This morning, on the day we celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his leadership in the Civil Rights movement my wife woke me up to the song Glory by Common and John Legend. Hearing this song fills me with a sense of pride of being an African-American. I also feel a bit of sadness that there still seems so much further to go. That the impact of the Jim Crow era on African-Americans which produced laws and policies such as redlining districts is still being felt today.
The heat island effect is when an area is considerably hotter than the actual temperature. The heat island effect is a phenomenon that comes from a concentration of dark material e.g., asphalt and roofs, combined with a lack of trees for covering. The asphalt absorbs the heat of the day and permeates throughout the night. So while other areas cool down once the sun goes down, heat islands do not. To maintain a comfortable temperature the air conditioner stays on, which also pushes more heat into the surrounding area. A direct impact of hotter neighborhoods is higher energy usage and thus higher energy costs. This is compounded with the fact that buildings in America typically do not have enough insulation. Insulation is what minimizes the impact of ambient temperature on the temperature inside a building.
Reducing heat islands would reduce our carbon emissions as well as reduce the financial burden on those living in areas designated as heat islands. There are three ways to prevent the heat island effect in your neighborhood.
"A home's purpose is to provide comfort and protection from the external environment." That may be true but it is a limiting statement. A home is where you watch TV with your family, play video games with your sibling(s), read bedtime stories to your kid(s), or cook with your spouse. A simple truth is that energy is required for all these activities and more. Determining how to minimize the amount of energy needed to achieve these activities is not so simple. However there are two key principals to start with, that will help you better understand your home:
1) Energy consumption is the result of factors like occupant behavior, building orientation and materials, and weather interacting at a given time.
2) Once a home is built, occupant behavior is the most important factor and often the cheapest to improve.
Happy New Year! Happy New Decade!
Gemini's goal for this decade is to help the U.S. transition into a low-carbon society in as fast and equitable manner as we can. enLighten will be just one avenue that will we utilize to achieve this.
My name is Anthony Dylan Kinslow II. I have a PhD in Civil Engineering from Stanford University. My area of focus was and still is identifying energy efficiency opportunities in buildings. I am going to be a dad in roughly 17 days and I believe we have a slim window of time to transition into a low-carbon society. I also will be the primary blogger.
Note. If there is a time when someone else posts on enLIGHTen, they will introduce themselves in the first line of their post.
This blog in 2020 will discuss as assortment of topics connected to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, but primarily I will discuss building energy performance.
In addition, I want to open up enLIGHTen to conversations and discussions. I do not claim to know everything and will never shy away from admitting my confusion or ignorance on a topic. A hard lesson to learn when going through the PhD program is: the more you learn about a single area, the more you realize how little you know about everything else. So I encourage you to also ask questions and/or provide your insights based on your experience.
Wishing you a wonderful 2020!
For the majority of Americans the largest energy consuming equipment in their home is their Heating, Ventilation, and Air-Conditioning (HVAC) system. Whether you are in the north and your HVAC unit is primarily used for heating or the South and your HVAC unit is primarily used for cooling, it is more than likely your largest energy hog.
The following is organized into three areas
5 little known facts about your Air-Conditioning
1. Whenever your A/C comes on it comes on full blast. Units purchased after 2018 may have a Variable Frequency Drive (VFD) that adjust the power based on the load, saving you energy.
2. There is no mechanical way to cool your space faster because no matter how low you turn the thermostat, the air coming out of your vents will always be the same temperature. The A/C will keep blowing that air until it reaches the temperature you set it to. Therefore, set your temperature to your comfort level and wait or risk it becoming too cold.
3. Your A/C determines when to come on and turn off based on the temperature sensor located in the thermostat. To avoid your A/C coming on to often, make sure your thermostat is not being hit by direct sunlight.
4. If your A/C unit comes on and then goes off within 10 minutes than it is most likely over-sized (i.e., too big). When a A/C unit is over-sized you may experience hot and cold spots throughout the space.
5. A/C unit efficiency is determined by the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) value. The higher the SEER value the more efficient the A/C unit, but if your SEER value is under 13 then you should be thinking about replacing it. Your utility company may have an incentive or rebate program for replacing an old unit.
How does a HVAC system work?
An air-conditioning (A/C) unit controls the interior moisture (relative humidity) and offsets heat that is gained from the external environment and heat generated from internal loads (e.g., lights and appliances). The purpose of A/C is to provide a comfortable environment for occupants through temperature, humidity, and air movement. The four major components of an A/C unit are:
How Your Air-Conditioning impacts the environment
A/C is often the largest energy consumer during utility peak day and utility summer peak hours. During peak moments, the utility company must bring additional energy sources to the grid to avoid power outage. These supplemental energy sources often produce the most greenhouse gases. For examples, the grid could be running on hydro and natural gas normally, but during peak hours, coal plants are brought online to supplement the extra load. As such, reducing A/C energy consumption can often have greater reductions in greenhouse gas emissions than other energy efficiency measures. Minimizing A/C energy consumption can occur in two ways: reduce the power required to provide the necessary cooling through efficiency or reduce the runtime that A/C is cooling through behavior and/or controls.