Thursday, January 29, 2009

Energy Management Systems

Blog Posted by Amy Padilla

I work in a large organization with computers at every desk. It is rare these days that someone working inside of a building is not somehow connected to a personal computer. Many organizations are looking for ways to cut costs these days. They are reducing the amount of supplies, changing insurance plans and cutting workforce. However, there is one way to save on expenses that more companies should know about. Not only will it save the company money, but it will also support the environment by cutting down unnecessary energy consumption and reducing CO2 greenhouse gas emissions. There are many different vendors that sell software that are energy management systems. One that I have experience with is called “Surveyor” and is sold through the company Verdiem. The software is able to be completely customized if the organization requires very specific needs. The software can manage personal computers throughout the organization and shut them down or place them in a very low state of energy consumption during non-use. This is a great way to enforce policies in any size of office. Many employees shut off their computers, but with just a couple leaving their personal computers on it can eat up as much as $60 per pc per year. It will save the bottom line and the environment. The example that Verdiem gives really brings home what kind of financial savings can happen by turning of those personal computers.

“For example, a Fortune 100 Financial Services Company with more than 39,000 PCs under management could have a projected annual savings of:
• $3,000,000 in energy costs
• 60 percent reduction in PC energy bill “ http://www.verdiem.com/surveyor5/

The carbon dioxide that can be saved by shutting down personal computers is also very important. The average personal computer creates 710 lbs to 1,330 lbs of carbon dioxide being sent into the atmosphere.

The Surveyor software is the software that my company uses, but I know there are many other options on the market. Utilizing an energy management system is a smart and responsible way for companies of any size to take advantage of.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Find it Where You Need It

Blog posted by Nour-Petra Hamieh

I was born and raised in Beirut, Lebanon. Recycling materials was an idea brought to us as students from French textbooks, but seldomly praticed in our everyday life. When I took this class, and saw what the topic was about, the first thought that came to my head was "I have no information about subjects of recylcling". But now, I am very interested in it and have been researching it and reading about it.
I came across a site called Green-e that I think will be useful for anyone who is very serious about becoming "green", right down to recyclable energy and electricity. The URL for the site is http://www.green-e.org/. What I thought was reallly helpful was the Find Renewable Energy for Your Home section, in which one can find renewable energy anywhwere in the U.S.
You have the option of REC or Renewable Electricity, as well as the choice of where it is available(state) and where it is generated(state). Finally, you have the choice of Resources:
-Wind
-Solar
-Hydro
-Geothermal
-Biomass
For myself, as a student who hasn't yet had the chance to own a home or a business, I think this site would be really helpful in aiding me to invest in and use Recyclable Energy for my home or business.

I now live in Portland Oregon, so I conducted a search with the following options: Renewable Energy, Wind, Available in Oregon and Generated in Oregon, and the site displayed 3 options for me:

Pacific Power
Blue Sky Block - Pacific Power
Service territory: California, Oregon, Washington
1-800-769-3717 CA, OR, WA Wind: 100% ID, MT, OR, WY Renewable Electricity

Eugene Water and Electric Board
EWEB Greenpower
Service territory: Eugene Water and Electric Board
541-338-WIND (9463) OR Wind: 99%
Solar: 1% OR, WA Renewable Electricity

Pacific Power
Blue Sky Usage
Service territory: Oregon
1-800-769-3717 OR Wind: 61%
Solar: 1%
Biomass: 38% ID, MT, OR, WA Renewable Electricity

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Phantom Energy

Blog posted by Liliam Huckleberry

"Phantom Energy" is a fascinating subject to me, since I recently started looking into it my self. About three month ago I realized that in the last couple of month my electric bill had dramatically increased. I knew I needed to do something about it and decided to perform an "Energy Reduction Experiment" in my home. I have heard that, small changes like unplugging your TV or VCR/DVD player can in the long run save you energy and money. Therefore, I decided to put this theory to test.

The first thing I did was to call my electric company, and asked them to give me tips on how to save electricity. A lot of what they told me was basically common sense, common sense I was obviously not using before. They said to unplug all electronic devices and that any wall pluggins not in use, needed to be covered as well, because wall pluggins are open to the outside environment so cold and hot air escapes through it, and that the heater and air conditioner have to compensate for the lost of heat during the summer months or gain of cold air during the cold months. Most of their advice was great, with the exception of one.

They told me that, turning the heater completely of, whenever I left the house would save me energy. This actually happens to not be true; in fact this should never be done because when you turn the thermostat back on, it takes a lot more energy to bring the temperature up or down from a very low or high temperature. Then from a few degrees lower or higher, if you were to leave the thermostat at room temperature.

For the fist month of my experiment I only saved $10, the second month I saved $13 and the last month, I saved $18. When I started this experiment I was skeptical that this would work, but I am glad I gave it a try, because now I know that it truly does work. By making small changes in my house I was not only able to save money, but more importantly I am making a far greater contribution and that is saving our environment. This website provides some helpful tips, on how we can conserve energy and help our environment. http://www.saskenergy.com/saving_energy/tips.asp

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Fixing the leak

Blog posting by Mary Kelley


With alternative energy taking over the headlines last year as gas prices soared and the economy fell many individuals that may not have otherwise paid any mind to the topic started to take note. As people started looking to gas efficient cars they also started looking into other aspects of efficient energy use. Although phantom energy has always been around not until the past year or so has it really made it into main steam media. I was chatting with a friend the other day about the topic and they mentioned that they had even seen a commercial on television about it, I went to youtube to see if I could hunt it down and although I didn't find the one they saw there were about 60 others that were similar. Many of the ads were tailored to kids in particular. With growing awareness it appears that the industry is responding with user friendly products to help monitor and manage the phantom energy, although some resources may be pricey there are some fairly economical options, like the smart strip that you could maybe break even on with the money you save over a month or two. Maybe your vice is your cell phone, and you could use a friendly reminder to unplug it after it has charged: or maybe it's your super sweet entertainment system that's sucking your energy at night. What ever the case there are options and there will likely be even more options at better values as companies go the green route.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Lights, Camera, NO Action!

Blog posted by Michelle Crawford

Most household items continue to draw power even when they are switched “off.” This is known as “phantom load” or “energy vampire” and occurs in appliances such as coffee makers, ovens, microwaves, dishwashers, washer & dryers, and other essential items. It occurs in other items such as digital clocks, CD/DVD players, computers (desktop & laptop), printers, cell phone chargers, gaming systems...the list could go on and on.

How do I know how much wasted energy I have in my house? First, look around you. Start identifying items that have a digital display, illuminations, or makes noise. A typical household has approximately 40 of these products constantly plugged in and consuming energy. The energy vampires can tack on 10% to your total electricity use.
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory conducted a study on phantom energy. The study lists some of the most common household items with their phantom energy consumption. Overall, the phantom loads can increase an item's energy consumption around a few watts an hours.

How can we all make a difference? Obviously, there are some items that must stay plugged in. For example, if you have a digital clock. It is not feasible to unplug the clock when not in use and then plug it back in and reset the time when needed. To eliminate energy waste on the items that really don't need to be plugged in, the energy needs to be stopped to the item. You can do this by unplugging the item or having the item plugged into a power strip. This is helpful if you have appliances within close range of one another. You can eliminate the phantom load by switching off the power strip, instead of unplugging each appliance. For other tips on reducing your phantom energy consumption, click
here.

Measure Your Electricity Use

Hello my name is Kendra Collins and I am a student at PSU and this term our group is focusing on “phantom energy” meaning how much energy are we wasting on things when we don’t even know it. For example, how much electricity does your cell phone charger, coffee maker, laptop charger, ect use? I found an extremely helpful site for the visual person like myself. I wanted a way to measure every particular device so I could figure out exactly what each item is costing me, and if I add up all of these devices how much could I be saving in electrical energy use. Since I have heard that a lamp can still use some electricity even when off. I am debating whether to invest in this device, called the Kill-A-Watt EZ. After all, with current economic times wouldn’t it be helpful to know where you could be saving some money. As we have all been told pennies a day really do add up. Just like small amounts of electricity usage add up as well, not to mention being more green. Julie the author of the web site that analyzes the Kill-A-Watt EZ., takes you step by step through the ways in which the Kill A Watt works and how you can put it to use in your home. Go to the hyperlink above to learn more about this particular device and how to use it.

Since these Winter months seem to be the highest energy bills for most families aren’t you curious how you can take control of your electricity usage? My sister-in-law recently called me frantic because her electric bill was over $400 dollars last month. She was extremely dismayed when she found my bill was much lower considering the fact that my house is larger. I told her I used energy efficient light bulbs in every fixture in my home. I figure they are well worth the expense. I still have a couple energy efficient bulbs from when my husband and I were first married over 8 years ago. An extremely good investment, when I figure I am also saving over $100 per month on my electricity bill in the Winter months. I do think I will invest in the Kill-A-Watt EZ, and I will get back to you all with the results. Perhaps, I will let a few of my family members borrow it as well, so they can determine where their electricity and extra dollars are going.

Bye for now,
Kendra

Energy Zapped!

I recently had a conversation with my husband, Dennis, when he arrived home after work. He works swing shift so he gets home at about 12:30am after myself and our son, Jacob, are already in bed and asleep. This particular evening he woke me up and asked me why the DVD player was still spinning and if thought Jacob might still be awake as his television was still on. Mind you this is not a new topic of discussion for us, so it must have really irked him this time in order for him to wake me up. I know these comments are also going to spur some discussion around falling asleep with the television on and my parenting style, but this blog is really about energy use, specifically "phantom energy."

It wasn’t a huge deal in my mind, this energy consumption, until doing some research on it. According to www.mygreenelectronics.org leaving my DVD player on 24 hours a day costs me approximately $12.43 per year. Now, when my DVD player is plugged in, but turned off you would think that it would cost me nothing. This is not true, however. It still uses 2.9 watts even when turned off! That is $2.41 per year, which doesn't sound like much when thinking in individual terms. The U.S. population, however, is over 300 million people according to the CIA factbook estimated in 2008. Therefore, if just half of the US population unplugged their DVD players when not in use it would save an estimated 300 million dollars per year. 300 million dollars per year!

I’m not even going to touch on the television issue this time. The bottom-line is that this energy that is being zapped from our electronics even when they are turned off is called “phantom energy.” To stop this kind of unknowing waste of our resources we should all do our part and unplug anything that we can when we aren’t using it. Think of all we could save.

posted by Catherine Martell-Straight

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Power strips with a mind of their own

Blog posted by Joshua Lang

The modern home is becoming ever more cluddered with devices that needlessly consume standby power. The obvious, but rather daunting solution is to unplug such devices when they are not currently in use. Companies such as BITS LTD and Wattstopper, however, have been developing increasingly more elegant, alternative solutions to this common waste of energy.

The Wattstopper power strip includes six "controlled" power outlets and two "uncontrolled" outlets, as well as a motion detector. The uncontrolled outlets provide continuous power at all times, while the controlled ones are linked to the motion detector and provide power only as long as there is movement detected nearby (within a 120 degree radius of the apparatus).

This setup is ideal, for instance, for use with a desktop computer. The actual computer can be plugged into one of the uncontrolled outlets--in case, for example, you have reason to leave your computer running while not there--while all nearby accessories such as speakers, lamp, monitor, cell phone charger, space heater, fan, etc. are plugged into controlled outlets. Power to the controlled outlets is automatically cut after the motion sensor detects no movement from a programmable period of time from 30 seconds to 30 minutes. The Wattstopper carries a price tag of $90.

The Smart Strip from BITS LTD operates on a different principle. It internally monitors the amount of power being drained by devices and is able to identify when they are actually turned on or off. When connected devices are turned off the strip automatically cuts power to their respective outlets, eliminating potential standby power drain. With a modest price tag of $32 to $35, the Smart Strip purports to pay for itself in as little as six weeks.

Worried about electricity? Sleep on it.

Blog posted by Jonathan Elliott

I've had an ongoing "debate" with my wife for some time about who wastes more electricity. Her habit is to leave the lights on, mine is to leave the computer on, and we've gone back and forth on this matter about who's habit is worse. Now, only recently did I ever take the time to investigate this, to settle once and for all the most offending culprit.

According to Michael Bluejay, leaving my laptop on in active mode could use up to as much as a 45 watt lightbulb, and leaving a desktop on could use up to as much as four or five 60 watt bulbs. So in theory, my usage of the laptop has worked in my favor these last few months (and I won't speak of how many years before that I was using my desktop, leaving it on all of the time).

But for those of you who are especially concerned, as we all should be, with this very prevalent and constant use of energy, there is a great little feature called the "sleep" mode. In actuality, there are several modes to this, depending on which OS, or even which version of windows you are running. Prior to Windows Vista, you could "standby", or go into full-on "hibernate". The problem with these was that the first method was often unreliable and still used some electricity, and the second method would cause rather serious hard drive fragmentation over time.

Well, Windows finally got on the right track (yes, Mac has been heading in the right direction for a while, I have to give them credit for that), and in Vista has combined the speed of standby, with more reliability, and the low power usage of hibernate. In the new "sleep" mode, the current state is written to RAM (and only if desired to the hard drive), and the only electricty then used is what it takes to keep the RAM powered enough to store that memory. This uses only 1 - 6 watts, a scarce fraction of what it used to.

While this is still wasted energy, it is a nice compromise for those of us who absolutely refuse to take the time every day to reboot the computer. It is a baby-step, if you will. A step in the direction of energy conservation, while losing us no time, since the startup from "sleep" mode is almost instantaneous.