Archive for the ‘Energy conservation’ Category

Windows: Light versus Heat Loss or Gain

July 11, 2012

Windows are the worst energy leakers you can ever have in any house. Natural light is great but it comes at great cost. They let too much heat inside in the summer and too much cold inside in the winter. Doing anything is better than nothing. Just stretching plastic over them or hanging a blanket over them is better than doing nothing.

The best way to deal with it is to get the best windows that you can and use a thermal barrier or shutter. There are attractive roll up thermal shades that are made of comforter or winter jacket like material (thinsulate, etc.). They are usually or shall I say best mounted on tracks to seal the window on cold nights or hot days. Some are manually operated (cranked up and down) and some are electrically operated. The advantage to these are the roll up storage. Cons are expensive and lower R values.

Over the last few years, I have been experimenting with a rigid, heavy sandwich type of window plug. And here is the article about them that I promised a long time ago when I answered some wiki questions. They are constructed of a 2″ foam core (Owens corning formular 150 R-10) with thin white hardboard glued to each side. I live in a condo so it has to be aesthetically pleasing and look like a shade or blind when viewing it from the outside. I left the inside facing board white (as my walls are white). You can however, paint it to match your walls or do a number of other treatments such as fabric or even put art or posters on it. Imagination is your only limit. I wish I could get some sort of high temp, white lightweight plastic instead of the wood because of all the problems I’ve had with the wood. The experiments that I’ve done with the thin white pressed wood material is reacting with the condensed water (water vapor gets in there no matter what I done so far) from each night and the brutal heat of the day to produce unexpected mold and chemical smells (produces a nice stink).

Advantage is the high R value (I will get an R12-15 with the air gap and high performance windows). Disadvantage is weight and storage. I created one piece, no hinge “plugs” for my windows. These are very heavy and clumsy to move on the big window. I have to store them behind book cases and the sofa when not in use. The advantage to this is fewer gaps and that means a greater seal and less heat loss. More convenient and attractive options are available.

So far I have found challenges with the edge seal, water vapor and heat. The edges of the plug need to be angled and weatherproofed so the unit wedges tightly so there is very little air leaking in or out of the gaps. Weatherstripping is important as I have had a huge problem with both moisture accumulation and heat buildup. Moisture trapped in the air gap condenses at night causing water to pool or even freeze in winter. Mold and other fungal problems will result if you don’t address these issues. I am experimenting with different colors and materials as well to address these obstacles. For example, I thought black would be a great color for winter as it looks good from the outside (Wisconsin winter gets very cold but very sunny days after a snowstorm and high pressure moves in) but there was sufficient heat to melt the foam even on fairly cold days. White is better since I’m not trying to duct the heat inside.  No matter how cool that may sound, the technical challenges are way beyond the scope of this simple experiment.

Unfortunately, in the end conservation is a luxury for those with the will and resources to execute it unless forced upon us or incentivised by local, state or federal cash . I have suspended testing due to the need to make more money just to survive these days.

Late to the party- what a year!

December 23, 2009

Bigger cars- give the people what they want

What a year. I like to take a few moments and reflect on the recent past. And what a year it was! After thinking about all that has happened, I’d like to finally spend a few minutes ranting about the ghost of Christmas past—the lame attempt at bailing out GM and Chrysler. I am sooooo sick of hearing stupid people talk about this (mostly politicians). Listen up! You, the American people, bought bigger and bigger cars and trucks that used lots of fuel- the kind that sucked it, gulped it, and jammed it down their engines and now the price goes up and you want to dump them but no one’s buying? Well boo-hoo.

We had to bail out Wall Street or we’d all be at the soup kitchen right now but when it came to bailing out our auto makers you said let them eat cake- they can go bankrupt. They were stupid. Stupider than the foreign auto makers that were breaking ground for new giant truck, minivan and SUV plants all over the USA to try and keep up with the demand? They ALL produced a supply of a product that was in great demand and made good money while they did it. Wow that sounds dumb (wait a minute –it doesn’t).

Gas guzler Honda Ridgeline

Is this a Chevy Avalanch?

The people have spoken. Idiot savants without the savant part. You are telling me that you are the same people that couldn’t get a big enough SUV, a big enough truck or a big enough car just a few years ago? And then when the oil gamblers (speculators) drove the price per barrel into the sky now you wanted them (the big 3) to magically and instantly build small cars? And now you don’t want to bail them out because they make domestic products right here in the USA and provide jobs?

I thought mind reading was fakery but I guess you all believe it’s true. Somehow you expected the big 3 to read your minds, look into some business crystal ball and see not only the economic crash but also that the oil prices were going to skyrocket because of speculation (read that greed).

GM and Chrysler can't move that fast

Titanic challenges lie ahead for GM and Chrysler

Note to readers: Big things don’t react fast. The Titanic tried to steer around an iceberg once. How did that work for them? Not so good. GM, Ford and Chrysler are HUGE companies. Cars and trucks and yes, your favorite pig (oops- I mean big) SUVs, take years to design, test and manufacture. Surprise spoiler here—it doesn’t happen overnight. Yes the sad fact that is that no one was buying all those little  “green” cars that are now flying off the shelves. Why should the US auto manufacturers have made those puny little deathtraps that provide NO PROFIT????? Not any reasons that I can think of. Oh by the way, the profit margins on the behemoths are HUGE!!! So, we have carmakers providing a product that they can’t make enough of and selling them to buyers that want them bad and they are selling like crazy all at the same time making all their stock holders VERY HAPPY!

Americans want BIG STUFF! We don’t want little puny cars. We will buy them screaming and kicking but we really don’t want to. We want to destroy anything that we hit. By the way, what was that thump sound that I heard? Never mind, kick up the ear-bleeder 10,000 a notch and hit the gas. Yeee-ha! We want to drive our hummers through the worst of storms in all our four wheel drive glory. I wanna drive through a blizzard and smash little cars. I wanna drive through Katrina get my Big Gulp and Big Mac AND supersize those for me while you’re at it! And hurry up- be quick about it. I’m on my way to my new 6000 square-foot home.

Ugly AND Unfulfilling – Beauty is in the eye of the beholder…

April 16, 2009
Architect Kyu Sung Woo designed the three modernist metal and wood houses which allowed his family to live together in Vermont. © Tim Hursley/The Arkansas Office

Architect Kyu Sung Woo designed the three modernist metal and wood houses which allowed his family to live together in Vermont. © Tim Hursley/The Arkansas Office

I just read an article in the Wall Street Journal (http://online.wsj.com/) called “An extended family’s modernist, off-the-grid retreat”. They make a big deal about how “Architect Kyu Sung Woo fulfilled a decades-old promise to create a place for his family to live together when he completed a compound of three homes in Vermont last summer. It blends architectural traditions of New England and Korea.”

What can I say but not very impressive. Stacked double-wide mobile home comes to mind. As you can see in this blog, I have some previous postings on some truly unique solutions such as the houses created by Living Homes (although I prefer earth sheltered homes as the ultimate design challenge). This home has some solar and a generator. No geothermal, no wind-nada. Big deal. Oh and did I mention that all the living modules are all only 15 feet wide so they get maximum exposure on the North side for maximum energy loss?

“In 2003, Kyu Sung Woo bought 250 acres of virgin forest near Putney, a rural town of 2,600 in Vermont.” So this guy wipes out all the virgin timber and erects a modern eyesore in the middle of a pristine wilderness. A shelter that was one with nature would have been more appropriate and less an insult (think about American architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s summer home, Taliesin, near Spring Green, Wisconsin). Perhaps a home that was integrated into the countryside like an underground house or earth bermed shelter nestled into the virgin forest would have been fitting. Now that would have been an impressive feat. This is neither impressive nor unique. Since the structures are only 15 feet wide they would have been perfectly suited for a much more impressive endeavor. Being underground or earth bermed would have made this house an energy efficient architectural marvel. There is nothing really new or unique about this structure. This thing can be tossed in with all the rest of the average modernist house designs.

Come on Wall Street Journal, I expect better from you… slow news day? Don’t worry, just kidding, I love the giant wine tunnel article- “A Family’s Adventures Underground -The Palmazes dreamed of a 100,000-square-foot wine cave. The neighbors weren’t happy.”

(see: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123085057130947469-search.html?KEYWORDS=wine+cave&COLLECTION=wsjie/6month).

Same old poop, different day…

April 7, 2009

 

 

stinky-coal-and-the-earth

 

If you have been watching any public television at all over the last several months you’d think that the oil companies are single-handedly saving the world.  Exxon, BP, Chevron and probably others, have their own little infomercials at the beginning of many PBS programs.  They claim to the working on all sorts of new alternative energy programs and conservation programs.  They also claim to be concerned about global warming and claim to be doing something about it. 

Today, however, I read in the New York Times that these ads (about solar, wind, etc) are mostly lip service.  All the big oil guys are still spending most of their money on the old stinky fossil fuels that will increase global warming, raise ocean levels and basically destroy the planet.  Thanks guys!  I’m so happy you’re doing your part to insure that we have an interesting future, to say the least.

In addition, the article states that big oil companies are just not ready to invest in these new technologies.  But it did say that the big oil companies will invest much more into these new technologies (probably, maybe) in the next 10 years.  It will be too little too late.  Again, we’re setting a great example for India and China (and we’ll be the first ones to complain about it). 

To read the entire New York Times article see:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/08/business/energy-environment/08greenoil.html?hp

 

 

JCE

Airplane beats Prius MPG

January 26, 2009
Over 50 MPG at 200 MPH!
Over 50 MPG at 200 MPH!

 

 At speeds close to 200 miles per hour this Aircraft gets over 50 miles per gallon. When Klaus Savier throttles back to extended range, he gets about 100 mpg. Not bad.

Economy like this could be easily achieved throughout our entire general aviation fleet.  But it will never happen.  FAA regulations governing the fleet, combined with the difficulty and cost involved in getting a pilot’s license, keep the total number of aircraft quite small.  Without a large volume of consumers or government assistance there just isn’t any money in it. 

And without profit, private industry won’t touch it.  Therefore, it is quite surprising to find a guy like Klaus Savier, owner of Light Speed Engineering.  

Through a labor of love, this aeronautical innovator, based out of Santa Paula Airport in Southern California, has been setting speed and efficiency records for over 20 years in his experimental airplane. The plane demonstrates technology products that could improve the reliability and efficiency of the entire GA fleet.

Although his airplane only carries 30 gallons of fuel, Savier has flown it nonstop from Southern California to Oshkosh, Wis. (1,751 miles) and nonstop from Southern California to Panama City, Fla. (1,956 miles).   

Beats the pants off a Prius!

Brave new electric world

December 1, 2008

23_MINI_E.jpg

Happy Thanksgiving everyone, I hope you had a great holiday.

I have already experienced how much fun it is to drive BMW’s MINI Cooper and soon I could be driving one of the most environmentally friendly efficient cars at the same time.

I had read the news that BMW was soon to introduce an all-electric version of the MINI but I wasn’t going to get my hopes up.  The new electric-powered MINI E, however, as displayed at the 2008 Los Angeles Auto Show, just blew me away.  If they can keep the costs under control, this car will be a true winner.  It can go 0 to 62 in 8.5 seconds, travel 150 miles on a single charge, and reach a top speed of 95 miles an hour.

The first version will carry two passengers and will require an additional “fast charge” box that will reduce charged time to about 2 ½ hours.

Happy motoring!

 

JCE

Current Issues Facing Obama as President- Part One: Globalization

November 21, 2008

earth-from-apollo171I just finished watching Barack Obama’s “60 Minutes” interview via YouTube; talk about a flaming bag of problems on your White House porch.  Obama is really going to have his hands full (and perhaps his shoes).  He is going to have to deal with a United States in shambles.  We have an economic crisis not seen since the Great Depression, an ongoing energy crisis, several wars (war on drugs, war on terror, war in Iraq, and war in Afghanistan), a healthcare crisis, globalization and free trade, illegal immigration, and an education crisis.

Although this is a lot to have on anyone’s plate, many of these issues have links to each other.  So let’s look at a few of these over the next several days.

 

Globalization, free trade, poison milk, energy and pollution

Globalization and free trade help to improve the standard of living in other countries and brings the world together by sharing economic ties. Every day more and more US jobs move to China, India, and other developing countries.  We import much more than we export and waste so much more than the rest of the world’s countries that we should probably buy another country so we have a place big enough for our giant landfill.  Our filthy wasteful habits set a poor example for the rest of the world.  We are going to have to do better.

 

We need to transition to clean renewable energy sources and help our trading partners to do the same.  We also need to help our trading partners to establish or improve product quality monitoring systems so we can reduce or eliminate dangerous imported goods (like those irresistibly fun lead-painted toys, or that delicious melamine-laced Chinese milk).

 

Many of these job losses are inevitable as the world evolves.  Like most of you, I do not enjoy troubleshooting a problem that I am having with a new product via the telephone to a distant country. I do, however, enjoy the challenge of learning a new language at the same time as much as any other guy. But what happens if I’m the guy that that used to work in the customer service center here in the U.S., and now my job has been outsourced to another country?  I’m going to need another job.  Maybe I’ll go into politics.

 

Therefore, it will be necessary to create retraining programs for our displaced workers (and it needs to begin NOW).  With proper government incentives and funding, new industries can be created to supply clean energy to our growing nation.  Transitional training and educational programs will be required to supply workers for these clean energy industries. With proper planning and foresight, both issues (displaced workers and need for clean energy) can be handled for the benefit of all if these workers are trained and educated to handle and work in the field of clean energy.  But that’s the crux:  will we have the proper planning and foresight, both for the sake of the individual workers and for the future of our country?

 

The simple act of transporting goods from faraway places creates countless tons of unnecessary pollution. A semi-reliable flow of cheap energy has created fragile supply chains that go from your local Wal-Mart all the way back to China.  Our food supplies typically come from 1500 miles away.  My socks might come from 3000 miles away, my computer might come from 8000 miles away, and my technical support call to fix my computer might be answered by a person 7000 miles away.  There are many, many products that can be manufactured and serviced for a lot less money and a lot more efficiently in another country like China or India.  And as these countries grow, so do the amount of jokes that we tell about them. But hey let’s face it, we Americans are a lot easier to poke fun at, being the hypocrites that we are.

 

The explosive growth of economies like those of India and China are generating more and more unregulated pollution and greenhouse gases every day.  Providing incentives to reduce this behavior and clean up the world would be a step in the right direction.  Hopefully the countries that are going through the same transition from agricultural to industrial nations as we did don’t make the same mistakes.  I would hate to see any country squander their resources, pollute their water, and pollute their air like we did.  I hope they can learn from our mistakes and we can teach them what we’ve learned.  It costs a lot more to fix it after it is broken than it does if you’d taken care of it all along andfda-in-china3 not let a break in the first place.

 

In addition to the pollution that the factories create for the improved health and enjoyment of their country’s citizens, the products themselves are often tainted or poisoned.  Rewarding good behavior usually gets better results than punishing bad behavior. In China, however, this has not been the case.  According to the Washington Post, in just four months the FDA rejected about 300 food products only to have the same products be resubmitted two or three times (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/05/19/AR2007051901273.html).  You have to wonder what they were thinking.  Were they trying to slip them past the FDA when they were on break?  Maybe it was a quality assurance test or perhaps an episode of “Candid Camera”.  In response to incidents such as these, the FDA has established inspection offices in China. And according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the first of these offices opened up in Beijing this month (http://www.hhs.gov/news/press/2008pres/11/20081118a.html).

 

With the Republicans’ demands for deregulation and small government being enacted year after year, you have to wonder how this skeleton crew of FDA workers is going to protect us from the billions of products that come from China every year when they can’t even prevent an E. coli breakout in our home country.

 

Heaven help us.

 

JCE

Livinghomes

November 14, 2008

livinghomes-grow_with_you

Today I watched an episode of Wired Science on PBS.  They were talking about this super-green house that was made by a company called Livinghomes.  It was kind of an old episode so the company’s been in business for quite some time now.  It was particularly interesting to me because they incorporated a lot of my ideas into the homes that they build so I must be on the right track. Steve Glenn is the owner and he has put everything green, renewable, and sustainable that you could think of into the houses that he builds. 

He starts out with a modular constructed home that is prefabricated in a factory to reduce onsite construction costs and pollution caused by trucks.  And on the inside of the house they make sure to use nontoxic building materials, substances, paints, coatings and furniture so the house doesn’t have all the poisonous fumes and toxic molds that many of the new tight houses have associated with them.  Hopefully all houses that are built above ground will be built like this soon.

Here is a partial summary of Steve’s house from the show:

The living homes demonstration house is 2480 square foot in size.  It is 80% more efficient than a conventional structure of similar size.

It costs $390 per square foot to build, some 25% less than typical high and construction in the neighborhood (in California).  This is the first home to receive the platinum LEED standard set by the nonprofit United States Green Building Council.

Solar panels on the roof provide 80 to 85% of the energy needed for the house.  A Solar hot water heating system is also mounted on the roof.  This provides all the hot water necessary for the house including items such as the shower and washing machine.  In addition, this system also provides all the energy needed for the radiant heating system embedded in the floor of each room.

A water recycling system and a rainwater collection system provides irrigation water to a rooftop garden.

 

 

Opinion: Obama is the Clear Energy Winner

November 3, 2008

Senator John McCain and Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s mantra is “drill, baby, drill.” This is inarguably short-sighted, foolish AND more irrelevant as oil prices fall.

 

It would take the oil companies 10 years to put the entire infrastructure into place to extract that oil that McCain is talking about.  The United States consumes the most oil of any country and contributes the most pollution.  Now that oil prices are falling consumers seem to be going right back to their old habits as pickup trucks and SUV sales are climbing.

 

When I look at Obama’s plan, I see a clear long-term vision that will put us in the winner’s circle as a nation.  His energy policies will reduce our dependency on foreign oil (see my posts on both of the candidates’ policies).

 

The housing crisis was the last blow that triggered the financial meltdown.  But the rising energy costs were the first blow that knocked us down because the energy costs drastically reduced our discretionary spending. 

 

Obama’s energy policy is much clearer than McCain’s.  The Obama energy plan provides the clearest vision by explaining how he would support alternative energy, renewable energy, solar energy, and wind energy.  The energy crisis will not be resolved without sacrifice and energy conservation.  Barack Obama deals more intelligently with oil and coal.

 

When I look at the energy policy of the McCain campaign, I see the energy policies of the Bush administration.  President Bush and John McCain have the Iraq war as part of their energy policy.  Oil is king.  Deregulation (part of the Bush Doctrine) is also part of the McCain doctrine. This is what caused the energy crisis and subsequent housing meltdown in the first place.  If elected, the McCain legacy will morph right into Bush’s energy legacy.

 

But when it comes to energy policies and Obama and McCain (or Obama vs. McCain), the McCain/Palin camp just doesn’t get it. Obama/Biden does.

 

Don’t get me wrong: I like some of John McCain’s energy policies.  But overall they are inferior to Obama’s.  McCain’s campaign has not convinced me that they will fix the current problems and get us out of this mess.

 

When you vote, consider the fact that the economy will improve over time.  Global warming, left unchecked, will destroy our future and most likely plunge our country into another economic (perhaps permanent) crisis.  That is why, in the 2008 presidential election, I support Barack Obama.

 

JCE

Note: All comments that do not pertain to the candidates’ energy policies will not be posted.

Update to the 2010 VW super efficient diesel that gets over 200 MPG

October 30, 2008

I found some more new pictures of the Volkswagen super diesel production model on Motor Authority:(http://www.motorauthority.com/vw-boss-confirms-1-liter-car-for-2010.html).

 It’s still going to be a two seat tandem and it’s still going to get 235 MPG but now it’s going to be a hybrid diesel. They don’t expect to sell too many so they are only making 1000 of them.

Since they are handmade in the prototype shop they expect the price to be fairly high at $31,400 to $47,100. But I suppose when people are paying $20,000 to $30,000 for a Harley Davidson motorcycle I suppose this isn’t too far out of line. The vehicle is so small that some are concerned that the car may not pass the safety tests required for on-road use. But since the vehicle has tandem seating, a slight redesign could make it into a three wheeler. By putting a single wheel in the rear it would become a motorcycle and not be required to be held to the same safety standards as an automobile.