7 Ways to Make Your Home a Sustainable Home

7:16 pm by Kristy Tan

We all know that climate change has an enormous impact on our lives and our planet, but some of us might think, “Will I really make a difference?” It might be hard to believe that just one person can truly make a difference. But here’s the thing, maybe one person going 

We all know that climate change has an enormous impact on our lives and our planet, but some of us might think, “Will I really make a difference?” It might be hard to believe that just one person can truly make a difference. But here’s the thing, maybe one person going 

7 Ways to Make Your Home
a Sustainable Home

June 25th, 2020

Photo by Pop & Zebra on Unsplash

W

e all know that climate change has an enormous impact on our lives and our planet, but some of us might think, “Will I really make a difference?” It might be hard to believe that just one person can truly make a difference. But here’s the thing, maybe one person going 

green won’t make a difference. But that one person will inadvertently influence the people around them, and those people will influence their own sphere of people. 

“Your ripple effect is greater
than you think!”

Many people feel that the issue of climate change is just too vast for individual actions to really make a difference. But is that really the case?  If everyone makes minor changes in how we shop, how we travel, what we eat, and how much energy we consume, we can most definitely make a difference.

As we welcome summer with its longer days and warmer weather, let’s take some time to do our part for a cleaner earth. There are many changes in the way we live that we can adopt with ease and without breaking the bank.

No 1: Insulate

Insulating your home is one of the best ways to reduce energy consumption and do good for the environment. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, sealing air leaks and adding insulation can reduce your energy usage and costs by between 5% to 30%.

Things that you can add insulation in your home include your:

          1. Heating Ducts

          2. Hot Water Tank

          3. Attic

          4. Loft

          5. Windows and Doors 

No 2: Install Low Flush Toilets

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, toilets account for nearly 30 percent of an average home’s indoor water consumption. This number is especially true and may even be higher for older toilets that use as much as 6 gallons per flush.

 

Using the EPA’s WaterSense calculator, a family of 4 will save at least $140 per year when switching to a WaterSense-labeled toilet. With a new WaterSense-labeled toilet costing as low as $50 each, you can see a return on your investment in less than a year!

 

Don’t want to change out your toilet? Put a few pebbles or rocks in an empty plastic bottle (experiment with 1 or 2 liter bottles), fill it with water, and then place it in the back of your toilet. With this little trick, you can save up to 10 gallons of water per day.

No 3: Install a Smart Thermostat

Smart thermostats can programmed to run your air conditioning when you are home and turn off when you leave. They can even learn your routines and automatically set up a schedule so that your home is perfectly heated or cooled to your liking when you get home. By intelligently managing your heating and cooling, smart thermostats can save the average household up to $180 per year. This, of course, would vary by the size of your home and the number of people in your household.

 

With smart thermostats priced between $35 to $150, you get a return on your investment very quickly! Additionally, many utility companies have rebates for smart thermostats, be sure to check with your utility company for even more savings!

No 4: Use Wisely

Paper towels are often non-recyclable. Discarded paper towels result in 254 million tons of trash every year globally. By switching to a microfiber cloth at home or using Joe Smith’s one towel method, you can reduce your overall carbon footprint and costs! 

 

Do you wash your clothes with cold water? According to Energy Star, water heating consumes about 90% of the energy it takes to operate a clothes washer. Unless you have tough oily stains, washing your clothes with the cold cycle can not only clean your clothes well, but also keep your clothes lasting longer. Finally, you can also eliminate up to 1,600 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions per year by going that route.

Ready to join the clean energy movement?

No 5: Grow your Own

Growing your own fruits and vegetables in your garden can have many benefits. First, you save time and money by making less trips to the grocery store and also due to seeds being much cheaper compared to buying grown vegetables. Second, this is healthier for the environment as well. Your fruits and vegetables do not need to travel from a farm to a supermarket and then to your home. Thus, you are reducing air pollution and lowering your overall carbon footprint. 

 

Third, you know what goes into your fruits and vegetables since you are the one controlling the environment that they grow in. Since you are growing them in your garden, they are most likely organic! Finally, because they are “farm-to-table”, your fruits and vegetables will be tastier and sweeter than the ones that you get from the supermarket.

No 6: Get an Energy Audit

A home energy audit helps you determine how much energy your home uses, where your home is losing energy, and which problem areas and fixes you should prioritize to make your home more efficient and comfortable. 

 

You can do an energy audit on your home by yourself or you can hire a professional to do it. Depending on where you live, you may be able to get a professional home energy audit for free! Check with your local energy department to see if they have a free program.

No 7: Go with Renewable Energy

Powering your home with solar or wind is one of the best ways to fight climate change. Depending on where you live, you may be able to switch to a power company that provides energy from renewables.

 

If you can consider getting solar panels installed on your home, you may be able to sell any unused energy to your utility company.

 

If you are unable to install solar panels on your property due to shade around your home, costs, or because you are renting, check out Community Solar programs in your area. These programs help you subscribe to a local solar farm so you can get access to clean, renewable energy along with savings to your monthly utility bill! 

Want to help create a cleaner future?

This blog post is a shortened version of our webinar. Interested to more ways to make your home a sustainable home? Watch our webinar, “15 Ways to Make your Home a Sustainable Home”, below!

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Understanding Your Community Solar Bill

8:08 pm by Kristy Tan

Many people have asked us about how billing works and why we ask for your payment information during sign up even though it doesn’t cost you any money to choose Astral Power for community solar. In this blog post, we will explain how we handle the billing process to make it an easy transition for you to get access to solar power.

Understanding Your
Community Solar Bill

May 21st, 2020

Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels

M

any people have asked us about how billing works and why we ask for your payment information during sign up even though it doesn’t cost you any money to choose Astral Power for community solar. In this blog post, we will explain how we handle the billing 

Why does Astral Power ask me for my payment information?

We ask you for your payment information because billing is not yet consolidated between solar farms and utility companies. Consolidated billing will go into effect sometime late 2020 or early 2021 in New York state, learn more about this here.

How does billing work?

(For states without consolidated billing)
First, thank you for joining us in going solar! Your solar subscription activates when your assigned solar farm is in service. Upon activation, you will receive two bills related to your energy charges each month:

Your standard utility bill

  1. From your utility company, like RG&E, NYSEG, National Grid, etc.
  2. The only change is that now, your monthly solar credits are applied

Community solar bill

  1. For your monthly solar power generation
  2. The amount you pay will always be 10% less than the cost of the month’s bill credits.

Can we go deeper into this billing stuff?

Here are some explanations and definitions regarding your new Community Distributed Generation billing arrangement with your utility:
Allocation This is the amount of the solar farm that is reserved in your name. For billing purposes, it is expressed as a percentage of the overall solar project/farm. Your share of the solar project was calculated to produce 90% of your annual electric consumption.
Generation This is the amount of solar energy that your share has produced and is expressed as a dollar value on your utility bill. The utility provides Astral Power with an Allocation Report that gives the generation in kWh and the dollar value
CDG Generation Credits This is the value of what your solar share produced in the previous month.
Billing Period End Date This is the same as the Current Meter Read Date on your home or business’ bill
CDG Generation Applied The amount of generation credit applied to your bill, this is the amount that you pay our solar farm developer partner for the solar power that is generated on your behalf. Your bill for the solar generation will always be 10% less than the month’s bill credits.
kWh measurement of power over time, kilowatt (1000 watts) per hour

Solar credits will begin to appear on your utility bill sometime after the project’s first meter read. Once the credits begin appearing on your utility bill, you’ll notice a new box right above the Electricity Delivery Charges as seen below. Each month, the utility will include in your bill the following: how many credits your share of the solar farm produced, how many were applied to the current month’s bill, how many you have remaining that roll over to the next month, and how many you had leftover from previous months.

Below is a sample bill from a utility company within the New York state, NYSEG, along with some description:

Sample Community Solar bill from one of our partners, Delaware River Solar.

How does billing work?

(For states with consolidated billing)
First, thank you for joining us in going solar! Your solar subscription activates when your assigned solar farm is in service. Upon activation, you will receive a bill from your utility company, updated with your savings from Community Solar. We currently don’t have an example yet, but will update when we do get one.

We expect New York state to have consolidated billing by mid 2021.

Is there any way to simplify my community solar bill?

We understand that these complex billing measurements and systems can make understanding your bill extremely complicated, so here are a few tips to simplify your bills.
– Sign up for an online account.
  • This will give you access to PDF copies of your most recent bill and summary page. It is also recommended that you switch to e-billing (i.e. paperless statements) this will allow you to access 12 months of PDF bills online.
– Take a closer look at your energy service company (ESCO). 

We strongly recommend checking the rate that you are paying your ESCO for supply charges.  You can find your utility’s supply rates on your utility’s website. Third Party Energy Supply companies can increase your supply rates after your agreement expires.  We recommend that you keep a close eye on this, and mark your calendar on the week this agreement is scheduled to expire.

– Remove Budget Billing. 

Your utility calculates budget billing on historical data from your previous twelve months of usage. You can keep budget billing of course, however, you won’t see the savings from joining a Community Solar Farm until the end of the year when the utility calculates your current year of consumption, the total solar credits applied, and the budgeted amount you paid over the course of the year.

I have more questions.

That’s why we’re here! Feel free to chat with us in the lower right hand corner of our website, call us at 1-866-922-7335 to ask your question, or leave your information below and we will reach out to you.

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Ready to join the clean energy movement?