How Solar Is Transforming Seattle


By the Numbers – How Solar Is Transforming Seattle

On the surface, Seattle doesn’t seem like it would be a hotbed for solar power. After all, the city is infamous for its clouds and rain, so deriving power from the sun doesn’t make much sense, right? Well, not necessarily.

In terms of climate and sunlight, Seattle is not all that different from a slew of European cities that have embraced solar power far more than most American cities. Just because Seattle doesn’t have 300 days of sunshine every year like Florida doesn’t mean that solar power can’t work in The Emerald City.

How Much Sunlight

To be fair, Seattle is on the low end when it comes to the average annual solar radiation value compared to the rest of the country. However, despite significant disparity over the course of the year, Seattle does receive quite enough solar radiation during the summer months to make solar panels worthwhile.

From May to September, Seattle averages around 5-kilowatt hours per square meter per day (kWh/m2/day) or better. Over the course of the year, Seattle has an average annual solar radiation value of around 3.75 kWh/m2//day. This doesn’t compare well with other west coast cities of comparable size, but it’s enough to make solar worth exploring.

Costs and Perks

The biggest drawback to solar power is the large upfront costs for equipment and installation. However, there are both federal and state incentives that can help reduce the upfront costs of moving to solar power. It’s also possible to get financing on solar panels to defer some of the costs.

Once installed, solar panels can generate enough power to reduce or eliminate the amount of power a household must purchase from their local power company. In Seattle, the solar radiation during peak summer months creates enough of a surplus to make up for the winter months, allowing everything to even out over the course of the year.

In some instances, solar systems are grid-tied, so that any excess power can be moved back to the grid and the owner of the solar system is given credit towards future months when they may use more than they produce. Essentially, owners of solar systems are paid for the energy their panels produce, allowing them to pay little towards the monthly energy bill, or in some cases eradicating the ongoing cost completely.

The Future

In the event electricity prices increase, those with solar panels are going to be in a much better position, as they will produce most if not all their own electricity. Investing in the upfront costs of solar makes sense if you believe the cost of fossil fuels will increase in the decades to come.

Most importantly, utilizing solar power lessens the need for fossil fuels and therefore reduces the strain on the environment. This reason alone is enough to make solar power an intriguing possibility, even in a cloudy city like Seattle.

Guide for sustainablewestseattle.org: Environmentally safe cleaning methods.

 

Easy Changes, Big Impact: How to Make Your Cleaning Routine Better for the Environment

Trying to be more eco-friendly as a busy parent can sometimes seem like a struggle – you already have so much on your hands, how can you find the time? If you’re looking for simple ideas that can really make a difference to the environment – and your family – then why not start by reassessing what’s in your cleaning cupboard? It can be as easy as picking up a different product in the store, but having a real impact; studies by the Environmental Protection Agency show that indoor air can be two to five times more polluted than outside air due to toxic chemicals from cleaning products.

Better for the Environment

Thousands of deaths of marine animals yearly can be attributed to toxic pollution from synthetic chemicals entering the natural water system. The plastic packaging from the products contributes to this further; large patches of garbage floating in the ocean have reached the size of US states. This scale of impact throws out the balance of entire eco-systems – all to get that sparkling finish on your counter tops.

Better for Your Family

Closer to home, studies have also shown that conventional cleaning products can increase the risk of asthma in children; and many scientists support the ‘hygiene hypothesis’ that using chemical cleaners which are “too effective” limits the exposure of children to germs. This means that their immune systems fail to build up defences against harmful bacteria and become hypersensitive, often causing lifelong allergies to things like dust and pollen.

How to Make Your Cleaning More Eco-Friendly

Fortunately, it’s easy and simple to switch to environmentally conscious cleaning products and methods, without sacrificing the results. Many of the solutions can be homemade, and are far cheaper than branded alternatives. Get creative and think about where else you can apply the principles: how about cleaning your car or pet’s crate?

·         If you have limey water prone to scaling up in your bathroom and kitchen, try something acidic like vinegar, lemon juice or diet soda to remove the deposits.

·         Stains on ovens, sinks or cookers respond well to bicarbonate of soda.

·         Open your windows regularly for a blast of fresh air rather than spraying harmful aerosols or using air conditioning units.

·         Use natural wax or oil for cleaning and polishing furniture.

If you’re struggling to go 100% eco-friendly straight away, don’t worry – try and cut out the most toxic chemicals first. Ammonia and chlorine are too big ones to watch out for; and by doing so, you’ll be helping the environment and your family.

Keep Your Pet Safe from Lawn Chemicals

Animals love to explore the outdoors and your pets will jump at the chance to chew and sniff their way around your garden. If you are conscious of the environment then your pet should stay safe, but be aware that it could eventually venture further afield. Chemicals sprayed on the lawn can be extremely harmful to pets, inducing symptoms of vomiting, drooling, diarrhea and breathing trouble among others. The chemicals may find their way onto your pet’s fur, which may seem harmless but there is still a risk your pet will ingest it while preening or cleaning themselves.

If these chemicals are ingested by your pet, their waste may reach the water system, harming you and others. It is important to dispose of waste appropriately to avoid this and stick to pet-safe products in your garden. Read on to find out more about how your pet could be affected by the chemicals used in your garden.