Archive for the ‘Energy’ Category

To set things off on the proper foot – I do not like complexity when it is not necessary. I’ve noted many times that if energy were free and maintenance was not a consideration, the perfect light source is the tungsten halogen lamp. This technology delivers a very attractive white light, is very easy to control, provides optical focus, and is as simple as it can get. The low voltage versions of this technology are equally attractive, accepting that transformers were a horrible thing to tag onto an otherwise neat little light source. I have made hundreds of lights using halogen lamps, mainly 12V versions, starting back in 1985. It was my go-to light source. I still have boxes of transformers and sockets, acquired over years of making lights for myself and others.

Applying LEDs in efficient lighting designs is no more complex than use of any other source, just more productive.

Applying LEDs in efficient lighting designs is no more complex than use of any other source, just more productive, and attractive than CFL or other conventional “efficiency” improving sources.

That said, there is no escaping that energy is an issue, and maintenance is a pain. The cost of operating halogen technologies is simply impossible to bear. This is why we have HID sources with all their ugly liabilities, and the fluorescent lamp.  While I get HID technology as a giant super-power halogen device, it has always been a clumsy, heavy, messy engineering gadget that sets aside the art of lighting for raw lumen energy. Fluorescent lamps have are a source you are forced to live with, in an uninspired, just-get-lumens-in -the-box sort of way. There is very little to love about their scale, lack of focus-ability, ballast hardware, delicate tubes, and ghastly glow. I’ve specified millions of these lamps into existence, wishing every time there was a better way. I never made a single art light using fluorescent lamps, not because itsn’t possible, but because I never liked them enough to give them that part of my time.

The emergence of solid-state lighting, specifically LEDs, hit me in two ways. One, I get the small controllable source I had with 12V halogen. Second, I get the efficiency and raw lumen potential of fluorescent that made it indispensable. Because of this, the last time I made a light using halogen technology was in 2004, and that product was converted to an LED sources in 2006. For my own use, every halogen light I made from 1993 to 2004 still in use around the house, has been converted to LED. Every new fixture made since 2005 has incorporated an LED light source, without exception. I do not use retrofit lamps. I either tear down and rebuild products to utilize LEDs properly, or design them around LEDs in the first place. (more…)

So, you have this great new LED, generated a wonderful 130 lumens per watt. Life is good. Is this representative of real energy savings? What about Power Factor and its impact on the demand it places on the energy grid? What’s up with THD and what does it mean? Do either of these detract from the energy savings of new technologies using electronic power supplies? (more…)

The focus on CO2 emissions as a reason for immediate action is total and utter crap. This simple minded approach to energy concerns is like complaining about the color of water flooding into your basement because you left the sump pump unplugged. The whole issue is chicken little thinking, where pundits believe that marketing a crisis will somehow cause meaningful change. There is a crisis all right, our inane and stupid addiction to throwing energy away at every possible level. Focusing on CO2 as the evil emission that we must control is a smoke screen that detracts from the real issue – our lack of engagement in energy conservation across all levels.

Here is what we are going to get from our focus on CO2 emissions as the core issue:

- A renewed interest in nuclear power generation – with all the toxic waste issues that brings to the table
- Conversion of food into ethanol fuel – including depletion of fresh water resources already strained from our lack of restraint elsewhere, while increasing food prices for the poor
- Cap and trade policies that screw the consumer while allowing the richest corporations a free ride
- A proliferation of idiotic battery powered vehicles that produce and use toxic materials, as well as increase weight that creates lower safety, more tire and brake wear, etc..
- A proliferation of wind and solar power systems that demand natural resource consumption that is far worse than older sources
- The increased use of diesel power in transportation for its fuel efficiency, while ignoring its unresolved solid particulate issues
- Conversion laws that feed the corporations and investors in conversion technology, while killing small business interests
- Really stupid big science projects to dig holes in the ground to store CO2, nuclear waste, and other toxins we will generate to avoid CO2
- Increases in the costs of autos, as the EPA adds CO2 to its hit list, which is ridiculous, since most all other regulated pollutants are converted to CO2 as a matter of past regulation
- Poor countries simultaneously deforesting to create charcoal for local energy use, then using that land to depletion to grow sugar cane to make ethanol
- Richer corporations in control while we all get poorer

These are just a few of the more rediculous effects of the focus on CO2 as the source of evil. They are also all very expensive, and will have a dramatic inflationary impact on economies stressed under the load of consumer irresponsibility today. Further, all of these will make the rich richer than ever, and the poor poorer.

So, what will we get from all of this? Nothing, nadda. The real incovenient truth is that, if the science is indeed true, that human production of CO2 is indeed causing global warming – the amount of reduction, in the face of population growth and development of nations elsewhere in the world, mean that we will have a net zero effect on actual human contribution of CO2. In fact, CO2 generation from human activity will continue to increase, even if we put in place all of the  idiotic programs to capture, sequester, convert, and control CO2, right this minute. Yet. we all know that all of these conversions will take years to put in place. Forget Al Gore, he is a simple minded marketer and shill to the energy companies, who realize that change is an opportunity to make money. why let the Arabs get so phenominally wealthy, when we can freask everyone out over CO2, and make all that money here in the USA. Gore wants us all to focus on this CO2 ball, while he, and his elites, consume energy and blame the rest of us for the fate of the planet.

The solution to all of our real problems is to REDUCE CONSUMPTION DRAMATICALLY. There is no other solution. In fact, we all waste energy, and we waste a lot of it. It’s incidious. Every pound of garbage we toss in the bin must be hauled, and put in growing landfills, which take a lot of energy to build and fill. Every degree on our thermostat, every minute a TV operates with no one in the room, every time we mash the gas on our 400HP mini-van SUV battle star. We are a horribly wasteful population, and our lifestyle of waste has shaped our communities around even greater waste. We commute to work at distances designed to consume energy. We have homes that are big to impress neighbors, that sit heated and air conditioned while we work in other air conditioned and heated spaces that are larger than necessary. We like our incandescent lamps, we love our big horsepower cars, we love our big idiotic homes, we love our big yards and the rider mower it takes to keep them trimmed, and we love that snow blower and its 9HP of snow pushing capability. We eat out so much we have become bloated and fat, while driving to and from the resturaunts in idiotic cars large and inefficient.

We have power plants that generate hot water to make steam to turn turbines to make electricity, that is transmitted to plants and homes that take that electricity to heat water, while the power plant increases the temperature of waterways from dumping waste heat into estuaries they are built next to. We have generating facilities to feed our peak demand, that also burn energy away in large reisters off-peak in order to avoid throttling obsolete generating systems. Our electrical grid system absorbs and wastes energy from long transmission distances, bad line system design, poor infrastructure, and voltage conversions. We burn fuel to move coal, to burn to make heated water, to make turbines turn to make generators spin, to generate electricity, that we waste and waste and waste.

If we add all of the waste built into our lifestyle, infrastructure, technnologies, and addiction to all things electrical and fuel powered, the actual real work we attain is less than 10% of the actual energy potential extracted from the earth in all forms. This is the real issue, not CO2 at all. Reduce energy consumption and here’s what you get:

- Less need for ANY form of new generating or fuel source capacities
- Less impact in CO2, less environmental damage caused by energy creation and consumption
- Lighter cars that are safer in crashes as well as in end-of-life recovery
- Less wasteful homes that are cheaper to maintain
- A sustainable society with a future

We know we can do the following right this minute, with very little real pain:

- Save between 70% and 90% in energy used for lighting by reducing light levels, adding simple controls, and converting obsolete luminaires to high efficiency fluorescent and LEDs
- Save easily 50% of the energy used for auto transportation by moving into cars that are right sized for the use. Small 2 seat cars for daily commuting, with little motors that get 40MPG, rather than 18MPG SUVs
- Save 30% to 50% of the energy used for heating and air conditioning by simply installing programmable t-stats and turning the temps down in winter and up in summer, and sealing off unused rooms
- Save 70% of energy from waste management by throttling idiotic buying of crap we do not need, skipping the bags, and recycling
- Save 70% of transportation costs from purchase of products made here in the USA, not distant countries on the other side of the globe
- Save 30% to 50% of the fuel we use every week by planning trips, not driving when it is not necessary, and more careful driving behavior

These are just a few ideas that work. Now, put our backs into it, and we can all, as individuals, reduce energy demand by no less than 60%, without suffering in anu meaningful way. This more than doubles energy capacity in this country, with no new power plants, not one new nuke, not a single new coal fire facility, not one additional oil well.

Why can we not see this as the real issue? Why do we need to suffer this rediculous parade of pundits and politicians touting CO2 as our enemy? Simple, we are all dupes to the corporate marketers, who want their cake and eat it too. In fact they want all of the cake, and they want to get fat eating it. They want us to believe that we need more energy, not use less. The only time they want us to use less is during peak demand, which makes them build capacity. They’d prefer we use more off-peak, where they can make money. Politicians want to keep the energy lobbiests happy, so we get to pay. We will pay for CO2 abatement, sequestration, cap and trade… all because we refuse to do the one thing we all have real control over, consumption.

Take back our country from the politicians, and the Al Gore psuedo environmentalist dupes of the energy corporations, take back our future, by taking control of our individual energy use. Look around, cut waste, seal up the house, and learn how to enjoy life with a concious effort to cut consumption. If we all cut our energy use, and trim our waste, the CO2 issue simply resolves itself. For those of political inspiration: Fight any proposal to build another single power plant, support aggressive energy codes, educate your neighbors.

CO2 is a by-product of our bad behavior. Learn to conserve and CO2 emissions will be resolved, while we benefit from numeorus other benefits, like a cleaner planet, with water for low cost food, and less money handed to energy companies each month as a bonus!