Energy efficiency is something we think about a lot here at Energy Alabama. Accelerating the transition to sustainable energy is our ultimate goal, but there’s plenty of groundwork to do in the meantime. Part of that groundwork is helping people make their homes and businesses more efficient.
There are plenty of ways to increase efficiency, and some of them are easier (and less expensive) than you might think. With that in mind, we’ve come up with this list of four great energy efficiency products that will help make your home more sustainable and comfortable.
Have another suggestion? Be sure to leave it in the comments.
Installing a programmable thermostat is a great way to save energy. And saving energy is a great way to downsize your utility bill. You win. Your wallet wins. Everyone’s happy.
The idea behind a programmable thermostat is that the temperature inside your house doesn’t always need to be the same. During the heat of the day, for instance, you might want to bump it up a notch or two—especially if you’re not at home. And at night, you might prefer a different setting than at noon. With a programmable thermostat, you can take care of that in advance.
The ecobee3 WiFi thermostat takes all of that a step further. With its remote sensor and compatibility with Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri, the ecobee3 is a fearsomely powerful thermostat. Thanks to some of its really cool built-in technology, it the ecobee3 instinctively knows when to change the temperature in your house—without you having to do anything. Several variables are at play, including the weather outside. And when someone enters a room, ecobee3 reacts to keep the room at max comfy levels.
Ecobee3’s marketers claim it saves homeowners 23% annually on their energy bills. So, do you want one yet?
Where to buy: $249 at Amazon
Every homeowner needs a surge protector. Or two or three. If you’re an energy-conscious homeowner, you need a surge protector like the Smart Strip SCG-3M.
Our modern world runs on electricity, but every now and then, a voltage spike can occur. And when a voltage spike happens, any and all of your electronic gadgets are at risk of being fried to a crisp. That’s when a surge protector comes in handy. A surge protector limits the risk to your plugged-in devices either by blocking the spike or diverting it to ground.
The Smart Strip SCG-3M Energy Saving Surge Protector does all of that, but also saves energy in the process. In addition to two always-on outlets, the SCG-3M features four outlets that automatically turn off when not in use. Plus, it has a right-angle plug that hugs the wall. What’s not to like?
Where to buy: $25.99 at Amazon
Great Value ENERGY STAR rated is the best bang for the buck. Make sure they are the ENERGY STAR rated ones. Walmart sells some that aren’t.
LED bulbs are the future. They last longer and use less electricity than traditional incandescent bulbs. And if you look in the right places, you can find good deals on them too.
For our money, Walmart’s Great Value brand offers the best bang for the buck. Just make sure they’re the ENERGY STAR-rated models because Walmart sells some that aren’t. This 60-watt equivalent bulb uses only 10 watts and has an estimated lifespan of 25,000 hours. And with 80% savings on energy costs, those 20,000 hours won’t set you back too much.
Where to buy: $3.22 at Walmart
Saving energy isn’t the only game in energy efficiency. Using water intelligently with a low-flow showerhead is important, too. Not to mention the savings from reduced heating of water.
The Niagara Sava Spa Showerhead does that while delivering 1.5 gallons per minute. A patented pressure compensator ensures consistent flow no matter what the water pressure is like in your house. That means you’re saving water—and more money on your utility bill.
Where to buy: $9.90 at Amazon
On July 28, USGBC Alabama’s newest ADVANCE Ambassador, Daniel Tait—CEO of Energy Alabama—hosted our first Energy Benchmarking Jam. This community event was held at the new Salty Nut Brewery in Huntsville and brought together various community organizations, including the Von Braun Center (Huntsville’s largest convention center), and the Girl Scouts of North Alabama. Other individuals from throughout Huntsville entered energy data for their own personal places of interest, such as their church or child’s daycare.
To continue reading the full article, please visit: http://www.usgbc.org/articles/first-advance-energy-benchmarking-jam-engages-community-usgbc-alabama
If you’ve been around this blog long enough, you’ve probably heard something about the North Alabama Building Performance Challenge (NABPC). But what you might not have thought about is why you should take the challenge yourself. It’s time for us to change that.
Simply stated, the goal of the HBBC is to reduce energy consumption by a targeted 20% in participating buildings across the city. Huntsville has already committed itself to becoming one of America’s most sustainable cities, but the municipal government simply can’t do this on its own. That’s where the Challenge comes in. By increasing efficiency by just 20%, we can save literally millions of dollars in North Alabama alone.
So why should you participate? Let’s take a look at a few of the reasons.
We couldn’t start this any other way. The first, most obvious—and probably most important for lots of people—reason you should participate in the North Alabama Building Performance Challenge is because it will save your business money.
How? Simple—increasing efficiency means paying lower utility bills. A lower utility bill means your company is saving cash. Most business exist to make money, so this is a win-win situation all around.
You’ve just saved your company bundles of cash by increasing energy efficiency by 20% in your building. Great, but now what? Well, you could reinvest those savings in any number of ways. With more capital freed up, your company could raise wages, make further improvements to the building, or embark on a totally new venture.
It really is up to you. But the main thing to remember is that these investments will come entirely from energy savings—and would essentially cost the company nothing.
By taking the Challenge, you won’t just be helping your own company. You’ll also be bringing loads of benefits to the community.
To understand why, think of the big picture. Plenty of businesses just like yours will be participating. Together, your upgrades will foster new business opportunities throughout the area while creating a more sustainable footprint.
And the upgrades will show up everywhere: Municipal buildings, hospitals, universities, and commercial sites are just a few places that could take the challenge.
We believe in 100% percent sustainable energy for all, but we can’t do it alone. By taking the Challenge, you’ll help spread the word about sustainable energy.
The NABPC will publicly recognize partners and participants when they reach their goals. In addition, we’ll use a public map to promote buildings and owners who achieve ENERGY STAR certification. There’s no such thing as bad publicity, as the saying goes, and that’s especially true here. Who doesn’t like hearing about increasing efficiency and saving money?
Have you ever thought to yourself that it would be nice to go green, if only you could find a way? Here’s your chance.
Increasing efficiency is good for the environment. Using less electricity reduces demand and lessens the burden on the grid. And that’s not all. It also helps reduce America’s dependence on foreign oil.
More efficient commercial, institutional, multifamily, and industrial buildings reduce the nation’s dependence on foreign oil, protect the environment, and save billions of dollars in energy costs that can be spent growing businesses, investing in new technologies, and creating American jobs.
More jobs. Economic growth. A better and greener environment. What’s not to like?
…You’ll get this sweet participation decal.
So what are you waiting for. Contact us today for more information.
Increased efficiency. Reduced rates. Improved reliability. Diminished emissions. If all of that sounds good to you, then you ought to know about the benefits of distributed generation.
A few weeks back, we covered microgrids and why they’re important in the context of the larger, main grid. As you might recall, microgrids are defined not by their size, but rather by their function—crucially, their ability to break off from the main grid and operate autonomously. Got it? Well, if that makes sense, think of distributed generation as a network of systems just like that.
That’s oversimplifying it a little, but the overall concept holds true. Distributed generation is when electricity comes from many small energy sources. Generally, these sources are local and renewable. They’re all connected to the larger grid but can also function separately.
If all this sounds unfamiliar, that’s because it’s not the “normal” way of doing things. But it does have its advantages.
In the traditional transmission and distribution (T&D) grid, large sources provide power to huge numbers of residential, commercial, and industrial customers. Some of those customers live close to the centralized power plants. Other live far away—sometimes very, very far.
In contrast, a distributed generation (DG) system has smaller, decentralized sources that generate electricity much closer to the people who use it. There are lots of producers, and even though they produce less individually, they’re all connected to the grid. Together, they can be quite effective.
Several technologies form the backbone of a DG system. Some of the most prominent are solar, wind, and hydro. Another is cogeneration, which is the production of electricity from what is essentially the leftover energy from other forms of generation. Yet another is an energy storage system, which stays connected to the grid and holds energy until it’s needed.
So what are the benefits of distributed generation? In 2007, the U.S. Department of Energy released a report outlining some of DG’s advantages. Here’s what they came up with (h/t Energy.gov):
Those are all really important concepts, but let’s focus on that first one.
One way to think about the benefits of distributed energy is to visualize your cell phone’s network. Imagine for a moment that your carrier had only a few towers in just a few spots around the country. The towers would be massive and powerful, but you wouldn’t have the same reliability and coverage that you have now. The reasons should be obvious. With a network of smaller, more evenly placed towers, cell-phone carriers are able to provide the best service possible to their customers.
Distributed generation is no different. When centralized power plants transmit energy over long distances, some of that energy is lost. With distributed generation, the generators are closer to those who use the energy. Thus there’s less waste. Increased efficiency. In the old model, a loss in service at any point of the grid means everyone suffers. In the new model, that’s less likely to happen.
DG can also serve as a backup to the grid, acting as an emergency source for public services in the case of a natural disaster. Here in North Alabama, that kind of service could be invaluable after a tornado. And by producing energy locally, DG systems can reduce demand at peak times in specific areas and alleviate congestion on the main grid.
Finally, because distributed energy tends to come from renewable sources, it’s good for the environment. Using more renewables means lowering emissions. And lowering emissions makes the world a more enjoyable place for all of us.