The results are in; C3Nano Inc., a team from Stanford University, has won a competition amongst peers, the coveted MIT Clean Energy Prize. Barely three years old, the competition has brought some of the brightest minds from around the world, working with their respective teams, for a single common objective: becoming pioneers in the advancement of (relatively) clean energy.
A good idea isn’t enough to change the world, a good idea backed by significant capital and popular support is. The people behind the competition and the participants are well-aware of this reality, leading to the high turn-out of academics with futuristic ideas. And that’s where the competition comes in; the winning team earns $200,000, but more importantly, their idea gains wide recognition beyond the scholarly circle resulting in sponsorships from established organizations.
I’ve recently come across the coolest little gadget for men, and perhaps even for women. It may be old news but it’s worth being brought up again: the Sol Shaver and other solar razors like it. These electric razors are solar powered, something I didn’t actually ever expect to see on the production line because most people only use their razors behind closed doors, in bathrooms, in the morning.
But for those of us with busy schedules, constantly moving around, often traveling, this device is simply perfect. If you go camping, you can’t really say no to bringing one of these along. Likewise, spring break is coming along quite soon and many of us will be taking a long road trip ending up on a beach somewhere (plenty of sun). Wouldn’t this be the handiest thing to have?
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As we’re entering Spring, even in Seattle, we ought to start seeing a bit more sun. And nothing would show our gratitude for the change in weather than for us to actually harvest it’s potential with a solar charger.
Sold in a variety of makes and models, these little gadgets collect energy from the sun for your personal appliances. Be it a laptop, an I-Pod, or a cell phone, you can easily find a solar charger out there to match your needs, even essentially universal ones with a multitude of different plugs. One that’s caught my attention recently is the Solio Mono-i. The company boasts it’s compatibility with 3,200 devices, and also lists the other features typically found on a variety of such chargers.
Winter: tis the season to be jolly. Christmas and Valentine’s day have already come to pass, but the season hasn’t lost all of it’s festivities for those of us enjoying the Winter Olympics. Some time during the beginning of each month though, in spite of how joyful the season may be, you’re bound to get an envelope in the mail that’ll bring you down from all that cheer. Inside the envelope, you’ll find a letter with a lot of fine print and a very clear number representing how much money will be going to go towards paying off the additional heating expenses that every Winter brings along with, the Winter hangover.
Environmentally sound technology has advanced though to the point where you can stay warm in-doors without paying as much of the annual extra costs of heating utilities and without causing unnecessary harm to the environment. It’s a win-win situation in the form of a window material that won’t even clash with your drapes.
The technology is called Low-emittance coating and is applied to the glass during the manufacturing process but the science behind it is pretty simple. When your home is warmed up, eventually things will cool down (it’s why you have to keep the heater on over extended periods of time) as the heat radiates. The heat leaves in the form of infrared radiation, and these microscopic layers work to prevent that by only allowing specific frequencies through. Best of all though, it can work both ways. So in the Summer the same coating that kept heat in during the winter, can keep heat out (diminishing the need to keep rooms regularly air-conditioned).
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Now you can be your own recharging station to all of your USB enabled devices. Cell phones, iPods, Kindles, GPS units, and just about any other hand-held electronic device can be charged by this renewable energy source.
A kinetic energy generator based on a wave energy converter, the nPower PEG (Personal Energy Generator) can go with you anywhere and will recharge your devices as you walk, run, hike or bike. By harvesting vertical movements of your everyday activities, they state that it is “able to charge handheld mobile electronic devices at the same rate as a wall charger, which means most devices reach an 80% charge with just an hour of walking throughout the day.” Just think of how much additional energy you could create at the green gym!
Some other great features of the PEG:
- Generating 4 Watts outputted through a USB 2.0 standard plug
- Constructed out of anodized aluminum
- Measures 9 inches tall and weighs 9 ounces
- Produces renewable energy
- 100% recyclable
- Components made of recycled ABS material
- RoHS Compliant
- Does not contain a battery
Eco tips for saving money this winter. What works well in the winter, can also save you money on your cooling bills in the summer too!
The Little Stuff:
- Seal up cracks – Common spots for drafts are entryways (the back door and garage doors are notorious for draftiness) window moldings and seals. Caulking windows, sealing cracks and installing weather strips under doors will help seal out drafts accounting for big losses of heat.
*Be sure to add lots of indoor toxin removing plants to keep indoor VOC levels and off-gassing furniture emissions to a minimum.
- Insulate your attic – Cold air sinks, and if your attic isn’t insulated, it’s dropping down on you like an invisible fog. Get some insulation up there pronto! When choosing insulation materials, choose something with a high ‘R-value’ and try and stay away from anything with formaldehyde. It shouldn’t be any more expensive, but it will be much better for your health and indoor air quality.
- Insulate your windows – Break out the heavy curtains! Blinds and shades can also do their part in insulating you from the chilly outdoors. When the sun goes down, close your curtains or draw the shade to keep the warm air in and the cold air out. Be sure to open them first thing in the morning to get that rising sun.
- Insulate your water heater - Unless its a newer Energy Star water heater, most water heaters can benefit from an insulation blanket. Try and cover the first 6 feet of the hot pipes as well for an added benefit.
- Adjust the thermostat – I know it’s difficult at first, but each degree set below 68°F (20°C) during colder weather uses 3 to 5 percent less heating energy than each degree set above 68°F. A programmable thermostat can change the temperature automatically for when you are commonly gone or bundled up in bed saving you from heating an empty house.
- Change your air filter – Often overlooked or performed once at the beginning of winter, you should change your furnace filter once a month during heavy usage to keep everything flowing nicely.
The Big Stuff:
- Add a storm door – A benefit of up to 2 percent savings on your annual energy costs can be › Continue reading
With energy efficiency awareness growing, and new lighting technologies being developed at a rapid pace, which bulbs on the market offer the best value for the eco-conscious? With the more recent popularization of Compact Fluorescent Light (CFL) bulbs due partly to their electricity savings and partly from huge discounts and government energy rebates making them more affordable, we ask the questions: which is the best value, which has the best life, which is the most eco-friendly, and which puts off the best light? We set out to put them all to the test.
Light Emitting Diode (LED)
Growing LED technology is developing one of the most energy efficient, long lasting and versatile bulbs in history. Already replacing traditionally incandescent automotive bulbs, flashlight bulbs, monitors and televisions, the LED is quickly becoming the new standard in eco-friendly efficient lighting. Household and commercial light bulbs are still in their infancy with very few and very expensive offerings that for the most part cannot compete with current bulb offerings.
Average Lifespan: 60,000 hours
Energy Consumption: 230 lumens / 7 watts = 33.9 lumens/watt
Average Bulb Cost: $54.00
- Cool to the touch
- Available in several shades and colors
- Very high color spectrum or temperature (closely mimics daylight) at 4200k
- Extremely long life
- good for floodlights and direct, focused lighting
- Price and availability
- narrow focus of directed light (almost like a flashlight in many instances)
- still in early stages of development for home lighting applications
Best Bet: Use in as low output uses such as nightlights, accent lighting and for directed and focused lighting situations, especially in difficult to replace areas
Great lighting can really make a house feel like a home. While we tend to focus on the energy efficiency and design of lamps and bulbs, often we neglect to consider the actual electrical system in the house. Whole House Lighting Control System by Verve Living Systems brings a whole new element to eco-friendly lighting.
A wireless lighting system that works via radio frequencies without the need for batteries, it works by routing all lighting to a programmable central controller. Each switch transmits a ‘blip’ of a radio transmission to the central hub up to 300 feet away, get this: by using the energy from the act of flipping the switch. That’s right, the switch itself powers the transmission without needing batteries or its own power source, so they are completely independent and self sustained units. This allows them to be mounted anywhere, you could even just carry it around in your pocket if you want.
By eliminating the need for light switch wiring and having a central hub to control lighting of the entire home, one can program an endless combination of lighting scenarios, and change it without having to do any re-wiring. The energy saving opportunities are equally as enticing. A one switch shutoff for the entire house so you won’t have to worry about that closet light you forgot to turn off.
The benefits of the system are endless. Not only does it greatly reduce lighting install time, labor, and cost due to the lack of a need for wiring switches, but the switches can be installed anywhere, and moved at any time. The system is completely programmable, so you can change the operation of each switch, or group lighting elements together. Imagine turning on one switch and having your entryway, driveway and garage lights all turn on at once, and then be able to click a button in your car to just turn on the driveway and garage lights only.
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