It’s only mid-october here, but we already have the heat set to come on while we sleep — just to keep the house at 55F! It is COLD here for October, and there is actually snow forecast for saturday, which is very unusual.
So, I am already looking around the home getting ready to winterize. Generally, I put plastic on all the windows to keep more heat in, especially the big sliding glass door sets we have in our dining room. But, this year we are thinking of putting our house on the market (after we finish up a few small home improvements, like patching old holes in the ceiling!) SO I don’t think I can put plastic on the windows because it just doesn’t look that great, and might get people thinking that the house is too drafty to buy… (any thoughts?)
Instead, I have gone out and invested in some faux silk, lined curtains to hang in the dining room, which I hope will work similarly. Our other windows are quite airtight, so I am not as worried about heat loss there…
I am also scraping plans we had to make a small external solar heater, b/c it would have to be right by our front walk for optimal sun exposure, and let’s face it, it just wasn’t going to look too pretty But I still have hopes to turn my southern facing window box by my kitchen sink into a solar heater. How you ask? By installing a plexiglass sheet (removable with small screws) over the inner opening, with a small gap at both the top and bottom. I would fill bottom of the window box with an attractive layer of dark rocks to attract and store heat. Natural convection will draw the cold air in the bottom and push the warm air out the top, which will create some nice heat for the kitchen/dining area during the day, I hope. I tried it out last year with some impermanent plastic sheeting and it seemed to work rather well.
Discoveries like this get me really excited. While many of us are trying to reduce our energy usage and wanting to be greener, a lot of times it’s just not very easy. While I know that there are certain behaviors that we can adjust to reduce are carbon footprint, I think the real key to change in America, and the world, lies in new technology and innovations.
So, with that long introduction – - here is some great new technology! Researchers in the UK have found a cheap way to create a magnetic-cooling refrigerator
that could cut energy usage (for that appliance) up to 40%. Considering that fridges generally account for about 15% of a home’s energy bill, I think that is a pretty big deal — this new technology
could reduce usage in each home by 7%! Not bad. Seems to me something like that is a no-brainer
. The only question will be: what to do with the old ones? Well, they make GREAT containers for Solar Batch Water Heaters, for a start
Or perhaps raised garden beds? Hmm
… I figure we have a few years to think about it, since it will take a while for them to put the technology into the market. And they’ll need to research the fridge’s effect on pacemakers…
“Researchers at the University of Cambridge have discovered a material that gives a whole new complexion to the term ‘fridge magnet’. When this alloy is placed in a magnetic field, it gets colder. Karl Sandeman and his co-workers think that their material – a blend of cobalt, manganese, silicon and germanium – could help to usher in a new type of refrigerator that is up to 40 percent more energy-efficient than conventional models.
The ‘magnetic fridge’ envisaged by the Cambridge team would use a phenomenon called the magnetocaloric effect (MCE), whereby a magnetic field causes certain materials to get warmer (a positive MCE) or cooler (a negative MCE). Although the effect was discovered more than 120 years ago, it is only recently that magnetocaloric materials have been known with the right properties for use in everyday refrigeration. But several factors have so far prevented such applications.
For one thing, some of the materials – typically metal alloys – that show the strongest MCE contain the element gadolinium, which is very expensive. And some of the best potential alternatives contain arsenic, raising health concerns.
Sandeman and colleagues have now found a material that is neither toxic nor costly, and which generates significant cooling at around room temperature. The key to the magnetocaloric behaviour is a sudden change in the magnetic state of the compound – a so-called magnetic transition. The material is magnetic because it contains metal atoms that themselves act like tiny bar magnets. As it is warmed up from subzero temperatures, there comes a point where these atomic magnets abruptly change the way in which they are lined up.” (from treehugger.com)
Who knows, maybe when these fridges are ready for market the government will give all us one someday, instead of a rebate check that we spend on a larger TV. It would certainly make sense as it would reduce the need for more oil, more energy infrastructure, more, more, more, and get America right on track. HA!