Retail giant pledges to generate or source seven billion kWh of renewable energy a year by the end of the decade, saving it $1bn a year
Say what you will about other Walmart business practices, but it’s hard to find fault with the company’s plans to increase its use of renewable energy by 600% over its 2010 usage. This increase is planned to be completed by 2020, with a projected $1 billion in savings a year once these green improvements are fully in place.
What are your thoughts on Walmart’s plans?
“Energy efficient homes” is one of the buzzwords of the ever-growing “green movement”, and making your home energy efficient makes sense on a financial level as well as an eco-friendly one. However, the initiative requires more than just turning down your heating and using less hot water. In…
You can never go wrong with a batch of practical energy efficiency tips.
DIY Solar USB Charger from an Altoid’s box
Instructables has quite a few guides on how to make Solar USB Chargers, including the very well done guide on how to combine a Lady Ada Minty Boost circuit with a solar + lithium ion battery
. Great, but a bit expensive to make and not a very simple project for the weekend DIY person.
Well luckily for us I know how to make one for under $20 that is better in nearly every way and also completely fits into an Altoids Tin. Covert style.
(If you want a more powerful USB Charger, a Heavy Duty
one, I have an instructable for that as well.)
Wow! Read up on these two different methods of constructing a DIY Solar USB Charger that fits into an Altoids box.
It’s the beginning of a new year, and for many, this is the time to make New Year’s Resolutions in hopes of making a few changes in our lives. Common resolutions include losing a bit of weight, saving more money, using money more efficiently, and more. So, if you decided to change a few things about yourself in 2013, why not make a few of your resolutions green? Not only will they be good for you, but for Mother Earth will appreciate them as well. Here are a few resolutions to get you started helping the environment, starting with the Big Three:
- Reduce (No more paper towels). Rather than using paper towels that create lots of waste, choose reusable microfiber rags for a green option. Not only do they clean effectively, they can be washed and reused multiple times. If you still feel the need to use paper towels, choose the ones made from recycled materials and only use exactly what you need.
- Re-Use. Find new purposes for items before throwing them out and adding to landfill piles. Try to come up with one new way to use an item before throwing it out. If you’re extra-crafty, you can try to “upcycle” your old stuff and do some redecorating on the cheap.
- Recycle. Instead of throwing items like aluminum, glass and newspaper away, make the green effort to recycle them. Recycling has major benefits like reducing the amount of waste sent to landfills, saving energy, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and helping to sustain the environment (just to name a few).
From there, we can move in a host of new directions for living a more green lifestyle.
- Stop using bottled water. No matter how they advertise it, plastic bottles are terrible for the environment. Millions of these receptacles sit in landfills, and the slowly rotting plastic pollutes our ground water. Instead, use reusable water bottles made from stainless steel or aluminum.
- Conserve water. Make the decision to use less water. Whether you decide to take shorter showers, turn off the water when brushing teeth, or hand-wash your dishes, small steps can make a difference. Conserving water not only helps save water, but it helps save energy, as it takes a lot of energy to move water and treat it before it even reaches your home. This can also help you lower your electricity bill, since the less water you have to heat, the less electricity you use each billing cycle.
- Say good-bye to plastic and paper bags. Next time you head to the grocery store, make it a point to bring your own reusable shopping bag made of cotton or mesh. When they ask “Paper or plastic,” feel good when you say “Neither!”
- Educate yourself on the issues. While we all realize in general that it’s important to be green and friendly to your environment, you may be better persuaded if you read up on the issues. By making a resolution to educate yourself on the matters at hand, it may make a bigger impact on your beliefs and actions.
- Wash clothes only in cold water. With today’s washers, most clothes can get the same level of “clean” from cold water as they do from hot water. Plus, according to Energy Star.gov, almost 90% of the energy consumed by a washing machine goes to heating water, so washing in cold will save energy.
- Make your home more energy-efficient. Don’t get overwhelmed with this one. It can be done with small tasks such as replacing your lights with new-fangled CFL bulbs or LED lights, or installing a programmable thermostat. Click here for more DIY ideas on how to make your home more energy efficient.
- Opt out of receiving unwanted catalogs/magazines. Think about the millions of catalogs that are pitched in the trash on a daily basis and then think about the waste it creates and the amount of trees used to make them. Stop the cycle by going to CatalogChoice.org where you can type in the company name of each catalog you want to discontinue and put a stop to the waste.
- Choose a Green Energy plan with for your electricity needs. Finally, one of the easiest things that you can do to green your home to help the environment is to select an electricity plan that uses 100% renewable energy. Most major power companies offer such plans, so you can rest easy at night knowing that you’re using electricity that comes from renewable sources like wind, solar, and/or biomass.
Renewable energy technology just got a much needed breath of fresh air. During the TEDGlobal 2012 Conference held in Edinburgh, Scotland the head of the Tunisian company Saphon Energy introduced a radical innovation in wind technology. Saphon has developed a design that allows turbines to function without blades. The turbine, named the “Saphonian” after a Carthaginian wind deity, took its inspiration from sailboats. Without the need for rotating blades, the Saphonian is quieter than traditional models, and can harness the power of the wind without hurting wildlife.
Read more: Bird-Friendly Saphonian Wind Turbine Ditches Blades for a More Efficient, Less Expensive Design
Wonder if these will make it down to Texas one day
Solar Energy is the radiant light and heat that is harnessed from
the Sun by humans to be converted into energy. Solar energy is
generally converted into electricity in 2 different methods:
- Photovoltaic (PV devices) or Solar Cells - PV devices are most
often used at locations that aren’t connected to an electric grid.
These cells can change sunlight directly into electricity.
- Solar Power Plants - These power plants produce electricity when
sunlight heats a liquid (usually water) that then produces steam to
Once converted, solar technology is characterized as either passive
solar or active solar depending on the way they capture, convert and
distribute the harnessed sunlight. Active solar techniques include the
use of solar thermal collectors to convert sunlight into useful outputs
and photovoltaic panels. While passive solar techniques include
adjusting a building to the Sun, and selecting materials with favorable
thermal mass or light dispersing properties.
President Obama has announced $467 million in funding from the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act for solar and geothermal research and development, supporting his initiative of a greener economy. Though aggressive it may seem, this is technically the President’s first major down payment on his promise to put America at the head of the pack of emerging renewable technologies and energy sources.
Solar energy, perhaps the more difficult and certainly more expensive green venture, will receive $51.5 million to further develop photovoltaic technology, among other funding initiatives. The main obstacle with solar has generally been the cost of widespread development and deployment. Geothermal will also receive a hefty boost in its research and development funding, specifically $30 million toward a nationwide geothermal data system that would provide a more thorough assessment of country-wide geothermal potential and resources.
Official release from the Department of Energy: President Obama Announces Over $467 Million in Recovery Act Funding for Geothermal and Solar Energy Projects
There is an article in the Dallas Morning News that exhaustively outlines the the challenges the nation faces as it disentangles itself from its petroleum addiction. This is especially important in view of the Cap and Trade plan moving through the US Congress.
Consider the following smattering of Texas oil production facts:
- In 2008, the oil and gas industry contributed 16.5 percent of Texas’ gross state product and employed 367,967 people, or 3.52 percent of the state’s nonfarm jobs, according to the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts. The renewable industry, according to data from 2007, employed about 18,427 people.
- Texas supplies the US with 25% of its natural gas.
- Oil remains Texas’s biggest export. Texas produces 1 million barrels of oil per day, 20% of US production.
- Small or marginal oil wells account for 21 percent of US oil production. Of those, 44% are in Texas.
You’ve probably figured this out already but transforming the kind of energy the US uses means bulldogging big oil. A lot of jobs, infrastructure, and money are at stake over the long haul and there’s going to be political hamburger knee-deep all over the place.
While it would be nice to have zero-carbon emission energy sources, it’s not likely to be 100% practical. The plain fact is that hydrocarbon fuels are simple and powerful sources of energy. But the technological innovations to make them more efficient — to get even more bang and less smog for your buck— have been few in recent years. Hopefully, green energy’s rising importance will force the petroleum industry to develop those more efficient technologies.
If you ever saw pink fiberglas insulation, you probably saw some of Owens Corning’s most famous product. When CEO Mike Thaman reivewed the Pickens Plan to reduce America’s dependancy on foreign petroleum, he discovered a significant piece was missing: energy efficiency in both residential and commercial buildings consume 40 percent of energy in America.
That was something Thaman knew his company could help improve.
According to Frank O’Brien-Bernini, vice president and chief sustainabilty office for Owens Corning, of the 126 million homes in the US there’s 80 million that are underinsulated.
“All buildings need a 30 to 50 percent more insulation increase depending on when they were built. Then you can offset 28 percent of the foreign fuel that we import today,” O’Brien-Bernini said in the Toledo Free Press
. “That’s the opportunity in this. That all directly translates to greenhouse gas. We talk about 40 percent of the energy in the states; it’s about 43 percent of the greenhouse gas emissions in the United States come from operating buildings — that’s more than transportation, more than industry.”
Owens Corning began in Toledo in 1938. It invented and produces several products, such as fiberglass insulation, reinforcements, and shingles.
Sure, it’s Tax Day and no one really wants to think about having to do it all over again next year. But with springtime just starting and summer around the bend, there’s lots of ways to improve your home’s energy efficiency — and ways you’ll be able to take a tax credit on your income taxes next year.
The Tax Credit will be available for up to 30% of the cost, up to $1,500 total, in 2009 and 2010 for existing homes. This covers windows and doors, insulation, roofs, heating/air conditioning, non-solarwater heaters, and biomass (typically wood) stoves placed into service (ie: ready to use) during 2009.
A further Tax Credit for existing and new homes is available for up to 30% with no upper limit through 2016 for geothermal heat pumps, solar panels, solar water heaters, small wind energy system (home wind turbines), and fuel cells.
Many, many —and I mean: MANY — window and door and insulation manufacturers are currently offering incentives to consumers interested in improving their energy efficiency. No matter what your project, it will pay to research and shop around.
Additional tax credit information is available from the DOE
and also includes credits for hybrid vehicles and other alternative fuels vehicles.
For the entire month of April, Texas electric company Bounce Energy is offering residents in the deregulated areas of Texas a special promotion on their 100% green energy Blue Sky plan. Here’s the details…
- 100% renewable green energy at Bounce Energy’s lowest rate (their Super Saver rate) for the 1st Month.
- Your choice of $50 Home Depot Gift Card or Donation to World Wildlife Fund
- $50 Bill Credit when You Sign Up for Auto Bill Pay
- $200 of Energy Efficiency Products from Bounce partner, Standard Renewable Energy (example, Home Energy Audit)
- One Full Year of Free Companion Airline Tickets, no black out dates
For more information visit: