Clean Energy Overcoming Troubled Fossil Fuels

SunriseIt has been quite the year in the energy sector. Oil prices have suddenly dropped, rocking that industry and threatening thousands of jobs in North America, while giving a temporary relief at the pumps, ferries and elsewhere. Aren’t roller coasters fun?

Meanwhile, the renewable energy sector continues to quietly but quickly expand. Even generous government tax breaks to the dirty fossil fuel industries are not preventing renewable energy from gaining ground. Canada now has more workers in renewable energy than it does in Alberta’s tar sands. The spread will now widen as the oil industry contracts.

The news for the natural gas export market is also not good. Russia has far more natural gas available for export than does B.C. and their infrastructure is far more developed. Meanwhile, in order to keep alive B.C.’s dream of joining the big leagues, our government just slashed the revenues that will be earned from that industry. This is a gamble that we will all lose.

There are more troubles ahead for the oil and gas industry. Law-suits similar to those used against cigarette companies may next target the oil industry. So, too, international carbon taxes are threatening to make their product increasingly more expensive. Even some U.S. Republicans and the oil-friendly federal government are beginning to warm to the idea.

Why not? Per invested dollar, clean, renewable energy generates more good-paying jobs than those temporarily created by the fossil fuel industries. More often those jobs are found closer to home, helping families and employees enjoy a higher quality of life.

More woes for the dirty industries: the increasing resistance to oil and gas pipelines by many First Nations, ordinary citizens and even municipalities such as was recently seen in Burnaby. So desperate are oil and gas companies to pacify this growing movement that they are using green-friendly language such as “sustainable development,” “environmental protection” and even “clean/green energy.”

Given the fact that energy bills for electrical-powered vehicles is about a tenth that of fossil fuel vehicles, that 90% of fossil fuels can today be replaced by clean, renewable energy -and immediately boost world economies in the process- it is only a matter of time before companies and governments give up their addiction to dirty energy and provide us, and the planet, with superior options.

In 2015 Canadians will be given the option to retire fossil-loving politicians and usher in a clean, sustainable and economically improved government.

None too soon!

Clean energy sector jobs surpass total oil sands employment

According to a new report from a climate think tank, Clean EnergyAnderson_solar Canada, 23,700 people who work in clean energy organizations outnumber the 22,340 whose work relates to the tar sands.

While investment has boomed, the energy-generating capacity of wind, solar, run-of-river hydro and biomass plants has expanded by a whopping 93 per cent since 2009, the report says. This despite huge financial subsidies from provincial and the federal government.

This sector offers far more benefits than does the fossil fuel industry. Jobs are usually located much closer to where people live, the industry does not suffer the boom and bust cycles of the fossil industry, it isn’t a drag on the taxpayer, and it doesn’t damage the environment and people’s health. In fact, per dollar invested it generates more decent-paying jobs, and it tends to keep money in the local economy.

The fact that foreign companies are investing in Canada far more than are our companies and our governments indicates a lack of vision here at home, but not a lack of potential.

“Alternative” Energy will Replace Fossil Fuels

Wind TurbinesLanguage is powerful. The words chosen can affect our perception of reality.

Take, for example, the word “alternative”. This word has been successfully used by the fossil fuel and nuclear industries (and the pharmaceutical/physician world) to imprint the idea that we have to continue with the status quo, that those “alternative” ways of doing things are, well, not practical or suitable.

Wait a minute. Until fossil fuels came along clean/green/renewable energy was the only kind available! Think of the Dutch windmills, bio-mass heating/cooking (mostly wood, but animal dung and peat-moss, too), whale blubber oil and alcohol lamps.  Fossil fuels are the new kid on the block. In fact, Henry Ford built his cars to burn alcohol, not gasoline!

That “new kid on the block” is beginning to sputter. Despite heavy government subsidies to the oil and gas industries it is now beginning to cost more for their planet-altering energy than it does for clean, renewable energy such as wind, solar, run of the river geo-thermal and such. And if the the cost to the planet from carbon emissions alone were factored in the fossil fuel industry would all but disappear.

In fact “alternative” renewable energy can now replace 90% of fossil fuels, plus boost local employment, increase the world’s economy, make us far more sustainable, enable us to continue to live on this beautiful planet, and more!

Smart companies are already switching. The U.S. military is, too, as it makes them harder to detect and less vulnerable to oil shortages and supply chain disruptions. It costs only about a tenth as much to power a vehicle by solar energy than by fossil fuels.

Now solar is less expensive than is BC Hydro’s electricity, and technology can provide heat at least 5 times more efficiently than did the old methods.

So let’s start calling fossil fuels the dirty “alternative” to lean, clean, green, energy.

Tenants' Energy Solutions

Cost Effective Energy Conservation Tips for Tenants

Conserving the Energy You Use. Save Money, too!

If your landlord wishes to improve your home and the environment, and increase the value of the accommodation, please recommend our page for apartment owners.

If you are like most renters, you will probably not have a receptive ear from your landlord! Even knowing that your landlord could save money, have higher quality tenants, and increase revenues, he or she may not be willing to add to the investment of a higher efficiency home/apartment.

So here are some free tips for you. All of them can be done fairly inexpensively, depending upon what kind of building you’re living in. This information is designed to help you feel more comfortable in your home, save energy (and the environment), and ultimately save you money, too!

There are two main places where energy is used in your home: for (A) heating, and for (B) appliances and lighting. Let’s begin with heating, especially how heat losses can be minimized.


A. PREVENT HEAT LOSS

There are two types of heat losses: 1) air loss and 2) radiation through surfaces.

  • Air loss is through cracks in the walls, floors and ceiling of the upper floor. (Anywhere the house meets the elements.)
  • Radiation heat loss (heat working its way through a solid surface) is mainly lost through the windows, but includes the walls, floors, and ceiling surfaces.

1. Heat Loss Through Air Loss

ultraviolet heat map

    • Any building acts as a system that mimics a chimney, meaning air is escaping through the upper floor into the attic, which is replaced by air coming in to the other floors. The more floors, the greater the effect.
    • Sealing those cracks up reduces the “chimney effect,” and makes for a much less drafty home. Burn some incense on a windy day and/or when you have all the fans (bathroom, kitchen) operating to see where the air is going and coming from. All of these supplies can be cheaply bought in a hardware store.
    • Spray foam into cracks around doorways and windows. Also look for gaps around pipes that go through outside walls and ceiling, and gaps around wires that go through outer walls. Use gloves and protective eye -wear when spraying!
    • Caulk smaller gaps, such as around window frames and where air might be going through into ceiling light fixtures on the top floor. If you live in an apartment, why send your warm air to the next apartment up?
    • Use foam insulators on outlets and switches found located on the inside of outer walls.
    • Allow for some fresh air to come into your home. Too little air will create mold and other air quality problems.
    • energy loss through wallsIf you have a fireplace or older wood stove: if you can’t afford to buy an efficient stove (insert or free standing unit) install one of our very efficient fireplace draft-stoppers. The cover needs to have some insulation on the backside, and seals well against the fireplace. One of the biggest heat-suckers in your home. Older stove? Check all the seals on the door, and replace as needed.
    • Cover leaky windows with a thin plastic “window kit.” Many rental units have old aluminum single-pane slider windows, or very drafty older wooden ones which are the leakiest, coldest surface in your home! Putting on the window kits will make a huge difference on these windows. These pay for themselves in the winter within a month’s time, possibly as short as a week’s time. Big difference in terms of draft! If done well there is virtually no light loss, and they look okay.

Have a furnace? Check the filter and clean it often. If the fan motor is one that needs lubrication, make sure it is done yearly. Having a heat specialist check over your furnace and water heater is smart, because the units may need servicing. Your landlord should be paying for this maintenance.

2. Heat Loss Through Radiation Loss

  • The biggest single factor of heat loss is likely your windows, especially if they are single-pane windows. See suggestions above.
  • Insulate your water heater with a “blanket.” They say that one should avoid covering the top of the heater, or the cover to the pilot light. The blanket can pay for itself in a month. In our part of the world hot water is the single largest user of energy in a typical house, but even in an apartment it is a significant user of energy.
  • If accessible, put foam pipe insulators over your hot water pipes, especially close to the water heater. This is even more important in an unheated basement or crawl space. This measure can pay for itself in a month.


B. POWER REDUCTION

Appliances & Lighting

  • Fridge (one of the biggest energy users): short of replacing it with a newer, more efficient model, you can clean the cooling coils (back or bottom of unit) and use an old toothbrush to clean along the ridges of the top door seals. If there is space between the fridge and the walls you could also put solid foam between them and on top of the fridge. But first make sure that those surfaces do not feel warm (this may be a sign that cooling coils are found behind these surfaces). And do not cover the coils, exposed or otherwise!
    hanging clothes outside
  • Dry your clothes outside. Dryers use a lot of energy. Clothes dried outside smell a lot better. If you want to fluff them up after having them on the line then use your dryer for that (on the no-heat setting). Live in an apartment or don’t have a dryer? Portable racks can be set up in the bathroom, balcony, or where fresh air can get to the clothes.
  • Replace some or all of your incandescent lighting with fluorescent lighting. You could save 10% or more on your hydro bill right there. Especially important to do in areas where the lights are kept on for longer periods of time. The newer ones don’t flicker when turning on. And tri-light compact florescent lights are now available.
  • Get rid of your old “holiday” lights and replace them with LED lights.
  • Use dimmers, timers, photocells, and motion sensors to control the duration and power use of lighting. Be careful not to use dimmers on florescent lighting not designed for dimming.
  • If possible use programmable thermostats on heating equipment. Make sure that the thermostat closely controls the temperature, as this maximises efficiencies. Such thermostats will be labelled “Energy Star.”
  • Flush your hot water tank once a year. Instructions on this can be found on the BC Hydro’s website (see below).
  • Replace shower heads with high-efficient shower heads. The new efficient ones are much better than the old ones as you get a real shower with them, while saving a lot of hot water. Keep the old shower head for when you move, and take your efficient one with you!
  • Take showers rather than baths.dripping fawcet
  • Fix drippy taps. A leaky faucet can lose over 10,000 litres of water (hot or cold) a year.
  • Wash your clothes at the lowest temperature possible. Using more expensive laundry detergent that can wash at cold temperatures will more than pay for itself. The Soap Exchange or other eco-sensitive stores are worth checking out.
  • Use your dishwasher or washing machine only when full.
  • Check out BC Hydro’s website for more tips, and for a way to calculate your energy use.
  • Most electronic devices use power even when they are “off.” This includes your T.V., stereo, DVD player, computers and related equipment, etc. Virtually anything that’s plugged in. By putting most of these on power bars that can be switched off or by using programmable power bars you can save yourself enough to have dinner out at least once a year!
  • Rent or buy a power meter. You will be surprised to see just how much power you are using on various devices!
  • Ideas supplemented by BC Hydro

BC Hydro Guides & Tips

For more tips on how to reduce your energy bills, go to the Canada Mortgage and Housing website

Business Savings

Conserve Your Business’ Energy Use

blue buildingsDepending upon the nature of your business and whether you have taken advantage of BC Hydro’s program to lower your energy costs, you can significantly improve your business’ bottom line, especially after paying off your initial energy investment. Doing so improves not only the economic bottom line, but often the social and environmental bottom lines, too.

Government grants can pay for 25% of the energy upgrades to your building, and generous incentives are available from the utility companies!

How can you conserve energy?

Reduction in energy costs can be found in such areas as lighting, heating, insulation, programmable timers and thermostats or manually switching off energy users between uses, and more! These improvements in energy efficiency can be made to apartment and other multi-residential buildings, process plants, office buildings, fleet upgrades, food industry, and recreation centres.

Renewable energy sources such as solar hot water can be added, reducing the amount of current energy you need, as well as increasing your social responsibility within your community!

Our services provide you a free initial assessment of some of the possibilities. Should you decide to improve your triple bottom line through making the necessary investment then we will provide you the direction you need. You may be able to qualify for assistance for implementation from various sources -if we apply before you begin.

Advantages of taking these steps:

  • save money and improve on your bottom line
  • improve the environment
  • improve reliability with your energy supply, including reducing down-time
  • go “green” and increase the social responsibility of your business
  • improve fleet efficiencies

The Benefits of Shore Energy Solutions Ltd:

  • You will have a team of experienced energy consultants providing the guidance and expertise needed so that you can be saved from wasted money, wasted energy, wasted time, and costly mistakes than doing nothing at all.
  • Involving us before you start making changes means you can qualify for more incentives, often saving much or all of the service costs.
  • Most businesses have little to no experience in determining how to become more energy efficient. Not knowing how to proceed could mean costly losses to the business’ bottom line, wasted energy costs, and in lowered productivity. ‘Green buildings’ can not only improve business’s bottom line, but they are proven to greatly increase employee satisfaction, reduce sick-days, and improve productivity.
  • Our services will likely more than pay for itself, and lead to a superior end result.

The cost of Shore Energy Solutions Ltd. services is small in comparison to the ultimate gains in energy efficiency and renewable energy sourcesadding real value to your business, building and overall productivity! Our service will pay for itself by lowering energy costs, lowering borrowing costs, improving productivity and employee retention, public perception/branding, and an overall superior end result.

Solutions may include and not be limited to:

  • conserving electricity and other energy
  • water conservation
  • heat recovery
  • energy efficient heating
  • energy efficient lighting
  • energy efficient windows
  • solar power
  • passive solar gain
  • solar hot water
  • window insulation
  • building/renovation techniques
  • comprehensive environmental audit
  • preparation of Best Management Practices to address aspects that are ISO 9001/14001 compliant
  • adoption of sustainable green procurement procedures
  • implementation of an industry leading comprehensive recycling and resource program

Our team includes specialists in energy efficiency and renewable energy, indoor air quality and productivity, community planning, sustainability expertise and more.

Lower your triple bottom line by demonstrating your commitment to sustainability and increase the quality of life for your employees, customers and our future generations. Check out our many products and services and contact us today.

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Save Money and Go Green

Using the Sun to Create Solar Energy Materials

Solar Energy MaterialsResearchers have discovered a way to tap the sun not only as a source of power, but also to directly produce the solar energy materials that make this possible.

This breakthrough could make the sun almost a ‘one-stop shop’ that produces both the materials for solar devices and the eternal energy to power them.

Read the full article here.

Outlook for Renewable Energy 2014

Wind TurbinesRenewable energy has now become a technology of choice for many Americans,accounting for nearly 40% of all new, domestic power capacity installed in 2013.

Presently,renewable power capacity exceeds 190 GW, biofuels are responsible for roughly 10% of that nation’s fuel supply, and renewable thermal energy systems heat and cool a growing number of homes, businesses, public buildings, and other structures throughout the country.

This hopeful and optimistic report from ACORE (American Council On Renewable Energy) can be read here.

ACORE advocates that an America powered on renewable energy and renewable fuels is a stronger, more secure, cleaner, and more prosperous America.

The Outlook for Renewable Energy in America: 2014 shows the potential of America’s renewable energy economy to extend beyond one fuel choice or pipeline, to provide the country with an unparalleled opportunity to reinvigorate the U.S. economy while protecting the environment.