Energy Savers

January 4, 2013

Switch: To a Smarter Energy Future [Documentary]

We all know that something has to be done to meet our energy needs. There are many alternatives and many campaigns selling us on which one is cleanest and best. There is much confusion and delusion.

Switch: To a Smarter Energy Future is a documentary, as well as an energy project website, that makes energy information accessible to anyone. You don't need a scientist to understand and explore our options.

Every energy resource -- fossil, nuclear and renewable -- is undergoing profound changes. And overall, we're gradually shifting from coal and oil to the energies of tomorrow.

This sweeping transition is the subject of Switch. But rather than advocate for how it should happen, Switch travels the world to discover how it most likely will happen.
Switch is also about a changing energy conversation. Today, it's polarized and unproductive. Switch focuses on practical realities and encourages a balanced understanding.

Finally, Switch is about changing the way we use energy, to realize the many economic and environmental benefits of efficiency...

In 2009, documentary filmmaker Harry Lynch and geologist Dr. Scott Tinker set out to make a film on our energy transition. The goal was not to advocate for one technology over another, not to suggest how the transition should happen -- but to try to determine how it actually would happen, based on scientifically-sound investigation and the practical realities of the world of energy as we discovered them. The result, is Switch.

This movie and website are very educational!  It helps form and solidify opinions letting you make a choice as by trying to be unbiased in its presentation.

disclosure: The products described above were sent to us as free samples. Prior assurances as to the nature of the reviews, whether positive or negative, were not given. No financial payments were accepted in exchange for the reviews. The reviews reflect our honest, authentic opinions.

Jennifer Lance at Permalink social bookmarking

October 30, 2012

Cool Planet: Renewable gasoline at $1.50 per gallon

Green Car Congress explains:

Cool Planet's biofuel has already been successfully tested internally at its headquarters in Camarillo, CA and through a field trial by Google Inc. at their Mountain View, CA headquarters, with an OnDemand campus vehicle, known as GRide, which has operated seamlessly using this fuel for more than 2,400 miles.

By running on a 5% Cool Planet carbon negative fuel blended with 95% regular gasoline, the test car blend met California's 2020 Low Carbon Fuel Standard--eight years ahead of schedule. The control car used 100% regular gasoline. The test car successfully passed 5 smog checks with no significant difference between cars. The total mileage of the test car was virtually the same as the control car, driving a total of 2,490 stop & go miles in the test car compared with 2,514 miles in the control car. Additionally, both the test car and the control car were virtually identical in emissions testing.

Jennifer Lance at Permalink social bookmarking

April 20, 2012

Green Laundry: Wooly Rounds Reduce Dryer Time by 10-25%

Screen shot 2012-04-20 at 8.46.41 AM.png
Although I should always air dry my clothing, I don't. It is about convenience and softness. Fortunately, there are ways to save energy and minimize this green sin of mine.

Wooly Rounds are felted wool balls. The idea is really quite simple and brilliant:

A wool dryer ball is a felted ball of wool that you use in your clothes dryer to help separate your clothes. Having several in your dryer creates a constant motion that allows for more air to circulate around your wet laundry so your clothes will dry faster. The more dryer balls you use, the less time it takes to dry a load and you can reduce your dry time by 10 -25%.

Wool is used because of its incredible properties including the ability to:

    • help reduce static - wool fibers can absorb static cling

    • naturally soften clothes due to the friction of the balls against the fabric

    • makes clothes fresher and smell cleaner - since wool has the ability to absorb toxins and odors

I think Wooly Rounds are great! Plus, they are handmade in Maine.

 I've never been a fan of dryer sheets. Can't stand the smell. 

Wooly Rounds are great because they reduce drying time thus allowing me to continue to use my dryer with less guilt.

Disclosure: I was sent free samples of these products to review. No prior assurances were given as to whether the review would be positive or negative.

Jennifer Lance at Permalink social bookmarking

April 16, 2012

DewStop Saves Energy and Prevent Mildew by Automatically Turn on the Your Bathroom Fan

Although I personally love breathing in the condensation that builds up in the bathroom, it is not so good for your home's longevity. Bathroom fans help, but they are often left on long after needed wasting precious electricity.

DewStop FS-100 Condensation Control Sentry Fan Switch automatically turns your fan on and off at precisely the right moments.

Save on Energy and Maintenance Costs
Using an exhaust fan to rid a bathroom of humidity can be a tricky balancing act. Turn it off too soon, and you may leave behind damaging moisture. Leave it on too long, and you waste energy by sending heated or cooled air outside unnecessarily. Because the DewStop only comes on when needed and stops after 30 minutes, it helps you save on home maintenance and energy costs.

Make Your Fan a Smart Fan
With the DewStop Condensation Sentry Fan Switch, you can transform your bathroom from ordinary to intelligent. This clever switch features a "Condensation Sentry", which constantly monitor's temperature, humidity, and dew point to determine a room's condensation level. If the sensor detects rising condensation levels, it will automatically turn on your fan and keep it on until the condensation is no longer a concern and your room is dry.

We don't have the right sort of wall plate to use this kind of switch, so I wasn't able to install it.  Some reviewers on Amazon rave about this product, and some say it does not work.

Disclosure: I was sent free samples of these products to review. No prior assurances were given as to whether the review would be positive or negative.

Jennifer Lance at Permalink social bookmarking

April 10, 2012

GreenZero Chargers Automatically Shut Off When iPhone Battery is Full

We never seem to have enough chargers for our Apple devices. iPhones, iPods,and an iPad are always competing for a spot on the charger. Even though these devices come with chargers, there always seems to be the need for an extra one.

Bracketron makes a cool Mushroom GreenZero Wall Travel Charger that automatically turns off when your battery is full eliminating the dreaded phantom charge.

Quick Overview

  • Unique design features one-click charging

  • Automatically shuts off with zero idle power when device is fully charged

  • Portable design to take with you and charge on the go

  • Included cord winder for tangle-free cable storage and transport

  • Apple 30-Pin versions

Product Description
The Mushroom GreenZero Wall Travel Charger features our exclusive GreenZero Technology -- the most eco-friendly way to charge mobile devices while totally eliminating the wasteful stand-by consumption (Zero idle power) that other chargers consume when left plugged in.

This is a very cool charger and very much needed in our home. Living-off-the-grid makes phantom charges a reality that most people don't consider. Those extra watts add up!

Disclosure: I was sent free samples of these products to review. No prior assurances were given as to whether the review would be positive or negative.
Jennifer Lance at Permalink social bookmarking

September 15, 2011

LED Bulbs Suppress Melatonin 5 Times More Than Other Bulbs

Humans are meant to sleep in darkness. Nighttime lighting has been shown to increase the risks of cancer and exacerbate air pollution; however, most significantly for overall human health, it affects our rest. According to a new study, LED lights suppress melatonin levels. Green Prophet reports:

Exposure to the light of white LED bulbs, it turns out, suppresses melatonin five times more than exposure to the outdoor lights filled with high pressure sodium bulbs that give off an orange-yellow light. "Just as there are regulations and standards for 'classic' pollutants, there should also be regulations and rules for the pollution stemming from artificial light at night," says Prof. Abraham Haim of the University of Haifa who is following the effects of cancer and artificial lights at night.

Melatonin is a compound that adjusts our biological clock and is known for its anti-oxidant and anti-cancerous properties. The study investigated the influence of different types of bulbs on "light pollution" and the suppression of melatonin, with the researchers recommending several steps that should be taken to balance the need to save energy and protecting public health.

Although LEDs are better for the environment due to lower energy usage, "over-lighting" with any kind of bulb should be avoided to protect human health.

Jennifer Lance at Permalink social bookmarking

August 2, 2011

Flat Screen TV Energy Consumption Declines 60%!

Three years ago, we reported on how the trend towards flat screen TVs were harming our environment. Now there's some good news when it comes to television watching. Flat screen TVs are more efficient and impressively reducing energy consumption. EcoFriend reports:

Basing it on a data compiled on 1800 models of TV sets, Sust-it, the UK energy efficiency site, reports that energy usage in flat screen TV sets has shown an impressive 60 percent decline since 2006. Ross Llamas, the founder of Sust-it, says this improvement is from the use of LEDs to backlight the TV. LCD panel TVs have largely replaced Plasma displays that look to be on the verge of being phased out. The Sust-it study is confirmed by the magazine Which?. The editor, Martin Hocking says that his own studies show a 40-inch flat screen TV, that consumed 300 watts 3 years ago, now consumes only 70 watts. Since 2009, LED TVs have taken a 20 percent share of the 9.5 million UK flat TV market. As LED TVs consume less power than LCDs, the change to LEDs is good for reduced power consumption.

Photo:  Attribution Some rights reserved by AngryJulieMonday
Jennifer Lance at Permalink social bookmarking

December 7, 2010

Save Energy: Use Your Convection Oven

Chances are if you own a newer oven, it has a convection feature. Chances are, if you are like me, you don't know how to use it, or never have.

Last week, I was cooking a pumpkin to make curry soup. The pumpkin had been in the oven for a really long time, and it was getting late. I decided to try convection.

Wikipedia explains:

By moving fast hot air past the food, convection ovens can operate at a lower temperature than a standard conventional oven and yet cook food more quickly. The air circulation, or convection, tends to eliminate "hot spots" and thus food may bake more evenly.

A convection oven will have a reduction in cooking temperature, compared to a conventional oven.

Although cooking times will vary depending on the how full the oven is, general, you can lower your cooking temperature by 25 degrees and reduce time by 15 minutes when cooking with convection. There's even an online convection calculator to help.

Once I switched to convection cooking with my pumpkin, the flesh cooked up much faster and dinner was on time. I have become a convection convert.

Jennifer Lance at Permalink social bookmarking

November 18, 2010

Chevy Volt Named 2011 Green Car of the Year

We haven't even rung in the New Year yet, but Chevrolet's plug-in hybrid Volt has already won the Green Car of the Year award for 2011. The Chevy Volt hasn't even hit the streets, but Green Car Journal felt it deserved the award. Daily Finance reports:

The Volt beat out the Nissan (NSANY) Leaf battery electric vehicle, Ford's (F) Lincoln MKZ Hybrid, Hyundai's (HYMLY) Sonata Hybrid and the gas powered Ford Fiesta, Green Car Journal said Thursday at the Los Angeles Auto Show. The Volt and Leaf had been considered the two favorites for the award.


The accolade added to what has already been a good week for General Motors, which emerged from bankruptcy last year and went public again this week. GM, which raised its common-stock price range and expanded its IPO earlier this week, priced shares Wednesday at $33 a share, the high end of GM's range, and opened Thursday trading at $35.

Photo:  Attribution Some rights reserved by JMRosenfeld

Jennifer Lance at Permalink social bookmarking

April 6, 2010

Hyrbid Sales Fall in Comparison to Light Vehicles in March 2010

prius 2010.jpg

With gas prices remaining somewhat steady during the Obama administration, consumers are not rushing out to buy hybrids. Autobloggreen explains:

The numbers are in for Mach sales and hybrids have fared well compared to last year. Hybrid automakers can't heave a sigh of relief quite yet, because sales have fallen short of the overall industry rise compared to a year ago. The numbers show that hybrid sales are up 18 percent from last March, while light vehicle sales rose 25 percent. Hybrid sales were also below expectations. It's likely that strong incentives for traditional cars and a rebounding economy drove buyers towards conventionally powered vehicles.

The Toyota Prius, despite recall issues by the automaker, still remains the golden child of the hybrid market dominating 53 percent of sales. The Honda Insight is also very popular tripling their sales from one year ago.

Jennifer Lance at Permalink social bookmarking

February 16, 2010

LED vs. LCD: Save Energy with a LED TV

I live off-the-grid. A couple years ago, we purchased a Sony LCD television, and we were shocked to see the amount of power this TV actually used. It wasn't a huge set, but it did pull a lot of juice out of our batteries. When we had the opportunity to try a LED TV, we wanted to see if it actually did use less power.

We tested out a VIZIO TruLED. According to the manufacturer:

VIZIO's Eco HD models exceed the current Energy Star guidelines by 56% below Energy Star 3.0, which saves you money on your utility bills while limiting the impact on our planet.

In addition to the fact that LED HDTVs are more efficient than standard LCDs, the display's LED backlights do not utilize mercury, an environmentally harmful substance used in other backlights.

Some reviewers on Amazon have complained about the sound on the Vizio, and straight out of the box, I couldn't agree more. There was a strange sort of buzz and the volume needed to be cranked up for watching. The Vizio came set to "flat" in the audio settings. Switching this to "rock" fixed the problem.
Even thought this TV is larger than our TV, we noticed it uses less power. Obviously, that's a good thing for all consumers, not just those making their own power like we are. In fact, earlier this year California looked at regulating energy consumption of TVs.  LED TVs appear to be the solution, but I am not sure it warrants buying a new TV.  All of the energy and resources used in manufacturing a new set may not be offset by the energy savings.
Jennifer Lance at Permalink social bookmarking

June 15, 2009

Solar and Hand Cranked Radio Perfect for Camping and Emergencies

kikkerland-solar-radio.jpg This little alternative energy radio is only about 3 x 2.2 x 3.2 inches! Powered by either a solar panel or hand cranking a dynamo, you don't have to go without tunes when the power goes out or you are off in the woods camping with the Kikkerland Dynamo Solar and Crank Emergency Radio. When cranking the dynamo when solar energy is not available, this radio is quite efficient with one minute of human power producing half an hour of tunes. Also, it also won't break the bank at a price of about $30.

Via: Gizmodo

Jennifer Lance at Permalink social bookmarking

February 11, 2009

Jump Start to Green: Save a Little. Save a Lot. Save the Planet.

kit2.jpg Jump Start to Green is a kit that makes saving the planet easy and effective. The kit contains products and tools that save energy, paper, and water. It includes a "Guide to Green" that helps people track their use of resources. The kit comes with: The Dry-Erase Tracker helps families see the small changes they make are having an impact.  The Guide to Green tells you how much you will save with each action and the impact it will have on the planet, thus allowing families to prioritize which actions to take. For example, if you take shorter showers (reducing shower time from eight minutes to five minutes), you will save $223 annually. If this simple action was taken by 1 out of 10 Americans, it would be the equivalent of taking 90,000 cars off the road each year!
Jennifer Lance at Permalink social bookmarking

November 19, 2008

Simple Ideas to Reduce Energy Consumption: Thermal Curtains by Eclipse

eclipse curtain.jpg A lot of heat or cool air is lost through the windows in a home. Once simple solution to this problem is to install thermal curtains. Eclipse makes curtains that block out 99% of light, which helps you sleep better, and the curtains reduce window-related energy loss by 75%. It is much cheaper to use a thermal curtain than to replace windows in a home, and they can help reduce the increase in home heating costs predicted for this winter.

The only drawback to Eclipse curtains is they are made from polyester fabric. I am not a fan of synthetic fibers, whether for the environment or my own personal aesthetic. As a final project in an alternative energy class I took in college, I made thermal curtains from felted wool. I would like to see commercially made thermal curtains made from natural fibers.

Jennifer Lance at Permalink social bookmarking

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