It sounds like something out of a spy thriller or sci-fi novel, but as with many other once-futuristic technologies, fact and fiction have merged: There’s a tiny USB device out there that can flat-out fry almost any laptop it’s plugged into, and they’re cheap enough that basically anyone who wants to cause some trouble can buy one. [More]
In an effort to bring sustainable sources of light to dark places, researchers working with Oxfam are working on a toilet that uses urine to generate electricity, in turn lighting up lavatories in places like refugee camps.
Electric cars might not be great for gas companies, but they feel like a net win for the electric utilities: after all, if you’re plugging in a Tesla in the garage every night, that’s a little more juice they can charge you for using. Tesla’s goal, though, isn’t just to make cars less environmentally hostile, but to make everything else that way too. And that might just be a huge problem for existing electric utilities.
Stick what in my toilet? Let what hang out? Recycle… what? So many questions and so many odd suggestions, all in the name of trimming your utility bills. There are plenty of things you can do to cut costs. And with the cold weather coming — or already here for many of us — it’s a great time to see what you can do to stay warmer and save some cash. [More]
Engineers and manufacturers are ever-so-slowly getting better at helping you siphon electricity from that massive power generator 93 million miles away. Due in part to technological advances and growing demand, solar power is starting to grow a little more mainstream and practical.
(Warning: This post includes Tucson-Phoenix sh*t talking). I’m not sure what sort of reputation the Phoenix area has in the rest of the country, but those in my hometown of Tucson associate the locality with dog excrement. Officials in the Phoenix suburb of Gilbert are making the best of their bumper crop by planning to use dog poop as a power source for a street lamp at a dog park.
The biggest energy hog in your house is probably sitting right under your TV. That little ol’ set-top box could be using up more electricity in your house than your refrigerator or central air conditioning, according to a new study by the Natural Resources Defense Council.
Residents of one block in Brighton in the UK are tracking their electricity usage via a giant infographic graffitied onto the street. In the three weeks the project has been running, electricity use has dropped 15%. Amazing the great good a little bit of feedback can do! In America people would probably just compete to see how big they could make the electricity drain go.
It’s a common theme in “above and beyond” posts: a customer contacts a company asking where he or she can buy a certain small part for their widget, and the company sends the part for free–or a new widget entirely. Today, we honor Seagate, which sent globe-trotting academic Donna a new power cord and international plug thingies for her external hard drive when her American plug began to misbehave.
Despite the record-breaking heat in some parts of the country, total U.S. energy consumption this summer has actually fallen compared to 2009, and peak demand levels–when electricity consumption is at its highest–have dropped as well.
60 Minutes has reported on a new fuel cell product called a Bloom Box, a big metal box containing a small stack of ceramic disks and “ink” that can supposedly provide enough power to run a Starbucks. The big questions are: Does it work? And will it ever help the average homeowner save on energy costs? Google has supposedly been using four of them to power one of its data centers for the past 18 months, so yes to the first question. As for home use, a Bloom Box currently costs over $700,000, so no. Inventor K.R. Sridhar optimistically says he wants to get the price to under $3,000 in the next 5 to 10 years, though. Watch the 60 Minute segment below.
The publisher of a series of home improvement books has announced a recall of nine of them, because of errors in their instructions on installing or repairing electrical wiring. The Consumer Products Safety Commission says no injuries have been reported so far even though the books have been published since 1975, which I think proves that nobody has ever actually attempted a project from any home improvement book.
CBS’s The Early Show aired a segment last Friday about counterfeit holiday lights and extension cords, mostly from China and mostly available at dollar stores, that can cause fires. The problem is that the manufacturers use shoddy materials, and sometimes even fake UL stickers, to give the impression that they’re following safety guidelines. You find out they’re not when your tree goes up in flames.
In Michigan, utilities can increase rates without first getting approval, but that means the Michigan Public Service Commission can later reduce them. That’s what happened on Monday, when the Commission ordered Consumers Energy to refund about $39.6 million to customers it overcharged since last May.
As soon as next month, California may become the first state to implement energy consumption rule for big screen TV sets similar to the ones for refrigerators and air conditioners. A trade group has been adamantly opposing it, reports the Los Angeles Times, but hasn’t found much sympathy from the California Energy Commission, which may be able to avoid building a $600 million natural gas power plant if they can cut back on energy guzzling sets.
PG&E has decided to start billing Josh’s parents for electricity from the 1970’s, to the tune of nearly $1000 per month.
The Ohio Public Utilities Commission has announced that they are asking FirstEnergy, the utlility company that was going to force its customers to pay $10.80 per light bulb as part of an energy-saving program, to delay the implementation of said program until they can figure out what the %#$& was going on.