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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

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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.

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SXM Needs to invest in wind and solar energy

St. Maarten, “Today”, Monday June 9th, 2008

 

GREAT BAY – We haven’t seen anything yet as far as the global energy crisis is concerned, says Steve Spence, director of New York-based Green Trust. “Gas at the pump is now around $4 a gallon in the States, but within three years I expect to see prices like $10 a gallon. We have to conserve; there is no other solution. Renewable fuels will not solve the problem, simply because we are unable to plant enough crops to produce a sufficient amount of bio-fuel.”
What does this mean for St. Maarten? The price of gas has just gone up to Naf. 2.50 ($1 .404 per liter). If the price were to follow the trend Spence predicts for the United States, motorists would be paying Naf. 6.25 ($3.51) per liter by the year 2011 –  and that’s right around the corner. Such fuel prices will have a serious impact for the island, not only on motorists, but also on our whole energy supply system. “St. Maarten will have to invest heavily in solar and wind power,” Spence says. He outlined his vision on St. Maarten’s energy-future Saturday evening during an exposé at Enviro Week in the Emilio Wilson Park. Spence, 43, has been living off the grid for five years now, meaning that he does not buy any energy from a utilities company back home. He is an IT engineer and an electronics technician who describes himself as a green conservative. “I probably would have been a hippie in the 60′s if I had been old enough,” he says on his web site. Spence lives off grid, powering his energy needs with solar and wind energy. As a back up, he uses a diesel generator that runs on vegetable – oil.

 

Production is down, demand increases

Spence’s view on the future of the energy markets hinges on two principal observations. First of all, the emerging economies in China and India result in a higher demand for oil. Arab countries also start using more oil. At the same time, world oil production has peaked in 2006, and is now in decline. To sum up: demand is increasing, and production is falling. That makes oil –  and by extension gas at the pump, and the traditional production of electricity – more expensive. “There will come a moment when you will not be able to buy oil at any price,” Spence says. “So you need alternatives for the moment when oil is no longer available.” In St. Maarten, utilities company GEBE produces electricity using diesel generators. Last year, the company invested. $31.9 million in two new Wartsilä diesel generators that will be delivered to the island next year; they will become operational in 2010. If Spence’s doomsday scenario becomes reality, the island will have to invest in alternatives –  and fast. Sun and wind energy are two untapped resources, the New Yorker says. One wind turbine can produce enough electricity for 700 homes.”
Twenty wind turbines

There are approximately 13,500 homes on the Dutch side of the island. To cover all energy needs with wind power, GEBE would have to install 20 wind turbines with a production capacity of 2.3 Megawatt each. The investment would be somewhere in the neighborhood of $94 million, or 167 million guilders. What if GEBE does not jump on the bandwagon? Spence: “This island enjoys plenty of sunshine and there is plenty of wind too. It blows my mind that not every home in St. Maarten has at least one or two solar panels on its roof. Why this is so, I do not know.”  Spence also discovered a misconception about solar panels. “Many people think solar panels are only fit to heat water. But there are also solar panels that produce electricity.” If GEBE, for one reason or another does not make the switch to wind energy, citizens have the option to take their own measures. “I can install a 1000 watt residential wind turbine for $1,000,” says Spence. “They are not hurricane resistant, but there is a solution for that situation. When a hurricane approaches, you crank down the turbine tower and when the weather improves, you crank it up again.” Investing in wind energy does not mean that diesel-powered systems have to be discarded. They can function as back up. In remote locations, wind energy is a cost-effective alternative for grid-extension. Private investments in wind energy do not have to cost homeowners any money. They can finance their investment and pay off the loan to the bank in seven to ten years in installments they would otherwise have to pay to the utilities company. “You don’t pay more money every month, but you are disconnected from the grid,” says Spence.

Conservation

The decline in oil production and the world’s ever-increasing demand make the need for conservation more pressing, Spence says. Energy efficient lighting and vehicles and insulated homes have to be part of the solution. “People will also have to consider car pooling, and limit the amount of trips they make with their cars.” Another energy-saving method is eliminating what Spence .calls “phantom loads.” This is the energy electrical appliances like TV’s, VCR’s and computers consume in stand-by mode. “I connect these appliances to an electrical strip and when I switch the strip off, they do not consume anything anymore,” Spence says. St. Maarten is also an ideal environment for the introduction of electric cars, Spence points out. “I could build an electric car with a range of around fifty miles that performs better than a gasoline-powered vehicle, even when it has to go up steep hills.”

Paul Mooij, founder of the Caribbean Foundation for Sustainability (CFS) that organizes Enviro Week, told Today that his organization will write a pressing letter to the Executive Council to draw its attention to the looming energy crisis and the possible solutions for St: Maarten.
For more information about living of the grid and other alternative energy solutions, go to www.Green-Trust.org.

 

Commentary

Doomsday

One could of course argue that Green Trust director Steve Spence has a product to sell and that we ought to take his message about soaring oil prices and the subsequent consequences for energy supply in St. Maarten with a grain of salt.
The Dutch Prime Minister Colijn famously told his citizens in a radio address on March 11, 1936, “I request that the listeners, when they go to bed, go to sleep as peacefully as they do on other nights. For the time being there is no reason whatsoever to be really concerned.”
These lines, later condensed to the more accessible term, “Why don’t you all go to sleep peacefully”, are often mistakenly contributed to Colijn on the eve of Germany’s invasion. In reality, Colijn spoke the words four years earlier, a couple of days after Nazi-Germany cancelled the treaty of Locarno, and after Hitler began to militarize the Rhineland.
Looking back, the four years that passed between Colijn’s unfortunate assessment and Hitler’s attack on the Netherlands, seem like an awfully short time. The Dutch had every reason to be concerned about Hitler’s activities. Had the government inspired them to take measures, many lives could have been saved. But the why-don’t-you-go-to-sleep-peacefully speech gave citizens a false sense of security.
A few years later, the Dutch government was off the mark again, when it told citizens how to deal with German firebombs (pick them up and stick them in a bucket of sand). Images of Rotterdam’s bombardment did not stop the government from repeating this type of ridiculous advice for a nuclear attack at the height of the cold war (cover yourself with a white sheet).
In other words, history proves that governments are not the reliable partners they ought to be. How does this relate to Spence’s predictions about the energy market and the way St. Maarten ought to react to it?
We let our readers be the judge of that, but it is almost certain that the energy markets will at least move in the direction that Spence has indicated.
That ought to be §sufficient reason to jump into action and to review the way St Maarten meets the community’s energy needs thoroughly. How our government will react to the situation is anybody’s guess. It will be a rainy day in hell when oil prices drop back to that idyllic level of $25 a barrel. That is not going to happen, ever:
Will it get worse? All indicators point in that direction.
Do we have alternatives to fend of the consequences of Spence’s doomsday scenario?
Absolutely.
To make those alternatives a reality we need political awareness first, followed by the political will to create solutions for the future that makes the island less dependant on a commodity that becomes scarcer every day. That future is not a next-generation thing; it is right around the corner.
It brings to mind the American expression, “the light is on, but there is nobody home” – a reference to somebody who is mentally not all there. If we do not tackle the energy issue in a decisive manner, Country St. Maarten could end up in a situation where “everybody is home, but all the lights are out.”
For sure, nobody wants that to happen.

 

 

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Saving Energy with Lighting

We all know that fluorescent lights use less electricity than incandescent lights, and are a good way to save big on the electric bill.

The big thing in the news though is the mercury content of fluorescent lights, and the fact that the T12 fluorescent tubes are being phased out.

Well, there is some good news! CFL’s & T5 Tubes have 1/10th the mercury content of the T12 tubes (3mg vs. 30mg), and the T5 tubes are more efficient than the T12′s (100 vs. 60 lumens / Watt.

According to the EPA, fluorescents reduce mercury emissions over incandescents, even though they contain minute amounts of mercury, because most mercury emissions (51%) come from coal fired power plants (57% of the USA’s Electric), and fluorescents drop power consumption enough to more than compensate for their own emissions if broken (there’s no mercury emissions if intact). Energystar.gov

I recently received the following and thought I’d share:

LUXADD introduces the Express T5 Retrofit Kit Series: Greener, more efficient fluorescent lighting saves up to 73% on energy costs

Lighting is the single largest user of electricity in schools, hospitals, office and other commercial (retail and service) buildings

(Miami, Florida) – Lighting is the single largest user of electricity in the U.S. New, patented technology from LUXADD allows for easy retrofitting of older, less efficient fluorescent lighting systems to T5, the leader in energy efficiency and lighting quality. The T5 saves up to 73% on lighting energy and reduces a company’s carbon footprint up to 60% with just one simple “SNAP” – like changing a light bulb.

The Lighting Technology for all commercial and residential applications in the U.S. and Canada

LUXADD’S Express T5 Retrofit Kit for T12 & T8 pays for itself with labor and energy savings within one year – and then continues to reduce lighting energy bills for building by up to 73% every year and a/c energy up to 15%. LUXADD offers the only linear fluorescent lighting conversion adapter specifically designed for the US and Canadian market. It is designed for all residential and commercial applications. LUXADDT is “Made in the USA” in effort to create new “green” jobs, promote a sustainable supply chain and ensure quality control.

The Need for Energy Efficiency

Rising energy costs directly impact all buildings in the U.S. Retail and service buildings in the U.S. use 149 billion kWh (or 508 trillion Btu) of site electricity (electricity consumed within the building) each year. This electricity is used for a variety of different purposes, the most being used for lighting (59%).

The majority of this electricity is used for lighting and office equipment (24%) (such as computers, printers, faxes and photocopiers). Both lighting and office equipment produce heat, requiring more air conditioning – another electricity end use – to cool the buildings.

The following percentage of electricity used simply to light different types of buildings includes:

Retail and Service: 59%

Education: 56%

Office: 44%

Health Care: 44%

Food Service: 30%

T12 phase out by the Department of Energy starting in July 2012

Most of the standard fluorescent lights in millions of buildings will need to be replaced starting in July 2012. The Department of Energy (DOE) regulations will eliminate the most common T12 tubes. It is estimated that the replacement of 500 million T12 tubes would produce an annual saving of $10 Billion in electricity costs nationwide. LUXADD is the only U.S. manufacturer of the new Express T5 Retrofit Kit Series to meet new Federal law mandating replacement of standard T12 (and elective replacement of T8 fluorescent light tubes to save up to 73% in lighting energy costs).

One-Year, Rapid ROI

LUXADD can instantly improve lighting energy efficiency and also save on air conditioning electricity costs used to cool the building due to heat produced by old-technology fluorescent lighting. The overall energy savings with LUXADD are up to 80%.

Made in the USA

LUXADD is a leading lighting solution provider based in Miami, FL and is comprised of experts dedicated to developing new technologies that improve energy efficiency in lighting, the single largest consumer of electricity worldwide. The U.S. Department of Energy’s fluorescent lighting made official that most of the T12 lamps will be phased out of production starting July 2012. Current lighting systems consisting of T12 fixtures with magnetic ballast will be retrofitted to modern T5 lamp technology with electronic ballast over time.

Environmental concerns, escalating energy costs and highly competitive economic conditions have created strong demand for energy efficient products that will help to conserve energy, save money and promote a healthy environment. LUXADD meets this need with products that dramatically reduce electricity consumption instantly while producing higher quality light. LUXADD is a registered trademark and the conversion adapter – the LUXADD Express T5 Retrofit Kit series is a patented technology. The company’s products are in compliance with the LEED and NAHB green building standards. http://www.luxadd.com/

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Marine Renewables: Farming the Ocean for Energy

With the world’s population surging north of seven billion, we’re pushing limited land resources harder to produce food and energy. Often, the two are in competition: using farmland to grow feedstock for biofuels drives up food prices. Fortunately, there is still one place on Earth where space is abundant and it makes up over 70 percent of the planet’s surface. The ocean is awash with potential for alternative energy.

But how are renewable energy initiatives faring on the high seas? There are hurdles to every renewable development, including environmental impacts, aesthetic concerns and high costs. But there are a number of technologies — from the far out to the icky to the downright cool – that have the potential to harness energy from the oceans.

Here is a look at the most fascinating recent innovations in marine renewable: http://www.txchnologist.com/2011/marine-renewables-farming-the-ocean-for-energy

SkySails

 

 

 

Floating Solar Panels

 

 

 

Marine Algae Power

 

 

 

Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion

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BIODIGESTER TURNS CAMPUS WASTE INTO CAMPUS ENERGY

University of California, Davis
April 22, 2014

BIODIGESTER TURNS CAMPUS WASTE INTO CAMPUS ENERGY

[Editor's note: Photos of the UC Davis biodigester can be downloaded at http://bit.ly/1gGZEUJ. ]

More than a decade ago, Ruihong Zhang, a professor of biological and agricultural engineering at the University of California, Davis, started working on a problem: How to turn as much organic waste as possible into as much renewable energy as possible.

Today, on Earth Day, the university and Sacramento-based technology partner CleanWorld are officially unveiling the UC Davis Renewable Energy Anaerobic Digester (READ) at the campus’ former landfill. Here, the anaerobic digestion technology Zhang invented is being used inside large, white, oxygen-deprived tanks. Bacterial microbes in the tanks feast on campus and community food and yard waste, converting it into clean energy that feeds the campus electrical grid.

“It has been the thrust of my research to bring the innovations we made possible at UC Davis to commercial scale,” Zhang said. “This technology can change the way we manage our solid waste. It will allow us to be more economically and environmentally sustainable. I am proud and grateful to be a part of the team who helped make this moment a reality.”

It is the third commercial biodigester CleanWorld has opened using Zhang’s technology within the past two years and is the nation’s largest anaerobic biodigester on a college campus.

The system is designed to convert 50 tons of organic waste to 12,000 kWh of renewable electricity each day using state-of-the-art generators, diverting 20,000 tons of waste from local landfills each year.

The facility took unique advantage of its location at the now closed UC Davis landfill by blending landfill gases — primarily methane — with the biogas to create a total of 5.6 million kWh per year of clean electricity. It is expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 13,500 tons per year.

The READ BioDigester encompasses several of the university’s goals: reducing campus waste in a way that makes both economic and environmental sense, generating renewable energy, and transferring technology developed at UC Davis to the commercial marketplace.

“The biodigester is the latest chapter in UC Davis’ world-renowned legacy of environmental sustainability,” said Linda P.B. Katehi, chancellor of UC Davis. “This project stands as a model public-private partnership and demonstrates what can be achieved when research universities and private industry collaborate to address society’s most pressing challenges.”

The project is decidedly homegrown: Campus waste is converted into renewable energy for the UC Davis electrical grid using technology invented by a UC Davis professor and licensed by CleanWorld. The company’s chief executive officer Michele Wong and vice president of research and development Josh Rapport are UC Davis alumni. Rapport received his doctorate in anaerobic digestion from UC Davis under Zhang’s tutelage in 2011.

“There is so much to celebrate today as we recognize the far-reaching environmental and sustainability impacts this technology will have,” Wong said. “It will enable the more than 100 million tons of organic waste each year that is currently being landfilled in the U.S. to be converted to clean energy and soil products. CleanWorld is proud to be the commercialization partner with Dr. Zhang and UC Davis for these game-changing innovations. With this project, we’ve crossed the bridge from research and development to commercialization and proven that CleanWorld’s high-solid AD system can be a feasible, cost-effective, and repeatable solution, not only for municipalities and communities, but also for universities and public institutions throughout California and the U.S.”

The READ BioDigester is a closed loop system, moving from farm to fork to fuel and back to farm. Whatever is not turned into biogas to generate renewable electricity can be used as fertilizer and soil amendments — 4 million gallons of it per year, which could provide natural fertilizers for an estimated 145 acres of farmlands each day.

Nearly half of the organic waste, or feedstock, needed to operate the biodigester to full benefit will come from UC Davis dining halls, animal facilities and grounds. CleanWorld is working with area food processing and distribution centers to supply the remaining amount. Meanwhile, UC Davis will earn 100 percent of the project’s green energy and carbon credits and receive all of the electricity generated.

Anaerobic digestion is an age-old process. However, Zhang’s patented technology made it more efficient — capable of eating a broader variety and bigger quantity of waste, turning it into clean energy faster and more consistently than other commercial anaerobic biodigesters.

The project benefits from a unique public-private partnership. While Zhang moved the technology forward, CleanWorld’s commercializing efforts have made it modular, cost-effective and faster to deploy, making it one of the most advanced, commercially available anaerobic digestion systems in the country. The READ BioDigester, for example, went from bare ground to full installation within six months. Its $8.5 million cost was roughly two-thirds less than other anaerobic digesters the university researched as potential renewable energy sources.

CleanWorld financed the majority of the project with private equity and a commercial loan with First Northern Bank. Approximately $2 million in public funding came from the U.S. Department of Energy and the California Energy Commission.

CleanWorld’s other two biodigesters are in the Sacramento area:

* The Sacramento BioDigester opened in December 2012 and can digest 25 tons per day. Construction is underway to expand its size to digest 100 tons per day and produce 700,000 gallons per year of renewable compressed natural gas, fueling both public and private fleets.
* The American River Packaging BioDigester in Natomas opened in April 2012. It can convert 10 tons of waste per day and generates roughly 1,300 kWh of energy daily.

About CleanWorld

CleanWorld is the leading North American innovator of advanced, high-solids anaerobic digestion (HSAD) technology. CleanWorld’s BioDigesters represent a generational leap forward in anaerobic digestion technology, dramatically reducing the time and cost of construction, commissioning and operation, while increasing output, efficiency, and revenue opportunities. A subsidiary of Synergex, a global leader in technology for more than 35 years, CleanWorld was founded and is managed by people committed to the idea that our precious organic resources should never be wasted.

About UC Davis

UC Davis is a global community of individuals united to better humanity and our natural world while seeking solutions to some of our most pressing challenges. Located near the California state capital, UC Davis has more than 34,000 students, and the full-time equivalent of 4,100 faculty and other academics and 17,400 staff. The campus has an annual research budget of over $750 million, a comprehensive health system and 13 specialized research centers. The university offers interdisciplinary graduate study and 99 undergraduate majors in four colleges and six professional schools.

Additional information:
* Download biodigester photos: http://bit.ly/1gGZEUJ
* Watch a video about the UC Davis biodigester: http://youtu.be/AgwHi6ogBpM
* Vine video: From lunch to lights: https://vine.co/v/MnmQ3EBtXOB
* Visit www.CleanWorld.comhttp://www.CleanWorld.com

Media contacts:
* Ruihong Zhang, UC Davis Biological and Agricultural Engineering, (530) 754-9530, rhzhang@ucdavis.edu
* Tracy Saville, CleanWorld, (916) 853-0362, tracy.saville@cleanworld.com, cell: (916) 717-3250
* Kat Kerlin, UC Davis News Service, (530) 752-7704, kekerlin@ucdavis.edu, cell: (530) 750-9195

See all of our news releases at http://www.news.ucdavis.edu.

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Private: A Home Energy Audit Can Save You Money!

You’ve heard all these things before – global warming, holes in the ozone layer, greenhouse gases, ice caps melting, poor air quality outdoors, smog, asthma and respiratory ailments, energy shortages, rising fuel prices, brownouts, blackouts, you’ve been whacked with high electricity and fuel bills yourself – and the list goes on and on.

Whatever reasons are most important to you, clearly something is going on and it’s time to act.

Dr. Energy Saver is a national network of Home Energy Saving experts.

Their Home Energy Checkup consists of a complete 95-point home energy audit:

* Thermal Scanning.
* Insulation Level Check.
* HVAC Inspection.
* Blower Door Testing.
* Appliance and Lighting Efficiency Checks.
* and 90 other Home Energy Tests to discover where you may be able to save money and lower your energy bills.

Saving Energy at Home – As part of the Home Energy Checkup, you will receive “Saving Energy and Money at Home – What to Have Done… and Why”, an 88-page, full-color book that discusses home energy saving steps with the quickest payback on your monthly electric and fuel bills.

http://www.drenergysaver.com/

Green Home Building and Remodeling

When it comes to home building and remodeling, much has changed in the last few years, with a clear shift in technologies, building materials and practices to more green homes. Savvy homeowners are quickly catching on to this new trend, looking to not only be environmentally conscious consumers, but to also take advantage of the numerous benefits that green homes afford, such as exceptional durability, energy savings, and improved quality of life. With a quickly growing number of informational resources, a slew of new products, service and construction companies, etc, you can keep yourself grounded and on track by focusing on the essentials of any green home.

What makes a new or remodeled home eco-friendly are the following components: a tight building envelope/insulation, roofing, siding, windows and heating system, all built utilizing green materials. These earth – friendly building materials are manufactured with a minimal amount of hazardous materials, are proven to last for decades without requiring maintenance and repairs, do not waste energy and can be recycled at the end of their service lives.

Tight Building Envelope/Insulation

A tight building envelope and high quality insulation are necessary to achieve superior durability and energy efficiency. If you already have a house and it does not have insulation, consider adding blown-in cellulose product. Not only is it eco-friendly (derived from 85 percent recycled paper products), but it is also three times more dense than fiberglass, thereby greatly reducing your home’s energy waste. For new construction, consider fiberglass or spray-foam insulation. While more expensive than fiberglass, spray-foam insulation offers tighter, more dense and more energy-efficient insulation for your walls and ceilings. On the other hand, one of the major benefits of fiberglass is that it is removable, and does not require any special equipment to install.

Roofing That Lasts

The roof is one of the most important components of making your home safe, durable and long lasting, and yet it is often the most overlooked. Installing a green roof on your home will prove to be one of the most financially sound home improvements you make. You will not know the pain of roof damage and leaks and will not have to deal with costly, maintenace, repairs and replacements for years to come.

When it comes to green roofing materials, you have a few choices depending on your home type, taste and budget. If you have a sloped roof home, one of the best investments you can make is to install a metal roof. Metal is considered to be the only truly green roofing material, when you factor in the manufacturing process, lifecycle costs, longevity, high energy efficiency and recyclability and the end of the roof’s service life. Metal roofs are considered cool roofs, which means that they reflect solar heat, thereby reducing energy waste produced by the home’s HVAC system throughout the year. A metal roof can save you up to 15% on your annual cooling costs. Additionally, during winter time, metal roofs eliminate ice dams, which can cause thousands of dollars of damage to your house. Keep in mind that metal roofing installation is a highly intricate process that requires specialized knowldege, equipment and training, and therefore should only be left to metal roofing professionals. One such company that operates in the Northeast is New England Metal Roof (newenglandmetalroof.com)

If you have a low slope/flat roof, a green material to go with is PVC single ply roofing membrane. A PVC roofing system is designed as a green roofing material. PVC is a fully recyclable roofing material that does not use any petrolium products in its manufacturing process. It also offers superior energy efficiency by reflecting upto 95% of solar heat. PVC is designed to last over 40 years and can be easily repaired if needed, which elimates costly replacements and landfill waste. Moreover, PVC roofs can withstand ponding water, ice build-ups and can be easily be applied around most complicated roof penetrations.

Green Siding

Amongst the wide range of choices available for siding, fiber-cement siding stands out as the green choice. It is composed of 50% recycled content and wood fiber pulp that is sourced from sustainably managed forests. While fiber cement siding may be a more costly option, it is more durable than wood and vinyl siding. It also requires very little maintenance, does not create hazardous waste when removed, and can be further recycled.

Another green choice to consider is steel or aluminum wall panel systems. With a variety of available integrated insulation, ventilation and heat absorption metal wall panel systems, you can reduce your heating and cooling energy consumption, by as much as 40%. Additionally, these systems are fully recyclable and are manufactured from up to 95% recycled metal.

Energy Efficient Windows

Windows are one of the most vulnerable parts of the home, through which both hot and cold air can escape, wasting tons of energy and driving up your heating and cooling costs throughout the year. To avoid these issues, its crucial to invest in energy efficient windows. Consider installing fiber glass frame windows with triple glazing and argon/krypton gas, which can offer up to 7R insulating value (a typical double pane window is only 3R). There are also specialty window products filled with heat absorbing liquid that absorb solar heat in the winter. These windows can supply up to 75% of your heating for the entire house, even on a very cold night.

Green Heating Systems

If your goal is to have a truly eco-friendly home, then a geothermal heating system is the way to go. Geothermal heating uses thermal energy stored inside the ground and extracts it by using a heat exchange process. This system only requires 25% of the energy to operate, when compared to traditional gas or oil systems of the same size. A geothermal system can also be used for air conditioning in the summer.

Geothermal heating systems are a costly investment, so if you are not ready to make the switch, consider going with gas heating. Gas heating is cleaner, more efficient and currently costs half the price of oil.

In case you have a south-facing roof, you can install solar thermal panels, which will heat your water throughout the year, and will also supplement your radiant heating system.

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North Country Sustainable Energy Fair & Home Tours

North Country Sustainable Energy Fair & Home Tours
WHEN: May 5-7, 2006
WHERE: SUNY Canton

The Energy Fair targets all sectors and the broad public and provides information on energy efficient technologies and building techniques, renewable energy systems, alternative fuels, energy policy and energy programs. SUNY-Canton is a major partner. NYSERDA is a sponsor.

For more information: Call Anne Heidenreich, North Country Energy $mart Communities at 315-379-9466 or email ces@slic.com. Click here for an agenda.

Steve Spence will be speaking on Off-Grid Energy & Living Systems and participating in an experts panel on Alternative Fuel Vehicles.

See photo’s Steve took at the fair in our photo album.

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Zeolite Stores Thermal Energy For Unlimited Amount of Time

By Tessel Renzenbrink

Scientists of the German Fraunhofer Institute have harnessed a natural phenomenon to store heat indefinitely and without energy loss.

Zeolite is a mineral that can store up to four times more heat than water. And what’s better, unlike water which gradually cools off, zeolite retains a hundred percent of the heat for an unlimited amount of time.

Zeolite – which means ‘boiling stone’ in Greek- was named for its peculiar properties. Zeolite is extremely porous. So much so, that a gram of the stuff has a surface area of a 1000 square meters (10,764 sq ft). When water comes into contact with zeolite it is bound to its surface by means of a chemical reaction which generates heat. Reversely, when heat is applied the water is removed from the surface, generating large amounts of steam.

The transference of heat to the material does not cause its temperature to rise. Instead, the energy is stored as a potential to adsorb water. The Fraunhofer scientists used these particular properties to turn zeolite into a thermal storage system. They created a storage device and filled it with zeolite pellets. To charge the pellets, they exposed them to heat. To retrieve the energy they simply added water.

The discovery can give a much anticipated boost to thermal storage. Power plants and many industrial processes produce heat as a byproduct. Up to fifty percent of the initial energy input is released as heat.

But heat is difficult to store. The most common form of thermal storage is in huge insulated water tanks. But water can only retain heat for a short period of time which makes it unsuitable for long distance transport. Therefore, in most processes heat is released into the environment unused.

Although the unique properties of zeolite were well known, until now, no one was able to turn it into a working thermal storage system. The German researchers first tested their system with small quantities zeolite to determine whether the material would remain stable over multiple charge and discharge cycles. And it did. Even after thousands of cycles.

Now they’ve built an up-scaled version with a storage volume of 750 liters which they’re testing under realistic conditions.

Read more at http://www.igb.fraunhofer.de

Additional resources including DIY info:


Utilization of natural zeolites for solar energy storage

SOLAR ENERGY APPLICATION OF NATURAL ZEOLITES

Solar Zeolite Ice Maker

EVALUATION OF A ZEOLITE-WATER SOLAR ADSORPTION REFRIGERATOR

Space Heating and Domestic Hot Water

DIY SOLAR ADSORPTION-DESORPTION REFRIGERATOR

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Toshiba’s A19 7.8 Watt 450 Lumen LED Dimmable Replacement Bulb

Toshiba International Corporation, Dec. 19, 2011 – Toshiba International Corporation announced today that its innovative new A19 LED lamp is now available on Best Buy’s website and in special sections of select Best Buy stores.

450 Lumens at only 7.8 watts!

The 40-watt equivalent LED light bulbs are featured in three Best Buy stores – one each in Houston, San Francisco, and Chicago – that just launched special home energy departments highlighting the latest and greatest energy-saving technologies. The LED lamp is also available on Best Buy’s website.

Unlike many other LED lamps launched to date, Toshiba’s A19 boasts a more traditional light bulb shape – a feature that research shows is important to lighting designers, specifiers, and consumers. Toshiba’s new A19 lamp is manufactured using patented technology that enables omnidirectional light distribution similar to that of an incandescent lamp.

The A19 lamp is also dimmable and comes in a 2700K color temperature. “Toshiba is extremely proud that its LED lamps have been selected as featured products in Best Buy’s Home Energy Departments,” said Ken Honeycutt, Senior Vice President at Toshiba International Corporation and the Chief Venture Executive for Toshiba LED Lighting Systems Division.

Manufactured to ENERGY STAR® performance levels and undergoing ENERGY STAR® testing now, Toshiba’s A19 LED lamp reduces energy use by more than 75 percent and lasts up to 40 times longer than incandescent lamps. In fact, based on an average use of three hours a day, the A19 lamp is rated to last 22.8 years. The lamp also features a 450-lumen output, reaches full brightness instantly, and contains no mercury or lead.

“Toshiba’s LED lighting is already featured in art museums and businesses around the world; now consumers can experience this beautiful lighting in their homes,” said Peter DallePezze, Vice President of Marketing and Product Development, Toshiba International Corporation LED Lighting Systems Division. “We believe Best Buy’s decision to carry LED lighting speaks to the exciting transition that’s taking place in the lighting industry,” DallePezze said. “Thanks to advances in technology, we are producing LED lamps that last for years and significantly reduce the energy usage in homes and commercial buildings. This represents a fundamental shift from selling a commodity product to a durable product with innovation behind it.”

The A19 lamp is backed by Toshiba’s 120-year heritage as a preferred lighting manufacturer in Japan and by Toshiba’s reputation worldwide as a reliable manufacturer of quality electronics products. As one of the largest lighting companies and LED lamp manufacturers in the world, Toshiba is dedicated to creating high quality light, while keeping energy consumption low. One hundred percent of Toshiba’s current lighting product offering and lighting product development in the U.S. is based on LED technology.

To demonstrate their commitment to LED technology as the superior choice for lighting, Toshiba abandoned production of incandescent light bulbs in March 2010. Toshiba was the first major lighting manufacturer to proactively discontinue the production of incandescent light bulbs in favor of energy-efficient LED lamps. Further exemplifying Toshiba’s commitment to producing high-quality, energy-efficient LED lighting, 25 of the company’s LED light bulbs recently received the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s ENERGY STAR label.

In order to qualify for ENERGY STAR certification, light bulbs must use up to 75 percent less energy and last at least 15 times longer than comparable incandescent lighting.

About Toshiba International Corporation

Toshiba International Corporation (TIC) is a Toshiba America Inc. (TAI) Group Company, a wholly owned subsidiary of Toshiba Corporation. TIC is headquartered in Houston, Texas and employs approximately 1,100 people. TIC provides application solutions to a wide range of industries including lighting systems, industrial, power systems, and transmission and distribution systems. For more information about TIC, please visit www.toshiba.com/ind.

About Toshiba International Corporation’s LED Lighting Systems Division

Toshiba International Corporation’s LED Lighting Systems Division provides the North American market with a variety of high-efficiency LED products. Drawing upon Toshiba’s 120-year heritage of lighting innovations in Japan and world-class electronic and semi-conductor technologies, the LED Lighting Systems Division is emerging as a leader in solid state lighting. The LED Lighting Systems Division is committed to providing lighting solutions that enhance the quality of life and meet the diverse needs of its customers. Further information is also available online at www.toshiba.com/lighting.

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