Thursday, July 10, 2008

Saving Gas

Some states are taking a different approach to help save gasoline, they're switching to a 4 day work week.

News10: Next month Utah will become the first state in the nation to mandate four-day work weeks for most employees.

Nearly 17,000 state workers will change their schedules to work 10 hours a day, four days a week.

"It's good on all kinds of grounds," said Gov. Jon Huntsman, R-Utah. "It's good for the environment, it's good for energy efficiency, it's good for customer service ... and it's good for our employees as well."


Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Due to extreme heat: Help Conserve Energy!

This week it is estimated that the weather will reach somewhere in (or above) the 110* degree range. Yuck! California Independent System Operator (Cal ISO) is asking people to conserve energy today.

"Cal ISO suggested to use less electricity during the peak hours between 2 p.m. and 6 p.m., and to set home thermostats to 78 degrees or higher. Also, avoid using large appliances that require more energy." -KCRA.com

Here are some tips to help you stay cool and save energy.

*Close your drapes or shades.
Windows are one of the largest sources of heat gain in your home. Although not as effective as exterior shading, keeping your drapes and shades closed during the day helps keep unwanted heat out of your home.


*Use ceiling fans wisely.
Ceiling fans create enough air movement in a room to make it feel cooler by four degrees or more.

*Ventilate when it's cool outside.
Most areas of California have cool, dry nights even after the hottest days. Cut your cooling costs by opening windows when it's cooler outside than inside. In the morning, close up the house to trap the coolness inside.

*Replace your air conditioning filters once a month.
Dirty filters restrict airflow and can cause the coil in your air conditioner to freeze up significantly increasing energy use. Saving up to 5% of cooling costs.


Here is an additional list of "Powerful Habits", things you can do to help conserve energy.

After all of your energy saving hard work, treat yourself to some ice cream...just don't let it melt on you!


(photo by: MegandDavid via Flickr.com)






Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Alice in Chains want my cell phone?


So I was looking at updates, news, anything interesting on one of my favorite bands (Alice in Chains) the other day and came across this program they are doing. In short, they are having people send in their old cell phones which earns them "swag bucks" which is currency that you can use on their website for all kinds of merchandise. Click the link for details.





Hypermiling

This is a new term for me!

Hypermilers are drivers who exceed the United States EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) estimated fuel efficiency on their vehicles by modifying their driving habits.

This last weekend I happen use some of these techniques myself on the way back from Tahoe without even knowing it. The one habit that seems to save money on gas and speeding tickets is the cruise control method. I was able to hit cruise control on east bound Hwy 80 in Sacramento all the way to Hwy 99 in Stockton.....that is until someone cut me off.

It took me 2 hours and 45 minutes to drive from North Shore Lake Tahoe to Modesto going 70 mph almost the entire way. So not only was I stopping myself from getting a speeding ticket (which was my first intention) I was saving fuel and money. The exact same trip has taken me three or more hours and I was proud to say I did it in less time while maintaining only 5 mph above the speed limit. (Traffic has a huge influence on this timing, but it's at least possible.)

Some would call my Yukon a gas guzzling vehicle, but if I can make it a habit to start using some of the Hypermiler's techniques I won't need to trade my vehicle in for a more efficient model. (-:

Below are some more sources to help you become a hypermiler yourself!

Article:
KCRA 3 News

Website:
www.hypermiling.com

Tips:
*
Roll up your windows.
*Recirculate your cold air from the AC and turn your AC off.
*Hit cruise control as much as possible.
*Accelerate slowly.



Monday, July 7, 2008

Don't Let Gas Prices Get You Down

Gas prices got you down? Here's some helpful tips that can put a smile back on your face and make your life a little greener in the process.

  • Rely on public transportation, walking, and bicycling to commute to work, run errands, and visit friends.


  • Find a buddy to commute with. Try posting a note at work or on a community bulletin board.


  • Condense your errands into one car trip per week. Try buying more in one trip instead of making many small trips.


  • Get rid of your old gas guzzling SUV and get the most fuel efficient car that meets your needs, which might be a hybrid or bio-diesel car.


National Downshifting Week

It's time to slow down America and join in National Down shifting Week July 7th through 13th. What do we mean by "down shifting" you ask? We mean slow down, smell the flowers, enjoy a simpler, greener way of life.

Here are some tips on how you can take your life out of high gear.

Downshiftingweek.com:Here are a few 'expanded' explanations of some of the actions suggested in our 3 lists.

If you are serious about your intentions to slow down and green up, take a few unhurried moments to read through it and you will stand a far higher chance of achieving long term success.

1) Analyze your time and finance budgets.

2) Cut up a credit card.

3) Donate a bag of clothes, toys or useful items to a local charity shop, refuge or recycling center, or Free cycle them.

4) List your usual weekly purchases and eliminate 3 non-essential items.

5) Plant something in the garden to cultivate and eat and start a compost heap.

6) Cook a meal using seasonal, local ingredients, preferably organic.

7) Enjoy the enormous benefits of keeping a few chickens, preferably ex-battery.

8) Hand-make a simple card for the next birthday or event on your calendar.

9) Tonight, turn the television off, switch the radio on and play a few games and talk.

10) Book a half-day off work to spend entirely with someone you love.



For more information and tips on how you can put your life in low gear check out Down shifting Week.com, Conscious Consuming.org or the Discovery Channels Planet Green.

New Rules Coming for Green Buildings

Starting in January builders hoping to get their homes and offices certified "green" will have new standards to meet after the U.S. Green Building Council changed its Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification process.

Washington Business Journal More than 1,500 buildings have received LEED certification since the program was introduced in 2000, and more than 11,000 are seeking it.

In those eight years, the USGBC has changed the way architects, contractors and developers design and construct buildings. Even structures that don't pursue LEED certification are increasingly incorporating sustainable practices. Such steps include increased energy efficiency, daylighting, recycling materials, non-polluting carpet and paint, and low-flow water fixtures and toilets.

"The USGBC's mission is to transform the marketplace, and we've seen a tremendous amount of success in a short time," said Anne Jackson, an associate at architecture firm Perkins+Will.

LEED certifications are available in eight categories: new construction, existing buildings, commercial interiors, core and shell, retail, schools, health care and homes. Another category, for neighborhood developments, is in the pilot stage.

LEED promotes a whole-building approach to sustainability by recognizing performance in five key areas: sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality. Points are awarded for specific practices in each area and are verified by an independent third party. Depending on the number of points earned, a building is awarded a certified, silver, gold or platinum ranking.

LEED 2009 will reorganize the commercial rating systems by consolidating, aligning and updating them into one system that's "simpler and more elegant and committed to continuous improvement," said USGBC spokeswoman Ashley Katz.

Points will be allocated differently and reweighed, and the entire process will be flexible to adapt to changing technology, account for regional differences and encourage innovation.

"These changes -- giving LEED an umbrella rating system -- will streamline the process and make it less confusing, especially for non-practitioners," Jackson said.

The certification process has been criticized for being too rigid, cumbersome and demanding, for being too costly, and for awarding points illogically. A common example is that installing a bike rack gets one point, as does installing a costly HVAC system.