This winter caused a lot of worries and concerns for a lot of people who did not know how they can afford the outrageous increases in the cost of heating oil.

The sudden spike in home heating costs forced people to get creative and make their homes more energy efficient. Many homeowners took measures such as installing high R - value insulation in the walls of their homes, replacing old windows with high R value - energy efficient windows, and energy star rated home heating systems.

Like everything else in life, tough times call for innovative and adaptive measures. Luckily, the oil prices did not go up as much as was earlier anticipated. Slow economy did help to bring the price of crude oil down which in turn helped to contain the price of heating oil for our homes.

Hopefully, it will stay this way for some time and now that the winter is in full bloom, it may not be a bad idea to start planning for the summer when will have to deal with energy efficiency and air conditioning costs ones again.

In my previous post, I have suggested measures such as installing cool roofing systems to reduce the load on air conditioning and help with energy savings. House Insulation, Energy Efficient Windows, and cool roofing systems are all very viable options when it comes to making our homes more energy efficient.

Today, I would like to suggest another way to make our homes greener and energy efficient for the summer using what the mother nature has given us.

Planting trees on the south side of your home can provide the shadow for your house, which will reduce the load on you air conditioning and result in significant energy savings, especially if you live in a one story ranch that has a lot of windows facing the south side.

Planting the trees will improve the aesthetic appeal of your home. To do this right, would require some skillful landscaping on your part, but the pay back is well worth the effort; you get energy efficiency, a beautiful landscape and fresher air outside of your home.

What type of plants should I use to provide shadow for my windows and help with the energy efficiency?

It is best to use deciduous trees because they will shadow your windows from the sun in the summer, but in the fall they will drop their leaves letting the sunlight through, which will help to warm up your rooms and reduce heating expenditures. This would also work well with R -rated energy efficient windows that would let the sunlight in the winter, and help retain the warmth inside your room.

What particular trees can use to block the solar heat from my home?

You could use maples, burr oaks, overcup oaks and river birches. When planting the trees it is important to make sure that mature trees will be able to withstand the strong winds so they do not cause the damage to the home they are supposed to protect.

Another technique you could use is using the trees to cast a shadow on your air conditioning unit. This should be done with care as there needs to be adequate ventilation present.

In tough times we have to use every measure we can to fight the rising energy costs and global warming. Let smart landscaping be one of the ways to accomplish it.


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As Always, I invite your comments, ideas, suggestions and contributions. Leave a comment and let me know what you think!

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Burying the greenhouse gas

New tool could aid safe underground storage of CO2

Deborah Halber, News Office Correspondent
November 17, 2008

To prevent global warming, researchers and policymakers are exploring a variety of options to significantly cut the amount of carbon dioxide that reaches the atmosphere. One possible approach involves capturing greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide at the source -- an electric power plant, for example -- and then injecting them underground.

While theoretically promising, the technique has never been tested in a full-scale industrial operation. But now MIT engineers have come up with a new software tool to determine how much CO2 can be sequestered safely in geological formations.

The work will be reported Nov. 18 at the 9th International Conference on Greenhouse Gas Control Technologies (GHGT-9), to be held Nov. 16-20 in Washington, D.C.

According to the 2007 MIT study, "The Future of Coal," and other sources, capturing CO2 at coal-burning power plants and storing it in deep geological basins will mitigate its negative effects on the atmosphere.

However, injecting too much CO2 could create or enlarge underground faults that may become conduits for CO2 to travel back up to the atmosphere, said Ruben Juanes, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering (CEE) and one of the authors of the work. "Our model is a simple, effective way to calculate how much CO2 a basin can store safely. It is the first to look at large scales and take into account the effects of flow dynamics on the stored CO2," he said.

Already Juanes and co-author CEE graduate student Michael L. Szulczewski have applied their model to the Fox Hills Sandstone in the Powder River basin straddling Montana and Wyoming. They found that the formation would hold around 5 gigatons of CO2 -- more than half of all the CO2 emitted by the United States each year.

A geological basin is a large underground bowl between 100 and 1,000 kilometers wide and 5,000 kilometers deep that has filled over millennia with layers of sand, fine-grained clays, and other sediments that are eventually consolidated into porous rock. Some of the layers contain brine and are called deep saline aquifers. CO2 would be injected into the aquifers through wells.

The MIT model predicts how much a plume of CO2 will migrate from its injection well and the path it is likely to take due to underground slopes and groundwater flow.

"A lot of people have done studies at small scales," Szulczewski said. "If we're going to offset emissions, however, we're going to inject a lot of CO2 into the subsurface. This requires thinking at the basin scale."

"Despite the fact that our model applies at the basin scale, it is very simple. Using only pen and paper, you take geological parameters such as porosity, temperature and pressure to calculate storage capacity," Szulczewski said. "Other methods suffer from major shortcomings of accuracy, complexity or scale."

Juanes studies a phenomenon called capillary trapping, through which CO2, liquefied by the pressure of the Earth, is trapped as small blobs in the briny water (picture bubbles of oil in vinegar). The CO2 dispersed throughout the basin's structural pores eventually dissolves and reacts with reservoir rocks to precipitate out into harmless carbonate minerals.

CO2 has been sequestered in small pilot projects in Norway, Algeria and elsewhere. In 2004, 1,600 tons of CO2 were injected 1,500 meters into high-permeability brine-bearing sandstone of the Frio formation beneath the Gulf coast of Texas. Current proposals call for injecting billions of tons within the continental United States.

The GHGT-9 conference is organized by MIT in collaboration with the IEA Greenhouse Gas R&D Programme (IEA GHG), with sponsorship from the U.S. Department of Energy.

This research was supported by the McClelland Fund, administered by the MIT Energy Initiative, and by the Reed Research Fund.

This article was originally published by MIT and can be seen below:

Green Home Tips

Posted by Sasha Kirey On 3:43 PM
Do you consider yourself to be a green living friendly person?

Chances are that you would love to become greener, but you think that it is going to require too much time and extra effort. I know that it may seem overwhelming at first and you may feel like you do not know where to begin, but the reality is that it is actually quite easy to green up your life.

Let me suggest just a few simple steps that will help you become greener and more earth friendly:

Start Recycling

You know these blue plastic boxes the city is providing you for free? Why not start using it. It will only take a little bit of extra time to sort out all your plastic bottles and put them in that blue box. It is well worth the effort and it will make our environment greener.

Ride a bike when you can!

So, why not take that bike that has been seating in your garage for years and take it out for a little ride in the neighborhood next time you need to go somewhere close by. Biking is an excellent exercise that will not only help you build your legs, but it will also spare the unnecessary emission deposits into the environment. Simply put, Biking is healthy, fun and refreshing.

Get those energy efficient bulbs.

Next time you go shopping to Wall Mart or Home Improvement Store, why not get those energy efficient bulbs and replace all the regular bulbs in your home, or in the stair way if you live in a small apartment building.

Shovel Like there is no tomorrow.

I know winter is just around the corner. So next time it snows hold yourself from starting that crazy snow shoveling machine and grab a shovel instead! Shoveling can be a great exercise that builds muscles and burns the extra pounds!

Alright those were some simple tips that come to mind and can be a great way to get you started thinking about all the other ways you can green up your life. Now that we got our mind going, let's move to more advanced ways to green up your home.

Energy Efficient Home Improvements:

Here are some of the ways you can make your home greener next time you are doing renovations in your home.

Energy Efficient Windows

Are your old windows letting cold air in from the street and are difficult to open. Why not replace your old windows with energy efficient windows that will help keep your home warmer or cooler depending on the season and will save you tons of money on heating and cooling costs.

Green Roofing for slope roofs

Is your old roof curling and cracking? Perhaps it is time to upgrade to a newer energy efficient roof. There are many green roofing options available. Consider installing green roofing system made out of steel, aluminum or copper. Metal can provide excellent energy efficiency benefits and a new metal roof could last a lifetime of your home.

Energy Efficient roofing for flat roofs

If your house has a flat roof and metal roof is not an option, then you can still benefit from an energy efficient IB cool flat roof system that reflects solar radiation and can outlast most conventional roofs by a factor of 3! You could also get your roof set up with roof integrated solar panels that can provide some free electricity for your home. Talking about the ways to really go green!

You can find energy efficient roofing contractors listed in Specialty Roofing Directory.

Save money on heating

Turn down the heat in you appartment during the day and save some money!

As a tip of the day you can find more environmentally friendly blogs at Blog Directory by Blogzoop.

As always, I welcome your comments, let me know what you think!

Green Car Tips - Perfect time to buy a Hybrid

Posted by Sasha Kirey On 7:25 AM
Have you ever asked yourself a question of what can you do make your world better?

Have you ever wondered about the specific steps you could take to improve the world you live in and the way you interact with it?

Have you ever tried to attain harmony with the world and with yourself?

I know we live in a crazy and Volatile world where wars erupt all over the place, and world financial markets crumble under uncertainty and lack of confidence in the financial markets.

When I was thinking of all this craziness going on around us, it made me realize that there is not much a single person can do to fix it, but it also made me realize that an individual person can still change the world by making themselves a better person and better citizen of this world.

Well... I know those are some rhetorical statements, but what specifically can an individual person do to improve their own world and bring the positive changes to the world around them today?

I am going to suggest that now is a good time to make some positive changes... Let me share some of the ideas that I pondered lately.

Despite the slow economy and falling stock market, we have seen some positive changes in price of gasoline coming down from its heights of over $4.00 a gallon down to $2.59 in North Attleboro, MA. I think this is a great opportunity to take advantage of and I am not suggesting that you go and buy 1000 gallons of unleaded gasoline to stock up for the winter.

Instead I am going to suggest something completely different. Do you remember all the hype with electric hybrids such as Toyota Prius, Civic hybrid? I tried to buy one in the begging of the summer when fuel prices went through the roof, but it was bad timing because everyone else was doing it.

But, look at what is happening now? It is mid October, and the dealerships are empty of their customers. In fact, a friend of mine who works at Honda dealership told me that they had to let go of six sales people in just one week.

Do you see where I am going with this? Now, that the fuel prices are down, people are no longer in a rush to go to the dealership and buy a Hybrid. It means that you can actually get a nice hybrid and I am not talking about paying three grands over the sticker price, which was the case at many dealerships over the summer. Instead you can go and get the individual attention you deserve and buy a nice hybrid and get a good discount too.

Yes, the fuel prices are down, but who knows for how long. So why not try to improve your world and buy a green fuel efficient car that will save you money and help preserve our environment.

Now is the time to do it because, no one else does it. Remember the key to success is not doing what everybody else does, but rather finding the good opportunities and recognizing market inequalities when they present themselves.

Why not take advantage of it?

I will be sharing a few more ideas about making your world greener and finding a harmonious way to interact with the world, soon.

Please share your ideas and let me know what you think about taking advantage of the slow economy and low fuel prices to buy a Hybrid now.

You can find a lot of great of great ways to become greener and earth friendly when you Visit - The Leading Home Improvement and Remodeling Website Featuring the Internet's Largest Hardware Superstore.