Finance

Financing an Eco lifestyle

Introduction

This page will be looking at the possible ways of creating an affordable eco lifestyle. The general thinking is that people will make the changes needed to be more climate friendly. Though some things are worth paying for, the focus will be on finding compatible pricing for an eco lifestyle. With every serious endeavor a feasible plan must be laid out that includes some sort of financial analysis. We currently operate in a monetary system, so there is no escaping the financing of a project; cost always has to be considered.  The other chapters of this guidebook will focus on farming, waste management, energy and how to manage stakeholders in your community. This chapter will also look at the financial aspects of these essential areas.

An eco- friendly lifestyle isn’t as expensive as most would think, especially if we use the three R’s; reuse, reduce and recycle. Every year we throw out billions of food and drink cans, glass bottles and jars. Most of this waste is then sent to a dump or landfill where it can take more than a century to decompose. A sure way to start an eco lifestyle is to not purchase items you don’t need or that come in wasteful packaging or that cannot be recycled.  The upside of this kind of lifestyle is that you will be helping the environment at the same time by reducing the amount of waste you produce. Some quick ways to reduce would be to carpool with friends, taking the bus or riding a bike has cars use up energy and pollute the environment. Most newspapers and magazines are now currently in online formats, so instead of buying the paper versions you could get the online versions.

Quick ways to reuse would be to, instead of throwing out items, find ways in which to reuse them. For example, save your old clothes, kid’s toys, furniture and other things you no longer have any need for. More than likely someone else could use them. Try taking them instead to a Red Cross, giving them to a friend or have a yard sale. As the saying goes, “ one man’s waste is another man’s fortune”.  We have all heard that the trees are dying, so why not take cloth sacks when grocery shopping instead of taking home new paper or plastic bags.

A lot of the items we purchase on a daily basis such as paper bags, soda cans, and juice cartons, are made from materials that can be recycled. Recycled items are put through a process that makes it possible to create new products out of the materials from the old ones. In addition to recycling the things you buy, you can help the environment by buying products that contain recycled material. Many towns have recycling centers where it is possible to drop off the items you have collected.

Cost Effective Energy

There is no doubt that our current sources of energy such as oil, gas and coal are not only unsustainable but also costly. Presently oil is more than a hundred dollars a barrel. We believe that our current dependence on nonrenewable sources of energy such as fossil fuels makes it urgent that we change course sooner than later. With that said we shouldn’t rush to panic though, as we have many other means to meet our energy needs, if applied efficiently. Some of these alternatives we believe includes solar power, wind power and hydroelectricity to name a few.

In many countries local and state government have renewable energy incentive programs and tax credits to help pay for alternative energy sources such as wind power systems. For example, in the U.S they have a federal tax credit for wind, solar and other renewable energy systems to assist in paying 30% of the total system cost. Local websites in Sweden such as http://www.svenskvindenergi.org and http://www.svensk-vindkraft.org offers information on wind power. Again a quick Google search of your home country will show relevant contacts to get further assistance in wind, solar or other alternative energy sources.

Solar Power

First we would like to take a look at the efficiency of having solar power used as energy, harnessing the suns energy to produce electricity. With a solar power system, you can both save energy, cut annual electricity bills and even increase the value of your home. Some has already dub solar power as the most promising of all the other alternative energy sources thus far. We found that using solar power can generate substantial amounts of energy to efficiently run a household and in some cases small to large firms. Though the initial stages such as purchasing and setting up the panels can be expensive and turn off most small homeowners, there is an upside in the end results. Solar power is clean and harvested directly from the sun. There are no emitted emissions in any of the stages of its production cycle i.e. harvesting, conversion, production, delivery or consumption. These benefits we found far outweigh the cost of the initial stages. Added to this, once passed the initial stages, solar panels will save homeowners and businesses alike thousands of dollars over a number of years. Solar panels are already a trend in places such as Silicon Valley in California. Once this catches on, as with many other technologies, the price will go down as the product becomes more mainstream.

Creating Solar Power at Home

Another option is the “do it yourself” solar panels solution for homeowners that want to reduce their carbon footprint in an affordable way. There are many different guides that can be found by simply going online or to bookstores. These guides give knowledge on how to easily construct your own solar panels for a couple of hundred dollars with materials that can be found at most hardware stores. (www.solarpowerdiy.info)

These homemade solar panels are just as effective and can generate a respectable amount of energy for use in your home. Some “do it yourself” kit manufactures have claimed that as much as 80% of household energy usage can be saved by using solar panels. Now, if this is true then a significant amount can be saved on your energy bill monthly. Added to this, “do it yourself” solar panels are very practical. They can be mounted on top of your RV vans to power cooker, lighting, radio, laptops and TVs if you are ever in a remote area. Just by doing a Google search myself I found these “do it yourself” kits, http://www.makepowerathome.com and http://www.earthforenergy.com. (www.solarpowerdiy.info)

The Answer is Blowing in The Wind

The next form of alternative energy that we would like to take a look at is wind power. Just as solar power the initial installations can be expensive, but eventually will provide great savings over time because wind is a free energy source. Home wind power generation can be very cost effective under the right circumstances. Though the cost effectiveness of wind power systems will mainly depend on the system’s initial cost and how much energy it produces, key to the system is also wind speed in your area. (Wilder, C)

The key to harnessing wind power is to live in a windy area. Statistics have shown that an average annual wind speed of at least 10mph (4.5 m/s) is needed in order to benefit from a wind system. (Wilder, C)

The website http://www.windpoweringamerica.gov maps wind speeds for wind power generation potential throughout the U.S. With a simple Google search you could easily locate your local wind mapping information through private or government websites.

They are two main types of wind turbines horizontal and vertical axis, the type of turbine chosen and how it is installed are also important factors. Determining which of these two are best economically would be based on your location. Of course these options comes with advantages and disadvantages. A horizontal axis turbine is good if it’s placed on a tall tower to receive the strongest and least turbulent wind possible. A vertical axis turbine is better suited for roof or ground installation as they are difficult to install on towers. Although a rooftop turbine might not produce as much power as a tower mounted turbine, they are cheaper. The reason for that is the tower is the most expensive system components. (Wilder, C)

Going Eco

There is no doubt that we are having an impact on our planet in a negative way. To address this we should be going towards a more eco-friendly life style. We can do this in many different ways from eco-farming, cost effective energy, such as solar panels and wind turbines and eco-housing to name a few. These options are good individually for beginners but are also most cost effective when combined.

The focal point should be on environmentally conscious living such as now popular eco-villages popping up around the world. Books and blogs such has ours and other materials should be produced more widely to inspire people to live greener healthier lifestyles. Moving society from conventional living to an eco-village living won’t be easy. A start we believe is to educate the public on the cost effectiveness of proper energy management, optimum utilization of renewable sources, ecological sustainability and economically viable agriculture and water management.

A key component to an eco-village or eco-lifestyle is having eco-housing. Eco-housing is the future; it is cost effective, energy efficient and environmentally friendly. Added to this we found the contractor to be a very important actor. A contractor should make vital use of eco-friendly, low maintenance; energy building materials available so as to conserve our natural resources without compromising the comfort. These days, herbal gardens, waste management, solar panels and wind turbines are as affordable as they are stylish.

When thinking about the cost effectiveness of an eco-village or lifestyle it is important not to forget about farming; farming is a necessity of sustainability. Eco-farming is the future, with techniques such as crop rotation and organic farming increase the crop yields, also it maintains the soil productivity. All this is accomplished without risking future harvests, which is very cost effective to the farmer and the community. Added incentive to local citizens is that organic farming can also be done at home. Helping them to cut the use of harmful pesticides and other harmful chemicals. (Chauhan, A)

Eco-Homes/Eco-Communities

Eco-homes have been around for a while now and have been considered to be more of luxury item for the rich. But now with government sponsored “eco-villages” such as in the UK they are now more commonplace. It’s the dream of most people to own their own home and for first homebuyers; eco-homes are only marginally more expensive than a regular home, making them more affordable to home hunters.  (Whitney, E)

Just like a regular home you have to pay for your mortgage, but an eco-home comes with its advantages. The fuel bills to be paid will be significantly less than that of a regular home. Energy prices are continually rising each year and having an eco-home is a way of curtailing the cost of gas and electric bills. Most eco-homes are also built to recycle rainwater, adding savings on your water bills. An example is the Cornwall region located in the south west of England where there are a range of eco-homes and eco- communities leading the way in low carbon living. This region along with others eco-villages across Europe are paving the way for greener and more cost effective homes for the rest of us. (Whitney, E)

References

Chauhan, A. http://ezinearticles.com/Eco-Talks-(Green-Our-Planet

Whitney, E. http://ezinearticles.com/Eco-Homes-Cornwall-Leads-the-Way

Wilder, C. http://ezinearticles.com/Is-Wind-Power-Cost-Effective-For-Homes-Systems

http://www.solarpowerdiy.info. http://solarpowerdiy.info/2011/03/do-it-yourself-solar-panels-cost-effective-green-energy-solution


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