Archive for the ‘Energy’ Category

Everyone get your crowbars ready! No seriously….




Posted on: February 17, 2009

Check out the winners of the 2009 Skyscraper competition at Evolvo!

This is just … beautiful! I really wish, if nothing else just for the sake of art, that all of these structures are built during my lifetime!


I’ve been ambivalent for a while as to whether or not I should announce the following news. There is a small chance I might jinx it, which would be sad. But it’s been three weeks (yes I know you’ll probably think ‘a mere three weeks? that’s nothing!’ when you hear this but still), since I made the decision and things seem to be going well so, here goes…

I quit smoking.

And it is less than easy. But I’m holding out, and to quell the urge I started taking long morning runs instead.

It feels great.

Now I just need to stay on track and keep this promise to my self. I guess telling you all about it is one kind of strategy, it makes it harder and more embarrassing should I fail :)

In the interest of staying green (and the less altruistic goal of saving money) me and S. often discuss how to lower our energy consumption. We’ve come up with some simple (and some not so simple) measures that have had a real impact on our electricity bill, and I thought I’d share some of them here…

I’d say we started seriously thinking about this about 18 months ago, when we were still living in a small apartment in Tokyo. Back then our main efforts where centered around turning off electrical devices when not in use, and try not to run the air conditioners more than necessary.

S. bought taps with individual buttons on them so that we could easily cut electricity from our TV/Audio/PlayStation/DVD/… when we were not using them, and this actually had quite an impact on our electricity bill. (Rather than just turning of the switch of the TV for example we would actually physically pull the plug so to speak.)

One problem with the apartment we lived in was the poor isolation that generally meant air conditioners barely had any effect unless you cranked them up and left them on constantly. S. solved this by simply enduring the hot summer days by sheer willpower…

After we moved to our new house in Chiba, we decided to try and take this thinking one step further. First of all the house is much bigger than our old place, so naturally it requires more energy to cool and heat, though the difference is levelled by the fact that this house has excellent isolation and actually keeps a rather comfy temperature year round…

The layout of the house also helps distribute the heat/cold from the air conditioners and so far we’ve never had more than one running at the same time. We also close the doors to all the rooms that we do not use during the day/night to keep the climate controlled area as small as possible.

Thanks to the isolation it is also possible to have the AC setting way up higher than at our old place. (before: 20-22c now: 28-29c) If we had the money we would like to invest in more energy efficient AC devices but they cost a bunch so that will be a project for the future.

As for lighting the new house came with a lot of pre-installed lights. Some are more difficult to change such as the built in spot lights that sit fixed in the wall/ceiling. All the rest though we’ve gotten rid of and replaced with smaller, less energy hungry armatures.

As an example, the living actually had ten light bulbs in all, and we are now down to three. Also we are replacing all the bulbs with energy efficient ones as the old ones break. The goal of course being to have them all replaced as soon as possible.

As for computers, I usually rely on having three machines running at the same time for work. I usually access them from outside when I am not actually in the home office. Three machines may seem like a lot, but that figure used to be six, before I turned three of them into virtual machines that now share the same hardware. Also, one of the remaining three have been replaced by an energy saving LAN-disk instead of having a full tower running just for disk/data management.

Finally the new house has a natural gas-powered engine, called EcoWill that generates electricity and then recycles the heat exhausted during the electricity generation to heat household water. It then recycles the heat generated by the heated water to re-create electricity.

[…]ECOWILL use the heat exhausted during electricity generation to heat household water. While able to supply 40 to 50% of the electricity for an average family of four, they can provide sufficient quantities of hot water. High power-generation efficiency and heat efficiency mean both systems are able to cut the amount of electricity required for heating water by 20%, contributing to reduced carbon dioxide emissions.

This one is a real gem. It is fully automated and works by analyzing the energy consumption of the house to build a schedule of peak hours and low consumption periods. It also gives suggestions on how to re-arrange everyday activities to make your everyday life more energy efficient. Best of all, it can be extended with a solar panel setup, which brings us to the next step in our Get-Off-The-Grid plan…

S. and I have been talking about investing in a solar panel setup, but it all comes down to the initial investment. Hopefully though we’ll be able to raise the money sometime in the near future and take another step towards a more energy efficient life…


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