Tag Archives: Electricity

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

LED Lamps Go Where Compact Fluorescents Cannot

From The New York Times, Wednesday, September 8, 2010:

Mention “new lighting technology” and what leaps to mind is probably a compact fluorescent curlicue. Shaped like a soft ice cream cone, it is viewed as a replacement for the ubiquitous 60-watt incandescent light bulb, which looks almost like it did 90 years ago.

But a profusion of light-emitting-diode lamps is about to hit the market, many of them in applications that are awkward or impossible for compact fluorescents.

LED’s are still mostly specialty items sold on the Web. But by the end of this month, the 2,200 Home Depot stores around the United States will stock seven types, including two substitutes for the classic incandescent bulb, one of which my colleague Leslie Kaufman reported on recently.

But those are “not the most compelling use” of LED technology, according to Zachary S. Gibler, chief executive of the Lighting Science Group Corporation, which makes the lamps that Home Depot will stock. Replacing a standard 60-watt bulb, an LED will produce roughly the same amount of light per watt of electricity as a compact fluorescent; its only advantages, he said, is that it is fully dimmable and lasts a lot longer.

Another product his company is marketing is something most consumers can identify, but not name: a round lamp with a face about the size of a silver dollar, with a base consisting of two metal pins, often used for accent lighting in kitchens or retail stores. Called an MR16, it is almost always halogen, which is only slightly more efficient than a standard incandescent. It is much too small to allow for a fluorescent version.

But Lighting Science is selling an LED version. Installed over my kitchen sink, it casts a much whiter light than the yellowish halogen it replaced. It can take a bit of getting used to, but vegetables in the sink seem truer in its light. A 6-watt version can replace a 35-watt halogen, which is a consideration if it’s the light you leave on all night.

Continue reading: LED Lamps Go Where Compact Fluorescents Cannot

6 Hot New Electric Cars Soon to Hit Show Rooms

From The Daily Green,

The electrics are coming! By the end of the year, at least six battery-powered vehicles will be on the U.S. market. The cars will finally go from revolving on show stands to dealer floors, and we’ll finally know if consumers mean it when they say in opinion polls that they’ll consider an EV for their next purchase. Most of these cars will charge in five or six hours on 220-volt home current, and overnight on 110. Fifteen-minute fast charging (480 volts) may be available at some public stations, maybe even at your favorite big-box store.

Here’s a rundown of the cars headed for showrooms, some from major manufacturers and others from ambitious startups. Four are battery-only cars, one is a plug-in hybrid and the sixth (the Chevrolet Volt) is a unique combination of the two.

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A Push for Action on Renewables

From The New York Times, Wednesday, July 28, 2010:

With a cap on carbon dioxide an apparent nonstarter in the Senate these days, some clean energy and climate advocates have shifted their sights to a scaled-back but still ambitious goal: passage of a national renewable electricity standard.

Such a law would require utility companies to produce a set amount of electricity from renewable sources by a certain date, spurring the development of clean sources like wind and solar and probably lowering overall emissions nationally. Perhaps most important, some argue that with a strong push by the president, such a measure could actually clear the high bar for passage of 60 votes in the Senate this fall.

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Hydroelectric project millions over budget

From The Associated Press, Sunday, July 4, 2010:

A Southeast Alaska hydroelectric project has come in millions over budget, but is expected to bring Juneau plenty of power for years to come.

Alaska Electric Light & Power now is trying to persuade the Regulatory Commission of Alaska to let it raise its rates.

The utility is trying to show that it deserves to collect an extra $15.8 million or more in additional revenue after finishing the project. The utility says it wants $12.6 million at first and the rest can come later.

Continue reading: Hydroelectric project millions over budget

GVEA proposes Healy wind farm to boost renewable power

From The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Wednesday, April 28, 2010:

The Golden Valley Electric Association announced  plans Tuesday at its annual meeting to pursue the Eva Creek wind project, a $93 million effort to generate about 24 megawatts of power near Healy.

“After almost a decade of planning, study and research we finally think that we have a project that makes economic sense,” said Brian Newton, the GVEA president and CEO.

He said the final decision on the project is to be made in the next few months. It would be the first wind project by any Railbelt utility and the largest of the dozen or so wind farms in Alaska.

Click here to read the full story.

What's that smell? Energy!

From Alaska Dispatch, Wednesday, March 31, 2010:

The methane gas produced by rotting trash smells awful and can even blow up, but Anchorage’s Solid Waste Services has a plan to put that gas to work.

SWS plans to take the gas emitted at the Anchorage Regional Landfill and use it as energy. Estimates say the landfill’s methane could produce about 3 megawatts of power, or enough to power 2,500 local homes. Right now the methane gas is burned off by flares.

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Small wind farm pays big

From Alaska Dispatch, Tuesday, February 23, 2010:

On Tuesday, the village of Unalakleet, seated on Alaska’s northwest coast, celebrated the town’s newest energy force — turbine number six. The awakening of the high-tech wind catcher completes the installation of the town’s new wind farm, which has already saved the village tens of thousands of dollars since the first turbines powered up a few months ago.

Since November, Unalakleet has cut utility costs by nearly $55,000 and generated enough electricity to power 86 homes for an entire year, according the wind farm’s new Web site. The site also claims the wind energy has significantly reduced carbon dioxide emissions that would otherwise have been pumped into the atmosphere through more traditional, diesel-only power generation — the equivalent of more than 580,000 miles of driving in the family car. According to our calculations, that’s about 111 one-way trips between Anchorage and Key West, Florida.

Click here to read the full story.

Video games can be energy hogs. Three tips to cut your power bill.

From The Christian Science Monitor:

In the US, where 40 percent of homes contain at least one, video game consoles consume 16 billion kilowatt hours of energy yearly. That’s enough to power the entire city of San Diego for about 12 months, say the Natural Resources Defense Council and Ecos Consulting, which conducted a study on the energy-efficiency of various game consoles last year.

Click here to read the full story.

Get in the know about plugging in your car

By CCHRC Staff home life.


Q: Is there anything I need to be cautious about when plugging in
my automobile?Q: I’ve seen that there are now roof shingles that are solar panels.While a wide range of solar technologies work in Alaska and other cold climates, photovoltaic roof shingles are still too new and untested for cold regions. The basic concept of solar shingles is excellent because the space is usually wasted and basic support structure is already in place. But remember, things perform differently in our extreme climate. If the shingles are glued on, you have to check how that glue performs in cold temperatures. When it comes to solar technology, there are some general rules to be aware of. Anything that applies to solar means you have to have a good exposure to the sun, preferable facing south.Q: What is a heat recovery ventilator and what does it do?

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

For starters, there are the basics of electrical safety: when you are plugging in anything, you do not want to make direct contact with the circuit because of the risk of electric shock. Besides that, a lot of Fairbanks car fires can be attributed to improperly maintained vehicles. Oil leaks, fuel leaks or other heating elements can be ignited by a small spark. Because winterizing cars in Fairbanks includes installing electrical heating devices, people need to be more cautious about leaks because of the risk of fire.

So if you have leaks, get them checked out and perform any other standard car maintenance.


Could those work in Alaska?


The shingles are going to be covered with snow, so how will that factor into their

East or west might work too, depending on how your roof is built and the pitch of the roof. Consider all the options before choosing a system.


A Heat Recovery Ventilator, or HRV, is designed to bring fresh air into your home. The “tighter” your home is (fewer leaks in insulation, doors and windows), the more essential an HRV is to the safety of the occupants. The other important part of an HRV, heat recovery, means it captures as much of the heat that is leaving the building as possible. You have already heated the air in the house.

To bring fresh air in, you are going to have to expel stale air, but that air has heat in it that you do not want to waste. So the HRV acts as a heat exchanger. As cold fresh air moves in, the warm stale air moves out. When the two air flows pass by each other, the heat from the warm, stale air is transferred to the cold, fresh air through a heat exchanger. These devices will help keep your home warmer in the winter, while saving you energy and money because you do not have to reheat the air coming into your home quite as much.

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.