Category Archives: solar hot water heaters

Sustainable Development; Renewable Energy, Green Building, Water Conservation, Advanced Energy Storage…What’s all this mean?

Sustainable Development (SD) must be our way of living today and moving forward.  Wikipedia explains Sustainable Development as:  ‘a process for meeting human development goals while maintaining the ability of natural systems to continue to provide the natural resources and ecosystem services upon which the economy and society depend.’  Do a Google search and you’ll see there are many different definitions for Sustainable Development.  Since I like to keep things simple, we’ll break down Sustainable Development in Three Simple Ways:

“Three Pillars of Sustainability”
  • Environment
  • Society
  • Economy

Environment; ecosystem, ecology, earth.

We rely on earth and her ecosystems for life (air, water, food, shelter, etc.).  Therefore, as Earths dependents, we must all work together to always consider her and protect her and the natural resources she offers us.

Society; us, humanity, social equality.

We rely on earths natural resources (food, water, air, shelter) for survival and must, at all costs, protect and replenish her natural ecosystems while being mindful of humanities societal needs today and for future generations.  We, most of humanity, has also come to rely on our economic system and many of us are working toward economic growth for ourselves.

“Sustainability enables Earth to continue supporting our life.”

Economy; economic growth.

Economies are created and ran by humanity.  We know that humanity (society) depends on earth.  Therefore our economy must also depend on Earth and her many natural resources.  One definition of economic growth is, ‘an increase in the amount of goods and services produced per head of the population over a period of time.’  Economic growth must be re-defined and re-purposed being mindful of our environment(s) and maintaining and replenishing earths natural resources and ecosystems.  The updated definition of ‘economic growth’ should also consider an improved quality of life with less resource consumption and waste.

Solar Power vs. Coal…where do you want to live & receive energy from?

 

Sustainable development, simply put, is the process of meeting humanities survival needs (air, water, food, shelter) while maintaining and replenishing the environment and all of earths natural resources and ecosystems to improve human quality of life with decreased resource consumption balancing toward social equality.

Thank you for taking time and reading this information.  And please share this if you believe it may provide value to others.

Jimi Holt

Advantages of Solar Power Photovoltaic (PV) Arrays on Apartment Complex Rooftops

Investing in a solar photovoltaic (PV) system can be the single best investment that an Apartment Complex owner will ever make. Solar will provide the apartment complex owner with a serious competitive advantage over other apartment complex competitors that do not invest in solar. All apartment complex owners that do not invest in solar today will be forced pay higher and higher prices for electricity as the electric utility companies continue to increase their electricity rates as the cost for coal and gas increase and carbon taxes are implemented by the federal government.

Solar PV on Apartment Complex

Top 10 Reasons to Install Solar Panels on Apartment Complex Rooftops:

    Solar provides apartment complex owners with a competitive edge:

  • Installing solar power on apartment complex rooftops provides building owners with a competitive edge
    There are many advantages of installing solar power on apartment complex rooftops, but the #1 reason that an apartment complex owner should install solar is because it will give their apartment complex a huge competitive advantage as utility electricity rate hikes continue to drive monthly electricity bills higher and higher. In 15 year’s time, the apartment complex owner that installs solar will be paying the same amount for electricity every year. But the apartment complex owner across the street will probably see their electricity costs double or triple in less than 15 years. Most apartment complex owners can either pass this savings onto their tenants or significantly increase their profit margins compared to the competition.

    Solar provides apartment complex owners with free electricity:

  • Installing solar power on apartment complex rooftops produces free electricity
    Using an apartment complex rooftop to produce your own free electricity is hard to beat. Imagine how much money you would save each month if you did not have to pay your apartment complex’s electricity bill. And most apartment complex owners have large parking lots too. Why not install solar in the parking lots and provide your customers with shaded parking covers?

    Solar protects apartment complex owners against electricity rate hikes:

  • Installing solar power on apartment complex rooftops protects against electricity rate hikes for 25 years
    Typical electricity rates increase an average of 6% a year. A solar power panel is guaranteed to produce free electricity for 25 years, but many solar panels last 30-40 years. To see why free electricity is important, build an excel spreadsheet that multiplies your current electricity bill by 6% each year for the next 25 years. At a 6% increase per year, a $1,000 monthly electric will increase to more than $3,820 per month in 25 years. Why not protect your apartment complex against future electric rate hikes?

    Solar allows apartment complex owners to sell electricity for a profit:

  • Installing solar power on apartment complex rooftops allows owners to sell electricity to their tenants
    If your apartment complex has tenants, then you can sell your clean green electricity for a profit. Your tenants would be happy to buy electricity from you instead of the utility company if you give them a 10% discount. Installing solar power on the apartment complex rooftop is similar to installing ATM machines that significantly improve your monthly cash flow. If the apartment complex has no tenants, the apartment complex owner has the option sell the electricity back to the utility through Arizona’s Net Metering policy.

    Solar provides apartment complex owners with MACRS depreciation and huge tax write-offs:

  • Installing solar power on apartment complex rooftops provides MACRS depreciation and huge tax write-offs
    If your apartment complex has a tax liability problem and is looking for a great tax write-off, solar is a great way to take advantage of a 30% federal tax credit and any state tax credit that might be available. MACRS depreciation allows apartment complex owners to depreciate a large percentage of the system cost in the first year of operation. You may not understand the math, but when your accountant reviews the numbers, they may wonder why you had not made this investment sooner.

    Solar protects apartment complex owners against power outages:

  • Installing solar power on apartment complex rooftops provides protection against power outages
    Like diesel backup generators, solar power array can provide electricity when the regular grid has an outage. Electricity can be stored in batteries, large capacitors, flywheels and other types of devices that store energy until it is needed during an emergency or when the sun goes down. The first thing that is usually flown to a tornado, hurricane or earthquake disaster scene is a solar power telecommunications and water purification trailer. If safety is a concern, solar power can provide a fantastic source of emergency power, communications and water purifications for your tenants and employees.

    Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SRECs) can be sold by apartment complex owners for a profit:

  • Installing solar power on apartment complex rooftops allows owners to sell their solar RECs for a profit
    As the world becomes more and more concerned with air pollution and water usage, utility companies are facing regulations that mandate producing a percentage of their electric power from renewable energy sources. Many utilities will not be able to meet their Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) and will be forced to buy RECs from independent power producers. Investing in RECs now can provide a very lucrative return on investment as energy consumption continues to increase and taxing carbon-based power production moves into mainstream regulatory public policy. See this link for more information on SREC trading: www.srectrade.com

    Solar saves the utility companies billions of dollars in reduced fuel and power purchase costs:

  • Solar requires no fuel and produces power where it is actually needed
    A recent research study, the RW Beck Distributed Renewable Energy Operating Impact Research Study, sponsored by Arizona’s largest electric utility company shows that a high penetration level of solar can save a lot of money on the cost to produce electricity. The study illustrates how heavy deployments of solar can save APS approximately $3 billion over the next 15 years by reducing fuel costs, reducing power purchases, reducing operations and maintenance, reducing capital expenditures and reducing the amount of power needed to be generated for the generation, transmission and distribution of electricity.

    “Going Solar” is the best way for apartment complex owners to reduce their carbon footprint:

  • Installing solar power on apartment complex rooftops provides great publicity for reducing pollution
    In addition to saving money, creating jobs, and creating economic development, the best thing about solar power is that it produces zero air pollution. When global warming is a growing problem facing the world installing solar power is one of the best ways for apartment complex owners to reduce their carbon footprint and in the process save a lot of money on future apartment complex electric bills.

    “Going Green” with solar power generates very positive PR publicity:

  • Installing solar power on apartment complex rooftops provides great publicity for “Going Green”
    The local newspaper, TV stations and trade publications like to cover companies that are good stewards for the local community they serve. Installing solar power on apartment complex rooftops is a good way to provide leadership and help migrate as many residential and commercial customers to solar power. It also creates a lot of green collar jobs and installation revenue that can be injected back into the local economy as solar installation companies spend money on office space, a fleet of trucks and the supplies they need to install solar power arrays.

information from Arizona Solar Power Society

Multi-Tasking Solar Modules: Photovoltaic Panels Used in All Situations, Environments, Shapes, Sizes, Colors, Locations

Solar Covered Parking, Photovoltaic Rooftop System

Electricity from solar modules can be produced anywhere on the planet, as long as the sun shines on it.  Solar modules are deployed around the globe today and being used in all different types of situations, locations, and for many purposes.

Solar Modules on side of building

One of the many benefits of solar energy is that the electricity that the system produces from the Sun is FREE.  So if you’re already paying a monthly electric bill to the utility company, instead pay that same money to yourself and invest in a solar system.

Solar Modules were originally used to produce clean, renewable energy.  Now they’re “multi-tasking” and are being asked to serve as vehicle shade structures, architectural building enhancements, overhead shelters, replacing building construction materials, to cover unsightly conditions, etc.  Photovoltaic panels are popping up everywhere and we’re only at the beginning of the solar energy production revolution.

Clear Solar Photovoltaic Modules

When considering going solar and changing from brown, dirty energy to clean, green energy, make sure to review all of your options.  Every site, building, facility has a unique location and situation.  A professional solar developer like AirUs Energy considers all of this as well as the products available on the global solar market to provide custom design solar solutions.

 

7 Impressive Solar Energy Facts (+ charts)

7 impressive solar energy facts (+ charts)

by author:Zachary Shahan

How solar power has changed over the last 10 years

Solar power is in a tremendously different place today than it was in 10 years ago. Below are a handful of impressive stats about solar power’s growth, as well as some general stats about solar energy potential that are also quite noteworthy.

1. Even yearly energy potential from sunshine dwarfs total energy potential from any other source.

The annual energy potential from solar energy is 23,000 TWy. Energy potential from total recoverable reserves of coal is 900 TWy. For petroleum, it’s 240 TWy; and for natural gas, it’s 215 TWy. Wind energy’s yearly energy potential is 25–70 TWy.

[Source: A Fundamental Look at Energy Reserves for the Planet]

2. Approximately 66% of installed world solar PV power capacity has been installed in the past 2½ years.

Furthermore, total installed capacity is projected to double in the coming 2½ years.

[Source: GTM Research]

3. Global solar PV power capacity grew from about 2.2 GW in 2002 to 100 GW in 2012.

From 2007 to 2012, it grew 10 times over, from 10 GW to 100 GW.

[Source: Renewables 2013 Global Status Report]

4. There are now about 1.36 million jobs in the global solar PV industry.

There are also about 892,000 in the solar heating & cooling industry.

[Source: Renewables 2013 Global Status Report]

5. Germany accounted for nearly one third of global solar PV capacity at the end of 2012.

Italy (16%) and Germany (32%) combined accounted for nearly half of global solar PV capacity.

[Source: Renewables 2013 Global Status Report]

6. The price of solar PV panels dropped about 100 times over from 1977 to 2012.

Since 2008, the price of solar PV panels has dropped about 80%.

[Data Source: Bloomberg New Energy Finance / Chart Source: Cost of Solar/Unknown]

7. The sunshine hitting Texas in one month contains more energy than all the oil and gas ever pumped out of the state.

Nonetheless, New Jersey has about 10 times more solar PV power capacity installed than the entire state of Texas.

[Data Source: SEIA / Image Source: 1Sun4All.com]

Those are some of the most impressive solar energy facts and charts I’ve seen, but please let us know if there are some big ones you think I’m missing.

Editor’s note: This is a guest post written by Zachary Shahan, editor of CleanTechnica and Planetsave. The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect or represent the views of ABB or its employees.

Solar PV providing light and power to Los Angeles; Santa Monica Pier and Venice Beach Graffiti Art Walls

Solar PV lighting system with Battery Back-up, Venice Beach, CA

If you’re paying attention to the skyline then you’ve seen solar pv arrays being used to provide clean, renewable energy popping up everywhere.  Many homeowners and business owners have made the switch from fossil fuels to solar power, but even the smallest of energy users (see photo left) are also making the move.

Solar Energy can be used anywhere on Earth the sun shines.  We use it to provide energy in remote locations where the ‘grid’ cannot reach as well as in ‘grid’ connected areas to help offset some of the utility company electrical demands.  A solar electric system in conjunction with battery back-up can produce clean, renewable energy throughout the day which can be distributed anytime, even during the utility companies peak charge times to save the most.  The solar lighting system installed at the Venice Beach Art Walls includes a battery back-up system at each light which allows the entire area to shine all night completely off the electrical grid.

Solar PV Array at Santa Monica Pier, California

Keep traveling a little farther north along the bike path and you’ll find the Santa Monica Pier.  Take a closer look (see pic below) and you’ll see a solar PV array helping push the roller coaster and ferris wheel along.  This solar system does not cover all the power required to run the Santa Monica Pier, however one of the many benefits of a solar system is it’s easily expandable.  As us about our proposal to take the Santa Monica Pier completely off the utility grid…

Feel free to email, or comment below should you have questions or opportunities to discuss.

Thanks for spreading the word,

Jimi Holt

 

The Key to Exponential Solar Growth Is Virtual Net Metering — and Solar Companies

 

On August 15, 2012, at 8 a.m., Colorado’s Xcel utility opened up its registration for a new solar gardens/virtual net metering program. It took just 30 minutes to shut the doors on applications. The utility had received 13.5 MW in those 30 minutes, more than triple the 4.5 MW allowed. This excitement is one reason why I believe that community solar is the key to widespread U.S. solar adoption, but let’s go through all of them…plus the challenges to it ever happening.

Right now there are relatively few solar gardens/net metering/community solar programs in the United States. The most notable and successful ones are in Sacramento via the SMUD, as well as an earlier solar gardens program in Colorado. Currently, California law allows for community solar on site, limiting roof space on buildings. However, a new bill, SB 843, will allow off-site solar virtual net metering, a.k.a. community solar.

Another reason why I’m bullish on widespread community solar is Solar Mosaic, a new company that allows individuals to invest in solar through a Solar PPA model. Here, instead of a utility bill directly benefiting from the watts, a consumer invests in a large solar PPA project and basically becomes an equity partner, earning an ROI.

In the two models above, roof or property ownership is not required, so renters and tree-lined-street lovers can enjoy solar benefits and savings. Also, because the actual solar installation is off-site, perfect insolation, roof age, home-owner vanity, and belligerent home owner associations are no longer in the way of sales. In addition, unlike physical PV, these panels can virtually follow you to a new residence, though typically within the same utility area.

Although the formulas for crediting your utility bill (or bank account in the case of Solar Mosaic) will vary by state and utility, one constant remains: Consumers or businesses can buy or lease a part of a large solar PV farm and benefit financially, regardless of location or property ownership.

From a solar market and marketing perspective, the above paragraph is revolutionary. On the surface, community solar models completely democratize solar power. Capital, access to loans, or a good credit score will still be required, but beyond those qualifications, community solar models could be accessible to millions of renters in large urban cities, or even rural off-grid residents who can invest and indirectly save on energy costs via a solar mosaic-type model.

Even more exciting from an untapped solar market perspective is the latest National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) report, which estimates that the annual technical potential in the United States for urban utility-scale PV is 2,232 terawatt-hours (TWh)! For rural utility-scale PV, there is an estimated U.S. technical potential of 280,613 TWh!

Sounds fantastic, eh? But we can’t get giddy just yet.

Four little things stand in the way of solar PV nirvana, and that’s where you, dear solar capitalist reader, will have to roll up your sleeves and work very, very hard. Because, while these models and technical solar potential exist, the industry will have to overcome the following general challenges:

1) Energy politics. California being the leader that it is in solar, I have high confidence that SB 843 will pass both state legislators and be signed by Governor Brown. But the same model will not be adapted in Alabama or Mississippi, or even the blue state of Illinois. Fossil fuel interests and utility monopolies will not see their revenues and market share decrease without a battle with their legislators/regulators and on their local airwaves.

The solution: Diving into energy politics. Solar companies, large and small, can’t sit on the sidelines. Not only must they lobby and get to know their state legislators, they must spend the time to rally public opinion and explain the value of these models. And that brings me to:

2) Public education. Even without mentioning virtual net metering, the vast majority of U.S. rate payers are still believing in the 1980’s mindset of expensive and unreliable solar. Some don’t know the difference between solar PV and solar thermal. While the old mindset is slowing getting modernized, we’re far from there yet. On top of traditional models, now we have to add education about community solar, community solar purchasing versus a leasing model, and the Solar Mosaic option. Solar marketers and educators are already challenged, but sure, let’s pile on community solar.

The solution: Educate customers now. While this may appear to conflict with current sales, the public needs to understand their solar options, as well as be able to support legislative efforts to make virtual net metering available everywhere. To do your part, have a section on your website that explains and keeps track of local community solar initiatives. Link to local community solar advocates who are pushing for your local legislation. Bottom line, explain community solar and get people excited about the concept.

3) Outdated utility business models.  Related to #1, but more specific. American power is currently stuck in a very old business model where a single energy provider collects and distributes grid-connected power to homes and businesses. In Germany, sign a two page agreement, and anyone with a solar panel or wind turbine can sell power to the Utility.  Here in the U.S., the “smart grid” and its related technologies will slowly change the way we create, deliver, consume, and pay for energy, but we’re not even close to any new utility business model. Utilities know they will lose revenue when customers participate in community solar farms. And yet, the grid costs money, especially if it’s to be improved…some day.

The solution: There’s no easy one here. Utilities and solar companies just have to start thinking about creating new energy business models that complement each other. Both businesses need each other for now, although battery storage technology may one day eliminate the need for net metering for some customers. For others, grid-tied storage services and distribution services, either from deserts or rooftops, will be required. Nevertheless, utilities have the monopolies today, and that limits consumer choice. So, until consumers have a choice of distribution services and community solar is available to all, any argument in 2012 that solar customers must pay more for “their fair share” of grid distribution is ridiculous. When the utilities open the doors to true energy choice via community solar, then public utility commissions can discuss consumers paying extra for solar energy transmission and the fair value of that service.

4) Improving grid infrastructure. #3 above is about business models. Here, we have a physical and economic problem. The American grid is old and inefficient. The more solar farms we grow, the more updated smart power technology and power lines will be needed. So, while we may be able to change political minds, educate the public, and create new utility business models, little happens without physically building a new, modern electric grid, especially in rural sunny areas that have the most solar production potential.

The solution: The solutions are 1, 2, and 3 above. Utilities will either need to be forced to create updated grid infrastructure via legislation and taxpayer/ratepayer funding, or they may voluntarily do it with an innovative business model that shows an ROI. Either way, the smart grid and new transmission lines won’t happen without political advocacy, public education, and win-win community solar business models.

Want a great resource for implementing Community Solar? Then go to Vote Solar and see their terrific community solar tool kit.

One more thing about community solar’s main-streaming potential: Besides democratizing the grid and solar power, community solar will benefit all sectors of the solar industry. Obviously, the more solar farms created via new laws, the more solar products manufactured, distributed, sold, and installed, creating jobs and profits.

Implementing community solar not only has growth potential for solar businesses, it’s also a personal goal. Because as much as I’m a part of the solar industry and a passionate solar advocate, I grew up in Manhattan and lived most of my adult life in various Los Angeles residences where solar was either not possible (apartment) or practical (trees). Community solar can change that for me and for millions like me. The change starts with all of us tackling the above steps… and UnThinking Solar.

Tor Valenza a.k.a. “Solar Fred” advises solar companies on marketing, communications, and branding. Contact him through UnThink Solar or follow him on Twitter @SolarFred.

Obama Sets National CHP Target To Increase Industrial Energy Efficiency And Reduce Demand On Oil And Coal

President Obama yesterday signed an executive order that sets a national goal of 40 GW of new combined heat and power (CHP) by the end of 2020. Additionally, the Department of Energy’sBetter Buildings, Better Plants program yesterday announced that five companies — Kingspan Insulated Panels, semiconductor manufacturer Cree, General Aluminum Manufacturing Company, PaperWorks and Harbec, a maker of machine tools and injection-molded plastic parts — have signed on, and committed to improving their energy intensity by 25 percent over 10 years.

Partners in the Better Buildings, Better Plants program have already realized at least $80 million in cost savings, according to the DoE. These actions are expected to save about $1 billion cumulatively by 2020.

The executive order intends to accelerate investments in industrial energy efficiency, which could save manufacturers at least $100 billion in energy costs over the next decade, according to the White House. Meeting the President’s 40 GW CHP goal would mean $40 billion to $80 billion of new capital investment in American manufacturing facilities. But the White House says investments in industrial energy efficiency, including CHP, incur as little as half the cost of traditional forms of new baseload power.

Other benefits include reduced nationwide GHG emissions and enhanced grid security.

The executive order directs agencies to hold ongoing regional workshops with information about best practice, policies and investment models, and directs the EPA, along with the Departments of Energy, Commerce and Agriculture, to coordinate actions at the federal level while providing policy and technical assistance to states to promote investments in industrial energy efficiency.

In support of the executive order, DoE and EPA released a report, Combined Heat and Power: A Clean Energy Solution, that discusses ways to achieve 40 GW of new CHP by 2020. Environmental Leader examines that report in greater detail here.

Obama made the announcement on the day that Mitt Romney accepted the Republican Party’s nomination to run against the president in November, and just two days after the White House finalized a rule to require cars and light trucks to achieve 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025. Reuters said that as Congress has repeatedly blocked Obama’s efforts to pass energy and climate legislation – including measures to encourage investment in CHP – the administration has turned to its executive agencies as a means of achieving its goals.

In his acceptance speech yesterday, Romney said of Obama’s environmental policies, “His assault on coal and gas and oil will send energy and manufacturing jobs to China.”

The global market for commercial CHP systems will reach $11.2 billion by 2022, with 80 GWe installed by that year, according to a report by Pike Research published earlier this month. California has set a goal of 4 GW of new CHP generation in the state by 2020, with 1990 as a baseline.

Harbec, one of the new private sector commitments to the Better Plants program, has set a goal of becoming a carbon neutral company by 2013.

From:

http://www.environmentalleader.com/

President Obama said: Nuclear, Coal, Oil, Natural Gas, Solar Energy, … We Will Need More of Them All. I Say We Need Them All Less.

President Obama

I am not sure if it is the triple catastrophe in Japan, the War in Afghanistan, the unrest in Libya, the Oil Leak in the Gulf, or our own Economic Situation here in the U.S., but it seems to me that we are all paying more attention to where our energy comes from these days.  As you may know, these all ultimately affect our energy supply here and the price we pay for it.  I heard President Obama say in several recent speeches that we will need Coal, Oil, Nuclear, Natural Gas, Solar, Wind, … all of these energy sources to feed our future energy demands.  That currently seems fairly obvious to me, but We MUST also do LESS right Now.

As I understand it, the Human Population  continues to increase around the world every day. This Human Population lives and feeds all off of the same Earth that is not increasing in size.  I also understand that not only is the Human Population rising daily but each humans energy demand on average around the world continues to increase every day.  This must therefore ultimately result in the fact that we humans will continue to need more energy tomorrow than we did yesterday for eternity, OR until something is done to change it.  I am not saying that we should begin to decrease the human population, I am however saying what I rarely hear our political or business leaders saying which is that “Each And Every One Of Us Must Decrease Our Energy Demands NOW!” We need to do LESS, not more more more.

Saying this goes against my college business professors teachings about profitable business practices since my business benefits from Solar Energy sales, and that may be why we are not hearing this from our government and business leaders.  Doing less and using less

Coal Factory Polution

energy doesn’t benefit many governments and businesses that rely or benefit from human energy demands (Oil, Coal, Natural Gas, Nuclear,  …).  I must say this because if we do not start doing less and using less energy now then the world issues mentioned above will continue and continue to increase.

There are many many things we can all do each day to lessen our energy demands on our planet Earth.  I believe it starts first with understanding that YOU must play a part NOW to start saving our planet Earth.  Do not rely on large corporations, government, Sheriff Joe, your Mom, anyone to make you do this.  WE all must begin now to make this change.  So I am going to make it as easy as I can to assist and have listed below 60 Energy Saving Tips you can do around your home, business, etc.   I hope these will help:

60 Energy Saving Tips You Can Use to Start to Lessen Your Energy Demand and Start Saving Money Today.

1.       Reduce Phantom Energy Use – Did you know that electrical appliances that are plugged in to sockets consume energy even when not in use? Leaving every appliance on “standby” can be a real money spender. Make sure to pull as many plugs as you can whenever your appliances aren’t in use. Some stuff must remain plugged in, but items like cell phone chargers, computer peripherals should be unplugged. Try using power strips with and ON/OFF switch to make it easier.

2.       Review the power settings on your computers. Make sure you take advantage of the energy saving mode and put them to sleep

Erus Builders, Solar Photovoltaic Project

when not in use.

3.       Convert your water heater to a Solar Hot Water Heating System. Heating water accounts for 33% of the average home’s monthly energy consumption.

4.       Turn down temperature of water heaters. For each 10ºF reduction in water temperature, you can save between 3%–5% in energy costs – and it will reduce mineral build up and help your water heater last longer. Consult your water heater owner’s manual for instructions on how to operate the thermostat. You can find a thermostat dial for a gas storage water heater near the bottom of the tank on the gas valve. Electric water heaters, on the other hand, may have thermostats positioned behind screw-on plates or panels. As a safety precaution, shut off the electricity to the water heater before removing/opening the panels. Keep in mind that an electric water heater may have two thermostats—one each for the upper and lower heating elements.

5.       If you plan to be away from home for at least 3 days, turn the water heater thermostat down to the lowest setting or completely turn off the water heater. To turn off an electric water heater, switch off the circuit breaker to it. For a gas water heater, make sure you know how to safely relight the pilot light before turning it off.

6.       The openings and leaks in doors and windows create the biggest heat and A/C energy loss in most homes. The stronger the draft is, the longer it will take for homes to be heated or cooled – in addition to the extra work that a heater or an air-conditioning system is doing to regulate the right temperature of the house. In newer homes, the problems may be few as today’s’ builders take more attention to sealing drafts potential areas and slots. Older homes may not be as well sealed. Even if the outer walls are insulated, air leaks often occur around wall outlets, switches and vents that could result in water condensation around these areas. A good foam patch could fix the problem.

7.       Cooking – There are a number of techniques for saving energy in the kitchen. Although you won’t save as much with cooking as some of our other tips, it all ads up.

8.       Use your microwave! There is excellent microwave cookware available today and it really improves the outcome of microwave cooking.

9.       Use a crock pot and a microwave oven for baking. These are the cheapest ways to bake.

10.   Open the oven door only when necessary. Oven temperature drops 25-30 degrees every time you open the door. Instead, use the oven light and glass window in the door to check on your food without opening the door.

11.   Use glass and ceramic pans when baking. They retain heat better than metal pans and allow you to lower the baking temperature by 25 degrees.

12.   Isolate the kitchen. If the oven is on for an hour or more, close doors leading to the kitchen to keep the kitchen from heating up the rest of the house. If you have a stove exhaust fan, use it.

13.   CFL light bulbs are BIG energy savers. Compact florescent Light bulbs (also known as Carbon Fluorescent Lamps) can reduce your lighting energy costs by over 60%. They cost more than regular incandescent light bulbs, but you’ll be saving more than the difference on your electric bill, AND they last for 10 years or more so you don’t need to replace them nearly as often. Replacing a single 75 watt bulb with its CFL equivalent saves $22.00 per year. Multiply that by all the light bulbs you burn and it adds up fast.

14.   Here’s one for the near future. Keep an eye out for LED lighting. The “Super LEDs” are starting to hit the home stores and these will be far superior to CFL bulbs in terms of energy used and they’ll last almost forever. Some people don’t like the quality of light they give off at first, but you get used to it pretty quickly.

15.   Clean appliances regularly. Dirt and dust interferes with the efficiency of appliances. Also, allow about four inches of distance between the wall and appliances that generate heat in the summer months to prevent your walls from retaining the heat.

16.   When replacing appliances, always try to buy the most energy efficient models available. All appliances are labeled with this information today and it is simple to comparison shop. These seem to last longer too for some reason.

17.   Keeping an old model refrigerator increases your monthly energy bill by as much as $80. The newer models are energy efficient and run cooler – they don’t release as much heat into the room. Positioned the refrigerator away from other heat radiating appliances like the dishwasher or ovens and stoves. Even a single thin base cabinet between the fridge and stove will improve energy efficiency.

18.   If you maintain the temperature of the refrigerator at the right level, you can save as much as 25% on energy consumption. Most people run their refrigerator too cold. Gradually turn the temperature up over several days until you reach a setting that still sufficiently cools.  Surprisingly, the half-way setting is usually good enough.

19.   Often you can simply replace the door gaskets on older refrigerators and/or freezers and achieve some degree of energy savings. There are kits available for this project at most home centers or through appliance repair shops.

20.   Air drying your dishes will save energy instead of putting them inside the dishwasher. Even if you use the dishwasher, turn off the heated dry function on and you will save between 15% and 50% of the energy used in the dishwashing cycle. There may be a few more spots on the glasses than usual, but they will be just as clean.

21.   Clothes dyers use a lot of energy. Whenever possible, air or sun drying should be done.

22.   Washing laundry in cold water saves 75% of the energy used.

23.   Also, make sure you do full loads of laundry and wash less often.  When you must do a smaller load, remember to adjust the water level and machine settings.

24.   Shades and curtains are a good way to regulate the temperature and let the light in a room.

25.   Adding a reflective stick on tinting film boosts the savings even more.

26.   Most homes in the colder regions now have double or triple pane replacement windows. If yours doesn’t, eventually your windows will need replaced. When they do, definitely spend the extra money.  You’ll get it back in reduced heating costs.

27.   In the winter time, remember to close the damper in your fireplace when not in use to keep the drafts out and to keep your heat from escaping up the chimney. Just remember to open it again before you light another fire!

28.   In many parts of the country, ceiling fans are enough to cool a home that is well insulated.

29.   Trees, vines and shrubs around a house can provide strategic shade to help in cooling your home. Windows and roofs may absorb heat and, consequently increase your air conditioning bill. Incorporating trees in your house landscape may reduce these cooling costs. I’ve seen estimates as high as 10%.

30.   Buy energy efficient office equipment – computers, fax machines, scanners, printers, monitors and multifunction devices (scanner, copier, and fax). Some ENERGY STAR office equipment can save as much as 90% of the standard energy consumption. Most ENERGY STAR office equipments consume 50% less energy.

31.   An ENERGY STAR computer is 70% more energy efficient than computers without this designation.

32.   Some office equipment that does not have to be turned on all the time should be shut down and unplugged because they still draw power when turned off.

33.   Turn off the computer monitor if you are going for a break.

34.   Manually turn off your computer if you are leaving for an hour or more.

35.   Avoid using screensavers because they consume the same amount of energy as with normal computer use. Activating the computer’s sleep mode is also a better way to save energy.

36.   Do not believe that office equipment should always be turned on because it will last longer. Practicing this belief may only result to higher electric bills.

37.   On your next upgrade, consider buying a laptop as a computer replacement. They consume less energy than desktop computers and have become just as powerful.

38.   When the battery chargers are not in use or if the batteries are fully charged, unplug the charger immediately.

39.   Set up your home office where you can utilize the natural light to minimize the use of lamps and room lights.

40.   If you are working at night, Use a desk lamp with CFL that consume less energy instead of using overhead room lights.

41.   Consider replacing your home’s thermostat with a digital programmable upgrade. These are usually available for under $100 and can easily pay for themselves over less than a year. They can be programmed to change the temperature during certain times of day (example, reducing the heat or A/C during the day when nobody is home, and then raising it 30 minutes before you get home. Same can be done for nighttime when everyone is asleep).

42.   Replace the filters on your home’s heating and cooling systems monthly.

43.   Insulate – Attics and crawl spaces should be insulated with fiberglass batting.  Expanding foam is great for gaps and openings all around the house. Only 20% of homes built before 1980 are well insulated.

44.   Education – Teaching your kids the importance of saving energy should be your first goal. Take note that making them understand the value of being energy efficient is more effective than enumerating the ways to save energy and leaving it at that. Teach them how conserving energy helps the environment. Tell them stories or read educational books about the importance of energy.

45.   Lead by example – Practice what you preach. You may have listed and posted a litany of things-to-do to conserve energy but if you don’t follow them yourself, you cannot expect your kids to follow it too. Do not just tell them to turn the lights off before leaving their room; show them by always turning the lights off every time you leave a room in your house. Education and leading by example are a good combination if you want to make good habits stick.

46.   Make it fun – Find educational materials where your kids will learn the value of conserving energy as well as the ways to do it.

47.   Get your kids involved – Have them help with energy saving DIY projects around the house.

48.   Teach your kids according to their age – Kids of different ages have different attitude on things around them. If your 5-year son doesn’t know how to turn off the lights before leaving the room, all you need to do is to talk to him well about its importance and showing him that you practice what you teach. Here are some easy ones:

a.       Turn off the water while brushing your teeth.

b.      Always turn the lights off before leaving the room.

c.       Turn the computer off after use.

d.      Do not hold the refrigerator open.

49.   Remember the push mower? Seriously! They work great on a smaller lawn and it is really kind of fun. Plus, it is also good exercise.

50.   Rake your leaves instead of vacuuming or mowing them. There is also a sense of nostalgia in using this traditional tool.

51.   Go Solar.

52.   Where is your thermostat? Is it by a part of the house that gets cooler or hotter than the rest? If so, try to block that area off or relocate the thermostat.  If your thermostat is by a drafty basement or front door, or window, you might have the same problem in the winter time.

53.   If the temperature outside is comfortably warm or cold, turn off your heating or cooling system.

54.   During heat season, open the drapes of the south-facing windows to allow natural light to enter your home.

55.   Close the curtains at night to prevent cool winds from coming in.

56.   During winter, keep the drapes and shades closed to help reduce heat loss.

57.   Eat Salads – On hot summer days, grill some chicken breasts on the George and have a big salad. Avoid running the oven or cook-top. Save Energy, keep the house cooler – Its all good.

58.   Washing your clothes in cold water will reduce washer’s energy consumption by as much as 90%. Air drying eliminates the energy use for machine drying.

59.   Check for leaks and cracks in the gasket around refrigerator doors.  Make sure that your refrigerator is completely sealed to maintain the temperature inside.

60.   Perform a web-based home energy audit at http://www.energysavers.gov/your_home/energy_audits/index.cfm/mytopic=11160 , compliments of the U.S Dept of Energy.

Thank you very much for taking the time to read this and more importantly thank you for doing your part to reverse our human energy demands on our planet.  Feel free to add tips you would like to share in the comments below.

Jimi Holt

Erus Builders

Arizona should take advantage of Utility Company rebates for Solar PV and Thermal Systems before they are gone.

Solar Photovoltaic (PV) System

Last week Salt River Project (SRP) announced that they lowered their solar rebates for residential solar photovoltaic systems installed within their service area in Arizona.  They decreased the rebate amount offered from $2.15 per watt to $1 per watt.  If you have been paying attention to solar rebates in Arizona then you likely have noticed that they have continued to decrease, at least the offerings from both major utility companies, SRP and APS.  Therefore, it is likely that the solar rebates in Arizona will soon be eliminated altogether for residential customers so if you plan to have a solar photovoltaic or solar thermal system installed on your home then now may be the best time.

Going Green Solar and Erus Builders latest Solar Photovoltaic and Solar Thermal System Installations. Our customers took advantage of the current Solar Photovoltaic and Solar Water Heater opportunities.

Solar Electric Photovoltaic System roof modules
Solar Electric Photovoltaic System roof modules

Going Green Solar and Erus Builders have partnered to offer an opportunity for homeowners in Arizona to reduce the cost of their energy bills by having a Solar Energy System installed.  With current local Utility Rebates and Tax Incentives a Solar Photovoltaic (PV) System along with a Solar Water Heating System will quickly pay for itself and start to make you money.  We offer multiple financing options which, in many cases, the payment will be offset by the savings from the solar systems. Please contact us for a free energy audit and education on our energy saving systems.

Erus Builders and Going Green Solar decided to work with Enphase Energy on our Solar PV Systems due to their cutting edge micro-inverter technology.  This new concept is more efficient than standard Photovoltaic inverter systems and easier to design and install and is rapidly changing the solar photovoltaic industry. Please contact us for additional information.

Solar PV and Solar Water Heating System
Solar PV and Solar Water Heating System

Local utility companies continue to raise their price for electricity to us and the solar rebates they offer are continually decreasing.  This opportunity to get free money from them is running out so please take advantage now to create a free asset for yourself that will continue to pay you as long as the sun continues to shine.

Contact:  Jim Holt at jamesholt@cox.net and 480-580-5980.