The average home spends more than $2,200 per year on energy bills and roughly half of this amount goes towards heating and cooling, according to the Department of Energy. When a programmable thermostat is set and used properly, a homeowner can save about $180 annually. But the problem is, virtually everyone with a programmable thermostat doesn’t set or use it properly. Nest Labs, a Palo Alto-based start-up, aims to solve this problem with a new thermostat that’s simple, sleek, intuitive, and smart.
A few months back, the New York Times put a spotlight on the obscene energy use of cable, DVR, and other set-top boxes. There are 160 million set-top boxes in the US, according to the EPA, and these boxes annually consume about $3 billion in electricity. What’s shocking is the fact that about 66% of this electricity is spent when no one is watching and no shows are being recorded. In the home, the DOE estimates that two set-top boxes will use about 500 kWh of energy every year — more energy than it takes to run a new refrigerator!
One of the many friends of Jetson Green in attendance at Greenbuild this year pointed our attention to the ecobee thermostat, a high-tech, wirelessly connected, programmable thermostat. In addition to controlling temperature, ecobee also gives you control over the fan settings (allowing you to have the air circulation operate for a minimum number of minutes per hour). Ecobee measures humidity and can be used to control humidification/dehumidification equipment.
As the small wind industry grows, it’s becoming easier to buy certain models of turbines online and from big-box retailers. For example, Southwest Windpower offers the Skystream 3.7 through Home Depot and now offers the Whisper 100 through Lowe’s. Whisper 100 can produce up to 100 kWh a month in moderate to high winds, according to Southwest Windpower.
Carolyn and Kyle Cave, both university professors in Hadley, Massachusetts, built this super-insulated home to minimize energy consumption. Then they dropped a 20kW solar PV array on the roof and now use energy from the sun to generate a surplus that also powers this tiny little Wheego LiFe electric vehicle. I was able to ask Carolyn Cave a few questions about their solar-powered situation, and this is a portion of that response: