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.