Tag Archives: Electricity

University of Alaska Fairbanks students take on electrifying ATV project

From The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Tuesday, January 19, 2010:

The University Police Department is about to acquire a new high-tech gadget that’s more notable for what it won’t do than what it will.

The modified 2002 Suzuki Eiger four-wheeler won’t use any gasoline. It won’t create any emissions. And except for the sound of tires rolling across the ground, it won’t make a noise above a whisper.

The ATV will be the department’s first all-electric vehicle, thanks to a two-week modification process by mechanical engineering students at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

Click here to read the full story.

Adak fights to keep the lights on

From Alaska Dispatch, Monday, January 11, 2010:

Far out on the Aleutian chain, on windy Adak Island, a world-class Nautilus gym sits dark and cold because the city of Adak can’t afford the electricity to light and heat it.

The gym is an artifact left over from when the island was a naval base, home to 6,000 military personnel. Today Adak has about 200 residents who are struggling to find a way to make their remote lifestyle sustainable.

Click here to read the full story.

PORTAL and ACHP to host consumer workshops

Learn how to do or direct your own energy efficient improvements. Attend an informative workshop FREE TO THE PUBLIC! Workshops are brought to you by Alaska Housing Finance Corporation.

The following workshops will be held from 6-8 pm at the Cold Climate Housing Research Center, 1000 Fairbanks Street, near West Valley High School and the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Call 907-457-3454 for directions.

February 1, 2010: Building Science Basics

February 2, 2010: Air Tightness

February 3, 2010: Ice Dams

February 4, 2010: Lighting & Appliances

February 8, 2010: Heating & Hot Water

February 9, 2010: Doors & Windows

February 10, 2010: Insulation

February 11, 2010: Ventilation

Small-scale turbines get big praise in two villages

From The Tundra Drums, Monday, December 21, 2009:

Two Western Alaska villages spinning power from small wind turbines say they’re saving thousands of dollars a year.

“I’m still amazed at what they’re doing,” said Gerald Kosbruk, president of the tribal government in Perryville on the southern Alaska Peninsula.

However, the head of the largest utility in rural Alaska, Alaska Village Electric Cooperative, cautioned that such wind turbines have their drawbacks.

Click here to read the full story.

Earth-Friendly Elements, Mined Destructively

From the New York Times, Friday, December 25, 2009;

Some of the greenest technologies of the age, from electric cars to efficient light bulbs to very large wind turbines, are made possible by an unusual group of elements called rare earths. The world’s dependence on these substances is rising fast.

Just one problem: These elements come almost entirely from China, from some of the most environmentally damaging mines in the country, in an industry dominated by criminal gangs.

Click here to read the full story.

Get the most out of that energy-sucking kitchen device: Your refrigerator


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: Refrigerators are expensive to operate. How can I make sure mine is using less energy?

In terms of energy efficiency, refrigerators are often ignored but use a large percentage of a home electricity budget. And typically, a new refrigerator with automatic defrost and a topmounted freezer uses about half the energy of a 1990 version.

So use that as a benchmark. If your refrigerator is old and needs repairs or is close to the end of its expected life (which could be around 15 years), then it makes good sense to replace it.

In terms of maintenance, check door seals. Sometimes the seals get brittle or lose their compressive memory which can cause small gaps. As a rule of thumb, you do not want to be able to take a piece of paper and slide that between the seal and the refrigerator case. Another method is to close a flashlight inside the fridge. If you turn off the lights in the room and can still see light coming out of the fridge, then it’s probably time to replace the seals.

Also, the refrigerator compartment should be between 36F and 38F and the freezer should be between 0F and 5F. You can’t always trust the dial in the fridge to do that, so if you really want to be sure, put a thermometer in there and use the fridge dial setting as a point of reference to make sure the temperature is correct. Another important thing to look at is cleaning the condenser coils once a year. Those coils are at the back or bottom fridge. When coated with dust they make the fridge work harder and thus use more energy.

The location of your fridge is key. If the refrigerator is in the sun, next to the stove, or any other warm space, it will use more energy trying to stay cold.

A fridge in a cool space will help save energy.

When you’re preparing food to go into the fridge, let it cool down fully before storing away.

Remember, a refrigerator is a temperature-regulating appliance. Hot food will raise the temperature inside the compartment and the fridge will have to work harder to bring that temperature down to the proper level.

If you are looking into buying a new fridge, top and bottom units tend to be more efficient than side-by-side units. However, the bottom line when buying a fridge or any appliance is to look at the yellow Energy Star tag.

Energy Star information will tell you kilowatt hours per year for your model, which you can compare with other models.

Q: Why is it so important to seal around fixtures like vents, can lights and such?

If these areas are in an exterior wall and not properly sealed, air and moisture will easily move through these areas. You don’t want to be losing heat, or pushing moisture into walls or the roof. Moisture getting into a roof can cause rot, mold, ice jams and a variety of other problems.

Typically on new construction these areas are sealed. Even more convenient: many new building materials have gaskets that seal to the vapor barrier. However, older homes have electrical boxes, recess lighting, exhaust fans and other components that often were not sealed when installed. Air can easily pass into the attic space through these gaps. To seal, use spray foam or caulk which should seal these areas well.

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.

Be wary when burning coal in a wood stove


By Cold Climate Housing Research Center 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 have a wood stove. Can I burn coal in it, too?

A: Unless a wood stove has been specifically designed to burn coal, too, I would not burn coal in it. For starters, coal has the ability to burn much, much hotter than wood, so it can damage the stove or heat it up so much that it can be a fire hazard to nearby objects.

Also, burning coal in a stove that isn’t airtight or specifically designed for coal can be dangerous because there is no way to shut down the air supply if the fire gets too hot. Add that to the fact that a coal fire takes a lot longer to go out, and you’re asking for trouble.

Q: What is a low e-coating?

A: The low e-coating is a metallic finish on one side of a window pane.

This finish will reflect radiant heat energy.

Radiant heat is heat that passes through electromagnetic waves, like sunlight.

If you have a multiple pane window with multiple coatings, the coating on the outside of the glass will reflect summer heat away from the building to keep it cool, and the coating on the inside of the glass will reflect indoor heat back into the house to keep it warm in the winter.

In Alaska, we typically favor coatings that will reflect heat inside while also choosing a pane that has a high solar heat gain coefficient. That means a window that allows more heat to pass through into the house, rather than reflect it.

Q: Is it worth the energy savings to put my computer to sleep, or should I shut it off every time I’m not using it?

A: That depends on how frequently you use your computer. If you go back and forth to your computer with hours in between, then putting it to sleep is more beneficial.

However, if you only use your computer once per day, such as when you’re at work or when you’re at home in the evening, then turning your computer off is more energy efficient.

Remember, keeping your computer on all day, even in sleep or standby mode, uses power that you have to pay for.

Remember that computers, like cars and people, need a break from time to time. Turning your computer off will give it a rest, and it will function better in the long run.

Alaska HomeWise articles promote awareness of homerelated issues. If you have a question, e-mail the Cold Climate Housing Research Center at akhomewise@cchrc.org.

Kenai regulates turbines

From Peninsula Clarion, Tuesday, November 24, 2009:

Kenai is doing more than any other city in the state in terms of encouraging wind turbine development within city limits, a leader in Alaska wind energy installation said.

On Nov. 4, the Kenai City Council passed an ordinance establishing the rules for building generators in the city. Nadia Daggett, Alaska Wind Industries’ owner called it the most progressive set of urban wind turbine regulations she’s seen in Alaska.

Click here to read the full story.

Corporation still planning Fire Island wind farm

From The Associated Press, Wednesday, November 25, 2009:

The Cook Inlet Region corporation says it plans to go ahead with the Fire Island wind farm project, despite a split last month with a developer.

The Anchorage Native corporation told The Anchorage Daily News it could fund the $165 million project by itself and hopes to sign a deal next month with another developer. The Legislature has committed $25 million for a transmission line to the Anchorage grid.

The wind farm could be generating electricity by the end of 2011.