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?
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.
If your business is already environmentally friendly or working to get there, consider moving your website over to a host that shares the same values. Green web hosts rely on sustainable renewable energy sources to power their servers. Typically they also have a backup generator or are connected to the grid in the event something happens. That way you get the same reliability with a green host as you would any other.
Other hosts can’t always work well off of renewable energy. Often they are in regions incompatible with wind power or solar panels. However, they offset their usage by purchasing carbon credits.
Also be sure to choose a server that runs Linux or FreeBSD. Open Source tends to be more reliable than its closed source counter parts and is often free.
- AISO.net relies completely on solar power. They run Windows and Linux servers. Plans start at $10/month.
- ThinkHost uses solar and wind power. Their employees telecommute to further cut any potential emissions. They use a FreeBSD (think Unix) server. Hosting starts at $7.95 per month.
- RackSpace doesn’t push the green aspect of their business like the others do. I’m not sure they even use green power. However, they do plant a tree for every server sold and that’s worth mentioning.
- Sustainable Websites uses 100% wind power. They utilize Red Hat Linux and CentOS to power their servers. Plans start at $10/month.
If you’re a green web host seeking a little free advertising, let me know. This site gets around 30 hits a day so its reasonable advertising. I know that there must be more than four green hosts on the Internet, I just can’t find them.
Buildings often come off as ugly concrete, sometimes shiny pretty glass. Either way, buildings tend to be inorganic. The GrowSpot has some beautiful photos of work done by Patrick Blanc. Blanc incorporates plants in the exterior of buildings by attaching a fibrous material to the building. The plants then take root in that and water is trickled down behind it. I love the idea to get more plant life back in the cities where its been lost. Imagine 10 or 20 stories buildings covered like this. I imagine there is also some insulating attribute to this as well.
This is also slightly different from your typical gardening. A Google search for vertical gardening has great tips for pole beans and sugar pod peas but nothing on sticking plants to buildings. Wikipedia has nothing on it yet either. This form of gardening varies because it seems to mostly be aesthetic but promises to be functional for insulating purposes. I don’t think it would be too practical to actually grow food on large buildings this way. Someone should try it on their house though.
When you’re ready to part with that dear old computer, don’t throw in the trash. Earth911 let’s you search for local recyclers who take not only electronics but also plastics, household goods, automotive parts (think oil and tires), and lawn and garden chemicals.
Its especially important to recycle your electronics. Many computers contain lead which if thrown in the landfill, can seep out. I’m personally not big on drinking lead water.
The other interesting part on this is that you can recyclers for your CFLs (compact fluorescent lamp). These lights go a long way in reducing energy demands but the huge downside: mercury. The bulbs work by exciting a small amount of mercury inside the tube to produce light. Wikipedia can explain it much better.
Finally, if there’s a Staples store nearby, you can take your computer, printer, monitor, whatever you have into them. Staples is the first big retailer to offer electronics recycling in store. The big items do cost money. Its $10 to recycle your monitor, printer, or computer tower. However, that price is fairly competitive with everything else I’ve seen. Small items (keyboards, mice, speakers) are free to recycle.
Update Nov 17, 2007 – CNET UK posted an article on recycling your old electronics.
Wow, another Ubuntu derivative. gOS just showed up out of the blue on a $200 Everex Wal-Mart special. The only attention getter there was Wal-Mart selling Linux again. No matter. gOS is pretty using Enlightenment with Google enhancements all based on Ubuntu. I’m giving it a try shortly.
UPDATE 11/14/07: I’ve been playing with gOS and slowly figuring it out. Since its still Ubuntu I was able to enable default repositories and download all my regular packages plus some healthy updates. I’ve noticed they have a different repo included for the Google toolbar and I’m searching through it for me info. In the next day or two, I should have a How To up for making your Ubuntu system all slick and shiny.
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.
This just sounds like a real good idea with a lot of potential bad. Scientists have engineered algae to absorb more light thus making it grow better. In turn, more algae means more biofuel potential. Scientists have looked at algae for a while as a way to reduce fossil fuel dependence as it can be turned into biodiesel and this mutant algae even produces some hydrogen thus giving way to hydrogen powered cars.
The biggest advantage is that we don’t touch our food supply. The current push is for ethanol which mainly comes from corn (and occasionally bad beer). Algae also sucks up a lot of CO2.
The bad? Yeah, there’s always bad. What happens when this algae gets out? What does it do the natural system? GMO is always dangerous because we don’t know what we’re ultimately changing in the world.
But its still a cool idea. See what they’re doing at Technology Review.