Alternative Energy

Drought in California

We are snow birds who have been visiting California for the past several years usually in the Jan to April time period. There is much to learn about the drought in California. We have also learned the steps that California is taking to curtail water use to ensure that there will be enough water to last through this drought. It is in its fourth year with no end in site at the present time. One measure is the depth of the snow pack in the mountains, which once again is lacking and will not provide enough water for the coming year. California already knows that the drought will go on for at least another year.

Drought in California – Desert

We are in southern California in a beautiful spot in the desert. We are continually amazed at how much water is used here for irrigation, fountains. Also all of the regular daily uses of water that seem to be in conflict with the drought and water restrictions. Even the condo property we are staying at is having lot’s of debate with regard to what they should do  with regards to their water use. There are over 100 golf courses in the valley and all are watered daily, many several times a day. There are many gated communities with lots of lawns and gardens, water falls at the entrances and so on. We do not perceive a  reduction in water usage as far as we can observe.

Some locations are gradually converting to a desert landscape which will use much less water. However this is a very small percentage of the overall total. We find it troubling that many communities and individuals do not appear to be doing much about curtailing water usage. In fact in the condo we are staying at the water usage has gone up by 22% over the previous year.

Drought in California – Steps to Reduce Water Usage

The following list has been suggested by California to reduce water usage. It is not complete since this list is being adjusted and added to as the drought continues to get worse.

  • Water lawns only at night to reduce evaporation
  • Wash cars with hoses that can be turned off
  • Convert to desert landscape
  • Convert all water devices to efficient water use devices – toilets, showers etc
  • Report any running water to authorities
  • Repair any sprinklers that are not working properly
  • Correct sprinklers that spray water on sidewalks and roads
  • Reduce water use where ever and whenever possible.

When heating with electricity makes sense

heating with electricityHeating with electricity when there is no furnace or perhaps when your basement is too cold is a perfectly viable alternative. Many homes with basements and forced air furnaces are usually very cold in the winter time. It can be almost impossible to keep them warm without spending a lot of money changing the duct work of the furnace. You may need to add hot air ducting and cold air ducts just to get the basement a little bit warmer in the winter time. There is an alternative and it can make sense heating with electricity. We purchased and electric heater like the one in the picture.

It can be moved around, it is on wheels and plugs into a wall outlet. Oil is heated inside to heat the vanes on the outside. Simple air convection causes the air to move and heat the rest of the room. This heater is the one we choose. However any heater is good for heating with electricity as long as it has the capacity you need. They can be great for just taking the chill off the room without having to heat the rest of the home just to get the basement more comfortable. Heating with electricity can make sense in this situation.

Heating with Electricity

In fact if you keep the temperature of your home low and only heat the room that you are in with one of these heaters, it can result in a net savings in total cost. You are burning less fuel to heat your home since it is being kept at a lower temperature overall and you are only heating the room that you are in with the electric heater.

Buying a home and Heating with Electricity, does it make sense?

The real answer is that it depends. In most areas, heating with natural gas, propane or oil is cheaper than heating with electricity. However there are some locations where electricity is relatively cheap compared to the cost of other fuels.  If you are considering purchasing a home with electric heating, ask the homeowner for copies of their heating bill for a year.For more information on managing energy use, click here.

Next quiz them about the temperature setting they use in the winter. You will have some idea about how warm they keep their house compared to the temperature you prefer.  You can compare the numbers to other homes in the area, your current home etc. Taking into account personal preferences regarding the temperature you prefer in your own home.

Remember not everyone uses electricity the same way. So take into account how much energy conservation you practice vs. the person your buying the home from. All of these factors will impact the cost of electricity in the home and your overall electric bill.

Top green upgrades to save energy

Top green upgrades to save energyThe bottom line for most consumers when it comes to saving money on energy and choosing the top green upgrades to save energy is what is the upfront cost of the upgrade. In other words, if you may have a refrigerator which might not be the most energy efficient. Are you going to spend a thousand dollars, plus or minus, to replace it? Just to save a few dollars of electricity a year. The answer is probably not for the majority of people.

On the other hand if you have to replace it because it stopped working. Or perhaps the repair costs are too expensive to make it worth while to repair it. In this case you may decide to select the most efficient model when it comes to refrigerators. As long as the price of the fridge is competitive. You might even have to comparison shop to make sure you get the best deal. But at least you save money on the purchase as well as on the operating costs.

What are the Top green upgrades to save energy

If you are going to spend money on reducing your energy usage the following list of steps to take will make sure that you gain the most:

Insulation – adding insulation to your attic will increase your energy savings dramatically. Especially if there is old or no insulation at all in the attic.

Water use – decreasing water use is easy if the entire family gets involved. turn off those taps, upgrade toilets and use water efficient shower heads, etc

High efficiency furnace – will decrease the amount of fuel you use as well as the electricity you use to run the fan. Most high efficient furnaces use DC motors which are much more efficient.

Use energy Star appliances – always purchase energy star appliances when you buy replacements. examine the details and assumptions behind the numbers that they advertise.

Replace incandescent light bulbs with CFL’s or LEDs – This can be another large savings especially if you leave lights on all of the time such as a hall light at night or outside lights.

How to Manage Energy Use

If you have not already done so, it is about time that you change all of your lights to something better such as fluorescent or LED bulbs. While you are thinking about reducing energy, widen your scope and consider how to manage energy use as part of your everyday lifestyle. It is amazing just how much energy you can save and by extension reduce the overall cost of your energy use as well. Anytime you can save money and use it for something else it is a good thing in our books. Energy use falls into several categories and we can cover each of these in a bit more details.

Manage Energy Use – Electricity

just about everything is running on electricity these days, so if you make a conscious effort to reduce your electricity use by turning off lights, turning off appliances when not in use, turning up the thermostat in the summer time and down in the winter will make a huge difference in your electrical bill.

Manage Energy Use – Heating Fuel

We called it fuel since some people heat their homes with natural gas, others by electricity and some by oil or even wood and coal. Anytime you lower the thermostat means you are going to use less fuel to heat your home, less energy and reduce your heating bill. For those homes that forced air furnaces, while you are using less fuel, you are also using less electricity as well since the fan is not running for as long or as often.

Manage Energy Use – Water

Believe it or not, it takes energy to deliver water to your home. But that is not the real cost as far as consumers are concerned. Most cities charge for water based on how much you use and as a result when you upgrade to more efficient showers, toilets and water your lawn less you will be using less water and paying lower monthly bills for water.

Manage Energy Use – Your Car

There are multiple ways to use less gasoline. Avoid jack rabbit starts and stops. Combining errands, taking the bus, walking or biking and driving a fuel efficient car are among the ways of reducing your gasoline use and paying much less in total at the pump.

Alternatives to Gasoline Powered Cars

Improving Gas MileageThere are lots of alternatives to pure gasoline powered cars. Fortunately there are more and more of them available on the market for consumers. Some are not priced well as of this writing. In other words it is still cheaper to buy a gasoline powered car than it is to purchase a hybrid or an all electric car. But once they are mass produced, the prices will cone down a great deal.

Aside from the extra cost of many of these different power trains, the savings are simply not enough to push consumers to purchases these cars on a mass basis. Over time confidence will grow as more and more people buy them and use them. There will become clear winners as well which will be based on maintenance free driving. As well as strong support when there is a problem that must be fixed.

A new car power train that provides great mileage can fail as a product.  If support for repairs are less than consumer expectations. As a result right now we are still in the experimentation phase for “all electric vehicles”. Hybrids are well on the way into mass production. For example the Toyota Prius has been around for many years and continues to provide excellent operational characteristics. One of the major challenges is the battery. The cost, the longevity and the distance you can go on a single charge, not to mention how long it takes to recharge. Then there is the issue of where you will recharge the battery. As a result more and more battery charging stations are appearing. Many more are planned over the next few years.

Gasoline Powered Cars – and the Alternatives

The next five years will show us many more new developments. It is an exciting time for car development.

Gasoline Hybrid Cars
Plugin Electrics

Electric cars
Ethanol and flex fuel

Liquified and Compressed Natural Gas

Fuel cells

Hence some of the above types of power trains are clearly too far in the future. As a result they will not be developed any time soon. Some will just not be economic. Subsequently they will be given up in favor of other types of power trains. The future is exciting and yesterday Google made a big announcement. They will have a driver less car on the road in 2015 that can be purchased by consumers. Most noteworthy is that Google has not achieved this objective as of 2019.

Will UPS and FedEx follow Amazon with Drone delivery

Amazon recently announced that it will be using small drones that can fly within 15 miles of their distribution sites to deliver small packages to its customers by 2015. They are developing the technology, the processes, and working on developing many of the rules and regulations that will be required to allow them to deliver packages to customers using drones.

These drones are small flying vertical lift helicopters, that can lift up to three or 4 pounds and deliver it to a customers doorstep. Something that might have been considered science fiction a few years ago is close to reality if they are successful. Even if the are late you can be sure it is going to happen sometime in the near future.

Drone Delivery

The delivery service will be a premium service to be sure. Probably expensive, but it can be a fast service. Order in the morning and receive your order in the afternoon by drone! There is a lot to work out. GPS coordinates better be correct, otherwise these packages will end up in the wrong locations.

What Will USP and Fedex Do?

Amazon has made this announcement. You can be sure that major companies such as UPS and Fedex will be looking into the same technology to augment their delivery operations. It will be interesting to understand if the economics of this new delivery mechanism will support a mature drone delivery approach. Regulations, processes and the business model must all be developed. This will be done in the next couple of years to make drone delivery a success.

We will be watching this energy saving trend as it matures in the future!

There Can Also be a Sinister Side to this Technology

As long as the good guys have the technology and use it for good things, we are all ok. But what if the bad guys gain access to the technology. They can use this same technology to deliver everything from drugs to cigarettes. There are many items that could be delivered across the border by drone and even into jails if needed. Fly a drone in under cover of darkness. Deposit an item in the corner of the exercise yard and fly out. Next day during the exercise period the person the package was intended for picks it up and hides it for later use.

There are so many potential uses for this kind of technology it is actually kind of scary! What do you think about this particular technology and it its potential?

Electric Cars – Consumer Ratings

Consumer ratings for electric cars are at their very early stages since they have really not been on the market that long and consumers have a skewed view of electric cars in general for two reasons. First the pure electric cars take a long time to charge and they do not go that far on a full battery charge to begin with. Secondly they are still very expensive compared to their counterparts in the gasoline side and the price of these cars eat up any money you might save on the consumption side.

However we expect that hybrid and all electric cars are here to stay and it is just a matter of time until the manufacturers figure out some of the kinks in these cars charging and longevity issues. Once they become mass produced, the price of electric cars will also come down a great deal as well. The range problem is a bit more difficult. If you place a larger battery in the car, the price goes up, but it also still takes a relatively long time to recharge the car’s battery.

Most Families Have Two Cars

A case can be made for a family with two cars to have one all electric car and the other a hybrid or a regular gasoline car. The gasoline car would be used for long trips, while the all electric car would be used for all of the short city trips which they are more than adequate for in terms of distance that can be supported by the batteries. Short trips around the city are notoriously bad for gas mileage with all of the stops and starts. A gasoline car that gets 30 miles to the gallon on the highway would be lucky to get 20 miles to the gallon in the city. This is a perfect situation for the all electric car and provides a maximum savings opportunity.

What are the Factors to Consider re Electric Cars

When it comes to rating cars, the consumer will consider the following items as part of their comparison of any car really. These factors are centered around practical issues which are important to their lifestyle and their personal economics.

  • Driving range on a charge,
  • Passenger carrying capacity,
  • Price, and
  • Availability

More Details

Driving range on a charge –  this has to be one of the most important factors. Will it take you where you want to go on a daily basis  without needing a recharge. It must last until the end of the day when you make it home. If it will not, what is the backup plan. Hybrids have gasoline engines to take over when the batteries run low. However all electrics must be recharged before they go further when the battery runs down.

Passenger carrying capacity – how many people will it carry and will you be able to handle the groceries, the kids and all of the sports equipment that many families have to deal with. This is a very personal life style item and one to be considered carefully.

Price – right now most hybrids and electric vehicles are carrying a hefty price tag. This is partly due to development cost recovery and partly due to the cost of the battery. These prices are sometimes subsidized by local governments in an effort to help this fledgling industry move along. However in most cases you are still going to pay a premiums for these cars. Will you save enough to provide you with a short of enough payback to cover the extra cost?

Availability – finally availability is improving. However they are not available in all markets. That means that mechanics etc are also not trained and available to support these cars. Check this issue out carefully before you make a purchase. You may even want to inquire how many mechanics they have trained. “How long they have been working on these types of cars before you make your purchase.

Tips for Saving Energy

Computers and Office Equipment

Shut your computer down when not in use to save electricity and reduce wear on your system.

Electronic devices left plugged in, even when turned off, still draw power. That’s called phantom power or standby power, and it’s costing you money. Plug the following electronics into a power bar with a timer or auto-shut off and make sure they are off during periods of inactivity. For example: a television, home theater system, computer, monitor, printer, scanner, rechargeable devices (MP3 players, cell phones, battery chargers etc.), and game console al consume power when plugged in, even when they are turned off. By reducing this unnecessary power use, you could help save up to 15% of your electricity use and also prolong the life of your systems as well, since all electronics degrade over time if they are constantly in use.

When replacing your computer, look for an ENERGY STAR qualified model. Laptops typically will  use less energy than desktop models.

A screen-saver doesn’t save energy.
Make sure any computer you purchase has an automatic power-down function that will automatically switch the monitor into sleep mode (preferably a deep sleep mode) after a set period of inactivity. (A feature mandatory to bear the ENERGY STAR symbol). Applying a screen saver just turns the scree to black, however all functions are still turned on.

Tips for Saving Energy at the Office

Here are some more tips for saving energy at the office. Not surprisingly, the tips that apply at home also apply at the office as well.  As an owner you can reap the benefits by reducing your operating expenses. For employees it is about doing the right thing and helping your company stay profitable which means jobs are preserved. Something we all care very much about in these times of volatile economies.

  • Be sure to always turn the equipment and lights off after hours.
  • Unplug coffeemakers, toasters and microwaves before shutting the office down at the end of the day, weekends or holidays.
  • Take advantage of the sun. Open shades and blinds during daylight hours. Let the sun heat and light your space naturally; shade it when it’s hot. In the winter, close your blinds and drapes in the evening.
    Whenever possible, choose ENERGY STAR qualified products.
  • Take the time to set the energy-saving features on all of your office equipment to put them into sleep mode when not in use.
  • Dress comfortably for the weather. Adjust your layers before adjusting the thermostat.
  • Use revolving doors to access entrances. It keeps cool/hot air inside.
  • Keep entrance doors closed.
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator.

Save Energy This Spring

Save Energy This SpringEvery day is a day to save energy, however on this post we will spend a little time discussing how to save energy this spring. The picture shows that a regular light bulb will consume more energy than a small computer monitor. It is so easy to change this situation. Convert  from incandescent light bulbs to fluorescent bulbs or the new LED bulbs. We have written articles on both of these on our website and calculated the cost savings for each. Take a look at these posts if you are interested.

Depending on how you program your thermostat, you could save up to 10% on your year-round heating and cooling costs. For consumers in the northern USA and in Canada, heating costs are the predominant energy expense. Set your thermostat a few degrees lower in the winter to save heating fuel. As well as electricity that is not being used to drive fans and keep the home warm. In the summer time, especially in the southern US, air conditioning is a huge cost to many people. Closing your window shades and setting the thermostat a few degrees warmer can also save a great deal of electricity.

Save Energy This Spring

Get Rid of your old Fridge and Freezer

At various times during the year, power companies will pay for a 3rd party company to pick up old freezers and fridges for free. They will recycle them. You reduce you electricity further, especially if this fridge or freezer is not being replaced. New appliances are much more energy efficient. They will have more features as well. Get rid of that 20 year old or older freezer and save energy. If you only use it during part of the year for example in the fall, then unplug it. Clean it out and leave the lid open to air it out when you are not using the appliance. At least you can save some energy during part of the year.

Take advantage of Coupons

Coupons with values ranging from $1 to $10 are available for a limited time to replace existing incandescent bulbs with CFL bulbs. Also energy-efficient fixtures, timers, dimmer switches, indoor motion sensors, power bars and even clothesline. These coupons are available not only in the spring but pretty much all year round. They can save consumers a great deal of money not only in the purchase of these lights. But also in the daily use of electricity that will be reduced. These coupons are usually sponsored by the local government. They trying to encourage people to convert to reduced energy-consuming devices. These coupons can make a huge difference in the amount of money you pay for fluorescent or LED bulbs.

Clean all of Your Furnace Filters

Your furnace has worked all winter long and now will take a short rest until the time comes to start cooling the house. Replace the filter to maximize air flow through the furnace. Also clean any debris that may have collected around the outdoor unit of the AC unit. Sometimes leaves and twigs collect around these units which can lower the efficiency. You should have your furnace inspected at least once per year to make sure that it is operating at peak efficiency.

Time of Day Energy Use

In some locations across Canada and the USA, electricity companies have started charging for electricity based on the time of day the electricity is used. The higher rates are during the day time and the lower rates are in the evenings and at night usually after 7pm. Any time you can delay the use of electricity to the evening is going to save you money and energy use. For example running the dish washer after 7pm or drying clothes after 7pm will save a great deal of energy cost due to the lower rates that are charged in these time frames.

Check out you local utility to see what rates they charge during various times of the day to see if this is applied in your area and whether it would save you any money if you were to run these electrical devices after the 7pm time frame.

There are many more ways to reduce your energy use and we have only covered some of the major ones. Every home is different and consumer living standards and schedules are also different. If you take the time to evaluate all of your energy use and ask yourself if there are ways to reduce your electrical use, you may find many other ways to reduce your energy foot print and your cost much more. If you do let us know and leave a comment or two about the ways you have found to manage your energy use and reduce your overall cost.


Alternative Energy Businesses

This post is discussing the alternative energy businesses and follows our previous post about the renewable energy business  evolution. You might want to read that post first before reading this one since it is the 2nd post in a series we are doing about alternative energy businesses.

As we write this post, the big electrical companies are wondering if they are going to meet their targets of 30% power generation from renewable sources by 2020. The price of solar panels is coming down which makes home solar solutions more economical. Many government grants are either ending and not being renewed. Some are being reduced which also impacts the solar panel demand. Finally the environmentalists are getting into the act. They are delaying or in some cases stopping the construction of solar farms and even wind farms.

Our last post discussed how the industry was in it’s infancy and had many more evolutionary steps to take before it became mature. But what is the average homeowner supposed to do? should they invest in a small solar panel farm on the roof of their house? Should the investor invest in one of these solar companies and hope to reap millions as the business and the industry matures? These are just some of the very difficult questions. One company we talked to indicated that in California, with the weather they get, they can pretty much guarantee a 4 year payback. In addition they establish a reserve fund that pays for any maintenance that is needed on the units installed on your roof.

Investing in Alternative Energy Businesses

There are also thousands of small businesses that have invested in training and materials. They have done this to get into the business of installing and maintaining solar systems for consumers. Also for small business people who want to generate their own power.

This is a tough business which is impacted by some of the issues we have just mentioned. But also the ongoing competitive oil industry. Generally speaking the higher the price of oil goes, the better it is for the solar and wind farm industry. If oil peaks and then falls again, this will take much of the steam out of the push to become independent of the Mideast oil as a country.

Watch Every Dollar

Having worked in an unrelated business start-up, the advice that can be provided is that you need to watch every dollar. Only spend it when you are sure that there is going to be decent ROI associated with the investment.

This statement applies to everything including manpower, training, tools, vehicles and office space. With the industry in such turmoil, you need to make sure you have the cash flow to withstand any upticks.

With unemployment so high, this is not the time to pay high salaries. However you do want to have great staff. A combination of salary and bonus based on how well the company does is one way of tying the business results to keeping good people.

Consumers Beware of Long Term Alternative Energy Deals

Just the fact that this business is in its infancy should tell you that there will be lots of change. Especially over the next 10 years let alone 20 years. 20 years is the contract term of some agreements. The technology will change and improve immensely. The price of equipment will certainly fall as the technology is mass produced.

The only way to protect yourself whether you are a consumer or a small business is to invest very carefully. Look for solid ROI’s and short-term payback on your investment of 5 years or even less. Some people would suggest that even 5 years is too long in this volatile market.

We will be writing more on this subject, so please stay tuned for more posts on this subject and others.

For more thoughts about conserving energy and reducing your energy foot print, click here.

The Green Trend : Not so New

We like to include humorous posts that are related to the initiatives of going green, alternative energy and reducing your energy foot print every once and awhile . It points out that our green trend that everyone talks about is something that is dealing with a recent trend that only started in the last 30 years were we tend to throw everything out and not reuse stuff. Read on, you will enjoy it.

This is one that we read not too long ago that we thought our readers might enjoy:


Green Trend

In the line at the store, the cashier told an older woman that she should bring her own grocery bags because plastic bags weren’t good for the environment.

The woman apologized to him and explained,“We didn’t have the green thing back in my day.”

The clerk responded, “That’s our problem today…….

Your generation did not care enough to save our environment.”

He was right — our generation didn’t have the green thing.

Back then, we returned milk bottles, soda bottles and beer bottles to the store. The store sent them back to the plant to be washed and sterilized and refilled, so it could use the same bottles over and over. So they really were recycled. 

But we didn’t have the green thing back in our day.

We walked up stairs, because we didn’t have an escalator in every store and office building.

We walked to the grocery store and didn’t climb into a 300-horsepower machine every time we had to go two blocks.

But he was right. We didn’t have the green thing in our day.

Back then, we washed the baby’s diapers because we didn’t have the throw-away kind. We dried clothes on a line, not in an energy gobbling machine burning up 220 volts — wind and solar power really did dry the clothes. Kids got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters, not always brand-new clothing.

But that clerk is right; we didn’t have the green thing back in our day.

Back then, we had one TV, or radio, in the house — not a TV in every room. And the TV had a small screen the size of a handkerchief (remember them?), not a screen the size of the state of Montana .

In the kitchen, we blended and stirred by hand because we didn’t have electric machines to do everything for us.

When we packaged a fragile item to send in the mail, we used a wadded up old newspaper to cushion it, not Styrofoam or plastic bubble wrap.

Back then, we didn’t fire up an engine and burn gasoline just to cut the lawn. We used a push mower that ran on human power. We exercised by working so we didn’t need to go to a health club to run on treadmills that operate on electricity.

But he’s right; we didn’t have the green thing back then.

We drank from a fountain when we were thirsty. Instead of using a cup or a plastic bottle every time we had a drink of water.

We refilled writing pens with ink instead of buying a new pen, and we replaced the razor blades in a razor instead of throwing away the whole razor just because the blade got dull.

But we didn’t have the green thing back then.

Back then, people took the streetcar or a bus and kids rode their bikes to school or walked instead of turning their moms into a 24-hour taxi service.

We had one electrical outlet in a room, not an entire bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances. And we didn’t need a computerized gadget to receive a signal beamed from satellites 2,000 miles out in space in order to find the nearest pizza joint.

But isn’t it sad the current generation laments how wasteful we old folks were just because we didn’t have the green thing back then?

I grew up with patches on my knees and elbows so that we could continue wearing clothes instead of throwing them out. Now people tear the knees so that they can look cool. If there is a rip somewhere else, they throw them out. We have too much money and do not embrace the reuse approach to save our environment.

For more serious thoughts about conserving energy and reducing your energy foot print, click here.


Flashlights Without Batteries

We could not resist this subject. Flashlights without batteries is one of those solutions that is gradually becoming more popular over time. While flashlight without batteriesmany people have flashlights in their homes for emergency use and working under the sink or other jobs, how many times have you gone to use your flashlight and found that the batteries were discharged. Maybe the kids stole them for use on one of their games!

Perhaps you forgot to charge the battery after the last time it was used assuming they are rechargeable. Then there is the problem of disposing of batteries. Unfortunately many people just toss them in the garbage and they end up in landfill polluting our lakes and streams. Flashlights without batteries are the answer for those emergency situations that need a working flashlight 100% of the time.

Either way it can be quite frustrating to need a working flashlight when the power goes out. Especially not able to find one that works. This is why these new flashlights come with a crank. They can be charged at a moments notice and are becoming more popular.

There have been so many times when I have tried to use our flashlight when it did not work.  I just got fed up with it. Eventually I broke down, spent the $15 needed to buy one of these new battery less flashlights. We never buy batteries any longer.

The flashlight that I have has a small crank. Which I wind up when I need it. A switch to turn it on and three LED lights that shine quite a bright light on whatever I need illuminated. I keep one of these in the car all of the time. Also one in the house and never worry about batteries!

Advantages of Flashlights without Batteries

There is so much going for this solution that I wonder why more people do not consider making this purchase. First of all , no more batteries to buy. Secondly no more batteries to throw out and pollute the planet. No more manufacturing of batteries which also pollutes the planet. Finally, no more dead batteries when you really need a flashlight.

Some folks will make the comment that the manufacture of these new flashlights also pollute the planet. Yes this is true. However at least you are reducing the amount of pollution by no longer relying on throw away batteries.

The convenience cannot really be measured until you face the situation flashlight without batterieswhen you need to have a flashlight and there is no working model to be had.

There are disadvantages of using this type of flashlight and we will list them next.


Disadvantage of Using Flashlights without Batteries

The particular model that I have has a crank which must be wound to charge the internal capacitor. As the capacitor discharges, the lights progressively get dimmer until I rewind the crank again. Typically I need to wind the crank about every minute of use which becomes an irritation after a while if I need the light for a long time. This can be a bit frustrating if you are trying to work at the same time and need both hands to perform whatever it is that you are doing.

Larger capacitors or flashlights with rechargeable batteries provide better results so this is something I would look for if I need to purchase another one. I have seen flashlights were winding for a minute charges the capacitor enough for it to last a full 20 minutes.

Another disadvantage is when you are charging the capacitor by winding the crank, there is a fair bit of noise generated which is fine in 99% of any situation I will ever find myself in, however for those people looking for silence, this could be an issue for some.

Lately I have found it harder to find these kind of flashlights. Not sure if people are not buying them or if the stores cannot make enough money from them. It is too bad. we used and throw out far too many batteries for the toys we buy.

Comments are welcome.  Always looking for ways to generate alternative energy without using the electrical grid or polluting the planet even more. for more posts about finding new energy sources, click here.


Alternative Energy for Consumers

Alternative Energy for ConsumersWe are starting a new blog specifically focused on alternative energy for consumers. Some people refer to this as renewable energy. Which ever term is used it really does not matter. Since what we are focused on is real ways that the consumer can embrace renewable or alternative energy. They may be able to reduce their overall cost of using energy around their homes and in their everyday life. We also will be discussing solutions for consumers that will help them save energy as well.  It helps them spend a lot less money paying for energy for heating, cooling, their car etc.

Why are We Developing an Alternative Energy for Consumers Blog

One of the reasons that I am writing this blog is that the cost of energy is going up significantly. Anything I can do to reduce my energy foot print means  I can save money and keep it in my pocket vs. placing my hard earned money in some corporation.  Some may view this is a particularly selfish view, however that is what drives the average consumer.

They sympathize with save the planet kinds of issues. But what really gets their attention is money in their pockets. Note, that by saving or reducing my energy foot print not only reduces my cost , but it also helps reduce the impact on the environment.

There is a lot of information out there about commercial systems. But not so much that is specifically directed at consumers so we thought we would do some research and see what we could come up with. The commercial systems such as wind farms, solar farms, wave action and even hydro electric plants are fantastic.

We encourage these new developments to lessen our impact on the environment long term ( coal, oil and nuclear generating plants ) and generate electricity from these alternate energy sources. For those readers who may not be aware, hydro electric plants are plants that generate electricity using water that drives turbines that in turn produce electricity.

What Energy Savings Will We Focus On

Our focus is going to be on things that the consumer can do that are real as well as economical. They will include some of the same things such as solar, wind and anything else that we come across. We invite anyone reading this blog to leave us a comment on the blog to point us to other energy sources or ideas that we should take a look at.

There has been lots of information about conserving energy, but not nearly as much about renewable energy sources. Conserving energy is sometimes more expensive than it needs to be. Just look a the fluorescent lights that are replacing incandescent light bulbs as an example.

There is no need to price them as high as they are. If these new bulbs were priced lower and more people would turn to use them and reduce the energy used as well. In our opinion pricing needs to be adjusted to encourage consumers more to reduce their energy use.

Please don’t misinterpret this comment, it is an excellent idea to conserve energy and reduce your energy footprint, we just think that we should also be focusing on generating electricity as well!

Our 1st Post!

This is our first post about renewable energy and we are probably rambling a bit. Future posts will begin to discuss alternative energy sources for consumers, energy saving ideas,  and we will try to come up with one post every second week.

It is important to us that our readers provide comments, especially about products that may be available on the market. We are going to be doing lots of research, however you can help with the job by pointing us to various products that may be available on the market. Many stores are beginning to sell solar panels for use in RV’s and even in homes. However there is much more that can be considered.

Send us your suggestions about alternate energy sources for consumers via the comment field at the end of the post. We read them all and will use the constructive comments. Thanks and here’s to fun blogging! For more alternative energy posts, click here.


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