How to reduce your carbon footprint…and save money

 Latest trends
Going green and become energy efficient doesn’t just help save the planet, it also saves money. Scott Murray, electrical sales administrator with Mega Systems gives The Journal the most up-to-date information when it comes to greening homes in Cayman. Second in a series of articles.
Are renewable energy systems easy to install and run?
Renewable energy systems should be designed and installed by trained professionals primarily due to the voltages that can be involved in this modern equipment. There is very little maintenance to perform on an installed solar PV system as there are few moving parts. Operating the system can be as simple as monitoring the system performance on a regular basis and possibly having to rinse of the panels occasionally to remove dirt or debris.
Other energy efficiency measures can be implemented quite easily. Converting to energy efficient lighting is as simple as replacing an incandescent bulb with an LED bulb, no special wiring or tools are required. LED bulbs use up to 80 per cent less energy than conventional bulbs and run cool, thus reducing on your air conditioning costs as well.

What are the latest trends in greening a home, and looking forward?

Using the whole house concept to design and construct Net Zero energy buildings is the way of the future. The whole-house systems approach considers the interaction between the occupants, the building site, climate and other elements or components of the home and how they can be designed to achieve a building that provide for all of its energy needs.

Many of our customers are looking to achieve this through a combination of energy efficient measures and technologies which include, but are not limited to; Solar, Solar Hot Water, Wind Turbines and LED Lighting Systems.

How proactive are your customers in being green? Do they need educating or are they teaching you?
Most of the clients approaching us have done a fair amount of research into energy efficiency and energy independence. These clients understand that a clean-energy system can offer a degree of autonomy from the existing status quo of energy providers.
The Governments duty waiver program for RE technologies is a major step forward in encouraging the use of these technologies and moving the islands towards a more diversified, secure energy source and away from the 100 per cent dependence of foreign oil imports for our energy needs. If there is any uncertainty from our clients it tends to relate to the lack of a long term national energy policy that supports and encourages the integration of RE into the national energy supply and the absence of cohesive and consistent policies and bylaws at the BCU and Planning Departments.

Please tell us more about the latest trends.
Energy independence and security are important components of national security and energy strategies. Today, Cayman’s power is generated by a massive centralised plant, and electricity moved along transmission lines. Getting off of foreign oil means minimising energy consumption through energy conservation and efficiency, and generating energy from local, renewable sources, such as wind, solar or other geographically appropriate technologies such as ocean thermal energy conversion . Additionally, using distributed energy systems adds to building resiliency during times of natural disaster where the current electrical infrastructure is damaged.

Light Emitting Diodes
There is no reason anyone should be using the standard household incandescent anymore, it’s far too inefficient to be used anywhere. In fact, many countries are passing bills to outlaw the incandescent bulb. As residential appliances and HVAC systems become more efficient, lighting is making up a larger portion of a home’s electric bill.

Halo 6” LED Module
Amongst the most popular LED products carried by MSL is the 6” LED down light manufactured by Halo. This unit can be used in both new construction and can also be installed in existing 6” housing. The 14W module will replace standard 65W Incandescent bulbs and has full dimming capabilities.

4’ LED T8
The 18W 4’ LED Tube is being used in many commercial applications to replace existing 40W fluorescent tubes. This LED product has many benefits when compared to standard lamps.

• No mercury
• No UV or RF interference
• Wide voltage operation (110v ~ 277v)
• High shock and vibration resistant
• Will work flawlessly in refrigerator/freezer applications
• 65 per cent+ energy savings on your utility bill
• No flickering and no noise
• Built to protect against overload and current fluctuations
• Humidity resistant
• Passed rigorous factory temperature, humidity and shock testing
• No ballast required
• Additional HVAC savings as you are eliminating the heat from your typical fluorescent tube.

Photovoltaic, or solar-electric, systems capture light energy from the sun’s rays and convert it into electricity. Today these solar units power everything from small homes to large office buildings. Technological improvements have made solar-electric modules more cost-effective.
At the moment there is a tremendous amount of money being invested into research and development of renewable energy technologies and their associated systems. There is a constant stream of new materials and improvements in existing technologies being introduced almost monthly throughout the field. In the solar field, new materials are showing promise in increasing solar module efficiency, testing close to 40 per cent efficiency in converting available solar energy to DC current. Inverter efficiencies are approaching 98 per cent in converting DC from solar modules into the AC currents required for use in your home or business. A great deal of research goes into improving and creating new means of energy storage which will help reduce the intermittent nature or solar and wind technologies. These areas include regenerative hydrogen and fuel cells, flow batteries, super capacitors, flywheel technology and pumped hydro.

Another area of effort is in developing biofuels to reduce and eventually replace our dependence on foreign imports of fossil fuels. Fuels derived from organic material such as algae, tobacco, corn, sugar cane and used vegetable oil.

Currently, there are over 200 small private companies in the United States alone working on introducing an electric vehicle to the commercial market in one form or another.

On the utility front the push for smart grids and smart meters which consist of an intelligent monitoring system that keeps track of all electricity flowing in the system. It also incorporates the use of superconductive transmission lines for less power loss, as well as the capability of integrating alternative sources of electricity such as solar and wind.

Energy efficiency and conservation goes hand-in-hand with renewable energy technologies.
There is renewed interest in designing and building green, energy efficient healthy buildings with the realisation that an energy efficiency improvement is a gift that keeps on giving. Even small reductions in energy consumption translate into smaller utility bills. For the facility owner, money saved is money that can be spent elsewhere (or set aside).

Read more on solar next month.


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