5 New Green Gadgets on the Market

January18, 2012 by Jeff in Solar Living

CFL LightbulbAt Soluxe, we’re always excited to hear about new eco-friendly products. Here are some of the latest!

1. The World Bulb
The new World Bulb™ from Lightning Science Group is a 60-watt light bulb that provides LED power. With a suggested retail price below $15.85, it’s made to lower utility bills in a way that makes the bulb pay for itself in as little as eight months, according to an article in USA Today.
“The World Bulb gives off a clean, bright light equivalent to that of a conventional 60-watt incandescent bulb, but while using 85% less electricity,” said Jim Haworth, chairman and chief executive officer of Lightning Science Group.

2. ecoATM Kiosk
With a nationwide rollout planned in 2012, the ecoATM kiosks offer a convenient electronics trade-in solution. Made to use specialized technology and artificial intelligence to immediately buy back cell phones and MP3 players for cash or store credit, the kiosks reduce e-waste.
Almost everyone has a collection of used portable electronics stored somewhere,” said Tom Tullie, Chairman and CEO at ecoATM. “At ecoATM, we believe strongly in repurposing good electronics that can be refurbished and used by consumers in other markets.”
By the end of January, the ecoATM kiosks will offer trade-ins on not just cell phones and MP3 players but also iPads, Kindles and Nooks.

3. The Nest Learning Thermostat
Already named one of Good Housekeeping’s 2012 Very Innovative Products, the Nest Learning Thermostat has a price tag of $250 and boasts potential for enormous financial savings, possibly saving households thousands each year.
Designed to save energy and reduce heating costs, the thermostat can set a customized schedule based on your preferences and use, and it can be controlled remotely.
“Using sensors, this thermostat even detects when you’re at home — and not — and adjusts the heat and AC accordingly,” says an article in Mercury News.

4. SolarKindle
“For the past six years, SolarFocus has been dedicated to developing the most technologically advanced portable solar powered solutions for consumers,” said Dick Lu, Executive Vice President at SolarFocus.
The new SolarKindle from Solar Focus is the world’s first solar-powered e-reader cover. Priced at $80, it draws on the natural energy of the Sun to offer three months of unplugged Kindle e-reading time and 50 more hours of LED lamp use.

5. PowerTrekk
Like the SolarKindle, the PowerTrekk is an alternative power source for mobile gadgets—but rather than relying on the Sun, it’s the first ever charger to be powered by water.
“PowerTrekk has a competitive edge over traditional portable chargers,” said Bjorn Westerholm, CEO at myFC, the company behind PowerTrekk. “Fuel cell power is generated immediately and charging is not impacted by weather or the position of the sun, as for solar panels.”
When released in stores this May, the 8.5-ounce travel charger should have a price tag of $220, with 1.5-ounce fuel packs (one per use) costing $3 each.

Why Go Solar? It’s All about the Bottom Line.

January16, 2012 by Jeff in Financial News

Green BottomlineMany people today don’t realize that solar energy does more than help the planet—it helps your pocketbook. Exceptionally cost-effective over the long haul, solar energy draws on the natural power of the sun to generate energy for a home or building, typically through the addition of roof panels that can harness the power.
Consider these facts:

Solar panels lower energy costs.
Solar panels require an upfront investment that electricity does not; however, over time, those panels pay for themselves through significant energy savings. Not only does solar energy cost less than electricity, but it provides stability in a world where energy and gas rates are continually rising.
It was financial savings that recently prompted an Oregon church, St. Vincent de Paul Parish, to install solar roof panels, donated by two parishioners.
“At a minimum, [because of these panels,] the church’s annual PGE energy bill will be reduced by approximately 25 percent, or $2,500 per year,” Sue Minten, the church’s business manager, said.
Likewise, as a response to high energy costs, a school board in California is planning to invest $6.2 million in solar panels, a decision expected to save the district close to half a million dollars in the first year alone. According to the district’s superintendent Rami Muth, this solar project will mean future stability in the midst of changing budgets.

Solar panels last for decades.
Solar panels can last for as long as thirty years, throughout harsh weather conditions and amidst various changes in environment. Over that amount of time, the generated energy they create more than makes up for the initial investment. For that reason, more and more corporations are adding solar energy panels to buildings.
Take IKEA, for example, which recently announced plans to install new panels on five of its US locations, extending its solar presence to nearly 85% in America. According to Solar Novus Today, “This investment by IKEA reinforces the company’s long-term commitment to sustainability and confidence in photovoltaic (PV) technology.”

Solar panels may qualify you for various incentives.
Various tax credits, electricity buy-back programs and other incentives are available to reward solar energy use. Within each state, particular programs exist, whether sponsored by the government or private organizations—simply research your location’s credits and see if you can qualify.
What’s more, in some of the sunniest areas of the country, solar panels may actually yield so much energy that you’re able to sell the excess to an electric company for a profit. In Georgia, for example, there’s a buyback program available with the state’s largest utility company, Georgia Power, which allows eligible individuals to sell excess electricity to that company.
With solar panels, individuals and businesses have an opportunity to benefit both the planet and their own bottom line. To learn more about how solar energy can give you financial benefits, contact us at Soluxe Solar!


2012 Will Be Record-Breaking Year for Cleantech Ventures

January12, 2012 by Jeff in Financial News

2012 could be a record-setting investment year for cleantech ventures, at least according to US-based research company The Cleantech Group. In 2011, the company reported that worldwide clean technology venture and corporate investments grew by 13% to a whopping $8.99 billion, with cleantech mergers and acquisitions totaling 391 deals and $41.2 billion.

While 2011 has been a difficult year for cleantech and venture capital, our 2011 numbers show surging interest in cleantech from global enterprises,” said Sheeraz Haji, CEO of Cleantech Group.  “Despite some of the well-publicized headwinds, venture capitalists continue to invest in cleantech. Based on our historical data, we believe 2012 will be an all-time record year for global cleantech investments.”

Just a few weeks into 2012, there’s reason to believe Haji is exactly right: already there have been announcements of a new $270 million healthcare and sustainability fund from Massachusetts-based Flagship Ventures; a new £95m fund from Scottish Equity Partners, which combines nine of SSE’s cleantech ventures, with five more to follow; and a total $18.7 million of a proposed $22 million already raised by California-based AQT Solar.

“I don’t think the level of [cleantech] activity has gone down,” Flagship managing partner Noubar Afeyan told Boston.com. “I think that the level of noise has gone down. There was a time in cleantech when people were just spraying money around indiscriminately. What we’ve seen is that cleantech has turned out to be more like biotech. You need patient, flexible execution to generate reasonable companies.”

This kind of news is exciting for the world of cleantech, particularly for solar energy—and at Soluxe Solar, we’re always excited to hear about ways solar energy can spread and grow. Here’s to 2012!

Soluxe Solar Blog – Welcome!

January11, 2012 by Jeff in Soluxe News

Welcome to Soluxe Solar’s blog.  We’re pleased to help you with your transition to solar energy; we’ve helped thousands of people take charge of their energy costs over the past eleven years.  The way we see it, there’s no reason not to go solar.  PV has gone far beyond being a green option for people who are looking to live completely off the grid by giving up all luxury for a sustainable lifestyle.  Technology has advanced and price of photovoltaics has come down so significantly that it’s not an emotional decision, but a financial one.  In fact, there is no reason to NOT go solar; your money can make you more in the form of solar (at a 10% higher yield) than leaving money in the bank.  Not too shabby.  We’ll show you how we came up with that number in a future post.  We promise we didn’t just make it up!

So why did we choose to call our blog Up on the Roof?  Well, we think the roof is the final frontier in home improvement.  People are quick to redo a kitchen for shiny new granite countertops, but, quite frankly, that doesn’t add any real value to the home.  We don’t care too much about what roofs looks like.  We only fix our roof when we have to.  But there it is, basking in the sunshine, unused but for birds and weather vanes.  So we’re taking it back.  Making the roof a beautiful, functional and valuable part of the home.