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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Free Teacher Resources: Teaching Energy Efficiency in Class

Teach energy efficiency, meet curriculum standards, and help your students' families lower utility bills -- all for free!

For elementary and middle school teachers, the painful reality of the current round of budget cuts stemming from the international credit crisis mean only one thing: fewer dollars to meet state curriculum standards.

Electric utilities provide teachers free curriculum resources. In particular, books and educational websites. Also, many government agencies provide free resources for teachers.

Here are a few:
In addition, local utilities promote energy efficiency education, delivering booklets and teachers' guides for free to any educator in their service area. Many include website that support their programs.

Look for:
There are many more. If you are a teacher, call your local utility and see if they're offering free resources. If you're a parent, help your kid's teacher learn about these great tools.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Sarah Palin's Energy Efficiency Stimulus Veto Overturned

Alaska politicians overturned Sarah Palin's earlier decision to not use federal stimulus funds that were earmarked for energy efficiency improvements.

Alaska's new governor, Sean Parnell, announced he will use the $28.6 million to reduce energy costs in public facilities and to support ongoing programs that will help Alaskan's improve energy efficiency and lower utility bills.

You can read more about the article at The Huffington Post.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Alaska May Overturn Sarah Palin's Anti-Energy Efficiency Stimulus Package Stance

Former Alaskan Governor Sarah turned down some $28 million in federal funds that would be used to improve energy efficiency of local state, federal and municipal buildings. That now may be overturned, according to Alaskan news outlets.

Politics aside, this is good for Alaskans. It allows municipal utilities to garner extra dollars that can be used to improve their electric utility grid.

Due to the extreme nature of the credit crunch, municipal utilities have been the hardest hit in the energy sector. They've had to put nearly all of their improvement projects on hold while just trying to maintain cash flow and deal with massive debts. The same is true of many municipalities and states as their bond ratings have crashed with the crisis.

Now they can use money that will lower their costs -- and improve productivity. And we'll increase national security by making sure we extract the maximum amount of value from every kilowatthour produced on our own soil -- while ensuring we maintain and increase our reserves of other energy resources.

The energy efficiency stimulus will pay for these types of improvements:
  • Repairs and energy efficiency upgrades to federal, state, and local municipal buildings
  • Upgrades and renovations to Department of Defense facilities
  • Replacement of the aging electric utility grid with a new electronic grid that will allow businesses and residents to take advantage of time-of-day pricing
  • Low income weatherization projects, which allow low-income people to at least save a little on their energy bills and possibly live in greater comfort too
  • Renewable generation projects (wind, solar, etc.)
  • Research into advanced battery technologies, with the intention of having these new technologies manufactured in the United States instead of in China or Japan
  • Education and training for Americans for jobs in the energy sector
  • Investments in public transportation, improvements in water utility infrastructure and more
Some of this is flowing down to the average American too. Look for tax credits on improving furnaces. And as utilities improve the grid, we'll start seeing opportunities that will allow us to lower our home heating and air-conditioning costs.

For some tips on how to save right now, without waiting for the trickle down effect of these stimulus dollars, check out:

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Energy Efficient Buildings: With Just a Little Planning You Can Avoid Excessive Utility Bills

A brief run down on installing insulation in your home.

Improving building energy efficiency isn't all that hard, and it does not require investing in any new technology. In fact, it only takes using your brain -- and a little work.

The New Republic Magazine wrote a little piece about this in a recent issue: Efficient Buildings a No Brainer.

You need only remember a few key steps when thinking about your home and making the building more efficient.
  • Put in enough ceiling insulation. Any do-it-yourselfer can install a roll of fiberglass insulation. The stuff is available in various grades and from various manufacturers at most large household supply stores. Just make sure you put in the right amount of insulation for your geographic region. Colder climates warrant more insulation.
  • Patch up leaks. Again, a little caulking and weather stripping will go a long way to reduce unnecessary drafts around windows and doors. Older homes may need some patch work on the exterior, perhaps to seal up cracks in plaster walls. It may take a few days this summer, but you can seal up your house on your own, and save money in winter.
  • Weatherize heating and cooling ducts with insulation. Roles of insulation material are available at most hardware supply stores and you can wrap ducts in a weekend, while still stopping to watch the Tour de France.
  • Clean you furnace filter, and get a furnace check-up/tune-up before the heating season starts. If you have the need for a new furnace, be sure to invest in the most energy efficient furnace possible -- and check for government tax breaks!
Simple steps, and they'll not only increase energy efficiency while lowering utility bills -- they'll also improve the value of your home!