Corn plastic, otherwise known as polylactic acid (PLA), is rapidly replacing traditional petroleum based plastics for food containers, utensils, disposable cups and more, but how do you dispose of it? It is common to find a recycle symbol printed or molded into the container, and many also promote that the item is compostable or biodegradable. So what is the most eco-friendly way to dispose of this new generation bio plastic? The answer may depend on which does less harm and very well could be the trash can.
Composting Bio Plastic
There are few facilities equipped to fully compost PLA down to carbon and water. The process to breakdown PLA cups is approximately 30–45 days in a commercial compost facility with a sustained temperature of 140 degrees for 10 days. Most people have had mixed results with backyard composters, some taking months, others even years, much related to sustained heat. › Continue reading
A typical 3kWp (kilo Watt-peak) solar system, which produces about 2 500 kWh of electricity annually, or the equivalent of two thirds of a typical American household`s consumption, will end up around $15 000. There is no doubt that purchasing solar panels turn off a lot of homeowners because of the high upfront costs and home insurance. In the last couple of years things have changed the situation for the better – Smart and creative financing models have been put in place to make solar power more affordable for Average Joe.
According to PV Solar Report, more than three out of four Californians prefer third-party-owned solar, which also happens to be the market share as of February 2012:
The same trend can be seen across the rest of the country as well – and it keeps growing. What are the different third-party-owned financing models that are available? › Continue reading
Looking for ways to save some money? Energy conservation is a great way to reduce your energy costs and save money (and the environment). Here are 5 easy do-it-yourself (DIY) energy saving tips you may not have thought of.
Insulation and Leaks –
A huge way to reduce your heating and cooling bills is to reduce the air flowing out and in to your home. Grab a tube of silicone caulk and and seal cracks around windows, beneath doors, around fittings (check wall switch & outlet plates). Once your windows and doors have been sealed, insulate! The attic and outside walls are obvious and bang-for-buck insulation targets, but windows and doors can really make a difference too. Double and triple paned windows will make a huge difference, but so can just installing and drawing a heavy curtain in the winter or closing reflective blinds in the summer.
Water Heater Blanket –
These insulating blankets can lower your water heating bills by keeping the heat in. Don’t forget to add pipe insulation over the hot water pipes leading from the tank too for an extra boost.
Already have a water heater cozy? Really cut your energy costs by turning down the heat. Don’t heat your water to 160 degrees if you only need it at 120 degrees! You will see significant changes in your heating bills for each little turn, or just go all out and upgrade to a tankless water heater. For maximum effect, turn down your home programmable thermostat in the winter and up in the summer.
I am sure everyone has been frustrated with water saving shower heads at one time or another. You know, the ones you struggle just to get wet under, or just feel like a mist, leaving you longing for the full stream water wasters that your drain couldn’t keep up with. Luckily those days are over and good engineering has resulted in some great water saving shower heads that feel like a downpour.
Now to those who are still using traditional shower heads, you are really leaving a lot of money on the table for a very minimal experience difference. We aren’t just talking about the cost of wasting water, the real expense can also come from the cost of heating all that extra water. Just replacing one shower head can save you more than $70 per year in water and heating costs alone!
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Almost everyone will want to have cheaper electricity which provides both an endless supply and is also good for the environment. A great way of achieving this is by purchasing and installing solar panels on your home; a great step towards reducing your carbon footprint.
Purchasing solar panels has become more and more popular within cities, villages and the suburbs alike; but there is still a vast majority of people reluctant to install their own, namely because they are not sure how installing solar panels may affect their insurance policy.
The largest misconception is that installing solar panels will increase the premium of a home insurance policy. Shopping around and comparing quotes will show that in most cases there will be no change to the cost of the policy and some insurance companies might even offer lower rates.
It is really important to have the solar panels installed properly, since shady construction work and installations might affect your right to make a claim. Always use a certified installer and a certified solar panel dealer. › Continue reading
Ask many people why they haven’t currently got solar panels and they’ll tell you that they’re waiting
for solar to become “affordable”, but without ever having researched it. Particularly over the last
12 months, the price of solar has come crashing down, and with many government incentives at
particularly high levels, now is a great time to think seriously about the investment.
Across the Pond, in the UK, it has just been announced that subsidies will have to be cut following
a 30% drop in the price of installed solar panels from April 2010 to December 2011. This change is
due to increasing competition in the number of solar installation companies, as well as increasing
competition among the manufacturers themselves.
The USA has a federal grant available of 30% of the installation costs. There are also extensive local
subsidies available. The hottest states for earning money with solar, at the moment, are California, New
Jersey and Pennsylvania, although it is worth a look at the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency to help find out what’s available where you live. Generally, solar panels should pay themselves off in about 10 years. › Continue reading
Please excuse the sensationalist title, but it was just too good to pass up, and oddly true at the same time. Research into the links between the increase in weight and the warming temperature of our homes has resulted in some startling news- Warmer homes contribute to weight gain.
Now before you turn your house into a meat locker, you ought to know that small changes can have an effect. Just turning down the thermostat a few degrees can not only boost your energy savings, but also help shed ‘brown fat’, which lingers around the necks of adults.
The research focused around 1500 adults and found that over a six year period, those who kept their home temperature warmer (in the top third of the group), were twice as likely to become obese. To think that for every degree (F) you lower your thermostat below 68, you will save 3-5% off your heating costs. › Continue reading
Ever taken a good look at your heating or cooling bill and wanted to do something about it? Well, even if you have and bought a smart programmable thermostat, you may be spending more than without one.
A recent study by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory found that “as many as 50 percent of residential programmable thermostats are in permanent ‘hold’ status.” Even the the governments Energy Star program removed their endorsement from all programmable thermostats primary because people don’t have the time or patience to program them properly, and the thermostat controls half of the homes energy bill. That is a lot of power for a device that effectively works no better than your sprinkler system.
Enter the NEST Learning Thermostat, the brain child of Tony Fadell, the iPod hardware designer and former iPod and iPhone division VP for Apple, after trying to decide on a thermostat for his new green home in Tahoe. A complete departure from anything you find on the market today, it is an iPod in a world of cassette walk-mans. › Continue reading
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