I have written about LED lighting before, saying “Not there yet” — my most recent checkup was about 18 months ago.
There’s some progress, but we’re still not quite there. Home Depot is selling a Philips LED light bulb: same brightness as a 60W incandescent bulb (in other words, dim), same shape as standard A19 bulb, same color temperature and color rendering index, and dimmable, uses 12W, and lasts for 25,000 hours — Cost: $40.
A comparable CFL, (although not dimmable) costs about $1.50 and uses 13W and lasts 8,000 hours.
A comparable incandescent costs around $1 and uses 60W and lasts about 1,000 hours.
Some math. Compared to incandescent:
CFL and LED both use about 1/5th as much electricity
Last week, it was colder outside than the temperature inside my fridge and freezer … but the fridge kept running — why can’t it use the cold air from outside? And while I am asking questions, why do I need a humidifier in winter while exhausting that nice, hot, humid air from our showers outside with a fan? Or, that nice hot humid air from the dryer — big plumes of hot air into the icy cold? It smells nice, too.
Our homes and their appliances are dumb as stumps. Or, is it us?
To be sure, the bathroom exhaust fan is not a simple problem — there are indeed times when that which is being exhausted is, um, best left outside.
But the clothes dryer — if you put in a dryer sheet, you’re sending nice smelling, warm, humid air outside (and, by blowing air outside through one hole, it is replaced by sucking in cold, dry, outside air through some other leak or hole). The fridge is even more perverse: 20°F outside, and the motor is running? Huh?
Afraid To Be Too Smart
Of course the reason for these inefficiencies is simply that adding smarts to appliances increases complexity, and that increases cost. (more…)
A while back, I had an energy audit and found that my house leaked like a sieve — a condition that left our efforts to insulate, replace windows, replace the gas burner and so on all waiting for me to wake up and smell the … fresh outdoor air.
The whole house fan was one big remaining hole that I proudly asserted having fixed for $20 — I had built a box out of insulating foam board. I had put a nice cover over the fan, box corners sealed with duct tape, and made a nice seal between the cover and the floor. But the follow-up blower-door test showed: it was still a big hole in the house. By that winter, I knew — I could put my hand up and feel the cool air tumbling down from the attic. For another $8 I fixed the rest of the problem this fall. (more…)
Perhaps no longer profitable? Perhaps a liability? Perhaps a PR fiasco (recall that Massey owned the mine in which 29 miners died in an explosion in April.) Nah, in this case Massey “continues to believe the mine is safe”. Yep. Right.
Perhaps someone’s Canary Collection was being depleted more quickly than desired? I dunno.
If you are amongst the wealthy North Shore Bostonian yachtsmen, you’ll have a mooring in Marblehead harbor — if you are amongst the still wealthy-but-not-that-wealthy, you’ll have a mooring in Salem harbor, around the corner. You’ll have a view of the Salem power plant — one of the larger polluting and least efficient coal plants in the area.
Recently, the owner of the plant said it would shut down. Woo hoo!
We have announced that our two coal plants will shut down in the future when environmental rules are clear. The first is Salem Harbor in the Northeast
In other words … never?
Cap and trade would be nice. Carbon tax would be nifty. Acknowledgement that industry wants legislative leadership and is hamstrung without it would be (in the words of our local weather forecaster) ducky!
And then you should think a little. Actually, think a lot, for this movie is very clever, I think.
The movie is well-crafted, if not as slickly produced as movies such as Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth. In particular, Cool It presents a different take on climate change than Inconvenient Truth. It is convincing — skipping between scenes of the youthful Lomburg in his Greenpeace days, to his canonical assertion, which is that to fight climate change, we’re spending our money the wrong way, and efforts to date have been largely ineffective and fantastically cost-ineffective.
But something did not seem to quite “add up” to me. That’s when I started thinking again. (more…)
Do you recall this prescient (if completely misguided) ad?
This ad from the 1970′s had it all about right. It’s not nice to fool mother nature.
I have recently read Beyond Smoke and Mirrors and am now reading Four Fish (both in Kindle format, of course) and if there’s anything to be learned, it’s simple: it’s not nice to fool Mother Nature. I recommend both books, and will try to find time to say something more than “you should read them” soon. Until then…
(What “delicious” irony that Chiffon Margarine, laughing in the face of Mother Nature herself was hawking a product similar to butter, made of corn oil. Oops — we now think it’s far worse for our health than the butter it was trying to fool Mother Nature with. And in a related news item, Mother Nature was recently rushed to the hospital suffering chest pains.)
My daughter recently had her flu shot, and the nurse warned “just a little pinch” — the US seems fearful of the tiniest little pinprick when it comes to dealing with our energy and climate change issues, so I conclude my daughter is far braver than we.
“The ratepayers of Virginia must be protected from costs for renewable energy that are unreasonably high,” the regulators said. Wind power would have increased the monthly bill of a typical residential customer by 0.2 percent.
We Need Protection from This
According to the US Energy Information Administration, the average monthly residential electrical bill (from 2008) in Virginia was $112.75.
So, regulators are “protecting” ratepayers from an additional charge of $0.225 — less than a quarter of a dollar a month.
Near the end of the article, there’s a brief mention of valuation of present versus future costs
Advocates also argue that while the costs might be higher now, as the technology matures and supply chains and manufacturing bases take root, clean sources of power will become more attractive.
Fold in the higher costs of extracting and burning fossil fuels on human health, the climate and the environment, many advocates argue, and renewable technologies like wind power are already cheaper.
OK, so now I am angry. That is the tamest, lamest, weakest language I could possibly imagine. There are two arguments: adoption of the technology at scale will decrease cost so that it close to at parity with existing energy sources. OK, that always happens.
But on the second point (externalities): when will we begin to consider even the risk of increased future costs in our evaluation of total cost — you can be a dive instead of a climate hawk and still recognize a risk in future cost valuation.
To be fair, the article is making the same point, in gentle terms. It is good reporting, and I am not castigating them for being weak.
I am castigating our country as a whole: we’re being little girls. Actually no, my little girl didn’t even wince when she got her flu shot. We’re being babies. They cry about everything (and poop all over the place and expect someone else to clean up after them.)
Climate change is a technical subject and few of us are true experts. I am not an expert, so I am faced with a choice of accepting the findings of science or denying it. Denial is common in history, even though science has usually been right. The Earth is not the center of the universe, but this view threatened a great power of the time, and Galileo was locked up for heresy. Today we know science was on the right track, but it shook the foundations of belief, and power.
Today we have a similar situation. The implications of climate change are far more than simply “inconvenient” — they are a fundamental threat to the current world order. The response by those under threat has been to couch it in vague terms involving liberty, freedom — enrolling and manipulating an army of foot soldiers who are kept ignorant of the facts and fighting a righteous battle for truth, justice and the American way.
But the truth is, the energy companies are holding the purse strings — energy is money is power. The company and people who own energy are now powerful beyond our ability to understand. They control part of the media, they elect our officials, and they are getting more and more powerful. Just like the cigarette companies, they know that their product is harmful — those in power know that climate change is real.
Eventually the cigarette companies were neutralized … when their CEOs’ faces were lined up in front of Congress. Eventually the energy companies will get theirs. Millions of people died early deaths because of the delay tactics of the cigarette companies — we’re faced with an even greater threat from climate change. Recent reporting has begun to reveal the lies and motives, and the faces behind them. But it’s not enough, and we’re losing through inaction and delay. (more…)
I have a 4th grader learning multiplication and division. She asks “Why do I need to know this?” For her, multiplication is a deep, abstract mystery.
My 8th grade son understands because he’s doing algebra and uses multiplication every day. But when he was in 4th grade, he asked the same question my daughter asks now.
He tried to explain why she needs to know. I tried to explain also.
I have learned that there’s no amount of explanation that will convince a 4th grader why it’s important to learn multiplication. They do it because they have to. They have teachers, and grades, and someone says they have to.
What Will Motivate People To Think About Energy?
Recently, I have been thinking about what will motivate people to do energy monitoring. (more…)