Measuring improvements … and door snakes

In past jobs I have managed test and quality assurance groups where taking readings, measuring output, comparing data, and recreating situations have been critical to doing a good job. I believe that measuring and documenting results is a great way to help understand how a system works and to demonstrate how changes affect the system.

Take your heating system, for example. If you cover up the drafts under the doors and windows how much money can you really save?

This is a complex problem because you would need to know:

  • How much cold air is getting in through the draft over some period of time
  • How much does that lower the temperature in the whole room or the whole house
  • How much energy is used in your heating system to bring the temperature back up to your desired temperature

Fortunately the energy experts have been working on creating some standards so we don’t have to do the complex calculations ourselves.

As soon as I understand them… I’ll pass on the simple answers :-)

In the meantime, buy some ‘door snakes’ — they really can cut down on the drafts and save you some money.

Or how about this one:

It’s cold out there!

New Hampshire in the winter is cold. And that cold wants to suck the heat out of my house from every crack.

I got a fun new toy for Christmas that lets me point an infrared thermometer at any surface to measure its temperature. So now I know that the temperature around the sliding glass door in my bedroom is 50F!

Ah, but when I close the curtains across that doorway, the temperature on the inside of the heavy curtain is 60F! It feels warmer already.

Air is a good insulator. Cloth traps air well, which why quilts have been used for so long to help keep people warm. Quilts or cloth on your windows or around edges of doors can help cut down on energy used for heating and save money.

Now that I know I changed the temperature by 10 degrees, I should be able to estimate that savings… I’ll go do some math and get back to you.

Starting Up

Starting a business gives me the opportunity to think about everything from the hosting service to the website design to the accounting and blogging systems to the physical retail space.

One of my goals in starting up is to think about product and service choices in terms of energy consumption or affect on the environment. I don’t plan to change my lifestyle over night — I don’t think most people can or should do that. But by measuring and learning about energy consumption and our carbon footprint (the negative effect we have on the environment), we can choose to make noticeable improvements.

On the other hand, there are times when you do get to start new. The hot water tank needs to be replaced, for instance. Or you are building an addition to your house. These are great times to look into a solar-heated hot water tank or a solar panel to provide electricity.

One of the first things I purchased for this new business was a website hosting service. In two of my previous jobs I was responsible for the IT services of the company and I have walked through some impressive web hosting facilities. Racks and racks of electronic equipment that have to be kept at a very cool temperature. You walk into a place like that and can’t help but think about the electricity and air conditioning bills.

I was very happy to find there are quite a few hosting services whose power is supplied from renewable sources such as wind and solar – 100%. And many others that are offsetting their carbon emissions by paying into a system that funds renewable sources.

I also had a list of requirements for the kind of software that I want to be able to run, and of course, I would like to keep the monthly costs low.

After some searching, I found this site that summarizes a number of different green web hosting services: http://www.ecobusinesslinks.com/green_web_hosting.htm

I decided on “Sustainable Hosting” which is described as “an environmentally responsible hosting company that is powered by renewable wind energy”. I like their list of software applications, ease of use, and the cost is $10/mo. I am going to add their logo to the bottom of this website both to promote them and remind me (and others) that when there is a choice that is less expensive or similarly priced, we can choose to help save the planet.

Any green products or services that you have found lately?

Renewable Recyclable Clean Green Resolution

My New Year’s Resolution is to think, live, blog, and dream GREEN.

About 5 years ago I bought an early model Toyota Prius and was immediately hooked on the game of optimizing my mileage. I was always good with recycling, turning off lights, and turning down the heat, but it just didn’t seem like there were significant things I could do that would make much of a difference to the environment or to my pocketbook until that car came along – 45-50 miles per gallon. My eyes and ears perked up. What else is out there?

A lot!

Over last few years many more products have become available that can make a real difference to lowering energy costs of the average consumer as well as helping our planet. But how do you find out about them? How much of a difference can they really make? Which ones would be useful for YOU?

As of January 1, 2009, my New Year’s resolution (and my new business venture!) is to provide product reviews and information about things that CAN make a difference in our lives. In the middle of 2009 I am planning to open a retail store, the Enfield Energy Emporium, in Enfield, NH. As a member of the ‘USA Solar Store‘ buyers group I will get a chance to work with hundreds of products and provide in-store and online demonstrations, notes, and technical information.

If you have ideas on products or technologies you’d like to know more about, please comment so I can put on the list for a future blog topic.