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Updated: Dec. 7, 2019

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News Stories In the Past Year

  • Environmentally Smart Holiday Lights
    One Thing You Can Do:
    Be Smart About Holiday Lights

    Dec. 4, 2019  (New York Times Climate Forward)-The nights get longer this time of year, but not necessarily darker. Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, American suburbs are up to 50 percent brighter than usual, even after midnight. Our holiday lights are so impressive that they can be observed from space.

    The Department of Energyestimates that Americans burn 6.6 billion kw-hours annually using holiday lights. That’s enough electricity to power more than 800,000 homes for a year. But with a few simple adjustments, you can make your lights a bit greener.

    The biggest thing you can do is to switch to LED lights. If you do, you’ll use up to 70% less energy than you would with traditional incandescent bulbs. Plus, you won’t need to replace lights as often. LEDs last about 10 times longer.

  • Choosing the Best Home Fuel Option
    Gas or Electric?
    Which Is the More Eco-Friendly
    Home Fuel Option?

    Nov. 25, 2019  (Earth.com) —Researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have compared the environmental impact and energy demand of gas versus electric heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems. For an energy-efficient residential home, the study suggests that gas is the most eco-friendly option.

    “Fuel type is an important factor because heating and cooling accounts for a significant amount of home energy consumption,” said study co-author and NIST civil engineer David Webb. “However, little research has been conducted looking at the impact of which fuel source is used, gas or electric, on achieving low-energy and low-impact goals.”

    “We used a unique NIST tool set of databases and software known as BIRDS (Building Industry Reporting and Design for Sustainability) to assess and measure that impact scientifically, and then provide a research method for others to do the same for any climate region in the United States.”

  • We Can (and Should) Balance Our Energy Demand
    One Thing We Can Do:
    Balance Our Energy Demand

    Nov. 13, 2019  (New York Times Climate Forward)— Want to encourage renewable energy? Timing is everything.

    Renewables, by their nature, can be sporadic. The wind isn’t always blowing when you need those turbines spinning. Water levels in hydroelectric dams rise and fall.

    But energy demand isn’t sporadic: It tends to run in a predictable curve that peaks during the daylight hours.

    That means renewables, so far, can’t always fulfill demand reliably at peak times. Sure, we’ve got solar power, but that, too, is subject to factors we can’t control, like cloudy days. That’s why on-demand energy sources like fossil fuels, which generate plenty of greenhouse gas emissions, are still very important in our energy mix.

  • Look for the Energy Star Label
    One Thing We Can Do:
    Look for the Energy Star Label

    Oct. 23, 2019  (NY Times Climate Forward)- You probably recognize it. A sticker on a fridge or a dishwasher: the Energy Star symbol. But what, exactly, does it mean?

    Energy Star is an energy efficiency certification program run by the Environmental Protection Agency. To get that sticker, a product must pass independent testing by an E.P.A.-recognized lab.

    Energy Star refrigerators today use approximately 50% less energy than average ones sold 15 years ago. Energy Star LED light bulbs use up to 90% less energy and may last 15 times longer than uncertified ones. The washing machines approved under the program use about 25% less energy and 33% less water than uncertified ones, on average.

  • How Unwinding Can Cool Us Down (Not the Way You Think)
    A New Cooling Technique Relies on
    Untwisting Coiled Fibers

    Oct. 10, 2019  (ScienceNews)-A new way to chill out is simple: Just unwind.

    Called twistocaloric cooling, the method involves unwinding tightly twisted strands of various materials. The technique was used to chill water by several degrees Celsius, scientists report in the Oct. 11 Science.

    Cooling techniques like those used in traditional refrigerators rely on cycles of compressing and expanding gases. But those gases can contribute to global warming (SN: 10/25/16). So researchers have been looking for alternative cooling methods based on manipulating solid materials. Consider a rubber band: When stretched, it heats up, becoming warm to the touch. When released, it cools down. The same goes for twisting and untwisting.

  • View the 2019 State Energy Efficiency Scorecard
    2019 State Energy Efficiency
    Scorecard Reveals Leading States
    In Clean Energy Adoption

    Oct. 3, 2019 (inhabitat)- Just in time for the annual celebration of Energy Efficiency Day, the nonprofit American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) has released its 2019 State Energy Efficiency Scorecard.

    For this year’s report, the states leading on clean energy adoption are Massachusetts and California, while North Dakota and Wyoming still have more than a few strides to go before fully catching up. In step with Energy Efficiency Day’s message of “Save Money, Cut Carbon, Breathe Easier,” ACEEE’s goal is to share tips and tools that promote a clean energy future. No surprise then that ACEEE firmly advocates for effective energy usage to reduce consumer bills and limit pollution.

    Click now for the story and a slideshow.

  • The World's Smallest Engine Created in Dublin
    Physicists Create the
    World's Smallest Engine

    Aug. 21, 2018 (ScienceDaily)-Theoretical physicists at Trinity College Dublin are among an international collaboration that has built the world's smallest engine -- which, as a single calcium ion, is approximately ten billion times smaller than a car engine.

    The engine itself -- a single calcium ion -- is electrically charged, which makes it easy to trap using electric fields. The working substance of the engine is the ion's "intrinsic spin" (its angular momentum). This spin is used to convert heat absorbed from laser beams into oscillations, or vibrations, of the trapped ion.

    Click now for the story.

  • Increasing HVAC Heat Exchanger Efficiency 5 Fold
    Making HVAC Heat Ex-
    changers Five Times Better
    From Water Using Magnetic Liquid

    Aug. 1, 2019 (Science Daily)) -Researchers from Tsinghua University and Brown University have discovered a simple way to give a major boost to turbulent heat exchange, a method of heat transport widely used in heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems.

    In a paper published in Nature Communications, the researchers show that adding a readily available organic solvent to common water-based turbulent heat exchange systems can boost their capacity to move heat by 500%. That's far better than other methods aimed at increasing heat transfer, the researchers say.

    Click now to read this welcome news story.

  • Getting Rusty on Renewable Energy?
    Could Rust Be a New
    Source of Renewable Energy?

    July 30, 2019 (Popular Mechanics)) -Rust is often associated with decay and disrepair, but scientists at Caltech and Northwestern University are looking at rust differently: as a means of generating electricity.

    Rust, after all, is nothing more than iron oxide. Thin films of it, as the scientists show in a new study, could be used to generate electricity when interacting with salt water. Combining metal compounds and salt water is a well-known way of conducting electricity, since chlorine and sodium ions can carry electrical currents. The process can even be replicated in your kitchen.

    Click now to read the complete story.

  • Air Conditioning - Both a Blessing and a Curse   One Thing You Can Do:  
      Beat the Heat Efficiently  

    July 3, 2019 NY Times Climate Forward - A heat wave scorched Europe through the weekend and Americans are facing what’s predicted to be a very hot couple of months. Last summer ranked as the fourth-hottest on record for the lower 48 states, and this year’s temperatures are expected to be above average in most of the country.

    So, how do you win the battle against summer heat in a sustainable way?

    When it comes to cooling your home, you basically have three options: open your windows, use fans or turn on the air conditioning.

    Click now to learn what you can do.

  • N.M. Public Service Wants To Be Emission-Free by 2040 PNM Plans Early Retirement
    of Coal Plant With Massive
    Addition of Solar + Storage

    July 1, 2019 Renewable Energy World - On July 1, Public Service of New Mexico filed a plan with regulators in the state for how it plans to get to a 100 percent emission-free power by 2040. The utility reviewed four scenarios, all of which involved the early retirement of the San Juan Coal Plant, to arrive at its recommended path forward.

    The utility considered four possible scenarios for how it could most effectively meet the directive of the Energy Transition Act, which was announced on March 25. The act requires the state to get 100 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2045.

    Click now for the story
    and to see an infographic.

  • NY Will Pass Aggressive Clean Energy Mandate New York to Pass 'One
    of the Most Aggressive Clean
    Energy Mandates In the Country'

    June 19, 2019 Renewable Energy World - New York is poised to pass its own version of the Green New Deal with a climate bill that would more than triple the state’s solar capacity and aggressively promote development of wind farms off the state’s coast.

    The legislation calls for boosting the amount of solar power in New York to 6 gigawatts by 2025, from about 1.7 gigawatts currently. It would also have 9 gigawatts of offshore wind generation installed by 2035. None of the state’s power currently comes from offshore wind.

    The bill codifies New York’s goal of getting all of its electricity from emission-free sources by 2040. Achieving that would put the state ahead of even progressive California, which has set of target of 100% clean power by 2045, and other states that have set clean-energy standards. New York is also looking to cut economy-wide emissions 85% by 2050. Governor Andrew Cuomo called the bill “the most aggressive in the country” during remarks on the radio program The Capitol Pressroom on WNYC.

    Click now for the optimistic story.

  • Canada Will Add 36,000 Workers for Energy Efficiency Canada’s Energy Efficiency Sector to Add 36,000 Workers In 2019

    Electric Light & Power, Apr. 30, 2019  - Canada’s energy efficiency goods and services sector directly employed an estimated 436,000 permanent workers in 2018 and is poised to grow by 8.3% this year, creating over 36,000 jobs, according to a new report.

    These workers were employed across about 51,000 business establishments across six industries. Together, these establishments generated $82.6 billion in revenue in 2018 and were generally optimistic about growth prospects in 2019.

    Interested? Click now for whole story.

  • Big Buildings and Energy Inefficiency Big Buildings Hurt the Climate
    New York City Hopes to Change That.

    NY Times Climate Forward, Apr. 17, 2019  -New York City is about to embark on an ambitious plan to fight climate change that would force thousands of large buildings, like the Empire State Building and Trump Tower, to sharply reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.

    The legislation, expected to be passed by the City Council on Thursday, would set emission caps for many different types of buildings, with the goal of achieving a 40 percent overall reduction of emissions by 2030. Buildings that do not meet the caps could face steep fines.

  • Wind and Solar? - We’ve Got Efficient Light Bulbs America’s Light Bulb Revolution

    NY Times Climate Forward, Mar.8, 2019 - Solar panels and wind turbines get a lot of attention, but a more inconspicuous instrument is helping to reshape America’s energy economy right now: The humble light bulb.

    Over the past decade, traditional incandescent bulbs, those distinctive glass orbs with glowing wire centers, have been rapidly replaced by more energy-efficient lighting. The shift has driven down electricity demand in American homes, saving consumers money and cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

  • A New Way to Cut Down on Air Conditioning A New Fabric Will Automatically Cool
    You Down When You Get Hot and Sweaty

    Feb. 13, 2019 M.I.T. Technology Review -Too hot one minute, too cold the next. Anyone who’s engaged in office warfare over the air conditioning can tell you that trying to keep everyone happy is impossible. But what if we all wore clothing that adjusted to us, rather than having to fiddle with the temperature dial?

    A new fabric, developed by a team at the University of Maryland, is the first to automatically warm wearers up or cool them down as needed. When you’re feeling hot and sweaty—when playing sports, say— the fabric lets infrared radiation (heat, to you and me) pass through. But when you’re colder and drier, it traps the heat in.

  • No More Incandescents For America Come 2020 California Set Light Bulb Efficiency
    Standards 2018 - The Nation is Next

    Feb. 8, 2019 Energy Central -One of the least energy efficient products in modern history, the incandescent light bulb dating back to the days of Thomas Edison, was permanently retired in California in January, 2018.

    In 2020 for the rest of the nation will follow suit.

  • Georgia Utility IRP Falls Short on Efficiency Clean Energy Group Says Georgia
    Power’s New IRP Falls Short
    on Solar, Energy Efficiency

    Feb. 1, 2019 Renewable Energy World -On January 31, 2019, Georgia Power, the largest utility in the state submitted its newest integrated resource plan (IRP) to the state utility commission for approval.

    The plan calls for the retirement of approximately 1000 MW of coal-fired generation and the construction of 1000 MW of solar generation.

    In response to the IRP, the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE) said the plan doesn’t go far enough.

    “While we commend Georgia Power for retiring approximately 1,000 megawatts of coal-fired capacity at Plants Hammond and McIntosh, the utility is only acknowledging the inevitable with the retirement of these two minimally-operating coal plants,” the organization said in a statement.

  • New Years Resolutions to Conserve Automobile Energy Conserving Automobile Energy

    Greener Ideal, Dec. 31, 2018 - Here’s one that should be up there is both healthier on your vehicle, the environment and eventually, your wallet: fuel conservation for the long haul.

    I Will Drive Safer And Conservatively

    I Will Keep Up With Routine Maintenance

    I Will Plan My Routes More Effectively,

    I Will Not Drive Around The Parking Lot Looking For The Best Spot

    Details in the article.

  • An Inexpensive Large-Scale Flexible T.E. Generator Harvesting Waste Heat as Energy
    from a Curved Surface

    Solar Thermal Magazine, Dec. 20, 2018 - A team of researchers led by Osaka University developed an inexpensive large-scale flexible thermoelectric generator (FlexTEG) module with high mechanical reliability for highly efficient power generation.

    Through a change in direction of the top electrodes at the two sides of the module and the use of high density packaging of semiconductor chips, the FlexTEG module has more flexibility in any uniaxial direction.

    This improved efficiency of recovery, or thermoelectric conversion, of waste heat from a curved heat source, enhancing the module’s mechanical reliability as less mechanical stress is placed on semiconductor chips in the module.

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