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Green Technology

Renewable Energy Installations Costs by State

March 12, 2018
renewable energy installation costs by state

Renewable energy differs slightly for each state. This can lead to confusion for homeowners who are looking to improve their homes and reduce their energy costs because a simple google search for green technology on homes doesn’t give you a solid picture. There are some similarities across borders though. Most states agree on the major components of what renewable energy is and include at least solar, wind, hydroelectric, geothermal, biogas and biomass.

This is far from an exhaustive list of renewable energy sources, but it covers the main ones that most homeowners are familiar with and have a high probability of trying to incorporate. Each one has a different kind of market, depending on location and availability. Even when working with the best possible options for an area, there are still substantial costs and challenges to overcome.


Wind energy is, currently, difficult for individual households to install. That’s because our primary tool is still wind turbines. An industrial wind turbine is over 300 feet tall, so it’s not something most people are willing to install. However, there are smaller models available for homeowners that are much more reasonable. Many people aren’t familiar with them, and they stick out pretty significantly. If you have any trees or hills around your home, it would be hard to get enough airflow to make it worthwhile.

However, if you live in an open, windy area and you have enough land, then wind turbines might not be a bad idea. A residential wind turbine comes in at around $48,000. It’s still a hefty price tag, but if you live in Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado, California, North Dakota, or one of the other big states for wind power, it may be well worth the investment.


Solar power is probably the most versatile and well-known option for renewable energy. Almost anywhere you go, you can now find homes that have solar panels installed, and that’s a big deal! It allows people to have more control over their energy use without having to depend on the grid, which in turn, helps to cut down on the strain the network is already under.

Evaluating how much money it can save you is pretty tricky since renewable energy costs by state are so varied. However, the installation of one product can help reduce your reliance on the grid, which is mainly powered by fossil fuels. As we continue to use them, fossil fuels will continue to get more expensive, while solar power will continue to fall as demand rises.

The installation cost of solar power is usually what stops people from making the jump, and if you’re not planning to stay in your home, then you may not want to have them installed. However, if you’re going to be there for at least five to 10 years, then solar is a great option. Right now, the average is around $15,000-$20,000, but that price is expected to continue falling. Some companies, like Tesla, are looking to move their production more into the US to avoid penalties for importing solar panels.


Hydroelectric power is already well integrated into our power grid, but not on an individual scale. Dams are built all over the world, but it’s a lot harder to have one on your property. Hoover Dam is known throughout the world as one of the first, most advanced hydroelectric dams in the world. But hydropower like that isn’t considered renewable. The creation of a large lake often wipes out so much land that the resulting power, while sustainable, devastates the native area.

For an individual home to take advantage of hydroelectric power, most people would assume that you’d need to be close to a stream or flowing body of water, but micro-hydro power generators are available. It’s still recommended that you live near a naturally occurring body of water, but the cost comes down a lot with this method. One generator can be installed without a professional and costs less than $100. Of course, if you don’t live near a stream, then it’s probably not worth the trouble of moving!


Geothermal has a lot of potential in the West and Midwest of the United States. Areas out there have a vast supply of geothermal heat and seismic activity, and homes are often fairly rural. This makes for the perfect place to install geothermal.

Geothermal heat is based on heat from the ground, where it is both stored from the summer and provided by seismic activity. Places close to Yellowstone, for example, would have ample supplies of geothermal energy due to the natural resources in the area. Getting them installed requires a decent amount of land and geothermal has substantial installation costs, with estimates starting at $20,000 for the low end.

It’s nearly impossible to estimate what those costs would be since it’s so dependent on the exact location you live in, but you can figure out if it’s worth it! Hawaii, Alaska and western continental states can get the most bang for their buck when it comes to geothermal. If possible, joining together with multiple houses or an apartment complex can reduce the cost for everyone involved and create a massive opportunity for community funded renewable power sources.


Biogas is a greener option for most places than biomass. Biomass is burning organic matter, which many people do in their homes. Fireplaces are conventional, and they can certainly help cut down on the heat, but they aren’t very useful in areas that are warmer year-round. However, this can be useful if you have a method to alter your fireplace to act as an incinerator or can have one installed. Burning enough waste, installing incinerators and expelling scrubbed air will be prohibitively expensive for most individuals though.

Biogas, however, has a more distributed use. People can use it to collect and store energy even in the remotest areas. AgStar is a government based program dedicated to reducing methane emissions from livestock waste, making this a perfect option for farmers. The cost is on the lower end, especially since you can rig up a system on your own and have it cost well under $5,000. Systems like this are the most cost-effective on large farms where you have to pay to store and eliminate animal waste anyway. You might as well get something back for it!

Unfortunately, it’s almost impossible to give a breakdown of what any energy system will cost for a home. There are just too many variables to consider, so you would have to call and request an estimate. The government offers a variety of programs for help with funding and tax breaks for homeowners who do it, so check with those sites and ask the representative that you meet.

Green Technology

Cost Advantages of Rooftop Solar Panels vs. Grid Electricity

February 23, 2018
rooftop solar panels vs. grid electricity

Installing solar panels on your roof can significantly reduce your environmental impact and give you more control over the energy you use. The use of solar power has been spreading rapidly across the globe as it becomes more accessible to people.

The environmental benefits of solar power are clear, but how does it stack up regarding cost? Installing solar panels can reduce your energy costs, but installation costs and the amount you can save varies widely depending on where you live, rebate programs you’re eligible for, what type of technology you use and many other factors.

Let’s take a look at three cost advantages of installing solar panels on your property as compared to getting your energy from the grid.

1.    Upfront Costs

Installation costs are the most expensive part of going solar. On average, it costs about $22,000 to install a system on your home. The range of prices varies widely though from as little as $2000 to as much as $40,000. Of course, a significant factor is how many solar panels you need.

Another large part of the equation is the type of panel you choose to install. Some technologies are more expensive than other, but as these things usually go, you get what you pay for. Your options include:

  • Thin-Film Panels: These typically cost from $0.70 to $1 per watt. They have an efficiency of seven to 14 percent, require 100 to 215 square feet and last for 14 to 17 years.
  • Polycrystalline Panels: These panels sell for between $0.90 and $1 per watt. They have an efficiency of 15 to 20 percent, require 85 to 100 square feet and last for 23 to 27 years.
  • Monocrystalline Panels: Monocrystalline panels sell for between $1 and $1.50 per watt. They have an efficiency of 17 to 24 percent, require 65 to 100 square feet and last for 25 to 35 years.

While monocrystalline panels cost the most, they last the longest and are more efficient, so they’ll generate more electricity from the same amount of sunlight compared to the other technologies.

Also, solar panels that can rotate to follow the sun are more efficient than those that stay in a fixed position, although this technology is more common on large solar farms operated by utility companies. There are other solar technologies, too, such as concentrated solar energy and solar thermal energy, but they’re not typically used for residential installations.

2.    Financial Incentives

Depending where you live, you may be eligible for programs aimed at reducing the costs of installing solar and making it accessible to more people. You could even have a solar array installed for $0 down.

The federal government offers some financial incentives, as do many state and local governments. Depending where you live, you could get an exemption from property or sales taxes, a tax credit, a rebate or another incentive. You might even get help from the federal, state and local governments.

The policies in your state matter, too. Some have a rule called net metering, for instance, which allows you to sell any excess energy you generate back into the grid.

Some energy companies also offer rebates and leasing programs that can reduce your initial and overall costs. Be on the lookout for deals in your area, but always make sure you work with a company you trust and thoroughly read any contracts before signing.

3.    Energy Savings

Even if you didn’t save a whole lot on installation, you might still be able to recoup your upfront costs through consistent savings on your energy bills. An average sized solar array of five kilowatts can cut your monthly electric bill in half.

Exactly how much money you save, though, depends on how much electricity your panels generate, which will vary based on how much sun hits your panels. Your local climate and weather impact this, as well as the orientation of your panels and whether there are any obstructions between them and the sun.

States like California, Texas and Florida are among the best for solar panels because they get a lot of sun. Less sunny areas can still benefit from solar, but you’ll get more bang for your buck if you live somewhere exceptionally bright.

Another factor is the cost of electricity where you live. Customers in different locations pay different rates, and utilities get their electricity from a range of sources. Your local service might even get some of its power from large-scale solar farms. Of course, if you have higher rates, you’ll save more money by generating your own electricity.

Even if you don’t get a full solar array, you can still switch some of your appliances to solar power. An Energy Star-approved water heater, for instance, can reduce your water-heating bill by half and prevent as much carbon dioxide emissions as not driving your car for four years.

Although buying and installing a pool heating system powered by the sun costs around $3000 or $4000 to purchase and install, you can make your money back in lower energy bills in between 1.5 and seven years.

Factors to Consider

Remember, the savings of self-installed solar panels versus standard electric service is not a cut and dry issue. It depends on several factors, including:

  • The type of system you buy
  • How much energy you need to generate
  • The financial incentives available to you
  • The energy policies in your state
  • How much sun you get
  • The electricity costs in your area

It’s worthwhile to keep in mind, too, that the price of solar technology has been falling, while its efficiency continues to improve. This means the cost of installation is decreasing, as the amount of energy savings you can get is increasing. Researchers are also working on enhancing batteries that store energy from solar panels. These devices allow you to get energy from your solar system even if it’s not actively generating any power.

Depending on these factors, installing solar panels on your home can provide substantial financial benefits over the long term, in addition to its significant environmental advantages.

Green Technology

Propane vs. Geothermal: Which Should You Invest In?

February 5, 2018
propane vs geothermal

There are some great options available for heating your home, but two of the best options are propane and geothermal. Each one provides different benefits and has different drawbacks to it. Understanding the differences can help you make the best decisions for your situation. Propane vs. geothermal isn’t just about the cheapest option, though. You also have to take into account how it will affect the value of your home, how it will pay you back over the long-term and what kind of improvements in the area you can expect.

Propane Benefits

Propane offers high-efficiency heating systems that most people are familiar with. An updated system can add significant value to your home, and practically every HVAC service will know how to work with it. If you run into any issues, it will probably be relatively easy to fix. All of these things are incredibly important aspects in the depths of winter.

You can also use propane for parts of your home besides heating. You can use it to run various appliances like your stove and oven, and the efficiency of a propane heating system is no joke. They top the market as one of the most efficient heating systems available. This helps to make them better for the environment than other gas-powered furnaces. They use about 97 percent of the heat they emit, while most other heaters will allow as much as 20 percent to escape as emissions. If you want to be environmentally friendly, this is a good option.

You also get a lot of variety when it comes to propane. Depending on how your home is set up, you can choose between three styles of heating. Wall units, central units and combination units are all available. Wall units are great for small spaces. Central units offer the highest efficiency, and combination units allow you to use propane for other appliances like water heaters.

Geothermal Benefits

Geothermal is vastly different from propane. Instead of a classic combustion system, geothermal heat uses a series of underground pipes. It will draw heat from the warmer soil beneath the surface during the winter, and siphon it back into your home, keeping it at a comfortable temperature. It will provide the same service of heating your home, but with a few additional benefits:

  • You won’t receive a monthly bill for it.
  • The heat will be stable.
  • It’s about as clean as you can get.

There are emissions associated with building any heating system, but once a geothermal system is established, it has nearly zero emissions. This can make it extremely attractive to anyone who is concerned about the environment and is looking to craft a home that won’t need to be updated to fit changing standards.

You probably noticed that propane could be used for heating and hot water. The same is true of geothermal, but the same system that keeps your home warm in the winter will also keep it cool in the summer, eliminating any need for a separate air conditioning system. Hot water can be added on for an additional price. Once you have it, though, you never need to pay for it again.

As technology for geothermal improves, more options become possible. Instead of heating a single home, it would be entirely possible to create an underground geothermal field designed to heat multiple homes. If this particular idea manages to take off, then the conundrum of propane vs. geothermal would essentially be null.

Propane Cons

Of course, propane doesn’t pop up out of the ground and find its way to your home. You have to pay to have it filled regularly. Depending on how much you need to use, that can get expensive pretty quickly. The cost of propane itself is also likely to vary with the price of oil, the season of the year and the availability of it. As demand increases for propane, supply doesn’t grow with it. Instead, because of how propane is produced, there’s a rather steady supply of it year-round. It can’t fluctuate with demand, and that can cause price hikes for consumers.

If the home you’re in doesn’t already have a propane heating system, there’s a pretty hefty upfront cost to install one. This can be worth it, though, if you’re losing a great deal of efficiency with an older system that needs to be updated anyway.

Lastly, there are always health risks. Any kind of gas heating system is a potential fire hazard, but basic safety inspections and regular maintenance can counteract those. Propane isn’t really any more dangerous than other furnaces, despite what you may have heard. And it’s almost certainly less risky than having an open fireplace!

Geothermal Cons

The very nature of how geothermal works should be a significant consideration. It requires underground pipes to be dug, which may be impossible if you live in an urban or developed area and don’t have enough ground for it. It may also violate homeowner codes in certain associations.

If you live in an area where the ground has permafrost, it may also be almost impossible to dig deep enough to generate comfortable heat. That alone could prevent you from being able to use geothermal. Plus, if you live in an area with permafrost, you probably won’t get too much use out of the system’s ability to cool your home, either!

There may be a similar challenge when it comes to the hot water. If you like very hot showers, geothermal heat might have some difficulty delivering that for you. If it can, it may take a longer time to restore the hot water after, just because there is no flame.

The other biggie for geothermal is the cost of installation. Yes, once it’s installed it costs practically nothing, but the price tag for that installation isn’t something to ignore. It’s easily the most expensive installation of any heating system. That’s because you have to dig and install underground pipes. When it comes to installation prices of propane vs. geothermal, propane wins it by a long shot. Most geothermal systems will pay for themselves within 10 years, but that’s still a pretty significant price gap.

What you need for your home depends on just that — your home. A mobile home probably wouldn’t benefit much from geothermal heating. On the other hand, an apartment complex that could install geothermal heat for multiple units would see massive savings and attract a great many clients.

The best option is still too dependent on individual situations to call a clear winner, but one thing is sure: Fossil fuels won’t be around forever. As their prices increase, geothermal expenses are likely to get lower. That will make this a more realistic option for people.

Green Technology

How Do Offshore Wind Farms Compare to Onshore Wind Farms?

January 29, 2018
Offshore wind farms compare to onshore wind farms

Picture a boat 7,000 years ago carrying pottery, iron tools and a fresh haul of fish from the Nile. Okay, now how is it moving? Wind, of course! Fast-forward 5,000 years to China in 200 B.C., and we see simple windmills used to pump water — once again, harnessing the impressive power of the wind.

While we are the first to commercially exploit the wind’s power on an industrialized scale, using the power of wind — and that of the other elements such as water and sun — is not a new concept. Nevertheless, the progression to today’s wind farms both on and offshore is striking.

In the UK alone, onshore wind farms have the capacity of more than 8,800 megawatts, and offshore farms have the capacity of over 5,000 megawatts. So how do wind farms produce all this energy? Let’s briefly go back to basics. Wind farms are made up of groups of wind turbines, located within relatively close vicinity to each other. More often than not, wind farms are home to hundreds of turbines across hundreds of square miles, and each one produces electricity.

Each wind turbine has carbon-fiber blades which are turned by the wind, and which turn a motor to convert energy from kinetic to electric. Initially, the energy is transferred to a gearbox, which turns slow speed into high-speed rotary motion, finally powering the drive shaft fast enough to fuel the electric generator.

Wind farms are found both on and offshore, and location is not the only difference between the two. So how do offshore wind farms compare to onshore wind farms, and which of the two technologies makes the most sense economically to further develop?

Offshore Wind Farms

It may not shock you to learn that offshore wind technology is far less developed than onshore wind technology; it arrived around 100 years after its predecessor, going into effect in the 1990s close to Denmark.

Advantages of Offshore Wind Farms

Unsurprisingly, an offshore location provides an exceptional amount of freedom in the actual dimensions of the wind turbines — they can be built far larger and higher, therefore enabling more energy to be collected.

Being out at sea means that wind farms are far less imposing on otherwise scenic countryside. Larger wind farms can be constructed per square mile without bothering or affecting nearby locals or tourism income.

Being in the middle of the ocean does mean higher wind force. A nightmare for sailors, but a goldmine for wind farmers, high wind speed means more energy can be produced at any given moment. Furthermore, they tend to be more efficient because of better consistency and the fact that fewer turbines are needed to produce a similar amount of energy as onshore farms.

The impact on the environment of offshore wind farms could be positive. Firstly, manufacturers avoid shipping lanes, delicate ecosystems and fishing areas. More importantly, wind farms create safe zones around them — they restrict access to specific waters and increase artificial habitats.

Disadvantages of Offshore Wind Farms

The specific technology required for offshore use remains expensive. While it could change going forward, this is one of the main reasons it’s hard to justify offshore development over onshore. Offshore farms are about 90 percent more expensive than fossil fuel generators.

Offshore turbines suffer greater damage from wind and waves, thereby incurring greater maintenance and operational costs. Furthermore, it takes longer for engineers to reach repair sites to get them running again.

Onshore Wind Farms

Is the original form of something always the best? Onshore wind farms have certainly dominated the market for a long time — the first wind turbine was put together in the late 1800s.

Advantages of Onshore Wind Farms

Onshore wind farms cost very little in comparison to most other forms of energy harnessers for the infrastructure required to transmit electricity. They’re competitive among renewable energy solutions as well — onshore wind farms produce the cheapest available type of renewable energy.

Onshore wind farms can boost local economies — if manufacturing plants are nearby, it brings wealth to businesses in close proximity.

What’s more is that wind farms erected close to their manufacturing sites are more carbon neutral, given the reduction in emissions caused by transport. Finally, the shorter the distance between wind turbine and end user, the less need for voltage drop-off on the cabling.

Disadvantages of Onshore Wind Farms

The most significant disadvantage of onshore wind farms is the eyesore they create on otherwise beautiful landscapes. Some individuals argue that onshore farms endanger bird life and cause noise pollution. Public buy-in is key to the success of onshore wind farm development, and while it is strong now, it can always get stronger.

Onshore wind farms do not produce energy all year round, making them less efficient. Poor wind speed is often a problem as well as physical obstacles, including large buildings, mountains and hills.

As with every project, the individual toss-ups between developing onshore and offshore wind farms usually come down to political, financial and geographical variables. Therefore, they are assessed on a case-by-case basis.

Wind power is gaining popularity globally — at the start of 2016, the international capacity was 432,884 MW, 17 percent higher than what it was in 2014. The industry is extremely fast-paced, and we can expect the technology for both onshore and offshore wind farms to improve rapidly. At the moment, however, while it can be argued that offshore is a more efficient option, it remains quite undeveloped — the capital costs and maintenance are still too expensive for many.

Green Technology

Hydroelectricity 101: Should We Support this Form of Energy?

January 22, 2018

At first glance, hydroelectricity may seem like the ultimate renewable energy resource. It’s readily available, relatively inexpensive and uses natural resources to produce electricity. On the other hand, it can negatively impact marine life and their habitats, change the landscape and alter natural water flow patterns.

This Hydroelectricity 101 guide explains the basic process of how hydroelectricity works. Basically, hydroelectricity is the result of damming rivers. Water builds in a reservoir, creating a pressure differential. The pressure differential forces water through a penstock, which turns a turbine connected to an electric generator. Higher dams have more energy potential, since steeper penstocks create more energy.

The ocean also represents another potential form of hydroelectric power in the form of tide cycles and waves. In fact, coastal water resources have the potential to generate up to 1,000 terawatts of energy in the United States alone. Some offshore hydroelectric sources are in use, though at a much smaller scale compared to hydroelectric power.

Do the benefits of hydroelectric power outweigh the risks? Industry experts, state and federal governments haven’t yet reached a conclusion. While the EPA considers hydroelectric power a renewable resource, many states use differing criteria as to whether hydroelectric power counts toward their renewable energy goals. Here are the main factors in the Hydroelectricity 101 debate.

Resource Availability

Nearly 70 percent of Earth’s surface is covered by water. With the availability of both inland and offshore water resources, the possibilities for hydroelectric power are endless. Water is also technically a renewable resource. In the water cycle, water is constantly changing forms and is redeposited to the planet’s surface in the form of precipitation. For this reason, the EPA considers hydroelectric power, like wind and solar power, to be a renewable energy resource.

Wind and solar energy, however, have grown in popularity in recent years, with more companies committing to use these renewable energy resources to power their facilities. Hydroelectric power, however, has remained relatively stagnant, despite its enormous potential. Part of this lack of interest may be due to the fact that many states don’t consider all hydroelectric power resources to be renewable energy resources.

States such as California worry that by including hydroelectric power as a renewable energy resource, states will reduce their efforts to expand their use of renewable energy. Since many states already have hydroelectric facilities, changing this distinction would increase the amount of renewable energy the states were using, and perhaps decrease their incentive to invest in new technologies.

Reduced Cost and Carbon Footprint

Hydroelectric facilities have low operation and maintenance costs, since they don’t require fuel. Additionally, the infrastructure is built to last up to 100 years, if not longer. As a whole, hydroelectric power is more cost-effective when compared to other energy resources.

No fuel also means hydroelectric plants don’t release harmful greenhouse gas emissions. Energy production is responsible for nearly 25 percent of global carbon emissions. By using power generated from clean sources, it will be possible to reduce the global carbon footprint and potentially slow the rate of global climate change.

Another benefit of hydroelectric power is that it can vary to meet shifting changes in energy needs. Solar energy can only be collected when the sun is shining, and wind energy can only be collected when the wind is blowing. The ability to meet the varying energy demand means energy prices will be kept more stable.

Hydroelectric power is also abundantly available domestically, which can help maintain price stability. Instead of relying on foreign oil imports, it can be generated throughout the nation. Additionally, dams create reservoirs that can be used for recreational activities and boost local tourism and quality of life.

Environmental Impact

Dams change the environment downstream of a river considerably. Flowing rivers carry sediments that naturally settle along the river’s bottom and banks. Dams prevent these sediments from flowing downstream, which leads to incising, or the deepening of the river. While this may not seem like a problem initially, it can lead to changes in the groundwater table over time.

As the river cuts deeper into the ground, it will lower the surrounding water table, making it more difficult for vegetation to access surface water resources. Additionally, humans relying on private wells may need to drill deeper to access groundwater supplies. In some instances, extreme reservoirs actually cause downstream rivers to run seasonally dry, which lowers the groundwater table even more.

A seasonally dry water table means certain marine life downstream may die off. Many of the hydroelectric dams throughout the northwest interrupted salmon spawning patterns, which led to significant population decreases. Reduced water flows may also change the volume of dissolved oxygen in the water, which plants and fish need to breathe. Once the oxygen level drops too low, nothing in the water will be able to survive.

From a larger perspective, plants and trees that relied on the river will also be compromised. Farmers will need to invest in expensive irrigation systems or find alternative water sources to continue to water their crops. Animals will need to migrate to find new sources of water, since their current supply was diminished.

Hope for the Future

While conventional hydropower infrastructure may seem to be too risky or costly for the environment to implement, new research may yield strategies that preserve environmental conditions, while also maximizing electricity output. Additionally, smaller hydroelectric facilities may help reduce the environmental impact.


Hydroelectricity sits in a precarious position. While it produces no greenhouse gas emissions and offers a cost-effective, stable solution to electricity generation, it also comes with other environmental impacts that are difficult to ignore. However, continued research and new technological innovations may find solutions to preserving environmental conditions, while also allowing us to take advantage of this abundant resource.

Green Technology

10 Green Tech Blogs You Should Read this Year

January 1, 2018
green tech blogs

Getting advice about green technology is tricky in the age of information. Frankly, the sheer amount that’s available can be overwhelming, and it’s hard to know which sources to trust. Some sites do a better job of nailing down the facts than others. If you’re looking for green tech blogs you should read, then check these out. They’re well known for both accuracy and current developments

1. Mother Nature Network

Also known as MNN, this trusted and global source of information covers environmentalism from all angles. They discuss technology, but they also explain how people and families interact with and alter the environment, just by existing within it. They offer a wide variety of information, including lighter, conversational topics as well as the more in-depth articles about scientific advances. They write about everything from pets to political threats to protected areas.

2. Grist

Grist keeps the focus on environment and people. They’re a well-established blog and have been around since 1999. As a nonprofit, they accept donations in order to continue writing about clean energy, sustainable food sources, city-wide advances to improve quality of life, and environmental justice. Their ability to combine advances in technology with unbiased political reporting helps give readers a comprehensive image of the challenges the industry is facing.

3. Triple Pundit

The triple topic for this site revolves around people, planet, and profit. Unlike the previous sites, and many of the others on this list, they focus on business just as much as on the environment. One of the biggest boons in that intersection right now, of course, is environmental technology. If you’re looking for short, summary articles, this isn’t the place to go. TriplePundit specialized in longer, in-depth articles that give readers a solid understanding of the topic. Don’t expect a lot of fluff on this site.

4. Treehugger

Treehugger doesn’t focus exclusively on technology but instead aims to be a “one-stop shop” for sustainability. Advancing technology is a big part of that. The blog, which was started in 2004, has been part of making sustainability mainstream. But the team isn’t content to stop with talking points. They want to drive actual change, whether that means introducing new technologies or teaching individuals how to garden.

5. The Energy Collective

Another site where the primary focus is on technology, this site is one place where you can get the most accurate, up to date information possible. The focus for this site is on advances in sustainability, including new fuels, innovations, and the latest advances regarding climate change. Their writers come from all over the globe, giving you a truly international perspective. The most significant part of that is their focus on how different countries are competing with each other to get ahead in the green technology industry.

6. Alternative Energy News

If you’re looking specifically for tech news as it relates to energy, this blog is the perfect niche for you. It was created in 2006 by someone with a passion, but not a background, in green technology. Alex Ramon was a photographer and bicycle mechanic but switched to try and bring people around the world good news. It turns out, he was very successful with it! Choose from over 25 categories to peruse, and find whatever information you’re looking for with absolute ease.

7. Green Biz

The intersection of green technology and business meets in this online blog, which has become well-known in management sectors across many industries. They are primarily a blog, but they also host events for networking and promote research throughout the industry. That gives them some exclusive looks at new technology that could make a big difference for anyone who’s looking to get ahead. Even if you don’t check this blog out daily, it’s one you’ll want on your list of updates.

8. Clean Technica

Clean Technica has won monthly awards for their dedication to clean technology in the past. Their caliber of writing and consistent commitment to finding the best information has put them in the top spot and made them a trusted name. They’ve been focused on green technology including solar, wind, electric, and energy storage. They’re one part of a larger network of blogs, so they have sufficient resources to fact check all of their work and make sure they aren’t misleading anyone.

9. Huffington Post

Huffington Post covers a vast range of topics, including everything from women’s rights to celebrity gossip. They’re widely prominent, and they have an entire section dedicated to sustainability. While some of those aspects may hit on individual elements, many others focus on U.S. and worldwide green technology and sustainability initiatives. You’ll find everything here, from learning how to compost at home to international water safety and hope spots.

10. Alt Energy Magazine

Another all-star focused on green energy and fuel instead of all things sustainable, this site’s work is anything but outdated. Their site not only offers connections to other companies in the green tech industry. It also highlights multiple articles a day about relevant, breaking news. Plus, it’s surprisingly easy to navigate the site, with a focus on content over aesthetic. It’s a niche aspect of the internet, but one that’s sure to appeal to many people who value information and accuracy.

These are just a few of the many sustainability blogs available. There are sure to be some hidden gems that aren’t presented here, but these are some of the best known and best-written options out there. As far as blogs go, green tech blogs are something you should read and be aware of green tech options that are out there to help the climate and help you live a more sustainable lifestyle. Don’t let the new year slip by without adding at least one of these to your reading lists!

Green Technology

How to Make Geothermal Energy Affordable

December 4, 2017
Geothermal heating affordable

Geothermal heating offers an attractive alternative to traditional fossil fuels. Not only does the price per kilowatt rival that of coal, but geothermal heating also creates significantly less harmful greenhouse gas emissions. The main drawback to this eco-friendly technology is the substantial startup costs of installing the appropriate infrastructure to harness the Earth’s energy.

The initial startup costs are typically what dissuade potential geothermal heating users from implementing the technology. Fortunately, new initiatives are underway which, over time, may make geothermal heating a more affordable and realistic option for multiple consumers.

Encourage Government Investments in Geothermal Research

For years, proponents of geothermal heating encouraged the government to invest more money into geothermal heating research to figure out more affordable and efficient ways to harness the Earth’s natural energy. Recently, the government responded and decided to invest approximately $18 million in geothermal heating research. This funding is primarily being used in pilot studies with existing geothermal technology and researching new methods of using Earth’s energy.

One such research route that could make geothermal heating more accessible and potentially more affordable to a broader range of citizens is the hot, dry rock approach. Historically, the Earth’s natural energy was harvested by using steam or heated water already present underground. One drawback to this method is that unless the resources are carefully managed, they may be depleted early due to improper or overuse.

Hot, dry rock technology involves injecting water from above ground beneath the Earth’s surface into rock formations that are heated naturally. This water can then be converted into steam to drive turbines or heat homes and office buildings. Since the water comes from above ground, the risk of depleting the geothermal resource is decreased. It also potentially increases the number of resources available, as areas without natural hot water formations can still use geothermal energy.

Install Geothermal Heating on a Larger Scale

The average cost of installing geothermal heating in a private home ranges from $20,000 to $25,000 and requires an available plot of land nearly twice the size of the home to be heated. Despite these statistics, the initial investment can pay off in as little as 10 years. On average, most homeowners can’t afford to invest a down payment into making their home eco-friendlier.

Energy companies specializing in geothermal technology could instead work with neighborhoods to install geothermal loops that would serve multiple homes or entire communities and make geothermal heating affordable. This would reduce the overall construction cost, and homeowners could work with the companies to pay back installation fees over time as part of their monthly utility bill. This model is already successfully being employed in Canada, where over 40 percent of the residential heating systems are being upgraded to geothermal heat.

Most utility companies in the United States already employ this type of billing method. Residents and corporations are charged a monthly fee that depends on how much electricity, water or natural gas they use. Implementing a similar service for geothermal heating will ultimately make it affordable and accessible to a wider range of people.

Additionally, more experienced contractors will likely be able to complete geothermal construction projects in a shorter time period with fewer resources, which in turn will lead to reduced construction costs. Communities will then benefit from skilled laborers installing their geothermal systems and reduce the risk of errors.

Develop Better Technology for Locating Geothermal Resources

Only 13 states have known geothermal resources that are deemed suitable for energy generation. This is mainly because geothermal heating resources are underground and not easily identified without drilling technology. New investments in underground exploration or geothermal identification may lead to the discovery of additional resources, which in turn can increase the demand for geothermal energy.

Government subsidies alone aren’t enough to drive the price of geothermal heating into the affordable range for the majority the United States population. Private companies and the government need to continue research in geothermal technologies to develop more efficient methods of tapping into the Earth’s natural heating resource. Over time, larger-scale development of geothermal heating infrastructure may make this energy an affordable option for everyone.

Green Technology

New Technology Helping Save Wildlife

November 27, 2017
Technology helping save wildlife

If you read technology news even on an occasional basis, you’re probably accustomed to reading about chatbots, big data and cloud computing, but news stories about technology helping save wildlife are usually not as prominent. Even so, exciting things are happening to protect our planet’s worthy — but often endangered — creatures.

Advanced Cameras to Track Natural Behaviors

Scientists realize that one of the key factors of understanding extinction is knowing how animals behave in the wild. Then, they can determine if animals are living in ways that make their eventual demise more likely to happen sooner.

To broaden their knowledge, researchers often set up cameras and let them record what animals do. This technique is also known as camera trapping, and it relieves people from having to sit still for hours, hoping the animals will come out.

Today’s recording equipment is significantly more advanced than what was available in the past. For example, modern batteries can keep the cameras operating day and night for months.

Also, some cameras transmit images to scientists on other continents via satellite. The satellite transmissions are an important part of the technology helping save wildlife because they eliminate problems caused by areas of poor mobile phone reception.

Depending on Drones and Artificial Intelligence to Stop Poaching

Unfortunately, humans often contribute to the dangers animals face every day. Poaching is a particularly troubling problem throughout Africa for the elephant and rhino populations. Numerous organizations have experimented with using drones to catch poachers, but The Lindbergh Foundation is going even further to work with new technology helping save wildlife.

It depends on artificial intelligence (AI) to help reduce false alarms and look through collective footage faster. Engineers from Neurala, a deep-learning specialty company, taught the AI to recognize rhinos, elephants and poachers. That acquired knowledge allows the technology to look through real-time footage sent from the drones, including infrared video material captured at night.

Cloning Wildlife to Preserve Biodiversity

Decades ago, Dolly the sheep made headlines as the first cloned animal. Then, people began wondering if cloning in this manner might emerge as a new technology helping save wildlife.

Sadly, Dolly died in 2003 and only lived about half as long as her species usually does. Scientists did not find evidence that cloning contributed to Dolly’s death, but the fact remains that there are many challenges associated with genetics and the risks may outweigh benefits.

Despite that reality, there are efforts to clone endangered or extinct species. People are hopeful that although this practice is probably not a long-term solution to maintain a healthy level of biodiversity, it may offer much-needed short-term assistance while biologists and other wildlife explore more feasible possibilities

Using Circuit Boards to Protect Bees

Over the last couple of years, people have gained a heightened awareness of how beneficial bees are to our environment and that the numbers of them are rapidly dwindling. There are various theories about why that’s happening, but one of the most common among them is that Varroa destructor mites are wreaking havoc for the bees.

A company called Gemalto has created a small circuit board that goes directly inside the bees’ hives. It has 32 sensors that can tell when the Varroa destructor mites enter a hive and lay eggs.

After the circuit board detects a likely case of mite intrusion, it sends the information to a corresponding app. The specialized application can change the temperature of the hive to destroy the mites without pesticides and not harm the bees.

As you can see from these forward-thinking and inspiring examples, there are some significant instances of technology helping save wildlife. It’ll be interesting to see how the techniques outlined here evolve and result in even better strategies for keeping the Earth’s non-human inhabitants safer.

Green Technology

A Roundup of Renewable Energy around the World

November 17, 2017
Renewable energy around the world

The continual consumption of fossil fuels is a serious contributing factor to climate change, and first world countries consume more than their fair share. Renewable energy around the world is one of the best options for working on reducing that. It is not a full solution to climate change, but it can help mitigate the severity of it. At this point, that’s our primary goal.

Although first world countries consume more carbon emissions than others, they are not the only ones trying to solve the carbon crisis. Most countries are trying to work toward green technology. Numerous countries making impressive strides. In fact, some small islands have been able to run entirely off of renewable energy. This is difficult for large nations to replicate because the energy demand is so much higher, but even those achievements are impressive. Costa Rica managed 76 days with only renewable energy sources, and other islands are looking to do the same.


China is probably the biggest surprise. They’re the leading country for overall greenhouse gas emissions, but that’s mostly because they’ve got a huge population and a large production industry. They’re also making some fantastic strides in employing renewable technologies, despite their still impressive emissions. Their reasons for doing so may be based more on watching how the new industry can help them financially, but the result is the same. They are sweeping other countries under the rug with their work on renewables.

They have built and are operating vast solar and wind farms. China has a lot of space, and much of it is unpopulated. They have room to build renewable farms on a scale that more developed countries can’t. They have set their own goals, per the Paris Agreement, and one of them is to produce 20 percent of the country’s energy needs with renewables by 2030.


Iceland has, impressively, been getting more than 75 percent of its energy from renewable sources. Iceland has an unusual situation since they are well situated to make use of geothermal energy. They don’t need to rely on wind and solar, which are more variable, and can instead depend on a constant, steady supply of power from below their feet. Their luck has made it easy to change from fossil fuels, and they’ve taken full advantage of it.

United States

The U.S. isn’t exactly top dog when it comes to renewables, but it’s still come a long way. In the late 60’s, when rivers started catching fire from all the pollution, a series of environmental policies were enacted. That curbed a lot of the U.S. emissions from companies, but the per capita emissions in the U.S. are still some of the highest in the world.

Cities and corporations in the U.S. are making a concentrated effort to take their own measures to move toward renewable energy sources. Tesla is aiming to make electric cars available to everyone, but they’re also working on solar power for everyone. In fact, they’ve designed an entire roof made of solar panels.

And despite the government’s efforts, the U.S. has made significant strides. In the past seven years, the U.S. has reduced energy emissions by over 12 percent. That’s not a huge number, and it’s certainly not high enough, but it’s a good start.


A lot of people don’t talk about Africa, but it’s one of the biggest consumers of renewable energy in the world. A big part of that comes from the fact that they never had a solidly established fossil fuel system, so they have nothing to change from. They can only gain energy, and a lot of that comes from green tech. The other significant factor is that the fossil fuel industry has less of a hold in Africa. The energy supply there is expected to at least double by 2030, and a massive portion of that is likely to be from renewable energy.

The efforts that are being put into renewable energy around the world is impressive. All countries need to get on board, and if they don’t do it because it’s good for the planet, they should do it because it’ll be good for their pockets. Ignoring the worldwide trend of energy consumption would be like ignoring the Industrial Revolution. Doing so will leave you in the dust.

Green Technology

5 Eco-Friendly Ways to Heat Your Home This Winter

November 6, 2017
eco-friendly ways to heat your home

Heating is expensive, time-consuming and often damaging to the earth, though during the cold months it’s necessary. Fortunately, there are some eco-friendly ways to heat your home throughout the winter:

1. Geothermal Heating

The first of the eco-friendly ways to heat your home is geothermal heating, which is arguably one of the most ambitious ways to embrace green living and the most costly. The average cost of installing geothermal heating is between $20,000 – $25,000. Additionally, you will need a nice plot of land, double the area that your home covers.

A major advantage of geothermal heating is that the system will work as a complete HVAC system. Geothermal heating works via a loop. Underground temperatures fluctuate much less than our atmosphere. In the summer the loop feeds in cold air from the ground to cool your home, and in the winter the loops feed in warm air from the ground to keep you toasty.

If you have the budget, this costly investment will pay for itself within a decade and has been proven to last for generations.

2. Solar Heating

Solar energy is plentiful and a great alternative to fossil fuel heating. Like geothermal heating, solar is a considerable investment.

While leasing solar panels may seem like an easier way to get started, the lease can affect the resale value of your home. It is costly to remove solar panels, and many buyers do not want an additional expense each month on top of a new mortgage.

Additionally, some buyers see solar panels as an eyesore. Fortunately, companies like Tesla are driving the market forward by creating solar roofs that have a traditional shingle look.

If buying solar panels or investing in a geothermal heating system is out of your price range, even after tax incentives, there are a few cheaper options to get you started. The best way to get started with making your home more eco-friendly is through small changes.

3. Pellet Stove

Budget pellet stoves start at about $1000 and are less costly to install than a traditional wood burning stove. They do not need a traditional chimney for ventilation and installation can occur wherever sidewall ventilation is available in your home.

More importantly, they are more efficient (between 70% – 80% EPA efficiency rating) and are an effective way to use organic waste that you can otherwise discard. If you never learned how to build a fire, the learning curve on a pellet stove is much more forgiving. Just light the pellets and enjoy the heat. Some models even have an automatic system.

One drawback to consider is that a pellet stove needs electricity to function. It’s best to have a backup option as winter storms can bring heavy snow and wind that bring down power lines.

4. Get Up and Move

It doesn’t get more eco-friendly than relying on your energy. Our resting heating temperatures in our homes have risen due to sedentary lifestyles and computer-focused work.

Sixty-five degrees is comfortable if you are moving throughout the day, though can give you a chill if you stay still. Schedule regular get up and move breaks to help keep yourself mobile, more focused, and to generate more heat. Being more active is the cheapest way to add more heat to your home at the bargain price of free, especially when combined with the other options here.

5. Radiant Floor Heating

With equipment installed under the floor, radiant floor heat offers a non-intrusive form of heating that offers considerable efficiency, since there’s no heat lost through ductwork. Radiant floor heat also operates more quietly and is less likely to distribute allergens than forced air systems. Contrary to the belief of some, radiant floor heat can install in already-constructed homes. Additionally, programmable thermostats and solar panels can be compatible with radiant floor heat.

Finding eco-friendly ways to heat your home can be efficient and won’t require you to sacrifice the comfort level in your home throughout the winter.