Energy:

Keep Your Home Cosy with Strategic Heating and Cooling

Every homeowner struggles to find the best ways to heat and cool a home without a incurring a high price tag. Running a standard central furnace and air conditioning system on a constant basis costs significant money while contributing to noise levels and pollution.

Alternative heating and cooling strategies are possible for any home, based on your resources and willingness to put in the effort.

Plant some trees

If you have the yard space, add deciduous trees on the south side of your home. When they lose their leaves in the fall and winter, low-lying sunlight can pour into the structure and warm it naturally.

Come spring and summer, dense foliage develops to block the sunlight and create a cool space across the property. You may even want to consider trees along the east or west side to control the sunrise and sunset sunlight that hits your home.

Ceiling fan science

Ceiling fans used to be absolutely necessary features in homes well before air conditioning became commonplace. But this simple cooling mechanism still works in homes today and will save you money.

Fans create a wind chill within the room, encouraging your skin to wick any moisture from the surface and cooling you. Activate the blades to spin counterclockwise, which pushes air directly down onto you.

Employ the clockwise rotation in the winter to pull warm air down from the ceiling as you heat the room slightly with natural air movement.

Outdoor sunshades

Simple removable sunshades and awnings can make a big temperature difference in your home. Install these shades on the west, east, or south side of the home.

Evaluate the hottest part of the day for your home and place the shading item there. You may want several shades for extremely hot days.

Whenever you reduce the amount of sunlight that strikes your home, less heat accumulates indoors. Cooling costs may drop substantially after you install an inexpensive sunshade.

Ductless system option

A home without a duct system cannot use a traditional central air system without significant cost and extra remodeling work. According to Washington Energy Services, ductless systems that use a heat pump are perfectly adapted to work in homes as long as outdoor and indoor components have the appropriate space.

These systems work much like a traditional split system: They use refrigerant to convert hot air into cool air and vice versa. Ductless systems take up little space, which makes them perfect for smaller homes that lack existing ductwork.

Attic care

The attic is often overlooked when it comes to heating and cooling, but this space traps hot and cold air throughout the year. Think about insulating your attic and adding ventilation ducts to control the attic temperature.

Any hot or cold air trapped above the residence contributes to an uncomfortable living space. Insulation regulates the attic temperature, making the rest of the home more comfortable without extra air conditioning or heating costs.

Beautify your home while intelligently increasing its heating and cooling abilities. If you use strategic sunshade locations and shady trees, your home doesn’t have to be expensive to maintain comfortably.

Think logically about the sun’s angle across your home to heat the space in the winter and cool it in summer.

Clean:

Use Technology for a Greener Home

Are you a tech geek who has a soft spot for doing your part to green up Mother Earth? There are countless ways to use more sustainable technology in the home, but they’re not all necessarily marketed as “green technology.”

Maybe you’re keeping an eye out for new appliances that have Energy Star ratings, but there’s more than one way to lighten your carbon footprint while preserving the heft of your wallet. Routine home upgrades can make a big difference on your budget and conservation efforts.

For example, did you know that ductless heat pumps are a great way to cut your energy usage by as much as 50 percent? Instead of relying on a traditional backup system that wastes precious energy, this one lets you personalize it by going with a 100-percent ductless system … or cherry picking which areas of your home to use it.

As an added bonus, you can even score a rebate and/or tax break when you install this system. However, there are further technological advances to consider.

Control freak

You can look at smart thermostats, but you should recognize that they’re not all created equally. Go with a designer model such as Nest Labs, which the iPod designers dreamed up, to control the temperature of your home based on your lifestyle and schedule.

Its sleek, contemporary, and stainless-steel approaches make it a form of home décor in its own right. Dependent on cloud computing and sensors, Nest monitors your habits to optimize your home heating. It’s been estimated that you can shave 30 percent off your energy bill with this model.

The right power adaptor is an easy and affordable installation that costs less than $200 and saves homeowners up to 13 percent each year. A reputable company like Green Plug offers a solid model that promises better connectivity between home devices that require power and the energy supply.

Once a device like that busy coffee brewer has the power it needs, the power line is automatically shut off.

The automated home

Home automation isn’t just a drool-worthy addition, it’s also a great way to save money. Consider automated lights that work around your schedule and “know” when a room is empty.

They cost less than $200 per light switch, but can save you a lot of cash depending on how forgetful you (or the kids) are about the lights. In the winter months, when people stay in and the days are shorter, automating your lights can be a great way to double up on those heating conservation efforts.

Use technology for a fatter bank account, to score tax benefits, and to boost your home’s value. Who knew home updates could be so easy?

Around The Web

last update: October 1, 2014

Clean:

5 High-Tech Devices That Will Save You Both Kinds of Green

Going high-tech and changing your home to go green are working together in a growing synergy. Each year more smart devices come on the market that are not only earth-friendly but pretty cool to have in your home. Here are five examples.

1. High-tech thermostats

It’s no surprise that since a majority of home energy bills involve heating and cooling costs, much of the new technology for homes centers on this. Older homes have inefficient systems that waste an incredible amount of energy.

Much of the waste is attributable to climate control of rooms that are not in use and when the home is unoccupied. Smart technologies now give you programmable thermostats you can control from anywhere.

Applications and Internet-enabled technology provide greater control while you’re away, as well as networking of thermostats for efficient climate control throughout your home.

2. Motion sensors

Remember when you were a child and your parents would remind you to turn out the lights when you left a room? Motion sensors will turn on lights when you enter a room and shut them off when you leave.

This technology isn’t limited to lighting. Electrical and other systems through your house can be outfitted with sensors to cut the flows to other devices as well. Some devices even allow you to do this using an application on a smartphone so you can monitor and shut off any appliances, electrical systems, and anything else that might have been left on when you rushed out the door.

3. Solar power

Even though it could save an average of 30% of their power consumption, some people aren’t ready to commit fully to solar energy. This is understandable, since converting to solar requires a costly initial investment.

The good news is that many smaller solar collection devices can cut your energy costs. By placing solar panels on patios, porches, garages, or at other outdoor locations, you can increase the efficiency of your home dramatically.

Some companies offer hybrid devices that run on both solar and direct power to provide some savings and take that small step toward being greener.

4. Smart Appliances

When LG released its line of smart appliances at the Consumer Electronics Show in 2012, people went crazy over them. From a refrigerator that creates menus and inventories its contents, to a washing machine that was not just eco-friendly but also fast and high-capacity, these advances in home technology were the greatest in many years.

Utilizing Internet networking technology, these appliances are able to connect and even communicate with one another, which allows for easier use and greater energy efficiency.

5. Power adapters

There’s a common myth that installing energy- and cost-saving devices requires a ton of work and a complete overhaul of the space. The reality is that you can do quite a few things that save money and still do your share in going green.

The average household uses 13% of its home energy simply charging and powering up devices each year. Typical charging devices push far too much energy through their adapters during a charge-up and continue to do so even when the charge is complete.

A company called Green Plug offers an alternative that creates a “smart” style of charging device that powers down when it isn’t connected for a charge and only feeds power to the device when it needs it.

Clean:

Chevy Spark Goes 139.7 Miles on One Charge

Chevrolet Spark

One of the biggest knocks against the electric vehicle revolution is range. It’s hard to get from one charging station to another in some places around the country. They are city drivers, designed to get you back and forth from work less than 20 miles away to get you there without incident on the EPA-rated 82 mile range Chevrolet Spark.

Digital Trends wanted to put the limits to the test. According to Chevy, they could get well over 100 miles in ideal situations. Those “ideal” situations weren’t exactly practical – 18 MPH nonstop with the right driving conditions. To test it, they took it to the track and set the record, unofficially. There are no recorded events for this type of test, so it’s the record as far as we know. That’s good enough for us!

According to the driver:

I prodded the Chevy team for more info. The Spark EV engineers admitted that in ideal conditions, the Spark could probably go 160 to 180 miles on a single charge, which – at 18.5 mph – would take around nine hours of non-stop driving.

Read More: Digital Trends

Clean:

Ford Gives us the 101 on Hybrids

Ford Hybrid

There is more and more confusion added to the mix every time the automakers come out with a new version of energy efficient vehicles. There’s hybrids, plug-in hybrids, plug-in electric vehicles, and likely several more on the way that combine gas, electricity, solar, hydrogen, nuclear, and gravitational energy induction to propel our vehicles.

Continue reading Ford Gives us the 101 on Hybrids

  • Follow TechVert

Energy:

First Solar Powered Plane About to Fly Across U.S.

With concerns about limited energy sources, solar power is becoming one of the hottest trends in tech development. Still, the fact that the first solar-powered plane has started a cross-country journey in the U.S. is incredible to most. The ultra-lightweight solar-powered plane, named Solar Impulse, is powered by the sun’s rays along with on-board batteries for reserve power. During it’s cross-country flight, not a drop of fuel will be utilized, making it the first flight of its kind.

The flight, which took off from San Francisco, California for the first of five segments of the trip, will reach an altitude of round 21,000 feet. A live feed on the plane’s website will broadcast the aircraft’s altitude, speed and location along with interior and exterior camera views. Two pilots, the founders of the plane, will take turns navigating.

That first leg of the trip concluded 18 hours after takeoff in Phoenix, Arizona. Although the plane travels much slower than traditional airlines (the average speed is about 43 miles per hour or 69 km per hour), the technology is still in development and further advances will likely lead to faster planes. Also, the plane’s costs are significantly diminished thanks to the use of solar power and battery power as opposed to fuel.

High fuel prices have caused air travel to become more expensive in more recent years. However, travelers have found great alternatives in terms of deals on accommodations and transportation which have allowed them to make up for that extra cost. New technologies like solar-powered flight may one day contribute to the growing means of transportation both in and around the U.S.

A few hurdles continue to stand in the way of solar power as a practical energy source for air flight. First, the plane’s lightweight design means that it cannot stand up to strong winds. Rain and clouds are also adverse conditions that which produce only minor setbacks for regular passenger planes while delaying a solar-powered flight for hours or even days.

Naturally, the inventors of this solar-powered airplane and the proponents of solar energy continue to work hard to improve the plane’s design and usability. For the time being, however, these achievements prove that we live in an exciting time where major advances in technology and green energy are being made each and every day.

Clean:

Greening it Up on the Drive

Commuting

Despite the trend of working from home rather than driving to the office, commuting on the roads is still a reality for millions of Americans. Rising gas prices have many people contemplating changing cars or even changing jobs. It’s starting to get ridiculous.

Continue reading Greening it Up on the Drive

Clean:

Sitting Sunny: Top 10 Countries Using Solar

Solar Power

Solar power around the world has seen its ups and downs over the past couple of decades. Some say it’s too expensive. Others say it’s impractical. Many believe it’s the future of energy worldwide. Who’s right?

Continue reading Sitting Sunny: Top 10 Countries Using Solar

More on TechVert