Going Green. It’s a BIG topic and an even BIGGER conundrum. Where do we begin? And does it even matter anymore? Can we fix what we have started to break, our Earth? I’d like to think so. There have been many documentaries that have outlined how important it is for us to think about pollution and how it affects Earth, and ultimately us. This is nothing new, there are many activists, some who are celebrities, such as Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Ruffalo (Go Hulk!) and Robert Redford, who are trying to use their influence to make us aware of this insidious issue.
However, probably the first person we think of is Al Gore, he has been stomping around the world now for more than a decade bringing awareness to the cause of global warming. His 2006 documentary, An Inconvenient Truth received an Oscar and was effective in explaining “how humans have messed up the planet” (his words). With the election of President Trump, we are now knee deep again in this debate over saving Mother Earth, with one side not seeing the importance and the other side saying it is imperative we make changes now!
The movie Wall-E, I have used this movie example before. I know this was an animated movie but it really hit home for me and it made me think. It is scary to imagine our world like this. What mess are we leaving our great grandchildren with?
So what can we do? As I stated this is a BIG issue to bite off, so I am going to take this in baby steps with occasional posts about what we can do as the ‘average individual’.
I can tell you one thing that we did to make our home more energy efficient. And really, I have to give credit to my husband Bruce on this issue but we got solar panels installed about a year ago. He brought it up one day, that he wanted to do this and I was immediately on board! I have always tried to do little things, ie; sort my garbage from my recyclables (in fact, I had even switched garbage companies so that I could get weekly recycling instead of biweekly that most companies have), turn the lights off in unused rooms, etc. But this was a huge win for us, a bit of an investment up front but you do get rebates from the government and from your local energy company. We have a ton of people living in our house, and even more in and out throughout the day. I always say that my house is like Vegas, it never sleeps! We always had HUGE energy bills and we always were the worst neighbor to have as far as energy consumption.
This is a small section of panels on our home, we have more on the back roof, 36 panels in all.
In 2016, the US residential annual average household consumption of electricity was 10.7 megawatts. Since we installed our solar panels (June 2017), our house GENERATED 10.76 megawatts of electricity. So essentially, our home generated enough energy to match the annual average of all houses in the US.
Not everyone is a candidate for solar panels, in fact, they say that only about 20% of homes are able to accommodate them (in our area at least). There are things that they take into consideration; enough roof space, too much shade, etc. The company we chose, Solar Connection came out and did their measurements, and then made the determination that our house was a good candidate for solar panels. For those people that are not candidates for solar panels, there are other options such Solar Gardens. A Solar Garden is a community shared solar array with grid-connected subscribers. Essentially, you buy a panel and receive credit from it. Homes and businesses, even if shaded by trees, receive a bill credit as if the panels were on their own roof using “virtual net metering”.
Recently, Bruce and I had a conversation where I said that I was surprised that all new build homes weren’t already mandated to have solar panels. Just yesterday, California regulators approved a plan to mandate solar panels on all new build homes. The solar mandate, which goes into effect in 2020, received the support of home-builder and solar trade associations as well as several large utilities. I do agree with this as I believe we have to start forcing the issue of providing our own energy, or at least contributing as a whole. Little by little we can change our ‘bad energy wasting’ habits to ‘better energy saving’ habits that will reflect more positively on sustaining the health and beauty of our planet.
“The truth about the climate crisis is an inconvenient one that means we are going to have to change the way we live our lives.” Al Gore
Solar Panels are one of our ways to contribute to a healthy world. We have other ideas and have implemented other energy saving methods into our home, which I will share over time.
As I said, this will be the first of many posts to give ideas and suggestions to help “save our planet”.
What ideas do you have?