Thursday, January 27, 2011

Photovoltaic Avalanche!

For my local readers, you know exactly how much snow we've been getting this month - record breaking historic snowfalls in fact!  For my long-distance readers, we've had snowfalls leaving us with 29 inches of snow, 18 inches of snow, and lots of smaller amounts sprinkled in.  It's one of those winters we'll always remember as the one where we had snowstorms every week, and where the kids only had a few full days of school the entire month.  My composter is buried somewhere under all that white stuff.  There's no where left to put the snow, the piles are so high. While I know it is difficult for most of us, and lots of people are grumpy over this, I'm smiling a little inside for all the folks in the snow removal business.  I hope they make piles of money, and I hope one of them will use that money to buy Knowles Landing! (hint hint)  See, I'm such an optimist :)

With a new solar array on our roof, we were a little nervous riding out that first big storm which dumped almost 2 1/2 feet of snow on our solar panels.  I had visions of the southern roof collapsing on my children's bedrooms.  It felt like a long night.  Neighbors even asked how our roof was holding up which only made me more nervous.  No worries though...once the clouds broke and the sun came out, the snow over the biggest portion of the array slid right off the roof and we were producing solar energy again.  Yes!

Apparently we weren't the only ones worried, because Sunlight Solar sent out a special winter edition newsletter discussing this exact topic!  They eased our concerns by reminding us that our array was designed specifically for our roof using their calculations based on our rafter and roof span measurements and potential additional weight of snow.  Concern #2 was about whether or not we're producing energy with the snow covering.  Their reassurance is that with net metering, which we do, we're looking at the overall energy produced annually, and with the days already getting longer, we shouldn't worry about a few days of snow cover.  They also don't recommend trying to remove the snow manually, as any damage to the photovoltaic panels will void the warranty.  Plus it could be dangerous.  Several feet of snow falling at you rather quickly and all.

After last night's huge storm our roof was covered in snow.  Out came the sun though, and around 10am, with a sound like a distant rumble of thunder, a HUGE avalanche of snow fell from my roof, going right past the window where I was sitting at the computer.  Startled, I yelped and heard my little one screaming with delight at the "waterfall of snow" she was witnessing from the window below me!  Sunlight Solar had explained that once a section of the array is uncovered, it doesn't take long for the rest to come off.  This is my roof around lunchtime today!

So, a new note to add to the "advice for people considering photovoltaics" is to remember that when all that snow falls off, whatever lies below WILL be buried and possibly broken (my poor scotch pine shrub broke into pieces after the 1st snowfall's avalanche.)  I would also remind the kids not to walk within a 6 ft radius of the edge of the foundation for fear of any snow falling on them.

The sun is setting for the day, but rest assured that even with only half of my roof uncovered we were still producing at 7.41kW the other day :)  

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

52% Growth Rate in Environment-Related Careers

While out for some family fun the other day, hubby & I struck up a conversation about vacation week camps for the kids.  It seems obvious that we'd send the children to French camp (like we did with Julien when he was 5) or fencing camp (on the short list for this summer) but we love the idea of science-themed camps as well.  Apparently there are other science choices these days besides space camp (which I'm pretty sure we can't afford) or robotics.  Hubby said he thinks GREEN jobs are the "wave of the future" - that sounds so dated!  It got me thinking though.

This article I found on was pretty interesting.  It's called Green My Major and lists the "hottest environmentally-friendly majors" as:

Environmental Design/Architecture
Eco-Fashion Design
Green Food Science
Marine Biology
Urban Planning

Those all sound pretty interesting, don't you think?

The statistic that jumped out at me immediately was one produced by USA Today and cited in the article - environmental-related careers will grow at a rate of 52% between the years of 2000-2016.  To meet this demand, American colleges & universities have created 100 or so new environment-related majors, minors & concentrations.  The average growth rate in other fields was 14%.  Hmmm....while my little ones won't be in the adult work force by 2016...this still seems significant.  As both of my kids have announced they'd like to be scientists (although from time to time they stray to police detectives, spies, plumbers, and a cocktail waitress)  considering environmental, energy-related or GREEN work should not be overlooked.

(My little scientists enjoying the DaVinci exhibit in Rome this past summer.)

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Happy New Year!

Ahhh.....Holiday Hiatus Over!  As much as I love the holidays, I have to admit it's kind of nice to get back to a regular routine.  Not that this week has been anything close to normal yet - beginning of the year in real estate (and probably with many of your jobs) is super busy.  Add to that the amazing little rental listing I put on the market that has my phone and email going crazy with renters, and it's been non-stop.  Seriously, I had 15 calls the first 2 days, and I've had a steady stream of them since.  I think we need more quality rentals in my area!  Somebody jump on that, ok?  I've got a list of renters all looking if anyone is thinking of putting a rental on the market!  Or if you're thinking of buying an investment property to rent me and we'll get cracking!

Did anyone else in town catch that we're getting a furniture consignment shop in the village center?  That's very GREEN!  I love it!  I don't know who is opening it, but I wish them the best, and I promise to come in and browse and will very likely bring in some items to consign.  You already know that I'm a fan of repurposing furniture as opposed to destroying it.  (I'm always in awe of my friends who show me a gorgeous piece of furniture they picked up for $15 and refinished or fixed up with new paint & upholstery!)  By the way, although I've yet to make the trip to Cromwell to visit the new Habitat for Humanity ReStore, I hear from a friend who volunteers there that the store is hopping!  I'm so happy to hear that.  They may still be looking for volunteers to help in the store, so feel free to contact them if you're looking for local volunteer opportunities.  Here are some photos from their website for new arrivals - looks like a nice selection!

Has anyone else been down to Stamford's United House Wrecking?  I can't begin to tell you how wonderful this place is - you have to go for yourselves!  Just browse the fireplace mantels and tell me which one would look best in my family room...

I recently visited the furniture consignment store in West Hartford (near Main St. Pizza and that excellent Indian restaurant.)  In my humble opinion, it was overpriced but they did have some whimsical pieces that made me smile.  I'm a fan of stores like that, and I miss the wonderful antiques stores we used to have here in the village center.  It was just a year ago that I wrote about supporting local businesses, using the 3/50 Project.  I like the Small Business Saturday idea too.  I appreciate the local movement and I support my local businesses as much as I can.  I hope you can too :)

Have a Happy & GREEN New Year!