Category Archives: alternative energy

Quick Sustainable Tip: Reuse Greeting Cards

Tis the season for purging all of our holiday garbage.  I just came across the St. Jude’s website that will hopefully be beneficial for anyone with holiday greeting cards still lying around.  They’ve created a recycled card program that reuses the front of any greeting card and creates a new card.  You benefit by keeping your cards from a landfill, and St. Jude’s benefits by teaching children lessons about sustainability and from selling the reused cards to better promote the program.

Definitely check it out.

Getting to know Green: Green myths debunked

This is just a quick post of some green myths I came across. It’s becoming more difficult to say what is considered green anymore. Companies, service providers, and anyone else in the business of selling something are paying their marketing departments top dollars for any convincing argument that their products and services are “green”. They typically don’t have to scientifically prove how green (if they’re green at all), but they only need to be able to convince the consumer.

The following green myths include tidbits about drinking water, organic foods, light bulbs, carbon offsets, and even Christmas trees.

Are CFLs all that good?

This is just something to ponder the next time you see or hear a claim that CFLs (compact fluorescent light bulbs) are better for you. These are the instructions from Energy Star (a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Department of Energy Program) for cleaning up a broken fluorescent bulb (see near the end of page two of this document):

1.) Before clean-up: Air out the room

– Have people and pets leave the room, and don’t let anyone walk through the breakage area on their way out.

– Open a window and leave the room for 15 minutes or more.

– Shut off the central forced-air heating/air conditioning system, if you have one.

Can you think of anything else that is good for the environment that requires you (and your pets) to leave the room for 15 minutes in case of breakage? Being “green” sometimes (and by sometimes I mean almost every single time) focuses on one aspect of a product/design/strategy that provides benefits over the status quo, but sometimes those benefits are evened out by the negative attributes of the product/design/strategy.

CFLs use much less energy than incandescent light bulbs, but are not nearly as efficient as LEDs. The color rendition CFL is different from incandescent and LED bulbs (CFLs typically produce a warmer light, which to my dismay made the butterscotch-like colored walls in my house appear more like a puke-green). And CFLs cost a little more than incandescents, which means it’s much much cheaper than LEDs.

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t replace your incandescent bulbs with CFLs. A large amount of energy would be conserved if everyone used CFLs. I’m merely offering information to ponder – that green comes in many shades.

Tools for Calculating Potential Solar and Wind Power

windmill-in-field-blog

I just came across two very cool tools for calculating the potential energy savings for implementing solar and wind power.

The first one is the In My Back Yard from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).  This tool allows you to calculate potential energy savings through solar and wind power.  The savings is based on where your property is located and the information you specify for either the windmill(s) to be used (type, height, etc.) or the information for the solar panels (size, slope of roof, orientation, etc.).  The output for the wind power is a little difficult for me to decipher, but for solar power the information is very easy to understand and provides data on incentives available for purchasing the technology.  As for the payback, the NREL tool seems to compare the cost of the system with the utility rate you’re paying.  It doesn’t seem to account that adding the solar panels in the first place should increase the value of your home.

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