Friday, October 1, 2010

Easy Ways to Reduce Your Monthly Electric Bill

1. Always plug any electronics into power strips. Modern smart strips will actually sense which devices are not currently in use and can be safely shut off and will disengage power automatically.

If you're using an older model power strip, remember that when turning off electronics, power down using the power strip to prevent stand-by mode from unnecessarily drawing electricity.

An example of one of the new smart power strips is the $27.88 Smart Strip 7-Outlet Surge Protector

“The SCG Series Smart Strips were designed to simplify your electronic life and enormously cut down on your power expenses on certain electronic devices.

They do it by sensing the current in one outlet, and smartly switching on or off the rest.

The SCG Smart Strips are an outstanding surge protector, which not only blocks out dangerous power surges but "scrubs" your line power for smoother operation and longer life expectancy for anything plugged into it.

As if this wasn't enough, its ergonomic design allows regular plugs to sit right next to large "wall warts", while its 45° angle flat plug resists damaging your wall or your furniture ‐ or accidentally being unplugged. With its recessed power switch, it is next to impossible to switch off accidentally.

2. Turn off your computer and monitor when they are not being used.

3. Use a programmable thermostat to maintain a comfortable temperature. It takes more energy to heat a cold room after the heat has been off all day then to maintain a 65° room temperature throughout the day.

4. When washing dishes or laundry use cold water and never use the dishwasher or washing machine unless it contains a full load.

5. Air dry dishes rather than using the heated drying cycle.

6. Make efficient use of available light to reduce heating and lighting costs and utilize passive heating and cooling whenever possible.

  • Passive cooling strategies rely on heat gain avoidance and the use of cross ventilation, evaporation, and thermal mass which stores heat during the day to release it at night.

  • Passive heating and cooling make use of free solar energy and local breezes, they do not cost anything themselves.

  • Day-lighting is a technique that includes using light shelves, top-lighting, clerestory windows, optimized building orientation and room layout to maximize the use of natural light. Natural light has been shown to reduce depression and is easier on the eyes then synthetic light.

7. Next, you can lower your water heater temperature to 120 degrees Fahrenheit.

8. Last, take showers instead of baths.

Monday, July 19, 2010

New Flexible Lightweight Solar Panels and the Unique Plane That Used Them

Every where you look electronics and their related components are becoming both smaller and more powerful. This is a great boon for the environment, as solar panels are now 31 percent efficient. The new expected threshold of 60 percent efficient is well on it's way to becoming a reality.

The technology in today's solar panels is so advanced that the first solely solar powered plane just completed its first 24+ hour flight with three full hours of reserve energy left over.

Domenick Yoney a writer for Autobloggreen wrote, “One of the knocks you hear against solar energy is that the sun doesn't always shine. While true, that seemingly inconvenient fact didn't stop the Swiss team behind the Solar Impulse HB-SIA from attempting to fly their super-size, super-light aircraft for over 24 hours powered by only by photonic goodness. In achieving their goal, not only did they set the record for longest solar flight at 26 hours and nine minutes, they also broke the record for altitude – 8,564 meters (28,097 feet) above sea level.”

Solar panels are now so advanced and efficient that they can be mounted on thin sheets and laminated to virtually any surface. Just think of the possibilities as your roof and siding, the top of your mailbox, your fence or any other flat sun facing surface will soon be able to create electricity easier and cheaper then ever before. The panels are so lightweight the average home owner will likely be able to install them.

According to the SoloPower home site, “SoloPower uses a proprietary electroplating-based process to manufacture its CIGS cells on flexible metal foil. The devices are then processed in a moduling line and laminated in an encapsulation system that provides a moisture barrier and environmental integrity. The company expects the low-cost, high-efficiency module to address the commercial and industrial rooftop and distributed solar power generation markets.”

Friday, April 9, 2010

Well I'm back. Finally.

If you're wondering why this blog has been sitting here inactive for so long, let me explain. I had my senior thesis to write, an internship to complete and to top it off, halfway through the term I wiped out on my Yamaha xvs 1100 going over wet railroad tracks in Lake Oswego.

Thankfully I'm smart enough to throw myself under the bike so the bike is fine except for a broken brake lever. I, on the other hand, have been limping around for the last month or so, but as I said, I'm back.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Solar Energy Plans for the Sahara Desert

Concentrated solar thermal power plants use mirrors to focus sunlight. This in turn creates heat, to produce steam, to drive steam turbines and electricity generators. This method of generating solar power is efficient, as the excess heat can be stored in concrete or salt blocks to produce steam energy during the night. This provides a constant source of power throughout the day.

Desertec, plans to build these types of solar energy generators in the Sahara desert. These generators are expected to provide up to 15% of the power needs for Britain, as well as supplying power for Africa and the Middle East.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Solar Powered Roads-Soon to be a Reality?

If you haven't heard of the company Solar Roadways yet, be prepared, you will.

The company was just awarded a $100,000 contract by the U.S. Department of Transportation to design and build solar panels that can be driven on and used in parking lots and freeways.

According to their website:

“The Solar Roadways will collect solar energy to power businesses and homes via structurally-engineered solar panels that are driven upon, to be placed in parking lots and roadways in lieu of petroleum-based asphalt surfaces. The Solar Road Panels will contain embedded LEDs which "paint" the road lines from beneath to provide safer nighttime driving, as well as to give up to the minute instructions (via the road) to drivers (i.e. "detour ahead"). The road will be able to sense wildlife on the road and can warn drivers to "slow down". There will also be embedded heating elements in the surface to prevent snow and ice buildup, providing for safer winter driving. This feature packed system will become an intelligent highway that will double as a secure, intelligent, decentralized, self-healing power grid which will enable a gradual weaning from fossil fuels.Replacing asphalt roads and parking lots with solar roadway panels will be a major step toward halting climate change. Fully electric vehicles will be able to recharge along the roadway and in parking lots, finally making electric cars practical for long trips. It is estimated that it will take roughly five billion (a stimulus package in itself) 12' by 12' Solar Road Panels to cover the asphalt surfaces in the U.S. alone, allowing us to produce three times more power than we've ever used as a nation - almost enough to power the entire world.”

Depending on the longevity of the panels, their composition and how they would effect the eco-system as they degrade over time, they could be a great solution to the worlds energy needs. This project certainly bears watching.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Cheap fuel made from solar power

What would you say if someone told you you could fill your car with bio fuel for the same price as gas and not negatively affect the enviroment?

The clever people at Joule Biotechnologies have developed a system that uses microorganisms to convert sunlight into bio fuel.

This process is unique as it doesn't require acres of farmland (corn is commonly used in the creation of ethanol) and the Joule Biotechnologies system is actually competative with current gas prices.

Finally an actual solution for the global energy crisis.

Solar Solutions 1

One of the problems with solar energy is the difficulty in storing excess energy for a rainy or cloudy day.

Recently researchers from Ceramatec released information about a new ceramic disk shaped batery that when fully developed will store enough energy to power a house for a full day.

With the ability to efficiently store solar power the technology will be more appealing to those who live in areas with intermittent sunshine as well as open the door to portable options for larger electronic items such as power tools and laptops.