Friday, January 30, 2009

Found: Long Lost White House Solar Panels

For a while now I have been researching the idea of putting some solar panels on my house to generate power for hot water or heating a room or two. I have had solar exterior lights for a couple of years and even tried a solar powered water fountain in my back yard last year (but the angle of the sun in my patio is poor, so it only worked a couple of hours each day).

I ran across this blog post from Google the other day about President Carter's solar panels he had installed on the White House, that Ronald Reagan later removed. The panels were found in the GSA warehouse by a college in Maine and put to good use. Now one of the panels is located in Google's Reston, VA office and the rest are powering the college's hot water for their cafeteria.

Now, lets see if Obama can get some of these re-installed pronto!

Article Here

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Plastic or Paper?

One big impact we have is at the grocery store, when we decide if we want plastic or paper. Or, better yet, utilize the reusable bags that many stores offer for a small fee. That is what I am going to start doing. But, from time to time, I do need plastic bags to clean up after my dog in the park or in the back yard, and we do use paper bags sometimes to collect our old newspapers for recycling. So, the best answer is neither (use reusable bags so you don't create any more waste), but below you will find some very interesting information about paper and plastic bags.

Energy Efficient Homes

One thing we can all do that will help the environment, and our own bank accounts, is to make sure your house is as energy efficient as possible. My wife and I live in a 1950's rambler in Northern Virginia. And as older houses settle and out of sight means out of mind, there are lots of places where heat (and AC in the summer) is flowing right out of the house.

So I started thinking about windows, doors, attic insulation, sealing/filing cracks, etc..and found a great resource at the government's Energy Star program website

More specifically, there are PDF documents you can download and print that will walk you through your own mini energy audit that you can do yourself, or they point you to local Energy Consultants. For me, I used the PDF documents to seal my drafty doors/windows, and add insulation to my attic myself. So far, I am adding about 2 degrees to the indoor temperature of our master and guest bedrooms, which you can definately feel when waking up each day.

Article Here

Great read: Thomas Friedman's Hot, Flat, and Crowded

I am currently reading a great, thought provoking book from Thomas Friedman; Hot, Flat and Crowded. Have not finished it yet, but so many topics to think about from the politics of oil, to over-crowding of the planet, to CO2 emissions and melting ice caps. It really makes you want to do your part to try and help, but also illustrates the incredible challenge all people and all countries have to try to reverse the effects. Below is a link to the book.