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Posts Tagged "energy efficiency"

Observations

Does Increased Energy Efficiency Just Spark Us to Use More?

chevy-volt-fuel-economy-sticker

Last year, the U.S. raised its fuel economy standards for cars and trucks for the first time in decades. By 2025, the fuel efficiency of vehicles will be required to double. As a result, oil consumption is predicted to fall and—given that the U.S. remains the world’s largest consumer of oil—global crude prices might fall [...]

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Observations

Are Chevy Volts Really Cheaper and Cleaner? A Case Study

Whenever Scientific American posts an article about electric cars, we see comments along the lines of “electricity comes from burning fossil fuels, so electric cars don’t really reduce your carbon footprint, and the electricity is more expensive than gas anyway,” possibly with more expletives. Ignoring issues of civility, it’s a good question. There’s no such [...]

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Observations

Can a California Start-Up Change the Way We Think about Lightbulbs? [Video]

What would it take to convince you to spend $45 on a 100-watt lightbulb? A Silicon Valley company called Switch Lighting is banking that it has the answer. Switch is a start-up that plans to roll out a replacement for wasteful incandescent lightbulbs that is efficient, long-lived and attractive—whether lit or unlit. Switch makes LED [...]

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Observations

What Questions Do You Have about Energy Efficiency?

On Tuesday, September 20, I’m set to moderate a panel on energy efficiency, specifically as it applies in New York City. As part of Climate Week NYC, the panelists will explore what the local utility Consolidated Edison—and some of its partners—are doing to manage electricity use in the city that never sleeps (which means we [...]

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Observations

Why Shifting from Fossil Fuels to Cleaner Alternatives Will Require Fossil Fuels

The world is waiting for a clean revolution, a shift away from the greenhouse gas-emitting, mountain-leveling, air-polluting, fossil-fuel burning way of life. The world may have to wait a long time if past energy transitions are anything to go by, according to environmental scientist Vaclav Smil of the University of Manitoba—especially since fossil fuel energy [...]

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Plugged In

Liberals May be More Morally Invested on Climate, but Conservatives Are More Likely to be Energy Efficient at Home

Screen Shot 2014-02-07 at 12.10.57 PM

Over at Mother Jones, Chris has a piece about the moral motivations of liberals and conservatives. He points to a new political psychology study led by Linda Skitka of the University of Illinois-Chicago considering the differing moral investments of individuals at both ends of the political spectrum. Skitka and her team report that conservatives feel [...]

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Plugged In

Guest Post: A sexy smart grid vs. humble energy audits and efficiency retrofits

Gimme Power

By Joshua D. Rhodes [1] and Charles R. Upshaw The smart grid is here in some places, and coming in others. But, the smart grid by itself is not enough to solve all the energy problems in the built environment. The smart grid monitors, collects, and stores information on how and when resources [2] are generated, [...]

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Plugged In

Photo Friday: Efficiency saves big $$ in Walmart Distribution Center

walmart_balzac

This photo was taken in Balzac at Walmart’s fresh food distribution center. The engineers and construction workers who designed and built this facility – located in the southern portion of the Canadian province of Alberta – used infrared camera to identify energy waste points throughout the center, including at all of the loading docks. Today, this [...]

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Plugged In

How to be 20% more efficient for just $50

freezer

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), for a price premium of $350, U.S. consumers can buy a refrigerator or freezer that will use 35% less energy over its lifetime (compared to a base model). But, the relationship between incremental cost increase and energy savings is not a linear one. What does this mean? [...]

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Plugged In

Secretary of Energy sees a critical role for energy efficiency

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This month, CNBC released a list of energy sector “Disruptors” – five energy companies that they believe “are uniquely positioned to influence the future of the energy market and climate policy.” Their list shed light on a strengthening energy sector trend toward increasing emphasis on energy efficiency. This topic was also the focus of Dr. Ernest [...]

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Plugged In

My computer recharged because I wrote this blog…

…well, not exactly. But, it could happen soon thanks to a nanogenerator created by Dr. Zhong Lin Wang and his team at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, Ga. Watch my short video to see how. Video: Shannon Alderman: Producer/Editor. Robynne Boyd: Writer/Editor

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Plugged In

New journal explores efficiency – a hidden energy resource

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The best way to meet increasing energy demand might not be to supply more. But, while efficiency improves security, hurdles abound. Last night, the latest edition of the International Energy Agency (IEA) Journal was released. Titled “Visualising the ‘Hidden’ Fuel of Energy Efficiency,” this publication focuses on efficiency as a valuable tool in our energy [...]

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Plugged In

Negawatts and Megawatts – When Less Makes Money

Night Shot of Colorado's Capital Complex

Note: Many statements contained in this piece are the result of an in-person interview between the author (Melissa C. Lott) and Chevron Energy Solutions’s President, Jim Davis in the fall of 2011. In the future, the world will demand more energy than it does today. While the exact amount might be disputed, with a global [...]

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Plugged In

Looking forward: energy efficiency from the computer to the cloud

Last month MIT’s Technology Review reported on a new development that the energy efficiency of computers doubles roughly every 18 months: The conclusion, backed up by six decades of data, mirrors Moore’s law, the observation from Intel founder Gordon Moore that computer processing power doubles about every 18 months. But the power-consumption trend might have [...]

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Plugged In

Guest Post: LEED – Not just a pretty plaque, and certainly not perfect

plaque

By C. Sylvan A building revolution is happening right under our noses. And it looks like this (see left). You may have seen this plaque at the entrance to Office Depot, in the lobby of your office building, or at a multi-family housing development in your area. This plaque means that the building has achieved [...]

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Solar at Home

My Electric Bill Was WHAT?!? Analyze Your Power Use with These 3 Web Sites

In one of the best quips I’ve ever heard at a scientific conference, cosmologist Max Tegmark complained about a lecturer’s vagueness and pleaded for some quantitative predictions: “numbers—you know, the kind with decimals in them.” Like Tegmark, I love data. Concrete information beats hand-waving speculation any day. So it’s awfully fun to use a home [...]

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Solar at Home

What you really need to install solar: A CPA

Pile of solar paperwork

Editor’s Note: Scientific American’s George Musser will be chronicling his experiences installing solar panels in 60-Second Solar. Read his introduction here and see all posts here. When people talk about using renewable energy to save both energy and jobs, the jobs they’re usually referring to are engineering and construction. But if my solar experience is [...]

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Solar at Home

How I saved money quickly and easily by adjusting our pressuretrol

Editor’s Note: Scientific American‘s George Musser will be chronicling his experiences installing solar panels in 60-Second Solar. Read his introduction here and see all posts here. Monday’s New York Times had an op-ed piece about our house. Well, at least it felt like it was about our house. The author, Richard Moe of the National [...]

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Symbiartic

The Three Little Pigs Never Thought of This Building Material

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Bricks, sticks, and hay are decidedly pedestrian building materials in comparison to a new building that just opened to the public last Thursday in Hamburg, Germany. Ambitious architects have built an apartment covered in a thin layer of living, breathing algae. The building, known as BIQ (for Bio Intelligent Quotient), meets the extremely stringent passive-house [...]

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The Curious Wavefunction

Vaclav Smil: “The great hope for a quick and sweeping transition to renewable energy is wishful thinking”

Vaclav Smil (Image: Wikipedia Commons)

That’s Vaclav Smil, the prolific University of Manitoba thinker writing in this month’s issue of Scientific American. When Smil says something I usually listen. In the last two decades he has written more than 30 books on almost every imaginable aspect of energy, the environment and the biosphere. The typical Smil approach – and one that [...]

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The Curious Wavefunction

Political ideology can dominate other factors in choosing energy efficiency

Energy efficiency sounds like a good idea on multiple fronts; mitigating global warming, reducing dependence on foreign oil and saving money. Conservatives and liberals may disagree about the first reason, but you would expect both of them to enthusiastically embrace energy efficiency based on the other two reasons. Yet we find attitudes toward energy efficiency [...]

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