Ground Source Heating & Cooling Benefits

Posted by Sasha Kirey On 10:45 PM
Are you interested in green home design and green home improvements, so thаt you and уour family саn live іn comfort whilе saving on your energy bills and making а positive contribution tо the environment? If thе answer іs yes, thеn installing а ground source energy heating and cooling system for уоur new or existing home іs the way to go. Ground source energy systems uѕе thе earth's free, clean аnd renewable energy tо heat and cool уоur home. This makes thеm the most energy efficient, environmentally friendly, safe, comfortable аnd durable heating аnd cooling technology аvаilаblе today.


How doеѕ а ground source heating system work?


Geothermal heat pumps аrе similar to ordinary heat pumps, but іnstead of uѕing heat found іn outside air, thеу uѕe heat frоm inside the earth, which remains at a stable temperature rеgardlеsѕ of the geographic location аnd the air temperature outside. The system consists of a heat pump whiсh іs an inside unit аnd a ground loop, an outѕide system of pipes that connects tо the heat pump. In thе winter, underground pipes circulate water оr аn environmentally safe antifreeze, which absorbs heat frоm the earth аnd transfers іt to thе heat pump inside yоur house. Ductwork distributes the heat to differеnt rooms. Conversely, in thе summer thе heat pump pulls the heat from уоur home аnd discharges іt into thе ground thrоugh thе ground loop. As а result, ground source heating and cooling systems are able tо provide heating, air conditioning aѕ well аs hot water.


How much doеs it cost?


The initial upfront cost of a ground source heating system аnd іts installation tends to be steep, ranging bеtwеen $10,000-25,000. The cost depends on а number of factors that a professional ground source energy system installer wіll evaluate in еvеrу partісulаr case to сome uр wіth thе actual price. The size оf thе underground loop field іs what primarily сauѕeѕ fluctuations in price, and contributes to about 50% of the total cost. Factors that affect the size of a loop system уоur home wіll require include size of your land, quality of soil, size and insulation of уоur home, climate, usability of thе current duct work, etc. While thе cost іs high, installing the system iѕ а wise financial investment thаt wіll pay for іtsеlf in as lіttlе aѕ 7 years, аll the whіlе providing you wіth а number оf benefits thаt уоu wіll nоt obtain wіth аny оthеr heating аnd cooling system.


What аre the benefits?


Lower energy bills аnd Tax Rebates


An efficient gas furnace haѕ аn efficiency rating of 94%, whіlе a ground source heat system hаs an efficiency rating оf 400%. There іs no magic here, and the reason fоr ѕuсh high efficiency іѕ thаt a ground source heat pump simply transfers heat thаt alreаdу exists inside thе earth іnѕtеad оf creating it. This ultimately results in financial savings. The US department оf Energy estimates that ground source heating systems reduce heating and cooling costs bу аbоut 30-40%.


Since 2009, уоu can apply fоr a Residential Energy-Efficient Property Credit. This iѕ а no cap, 30% tax credit thаt covers the installation cost of а ground source energy system and іѕ аvаіlаble through the end оf 2016. For example, іf in 2011 you spent $20,000 on installing а ground source heating system fоr your home, уour tax credit wіll be $6,000, аnd yоur out оf pocket expense iѕ $14,000. To bе eligible for this credit уоu need tо make sure thаt the system you install meets thе requirements of the Energy Star Program.


Additional state and local incentives аrе avаilable tо offset the cost оf installing а ground source energy system. You can find out whаt thеу arе bу contacting yоur local аnd state government agencies.


Free hot water


Bills fоr hot water саn rеаllу add up, esресially іn the winter. A ground source energy system cаn be equipped wіth а desuperheater: a special device that cаn heat household water for free, whісh circulates into the regular water heater tank. In thе winter, the desuperheater сan reduce thе costs to heat water bу about half.



Durable and low maintenance

Geothermal heat pumps are highly durable and require virtually no maintenance. They have fewer mechanical components than other systems, and since most of them are hidden underground, they are not subject to the elements are are much less likely to break. The underground pipes are usually guaranteed to last 25-50 years, without maintenance. The heat pipe inside the house has components that are easily accessible for maintenance.

Safe

A ground source energy system does not require such potentially hazardous elements as natural gas, propane or oil to operate. Consequently, it is the safest system, and it poses no threat of combustion, flames, fumes or carbon-monoxide poisoning.

Clean

A ground source heating system does not produce any toxic fumes, such as carbon monoxide during operation, and there is no combustion. Moreover, there is more air movement, which allows for better air filtration.

Quiet

Unlike loud air source heat pumps, ground source heat pumps are designed to operate almost silently, without disturbing the inhabitants of the home.


Environmentally Green

Ground source energy systems are the most environmentally friendly way to heat and cool your home. A typical two bedroom house-sized installation is equivalent to taking two cars off the road, or planting one acre of trees. Unlike other heating and cooling system, ground source does not emit carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, or other greenhouse gasses, which contribute to air pollution and global warming. Moreover, ground source systems do not require a high electricity demand, thereby helping reduce peak grid demand and the need for more electric generating plants.

How to Get Affordable Solar Energy for Your Home

Posted by Sasha Kirey On 7:13 PM
There’s no question that energy prices continue to soar as the world uses up natural resources faster than they can be extracted and turned into fuel. This reliance on the burning of fossil fuels will no doubt lead to many problems down the road, not limited merely to rising prices but also to the environmental damage inflicted by the endless streams of exhaust created by these increasingly archaic means of energy generation. Now is a great time to think about how you can be part of the change towards sustainable and earth-friendly energy generation right in your own backyard.

What are the best methods of green energy for my home?




While there is no one-size-fits all solution for those looking to gain some energy independence, the fact of the matter is that solar energy is the best currently available alternative to fossil fuels for home use and consumption. The price of PV solar panels has been decreasing steadily over the past decade, and there are many tax benefits available both to homes and businesses that take the initiative in equipping their buildings with some manner of solar energy capturing capability.

Will I be able to run my entire home or business off this energy?

Again the answer to this will depend on your individual situation and energy consumption levels. Although the usual answer is that you won’t be able to, at least not while maintaining a reasonable budget for the installation of solar panels. The current technology and prices of that same technology make it much more feasible to merely augment your regular energy consumption off the grid with power provided by the sun.

What are some of the non-monetary benefits of solar power?




Because it is free and an inexhaustible resource, the most obvious benefit to sunlight is the fact that you are no longer directly contributing to the problem of overreliance on fossil fuels. You can also use solar energy for more than just power generation, there are many helpful guides for using it for everything from water heating to growing your own produce, all of which will help to reduce your reliance on the unsustainable and environmentally unfriendly practices that are so prevalent.

Are there any drawbacks to solar energy?

It’s true that solar power is one of the greatest ways to save money and the environment simultaneously, however, that is not to say that it is perfect. One drawback is the fact that the technology has not progressed to the point where it is a reasonable replacement for fossil fuels, although there are advances being made every day that make this less the case with each passing year. Another problem is the high cost of initial installation for many homes and business, although this is often offset at least somewhat by the tax credits and other incentives that can be taken advantage of by installing clean energy.

Lastly, one other drawback is the fact that it is difficult and costly to store the converted energy in batteries for use when the sun is not out, either at night or during bad weather. It can be done, but for the moment solar power is at its best on sunny clear days when there is a high level of power consumption that makes the additional electricity more valuable to the home or business owner at that moment in time.

Although it’s not a panacea, there is no reason at the moment not to look into employing solar power to cut down on your overall usage of fossil fuels for your household energy needs. And as the technology progresses, it is likely to become an ever increasing part of the nation’s energy generation portfolio, with an associated decrease in prices and increase in the quality and availability of service for those who were early adopters of the technology.

Author Bio

Sam Gerald is a staff writer for Do My Own Pest Control. When not writing about ways to protect the environment from harmful pesticides he is interested in helping homeowners save money and the environment through alternative energy sources. 

The Fair Pages - Socially Responsible Directory

Posted by Sasha Kirey On 9:26 PM
The founder of The Fair Pages, Liselotte Osterby, has asked me to spread the word about this new Socially Responsible Directory connecting companies and consumers...  Here is the intro (in their own words) to The Fair Pages, which I have agreed to post for you, my audience, to have a look at...

Changing the world one click at a time

In a social media world people are interacting with each other on a daily basis across borders, cultures and hierarchies. The actions of an individual in one part of the world can inspire people and stir things up in another part of the world. We are all becoming more aware of the connection we have with each other and of the effects that our everyday choices have on ourselves, our local and global neighbors, and the environment. But this new means of communicating is not only making us more aware of the effects of our unsustainable practices. It is also empowering us to actually do something about it in each our own way.

“With the simple click of the mouse, people
can put pressure on companies to act
ethically and responsibly”

A new category of activists

Today online platforms facilitate and attract new categories of activists – ordinary people like you and me, who may previously have been appalled or horrified by world events as they watched them on the evening news, but never found the time or the desire to participate in street demonstrations or other classic activism. Instead, with the simple click of the mouse, they can put pressure on – and influence – companies and institutions to act ethically and responsibly.

A social media-based directory for social good

Imagine if the powers of social media like Facebook or Twitter and traditional directories like Yellow Pages were combined to fulfill a greater purpose? Well, this is exactly what TheFairPages is all about: a unique social media-based directory for conscious consumers and companies, who want to make a FAIR difference for people, animals and the environment.

So TheFairPages is not only a directory for consumers to find FAIR and sustainable products and brands it also provides a social media platform for consumers and companies to promote, vote for and discuss what they believe is most FAIR to people and planet.

“TheFairPages was created to increase
awareness, share information and create demand
for products and brands that contribute to a more
FAIR and sustainable world”

– Founder of TheFairPages, Liselotte Osterby
Unique marketing tool for ethical companies

On TheFairPages, ethical companies and organizations can create their own free profile and market themself in a whole new way. Based on many of the already existing standards for sustainability, ethics and CSR, companies can tell consumers how they practice FAIR and sustainable business. They can also upload their logo and products, promote their offers, and write blog posts and much more.


Online shopping tool for conscious consumers

On TheFairPages, consumers, can find a lot of information about a company, before they go shopping. The social media features enable users to interact and follow companies, find new brands endorsed by other users, they can display the certificates they look for when shopping, and vote for what they find most FAIR.

The Future of Biofuels - Educated Prediction

Posted by Sasha Kirey On 5:13 PM
Given the current trends in oil prices as well as increasing global energy demands, governments are exploring and implementing a number of alternative sources of energy including biofuel, which is in a spot light of being analyzed by many vested and independent entities throughout the world.

Biofuels represent one of the segments of alternative sources of energy, and are derived from raw plant materials, primarily from corn, sugar and vegetable oils. However, before biofuel energy can be used on a global scale, science and technology will have to resolve a number of important issues. The reality is that along with environmental benefits and savings, biofuels have also contributed to an increase in the world food and cattle feed prices, shipping costs, and increased use of land to harvest biofuels.



Reasons for growing global biofuel demand

Whereas in the past spikes in oil prices have been short lived and often the result of military conflicts in the Middle East, the  present prices have remained at an all time high due to an increased demand for oil, especially from rapidly developing countries. In addition to large-scale industrial growth, consumers in these countries are also demanding a higher standard of living, all of which requires enormous energy consumption to meet these growing appetites. For example, almost two-thirds of recent global growth in oil demand has come from China and other expanding middle-income economies. Because the prices for oil have remained high for a such a long period of time, many countries such as the US have exerted more sustainable effort and provided funding for research, development and subsidies of biofuel technology as an alternative source of energy. As a result of these efforts, global biofuel production has tripled from 4.8 billion gallons in 2000 to about 16.0 billion in 2007, but still accounts for less than 3 percent of the global transportation fuel supply. Notably, 90 percent of production is concentrated in the United States, the European Union and Brazil. Other countries such as Malaysia and China are also in the process of developing and implementing their own biofuel energy programs.

Increasing food prices

Over the last decade, the rapid expansion of biofuel production has brought up serious concerns about the impact of rising commodity prices on the global food system. According to the International Monetary Fund, world food prices rose 10 percent in 2006 because of increases in wheat corn, and soybean prices, mostly from demand-side factors, one of which has been biofuel demand. This increase in prices has been particularly devastating for developing countries with huge populations living at or below the poverty line, such as China, Mexico and Indonesia. In response, the Chinese Government put a moratorium on expanded use of corn for ethanol because of rising feed prices.  China has also promoting other feedstocks that do not compete directly with food crops, such as cassava, and sweet sorghum. Mexican and Indonesian governments have had to take similar measures. Particularly, Mexico capped tortilla prices in early 2007 to contain food price inflation from higher priced corn imports, and that same year the Indonesia increased the export duty on crude palm oil, also used in biodiesel production, to slow the rising cost of domestic cooking oil.

Increasing feedstock costs

Another concern with regard to profitability and sustainability of biofuel energy has been feedstock costs. Ultimately, the profitability of biofuels depends on the availability of low-cost feedstock. Thus far it has been increasingly difficult to maintain prices low enough to maintain profit and price advantage over crude oil. In 2003-2004, feedstock costs ranged from 37 percent for sugarcane-based ethanol in Brazil, to 40-50 percent for corn-based ethanol in the United States. Sugar beets represented 34 percent of the cost of sugar-based ethanol production in the EU. With rising commodity prices, these cost shares are even higher now.  The ratio of crude oil prices to feedstock prices is an indicator of the competitiveness of biofuel derived from different feedstocks. For example, the ratio of crude oil to corn prices rose sharply after 2004, as oil and ethanol prices increased and corn prices were stable.

However, the ratio dropped sharply after September 2006, making biofuels less cost competitive. In Southeast Asia and Europe, biodiesel producers also faced declining competitiveness as soy and palm oil prices rose in 2006-07. Moreover, the competitive edge of such biofuels as ethanol is further reduced due to shipping costs as shipping ethanol is more expensive than crude oil. Ethanol cannot be transported by low-cost pipelines because of potential contamination from ethanol’s propensity to absorb wate,r and to dissolve impurities on the inside surfaces of multiproduct pipelines. To resolve this issue, Brazil and the US are considering building dedicated pipelines for ethanol, which may prove economical as production expands.

Land Concerns

Environmental concerns with regard to potential land requirements if biofuels become a more mainstream fuel also need to be taken into account. According to research from the University of Minnesota, devoting all U.S. corn and soybean acreage to ethanol and biodiesel production would offset only 12 percent and 6 percent of gasoline and diesel consumption for transportation fuel, respectively. Replacing all current gasoline consumption with ethanol would require more land in corn production than is presently in all agricultural production. Moving forward with dedicating so much land to meet such a small share of transportation fuel demand would not be profitable or sustainable, and therefore is highly unlikely. Also, expanding feedstock production in countries like Indonesia, Malaysia, and Brazil that would encroach on fragile rainforest areas and wildlife habitats, remains a major concern and drawback to expansion of biofuel production.

Other considerations

It is also important to note that while biofuel has similar attributes as oil-based fuel, it is not a perfect substitute. Biofuels can be used in existing gasoline and diesel engines in blends of up to 10 percent in the case of ethanol and 20 percent for biodiesel with little or no engine modification. However, ethanol has only two-thirds the energy content of gasoline, and biodiesel has 90 percent that of diesel. As a result, a car will get fewer miles per gallon the greater the biofuel blend.

Current Conclusion

Overall, the future of biofuel energy will depend in large part on technological advancements and efficiency gains. Ideally what needs to be achieved is higher biomass yields per acre and more gallons of biofuel per ton of biomass.This could steadily reduce the economic cost and environmental impacts of biofuel production, and make it a viable alternative source of energy.