Going Green

now browsing by category

 

Conserving Energy: Passive Homes

Conserving energy is no easy task. It’s a constant battle to stay on top of the ongoing battle to be energy efficient. Turning off the lights in empty rooms, turning down the heater, swapping older light bulbs for more efficient bulbs; these changes just aren’t enough anymore. Some homeowners are making the switch to passive or net zero homes.

Passive Home: a building that cuts its energy consumption by up to 90 percent

Net Zero Home: a building that produces as much energy into the power grid as it takes in through the use of solar energy or the like.

These homes are generally some of the most unique home designs as they utilize their surroundings in their effort to be energy efficient. In order to qualify as a passive or net zero home, they must meet strict standards. Many energy efficient features go into these homes such as triple glazed windows, but the most important of them all, is insulation. With the investment into extra layers of insulation, both for the inside of the house and for covering concrete exposures outside, the escape of any heat or variations of temperature is greatly reduced and the home is better regulated. These homes make full use of sunlight and secondary heat, and the energy from appliances, i.e. the oven and the dryer.

Passive and Net Zero homes are slowly growing in popularity throughout Europe, specifically in Germany and Scandinavia. Currently there are about 30,000 Passive and Net Zero certified buildings worldwide, with only about 130 of those structures located here in the U.S. but the numbers are growing each year. On average, the cost to build or renovate a home to be passive or net zero, is about 5-10% more upfront, but with a positive return over time.

Ready to join this growing trend? The professional electricians at EcoElectric would be happy to help with a home electrical evaluation or the installation of solar panels and other energy saving features.

Save Energy and Save Money

All light bulbs have been changed to energy efficient bulbs, the thermostat is turned down, and water is used wisely, or cold water is used instead. All of these changes have been done in hopes of lowering the energy bill, but sadly the monthly bill is still too high. Don’t panic! There may be more you can do to save money on the utility bills. Completing an energy audit on your home will allow homeowners to see where and when the most energy is being used. Energy audits can also provide information that shows you where energy is lost and where there is the potential for energy to be saved. Energy audits can be done through the DIY route, but it’s more advisable to have a professional complete the audit. A professional will be able to inform homeowners of where the energy leak is happening and how it can be fixed.

Besides a home energy audit often saves homeowners money. Issues with electrical work can also be identified. Often energy and money are drained because of electrical problems. When a home energy audit is done by a professional, a home gets a checkup, just like a doctor’s visit. A professional auditor will be able to detect leaks, check out the insulation, furnace and ductwork, and can use an infrared camera to do a blower door test. Professionals will also look over past utility bills to examine usage amounts and financial costs.

Before the audit is started, homeowners should make a list of current problems they have already identified and copies of older utility bills should be made available for the auditor. During the audit the auditor will ask many questions to help find simple ways to reduce energy use. Questions can include; daily usage routines, room usage, and the number of residents.

Finding an energy auditor is easy! Most power companies can point customers in the correct direction to find one. Simple home energy audits can be done by yourself as well. EcoElectric specializes in helping residents of Boise and the rest of the Treasure Valley save money on their electric bill by providing green energy options. With any questions on how to save money on your electrical bill, contact EcoElectric today! Our staff specializes in residential and commercial electrical work as well as green services. Our staff wants to save you some green by going green!

How Lighting Affects Health

Lighting doesn’t just affect the way a room looks and feels. It also affects people’s moods and happiness levels. Natural light affects many things including the immune system, circadian rhythms, sleep habits and more. This goes to show the type of lighting put in a home, can have a huge impact. Here’s how the different lights affect health:

Natural Light

Natural light is best for the body. It can help create Vitamin D and promote deeper, well-rested sleep. The more natural light people are exposed to, the better. Taking advantage of natural lighting is also good for the energy bill. By depending less on artificial light during the day, bodies and wallets alike will benefit.

Blue Light

This type of light is unnatural and can negatively affect the body. It messes up sleep patterns, as well as the production of Melatonin and Cortisol. This type of light is found in devices like cellphones, televisions, and digital clocks. Using these in the bedroom before bed can create poor sleep quality.

CFLs

There have been more studies put out recently that CFLs are very bad for people’s health. They also have a harmful effect on skin.

Warm Lights

For the home, warm lighting that emits red, orange and yellow are the best options. These colors mimic the color of fire, which is what people used to function outdoors after dark. By using these lights, when it gets dark enough to turn them on, they will signal that it’s time to wind down before bed.

For help finding the best lighting options for the home, office, or business give Eco Electric a call. They can create a light configuration for any space and also offer eco-friendly products.

How the U.S. is Powered

The United States gains its electricity from many different sources. These sources include coal, natural gas, nuclear, hydro, wind, solar, and oil. Although the country is trying to embrace clean energy, there’s still more progress to be made.

Coal

Currently, 511 coal-powered electric plants generate 34 percent of the U.S.’s electricity. It remains the leading fuel for electricity. However, it has become much less prevalent than it was in the late 1980’s.

Natural Gas

Just below coal is natural gas. With 1,740 natural gas-powered electric plants, it generates 30 percent of the energy. Over the past decade, more natural gas supplies have been found from shale deposits.

Nuclear

Twenty percent of the nation’s electricity has been generated by 63 nuclear plants. These plants are more common in the East and there are five new plants under construction. Twenty states have no nuclear electricity generation.

Hydroelectric

When it comes to hydroelectric power, Washington, Oregon, and Idaho are in the lead. It’s a huge power source for the Pacific Northwest, but also contributes seven percent of the electricity nationally with 1,436 plants.

Wind

Wind is the fastest-growing power source in the U.S. There are 843 wind-powered electric plants generating five percent of the nation’s electricity. It’s especially popular in the Great Plains where there is a reliable wind source.

Solar

Solar power works best in places that have continuous sunshine. That’s why many of the southwestern states rely on solar power, while 39 states have no solar generating plants. Even with 772 solar-powered electric plants in the U.S., solar power makes up only one percent of the nation’s electricity usage.

Oil

Oil’s popularity as a source for electricity has died out. With 1,098 oil-powered plants, it generates only one percent of the U.S.’s electricity.

The new Clean Power Plan’s goal is to cut carbon pollution, in turn reducing climate change. With more of the nation’s energy coming from renewable energy sources, the goal could be achievable. To learn more about conserving energy around the house and going green, visit Eco Electric’s website.

Utilizing Natural Lighting

One way businesses can cut their energy costs is by utilizing natural lighting in their building. Using natural light in place of artificial light in buildings can also prove beneficial for employees.

For a majority of buildings incorporating daylighting, their overall energy savings ranges from 15 to 40 percent. This can be a big motivating factor when opting for daylighting over artificial lighting. Cuttings costs can mean a higher profit for companies.

The other reason businesses decide to make the switch, is for their employees’ benefit. Many studies suggest natural light impacts general well-being, productivity and satisfaction. This doesn’t just impact office workers. Natural lighting is beneficial for students, clients and even retail customers as well.

Workers who are exposed to natural lighting, especially in the morning, tend to sleep better, be more active, and have an overall better quality of life. Light acts as a synchronizing agent in a person’s brain and body. It helps with internal biological rhythms, which is why people tend to be more alert and productive at work.

Try incorporating natural lighting instead of relying on artificial lighting and see the difference it can make. Visit Eco Electric’s webpage for more ideas on how to lower energy bills.

Reduce Energy Costs with Whole House Fans

Tired of high energy bills in the summer? Trying installing a whole house fan to combat the cost of constantly running the air conditioner. A whole house fan pulls air in from open windows and exhausts it through the attic and roof.
The whole house fan should provide 30 to 60 air changes per hour, depending on climate, and floor plan. Calculating the size of fan a house will need starts with the volume of the house measured in cubic feet. To calculate this, multiply the square footage of the area to be cooled by the height from floor to ceiling. Take the volume and multiply by 30-60 air changes per hours, then divide by 60.
It’s best to leave the installation to a professional electrician because of the wiring and possible addition of vents in the attic. They can also help take the measurements to make sure everything is the proper size.
Often, the duct work of the central heating and cooling can be altered to work with the whole house fan. This will create ventilation throughout the entire house. This can replace the need to put additional vents in the attic.
Eco Electric can help measure the area and find the right option for the home. Give them a call for more information about whole house fans and reducing the energy bill.

Wind Power and Water Conservation

Converting partially to wind power for energy needs could help the drought situation in the United States. If a third of the nation’s electricity came from wind power by 2050, it would save about 260 billion gallons of water a year.

It could also help save large amounts of money in climate-change related costs and health costs.  The extra wind power would decrease greenhouse gas emissions, saving $400 billion in climate change-related costs. Also, by eliminating smoke stacks and replacing them with wind turbines, it would cut $108 billion in pollution-related health care costs.

To reach the goal of 404 gigawatts generated in 48 states by their projected time of 2050, offshore wind power would need to expand. Currently, there is no offshore wind power, and to reach the goal, there would need to be 86 gigawatts generated by offshore wind power.

Not only would getting 35 percent of their energy from wind power help cut greenhouse gas emissions and save on electricity, it could help drought stricken regions. Alternative power sources have many other benefits besides being energy efficient.

Interested in going green at home or the office? Take a look at our tips for going green.

Solar Device Chargers

Worried about charging devices when away from an electrical outlet? Or wanting to lessen electrical usage while still charging laptops, cameras, phones and more? Invest in a solar charger. They have solar panels that convert energy from direct sunlight.

If the solar charger is just for small devices, it is best to choose one with an internal battery. The energy gets stored on the device, which means it can be used to charge devices even if it is cloudy. However, the internal battery might need replaced after a couple of years.

For those outdoor adventurers who spend a lot of time in the sun, there is a solar charger that plugs directly into a device. This type of solar charger is more reliable than the one with the internal battery, but only works when there is sunlight to draw energy from.

These lightweight, portable solar charging devices are great for outdoor adventure. Many people like to document their camping and hiking adventures with a camera or phone camera. It could be a problem if they get outside and realize their battery has died. That’s where these chargers come in handy.

Or homeowners who are looking to cut down on their energy use, for financial and environmental reasons, could use these to charge their electronics instead of plugging them into the wall socket. Especially during summer when energy consumption skyrockets from air conditioner use, this could be a good way to use a little less electricity.

How Solar Power is Saving Everyone Money

There are of couple main arguments for switching to solar power energy. Two of the most common are the environmental benefits, and the money savings. These arguments are very true, but there’s a new argument for switching to solar power. This new argument states that the rise in use of solar energy is making electricity cheaper for everyone. How is this possible?
This year alone solar power has seen tremendous growth. According to GTM research “in the first half of 2014, 53% of all new electricity generating capacity built in this country was solar”. Solar power installation also is expected to continue to rise through the rest of the year. With so many people making the switch to solar power what is happening to the electrical grid people are currently using?
A study in California showed that due to the increase of solar power usage, electricity prices were falling by 2.5% on the west coast. The increase in solar power usage isn’t the only reason electricity prices are falling, there’s more to it. But solar energy does play a huge part in the price decrease.
Use of solar power is making electricity costs cheaper because electricity from the sun displaces mid-day peaking electricity plants. The easiest way to explain it is solar installations in residential areas reduce the demand being place on the power grid. With the demand being lowered, prices are then lowered for everyone during these peak times.
As the use of solar power continues to grow the pressure on electrical grids all over the country will diminish. This effect will help save American’s more money. A rise in solar power is good for the economy as well. Installing solar energy alternatives is creating jobs and the IRS is offering tax breaks for those who help support the switch to solar energy.
Overall, solar energy benefits everyone and the environment too! If you’re ready to make the switch to solar energy call EcoElectric today! Our staff is knowledgeable and trained on solar energy or any other house hold electrical issue that may arise.

Green Electricity

While going green and becoming more eco-friendly is the current craze, many people aren’t informed of all the ways you can go green. This is why we offer going green tips! When thinking about going green people turn to many different alternative ways of living. Some of the most common are changing modes of transportation, and altering how they get electricity to power their homes.
Solar power is commonly thought of as the way to go when looking to change your energy source. Did you know there are other alternatives as well?
Simple changes can be made inside your home with the flip of a switch. We don’t mean just turning the power off, although that will save you a lot of money, but could also get a little tricky at times. Here are some additional money saving options:

Dimmer installations: by using a dimmer you don’t have to use 100% of the energy a light bulb can put out, especially in a room where you don’t need that much light.

Whole house fans: These work great during those summer nights when it cools down nicely. Whole house fans operate by taking in all the cool air from outside and bringing it inside your home, creating a pleasant cooling breeze throughout your home. Your house will cool down to a temperature that is close to outside, and you won’t have to run the air conditioner for nearly as long.

• Ceiling fans: While these have been around for a while, they are great at saving electricity. They circulate the air in a room and the constant movement of air helps make the room feel cooler.

LED Lighting Installation: The change is as simple as changing your light bulbs. LED light bulbs do cost more when you originally purchase them, but they pay for themselves in the long run. They last for years and use less energy to operate.

Going green isn’t as hard as some people think it is. You can become eco-friendly in your home tonight if you wish! There are many other ways to start saving money on your electric bill and Eco Electric can help you! Eco Electric provides installation services for whole house fans, ceiling fans, dimmers switches and LED lighting as well as many other electrical services.