America’s love and need of the automobile won’t be going away anytime soon.They are a fact of life and are an essential element that allows us to meet our daily needs and obligations. There are ways that we lessen the impact of our vehicle use on the planet – green driving is one of them. By making just a few adjustments, we can make a difference and save some money along the way.
1. Make your next auto purchase an alternative fuel vehicle. Electric powered vehicles and other alternatives are becoming more widely available.
2. Don’t drive alone. Join a carpool or utilize mass transit.
3. Drive the speed limit. For every five miles per hour you drive above 55 miles per hour, you lose 10% – 15% fuel efficiency.
4. Avoid short journeys and multiple trips.
5. Properly inflate tires. Improper tire inflation can result in the loss of over 2 – 3 mpg.
6. Stay aerodynamic. Avoid excess vehicle weight and anything that creates aerodynamic drag, such as roof racks, bike carriers and roof storage carriers.
7. Drive smoothly and anticipate road conditions. Avoid sharp acceleration and heavy braking. Accelerating less aggressively and slowing down moderately can increase fuel efficiency by 20% – 30%.
8. Don’t idle your engine. For stops of more than 2 or 3 minutes, shut off your engine. This can save up to 15% of fuel efficiency.
9. Utilize cruise control. This will save up to 10% by maintaining a steady speed and avoiding unnecessary acceleration.
10, Maintain your vehicle. Keep your vehicle properly tuned and replace old spark plugs and filters.
Water heating currently represents up to 20 percent of US residential energy consumption, making it the third largest energy consumer in homes, behind heating and cooling and kitchen appliances.
Maintaining your water heater will not only save energy, but also will extend the life of the water heater. Here are a few tips to maintain your water heater and save up to 200 lbs. of CO2 per year:
This holiday season nearly everyone is looking for ways to save money, by shopping wisely and making gifts and wrappings. One are that should be considered is to switch from incandescent lighting to LED Christmas lights. LED will save you money and give you a peace of mind as this technology offers improved savings and safety.
If all decorative light strings that are sold in the US this holiday season are Energy Star qualified, over 700 million kilowatt hours would be saved and the equivalent of 100,000 emissions from cars would be reduced in greenhouse gases in one year. Here are some additional reasons to switch to LED holiday lighting:
2. Improved safety. LED lights remain cool to the touch. Reduces fire risk of lighting on the evergreen decorations and contact burns.
3. Solid-state reliability. Technology does not require each light on string to be in operation for the light string to operate.
4. Durability. LED lights are enclosed in an epoxy casing, versus the fragile glass bulbs of incandescent bulbs.
5. Improved lifespan. Incandescent lights typically only provide 2,000, while LED lamps are rated for at least 50,000 hours of service.
6. No filaments to burn out. LED lighting does not require filaments, which burnout and can be easily damaged.
Your baby’s skin is the largest and most delicate organ. Yet we regularly massage the skin with products loaded with petrochemical ingredients. If you would read the label on the back of your child’s shampoo or wash bottle, you would see dyes, preservatives, synthetic foams, parabens and petrochemicals. Remember, the skin is a porous membrane, so up to 60% of products that are applied to skin will make its way into the body. This results in over 90 industrial chemicals that the body can’t breakdown and eliminate. This material will accumulate over time and can lead to serious diseases like cancer.
The average consumer can’t fully determine the long term dangers of applying various chemicals and corrosives to their children’s skin and scalp. As more parents are becoming aware, they are reconsidering using conventional bath products. Here is a further listing of some of the harmful ingredients in many conventional bath products:
True organic shampoo and wash products offer a wealth of benefits for hair and skin that will be immediately noticeable. Organic products gently infuse your hair follicles and skin cells with natural minerals, herbal extracts, and oils. Keep in mind that not every natural ingredient is safe for a baby’s delicate skin. Some essential oils may be irritating so when choosing a shampoo or body wash for your baby, read the label carefully and be sure it has been proven safe for infants. There are lots of shampoos to choose from, so check out a few to see which one best meets your needs.
Vermont Soap Organic Baby Wash is great because it is two products in one. It can be used to wash both baby’s hair and body. Bath time will only take about two squirts–one for the body and one to shampoo hair. Typically, one bottle will last much longer than most store bought brands. So even though it’s a little more per bottle, you will save in the long run. Plus you’re getting the benefit of knowing you’re using the most natural ingredients for your baby’s sensitive skin.
When you use organic bath products, you’re also helping your environment by letting bio-degradable substances go down the drain and not harsh chemicals.
1. Change Furnace Filters
2. Run Fans in Reverse - Most people think of fans only when they want to be cool, but many ceiling units come with a handy switch that reverses the direction of the blades. Counterclockwise rotation produces cooling breezes while switching to clockwise makes it seem warmer by making an updraft that sends the warmer air pooled near the ceiling back into the living space. This can cut your heating costs as much as 10 percent.
3. Winterize Your A/C and Water Lines - This one’s really easy, and it will save you wear and tear on your cooling system, so it can function at tip-top shape the next time you need it. Simply drain any hoses and air conditioner pipes, and make sure you don’t have excess water pooled in equipment. If your a/c has a water shutoff valve, go ahead and turn that off.
4. Turn Down Your Water Heater - While many conventional water heaters are set to 140 degrees F by installers, most households don’t need that level, and end up paying for hot water that just sits around, slowly cooling. Lowering the temperature to 120 would reduce your water heating costs by 6 to 10%.
5. Install Storm Doors and Windows - The simple act of installing a storm door can increase energy efficiency by 45 percent, by sealing drafts and reducing air flow. Storm doors also offer greater flexibility for letting light and ventilation enter your home. Look for Energy Star-certified models.
6. Use an Energy Monitor - Measure your way to savings with an energy monitor. This device indicates household electrical usage by device in real time. Now you´ll know if it is time for a new refrigerator or if that old air conditioner is still saving you money.
7. Use Caulking and Weather-stripping - Simple leaks can sap home energy efficiency by 5 to 30% a year, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. That means it pays to seal up gaps with caulking and weather-stripping.
8. Insulate Your Pipes - Pay less for hot water by insulating pipes. That can also help decrease the chance of pipes freezing, which can be disastrous. Check to see if your pipes are warm to the touch. If so, they are good candidates for insulation.
9. Insulate your attic. One of the easiest ways to save some money is to ensure that you have at least 12 inches of insulation in your attic. Hot air rises and through the attic is where it’ll go unless you sufficient insulate it. The rule of thumb is that if you can see your ceiling joists (the wooden beams), you don’t have enough because those are often shorter than 12 inches. You should also reduce the amount of transfer through your attic stairway by installing an attic stair cover.
10. Turn off exterior water lines. Chances are you won’t be using any of the water faucets outside of your home, so shut the valve that allows water to those exterior bibs. This prevents the water inside from freezing and cracking your pipes.
11. Wrap your water boiler. Since it’ll be cold, it’s more important than ever to invest in a water heater blanket and warp your water heater so it loses less heat into the ambient air.
12. Open the blinds in sunny rooms. Be sure to keep the blinds open on any rooms that get a lot of sun, ever little bit of extra heat can help keep those bills down.
13. Get a programmable thermostat. Programmable thermostats can help you save a ton of money by only turning on when you most need it. All HVAC systems work the same way – they are either on or off (there’s no low, medium, or high intensity setting). If you can keep your system off when you’re not home or when you’re asleep, you can save yourself a lot of money. They are easy to install and often break-even (cost vs. savings) within the first year.
14. Consider lowering the temperature setting on your thermostat. A lower temperature means the system is on less, so try lowering the temperature a degree at a time.
15. Replace your HVAC air filter. During the winter, when the system will run more often, it’s good to replace it monthly so that you don’t have a dirty air filter ruining the efficiency of the system.
16. Install window insulators. Window insulators are simply plastic sheets you tape up over windows to add an extra layer of protection from the cold. If you have especially drafty or old windows (especially if they’re single pane), consider replacing them.
17. Block those leaks - One of the best ways to winterize your home is to simply block obvious leaks around your house, both inside and out, experts say. The average American home has leaks that amount to a nine-square-foot hole in the wall. First, find the leaks: On a breezy day, walk around inside holding a lit incense stick to the most common drafty areas: recessed lighting, window and door frames, electrical outlets. Then, buy door sweeps to close spaces under exterior doors, and caulk or apply tacky rope caulk to those drafty spots. Outlet gaskets can easily be installed in electrical outlets that share a home’s outer walls, where cold air often enters.
18. Don’t forget the chimney - Ideally, spring is the time to think about your chimney, because “chimney sweeps are going crazy right now, as you might have guessed.” That said, don’t put off your chimney needs before using your fireplace.
One other reminder: To keep out cold air, fireplace owners should keep their chimney’s damper closed when the fireplace isn’t in use. And for the same reason, woodstove owners should have glass doors on their stoves, and keep them closed when the stove isn’t in use. An installation of a chimney draft guard will also prevent the loss of heat via your fireplace.
Renewable technology now plays an important role in the modern science classroom, introducing children to the astonishing potential of alternative sources of energy. However, while most children have heard of solar panels or wind turbines, fuel cell technology still remains a mystery to many. Yet this is a crucial time, with the mass production of hybrid fuel cell vehicles, the construction of hydrogen refueling infrastructure in the EU and America and international telecom companies increasingly turning to fuel cells for their energy needs. Fuel cells have an enormous amount to teach, both in terms of key scientific principals and their relevance to the greentech innovations happening all around us.
Hydrogen fuel cells
Fuel cells are bursting with fascinating science! The key process of a hydrogen fuel cell is the conversion of hydrogen atoms into electrical energy by separating the nucleus from the electron. The electrons are then diverted around an electric circuit while the positively charged hydrogen ions travel through the proton exchange membrane. Then there’s the generation of hydrogen itself—the separation of hydrogen from oxygen through water electrolysis, the hydrogen molecules with a slight positive charge travelling to the cathode while the slightly negatively charge oxygen is attracted to the anode. Molecular bonding, valancy, ions, electrolytes and so much more, just from one alternative technology.
Other types of cell
While hydrogen dominates the headlines at the moment, other fuel cells have enormous educational potential. Direct ethanol fuel cells are in many ways the most efficient power generators of the Horizon education range. The process lasts for hours, does not require combustion, and is completely silent. Saltwater fuel cells operate a little differently, generating electricity through a saltwater electrolyte with magnesium plates around the anode. Thermal cells convert the temperature difference between hot and cold water into electrical energy. One of the key lessons of these alternative fuel cells is just how vast and varied the science is—and how many options we would have if we truly embraced a fuel cell economy.
With most of our education kits we try to integrate more varieties of alternative technology to enable students to build self-sustaining renewable energy systems. Wind turbines or photo voltaic panels power the electrolyzer to separate out hydrogen from water. The fuel cell converts hydrogen to electrical energy which then powers a propeller or LED— a great way to demonstrate the principles of energy conservation and conversion. Also, students also get to study things like the effect of shade on solar panels, wind resistance, the optimum number of blades for effective wind energy generation and many other tests and experiments.
The addition of fuel cell and renewable technology to the science curriculum doesn’t mean that the basics principles of physics and chemistry are somehow overlooked. In fact our fuel cell education sets reveal the workings of water electrolysis, the electrical circuit, resistance, voltage, current, RPM and everything else a conventional lithium battery electrochemistry svet can supply. Plus, extra features such as the Renewable Energy Monitor allow teachers and students to not only measure energy, but also take this data and view it graphically in real time on a computer screen.
Fuel cells are the future of emergency backup power, transportation, aerospace, telecommunication support and so much more. With a carbon-neutral world fast approaching, it’s time we introduced students to this crucial technology and started inspiring the next generation of scientists to push the boundaries of renewable science.