Hi everyone! Michael Gortenburg here! Over the course of my career, I have always put focus on how to make housing more energy-efficient and environmentally friendly.
In 2022, it is easier to make environmentally-friendly changes to your home that will save energy and money. If you dread getting your electric or gas invoice every month, here are a few upgrades you can make to help shrink your bill.
If you are looking for a new way to power your home, consider installing solar panels on the roof of your house. Solar panels convert sunlight and heat into energy and reduce your reliance on the more traditional power grid. You can use the energy directly or store it for later use. While this option can be a bit costly, it is a long-term investment in using a renewable and sustainable resource that will save you considerable money down the line.
LED lights are the most energy-efficient bulbs on the market, so you can have incandescent lighting without the environmental impact. Unlike halogen or CFL bulbs, LED bulbs don’t radiate as much heat. They don’t emit UV rays or contain any toxic materials like mercury. LEDs are also incredibly durable, some even lasting up to 20 years without going out, saving you money every year.
Another must-have piece of green tech for your home is a smart thermostat. As summers get hotter and winters get colder, you may find yourself adjusting your thermostat more and more just to stay comfortable at home. Smart thermostats control the temperature for you, making sure that your home stays the perfect temperature regardless of if you need heat to keep warm or air conditioning to cool off.
Smart Power Strips
We are all familiar with the traditional power strip. You know, the ones that plug all of your cords into a single outlet? If you keep those strips on even when you aren’t using your devices, you might not be thinking about how much energy you’re still using by keeping them plugged in. If this sounds like you, consider switching to a smart power strip. This piece of tech uses a remote to turn off the device and save energy, money, and the environment.
Making your home environmentally friendly is an investment that shouldn’t break the bank. Adding green tech to your house is a simple way to live a more sustainable and energy-efficient life. Do you have any green tech in your home already? Let me know on social media!
Anyone who knows me knows that I have a soft spot for automobiles (you can check out my previous blog on this subject here). I love that each one provides an entirely unique experience. A car doesn’t need to be fast to give me a thrill. All it needs to have is soul.
What does that mean? It means a car that is itself an experience. A car that has its own personality, its own flaws and defects, its own unique way to move along the road. A car that reminds you at every moment that you are in something special, and the experience is yours and yours alone.
Modern cars with all the bells and whistles can give you that, and I’ve driven some incredible ones that use hybrid technology. The electric motors provide tons of torque while the engine gives it power once you off the line. There is nothing like being pushed deep into the seat by the g-force of a launch. It is invigorating.
At the same time, old cars (most of which are pretty slow by today’s standards) can provide unique experiences as well.
Recently, I’ve been interested in something that bridges the gap between old cars and new – they are called “resto-mods.”
Resto-mods are essentially old, classic cars that have been completely stripped down, then rebuilt using modern parts. So, for example, you could have a 1969 Lamborghini Miura, an absolutely beautiful car but with incredibly unreliable performance, and replace its engine, suspension, transmission, and brakes with modern parts from a contemporary Lamborghini. Is this sacrilege? To some people, yes absolutely it is. But if you are more concerned about enjoying your car than getting the approval of others, it could be a good option. After all, would you rather spend your time fixing your car, or driving it?
Resto-mods are still considered the black-sheep of the car collecting world; however, but I believe that is going to change. Younger people are used to driving reliable cars and most are completely unaccustomed to doing their own repairs. They want immediate gratification, and a resto-mod can give that to you.
Most of the resto-mods currently on the market are American cars, especially muscle cars from the 1960s and 1970s. That makes sense because those cars are notoriously easy to work on. Large engine bays mean you can reach everything without removing half of the bodywork, and simple engineering with minimal electronics makes doing things like engine swaps a lot easier.
Now most of those resto-mods are done by home mechanics, so just imagine what you could accomplish if you used the kind of resources that could pay for a hypercar. You could have one of the most unique classic cars around, with modern-day performance to match.
Imagine a Jaguar E-Type from the 1960s with a reliable and efficient drivetrain. Or a Mercedes Grosser with a Bentley W12 engine. Or, for a laugh, how about a Volga with a new Porsche engine and carbon brakes? You get the idea. The possibilities are endless and there is nothing wrong with having a little fun, no matter what the purists say.
What do you think? Do you think this modern twist on classic cars is a cardinal sin? Or are they ok in your book?
I hope you are all doing well as we ride out this coronavirus pandemic. I know that this has been a difficult time for many of you, and large parts of the country are sheltering in place to practice social distancing.
Here in Kansas City, we have been under our mayor’s shelter in place order for weeks, so I thought this would be the perfect time to check in. With all of this time spent inside, it got me thinking about the perfect things to have on hand in the middle of a prolonged quarantine.
As an avid tech connoisseur, I’ve prepared a small list of essential items that might make your time at home a little easier. Check out my list below.
With all of this time spent inside, you will definitely need a way to catch up on all of those shows everyone is talking about, including the ever famous “Tiger King.” The firestick plugs directly into your smart TV and grants the user access to thousands of apps and streaming services.
This little device will give you access to Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, Disney Plus and more. With all of these options, you could last months or maybe even years without ever running out of options. And while tempting and somewhat understandable given the circumstances, I would not recommend spending more than a day or two binging on programs. It is important to maintain balance, even during a quarantine.
Not everybody is staying at home during this quarantine. Criminals know that all of us are ordering products online and many of them are out patrolling neighborhoods looking for packages that sit on front porches/driveways.
Ring cameras help protect you from these predators – now during the quarantine, and throughout the rest of the year. These are tiny cameras that you fit on your front door that show a real-time feed of your front yard and record footage for later watching. Most notably, they can be linked up to your mobile phone, so you can view from anywhere you happen to be. In the event of having any packages stolen, or if you have unexpected visitors that you’d rather not greet at the door, this is a perfect option to have.
They also have a number of smart products like security cameras, smart lights and cameras you can use specifically for businesses.
Being forced to stay home doesn’t mean that you should be forced to sit in one room because of a weak WiFi signal. WiFi extenders boost your home’s internet access area so that you can get online from anywhere on your property. This is especially helpful if you have a hard time accessing your network in upstairs locations or from outside.
With a WiFi extender installed, you can move your home office to any part of the house where it might be quieter and easier to get work done. Or, you can lounge outside in your back yard and soak up some sun while still listening to your favorite music.
How many times have you put off reading a great book because you just never had the time to sit down and read? Well, with a quarantine underway and with everything closed – all you have is time. That’s why a Kindle is the perfect companion to have with you while we ride this out.
Amazon’s Kindle gives you immediate access to digital versions of virtually any book you could want. Simply purchase them from the Amazon store and it will download onto the device for instant reading.
The Kindle has been perfected over the years to be intuitive and fun to use, so even if you enjoy physical books, this is a great option.
Well, that’s all for now. Hopefully, you can use some of these items to make your quarantine a little easier over the next few weeks.
Please, stay home and stay safe.
Even if you don’t think you have anything to worry about, you could potentially spread something to someone who is vulnerable. Let’s all do our part to get through this together and we will return to our normal lives in no time.
~ Michael Gortenburg, CEO and Founding Principal of Eighteen Capital Group (18CG) in Kansas City, Missouri.
I just got back to Kansas City after attending the 2020 Consumer Electronics Show (CES). For those who might not know, CES is an annual tradeshow that features the latest consumer technologies making their introduction into the consumer market, from wearable technologies to smart house devices.
The show attracts some of the most brilliant minds in technology and innovation from all over the world, and this year certainly did not disappoint. While I cannot begin to cover all of the exciting features that were present, I thought I would share just a few highlights from the show.
Through my work at Eighteen Capital Group (18CG) in Kansas City, I always keep a steady eye on the real estate industry and try to keep up with any technologies that can improve or add value to homes. This is one of the reasons that Wallbox’s Quasar System was a standout item this year.
The system is used in conjunction with power stations for electronic cars and allows users to convert the energy that would otherwise go toward their vehicle into powering their home. The Quasar System is built to “plug in” to a home’s electrical network and transfer energy into running everyday things like lights, air-conditioning, etc.
Not only is the engineering aspect of this system a marvel, it even allows the user to SELL the excess source of power back to the grid. Needless to say, this is an exciting idea for homeowners and property managers alike, and it will be very interesting to see how this technology develops in the years to come.
Hydraloop was another addition that definitely impressed me. The Hydraloop is an automated water recycling device that has the ability to cleanly recycle water throughout a property.
It’s about the size of large freezer and is installed into the water system. Once installed, the system uses a series of brilliant engineering methods to treat and re-use water throughout the house – conserving a substantial amount of water and saving the owner money on their bill (after an initial investment of around $4,000). Another great aspect of this device is that it is largely self-automated and requires very little maintenance. The designers wanted to create a product that homeowners would actually want to use and know how to operate with ease. There is even an app that the user can download to gauge performance.
These devices are currently being used in places around the world where water conservation is a serious issue, but as we all look toward solutions for sustainable living, there’s a safe bet that this type of technology will expand greatly in the U.S. market.
Ballie – the Smart Home Robot
When robotic vacuum cleaners came out years ago, it was easy to see that domestic robot devices were going to be huge – and we are witnessing the expansion of this technology with the introduction of products like Ballie.
Created by Samsung, Ballie is a cross between a nifty pet and a tool for managing a house based on your lifestyle. It’s a ball-shaped robot that can fit into the palm of your hand, but you won’t have to carry it around. Ballie is equipped with a camera and uses advanced AI programming to roll around the property, where it begins to recognize and learn your behaviors to help you fulfill basic tasks around the house.
It’s designed to work with other smart devices from the Samsung line such as vacuum robots, smart TVs, smart windows and more. Once Ballie has gathered enough information about its owner, it will respond to commands and use its AI programming to help you with daily tasks. For example, if Ballie notices that it’s time to clean the house – it will send a notification to the vacuum robot to automatically start working. Ballie is even designed for home protection, as it can detect unusual activity around your property and send notifications, pictures and videos to your phone.
This is a really exciting area for smart devices and robotics. Unfortunately, the concept is still under design and Samsung hasn’t released details for when it will be released or how much it will cost; however, it is certainly worth keeping an eye out for its debut.
As you know, I am a car enthusiast. As such, I was surprised to see Sony introduce their take on electric cars. The Vision-S was a big item at this year’s show, and for good reason.
To start, the car simply looks great. Designed in a sporty/sleek fashion, the car comes equipped with 5G WIFI capabilities and replaces the dashboard with a wall of panels that can be used for things like navigation apps, music control, climate information and more. It also comes with 33 sensors in total that help drivers navigate the road in a safe manner and promises to improve driving performance.
Consumer Technologies at Their Best
These are just a handful of the amazing products and concepts that I saw this year at CES 2020. If you’re interested in consumer technologies or if you’re just curious to see where the minds of the world’s greatest thinkers are heading – I would encourage you to do a little research on the full lineup from the show.
I can’t wait for these products to hit the market and to see how they perform in day-to-day use. Not only are these developments in tech great investment opportunities, but a large portion of them stand to change the way we live our lives for the better.
Whether you love spending time
in nature or rarely see the light of day, one thing that we can all agree on is
that it’s important to preserve the environment. It’s a hot button issue these
days that weighs on almost everyone’s mind, and for good reason. As the world
advances industrially, we’ve began to notice just how much pollution we are
putting out on a global scale and it’s a tragedy.
Perhaps the biggest culprit of
global pollution is the use of plastics. Piping, bags, electronics, containers,
straws, plates, bottles, wrappers – almost every industry and aspect of modern
convenience makes use of plastics. It is the go-to material for industries like
packaging and manufacturing because of its cheap production costs and general
But no matter how convenient plastics may be for our lives, it
is affecting our environment in ways that are hard to imagine. As most plastics
are non-biodegradable, it poses a very real problem for future generations,
wildlife and natural ecosystems all over the planet. Plastics collect and destroy
marine life when they reach oceans, they clutter and contaminate rivers, they
endanger land animals. Plastics also commonly contain toxic chemicals that seep
into the soil and water of our neighborhoods. On top of it all, nothing ruins
the beauty of our world more than piles of multi-colored junk.
The threat of ocean pollution from plastics is so high, that
some experts believe that we may eventually have more plastic in the oceans than
This problem doesn’t just come from the United States – in fact,
most ocean pollution can be contributed to manufacturing powerhouses like India
and China. We are experiencing a global crisis that will require a global
effort to address.
Shifting to Other Materials
As mentioned above, the heavy reliance on plastics in almost
every industry can largely be attributed to the low cost and flexible use of
the synthetic material. Companies can create gadgets, furniture, or other items
for an inexpensive rate – then upsell the product for a profit at the market.
But while this may be the most profitable move on the part of
businesses, it simply is not worth the long-term cost to our planet. One
approach to addressing the crisis is to shift manufacturing towards natural and
eco-friendly materials, like wood, glass and metal. There are many advantages
to switching to these types of materials. They’re more natural, easier to
recycle for multiple uses and easier to dispose of.
Of course, we also have to be responsible in regard to
maintaining our forests – but preparing and maintaining forests is easier than
sending the world into a plastic death spiral. Additionally, there will be
an added cost to products as businesses will have to spend more in manufacturing
their products, but that is a reality that we will all eventually confront one
way or another.
If we have to rely on plastics, there are in fact eco-friendly
synthetics that we can use. There are ways to manufacture plastics out of
natural materials like corn, instead of relying on petroleum. They too might be
a little more expensive and harder to find, but as consumers become more
environmentally conscious – businesses will likely adapt.
The other immediate alternative is to encourage sweeping
recycling efforts. The good news is that this process has been underway for a
couple of decades and is only getting stronger as younger generations are
waking up to the issues that will affect their world. Most kids these days are
being taught about the importance of recycling in their schools and the effects
of plastic on our environment.
This education is slowly starting to emerge. It’s now
commonplace to see paper bags being used at grocery stores and cities are
making an effort to make recycling a more convenient option for their citizens
with increased recycling centers and organized programs.
Industries of all types are also starting to switch from paper
to digital solutions for their day-to-day needs. Sure, many of our electronics
rely on limited natural resources and still make use of plastic – but the
digitization of our workspaces saves a lot of plastic from being used.
Ultimately, it will require a
continued effort in education to raise awareness about our environment and its
And there are actionable steps
that we can take. You may consider joining or donating to reputable
organizations that seek to make a difference. You can also talk with friends
and family to encourage them to take action in their lives in practical ways.
Just maintaining an awareness of the issue will naturally inspire change and
every little effort adds up to build massive results.
We all want the same thing: a
clean, beautiful and natural world that can sustain generations to come.
Together, I am optimistic that we can achieve that vision.
As someone who grew up working in auto shops and as an investor – I’ve
always been fascinated by all types of technology. And since the internet’s big
takeoff in the 90’s, we’ve seen an explosion in the tech sector, changing
everything from how we listen to our favorite music to navigating traffic.
Today, I thought we would take a look at some of the coolest gadgets
that I’ve seen recently. Some of them make great gift ideas. Others are just
interesting as a concept and could become game changers on a larger scale.
When I first heard about wireless chargers – I saw them as more of a
novelty item for tech geeks to display on their desks, or for the laziest among
us to just charge their phones. But they have drastically improved over the
last couple of years.
I recently tried one out at a store and immediately saw the appeal. You
simply lay your phone down directly on the charger and it effortlessly begins
to charge. Sure, it may not be entirely necessary, but it is satisfying.
Sleep & Wake Therapy Lamp
Like most people, I love to catch up on my sleep. Things can get busy
very quickly running Eighteen Capital Group (18CG) here in Kansas City, so it is vital for me to get a
decent rest everyday. And nothing is worse than being woken up by a blaring
alarm clock and hitting snooze over and over.
Well, somebody has come up with a solution. I recently discovered the
perfect to start the day – it’s called a “smart lamp.” The lamp is designed to
mimic the gentleness of a natural sunrise, helping the sleeper come alive at a
slower and less startling pace. It’s very different than waking up with a jolt.
AirPods (or similar items)
We’ve all seen them – Apple’s new AirPods that seem to be sweeping the
nation in popularity. Everyone is jumping on board of this craze – making the
speculation alone reason to give them a try. What’s more is that everyone who
tries them says that they are the greatest Apple product since the iPhone.
It may be trendy, but if that many people swear by them, then it
might be worth checking out. The one thing that might be stopping some people
from jumping on board the bandwagon is the hefty price tag, but being able to
talk and listen to headphones handsfree might be worth it.
Touch Screen Gloves
It’s not uncommon for temperatures to dip into the freezing category in
Kansas City. Everyone wears winter clothes to protect themselves, but that can
be a problem as gloves make it hard to use touch screen devices. Luckily, they
make touch screen gloves.
They’re very inexpensive and come in some nice designs, like the all
leather driving-style gloves. With these, you could keep your hands warm in the
wintertime, actually use your phone or other electronic device and look stylish
all at the same time.
Dog Door Collar
Tech doesn’t just expand to us humans – now even our pets are getting
in on the convenience. One thing that I would recommend for dog lovers out
there who have inside dogs, is the automatic dog door collar.
The door itself may require installation, but once everything is setup,
the dog is able to let themselves in or out as often as they’d like, whenever
they’d like. The dog simply approaches the door and the electric scanner picks
up the signal and lets them in or out. This gadget is definitely a game changer
for dog owners who are tired of having to monitor them all day.
Not really a “tech gadget” for the average person per se – however, a
great invention and fun toy nonetheless. When drones first came out, they were
large, expensive and it took dedication to learn out how to operate them. But
as the years have gone on, these aspects have improved.
Today, you can purchase a standard camera drone for $70 at your local Best Buy.
They’re outfitted with great cameras and have a user-friendly design that most
people can use intuitively. They are extremely fun to play with to get a birds’
eye view of locations, and even have professional uses in real estate. If you
have the chance and the curiosity, I would highly recommend checking these out.
So there you have it, a handful of tech gadgets that are useful,
interesting and attainable for the average person. Do you have any that you’d
like to recommend? If so – let me know in the comments section below.