Category: Energy Efficiency

Toyoto Introduces The Toy The First Pedal Car For Adults

In an effort to rescue drivers from the high cost of gasoline, Toyota has announced the introduction of the Toy, the first car for grownups that is operated like a childs pedal car.

Its main benefit is, of course, that it requires no gas. There is, however, a limit as to how far the vehicle can travel on one adults leg power.

The resourceful auto giant maintains that the encumbrance is not a drawback at all, because adults can change places at the wheel. While one pedals, the other can rest.

The company also proclaims that the new car is the first that conditions you while you drive. As a result, it claims that the vehicle will benefit all purchasers with improved heart health, greater longevity and, most vital of all, increased energy to pedal all the farther.

We view the Toy as our most advanced product, the chairman of Toyota avowed. Its way out in front of even our own hybrids in term of fuel efficiency, and it saves a lot of steps in the production of ethanol. Now, drivers need only eat corn and soy beans to generate energy to propel the vehicle.

One of the first owners of the Toy was ecstatic. I cant tell you how good it feels to pedal past a gas station and know you no longer have to pull in and empty your wallet. But pedaling for miles can take some getting used to. When I work up a sweat, Im really happy that the Toy comes with air conditioning. I just reach out and start to crank the dashboard-mounted fan.

How To Sand Floors Yourself

This a weekend long Project in which you will not need to be a professional dyer to sand a floor, but you will definitely need to put a lot of effort to make look great, if you follow these guidelines step by step, you will see an amazing result.

Change broken boards and prepare the space.

First, you will need to remove as much furniture as possible so that you can work freely and easily. You dont want to get in trouble with your neighbors, so make sure you work only during the day to be respectful of your neighbors resting time. It is also recommendable to open the windows and doors to keep your space ventilated, and to avoid dust going to the rest of the rooms in the house, and something else you can do is sealing internal doors with masking tape. Then, you are ready to look for damaged boards and replace them with new ones. You will probably need only a wide-bladed cold chisel to remove them. When you place the new boards, make sure that there are no gaps since they can cause draughts and make the look of the floor seem poorly made. Also, dont forget to screw the new and loose boards down to keep them in place. If while doing all these, you run into raised nails, use a nail punch to nail them down (be very careful with this and make sure you have done this across the whole floor of the room).

Now you are ready to start sanding.

The best way to do this is by working diagonally, moving the floor sander across the boards. In the case that the boards are in good condition, we can recommend starting with medium grade sanding sheets, if that is not the case, it would be better to start with the coarse grade sheets. After you have removed the worst of the staining, you can change to the medium grade sheets and sand in the direction of the boards. To finish, use a fine abrasive sheet to polish it.

The last touches.

To finish off the edges of the room, use the round edging sander. Start with the coarse discs and work through the grades of abrasive in the same way. Work as close to the skirting boards as possible. Use an old chisel for scraping dirt out of the corners. Vacuum the floor. To remove the finer dust, wipe over the new surface with a cloth dampened with white spirit. This will also remove any grease and dirt left on the surface. Make sure you wear soft-soled shoes at this stage to protect the unsealed floor. It’s essential the boards are sealed with either a clear wood finish or paint. Make sure the varnish you choose is flooring grade. Brush or roller on at least two coats (three for hard-wearing areas such as hallways) in the direction of the grain. Leave to dry overnight.

Most Popular Fixes To Increase Home Comfort And Energy Efficiency

Keeping your home comfort levels high while maintaining an efficient home does not have to be difficult. In fact, there are several small things you can do around your home with very little money that will increase your comfort levels while decreasing your bills.

Insulate Electrical Outlets and Switches

A lot of energy is lost through drafty switches and sockets. You can purchase small kits at any big box retailer or home improvement store that will allow you to insulate all of your switches and outlets. Depending on the size of your home, you can typically do this for under $50.

Update Old Windows

Old windows can wreak havoc on your heating and cooling system. You may have to spend some money to replace the windows, but in most cases if you choose energy efficient windows you will make that money back in utility savings in just a few years. If you do not have the money to replace all the windows, do what you can and work on insulating the rest. Even just replacing the caulk around the windows can dramatically improve a drafty room. In the winter you can find plastic kits that will seal the windows, helping to improve the efficiency.

Check the Doors

Doors are another big source of heat loss during the winter. Cool air from indoors can also seep out during the summer months. You do not have to replace your doors to help fix this problem. If the doors are in good condition, consider using an expanding foam to reduce gaps around the door frame.

Sealing Vents

Laundry vents, outdoor faucets, and other types of hook ups can create energy loss. Walk around the outside perimeter of your home and inspect for these areas that could be insulated. Insulating and sealing these items can create a much more efficient home.

Attic Insulation

A good layer of insulation in your attic will prevent heat from escaping through the ceiling and roof of your home. You can do this on your own with just a small investment in the insulation. You can also hire a professional to blow in the insulation if you do not want to deal with this on your own.

Simple Additions

Another way to increase your homes comfort and lower bills is by adding small details such as insulated curtains. These will help prevent air from escaping and can be purchased for around $30 a set. If you have hardwood floors, adding a throw rug to rooms that are heavily populated will actually help maintain the temperature.
Professional Inspections

At least once a year you should have your heating and cooling system inspected. This will alert you of any potential problems, and can help you maintain your homes comfort while keeping your utility bills in check. If you have a service contract with a company this is typically covered. If not, it does not cost a lot of money to have an inspection done annually.

Energy Efficiency Programs What You Can Apply Now

In light of the current economic conditions that the country is facing right now, several programs have been placed in the priority list that will address some of the most critical issues faced by Americans right now. One such issue is on the use and consumption of electricity, wherein a national program was set into motion to generate interest among consumers in various states to participate in energy efficiency programs starting with their own homes.

Texas has been at the forefront of the nationwide energy efficiency drive with residents given the power to select their energy options in a bid to reduce consumption of Texas electricity. Such programs include rebates from their property taxes that eventually pay for the energy efficiency improvements done in their individual homes. Such improvements can include the installation of solar panels or improving a homes insulation system and optimize use of electricity.

These incentive programs are aimed at reducing the up-front costs that homeowners will incur as they set out and initiate energy efficiency improvements in their homes and improve their use of Texas electricity. Not only that, energy efficiency improvements will enable homeowners to gain considerable savings from their electricity bills as well as a focus on alternative energy resources that will eventually pave the way for the availability of really cheap electricity for all consumers to enjoy.

Legislation
Energy efficiency programs were officially initiated when the 75th Texas Legislature promulgated into law the requirement for meeting specific energy efficiency goals that the electric TDUs or Texas Transmission and Distribution Utilities would have to meet. The procedures required to meet these goals were outlined in the Energy Efficiency Rule provided by the Public Utility Commission of Texas.

The rule specifies that TDUs should offer energy efficiency programs to consumers within their respective electricity distribution territories. Such programs include installation or home improvements designed to increase a homes overall energy efficiency such proper insulation, use of high efficiency lighting fixtures and the installation of solar energy systems among other. These programs are extended not only to residential communities but also to schools, local governments and businesses in order to reduce their operating costs and save Texas electricity.

These home improvements however, will be installed or performed not by the TDUs themselves but will be coursed through third-party providers or what is more commonly called now as project sponsors. These providers include contractors and installers for insulation, lighting, and air conditioning. Project sponsors also include the retail electric providers and other energy efficiency companies.

What the Texas Consumer Can Apply Now

There are various energy efficiency incentive programs initiated by the local distribution utilities in the various towns and cities in Texas, each of whom were mandated to meet energy efficiency goals. These incentive programs come in the form of Standard Offer Programs (SOP), with payments based on the energy efficiency performance achieved. Participation in these SOPs varies depending on the type of program initiated. These programs include:

Residential and Small Commercial Programs these are geared towards providing incentives for energy efficiency improvements that are installed to reduce electricity consumption and peak demand
Commercial Programs Has a specific minimum demand requirement for eligibility and provides incentives for energy efficiency installations and measures that will reduce peak demand and increase Texas electricity savings
Low Income Programs Energy efficiency programs that are targeted towards households having annual incomes that are below or at 200% of the federal poverty guideline.
Load Management Programs These are designed to encourage efficient control of electrical loads such as shifting of electric loads from peak-demand hours to off-peak periods.

Unplug That Charger To Save Energy And Money

Who can honestly say they unplug the charger from the outlet when the phone charge is complete? Can you? Or are you one of many who plug their phone into the charger overnight so a fully charged battery is immediately available in the morningand then leave the charger plugged in even after the phone is unplugged?

If so, you are wasting wattsand that translates into wasted money and unneeded carbon emissions. Cell phone chargers consume energy even after the phone charge is complete and the phone is unplugged. This may not run up a significant electricity bill for an individual but, considering the millions of cell phone chargers probably operating at this very moment and the 3 billion phones in the world, the total waste is excessive. With all the smart phones, where are the smart chargers?

LG, Motorola, Sony Ericsson, and Samsung have joined together to raise awareness of how chargers waste energy when left plugged in even when the phones have been unplugged. As a part of this campaign, these companies have come up with a rating system for a chargers level of energy efficiency.

A charger that uses 0.03 watts or less will get a 5-star rating, while a charger that uses more than 0.05 watts will get no stars.

According to a Nokia spokesperson, if all of the 3 billion or so phones were charged with a charger rated at 5 or even 4 stars, the amount of energy saved yearly would be as much as is produced by two medium-sized power plants.

Of course, you dont need a new and fancy charger to keep green. And theres no need for smart chargers when there are smart cell phone owners. You can be a smart cell phone owner by remembering not to leave the phone charging any longer than is needed and to unplug the charger from the socket when you unplug your cell phone.

The Oreck Family History

The Oreck company is known for making vacuums, but it also produces air cleaners and miscellaneous household products. The company makes several models of household vacuums, shop (wet/dry) vacuums, floor waxers and refinishers, and air purifiers.

The Oreck Corporation was founded by David Oreck in the United States in 1963. The company is based in New Orleans, Louisiana, and its principal manufacturing facilities are in a modern 375,000 square foot factory in Long Beach, Mississippi.

Oreck Corporation started as a manufacturer of upright vacuum cleaners for the hotel industry in the United States. They designed a lightweight yet powerful and durable vacuum which was preferred by hotel housekeepers over the very heavy models available at that time. Oreck vacuums proved so popular that they are now used in over 50,000 hotels worldwide. After using these efficient vacuums at work, hotel personnel wanted to buy the machines for home use, which prompted Oreck to manufacture household models as well as their commercial line. Their products, while not cheap, are known for exceptional durability and ease of handling.

The Oreck XL 8-pound vacuum cleaner, aside from being one of the lightest models on the market, has a factory-tested estimated product lifespan of 18 years. The Arthritis Foundation gave this vacuum an Ease-of-Use Commendation for its exclusive Helping Hand Handle, which is ergonomically designed to reduce strain on wrists and arms. The user can simply push and pull the vacuum without having to grip the handle tightly, making it much easier to use for arthritis sufferers.

The Oreck air cleaner works by attracting air particles such as pollen and dust onto an electrically-charged collection grid. One unit can clean the air of a 30 foot square room. After passing air over a collection plate to trap particles, an Air Revitalizer is added at the end of the air cleaner which releases negative ions to revitalize the air. The Air Revitalizer can be turned on or off on the Professional Air Purifier. Leaving theAir Revitalizer on provides a pleasant, clean smell, but has no effect on the air purifiers cleaning efficiency.

The Oreck Air Purifier is not an ozone generator because it does not rely on ozone as part of the cleaning process. However, ozone is a natural by-product of many electrical appliances. The Air Purifiers Air Revitalizer emits only a very low level of ozone, well under UL and FDA guidelines of 50 ppb (parts per billion). Though ozone generators are sold by other manufacturers, they do a poor job of cleaning the air and generate high levels of ozone, especially in small spaces, which irritate the lungs. Consumers are advised by health authorities and the EPA not to purchase these units.

The collection grid of the Oreck air purifier, which should be kept clean to maintain the efficiency of the unit, is easy to remove and can be washed simply by a short soak in warm water and detergent. The company offers a specialized cleaning solution for the collection cell, but unless the air is full of tarry substances such as cigarette smoke, this is not necessary. Other than the carbon filter, which is not necessary to clean the air, there are no disposable filters to buy.

The Oreck model functions differently from a HEPA filter. HEPA stands for High Efficiency Particulate Arrestance, and These filters use a mat of very fine fibers to capture airborne particles.

HEPA filters create high resistance to airflow, which gets worse as the filter loads with dirt. This resistance causes HEPA units to use more energy , and cost more to operate. As the filter becomes more and more clogged, performance declines. Therefore, HEPA units require the user to frequently change the expensive filters. Since Oreck uses only a washable collection plate, continuing cost is not an issue with their air filters.

However, it is important to keep the collection cell clean, as it does not function well once it covered with dust. The company advises users to wash the collector after 4 weeks of initial use and every 8 weeks thereafter, but every house has a different amount of dust, so it is best to check the unit every few weeks to see whether a film has accumulated on the collector.

New units come with a 3-year warranty, and reconditioned units come with a 1-year warranty. The company has been in business for a long time and has a good reputation for honoring its guarantees.

What To Look For When Buying Portable Air Conditioner Units

Ignore the fact that portable air conditioner units may resemble “R2D2”, you need to make your decisions based on real facts some of which are presented here.

First thing you need to do is search the Internet for information and you will find that people voice similar concerns. The major concerns are those of price, energy consumption, noise levels and venting.

Keep in mind the amount of hours you will be using your portable air conditioner unit and then look at the Energy Efficiency Rating (or EER) or the units. Basically, the higher the EER rating the more energy efficient the unit will be. EER ratings of 8 for example, are at the low end of energy efficiency but these tend to be the older models. The average rating today appears to be around 12 which is good.

Looking at noise levels, portable air conditioner units that deliver 14,000 Btu’s or less normally tend to noise levels around 50 decibels. To compare, this is similar to the noise that most refrigerators will generate.

The jury is still out as to whether a dual hose unit is superior to the single hose formation when it comes to venting. While a single hose unit will drain some of the cool air it produces from the room, a dual hose system will help eliminate this problem. However, a dual hose system tends to be slightly less efficient for reasons such as the use two internal fans.

Portable air conditioner units tend to have one of three methods of disposing of the water extracted by the dehumidifier module. 1) Automatic evaporation will eliminate the need for any drains or reservoir pans but just how reliable this system is will vary from model to model. 2) Some models will use a direct drain via a hose attached to the unit which can be a problem unless the unit is used near a drain or a bucket! 3) You can simply empty the reservoir yourself.

The price of your unit should be looked at in conjunction with efficiency, as a highly efficient unit will offset any higher price over time. A cheaper model that is not as efficient, over time, will cost more. Remember that portable air conditioners are usually more inefficient than comparable window units although they cost roughly twice as much.

Portable air conditioner units do have at least one big advantage, you can move them where they need to be and store them away when you don’t.

Achieving Greater Business Energy Efficiency

A recent article by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy listed 10 programs that spurred organisations and customers to save energy. The findings acutely show that behavioural programs can be especially effective.

Improving energy efficiency is an important topic on the timetable of most organisations these days. The benefits are numerous, from lowering carbon footprint to the most outstanding of all cutting down on costs with energy. So million dollar question is: How to enhance business energy efficiency?

There are many ways to do so but this is not quite what I want to talk about in this column. I wont be propounding you change all the lights in your company to LED lights, even though that is one the most cost effective ways to enhance your business’ energy efficiency.

In this item I’d like to contest what is more effective consumer education or infrastructure updates. One could say that by combining both you could achieve greater results but that you will have to adjudge once you have finished reading this article.

Purchaser education has proven to be an effective way to better energy efficiency of households and businesses alike. When combined with programs that apply social science to energy conservation it can incite individuals to reduce consumption and make choices that will enable their companies to save as well.

Such programmes are an attractive way to reduce energy consumption since they have low initial cost and require little change to existing business processes / lifestyles.

However, simply relying on consumer/employee education might not be adequate. There is a real danger that energy efficiency gains seen from consumer/employee behaviour will go away over time.

That is when infrastructural upgrades come into the picture. Even though they necessitate a greater upfront investment if evaluated properly and done right such upgrades could generate better benefits. The down side is that most of these benefits will only be noticed in the long run.

But there is no better time to start upgrading your business with more energy efficient machinery. With many governments around the globe offering funds to subsidise these changes. For instance here in the UK the Government is creating the Green Investment Bank.

If you are unsure of which route to take in order to save energy. Why not ask for professional help. Hire an energy consultancy or an independent energy broker to inspect your premises and suggest the best and most effective options for you business.

How to Install Underfloor Insulation

Installing underfloor insulation in your house can save you money each year on your energy bills. You can usually save at least 60 pounds per year in heating and cooling, but some estimates indicate that you may save as much as 90 pounds per year. In any case, you can save money on your insulation by installing it yourself. Because a professional installation costs several hundred pounds, if not more, it will take a long time for your insulation to pay itself off if you must pay a professional to put it in. If you decide to undertake the process of putting in underfloor insulation, here are some quick tips to keep the job efficient and safe.

Use a Sealant Gun

A sealant gun and the necessary flooring sealant can be purchased at just about any do it yourself store. The total cost for materials will be around 20 pounds, or possibly less, and can make a big difference in your energy costs. To insulate your floor with a sealant gun, go around the perimeter of the rooms, installing the joint between the floorboards and skirting board. If you have carpet, it will need to be lifted up during this process. Fill in any gaps or spaces with the sealant and let it dry. You can also seal any gaps you see underneath the floor from a cellar.

Inspect the Floorboards

Insulation, whether installed via a sealant gun or fiber insulation sheet, should only be applied to dry and stable floorboards. If the joints are wet or damaged, you need to conduct repairs before you add insulation to your floors. When insulation is applied to wet floors, it will soak up the moisture and you may put yourself at risk of getting mold or mildew in your home. If you have a cellar from which you can view your floorboards, go over every inch of the boards and joints looking for wet spots or cracked wood that need to be reinforced.

Choose the Right Materials

You should use a fibrous material to insulate your flooring. A material like sheeps wool or mineral wool will allow for thermal movement, but stop air movement. This means that your floors will stay warm but air cant circulate between floors when the insulation is in place. Look at the thermal bypass factor of any insulation; this is the degree to which the insulation can stop moisture and air from circulating through the openings in a building. Dont buy the cheapest material, but rather the insulation that is designed for the temperatures in your area and the easiest to install as a homeowner.

Install and Fire Proof

As a homeowner, the most reasonable time to install the insulation yourself is when you have access to the underside of your floors via a cellar or basement. If you dont have cellar access, you will need to install the insulation on top of your floorboards and then install another level of boards. This essentially raises your ground level floors by several inches. Raising your floors is a complicated process that should be left to professionals. To install insulation from beneath the ground floor via a cellar, you should stable or secure the insulation between joints, making sure not to cover necessary air flows or vents. You will sometimes need to use netting beneath the insulation to hold it in place. If you dont already have a plasterboard in place to afford fire resistance, apply one under the insulation.

Underfloor insulation is an investment in your home. Not only can you save on your own energy expenses, but it might make your home more attractive to a buyer when you eventually hand over the keys to a new owner. While the installation process is not meant for every home owner, it can certainly save you quite a few pounds. To start, use the sealant gun to fill any obvious gaps, and then move on to fiber insulation only when you still feel obvious drafts or your energy costs have not decreased to your liking. Always consult with a professional when you think that you may be in over your head, or you might wind up wasting your time or even causing a fire hazard in your cellar.

How Can Rainwater Harvesting Systems Help You

Rainwater harvesting systems can benefit you on many different levels no matter if you are concerned about environmental pollution or you just find the utility bills to be too much for you to cope with, water collection systems will surely come in handy for you. However, if the high costs are the problem and you want to address it, it is important to understand that rainwater harvesting systems alone will probably not be enough, as you firstly need to reduce the water use statistically speaking, an average home uses around 160 litres of water per day, and you can reduce this by almost half by simply installing dripping taps or no longer using the dishwasher.

However, if you are looking for a rather affordable long term method to reduce your water use and your utility bills, then you should consider rainwater harvesting systems for a very simple reason: the metered water costs will go up given the increasing privatisation and in spite of the fact that installing a water collection system does require you to invest some money to start from, you will certainly get a return on investment shortly after that.

Did you know that these harvesting systems are very easy to install, very convenient and simple to use (as they typically consist of only water tanks and several other accessories) and they only require some routine maintenance and care every now and then? It is a known fact that plumbing services can cost a small fortune these days, but maintaining your rainwater harvesting system has never been cheaper or easier besides that, you can easily take care of all the maintenance yourself and you do not even need a license for keeping the gutters clean and free of leaves and other debris that can interfere with the quality of the rainwater. Besides this, there are several different types of systems to choose from as well: if you opt for the tank storage system, it must be said that while this truly is a lot more convenient as these tanks are designed to store the water, the systems that pump the water straight to your appliances are a lot cheaper at the same time.

At the time being, the United Kingdom has no regulations as to the type of water that you should use for toilet flushing, irrigating your veggies in your back garden or the water you use for washing your car, therefore there are no legal considerations to worry about all you need to worry about is finding a truly cost-effective and efficient rainwater harvesting system, that is in accordance with the standard regulations, and you have full control over the rainwater and how you will use it.

Besides this, dont forget that purchasing and installing a UV sterilisation unit in your water tanks (this unit is designed to make the water clean and good to dink) will only cost you around 500 pounds. These systems work with 40 Watt bulbs and they need to be replaced on a yearly basis, therefore they are low-maintenance as well besides, the greatest news is that you no longer need to worry about drinking water that comes from the mains and is filled with fluorine or chlorine, two of the most commonly used ingredients for killing bacteria and microorganisms.