Conserving To Buy Time

Thursday 26 March 2015 at 8:17 pm

As we continue shooting forward into the future, we are becoming more and more dependent on energy to power us through life. Simultaneously, we come ever closer to running out of the principal sources of fuel through which we generate this energy. And while we (mostly) know that we need to switch to alternative and sustainable energy sources, there is something that we can do in the meantime until those sustainable energy sources become the majority. That would be conserving energy.

The idea of energy conservation is nothing new, at least to commercial industries, but in homes, it is usually only done in an effort to reduce electricity bills. But as we find ourselves as a society coming to a paradigm shift in terms of energy, everyone needs to get involved with energy conservation to ensure that there is enough for tomorrow.

Doing so is also easier than most would imagine as there is consumer technology that exists solely for the purpose of reducing electrical consumption. Products like LED light bulbs, energy savers (more at, programmable thermostats, Energy Star appliances, etc. These devices literally do all the work in terms of energy saving so the user need not change any of their usage habits.

If each and every individual were to cut down their usage by just 10% (which is a very attainable figure from using the above mentioned methods) we could stretch out our available resources by decades. And while we don’t want to continue relying on fossil fuel any longer than we have to, we don’t want to be without power either.

So check out some of the various energy saving solutions above. Not only will you be doing your part to help in global energy conservation, but you’ll also save yourself a nice amount of money on your future electricity bills.

How To Get A Faster Return On Wind Or Solar Installations

Thursday 19 March 2015 at 6:46 pm

If you have a wind or solar power house or are considering switching to solar or wind power for your home, then congratulations on being an environmentally minded individual. You are doing (or are about to do) something that will really make a difference in the condition of our planet. Unfortunately, you’ve spent (or are about) a good deal of money on something that while being environmentally friendly, doesn’t give the fastest return in the world. With solar and wind, there are a lot of variables that determine how much energy you’ll produce, and that can make it hard to tell when you would have gotten your money back on the investment. But either way, it’s going to be in terms of years (9 - 12) which is no small amount of time.

There are, fortunately, several different things you can do in order to speed up your return. One of the most effective of them would be to install a power saver in your home. A power saver will recycle the electricity that gets wasted by many of your appliances by first collecting it, and then sending back to your other appliances for use. It can reduce the amount of energy consumed monthly by 10 to 20 percent and is the perfect compliment to any wind power or solar power house (or any home for that matter).

The less energy you’re using, the more you can rely on your solar array or wind turbines and the less energy you’ll need to buy from the power company. Plus, if you’re using less electricity overall, there’s a better chance you’ll produce more power than necessary and can even sell some back to the power company which also speeds up your return.

So help yourself make your money back. You deserve it for your efforts to help and preserve the environment.

Cheaper Electricity Through Sustainable Sources

Thursday 12 March 2015 at 8:51 pm

If you ever needed a reason to get behind clean energy, then how’s about this one: Clean solar energy and wind power generation plants can, using new technology, generate more electricity for less than nuclear. This is great news for environmentalists and also the general public. Finally some incentive to give governments the push they need to invest more in sustainable energy sources.

But what is that a big deal? Well, let’s look at the current energy generation scene. Most electricity today is generated by burning coal and other fossil fuels. This results in a lot of pollution, namely, carbon dioxide gas. This gas has the ability (and already has) to change the composition of the Earth's atmosphere thus changing how much of the sun’s energy is kept on the surface. The more energy is stored, the hotter it gets. This has the ability to severely upset the various, fragile ecosystems that we ourselves are part of.

Not to mention the fact that we are running out of these fuel sources anyways. Experts predict that in as little as 50 years, we could be seeing the last of oil and coal. So an alternative is needed.

Nuclear has been poised to be that answer, and while cleaner than burning coal, it still has the potential for disaster (witness Fukushima, Japan). So that leaves us with solar and wind energy.

Thanks to recent developments, solar energy and wind power can be generated using these methods in a much more efficient manner than before, thus making them the new prime candidates for our future energy sources.

The Added benefit for the end user? A less expensive energy bill. As we won’t be running out of solar energy anytime soon, there is no need to continue to drill (nor frack) and thus our precious planet is preserved while we still get the energy we need.

Keeping Electricity Costs Down With A Few Simple Tips

Thursday 05 March 2015 at 8:43 pm

As inflation takes its toll, more and more families are looking for new and creative ways to save money. One of them,which has proven quite effective has been through saving on electricity. At first, one might assume that saving electricity would require that some use of it be forsaken, but this isn’t actually the case. A good deal of money can be saved on electricity easily and painlessly if a few simple steps are followed to cut your electric bills:

  1. Go for efficiency. The main idea behind saving money on electricity is that you’re trying to use it in a more efficient way, rather than to consciously use less as this typically leads to restricting one’s use of appliances and devices (which is no fun at all). This can be done by buying Energy Star appliances, or switching to high efficiency light bulbs.

  2. Ensure that you put an end to all waste. A lot more electricity gets wasted than you may at first imagine. With utilities like water, you can literally see when waste is occurring, but electricity is a bit trickier. For example, some appliances draw more electricity than needed while others draw some charge even when turned off. These sources of waste can be eliminated through the use of a power saver device and smart power strips.

  3. Finally, use common sense. Don’t leave appliances on when you don’t need them. Remember that certain devices (like modern TV sets) don’t really ever turn off (notice how there is always a light on the face of the device) and thus need to be unplugged to not draw any current. Do your laundry with cold water and in one big load rather than many small ones. These simple little things can really go a long way towards helping you achieve a much lower monthly electric bill.

So takes these tips seriously and put them into good use, and you’ll find that with a little discipline, you’ll cut your electric bills and be paying less for electricity than you have in years.

Five Ways To Celebrate Earth Day

Wednesday 04 February 2015 at 7:47 pm

by Antonio Pasolini

earthEarth Day is upon us, the day when we take stock of our relationship to the planet. Recent news have not been very encouraging as the levels of GHG in the atmosphere has reached record levels. Still, we must not lose focus because this is the only Earth we have and everyday is Earth Day. Here are some ideas on how to make Earth Day a daily fact in your life.


a) Consume less – with finite resources, curbing our consumption is the golden rule to lessen our impact on the planet. Buy what is necessary and of high quality, even if it costs more. Buy second hand whenever possible.
b) Act locally – Sometimes it is easier to think about the carbon in the atmosphere and forget about our immediate environs. The Earth is what you are stepping on. In every community there are ecological issues that need to be dealt with and it’s up to local people to deal with them
c) Recycle – Recycling is a mantra that we need to repeat every day. Re-cycle, re-use, re-purpose things.
d) Save water – Water resources are dwindling and we need to decrease our consumption of it. Turn off the shower while you soap, turn off the tap while you brush your teeth, say goodbye to sprinklers and hoses. Consider a rainwater collector if you live in a house.
e) Go vegan – Animal agriculture is the biggest source of GHG emissions, besides polluting waterways, causing deforestation, conflicts with wildlife and driving soil erosion. A vegan diet is healthier, too, not to mention more ethical. The web is chock a-block with recipes and advice on how to go vegan.

Four Ways Winter Weather Is Causing Energy Supply Problems

Wednesday 04 February 2015 at 7:42 pm

Posted by Patrick J. Kiger

weatherA massive winter storm hit much of the U.S. Tuesday, dumping heavy snowfall along the East Coast and sending temperatures plunging from 15 to 30 degrees below normal from the Mid-Atlantic region to the upper Midwest. But in addition to causing school closings and disrupting highway traffic, frigid winter weather has far-reaching effects on energy production and distribution—from slowing oil and gas wells and refineries to briefly shutting down a nuclear power plant in the Midwest because of ice.

Here are some examples of how the cold can cause problems.

Natural Gas Demand—and Prices—Soar
Extremely cold temperatures drive up demand for natural gas for heating, increasing withdrawals from underground storage facilities and driving up prices. The U.S. Energy Information Administration reported that during the week ending January 10, more than 285 billion cubic feet of gas was withdrawn, the most on record. Platts, the energy information service, reported that spot natural gas prices in the Northeast surged to all-time highs on January 21.  EIA analyst Angelina LaRose said that suppliers typically withdraw from reserves during cold snaps, but that surge in demand during cold weather is bumping up against the limitations of natural gas pipeline capacity particularly in the Northeast. “The capacity going into New England is more than 85 percent utilized right now,” she said.

Propane Shortages Hit
Platts reported on January 21 that the price of propane surged to $2.45 per gallon, the highest on record and a surge of nearly 70 cents, as stocks of propane dipped to record lows for January.  In Ohio, shortages prompted Gov. John Kasich proclaimed a “state of energy emergency” and lifted restrictions on driving times and working hours for truck drivers delivering propane and heating oil.

Oil and Gas Production Slows
Freezing temperatures also make it more difficult to get oil and gas out of the ground. EIA reported that so-called “freeze-offs” occurred in parts of the Marcellus Shale play in northeastern Pennsylvania in early January. Refineries, too, can suffer interruptions because of cold weather: During the deep freeze of early January, refineries from Detroit to Memphis reported equipment problems caused by the low temperatures. The problems caused a spike in gasoline prices in the Midwest.

Nuclear Plants Get Iced In
At Nebraska’s Fort Calhoun nuclear power plant, below-freezing temperatures earlier this month caused an icy buildup on one of the six sluice gates that control the flow of Missouri River water, which is used to cool and condense steam from the plant’s turbines. When workers couldn’t close the gate, the Omaha Public Power District was forced to temporarily shut down the plant.  “We’re still in the middle of studying how exactly it happened,” said Power District spokesman Jeff Hanson. He said that the plant has barriers in place to protect the cooling system from river ice, but that officials are investigating the possibility that a leaking pipe over the sluice gate caused the ice buildup. In January 2010, one of the three reactors at the Salem nuclear power plant in New Jersey was forced to shut down briefly when ice got into its cooling system.

Lab Uses Lightning Bolt to Charge Smartphone

Friday 30 January 2015 at 9:28 pm

Posted by Christina Nunez

lightningSometimes our dependency on battery-charging devices seems ironic, considering the abundance of energy around us that is being generated every day by sources as mundane as the human hand, footsteps, and lightning, which strikes the Earth dozens of times per second. (See related photos: “Immense, Elusive Energy in the Forces of Nature.”)

A typical lightning bolt produces between 1,000 and 5,000 megajoules of energy, enough to power a car for about 180 to 910  miles (290 to 1,450 kilometers), and certainly enough to charge a cell phone, if you happen to be standing near a bolt and a transformer that can regulate the voltage. Scientists at the University of Southampton in the United Kingdom recently succeeded in simulating just such a scenario, prompted by phone maker Nokia.

Reproducing the electrical conditions of lightning, researchers at the Tony Davies High Voltage Laboratory ran 200,000 volts through a transformer, charging a Nokia Lumia 925 phone within seconds. The experiment, while fun to watch and a nice plug for Nokia, might prompt one to wonder what the point is, as most of us have other concerns when when we are in very close proximity to lightning, such as avoiding electrocution. (See related photos: “Nature Yields New Ideas for Energy and Efficiency.”)

Nokia is careful to note that they “obviously aren’t recommending people try this experiment at home.” Instead, the company views the research as an avenue toward innovation in wireless charging.

“This discovery proves that the device can be charged with a current that passes through the air, and is a huge step towards understanding a natural power like lightning and harnessing its energy,” said the lab’s Neil Palmer in a release.

Indeed, other companies are actively researching the potential of wireless charging. WiTricity, a company based near Boston,  is working on a system that could conduct electricity from walls and carpets through the air, allowing devices to draw power without wires. The technology is also being tested on electric cars, which could charge when parked on pads that transmit power to coils in the vehicle. (See related story: “Wireless Power May Cut the Cord for Plug-In Devices, Including Cars.”)

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