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Firefly is a New VAWT Small Wind Turbine

South Carolina-based Firefly Power is one of 20 other social- or environmentally-inclined companies presenting at the i2i Awards program in conjunction with SXSW Eco in Austin through Friday, October 5, 2012.  The company makes lightweight small wind turbines out of carbon-fiber blades in the vertical axis form.  The residential unit is rated at 1.8 kW, weighs less than 60 pounds, cuts in at 10 mph winds, and is expected to sell for about $7,000, according to Firefly Power.

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Nest Announces New Ultra-Thin Thermostat

If you’re in the market for a better thermostat, you should know the new, second-generation Nest Learning Thermostat was announced this week.  It’s 20% thinner and works in 95% of homes with low-voltage systems (including 2nd stage cooling, 3rd stage heating, dual fuel, emergency heat, and whole-home humidifiers and dehumidifiers), thanks to new hardware, improved software, more features, and more apps.  Based on updated pricing, the first Nest is now selling for $229, as supplies last, and the new Nest is selling for $249, with first orders expected to ship on October 15, 2012.

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Solar-Powered Canopy for an Urban Tower

Turns out the Rhône Alpes team from France with the Canopea house won Solar Decathlon Europe held in Madrid.  Their home is actually the top of a conceptual “Nanotower” that the team proposed to bring single-family style living back to the urban core.  The top level acts like a rain forest’s canopy — hence the name — by collecting 95% of all solar energy and 30% of rainwater for the tower.  Canopea was built of a prefab CORE, site-built SKIN, and a SHELL capable of off-site fabrication as well.

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LIFX is a WiFi-Enabled Smart LED Bulb

I’ve seen innovation in the smart LED space from the likes of Google and Insteon, but San Francisco-based LIFX Labs aims to reinvent the light bulb with a new, successfully-funded Kickstarter project called LIFX. The LED bulb is WiFi-enabled, energy-efficient, multi-colored, and controllable from an iPhone or Android. It will be available as Edison-type, bayonet cap, or downlight with everything necessary to work at home or in a business with a pledge from $69 on Kickstarter.

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New Roof-Attic Design Improves Efficiency

The media relations group for Oak Ridge National Laboratory just released more information about recent field tests by ORNL of a new roof and attic system that keeps homes cool in the summer and prevents heat loss in the winter.  The system is explained in the graphic embedded above (click to expand).  In addition, I’ve included some graphics below to illustrate more of what the system looks like and how it saves energy.

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LED Downlights: CR6-575L vs. CR6-800L

Although the new, four-inch CR4-575L is available at Home Depot, the updated, six-inch CR6 is not at this time.  So, as Doug pointed out in our comments, it may be worthwhile to post a comparison of the existing CR6-575L with the updated CR6-800L.  Before doing that, note the new CR4-575L has similar specs to the existing CR6-575L with the main difference being one is made for a 4″ housing and the other is for a 6″ housing.  Here’s a head-to-head of the popular six-inch CR6 downlights.

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