energy costs http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/12049/all en-US How Long Does It Take to Break Even With Solar Panels? http://www.wisebread.com/how-long-does-it-take-to-break-even-with-solar-panels <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-long-does-it-take-to-break-even-with-solar-panels" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/aerial_view_of_house_with_solar_panels.jpg" alt="Aerial view of house with solar panels" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Solar power has advanced leaps and bounds over the past couple decades, and those grid panels that harness the power of the sun and turn it into energy are everywhere. It's not uncommon to find at least one house in your neighborhood that has panels covering every square inch of its roof.</p> <p>You may have also been approached by a solar company rep about outfitting your home with panels. (These guys and gals are almost as ubiquitous as the product they're selling.) And maybe you don't understand the mechanics of solar home power &mdash; or its benefit to your wallet &mdash; which may make you hesitant to explore the option.</p> <p>Well, you're not alone. Those of us who haven't adopted solar energy yet still have a lot of questions &mdash; namely, what's this going to cost? And when will I break even?</p> <h2>The cost of solar panels</h2> <p>First, let's get down to the nitty-gritty of just how much solar panels will set you back. It's not cheap to save the planet, even though the sun has been free of charge for billions of years.</p> <p>The easiest way to calculate the average cost of solar panels, according to New England-based solar marketing company EnergySage, is to look at its price in dollars per watt, and those numbers are fairly consistent across the country.</p> <p>This year, &quot;most homeowners are <a href="http://news.energysage.com/how-much-does-the-average-solar-panel-installation-cost-in-the-u-s/" target="_blank">paying between $2.87 and $3.85 per watt</a> to install solar, and the average gross cost of solar panels before tax credits is $16,800,&quot; says EnergySage's data. Figure in tax credits and the price comes down to $10,000 to $13,500, based on the average 5kW (5,000 watts) system that's typically installed in the United States. EnergySage also says these numbers are about 9 percent lower than last year, but recommends comparing prices quoted to other homeowners in your area.</p> <p>Now that we know how much the system will set us back, the next reasonable question is how long will it take to break even. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-ways-anyone-can-go-solar-and-save-on-energy?ref=seealso" target="_blank">10 Ways Anyone Can Go Solar and Save on Energy</a>)</p> <h2>When you'll break even</h2> <p>Sarah Hancock is a digital marketing strategist who manages the solar coverage at BestCompany.com, an online review site that ranks companies in different industries. She says the amount of time it takes to break even depends on three main factors.</p> <h3>1. Current utility price</h3> <p>The higher the current electricity price is in your area, the more money you will save by going solar, which results in a faster break even time, Hancock says.</p> <p>&quot;For example, an individual who lives in California, where the price of electricity currently sits at about 17 cents per kilowatt-hour, will break even quicker than an individual who lives in Washington, where the electricity price is only 9 cents per kilowatt-hour, because the Californian will be saving more on his electricity bill each month,&quot; Hancock says.</p> <h3>2. Available incentives</h3> <p>These vary from state to state. There are a number of different incentives to take into consideration, including tax credits, rebates, performance payments, and tax exemptions. The more incentives available to you, the quicker your break-even time will be.</p> <p>&quot;One of those incentives is the 30 percent federal tax credit,&quot; says Andy Schell, marketing manager at Paradise Energy Solutions. &quot;This credit allows solar owners to recoup 30 percent of the project's cost. If you aren't able to recoup all 30 percent in year one, the remaining amount can be carried forward for 20 years until the full credit is expended. In addition, USDA grants and accelerated depreciation schedules are available for qualifying businesses and farms.&quot;</p> <p>This is a good resource to find <a href="https://bestcompany.com/solar/state/" target="_blank">solar-energy incentives available</a> in your state.</p> <h3>3. Method of payment</h3> <p>According to Hancock, you can purchase the panels outright, or get them on loan, lease, or PPA (power purchase agreement &mdash; which is a financial agreement that allows a developer to arrange the design, permits, financing, and installation of a solar energy system, and lasts anywhere from 10 to 25 years).</p> <p>However, there are fewer studies supporting the increased home value when you upgrade your home through a PPA or a lease. The reason is simple: With an upfront purchase or loan, the new buyer will not have to pay for any of the electricity produced by the panels because you would have already paid for it. With a PPA, the new buyer will still pay for electricity, simply at a lower rate than what other neighbors will pay to the utility company. Those agreements are easily transferable and can also be bought out by either seller or buyer if necessary.</p> <p>The payment method that will result in the quickest break-even time varies from state to state depending on the two other factors mentioned above &mdash; utility price and available incentives. If you live in a state with high electricity prices and several incentives, you will probably break even quicker with a loan because your energy savings will be higher than your loan payment. However, if you live in a state with low electricity prices and few incentives, you'll most likely break even faster with an outright purchase.</p> <p>&quot;To provide a general range,&quot; Hancock says, &quot;most individuals who go solar will break even in 15 to 25 years.&quot;</p> <h2>Leasing versus buying a solar system outright</h2> <p>&quot;We guide homeowners with what we've seen is the question that is most likely to help them decide what route to take: How much is your tax liability?&quot; says Julio Daniel Hernandez, a representative of renewable energy company EnLight.Energy.</p> <p>If your tax liability is big enough right now to able to take full advantage of the Federal and possible state tax incentives, he says, then you should take advantage of the available loans and tax credits. If you don't have the tax liability, then a PPA/Lease makes more sense. You'll get access to all of the energy your solar system can provide at a cheaper rate than your utility company (usually around 20% savings) and will not ever have to pay a dime out of pocket.</p> <p>As far as break-even calculations cost go, Hernandez's estimate is much more liberal than Hancock's.</p> <p>&quot;Break-even with a PPA/lease is zero because you don't pay anything; you just start saving right away similar to a third party electric company in a deregulated market,&quot; he says. &quot;If you buy a system, depending on the incentives available to you, break-even point should be around eight years or less.&quot;</p> <h2>How incentives and pricing have evolved</h2> <p>As an early adopter of solar power a decade ago, you would have made out like a bandit with incentives, but that's not the case now that so many people are switching over to the energy solution. But as with all technology, the longer it's been around, the cheaper it becomes on the front end.</p> <p>&quot;Unfortunately, there are fewer incentives available now than there were 10 years ago due to the increased popularity of solar power,&quot; explains Hancock. &quot;However, the good news is that the price of solar panels has dropped by more than 60 percent over the past 10 years. So, while fewer federal and state solar incentives are up for grabs, solar power is still more affordable than ever for consumers.&quot;</p> <h2>Is it a good investment?</h2> <p>In most states, solar power is a solid investment that will result in a significant return over the next 20 to 30 years.</p> <p>&quot;For example, an individual in California who purchases a solar system outright can probably expect to see a return between $30,000 and $40,000 over the next 25 years, while an individual in Washington could expect a return of about $10,000 for the same scenario,&quot; Hancock says.</p> <p>Although the dollar-for-dollar return isn't as high for the Washingtonian as it is for the Californian, both individuals are still saving money with solar power.</p> <p>Says Hernandez, &quot;Your home value is estimated to go up $15,000-plus by upgrading to solar energy. Some of this depends on the size of the system, but studies are showing that the bulk of the increase comes from simply putting panels on and then there's only a slight additional shift upward based on how big the system is.&quot;</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/mikey-rox">Mikey Rox</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-long-does-it-take-to-break-even-with-solar-panels">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-ways-anyone-can-go-solar-and-save-on-energy">10 Ways Anyone Can Go Solar and Save on Energy</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/23-effortless-ways-to-go-green-and-save-money-too">23 Effortless Ways to Go Green (and Save Money, Too)</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-solar-powered-outdoor-security-lights">The 5 Best Solar-Powered Outdoor Security Lights</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/cut-your-electric-bill-with-solar-panels">Cut Your Electric Bill With Solar Panels</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/where-to-take-your-batteries-cfl-bulbs-and-other-hard-to-recycle-stuff">Where to Take Your Batteries, CFL Bulbs, and Other Hard-to-Recycle Stuff</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Green Living Home energy bills energy costs green lifestyle living green saving money solar energy solar panels Spending Money Thu, 15 Jun 2017 08:30:10 +0000 Mikey Rox 1965204 at http://www.wisebread.com 11 Ways to Make Your Money Grow This Spring http://www.wisebread.com/11-ways-to-make-your-money-grow-this-spring <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/11-ways-to-make-your-money-grow-this-spring" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-511664807.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>I'm no fan of winter, but there's an upside to being holed up in my house three to four months out of the year: I spend way less money (outside of Christmas, of course).</p> <p>Springtime, though &mdash; all bets are off. I'm outside most of the time, hitting the beach, grabbing lunches and dinners on the go, planning mini-vacays, buying fresh threads for all those weekend parties, consuming cocktails &mdash; you get the picture; it's expensive.</p> <p>You could avoid spending money altogether when spring rolls around, but what fun is that? If you like to have a great time when the weather is cooperative, read through this list of ways to earn extra income so you can do all the things you like to do in the sunshine without going into debt.</p> <h2>1. Pick up seasonal employment</h2> <p>Depending on where you live, there could be a bounty of seasonal spring and summer employment. I live by the beach, for instance, and everybody's hiring this time of year &mdash; boardwalk shops, beach clubs, restaurants, landscapers, hotels, water-sports instructors, and more. But even if you didn't plant roots near a shore, there are still opportunities in your neck of the woods. Consider local amusement and water parks, baseball stadiums (one of the most fun jobs I've ever had!), spring-cleaning side work, camp counselor, and other <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/12-great-side-jobs-for-outdoorsy-types?ref=internal" target="_blank">outdoorsy-type gigs</a>.</p> <p>Andrew Fiebert, co-founder of Listen Money Matters, a personal finance podcast and blog, suggests, &quot;Jobs where you can earn tips can easily boost the amount you make. Tutoring or private lessons are other great part-time jobs and you have more control over your schedule.&quot;</p> <h2>2. Sell your spring-cleaning surplus</h2> <p>I do a deep clean of my house twice a year &mdash; at the start of spring and fall &mdash; and I'm continually amazed at how much I get rid of each cycle. Instead of sending everything to charity or a landfill, I try to monetize my junk. I sell my unwanted clothes on Swap.com (which has gone fairly well in the past) and I list other household items, electronics, sports equipment, etc., on the <a href="https://us.letgo.com/en" target="_blank">Letgo</a> app. Both are super easy to use. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-easiest-items-to-flip-for-cash?ref=seealso" target="_blank">10 Easiest Items to &quot;Flip&quot; for Cash</a>)</p> <p>&quot;There are plenty of websites that can help you [unload your toss-outs], eBay being one of the most notorious, but you pay less in fees with Bonanza and eBid.&quot; says Natasha Rachel Smith, personal finance expert at TopCashback.com. &quot;If your goods are designer, it's worth checking out Tradesy or Poshmark. BuyBackWorld is great for electronics, and Raise.com will, in many cases, actually pay you $1.50 per gift card you list for sale through TopCashback.&quot;</p> <h2>3. Switch to a cash back credit card</h2> <p>If you're not currently using a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-best-cash-back-credit-cards?ref=internal" target="_blank">cash back credit card</a>, it's time to switch &mdash; pronto. Credit cards these days offer scores of money-saving benefits, like <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-get-a-price-match-through-your-credit-card?ref=internal" target="_blank">price matching</a> and return protection. And if you're going to spend money, you might as well get paid for it. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-save-an-extra-109486-a-year?ref=seealso" target="_blank">How to Save an Extra $1,094.86 a Year</a>)</p> <h2>4. Take advantage of free outdoor activities</h2> <p>I'm the planner in my relationship and among my friends, and I like to get out and have fun when the weather is nice. But having a robust schedule can be expensive if you let it get away from you. I spend cash here and there (movie tickets, boat trips, parasailing), but I'm primarily focused on all the fun, free activities my area has to offer, like bonfires, movie screenings, hikes, swimming in local hotel pools, game nights on the patio, and dozens of other ideas that won't cost you a dime. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/47-cheap-fun-things-to-do-this-weekend?ref=seealso" target="_blank">47 Cheap and Fun Things to Do This Weekend</a>)</p> <h2>5. Put your gym membership on hold and exercise outside</h2> <p>My gym membership is about $60 a month, but if I put it on hold in the spring and summer to exercise outside, it'll only cost me $15 a month. Now, I don't personally do this because I like my classes and instructors &mdash; they keep me motivated. But if you're a self-motivator or just focused on cardio, this could be a great place to cut back and put more money in your spring budget. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/these-at-home-exercises-will-give-you-a-gym-quality-workout-for-free?ref=seealso" target="_blank">These At-Home Exercises Will Give You a Gym-Quality Workout for Free</a>)</p> <h2>6. Fight the temptation to spend your tax refund</h2> <p>Everybody gets those twinkly dollar signs in their eyes when their refund checks arrive, but practice self control and try not to spend it on frivolous things. That money is better suited paying off bills, going to your savings account, or paying for/putting a down payment on a vacation (but only if you've got a handle on your credit card payments and other bills). (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/50-smart-things-to-do-with-your-tax-refund?ref=seealso" target="_blank">50 Smart Things to Do With Your Tax Refund</a>)</p> <h2>7. Plant a garden to cut down on food costs</h2> <p>When the temperature starts to heat up, I crave fresh fruits and veggies; there's just something about a cool cucumber when it's 90 degrees outside (especially in a mojito). You can go to the grocery store to stock up, but if you're resourceful and dedicated, why not plant your own garden to eat from all season long? According to the USDA, a family of four spends an average $1,000 a month on groceries, but growing your own produce will cut that bill. Maybe not significantly, but extra money is extra money. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-most-valuable-things-to-plant-in-your-garden-this-spring?ref=seealso" target="_blank">10 Most Valuable Things to Plant in Your Garden This Spring</a>)</p> <h2>8. Host guests via a micro-subletting site</h2> <p>I've been a host on Airbnb since its inception and it has completely enriched my life. Not only do I love meeting and hosting strangers from all over the world, but it's also made a major impact on my financial health. The revenue I bring in from my beach house during the summer fully covers the mortgage (with plenty to spare) all year long, which is why I recommend this lifestyle to everyone with the capacity to host guests. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/13-things-i-learned-from-renting-out-my-home-on-airbnb?ref=seealso" target="_blank">13 Things I Learned From Renting Out My Home on Airbnb</a>).</p> <h2>9. Nip excessive energy use in the bud</h2> <p>Open your doors and windows and pull up the shades to take advantage of natural light. Hang-dry your clothes instead of running the dryer. Cook on the outdoor grill more than in your oven. Turn on ceiling fans in lieu of the air conditioner for as long as you can hold out. Sleep with lighter blankets or just straight-up naked. Use less water with quicker showers, and by watering plants in the morning or late evening so the water doesn't evaporate as quickly. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/34-smart-ways-to-cut-your-electric-bill?ref=seealso" target="_blank">34 Smart Ways to Cut Your Electric Bill</a>)</p> <h2>10. Review your subscription services</h2> <p>Take a look at your subscriptions to see what can go. Maybe you want to keep your magazines because you like reading them on vacation. On the flip side, if you don't consume much content in the spring and summer because you're out and about a lot, you might consider putting on hold or canceling streaming services. Also, take a good look at your online bank accounts to see if you've missed anything; there might be monthly fees coming out that you forgot about. Cancel anything you're not using enough to justify its cost. Saying &quot;so long&quot; to standard cable, for instance, can add hundreds (maybe even $1,000 or more) to your budget. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/3-tv-must-haves-once-you-cut-the-cable-cord?ref=seealso" target="_blank">3 TV Must-Haves Once You Cut the Cable Cord</a>)</p> <h2>11. Just say &quot;NO&quot;</h2> <p>While I enjoy an active social calendar in the spring, I can't attend everything. And you don't have to, either. If an event (like a dinner group or destination wedding or weekend away with your pals) isn't affordable, opt out. You're not obligated to go to any of these things, and you shouldn't put yourself in a financial pickle as a result.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/mikey-rox">Mikey Rox</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/11-ways-to-make-your-money-grow-this-spring">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-fast-ways-to-restock-an-emergency-fund-after-an-emergency">6 Fast Ways to Restock an Emergency Fund After an Emergency</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/a-simple-plan-for-saving-up-a-2000-fun-fund">A Simple Plan for Saving Up a $2000 Fun Fund</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-surprising-ways-to-earn-money-online">7 Surprising Ways to Earn Money Online</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-great-side-jobs-you-can-do-on-your-bicycle">6 Great Side Jobs You Can Do on Your Bicycle</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/carving-pumpkins-and-14-other-cool-ways-to-make-cash-from-fall-holidays">Carving Pumpkins and 14 Other Cool Ways to Make Cash From Fall Holidays</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Extra Income AirBnb energy costs fun gym memberships making money saving money side jobs spring subscriptions summer tax refund Fri, 14 Apr 2017 08:00:10 +0000 Mikey Rox 1925858 at http://www.wisebread.com 10 Ways Anyone Can Go Solar and Save on Energy http://www.wisebread.com/10-ways-anyone-can-go-solar-and-save-on-energy <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/10-ways-anyone-can-go-solar-and-save-on-energy" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-129944919.jpg" alt="Woman saving on energy and going solar" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>The more electricity you use, the more you pay for it. And in a world that is becoming increasingly dependent upon tech devices, something's gotta give. Luckily, there's a way to save money on those bills and help the environment, all at the same time. You just need to capture those intense rays of sunshine and use them for free energy. There are many ways you can harvest energy from the sun. Some methods are free and have been in use for thousands of years. Others require an investment in technology, but in some cases you can even make money by capturing free energy from the sun and selling it!</p> <h2>1. Solar panels</h2> <p>A few years ago, it would have been unusual to spot a house with solar panels on the roof, but now solar panels seem to be popping up in neighborhoods all over. If you have a south-facing roof (or west-facing) and get lots of sunny days in your area, <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/cut-your-electric-bill-with-solar-panels?ref=internal" target="_blank">installing solar panels</a> to generate electricity can be a smart investment. The cost of solar panels has dropped in recent years, and with major players such as Tesla starting to produce solar panels, further price drops and improvements in capability may lie ahead. If your solar panels generate more electricity than you use, in many states you can sell this extra energy to the utility company and make money through net metering programs.</p> <p><strong>Cost:</strong> Thousands of dollars up front, depending on square footage installed.</p> <p><strong>Potential savings:</strong> About a thousand dollars per year, depending on your location.</p> <p><strong>DIY?</strong> No, solar panels typically require professional installation.</p> <h2>2. Passive solar heating</h2> <p>This method of harvesting energy from the sun is not new and does not require any special technology. My house has a solarium with south-facing windows to allow sunlight to flood in during winter months. The solarium walls capture the warmth and radiate it back into the house, providing free heating. Any south-facing windows you have in your house will work to provide heating benefits in winter. Open curtains on your south-facing windows on winter days to let light and heat in. Close curtains at night during winter and when the sun is shining in during the summer.</p> <p><strong>Cost:</strong> Free if you have south-facing windows.</p> <p><strong>Potential savings:</strong> Hundreds of dollars per year.</p> <p><strong>DIY?</strong> No, look for south-facing windows when choosing or building a house.</p> <h2>3. Solar water heater</h2> <p>Heating water requires a lot of energy, so why not capture some of that free energy from the sun instead of running up your electric or gas bill? A solar water heater circulates water through an insulated collector using a water tank that is painted black to maximize heat collection. This hot water can be used directly or can be fed into a traditional water heater to save energy.</p> <p><strong>Cost:</strong> A few hundred dollars, depending on whether or not you can install yourself.</p> <p><strong>Potential savings:</strong> Hundreds of dollars per year.</p> <p><strong>DIY?</strong> A solar water heater can be built from plans and scavenged materials, but you may need a plumber to install.</p> <h2>4. Clothesline</h2> <p>With a clothesline in your yard, you can use free energy from the sun to dry clothes and avoid running your clothes' dryer on hot summer days. You can save the energy it takes to run your dryer, plus you'll save on cooling costs as well. Without having to use a fan or air conditioner just to cool down a part of your apartment or home that's hot from a running dryer, those summer energy bills will go way down. And if you don't have the available yard space outside to hang a clothesline, you can also install one indoors near a window.</p> <p><strong>Cost:</strong> Under $100</p> <p><strong>Potential savings:</strong> About a hundred dollars per year.</p> <p><strong>DIY?</strong> Yes, installing a clothesline is a simple do-it-yourself project.</p> <h2>5. Solar food dehydrator</h2> <p>Instead of buying and powering yet another kitchen appliance, you can use free energy from the sun to dehydrate fruits, vegetables, and even meat for storage. Solar food dehydrators use a heat collection box to collect solar energy and a dehydrator box where food is placed to be dried.</p> <p><strong>Cost:</strong> Under $100</p> <p><strong>Potential savings: </strong>A few dollars per year.</p> <p><strong>DIY?</strong> Yes, this can easily be built from plans.</p> <h2>6. Solar oven</h2> <p>You can build your own solar oven and enjoy some off-the-grid cooking. Can a solar oven really get hot enough to cook food, though? A solar oven typically reaches temperatures of 250-350 F. You can safely prepare food, including meat, by cooking at a lower temperature for a longer time. A big advantage of a solar oven is that you can cook in places without any utility hookups and without burning any fuel.</p> <p><strong>Cost:</strong> Under $100</p> <p><strong>Potential savings: </strong>A few dollars per year.</p> <p><strong>DIY?</strong> Yes, this can easily be built from plans.</p> <h2>7. Grow plants</h2> <p>What does growing plants have to do with solar energy? Plants capture energy from the sun directly and use this energy to produce edible leaves, fruits, and vegetables. Harvesting food from plants is an effective and inexpensive way to take advantage of free solar energy.</p> <p><strong>Cost:</strong> Less than $100.</p> <p><strong>Potential savings:</strong> Hundreds of dollars per year, depends of size of garden.</p> <p><strong>DIY?</strong> You bet!</p> <h2>8. Wind turbine</h2> <p>Heating of the earth's atmosphere from the sun provides the energy that causes wind to blow. If you have a site that gets a lot of wind, you can capture some of this indirect solar energy by using a wind turbine to generate electricity. As with solar panels, in many places you can take advantage of net metering and get paid for excess electricity that you generate and put on the power grid for others to use.</p> <p><strong>Cost:</strong> Thousands of dollars up front, depending on size.</p> <p><strong>Potential savings:</strong> Hundreds of dollars per year.</p> <p><strong>DIY?</strong> Smaller units could be assembled and installed by a homeowner; larger units require professional installation.</p> <h2>9. Solar furnace</h2> <p>With a solar furnace, you can warm up air for free using energy from the sun and direct the warm air to a space you want to heat. A solar furnace can be operated independently from your main furnace to provide supplemental heating during daytime hours.</p> <p><strong>Cost:</strong> Hundreds of dollars up front.</p> <p><strong>Potential savings:</strong> Hundreds of dollars per year.</p> <p><strong>DIY?</strong> Yes, this can be built from plans.</p> <h2>10. Solar charger</h2> <p>Solar chargers, and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-solar-power-banks?ref=internal" target="_blank">solar power banks</a> directly use energy from the sun to power electronic devices. Many are small and easy to travel with, so you won't need to stress if you're somewhere outdoors and you can't plug in your phone charger. Use those intense rays to give your phone or other device the juice it needs before the sun goes down. You can also make this a regular charging option if you leave your charger out during the day, and use it at night to charge your devices while you sleep.</p> <p><strong>Cost: </strong>Less than $100</p> <p><strong>Potential savings: </strong>It varies, depending on how much you currently use your devices at home.</p> <p><strong>DIY?</strong> Yes, but the DIY won&rsquo;t save much compared to buying one.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dr-penny-pincher">Dr Penny Pincher</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-ways-anyone-can-go-solar-and-save-on-energy">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-long-does-it-take-to-break-even-with-solar-panels">How Long Does It Take to Break Even With Solar Panels?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-ways-youre-wasting-electricity-without-realizing-it">8 Ways You&#039;re Wasting Electricity Without Realizing It</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/23-effortless-ways-to-go-green-and-save-money-too">23 Effortless Ways to Go Green (and Save Money, Too)</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/cut-your-electric-bill-with-solar-panels">Cut Your Electric Bill With Solar Panels</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/13-simple-gardening-skills-anybody-can-master">13 Simple Gardening Skills Anybody Can Master</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Green Living Home electricity energy costs environmental costs gardening go green saving money solar heating solar panels Tue, 21 Mar 2017 10:31:12 +0000 Dr Penny Pincher 1911513 at http://www.wisebread.com Save Hundreds by Getting Yourself Out of Hot Water http://www.wisebread.com/save-hundreds-by-getting-yourself-out-of-hot-water <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/save-hundreds-by-getting-yourself-out-of-hot-water" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/3406535350_33fb5d6216.jpg" alt="inside washer" title="inside washer" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>An average household spends about $300 a year on hot water &mdash; about 12% of a family&rsquo;s total annual energy budget. But if you have family members who take long showers and generate loads of dirty laundry, that expense could easily double. If hot water expenses are putting the family finances in hot water, it&rsquo;s time to make some changes. The good news is that if everybody pitches in with some minor behavior alteration, water-heating expenses will definitely diminish.</p> <h3>1. Find a Better Way to Start the Day</h3> <p>Raise your hand if you use the shower to wake up every morning. If you don&rsquo;t need a shower to get clean, there are better ways to get your body going in the morning &mdash; like taking a few minutes to stretch or do light exercises, for example. This new wake-up regimen will save you time and money, and it could even help you lose weight and get in better shape.&nbsp;</p> <h3>2. Try Sponge Baths</h3> <p>If exercise or other activities make you feel like you need a shower, consider a quick, targeted wipe-down instead. This isn&rsquo;t always the answer, but you&rsquo;ll be surprised at how effectively some speedy sponge work can get you clean. Saving time and money is good motivation for making this change.</p> <h3>3. Start Singing in the Shower</h3> <p>By the time you finish belting out one of your favorite songs (in 3-6 minutes or so), you should be just about done washing up. There are exceptions to this rule, of course. Shaving in the shower takes more time, for example. But for your basic shower, sticking to the single-song rule will add up in savings.&nbsp;</p> <h3>4. Upgrade Your Showerhead</h3> <p>A low-flow showerhead uses 30% less water than a conventional version. Don&rsquo;t let the &ldquo;low-flow&rdquo; label on these showerheads get you down. The best water-saving showerheads produce an invigorating blast while delivering just 1.5 gal. per minute or so. They do this by blending air into the water stream and using pulsing technology. For maximum savings, buy a showerhead with a built-in valve that shuts off the water flow while you soap up.</p> <h3>5. Clean Up at the Club</h3> <p>Are you paying for a health club membership without enjoying all the benefits? If you belong to a health club that has showers, shower more at the club so you can shower less at home.</p> <h3>6. Rinse and Reuse</h3> <p>Ever notice how many different coffee cups get used over the course of the day? Instead of filling up the dishwasher with multiple cups and glasses, try rinsing a single glass or coffee cup out when you&rsquo;re finished and simply reusing it later. Combine this rinse-and-reuse strategy with the practice of doing full rather than partial loads in your dishwasher, and you&rsquo;ll maximize your savings.</p> <h3>7. Give Your Clothes the Cold Treatment</h3> <p>About 85% of the energy consumed by your washing machine goes into heating water. If you do lots of laundry, you&rsquo;re looking at major savings potential here. Switch to a detergent designed for cold water and use the &ldquo;cold/cold&rdquo; setting on your machine.</p> <h3>8. Call in a Pro</h3> <p>Even the most frugal hot-water habits can&rsquo;t compensate for the extra money an inefficient hot water heater is going to cost you. If your water heater is more than 10 years old, it&rsquo;s worth considering an upgrade to a new Energy Star model. If you have a tank-type water heater (the most common variety), a full-service plumber can assess the condition of this appliance and help you weigh the pros and cons of replacement. Less costly energy-saving upgrades include insulating your existing water heater, insulating hot water pipes, and simply turning the temperature setting down to 120 degrees or even lower. On most electric tank-type water heaters, you&rsquo;ll find the temperature setting dial beneath a metal cover plate on the side of the tank. The &ldquo;factory&rdquo; setting of 140 degrees uses more energy than necessary.</p> <p><em>For more ideas, check out Wise Bread's </em><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-ways-to-lower-water-heater-costs"><em>7 Ways to Lower Water Heater Costs</em></a><em>.</em></p> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-guestpost-blurb"> <div class="field-label">Guest Post Blurb:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>This is a guest post by Tim Snyder. A journalist specializing in sustainability, energy efficiency, and home building topics, Tim writes frequently for <a href="http://www.drenergysaver.com/">Dr. Energy Saver</a>, a nationwide network of energy improvement contractors. Read more about saving energy on Dr. Energy Saver:</p> <ul> <li><a href="http://www.drenergysaver.com/blog/2010/10/how-good-is-burning-wood/">How Good Is Burning Wood?</a></li> <li><a href="http://www.drenergysaver.com/blog/2010/09/lessons-from-count-rumford/">Lessons from Count Rumford</a></li> <li><a href="http://www.drenergysaver.com/blog/2010/08/the-greenest-insulation/">The Greenest Insulation</a></li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/tim-snyder">Tim Snyder</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/save-hundreds-by-getting-yourself-out-of-hot-water">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-ways-anyone-can-go-solar-and-save-on-energy">10 Ways Anyone Can Go Solar and Save on Energy</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-long-does-it-take-to-break-even-with-solar-panels">How Long Does It Take to Break Even With Solar Panels?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-ways-youre-wasting-electricity-without-realizing-it">8 Ways You&#039;re Wasting Electricity Without Realizing It</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/xeriscaping-to-promote-water-conservation">Xeriscaping to Promote Water Conservation</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-common-household-leaks-you-can-fix-without-a-plumber">4 Common Household Leaks You Can Fix Without a Plumber</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Home conserve water energy costs hot water utilities water heater Tue, 11 Jan 2011 13:00:09 +0000 Tim Snyder 301975 at http://www.wisebread.com Does Energy-Efficient Equipment Make a Difference in Operating Costs? http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/does-energy-efficient-equipment-make-a-difference-in-operating-costs <div class="field field-type-link field-field-url"> <div class="field-label">Link:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="http://www.openforum.com/idea-hub/topics/money/article/does-energy-efficient-equipment-make-a-difference-in-operating-costs-thursday-bram?cid=email_articlefeed_articletitlelink" target="_blank">http://www.openforum.com/idea-hub/topics/money/article/does-energy-efficient-equ...</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/small-business/does-energy-efficient-equipment-make-a-difference-in-operating-costs" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_000006154801XSmall.jpg" alt="businessman with cfl" title="businessman with cfl" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="166" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Energy-efficient light bulbs are promoted as a way to save money, both on how long they last before you need to buy replacements and on how much power they save your business. In reality, when you run the numbers, an office that has converted fifteen light sockets to compact fluorescent light bulbs will save about $100 a year. When you're used to thinking in terms of thousands of dollars in your business, that number doesn't sound like a lot. It makes you wonder if the money saved by using energy-efficient equipment is making a noticeable difference in your operating costs.</p> <h3>The Cost of Energy Efficiency</h3> <p>When you jump into the numbers, you'll quickly find that buying energy-efficient office equipment of any kind comes with a higher price tag than less efficient options. Each piece of equipment promises to save you money in the long run by requiring less energy. Going green can be an important choice for a business, but it's also important to remember that there are other types of green involved. Knowing how much money your business is actually spending is crucial, even if you're willing to spend extra to be environmentally friendly without there being a financial upside.</p> <p>The right equipment will certainly bring down your utility bills at the office, but it's important to consider what that number really means. If you're in a business where you're handling accounts worth thousands of dollars, it just may not make financial sense to invest time on pricing and acquiring energy-efficient equipment just for a bill lowered by a hundred dollars a month. It's a question of the value of your time and that of your employees.</p> <p>However, depending on the type of equipment you need to use on a regular basis and the amount of time it will take to swap out your current technology, the difference in your operating costs over a year may more than cover the cost of your time.</p> <h3>Calculating the Costs</h3> <p>It could be that simply sitting down and running the numbers may not seem to be worthwhile in terms of finding out how a new piece of equipment could change your operating costs &mdash; if you find that the difference isn't enough to matter, the time spent may have no return. Nonetheless, it's useful to do at least a basic energy audit on your business. Professionals will come in, looking over the equipment you use and the space where you operate it. They'll put together a report pointing to where you can save energy and, depending on who you work with, lay out what equipment you can swap out for energy-efficient models, perhaps even pointing to the best models. A professional energy audit may be the fastest way to get an idea of what you may need.</p> <p>However, an outside energy audit may be unnecessary. There are numerous online tools to help business owners conduct an energy audit, such as that offered by <a href="http://www.greenyour.com/">GreenYour.com</a>. In most cases, you'll need to collect information about your business, from your operating habits to the physical layout of your office to your energy bills. The factors that play into just how energy efficient your business is can be complicated, making it worthwhile to follow an existing questionnaire.</p> <h3>Implementing Changes</h3> <p>For many businesses, the limiting factor in how much energy efficiency can change your monthly utility bill comes down to whether you rent office space (or other work space) or you own. The upgrades that can be added to a property you or your business own can make for a dramatic difference where simply switching to more energy efficient computers or copiers won't move the needle. Furthermore, there are tax incentives in place for many such improvements, dropping the actual costs and speeding up the point when your energy savings will have paid for the change. If, however, your business rents space, making such modifications may be significantly harder. Many landlords are willing to negotiate about improvements to their property, but they may ask for you to cover a significant portion of the cost &mdash; not necessarily worth your while if you don't expect to stay in the space long-term.</p> <p>When it comes to replacing equipment, there are decisions that have to be made beyond just picking out the new model. One of the most important is deciding when to purchase an energy-efficient model and replace what you currently have in your office. It makes sense to get as much use out of an old model as possible, although there is a question of sunk costs. Just because you paid more for an older model at some point, it may not be worth holding on to it when you could immediately start saving money on energy. The sensible choice depends heavily on what you're swapping out and the age of your equipment. It may also depend on whether you can sell an older model and recoup any of your costs.</p> <p>It seems like there is a new, more energy-efficient model of every type of office equipment coming out each week, making the choice more complicated. When you buy a new printer or copier, you could easily find that there's an even more efficient model out the next week. With that consideration in mind, it may make sense to simply plan on replacing existing equipment with energy-efficient models when you need to replace anyhow. Such an approach also allows you to budget for them more easily. You may not get the full savings you could get, but it can be the easiest way to get the greatest overall benefit for your business.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/thursday-bram">Thursday Bram</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/does-energy-efficient-equipment-make-a-difference-in-operating-costs">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/250-tips-for-small-business-owners">250+ Tips for Small Business Owners</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-credit-cards-for-small-businesses">Best Credit Cards for Small Businesses</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-grow-your-solo-business-without-hiring-employees">How to Grow Your Solo Business Without Hiring Employees</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-i-got-over-the-hump-and-sold-my-blog-for-3-million">How I Got Over the Hump and Sold My Blog for $3 Million</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-to-protect-your-business-during-a-divorce">5 Ways to Protect Your Business During a Divorce</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Entrepreneurship Small Business Resource Center energy costs energy efficient equipment office equipment small business Thu, 14 Oct 2010 17:21:23 +0000 Thursday Bram 233473 at http://www.wisebread.com Be Standby Power Smart and Save Serious Money http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/be-standby-power-smart-and-save-serious-money <div class="field field-type-link field-field-url"> <div class="field-label">Link:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="http://www.openforum.com/idea-hub/topics/money/article/be-standby-power-smart-and-save-serious-money-nora-dunn" target="_blank">http://www.openforum.com/idea-hub/topics/money/article/be-standby-power-smart-an...</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/small-business/be-standby-power-smart-and-save-serious-money" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_000002921611XSmall.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="168" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>There is a predator in your office. One that is costing you hundreds &mdash; if not thousands &mdash; of dollars per year, and unnecessarily so. It is also cumulatively costing the environment in untold ways. That predator is standby power, and if you get smart about it, you can save some serious money.</p> <p>We are complacent about luxuries and privileges that we consider to be rights. We turn on the tap and clean water (both hot and cold) comes out. We get into our cars, and gas is perpetually available at the gas station. And when we walk into a room and flick on a switch, whamo &mdash; we have light.</p> <p>But the resources and energy required to provide these instant benefits is not automatic, nor should it be taken for granted. Not only does it have a cost on our environment, but we are also paying for it with our hard-earned profits.</p> <h2>Standby Power</h2> <p>Standby power in particular is a completely unnecessary drain on our finances (and the environment). Also referred to as phantom power or phantom charge, it is the power that is consumed by appliances and electronics, even when they are turned off. You generally know if you have a standby power hungry machine if it has led indicators, blocky power adapters, continuous displays, or remote controls. Even without these components, you could be harboring more than a few standby power culprits in your office.</p> <p>For every watt of standby power you consume, you pay about $1/year. While this may not seem like a fortune, consider the fact that one desktop computer alone consumes 21 watts when left in sleep mode, and nine watts when completely turned off but left plugged in. Multiply that by the number of computers in your office, and before taking into account any other appliances (like printers, photocopiers, televisions, cell phones, and rechargeable electronics that you may leave plugged in even when charged), and you could very well be spending over a thousand dollars each year on standby power.</p> <p>For a list of appliances you may have in the office and the associated standby power costs, check out <a href="http://standby.lbl.gov/summary-table.html">this great chart</a>.</p> <h2>What You Can Do About It</h2> <p>There are a number of things you and your employees can do about this environmental and financial blunder. Getting your employees on board first-off is a great move, as it makes your job easier and plays a part in motivating them to be environmentally conscious at home as well.</p> <p><strong>1. Hibernate, Sleep, or Better Yet &mdash; Just Turn it Off</strong></p> <p>According to Energy Star, you can save up to $75 or more <em>per computer </em>simply by using the system standby or hibernate features and/or turning off your computers at night. There is no good reason for leaving computers on all night, and it's a security risk no less.</p> <p>There was once a school of thought that said you should leave your computers on all the time since turning them on and off is harmful. However, I recently chatted with an IT Technician at a large organization, who said that they lost 35% of their computers when they had a power outage &mdash; because it had been so long since the computers were shut down; it did more damage than good. So don't be afraid to turn them off; it won't hurt.</p> <p><strong>2. Monitors Off</strong></p> <p>Along the same lines, you can save $10-$40 by turning the monitor off when it's not in use (throughout the day as well as at night), as opposed to using a screen saver. In fact, screen savers consume almost double the energy as regular monitor usage.</p> <p><strong>3. Turn It Off at the Source</strong></p> <p>You can accomplish this in a few different ways:</p> <ul type="disc"> <li>If you plug most appliances and electronics into power bars, simply switch off the power bar each night.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Physically unplug appliances that aren't in use.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Use a program like <a href="http://www.verdiem.com/surveyor.aspx">Surveyor</a>, which automatically powers down company computers at night.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Implement a system like <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/green-switch-for-green-savings">Green Switch</a>, which designs a custom program to turn off power at the source for specific areas of the office with the flick of a switch.</li> </ul> <p><strong>4. De-wire the Wireless</strong></p> <p>Remember some of the finer details like turning off your wireless modem at night. This also carries with it the added benefit of protecting your system and devices against hackers.</p> <p><strong>5. Watch What You Are Charging</strong></p> <p>If you are charging batteries, phones, laptops, and other devices, pay careful attention to the charge cycle, and ensure you unplug it as soon as it has charged. Even fully-charged devices are huge drains on power when they are left plugged in. A laptop, for example, continues to draw 30 watts of energy when plugged in and fully charged.</p> <p>By reducing standby power consumption, you will save some serious money, as well as help extend the overall life of our global power supply. For more information on how you and your employees can conserve both resources and money, check out <a href="http://www.openforum.com/idea-hub/topics/lifestyle/article/30-easy-ways-to-go-green-in-the-office-nora-dunn">30 Easy Ways to Go Green in the Office</a>.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/nora-dunn">Nora Dunn</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/be-standby-power-smart-and-save-serious-money">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/250-tips-for-small-business-owners">250+ Tips for Small Business Owners</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-credit-cards-for-small-businesses">Best Credit Cards for Small Businesses</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-grow-your-solo-business-without-hiring-employees">How to Grow Your Solo Business Without Hiring Employees</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-i-got-over-the-hump-and-sold-my-blog-for-3-million">How I Got Over the Hump and Sold My Blog for $3 Million</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-to-protect-your-business-during-a-divorce">5 Ways to Protect Your Business During a Divorce</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Entrepreneurship Small Business Resource Center Technology business expenses energy costs small business Tue, 17 Aug 2010 21:33:05 +0000 Nora Dunn 184900 at http://www.wisebread.com Landscaping for Energy Conservation http://www.wisebread.com/landscaping-for-energy-conservation <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/landscaping-for-energy-conservation" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/858409_84677485.jpg" alt="house" title="house" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="188" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Until alternate forms of energy become inexpensive and widely available, heating and cooling costs are going to continue eating up a large portion of our monthly budgets.</p> <p>While it may take some time to fully experience the benefits of energy-conservative landscaping, the long term benefits may well be worth it. Trees, shrubs, vines, and man-made structures can modify the climate around your home to reduce heat gains in summer and heat losses in winter.</p> <p>Over time, investing in green landscaping can reduce your heating bills as much as 25 percent and summer cooling bills by 50 percent or more.</p> <p>Here are six factors to consider for energy-efficient landscaping.</p> <h2>1. Air Infiltration</h2> <p>Air infiltration is the passage of outside air driven by the wind through cracks around windows and doors. This forces an equal amount of interior air out of the home through openings that face away from the wind.</p> <p>In winter, air-filtration can represent up to half your total heat loss on the windiest, coldest days. Fortunately, properly placed plants can reduce air infiltration by reducing wind velocity near the home.</p> <h2>2. Conduction</h2> <p>The amount of heat conduction depends on the insulating property and thickness of your building materials, the surface area available for heat flow, and the temperature difference between inner and outer surfaces. Landscaping can help reduce this heat conduction.</p> <p>Exterior surface temperatures are controlled primarily by the outside air temperature, wind velocity and solar radiation. In summer, trees and shrubs can reduce the amount of solar radiation reaching the outside surfaces of a home, and thus reduce heat conduction into the house. In the winter, blocking cold winter winds will reduce conductive heat loss.</p> <h2>3. Solar Radiation</h2> <p>Large expanses of east- or west-facing windows will admit undesirable solar radiation in the summer, while large south-facing windows can help heat a home in winter. Planting vegetation around your home can regulate solar radiation during different seasons of the year.</p> <p>Strategically planted greenery along your home's sunny borders will shade south-facing roofs and walls that receive the most direct midday sun. You also can place plants to shade east- and west-facing walls that receive direct sunlight.</p> <h2>4. Planting Shade</h2> <p>If you live in a region with a great deal of sun, plant deciduous trees (those that lose their leaves each fall) in an arc on the east, southeast, south, southwest, and west sides of your home. Plant shade trees based on their mature height, shape of tree crown, position of the sun, desirable views, and roof and wall height. Remember, small trees grow faster than large trees and will provide early protection. Taller trees should be planted so they won't shade smaller trees when they reach maximum height.</p> <p>Summer shade for a south-facing roof generally depends on overhanging tree crowns. You'll want to plant shade trees as close to the home as practical so the crowns absorb the maximum sunlight. Select a species that won't easily break and promptly remove diseased or damaged limbs.</p> <p>In colder climates, planting trees for maximum summer shade can reduce your home's winter sun exposure by up to one third. However, the winter sun is typically less than 45 degrees above the horizon, so tree trunks will provide the most shade. For this reason, it's best to plant shade trees along the southern edge of your home. Remember to prune the lower trunk for maximum solar heating in winter. You may need only two or three large deciduous trees with well-developed crowns.</p> <p>Also, trees aren't the only way to create energy-saving shade. Consider covering east- or west-facing walls with vines or shrubs.</p> <h2>5. Wind Protection</h2> <p>Windbreaks can save you up to 25 percent in heating costs. Evergreens planted upwind will divert cold winds away from your home. The optimum distance for reducing wind velocity is about one to three times the tree height. However, a windbreak can provide reasonable protection at a distance of six-times tree height.</p> <p>Because windbreaks can lead to snow drifts, extend a row of trees 50 feet beyond the ends of the area being protected. Where space is limited, a single row of evergreens should do it. However, up to five rows of several evergreen species is more effective for larger properties. If you're planting several rows of trees, leave at least six feet between trees. Remember to consider the mature shape of the tree and how it will ultimately grow.</p> <p>Because it takes time to establish an effective windbreak, you might want to construct a fence with an open weave pattern until trees reach their optimum heights.</p> <p>Windbreaks have the additional advantages of protecting your privacy and improving the aesthetics of your home. Some greenery also will attract wildlife and provide them with winter protection and food.</p> <h2>6. Landscape Plan</h2> <p>Before you begin planning, it greatly helps to develop a scaled sketch. Measure the height of your home, and create a plan using one-quarter inch for each foot. Mark compass directions, doors, solar collectors, windows and other glass areas. Observe how the sun and wind affect your home during a winter storm through snow-drift directions and patterns. Sketch in windbreaks to block this wind flow.</p> <p>Next, you'll want to check out sun exposure during different seasons. How does the light strike the house between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. in the winter and summer? Incorporate into your plan measures to reduce this exposure.</p> <p>To determine the best vegetation for your home, consult with your county Extension agent.</p> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-guestpost-blurb"> <div class="field-label">Guest Post Blurb:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>This is a guest post by the <a href="http://www.couponsherpa.com/">Coupon Sherpa</a>, a source of reliable online, printable and grocery coupons. You can download the free <a href="http://www.couponsherpa.com/mobile-coupons/">Coupon Sherpa iPhone app</a> with in-store mobile coupons, or check out more great tips from the <a href="http://www.couponsherpa.com/ask-coupon-sherpa/">Ask Coupon Sherpa blog</a>:</p> <ul> <li><a href="http://www.couponsherpa.com/ask-coupon-sherpa/6-tips-to-shopping-consignment-stores/">6 Tips to Shopping Consignment Stores</a></li> <li><a href="http://www.couponsherpa.com/ask-coupon-sherpa/5-ways-to-sell-your-stuff/">5 Ways to Sell Your Stuff</a></li> <li><a href="http://www.couponsherpa.com/ask-coupon-sherpa/9-steps-to-shopping-for-gluten-free-foods/">9 Steps to Shopping for Gluten-Free Foods</a></li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/coupon-sherpa">Coupon Sherpa</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/landscaping-for-energy-conservation">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/13-simple-gardening-skills-anybody-can-master">13 Simple Gardening Skills Anybody Can Master</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-long-does-it-take-to-break-even-with-solar-panels">How Long Does It Take to Break Even With Solar Panels?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-get-the-greenest-lawn-on-the-block-naturally">How to Get the Greenest Lawn on the Block — Naturally</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-ways-anyone-can-go-solar-and-save-on-energy">10 Ways Anyone Can Go Solar and Save on Energy</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-frugal-ways-to-keep-your-home-warm-this-winter">10 Frugal Ways to Keep Your Home Warm This Winter</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Green Living Home energy costs garden planning landscaping Tue, 20 Apr 2010 13:00:02 +0000 Coupon Sherpa 32068 at http://www.wisebread.com