Posts Tagged ‘Energy Efficiency’
Biofuels are when we use organic matter as fuel by converting it into power for use. By producing biofuels, this is an alternative energy source as we depend on fossil fuels. The ethanol products include under its aegis, derivatives of plants like sugar cane, and also corn and vegetable oils, all part of the biofuels umbrella. Not all of them are designed for use as gasoline, although the International Energy Agency (IEA) say that by 2025, 10 % of the world’s gasoline could be made up of ethanol products, and by 2030, it could be up to as much as 30%. At the moment, the percentage stands at just 2%.
A lot of research is going into biofuels, and it will be some time before we can refine them to make them more economic and practical enough to use. Oregon State University have done a study to prove this. Biofuels have not yet been developed which are as energy efficient as petroleum which makes up our gasoline. To put it simply, energy efficiency is how we measure the usable energy that is derived from the input energy by a certain amount. (Up till now we have not come up with any product where the output energy exceeded that of what was input). What is most important is the end product energy that has been converted and its usefulness for our society’s needs, the effort involved is what we put into the input energy so as to produce which is the end-product. A study by the OSU found that ethanol which is corn-derived was only 20% energy efficient (compared to gasoline that is 75% energy efficient and made from petroleum). Biodiesel fuel had a recorded energy efficiency of 69%. Out of the study came one positive thing: higher than nuclear energy which is effectively efficient, was cellulose-derived ethanol charted as 85% efficient.
The New York Exchange has marked a change in oil for the future, with analysts from many countries having predicted surges in the availability of biofuels, which would offset oil prices, seeing crude oil drop to prices of about per barrel on the international market. On the Chicago Stock Exchange there is more investment activity in future markets on grain, making a “steal” on the oil futures of New York, with investors expecting much better profitability from biofuels to come. By 2030, a consensus of analysts have predicted that biofuels will account for 7% of transportation for all round the world. Demand for and diesel and gasoline will slowly fall dramatically according to one energy market analyst, as government supports the use of the more eco-friendly biofuels and subsidise the manufactures of this fuel.
Many nations support the use of biofuels and its production in developement.
Brazil is the biggest in the production of ethanols that are derived from sugars. Approximately three and a half billion gallons of ethanol is produced in a year.
The greatest oil user is the United States, who already come second behind the largest producer, Brazil, in biofuels.
The European Union now have an excess of four million (British) tonnes in biodiesel production capacity, of which 80% is derived from rapeseed oil. The remaining 20% of the EU’s biodiesel fuels is marginally from palm oil and the rest comprised of soybean oil.
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Right now, there are a few things you can do around your home to air seal it to save money during the winter months and during the summer.
As mentioned in Part 1, your home is a “thermal envelope”. That is the sum total of the home’s insulation systems: walls, ceilings, foundation, floors, windows, and doors. These work more effectively with good, tight fits that seal out the weather and air. By having a tight seal on your home’s thermal envelope, the less energy you waste or lose by exchanging it too often with the air outside.
Now, we’re going to look at exterior doors, the laundry center, the water heater tank, HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning), attic insulation, attic ventilation and rain gutters.
Presenting The Doors!
We all want our doors to be attractive, secure, and weather proof. Like windows, when they are properly installed and kept in good condition, they can save you energy and money. If your door is hard to close or open, moves the whole door frame when you open or close the door, rattles when it is closed, or you see daylight and feel a draft coming from around it, then your door needs work.
When a door doesn’t close correctly, it obviously fails to seal. If your exterior door is difficult to open or close, the first thing to look for is if something is caught in the door or if something is sticking out from the door frame, such as a screw head not fully tightened against the hinge. Next, determine with a carpenter’s level whether the door is hanging plumb (straight up and down) and if the door jambs are parallel to each other. Sometimes, a screw head not tightened into the hinge can prevent a door from closing properly and over time deform and loosen the door frame or the door. Also, check to see if any hinges move toward or away from the door jamb or if they wiggle. Hinges should be tightly fastened to the door and the door jamb with no other movement except at the hinge joint.
Once I lived in an old house and the back door was hard to close because the whole frame moved with it. It was one of those things I kept putting off to fix. Then one night, I pulled the door shut so hard that I pulled the entire door and door frame out from the wall of the house. I tacked it back in place for the night but the next morning, I settled down to repair it. The original nails had rusted down to the thickness of thread while the wooden shims that kept the door seated properly had rotted because moisture got inside the door frame.
If your door frame moves when you open or close the door, don’t put it off repairing it like I did. Fix it now. First, remove the casing from both the inside of the door and the exterior. Be careful – often in older homes, door casing and other moldings are unique or are no longer available. Sharp-edged casing pry bars are perfect for this. With a little patience and care, you can remove the casing without damaging it too much. A putty knife and a claw hammer are also useful. Again, be patient and careful – you are disassembling not destroying.
After you remove the casing, look for any damage to the wood making up the door frame; such as if it is rotten or split. Check to see if the shims are in place and intact. If everything looks right, check the frame to see if it is plumb. Add shims as needed and check that the door opens and closes correctly. Usually, it is easier to tack a scrap 1? × 2? across the door when it’s closed to seat the door frame properly. When it’s plumb and shimmed, carefully nail the frame into place. Next, vacuum debris from the area and seal up seams and gaps with either caulk or expanding foam. Re-fasten the casing and cover up the old nail holes with color-matched wood putty.
If you can close a kleenex in your door and then pull it out easily or if your door rattles from noise or the wind, it means it’s just not seated snuggly. The easiest starting place to for this fix is to add weather stripping. Usually, doors made over the past 25 years have had weather stripping built onto them. But being a door is rough work. Over time, the weather stripping gets stripped from the door. In some cases, the same weather stripping types are still used by the door manufacturer and can be easily replaced. Usually with much older homes, it’s not the case. You’ll be either replacing worn-out weather stripping someone else applied, or you’ll be putting on brand new.
First, measure the gap between the door surface and the door jamb at several places. Add about 1/16 of an inch to this measurement and this will give you a rough thickness of the self-adhesive foam or felt you will need to apply. Typically, I apply the foam stripping to the door jamb. Since the door jamb doesn’t go anywhere there’s less of a chance for something bumping against it and tearing off the foam. The door, on the other hand, is meant to move and will encounter all sort of things in its travels. As mentioned, you want the door to close firmly. Be sure to buy more foam than you will need so you can add and adjust the foam until you have a good seal.
If your door is in too bad of condition to repair, then it really is no longer a matter of weatherization but security. Seriously consider replacing it. Residential exterior doors come in three standard widths: 30, 32, and 36 inches.
Generally, the most insulating material for an exterior door is wood because it doesn’t conduct heat as easily as metal, vinyl, or fiberglass. That being said, most inexpensive wooden doors don’t fare well over time. They wear quickly in the areas that have the most contact (door handles and foot area), their mounting screws can loosen or tear, and depending on the harshness of the weather they can dry out and split. Steel doors provide better security and stand up to wear but they conduct heat. Wood-core steel doors and foam core doors last longer, are stronger, and better insulated. Fiberglass doors usually are the most strong, durable, and well insulating but tend to be more expensive.
Door Sweeps and Door Jambs with Vinyl Weather-stripping
A door’s most drafty area is along the bottom where it meets the door threshold. Most thresholds are aluminum or wooden ridges that meet the bottom of the door and form a seal. However, since the door is constantly being opened and the threshold is being stepped on, the factory-installed weatherization can wear out quickly. It can be quickly and easily replaced with a self-adhesive vinyl strip that hangs down from the bottom edge of the door. You attach it on the interior side of the door.
There is another kind of door sweep that uses multiple vinyl strips to block drafts. Somewhat more expensive, but it slips on over the bottom edge of the door and is held on with screws.
One product I have used with great success is pvc door jambs with built-in vinyl weather stripping. Mounted on the outside of your door, these door jambs can either replace your existing jambs or slide over them. The vinyl weather-stripping can be pushed up snugly against the door to keep out drafts when the door is closed. Use a circular miter saw to make the proper angled cuts so they can be mounted attractively in place. When they are in position, they can be quickly nailed or screwed into place and then painted. While I like these, there are many other similar kits that might be more suitable for your particular job.
The Laundry Center
The big energy users in the laundry area are the washer and the dryer. The typical washer uses about 0.256 kWh per load. The main cost is obviously the amount of hot water the is used during each load. Top loading washers use up to 40 gallons while front loaders use 10-24 gallons. It is easy to cut costs here by washing in warm or cold water. However, the main energy savings comes from drying your clothes. Even though modern washing machines do an excellent job of extracting the water from clothes by spinning them, they still need to be dried.
Dryers tend not to be very energy efficient because they have one job: force dry, heated air into a rotating drum to evaporate water. Dryers use ten to fifteen percent of domestic energy in the United States. Dryers also cause lint. Lint comes from fibers in your clothing coming loose as the clothes tumble across each other in a dryer’s hot drum. Lint not only collects in your dryer’s lint trap but also through the dryer’s duct work. If lint begins to obstruct or clog your dryer’s duct work, the evaporated water from your nice, clean clothes will not leave the system. If the water is trapped, it will take longer and longer for the dryer to work. Therefore, once a year, pull your dryer away from the wall, detach the duct from the bottom of your dryer, and pull out as much lint as you can from the dryer and the duct. The first time you do this, you might be surprised how much you pull out. You’ll also notice a big improvement in the time it takes for your dryer to dry your clothes.
During the cooler winter months when you are heating your home, you may notice your home feeling drier. While not always a bad thing, if your skin feels dry and itchy or if you notice your sinuses feeling raw and irritated more often, maybe your home is too dry. One way around this is to disconnect your dryer vent tubing from the duct work leading out of the house. Place a nylon sock over the end of the vent tubing and tie it in place with a long twist tie or rubber band. (Make sure you block up the vent going outside). This way, every time you run your drier, you will heat and humidify your house too.
Hanging your clothes not only save energy but also helps them last longer. Dry your clothes on a drying rack or clothes line. If you can’t hang them outside, you can hang them inside by buying a
As we all know, Texas summers can be brutally hot, and Texas winters can be surprisingly cold. Both seasons end up wreaking havoc on our utility bills as we struggle to keep our homes cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Add in all the other little things — the coffee maker, the computer, the TV, and all the other devices that spend most of their time plugged into your home’s electrical system — and many homeowners give up on ever finding a way to really control their Texas electricity costs. But as energy prices continue to rise, and as the pressures on the average homeowner’s finances rise right along with them, the need to find new ways to cut costs and save money becomes a lot more compelling. We know that we could probably cut back on our energy usage, but how do we know where to start? Our Texas electric bill tells us how much energy we’ve used, but only once a month, and that’s not very helpful. Even when we make changes, it could take months to tell whether they’re working, or if they’re saving us enough to be worthwhile. At the same time, major sources of inefficiency might be going unnoticed and unaddressed.
Two competing new services, PowerMeter by Google and Hohm by Microsoft, are on the way with some new tools to help Texas homeowners. Microsoft estimates that the average American home could save almost 0 per year on energy usage. While that number sounds big, they base it on extensive testing in 60 million homes across the country; and of all 50 states, Texas ranked lowest in energy efficiency. Of course, what that really means is that Texas potentially has the biggest opportunity to use less electricity, reduce our carbon footprint, and save a whole lot of money.
Both PowerMeter and Hohm promise the potential for big increases in both efficiency and cost savings by way of an energy monitoring device called a smart meter. Once connected to your home’s electricity supply system, the meter sends an ongoing stream of data to your home computer via a connected wireless device. Your computer then sends that information on to a data hub run by one of the two companies. There, your information is analyzed and re-packaged into a dynamic, user-friendly web interface for you to review and use.
The appeal of these applications for homeowners is that your energy usage is no longer reduced to a single, inscrutable number on your monthly utility bill. The two applications differ somewhat in how your utility data is presented, but the primary feature in both is an extensive analysis of exactly how all of that electricity is being used. For example, Google PowerMeter can help you identify how much energy you’re using on a constant basis — the low-level drain from “always on” devices that can, over time, add up to a major source of inefficiency. Microsoft’s Hohm goes a step further by making active recommendations about how a homeowner might cut back their electricity usage, increasing energy efficiency and lowering costs.
There are further differences between the two services. Google’s emphasis is on the numbers; it tells you exactly how much power you’re using on an hourly basis, and generates graphs of usage over time, whether that means the last hour or the last month. This is a great service for people who like their data raw, as it means that a homeowner can correlate usage to specific patterns during the day. For example, if you know your usage spikes around 7 AM, you can probably guess that it has a lot to do with your family getting ready for work and school. Therefore, you might be able to save money if everyone takes shorter showers, or if you lower the temperature on your water heater. PowerMeter can also analyze usage patterns over the past to predict what your approximate usage and costs will be in the future. So as you make changes and check your results, you can watch your projected bills rise and fall until you’re happy with them.
Microsoft Hohm, on the other hand, is staking its claim on reaching the masses. Already available nationwide, Hohm’s interface is a a more comfortable affair, replacing a lot of the hard, granular data with a condensed “Hohm Score” that compares your home’s real energy usage to its potential energy efficiency — that is, how much you’re actually saving versus how much you could potentially be saving. It also guides you toward possible sources of savings, ranging from large and potentially savings-rich projects like insulating your home, to small things like replacing conventional light bulbs with power-saving compact fluorescent bulbs. It also allows you to compare your energy usage to that of people in your neighborhood, city, state, and all across the country.
If you’re interested in monitoring your home’s energy usage, there are a few things to keep in mind, since the two applications work a bit differently. So far, Google PowerMeter forms its main partnerships with utility companies, and to date it hasn’t established such a relationship with any Texas energy company, so for the time being it remains out of reach for Texans. However, if you’re interested in PowerMeter, it’s worth keeping in mind that while Google is sometimes a bit coy in the beginning, when they do enter a market, they often take it over completely. Google also has an excellent reputation for development, and loves to give its users exactly what they want. While PowerMeter might not yet be a player in your area, they could become the biggest game in town in the reasonably near future.
Microsoft Hohm, on the other hand, partners primarily with device-makers rather than power companies. Anyone can buy and install a compatible device and be up and running, no matter where they live or who supplies their energy. But Hohm requires more of a time investment to reach its full potential. A new user of the service will start out by answering a substantial number of questions about their home — details about the building, what kind of appliances you use, etc. — and some homeowners may find the process a little daunting. (Apartment dwellers may even find Hohm to be of limited use to them if they don’t have ready access to some of these details.) The good news is, even a partially-completed profile can produce some very useful insights and advice, and you can always add information and refine your profile later on.
If you’re interested in using Microsoft Hohm, your first step should be to contact your energy provider and ask them for any relevant information they can provide. Then purchase a Hohm-compatible device, such as Blue Line’s Power Cost Monitor, and register for your free Hohm account. Texas homeowners leaning towards Google’s PowerMeter service will have to wait a while longer, but in the meantime, you should contact your energy provider and let them know that you want to see a Texas energy company on PowerMeter’s list of partners.
In the end, it’s worth bearing in mind that both services are currently in their nascence, and will doubtless see further development and lots of changes in the future. As smart meters become more common and the cost of energy goes up, homeowners will do well to find a way to make use of the information that a these new monitoring tools can provide. Google and Microsoft are already working to make this information easily accessible to their users, and the competition between them will undoubtedly bring out the best in both.
There’s a lot of money to be saved on energy usage in this country, and perhaps nowhere more than in Texas. To help you make sure that some of that money ends up in your pocket, Google PowerMeter and Microsoft Hohm offer two great ways to discover your home’s potential for energy savings, and make your home the most efficient house on the block.
There are several things to consider when thinking about starting a home based business. The first being whether or not you are motivated enough to work without being told what to do or how to do it. A successful home based business entrepreneur is a self starter who enjoys personal success. Small business owners work well independently, thrive on challenges, and do not fear learning new things or bringing their unique ideas to others.
The good news for all of the clean-tech entrepreneurs is the added boost that the U.S. Government is placing in the ACESA stimulus legislation. The American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 has a few main parts or provisions; all of which lead many people who wish to start a small business straight in the direction of solar energy.
1. A clean energy section that promotes renewable sources of energy; such as residential and commercial solar energy on a very large scale.
2. An energy efficiency section that increases energy efficiency across all sectors of the economy, including buildings, appliances, transportation, and industry.
3. A global warming provision that places restrictions on the carbon equivalent emissions and other environmentally damaging pollutants.
4. A transitional program that protects U.S. job seekers, consumers, businesses in these tough economical times with training, career adjustment, and transitioning support.
5. A very large program that promotes green jobs during the transition to a clean solar energy economy.
Having a home based solar energy business is work. Even with large incentives and the backing of the government, industry, and most citizens, you must still do the work in order to enjoy success. If you are the type who is self directed and motivated then the next consideration is what will you do? Consider what you are passionate about. What gets you excited enough to want to share it with others?
Use this information to create an ideal home based solar energy business.
Do some Internet searches or talk to other small business owners related to home based work that they made into a successful business and see if you might want to do the same. A clean-energy entrepreneur can create a operational statement for the way and type of solar energy business the wish to operate. This will be the bases for the services they can offer. Ask yourself the question “what will set my home based solar energy business apart from others?” Then write out a small business plan.
If you know that starting a home based solar energy business is right for you, then your next step is educating yourself about the requirements that govern home based businesses locally within your state, county and also with the US government and IRS. After completing due diligence, as a person should for any type of business consideration, decide if they possess the financial capital to get the business started. Fortunately, many new solar energy opportunities really do not take any investment (other than marketing costs) to get started. A person can just plug into a larger system. The landscape is change in a great way towards renewable, solar energy. This provides unparalleled opportunity for businesses as it relates to the U.S. Government’s interest in fast-tracking our transition to a clean energy environment.
United States Green Jobs: Worker Transition to Solar Energy Industry
The latest draft legislation related to an economic stimulus, a plan to address climate change, and a strategy to move into a renewable energy environment includes several provisions to promote solar energy jobs. One section authorizes the Secretary of Education to award grants to universities and colleges to develop curriculum and training programs that prepare students for careers in renewable solar energy, energy efficiency, and other forms of climate change mitigation. Under another section, the Secretary of Labor is authorized to carry out such training programs.
There are good opportunities out there that do not require an upfront investment. Emerging technology in renewable energy is creating what are called green collar jobs. Solar energy is now a viable business opportunity for the home based business owner. The outlook for renewable energy in 2009-2010 is very bright.
In fact renewable energy is in the forefront of business opportunities right now. For those who are passionate about saving money, going green and creating a home based business, a solar energy business is a golden opportunity.
The solar energy market is a largely untapped sector of the business and renewable energy industry. Home based business owner’s need this type of information and the support the U.S. Government is showing to really kick start exciting new career options for many U.S. citizens.
It is the win-win business of 2009 because everyone benefits from a solar energy business.