End of Fixer Upper got you down? This will help.

Last week was a very sad day in my house. We laughed. We cried. We wondered how we ever lived without knowing what shiplap is. Our favorite show, Fixer Upper, ended.

But ...

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End of Fixer Upper got you down? This will help.

In honor of Chip and Joanna I’m going to get my hands dirty and plant a landscape worthy of even a Waco Tudor.

Key Points

  • Joanna Gaines was my best friend and I’m going to miss her.
  • In honor of Fixer Upper, I’m going to fix up my landscaping.
  • Good landscaping can help you mourn Fixer Upper AND save energy.

Last week was a very sad day in my house. We laughed. We cried. We wondered how we ever lived without knowing what shiplap is. Our favorite show, Fixer Upper, ended.

But through the tears we will persevere.

In honor of Chip and Joanna I’m going to get my hands dirty and plant a landscape worthy of even a Waco Tudor.

If you also need some Fixer Upper therapy, check out these landscaping tips to ease your heartache and save on your energy bill while you’re at it.

Trees

According to the Department of Energy, carefully positioned trees can save up to 25% of the energy a typical household uses by providing shade and acting as a windbreak. In tree-shaded neighborhoods the summer daytime air temperature can be up to 6 degrees cooler than in treeless areas. And windbreaks to the north, west and east of houses cut fuel consumption by an average of 40 percent.

Shrubs

Groundcover plants like succulents and shrubs can cool the air before it reaches your home in the summer. Low shrubs on the windward side of your windbreak can also help trap snow before it blows next to your home in the winter.

Climbing vines

Consider shading your patio or deck with a trellis covered in climbing vines. It will help keep your outdoor living space cool, and cut down on the warm air that sneaks inside.

Need even more inspiration? Here’s a slideshow of 31 Fixer Upper-inspired curb appeal ideas to get you going. Now please pass the tissue (sniff, sniff).


Sarah FolslandSarah is mom to the two cutest little girls in the entire world. Before choosing to make changing diapers and reading bed time stories her full time gig, she earned an M.A. in Political Science from The University of South Dakota, worked in the Governor’s Office as a policy analyst and dabbled in communications at her local utility. Follow Sarah on Twitter @EnergyMommy.

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Three things we can learn about saving energy from Major League Baseball

Last week marked a true sign of spring: Major League Baseball’s opening day. The national past time can teach us all a few game-winning strategies to save some money on our utility ...

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Three things we can learn about saving energy from Major League Baseball

Forming good habits can help you win at saving energy.

Key Points

  • It’s officially baseball season.
  • Like a good team, we can use winning strategies to save money at home.
  • Know your weak spots, be smart with your home’s MVPs, and practice good energy savings tactics.

Last week marked a true sign of spring: Major League Baseball’s opening day. The national past time can teach us all a few game-winning strategies to save some money on our utility bills.

  1. Know your weak spots – Just like a good coach knows where more training is needed on the team, a good homeowner needs to be aware of where a home might be prone to losing at the energy savings game. A good place to find out where your home could improve is by using the ENERGY STAR Home Energy Yardstick. The quick assessment will give you a score and a breakdown on what your home consumes the most energy for, like heating and cooling versus things like appliances, lighting and hot water. Check it out here.
  2. Be smart with your MVPs – Your home has its own Paul Goldschmidts and Mike Trouts (confession: I had to Google “2018 MLB MVP predictions” and have no idea who either of those guys are, but I like pretending like I do). The most valuable players in your house are the tactics that can save you the most energy. It varies from home to home, but likely contenders for the title are sealing up the leaks in your home, adding insulation in the attic and installing energy efficient lighting. Here’s a good place to find tips to up your energy savings game at home.
  3. Practice makes perfect – Forming good habits can help you win at saving energy. Set your thermostat as high as you comfortably can in the summer, use a programmable thermostat, replace your air filters and turn off the lights. These and other every day practices can add up to big savings. Find more simple ways to save this spring and summer here.

Now pass the peanuts and Cracker Jacks. I’m rooting for the home team.


Sarah FolslandSarah is mom to the two cutest little girls in the entire world. Before choosing to make changing diapers and reading bed time stories her full time gig, she earned an M.A. in Political Science from The University of South Dakota, worked in the Governor’s Office as a policy analyst and dabbled in communications at her local utility. Follow Sarah on Twitter @EnergyMommy.

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Eat the chocolate. Save the energy.

Ah, Easter. That wonderful time of year when we give thanks for new life, reflect on amazing grace and mercy, and eat our weight in chocolate. #grateful.

My daughters and ...

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Eat the chocolate. Save the energy.

Chocolate easter bunnies

It turns out eating a couple feet of chocolate bunny could be a good way to help save energy.

Key Points

  • Eating chocolate can actually save energy. Really.
  • Hershey’s is a good example of a company making energy efficiency a priority.
  • We can prioritize our own energy efficiency efforts by completing a home energy audit.

Ah, Easter. That wonderful time of year when we give thanks for new life, reflect on amazing grace and mercy, and eat our weight in chocolate. #grateful.

My daughters and I were at the store the other day when my three-year-old spotted a chocolate bunny that was as tall as she is. She’s only a couple feet tall, but it was still quite impressive. And sure, I could take that bunny down during one viewing of “Ben-Hur”, but that’s just because I’m really committed to Easter.

It turns out eating a couple feet of chocolate bunny could be a good way to help save energy. Sidenote: This is the part where I use the same reasoning for energy efficiency as I use on my accountant husband when I try to convince him that I “saved” our family lots of money by cashing in on Black Friday deals every November. No matter what he says, this reasoning is sound. Promise.

The bunny we spotted was made by Hershey’s. And it just so happens that Hershey’s is committed to saving energy. The company manufactures a lot of treats, and that manufacturing process presents a lot of ways to innovate and use less energy. Specifically, Hershey’s is updating its lighting to be more energy efficient and using machinery that uses less energy. Recently, Hershey’s remodeled its historic original factory building into office space. The end result is a Gold LEED Certified building (that means it earned lots of points for using energy-saving measures in the space and they get a certificate to prove it).

So similar to how “the more I spend the more we save” on Black Friday, the more chocolate bunny I consume, the more energy Hershey’s saves during its energy efficient manufacturing process.  See how that works?

But it doesn’t stop there. After eating the entire chocolate bunny, I’ll feel inspired to save energy in my own home. And with three pounds of sugar pumping through my veins, I’ll have the energy to do things like conduct a home energy audit like this one offered by my local utility, Black Hills Energy.

So there you have it. Eating a chocolate bunny is the right thing to do for the love of Easter and to save energy. Happy noshing.


Sarah FolslandSarah is mom to the two cutest little girls in the entire world. Before choosing to make changing diapers and reading bed time stories her full time gig, she earned an M.A. in Political Science from The University of South Dakota, worked in the Governor’s Office as a policy analyst and dabbled in communications at her local utility. Follow Sarah on Twitter @EnergyMommy.

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Clean all the things! And save energy while you’re at it

I’m sure you remember that moment as a child. The air shifts. The sun shines. A bird chirps. And then your mom goes on a full out cleaning rampage. You and you siblings scurry ...

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Clean all the things! And save energy while you’re at it

In addition to leaving your house in better shape, spring-cleaning mania can help us on our energy bills.

Key Points

  • Spring cleaning can save energy.
  • Dusting helps your electronics run more efficiently.
  • Changing your AC filters and cleaning your refrigerator coils reduce energy use.

I’m sure you remember that moment as a child. The air shifts. The sun shines. A bird chirps. And then your mom goes on a full out cleaning rampage. You and you siblings scurry to hide all your toys before they get caught up in the cleaning frenzy and delivered to Goodwill.  

Yes. It is officially spring. And it’s time to get our spring cleaning on.

Nothing is safe in the wake of my spring cleaning binger. Not a crumb will go unswept, shelf undusted or random puzzle piece left behind. Mr. Potatohead set with only one arm and an ear left? You’re out of here.

In addition to leaving your house in better shape, this yearly cleaning mania can help us on our energy bills. Here’s how:

  • Dusting - Cleaning off your electronics can lead to energy kgrlhdfljhdfljgdvings. All that grime can make your devices work a little harder – and pull more energy – to do their jobs.
  • Checking the vents - Don’t forget to tackle your vents to make sure air can circulate around your house easily. Easier air flow will help your furnace and AC run more efficiently.  
  • Changing filters - Check your furnace filter at least once a month to make sure it’s not full of dust and slowing your heater down. And while you’re at it, check your AC filter now to make sure it’s clean and ready for the warm weather. This helps the air quality in your home, and helps your heating and cooling systems use less energy.
  • Cleaning the fridge - While you have your vacuum out, check your refrigerator coils. If there’s dust built up on them, it’s probably making your fridge work harder to keep your food cold. A quick pass with your vacuum nozzle will do the trick.
  • Cleaning the ceiling fans - While you’re up there dusting, flip the switch to run counter-clockwise for the spring and summer. The added breeze will help your home stay a little cooler without the AC, and save electricity.

Happy cleaning everyone. And good luck saving those toys kids. If I were you, I’d start gathering them for safe keeping now.


Sarah FolslandSarah is mom to the two cutest little girls in the entire world. Before choosing to make changing diapers and reading bed time stories her full time gig, she earned an M.A. in Political Science from The University of South Dakota, worked in the Governor’s Office as a policy analyst and dabbled in communications at her local utility. Follow Sarah on Twitter @EnergyMommy.

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Pretend it’s summer and check out this AC buyers guide

With the official start of Daylight Savings this week, I’m ready to put winter behind me. Call me optimistic, but I’m hoping that daydreaming of swimming pools and sunscreen ...

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Pretend it’s summer and check out this AC buyers guide

Woman adjusting air conditioner

Beyond shopping for sandals, another way we can wish summer into existence is to plan for how we’ll cool our homes when the heat comes.

Key Points

  • Winter is almost over and all I want to think about is summer.  
  • If you’re considering a room air conditioner for the coming heat, make sure to get the right one for the space to avoid wasting energy.
  • Also make sure and use it correctly. Bad installation can be a recipe for an energy wasting disaster.

With the official start of Daylight Savings this week, I’m ready to put winter behind me. Call me optimistic, but I’m hoping that daydreaming of swimming pools and sunscreen while online shopping for flip flops will make the warm season come more quickly.

Beyond shopping for sandals, another way we can wish summer into existence is to plan for how we’ll cool our homes when the heat comes. If you don’t have a central air conditioner in your home, you’ll likely turn to a room AC. Check out these tips from ENERGY STAR before heading to the store:

Size your AC for Comfort and Savings

Bigger is not always better! An oversized unit will cool the room, but only remove some of the humidity. This will leave the room with a damp, clammy feeling. A properly sized unit will deliver maximum comfort and savings. Check out this chart to help determine the best size.

Proper AC Installation and Use is the Key to Cool

An improperly installed room air conditioner leaks as much air as a six-square-inch hole, increasing energy costs and making your home less comfortable. Follow these tips to beat the heat:

  • Be sure to follow the instructions and use the insulation materials included with your room air conditioner.
  • Make sure the unit is level so the drainage system works effectively.
  • Don't put lamps or TVs near the AC thermostat as the extra heat will cause it to run longer.
  • Set the thermostat as high as is comfortable, typically 78° F. You'll appreciate the savings.
  • On humid days, set the fan speed low. Slower air movement removes more moisture.
  • Use an extra fan to spread the cooled air around.
  • At the end of the cooling season, if possible, remove the room AC unit to minimize heat loss. Or use an appropriately-sized cover during winter.

Maybe the energy savings from all those good AC techniques will even help me justify buying a new pair of espadrilles.


Sarah FolslandSarah is mom to the two cutest little girls in the entire world. Before choosing to make changing diapers and reading bed time stories her full time gig, she earned an M.A. in Political Science from The University of South Dakota, worked in the Governor’s Office as a policy analyst and dabbled in communications at her local utility. Follow Sarah on Twitter @EnergyMommy.

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Could wireless charging be the secret sauce for electric vehicles?

Electric vehicles have yet to make it to the main stream, but many believe that the industry is about the turn the corner soon. That, in part, is thanks to new advancements in the ...

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Could wireless charging be the secret sauce for electric vehicles?

Wireless charging an electric vehicle

Wireless charging might not be a top factor in the overall decision to make the switch to an electric vehicle, but a feature that adds convenience can only help tip the scales in an EV’s favor.

Key Points

  • Wireless charging could make electric vehicles a more convenient option.
  • Instead of plugging in, EV owners could recharge by parking over a power mat.
  • New technology is making wireless charging more efficient.

Electric vehicles have yet to make it to the main stream, but many believe that the industry is about the turn the corner soon. That, in part, is thanks to new advancements in the tech behind the cars that make them more user friendly.

One of those improvements is wireless charging. Sure, pumping gas is a pain, but making the switch charging your electric vehicle might not add a whole lot of convenience to your life. When you get home, you’ll need to add plugging your car into your routine. That might not seem like a big deal unless you have a crying baby who wants out of the car seat immediately and groceries melting in the trunk that need your attention. Not to mention the next morning when you speed out of your garage and forget that your car is plugged in. Not that any of us would ever do that.

Enter wireless charging technology. A wireless charger would take most of the hassle out of fueling up your vehicle. At home, you’d just need to park your car over a box about the size of a pizza box to begin charging. You could even build the box into your garage floor so it’s not even noticeable.

The same technology could be used at public charging stations, making it even easier for electric vehicle drivers to park and get on their way without having to take the time to plug in before starting the charging process. This could be an especially welcome feature in cold parts of the country where fumbling with a charging cord means more time for your face to hurt in the freezing temperatures.

The most efficient way to charge vehicles wirelessly is using a technology called magnetic resonance. Here's how Fast Company describes the process:

Inside the power mat, a circular coil converts alternating electrical current into magnetic waves. A power amplifier controls the current and the frequency of the waves. Up inside the car, a receiver device situated near the car’s power management system contains another coil that’s tuned to receive magnetic waves at the same frequency as the source coil. The receiver then turns the magnetic energy back into electric current to be stored in the car’s battery.

And here’s the best part: magnetic resonance is efficient, meaning it doesn’t lose a lot of energy when it passes through the air between the power mat and the car. Other approaches, like radio frequency-based systems, would lose about 10 percent of the energy during the charging process compared to magnetic resonance’s seven percent.

There are two main companies who own the rights to the technology, WiTricity and Qualcomm. Right now the Society of Automotive Engineers is working on creating common standards so if you buy an EV with one brand’s wireless device, you can still charge it at a public charging station that happens to use the other brand. Those standards are expected to be ratified this year or next.

Wireless charging might not be a top factor in the overall decision to make the switch to an electric vehicle, but a feature that adds convenience can only help tip the scales in an EV’s favor.


Sarah FolslandSarah is mom to the two cutest little girls in the entire world. Before choosing to make changing diapers and reading bed time stories her full time gig, she earned an M.A. in Political Science from The University of South Dakota, worked in the Governor’s Office as a policy analyst and dabbled in communications at her local utility. Follow Sarah on Twitter @EnergyMommy.

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Five ways to save some money on laundry you might not have considered

I don’t know how it happened, but at some point my daughters started to expect their towels and pajamas to be pre-warmed for them in the dryer every night. So I take their Peppa ...

Tagged: Department of Energy, save energy, clothes dryer

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Five ways to save some money on laundry you might not have considered

Woman reaches in to dryer to retrieve clothes.

I’m pretty sure if the Energy Department knew I was using my clothes dryer to warm Annie’s footsie pajamas before bed, I’d make some sort of watch list.

Key Points

  • The Department of Energy has some new ideas for saving money on each load of laundry.
  • A couple options to save include using dryer balls and switching loads while the dryer is still warm.
  • It’s also a good idea to separate clothes by how heavy they are instead of just by color. Heavier clothes take longer to dry, so you might be using more energy than needed on the light stuff if they’re mixed together. 

I don’t know how it happened, but at some point my daughters started to expect their towels and pajamas to be pre-warmed for them in the dryer every night. So I take their Peppa Pig or Frozen themed flannels out of the drawers each evening, throw them into the dryer, and then present them for use at bedtime. This is then followed by back massages while I sing them personalized original songs highlighting the events of the day. #roughingit.

I know that this miiiiiight be a little extreme. But a recent article at energy.gov got me to thinking about just how much energy I’m wasting every night.

The article highlighted ways to save money on laundry. Some were expected, like wash with cold water, wash full loads, air dry, etc. But there were a few I hadn’t considered before, like these:

  • Use dryer balls. Wool or rubber dryer balls will help separate your clothes and get more air to them, cutting drying time. They can also reduce static so you don’t need dryer sheets. The wool balls are said to absorb some moisture, further cutting drying time.
  • Use the high-speed or extended spin cycle in the washer. This will remove as much moisture as possible before drying, reducing your drying time and the wear on your clothes from the high heat of the dryer.
  • Dry towels and heavier cottons separately from lighter-weight clothes. You’ll spend less time drying the lighter-weight clothes.
  • Switch loads while the dryer is warm. This will allow you to use the remaining heat inside the dryer for the next cycle.
  • Consider a natural gas dryer. Depending on gas and electric rates in your area, a gas dryer could cost less to operate, though it may cost a little more to purchase. Keep in mind a gas dryer does need a dedicated gas line.

I’m pretty sure if the Energy Department knew I was using my clothes dryer to warm Annie’s footsie pajamas before bed, I’d make some sort of watch list. These tips are a good reminder that I need to re-up my energy savings game.

First step: Start to throw the pajamas in at the end of a load of laundry that actually needs some drying.

Second step: Tell the girls that they might have to rough it with room-temperature pajamas from time to time. But don’t worry about them too much – we’ll keep the back massages and serenades in the routine.


Sarah FolslandSarah is mom to the two cutest little girls in the entire world. Before choosing to make changing diapers and reading bed time stories her full time gig, she earned an M.A. in Political Science from The University of South Dakota, worked in the Governor’s Office as a policy analyst and dabbled in communications at her local utility. Follow Sarah on Twitter @EnergyMommy.

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Olympics inspiring you to hit the gym? These gas station fitness centers might help.

Following Shaun White’s recent gold-winning run, my daughters started to do summersaults off the couch, inspired by his frontside double cork 1440.

There’s something ...

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Olympics inspiring you to hit the gym? These gas station fitness centers might help.

Fitness man lifts small dumbbells

Reebok is starting to think about what we’ll do with gas stations if, or when, electric vehicles take over the highways.

Key Points

  • Reebok is trying to figure out what would happen to gas stations if we all drove electric cars.
  • The company developed a plan to turn the stations into fitness hubs.
  • The former pumping stations would pump you up with Crossfit and juice bars. 

Following Shaun White’s recent gold-winning run, my daughters started to do summersaults off the couch, inspired by his frontside double cork 1440.

There’s something about watching the best athletes in the world that makes you want to get off the couch and get active. Not until later in the month of course, when I’m done watching Pyeong Chang and pretending like I know what terms like “frontside double cork 1440” mean.

Someday, fitting some healthy activity into our days might be a little easier, especially during long road trips.

According to Forbes, Reebok is starting to think about what we’ll do with gas stations if, or when, electric vehicles take over the highways. Some studies project there will be 71 million autonomous electric vehicles on the road by 2030.

Reebok led a program called “Get Pumped” to explore the options. The company’s answer is to turn obsolete gas stations into roadside fitness hubs.

Reebok and design firm Gensler developed a plan, and as summarized by Forbes, it would include three health-minded models:

  • The Network: Major interstate-highway rest stops would be turned into full-blown fitness centers where motorists and their passengers can shake off the road trip cobwebs by, say, running, spinning, boxing, or taking Crossfit classes while they replenish their vehicles’ batteries.
  • The Oasis: Larger gas stations adjacent to smaller local highways would become “recharge zones” to offer those with grueling commutes a mental and physical respite via yoga and meditation pods, and meet their nutritional needs via a juice bar and a farm-to-table restaurant.
  • The Community Center: Smaller gas stations could be transformed into mini-facilities that address local residents’ needs. For example, the former repair shop section of the building could be converted into an area for teaching nutrition classes, while the mini-mart can be reconfigured to sell local healthy food, and pop-up facilities can be employed for Crossfit and spinning classes.

Who knows? By the 2022 Olympics all these road side workouts could have me in good enough shape to take on an athletically challenging Olympic sport like curling. I just happen to already own these pants, so I’ll fit right in.


Sarah FolslandSarah is mom to the two cutest little girls in the entire world. Before choosing to make changing diapers and reading bed time stories her full time gig, she earned an M.A. in Political Science from The University of South Dakota, worked in the Governor’s Office as a policy analyst and dabbled in communications at her local utility. Follow Sarah on Twitter @EnergyMommy.

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Solar shepherd is a real job, and could help save solar farms money

My five-year-old wants to be a mommy/accountant/ballerina/civil engineer/deli worker when she grows up. Lean in, girl. Lean. In.

While her list of career aspirations is ...

Tagged: solar, renewable energy, vegetation management, solar farm

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Solar shepherd is a real job, and could help save solar farms money

There’s a growing trend with solar farms, and it could save ewe some money.

Key Points

  • Vegetation management is a major expense for solar farms.
  • Instead of paying someone to mow the grass, many solar farms are recruiting sheep to do the job.
  • This helps lower costs for energy companies, and helps farmers earn new income. 

My five-year-old wants to be a mommy/accountant/ballerina/civil engineer/deli worker when she grows up. Lean in, girl. Lean. In.

While her list of career aspirations is growing, I might introduce her to a new job gaining in popularity: the solar shepherd.

Yep, there’s a growing trend with solar farms, and it could save ewe some money (sorry, I had to).

Keeping the grass, weeds and other vegetation cut around solar farms is a major operating expense for solar energy producers. If vegetation gets out of control, it could twist around the solar panel wiring, or simply get so tall that it blocks the sun and hinders solar energy output.

Traditional mowers have usually done the job, but an alternative is becoming more popular – sheep.

Many solar farms just happen to be in rural areas where farmers already live and work. And having a local farmer graze sheep around the solar panels is a win-win. The farmers get a place to graze their sheep and make some extra income, and the energy producers save on vegetation management costs.

According to a recent article in Smithsonian Magazine, in North Carolina – the nation’s second largest solar energy producer behind California – a company called Sun Raised Farms has contracted with energy producers throughout the state to maintain solar farms including using grazing to help keep the vegetation in check and only mow when grazing isn’t an option.

Solar shepherds are becoming so popular that North Carolina State University hosts solar shepherding ag seminars, and is now considering creating an entire academic program focused on sheep grazing solar farms.

I’ll see if my daughter wants to add solar shepherd to her list. And down the road, if you happen to need a talented dancer who can also do your taxes, design a bridge and make you a sandwich with kids and sheep in tow, I know just the gal.


Sarah FolslandSarah is mom to the two cutest little girls in the entire world. Before choosing to make changing diapers and reading bed time stories her full time gig, she earned an M.A. in Political Science from The University of South Dakota, worked in the Governor’s Office as a policy analyst and dabbled in communications at her local utility. Follow Sarah on Twitter @EnergyMommy.

Did you like this article? Here are some other articles that include: solar, renewable energy, vegetation management, solar farm

Energy Tip

KEEP THE AIR CIRCULATING.

Install an attic ventilator. An attic ventilating system draws cool air up through the house and may provide as much comfort as an air conditioner at a much lower cost. Use the system to "pump in" cool air during summer evenings.

Solar shepherd is a real job, and could help save solar farms money

My five-year-old wants to be a mommy/accountant/ballerina/civil engineer/deli worker when she grows up. Lean in, girl. Lean. In.

While her list of career aspirations is ...

Tagged:

Expand Article

Solar shepherd is a real job, and could help save solar farms money

There’s a growing trend with solar farms, and it could save ewe some money.

Key Points

  • Vegetation management is a major expense for solar farms.
  • Instead of paying someone to mow the grass, many solar farms are recruiting sheep to do the job.
  • This helps lower costs for energy companies, and helps farmers earn new income. 

My five-year-old wants to be a mommy/accountant/ballerina/civil engineer/deli worker when she grows up. Lean in, girl. Lean. In.

While her list of career aspirations is growing, I might introduce her to a new job gaining in popularity: the solar shepherd.

Yep, there’s a growing trend with solar farms, and it could save ewe some money (sorry, I had to).

Keeping the grass, weeds and other vegetation cut around solar farms is a major operating expense for solar energy producers. If vegetation gets out of control, it could twist around the solar panel wiring, or simply get so tall that it blocks the sun and hinders solar energy output.

Traditional mowers have usually done the job, but an alternative is becoming more popular – sheep.

Many solar farms just happen to be in rural areas where farmers already live and work. And having a local farmer graze sheep around the solar panels is a win-win. The farmers get a place to graze their sheep and make some extra income, and the energy producers save on vegetation management costs.

According to a recent article in Smithsonian Magazine, in North Carolina – the nation’s second largest solar energy producer behind California – a company called Sun Raised Farms has contracted with energy producers throughout the state to maintain solar farms including using grazing to help keep the vegetation in check and only mow when grazing isn’t an option.

Solar shepherds are becoming so popular that North Carolina State University hosts solar shepherding ag seminars, and is now considering creating an entire academic program focused on sheep grazing solar farms.

I’ll see if my daughter wants to add solar shepherd to her list. And down the road, if you happen to need a talented dancer who can also do your taxes, design a bridge and make you a sandwich with kids and sheep in tow, I know just the gal.


Sarah FolslandSarah is mom to the two cutest little girls in the entire world. Before choosing to make changing diapers and reading bed time stories her full time gig, she earned an M.A. in Political Science from The University of South Dakota, worked in the Governor’s Office as a policy analyst and dabbled in communications at her local utility. Follow Sarah on Twitter @EnergyMommy.

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Electric vehicles feeling the love

It’s the season for love, and electric vehicles are definitely feeling some.

That’s in part due to a new study that says electric vehicles cost less than half as much ...

Tagged: EV, Electric Vehicles, valentines day, gas, save money

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Electric vehicles feeling the love

Electric vehicles feeling the love

Electric vehicles have a long way to go before they’re mainstream, but more news like this might push more drivers to ask EV’s to “be mine” this Valentine’s Day.

Key Points

  • A new study shows that electric vehicles are cheaper to operate than gas-powered vehicles.
  • The study focuses on fuel costs.
  • On average, an electric vehicle costs $485 per year to operate, and a gas-powered one costs $1,117.

It’s the season for love, and electric vehicles are definitely feeling some.

That’s in part due to a new study that says electric vehicles cost less than half as much to operate as gas-powered vehicles.

The University of Michigan study broke down the fuel costs state by state and found that no matter where you live in the U.S., an electric vehicle (EV) is going to be cheaper to operate. On average, it costs $485 to fuel an EV and $1,117 to fuel a gas-powered vehicle.

It varies by region and state, but even in a state like Hawaii with high gas prices, the electric costs still came out on top with it costing $1,509 for the gasoline version versus $1,106 for the EV.

Drivers would notice the biggest savings in Washington where electricity is very affordable and gas prices are on the high side of the spectrum. There, the average driver would pay $1,338 for gas for a traditional vehicle or just $372 to charge an electric one each year.

You can check out the breakdown for your state by using the Department of Energy’s interactive eGallon calculator here. An eGallon is a cool way to compare how much it costs in electricity to run your car the same distance a gallon of gas would get you. You can even make it specific to how much you’d save on your daily commute. The Department of Energy’s eGallon calculator was updated in 2018 to reflect current average electric and fuel prices in each state.

Electric vehicles have a long way to go before they’re mainstream, accounting for only one percent of cars sold. But more news like this might push more drivers to ask EV’s to “be mine” this Valentine’s Day.


Sarah FolslandSarah is mom to the two cutest little girls in the entire world. Before choosing to make changing diapers and reading bed time stories her full time gig, she earned an M.A. in Political Science from The University of South Dakota, worked in the Governor’s Office as a policy analyst and dabbled in communications at her local utility. Follow Sarah on Twitter @EnergyMommy.

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How much can replacing your old fridge save you on energy costs?

I was at my friend’s house for her three-year-old’s birthday party the other day.

Theme: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Snacks: Pizza (of course)

Drinks: ...

Tagged: energy star, fridge, refrigerator, rebates, energy efficient, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

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How much can replacing your old fridge save you on energy costs?

Replacing your old fridge can save you money

If your fridge is more than 10 years old, you could save more than $200 over the next five years by replacing it with a new ENERGY STAR approved one.

Key Points

  • Replacing an old fridge can save you money on your utilities.
  • If your fridge is more than 10 years old, it could save you $270 over the next five years on energy costs.
  • Many utilities also offer rebates for recycling your old model. 

I was at my friend’s house for her three-year-old’s birthday party the other day.

Theme: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Snacks: Pizza (of course)

Drinks: Sewer slime (don’t ask)

Activities: Getting all the bad guys

Discussion: Refrigerators

As the parents gathered in the kitchen to escape the mayhem, my friends started talking about how they want to replace their old fridge with a new one, and that hopefully the energy savings would pay off.

So, in the spirit of the Turtles, here’s an Energy Ninja analysis:

  • According to the Department of Energy, if your fridge is more than 10 years old, you could save $270 over the next five years by replacing it with a new ENERGY STAR approved one.
  • To make the deal even sweeter, many utilities offer rebates for recycling your old one. Make sure to talk with your utility about local offers. Or, as the Splinter would say “never pay full price for a pizza, or leave rebate money on the table.”
  • Some new features aren’t the most efficient. The good-ol’ freezer on top, fridge on the bottom models generally use less energy than the side-by-side or freezer on the bottom ones. Features like ice makers and water dispensers add to the energy load too.
  • Don’t buy more fridge than you need. Unless you really do have four Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in the house, you could benefit from a smaller – and more efficient – model.

And now the next time you find yourself hiding from a band of toddler ninja turtles, you’ll know exactly what to talk about in your kitchen hideout. Cowabunga dudes.


Sarah FolslandSarah is mom to the two cutest little girls in the entire world. Before choosing to make changing diapers and reading bed time stories her full time gig, she earned an M.A. in Political Science from The University of South Dakota, worked in the Governor’s Office as a policy analyst and dabbled in communications at her local utility. Follow Sarah on Twitter @EnergyMommy.

Did you like this article? Here are some other articles that include: energy star, fridge, refrigerator, rebates, energy efficient, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles