Tag Archives: Lighting

Make Your Own Solar-Collector Night Lights

From greenlivingideas.com:

Whether you have a kid, or you’re tired of encountering your darkened hallway walls at midnight, or you simply like the ambience of soft lighting and you don’t want to leave a beacon burning all through the night… an energy-saving night light is a must have.

It’s true that you can get a perky nocturnal hamster and make a hamster-powered night light, but a somewhat simpler project with equally impressive results is a self-crafted Sun Jar…

Invented by Tobias Wong, the Sun Jar is essentially a Mason jar containing a solar cell, a rechargeable battery, and an energy-saving LED lamp.  Placed in a sunlit area by day, the solar cell inside the Sun Jar charges the battery with solar energy and uses that energy at night to power the LED lamp.

Continue reading: Make Your Own Solar-Collector Night Lights

The Battle of the Bulbs

From The New York Times, Thursday, September 23, 2010:

Three House Republicans, Joe Barton and Michael Burgess of Texas and Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, have introduced the Better Use of Light Bulbs Act, which would repeal the section of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 that sets minimum energy efficiency standards for light bulbs and would effectively phase out most ordinary incandescents.

While the new standards won’t take effect until 2012, the authors argue that they are having a negative impact. Specifically, they say the standards have led lighting companies to close several incandescent light bulb factories in the United States and send jobs overseas — particularly to China, where most compact fluorescent light bulbs, which are more efficient than incandescents, are manufactured.

Compact fluorescents are likely to be the cheapest bulbs on store shelves after retailers stop selling ordinary incandescents.

“The unanticipated consequences of the ’07 act — Washington-mandated layoffs in the middle of a desperate recession — is one of the many examples of what happens when politicians and activists think they know better than consumers and workers,” Mr. Barton, the ranking member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said in a statement. “Washington is making too many decisions that are better left to people who work for their own paychecks and earn their own living.”

Continue reading: The Battle of the Bulbs

Get the LED out (they work well)


By CCHRC Staff

The “Ask a Builder” series is dedicated to answering some of the many questions Fairbanks residents have about building, energy and the many other parts of home life.

Q: I’ve read LED lights perform well in cold temperatures. What about in Alaska?

Absolutely. LEDs are generally pretty tough. They are shock and cold resistant. In fact the colder it gets, the better they perform. When it comes to outdoor lighting at extreme temperatures, some fluorescents can suffer from performance losses when compared to their use inside. Currently, LEDs are popular in lowlight applications such as pathway lighting or for task lighting such as workbenches, nightlights, flashlights and other devices where incandescent bulbs have traditionally been used. Because small incandescent bulbs are the least efficient, they are perfect to be replaced by an LED.

When it comes to the lighting industry in general, changes are coming along quickly. Prices are coming down on LEDs and fluorescents, and they are being better designed to work in different environments. If you are looking at buying an LED light for outdoor use, get one with a good warranty. The bulbs may last a long time, but there are other components in the light that may not fare as well.

Q: What is the difference between EPS and XPS foam?

Both are similar chemically and both are made from polystyrene, but the manufacturing process is different. Expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam, also called “bead board” is what you would find in coffee cups.

It is manufactured using small plastic beads that are expanded and fused together in a mold. Extruded polystyrene (XPS) is blue or pink, hence it is also called “blue board” or “pink board.” It is also made using polystyrene beads, but they are liquefied rather than expanded and then a blowing agent is added to force the liquid into a form. This process also creates a skin on the surface of the foam.

XPS is slightly more resistant to water vapor than EPS. EPS, generally has an R-value of 3 to 4 per inch, whereas XPS has an R-value of about 5 per inch. No matter what type, the R-value will be printed on the packaging or the board itself.

It is often assumed that the blue or the pink foams are the only ones you would want to use “below grade,” such as in your basement or a damp environment. The truth is both products will work as long as they are strong enough or dense enough to handle the stress in the place they are going to be installed. For example, many insulated concrete forms are made with EPS foam. These forms always go below grade. No matter the case, consult the product manufacturer information, which is usually available where you purchased the foam. Also, judge the prices in relation to the R-value you are getting, and get a product that is rated for your application.

Alaska HomeWise articles promote home awareness for the Cold Climate Housing Research Center (CCHRC). If you have a question, e-mail us at akhomewise@cchrc.org. You can also call the CCHRC at (907) 457-3454.

What do consumers really think about efficient lighting?

From The Daily Green:
The second annual Sylvania Socket Survey was just released, illuminating consumer attitudes and behaviors when it comes to energy-efficient, green lighting. According to the report, a whopping 74% of respondents are now using compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs), although the same fraction are not aware of the impending congressional ban on incandescent bulbs that begins in 2012. Perhaps not surprisingly, there still isn’t that much knowledge about next-generation LEDs.
Click here to read the full story.

In your home, let the sun shine in


By CCHRC Staff

The “Ask a Builder” series is dedicated to answering some of the many questions Fairbanks residents have about building, energy and the many other parts of home life.

Q: Why is it beneficial to have south-facing windows on a home?

Because of the orientation with the sun, south-facing windows bring in both light and heat, which are important for homes in our climate. If you have a lot of north-facing windows, you’re going to lose a lot of heat with not a lot of heat gain.

The amount of heat your home gains from the sun should not be underestimated and sunlight also is good for your mood.

At the same time, some homes can become overheated in months like March, when there is no vegetation to provide shade, and the sun comes directly through your windows. Also, in the summer, the hot sun can overheat your home if your roof does not have enough overhang to shade your windows. Again, trees and other vegetation will help here as well.

Before you build your home, get a sense of where the sunlight falls in both winter and summer. If you are a morning person and you need that morning light to help wake you up, you’ll want to place your windows appropriately. If you like to entertain in the evening summer sun, then put windows in the appropriate place for that. It’s not just about getting light to see and heat your home, think about how light will affect your life in your home.

Q: I want to put a chimney in for a stove, but there are a bunch of things in the way, including a beam. How can I get around that?

It’s always frustrating when you’ve got the perfect place for a stove, but something is in the way. Ideally a chimney should be a straight shot for easy cleaning and proper drafting, but sometimes it just isn’t possible and you’ve got to put an elbow in the pipe. The best place to put an elbow is at the bottom because it allows you to scrub the chimney top to bottom when you clean it and you can still get inside the stove and vacuum out that elbow piece.

Sometimes you can run a stovepipe directly out the side of the house and up the exterior wall. How well this works is case dependent. If there is too much pipe in an uninsulated space, then the pipe can get cold and as a result, some of the smoke will get cold which can cause creosote build up and create a chimney fire hazard. Also, a fire started with a stovepipe that is cold may not draft properly so it may smoke and smolder and even introduce pollutants into your house if it’s not an airtight stove.

Q: What are the advantages of LED lights over those spiral compact fluorescents?

LEDs use less power, have a longer life and are more durable than compact fluorescents. Initially there have been some costs that have kept them from reaching the broad market, but every year brings new innovations in LED technology, bringing the cost down and improving the quality of light they produce. Compact fluorescents contain mercury, so disposing of them is a problem, while LEDs are fairly non-toxic. LEDs also work better than the average bulb in cold temperatures, which is important in our climate.

Alaska HomeWise articles promote home awareness for the Cold Climate Housing Research Center (CCHRC). If you have a question, e-mail us at akhomewise@cchrc.org. You can also call the CCHRC at (907) 457-3454

LED lights — not just for your DVD player anymore

From the New York Times on Sunday, May 10, 2009:

Most people think of LEDs as the lights blinking from inside electronic devices. They are being used increasingly to light rooms, though few people have ever bought them.

“In the U.S., 78 percent of the public is completely unaware that traditional light bulbs will be phased out in 2012,” said Charles F. Jerabek, president and chief executive of Osram Sylvania, a unit of Siemens. By law, bulbs must be 30 percent more efficient than current incandescent versions beginning that year.

Click here to read the whole story.

Compact Fluorescent Lights Save Energy, Cast Cheering Glow

BY Adam Wasch, Energy Outreach Consultant for CCHRC and UAF CES
Energy Focus: Fairbanks Daily News-Miner December 4th, 2008, Section A3

Switching off the lights is a great way to save energy and clean house at the same time. Dirt and pet fur disappear instantly. Plus, it’s romantic. Too bad dim lighting is otherwise impractical and over time possibly contributes to the winter blues. What energy-efficient lighting options exist for the sun-bereft winter residents of the North? Continue reading

Hydroelectric power — back in (the) black

From the Associated Press, on Monday, December 1, 2008:

There is mounting political pressure to get more energy from alternative sources and developers are pushing ambitious projects to exploit America’s biggest rivers for power.

“Some of these applications have been around for decades, but there’s renewed interest now,” said Jeff Hawk, spokesman for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Pittsburgh district. “We’ve seen a spurt of applications; we’re busier now than ever.”

A new generation of low-impact hydroelectric plants is expected to light up the Ohio River Valley. Along the Mississippi River, a city and a small startup firm have separate hopes of harnessing that artery’s energy potential either through a few big turbines or thousands of tiny, submerged ones.

Water is already the leading renewable energy source used by utilities to generate electric power.

Click here to read the whole article.

Incandescent bulbs to be outlawed

On December 19, President Bush signed H.R. 6, the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, into law (Public Law 110-140). Among the provisions in the law is one that will outlaw incandescent lightbulbs by 2012.

Click here to read a white paper on the law’s lighting provisions, produced by the Lighting Controls Association.

A greener home

The first of a two-part series, “A Greener Future”, from the LA Times, September 14, 2008:

Innovations in designing green chemicals are emerging in nearly every U.S. industry, from plastics and pesticides to toys and nail polish. Some manufacturers of cosmetics, household cleaners and other consumer products are leading the charge, while others are lagging behind.

For decades, many manufacturers used the most powerful weapons in their chemical arsenals, with scant attention to where they wound up or what they might have been doing to people or the planet.

Click here to read the whole article.