Posts Tagged ‘renewables’

A Worldwide Energy Transition

November 6, 2014


Last month, as we celebrated Energy Action month, we took a look at the Residential Energy Consumption Survey.  It showed that we are using more energy than ever before.  Efforts are being made not only nationwide, but worldwide to improve that number.  The Energiewende is what they are calling it and Germany is leading the push.  The New York Times writes, “Germany will soon be getting 30 percent of their power from renewable energy sources.  Many smaller countries are beating that, but Germany is by far the largest industrial power to reach that level in the modern era.  It is more than twice the percentage in the United States.”

It sounds like we have some catching up to do and we, at GreenHomes, couldn’t agree more.  There’s no better place to start saving energy than our homes.  Making your home more energy efficient whether that’s through proper air sealing and insulation, a right-sized AC or furnace, or even solar panels, can all help decrease our energy consumption.  And, if it helps, saving energy in your home will leave you more comfortable and lower your utility bills.

Read the full New York Times article referenced above, here:

Thanks for stopping by!


What’s wrong with this picture? Efficiency before renewables usually makes the most sense.

January 29, 2011

Thanks to GreenHomes America’s Home Performance Training Manager, Jason Todd for passing along this photo which begs a few questions.  When we’re looking at home energy, we like to focus on energy efficiency before we starting adding on renewable energy sources like solar and wind.   As Brett Knox likes to repeat “Reduce before You Produce”.  This picture suggests that someone may have taken another path.

We’ve certainly talked a lot about icicles and ice damming here.  And the summary version is they are not good and indicate you’re wasting energy and money.  The snow melt patterns on the roof and the icicles suggest that this house is losing a lot of heat through it’s attic and roof.

The cost to correct this (with good air-sealing and insulation details) on most homes is generally less than the cost of a solar hot water system as pictured here (partially buried under snow in the center of the photo).  And the energy savings,  carbon reductions, and other benefits, are typically greater with the efficiency measures than with this system.  Further, correcting the heat loss problem helps prevent the possible roof and structural damage that can result from ice build up.  This is a case where the economic, environmental, and comfort advantage of efficiency make a lot more sense than starting with solar.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m a fan of solar, and we install it.  Solar hot water makes sense for a lot of people, and it is a great entree into renewables.  Most of the time, though, renewable energy makes the most sense AFTER you’ve taken the low hanging fruit offered by energy-efficiency.  Efficiency First!

[BTW, regarding solar hot water systems, in many cases I prefer the flat-plate collectors show in this video, over the evacuated tube collectors pictured above.  Flat-plate collectors  tend to be less expensive, more durable, and we’ve seen fewer issues up north with snow building up and inhibiting the collector.  Conversely, a lot of people report that snow collects around the nooks and crannies of the evacuated tubes and doesn’t shed off easily.]


NYTimes: U.S. Military Orders Less Dependence on Fossil Fuels

October 16, 2010

Last week, the NY Times reported on the “greening” of the military, and their focus on reducing fossil fuel use.  There moving in this direction because it makes sense–it increases their operation security.

And as a country, we ought to be looking at it in much the same way.  This isn’t about tree-hugging (although I’m certainly now above hugging the occasional tree).  It’s also about economic vitality and national security.  If we throw our money overseas, it doesn’t stay here in our own communities.  If we rely on the rest of the world for our energy needs, we become beholden to them.  If we pump pollution into the atmosphere, we pay for it with increases health costs, damaged crops and forests, and barren lakes.

We should practice the common sense policy of efficiency first.  Because it’s smart economics, it increases our security, and it good stewarship of of resources–for its own sake and for ours.


Efficiency First!

June 29, 2009

It’s good to see some journalists getting this right.   In a June 8 article, Thomas Content of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinal pointed out the need to look at energy-efficiency first, before renewables like  wind.  Drawing on the McKinsey cost curve (here, as depicted in National Geographic) and other studies, showing as he quotes DOE Secretary Chu, “Energy efficiency is not just low-hanging fruit; it is fruit lying on the ground.”

Sari Krieger of the Wall Street Journal also covers this in her June 15 article “Before Adding, Try Reducing”.   She quotes Peter Welch of Vemont, “We should have the policy of efficiency first.”


WSJ article: Efficiency First!

March 6, 2009

In today’s Wall Street Journal, Jeff Ball writes an article “Cutting-Edge Energy Technologies Such as Solar Panels Don’t Deliver as Much Bang as Plugging Leaky Homes”. He explores the opportunities for a GreenHomes customer, and rightly points out how much sense it makes to look at energy-efficiency in homes.


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