LED Lighting Explained: Questions and Answers

LED technology continues to develop rapidly as a general light source. As more LED lighting products are introduced on the market, what do retailers, energy efficiency advocates, and consumers need to know to make informed buying decisions? Are LEDs ready for general consumer use? The number of white-light LED products available on the market continues […]


Geothermal Resource Definitions

Part 3 of Geothermal Energy Under Our Feet. The total resource base in the United States, both renewable and non-renewable, is very large, with an energy content of over 657,000 billion barrels of oil equivalent (BBOE), or nearly 50,000 times the annual current rate of national energy consumption. Figure 1 shows graphically what the total […]


Health & Safety Questions About Nuclear Explosions

With the recent threats of terrorism, many people have expressed concern about the likelihood and effects of a nuclear explosion. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has developed this fact sheet to describe what happens when a nuclear explosion occurs, the possible health effects, and what you can do to protect yourself in […]


Who Oversees Nuclear Power Plants in the United States?

In the United States, more than 100 nuclear reactors supply about 20% of our electricity. Worldwide, more than 400 reactors provide 17% of the world’s electricity. Nuclear power plants produce electricity through a heat-generating process known as “fission,” in which neutrons split uranium atoms to produce large amounts of energy. This process also creates some […]


No Excess Mortality Risk Found in Counties with Nuclear Facilities

A National Cancer Institute (NCI) survey published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, March 20, 1991, showed no general increased risk of death from cancer for people living in 107 U.S. counties containing or closely adjacent to 62 nuclear facilities. The facilities in the survey had all begun operation before 1982.  Included were […]


Ethanol: Separating Fact from Fiction

When energy prices soared during the 1970s, most Americans recognized the inherent danger in the U.S.’s dependence on imported petroleum. Despite current complacency, the potential economic and national security threats have not diminished. In 1995 the United States exceeded the level of imported petroleum it reached during the 1970s. Today, in fact, more than half […]


Steering Toward the Future & Resources

Part 13 of Advanced Technology and Alternative Fuel Vehicles. Automakers and researchers will continue to develop and improve on the transportation technologies we’ve discussed. They’re exploring better ways to use fuel cells, alternative fuels, and EV and HEV systems. They are also working on new ways to store energy, and creating lightweight advanced materials to […]


Selecting a Heat Pump

Part 3 of Air-Source Heat Pumps. When selecting an air-source heat pump, consider the following three characteristics carefully: the energy efficiency rating, sizing, and the system’s components. Energy efficiency rating In the United States, we rate a heat pump’s energy efficiency by how many British thermal units (Btu) of heat it moves for each watt-hour […]


Zero Energy Community, Vista Monta

Part 1 of Zero Energy Community. Vista Montaña In August 2003, Clarum Homes opened the doors at Vista Montaña, California’s largest Zero Energy Home community, with homes designed to use almost zero net electricity over the course of a year. Built on a former apple orchard, all homes in the development will harvest the sun to […]


What should you know about warranties?

Part 16 of Get Your Power from the Sun. Warranties are key to ensuring that your photovoltaic system will be repaired if something should malfunction during the warranty period. photovoltaic systems eligible for some solar rebate programs must carry a full (not “limited”) two-year warranty, in addition to any manufacturers’ warranties on specific components. This […]


How do you get an interconnection agreement?

Part 14 of Get Your Power from the Sun. Connecting your photovoltaic system to the utility grid will require an interconnection agreement and a purchase and sale agreement. Federal law and some state public utility commission regulations require utilities to supply you with an interconnection agreement. Some utilities have developed simplified, standardized interconnection agreements for […]


Are incentives available to help reduce the cost?

Part 3 of Get Your Power from the Sun. Yes, many states offer incentives. For specific information, call one of the contacts listed under “Getting Help”. Another excellent source is the National Database of State Incentives for Renewable Energy (DSIRE). Prepared by the North Carolina Solar Center, this database contains information on financial and regulatory […]


Resources: Elements of an Energy-Efficient House

Part 8 of Elements of an Energy-Efficient House. The following are sources of additional information on energy-efficient houses: The Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Clearinghouse (EREC) P.O. Box 3048 Merrifield, VA22116 1-800-DOE-EREC (1-800-363-3732) EREC provides free general and technical information to the public on many topics and technologies pertaining to energy efficiency and renewable energy. […]


Save Money with Better Insulation and Weatherization

Part 3 of Ways to Save Money on Energy at Home. Checking your home’s insulating system is one of the fastest and most cost-efficient ways to use a whole-house approach to reduce energy waste and maximize your energy dollars. A good insulating system includes a combination of products and construction techniques that provide a home […]


Choosing a Programmable Thermostat

Part 3 of Automatic and Programmable Thermostats. Because programmable thermostats are a relatively new technology, you should learn as much as you can before selecting a unit. When shopping for a thermostat, bring information with you about your current unit, including the brand and model number. Also, ask these questions before buying a thermostat: Does […]


Options that Increase Window Efficiency

Part 2 of Advances in Glazing Materials for Windows. Manufacturers usually represent the energy efficiency of windows in terms of their U-values (conductance of heat) or their R-values (resistance to heat flow). If a window’s R-value is high, it will lose less heat than one with a lower R-value. Conversely, if a window’s U-value is […]


Save Energy by Cooling Your Home Naturally

Part 7 of Cool Your Home Naturally. Using any or all of these strategies will help keep you cool. Even if you use air conditioning, many of these strategies, particularly reflecting heat and shading, will help reduce the energy costs of running an air conditioner. However, adopting all of these strategies may not be enough. […]


Blocking the Heat

Part 3 of Cool Your Home Naturally. Two excellent methods to block heat are insulation and shading. Insulation helps keep your home comfortable and saves money on mechanical cooling systems such as air conditioners and electric fans. Shading devices block the sun’s rays and absorb or reflect the solar heat. Insulation Weatherization measures—such as insulating, […]