Saving Money With Effective Heating and Air Conditioning

Did you know that heating and air conditioning systems can make up for half of your total energy bill? That’s a lot of money and a lot of energy use. If your heating and air aren’t working properly they can’t effectively use that energy and that costs you money and sends more greenhouse gases into the environment. Below we will list a few ways you can keep your energy bill low and your heating and air conditioning systems running smoothly and efficiently.

1. Limit Use

Use the seasons to your advantage and limit your use of heating and AC. Close your blinds in the summer to keep the sun from working against your air conditioning and open the curtains in the winter time to have the sun help your heating.

Consider if your thermostat has a feature that can be set on a timer so you can limit the use of your heating and air conditioner when no one is in the house or at night. These seem like simple things but they can reduce your costs significantly when done regularly.

2. Regular Maintenance

Don’t forget to do regular maintenance to ensure your HVAC system is working efficiently. Simple things like changing you air filters can make a huge impact on how well your heating and air conditioning runs. Have a professional come at least once a year to check for any problems you may miss and ensure everything is OK.

hvac-repair

Your contractor should measure the voltage of your motors and tighten electrical connections. They should also check for drainage that may cause water damage to your home. These regular check ups also ensure your systems are running properly and safely.

3. Sealing Ducts and Leaks

Ducts are responsible for distributing the air around your home. However, about 20 percent of air is lost through leaks and poorly connected ducts. This means you’ll be pumping up the AC to no affect and losing money in the process.

Sealing leaks that are visible in the attack, crawl space, or basement of your home is as easy as buying a sealant or tape meant for insulating your ducts. Check for and seal any visible leaks or poor connections. If you prefer to stay away from dirty attics or crawl spaces a contractor can easily do this for you as well.

4. Insulation

Insulating your home can save you up to 10 percent on your annual energy bill and make your home comfortable all year long. The attic is an ideal place to add insulation to your home and when done correctly can save the most money and energy. Also consider your windows and doors.

Heating and cooling can easily escape through old doors and windows making your system inefficient. Have a contractor look at these places in your home and see if they can help insulate your home so it can run comfortably.

Conclusion

These are just a few examples of ways you can make your home more energy efficient thus saving your wallet and giving a little help to the environment. Find a contractor like Empire HVAC that can look at your home and determine the best route for your house. Different systems have different needs and a professional can tell you everything your house needs to keep you comfortable, regardless of weather  conditions.

5 Reasons Why You Should Switch to LED Lights

Saving the Earth is on top of the list of most product designers these days. On a daily basis, we contribute to global pollution. From our homes to our jobs, lighting is a big factor in our everyday life. Our goal is to find life-changing ways to save Mother Earth from destruction.

Let’s start in places we usually go to like the house, office, restaurants, and malls. One of the factors contributing to environmental pollution is lighting materials. Most lighting materials increase the consuming of carbon footprint and chlorofluorocarbon. With the advancement of technology comes the birth of LED (Low Emitting Diode). It is the next big thing when it comes to interior and exterior architecture without compromising the Earth’s current state.

With these in mind, we have four convincing reasons why LED lights are saving the Earth.

1. LED Lights are Made from Non-toxic Materials

Unlike incandescent and other traditional lights, a LED bulb is made of non-toxic materials. This does not just affect the environment but as well as its users. LED lights are carefully manufactured with the idea that it frees the Earth from contamination and pollution. Efficient disposal is also what makes it environment-friendly. It alleviates the toxic waste produced by the material composition of traditional lighting.

LED lights are established to lower the environmental impact of lighting. The absence of mercury makes it easier to use and to dispose of. Traditional lights can produce a toxic gas which can harm both the environment and the people.

Moreover, LED lights sold in the market is a big step to the people they cater to. They do not contribute to the increase in temperature because they don’t produce ultraviolet rays. Their excessive heat and vibrancy can cause a hazard to our environment.

2. Durable Lighting Design

What we loved the most about LED lights is their durable design. On average, an LED bulb can last from 10 to 15 years. Their lifespan is six times more than a traditional bulb. Even after a decade, the vibrancy of the light is maintained regardless of the daily usage. Since it’s energy efficient, it reduces the number of times required for replacing your lights. The longer lifespan offered by LED lights results in lower carbon emissions.

The durable lighting design of LED lights ensures the safety of the Earth. Lowered number of replacements mean lowered costs in purchasing, delivery, and installation of lights. In line with this, you get to minimize the waste product produced by your home or establishment. The composition of LED lights promotes the efficiency of utilization and disposal. Even at the last second, you get the best value for your money without compromising the safety of the Earth

3. LED Lights Comes in Different Variants

Apart from the amazing specifications of LED lights, they come in different shapes and sizes too. The birth of LED lights introduced the art of lighting. Some light variants feature different colors and vibrancy you can play in just a click away. Smartphones and remotes are used to take control. Moreover, LEDs are more than just bulbs. They come in different types too. Bulbs, floodlights, decorative, strip, and downlights are what the LED light family is comprised of.

LED-lighting-workplace

With these features, you can choose the best LED lights depending on utilization. Some can work indoors, outdoors, and some can be used in both. They are considered as a piece of unique lighting equipment because it gives you the ability to be creative with lighting design. You can use it for home and establishments’ to promote its atmosphere. These lights are commonly found in factories, restaurants, offices, streets, hotels, and walkways.

4. LED Lights are Energy-efficient

On average, you can save up to 90% of electricity costs with LED lights. Unlike traditional lighting, they are an economical choice. Their lighting capability will not require you to fill the room with a number of lights. LED lights are the best example of direct lighting. Lesser number of lights are required to give you the same amount of lighting as traditional lights. There is no energy wasted because it is capable of emitting lights in all directions.

Using LED lights are ideal especially for office buildings and factories. Since they light a bigger space, they save a bigger percentage designated for electricity. LED lights convert 95% of their consumed energy into light and 5% into heat. They will give you the same amount of light as traditional lights with 36 watts consumed. This is a big help to the environment considering that they will demand less energy from power plants and fewer greenhouse gases emitted.

5. LED Lights Promotes Productivity

LED lights have different benefits for their users. They the ability to promote productivity since the lights give you a cool relieving feeling compared to incandescent. These lights enhance your sense of concentration and energy.

Incandescent lights, on the contrary, give you a warm and lazy atmosphere. The heat they produce tends to make you feel cozy. That is why most occupational buildings switch to LED lights to give the employees a sense of focus.

Conclusion

Switching to LED lights alleviate the demand and pressure on the resources of the Earth. We save money and energy from using these and at the same time, we are saving our environment. Knowing that the quality and brightness are not compromised, it’s an economical choice to make. Use these 4 reasons as an eye-opener on why you should switch to LED lights!

Solid Waste Management in South Asia – Practical Action’s Experience

Waste management systems can be divided into a number of steps from collection, storage, transportation, processing, treatment, recycling and final disposal. Integrated solid waste management refers to this entire process and aims to maximise resource use efficiency, with minimal amounts ending up in final disposal sites. During Practical Action’s recent work in the South Asia region, we have gained particular experiences in terms of waste collection, storage and transportation; and secondly waste processing in particular of organic waste.

Waste-Management-Bangladesh

Waste Collection and Transportation

In many cities, waste collection services fail to reach all areas of the town or city. People are left to manage their own waste, which they do by burning and burying it, or dumping on open spaces. Sometimes large bins or skips are provided but they may be irregularly emptied, and also overflow when the contents is picked over by waste pickers and animals.

In Bangladesh, in order to help increase the overall capacity for collecting household waste, Practical Action has promoted a door-to-door collection service run by local NGOs. Residents pay a service charge in addition to their municipal rates, but in return they receive a regular service, leading to a cleaner neighbourhood.

In Faridpur, the local NGO, WORD, with technical backstopping from Practical Action serves more than 5,000 customers with waste collection. There are three main types of customer, non-slum households, slum households and institutions. Slum-based households are charged the lowest tariffs (minimum BDT 10) while the institutional rate is highest (minimum BDT 150).

The numbers of slum households is small because the alternative option of localized composting (with a barrel system) was widely taken up. This is easier than collection through vans and is useful for slum people as they can use the compost later. Waste collectors use small rickshaw vans for the collection service. Recently we have also introduced small small rickshaw vans and small motorized versions for the collection service.

The waste is taken to a composting facility where it is sorted and the organic portion is separated for composting, and in some cases for generating biogas. In 2008, WORD started the waste collection business with only 525 customers. In the last 8 years, the number has increased more than tenfold (5,100 customer per month) making the solid waste management a viable business. It has not only contributed to a better living environment, but also generated green and dignified jobs for 21 waste workers.

The municipal conservancy department continues to play a regulatory and coordinating role through the Waste Management Steering Committee. This meets regularly to discuss any emerging issues and review the progress of door-to-door collection services. The conservancy department continues to manage the sweeping of streets and drains, and collection of waste from some areas of the town, from vegetable markets and slaughter houses. The only recycling and reuse of organic waste is done by WORD, as all municipal waste for now continues to be disposed at an open dumping site where no further treatment, sorting or reuse takes place.

In Nepal, Practical Action has facilitated organic waste management under a public-private partnership model. For example, in Butwal Municipality, a private firm, Marry Gold Concern, collects and manages wastes from 400 households with a monthly service fee of NPR 50 (GBP 0.33) in an area called Ramnagar. The company employs three operators for collecting and managing waste from low income communities. A compost plant has been set up which processes up to 10 metric tonnes of organic waste and generate 5 metric tonnes of compost per month. In addition, recyclable waste, mainly plastic, is sold to scrap dealers, creating another source of income.

Recycling and Disposal by Forming Associations and Enterprises

In Bangladesh, collection services have been organised through existing local NGOs. In Nepal, Practical Action has instead helped to form different groups of Informal Waste Workers (IWW) such as street waste pickers, waste segregators, pheriya (dry waste pickers), scrap owners and door to door collectors.

We have worked intensively  with IWW from five municipalities of Kathmandu Valley. We have facilitated the establishment of a IWWs association called Samyukta Safai Jagaran (SASAJA), and the first waste workers’ cooperative with the same name. These organisations have distributed identity cards to members to increase their recognition as an ‘official’ part of the waste management system. We provided basic safety equipment to 5,622 IWWs, including rain boots/shoes, gloves, masks, raincoats, windcheaters with trouser and wrapper, aprons, cap etc. to minimize health risks.

Basic safety equipment is essential to minimize health risks to informal recycling sector.

Basic safety equipment is essential to minimize health risks to informal recycling sector.

Following capacity building and skill enhancement training from Practical Action, many of the IWW group members have established waste-based enterprises. For example, plastic tearing (PET bottle and carton crushing or pressing) for recycling and reuse; paper recycling and mechanical composting of organic waste. This approach has been scaled up in other municipalities in Chitwan and Rupadehi districts reaching around 350 IWWs there.

Reducing Waste through Home Composting

In Nepal and Sri Lanka, and in some slum communities in Bangladesh, we have promoted barrel composting of organic waste. This has the dual benefit of producing compost locally which can be used for home gardening, and reducing the amount of waste that needs to be collected and disposed of elsewhere.

It can reduce the amount of organic waste coming in to the waste collection stream by about 20-30%. It requires community involvement in waste management system as well as frequent monitoring and troubleshooting. This process ensures source segregation of waste, a necessary condition for proper implementation of the 3R system (reuse, reduce and recycle).

Practical Action has distributed more than 2,000 compost bins in Sri Lanka. Especially in Galle, Kurunegala and Akkaraipattu cities where we have distributed about 1,500 home composting bins from 2006 to 2016. More than 65% of the bins are being regularly used.

Our experience shows that once a locality is provided with home composting, the volume of organic waste into the municipal collection system is reduced around 20-30%. However, this varies greatly by locations. If the local authority strictly monitors the compost bin usage and provides troubleshooting support, waste reduction can reach up to 30%.

Both Kurunegala and Galle municipal councils have upscaled the distribution of bins city-wide with the support of national government funding. This technology was taken up by the private sector and other municipal councils. It has been used widely in the country as a solution for reducing organic waste coming in to the waste collection system. For example, Kandy municipal council has adopted the technology with strict restriction on organic waste collection in the municipality collection system.

The Provincial Agriculture department in Kurunegala and the Coconut cultivation board in Akkaraipattu are both promoting organic agriculture with the usage of composting and are using Practical Action’s work as examples for expansion. The central government has provided seeds and fertilizer to city dwellers, including the urban poor, to promote home gardening.

This has been further expanded by Kurunegala municipal council which has distributed potted plants. Some of the vertical gardening structures promoted by Practical Action are now included in urban gardening models of the Western Province Urban Agriculture unit.

5 Ways Artificial Intelligence is Helping to Save Our Planet

It takes a high level of data analysis to predict the effects of climate change and the implications of our actions to stop and adapt to it. Often, scientists have terabytes of data, but not the computing power to make sense of climate issues like hurricanes. But this level of analysis is possible with artificial intelligence (AI). In fact, AI may be the best weapon we have to combat and adapt to the effects of climate change. That’s because it can analyze large chunks of data from past events and make accurate predictions about future ones.

Today, AI is helping to monitor and predict everything from glacier retreat to commercial waste management. As innovations in “deep learning” march on, AI’s prescience will help inform scientists about climate impacts and policymakers on the most prudent steps for adaptation. Here are some critical ways AI is helping to preserve our planet.

1. Smarter Home Energy Use

AI is helping save the planet by assisting homeowners through energy-efficient smart homes. The Internet of Things and today’s “smart devices” let homeowners control their energy use and lower their monthly bills. Smart thermostats can adjust temperature settings for specific rooms in a house. Smart water sprinklers can change water usage based on weather forecasts. And smart security systems can cut down on false alarms calls — so fewer gas-guzzling trips by first responders. The automation, connection, and prediction power built into these smart devices allow homeowners to lower their carbon footprint.

smart-homes

But smart energy use is not just about conservation — it’s also about the best time to use energy. Peak energy hours like evenings are higher-demand, higher-cost times. Smart devices can automate energy use for low-demand hours. Plus, off-peak times like mid-day are when alternative energy sources like solar and wind contribute the most. Therefore, smart technology promotes renewable energy.

2. Soil Conservation

Soil degradation is a problem often overlooked in the media. But it has serious consequences for humanity’s ability to adapt to and survive climate change. It takes a millennium to generate only three centimeters of topsoil, and soil degradation is happening at a much faster rate. Chemicals, deforestation, erosion, and global warming are major contributors to soil degradation. And if the current rate of degradation continues, the planet’s farmable land could disappear within 60 years, according to United Nations officials.

sustainable agriculture

But farmers and scientists are using AI to help conserve the soil by marshaling complex algorithms along with robots and drones to detect erosion and monitor soil health. For example, one company has developed an agricultural app to help farmers identify nutrient deficiencies within their soil. And farmers are using machine learning to predict the best times to plant, irrigate, and harvest crops based on weather changes. Accurate predictions mean less need for pesticides and fertilizers, which degrade the soil.

3. Exploring and Protecting Oceans

Scientists watch and test the health of oceans because they’re the best indicators of Earth’s health. Microplastics, increased CO2 levels, and ocean acidification are changing the surface of the planet. The key to protecting oceans is exploring and monitoring them for changes. Climate scientists and oceanographers are using AI technology to drive autonomous marine vehicles to the deepest depths. And some companies are developing autonomous garbage collection systems that would help remove plastics and floating debris.

garbage in ocean

Another emerging technology — blockchain — is helping to track fishing and identify illegal behavior. Blockchain is the same technology that powers cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. The technology acts as a transparent ledger for transactions. Blockchain is a decentralized system, which means it operates autonomously and isn’t subject to misuse and abuse. Trust is critical to international treaties that regulate fishing quotas and manage overfishing. Blockchain technology can record each fish (e.g., tuna) with a scannable code uploaded to the ledger. Therefore, retailers, customers, and regulators can confirm that fish are legally caught.

4. Air Pollution Detection

AI is becoming an invaluable tool for tracking our air quality and identifying sources of pollution. During accidental emissions, city air quality officials need to identify and respond quickly. Some European cities are using leak sensors and AI to help create emission maps, predict mortality rates, and estimate financial costs of emergency responses. These data points give decision makers a more accurate view of the air pollution along with more targeted remediation.

air-pollution-repurcussions

In addition to monitoring air pollution, AI is also cutting tailpipe emissions. AI manages self-driving cars to make getting from point A-to-B more efficient. Self-driving automobiles can cut oil consumption and greenhouse gas emissions by 2% to 4% annually. AI and global positioning systems operating driverless tractor-trailer rigs will make deliveries non-stop, faster, and less costly to the planet. Complex algorithms, sensors, and traffic lights are directing traffic flow in some cities. These systems are currently reducing travel time by 25%, braking by 30%, and idling time by 40%.

5. Evaluating the Efficacy of Action

AI is bringing powerful ways to monitor and predict threats to our environment. Synthetic thinking adds value for scientists, officials, and policymakers by giving them deeper looks into current environmental situations. Perhaps, more than anything, AI’s biggest potential lies in figuring out where solutions hit the mark and where they miss. It’s counterproductive to invest resources and time into bad solutions. But that’s highly likely, given the complexity of climate change and adaptation.

Where do we invest? Which coastline needs saving the most? What communities are at a higher risk? With dwindling resources and bigger dangers, we will face some hard decisions in the future about where to deploy our efforts. At some point, those decisions will mean life or death. We will need quick thinking and accurate data. Evaluating our options and predicting their implications is where AI will bring the most value.

5 Ways The Oil Industry Helps To Keep The Environment Clean

When you think of oil companies, it’s likely you don’t also think of “environmentally-friendly”. We see news about spilled oil, burning tankers, and other issues, and assume that all oil companies are disregarding the health of our planet. This simply isn’t the case, and you’ll be happy to know that the oil industry is actually working to keep the environment clean.

Here are five ways the oil industry is helping out with Mother Earth.

1. Information

The first step to improving anything is realizing there’s a problem to begin with, then gathering necessary information on the problem. Every time an oil spill, accident, or fire occurs, the oil industry is gathering precious data to use to combat future problems.

When a spill occurs, it can be devastating for the local ecosystems. Flora and fauna alike are affected by the viscous liquid, often restricting their ability to move, breathe, or perform daily functions. The Deepwater Horizon Rig that caused a massive spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010 was much more than just an industrial and environmental disaster; it was a learning experience for the oil industry.

Scientists and researchers from all over the world descended on the Gulf after the spill, and though we’re still learning from it a decade later, the information that was collected has been incredibly beneficial to the industry and has helped pave the way for new containment processes.

2. Better Pipe Maintenance

Maintaining pipelines is a crucial component of keeping the environment clean. Pipes can rupture, leaking oil or natural gas into the environment or even causing explosions and fires under the right conditions. The oil and natural gas industries have focused heavily on creating better maintenance processes and safety standards for pipelines across the country in recent years.

Not only do faulty pipelines put the environment at risk, but they also put thousands of workers at risk as well. Keeping workers and the environment safe not only shows care for the Earth and the industry’s employees but also helps potentially save millions in cleanup dollars.

3. Decreasing Freshwater Usage

Certain processes, such as fracking or separating oil from sands, use millions of gallons of fresh water. This is incredibly damaging to the environment not only because there’s already a shortage of freshwater on a global scale, but also because the wastewater that’s produced is stored in man-made containment units that aren’t always good at containing it.

Fracking wastewater is laced with chemicals that are both harmful to the environment directly and can contaminate other freshwater sources. The oil industry is working hard to minimize the use of freshwater in fracking and separation processes, as well as reducing the amount of wastewater and improving containment.

There’s also some promise in the area of recycling the water itself for use in future processes. In the US, produced water from fracking is being used in certain applications and even some water treatment plants are focusing on better treatment processes to make the water drinkable.

4. Investing In Renewable Energy

Renewable energy is on the horizon, and with the continued focus on wind, solar, hydro, and even tidal energy, the oil industry is starting to take notice. These energy sources offer a promising future, but as of yet, they’re not able to meet the world’s energy demands in an affordable way.

Right now, gasoline, natural gas, and crude oil are much cheaper and more profitable to source, acquire, and sell to the public. Pipelines can transport natural gas thousands of miles away, serving isolated regions and maintaining a constant flow of raw resources throughout the country.

Not to mention, the Canadian economy is highly invested in oil and natural gas, being the 5th and 6th largest producer of each respectively. However, the oil industry isn’t ignoring renewables. With continued investments, we could see a partial or full transition to renewable energy within our lifetime.

5. Using Technology For Better Planning

As technology improves, so too do the processes by which pipelines are planned and built. With new software, engineers can better plan a pipe’s path through an ecosystem in order to minimize the environmental impact. Better diagnostic software can identify issues long before they become spills or ruptures, and even AI tech is playing a role in the oil industry.

Moving Forward

Believe it or not, the oil industry is committed to a safer and more sustainable world. By using technology and data, the industry is improving its processes and ensuring that renewable energy remains an option for the future of energy production.

How Eco-Friendly Packaging Can Impact Your Business

In today’s world plastic has become an everyday item.  We use plastic in most areas of our lives.  In the home, in schools and workplaces.  Even in the cars and transport we use. But while there is a lot of talk about how bad for the environment plastic is, not a lot of people realise how many types of plastic there are and that not all of them are damaging to the planet.  There are a lot of eco-friendly packaging innovations that are using bio-plastics to offer sustainable solutions.

With a worldwide focus on global warming, there are a lot of ways we can all make changes to help reduce greenhouse gasses.  Studies have shown that close to half of all emissions from the USA can be linked back to the energy used in the production, packaging, shipping, and disposal of food and other consumer products.  If packaging worldwide changed to using sustainable plastics it could have a massive shift in the environmental impact.

What is sustainable packaging?

How can you know if the industrial packaging uses is made from sustainable materials?  A major element to consider is where the materials have been sourced from. For plastic to be classed as sustainable, the raw materials need to be extracted using clean methods.  The chemical properties used are also important as they need to be safe for consumption and won’t release toxins into the products packaged. In these difficult times of the pandemic, sustainable ecommerce packaging is also gaining popularity among leading online stores,

Why should you make the switch?

Cost-saving is always going to be a major factor in motivating manufacturers to change to more eco-friendly packaging options.  And when they can reduce their impact on the environment and reduce their expenses at the same time then it’s a no-brainer.

Luckily there are quite a few cost-effective options available for most packaging needs.  Polyolefin is a lightweight material that can be used in the place of corrugated paper or glass.  When it’s produced it uses less energy than to make the alternative materials which mean fewer greenhouse gasses are emitted.   It also reduces transport and storage costs as it is a much lighter material.  Polyolefin is also easy and cheap to dispose of as it is recyclable, reusable and often compostable as well.  It’s very durable and easy to handle and process so will also cut down on time and labour.

Using recyclable materials is a great way to minimize the amount of plastic waste, but it also has other benefits for your company.

With consumers becoming increasingly aware of the impact of plastics on the environment, it pays for companies to show their customers what they’re doing to help.  Recent surveys in multiple countries found that one in four people would choose a brand that clearly showed their packaging was made with sustainable materials over those that didn’t.  Up to 80% of consumers in America agreed they felt better when they chose to buy items that show they are sustainably produced.

Using more environmentally-safe packaging can also help you increase your market share and expand into countries that have stricter restrictions on product packaging.  When Hewlett Packard made the decision to stop using lead soldering during manufacturing, it gave them access to sell products to countries in the European Union which had previously been unavailable due to the ban on lead products.  This exposed the company to millions of new customers.

What are your choices?

Depending on your industry, there are already a number of sustainable packaging options available on the market. Polyolefin is just one of the materials available but is versatility sees it used in multiple products.  There are shrink film and stretch wrap as well as carded packaging options you can try. Many packaging companies offer rentals on certain machines and equipment.

By making some small changes to your packaging choices, you can have an impact on how your customers view your brand and help the environment at the same time.

12 Ways Small Businesses Can Save Energy

Saving money is important for businesses and saving energy is important for all of us – so here is the perfect mix of both and some great tips for small businesses to save on energy. Remember, these are not the only ways you can save on your energy costs. You have to ensure that you are on the best electricity rate plan that is right for your business. Energy comparison sites like Electricityrates.com can help you find the best rates around your area to suit your business needs. All you need to do is enter your ZIP code, and you’ll get a list of electric providers in your area to choose from based on your preferences.

1. Get A Free Energy Audit

A full energy audit helps identify issues that might be causing energy wastage – these include insulation issues and air leaks. Most electricity utility companies offer these audits free of charge. The inspection not only helps you determine how energy is used but also ways to address energy wastage.  The audit report will also recommend ways to keep your energy usage on the low, such as investing in energy efficient lighting and equipment.

Inquire with Josco Energy Corporation about a free audit.

2. Invest in Energy-Efficient Office Equipment

Energy efficient (energy-star rated) appliances use up less energy as compared to older non-rated ones. That said, it would be advisable for you to lease/buy energy star rated office electronics.  This should help see your energy bills drop significantly, hence substantial cost savings in the long run.

3. Avoid Peak Demand

Peak demand can be defined as the time of the day when there’s a high demand for energy. These are the hours when energy usage is the highest. The typical peak hours start from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.  Reducing your demand for electricity during these times and only running the factory and heavy equipment early in the morning, and later in the evening can help reduce energy consumption. Reducing your demand for energy during peak hours also means the business spends less on energy usage at the end of the day.

4. Use Programmable Thermostats

Smart thermostats make it easy to monitor and control temperatures in the workplace when everyone is in the office (9 – 5), and away. The thermostat can be programmed to turn OFF the heating and cooling appliances during the night, and back ON a few minutes to ‘work hours’. This in return sees you save lots of energy that would have otherwise been wasted had the HVAC systems remained on through the night.

eco-friendly-business-practices

5. Switch Off Lights in Unused Areas

Most offices have an always-on lights setup. This means the lights in all rooms including bathrooms, conference rooms, breakrooms, and even unused corridors. This leads to energy wastage which can be preserved if lights were only turned on when needed. Installing sensors to turn the lights on or off when required could help too.

6. Switch to Energy-Efficient Light Bulbs

Incandescent bulbs use up more energy for the same amount of light when compared to CFLs and LEDs that use just a fraction of it. Switching from incandescent bulbs to CFL or LEDs should help the company use less energy in lighting. This is the simplest and easiest ways to save energy in the workplace.

LED-lighting-workplace

7. Make Use of Natural Light

Always take advantage of the natural sunlight whenever you can. You can do so by drawing the blinds, curtains, and opening the windows to allow the sunlight in. Be sure to switch off lights in well-lit areas well. Letting the sunlight in also means you get passive heating from the sun, hence no need to have the heaters on. While it may seem like nothing, taking advantage of the natural sunlight should help save the business a few kilowatt hours a day.

8. Run Fans

Have fans installed in showrooms, warehouses, kitchens, and offices alike. The fans will help keep the air moving, hence facilitate optimal air circulation. This means the HVAC system will run more efficiently and smoothly translating to lower energy consumption.

9. Power Down Computers and Other Office Equipment When Not in Use

Having everyone power down their computers at the end of the day should help save lots of energy. You might also want to set the laptops to go to sleep or hibernate if not used for a certain number of minutes or hours. Be sure to turn off and unplug other electronic devices from the mains sockets.

Although modern toasters, coffee makers, printers, and other office appliances have a ‘sleep’ mode when not in use, these continue to draw some current if left plugged. Unplugging these will save some more kilowatts. 

10. Avoid ‘Phantom’ Energy

As mentioned earlier, some equipment will continue to draw electricity when plugged in.  That said, making it a habit of unplugging such devices or using a power strip on them, can help save some energy. With a power strip, a simple flip of the switch will cut electricity supply to the connected devices. 

11. Make Adjustments to the Surrounding Landscape

If you have control over the landscape around, you can then use it to your advantage. Energy-efficient landscaping, such as planting trees strategically to block winds and provide shelter, will go a long way in reducing heating and cooling costs.

Planting more trees and vegetation will go a long way in reducing heat in urban settings.

 

12. Involve the Employees

Encouraging the employees to take on energy-efficiency practices can help reduce electricity costs and energy wastage too. Train the employees to turn off their computers after work, switch off lights, as well as use energy efficient appliances in the workplace.

Inspiring them to save more energy should work well for the company. You can see more tips and tricks on how to improve employee energy-saving practices here.

Waste Management in SAARC Countries: Priorities and Cooperation

Waste management in the SAARC countries has occasionally been raised as an area for regional co-operation. It fits in with other more pressing regional concerns such as environmental degradation, food safety, power generation, poverty alleviation and trans-boundary technology transfer. The Dhaka Declaration on Waste Management of 2004, for example, recognises the environmental imperative to promote more effective waste management systems ‘with special attention to addressing the needs of the poor’.

Similarly, the SAARC action plan on Climate Change of 2008 listed waste management as an area for nationally appropriate mitigation actions where regional sharing of best practices could be useful. The 2010 convention on co-operation on the environment, also included waste management among a list of 19 areas for the exchange of best practices and knowledge, and transfer of eco-friendly technology. However, these commitments have rarely turned into concerted action.

waste management in south asia

Effectively tackling the growing waste management crisis has not proved easy for most municipalities. Their capacity to cope has not kept pace with the increasing quantities of waste generated, and yet waste management can be one of the biggest costs of municipal budgets. Often they are able to collect waste only from limited areas of their towns. For the South Asia region, waste collection rates are on average 65%, with wide variations between towns.

At the same time, there is often a very active recycling system through waste pickers and the informal sector, involving large numbers of poor people. Large schemes to recycle, separate and produce useful end-products such as compost have often run into problems if they relied too heavily on donor inputs. Once these were phased out they failed to generate sufficient income from sales to be sustainable.

solid waste management in south asia

A municipal drain choked by garbage in north Indian city of Aligarh

Two global agreements signed in 2015 may help to raise the profile and stimulate greater action on solid waste management. First, the Sustainable Development Goals which include a goal focused on cities and sustainable urban development. Within this, target 11.6 is to “by 2030, reduce the adverse per capita environmental impact of cities, including by paying special attention to air quality and municipal and other waste management”.

This is the first time a global agreement of this sort has included commitments on waste management. Second, the Paris Climate Agreement, with a number of South Asian countries including better management of urban waste as part of their Intended Nationally Determined Contribution.

Solid waste management is already a significant concern for municipal governments across the South Asian region. It constitutes one of their largest costs and the problem is growing year on year as urban populations swell. And yet it is an area that has not received the attention it deserves from policy-makers. There are signs this may change, with its inclusion in the SDGs and in many INDCs which are the basis of the Paris Climate Agreement.

How to Reduce the Ecological Footprint of Wind Turbines

Wind power is the second most widely used renewable energy source in the U.S., just behind hydropower. Unlike solar, wind power creates little to no pollution and requires very little maintenance. However, it has one significant problem — a detrimental effect on wildlife and the local ecosystem.

Industrial wind farms wreak havoc on bird and bat populations, plus they pose an ecological disturbance to the land. While the energy generation is incredibly sustainable, the influence turbines have on local wildlife populations adds controversy to the success of this energy source.

wind-farm-Lake-Turkana-Kenya

The future implementation of wind as a leading source of energy will depend on our ability to reduce its ecological footprint. Employing best practices that work to minimize adverse effects on local habitats will play an integral role in the construction of new farms.

Analyze Data

Determining the exact impact of wind turbines on wildlife is hard to discern. The number of birds and bats killed from direct contact is only one variable. The long-term effects on food chain supplies, population and habitats are hard to quantify. The first step in reducing the environmental impact is determining where the influence is greatest.

Research estimates that in North America alone, wind turbines kill an estimated 140,000 to 328,000 birds each year. This statistic does include other flying creatures, like bats, whose populations have been significantly affected by wind farms.

Bats are essential to the function of our ecosystem and food system. In 2015, the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) added guidelines about the voluntary process of halting turbines at lower speeds during periods of the night when these animals are most active. These efforts may reduce deaths by up to 30%, though research demonstrates an extra delay could potentially increase that number to 90%.

Land Use Planning

Close attention to site selection and preparation may curtail the consequences of wind farms on the surrounding environment. Construction is a major ecosystem disruptor, as installing transmission lines and removing soil can hurt plants and animals in the vicinity. Experts encourage many wind companies to engage in erosion control practices, which includes re-establishing native vegetation and other restoration techniques.

Wind farms are generally criticized by their inflexibility when it comes to site location. Compared to solar panels, which can be installed on buildings and utilized across a diverse array of environments, wind farms are more limited. One benefit, however, is that people can establish these turbines on abandoned industrial land. The ability to re-purpose previously degraded land with a renewable energy source is a victory for wildlife and humans alike.

downned-pylons-windfarm

If the wind is too strong, wind turbines can’t operate safely and must shut down.

A final consideration when it comes to reducing ecological impact includes preventative measures, such as monitoring a habitat before construction. By tracking the environment before breaking ground, builders can better determine the best location for the farm.

Innovative Technology

As wind power becomes a cost-effective and energy-efficient option, advanced technology will lessen the impact of turbines on wildlife. According to U.S Energy Information Administration, the wind industry is collaborating with the U.S government to find optimization solutions.

Several ways exist in which wind farms can reduce their impact on local habitats and take preventative steps affecting animal and bird populations. One example includes Ultrasonic Acoustic Deterrents (UADs), which emit a loud noise that deters bats but is incomprehensible to the human ear.

Other solutions include painting wind turbines purple or shining ultraviolet lights on the structures to alert migratory species. Some manufacturing companies plan to make innovations in how to construct these structures. Changes include alterations to the blade surfaces and more sound-absorbent materials.

A Comprehensive Approach

The cost of wind power has dropped almost 50% in the last four years. With an increased incentive to invest in renewables, experts predict the number of wind farms around the world to grow rapidly in the next decade.

Wind power has many benefits, one of which being that, unlike solar, return on investment for the production and installation of turbines is five to eight months, with each structure designed to produce for at least twenty years. With an increase in implementation, the ecological impact is unavoidable. As a result, the focus will be on reducing the environmental impact of wind turbines, rather than decreasing their utilization as an energy source.

Bioethanol Sector in India: Major Challenges To Overcome

Global demand for fuel efficiency, environmental quality and energy security have elicited global attention towards liquid biofuels, such as bioethanol and biodiesel. Around the world, governments have introduced various policy measurements, mandatory fuel blending programmes, incentives for flex fuel vehicles and agricultural subsidies for the farmers.

In India, the government launched Ethanol Blended Petrol (EBP) programme in January 2013 for 5% ethanol blended petrol. The policy had significant focus on India’s opportunity to agricultural and industrial sectors with motive of boosting biofuel (bioethanol and biodiesel) usage and reducing the existing dependency on fossil fuel.

bioethanol india

The Government of India initiated significant investments in improving storage and blending infrastructure. The National Policy on Biofuels has set a target of 20% blending of biofuel by 2017. However, India has managed to achieve only 5% by September 2016 due to certain technical, market and regulatory hurdles.

In India, sugarcane molasses is the major resource for bioethanol production and inconsistency of raw material supply holds the major liability for sluggish response to blending targets.  Technically speaking, blend wall and transportation-storage are the major challenges towards the biofuel targets. Blending wall is the maximum percent of ethanol that can be blended to fuel without decreasing the fuel efficiency.

Various vehicles are adaptable to various blending ratio based on the flexibility of engines. The technology for the engine modification for flex fuel is not new but making the engines available in India along with the supply chain and calibrating the engine for Indian conditions is the halting phase. The commonly used motor vehicles in the country are not effectual with flex fuel.

Sugarcane molasses is the most common feedstock for bioethanol production in India

Sugarcane molasses is the most common feedstock for bioethanol production in India

Ethanol being a highly flammable liquid marks obligatory safety and risk assessment measures during all phases of production, storage and transportation. The non-uniform distribution of raw material throughout the country, demands a compulsory transportation and storage, especially inter-state movement, encountering diverse climatic and topographic conditions.

Major bioethanol consumers in India are potable liquor sector (45%), alcohol based chemical industry (40%), the rest for blending and other purposes. The yearly profit elevation in major sectors is a dare to an economical ethanol supply for Ethanol Blending Programme. Drastic fluctuation in pricing of sugar cane farming and sugar milling resulted to huge debt to farmers by mill owners. Gradually the farmers shifted from sugarcane cultivation other crops.

Regulatory and policy approaches on excise duty on storage and transportation of ethanol and pricing strategy of ethanol compared to crude oil are to be revised and implemented effectively. Diversifying the feedstocks (especially use of lignocellulosic biomass) and advanced technology for domestic ethanol production in blending sectors are to be fetched out from research laboratories to commercial scale. Above all the knowledge of economic and environmental benefits of biofuel like reduction in pollutants and import bills and more R&D into drop-in biofuels, need to be amplified for the common man.