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Unexpected Energy Savings from Eliminating Cable TV!
Jun 4, 2009 by

Like everybody we’re trying to save some money these days and after much deliberation, Jocelyn and I decided we could do without live sports (or at least we could watch them in public somewhere) and so we decided to get rid of all but high speed internet access from the cable company.  I realize this solution isn’t for everybody, but we had 2 DVRs (living room/bedroom) and a regular box (guest room) and, although this wasn’t a factor in our choice, the biggest surprise was we lowered our baseload electricity usage by about 100/110 watts.  I figured this out using TED our energy monitor. (www.theenergydetective.com)

Our TED Energy Monitor

Our TED Energy Monitor

TED works great for keeping an eye on your baseline average use, and for monitoring peaks in your usage.  I’ve never tried the Kill a Watt (www.p3international.com) but I’m planning to get one to check out individual devices with more accuracy which should be particularly helpful for determining “phantom” power draws of chargers and lamps and things.  The TED only has a 10 watt resolution so it doesn’t register the effect of small things like trickle chargers and LED clocks.

Anyway, I did the math and determined that, only factoring in the base load savings, getting rid of cable will probably save us almost 2 months of electricity at our current usage of just under 400KWH a month.  Not having an “always needs to be on” DVR also allowed me to install a switching power strip to the TV area where the amplifier alone draws a whopping 30 watts when it’s off!

How do we survive without cable TV?  The first crisis came when I came home and realized I HAD NO IDEA WHAT TIME IT WAS!  Yup, that ubiquitous cable box clock provides an atomic accurate time stamp that’s become the standard for BBQ timing and New Years revelry alike!  So first we got a clock and put it in the empty space where the DVR used to be.  Then we hooked up a ROKU box (www.roku.com) and an Apple TV.  The ROKU box streams content from your Netflix account and also allows you to buy or rent off the Amazon website.  The Apple TV let’s you view content from your I-Tunes account as well as buy or rent from the I-Tunes store.  The streamable selections in Netflix are pretty limited but we’ve been watching tons of interesting documentaries (these make great background while we’re preparing our home cooked meals made with farm fresh ingredients from Totman’s CSA!)  We also watched the first two seasons of 30 Rock in a crack-like frenzy when we first hooked ROKU up.  Lately we’ve been watching the new season by buying it on Apple TV but are doling it out an episode a week so as to savor it more.  (We learned our lesson during the bleak couple of weeks we withdrew from the first two seasons of 30 Rock!)  It’s an extra buck for HD so after testing the SD wide screen format vs HD,  we’ve been opting for the SD signal which looks great.  Apple TVs streams and downloads look a LOT better than those you get from Amazon right now, so I’m a big fan of the Apple TV and can’t quite figure out why everybody doesn’t have one.

I also got special cables to connect my MacBook Pro to the TV and we’ve been watching the latest season of CSI on streaming downloads from IMDB for FREE!  These are shown with commercials (hence the free part) but so far they’re only showing one every break.

But the biggest lesson we’ve learned is how much energy we were sucking up 24/7/365 with an accurate time-clock being the only justifiable outcome.  I think even if we went back to Cable again I’d probably put the DVR on a programmable timer so it wouldn’t have to be on all the time.  So hopefully this will encourage you all to think about your energy suckers and dump them or put a switch on them today!

Old Wood Is New Coal
Jun 3, 2009 by

“Power companies are burning more trees because the renewable fuel can be cheaper than coal and ignited without needing permits to release carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas blamed for global warming.”

Full article: http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=newsarchive&sid=ardNIC7rNzQE

Germany’s Wind Farms Jeopardized by Tight Funding
Jun 3, 2009 by

“As much as 100 billion euros ($143 billion) in planned investments in German offshore wind farms are at risk as developers struggle to get funding, jeopardizing the deepest emissions cuts in the European Union.”

Full article: http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=newsarchive&sid=aYoYkIa1Di38

Energy Anarchist Christopher Totman!
Jun 2, 2009 by

Meet our friend Christopher Totman. He was a successful fashion designer with 2 stores here in trendy Nolita neighborhood and one out in East Hampton. He also had his own factory with 600 employees over in India. He always strived to know his suppliers and provide socially conscious manufactured clothing designs. Unfortunately, his business couldn’t survive the latest economic meltdown, but resilient he is. It turns out his family has been farming a piece of land in the Berkshires that was deeded to them by the King (not Elvis) but the one from England back in the 1600s. Through all these generations, they’ve always kept it intact and available to anyone in the family who wanted to farm it and after the clothing business went belly up he’s moved up there and is working a 10 acre plot of his own and learning to keep bees.

Being an industrious and entrepeneurial sort he met all these neighbors who are growing and making amazing organic products and he’s created a pilot CSA program. There’s 16 of us so far. He’s trying to get 20 total and he’s going to drive down to Manhattan every Tuesday afternoon with whatever’s good for harvest that week. We signed up, since eating in is the new eating out and tonight received our first delivery. He drove down in his tiny little Mitsubishi pickup truck with the tailgate full of coolers and hooked us up with all this great stuff pictured below! He’s running way behind schedule because it’s the first time around and he’s chatting way too much with everybody. You could tell he felt pretty excited about being able to introduce his friends with all this great stuff. Check it out!

That’s raw milk yogurt with maple flavoring, some chive encrusted goat cheese, a pound of grass fed free range ground beef some maple syrup that’s the much coveted light amber early tap style and some south river miso that’s grown using only horse drawn farm implements on a farm that exists totally off the grid!

Then we got two rounds of delicious brick oven bread and fresh “vanilla celebration” granola. The bread came out of the oven at 2pm this afternoon.

The Mesculin was hand harvested at 9am this morning as was the spinach. There’s these cool japanese radishes and then tucked behind one of the two heads of red leaf lettuce there’s these really cool looking red radishes that I didn’t get into the picture. The radishes are flanking a nice bundle of arugula.

The red radishes show up in a later picture. A little blurry in the background but I had to also get a shot in of the GIANT 6 inch round, 1 inch thick chocolate cookie that tasted just like a brownie! (We ate this first.)

Christopher’s bounty is helping to support sustainable farmers in his neighborhood and he’s helping us establish a direct connection to our food which we now know comes from less than 200 miles away from our home.  It’s all grown pesticide free, and the Miso farmer is totally off the grid using horse drawn implements.  You’ll see more of Christopher as the blog develops because he has a lot of plans for his new homestead.  For example he had the mirrors in his store cut up and he’s going to build them into a big solar collector to heat water in the treehouse he’s building out of wood recycled from an old barn they took down on the property (which also provided the sideboards for his raised vegetable beds.)

There’s the whole spread. Week one of Farmer Totman’s “better than organic” farm fresh CSA bounty! Now it’s time to plan some meals.

Hope you guys enjoy sharing in the bounty, if only via pictures!  Way to go Totman!  Farmer and Energy Anarchist!

Biomass Power Generates Traction
Jun 1, 2009 by

“While solar power is taking root in the sunny Southwest and wind power is growing in the blustery band from the Dakotas to Texas, other places are turning to trees and grass as their best bet for producing renewable energy, leading to a new building boom in “biomass” power plants.”

Full article: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124381655398570779.html

Trying to Expand the Meaning of ‘Renewable Energy’
May 25, 2009 by

The definition of renewable energy seems clear cut: The sun continues to shine, so solar energy is renewable. The wind continues to blow, so wind turbines churn out renewable power.

“But industries are now pushing to have a growing number of other technologies categorized as renewable — or at least as environmentally advantageous. They include nuclear power plants and the burning of garbage and even the waste from coal mines.”

Full article: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/25/business/energy-environment/25renew.html

Mow Power, Less Gas
May 21, 2009 by

“It’s shaping up to be the summer of the “alternative energy” outdoor power tools. From battery mowers and garden cultivators to a new propane-propelled string trimmer, manufacturers and retailers are rolling out consumer machines that run on gas substitutes and boast lower emissions and fewer maintenance headaches.”

Full article: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124287213257242057.html

Edison’s 230-Mile ‘Extension Cord’ Fuels Fight Over U.S. Grid
May 12, 2009 by

“Fortifying the 211,000 miles of cables that form the core of the U.S. electrical grid raises issues as public as national energy policy and as private as a backyard view. The political fight for control may help determine whether the U.S. fulfills President Barack Obama’s goal of doubling renewable energy use in three years.”

Full article: http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=newsarchive&sid=a7TZsBYC.Trg

Trash Has Role in Energy Plan
May 11, 2009 by

Waste Management, Republic Services Inc. and Covanta Holding Corp. say their success producing power from landfills and waste incinerators is being ignored as the U.S. doles out $60 billion in energy grants and tax breaks from President Obama’s economic stimulus.”

Full article: http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=newsarchive&sid=aZmjj63scnaU

Electricity From Corn May Propel Cars Further Than Biofuels
May 8, 2009 by

“Burning sugar cane or corn to make electricity for powering cars may be smarter than refining the crops into biofuels.

“That’s because the vehicles may travel farther on “bioelectricity.”

“The improvement in mileage is about 80 percent, said Elliot Campbell, a researcher at the University of California at Merced. Turning food into electric-car fuel also releases less carbon dioxide gas compared with burning biofuels made from the same plants.”

Full article: http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=newsarchive&sid=aBMjtwiB_fHg

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