Category Archives: Venta

7 Laundry Hacks That Save Time, Money and the Planet

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Laundry is a drain on the modern green household. It sucks up energy, water, and time — three things very precious to any eco-warrior. Fortunately, technology has some excellent solutions to our laundry problems. Here are seven laundry hacks that help you make sure your washer and dryer are doing their part for the planet.

1. Upgrade to an Energy Star Model

If your current washer and dryer are more than 10 years old, upgrading them will save you significant time doing your weekly laundry and also reduce your utility bills. Energy Star–rated washers can reduce your water use by 45 percent and your energy use by 25 percent. An Energy Star–rated dryer will save you around $245 in energy costs over its lifetime. If upgrading isn’t an option yet, be conscientious about using your current washer’s settings correctly. If you have water level settings, make sure to set your washer to the lowest one. If not, always use the correct load size setting — small for small loads, medium for medium loads, and so on. You could save more than 1,200 gallons of water per year.

2. Wash Your Clothes in Cold Water

Almost 90 percent of the energy a washer needs is used to heat water. If you wash your clothes in cold water, you’ll cut down your energy use significantly and save $66 or more a year on your energy bill, depending on the amount of laundry you do. New high-efficiency (HE) washers clean just as effectively with cold water. Make sure to use a specially designed HE laundry detergent.

3. Select the Fastest Spin Speed

Choose the fastest spin speed your washer (and your clothes) can handle. The faster the washer spins, the more water is whisked out of the load, and the less time it needs to spend in the dryer. Be sure to use this for towels, if nothing else.

4. Take Advantage of Sensor Features

Load and moisture sensors will intelligently adjust your washer and dryer cycles. Load sensing assesses each load you put in the washer and determines how much water is needed to clean it properly. Similarly, moisture sensors are more efficient than setting a timer on your dryer. These sensors can tell when your clothes are dry and stop the machine, reducing your dryer’s energy use by about 15 percent.

5. Opt for Models That Use Less Water

Traditional top-loading washing machines fill up the entire tub with water and rub clothes against the agitator in the middle of the tub. New top-loader models don’t have an agitator — they flip and spin clothes through a stream of water instead of filling the whole tub, which significantly reduces water usage. Front-loading washers tumble clothes to clean them instead of using an agitator. Either option is an eco-friendly choice that will reduce the amount of water you use to do laundry.

6. Turn Down the Dryer Heat

Longer drying cycles on a low heat setting use less energy. Be sure to clean the filter in between loads to keep the dryer in top working order.

7. Toss a Tennis Ball into the Dryer

This old-school trick really works. When you’re drying large, bulky items — such as down comforters, jackets, blankets or pillows — throw in a couple of new tennis balls with the load. The balls bounce around in the dryer to separate the waterlogged, heavy material, which reduces drying time and energy usage.

Follow these laundry hacks to take advantage of today’s washer and dryer features that save time, energy and water for a super-green laundry routine.

Jennifer Tuohy is an earth-conscious mom who writes for The Home Depot on a variety of green, tech, and parenting topics. She provides advice on easy, simple ways to be greener when doing your laundry. To see a selection of Energy Star-rated washers and dryer like the ones Jennifer mentions in this article, visit The Home Depot here

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The 3 Holiday Plants You Have to Have

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You don’t have to have a green thumb — or be vegan — to delight in the presence of plants. Gardening and food consumption aside, household plants are pretty miraculous to have around due to their numerous superpowers. And what better time to take advantage than during the holidays, when we could all use as many superpowers as possible.

Health Benefits of Plants

Most of us realize the pluses of incorporating greenery in our indoor environments, including 20 percent less dust, according to a study by Washington State University. Besides magical fairy dusting and beautification of a space, plants can absorb up to 10 percent of carbon dioxide and release oxygen back into the air we breathe. Plants even reduce stress and boost morale when placed in offices, simultaneously reducing airborne bacteria.

Plants Improve Indoor Air Quality

What many people are unaware of is the fact that certain plants do all of the above while also removing toxic gases and chemical vapors commonly found in our indoor environments, according to studies by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

Green building today is great for energy efficiency, but it’s not always so great for our health. In 1973, NASA realized that indoor air pollution in tightly sealed structures could present health-related problems. The Clean Air Study, led by Dr. B.C. Wolverton in conjunction with the Associated Landscape Contractors of America, discovered the miraculous benefits of 50 houseplants (three of them being holiday plants) that are exceptional little air scrubbers. These must be potted plants in soil and ideally, one should be placed every 100 feet for maximum air filtration benefits, as advised by NASA.

3 Holiday Plants that Remove Chemicals

Three popular holiday plants — the Poinsettia, the Norfolk Island Pine and the Christmas Cactus — work as natural, mini air purifiers. They provide an affordable defense by absorbing volatile organic compounds (VOCs), such as formaldehyde, benzene and ammonia, from the air through the tiny openings in their leaves (stomata) and their root microbes. Let’s take a closer look at each plant.

1. Poinsettia

You’ll recognize this holiday beauty from its bright, vibrant bracts (leaves). Ironically, it’s not the flower of this plant, rather the leaves, that are grown in pink, red, white, speckled or marbled. Discovered by Joel Poinsett in 1830 in Southern Mexico, this plant prefers semi-shade. It’s easy to grow and pretty resistant to insect infestation. Water when the top layer is dry.

2. Norfolk Island Pine

Photo: Adobe Stock

This evergreen often serves as a mini Christmas tree with a similar appeal. One variety, the heterophylla, is suitable for indoors and can grow up to 10 feet high! It was discovered by Captain Cook and botanist Sir Joseph Banks. The Norfolk Island Pine prefers full sun to semi-shade. Use water sparingly in the winter and mist often.

3. Christmas Cactus

Photo: Adobe Stock

This beautiful cactus with bright red buds blooms fully in December. Unlike most plants, this cactus removes CO2 and releases oxygen at night, making it a great plant for the bedroom. It prefers semi-sun and is highly resistant to insect infestation. Allow it to dry between waterings.

There you have it — the perfect holiday or housewarming gift. Your host or hostess will be breathing easier through the hustle and bustle while enjoying a more beautiful and relaxing home.

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The 3 Holiday Plants You Have to Have

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The 3 Holiday Plants That Clean the Air

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You don’t have to have a green thumb — or be vegan — to delight in the presence of plants. Gardening and food consumption aside, household plants are pretty miraculous to have around due to their numerous superpowers. And what better time to take advantage than during the holidays, when we could all use as many superpowers as possible.

Health Benefits of Plants

Most of us realize the pluses of incorporating greenery in our indoor environments, including 20 percent less dust, according to a study by Washington State University. Besides magical fairy dusting and beautification of a space, plants can absorb up to 10 percent of carbon dioxide and release oxygen back into the air we breathe. Plants even reduce stress and boost morale when placed in offices, simultaneously reducing airborne bacteria.

Plants Improve Indoor Air Quality

What many people are unaware of is the fact that certain plants do all of the above while also removing toxic gases and chemical vapors commonly found in our indoor environments, according to studies by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

Green building today is great for energy efficiency, but it’s not always so great for our health. In 1973, NASA realized that indoor air pollution in tightly sealed structures could present health-related problems. The Clean Air Study, led by Dr. B.C. Wolverton in conjunction with the Associated Landscape Contractors of America, discovered the miraculous benefits of 50 houseplants (three of them being holiday plants) that are exceptional little air scrubbers. These must be potted plants in soil and ideally, one should be placed every 100 feet for maximum air filtration benefits, as advised by NASA.

3 Holiday Plants that Remove Chemicals

Three popular holiday plants — the Poinsettia, the Norfolk Island Pine and the Christmas Cactus — work as natural, mini air purifiers. They provide an affordable defense by absorbing volatile organic compounds (VOCs), such as formaldehyde, benzene and ammonia, from the air through the tiny openings in their leaves (stomata) and their root microbes. Let’s take a closer look at each plant.

1. Poinsettia

You’ll recognize this holiday beauty from its bright, vibrant bracts (leaves). Ironically, it’s not the flower of this plant, rather the leaves, that are grown in pink, red, white, speckled or marbled. Discovered by Joel Poinsett in 1830 in Southern Mexico, this plant prefers semi-shade. It’s easy to grow and pretty resistant to insect infestation. Water when the top layer is dry.

2. Norfolk Island Pine

Photo: Adobe Stock

This evergreen often serves as a mini Christmas tree with a similar appeal. One variety, the heterophylla, is suitable for indoors and can grow up to 10 feet high! It was discovered by Captain Cook and botanist Sir Joseph Banks. The Norfolk Island Pine prefers full sun to semi-shade. Use water sparingly in the winter and mist often.

3. Christmas Cactus

Photo: Adobe Stock

This beautiful cactus with bright red buds blooms fully in December. Unlike most plants, this cactus removes CO2 and releases oxygen at night, making it a great plant for the bedroom. It prefers semi-sun and is highly resistant to insect infestation. Allow it to dry between waterings.

There you have it — the perfect holiday or housewarming gift. Your host or hostess will be breathing easier through the hustle and bustle while enjoying a more beautiful and relaxing home.

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The 3 Holiday Plants That Clean the Air

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6 Must-Try Green Subscription Box Services

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More subscription box service firms specializing in green and natural living are opening up (pardon the pun). If you’re looking to switch to more eco-friendly products, it’s a great way to try new products without a huge investment. Most of these services offer a monthly box, and give discounts for long-term subscriptions.

Here is a list of six must-try subscription box services for discovering great green and natural brands.

Ecocentric Mom

Ecocentric Mom mom box. Image: Ecocentric Mom

Ecocentric Mom offers four different box options: Pregnancy, Mom and Baby (0 and 18 months), Mom and Toddler (18 months to 4 years), and Mom/Woman Only, so you can choose the one that’s right for you. Each box comes with five full-size items, including personal care products, cosmetics, natural remedies, snacks and more. The monthly box runs $27.99, and recent boxes have included everything from lip conditioner and body balm to baby milestone stickers and onesies.

Homegrown Collective

Homegrown Collective is a subscription box service that delivers a “homegrown” experience to your doorstep every month for $34 to $39 per month (plus $9 shipping). Rather than products for you to sample, Homegrown Collective’s Greenbox includes items to teach you a way to live more sustainably and become more self-sufficient. Past boxes have included everything you need to create your own detox products, home remedies, beauty products, household cleaners, kombucha and more! Even the packaging is designed to create less waste.

Natural Herbal Living Herb Box

Do you want to learn more about herbs? The Natural Herbal Living Herb Box is designed to help you learn about herbs on both an intellectual and physical level. Each month, the herb box includes ingredients to make several recipes shared in Natural Herbal Living Magazine (subscription included). These items may include the herb of the month, essential oil, flower essence, additional herbs, oils, beeswax, vinegar, honey and other herbal goodies necessary to make the recipes of the month. Mini boxes are available for $24, while full-size boxes are $48.

UrthBox

Each month, UrthBox delivers a package of sustainable, non-GMO snack foods that they hand-pick from brands that care for the earth. Choose from Classic, Gluten-Free, Vegan and Diet options in four different sizes, from six  to 25-plus snacks ($19.99 to $49.99). Shipping is free in the U.S., $6.95 to Canada and $14.95 worldwide.

Green Kid Crafts

There’s a green subscription box service for kids, too! Created by a mom, Green Kid Crafts delivers monthly boxes that include hands-on, award-winning and eco-friendly STEAM-themed kits (that’s science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics). There are boxes available for ages 2 to 10-plus, each with various projects, step-by-step instructions, an activity magazine and achievement badges. It’s a great way to give your kids a creative outlet and support a green company. Rates start at $17.95 per month.

Kloverbox

Kloverbox is a subscription box service that helps you discover organic, natural and cruelty-free beauty, health, nutrition and household brands. For $25 per month, you will receive six to eight deluxe or full-size products from pure and sustainable brands that you can use for an at-home spa day.

Do you have a favorite subscription box service? Share your thoughts with us below.

Feature image courtesy of VFS Digital Design

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6 Must-Try Green Subscription Box Services

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2017’s Greenest Cities in the U.S.

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Anchorage, Alaska, has more green space than any city in the country, while Lubbock, Texas, has the worst air quality. Residents of Honolulu, Hawaii, have access to the most farmers markets per capita, while walking is hardly an option in Chesapeake, Virginia. How do all of these factors — and many more — play into the United States’ greenest cities?

WalletHub looked at the country’s 100 largest cities across 22 indicators of environmental friendliness in four dimensions: environment, transportation, energy sources, and lifestyle and policy. After crunching the numbers on everything from water quality to miles of bicycle lanes to community garden plots, here are the cities that came out on top:

  1. San Francisco, CA
  2. San Diego, CA
  3. Fremont, CA
  4. Honolulu, HI
  5. San Jose, CA
  6. Washington, D.C.
  7. Sacramento, CA
  8. Irvine, CA
  9. Portland, OR
  10. Oakland, CA

Source:

WalletHub

On the other end of the spectrum, some cities didn’t so so well on the green rankings. Here are the country’s worst performers:

100. Corpus Christi, TX
99. Baton Rouge, LA
98. Jacksonville, FL
97. Louisville, KY
96. St. Petersburg, FL
95. Tulsa, OK
94. Toledo, OH
93. Lexington-Fayette, KY
92. Cleveland, OH
91. Oklahoma City, OK

One key component that’s missing from the rankings? Recycling services. According to WalletHub:

Although recycling is vital to the sustainability efforts of each city, the types and sizes of recycling facilities vary widely by city. We therefore were unable to include — due to the lack of comparable city-level data — metrics that either measure the availability of recycling programs or the amount of waste recycled in each city.

What do you think? Does anything on the greenest cities list surprise you? Can Corpus Christi change its ways? Does California deserve seven of the top 10 spots? Check out the full results, along with opinions from experts, here.

Feature image courtesy of Adobe

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2017’s Greenest Cities in the U.S.

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How a Minimalist Lifestyle Can Add to Your Green Efforts

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You may have seen the term “minimalism” being thrown around a lot lately, especially in the eco-friendly sphere. As more and more people have adopted minimalist lifestyles, the concept has begun to slowly creep to the forefront of our collective consciousness. But what exactly is minimalism? To be honest, it can be a little hard to pinpoint.

Minimalism means different things to different people — it’s unique to the person living it. The truth is, there’s no “one size fits all” to this approach. However, one thing that can be agreed upon is that living as a minimalist is far more earth-friendly than how the majority of Americans are currently getting by. Let’s take a closer look:

What Is Minimalism?

Ranging from apartment-dwelling urbanites to country homesteaders, minimalists come from vast walks of life. They might be single or have a large family, have a house full of treasured items or live out of a backpack. The common ground lies in the opposition to the American ideal of working more to make more, and spending more to have more.

The true essence of minimalism is determining what provides you the most value in life and removing everything that is simply excess. It’s a very intentional way of living that gives rise to positive changes in almost all aspects of life. Being a minimalist means choosing to live your life with great purpose.

Curbing the Consumer Mind-Set

Society’s greatest lie is that a good life is based on the accumulation and possession of as many material items as possible. Massive houses, expensive cars, grand yachts, glittering diamonds — you know, the Instagram-worthy, Kardashian-inspired lifestyle. When we believe that more is better, we fall prey to the notion that money can buy happiness. That’s where minimalism comes in. Minimalism frees us from the all-consuming desire to possess. It sidesteps consumerism and compels us to seek happiness in experiences and relationships. It encourages us to actually live a life instead of buying one.

Now, all this isn’t to say that there’s anything wrong with owning material possessions. It’s more about throwing off the meaning we attribute to said possessions. To put it more plainly, acquiring more stuff shouldn’t come before our health, relationships or personal growth. If owning a house or a car is important to you, that’s perfectly fine. Minimalism is merely a method that supports you in making these decisions more thoughtfully.

When it comes to your possessions, adopting a minimalist lifestyle means being very intentional about what you own and not being distracted by material belongings. While you may want to start your minimalist journey by getting rid of a bunch of stuff, the focus of minimalism shouldn’t be on what you are throwing out, it should instead be on the benefit of removing what doesn’t bring value to your life. Though minimalism sounds like it’s all about having less, there’s actually a lot of “more” that comes along with it. You’ll have more time, more space, more peace and more freedom.

Minimalism Is Eco-Friendly

The basic tenets of minimalism are surprisingly in tune with the eco-friendly way of living. For instance, by making a conscious choice to only purchase what is absolutely needed, you’ll naturally consume less. The less gas, plastic and nonrecyclable materials you use on a regular basis, the fewer nonrenewable resources are used up in their production. Reuse allows you to take this even further, say by borrowing a book from the library instead of buying a new one.

Minimalism makes you more aware of how much waste you generate. Buying less means wasting less; the fewer purchases you make, the fewer boxes, bags and packing materials end up dumped in landfills. What’s more, when you produce less waste, sorting through it for recycling and composting purposes is far easier and more efficient.

Minimalism is helpful in overcoming perceived obsolescence. Perceived obsolescence is when an object is completely functional but is no longer perceived to be stylish or appropriate. It’s rendered obsolete by perception, rather than by function. Minimalism encourages you to purchase goods designed to last for a long period of time, and use them for their entire life span.

Though eighty-sixing excess possessions is a big part of minimalism, the concept goes far beyond what you own. Minimalism should be practiced in all areas of your life — determine what you value most and remove what stands in the way. Apply this to how you spend your time, who you have relationships with, what you eat and so on.

Minimalism, like so many things in life, comes in many forms — it’s a flexible concept. You can choose to adopt the aspects of minimalism that appeal to you most and adapt others to fit your lifestyle. And since it all depends on what adds value to your life in the moment, it’s bound to change over time. After all, what’s meaningful to you in your 20s is not always the same as what’s meaningful to you in your 50s. Just remember, the true aim of minimalism isn’t to deprive yourself of anything, it’s to focus on the things that bring you the most value, cultivate your relationships and live the best life you can.

To learn more about embracing minimalism, check out these fantastic minimalist blogs.

Feature image courtesy of Shutterstock

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Surprisingly Sustainable: Oktoberfest’s Green Side

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Some celebrations are almost synonymous with waste. Picture the plastic-bead-strewn streets of New Orleans after Mardi Gras, or the mountains of plastic packaging and wrapping paper after Christmas. For the environmentally conscious, the incredible wastefulness of these occasions is enough to make a Scrooge out of even the most festive individual.

Surprisingly, an environmental hero has arisen from a most unlikely holiday. A celebration that seems to have no other purpose than excessive drinking. No, not St. Patty’s Day (although there are ways to go green then, too!). Friends, we’re talking about Oktoberfest.

Yes. Really.

The Environmental Oscars

Here’s a tidbit that might shock you — it certainly surprised us. Oktoberfest — the real one, that is, held in Munich, Germany, each autumn — is one of the most environmentally friendly events out there. So much so, in fact, that it was awarded the Environmental Oscar in 1997 for its efforts to be as minimally wasteful as possible.

How have Oktoberfest organizers achieved this? Three main aspects contribute to their environmental success:

Disposing of Disposables

In 1991, the city of Munich banned disposable servingware. No more paper plates, no more plastic forks. Instead, food was served on real plates, with real silverware. Drinks were served in glasses, rather than plastic tumblers. This one change reduced waste at the annual festival by over 90 percent. It’s an encouraging statistic for festivals worldwide, especially those that think that waste-free celebrations are beyond their capabilities. After all, Oktoberfest is hardly a small-time operation; it hosts six million visitors each year. If they can go without one-time-use tableware, surely your next backyard barbecue can too!

Organics & Recycling

Gray water from washing all these dishes doesn’t just go down the drain, either. In almost half the festival tents, gray water is reused to flush the toilets (I’ve always wondered why we don’t do this everywhere). Reusing water like this drastically reduces the need for fresh water, and ensures that Oktoberfest gets the most use out of every drop. Much of the food served at Oktoberfest — including the meat — is also organically sourced. And while we could definitely make a strong case for reducing the amount of meat eaten at the bacchanalian beer fest (each year, attendees devour tons of sausages and almost 500,000 chickens), choosing poultry that’s been organically raised does make a huge difference.

Renewable Rejoicing

Since the year 2000, streetlights, toilets and all other public areas of the festival have been powered by renewable energy, making the festival one of the greenest in terms of how it powers its raucous celebrations. This attitude of environmental awareness has filtered through to its vendors, too — approximately 60 percent of them have followed suit and also chosen renewable power sources.

Oktoberfest is one of the purest festivals out there when you look at pure intent. It was originally celebrated to mark the marriage of Bavarian Crown Prince Ludwig to the Saxon-Hildburghausen Princess Therese on Oct. 12, 1810. These days, it’s a chance to celebrate good beer, great brats and dudes in lederhosen. But the way Munich has focused on creating sustainable Oktoberfest celebrations is an example to all of us that life needn’t be dour and stark to be eco-friendly. In fact, quite the opposite.

Your Own Green Event

So, how can you bring a little of Munich’s environmental sensibilities to your own Oktoberfest celebrations — or any other party, for that matter? It is possible, even if you can’t use gray water to flush your toilet or suddenly switch to renewable energy:

Use e-vite sites like Green Envelope or Paperless Post to create online invites instead of mailing paper ones.
Follow Oktoberfest’s lead and ditch the disposable plates, cups and silverware. If you’re worried about tipsy guests breaking your good dishes, pick up an inexpensive set at Goodwill or Value Village. It’ll likely be the same price as (or cheaper than) disposable stuff, and you can reuse for many parties down the road. Just remember to wash well before use.
Provide bins for compost, recycling and garbage. Often just providing guests options for eco-friendly waste disposal is all you need to do to decrease the amount of waste your party produces.
If you’re going all out for the celebration, rent a costume instead of buying one. Good lederhosen don’t come cheap, and cheap ones won’t last long. Get into the spirit by renting a costume that’ll help you dress the part without taking up space in your closet the rest of the year.
If it’s in your budget, offer your guests organic refreshments and food — organic and/or local chickens, sausage and even beer if you can find it!

We hope you have a fantastic time celebrating good beer, great friends and the crisp arrival of fall. Happy Oktoberfest!

Feature image courtesy of Shutterstock

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Surprisingly Sustainable: Oktoberfest’s Green Side

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5 Strategies to Choose the Right Solar Panel Installer

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As solar energy explodes in popularity, there are more solar installation crews mounting solar panels on rooftops and tinkering with home electrical panels. Having the right solar panel installer can really make or break the experience of going solar.

When improperly installed, roof leaks are one of the most common complaints from solar homeowners. By contrast, solar systems can be installed in ways that don’t void roof warranties and actually help protect the roof from the elements. I’ve seen homes where the solar panels protected the roof from hail damage and the panels remain unscathed.

The technical expertise, solar equipment quality and solar system warranties all vary widely by the installer. The good news is that there are many reputable solar installation companies across the country to choose from. Here are some things to look for when finding the winners.

Some solar panel installers are more experienced than others. Photo: Shutterstock

1. NABCEP-Certification Installer

The North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners certifies energy installers, including solar PV technicians. The requirements include passing a written test and having a certain amount of solar installation field experience. Although certification doesn’t guarantee good workmanship, it does ensure a certain level of knowledge and experience. Ideally, your solar installation will be overseen by a NABCEP-certified professional or, even better, have a NABCEP-certified crew member on the job.

2. Good Company Reputation

When looking for a solar panel installer, find one with a successful track record. If you have friends and acquaintances with a solar system, find out if they were happy with their installer.

Online consumer reviews are another way to find out more about a company. Solar Reviews is a useful source of information on solar installers and equipment, based on consumer reviews.

It’s also good to find out if the solar installer outsources its labor. If so, the quality of the installation might be less predictable.

3. Ideal Solar Equipment Options

In most areas, there are at least two reputable solar companies to choose from. Getting multiple bids can improve the quality of the finished product and possibly the out-of-pocket cost. For example, some installers take a one-size-fits-all approach to solar system design, while another company might customize your installation based on your needs, goals and the property. If installing your solar system is more complicated, it is especially helpful to find an installer that customizes your solar system design by selecting the best equipment and installation approach.

For help comparing options, EnergySage is funded by the Department of Energy and provides a suite of online tools and resources that assist consumers in researching and shopping for solar. Another service, UnderstandSolar, links solar shoppers to top-rated solar installers for personalized solar estimates. Various installers commonly offer different technology options to their customers. Perhaps you are willing to splurge on some sleek solar panels because they have such a long warranty or you want an inverter with backup power supply when the grid is down. By speaking with different solar panel installers, you can familiarize yourself with the different equipment choices.

4. Comprehensive Solar System Warranty

Various solar equipment comes with different manufacturer warranties, and installers often guarantee their work as well. Because solar is a pretty hefty investment, it is wise to protect yourself with a warranty.

Workmanship warranties can vary widely between installers but often last between one to 10 years. The solar equipment has additional warranties that are provided by the manufacturer. Solar panels typically have an equipment guarantee for a certain length of time in addition to a power performance guarantee for energy production. Other components, such as the inverter, can have very short warranties of just a few years or ones that last 25 years. Make sure you are clear about warranties before signing a contract with a solar panel installer.

5. Turnaround Time

Because solar energy has exploded in popularity in recent years, many solar installers have jam-packed installation schedules for months. If you want a solar system installed soon, it is wise to ask what their schedule looks like before signing a contract.

Keep in mind that the timing of when the solar system is installed impacts the availability of the 30 percent federal tax credit. For example, if you install a solar system in February, you need to wait much longer to use the tax credit than if you installed the system in November.

Feature image courtesy of Shutterstock

Read More:
5 Solar Energy Trends for the Year Ahead
11 Ways to Use Solar Energy Besides the Home
4 Reasons the Cost of Solar Energy Keeps Falling

5 Strategies to Choose the Right Solar Panel Installer

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5 Strategies to Choose the Right Solar Panel Installer

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That’s It For Today

Mother Jones

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This is my last post for the day. Starting in a few minutes we’ll be replacing the guts of our website with something newer and better than what we have now, and no one at MoJo is allowed to edit the site until we’re done. That will be Tuesday morning according to our tech boffins.

I fully expect everything to go flawlessly during this conversion, because that’s how things usually go with computers. Right? Still, there’s an outside chance of something going wrong, which might mean I don’t show up for blogging duty on Tuesday. If that happens, don’t panic. Leave that to us professionals. We’ll get it all sorted.

In the meantime, I have important robot research to do and even more important vacation planning to do. See you Tuesday.

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That’s It For Today

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The Intercept Discloses Top-Secret NSA Document on Russia Hacking Aimed at US Voting System

Mother Jones

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On Monday, the Intercept published a classified internal NSA document noting that Russian military intelligence mounted an operation to hack at least one US voting software supplier—which provided software related to voter registration files—in the months prior to last year’s presidential contest. It has previously been reported that Russia attempted to hack into voter registration systems, but this NSA document provides details of how one such operation occurred.

According to the Intercept:

The top-secret National Security Agency document, which was provided anonymously to The Intercept and independently authenticated, analyzes intelligence very recently acquired by the agency about a months-long Russian intelligence cyber effort against elements of the US election and voting infrastructure. The report, dated May 5, 2017, is the most detailed US government account of Russian interference in the election that has yet come to light.

While the document provides a rare window into the NSA’s understanding of the mechanics of Russian hacking, it does not show the underlying “raw” intelligence on which the analysis is based. A US intelligence officer who declined to be identified cautioned against drawing too big a conclusion from the document because a single analysis is not necessarily definitive.

The report indicates that Russian hacking may have penetrated further into US voting systems than was previously understood. It states unequivocally in its summary statement that it was Russian military intelligence, specifically the Russian General Staff Main Intelligence Directorate, or GRU, that conducted the cyber attacks described in the document:

Russian General Staff Main Intelligence Directorate actors … executed cyber espionage operations against a named U.S. company in August 2016, evidently to obtain information on elections-related software and hardware solutions. … The actors likely used data obtained from that operation to … launch a voter registration-themed spear-phishing campaign targeting U.S. local government organizations.

Go read the whole thing.

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The Intercept Discloses Top-Secret NSA Document on Russia Hacking Aimed at US Voting System

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