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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Understanding your Bakersfield PG&E electric bill

I am always amazed at how many people do not fully comprehend their electric bill and PG&E’s pricing structure. Once you understand how PG&E configures residential electric bills, you can effectively begin reducing your overall cost.  In November 2008 I began working with a long time friend on cutting his kWh consumption in Northwest Bakersfield. We started by replacing incandescent bulbs with CFL lighting and adjusting his pool pump to winter mode.  

I introduced him to PG&E’s online SmartMeter account information to help monitor current consumption and review past usage.  I explained to him that PG&E rewards its residential customers with lower rates for lower consumption. PG&E’s billing is set up on a 5 tier system. Here is a snapshot of the winter rates for each tier for the Bakersfield area: (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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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)

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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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