Browsing the archives for the solar energy 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 exchangeWhy Americans Need To Pay More Attention To Green Energy Although Americans tend to travel less than people in other countries and often speak only one language, we have always been concerned with the way the world sees us. Yes, the stereotype of the ugly American is one most try to live down when traveling overseas. But recently Americans......
    • blog traffic exchangeSolar Energy & New Discoveries The day may not be far off when the use of solar energy becomes a norm. There is now a deep conviction among experts that given a few years time, solar power will be in high demand that the cost will go down, inexpensive enough to undercut the prices......
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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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    • garage-door-openerHow to Install a Garage Door Opener Having a garage door opener makes life a lot easier and it can add safety features to an existing door. There are numerous kinds of opener and more kinds of doors, but for the sake of brevity, we're going to cover installing a garage door opener that mounts on the......
    • garage-doorSelecting the Best Garage Door Today, we have so many options when it comes to picking a garage door that it can be a bit overwhelming. However, there are a few guidelines and tips you can use to make the selection process a lot easier. Let's take a look at the four main types of......
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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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    • blog traffic exchangeWhat is Solar Energy? by Walter Hull The Sun is like a giant power station, making solar energy for us each and every day. Without this daily dose of solar power, Earth would not be even close to the same. Literally the difference would be like night and day. The term solar energy is......
    • 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......
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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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    • The Eco-Friendly Benefits of Being Vegetarian This post was written for Blog Action Day 2011. Many of us make a big effort to be ‘green’ by doing things like recycling, using the car less and saving energy in the home but did you know that you could do even more for the environment by not......
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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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    • blog traffic exchangeThe Unrevealed Secrets Behind A Successful Product Or Service Launch Total Product BlueprintA single of the details that has come to define the internet advertising space above the past couple of several years is the use of product launches to promote the introduction of new goods into the marketplace. Most of us have experienced the onslaught of emails, videos and......
    • blog traffic exchangeSolar-Powered Camping Products Let's face it: if you're going to be taking an extended trip into the woods, nature doesn't exactly provide power outlets with every tree. The more rustic your camping experience will be, the more you're going to depend on unusual sources for power and energy. Luckily, we have solar technology......
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    Go To a Convention For FREE!

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

    Haven’t you always wanted to go to a convention and find out more information, but you just couldn’t justify the time and expense of going? Now is your chance. Virtual Energy Forum is offering a free two-day converence on clean energy. No plane trip, no hotel room and no credit card bill!

    Just sit down at your computer and wonder through the convention. Catch a live presentation by a keynote speaker or ask a vendor some questions. All while sitting at your desk, you can learn the latest about the most important issue facing the world.

    This is your chance to find out how you can make a difference in clean energy without wasting any of your energy. Sign up today for free at Virtual Energy Forum. They can’t make it any easier than that. Set the date June 24th and June 25th, 2009.

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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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    • solarscreensSolar Screens Solar Screens are the perfect window treatment for your living rooms, family rooms, media rooms, or any form of entertainment room. Also known as solar shades, solar screens offer the ultimate in technology for light control while still providing great, stylish looks. In terms of operation, solar screens are very......
    • wind-turbineAlternative Energy For Homeowners As home heating costs rise, and energy in general gets more expensive, many homeowners are turning to alternative means to power their homes. While many systems require a lot of effort to implement, there are quite a few that can be easy to install and quite economical. Whether it is......
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    Nuclear Power – Like it or not

    alternative, energy, green living, Uncategorized

    A couple of days ago I posted a response on a forum about whether nuclear energy should still be an option for the future. My answer was yes. This in turn has created some controversy among readers. In the meantime somebody else suggested I write about why ”the US and other countries insist on nuclear power when a reactor produces more waste in one day than will take over a million years to get rid of. Some of the technology should go to solving that problem before anyone tells us it is clean energy.”

     

     

    I don’t claim to have all the answers, but I have been looking into this. According to researchers at MIT we have four options to reduce our carbon footprint for our future energy needs:

     

    ·         Nuclear Energy

    ·         Renewable Energy

    ·         Increased Energy Efficiency

    ·         Capturing Carbon Emissions[1]

     

    Obviously I do not consider nuclear power the best option. I personally believe that wind will be our future in the coming decades. Wind is not just a source of electricity, the power from a wind tower can be used to produce hydrogen and then the tower itself can be used to store the hydrogen.[2] Hydrogen is a great source of carbon free fuel. Solar is also a great fuel source, at this point it is not cost effective for large scale application or the average consumer. The Japanese are working on a Space Solar Power System(SSPS) that will catch the sun’s rays in space without atmospheric interruptions and then beam the energy in the form of lasers back to earth.[3] These are awesome plans but will not be functional for decades.

     

    Today we have an ever increasing demand for electricity and transportation fuel, and an ever shrinking reserve of fossil fuels. Basic economics of supply and demand are telling us the cost to produce electricity and transportation fuel is going to sky rocket again in the near future. As the price of oil increases again it will be even more obvious we need to use more natural gas than oil for our transportation and electrical needs. Natural gas is commodity that is readily available from North American sources. The infrastructure is already in place to transport and use it and it is cleaner and easier to mine than coal. Natural gas does not have to be purchased from countries that do not like us and is cleaner than oil. Natural gas powered cars can be filled using a device at your home and putting up filling stations around the country is a small price to pay compared to what we are paying for our foreign oil habit. Companies like Mirant, who own non-nuclear electric plants, have already converted most plants to use natural gas, coal or oil depending on price. They have also gone to great lengths to reduce emissions.[4]  But the fact remains that however much we increase efficiency and decrease emissions we still are leaving far too much of a carbon footprint.

     

    Then there is nuclear energy. The biggest things nuclear has going for it are that it produces large amounts of electricity without producing carbon and the technology already exists and is in place and can be replicated. Everything else about nuclear power is not so pretty. First of all is cost, the initial outlay of time and money does not make new nuclear power plants competitive with other sources of electricity. There is also the issue that even if we did build new nuclear power plants to meet the up coming demand for electricity that there would only be sufficient uranium available for 50 or so years. Then there is the issue of proliferation, the stealing of technology and/or enriched uranium or plutonium.[5] After the break up of the USSR, 9/11 and the North Koreans this is a serious issue.  And then there is the storage of the spent fuel. According to Entergy Inc., owner of many nuclear plants, 80% of spent fuel loses its radioactivity within 3 years and can be stored on site safely for up to 100 years.[6] Yet the remainder can take thousands of years to break down. There is no doubt that huge irrepairable mistakes have been made with the handling of nuclear waste in the past.  Today the Department of Energy is making plans to build a repository in Yucca Mountain to store and seal off the spent nuclear fuel for eternity.[7] Not perfect, but a best case solution for a very serious problem.

     

    So the deal is we need to reduce our carbon footprint yesterday. The best solution is to have large scale renewable energy in place today, but that is still decades off. We need a bridge to get us from foreign oil dependency to 100% renewable, carbon free energy. One piece of that bridge is nuclear power, whether we like the idea or not. The other parts of that bridge are using more natural gas for transportation and electricity production, improving existing technology to lessen our carbon emissions and to push forward with research for renewable, carbon free energy.

     

    I invite everybody to check out the Pickens Plan and to pay attention to the plans our new President, Barak Obama, will bring forth. Please take time to visit the other websites used in researching this blog. Be informed.

     

    The Pickens Plan: http://www.pickensplan.com/index.php

    The Office of the President Elect: http://change.gov/


    [1] The Future of Nuclear Power, An Interdisciplinary MIT Study:http://web.mit.edu/nuclearpower/

    [5] The Future of Nuclear Power, An Interdisciplinary MIT Study:http://web.mit.edu/nuclearpower/

          Entergy Inc. : http://www.entergy-nuclear.com/environment/fuel_storage.aspx

    [7] Department of Energy: http://www.rw.doe.gov/index.shtml

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

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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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    Choosing to convert from oil to natural gas

    energy, heating options, Uncategorized

    I apologize for my abscence. This is not my full time job and life is not always as forgiving as we would like it to be. Enough of pleasentries.

    I wish to update you on my mission to find options for my parents heating dilemas. I can update this in a single phrase….sticker price shock! It seems in this world of forclosures, out of control oil prices, job losses and banks “feeing” us to death, among other things, we are caught in a “catch-22” situation. My goal of this blog is to highlight ideas and products that won’t cost an arm and a leg upfront to save energy, save fuel and save money in a reasonalbe amount of time.

    The bottom line is that both of my parents have oil heat and I wanted to look into converting them to natural gas heat. My father lives alone has gas already piped to his house but has old fashion steam radiators and only about 900 sq.ft. My mother has four adults living in her house, doesn’t have gas piped to her house but has more modern baseboard system and about 1500 sq.ft. Amazingly enough both estimates where within a few dollars of each other. It would cost approximately $5,500 to convert each house. This includes the fuel efficient furnace and a new energy star hot water heater. Wow, that floored me. Both of my parents are on fixed incomes and can hardly afford to shell out this kind of money. But can they afford not to?

    I found a area of National Grid’s (our local natural gas provider) web site that gave a conversion rate from oil to natural gas. According to National Grid, if you multiply your oil consumption in gallons by 1.385 you will get your approximate gas consumption in cubic feet. Each of my parents used about 700 gallons of oil in the last physical year. 700 gallons of oil x 1.385=969.5ccf of natural gas. Using $4/gallon for oil and the composite rate for gas in Aug. 2008 of $1.7725/ccf,  the annual savings would be around $1080/year. They would be breaking even on their investment within five years, if the current rates applied. Overall not a bad investment when a conventional solar system is not anticipated to break even for 10 to 20 years. But more on solar another time. 

    In Massachusetts, were I live, there is a program for low cost or no cost loans for heating improvents at http://www.masssave.com/about/heat_loan.php. This will allow many people who cannot come up with the cost of converting up front. Please check your individual states and utility companies for information on fuel assistance, tax incentives, discount utility rates and loan programs.

    In the case of my parents…. I think my mother will convert to natural gas. She plans on being in her house for more than five years and her income is not getting any larger. Natural gas is plentiful in North America and is not reliant on foreign suppliers. Weighing the odds we both feel gas will be the more reliable and cheaper way to go. We are not sure my father will be in his house for five years and he gets fuel assistance so he probably will not convert. I guess I will be putting eeFuel in his tank and pray oil prices don’t go through the roof this winter. 

     

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