Las Vegas has made huge strides in conservation efforts

Yes I know there are many things that are wrong about Las Vegas. People shouldn’t even be there in the first place. The rape of the river that no longer reaches the sea. The rape of the pristine desert and the death of many Native Americans. I lived there for a year and there is also the cheesy nature of the culture. But when they do something right, you got to give them credit.

http://www.homeenergy.org/show/article/id/1811/viewFull/

 

Nevada Energy Star Partners Demonstrate Peak Performance (Web Only)

September 01, 2012

Las Vegas may appear balmy and inviting with its sparkling pools and swaying palm trees, but those who live in Neon City know the truth: It’s too cold in the winter and too hot in the summer.

Unfortunately, hundreds of thousands of homes that were built during an amazing 50 years of rapid growth in the Southwest do not incorporate modern advances in energy performance to accommodate the wild swings of desert climate. As temperatures climb to 110°F in the summer, many homes leak large amounts of cooled air through gaps in ducts, roofs, windows, and doors. And when the frigid north wind drops the temperature below freezing in the winter, heated air escapes, leaving living rooms and bedrooms uncomfortably cold and drafty. While Las Vegans know their climate, they may not realize that they are paying to heat and cool the great outdoors.

The dramatic temperature shifts in the high-desert climate make Las Vegas an ideal place for homeowners who are looking to make their homes more comfortable and to save substantially on their energy bills. Funded in part by DOE’s Building America program, the Building America Retrofit Alliance is working with the Nevada ENERGY STAR Partners–Green Alliance (NESP–Green Alliance), and with Better Building Performance, a Las Vegas company, to upgrade two typical homes top to bottom. Their goal has been to show homeowners and remodelers how easy and effective energy performance upgrades can be.

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Go there and read. More Tomorrow.

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The Lightbulb Of The Future – That is if they get the money to do it

This is so cool that I really don’t know how to describe it. Lights that use 6 watts of energy and are controlled by your telephone. The future is here.

http://gigaom.com/2012/09/17/lifx-bulb-shines-light-on-connected-home-vs-gadgets/

Sep 17, 2012 – 7:17AM PT

LIFX bulb shines light on connected home vs gadgets

Who needs a light switch when you have smart bulbs paired with smartphones? LIFX is just that: a Wi-Fi connected LED bulb that you remotely control or even change the color. But will consumers want one-off connected gadgets or centrally-managed smart homes in the future?

A new Kickstarter project aims to offer Wi-Fi connected light bulbs to the masses and the best part is, you can change the bulb’s color with the help of a smartphone. The bulb is called LIFX and thanks to the LED technology inside, it’s an energy saver when compared to traditional or CFL bulbs. You control the brightness and color directly from an iPhone or Android device using the LIFX application and there’s smarts in the bulb itself: It can notify you when a new Twitter message arrives, for example.

Take a look at the LIFX explanation video and you can see that the creators my be correct in calling LIFX the “smartest light bulb ever made”:

(No video included because I do not have the skills but please go there and look at it.)

The project impresses me for a few reasons. LIFX, which can be backed for as low as $69 a bulb, has already surpassed its $100,000 goal for backing, taking in over three times that much with nearly two months left for fundraising. It also brings a wide variety of functionality to something most people consider mundane but necessary: a light bulb. And it appears simple to use through the dedicated smartphone application or can still be turned on or off through the existing light switch.

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Go there and read. 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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Solar Flare Will Make Our Wires Sing – And maybe the power going out

The first time we got hit by one of these bad boys that we know of in the 1870s, the telegraph operators here in the US had to disconnect their batteries to prevent the batteries from catching fire. Yet the telegraph system still worked without their power. But for the major utility companies (eg. telecoms, electrical, water, natural gas etc.) this is a big deal and that is what we have been talking about here.

http://news.yahoo.com/earth-braces-biggest-space-storm-five-years-180341589.html

A pair of scorching explosions on the Sun’s surface is sparking the biggest radiation and geomagnetic storm the Earth has experienced in five years, space weather experts said Wednesday.

The full brunt of the storm is expected to hit Earth early Thursday US time and last through Friday, potentially disrupting power grids, GPS systems, satellites, and forcing airplanes to change their routes around the polar regions.

“Space weather has gotten very interesting over the past 24 hours,” said Joseph Kunches, a space weather scientist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

The fuss began late Sunday at an active region on the Sun known as 1429, with a big solar flare that was associated with a burst of solar wind and plasma known as a coronal mass ejection that hurtled in Earth’s direction at some four million miles per hour (6.4 million kilometers per hour).

Another solar flare and CME followed at 0024 GMT on March 7, setting off a strong geomagnetic and solar radiation storm, both at level three on a five-step scale.

NASA said the second flare — classified in the potent X class — was one of the largest of this cycle known as the solar minimum which began in early 2007, and fell in just behind slightly stronger one which erupted in August.

“The current increase in the number of X-class flares is part of the sun’s normal 11-year solar cycle, during which activity on the sun ramps up to solar maximum, which is expected to peak in late 2013,” the US space agency said.

The solar flares alone caused brief high frequency radio blackouts that have now passed, according to NOAA.

But the ensuing space storm will likely give nighttime viewers in Central Asia a prime look at the aurora borealis, or northern lights, on Thursday night, in addition to possibly garbling some of Earthlings’ most prized gadgets, Kunches said.

The storm is likely “the strongest one since December 2006,” Kunches said, noting, however, that the Earth experienced a stronger radio blackout last August.

“But en masse, if you put it all together with the geomagnetic effects and the solar radiation effects, I would put it on par with one at the end of the last solar cycle which was over five years ago.”

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Go there and read. Google for additional solar flare information. More tomorrow.

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Energy Improvements To Your Home – The conventional approach

Not much to say about this today. In most of the country it is too cold to do anything about it anyway.

http://www.bankrate.com/brm/news/pf/20010223b.asp

The top energy-saving home improvements
By Laura A. Bruce • Bankrate.com

These are the top single-family home energy-efficiency improvements that reduce energy bills. The return on investment (ROI) is annual, based on 7 cents per kilowatt-hour.

Example: A homeowner spends $500 to insulate an attic that has no insulation, and saves $25 per month on energy bills. $500 divided by $25 per month equals 20 months. This means the investment paid for itself in 20 months and, for the next 30 years, gives monthly dividends of $25 per month in lower energy bills. The $25 grows each time there is a rate increase.

Return on investment estimates for household energy efficiency improvements
Months Modification ROI Kwh savings/unit Cost per kwh Annual savings Cost per unit
3 High efficiency showerhead 400% 400 $0.08 $32 $8
13 Fireplace pillow-stops air leakage up chimney 91% 400 $0.08 $32 $35
14 Bathroom faucet aerator 84% 21 $0.08 $1.68 $2
17 Attic insulation
(R-0 to R-38)
69% 5.6 $0.08 $0.45 $0.65
23 Compact fluorescent bulb 53% 60 $0.08 $4.80 $9
23 Kitchen faucet aerator 51% 32 $0.08 $2.56 $5
25 Wrap 15′ hot and cold water heater pipes 48% 60 $0.08 $4.80 $10
38 Replace incandescent porch light fixture with CFL bulb 32% 160 $0.08 $12.80 $40
43 Attic insulation (average) 28% 2 $0.08 $0.16 $0.57
44 Duct insulation and sealing 27% 12 $0.08 $0.96 $3.50
68 Wall insulation
(R-0 to R-25)
18% 2.2 $0.08 $0.18 $1
88 Floor insulation
(R-0 to R-13)
14% 1.7 $0.08 $0.14 $1
Source: Portland General Electric

— Updated: April 17, 2003

 

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Go there and read. More tomorrow.

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I Never Miss The State Fair – But sometimes it require grit

Man the State Fair was kinda disappointing for me this year, at least from an energy perspective. Now I admit that the first year I started posting here was a pretty heady year. IDE had 2 booths for energy conservation. One was for seniors and one for the general public. Conservation World was packed. The Sierra Club had a tent with CWLP complete witha solar exhibit and a hybrid car. There were doors and windows guys galore in the Exhibition Hall, and even a guy selling wind turbines. The AG Equipment section even had an exhibit about biofuels. This year there was nada until I stopped at the “don’t mess with powerlines” guys tent (sorry – Live Line Demos) and saw the Wall Of Efficiencies display that was sharing space with him. Here is my picture.

That is Aaron Ridenour of PPI. According to him, they originally got the Wall to take to there members Board Members meeting but since then it has been to North Dakota, Kansas and Washington DC. They were actually in a Senate Hearing concerning a Coops Bill.

Here is what they say about it:

http://www.ppi.coop/environmental/energy-efficiency/

tilized by PPI and its member cooperatives over the past few years. The sixteen foot “Energy Efficiency Walls” illustrate various opportunities for air infiltration or leakage within the common home due to poor construction practices and materials. The displays address: energy efficient construction practices and materials, and energy efficient equipment and technologies. The proper use of caulking around penetration points in the home’s external walls, such as window and door openings, gas, water, AC and heating system fuel lines and ventilation systems, and the selection and installation of energy efficient insulation materials, ventilation equipment and lighting systems are just a few of the energy efficient items illustrated in the Walls. Utilizing the displays at member cooperatives’ annual membership meetings, NRECA and Touchstone Energy regional events, community college workshops and educational classes, … homebuilder shows, county fairs, legislative briefings in Washington DC to promote energy efficiency loan programs and other events, … over 400,000 consumers have been exposed to the educational opportunities of the Energy Efficiency Walls since 2009.

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More tomorrow.

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Beautiful Energy Efficiency – Most housing designs include solar

All these new builds include some form of solar planning. Either in orientation, or window protection, or solar electric generation, the sun is never far from these planners minds.

http://www.hgtvpro.com/hpro/green_building/article/0,3142,HPRO_27916_6024083,00.html

Five Models of Energy Efficiency: A Guide to Beautiful, Energy-Efficient Homes

Five US builders are being honored for their exceptional achievements in high performance building at the second annual BASF Builders Challenge Awards.

Led by the U.S Department of Energy (DOE), the Builders Challenge is working with homebuilders across America to build a new generation of high-performance homes, working toward the ultimate goal of providing cost-effective, net-zero energy homes by 2030 for all Americans.

To qualify for the Builders Challenge, homes must meet at least a 70 on the EnergySmart Home Scale (E-Scale) — which means they must use at least 30 percent less energy than a typical new home built to code.

2010 BUILDERS CHALLENGE AWARDEES
Colorado Builder’s Net-Zero-Energy House Costs Just 7% to 8% More

Ecofutures Building Inc. developed four certified Builders Challenge homes (two with minus-three HERS ratings). These net-zero-energy measures represented only 7% to 8% of the total building cost.

See how they did it so cost-effectively >>

Treating the Home as a Whole System

By treating houses as a complete system, David Weekley Homes qualified 280 homes for the Builders Challenge with HERS scores averaging 67. The homes ranged from 1,500 to 5,500 square feet.

Get better results by treating the house as a whole system >>

College Students’ Habitat for Humanity Home

Yavapai College students built a Habitat for Humanity house that achieved the remarkably low HERS score of minus-three. Their 1,207-square-foot home cost only $92 per sq. ft. cost to build.

Learn how the students got it done >>

Homebuilder Adds Net Zero Energy Upgrade Package

Artistic Homes of Albuquerque offers a net-zero-energy upgrade option on all their homes. They’ve completed and sold 11 true net-zero-energy homes ranging from 1,305 to 2,905 square feet and costing between $160,000 and $300,000.

Find out about the upgrade option >>

Builder Promises Zero Energy Bill for Five Years

Tim O’Brien, a fanatic about eliminating air infiltration, actually got $400 back from the utility the first month after construction was finished. He guarantees a zero energy cost for the first 5 years on his home.

See what makes this builder so confident >>

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More next week.

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We Even Waste Light During The Day – That’s right

The people of the US actually turn on more lights then they need and make there eyes worse from the glare. If you don’t believe me listen to this professor.

http://envirowriters.wordpress.com/2011/04/18/proposal-essay-less-wasted-light-equals-more-energy-savings/

Proposal Essay: Less wasted light equals more energy savings

Posted on April 18, 2011 by David Apperson

The UAF campus uses electricity.  Some of the electricity is used to power fluorescent light bulbs which are much more efficient than incandescent bulbs but because they exist as a load in the power grid, use energy.  How much energy is being used by these lights, is it more than is necessary, and how bright to classrooms and computer labs need to be?  In 2010, UAF created its Office of Sustainability to utilize the $20 per student fee towards sustainable projects.  The goal is to supply the necessary funds to make sustainable projects happen but the projects must be cost effective with realistic financial return periods.  Although bright rooms are convenient, the UAF sustainability club should lobby the Chancellor and Facilities Services to implement a program that systematically removes bulbs from over-lit rooms because it will reduce the energy use of the UAF campus, make indoor conditions more comfortable, and save money.

The simplest way to reduce the energy use for lighting is to remove unnecessary bulbs.  Before someone begins pulling random lights from their fixtures at will, some simple calculations can be done to get “back of the envelope” numbers for a cost-benefit analysis.  The following calculations will use some simple energy units, the kilo-Watt (kW) and the kilo-Watt-hour (kWh).  A kW is a measurement of Power and is defined as 1,000 joules per second, how quickly work is being done.  A kWh is a measurement of energy, a fairly large amount of energy at that, being the amount of work by a one kW source for one hour.  Electricity is sold in kWh, because it doesn’t matter how fast someone or something is using the electricity but how much of it they are using.  Light intensity can be measured in lumens or foot-candles.  A lumen is a measure of the power of light perceived by the human eye and the foot-candle can be considered as the amount of light falling on a surface, being defined as one lumen per square foot.

The first thing to be determined is whether or not rooms are over lit.  If they are, then energy is being wasted.  The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), recommends that in an office setting, the light intensity be between 20 and 50 foot-candles (OSHA).  As I write this essay, I am sitting in the Students of Engineering Computer Lab (SOECAL) in Duckering.  The room is quite bright and approximately 20 ft by 40 ft and holds 15 light fixtures, each containing three fluorescent bulbs.  The bulbs are GE Ecolux Starcoat bulbs consuming 32 Watts and producing 2800 lumens a piece (light bulb).  To determine if this particular room is over lit, the following calculation is made:

It appears that the SOECAL lab is over lit by three times the amount of recommended light for a work office, perhaps other similar classrooms and computer labs are as well.  Since we can assume the SOECAL lab and many other rooms are over lit, it can also be determined how much energy is being wasted and how much it is costing.  The following calculations are performed considering a single bulb for a single hour.

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In the room where he is writing no less. More tomorrow.

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