By Tim Smith
Solar panels harness the sun’s electromagnetic rays, converting them into electricity you can use to power your home. If the environment is a concern to you, getting solar panels is probably an exciting possibility. The concept that you could provide power for yourself with a renewable resource is wonderful, and we all love the idea of saving money. Is the reality of solar power really as great as it sounds?
How much will You Have to Invest?
Solar panels will save you money, but they also require an initial investment. The cost will depend on the size of the system you choose and the demand in your local area. Systems can range from below $10,000 to over $35,000 for a very large home, but the prices are dropping all the time. It’s a good idea to spend some time tracking your energy usage to figure out how big of a system you will need to get.
If you want solar panels but can’t afford a large initial investment, you can purchase a smaller system and go from there. You may not produce enough electricity to cover your entire bill, but even a low-cost system can cut the price quite a bit, especially if you get a lot of sun and are conservative with your energy usage.
How much can You Expect to Save?
Statistics from 2011 showed that homeowners in sunny areas could save up to $35,000 over a 20-year period if they had a full system of solar panels installed. Since then, energy prices have gone up, making the savings even higher today.
Not only will you be saving a lot, but you’ll also be spared the burden of continually rising electricity costs in the future. The sun will always be free, and once you have the technology in place, you can take advantage of that indefinitely. As those who are getting their power from the grid are worrying and complaining about their energy bills, you will be able to sit back and relax.
What About Other Incentives?
If you are a taxpayer in the United States, and you purchase a system of solar panels for your home, a number of different rebates may be available. You will qualify for a 30 percent federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC). If you want to determine how much money you will save with the ITC, take the net cost of your solar installation and subtract what you saved from any rebates you earned. Calculate 30 percent of that amount, and that will be your credit. In 2009, the $2000 limit on this credit was removed, making it possible for homeowners to save even more.
There may also be state and local rebates available to you. The best way to ensure that you qualify is to have your system installed by a team of professionals with a strong knowledge the required codes and regulations. This could possibly save you up to 50 percent of your initial installation cost.
Will Solar Power Pay off in Other Ways?
There is even more good news. In 2011, a group of economists from California gathered statistics that show that solar panels add around $20,000 to the sales price of a home. Homes also sell twice as fast and appreciate at a quicker rate when equipped with a solar-panel system. As energy bills rise, it will become an even more valuable home feature.
On top of all of the money-saving benefits of solar power, there is always the peace of mind that comes from knowing you're doing something wonderful for the environment. Whether you plan to sell your home or keep it in the family for generations to come, solar panels are a great investment in a happy future.
Visit Modernize for more ideas, information, and tips about taking avantage of solar energy.
[Source: This Week Community Paper]
Goodwill Columbus and Ohio State University's Office of Student Life have partnered to give students a way to responsibly dispose of their unwanted materials as the fall semester ends.
The BuckeyeClothesOut encourages students to place clothing, household goods and electronics in one of 24 bins set up on or near campus.
"We always see that students have a lot of things to dispose of at the end of a semester," said Dave Isaacs, manager of communications and media relations at the Office of Student Life. "We're trying to reduce the amount of that material that winds up getting dumped at the landfill."
The President and Provost's Council on Sustainability has approved a goal to divert 90 percent of the university's materials from the landfill by 2030, he said.
For the BuckeyeClothesOut, students are encouraged to place their unwanted items in one of the marked, unmanned donation bins, Isaacs said.
"We've put the bins in many of our residence halls and in other prominent locations on or near campus," he said.
The university has informed students of the project through social media and posting signs around campus, Isaacs said.
"We expect as students complete their final exams and begin leaving campus that we'll start to see a lot of material being put in the bins," he said.
For Goodwill, the partnership will help provide additional items it can sell in its retail stores or recycle, said Tim Salvato, senior vice president of retail operations.
"A lot of the items students will donate will be in good enough condition that we can sell them in our stores," he said. "Electronics that are not salvageable or clothes that have a rip in them, we can still use to recycle."
In 2013, Goodwill's donated-goods retail business generated $9.2 million for its annual budget, Salvato said. Goodwill recycled 5.9 million pounds of donated goods not sold in stores, generating another $1.2 million.
"Put together, those funds represent about 25 percent of our overall budget," he said. "Our retail stores and recycling program help us fulfill our 75-year mission of transforming the lives of individuals with disabilities and other barriers."
Anyone can donate goods to Goodwill at any of its six retail stores and 14 donation centers located throughout central Ohio, Salvato said.
For more information about the donation program and Goodwill's retail stores, visit goodwillcolumbus.org.
For Immediate Release
November 24, 2014
For More Information:
John Ivanic, City Council, 645-6798
Hanna Greer-Brown, Franklin County Board of Commissioners, 525-5848
Councilmember Priscilla Tyson is partnering with the Franklin County Board of Commissioners and Local Matters, a non-profit transforming the Central Ohio food system through food education, to launch the Columbus – Franklin County Food Action Plan, a community effort to create a stronger, more sustainable local food system. Columbus City Council will consider legislation to provide city funding for the plan at its November 24th meeting.
“The Columbus – Franklin County Food Action Plan will help Central Ohioans lead healthier lives by improving their access to quality, affordable foods,” said Councilmember Tyson, chair of the Health and Human Services Committee. “The plan will also help reduce food waste and enhance coordination and communication among existing food resources and agencies in our community.”
The Columbus – Franklin County Food Action Plan will include data collection and the analysis of food supply and demand in Columbus and Franklin County. The plan will incorporate the input of local food experts and stakeholder groups to develop recommendations that will make it easier for Columbus residents to access nutritious foods.
County Commissioner John O’Grady will attend the November 24th Columbus City Council meeting to speak about the need for a comprehensive plan to increase the availability of nutritious food in Central Ohio. Councilmember Tyson will address the Franklin County Board of Commissioners at their November 25th meeting to discuss Council’s goals for the Columbus – Franklin County Food Action Plan.
“The Franklin County Commissioners have long been committed to supporting local food producers, and encouraging the local food movement,” said Commissioner O’Grady. “This partnership resolution to create a Columbus – Franklin County Food Action Plan is the logical next step to help find the gaps in our current food infrastructure, and fill them to strengthen the local food economy as well as improve access to healthy food. It’s a really exciting initiative.”
The Columbus – Franklin County Food Action Plan is a product of planning and community engagement initiated last year by Local Matters to understand the health and food access needs of Columbus neighborhoods. Local Matters’ experience and expertise will help guide the development of the plan, which is expected to be released in the summer of 2016.
“Local Matters has long been working to transform our community’s food system through public education and increased access to healthy, affordable, and sustainable food,” said Local Matters Executive Director Michelle Moskowitz Brown. “The proposed Columbus – Franklin County Food Action Plan represents a great step forward for the local food system in Columbus and Franklin County, and we’re thrilled the city and county have chosen to invest in such a critical initiative.”
Friday, November 14, 6:30 - 8:30 pm
Boline Apothecary - Columbus' Herb Store
4764 N High St, Columbus, OH 43214
Explore all the amazing variety of herbs and learn about their medicinal properties from owner and expert Lily Shahar Kunning. She calls it "Locavore Body Care" and makes every effort to source all products local and organic. Bring your questions for Lily and share your own experiences. All are welcome. Bring a friend! Free! Light refreshments will be served. Please RSVP to participate. You can RSVP via Facebook here ~ via Meetup here ~ and viaemail to Chuck.Lynd@gmail.com. Next to the City Folks Farm Shop, south of Morse Rd.
Sponsored by Simply Living
America Recycles Day is this Saturday, November 15th. Big Green Head encourages folks to take this day to become aware of their waste and find alternative solutions to the landfill. Take advantage of these recycling opportunities this Saturday!
RecycleForce Columbus and Volunteers of America Team Up for America Recycles Day e-Waste Collection Event
Columbus, OH (11.10.14) –RecycleForce Columbus and Volunteers of America (VOA) are teaming-up for an e-Waste collection event to celebrate America Recycles Day. The RecycleForce Columbus e-Waste truck will be at the Volunteers of America store at 3620 Indianola Avenue, Indianola Plaza on Saturday, November 15 from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm.
“We agree with Keep America Beautiful, the national sponsors of America Recycles Day, when they say ‘there is an urgent and growing need to increase awareness and expand recycling efforts in the area of electronics.’ Even now, more than 80% of obsolete electronics are stored in homes, basements and garages. We are delighted to partner with Volunteers of America on this day. VOA has 11 retail stores located in the Columbus metro area, and this is a good way for them to offer their donors and customers a convenient way to dispose of unwanted consumer electronics in an environmentally sound and secure way,” says Sarah Edwards, President of RecycleForce Columbus.
RecycleForce Columbus is an electronics recycling organization in the Columbus area that provides a pathway for formerly incarcerated men and women to successfully re-integrate into the workforce and become responsible, tax-paying, and productive community members. RecycleForce Columbus offers job placement in comprehensive, environmentally sound and secure end-of-life electronics processing.
“RecycleForce Columbus helps keep electronics out of the waste stream while providing opportunities for people to get valuable on-the-job experience after returning to our community from incarceration”, said Lawrence Hendrix of VOA. “We encourage you to support this organization and help keep the environment clean by dropping off your end-of-life electronics at our Indianola Avenue location or at any Volunteers of America store in the metro area.
RecycleForce Columbus will collect unwanted consumer and business electronic products and equipment, including computers, computer components, *TVs, VCRs, DVD players, telephones, cell phones, PDAs, cameras, chargers, power adapters, printers, copiers, scanners, fax machines, networking equipment (servers, routers, etc.), cable cords and connectors, digital cable boxes, MP3 players (iPODs, etc), video game systems, stereo equipment, audio-video equipment, and small appliances (*dehumidifiers, microwave, fitness equipment, vacuums, etc). Almost anything with a cord! *There is a $10 donation/disposal fee for old CRT computer monitors and TVs 27” and under, $20 for those larger than 27”, $35 for rear projection TVs, and $15 for dehumidifiers
For more information, go to the RecycleForce Columbus web site at www.recycleforcecolumbus.org.
When: Sunday, November 16 2:30 – 5 pm
Doors open 2:30 pm; Concert 3 – 4:30 pm
Where: Northwood High Building, 2231 N. High St Columbus 43201 Community Room 100
Free Parking in "R" spaces (OSU Rardin Clinic) behind the building Admission: $5 Donation
November 1, Columbus OH. Joanie Calem will sing songs from her new CD, "But First Do No Harm." Conversations with the audience during her performance offer the opportunity to delve deeper into the meaning of the songs. Joanie's music incorporates positive, caring, inclusive messages.
“I feel like my music fits so well with the values of Simply Living that I wanted to do a performance to support their work in the community,” said Calem. Joanie is donating 30% of sales of her new CD at this event to Simply Living.
“Parents and everyone living in community will be touched by this special concert, “ said Chuck Lynd, Interim Director of Simply Living. “We were so delighted that Joanie reached out to us that we were inspired to add a silent auction.” The auction will include donations from Simply Living members and gift certificates from local business sponsors. Attendees may browse the auction before and after the concert. A $5 donation is requested for admission.
The general public is invited. Free parking is available behind the Northwood High Building. Questions may be directed to Chuck Lynd <firstname.lastname@example.org> or 614-354-6172.
More information about Joanie Calem is available at www.joaniecalem.com.
Simply Living is an independent, nonprofit 501(c)3 organization that educates the public about living locally and sustainably. Donations are tax deductible. For more information, visit www. SimplyLiving.org.
The Solid Waste Authority of Central Ohio (SWACO), in partnership with the City of Columbus and the Franklin County Environmental Court, will host a political sign recycling event on America Recycles Day, Saturday, November 15, 2014, from 8:00am–12:00pm.
SWACO will be onsite at the Bill McDonald Athletic Complex, located at 4990 Olentangy River Road, Columbus, OH, 43214, collecting political campaign signs for recycling. SWACO will accept paper and plastic (includes coroplast) signs including metal stands for recycling. Paper and metal will be taken to local recyclers, while hard to recycle plastic signage will be taken to Phoenix Recycling in an effort to divert all materials from the landfill.
SWACO representatives are available to help identify ways to reduce waste and recycle more. Contact Kristi Higginbotham, SWACO Outreach and Programs Manager at (614) 801-6413 for more information.
When we think of renewable energy, “environment,” “green,” and “clean” may be some of the first things that come to mind. But while renewable energy is critical to solving many environmental crises, to treat it as simply a green and energy focus is to miss a gigantic element in the renewable energy story: jobs and the economy.
Renewable energy has created hundreds of thousands of jobs in the United States, and millions worldwide. Because renewable energy is distributed and modular—which is to say, created from systems spread all over—it has an economic impact that’s often widespread. Many people contribute to systems and their installation, and a good portion of those people are self-employed or employed in small enterprises. Read full article here.
The retirement years are a great time for seniors to develop, continue with, or expand their eco-friendly habits. Caring for our planet is not only good for the soul and the environment; it can have a positive effect on the finances too.
A few simple ways to start going green
There are several simple ways that seniors can start to change their daily lifestyle habits and go green. Use compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs in light fixtures and lamps; these use 75% less energy and last up to ten times longer than standard light bulbs. Turn the lights off in rooms that are unoccupied, and switch appliances off by unplugging them instead of leaving them on standby. Turning the thermostat down a few degrees will save both energy and money, as will installing separate thermostats in rooms that are rarely used and setting them lower than the rest of the house.
Hand soaps that contain the chemical ingredients triclosan and triclocarban have been found to keep a person no cleaner than soaps without them, so opt for cleansing products that contain more natural ingredients. PVC shower curtains also release unpleasant chemicals into the atmosphere, so swap these out for bamboo or cloth curtains if possible. Install water-saving showerheads and faucets throughout the home, and periodically check for leaks.
Seniors who are avid gardeners can look in their own kitchen cabinets to find natural products that are effective weed killers; for example, mixing vinegar and dishwashing liquid yields a very effective, environmentally friendly alternative to harsh weed-killing chemicals. Speaking of dishwashing liquid, recent studies have shown that dishwashers are actually more efficient and environmentally friendly in that they use less water and soap than washing dishes by hand; just ensure the dishwasher is fully loaded each time you use it.
Cooking and food
When it comes to cooking, it seems that the old-fashioned ways are the best. Modern, nonstick pots and pans employ chemicals known as fluoropolymers, which are released and contaminate the air during cooking, and which have also proven to be carcinogenic. Opt for heavy cast-iron skillets instead, as they have a natural nonstick property.
Freezers that are only half-full have to work harder to keep the food in them frozen, so go shopping and fill the freezer up. Stocking up on food will not only help the environment but may also help to cut down on food bills and reduce the number of trips one has to make to the supermarket. When paying a visit to the supermarket, invest in reusable bags and be sure to leave them in the trunk of the car for the next visit. Even better than driving to the big stores, embrace the local community and when possible shop for food that has been locally sourced. A local farmers’ market is always an excellent option; not only will fruits and vegetables usually be less expensive, but the produce will also be fresher and in most cases taste better.
A bigger lifestyle change can be to ensure that the home is fully insulated. A great deal of energy and heat can be lost through gaps in doors and windows, as well as through basement and attic spaces. Ensuring adequate insulation can be a large financial outlay, however, so it may be worth moving to a place that has already been fully insulated, thereby saving money and energy consumption in the long term. Downsizing may also be a good option if the children have left and you have more house room than you need – or can keep up with on a regular basis. A small house or condo will usually be more cost effective, and far less work to maintain.
Many modern senior retirement communities are embracing an environmentally friendly attitude not only with effective building insulation, but also with other green heating and cooling methods, making it easier for seniors to go green in their retirement years. Some senior living communities also utilize permeable asphalts and native grasses to create insect-friendly outside spaces that will benefit the environment.
If you decide to move to such a community – or simply downsize from a larger home to a smaller one – do not throw away unwanted items that will only end up in landfill sites, but donate them to charities instead. If the items are worth money, offer them for sale on the Internet or have a garage or yard sale. You could also consider ‘freecycling’ them – offering them to people free of charge who are prepared to come and pick the items up.
There are plenty of ways that seniors can help the environment, often by making only simple changes to their day-to-day lives. These changes often have an added benefit of putting money back into their pockets; so green living becomes a win-win way of life.