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Living Green

Great ideas for living green

More Affordable Solar
Most people consider the cost of solar energy too great to try to incorporate into their home. When compared to the present price of electricity it is still more costly to convert to solar energy. Advances in solar panel construction as well as increasing prices on electricity have made solar more attractive than in the past, and current trends could shrink the cost gap further.

If you still would like to move toward solar, you could go slowly, adding modules. Solar allows for this, you can start with a battery and a small bank of photovoltaic panels, add on and eventually upgrade the battery bank to handle more power.

When looking for "cheaper" solar deals, you can go discount or used. Used panels are rare to find. A panel can last over twenty years with only a marginal loss of power. Most people don't part with them easily. The best place to look for used cells are (of course) Ebay and government auctions. You can keep in touch with local solar vendors in case they upgrade someone's system and have a few to sell.

I started with a 5 watt panel I bought in 1975, I then bought a 48 watt used panel in 1999 for about $200. By slowly saving and adding modules, I plan to eventually be able to provide a percentage of power for household use.

When looking for discount solar you can again visit Ebay, you can also watch some hardware chains, namely Pay N Save and Harbor Freight. At the time of this article Harbor Freight had on sale a "starter kit" for 45 watts for only $199. It consisted of three 15 watt panels, a simple charge regulator/power center, two 5 watt compact flourescent bulbs and frame. Although I plan on making some changes to the power center (adding automotive style power sockets), I am very happy with the deal. Keep a watchful eye out as this exact same deal can be found on Ebay, but with a little higher shipping charges.

So I say be an alert, careful shopper and slowly build your solar power array. The next black out, you may enjoy not even knowing it happened.

Courtesy The New Horizons Journal; Online magazine and more. Visit us!
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Cleaning Up Green
J. Fulkerson
One way to save money, and to help the environment, is to make your own household cleaners. You probably already have the products at home!
Never mix products containing chlorine bleach and ammonia, or chlorine bleach and a strong acid

Some ground rules with at home chemistry sets:
  • Make as much as you need, if you do need to store it, label it well, what it is, what is in it.
  • Only mix ingredients as directed by a reputable source. Avoid recipes with hazardous ingredients such as bleach, ammonia, alcohols, turpentine, etc.
  • Never mix products containing chlorine bleach and ammonia, or chlorine bleach and a strong acid
  •  Keep all cleaning products out of reach of children.
  • If a homemade cleaner is so ineffective that you need to use very large amounts to do a job, consider discontinuing its use. Extremely ineffective products waste resources and may actually be more polluting than commercial products.

Household Cleaner


All-Purpose Cleaner

  • 1/2 cup vinegar
  • 1/4 cup baking soda
  • 1/2 gallon water

Mix ingredients above to store and keep.

Toilet Bowl Cleaner

  • 1/4 cup baking soda
  • 1 cup vinegar

Mix ingredients above. Pour into basin and allow to set for three minutes. Scrub with brush and rinse.

Rust Remover

  • 1 lime
  • Salt

Sprinkle a little salt on the rust. Squeeze a lime over the salt until it is well soaked. Let the mixture set for two to three hours. Use the leftover rind to scrub the residue.

Glass Cleaner

  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 quart warm water

Mix ingredients above. Pour into a spray bottle or apply with a sponge. For lint-free results, wipe dry with crumpled newspaper instead of paper towels. Buff to a shine.

Furniture Polish

  • 1 lemon
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon water

Extract the juice from the lemon. Mix with oil and water. Apply a thin coat to the wood surface and let set for five minutes. Use a soft cloth to buff to a deep shine.

Tub Cleaner
  • 2 teaspoons Borax
  • 4 tablespoons of distilled white vinegar
  • 3-4 cups hot water
Mix and pour the mixture into a refillable spray bottle. For stronger cleaning power, add 1/4 teaspoon of liquid soap.
DisinfectantSpray area with 3-5% solution of hydrogen peroxide (available at your local drugstore) and follow with a spray of acetic acid (vinegar). Order of sprays can be reversed and will still be effective. Can even be used on vegetables prior to cooking.

Courtesy The New Horizons Journal; Online magazine and more. Visit us!
Webmaster, Free Content for YOUR website.

Thank you for living green.