Posts Tagged ‘LED’

Set Phasors on Stun! Scottie, Warp Power Up to Full Capacity!

September 20, 2013

phasor

It was reported recently  that some bright folks have figured out that if you watch the current of the power grid with phasor measurement units (picture colorful layers of EKG displays),it will reveal potential disruptions in the power supply nationwide and help us catch a problem before it gets too big, like it did in the summer of 2003 when 50 million people lost power.

Knowing when trouble is coming is great but if we tax the grid with cooling and lighting, watching re runs of Star Trek, and running blenders for margaritas’ in the summer, what do we do about it?

Either generate more power (Que Scottish accent shouting “I dannae is she can’t take any more captain!”) or we change our behavior (put the blender away)  We may have escaped this summer unscathed, but reducing our electircal load year round is a great idea.

Here’s one more option:  Energy efficient appliances, lighting and homes!  When you replace appliances or lighting, make sure it EnergyStar rated or is a LED or CFL for lighting.  As for our homes, increasing your comfort can mean reducing your bills as well and using less from the grid at the same time.  Air sealing and insulation makes a big difference on the cooling bill.  Consider a home performance assessment, that way your shields will be up and ready for anything.

Thanks,

Jason

Equipment: Reach for the stars!

September 18, 2013

I’ve been talking about the demonstration home at one of our locations lately, and ASI installed some great upgrades including a high efficiency water heater and HVAC system, Energy star appliances, and LED lighting.  We’ve discussed many of these things in the past because they make sense, especially when electric rates can be high.

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It’s a great idea to reduce the wattage of lights but who wants to read in the dark?  Lighting is like comfort, you don’t need to compromise in order to be more efficient.  When it comes to lighting, Lower wattage CFL’s and LED’s allow us the best of both worlds just like high efficiency equipment.  As an added bonus, the LED lighting that we install has a life of over 50,000 hours. That’s a lifetime for most people.

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They say HVAC is the heart of home performance and good equipment goes hand and hand with good buildings, these are stars that are both within your reach.

Thanks,

Jason

 

Can the LED Mean no More Excuses?

June 14, 2013

We have written about LED lighting in the past, and there are lots of good reasons to consider it in your home.  The recessed lighting options out there can help with energy savings as well as tackling a troublesome air sealing dilemma.

P1050845 P1050846P1050874 P1050856

But the big hurdle for me is the light bulb. We use them everywhere in our homes and in places where we really need them like to read or get down the stairs.  There have a number of bulbs making their way to market, and one of them is CREE.

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It did cost me $12, but my biggest complaint is that I may have to keep the receipt for 10 years if it fails under warranty.  If it only lasts 10 years, it will have been a $1.20 a year investment and I expect to spend that much a year to keep it on about 6 hours a day since it uses only 9.5 watts produces 800 lumens.  An incandescent might cost $8 a year to burn the same hours and it sure won’t last 10 years.

What does it look like though, since nostalgia and good looks matter and have kept some of us from changing standard light bulbs to compact fluorescents.    Go figure, I think it looks like a light bulb.  I’m running out of excuses. Even with antique fixtures, something crying for an old Edison bulb I think it looks pretty good.

Thanks,

Jason

 

Wave that Geek Flag! It’s not Flowers, Peace and Love Anymore

May 2, 2012

Many Americans love their TVs, and it must be “love” otherwise why would we spend so much on something that takes up so much real estate on the living room wall!   Until recently they used a lot of energy too.

According to a recent posting from the NYT, “Incorporating LED and laser technology has helped slash the energy consumption of new TV models by nearly 50 percent within the last three years.”   But really it’s not efficiency claims selling these sets in some parts of the country, its “technology” or “better picture quality”.

What sets these TVs apart is the Energy Forward label which identifies a small group of the most efficient Energy Star appliances.  The Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance, a utility supported non-profit organization based in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana, is behind the label and they have taken an interesting approach.  Since TV watchers are prone to “geek out” by wanting the best set, it seems leveraging this “weakness” and making the best sets energy efficient is a win-win situation.

Collectively, small savings add up when everyone tunes in to the evening news on a high efficiency TV.  The important shift recognized here is that comfort and efficiency don’t have to conflict.  We fix homes to make them more comfortable.  It just so happens that is a wonderful side effect of reducing energy usage as well!

Peace,

Jason

LED Lighting Facts: New Consumer Label for Lighting

February 13, 2012

 

Expect to see LED light bulb packaging sport a new label this summer.  The intent is to introduce some transparency in the market and guard against exaggerated claims in lighting performance.  

This should lend some clarity on lumens, (a measure of the light output) how many lumens per watt, helping us better understand the bulb’s efficiency as well as the light color.  One of the arguments against migrating away from incandescent has been the quality of the light.   Hopeful labeling will help shed some light on this subject (sorry I couldn’t resist). More here at lightingfacts.com

Thanks,

Jason

The Ancestors

October 7, 2011

Old light - New light

True to form as an American, my family is a hodge-podge of ancestry new and old,  New Englanders that were Mayflower descendants, mid-western farmers who were horse thieves or ministers, to immigrants here for just a few generations scraping by working in mills.    I don’t think they ever made it to America, or if they did the left, but somewhere on my wife’s side of the family tree are Vikings.  I imagine they were probably good at plundering, lighting their way with a good oil soaked torch.  It’s good to know where you come from.

In the lighting family tree, the baby of the bunch is the LED light attempting to unseat the CFL as the next best thing.  I’ve mentioned some innovations with LED’s recently, Mike’s talked about Cree lighting  and we know it’s important to conserve with lighting as well. But If I had to ask any of those family members from long ago if they would rather spend $1 or say $30 on a light bulb (accounting for inflation and converting it to the currency that makes sense, say Viking Pennigars) I can guess the response.

Over generations things change, for one thing, humans now tend to live past thirty. Light bulbs last a lot longer too, especially LED’s.   That sure is a bonus when the fixture is way up there, and requires a ladder, maybe a really long ladder!    As I think about the benefits of LED lighting, I thought it would be good to find out where it came from and how it works compared to other types of bulbs.  

LED stands for Light Emitting Diode, a diode being a thing that electric current flows through.  Electrons flow, photons are emitted i.e. light. They are small and efficient but expensive.  

Most are familiar with Compact Fluorescent Lighting, a CFL has a phosphorus coating on the tube that lights up when the argon and mercury vapors inside get charged with electricity. 

The old fashioned incandescent bulb is essentially a heating element surrounded by gas which produces light.  In fact an incandescent bulb 90% of its energy is emitted as heat rather than light, not very efficient for lighting but great for heating except that for most electric heating is not very cost effective.

GE invented the first practical LED in 1962 those of a certain age will recognize them as the vibrant red of clock radios watches and pocket calculators (these things now come in smart phones almost exclusively, but that little flashing green light telling you there is a message is also a LED) They’ve gotten better since then.

So what’s good about a LED lightbulb?  Longevity:  some last 35,000 – 50,000 hours better than a CFL’s 7,000-10,000 hours or an incandescent’s 1000 hours or so.   Very inexpensive runtimes, a draw of 10w or so, a variety of color, blending different colors manufacturers can get a light that pleases the eye.  Unlike CFL’s it’s not recommended that you evacuate the room when they break, and LED’s are dimmable.  Next week I will talk about a few LED’s on the market now as well as some coming out by the end of the year that promise to be even better.  Much better than whale oil lamps and torches, that’s for sure.  My apologies to any relatives still using those, but there is a better way.

Thanks,

Jason

image of Match and LED’s from Wikicommons

The Incandescent Lighting Meltdown

May 7, 2011

You know I’m a fan of the CREE CR6 LED light.  Mostly because it performs great.  And partly because it’s energy efficient.

Standard incandescent lights waste about 90% of their energy use on producing heat instead of light.  Think about that in the hot summer months every time you turn a light on!

Well, the folks at CREE found a good way to demonstrate this using the Easter Bunny.

Think about that as we head into the summer cooling season.  You pay to waste electricity on inefficient lighting.  And then you either sweat or pay again to remove the extra heat with your air-conditioner.  A double whammy.

CREE CR6 is on the streets–and it looks like a winner!

December 19, 2010

[Note–see longer review posted on Dec 31, 2010.]

I finally got my hands on a the LED CREE CR6 for recessed lighting applications and gave it a quick test run.  It looks and works great.  I’ll post a more complete review soon, with pictures.  Meanwhile, I’m giving it a big thumbs up.  It and the CREE LR6 stand at the top of the heap, with HALO’s LED fixture not far behind (and ahead in a few applications).  Here’s a product that in many respects beats all comers in its class–incandescent, halogen, and flourescent (and other LED) lighting.

Thanks,
Mike

STILL waiting on CREE’s CR6

September 12, 2010

[Note–see review posted on Dec 31, 2010.]

I know I said I’d be reviewing the CREE CR6.  And I will…if I can even get some.  My local suppliers keep saying another month, another month, the story they’re getting from CREE.  A lot of folks have contacted us looking for more info.   As soon as I can get my hands on the product, I’ll let you know.

Meanwhile, do check out the posts on the CREE LR6 and HALO LEDs, ready-for-prime-time products.

Thanks,
Mike

A Green Bathroom–Energy and Water Efficient

November 7, 2009

OK, so you what to make your home more efficient, but you need bathroom makeover–or a new bathroom altogether–and you need it now.  There are still things you can do that will have an immediate impact and improve your home’s overall performance and energy-efficiency.  Here’s a real example from a project being wrapped up right now.

dense packing cellulose insulationWe’d like you to start by taking a look at the whole home’s performance.  At a minimum, you’ll want to look for thermal deficiences–air leaks and poor insulation around the bathroom iteself (and we always want to look at combustion safety before and after!).  Key spots include areas behind tubs and shower enclosures–often ignored and left wide open when building a home.  Of course, you want to make sure you have adequate insulation in the walls–in this case the walls were completely empty and needed to be dense packed with cellulose.  Replacing the tub also allowed easy access to make just the critical air-sealing was done.

One of the early parts of a project is making sure the plumbing in in order.  This particular project required new supply and drain lines–and this opened up a few big opportunities.  First, the water heater (actually an indirect storage tank fed by a 96% efficient sealed combustion boiler) was moved directly under the bathroom, about 40 feet closer to the bathroom.  This is a big deal from both an energy and a water efficiency perspecitive.  The closer your hot water is to the bathroom, the less time you wait for hot water for your shower, the less water that goes down the drain, and the less heat lost as water left in the pipes after you’re done cools down.  

GFXOn a related point–and one that’s likely to require some wrestling with the plumbing inspector–you can use smaller diameter pipes (IF you’re using low-flow faucets and shower heads so you still get sufficient supply–this is a big deal, but too complicated to go into hear.  (Google “structured plumbling”.)

The other opportunity on the drain side is “drainwater heat recovery“, using a device which lets you capture heat going down your drain and using it to preheat incoming cold water–saving the amount of heat you need to dump into the incoming water and saving you energy and money.  This is hard to do in a one-story house with no basement or crawlspaces, but makes sense for a lot of homeowners.  The less water you need to heat, the less energy you use.

EPA has kicked off a “WaterSense” program to help identify water efficient products and practices.

efficient toilet

There are many choices.  This particular toilet by Toto uses 1.28 gallons per flush, and it works!  Unlike the low-volume toilets of several years ago, the better ones have been designed specifically to work at lower volumes.  And they do.

shower headNew shower heads also use a lot less–and still deliver a comfortable shower.  In this case, the 1.6 gallon per minute shower head hasn’t arrived yet, but the one in place uses a reasonable 2.5 gallons per minute.  Again, less water over all, and the less hot water you use, the less you pay to heat it.  The are a variety of shower heads that will take you even lower–with good results.  Personal preferences come into play here, but most people should be able to find a 1.6 gpm low-flow fixture that works for them.  And many are happy with some even lower flow heads.

You didn’t expect me to leave this topic without talking about electricity, and I won’t!  Using efficient bathroom lighting can chip away at the electic bill.  CFLs have come a long way, and can provide excellent quality light.  Dedicated CFL fixtures are available in a wide variety of styles ranging from basic to high-end designs.  In this example, the sconces on either side of the mirror have a bright, instant-on lamp, in a warm color that avoids the sterile flourescent look that some find ghastly.  As you can see in the inset picture below, the fixture is a dedicated CFL fixture, and only accepts CFL lamps, no screw ins.  LED technology is evolving, it not ready for prime time in lamps intended to send light in all directions, and it wouldn’t yet be a good fit for these scones.

CFL sconce in green bathroom remodel

While LED lamps aren’t ready for sconce applications, they excel in recessed can fixtures.  I’ve written on the CREE and HALO recessed can LEDs before.  Both are great choices today.  In the case, the HALO fixtures were used because they come with a trim kit rated for wet locations.

HALO LED lighting and Panasonic Bath FanYou’ll also notice in the picture an ENERGY STAR labeled Panasonic bath fan.  It’s quiet and efficient and really gets the job done.  In this particular project, it will eventually be replaced by a heat recovery ventilator, but it along with the Renewaire bath fan are excellent fan choices.

As an aside, I often make light fun of bamboo as a green choice.  This isn’t really a condemnation of bamboo or any other sustainable material.  My beef is that people focus on materials before they consider they overall performance of a home–comfort, safety, durability (what good is it if you let greener materials rot in a poorly designed home?), and energy-efficiency.  Having said that, when you’ve got the performance issues ironed out, it’s great to look at materials, too.  And in the picture above, I really like the bamboo used on the ceiling.  There, I said it! 

Of course, at the end of this project, having added ventilation fans and done insulation and air-sealing, we need to again check equipment for combustion safety, and check pipes for gas leaks!  The combustion safety is a bit easier since the project included switching over to a sealed combustion boiler.  But this is an important step not to be ignored.

Even in a bathroom remodel, you can apply home performance concepts and wind up with results that make you happier–less waiting for hot water–and not running out of hot water! and eliminating drafts, condensation, and moisture and mildew problems.  And you save energy, to boot.  Good stuff!

Thanks,
Mike


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