A new year sparks adamant goals and promising intentions for the coming months. Not only does vowing to reduce your carbon footprint have a positive impact on the ecosystem, it often results in financial savings and can even enhance your overall well-being.
Eco-resolutions worth keeping
Here are some multi-beneficial eco-resolutions to consider in 2016, and the technology to make these goals an effortless reality.
Install Smart Home Devices to Save Energy
Smart thermostats utilize technology that allows users to remotely control their heating and cooling with a tablet, smartphone or desktop. Not only do these programmable thermostats improve your home’s energy efficiency, their sensors can actually learn your temperature preferences and detect when you’re about to leave the house—resulting in ideal yet affordable comfort. Consistently ranked number one, the Nest Learning Thermostat saves users an average of 10 to 12 percent on heating bills and up to 15 percent on cooling, the company claims. Released in September of 2015, the 3rd generation Nest Learning Thermostat can detect shut-off patterns that signify any problems with your furnace.
As the production of incandescent lightbulbs is phased out, LED bulbs are becoming more common in homes across America. Lasting up to 25 times longer and using as much as 80 percent less energy, today’s LED lights are offered in a spectrum of colors and various light levels. Technology has also advanced to the era of smart lightbulbs that feature computer chips, making them programmable via computer or smartphone. Ranked number one for 2016, the dimmable AwoX SmartLIGHT is an LED bulb that screws into most home lighting fixtures. The Bluetooth-enabled smart device can illuminate a rainbow of colors and last up to 20,000 hours.
Smart showerheads also promise to gain traction in 2016. Revolutionizing the shower experience, EvaDrop is the first smart shower device that saves water. With an internal heat sensor to track water temperature, EvaDrop can save up to 50 percent of your water usage. Controlled by a smartphone app, this device automatically adjusts the water flow based on movements, and even alerts users who are taking lengthy showers.
Invest in Solar Panels to Save Money on Electricity
After implementing several tactics to make your home more energy efficient, you’ll begin seeing the difference in your utility bill. Why stop there? Your electric bill could be zeroed out completely—you could even collect cash from your utility company (depending on where you live)—by going solar.
Solar electric panels or photovoltaics (PV) are converting sunlight to energy more efficiently than ever before. While SunPower was consistently the leader in the most efficient PV panels, exceeding 21 percent efficiency in its X-Series panels since 2013, both Panasonic and SolarCity reached similar efficiency levels in October of 2015.
A new innovation in solar and the fastest-growing segment of the industry is community or “roofless” solar. The same concept as a community garden, a large-scale solar facility is built within the community it serves. Multiple residents can then buy or lease individual panels in the shared array, and receive credits on their utility bill for the clean power their panels generate. Because no solar panels are installed on an individual’s home or property, community solar opens up the market to renters, condominium owners and those with rooftops unfit to host a solar system.
By the end of 2016, GTM Research predicts that the U.S. community solar market will reach 465 megawatts—seven times the amount installed at the end of 2014.
Grow Indoor Organic Food All Year Long
If eating healthier and saving money is on your resolution list for 2016, then indoor gardening should be a priority. Ideal for those with limited space, soil-free indoor gardening methods—hydroponics, aquaponics and aeroponics—keep fruits and vegetables safe from pests and disease.
Hydroponics is the soilless method of growing plants with mineral nutrients and water. A self-contained hydroponic growing environment, Niwa is a pre-assembled system the size of a small filing cabinet that connects to a smartphone. Seeds, water, light, nutrients and regular monitoring are all that’s needed to grow everything from fresh herbs to tomatoes.
Aquaponics is the marriage of aquaculture (raising fish) and hydroponics together in one integrated system. The world’s first intelligent indoor ecosystem, the Grove Ecosystem, utilizes LED lighting and a mobile app to monitor and control your garden. Fish process food into waste, and then helpful bacteria turn the waste into nitrate, which then fertilizes the seeds. The symbiotic relationship between the fish, plants and bacteria allows fruits and vegetables to be grown organically, year-round.
Aeroponics is the process of growing plants by spraying the roots (suspended in air or hung in a dark chamber) with a high pressure, nutrient-rich mist. According to NASA, which has been experimenting with aeroponics in space since the 1990s, this gardening method grows plants up to three times faster while reducing water usage by 98 percent. A vertical aeroponics system, such as the Tower Garden, can yield up to 30 percent more produce than soil gardening over the same time period.
Whether it’s eating healthy, reducing your bills or cutting back on energy use, an eco-resolution can help you accomplish your goals while instilling a sense of pride for helping create a brighter, more sustainable future.