The 5 Minute Shower

It is tough to beat a hot shower first thing in the morning. Research indicates the average shower length is 8 minutes. The 5 minute shower will save about 7200 gallons of water a year over the 8 minute shower. It’s not just the water you are saving but the energy to heat the water and the sewer processing as well.

When dealing with heated water, one has to remember that there are three costs associated with this commodity. (1) You pay for the water. (2) You pay to heat the water. (3) You pay a sewer fee to discard the waste water.

So, the next time you are standing in the shower thinking, remember the water and gas meter are clicking away. Want another energy and water saving solution? Use your bathing towel more than once. Hang it up to dry and use it again. If you shower every day and use your towel twice, you will cut back your laundry chores by 182 towels per year vs. the old method of new towel every shower! Your mom, wife or person in charge of washing all those towels, will thank you. The 5 minute shower, give it a try.

Jeff Williams

Greening Bakersfield



Rechargeable Batteries for a Greener Planet

rechargeable_batteriesWhen considering the purchase of disposable batteries, please consider that 3 billion batteries are sold annually in the U.S., averaging about 32 per family or 10 per person. Americans throw out approximately 179,000 TONS of batteries per year!

Did you know a common AA rechargeable battery can be recharged 1000 times? With today’s technologies both chargers and batteries have come a long way in extending battery life and capacity. Suppose that you find a great buy on good quality AA disposable batteries at $0.45 a battery. 1000 disposable batteries will cost $450.00 and you will be responsible for responsible disposal. High quality rechargeable AA batteries may cost $2.00 each and there is a chance you could leave them in your will.

Now more than ever, it is possible to buy rechargeable batteries and chargers in common places such as drug or hardware stores. So, do yourself a favor and make a small investment for your family and the planet. Make a change and pick up a charger and rechargeable batteries.

Jeff Williams
Greener Bakersfield



Eco Swimming Pool Pump is a Great Investment

eco_swimming_pool_pump_03A swimming pool is a “must” for surviving a Bakersfield Summer. Nothing offsets a 100 degree Bakersfield summer day better than a quick swim in the backyard pool. But let me ask you a question, do you know how much electricity your blue oasis consumes and the cost associated with this consumption?

The kWh consumption is easy to figure out (Amps x Volts = Watts and remember 1000 watts = 1 kWh), but the cost can range from as cheap as $0.115 or as expensive as $0.410 per kWh depending on your overall home energy consumption and were you fall in PG&E’s 5 tier pricing schedule. Some Bakersfield residents, running a single speed pump, pay more than $350 per month for their swimming pool pump electricity while others frugally only pay $48 per month. I pay $11 per month.

A standard single speed 2hp pool pump motor running 6 hours a day drawing 19.4 amps at 120 volts will consume about 14 kWh. Here’s the math: 19.4 x 120 = 2328 watts. 6 hours x 2328 = 13,968 watts. Convert watts to kWh by dividing total watts by 1000 for a total of 13.96 kWh per day or 418 kWh per month. In the event you operate your pump 12 hours a day and your energy consumption is high enough to enter PG&E’s fifth tier, your cost could be near $342 per month. (Click Read More to Continue)
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Monterey is Greener than Bakersfield

I would like to take a few and talk about city wide green efforts.  What are people in Bakersfield doing to help?  I’m referring to the common individual, the “Everyday Joes.”  I see small green efforts from time to time; however it’s usually somebody trying to sell me something in the name of green. The overall effort in Bakersfield is very poor.

reusable_water_bottleA recent trip to Monterey really opened my eyes. I was extremely impressed with how actively green it is. I saw so many things that just “wowed” me. It seemed like the people of Monterey were working together as a team. One of the main things I noticed was that nearly everybody was walking around with reusable water bottles, all sizes, shapes, and colors. This is a fantastic concept.  People actually using refillable water bottles rather than plastic ones! I even saw a number of walking folks carrying ceramic coffee cups. I would have to say that I was most impressed by the shoppers.  It seemed like atleast 60% of the folks were using reusable shopping bags, and not plastic. A lot of the Monterey businesses were proud to show memberships to different green organizations by sporting stickers on their doors and plaques on their walls.  Beyond that, I have never seen so many Priuses in my life. It seemed like every other car was some sort of hybrid.  All in all Monterey just had a green feeling. It made me feel better inside. It gave me some hope that my hometown of Bakersfield can do it too. But then I had to return home and be reminded of just how far behind we are. (Click Read More to Continue)

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Wasted Days and Wasted Lights

Have you ever noticed how many people forget to turn their porch lights off during the day?  On recent tour of my neighborhood in Bakersfield, I counted 11 homes with the exterior lighting competing with the noon sun. You don’t have to be an eco freak to get this concept.  Turn your porch lights off when the sun is shining!  

My grandfather Stan used to follow my brother and I around his house yelling, “Why are these lights on? These cost money!”  Well, needless to say, I learned that lesson early on in life and it drives me nuts to see people throwing money and resources down the toilet. If it’s yellow let it mellow!  Sorry I got side tracked.  The only redeeming factor in this energy wasting fiasco is that 8 out the 11 homes with their lights left on had CFL’s.  But, come on! Let’s do the math.  For arguments sake we will assume that the CFLs are 13 watt bulbs, and the incandescents are 40 watt bulbs. Lets also say each house has 2 lights on. (Click Read More to Continue)

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The Fall of the Incandescent Army

It was a grim site, 48 of them, all lying without movement.  Not but moments earlier they were all so full of energy, living their shinny happy lives.  Now….. darkness, but only till the new regime moves in.

The Fall of the Incandescent Army

It all started several months ago with an audit , a walk around the house with my clipboard and an agenda. The agenda you ask? Complete and utter bulbacide. Ok, seriously… my plan?? My plan was to replace every incandescent light bulb in my entire house. This turned out to be more of a task then I could have ever imagined. There were so many wattages, sizes, shapes, and colors of CFL’s. I mean there was warm white, soft white, full spectrum, full spectrum daylight, halogen white, and many more that I can’t remember! Then there was Kelvin, do I want 2700 Kelvin, 3500 Kelvin, maybe 4100 Kelvin, wait, wait perhaps 6500 Kelvin!?  I had no idea what kind of compact florescent to buy to replace what incandescent bulb. All I knew was I had almost 50 bulbs to replace. (Click Read More to Continue)

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Chilipepper Hot Water Pump Saves 15,000 gallons a year!

chilipepper_appliance_01Yes, another green gadget that saves time, water and energy.
It seems that sometimes we humans cope with inefficiencies and inconveniencies when we really do not have to. My master bath shower is located the absolute longest distance from the hot water heater. The normal winter season bathing procedure is to turn on the master shower 5 minutes before use as to allow the hot water enough time reach this seemingly remote location. Even with a low to moderate flow shower heads, way too many gallons of water spew into the sewer.

I knew of hot water pumps on timers, recirculation lines, and expensive plumbers, but never could justify the rumored $1000.00 cost or the thought of my water heater in a constant “running” state from 5am to 9am. And what about the occasional noon shower? (Click Read More to Continue)

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Whole Lotta Fan aka Whole House Fan

Here’s another tip before you go solar: install a whole house fan. I bought my AirScape Whole House Fan (WHF) about two years ago along with a couple of watt busting buddies of mine.  This summer we installed four more fans for our friends; they couldn’t stand to hear us bragging about how much we liked our fans and how little we had to use our AC’S in these hot Bakersfield summers.  I do have a small home (1230 sqft) that was built in the 1980’s, no pool.  My wife is a teacher and is home during the summer and my largest PG&E bill last summer was $147.38 including gas. (Click Read More to Continue)

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TED Unit Helps Save Energy

the_energy-detective_02I will admit, I love gadgets, and gadgets that help save energy and money are even better!  Not too long ago, my household utility bill was a major monthly expense ($500+ some months). My home is 2500 sq. ft. with a swimming pool.  My wife, myself, and our two children live in the home year round.  Over the past two years my family and I have been focusing on reducing our kWh consumption.  We have changed incandescent bulbs to energy efficient CFL’s and have even started using LED lighting. We have also upgraded our older appliances to newer Energy Star rated appliances.  Within a few short months, we were able to cut our kWh usage in half! Over the first year alone, our annual energy bill was slashed by 2600 dollars.  Now, with the help of “The Energy Detective”, I am saving even more energy, and energy equals dollars.

Last month I purchased “The Energy Detective” also known as TED.  TED is an energy monitor that allows my family to see our kWh consumption in real time!  TED can also keeps a running daily kWh total.  The TED unit was also super easy for my electrician friend Tim to install. Once the TED unit was installed and up and running, I was enthralled with turning different lights and appliances on and off to check their kWh draws. (Click Read More to Continue)

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Hurry to Rite Aid, Rebates on CFL’s!

I have had all my green friends tell me about these so called rebates on compact fluorescents that appear at different stores from time to time. Throughout my tours to different stores in Bakersfield, California I still had not seen the illusionary rebated CFL’s. Until one day, when I received a call from my girlfriend who was excited about finally finding the CFL Garden of Eden. She was at Rite-Aid in Northwest Bakersfield and said there were all types of CFL’s, all on sale for $.99 a pack. Not per bulb, per pack! They had several different types of packs in stock including packs of 3 100 Watters for $.99, and packs of 2 dimmables for $.99 (these are normally $7 to $10 dollars each). Like a mad stock broker, I yelled over the phone BUY BUY BUY! She picked up a plethora of bulbs amounting to whopping $16.09. For this small amount of cash I got 46 CFL bulbs! The rebates were instant and provided by PG&E and Sempra Energy. (Click Read More to Continue)

rebate_cfl_bulbs_03

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Try the Waterless Urinal at Lengthwise Brewing Company

On a road trip to Las Vegas, I encountered a waterless urinal in a restroom at a bus stop, in Barstow, California. I immediately thought of the water savings and conveniences this unit would offer my business. I decided to adopt the same thinking and in place of the old water-wasting urinal is now a waterless replacement. Basic math indicates this new green restroom unit will save approximately 15,000 gallons of water per year over a traditional gallon per flush unit.

We are excited about the water savings as well as the prospect of not having to use a plunger.  There is nothing worse than plunging a urinal.  I don’t know if there is a special plunger for a urinal vs. a toilet, but the standard plunger always explodes the contents of the plugged urinal all over you and the walls.  Why does anyone feel the need to flush a toothpick, gum wrapper, bumper sticker, paper towel, blister pack, sharpie cap, or business card down the urinal, anyway?  Similar to the plunger vs. urinal fiasco, the overflowing urinal on a busy Friday night will not be missed.  We had our traditional “flushing” urinal in place for 6 years and as mentioned above, it was continually a battle. (Click Read More to Continue)
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Before You Go Solar

Don’t get me wrong, I like the idea of solar.  We installed solar on our business and I plan to install solar on my home one day.  But, before you install $20,000 ($7,000 after rebates) worth of solar PV panels on the roof, please perform an analysis of your current energy consumption habits. Check out what I did at the business to be more efficient.

 

Lengthwise Brewing Company, my workplace, installed a small solar system that produces 1.2 kWh per hour for five hours a day.  After a quick investigation, I found that the system would not even provide enough energy to power the 25 track lights that provide ambiance lighting!  Each track light bulb was a 50 watt halogen bulb.  Therefore, the math goes like this:

 

Consumption Math (halogen bulbs)
25 bulbs x 50 watts = 1250 watts or 1.25 kWh
The lights are on for 12 hours a day
12 hours x 1.25 kWh = 15 kWh

 

Solar PV production Math
1.2 kWh x 5 hours = 6 kWh per day

(Click Read More to Continue)
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