Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Making Your Home Energy Efficient Room by Room: Kitchen

A typical home uses 600-1200 kiloWatt-hours per year for refrigeration and freezing. To become more energy efficient with refrigeration in your home, follow these tips:
Keep your refrigerator at 37°- 40° F and your freezer at 5°F.
Keep your refrigerator filled to capacity, but don't overcrowd to the point where doors cannot be closed or air cannot circulate.
Vacuum the condenser coils (underneath or behind the unit) every three months or so.
Check the condition of door gaskets by placing a dollar bill against the frame and closing the door. If the bill can be pulled out with a very gentle tug, the door should be adjusted or the gasket replaced.
Do not put uncovered liquids in the refrigerator. The liquids give off vapors that add to the compressor workload.
Allow hot food to cool off before putting it in the refrigerator.
Plan ahead and remove all ingredients for each meal at one time.
Try switching off the power-saver switch, if your refrigerator has one. If only a small amount of condensation appears, save energy and leave the switch off.
 Buying Tips for a Refrigerator/Freezer
Reduce your refrigeration electricity usage by 40 percent by replacing a 12-year-old or older unit with a new unit. 
An Energy Star® unit will lower usage even more.
Select a refrigerator or freezer that is just large enough for your needs
Look for energy-saving features such as the power-saver switch and improved insulation materials.
If possible, locate refrigerators and freezers away from direct sunlight, ranges, and heating equipment.
Never put a second refrigerator in the garage. If you need a second unit, put it in the basement.
A typical home uses 200-700 kiloWatt-hours per year with its range/oven. To become more energy efficient with your range/oven, follow these tips:
Only use pots and pans with flat bottoms on the stove.
Include more stews, stir-frys, and other single-dish meals in your menus.
Develop the habit of "lids-on" cooking to permit lower temperature settings.
Keep reflector pans beneath stovetop heating elements bright and clean.
Carefully measure water used for cooking to avoid having to heat more than is needed.
Begin cooking on highest heat until liquid begins to boil. Then lower the heat control settings and allow food to simmer until fully cooked.
Cook as much of the meal in the oven at one time as possible. Variations of 25°F still produce good results and save energy.
Rearrange oven shelves before turning your oven on - and don't peek at food in the oven!
Every time you open the oven door, 25°-50°F is lost.
There is no need to preheat the oven for broiling or roasting. ƒ When preheating an oven for baking, time the preheat period carefully. Five to eight minutes should be sufficient.
Use your microwave oven whenever possible, as it draws less than half the power of its conventional oven counterpart and cooks for a much shorter amount of time.
Use the self-cleaning cycle only for major cleaning jobs. Start the cycle right after cooking while the oven is still hot, or wait until late in the evening when electricity usage is low.
Buying Tips for a Range/Oven
Convection ovens use a small fan to circulate hot air around the oven. This speeds up cooking time by about 30 percent and saves the same in energy.
Combination ovens use microwave technology and halogen lamps to cut cooking time and energy use by 66-75 percent.
Wash only full loads of dishes - but do not overload dishwasher.
Scrape food off dishes and rinse them with cold water before placing them in the dishwasher.
Soak or pre-wash only in the cases of burned-on or dried-on foods.
Don't use the "rinse hold" feature on your dishwasher when you only have a few soiled dishes.
Buying tip: Look for dishwashers with internal booster heaters, so that you can set your water heater thermostat at 120°F (rather than 140°F for dishwashing purposes).
Energy-Efficient Appliances for the Kitchen
Induction Cooking
Induction cooking is one of many advances made in home cooking. With induction cooking, surfaces stay cool while the food gets warm or hot. It uses magnetic friction to deliver heat through coils to the pots or pans on the surface. This prevents the ceramic surface from becoming hot, which prevents burns. The pots that are used must be made of magnetic materials, such as iron or steel, for the best results.
These units have very high efficiency ratings (in terms of the amount of heat used for actual cooking versus the total amount of heat delivered by the equipment), especially when compared to gas systems.
Light Energy Ovens
Many people use microwave ovens for a variety of cooking purposes, but they do not have the ability to grill or broil. Now, with light energy ovens, tungsten/ halogen lamps are positioned around the interior and computer-controlled "thermal-pulsing" selectively directs energy both into and onto the food. You get the size, convenience, and speed of a microwave oven, combined with the cooking ability of a regular oven or grill.
Larger versions of these ovens have been used in commercial restaurants and hotels. Starting in December 1998, models were available for residential applications.
Energy Efficient Cooking
Each piece of cooking equipment you use and how you use it makes a big impact on how much energy you use preparing meals. Here are some tips that should help you decide where and when savings are possible in the kitchen.
Select the right pan or appliance. Oversized pans waste energy. The pan you use should match the burner size. A 6-inch diameter pan on an 8-inch burner wastes almost half of the energy produced by the burner. Using a separate appliance like a Crockpot can save energy when preparing foods requiring long cooking times.
Pressure cookers reduce energy use 50 to 75 percent because cooking times are reduced when food is cooked at the higher temperatures created inside a pressure cooker. And when you bake, use glass and ceramic pans and you can lower the oven temperature by 25 degrees. If you're baking or roasting something for less than a half hour, use a toaster oven. They often use 1/3 to 1/2 the power needed for a conventional oven.
With flat-surface electric burners, make sure the bottom of your pans are flat-bottomed and can make good contact with the element. Uneven pan bottoms don't conduct heat to the food as well. And with electric burners, you can turn them off toward the end of the cooking time since they'll radiate heat for awhile as they cool.
• With gas cooktops, a well-shaped blue flame indicates efficient burning. A yellow flame means the burner is operating inefficiently.
• Keep lids on pans as you cook; cooking without them can require three times as much energy as cooking with them on. Look for pans with glass lids if you like to keep an eye on what you are preparing.
• When boiling foods, keep the amount of water used to a minimum. Using excess water that must be heated wastes the energy required to raise its temperature.
• Use microwave ovens when possible since they use less energy and require shorter cooking times than conventional ovens. And in the summer, they have the additional advantage of producing less heat in the kitchen.
• Defrosting frozen foods in the refrigerator will reduce cooking time. But allow enough time for defrosting to take place. It can take several days for a frozen turkey to defrost in a refrigerator.

• Self-cleaning ovens are a great convenience, but they accomplish their tasks by heating to very high temperatures and burn off spilled or accumulated food. So use them only when the oven really needs the cleaning, once a month or so. And do it right after use so it's preheated for the cleaning cycle.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Solar Plane Pilot Plugs Renewable Energy

Swiss psychiatrist and aeronaut Bertrand Piccard, who in 1999 co-piloted the first balloon to circle the world non-stop, has again made aviation history. 

Alternating with his partner and compatriot, Andre Borschberg, he flew an airplane across the United States - in six stages from May 3 to July 6 - using only solar power

Their Solar Impulse HB-SIA, with a wingspan equal to that of an Airbus A340 but weighing no more than an average car, is equipped with 11,628 photovoltaic cells that power four electric motors averaging 8 horsepower each. 

Piccard, 55, initiator and chairman of the Solar Impulse venture, said the aircraft's technical details were less important than its renewable-energy message. 

"We at Solar Impulse aim to be pioneers. We want to open doors; others can deal with marketability later. It's not passengers we want to transport, but a message: that the technology exists to live with clean energies, and create jobs as well."

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

EPA strengthens Energy Star requirements

Under the new standards, Energy Star certified refrigerators and freezers will use at least 10 percent less energy than models meeting 2014 federal minimum efficiency standards. If all refrigerators and freezers sold in the United States were to meet the updated requirements, energy cost savings would grow to more than $890 million each year and reduce annual greenhouse gas emissions by the equivalent of those from more than one million vehicles. Additionally, by recycling an old refrigerator and replacing it with a new Energy Star certified refrigerator, consumers can save from $150 to $1,100 on energy costs over the product's lifetime.

"We can all do our part in meeting the challenge of climate change," said Janet McCabe, Principal Deputy Assistant Administrator for EPA's Office of Air and Radiation. "By choosing Energy Star appliances, families can save energy, save money, and reduce carbon pollution."
Certain Energy Star refrigerators and freezers with connected features will provide consumers new convenience and energy-saving opportunities. These products will allow consumers to view real-time energy use, receive energy-related messages, such as an alert when the door has been left open, and manage appliance settings remotely. Refrigerators and freezers with connected functionality will also be "smart grid"-ready, meaning that with consumer permission, they will be able to respond to utility signals, including curtailing operations during more expensive peak demand times.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Let's Get Crafty! Pt. 2

CD Sun Catchers 

Looking for a fun and creative way to teach your children about renewable energy? CD Sun Catchers demonstrate the generation of energy produced by the sun, including light and heat. Keep your beautiful sun-catcher as a fun decoration for any window or room. Or, for the winter holidays, give it out as a unique, hand-made ornament!


• Junk CDs
• Glue
• Decorations: Gems, jewels, beads, sequins
• Sandpaper
• Fishing line, cut into 2’ lengths
• Paint (any color)


STEP 1: Before starting, make sure the paint you use will work with the CD. Experiment with paint on a spare CD to check for adherence. Add a few drops of liquid dish soap to the paint if needed.

STEP 2: Lightly sand the CD on the side with the label in order to the dull surface.

STEP 3: Paint the sanded side. Let the paint dry.

STEP 4: Add decorations to make this sun-catcher your own! Glue sequins, jewels, or beads to either the painted or mirrored side. Let the glue dry.

STEP 5: After the glue dries, string the CD on fishing line so that it hangs freely. For extra decoration, use spare beads and jewels to string onto the fishing line before tying it off.

Enjoy your new creation!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Internet Energy Efficiency: NRDC Study Questions Power Drain From Routers, Modems

If there’s one thing I pride myself on, it’s practicing vigilance when it comes to making sure that I unplug any non-essential appliances and electronics when I’m not using them. As for the things that I don’t unplug on a regular basis, I make sure that they’re connected to a vampire energy-combating power strip or similar (preferably non-terrifying) device. What can I say? I like to save moola.

However, in addition to the fridge, there are a couple of electronic devices in my home that I dare not tamper with — highly essential items that I never turn off and leave plugged in 24/7: My modem and AirPort Extreme base station.

Having previously delved into the energy-guzzling nature of newfangled HD-DVR cable boxes (crazy enough, they suck more juice than Energy Star rated fridges), the Natural Resources Defense Council has now set its sights on modems and routers, devices, that like cable boxes, are ubiquitous and rarely unplugged. Collectively, Americans consume $1 billion worth of electricity per year on keeping home networking devices fired up but could potentially save a whopping $330 million in costs if they switch over to energy-efficient models.

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