Residential solar energy companies are helping more and more homeowners upgrade their properties to clean energy sources. Solar energy companies can equip you with the technology you need to harness the amazing power of the sun and reduce your need for fossil fuels. In this article, we'll review some of the most trustworthy providers and installers of solar power.
Our Picks for the Best Solar Companies
The first step in the process is researching some of the top companies in the solar industry. Here are the ones that stood out in our research.
Each product featured here has been independently selected by the writer. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.
How We Chose the Best Solar Energy Companies
How did we determine which solar power companies to recommend?
To begin with, we took a deep dive into each company's offerings, assessing them for the following criteria:
- Range of services offered
- Pricing/affordability and financing options
- Extent of service area
- Solar panel efficiency
- Temperature coefficient (e.g., how much high temperatures affect efficiency)
Additionally, we weighed membership and certification by professional associations like the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). Affiliation with these groups is a good indicator that a solar energy company is reputable, and that their work is up to the highest standards within the industry.
The Best Solar Energy Companies
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With these criteria in mind, consider our picks for the best solar panel providers and installers in the industry.
If you're looking for a company that can walk you through the process of upgrading to solar power for an easy and convenient experience, look no further than to SunPower. The company offers:
- A "design studio" app, allowing you to safely and seamlessly design your own solar power system so that you can see a visual of what the finished product will look like once installed.
- Online calculators that make it easy for you to determine about how much electricity you will save once you upgrade to solar panels.
- Virtual consultations, allowing you to chat one-on-one with a solar power expert and to ask any questions you might have.
SunPower offers leading solar panels and energy storage technology to homeowners across dozens of states. And, they are also the preferred solar partner of many major businesses, including Walmart, FedEx, and Lowes.
Why buy: SunPower is a reliable solar energy company with an impressive tech portfolio and an extremely easy, intuitive process.
Upgrading to solar power can seem a little intimidating, but SunRun is out to bring simplicity. Their approach makes it extremely straightforward to select a custom solar energy plan for your household. Here's what to know about SunRun:
- They offer virtual consultations with solar energy experts, making it simple to explore your options and determine which solar set-up is right for your home energy needs.
- Each system they design is completely customized to address the customer's needs. SunRun doesn't do "one size fits all" solar equipment options.
- Their guarantee, the best in the industry, offers extraordinary peace of mind that your solar system will prove durable and reliable.
- SunRun also leads in terms of flexible financing options, making solar power accessible and affordable.
Why buy: With SunRun, the name of the game is customization. This is one of the best solar installation companies to turn to for solar power solutions that are truly made with you in mind.
You probably associate Tesla with their electric vehicles, but did you know that the company also produces high-efficiency solar panels? Depending on your needs and your budget, Tesla can hook you up with an array of solar panels or even a solar roof, making it easy to cut electricity costs and power your home via the sun's vital energy.
Some fast facts about choosing solar power from Tesla:
- They offer a price match guarantee and affordable financing options.
- Their advanced solar panel technology offers a low profile, a sleek style, and long-term durability.
- Home battery backups allow you to save solar power and then access it on demand, whenever you need it.
Why buy: Tesla offers sophisticated solar products for what the company claims is the lowest price of any national provider, which they back with a price-match guarantee. Plus, all of their solar panels come with a solid 25-year performance guarantee.
LG is another well-known tech company that is also a leader in solar energy. Some of their solar panels use a bifacial solar module that captures energy from two directions to increase their efficiency. While they are a solar panel manufacturer, they can also help you with the installation process by finding an LG Pro installer in your area.
- They offer an online "solar concierge" service that allows you to evaluate your home energy needs and to compare different options for going solar.
- LG offers a 25-year warranty, not only on their technology but also on the work their of their solar installers.
- They offer a range of solar panels and supporting products, and they supply you with plenty of information to make a fully informed choice.
Why buy: LG is a company that knows technological innovation. Their award-winning solar energy products are reliably efficient, well-priced, and designed for maximum efficiency.
Panasonic has one of the most impressive tech portfolios in the solar energy industry. Their products boast some of the highest conversion efficiency rates, along with the lowest degradation rates. And they back everything with a generous warranty.
Some additional reasons to choose Panasonic:
- They offer a range of solar panels to choose from. With Panasonic, you'll find that you have plenty of options.
- They also provide a lot of great online support and consumer education, ensuring you'll get the most out of your solar technology.
Why buy: Panasonic is a solar panel company with products that are tough to beat. Both their pricing and warranties are very appealing, and their HIT high-performance solar panels offer some of the best power conversion rates of any product.
Vivint is a company that offers a full spectrum of services, including solar power consultation, design, and installation. A few reasons why homeowners trust their solar power needs to the Vivint team:
- Everything Vivint does is customized. They tailor everything to fit your roof and to help you achieve your home energy goals.
- They make the entire process simple, handling all of the little details for you. This includes securing permits, filing the right paperwork, etc.
- They emphasize safety, using only the highest caliber of solar panels and backing everything with a world-class warranty.
Why buy: Vivint is noteworthy for their focus on customization, their commitment to safety, and their one-stop-shop solar power solutions. In addition to solar panel installation, they also offer other specialized technology, including solar-powered electric vehicle chargers.
Enphase is another company that stands out, both for their robust technology as well as for their commitment to customization. Their microinverter technology makes their solar system safer by reducing the likelihood of arc fault fires.
- They design their solar technology with safety in mind, including fire safeguards that other companies can't match.
- Their solar panels are built for durability and can hold up even through the most extreme kinds of weather.
- Enphase uses smart technology to update itself; all you need to do is connect it to your home Internet.
- They also have one of the best apps in the solar industry, making it simple to monitor your home energy use.
Why buy: Enphase is a company of innovators, and their solar portfolio has a lot to offer. Their system is also modular, meaning you can easily add more panels to your system as you need them.
This solar power provider has won recognition not just for their excellent technology, but also for their sincere commitment to sustainability and to ecological stewardship. And don't let the name throw you off: Though Canadian Solar is based in Canada, they provide solar power solutions in the U.S. and other countries.
Some additional facts about Canadian Solar:
- They offer a wide range of products, from energy converters to storage solutions.
- Their solar panels boast exceedingly high energy efficiency rates.
- Canadian Solar has won a number of awards for its first-class innovations, and one of their products even set a world record for conversion efficiency in 2020.
Why buy: This company has a proven track record of technological excellence, plus a real commitment to ecological stewardship. They also closely monitor their supply chain to ensure that no goods or materials used in their products come from prohibited forms of labor.
First Solar boasts an impressive track record of advocacy for solar power and for renewable energy sources. And, thankfully, they back their advocacy with some excellent solar technologies.
A few reasons to choose First Solar solar panels:
- Their technology offers an outstanding temperature coefficient, meaning they won't lose performance during high temperatures.
- Their solar cells are among the most reliable and most efficient in the clean energy sector.
- First Solar also offers a lot of post-purchase, post-installation help, as needed.
Why buy: First Solar is a great option for anyone who's serious about renewable energy, and who wants the best performance from their solar panels.
The biggest drawback to Go Solar is that, right now, their work is limited to just a few states. But if you happen to live in that part of the country, you're in luck. Go Solar's panels are uniquely calibrated to take advantage of the western region's abundant sunlight. Some additional reasons to pick Go Solar include:
- They offer free home solar assessments.
- They custom-design solar systems to meet the needs of your home.
- They have some of the most trusted installers in the solar power industry.
Why buy: For solar solutions that are tailored to the climate of the American West, definitely consider Go Solar. Plus, with their Give Solar International partnership, they give an equivalent solar panel system to a family in Uganda for each system sold.
How Does a Solar Energy System Work?
As you explore the different options for embracing solar power, it may be helpful to have a baseline understanding of how solar energy systems actually function.
Generally speaking, solar energy systems involve solar panels installed on your roof. These panels absorb the sun's energy, storing it in what are known as photovoltaic cells. These cells convert the solar energy into direct current (DC) energy, then use an inverter to convert that DC energy into alternate current (AC) electricity. AC electricity is what you need to power all your home appliances.
It's important to note that, before you purchase solar panels, it's worthwhile to meet with a solar energy consultant who can tell you more about how many panels your home will require, and also to let you know how those panels should be ideally positioned on the roof.
One more note: If you're concerned about the affordability of solar power, it's important to remember that most solar energy companies provide a host of options, including flexible financing and solar lease options for a system rather than purchase it outright. As you talk with different solar energy companies, don't hesitate to inquire about these leasing and financing options.
Benefits of Solar Energy
Installing solar panels on your home can yield a number of benefits. Here are just a few examples.
One of the main reasons why homeowners choose to install solar cells is that it allows them to truly embrace clean energy sources. Rather than depend on fossil fuels and power plants, you can power your home with renewable energy that comes straight from the sun. This can be a highly effective way to minimize your environmental footprint.
Solar Tax Credits and Rebates
There are a number of ways in which choosing renewable energy can save you money, starting with the fact that there are so many rebates and tax credits available. Essentially, both the federal government and many state governments want to encourage people to "go green" as much as possible, and they will make it worth your while by allowing you to claim these important tax incentives. Some utility companies also offer rebates that can help pay for the upfront costs of solar projects.
Lower Electricity Bills
Of course, embracing solar power will also help you save money by slashing your electricity bills. Most solar energy companies offer online calculators that allow you to see for yourself how much money you'll save over time, simply by changing to a renewable energy source. There is also an option called a power purchase agreement (PPA) that can allow you to host a solar or renewable energy system from a utility provider in exchange for lowered energy rates. If your solar panel system generates excess energy, the utility will then purchase that energy from you in the form of a net metering credit on your bill.
Make a Smart Choice About Solar Power
There are obviously a lot of perks to choosing solar energy for your home. And yet, it can also be a rather daunting process, simply because there are so many solar energy companies to choose from.
Using our guidelines and rankings, start doing your due diligence, seeking the solar power company that's right for you. Remember to look for a company that's well-regarded within the industry and get a consultation before you buy. Always be sure to ask some direct questions about the financing options that are available to you.
Josh Hurst is a journalist, critic, and essayist. He lives in Knoxville, TN, with his wife and three sons. He covers natural health, nutrition, supplements, and clean energy. His writing has appeared in Health, Shape, and Remedy Review.
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More and more homeowners in Raleigh, NC, have embraced renewable energy like solar power. This popular option allows residents to fuel their homes cleanly and effectively, minimizing their home's environmental footprint while lowering their monthly utility bills. What are the best solar companies in Raleigh, NC? We'll show you the top options, plus provide important information on solar panel systems, federal tax credits, and more.
If you're looking to adopt solar energy in Raleigh, North Carolina, one of the first steps in the process is to find the best renewable energy company. Thankfully, there are a number of excellent solar power providers throughout the area. They can provide the expertise and reliable technology you need to upgrade your home and truly take advantage of solar energy systems.
Our Picks for the Best Solar Energy Companies in Raleigh
Each product featured here has been independently selected by the writer. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.
- 8M Solar
- NC Solar Now
- Sunpro Solar
- Blue Raven Solar
- Renu Energy Solutions
- Emerald Energy
- Covenant Solar Tech
- Yes Solar Solutions
- Sun Dollar Energy
- Duke Energy
How We Chose the Best Solar Companies in Raleigh
In order to create a list of the best solar power installers in Raleigh, North Carolina, we compared each company on a number of important categories. Our picks for Raleigh's best solar energy companies are based on the following:
- Coverage area. Some companies offer wider, more consistent coverage areas than others. We sought to include companies that make solar power readily available to both Raleigh and nearby areas like Durham and Cary.
- Services. We also ranked Raleigh's local solar providers on how many total services they offer. For instance, how much help do they offer in terms of consultation, solar system design, and installation?
- Installation process. We also evaluated local solar energy providers on the basis of whether they can install your new solar panels. Do they send an installation team to your home, or do you have to contract with a separate installation company?
- Pricing and financing. As you look for the best solar company in Raleigh, you'll definitely need to think about your budget. We've tried to evaluate companies on the basis of affordability and flexible financing options.
- Panel efficiency. Solar panels can vary quite a bit in terms of how much sunlight they absorb, and how efficiently they convert that solar energy to a usable AC stream. We've selected local companies that offer exemplary technology with the highest solar panel energy efficiency.
- Rebates. Along with flexible financing options, some solar installers make it easy for you to claim clean energy rebates, another useful way to offset your total energy cost.
- Warranty. When investing in a significant piece of technology, such as a solar panel system, it makes sense to seek some consumer protections. A good warranty can offer ample peace of mind.
- Professional affiliation. We looked for companies endorsed or certified by leading professional organizations. These include the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP), the Better Business Bureau (BBB), and more. This is one of the easiest ways to evaluate a solar company's reputation.
With these factors in mind, we're now ready to take a look at a few of the most highly recommended solar power and renewable energy companies in Raleigh, North Carolina.
The Best Solar Energy Companies in Raleigh, NC
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Based in Wake Forest, 8M Solar is one of the best-rated clean energy companies in North Carolina. Their services are NABCEP-certified, they are SolarEdge and Tesla certified installers, and they are endorsed by Duke Energy. The owners are directly involved in all aspects of solar panel system design to provide hands-on expertise, and their panels come with generous 25-year warranties.
Why buy: Simply put, 8M Solar is one of the best companies to choose if you're looking for a straightforward way to go green and decrease monthly utility costs. The company claims that their rates are, on average, 10 percent lower than their competitors. Formidable expertise, best-in-class technology, robust warranties, and affordable pricing make 8M Solar a top choice.
Since 2010, NC Solar Now has been a dependable clean energy partner to homeowners throughout the state. Their company is built around a vision for sustainability and ensuring that all families have access to affordable energy. The company is a member of the NC Sustainable Energy Association (NCSEA), the NC Clean Technology Center (NCCTC), is endorsed by Duke Energy, and was chosen as one of the top 20 solar contractors in the US by General Contractor Magazine.
Why buy: NC Solar Now is a great all-around option for anyone looking to embrace the promise of clean solar power. They are locally owned and operated, they offer flexible pricing for both residential and commercial properties, and they can help you take advantage of all available solar incentives and rebates.
Sunpro is a nationally known and NABCEP-certified company. They offer cost-effective pricing and leading rooftop solar technology that allows you to save big bucks on your home utility bills. SunPro takes a lot of pride in having first-class customer service and their team is also available to help you claim clean energy tax incentives.
Why buy: Sunpro is one of the most-trusted solar energy installers in the country, and even ranked #5 on Solar Power World's 2020 list of the Top Residential Solar Installers in the U.S. They handle everything from design to installation, and offer 25-year guarantees on labor and equipment.
Blue Raven Solar is one of the fastest-growing solar companies in the country, operating in a number of states throughout the Southeast and beyond. They're passionate about helping homeowners save money on their electricity bills, and that's allowed them to become a clean energy provider of choice in the Raleigh-Durham area, as well as Asheville, Charlotte, and Greensboro.
Why buy: Blue Raven Solar offers a truly comprehensive solar energy service, including surveying, solar panel system design, installation, and more. The company also offers highly competitive pricing and excellent financing options (including $0 down), and has received rave reviews from their customers as one of the most trusted solar energy companies around.
Based in Charlotte, Renu Energy Solutions provides dependable solar energy services to homeowners throughout the state. Since 2010, this locally-owned and operated company has been one of the Charlotte area's trusted names in solar energy. They offer free solar assessments, along with plenty of assistance finding flexible financing solutions.
Why buy: This is another great example of a local business with world-class solar expertise. Choose them for friendly service, competitive pricing, and high-quality tech. Plus, Renu offers manufacturer's warranties of up to 25 years (depending on the specific solar panels you choose).
Emerald Energy is a Raleigh-based contracting company best known for offering design, consulting and installation for solar energy solutions. They offer zero money down and no interest financing on systems, and can help you take advantage of the many solar rebates and incentives that are offered in North Carolina.
Why buy: For a fully-licensed local contractor with real clean energy bona fides, Emerald Energy is one of the best companies you'll find. Their in-house system design and installation services can help you enjoy cleaner electricity, energy independence, and lowered utility bills.
Covenant Solar Tech is locally owned and operated in Raleigh, North Carolina. They deliver a full spectrum of services, including consultation, design, installation, financing, and beyond. For those exploring solar energy options, they offer free solar estimates, and boast some truly outstanding customer reviews.
Why buy: Covenant Solar Tech offers expert installation with friendly, personable customer service. They are one of the best local Raleigh companies in the solar energy game. Their solar energy expertise and experience was also recently enhanced by the company's purchase of Sun Dollar Energy.
Yes Solar Solutions is a terrific clean energy company located in Cary, NC. Their installers proudly service residents of Raleigh and the surrounding area. The company has been around since 2009, and in that time they've helped more than 1,000 homeowners go solar. They are a certified installer for Tesla solar equipment, offer free assessments and various financing options.
Why buy: Yes Solar Solutions is NABCEP accredited and has a long history, an impressive track record, and plenty of ways to help you cut energy costs. Reviews of the company attest to their excellent customer service in helping people go solar.
Sun Dollar Energy started a family-owned solar power contractor serving homeowners throughout North Carolina. The small solar company with local roots offered a personalized experience for customers. In January 2021, the company was purchased by Covenant Solar Tech, but will still provide the same reliable service under the Sun Dollar Energy name.
Why buy: Sun Dollar Energy powered by Covenant Solar Tech is your best bet for a truly homegrown, local solar energy provider. They offer years of experience and their licensed, NABCEP-certified installers helped them become a leading provider in the area, with positive customer reviews for their easy installation process.
Duke Energy might not be the first name you think of for this list, but they provide a wide range of solar energy solutions across the Raleigh area. Not only does Duke Energy provide solar rebates worth up to $6,000, they also offer services like net metering that can help offset your electric bill with the energy from your solar energy system.
Why buy: Duke Energy has made some admirable commitments to renewable energy in recent years. With programs like NC Shared Solar, the company allows you to support solar energy generation and development each month even if you can't install solar panels on your own home, making solar energy more accessible.
What Types of Solar Energy are Available in Raleigh, NC?
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As you consider your options for solar energy in the Raleigh area, it's important to note that different companies provide varied kinds of access to the sun's energy.
For instance, most of the companies on our list are truly solar installers, which means they can help you upgrade your home with solar panels and batteries, allowing you to directly absorb the sun's rays, convert it to electricity, and use that electricity to power your home.
But a few companies, like Duke Energy, do something a little different: They essentially allow you to choose a plan where you get solar power straight from Duke's solar energy facilities as part of your home's energy, but also use regular electrical power when necessary.
Make sure you understand these different models as you seek the right solar power provider for your home.
How Does Solar Panel Installation Work?
It is also helpful to know more about the process of having solar panels installed on your home.
Usually, the process begins with an energy audit. A certified installer will arrive at your home, assess your energy needs, and also evaluate how much sun exposure you get. They will then recommend the number of panels that need to be installed on your roof, as well as the ideal locations for those panels.
Once installed, these solar panels draw energy from the sun and store it in a battery. This solar power is then converted to AC power, using a component known as an inverter, which can then power all your home appliances and devices.
If you have any specific questions about the installation process, it's usually best to go straight to your installer. Note that while the initial investment in equipment can be steep, that's usually it in terms of overall solar expense: the sun's energy is free, and you won't need to invest in any further fuel sources.
Choose the Best Rooftop Solar Company in Raleigh
There are countless reasons for Raleigh homeowners to embrace clean energy: it's a great way to minimize your environmental impact; it can lower your household energy expenses; and you can take advantage of the many rebates and tax advantages offered in the state.
As you consider different players within the solar industry, choose wisely, starting with some of the recommendations we've offered here. These are renewable energy companies that have solid reputations and proven track records of solar energy service.
Josh Hurst is a journalist, critic, and essayist. He lives in Knoxville, TN, with his wife and three sons. He covers natural health, nutrition, supplements, and clean energy. His writing has appeared in Health, Shape, and Remedy Review.
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Your body's immune system is the natural, front line defense to protect you against harmful pathogens and infections. You can boost the effectiveness of your immune system through diet and exercise, but did you know that certain vitamin subscriptions and supplements can aid your immune system and promote general wellness? You can even take certain probiotics to help boost your immune system. Here are our recommendations of the top supplements to help boost your immune system.
What is the Immune System?
There are two main aspects to the immune system: the innate and the adaptive immune system. The innate immune system is one you are born with, and it is the body's rapid response system. It works to attack antigens or invaders in the body. The adaptive or acquired immune system builds antibodies to protect your body from certain microbes, or germs, it encounters in the environment.
Did you know that your immune system keeps track of each germ it has ever defeated? This way, if your body encounters a germ it has fought in its immune system before, it can recognize and protect your body from it more effectively.
Your immune system's memory of the germs it encounters is stored in white blood cells. The white blood cells move through the blood and tissue in your body and attack harmful invaders such as viruses and bacteria.
Fortunately, you can support and improve the effectiveness of your immune system by maintaining a healthy diet, exercising regularly, drinking alcohol in moderation, and getting a proper amount of sleep. Taking melatonin can help you get better sleep, which will in turn support immune health.
Your skin also plays a role in your immune system, and you can take certain vitamins and supplements for dry skin to help it stay hydrated and healthy. Additionally, the microbiome found in your digestive system is important to proper immune function. Probiotics and digestive enzymes can both help improve your digestion and boost your immune system.
Our Top 5 Supplements to Boost Immune Health
Each product featured here has been independently selected by the writer. You can learn more about our review methodology here. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.
- Best Overall - Nested Naturals Elderberry Gummies
- Best Vitamin Bites for Immune Health - GEM Immunity Support
- Best Probiotic for Immune Health - Care/of Pocket Protector
- Best Gummies for Immune Health - Bulletproof Immune Gummies
- Best Immune Spray - Beekeeper's Naturals B.Immune Throat Spray
- Best for Vitamin C - NutraOne Immune One
- Best Zinc Supplement - Global Healing Liquid Zinc
- Best Herbal Option- Vital Plan Daily Herbal Supplement
Vitamins and Minerals that Support the Immune System
It's no secret that certain vitamins and supplements can aid your immune system to fight off potentially harmful infections. Here are some that stand out.
- Elderberry: There are around 30 different types of elder plants and trees globally. Sambucus nigra is the type that helps with healing and immune health. Elderberry consists of many vitamins and antioxidants.
- Vitamin C: Your body doesn't naturally produce Vitamin C. However, it has proven to have immense health benefits. Vitamin C helps the immune system's white blood cell production.
- Zinc: This supplement helps produce new immune system cells in your body.
- Vitamin D: Vitamin D helps to regulate the body's immune system.
- Vitamin E: This antioxidant is fat-soluble and helps protect cells from harmful 'free radicals' which are unstable atoms that can cause damage to cells; this response can lead to illness.
- Reishi mushrooms: There are three molecules in reishi mushrooms that are responsible for their health effects: triterpenoids, polysaccharides, and peptidoglycans. Studies have found that reishi mushrooms may be able to change the inflammation pathways in white blood cells.
Best Overall: Nested Naturals Elderberry Gummies
These Nested Naturals Elderberry gummies include a vegan blend of vitamin C and Zinc to ensure thriving immune health. The blend of elderberry extract, vitamin C, and zinc can also provide wellness during travel and during the change of seasons.Why buy: We like these Elderberry gummies because they contain around 100 mg of elderberry extract per gummy, and are vegan, gluten-free, and go through a four-part lab testing process. They also taste great and contain less than a gram of sugar each.
Best Vitamin Bites for Immune Health: GEM Immunity Support
GEM Immunity Essentials daily vitamin bites are an easy and delicious way to help boost your immune system. Each vitamin bite is made with real food ingredients including turmeric, pumpkin seeds, black pepper, chicory root, ginger root, stone fruit, oranges, and lemons.
Why buy: We love that these GEM vitamin chews provide a complete immune-boosting vitamin profile from natural, plant-based ingredients. GEM also offers a sustainable subscription model that sends you a reusable tin with your first order and refills in compostable pouches.
Best Probiotic for Immune Health: Care/of Pocket Protector
Care/of Pocket Protector is a travel-ready probiotic powder that allows you to boost your immune system anywhere, anytime. It contains 3 billion CFUs of good bacteria strains for your gut to help support proper immune system functioning.
Why buy: We like that this probiotic powder is designed for on-the-go immune support, and that it comes in a red berry flavor. This immune-boosting probiotic powder is also non-GMO, gluten-free, and vegetarian.
Best Gummies for Immune Health: Bulletproof Immune Gummies
If you don't like swallowing pills or powders, try these Bulletproof Immune Gummies instead. They contain key nutrients like vitamin C, zinc, elderberry extract, and echinacea extract to support your immune system in a sugar-free Raspberry and Elderberry flavor.
Why buy: We like that these vitamin gummies for immune support contain high concentrations of vitamin C and zinc. They are also vegan and sugar-free, with only 5 calories per gummy, but taste great from natural flavors and stevia-leaf extract.
Best Immune Spray: Beekeeper's Naturals B.Immune Throat Spray
A unique way to boost your immune system, Beekeeper's Naturals B.Immune Throat Spray harnesses the power of bee propolis extract. This is a substance bees make out of tree and plant resins to help protect their hive from germs and infections, and it contains over 300 different nutrients, antioxidants, and minerals.
Why buy: We like that this spray offers a fast and natural way to help enhance your immune system. You can also use it to soothe a sore throat. It's made from all-natural ingredients and is certified keto and paleo-friendly.
Best for Vitamin C: NutraOne ImmuneOne
5 Star Nutrition has an array of quality vitamins, minerals, and supplements. For immune health, we recommend the ImmuneOne supplement. It's formulated with vitamin C, elderberry, and echinacea to help improve overall wellness, with the added benefit of supporting lung health.Why buy: ImmuneOne includes 1000 mg of vitamin C, as well as elderberry, Zinc, and vitamin A. We like that this supplement is made with natural ingredients like cinnamon, echinacea, and ginseng, without any artificial additives.
Best Zinc Supplement: Global Healing Liquid Zinc
Every cell in your body uses Zinc, and it's an effective mineral to boost your immune system. It also helps the digestive system, and even encourages cell growth. Zinc is also great for skin complexion, sexual health, and supporting normal blood sugar.
Why buy: Global Healing Plant-Based Zinc is vegan, certified USDA organic, gluten-free, and is not tested on animals. We like that this Zinc is plant based and all natural. The Zinc is extracted from organic guava leaves, and comes with a one-year money-back guarantee.
Best Herbal Option: Vital Plan Daily Herbal
The Daily Herbal blend by Vital Plan is a unique herbal supplement created by Dr. Bill Rawls. His formula "works at the cellular level to address the modern-day stress factors associated with accelerated aging." The blend includes medicinal mushrooms, as well as Rhodiola and Turmeric extract.Why buy: Daily Herbal includes five adaptogenic ingredients designed to support cell resilience, immune response, and microbiome balance. It can also boost energy and endurance because of the Rhodiola extract. The product is gluten and dairy free, and is also tested at a third-party lab for ingredient purity verification.
How to Choose an Immune Supplement or Multivitamin
There are a few key aspects to look out for when shopping for immune supplements. Below is a list of what to look for when shopping for a supplement to help boost your immune system.
What to Look For
When comparing different brands of immune supplements, look for these things before you buy.
Clinical Research: Many immune supplements will inform you if they're clinically researched formulas, or formulated by doctors.
Transparency: Some supplement brands list all of the vitamins and minerals they use in the formula of their supplement. It's important to know exactly what you're ingesting, and where it came from.
Lab Testing: To guarantee what you're consuming is pure, and safe, look too see if a brand had their product tested at a third-party lab.
Non-Artificial Ingredients: Immune supplements with natural, non-artificial ingredients that are plant-derived or organic are always a good choice. If the brand uses animal products, check to see that they are sourced ethically and sustainably.
How to Read Labels
When reading the label of your supplement, be sure to notice the serving size. Oftentimes, the recommended serving size for a supplement is larger than simply taking one capsule or multivitamin. Some labels will specify the best time of day to take the supplement as well. Also take note of the ingredient list, and how much of the recommended daily intake it fulfills for certain vitamins and nutrients
It's also important to double check that the supplement was tested in a third-party lab for safety and quality. Note if the supplement is non-GMO, vegan, or gluten free. Many supplements will also tell you if it is free from certain allergens like soy and dairy.
Safety & Side Effects
Ingesting the right oral immune boosting supplements may be beneficial to your overall health. However, there are a few minor side effects to be aware of. Some common side effects of immune boosting supplements may include:
- Intense abdominal pain
Other, infrequent side effects may include:
- Pain in arms or legs
- Chest pain
- Abdominal bloating
Sometimes, when certain vitamins are ingested without food can cause stomach pain. Be sure to read the label to see if you should take an immune supplement with food and to be sure that you do not take more than the recommended amount. Most side effects from vitamin supplements are a result of taking too much at one time.
Certain vitamin and mineral supplements can interact with prescription medications. If you take prescription medicines, or are undergoing prescribed treatment for a condition, consult with your doctor before taking any additional supplements.
There are number of ways to help boost wellness and support a healthy immune system, and adding an extra immune-boosting supplement may help. Use our guide to find the best multivitamin or supplement to boost your immune system, and learn whether or not you should consider a supplement for immune health.
Audrey Nakagawa is a writer at EcoWatch. She is a senior at James Madison University studying Media, Art, and Design, with a concentration in journalism. She's a reporter for The Breeze in the culture section and writes features on Harrisonburg artists, album reviews, and topics related to mental health and the environment. She was also a contributor for Virginia Reports where she reported on the impact that COVID-19 had on college students.
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By James W. Hurrell, Ambuj D Sagar and Marion Hourdequin
A new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine tackles a controversial question: Is solar geoengineering – an approach designed to cool Earth by reflecting sunlight back into space or modifying clouds – a potential tool for countering climate change?
The report, produced by a committee of 16 experts from diverse fields, does not take a position but concludes that the concept should be studied. It calls for creating a multidisciplinary research program, in coordination with other countries and managed by the U.S. Global Change Research Program, that seeks to fill in the many knowledge gaps on this issue.
The study emphasizes that such research is not a substitute for cutting greenhouse gas emissions and should be a minor part of the U.S. response to climate change. It notes that "engineering the climate" would not address the root cause of climate change – greenhouse gas emissions from human activities. And it calls for a research program that draws on physical science, social science and ethics and includes public input.
These perspectives from three members of the study committee underline the complexity of this issue.
Three Options, Many Questions
James W. Hurrell, professor and Scott Presidential Chair of Environmental Science and Engineering, Colorado State University
Solar geoengineering strategies are very controversial within and beyond the climate science community. It is a major step forward to have 16 experts from different disciplines agree that now is the time to establish a research program on this topic. Our committee traveled a long road to reach this recommendation, working through many complex and contentious issues to reach consensus, but we did it collegially and productively. Each of us learned a great deal.
The three options we considered raise many questions:
Stratospheric aerosol injection would increase the number of small reflective particles (aerosols) in the upper atmosphere to increase reflection of sunlight back into space. While strong evidence exists that this approach can induce cooling at a global scale, there is limited understanding of how cooling potential relates to the amounts of injected aerosols, their location and type, and the ensuing regional climate responses and impacts.
Marine cloud brightening would add materials to low clouds over the ocean to make them more reflective. Water vapor in clouds condenses into droplets when it comes into contact with particles, such as salt; adding particles produces more droplets, making the clouds more reflective.
Where and by how much the brightness of clouds can be modified, and whether feedback processes will mask or amplify some of the effects, are important research questions. Key processes occur at scales too small to include directly into the current generation of global climate models, and these process uncertainties will need to be reduced in order to develop reliable projections of climate impacts.
Cirrus cloud thinning would seek to reduce the formation of wispy, thin clouds that retain heat radiating upward from Earth's surface. The efficacy of this approach is unknown because of very limited understanding of cirrus cloud properties and the microphysical processes determining how cirrus clouds may be altered. Existing climate model simulations have yielded contradictory results.
Given the risks of rapid warming and its impacts, it is important to consider a portfolio of response options, and to understand as quickly and efficiently as possible whether solar geoengineering could be a reasonably safe and effective option. A transdisciplinary, coordinated and well-governed research program might prove that more investment is warranted. Or it could indicate that solar geoengineering should not be considered further. The key point is that either outcome will be guided by sound science.
The new report examines three solar geoengineering options: stratospheric aerosol injection, marine cloud brightening and cirrus cloud thinning. NAS
A Thoughtful and Inclusive Process
Ambuj D. Sagar, founding head, School of Public Policy, and professor of policy studies, The Indian Institute of Technology Delhi
Few climate issues are as polarizing as solar geoengineering, and for good reason. To many, even considering it could dilute efforts to cut emissions. It also reinforces the notion that as a society we are willing to place our faith in technology to solve our self-inflicted problems.
But refusing to engage with solar geoengineering also raises questions. Can we be sure that we won't need it in the future? What if greenhouse warming generates horrendous climate impacts? And if it turns out that solar geoengineering is not technically feasible or socially acceptable, should we not learn that now?
This report recognizes that there is value in understanding more about the feasibility, acceptance, risks, ethics and governance of solar geoengineering to inform decision-making. But it also calls for a measured, nuanced and integrative approach. And it makes the point that exploring solar geoengineering should not compromise research or action on climate mitigation and adaptation.
Public engagement and participation, and insights from various disciplines, are key to carrying out effective research on solar geoengineering. At the same time, suitable expertise and institutional arrangements are needed to engage better with this complex topic. We need to understand how to effectively enhance such participation and strengthen such capacity.
Paying attention to these issues will open the door to including perspectives and researchers from the global south and other communities that often are marginalized. It also will help make the research agenda more robust and help people better understand potential risks around the world from solar geoengineering. A strong and inclusive research program should also fully involve developing countries and other relevant communities in exploring governance models for solar geoengineering.
Our panel recommended that the proposed U.S. research program be carried out in coordination with other countries. We hope this approach will spur deeper engagement worldwide, especially by developing countries that need to be part of global conversations and decisions on this issue.
Overall, I hope that perspectives and approaches presented in this report will catalyze a thoughtful and socially robust research program and equally thoughtful deliberations by scholars, policymakers and citizens on this thorny topic.
The 1991 eruption of Mt. Pinatubo in the Philippines injected into Earth's stratosphere vast quantities of aerosol particles, which scattered and reflected sunlight, reducing Earth's average global temperature by about 1 degree Fahrenheit over the next 15 months. Afterward, however, temperatures resumed rising. Richard Hoblitt / USGS
Broadening the Discussion
Marion Hourdequin, professor of philosophy, Colorado College
Geoengineering evolved from a fringe concept to a serious research topic less than 20 years ago, and today solar geoengineering technologies are largely in the idea stage. Computer modeling simulations and natural analogs such as volcanoes indicate that adding reflective aerosols to the stratosphere or increasing the "brightness" of marine clouds could have cooling effects. However, there are risks and uncertainties associated with these approaches, and the potential benefits – which may not be evenly distributed around the globe – are not well understood.
For example, scientists know very little about the regional effects of different solar geoengineering strategies. And researchers are just starting to explore the ecological, social, political, economic and ethical dimensions of these approaches.
What's more, many people in the U.S. and the world are unaware that research is moving forward and outdoor experiments have been proposed. So far, discussions about solar geoengineering have been concentrated among a relatively small group of researchers, primarily from North America and Europe.
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But like climate change itself, solar geoengineering would affect everyone. The technologies that our committee considered would have global and multigenerational effects. With this in mind, now is the time for broader and more inclusive conversations about how solar geoengineering should be studied and governed – and whether or not it should be seriously considered. These conversations need to include climate-vulnerable communities, Indigenous peoples and nations of the global south.
Our committee's report calls for a program that weaves together multidisciplinary research, public and stakeholder engagement, and thoughtful limits and guidelines for research. This program should facilitate cooperation and capacity building, support a more demographically and geographically diverse research community, enable equitable participation and prioritize strategies that build trust, transparency and legitimacy.
Geoengineering raises big technical, social and ethical questions that should be informed by research but can't be adequately answered by a small set of experts. And regardless of what we learn through geoengineering research, one thing is clear: Reducing emissions, decarbonizing economies and supporting adaptation to current and future climate impacts need to take center stage.
James W. Hurrell is a professor and Scott Presidential Chair in Environmental Science and Engineering at Colorado State University.
Ambuj D Sagar is the founding head of the School of Public Policy and Vipula and Mahesh Chaturevdi Professor of Policy Studies at The Indian Institute of Technology Delhi.
Marion Hourdequin is a professor of philosophy at Colorado College.
Disclosure statement: The authors do not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and have disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.
Reposted with permission from The Conversation.
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By Diana Madson
In Batesville, Arkansas, teachers are getting raises – thanks, in part, to solar power.
Megan Renihan is communications coordinator for the Batesville School District. She says that four years ago, teacher salaries were below average for the state, and lower than other districts in the county.
"In order to attract and retain our staff, we wanted to increase the pay," she says.
So the district started looking for ways to cut costs.
At the time, it was spending more than half a million dollars a year on utilities. To reduce its energy costs, the district installed thousands of LED lights, replaced windows and HVAC units, sealed leaks, and improved building insulation.
And it installed almost 1,500 solar panels that now generate about half of the district's electricity.
"We were the first school district in the state of Arkansas to invest in solar panels," Renihan says.
Together, the solar power and energy efficiency improvements are saving the district more than $300,000 a year. Along with other cost-cutting measures and state funding, those savings have helped raise teacher pay across the district.
"And that money is going to continue to go back into our teachers' salaries. That's the whole goal," Renihan says. "We want to be the best in the area for teachers, because that means that our kids are getting the best."
Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy / ChavoBart Digital Media.
Reposted with permission from Yale Climate Connections.
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The plan? A solar-powered ark containing seed, spore, sperm and egg samples from 6.7 million Earth species, to be stored in empty lava tunnels on the moon.
"This could be a modern global insurance policy," University of Arizona aerospace and mechanical engineering professor Jekan Thanga said in a presentation of his team's idea at the IEEE Aerospace Conference this month.
One one level, this is an ancient idea. Thanga drew inspiration from the Biblical story of Noah's Ark, as well as the "doomsday" seed vault in Svalbard, Norway. However, he pointed out that this seed bank is itself vulnerable to rising sea levels due to the climate crisis. In addition, Earth itself is vulnerable to more than just human activity.
"Earth is naturally a volatile environment," Thanga said in a press release. "As humans, we had a close call about 75,000 years ago with the Toba supervolcanic eruption, which caused a 1,000-year cooling period and, according to some, aligns with an estimated drop in human diversity. Because human civilization has such a large footprint, if it were to collapse, that could have a negative cascading effect on the rest of the planet."
In addition to super-volcanic eruptions and accelerated climate change, other potential mass extinction events include nuclear war, an asteroid strike, pandemics, solar storms and a global drought.
"We need a modern ark that is safe and away from all the possible cataclysms," Thanga said.
That's where the moon comes in. In 2013, scientists discovered a network of 200 lava tubes beneath the moon's surface, the press release noted. This could be an ideal location for the ark, as they have remained undisturbed for three to four billion years.
"Unless there is a direct hit from a meteor or a nuclear strike, the ark should be okay," Thanga told LiveScience.
Not all of the technology required for the ark currently exists. The genetic material in the ark would need to be kept extremely cold — between minus 292 and minus 321 degrees Fahrenheit. Because of this, robots would be needed to retrieve the samples, but they would fuse to the floor because of the cold under existing conditions. What is needed is quantum levitation, an as-of-yet theoretical means of fixing objects in a magnetic field using superconductors. Since this is likely to be needed for other space travel projects that require deep freezing, Thanga thought it would be developed soon.
Overall, he thought the ark would cost hundreds of billions of dollars to complete and could be ready in thirty years. While the price tag is high, "it isn't totally out of the question," Thanga told LiveScience.
He also thought the ark could be completed in just 10 to 15 years if circumstances demanded it.
"This is a project that would require real urgency to have a lot of people energized enough to go after it," he told LiveScience.
However, he thought it was ultimately worth that energy.
"Humanity has a fundamental responsibility to protect the diversity of life on Earth," he said in the presentation.
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The growing Texas solar industry is offering a safe harbor to unemployed oil and gas professionals amidst the latest oil and gas industry bust, this one brought on by the novel coronavirus pandemic, the Houston Chronicle reports.
With the fracking sector in turmoil, many workers are looking to apply their skills — from construction to negotiating land use agreements — to the solar industry.
"No question, we are getting workers moving over from oil and gas," Kevin Smith, Lighthouse BP's CEO in the Americas, said. "A lot of the oil and gas skills are applicable to solar."
Renewables are the fastest-growing energy sector in the country and Texas' topography, climate, and grid make it an attractive market for solar energy.
"Clean energy is growing and growing fast in Texas... This is where the jobs are going to be and where the economy is heading," Raj Prahbu, CEO of the Austin-based research firm Mercom Capital Group, told the Chronicle.
"If you're not going to make the shift, you're going to be left behind."
For a deeper dive:
By Galen Barbose, Eric O'Shaughnessy and Ryan Wiser
Until recently, rooftop solar panels were a clean energy technology that only wealthy Americans could afford. But prices have dropped, thanks mostly to falling costs for hardware, as well as price declines for installation and other "soft" costs.
Today hundreds of thousands of middle-class households across the U.S. are turning to solar power. But households with incomes below the median for their areas remain less likely to go solar. These low- and moderate-income households face several roadblocks to solar adoption, including cash constraints, low rates of home ownership and language barriers.
Our team of researchers at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory examined how various policies and business models could affect the likelihood of people at all income levels adopting solar. In a recently published study, we analyzed five common solar policies and business models to see whether they attracted lower-income households.
We found that three scenarios did: offering financial incentives to low- and moderate-income households; leasing solar panels to homeowners; and lending money to buy panels, with the loan repaid on property tax bills. All of these approaches resulted in people at a wider range of income levels trying solar energy.
Solar Power for Everyone
For over a decade our team at the Berkeley lab's Electricity Markets and Policy group has kept tabs on trends in the rooftop solar market through our annual report, "Tracking the Sun." It documents how prices have fallen, and the number of installations has risen in U.S. solar markets.
Over the past decade rooftop solar power has grown significantly in the U.S., spreading beyond initial hot spots in California and Hawaii to states such as North Carolina, Florida and New Jersey. The industry projects that rapid growth will continue for the foreseeable future.
More recently our researchers have combined this tracking report with data on household-level demographics and income of solar adopters, covering more than 70% of the U.S. residential solar market. Among the research products we've created is an online interactive tool that shows the demographic characteristics of solar adoption down to the county level.
Thanks to these price and growth trends, an increasing number of state and local governments, utilities and businesses want to help lower-income customers go solar. They believe solar will cut energy bills, reduce money spent on bill payment programs, avoid pollution and create green jobs.
So far, 20 states are offering 38 programs to help lower-income customers go solar. California, the largest, has budgeted over US$1 billion for such programs. A number of utilities and solar developers, like Posigen and GRID Alternatives, are also developing business models that work for all customers. These initiatives leverage state and federal incentives to deliver free or very low-cost solar to eligible households.
Donnel Baird's company makes energy-saving updates to buildings almost exclusively in low-income areas. Cutting the… https://t.co/5uWGSVnu9m— NPR (@NPR)1603088973.0
Reducing Upfront Costs
In our study we evaluated five policies and business models to see which ones helped low- and moderate-income households go solar:
- Financial incentives targeted at low- and moderate-income households, usually rebates or other incentives to reduce upfront costs.
- Leasing rooftop solar systems, which reduces upfront costs.
- Property Assessed Clean Energy financing, or PACE, which allows customers to finance energy improvements through their property tax payments. Currently, residential PACE is available only in California, Florida and Missouri.
- Financial incentives such as rebates offered to customers of any income level.
- "Solarize" campaigns, in which customers band together in a group purchase to get a good price.
The study includes data on more than 1 million residential rooftop photovoltaic systems installed on single-family homes in 18 states from 2010 to 2018. We compared modeled household-level income estimates for solar adopters with area median household incomes from U.S. Census data.
We found that three of the interventions – targeted incentives, leasing and PACE – effectively increased adoption equity. These approaches are boosting sales to low-income customers in existing markets and helping solar companies move into new markets, such as low-income areas where solar sales have been weak or absent.
Policies that don't address the needs and constraints of low-income households, like the federal income tax credit, have not had much effect on equity. And solarize campaigns are rarely pitched to low-income buyers.
An Untapped Customer Base
When solar expands into new markets and neighborhoods, it can have a spillover impact. If a system is installed in a neighborhood that had no solar before, neighbors who see it will be more likely to adopt it themselves. Moving into new markets may have greater potential effects on low-income adoption rates than reaching lower-income households in existing markets.
Expanding sales to low- and moderate-income households can also tap a larger base of potential customers. The U.S. National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL) found in a study that 42% of rooftops where solar power could work are on low- and moderate-income housing.
A 2018 study estimates that installing rooftop solar systems on low- and moderate-income housing could provide up to 42% of all rooftop technical potential in the residential sector and improve energy affordability in low-income communities. NREL
As the solar market grows, decisions to install solar systems are increasingly driven by the prospect of saving money, rather than strictly by green values or buyers' interest in new technologies. A survey led by NREL found that roughly half of people who decided to install solar in California, New Jersey, New York and Arizona in 2014 to 2016 identified cost savings as a primary factor in their decision to adopt solar.
For low- and moderate-income households, the financial benefits of solar power can make a big difference. Many lower-income households carry a large energy burden, meaning that energy and utility costs consume a large share of their income. Across the U.S., low-income households spend about three times more of their income on energy costs than other households. Solar power can reduce those energy burdens by providing on-site power at a lower cost than grid electricity.
Making homes more energy efficient is an established strategy for cutting energy bills, but there's growing interest in having solar play a role. Deploying solar power for low- and moderate-income households can be a way to fulfill policy and social goals like creating jobs and improving the environment.
The study described in this article was supported by the U.S. Department of Energy's Solar Energy Technologies Office.
Galen Barbose is a research scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.
Eric O'Shaughnessy is a research consultant at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.
Ryan Wiser is a senior scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.
Disclosure statements: Eric O'Shaughnessy is a renewable energy research analyst at Clean Kilowatts, LLC. Ryan Wiser is a board member of the Clean Energy States Alliance. Galen Barbose does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.
Reposted with permission from The Conversation.
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By Jenna McGuire
The United States has the resources and technology to shift away from fossil fuels and build an energy system entirely run on renewables, according to a new report released Thursday by Environment America Research & Policy Center and the Frontier Group.
The study, We Have the Power: Reaching America's Potential for Clean, Renewable Energy, finds that not only does the U.S currently have more than enough wind and solar resources to meet all of its energy needs, but renewable technologies are becoming more advanced, while costs are plummeting
The research concluded that U.S. solar energy resources have the potential to meet America's 2020 electricity demand more than 77 times over, and U.S. onshore and offshore wind resources could meet demand 11 times over.
"This report shows that between the sunshine and the wind, we have the potential to run our society on clean energy, today and in the future," said Susan Rakov, chair of Environment America Research & Policy Center's (EARPC) Clean Energy program
The analysis identifies four key strategies that are crucial to transforming the nation's energy system—building out out renewable energy, modernizing the grid, reducing and managing energy use, and replacing direct uses of fossil fuels with electricity to take advantage of clean technologies.
“We Have the Power” proposes four key strategies to transition our country’s energy system to 100 percent renewable… https://t.co/7WVL63MCbx— Environment America (@Environment America)1622744940.0
"How quickly America shifts toward wind and solar will be decided by how and when we lean into fully erecting the four pillars outlined in this report," said Emma Searson, 100% Renewable campaign director at EARPC. "Given the remarkable technological advances and progress we've made so far, we should feel confident in our ability to build each and every one of them."
Coal, oil, and gas are responsible for 80% of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, hundreds of thousands of annual U.S deaths from air pollution, and widespread environmental destruction, according to the report.
The analysis highlights that a transition to emission-free energy would help alleviate some of America's most urgent environmental and public health challenges and help slow the acceleration of the climate crisis.
The report calls on state and federal lawmakers to make bold commitments to a 100% clean and renewable energy future and ensure those goals are accomplished through the backing of financial and regulatory policies.
"Time is of the essence," reads the report. "Policymakers must do all they can to accelerate a shift away from fossil fuels to an energy system in which the vast majority of our energy comes from renewable sources like the wind and sun."
Reposted with permission from Common Dreams.
Sense produces smart home energy monitors that allow users to track, in real-time, their energy usage throughout the home and even through specific appliances. The Sense home energy monitors are some of the most popular on the market today. Learn why in our review below.
Sense stepped into the home energy monitor industry just a few years ago. The Boston-area company began using machine learning in order to provide real-time looks at electrical usage. This also came in the wake of a discovery that always-on devices accounted for nearly 23% of all home electricity usage.
Sense developed its tech with a team from some of the biggest names in voice recognition. The team consisted of engineers from Amazon, Vlingo, Phillips, SpeechWorks, ScanSoft, and Nuance.
What came of that was the Sense home energy monitor. This Wi-Fi-enabled sensor has the capability of displaying real-time energy use data right to users' smart phones thanks to a small box that attached to the home's electrical box.
Sense offers sophisticated energy monitoring
Compared to others in the industry, Sense is top of the line. Its diverse range of features, easy-to-use smart phone application, and even a solar energy option for improved savings, is the reason for the higher price tag.
Despite the relatively high price, consumers have rated it quite well. Utility companies have verified that it is 99.5% accurate and it can even track usage of individual appliances for improved accuracy and tracking.
It has shown that it records 1 million data points per second, which is a rate that is not only larger but faster than most other competitors. Combined with other energy-efficient products like smart thermostats and smart lights, the Sense energy monitor could help you reduce your energy consumption considerably. For those looking to get a better sense about their power usage, Sense may just be the best the market has to offer.
Types of Sense home energy monitors
Sense works by connecting a monitor to your home's breaker panel. It then takes the voltage and current measurements of your electricity consumption. It does this over 1 million times every second to produce high-resolution data. The monitor then transmits the data through a Wi-Fi antenna to your app or desktop.
Furthermore, Sense is capable of individual device detection. This allows you to get a sense of how much energy your home uses, and which appliances and electrical devices use the most energy when running.
There are two Sense home energy monitors: the standard Sense unit and the Sense Solar. The latter is meant to provide the services to those who run off of solar power, providing greater clarification and understanding of solar energy usage.
The Sense energy monitor provides real-time, 24/7 data that is accessible through iOS, Android, and desktop apps. That means being able to check energy usage patterns whenever it suits you. Even better, schedules and alerts can be set at the user's discretion to create a truly customize data system.
Why buy: The Sense home energy monitor allows for optimal energy tracking convenience. Users can get live updates on their power consumption from their smart phone whenever and wherever they like.
How it works
The Sense home energy monitor works simply enough. It attaches to your home's circuit breaker, measuring energy usage right down to individual appliances and devices for a better understanding of where your home's electrical usage is. Sense recommends that you have a licensed electrician do the installation.
There are also customer safety monitors that can be set with audible notifications. Keep track of critical devices like well pumps, sump pumps, HVAC systems, water heaters, or flat irons without having to constantly monitor them yourself. Most importantly, the components have been ETL/Intertek certified. That certification ensures that it is safe for operation within an electrical panel.
The Sense features compatibility with many smart home devices. Pairing up the Sense with Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, Phillips Hue, IFTTT, smart thermostats, and smart plugs can help you optimize your home's energy efficiency.
Like the Sense, the Sense Solar can track usage data in real-time. It can also track your appliances and devices on an individual basis to give you a more comprehensive window into your home's energy consumption.
Why buy: The Sense Solar can detect the exact amount of energy that the solar panels on your home are generating 24/7. This feature quickly gives you a better idea of which appliances are drawing power (and how much) at any given time as well as the effectiveness of your solar panels.
How it works
The Sense Solar home energy monitor is much the same as the original version, though this one tracks solar energy usage. It connects to your home's breaker panel like the Sense, just with an additional wire to connect to the solar inverter in your home's main electrical box.
The Sense Solar uses the same simple interface for its smart phone function that the regular Sense does. Users can chart energy usage over time, even creating profiles of monthly, weekly, or daily usage, whatever works best for the user.
It is recommended that only electricians handle the installation process.
The Sense app
Perhaps the biggest selling point for both Sense and Sense Solar is the mobile app. The Sense app is used to connect to their smart home energy monitors and provides the ability to monitor volts and current one million times per second.
The real-time, 24/7 data is available in a number of interfaces that allows for customized profiles. Users can set monitoring reports that display overall usage as well as individualized device performance.
With a large, easy to identify interface, users are able to generate reports that fit their usage needs. Moreover, they can see real-time data to monitor devices as they run.
If that weren't enough, users can also set goals, view trends, and even set audible alerts whenever energy levels are too high. The Sense app lets you take control of your home's energy usage and electricity bill.
Sense pros and cons
Both the Sense and Sense Solar have their own distinct advantages and disadvantages. Here is a breakdown for both versions.
For starters, the Sense app is super user-friendly. Even the most technologically-challenged can pick up the app and navigate its interface with little to no trouble.
Moreover, the app shows a ton of historical data. If you want to look at specific trends going back to installation date, you can call those up easily. Daily, weekly, and monthly reports are available to provide a better understanding of data usage over time so you can identify patterns and problem spots.
Finally, it provides individual device tracking. If you want to get truly granular and see which devices take the most energy to run, that is easily available through the app.
At $299.99, the cost isn't cheap. Furthermore, professional installation is highly recommended. That is an additional cost on top of the already steep price for the unit itself. Those installation fees take an already costly unit up a notch.
There is also the issue that it does not have cost calculations. While it can track energy usage in real-time, it doesn't tell you what that translates to in terms of actual money. Knowing what your energy is costing you will take a little extra sleuthing.
Sense Solar pros
The Sense Solar energy monitor is one of the best at tracking solar production in real-time. Some similar solar devices only offer updates in 15 minute increments whereas the Sense Solar can track up to the second.
Moreover, it tracks electrical production and consumption as well, so you know if your appliances are drawing more energy than the solar panels are putting out. Not to mention the user-friendly app that makes it possible to create various profiles for tracking and consuming data.
Sense Solar cons
Even more expensive than the standard Sense at $349.99, the Sense Solar monitor is definitely an investment. This particular home energy monitor is designed to help homeowners get the most out of their own solar panels. If you just want to identify ways to reduce energy usage, there are definitely cheaper options.
The other negative is that it has trouble finding always-on appliances. That's not to say it can't find them, it just takes some time and patience. It also may detect the same device multiple times, creating confusion.
Both the Sense and Sense Solar energy monitors deliver real-time data on electrical consumption that can be customized however the user wants. Aside from needing a professional installation, users can access and customize data easily through the app, creating profiles displaying information that can help you save money on your electric bill.
Though it is one of the most expensive options on the market, there are few that can deliver real-time data customization and app convenience the way the Sense does. With a 99.5% accuracy in readings, it is hard to top the convenience and accuracy that Sense provides.
Ryan Womeldorf is a freelance writer who covers technology and consumer goods, including smart home tech. He is a husband and father of two (five if you count his pups).
Update: The northern lights forecast has changed since the article was written this morning, and NOAA has downgraded the strength of the solar storm from G3 (strong) to G1 (minor), decreasing the odds of spotting the lights tonight and tomorrow.
Increased solar activity may give some people living in the lower 48 states a rare chance to glimpse the northern lights on Thursday.
On Monday, a solar flare produced a coronal mass ejection (CME), a spout of plasma from the sun's atmosphere that is now headed toward Earth, AccuWeather reported. This has the potential to generate a geomagnetic storm as the solar particles interact with Earth's atmosphere. In turn, these storms generate the phenomenon known as the aurora borealis, or northern lights, in the Northern Hemisphere and the aurora australis in the Southern Hemisphere.
"It's all about the strength of the solar storm. The stronger the storm, the farther south the auroras are seen," explained David Samuhel, AccuWeather senior meteorologist and astronomy blogger.
The National Oceanic and Space Administration (NOAA) has put a G3 (strong) geomagnetic storm watch in place for Dec. 10 and a G2 (moderate) geomagnetic storm watch in place for Dec. 11, according to the most recent forecast from its Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC).
"If the storm gets this strong, it is possible to see the northern lights as far south as northern Pennsylvania, Iowa and Washington, but it will look more like a faint glow on the horizon, not swirling bands of light overhead like what people think of when they think about the aurora," AccuWeather Meteorologist Brian Lada said.
The aurora usually appears so far north and south because solar particles get directed there by the Earth's magnetic field, where they interact with the atmosphere to create an impressive light show.
The solar storm was originally predicted to be seen on Wednesday evening.
"Tonight's anticipated auroral activity in lower latitudes is looking like a bust," NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory Ambassador Tony Rice tweeted Wednesday night.
The aurora could be a no-show Thursday night as well, since NOAA's SWPC has said its confidence in a G3 storm is diminishing.
Even if the aurora does extend farther south than usual, people in cities like Boston and Seattle may have a harder time seeing it.
"I'd say light pollution affects [visibility of the northern lights] much more than meteor showers," Samuhel told AccuWeather. "It is usually so dim when it's visible this far south that you have to be in a pitch-black area to see it, even then it could still be too dim."
That said, the solar flare prompting these predictions is a sign of things to come. The sun is moving from a low-activity solar minimum to a Solar Cycle 25, an 11-year period that experiences increased storminess on the sun's surface, The Washington Post explained. This period of activity should peak in July 2025.
"[S]ky-watchers at high latitudes can expect more opportunities to see the northern lights in the years ahead," Matthew Cappucci wrote for The Washington Post. "And as we roll the dice enough times, there's even a chance that a strong-enough solar storm could spill aurora into the middle latitudes."
However, periods of high solar activity don't just generate light shows. Solar flares can also damage power grids and disrupt satellite communications when they are directed toward Earth.
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By Kenny Stancil
Despite the difficulties associated with the Covid-19 pandemic, the world added a record amount of new renewable energy capacity in 2020, according to data released Monday by the International Renewable Energy Agency.
IRENA's annual Renewable Capacity Statistics 2021 shows that global renewable energy capacity grew by more than 260 gigawatts (GW) last year, beating the previous record set in 2019 by nearly 50%. Last year marked the second consecutive year in which clean energy's share of all new generating capacity increased substantially, with renewables accounting for over 80% of all new electricity capacity added in 2020.
Total fossil fuel additions, by contrast, fell by more than 6% last year—from 64 GW worth of new electricity capacity in 2019 to 60 GW in 2020.
"These numbers tell a remarkable story of resilience and hope. Despite the challenges and the uncertainty of 2020, renewable energy emerged as a source of undeniable optimism for a better, more equitable, resilient, clean, and just future," IRENA Director-General Francesco La Camera said in a statement.
"The great reset," as La Camera called the coronavirus-driven economic slowdown, "offered a moment of reflection and chance to align our trajectory with the path to inclusive prosperity, and there are signs we are grasping it."
The growth of renewables in 2020 tells a remarkable story of resilience & hope. Despite the uncertainties,… https://t.co/PXycDqano8— Francesco La Camera (@Francesco La Camera)1617616331.0
Referring to 2020 as "the start of the decade of renewables," La Camera noted that "costs are falling, clean tech markets are growing, and never before have the benefits of the energy transition been so clear."
Though hydropower—responsible for more than 43% of the world's total renewable energy generation capacity—still constitutes the largest global source of clean energy, other sources are catching up; solar and wind contributed 127 GW and 111 GW of new installations, respectively, together accounting for 91% of the growth in renewables in 2020.
🟢JUST RELEASED Renewable Capacity Statistics 2021 report by @IRENA shows how #renewableenergy performed in 2020 - t… https://t.co/VPwW1snMcL— IRENA (@IRENA)1617612361.0
While La Camera described the widespread adoption of renewable energy sources as an "unstoppable" trend, he also emphasized that "there is a huge amount to be done."
Notwithstanding recent momentum in favor of clean energy, La Camera said that in order to limit global temperature rise to 1.5ºC, "significant planned energy investments must be redirected to support the transition if we are to achieve 2050 goals" of net zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, as outlined last month in IRENA's World Energy Transition Outlook.
La Camera's words of caution about the inadequate pace of the global energy transformation echoes a recent warning by Fatih Bitrol, executive director of the International Energy Agency, who said last week that even though the world's biggest economies have pledged to achieve net zero GHG emissions by mid-century, few have implemented the policies necessary to realize that objective.
Regarding the worldwide expansion of renewable energy capacity in 2020, La Camera stressed that "in this critical decade of action, the international community must look to this trend as a source of inspiration to go further."
Reposted with permission from Common Dreams.
Now, a new study has shown that at least one popular global cooling strategy is unlikely to work if greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise.
"I think the paper provides yet another argument for why solar geoengineering can't be a 'get out-of-jail-free' card that lets us off the hook for the need to cut our CO2 emissions; we can't just burn all the fossil fuels in the ground and solve the problem with solar geoengineering," Cornell University senior research associate Dr. Doug MacMartin, who was not a part of the study, told The Independent.
The research, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Monday, looked at one of the most popular solar geoengineering ideas: releasing reflective particles into the atmosphere to reflect the sun's light and thereby cool temperatures. The use of these particles, called aerosols, would be a way to artificially replicate the cooling that happens after volcanic eruptions.
But the solar geoengineering might not compensate for another consequence of greenhouse gas emissions — the thinning and eventual disappearance of certain clouds.
Previous research from the same team has shown that, under carbon dioxide concentrations of 1,200 parts per million (ppm), the stratocumulus clouds that cover oceans in the subtropics would break up. Since these clouds help keep the earth cool by reflecting sunlight, this would heat the world by a further eight degrees Celsius, Earther reported at the time.
"Even if the surface warming from increased greenhouse gas concentrations is compensated by solar geoengineering, the infrared effect of the greenhouse gases on the clouds is still there; it is not compensated by solar geoengineering," study leader and Caltech scientist Tapio Schneider told Earther of his latest study. "So the question suggested itself whether the clouds can still become unstable and break up at high greenhouse gas concentrations even when solar geoengineering compensates much of the initial surface warming."
The answer? Not once carbon dioxide concentrations reach 1,800 ppm. At that point, the clouds would break up and temperatures would shoot up by seven degrees Celsius.
"Solar geoengineering may not be fail-safe to prevent strong warming if it is prolonged for more than a century and greenhouse gas emissions continue to increase during that time," Schneider told The Independent.
However, the paper authors and outside scientists observed that the carbon dioxide concentrations modeled in the paper were extreme. Kate Marvel of Columbia University told Earther they were "BANANAS."
It took 170 years for greenhouse gas emissions to increase carbon dioxide concentrations from 280 ppm to 410 today. Instead, Marvel said the value of the research was in learning more about the climate system.
"Models let us do 'experiments' that would never, ever happen in the real world in order to try and learn things about complex systems," Marvel told Earther. "This is an example of that. It should in no way be taken as a realistic representation of what would actually happen under any real-world geoengineering scenario, and the authors are very explicit about that."
There are other arguments against geoengineering beyond the fact that it might not work in an extreme emissions scenario. It could also harm agricultural yields, change rainfall patterns or set off an irreversible feedback loop, Earther noted.
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