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.