Category Archives: Energy Efficiency

Are Home Energy Audits Worth the Cost?

A drafty house that allows air to move through cracks and gaps may be letting more than just air move through those cracks and gaps; it may be letting your money slip right out.
You can do your own energy audit if you are willing to take your time and be very detailed.

It is helpful to keep a list of any problems you find so you can prioritize the solutions. Go to each room in your home and check for any leaks or drafts from windows, doors, electrical outlets, baseboards or even the gap between the walls and ceiling. Don’t forget to check any fireplaces, attic hatches or window-mounted air conditioners.
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The US Can Decrease Energy Prices

There really is a way to force down energy prices in the United States. Everyone complains about energy prices, no one does anything about it. That is because no one know what to do. It’s like most other concerns here and anywhere else. People are frustrated with a certain situation, then the frustration escalates becomes they feel powerless to make a change. The concerns with energy are no different. Energy prices keep going up and up. Citizens are upset because wage are not increasing to keep up with expenses. Exasperation increases because everyone feels caught, controlled, with no recourse to take.
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Saving Electricity – The Easy Way

At the point in time electricity became a necessity, the lines of energy conservation began to blur. Today, there are many options that not only save electricity but reduce the residual footprint of energy use. It’s a matter of rethinking lifestyles in a way that doesn’t add inconvenience or increased labor involved in ordinary daily activities. Even the most conscious efforts to saving electricity can become pleasurable experiences.

Saving Electricity The KISS Way
There’s a second meaning to KISS: Keep It Simple Savings. Saving electricity may be as simple as reliving simple life pleasures. What can be more comforting after a hectic day at the office than a tranquil candlelight dinner for two, or for one? Even kids don’t mind roughing it like this one or two nights a week at dinner. They may even look forward to it. At the end of the day, a bath or shower by candlelight is one great way to be good to yourself and indulge in a lovely, half hour of soothing “Me Time”.
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How to Use Solar Energy to Power Your Appliances

Utilizing the sun, also known as solar power, has become the latest trend in energy conservation. Those harnessing the power of the sun are ultimately doing their part to save the planet—the very same planet that sustains our life, as well as the lives of future generations. Obviously though, this growing popularity in solar power has created a pressing need for more solar-powered products.

People are now living much more efficiently by building solar-powered houses. In these houses, they also want solar-powered appliances, lighting, heating, water pumps, and water heaters, as they are much more efficient. Luckily, we now have a way of purchasing solar-powered appliances to use in the kitchen and elsewhere in the house as well. Appliances are usually the most costly apparatus in a home as they usually run almost continuously and get used quite often.

Appliances Available

Now, obviously you don’t want to go through the time and effort of making your home solar-powered and still continue using standard appliances. The perfect complement for a solar-powered home, of course, would be solar-powered appliances right?

Refrigerators: The one great thing about solar-powered refrigerators is that they offer the convenience of a refrigerator, as well as a freezer, usually at a minimal amount of cost. They are thermostat-controlled which allows you to set the correct temperatures for both the refrigerator, and the freezer (obviously, the freezer must be colder). There is very little noise as it runs, generally because the flow of electricity is constant. They also come in a variety of sizes as well as colors in order to fit into any solar-powered kitchen.
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Concentrating Solar Power Systems

concentrating solar system

If you have ever seen a field with several mirrors pointing toward the sun you may be looking at a solar power system. These systems work to concentrate the sunlight to one area and use the heat to heat up the liquid that flows along the pipes. This system is called Parabolic-trough system. This type of system heats oil that is flowing through the pipe. The oil is hot and that is why it is used to boil water to power a steam generator which in turns powers electricity.

The reason that this system works so well is because the U-shaped mirrors attracts and collects the suns heat which is then transferred onto the receiver. The receiver absorbs the heat and transfers into fluid which helps to power the engine.
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How to store solar power ?

Solar power can be found in several different places on the earth. You can find solar power in a parked car, in a building with no air circulating, in a home without windows opened or fans circulating the air. When you step into any of these places that have been in the sunlight for a while you soon become overpowered by the amount and the intensity of the heat. This kind of heat can be taken and converted into heat that can heat your home, your water, an outbuilding, or any other building you would like to have heat in.

Heating by solar power is a free way of heating. When you heat using solar power you use a source that will direct the heat from the sunlight during the daytime to your solar source. A solar source is a device that you use to attract and trap the heat from the sun. Just like a car out in the parking lot gets hot when it faces the midday sun and the windows are rolled up. The seats can become very hot, too hot to sit on. These seats are a solar source because they trapped the heat inside and didn’t want to let them go. When this happens the seats will still be warm long after the sun quits shining directly on that car.
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Eight Cool Things About Solar Power That Just Might Change the World

Rapid changes in the solar power sector are fueling a green energy revolution.  With so much emphasis on solving the global warming puzzle, technology in solar is advancing very quickly and may be the answer we’ve been looking for.  Let’s take a look at how this industry is changing so quickly.

1.  Solar Panel Prices Are Coming Down – And Fast
The biggest detractor for solar in the past has been simple: it was just too expensive to be practical.  Coal generated power was as much as 90% cheaper than solar power.  But with the massive investment in production capacity, coupled with the global economic slowdown, prices on solar panels have come down anywhere from 10%-30% in the last 6 months.  This means that many projects that were borderline before are now feasible.  And the trend appears to be gaining steam.  Prices on Sharp solar panels, for instance, have been lowered 3 times since May, bringing their cost into the $4/watt range.  Just last year they were closer to $5/watt.

2.  Solar Film Will Drive Prices Even Lower
Companies such as FirstSolar, Nanosolar, and Sharp are quickly bringing solar film, also called thin-film solar, to market.  We’ve been promised this amazing technology for years and it seems its finally here.  Thin film is manufactured in a way that is similar to printing, and the product often comes in a roll.  This is a much more efficient way of producing cells than the traditional solar panel, which was made in a process similar to microchips.  We are seeing initial pricing on this new technology in the $1 to $2/watt range.

3.  Efficiency is Getting Better
Solar efficiency is the measure of power produced versus the sun’s energy that hits the panel.  In the past any efficiency over 15% was seen as good, and approaching 20% was great.  Now such panels as SunPower’s are regularly achieving 22%.  That means more bang for buck and more energy produced for every square inch of panel installed.

4.  Thin Film Efficiency is Better Too
Solar film is levelling the field on efficiency.  Thin film traditionally had efficiencies in the 10% area, roughly half the efficiency of crystalline panels.  While that measured quantity has trended up slightly, industry professionals are finding that actual production is higher.  This is because the film produces better in diffuse light and partially shaded conditions than panels.  In one project in Israel, installers recently found that the thin film solar only required 25% more surface area compared to crystalline panels to produce the same energy.  This means that actual efficiency is probably closer to 15% for film.

5.  Utility Scale Solar is Blossoming
Utility scale solar is PV power for the masses, brought to you through your traditional power lines.  Usually the power plants are located in desert areas with ample sunshine.  They often use a technology called concentrated photovoltaics (CPV) that uses mirrors, tracking devices, and advanced solar panel technology to squeeze (almost) every drop of energy from sunlight.  Due to new federal rules on depreciation, generous tax credits, and technological advances, utilities and investors can install these systems profitably.  In the next 5-10 years we will probably see the record for largest CPV installation broken several times over.  Projects in Colorado, California, and Arizona are already under way and will vie for the nation’s largest when complete.

6.  Power Is Getting More Expensive
While this isn’t necessarily good news, it’s certainly overdue.  Until we wrap the true environmental cost of producing carbon into the cost of electricity, our environmental picture will not improve.  Whether we do that through cap and trade, a carbon tax, or another way, it means that power is going to cost more in the short term.  This increased cost will encourage energy efficiency and drive improvement in the production, transportation, and storage of electricity.  It will also make solar power look more attractive.

7.  Research Will Only Fuel the Revolution
Speaking of innovation, research and development will change the industry in ways we’re not even aware of yet.  Our wonderful university research programs are driving tremendous changes in the industry.  Energy has become a focus of federal and industry dollars, much the way telecommunications and information technology was in the last decade.  College programs now emphasize energy efficiency in all aspects of design and engineering, and integrating solar in buildings, vehicles, and even clothing have become the norm.  It seems like every week we hear about a  breakthrough in solar panels, thin film solar, and battery technology in our university research programs

8.  Massive Investment Will Incubate the Next Energy Stars
One sure sign of change to come is when Silicon Valley venture capital gets involved.  These funds are only interested in investing in sectors that are rapidly growing and can make gobs of money in a short time.  So when you hear they are investing billions of dollars in photovoltaic technology, and a new deal seems to be coming every week, you can bet there are big things on the horizon.  These prognosticators may not be right all the time, but you can bet they don’t throw their money away at weak prospects.  The same guys who made huge bets on Google, Yahoo, and Netscape are now putting their chips on the energy sector, and specifically solar power.

Kriss Bergethon is a writer and solar expert.  He and his wife live off the grid in Colorado.  For more information visit his site at Solar Kits.