Tips to Make Your Home Green

Sustainable architecture is the talk of the town nowadays, with more big businesses investing in environment-friendly infrastructures or the so-called “green buildings” – and it is about time, really. Environmental conditions have worsened exponentially in the last few decades, so there is a very real and very pressing need to be more environmentally conscious of our choices. Surely, big businesses are the ones which can make the most impact, but individuals can contribute to helping the environment in little ways.

One great way of helping the environment is by making your home as green as possible. Regardless of whether you are building a new home or renovating the one you already own, there are numerous ways to make your home green. The good news? These are all easy, totally doable ways that will not require you to spend a lot.

So are you ready to help the environment? Read on for some tips on how to make your home green:

Conserve Energy

Tips to Make Your Home GreenThe most obvious way of making your home green is by cutting down on energy consumption. You can do this by turning off most of your appliances, but, of course, that is not feasible in today’s world. Fortunately, you do not have to go the extreme route just to conserve energy.

For example, switching all the light fixtures in your house to use compact fluorescent lights is an easy and relatively inexpensive way of lowering your energy consumption and minimizing waste generation (compact fluorescent lamps last 10 times longer than other light bulbs. You can also install movement sensors to make the lights in your house motion-activated. This is especially helpful if your household has a tendency to leave lights on in empty rooms. If your house already has large windows installed, then make the most of natural sunlight during the day instead of turning on the lights.

Setting cooling and heating temperatures properly is also crucial, especially in the case of your refrigerator, air conditioner, and space heater. Make sure to check the manual of your appliances to have a better idea of the ideal temperature for their operations. You can also consider purchasing a thermostat to make temperature adjustment easier and more efficient. Finally, avoid leaving appliances on standby. If you are using your TV or media players, plug off the device to save electricity.

Clear the Air

Tips to Make Your Home GreenYou might not be able to do much to reverse air pollution in general, but you can certainly do a lot in clearing the air in your own house. For starters, start implementing a no-smoking policy in your home. After all, not only is cigarette smoke a source of air pollution, it is also detrimental to the health – and this is true even if you do not smoke yourself. Second-hand smoke, after all, is just as dangerous if not even more so than first-hand smoke.

You can also start growing plants indoors. Not only are plants aesthetically pleasing to look at, they also help in making the air cleaner by using up the carbon dioxide in the air and emitting oxygen. Even furniture and gadgets can emit air pollutants (even if you might not notice it), so taking care of indoor plants is your best bet in keeping the air inside your home clean and fresh.

Avoid Toxic Products

Tips to Make Your Home GreenGovernmental regulating bodies are adamant in pulling out products with toxic substances from the market – and with good reason. For one, they can certainly be dangerous to the health, leading to all sort of health complications and causing sicknesses. In addition, they are also harmful to the environment and may upset the ecosystem. To keep your home toxic-free, consider switching to non-toxic cleaners. Find cleaning products that are biodegradable or certified to be environment-friendly. These cleaning products may be a bit more expensive but helping the environment and protecting yourself is worth the few additional dollars.

If you can, you can also get your hands on making your own eco-friendly cleaners. Baking soda and vinegar, for example, are effective, biodegradable cleaners which are good for the environment and easy on the budget. Oils like tea tree and citrus oils, meanwhile, are great natural disinfectants.

As much as possible, avoid using insect sprays to drive away insects from your home. Instead, do a deep clean, making sure that there are no spots where insects can live. Keep food items sealed away in tight containers to keep insects such as flies and cockroaches from dwelling in your house. Finally, you can also use essential oils to keep insects out of your house.

Actively Try to Reduce the Waste You Create

With everything so accessible and easily replaceable nowadays, we tend to not be mindful of the waste we generate. To minimize waste production, reuse and recycle items which can be reused and repurposed, be it paper bags or glass containers. Try not to throw away anything made of plastic right away, especially if they can be used again.

Moreover, consider investing in durable household items. This way, there is less need for you to constantly replace them. Not only will this help you cut down on household expenses, but it will also help in generating less waste. For example, instead of buying cheap low-quality products which will most likely break down in a short period of time, spend a little bit more in something that will last you a lifetime. By doing this, you save money in the long run and produce significantly less waste.

The enumeration above is by no means exhaustive. There are countless ways by which you can make your home green and environment-friendly, without having to spend so much. With a little creativity and experimentation, you will surely be able to find more ways to make your home green.

The trick, really, is to just be mindful of your daily household choices. Pay attention to the materials you use or the energy you tend to consume. By doing so, you will be in a better position to determine what changes you can make in order to create an environment-friendly home.

Top 5 Renewable Energy Companies

The world is quickly switching to renewable energy, as a way of environmental conservation and mitigation. As a result, there has been an influx of new players in the industry, whose main goal is to provide clean and sustainable energy. Judging by how fast these companies are growing, we can deduce that most people are of the idea of using environmental friendly energy.

According to the International Energy Agency, renewable energy will account for 40% of the world’s energy by 2040. Sources of renewable energy range from natural sources, such as solar, water and wind to biofuels, such as corn and wheat. Here are the top 5 renewable energy companies:

1. Canadian Solar Inc. (CSIQ)

Renewable Energy CompaniesIncorporated in 2006, the CSIQ is an energy company specialized in solar energy. It provides solar powered products and services and offers system solutions inover 20 nations across six continents.It produces highly efficient solar panels that work in a wide range of temperatures, which has seen it rise to the top three revenue earners in the industry.

One of its notable acquisitions was Recurrent Energy in 2015. This resulted to an overall increase in output of the company to 12GW. One of its outstanding initiatives include donating solar panels to sub-Sahara Africa to replace kerosene lamps. This initiative by Canadian Solar also included Virunga National Park in Rwanda, which is the home of the endangered mountain gorillas and also a UNESCO World Heritage site. The company donated solar panels to replace diesel usage in the heritage site.

2. First Solar Inc.

Renewable Energy CompaniesThis company is based in Arizona and is a manufacturer of solar panels. It is the number one provider of photovoltaic (PV) solar technology in the world, producing a minimum of 8GW. Operating in six continents, it boasts of the largest PV power plants set up around the world, including on the island of Samoa. Its state of the art thin-film panel design includes a tiny footprint of carbon, which makes its panels more environmental friendly than the normal solar panels.Furthermore, its technology produces more than 90% less greenhouse gas emissions than other sources of electricity.

3. CropEnergies AG

This German company is the European leader when it comes to production of sustainable bioethanol. It produces approximately 1.3 million cubic meters of bioethanol annually. This bio-fuel is now predominantly used in Germany, the UK, France and Belgium to power modern production facilities. It also produces annually 150 cubic meters of neutral alcohol, which has various applications in the pharmaceutical, cosmetics and beverage industries. Compared to fossil fuel, this company produces 70% less CO2 emissions.

4. Vestas Wind Systems

Renewable Energy CompaniesThis Danish manufacturer is the world’s leading developer of wind energy systems. The company designs, produces, installs and services wind turbines in 79 countries. No other company in the history of wind energy systems has come close to the number of installations this company has done over the years. As it stands now, Vestas controls more than 17% of the global market share, which makes it the main player in the wind power industry. It produces a combined total capacity of 97GW of wind power.

5. Hanergy Thin Film Power Group Limited

Renewable Energy CompaniesThis Hong Kong based company is among the new entrants in the sustainable energy industry, with less than ten years under its resume. It specializes in the production of photovoltaic solar modules based on amorphous silicon and copper indium gallium selenide (CIGS) thin film power technologies. In addition, it is also involved in the construction of solar power plants, household systems, rooftop power stations and also engages in the build and sell of commercial systems in the energy niche.

Due to its rapid expansion, the company has done a series of acquisitions including Solibro in Germany, Global Solar Energy (USA) and MiaSole (USA). Hanergy (through its US subsidiary, the Alta Devices) recently came into partnership with the automobile giants, Audi to produce automobile vehicles using solar energy.

The prototype vehicle of this joint partnership integrates the thin film solar technology on the panoramic roof of selected models of the German automaker. The energy generated from the solar is then used to power the electrical system of the vehicle and in the process, improving its performance. This move was aimed at facilitating Audi’s vision of“emission-free premium mobility of the future”.

National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)

National Renewable Energy LaboratoryNational Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) was instituted on July 5, 1977, under the name Solar Energy Research Institute (SERI). The primary goal of SERI was to harness power from the sun. In 1991, the Presidentthen George H. W. Bush elevated the institution to a national laboratory and converted its name to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Since then, the institution has become the primary national laboratory under the US Department of Energy (DOE), which focuses on advancement of clean and renewable energy.

Although NREL is a governmental institution, most of the research is outsourced to private firms. Some of the notable partnerships include Midwest Research Institute (MRIGlobal) and Battelle Memorial Institute. The two firms manage the day to day operations of NREL for the DOE. It also works collectively with academic and research institutions in more than 66 countries all over the world. In addition, it has programs that supports visiting professionals, researchers and student interns to offer their valuable talents and expertise.

With enough funding from the government, NREL functions range from research and development (R&D) to testing, commercialization and deployment. They have since branched out from seeking solutions for clean and renewable energies to scientific and technological solutions, such as chemical and biosciences, scientific computing, material sciences and advanced vehicle technologies. The institution is divided into various arms, each with its own functions. They include:

1. The National Center for Photovoltaics (NCPV)

National Renewable Energy LaboratoryNCPV is a branch of the NREL responsible for improving photovoltaics (PV) modules and systems. Under the SunShot initiative of the DOE, NCPV strives to decrease over-reliance on fossil fuel by increasing the output of solar power and presenting it at a cheaper costthan other sources of energy.This department has successfully managed to increase productionof amorphous silicon based thin film PV modules, while reducing the production costs. This has reduced the cost of solar based electricity from PV panels.

2. National Bioenergy Center

National Bioenergy CenterEstablished in 2000, NBC is a bioenergy research and development arm of the NREL. Its primary goal is to come up with the right technologies toproduce bio-based fuel and energy. It has partnered with other governmental institutions, such as the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), Idaho National Laboratory (INL), Argonne National Laboratory (ANL) and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL). NBC is responsible for extensive researches inbio refineries and biomass conversion technologies.It therefore has vast influence in various industries ranging from food and forest to chemical and bio-technology industries.

3. National Wind Technology Center

National Bioenergy CenterThe National Wind Technology Center (NWTC) is the nation’s main wind-based energy research facility. Located in a 305 acre site on the foothills of South Boulder, Colorado, it is a center of wind test laboratories and field test sites. The primary goal of NWTC is to create the necessary technology that will facilitate wider deployment of wind-based energy at the lowest cost possible.It has more than 20 patents to its name, including FAST software. FAST is an open-source, modular software tool that is used in the design, testing and analysis of wind turbines.

4. Transportation and Hydrogen Systems Research

National Bioenergy CenterTransport and Hydrogen Systems Research is involved in the research and development of affordable, low emission, energy efficient and high performance technologies for passenger and freight transportation. Its main goal is to create innovative infrastructure and fuel needed for the development of electric, fuel cell, hybrid and conventional vehicles. THSR has had ground breaking achievements in its transportation research activities. Some of the notable ones include, discovery of high-octane fuel standard, development of plug-in hybrid electric trucks and development of full integrated systems that are compatible to cars, power grids and other renewable energy sources.

Awards

The institutions exemplary work has been rewarded over the years with a number of awards. It is among the highest recipients of R&D 100 Awards with 61 awards to its name. In 2016 alone, NREL won three awards for the EcoSnap-AC Heat Pump System, Battery Internal Short-Circuit Device and High-Temperature, Wide BandgapUnderhoodInverter.Exceptional individuals in the institution have also been recognized by the scientific community, the government and various agencies for their contribution towards clean and renewable energy initiatives.NREL buildings have also wonvarious awards for their high performance infrastructure.Some of the awards include:

  • The Energy Systems Integration Facility won the LEED Platinum Award (2013).
  • Research and Support Facility won the LEED Platinum Award, U.S. Green Buildings Council (2011).
  • Science and Technology Facility won ASHRAE Technology Award for Institutional Buildings (2008).
  • Integrated Biorefinery Research Facility won the S. Green Buildings Council Gold LEED Rating (2011).
  • South Site Entrance Building won the S. Green Buildings Council Platinum LEED Rating (2013).
  • NREL Café won the S. Green Buildings Council Platinum LEED Rating (2013).