Throughout North America builders construct homes with no regard with how the sun beams down on the, causing many homes to overcompensate with excessively large air conditioning units. This means that do to poor thinking by the builder the homeowner has an increased cost of operating their home.
If you live in one of those buildings built with no regard for the environment there are things you can do to save some money:
While we often think of curtains and drapes as “window dressing,” their primary function, like that of conventional roller blinds and louvered blinds, is to prevent glare and provide privacy. They can also save quite a lot of energy during the cooling season. According to LBNL research, when installed over clear (not low-e) glass, these attachments alone can block 20%–60% of solar gain (depending on material and color), reducing or preventing the need for air conditioning. For comparison, the highest-performing low-solar-gain windows on the market have an SHGC of 0.20 or lower. While that means that those windows block 80% of solar gain while still permitting a somewhat darkened view, they don’t provide much privacy, so many people will still use curtains or blinds.
Combining the two is a good bet: the curtains offer privacy, while the low-SHGC windows block the sunlight before it gets into the house, which is much more effective (more on this in the discussion of awnings below). One drawback of using curtains or drapes is that you may end up with dark rooms and need to turn on lights, which can cut into energy savings. Louvered blinds can be adjusted at the top to let some daylight reflect off the ceiling, but this light will bring some heat with it—especially if you have clear glass rather than low-e. Another option may be a solar screen that filters sunlight and prevents solar gain but still permits a view—although curtains may still be needed for nighttime privacy.
There’s a lot of information and tips on how to improve your windows here.
As the internet continues its growth it consumes more and more electricity because larger server and data centres are required. Microsoft has come up with a brilliant idea to allow ‘the backbone’ of the internet to continue to grow while helping heat houses and providing a faster internet.
Microsoft has released a research paper that suggests that small data centers be put in people’s home and heat those homes using excess heat from the servers.
The research paper comes at a time where internet properties like Facebook, Google, and Microsoft are building huge data centers housing thousands of servers that simply pump their hot exhaust into the frigid air of Oregon, or other chilly states. There have been a few prototype data centers that use their waste heat to warm the houses in local towns, but Microsoft’s Data Furnaces take this idea to the next step: instead of building mega data centers that are efficient in terms of scale, Data Furnaces are micro data centers that are housed in the basements of regular homes and offices. These Data Furnaces, which would consist of 40 to 400 CPUs (between 1 and 10 racks), would be ducted directly into the building’s heating system, providing free heat and hot water.
The genius of this idea is that Data Furnaces would be provided by companies that already maintain big cloud presences. In exchange for providing power to the rack, home and office owners will get free heat and hot water — and as an added bonus, these cloud service providers would get a fleet of mini urban data centers that can provide ultra-low-latency services to nearby web surfers. Of course the electricity cost would be substantial — especially in residential areas — but even so, the research paper estimates that, all things considered, between $280 and $324 can be saved per year, out of the $400 it costs to keep a server powered and connected in a standard data center. From the inverse point of view, heating accounts for 6% of the total US energy consumption — and by piggybacking on just half of that energy, the IT industry could double in size without increasing its power footprint.
The main problem with Data Furnaces, of course, is physical security. Data centers are generally secure installations with very restricted access — which is fair enough, when you consider the volume and sensitivity of the data stored by companies like Facebook and Google. The Microsoft Research paper points out that sensor networks can warn administrators if physical security is breached, and whole-scale encryption of the data on the servers would ameliorate many other issues. The other issue is server management — home owners won’t want bearded techies knocking on their door every time a server needs a reboot — but for the most part, almost everything can now be managed remotely.
Read the rest of the article at Extreme Tech.
Despite the local mayors attempts to stop cycling in Toronto, Torontonians are all about bicycling into the future. Now a local women’s shelter has stepped up to help women of Toronto in a related way: by providing the women they help with wheels.
The idea, the shelter said in a news release is to “provide women with access to bikes that will not only increase their mobility and physical wellness, but most importantly allow them to connect with their community, access support, and have some fun in the process.”
Kiki Iverson has already donated a bike and she posted a call for others to join her on her Facebook page.
The women who use the shelter need bikes, said Iverson, but they also “need friends. They need family. They need community. They need help for sure.”
“One of the primary things we’ve heard from women is the sense of freedom and being able to get around,” said Hogg. “Being able to get out of the house and the confidence that comes from being active.”
Read the full article here
Also the CBC has an interactive element dedicated to bicycle infrastructure in Canada.
After holding out for years Things Are Good is finally on Twitter. Now you can find out when new posts (and thus new good news) are published using your twitter feed.
Check out our profile and follow us on Twitter! We’re known as @YoGoodNews.
We’re so Web2.0 right now! Anybody else remember that?
Have a great weekend!
System Change wants to protect the environment by systems thinking. Change the system, save the planet.
I’ll keep following this project and update everyone once they launch in September, in the meantime you can help the project.
The popular slogan: “system change not climate change” has become central to a growing and vibrant global movement for climate justice. But what does “system change” mean? And what does it have to do with the climate crisis? This project features videos from a range of speakers including academics, workers and activists who address these questions, talk about why we need system change, and give examples of new ways forward.
The project aims to build awareness and inspire actions for climate justice in Canada and around the world through the organizing of community-based teach-ins on climate justice.
Check out SystemChange.ca