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Posts Tagged ‘heat’

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Back in March, when I was complaining about a series of heavy spring snows in New England, Deb said, “Save a picture for August, when we really need it.” I think the time has come.

Folks in the Northeast are not used to having temperatures day after day in the 90s combined with crazy-high humidity. Friends my age seem to find it totally enervating. If we can’t get to a bit of shade or find a breeze, we just sit like lumps — or move ve-ery slowly. Not all houses have air conditioning. In the past, it was seldom needed.

So it’s time to stop complaining about the heat and remember how I complained about the cold in March. Deb was right. One’s perspective changes. The picture above was taken on March 13 when I really would have preferred to see spring flowers coming up. Looks quite pleasant to me now.

I also have a few summer pictures to share. The tiny bird on what appears to be a telephone pole is actually a very large, fierce bird called an osprey. Towns along the New England coast construct special nesting platforms to keep osprey from building on telephone poles. You may see many such platforms if you take Amtrak through Connecticut. At this time of year, there may be several young ones — no longer babies — perfecting their new fishing skills.

And I include a bouquet of local wildflowers, the boats in New Shoreham’s Great Salt Pond, and four photos demonstrating how the lotus at a neighbor’s house looks as it opens. I have recorded this other years, but every year, it’s a miracle.

I can’t help noting that even the lotus seemed to take the sweltering summer rather hard. Several blossoms simply bowed over, hiding their faces somewhere among their roots in the pond. I know how they feel.

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As I was driving home today, I heard a radio commentator say that the cost of solar has gone way down. John has solar now and can actually sell some of the energy produced back to the utility.

Nevertheless, the typical solar infrastructure is beyond the reach of many low-income people.

In Kenya, however, solar energy is being produced without the intermediary of the panels you may be picturing.

Derek Markham writes at TreeHugger, “Solar energy promises to be one of the backbones of our clean energy future, and its most well-known application is probably solar photovoltaic (PV) arrays, which can produce low-carbon electricity for homes and businesses alike. However, even as solar PV efficiencies rise, and costs drop, solar electricity is still out of reach for many people, as it requires a considerable up-front investment, as well as knowledgeable designers, manufacturers, and installers.

“In the developing world, small-scale solar, which can be used for lighting and charging mobile devices, is one of the solar technologies within reach of low-income residents, and while it can certainly fill some of the energy needs of people (such as a clean light source to replace kerosene, and to keep cell phones charged up), it’s only one piece of the energy puzzle.

“Another larger energy demand is for producing heat, whether it’s for cooking or water sterilization, which is often met by using electricity (at the risk of regular blackouts and high costs) or wood (which contributes to deforestation and indoor air pollution), but there is a viable and sustainable alternative solution in the form of solar thermal technology.

“Using the sun’s rays directly, without the need for expensive and complex components, is a perfect fit for quite a bit of the developing world’s energy needs, as well as being an appropriate technology even in First World countries. …

GoSol is demonstrating what is possible with several pilot projects, including a solar bakery and a peanut butter cooperative in Kenya, and is offering up plans for its solar concentrator at a very reasonable cost. …

“The GoSol Sol4 uses 4 square meters of mirrors to produce an estimated solar thermal output of 2 kW (said to be roughly equal to a standard gas stove) at a construction cost of between $350 and $500 USD (depending on whether recycled or new materials are used), and can pay for itself in the developing world within a year.” More here.

Simple and smart. Makes me think of Boy Scouts learning to start a fire with a magnifying glass that focuses the sun’s rays. GoSol sounds creative.

Photo: GoSol

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I saved up this one until it was cool enough outside to talk about heating systems.

Liz Stinson writes at Wired, “Commercial buildings account for 20 percent of the national energy consumption—a big number on its own, but stunning when you consider that often, those buildings are half empty.

“A new project from MIT’s Senseable City Lab is looking to decrease the amount of wasted energy by creating hyper-localized beams of heat. Called Local Warming, the prototype system uses LED bulbs to beam direct rays of infrared light onto people. This is in direct contrast to HVAC systems, which blanket entire spaces with hot or cool air, regardless of how many people are present.

“MIT’s system is rigged to the ceiling, like highly-efficient track lighting. Using a WiFi-enabled tracking system, the lights can sense when a human is present and will beam infrared heat down like a spotlight. ‘It’s almost like having a your personal sun,’ says Carlo Ratti, a professor in the Senseable City Lab.

“The current prototype is on display at the Venice Architecture Biennale until November. It features a large infrared bulb surrounded by rotating mirrors that can direct the light in a focused beam. It’s bulky—hardly the type of thing you’d like in your home—but Ratti envisions future prototypes will use smaller LEDs for a more compact aesthetic.”

Read more at Wired

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