Nest Labs has recently announced the results of 3 energy-savings research which apparently prove that their Learning Thermostat can save users as much as 15% on cooling bills and 12% on heating bills. That's roughly USD150 in savings annually and a return of investment in just 2 years.
The two studies were apparently designed and funded independently -- one of them was done by a utility company in Indiana called Vectren and the other one by Energy Trust of Oregon. The third one was done by the Nest company itself on a national scale. They all monitored users' energy
consumption before and after the installation of Nest Thermostat.
According to the general manager Ben Bixby, "With this information in hand, customers can feel even more confident about investing in a Nest Thermostat, and our energy partners can be assured that energy-efficiency programs involving Nest will have an impact."
Nest's thermostat is supposed to 'learn' as it is being used; for instance, it can remember certain temperatures that the user usually sets, sense how long it takes to cool or heat up a room then adapt accordingly. It's also designed to detect if the user is home so it can automatically turn itself off if not, as The Haney Energy Saving Group
Nest's founder Matt Rogers said in his post, "Nest is constantly improving. Some saved less on their energy bills, some saved more ... that affected their energy bills more than switching thermostats ever could. But on average, after people installed Nest they saw real savings." In fact, in the last couple of years, Nest developers have updated the system over 30 times to add new features.
The Haney Energy Saving Group reported that Nest users will be given additional support starting this month: an access to a live Energy Advisor that they can consult about energy savings using their Nest Thermostat based on their particular circumstance.
Various thermostat makers, along with the Environmental Protection Agency of the US, have previously claimed that a programmable thermostat can potentially save homeowners around 20% on cooling/heating bills. However, most of their calculations were simply based on correctly-programmed thermostat settings as opposed to a thermostat that's left at one temperature constantly. Because of such difficulty in acquiring actual savings data, programmable thermostats lost the Energy Star rating in 2009. Now, with three studies actually determining how much energy savings thermostats are capable of when programmed well, they might just get it back.
Cars of the future have always been envisioned as running on electricity and sporting futuristic and compact designs. But while this thing of the future called electric vehicle is slowly entering the mainstream car market today because of climate change concerns
, it is still worlds away from replacing the conventional internal combustion engines we've been using since the 1800s.
The thing is, owning an electric car is probably not for everyone -- for now. Aside from the fact that they are not widely available yet, there are many factors that affects someone's choice of owning one -- the main concern being its expensive price, even though there's a government subsidy in the form of income tax credit to those who will avail of an EV.
Moreover, you've got to have an outlet on hand in order to charge your car's battery for a minimum of 5 hours as advised by The Haney Energy Saving Group
. While one manufacturer is offering access to a free charging station, it won't likely be present in every 5 miles so that's a real delimiter. And if you decide to have one installed at home, it will surely eat up on your electricity bill, what with the long charging time.
Further complicating matters is that most EVs are still limited when it comes to range: you'll normally get around 100 miles in one charge, depending on speed and weather among others.
Fortunately, the technology used in EVs is advancing every day so we can look forward to a cleaner future. But do they really cause less pollution like what we've been made to believe? Will patronizing EVs really make a difference as it is?
As The Haney Energy Saving Group previously reported, that depends on where its electricity will come from. In terms of carbon dioxide emissions, it's true that EVs can be environment-friendly because they have no emission at all. But you can't really convince yourself that you're supporting a greener future when the electricity being used to charge your EV comes from coal/gas powerplants. A powerplant relying on solar, nuclear, hydro or wind resources in generating cleaner energy will undoubtedly be a good step towards combatting climate change.
Granted, it's not really that easy to conclude just where your electricity is coming from. But it's still something we should consider in terms of what green energy really means, especially since the source of electricity for an EV to run is often overlooked. Though it has no actual emission from itself, the carbon dioxide emitted by the powerplant to charge an electric car for a period of time would also count as carbon footprint.
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is currently developing a plan to lessen emissions from powerplants which should be a big help in cleaning up the electricity industry, as well as ensuring the future of green cars. Coupled with the efforts of car manufacturers to significantly add up on the average driving distance EVs can reach on a single charge, we can probably be assured of a good fate for green cars.
Some of the most unappreciated measures to take in reducing our energy consumption hark back to old or traditional practices before we had modern technology. Or, simply, using common sense and enough logic will help bring down that electric bill. But the willingness to do so must come first. Here are some: • Do more outdoor grilling than other cooking choices. It may not be so good on your lungs or nose and the neighbours might complain; but it saves you a lot by sparing your oven or stove from high energy costs. • Copper-bottomed pots and pans conduct heat more efficiently when cooking on the stove compared to other metals. Not only that, they also look rustic and nice compared to the shiny yet less efficient alternatives. • Clean up your stove reflector pans to reflect more heat upward when cooking. Dirt and grime, especially oil smudges, reduce the efficiency of those pans. • Turning off your oven or burners just before the food is cooked allows the remaining heat to finish the task for you. With practice, you will know just how soon you can turn them off. • Tight-fitting covers on pots and pans reduce cooking time and help you save energy. As a general rule, then, buy only kitchen-ware that will enhance your ability to save. • Use pots that match your stove burner size in order to avoid heat loss. Small pots on big burners are a waste, unless you have burners that can adjust to either a single, smaller flame or a double, bigger flame. • Habitually turn off bedroom, kitchen and bath fans each time you leave the room. People used to leave air-conditioning on the whole day. Today, every small saving you can make means a lot in the long run. • Dust your refrigerator each time you dust your house. Inspect the coils at the back of your unit and use coil vacuums or dusters for cleaning. This will make your unit run more efficiently. • A full freezer uses less energy than an empty one. To maximize savings, fill your freezer with water containers. This should be an easy measure for all to do. • Buy energy-efficient appliances. They help save money and also protect the environment because they utilize less energy. Browse the Internet and find out how they work and protect nature, then buy the most efficient and most economical ones. • Replace your old refrigerator with one that has the yellow EnergyGuide® label, making sure you compare features. Select models with better insulation and have power-saving switches. Unlike PCs that may become obsolete after a year or two, the latest refrigerators can still be up-to-date and efficient for several years. • Do several loads of your washing and drying during your laundry schedule. This keeps the dryer warm and ready for the next load and allows you to save so much on energy. • Over-drying your clothes wastes energy and produces static and wrinkling. Like cooking food, turn off the dryer before the clothes are completely dry. Let evaporation do the rest, especially if you schedule your laundry in the middle of a warm day. • Separate wash loads into heavy and light fabrics to shorten the drying period. And if you want to save more, dry your lightest fabrics in the air or under the sun. • Provide an outside vent for your dryer to minimize the workload on your air conditioner. Keeping all that heat generated inside the house while running the aircon is like trying to fill up a leaking pail with water. We wonder why many people discover only now how to use these simple tips which used to be common measures in the past. Is it because we take so many things for granted? We assume things work out well as long as they are new or still functioning. However, saving on energy requires a more discriminating understanding of how it is used and also how it is wasted. These tips should prove that point clearly.
It never hurts to find ways of reducing your energy consumption in order to save and help the environment as well. Here are a few suggestions: 1. Reduce “phantom loads”Phantom loads are energy consumption of appliances (75% of the power they consume when used) when they are turned off. Sounds unbelievable; but that is according to the US Department of Energy. So, it makes sense to unplug appliances when not in use or plug into a power strip which you can turn off when not using appliances.2. Design windows according to your needsWindows can reduce electric bills for homes that use heating or cooling units. In the tropics, big windows are preferable not just for lighting purposes during daytime (saving on artificial light) but also for bringing in cool air (saving on cooling cost) during windy days. However, many homebuilders today have forced people to buy ill-designed homes that have small steel-casement windows, trapping in more heat during the day and preventing cool night air to enter. Hence, people, who do not seem to see the connection, generally choose to buy air-conditioners when the air outside is cool enough to provide comfortable temperatures at night.The main reason, as we know it, is that people who live in the urban areas try to prevent dust and pollution from entering their homes. The other reason is to prevent burglary. So, they close their windows at night. Steel grills solve part of the problem. Again, people do not realize it but those grills absorb heat at daytime, aggravating the heat inside the house.3. For those who plan to build a home, make it energy-efficientThe ultimate solution, of course, is to build a house that is energy efficient. There are so many things one can incorporate to make it so. It all depends on the budget. Insulating it against heat or against the cold, as the case may be, will save you a lot of money. But even if you have an old home, you can do a lot more to make it energy-efficient.4. Conserve waterPeople do not realize that water is the easiest resource to save money on. First of all, you can see and feel it. You can store it and even recycle it, unlike electricity. Finally, you can get it free from the sky or the ground, with a little investment.Washing dishes, for instance, should be a cinch on how to save money: Whereas you open the faucet fully when doing this chore, try half-open and see how much water you save. The time it takes you to wash may not even differ. Then try one-third; it might take you longer; but, hey, you saved two-thirds of the water already! And if you really want to scrimp, try a trickle while washing dishes. Water from a fully-opened faucet will not completely touch the plate while soaping or rinsing it. Much of the water merely flows past into the sink. But a trickle and enough scrubbing (even without using a basin) will do the trick just as well. It is not in the amount of water you use but how you clean that matters.Storing rainwater in a cistern used to be common; but nowadays, people do not even know what it is. Recycling gray-water (used water from laundrying, dishwashing or bathing) for other uses, such as cleaning dirty garage floors, watering plants and flushing toilets can save a lot of water.5. Plant trees and shrubsKeeping a cool house can be achieved through having plants around it and inside it. Plants never stop to produce protein through photosynthesis even at night or indoors. They can store sunlight and heat energy to survive and grow. They can help absorb heat inside and outside your home. They can also provide a buffer against solar heat and reflected heat from the surroundings.If you plant fruit trees and vegetables, you can have extra income to cover part of your energy bills. If you cannot avoid paying power bills, grow some of the money to pay for it.Even without spending so much and, sometimes, while making some money, you can save on your energy consumption.