After making sure that the attic was well insulated, that windows were caulked and drafts were blocked, and getting my family to pay attention to how the thermostat was set, I was ready to try a bigger, and consequently more expensive, experiment.
I decided to install solar panels on my home.
Was it worth it? Well, here are the results.
My home is fairly large, a little over 4,000 square feet (we have a big family that needs quite a bit of space), so the photovoltaic solar panel array that we installed was commensurately large. Where I live, our electricity usage is charged in three tiers. The lowest tier covers what is considered a small baseline usage, the first 250 kilowatt hours in a given month. The second tier comprises the next 500 kilowatt hours, and the third and priciest tier is everything over tiers one and two. The solar panel array was sized to target and largely eliminate the third tier in the summer months when the air conditioning would be running the most. In months in which the solar panels generated more electricity than we used, we got a credit for the power we sent back to the grid, effectively selling that power back to the utility. I admit, I really enjoyed those days when I could go out and see my electric meter spinning backwards. Continue reading “My Experience With Solar Panels”
Here is the next in our weekly series of excerpts from the EBook, “6 Weeks to a Greener Lifestyle.” See the note at the end of this post for more information. — Paula
For the first week, we will tackle the biggest energy consumer in most people’s lives – their home. As noted in the previous chapter, it is such things as heating and cooling, water heating, lighting, electronics, appliances, and refrigeration that gobble up dollars and electricity.
Here, in descending order of piggishness in consuming electricity, are the three biggest energy hogs in most homes in the developed world:
- Air Conditioning: Far and away your biggest energy consumer if you have and use AC.
- Refrigerator: Second biggest energy hog in the home, right behind the AC, largely because it has to run 24/7.
- Washers and Dryers: For clothes, the impact is much larger than for dishes, although both contribute.
We need to deal with these and other consumers of energy in the home. We also want to reduce water usage.
But how do you get started?
By conducting a home energy and water audit. Continue reading “EBook Excerpt: Week 1 – Conducting a Home Audit”
Contrast the approach to handling trash in Denmark with that in New York.
Denmark collects trash locally and, after making sure all recyclables are separated, burns this waste to create electricity—a lot of electricity. Only 4% of the trash in Horsholm, Denmark goes to landfill. All the rest is either recycled or converted into electricity. Such trash-to-energy plants are becoming a mainstay of both garbage disposal and energy production across Denmark.
New York, on the other hand, sends 10,500 tons of trash each day to landfills as far away as Ohio and South Carolina. Aside from the fact that transporting this weighty amount of garbage consumes plenty of energy, none of it is burned to produce electricity. Why?
Because powerful environmental groups in New York actually oppose converting trash to clean energy. “Incinerators are really the devil,” said Laura Haight, a senior environmental associate with the New York Public Interest Research Group. “Once you build a waste-to-energy plant, you then have to feed it. Our priority is pushing for zero waste.” Continue reading “Talking Trash”
The product is called sOccket!
It is a soccer ball that stores the energy from being kicked and bounced around, and then can be used as an electricity source when you take it home. The generated electricity can be used to light an LED lamp or charge a cell phone, for example.
This amazing gadget is the brainchild of a group of Harvard students. It will be a high-end product in Western countries, but profits will go to provide low-cost balls to Third World nations. To see a picture of the socket, go here.
Great way to have fun and save some energy!