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Unions & Big Solar Square Off in California‏

Organized labor is pressing hard to both accelerate and gain a strong foothold in the renewable energy industry. This simultaneous push for green jobs and a green economy has garnered plenty of friends for unions, from environmental groups to consumer advocacy groups to many in the solar industry.

Determining Electricity Consumption of Your Home Appliances

Improving energy efficiency and conservation around the house requires a certain attention to detail. There are a multitude of electronic appliances that populate the modern home. Knowing how many watts of electricity each appliances uses is a key step toward reducing your electricity consumption. You’ll know which ones to trade in for newer, more efficient models- creating a general awareness and knowledge that will aide in all of your energy conserving endeavors.

Figuring out how many watts of electricity an appliance uses is typically very easy. It is generally printed right on the device. It will either be stamped on it somewhere or printed on a nameplate that is usually affixed to the back.

If the number of watts is not printed on the device, then look for the current, in amperes (A), and voltage (V). Most appliances, from stereos to toaster ovens, use 120 volts (the maximum voltage for a standard outlet). Larger appliances, such as clothes dryers, may use 240-volt outlets. To find a unit’s wattage, simply multiply the amps and the volts. For example, a device drawing 5.0 A at 120 volts is using 600 Watts of electricity.

In the typical home, water heaters use by far the most amount of electricity, drawing 4500-5500 watts when running. The clothes dryer, dishwasher, and vacuum cleaner are also big electricity users. Just remember that an individual appliance’s cost to each household is different based on how much the appliance is used. For example, a laptop computer typically uses only 50 W of electricity (somewhat less in sleep mode) and a dryer may use 5000. But if the computer is left on 24 hours a day, and the dryer is rarely used because you dry your clothes outside on a line, then suddenly the smaller, more efficient computer has the higher cost in electricity. Being energy efficient is as much about lifestyle and the way we use the products we purchase as it is about the products themselves.

Bear in mind that the wattage listed on an electronic device is its peak level of consumption. That is to say that electronics such as stereos, with volume controls, may not be drawing the maximum number of watts at all times. It all depends on the setting.

When evaluating the energy efficiency of any device, it is also important to factor in “phantom” loads, or the small amount of electricity that a device draws, even when it is switched off. Televisions, stereos, computers, all such devices carry phantom loads. These are small amounts but can really add up, especially considering the number of appliances in the average home. To avoid this issue, either unplug appliances when unused, or plug several into a power strip and then switch the strip off when the group is not in commission. The power strip method is an excellent choice for computer desks and home entertainment centers, where all components are typically used or shut off at the same time.

For more information on calculating electricity consumption and cost, including a list of common wattages for household appliances, see the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) website.

Wholly Solar

The purpose of this site, as we’ll keep mentioning until we’re sure it has been made quite clear, is to advocate for and provide information on renewable, nonpolluting energy sources. There are quite a few reasons why we feel this is important, but all of them boil down to a concern over the toxic social, economic, and environmental impact of petrochemical dependence.

The solution, we believe, is to turn to nature. When we talk about solar power, we don’t just mean photovoltaic modules, although that is certainly one of our favorite forms of electricity generation. Solar power includes windmills, biofuel, and non-PV applications such as solar heaters and ovens.

In fact, in a sense all of the power on the planet derives ultimately from the Sun, even those nasty petrochemicals we so avidly avoid. Yet there is a conceptual distinction between using dead, stored energy from a limited and ecologically problematical cache, and choosing from a panacea of naturally clean power which replaces itself with each new day.

Slapping solar panels on every rooftop in the world might go a long way toward addressing the petro-mess, but that isn’t going to happen overnight, and it will never happen unless the people collectively demand it.

Some individuals may feel that the threat of climate change is exaggerated, or that oil is more abundant than current projections indicate. Others are inclined to believe that the green movement is a liberal conspiracy to attack businesses with taxes and regulations.

We may not be able to convince these folks. That’s not our job. We are here to evangelize to the choir, to provide a perspective and strategies as much as tools and applications for green living. Converting the critics is a job we leave to those of you able to combine honesty with diplomacy. They’ll come around, once they realize their tree-hugging neighbors don’t pay an electric bill.

Can the energy needs of the entire species be accommodated by green power? We believe the answer is: absolutely. Within the decade, if a planet-wide initiative takes hold as we dream. The technology exists and improves daily. No system is without disadvantages, and underestimating the challenge would be a mistake.

Nevertheless, the time is ripe for a transition that could sweep the globe with positive effects, not only in the ways we gather energy, but the way we approach nature and economics as well. We are at a crossroads, and the type of technology choices we make today will have an impact on how tomorrow’s civilization collects and uses the power to live in harmony with the Earth…or render it forever uninhabitable.

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