Browsing the archives for the energy savings tag.


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    Are we selling the U.S. to the foreigners?

    alternative, energy, energy conservation, energy efficiency, forum, green living, solar, Wind

    I don’t usually like to get political or get involved in the discussion of the national economy, but… It just seems to me that when a company from a foreign country comes in and buys a large portion of an American company it threatens our national security. Just my personal opinion. Now I am reading how companies from Japan and Germany are coming in and buying into American renewable energy to take advantage of new renewable energy initiatives (http://bit.ly/B5Byb). Are we selling ourselves and our wind overseas? I would love to hear your comments on this.

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    • blog traffic exchangeThe Solar Bill of Rights (This is a guest post from Roy Gayhart, originally posted on his blog at Whole Solar, a Women Owned Small Business, which is part of an affiliated group of wholesale distributors and manufacturer’s representatives who share a passion for solar energy.) At the Solar Power International Show, Rhone Resch, President......
    • blog traffic exchangeTap Into The Power of DIY Solar Energy and DIY Wind Power by Teegan McElroy Considering that the two most plentiful energy resources known to man, is solar energy and wind energy, it's hardly surprising that homes and businesses can nowadays be powered solely in this manner. With solar panels or a wind power generator installed, practically every type of electrical appliance......
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    Energy Saving Screens

    alternative, energy, energy conservation, energy efficiency, green living, solar, Uncategorized

    My wonderful husband has taught our German Shepherd, Duke, to open and close the screen door by himself. It originally started innocently enough. We were remodeling downstairs and often times my husband would be carrying heavy things in and out and nobody was around to open the door for him. Duke would jump through hoops of fire for my husband and quickly mastered this trick. The problem is that now the remodel is over, I refuse to use the energy to turn on the air conditioner so the doors are always open, and now Duke uses the screen door as his private doggy door. Needless to say the screen has been pushed through and ripped and is now a public mosquito entrance.

     I decided to go online and see if any of the local stores carried that pet screening that stretches instead of ripping when an animal jumps up. What I found is a great energy saving screen. A company named Phifer, that makes the pet screening, makes a whole line of screening and fabric. I never even knew there was something called weave technology, where the type of fabric woven in different ways can have different effects. The one that caught my eye was the Super Solar Screen.

     The company claims the Super Solar Screening reflects 90% of the suns heat and glare, improves daytime privacy, and still allows for excellent outward visibility, not to mention it keeps the bugs out. Sounds like the claims on an infomercial, but at the Home Depot site the product had been rated and review by two individuals. Both reviews gave the screening 5 out of 5 stars and both said it performed as advertised.

     This will be a huge benefit for a house like mine that faces northwest. I get full sun at my backdoor every morning in the summer; I don’t like to open the door and shades because it raises the temperature in the house. Then in the late afternoon I get the full effect of the sun as it gets ready to set so I have to close all the doors and shades on that side of the house. I am hoping with my Super Solar Screen, I will be able to get airflow from the windows and doors without the heat and glare from the sun. If I decide to turn on the air conditioner it should not have to work as hard with the Super Solar Screen. But maybe with the heat and sun reflected away from the house I won’t have to turn on the air conditioner at all. Sounds like a huge energy saver to me.

     As for my screen door, apparently there is no pet friendly screen that can hold back a German Shepherd. I am going to replace the screen with the Super Solar Screen and buy pet guards to keep Duke from going through it.

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    • 15 Ways to Reduce Energy Costs Big energy bills can bleed your budget dry, not to mention the potential impact on the environment. Cutting back on your energy consumption will help you become more ‘green’ as well as putting a bit more money back in your pocket. Here are some ways you can reduce your......
    • Mariah Rd mt views 2Eco-friendly, Passive Solar Ranch Remodels, 1 & 2 (This is the fifth in a 10-part series. The previous post is here, or you can start at the beginning.) When everyone moves to Taos, they want to buy an old adobe home on an acre of irrigated land. I was no different. I searched for a house for three......
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    Take Action Now!

    alternative, energy, energy conservation, energy efficiency, green living, solar, Uncategorized, Wind

    Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much. – Helen Keller

     Sometimes people don’t vote because they think “one vote can’t change anything”. I think the 2000 election proved that wrong, but some people still don’t believe. Now is your time to be counted by your elected officials. If you want this country to move forward with cleaner energy contact you Congressional Representatives and Senators today. It only takes a minute but can help save the earth a life time.

     Click here to email your U.S. Representative and Senators about the NAT GAS Act today!

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    • 15 Ways to Reduce Energy Costs Big energy bills can bleed your budget dry, not to mention the potential impact on the environment. Cutting back on your energy consumption will help you become more ‘green’ as well as putting a bit more money back in your pocket. Here are some ways you can reduce your......
    • blog traffic exchangeResidential Solar Power - Green Energy Idea In order to make the best decision about residential solar power, several important points need to be considered. Some homeowners may discard the idea of using solar power in their homes just because of the perceived costs associated with purchasing and installing a residential solar power system. Some believe......
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    Start with Energy Conservation

    alternative, energy, energy conservation, energy efficiency, green living, Uncategorized

    When it comes to clean energy, saving our environment and living green, the best and only place to start is energy conservation. For every unit of energy saved, a unit of energy does not need to be produced. That sounds so very simple, yet I see it over looked time and time again. People are so impressed with the newest solar product, the next residential wind turbine or if hydrogen technology will replace natural gas, that they forget that all this technology can replace a greater percent of our energy if we use less energy to begin with. In other words energy conservation and efficiency are very often more economically worthwhile than renewable sources and also helps bridge the gap between demand for and availability of renewable energy.

     

    We have all seen list after list of ways to save energy around our house; these should not be pushed to the side because you “did” the list last year. Like all maintenance around the house, conservation cannot be done once and forgotten about, that is why they call it maintenance. There are always new products coming out that can make energy conservation easier, more efficient and more affordable.

     

    My attic is always the first place I look when thinking about energy loss. I have a cathedral ceiling in my living room and just never feel comfortable in the room during the cold winter months. Obviously I have insulated but I still just feel the heat escaping. So I went up to the attic at night leaving the living room lights on and the attic lights off. Bingo! I was able to identify several areas that were not completely insulated around the recessed lighting (make sure your recessed lighting fixtures are rated to have insulation around them). Next I went up to the dark attic on a very sunny morning, before the heat made it unbearable. Again, Bingo! There were a couple of places along the eaves where I could see daylight. Once these were fixed I started looking at different insulation products for attics that were DIY friendly and wallet friendly. Two products caught my eye: Super Insulating Radiant Barrier and the Battic Door Attic Stair Cover.

     

    The Super Insulating Radiant Barrier is a fold out, insulating, reflective product that goes over your current insulation and/or over the roof rafters to create a barrier that actually radiates heat back down to the living space.

     

    The Battic Door Attic Stair Cover is an insulating box that goes over dropdown attic stairs and keeps heat from escaping. This product is a huge improvement over ones of days gone bye. I have had a similar product for about fifteen years and can see this will pay for itself in very short time.

     

    Take time to look at these and other energy saving products. A dollar spent today could save hundreds over a life time not to mention helping to save the environment. Never under estimate the heat, or cooling, loss in your home. Keep vigilant about conservation, any energy saved is energy that does not have to be produced.

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    • heatpumpHow Efficient Are Heat Pumps Heat pumps come in three varieties: geothermal, electric, and a duel source system. These systems utilize various sources to move heat from various sources into and out of your house. Air source electric heating systems are more energy efficient than the traditional electric heating system. They come in sizes suitable......
    • lightsTen Tips Toward a More Eco Friendly Home Tip 1 - Turn the lights off any time that they are not needed, even if you are just moving from room to room in the course of your day. According to Energy Star, as much as 20 percent of a home's overall energy use comes from its lighting. Using......
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    Habitat for Humanity, a Homerun for Energy Efficient Products

    alternative, energy, forum, green living, heating options, light bulbs, solar, Uncategorized, Wind

    In a June 1st article by Dan Cook, in Arizona’s The Daily Courier, he wrote about a Habitat for Humanity home that had been built as a “net-zero energy” house.  The idea is to use smart building products and techniques, as well as alternative energy sources, such as solar, so that the house does not use any energy from the grid or fossil fuel. This is a whole new niche in the building industry and there is an unlimited amount of products and services to choose from. The problem is that builders and prospective  homeowners, we don’t know which products are proven, or will work in our situation, or have a chance to see the product installed or talk to a builder who has actually installed the product.

     

    That is why I found this article interesting. If the companies offering these great new innovative energy saving products donated them to Habitat for Humanity, we would all benefit. First the company would win, getting actual exposure to the public with their product, as well as goodwill, for donating the product. Any builder interested in the product could donate their time to help install the product at the Habitat for Humanity job site. This gives them goodwill for helping, but also gives them experience with new products and techniques that they can sell to their clients. The homeowner wins because they are buying a product that they have seen work and are having it installed by someone who has had experience with the product. The recipient of the Habitat for Humanity home wins with lower or no utility bills. And last, but not least, the environment wins every time we do not use fossil fuel to power our world. This could be the ultimate win-win situation.

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    • Vitamin B EnergyVitamins B: Vitamins For Energy The B vitamins were identified and isolated early in the twentieth century when refined grains were first found to cause deficiency diseases. The B vitamins work so closely together that it is hard to tell which individual B vitamin is missing when a deficiency occurs. The B vitamins need to......
    • blog traffic exchangeSomething "Bruin", More Potential Lawsuits, and an Easy Chance to Win $10 (Plus Personal Finance Links) My wife and I are doing a little traveling this week. We were at the San Francisco airport on Saturday where we searched out for a place to watch the Bruins-Canucks Stanley Cup Finals. Unfortunately the one with the with the best view of the game was the right next......
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    Lessons for Wind Power

    alternative, energy, green living, Uncategorized, Wind

    According to Boston Business Journal, Boston’s Museum of Science announced this week that it will be putting a wind turbine laboratory on its roof. Apparently they have already done wind studies for a year and have come to the conclusion that there is not enough viable wind in their location to create any meaningful electricity. They already have two turbines up and intend to put up three more of varying shapes and sizes ranging from 7 feet to 40 feet. The idea is to “demonstrate small wind turbines that could be erected on small businesses and homes”.

     

    The problem is that small wind turbines cannot be erected on any building, ever. Mother Nature is a very formidable force to deal with. Any and all wind turbines have an incredible vibration; this can cause both structural and noise problems. Roof top turbines have been known to cause nails to vibrate right out of the roof. While the museum roof may be substantial enough to withstand this, with a full time maintenance crew, the average home is not engineered to withstand these forces. 

     

    Second, there is no usable wind on a roof. When you see a small wind turbine on a roof spinning wildly, it looks like it would be generating plenty of power. The truth is, all that spinning is the turbine trying to find a steady wind in a very turbulent area. Wind is invisible, and most people don’t understand what they can’t see. Think of a stick lazily drifting down a calm stream, making slow but steady progress, then there is a rock in the way, the stick goes around the rock but gets caught twirling in the eddy behind it, there is a lot of movement, but no progress. Wind is the same way, once it hits an object, such as a house or a tree; there is wind turbulence behind the object. Another way of looking at this is a sailboat in the lee of a bluff. You feel the wind on your face, it feels strong, but the sail is slapping madly and the boat is going nowhere. A wind turbine is the same way as it searches for the wind in the turbulence.

     

    The Boston Museum of Science would be doing the public a huge favor by teaching the physics of wind and turbulence using smoke chambers and roof mock ups to show how a nail or a screw can be loosened due to vibration. They should teach the benefits of clean wind energy when placed in the right location and the uselessness of putting it in the wrong location. With all my heart I hope the Boston Museum of Science is not advocating building mounted turbines, not only would they be putting the public at risk physically and promoting a waste of money, they will be putting a black mark on wind energy when these turbines never produce any meaningful electricity.

     

    Look for an upcoming blog on proper wind turbine location.

     

    For more information check out the Warwick Wind Trials data on building mounted turbines.

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    • green-living-photo-by-valentins_k10 Ways to Prove that Frugal Living is Really Green Living in Disguise. I'm probably the most unlikely Green Living advocate on the planet. I'm an advocate of offshore drilling, I voted for Bush in 2004 (bad call I know), and I drive a crossover SUV. Yet, more and more these days, I find myself being slowly taken in by the tree hugger......
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    Think Globally, Buy Locally and Grow Organic!

    energy, green living, Uncategorized

    I just read a blog this morning on how salmonella is unchecked in the frozen foods we buy. The article was more politically oriented and I don’t want to get into that. But it brought up a good point about global warming.

    If you buy a head of lettuce grown in California and you live in Maine, how does it get to you? Think about this, the soil is prepared and the lettuce is planted using large fossil fuelled machinery. Then there is mega amounts of water wasted as huge sprinkler systems water the crops and everything in between. Then there is that wonderful fertilizer, the kind you wonder what it contains. Then we get our trusty underpaid, underappreciated immigrant workers to harvest the crop and package it for shipping. Then it is sent to a refrigerated distribution center and put into large, refrigerated trucks to be sent across the country, using diesel fuel all the way. Now once it is on the other coast it goes to another distribution center and sent out in another truck. Finally, about a week after being picked it goes on your grocery store shelve.

    That head of lettuce has probably used more fuel to get to the store than you used to run errands this week. A better option would be to buy local produce. Now that summer is around the corner, numerous farmers markets will be selling their goods. This not only saves all that waste of shipping your lettuce across the country, but it feeds the local economy and environment.

    Better yet, grow your own. Especially if you have young children, this is a rewarding endeavor. You will be teaching your children a life long lesson that no school could possibly teach, not to mention children are more likely to eat vegetables they grew. As an added bonus your children will not be ingesting dangerous chemicals from artificially fertilized food. There is nothing more satisfying than eating produce you grew yourself and knowing you helped the environment.

    If you are new to the horticultural lifestyle try Organic Food Gardening Beginners Manual.

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    Solar panels are evolving

    energy, green living, solar

    One of the largest hurdles of solar photovoltaic panels is converting their production of DC (direct current) electricity into AC (alternating current). AC current is what all household electrical systems use. Solar panels are usually placed on a roof top and wired and grounded together. Then the high voltage DC electricity is collected and fed to an inverter where it is changed to AC and fed into the household system. This causes the solar array to perform only as well as the least performing panel. So if one panel gets shaded in the afternoon, all the panels get “shaded” in the afternoon.

    A California based company, Akeena Solar Inc. , is changing the design of their Andalay solar panels to include a micro inverter in each panel. This means that the electricity produced by each panel will be converted to AC as it leaves the panel and is then fed directly into the house electrical system. If one panel becomes shaded all the other panels will still be producing AC electricity at their optimal levels. Because each of the Andalay panels already comes with a built in rack system, and comes with its own micro inverter, the company predicts design and installation costs to go down by as much as 25% and efficiency to go up by 5% to 25%.

    Akeena has found a way to make solar more efficient and financially feasible to more consumers. With the federal and state tax credits available it almost doesn’t make sense for most households not to try solar. Until more households start using the technology today, the industry will not be able to learn and develop how to make solar more cost efficient for the future. Solar has always been expensive and will remain so until the industry is given the time and resources to find a “better way.” In the meantime it is never too soon to reduce our carbon emissions.

    Akeena Solar Inc. plans to start producing the panels in 2009.

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    Cold? Time for some mid-winter energy saving tips!

    Uncategorized

    Now that much of the country is in the depths of winter, it is a great time to think about those energy saving do it yourself projects.

                    The first place to start is with your thermostat. Did you install a programmable thermostat? If you didn’t, do it as soon as possible. If you did, now is a good time to reevaluate the programming. Take some time to really think about when everybody gets up in the morning, when they leave the house, when they get home and when they go to bed. Take the time to learn how to program the thermostat to get the most out of it.

    Next, go around the house to each window and door and feel for the cold. You might even bring a disposable lighter with you and check for drafts. Did somebody open a window and forget to lock it tight? Is there a draft you didn’t notice before or get around to sealing? Plastic film on the windows can stop drafts and adds an extra layer of insulation even if you don’t have drafts.

                    Check the insulation in your attic. Often the area where the roof meets the floor of the attic (soffit) is the area most over looked. Nobody wants to crawl in that tight space but it is a common place for heat to leak up from downstairs. Then turn on the lights downstairs and leave the attic lights off, do you see any light? If you can see light, heat can see a way to escape. Always wear gloves and a mask over your mouth and nose while working with fiberglass insulation. Also if you use baby powder over your body it helps keep the glass fibers from getting in your skin. If you do get irritated from the insulation take a cold shower to wash it off and keep the fibers from getting deeper in your pores.

                    Is your hot water heater turned up too high? In our house everybody takes a shower in the morning. The first one up turns up the hot water heater and when the last person is finished the hot water heater is turned down for the next 22 hours or so. Also an insulation blanket on the hot water heater can save a lot of energy, especially if it is down in a cold basement. Another thing about the shower, don’t leave the bathroom fan on endlessly, as it is exhausting all that steam it is also exhausting all your heat. Wash your clothes in cold water whenever possible, there are detergents specifically designed for this.

                    At the hardware store, for a few dollars, you can buy little insulation pads for light switches and outlets. Go around to all your light switches and outlets that are on exterior walls and insulate them. Another trick while you have the cover off the outlets, take a pen and mark the circuit breaker number that corresponds to that switch or outlet. This will save time and headaches next time you need to shut that breaker off.

                    Enjoy the winter, and remember with each cold spell and snow storm how much more you will appreciate spring.

     

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    Hypermiling

    alternative, energy, green living, Uncategorized

    The word is out, and the word is hypermiling! Oh yeah! Believe it or not hypermilling is the New Oxford American Dictionary’s word of the year. Their definition is …“Hypermiling” or “to hypermile” is to attempt to maximize gas mileage by making fuel-conserving adjustments to one’s car and one’s driving techniques.

     

    As with every seemingly admirable activity on the face of the earth, some people take hypermiling too far. If you read the hypermiling forums, you will here about people not breaking through turns, shutting off their car while coasting to a stop, or riding the draft from large trucks. These are all very dangerous practices and in some cases even illegal. While driving, you should be focused on the road and your surroundings. You should be a defensive driver. You should not be more concerned for your gas mileage than for the safety of yourself and the people around you. Some of these practices have not even been proven to save fuel.

     

    The truth is that standard practices to save gas are actually, by definition, hypermiling. These tried and true techniques can not be overstated enough.

     

    Basic ways to save fuel in your car are as follows:

    1)    Properly inflate your tires – can save 1 to 2 mpg and extend the life of your tires. More on this later.

    2)    Proper tire tread – insert a penny into the tread of your tire, if you can see the top of Lincoln’s head you need new tires. Some experts think you should do this with a quarter.

    3)    Purchasing the correct fuel – most cars do not need a high octane fuel (check your owners manual), using eeFuel  can make all octane levels work more efficiently.

    4)    Reduce resistance – Remove ski racks and luggage storage containers when not in use.

    5)    Check your gas cap – gas evaporates from old, cracked or not secure gas caps. Turn you gas cap four times to assure it is tightened properly. Consider getting a locking gas cap to prevent siphoning.

    6)    Use your manufacturers recommended grade of motor oil.

    7)    Avoid idling – a good rule of thumb is if you plan to idle for more than a minute shut it off. Go in don’t use the drive-up. Put the car in park at red lights.

    8)    Keep extra weight out of your trunk – just carry emergency items.

    9)    Slow down – I’m not asking you to go 55mph, you might be a victim of road rage if you don’t cause an accident first. But be reasonable, stay back so that you don’t have to brake as often, and use cruise control when you can.

    10)  Maintenance – Pay now or pay later!!!! Keep your car on a regular maintenance program and you will save fuel, save energy and save money. Just installing a new air filter can show measurable fuel savings.

     

    The strange thing is that when I checked around some forums about hypermiling I found there wasn’t much posted since the gas prices started to drop. Does everyone think the fuel shortage is going away? We still need find ways to save fuel, but we also need to find ways to make our carbon footprint smaller. Things like wind power, solar power, and hydrogen will provide better conservation than driving dangerously.

     

     

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