Archives for June 2010

Awesome: Dear Bell And Yellow Pages – We All Have A Thing Called The Internet…

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The Gulf Oil Spill vs. Home Energy Retrofits from

Oil Spill vs Home Energy Retrofit - EnergySavvy.comArticle published with permission from

Did we even need to drill the Deepwater Horizon oil well to begin with? Actually, no. There are over 100 million homes in the U.S. Most of them use energy inefficiently because they’re not well insulated, sealed and set up. The energy contained in the biggest oil spill in U.S. history is equal to the energy that just 75,000 homes waste in a single year.

Seventy-five thousand homes represent less than 0.1 percent of all single-family homes in the U.S. or the number of homes in a single mid-sized U.S. city, like Providence, R.I., or Chattanooga, Tenn. Doing energy retrofits to make those homes efficient would save the equivalent of the entire Gulf Oil Spill every year on a permanent basis.

Comparing the Costs of the Oil Clean-Up to Wasting Less at Home

No one really knows how much it’ll end up costing to clean up the disaster created by the Gulf Oil Spill. And when a final number is calculated, years from now, there’s no way that it’ll take into account the true extent of the environmental damage that the oil spill has created. But even in the preliminary estimates made before the oil has finished flowing, the cost is expected to exceed $40 billion.

How does that compare to doing 75,000 home energy retrofits? Less than $1 billion. And those retrofits – using low-tech and low-cost techniques like better insulation, air sealing, replacing furnaces with more efficient versions – are permanent. And those 75,000 retrofits save energy year after year. Every year that goes by, those 75,000 homes will save the equivalent energy of the entire Gulf Oil Spill.

How’d we figure this out?

The Gulf Oil Spill has leaked somewhere between 25 million and 50 million gallons of oil into the ocean so far – depending on which estimates you believe. In addition, a nearly equivalent amount of natural gas has escaped: we’re not counting that energy in our calculations. The oil floating in the Gulf of Mexico alone represents approximately 4 million MMBtu’s (million British Thermal Units) of energy.

For comparison’s sake, the average U.S. home consumes about 170 MMBtu’s in a year when you factor in the costs of generating all forms of energy used. This varies widely from region to region, but it’s a good rule of thumb. An efficient home, however, uses only 120 MMBtu’s on average each year. So doing an energy retrofit to a home saves an average of 50 MMBtu’s per year per home.

The calculations all have a pretty large margin of error – since no one really knows how fast the oil is leaking, how much is already in the water, or how much more will spill before the leak is plugged.


Killing Weeds: Skip The Agent Orange And Bring On The Boiled Water And Vinegar.

Weed eradication programs for most starts in the herbicide aisle of the local home and garden type store but the visit may not be necessary. You might have everything you already need in your kitchen – water and vinegar.

Boiled Water: I read about this on and had to try it. Boil a kettle of water and pour it on your weeds. It’s that simple. Literally, within 30 minutes, the base of the weeds will turn a brown color and soon flattened on your patio like limp lettuce.

white-vinegar-spray-bottleVinegar: The active, natural weed killer in vinegar is acetic acid. Careful application via spray bottle or focused pour is important because vinegar is indiscriminate and can kill your grass. Normal grocery store vinegar is 5% acetic acid and may have to be applied several times in order to kill your weeds. You can get vinegar with acetic acid concentrations of 10%+ from a restaurant or farmer’s supply store but you magnify the risk to the nearby plants.

Boiled Vinegar: Why not connect with both weed cheeks with one kick by boiling your vinegar? The scalding water will start the process and the concentrated acetic acid in the boiled vinegar will take care of the rest.

If your neighbor comes out every couple days looking like a retired Ghostbuster spraying the Agent Orange on everything green and unwelcome, mention the scalding water and/or vinegar trick. You probably won’t convince him to change over to boiled anything so do your best to avoid operation weeding thunder.

Give any combo of boiled water, vinegar or boiled vinegar a shot and see if you get the results you want. You will have to invest a little extra time to kill your weeds but atleast you won’t have to face the possible collateral damage and long-term risks associated with herbicides.


Jubbling Our Way Through Greenfest Seattle

Something that you should know about Jubbling is that we try to avoid events with “green” in the name. Unlike Jubbling, green is such an overused term and often repels as many people as it attracts. But we’re always in need of new ideas so we headed over to Seattle to see what was going on. Thankfully, Green Festival Seattle was not an overly hyped marketing event and instead focused on local vendors and offered solutions in a more Jubbling vein. You still had companies like Nature’s Path, Tesla, and Verizon but they were easily outnumbered by small local companies like ecohaus, SolTerra and ReUsie.

For my trip to Green Fest, I brought with me a couple of experts in the area of Jubbling – my daughter Amanda and her friend Maggie. Mandy and Maggie - Gray-Water Toilet ExpertsThe main reason they came along is that they’re pretty savvy kids who are not afraid to ask the tough questions. The other reason was that I knew they would willingly snoop around the PETA booth and see if the woman in the “One pound of meat equals six months of showers” display was naked. (Unfortunately, I couldn’t get positive confirmation.)

Interesting Products
ecohaus’s Gray-Water Toilet – An older idea but still awesome. A sink mounted in the lid over the tank lets the water that normally goes down the drain fill the tank for the next flush. ecohaus is a reseller of innovative building products that are sustainably produced, designed to reduce and built to last. The gray-water toilet is one of many thoughtful products you can purchase from ecohaus. And yes, you can brush your teeth in the built-in sink while you’re taking care of business in the morning. True multitasking!

SolTerra Systems EcoRoofSolTerra Systems EcoRoofs – SolTerra is a local company retrofitting and/or building new living roofs onto homes and businesses. SolTerra’s “EcoRoofs” can support a garden, will insulate your home from extreme hot and cold weather and are expected to last up to 50+ years. They also mitigate the effects of runoff by filtering and retaining up to 69% of the rainfall.

SodaStreamSodaStream – A showstopper for the kids. SodaStream is a simple product that uses a compressed CO2 canister to carbonate normal tap water into sparkling water. Add a small shot of flavor and you’ve got your favorite soda. Flavors are all natural and include root beer, cola, diet cola and every other color of soda you can think of. SodaStream’s goal is to move the anti-bottled water debate to the possibly-recycled containers delivering soda that is loaded with preservatives. And the CO2 canisters can be exchanged and recharged and will supply enough carbonation to produce from 60 – 110 liters of flavored or straight soda water.

McShit From Green Festival SeattleGreen Fest was loaded with other great booths but I’ve got to reach out to the Vegans – pitching your cause and ideals is great but staring down the attendees is probably not the best way to attract a following. I guess the saying “Love animals. Hate humans” applies here because there was a lot of carnivore-profiling going on at that booth. Fortunately for them, they’re booth ended up being the most memorable for the kids. I’m not sure why but I think it had to do with one of their t-shirts.

Anyways, if a Green Fest comes to your town I would recommend attending. You’ll find a lot of good people and discover Jubbling ideas that are not all extreme and are usually local. Definitely bring your kids too. They’ll ask questions that you wouldn’t think of and in a pinch, they’ll nose around the PETA booth and let you know if the shower-taker is naked or not.


The BP Oil Spill And What You Can Do

Jubbling tried to stay away from the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil mess in the Gulf of Mexico but it’s not going away. Eleven lives lost already and the negative environmental effects are just beginning. Yes, you can volunteer lint from your dryer or hair clippings but what else can you do? Our recommendation is simple – don’t buy anything from British Petroleum or their related companies. Send BP a message in a way that all businesses can understand by avoiding BP filling stations, Arco’s, Castrol Motor Oil and AM/PM Mini-marts.

This is my second boycott of BP – my first boycott started when I interviewed with them after college. BP’s Human Resources person took it upon himself to poke fun at all of the desperate job candidates. He singled one poor guy out and spent the pre-interview meeting referring to him as Al Bundy because he sold shoes to put himself through college. The original boycott lasted about 10 years. This boycott will last until BP completely cleans up their mess so it’s likely that I’m going to be telling my pre-teen kids to avoid BP filling stations too.

Related Articles:
How to help BP oil spill cleanup? Stay home. Let locals do it. – Christian Science Monitor


Google’s PowerMeter: Energy Speedometer For Your Home

Google Powermeter Screenshot

PowerMeter from Google.orgGoogle is everywhere and now, they want you to be able to track your electricity consumption online using their PowerMeter product. PowerMeter has been available since October 2009 and works in conjunction with a homes’ existing smart electricity meter or with 3rd party energy monitoring devices. Having a smart meter alone is not enough to access your data using PowerMeter; your utility company must partner with Google in order to gain real-time access to your energy usage.

Once your utility partners with Google, as San Diego Gas & Electric and TXU Energy have, your homes’ energy consumption information will be available online and access to the PowerMeter application is provided free of charge.

ENVI Energy Consumption Monitor, Transmitter and CT ClampIf your utility company has not partnered with Google, another way to track your energy consumption online with PowerMeter is by purchasing a product like Current Cost’s ENVI monitor. Connecting the ENVI monitor is relatively simple; connect two CT clamps at the electrical box on your incoming power lines. A transmitter will then send the information to the ENVI monitor which can be up to 100′ away. The ENVI monitor tracks energy usage and when connected to a PC, the ENVI monitor will transmit the data to Google PowerMeter for online monitoring.

The only downside we can think of with Google’s PowerMeter is the phone call from an obsessively Jubbling working spouse monitoring energy usage online and questioning power consumption at home. “How many lights are on?”, “Why do we have two tv’s on?.”

But the benefits of the Google PowerMeter definitely override any downside and that is why we classify it as a speedometer for your home. With access to instant energy consumption information, homeowners will find ways to reduce and see the results real-time as they make changes. The 30 day lag we’re used to will be a thing of the past.