Oh No! Falling Gas Prices
So my wallet told me that in the month of November, gas prices had gone down.
Awesome. Fantastic. Insert Happy/Smiley face emoji here.
This fall gas prices hit their lowest since the Great Recession in 2008 and 2009. On December 3, 2014, Costco gas was reported at $2.71 a gallon (www.fresnogasprices.com
) and personally, my aging Honda civic is now filling up at approximately $35 a tank. Now to the casual onlooker, this is good news – more money in our pockets, motivation to travel and do holiday shopping with a little looser budget all sound great, right?
One must take in the bad in with the good.
According to U.S. News and World Report consumers are beginning to purchase vehicles that were well known prior to the recession as “gas-guzzlers”. You remember, Hummers, Lincoln Navigators and Cadillac Escalades, right? Well those brand items are making a big comeback. To add insult to injury, besides sucking your wallet dry for gas, the emissions of these vehicles are not good for the rest of us. A Cadillac Escalade emits around 9.6 tons per year
into the atmosphere and it stays there for, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, a few years to thousands of years.
9.6 tons is just one Escalade driving about 15,000 miles a year. As trends have shown in the past the cost of gas will go right back up. Then what? The consumer puts their car in the garage? What about the emissions, they stay in the atmosphere.
As a history of major, I’ve read and experienced enough of the ups, downs, lefts and rights of the federal, state and local governments. Ultimately I believe the power is held by the taxpayer. People really do need to think about the environment – especially in the Central Valley. I absolutely believe that climate change is not a myth. The drought throughout the state and the extreme weather conditions in the Eastern United States prove that our environment is changing and that it is completely up to the people to correct it.
From my perspective we need to start with the gas guzzlers being deeply regulated. Car manufacturers have been putting great technology into their cars, so why not lower an SUV’s emissions to be comparable to that of a Honda Civic? Since the automobile industry isn’t going anywhere, I’m thinking there are plenty of engineers who can make this a reality, it’s just the manufacturers have to make it a top priority.
This is also just a small piece of the pie. Decreasing our gas dependency, realizing climate change and reducing SUV usage are just a few of the contributing factors in the recovering and preserving of our environment.
“Compare Side-By-Side”, U.S. Department of Energy: Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy, accessed December 5, 2014, http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/Find.do?action=sbs&id=33892.
“Overview of Greenhouse Gases”, Environmental Protection Agency, accessed December 4, 2014, http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/ghgemissions/gases.html.
Posted on December 18, 2014 | 8:02 am
Homebrew your way to an energy-efficient, neo-noir, sci-fi pad
When I first remember watching Blade Runner, it wasn’t the computer you could talk to and have it turn 2D pictures into 3D, or the cars that could drive and fly, or the humanoid robots that didn’t know they were robots, but rather the apartment lighting. Call me weird. As Harrison Ford was walking around his apartment, each room he entered dimmed up its fluorescent lighting, and dimmed to off as he moved away. This motion-sensing awesomeness was probably most engrained in my memory because I was often reminded by my parents to turn the lights off when I left the room. A good lesson and a constant annoyance to me, but I’m sure I was to them too. I probably still am.
Harrison Ford’s Rick Deckard hunts down humanoid-like robots, and better ways to conserve energy.
This past weekend I read about this company called Ubiquiti Networks. Like their name suggests, they make networking equipment, like wireless internet antennas for long distances. But they also create energy managing devices, like power strips, power outlets and dimmers and switches. The cool thing about these devices is that they wireless connect to the network, creating an Internet of Things. And they can be programmed. This is where the fun begins.
I might never have to flip a switch ever again.
By connecting motion sensors to your network, and replacing your light switches, you can now program the lights in any room to ramp up or down depending on the activity on the room. And with time already a part of the system, you can have the lights dim up to a lower level at 4:15 in the morning so you don’t have to shield your eyes from the fury of instant-on brightness. Another benefit is that each device monitors the energy usage of what is connected to it.
Now I can let prank callers know if my fridge is running anytime I’m away from the house.
You can know easily track energy usage of your lights and even plug loads, which can be pretty difficult. If you have your electrical outlets replaced with theirs, you can also use a motion sensor in the kitchen to not only dim up your lights, but also to turn on your devices that have phantom loads! I hope to one day purchase these when I buy a home so I have a much better picture of how much energy my home uses and, well, not have to worry about forgetting to turn off the lights.
My parents would be so happy.
Posted on December 3, 2014 | 4:55 pm
What is this Term…Demand Response?
In the realm of energy efficiency the term demand response
is being brought up more every day. Many business owners and/or homeowners do not know what the term means. Well let me dive in and break down what demand response is and how you can benefit.
What is demand response?
Demand response, in lamens term, is when a customer gets paid for not using energy. These utility programs work to actively engage consumers in how they modify consumption, all while reducing peak demand and avoiding system breakdowns.
Customers are able to receive incentives or discounts for participating in demand response programs through their utility supplier.
So how does demand response work? For those not in the utility industry here is the cliff notes version of how demand response works. A utility offers credits to a consumer to install an automated device on an outside air conditioning unit. The utility is then able to turn the unit off at intervals of peak demand. Some individuals do not care for the automated program controlling their energy usage so utilities do offer other programs that fall under demand response. Other systems can detect when energy is at a high usage point, and then reduces voltage without cutting power altogether. [i]
Why is demand response important? Demand response is the country’s current answer to increasing energy demand. By participating in demand response you are actively helping our utility grid work more efficiently. Predictions are that demand response can cut up to 15% of energy demand in the U.S. all while helping to cut greenhouse gas emissions. Oh and the savings of about 50% by only decreasing power use by 5% does not hurt either.
What’s the future of demand response?
The idea of demand response seems to be spreading faster than wildfire, pardon the phrase Californians. Automakers are now working on the idea for electric vehicles. Several utilities have run tests to see if cloud computing would be compatible in transporting a message directly to electric vehicles. The message is designed to ask that the car’s owner briefly suspend charging to boost grid stability. If the car owner agrees to participate, they are compensated for their energy reduction.[ii]
Whether you are a fan of the idea or not, demand response will be something to keep your eye on in the future. With the developments in only the past couple of years I am sure that there will be a lot more to come down the road.
Posted on November 12, 2014 | 5:00 pm