The Daily Feed

Solar Decathlon 2011

Photo courtesy of
‘Solar Decathlon winner’
courtesy of ‘afagen’

If you need something interesting to do this weekend, why not head over to the National Building Museum to check out the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2011 Finalists: A Special Presentation.  The exhibition will present the schematic designs for solar-powered houses from the 20 finalists competing in the 2011 Solar Decathlon.

Cheer on your favorite collegiate team as they try to secure a spot on the Mall!

Admission to the National Building Museum is free.

We Green DC

Four Seasons Tests Way to Make Green Energy from Cars

Photo courtesy of
‘Making energy on the go’
courtesy of ‘snapzdc’

Some day soon, you might power a streetlight simply by driving under it.

The technology that could make that happen was tested yesterday at the entrance to the Four Seasons Hotel in Georgetown, with a special speed bump laid out in the driveway.

Called MotionPower, this first-of-its-kind energy harvester will convert a car’s motion into electricity. It’s meant for areas where people are slowing down, such as intersections, toll booths, garages, and the like.

Here’s how it works. Metal flaps in the roadway point up diagonally, with the lifted end farthest from oncoming cars. When a car rolls over them, they flatten down — and capture kinetic energy that otherwise would be wasted as brake heat.

The side benefit? It helps slow vehicles, and causes less wear and tear on the car, said Meetesh V. Patel, President and CEO of the Maryland-based company that developed the system, New Energy Technologies, Inc.
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Thrifty District

Thrifty District: Cold Weather Heating Bills, OH NO!

Photo courtesy of
‘Icy Sunshine on Photowalk’
courtesy of ‘Mr. T in DC’

Many DC residents saw spikes of hundreds of dollars in their utility bills last month that Pepco is basing on the unusually cold weather we’re having- even if you keep your heat low, your heater has to work harder to keep your home at a consistent temperature, so demand for power most likely spiked last month, too.

So… how do you stay snug and toasty when money might be tight? If you’re a single-family homeowner in the District, a good place to start would be with the DC Department of the Environment’s free home energy auditing service, available to all DC residents regardless of income.  This audit can point out a variety of ways to increase your home’s energy efficiency, including the really simple ones like “Put more insulation over there,” or “OH MY GOD how long has it been since you weatherstripped your back door?” Even if you’re a renter, the DOE’s energy audit information contains many suggestions for investigating where energy is being wasted.  (I kid you not, DC DOE has a Facebook Fan Page. Who do they think they are, us?)  You can also find lots of DIY home auditing information at   Continue reading