Archive for the ‘Conservation’ category

Greenhouse Gases – What you Don’t Know, Part 2

March 26, 2007

26 Mar 2007 – Significant GHG’s include water vapor, carbon dioxide (CO2), and methane.  Scientific data shows methane in our atmosphere has increased 149% over the past 250 years while CO2 increased 31%.  The methane is a direct result of human activity on our planet, emitting from landfills, feedlots, livestock manure, human and animal waste treatment facilities.  Efforts are underway to tap these significant sources of methane emission – for fuel.  Increased atmospheric concentrations of the GHG methane have paralleled but lagged the following human population explosion of the past 250 years.

Year vs. Human Population
1000  –  10 million
1800  –  1 Billion
1927  –  2 Billion
1960  –  3 Billion
1974  –  4 Billion
1987  –  5 Billion
1999  –  6 Billion
2010  –  ?

(It took millions of years to reach 3 Billion inhabitants; 39 years to get the second 3 Billion)

It is clear where CO2 emissions come from and what influences them, but most of us are unaware that we influence methane and water vapor emissions as well.  In a “GHG contributers” pie, CO2 is but one slice.

If severe greenhouse effects cause severe global warming, wouldn’t an intelligent solution involve reduction of ALL GHG’s, not just CO2?

For example, we can irrigate deserts.  The question is “should we?” – especially since more appropriate places exist where crops are not currently being cultivated.  Localized greenhouse effects due to increased water vapor levels in these normally arid zones contribute to planet heat gain.

In some cases, suggested solutions may not meet our scrutiny.

What percentage of the carbon in ethanol and other biofuels is pulled out of the atmosphere by plants, and what percentage is “mined” by them from the carbon-rich layers of the soil?  What percentage of additional CO2 emissions results from the fermentation process of ethanol?  How much water is “mined” from the ground to produce ethanol?  How much energy is consumed to pump and process the water?  How much fossil fuel is required to cook the plant material when making ethanol?  What additional percentage of CO2 comes from this source?  Is this sustainable, or could we actually reduce overall CO2 emissions by fueling with natural gas instead of ethanol?

For this reason, ethanol may only be a “Bandaid”, but yet help transition us to a multi-faceted, sustainable energy solution such as solar-produced hydrogen.

The effects of our human populations weigh heavily on our environment.  Elimination and reduction of unnecessary and wasteful consumption of resources and products are ways we, as individuals, can address the interconnected issues of environmental sustainability.  As long as we are willing to make the effort.  I will; will you?

Looking out for the planet,

– Lars

Read Part 1 of the article


Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFL)

March 24, 2007

23 Mar 2007 – Want to personally make a difference in the world?  Replace your incandescent bulbs with new compact fluorescent lamps (CFL’s).  Use this  easy CFL Energy Calculator to see how much money you can save!  Just input information about existing incandescent lightbulbs and proposed compact fluorescent lamps for a certain area of your home or business – to see the payback period on your investment and your savings!

The Light Bulbs Etc. company also sells a wide variety of CFL’s in various sizes, shapes, and quantities.  Their prices seem reasonable, if bought in bulk.  They sell CFL’s in the range from 15 to 500 Watt equivalents.

You can Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions by 20 Pounds Today

February 27, 2007

26 Feb 2007 – Are YOU personally doing your part?  Forget about pointing fingers at industry for a moment.  What is one simple way you can eliminate production of 20 pounds of greenhouse gases today?

Here’s how.  Prevent just one gallon of gasoline from being burned.  That’s right.  Eliminate a trip.  Combine trips.  Carpool to work.  You figure it out.

Whether businesses or individuals, we don’t ask others to go the extra mile, unless we are willing to do it ourselves!  That’s where it has to start.



February 23, 2007

22 Feb 2007 – It does not matter if you believe in global warming or just in energy reduction or conservation – if you have replaced incandescent lightbulbs in your home with compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) – pay a visit to the website entitled 18seconds .  It is named after the amount of time it takes to change out a lightbulb.

Each CFL eliminates 450 pounds or 200 kilograms of greenhouse gas emissions over its life!

Thanks for reducing your energy intensity – Lars.

“Greenest” Vehicle runs on Natural Gas

February 11, 2007

According to the greenest vehicle for 2007 is the CNG (compressed natural gas) Honda Civic GX 1.8 liter, 4 cyl.  Edging out the Toyota Prius by two points, the CNG Honda Civic GX surpassed 3 hybrids to earn the top spot.  The new subcompact Toyota Yaris earned the fifth place ranking with 40 mpg highway and 34 mpg in the city.

Sylvania Releasing New PSH Ballast in 2007

February 10, 2007

9 Feb 2007 – Word on the street is that Sylvania will be releasing a new 100,000 cycle, high-ballast factor ProStart “PSH” ballast later this year.  This will compete with the high-ballast factor GE Ultrastart.

Not only will the PSH drive more lumens out of each lamp than any existing ProStart PSX or PSL ballast, but it will provide significantly longer life to lamps than Sylvania’s current line of high-ballast factor, instant start ballasts.

The PSH is a welcome addition, opening up new retrofit options for offices hoping to de-lamp fixtures from four to two without sacrificing light output, while gaining incredible lamp life – even on highly cycled lighting, such as those with occupancy sensors.  Some installations will likely never replace a lamp!

Turn Off Fluorescent Lights or Let Them Burn?

February 10, 2007

9 Feb 2007 – If you leave your office or room for only a few minutes, should you turn your fluorescent lights off?  The answer is YES.  Here’s why.

With the latest generation of fluorescent lighting fixtures and electronic ballasts, the energy required to restart your lights is small.  The energy savings cutoff time is less than 10 seconds.

The real question is, do you have the right fluorescent ballasts to be turning your lights on and off 24 times per day?

Your lamp life depends on your ballast and your application.  There are basically two types of electronic ballast that could be driving your lights.  One is called an “Instant Start” ballast.  The other is a “Programmed Start” (or rapid start) ballast.

How are they different and how do they affect lamp life?

Instant Start.  Lamps being lit by an instant start ballast prefer to be left on.  An area such as a kitchen lit continuously for hours might be a good candidate for instant start ballasts.  If you frequently “cycle” or turn on and off the lights, you will shorten the life of the lamps.  If you have occupancy sensors installed, you will probably be disappointed in the lamp life with instant start ballasts.  But if only switched a few times per day, instant start ballasts are the way to go.  They will give efficient long life to the lamps.

Programmed Start.  Bathroom or office lighting, on the other hand, might be cycled many more than 20 times per day.  These areas would be better suited to lighting systems with programmed start ballasts.  These systems tolerate the frequent cycling of lights without premature burnout of lamps; and they are designed to work with occupancy sensors – which automatically do the energy-saving switching for you.

So, what do you have?  Safely lock out the electricity; pull your tubes (lamps); take off the cover plate; and check the printing on your ballasts.  Abbreviations such as “IS” indicate Instant Start, while PS or RS refer to Programmed Start or Rapid Start.  If you need to swap out some fixtures or ballasts, safely use your new-found knowledge and then start getting some better life out of those lamps!

Again, if you have instant start ballasts on fluorescent light fixtures located in areas which are cycled frequently – and you are not happy with the life of your lamps – then switch to a programmed or rapid start ballast such as the GE Ultrastart or the Sylvania ProStart PSN, which can handle 100,000 cycles.  Just make sure your lamps are also “matched” to the ballast.  There are many types of lamps out there!  Don’t be afraid to ask a knowledgeable dealer or Rep for help.


the Energy Geek