Leaders from around the world have gathered in Paris for the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 21), with the goal of negotiating a binding, universal agreement on measures to reduce human-caused climate change.
These world leaders will try to build consensus on measures to bring Earth’s temperatures down to 3.6 degrees above pre-industrial levels. Though it won’t be easy, the assembled business leaders, policymakers and heads of state believe it’s critical to the survival of the planet that these actions be embraced by every country. While we can’t predict what the outcome of these negotiations will be, it’s clear the United States must lead on this issue—and that’s where you can act for your business, no matter what happens at COP 21.
According to expert estimates, the U.S. has approximately 50 billion square feet of commercial rooftop space, about 25 percent of which is suitable for solar installations. If you assume a production capacity of around 10 watts per square foot, those commercial rooftops could produce nearly 125 GW of clean power—nearly seven times what’s currently installed in the entire U.S.
A commercial rooftop is defined as a rooftop that’s not on a residence; in other words, the definition covers markets that you wouldn’t traditionally think of as commercial. For example, solar serves retailers, farmers, hospitality, businesses, office complexes, hospitals, warehouses, government and schools—and that’s not even a complete list.
Leading national consumers of commercial solar like Apple, Google, IKEA and Walmart have already realized that solar installations reduce utility bills and cut carbon emissions, and they’ve invested heavily in putting solar arrays on buildings throughout their operations.
So how much can your business make a difference in terms of carbon reductions if you install solar panels? That answer depends on many factors, but let’s be clear: Every reduction in carbon-based energy counts for our planet. For the sake of simplicity, here are three scenarios for three solar installations:
If you install a 1 MW solar array on the roof of your Southern California business, each year you’ll reduce carbon emissions that are the equivalent of 100,000 gallons of gas consumed or 963,000 pounds of coal burned.
A 750 kW system each year eliminates carbon emissions equivalent to 75,000 gallons of gas consumed or 722,000 pounds of coal burned.
A 500 kW system each year eliminates carbon emissions equivalent to 50,000 gallons of gas consumed or 481,000 pounds of coal burned.
(Calculations based on equivalence data from the Environmental Protection Agency)
Putting a solar system on your business isn’t only about protecting the environment. After all, installing a solar system is a business investment and, like any other investment, you should expect a return. A solar installation could help you reduce your utility bills: the exact amount that you’ll be able to save will depend on a number of factors, including which utility serves you, its electricity rates and your business’ energy consumption. In addition, a commercial solar installation would serve as a powerful demonstration of your company’s commitment to sustainability and climate change.
The Bottom Line
As world leaders find common ground to break the international impasse on bringing human-induced climate change under control, let them know how serious you are about climate change by making a difference in your own company and local communities. Installing a solar array is a good first step to providing future generations with a livable planet.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
Many people in the U.S. can produce more than half their domestic hot water needs with a solar hot water system. In
Arizona and other southern regions of the US this can be more than 80% savings. A solar hot water system costs more than a conventional water heater, typically between $7,000 and $8,000. However, after rebates and tax incentives the cost to the client for a new solar hot water heater including a new tank is $2 – 3,000. Homeowners may want to budget for routine maintenance on some units to include periodic checks on the pH of the system’s with glycol solution.
A gas water heater should never be used as the only tank in a solar hot water system. In a solar storage tank, water stratifies by temperature; cool water from the bottom of the tank is pulled up to the collectors on the roof to be heated then returned to the top of the tank. The colder the incoming water, the higher the solar collector’s efficiency. In a single tank system, the electric element or gas flame keeps the stored water hot, leaving no cold water available to send to the solar collectors. Solar hot water systems can be either active or passive. Most solar hot water systems use a pump to move fluid through one or two collectors. Thermosiphon systems, suitable for simple domestic hot water systems in frost-free climates, rely on natural convection to move water.
As mentioned above, in most cases, credits or rebates can defray some of the cost of installing a solar water heater and are available from local utilities or state and federal governments. Solar
systems offer stability and predictability when it comes to energy costs and supply. That’s not something that any system running on fossil fuels can match.