It already warms our days, helps our plants to grow, and gives our skin a rich tone, so what else would you ask from the sun? How about to help out with the electricity bill! Solar power has been well known for decades but is recently gaining steam in the housing sector thanks to many energy friendly financial incentives. There is about 7 billion years of energy left in the sun, why not tap in to it?
“Sure, The Sun Is Free But The Technology Isn’t”
It is no secret that obtaining solar power for your home used to come with an astronomical price. Just like the flat screen TV, MP3 Player, and your cell phone, solar technology has become more advanced and more abundant, thus driving the initial cost down. With the popularity of “green” electricity growing, the federal government offers a “Federal Solar Tax Credit” where you can be eligible to receive 30% off the total cost of your solar power system.
A Well Lit Road to Savings
How long will it take to see a return on your newly established solar power? Obviously this depends on the size of the system you choose to install. However, the average installed system cuts down user’s electricity bill by 50% and sometimes eliminates it entirely. Say you bought an $18,000 system, take out the Federal Solar Tax Credit and you’re system now cost you $12,600. If your current energy bill is $150/month, if the system cuts your bill in half to $75/month, you would save $900 a year. At that rate, it would only take 14 years to pay for itself and if you plan to live in that home for longer than that, you’re saving money. These panels have a 25 year performance warranty and most systems can last for more than 30 years! Remember, electricity rates are nearly guaranteed to keep increasing and as those increase, so do your savings, essentially helping the system to pay for itself even sooner. Even if you do not plan to live at that home for more than 14 years, the system has already added value to your home upon selling it.
A bolt of lightning is one of nature’s most fascinating sights. While it is usually followed by the roaring boom of thunder, the flash of a lightning bolt is remembered by all who have seen it.
In an electrical storm, the storm clouds are charged like giant capacitors in the sky. The cloud’s upper portion is positive and the lower portion is negative. There are three primary types of lightning; from a cloud to itself (intra-cloud or IC); from one cloud to another cloud (CC) and between a cloud and the ground (CG).
Although lightning primarily occurs when warm air is mixed with colder air masses, resulting in the necessary atmospheric disturbances for polarizing the atmosphere. About 70% of lightning occurs over land in the tropics where atmospheric convection is the greatest.
On Earth, the lightning frequency is approximately 40–50 times a second or nearly 1.4 billion flashes per year and the average duration is 30 microseconds.
Our sleep cycle is affected by melatonin and light. When the sun goes down, the pineal gland secretes melatonin and that helps us sleep. Melatonin has also been shown to help with immune system issues, age related disorders and even the shrinking of tumors. New research has shown though, that when we have artificial lights on, even in dim settings, we are affecting melatonin levels and that is causing issues with the breast cancer drug, Tamoxifen. Continue reading “Lighting and Breast Cancer Drugs”
After a 2 year reprieve from the US Department of Energy, it’s time to replace your 700-series T8 general service fluorescent lamps and Philips is going to help you do that immediately. The phase-out period began a few weeks ago, July 14th, 2014. It involves more than just the 8-foot high-output 700 series T-8s; the 4-foot medium bi-pin, 2-foot U-shaped, 8-foot Slimline are also included.
In response to the required change for new energy efficiency and lumens per watt requirements, Philips has changed its 700 Series T8 Lamps and added ALTO II Technology, which offers the lowest mercury content in the lighting industry while providing 8-10% additional lumens per the DOE requirement. The ALTO II technology is TCLP compliant and only has 1.7 mg of mercury. This will reduce the impact on the environment but is not going to change the performance of the GSFL. This is 50% less mercury that the original T8 lamps.
There will be an additional cost to the new 700 Series T8s because there is a higher cost in the manufacturing process. The price increase is 15-25%. Philips will be adding the cost to existing orders – as more and more companies will be making the required switch.
To start off July, Detroit announced it had installed its 10,000th LED street light and was on track to add 55,000 more. Lighting Motor City is no easy task but Detroit’s Mayor says this project has helped some neighborhoods be illuminated for the first time in years leading to safer streets at night. On a larger scale, news like this for the lighting industry is even bigger.
Recent research published in Advanced Materials and Nature magazines shows a breakthrough in the usage of copper wire and how it can store energy. The research could mean even smaller electronics and clothes that act as batteries!
A nanotech scientist believes by using a thin sheath that surrounds lightweight electrical copper wire, he can store energy. We already know that all metals, including copper, form crystals that have free floating electrons that can move between associated atoms. That’s why electrical charges can come from one end of a wire to the other – basically electrons are shoving each other out of the way for the charge to move. Copper does this extremely well. But, now, the same wire that transmits electricity can also store extra energy.
Be Prepared for Severe Weather with a Backup Generator!
We are in bad weather season – from tornadoes and severe storms tearing across the Mid-West to hurricanes and tropical storms on the East Coast. The amount of times the power has gone out in areas in northern Illinois Indiana and Southern Wisconsin is already too high to count. But, there’s an easy way to keep you and your family out of the dark in a storm.
Why Do I Need a Backup Generator?
Since 2012, one in every four homeowners has experienced a power outage lasting 12 hours or more, according to a recent Harris Interactive survey. Property damage averaged more than $1,900. Most homeowners don’t consider the need for a backup generator until they actually need one because the electricity has gone out. During the humid summer or frigid winter, we only recognize the weather issues when the A/C or Heater is down and we have no lights! But, at this point, it’s too late.
Portable Generators Vs. Standby Generators
There are an increasing number of homeowners as well as businesses that are considering or have already bought a backup generator. Most homeowners think a portable generator will do them good…and, in some situations, they do work just fine. This is an immediate solution to an emergency power outage that can run home essentials. Plus, you can bring it with you camping or to a tailgater! Standby generators, though, offer a more powerful solution when the electricity goes out…especially if it goes out for longer than a few hours. Standby generators automatically turn on when a power outage occurs. They are piece of mind for homes as well as business.
An initiative created to increase tourism for the city, called “Choose Chicago” was announced this month by Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s office. A request for proposal has been put out to create a city-wide framework to illuminate some of Chicago’s most famous landmarks.
The city is looking for a company to light up the Willis Tower, 180 bridges throughout the city over the Chicago River, CTA platforms, the modern wing addition at the Art Institute and the Pritzker Pavilion at Millennium Park.
The proposal notes that at the present time the city has seven disconnected areas such as Navy Pier, the John Hancock building, Michigan Avenue, the Chicago River, Millennium Park, Willis Tower, Buckingham Fountain and the museum campus along Lake Shore Drive. The lighting plan work create an illuminated connection that would encourage tourists to explore the neighborhoods within the city.
Emanuel is looking to boost the city’s standing as a worldwide destination for tourists and the bid documents feels the light plan could help make that happen. The bidding process is meant to generate ideas and at this time there is no estimate as to how much the lighting network would cost or how much electricity it would take. In addition light pollution within the city has long been a topic of debate and this may be an issue as well.
One of the bigger takeaways from LIGHTFAIR 2014 in Las Vegas earlier this month was how quickly the world of lighting changes – not in terms of years, but in terms of months. We already know LED lighting has permeated our daily lives starting in offices, moving into homes and in our cars. As the industry changes, the demand to make our lights more efficient while maintaining optimal light output is key.Continue reading “The Future Business of Lighting”
Every year, especially if you live in a city, you can see less and less stars. Light pollution from homes, businesses, cars makes it harder and harder to enjoy the night sky. This is what started the “Dark Sky” movement and has prompted some towns and cities to implement Dark Sky ordinances. If you are preparing to change the outdoor lighting at your home or business, you might want to consider not only the efficiency of your lights but their ability to light the ground rather than the sky.
Everything that makes light reduces our ability to see the heavens.
We all know this when we head out of town. Not properly shielding lights allows that light to travel upwards, blocking what is coming down from the heavens. Skyglow in cities, that’s the orange haze you see over major metro areas is mostly manmade by our over-illumination. But there are ways you can, even just a little, help curb that skyglow.
Use the lowest wattage of lamp that is feasible. The maximum wattage for most commercial applications should be 250 watts of high intensity discharge lighting, but less is usually sufficient.
Incorporate curfews (i.e. turn lights off automatically after a certain hour when businesses close or traffic is minimal).
In regards to safety, one needs only the right amount of light, in the right place, at the right time. More light often means wasted light and energy.
While some of these aren’t feasible in the larger cities, considering Dark Sky options is a great way to save money on your electrical bills while also keeping the stars shining bright for the next generation, and also earn LEED points – www.usgbc.org/leed/certification