Reasons to Go Solar After Moving to California

When I moved to California 5 years ago, I was shocked by the sheer amount of sunshine this beautiful state receives. As the moving company long distance crew was still unloading the moving truck from my Los Angeles interstate move, I was already contemplating how quickly I could get solar panels installed on my roof. In Maine, where I moved from, there are simply not enough days of sun to make solar panels practical. So, you can imagine my excitement when I moved to Cali and discovered its booming solar industry. Within a month of my relocation, my solar panels were installed and harnessing the sun’s energy to power my house. I couldn’t be happier with my decision! For those that are new to the area, here are five reasons why you should jump on the solar energy train after a move to the Golden State.

Save Money

One of the main reasons why Californians switch from traditional sources of electricity to solar energy is to save money. Energy produced from the sun can provide you and your family with endless power, and it’s nice when you can pay less than what you’re used to due to a solar-powered home. You can even extend solar energy to different parts of your house, including lighting, water heating and cooling, and other different technologies. And since solar panels are low maintenance and can last up to 20-30 years without needing inspection, you can save a lot of money on repairs as well.
California is a prime state for solar panel installations because many cities experience 200+ days of sunshine annually.

Create Jobs

When you invest in solar energy, you’re also helping to create numerous jobs for your fellow Californians. The Solar Foundation has reported that employment in the solar industry has increased 12 times faster than the overall economy in 2015, and has continued to grow since. And to support the economy, provide for your community, and keep higher-paying jobs within the state, it’s best to transition to solar energy.
Installing solar panels on your roof may help lower your monthly energy bill, plus it’s sustainable, which means it’s better for the environment. A win-win for everyone!

Help the Environment

Making the switch to using solar-powered electricity is good for the environment as it’s naturally produced by the sun. Other sources of energy such as gasoline or coal can release harmful gasses that can both damage the atmosphere and contribute to the rising issue of global warming. Solar energy is a clean source of power and can benefit everyone on the planet. A basic solar panel system in a residential home can even eliminate up to four tons of gas emissions each year, which is the equivalent of you personally planting 100 trees every single year. And since solar energy isn’t obtained by drilling, digging or mining, you also don’t have to worry about it running out after a certain number of years.

Increase Property Values

With more and more people transitioning to solar energy, homebuyers in California are quickly realizing that solar panels add tremendous value to a property. In fact, homes with integrated solar technology tend to sell quicker and at a higher price than homes without. And as the availability and use of solar panels continue to increase, the real estate market will follow suit and set higher prices for houses with solar panels. Even though you might have just moved to the area, it’s never too early to start thinking about building equity in one of the biggest investments you have: your home.


Top 5 Reasons to Consider Biking to Work

Remember your childhood days spent gleefully riding your bicycle everywhere you went? There was just something special about the wind blowing through your hair and the beauty of nature all around you. With such fond childhood memories of days spent on two wheels, it’s no wonder so many Americans have started parking their cars and hopping on their bicycles to get to work. According to Governing.com’s report from the 2011 US Census, at least 777,000 people used their bikes for their daily commutes to work.

If you are tired of paying all the money needed for fuel and upkeep of a car, you may also be thinking about riding a bicycle to work. Here are some things to consider about bike commuting:

1. Biking to Work Saves Your Money

In 2013, USA Today.com printed AAA Club statistics that estimated it costs approximately $10,000 a year to upkeep and drive a sedan-style car every year. Since it is an average, you may be paying even more to maintain and provide fuel for higher-cost vehicles. You must also figure in possible parking fees in larger neighborhoods or at your work site.

Burn calories extra calories by riding your bike instead of driving.

Treehugger.com carefully calculates the cost of riding to work on your bicycle. The site adds maintenance cost and your daily lunch (which is fuel for riding the bike), which averages to about $821.25 a year. If you subtract bike traveling costs from driving your car, you get a difference of $9,178.75. What could you and your family do with that money in your savings account?

2. Biking Provides Great Physical Fitness

It is hard to believe that you actually burn calories when you drive a car (being a passenger does not count). CalorieLab.com estimates that car drivers burn about 17 calories every 15 minutes. If you have a round-trip drive to work every day, you can expect to burn about 34 calories. While you are technically burning calories, you are not doing much to tone your body and work your muscles. Now, let us compare these statistics with biking to work.

There are several variables to consider: your weight, how fast you are going, terrain, and how far you go. For example, if you are an average-sized 175 lb. male who rides 14-16mph for the half-hour trip to work, you will burn approximately 397 calories. Bicycling.com has a handy calculator to figure your average. Livestrong.com reports that bicycling incorporates your leg muscles and upper body muscles. You get a good workout on the bike compared to sitting at driving wheel.

3. Pure Fun

Riding a bicycle brings back the nostalgia of being a kid again. You get to feel the whip of a fresh breeze and see all the beauty of nature along your path. Since most major cities have designated bike lanes on the road, you will not have to deal as frequently with traffic jams. When your stress is reduced, you will also have less anxiety and can experience a mood boost, says an article from Psychology Today.com.

Riding bicycle is fun; you get to enjoy being a kid again while getting into shape.
Riding bicycle is fun; you get to enjoy being a kid again while getting into shape.

4. Increased Safety

Science Daily.com relates a study from the University of Wales which shows a correlation between the increased number of bicyclists on the road and the decrease in bicycle/automobile accidents. Part of the study opines that car drivers may be more alert to their fellow bicycle travelers and make better driving decisions.

5. Kinder to The Environment

Automobiles require gasoline as fuel and oil for operation. They also need several other chemicals to make various engine parts to run efficiently. Even with the lower carbon emission laws across the nation, cars make up 26% of the annual carbon emissions put into the atmosphere each year, says a report from the EPA. Bicycles require no fossil fuel to run and they put out zero emissions.

If more people consider biking to work, these benefits can continue to increase. There will be less dependence on fossil fuels and a reduction in the greenhouse gasses. For these reasons, you can join the people who happily pedal their way to their daily jobs.


Tips for Starting Your Own Organic Compost Pile

There is no such thing as perfect soil. No matter where you live, your soil will require some amendments to have a productive garden. One of the easiest ways to get proper nutrients for your soil is with a compost pile. Whether you live in the country in the city, there are ways to create your own organic compost pile.

It is not difficult to compost. There are only a few easy steps: making the compost pile, providing organic materials, and turning and watering the compost as needed. Here’s a guide to get you started

Making the Compost Pile

Where should I put it?

The location is one of the most important steps for starting a compost pile. It should be a convenient place for you to work in it. You should find level ground that is spacious and has proper drainage. Puddled water is not good for compost. Your location should have a good mix of sun and shade. If there is not enough shade, your compost will dry out. You just need enough sun to make sure that the pile does not stay too damp. When you are locating your pile, try to avoid places where pets and other wildlife may scavenge.

How big should I make it?

According to Calreycle.org, a good size for a compost pile is 3 feet X 3 feet. If you live in the city, there may be ordinances that govern the size of your pile. A smaller one is fine if you keep it turned and watered well. If you do not have a compost bin, you should start your pile on the ground. Your compost will not cure properly if you start it on cement or blacktop. Some gardeners build their pile on old wooden pallets.

What to Add to The Compost Pile

You can compost most organic matter; however, there are some things that should never go into your pile:

• Dog or cat waste
• Human waste
• Ash from coal or charcoal
• Weeds or diseased plants
• Meat, dairy, or oil food products

When you make compost, you need a healthy blend of carbon (brown) and nitrogen (green). Layer them in a way that you would a cake, says gardenguide.com:

• First layer: It is best to start your pile with browns, such as straw and small sticks. Make the layer about 6 inches deep.

• Second layer: Now it is time to build up the nitrogen with some greens. This is a great way to use your leaves, grass clippings, and kitchen waste. For an extra boost of nutrition, mix in some animal manure (i.e. cow, horse). It will add helpful microbes and vamp up the heating process. This layer should also be about 6 inches thick.

• Additional layers: Over time, alternate layers of green and brown materials until you have reached about three feet tall (or to the top of your compost bin). As you add another layer, water it lightly. Do not compact the layers too tightly, or it will be difficult to turn.

How to Water and Turn Your Compost

Healthy compost is not soggy; rather, it is lightly moist. Rain and wet green waste will provide most of the moisture for your pile. It is still recommended to occasionally water the pile so it does not dry out. Do not despair if your compost gets too wet. Just turn it more frequently or add more brown materials to absorb the extra water.

All the materials will get a good mixing when you turn it for the first time. Use a shovel or pitchfork to turn the pile frequently. The materials will decompose faster, and you will have better aeration.

When you use these easy composting tips, you will soon have the “black gold” that is so coveted by gardeners. You will notice more abundant flowers and healthier produce. If you’re still not convinced, there are lots of other great reasons to start composting.