Wednesday, January 14, 2015

New Year’s Resolution: Save Energy (and Money!)

The new year is a great time for starting fresh and creating healthy new habits. But while temperatures  are dropping and rich, hearty meals are calling, maybe it is best to delay that jogging and salad regimen for warmer days, and focus instead on a positive change for both the earth and your wallet - saving energy.

Here are a few ways you can save energy and create a healthier future for yourself, your family, and the environment.

1.     Make an investment in alternative energy. 2015 is the time to invest in alternative energy: the price of solar energy has been steadily and steeply dropping over the last forty years (the cost in dollars per watt is now 100 times less expensive than it was 20 years ago). If you have been considering investing in solar for years, but have been afraid of the up front cost, consider a small, portable system like the SUNRNR portable solar generator. Much less expensive than a full set of solar panels, this versatile system can expand over time as you slowly reduce dependence on the grid. (As a bonus, you will be the envy of the neighborhood when the winter storms hit and you are able to run your appliances using the SUNRNR solar generator).

2.     Drive less. Fuel costs will not drop forever - the best way to reduce dependence on gas and oil is to drive less and focus on increasing healthy transportation alternatives like biking and walking. Another great way to reduce your driving time is to batch all trips that require a car into one outing. It requires a bit of planning, but it sure beats spending a beautiful Saturday criss-crossing all over town in a car. Do you live in a city and need your car to commute? Look for car-sharing options.

3.     Waste less at home. Over time, little reductions in energy use can translate into BIG savings. Zero Waste Home is an excellent resource for ideas on how to save energy throughout the home. Especially helpful is the “store” page with links to gadgets like this $7 faucet attachment that reduces water flow by 77% and this electricity usage monitor  that lets you know how much power appliances are drawing even when they are idle.

Cheers to a great new year! 

Blog contributor Jenna Clarke

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

SUNRNR Celebrates 10 Years--Part 2 "Introducing a New Energy Product to the Public"

As SUNRNR celebrates its 10-year anniversary providing high-quality, portable solar generators throughout the United States and around the world, we talked to their team about what has kept them in business all these years and their exciting plans for the future. (See Part 1 of the story HERE.)
Scott and Jenny demonstrate a SUNRNR
After nearly five years of research, development, and field-testing, it was time to bring the SUNRNR original portable solar generator to the public. For Phase 2 of the project, Alan would need a team. In 2008, Jenny and Scott French joined SUNRNR. With backgrounds in engineering (Jenny) and business (Scott), the duo began the challenging process of marketing, selling, and distributing a brand-new product from an industry still not well understood by the general public.
What about SUNRNR inspired you to get involved?
Jenny: We believed in the product and trusted Alan – he is a genius in the world of power.
Explain the manufacturing process:
Scott: The learning curve was huge - we were a little naïve in the beginning. Jenny and I spent much time getting a better understanding of the product and all its applications and we participated in assembly while buying and documenting the parts involved. I talk to every customer and/or their dealer and we have had our ears to the ground as to further development of the product according to what customers are looking for.
Why has the SUNRNR been around for 10 years?
Jenny: We have seen other products come and go over the last five years. Many entered, but few are getting past "shake-out" or they are not in the same class as SUNRNR. Our product is an investment - the best of class available and a level above the competition in quality, reliability, design, and system specifications. Scott:  Simply put, the SUNRNR is the best watts per dollar product available.
Jenny:  We also spend a lot of time on customer support - many of our recent sales have been repeat customers adding on to their systems. We’ve never had a customer return a SUNRNR.  We would rather not make a sale than have an unsatisfied or over-expectant customer.
How can SUNRNR act as an “entry level solar system” for homeowners?
Scott: The SUNRNR is a generation/storage/output system for electricity. It gathers solar (or wind) energy and stores it to be used at any time – even at night. Because it is small-scale and transportable, it is a convenient and affordable way to add renewable energy to your home and begin reducing energy costs and reliance on the grid. The versatility and expandability of the system make a SUNRNR an excellent way for homeowners to get started without the expense of a major installation. 
What are some of the unique uses SUNRNR customers have discovered?
Jenny:  The majority use them to offset daily grid usage while awaiting a backup power role, but people use them on farms, in greenhouses, for well pumps, cabins, and on construction sites. We’ve had customers from colleges, music festivals, camps and many, many more. James Madison University Wind Center is currently using a small prototype as an electric bike charging station.
Explain why SUNRNR is called the “Cadillac of portable solar generators”
Scott: I think of it more as the “pickup truck of solar generators.” It’s made for anybody. Yes, high-line in quality and some might say cost, but Audi in construction, Tesla in eco-friendliness, Subaru in durability, Jeep in capability, and Model T in simplicity yet effectiveness.
What has been the best part about being involved with SUNRNR?
Jenny: The people we meet. They are diverse – capable, educated either in life or in school, and sometimes wonderfully wacky. Always interesting.
What is in the future for SUNRNR?
Jenny: Now that SUNRNRs are proven, we are in our next phase - we understand more about the market and will incorporate what we’ve learned. Certain related technologies such as battery storage are changing quickly.  We also feel the product has great potential internationally and are looking to increase sales in countries where residents could benefit from a system like this.  A useful yellow box in every house, garage, pickup truck, or outbuilding!

Interview by Jenna Clarke