The Green Guy Blog

This blog is dedicated to clean energy, the discussion of environmental concerns and all things to do with reducing your carbon footprint on the Earth.

I firmly believe that saving the environment is critically important to our survival here. At the moment we are definitely abusing the planet and draining natural resources without a concern for far enough in the future. We are dependent upon resources which are going to run out relatively soon and as a result we are putting all of our eggs in one basket.

I am hopeful that together we can see that this is not a sustainable way to live and that, also together, we can work towards developing and living in a way that is in the best interests of the planet and will work well for all of us.

In this blog I am aiming to write about topics that are important to me and that I believe should be seriously considered in order for us all to live in a way which is more in keeping with the sustainability of the environment. Sometimes I will discuss topics such as home heating, while at others I will talk about the specifics of convection heating systems.

Are Electric Heaters More Efficient than Central Heating?

The cost of heating your home is something that can fluctuate depending on your choice of heating system. Especially during the winter, the cost of heating your home can get pretty pricey. Finding ways to cut these costs can save you money, but it is something that needs to be thought through. Many people feel that their home could be heated properly with just a few electric space heaters placed throughout the house. This can be true, yet there are many factors to ponder before making this decision. Your house might be too big, too small, have too many rooms, too many windows, or be too drafty, no matter what the situation all of these aspects need to be put into consideration before deciding to cut your furnace off and buy a bunch of electric heaters. In the right type of situation, through thoughtful and strategic placement of electric heaters, efficiency will be increased and money saved. Here is a comparison of electric space heating and central heating with all the advantages and disadvantages of both, as well as, some important variables that will help you make the right choice.

Storage Heater

  1. Central Heating
  • Central heating is usually set up through a natural gas pipeline connected to a furnace, which provides heat through a system of ducts going to every room in the home. Most homes have vents that can be closed in order to divert heat to the other rooms. The problem with this is that some of these vents cannot be completely sealed, and even when closed still leak heat into a room where it is not needed. This is a problem because you shouldn’t have to pay to have a room heated when it is not necessary.
  • Central heating in your home can be adjustedwith a thermostat which makes it possible for the heat to turn on at whatever temperature fits your comfort level. This allows you to have control over the amount of heat used in your home, but when it is on it is still being vented into rooms that may not need heat. If you spend the majority of time in your house in the living room, yet there are vents in your basementwhich are completely unnecessary, then you’re are wasting energy and money by heating it. Also, when heat is distributed all throughout your house the air will get colder faster, so if it is going into rooms where it is not needed it is still affecting the temperature of the room you are in because it is being dispersed throughout.
  • Efficiency ranges for different types of central heating systems indicate that natural gas heating systems are in the 85-97 percent range, oil systems are in the 80 to 89 percent range, with coal bringing up the rear in the 45 to 60 percent range. This is where central heating really shines when compared to electric space heaters, especially to environmentally conscious consumers. This is because central heating systems that run off natural gas are getting the most out of the energy they consume. While electric heaters get their energy from power plants using the same limited fossil fuels, but up to two-thirds of that fossil fuel energy is lost traveling through the power lines between the power station and arriving at your house.
  1. Electric Heating
  • Electric heaters allow you to heat only the rooms which are in need of it. Being vigilant by making sure this heat does not escape the house can allow you to be comfortable while saving money and using less energy. Electric heaters also allow you to choose which rooms are heated and which are not. Moving from room to room only requires you flip the heater off in one room and flip another on in the next.
  • Buying the right electric heater is an important decision. Space heaters that implement a fan are the best option. It not only heats the room, but utilizes a fan to circulate the heated air throughout it. If you’re not careful you could inadvertently buy a heater that does not include a fan. These heaters simply heat the area right in front of it. If you are not directly facing that heater you will get cold fast because there is nothing to push that hot air around the room.
  • If you have pets or small children make sure that if you are heating rooms with space heaters that fire detectors are installed and working in those rooms. All too often space heaters are knocked over resulting in damaging fires. When purchasing an electric space heater buy one with an automatic shut off that is activated when they are tipped over. Also, make sure outlets are up to code and never use an extension cord.
  1. Combination of Both
  • Many experts say that in order to be the most cost effective and energy efficient it may be best to use a combination of your central heating system and an electric portable heater. This is especially true if your central heating system runs on electricity. If this is the case buying a natural gas, propane, or kerosene space heater may be your best bet.

Final Thoughts

Electric heaters can be more efficient than central heating, but only if you are heating rooms that are small and no more than two at a time. If you don’t fit into this category it is best to stick with your central heating system. This is mainly because electricity is simply much more expensive than natural gas. In order to compete with the effectiveness and cost benefits of natural gas, the electric heaters would have to be set up and attended to in the most efficient manner possible. People with busy schedules and don’t spend a lot of time at home are better off with their thermostats and central heat.

How Can Each Person Do Their Bit For The Environment?

Environmental awareness should be on the minds of every individual. Considering the dire consequences global warming, wildfires, and water shortages have, and will continue to have on each and every person, it is important for everybody to chip in and do what they can to conserve energy, reduce waste, and protect endangered lands and species.

Doing your part is not as hard or time consuming as you might think. We need to quit the talking and get to action before it’s too late. The future is now, and this list of simple everyday things, which anybody can do, will certainly help preserve our environments.

  1. Conserve Electricity

Fossil fuels are being consumed at an alarming rate. These limited resources, power our day-to-day lives, but they also eject Environmentalistharmful greenhouse gases into the air. These greenhouse gases are the number one cause of global warming and air pollution. In order to reduce fossil fuel use it is important to conserve electricity. Here are some great ways to conserve electricity.

  • Turning off all lights when they are not being used and doing the same with all appliances.
  • Try not to leave electronic devices plugged in. Some devices, computers, video game consoles, and cell phone chargers when left plugged in will still eat up electricity.
  • Instead of using a dryer for you clothes, use a clothesline. When you use your washer and dryer always load it as full as you can.
  • Make sure your home has proficient insulation, and energy efficient windows, to help keep electrical heating and cooling consumption down.
  • Make sure you close all doors and windows when running your furnace and air conditioner.
  • Do not set your heating and cooling thermostats too high or too low, find a happy medium and don’t use them unless absolutely necessary.
  • Use environmentally friendly light bulbs. They use up less energy and will last longer.
  • Reduce your use of hot water and watch less TV.
  • Use renewable energy sources wherever you can. Wind and solar power and great sources of energy.
  • Push your local government officials to look into and support environmentally friendly policies.
  1. Conserve Water

Freshwater is becoming more and more scarce and polluted. This life-giving resource needs to be protected and conserved as all life on Earth depends on it. Many countries are going through water shortages and a lot of cities still pollute their water supplies with sewage and other garbage. To conserve and protect water it is important for every person to do their part. Here are some fantastic, simple things you can do to help out.

  • Don’t waste water. Make sure you are only using as much water as absolutely necessary.
  • Limit the time you spend in the shower. Only turn it on when you are ready to get in.
  • Turn off faucets when they are not being used. Don’t let the faucet continue to run while you are brushing your teeth. Use it only when you wet your brush and rinse it off.
  • When washing your car fill up a bucket so the hose is not constantly running. Also, park it on your lawn if possible so the water gets soaked up in the grass
  • Fix leaking faucets and toilets.
  • Install low flow toilets and faucets. Toilets use up a lot of water and installing a low flow brand will save lots of water.
  • Only use the dishwasher when it is completely full.
  • If you have a pool, use a pool cover to avoid evaporation.
  1. Transportation

The most common cause of greenhouse gases comes from driving gas powered vehicles. There are many alternatives to driving cars that will help reduce gas emissions, and therefore reduce air pollution. Here are some ways to help the environment through environmentally responsible transportation methods.

  • Walk or ride a bicycle. Not only is it healthy, it helps the environment. Especially for short trips, walking or riding a bike will get you in shape and reduce wear and tear on your vehicle.
  • If you drive to work or school try to carpool. This saves time, money, and gas.
  • Avoid unnecessary driving. Plan your routes for travel in the most efficient way possible.
  • Buy a hybrid car. They produce very little emissions, and use very little gas.
  1. Recycle and Conserve Resources

Recycling and conserving materials such as paper, aluminum, glass, and plastic will reduce the amount of trash in landfills and Eco Friendly Phonemake the environment cleaner. Plastics are not biodegradable and pollute our lands and oceans. Use these suggestions to do your part through recycling and conserving.

  • Avoid using plastic. When you go shopping bring your own bag to reduce the amount of plastic bags you use. Plastic bags are a major environmental concern. They are used way too much and have seriously trashed our environment.
  • Recycle all of your cans, glass, plastics, and paper products.
  • Use bio-degradable materials. Avoid Styrofoam products at all costs.
  • Limit your use of throwaway products. Have reusable drinking bottles, forks, spoons, and knives handy to avoid using the plastic forms of these.
  • Limit your use of non-rechargeable batteries. Not only do batteries leak harmful acid, they cannot be disposed of easily. Use devices that you can plug in instead.
  • Buy paper and other products made from recycled materials.
  • Curb your use of paper towels and toilet paper. Use cloth dish rags and sponges for cleaning purposes.
  • Cancel catalogs and other junk mail. If you don’t need it, call the company sending it and tell them to stop.
  • Donate or sell old clothes, jewelry, and household items instead of throwing them away. Many people can find perfectly good uses for your old stuff.
  • Cancel your newspaper subscription. If you are able get your news from TV and internet sources you will save tons of paper. The energy consumption it takes to cut trees down and delivery a paper to your home will also be eliminated.
  • If you are an avid tea drinker, buy tea leaves instead of tea bags and brew them using a filter.
  • Don’t buy needless items. If you can borrow the item you need, or get it second hand it will save resources.
  1. Conserve Food

Conserving food and eating responsibly and locally is not only healthier, but will also help the environment. Here are some great ways to conserve food.

  • Limit meat and fast food eating. Not only is it unhealthy but, meat production uses up a lot of resources and wastes a lot of them in their processing plants. Fast food restaurants use a lot of this meat and a lot of land has been razed for cattle grazing.
  • Use leftover meat to feed your pets. This saves on pet food. If you shop at a butcher ask them for any leftover meat or even a bone for your dog.
  • Eat locally grown food and buy from local merchants to reduce the amount of fossil fuels needed to transport them. Growing your own food will also help curb the use of these resources.

Should Energy Conservation be Taught in Schools and What Should it Teach?

Energy conservation needs to become something every human being practices. Reducing energy use and increasing energy efficiency help improve the quality of our environment. Not only that, people who practice good energy conservation techniques will save money by limiting their use of energy resources. These techniques need to be taught in school in order to pass down the importance of preserving the earth’s resources to our children, and our children’s children. The reason for this is that just like any healthy skill or habit, it needs to be taught and impressed on children at a young age. This allows young children to learn and develop good practices of energy conservation and increase their knowledge of it as they grow.

Experts agree that the younger you start developing a child’s habits the more likely they are to retain those habits for the rest of their lives. Learning and developing fundamental energy conservation strategies, should be taught to children as young as 4 and 5 years old so those habits mature with age and never leave.

Now you don’t want to inundate young minds with depressing environmental realities. Teachers and schools need to make sure that what they are teaching children is age-appropriate. For example, you don’t want to teach a young child that they need to conserve water when brushing their teeth or taking a bath because if they don’t they won’t have any water to drink in the future and will die because there is a very limited supply of fresh water in the world. Not only is this way too complicated for a child to mentally process, it can and should be taught without going into all the specifics of why saving water is important. There are many books and websites that offer great energy conservation teaching techniques that can be effective without getting into all the depressing details surrounding them. Parents and teachers need to start by broaching these topics and techniques slowly, and then get into the more mature subjects when the child is at an age where they will be better understood. Simply teaching children that developing and practicing these eco-friendly techniques is good for the Earth will be explanation enough for them to want to help.

Schools are perhaps the best environment to teach kids about energy conservation. They have the resources and teachers necessary to make learning about it a cooperative group effort while still making it fun. Teachers can also impart this knowledge by setting a good example by modeling proactive energy saving habits, such as turning off the lights when they are not being used and unplugging unused technology. Planting gardens and tress, as well as, learning about endangered species by going to the zoo are other great activities that will make a positive impression on young minds.

Here are some of the specific things that should be taught to children in school about energy conservation.

  1. The Basics of Energy
  • Children need to learn about what energy is, where it comes from, and why it is important.
  • They need to be taught that energy is the ability to do work and that it can come from heat, light, motion, electricity, etc.
  • That energy is needed to do pretty much anything, from walking to school, to driving to grandma’s house. In order to for your body to be able to get up and walk requires you to eat food and drink liquids. This in turn, provides the body with the energy needed to perform any task. The same goes for the car. It needs to be filled with gasoline to power the engine to make the wheels move.
  1. Renewable and Nonrenewable Energy
  • Knowledge that the various sources of energy can either be renewable or nonrenewable is important for students to learn in regard to energy conservation. They need to understand that some resources are only available in a limited amount and cannot be easily recreated, while others can be easily replenished.
  • Children will also need to understand that energy resources can be manufactured into heat and electricity by a variety of different processes.
  • Children should be taught to identify renewable resources such as, solar energy from the sun, wind energy, geothermal energy produced by the heat from inside the earth, biological resources like trees, corn, and other plants and lastly hydroelectric power from moving water.
  • Nonrenewable energy should be focused on as well. Teachers should explain that this is where most of the energy powering our world comes from.
  • That fossil fuels are the most widely used, nonrenewable resources, and they include, (oil, natural gas, and coal).
  • Need to know that they are named fossil fuels because of how they are formed, over millions and millions of years of pressure and heat from the earth’s core turning the remains of dead plants and other living creatures into oil, gas, and coal
  • Also, learn that other nonrenewable energy sources exist, such as nuclear energy.
  1. Environmental Effects
  • Understand the ways various energy sources impact the environment, the impact of land and water usage, pollution caused by emissions, and the different types of waste products.
  • Students need to learn what greenhouse gasses are, how they relate to fossil fuels and their effects on the environment.
  • How the ways in which we use energy to heat and light our homes, manufacture products, and travel use energy from resources, and effect the environment.
  1. Ways to Conserve
  • Learn about ways in which our energy use can be lessened by making responsible choices.
  • Understand the difference between energy conservation and energy efficiency. We can find many ways to use less energy by conservation, but also find more efficient ways to use that energy.
  • How to develop habits and behaviors which result in less energy use, turning lights and appliances off when not in use, using energy efficient light bulbs, windows, cars, etc.
  • Learn about recyclable materials and the importance of recycling and how it helps conserve energy.

Is Nuclear Power Safe & How Does it Work?

The issue of safety concerning nuclear power cannot be discussed without first mentioning the three major nuclear disasters that have occurred since the invention of nuclear energy. These being the partial melt-down of a nuclear reactor on Three Mile Island, Pennsylvania in 1979, the 1989 explosion of a reactor at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine, and most recently the 2011 tsunami in Japan that led to the meltdown of three of the six nuclear reactors in Fukishima, Japan. All have instilled fear into the minds of people living near, and working at nuclear power plants, as well as, those skeptical of the stability of these power plants. Proponents for nuclear power say that its benefits greatly outweigh its harms, mainly because nuclear power is much cleaner than the burning of fossil fuels, (nuclear power plants produce no harmful greenhouse gasses) and just a small amount of nuclear fuel, can produce exponentially more energy than the massive amounts of coal or gas needed to do produce the same.

Of course, there is a major down side to these benefits, which comes in the form of sometimes deadly, but always incredibly harmful radioactive waste left over from nuclear fission. Unpredictable natural disasters, like the earthquake and tsunami that caused the Fukishima reactors to leak are also threats that could trigger a nuclear disaster. When exposed to this waste people can die from cancer caused by radiation, babies can develop life altering birth defects, plants and animals can become mutated, and environments uninhabitable. The issue of how to get rid of the radioactive waste is another concern that has yet to be solved. The only solution experts have decided is plausible is to simply store it in concrete or steel containers in underground warehouses.Most countries though, based on their continued use of nuclear power believe its advantages outweigh the disadvantages.

The safety precautions nuclear facilities have implemented to guard against nuclear disasters have provided workers and surrounding communities with a sense of comfort. There are numerous precautions and procedures that protect against potential disasters. To prevent the escape of deadly radiation from uranium rods they are housed in a very thick layer of concrete and the reactors themselves are surrounded by massive steel walls. Also, these steel walls are protected by another, outer concrete building. The cooling rods are hooked up to an automated system, which in the event of a disaster will automatically shut the reactor down to avoid a melt-down. The fact that there have only been three major nuclear disasters and considering there are over 400 nuclear power plants in the world, most experts would agree that they are a safe and necessary means of generating power for the world. Here’s how it works.

  1. Nuclear Fuel

The primary ingredient needed to generate nuclear power is the element uranium, more specifically the isotope,uranium-235, which is found naturally in the Earth’s crust. Uranium is an extremely heavy metal which makes it possible for it to be used as source of profuse concentrated energy.Uranium-235 is also fissile, meaning that under the right conditions its atoms can be split which yields a lot of energy. The manufactured pellets of enriched uranium used in nuclear power plants are about 96- 97% uranium-238 and about 3-4% uranium-235. The ½ cm wide pellets are then stacked on top of each other into the fuel rods of the reactor which are about 3 and ½ meters long. About 200 of these rods are bundled together, and the reactor typically has about 200 to 300 of these bundles which are immersed in coolant surrounded by steel casing.

  1. The Reactor

Now once the enriched uranium fuel rods are loaded into the fuel assembly the process of generating electricity can begin. In order to do this the uranium atoms need to be split by neutron particles to create fission. So when a beam of neutron particles is fired at the fuel rods the uranium atoms become unstable and split. This results in two smaller uranium atoms and two to three neutrons, which collide with the other uranium atoms,creating a chain reaction. The product of this chain reaction isheat, which comes from the release of energy when the atom splits millions of times. Now if this chain reaction were allowed to continue uncontrolled the heat would become so great that it would melt the reactor and all the radioactive energy and waste would escape. In order to prevent this, neutron absorbing control rods are installed amongst the uranium fuel rods. When they are released they absorb the neutron particles to reduce the heat by slowing down or stopping the chain reaction. These control rods can also accelerate the chain reaction by raising them out of the bundles of fuel rods increasing the collision of neutrons and uranium atoms.

  1. Pressurizer, Steam Generator, and Condenser Coolant

The heat from the reactor is transferred and turned into electricity by a series of three water systems or loops. In pressurized water reactors, (the most common type) there are three separate, interacting loops of water. The pressurizer loop, steam generator loop and the condenser coolant loop. In the first loop, (pressurizer) water is constantly being cycled through a pressurized tube getting heated to around 325 degrees Celsius by traveling around the hot reactor. The water remains a liquid even at these temperatures because the pressure in this loop prevents the water from boiling. This super-heated wateris cycledthrough a second loop,(steam generator), which is part of a separate low pressure water loop. This water is heated by the first loop and turned into steam.The steam energy thentravels past a turbine, which is connected to electrical generators. The steamis cooled back into water in a heat exchange in the third water loop,(condenser coolant), which carries water from large cooling towers to cool the steam back to liquid water. The water in loop two, (steam generator) can nowcycle back to be boiled again, repeating the process.

The Best Green Energy Fuels

Green energy fuels are a popular, environmentally friendly alternative to fossil fuels. There are many kinds of natural and clean ways to provide power for our everyday needs that do not cause excessive pollution. These renewable resources come in all shapes and sizes, but the one thing they all have in common is that they are limitless.

The following are considered to be the most cost efficient, popular, and effective green energy sources.

I. Solar Power

One of the fastest growing, cleanest, and most efficient green energy fuels is solar power. The sun has long been considered a Wind Turbines great source of renewable energy and the technology to harness its massive power is now becoming more and more affordable and widely used. The development of solar panels and cells used to power everything from flashlights to entire homes, and even entire power plants, are now being used around the world. These panels and cells store energy from the sun and provide users with an unlimited source of electrical power. Recently, an increase has been seen in the use of solar energy in homes and cars because many government programs are offering users of solar energy tax incentives in an effort to promote a cleaner, everlasting, energy source, thus now making it an affordable option for everyday, environmentally conscious people.

II. Wind Power

Wind power is great source of natural, clean, energy and is one of the best ways to provide pollutant free electricity to homes and businesses. Converting wind energy into electrical power through the use of turbines are being used to power large scale power plants, as well as, isolated, rural farms, where electricity is not easy or cheap to come by. Wind power has almost no negative impacts on the environment and the industry has seen a huge jump in the production, and use of wind turbines within in the past few years. Many countries are beginning to develop and produce mini wind turbines designed to power home appliances, and even entire houses. The great thing about wind energy is that it can be harnessed pretty much anywhere on earth. Many European countries are building huge wind turbines in the seas and oceans which border their countries. China and the United states are doing the same thing on their vast reserves of rural farm land in order to provide clean power to its citizens.

III. Hydroelectric Power

Hydroelectric power is the most widely used alternative green energy fuel source, and its popularity is continuing to grow. Electrical power generated by damming flowing or falling water has little to no waste by-products, making it one of the cleanest renewable resources available. Hydroelectric power provides limitless clean energy to large electrical plants which power large industrial complexes. They also are cost friendly to run and maintain. This saves communities tons of money in maintenance and repair costs. A typical hydroelectric plant will operate for nearly a century.

IV. Geothermal Power

Geothermal power is one the cleanest, most powerful green energy fuels. Produced naturally by the earth, it is cheap, and can be used for both large and small scale electrical needs.Though limited to areas where tectonic plates meet, where friction produces the heat necessary to produce its energy, geothermal resources are still found and used all over the world. More than 20 countries are currently using electricity produced by geothermal energy, and its popularity and use are continuing to grow. It has the ability to both, heat a house, as well as, produce enough energy to meet the power needs of an entire city. Technology used to capture geothermal energy has been growing, making it more affordable and trustworthy than ever before.

V. Biomass and Bio-fuel Power

Living, or newly dead, plant and animal matter, are some of the best sources of clean, renewable energy. This is because it can be grown relatively easy and used as fuel to produce electricity. Humans have been using these materials for fuel throughout history. Burning biomass materials such as wood to cook food and heat homes have evolved into large scale industrial growing operations. These are specifically designed to grow certain types of plants to be used as fuel to generate electricity. Biomass production and recycling is a growing source of green energy that reduces fossil fuel dependence, while at the same time reducing the amount of biological waste taking up valuable landfill space.

Petrol Fuel Drums

 

VI. Wave and Tidal Power

Similar to the way wind power is captured by turbines, wave and tidal power can be used in much the same way, and with the same effectiveness. Still on the cutting edge of clean energy technology, underwater generators and buoys are able to capture the energy of moving ocean water and use it to produce electricity with little impact on the environment. Energy from waves, tides, or ocean currents that are harnessed in buoys and underwater wind turbines are the newest renewable technologies being developed.