Bright Outlook for Texas Solar

Experts are anticipating that the solar energy market in the state of Texas to achieve significant growth over the next several years.  According to to the Solar Energy Industry Association:

  • Texas ranks 13th in the country in installed solar capacity, with enough solar energy installations to power 12,300 homes.
  • Residential and commercial photovoltaic systems prices fell by 22 percent over the last year.
  • More than 280 solar companies are actively working in the state of Texas, employing more than 3,000 Texans.

 

 

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Filed under Energy Conservation, Solar, Technology

Energy Efficient Roofing

Hot roofs absorb heat, causing air conditioner systems to work harder to cool during the warmer months of the year.

A cool roof uses material that is designed to reflect more sunlight and absorb less heat than a standard roof. Cool roofs can be made of a highly reflective type of paint, a sheet covering, or highly reflective tiles or shingles. Cool Roofs can lower the temperature of your roof by up to 50 degrees, which will reduce cooling costs.

 

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Efficient Windows Can Save Energy = Money

In most structures, windows account for 10 to 25 percent of the total heating bill by allowing hot or cold are to enter. During the summer months, HVAC systems work harder to cool hot air from sun exposed windows. Best to replace inefficient windows with double-pane or low-emissivity coated models, which can reduce energy loss by anywhere from 30 to 50 percent.

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Filed under Energy Conservation, Home Winterization

Spring Clean to Promote Energy Efficiency

  • Clean Refrigerator Coils – Coils can collect dust, making them less efficient for cooling. refrigerator-coilsBe sure to clean coils two times per year to eliminate buildup and reduce energy use by up to 6%.

 

 

 

  • Clean Ventilation - Air conditioning vents and dirty air filters should be cleaned and/or ac ventsreplaced regularly.  Changing filters can reduce HVAC energy use and electricity costs from 5 to 15%.

 

 

 

  • Inspect Vent Hoods – Check vent hoods for need of cleaning or filter replacements. 
    Energy Star certified ventilation fans can use 60% less energy than standard models.

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Filed under Energy Conservation, Uncategorized

How to Use Composting Worms

Did you know that the majority of organic waste can be recycled by worms? A worm composting system can convert over 70% of your home waste into beneficial compost.

How to make a worm composting bin

To make a worm composter, you’ll need:

  • A short, wide plastic bin
  • A drill
  • Sand/gravel
  • Damp, shredded newspaper or straw (for bedding material)
  • Compost worms. You need 1,000 to 2,000

Step one: First you need to drill a holes in the bottom and top of the bin.

Step two: Put up to 10cm of gravel (or sand) in the base of the bin..

Step three: Next, add some of the bedding material (Newspaper or straw).

Step four: Put the worms in a space in the bedding material and add some more bedding on top.

What next?

You can keep the worm composting bin outside but if the temperature drops below 40ºFahrenheit, you’ll need to bring the bin inside. You can keep it in a shed or garage, for example.

Worms can eat foods such as:

  • Used coffee grounds and tea bags
  • Fruit and veg, and their peelings (Not cooked potatoes)
  • Cereal
  • Bread
  • Leaves
  • Horse/cow manure
  • Egg shells

They can’t eat foods such as:

  • Meat
  • Fish
  • Oily foods
  • Dairy
  • Rice/pasta
  • Grass
  • Potatoes
  • Cat/dog faeces

You need to distribute the food within the worm bedding. Feed the worms gradually at first. Don’t add more food waste until the previous food has almost all gone. You may need to experiment with the number of worms if you are generating a lot of food waste.

As the bin generates new worms, you’ll be able to add more food.

After around 10 weeks, you’ll be able to remove the finished compost and add it to your garden. Firstly, shift the finished compost to one side of the bin and on the other side where the new space is, add fresh bedding and food waste. Once the worms move over to the clean bedding, you’ll be able to harvest the finished compost.

Worm Composting Issues

Here are some common problems experienced by worm composters and how to avoid or rectify them.

Bin smells

If the bin smells, it may be that there is not enough air, so try adding more air holes. It may also be that there is too much food so ensure that the food is being eaten before you add more. This problem can also be caused by the mixture being too wet so try adding more bedding that is damp (not wet).

Fruit flies

Fruit flies aren’t dangerous but they are a nuisance. This problem is mainly caused by the food being exposed. Make sure that when you add food, you bury it well in the bedding.

Dying worms

If the worms are dying, check that the bedding is not too wet or dry. Also, make sure that there is enough bedding. If there is no bedding, you need to harvest the compost and add fresh bedding.

Ready-made worm composting bins are readily available in a variety of sizes and indoor/outdoor applications.

 

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Filed under Composting, Food Waste, Healthy Living

Water Saving Tips

 

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Fix leaks.  The most common fixture that leaks is the toilet flapper.  Checking for leaks should be part of your overall maintenance plan and should be done on a regular basis. Perform a water audit. Take a look at your water meter when no one is likely to be using water.  If the meter is moving, you have a leak.

Install water-saving devices. Can you transform your single flush toilets to dual flush with a kit?  How about installing a Smart Faucet in every bathroom?  The EPA has rolled a complete line of water saving fixtures under its WaterSense label, however, but these are merely minimums.  Individuals should go beyond the minimum by installing 1.5 gallons per minute (gpm) shower heads when the WaterSense minimum allows shower heads with flow rates of 2.5gpm.  Rebates may also be available from your local utility to promote the installation of new high efficiency toilets that utilize 1.28 gallons per flush or better.

Upgrade to water saving appliances. Old dishwashers and top-loading washing machines are incredible inefficient, utilizing as much as 25 gallons per load of dishes and 35 gallons of water per load of laundry.  New high-efficiency models utilize a fraction of the water. Dishwashers in the two gallon range are very effective and front-loading washing machines use about a third of the water of what top-loaders use and rebates may be available.  The less water an appliance uses, the less electricity and natural gas that will be needed to heat that water.

Rethink landscaping. Plant what’s appropriate for your region and you will reduce water consumption, increase habitat for native species and raise the value of your property.  Re-landscaping is a big expense, but you are paying to water and maintain plants every year, year and year out, when you could be pocketing the money you currently budget for water.

 

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Filed under Energy Conservation, Healthy Living, Water Conservation

Remember Earth Hour March 29th, 2014

On 8:30pm, Saturday 29th March, the WWF are encouraging everyone to switch their lights off for 1 hour to help recognize the increasing problem of climate change.  It is widely accepted that climate change is causing the ice caps to melt and seas to warm, threatening ecosystems and coastal areas around the world. This is also causing related effects in other places as rising temperatures are causing increased droughts , threatening the most vulnerable animals and people worldwide.For just 1 hour, 8:30pm, Saturday, March 29th, many landmarks and cities throughout the world are showing their support for Earth Hour and recognizing the danger of climate change by switching the lights off during this time. To find out how you can participate, go to http://www.earthhour.org/TakeAction.aspx.

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