Thursday, December 9, 2010

30 Days of Solar Energy

We celebrated our 1st 30 Days of Solar Energy this week!  So, you ask, how did the 1st month go?

We had our CT Clean Energy Fund inspection (after all, if they are providing grant monies, the job has to be done to their satisfaction) which went well.  A few nit-picky things (sorry, but needing stickers?  I'm sure it's important, but the poor electrician from Sunlight Solar had to go up on my roof this morning with temps in the teens!) which were corrected very quickly.

Here's the inspector checking out the roof.  Anyone else tired of seeing pictures of my roof yet?

We were pretty excited to learn that in 30 days (MANY of them cloudy - but hey, that's November for you) we had generated over 600 kWh.  We also surpassed the 1000 mark for pounds of CO2 saved!  I've been using the Mohlers in West Hartford as my benchmark, and I think we'll surpass their 12,000 lbs saved in a year.  We might also have better orientation and sun exposure than they do.

The CT Solar Lease program required us to do a quarterly meter reading for December.  While we have a modem-type device attached to the system that will update automatically to a website we can check, I'm not sure our own website was fully up and running so we did the reading and submittal the old-fashioned way.

What did our electric bill look like?  It looked really low!  $44 vs. the $167 for the same month last year, and we cut our grid use by 75%.  (Not bad for a 5 BR household with an in-law apartment with lots of lights & the TV going a good part of the day.) Honestly though, I kind of expected we'd have NO bill.  I suppose that was silly though, because we need lights at night, when we're not generating solar energy, and we don't store the energy - it goes out to the street if we're not using it.  I was also in the habit of running the dishwasher at night after dinner when we went to bed, and running the dryer at night (because it's easier to fold clothes without 2 kids jumping on the clothes pile I'm trying to fold.)  Hubby pointed out that I need to change my energy-usage habits and do those things during the daytime when we're generating.  That's grossly obvious but I hadn't thought of it yet.  Yesterday I even cooked dinner during the daytime (a roast in the crockpot.)   

I think we're generating a lot more energy than we're using too.  The day the CCEF inspector was here, he said we had generated 421 kWh and sold back 301 of them to CL&P.  I can't wait to see the credits add up.  

Isn't this a riot?  My neighbor who has to look at my solar array from his yard dubbed it "The Minnick-Hendrix Roof Guitar!"  Very clever, Fielding, very clever!

In other news, we're trying to get involved with a new energy-reduction pilot program but we've been having trouble connecting with the local contact.  I'm not even sure what it's all about, but if GREEN guru Andy Bauer is involved, it must be good!   

Thursday, December 2, 2010

MAMA GONE GREEN is my Guest!

I'm so happy to share a guest post/quick tip with you today from one of my favorite daily reads, MamaGoneGreen.  Special thanks to Taryn!  Please stop by her blog - I know you'll enjoy reading her as much as I do :)

Quick Tips: Handwashing

 Tis the season for germ spreading and hand washing, right? Here are a couple of quick tips from Mindy Pennybackers Do One Green Thing that will help you make some more informed choices when choosing what to wash your hands with.

When possible, avoid regular handwashing with antibacterial soaps containing triclosan because this chemical spreads antibiotic-resistant bacteria (which means that when we actually ARE sick and really do need those antibiotics, they may no longer work!). Also, washing with antibiotic soap is no more effective than soap and water at killing germs anyways, so it is really unnecessary. Lastly, the production of triclosan (to put in the soap) releases dioxins into the environment, which can cause cancer. Yuck.

One last quick tip: when choosing between bar and liquid soap, choose the bar version. Bar soap has less ingredients AND less packaging than liquid soap, making it better for the environment, and probably better for your health as well.

Wash well!