilers despite it being the height of British winter – and when warmer weather arrives, plans to install solar panels on the building’s roof is to follow.

Similar projects have been undertaken across small businesses in Britain, including the south-coast city of Plymouth that has just been announced to house a 10MW biomass power plant (alongside a 20MW plant already in construction). These developments arein part thanks to the UK government’s Renewable Heat Incentive which was launched back in 2011. The scheme only provides funding to non-domestic properties currently, but a domestic scheme is in the works this year to help homeowners also move away from fossil fuels.

Initiatives (and Setbacks) in the US

Back across the pond, and the state of New York is also launching a similar scheme. The short-term plan is to increase public education on low-emission heating and persuade a number of large business to make the switch; in the longer term, $800m will be used to install advanced biomass systems in large, state-owned buildings.

A further $40m will be used as part of a competition to help create a series of standalone energy grids in small towns and rural areas, which is a scheme that could hopefully see adopted beyond New York if all goes well.


Unfortunately, the move away from fossil fuels hasn’t been totally plain sailing across the US. Georgia suffered a blow this week as plans to convert a 155MW coal plant to biomass have been abandoned, citing large overheads and low projected returns. The company behind the project have met similar difficulties at other sites, but as of this week are moving ahead with further plans to convert over 2000MW of oil and coal energy generation in the coming years.

Elsewhere in the US, a company has conducted a similar study as to whether biomass plant building will be feasible in both Florida and Louisiana. Surveying has only just been completed, but if things go better than the recent developments in Georgia, the plants will go a long way to converting biomass to fertilizer for widespread use in agriculture in both states.

Far East Leading the Way

One country that is performing particularly well in biomass energy investment market is Japan. Biomass is being increasingly used in power plants in Japan as a source of fuel, particularly after the tragic accident at Fukushima nuclear power plant in 2011.  Palm kernel shell (PKS) has emerged as a favorite choice of biomass-based power plants in the country. Most of these biomass power plants use PKS as their energy source, and only a few operate with wood pellets. Interestingly, most of the biomass power plants in Japan have been built after 2015..

On the contrary, the US and Europe saw a fairly big fall in financing during this period; it should be noted, however, that this relates to the green energy investment market as a whole as opposed to biomass-specific funding. The increase seen in Japan has been attributed to an uptake in solar paneling, and if we look specifically to things such as the global demand for biomass pellets, we see that the most recent figures paint the overall market in a much more favorable light for the rest of the world.

Brighter Times Ahead

All in all, it’s an exciting time for the biomass industry despite the set backs which are being experienced in some regions.  On the whole, legislators and businesses are working remarkably well together in order to pave the way forward – being a fairly new market (from a commercially viable sense at least), it has taken a little while to get the ball rolling, but expect to see it blossom quickly now that the idea of biomass is starting to take hold.