Monday, October 30, 2017

GM Increasing Use of Renewable Energy to 20%

General Motors made a recent announcement that its manufacturing facilities in Ohio and Indiana will now use 100% renewable energy. GM is purchasing 200 megawatts of wind energy and by the end of 2018, 20% of GM's global electricity use will be powered by renewable energy.

Rob Threlkeld, global manager of renewable energy, told Energy Manager Today, "The first step in meeting our 100 percent renewable energy commitment is reducing the energy intensity of our operations overall. All seven facilities that will have their electricity needs met through this wind deal have achieved the ENERGY STAR Challenge for Industry, meaning they reduced energy intensity by at least 10% in five years or less."

GM has been one of America's biggest purchasers of renewable energy for decades. The company has saved approximately $5 million annually in doing so. They use solar power at 26 facilities and are continuously working towards using 100% renewable energy at all of their facilities.

Easy Ways to Save Energy At Home

There are multiple easy ways to save energy at home and contribute to the planet becoming more environmentally-friendly. If you don't know where to begin, read the list below to get some ideas on how to start saving energy.

Reduce, reuse, and recycle -- purchase minimally packaged goods, choose reusable products when possible, and recycle, recycle, recycle.

Insulate your walls and ceilings and update your windows. While this might be one of the more expensive ways to save energy in your home, it will pay off in the long run when you have to spend less on heating and cooling. You can also consider installing a programmable thermostat to save up to 10% on your cooling and heating costs.

Replace and clean your air filters. Energy costs can go up when air conditioners or hot-air furnaces have to work harder to get air through dirty air filters. Simply cleaning your air filters can save up to 175 pounds of CO2 each year.

Switch out your light bulbs with energy-efficient compact fluorescent bulbs. These bulbs use one-fourth the energy of a normal incandescent bulb.

Make sure your dishwasher and washer are always full before running them to avoid wasting water.
If possible, walk, carpool, or ride your bike instead of driving your car. In doing this, you will reduce your carbon footprint.

There are many easy ways to save energy at home, and these are a few good places to start. Over time, it will become easier for you to go green and hopefully, the rest of the planet will join you.


Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Who's in Charge of Energy Regulations in the U.S.?

Regulating the energy industry in America is not done by just one regulatory organization, but rather many different organizations that each focus on something specific. These organizations can either be created by federal law or be part of government agencies and provide varying levels of energy regulations. This article provides a brief introduction to the companies that oversee the energy regulations in the U.S. energy industry.

U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)

DOE was created in 1977 and has the broadest responsibilities in the energy regulations of power generation and electric suppliers and distribution at the federal level.

U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC)

The NRC was created by Congress in 1974. After the passing of the Energy Reorganization Act, NCR was to oversee the growing nuclear energy industry. The commission is led by five commissioners selected by the U.S. Senate and is in charge of regulating the creation of nuclear energy, as well as the use of nuclear materials. In addition to inspecting and licensing nuclear power plants and reactors, the commission also has the responsibility of regulating uranium mining and nuclear waste.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC)

After the Federal Power Act of 1920, FERC was created. This organization oversees the electricity, oil, and natural gas industries. Some additional responsibilities include:
  • Reviewing electricity project proposals
  • Inspecting public and private sector electricity plants
  • Providing licenses for electricity plants
  • Regulating interstate wholesale electricity agreements
  • Monitoring the electricity markets
  • Enforcing regulations

Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE)

Surface coal and related environmental affairs are regulated by the OSMRE. In 1977, the Surface Control and Mining Act created the bureau. A prime duty of OSMRE includes working with Americans to confirm land and water quality after a mining project has been completed.

National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

Founded more than 100 years ago, NIST promotes scientific innovation within areas including:
  • Nanotechnology
  • Computer Chips
  • Energy Production

Research is sponsored by the institute and it also recognizes achievements in areas it supports. It also focuses on sustainable energy development. Renewable energy sources are becoming increasingly available. In fact, about 10% of U.S. energy consumption was from renewable energy sources in 2015.

Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM)

With offices in California, Alaska, and Louisiana, BOEM's main focus is environmental protection. The agency's responsibilities include management of oil and gas leases, environmental reviews, as well as additional renewable energy projects.
Another key responsibility is managing marine energy exploration and mining in Alaska, the Pacific regions, and the Gulf of Mexico.

All of these organizations work together in ensuring that all organizations in the United States are following regulations and working towards keeping the country productive yet safe.

Monday, October 9, 2017

3 Energy Saving Tips To Prepare You for Fall

Fall and winter might bring their own wonders like foliage, snowfall, pumpkin spice, and peppermint, but they can be killer when it comes to your energy bill. In this post, we will discuss how to prepare yourself for the coming cold of winter and provide some handy energy conservation tips.

Switch Your Light Bulbs
You've likely already noticed the days are getting shorter. While we're still a ways from the shortest day of the year, it won't be long before the decreasing amount of sunlight will have an effect on your utility provider bill. One of the easiest energy conservation tips is to consider replacing your old light bulbs with more energy efficient offerings. Today's halogen incandescent, LED, CFL lights can save you between a third and 80% of your energy usage.

Check for Leaks in Heating Vents
While a lot has been said about the importance of improving the insulation in your home (especially the attic), people are surprisingly silent about one of the largest contributors to heat loss, and therefore energy waste. Take the time to have your metal heating vents checked for any leaks and remember, metal constricts when it is cold, so a venting system that's sound in summer might have sprung a leak by the time October or November rolls around. It could save you as much as 20% with your energy company.

Set Your Thermostat Modestly
What feels better than stepping in for a chilly autumn evening and being enveloped in the warm air of your home. But if you're interested in saving on your electricity or concerned with your environmental impact, then you might want to reconsider your thermostat setting. Even setting your thermostat two degrees lower during the winter can save the typical homeowner 420 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions each year. It can also have a big impact on the total cost of your electricity bill. So stock up in advance on cozy sweaters and blanket in order to help you keep warm without using as much energy, or consider a small solar powered space heater to help maximize the amount of heat you take in from the sun during the day.
Fall and winter can be killer if you're someone who cares about reducing energy use. But with these energy conservation tips, you'll be able to start preparing for the cooler half of the year.