Tagged With energy conservation

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A key question amid the consternation over the current state of Australia’s east coast energy market has been how much renewable energy capacity to build, and how fast. But help could be at hand from a surprising source: electric vehicles.

By electrifying our motoring, we would boost demand for renewable energy from the grid, while smoothing out some of the destabilising effects that the recent boom in household solar has had on our energy networks.

Predicting the future is near impossible -- but that doesn‘t stop us all from having a red hot go. Human beings have been predicting the future since the beginning of history and the results range from the hilarious to the downright uncanny.

One thing all future predictions have in common: they‘re rooted in our current understanding of how the world works. It‘s difficult to escape that mindset. We have no idea how technology will evolve, so our ideas are connected to the technology of today.

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Windows only: LocalCooling isn't the only energy-use monitor out there, but it does give you real incentive, and real numbers, to help cut down your computer's power use for both the environment and your monthly bills. While consolidating most of the features offered in Windows' power use control panels is helpful, LocalCooling also offers estimates as to how many watts your various components (monitor, graphics card, hard drive, etc.) are using, and how much you could save—in kilowatt hours, trees, and gallons of oil—by pulling them back a bit. LocalCooling also lets individuals and groups create accounts at its web site to track energy savings over time and, well, compete with others, of course. LocalCooling is a free download for Windows XP and Vista systems. Feel free to also check out our Top 10 Computing Energy Savers, no download required.

LocalCooling

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Good magazine has an interesting chart in their latest issue that details how much energy your vampire devices use, and how much it costs you to keep them plugged in. The guide differentiates between devices that are in "active" (ready to leap to life) and "passive" (just plugged in) standby modes, and some items are real shockers. A plasma TV, for instance, can cost about $160 per year just to keep plugged in. That Wii you got your hands on? $25 before you even hit one virtual tennis ball. The takeaway for me, at least, is thinking about putting some devices on power strips and turning them off if I know I won't be using them for a day or more.

Vampire Energy

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Create a cheap and green solar heater for less than $10. All you need is foam board, lots of pennies, black spray paint, and plexiglass. The assembled product should be placed next to a window and can increase the room temperature by a minimum of 10 degrees (according to the video), depending on the amount of sunlight that reaches the heater. If you're looking for more ways to harness the power of the sun, check out the solar water heater we described in the summer.

Easy Free Home Heat

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Quick: What's the difference between putting your PC in Hibernate or Standby mode? Yeah, we weren't sure either. Luckily the Productivity Portfolio weblog schools us on the finer details of Windows XP power schemes. Using Standby:

Your machine recovers quickly as your data is stored in RAM. The slower part is waking up the peripherals. Although your machine is in "standby" the power has been cut to items such as your hard drive and monitor. You're running your machine in a very low power mode, but it is still on. This mode can be useful if you're on a notebook and need to conserve your battery while you step away.

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Mac OS X only: Shareware application Lights Out is your Mac's default Energy Saver tool on steroids, allowing users to set very specific energy saving settings. From setting the time before your monitor dims to automatic logout or shutdown to hot corners for quick sleeping, this simple application takes control of nearly every energy-related aspect of your Mac. Lights Out is free to try, costs $US8.99 for a license. We normally steer clear of shareware apps around here when we can, but in the spirit of living greener, Lights Out looks like a great software. If you know of a free alternative, let's hear it in the comments.

Lights Out

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As a proud participant in today's mass blogging event, Blog Action Day, we're devoting our special feature to Blog Action Day's topic: the environment. Last Monday, we put out a call for your best ways to live greener, and as usual, Lifehacker readers did not disappoint. We received quite a few green hacks in our inbox, and after much winnowing down, the best 10 suggestions made it to the top. After the jump, check out some easy ways to live greener, and vote on which hack is the best of the best.