Be green & stay cool with energy efficient air conditioning

Everyone wants to save money and still be comfortable. And as luck would have it, there is a way to meet those two criteria. Sometimes, you have to spend a little to save a little and that includes replacing your 10 year old air conditioner.

According to AAA Heating and Cooling, you can positively impact the environment by investing in a new and energy efficient air conditioning unit. There’s about 31.2 million US households that have an AC unit that’s 10 years or older. Of that bracket, 15.9 million households have a 10-14 year old unit, 6.9 million have a 15-19 year old unit, and 8.4 million have an AC unit that’s 20 years or older. That’s pretty dang old for an appliance that get’s used every day for half of the year!

The Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) rating is a system that ranks the energy efficiency of an AC unit. The greater the SEER, the more efficient the unit. Units from 1992 or before have a SEER value of 10. In 2005, most units were produced with a minimum rating of 13 and today’s units have SEER ratings up to 23. Upgrading from a 20 year old air conditioner to a SEER rated AC unit of 16 can reduce electricity costs by 42%!

There’s plenty more to read in the infographic below.


How to incorporate solar energy in to your home

Solar is the future! It’s a clean source of energy and you can use it to decrease your existing energy bills. Imagine Energy shows us how with a handy infographic.

Investing in solar equipment for your home is no small thing, but if you’re interested in helping contribute to a cleaner environment and lowering your energy bills, it’s a great endeavor to undertake.

Electrical power needs an extra 258 gigawatts to meet future demand by 2030. This equates to an additional 250 to 500 baseload power plants rated at between one-half and one gigawatt of energy. In addition, infrastructure costs are increasing. So the cost of maintaining the power grid will only go up. This includes high-voltage transmission lines and towers, power sub-stations, and electric distribution systems. In the next ten years, electric utilities will invest $14 billion per year.

In 1997, rate caps were put in place and have begun to expire. This gives the impression that rates are rising when in actuality, costs that have already been incurred by the energy company are being transferred to customers.

Solar panel advancements are making it cheaper and easier to install and maintain. This leads to a quicker return on investment, solar rebate programs, higher appraisal values with solar powered homes, and selling 15% faster than other homes.

There’s plenty more to read in the infographic below.


Paint disposal – household and industrial

Paint seems like a fairly friendly household item. It doesn’t bring red flags to mind when compared to other household items like bleach, drain cleaner, or antifreeze. However, there’s lots of nasty stuff in paint. Waste Xpress breaks it down for us.

Paint is composed of four types of materials. First is solvent, which is the liquid that carries the solid. It has a strong odor and is hazardous for humans and the environment. Next is the binder, which the solid film former that remains after the solvent evaporates. It binds the pigment to the particles. Third is pigment, which gives paint it’s color. Additives are the fourth and final ingredient that improves storage and application properties.

Paint is either oil based or water based. Oil based paints have a high VOC (volatile organic compounds) which are hazardous to humans and the environment. Water based paints is often referred to as latex paint and has a much lower VOC count.

The paint and coating industry is quite large, which is obvious since humans love color and companies sell more items that are pleasing to the eye. There’s about 1,400 establishments composing the industry, 43,000 employees, and 1.57 billion gallons of paint and coatings sold in 2013. That’s worth $20 billion.

There’s more to learn. Read on in the infographic below.


Accessory Dwelling Units

Otherwise known as ADU’s, accessory dwelling units are becoming more popular for a variety of reasons. An ADU is defined as an additional dwelling unit on a family property. It may or may not be attached to primary building and are typically much smaller than the main family home. They’re equipped with their own kitchens and bathrooms, providing privacy to the inhabitant.

According to Imagine Energy, accessory dwelling units open up affordable rental units in what could be an expensive area. They also provide a higher resale value to the original family home. Homeowners have an additional source of income because of the ADU or could use them for aging family members or visiting relatives. ADUs minimize sprawl because they don’t require more land for a housing unit and are environmentally friendly.

An ADU can take many forms including a converted basement or attic, garage, carriage house, or freestanding structure. They are also called granny flats, second units, mother-in-law apartments, carriage homes or backyard cottages.

Anyone can make an ADU energy efficient by building with a tight envelope, adding solar panels, and reusing building materials. Using energy star appliances and eco-friendly lighting only add to the benefits.

There’s more to see in the infographic below. Read on to find out more.


Sources of Plastic: Origination & Involved Processes

Plastics are everywhere. You’d be hard pressed to go through your day without running in to hundreds of plastic objects- whether it’s at your work or in your home, plastic materials are an everyday occurrence.

Stephens Plastic Injection Moulding has provided a resource for us to learn more about plastics. Here’s a brief overview.

  1. Plastics are either naturally found or synthetically man-made.
  2. The majority of everyday plastics are synthetic.
  3. From crude oil compounds are formed called polymers – which is plastic.

Here’s a more detailed description of the process from converting crude oil to plastic.

  1. During the process of refining crude oil, paraffin, lubricating oil, and petrol are byproducts.
  2. These are then broken down in to monomers, which is a chemical substance consisting of one molecule.
  3. When 100s of monomers are linked together this is called polymerisation. The compounds formed are called Polymers and plastic is the common name for Polymers.

Most polymers are compounds made from combining carbon with another element like hydrogen, nitrogen, chlorine, or fluorine.

Natural plastics are found in naturally occurring objects. Here’s the process.

  1. Animals from which horn and milk, which are used to make glue are obtained.
  2. Plants from which cellulose can be extracted.
  3. Insects provide shellac, which is the polish.
  4. Trees provide amber, latex, and resin.

Interested? Read on below.



BLDC Motors and HVAC Efficiency

In the never ending quest for efficiency, the HVAC industry has turned to brushless DC motors (BLDC). Comfort, efficiency and affordability are paramount in the HVAC world and BLDC motors are making those innovations possible.

According to Sinotech, the world runs on electric motors. Brushed DC motors were first used commercially in 1886. It wasn’t until 1962 that the first brushless DC motors were used commercially.

An average motor lasts 20 years. Over it’s lifetime, the purchase cost accounts for 1% of the cash spent. Ninety-nine percent of the cash is spent on maintenance and electricity. Thirty percent of greenhouse gas emissions are from industrial energy use and electric motors provide 60% of the power used in U.S. industrial buildings. Globally, electric motors and their systems consume 43-46% of all electricity.

Motor energy use by sector in 2008 was as follows: industrial 68.9%, commercial 38.3%, agricultural 20-25%, residential 20-25%, transport 60%.

Globally, the HVAC market is expected to exceed $139 billion by 2018. Interested in learning more? See the infographic below.


Seattle Hazardous Waste Removal – Marijuana

With the new legislation in Colorado and Washington, questions have arisen regarding the removal of hazardous waste and marijuana. WasteXpress, a hazardous waste removal company, has provided a resource to shed light on how they recycle or remove marijuana waste.

Here’s a list of environmental effects following cannabis growth:

  • diesel fuel consumed for cultivation
  • methanol concentrations less than 24%
  • $14,900-$17,700 cost to rehabilitate damaged land where marijuana is illegally grown
  • release of toxic chemicals for pesticides, herbicides and fertilizer
  • fertilizer waste water removal
  • 46,000 high intensity bulbs for indoor growth used in WA each year
  • High BTU products like acetone, ether, glycol etc

Fortunately, there are environmental friendly solutions for these above issues. Take a look below:

  • biodiesel fuel made with hemp slashes emissions
  • methanol incinerated for heat value recovery
  • legal cultivators can grow by following environmentally friendly guidelines
  • public water treatment plants take care of fertilizer or it’s solidified and disposed in landfills
  • toxic chemicals contained using solidification/stabilization method
  • light bulbs recycled by hazardous waste pros

There’s more! See in the infographic below.


Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee

There’s no getting around it. We all love coffee. It fuels our day, it’s delicious, it gives us reason to get up in the morning (well hopefully there’s more than just coffee to get you up, but you get the point).

Most Americans drink coffee, and most of us drink at least one cup at work. Coffee is getting easier and easier to drink too. With the onset of single cup brewers and home espresso makers, coffee is becoming more of a necessity and less of a luxury.

According to C&C Specialty Coffee, one of the more unique types of coffee comes from the Jamaican Blue Mountains. It supplies .05% of the worlds coffee and is grown in a very humid environment with a lot of rain and very rich soil, 3000-5500 feet above sea level.

This provides for a very unique flavor only found from the Blue Mountains. It has a low acidity, medium body, intense aroma and low caffeine. Interested in learning more? See the infographic below.


Safely Disposing of Hazardous Waste

In 2009, the United States generated over 32 million tons of hazardous materials. According to Wastex, some of that waste was burned for energy, some was buried, incinerated, or stabilized for long term containment. Regardless of what happened to each material, it had to be labeled and transported according to government regulations, costing a large sum of money.

The major types of waste include:

  • Household waste
  • Industrial Waste
  • Automotive Waste
  • Radioactive Waste
  • Biomedical Waste
  • Pesticides

Most waste is generated by production and service processes, but 37% is due to pollution control and waste management. Texas generates most hazardous wastes (due to manufacturing) but California receives the most hazardous wastes (due to consumption). Read in on the infographic below to learn more.


Portland’s Edible Landscape

America’s green thumb seems to be on an upward trend. According to Landscape East & West, Portlands expert gardeners, over 50% of American households grow produce for personal consumption. An estimated 56 million families have grown food in the past four years and that trend is expected to increase. Surprisingly, the top reason that people decide to grow their own food is that it tastes better. In close second is that growing personal produce saves money.

The average Portland gardener spends five hours per week tending their garden and has usually gardened for over 12 years. Most gardens are approximately 600 square feet and yield 300 pounds of produce per year. Vegetables account for 75% of all gardens, followed by herbs at 39%, 33% are fruit trees, and 19% berries. The most popular vegetables grown are tomatoes, cucumbers, sweet peppers, beans and carrots.

See the infographic below to learn when to plant your produce and prepare for possible challenges of yielding a bountiful crop.

POrtland Infographic