Since we have had our solar installed, I have written an update each month so that anyone even thinking about going solar can have the facts in hand. This month is no different and actually I am pretty impressed with the numbers considering the amount of 90+ degree days we have had.
I am really no going to say much as I will just post pictures of my bills and you can decide for yourself.
As you can see our Utility Bill total was $165.17, which added to the $45.93 from the solar bill made our total utility cost just $211.10. Now take a look at last years utility bill:
There is about an $85 difference from last year, but ok I know your thinking, ” well, there were less Kw used this year than last.” Ok, let’s take a look.
So June 2016 Kw total (Utility and Solar) :1323Kw. Wow, yes that is less than the 1643 from July 2015 exactly 320. Yes we are being proactive in reducing our energy usage.
Lets look deeper:
Taking a look at ONLY Kw usage:
1323 Kw used total (utility & solar) if we paid utility (.099 Kw) we would have paid $130.98
But we only paid $120.28-so Kw for Kw, Dollar for Dollar-we still saved over $10 this month. Some months will be better than others but a savings of $120+ a year is worth it to me.
As I had stated in an earlier post, this is a very small system due to the lack of roof space we have, but in the long run:
We put no money out of pocket up front
We paid nothing for installation, permits etc
All maintenance, repairs, and/or replacements are free during the life of the contract (20 yrs-and the contract is transferrable to new owners if we would ever sell) Not a penny comes from me!
We can monitor production/usage on our own website hourly if we choose.
Company monitors system 24/7 and sends someone to repair/replace any issues without us lifting a finger.
We are making a significant impact on the environment by reducing our dependence on grid energy.
This has just been a great experience so far and I am so happy with the outcomes and returns from our system.
I would recommend anyone even thinking about solar to at least get a free, no obligation consultation. It is all handled by email and phone until you make a decision to have it installed.
Disclaimer: Although I am excited about our solar install, I do receive a referral bonus from anyone that submits a free consultation through this website and moves forward to install. BUT the good news is YOU CAN TOO! Be sure to check out the Solar Rewards Program so you can claim a $250 bonus with each and every referral-NO LIMIT!
p.s.-If you are not ready to go solar, but want to still make a difference on the environment, check out how you can have a great impact here:
Solar.SaveGreenGoingGreen.netIt has been almost 2 months since we had the solar panels installed. We have a website to monitor the production on a daily basis and I must say I am pretty happy with the first few weeks-even with all the cloudiness and rain.
In April, which we were only live about 20 days and most of those days were deluged with rain, we were still able to produce 291.5 kw of energy through the solar panel. I would say this is not too shabby of a start.
So far in May (Through May 28 2016) we have produced 310.69 Kw. Still a little low, but as you can see from the graph below, we have still had a lot of clouds and rain.
Our highest day production was 22.07 KW on May 16th. If we could produce 20 Kw a day for an entire month (600Kw for 30 days) This would run my greenhouse without issue, never having to pull extra energy from the grid.
Comparatively, my electric bill from the local utility (Baltimore Gas & Electric, BGE) for LAST YEAR AT THIS TIME due June 1, 2015 was a total od $280. I received my bill this year and it was for $195-a total reduction of $85.
But lets look at Kw usage from our utility bill. (Does not include solar production)
May 2015-934 Kw Average temp 57 degrees
May 2016-538 Kw Average temp 56 degrees
This is a reduction of 396 Kw from last year overall, but since I cannot know the exact days to calculate to compare apples to apples, meaning I do not know the exact reading dates that are accounted for in billing. If I did, I could calculate how much energy I produced in solar for the exact same days-giving me a very good picture of how we are doing.
I will be tracking our progress as I want to be able to have accurate information for anyone who may be thinking about going solar.
For more information on how easy and inexpensive it is to go solar please visit:
Finally, we have the approvals to turn on our solar system from the local utility! Of course the first few days of operation were cloudy, rainy, and generally nasty, but we still managed to average .8-1.0 Kw per hour.
It is a very small system since we don’t have a lot of roof space facing the southern direction. It will only pull about 3Kw maximum if everything is perfect. But even the small system will have not only a direct impact on our utility bill but we our now having a more positive effect on the environment, reducing our overall carbon footprint.
On the first sunny day when I checked the system, we were getting pretty good-pulling the full 240v and averaging between 2.1 and 2.6 Kw per hour. During the peak of the day, our utility meter was actually spinning backwards. So not only were we generating enough power through the solar panels to run everything we had on, but the utility was giving us credit for the overage-further reducing our electric cost from the utility.
Overall I am pretty happy with the system so far. Considering that it did not cost us a dime to install and I don’t have to worry about any maintenance or repair for the next 20 years. I am actually looking forward to our next electric bill to see exactly how much of an impact this system will have.
Today’s economy is rising tide of expenses and debt for the average consumer. It seems to many that there will never again be a low tide where one can catch their breath before dealing with yet another increase or financial crisis. In previous posts, I gave several tips on ways to decrease your expenses and although we are soon starting a new year, those tips are still very pertinent today.
We have moved forward in our sustainable living model with the addition of rabbits, bees, tilapia fish, and a large aquaponics setup, which have all helped in reducing our need on outside sources to live a comfortable, frugal life.
I would like to take a moment to once again discuss the desire and need to reduce our energy consumption-initially to reduce our expense and be less dependent on outside sources, but since have noted how much a difference has been made in reducing our carbon gas emissions.We are taking our energy reduction one step further with the addition of a solar panel grid to our electric system.
In the past decade solar power was an expensive venture to install and maintain, but in just the last few years many new innovations have made solar power a very affordable opportunity to the average homeowner. In just the past few months, thousands have contacted us to see how affordable solar energy has become.
Through our program and partnership with one of the leading solar companies in the United States, it is as simple as:
Included maintenance at no additional cost for the life of your contract. That includes any necessary repairs or replacements. (Which, you should know, are not a common occurrence: Today’s solar systems are designed to withstand extremes of wind and weather)
Locked-in low rates that can be significantly less than you pay your utility now
No paperwork: All permitting and arrangements with your utility will be handled for you
And with a completely FREE evaluation of the property, there is nothing to lose. Everything will be handled initially by phone and email, and only once you decide solar is the right choice will an engineer visit your home for an on site assessment and installation plan.
The truth is, going solar may be one of the smartest things you can do as a homeowner because it can increase your home’s resale value. And as utility prices go up, your savings grow.
There is nothing to lose and everything to gain by converting much of your power generation to green, clean, solar energy. Take just 30 seconds to request your no-risk consultation and you could be on your way to savings in your pocket, while making a huge difference on our environment. Currently available in limited markets, but quickly expanding, so if we are not in your market yet, check back soon.
For more information on Solar Power or how to save money over your current utility visit us at:
It is never to early to start thinking about plans for the next year. As 2015 winds down, lets gear up for saving in 2016.
Here are a few simple things you can do to save money while being eco-friendly. If you have a limited budget, start with the free ones and then try and add another step as you can afford them. In the long run, the savings will far outweigh the initial cost!
GO GREEN to SAVE GREEN IN 2016
Reduce Energy Consumption
· Insulate! Insulate! Insulate!
· Insulate electrical sockets on outside walls.
· Turn off the lights when you leave a room to help reduce your electric bill.
· Unplug your cell phone charger when not in use. (Considered an energy vampire)
· Turn off anything with LED lighting, ie VCR/DVD, cable box,etc… Again, energy vampires.
· Do not hold refrigerator or freezer door open for an extended period.
· Close blinds or curtains on sunny side of house in summer to keep the sun from heating up the room, keeps AC from having to work harder. In winter, open blinds and curtains so sun warms the room, decreasing heating costs.
· Caulk around windows to keep an airtight seal, reducing energy costs
· Seal leaks around the house. A common place to look is at the junction where the foundation and house meet. Also another place to look for is where the electric and plumbing come into the house.
· Change all bulbs to CFL bulbs or LED lighting.
· Change furnace filter every month to have furnace work efficiently.
· Use Energy Star appliances when possible.
· Use a programmable thermostat.
· Turn down the thermostat. For every degree you turn it up or down you save money. In the winter, turn down the furnace. Wear shoes, socks, and a sweater. We program out thermostat to go down to 64 degrees at 9 pm when the grandchild goes to bed. Everyone can be warm snuggled under the covers! Also open curtains and/or blinds during the day to let the sun warm the room.
· In the summer, turn air conditioner up and use a ceiling fan in the room you are in, when you leave the room turn off the fan. Close the curtains and blinds on the side of the room the sun will be shining into. This helps to keep heat out thereby reducing energy costs.
· Caulk around your dryer vent.
· Turn down water heater to 120 degrees. This can cut up to 5 % off bill with each 10 degrees that you lower the temperature.
· Put an insulated wrap around your water heater.
· Use a pressure cooker to cook things quicker, food is also healthier.
· Give your digital clock away, use a wind up clock, or if you need an alarm what about your cell phone?
· Weather strip and caulk around doors and windows.
· Using the microwave is cheaper than using the stove or oven.
· Cook with crock pot, pressure cooker, or microwave.
· In the summer, arrange cooking so that you don’t use the oven and heat up the house. Use the grill as an option.
· In the winter, when you use the oven when the food has finished cooking open the door so the room is warmed too.
· Air dry dishes, don’t use the high heat drying cycle of the dishwasher.
· Don’t put the refrigerator near a heating vent.
· Keep temperature of the refrigerator about 34 degrees F.
· Keep the freezer temperature between 0-4 degrees F.
· Keep the refrigerator coils clean. Vacuum the coils every month for maximum efficiency.
· Keep refrigerator a couple of inches away from the wall so coils won’t have unnecessary heat trapped.
· Keep freezer full. If necessary use gallon jugs of water between grocery trips. Uses more energy to keep air in freezer at proper temperature than to keep solid items frozen.
· In refrigerator compartment it is most efficient for the air to circulate around foods.
Reduce Water Consumption
· Turn off water, don’t let it run when brushing teeth or working in kitchen.
· Put a brick or plastic bottle filled with water in your toilet to decrease the amount of water you use when flushing toilet.
· Reuse your bath towel more than one time! Hang it up to dry and use for a few days to reduce the amount of laundry you have. This is for energy AND water savings.
· Use the water that was used to boil eggs, cool it, and water your plants with the water. Utilize the water that will run down the drain, use it to water your plants or gardens.
· Insulate at minimum the first 6 ft of hot water pipes from the water heater.
· Use low flow faucets and showerheads.
Reduce the amount of time spent in the shower by a few minutes for water savings
Take a shower instead of a bath-uses less water
Fix any water leaks!
Save Money on Laundry
· Empty dryer lint trap before drying clothes.
· Don’t wash small loads in the washer. Fill the machine to capacity to keep from doing multiple loads of laundry.
· Line dry clothes whenever possible.
· Remove laundry from dryer promptly, to prevent wrinkles and having to iron.
· When drying clothes separate the lighter clothes from the heavy ones. Dryer will keep running until the wettest item is dry.
· Wash clothes in cold water. Can save up to $63. a year for the average consumer.
· Don’t run appliances during peak times. In some areas your energy costs more at these times. Check with your local gas and electric company to see what your peak times are. (Usually around 1pm to 5pm.)
Make your own laundry soap-cheaper and no added fillers or chemicals
Saving money in the Home office
· Turn off the computer, printer, and fax machine when not in use.
· Shred paper to prevent identity theft, use in compost piles.
· Use a Smart Strip with all office equipment.
· Only print what you must have in print form, if you can save in a digital file, do so. If you need to retain it for records purposes, look into an online backup/storage facility. They are very inexpensive and your records are guaranteed safe. (This is great also if you have a system crash!)
Want more ideas, be sure to catch Part 2! If you can think of others-feel free to add them in the comments!
I’ve found that this is a question I’m often asked when I tell people that I raise backyard chickens. How much does it cost in dollars as well as time? So I decided to start taking notes of all my expenditure, the time that I spend on tending my flock as well as what I’m getting out of having backyard chickens. I always figured I kinda broke even, but I was surprised to discover that I actual turn a handsome profit for my labor of love.
Tuesday was such a good day. I surprised my husband with all day babysitting for three of our kids and we took off to do all of our shopping. Yeah, not the best date ever, but those of you with kids understand how hard it is to go shopping with them!
This is what my “planting guide” looked like. It gave me a rough idea of how many plants I wanted to purchase and approximately where I wanted to put them. The paper ended up wrinkled, wet and with a sap drip because of being outside with us all morning!
We headed off to Costco and Walmart to do our normal grocery shopping then stopped by home for lunch before heading out to the nursery I’d previously mentioned I wanted to go to. It was a beautiful place but it didn’t have any of the plants we needed! There were…
Washington, D.C.— In the face of global climate change, increasing the use of renewable energy resources is one of the most urgent challenges facing the world. Further development of one resource, solar energy, is complicated by the need to find space for solar power-generating equipment without significantly altering the surrounding environment.
New work from Carnegie’s Rebecca R. Hernandez (now at University of California Berkley), Madison K. Hoffacker, and Chris Field found that the amount of energy that could be generated from solar equipment constructed on and around existing infrastructure in California would exceed the state’s demand by up to five times. It is published by Nature Climate Change.
“Integrating solar facilities into the urban and suburban environment causes the least amount of land-cover change and the lowest environmental impact,” Hernandez explained.
Just over 8 percent of all of the terrestrial surfaces in California have been…
Building aquaponic systems from IBC totes over the last two years has been extremely enjoyable and somewhat profitable. I do not build systems during the winter months because I have no place indoors to work, so each spring I have started out fresh with new advertising, pre-orders, etc
So many of my past customers have purchased a completed aquaponic system from me and then purchased a raw IBC tote with every intention of duplicating the process from the first tank. Too many found that it wasn’t so easy to make sure that all measurements and pressures were accurate. SO I end up getting the call that “My system doesn’t work!”. Since my systems are guaranteed to work, I usually end up making a trip to find that the system that doesn’t work is not the system that I built! Nevertheless, I end up doing an impromptu class on “How to build an IBC aquaponic system.”
Building the systems, without knowledge of the inner workings, which include heights, clearance’s, and head pressure, can be complicated.The trial and error process is very time consuming, not to mention the money spent learning that something won’t work! I spent weeks working out different variations to insure I found the right combination that was going to work-First time and every time!
As 2015 spring begins in the Mid-Atlantic Region, I am going to start this building season by saying “OK, I give up!” I am tired of taking the calls about poorly built systems or trying to talk someone through the errors they made when trying to reproduce my work. I’m flattered, but time is a commodity that I have little of with my responsibilities around our suburban homestead.
I have no dreams of grandeur to become the foremost aquaponics system builder on the east coast: I just love working with aquaponics. It is an enjoyable hobby, which allows me to marry two of my hobbies: Gardening and animal husbandry.
I will still be producing new systems this year, but for the first time, I will be offering a class on aquaponics, basics, system construction, and maintenance. This will be a hands-on half-day class and you will leave knowing enough to build and maintain your own IBC tote aquaponics system.
Be prepared to get your hands dirty! The day will start with a tour and explanation of our suburban greenhouse. We will discuss:
Is aquaponics legal in residential areas
What about more commercial applications
Do you need permits for vegetable/fish sales?
What is aquaponics?
How does it differ from hydroponics, aeroponics, or aquaculture?
Is it cost effective to grow this way?
What are your goals with aquaponics
What are you wanting to grow? flowers, vegetables, herbs
NOTE: for Washington, DC residents: since Marijuana is not legal in MD, I cannot teach to that specific plant, but will answer any questions as best I can.
Personal consumption only or larger scale
Outside system or in a garage, shed, or greenhouse.
Types of aquaponic systems
Fill & Drain, Constant Height, Vertical, Gutter
Pro’s and Con’s of systems
Which system is best for you?
Types of plants best for your system
Different types of Grow Media or floating rafts
Pro’s & Con’s
Raising and breeding Tilapia fish (This is our fish of choice)
Pro’s and Con’s of Tilapia
What other fish lend well to an aquaponics system
Are you wanting to harvest fish for food, for sale, or just have fish for the system
Once completed in the greenhouse, you will roll your sleeves up to be completing your own IBC tote tank system. Be sure to bring your truck or trailer. We sold almost 100 of these last year at $299 each and you will take yours home with you the day of class!
I will take you through step-by-step in building your tank and the importance of measurements, heights, and clearances to insure your tank will function properly. Although we will have the majority of the parts pre-cut, please have knowledge of basic hand tools and drills. If you have a battery operated drill, feel free to bring it.
With any system there is some basic maintenance. As we complete the tank systems, I will cover basic maintenance and common causes of malfunctions, as well as the necessary steps to solve and prevent future issues.
If you bring pictures of the area where you want to install your tank and a simple drawing , I will help you determine the best setup for positioning lines and filters. We can also make small modifications on the spot that would make your system very user friendly for your location.
When you complete this class, you will walk away with the knowledge you need set-up and run your new aquaponics system successfully.
All class participants will receive the book and DVD from the foremost expert in Aquaponics in the United States: Sylvia Bernstein.
Aquaponic Gardening: A step-by-step guide to raising vegetables and fish together. This book is the first and best book I read in starting my aquaponics adventure: a $30 Value
Aquaponics Explained Video: full-length aquaponics course taught by Sylvia Bernstein in her warm, approachable style in June, 2012 at the Denver Botanic Gardens: a $30 Value
We will be offering 3 variations of the class on Saturday May 9, 2015. Choose the one that is right for you.
11:00 am Aquaponics Basics-This will include everything listed above in the “Greenhouse Tour” plus the book and video to take home.
$99 per person.
1:00pm Tank Only Class-This class will be spent hands-on in building your own tank system to take home right after class*. It will include all instruction on the mechanics and maintenance of the IBC tank system. You will be able to leave the class with the knowledge to build more tanks or variations to fit your needs in your own space. This class will include Sylvia Bernstein’s book & video to take home.
*Does not include Grow Media or fish
$329 per person
FULL CLASS-Best Value for a 1/2 day in training, learning about aquaponics and leaving with all the information and material you need to get started with your own aquaponics system when you get home!* Includes everything in both of the above classes plus the book and DVD but as an added bonus full paid tuition will include ONE guest FREE. So bring an interested friend, neighbor, or relative and they can participate with you.
$399 for 2 people**
*Does not include Grow Media or fish
**Includes only ONE book and DVD
Because of the amount of space necessary I must limit participation. Once the class is full the Pay buttons below will no longer work. I have already started receiving phone calls about the class, so HURRY and reserve your spot soon to insure your space!
Classes held in Southeast Baltimore County in Dundalk. Times and exact address of class will be sent on your payment confirmation page.