No more paper (step 1)

I opened a bank account yesterday for Energy Emporium. I shopped around a bit, but really for small business banking they are all pretty much the same. The ones I looked at offer electronic banking and bill pay, which is important to me. I hate to write checks. I tell myself that e-bill payments save paper — which it probably does, but really I just hate to write checks.

If I really want to save paper that comes from the bank I need to take the plunge and sign up for electronic statements. I tried this with one credit card account a few years back. I got the email that says “your statement is ready” and I pretty much ignored it like I do with the other hundred emails I probably got that day.

Then I forgot to pay it until it was late and I got late fees and they raised my interest rate. I was very annoyed.

But, I’m going to do it again because it is important to my business that I do what every I can to avoid wasting paper. I’ll set up calendar reminders for when bills need to be paid and use an incoming mail rule that puts all the bank and credit card statements into their own folder.

The other thing I want to be much better about is backing up data. It is great to keep everything electronically, but if a hard disk goes on a computer… you can lose it all. After decades of using personal computers and depending on them for many things, I only bought my first back up hard drive last year.

From my mac, with Leopard, it is really easy to plug in a hard drive via USB and the ‘time machine’ takes over backing things up. That’s helpful.

Ok…no paper statements for The Energy Emporium. Have you chosen electronic statements? Has it worked for you?

Wind power for the home

Something I found out recently – Jay Leno is very involved in alternative energy solutions. He has this enormous garage to house his collection of cars and antique steam engines. The garage is powered by wind and solar!

My cousin Kaelin sent me a link about a new wind turbine that uses magnetic levitation to allow the blades to rotate without friction. This is a house mountable device. Here is a video of Jay Leno talking to the manufacturer:  Jay Leno’s Garage

EnviroEnergies, Maglev wind turbine

EnviroEnergies, Maglev wind turbine

Here is a tree hugger review of a similar product.

Everwind Maglev wind turbine

Everwind Maglev wind turbine

The cool thing about this technology is that it addresses some of the biggest problems we have with harnessing the wind: the mechanical moving parts fail after a while, you need to mount traditional blades away from other structures, the amount of wind should be fairly constant and fairly high.

This mag-wind turbine will start turning with winds of only 5Mph and does not make noise.

I want one! As soon as I figure out how to be a distributor or rep, I’ll get some for my store.

I’m very excited about the new products we are starting to see now that the ‘green revolution’ is underway. Did you see Obama’s interview on CNBC last night? He stated that we need to ensure that the money spent on the economic stimulus package is spent wisely. Some examples he noted of good spending include: “making sure that we are doubling alternative energy, and creating much more efficiency in our buildings and in our transportation systems,…”

If you come across interesting links for alternative products, please send them to me or add them to the comments!  Thanks!

Energy Emporium – the Store

The grand opening for the Energy Emporium of Enfield was on April 11, 2009, at 60 Main St, Enfield, NH. In May of 2011, we moved into 78 Main St, a zero energy building. Come visit!

Directions and Store Hours,
78 Main Street – Renovation

Come visit! Or call: 603-632-1263; or write: info (at) energyemp.com

Here is a picture of early renovations done by the volunteers of the Enfield Village Association:

78 Main St, Porch construction

78 Main St, Porch construction

78 Main St, March 2009

78 Main St, March 2009

78 Main St, back

78 Main St, back

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.