Renewable Energy in Australia: Potential and Progress

Recently there has been a lot of talk in how a country can improve their ecological footstep. One way of doing so is definitely changing the way the respective country produces its energy. Australia has recently been headlining the news in regard to the renewable energy situation. Australia’s energy production is looking towards a new future with a specific aim on solar and wind power.

If Australia plans on keeping its water resource at a steady level, it has got to go from its use of coal to renewable sources. Thanks to its abundance in both solar and wind energy, Australia has quite the advantage when it comes to green energy production possibilities.

Unfortunately though due to their geographic position, the water supply is limited for the country. So much so, that the coal industry was taking a toll on the water supply due to the large quantities of water needed when producing energy from coal. As a result, moving over to wind and solar energy fueled productions is a viable option seeing how both respective energy productions do not require water.

The news that Australia was listed as a “water-stressed company” was released by the World Resource Institute; a non-profit organization based in Washington D.C. Moreover, on this past May 13th The Sydney Morning Herald also wrote that 73% of Australia’s electricity needs were met by the use of coal. In respect to these findings and Australia’s continuous growth, it is imperative that new resources are used for energy production.

Australia has been making headlines in renewable energy sector.

Fortunately, Australia’s geography is a big resource as well when it comes to studying the possibilities of implementing the new energy production. It was in fact calculated that the dimensions of the solar power farm needed to meet the country’s demands would result in occupying only 0.1% of Australia’s total land mass; I think we can all agree on the fact that that land could be spared for a solar farm.

And on that note, the government is taking the matter seriously, and has called upon everybody to try and better the situation. The incentives call upon small businesses and households as well by reminding them that there are the possibilities of installing their own solar panels, heat pumps, solar water heaters, and more.

Thanks to the various incentives, the Green Energy Council has stated that there is a lot of activity in the sector, including at least 58 different projects focused on implementing the renewable energy sources. As a consequence of these projects, the council has also stated that there would be an income of $10 billion in investments, 6,141 new jobs, and 5,482 megawatts of renewable energy capacity. Definitely great numbers to look forward to!

Top 5 Positive Environmental Effects of COVID-19

Even the gravest of occurrences have some silver linings, and COVID-19, in all of its dreariness, has been pretty good to Mother Earth. There have been some negative drawbacks, but on the whole, the environment is one thing that has actually been positively affected by the novel coronavirus. Stay-at-home orders mean less cars on the road, and social distancing means less people at national parks and beaches in need of a good cleaning. A study now published in The Lancet Planetary Health journal went as far as to say, “In China alone, all of these air quality improvements that have outnumbered confirmed [COVID-19-related] deaths thus far.”

covid19-clean-cities

Here is a closer look at 5 positive environmental impacts caused by COVID-19.

1. Environmentally Friendly Infrastructure

With many citizens greatly limiting their travel, cities and states alike have been upgrading their transportation systems (trains, cars, planes, etc.). At a quick glance, a reasonable response to that would be, “Nice, better roads,” but fortunately, with advances in infrastructure resilient to climate change, it also means structures made with environmentally friendly materials, reduced waste, and made renewable-resource-ready, depending on the locale.

Some jurisdictions with a bit less of a “convinced” mindset towards climate change do, however, have a lot of legal loopholes in place regarding renewable energy, but at least making structures ready to switch power when the law allows is something to breath easy about (literally).

2. Lowered Emissions

As touched on in the intro, limited travel and social distancing have been large parts of increased air quality across the globe. Even NASA satellites have produced photographic evidence of less smog in urban areas.

As many large businesses in these large cities are becoming aware of the positive effects (both socially and monetarily) of corporate social responsibility, it’s also reasonable to think that many corporations will take into account all of the positives that come with remote work, and maximize opportunities do so in a world where going green is as good for the trees as it is the bottom line.

3. Moral Awareness / Disaster Relief

Most natural disasters affect those who can actually see the destruction first-hand much more deeply than people who just see pictures and videos. With a truly global pandemic affecting everyone on Earth, the overall will to “help a neighbor” has been tried and true during the COVID-19 wave. Some places just had much better disaster preparedness practices than others, and where there were shortages in one area, and excess in another, the right moves were made.

Only time will tell if optimism turns to reality, but thinking that the global reach of this disaster and the “all in this together” mantra will lead to more disaster relief for issues some people may not be familiar with (hurricanes, tornados, famine, earthquakes, etc.) is definitely beyond reasonable.

4. Clean Beaches

Over the last 10 years, roughly 60 million Americans visit a beach per year. Couple that with coastal population booms, and it’s safe to say the sand in the United States gets a lot of foot traffic. Though the lack of tourism certainly hurt the economy, it gave the beaches a long overdue break, resulting in massive decreases in coastal pollution, deep beach cleans by locals, and increases in water quality.

beach-covid19

5. A Little Bad with the Good

With closures of schools and a lot of work places, brought with it closures of some recycling centers, resulting in a lot of recyclables being trashed. The increases in online deliveries are certainly sensible, but they, too, added to an uptick in waste production, due to packaging. Additionally, medical waste (including masks and gloves) experienced a steady uptick as well.

Ultimately, the environmental effects of COVID-19 are things we can take a bit of resolve in, as pretty much everything else has been affected negatively by the pandemic. Increases in air and water quality should continue to be steady, new infrastructure with renewable resources now exist and just need some legislative boosts in areas, a lot of public places that needed a good cleaning have gotten it, and the only negatives on this list involve human actions that can be adjusted, moving forward.

4 Tips to Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning in Your Home

In daily life, we make use of several different gases, liquids, and solids, without which life isn’t livable. And it’s not just oxygen that we use in daily life to keep the heart pumping, but there is an entire list of gases that are essential to keep on with life.

One of the most vital gases among all the other is carbon monoxide. This a potent and valuable gas that charges up heaps of electricity and starts up your cars. It’s essential to know what carbon monoxide is as it is widely used inside homes and can be just as dangerous as it is needed. It is a highly flammable gas that, if left unwatched, can create fire and unimaginable damage. For this reason, below are some ways to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning in your home to use it effectively and safely.

1. Address Issues

Carbon monoxide is a combustible gas and can be quite dangerous to have in a closed space, but it makes for many of the essential procedures used in a home. Your heating system most probably is run by carbon monoxide. And if it experiences a tear and a leak, the house could be in danger of destruction, and the residents could suffocate.

Check your heating and other fuel-burning appliances regularly to avoid any mishaps. It is best to get them maintained each year by professionals who can also check the systems for their effective running.

2. Install Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Mostly carbon monoxide can be detected by its firm odor similar to that of rotten eggs. This smell helps to give you a heads up to get out of your home and call for help. However, when there is a slight leakage that is undecidable, or the house residents aren’t awake to notice it, the situation can take a turn for the worst.

Some states have laws that require homes to have CO detectors installed. These detectors should be present on each floor, especially the basement and areas where there are fuel appliances and heaters. It is best to make sure the indicators are installed near bedrooms to get alerts while sleeping.

3. Check the Air Quality

In small houses or congested areas of a home, air can get trapped, and different gases can get clogged, the air quality unhealthy and dangerous to breathe in. Make sure that where you have your oven, furnaces, and fireplaces situated has a proper ventilation system installed. If there are vents already in place, check the air quality and clean them often.

4. Put Out Burners Effectively

Cooking is a necessity in all homes, and even though many households have replaced gas burners to electric burners, there are still many that use the gas cooking method. The gas used for cooking and heating is carbon monoxide, which is sturdy and highly combustible.

To keep safe from sources like these, make sure not to switch on stoves unnecessarily. Keep your fireplaces and furnaces covered to stop the gas from spreading and lingering in the air. Regularly validate that these places are well kept and clean. Also, make sure that the systems work well.

Bring New Life to Your Garden by Making it Bee-friendly

It is remarkable how resistant humankind has become to working with nature, all too often preferring to dominate and exploit the world around us – a trait which is detrimental to human and non-human life in the long run. Thankfully, more and more people are waking up to the idea that it is the processes and lessons of the natural world, rather than its exploitable properties, which are our most valuable assets.

bees-garden

As the renewable energy movement becomes truly mainstream, everyday people are beginning to turn their backs on the excesses of 19th and 20th century consumption and to instead look forwards and embrace an ecosystem of which we are not the master – but rather just another essential component.

One way in which you can do so is to take a stand against the decimation of bee populations in a constructive manner – by creating a bee-friendly garden. Patterns and techniques of crop farming have left the insects in increasingly hostile territory, with bee numbers falling dramatically enough to hit the headlines. But it’s possible even for individuals to make a difference just by the flowers and plants they choose to put in their garden.

Bees are crazy for the kinds of wildflowers that have been torn up by industrial-level farming, and a good variety of local, colorful blooms can brighten your days while providing a delicious stopping point for the stripy critters. Even just allowing your garden to grow naturally – without clamping down on weeds and dandelions – can make it a more inviting environment for the right kinds of insects.

Bees are crazy for wildflowers

Bees are crazy for wildflowers

While it’s okay to use a smattering of non-native plants in your garden, this should always be done in sensitivity to the surrounding area, as unwelcome plant-life can create environmental imbalances. If in doubt, stay local – and consult this new chart from Budget Direct, which lists some of the best choices you can make for the bees in your garden, wherever you are in the world.

DESIGN-18-plants-to-grow-for-a-bee-friendly-garden-535x3380

Solid Waste Management – History and Future Outlook

The disposal of municipal solid waste is the second most major concern for public health in developing countries because of population explosion, rampant poverty and high urbanization rates combined with poor government funding to curb waste management. Factors such as waste composition, technologies and lack of infrastructure have been found to set apart the good management of solid wastes in developing nations. Municipal waste is mainly comprised of paper, vegetable matter, plastics, metals, textiles, rubber and glass. In some countries (developing as well as developed), municipal solid waste is mixed with medical wastes and this may pose health risk to waste handlers and general public.

Historically, burying the wastes is the most preferred method for waste management in many countries. This method is still used in many more countries. Tackling environmental issues has become more important and more preferred than pollution and consumption of unsustainable utilization of resources. Most importantly, the primary objective of waste management is to put emphasis on protecting the people and environment from potentially harmful effects of waste.

Methods of Solid Waste Management

Depending on the types of wastes generated, four methods of solid waste management has been used throughout the history, i.e. dumping, incineration, recycling and waste prevention. Waste generated from household is much different from industrial waste, agricultural waste, medical waste or mining wastes.

When wastes contain any hazardous component, or it has capability to become hazardous with time, poses very serious threat to environment and health. Hazardous wastes generated needs to be handled very carefully, with special techniques. This is one of the major reasons of open landfills are getting replaced with sanitary landfills.

At a landfill, wastes are covered with thick layer of soil. By the late 1950, this practice was very common for waste management across the world. Earlier landfills had considerable sludge and methane emissions, which were harmful to the environment as well as animal and human health. But these issues have been resolved largely by modern disposal methods, which were developed around 20 years ago. Modern landfills are equipped with thick layer of clay followed by plastic sheets. This method was practiced by some nations and still going on.

In 1930-1940, many cities in USA adopted new technology to curb waste issues by burning at high temperature, this method is known as incineration. During initial years, this method was not very efficient and emit very large amount of poisonous gasses, this is the major reason of incinerators shut down during that period. During mid-1970s, scientists modified incinerators to generate energy, which are known as waste to energy plants. But after around a decade, it has become major issue to build these plants, again because of emission issues.

With development of technology, waste burning in advanced form of incinerators became common in 1970s, researchers across the world bet on incinerators or waste to energy plants for solution to energy crisis in 1973. However, with realisation of impact on environment and air quality, it become very difficult to find location to build any waste to energy plants, mainly because of public opposition. Another issue with incinerator is production of ashes, which contain huge amount of heavy metals, toxic and inorganic compounds.

waste-to-energy-plant

Incineration is the most common waste-to-energy method used worldwide.

Future of Solid Waste Management

The overall concept of wastes needs to be considered economically, it will be more considered as economically viable product if waste is considered as an inefficiency of the production process not as rejected residue of waste product. A permanent rejection or heavy restriction into products which produces waste that cannot be accumulated back into the environment safely.

The major challenge in waste management is to persuade people/community to consider waste as a resource, rather than a liability on society, which can be created with more innovation and technological development of manufacturing industry, waste processing industry and new business model and plans.

This planning system will create circular economy where product value created by inputs (e.g. energy, materials, labour etc.) is extended by enabling a material that goes into circular economy, beyond product life. We go from mineral to metals to product then back to minerals/metals. By understanding economic cycle of waste, people will understand the creation of opportunities to more sustainable product in future with limited resources.

Key Challenges in the Implementation of Waste-to-Energy

The biggest challenge in the implementation of Waste-to-Energy projects lies not in the technology itself but in the acceptance of citizens. Citizens who are environmentally minded but lack awareness of the current status of MSW-to-energy bring up concerns of environmental justice and organize around this. They view waste-to-energy as ‘dumping’ of pollutants on lower strata of society and their emotional critique rooted in the hope for environmental justice tends to move democracy.

Spittelau-Incinceration-Plant

An advocate of public understanding of science, Shawn Lawrence Otto regrets that the facts are not able to hold the same sway. Some US liberal groups such as the Center for American Progress are beginning to realize that the times and science have changed. It will take more consensus on the science and the go ahead from environmental groups before the conversation moves forward, seemingly improbable but not without precedent.

Spittelau Waste-to-Energy Plant

The Spittelau waste-to-energy plant is an example of opposition coming together in consensus over WTE. It was built in Vienna in 1971 with the purpose of addressing district heating and waste management issues. Much later awareness of the risks of dioxins emitted by such plants grew and the people’s faith in the technology was called into question.

It also became a political issue whereby opposition parties challenged the mayor on the suitability of the plant. The economic interests of landfill owners also lay in the shutting down of the WTE facility. The alternative was to retrofit the same plant with advanced technology that would remove the dioxins through Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR).

Through public discussions it appeared that the majority of the people were against the plant altogether though thorough studies by informed researchers showed that the science backs WTE. The mayor, Helmut Zilk eventually consulted Green Party members on how to make this technology better perceived in the eyes of the people, and asked the famous Austrian artist Freidensreich Hundertwasser, who was a green party member to design the look of the plant.

Freidensreich Hundertwasser after carefully studying the subject wrote a letter of support, stating his belief as to why WTE was needed and accepted Mayor Helmut Zilk’s request. Later public opinion polls showed that there were a majority of people who were either in favor of or not opinionated about the plant, with only 3% in outright opposition of the plant.

Polarized Discussion

Waste-to-Energy or recycling has kept public discourse from questioning whether there may not be intermediate or case specific solutions. This polarization serves to move the conversation nowhere. For now it can be agreed that landfills are devastating in their contribution to Climate Change and must be done away with.

The choice then, of treatment processes for municipal solid waste are plentiful. If after recovery of recyclable materials there remains a sizeable waste stream the option of waste-to-energy can be explored.

Primary Considerations in WTE Projects

  • Environmental implications (i.e. CO2 emissions vis-à-vis the next best fuel source) given the composition of the local waste stream. If the waste stream consists of a high percentage of recyclables the more sustainable waste strategy would be to ramp up recycling efforts rather than to adopt WTE,
  • Likely composition and variation of the waste stream and the feasibility of the technology to handle such a waste stream,
  • Financial considerations with regards to the revenue stream from the WTE facility and its long term viability,
  • Efforts at making citizens aware of the high standards achieved by this technology in order to secure their approval.

Note: This excerpt is being published with the permission of our collaborative partner Be Waste Wise. The original excerpt and its video recording can be found at this link

Top 7 Tips To Make Your Home Energy Efficient During Summer

Your home is a full-fledged system. And you’re the person who decides how to run its operations. This goes for the appliances you choose, and the equipment you install. So naturally, when you implement cost-effective measures, you’re able to save money, energy, and improve performance. As a homeowner, there are two particular seasons in which you wish your home to be the most energy efficient. Those are summer and winter. So how do you keep cool in the hot weather without overworking your AC? Here are our top 7 tips to make your home energy efficient in summer.

Importance of energy efficient appliances and equipment

Energy efficient appliances and equipment use the least amount of energy to perform their required tasks by default. So if you get energy efficient appliances such as refrigerators, air conditioners, dishwashers, and laundry machines, you’ll be conserving energy. This automatically translates into reduced utility bills. You will be saving money and protecting the environment.

Energy efficiency in home appliances is extremely important. Especially when you consider how the energy and money you saved could be used for something else. So, you get a discounted bill with minimum exploitation of natural resources.

how to make your home energy efficient

How to Make Your Home Energy-Efficient in Summer

1. Check your home insulation

A good insulation system will keep your home well protected against the elements. One of the main places that people tend to ignore is the attic. When your attic is poorly insulated you’ll notice that during the cold months, snow on your roof will melt faster. This means that a substantial amount of warm air is leaking from your home. Similarly, during summer, poor insulation will allow cool air out. This will automatically make your heating and cooling system work harder to compensate for the air leaking.

home-insulation

According to the Environmental Protection Agency’s research, proper insulation will help you save 15% on heating and cooling costs. So, if you want to make your home more energy-efficient, you need to seal any crack and openings. Inspect your floors for any possible crawl spaces and your doors and windows for caulking that could have degraded.

2. Optimize your thermostat settings

If you’re looking to save up on energy bills during summer, you need to tackle the source of the issue. That is your cooling system. It might feel really nice to blast your AC when it’s unbearably hot outside. However, you don’t want the temperature inside your home to be so cold that you need to use a blanket. In fact, you can be comfortable enough with your thermostat set at 78 degrees.

eco-friendly-business-practices

For every degree below 78, your energy increases by 6 to 8%. Accordingly, your energy bill increases as well. For instance, if you raise your thermostat from 74 to 78, you save 24% in energy usage. Keep the thermostat as high as possible before you leave the house, or turn it off altogether. The bigger the difference between the temperature outside and inside, the higher your energy bill will be.

3. Replace your air filters

When your air filters are dirty and deteriorating, your HVAC is going to overwork itself to keep your house cool. This will result in poor energy efficiency and higher utility costs. Cleaning your air filters might not be enough since you’re supposed to replace them every three months. The same goes for your air vents.

You need to clean those as well on a regular basis. And if you have pets, you will need to clean them more frequently. Not to mention the allergens and dust that circulate through your ventilation system. If you don’t have much experience in home maintenance, you need to call a professional to check them for you.

4. Use fans strategically

You might be reluctant to exclusively rely on fans to cool your home in summer, especially during heatwaves. After all, fans don’t do much except move the existing air in a particular space around over and over again. However, you can place fans throughout your home in a strategic manner so that they work more efficiently.

One great way to increase energy efficiency is to work both your cooling system and fans at the same time. The thing is that you only need to put your AC on at a higher degree than you normally would. Then, plug a fan and direct it towards the AC so that it propagates cool air throughout the whole room.\

You may think that in a place like your garage an air conditioner might be the right choice, but unless it’s insulated, it’ll only run up your energy bill. It’s wise to install a garage ceiling fan instead to avoid this issue.

5. Install double glazed windows

Upgrading your windows is the best thing you can do to enhance your home’s energy efficiency, both during summer and winter. The gap between the two glass panes in double glazed windows acts as an additional layer of insulation. Like so, this layer creates thermal resistance that obstructs the outdoors air from coming in and indoor air from escaping. This means that in winter, warm air won’t leak outside of your home. The double glazing will also prevent the harsh cold from infiltrating your living space.

On the other hand, when the weather is really hot, your double glazed windows have the reverse effect. They hinder warm air from creeping in, and they block the cool air inside your home from seeping outside. Double glazed windows also have the added benefit of minimizing the outside noise, limiting UV damage, and increasing security.

6. Upgrade your light bulbs

If you’re still using incandescent lighting then it’s time to make the switch to LED light bulbs. Incandescent bulbs actually generate way more heat than their LED counterpart. This gives your HVAC system one more thing it has to contend with. Not just that, incandescent lights only last for 1,000 hours. They convert a mere 5% of the energy they receive to light, while the rest 95% gets lost as heat.

energy efficient home

On the other hand, LED bulbs last 25 times longer, they consume 75% less energy, and they run cooler. If buying LED light bulbs seems a bit out of your budget, you could consider compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs). Their lifespan is 10 times longer than that of incandescent bulbs. And you’ll still be saving about 67% in electricity usage.

7. Unplug energy-sucking appliances

Consider this a rule of thumb to energy efficiency in summer: if you’re not using it, then unplug it! Think of it this way: any appliances that use electricity will also generate heat. If you want to keep your home cool and comfortable enough during the hot weather, unplug electronics you’re not using. That goes for anything from your coffee machine and toaster, to your phone chargers and computers.

Air Conditioner or Heat Pump: How to Make a Choice?

Is the summer getting intolerable for you? If so, then most probably you’re thinking of getting the best technology or device for your home or office space to deal with it.

It is very obvious that you’re facing a little dilemma on whether to go with a heat pump or an air conditioner; which one would be the best option to serve your purpose. Don’t forget to check out the heat pump glossary to spruce up your knowledge.

In this article, we will help you figure out just that. You will get everything you need to know about heat pumps and air conditioners starting from their basics to the pros and cons followed by a comparison.

Analyze them, know your priorities, and make the decision. Are you ready? Let’s get started!

air conditioner benefits

What is a Heat Pump?

A heat pump is a technology that transfers the inside heat of the house to the outside or vice versa. Generally, a heat pump is used to eliminate the heat that is inside a house or building to the outside air in summer.

But in winter, the function of the heat pump just reverses. In cold weather, when you need heat in your homes, a heat pump extracts the heat from the outside air and transfers it to the inside.

Types of Heat Pump

Heat pumps are broadly divided into two major types. They are:

Air Source Heat Pump

This kind of heat pump uses the heat from the outside air in winter and expels the hot air from the inside to the outside in summer.

Geothermal Heat Pump

This type of heat pump utilizes the heat from the soil in winter to supply hot air into the house and expels the heat from the inside air to the soil or water in the hot weather.

Considering the design of the heat pumps, they are divided into two types. Those are as follows:

Split Type

This type of heat pump consists of two different indoor and outdoor units.

Packaged Unit

Such heat pumps contain all the components of the system combined within one single cabinet.

Heat Pump Components

The heat pump constitutes a good number of components. Each is required for different functions. The components that more or less all  heat pumps possess along with their functions are as follows:

Compressor: Transports refrigerant which is a compound responsible for heat exchange converting liquid to gas and absorbing the heat from the environment to transfer it somewhere else.

Coils: Condenser and evaporator coil for heating and cooling the air.

Reversing Valve: Changes the refrigerant flow.

Thermostatic Expansion Valves: Regulate the refrigerant flow.

Accumulator: To adjust with the season and the weather.

Air Ducts: To allow the hot or cold air released from the heat pump to flow throughout the house.

Refrigerant Lines: This component is applicable only for split-type heat pumps to connect the components from the inside to the outside.

Heat Strips: This generally comes with the packaged unit for providing extra heat on cooler days.

How does a Heat Pump Heat?

In winter, the reversing valve of the heat pump changes the system from cooling to heating. So that the heat from the outside air is extracted and pulled inside the house.

heating-radiator

Generally, a heat pump has the ability to heat up a house up to 70 degrees, but as long as the outside air is above 30 degrees. So, if the temperature goes below 30 degrees, the heat pump needs to utilize the additional heat sources.

Advantages of a Heat Pump

There are several advantages to having a heat pump. Some of the most mentionable are listed below.

  • Reducing the need to access natural gas or keeping a propane tank.
  • The home duct system of the heat pump ensures heat is distributed equally to every corner of the house without leaving any spaces cold.
  • As heat pumps don’t consume fossil fuels, they are more environmentally friendly.
  • The biggest advantage of a heat pump is providing two separate services in two different seasons, saving money for any other device or their maintenance.

Disadvantages of a Heat Pump

Even though heat pumps offer some very impressive benefits, there are few drawbacks as well.

  • In freezing winters, heat pumps won’t be enough to warm up the entire house.
  • In colder winters, you might have to use additional heaters or furnaces along with a heat pump to heat up your house.

What is an Air Conditioner?

The air conditioner does the same work as the heat pump in summer, that is, eliminating the heat inside the house to the outside air. But it also cools down the air inside by releasing cool air.

Types of Air Conditioner

There are different types and designs of air conditioners. The most usual and popular among them are listed below.

Central Air Conditioners: This type of AC packs the evaporator, compressor, and condenser in one single unit. The unit is connected by supply and return ducts that are installed in the walls of the houses.

Split-type Air Conditioners:  These air conditioners have two different outdoor and indoor units and the air supply takes place through the ducts.

Window Air Conditioners: This kind of air conditioner is ideal for a room as it combines all the components in one box that can fit a window.

Air Conditioner Components

The components of the air conditioner are somewhat similar to the heat pumps. This includes an outdoor unit consisting of the condenser, compressor, and fan.

The indoor unit has an evaporator and a fan. The refrigerant moves through the condenser and evaporator and the cool air produced moves through the ducts with the help of the fan.

AC components

AC Coils of HVAC systems require regular cleanup

Advantages of an Air Conditioner

An air conditioner bears some advantages compared to heat pumps. Those are as follows :

  • AC’s are very efficient for cooling down larger rooms and keeping the house cool for a longer period.
  • Air-conditioned rooms reduce dehydration.
  • AC improves the air quality of the room by removing allergens and is beneficial to patients with respiratory problems like Asthma.

Disadvantages of an Air Conditioner

There are some clear and obvious disadvantages of air conditioners. They are:

  • AC’s cannot produce or extract heat from the outer environment like heat pumps.
  • AC generally requires fossil fuel to run.

Comparison Between an Air Conditioner and a Heat Pump

To make it easier for you, let’s make a short comparison between heat pump vs air conditioner on some important factors to consider while buying them.

Purchase Cost: Generally, air conditioners are way costlier than heat pumps.

Installation Cost: Usually, the outdoor units of the heat pump cost more for installation than installing AC or indoor heat pumps.

Energy Efficiency: If you’re looking forward to improving your energy efficiency in the house, the heat pump should be your ideal option. Because heat pumps are more effective in saving energy than ACs.

Durability: If you’re not down for compromising the durability and longevity of your cooling device, then go for air conditioners. Because heat pumps don’t last more than 15 years.

Final Words

Do you still have confusion about which one to go for? Think about what matters to you more; saving money and energy or durability and longevity. Then choose wisely by evaluating heat pump vs air conditioner.

Hope this article was able to help you solve your dilemma. Thanks for reading till the end.

Product Life-Cycle Assessment: Closing the Loop

If you’re interested in green and environmental issues you may have heard the phrase ‘life-cycle assessment’ in relation to a particular product. It can be difficult to ascertain exactly what this life-cycle assessment involves – so we’re hoping to shed some light on the process, the different types of assessment that take place and explain what’s involved with each step.

product-life-cycle-assessment

A look at the bigger picture

Essentially, a product life-cycle assessment takes an overall view of that item’s impact on the environment – and in doing so, offers a true picture of how green that product really is. The aim is for consumers, manufacturers and policy makers to be given a true environmental picture of any product.

Although it’s an example that divides the opinion of environmentalists around the world, the Toyota Prius provides an interesting picture of why the product life-cycle assessment is required in a world driven by a company’s desire to be seen as green. The Prius is an electric-hybrid car which Toyota claims delivers an impressive 60 miles per gallon of fuel – a statistic that puts it as a firm environmental favourite.

However, there are claims that the construction methods used to create the batteries that power the Prius are hugely detrimental to the environment – with some sources saying the manufacturing plant impacts the environment so greatly that by the time a Prius is driven from the showroom – it’s already had the environmental impact it would take any other car 1,000 gallons of fuel to match.

What’s the verdict?

So, is the Prius good or bad? That’s not for us to decide – and we’re not suggesting one way or another, we’re simply using this as an illustration of how complex any environmental consideration can be in a product with such an intensive manufacturing process and prolonged lifespan. At the other end of the calculation you’d have to consider how long the Prius will run for – and whether that balances a supposedly negative building method.

Stages of product life-cycle assessment

The product life cycle analysis is ordinarily broken down into different stages:

1. Extraction and processing of raw materials

This is a full understanding of the journey from source to point of manufacture that the building blocks of any product take. For example, in the manufacture of a table you would begin by looking at the trees that provide the wood, the logging process that takes them from forest to timber yard and the impact of the machinery used throughout that process.

You would repeat this process for every raw material that goes into the table’s manufacture.

2. Manufacturing

Next comes the manufacturing itself – if machinery or any industrial process is used to piece our table together then resources used in that process must be considered when we look at the overall impact of the product on the environment.

3. Packaging

The packaging that a product is delivered in is effectively another product in itself. Although unlikely in our table example, it’s not uncommon for extravagant packaging to represent 10-20% of a product’s recommended retail price. Curtis Packaging, an award-winning UK based sustainable packaging company suggest manufacturers pay careful consideration to the impact of packaging on a product’s overall green credentials – from raw materials to the point of disposal, the packing that adorns your product can have serious environmental considerations.

4. Marketing

At first glance you could be forgiven for thinking marketing a product comes with no environmental impact – but you’d be wrong. From the printing of advertising materials – to the sales team’s 20,000 annual miles in company vehicles – there can be a lot of resource put into any marketing process. However, measurement is no mean feat – companies can find it difficult to differentiate between their overall carbon footprint and that associated with any one product.

5. Product use, re-use and maintenance

This is where the impact of a product moves from the manufacturer and into the hands of the consumer. What does typical use look like? How long is a product being used for? Does one person’s use vary compared to another’s? For our example table, the answers could be fairly simple – on the other hand, there’s a huge amount of variation when you look at a broad range of car drivers.

Packaging that adorns your product can have serious environmental impact.

Packaging that adorns your product can have serious environmental impact.

For any product that requires maintenance, the LCA just became much more complex (again!) – just as packaging represented an entirely separate product that requires its own assessment – a similar process is required when a car receives a tank of fuel, a top up of coolant, brake fluid, spark plugs, brake pads… hopefully you get the picture (hint – it’s complex and sprawling!)

However difficult it might be to anticipate, it’s an environmental imperative that big industry is aware of the impact they have – even when their product has left their hands.

6. Recycling, disposal and waste at the end of the product’s life

From pizza boxes to old cars, it’s easy to think of their job as being done when they’re waved off to a recycling bin or breaker’s yard – but environmentally this could just be the beginning of their impact.

In terms of recycling – the effort and impact of the process must be outweighed by the benefit of the salvaged material, it’s often in life-cycle assessments that decisions are made around what is worth recycling – and what should be destined for landfill. If landfill is the ultimate resting place for any product, what does the deterioration process look like and what does that mean to the environment in the short, medium and long-term?

Then, to bring the assessment cycle full circle – any product that can be processed and re-used re-enters the assessment cycle back at the extraction and processing of raw materials stage…

Ultimately, what is the life-cycle assessment done for?

There’s no one reason that a product life-cycle assessment is done. For some companies, they’re keen to explain the full back-story of the product. For others, it can be an exercise in understanding the full process and highlighting any areas that can be financially streamlined – it certainly provides a solid baseline from which improvements can be made.

For the most environmentally ethical companies, the life-cycle assessment gives a true picture of the impact they have on the well-being of the planet – and offers a chance to get a full and honest picture of the moves they and their partners can make in creating a product that fulfils the requirements of the environment – as well as those of the customer and shareholders.

How Renewable Energy Can Solve Smog Problem in China

China is currently facing serious environmental problems, with potentially few solutions. Currently, this is mostly taking the form of serious smog issues plaguing North China, with more than 24 cities on red alert. However, with airports being shut down due to lacking visibility and the economy of China being heavily disrupted, action needs to be taken to solve this serious smog problem. While limited action has been taken, perhaps renewable energy is the key to cutting down China’s smog.

smog-china

How Bad Is the Problem?

The smog problem in China has become increasing worse from 2015 to 2017, with more than 90 micrograms of pollution per meter squared. These levels of air pollution are similar to the levels recorded previous to 2014, when the Chinese premier declared a war on pollution due to the health dangers posed by rising air pollution levels.

However, since 2015, levels of air pollution have risen once again. This pollution has had hard hitting effects on urban areas, especially the Chinese capital Beijing, and has caused widespread disruption to the lives of Chinese citizens and economy of the country.

The air pollution leads to the cities becoming hotter than ever. Urban Heat Island effect, which refers to buildings absorbing the sun’s heat well, is exacerbated by the smog. In fact, a car in the heat can reach temperatures of 114 degrees Fahrenheit after just 20 minutes, making travelling on hot days nearly unbearable for any living creature. In order to decrease the heated condition of China, it is essential to decrease the amount of smog covering the cities.

What Has the Chinese Government Done?

The Chinese government has taken limited action in an attempt to minimize the air pollution being created in the country. This includes the Atmospheric Pollution Prevention Plan, which acknowledged the danger posed by air pollution levels and aimed to reduce coal usage in urban areas like Beijing.

However, this is not representative of the main action the government has taken. Primarily, the Chinese government has focused on individual areas and attempting to reduce local pollution levels through efficient coal burning and banning the burning of waste materials, especially on farms. These solutions, while effective on a short-term basis, are not all that is needed, though.

Investment in renewables can reduce China's dependence on coal for power generation

Investment in renewables can reduce China’s dependence on coal for power generation

China needs to reduce its overall usage of coal produced energy, which currently stands at 64 percent of total energy consumption. While this has already been happening in China, the further introduction of renewable energy could be of great help to China’s pollution levels.

How Could Renewable Energy Help?

Many people believe renewable energy to be a small affair, something undertaken by the Western world in a vain attempt to reduce our collective guilt concerning climate change and wastage levels. This is simply not the case. Renewable energy is a $120 billion industry that receives investment and application across the world. This includes solar energy, waste-to-energy technology, wind energy, hydroelectric energy and many more attempts to reduce overall energy usage.

Through investment in renewable energy, China could reduce its dependence on coal and increase the efficiency of its energy production and economy. Smog is directly created by China’s use of coal for its energy production, and by investing in other renewable means, China can simultaneously improve its health situation.

In fact, the obviously positive nature of investment in renewable energy can be clearly seen through the Chinese government’s already existing plans to further incorporate it into the economy. In the five-year plan announced in 2016, the Chinese government explicitly stated it would decrease air pollution levels through investment in wind, solar and biomass energy production technologies.

While the plans additionally included investment in making the coal industry more efficient and reducing emissions on an industrial and commercial level, clearly renewable energy is believed to be a valid alternative energy source.

Overall, it is clear that renewable energy can certainly help with China’s serious smog problem. Whether this should be in tangent with further investment in the coal industry or necessitate the end of widespread coal usage in China is still a question for debate.

About the Author

Emily Folk is freelance writer and blogger on topics of renewable energy and conservation. To get her latest posts, check out her blog Conservation Folks, or follow her on Twitter.