Archive for the ‘energy efficiency’ Category

most fuel efficient vehicles for 2009

October 24, 2008

Ready to make an upgrade to a fuel-efficient vehicle? Jalopnik‘s got a list of the most efficient cars out there, broken out by best city and highway mileage, and by category. No surprise, Prius still tops the list for both city and highway MPG.

Make Model: City or Highway

By City

1.) Toyota Prius: 48
2.) Honda Civic Hybrid: 40
3.) Nissan Altima Hybrid: 35
4.) Ford Escape/Mariner Hybrid 2WD: 34
5.) Smart Fortwo: 33
Toyota Camry Hybrid: 33
7.) Volkswagen Jetta/SportWagen Diesel: 30
8.) Toyota Yaris: 29
9.) Mini Cooper: 28
Honda FIt: 28

By Highway

1.) Toyota Prius: 45
Honda Civic Hybrid: 45
3.) Volkswagen Jetta/SportWagen Diesel: 41
Smart Fortwo: 41
5.) Chevy Cobalt/Pontiac G5 XFE: 37
Mini Cooper: 37
7.) Toyota Yaris: 36
Honda Civic/Civic CNG: 36
9.) Chevy Cobalt/Pontiac G5: 35
Toyota Corolla/Honda Fit: 35
Ford Focus: 35

The Most Fuel Efficient Cars By Category

Two-Seater Cars
Smart ForTwo: 33/41

Minicompact Cars
Mini Cooper: 28/37

Compact Cars
Honda Civic Hybrid: 40/45

Midsize Cars
Toyota Prius Hybrid: 48/45

Small Station Wagons
Volkswagen Jetta SportWagen Diesel: 30/41

Midsize Station Wagons
Kia Rondo: 20/27

Small Pickup Trucks
Ford Ranger 2WD: 21/26

Standard Pickup Trucks
Chevrolet C15 Silverado/GMC Sierra Hybrid: 21/22

Cargo Vans
Chevrolet/GMC G1500: 15/20

Minivans
Mazda Mazda5: 22/28
(pictured, right)

Sport Utility Vehicles
Ford Escape/Mercury Mariner/Mazda Tribute Hybrid 2WD: 34/31

[FuelEconomy.gov via Jalopnik]

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energy (and money) saving tips for winter

October 23, 2008

Having a drafty home is (pardon the cliché) like throwing money out of the window. And saving energy is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint.

Union of Concerned Scientists offered up these helpful tips for winterizing on a budget. I’ve added a few of my own energy saving tips below as well.

While there are many ways in which you can reduce your home’s energy use, these five projects can deliver the quickest payback on your purchase:

  • Insulate your attic. It is relatively easy, yet very cost-effective, to add insulation to your attic. The Department of Energy (DOE) suggests a minimum attic insulation level of R-38 (R-value is a measure of resistance to heat flow), equivalent to 12 to 15 inches of insulation. The DOE provides a map on its website (see the Related Resources below) that lists recommended insulation levels for U.S. climates.
  • Seal air leaks. Weather stripping, door sweeps, window shrink wrap, and other materials can be purchased at your local hardware store for $50 or less, and can save you as much as 10 percent in energy costs. If you have an old fireplace, consider installing glass doors (which can cost a couple hundred dollars or more) to help prevent heat from escaping out the chimney when not in use.
  • Seal heating ducts. Leaky ducts from forced-air or heat pump systems can allow up to 20 percent of the warm air to escape. While most ductwork is hidden in walls and floors, you can seal duct leaks on your own in attics, basements, or garages, and in areas where ducts meet floor or wall vents. The DOE estimates that sealing leaky ducts can save you up to $140 annually.
  • Install a programmable thermostat. An Energy Star-qualified programmable thermostat can cost as little as $30 but save you $100 or more each year on heating costs by automatically turning the heat down when you are asleep or away (so you don’t have to remember to do it yourself).
  • Upgrade your furnace. If your heating system is more than 10 years old, consider replacing it with an Energy Star-rated model to cut your energy costs by up to 30 percent. Before you buy, make your home as efficient as possible first (following the tips above) so you can purchase the smallest system to fit your heating needs.

Homeowners can save even more money on energy efficiency improvements through tax breaks and other incentives offered by your utility or state government. And as part of the federal government’s recent economic bailout legislation, certain home improvements made in 2009 will be eligible for a tax credit (see the Related Resources).

Related Resources

A few more energy saving tips:

  • Let the sun shine in! If you’re lucky enough to get direct sunlight, keep your drapes open during the day to let the sun’s rays add a little heat. If your windows are drafty, close the drapes at night to keep the cold air out
  • If you have a window air conditioner, take it out for the season
  • When you bake or use the oven, keep it open after your done (and it’s turned off, of course!) to add a little extra warmth to your home
  • Wash your hands in cold water — don’t worry, you’ll kill as much germs as with warm water
  • Also, wash your laundry in cold water. This can also extend the life of your garments
  • Keep lights off during the day and only use lights in the room you’re in at night. And switch from incandescents to
  • CFLs!
  • If you have a programmable thermostat, have it set to 55°F when you’re not home and at night when you’re sleeping, and raise the temperature to 68°F for when you’re at home and awake
  • If you have control over the hot water heater in your home (unlike many apartment dwellers!) set it to 120°F. According to the US DOE, for each 10ºF reduction in water temperature, you can save between 3%–5% in energy costs
  • Layer! Keep the thermostat low and wear warmer clothes


Take it from Jimmy, wear a sweater!

  • Unplug the energy vampires, those appliances you only occasionally use like the toaster, microwave oven, DVD player
  • Use power strips where multiple appliances are used (think TV, DVD player, stereo, etc.); switch the power strip to off when you leave the house
  • Power down your computer when not in use

Get yourself a thermostat

millions of good things

October 22, 2008


Bette Midler, the founder of the New York Restoration Project, planting a Carolina Silverbell tree.
(Image: Suzanne DeChillo/The New York Times)


If we are going to beat global warming, we are going to have to weatherize millions of buildings, install millions of solar panels, manufacture millions of wind-turbine parts, plant and care for millions of trees, build millions of plug-in hybrid vehicles, and construct thousands of solar farms, wind farms, and wave farms. That will require thousands of contracts and millions of jobs — producing billions of dollars of economic stimulus.

~Van Jones
The Green Collar Economy

It’s only the beginning…

Million Solar Roofs [Cali.]
The plan will provide 3,000 megawatts of additional clean energy and reduce the output of greenhouse gasses by 3 million tons which is like taking one million cars off the road.
~Arnold Schwarzenegger

Million Trees [NYC]
Trees help clean our air, and reduce the pollutants that trigger asthma attacks and exacerbate other respiratory diseases. They cool our streets, sidewalks, and homes on hot summer days. Trees increase property value, and encourage neighborhood revitalization. And trees make our City an even more beautiful and comfortable place to live, work, and visit.

Million Building Retrofits [S. Bronx… coming soon]
Drafty buildings create broke, chilly people — and an overheated planet.
~Van Jones

meet the new macs

October 16, 2008

Apple makes some advancements in sustainability with their new MacBook and MacBook Pro. Both MacBooks achieve EPEAT Gold status, which means that they met all of the 23 required criteria and at least 75 percent of the optional criteria under their gold certification standards.

Below, some of the eco-friendly features of the new laptops.


MacBook and MacBook Pro 15″

  • Meet EPEAT Gold status
  • Arsenic free
  • Brominated fire retardant (BFR) free
  • Mercury free
  • PVC free
  • Recyclable
  • Energy efficient LED-backlit display
  • Meet Energy Star 4.0 requirements
  • Ship in a a 37% smaller packaging

Get all of the tech specs at Gizmodo.

best bulb yet?

August 14, 2008

Sure CFLs save loads of energy, but you have to admit, the light they cast is seriously drab, giving everyone and everything in their path a death-like pallor. LEDs are constantly improving, but they’re not really affordable. Thankfully, there’s a new light bulb that’s ultra-efficient, cost-effective, and warmly glowing on the horizon.

Electron-stimulated Luminescence
(ESL, not to be confused with English as a second language)
It looks like an old incandescent bulb, but you won’t find a filament inside it. The ESL, brand name Vu1, works by stimulating phosphor to make the surface of the bulb glow. And unlike CFLs, these bulbs don’t need mercury to work. The Vu1 is also made utilizing glass from existing materials, i.e., glass from regular light bulb manufacturers.

ESLs are as energy efficient as CFLs, but they provide superior light quality. The price will be comparable to dimmable CFLs at about $12 and they might be available as early as September. Check out the differences between light technologies, at right. [Source: Vu1 Corporation]

[Vu1 via CleanTechnica]

evening eco news

August 6, 2008

energy saving for summer

July 21, 2008

Stay cool in the summer swelter and save money with these simple ways to reduce energy consumption:

  • Close the blinds/curtains/shades to keep out the sun’s rays
  • Keep the windows closed during the day when the heat is most extreme
  • Avoid using the oven — opt for salads and other no-cook meals, use the microwave instead (it’s more efficient and produces less heat), or grill if you’ve got one!
  • Do laundry at night when it’s cooler; wait until you have a full load, use cold water to wash, and hang to dry if you can
  • Run the dishwasher at night and skip the heat dry cycle
  • Take cool showers — using less hot water saves energy
  • Wash your hands in cold water (see above) — don’t worry, you’ll kill as much germs as with warm water
  • Keep lights off during the day and only use lights in the room you’re in at night
  • Use the A/C only in the evening when you’re home, or use fans instead
  • If you have central air, have it set to turn off when you’re not home and raise the temperature to 78 degrees when you are
  • Make sure your home is insulated properly
  • Unplug the energy vampires, those appliances you only occasionally use like the toaster, microwave oven, DVD player
  • Use power strips where multiple appliances are used (think TV, DVD player, stereo, etc.); switch the power strip to off when you leave the house
  • Power down your computer when not in use

the sound of sleep

July 6, 2008

For years, my boyfriend used an air conditioner to drown out the noises of the city, just to get (and stay) asleep. It wasn’t something I was accustomed to, but I learned to get used to it. But then I started thinking about how much energy sucking that air conditioner did, 365 days a year. We tried one of those noise machines with the varying sounds: rainforest, jungle, waterfall, plain old white noise. The problem with those things is that they’re a recorded loop of sound. Whoooosh Whoooosh (hic) Whooosh. You can hear the slight skip where the loop starts again. Focusing on that hiccup is not conducive to a sound night’s sleep.

Finally we found a sound machine that works. The Marpac SleepMate 980A Electro-Mechanical Sound Conditioner (quite a mouthful, but if you want to experience one, just click the link). It uses a small internal fan to make a whooshing sound. So now we’re using a lot less energy and sleeping like babies. Whoooosh Whoooosh zzzzzzZZZZZZZZ

before i go

June 12, 2008


No one will be home to watch Letterman or to update the Netflix queue. There won’t be anyone looking for a late night snack in the fridge or listening to iTunes on the stereo. The only life stirring (very slowly) will be the plants, unless our little mouse friend returns in our absence.

So there are a few things we need to do before we leave for vacation:

  • Hold the mail
  • Stop the weekend paper
  • Unplug everything (powerstrips make this easier, at least until the whole house switch is available)
  • Eat all the perishables in the fridge (this can require careful planning)
  • Water the plants
  • Close the windows
  • Turn down the thermostat (in winter), turn off the A/C (in summer)
  • Give the keys to a responsible friend

Did I miss anything?

airing the dirty laundry

June 10, 2008

One of the easiest ways to move toward a more eco-friendly lifestyle is by changing the way you do laundry. And one of the first things I did was make the switch to biodegradable, petroleum-free laundry detergent, like Seventh Generation.

Here are some other low-impact laundry tactics:

  • Washing clothes in cold water not only saves energy (in heating the water), it helps preserve the colors and fabrics over time
  • Handwashing with a non-toxic detergent is also a great alternative for your delicates like cashmere and wool
  • Replacing an old washer and/or dryer also saves energy. Be sure to get one with an Energy Star rating

Coming soon to a laundromat near you?
Check out this new washing machine from the UK that uses only 1 cup of water for a load of wash. Though it does require all these little plastic chips to do the cleaning (good for about 100 washes). What would you do with them when they need replacing? Got any ideas?