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Bahamas | 41 Posts
Foodie Find | 4 Posts
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June
23

Achieving a lush, healthy lawn in our tropical climate, almost seems a no-brainer. Warmer climates however, place unique demands on yards and gardens. Sunnier, high-humidity environments like ours result in faster plant growth than in relatively cooler parts of the world; but watching your grass grow and grow and grow can be just as problematic and watching it dry off and die. Extreme humidity, intense heat, and heavy rains are other issues that frequently plague tropical climate lawns and other plants. To ensure your lawn does not resemble a jungle, it is important for maintain regular pruning and other upkeep, throughout the year.

 

During the hot humid months, from April through to October, lawns are in their element as regular summer storms bring torrential rain. This usually means lush green leaf growth that, at times, appears to be out of control. Good lawn maintenance can keep this rapid growth period at bay as well as maintain a green, healthy lawn during the cooler months.

An important part of lawn maintenance is checking the pH of your lawn during the wet season. Fertilizing is not recommended at that time, as it will promote vigorous leaf growth, which, for now, is not necessary. More than likely, you will already be watching your lawn grow before your eyes yet be unable to mow due to the rain. Instead, you can apply lime and gypsum to the soil as these acts as a soil conditioner and keeps the pH up. Due to the region's high rainfall, soils can become very acidic which can affect the health of the plant growth. The addition of lime to your yard care routine, maintains a good pH balance and promotes the uptake of soil nutrients. Gypsum is a clay breaker. One of the reasons soils is compacted and like concrete in most backyards is due to initial building activity. Usually, much of the topsoil is taken away during home construction and the ground is compacted making it difficult for water to penetrate the soil. Gypsum is good for breaking down clay soils enabling the water to penetrate. 

Another wet-weather-must is to keep lawn mowing equipment in good working order. There is nothing worse when there is a break in the weather, and you are unable to mow because of failing lawn equipment due to poor maintenance. Be prepared by having mowers and other equipment fueled and ready to go. Sharp mower blades are essential to ensure the lawn has a clean, even cut. Unbalanced, blunt blades often leave a yard looking hacked and untidy. The success to an even, tidy lawn is weekly trims in the summer months, whenever possible. This will keep lawn clipping to a minimum. During the cooler and less wet months, mow every two to three weeks to keep the lawns immaculate.

After the wet season around October-November, is the perfect time to apply good a quality slow-release fertilizer to keep the lush growth achieved during the wet season. Once you have applied fertilizer, water in well as this will help keep thick leaf cover, reduce moisture loss, and keep your lawn actively growing. Pull the mower deck up one notch to leave more leaf on the grass, as this will also help reduce moisture loss within the soil.

In November, reapply the slow-release fertilizer before generally cooler temps set in. This is a must-do job as it will keep lawns green and healthy throughout the tropic's mild winter.  Depending on your variety of turf, follow a recommended water schedule; whether weekly or fortnightly. This watering method is better than small top ups every night as it promotes the deep root system growth needed for a healthy lawn.

April is another good time to apply slow-release fertilizer as it will help the recovery from the winter months. Again, a good, deep watering is required. Now is the time to lower the mower deck back to the summer mowing height.

May brings spring and a burst of activity, completing the annual cycle. Birds are building nests; flowers are blooming, and worms are getting ready to launch their attack on lush green lawns. Healthy green lawns are perfect sites for pest eggs. An environmentally safe pesticide should be on hand during springtime to counterattack and ensure a healthy lawn, year-round.

June
9

When discussing energy efficiency, it is common for experts only to consider improving the savings results for homeowners in colder climates. It is a topic that our neighbors to the north and west must give consideration as most energy needs will increase when temperatures begin to fall. Having an energy efficient home, however, is also incredibly important in warmer climates. With the proper energy-saving strategies and smart design choices, Bahamian homes can become just as energy efficient as those in other regions.

BUILDING DESIGN & LAYOUT CONSIDERATIONS

For the highest energy efficiency, a home should be designed from the ground up with respect to how the light and other natural elements will affect energy needs. For example, West and East facing glass windows and doors can have about five times the heat gain of north-facing glass. For the most favorable outcome, a home should be constructed so that windows are positioned within 20 degrees of North or South, wherever possible. Choosing colors for your home, that are reflective as opposed to absorbent for roofing and siding can also help to control the heat inside the home.

SMART LANDSCAPING

Landscaping should be planned to work with the design elements of the home. Where there are windows or doors installed on the west or east sides of a house, trees and shrubs can be positioned to block the sun at the hottest times of the day.

Shady trees also work well for controlling heat gains in the home. During the warmest months, the trees will have leaves and block out sunlight. During the cooler months, the trees will lose leaves and allow greater heat gains. Shrubs and trees can also shade pavement so that sunlight is not reflected indoors.

CONSTRUCTION ELEMENTS

Materials selected for the walls, floors, and roof, the type of windows and doors, and many other construction elements can all have a major impact on home energy efficiency. Materials with low heat conductivity should always be used and be thick enough to keep out any unwanted heat. Windows should be shaded or tinted to keep out the heat as much as possible, possibly even using a recessed window design for consistency. Ceramic tile floors are best for energy efficiency in hot climates, with carpeting typically raising the average temperature inside the home.

INSULATION FOR SAVINGS

Proper insulation is important for hot climate energy efficiency. About two inches of foam insulation is generally sufficient to help keep heat gains out and keep cool air inside. A carefully sealed building is of utmost importance.

ENERGY STAR APPLIANCES

Investing in Energy Star appliances boosts your home's energy efficiency. There are other ways to reduce energy expenses with your current appliances, as well. The refrigerator is often the leading energy user among a home's appliances, so it must operate efficiently.

ADJUST TEMPERATURE SETTINGS

The smallest temperature changes can greatly impact your home's energy efficiency. Adjust the thermostat to 68 degrees or lower on cooler days, and 78 degrees or higher during the summer so that you use less energy.

ADJUST WATER HEATER SETTINGS

This is typically something homeowners do not consider doing. However, this small change can go a long way in saving you money. A maximum temperature of 120 degrees is adequate for most homes. This prevents accidental scalding and is proven to slow the buildup of minerals in your water heater tank.

ADJUST REFRIGERATOR SETTINGS

The temperature of the refrigerator itself should be set to 35°-38°F, and the freezer to 0° F. The refrigerator is often the leading energy user among a home's appliances, so it must operate efficiently. Keep the door closed as often as possible. Check the door seals to ensure they are tight and secure. If a dollar bill placed between the door gaskets slips out easily, the seal is not as tight as it should be. Consider replacing it.

UNPLUG ELECTRONICS WHEN NOT IN USE

Always remember to unplug rarely used appliances to decrease energy usage around the house. Unplugging electronics like charging devices for phones, tablets, and digital cameras can increase your energy efficiency. Using a power strip with an on/off switch makes it easy to decrease electricity use by powering off multiple electronics at once.

Beyond construction, landscaping choices, and other big-ticket items, there are many ways homeowners can save. Lowering your energy bill can be accomplished by improving the energy efficiency of your home. Simple lifestyle changes go a long way to impact and improve your bottom line. When followed consistently, these practices could lead to substantial energy savings and lower utility bills. Making use of the strategies outlined above will help you and your family to live more energy efficient and boost the savings you see on your monthly energy bill.

 

April
21

Earth Day is tomorrow, and the global theme is Restore our Earth, which focuses on natural processes, emerging green technologies, and innovative thinking that can restore the world's ecosystems. With almost 365 days of sunshine along our shores, as a nation, we are in a unique position when it comes to benefitting from renewable and solar energy. As we expand our horizons, we are increasingly moving towards environmentally-friendly technologies and ways to reduce energy consumption, save on costs, and increase our sustainability practices. 

 

At Home

Our homes today are relying more on solar-powered technologies. Existing residences are swapping out the old with the new where they can, and new residential builds are incorporating these capabilities from the ground-up. 

While some are installing state-of-the-art solar energy systems, like this Turnberry home, others are introducing this technology in smaller doses to save on electricity bills and to cut back on their carbon footprint. Today, we have a host of options ranging from a solar panel for hot water or air conditioner to solar-powered sprinkler systems and outdoor lights for your yard. Even something as simple as swapping out those regular light bulbs for LED ones can help! Regardless of your budget, there are ways you can save!

 

For your Business

Across the country, many of our businesses have also started making the transition to more sustainable energy solutions - some in small ways, by changing out light bulbs to LED, replacing HVAC units with energy-efficient ones, and having programmable thermostats in offices. Others have adapted on a larger scale, with whole energy management systems and solar power systems. Going green with your business can help you cut costs on energy, but it can also have a positive impact when it comes to your company name and community relations. 

 

For us All 

On a larger scale, we've seen many initiatives unfold over the last several years to increase our green living as a country.

In 2013, the National Energy Policy was developed to connect the energy and economic sectors and create opportunities to use renewable energy in as many areas nationwide as possible. Policies outlined in the National Energy Policy pave the way toward achieving renewable energy targets for 2033, including the use of renewable energy in:

  • Transport: discouragement of inefficient motor vehicles, lowering import duties on electric and hybrid cars, encouragement of carpooling, and implementation of "effective mass public transit transport system" among other initiatives.
  • Construction, housing, offices, and hotels: energy-efficiency building code standards which include the use of efficient lighting, sustainable materials, energy-efficient building code standards. Considerations for providing incentives for constructing carbon-neutral buildings.
  • Finance: Finance ministry to develop and implement incentive programs and fiscal measures to support investment in modern facilities, infrastructure in the energy sector.

Some of these initiatives exist today, with the plans implemented and off the ground: 

Thomas A. Robinson Solar Parking Lot

In 2019, the Thomas A. Robinson National stadium officially unveiled its solar parking lot. The 925-kilowatt grid-tied solar system will displace 310 thousand liters of diesel fuel annually, which should save the island 350 thousand dollars and offset 856 tons of carbon emissions annually. The lot has 324 parking stations and an additional two electric car charge ports for electric vehicles.  

Family Island Solar Program

Bahamas Power & Light (BPL) launched the Family Island Solar Program with support from the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) and Carbon War Room's Islands Energy Program. This program proposes to develop "solar-fueled power systems" on the Family Islands of Andros, Bimini, Eleuthera, and Inagua with hopes of meeting 30% of the electricity by the year 2030. 

 

On the Horizon

Good news for our family, friends, and customers in Abaco and Grand Bahama! According to a report released by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the initial funding for electricity restoration on islands hit by Hurricane Dorian has been bolstered by the receipt of $9.739m in grant funding from the EU's Caribbean Investment Facility. The even better news is that this restoration is set to produce a 50 percent increase in renewable energy installed and battery storage capacity for additional resilience. Some of this funding is set to be allocated to installing a 4 megawatt (MW) solar photovoltaic (PV) plant and energy storage, which will supply energy to the Marsh Harbour government complex and the Marsh Harbour's hospital. In Cooper's Town, the medical clinic will have a Solar PV plant of approximately 0.25 MW, including a storage capacity of close to 2 MW.

In New Providence, this funding will also be used to subsidize rooftop solar PV installations for a total additional renewable energy capacity of 2.5 MW. This will involve five commercial and 50 residential installations of 50 kilowatts (kW) and 5Kw, respectively, plus 20 systems for community buildings with a 100 kW capacity.

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