Sunday, November 20, 2011

Home Power Saver for Black Friday and the Holidays

Wow, did time creep up on me this year!  We're less than a week away from Thanksgiving, and the stores have been decked-out for Christmas for weeks.

This is the time of year where utility usage can go through the roof, given all the extra baking, entertaining, heating, and holiday lights that are on.  With that in mind, I wanted to review a few posts from the past that may be of help in reducing your electric and other utility bills.

Why not invest some of your holiday time off and save money for years to come?

Be Productive and Seal Those Gaps

I just moved into a new house a few months ago, and the priority for me was getting my family settled. Now that we are pretty much unpacked and in a routine, I turned my sights to getting the house nice and sealed - and wow am I glad I did!

The biggest bang for the buck in my house was checking the HVAC vents. Our house, like many in California, is a crawl space house (i.e. not a slab foundation or house with a basement). Turns out almost every ground floor duct had a gap where it came up to the vent attachment, allowing lots of cold air in! But this is nothing that a $4 can of Great Stuff Insulating Foam could quickly remedy. That link is to Amazon - please click on it to check it out - but I recommend you buy it locally at Ace, Lowes, or Home Depot, and save a few dollars.

Anyway, be sure to check out Mind the Gap for more tips on sealing up your home.

Buy Efficient Holiday Decor

We all know that LED Christmas Lights are more efficient, brighter, and pose less fire risk. And prices continue to drop. Check out Six Ways to a Green Christmas for other ideas that will save money (and automate!) your holiday displays.

Energy Saving Gift Ideas

If a friend or family member is into DIY projects, consider helping them in their hobby with some power saving gifts?

Start with Shopping Gifts to Turn Black Friday Green, then check out Seven Gifts For The Energy Conscious.

And I'd love to hear about other holiday-centric saving ideas and gifts that fit the Home Power Saver theme. Be sure to come back and comment below.

Happy Holidays!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Thermostats by Nest

Update December 2012: Nest now has their 2nd generation Nest Learning Thermostat available on  Read on for more on the Nest thermostat.

Nest Thermostat
The Nest Thermostat
At homepowersaver, I like to keep an eye out for new technology that might help us save on our energy bills. It is easy to get swept in to the big breakthrough technologies, like the Bloom Box, the latest electric car, etc. But in more practical terms, I am more interested in products entering the market, or about to enter the market (i.e. I'm eagerly awaiting the Vu1 ESL lightbulbs soon to be available at and later in stores, and trying to figure out what happened to Clarian).

Along those lines, I read with interest a recent article about a Silicon Valley startup called Nest. Led by a former Apple executive that provided much of the brains behind the iPod design, it might be surprising that their next generation energy saver is a simple thermostat!

Mercurial Rise in Thermostat Tech?

Read any home energy blog or book and you'll quickly see that programmable thermostats can be big money savers. Why run your AC or heater at full throttle when no one is home? Or when everyone is under the warm covers at night?

The problem is that most households, even with best intentions, often revert to the "hold" setting to override their programs...if they ever even got around to programming the thermostat in the first place. Recent studies have shown this fact.

To a Silicon Valley entrepreneur, this fact presents an opportunity. Nest has taken on thermostats, applying design principles taken from Apple and artificial intelligence (AI) to remove the prospect of programming. After a few days of care and use, the thermostat will learn when you are home and when you are not; when you turn the temperature down and when you turn it up. And at the same time, it no longer looks like a thermostat - it is more of a work of art.

Nest decided that simply learning your habits over time was not enough. It can also tie in to your network using wifi, allowing for remote control - turn up the heat when you are on your commute home so the house is nice and toasty by the time you arrive; or simply track your usage over time.

Prospects for Nest

Personally, I do not plan to purchase the $249 Nest thermostat, which will be sold at Best Buy and other stores. And I'd suspect most of the readers of this site would be better served with a cheaper traditional programmable thermostat, which can be found for $70 or less. Why would I assume my readers may not be interested? If you are reading this site you probably have more than a passing interest in saving energy, and thus will be more likely to actually program your thermostat. However, I do see a market driven by the trendy among us, home automation aficionados, those not wanting to deal with 'one more device to program', and interior designers.

Nest has hinted that they will take on other energy products as they begin to grow. --

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Vu1 Poised to Make a Lighting Splash December 1

For those missing my earlier Vu1 post, Vu1 offers an innovative lighting technology that looks well positioned to compete with LED and CFL technologies. Their technology, called ESL, hits a sweet spot in terms of light quality, efficiency, price, and expected life. ESL shine especially bright when it comes to light quality, with color temperature and dimability equal to incandescents.

Vu1 had promised to send me a first generation R30 test bulb for me to evaluate on my site. Unfortunately, it never happened. And in following the company, there have been a number of disappointments in terms of meeting delivery dates.

However, it looks like they are poised to turn things around, having announced a major agreement with Lowes to sell the R30 bulb in their stores for $14.98 each. That price easily beats LEDs, and offers a competitive option to CFLs.

Here is the most important quote from the Business Week report on the press release: "Vu1’s bulb, which can be dimmed, will sell at $14.98, according to a company statement. While that exceeds the $12-to- $13 cost of a comparable dimmable compact fluorescent bulb, it lasts longer, is mercury-free and produces every wavelength of light, the CEO said. Lowe’s will sell the bulb online from Dec. 1 and in its stores from February, according to the statement."

Further, Vu1 has received UL certification for an A19 lightbulb. The R30 bulb is a flood light bulb, which is more an more common in new homes. My house, recently remodeled, had 36 R30 fixtures, for example. The A19 is the traditional lamp bulb. Between the two, they should offer a compelling product line.

Back to my house - all but two of the 36 R30 fixtures are attached to a dimmer switch. Given CFLs limitations for dimming (even the 'dimmable' ones aren't great), this limits me to incandescent, halogen, LED, or Vu1's ESL. LEDs are still too expensive, and light quality isn't where it needs to be at the more affordable end of the spectrum. Halogen and incandescent are not great for as expensive as energy is in California. That places ESL at the top of my list.

Readers - when Vu1 bulbs show up at your local Lowes, give them a try, and report back here what you think!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Making A Comeback

Wow, what a crazy few months it has been.   New baby, new job, and a new house in a new state.  I *thought* I'd had plenty of content pre-written to cover a period with no time, but I didn't anticipate being out of the fold for about 8 months! 

The good news is that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.  My new location (California) presents me with plenty of new ideas to discuss.  My new home is a two story stucco, with a crawl space, presenting some new opportunities to learn (my first home with a crawl space).

Anyway, today's posting is just to check in and let anyone stumbling across my page know that after this long lapse in posting, I am starting to rumble back to life.  It may be another few weeks, but be sure to check back for updates on Vu1, Clarian Technologies, the Bloom Box, and of course, more tips, tricks, and cost-effective projects to save you money on your utility bills!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Creeping Disaster

Today's title comes straight from a NY Times post about the disaster of drought and permanent "aridification" or areas.

Droughts come and go, but population increase, redistribution of population, and other factors create increasing pressure on water supplies. 

Today most parts of the US and Europe can withstand droughts - even severe droughts.  Rationing occurs, our landscape plants may suffer and die, and we go without washing our cars.   But much deeper impacts are already being felt.

In the southwest USA, massive fissures open up due to depleted ground water supplies leading to ground settling (in some cases, damaging homes and other buildings).  Rivers that once flowed, supporting farming,  critical wildlife habitat and migration corridors, no longer flow.  Wildfires have become more massive due in part to water policy issues.  Droughts (and increased demand from growing populations) constantly cause food prices to move upward (recall the huge impact of the Russian drought on global wheat prices last year).  And this is just the start give the population stresses and natural weather cycles.

Save Water Today

Fortunately, there are many ways we can save water with no impact to our quality of life.  Unfortunately, these methods are largely ignored.  Like so often in this country, it seems clear that it will take an emergency before serious consideration of water policy occurs.

Today I hope you will take the bull by the horns and be proactive in addressing this issue.  I'm going to offer a number of simple steps that can reduce your water usage.  And I also hope that you will share this article with those that you know to help raise awareness.

What are some examples of ways water consumption can be reduced?  Slightly less than 70% of our water use is for agriculture, and largely overlooked flood irrigation is often much more efficient than traditional overhead watering.  At home, dual flush toilets, common in Europe, are almost non-existent in the USA.  Even "low-flow" showerheads can be further reduced to 1.5 GPM with minimal impact.  Choosing drought tolerant native landscape plants and using directed drip irrigation can save hundreds of gallons.  Rainwater can be harvested by connecting simple collection barrels to downspouts.
When you purchase your next washing machine, get a high efficiency model.  This could save a family of four 50 to even 100 gallons per month!  Make sure you run your dishwasher on the shortest setting possible - why run the "pots and pans" cycle when your dishes only had a few crumbs?

Home Power Saver has had a number of articles going in to more detail on saving water.  Please check them out:

Take the bull by the horns, and do your part today!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

A Solution For Hot Garages

After months of consideration, I finally decided to do something about my hot south facing garage.  I'd previously insulated the doors and made sure my entry door was sealed well, but in the Arizona desert, it seems to take much more than that.

I'm not so concerned about how hot the garage gets, but rather the living spaces above the garage (my daughters bedroom in particular).

The solution - a through the wall ventilation fan operated by a programmable timer switch.

Monday, May 2, 2011

The Two Critical Facts You Must Know About Your Air Conditioner

air conditioner
For the vast majority of the United States, air conditioners are a near necessity. As the years have progressed, a higher percentage of homes have gotten them, and older homes have been retrofitted.

If you have an air conditioner to cool your house, there are two critical specifications that you must know. These facts are important when you are shopping for a new AC unit, and are equally important when trying to get a handle on your current electricity bills.

Further, these two facts are often confused, resulting in homeowners spending too much on a AC replacement.

Monday, April 25, 2011

How One Bad Driving Habit Can Cost You $600 A Year

I drive on a divided highway most of my way to work. It is about a 22 mile drive one-way, with a speed limit ranging from 55 mph to 65 mph for most of it.

I’ve always been surprised at the number of speeders and dangerous weavers on this road, and I often have to try very hard to not take it personally when other drivers jeopardize my safety. I know, it is easy to get behind the wheel and only think of yourself – i.e. “I have to be to work by 8:00 AM”, or “I hate waiting for traffic”, etc.

But not only is this driving dangerous, it is extremely wasteful

I think most people know that jack-rabbit starts are terrible for fuel efficiency. But the one area that people don’t often think about is how speeding impacts fuel performance.  In fact, it can cost you $400 to $600 in an average car, and much more if you drive a truck or SUV!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Five Frequently Asked Questions About Reducing Your Electric Bill

When I tell people about this website, I often immediately get asked a simple question or two about reducing electricity bills.

These questions are often based in a dispute that the asker has had with their husband or wife, and often "loaded" in some way. Often, something based in fact has been twisted just enough to make the answer difficult.

For those who love semantics, you'll love this Q and A session. When you read the first question you'll see what I mean.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Paint It White - Can Paint Save You 10%, or even 20% on Cooling Bills?

Light Colored Roofs
There has been a growing buzz for the last couple of years about a new way to cool houses in hot climates.  The buzz has reached a louder tone lately since Steven Chu, the US Energy Secretary, brought the topic of money saving paint to the forefront.

So what is this magic paint that saves money?  It is light colored roof paint.  Yes, paint your roof and you may see noticeable savings of energy in your home (though reports of 20% are almost certainly overblown).

Now, this sounds crazy, and as of yet not many people have taken the leap.  So lets take a closer look and see what roof painting is all about.

Friday, April 8, 2011

An OLED revolution? Organic LEDs

Early Flexible OLED Technology
Organic Light Emitting Diodes (OLEDs) have been around for years, if not decades, when you consider research in universities and labs.  But only now are OLEDs reaching mainstream, and starting to turn up on consumer products (TVs, monitors, watches), advertising, and more.

So what is OLED, will it compete in the lighting industry, and what is its potential for the average household?

Monday, April 4, 2011

Four Myths of LED Light Bulbs

LED Light Bulb
As with any emerging technologies, there are many myths surrounding LED lighting. Some make LED lighting sound terrible, and others make LEDs sound like a revolutionary technology. It is easy to confuse “potential” with “capability today”, and it is easy to confuse yesterday’s capability with an inherent flaw.

Today I’ll take a look at a few current myths that persist for LED lighting.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Clarian Power 'Plug-n-Play' Solar Update

Clarian Smart Box Solar (
A few months back I posted about a new solar niche emerging, being partly driven by Clarian Power.  The niche - plug and play solar.

They offer stand-alone solar panels, rated at 200 watts, that can be connected to the power grid via a standard electrical outlet.  Micro-inverters and a simple mounting system make this possible.

Clarian's price point at that time was $600 - $800.  A check back on their website today reveals an increase to $700-$900, with another part of the site indicating "less than $1000).  This increased price point will make payback even harder to achieve, though we still don't know the full specifications of their panels.  But assuming typical efficiency specs, I was really thinking a $600 price point would be needed to be viable.

And on a side note, Clarian seems to have re-branded this product as the "SmartBox' (previously SunFish). 

I'll continue to keep an eye on Clarian to see when their product is released to the general public.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Where Have You Gone, Energy Efficiency Blogs?

I love reading about saving energy and saving water. I read the magazines, I scan google for news on the latest products, I watch EurekaAlert for the latest breakthroughs, I check prices on Amazon, and I search out other bloggers like me that use energy saving practices.

While I focus on products, tips, and tricks that almost anyone can perform, it doesn't mean I don't like reading about the over-the-top fanatically green practices that some employ, too.

But where are the energy saving bloggers? If you google for them the top matches are almost exclusively sites that have had no updated posts in 18 months or more! That astounds me given how much interest there is in the topic, and how many topics there are to discuss.

After 5 months online, my site only shows up on the first page of a few specific google searches. I know search engine ranking takes time, so if I'm not making the first page of search results, I know that there is a lot of other good content out there not making it, too.

I'd love to hear from readers as to what there favorite energy saving, water saving, or general efficiency sites are. I have my Recommended Blogs list (see right column) and would love to add to it! I want Home Power Saver to truly be a resource - not just for my content, but a resource for other interesting and useful ways to cut energy bills, carbon emissions, and our general energy 'footprint'.

Pass along your finds either via email (see the About link) or better yet, comment below.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

What is More Energy Efficient – LED, CFL, ESL, Incandescent, or Halogen?

In my quest to make my home as cost-effectively efficient as possible, I’ve spent a lot of time researching and trying different lighting solutions.

My first step was to use lights less often, my next step was to question how much light I really needed (i.e. do I really need a 100 watt bulbs, or is a 60 watt bulb enough?), and the last step was to replace bulbs with more efficient ones, which is a continual process.

You're probably thinking that LED is the clear-cut winner in the efficiency war.  Well, you may be surprised to find out this may not be the case today!

Monday, March 21, 2011

You Don't Have to Be Perfect - Just Be Better

I've been around long enough to know that everyone has different personality traits.  I also know that everyone learns a bit differently and reacts to their environment differently. 

But at the same time, I've noticed that if I'm thinking something, questioning something, or encountering a specific problem, there are always others out there that are in the same boat.

That's why I'm writing today - I have a personality flaw that sometimes gets in the way of completing projects, or more accurately, even starting them in the first place - but I think I can fix this flaw!  And yes - this applies to saving energy and reducing power consumption!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Are Electric Cars Worth It?

Ford Focus Electric
A hot topic this month and in coming months will surely be whether all-electric cars, such as the Nissan Leaf, Chevy Volt, or Ford Focus Electric, are worth the expense.

First, 'worth' is highly subjective.  Most people think of worth as a purely financial metric.  Some think of worth in broader terms, considering the environment, helping in building demand for a "morally good" product, whether it employs local people, or other meaningful metrics.

I think the majority fall in between, leaning towards financial.  In other words, most people are willing to pay a small premium if it satisfies one of the other metrics important to you.

So given all of this subjectivity, how can we determine if an electric car is right for you?  Today I'll talk about some interesting ways in which you can make that determination.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Home Power Saver Six Month Birthday!

Home Power Saver has just reached a milestone - six months in existence.

After six months, I want to say thank you to all of the readers who have subscribed to the RSS feed, or simply check in on occasion to see what is new.  I've seen readership (subscriptions and page views per day) slowly and steadily increase in five of the six months, with February reaching an all-time high.

A lot has happened in six months.  My family has grown, gas and oil prices have jumped, and we've just been through a crazy winter that most climatologists expect to become the norm in future years (i.e. you may want to plan for wild fluctuations in weather and add some insulation to your home).

This site is a hobby for me.  I love sharing information and what I've learned about saving water, power, and gas.  In these times where the economy is still shaky and there are few safe investments, it is nice to know that there are simple ways to save money and get a return on investment in your own home or car.  That is the number one goal of this site - to reveal cost effective ways to save money while saving energy.

Looking ahead, I'm also happy to say that I have a lot of interesting ideas and plans.  Expect to see continuing articles on sealing and insulating your home, everything a home owner should know about air conditioning efficiency, and we'll be taking on many energy myths.  And of course, expect to see more reviews of products claiming to save energy or water.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Six Ways To Reduce Your Outdoor Water Consumption

Last week we took a look at seven ways to reduce your water consumption indoors - by as much as 5000 gallons a month! And the great thing about reducing indoor water use is that you also reduce your water heating costs.

Today, we'll move outside, and look at ways to further reduce your water 'footprint'. As you might expect, most of the savings revolve around your landscape and how you water - but you might be surprised at some of the ways you can save!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Saving Energy is An Apolitical Endeavor

When I started Home Power Saver last year, I strategized not to make this a “green” site or an environmental site.  I wanted to avoid any perception that politics skew the content. I hold the belief that saving money through saving energy is apolitical.

For that reason, I decided I’d report on ways in which we can control our utility and gasoline bills. I promised to keep an eye on the cost-effectiveness of solutions, and occasionally provide insight into options that may stray a bit more out of the mainstream for the more fanatical energy reducers out there.

After all, saving money is generally a universal desire, and doing so while saving energy has a lot of nice side effects, regardless of your politics.

Regardless, I’ve had a few friends suggest that I need to be more opinionated in my blogging. They suggest interspersing a well articulated opinion on occasion. Opinion drives a loyal readership, they say.

I’ve given this a lot of thought and to date have decided to hold the line and stick to my original plan with one exception – today’s post.

Why? Well, the following surprising email received causes me to simultaneously question and validate my points above.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Seven Ways To Reduce Your Water Bill – Indoor Edition

As Spring approaches, thoughts turn to making your landscape look great – the manicured lawn, the well-watered shrubs, and healthy trees. For those in many locations around the USA, it also signals the time of year for higher water bills.

Here in the western USA, it is not uncommon to see water bills move from $50 to $100 during peak months. And these rates are only going to increase as population increases demand, water rights battles come to a head, and weather becomes more variable.

What can you do about this? This week we’ll look at some things you can do indoors to save. Follow these seven steps and you’ll save anywhere from 2000 to 5000 gallons per month - and reduce your water heating costs, too!

And check back next week for tips on reducing water usage outdoors.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Bye Bye Standby

Remote Control Outlet
Vampire power. Some people call it ghost power, phantom power, or standby power. Basically, they all mean the same thing - power that is consumed by devices even when they are supposedly turned off.

Last year I devoted an article to vampire power and what it can really be costing you. Some worst case scenarios may include home entertainment centers or computers with peripherals using 30 or 40 watts of power, even when "off"!

Now consider all of the devices in your house that are always plugged in - TVs, monitors, stereos, cell phone chargers, coffee maker, microwave, alarm clocks, etc.

In 10 years, 100 watts of 'vampire' power could cost you $650 (assuming devices should be off 14 hours a day, and a 12.5 cent per KwH electricity cost).

Friday, February 25, 2011

Special Report: Where Do Gasoline Prices Go From Here?

Where do gas prices go from here?

Up. Sorry to spoil the ending of this article, but that is a fact. The rapid raise of oil will translate to higher prices at the pump in the short term. And even after the immediate turmoil in North Africa and the Middle East passes, world production of oil is getting more costly, more dangerous, and more difficult to maintain.

The more interesting question is how high will gas prices spike in the short term, and what should we be watching to clue us in to when the rise will stop?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Does Solar Make Sense For Me?

Over the last several weeks we've taken a look at home solar photovoltaic (PV) systems.  We've talked about many of the components of those systems, how they work, and what options exist.  But how can you tell if solar makes sense for you and your home?

For something as important and expensive as solar, it is important that you spend some time reading and learning.  As we've discussed, a well designed solar system is more than a few panels on the roof.  The placement of the panels, inverters used, shading considerations, and how you intend to use the system all alter a design.

Most importantly, if you are considering solar, get three estimates and pick-apart and compare each design.  You'll likely see that some companies simply offer "cookie cutter" approaches that may not be as efficient, while others may offer more custom solutions for your specific environment.

Anyway, lets get started and determine if solar makes sense for you.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Why You Need To Learn About ESL Light Bulbs

Vu1 ESL Light Bulb
Just when we're all getting used to CFLs, LEDs, hybrid halogen/CFL bulbs, and all of the other new lighting technologies, along comes ESL, full of potential to revolutionize lighting....again.

With all of the fanfare over the emergence and potential of LED bulbs, you might be asking how lighting can get better.  LEDs run cool, are more efficient than CFL in many applications, and support new form factors and instant on like the good old incandescent.  What's left for lighting and how can a new technology find it's niche?

Well, CFLs and LEDs have their shortcomings, and ESL promises to address many of the shortcomings while offering all of the benefits.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

What About Solar Lease Programs?

At this point in my solar series, the extreme DIYers are likely thinking "wow, I could install a solar system myself".  Others might be thinking that solar is too complicated or too expensive to mess around with, even if someone else installs it.

For that latter group of people, you may want to consider a solar leasing program.  So today, I'm going to make a quick digression from my originally scheduled solar series to talk briefly about leasing options and pros and cons.

Monday, February 14, 2011

New Addition to the Home Power Saver Family

Yes, that's right - I'm expecting an addition to our family - due in early February.  We're excited, and as you might expect, I'll have less time to devote to writing about ways to save energy and reduce bills.

I've tried to write and schedule several posts in advance of our arrival, so you can expect to continue to see a regular weekly posting.  In fact, I think I have some excellent content upcoming, discussing more on solar, water reduction, more ways to insulate, time of use billing plans, and much more.

Basically, just expect the quantity of posts to be reduced from 2-3 per week to 1-2 per week for the next few months.

Thanks for reading and thanks for sticking with me! And please subscribe to my RSS feed to be notified whenever a new entry is posted!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

How Does Residential Solar Work? Part II

In our first part of this series week we jumped in with both feet into the world of residential solar, discussing solar panels (monocrystalline, polycrystalline, and amorphous), inverters, grid-tied or off-grid, and a few additional topics.

This week we'll look at design considerations of home solar systems, including panel placement, shading, and lifespan of equipment.  We'll also look at how to get the most efficiency from a system.

And more importantly, we'll answer the question posed in part I - How do you make your power meter run backwards so that the power companies are paying you!?

Friday, February 4, 2011

Frigid Cold Weather in the USA Creates Opportunity to Save

Frigid cold air has taken hold over much of the USA, with below zero readings from New Mexico and Texas up to New England.  Even parts of the Phoenix, AZ metro dropped to 19 or 20 degrees this week.

For much of the USA, the snow and cold means you are cooped up in your house with no where to go.

My recommendation: take this weather and make it an opportunity to save!

Cold, windy days are the best time to find sources of air infiltration.  Take some time and check the following areas.  You can use your hand to check for leaks or a stick of burning incense (carefully).

  1. Around doors, especially the corners.
  2. Around electrical outlets on exterior walls
  3. Around light switches on exterior walls
  4. Around recessed light fixtures in ceilings and on exterior walls
  5. Around attic access points
  6. Around windows 
When you find a leak, make a list, and then attack it when you get the opportunity.

Here are a few articles to help you better insulate and seal your home:

Keep warm!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Special Report: How Unrest in Egypt Will Affect Gasoline Prices

Gulf Oil Rig
There has been a lot of speculation as to how the unrest in Egypt may impact gasoline prices here in the USA.

But is Egypt really that important to world oil supplies? The layman thinks of the middle east as one giant oil field, so it is easy to make hyperbolic statements about the immediate future for oil. However, the reality is that Egypt doesn’t produce much oil, and is a net importer.

Then why have oil prices spiked?  There are valid concerns, and the reasons may surprise you.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Quick Guide For Going Solar

Last week we talked about the basics of home solar systems, discussing solar panels (monocrystalline, polycrystalline, and amorphous), inverters, grid-tied or off-grid, and a few additional topics.

This week we'll take a brief segue for the impatient and get you jump started onto your solar journey.  This is the bare bones steps necessary to get a solar system on your house as soon as possible.

But be sure to check back next week where we'll arm you with more information, including design considerations, and system reliability and longevity information, and most importantly, answer the question posed in part I - How do you make your power meter run backwards so that the power companies are paying you!?

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

An Innovative Piece of Door Hardware That Saves You Money

Anyone reading Home Power Saver for any time knows that I love to profile easy projects and simple products that save energy.

Back in the early days I profiled an innovated piece of door hardware that creates a tight seal.  Best of all, it only takes 30 seconds to install!

Well, this innovative product has gotten even better!

Monday, January 24, 2011

How Does Residential Solar Work?

Solar Cell Panel
On the surface, solar is straight-forward. Sun is converted to electricity, and that electricity is made available to your house, sold back to the utility, or stored in batteries.

But when you peel back the surface layer, solar is more complicated, and many factors contribute to whether solar will make sense for you.

And more importantly, how do you make your power meter run backwards so that the power companies are paying you!?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Five No-Brainer Shortcuts to Reduce Your Electric, Gas, and Water Bills

home power savings

You hear the idiom all the time - there is no free lunch.  And while that is almost always true, it doesn't mean that there aren't shortcuts to an end goal.

If you've read this site or taken advantage of the free subscription to it, you've undoubtedly noticed that even though the projects and and products I've profiles are generally simple, most require some background work and following a methodology.

The reason is simple - if your goal is to reduce your utility bills, the best approach is a methodical one that begins with understanding how your household uses electricity, gas, and water, and where you can improve.

But what if I were to tell you that there were a number of actions you can take without worrying about method?  Steps that are so low cost and so likely to reduce your bills that you can just dive in...

There are a few such steps that we'll take a look at today.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Efficient Cooking

efficient cooking
I spend a lot of time talking about products you can buy to help you reduce your energy bills, but there are also plenty of other ways in which you can reduce your energy consumption without spending anything.  After all, when money is tight can we all really afford to be replacing light bulbs, adding insulation, and buying new appliances? (Check out the Free Savings category on this site for more tips to save energy without spending a dime).

Cooking is one area where a number of common sense and a few surprising tips can save you a couple of dollars each month. 

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Six Ways to Save on Gasoline and Improve Efficiency

It's been all over the media - $5 per gallon gas by 2012 was predicted by a former president of Shell Oil.  This story has been bantered around and even morphed into "$5 by 2011" by some media outlets.

Many industry analysts aren't quite so pessimistic about gas prices, but almost all agree they WILL go up, and we ARE past peak oil production.  In other words, it is getting harder, more dangerous, and more expensive to extract oil from the Earth, so expect worldwide production to stay at a plateau or decrease slightly, even as demand rises.

Today we'll look at how you can prepare yourself and start saving money immediately with six simple tips. Follow these tips and you could see big savings, reduce pollution, and reduce dependence on foreign oil!

Monday, January 10, 2011

In Case You Missed It - Most Helpful Posts of 2010

Last week we covered the most popular posts on Home Power Saver, including ways to insulate, reduce your computers power consumption by $100, and a no-brainer way to better seal your exterior doors.

However, the most popular posts are not always the most helpful.  Sometimes a post happens to have the right keywords, or gets linked to by a popular blog, and it skews the statistics.

This week I'm profiling the six most helpful posts of 2010.  Follow these posts and you are sure to reduce your electric bills in 2011!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

New California Lightbulb Standard In Effect

On January 1, 2011, the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA) (signed into law by George W. Bush) went into effect in California.  California has chosen to enact the law one year earlier than required.

As part of its phased approach, this law essentially requires at least a 28% improvement on the efficiency of lighting, and the phased approach starts with the 100 watt incandescent bulb.  Interestingly, and not coincidentally, a 72 watt halogen light happens to produce as much light (lumens) as a 100 watt incandescent.

Over the next few years, similar improvements will be required for 75 watt, 60 watt, and 40 watt incandescents in California, with the rest of the nation implementing each phase one year later.  Incandescent lighting, by the way, is probably the least efficient electrical device in existence - 90% of the energy used is lost to heat.

This nice thing about this law is that it is not "picking winners" in the efficiency move, though the way the numbers work out it does seem to have been specifically picked to allow halogen to meet the requirements.  However, the law does not require people to use CFLs, LEDs, or Halogens.  It simply requires a 28% improvement in efficiency as compared to incandescent. 

For what its worth, halogen is one lighting technology that largely flies under the radar.  As mentioned, it can be 28% more efficient than incandescent, it is cheaper than CFL (not including energy saved), and produces good light and achieves full brightness rapidly.  And no mercury is used.

If you've been avoiding CFLs for one reason or another, and are awaiting for LEDs to get better, you may want to look into halogens.  Even in my home state of Arizona, I've been starting to see screw-in halogens for sale on occasion, months in advance of the law taking effect here.

For more information on the California implementation of this law, check out this FAQ.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

In Case You Missed It - Most Important Articles of 2010

As 2010 comes to a close, Home Power Saver celebrates its 4th month in existence.  And what a four months it has been!  I've posted over 50 times and have seen the site double in popularity each month.

But in this blog format, it is easy to miss or lose track of older posts.  For those wondering where to start in reducing your electric bills, or simply where to start in making your home efficient, your day has come.  Today, I am going to quickly recap the most popular posts of 2010 at Home Power Saver, and next week we'll look at the posts most helpful to Home Power Saver readers.