Renewable Energy storage using Urine?

Storing surplus energy generated by renewables when there is excess supply and low demand is a pressing problem. A problem that is undeniably holding back the widespread use of renewable energy technology.

pee power for the people

Current storage systems include various types of chemical batteries, water and air pressure, flywheels and conversion to hydrogen. Of these systems, hydrogen is sometimes seen as the most promising to provide long term and flexible storage.

Heat pumps: harvest latent heat from your environment

Heat pumps extract ambient heat from the external air or ground and concentrate it for space or water heating. In effect they can be seen as reverse refrigerators or air-conditioners. These systems require energy to operate the condensers and pumps, therefore even though the latent heat extracted is renewable, the electrical load required is generally supplied by the grid.

heat_pump.jpgHeat pump (courtesy of Valliant)

Air source heat pumps use a small external heat exchanger and a circulating fan, operating like an air-conditioning unit in reverse. Ground source heat pumps use a large heat exchanger in the form of tubing typically laid 1-2m underground. These tubes when laid horizontally can take up a large area and is therefore generally not suitable for homes without a reasonable amount of land. However vertical systems can be used but are more
expensive and generally require planning permission. [1]

SolarCoin pays you for solar power

On the back of the success of the decentralised internet currency BitCoin, the SolarCoin foundation have created the SolarCoin. Much like BitCoin, SolorCoins can be "mined", creating coins by solving complex cryptographic puzzles, but they can also be awarded for energy generated via solar arrays.

get additional income selling for your solar power back to the grid

People with solar arrays on their houses or businesses currently earn via renewable energy certificates or Feed-in-Tarrifs. However with SolarCoin there is now an additional source of income. The foundation awards one SolarCoin per Mega Watt hour generated, and verified by the local energy supplier.

Get energy fit and shed pounds off your energy bills for the New Year

It is another new year and a time for resolutions.  To lose a little weight is probably the top of most people's list this year, but how about shedding some pounds off your energy bill too?

fitness-tm.jpgget energy fit this new year

Much like successful dieting, to be more energy efficient and save money off your energy bills you need to do three things: Measure, Monitor and Maintain.

So follow these simple steps to be more energy fit and shed pounds off your energy bills in the new year.

Energy wasted by standby [infographic]

Energy wasted by electrical appliances left on standby can be upto 25% of your energy use. Following on from our previous post "the price of standby", this infographic demonstrates the energy wasted by home entertainment equipment with some interesting comparisons.

"How Green Am I?" is now Socially Connected

Here at "How Green Towers" we are always thinking of new ways to make your life easier. So now ... drum roll please ... we have added the the ability to create an account simply using your current online identities.  If you have a Gmail, Twitter, Facebook or Yahoo! account you can now sign in with one click.  No need to fill out yet another registration form, just click and go!

we are very very social bunch

Now with a single click you can start recording your electricity and gas usage, use our special analytics and compare your usage against our other members to see just how green you are.

Our typical member currently uses 51.28 kWh of energy per day. That is a whopping 21% lower than the average British household. How do you compare?

Still here? What are you waiting for? Sign up for free, it is now even easier!


4 free tips for happy (and efficient) heating

With the nights drawing in, the temperature dropping and the news full of energy price hikes, it is a good time to check your heating system and make sure it is running as happy and efficiently as possible.  An efficient heating system not only reduces waste but also will save you money, and energy.

Sorry, too Xmasy?

So without further ado, here are 4 free and quick jobs for a happy and efficient heating system.

Is your heating on yet?

There are many old-wives tales and traditions that people rely on about when to switch on their heating for the winter. The first of October is known as "central heating day", the day when most people switch on their heating for the winter. But some people wait till the clocks go back and the more hardy wait till the first frost! So when is best to switch your heating on in the winter?

Burn boiler ... BURN!

Here at "How Green Am I?" we recommend simply switching on your heating when it is cold outside. After all, to be efficient you first must be effective! A general rule of thumb is to switch on the heating when it is colder than 16°C outside. The modern home with cookers, lighting, gadgets and of course warm bodies can raise the internal temperature by around 4°C. So at 16°C and above outside you can generally still be comfortable inside.

The price of standby

When you think of saving energy, one of the first pieces of advice is to switch off equipment when you don't use it. It is a free and easy action to save money (it is even tip 6 in our "8 energy saving tips that cost nothing"). But how much energy does standby actually use? We always hear of new technology with ever lower standby power. So does switching things off instead of standby actually save energy and money?

standby.jpgstandby - the not-so-secret energy vampire

To get to the bottom of the problem I took out my plug-in energy monitor and collected the data from my own home entertainment equipment. The results, even for me, were surprising.

4 tips to stay cool and green this summer

Staying cool in the summer seems like an impossible task. Everywhere windows are thrown open, ice is piled into drinks and the incessant whirling of fans assaults our ears.

green-ice.jpgstaying cool and green is easier than you think

So how can we keep cool and save energy when the temperature outside tops 30C?

Well the answer to that question is simpler than you may think. Just a few simple tips can drastically lower the temperature in your home, save you energy on cooling and most of all make you more comfortable.

A "nudge" to save energy

Behavioural science and the politicos buzz word "nudging" are becoming an ever present part of our society. The basic premise is that instead of using pure utilitarian incentives such as taxes and fines to force people to make behavioural changes, a simple "nudge" exploiting our human biases will do the trick. 

nudge.jpgIs Big Brother nudging you? (image credit: sebarex - stock.xchng)

The results of this technique were demonstrated in Amsterdam airport in 1999, in a bid to save money on keeping the men's toilet clean. Instead of putting up signs reminding the patrons to "aim straight", economist Aad Kieboom suggested etching a picture of fly in each urinal. They tried it and the cleaning bill fell by 80% (New Scientist - Nudge: You're being manipulated – have you noticed?).

Voltage Optimisation - VO4HOME

Voltage Optimisation is now available for your home. Saving you money, energy and reducing the wear and tear on your electrical appliances and gadgets.

Voltage optimisation reduces the high voltages supplied to your home and saves you money

Voltage Optimisation is the process of modifying the incoming voltage to the optimal level for your appliances and improving the quality of the electrical supply. The electricity supply to a typical domestic home is provided at more than 240 volts, whereas the appliances in your home work best at 220 volts. This over-voltage contributes to energy being wasted, primarily through heat, and can cause the equipment to fail prematurely. Voltage Optimisation is a mature technology that has been in use for many years in the industrial sector, but has only recently been introduced to the domestic market.