Sustainable Myths Debunked!
Sustainable living—from solar-powered homes to recycled products—is still relatively new to most people… but that’s changing fast. Take a look at this quick rundown of myth vs. fact:
Myth #1: “LED technology is so new and expensive.”
FACT: Electroluminescence was first discovered in 1907 by the British experimenter H. J. Round. Then in the mid 1920’s, Russian Oleg Vladimirovich Losev independently created the first LED (Light Emitting Diode); his research was distributed in Russian, German and British scientific journals, but no practical use was made of the discovery until 1961.
FACT: If you look at the initial investment on high-quality LED’s, the cost may seem outrageous. However, if you calculate over time the cost of bulb replacement, maintenance, and electricity usage, you will quickly find that LED’s will pay for themselves in 4-5 years, or in some commercial settings, months.
Myth #2: “Don’t LED lights contain hazardous components?”
FACT: LED’s do not contain mercury, lead, or other hazardous materials. Also, they are fully recyclable. Most of our LED lights are composed of over 70% aluminium, so they can be taken in by metal recycling facilities. Compact Fluorescents on the other hand are very hazardous. One CFL contains enough mercury to contaminate a two-acre lake, and these bulbs must be taken to hazardous waste facilities to be properly disposed of.
Myth #3: “Solar power means freezing in the dark.”
FACT: It’s unfortunate that with one infamous quote, Ronald Regan maligned the entire history of solar power without knowing any of the facts. A straw bale house built outside Amherst Wisconsin using purely solar heat had a room temperature that never dropped below 72 degrees Fahrenheit… despite the air temperature dropping down to 30 degrees below zero. The same house also has a net electric bill of… zero. Thanks to the solar-electrical panels installed on the home.
Myth #4: “Solar power doesn’t work on cloudy days.”
FACT: Even under the thickest cloud cover, solar panels still generate around 10% power.
Myth #5: “Solar power doesn’t work in winter—especially in Minnesota. The panels are covered with snow!”
FACT: Snow will shed off a properly pitched panel in approximately 4 hours on a sunny day. Ramy Selim, owner of Sunny Day Earth Solutions says: “Last winter my solar collector shed a twenty-four-inch snowfall in less than a day.”
In addition, solar actually works better in the winter: while the hours of daylight are reduced, so is the angle of sunlight resulting in a lower-temperature panel. (Solar panels function better and more efficiently when they themselves are at a lower temperature.)
Myth #6: “Solar power isn’t enough to heat water.”
FACT: Solar water collectors can reach 300 degrees Fahrenheit in summer and 160 degrees Fahrenheit in winter. Proper hot water temperature for home use fluctuates between 90 and 115 degrees Fahrenheit — well within the range of a solar-powered water heater.
Myth #7: “OK. But tankless water heaters don’t work as well as my regular water heater.”
FACT: Most 40-gallon tank water heaters have a 35-45 minute recovery rate and are capable of producing 1.1 gallons of hot water per minute. But there are tankless (on demand) water heaters currently available that will produce 3.3 – 7.5 gallons per minute. So in the same 35-minute cycle as a normal water heater, you can produce 115.5 – 262.5 gallons, considerably more hot water!And no stand by losses (not heating water when not needed)
Myth #8: “Enough with this hippy, renewable energy stuff! I’m gonna stick with coal and nuclear power.”
- For every 10 pounds of coal burned, 20 pounds of greenhouse gasses are expelled into the air.
- For example, in Wisconsin, in 2004, for every $10 paid for electricity, 100 pounds of coal were mined and burned.
- 100 pounds of burned coal produce 200 pounds of greenhouse gasses.
- 200 pounds of greenhouse gasses can hang around into the atmosphere for 100 years
- The small particles of coal and waste matter from this process can lodge in your lungs, and is linked to 10,000 deaths annually.
- It’s not accurate to say that nuclear is a clean power source. A spill or meltdown would be absolutely fatal to the local population and very damaging to the earth. Think of Chernobyl.
- Not a single private insurance company will insure a nuclear plant.
- Nuclear and coal plants need to be built at great expense while wind and solar power is easily tied in to currently existing infrastructures!
- Wind and solar are completely clean sources of power: zero pollution.
- Wind and solar energy is dramatically cleaner and can power the country!
- Wind is now the cheapest form of energy available.