Friday, January 23, 2015

Solar Power is Now a Sensible Investment

Pictured: Sense

Think solar is a poor investment? Guess again.
A new study by the NC Clean Energy Technology Center finds that in all but 4 of the 50 largest cities in the U.S., installing a fully-financed 5 kilowatt solar panel system makes more financial sense than investing in a popular stock market index fund. Further, the same system would beat the costs of buying energy from local utilities in 42 of those 50 cities.
“(S)olar is now not just an option for the rich, but a real opportunity for anyone looking to take greater control over their monthly utility bills and make a long-term, relatively low-risk investment,” concludes the study which was done under funding by the U.S. Department of Energy.
A key qualifier in this good news study is that the benefits of installing residential solar photovoltaic systems are greatest when homeowners finance the systems (at an assumed annual interest rate of 5 percent) rather than buying them upfront. And the study does not investigate the availability of such loans. The study finds that in upfront purchases of solar, residents in just 14 out of the 50 largest U.S. cities would pay less for electricity than if they buy from their local utility. That upfront investment would be a better investment than the broad stock market index fund in 20 of the 50 cities.
Among the factors that make residential solar PV a more and more attractive option are the rapidly falling costs of purchasing and installing solar components, the projections for increased costs of buying electricity from utilities in the years ahead, and the range of financial incentives offered by the federal and state governments and by utilities looking to meet requirements that they get a set percentage of their power from renewable sources.
In the last 15 years, the median cost of residential solar has fallen to $4.70 per watt from $12 a watt, according to the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. And the cost has fallen further in 2014, to between $3.70 a watt and $4.24, according to EnergySage.
A recent study by Deutsche Bank predicts that solar will reach grid parity (a cost equal to or less than grid-supplied electricity) in all 50 states by 2016.
Looking at the levelized cost of energy for solar PV systems (the average cost per kilowatt over the expected 25-year life span), the NC Clean Energy Technology Center’s study found that nearly 21 million homeowners in 42 of the nation’s largest cities would save money with financed solar systems over getting their power from the grid. More than 9 million homeowners in 14 of the cities would save money even if they pay upfront for solar systems.
For average homeowners, the study concludes, “solar can generate both significant monthly savings and long-term investment value, and not infrequently, cost less than energy from some of America’s largest electric utilities.”

This article was originally posted on Think Progress. You can find the original article by clicking this link.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Living Green: Fun for the whole family!

“Healthy families create the appropriate environment for sustainable physical, emotional and social development. It is within the family structure that the culture of caring is instituted and valuable norms and values are taught”.


Crabtree Farm is a non-profit organization connecting Chattanoogans to our local food shed. Programs at Crabtree Farms include an urban farm, outreach training series, a CSA program, and educational opportunities including internships & volunteering. We offer field trips and farm tours for individuals, schools & organizations. From late June through July, we offer "U-Pick": blackberries & blueberries. Anyone is welcome to visit the farm and pick their own fruits!

In 1998, Thomas O'Neal founded Signal Mountain Farm with a quarter acre garden and home deliveries to family and friends. His goal was to cultivate the highest quality Certified Organic produce in the region. Signal Mountain Farm now grows over 60 varieties of fruits and vegetables—from specialty lettuces, sweet peppers, and blueberries to their prized heirloom tomatoes

The Chattanooga Arboretum and Nature Center at Reflection Riding has been living and teaching the principles of conservation, even before “being green” in the Tennessee Valley was the popular thing to do. Over thirty years ago, a group of far-sighted individuals had a dream to bring nature into the lives of every Chattanooga citizen—from school children, to families, to senior citizens. This committed group, under the direction of the Junior League of Chattanooga and with the help of generous donors, built a nature center using the most innovative, sustainable design available at that time. Their goal was to inspire people, not only with wonders of the natural world, but also with the knowledge necessary to preserve nature for future generations.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Use this when making your next grocery list!

We love buying organic. Not only is it smart to reduce your exposure to toxic chemicals, but picking organic also supports environmentally friendly farming practices. Whole Foods Market in Chattanooga brings the very best and freshest pesticide and GMO free foods to you and family.

Organics are typically more expensive than conventional produce, so make the most of your grocery budget by choosing organic versions of the fruits and veggies that are most heavily contaminated.
The 2013 Dirty Dozen

The 12 fruits and vegetables found to be most contaminated. Whenever possible, buy these organic.

1. Apples

2. Celery

3. Cherry tomatoes

4. Cucumbers

5. Grapes

6. Hot peppers

7. Nectarines – imported

8. Peaches

9. Potatoes

10. Spinach

11. Strawberries

12. Sweet bell peppers

We understand that total organic living can be difficult and some times expensive, use the list's above and below next time your making your grocery list.
The 2013 Clean Fifteen

The fruits and vegetables found to be the least contaminated. It’s okay to buy the conventional, non-organic varieties.

1. Asparagus

2. Avocados

3. Cabbage

4. Cantaloupes

5. Sweet corn

6. Eggplants

7. Grapefruits

8. Kiwis

9. Mangos

10. Mushrooms

11. Onions

12. Papayas

13. Pineapples

14. Sweet peas – frozen

15. Sweet potatoes

Friday, March 14, 2014

Mountain Bikers Rejoice!

This may not come as a surprise, or it might come as a surprise (I really have no idea how you'll react) but Chattanooga is a really good area to go mountain biking.

According to the Chattanooga Times Free Press, reporting for mountain biking blog Singletracks, the Chattanooga, TN area made the Top 10 list of their best places to go mountain biking in the US.

There's a trail up there...somewhere.
Keep in mind that this list was not necessarily based on which area had the largest mountains or anything like that. Rather, it was compiled based on the biking culture and infrastructure already present in each entry. And though it was number 10 on the list, also keep in mind that the entries were chosen from the 100 largest metro areas in the US. So though that excluded some smaller towns with lots of trails and enthusiasts, that is still a lot of areas to rank. So the be included at all really does put Chattanooga ahead of a lot of other places. 

Click here to see the Times Free Press article, and here to see the original article from Singletracks.

Friday, March 7, 2014

A Nifty Map for your Consideration

Maps are useful. They are a great way to synthesize knowledge and information, and present it in such a way that is both accessible to millions and easily understood. And with the increasing number of people getting most of their information from the internet, maps and infographics have become even more commonplace.

The Americas hadn't been invented yet.

Fascinating. More to the point, here's a map presenting a state by state breakdown of incentives for renewable energy. While not the most exhaustive source, it is interesting nonetheless and well worth a look. It's an interactive map, so you'll have to click on the state you want to know more about.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Prepping Your Home for ALL the Seasons

I don't think anyone would argue that one of the simplest (and least expensive in the long run) ways to live a greener life is to make sure that your home is as efficient as possible when it comes to fulfilling its primary purpose: providing a climate controlled shelter for you and/or your family.

Though #Snowpocalypse2014 may be behind us here in Chattanooga (maybe), that simply means that Spring and Summer are on their way, followed by plenty of heat and humidity.

Appropriate slogan is appropriate.

To find out tips about how you can prep your home for ALL seasonal conditions, take a look at this article over at The Real Estate Book, a forum for discussion about real estate.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014


AP Energy Writer

NEW YORK — After two years of flat or lower fuel prices, many residents will pay sharply more to heat their homes this winter, according to government forecasts out in early Ocotober. There are a number of ways residents can blunt the expected rise in heating bills — beyond putting on a turtleneck.

Think of the sun as a heater, and your drapes as a blanket: Open drapes when you are getting direct sunlight, then close them at night to keep heat from escaping.

Make sure the damper in your fireplace is closed when you aren't using it.

Keep air vents clean and uncovered so heat can easily flow throughout your home.

Shut off kitchen fans and bathroom fans as soon as they are no longer needed.

It takes more energy to heat water in cold weather. You can lower the temperature of your water heater a bit and still get a hot shower, and use cold water to do laundry and rinse dishes. Also, insulate pipes that move hot water around the house. Click here to read the full Article by Jonathan Fahey