Look Better, Feel Better, Have More Energy

Five words or less(NewsUSA) – As you push to fulfill the demands of your hectic schedule, make sure that you carve out some time to take care of you and your health. It may seem …

Plastics Create Oil With Energy to Spare

<b>Plastics Create Oil With Energy to Spare</b>“></td>
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<p>(<a href=NewsUSA) – America’s quest to reduce its fuel consumption and dependence on foreign oil may lead it to look for energy sources in new places — like the bottom of a trash barrel.

JBI, Inc. (OTCBB:JBII), a global technology company, has developed a process, called Plastic2Oil (P2O), that converts raw, unwashed, unsorted plastic waste into a fuel similar to biofuel. In April 2010, an independent laboratory, Islechem, validated the P2O process through extensive chemical, analytical and process engineering testing.

Islechem tested the process over 40 times using multicolored, mixed plastics. The laboratory determined that the P20 process is repeatable and can be done on a large scale. Approximately 85 to 90 percent of the hydrocarbon composition in the feedstock is converted into a “near diesel” fuel, while about 8 percent is converted to a usable off gas much like natural gas. In addition, only 1 percent of the plastic becomes residue, and that residue does not contain any highly toxic elements and is safe for landfill disposal. Even better, more energy is produced than consumed by the process. Early data suggest that the process creates twice as much energy as it uses.

“It takes energy to produce energy. The key is to get more energy from the final product than it takes to make it,” said JBI, Inc. CEO John Bordynuik. “Our process has a high positive energy balance of 2.0, while gasoline from crude has a negative energy balance of 0.81.”

The fuel produced by the P20 process has another major advantage over gasoline from crude oil — its production, including labor, costs only about $10 a barrel.

Gasoline from crude oil uses more energy than it produces and currently costs between $75 and $85 a barrel — and yet gasoline companies yield high profits. A process like P20 could revolutionize the market by creating high-quality fuel at much lower costs, while also helping to reduce the amount of plastic that becomes pollution or ends up in landfills.

JBI, Inc. is currently in talks to create P20 processing facilities in Europe, Florida, New York, California, Colorado, Wisconsin, Georgia and Ohio. The company is also looking for waste disposal or recycling companies, and people with under-utilized facilities to convert into P2O factories. For more information, visit www.plastic2oil.com or www.jbiglobal.com.

Re-insulation Projects Offer Year-Round Rewards

<b>Re-insulation Projects Offer Year-Round Rewards</b>“></td>
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<p>(<a href=NewsUSA) – Homeowners seeking to pad their homes and wallets should consider re-insulation projects that maximize energy efficiency year-round. Simple, energy-saving practices will not only reduce heating and cooling bills every month, but also will result in a higher tax return next year.

The federal government expanded the scope of a tax credit program that rewards homeowners for energy-efficiency improvements, giving homeowners a prime opportunity to increase their homes’ efficiency. Homeowners are eligible to receive a 30 percent federal tax credit up to $1,500 for weatherization improvements in their homes through Dec. 31, 2010,

And as far as energy-efficient improvements are concerned, re-insulation is a smart solution for the near and short term.

“Most of the steps you can take to improve your home’s energy efficiency in the cooler winter months are equally as effective in the warmer summer months, when the thermal flows are simply reversed,” said Bohdan Boyko, building science manager with GreenFiber, a natural-fiber insulation product made from 85 percent recycled materials. “In most areas of the country, winter has the greatest temperature differences between inside and outside temperatures, but in either situation -; summer or winter -; a properly insulated home is one that will help cut energy bills, lower the home’s carbon footprint and help keep a family comfortable.”

Homeowners can find information on the benefits of re-insulation, including R-Value education, how to’s and tax credit information from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, at www.greenfiber.com, where researchers engineered a special new blow-in product that aids in retro-fit projects. Older homes or homes where current insulation is inadequate can benefit from attic air sealing, duct sealing, attic insulating and side wall insulating. Because the insulation is literally “blown in” through a tube, it can reach high crevices and deep places in walls. “Re-insulation is a fast and easy way to improve a home’s energy efficiency, often with little up-front cost,” said Boyko. “A blow-in insulation product will perform better than material that is cut to fit, because it provides complete coverage and fills gaps, unlike fixed-dimension insulation products.”

Do-it-yourselfers should have no difficulties renting equipment and tackling a blow-in natural-fiber insulation project in an afternoon. And because natural-fiber insulation is made from recycled content, it provides the greatest benefit to the environment, diverting materials from local landfills and reducing the energy a home could draw.

Small Investments Lead to Reduced Energy Bills

With fuel costs on the rise, many consumers are wondering what they can do to reduce home energy bills. Making your home more energy-efficient can be surprisingly quick, easy and cost-effective.
Next time you’re out running errands, keep these five items on your list of things to buy, and you could start seeing the savings in no time:

1.    Window insulation kit. Properly sealing drafty windows not only increases the comfort of your home, but may also significantly decrease your energy bills. Insulating windows is an inexpensive and effective way to keep warm air in and cold air out. Choose a product that can easily fit a variety of window sizes, such as the Roll-On Window Kit by Duck Brand, which requires no measuring and minimal cutting and is practically invisible.

Ensure a Good Start to Pool Season

<b>Ensure a Good Start to Pool Season</b>“></td>
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<p>(<a href=NewsUSA) – As much as you look forward to enjoying your pool this summer, you don’t enjoy contemplating its upkeep. But spring is the perfect time to upgrade pool equipment to save money and energy during pool season.

Hayward Pool Products, a company that makes reliable, energy-efficient products designed to enhance the pool and backyard experience, offers the following tips:

* Get an energy audit and upgrade equipment accordingly. During spring inspection, schedule an energy audit to determine whether procedural changes or equipment upgrades can help you save money and energy in the upcoming months. For example, switching to a variable-speed pump can save up to 75 percent on your pool’s energy costs, and switching to a robotic automatic pool cleaner can save up to 94 percent of the energy used by a pressure cleaner, while adding a heat pump will maintain constant comfort while saving up to 80 percent in energy costs versus gas heaters. Also, some areas offer rebates or incentives to those who switch to energy-efficient equipment.

* Make sure your pool equipment is working correctly. Pool-inspection procedures should always include maintenance checks like visually inspecting the pump, filter, heater, lights, automation equipment and chlorinator, and checking the operating pressure on the filter. Hayward always recommends that pool owners consult a professional. Paying for a pool inspection will cost less than trying to fix a major problem later in the season. Plus, professionals will be able to spot safety problems like missing or loose drain covers or electrical or gas issues, which an untrained eye might miss.

* Switch to salt. Salt chlorination produces water that is softer on the skin and gentler on the eyes than factory-produced chlorine. As chemical prices are on the rise, installing a salt chlorine generator, like Hayward’s Aqua Rite Pro, will save you money in the long run. Salt-chlorinated pools regulate themselves, so you won’t need to test your water as often or buy as many products to maintain the water.

For more information, visit www.haywardnet.com.

Engineers Eye Job Opportunities In the Power Industry

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<p>(<a href=NewsUSA) – The need in the United States to expand the power infrastructure to meet the anticipated heightened demand for electricity could grow the job market for engineers skilled in plant operations, equipment design and related disciplines.

By some government estimates, more than 150,000 megawatts of additional electrical generating capacity, or the output of 200 to 500 new power plants, will be required in the U.S. to meet rising demand both in the consumer and industrial sectors. In addition to constructing new plants, many older power facilities will require extensive refurbishment to be safe and reliable energy suppliers. And the nation’s power grid — the infrastructure of transmission and distribution lines that carry electricity to homes and businesses — would need to be modernized to handle the extra load and, in some regions, expanded to meet the requirements of large-scale solar and wind energy projects.

All this projected development activity in the energy market could translate into jobs for engineers. According to a report published by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), human resources staffs at power companies say hundreds of good jobs could open in the coal, nuclear, and natural gas areas. In addition to plant design and operations and maintenance, energy companies will be seeking engineers with skills and ability in fire protection, nuclear refueling, and thermal efficiency.

International mandates to reduce the carbon emissions that contribute to global warming could lead to employment opportunities in the areas of carbon sequestration technology and renewable energy development.

Although employment opportunity for engineers in the power market is promising, issues associated with government policy could impede energy development projects and, consequently, the hiring of engineers. The United States at this time lacks a national energy policy that could create new industries around renewable energy technologies like wind and solar power, while also encouraging investments in advanced coal and gas-firing plants that are essential to meeting the increasing demand for electricity. Many in the engineering community, including ASME, believe an energy policy promoting a balanced mix of resources — coal, natural gas, nuclear, hydropower and renewable energy — is the best approach from a policy standpoint.

Another challenge facing hiring managers in the power industry is to find qualified engineers to get energy projects designed, approved, funded and built. According to the report published in ASME’s Mechanical Engineering magazine, many engineering schools lack curricula tailored to power generation and utility services, including courses in design, technical procurement, and construction. And while engineers in the struggling manufacturing and automotive businesses might be willing to make the leap into the power industry, they often lack the specialized skills needed to make solid contributions to utility companies and other power plant generators.

Energy is a strategic priority of ASME. The Society is committed to serve as an essential energy technology resource for business, government, academia, practicing engineers and the general public. For information, visit www.asme.org.

Is the Air You Breathe at Home Healthy?

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<p>(<a href=NewsUSA) – Between working in offices, studying at school, exercising at the gym and relaxing at home, Americans spend most of their time indoors. But many people don’t realize that, in staying indoors, they face more pollution that they would outside.

Indoor air can contain viruses, dust mites, formaldehyde, radon, pet dander and volatile organic compounds (VOCs), pollutants that aggravate allergies. But in understanding four key air quality components, Americans can ensure a healthy, sustainable home.

1. Moisture Control. Too much moisture can lead to mold, while dry air can cause skin and respiratory problems. Controlling humidity allows the HVAC system to work more efficiently, so homeowners pay less in energy bills. Choose automatic, whole-home humidifiers and dehumidifiers. For example, Aprilaire’s Model 1750 Central Dehumidifier’s built-in intelligence provides automatic control for not only whole-home dehumidification, but also for fresh air ventilation, air cycling and air filtration.

2. Ventilation. Without air circulation, allergens, odors, moisture and other pollutants cannot leave the home. Ensure air flow with a mechanical ventilation system, which will use fans and ducts to circulate fresh air.

3. Air Filtration. Central air filters permanently remove airborne contaminants. In a recent standard industry test, the Aprilaire 5000 achieved 99 percent efficiency against airborne particles. The unit captures and kills virtually all contaminants, including viruses, bacteria, mold spores and allergens.

4. Energy Efficiency. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), using efficient heating and cooling systems, leakless ducts and thermostats that are programmed to save energy at night or when residents are away would prevent 169 billion pounds of greenhouse gas emissions a year. The EPA says that a programmable thermostat can save you up to 30 percent on your energy bills.

For more information, visit www.aprilaire.com.

Carpets Help Insulate Homes

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<p>(<a href=NewsUSA) – In today’s economic climate, Americans are trying to stretch their pennies by making their homes more energy-efficient. Green homes save money and help the environment, but if you have already invested in energy-efficient appliances, what else can be done?

Many homeowners don’t realize that their flooring choice can be a contributor to a home’s energy-efficiency. Unlike other forms of flooring, carpet provides insulation. Installing wall-to-wall carpet keeps your home warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer, while also lowering your energy costs.

Recently, tests carried out at the Johns Manville Technical Center Thermal Labs confirmed that carpet and pad increase R-value, or the measure of thermal resistance, compared to other flooring materials. The higher the R-value, the better a material resists heat transfer. Carpets, with their higher R-value, are better able to keep heat within the home.

Researchers tested the carpets, both with and without cushions, against three common types of flooring — laminate, ceramic tile and engineered hardwood. The result? Carpets insulate up to 17 times better than hard surface products.

“Carpeted floors provide insulative properties in the home,” says Rick Ramirez, vice president of sustainability for Shaw Floors. “In addition to its energy-saving aspect, the warmth and softness of carpet create a more comfortable living environment. Plus, carpet offers sound dampening benefits, which contribute to a quieter home.”

Homeowners can make their homes even more efficient by following these simple, yet highly effective, steps from the California Energy Commission:

* Adjust the temperature accordingly. For every degree you lower your heat in the 60-degree to 70-degree range, you’ll save up to 5 percent on heating costs.

* Reduce hot water temperature. Set your water heater to the “normal” setting or 120 degrees F, unless the owner’s manual for your dishwasher requires a higher setting.

* Get with the program. Installing a programmable thermostat can save up to 15 percent on energy costs.

To learn more about the insulation benefits of carpet, visit www.shawfloors.com/saveenergy.

Nuclear Power Offers Clean Energy, Jobs

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<p>(<a href=NewsUSA) – The carbon-free, electricity-producing nuclear energy industry might play a key role in solving America’s energy and economic woes. The energy source provides clean energy, and the facilities designed to produce that energy create jobs.

“In addition to producing carbon-free electricity, expansion of nuclear energy generation will serve other national imperatives,” said Carol Berrigan, the Nuclear Energy Institute’s senior director of industry infrastructure, in her testimony before the U.S. Senate Finance Committee. “Construction of new nuclear power plants will create tens of thousands of jobs in product development, construction, operations and manufacturing. A robust nuclear construction program will also significantly expand the U.S. manufacturing sector and the domestic nuclear supply chain.”

Only 104 nuclear power plants run in the United States, yet they supply 20 percent of the nation’s energy. And nuclear energy provides 72 percent of America’s greenhouse gas-free, air pollutant-free energy supply.

New Senate legislation, as put forth by Senators John Kerry and Barbara Boxer, calls for an 83 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. To meet that goal, America will need 187 new nuclear power plants, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

In addition to supplying energy, nuclear power plants will create much-needed jobs. Today, every working nuclear power plant employs 400 to 700 people. But plants also rely on vendors, specialty contractors and contractual skilled labor.

According to the National Commission on Energy Policy, each new power plant will need 14,360 man-years per gigawatt. Plants will employ welders, pipefitters, masons, carpenters, millwrights, sheet metal workers, electricians, ironworkers, heavy equipment operators, engineers, project managers and construction supervisors, among others. New nuclear plants will also need parts, creating jobs in the manufacturing sector as supply chains develop.

But building power plants is also expensive — without encouraging legislation from Congress, such as tax incentives and a permanent financing platform, nuclear energy won’t live up to its environmental and economic potential.

As Berrigan said, “A program to expand reliance on nuclear energy to meet U.S. climate change goals … will require a sustained partnership between federal and state governments, and the private sector, including additional policy support from the federal government.”

For more information, visit www.nei.org.

Renting? It’s Still Possible to Have an Energy-Efficient Home

<b>Renting? It’s Still Possible to Have an Energy-Efficient Home</b>“></td>
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<p>(<a href=NewsUSA) – According to a report from real estate research firm Reis, the national apartment vacancy rate reached 7.8 percent in the third quarter — the highest level in 23 years — which gives renters the upper hand to request money-saving amenities to cut costly bills. While the economy is starting to show signs of improvement, unemployment rates still remain high, which has led to higher rental rates. There are 38 million renters in the market looking for ways to be fiscally responsible.

While fancy amenities like granite countertops and walk-in closets were popular before, the new budget-savvy renter is looking for a well-built and energy-efficient home. In fact, according to ApartmentGuide.com, added features that save renters money, like paid utilities and washers and dryers in units, topped the list of popular amenities from February to August 2009.

Renters who suspect their laundry pair and kitchen appliances haven’t been replaced in years should find the model and serial numbers on each unit and contact the manufacturer’s customer service line to determine the year they were made. ENERGY STAR estimates that upgrading appliances can result in a savings of $75 annually on utility bills.

If it has been some time since the appliances have been replaced, renters should consider asking for a new laundry pair, since newer models offer considerable water savings — and landlords typically pay the water bill. An ENERGY STAR qualified washer could save 17 more gallons of water each load, which is equivalent to a daily shower. In addition to conserving water, high-efficiency washers, such as the Maytag Performance Series, use up to 77 percent less energy compared to pre-2004 conventional top-loaders. It also features the exclusive Fresh Hold option with Dynamic Venting Technology that combines intermittent tumbling action with air circulation from a fan in the rear of the washer to reduce moisture in the load, allowing consumers to delay drying for up to ten hours. This new technology actually begins drying clothes while they are in the washer, thus increasing the life of the dryer and saving energy by decreasing drying time.

Additionally, in order to ensure their unit is as efficient as possible, renters should request an annual inspection of their windows, heating and cooling equipment and insulation, since heating and cooling costs account for more than half of utility costs. This annual review should include a thorough inspection around the attic and windows to see if a draft is coming through, as well as a visit to each room in the unit to see if there is a constant temperature. Fluctuating temperatures or incoming air could indicate duct problems, inadequate sealing and/or installation around the windows. Older windows that haven’t been upgraded more than likely were not installed with today’s standard of installation. And poorly performing ducts can leak air and reduce a home’s efficiency by as much as 20 percent by causing the system to work harder.

In addition to the annual checks, the HVAC air filter should be replaced monthly as dirt and neglect could cause the HVAC system to break down. By asking for these efficiency inspections, upgrades and fixes, renters can capitalize on their advantage in the market now, lower their costs and avoid moving during these uncertain times.