GM Continues Transition To Renewable Energy With Wind-Powered Arlington, Texas Plant

electric-car-plantGM has recently announced its latest milestone in its drive to increase its use of renewable energy to power its operations. The company last year completed a deal to purchase sufficient wind-generated energy to power its major plant in Arlington, as well as 15 other separate facilities, which includes GM’s financial headquarters located in the downtown area of Fort Worth.

The company stated that it has agreed to buy 50 megawatts of electricity produced at the Cactus Flats wind farm, a massive 150-megawatt farm that is under development near San Angelo by Renewable Energy Systems. The Cactus Flats wind farm is another major investment in wind energy in Texas, which is currently the largest producer of wind energy in the country with over 10,000 turbines currently in operation.

The plant in Arlington builds some of GM’s most iconic models, focusing on the company’s top-selling sport utility vehicles. The plant already receives 50% of its power from renewable sources of energy, and the addition of the Cactus Flats wind farm will result in the plant being powered completely by green energy sources. It is estimated that the shift to wind power will reduce the plant’s total energy costs by up to $3 million a year, as well as reduce carbon dioxide emissions by more than 1 million tons over the entirety of the contract.

GM’s Worldwide Targets for Renewable Energy Part of Climate Change Commitments

Beginning in 2018, GM will be sourcing over 193,000 megawatt hours of power per year from wind alone. At the beginning of the contract over 6% of GM’s worldwide energy use will be from renewable sources. This recent deal is just a small part of GM’s long-term commitment to being powered entirely by renewable sources by 2050. This goal was set alongside other similar climate change commitments, such as the development of vehicles powered by electricity.

See Also: Amazon Comes To Texas For Electricity

See Also: Arlington Electricity Providers

 

4 Ways To Boost Your Office’s Energy Efficiency

light bulb electricity buttonAlmost 20 percent of energy consumed in the United States derives from commercial buildings, the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy reports.

Seeking and implementing energy-saving solutions within your office building not only reduces the amount of energy consumed, but also saves money on maintenance and supplies, while providing additional comfort and health and safety benefits. Here are the top four ways to boost your office’s energy efficiency.

Switch to Cloud Computing

By storing and accessing data online rather than on a computer hard drive, your office will reduce its energy consumption, saving up to $12.3 billion on energy bills worldwide and eliminating 85.7 million metric tons of carbon emissions every year by 2020. Leaving local storage and in-house computing behind, cloud computing has the potential to reduce energy usage worldwide by 38 percent before 2020.

According to a study done by Microsoft, Accenture and WSP Environment and Energy, this means switching over could reduce your carbon footprint by as much as 90 percent for smaller, less efficient businesses and 30 percent for larger, more efficient ones. Companies like Mozy make it effortless to switch over to cloud computing, providing your office with worry-free cloud data protection, backup computers and servers, and 24/7 support for when you need it most.

Invest in Energy Star Electronics, Appliances

When you see an Energy Star label, you can be confident the product meets strict energy efficiency requirements set forth by the EPA. This step helps you save money, while providing you with the high performance you need as a consumer.

For your office, invest in Energy Star-labeled computers, monitors, printers and copiers that have been designed to boost energy efficiency, with functions like automatic low-power mode. According to the EPA, Energy Star-labeled electronics save U.S. companies and consumers $1.8 billion in annual energy costs. In the kitchen, upgrade all your appliances, including your refrigerator, dishwasher, coffeemaker and microwave, to their Energy Star alternatives.

Invest in Smart Lighting

More than half the energy consumed inside commercial buildings is done through heating and lighting the office. Reducing consumption begins with taking advantage of natural lighting, ensuring windows are unobstructed and sunlight is flowing in to illuminate your space. In instances when natural light is unavailable, adopt smart lighting solutions throughout your building to reduce energy usage.

Switch compact fluorescent light bulbs, or CFLs, to LED bulbs. Not only do LED bulbs have a longer lifespan, but they also are more durable and prevent heat buildup, which reduces the energy used to keep the office cool.

Upgrade the HVAC System

When all the telltale signs are pointing to replacing your heating, ventilating and air conditioning system, upgrade to an energy-efficient model that will greatly reduce energy usage and costs within your office building. If your HVAC system is more than 10 years old or requires frequent repairs, switch to an Energy Star model and reap cost savings between 10 percent and 40 percent from your energy bill.

In addition to energy and cost savings, everyone in the office will enjoy an extended comfort zone, increased thermal comfort and improved air quality.

Become More Energy Efficient With These New Tools

electricity efficientThe U.S. Energy Information Agency reports our electricity is generated from the combined consumption of 36 percent petroleum, 27 percent natural gas, 18 percent coal and only 9 percent renewable resources. One way to reduce this heavy reliance on fossil fuels is to save on electricity wherever you can. The following household gadgets will help you reduce your energy use and make your home more energy efficient:

Pick Your Power Provider

Because you live in a state where you can choose from a number of energy providers, you can find one that uses renewable energy to generate your electricity. Vault Electricity makes it easy to select a plan that is 100% green.

Programmable Thermostats

High-tech thermostats have been around for several years. Most allow you to set a particular temperature for a particular time of day. The Nest thermostat does that but also “learns” by recording the adjustments you make throughout the day. Set it to learn for a week as you turn the thermostat up or down, then allow it to do that for you automatically. It also connects to your home network so you can control it from a laptop or mobile device. If you have a variable schedule, turn it down when you leave the house then turn it back up with your smartphone as you’re leaving class.

Controlling the Vampires

Every home has a number of energy vampires. These are devices that continue to consume electricity even after they have been shut off (or roommates who always forget to turns things off). Televisions, stereos and gaming systems are big energy vampires. The solution has been to unplug these devices when not in use. Now the Belkin Conserve Power switch provides another way with a device that goes between the device and the outlet. This switch cuts off power to any device that tries to draw a small current when turned off. Now you can enjoy those video game marathons with peace of mind.

Recharging Control

If you own a smartphone, chances are you can relate to squeezing ever last ounce out of your battery’s life. College campuses have a way of sucking batteries dry, but you can stay green as you charge them up. Mashable recommends the Bracketron Stone GreenZero Charger. When recharging mobile devices, they continue to pull a charge once they have reached 100 percent. The Bracketron device shuts off the electricity completely once a mobile device has fully charged.

Check the Lights

It can be a challenge to make sure that lights are turned off when someone leaves a room. Lutron offers motion sensor switches that replace existing wall-mounted light switches. These are specifically made for smaller spaces such as closets, laundry rooms, bathrooms and utility rooms. The money you save on your electricity bill can fund your late-night trips to the student cafeteria.

Complete Home Control

Home power monitoring and control systems, such as the one by Vantage, allow you to see what is consuming power in your home and at what rate. You can monitor each electrical outlet for how much it is used. Control lights, thermostat and appliances from a console on your computer or an app on your mobile device. Now you can expose the roommate who is responsible for most of the electrical bill.

 

Top 3 Green Home Appliances

Want to save up to $400 per month? It’s simple. Just switch out your old appliances for eco-friendly models. According to data reported by Green America, high-efficiency appliances saved American consumers up to $12 billion on energy costs in the past. Not only do energy-efficient appliances save “green,” these earth-friendly machines significantly reduce the impact on our precious resources. Additionally, Green America reported that energy-efficient appliances reduced greenhouse emissions that are comparable to the impact of 23 million cars on the road. Ready to make the switch? These are the top three green home appliances.

Washing Machines

The sustainable living experts from Earth Easy advocate the use of energy-friendly washers and dryers, as these home appliances are major energy users. It’s estimated that 90 percent of the energy used to do laundry is used just to heat up the water. For most of today’s energy-efficient washers, the cold water setting is just as effective at cleaning laundry as the warm or hot settings. Appliances like high-efficiency front-loading washers save water by using less per load. These styles also get the job done much quicker and require less laundry detergent than traditional models, making a front-load washer a sustainable choice for your home.

Dishwashers

As a consumer, it’s important to shop for an eco-friendly dishwasher that’s not too large, as the size of the appliance directly impacts how much water and energy is used to get the dishes clean. Additionally, earth-conscious shoppers should look for a model that has an internal water heater that adjusts the temperature of the water inside. An Energy Star-rated Frigidaire dishwasher not only saves you money on your utility bills, it also cleans dishes better than competing models, as it can sanitize up to 99.9 percent of common household bacteria, keeping your home clean and safe.

Ovens

Homeowners shopping for a powerful yet sustainable oven can look to Bosch. The home appliance manufacturer uses sustainable workmanship throughout the entire process, from building the home appliances to getting them to the store shelves. Even the packing material that Bosch uses is recycled. The company takes an eco-conscious approach to its business, so it should come as no surprise to learn that Bosch offers some of the top eco-friendly appliances on the market today. Whether you’re a seasoned chef of a home cook, you’ll appreciate the craftsmanship and the sustainability factor of Bosch ovens. Want to cut energy loss while cooking? It’s as easy as keeping the oven door shut while cooking. It’s estimated that 10 percent of energy is lost when the door is opened.

Protection Plans

Once you upgrade your appliances, ensure your purchase is protected with a home warranty or protection plan from Total Protect. The company offers specialty protection plans for appliances, which covers the cost to fix or repair the broken appliance. One single home appliance breakdown can cost as much as a year’s worth of coverage. Don’t risk it, get covered today.

Energy-Saving Purchases To Slash Your Power Bill

Phone charging with energy bank and using smartphone in handsNobody enjoys paying for utilities, but they are an inevitable burden. Fortunately, there are ways to slash these charges by upgrading parts of your home and lifestyle that may be wasting electricity. By switching to energy-efficient electronics, you can cut your bills in half. Here are some options to start saving energy and money.

Smartphone

While charging your phone does not use a lot of electricity, if you have an older phone that consistently needs to be charged, you are using more than you should be. Older smartphones lose battery power quicker, and you may find that you need to charge it more often than you used to. If this is the case, look into buying a new phone that will keep its charge. Check out a phone with a long-lasting battery life, like the Samsung Galaxy S7, and make the switch. Don’t waste your time and energy constantly having to plug in a cellphone that is past its prime when there are newer and more efficient models available.

Car

Vehicles are a huge expense. Routine maintenance, special repairs and keeping the gas tank full, are just some of the charges that add up. One way to offset these costs is to upgrade to an energy-efficient car, so you do not have to buy as much gas. This may mean trading in your pickup truck for a small sedan or switching to a hybrid or electric vehicle. Figure out how much money you can spend on gas, and then research cars that enable you to spend that amount or less. Buying some gas is inevitable, but reducing the amount can save you a large chunk of change.

Windows

Are your windows doing their job? They are supposed to let in light, protect you from rain and give you a view of the outside world, but they should do even more. They also should be holding in your heating and air conditioning. You may not notice small cracks that allow air to escape, but they may be costing you hundreds in heating and cooling costs.

If you cannot afford new windows, weather-proof them instead. You can use caulk and weatherstrips to reduce air leakage. There are also window treatments and coverings that block out heat during the warmer months, lowering your need for air conditioning. If you want to take the full plunge, talk to a professional about energy-efficient windows and getting them installed in your home.

Smart Thermostat

If used correctly, smart thermostats can save you money and energy. Before investing in one, you have to consider that the thermostat can costs up to $300 and it will take time to recoup your investment. However, many landlords will reimburse you for installing one, so you may want to mention it before purchasing.

Smart thermostats learn your behaviors and react. They know when you get home from work, when you routinely leave your home and other factors that affect your home’s temperature. This allows them to cool down or warm up your space before you get home, while saving energy the rest of the day. You also can control them remotely, so you can make adjustments at any time using a smartphone app. In the long run, they are great tools to streamline your energy usage and save money.

Steps To Take For A Greener, Healthier Home 

lower monthly electric billIf you’re an environmentally conscious consumer, the first place you’ll want to start being green is in your home. After all, you control many different factors in your house, and it will be easiest for you to begin there. If you’re stumped on what you should do first, this handy guide will help you along the way. From environmentally friendly pest control to ways to make your home more energy efficient, here are ways you can make your home greener.

Energy Efficiency

The best parts about making your home more energy efficient? It usually will save you money, too. It’s estimated that the 115 million households in this country use about 22.5 percent of the country’s energy, which is a staggering amount. The average American family usually spends about $2,200 a year on utilities, according to the EPA. By following some of the these tips, you can save about 25 percent on your bill.

There are many different ways to accomplish this. The first starts with your thermostat. If you use a programmable one like Nest, you can set the temperature so it turns off when you’re not there and clicks back on when you’re about to arrive home. If you’re the type that likes your home hot or cold when you arrive, using a programmable thermostat is a great way to ensure that it’s the desired temperature when you walk in the door without you having to shell out for or waste unnecessary energy. Other quick tips include:

  • Air dry clothing and dishes
  • Turn off electronics when they’re not in use
  • Lower to the water heater to 120 degrees
  • Take shorter showers
  • Consider purchasing Energy Star-certified appliances.

Eco-Friendly Pest Prevention

Yes, it’s possible to have green pest prevention. Sure, it might be easier for you to head to the store and buy the can on the shelf, but that can might contain toxins that can be seriously detrimental to your health. A study published in the medical journal Cancer found that “kids with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma were seven more times likely than healthy kids to have grown up in a home that was treated regularly by a professional exterminator,” as reported by the Huffington Post.

If you do have a pest problem, there are steps you can take to combat them using eco-friendly methods. One great resource to start with is the site beyondpesticides.org. When you visit, you can search by state to find a green pest control provider. Another great sign to look for is the Green Shield Certified logo. This nonprofit certification program is only handed out to companies that practice “smarter, more effective pest control without unnecessary pesticide use.” Visit greenshieldcertified.org to find providers that meet this criteria and learn more about the program.

You also can learn more about the insects themselves. Sites like insects.org are a great place to start. By brushing up on your knowledge of, let’s say, termites, you’d learn that you can use parasitic nematodes to naturally destroy a termite population. This will not only allow you to use a more biological method of getting rid of those pests, but also can save you the money you would have spent on an exterminator.

Go Green At Home To Save Money: 7 Items To Upgrade

Solar panels with Electric Company WorkerThere are many reasons to go green at your home. Not only are you helping the environment, conserving water and energy, but you’re also saving your own pocketbook. Cut down your water and electricity bill with a few upgrades around the house, saving money in the long run and helping Mother Earth.

Household Appliances

Upgrading and investing in your appliances is a great way to help the environment as well as your wallet. Although new appliances can be a bit expensive at first, finding appliances that are Energy Star-certified will save you money in the long run, and eventually pay for themselves. For example, Energy Star-certified Whirlpool dishwashers have a sensor that determines how dirty your dishes are and adjusts the water amount used based on the dishes, ensuring not to waste more water than needed. It also has space for more dishes, thoughtfully using every crevice, giving you a bigger bang for your buck.

Proper Insulation

A poorly insulated home allows air to leak out around your windows and doors causing your energy bill to skyrocket. Whether your home has no insulation or a thin layer, adding insulation can pay for itself within a few years as your electricity bill drops. Since heating and cooling your home account for 50 percent of the energy consumed, proper insulation ensures efficient heating and cooling of your space.

Solar Panels

Utilizing the natural (and free) power of the sun is a great way to cut down your energy use and your electricity bill. Although a bit pricey up front, solar panels installed on your roof not only save you money and cut down energy consumption but send any excess energy back to your utility company. Look for any incentives and tax breaks from your state government to install solar panels for your home for additional savings.

Energy-Efficient Windows

Thanks in part to better insulation, energy efficient windows keep your home cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. Windows labeled Energy Star are a great upgrade if you’re looking to go green to save some green. These windows basically pay for themselves from all the money you’ll be saving on your energy bill.

Eco-Conscious Lighting

Although more costly than traditional incandescent light bulbs, LED and CFL bulbs use less energy, last longer and saving you more money in the long run. CFL light bulbs can save you a whopping 66 percent on energy and 400 pounds of greenhouse gas emissions, compared to their incandescent counterparts, according to an infographic on Huffington Post.

Programmable Thermostat

Upgrade to a programmable thermostat that regulates your home’s temperature instead of allowing it to continue heating or cooling. When the temperature in your home drops below or rises above a designated temperature, your thermostat will turn on the system for either heating or cooling. In addition, setting your thermostat one degree lower during the winter and one degree higher during the summer can save you money on your energy bill without a big sacrifice of your comfort.

Low-Flow Water Fixtures

Upgrade your home’s water fixtures to low-flow toilets, shower heads and faucets. This will cut your water bill costs as well as conserving our precious resource. While you’re at it, make sure you fix all of your leaks which waste a lot more water than you would imagine.

How Solar Power Technology Can Reduce Your Energy Costs And Carbon Footprint

solar energy savingsThis month a team of students from the Stevens Institute of Technology won the Department of Energy’s biennial Solar Decathlon for building the best solar-powered home. Inspired by Hurricane Sandy, the SURE HOUSE, which stands for SUstainable + REsilient, is designed to continue to produce electricity during blackouts by using a solar array in combination with a 60s-style beach house design and boat building materials. The house uses 90 percent less energy than its conventional counterparts and can even supply neighbors with emergency power for electronic devices.

The Solar Decathlon illustrates the Department of Energy’s focus on developing solar technology as a solution for America’s energy future. Solar photovoltaic panels now cost half of what they did in 2011, a trend the DOE seeks to advance with a $53 million research initiative, announced last year, to drive solar energy costs down even further and cut carbon pollution. The DOE estimates that there is now enough solar power being generated every year to power 3.2 million average American homes. Here are a few ways you can use solar power to cut your energy costs and reduce your home’s carbon footprint.

Indoors

Heating consumes about half the energy of the average home, but you can cut this cost in half by using passive solar heating and cooling, according to the Department of Energy. This strategy uses a home’s location and materials to economize energy use. Active heating strategies add the pumping of solar-heated air or fluid through a home. Relying entirely on active heating is not usually cost-effective, so it is usually used to supplement passive heating.

For existing homes, start with an energy audit before pursuing any solar installations so that you can identify your most efficient potential improvements. When designing new homes, a passive energy strategy requires that part of the south side of your home has an unobstructed view of the sun. Your building designer will need to factor in considerations such as the orientation and size of the windows, the thermal energy absorbed by other materials in your home, how absorbed energy will be distributed through your house, and how to use features such as roof overhangs to prevent summer overheating. After your home is built, be sure to keep south-facing glass clean and to avoid blocking sunlight from hitting heat-absorbing walls or concrete slab floors.

Water heating, your home’s second-biggest energy cost, can also be done more efficiently by using solar power. Here you can select between passive and active systems. The cheapest type of passive option is an Integral Collector Storage (ICS) system, where a solar-heated water storage area heats cold water flowing through it. In more expensive thermosyphon systems, collected warm water rises through a higher storage tank as cooler water sinks. Active systems add circulating pumps and controls to circulate water either directly or indirectly using a heat-transfer fluid and heat exchanger. Which option is best for you depends on your solar resource, climate, and budget.

Outdoors

Using solar-powered lights to illuminate your yard is one of the easiest ways to use solar energy. Have a pool or a hot tub? Save money on your electricity bill and switch to solar power to cut the cost of heating your outdoor pool or hot tub.

In Your Car

For the first time, this year’s Solar Decathlon entrants were required to design their homes to generate enough energy to power a battery-electric vehicle in addition to the residence itself. Contest rules did not permit contestants to store electricity generated from the home’s roof in the car’s battery, but this could be easily done. Meanwhile, Ford has been working on improving the efficiency of solar panels in the roofs of electric cars, according to Consumer Reports. Soon you may be able to power an electric car from your home and car solar panels and leave no carbon footprint.

3 Simple Ways To Save Energy And Money

Solar EnergyWhen it comes to energy conservation, you can now save the planet and your hard-earned money. If you’re ready to adopt an eco-friendly lifestyle, the following practices will help you feel better about your carbon footprint and let you watch the savings pour in.

Take Shorter Showers

To take short showers, here’s a tip: Listen to music while you shower and never stay under running water for longer than two songs — and, ideally, one. The more time you spend getting doused by hot water, the more energy is being used to heat the flow and the more money is running down the drain.

Another counter-intuitive way to reduce water use is to take more showers. If you shower once per day and find yourself routinely taking more than five minutes to get clean, take two quicker showers instead. This method keeps you fresher all day and means you don’t have to stay in the bathroom so long. It’s the perfect blend of time management, water management and budget management.

Invest in Solar Panels

By this point, you should know that low-flow shower heads, energy-efficient lightbulbs and double-paned windows better maintain your indoor temperature. In addition to these simple solutions, consider buying energy-efficient refrigerators and stoves.

The best move you can make, however, is installing solar panels. The only problem is the initial investment; it may take a few years to save enough on electricity to pay for the panels, depending on how cheap your fossil fuel-powered electricity is and how much sunlight your house gets. Google recently came up with a solution for knowing how much solar energy can help your home. Its Project Sunroof estimates the exact amount of sunlight that hits any roof and enables you to measure how long it would take to reap savings off of an initial investment. Unfortunately, it is only available in parts of California and Boston so far, but it will soon be expanding its scope so that everyone can make the most-informed decision.

Take Charge of Your Mobile Device

How many times per day do you charge your devices? Between a laptop, tablet, mobile phone, e-reader and every other gadget in your arsenal, you are likely plugged into the electric grid more often than you would like to admit.

To lessen your impact, maximize each charge. Use your device’s power-saving mode or switch over to airplane mode when you don’t need to be connected. Better still, purchase a phone that has an Ultra Power Saving Mode, like the Samsung Galaxy Note 4, that helps your phone last longer and waste less energy.

These moves alone won’t solve global warming, but they help foster a mental shift. The more you look to make the small, no-brainer moves, the more you will find your whole way of thinking change about conservation. And as the baby steps increasingly lead to larger changes, you really will be making a difference and Mother Nature will thank you.

The Beauty Of Energy Efficiency In Your Home

smart home energy efficiencyYou don’t have to only focus on the utilitarian parts of your house when trying to make it more energy efficient. You can focus on more than adequate insulation in the attic, energy-efficient window panes and washers that use very little water. There also are eco-friendly designs that are lovely to look at. When updating your home, consider the following ideas:

Let Landscaping Play Double Duty

There are many landscaping options that look great and help cut down on your home’s energy use. Better Homes and Gardens recommends planting deciduous trees on the west and south sides of your home because the leaf-filled trees shade your home during the hottest part of the year and then, in the winter when the leaves fall off, the branches let sunlight through to warm the house.

Hang Window Coverings

When it comes to being more energy efficient, a great place to start is with your window coverings, especially if your windows are not well insulated. Window treatments can complement any type of room design while also helping to maintain the light and temperature of your room. Depending on which direction your windows face, hang blackout curtains to keep harsh summer light from heating up your room or install solar shades to let in natural light without letting UV rays damage your furniture. Also look for window treatments made from eco-friendly materials. For example, The Shade Store offers shades and blinds made from bamboo and other low-impact materials.

Run Ceiling Fans

To avoid running the A/C non-stop during the summer, add ceiling fans to your most-used rooms. In addition to being budget friendly and easy to find, they use a low amount of energy — about the same as a 100-watt light bulb. Check out the Energy Star website prior to shopping to make sure you purchase an energy-efficient model.

To keep your home as cool as possible, set the fan to turn counterclockwise during the warm months and clockwise during the winter. Many people find that they can turn their thermostat up a few degrees during the summer, which can lead to saving up to 40 percent on energy bills, according to Redbeacon. In the winter, a spinning fan also can help push warm air back down into the room. This allows you to lower your heat and save around 10 percent.

Let in Natural Light With Skylights

Consider installing a few skylights in the rooms you use the most. With skylights you can take advantage of natural light and not turn on the lights inside your home during the day, which can lead to huge savings. The DIY Network offers great advice and tips for homeowners who want to install skylights themselves or you can hire a professional if you’re not up for a big project.

For rooms that get hot, a self-ventilating skylight allows you to vent the room as well as let natural light in. Venting also is great for cooler days and nights when you want to let accumulated heat out.