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Many of us are working hard to use less energy at home, but what is the state of energy efficiency policies in the US? According to an American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) report, the US ranks 9th in energy efficiency out of the 12 countries with the largest economies. What is it about the US that has us lagging behind China, Japan and six other countries, and what changes are in store?

Energy Efficiency Policies - How Do They Affect You? (The Dirt on Green}

The ACEEE 2012 International Energy Efficiency Scorecard includes metrics like the efficiency of buildings, industry, transportation and a category called national effort. We find ourselves so far down the list largely due to poor performance in transportation (due in part to our sprawling size and lack of a robust public transportation system) and “national effort,” which reflects our commitment to energy efficiency policies and programs.  

So what’s happening at a national level?

Even though we are behind our peer countries, some exciting things are happening that should ultimately trickle down to us. For some things, we aren’t likely to see the impacts in our own pockets for a while, but less expensive fuel and more jobs will incrementally make things better for all of us.  


Appliance and Equipment Standards will have an immediate impact on energy costs for many people. A series of laws and regulations, beginning with the Energy Policy and Conservation Act (1975) through the Energy Independence and Security Act (2007), have established appliance standards that have benefited consumers directly. Examples include reducing the amount of electricity microwaves use in standby mode by 75% and mandating that, independent of the technology used, light bulbs must consume about 25% less electricity than they used to. R. Neal Elliott, Associate Director for Research at ACEEE, writes that consumer savings from standards that are already in place will add up to a cumulative savings of about $1.1 trillion by 2035.

Building Codes

One of the easiest ways the government can help consumers save energy and therefore money, is to include energy efficiency requirements into building codes. According to the Department of Energy, the Building Energy Codes Program is estimated to save consumers up to $230 billion on their utility bills by 2040. They plan to achieve this in many ways, including climate-specific design, high efficiency windows, lighting and insulation.

Other initiatives offer exciting changes that will take some time to trickle down to the consumer. For example, the Department of Energy’s federally funded budget allots over $2.7 billion to energy and the environment.  Just a few of the ways this money is spent includes:

  • making algal biofuels more available and less expensive
  • funding for Next Generation Power Electronics Institutes to develop more efficient power electronics that will make devices smaller, faster and more energy efficient
  • tax credits for companies manufacturing things like energy efficient furnaces, energy conserving light technologies, specialized electricity transmission towers, and components to enhance electric-motor transportation
  • advancement of high-tech fuel efficient American automobiles

Recently, significant energy efficiency measures were written into the 2013 Climate Action Plan. By reducing wasted energy, families and businesses stand to save a tremendous amount of electricity. This is accomplished by:

  • emphasizing appliance standards (like those for microwaves)
  • funding energy efficiency upgrades in affordable multifamily properties
  • incorporation of energy efficiency factors in mortgage underwriting and appraisals
  • expanding the Better Buildings Challenge

There are many programs and policy frameworks that can help local, state and federal law makers prioritize energy efficient policy decisions. For instance, the Alliance Commission on National Energy Efficiency Policy was created in 2012 and has identified solutions for increasing US energy productivity (the amount of productivity we get for the energy we use) while stimulating the economy. Their approach includes tactics as simple as educating the public about energy efficiency and as involved as reform of energy efficient tax incentives. They estimate that if their recommendations are implemented, Americans could realize a net savings of over $1000 a year in energy and transportation costs.

Another example is the Energy Productivity Innovation Challenge, an amendment to the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act. Originally introduced in 2011, the next step is for it to pass the Senate, then the House, before making its way to the President’s desk. Among other things, this act specifically addresses building codes, industrial efficiency and an interesting program called Supply Star. Like its cousin EnergyStar, Supply Star will allow consumers to make informed decisions by recognizing companies and products with highly efficient supply chains. If implemented, it is projected to create tens of thousands of jobs by 2020 and save over $2 billion in energy costs. 

Energy Efficiency Policies - How Do They Affect You? (The Dirt on Green}

While some national efforts aren’t making an impact yet, states are taking up the slack. For example, many of our peer nations have national energy savings targets that provide reasonable goals that encourage investment and the implementation of existing technology and programs. Simply put, we don’t have one. Fortunately, half of our states have put together something similar: Energy Efficiency Resource Standards (EERS). For example, Massachusetts, Vermont and Arizona require an energy savings of 2% annually. Some states are using the framework created by the EPA’s National Action Plan for Energy Efficiency.  

Energy Efficiency Policies - How Do They Affect You? (The Dirt on Green}

There’s no way to tell which of the frameworks will ultimately stick, but there is certainly a rising tide that stands to benefit us all. In the meantime, you can stay ahead of the curve by continuing to upgrade your light bulbs to LED lights, appliances and devices to energy efficient products and install proper insulation. The best part is that politics aside, all of these changes are designed to save you money on fuel and electricity.

Dawn Richards of EnergyEarth

© 2014 Energy Earth LLC. All Rights Reserved.

LEDs are the most efficient choice for lighting your home, office, or anywhere you need light, indoors or out. And they come in every style!

Decorative and Dimmable LED Bulbs (Specialty LEDs)

Decorative bulbs can outfit your beautiful, decorative fixtures with your choice of LED lights that will look just like any other candelabra bulb. The Feit LED 3.5 watt clear flame tip bulb gives off an inviting, warm white light and replaces your 15 watt incandescent candelabra bulbs. You can save over $25 over the life of each bulb. Have a chandelier with six lights in it? You could save over $150 on that one fixture!

Decorative and Dimmable LED Bulbs (Specialty LEDs)

If you have a light fixture with a higher profile and you want a little more light per bulb, the MaxLite Candelabra 2.2 watt LED will also give off a warm white light while replacing your 25 watt incandescent bulb and save you a whopping $140 per bulb over its lifetime (that’s $840 for a six bulb fixture)!

Decorative and Dimmable LED Bulbs (Specialty LEDs)

Dimmable bulbs are available in nearly every light output and shape. We have nearly 50 dimmable LEDs backed with our 4everLED guarantee! Choose from light bulbs ranging from warm white light (2700k) to cool white light (4100k) and a brightness equivalent to 15 – 120 watt incandescent bulbs.

Decorative and Dimmable LED Bulbs (Specialty LEDs)

Dimmable LEDs may not work as intended with a typical dimmer switch (sometimes known as a legacy dimmer switch) because of the drastic difference in their design. For the best results and the most savings, purchase an energy efficient dimmer switch rated for use with dimmable CFL and LED bulbs.

With prices like ours, there’s no reason to wait to switch to LEDs. Make the switch and start saving today!

—The EnergyEarth Team

© 2014 Energy Earth LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Sources:

http://www.popularmechanics.com/home/improvement/electrical-plumbing/how-to-use-a-dimmer-switch-with-cfls-and-leds-15882096

Fireplaces look great and can make a room seem cozy and inviting. Unfortunately, most fireplaces are so poorly designed that they end up wasting energy rather than providing heat. Any time you waste energy, you waste money, too. You can improve fireplace efficiency and save money in the process by following the tips below.

How to Improve the Energy Efficiency of Your Fireplace {The Dirt on Green}

Install an insert – An insert is essentially a metal box that fits tightly inside the fireplace space to reduce drafts and radiate heat. Some models feature variable speed blowers that send heated air back into the room. Glass doors on the insert let the fire shine through and emit additional heat as well. Inserts may burn wood, but they may also burn gas or pellets. Pellets, made from recycled wood waste, dried corn, sunflower seeds, or other bio fuel, are fed through a hopper to maintain a steady flow of fuel. Some inserts resemble a wood-burning stove, and feature a shelf that gets hot enough to boil a kettle full of water. NOTE: When choosing an insert, select a model approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Not only will it be highly energy efficient, but an EPA-certified insert will reduce the air pollution associated with conventional wood-burning stoves or fireplaces. Inserts are best installed by a professional.

Add doors – If it’s not possible to install an insert, add doors to the fireplace to help seal off drafts when the fireplace isn’t being used and to add a measure of safety when the fire is burning. Doors made from ceramic glass will radiate heat back into the room but still let the fire inside shine through.

Replace the grate that the wood sits on – Often, the wood in a fireplace sits on a metal grate that just props the wood up. Grates with blowers on the bottom send heated air back into the room; those made of C-shaped metal tubes draw in cool air, heat it, and circulate it back out.

How to Improve the Energy Efficiency of Your Fireplace {The Dirt on Green}

Add a Fireback – Put a metal plate at the back of the fireplace to protect the masonry and radiate heat back into the room when the fire dies down.

Close the damper – The damper is a metal plate inside the chimney that can be adjusted to let air into the fireplace and smoke out. Whenever the fireplace is not being used, close the damper to prevent hot air in the room from getting sucked up the chimney.

Better yet, seal up the damper – Because dampers warp over time, even when they’re closed, the fireplace may still be drafty. The Fireplace Draftstopper is an inflatable, tight-sealing chimney damper made from a rectangle of polyurethane that fits in the fireplace just below the damper level (not up inside the chimney). It can be easily removed before a fire is lit, then re-installed after the fireplace has cooled. It has been extensively tested for safety; in case you accidentally start a fire without first removing the Draftstopper, the product will melt, then drop down and smother the fire.

How to Improve the Energy Efficiency of Your Fireplace {The Dirt on Green}

Similarly, the Chimney Balloon, also known as a Chimney Pillow, is an inflatable tight-sealing chimney damper made of 3-ply poly plastic that stops uncontrolled air leaks. Install the inflatable chimney plug by holding it in place in the chimney while you inflate it with air. Before you start your next fire, open the tap on the handle to deflate it within seconds for easy removal. The inflation valve has a bright red card at its end that will hang down into the opening of the fireplace to help you remember that the Chimney Balloon is in place.

How to Improve the Energy Efficiency of Your Fireplace {The Dirt on Green}

Use dry wood – Dry wood burns much hotter than wood that is moist or wet. Plus, dry wood creates far less smoke than wood that contains a lot of moisture. If you’re buying wood, make sure it is seasoned rather than “green” and keep it covered to protect it from rain and snow. If you cut your own wood, give it enough time to dry out before you use it.

Burn hardwood – Hardwoods burn longer and hotter than soft woods. Ironwood, rock elm, hickory, oak, sugar maple, beech, yellow birch and ash are some hardwoods to consider. Softer, less desirable firewood includes balsam, spruce, basswood, pine, poplar, hemlock, red alder, white birch and Douglas fir.

How to Improve the Energy Efficiency of Your Fireplace {The Dirt on Green}

Remember that, whether you’re using a fireplace or a wood burning stove, it’s important to put safety first. Never leave a fire unattended, especially if curious children are about. Close the doors to the fireplace to reduce the likelihood that fiery logs will fall off the grate and into the room. Burning wood leaves a residue on the inside of the chimney that can build up and catch fire. As a general safety precaution, whether you have a fireplace or a wood burning stove, be sure to get a professional chimney sweep to clean out the creosote at least once a year.

About the Author:

Diane MacEachern

Diane MacEachern is a best-selling author, award-winning eco entrepreneur and the founder of Big Green Purse, where she writes the popular Big Green Purse blog. Diane also stays busy as a keynote speaker and her columns and articles have been published in the Washington Post, Huffington Post, Baltimore Sun and other notable publications and websites. Follow Diane on Twitter at @DianeMacEachern and on Facebook dianemaceachern1.

 

 

 

 

© 2014 Energy Earth LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Disclaimer: The views, opinions and positions expressed within this guest post are those of the author alone and do not represent those of EnergyEarth. The accuracy, completeness and validity of any statements made within this article are not guaranteed. We accept no liability for any errors, omissions or representations. The copyright of this content belongs to the author and any liability with regards to infringement of intellectual property rights remains with them. 

IDAPT Universal Charger Giveaway and Product Review

We’re giving away an IDAPT i1 Eco and an IDAPT i4+!

Simply like us on Facebook to enter to win the IDAPT i1 Eco. Then, refer a friend to our page to enter to win the IDAPT i4+!

Who is IDAPT?

IDAPT specializes in the design of practical, innovative solutions that simplify your everyday life. Paying great attention to quality and detail, IDAPT has designed and manufactured its product line in house since 2006. A winner of several major international awards, IDAPT has consistently designed beautiful, long lasting and user friendly products that allow you to maximize the use of all your electronic devices.

The designer of the first universal charger based on a system of interchangeable tips, IDAPT continuously strives to design simple, quality solutions that combine innovation and style.

IDAPT Universal Charger Giveaway and Product Review

The IDAPT i1 Eco is an eco-friendly, portable universal charger. It charges one or two devices simultaneously and features an interchangeable tip system compatible with more than 5000 devices. It can charge devices when connected to a power outlet, a USB port or a car cigarette lighter. The auto-off function powers off the charger when not in use or when charging is complete. It is made of recycled materials, is ENERGY STAR qualified and helps to minimize your carbon footprint at home or on the go!

IDAPT Universal Charger Giveaway and Product Review

The IDAPT i4+ is a unique charging solution that eliminates cable clutter and charges four devices simultaneously – as fast as the original manufacturer’s charger! IDAPT’s patented interchangeable tip system allows you to safely charge almost any combination of portable devices. It is compatible with past, current and future generations of more than 5000 devices. The i4+ combines style with simplified charging, and is perfect for your mobile lifestyle.

We love partnering with other companies who share our love of the latest energy efficient technology. Enter to win one of their great products today!

—The EnergyEarth Team

© 2014 Energy Earth LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Low flow shower heads are one of the easiest ways to save money in your home.  Water saving shower heads not only reduce water consumption, they can save you over $100 each year in related energy costs.

Showering is one of the main uses of water inside your home, comprising approximately 17% of annual residential indoor water use in the United States. That’s more than 1.2 trillion gallons of water consumed each year! The WaterSense program released its final specification for shower heads in 2010 to improve the nation’s water and energy efficiency by raising consumer awareness and promoting more efficient shower heads. The intent of this specification is to help Americans find products that have met EPA’s criteria for superior water efficiency and performance.

How Do Low Flow Shower Heads Use Less Water and Maintain Pressure? {The Dirt on Green}

Water Pik EcoFlow EcoRain Shower Head

But How Does a Low Flow Shower Feel? Is There Less Pressure?

The pressure is actually the same (typically 80 psi), so it will feel just as good as a high flow shower head!

How Do Low Flow Shower Heads Use Less Water and Maintain Pressure? {The Dirt on Green}

Niagara Chrome Earth Shower Head

How Does a Low Flow Shower Head Maintain Pressure and Use Less Water?

There are two types of low flow shower heads:

  • Aerating shower heads force air into the water stream, maintaining an even and steady flow.  The extra air may reduce the temperature slightly.
  • Smaller spray nozzle shower heads do not mix the water flow with air. As a result, the water pressure may feel like it is pulsing, creating a massaging effect. They also keep water hotter than aerating shower heads because the water stream is not cooled by aeration.
How Do Low Flow Shower Heads Use Less Water and Maintain Pressure? {The Dirt on Green}

Evolve ShowerStart Roadrunner Shower Head

It’s an Easy Switch That Will Immediately Save You Money!

Switching your showerhead is easy, just unscrew the old one and replace it with your new, low flow shower head, Simple as that.

How Do Low Flow Shower Heads Use Less Water and Maintain Pressure? {The Dirt on Green}

Just look at how much water you could save in a twelve minute shower!

You could save 2,900 gallons per year by installing WaterSense labeled showerheads. Since these water savings will reduce demands on water heaters, they will also save energy. In fact, the average family could save more than 370 kilowatt hours of electricity annually – that’s enough to power a house for 13 days!

If every home in the United States installed WaterSense labeled shower heads, we could save more than $2.2 billion in water utility bills and more than 260 billion gallons of water annually! On top of that, we could avoid about $2.6 billion in energy costs for heating water. Switch today – it just makes sense.
—The EnergyEarth Team

© 2014 Energy Earth LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Sources:

http://www.epa.gov/WaterSense/docs/showerheads_finalsuppstat508.pdf

http://www.epa.gov/WaterSense/products/showerheads.html

We love energy saving gadgets! Check out these 6 products that will save you big bucks that you might not have known about.

1.       Black and Decker Thermal Leak Detector

6 Energy Saving Products You Didn't Know About {The Dirt on Green}

Black & Decker’s Thermal Leak Detector is an easy tool to use and can help save a lot of money by reducing future utility bills. Discover where the energy leaks are in your home with ease: simply point the detector’s infrared light at a wall to establish the base temperature, and then move it along various surfaces to find hot and cold spots. When the measured surface temperature differs the light will change to red or blue to indicate a hot or cold area. You can set it for 1°, 5° or a 10° change to trigger a color change. This handy tool is extremely accurate as to where the spot is projected and the temperatures taken.

2.       Showertime Shower Timer

 

6 Energy Saving Products You Didn't Know About {The Dirt on Green}This simple shower timer device is great for kids and adults alike – the race against the clock is fun and keeps the focus on getting clean and getting out, instead of dawdling in the shower and wasting water.  The Showertime will gently remind you when it’s time to turn the shower off. To install, simply use either the suction cup or adhesive backing to attach it to the shower wall. When you get in the shower, press the Showertime and a blue LED turns on for 4½ minutes, followed by a red LED that will flash for 30 seconds as a convenient reminder of the amount of time that has elapsed. Saving water has never been easier!

3.       BITS Wireless Smart Strip Power Strip

6 Energy Saving Products You Didn't Know About {The Dirt on Green}

Control all your electronics with the press of a button with this all-in-one smart power strip. What truly sets this power strip apart from other smart strips is the fact that there is no control outlet. Instead, use either the included remote control or connect it to a USB port on your computer, television, or other master electronic and when you shut down, the power strip will automatically turn off all your other connected electronics for you. Connect up to four devices to be automatically controlled, while two always-on outlets stay on for devices that need continuous power. Keep track of the remote with the central dock, allowing you to place it on your desk or shelf, or mount it on the wall.

4.       Belkin Conserve Socket

6 Energy Saving Products You Didn't Know About {The Dirt on Green}

The Belkin Conserve Socket is perfect for keeping a lamp on while the kids go to sleep, charging gadgets and more. This handy little device eliminates wasted energy by shutting off power to all kinds of electronics or appliances, including rechargeable devices such as cell phones, cordless drills, as well as blow dryers, curling irons, fans, space heaters and many other items when you don’t need them. To turn the connected device on, simply press the button on the top of the Conserve Socket. The power timer will then automatically shut off power after a designated period of time, saving you energy and money. Set the timer easily to thirty minutes, three or six hours with the side toggle switch. Stopping vampire power has never been easier!

5.       Belkin Conserve Valet Charging Station

6 Energy Saving Products You Didn't Know About {The Dirt on Green}

Did you know that most chargers continue to use power as long as they’re plugged into the wall, even after you unplug your devices? This not only wastes energy, it’s bad for your device batteries. If you have priced replacement batteries for your devices you know they are very expensive, some even have to be sent in to change out the batteries, and that can cost $50 or more! The Belkin Conserve Valet Smart USB Charging Station charges all of your mobile devices in one convenient place, then automatically shuts off after everything is fully charged, saving your batteries and easily paying for itself in no time. It senses when new devices are added, so all your electronics will always get a full charge, even if they were plugged in at different times. The innovative design keeps cords neat and concealed, leaving you with a clear surface to charge up to 4 devices with USB cables at once.

6.       P3 Kill A Watt Edge

6 Energy Saving Products You Didn't Know About {The Dirt on Green}

The Kill A Watt Edge makes it easier than ever to pinpoint your energy consumption with its easy-to-use features. With all the measuring capabilities of its predecessors, plus a CO2 function so you can calculate your carbon footprint, this model is truly the best yet. Comparing consumption statistics is easy with the twin data display. The programmable motion sensor turns off connected devices when not in use, helping you save. After time, the Edge will learn your behaviors and tell you how much you have saved when your devices are really off. The convenient tether lets you easily view data without having to bend over or unplug the device.

—The EnergyEarth Team

© 2014 Energy Earth LLC. All Rights Reserved.

One of the Most Important Things We Don’t Understand

Long ago, the energy we used to do things like heat and cook came from locally sourced firewood. It was easy to gauge how much we needed and how much we had left. It was hard work to chop and haul that energy source, so folks probably didn’t keep putting wood on the fire when they didn’t need the heat. Now that obtaining energy in the form of electricity is as easy as flipping a switch, we don’t have much reason to think about where it comes from and how it’s made.

How is Electricity Generated? {The Dirt on Green}

According to the World Bank, all but about 1 billion of us have access to electricity. This doesn’t mean there are a billion people without a source of energy – it’s just not in the form of electricity. Those without access, and some with limited access, still rely solely on solid fuels like coal and wood for heating and cooking.

That leaves about 6 billion people, most of whom probably rely on electricity virtually every minute of every day. I recently asked a random assortment of ten people to explain how electricity is generated. The result? All but two of them hadn’t the faintest idea how burning coal, nuclear reactions or spinning wind turbines leads to the electricity that powers our lives. One of the reasons that electricity remains such a mystery is that we don’t need to think about it.

How Much Do We Use?

Six billion people use a lot of electricity. Together, we required the production of over 22,000 terawatt hours (TWh) of electricity in 2011. Tera-what? The metric prefix ‘tera’ indicates a trillion of something. For perspective, it would take just 1 TWh of electricity to light 10 billion 100W light bulbs for an hour.

How is Electricity Generated? {The Dirt on Green}

With a population of a bit over 300 million, Americans comprise 4.45% of the world’s population (US Census Bureau data), yet we consumed 21.5% of the electricity generated worldwide. In 2011, more than half of our electricity came from coal (42%) and natural gas (25%) combustion combined. Especially in the US, the contribution of natural gas is on the rise, bucking the predicted price increase and remaining competitive with coal.

Compared to the world breakdown of fuels, we’re not that far off, except that hydropower comprises a greater proportion of global electricity production (15.8%) than it does in the US (just a few percent).

I’m a Little Teapot, Short and Stout

More than 80% of the world’s electricity is generated through thermal generating systems. Fuels like coal, natural gas, oil and even biomass (like wood and animal waste) are burned in large furnaces. The resulting heat is used to boil water.

The steam travels through boiler pipes where the pressure and speed turns the blades of a turbine. That mechanical energy is converted into electrical energy inside the generator because of the relative rotation between magnets and an electrical conductor.  The resultant electricity is run through transformers before beginning its journey along the electrical grid.

How is Electricity Generated? {The Dirt on Green}

Nuclear power is a mystery to many people, but in simplest terms, nuclear electricity generation is just another way to boil water. When radioactive materials like

Uranium-235 are bombarded with neutrons they split apart in a process called fission. This process releases a tremendous amount of energy in the form of heat. After that, it is the same as burning fossil fuels: the heat boils water, the water turns to steam and steam turns a turbine which is attached to a generator. Voila, electricity! Interestingly, December 10th marked the end of a 20 year program called “Megatons to Megawatts” whereby the United States purchased the uranium from 20,000 retired Russian warheads and processed it for use in power plants. Since 1993, 10% of our electricity supply has come from this material. That’s more than all alternative energy sources combined. Even though we’ve received our last shipment, the uranium from those warheads will be providing Americans with electricity even after 2020.

How is Electricity Generated? {The Dirt on Green}

It is worth noting that a technology called solar thermal electric generation has begun to have an impact on US markets in the past few years. Clustered in the US Southwest, these facilities use various methods to focus the sun’s energy to boil water which generates electricity as described above. Though this technology still occupies a very small share of the market, a recent report by the US Energy Information Administration reports that several new large installations are about to double the electricity generating capacity of this method.

Mother Nature Turns the Turbine

Humans have been using the sun, water and wind as energy sources since the beginning of time, yet they comprise what we call alternative energy. To generate electricity, wind and water turn the turbine directly, skipping the energy-losing step of boiling water, and the rest of the process is the same.

The immense natural power of water can be used to turn a turbine through a variety of methods including channeling through dams, submerging the turbine in an area with predictable tides, using the pressure created by ocean waves, and even small turbines submerged in minimally disturbed rivers and waterfalls. Hydropower is not without problems but continues to comprise a large portion of the renewable energy sector.

Wind power continues to be a rapidly growing source of renewable energy throughout the world. Detailed wind maps are constructed to find locations with adequate non turbulent wind without too many powerful bursts. Installations can be found on mountain ridges, plains, coastlines, and in coastal ocean waters. Wind power is not without controversy. Just last month amidst great controversy, the Federal Register published a decision designed to promote the development of wind power but may lead to an increase in the deaths of golden and bald eagles.

How is Electricity Generated? {The Dirt on Green}

Geothermal electricity generation is another example of using nature to turn that turbine. The United States led the world in geothermal electricity generation last year, providing us with four times as much electricity as solar based methods. These plants use the steam that is produced from heat that occurs naturally a few miles beneath the Earth’s surface in some places.

Photovoltaic cells, what most of us think of as solar power, are unique in that there is no steam or turbine. The special materials used in photovoltaic cells are called semiconductors. When sunlight strikes certain semiconductor materials (e.g., silicon) photons are absorbed and electrons are released. We can then channel these electrons into an electrical current. Materials that do not exhibit this photovoltaic effect just absorb the photons and heat up when struck by sunlight. Technological advancements in semiconductor materials that can be applied in thin layers and still efficiently turn photons into electricity are progressing so rapidly that the IEA predicts photovoltaics will grow more than 11.5% a year through 2040.

The Most Efficient Solution

The energy mix that powers your home with electricity depends on where you live and your utility company. For instance, power companies serving California, Oregon and Washington generate more of their electricity using hydropower than any other single source. In contrast, the primary source for the south atlantic states is coal. As consumers we don’t have much control over our electricity sources, but Amory Lovins, physicist and energy expert, called energy efficiency the world’s biggest untapped energy resource. By using less energy to perform the same task, we are not sacrificing comfort or convenience, simply using less electricity. The justification begins with the money you can save and has far reaching implications. Switching to energy efficient products is easy and EnergyEarth is here to help.

Dawn Richards of EnergyEarth

© 2014 Energy Earth LLC. All Rights Reserved

Sources:

http://www.iea.org/publications/freepublications/publication/KeyWorld2013.pdf

http://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.cfm?id=13791

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/15/business/international/last-shipment-of-nuclear-fuel-from-russian-bombs-heads-to-us.html?_r=0

http://phys.org/news/2013-12-solar-power-sector-small.html#jCp

http://energycommerce.house.gov/press-release/subcommittee-examines-role-diverse-electricity-generation-portfolio

http://keshefoundation.org/image/keshe_generator/Electricity_Production_400.jpg

Deciding on resolutions can be hard, but sticking to them can be even harder. Make resolutions that you can actually keep this year by pledging to go green with these 5 easy ideas to help you save all year long!

1. Switch Your Light Bulb

5 Easy Energy Saving New Year’s Resolutions

Replacing your light bulbs with energy efficient LEDs and CFLs is an easy change. Despite all the jokes, it takes only one person to change a light bulb — and since LEDs and CFLs last significantly longer (up to 50 times longer!) than traditional bulbs, you’ll be saving time for years down the road while drastically cutting your energy use. Order your bulbs from us and we’ll deliver them straight to your front door.

2. Eliminate Vampire Power

5 Easy Energy Saving New Year’s Resolutions

Use energy saving power strips to turn off all your electronics at once! Put your entire entertainment system or home office on a smart power strip and they’ll automatically shut off when not in use with just one click. You could cut your energy bill by around 10% — without lifting a finger!1.       Reduce Water Usage

3.       Reduce Water Usage

5 Easy Energy Saving New Year’s Resolutions

Using a water efficient shower head can save you money in more ways than one. They’re inexpensive, easy to install, and can save you up to 750 gallons a month. On top of that, they’ll save you around $120 each year in related energy costs! Smart, easy and it only takes about 5 minutes: just unscrew the old one and replace it with your new, money saving model.

4.       Weatherize Your Home

5 Easy Energy Saving New Year’s Resolutions

Keeping an airtight house is important to saving money throughout the year. Maximize your heating and cooling system by sealing cracks with caulk and foam sealant and weather stripping to stop air leaks, eliminate energy loss and prevent damage from water leaks and pest infiltration. Plus, you’ll reduce outside noise inside your home just by sealing those pesky cracks and gaps that let that noise inside.

5.       Go Eco Outside

5 Easy Energy Saving New Year’s Resolutions

There are a lot of benefits to owning a rain barrel. For one, rainwater is a relatively clean and absolutely free source of water! Why not put it to good use? Rainwater is better for lawns, gives you greater control over your water supply, can reduce area erosion and provides an excellent backup source of water in case of an emergency, just to name a few.

—The EnergyEarth Team

© 2014 Energy Earth LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Savings calculations are easily found on the packages of many items, including light bulbs, appliances and many others. For example, this FEIT bulbadvertises a savings value, but how accurate are these calculations? Manufacturers make assumptions about how much your electricity costs and how many hours a day you use your light fixture. They often use national averages, but often there’s no way to tell where they are getting their numbers.

All About Our Custom Savings Calculations! {The Dirt on Green}

At EnergyEarth, we also provide you with savings calculations, but we give you the option to fully customize your savings to ensure you know exactly how much you’ll save. We want to enable you to purchase the products that are exactly right for you, not just approximately.  Even if you don’t want to plug in your own numbers, you can rest assured that our numbers are based on reliable sources with the most current data available.

So what goes into our custom calculations? Some of the simplest calculations are for lighting. Let’s look again at the FEIT Dimmable LED bulb. From the product page, if you click on Custom Savings / Learn More you will see just how easy it is to input your own numbers.  Include as much or as little detail as you’d like, just keep in mind that the more information you put into the calculations, the more accurate your results will be.

All About Our Custom Savings Calculations! {The Dirt on Green}

For lighting, just adjust the number of hours that you expect to use the light and how much your electricity costs – simple as that.

All About Our Custom Savings Calculations! {The Dirt on Green}

At the bottom of the page you can check out the math that happens behind the scenes to arrive at the savings figures. There is no other tool on the internet that allows you to personalize your savings to this extent!

Some products require much more complex calculations; for example, these simple AM foam outlet gaskets that cost just ten cents each. These calculations must consider everything from the region where you live, to the size of your house and the number of outlets on exterior walls. We have included conservative estimates for all of the variables and with just a few clicks you can customize any or all of them.

All About Our Custom Savings Calculations! {The Dirt on Green}

Adjust the custom savings on a showerhead like the Bronze 3 Function Showerhead and you can see that if you shower for 10 minutes a day, you’ll save $368 over the life of the product! Check out the custom savings calculations to see how much you can save in your home today.

At EnergyEarth, we do our best to empower you to make the best decisions about how to invest your energy savings dollars on every product you purchase from us.

—The EnergyEarth Team

© 2013 Energy Earth LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Does Green Need to Cost More?

December 3rd, 2013 | Posted by EnergyEarth in Green Tips - (0 Comments)

Does Green Need to Cost More? {The Dirt on Green}

No, It Doesn’t.

Too often going green is thought of as a choice made by only hippies or the wealthy. The good news is that going green doesn’t mean you have to drive a hybrid car or shop at a fancy health food store in your organic cotton, fair trade Recycle or Bust! t-shirt.

Think for a moment about the original green advocates: your grandparents or great grandparents. Living in the shadow of the Great Depression, they were incredibly frugal – which coincided perfectly with green.  So many of the things they did to save water, electricity and money make great lessons for us today.

Change a Few Habits and Think Long Term

The key is to recycle, reuse, upcycle and reduce waste in every area of your life – not just your plastic bottles and junk mail. There are plenty of free and inexpensive ways to go green all around you.

Does Green Need to Cost More? {The Dirt on Green}

Save: Water

The least expensive way to reduce water consumption is through better habits!

–          Don’t let it run!

–          Stop leaks

–          Don’t over water gardens and lawns

–          Use less hot water

–          Find out where your water comes from

A small investment in a few simple devices will save you in the long term.

–          Faucet aerators

–          Low flow shower heads

–          Rain barrels (see our previous article about how much they can save you!)

Does Green Need to Cost More? {The Dirt on Green}

Save: Electricity

The best way to use less electricity is by changing your habits!

–          Turn off your lights when they’re not in use

–          Turn off devices when not in use

–          Adjust your thermostat

Plus, get a few helpful devices. A small investment upfront will save you in the long term.

–          Motion control light switches

–          Energy efficient lighting

–          Smart power switches

–          Improve insulation

–          Programmable thermostats

Does Green Need to Cost More? {The Dirt on Green}

Save: Upcycling

–          Reuse old clothes

–          Find new purposes for forgotten items

–          Donate unwanted items to a local charity

Does Green Need to Cost More? {The Dirt on Green}

Save: Real Estate

Green building doesn’t need to cost more.

–          Going green actually increases real estate value

–          ENERGY STAR® certification can increase your home’s market value

Does Green Need to Cost More? {The Dirt on Green}

More Ways to Save

–          Grow some of your own food

–          Hang dry your clothes

–          Make your own green cleaning products

–          Drink your tap water instead of buying bottles

–          Increase your fuel efficiency

What’s your favorite way to save? Tell us in the comments!

—The EnergyEarth Team

© 2013 Energy Earth LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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