Plug Monitors Save Energy – I did not even know they existed

For someone like me that has been at this for so long, you get a little lazy about keeping up with the new stuff so this caught me off guard.

 

http://www.treehugger.com/clean-technology/the-power-monitor-top-tools-for-watching-your-home-energy-use.html

 

The Power Monitor: Top Tools for Watching Your Home Energy Use

You can reduce electricity use by 15 percent without trying. Sound too good to be true? It isn’t. For those consumers using power monitors, this these are typical reductions. Just by being aware of where and when electricity is used, you’re far more likely to off a few devices or flipping a few light switches that might have been left on before, and can make a big dent in their energy consumption. IBM just solidified this statistic with their recent smart meter pilot program, and those households who really put in the effort showed as much as a 40% reduction on energy use. When looking at ways to monitor the energy consumption in a home, power monitors fit in three big buckets: checking the consumption of single devices or appliances, monitoring the energy use of a whole house, and online dashboards that link up with utility companies as part of a smart grid. The steady advance of smart grid technologies will bring more and more user-friendly options to the table. But for now, here are the three umbrella categories, and a few of the top tools under each that are helping people shrink the amount of electricity they use.

Plug Load Power Monitors

Kill A Watt is a classic example of a plug load monitor. These are power monitors that plug into a wall outlet, and then the device is plugged into them. They monitor how much energy the device is sucking up. They’re a great way to know which devices are power sippers, and which need to be unplugged. Other examples are the Watts Up Pro, which is similar to, but bulkier than the Kill A Watt; and the Brultech ECM-1220, which can monitor not only plug-in devices but also things that are wired into the home or the plug isn’t accessible (like dishwashers or ceiling fans) thanks to a current sensor that clamps onto the cord of the device.

 

The price range is significant, from about $35 for a Kill A Watt, to about $120 for a Watts Up, to about $250 for a Brultech ECM-1120. So your investment can vary, and really depends on how involved you need your basic plug load monitor to be.

You can check out a couple of these reviewed by Jon Plowman, the former head of BBC Comedy, along with some from the next category

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Go there and read. More next week.

 

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Home Energy Use Has Shifted – Appliances now take more juice

I am really shocked by this article. The idea that residential energy consumption could change so dramatically  in only 16 years is so amazing. Its like when we shifted to coal or later when we shifted to natural gas and then electricity. Only nobody is really talking about it.

 

http://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.cfm?id=10271

March 7, 2013

Heating and cooling no longer majority of U.S. home energy use

For decades, space heating and cooling (space conditioning) accounted for more than half of all residential energy consumption. Estimates from the most recent Residential Energy Consumption Survey (RECS), collected in 2010 and 2011 and released in 2011 and 2012, show that 48% of energy consumption in U.S. homes in 2009 was for heating and cooling, down from 58% in 1993. Factors underpinning this trend are increased adoption of more efficient equipment, better insulation, more efficient windows, and population shifts to warmer climates. The shift in how energy is consumed in homes has occurred even as per-household energy consumption has steadily declined.

While energy used for space conditioning has declined, energy consumption for appliances and electronics continues to rise. Although some appliances that are subject to federal efficiency standards, such as refrigerators and clothes washers, have become more efficient, the increased number of devices that consume energy in homes has offset these efficiency gains. Non-weather related energy use for appliances, electronics, water heating, and lighting now accounts for 52% of total consumption, up from 42% in 1993. The majority of devices in the fastest growing category of residential end-uses are powered by electricity, increasing the total amount of primary energy needed to meet residential electricity demand. As described in yesterday’s Today in Energy, increased electricity use has a disproportionate effect on the amount of total primary energy required to support site-level energy use.

Other notable trends in household energy consumption include:

  • The average U.S. household consumed 11,320 kilowatthours (kWh) of electricity in 2009, of which the largest portion (7,526 kWh) was for appliances, electronics, lighting, and miscellaneous uses.
  • On average, residents living in homes constructed in the 1980s consumed 77 million Btu of total energy at home. By comparison, those living in newer homes, built from 2000 to 2009, consumed 92 million Btu per household, which is 19% more.
  • Space heating accounted for 63% of natural gas consumed in U.S. homes in 2009; the remaining 37% was for water heating, cooking, and miscellaneous uses.

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Solid State Lighting – Why state of the art energy solutions are not applied

Residential energy conservation has stagnated somewhat in the last 3 or 4 years. I do not know what the dampers are, whether it is price or attitude for instance. New houses are a lot more efficient but the efforts to improve existing housing stock have stalled. Here is an article about those latest techniques.

http://www.nyserda.ny.gov/Energy-Efficiency-and-Renewable-Programs/Residential/Emerging-Technologies-and-Accelerated-Commercialization.aspx

Emerging Technologies and Accelerated Commercialization (ETAC) in the Residential Sector

Opportunities to achieve energy-efficiency gains in the residential sector beyond traditional building and retrofit techniques have been limited by underutilization of emerging technologies that are commercially-available, but face barriers to widespread adoption in the industry. Technologies and techniques such as solid state lighting, lighting controls, home energy management systems, smart-grid integration, micro-combined heat and power, and super insulation have proven benefits. But they have seen limited market adoption, due to obstacles such as upfront costs, consumer and builder awareness and the lack of infrastructure support, including activities such as supply chain development, sales training and installer certification.

The ETAC initiative seeks to address the barriers to market acceptance by facilitating in-field demonstrations and the subsequent technology transfers. Widespread, large-scale demonstrations will incorporate these technologies into energy-efficiency projects, where the savings potential will be monitored and validated. In parallel, other marketplace needs will be addressed, such as the development of a training curriculum for designers and specifiers, installer-certification standards, consumer-education materials, and maintenance processes. Following the demonstration period, results will be communicated to the marketplace via various means such as case studies, presentations, and webinars.

While this specific initiative is focused on emerging technologies in the residential sector, NYSERDA will also demonstrate emerging technologies for the multifamily and commercial/industrial sectors through parallel ETAC initiative

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Should SolarCity Change Its Name – Changing their name to EfficiencyCity

I mean really if they are going to drop their insistence on solar panel installations as part of a retrofit then why keep the name? Are they now a software company or are they now a software and then install whatever company? Good questions with no answers. It would be like Tide if it were to stop making soap and started making dishwashers. Would they keep the name and why?

http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/a-peak-at-solarcitys-new-energy-efficiency-software?

Has SolarCity Created the Amazon 1-Click for Energy Efficiency?

 

“We believe SolarCity has the best database of residential energy use of anyone in the world.”

 

Stephen Lacey: June 28, 2013

 

After SolarCity shifted its energy efficiency strategy and pulled back from doing residential retrofits in-house, the solar services behemoth is moving straight into intelligent efficiency.

 

GTM’s Eric Wesoff recently reported on SolarCity’s evolving business plan and the resulting changes that company executives say will scale residential efficiency in the same way solar services have scaled residential solar.

 

But solar is very different from efficiency. For the most part, solar is very standardized and installations are uniform from home to home. Efficiency retrofits encompass an extraordinarily broad category of activities and skills. Incentives are also quite different for efficiency, making it more complicated from a financial perspective. That’s why only a handful of U.S. solar contractors have offered efficiency as an in-house service.

 

SolarCity decided that doing the retrofit work itself was not the best way to scale. Instead, it has turned from manpower to the power of big data.

 

The secret sauce is a “simulation engine” that shows homeowners exactly how much they’re spending on energy everywhere in their house. The initial database was created using information from 16,000 home energy audits performed over the last five years. It relies on an algorithm developed at the Department of Energy that crunches 100 million calculations per home for each individual energy efficiency audit (which is still performed by SolarCity when installing solar).

 

“The simulation software looks at every component in a home in relation to one another,” said SolarCity COO Peter Rive. “Every ten minutes, it thinks about what one thing is doing and about its effect on the rest of the systems within the home.”

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Even Georgia Has Tough Energy Codes Now – Some things have changed

Other things have not changed. I mean we are still burning coal to fuel electric generators, 30 years after we should have stopped. We still flirt with the idea of Nuclear Powered power plants. But here is part of the Georgia Code, a State not known for anything progressive.

http://www.southface.org/learning-center/library/res-code-faq#24

22.    What is the difference between a mass wall and a basement wall, and what are the insulation requirements for both?

A mass wall is a heavy wall that is more than half above grade wall and is constructed of a fairly massive material (e.g., concrete, block, insulated concrete forms, masonry cavity, non-veneered brick , adobe, compressed block, rammed earth, and solid logs). A basement wall is a wall that is more than half below grade and encloses conditioned space. Insulation requirements for basement walls and mass walls depend on the location of the insulation and the type of insulation (whether it is continuous or insulation installed in a cavity). Requirements also vary by climate zone. Below is a table detailing the insulation requirements in the energy code.

Wall Type Insulation Location and Type Climate Zone 4 Climate Zone 3 Climate Zone 2
Basement Wall Interior – Continuous R-10 R-5 R-0
Basement Wall Interior – Cavity R-13 R-13 R-13
Mass Wall Interior-Cavity R-13 R-13 R-13
Mass Wall Exterior or Integral- Continuous R-5 R-5 R-4
Mass Wall Interior – Continuous R-10 R-8 R-6

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If you are a glutton for punishment, go there and read. More next week.

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Green Investments Pay – Not according to the FHFA

This is an interesting Blog and an interesting post. I am no good at posting videos so:

http://legalplanet.wordpress.com/2012/09/09/are-pace-financed-residential-energy-improvements-capitalized-into-home-prices/

Are PACE Financed Residential Energy Improvements Capitalized into Home Prices?

September 9, 2012

The FHFA believes that an unintended consequence of obtaining a PACE loan is to increase the risk of mortgage default.  The FHFA’s  logic is that if the green investments are not capitalized into home prices then the home owner’s equity decreases as equity =  sales price – debt owed.   Under these assumptions, the green investment doesn’t raise the sales price but does increase the debt owed. My recent research convinces me that this pessimism is false.  Here is  My letter to the FHFA. Here is my July 2012 peer viewed paper on solar panel capitalization effects in San Diego and Sacramento   dastrup-zivin-costa-and-kahn .

We need more regulatory scholarship focused on empirical work and hypothesis testing.  I have an incentive to say this because that is what I do.

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Go there and see the video. More tomorrow.

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When The Oil Runs Out – Capitalism goes down with it

People are always playing out this dystopian vision of what the world will look like if there is a sharp break in the availability of fossil fuels. Most people imagine guys with guns will control their chunk of the world and abuse everyone in it for the own good. Or that we will break into semi-dead towns and farm life like 200 years ago. But, I usually say, what if it is slower than that and what if people cooperate instead of foolishly compete. Then life might look like this, which sounds kinda fun.

http://www.ipsnews.net/2012/07/ithaca-ecovillage-forges-a-path-to-sustainable-living/

Ithaca Ecovillage Forges a Path to Sustainable Living

By Coralie Tripier

ITHACA, New York, Jul 16 2012 (IPS) – Ecovillage at Ithaca (EVI), located in the beautiful Finger Lakes region of upstate New York, is an intentional community of 160 people striving for greater sustainability, a better quality of life, and perhaps even a new model for urban planners the world over.

Enjoying breathtaking surroundings, residents wander around the village on pedestrian-only streets, swim in the pond, share meals in the common house, and spend a small amount of their time working together for their community.

EVI’s residents have to volunteer for two hours every week in one of the six work teams – the cooking team, the dishwashing team, the common house cleanup team, the outdoor maintenance team, the regular maintenance team, or the finance team.

“If you had a house, you would have to do that anyway, so why not do it for the broader community and make friends at the same time,” Ashley Click, a young mother and new resident at EVI, told IPS.

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Go there and read about a grand life. More tomorrow.

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Summer Energy Tips – Pretty fancy digs in this one

Well even middle class and rich people gotta pitch in.

http://www.wholeliving.com/136091/keep-cool-summer-home-energy-tips/@center/136755/green-home-guide

Keep Cool with Summer Home Energy Tips

Green Your Home, Slash Your Bills

The prospect of dizzying energy bills, maxed-out power grids, and killer heat waves poses a dilemma for the eco-minded. Crank up the AC, and you’ll burn through countless kilowatts — not to mention your budget. Listen to your green conscience, and you’ll pay with sweat.

But when you maximize the efficiency of your home’s cooling system and adopt smart, low-cost strategies, you can save money and still beat the heat. In fact, by eliminating wasteful habits and power guzzlers, you could cool your home with up to 50 percent less energy and save more than $400 on annual utilities. With 100 million tons of heat-trapping CO2 emitted every year as a result of residential air-conditioning, your new habits will amount to nothing less than a step toward global cooling

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Go there and read. More tomorrow.

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Energy Tips For The Summer – Wow this one is real long

What more can I say. This is actually a pretty thoughtful list and like I said long. I will do the first 5 or so and then:

http://www.floridapsc.com/publications/electricgas/20summer.aspx

  1. Close shades, drapes and blinds during the day (all directions).
  2. Wear light weight clothing (short sleeves, shorts, cotton).
  3. Set the air conditioning thermostat at 78 degrees or higher. Raise it a few degrees higher when away in the day. A lower air conditioning temperature makes your costs much higher. Setting your air conditioner at 70 degrees instead of 78 can almost double your operating cost!
  4. Don’t choose a lower air conditioning temperature when you first turn it on. It won’t cool faster –- whenever it’s running it’s cooling as fast as it can. Set low, it cools longer, not faster.
  5. When weather is mild, use fans instead of the air conditioner. Your central air conditioner will use about 100 times more energy than a fan at medium speed.
  6. If you have ceiling fans, run the fans and the air conditioner at the same time but set the air conditioner a few degrees higher, to 80 or 81 degrees. With the breeze from a fan, you should feel as cool as you would at 78 degrees with no fans – but you’ll reduce your costs by about 15%-25%.

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Go there and read. More tomorrow.

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Spring Has Sprung In El Paso – They want you to throw open your windows

These tips are really kinda lame but at least they are trying.

http://www.epelectric.com/nm/business/spring-energy-efficiency-tips

As you’re doing your spring cleaning and getting your air conditioner, as well as your house, ready for the hot weather, consider making some changes around the house that will help save energy dollars this summer.

When cleaning windows, check to see if they’re in good condition.  Loose, leaky or single-paned windows allow heated or cooled air to escape, taking hard-earned dollars with it.  Repair existing windows or replace them with energy-efficient models.

  • If you leave your windows open to enjoy the weather, remember to shut off the heating system.  A thermostat will call for heat when it’s set to a temperature higher than the outside air.
  • Clean under and in back of the refrigerator.  Dust can build up in those hard-to-reach areas, causing the refrigerator to run less efficiently.  If you have an old refrigerator that was manufactured before 1993, consider replacing it with a new Energy Star-rated model.  They use half as much energy as models manufactured before 1993 and 15 percent less energy than other new models.  This change can save you hundreds of dollars a year.
  • Unplug the old, inefficient refrigerator or freezer that’s in the garage – it’s wasting energy and money.  If a second refrigerator or freezer is needed, keep it full.  Water and ice work well for this.
  • Dust or wipe light bulbs.  Clean bulbs provide more light for the money.  Replace high-use incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs and fixtures – they use two-thirds less energy and last up to 10 times longer.
  • When washing clothes, adjust the water level to match the load size, and use cold water whenever possible.  Use the dryer’s moisture sensor option that automatically shuts off the machine when the clothes are dry, and clean the lint filter before every load.  Consider hanging clothes outside to dry instead.

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Go there and read. More tomorrow.

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