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The Short List of Effective Actions

Part of The Short List of Effective ACtions

This list of action items for individual energy savings is the most focused and quantitative I’ve seen. It comes from an October 2008 article in Environment Magazine by Gerald Gardner, professor emeritus of psychology at the University of Michigan-Dearborn, and Paul Stern from the National Research Council.

The actions in the list are grouped by whether they’re for transportation or inside the home, immediate or longer-term, and no-cost/low-cost or higher-cost. Each item also includes an estimated percentage savings of total energy use. Here’s an example of an immediate, no-cost action for everyone:

Space conditioning:

Heat: Turn down thermostat from 72°F to 68°F during the day and to 65°F at night

A/C: Turn up thermostat from 73°F to 78°F

Energy saved: 3.4 percent

Compare that to the language from the Department of Energy’s “Tips to Save Energy Today: Easy low-cost and no-cost ways to save energy,” from their Energy Saver’s Booklet (full PDF):

Install a programmable thermostat [...]

Solar roadways – a good or a bad idea?

Solar Roadway

At first blush, this looks like a fabulous idea:

http://www.infrastructurist.com/2009/09/21/dubious-green-schemes-the-solar-roadway/

Turn roadways into an enormous solar cell and get lots of other advantages like better new infrastructure.  A long while ago, I looked at making solar roadways (and parking lots and driveways and footpaths and….) under contract when I was at Squid-Labs : http://www.squid-labs.com/projects/cc.html

The very difficult thing about making a road is making it structurally sound enough to carry vehicles.  That means it has to take very high loads, and be very durable for up to 50 years.

So putting a solar cell there is completely possible, but then you’ll need to put some protective material on top that has some texture (so the roads are not slippery) and enough resilience to last a long time.  The problem is that that protective material uses A LOT of energy to produce.  Perhaps the company pitching this idea has some magic special sauce up their [...]

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