Archive | February 2017

A Homeowner’s Guide To Energy Saving Devices

We’re always being bombarded with sales pitches that say “Save 40% on your energy bills!” or “Cut your electric bill in half!” Consumers are frequently misled and confused by the various gizmos designed to save energy in the home. Consumer advocates warn homeowners to look out for products that don’t live up to the hype. Watch out for transient voltage surge protectors, black box devices for appliances, power factor correction devices, insulated paints, power-filtering devices and other energy conserving devices that promise hard-to-believe guarantees. Yet despite all the frauds out there, a number of legitimate devices are being widely used for saving energy in the home.


Since heating and cooling system expenses count for the largest portion of your overall home energy consumption, we’ll first look at this realm of home energy saving devices. Programmable thermostats allow homeowners to set specific room temperatures for certain times of the day, without needing to manually adjust the dial. For instance, many people program their thermostats to turn down at night or while they’re at work and not using the heat. They can also program the heat to automatically turn back up just before they come home at night.

For the forgetful, there are also remote control heating systems that let you change the temperature even after you leave home. With a quick phone call, you can change the temperature of your home. Centralized heating and cooling also helps households with individual thermostats to maintain better consistency.

Another way to save energy is with water heating system devices. Reducing water consumption will also save on electricity. For instance, a low-flow showerhead can save up to 40% of your water consumption, thus taking the burden off your heating system. Similarly, a multi-setting showerhead (with pulse, spray, pause, turbo pulse, etc.) can save water. A water saving toilet lets homeowners save up to 25% of their water consumption. Energy experts say you’ll see the energy savings from these devices after they pay for themselves within the first few months.

Solar battery chargers are great devices to save energy using off-grid power. For instance, the “solar egg” can reach over a 90% charge in just four hours of sun, which can be used to power up mobile phones, computers, digital cameras and other electronics. Not only can these save you money on your energy bills at home, but they can also be extremely helpful when you need power outdoors, far from electrical outlets, and they produce no pollutants to boot! The Voltaic Systems Solar Backpack is another amazing invention. One hour of sunlight will charge your phone long enough for you to make a few calls. However, a full 10-hour charge can provide up to 55 hours of stored energy! With several different adapters, you can easily plug in your MP3 player, computer, cell phone or other electronic device. Some of the more expensive $500 bags can even charge laptops, but you can find more basic versions for $75 to $250.

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Wind Energy Can Help Reduc Peak Demands

Wind energy technology can help much to boost manufacturing productions as long as construction and implementation of wind farms is well understood. Once the initial costs in setting up wind farms are already spent, electricity generation costs would already be negligible


As part of a study on alternative energy solutions and sources, the Department of Energy has proposed to use wind power in generating up to 20% of our total needs. There are more than enough locations to install wind farms within the USA, requiring an approximate investment of $150 Billion a year.

Advocates of the plan suggest that if there is to be a legislation which will mandate local utilities to purchase generated power at regulated rates, it would essentially guarantee demand. As part of the carbon emissions reduction program of any enterprise,there is always enough reason to make this project a priority.

So long as it is well understood how to construct and implement wind farms, this technology can greatly help boost manufacturing productions. Once the initial capital costs are already spent, the cost of generating electricity from wind energy is almost already negligible. It is therefore practical to implement wind farms as long as the demand is guaranteed through mandatory purchases to protect investment costs.

The static economic footprint will help stabilize the price of the other commodities in the market if wind power will become a big chunk of the total energy supply. Those who oppose wind plan say that it is intermittent and should be adopted in as wholesale in remedy of this flaw. To make this work, regional distribution grids need to be interconnected in a way that will help level productivity. The prospect of manipulation of electricity distribution massively in a national grid is still being studied.

Other methods can be used to manage capacity requirements when demand is at peak through appropriate contracting and true implementation of smart grid that could help level off peak periods. It is not possible to account for a downturn in wind generated electricity because of weather conditions, it will be possible to reintroduce semi-mothballed carbon producing facilities of old, depending on the facilities’ patterns of economic use.

Alternative energy must already be a priority concern as the pressure to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and use of fossil fuels is already increasing. Whether or not it is feasible to implement wind energy in wholesale, it is still a significant contributor and would be very feasible as an alternative source of energy.

Solar Energy Pros and Cons

Below you`ll find a list over the various pros and cons of solar energy. By clicking on one of the blue links, you will be taken further down on the page for more in-depth information. Everything you are about to read is properly referenced at the bottom.

 Advantages of Solar Energy

1. Renewable

Solar energy is a renewable energy source. This means that we cannot run out of solar energy, as opposed to non-renewable energy sources (e.g. fossil fuels, coal and nuclear).

We will have access to solar energy for as long as the sun is alive – another 6.5 billion years according to NASA[1]. We have worse things to worry about; in fact, scientists have estimated that the sun itself will swallow Earth 5 billion years from now.

2. Abundant

The potential of solar energy is beyond imagination. The surface of the earth receives 120,000 terawatts of solar radiation (sunlight) – 20,000 times more power than what is needed to supply the entire world.[2]

3. Sustainable

An abundant and renewable energy source is also sustainable. Sustainable energy sources meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. In other words, solar energy is sustainable because there is no way we can over-consume.

4. Environmentally Friendly

Harnessing solar energy does generally not cause pollution. However, there are emissions associated with the manufacturing, transportation and installation of solar power systems – almost nothing compared to most conventional energy sources. It is clear that solar energy reduces our dependence on non-renewable energy sources. This is an important step in fighting the climate crisis.

5-energy is available all over the world. Not only the countries that are closest to the Equator can put solar energy to use – Germany, for example, has by far the highest capacity of solar power in the world.

6. Reduces Electricity Costs

With the introduction of net metering and feed-in tariff (FIT) schemes, homeowners can now “sell” excess electricity, or receive bill credits, during times when they produce more electricity than what they actually consume.

This means that homeowners can reduce their overall electricity expenses by going solar. Data from One Block Off the Grid reveals that adding solar panels to your home can bring in monthly savings of well above $100 in many states. In Hawaii, residents save on average $64,000 after 20 years!

Nowadays, most homeowners choose leasing or power purchase agreements to finance their solar panels. This drastically reduces, or in some cases completely eliminates, the upfront costs of a solar panel system, and allows homeowners to start saving money from the first day.

If you want to learn more about the advantages specifically related to residential solar photovoltaic panels (generating electricity with solar energy at home), then check out Benefits of Solar Panels.

7. Many Applications

Solar energy can be used for many different purposes. It can be used to generate electricity in places that lack a grid connection, for distilling water in Africa, or even to power satellites in space.

Solar power is also known as “The People`s Power”, which refers to how easily deployable solar panels are at the consumer level (both photovoltaic and solar thermal).

With the introduction of flexible thin-film solar cells, solar power can even be seemingly integrated into the material of buildings (building integrated photovoltaics) – Sharp, a solar panel manufacturer with headquarters in Japan, recently introduced transparent solar power windows.

8. Shared Solar

Because of shading, insufficient space and ownership issues, 1/5 American homes are simply unfit for solar panels.[3] With the introduction of shared solar, homeowners can subscribe to “community solar gardens”, and generate solar electricity without actually having solar panels on their own rooftops.

9. Silent

There are no moving parts involved in most applications of solar power. There is no noise associated with photovoltaics. This compares favorable to certain other green-techs such as wind turbines.

10. Financial Support from Government/State

Government and state rebates have become available both on utility-scale and for the majority of homeowners. This means that the effective costs of solar panels are much less than what they used to be. In some cases, the price of a residential photovoltaic system can be cut more than 50%.

11. Low Maintenance

The majority of today`s solar power systems do not required a lot of maintenance. Residential solar panels usually only require cleaning a couple of times a year. Serious solar manufacturers ship 20- or 25-year warranties with their solar panels.

Technological advancements are constantly being made in the solar power industry. Innovation in nanotechnology and quantum physics has the potential to triple the electrical output of solar panels.

 

Disadvantages of Solar Energy

1. Expensive

Is solar power really expensive? This is probably the most debatable aspect on the entire solar energy pros and cons list. The driving forces behind the development of solar energy are rooted in politics. Solar power is incentivized to compete against other energy sources on the market. On the other hand, the U.S. government, similarly to the rest of the world, provides incentives to every major energy production market – not just solar.

In 2010, coal received $1,189 billion in federal subsidies and support for electricity production while solar is not far behind at $968 billion.[4]

Nowadays, the best solar panels can in many situations be cheaper than buying electricity from the utility. This wouldn`t have been possible without incentives.

2. Intermittent

Solar energy is an intermittent energy source. Access to sunlight is limited at certain times (e.g. morning and night). Predicting overcast days can be difficult. This is why solar power is not our first choice when it comes to meeting the base load energy demand. However, solar power has fewer problems than wind power when it comes to intermittence.

3. Energy Storage is Expensive

Energy storage systems such as batteries will help smoothen out demand and load, making solar power more stable, but these technologies are also expensive.

Luckily, there`s a good correspondence between our access to solar energy and human energy demand. Our electricity demand peaks in the middle of the day, which also happens to be the same time there`s a lot of sunlight!

4. Associated with Pollution

While solar power certainly is less polluting than fossil fuels, some problems do exist. Some manufacturing processes are associated with greenhouse gas emissions. Nitrogen trifluroide and sulfur hexafluoride has been traced back to the production of solar panels. These are some of the most potent greenhouse gases and have many thousand times the impact on global warming compared to carbon dioxide. Transportation and installation of solar power systems can also indirectly cause pollution.

The bottom line is this: There’s nothing that’s completely risk-free in the energy world, but solar power compares very favorably with all other technologies.

5. Exotic Materials

Certain solar cells require materials that are expensive and rare in nature. This is especially true for thin-film solar cells that are based on either cadmium telluride (CdTe) or copper indium gallium selenide (CIGS).

6. Requires Space

Power density, or watt per square meter (W/m²), is essential when looking at how much power can be derived from a certain area of real estate of an energy source. Low power density indicates that too much real estate is required to provide the power we demand at reasonably prices.

The global mean power density for solar radiation is 170 W/m².[5] This is more than any other renewable energy source, but not comparable to oil, gas and nuclear power.