10 Types of Energy Sources

electricity produced with 4 wires connecting

There are many different sources of energy nature gave us unconditionally, so we can use them to generate power. It sounds unbelievable, but those forces are so strong and constant, that with the help of them, we can provide everything we need in this modern-day life. Thanks to the sun, wind, earth, and water, we can generate electricity that will run our cars, lighten up our lights, provide heat for our homes, etc. Here are the top ten energy sources all of us can use.

1. Solar energy

Solar energy is the energy of the sun that’s collected by solar panels and then generated into electricity. We know that the number of house owners who decided to use solar systems in order to power up their homes is getting bigger and bigger every day, but there is also a possibility of using power from small substations that are supplied by solar energy through huge panel fields placed in deserts, for example. There is, however, one problem with solar energy. It is not available to everyone with the same capacity. How much solar light you will get depends on where you live, the precise location.

2. Wind energy

Even though solar power is definitely number one when it comes to natural energy sources, the wind is slowly becoming its fare rival. The whole idea around this phenomenon is to use the power of the wind to launch and turn large wind turbines that will power up the generator and create electricity.

The wind farms are very popular and widespread, but there are some questions regarding the environment that created some concerns and needed to be asked. For example, how do they affect our environment? It is proven that wind farms could be dangerous to wildlife, especially birds, and there is also a matter of noise produced by turbines.

3. Geothermal energy

Geothermal energy is sustainable power created inside the ground we are walking on. Radioactive partials beneath the earth’s crust are raising the temperature in the ground. Because of that, hot rocks are turning water inside the core into the steam, and steam is making the ground turbines work and generate electricity. This natural source is usually used for residential or industrial needs for space and water heating, but the greatest problem with it is the fact that it is not available all around the world. Geothermal energy can be produced only at specific spots.

4. Hydrogen energy

When we talk about hydrogen energy, we actually talk about water power, because two-thirds of water’s chemical construction is this element. It can be used as a fuel that will generate electricity if it gets separated from other elements. Hydrogen is another source that can be used to provide our homes with lights and heat, but it can also power rockets, ships, cars, and other vehicles. The best thing is that it is a renewable source that can be created on-demand, and it will not leave any harmful traces in the atmosphere.

5. Tidal energy

The energy created by the tide is quite unbelievable. It is based on kinetic energy that follows incoming and outgoing tides that are converted into electrical energy. Coastal areas are known as the best ones to use this sort of natural source. That’s one of the greatest advantages of tidal energy if you look at it from a perspective of coastal people, but it is also its huge disadvantage, given that it’s therefore limited to certain areas. Another thing that’s a downside is that it seeks for great investments in order to be used. Tidal energy is a renewable source of power, and it has the ability to produce a significant amount of energy, even in situations where tides are at the lowest speeds.

6. Wave energy

The ocean turns out to be tremendous and a multiple source of energy. Besides tidal, there is also wave energy that is based on the movement under the water surface. It is one of the greatest sources of energy since it is environmental-friendly, renewable, and safe for the atmosphere. Same as tidal, it can be used in coastal places, so those countries don’t have to be trapped by the dependence of fuel that is purchased from foreign countries. However, there are some downsides of wave energy – it can be harmful to the marine ecosystem, it can disturb water vehicles, and it is very much dependent on wavelength.

7. Hydroelectric energy

A huge number of people, the whole cities, actually can be dependent on hydroelectric energy. This source has excellent power. Every damn work on the strength of water because it is used to turn the generators, which then produce electricity. That way hydroelectric energy supplies electrical stations with electricity everyone can use to power up their homes, machines, vehicles, etc. The biggest problem this type of energy faces is the fact that most dams are old and technologically outdated, and it takes a lot of work and money to make them more safe, productive, and current.

8. Biomass energy

Organic materials can be transformed into biomass energy that can be used in many ways. We are talking about crops, trees, plants, wood chips, yard clippings, and animal waste. All those things can generate power adequate for home heating, cooking, or they can be used for fuel in industrial production. The whole process is based on burning biomass materials in a combustor or furnace, which will produce hot gas. Then, that gas goes into a boiler that will generate steam, which will be expanded by the steam engine in order to produce usable energy. The disadvantage of this source is that it can create a big amount of carbon dioxide, which is released into the atmosphere.

9. Nuclear power

There is a huge dilemma about how efficient and safe it is to use nuclear energy as a source of power because of the dangerous waste in leaves behind, but the fact is that at this moment, it is one of the biggest renewable sources of energy in the world. This energy is created thanks to the unique nuclear reaction, which is then collected and directed into the power generators. This energy is usually used for generating heat through steam turbines that create electricity in nuclear power plants. Nuclear power can be generated by nuclear fusion, nuclear fission, and nuclear decay.

10. Fossil fuels

If we are talking about fossil fuels, we are referring to the coil, natural gas, and oil. These are the main sources of power in most parts of the world. Oil can be transformed into several products, but the most popular is gasoline, while the natural gas, which is not so popular as coil and oil, is presented in the form of heating source and power that launches vehicles. The reason there is a huge controversy when it comes to using these natural sources is the fact the process of getting them out of the soil and converting them into the usable power is causing heavy destruction and pollution of the environment. Besides that, people forget that these sources are limited, experts predict that we will be able to use them only for another 100 years.

Conclusion

There is no way we can say with absolute certainty which one of these energy sources is best for us. They all come with some advantages and disadvantages, it’s up to us to assess what are our priorities, and what will create less or non-damage to our planet. Experts are underlining that the most important thing is to change the way we consume energy that comes from nature and to create a balance between that will make these sources sustainable.

List of 25 Biggest Environmental Issues

We have a lot to worry about. Our planet, the only one we have, is more fragile than ever and exposed to a lot of threats. Even though we are fighting to admit it, we are the ones who are responsible for that, collectively. It’s on us the fact that the air, water, and soil are polluted to the alarming level, or that we do nothing, or at least too little about climate change. It’s on us the fact deforestation is even a thing that has its name, or that nuclear issues even exist. So let’s take a second to acknowledge that and accept the responsibility. If you wonder what are the top 25 biggest environmental problems, besides these previously mentioned ones, here is the list.

Current Environmental Problems

1. Air pollution

One of the biggest global environmental issues is air pollution. The air we breathe is very much contaminated by gasses and poisons released by industrial and manufacturing plants. The air becomes polluted when a huge amount of harmful substances are released into Earth’s atmosphere. One of the most contagious toxins are industry and engine vehicle fumes.

2. Water pollution

When it comes to water and soil pollution, it can happen so easily and so fast, but it will take years for them to recover completely. It’s very much alarming the fact that clean drinking water is becoming a rare thing in some parts of the world, and politicians shamefully turned that into a monetary. The most common water polluters are industrial and agricultural waste, acid rain, and urban sprawl.

3. Land pollution

The contamination of our soil is mostly caused by mechanical waste, and it leads to the degradation of the Earth’s surface. Human activities, like mining, agricultural, industrial, and construction work, as well as deforestation, are the ones that are responsible. The thing that’s concerning is that soil pollution affects the quality of air and water too, which negatively affects human health. It’s a vicious circle that’s difficult to stop.

4. Global warming

The term global warming refers to the rise of the Earth’s climate system’s average temperature, caused by humans. Thanks to the burning of fossil fuels, the greenhouse gasses are being released into the atmosphere. They trap the sun’s warmth and raise up the air and soil temperature, which is causing a huge environmental change that brings out many unexpected consequences like melting ice, ocean disruption, and extreme weather.

5. Climate change

Global warming has a significant impact on global climate change. These two phenomena are linked. The irresponsible human behavior leads to raising the temperature of Earth’s climate system, and that causes considerable shifts in weather output. Because of that, we have floods and droughts, devastating storms, tornados, and other natural disasters in many places on Earth.

6. Increased carbon footprint

Based on temperature increment, there are a lot of greenhouse gasses present in the atmosphere. That’s something that can potentially cause many problems. A carbon footprint is basically a total greenhouse gas emission expressed as carbon dioxide equivalent. 

7. Deforestation

It is well known that forests are the ones that create new oxygen we all depend on. So it’s devastating to hear that areas that are covered by trees are taking only 30 percent of the Earth’s surface and that they are diminishing more and more because people are cutting them for different reasons, without even thinking about the consequences of their actions.

8. Genetic modification

Genetic modification procedures allow people to change the basic and natural characteristics of micro-organism, plans, and animals, by crossbreeding pieces of different DNA. It is a genetic manipulation performed by scientists in an attempt to win over nature. There is a huge moral dilemma regarding this topic, but it’s certain that these experiments brought us some serious problems and challenges.

9. Effect on marine life

There is a disproportionately large amount of carbon in the atmosphere and water all around the world, which is a big problem since it affects the living world under the water surface. The most vulnerable are microscopic fish and shellfish.

10. Overpopulation

Current environmental issues include overpopulation. It is a bit harsh to say this, but experts say that our planet is overcrowded and that overpopulation is a potentially big problem since it reached unsustainable levels. There are not enough assets like water and food to satisfy the basic needs of every human being.

overpopulated buildings

11. Public health

The great number of people that are living in third world countries are in danger because they don’t have access to clean drinking water. Because of that, their health and well being is compromised and in great danger.

12. Loss of biodiversity

Since there is a problem with overpopulation, people started inhabiting so far unoccupied areas, which means they started destroying forests and polluting what used to be clean natural surfaces. As a result, there is a huge loss of biodiversity. Many animal and plant spices are extinguished by now, which can have a great effect on our future, negatively.

13. Household and industrial waste

We are living in a time where we don’t think enough about the consequences of our behavior, so there is overutilization of many assets, like plastic, for example. The fact that plastic needs thousands of years to decompose is alarming because it ends up in our soil and water constantly.

14. Ozone layer depletion

The ozone layer that’s surrounding our planet is protecting us from harmful sunbeams. But there are some depletions of this layer because of the contamination caused by Chlorine and Bromide that can be found in Chlorofluorocarbons. When they reach the atmosphere, they are creating holes in the ozone layer.

15. Natural resource depletion

There are some natural resources that are non-renewable, but we are persistent in using them. That will, most certainly, lead to the point where they will be expired, which will then have some serious repercussions. The excessive consumption of fossil fuels can increase the global temperature, which will then provoke ice caps melting and the massive increase in sea levels.

16. Mining

The continuous extraction of minerals that can be found in Earth’s core is achieved by mining. We do need some of them in order to live the life we are used to, but the thing is, when we bring them up from the soil, they can come with some harmful chemicals that can pollute our water and air we breathe.

17. Natural disasters

The power of nature is unquestionable. The unpredictable earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, floods, cyclones, tsunamis, etc. can be the cause of the death of many people and the destruction of people’s property.

18. Nuclear issues

Nuclear plants contain radioactive waste in the form of nuclear fuel, that’s actually a by-product of nuclear power generation. The way this waste is being dismissed is the main concern because it represents a huge endanger to our environment. It’s toxic and has an extremely catastrophic effect on the life of people who live in that area.

19. Loss of endangered species

The fact that our planet is overpopulated is no joke. People are searching for new regions and spots they can create a life on, and because of that, many animal and plant species are being distinguished. Environmental frameworks are changing since many endangered species are lost until now.

20. Acid rain

Acid rain can happen if some kind of poisonous substance is present in the climate. It is, in a way, regular rain, but it is extremely acidic because it has elevated levels of hydrogen ions. It can be very harmful, and it’s usually brought up by volcanoes, the usage of fossil fuels, or spoiling vegetation that emits sulfur dioxide.

21. Noise pollution

This may sound silly, but noise and light pollution is actually a thing. The sound of construction, heavy traffic, or industrialization can greatly affect our lives. We are talking about an extreme amount of unpleasant noise that will create a huge impact on human and animal activity.

22. Agricultural pollution

It is well known that chemical products like pesticides and fertilizers are being used in agriculture, in order to protect planted fruits and vegetables. Some of them evaporate, but many will stay on the yields and harm them, the crops, and eventually us.

23. Urban sprawl

When we are talking about urban sprawl, we are referring to people relocating from cities to provincial areas with low density. That leads to the spreading of the urban centers in a rustic and unpopulated area, which brings on the environmental concerns.

24. Medical waste

There is a huge need for hospitals and other health centers, but there is a problem of how medical waste is being disposed of. That’s everything that’s used in large quantities in these facilities, like gloves, needles, syringes, blades, tubes, etc., but also body parts and blood. All that can contaminate our environment significantly.

25. Littering and landfills

Among environmental issues today are definitely littering and landfills. Littering refers to disposing the garbage in the wrong location or on the ground, which can lead to a big environmental and economic problem because there needs to be an investment in cleaning up the polluted areas. Landfills are another problem since they can produce dangerous gases that could be fatal for animals and humans.

Solutions to Environmental Issues

Now, we need to accept reality, but not to cry over it. It’s on us to do everything we can in order to make some changes regarding these issues and to improve the conditions we live in. There are several ways we can contribute to our planet’s well being, and there’s no reason to wait with their implementation.

Affordable and clean energy

The first thing we all can do is to turn to clean and affordable energy. We are talking about solar, wind, and thermal energy sources that are renewable, eco-friendly, and cost-effective. According to experts in this field, renewable energy is the number one tool that can help us fight against climate change since these technologies can displace emissions from fossil fuels. Adopting these technologies also means reducing global electricity consumption in a great amount.

Sustainable homes

It is a well-known fact that traditional households contribute to CO2 emission and the greenhouse effect, just like global warming, and that it is essential to shift to sustainable homes in order to regain natural sources balance and protect our health. These houses are environmentally healthy, energy-efficient, and as comfortable and regular ones, and they are based on alternative energy resources. We are talking about the usage of solar panels for homes, wind turbines as their main systems, about geothermal heat pumps, rainwater collector systems, gray water systems, etc.

mother with son standing beside solar panels

Conserving the natural resources

You wouldn’t believe how conservation of natural sources can help with this matter. That’s the process of rational usage and preservation of our environment and everything it has to give. Many natural resources are non-renewable, and their extensive usage is disturbing the natural balance, which leads to some serious consequences regarding our life on the planet. Some ways in which we can contribute when it comes to conserving natural sources are recycling, protecting our forests, driving fewer cars, buying fewer things or at least purchasing products made of recycled materials, conserving energy at home, etc.

Improved food production

Food production is one of the biggest factors of climate change. Since it is creating huge environmental damage in the form of polluting the environment due to an over-usage of nitrogen and phosphorus fertilizers, it is crucial to improve these processes and make sure they are less affecting our planet. The recommendation is to change the global diets towards planet-based nutrition with less animal-based food, highly processed foods, refined grains, added sugars, etc. The other solution is to reduce food waste, to apply new technologies of agriculture, to adopt water conservation, and improve the irrigation systems.

Carbon capture and sequestration

The process of carbon capture and sequestration includes capturing the carbon dioxide at the emission sources, storing it, usually deep underground, and isolating it. That can help us fight global warming and creating greener energy. Thanks to the power plants and excessive usage of vehicles that burn fossil fuels, the amount of CO2 in the air is larger than it should be, and that leads to raising the temperature of the planet. That’s why carbon capture, mainly directly from the power plants, is important if we tend to prolong the life of the planet we are living on.

Conclusion

When we see the statistics and hear about how our lifestyle badly affects our planet, we tend to become very worried and concerned, but the fact is, very few of us make an effort in order to change the current situation. The experts from all around the world are constantly bombing us with devastating information with the intent to make us wake up and start acting on these matters because the clock is ticking, but it seems like we are extremely passive and unveiling to make some changes. That has to end. We have to take our lives into our own hands and show that we are ready to help our planet survive our own negligence. And the truth is, we can do that, together, by adopting small changes and living according to them, day by day.

Sustainable Living – How to Embrace Sustainable Lifestyle?

There are many people in the world who claim that sustainable living is our only option if we want to make sure we have a future as a human race. It may sound a bit dramatic and catastrophic, but it’s not so far from the truth if you really think about it. Sustainability lifestyle is teaching us how to, as individuals, but as a society too, reduce the usage of Earth’s natural sources, how to preserve what we have, what mother nature gave us in the first place. It’s about choices we make every day – to ride a bike instead of a car, to reduce energy consumption, to recycle, to choose renewable energy and use paper instead of plastic bags, etc. So if you wonder how to embrace all that, how to make sure you do whatever it needs to be done in order to know our planet is protected and taken care of, here is the list you need to follow.

Choose minimalism

This may sound confusing because most people will primarily think about interior design, but we are actually talking about lifestyle. In this domain, minimalism implies you should own and use only those things that you really need. Everything is about making sure things we possess we benefit from in the maximum capacity. People who decide to live like this practice recycling, use waste products, and show great support to those manufacturers who are being guided by sustainability as the main principle.

Be part of a community garden

It would be good for you to become a member of a community garden and start growing your own crops because that’s something that can connect you to your environment and raise the awareness of how important it is to experience satisfying labor. This way, you will also be able to contribute to spreading the word of importance when it comes to sustainable living in your area because more green spaces mean fewer carbon emissions in urban regions. 

Use natural cleanser

We all know how damaging it is for our environment to use all those household chemicals, but we still do it because we believe the alternative is too complicated. We assure you that it isn’t, and that will take you just an hour to research and make some natural cleanser that will do the same work just fine. For example, water and vinegar are a combination that will make most surfaces super clean.  The idea is to keep our soil and water system free of harmful substances these products mostly contain.

Change the house lights

It would be great if we could make some effort to try and be less dependent on energy resources. In order to achieve that you should change the traditional light bulbs with CFL, you should use skylights and try entering more natural light in your home, for example. That way, you will spend less of the generated energy, but you will also reduce the amount of waste that goes into landfills.

Say no to traffic

You are not even aware of how much you can contribute to preserving the environment if you make a decision not to use your car in order to transport yourself from one place to another. If you decide that instead of driving a four-wheeler, you use your bike, your legs, or at least carpool, you will significantly reduce air pollution, but you will also promote your health. Even this last option, carpooling, is the right choice because it will enable fewer car pollutants wandering on our streets.

Read more and play board games

When hearing this as a suggestion that will lead to more sustainable living, most people wonder how. What is the connection between reading a book and taking care of our environment? But the answer is very simple – if we reduce the time spent on entertainment that depends on energy resources, we will contribute to sustainability for sure. So take that book, find a perfect spot, and enjoy yourself. Also, playing board games is another great option.

Apply natural sleep schedule

This advice can be interpreted as a continuation of the one that says how you should shift towards natural light. The idea is to live and go through your daily activities, at least most of them, during the day, when you don’t need artificial lighting.  And as the night comes along, you should bring your obligations to an end, and prepare yourself for the bed. If you follow the natural sleep schedule, you will reduce the usage of electricity.

Recycle, reduce, and reuse

All those things mentioned in the caption will reduce your need to purchase new products. That will go perfectly with the minimalism principle, but also, it will create less waste, and our environment will remain cleaner and safer. The ability to learn how to reuse some products or how to find a new purpose for other objects can be challenging, and it may take some time, but eventually, you will find joy in doing things that way, that’s for sure.

Unplug devices

Most of you may not know that, but our electronic devices are still drawing electricity, even if they are turned off. In order to reduce energy usage significantly, you can unplug every home appliance you don’t use that often. It’s okay for your TV or computer to stay plugged in, but you can definitely apply this advice on most kitchen stuff like coffee maker, toaster, mixer, etc. You will save energy and support a sustainable way of living, but at the same time, you will save some money, which will be visible on your next monthly bill.

Live in right-sized house

There is no place for exaggerations if you want to live a sustainable way of life. The experts in this matter say that one of the most important things is to live in a house that supports and reflects your choices. That means a smaller one, the one that will provide you with enough space but consume as little energy as possible. Another advice is to follow the greenhouse standards while building it, and to purchase furniture that is made with sustainability on their mind.

Change your washing habits

Even though this item is not physically on top of our list, in the real world, it most certainly is. It turns out that we are always watching something – our dishes, our clothes, ourselves or our home, and there are a few problems regarding that fact. First of all, scientists already proved that our immune system becomes weaker because of our obsessive need to be clean. Second of all, we tend to spend huge amounts of water in order to provide our goal, which is terrible for the environment. We all know there is not enough clean water in some parts of the world.  So our suggestion is to stop the water from pouring when you are in a shower until you are ready to wash the soap away.

Choose renewable energy

We are all aware that climate change is a huge problem that can compromise our future. So to stop these shifts, you should choose to use renewable energy instead of fossil fuels that are known to be harmful. Solar panels can heat your home, lighten up your backyard, they can enable you to cook and live the fullest life. The same thing is with wind turbines. But given that these things are asking for significant investment make sure to get tax credits from the government.

Purchase products with less packaging

This may seem like a little thing, but it actually is a huge contribution to environmental protection. When you are purchasing new things, pick those that have less packaging, because most of it, if not all, will end up in your trash, and later on in landfills. Even though that is a normal system in today’s societies, that doesn’t mean that it’s the best one since those huge piles of trash tremendously contaminate our soil. Thanks to that, the health of humans and animals is in danger as well.

Renounce of plastic

Please, please, please, say no to plastic. It is the material that never goes away, and it’s everywhere around us. The scientists say that it takes millions of years for plastic to decompose entirely, so our planet is becoming a huge plastic trash can that doesn’t have the capacity to hold it inside anymore. It affects our soil, the oceans, and marine life tremendously. Sea birds, seals, whales, and other fish are dying because of it continuously. So it’s definitely time to renounce plastic and reach for the good old paper bag.

Conclusion

It seems like it is our responsibility, and not only choice, to embrace all this advice and start living by them. It takes so little effort to greatly contribute to this huge cause, so we urge you to accept that and become a more responsible human being. Do that for this planet of yours. For you, your kids, and all future generations.

Air Pollution Causes: What Are the Effects & Solutions?

air polution

It’s almost terrifying that we can hear the word pollution attached to almost everything that makes our environment. It means that toxins, poisons, and other contaminants changed or violated the most important segments of our life – our soil, our air, or water that our life depends on. Today, we are going to talk about the fact that a lot of dangerous chemicals and gases are being released in our atmosphere, and what does that mean for us, and for plants and animals that are cohabitating this planet too.

Air pollution can be visible and invisible, and it can be a consequence of natural events and shifts or a result of human impact. But the thing is, either way, it affects our lives significantly, and in so many ways, that’s simply unacceptable to continue with this ignorance and indifference we show when this topic pops up. So here are all the facts you need to know in order to take this a bit more seriously and do something about it.

Types of Pollutants

The most common division of pollution types is the one that says there are primarily air pollutants and secondary pollutants. Classified in the first group are pollutants that are a direct result of some process. The perfect example would be sulfur-dioxide that’s emitted from many factories. Secondary pollutants are those that were created by reactions and intermingling of primary pollutants. If you need an example, here is one – smog originated by the interactions of primary pollutants.

What Causes Air Pollution?

There can be many things causing the contamination of the air we breathe. Pollution can be a consequence of natural phenomena like seasonal change, temperature change, natural disasters, etc., and we cannot do anything about them. But the fact the quality of our air is changing and degrading is mostly our fault. It happens because we are retackles and unaware of how much damage our actions, or the absence of them, can cause. 

You should know that our atmosphere is created by 21 percent of oxygen gas, 78 percent of nitrogen gas, and some other trace gases like carbon dioxide and argon. It’s necessary that this balance remains the same in order to keep the life of all species here on Earth. The entrance of different air pollutants can have extensive and quite damaging effects on all of us, and they can have many different forms – carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide radioactive decay, methane…

Anthropogenic Causes

There is no doubt that the most harmful contribution to air pollution is the one made by a human. We are mostly talking about our everyday choices, like relying on fossil fuel and a lifestyle that demands the presence of heavy industry. But also, we can add modern agriculture, accumulation of waste, and some other man-made processes on the list.

Agricultural activities

According to the world’s experts, agriculture is responsible for 24 percent of annual emissions. But there is approximately another 20 percent of air pollutants that come from agricultural activities, like CO2, that are being removed from the atmosphere by sequestering carbon in biomass. Ammonia, for example, is one of the most common byproducts of agriculture, and it represents extremely hazardous gas that’s being released in our atmosphere. Also, the usage of pesticides, fertilizers, and insecticides can be quite dangerous since they emit harmful chemicals into the air and water. And there is a massive problem of deforestation, that’s based on the removal of trees, which have the ability to sequester carbon and clean the air.

Fossil Fuels

One of the main air pollutants is sulfur dioxide that is emitted during the process of fossil fuel usage, mostly petroleum and coal, but also other factory combustibles. Besides that, there is pollution created by vehicles like cars, trucks, trains, airplanes, etc. That’s why the world’s experts are appealing to replace them with some other, more environment-friendly options. The overuse of them is what is dangerous, because of the harmful gases like carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxides they are constantly emitting. The statistics show that industry accounts for 21 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions, transportation is responsible for 14 percent, and electricity and heat give us another 25 percent.

Waste

Our garbage is being deposited in landfills, and it is a well-known fact that they generate methane, which is potentially very dangerous. The fact that the number of people in urban areas is constantly growing means that we have more and more locations turned into landfills, so methane is practically all around us. Because of that, and all other pollution we release into the air, we have consequences in the form of smog, acid rain, global warming, and serious health problems we are exposed to. Scientists believe the Earth has several self-regulating mechanisms that are trying to maintain the balance of its ecosystem, but they are clearly not enough to fight with this amount of pollution.

Exhaust from Industrial Plants and Factories

Another fact that’s not surprising is that industrial facilities are constantly releasing large amounts of carbon monoxide into the atmosphere, which is harmful enough per se, but there are also hydrocarbons, other chemicals, and organic compounds that are destroying the quality of the air we breathe. The thing that is the most concerning is the fact that we have manufacturing industries almost on every corner, all around the world. So there is no way of avoiding this problem, no matter where you live on this planet.

Indoor Air Pollution (Household Activities)

This is probably something we never think about, but we are certainly very much responsible for air pollution as individuals because we use many chemicals that are causing toxin release into the atmosphere. We are talking about household cleaning products in the first place, which we all tend to overuse and painting supplies. If you ever wondered what that unbearable smell your walls are emitting after the painting process is, that’s toxic evaporation that’s been released into the air. And there is one more thing, regarding indoor pollution – SPM (Suspended particulate matter). Those are little particles in the air like dust and combustion that are affecting the quality of air.

Natural Causes

When it comes to these natural causes of air pollution, you need to know it is not much you can do about it. The contamination of the atmosphere is a result of naturally-occurring phenomena, and since nature has different cycles, these things will, at some point, be more common than in others.

Volcanic Activity

There are a lot of volcanoes all around the world that are, thankfully, in the sleeping phase. But if one of them erupts, and that is a legitimate thing that can happen, there will be a significant amount of pollutants catapulted in our atmosphere. The volcanic explosion is one of the major natural pollutants. It produces huge amounts of chlorine, sulfuric, and ash, which are then spread with the wind in very distant areas. And another terrifying fact is that compounds like ash from volcanoes and sulfur dioxide have the ability to reflect solar radiation.

Wildfires and Dust

It sounds quite unbelievable, but wind and dust can create quite a dangerous situation that can affect people’s health. If it happens that in a large open area with very little vegetation, the strong wind starts blowing, it will pick up all those small particles and create a dust storm. Dust particles, in that case, will have a natural warming effect, which is very dangerous for all living creatures. And when we talk about wildfires, they usually happen during dry periods in wooded areas. The result of that, besides the destruction of forests and death of live creatures, is the smoke and carbon monoxide that will be released into the air and increase carbon levels in the atmosphere. That will allow for greater warming by causing a greenhouse effect.

Animal and Vegetation

As a result of animals eating and digesting that food, we have a situation where our air is being naturally polluted by methane. The most responsible for that is cattle. On the other hand, we have to be aware that certain vegetation, like oak, poplar, black gum, and willow trees, emits tremendous amounts of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) during warm days. VOCs will then react with primary anthropogenic pollutants, such as sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and other carbon compounds. As a result, we will have low-lying hazes that are full of ozone.

Dangerous Effects of Air pollution

The first image, when someone mentions air pollution, is a picture of smoke pouring out of the factory chimneys. Yes, they do pollute the air we breathe, but it’s not just them, and it’s not only that smoke we notice with our eyes or our noses that can pollute our environment. It’s quite terrifying knowing something you cannot see can be extremely dangerous and harmful for us. But the fact is, we are exposed to that almost every single day. After we established what the things that cause air pollution are, let’s talk about all those harmful effects this phenomenon can and will cause. We can divide them on effects that have consequences on our planet and atmosphere, and those that affect human beings, animals, and other forms of wild lives.

Global Warming

Global warming is gradual and long-term incensement of the temperature of the atmosphere here on Earth. It is caused by the greenhouse effect and based on the impact of numerous harmful and dangerous pollutants. Global warming is the result of climate change. Since the temperature is rising, the icebergs and ice caps are continuously melting, which significantly increases the sea level, causes extreme weather, and regional changes in precipitation. It is proved that from the mid-20s, we, humans, are the greatest factor that contributed to global warming.

Wildlife Endangerment

There is no difference between animals and us in this matter. Just like the pollution of air affects us, it affects all those different species that were forced to change their habits and place they live in, in order to survive. These shifts can negatively affect the ecosystem and lead to a situation where certain species can become endangered. Another problem is the fact that those toxic chemicals and pollutants are being deposited over the surface of the water, which means marine life animals can be in the problem too.

Acid Rain

When fossil fuels are burning, nitrogen oxides and sulfur oxides are being released into the sky. That causes air pollution and leads to what we tend to call acid rain because water that is high in the atmosphere meets with these chemicals and turns into an acid compound in nature. So acid rain is a form of precipitation with elevated levels of acids. It can be very dangerous to people, animals, and even crops. From the 1970s, some governments are making efforts to reduce releases of those harmful compounds in order to prevent acid rain from falling.

Respiratory and Heart Issues

We may not be aware of that, but 65 percent of deaths in Asia is caused by air pollution, and more than 50 000 people in America die each year because of the same problem. The changes harmful chemicals make in our atmosphere can lead to serious heart and respiratory problems. There is also a higher risk of getting some kind of cancer. In those areas that are truly troubled by this huge number of children have asthma and pneumonia. Polluted air can irritate your eyes, throat, lungs, and nose, it can affect your arteries and lead to a heart attack.

Eutrophication

If the high amount of nitrogen that is present in some type of pollutants gets to the sea’s surface, it can develop and transform into algae. This is called eutrophication, and it is a condition that can potentially be very dangerous to the plants, fish, and other animal species that live above the water surface. If you see green algae “carpet” on top of the lake or a pond, know that it is because of this chemical. Eutrophication usually happens if there is an oversupply of nutrients like phosphorus or nitrogen.

Depletion of the ozone layer

The ozone layer is protecting us from harmful ultraviolet rays, but it is constantly depleting because of the presence of hydrochlorofluorocarbons and chlorofluorocarbons in the air. The fact that it is becoming thinner and thinner is very troublesome since UV rays can harm our skin, our eyes, and our health overall. Also, they are devastating for the crops. Because of all that, scientists are continually looking for ways of preventing this from happening.

Solutions For Air Pollution

After getting to know all this, you must have immediately started thinking about all the things you personally, and we as a society can do to prevent air pollution from happening, and the ways we can repair the damages of our own actions. In order to do that, it is crucial to truly understand what led to where we are, what did we do wrong, and what are the reactions that were caused with all that. Regarding these solutions for air pollution, there are things that will sound familiar, but also those that are not so obvious but are equally important.

Conserve Energy

This is one of the things that’s all up to you. It’s a matter of lifestyle, so you need to change the way you think to change your habits. If we are talking about non-renewable energy most people still find as the only acceptable source, a tremendous amount of fossil fuels are being burnt in order to produce electricity. We cannot function properly without it, that’s for sure, but we can reduce its consumption significantly if we turn off the lights when we are not in the room, or if we switch off the fan when we get out of the house.

Minimal Use of Fossil Fuel Powered Cars

There are so many options that are more acceptable and kind toward our environment and, at the same time, more healthy for you. It is necessary to minimize the usage of traditional cars powered by fuel and to turn to some alternatives. You can practice carpooling with your friends and colleagues, make public transportation your main ride, turn to bicycle or hybrid car, etc. It is a well-known fact that vehicles are the biggest contributors to air pollution, and since it’s all up to us, it is time we change that.

Reduce, Reuse and Recycle

In order to lower the level of air pollution, we have to reduce the amount of garbage we dispose of. We already explained how methane from landfills badly affects our environment and the air we breathe, so we need to find a way to put a stop to that. One of the ways is to reuse things we already have, instead of throwing them away. For example, you can use your jam jars as a pencil holder on your desk, or plastic boxes for storing some items. Or, you can recycle and reduce waste, which will help in making your carbon footprint smaller. All that together is called waste management, and it’s very effective.

Use Energy Efficient Devices

If you use energy-efficient devices, you will minimize the level of exploitation of natural resources, which is crucial to reducing air pollution. All devices we are using in our household are based on electricity usage, and in the text above, we said how important it is for us to conserve energy. So you have to make some changes again. You can use CFL light instead of traditional bulbs and appliances that can operate under a lower energy setting. This is exactly that thing that looks small for you, but it is actually huge for all mankind.

Emphasis on Clean Energy Resources

The best way to lower the usage of fossil fuel-based electricity is to make your own with the help of renewable clean energy such as solar, wind, or geothermal. Governments all around the world are making efforts to support its population to transit to one of these power sources in order to protect our environment from harmful effects. So think about placing a few solar panels on top of your roof. They will be able to provide enough power to light up your backyard, your house, to heat your water, your entire house, etc.

Conclusion

We know that this seems a lot to take in, but there is no time left for us to ignore the problem that affects us all, and that will, for sure, affect our children. It is not hopeless, there are things we can do, ways we can contribute in order to make sure we are breathing fresh and healthy air. There are no words to describe how important this subject is. It’s simple – we need air to live. So let’s be united, smart, and responsible, let’s just make some changes today and see where they lead us tomorrow.

10 Widespread Used Sources of Energy

source of energy

There are many different sources of energy nature gave us unconditionally, so we can use them to generate power. It sounds unbelievable, but those forces are so strong and constant, that with the help of them, we can provide everything we need in this modern-day life. Thanks to the sun, wind, earth, and water, we can generate electricity that will run our cars, lighten up our lights, provide heat for our homes, etc. Here are the top ten energy sources all of us can use.

1. Solar energy

Solar energy is the energy of the sun that’s collected by solar panels and then generated into electricity. We know that the number of house owners who decided to use solar systems in order to power up their homes is getting bigger and bigger every day, but there is also a possibility of using power from small substations that are supplied by solar energy through huge panel fields placed in deserts, for example. There is, however, one problem with solar energy. It is not available to everyone with the same capacity. How much solar light you will get depends on where you live, the precise location.

2. Wind energy

Even though solar power is definitely number one when it comes to natural energy sources, the wind is slowly becoming its fare rival. The whole idea around this phenomenon is to use the power of the wind to launch and turn large wind turbines that will power up the generator and create electricity. The wind farms are very popular and widespread, but there are some questions regarding the environment that created some concerns and needed to be asked. For example, how do they affect our environment? It is proven that wind farms could be dangerous to wildlife, especially birds, and there is also a matter of noise produced by turbines.

3. Geothermal energy

Geothermal energy is sustainable power created inside the ground we are walking on. Radioactive partials beneath the earth’s crust are raising the temperature in the ground. Because of that, hot rocks are turning water inside the core into the steam, and steam is making the ground turbines work and generate electricity. This natural source is usually used for residential or industrial needs for space and water heating, but the greatest problem with it is the fact that it is not available all around the world. Geothermal energy can be produced only at specific spots.

4. Hydrogen energy

When we talk about hydrogen energy, we actually talk about water power, because two-thirds of water’s chemical construction is this element. It can be used as a fuel that will generate electricity if it gets separated from other elements. Hydrogen is another source that can be used to provide our homes with lights and heat, but it can also power rockets, ships, cars, and other vehicles. The best thing is that it is a renewable source that can be created on-demand, and it will not leave any harmful traces in the atmosphere.

5. Tidal energy

The energy created by the tide is quite unbelievable. It is based on kinetic energy that follows incoming and outgoing tides that are converted into electrical energy. Coastal areas are known as the best ones to use this sort of natural source. That’s one of the greatest advantages of tidal energy if you look at it from a perspective of coastal people, but it is also its huge disadvantage, given that it’s therefore limited to certain areas. Another thing that’s a downside is that it seeks for great investments in order to be used. Tidal energy is a renewable source of power, and it has the ability to produce a significant amount of energy, even in situations where tides are at the lowest speeds.

6. Wave energy

The ocean turns out to be tremendous and multiple sources of energy. Besides tidal, there is also wave energy that is based on the movement under the water surface. It is one of the greatest sources of energy since it is environmental-friendly, renewable, and safe for the atmosphere. Same as tidal, it can be used in coastal places, so those countries don’t have to be trapped by the dependence of fuel that is purchased from foreign countries. However, there are some downsides of wave energy – it can be harmful to the marine ecosystem, it can disturb water vehicles, and it is very much dependent on wavelength.

7. Hydroelectric energy

A huge number of people, the whole cities, actually can be dependent on hydroelectric energy. This source has excellent power. Every damn work on the strength of water because it is used to turn the generators, which then produce electricity. That way hydroelectric energy supplies electrical stations with electricity everyone can use to power up their homes, machines, vehicles, etc. The biggest problem this type of energy faces is the fact that most dams are old and technologically outdated, and it takes a lot of work and money to make them more safe, productive, and current.

8. Biomass energy

Organic materials can be transformed into biomass energy that can be used in many ways. We are talking about crops, trees, plants, wood chips, yard clippings, and animal waste. All those things can generate power adequate for home heating, cooking, or they can be used for fuel in industrial production. The whole process is based on burning biomass materials in a combustor or furnace, which will produce hot gas. Then, that gas goes into a boiler that will generate steam, which will be expanded by the steam engine in order to produce usable energy. The disadvantage of this source is that it can create a big amount of carbon dioxide, which is released into the atmosphere.

9. Nuclear power

There is a huge dilemma about how efficient and safe it is to use nuclear energy as a source of power because of the dangerous waste in leaves behind, but the fact is that at this moment, it is one of the biggest renewable sources of energy in the world. This energy is created thanks to the unique nuclear reaction, which is then collected and directed into the power generators. This energy is usually used for generating heat through steam turbines that create electricity in nuclear power plants. Nuclear power can be generated by nuclear fusion, nuclear fission, and nuclear decay.

10. Fossil fuels

If we are talking about fossil fuels, we are referring to the coil, natural gas, and oil. These are the main sources of power in most parts of the world. Oil can be transformed into several products, but the most popular is gasoline, while the natural gas, which is not so popular as coil and oil, is presented in the form of heating source and power that launches vehicles. The reason there is a huge controversy when it comes to using these natural sources is the fact the process of getting them out of the soil and converting them into the usable power is causing heavy destruction and pollution of the environment. Besides that, people forget that these sources are limited, experts predict that we will be able to use them only for another 100 years.

Conclusion

There is no way we can say with absolute certainty which one of these energy sources is best for us. They all come with some advantages and disadvantages, it’s up to us to assess what are our priorities, and what will create less or non-damage to our planet. Experts are underlining that the most important thing is to change the way we consume energy that comes from nature and to create a balance between that will make these sources sustainable.

Global Energy Crisis Causes, Effects & Solutions

energy crisis

Statistics showed that in the last 200 years, global energy needs had increased quite significantly, to the point where it is unsustainable. While we can now delve into studying why is that, and what have we done wrong in that matter, only one thing is truly important at this moment for us to acknowledge and accept – energy sources we were, and still are using, will come to their end. 

Our future will bring many uncertainties, but among the first ones will definitely be this question – what are we going to do without fossil fuels that we have relied on mostly in the past, and that now have almost dried out completely. The experts in this field know for sure they are close to exhaustion, that it’s just a matter of time they will be depleted, and that we are not really prepared for this scenario. They are calling this global energy crisis. 

What is the Energy Crisis?

There is a reasonable concern that there won’t be enough natural resources in the future, we as a global society need for everyday life. The fact is, these resources are very much limited, and they are diminishing as our demands rise. In three words, this is what we call global energy crises.

These sources, fossil fuels mostly, will not disappear from the Earth’s surface entirely, but it will take thousands of years for them to restore, and we do not have that much time to wait, that’s for sure. Because of that, there is a global tendency to promote renewable resources that can do the job just as good and won’t cause as much environmental pollution like these current ones undoubtedly do.

sign on the road written pumps are closed

Why Should You Care About it?

Not that we know the energy crisis definition, you must wonder why you should care about it. You don’t have to, but the consequences will come knocking on your door. We are talking about a serious and complex problem that will affect us, but most importantly, our children’s future. Maybe this generation won’t experience the true burden of this global shift, but those that will come after us will most certainly do. Not only that we will end up without oil, gas, and coil we mercilessly spend, but we will destroy our planet if we don’t switch to other, more environmentally-friendly energy sources. It’s no secret, on the contrary, how relying on fossil fuels causes climate change, global warming, and many other global problems. So here is what the energy crisis causes, and why it is so important to see that renewable energy solutions are what we should be focusing on.

Energy Crisis Causes

It would not be fair to say only one industry is responsible for everything that’s happening regarding this problem, there are many manufacturing fields that contributed to this crisis in the first place. And it’s not something that occurred overnight. We will now present the list of all energy crisis causes and effects, the list of all those who have their part in this global crisis and responsibility to take for it.

Overpopulation

The fact that experts are claiming there are too many people on our planet is terrifying, but jet troublesome, because we do not have enough food and fuels for all our needs. And no matter what type of products we are talking about, they are all made with raw materials that drained our energy resources. But let’s not forget that we are basing this conclusion on current consumption and that there are reliable predictions that show all these numbers will increase considerably. They are showing global energy demand is going to grow by more than 50 percent in the next ten years if we don’t do anything about it.

Overconsumption

It is proven that the energy crisis is a result of general overconsumption. First of all, overconsumption of fossil fuels like coal, oil, and gas, but also other non-renewable sources like uranium. Based on some research, the oil will be the first power source without whom we are going to remain. We have only 40 to 60 years left to base our lifestyle on this fossil fuel, while gas will be present in our lives for 70 years until it becomes totally exploited. The coil is most reliable for now, there are reserves for two more centuries.

Aging Infrastructure

One of the reasons we are where we are regarding the general energy shortage is poor and old energy infrastructure. The equipment most companies around the world are using is outdated, and it significantly limits energy production. Most people believe that it is the responsibility of utilities to upgrade that infrastructure in order to provide a high standard of performance.

Energy Waste

People are simply refusing to believe how important energy consumption is. They take it lightly, thinking their contribution is not something that matters. But they are wrong. If only everyone would turn off the light when they leave the room, use the daylight at maximum, turn off fans when they don’t need them anymore, use CFL instead of traditional light bulbs, walk instead of driving short distances, etc., the situation will be so much more different than it is today.

Delay in Commissioning of New Power Plants

There are some countries in the world that have very strange practices. They are showing notable delays in the commissioning of new power plants that have the capacity to fully meet the needs of energy demand and supply. Because of that, older plants are working non-stop until they reach the point of bursting, so they could provide the amount of power people request. And if the supply doesn’t meet the demand, then load shedding and breakdown happens.

Wars Between Countries

Even though this isn’t the first thing that would cross your mind when somebody mentions the energy crisis, but the war between countries actually can lead to this problem greatly. These types of skirmishes could stop the energy supply from some places, especially if we are talking about Middle East countries like Qatar, Iran, Iraq, UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait. If you remember the Gulf War, you probably know how the price of oil reached its peak. At that time, there were global shortages of this source, and people were paying a lot of money to get it.

Natural Calamities and Major Accidents

Energy crisis today is also caused by natural disasters we cannot control or stop from happening, as well by some major accidents that are totally our fault. When we are talking about the first-mentioned problem, we are actually thinking about earthquakes, volcano eruptions, tornados, floods, tsunamis, and similar catastrophic disasters, while in other categories are things like pipeline burst, for example. Those events have the power to create a big gap between demand and supply of power, which can raise the price of energy and lead to inflation.

Miscellaneous Factors

Throughout history, a lot of things happened that greatly affected this subject. Things like strikes, military coup, tax hikes, political events, etc., which were definitely able to make some changes inside the supply and demand process. Also, extremely hot summers or really cold winters can change the people’s need for power. All that can cause serious energy crises.

Energy Crisis Effects

It should be clear by now that these crises are real and that they affect all segments of our lives. The fact that our planet is overpopulated, that we are relying on non-renewable energy sources, that we are not thinking about energy consumption and that nature has its saying in all of this too brought us to the point where our economy, social politics, and our environment suffer.

Economic and Socio-Political

On average, we spend around 40.000 gallons of oil per second, and because of that, most countries reached the maximum when it comes to relying on this source. We need it for transportation, for manufacturing goods, and for generating electricity. Given that we are on the verge of remaining without it, many jobs and industries find themselves in a huge problem. So the situation is alarming, and it brought us to the point where the energy crisis could have a huge impact on the global economy as well as social politics. Every person that works in an industry that makes cosmetics, food, clothes, medication, plastic and other life essentials based on this and every other fossil fuel is in danger of losing a job. The same applies to the automobile industry for people who work as car mechanics or in gas stations. And another problem lies in the fact that all those products will become more expensive if nothing changes.

Environmental

The second issue is our environment and how relying on non-renewable power sources affects our soil, water, the air we breathe, and all living creatures on our planet, including us, humans. The overconsumption of traditional energy sources is causing many negative effects, including incensement of greenhouse gas emissions, because of which we are living in a time of constant global warming. The warmer climate leads to the ice caps melting and therefore rising of global sea level, extreme weather, and many other changes that affect all living creatures. Many of the spices extinguished or were made to change their habitat. Besides that, as a result of relying mostly on fossil fuels, we now have an environment that is greatly polluted, which affects our health in every matter.

Energy Crisis Solutions & Prevention

There are a lot of ways we can help our planet to recover from this energy crisis it is currently experiencing. Many of these measures are applying all over the world, but it’s necessary for all of us to adopt them and start acting by them. It is crucial for us to change the way we think first because only that can lead to shifts in our behavior. So if you wonder how to solve energy crisis, or at least how to contribute to this cause, we brought you some real suggestions.

Energy transition to renewable energy sources

One of the best ways to lower the world’s reliance on non-renewable power sources, and one of the best sustainable energy solutions (oil, coil, and gas) is to turn to renewable sources like sun (solar panels), wind, water, and steam. Experts are claiming that the major concern about using traditional sources should not be the fact that they are going to run out, but that they are continuously polluting the atmosphere and destroying other natural resources in the process. The renewable energy solution is the best one because there is no emission of greenhouse gasses, pollution is minimal, and it is significantly cheaper to use hydropower, biomass energy, wind energy and the power of the sun.

renewable energy wind power mountains

Energy efficiency and conservation

If you are eager to make this energy crisis slow down or completely stop, you should definitely learn how to use less of it and how to preserve it. The first thing is to modernize the energy infrastructure in order to lower the amount of energy waste. Then, switch to energy-efficient appliances and devices, for example, use LED or CFL instead of traditional light bulbs. Once again, don’t forget to conserve energy to – turn off the lights, turn off the fans or air conditioning, recycle, reduce and reuse the products and their packages.

Lighting Controls

Just as we previously mentioned, light control is out of enormous importance when it comes to this matter. The first thing is to remember to switch lights off when you are not in the room, and the second thing is to install new technology that will help you control the intensity and brightness of the lights. That way, you will save a great amount of energy. You can use touch dimmers, slide lighting, or integrated lighting controls in order to conserve energy on a daily basis. Besides that, you will also reduce the overall lighting costs for sure.

Perform Energy Audit

Now, this is something truly great, given that it can show you the real state of affairs. An energy audit can help you establish what the specific areas where you are losing the most energy in your home are. Also, this process can suggest some steps that can help you improve your energy efficiency. However, it is important that an energy audit is done by professionals because only then you will have a clear image and certainty that you have saved some energy, reduced your carbon footprint, and avoided an energy crisis.

Common Stand on Climate Change

It is crucial that all countries in the world create a common stand on climate change matter. We are talking about both developed and those countries that are in a developing process, because only that way, through united actions we have a chance to reduce greenhouse gas emission enough to slow down global warming. Forming this united front is extremely important for more than one reason. First, we want to leave our children a world full of potential, and second, we need to put a stop to this energy crisis for the sake of our environment, but also our economy.

Conclusion

It can be a bit overwhelming knowing that we are the ones who are destroying the world we are living in, and that situation is quite alarming. But on the other hand, it is also empowering knowing that our actions matter, that the way we live our lives, the decisions we make every day can greatly affect the global energy, economy, or social situation. So it is finally time to take your own stand. Decide today to make some changes your kids can be grateful for, and you will be proud of for sure.

Top 10 Surprising Facts About Solar Energy

We use solar technology to harness the energy of the sun and make it usable in everyday applications. The Sun’s power is so abundant that being able to utilize even a tiny percentage could potentially solve all of our energy-related problems.

If you’re reading this post, chances are you’ve heard of photovoltaic (PV) cells, otherwise known as solar cells, which we most commonly see as parts of a larger structure that is the solar panel. Solar panels are seen in a variety of applications, ranging from handheld calculators, through rooftops to spacecraft and satellites.

Photovoltaic cells are made of the same materials we use to create computer chips – semiconductors. When sunlight reaches the cell at the end of its 100-million-mile-long journey, it uses its energy to knock electrons loose from their atoms. These electrons generate electricity as they flow through the cell.

Making the switch to solar energy promises many advantages, such as allowing you to help the environment and save money in the process. It may have a few limitations as well since it depends not only on how long the day is but weather conditions and even the position of your house. 

You might think you already know a lot about solar energy, but in this article, we’re going to deal with some of the lesser-known facts about solar power that you might find interesting.

1. China is the Global Leader in Renewable Energy

Even though we often think of China as the country with the highest amount of carbon emissions, it is also the largest producer of renewable energy in the world. For the last several years, this country has been leading the charge in terms of renewable energy use according to UN reports. 

In terms of investments in renewable energy, China contributes to nearly a third of it worldwide. This has led to an increase in electric vehicle sales in this country as well. 

2. Utilities Offer Solar Options

If you want to go solar, your best bet is probably a rooftop system. However, in a growing number of places, you can opt to get all of your electricity from solar panels even if your home is not suitable for installing them. 

States like Minnesota and Massachusetts are coming up with community solar projects allowing consumers to purchase energy from this source. Aside from this, there are many utility companies nationwide offering customers the option of sourcing their electricity from solar or wind for an extra fee. 

3. More of Your Neighbors Are Using Solar Power Than You Probably Think

When we think of solar power, the image of large solar installation in the middle of the desert comes to mind for many of us. However, the thing that is really changing the way we look at energy is distributed solar.

From panels deployed on your local big-box retailer to home rooftops, these projects are spread all over. According to the latest reports, Apple, Walmart, and Target are the most significant corporate energy buyers, but more and more residential applications are popping up all over the place.

4. Chernobyl Is a Renewable Energy Haven

The catastrophe at Chernobyl might be the greatest hazard the world has faced in the last 50 years. However, the entire area is now open for tourists and visitors, and the Ukrainian government has decided to make the best of a dire situation.

Not much can be built in the area due to radioactive waste, and that’s where wind turbines and solar panels come in. The Ukrainians plan to install over 1,000 miles of solar panels, and if all goes according to plan, they will expand the project to produce over 100 megawatts.

5. There Are Many Financing Options

You can rent your roof and have solar panels installed for free. The biggest problem with renewable energy is that most households can’t afford the cut on electricity and gas because solar panels come with a hefty initial investment. 

The good news is that if you can’t afford them, there’s an option to rent your rooftop and have them installed for free. All this means is that you split the energy they produce and benefit from them as well. Switching to 50% solar energy use can save you a few hundred dollars on your bills in the long run.

6. Facebook Runs on Renewable Energy

Social media doesn’t only require the internet to operate. They are massive corporations with headquarter buildings and servers to keep them running. With over 2 billion users worldwide, Facebook needs a lot of energy, which means they have large electricity bills to pay.

In 2018, Facebook announced that all of its offices and data centers would run on 100% renewable energy by 2020. It has been an ambitious plan, but it showed that not only big plants and polluting industries need to change the way they source their energy.

7. Solar Panels surround the Pyramids of Giza

Tourism may not be the first thing on your mind when you think about solar energy. Still, as wind turbines and solar panels are becoming more popular, they might ruin some of your Instagram pictures when you visit famous landmarks such as the Pyramids of Giza.

Yes, Egypt is also investing heavily in solar panels, and they’ve put them around the pyramids. They have the potential to produce over half of their electricity needs from renewable sources by 2030 and could reduce energy bills up to 900 million dollars annually.

8. Solar Cells can be Organic

With the solar industry booming, scientists are looking for new options to replace the traditional silicon cells. Ideally, the replacement would be more efficient, less costly, and more environmentally friendly. Some scientists seem to believe that semiconducting organic materials may be the solution to this problem.

Organic solar cells could become a readily available and environmentally safe option for large scale projects. They can be manufactured quickly and easily, but the efficiency and long term reliability of these cells are still debatable.

9. Solar Power Can Be Used to Desalinate Water

Solar energy can make drinking water from seawater. As many areas around the world face an increasing shortage of fresh water, this could be the solution to one of the world’s most immediate problems.

While conventional desalination is an energy-demanding and expensive process, solar-powered desalination could be an excellent chance to build our water supply. It could do so while maintaining low emissions, and perhaps more importantly, a low cost.

10. It is Cheaper Than You Think

The cost of solar panels has plummeted by over 80% in the last ten years, and it is expected to continue this trend in the years to come. The price of commercially-available solar technology is expected to decrease by around 5% annually, meaning that more and more people will be able to afford it in the future.

The falling costs will most likely boost the development of technology, and studies predict that by 2050, photovoltaic systems could supply up to 70% of the world’s electricity. We could rely entirely on renewable energy in the future, as it is likely to become more cost-effective than nuclear power and fossil fuels combined.

10 Ways to Conserve Energy

So, you have decided that it is time to reduce the amount of energy you use for running your household, but you just don’t know where to start. You were probably motivated by the desire to save up some money on utility bills, but there might also be an idea of environmental protection in the back of your mind, which is great and commendable by any means.

If you want to learn how to save energy at home, first of all, it’s necessary to make some simple and small changes in your behavior, but also, you have to start thinking differently, which is a much bigger issue and a much harder task.

We present you now with the top ten ways you can conserve energy. We suggest you first start practicing the advice we put on top of the list because they will be easier to implement, and then continue with those more challenging assignments. Don’t forget that these types of transitions take time, as well as some investment if you truly want the more permanent and significant shift.

1. Replace light bulbs

Up until recently, we didn’t know this, but the traditional light bulbs are huge electricity consumers. They are spending a great amount of power, and if you want to start saving up, consider replacing them with energy-efficient alternatives. It would be best to use LED lights, halogen bulbs, indoor solar lights, or CFL lights because they spent from 25 to 80 percent less electricity. For outdoor you can use outdoor solar lights for your garden, deck, or path.

Also, you will be happy to hear that they last from three to 20 times longer than those previously mentioned ones most of us are still holding on to. Yes, the alternative, more efficient bulbs are quite expensive, but only if you look at this as a short term purchase. But, if you behold it as an investment, and compare their price to their quality, you will see that you will spend less money on these products.

2. Change your behavior

The habits we have, when it comes to the way we act around our house are extremely important. If you want to make some changes in your bank account, you need to start by making those in the way you behave and live. For example, you can practice energy conservation by simply turning off the lights when you leave the room, by washing your dishes manually instead of putting them in a dishwasher every day, or by renouncing the dryer, which is known to be a huge electricity spender and hang-dry your clothes.

Of course, the greatest reduction implies you need to turn down the heat at your apartment during the winter, at least by a few degrees. Another thing that will save you the money is a decision not to use the air conditioner when the summer comes, but instead to turn on the fan. These two things, cooling, and heating are usually responsible for half of your bills, so these measures will make some changes money wise for sure. Also, you can use an energy monitor to establish which home appliances spend the most electricity on an everyday basis.

3. Use smart power strips

We are all using a lot of electronic devices in our homes, and all of them have “phantom loads” – electricity that’s turning into waste when they are in a standby mode or turned off. We are actually not aware of how massive this vain expense is. It is estimated that around 75 percent of the energy used for home electronics is consumed in those moments when they are not in active duty. And that’s something that can cost us up to $200 each year.

So in order to avoid this, you should buy smart power strips, which can make the phantom load disappear. They will eliminate this problem by completely turning off the power of each electronic device when they are not being used. There are several ways to do that. You can set up the stripes to turn off the electricity usage at the moments when the appliances are inactive, at the assigned time, with the help of remote switches, or based on the status of a “master” device. Most people agree that this is probably one of the smartest things you can do for our budget.

4. Buy energy-efficient appliances

The thorough research showed that all home appliances together consume around 13 percent of total energy use. Given that we need a lot of these electronic devices to maintain a certain level of comfort we are used to, we tend to purchase more affordable items. The experts in this matter claim that that is a mistake and that we need to pay attention to two numbers. The first one is the one on a product’s price tag, and the second one is the annual operating cost of it.

The truth is that energy-efficient appliances cost a bit more, but if you want to save up long term, you should know that their operating cost is from nine to 25 percent lower than the one conventional models dispose of. So if you think this is something you might be interested in, when purchasing new household devices, pick the ones that have the “Energy Star “label. That will provide you a federal guarantee that the item utilizes less energy when it is on standby, as well as during the use, than any standard non-energy efficient product.

5. Install smart thermostat

We already said that heating and cooling are wearing up to half of our average electricity bill. That’s why we have to think of a way not to use it when it’s not really necessary. The smart thermostat or programmable one can help us with that. We can set them up and arrange to automatically reduce or turn off completely the heating or cooling, during those moments where we are not there, or we are sleeping. That way, we will avoid wasting the electricity on these actions, while not making compromises with our comfort.

If you do all the calculations, you will see that by using these devices, you can save up to $200 every year, which is not insignificant. There are different models of programmable thermostats, and some of them have additional features like indicators that will show us when to replace air filters. That will save us some extra money since it will improve the efficiency of our cooling and heating home technology.

6. Set up energy-efficient windows

This is another well-known fact. Low quality and inadequate windows can be a source of enormous energy waste. You might find yourself in a situation where 25 percent of your energy bill goes unused because of this. The trick that will prevent heat loss is to replace a single-pane window with a double-pane one.

If you live in cold regions, it would be best to install gas-filled windows that have “low-e” coatings since they can reduce the heating waste quite significantly. There are also so-called storm windows (interior and exterior) that are suitable for locations where the weather can be a bit extreme. They can reduce unnecessary heat loss by up to 20 percent, which is truly something. And “low-e” coating windows are an excellent solution for a warm climate because they can lower the heat gain by restricting the amount of energy entering your home. This move will save you around $100 per year, and if you add some curtains, shutters, or screens, you will be in even better situation money-wise, since those things can provide an extra layer of insulation between the outside heat and your home.

7. Lower water heating expenses

We suspect you love showering for hours with extremely hot water, but you have to know that that pleasure costs you a lot. Water heating is creating a huge difference in your electricity bill/ But don’t worry, there are ways of reducing your expenses without buying an energy-efficient water heater. The first method implies adjusting your habits when you are under the shower – simply don’t use so much hot water. The second idea is to turn down the thermostat on your water heater or to insulate the entire water heater as well as six feet of cold and hot water pipes.

If, however, you already decided to purchase a new, energy-efficient heater, make sure to buy a model that will meet all your needs. For example, if you have a large family, don’t pick the tankless water heater because although it will use the energy more responsible and efficient, it won’t be able to handle simultaneous and multiple usages. And prepare yourself that they will cost more than regular water heaters, but they will last 10 to 15 years longer, and they will save you between 10 and 300 percent of electricity.

8. Upgrade HVAC system

The HVAC system is a system that unites heating equipment with air conditioning and ventilation. If you upgrade it to be more energy-efficient, you will save a significant amount of money each year. We already said that heating is responsible for half of our average home energy usage. That applies especially to those households that are placed in northern parts of the world. But you should know that when it comes to the “Energy Star “label, there are two different specifications – one is characteristic for southerners and another for northern parts of the United States. The research showed that you could lower the usage of electricity for this matter by 16 percent, which is equivalent to around $100 yearly saving.

Air conditioning won’t spend so much electricity, it usually takes around six percent of the total energy bill, but if you upgrade it to “Energy Star “, they will be eight percent more efficient. Given that the heating system and air conditioning can often be combined in one, you will be able to save up on both ends at the same time. And when it comes to ventilation, it is crucial to have a greatly isolated network that won’t have huge energy waste.

9. Insulate your home

If you have a desire to lower your expenses and to learn how to conserve energy, you have to think about proper insulation. It is a key to having an energy-efficient home because it will make sure the heat stays inside the walls during the cold days, and that heat from the outside doesn’t enter during the hot summertime. Depending on where you live, in what region temperature and climate-wise, there are different R-values that are recommended.

When building a house, it is necessary to insulate all walls, floors, attic, basement, and crawlspace. That way, you will create a barrier between the outsides and your house, which will be significant both during summer or wintertime. There are different methods and materials you can use to do that, but the most common are fiberglass, spray foam, and cellulose. It is especially important to make sure your attic is insulated, because the hot air inside the house is always rising up, and escaping through small openings.

10. Weatherize your home

Weatherizing, or as it’s also called sealing air leaks around the home area, is another way of reducing energy waste. The air will mostly leak through doors and windows, and it is not hard to get why, so you need to make sure to prevent that by ensuring there are no cracks between the doorframe or window and wall or vent.

In order to achieve that, you can use the caulk, especially if we are talking about stationary objects like the window frame, or whether stripes for moving objects, such as operable doors and windows. Those are not expensive solutions, and you can see them as a good investment since you will be able to return the money back in less than a year. To be sure you will lose as little energy as possible, you should think about weatherizing all the places you can in your household.

PACE Financing: Property Assessed Clean Energy Program

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So, you are definitely interested in transitioning to clean energy, but you are aware this project is quite expensive, at least if you are planning to go big and do everything right. The good thing is that the Government of the United States prepared some measures that can help you with that and make creating and maintaining clean energy more approachable.

Property Assessed Clean Energy program is one of the options you can go for. It is a program that was introduced in 2010 with an intention to help both commercial and residential buildings upgrade to the solar system or some other environment-friendly option.

What is the PACE program?

Property Assessed Clean Energy program, or in the short PACE program, is a financing package of measures funded by the government that’s available to individuals who would like to invest in clean energy alternatives for their homes or businesses. It is a loan created in a way that covers 100 percent of the project costs, in the form of a lien on the upgraded property.

It is very much alike to the traditional loan given that the applicant is getting money upfront, there is an interest rate, as well as a set repayment period that’s usually somewhere between five and twenty years. That way, business owners and homeowners are in a position to use their fundings to install a solar panel system or to upgrade to more efficient cooling, heating, or lighting options based on renewable energy.

What is a PACE Loan and How Does it Work?

First of all, you should know that you can use the PACE loan for numerous energy-efficient improvements. Installing or upgrading a solar system is just one of them. There is also the possibility of submitting the request for PACE in case you want to do seismic retrofitting for your home or commercial buildings if you are living in earthquake-prone areas, then in case you want to invest in energy-efficient roofing, LED lighting, in the HVAC system, etc.

The important thing is to remember that with PACE, the property you wish to invest in is collateral and that the debt isn’t tied to the owner of that property but to the property itself. Also, unlike traditional loans, PACE lending does not ask for regular monthly payments. You will pay this debt off through regular property taxes after your property was reassessed. In case you fail to pay this obligation, you will face the same penalties predicted for the non-payment of any other property tax bill. Here, the creditworthiness is of no importance regarding acquiring conditions for the loan.

In which states PACE is an option?

The PACE program is overseen by the U.S. Department of Energy, and it comes from a local government agency or a third-party financial entity. To date, there are 36 states, including the district of Columbia, that are offering their inhabitants some kind of PACE program. While most states are proposing only commercial PACE programs, Florida, California, and Missouri also have residential ones.

It is encouraging that the PACE loan market is one of the fastest-growing segments of the U.S. lending industry at this moment, so if you are living in Wyoming, for example, or North Dakota where PACE yet is not an option, there is a huge possibility that your situation is going to change pretty soon.

Advantages of PACE loans

People are very attracted by this loan for several reasons. Here are some of them:

  • Easy to qualify

You won’t have a problem getting this loan. If you compare the conditions and procedures typical for home equity loans that are also used for extensive home improvements, you will see that PACE is much more appealing. You just can’t have any recent issues in your credit reports.

  • Full coverage

You will get 100 percent financing for this project of yours, with no need for a down payment. Thanks to that you will be in a position to start the clean energy upgrade immediately, you won’t have to wait to save some money.

  • The depth goes with the property

Given that the PACE loan is bound to the property, the debt can move from one owner to another, if you decide on selling. So even though you have just finished with the house repairments, you can sell the property and transfer the debt to the buyer.

Disadvantages of PACE loans

There are also some shortcomings of this loan you should know about before applying.

  • Method of payment

We already explained that you would have to pay this debt through your regular taxes, but the truth is, this whole amount of what you own won’t be allocated to equal monthly amounts. The property assessments are something that needs to be paid once or twice per year. So that could be a great burden when the time for payment comes.

  • Interest costs

It is quite obvious that the loan you can get that quickly, and so easily, is followed with significant interest cost. You should bear in mind that these rates are often higher than the ones home equity loans have, so you need to calculate what is your best option given the circumstances and your needs.

Conclusion

Whenever there is money involved, you should double-check every information and second guess your own decisions. The PACE program is definitely something you should seriously consider if you want to invest in a clean energy upgrade, but make sure to know all the terms and details about how to get it and how to stay on course with it. You really don’t want any surprises there. But if you approach this subject vigilantly and with realistic expectations, PACE may be the best thing that ever happened to you.

Solar Roof Shingles Explained

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If you entered the solar energy world fully, you must have heard a thing or two about the solar shingles. Many solar installers haven’t yet included them in their official offers since we are talking about a relatively new thing on the market, but the truth is a good reputation is following these discreet solar plates, which are threatening to maybe replace solar panels totally in the future.

What are solar shingles?

Solar shingles are revolutionary solar tiles created to look just like regular asphalt shingles many people use to cover the roof area. One of the first viable projects with solar shingles was installed in Colorado in 2011, so they truly are a super fresh thing on the market. They have the ability to collect and generate the sun’s energy into electricity for your home, but also to protect the roof from the external influences like rain, hail, or wind. Although they look quite fragile, the solar shingles are very durable and flexible – there’s no doubt about that.

The unobtrusive and refined design of solar shingles is the reason solar enthusiasts are willing to give them a chance, especially since it’s well known they can produce between 13 and 63 watts of energy each, depending on the manufacturer. They are very lightweight, and therefore very easy to install.

Lifespan and the cost

If you are planning on installing solar shingles, you should know that the price per square foot is somewhere between $21 and $25 if we are talking about the standard, single-story house. That means you will have to set aside a total amount of $60.000 in average for installing this new generation solar machinery. Of course, the price varies and very much depends on the size and slope of the roof, the condition of the site, and the shingles brand you plan on using.

Just like the solar panel system, the average solar shingles installation will last around 20 to 30 years, regarding the maximum efficiency. They won’t stop working after that period of time, but the energy output will be smaller for sure. If you are on the grid, it’s most likely you won’t have to replace them for a couple of years more, but if you wish they generate more electricity, you need to consult with a solar contractor and see what should be your next step.

Installation

You must be wondering how many of these solar tiles you will need to install so they could provide you with electricity. The answer depends on how big your house is, for starters, and how much solar energy you are planning on using. The great thing is that you don’ t need to replace your entire roof with solar shingles, they can be integrated into the existing one. The installation process is very simple, it will take around 10 hours for the professional to do it properly, but it’s not recommended for you to take things into your own hands, pretending to be a handyman.

Solar panels vs. Solar shingles

So, now you must be wondering why should you choose to go with solar shingles instead with the traditional solar panels, which, as confirmed, would do an excellent job for sure. We won’t try to persuade you, it’s up to you to make this decision, but we are going to point out some advantages and disadvantages of this new solar entity.

Many people agree that solar shingles are more aesthetically pleasing since they can blend in smoothly with the existing roof construction, while the numbers show they are 10-15 percent more cost-effective too (per watt) if compared to solar panels.

On the other hand, they can be less energy-efficient, which can be a deal-breaker, and they need to be placed on a roof with high sunlight exposure and specific slope. Also, you may have a problem of finding the solar installer willing to work with shingles, because they are still very new products on the solar market.

Conclusion

It’s such a great thing that nowadays we all have a choice in this particular matter. The solar industry is evolving and growing, so the options are not so narrowed down as they used to be. If you think about it, solar shingles are the new and improved version of solar panels. But they are not here to replace them, since they both make a significant difference and do the work just fine, but to offer you a choice, an opportunity to arrange your home the way you wanted, visually, and still make it be great solar-based station.