Friday 27 March 2015 at 4:20 pm
Many people have made the decision to do something about their high electricity bills. While this is all well and good, it doesn’t exactly guarantee results. Unfortunately, many people found this out the hard way and have gotten little to no results in terms of a lower electric bill. This usually leaves one feeling discouraged and prompts one to give up in their efforts. Which is a shame as there are results to be had if one only knows how to go about getting them.
Acquiring good results depends upon knowing where the majority of your electricity comes from, i.e. how much electricity is going where. A typical bill would break down as follows:
50% goes to heating and cooling
15% goes to water heating.
15% to appliances.
10% to lighting.
10% to the rest.
So obviously, the thing to target is heating and cooling as reducing the amount of electricity spent on that would have the biggest impact on your overall bill. That’s not to say that you’d be wasting your time with the others, but for the biggest and fastest results, attack the air conditioner.
So how can one do this without having to suffer through hot summers without air conditioning or bitter winters without heating? Through SMARTER usage. The main reason that so much is spent on heating and cooling is because the average air conditioner is extremely inefficient. It wastes electricity regularly, electricity that still has to be paid for despite the fact that it is never used. Why it does this is reserved for another article (search for power factor if you are interested in the technical explanation) but how to prevent this is what is relevant. This brings us to an electric saver.
An electric saver is a device that will actually collect this wasted energy and recycle it back to your appliances where it will be validly used. This will improve your home’s electrical efficiency and lgive you a lower electric bill as a result.
Friday 20 March 2015 at 2:50 pm
If you’re one of the many individuals seeking to lower their monthly electricity bill, then before considering solar panels as your energy saving solution, you need to know a few facts.
First of all, solar panels will never fully free you from the power company. The average solar array can produce enough electricity to keep your home fully powered only at peak sunlight hours when the skies are clear. The amount of days like this will depend on where you live. The rest of the time, you’ll need to continue buying power from the electric company.
Secondly, this is not cheap to do. We’re talking about tens of thousands of dollars. It’s not so much that the panels themselves are that expensive, it’s all the other stuff you need to go with them. The inverter, batteries, controller, installation, maintenance, etc. So if you spend $20,000 on a system capable of generating $75 of electricity a month, you’re looking at over 20 years to see a return.
So if your main goal is to save electricity to help the environment (or some other non, financially motivated goal) then go for it. Home solar panels put us a step closer to a green energy future. But if you only want an energy saving solution to lower your electric bill, then this may not be the right option for you.
There are plenty of other options available. There are simple devices that you can install in your home that will help you to save energy without any major home modifications (like programmable thermostats and power savers). There are also lots of tips on usage that you can use to keep your waste and costs down low. So don’t think that because solar panels are out, that there is no other solution to your high electricity bills.
Hopefully this information will help you to make the right decision for your home energy saving campaign.
Friday 13 March 2015 at 3:55 pm
Electric bills can easily become on of the largest monthly expenses. Especially during the summer or winter when the air conditioner or heater (which use more electricity than any other appliances) are running at full force. So learning some ways to reduce your heating and cooling costs would really go a long way towards reducing your overall monthly expenses.
So let’s look at each one. We’ll start with the heater. This one sounds simple and obvious, but it is effective. By wearing more layers indoors one can set the temperature a little lower and thus save a bit on heating. Also, opening blinds during the day allows more sunlight to enter and will actually help to keep your home warmer. If you only need to keep one or two rooms heated (like at night when people are in their rooms sleeping), then using a small space heater will help you save even more on energy. Just be sure to not place it anywhere a fire hazard could be created.
For the summertime and reducing cooling costs, try these next tips. Close vents in unused rooms so that you’re only cooling the spaces that are occupied. Just don’t close the vent in the room containing the thermostat. You can also install a programmable thermostat so that you can set your a/c to run more efficiently. Keeping the filters clean is always a good idea as it will run more smoothly and with less energy.
Finally, in addition to all the tips given above, using an electric saver unit can help in both heating and cooling. It works by recycling electricity that usually goes to waste (of which A/C and heating systems are guilty of). You could see results as high as a 20% reduction of your monthly electric bills.
Hopefully these tips have put you on the right track to saving energy at home. Use them well and may you be saving money soon!
Friday 06 March 2015 at 3:48 pm
Sometimes, it’s hard to think how one person could make a big difference in a global problem, but the truth is that one could. Currently, we are faced with a big problem on our hands: the chemical composition of the Earth’s atmosphere is changing, due in no small part to our pollution of CO2. Each year, billions of tons of the stuff gets thrown into the atmosphere, and this is paving the way for a global climate change that has untold destructive potential.
So what does that have to do with the small, individual person? Well, a lot, actually. Most of the CO2 that is being produced comes from power plants that generate electricity by burning coal and other fossil fuels. The amount of coal burned would be determined by the overall demand for electricity. The more people use electricity, the more CO2 gets generated as a byproduct so obviously, we need to look for ways to conserve energy.
So if individual people started to reduce their own personal electrical consumption, the demand would come down, and with it, levels of CO2 production. This is something that must happen. While it is true that there a greener and more sustainable forms of energy generation that are going in place, they are decades away from being the majority, all the while we continue to harm our atmosphere.
So how can one help? By reducing their electrical usage. This can be done in a variety of ways, from switching to high efficiency appliances, to remembering to turn off lights and other things when not using them, to installing electric savers in one’s home. The point is that there are many ways to go about doing something, but no matter how, we must implement some ways to conserve energy.
So please, do your part in helping to bring about a healthy atmosphere capable of sustaining not only human life, but all other forms of life with which we are intimately connected. It’s not too late to make a difference if everyone acts now.
Wednesday 04 February 2015 at 3:17 pm
Posted By : Nate Nead
Many organizations and enterprises today want to reduce energy costs and consumption. In fact, depending on the industry, many companies are even mandated to reduce energy costs and consumption. With the demand and cost of energy continuously on the rise, more and more enterprises and organizations are in the business and market for driving energy costs down.
So what are some tried and true ways to reduce energy consumption and overall costs? Here are some tips on how plant managers, facility managers, and project managers can implement new energy consumption goals.
Set Goals. Before implementing any type of new work flow or system to being monitoring and measuring energy consumption and process, a team must first set specific energy consumption and cost goals. Start small and basic. For example, facility and plant project managers might first strive to reduce energy cost consumption by 5% or 10%, to start. This will instill confidence and boost productivity within teams and to get everyone on the “norming” project phase where team members begin to see performance success and results.
Identify Risks. Managing any new project, even a goal-oriented project related to energy management, can come with its own set of risks. The risks that a plant or facility project manager is likely to identify when implementing strategic energy consumption goals can include financial risks and opportunity risks. Even though the overall goal is to reduce energy consumption costs, sometimes reaching these particular goals can acquire some financial costs up front. However, over time, organizations and enterprises are likely to see a higher return on investment.
Identify Opportunities. Similar the point above, with any element of project risk there are also opportunities that can transpire from a project’s outcome. In addition to meeting and reaching energy consumption goals, other opportunities may be discovered. For example, other investments or discoveries can be found when implementing and executing a new work flow, system, or resources that could prove to be more useful to a project, team, and even benefit the organization as a whole.
Executing New Standards. In order to effectively calculate and analyze data metrics related to energy consumption and costs, align the data with project goals, risks, and opportunities, and then assess overall performance outcome, a plant or facility team lead or project manager must then execute new standards. What worked? What didn’t? Is a post-mortem needed? What did the team learn? All of these questions can be asked when analyzing the overall performance of a project. From there, plant and facility project managers can then execute new standards for all team members to follow across the board.
All in all, the above four points can easily be implemented into any energy management team’s goals to effectively reduce overall energy consumption and costs. Even though executing a new energy management and consumption project might appear like a huge undertaking for an energy management team, the facility and plant project manager can effectively manage the overall project by following these four crucial steps to successfully meet energy management and consumption goals.
Wednesday 04 February 2015 at 3:09 pm
Posted by Amy Sinatra Ayres
Solar energy continues to grow in the United States, but its relative unpredictability remains a hurdle in deploying it on the grid. Now a research team is working to create detailed 36-hour forecasts of incoming energy from the sun.
The three-year effort, led by the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), is funded by a $4.1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy. NCAR is working with universities, utilities and other energy companies, as well as commercial forecast providers, to predict with far more accuracy and specificity when cloud cover could reduce the amount of energy coming from the sun.
More than half of all states in the U.S. have required that utilities increase their use of renewable energy, but renewables are inherently variable. The hope is that solar can follow the example of wind, which now has far more reliable forecasts from a previous NCAR effort. (Related post: “Focusing on Facts: Can We Get All of Our Energy from Renewables?“)
The team is designing a prototype system that would forecast sunlight and the resulting power every 15 minutes over specific solar facilities.
One of the biggest challenges energy companies face with solar power is the ability to anticipate how much of it will be available — and when — so that they can reliably work it into the grid. (See related: “The Big Energy Question: What to Develop Next?“)
If an incorrect forecast shows that there will be more solar energy available than there is, a utility has to buy more on the wholesale market to make up for it — likely at a higher price than they would pay if they could plan ahead for it.
“What happens when a cloud comes over and cuts the production in half, and we as an ISO [independent system operator] have to go out and procure that energy? Then when you go to buy that energy it’s like buying an airline ticket” at the last minute, so it’s more expensive, explained Jim Blatchford, who helps integrate renewable energy into the smart grid for the California ISO, one of NCAR’s partners in the project.
“If we can predict what’s going on and we can line up that generation and buy it in the future instead of in real time,” the company can save money, he said.
Likewise, if more sun than is expected produces excess solar power, that extra energy can go to waste because currently there is no cost-effective way to store it.
“It’s critical for utility managers to know how much sunlight will be reaching solar energy plants in order to have confidence that they can supply sufficient power when their customers need it,” said Sue Ellen Haupt, director of NCAR’s Weather Systems and Assessment Program and the lead researcher on the solar energy project, in a statement. “These detailed cloud and irradiance forecasts are a vital step in using more energy from the sun.”
Nick Depmer, one of the managers on the trade floor at Xcel Energy in Colorado, knows that firsthand.
“You have to be able to unload or load up other assets to fill in that void,” he said. “If you can anticipate that issue, then you can react to it. The more accurate your forecast, the better.”
NCAR worked with Xcel to create a detailed wind energy forecast that saved Xcel ratepayers an estimated $6 million in a year. But determining cloud cover accurately and specifically always has been a challenge for meteorologists, because there are different types of clouds, and they’re affected by so many factors, including wind, humidity, surface heat, atmospheric gases, and more.
Russ Bigley, a meteorologist with Xcel, said the NCAR-led research team will start with the same atmospheric model that was used for wind, and tweak it to work for solar. He said solar forecasts that look further out might be easier than those for wind, but “solar on a five-minute basis is probably going to be a lot more difficult than the wind.”
Both Bigley and Depmer said that wind forecasting had come a long way with the NCAR project, in large part because information that companies might otherwise have kept to themselves was released. They’re hopeful the same will be true for solar, but they’re not convinced better forecasting will be the ultimate game changer because of solar’s cost.
Utilities do currently use solar forecasting, but they are looking for more detail.
“We do use computer models and we push that into a solar forecast based on cloud cover,” Bigley said. “I think right now … the state of the forecasting is probably in its infancy, and that’s partly because the penetration level of solar is not that great compared with other generation assets.”
The California ISO uses some solar forecasts in the two-hour range, but “we want to get it in closer to real time,” Blatchford said.
The research team will put in place a range of observing instruments, including lidars (laser-based technology that takes measurements in the atmosphere); specialized computer models; and mathematical and artificial intelligence techniques, according to a press release. A key part of the system will be placing groups of three sky imagers in each of several locations. They will observe the whole sky, triangulate the height and depth of clouds, and trace their paths across the sky.
Researchers plan to test the system in several geographic areas and during different weather patterns throughout the year.
The forecasts would then be able to predict when, where and what type of clouds would form over a specific area, as all of those factors have a varying impact on the amount of sunlight that gets through.
The utilities and ISOs can then look at the forecast and determine, “Where’s the sun in relation to those clouds? How’s it going to hit my solar farm?” said Blatchford. “This is all really just in its infancy. We’re [becoming] a little bit smarter, a little bit more advanced.”
Wednesday 04 February 2015 at 3:01 pm
Around two billion people in the world rely on burning biomass for cooking and power and a great portion of that live in off-grid regions. There’s a great opportunity there to bring alternative energy such as solar to those people, as we have seen in previous articles. And sometimes an idea can be really simple and take the shape of light bulb.
Nokero’s N200 solar powered LED lamp light bulb is one of them. Nokero is a short for no kerosene, in reference to the dirty fuel that so many people rely on. The company was founded in 2010 by American inventor Steve Katsaros. From his base in Denver he works on solar LED design innovation and orchestrates the business development, marketing and public relations of the company. The Hong Kong office deals with manufacturing, shipping and logistics.
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