How Much Will Energy Star Rated Appliances Save You?

Tuesday, August 19, 2014 12:17

Energy StarWhen you consider that home appliances like refrigerators, dishwashers and laundry machines account for about 13% of your home energy costs, it only makes sense to take a close look at their efficiency. High-efficiency appliances like those with Energy Star ratings not only save money in the long run, but they also benefit the environment. Case in point: In 2010, Americans saved enough power with their Energy Star-rated appliances to prevent greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to those from 33 million cars, which also equaled about $18 billion in utility bill savings.

Energy Star-rated appliances can have higher price tags than their standard counterparts, but you must consider the dollars you’ll save over the lifetime of the appliance, which, in most cases, more than makes up for the initial cost increase.

What is Energy Star? Read the rest of this entry »

Be Sociable, Share!

    What’s New in the World of Renewables – India’s Floating Solar Panels

    Thursday, July 31, 2014 16:56

    floatingSolar

    It was 1985 when the first Tour de Sol, a Swiss rally for solar powered vehicles, ushered in a new era of design and innovation for solar energy use. Among the first of its kind, the contest challenged teams of students and engineers to use solar cells to propel their “racecars” through Swiss towns. Now, nearly 30 years later, similar competitions all over the world openly invite interested parties to engage with solar technology in ways that maintain the velocity of its innovation and implementation.

    American Sun Read the rest of this entry »

    Be Sociable, Share!

      Microgrids, They’re Kind of a Big Deal

      Thursday, July 17, 2014 14:17

       

      For locals participating in the Pecan Street Demonstration in Austin’s suburban town of Mueller, TX, residential carbon footprint data is about as available as square footage. Their home utility consumption is monitored by the Pecan Street Research Institute at The University of Texas-Austin as part of the institute’s efforts to understand how individuals can lower their collective carbon impact and use energy more efficiently. This new technology, known as a smart grid system, has proven to be much more efficient than the traditional electrical grid used throughout the US. However, smart grids and the smart meters used to track energy usage of individual homes have come under fire for their ‘invasiveness’ as people have vocalized concerns about the lack of privacy that could accompany this advanced monitoring system. Fortunately for the anti-smart meter crowd, there are other ways to make a community more energy efficient.

      Microgrid Read the rest of this entry »

      Be Sociable, Share!

        Convincing Homeowners of the Importance of an Energy Audit

        Tuesday, July 8, 2014 13:23

        Home Energy Audit

        Even though one of the biggest complaints from homeowners is high energy costs, convincing them of the value of a home energy audit can still be a challenge. The audit is quick and painless, typically involving the use of infrared cameras and blower doors, and the findings in regards to the home’s energy efficiency can be addressed to drastically reduce electric bills. Pinpointing the problem is really the most reliable, efficient way to cut excess spending on utilities.

        What is a home energy audit, anyway?

        Read the rest of this entry »

        Be Sociable, Share!

          The World Cup of Renewable Energy

          Thursday, July 3, 2014 13:28

           

          Unless you’ve been living under a rock, or in a room without tv access (like me), you’ve probably seen one, or several world cup games in recent days. FIFA has been everywhere lately, and not just for soccer (..or football). One hot button topic surrounding the 2014 World Cup games are the measures that planners and developers have gone through to reduce the environmental impact of the games. Of the 12 stadiums being used for the games, 10 have applied for LEED certification, a recognition that indicates a high level of sustainable awareness. While the ultimate goal of the organizers is to have some sort of green energy integrated in all of the stadiums, as of now only four of the stadiums utilize solar energy in their design. To put numbers into perspective, the installation at Estadio Mineirão produces enough energy to power about 1,200 households, while the Solar PV system at Estádio Nacional Mané Garrincha will generate enough energy to supply almost 2,000 households per day which is a great step towards creating a more sustainable society.

          Brazil has very obviously dedicated much thought and planning to their renewable energy projects, but what about some of the other countries participating in the World Cup? Read the rest of this entry »

          Be Sociable, Share!

            The Case for CFLs [Infographic]

            Tuesday, June 24, 2014 9:30

            With the cost of energy increasing at a steady rate, and the promise of record breaking summer heat looming in the near future, the time has come for consumers to think of effective and innovative ways to save money on their utility bills.

            The most reliable way to reduce excess spending on energy is to get an energy audit performed on your home. If you’re thinking about getting an energy audit, it is important to ensure that the person auditing your home has received their BPI certification and is knowledgeable about the ins and outs of home energy auditing. In some cases, homeowners can get a free energy audit by contacting their utilities company. Summer can be a hectic time and booking a home energy audit may not be at the top of your to-do list. So until you can schedule an audit, check out this simple suggestion for cutting back on your cost of utilities.

            Bright Idea

            One small change that can have a massive impact is switching the bulbs in your house to energy efficient Compact Fluorescent Lamps, or CFLs. In addition to saving money on home energy bills, CFLs are also better for the environment than standard incandescent bulbs as they pull less electricity from power grids and in turn require less output, and pollution from power plants.

            Since their market introduction in the mid 80s, CFLs have been a widely debated topic in the lighting and home improvement fields as consumers voiced concerns about installing CFLs in their homes and offices as the bulbs contain trace amounts of mercury. Bulb manufacturers took notice and responded to the criticisms and concerns through a well developed series of technological improvements, and safe recycling methods. CFLs have come a long way since their introduction, and the future of this energy efficient lighting source is looking bright.

            Check out this infographic to see why using CFLs in your home or office is a great money saver and a giant step towards becoming more energy efficient.

            DIY Energy Efficiency

            For a full list of energy saving tips, click here.

             

             

            Be Sociable, Share!

              The Sun Sets on an Outdated Business Model

              Tuesday, May 20, 2014 13:41
              Posted in category Energy Efficiency, Renewables

              Solar Word Cloud

              We are beginning to see an increased sophistication of the business models in the residential solar sector. Historically, solar energy in the residential sector has largely been inaccessible to the everyman due to the high initial investment of purchasing and installing the panels.

              To combat this issue, solar manufacturers and installers, often separate companies themselves, connected homeowners with the available grants, loans and/or renewable energy financing firms. This initiative helped many homeowners realize that rooftop solar panels were affordable for them. Read the rest of this entry »

              Be Sociable, Share!

                Convincing Homeowners of the Benefits of Air Sealing

                Friday, April 25, 2014 14:44

                 

                A challenge contractors often face is convincing homeowners of the many benefits of air sealing. Often times, homeowners see this as no more than an additional expense that they do not need. However, what many homeowners do not realize is that air sealing can make a great difference in air quality while also lowering energy bills. As a contractor, you want to do your best to look out for your clients. Here are some tips to convince them of the benefits of air sealing. By utilizing these, you may be able to increase air sealing sales, which benefits not only you as a contractor but the homeowners in the long term as well.

                Show Visuals

                Visuals can be a great tool to help convince people about the benefits of air sealing. Some studies have come to the conclusion that 65% of people are visual learners and the effective use of visuals can help decrease learning time, improve comprehension, enhance retrieval, and increase retention. I recommend showing a chart like the one above from the EPA when explaining air sealing benefits to a homeowner. Read the rest of this entry »

                Be Sociable, Share!

                  How the Military is (Indirectly) Fueling the Solar Industry

                  Wednesday, March 5, 2014 10:28
                  Posted in category Energy Efficiency

                  Obama Solar MilitaryIf ever there was a champion of efficiency, the military would be it. Energy efficiency is no exception to this generalization. As The Solar Foundation (TSF) and Operation Free tell us in a recent Veterans in Solar report, the U.S. military has scaled up its use of distributed renewable energy technologies, at home and in combat zones, to strengthen energy security and improve operational costs and capabilities.

                  Always occupying a certain crest on the waves of technological innovation, the American military has made efforts toward energy independence, bolstered by a Department of Defense (DoD) mandate to use renewable power for 25% of total facility energy consumption by 2025. Read the rest of this entry »

                  Be Sociable, Share!

                    How Behavioral Science Can Increase Energy Efficiency Adoption

                    Monday, December 10, 2012 19:01
                    Posted in category Energy Efficiency

                    Energy Efficiency BehaviorBy Sam Shrank/GreenOrder

                    Utility operations are being forced to evolve as customer expectations shift, technological change continues and new players enter adjacent markets. As utilities chart their course in areas such as energy efficiency, smart grid, and distributed generation, they find themselves in unfamiliar positions. The second in our four-part series (See Part I by my colleague, Mat McDermid, Finding the Regulated Utility Role in a Shifting Energy Landscape), we discuss how utilities can leverage behavioral science research as they expand into markets where they are not a monopoly and customers need to be convinced about the benefits of the products and services offered.

                    Since setting up auto-pay the day I moved into my apartment, I’ve given no thought to my utility bill. Given that my job is to analyze and advise utilities, I’d venture to say most people are no more engaged. However, with an evolving set of customer offerings—energy efficiency (EE), alternative fuel vehicles, demand response, and the like—many utilities are realizing that they may require better, different, or more communication. In short, they are discovering what it means to sell.

                    And not only are they beginning to market things customers may not feel they need, they now have competitors as well, particularly in the EE market. Various other entities are looking to advise large electricity and gas users about how to lower their bills and provide help with financing, sell devices directly to customers that increase automation and control, or take over the utility’s role as the provider of EE offerings funded through utility bill surcharges. All of these reduce both the direct benefit to utilities from performance incentives and the indirect benefits from higher customer satisfaction, improved regulatory relationships, and perceived leadership.

                    Read the rest of this entry »

                    Be Sociable, Share!