energy saving

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How to Improve Energy-Efficiency Programs

If economists and practitioners worked together on coordinated studies, we’d better understand what works and what needs fixing

Posted on Feb 9 2016 by Steven Nadel

In the past year, a growing number of papers from economists have questioned the effectiveness of energy-efficiency programs and policies. We have reviewed many of these studies and blogged about several of them (see here, here, here, and here).


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Image Credits:

  1. Dennis Schroeder / National Renewable Energy Laboratory

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Revisiting an Energy Saving Handbook from 1979

In the 1970s, building science was still in its infancy — so energy-saving advice was usually a mixture of good and bad tips

Posted on Nov 28 2014 by Martin Holladay

Rummaging through the shelves of a used book store, my son Noah came across an old paperback called Energy Saving Handbook. Written by James W. Morrison, the book was published by Harper & Row in 1979.

A brief web search failed to reveal any biographical information about the author. However, I discovered that the book was published under several different titles, and was distributed by at least four state energy offices. Morrison’s book may have been funded by the U.S. Department of Energy; some of its chapters seem to have been repurposed from government brochures.


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Image Credits:

  1. All images from “Energy Saving Handbook” by James W. Morrison

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The Big Allure of Cheap PV

A Connecticut homeowner is tempted by the low cost of solar electricity — but wonders if he should use the money to tighten up the house first

Posted on Feb 10 2014 by Scott Gibson

Until now, Patrick McCombe has believed that improvements to the envelope of his home should come before an investment in photovoltaic(PV) Generation of electricity directly from sunlight. A photovoltaic cell has no moving parts; electrons are energized by sunlight and result in current flow. panels. Now he's weighing a deal that seems too good to pass up.

McCombe lives in Connecticut (he's an associate editor at Fine Homebuilding magazine) and he recently attended an informational meeting sponsored by an organization working to lower the cost of PVPhotovoltaics. Generation of electricity directly from sunlight. A photovoltaic (PV) cell has no moving parts; electrons are energized by sunlight and result in current flow.. Panels could be purchased or leased, but the bottom line was that with federal and state incentives, McCombe could buy a 10-kilowatt array for $15,000.


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Image Credits:

  1. Oregon DOT

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A Plague of Bad Energy-Saving Tips

Two recent lists of energy-saving tips for homeowners push me over the edge

Posted on Dec 10 2011 by Martin Holladay

Although I usually only publish one blog a week, I can’t resist posting a rare Saturday blog to rail against bad advice to homeowners from the Federal government and a national green building organization.


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  1. Federal Trade Commission

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More Energy Myths

Energy-saving tips that you can safely ignore

Posted on Nov 11 2011 by Martin Holladay

Energy myths are persistent, in spite of the fact that energy experts spend a good deal of time performing debunking duty. Many energy experts collect misguided energy-saving tips as a hobby, and pick the myths apart with the dedication of an 18th-century amateur scientist.

In a previous blog, I presented my own list of ten energy myths.


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Image Credits:

  1. Mark Florence

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Saving Energy In the Kitchen

It's OK to use less water to cook pasta

Posted on Feb 27 2009 by Martin Holladay

The traditional method for cooking pasta wastes energy, according to columnist Harold McGee. McGee, who writes the “Curious Cook” column for The New York Times, recently investigated whether 4 to 6 quarts of boiling water are really necessary to cook a single pound of pasta.

After experimenting in his kitchen and consulting with Italian chefs, McGee concluded that a pound of pasta can be cooked to perfection using a mere 1 1/2 to 2 quarts of water, as long as the cook stirs the pasta for the first 1 or 2 minutes of cooking.


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Image Credits:

  1. Martin Holladay

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