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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Air-Conditioning – Won't Live Without It

Five sure-fire tips for improving air-conditioner energy efficiency.

A new national survey shows that only 14% of Americans are willing to give up air-conditioning if they knew that doing so would hurt the environment.

The flip side of that: about 86% of Americans are telling us they just can't live without air-conditioning in summer.

Few of us live in environments where the air cools naturally in summer and is not humid and muggy. Air-conditioning is more than a convenience. Air-conditioning is a modern necessity.

But electricity powers our air-conditioners, and electricity does pollute. So, how can we best use our air-conditioners to keep pollution at a minimum?

Here are five sure-fire ways to better manage your air-conditioner without feeling muggy and uncomfortable.

  1. Set the thermostat of your air conditioner to 78 degrees. That may sound like it’s too high, especially in some areas of the country. But keeping your thermostat to 78 degrees will delay turning on the machine. And even a short delay can help reduce energy usage.
  2. Clean your air conditioner. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions and thoroughly clean you’re unit. Be sure to clear away leaves and other obstructions from outside condenser coils and grilles, and replace or clean the filters. Other tips: Make sure the fan spins freely. Oil the fan motor. Check duct insulation for tears and repair as needed.
  3. Use natural cooling in mornings. You can bring down the temperature in your home by opening windows early and allowing the cool morning air inside. Before the sun begins to bake the ground, however, close the windows and keep what cool air you’ve got.
  4. Shade out the sun. Draw draperies and shades, close shutters, or install awnings, solar screens, and reflective window screens to block out sunlight and heat. Even shading north windows, which are not directly affected by the sun, can help keep heat reflected from driveways, porches, and sidewalks.
  5. Avoid using heat-producing appliances inside. On hot days and nights, try to not use your big heat generating appliances, such as the oven or dishwashers. Wait until it's cooler. Hang your laundry outside instead of using a dryer. Cook outdoors or use the microwave.
Check out the press release about the survey.

The survey was conducted by the Shelton Group, an advertising agency located in Knoxville, Tennessee, that focuses on issues involving sustainability. The survey is conducted each year and is called the Eco-Pulse survey.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Make the First Day of Summer Your First Day of Energy Savings

10 Top Summertime Energy Efficiency Tips

The first day of summer is just around the corner -- June 21, 2009 -- the day of the summer solstice.

While you take advantage of summer to relax at the beach or by the pool, be sure to also take advantage of the warm weather and long sunny days to save some energy and lower your utility bills.

Here are a 10 simple steps to lowering utility bills through energy efficiency. You'll probably save money that you can use toward a vacation.
  1. Turn off the furnace.
  2. Clean or replace the air-conditioner filter.
  3. Set your air-conditioner thermostat to 78 degrees Fahrenheit -- although senior citizens or people with medical conditions should consult their physicians before changing their normal home temperature.
  4. Set the water heater thermostat to its energy efficiency setting.
  5. Hang wash on a line to dry whenever possible.
  6. When using a clothes dryer, dry only full loads.
  7. Use cold water in your washing machine, and always wash full loads.
  8. With a dishwasher, wash only full loads and skip the drying cycle if the machine's instructions allow.
  9. Pull drapes and blinds and close doors and windows during the day to keep cool air in and hot air out, and open windows and drapes at night to let cool air in.
  10. Replace incandescent bulbs with Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs).

Thursday, June 18, 2009

We've Posted an Article on Squidoo

Check out new web page focusing on summer energy efficiency tips

The URL to visit the page is:

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Bottle Water -- Bad for Energy Efficiency

If you want to reduce energy use overall -- not just your energy use, but usage everywhere -- maybe you should stop buying bottled water.

According to a recent study, the energy needed to create the plastic bottles, process and purify and bottle the water, and ship the stuff to your store, used somewhere between 32 million to 54 million barrels of oil -- in one year (2007).

A barrel of oil goes for $70 right now -- that's $2 billion to $3.75 billion wasted -- because the stuff comes out of our taps!

Check out the study.

Even if you don't believe in this stuff and think these guys are wacko, if we cut their estimates by 80% that would still result in $448 million to $756 million spent in one year on making plastic to ship water that already comes out of the faucet on our kitchen sinks.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Is Energy Efficiency Reducing Demand for Oil?

BP Thinks So

A recent report from BP Oil suggests that energy efficiency trends are reducing demand for oil -- which means that rather than running out of oil due to dwindling supplies (i.e., peak oil), we will see usage drop and so the pressure on demand will decline.

But that's not all: BP also reported that in China, India and other so called 'developing' economies the demand for energy was greater than the demand in the USA and other developed countries.

The entire story appears in the Times Online.

This suggests that energy efficiency will help us import less oil -- certainly a strategic and national security advantage -- but it will conversely help make it easier for China and others to import oil they need for their growing economies.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Energy efficiency and the Google PowerMeter

Those of us who support energy efficiency do so for a number of reasons, depending upon who we are and what we care about.

I care about lowering my utility bills -- the rates our utilities will be charging in the future will continue to rise: I don't want to get stuck with a bill that is any higher than it has to be.

Further -- all unresolved issues in the debate not withstanding -- common sense tells me that humanity has had a great impact on the environment. Reducing waste is a way of mitigating the impact.

Waste is everywhere -- in what we throw away; the fresh water we allow to run down the drain; and the amount of electricity, natural gas, oil, propane, wood we use to heat our homes and make our lives healthier and more productive than the lives of our forebears.

Which is a long way of saying: I think there is something to climate change. Is it CO2 or some equivalent? The scientists are still trying to find the answers.

But we can do things now that will have a positive impact one way or another.

I read on a PG&E blog that a home in the United States produces twice as much CO2 emissions as an automobile. Maybe so.

But a home definitely uses more energy than it should.

If you want to realize energy savings then you need to know how much you're using right now.

There are a number of tools that will help you estimate usage -- but a new one of great promise is coming over the horizon: The Google PowerMeter.

Twenty years ago my company was involved with a similar project that included Microsoft -- that other big monolith in the IT world. The technology we were looking at would allow you to track energy use in real time. The technology was not ready in the 1980s.

But now, the world has changed and Google is once again way out in front.

Utilities are investing in new IT infrastructure that will allow them to give you the power to analyze in real time the electricity and natural gas usage in your home. PowerMeter takes advantage of that new infrastructure to help you monitor household energy usage.

PowerMeter is being tested now. A few Google employees have been working on the pilot test. Here are some of their experiences.

Check out PowerMeter on Google's website.

We still have a few years to go before this technology is available widely.

But you don’t have to wait – and you shouldn’t wait. You’ll be paying more for energy than you really need to.

To get an estimate, if not a real-time assessment, of your household use, try the resources listed on this earlier entry of Energy Efficiency and Lowering Utility Bills.

Monday, June 01, 2009

A rug that is a heater?

Ever think about generating heat from your carpets or floor rugs? Apparently someone has and is adapting nanotechnology to do the job.

A university in Poland developed a prototype carpet that uses carbon nano tubes for heating. The floor covering is plugged into a wall outlet to make the heater work. Apparently it uses very little energy.

Sounds like a great way to heat a particular room, or keep your toes warm when the temperature drops.

You don't have to wait for nanotechnology to heat under your rugs. Products exist today that allow you to put an electric "heating blanket" under your rugs today.

Again, this sort of task-oriented heating is a good way to target your heating and perhaps minimize your energy bill. Remember, however, you should avoid using your furnace to heat the entire house while using a targeted electric heating device such as an electric rug warmer. Running both at the same time may cause your utility bill to skyrocket!

Want to buy one of these rugs? Check out this link: Rugbuddy