Gone Green

After many different directions, I have decided to take this blog green. In addition to the occasional other news I may pop off on, I will be offering green tips and tricks from myself and the web. I hope you enjoy.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

LEDs: Are they worth it?

With the passing of the incandescent bulb, CFL's and LEDs are now really the alternative.  Is it worth it to run out and replace all your light bulbs with LEDs currently?  Obviously the first variable is to look at the cost.  LED's are still at the rather high end of the spectrum, with most LED's that fit standard sockets still around $7 to $11 a piece.  A rather large increase in price from the ole incandescent, and more expensive than CFL's by about 50%.

Lumen, or light output is the second variable to consider.  For years, LED's lacked the light output of other technology; however recent advances in technology makes them  a more attractive alternative.  Energy.gov uses the term efficacy to rate light bulbs, or lumen/watt.  This is a ratio that explains how bright the light bulb is, versus the watts consumed.  Current top of the line LEDs produce around 800 lumen for around 12 Watts, which is a comparison to a 60W incandescent lumen output.  It should be noted that efficacy does not take into account color or temperature.

Lifetime is an area where LEDs currently shine.  According to energy.gov LEDs have almost double the life of current CFL and incandescent bulbs.  This allows a bit more leeway in the price, as they will last up to three times as long.

Finally their power quality stamp is the last thing to discuss.  If considering for a business, or somewhere that is penalized on power factor, consider this.  LEDs have a very poor power factor, unless they have power factor correction built into them.  Also, due to the way they are designed, using a lighting control system that dim lights by restricting voltage to the lights does not interact with LEDs very well.  As the LED voltage falls below 120, it does dim; however the power factor becomes increasingly worse.

My recommendation is before purchasing them for the home, evaluate your home and your budget before purchasing.  It my be more efficient in the long run to install track lighting with LEDs rather then purchasing in socket LED replacements.  Listed below are some sources to help make the decision a bit easier to make.



Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Summer Time Energy Savings

So, its summer time coming up which means for most of us the air conditioner will be running full time. Here are a few helpful hints to keep your cooling cost down.

1. Laundry. Everybody needs to do laundry, but when you do it and how you do it can make a difference in your cooling. Typically do your laundry in the early morning or late evening so the additional heat doesn't tax your system. Make sure the dryer hose is connected correctly and there are no holes in it. This keeps the excess heat going outside where it should.

2. Lighting. Make sure during the sunny part of the day, the side of the house facing the sun has adequate blinds or shades pulled down to reduce the solar heating. Of course, feel free to use your judgment if it isn't too warm and you wish to enjoy the scenery.

3. Filters. Clean clean clean your filter. The cleaner your filter, the less your unit has to work to maintain an air flow. This is especially important if you have shedding dogs, as their fur can quickly clog up most filters.

4. Windows and Doors. This is an area that most houses have problems with, leaky windows and doors. Make sure that there is a good seal present. A quick check is to purchase a handheld infared thermometer such as this one. They can be found for a range of prices online and in most hardware stores. This can be used around the seals of windows and doors to see if there is heat transfer.

These are just 4 quick tips to help with summer cooling bills.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Green Pleas for Tennessee

Tonight at the knoxville expo center I will be attending a meet and greet with several local and state aspiring political candidates, including those with aspirations for governor.

Please take note of what we need in Tennessee. We need to enter the 21st century and catch up and take over the lead among states in energy efficiency and alternative energy. We need to establish state rebates for solar, wind and other types of alternate energy installations. We need to invest in re-charge stations for electric vehicles. We need to offer rebates for home owners and home builders to strive for higher efficiency homes, rebates on retrofits for existing homes.

We need to continue to bring in new business. To do so we need to make this an attractive state to operate in. Not just appearances, but financially and technologically. We need to make sure there are affordable options for land lines, internet, satellite and other forms of communications. We need to focus on our parks and land, to keep it clean, utilizing volunteers to the fullest.

We need above all else to focus on keep corporations here, and not losing them to other countries. We need to increase restrictions on education to help the children be prepared in a technological manner. We need to prioritize our schools and make sure they have the money to operate, and the teachers are paid comparable salaries with the rest of the country.

Are any of you candidates experienced enough to do this?

Monday, February 22, 2010

Am I saving money or not?

Am I saving money or not? Will x device save me money on my energy bill? This is probably one of the most asked questions when it comes to performing upgrades on your house. There are so many "energy savings" devices out there, its hard to know what works, what doesn't, and the load of smoke they blow up your nose when trying to sell a product.

You see so many internet ads claiming this device will save x amount of money over time once you install it. Obviously I am not naming any products names, because there are too many of them out there, and some of these people are so blatantly obnoxious(I have seen them on youtube threaten to "knock their teeth out") that I don't feel like going to court or getting sued.

But, one thing the majority of them do is show you savings based off last years energy bill. Really, that's how they do it. Why is this a bad idea? Why does this not work? Well, for one thing there is no guarantee that for the month of march, in 2009 you used the exact same power as you did in march of 2010. Or 2008, or whatever year they fill like using. Power schemes change from year to year, as does energy usage, as does temperature and weather conditions. Maybe last year was really hot, or really cold and this year was really mild. Why don't they show you from 10 years ago? Or 5? I have seen many years a 18 to 20% difference in energy bills(power used not cost) from corresponding months, based on nothing but a fluke in weather extremes.

Long story short, using energy bills to compare or show savings is a faulty means of correlation. Look for verified lab testing on devices, because that is the ONLY means of proof there can be to identify savings. And make sure the testing was done by a recognized lab, not the manufacture in their garage(I have seen that as well). If this data isn't available, be sure and google the product for blogs or reports that have been published on the device. Or, ask your local utility. They are always willing to help, and many have a list of approved or verified devices that are proved to save energy.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

SAving Energy Through Being Smart

What's that you say? I can save energy by being smart? Well, yeah you can. And it won't cost you a dime.

Leaving the room? Turn off the light, the tv, the radio, the computer, or anything else plugged in that is consuming power.

Going to bed? Adjust the thermostat a bit, you don't need or want the temperature to be 70 degrees at night. Thats what blankets are for.

Use your head and some common sense, you will be great after its all said and done.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Water Savings

In east Tennessee, we can go from drought to flood conditions in a weeks time. The old saying goes if you don't like the weather stick around a day or two, it will change.

However, rain is not something we should count on, as the drought a few years ago showed us. We need to plan for water for our gardens, flowers and small plants. The easiest and greenest way to do this is to set up a water capture system. It doesn't have to be fancy, and can be done without costing a cent. My great grandmother did it and I remember as a child wondering why bother when you can just turn on a faucet?

To do this effectively, you need to find a location(the more the merrier) where you have water run off during rain, such as a gutter, side of a barn, storage shed, etc. You place a bucket of some type(my great grandmother used a big barrel)in this area to collect the run off water. You will want to use some sort of mosquito net to cover it with, to ensure that you don't get over taken with mosquitos because of the standing water.

When it comes time to water your flower garden, you flower pots, your small vegetable plants, or other items, you simply get your water from the barrel, and use it for your watering needs. This saves you money on your water bill, reduces dependence on water from outside sources, and uses a resource that would otherwise be wasted.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Solar Factory Coming To Clinton

Just announced last night, there is a solar factory coming to Clinton TN. This is expected to bring in around 400-500 jobs.

This is exceedingly good news for 2 reasons. The first is more solar panels, more off grid support and energy. The second of course is more jobs.

However, dont get too excited yet. People still need to get into the solar idea. Right now, solar is a good supplement, but not the end all of energy solutions. Its best for homes as stand alone or back up power. Especially in east Tennessee, when some springs we can go almost a month with no actual sunlight.

Regardless, the full announcement will be coming this afternoon, so lets hope it spells good news for the people of east Tennessee.