Thursday, January 3, 2008

Sunny Windsor Locks

There are many ways to generate electricity using the sun's energy. One common technique involves the use of photovoltaic (PV) panels -- these are a series of flat cells that use the sun's energy to directly generate electricity. Another technique is to heat up a working fluid to drive a turbine generator, using mechanical energy to spin magnets and create electricity. With both of these common applications, the problem of storing energy until it is needed adds significantly to the cost and complexity of the systems.

Hamilton Sundstrand has partnered with US Renewables Group in California to create an innovative plan for solar energy storage. They will heat molten salt to 1000F and use it to generate steam for a steam turbine. HS claims that the molten salt retains more heat over time than water or other commonly used fluids, thereby reducing energy loss and increasing overall efficiency.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Trying to stay warm?

Happy New Year! Time to bundle up and stay warm without running up fuel costs. By far, the cheapest way to stay comfortable is to simply dress warmly. Keep your heat just low enough so that your fingers don't turn blue (that's about where I start to hear it from the wife). As my friend likes to say, it's always 98.6 if you're properly dressed!

Here is a good resource with creative ways to lower heating bills without spending a fortune.

Check out this one showing how to install a simple acrylic interior storm window, including a payback analysis (less than one year for the example shown).