Category Archives: Electric

Shining bright

Ongoing discussions about sustainability and the need to be more eco-conscious often describe the problem at large without really giving solutions that most of us can implement on a day-to-day basis. It often leaves the person on the other side of the discussion feeling helpless and puts him/her into a state of paralysis analysis. In such cases, a bottom-up approach might work more effectively compared to a top-down one.

Rather than tell someone who’s willing to listen how we need to reduce our CO2 emissions by 80%, wouldn’t it maybe be better to start off by educating them about simple steps that each one of us could implement towards reaching that goal? For example, the simple act of changing our normal bulbs to more efficient CFL (Compact Fluorescent Lightbulbs) could end up reducing the energy consumption by 76%.

Sure, just changing our light bulbs isn’t going to solve all the problems, but at least it’s a start. In our quest for radical changes and big steps, we often forget that a series of small steps can often be just as effective, if not more. And before you go about dismissing the idea, if all the light bulbs in the US were changed, $600 million could be saved annually in energy costs – enough to power 3 million US homes for a year.

Who killed the Electric car? And Why?

Back in 1996, GM came out with the EV1, one of the most successful mass produced electric cars. Toyota and Honda too launched the RAV4-EV and EV+ respectively. Over 1100 EV1’s were produced and leased out to their happy lessees, with hundreds more waiting patiently on the lists.

Then in 2002, almost suddenly, GM decided to call back all its electric cars and to discontinue the production of electric cars. Amidst customer protests, GM decided recall and scrap all the EV1 cars, stating not enough public interest electric cars to ever make them profitable. Quite a dubious claim, given that there were thousands on the waiting lists for their electric cars.

Why then did these big car companies pull the plug on electric vehicles, even though they showed significant potential? They succumbed to pressure: Pressure from the multi-billion oil industry, pressure from the spare-part industry which felt threatened by electric cars (which have almost no moving parts apart from the motor), but most importantly pressure from itself. Electric cars posed a threat to the whole model of the Auto Industry, and a change to which they were not prepared.

Save those Kilowatts

Electricity powers most of our lives today; at home, work or maybe even in transit (if you’re driving around in an electric vehicle). It is a significant cause of emissions, contributing greatly to Global Warming.

While our economies make the gradual transition to cleaner, renewable sources of power generation, we can play an important part by using electricity more intelligently. Did you know chargers and other devices that remain plugged in the wall socket still consume significant electricity, even when not used?

This phenomenon, called Phantom load or vampire power accounts for about 5% of our total electricity consumption. A simple way to avoid this is to pick up a power strip with an on-off button. They are available at all hardware stores, computer stores or even online. Getting one of these is inexpensive and will significantly decrease your electricity use. It’s an easy first step; why not give it a go?