Posts tagged: Energy efficiency

Thoughtlessly saving energy at work

3 ways you (probably) save energy without knowing it!

I’m an early-riser; so when I get to the office, the lights are off, the coffee pot isn’t percolating and all the computers are hibernating. Since we’re still on daylight saving time, it’s pretty dark for my first hour of work. As I start the day, there are a few things I do first-thing that save energy without me really thinking about it. Here’s what I do:

  • Use task lighting. Our office lighting is automatically set up to switch on in the morning. When I get in, well before the timer goes off, I just use my task light above my desk to help me work instead of turning the lights on early. (Of course, I switch it back off when the lights pop on.)
  • Keep a sweater at work. Again, our office automatically kicks on the heat during fall and winter months. When it’s just a bit to cool for me, I slip on my office sweater or grab a cup of tea and wait for the automatic system to do its work.
  • Take the stairs. OK, I know this one sounds lame … but in addition to helping get my blood pumping in the morning, taking the stairs (and not the elevator) for two stories up, exercises my power instead of electric power.

All in all, these are simple things I do every day that save energy without a second thought.

So what are your favorite, easy solutions for saving or conserving energy? Read more »

Government initiatives support tribal access to energy advancements

Over the last week, the Federal government took multiple steps to bring energy advancements to tribal lands.

  1. Department of Interior Secretary Salazar approved a 350-megawatt solar energy project on the Moapa River Indian Reservation in Nevada on July 21. This project is the first-ever of its kind, being the only utility-scale development on tribal lands. The project supports President Obama’s all-of-the-above approach to energy and builds on the Administration’s efforts to advance renewable energy on America’s public lands. This innovative project is another step toward developing renewable energy resources on tribal lands with the hope of strengthening Native American economies.
  2. The Department of Energy announced Strategic Technical Assistance Response Team selections for six tribes in the lower 48 states to receive on-the-ground technical support for community-based energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. The START program provides both tribal communities and Alaska native villages with technical assistance to accelerate clean energy project development, advance energy self-sufficiency and create jobs.
  3. DOE recently launched an online resource library focused on energy topics relevant to tribal communities. The library lists links to more than 85 publications, websites and other resources about energy project development and financing in Indian Country. Topics include project checklists, technology, tribal case studies and strategic energy planning.
  4. Lastly, DOE announced the appointment of three additional tribal members for its Indian Country Energy and Infrastructure Working Group. The new tribal team members are the Ho-Chunk Nation of Wisconsin, Crow Tribe of Montana and Tlingit and Haida Tribes of Alaska. Established in 2011, the group is made up of geographically diverse Native American energy leaders who discuss issues affecting tribal energy development. Members have broken ground by meeting with key energy sector players to share best practices and discuss emerging markets and opportunities for innovative partnerships.

Montana Schools Win National Student Energy Efficiency Competition

A team of five schools from Carter County, Mont., has won the America’s Home Energy Education Challenge, a national student competition designed to encourage students and their families to take action to start saving money by saving energy.

The Montana team was supported by Southeast Electric Cooperative, based in Ekalaka, Mont.  Marlene Waterland of Southeast Electric coordinated the program and provided training for each of the schools.  Western contributed to the effort by providing a lighting efficiency display and infrared cameras through the Equipment Loan Program.

“Western is proud to be able to assist Southeast Electric Cooperative and Marlene engage these young people and focus their math and science skills on a real-life problem—how to save money by using energy efficiently at home,” said Gary Hoffmann, Western’s Equipment Loan Program manager.

The five schools, Alzeda Elementary School, Carter County High School, Ekalaka Elementary School (K-8th grade), Hammond School (K-8th grade) and Hawks Home School, will share the $15,000 they won as both a regional winner and as the national champion.

The Challenge, which is run by the National Science Teachers Association for the Department of Energy, challenged teams of third through eighth grade students to work with their science teachers and local utility companies to develop energy use savings plans that reduce the amount of energy used to power their homes. Each student team monitored and measured their energy consumption between September and November 2011, and then compared it to data collected during the same three-month period the year before.

The Montana students talked to their family members about steps they could take to save money by saving energy, including turning off the lights when leaving the room, running the laundry machine with cooler water and full loads, and in an agricultural community, using timers to set charging times for tractors.

Learn more about the America’s Home Energy Education Challenge

Read DOE’s press release on the America’s Home Energy Education Challenge winner

See photos and local coverage of the Carter County program

Western hosts wind, solar interconnection workshop

Western is teaming up with the Utility Wind Integration Group, American Public Power Association and the Department of Energy’s Wind and Water Power, Solar Energy Technologies and Tribal Energy programs to present the sixth annual Distributed Wind/Solar Interconnection Workshop, Feb. 22 to 24.

The workshop, taking place at Western’s Electric Power Training Center in Golden, Colo., provides a comprehensive overview of wind and solar integration studies. 

Expert speakers will use case studies to answer questions about interconnecting wind and solar plants and other distributed generation applications to electric distribution systems. Participants will get an introduction to UWIG’s Internet-based tools for assessing a distributed wind project’s impact on the local distribution system.

Registration and $300 is required to attend the workshop in person. Those interested can also attend four online sessions for just $99. 

Find out more at Western’s Newsroom or the event announcement.

Video game systems: Energy vampires?

Since October is Energy Awareness Month, we wanted to share the latest research on video game energy consumption. Energy Services Representative Paula Fronk, at the Colorado River Storage Project Management Center, and her son Brady undertook the investigation of a common household energy consumer—the video game system.

With more than 40 percent of all homes in the United State owning video game consoles, the Natural Resource Defense Council estimates that these consoles consume about 16 billion kilowatt-hours each year—roughly, the electricity annually used by the city of San Diego. These deceptively small but greedy energy thieves are driving up electric bills, particularly in homes with multiple game systems or gamers.

The Fronk family found evidence that some systems use significantly more energy than others. Even so, the total energy consumption over a year is minor until you factor in the monitor’s energy use. Also, leaving the game in “idle” mode for hours on end to save a gaming session or downloading content consumes almost as much power as active play. If there is more than one gamer in the house, the electricity use—and dollars—can really add up.

I’ve seen our electric bill,” admitted Brady as he became more aware of the different aspects of energy use. “Playing isn’t the only way gaming uses electricity. When you download a game over the Internet, it can take hours, and the computer or system has to be on the whole time. Imagine thousands of people downloading those games. The energy use is amazing.”

To see the console energy use results and hear more about this topic, see the Energy Services Bulletin’s August 2010 issue. The ESB monthly provides energy related articles.

You can also download the pdf “Video Games: Energy Heist?” fact sheet, from Energy Services’ site.