Detailed post for episode 12 of The Green Divas Show
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David Pogue on solar power
In our second of the segment series based on David Pogue’s book, How to Prepare for Climate Change: A practical guide to surviving the chaos, we get to chat with David about how solar power can help us adapt to the changing climate. Super-sized storms with increasing frequency is revealing just how dependent we are on “the grid.” Solar could be one way to create greater autonomy, while using less fossil-fuel based power.
First you have to decide if your home is right for solar. Do you have enough space on the roof? Do you have space in the yard? Is the house situated to harness the sun?
The good news is that the price of solar panels has gone significantly down over the last decade. Solar panels could add about $15,000 to the value of your home.
Solar panel loans
Loans for solar installation are available at banks, credit unions, solar companies, cities and towns. Even state and federal governments offer loans through programs like FHA Title 1 or NY-Sun.
Rebates and Incentives
Depending on the size of your home, a quality system could range from $10,000 to $30,000 to install, which can be offset (at least in part) by tax credits. There are also solar panel loans and rebates. You can find out what is available in your neck of the woods at the Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency at dsireusa.org
Sell your power
Most states allow you to sell electricity back to the utility companies if you produce more than you can use. Most states require power companies to generate some percentage of their electricity from renewable sources, so they’re in the market for it. Depending on where you live and the demand, you could potentially earn $2000 a year. Your panels could pay for themselves in as little as 6 years.
Renting solar panels
If you don’t have the cash up front or don’t want to make that type of investment, you can rent or lease solar panels. There are companies that will install and maintain solar panels on your house or property. You won’t “own” the energy produced, but will get a break on your regular electric bill. The company that owns and presumably maintains the solar panels will get all the rebates and tax incentives and any money earned by selling energy back to the utilities.
Buying vs Lease
Calculators – try these cool calculators that help you figure out if and when solar might pay off for you, and/or whether buying vs. renting is best:
Energy Sage calculator
Sunmetrix buy vs. lease calculator
Solar Panels are a great way to reduce your carbon footprint, now wouldn’t that feel good?
cleaning up your laundry act
Here are some of the things we referenced during the show …
DIY – Make your own borax-free laundry detergent – recipe by Dr. Karen S. Lee.
Note: EWG (Environmental Working Group) reports that Borax is NOT as green as we have been led to believe. A close cousin of borax is boric acid, and while it is a natural mineral, it is a pesticide that poisons insects, fungus and weeds.
1 Tbsp Washing Soda (you can make your own, did you know that?)
1 Tbsp Baking Soda
1 Tbsp Grated Castile Soap (see alternative option below)
1 C Distilled White Vinegar in the Fabric Softener Compartment
1 Tbsp Citrus Enzyme Cleaner or Citric Acid
Scoop the powder separately without mixing them making sure to use the right amount for each.
If you have extra stains, you can spot clean it with peroxide/water mixture or Oxyclean first, before throwing the garment in the washer with the rest of the laundry, like you would with other types of detergent.
As an alternative to grating castile soap, you can substitute with 1 Tbsp of liquid castile soap. And if you want even gentler castile soap, I strongly recommend Earth Mama Angel Baby Shampoo & Body Wash. That’s right. It’s for a baby but works great in laundry too.
GD MEG used these when in California at the place they rented regularly and was damned impressed with how well they worked!
What are soap nuts?
According to the farmer’s almanac, Soap nuts are actually the dried shells (or husks) from the soapberry nut, which come from the Sapindus mukorossi tree—a unique species of trees found in both the eastern and western hemispheres, but native to the tropical conditions of India and Nepal. Even though they are called nuts, they are actually dried berries, making them a safe option for people with nut allergies.
Here’s what you do: put 4 – 6 nuts in a natural muslin bag that ties shut. Remove them from the laundry after you are done and let them dry. These can be used several times before you have to ditch them for new ones. When the shells start to get soft and gray, toss them in the compost.
Wool dryer balls work by bouncing their way in between wet layers of clothing that would otherwise stick together. The separation of the layers of clothes allows warm air to dry your clothes more quickly. These wool dryer balls also absorb some of the moisture, adding a second layer of drying to the mix. AND BONUS, they reduce static. Yay!
- Cost-effective compared to dryer sheets
- Reduce energy used by helping clothes dry 20-30% faster
- Made of naturally sourced, non-toxic materials, unlike plastic dryer balls
- Can be reused up to 1,000 loads of laundry
- Reduce static electricity build-up in the dryer
- Can be used with a drop of essential oil to add all-natural fragrance
- Once used up, they can be composted at home or in municipal facilities
- Or turned over to the kids and cats to play with
- Often comes in a cotton bag that can also be reused and composted
- Plus it’s much prettier than those boxes dryer sheets come in
DIY Dryer Balls from lonely old socks
Dr. Karen S. Lee… stuffing old socks with Lavender and flaxseed
Does anyone line dry anymore?
There is nothing like the smell of fresh line-dried sheets and clothing. GD Lisa is going to hang a line in their new yard this spring.
When you choose to shop instead of DIY
We don’t always have time or energy to make your own. Check out the companies we mentioned on last week’s show or on our website under Companies We Dig to keep your clothes clean while lowering your impact on the planet.