How Much Do CFL And LED Bulbs Cost Compared To Incandescent?

An interesting infographic, though produced by someone selling lights and bulbs. Still, it provides good facts and figures:

True Cost of Lighting – To see the info-graphic enlarged click here to go to Lamps.com.

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Electricity-Generating Gyms Arrive In Portland, Oregon

How are your new year’s fitness resolutions going? If one of your goals involves becoming a more regular gym user, then here’s a gym with a difference! The Green Microgym, launched in Portland, Oregon, has been designed to help improve your personal health and fitness, as well as making a positive impact on the environment.

The Green Micro-gym is a world-first – with special machines which are designed to harness the energy generated through a person’s workout, and then use it to provide the electricity needed to run the gym. Based on the principle of conserving and using energy and efficiently and effectively as possible, the Green Micro-gym is committed to ensuring that nobody’s workout goes to waste.

Powering your workout

Many gyms compete to have state-of-the-art equipment, digital technology, music and entertainment which aim to set them apart from the competition. The Green Microgym is also committed to state-of-the-art equipment – which not only allows patrons to enjoy their workout – but actually helps them to power it too.

The machines at the gym are specially designed to harvest the energy generated through aerobic and anaerobic exercise, and returning it to the gym’s own electricity grid, thereby powering the building. One gym user’s cycle is powering the lights while another gym user’s run is powering the TV’s or music. Everybody at the gym is in it together – working hard to improve their personal fitness whilst also investing their energy in keeping their gym running too.

Making your workout count

The Green Microgym’s statistics are impressive. During 2009, the gym managed to generate 36% of its own electricity, using both human and solar power. It also managed to save over 37,000 Kilowatt hours, which translates into over 81,000 miles not driven or 15 acres of newly planted trees. It’s hard to dispute a business model which uses its customers to drive down costs, reducing electricity, water and heating bills while helping everyone feel better about themselves and the planet.

And of course the gym’s ethical credentials go beyond generating energy to also encourage energy efficiency and green behavior from staff and customers alike. This includes:

• Member-controlled lights, fans and other appliances which are only switched on when required
• Re-usable water bottles
• Eco-friendly cleaning supplies, detergents and soaps
• Recycled paper products
• Solar panels on the building to generate additional energy

The best news of all is that The Green Microgym is now offering franchises across 30 states in the US, demonstrating the success of this eco-friendly approach to exercise. Founder Adam Boesel remains absolutely committed to creating community-powered gyms in towns and cities throughout the country, and has even considered ways of harnessing the energy delivered through Green Microgym workouts and connecting it to the national grid.

As the Green Microgym website explains:

‘You power your gym. Friends and neighbors sweating it out together, all in the name of feeling good. About themselves, about their community, about their gym and about the world.’

Now who can argue with that?

DIY Home Energy Assessment

If you’re committed to reducing your carbon footprint, then the best place to start is in your home. By reviewing and becoming more aware of your energy consumption, you can begin to change your behavior and make smarter choices which will reduce your energy bills and improve energy efficiency in your home.

It’s easy to conduct a do-it-yourself energy audit, following some basic steps to identify ways to improve energy efficiency. Once you’ve completed your audit, you’ll be in a position to make the necessary changes to reduce your carbon footprint and upgrade your property and appliances to improve energy efficiency.


Five step energy audit

Below is a simple five-step energy audit, to help you conduct your very own home energy audit.

Step 1 – Establish a baseline
The first step involves getting to know your utility bills. Just how much energy are you consuming? And how much are your monthly or quarterly bills? How does your energy consumption differ throughout the year? This information is vital – as it helps you to understand what’s happening in your home right now – and also allows you to track future changes and improvements in energy efficiency, once your audit is complete.

Step 2 – Stop the air escaping!
The next step involves working out if you have any parts of the house where energy may be escaping. If you regularly use heating or cooling systems, it’s possible that your heated or cooled air is escaping through doors, window frames, attic hatches, floorboards, fireplaces, walls and ceilings. Inspect your property thoroughly – incense sticks will show any areas where air is getting in or escaping. Once you’ve noted the problem areas, find the appropriate sealant products to block up the problem areas and reduce energy wastage.

Step 3 – Insulate!
It’s important to ensure that your home is adequately insulated. If you live in an older property, your current insulation products are unlikely to provide the level of insulation required to maximize your energy efficiency. Check levels of insulation in your loft and basement (if you have one). You should also determine whether your home has cavity wall insulation – another way to prevent energy leakage. Your pipes should also be properly insulated to prevent freezing during the winter.

Step 4 – Heating and cooling equipment
It is important to ensure that all heating and cooling equipment in your home is regularly serviced to ensure that it is operating efficiently. If your heating or cooling systems are more than 15 years old, it’s probably worth considering a full upgrade to a more energy-efficient model. Be sure to arrange an annual inspection from a professional – this also helps to ensure that any potential insurance claims can be validated.

Step 5 – Review your home appliances
The ‘Kill A Watt’ home appliance testing kit is a great way to review the individual appliances in your home in order to fully understand the different levels of energy consumption. Simply plug the testing kit into the appliance you wish to review and the Kill A Watt provides detailed information on energy use and how much it costs to run each appliance. In the case of your fridge and freezer, you may simply decide to turn the temperature dial down a notch or two, or defrost them to improve their efficiency. With other appliances, you may decide to proceed with an upgrade, or decrease the frequency of use.

This five step approach will help to get you started on the road to a more energy and cost-efficient home. Good luck!

Preparing Your Home For Winter

As we drift into December there can be no doubt that winter is coming – well in this country anyway. So you’re going to put the heating on and use a lot of electricity and/or gas. But there are things you can do to minimise your energy use and I’m not just talking about insulation. Here are a few ideas to keep you cosy this winter.

Ecoflap
An Ecoflap is something to stop cold air getting in you home through your letterbox. It goes on the inside of your door so doesn’t change the way it looks from the outside and it actually uses any draught or wind to keep it closed so no chilly air should get through.

Ecoflap

Chimney pillow
A chimney pillow or chimney balloon is basically a bag that you inflate and place up the chimney to stop cold draughts coming down. It does allow a little air through and can also be bought with a tube to inflate it while it’s up the chimney to get the best fit.

Radiator booster

Draught excluder
Does what it says on the tin this. A draught excluder goes under a door to stop cold air coming through it underneath. It also works the opposite way by stopping warm air leaking out of the room you’re in.

Radiator booster
A radiator booster uses a small fan to better distribute the heat from a radiator into the room you’re in – meaning you don’t have to have it turned up so high. By stopping heat dissipating through the wall behind the radiator it means the room will warm up quicker too – saving you money and energy.

Energy Saving Monitors Become Affordable

I’ve always been interesting in getting an energy saving monitor, well okay I’ve wanted a Wattson, but have always been put off by the price tag.

But now there are some more affordable versions, take a look a Nigel’s Eco Store for some examples but now some big players are getting onboard – check out Google’s PowerMeter.

Belkin Conserve Insight

And now you can get one under $30. Made by Belkin, the Conserve Insight can monitor the electricity usage of any device with a plug. It converts that figure into what it really costs each year in terms of watts, dollars and carbon dioxide. It’s also a good-looking little thing.

It’s available from Amazon.com for $29.99.

GE Show Covers Electric Vehicles

General Electric have launched a new interactive program called “The GE Show” which covers various technology and energy related things. Ones episode is focused on the future of electric vehicles.

Not just an episode but there are other interactive features such as the “Rollout Reality” widget, which calculates some eye-opening EV stats from our past, present and future and the “So Near, So Far” range calculator for EV drivers, and the educational “Electric Avenue” online game.

Check out all the the video and tools here.

Some interesting facts from the show:
“- Electric cars aren’t just part of the future – they’re part of the past as well. 35% of our cars were electric-powered in the early 1900’s, but were not widely adopted due to limited range and a lack of powering infrastructure.

– Most people don’t know that many electric vehicles can handle their daily mileage easily. The average American drives 32.88 miles per day. The Nissan Leaf, for example, can go 100 miles in a single charge.

– Projections show that there will almost be 14 million electric vehicles on the road in just 10 years.

– For every mile, an EV owner only pays less than 2.5 cents per mile (as opposed to 10 cents per gas-powered mile).

– If the estimates of 14 million EVs on the road by 2020 are accurate, it would mean close to 65 million tons fewer emissions.”

Creating Your Own Energy

Green energy technologies, such as solar panels, wind turbines and ground source heat pumps, are becoming more and more popular as people realize the benefits of generating their own forms of fuel to power their homes. These sources of renewable energy are outstanding when it comes to creating green, environmentally-friendly fuel, but they can unfortunately be quite expensive to set up in the first place. Many people still feel that renewable sources of energy are too expensive to even consider, but there are ways to get back the initial investment if you choose your sources wisely.

Using solar energy to power your home

Solar power is one of our most magical sources of renewable fuel. Solar power is generated when photovoltaic (PV) cells convert sunlight into electricity, and there are a wide range of options for people looking to generate power from the sun. The different systems for solar power come in all shapes and sizes, so it’s worth doing some research to find out what the best and most economical option may be for you and your home. A typical system can save around 1.2 tons of carbon dioxide per year.

Solar thermal systems

In a similar way to solar power, solar thermal systems use energy from the sun to heat water, which is then pumped into your hot water cylinder or boiler. They’re much easier to install and cheaper than PV systems, and can bring you a much quicker return on your investment because of this. A good solar water system is able to power around half of your hot water needs, and can reduce your carbon emissions by around 325kg.

With some solar systems, power providers may even offer to purchase back some of the electricity that you generate if you don’t need it, adding to the economy overall.

Wind power

Wind turbines are used to convert wind in to electricity and can either be installed as a freestanding system or mounted on the roof of your house. The electricity which is generated by a turbine can be stored in a battery or connected to the grid. For wind power to work, you need to live in an area which is far enough away from buildings and trees to operate effectively, as in built-up areas, the wind power may not be powerful enough to generate your fuel. Small domestic wind turbines can potentially provide 30-35% of an average home’s electricity needs.

Heat pumps

Ground source heat pumps use natural heat from the ground to warm your home and reduce fuel bills. They operate by pumping water and antifreeze through buried pipes, which then absorb any heat to be found underground. This heat is then pushed through pipes in your home to heat them. Installed in an electrically heated home, a ground source heat pump can save almost seven tons of C02 a year.