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Archive for April, 2012

7 Easy Green Home Improvement Tips You Can Do Today

Your home is a reflection of who you are, and as such, it offers plenty of opportunities to make a statement not only about your style, but also your values and beliefs like caring about the environment. From cool white roofs, to solar panels, geothermal heating systems, wood siding, insulated windows and doors, energy efficient light bulbs, there is a wide range of home improvement projects that you can do to make your home more environmentally friendly and energy efficient. However, you do not have to do it all at once, nor do green home improvements have to cost you a fortune. In fact, as a homeowner, you can play an active role in lowering the carbon footprint on our earth by adapting some very simple and inexpensive green home improvement ideas. You will be pleasantly surprised that these changes will not only be beneficial to the environment, but will also actually increase your own comfort level, and help lower your energy bills.

Here are 7 easy environmentally friendly home improvement tips that
you can do today:

1. Install a programmable thermostat


It turns out that the number one source of energy consumption in your home is heating, especially if you live in a cold climate. While there are major changes you can make such as getting a whole new energy efficient pump, improving your insulation, installing new energy efficient windows, etc, one thing you can start with, is installing a programmable thermostat. When you are out of your home during the day this thermostat will shut off the heater completely or lower it to the lowest setting you have preset, in case you have pets in your house that need to stay warm. This nifty device will save you about 15% on your monthly heating bill, and will help the environment because your heater will not be wasting energy by being constantly turned on high.

2. Insulate your windows

It is no secret that installing new windows can be very expensive. However, you can still insulate your existing windows in a number of different ways or even use a combination of these methods. One simple change you can make right away is purchase black out curtains. These are fairly inexpensive, and you will be able to get high quality ones for around $100. Black out curtains will reduce your heat loss by about 25% and will also reduce the noise level by almost half. The beauty of black out curtains is that they will trap heat during the winter, and will keep the sunlight and heat out during the summer. This will also help reduce your air conditioning bills. High end blackout curtains will block out almost 99% of sunlight coming in. Moreover, you can also use energy film to reduce your heating and cooling costs while still letting light in. Unlike regular window plastic, energy film has increased transparency. If you really want to save energy and lower your bills, you can use energy film in combination with black out curtains and make your windows more green without spending a fortune.

3. Motion detector for outdoor lighting

Did you know that if you leave the outdoor light on all night you actually waste a lot of energy and disturb wildlife? Instead, you can conserve energy and save money by installing a light motion detector. It will regulate the outdoor light, activating it when necessary so that the area will be well lit, but without the negative impact on the environment and your wallet.

4. Conserve water

Water is one of the most precious resources that we have on our planet, and each one of us can do our part in conserving water. It just takes a few lifestyle changes, such as taking quicker showers, turning the faucet off when you are brushing your teeth, not letting the water run for too long when you are doing the dishes, etc. If you have kids, you can also educate them about the importance of water conservation and help them adapt these simple water conservation practices into their daily routines as well. If you want to get even more serious about reducing your water spending, you can inspect all the faucets in your house, and fix or replace them if any of them are leaking. Also, you can install low flow shower heads. These are a smart investment, since they help cut down on water usage and also reduce energy costs.

5. Clean air conditioner filters

Air conditioners are a lifesaver on those unbearable hot summer days. However, they can waste a lot of energy and cost you a lot of extra money if you leave the filters unattended for too long. A dirty filter will hamper the flow of air and you will need to run the system more and on a higher setting to achieve the cool temperature you want. By regularly cleaning and replacing the filters when they get too old, you will keep your air conditioners operating at an optimal level. If you are not at home, you can also adjust the thermostats on your air conditioners to an appropriate temperature level so that your house remains comfortable, but without wasting energy to keep it super cool when no one is at home.

6. Power strips for computers

Technology rules our lives and we cannot live without our computers, i-pads, phones, scanners, X-boxes, faxes, etc. What we often neglect to realize is that these devices use a lot of energy when we keep them constantly plugged in, because the flow of electric power continues even after we have turned them off. Instead, get power strips for your devices, they are inexpensive and will prevent energy from getting wasted.

7. Energy efficient lighting

One of the quickest and easiest green home improvements is to replace all the light bulbs in your house with energy efficient lights. You can purchase either LED or fluorescent light bulbs from your local hardware store. Both types of light bulbs come in a variety of shapes, styles and will fit all your fixtures from lamps, to chandeliers, to recessed lights, etc. Energy efficient light bulbs use about 75 % less energy than conventional lights and will also last up to 10 times longer. While you will have to spend a little extra money to purchase either the fluorescent or LED lights, which are both more expensive than the incandescent bulbs, you will get a surprisingly good return
on your investment with lowered electricity bills and a much longer service life.


The GE Omni Directional LED Replacement Bulb

This light bulb consumes 9 watts, fits a standard 120vac light fixture, and has a bright omni directional pattern. It runs very cool, consumes very little power, and can last for decades. I put them in our ceiling fans, and am very happy with the color (warm white), power factor (.95), and brightness (450 lumens, but appear brighter than our 12 watt CFL’s). Unlike typical CFL’s, these instant on bulbs contain no mercury.


GE Hybrid Halogen / Fluorescent Light Bulbs

One of the complaints of fluorescent lighting is that they can take a bit to get to full brightness, and they don’t work well when cold. GE has solved this with a hybrid light. It’s a 20 watt (1100 lumen) hybrid, that starts out with the instant on halogen, and switches over to the CFL. The CFL is wrapped around the halogen bulb, with a outer “bulb” like covering. I put these in my bathroom, and they make a big difference over the older CFL technology. This is technology that works well, and has our thumbs up.


Trojan Deep Cycle Battery – Cast On Strap

Ever wonder what goes into the construction of a deep cycle battery? See how Trojan Battery assembles it’s batteries in the following video!

Continuing its effort to expand the public’s understanding of deep-cycle battery technology, Trojan Battery has produced a video demonstrating its new cast-on-strap (COS) manufacturing equipment. Because there are two key elements that distinguish Trojan batteries from the competition – the quality of the materials we use and our assembly/fabrication process – Trojan developed this video to illustrate the advanced technology used to manufacture our batteries and earn them the label “Made in the USA.” While most other battery manufacturers use COS machinery originally designed to produce automotive batteries, Trojan Battery commissioned the development of its COS equipment to specifically manufacture only deep-cycle batteries.

More Trojan video’s


Can We Make Plastics Sustainable?

Plastics are a vital part of our lives, but they also are rife with adverse environmental impacts. In “Can We Make Plastics Sustainable?”, the University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment and the Center for Sustainable Polymers explore how we can enjoy the benefits of plastics and keep our planet healthy, too.

The Center for Sustainable Polymers (CSP) integrates research, education, and public outreach initiatives that focus on sustainability issues surrounding the science and technology of polymeric materials. Members of the center concentrate their research efforts on harnessing the renewable, functional, degradable and non-toxic ingredients provided by Nature for tomorrow’s advanced plastics, foams, adhesives, elastomers, coatings and other macromolecular materials. To foster innovation the CSP partners with numerous companies that develop, implement, advance technologies in the sustainable polymer industry. In addition to the research mission of the CSP, members also foster outreach activities to educate future scientists and the public about the science and technology of sustainability.


Gravitation water vortex power plant


A gravitation water vortex power plant is a micro hydro power plant, which is capable of producing energy using low heads 0.7 to 3 metres. The technology is based on a round basin with a central drain. Above the drain the water forms a stable line vortex which drives a water turbine.

As an added advantage, the inventor refers to the fact that the turbine aerates the water, helping improve water conditions, while the reduced speeds of the turbine, and the lack of cavitation ensure that most types of fish can pass through the turbine without danger, something which is much more difficult to achieve at normal hydro plants that require additional structures for the fish migration.

Because of the intensive aeration of water by the gravitation water vortex – in the rotation tank of the gravitation water vortex power plant is an ideal living area for aquatic plants, microbes and fish.

This particular unit (14′ diameter), with 5′ head of water and a .7 m³/s flow, can produce approximately 120 kWh daily. That’s enough power for 4 average US homes. At a kit cost of approximately $45k USD, that’s about a 7 year payback if maxed to capacity, and no subsidies are available. That does not include installation and concrete costs, or any permit fees.


Making your own alcohol fuel

Many folks are familiar with making beer or wine at home. Making alcohol fuel is the next step. The process is simple, distilling the “beer” made from fermented sugars. Drinking alcohol has quite a bit of water in it. For fuel, we want a almost water free product, in excess of 160 proof. The process is energy intensive, especially if you have to convert starches to sugar first, so using waste heat, or solar could mitigate your energy inputs, and produce a less expensive fuel. There are a lot of sugar bearing crops, like beets, corn, and even tree sap. Ethanol can even be made from wood waste like sawdust. There’s one outfit that makes vodka from maple sap, so it’s doable. Waste food sources like stale donuts have even been used.

If you are interested in making your own fuel, I suggest the following information:



Santa Fe Springs, Calif., April 11, 2012 – Trojan Battery Company, the world’s leading manufacturer of deep-cycle batteries, today launched “Trojan Tips,” its video tutorial series created to provide in-depth information focusing on a variety of battery topics such as deep-cycle battery technologies, maintenance practices, charging procedures and safety when handling batteries. “Trojan Tips” is designed to expand awareness of deep-cycle battery technology.

The first “Trojan Tips” video tutorial can be viewed at

A new “Trojan Tips” video tutorial will premiere each month throughout 2012 on the Trojan Battery corporate Web site. The first “Trojan Tips” video, which debuts today, reviews the various battery technologies available on the market today, and what to consider when selecting a battery for a particular application. The public, as well as Trojan distributors, dealers and customers can log onto the Trojan Web site to view the video tutorials and learn more about a variety of deep-cycle battery topics.

“One of the most important features of electrically powered equipment, and probably one of the most ignored, is the battery,” said Vicki Hall, Trojan’s director of quality and technical services, and host of the “Trojan Tips” educational series. “The battery is the heart of any piece of electric equipment that relies on batteries for power. When a battery fails in a golf car, scissor lift or floor cleaning machine for example, it can make or break a day on the course or impact profitability on the job site. Proper understanding of this technology and maintenance practices are key to getting the most out of a battery investment.”

Trojan developed the “Trojan Tips” series to educate the public on a variety of important battery-related subjects that can positively impact the performance and longevity of deep-cycle batteries used to power electrical equipment. Topics such as selecting the right battery, maintenance techniques and appropriate charging and equalization guidelines are just a few of the issues that will be addressed during the video tutorial series.

About Trojan Battery Company
Trojan Battery Company is the world’s leading manufacturer of deep-cycle batteries and a battery technology pioneer, having built the first golf car battery in 1952. Trojan batteries provide power for a wide variety of golf, industrial, renewable energy, recreational and auxiliary power applications. Founded in 1925, the company is ISO 9001:2008 certified with operations in California and Georgia, and maintains two of the largest and most extensive research and development centers in North America dedicated to engineering new and advanced battery technology. For more information on Trojan Battery Company, visit


Busting Wind Turbine Ratings

There’s a lot of misinformation on the net surrounding the output of a wind turbine. A great many scam artists are over rating their turbines to make it sound like you can get a lot more power than you really will. Even commercial manufacturers tend to over rate their turbines, by using wind speeds that are not commonly seen at John Q. Public’s homestead. We have put together an online calculator that will help you sift the wheat from the chaff so to speak. Plug in your numbers and see what you can expect from a given wind turbine at your location.

A weather station is recommended in order to track Wind Speed, Temperature, Humidity, and Barometric Pressure. These are the four variables that you will need for the following calculations.You can learn to build one at


Andersen Windows Sustainability Story

by Adam Bearup

This video will give you a sneak peak at one of the segments of the Earth Shelter Documentary. Thank you to Ric Mixter and Airworthy Productions for putting this segment together. This video shows a company and their sustainable track record. Once you view this video, you will have a better idea of why our Team selects the products that we do..

Andersen Windows Sustainability Story from Adam Bearup on Vimeo.