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Biofuel or Electric?

As gas prices continue to jump up and down, alternative fuel sources continue to gain momentum. Biofuel and electric cars are starting to wage a war to see who will become more accepted in mainstream society.

Consumer Reports recently did a study by converting a 2002 Volkswagen Jetta TDI to operate on biodiesel (B5 and B100) and fryer grease to see how they matched up in price and convenience. Biodiesel is developed from vegetable or animal fats and is sold in blends with normal diesel.

During their study, Consumer Reports found B5, comprised of 5 percent biodiesel and 95 percent petroleum diesel, has the best fuel-economy results. It also out preformed the others in convenience, emissions, and overall performance. It runs in any diesel engine without modifications primarily due to its similarity to traditional fossil fuels.

Battery cars, on the other hand, also have some drawbacks. To create batteries for cars, mining is required to gather lithium or other minerals. However, they have the advantage of being able to be recharged at home. Also, public charging stations are becoming more and more prevalent, costing only   around $3,000 to build. That’s quite a bit cheaper than the $150,000 it can take to build an ethanol tank and pump.

As another convenience, biofuel cars only take a few minutes to refill and get back on the road. Electric cars however, often need hours to charge, unless high-powered charging stations are utilized.

Many electric cars have a limited range and some models aren’t yet freeway legal. Biodiesel and biofuels are already popping up at the pumps, and although the price per gallon is a bit pricey now, it is expected to go down in a few years. Most electric cars are also coming in at a rather hefty price, with some, like the Tesla Roadster, being over $100,000.

Only time will tell which alternative fuel source will take over, but each type is continuing to make advances in technology.

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.

Safety Tips During a Power Outage

“Oh no, who turned the lights off?” You might have been sitting in downtown Boise the night of August 10th and had this thought cross your mind, or maybe you were watching 2013 Super Bowl, which was more of you just watching a pitch black stadium. In either situation something caused the power to go out. There are a ton of different reasons why the power may go off. Some of common reasons are weather related. A large storm, lightning, ice, heavy rain, high temperatures, or natural disasters may be to blame. A power outage may also result from a manmade accident such as car wrecks or animals on the wires. Do you know what to do if you ever find yourself suddenly sitting in the dark?

Safety is priority in any situation like this. There are many different precautions one should take in many different areas of your home. One major thing you should be aware of is a power surge. When power is eventually restored it can return in surges which can damage electronic items. One way to avoid your electronics being ruined is by unplugging them once the power does go off. Also by unplugging items you can prevent a circuit overload in your home.

While candles have been the way of light when the power goes down for years, home owners should think about having multiple flashlights on hand, or other forms of light that are battery operated. While candles do provide light, they can also be very dangerous for you and your home. If a candle tips over a house fire could begin, resulting in a larger issue than just the power being out. Flashlights will not set your home on fire, and can provide better lighting for you and your family for a longer period of time.

A power outage can also affect your food and drinking supply. Generally, there is a four hour safe window for perishable food items. If your power is out less than four hours food stored in refrigerators and freezers will still be safe to eat. To ensure food that needs to be kept cold stays cold keep the freezer and fridge doors closed as much as possible. If the power is scheduled to be out longer than four hours, don’t worry your food isn’t a complete waste. For food from the fridge you can store it in a cooler filled with ice. A freezer will tend to keep food colder longer then the fridge, and can usually keep freezer foods safe for 24 hours depending on how full the freezer is. When the power is out sometimes a water filtration system can also stop working resulting in unsafe drinking water from sinks. As a precaution, drinking water from bottles or boiling water before use is advisable.

Finally, to help prevent any serious dangers during a power outage always keep a first aid safety kit in your home. This kit should contain flashlights with extra batteries, basic medical needs, blankets and purified water. If you ever have any electrical questions or needs contact EcoElectric of Idaho.

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.

Have a Sustainable 4th of July

In our opinion, the right way to celebrate the 4th of July is to spend the day outdoors with friends and family while celebrating our national independence. This may include barbecues, swimming, attending local fireworks, and even setting off some of your own legal fireworks. Because of this, the 4th of July doesn’t have a whole lot to do with electricity. It is the one day of the year when most of us would prefer to be outside. Despite the nature of the holiday as an outdoor affair, we at Eco Electric want to talk about sustainability. Solar panels may not provide much entertainment to your celebrations but there are still a lot of environmentally friendly ways to celebrate the holiday. These methods, while saving the planet, can also help you get more bang for your buck!

1)    Reusable party ware: Ditch the disposable plates, cups, and silverware and go with washable dishware. If you are having a party, you might even consider a “bring your own plate” theme with competitions for ugliest, and most unique plates. Additionally, you can turn the event into a dish swap, where party-goers exchange dishes with one another. Benefits: less landfill, fewer dishes to wash afterword, new tradition

2)    Reuse decorations: Decorations for the 4th of July remain the same every year. You have probably noticed this at some point in your life. This year, instead of throwing out your decorations and sending them to the local landfill, consider saving the decorations for next year. Benefits: less landfill, time and money savings next year

3)    The more the merrier: Larger groups use less energy than individuals (or smaller groups). Think of inviting additional people to your party. You might even consider a potluck-style party to cut down on food costs. Benefits: lower electricity use than individual celebrations, more people to celebrate with, increased variety of food

4)    Attend a public fireworks show: Public firework shows tend to be much more thrilling than the individuals ones. Part of this is due to the fact that they can use fireworks that are illegal for the general public to buy, but it also involves atmosphere, choreographed shows, music, and getting out of the house to celebrate. Benefits: less pollution from personal fireworks, sense of community, increased safety, firework purchase savings

5)    Make your own popsicles: The 4th of July is generally hot. Popsicles can, however, make the heat more tolerable. Consider making your own popsicles. You can google a recipe and then use a popsicle mold to get the right shape. Benefits: healthier, reusable, fun family activity, decreased waste from popsicle wrappers and sticks

However you choose to celebrate, the staff at Eco Electric wishes you a fun and safe 4th of July!