Understanding Alternative Energy: Finally Talking Seriously About Replacing Fossil Fuels

Understanding Alternative Energy: Finally Talking Seriously About Replacing Fossil Fuels

During the summer of 1996 I turned 17. Like everyone in my grade I was ecstatic to be, finally, old enough to get my driver’s license. At that age a license is freedom to a teenager. New Jersey is the most densely populated state in the country, so learning how to drive in Garden State traffic was an adventure. But with a modestly priced used car and a job as a valet, I could afford to drive that made my life much more fun and free. Best of all, in 1996, gasoline topped out around 89 cents for a gallon of unleaded. At that price getting five bucks gas money from a friend for regular rides to school was something to be thankful for. Over the years the gas prices eased over one dollar per gallon until at around $1.25, gas prices started to seem steep. Then, I can recall vividly, one spring, when I was in college, as the weather turned bright and warm and the beach started to become a very real prospect, gas prices started surging over $1.50 per gallon and seemed to climb at an alarming rate of a dime per week. People drive more during the summer and gas prices climb to match the greater demand. It’s as predictable a rule as any. Eventually supply increases to match demand and the price starts to drop. By winter, when people are not driving as much, the gas prices return to a more reasonable rate. That year, however when people began talking seriously for the first time of gas costing more than $2.00 per gallon, when...
5 Great Eco-Friendly Products

5 Great Eco-Friendly Products

Electricity, solar power, wind power, water power; these are the keys to making our planet a better, and cleaner place. Although, these are not the only ways to help this process of, “Going Green.” Eco-friendly products that harness natural power are beginning to come out on the market. For example, electric and solar powered cars is a big one. I’ll be recommending a variety of different eco-friendly products that range from cheap to expensive. The first and probably most effective eco-friendly items out there are electric cars. These usually run on either the sun’s energy with solar power, or common household electricity. Another great thing about them is that they have no harmful tailpipe emissions; unlike most of today’s gas powered vehicles. Nissan is working on a new electric car called the “Leaf.” This five seated vehicle has an average of two cents per mile. That crushes the average of twelve cents per mile held by gas powered cars. Unfortunately, for any new vehicle money is almost always an issue. The Nissan Leaf is being sold for around $30,000. Next comes a more mellow product. The Nightstar III Self Charging “Shake” Flashlight really is eco-friendly. To use it, simply just shake it for a few seconds, then flip the switch and watch it light up. For only thirty seconds of shaking, you get twenty minutes of bright LED light. It’s great for just about anyone who needs a flashlight handy. The Nightstar sells for $29.95 on Basegear.com. The Voltaic Backpack certainly is a good way to go green. This backpack generates 4.5 watts of solar power so you can...
Clean Water – Part of Obama Environment Plans

Clean Water – Part of Obama Environment Plans

Preserving Water Supply is Focus of National Energy Plans, Even for Small Rural Areas like Natchitoches, Louisiana People throughout the world are turning more and more to bottled water. In fact there is a serious concern in some places about whether or not the water is safe to drink. That concern is especially for the poor. Given these concerns, and issues on alternative energy, the focus on alternative energy has as part of its campaign the notion of establishing a clean environment which includes clean water. That is important because it affects all of us at some level. Regularly in Natchitoches I get mail declaring there are problems with chemicals in the water. Friends in other places, like France, tell me that have endured problems with water for many years. How much of our drinking water will need to be impacted before governments get serious about it? Perhaps the focus on the environment, because it concentrates on the earth as well as the water, will make a difference in alternative energy planning. Natchitoches citizens have been getting water notices for more than 10 years, according to Sylvia Morrow, Council Woman for the City of Natchitoches. She is concerned about that for all the citizens of Natchitoches but particularly worries about the poor people since they are the ones who have trouble purchasing bottled water. Although the notices don’t tell people not to drink the local water, they do say that the elderly should not or those people whose immune systems or health is otherwise compromised. The fact that these notices continue is evidence that the problem will likely continue....
DIY: Increase Your Home’s Value with Solar Products

DIY: Increase Your Home’s Value with Solar Products

Can solar powered products increase the value of your home? Can you do this yourself? The answer to the first question in a resounding yes. The answer to the second question depends on your skills. Let’s take a look at both questions. Hopefully, you will be able to answer whether you can make these improvements yourself or call in a pro to do the job. One of the easier solar home improvements to make is the installation of a solar hot water heater. A solar hot water heater, besides being friendly to the environment, can save you up to 50% on your water heating costs. It is easy for the do it yourselfer to install, usually taking no more than a weekend of time. Even though a solar hot water heater will not replace your existing system, it will supplement and extend the life of your conventional hot water heater. Solar hot water heaters are very low maintenance. They have extremely low operational costs. Best of all, a solar hot water heater qualifies for Federal tax credits. A solar hot water heater is a very simple operating system. A built in timer circulates water when there is enough solar energy to heat the water. The water is then used as needed. The heated water is stored in your conventional hot water tank. Two notes of caution before we begin on an overview of installation. Do not take this article as a complete installation guide. It is only an overview. Visit the websites listed at the end of this article for in depth installation instructions. Also, if you are unsure...
Solar Photovoltaic Roofing Shingles

Solar Photovoltaic Roofing Shingles

A great number of people are investigating the practicality or usefulness of putting in solar power roofing tiles on their home. This specific article will aid you begin to lay down the research associated with this specific process. The advantages tend to be worth it though the actual outlay might be expensive or too prohibitive. The way they are making Photovoltaic or PV roof tiles is a lot different than a decade or so ago. The panels are much thinner and they are considerably more efficient. The panels or tiles also interlock to enhance structural strength and ease of installation. Many different designs are being offered. You can get barrel tile, slate or shake lookalikes along with other styles. The actual look associated with latest designs integrates incredibly well in to the roofs aesthetics rendering it the ideal alternative where visual appearance might end up being an issue to friends and neighbors or Home Owners Assocs. Photovoltaic roofing shingles contain a slimmer solid state photovoltaic cell that turns sunshine into electrical power. The PV cell is going to be built in into the actual tile to create a roofing panel which also produces electrical power. Whenever you fit them on your home they will provide your house with a source of electricity and any surplus may be sold back to the power company. They necessitate hardly any maintenance and they are usually pretty much self-cleaning. As time passes solar roofing tiles will certainly pay back what you actually invested in them. Here are some issues that should be thought of once making a decision amongst solar power panels and...
Power Wave: Ocean Supplies Alternative Energy

Power Wave: Ocean Supplies Alternative Energy

Ocean Waves Now Being Used to Produce Clean Power Wave energy conversion can be used to generate electricity, safely replacing our need for toxic fossil fuels and dangerous nuclear power plants, and reducing millions of pounds of carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide emissions that are produced from coal generated electricity. Clean electricity generation offers the additional benefit of saving millions of dollars on health care related costs due to air pollution. This abundant, renewable energy resource is produced 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and is 80 percent efficient. Wave energy conversion can be accomplished with various technologies, including; onshore devices, near-shore devices, floating (moored) devices and offshore (submerged) devices, like tidal power turbines. Onshore wave devices such as The LIMPET located on the Isle of Islay, Scotland, trap the waves crashing to shore in an inlet, bay or estuary. The LIMPET uses an inclined oscillating water column (OWC), which was further developed by WaveGen Corp. Graeme Mackie, Senior Engineer at WaveGen, recently spoke at the Ocean Energy2004 Conference, introducing us to the facility. The LIMPET has been in operation for over three years, and is located on the shoreline off the west coast of Scotland. It is an automatically run, unmanned remote operation that utilizes a pair of fixed pitch contra- rotating Wells turbines. The device has a rating of 500kW. According to the WaveGen website “the World Energy Council estimates that the energy that can be harvested from the world’s oceans is equal to twice the amount of electricity that the world produces now”. Scotland currently generates approximately 12 percent of their electricity...
Surprising Placements of Solar Panels

Surprising Placements of Solar Panels

Solar power has many advantages and one way to get that harness that power is the use of solar panels. Many homes have started using solar panels on their roofs in order to collect the light from the sun and then convert it into energy for their heating systems and lights. Solar panels provide the benefits of less fuel consumption as well as a lowered carbon footprint, as well as the chance to save money on high energy fuel bills especially if you live in a “sunny” place. Homes are not the only places to be using solar panels, but now you may find solar panels being used in a number of surprising places and they are providing a surprisingly powerful result. Barcelona, Spain: “We bring good things to life” Santa Coloma de Gramenet, is a small town of 124,000 people in an area of 1.5 square miles. Given their lack of space, but need for eco-friendly power alternatives this city decided to put the sun to work for them by installing approximately some 462 panels on top of the mausoleums, which hold the remains of approximately 57,000 people. Though many were opposed to the project saying it was disrespectful town hall and cemetery officials were finally able to convince the city of the effectiveness of this project. “There has not been any problem whatsoever because people who go to the cemetery see that nothing has changed,” Fogue said. “This installation is compatible with respect for the deceased and for the families of the deceased.” Placed at an angle the graveyard the solar panels “fuel” the living without disturbing...
Home Energy Alternatives

Home Energy Alternatives

Blowing in the Wind, Baking in the Sun. My home energy (electric) bill runs about $400 a month during the summer, $200 a month during a short time in the fall and spring, and $300 a month during the winter. I literally salivate at the idea of producing my own home energy. I mean, look around. Energy is all around us in one form or another and it’s almost completely free. But there is a fly in the ointment. The high cost of energy is in the collection, storage, conversion, transmission, and utilization. I’m not going to talk much about the power company grid system, or exotic energy collection/utilization systems–such as leaves and plants–but I will go over a few of the basic methods available to the average home owner. If this short article wets your interest, you can do more in-depth research and experimentation. While I believe that highly trained and educated scientists are essential in the long run success of any endeavor I also believe that in the short run amateur tinkerers are just as essential. While we can throw around terms like kinetic, potential, chemical, thermal, and electric energy, the fact remains that almost all energy that we can consider for home use comes from the sun. Even the coal and oil we use –the fossil fuels–are basically stored energy from the sun. Hydroelectricity is generally out of the range for most of us, since few of us have a river running next to our home. Hydro generated power is also completely dependent upon the sun to transform matter from liquid to gas and back–and wind....
Solar Energy 101

Solar Energy 101

What is Solar Power? How Does it Work? The sun’s energy is what is known as radiant energy. The sun itself produces radiant energy through the process of nuclear fusion. Within the sun’s core intense heat and pressure cause helium and hydrogen atoms to fuse during this process some heat is lost out into space. Although through the process of nuclear fusion it takes millions of years for the energy from the core to reach the sun’s surface it takes an amazing 8 minutes for the solar energy to travel the 93 million miles and be felt on planet earth (solar energy, 2009). Human beings have been reflecting and refracting the sun for their own purposes since the 7th century BCE. Simple magnifying glasses were used to concentrate the rays of the sun for heating water and starting fires. Over 100 years ago French scientists used heat from a solar collector to power a stem engine. One of the simplest examples of a solar collector is your very own car. Sunlight enters the car’s interior through the windows and is absorbed by the fabric on the seats and the carpeting. Darker colors hold more heat, I’m sure you have noticed that not only is your car’s interior hotter during summer months but also that cars with black or dark fabric interiors are even hotter than cars with light colored interiors. There are many ways to take advantage of the energy the sun radiates and harness it for the power we need to run our appliances or even our cars. It’s a little known fact that the sun radiates more...
DIY: Go Green and Build Your Own Solar Water Heater

DIY: Go Green and Build Your Own Solar Water Heater

Solar energy is one way to heat water for using in a home; it saves on the cost of electricity and gas, and is also friendly to the atmosphere. In simple terms solar water heaters use the sun’s rays to heat the water inside the tubes which are located inside the solar panel, and this heated water is then transferred back to the household’s hot water tank for later use. If you are thinking of a do it yourself water heating system of this type, you are going to need to know how to build a solar water heater. First you will need to purchase the materials required to do this, these are generally available from most hardware stores. The next step is to select the most appropriate site for your solar water heater and this is usually somewhere on the southern side of the building. This can be on the ground, the roof or somewhere in between but locating a site which gets a maximum exposure throughout the day will give the best results. One of the items you will purchase when going through the process of how to build a solar water heater is a storage or collection tank, this needs to be painted black to help it absorb a much of the sun’s energy as possible, dark colors absorb much more heat than do light colors. You will need to line a strong box which is approximately the same size as the tank, with insulation of some kind perhaps fiberglass or something similar to reduce heat loss. After you have completed the installation of the tank...