Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Cool reminder stickers

Check out these cool stickers http://www.hu2.com/store/eco-reminders.html

They have less preachy ones too. Very cool. Some of the stickers are designed for the square european format light switches, and some are more generic.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Zoom into your Roof: Checking the Thermal Performance of Home Roofs

Zoom into your Roof: Checking the Thermal Performance of Home Roofs: "

Information Aesthetics (a great blog by the way) has an interesting post on insulation. There's a high activation energy for people to determine whether or not they have appropriate insulation. Either you need to climb around in your attic and have a practiced eye and know about R values of insulation, construction and so on, or you have to pay an expensive consultant. But here's a way a group quickly and cheaply (spread across everybody's energy savings) found a way to get past that activation energy.

"Out of most existing buildings, a significant amount of heat escapes unnecessarily, out of which at least 30% is typically emitted through the roof construction. Many governments throughout the world attempt to tackle this problem by supporting the insulation of roofs through rebates, tax credits and other financial incentives. But how can individual citizens determine whether such a costly renovation is worthwhile for their own house? The online project 'Zoom into Your Roof' [antwerpen.be] tries to help solve this question through a relatively simple visualization. During the winter of 2009, a small airplane with an infrared scanner made a wide sweeping thermal scan of a large part of Belgium, which resulted in the largest thermographic map currently available online. Inhabitants living within this area are able to select their home address and answer a few questions (such as the angle of the roof). in order to determine for themselves how their own roofs actually perform."

Belkin gets in to energy saving accessories in a big way

I've been holding off posting about belkin's products that are in their eco line because it seemed that the money you spent on the expensive products would be more than you could possibly save. However, they have now launched a competitor to the kill-a-watt and added a number of items to the line that I think are more reasonably priced. They also seem to be getting in to the space in a big way so maybe prices will get driven down.

Here's a link to their products at amazon Belkin Conserve products

Probably most interesting is the outlet with built in timer for only $9.99
You can set it to 1/2 hour, 3 hours or 6 hours. This way your phone can get charged without continuing to charge all night. Or as they put it (paraphrasing) you don't burn down your house with your curling iron.

Here's their kill-a-watt competitor:

It's more stylish, comes preloaded with average us electricity cost and does the total cost over time as well.

Their remote controlled power strip has been out for a while and seems a bit over priced to me. Which uses more resources this $30 strip or a $2 strip from ikea. Of course the belkin has a nice light switch looking control to help you to not have to walk over to the power strip to turn it off.

Finally they have an auto switched strip, that senses load on one of the outlets and turns the others off. They suggest having the tv in the sensor spot and turning off game consoles stereos etc when the tv is off. There's nothing new here but belkin has more style and marketing reach so maybe more people will start using these when they see them in costco or bestbuy

Anyway, I have no association with belkin and haven't actually used them myself so fair warning, just thought I'd mention them here.

Remember as we hit the summer in the northern hemisphere, the biggest energy saver your can easily do is use your air conditioning less. Get a wet towel and drape it on your forehead for your own personal swamp cooler :)

Friday, April 10, 2009

led motion sensors that fade in and out

As I have previously expressed, I have wished for motion sensor lights that fade in and fade out (so they aren't as jarring). I think this way people would be more willing to embrace motion sensors, and thus not leave lights on in a room that the might come back to shortly.

Make magazine has a question from "Shawin" on their website on how to make one of these yourself. He asks:
"We are renovating an old house we just bought and I wanted to have the rooms fitted with motion-sensors so that lights automatically turn on when someone walks in, and off when the room is empty. The problem is that I want the lights to fade-in/out instead of suddenly turning on/off.
Can someone please tell me how to do that? Are there existing switches that I could use?"
There are some suggested approaches on how to do this but no existing products mentioned.

For those of the less diy electronics set I found some ledon the web:

Philips Stumblelight:
"Upon detecting motion at night, StumbleLight instantly provides light at full intensity for 12 seconds and, if no motion is detected after 12 seconds, will slowly fade from full intensity to off."
Philips press release

"Light fades out gently when no motion is detected
No wiring required (requires 4C sized batteries)
Minimal battery consumption provides up to 6 months use
Only works at night due to a built in a photo sensor"

Most of the motion sensor lights I found have a limited motion sensor range. Some add infrared detection to the motion to reduce false activations. Many turn off after thirty seconds (not really long enough in my book as there are too many things for people to stand behind in a house for 30 seconds)

Some have a photo cell so they don't waste energy turning on when it's light out.

This one glows dimly then turns on full bright when it senses motion

So does the 2nd one and it also has a photo cell

Stairs product from smart home depected at top

Many of the ones I have bought suffer from being too dim and a lot of the reviews agree.

One note for those making their own with motion sensor switches, using LEDs will give you a much nicer experience than fluorescents because they don't have the pause and flicker on turn on. LEDs are being used for brake lights because they turn on so fast (of course I'm asking for gradual turn on which doesn't require fast, but if there is a pause before it starts to do anything people think the motion sensor isn't working and get annoyed)

On amazon I found a motion sensor LED light that advertised:
"the sudden activation startles unwanted visitors but also provides safe entrance and room lighting for your family and guests."
Am I barking up the wrong tree here?

Thursday, April 9, 2009

chinese researchers improve white LEDs

The article claims they are making them cheaper but doesn't really discuss it much other than mentioning using plastic like materials. They do state they have made them put out 50% more light (so I guess you can claim you'd need fewer LEDs per bulb and thus cheaper, though it seems a lot of the cost is in the power control circuitry)

Also of quantitative energy measurement interest, they state below that 20% of electricity is used for lighting, They also quote the DOE saying LEDs could save 30% of energy consumption.


Maybe I'm not getting it, but it seems to me if you assume that LEDs use 0 energy, and replace all lights, if you believe the first number that would only reduce our energy consumption by 20%.
clipped from www.dailytech.com
Chinese researchers have LED manufacturing breakthrough that could lead to new white LEDs for indoor use

It's believed about 20 percent of all electricity used across the world is currently used to light homes, businesses and other buildings.  For households and buildings still using incandescent bulbs, it's possible 95 percent of the energy flowing through them is being wasted.  
Furthermore, the US Department of Energy previously said LEDs could help reduce the country's national energy consumption by 30 percent by 2025.  If true, that will help households in the U.S. save $125 billion total in power bills per year.
Chinese researchers are working on a new LED that consists of cheap, inexpensive plastic-like organic materials that could help boost efficiency.  The new "tandem" structure allows it to produce up to 50 percent more light as LEDs used today, including white light that is necessary in homes and businesses.
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Wednesday, April 8, 2009

CFL power factor hidden energy cost

Slashdot has a post commenting that due to the power factor of the CFL bulbs utilties are having to use a lot more resources than you think to power the bulb. LEDs have a near perfect power factor according to this article http://www.theengineer.co.uk/Articles/299821/LED+is+the+answer+.htm which jives with my very limited memory of EE. Still though you are still using less resources with CFL (and consumers are paying a lot less in the short term until utiltiies figure this out and/or the costs to replace those used resources and clean up after them come to bear)
"We've seen compact fluorescent lamps start to take over shelf space at the local hardware store. Replacing a 60 watt incandescent with a 13 watt CFL seems like a great savings, though many consumers are disappointed with the slow warm-up times, lower-than-advertised lifetimes, and hassles of disposing the mercury-containing bulbs. Now EDN reports they may use more energy than claimed due to their poor power factor. Mike Grather, of Lumenaire Testing Laboratory, 'checked the power factor for the CFLs and found they ranged from .45 to .50. Their "real" load was about twice that implied by their wattage.' The good news: you're only billed for the 13 watts of real power used. The bad news: the utilities have to generate the equivalent of 28 watts (that is, 28 VA of apparent power for you EEs out there) to light that bulb. Until they fix these issues, I'll hold on to my incandescents and carbon arc lamps, thanks."
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Friday, April 3, 2009

LED bulb screw in replacement for incandescent

Techbargains has cheap LED screw in bulbs that use 2 watts of power, a significant power savings over incadescent and CFL, though I'm not sure how bright they are. But if you have light socket that you need just a little bit of light from, these would be a good bet. Keep in mind the color temp will be less yellow (aka more blue)

2 Pack 18 LED 2-Watt Spotlight Light Bulb $9.99 Free Ship,
Apr. 1 7 AM

Meritline has the 2 Pack 18 LED 2-Watt Spotlight Light Bulb for a low $9.99. Free Shipping. Tax in CA, MA.

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eco heater on sale at amazon today

I haven't personally used one nor have I read detailed reviews. The Amazon reviews say it uses 400 watts, compared to 750-1500 standard space heaters. Of course, the electricity consumed is basically all turned to heat in all space heaters, but the question is how efficiently they raise the temperature you feel in the room. That's why you see ones with dishes behind them to focus the heat. Supposedly this heater does a better job at this. Apparently it's also unobtrusive and can be painted over, which is good for "aestheticmetric"

It's on Amazon's friday sale (today only -- I'm not sure how much of a discount relative to normal days)

Friday, March 6, 2009

use your existing IR remote to turn power on/off via power strip

this seems to cut power, so you'd need a furhter button press to turn on the electronic switch and most items.
clipped from i.gizmodo.com

Home automation is expensive and complicated, but universal remotes are easy. The IR-Remote Control Power Strip lets you use universal remotes on any electronics, blinking lamps and speakers on and off with lazy precision.

No price on this since it's straight from an OEM in China, but it's supposedly controlled by any IR remote, provided you can program the universal remote at all. Plus it can "avoid energy waste of standby status." Which is good, because "if equipments keep standby status, it may be attacked by thunder, the inside high temperature may cause self-ignite or fire."

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Thursday, February 26, 2009

CFL buying guide from MSLiving

Unclutterer highlights the CFL buying guide from martha stewart living (insert obligatory passe prison lighting joke here)
clipped from unclutterer.com

Table and floor lamps: Compact fluorescent in warm white.

Reading and Task Lamps: 23-watt CFL in warm light or daylight.

Recessed Fixtures: CFL in warm white or a halogen.

Some general tips on color size and shape:

Energy-saving bulbs have adopted the shapes, sizes, and appearance of traditional bulbs, making it easier to phase them in.

Warm White
When in doubt, opt for a warm-white CFL, 3,000 degrees Kelvin or lower. It has the color quality most associated with traditional bulbs.

Cool White
This color temperature is best avoided. It washes out skin tones and makes reds, oranges, and browns look muddy.

Daylight Bulb
In general, you should use a daylight bulb only in a reading or task light. The cool, bright tone makes text jump off the page.

To learn even more, read the full guide from Martha Stewart Living.

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Friday, February 13, 2009

new contributor!

Soren from energyconsumption.org has joined the energy measuring resource quantifying savings suggesting future pontificating environmental investigating blogging team here at electrimetric. If you haven't already check out energyconsumption.org and check back here for posts from him.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

fancy looking $30 LED bulb

clipped from i.gizmodo.com

Featuring an aluminum, curvilinear design, a series of diecast cooling fins dissipate heat from the internal circuitry. Meanwhile, LEDs put out 400 lumens for 50,000 hours while sipping on just 7W.

If you're interested, the bulb is available for $30. Otherwise, you should just try to convince your modder friend to incorporate it into his next case design. Maybe some gross ode to Thomas Edison. [Chinavision via 7gadgets]

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Wednesday, February 4, 2009

2 flushing options coming to a toilet near you

The option for half or full flush is all over europe and canada but nowhere in the states. Here's an option to add it to your existing toiled.
clipped from i.gizmodo.com

Although having two built-in flushing options on toilets is nothing new, the Brondell Perfect Flush kit lets you mount the two-button flushing options onto your own toilet, without help from a professional plumber.

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twitter your energy consumption

I want one for every outlet in the house!
clipped from www.inhabitat.com
tweet-a-watt, greener gadgets design competition, ladyada tweet-a-watt, sustainable design, green gadget, twittering power monitor, wireless power monitor, energy efficiency

What can you do with Tweet-a-watt? Many things, not the least of which include monitoring your domestic power usage without having to hack your main power grid (handy, especially if you’re a renter). The Tweet-a-watt automatically uploads the data to your Twitter account for sharing, competing or bragging. There’s nothing like a little public accountability to keep us all honest!

Designed by MIT graduate and open-source maven Lima of ladyada, Tweet-a-watt is an open-source hack with a green heart. You can make your own Tweet-a-watt by opening up an off-the-shelf Kill-a-Watt power monitor and making a couple simple modifications - wire an Xbee wirelss module, super capacitor and transmission indicators to the power sensor output, then syc it to an Xbee reciever connected to your PC via USB. Clear as mud? Never fear, Ladyada.net has all the details mapped out nicely — with diagrams !

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Tuesday, January 20, 2009


Like Johnny Five (robot from short circuit for those of you born too late for 80s movie references) this guy needs MORE INPUT!
Here's a blogger who graphs his home power usage every 10 seconds.
clipped from www.picobay.com
This post details a real-time web based household power usage chart. The end result is a live chart in a web page that updates every 10 seconds with the instantaneous power usage for my entire house. The electrical current is measured on the main lines entering my home with AC clamps. The signal is then conditioned with a simple circuit and monitored by an ioBridge module. The ioBridge module takes care of feeding the data to the internet without the need for me to host a power hungry home web server. By using ioBridge widgets with a few JavaScript API calls on my web page, I am able to chart the data with Google Charts as it is measured and make kilowatt-hour calculations in real-time.
clipped from www.picobay.com
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Saturday, January 10, 2009

Garmin for the win!!!! (routing based on fuel economy)

In driving my commute to work I have the option of a much longer highway route or a bunch of stop lights. By my rough calculations though based on the much better gas mileage in my car, I would save gas by driving the long way around. I've been wanting google to do this calculation for me in google maps (I've been bugging my friends that work there...) but to no avail.

However Garmin has announced that they have created "ecoroute" a route planning algorithm for nuvi 200 and 700 series GPS units

Garmin's website ecoroute page says:
"users will have a “less fuel” option as a routing preference. When selected, nüvi will determine the best route for saving gas."

"Fuel Report tracks fuel usage over time, and Mileage Report monitors mileage and fuel usage on a per-trip basis. You can also customize your nüvi by entering vehicle type, your car’s fuel economy and the current price of gas."

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Word of the day: Wastricity

I learned a new word today! and I found another person wanting to reduce energy used on street lighting
clipped from blog.makezine.com

Wastricity is the use of electricity in a way that provides no personal or public benefit.

There is no public benefit to the money spent lighting streets and the exterior of buildings during the daytime. Who should you talk to when you see municipal money being spent on electricity or other utilities for zero constructive use? How will they respond when you point out that they are burning their budget? Are they planning on going in front of the voters asking for some emergency reprieve in the budget meltdown of the year?

In our personal lives, we use wastricity whenever we leave our phone chargers plugged in to the wall when the phone is not attached. We also use wastricity by leaving gaming systems running while we are out of the house. Leaving lights on in the room when nobody is in the room is classic wastricity.

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Remote controlled surge protector $23 after rebate

Here's a nice looking remote controlled surge protector with remote for $23 after rebate from buy.com (I have no affiliation/kickback with them but found them to be a reliable internet purchasing place)

I would suggest taping the remote to the door frame so it's like a switch you can hit when you leave the room.

Of course, you need to make sure you are going to save $23 worth of energy (but be a good citizen and calculate sustainable energy costs based on solar not our subsidized coal!)
clipped from www.buy.com
Six (6) Remote Switched Outlets
Two (2) Always On Outlets
Detachable Wireless Remote Switch with Wall-Mount
Sliding Safety Covers
Cable Management


Save energy, save money...conveniently. Conserve's one-touch remote switch easily powers off up to six (6) devices plugged into its "Remote Switched Outlets", while two (2) "Always On" outlets let you keep devices such as your answering machine or router constantly powered.
Don't standby. Conserve. Conserve energy-saving surge protector with remote switch makes it simple to eliminate wasteful standby power, helping you reduce energy consumption, save on energy bills, and lower your overall impact on the environment.
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Monday, October 27, 2008

Motion sensing

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for using motion sensing to improve lighting. At my previous office we installed motion sensor switches most everywhere, and the lights definitely were off a lot more. Bathroom lights tended to get left on all night and weekend, and the lights in out of the way places that people were too lazy to turn off also benefited from the motion sensor switches. However some of them would repeatedly get set back to manual. The motion sensor wasn't always good enough (so that when you were behind the server rack it didn't see you and turned off the lights and the delay was set too short). I recall that we paid about $30 for the drop in switch replacements like these
though amazon seems to have some cheaper options like this
Current cons include: jerkiness of on and off, having to wait for lights to flicker on (esp. fluorescents), extra costs of the sensor switch, sensor switch getting blocked by furniture, sensor switches getting turned on by pets or breezes outdoors. Also the first one I link to, a certain percentage will die after some amount of time and require replacement.

Note that the replacement switches are the most unobtrusive, but they don't always lend to ideal placement for the sensor. Also you need an electrician to do the replacement (though certain electrical engineers I know have done the replacements yourself, though I don't recommend it as death or hair standing on it's end can occur -- remember once you let the smoke out of your electrical system it's very hard to get it back)

My motion sensor dream:
Switch would have off, auto, 10% auto, and on.
Auto would leave the light off until motion is detected, it would quickly ramp the light from 0 to 100%.
10% auto would leave the light at 10% (so you can vaguely see and not trip) and quickly ramp to 100% when motion is detected.
When leaving a room it would gradually lower the light from 100% to either 10 or 0% depending on the setting.

I think these features would eliminate a lot of the issues that people have with motion sensors lights.

Also, a lot of houses have motion sensors already for alarms, can we build off that somehow? For that matter the alarms also know when you enter and leave a house, that could tie in to a turn off all the lights when you leave sort of scenario.

For those with incandescent sockets: screw in motion sensor

or those with plug in lamps: pluggable motion sensor

Please note that I didn't do extensive searching on amazon for the best, I just found the ones I originally bought and amazon recommended the other 3.

Note, there are cheaper generic versions of these sensors findable on google products results, though they are from unknown suppliers and unknown stores, but please report back with your findings and let us know good ones that are cheap!

Battery powered light turn-er off-er

So um yeahhhhh. While I agree with the goal of this thing, making a battery power motor that physically flips switches for you doesn't seem to be the best way to go about doing things. How much more resources does this take than a standard motion sensor switch combo? However for those that are unwilling/unable to replace their existing switches I guess that you could over come the battery power requirement and construction requirement to save net energy. I'm sure this will be available soon in skymall.
clipped from gizmodo.com
Well, actually it's quite a neat gizmo—it's battery powered, and simply mounts directly over a light switch, which it then throws for you if it doesn't detect movement in front of its sensor. Plus it turns the lights on when you enter.
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