January 10 is National Cut Your Energy Costs Day

It’s a new year, and a new opportunity to save both energy and money.

National Cut Your Energy Costs Day January 10 AlbuquerquePerhaps you’ve been meaning to take some steps to save energy, but just haven’t gotten around to it yet. You’ve read articles, seen videos, and heard from your friends and co-workers about all of the cool “green” trends that have emerged over the last several years.
Well why put off until tomorrow what you can do TODAY? (I know, I know.Procrastination can sometimes be a good thing. But seriously – some of this stuff is easy peazy!) Let’s get started implementing some of your energy-saving new year’s resolutions!

 

Lighting Tips

  • Turn them off. This sounds like a no-brainer as it is the absolute easiest and cheapest way to save your energy costs. Future generations thank you for flipping off the switch.
  • Consider the use of dimmer-switches. There are likely spots in your home or office that don’t necessarily need to use a bulb’s full power at all times of use. Dimmer-switches make it easy to control the amount of artificial light.
  • Motion sensors are another way to reduce energy use when no one is around. These are perfect for slow retail spaces, public bathrooms, and offices. When all employees are so hard at work that the lights switch off due to low movement around the office, 30 watt replacements in individual desk lamps come in very handy.
  • Time to upgrade to CFLs. Or even better – LEDs. Check out this Light Bulb Savings Calculator from National Geographic to determine how switching to modern low-energy replacements can benefit you over the long-run.
  • Consider a retrofit. If you are a business owner, or work for a business that is interested in reducing energy costs, there is nothing easier than enlisting the help of your local energy solutions company (like us, if you’re in New Mexico!). Estimates are free, and we’ll do a full energy audit for your business to determine where you can best utilize modern lighting technology.

Heating and Cooling

  • Use blinds or curtains. For cooler climates, consider the use of thermal curtains.
  • Mind your thermostat. You can save up to 10% each year on heating and cooling energy costs by lowering your thermostat 7-10 degrees for about 8 hours/day. If remembering to turn the thermostat down or off is just one more thing to add to your already crowded to-do list, consider using automation and programming tools. They are coming down in price year after year! Perhaps 2014 is the year to make your home a smart home? Hmmm?
  • The fireplace is not always a good thing. Older, wood-burning fireplaces can actually be inefficient by drawing more heated air out of your home through the chimney – more so than the amount of heat the fire itself can produce. If you’re going to burn in these kind of fireplaces, turn your thermostat down to about 55°F.
  • Windows. Consider upgrading to thicker-pane glass in your windows. Some companies, utility providers, and government agencies will even provide rebates or tax incentives. This should be a last-resort option on your energy-saving to-do list, as the cost of a window replacement project can be quite high.
  • Seal up cracks and gaps along windows, doors, and siding with caulk and weather stripping.
  • Keep up maintenance on your furnace and air conditioners. Check the unit’s efficiency rating, and consider replacing if your current one is out-dated, or too costly to maintain and replace. Furnaces with an AFUE (Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency) rating of at least 92 and an efficient blower motor are your best bet. For cooling, look for a unit with a SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating) of 14 or more.

For more energy-saving tips around the home and office, check out the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Savers Guide.

Sandia Labs Develops Inexpensive Technology for LED Covers

Titanium Dioxide nanoparticle technology
Sandia National Laboratories researchers Dale Huber, left, and Todd Monson have come up with an inexpensive way to synthesize titanium-dioxide nanoparticles, which could be used in everything from solar cells to light-emitting diodes. (Photo by Randy Montoya)

Sandia National Laboratories has come up with an inexpensive way to synthesize titanium-dioxide nanoparticles and is seeking partners who can demonstrate the process at industrial scale for everything from solar cells to light-emitting diodes (LEDs).

Titanium-dioxide (TiO2) nanoparticles already show great in the production of reflective coatings on signs and optical encapsulants (a fancy term the outer-cover, usually made of silicone) for LEDs, solar cells and other optical devices.

Commercial practices have in the past turned away from TiO2 nanoparticles because they are expensive, difficult to produce and current methods result in particles that are too large. Sandia became interested in TiO2 for optical encapsulants because of its work on LED materials for solid-state lighting systems.

Sandia’s technique uses readily available, low-cost materials and results in nanoparticles that are adequately small, roughly uniform in size and don’t clump.

 

“We wanted something that was low cost and scalable, and that made particles that were very small,” said researcher Todd Monson, who along with principal investigator Dale Huber patented the process in mid-2011 as “High-yield synthesis of brookite TiO2 nanoparticles.”

The next step is to demonstrate synthesis at an industrial scale, which will require a commercial partner. The Lab is already in communications with several interested companies interested in commercializing this technology.

Sandia Labs is not set up to produce the particles on a commercial scale, so partnering with an outside company is the best way to get this technology into products for the end user.