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One of the Most Important Things We Don’t Understand

Long ago, the energy we used to do things like heat and cook came from locally sourced firewood. It was easy to gauge how much we needed and how much we had left. It was hard work to chop and haul that energy source, so folks probably didn’t keep putting wood on the fire when they didn’t need the heat. Now that obtaining energy in the form of electricity is as easy as flipping a switch, we don’t have much reason to think about where it comes from and how it’s made.

How is Electricity Generated? {The Dirt on Green}

According to the World Bank, all but about 1 billion of us have access to electricity. This doesn’t mean there are a billion people without a source of energy – it’s just not in the form of electricity. Those without access, and some with limited access, still rely solely on solid fuels like coal and wood for heating and cooking.

That leaves about 6 billion people, most of whom probably rely on electricity virtually every minute of every day. I recently asked a random assortment of ten people to explain how electricity is generated. The result? All but two of them hadn’t the faintest idea how burning coal, nuclear reactions or spinning wind turbines leads to the electricity that powers our lives. One of the reasons that electricity remains such a mystery is that we don’t need to think about it.

How Much Do We Use?

Six billion people use a lot of electricity. Together, we required the production of over 22,000 terawatt hours (TWh) of electricity in 2011. Tera-what? The metric prefix ‘tera’ indicates a trillion of something. For perspective, it would take just 1 TWh of electricity to light 10 billion 100W light bulbs for an hour.

How is Electricity Generated? {The Dirt on Green}

With a population of a bit over 300 million, Americans comprise 4.45% of the world’s population (US Census Bureau data), yet we consumed 21.5% of the electricity generated worldwide. In 2011, more than half of our electricity came from coal (42%) and natural gas (25%) combustion combined. Especially in the US, the contribution of natural gas is on the rise, bucking the predicted price increase and remaining competitive with coal.

Compared to the world breakdown of fuels, we’re not that far off, except that hydropower comprises a greater proportion of global electricity production (15.8%) than it does in the US (just a few percent).

I’m a Little Teapot, Short and Stout

More than 80% of the world’s electricity is generated through thermal generating systems. Fuels like coal, natural gas, oil and even biomass (like wood and animal waste) are burned in large furnaces. The resulting heat is used to boil water.

The steam travels through boiler pipes where the pressure and speed turns the blades of a turbine. That mechanical energy is converted into electrical energy inside the generator because of the relative rotation between magnets and an electrical conductor.  The resultant electricity is run through transformers before beginning its journey along the electrical grid.

How is Electricity Generated? {The Dirt on Green}

Nuclear power is a mystery to many people, but in simplest terms, nuclear electricity generation is just another way to boil water. When radioactive materials like

Uranium-235 are bombarded with neutrons they split apart in a process called fission. This process releases a tremendous amount of energy in the form of heat. After that, it is the same as burning fossil fuels: the heat boils water, the water turns to steam and steam turns a turbine which is attached to a generator. Voila, electricity! Interestingly, December 10th marked the end of a 20 year program called “Megatons to Megawatts” whereby the United States purchased the uranium from 20,000 retired Russian warheads and processed it for use in power plants. Since 1993, 10% of our electricity supply has come from this material. That’s more than all alternative energy sources combined. Even though we’ve received our last shipment, the uranium from those warheads will be providing Americans with electricity even after 2020.

How is Electricity Generated? {The Dirt on Green}

It is worth noting that a technology called solar thermal electric generation has begun to have an impact on US markets in the past few years. Clustered in the US Southwest, these facilities use various methods to focus the sun’s energy to boil water which generates electricity as described above. Though this technology still occupies a very small share of the market, a recent report by the US Energy Information Administration reports that several new large installations are about to double the electricity generating capacity of this method.

Mother Nature Turns the Turbine

Humans have been using the sun, water and wind as energy sources since the beginning of time, yet they comprise what we call alternative energy. To generate electricity, wind and water turn the turbine directly, skipping the energy-losing step of boiling water, and the rest of the process is the same.

The immense natural power of water can be used to turn a turbine through a variety of methods including channeling through dams, submerging the turbine in an area with predictable tides, using the pressure created by ocean waves, and even small turbines submerged in minimally disturbed rivers and waterfalls. Hydropower is not without problems but continues to comprise a large portion of the renewable energy sector.

Wind power continues to be a rapidly growing source of renewable energy throughout the world. Detailed wind maps are constructed to find locations with adequate non turbulent wind without too many powerful bursts. Installations can be found on mountain ridges, plains, coastlines, and in coastal ocean waters. Wind power is not without controversy. Just last month amidst great controversy, the Federal Register published a decision designed to promote the development of wind power but may lead to an increase in the deaths of golden and bald eagles.

How is Electricity Generated? {The Dirt on Green}

Geothermal electricity generation is another example of using nature to turn that turbine. The United States led the world in geothermal electricity generation last year, providing us with four times as much electricity as solar based methods. These plants use the steam that is produced from heat that occurs naturally a few miles beneath the Earth’s surface in some places.

Photovoltaic cells, what most of us think of as solar power, are unique in that there is no steam or turbine. The special materials used in photovoltaic cells are called semiconductors. When sunlight strikes certain semiconductor materials (e.g., silicon) photons are absorbed and electrons are released. We can then channel these electrons into an electrical current. Materials that do not exhibit this photovoltaic effect just absorb the photons and heat up when struck by sunlight. Technological advancements in semiconductor materials that can be applied in thin layers and still efficiently turn photons into electricity are progressing so rapidly that the IEA predicts photovoltaics will grow more than 11.5% a year through 2040.

The Most Efficient Solution

The energy mix that powers your home with electricity depends on where you live and your utility company. For instance, power companies serving California, Oregon and Washington generate more of their electricity using hydropower than any other single source. In contrast, the primary source for the south atlantic states is coal. As consumers we don’t have much control over our electricity sources, but Amory Lovins, physicist and energy expert, called energy efficiency the world’s biggest untapped energy resource. By using less energy to perform the same task, we are not sacrificing comfort or convenience, simply using less electricity. The justification begins with the money you can save and has far reaching implications. Switching to energy efficient products is easy and EnergyEarth is here to help.

Dawn Richards of EnergyEarth

© 2014 Energy Earth LLC. All Rights Reserved

Sources:

http://www.iea.org/publications/freepublications/publication/KeyWorld2013.pdf

http://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.cfm?id=13791

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/15/business/international/last-shipment-of-nuclear-fuel-from-russian-bombs-heads-to-us.html?_r=0

http://phys.org/news/2013-12-solar-power-sector-small.html#jCp

http://energycommerce.house.gov/press-release/subcommittee-examines-role-diverse-electricity-generation-portfolio

http://keshefoundation.org/image/keshe_generator/Electricity_Production_400.jpg

Deciding on resolutions can be hard, but sticking to them can be even harder. Make resolutions that you can actually keep this year by pledging to go green with these 5 easy ideas to help you save all year long!

1. Switch Your Light Bulb

5 Easy Energy Saving New Year’s Resolutions

Replacing your light bulbs with energy efficient LEDs and CFLs is an easy change. Despite all the jokes, it takes only one person to change a light bulb — and since LEDs and CFLs last significantly longer (up to 50 times longer!) than traditional bulbs, you’ll be saving time for years down the road while drastically cutting your energy use. Order your bulbs from us and we’ll deliver them straight to your front door.

2. Eliminate Vampire Power

5 Easy Energy Saving New Year’s Resolutions

Use energy saving power strips to turn off all your electronics at once! Put your entire entertainment system or home office on a smart power strip and they’ll automatically shut off when not in use with just one click. You could cut your energy bill by around 10% — without lifting a finger!1.       Reduce Water Usage

3.       Reduce Water Usage

5 Easy Energy Saving New Year’s Resolutions

Using a water efficient shower head can save you money in more ways than one. They’re inexpensive, easy to install, and can save you up to 750 gallons a month. On top of that, they’ll save you around $120 each year in related energy costs! Smart, easy and it only takes about 5 minutes: just unscrew the old one and replace it with your new, money saving model.

4.       Weatherize Your Home

5 Easy Energy Saving New Year’s Resolutions

Keeping an airtight house is important to saving money throughout the year. Maximize your heating and cooling system by sealing cracks with caulk and foam sealant and weather stripping to stop air leaks, eliminate energy loss and prevent damage from water leaks and pest infiltration. Plus, you’ll reduce outside noise inside your home just by sealing those pesky cracks and gaps that let that noise inside.

5.       Go Eco Outside

5 Easy Energy Saving New Year’s Resolutions

There are a lot of benefits to owning a rain barrel. For one, rainwater is a relatively clean and absolutely free source of water! Why not put it to good use? Rainwater is better for lawns, gives you greater control over your water supply, can reduce area erosion and provides an excellent backup source of water in case of an emergency, just to name a few.

—The EnergyEarth Team

© 2014 Energy Earth LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Does Green Need to Cost More?

December 3rd, 2013 | Posted by EnergyEarth in Green Tips - (0 Comments)

Does Green Need to Cost More? {The Dirt on Green}

No, It Doesn’t.

Too often going green is thought of as a choice made by only hippies or the wealthy. The good news is that going green doesn’t mean you have to drive a hybrid car or shop at a fancy health food store in your organic cotton, fair trade Recycle or Bust! t-shirt.

Think for a moment about the original green advocates: your grandparents or great grandparents. Living in the shadow of the Great Depression, they were incredibly frugal – which coincided perfectly with green.  So many of the things they did to save water, electricity and money make great lessons for us today.

Change a Few Habits and Think Long Term

The key is to recycle, reuse, upcycle and reduce waste in every area of your life – not just your plastic bottles and junk mail. There are plenty of free and inexpensive ways to go green all around you.

Does Green Need to Cost More? {The Dirt on Green}

Save: Water

The least expensive way to reduce water consumption is through better habits!

–          Don’t let it run!

–          Stop leaks

–          Don’t over water gardens and lawns

–          Use less hot water

–          Find out where your water comes from

A small investment in a few simple devices will save you in the long term.

–          Faucet aerators

–          Low flow shower heads

–          Rain barrels (see our previous article about how much they can save you!)

Does Green Need to Cost More? {The Dirt on Green}

Save: Electricity

The best way to use less electricity is by changing your habits!

–          Turn off your lights when they’re not in use

–          Turn off devices when not in use

–          Adjust your thermostat

Plus, get a few helpful devices. A small investment upfront will save you in the long term.

–          Motion control light switches

–          Energy efficient lighting

–          Smart power switches

–          Improve insulation

–          Programmable thermostats

Does Green Need to Cost More? {The Dirt on Green}

Save: Upcycling

–          Reuse old clothes

–          Find new purposes for forgotten items

–          Donate unwanted items to a local charity

Does Green Need to Cost More? {The Dirt on Green}

Save: Real Estate

Green building doesn’t need to cost more.

–          Going green actually increases real estate value

–          ENERGY STAR® certification can increase your home’s market value

Does Green Need to Cost More? {The Dirt on Green}

More Ways to Save

–          Grow some of your own food

–          Hang dry your clothes

–          Make your own green cleaning products

–          Drink your tap water instead of buying bottles

–          Increase your fuel efficiency

What’s your favorite way to save? Tell us in the comments!

—The EnergyEarth Team

© 2013 Energy Earth LLC. All Rights Reserved.

We live on the Blue Planet, yet less than 1% of Earth’s water is available for human use. Still, an average American household uses 400 gallons a day, costing well over $300 a year1. The American Waterworks Association blames persistent droughts and infrastructure upgrades for the forecast that our water bills are going to double or triple in the next 25 years.

So where does our water come from? According to the US EPA2, about 90% of Americans use municipal water, with 34% being supplied with treated groundwater and 66% supplied with surface water3. The remaining 10% of Americans get their water from domestic wells.

Ground water is considered by some to be the Nation’s most important natural resource due to our heavy reliance on it for agriculture and municipal water supplies.  Municipally treated groundwater and domestic wells typically use water that is stored in porous geologic formations called aquifers.  When it rains on land, the water that doesn’t stay on the surface soaks into the ground and may be trapped in aquifers.  While some of this important resource (30% of the world’s fresh water!) consists of that recent rainwater, much of it is called ‘fossil water’ and has taken millions of years to accumulate.  Don’t think about aquifers as flowing underground rivers though, since most of them are more like saturated sponges.

Where Household Water Comes From {The Dirt on Green}

Surface Water: Even more of our household water comes from rivers, lakes and reservoirs that hold rainwater and surface runoff until we are ready to use it. The land over which this water drains is called a watershed. These areas of land can encompass many states for large river systems. For instance, the Mississippi River watershed includes parts of 31 states and 2 Canadian provinces. The largest US reservoir, Lake Mead, gathers snow melt from Colorado, Wyoming and Utah and supplies millions of people with water in the southwestern United States.

Where Household Water Comes From {The Dirt on Green}

Water wars rage on! Since miners and settlers rushed to the dry, dry west, water diversion has been a problem. With the continual decline in Colorado River reservoirs and growing populations, it’s not getting any easier. Even in the southeast where rainwater is plentiful, Georgia and Tennessee have been arguing over their border for 200 years. A tiny one-mile strip of land could swing an estimated 1.6 billion gallons of Georgia runoff away from Tennessee and toward thirsty Atlanta4.

Where does my water come from and how do I know if it’s safe? The best way to learn about your drinking water is to contact your local utility. They can tell you about the source of the water and how they treat it.

Unless you are supplied with water by your own well, you should be supplied with a short report (consumer confidence report or drinking water quality report) from your water supplier by July 1st each year. These reports are easy to read, clearly define what they measure, and have a clear “Violation” or “Compliance” column that indicates if your water meets government standards.  Mine looks like this:

Where Household Water Comes From {The Dirt on Green}

Another option is to use this interactive map from the EPA . In all cases, once your supplier draws water from a river, reservoir or groundwater, the water is treated to meet federal and state standards established by the Safe Drinking Water Act.

Should I drink bottled water instead? About half of all bottled water may just come from someone else’s tap! There is no guarantee that it’s cleaner than tap water, and it probably doesn’t taste any different. You’re just paying for the convenience of having it packaged in that tiny bottle. Americans buy billions of gallons of bottled water each year, and according to the American Water Works Association, we are paying about $7.50 per gallon for single servings of bottled water – that’s about 2000 times the cost of tap water and twice that of gasoline!

Where Household Water Comes From {The Dirt on Green}

Do I really need to turn off the water while I brush my teeth? For those of us who live in rainy parts of the country it’s hard to imagine ever running out of water. The US Drought Monitor has an interesting tool where you can see weekly and seasonal drought predictions. I’ll admit I was shocked to see how much of our country is experiencing severe and extreme drought! Many of the states in the colored regions are implementing drought management strategies for agriculture, industry and municipal water systems.

How can I use less water and save money? You may not be surprised that the top three uses of household water in the US are toilets, washing clothes and taking showers – in that order. But did you know that the biggest savings comes from using less hot water?

Where Household Water Comes From {The Dirt on Green}

So what can you do? Americans use more household water flushing toilets than anything else. Newer toilets with a dual flush mode, like those described at EPA Watersense, do the job while allowing you to be a bit more discerning about the size of the flush. Where a new toilet isn’t feasible, you can install a simple and inexpensive toilet tank bag to reduce the size of your flush without sacrificing power.

The second highest water use is for washing clothes. Other than being more selective about what you put in the laundry basket, the best thing to do is to upgrade to an ENERGYSTAR qualified washing machine when it’s time for a new one.

If you really want to see a major savings in your water bill and your electric bill, make the switch to awater saving shower head. Since water heating can comprise more than 15% of your electric bill5, and showering is the third highest water use, you’ll see immediate results!

If you’re really serious about saving money on water and electricity, check out products like faucet aerators, outdoor water saving devices, rain barrels, water heater accessories and much more at www.energyearth.com.

— Dawn Richards of EnergyEarth

© 2013 Energy Earth LLC. All Rights Reserved.

 Sources:

1. http://www.awwa.org/

2. http://water.epa.gov/infrastructure/drinkingwater/pws/index.cfm

3. http://pubs.usgs.gov/circ/1344/pdf/c1344.pdf

4. http://blogs.ajc.com/atlanta-forward/2013/04/18/georgia-tennessee-water-dispute/

5. www.eia.gov

Why is Recycling CFLs Important?

Recycling compact fluorescent light bulbs prevents the release of mercury into the environment. CFLs and other fluorescent bulbs can break when thrown into a dumpster, garbage can or landfill.

On top of that, almost all of the materials in CFLs can be reused, including the glass, metals and other materials that make up fluorescent lights.

How Do I Recycle My Old CFL Bulbs? {The Dirt on Green}

Recycling CFLs is not only better for the environment, some state and local jurisdictions require it. Simply contact your local waste collection agency to find out if you live in a city, county or state that requires you to recycle fluorescent bulbs. While we don’t have an exhaustive list, we do know that the following states prohibit mercury-containing light bulbs from being thrown in the trash:

Where and How Can I Recycle CFLs?

How Do I Recycle My Old CFL Bulbs? {The Dirt on Green}

Make an Informed Decision.

Mail-back services are the easiest choice to make when recycling CFLs. Prepaid boxes from Veolia work all of the time, every time and can be mailed back any time, whenever you’re ready.

Visit Earth911 to find collection schedules or drop-off locations in your area. When making your decision about what choice is best for you, note that waste collection agencies:

  • Are usually free, while some charge a fee to handle hazardous materials
  • Sometimes collect household hazardous materials only once or twice a year
  • May also collect paints, pesticides, cleaning supplies or batteries
  • Usually accept waste from residents only – not small businesses

Many hardware supply stores and other retailers offer in-store recycling. Make sure you check directly with the store before you go; not all stores in regional or nationwide chains may be equipped to recycle.

—The EnergyEarth Team

© 2013 Energy Earth LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Sources:

http://www2.epa.gov/cfl/recycling-and-disposal-after-cfl-burns-out#important

http://www2.epa.gov/cfl/recycling-and-disposal-after-cfl-burns-out#whererecycle

It’s fall and cooler temperatures are just around the corner, if they haven’t already settled in your area.  So what can you do to prepare for the winter so the cold temperatures don’t take a bite out of your budget?

10 Fall Weatherization Tips to Keep the Cold Out {The Dirt on Green}

Keep the Cold Out

Did your energy audit reveal that you need better insulation? If so, prepare early so you aren’t caught off guard by the cool weather.

1. Sealing and insulating the exterior of your home — its outer walls, ceiling, windows, doors and floors — is one of the most cost effective way to improve your home’s energy efficiency and comfort. ENERGY STAR estimates that you can save up to 20% on heating and cooling costs (or up to 10% of your energy bill) just by sealing and insulating. Here are a few easy ways you can save:

  • Caulking drafty windows and door frames is a great way to eliminate the energy lost through these spaces. For hints on using rope caulk, check out our post all about what it does and how to use it. Keep in mind that rope caulk is most easily applied before it gets too cold, so you’ll want to do this right away!
  • Check under your sinks, in your bathrooms, in basements and other areas for places where pipes and vents go through the floor, wall or ceiling. If you need additional help, consider purchasing a handheld leak detector. You may have gaps that could be letting cold air in and your warm air out that you don’t even know about! These gaps are easily sealed with rope or traditional caulk.
  • Easy-to-apply weather stripping can keep drafts from coming through door jambs and window sashes.
  • Foam switch and outlet gaskets are easy to install (requiring just a screw driver!) and can eliminate leaky outlets and switches, especially on exterior walls.

10 Fall Weatherization Tips to Keep the Cold Out {The Dirt on Green}

2. Seal ducts. Sealing air ducts can dramatically improve the efficiency of a heating and cooling system. Unsealed ducts typically leak about 10-15% of the conditioned air flowing through the ducts while pulling unwanted air into the conditioned parts of your house. This creates pressure differentials, exacerbating air leak problems.

    • Adhesive sealant: Mastic fibrous sealant is used for coating thermal insulation on pipes and ducts and sealing uninsulated ducts.
    • Aluminum tape: Aluminum tape is a much more effective and long-lasting way to seal sheet metal heating ducts than duct tape. And, if you forget to seal drafts until it gets cold, aluminum tape can be applied in cold temperatures and is very tolerant of temperature extremes.
    • Duct shields: Central air conditioner draft shields and covers are an effective means of keep cold air from entering your home through air conditioning ducts during the winter than covering them with tape, blankets or cardboard or closing the louvers.

3. Prevent chimney drafts. Chimney balloons are inflatable, tight-sealing chimney dampers made of 3-ply poly plastic that stops uncontrolled air leaks.

4. Make the switch to a programmable thermostat. Never forget to adjust the thermostat while you’re away and save around the clock with these a few simple setting. For more information, check out our previous post on how to set your programmable thermostat to save the most money while staying comfortable.

5. If you need to heat a single room, consider using a space heater. A portable space heater can comfortably heat a single room quickly and without using energy to heat your entire home.

6. Clean your filters. Dirty air filters force your heating system to work harder than necessary, wasting electricity and taking longer to reach a comfortable temperature.   This is because the airflow is restricted by dust and debris caught by the filter. Can’t remember to change your filters? Install an air filter whistle to remind you that the filter is dirty and needs to be changed.

If you’re in the market for a new heating system, be sure to consider an energy efficient furnace that is ENERGY STAR qualified. Be sure to check out information on rebates available in your area, too!

10 Fall Weatherization Tips to Keep the Cold Out {The Dirt on Green}

Change Your Habits

7. Wear a sweater. For every degree you turn down your thermostat, you can save 3-5% on heating costs.

8. Turn down the thermostat when you are away. The best approach is to use a programmable thermostat.  You’ll never forget!

9. Let the sun heat your home during the day.  Open your blinds and curtains during the day and close them at sundown for insulation.

10. Is your desk or couch next to a drafty window?  First try sealing your window (see above).  If you’re still not warm enough, rearrange the room so you’re not sitting in a drafty area.

So there you have it. Weatherize your home before the cold weather moves in and save all year round!

—The EnergyEarth Team

© 2013 Energy Earth LLC. All Rights Reserved.

If you’ve been watching the weather reports – or even looking outside your window – you know that rainfall has been very unusual this year. According to the NCDC, “the nationally averaged precipitation total for July was 3.47 inches—0.71 inch above the 20th century average—making it the fifth wettest July on record for the United States. July brought both wet and dry precipitation extremes to the nation. The Northwest and Upper Mississippi River Valley were drier than average, while most other locations had above-average precipitation.”

Depending on where you live, you’ve probably had either too much rain this summer or too little – or a combination of both at different times. If your area has been too wet, you may have experienced flooding in your yard or washout from your gutters. If it’s been too dry, you’ve probably used a lot of water on your yard and garden. Conversely, if you’ve had a lot of rain, you might have flooding and washout. Rainfall patterns can change in just a few days – save that precious water, reduce your utility bills and be prepared all weather conditions by collecting rainfall for future use with a rain barrel.

Free Water: Everyday Benefits of Owning a Rain Barrel {The Dirt on Green}

What is a rain barrel?

Rain barrels are large receptacles placed under gutter downspouts next to a house to collect rain water from the roof and typically hold about 40-90 gallons.

What can I use the water for?

The collected water can be used to water gardens and yards, as well as for other non-potable (non-drinkable) uses such as flushing toilets or watering indoor plants. Harvesting rain water has many benefits including reducing utility water use, saving money on your utility bills, preventing basement flooding and keeping your lawn and garden greener. By collecting rain water, you are also helping to reduce flooding and pollution in local waterways.

How much can I collect?

 Some areas of the US have restrictions on how much water you can collect, so be sure and check with your city or county and state governments for the legislations in your area.

Free Water: Everyday Benefits of Owning a Rain Barrel {The Dirt on Green}

An estimated 9 billion gallons of water are used to water lawns and gardens each day in the US with most it coming from potable sources. Rainwater harvesting is a great way to conserve water, protect the environment, prevent flooding and have a consistent supply of water for outdoor and some indoor use.

Rain barrels are a great way to save money and help the environment – some areas even offer a rebate to reward you for your efforts! Check out our wide selection of rain water storage systems and start saving today!

—The EnergyEarth Team

© 2013 Energy Earth LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Sources:

http://water.rutgers.edu/Stormwater_Management/rainbarrels.html

http://earth911.com/news/2009/07/03/colorado-bill-legalizes-rainwater-harvesting/

http://science.opposingviews.com/budget-rain-barrel-23684.html

 

How do solar lights work? They convert sunlight to energy, store it in a battery and release it at night.

More specifically, outdoor solar lights use standard solar cells in a very straightforward application: solar cell produces varying voltage and current depending on the size of the cell and the amount of light striking the surface. The solar cells are wired directly to the battery through a diode (which prevents the battery’s current from flowing back through the solar cell at night). During the day, the battery charges, reaching maximum charge except on heavily overcast or shorter winter days, and at night the solar cells stop producing power and the photo resistor turns on the LED. Simple as that!

Take Advantage of Free Power with Solar Devices! {The Dirt on Green}

Gama Sonic Solar Spot Light

Why go solar? It’s free light when and where you need it!

Power outages: Storms like Hurricane Sandy can unexpectedly leave you without power. One great way to shed some light is to bring your outdoor lights inside when the power is out!

Security lights may be even more critical during extended periods of power failure. Even if you have evacuated because your power is out, your solar security lights will still illuminate your home and help to keep it safe.

Hands-off: Long lasting solar lights use LED bulbs that last up to 50,000 hours or longer, meaning you won’t need to worry about replacing the bulb. Since it’s not using electricity that you’re paying for, you don’t need to worry about turning off the lights either.

No wires: More options for placement and much easier to install.

Take Advantage of Free Power with Solar Devices! {The Dirt on Green}

Heath/Zenith Solar Security Light

What type is best for you?

–          Ambient — Solar powered lights placed around gardens provide the type of illumination that tastefully emphasizes the presence of flowerbeds and garden paths.

–          Spotlighting —Solar spotlights directs the eye’s attention to a highlight in the garden or the front door. Numerous focal points can create a well-lit and attractive backdrop for parties and entertaining.

–          Functional lighting — Steps, walkways and driveways need to be illuminated for safety after dark. Choose light fixtures that cast their glow downward so that the majority of the light falls on the walkway.

Can these lights last all night?

Yes! The solar lights we offer can illuminate your yard from sunset to sunrise, if needed. Lights have continuous illumination power 2-10 hours and have varying on/off switching methods. Choose lighting with photo sensors or motion sensors for highest level of efficiency!

Take Advantage of Free Power with Solar Devices! {The Dirt on Green}

Brinkmann Sierra Solar Light

5 Tips for Smart and Easy Installation

  1. Decide on the area of your home or yard that receives plenty of sunlight.
  2. Decide on the style of fixture you want to use.
  3. If you need solar lights for a shaded or indoor area, some lights operate on a small system allowing you to install a solar panel on your roof or other sunny area.
  4. For ground lighting, position lights in a line or circle by placing them closer together instead of further apart to create a more effective lighting system.
  5. All of the solar lighting options we offer are easy to install. Simply push them into the ground or attach them to your patio or wall and you’re done!

—The EnergyEarth Team

© 2013 Energy Earth LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Sources:

http://home.howstuffworks.com/solar-light.htm

http://www.backwoodshome.com/articles2/yago141.html

http://energy.gov/energysaver/articles/summer-loving-energy-efficient-outdoor-lighting

http://voices.yahoo.com/basic-solar-landscape-lightingsecrets-professionals-11979997.html

http://www.wikihow.com/Landscape-With-Solar-Lighting  

Knock on Wood – Driftwood Art by Jeffro Uitto {The Dirt on Green}

Knock on Wood – Driftwood Art by Jeffro Uitto {The Dirt on Green}

Knock on Wood – Driftwood Art by Jeffro Uitto {The Dirt on Green}

Knock on Wood – Driftwood Art by Jeffro Uitto {The Dirt on Green}

Knock on Wood – Driftwood Art by Jeffro Uitto {The Dirt on Green}

Knock on Wood – Driftwood Art by Jeffro Uitto {The Dirt on Green}

We think upcycled and recycled art is always awesome, but sometimes it’s truly amazing what can be done with one man’s trash. This is one of those times.

Located on the Washington coast, Jeffro Uitto’s Tokeland, Washington, studio, Knock on Wood is a place where nature’s leftovers are given a grand new life.

Uitto has been creating with wood, his favorite medium, since high school. Most of Uitto’s tools are hand made by the artist himself and are works of art in their own rite. Uitto doesn’t work with the perfectly cut, smooth wood from a lumber mill or a hardware store, though – each piece is found and rescued from the shores of Tokeland, WA, the banks of Smith Creek or the valleys between the Willapa Hills. The varied and unique sticks, slabs and roots are cured and crafted into beautiful works of art.

Every project is given the same meticulous construction, be it a tiny rose bud made from cedar shavings or a imposing, commissioned sculpture. Not everything is built right in the shop – Uitto has often worked on location to build creations in places like Alaska, Hawaii and more.

Undoubtedly, Uitto has a creative fire that burns hot, fueling his brilliant sculptures and figures that is clearly translated to the viewer through his work. For more information about purchasing or commissioning a project, contact the artist directly.

—The EnergyEarth Team

© 2013 Energy Earth LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Cherry Tree Branch

Allergy season is upon us. Whether or not it has hit your area yet, one thing is certain: it’s coming, and if you have allergies, it’s coming for you.

Soon, the dreaded yellow particles will be coating every available surface, making it impossible to avoid! Here are some great tips to help you get through allergy season without sneezing from dawn ‘til dusk.

Pollen on Car Roof

1. Take an antihistamine at least 30 minutes before going outside.

2. Minimize outdoor activity when pollen counts are high. Peak pollen times are usually between 10am and 4pm. You can even check out your area’s pollen count for the day and plan accordingly!

3. Keep windows closed and seal any air leaks you may have around windows or doors. You’ll keep pollen out and save on your utility bills!

4. Thoroughly clean you home – you’d be surprised how much pollen and dust can collect on surfaces in no time.

5. Wash bedding regularly.

6. Invest in an energy efficient air purifier to keep your home’s air clean and refreshing.

7. Take a shower before bed – you’ll sleep better without pollen on you!

8. Bathe your pets frequently and keep them off of furniture, if possible. Pollen can cling to your dog or cat’s fur and get tracked indoors.

Tissues and Box

We hope these tips help you and loved ones have a happy and healthy spring season, no matter the pollen count!

—The EnergyEarth Team

© 2013 Energy Earth LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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