Monday, April 25, 2011

Home Energy Savings Workshop This Thursday in Miami Beach!!

As if learning to save $750 a year weren't enough... you'll also walk away with a home energy savings toolkit valued at $100.00!! This is the next installment of a very successful series of energy efficiency workshops put on in a partnership between Miami-Dade County and Dream in Green. Go ahead and register-- you'll still be home in time to catch 30 Rock!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Odds & Ends Post #4: Ooops, I Almost Forgot

I mentioned earlier that I had made a minor improvement at work using compact fluorescent bulbs, but I forgot to note the energy savings in my tally. As a reminder, here's the breakdown:

The two incandescent bulbs I replaced use:
50 watts ÷ 1,000 =  0.05 kWh
0.05 kWh × 8 hrs. = 0.4 kWh/day
0.4 kWh/day × 260 workdays/year = 104 kWh/yr

The new CFL bulbs use:
26 watts ÷ 1,000 =  0.026 kWh
0.026 kWh × 8 hrs. = 0.208 kWh/day
0.208 kWh/day × 260 workdays/year = 55 kWh/yr

Thats a difference of 49 kWh/yr which, considering we are now in April, represents a savings of approximately 37 kWh for 2011. With a vigorous pat on my own back, I now add that total to my tally.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Odds & Ends Post #3: APC Slurpee

Over the past two-and-a-half months, I've been learning a lot about my home power consumption. I've made some small modifications in my energy use that have resulted in some big savings according to my monthly energy bill. But there have been a few lessons learned along the way that are important to make note of and correct.

For example, a few weeks back I made major modifications to the manner in which I run my home computer. In short, I now power down my entire system when not in use and cut power to the whole thing by turning off my APC battery backup/surge protector. But I soon noticed that even though I shut off the power on the APC, my printer-- which I don't power down manually-- remained on. The printer was running on battery power, which was apparently being charged continually. In other words, the APC continued to suck power from the outlet even though I physically powered it down. Despite my best of intentions, it looked like my backup was thwarting my efforts.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Odds & Ends Post #2: New Meter Angst or Something More?

I've been waiting for the arrival of this month's bill following the installation of my new smart meter by FPL. It showed up in the mail today, and I was disappointed to find it reflected only a drop of 118 kWh over the same time period the previous year! A savings, yes, but nothing like the 50%+ decreases we've seen from previous months. And believe me, we've been subjecting ourselves to many a warm day as we've resisted the urge to crank the air conditioning way down. What gives?!? Is this evidence that our new smart meter is actually tallying greater amounts of energy use than its faithful predecessor??  

Monday, April 11, 2011

Odds & Ends Post #1: Watching My Every Move-- The Smart Meter

FPL's long-promised smart meter was unceremoniously installed at my home last month. The only reason I realized it was there was a notification on my monthly statement. The meter was installed in the middle of my billing cycle, so its still unclear whether it is a help or a hindrance. This month's bill will be far more illuminating (pardon the pun), and I expect it to arrive any day.

In the long run, when the full capabilities of the unit are available, I hope it will provide easier tracking of use and the ability to tailor energy consumption around peak periods. Only time will tell...

Friday, April 8, 2011

One More Workplace Improvement Before an Unexpected Break

There is a large display at my workplace that is illuminated eight hours every workday by two 25-watt incandescent bulbs. This week, I found comparable compact fluorescent bulbs and made the switch. Each of the new bulbs consumes only 13 watts while providing a much brighter output. Our calculations then are:

25 watts ÷ 1,000 x 8 hours x 2 bulbs x 260 days = 104 Total kWh/year
13 watts ÷ 1,000 x 8 hours x 2 bulbs x 260 days = 54 Total kWh/year

Our one little change has saved us 50 kWh over the course of one full year. That's a savings of about 37 kWh for the remaining year. Quite frankly, I think that might be enough hard work for a while...

Monday, April 4, 2011

Solar Boosts My Tally Update

This week's minor lifestyle modification proves that every little bit counts. Though I had already been using energy efficient lighting outdoors, switching to a solar-powered alternative helps not only reduce my consumption of electricity, but also helps curb my contribution to a mounting problem of light pollution. Based upon our earlier calculations, I'm updating our tally this week to reflect an additional yearly savings of 75 kWh per month.

Light pollution is, of course, not endemic to south Florida. Rather, our ravenous need for outdoor illumination is prevalent across the United States and the world. Several of my colleagues continue to work on this issue elsewhere. Take, for example, this special forces team otherwise known as the Dark Rangers.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

A Blogger's Dirty Little Secret Revealed!

I know this may be shocking, but I don't always blog in real time. So although yesterday's post made it sound like I was testing my new Westinghouse solar LED lights for the very first time last night, I've actually had them now for over two weeks. So here's the run down:

These lights are clearly marketed as LED spotlights, with an output 12 times brighter than other solar lights. That may well be true, but they are dim enough they could be considered accent lights. That said, they do adequately illuminate the windows and doors near which they were installed, without unnecessarily flooding the yard-- and skies above-- with light.

I'm gonna go ahead and recycle my BJs receipt-- these lights are keepers. Without compromising the integrity of the zodiac, I am still getting the functionality I need from my outdoor lighting, AND I'm doing so with renewable energy instead of relying on the power grid. NICE!  

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Testing the Waters of Solar...

Though I already use efficient lighting outdoors, I was inspired by a recent visit to BJs. I found this 3-pack of Westinghouse solar LED lights on sale for a paltry forty bucks. I'm big into experimenting, so I thought I would give them a try. Each light is powered by three nickel-metal hydride (Ni-Mh) cells which are recharged daily by a small photovoltaic panel. An array of 6 LEDs per light provide output for an advertised 8 hours of run time. A sensor powers the lights on only under low-light conditions.

After some minimal assembly, I staked each light around the front of my home, positioned to illuminate my front door and windows. Initial output of light seems pretty good. We'll see how they do overnight...

Friday, April 1, 2011

BJs Gives Me Another Bright Idea...

Despite my earlier rantings, I do appreciate a bit of night time lighting around my home for the purposes of security-- and entertainment. After all, its rather interesting to see what sorts of amazing insects naturally gravitate to the light (like the occasional sphinx moth!) and the nocturnal predators that show up for the evening buffet.

Two fixtures currently illuminate the outside of my home: one street lamp and an outdoor porch light. I have long since switched out the incandescent bulbs in each in favor of compact fluorescents. At the moment, there are three13-watt bulbs over the porch, and two 15-watt flood lights powering the street lamp. Last year, on average, I would say the lights burned a total of perhaps three hours every night. Thus,

13 watts + 13watts +13 watts + 15 watts +15 watts = 69 watts
69 watts ÷ 1,000 = 0.069 kWh
0.069 kWh × 3 hours = 0.207 kWh/day
0.138 kWh/day × 365 days = 75.55 kWh/year

Not a lot of juice, really, since the fixtures already use efficient bulbs. But a recent trip to BJs made me think there might be a better way...