Tag Archives: energy saving

Think Outside the Bottle

I’m not talking about alcohol. I’m talking about getting away from water bottles. While it may be acceptable to keep a few water bottles around the house for emergencies (natural disasters, water main breaks, et cetera), water bottles are a disastrous concept.

Think Outside the Bottle

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Sanyo’s Beautiful Solar Array Building

Sanyo has constructed what I would call a beautifully designed building in Japan. This building, known as the Solar Ark, not only collects solar power but also aims to educate visitors about solar power and its history. Buildings like this are critical in expanding solar use in conventional buildings. By showcasing how solar has been effectively used while still remaining aesthetically pleasing, I think Sanyo is not only making it acceptable to go, but fashionable. I hope more corporations can take a cue from this and implement it.

I don’t want to be dismissive of those that have implemented (or are in the process of doing so) solar power. Hewlett-Packard is transforming its head quarters to solar. Google not only uses solar but has spelled its plans for pushing a lot of money into renewable energy (to the effect, they hope, that those technologies will be cheaper than conventional fossil fuels). Even Wal-Mart has tested renewable energy concepts in a couple of its stores (not really enough in comparison to the massive footprint the world’s largest retailer holds but a start).

You can see the Solar Ark in the gallery or learn more about it at the Sanyo Solar Ark site. If you’re visiting Japan, you can also visit the Ark to see the museum or check out the cafe. A bullet train also passes by.

Solar Ark

Sanyo Solar Ark


Cooking: Now Extremely Efficient

Rene Nunez Suarez is responsible for what should help half the planet’s population.  He has invented and patented an extremely fuel efficient wood burning stove meant for cooking.  Reports state this stove uses 90% less fuel than a traditional stove.

 Suarez

Every site I have looked it has praised Suarez over and over again.  They place his stove on a pedestal.   Its amazing.  Now ask someone in a third world about it and see what the answer is.  Suarez who?  What stove?  Save wood?  I wish.

The interesting story is the background to Suarez.  This man hails from El Salvador, lives with his mother, and drives a ’90 Kia.  His wife left him and took the children.  He has spent his life savings on this stove (some reported US$2.5 million).  In turn, he’s won an award and received a patent.  Whoop dee doo.  Who really cares if no one uses the damn thing?

Suarez had a brilliant idea and has thus far lost out.  He wanted to develop a better way to cook and thus save fuel and time for many people, even those in his own country.  Instead, no one is buying the stove.  The poor folk in third world countries haven’t the money to purchase it and their governments are focused elsewhere.  Environmental groups are traditionally cash strapped or uninterested in actually investing in anything that would help the planet.

So I am imploring my readers, if someone out there is looking for a good thing to invest in, consider his stove.  Consider the vast implications before continuing:  If everyone who needed one had one, we could cut half the planet’s cooking related pollution down by around 90%.  In turn, 90% less fuel means 90% more trees spared.  We still need to revive our forests but sparing them is even better.  The environmental impact would be enormous.

According to Treehugger, this device sells for $325.  Perhaps ramped up production and economies of scale would drive the price down reasonably.   Hell, we can build laptops and sell them to the third world but close to $100 each, why not a stove?

If you’re interested, read more at the Seattle Times. If you’re more interested in energy efficient cooking, look at the Appropriate Infrastructure Development Group.


Better Lighting

With the Sun shining less (at least here in the Midwest), we’re using our lights more. Soon it’ll be dark out by 5 or 6 and we’ll be using our lights more. I’m glad I’ve got my CFLs to ease my electric bill though.

I’ve written on CFLs before, I’m sure. For your standard lighting, it doesn’t get any better. These bulbs use a fraction of the electricity that your incandescents do. And they’re modern. Incandescents haven’t really changed since they were invented. We don’t drive the same cars. We don’t ride the same bikes. Why then would be want to use 100 year old light bulbs?

CFL Bulb

Energy Star Certified CFLs are a great way to go. You know you’re getting quality and energy savings every time. Plus Energy Star has helpful calculators. For consumers and businesses, Energy Star offers an easy way to calculate your savings switching your lights to Energy Star Certified CFLs versus using conventional incandescents. The site also lists helpful information on the minute amount of included mercury. Plus read their guide (PDF) on mercury clean-up in the event you break a bulb.

Popular Mechanics, the magazine responsible for all kinds of crazy technology articles, pitted CFLs against incandescents for their May 2007 issue. I’m sure my readers won’t be surprised to hear that CFLs won out. The website has all the results of the test.

I’ve heard many people complain (my own dear mom included) that they don’t like using CFLs because they don’t fit where they want them or they just look plain ugly. But I disagree! GE has a listing of all the funky shaped bulbs they sell as CFL and you won’t be disappointed. Yeah, they have your typical spirals but they have replacements for your B10 (that almost flame shaped bulb) and your flood lights and everything else. They even offer their own energy savings calculator so that you can put in your bulb types and approximate wattage to find out what switching with save you. This is a tad easier than the Energy Star version. Its not perfect but according to it I’ll save $450 over the life of those bulbs.

Buy your CFLs either at your local store (Wal-Mart and Menards are often the cheapest places though Wal-Mart is slightly evil) or online through various retailers. THEbulb.com offers mostly spirals but does work to offset carbon emissions. Eartheasy Shop also has an awesome selection of the different CFLs but also offers LED lighting and other green products.


Easing Your Computers Impact

I stumbled on a rather interesting idea the other day: Local Cooling. The site offers a free small download that monitors your computers power usage (also will total your system’s whole requirements) and tweaks it to save energy. You can already do the same settings but this lets you keep track of how much you’ve saved.

Local Cooling