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Adam Widelka
Chess, Soccer and Travel
Chess, Soccer and Travel

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Wind Power: It Has Its Advantages And Disadvantages

There isn’t anything new about using the wind for power. For centuries that was how water was pumped from wells by our ancestors. It saved them from endless hours of work that was literally back breaking. But one of the biggest pluses to using wind energy is that is free. And like anything you may use, wind power has its advantages and disadvantages. Let’s take a look at both sides:

The Advantages

Clean Fuel Source: Wind energy is fueled by the wind, whereas power plants rely on coal and/or natural gas combustion, which generates pollution. Wind turbines do not produce atmospheric emissions that can cause acid rain.

Wind Is Abundant: There is an endless supply of abundant wind supply.

Wind Energy Is Endless: Because the wind is abundant and never ending, it cannot be used up. When the Earth rotates, it causes wind because of the irregularities of the Earth’s surface and the sun heats up the atmosphere. So in one way, wind is somewhat a form of solar energy.

Wind Energy Is Cheap: Wind energy is an inexpensive renewable energy source. For each kilowatt-hour that wind energy produces costs approximately 4 to 6 cents, depending upon the financing and the source.

Wind Turbines Provide Benefits: Rural areas benefit from wind turbines being built. The farms and ranches where the majority of wind sites are use just a small fraction of land, thus not affecting farmers and ranchers. They are able to keep working and benefit by receiving rent payment by the owners of the power plant.

The Disadvantages

Competition For Wind Power: Wind power biggest competitor is conventional generation sources because the cost to set up. The expense of setting up a wind power plant has dropped over the past few years, however, depending on how energetic the wind site is, it sometimes is not cost competitive.

It Isn’t Steady: The biggest challenge next to expense is the wind is intermittent, thus it doesn’t always blow when needed. In some cases, wind can be harnessed for future electricity demands, but not always.

Wind Sites Are Remote: A good wind site will usually be found in a remote area, away from the city, where more electricity is needed and used. This cost for transferring the electricity is expensive.

Competition for Land: Where a wind site may be built is in competition for the land with other uses.

Wind Power Plants Noisy: A wind power plant is noisier because of the rotor blades and they aren’t very aesthetic to look at compare to modern day conventional power plants. They are also known to be dangerous for birds because the rotors can kill them.

What is important to remember is that once a wind power plant is established, it can sustain power for a lifetime. The versatility that wind energy offers makes it an important resource for us.
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Solar Power Won’t Leave You In The Dark During The Winter

A lot of people think that solar power is useless in the cold, dark winter months. In reality though, there are some cases where the bitter cold months are the best for solar power. One of the reasons is because solar power systems and installations are at their lowest price!

But Does Solar Power Panels Work During The Winter?
If you’re a homeowner, you probably have more memories of winters being cold, dark, and snowy and this makes you wonder if solar power panels will even work during the winter. Especially if you live in an area that is known for its winter! But you don’t have to live in Los Angeles, Orlando, or Phoenix to get strong performance from a solar power system.

Even the areas that have three or four months of winter, the sunlight is often the strongest then. You simply have shorter days. And when it comes to the snow, the problems are minimal for a solar power system. Some things you should be aware of before you make that solar power investment if you live in an area with long winters:
1. Solar power panels are designed to hold a certain weight limit and undergo pressure testing that assesses their durability. In most cases, snow isn’t that heavy. There are different types of panels and they each have a rating that indicates the highest pressure it can withstand.

2. When solar power panels, they won’t produce power, that’s just common sense. However, they are easy to clean and since they are installed at an angle, most of the time, the snow will slide off. However, on really cold days, that may take too much time and your intervention is needed. Ask the contractor that installs your solar power system about a solar panel snow rake. These are made just for the purpose of removing snow without damaging the solar panels.

3. As we stated earlier, cold, sunny days are good for solar power panels – if you keep them clear of the snow. Just like other electronics, solar power panels work better in cooler weather than hotter environments. You simply need to schedule your power usage around when the sun is at its brightest during the winter months.

Those Temp Shifts from Night to Morning
It isn’t unusual during the winter for temps to have extreme shifts from nighttime to morning. And yes, that can cause havoc on conventional solar cells and solar power panels. There are specially designed cells and solar power panels that are engineered different to accommodate such swings in temps though.

They don’t have any metal on the front and the complete back is covered with copper foundation that is plated with tin. This minimizes corrosion and is far less likely for any breakage to happen to the solar power cells when the temps swing. Be sure to ask the contractor you go with for your solar power installation about these special made cells.

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What Environmental Risks Do Your Health And Beauty Practices Have?

Did you know that the manufacturing of health and beauty products can have an effect on our environment? Even with the products marked “all natural” on the label, there are risks that we should be concerned about.

By adding some natural substances to any product with the chemicals, a company can legally label their product as “all natural”. It increases their sales as they sell mass quantities of these health and beauty products. What also increases is the demand on farming and mining the land which increases the use of chemicals and pesticides. These unsustainable methods usually use our natural resources that are not renewable and then the ecosystem is disrupted.

If you are concerned about being a “green” person, read the labeling on your health and beauty products. If it says it is 100% all natural, you want to make sure what they have is in fact, 100% all natural. The practices by these companies utilize may or may not damage the environment. Do your research.

The Packaging
The amount of plastic filling up landfills is growing more and more each day. Choose the health and beauty products come in packaging that is environmentally safe. Make sure the plastic is recyclable or made from recycled material. It can take hundreds of years for some plastics to break down once they get in the landfill. When possible, buy health and beauty products that come in glass or recycled bottles and jars with minimal packaging.

Don’t Pollute
Health and beauty products often contain chemical substances that do not break down. As such, they simply accumulate in the ecosystem and poison the planet as they are washed down the drains. From the drain, they get into our lakes, rivers, and public water system. Some of the worst chemicals are:

• P-phenylenediamine, found in hair dye and lipstick is derived from coal tar. It kills aquatic species and animal plankton.

• Preservatives made from BHA and BHT, synthetic antioxidants, found in lipstick and moisturizers. These kill fish and causes mutations in amphibians.

• Dioxane, an endocrine disruptive chemical which contaminates other ingredients. It is found in cream health and beauty products like bubble bath and shampoo. It can be removed but it is a costly process that companies choose to avoid.

• Dibutyl phthalate , a plasticizer that is used in nail polish as well as PVC pipes. It has harmful effects on aquatic species and causes mutations in amphibians as well as alters the behavior in fish. It can decimate and complete ecosystem in large amounts.

When these items and other chemicals are allowed in the water cycle, it affects everyone and everything. Chemicals from health and beauty products are found in our lakes, oceans, rivers, and public water supply as well as agricultural soil. Even our household dust has been found to show these chemicals.

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Are Prefab Homes All They’re Cracked Up To Be?

Prefab homes are showing up everywhere these days. Many people think that this is the answer for having modern architecture and conveniences to the masses.

The Claim to Greatness
While there are many claims prefab home can provide modern architecture to the masses, not everyone shares that enthusiasm. Some of the claims that prefab homes are the way are:
1. Affordability
2. Less Waste
3. Less Time
4. More “Green”

With that list being made, some points to be considered and determine fact or fiction are:
Affordability: This is the number one reason many decide to go with prefab homes. It is also the easiest to prove a myth. Those who decide prefab homes are the way to go find that after weeks and months of research, they can’t afford them after all.

While prefab manufacturers and re-sellers claim that prefab homes are cheaper, there are reasons to dispel those claims:
• Facility Overhead – Prefab homes are manufactured in buildings that have a support staff in addition to those who build them. There are costs associated with these facilities like equipment, utilities and more. A site built home doesn’t have facility expenses.
• Company Profit – Manufacturers of prefab homes make as much profit as a general contractor does on site built homes, sometimes more.
• Fees – The additional fees of prefab homes can run as high as $10K per house. You have the cost of cranes, delivery fees, and set-up fees. So, the further away the site where the prefab homes are destined, those costs can increase. There are also architect and reseller fees.

Waste: Prefab homes are built in a factory, thus the claim of less waste created. They set aside the scrap and reuse it. What the public doesn’t get told is that they use as much as 30% more raw materials than site-built homes due to transportation logistics.

Time: Most prefab homes manufacturers claim the savings are significant due to the construction process is faster site-built homes. Often those who buy a prefab home find that it can take months building and months afterward before it is live-in ready.

Green: Doing anything “green” is hot these days, including in prefab homes too. Their green claim starts with less waste and better insulation than site-built homes. The fact is the majority of manufacturers of prefab homes still use loose, bat insulation which tends to fall out as the modules are transported.

In Closing
This isn’t to say it isn’t worth the effort and time to check into prefab homes for your next residence. But take the time to research and study various manufacturers and ask questions, a lot of questions.

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A Renewable Energy Source That Many Overlook And The Problems It Causes – Hydro Power

What would the world’s economy be like if we pulled our electricity out of energy resources that are renewable? We wouldn’t have any more shock from fuel price increases. We wouldn’t have to worry about foreign control over our fuel. And the climate change worries would be gone.

We would simply have abundance of affordable and clean electricity. Seems like a dream doesn’t it? Well prior to WWII, Americans were living that way. How? Simple: hydro power.

During the Great Depression, there were large public works projects where fleets of gigantic facilities were built on the biggest waterways in this country. Not only did they supply electricity, but they created jobs and inexpensively supplied power to the Southern rural areas while helping the West to become industrialized.

But when the war was over, the atomic age started and the growth of hydro power growth slowed down. Some say that hydro power wasn’t able to expand any more.

Today, everyone is looking for different ways to create energy for our cars, our homes, and more. One energy source that is overlooked by many that has ample amounts available is hydropower. Just like wind power, it doesn’t need fossil fuels to create electricity nor does it create any emissions. Resources like coal, electricity, gas, and oil do create emissions and thus create pollution.

Hydro power’s environmental impact is related closely to effects on nature with damming and/or lowering of water level. It can also change the water flow and has an effect on power line and road construction. There are many factors involved with hydro power’s environmental impact.

The damming done to supply hydro power in large areas can decrease public access, thus affecting outdoor activities. The climate is also affected by damming because of the increase in carbon that is released by plants and trees. When there is too much water in the reservoirs, it releases carbon which causes the plants and trees to rot from lack of oxygen.

Hydro power can affect the natural course of how water runs, such as when a river power plant doesn’t have water reservoirs, the water flow level changes which can create erosion. The power lines that run the power created by hydro process are foreign to nature, such as birds, and they can destruct the natural landscape as well. Birds often collide with the power lines, killing the birds. The underground cables that transmit the power affect hydrology and vegetation too.

Other creatures of nature such as fish that live in the natural environment rely on the level and speed of water naturally is affected by hydro power plants. Their natural habitat and source of food is affected, leaving them without when the water is drained. Some of the river systems where hydro power plants are built are good as fishing rivers however.
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These Homes Are Made From Natural Materials That Offer Sustainability Like No Other

The construction of houses today can run in the hundreds of thousands or more. And once they are built, there cost they have on our monthly expenses and the environment is higher. Which is why there are more and more people are looking for ways to build with natural materials that offer sustainability.

They want to lessen the impact on their monthly budget while easing the impact on the day-to-day damage to the environment. We are outfitting our homes with sustainable technology already. And now there is a huge boom in building homes that are sustainable and use the resources that are all around, like natural materials.

While the term ‘sustainable’ has quickly become a buzz word, we are all starting to see the benefits to having a home that is made from sustainable natural materials. To obtain true sustainability, we need to understand that there are many facets to consider. Not only using the natural materials for building the house either. But we need to use renewable energy sources for the design that is efficient and offers harmony to the surrounding environment.

Let’s take a look at a few houses that do just that:

Bamboo Blooming
From a Vietnamese architect firm, we have a prototype home that will be to the masses in Vietnam and they are going to be priced for those on a low income can afford them. This home is placed on stilts making it flood-proof for against floods that are as much as 5 foot deep.

This 473 square foot home has a central frame construction made from bamboo, again, a natural material, that is found locally. It also has coconut leaves and fiberboard, all natural materials that are right there.

Fall House
A San Francisco architecture firm recently designed a beautiful luxury house that is guaranteed to make your neighbors jealous! Situated on the Big Sur coastline, the house has a copper facade that will get a beautiful patina in the sea air. It also provides the occupants a higher degree of fire-protection.

Not only does it have an enviable look, but the views are even more enviable. This two-story house has energy-efficient windows and an open design where the stack ventilation is natural. It automatically opens the windows which reduce the need to use air-conditioning and the graywater recycling system is another way to make this home that is made of natural materials even more sustainable.

Pop-Up House
Designed by a French architecture, a team of builders erected this house in only 4 days using only a screwdriver. It is prefabricated home that offers excellent insulation and creates a almost airtight thermal envelope so that no heating is required, even in Southern France.

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Green Technology Holiday Lights That Would Make Clark Griswold Proud

This holiday season is going to be lit up different from coast to coast, thanks to the advances in green technology. The lighting technology that is coming out on the market will give you more creative ways to deck and light up your halls and outdoors.

Those standard white incandescent lights and the animatronic elves, reindeer, and Santa are going to be old news. We’re going to be lighting up our homes with lasers and smartphones in millions of color choices. Take a look at what you can expect to see:

This green technology isn’t anything new, but up until now, it has been limited to smaller strands of incandescent lights that were used on the front porch or in a window. This year, you can get 30 feet of LED lights with batteries that last longer and are more powerful. You can get them with auto-timers and controls that make them blink as well as other light patterns.
Laser Lights Projected
Get 1000s of tiny pinpoint lights in red, green or red and green with small spotlights and shone them against your home or any hard surface. They actually look like the traditional rope light, but they float across the exterior of your home, plants, trees, etc. For those who live in cold weather climate, this green technology item will make taking down holiday decorations so much easier!

RGB Lights
Get as many as 16 million colors from a single light bulb that has 3 LEDs of basic colors: Blue, Green, Red. These are RGB lights and you can adjust the lights with your smartphone. Even better, you can use them all year long … just change the colors for the appropriate holiday. And as we already know. Using LED lighting is one of the best green technology things you can do.

If You’re Using What You Have

Not everyone has the budget to buy the latest in holiday lights though. But you can still practice green technology with your current lights and be conscious of what you do, or don’t do. It’s no secret that all of those holiday decorations impact the utility bills while setting the holiday mood.

So take the steps to cut the cost back during the holidays, like replacing old incandescent light bulbs with the LED bulbs that are available today. Many will retrofit and not cost a fortune. LED is one of the biggest energy-efficient green technology things we have today and eases the pain on your wallet too. Across the country, LEDs account for huge energy saving according to the Department of Energy.

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Hydro-Power: What You May Or May Not Know And Should Know

While we know not use electricity while standing in water, i.e. drying your hair while standing in the bathtub, hydropower is the method of using moving water to generate electricity. But hydro-power contradicts that in every way possible. For thousands of years, water has been used or energy. Such as when water wheels were used for grinding corn and wheat using tidal water and river water to power the millstones and sawmills.

In time, engineers were inspired to come up with an invention that would create more energy from water, thus creating hydro-power. Thus, water turbines came into play with the theory of building a dam on a river with a high elevation and the water would be stored in a reservoir behind it. Near the bottom of the dam, a water intake is there that leads to a penstock and conveys the water.

Gravity then causes the water to go down to the penstock and goes through the turbine’s propeller. The moving water turns the turbine which produces mechanical energy, working in the same as the water wheel worked. Here, it is kinetic energy that’s used as mechanical energy and energizes a generator before being converted into electricity and sends on via power lines. Hydro-power then created enough electricity to power cities, communities, factories, and more.

Things You May Not Know About Hydro-Power

Hydro-power was used by ancient Greece farmers and today it is one of our renewable energy sources. It doesn’t produces air pollution or create any toxic byproducts. Hoover Dam is a well-known source of hydro-power. It is a huge facility that stores power behind its walls. There are also many smaller hydro-power facilities too, some of which are “dam-less” and use the diversions rivers that channel some of a stream by way of a powerhouse then rejoins the main river.

One of the country’s first hydro-electric generating facilities was Niagara Falls – and you thought it was just a place for lovers! When a generator was connected to turbines in 1881, it would provide power to light up the falls at night, making it a tourist attraction. That same hydro-power setup is still providing amazement and wonder to tourists today.

Hydro-Power Is Less Expensive

Appleton Wisconsin is home to the first hydro-power commercial facility in America. This facility was built in 1882 to provide power that lit-up homes and a paper mill. Hydro-Power cost less to use than many other energy sources. Idaho, Oregon, and Washington get most of their electricity from hydro-power and their energy bills are the lowest in the country. In fact, in Washington State, more than 70% of their electricity is provided by hydro-power.

When there is a hasty demand for electricity, hydro-power facilities can reach maximum output fast to meet that demand because the power from those plants dispatch the power on-demand to the grid. This makes hydro-power essential for back-up power when there is a major electricity disruption.

Wildlife Is Safe With Hydro-Power

Contrary to the belief of many, hydro-power does not endanger wildlife. Dams are setup with devices like fish elevators and ladders that assist fish and all wildlife to move around the damns and in between the rivers freely. And hydro-power also helps power sources like nuclear, solar, and wind by storing the generated electricity, almost like a battery.

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The Benefits Of Prefab Homes Are Endless

A traditional site-built home is done a construction on the site where the home will sit. Prefabricated homes are built in large sections at a factory then transported to the site where the home will sit. Once the large pieces have arrived, they are assembled and placed on a foundation that has been poured earlier.

Prefab homes of today are also referred to as modular homes because they can be put together in a variety of ways with as many rooms as you desire.Some of the reasons that prefab homes have become more popular today are because:

Fast Construction

Prefab homes are constructed faster than site-built home, usually within 2 months after placing your finalized order. Because every room is factor-built, the homeowner simply places their order and the home is built and then transported where you want it. A traditional site-built home can take 3 or more months, some can take up to a year.

Because life operates on a whirlwind these days, prefab homes have become just what people want are looking for. They are fast and hassle-free.

Insulated Better

The walls of prefab homes are superior in comparison to traditional site-built houses. Since they are factory built, they are stronger and won’t sag over time like the site-built walls of traditional homes.

Bug Protection

The modules of prefab homes are factory built and treated for bugs. Traditional homes on the other hand, are subject to more bugs because of the time they are exposed to the outdoors while being built. .

Save Money

After prefab homes are built, the homeowner will save on electricity because they are better insulated. Money is also saved on the lumber used because the construction and design costs are reduced a great extent versus the cost of building a traditional home.

Your Design

With prefabricated homes , the homeowner gets to design the home as they want. They can choose how many rooms, how the rooms are positioned with each other as well as the size of the rooms.

Prefab Homes Are Environmentally Friendly

Prefab homes are cause less damage to the environment because they are built from recycled and renewable materials. They don’t use as much energy and the amount of pollution is reduced. This is one of the biggest benefits that people are looking for and turning to prefab homes more each year.

Natural Disasters

Prefabricated homes are built stronger than traditional site-built homes. This is a bonus for anyone, but particularly for those areas that are in hurricanes or tornadoes areas. Prefab homes are an ideal choice because they have shown to withstand violent storms as well as other natural disasters better than a traditional site-built home.
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Green Ways Can Help With Your Food and Cooking This Winter

When winter comes around, it can be easy to get lazy. There is nothing better than to curl up on the sofa, drink hot chocolate and watch movies while we’re munching out on food you’ve been cooking. But that isn’t the healthiest way to live, we all know that. Here, we are going offer you some suggestions and tips on things you can do to keep that healthy summer motivation going all winter:

Get To Those Chores

The more you keep moving around, the more your body temp and heart rate increase. And that movement will keep you warm. If you sit at work, or at home, and start to feel chilly, that is a good indication that you’ve been sitting too long.

Use that as a hint to get up and do something like change bed linens, do a load of laundry, load the dishwasher or figure out what food to start cooking for dinner. These activities will warm you up and you won’t have to turn up the heat. Chores get done and you help the energy bill.
Warm Beverage

Regardless if you enjoy hot chocolate, hot coffee, or a hot toddy, a warm beverage can help warm you up from the inside out. Stock up on various flavors of tea if you’re not a hot chocolate, hot coffee or hot toddy person. Tea has proven to reduce cancer and is healthy for the heart. Match up your hot beverage with some delicious food that you’ve been cooking while you’re warming up – Another double duty activity!
Be Choosy With Materials

If your home has bare floors, purchase area rugs to warm your tootsies. Buy flannel sheets for your bed and heavy curtains that will minimize drafts. Keep the Afghans and throw blankets handy for snuggling.
Hot Water Bottles

Back in the day, hot water bottles to keep warm at night. Those folks knew what they were doing! You can find stylish hot water bottles today and with those keeping you warm for hours, you won’t need the thermostat cranked up high.
Spice Things Up

Prepare spicy dishes and they will warm you up from the inside out. Spices like black pepper, cardamom, cinnamon, garlic and ginger are great. Stock up on food like nuts and nut butter, perfect for regulating body temps. Make a pot of homemade soup or stew and have it ready when the kids come in from building snowmen and snowboarding.

Yes, even indoors, you can exercise and you don’t have to buy fancy in-home gym equipment. The internet has sites that can provide you an exercise regimen to use. When you’re exercising, you’re moving and as we stated earlier, movement will warm you up!

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