Monday, December 27, 2010

Five Ways to Use Your Christmas Gift Card

I received a nice gift card to the Home Depot for Christmas. It got me thinking - what should I spend it on?

I like to spend a lot of time on Home Power Saver talking about ways to reduce your electric bill through simple projects and improving efficiency, and I always focus on whether a product or project is cost effective.

So why not use that gift card towards a project that will pay you back for years to come?  Today I'll outline five ways to spend a gift card the Home Power Saver way!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Why New GE LED Nightlight Bulbs Are A Good Omen

I was surprised to notice a new offering at my local Target last week - a 2-pack of LED nightlight bulbs from GE.

I was surprised for several reasons - I hadn't seen LEDs at this Target before, I hadn't seen LED nightlight bulbs at any local store before, and these bulbs were marked as 2700K color temperature.

For under $6 I had to try them out - and my results were interesting!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Solar Water Heaters - Do They Make Sense?

Solar Panel
Last week I began the 'hot' topic of water heating with an introduction to tankless water heaters

But if you are looking at ways to reduce water heating costs, what about solar water heaters?  You may be surprised at the choices and decision points.

Friday, December 17, 2010

News Roundup - Dell, EcoButton

Dell announced this week that they have achieved a goal they announced two years ago - reduce power consumption on desktop and laptop computers by 25%.  They cite improvements in circuit design, energy efficient fans, and LED monitors as the biggest reasons for the gains.

I'm very happy to see so much energy efficiency focus in the IT and telecommunications sectors.  Those areas use insane amounts of energy, and until the last two years all focus has been on faster, denser, better performing products, while companies have had trouble keeping up with the power demands in their facilities.

Anyway, read more about Dell's achievements on Energy Efficiency News.

New Product to help Computer Users Reduce Energy Use

When I first saw the EcoButton, I thought 'wow, another unnecessary gimmick for unwitting consumers'. As I've thought about it some more, I can see some benefit.

The EcoButton is a large-ish button that sits on your desktop and connects to PCs (no Mac support) via USB. It allows you to shutdown or sleep your computer by hitting the large, visible, easily accessible button, and serves as a reminder to do so.

Of course, the same can be done with a couple of clicks of the mouse, but I suppose if it helps someone remember or change their habits, that is a good thing.

Visit Eco-button's site for more info or cut to the chase and view EcoButton on Amazon.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Are Tankless Water Heaters Real Savers?

Tankless Water Heater
Tankless Water Heater
One hot area (yes, pun is intended) in energy reduction is that of hot water heating. As I discussed previously, traditional hot water heaters are (almost by design) inefficient. Storing 80 gallons or more of hot water, constantly being heated whether there is a need or not, simply doesn't make much sense. It's no wonder that many estimates show water heating consuming 10% to 25% of a typical home energy bill.

So when it is time to buy a new hot water heater, it would pay to consider a tankless or a solar hot water heater (to be covered next week). However, there are considerations to keep in mind if you want to see real reductions to your gas and electric bills.

Today we'll look at tankless hot water heaters, and the pros and cons of them.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

News Roundup - Another Benefit of Smart Meters

Much has been discussed regarding the current and potential benefits of Smart Meters.  They can provide real-time or near-real-time electrical consumption details and provide that information back to the utility.  This can enable smarter billing plans, usage alerts, and allow for more efficient handling of the electrical grid.

Leveraging this technology, a company called OPOWER is working with utilities to create "smart bills" that show how your usage compares to neighbors.  They can use email and texting to alert customers when certain thresholds are reached, allowing a 'heads up' when a consumer is on-track for a high bill.

OPOWER claims that consumers who have smart meters and are part of this system on average reduce their power consumption 2% to 3%.  Across millions of homes, that is substantial.  Here in Arizona's deserts, 2-3% could translate to $40 to $80 of savings.

Read more about OPOWER on CNN.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Five Reasons to Reconsider CFLs

CFL - Compact Fluorescent Light Bulb
The CFL light bulb is an interesting product.  It has been around in the mainstream for around 10 years, yet continues to be as misunderstood by some as it is revered by others.

And to top it off, it has become a bit of a political lightning rod in the USA as a symbol of everything from global warming conspiracy to government intrusion.

Like many products with a lot of potential, corporate marketers have played up the best of this potential - especially long life and low energy consumption.  Those on the other side of the issue complain about harsh light, overblown life expectancy claims, and price, and mercury content.

Today we'll look at five reasons to reconsider CFLs for use in your home.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Five Ways to Offset Your Holiday Energy Consumption

If you're like millions of Americans, you just completed setting up your Christmas tree and have strung holiday lights all around your house and yard.  And if you're like most people, you are spending $1.00 to $5.00 per day to run those lights.

Most people tend to run their displays from the Sunday after Thanksgiving through to the weekend past New Year's Day.  That is about 40 days, meaning many people are spending $40 to $200 just to run their holiday light displays.

How can you offset this usage?  There are many ways!