Archive for October, 2009

11-1 Bowling Bonanza – Don’t Miss It!!!
Sunday’s Lights Out, Green In “11-1 Bowling Bonanza” from 1-3 p.m. at Town Hall Lanes (1463 Atwood Ave., Johnston, R.I.) will cost $20 whether you made a reservation or show up at the door unannounced. The $20 price includes 2 hours of bowling, bowling shoes, entry into raffles, drinks and food. There will also be silent auctions and a 50/50 raffle. And you can purchase your very own Lights Out, Green In T-shirt at the event for a $25 donation. The fundraiser will help the all-volunteer LOGI raise funds to promote its message of conservation (primarily its 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. pledge) and to provide low-income residents with energy-saver bulbs. Reserve your spot today by emailing or RSVPing on Evite or Facebook.

A wrap on Macy’s fundraiser
Macy’s“Shop For A Cause” on Sat. Oct. 17 was a success for Lights Out, Green In, raising more than $250 for the organization.  Thanks to all who bought the 25% discount coupons for $5 – and to all those extra go-getters who sold them to friends or co-workers. The purchases added up for Lights Out, Green In … and I’m sure the coupon added up to big savings for those who bought them.

LOGI exhibits
Coming off a successful appearance at the “Flames of Hope” WaterFire in October for the Gloria Gemma Breast Cancer Foundation, Lights Out, Green In will next be at the Pawtucket Wintertime Market in November. The market at the Hope Artiste Village at 1005 Main St. in Pawtucket will run Saturdays through May from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. LOGI hopes to make a handful of appearances over that time and its first one will likely be Saturday, Nov. 7. The exhibit will allow people to sign up for the 11-1 pledge and to donate to LOGI (a $25 donation is rewarded with a T-shirt) and will help spread the message of conservation. The WaterFire exhibit in October – part of a much larger rally for breast cancer awareness – helped LOGI garner scores of 11-1 pledges.

Vampire electronics
Halloween is days away, but do you know how to fend off vampires yet? Well, here’s some help stopping “vampire electronics,” which are gadgets that use energy even when you’re not using them. Included are  accessories such as coffeemakers, microwaves and cell phone chargers. Simply unplugging the devices  when they’re not in use can help you save money on your electricity bill. Lights Out, Green In was featured in a Boston Herald article on the subject – and you can read more on the topic on our blog.

Web changes
Check out Lights Out, Green In’s polished look on Facebook. The sleek format
allows you to invite others who are interested to join the group with just a click of the button on the lefthand side. As always, follow us on Twitter to get daily conservation news updates.

As Halloween approaches, vampires are all the rage these days. They’ve surpassed ghosts. But you should also be scared of “vampire electronics.”

Chris Carlson – a spokesperson and board member for Lights Out, Green In – sat down with the Boston Herald to talk about the effects of the energy-sucking products.

Let’s break it down by defining the problem:

1. Vampire electronics use a lot of energy and it’s one of the easy ways you can conserve energy. You can make your way through a room with lights out at night just from the glow from LED displays on microwaves, coffee pots, the cable box and everything else – even on standby. Vampire Electronics use a lot of energy and turning them off when they’re not in use would add up to savings you can really see in your electronic bill.

2. As we’re becoming more aware of conserving energy, we’re offsetting that effort with as we rely even more on electronics. So you may be cutting down on emissions by recycling and reusing things, but you’re also charging your cellphone and iPod every day and you have a cable box, plasma TV and DVD player using energy.

How can we change this:

1. Govt. regulations. Cell phone carriers reached an agreement earlier this year to make all cellphones use a universal charger that would also cut energy use by half. These type of regulations for all such products (similar to EPA standards on MPG for cars) would go a long way.

2. Architectural changes. A lot of outlets are in hard-to-reach places in houses and apartments for aesthetic reasons. Builders of energy efficient houses are building them in easier to reach places or having them controlled by switches. You make it more convenient and people will make the minor effort to change their habits. A coffee pot might be plugged into an easy to reach outlet, but a cable box likely is harder.

3. Power strips. Too lazy to go around your house and unplug everything when it’s not in use? Make it easier by plugging into power strips, which you can just switch off with one flick.

4. Change in habits. Like with a lot of energy conservation, it’s a lot of changing your habits. Just like using natural sunlight when you can.

Don’t forget, next Sunday (11/1) is LOGI’s bowling fundraising event, from 1-3 at Town Hall Lanes in Johnston.  RSVP by Wednesday and you save $5 on admission.  We hope you can spare some time and strike a blow for energy conservation.

So far, the Senate’s climate bill is more ambitious than the House version, according to the Washington Post, and the EPA estimates it will add about $100 a year to household energy bills (and not the thousands claimed by industry studies) (MSNBC).  Meanwhile, this New York Times article says that the bill has cushions for industry.

The Washington Post also reports that China has begun to make progress on reducing emissions, and this article about young adults trying their hands at sustainable agriculture.

A slew of electric vehicles are poised to hit the market in the next few years, reports the L.A. Times, while the New York Times notes that hybrid buses are becoming increasingly popular.  Also in the L.A. Times, drought in Africa has created a growing number of climate refugees, and the EPA has pledged to set, by 2011, emissions limits for oil and coal-fired power plants.

President Obama praises Massachusetts and MIT for their clean energy efforts (Boston Globe).  Speaking of Boston, could anyone imagine making it through winter in Beantown without heat?  According to the Globe, this family is going to try.

More than 60 years after the Manhattan Project, stimulus money is being used to clean up a dumping ground used by the project (New York Times).

Environmental groups hope 4 green bills will be passed in Rhode Island (Providence Journal).

Auto recyclers are struggling to keep up with all the vehicles traded in during Cash for Clunkers (MSNBC).

If you bring your own containers to restaurants, it cuts down on waste from leftovers.

If you know your history, you know the Italians have been at the forefront of many technological advances by mankind through the years. If you read this site, you know LED lighting is a technological advance that could revolutionize lighting beyond incandescent bulbs and compact fluorescent light bulbs. It is therefore no surprise that the Italians are leading the charge in the LED industry.

A couple of years ago, Torraca, Italy, signed on as the first “All-LED City.” Less than a month ago, Apecchio, Italy, became the second Italian city to make the move. Both are cities of less than 2,500 people and they changed all their streetlights and all other municipally-run lights at parks, etc. Apecchio’s move reduced energy use by 65 percent.

There’s a lot of different angles to consider in all this and this Scientific American article does a great job summing most of them up in talking about LEDs:

On initial cost vs. savings and longevity …

An LED version of a 100-watt incandescent lightbulb, for instance, still costs roughly $80 compared with around $3 for a traditional incandescent. Cost has been the major obstacle for LEDs, which last up to as 50,000 hours (10 years if used 12 hours a day)—gradually dimming over time—compared with about 800 hours for a typical 100-watt incandescent. “The average bulb is on two hours a day. At that rate, an LED would last 136 years,” McClear says.

A long view on savings …

After all, some 22 percent of all electricity use in the U.S. is devoted to lighting, according to the U.S. Department of Energy—and switching to LEDs could save $280 billion by 2028. In fact, researchers at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y., estimate that replacing incandescents with LEDs could save $1.83 trillion in energy costs globally over the next decade and eliminate the need for 280 1,000-megawatt power plants.

An upgrade from CFLs …

New LED lights can put out the equivalent light of 100-watt incandescent while only consuming 13 watts of power. They also outlast equivalent compact fluorescent lightbulbs but use 50 percent less energy and skip the toxic mercury required as ballast.

Issues with the quality of light …

Nevertheless, LEDs will not replace all lightbulbs, because they produce light in only one direction, like a laser, rather than illuminating an area. To fill that lighting need, some companies are creating organic LEDs, or OLEDs, that emit light in all directions and are already used in advanced televisions and other screens.

So, will the U.S. be quick to follow in the Italian’s footsteps? Advancements are moving quickly and it seems as though they will catch on to the green movement. Communities are likely to invest in something that saves money and has a “green” feel. As the price drops just a little bit, expect communities to stampede toward this LED option. North Carolina has jumped on, and the above Scientific American article talks about L.A. and the Pentagon investing in LED lights. The movement has begun.

The energy industry is divided over the climate bill, reports the New York Times, which also notes that not all Energy Star products are worthy of the label.  Also, Beijing’s air is getting cleaner, but still has a ways to go.

California is poised to set energy usage limits for televisions, says the L.A. Times, which also looks at the early impact of the EU ban on incandescent bulbs, and reports that climate change is endangering Aspen treest out West.

The Washington Post has a collection of op-ed pieces on global warming skepticism.  The Post also reports that Congress has restored funding for research into hydrogen cars, reversing a cut by the Obama administration, and an experiment in Bolivia to use forests as carbon offsets did not yield the desired results.

The British prime minister warns that the failing to reach a global deal on climate change will mean dire consequences (BBC).

Rhode Island’s planned offshore wind farm han’t been able to strike a deal to sell power to National Grid (Providence Journal).

Is it possible for a family to have zero net environmental impact?  A family in New York City gave it a shot in a year-long experiment (MSNBC).

When ceiling fans rotate clockwise, they send hot air down, which will cut heating costs.

The idea of watching environmentally-themed films or TV shows usually doesn’t appeal to me, but I recently DVR’d a 2006 documentary titled “Too Hot Not To Handle” about global warming in the U.S.

The 1-hour program offered a solid foundation of information on global warming. Thorough and concise, scientists spoke at first about global warming, including what it is and what it will do. The second half of the documentary focused on how to stop it and it felt a little more commercial influenced.

There were a few global warming effects mentioned in the first half of the program that I hadn’t quite connected to global warming. One was the spread of West Nile and other diseases, which happens farther north because the air is cooler allowing infected mosquitoes to survive up here. Also, the documentary pegged the number dead from heat waves at 800 in Chicago in 1995 and more than 20,000 in Europe in 2003 – these are numbers that didnt wuite hit me back then. Aside from that, it was the usual talk of melting glaciers, extreme weather and water issues.

From hybrids to ethanol to biodiesel, the last half of show hit on all the ways to save energy without changing habits. It does the same when talking about wind or solar power and even in what is its worst moment seems to give a nod to what is now called “clean coal.” Clean coal, of course, is not that clean and instead buries underground some of the huge amounts of carbon dioxide it produces. The environmental effect of which is still unknown, but common sense says it can’t be very good.

In addition, the film fails to give more than a few words to the prospect that yes, we will need to change our habits to stop global warming rather than waiting to find a solution that fits in with our wasteful ways. It also only briefly touches on what in two decades will be the most important part of this debate. How do we adapt? As the program shows, all of our dams and water supply areas were built under the pretense of a water ecosystem that is rapidly changing. As mentioned before, how we clean and distribute water around the country and the world will be our biggest challenge and an important adaptation.

While the first 30 minutes shined the brightest, the last half of the program was saved by some Republican lawyer driving a hybrid who summed up a place both sides can find common ground when he said: “The root word of conservative is conserve.”

Advocates of climate change legislation want President Obama to do more, according to the Washington Post, which also reports that wind energy’s all-too-familiar aesthetic issues are again hindering its development, this time in Normandy.

In this New York Times op-ed, Senators John Kerry and Lindsey Graham, arguing that a bipartisan climate bill is possible.  The Times also has this article about greening in suburbia, and this one about the debate over hanging laundry out to dry.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration thinks offshore drilling plans should be scaled back (LA Times).  The Times also reports that the Interior Department has found that fewer than 25 percent of the oil and gas leases auctioned off last December are valid.

People in the rust belt fear the economic impact of climate legislation (MSNBC).  In China, economic growth means an enormous amount of trash (MSNBC).

The 20/20 project, run by Brown University students, is helping homeowners save money by replacing incandescent bulbs (providence Journal).

Based on analysis of climate conditions from the past, some scientists suggest that proposed targets for carbon dioxide emissions may not be sufficient (BBC).  This BBC article explores why global temperatures have been flat over the past decade.

Wrapping your water heater in an insulating blanket keeps water warm and saves you money.