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.
Well. we finally got our solar installation done and I could not be happier. It, unfortunately is not an off grid system, but I am at least making in difference in my energy is generated. There was no way at the present we could afford an off grid system, but with the benefits of this system it just seemed like the right step.
Instead of showing a lot of pictures of the installation, I did a Vimeo video, (click on picture) which I thought might be a little more interesting. Solar is now much easier and more affordable than it has ever been and with even the utilities moving more toward solar and wind power, it just made sense to take a look now.
We did not have to pay a dime for the installation, nor do we have to pay for any maintenance or upkeep for the next 20 years! Not to mention the savings over paying all that money to the utility.
I have always been interested in solar power-clean, effective, and free generally speaking. But I recently ran across an article from the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) that I thought brought out some very interesting facts about the direction of solar energy.
The facts and figures come from the Solar Market Insight published by the SEIA for the 4th quarter of 2015.
First: the U.S. installed 7,260 MWdc of solar PV in 2015, the largest annual total ever and 16% above 2014.
Second: For the first time ever, solar beat out natural gas capacity additions, with solar supplying 29.4% of all new electric generating capacity brought on-line in the U.S. in 2015.
These two facts come as no real surprise as it has been well known that interest in solar has grown phenomenally over the past decade. But when I started looking at breakdowns of the installations, I was surprised. In particular, the following two graphics caught my eye
Once I started to think about it, it really made sense. Solar is clean, renewable energy, which is essentially free after the initial cost of installation. So after the utilities initial outlay of immense cash, they can begin to recover investment immediately without having to make further purchases, such as with coal and natural gas.
Although the utilities may have the buying power to install these huge systems, that is not true of most commercial systems. They cannot afford the high initial cost even with the short term recapture of investment, usually 7-10 years.
Residential on the other hand has options that completely remove the drawback of an expensive installation. We just had our system installed, although a small system comparatively, but it cost us absolutely nothing to install and the maintenance and repair of the system is taken care of for the next twenty years, which means I don’t have to lay out even a dime to keep the system maintained to optimum efficiency. I will be writing more about our personal system in another post later.
I think that the utilities know the future of harnessing free energy and our taking advantage now. They understand that in generations to come the decisions they make now will have a huge impact on not only their bottom line, but the environment as well.
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:
There were far too many ideas to put in the first post on saving in 2016, so here are a few more 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!
Money Saving Gardening Ideas
·Plant a vegetable, herb, or container garden. This will save lots of green and is a very green thing to do!
· Plant deciduous trees on the east and west side of your house to keep sun out of house, thereby reducing AC bills. In the winter, the leaves will fall off the trees and allow the sun to come into the windows to provide warmth.
· A cheaper, quicker way to provide shade now is to grow an annual vine in front of windows to provide shade in summer months. Hyacinth beans grow quickly and are beautiful where I live. (And a bonus, the hummingbird visited the vines.)
· Shred paper (to protect against identity theft) and use it in the compost pile.
· Start a worm bin with your kitchen scraps (vermicomposting) for use around flowers, herbs and vegetables. Save money not spending money on expensive chemical fertilizers that are not environmentally friendly any way.
· Mulch, mulch, mulch. You can use things like leaves, grass clippings, straw and compost.
· Collect rain in rain barrels to water the gardens.
· Use the boiled egg water, water from the dehumidifier, or water that ran off your vegetables when cleaning them, to water plants.
· Plant native plants for your area, they may need to be watered less.
· Choose plants that can thrive with other plants with similar needs.
· Plant for wildlife. Planting the right plant can attract birds, butterflies and bees.
· Build healthy soil with the use of organic matter. Compost with things that you may have on hand such as grass clippings, leaves, and old kitchen scraps such as lettuce leaves, old banana peels, etc. (No meat or dairy)
· Check out what the neighbor is putting in his trash too but check to see if they use synthetic chemicals.
· Compost healthy garden wastes.
· Composting for fertilizer and increasing soil health is not expensive and very eco-friendly.
· Composting attracts earthworms, so let them aerate and fertilize your soil. No need for tilling, the earthworms will do it for you.
· Join a garden club for seed swapping or plant exchanging.
· Control disease and pests through natural cures first. Last year I used the Cornell recipe for powdery mildew on my roses and it worked!
· Water during the early morning to prevent diseases that spread when leaves are wet and to prevent evaporation during the heat of the day.
· Mulch to suppress weeds and hold in moisture.
· Use newspapers in your compost and also as mulch. Don’t use the shiny kind of papers just the dull paper.
· Use cardboard for composting and also can be used before laying down the mulch. (Make sure their isn’t any tape on the box it won’t break down.)
· Check with places like Craigslist or FreeCycle for things you need for the garden or other projects. Talk to your neighbors and friends. Remember to rethink, remake, reuse and recycle. Recently, I found things that I had been looking for the coming garden season. Of course my price had to be free and close to where I live. In the winter, people don’t want to get out because of the cold so the odds are greater that you can actually pick some of this unwanted stuff up. One neighbor saves coffee grounds and filters for my worm bin. The other neighbor redid her windows-so now I have old windows for some cold frames. On Craigslist.com I found bags of old leaves, old stakes and chicken wire for my peas, and 5 dozen Ball canning jars. Last year I picked up a bunch of old bricks for walkways for free. You can also find plants and flowers. I went and dug about 9 currant bushes for free. Also, picked up around the corner from where I live enough rocks to use around my new pond that I am building to encourage wildlife. All of these things were free, eco-friendly and will be reused or remade into something!!!!
Bicycle or walk short distances instead of driving.
Change your automobiles air filter every 10,000 miles can reduce gas mileage as much as 10%.
Check your tire pressure once monthly.
Drive the speed limit, the faster you drive the more gas your vehicle guzzles.
Don’t accelerate and break swiftly, uses more gas.
Remove luggage rack and bike racks.
Don’t need to use premium fuel unless automobile manual states to use it.
Turn off engine if you are idling for more than 30 minutes or more.
Get a tune up and oil change as manual states.
Change your fuel and air filter on your automobile as the manufacturer states for optimum efficiency.
Save on Groceries
Use coupons for items that you would normally use. Some stores offer double or triple coupons. Be sure that the item you would have bought wouldn’t have been cheaper.
Calculate savings using the price per smallest possible unit. Usually found below shelf item on tag-calculated ounce, pound, etc.
Read grocery circulars.
Write up menu for the entire week before shopping. Stick to the menu and what you need for each meal. You can use items that were on sale that week for some of the meals.
Don’t buy prepackaged foods, such as pre-cut lettuce. You will pay premium price for this.
Plant a vegetable garden. This can save you lots of money and give you the assurance of how the food was grown.
Plant fruit trees, and bushes.
If you plant a garden, an economical way to preserve produce for all year would be to can, freeze, or dehydrate your food for later usage.
General Money Saving Tips
Don’t buy your coffee out every morning, make your java at home- serve in a coffee travel mug.
Pack your lunch for work.
Recycle your printer cartridges. Many places like Staples Office Supplies will give you credit when you recycle your printer cartridges through them.
Use the correct size pan on the stove for the cooking job, use lids when cooking.
Make your own safe cleaners using baking soda, vinegar, and lemon juice. See our home section for some of these cleaning ideas.
Don’t buy bottled water, buy a reusable bottle and fill at home. If you are concerned with water contaminants purchase a water filtration system.
If you can think of ideas-feel free to add them in the comments!
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!